The Year of ______.

2015 has ARRIVED!

Yesterday, a most gracious gift from a beloved Aunt sent me to Gene Juarez for a spa day. I felt pampered and in every way relaxed and cared for… I have never before {and probably will not for some time!} experienced luxury like that and so I savored every sugar scrub, paraffin dip, extract peel and sound of nature that washed over me.  As I waited, swathed in a cozy robe and cradling my cup of hot Market Spice tea, I reflected on 2014. It is a year I am excited to tuck behind me… but in many ways a year that will forever shape me.

I have dubbed it “The Year of Sandpaper”.  Rough and refining.

A year ago today, we were ringing in tIMG_0506he New Year in the Austrian Alps, Marshall and I doing program for a Young Life Camp for Military kids based all over Europe. I donned a ridiculous blond wig and the most hideously gorgeous purple gown, and Marshall looked dapper in an orange tux and bleached combover. We had no idea what was to come. Sometime in March we thought we would try to visit our dearest friends who had moved to Southern California and found there was not a weekend that worked until June. It was all GOOD stuff, mind you… speaking engagements and weddings and camps and leadership training and weekend retreats, but it was a lot. Thus began the non-stop craziness.

Marshall’s health tanked {blood tests galore and numerous doctors still cannot tell us what is wrong} late spring and I ruptured my achilles at the end of summer. No walking or driving for me for 3 months and my husband as the walking dead left us exhausted and raw, and clinging to the Lord and our amazing community that surrounded and babysat and shopped and drove and buoyed us in a season that could have drowned us. And then the miscarriage. Oh, and not to mention the dailies that accompany three amazing and rambunctious boys 7, 4, and 2… They are the life and the death of us many days!

And yet at some point deep in October, after learning #4 was coming but not yet learning that he wasn’t, I sat with Mary, my counselor/spiritual-director/life-coach, and she asked me to sit and listen for the Lord… we sat together and breathed deeply and stilled the noise without and within and the most clear of voices emerged from some hidden place… audible only to my spirit in a pitch and cadence I have come to savor and adore and know as the voice of my God and savior. He spoke deeply and softly, “Trust me; I’ve got this.”

The peace that surged and the giddiness in knowing that scripture is true when it says “my sheep know my voice” erupted in tears and laughter. Those words cemented in my memory covered over all that was to come.  Weeks later, still limping as I learned how to walk, an ultrasound revealed black space where there should have been a beating heart. Weeping and processing and praying and healing and thirty days of bleeding and a D&C brought us to December 29th, and days later we rung in the new year.

I would not trade this year for anything, rough as it was. I would not trade it for the refinement that came… for the sweetness that has taken over my marriage, the ways that defensiveness and snarkiness have sloughed off and made way for more grace and humor and adoration of my husband as I have seen him serve and tirelessly clean our kitchen {it has become his personal mission to keep that space immaculate}, engage and encourage and train our three little men with so little energy, and pray and lead a ministry that he loves with his whole heart and yet seems overwhelming and threatens to capture all of him.

I would not trade the hard edges that have been knocked off with regard to parenting… I am a smoother, more empathetic, more thoughtful mom. I am yelling less and listening more; I am coming closer to my favorite word picture of who I want to be as a mom: “velvet steel”. Firm and strong behind the most lovingly gentle exterior, a safe soft place to land but a heart that means business and demands character to be sown into my little men who the world is largely trying to emasculate and corrupt.

I would not trade learning the art of asking for help. An art made possible by so many who have offered Costco runs and brought last minute meals and given me rides and cared for my boys and run me to doc appointments, and so much else. You know who you are; thank you. I have found that in the asking, in the vulnerability, in the screaming out “I don’t got this!!” that I have found rich community, incredible empathy and strength. How strength could emerge from such weakness only God could orchestrate. The things of God are foolishness to man, I know that full well.

I would not trade what I have learned of vulnerability. That it breeds healing not only for me but for many. I have never felt more generous than in the wake of cracking open and sharing my story in the only way I knew how, and watched as the world responded with stories and gifts and your own journeys of renewal. You thanked me, but I thank YOU for your response, your reading and writing and weeping and praying.

I would not trade anything for the fact that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I have noticed that many of my recent posts have had a tone of melancholy in them, but can I just say that if you do not know me, a coach of mine once nicknamed me perma-grin, and I laugh A LOT. I love to laugh and play and speak in accents and my boys ask for Mrs. Flufferbottom regularly {their “resident science teacher from London”} and I verge on inappropriate and love that I have people in my life that can go from the deepest of things to the most elementary of humor in a heartbeat. I got all insecure for a second that you thought my life was very sad, but it really is peppered and laced with so much joy.

I would not trade grasping more deeply and living more fully out of the most undeserved, gracious, faithful, saving love of Jesus. I love him with my whole heart and I trust Him with and through anything. He is not the source of my pain. He is the source of my life within the pain. And he is the way to healing and wholeness and joy and gratitude… my favorite new word this year is from Glennon Melton Doyle: perspectacles.

If God has given me anything in these past months, it is perspectacles. Eyes to see from a new vantage point, into a new reality, with new appreciation for all that I have, all that I am, all that I am becoming.

10898250_10100399756805956_4248123083710963506_nAs we were off to a “White Out” NYE Party, Marsh and I talked of what lies ahead. This coming year, Marsh has dubbed, “The Year of Rest”. What that means, we do not yet know. We are on some adventure to figure out what is restful and rejuvenating in the midst of the chaos that is life. For me, to rest is to write. To rest in the truths I know, and those that form as my heart and mind and spirit mingle in some deep place and spill out of my fingers onto the page. So this year I hope to write. A lot. And I hope you will come with me on this journey. I hope to ask you questions and pose crazy ideas and grow together. Some of you I know, some of you I don’t, but I hope we will become friends and I will get to learn a bit more of you.

The next several days, there will be a question a day reflecting on the past year. And then several to form hopes and dreams for the coming year. Let us ponder together what has been and what will come…



4 thoughts on “The Year of ______.

  1. Velvet Steel,
    I love reading each of your posts. Each time, I find myself so grateful that God brought you to doing this. After being together at Malibu and just wishing life with little boys had granted us more rock throwing time to talk, I feel like I get a little of that with each post.
    Also, been listening to Jill Phillip’s new record- Mortar and Stone- and God has brought you to mind each time that I have listened to it. I find myself uttering your name to Jesus, as only He knows why He brings you to mind. So maybe grab a copy and see what’s there.
    Here’s to more rock throwing, resting and savoring.

    Liked by 1 person

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