Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019. BRUH.

I have a 13 year old son. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, but 13 year old boys should be some type of mass-scale anthropological case study. They are funny and smart and quick-witted, and make you beam with pride. They are also mutant-rebels, and in their bropinion, you are, in fact, the dumbest human on planet earth. They have the same baby face they always had, they just now have the beginnings of facial hair. They used to have sweet soft giggles, but now they have deep husky chuckles like James Earl Jones {if and when they ever let you see them laugh}. The status of laundry has not changed, but the amount they leave on the floor has exponentially multiplied.






Our house often has teen boys in it, and their speech rubs off. I also happen to work as a social worker in a part of town that is directly adjacent to skid row. My vocab has hints of hillbilly twang, a few dashes of social twerk, sprinkles of Food Network level chefdom, and it's thoroughly blended up with Bible references and adolesnonsence. Needless to say, when I speak, people often tilt their heads while the narrowing of their pupils tells me they have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. Awk. To this end: I've included a quick reference at the bottom for readers who don't have me to explain me or my vernacular in person.


2018 was pretty much a banner year for me. I found a job that I loved, I got to witness some miraculous things, and I made peace with myself; if only for a minute. We decided to pursue adoption from foster care. We watched a lot of the world crumble around us, and while it broke my heart, I didn't shrink back and cry, I showed up like a warrior for causes I care about and gave no apologies for where I stood.







In 2018, I FINALLY found that it matters zero to please people. I matters infinity to please my maker. I've chased life, pursued dreams, and came completely off all anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants for the first time in years. I still had setbacks, but my setbacks no longer took months to recover from. So I told 2019 to bring it. I was ready. Oh it did, B.


Our adoption has hit several snags due to red tape and government bureaucracy. I have a medical mystery that has caused neurological symptoms that are scary, unpredictable, and so far, unexplainable and completely mystifying. My relationship with my son has struggled a bit this year, and that is something I've never had to face. I didn't always handle it well. For all these things and others: I've worried about it. I've prayed about it. I've cried about it. I've also come down with a severe case of baker's block.


Those old nagging issues of anxiety, self-worth, and these unspoken but highly socially programmed messages of all the things I "MUST" do or be... they all reared their ugly little heads.


Bruh.


In looking back over the past 2 years, I am learning something. I have determined that until I commit to accept that I am acceptable simply because God delights in me and rest in that, I am doomed. I regret every single year that I was sucked down this vortex. I regret every moment that I was tethered and chained to paralytic anxiety, worry, soul-sucking depression, and a thirst for control. I don't regret one second of times I have fearlessly and un-apologetically chased joy and aggressively pursued delight.


I have the best friends in the world. Some near, some far, but I have so many in my life that are so easy to love. I would never treat them the way I treat me when stuck in that black hole that is anxiety. If they came to me overwhelmed, struggling in a relationship with a child, scared from health concerns, or something worse, would I berate her for not trying harder? Would I tell her it's no big deal? Would I tell her that she was not enough for the size of her dreams? Would I over-think and analyze everything to death from every angle and demand to know exactly why her plan failed? Would I critique her performance and pick it apart? Would I downplay her achievements and tell her they were no big deal? Would I declare her a cotton-head-ninny-muggins? Absolutely not. IDTS. That would be preposterous.


I make the decision today and every day that I will stop being afraid. I choose to fight this nonsense with every fiber of my being. There is no threshold of arrival or circumstance that can or ever will define my worth. A life that makes me & God happy is enough. The same goes for you. A life that makes you + God happy is enough. As long as we commit to humbly grow and rely on His Wisdom rather than our own, we will always be enough. 2019, it's nice to finally accept you for what you're teaching me. I'm lowkey grateful.



Sara-ictionary:



Adolesnonsence. adv. Adolescent arbitrary grouping of sounds and/or symbols conveying no intelligible meaning in the traditional sense. Also, can mean the conduct, behavior, decisions, or ideas that are contrary to good sense, good manners, logic, reason, rules.

Awk. adj. Awkward.

B. n. Person of importance in my life.

Baker's block. n. The desire to bake all things, so there can be no decision on what exactly to bake.

Bropinon. n. The opinion of any bro.

Bruh. n. 1. teen male greeting. 2. The assertion that something is awesome, extreme, stupid, big, or aggressively bad. 

IDTS. Acronym. It means "I don't think so."

Lowkey. adv. 1. Moderately. 2. Secretly. 

Social Twerk: v. The profession of assisting others by assessing their needs and working through a number of disciplines and agencies to assist in filling those needs--also endless paperwork and documentation, but infused with Sara-flair and humor.

Twang: adv. accent influenced by Southern geographical location. If you like country music, it's that lovely undefinable quality that smooths out the lyrics and makes the fact that his wife left him for his best friend that much more heartbreaking. If you don't like country music, it's the quality that makes you hate it.





You are enough. You will always be enough.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A letter to my future daughter







Dear Future Daughter,














I don't yet know your name. I don't know what state you come from. I don't know your story. I don't know what you look like. I don't know what kind of bad hair days you have.




There is just so much I don't know about you.








...but still... there are more things that I do know.








I know you that I love you so much already. I know that will never again know a day without that boundless love. I know that you will never have to navigate how to grow into a woman alone. I know that one day you will be my daughter. Not foster. Not sort of. Not kind of. I know one day you'll know that you are chosen. Cherished. Mine.








I know that I want you to learn to love yourself. I don't want you just to say that, to tweet it, to post selfies on Insta with clever and inspirational captions that project that to the world before you learn to actually believe it. You can't just say it to propel a fake reality that you love yourself. You have a lot of work to do to get there. You must become comfortable with yourself, your body, your gifts, your talents, your personality, your flaws, and everything God created you to be. It is better to be admired for your character than your beauty. Self-love and self-respect are two incredibly important tools I hope to give you.








In case I ever forget what it was like to be sixteen in a crisis that feels like no big deal to adults, it's ok. It's normal for these years to be hard, even under the best of circumstances. You didn't come from the best of circumstances. I know and promise that even when I fail you, and I will, I promise I will always, always, ALWAYS keep showing up. I will always try again. I don't pretend to know that you will always reach for me when times get hard, but please know that I am always there when you need me. Even though there are struggles you'll go through all alone, I promise you that you don't HAVE TO. I am always an option. In those like awful minutes when you feel crushed by the weight of the world, I know that you will always a mother that will do whatever you need. If that means reminding you to breathe, lying down and hold you through it, going to get a pedicure, or putting on war paint and fight for you, I am willing. It's ok to feel pain sometimes, that means you are alive. And I thank God you are alive.








Someday when you grow up and move away from me, I won't be two rooms away anymore, but I am a phone call away. I will FaceTime or text or give you space to figure things out for yourself. I know I will do whatever you need.








Late nights have a way of making you feel like you're either on top of the world or crushed by it. Please don't turn to alcohol or drugs or boys to drown out the pain. Pain can swim; pain floats up through our coping mechanisms. You'll solve nothing trying to drown your problems; they're resilient little boogers and they'll remain through unheathly decisions. You'll only add more problems and pain to your list. Climb into my arms. You're never too old for me to play with your hair, hold you, or rub your back.




I know from experience that rock bottom is terrifying. I clawed myself apart until I hit... what's lower than rock bottom? When I was a teenager, I searched for peace in ways that made me feel anything but. I reached for all the wrong things and shut out all the right people. I'm lucky that your brother and your dad are the best possible outcome from a long line of stupid and selfish decisions. From my time working with at risk youth and the homeless, I know not everyone's rock bottom ends up getting tied in a pretty bow like mine. I pray you never find yourself in that situation, but if you're at rock bottom, I'll be there for you. Our family saved me, and we will save you if you let us.








I pray for the rape culture you are forced to live in. I know I will give you tools for self defense so you can walk home safely at night. I know I will teach you to dress in a way and style you like; anyone that doesn't like it can get over it. TO HELL WITH ANYONE that says she who wears a skirt was asking for it. I pray I can raise you not only have the self respect to say no, but not feel ashamed for that. No is so much powerful than yes. No sets you free. No puts you in charge of your own will. No puts you in control. No puts you first. Saying no now will lead to paths where you can excitedly DECIDE to say yes to only things you want.








Saying no now will open doors for your dreams to come true later. God has big plans for you, baby, and I pray I teach you to dream and pray for HUGE things. Crazy things. Unreachable things. God gifted you with talents He didn't give to anyone else, so you can reach things that were unreachable by anyone else. Life is tough, but so are you. You can do hard things.








Don't ever be ashamed to be you. If you hate baseball, don't pretend to like it for a boy. If you make more money than him, that's only a deal breaker if HE has issues with that. When you first meet that boy and have that first incredible kiss, don't let the fireworks show and the chemistry blind you from the rest of his qualities. I've personally dated more than one boy that perfectly explains why they name devastating hurricanes after people. Don't allow them to become your sun, because as much as they light up your world, they can shut it off most of the time and leave you freezing in the Arctic Circle alone. Waiting for that day that sun comes back can be an addictive merry-go-round that is impossible to come off of if you're depending on him for light and warmth. That kind of relationship is not love, and it can make you want to die. Don't depend on that boy that is only good at kissing and making the chemistry-induced fireworks go off. Depend on your family. Depend on your best friends. But mostly, depend on your God. He is a light that will never fade on you.








I know that it's ok to be single. You don't need a relationship or marriage to be complete. You don't have to have kids to be a whole person. You can be a whole person and be single, but you'll never be alone. Even if you're sitting alone at the table, I want you to be comfortable in that. Sit and drink your coffee and bask in the silence; don't drown in it. If you find yourself drowning, reach for your life raft--if that's your family or a girlfriend or a bible verse, just promise me you won't withdraw from those who love you.








If you find that person you want to spend the rest of your life with, remember that a whole lifetime is a long time if he doesn't have character or if your relationship isn't healthy. I know your daddy will be there to give you away, and I pray he is worthy of how magnificent you are. I pray it's a healthy love. A love that make you feel alive and safe. A love that makes you feel cherished and propels both of you to be better.








I know no matter what, I will always love you. No amount of eye rolls, door slams, or "I HATE YOU!"'s can change that. There may be times that you think I'm ruining your life. In the times that you think I'm controlling, too invasive, all up in your business, overprotective, or any other way annoying, you're going to find love at the root of it all if you look hard enough.








I know there are times you will fail. You won't always make the right call. That is ok. Mistakes are the most brutal of teachers, but my word do you learn. I know you'll learn more from your failures than you ever will your triumphs. There will be times that I know you're going to fail, and I'll stand back and let you. You must fail in order to succeed, and I wouldn't be doing this whole parenting thing right if I bubble wrapped you from every failure. I would be doing you a huge disservice if I protected you from everything.








I know I will do my very best to teach you a basic understanding of right and wrong. I don't know what your life will look like, but you'll blossom into your own person and it will be a pleasure to be along for the ride to watch it all unfold.








If you don't know anything for certain, know this: we love you so much already. We can't wait to meet you!
















Love,



Mom

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

...dream on!



Dreaming of your future? Dreaming of peace? Financial security? Or are you dreaming something completely crazy that will topple the apple cart?
 
 

It's ok to dream. In fact, if your dreams don't scare you or make you nervous, they just aren't big enough.

 
 
I am such a huge believer that you were given those dreams for a purpose--and that purpose is a calling for you to move. Don't leave those dreams parked in some back alley of your mind--GO. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
 
 

 

Are those dreams scary? Yes, terrifying actually.

 

Do you have time for it? Probably not; you barely have time to pee.

 

Does it seem unattainable? Yep, probably.

 
 
 
Maybe your dream is to open a boutique--but you have no idea how to write a business plan, let alone run a business. Maybe it's to travel--but you tell yourself "maybe one day". Maybe you have a safe, stable life in the suburbs and you are dreaming of scrapping it and learning to paint watercolors--but your nagging mother-in-law tells you how foolish it is and you agree with her. Maybe you want to start a blog--but you're sure no one would care to hear what you have to say.
 
 
 
As long as you "maybe one day" this situation and keep that dream up in the attic of your mind, the time passes anyway and the likelihood increases that you will live with oceans regret. Whether you're the type that makes overly-calculated steps or the type that leaps before they look, the only wrong step to take in chasing a dream is not taking a step. Just step. Just go. Just try.
 
 
 
What is the moral of this little blurb? Dreams are great. Chase them now or regret it later. Start now. Whether that is a giant Evil Knievel leap, or a hesitant & fearful baby step, DO IT. Start somewhere--anywhere.
 
 
 
God worked through visions/dreams often in both the Old & New Testament. He did this for those who followed Him & even those who didn't (Pharaoh, anyone?) He gave visions and dreams to those He chose to do His work and fulfill His plans. He spoke to Jacob here. He spoke to Pharaoh to exalt Joseph here. He spoke to Paul here
 

 
Ask yourself this question--what if this dream you're dreaming is your purpose?
 
 
 
"This is just a silly daydream, Sara" you say.
....Nah, I don't think so. I really don't.
 
 
 
This dream could be your purpose--God's plan for you and for others. If you don't move on it, who will? Who will be affected if your shop never opens? Who will be affected if your blog never launches? Who will be affected if you don't take that step. Sweet one, your dreams aren't just about you.
 
 
 
Here's the deal:
 
1) Everyone has a purpose in life. Call it a plan, a mission, or whatever you want.
2) Purpose demands action. GO. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING to take 1/2 a step closer.
3) You can't be replaced. You purpose can't be replaced by someone else's.
 
 
 
You can't just store your dreams on some back shelf in your imagination--only pulling it out when you're bored or when you get around to it. Your dreams aren't just about you.
 
 
 
What is your purpose? Your purpose is where your dreams, talents, fears, and burdens intersect. Pull out a pen & paper to jot these things down and brainstorm the old fashioned way.
 
 
 
  • Dreams. What are you doodling when no one is looking? What would you do if money were no object? What would you chase if you knew you could not fail?
  • Talents. What are you good at? If you're shrugging and saying you don't know, what are your friends calling you for because they need YOUR help? Are they calling you for recipes? Advice? They need help decorating? Tech support? I promise you that your friends recognize your talents even if you don't. Pick up the phone and ask them if you still don't know.
  • Fears. What are you afraid of? I promise that is the enemy trying to stamp out your purpose. "No one cares what you have to say" you think to yourself. You read in a newspaper that 90% of restaurants fail, so surely that will be you. Rebuke that nonsense in the name of Jesus. Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy everything, and that includes your purpose.
  • Burdens. What breaks your heart? What road have you walked that was the hardest chapter you've been through? What keeps you pacing the floor at night? All of us are burdened or troubled by something. Resist the urge to shove it down and get on with your day. Let it rise up at you. Stay aware enough of it that you simply CAN'T NOT ACT.
 
 
 
Where do all these things intersect? These factors are like a treasure map leading you to your purpose. Remember, your dreams aren't just about you. Therefore, they should be big, crazy absolutely-no-way-will-this-ever-work kind of dreams. They should be the kind that when they start coming true, it's a tidal wave of blessings for everyone in your path. But those dreams are empty without action.



What action will you take today? It can be a blindfolded leap of faith or a calculated-hesitant-half-step. If God can move a major world leader to release his captives and raise a man from the dead, He will work just as hard for the calling He has bestowed upon you.



Your dreams aren't just about you. Dream on! {Just make sure you're taking action too!}





Saturday, February 23, 2019

...to the weary one






I was reading through the book of Matthew the other day and I came across the story--you know the one--the one where the disciples and Jesus are out in the boat and the storm is raging around them. Read it here. Jesus and the disciples were in a boat and the storm suddenly raged so violently that the waves were about to overtake the boat completely. The disciples freaked out (obvi) and went searching for Jesus and he was asleep at the switch.


Doesn't that always feel the same when you're caught in an unexpected storm? I do. Hashtag this story is me IRL. Where are you Jesus? Bro, you're asleep and obviously not paying attention to this situation. Sugar, we're going down swinging. I'll start swinging if you won't, Lord.


I picture Jesus finally having a rest after healing the sick and teaching the masses of people that would never just leave him alone. I picture him waking up and thinking "really?! You can't let a guy get a few minutes of shuteye because a little water splashed into the boat???"


He gets up and silences the storm. Full Stop. Mic drop.


The disciples rubbed their eyes in disbelief; who is this man that can command the elements? Spoiler alert: A tired man that has already performed too many miracles for one day, you sillies.


So when we're talking about weariness in your life, I feel you. I am you. In order to be a good mom, I have to make myself vulnerable. I have to be a dispenser of discipline and wipe tears from disappointment within minutes. I have to pick up the puppy's poop and bake the meatloaf and scrub the grass stains out of my son's football jersey. I do all this and rarely get a thank you. I have to serve knowing that, accepting that, and not holding a grudge. It's hard not to grow weary in the best of circumstances.


I'm a Jedi master at hiding this from the world, however. I have this tendency to want to hide this about myself in person. I smile. I joke. I fake my feelings. I am a master of camouflaging the struggle. I can fool darn-near anyone. {Except Jesus--of course--as I shriek out to him, even if only in my mind.}


So if you think you're the only one struggling--you're not.


And if life has swept waves into your boat--wrecking your peace--of course you're struggling with the idea that Jesus seems to be sleeping through it.


He's not sleeping through it, sweet sister. CLING to Him in spite of your circumstances. He can be your port in the storm, if you let Him in.



"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word."
-Psalm 119:28



Father, protect my sister who is weary right now. Protect her from this storm as it rages. Calm the waves around her, and if You can't do that, please calm her heart. She's drowning, or she feels as if she is about to. Hold her up and draw her in to Your presence. Remind her of Your great love for her.


"From the ends of the Earth, I cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety."
-Psalm 61:2



Clear the path for her to find refuge in this storm she can't find her way out of.


"Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you; he will not never let the righteous be shaken."
-Psalm 55:22



Sweet sister, lay your burdens at the cross. And don't be tempted to pick them back up. I know you're trembling with fear; I know it feels like Jesus is asleep at the switch. I know this storm you're in is more than just a hiccup; you're consumed with the stress. Please let Him consume you. This storm is not your life; He is your life. Stand strong in that truth, dear one! Be encouraged that He is in this with you; He is at work. It may not *FEEL* like it, but He created you. Would He create you if He wanted to harm you? {PS: I'm in this with you, too.}


Remember, this storm is not your life--HE is your life.

Friday, February 22, 2019

I'm not going anywhere.

I have a beautiful life. I have a crazy-smart husband who happens to be the cutest guy I ever met. We have an incredibly intelligent, precocious, quick-witted 13 year old son that fills up a room with his laugh. We built our dream home and selected everything in it: we picked tiles, we added light fixtures, we chose the perfect shade of gray for the walls, we (and by we, I actually mean I) agonized over the countertops. I finally have double ovens I have dreamt about my whole life long. We moved to a back to the city we met in. We have reunited with a lot of old friends, and we've made new ones that feel like family.






We have more than we need. Our refrigerator is never empty and we don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. Our house keeps us warm when it's cold out, and we have shelter when it storms.







Before you close this window and roll your eyes thinking this is humble bragging, stay with me for a sec. I have this majestically beautiful life, and yet... it doesn't feel like it's mine. It feels like I'm standing outside of it, watching it happen. I'm a part of it. I'm involved in it. I participate in it. I orchestrate a lot of it. But it's still like it doesn't belong to me or something.











You see, people like me don't have lives like this. People like me don't marry guys like him. People like me don't have great kids like mine. People like me don't end up in homes like this. People like me don't have great friends like mine. People like me just don't have these things.










But when the world goes crazy, then I feel like that life belongs to me. When I have an argument with my husband, that belongs to me. When something horrible happens, that life feels like it's mine. When someone is hurtful to me, I take complete ownership over that. When someone is upset, it must belong to me because surely I caused it.






But when life is good, it's like I'm standing outside it... observing it... like it's a movie & I bought tickets to see my own life. On the outside I'm smiling, but inside I'm wincing.







This is what it is to grow up in trauma. You are crushed by the weight of horror around you, and you can't ever accept the good things that happen to you. This is trauma. And for people like me, there is no "before the trauma". It is hardwired into who I am and how I think and it is a battle every single day to overcome it.






I know trauma. I know depression. I know crippling anxiety. I will likely never be fully healed on this side of heaven. I work overtime cheering everyone else up and making everyone laugh because I never, ever want anyone to feel the way that I do.






I know what is to wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats from repressed memories. I know what it is to suffer from chronic headaches, migraines, and muscle tension. My doctor says my muscle memory has involuntarily become like a suit of armor--my body literally braces for trauma. When I have a happy day in my beautiful life, my body automatically tightens up waiting for the bottom to fall out because it always did.





I know what it is to be ridiculed and rejected by my own family. I know these things intimately well.



My husband didn't understand it. He tries so hard, but unless you've fully lived it, you can't ever quite fully "get it".


I used to tell him to leave me and find someone more in his league; someone worth having. I told him this for years. I used to tell him "people like me don't end up with people like you." He would always say "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm not going anywhere."





It took me years to accept that, let alone believe it.





For years, I've wanted more kids. We tried everything short of IVF to make that happen. My body failed me again; I have stage 4 endometriosis and I've had multiple procedures just to remedy the pain.




We could not pursue adoption for years as my husband was not an American citizen.




I wanted to bring a child into the world that people were excited about. We got pregnant very young and we weren't married AND we lived in the bible belt. HELLO, SCARLET LETTER. We lost friends. We were whispered about. And we were told we were stupid for letting this ruin our lives. Let me tell you that my son is a miracle. He is amazing. And never will I ever stand for anyone ever telling me that he ruined anything.











Every kid should have parents who fiercely believes in them.


Every kid should have a mama who kisses and bandages boo-boos.


Every kid should have a sibling who protects them from the bullies.


Every little girl should get to dance on her daddy's feet.


Every kid deserves a warm bed.


Every kid deserves an identity, a family that gives them roots and wings.


Every kid deserves to be celebrated on their birthday, for big accomplishments, or just because they breathe.


Every kid deserves to grow up free from depression, anxiety, and pain that trauma brings.


Every kid deserves peace.


Every kid deserves parents who say "I'm not going anywhere."


Mostly, every kid deserves love.











My husband, myself, and our son want to be that for a kid out there who doesn't have these things. We are actively pursuing adoption from foster care.




In my picture of having another child that people were excited about, I pictured smiling at my husband because we had the sneaky little secret that I was pregnant again. I pictured decorating a nursery. I pictured going to ultrasound appointments together.




And this? This feels better than any of that. This sneaky secret felt exactly the same as a pregnancy, but giving an abandoned, rejected, or even traumatized child a safe place to belong? That is so indescribable a feeling. I am praying for this child to know they are chosen, they are loved, and they are mine; like my husband used to put it, we may not understand what this kid has been through, but we're not going anywhere.




We invite you to pray for us on our journey and pour buckets of love on this kiddo when they arrive. He/she deserves that!