Wildflowers

A year ago I was preparing to lead a session at the Redemption Hill Church Women’s Conference on body image. It was a fruitful season for me, because I was forced to examine my own heart on the issue and encouraged by the truth I was studying to help me prepare.

12 months, 1 baby, a handful of stretch marks, and 15 extra pregnancy pounds later, I find myself in need of preparing for another session.

I could not fall asleep last night. I just kept thinking about what I looked like, and honestly a bit sad for my husband. Attending a wedding of dear friends this weekend, I laid there thinking of how beautiful I felt on my wedding day. Trying to communicate these burdens to Jon right before bed was extremely difficult. But before falling asleep, he told me he loved me more now than on that day and that I was lovely.

Lovely- adj. exquisitely beautiful

Years ago, I would have been so thankful to be called that by a man I care for so deeply.

However, in my mind, presently, this is how it plays out. Lovely. A lovely, little wildflower growing at the foot of a sexy, exciting, super attractive billboard I might pass on the highway. Yeah. One simple, real, lovely wildflower in the shadow of endless, sexual, real or fake, enticing advertisements.

I have always battled with finding contentment in who I am and what I look like compared to what the world says is better. To be even more transparent, this past week, I have been incredibly convicted of how I see myself. This might be when I am walking down the street, at the gym, among friends, alone in my thoughts or when, sadly, I am pursuing my husband. I imagine myself as the person I want to be. The image on the billboard. The jean advertisement. Maybe even some quick clip of someone I saw in a movie. How can I pursue my husband with genuine love when all I am thinking of is myself? I vowed to my husband in front of God and 170 witnesses to “pursue purity by guarding against temptations that destroy our unity and loyalty to one another.” And I have failed gravely. I am thankful for a gracious husband who continues to love me even when I have such selfish actions to confess to him.

For the believer, we can rest in how He has created us as sons and daughters. A people with purpose. A people made much more attractive by how we love and serve to reflect his image and display his magnificent glory when pursuing holiness than by our physical appearance.  This is something that far endures the short season of a nice figure. As much as it is easier for me to write than believe, this is truth.

I am writing this out to bring to light how I have neglected to examine my own heart when pursuing my husband in intimacy. However, I hope my confessions drive others to think about how what we see, watch, and meditate on affects the way we see ourselves, prioritize our values, and care for others.

-k

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Should we Stay or Should we Go?

I had the opportunity two weeks ago to meet many people from Jon’s family I had never met before. Unfortunately, it was because Jon’s Papa passed away after a short battle with cancer. Fortunately, we did not only have to grieve his absence, but rejoice in his reunion with his Lord and Savior. As I shook the hands of aunts, uncles, and cousins and saw others being reunited for the first time in years, I wondered why we were all now just getting together. Wouldn’t have Papa loved for all his family to surround him when he was present?

Back in the spring, my mom asked me what our plans were for leaving DC and returning to the Carolinas— the question we no longer dread because if we did, we would grow weary every week. My mom told me that her hope/expectation that we would return if Dad’s cancer came back with a vengeance next time around. Sure, of course, I want Jack to know his Pappy. I should spend time with Dad, especially when I am reminded that he won’t be here forever.

Why is it that when we really remember and mediate on the truth from James 4—that we are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”—we desire to be close. We want to forgive. We wished we had spent more time together. I am thankful that we sometimes get those last opportunities to avoid regret.

After this week, I feel pressure, again, to ask myself whether or not I am passing up an opportunity to avoid regret by continuing to live 8 hours away from home. Should I take advantage of the fact that I love being with my family and spend a lifetime in the same state, or do I have a healthy balance of holiday visits, hour-long FaceTime chats, and vacations?

It could be that our years or lifetime in DC are not a selfish life choice. It could be a time to trust that God has me in the right place for the perfect duration, as long as I continually pray for His will to be done and to trust it will work itself out.

If this life isn’t really it. Then living around the corner or across the world shouldn’t matter all that much if we are followers of Jesus. Right?

-k

Too Cool

Earlier this month, I took my mentee, Juvontae, out for lunch and a trip to the International Spy Museum. With bellies full on Shake Shack, we worked our way through the museum and Juvontae quite enjoyed the challenge of trying to crack a 4-digit code by crawling through a maze filled with jumbled letters and numbers to pick out the right ones. Like every good museum, at the end of the exhibits you’re dumped into the gift shop – one last ploy for you to drop a few dollars. Now, I certainly remember how it went when I was a kid: I wanted to browse around and pick out the toy I needed most. Sure, I could use my own spending money if I had to, but I was leaving with something. Mom and dad rarely saw it quite the same way. Regardless of whose money was at stake, my running up to them, toy in hand, was more frequently than not met with “you don’t need that” or “put that back, we’re not buying anything today.” And it was true, I didn’t need that, whatever it was. I probably had something like it at home. Or, it was probably a piece of junk.

Well, Juvontae plowed into that gift shop with the same mentality I had as a kid: I need something from here. I warily indulged the browsing around for a while. And then, he found it. A voice-changing toy megaphone that could make you sound like anything from Donald Duck to the Hulk. I immediately channeled my parents: “what do you need that for? You don’t need that. Come on, we gotta go. My parking meter is running out.” I won that argument, but he wasn’t happy about it. The whole way to the car, I got one-word replies, shifty eyes, and a mopey walk…because he couldn’t buy that megaphone with his own money. I asked him why he wanted it so bad, which led to the response: “because it’s cool.” I replied, “Okay, but are you really worse off now because you don’t have that toy?” He confidently retorted, “yes.” Our conversation actually went pretty deep from there, talking about whether cool things make us cool people – the kind of people that other people like to like. By the time I dropped Juvontae off, I was fairly satisfied, because we had been able to have a really meaningful conversation about how our stuff doesn’t really give us status, or “coolness” – our value is not in things here, but in things above.

Debriefing with Kristy at home about the outing, I said that while I didn’t really get the chance to talk about a few Bible verses with Juvontae over lunch (which I had intended to do), we ended on a really good note and a deep conversation. Kristy probed a bit: “why didn’t you bring up the Bible at lunch?” I replied, “I just couldn’t find the right moment to bring up the topic. Juvontae was talkative about other things the whole time. It was pretty crowded and I kinda felt rushed.”

Hmm…there it is. As it turns out, Juvontae and I had a similar problem that day. Whereas Juvontae was worried about getting that cool toy he wanted (and when he didn’t get it, he felt like he wasn’t cool), I wasn’t willing to be seen as awkward, or boring, or old-fashioned, or uncool in the eyes of a fourth grader for injecting the Bible into our conversation. My excuses were exactly that. Excuses. I was too cool to direct our conversation to the gospel. It wasn’t about lack of opportunity; it was entirely about my pride. The natural brokenness of setting my heart on worthless things as a child translates into the same as an adult…even if the object has changed.

A dose of humility for this prideful heart. It was good for me. The gospel is worth the cost of my coolness.

J.

Blog Accountability

I am writing this post with my future self in mind. Over the next 18 years (and beyond) there will be many days when I worry about my son. I will want Jack to stay close so that I can protect him. I will want to control certain situations so that I can lessen the chance of him getting hurt or even making mistakes. At least, my intention will be for those results.

This week I have been reminded that God is ultimately in control. One of the passages I read in Job walks through God’s knowledge and work in aspects of life even when we haven’t thought of them or been in contact with them.

These are some of the examples God gives. He protects the animals of the wild. He knows the cycle of when mountain goats give birth–as my husband praised during prayer this week following our reading. He watches the young deer grow up in the open field and leave their families. He sees the ostrich lay their eggs on the ground and they are safe. He has commanded the wild hawk to station up on a tall tree in wait for his meal to move, so that he can provide for him and his young.

Right now, God knows the number of hairs on Jackson’s head. Even if I cannot feel Jack move sometimes, God knows every kick. At this point, I haven’t been able to teach Jack a single lesson and yet, he is living, breathing, eating, and moving. The Lord has him even if he is inside me. I am reminded how intimately God already knows Jackson even though we haven’t met him. God is his ultimate father and protector, and during this season of pregnancy I have learned this truth. I will need to be reminded of this many times once I meet my son.

Cancer.

Jon and I will have a salad for lunch today. CANCER. Walk to school, its colder than I thought today. CANCER. Good Morning, yeah I plan on going to Literacy night, see you at lunch. CANCER. Lesson planning time, Ill turn on some music. Man, I love this new Lumineers song. CANCER. CANCER. CANCER.

This my thought process the past few weeks. On Thursday February 18, my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma of his Appendix. I have never had to really deal with sickness this close to me before.

Nor have I experienced true grieving. It is a real thing. For us as a family, it has been so good for us to talk it out and cry it out. Cassie (my sister) and I have realized a closeness that a family can have. Even in how we grieve similarly. We have the same thought processes, and I know she understands my hurt. She is the only other person who is a daughter of our Dad. She remembers the certain things Dad does and memories of him when we were little. I cannot dig too deep into that yet.

I am thankful for one thing. This new journey is not in vain. I see how it has brought our family closer and made my Dad’s trust in the Lord stronger. I have prayed for that last request for many years. I did not picture that a battle with Cancer would be the means of doing that, but if so, to God be the glory.

-k

 

A Season in Snapshots

August: To celebrate 1 year of marriage, Jon and I packed up “Sir Lancelot” our rental Lancer and hit the open roads of Cali. Here is a picture of our route and a few other favorites.

Screen shot 2016-02-15 at 6.35.32 PM.png

 

 

September: I almost want to laugh following that up with this video. In late September, we learned about a new adventure we were about to set out on.

Appreciate the freeze frame for a second. 🙂

 

October: And this was the response.

We also had our first ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. I also had the opportunity to speak at Redemption Hill’s Women’s Conference.

November: One of Jon’s best friends from college and his sweet wife came to visit. We took advantage of free museums for Bank of America customers on the first weekend of the month and explored the Newseum. This month was also filled with nightmare, anxiety, and twitter updates on terrorism. The dangers in the world didn’t seem as far away as they often do. My false sense of security was challenged.

December: After some pretty difficult moments at school, I had an awesome conversation with 5 of my 8th grade boys. Following a TedTalk about Education. Most of my boys don’t have fathers in their lives that truly love them. It was an opportunity to share with them that there is perfect Father that loves them and His love his steadfast. I have more to say on this topic, but this sweet moment was very encouraging.

January: On the 4th, we found out that we would be welcoming Jackson Paul McCay into this world in just a few months. It was such an exciting moment. I thought for sure Grace Elizabeth would come first, but my motherly instinct is still getting acclimated.

Jackson2

February: Jon went on an awesome work trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. I went on a less adventurous but just as enjoyable trip to Columbia to be with my family. I couldn’t venture to the Caribbean out fear of the Zika virus. I had some good ole sister bonding time and southern food.

USVI

 

And now you’re all caught up!

-k

 

 

A Time to Celebrate

I am very thankful to have married Jon one year ago today. It was the best day of my life for many reasons. To name a few–All the people I loved were together in one place, Jon and I made a covenant, and we were able to proclaim who Jesus is and the purpose of marriage in front of 150 of our closest friends and family.

Over the past 12 months, we have tried to be a bit vulnerable over our blog talking about what we are learning, and I want to take today to continue the routine. I will be honest when I say that I don’t mean this to advertise “my perfect life” or glorify the idea of marriage. There is a time to be real and a time to celebrate, so I want to take some time to be real but joyful about what awesome things I have seen over the past 12 months.

Over the past 12 months:

  • I have seen jealousy lose the battle over my mind. I have learned to trust Jon. This is partly due to the fact that Jon does such a great job of reminding me of how much Jesus loves me and he does too.
  • I have seen Jon fight sin full on and openly confess specific struggles with me.
  • I have had a closer partner, to lay bare my shame and guilt, who has diligently reminded me that because Jesus has died on the cross I do not have shame and guilt.
  • We have realized our inward focus and moved in the direction of pursuing people more.
  • We have learned the importance of talking about our expectations so that we know how to serve one another better while also allowing  those pesky unrealistic/unhelpful expectations to come to the surface.
  • I have seen Jon step up and speak truth to people even when it could have jeopardized his relationships.

And though I am celebrating all these, I have also come to a new realization. One that I am not proud of but one that I hope to be celebrating change next year at this time. More than any other proclamation, I want to tell everyone how well Jon loves me. I want to tell them about the specific things he does and says that honestly make me feel like a beautiful, pure princess. How he has learned to serve me so well without me sometimes even needing to talk about it. But those words cannot save people. At most they will make Jon sound high and mighty, and at least will cause jealousy or envy. Neither is helpful. What they need to hear from me is how God forgives someone that struggles to forgive others. Someone who judges, manipulates, and can be greedy. Someone who cares more about herself than even her loving husband. They need to hear that God fully knows them and fully loves them more than any person can. That is what I should be desiring to tell everyone. That is who I should be boasting about. For its because of those things that Jon and I can even have true love for one another. I am thankful for this recent awareness of unbelief.

So here is to one year J! I look forward to living life with you in the coming year and look forward to having new lessons and truths to share with others.

-k