Restless

I come to this little wedge of the interweb that I call my own quite frequently. And I stare. Words in my head, things to say, and it all becomes too much. Overwhelming.

The past doesn’t have to define us or box us in, but we have to let it change us. Mold us. Make us better. Tis also true for this little blank canvas. So today I redefine, reclaim these words that tell my story. A new story, or well, new chapters:

I want to write. I want to hike. I want to build my etsy shop. I want to travel. I want to buy a house. I want to be debt free. I want to go back to school. I want to volunteer. I want to start a small business. I want to be sustainable. I want to be a rockstar mom. I want to be a rockstar wife. I want to live simply. I want to cook good food. I want to bring people joy. I want to be able to say yes. I want to be able to say no. I want to read good books. I want to write a book. I want to help people. I want to feel good. I want to share life with the people I love. I want to belly laugh. I want to celebrate the seasons. I want a greenhouse. I want to have a market table. I want to spin yarn. I want chickens.

Where is the line (and I am sure it is oh so fine) between being content with your rhythm in life and being bold enough to disrupt the music to change the tune a bit?

A new friend recently asked me, “So what do you like to do?”

At that moment I started sweating. I don’t like to sweat, it just happened. How do I tell a new friend, in one hundred words or less, what I like to do? What do I like to do?

We shall see…

Sometimes I feel a bit schizophrenic, all over the place. Everywhere but here. Like if a strong wind blew through I might just up and float away.

Someone needs to attach a tether, fall is just around the corner.

Freedom

(Disclaimer: Firstly, I am grateful to live in a country where I have the freedom of speech, expression, and creativity – to share my thoughts and opinions in a public(ish) forum without fear.  Secondly, this post may read unpatriotic, but that is not my intention, just happens to be where my heart is.)

In the words of my friends Shane and Shane:

For freedom you’ve set me free,

And yes, I am free indeed.

You rewrote my name,

unshackled my shame,

You opened my eyes to see

that I am free.

So this song has nothing to do with Benjamin Franklin or George Washington or any of those other fellas who wore weird hair. It’s not about the promise of forefathers or any current or historic politicians for world peace or a better economy or an increase in national employment or security. The writing (or rewriting) isn’t referencing any bills, amendments, laws, etc. that outline the do’s and don’ts of society.

No, this freedom is much… freer. And, it is for everyone.

Because the price, the biggest sacrifice the world has ever seen, has already happened. And it can’t be renegotiated or voted on or changed to include or leave out any group or individual.

What a relief.

I’ve been in an intense season of spiritual pruning over the past several months (I guess almost two years now – wow!) and have come to realize that our only true freedom is love. That big, abundant, all-encompassing love that sets you so free that no matter the state of this country, our society, your very own heart – you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Free.

A free that lets you breathe. A free that lets you love.  A free that lets you extend grace. A free that lets you receive grace. A free that lets you forgive. A free that lets you find things new every morning. A free that lets you restore and reconcile yourself to him. A free that lets you take leaps of faith.

Leaps that take you places you never knew you would go, could go. Leaps that cross state lines…

When we ventured back to North Carolina in February we came with big, vulnerable hearts – opening ourselves wide for whatever God laid out for us. When not but a year before we felt so broken and dejected that some days I wasn’t even sure which way was up, I never could have imagined how bountiful the promises would pour out.

First, there’s this place:

slider-img4

And these people who feel like family:942253_10103067246959353_1913024684_nAnd these folks who have stolen my heart:

1013972_10103192836541823_1018174392_n

And these loves who have prayed and loved us through every leap, big and small:

66759_530303213646624_186467713_n

And people who encourage me to create and pursue small business dreams:

941735_10103018641599883_251403992_n

And the miles and miles of possibilities of new-found freedom:

598611_441920435818236_1723311554_n

For freedom has set me free.  And yes, I am free indeed. He rewrote my name, unshackled my shame. He opened my eyes to see, that I am free.

Free.

Veni, Vidi, Ricci

I wish I could say I promise more words later, but alas, that would make me a liar. So photos will have to do – and let’s be serious, that’s all anyone really wants to peruse on this here blog. Chris and I trekked to Jacksonville a few weeks back for a family wedding/anniversary/hang out with good people. Per usual, we went and hung out with this funky bunch and a few of our faves, the Riccis. I may adore them a little… or a lot.

Asher
Avery
Noah

Tanner

So, Ricci’s, ya’ll ready to head west so we can do this every day? :)

Judah, not pictured here, is the oldest. He had important business of school to tend to for such backyard shenaniganizing.

Weathered

This post if for me. The inner part of me that loves this blog and the life it reflects. And it’s time to get back to that…

This little place on the interweb has been a place of great avoidance for many months now. I’ve updated on the happy changes and good moments as I felt I could, but even that has felt somewhat forced. You see, there’s a gaping hole, a season of hurt, frustration, anger, fear, sadness, brokenness, the feeling of you just don’t know how much more you can handle before you break that has never surfaced here. (I have a knot in my throat as I type this – choking back too familiar tears and emotions.) Because this has been my comfort place, the place that chronologs my family’s simple little life to be able to share together for years to come… and I haven’t, until now, wanted to upset that rhythm.

Hence the avoidance.

But it’s time. To reconcile with the past and be present in the now. It’s time to move forward and continue the journey of this little blog when I first started it. To do that, I have to go back.

Disclaimer: This will be rough. Very, very intense. If you are an expecting mama, you may not want to continue, and I will not be offended. If you share close ties with the camp in east TN I reference, you may not want to continue. Again, I will not be offended.

11.11.11

Doctor’s appointment to see baby #2. Heartbeat is strong, tests are normal. We are joyful. We will be a family of four in May.

Lunch at Chikfila. Phone call from the director, needs to meet with Chris in the afternoon. We ponder the subject matter of the meeting…

Arrive home, go lay down. Chris goes to meeting. I am awoken by the opening of the door. Chris comes in, sees that I am resting and quietly tries to go back out. I call him back, wanting to hear about the meeting.

Nothing ever could have prepared me for those words.

“I just got fired.”

Hysterics. I can’t breathe, my heart rate is through the roof. Chris tries to calm me down, a panic attack is not the best for baby. Still can’t breathe. Rage. I’m ready to put my shoes on and head to the door, to right this unfathomable wrong. It’s wrong. The whole thing is just wrong. And I know who is responsible. And they aren’t going to get away with it.

Our jobs, gone. Our home, gone. Our income, gone. Insurance, gone. Our life, gone.

Here we are, three months pregnant with a two year old with nothing to our name.

“I have two weeks pay and we can stay through the end of December.”

How thoughtful.

I’ve got to get out of here. I have to go.

We make some phone calls, pack the car with as much as we could fit and head to the cabin. I need to breathe, we need to think, regroup.

A few days spent in the mountains making plans. Many jobs applied for. No real direction. Both sets of parents and siblings willing to help however they can. We want to make it on our own, we want to stand on our own two feet, but we know that’s not realistic. Not at this point.

Anger builds. How could someone single-highhandedly be capable of such distrust, dishonesty, deception?

It’s disheartening that things continue to unfold and unravel over the coming days – like salt on an open wound.

And I won’t stand to be bullied, for my family to be pushed around. It’s not right.

I have words with her. She needs to know the magnitude of what she’s done. I want her to lose sleep at night. I want her to feel even a fraction of the brokenness that we are facing. She needs to know what her words have done, the dreams they have greyed, and that there are PEOPLE, real PEOPLE with feelings and a heart that want an explanation, that need to be able to move on.

As expected, she’s cold. Tells me she’s cried more tears than I have over this. Indicates that they’ve known for a year or more that this was coming. That the “severance package” is generous with two weeks pay – that’s plenty of time to find a new career, she says. She considers us to be like family.

I want to vomit. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to disappear. To wake up from this nightmare.

All I can say: I hope your family never treats you the way you have treated us.

I walk out.

In the coming week, friends & family come from near and far to help us pack our life into a big yellow truck, to say their goodbyes – to you I am eternally grateful. I have to say goodbye to my chickens & my beloved coop finds a new home (in good hands).

We head to Pensacola, FL with my mom and dad, with only a sketch of a plan, hinged on good and faithful friends with providing each of us with work. We will live in the home I grew up in under the comfort and protection of my parents until we can stand on our own. This could take weeks, months, years. This is where our son will call home and we will welcome new baby in the spring. This will be our new normal.

12.19.11

First doctor’s appointment in Pensacola with new doctor – 18 weeks along. (Funny enough it’s with the same practice I used ten years before.) Chris comes along, as he usually does. Discuss with the doctor our desire for a natural childbirth, what Noah’s birth was like, how I’ve been feeling, what my first few appointments in Knoxville told us.

After chatting, Doctor wants to listen to the baby’s heart. We are looking forward to hearing it as well, since we haven’t been in the doctor’s office since November.

He puts orb on my belly. Moves it around.

Can’t hear it yet.

Repositions on other side of belly. Moves around.

Silence.

I start to cry. Chris pulls in close. I know in the core of my being it’s not good.

Repositions one more time.

Nothing.

I’m sorry, Elizabeth and Chris.

I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t move. I just can’t.

We are ushered down the hall to the ultrasound room, Chris literally providing my stability,  to confirm what we know to be true. I’ve never felt more shame, more alone, more grief than those twenty steps down the hall.

There he is, tiny precious baby, his sweet profile just as we had seen weeks before.

No movement, no small flicker in his chest.

We go back down that hall to hear from the doctor what is next.

I am back in that familiar place of nothing could have ever prepared me for what was next.

You will have to deliver the baby. You are too far along to do it in the office. Go home, take some time, and we will talk again tomorrow. 

We walk out of the office, it is nighttime outside now. We get into the car. We don’t make it but a mile before we are both sobbing uncontrollable tears. We’ve never been so sad. So, so sad. All I want to do is go home, put my arms around Noah, and never let go.

We walk through the front door. My dad greets us first. He knows something is not right. We tell him what we know. The five of us sit, embracing, on the living room floor, without words. Noah knows his mama is sad and wants to be close. Grits stands at the steps, looking on lovingly how only she could when things were not as they should be.

12.22.12

It’s midnight when we check in to the Labor and Delivery ward. It feels eerie to come in with the cover of the darkness of night. We say a few words to the desk, they are expecting us. We are escorted to our room. Just Chris and me. No one should have to go through this with us. This is not how it’s supposed to be.

Drugs are administered, the process is underway. We try to rest.

I can’t stop my mind. The questions. The why’s.

I call to the nurse for more drugs, I can’t lay here in emotional agony waiting for the inevitable. If you know me, this is very opposite of what I desire in childbirth. I hope this will be the furthest from my childbirth experience with Noah, that those moments will never be recalled together. There is no joy in this.

Nurses and doctors in and out checking on the progress. How gravely different from the last time I was in one of these rooms. Progress in this case means the end. Not a beginning.

Twelve hours later it’s over. We look at our tiny, peaceful baby. A boy.

To an untrained eye, he was perfect. Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes. His little nose and eyes and mouth all as they should be. I am glad for this but it conjures more inquiries, more unknowns.

I can’t understand it. I try to find peace in that he is with Jesus now. That he didn’t need me to be his mama. One day I will meet him again, I will hold him tight, and tell him how I’ve loved him and thought of him since the day I knew he existed.

You are safe in the arms of our Father.

We spend a few more hours resting, but I just want to go home. We pack our few things and go.

Over the next days and weeks we are surrounded by love, support. Friends and family, as they learn the circumstance, engulf us in prayers and we know they are grieving with and for us.

In the midst of a crowd, I felt so alone. Chris was by my side each step and I am so, so grateful. But I am the only one who was physically changed. Who felt us lose him. I will never be the same. No matter how many children may or may not come after him, they will never fill the void.

I wish I could say “the end” to this season, but it’s only “the end” for now… That’s a lot to rattle around in my head and heart for one sitting.

This is good for me. To put this in words… if you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me.

Dita

Noah has a friendgirl.

He “calls” her on the phone frequently.

“hi dita. it’s noah.”

what you doing? i’m working.”

“bye bye dita. wuv you.”

Sweet, two year old Noah. Guard your heart, my boy.

And please, stay away from the cougars – no matter how cool they are.

 

Storytime

Once upon a time I was sharing an evening snack of homemade nachos with this guy:

20120604-191957.jpg

All was well with the chip + salsa + sour cream sharing rotation.

For the first dozen chips.

And when there were only three, it got a bit touchy.

My snack buddy got a tinge territorial and he acted quickly to secure what was rightfully his. (After all, he clearly was sharing with me.) He takes the three remaining chips, one after the other, and bites each of them, piling them on top of each other when he’s done.

Looking at him befuddled, he says to me: “You’re all done. These are mine.”

20120604-193331.jpg

Well, ya don’t say.

Veggie Cab

Do you wanna riiiide in the backseat of my… french fry Mercedes?

20120531-210048.jpg

I don’t mind the smell of fried goodness rolling down the highway – beats the heck out of burning holes through the ozone, depleting the non-renewable oil supply, and blowing mountains to smithereens to find something that may or may not be there.

Eat fried, save the planet.

Tricky.

On Raising Boys

20120522-192802.jpg

You can never have too many cars. Or sound effects. Or imagination.

20120522-193428.jpg

You can never spend too much time on the floor. In the dirt. In the water.

20120522-193838.jpg

And you can never, ever hangout with your daddy-o too much. Or wrestle too hard. Or snuggle too long.