Community

He really does fulfill!

There has been an overriding theme in my life for the past couple years… God really does fulfill.  I’ve written about it a couple times, and it just keeps coming up (Fulfill me completely, I forgot).

Recently I realized how much I honestly desire everyone to experience God fulfilling in this way.  Over and over He really can and will fulfill all that we need, for real all that we need, but in order for Him to do that, I had to remind myself not to.

It struck me one day as I was praying so much for certain friends who so desperately needed God to step in and fulfill in a powerful way.  I begged God to fulfill those needs and pains.  Then when they would reach out, my response was often my own remedy.  It then struck me.  I was praying for God to show up and intervene and then I didn’t actually  push them toward that.   And so I shifted my thought process, my interactions, and my responses.  Don’t get me wrong, I was sensitive and engaging but started pushing them more towards God.

I’ll admit, this was a shift as I’m a care taker and a rescuer by nature.  I’m the first to make you a cup of frothy coffee on a hard day or tuck you in with a blanket as you sit sad on my couch (well I’ll probably tuck you in no matter what… but that’s besides the point).  It wasn’t a matter of being a jerk or even denying my natural care taking tendencies.  I simply have worked to shift their focus to God, who really can fulfill in a much greater way than I ever can.

It’s still something I have to mentally be intentional about.  There are days I don’t do as well, and I end up trying to rescue.  But God continues to show me how He can and will fulfill for me as well as all those I care about.

IMG_3892.JPG

My dear friend Kara Ulmer

IMG_3350.jpg
Kara and I met years ago in a bible study.  Honestly the first time I met her I didn’t quite get her.  Over time I understood the way her mind worked… always deep, amazingly insightful and super encouraging.  Our friendship has grown over the years as we talk about life and non-profit leadership.

There honestly no way explain all the ways God has used Kara in my life, but here are a few that stand out.

Years ago Kara would encourage me, in all situations, to have “palms up”.  That God was in control and to not hold onto anything too tightly.  She would text it to me regularly, sometimes reminding me of this truth, other times reminding herself.  I soon adopted this as my own (I talk about it here Palms Up, and even got a tattoo on because of it A permanent reminder).

I have quoted Kara more times than I can count, “if you really love someone you will always want what is best for them.”  I bring it up it when talking about leadership, marriage, friendship and any relationship really.

Kara also is the friend I was with who inspired me to move forward with Akron Women on Purpose.  I wrote about it in this post Be obedient to the next step.

I’ve had the privilege to hear her insights over the years and wanted to share some of her with all of you.  I’ve posted two videos, the first one is her story that she shared at Akron Women on Purpose and the second is when she spoke at TEDxAkron.  Both are amazing, honest, and powerful!  I truly am so proud to call her my friend.

 

 

18 months

This little person, my son, has had such a huge impact on my life and has a hold of my heart.  Every month I take time to remember him and grieve him.  This past 8th was no different.  It was odd to me how in many ways this month felt really surreal, like my brain couldn’t comprehend all that had happened.  That I really did have a son.  He really did die.   I found myself sleeping with and holding his hat for several days leading up to the 8th.  I wanted his hat in particular because it had blood on it.  It made it all real, it allowed me to feel like I was closer to HIM.   I needed something real.  I needed something tangible.

The 8th always is tricky as it feels so obvious to me that he is missing and yet the rest of the world goes on.  I don’t mind that they do, I’m not hurt by it.  Although there’s always that twinge of wondering if one day he will be forgotten.  And then there’s my sweet friend Julie.  Every single month on the 8th she goes to his grave, takes a picture and sends it to me and tells me she loves me.  She hasn’t forgotten.  He has not been forgotten.  And it makes my heart full every. single. time.

 

One of the greatest days ever.

I recently experienced one of the best days at First Glance, actually of my life. We had posted our new video about Fist Glance.  Video’s are always scary as for me as we try and sum up everything that we do at First Glance and more importantly why we do it, all in five minutes.  In this one we talk about our students being family, it’s true, I sincerely see our students and First Glance as a form of family… but to post that idea, to broadcast it to the world feels vulnerable. Someone might disagree.  Maybe I disillusioned in thinking we create a family environment.  These are the thoughts and concerns that roll around in my mind after making such a strong statement.

Then, on Wednesday, December 16th I woke up to this message on my Facebook Page.

IMG_1416.jpg

What an encouragement!!  Maybe what we think we are doing, we are actually doing.  Little did I know many similar messages would come through over the next week.

Then to add to an already amazing day.  I had the privilege and opportunity to baptize Dee!!  I mentioned her a few months ago, in this post, when she came to Christ.  I absolutely love baptism!!!  I was so stoked to attend!!!  And then to be able to to baptize her, there are no words!

IMG_1414.jpg

IMG_1413.jpg

IMG_1390.jpg

Oh man, what an amazing day!!!  I really am so very grateful for the front row seat at what God does!!!

Rhythms and routines…

I love biking!  This summer I hit 5000 miles since starting to use the app that keeps track of statistics like this.  The majority of these miles have been ridden along side of my dearest friend and bike partner, Alicia.  We have been bike partners for years and have had many adventures, some crossing state lines, others trying not to be attacked by dogs, and almost always somehow biking in the rain.

Sometimes I take for granted how easy it is to bike with Alicia.  After biking together for six years, we have a pretty good rhythm.  When there’s no traffic she takes the outside lane, and we bike side by side.  When a car comes, I know to slow down and let her over.  When crossing lanes or making a left hand turn, she usually is the one looking out for traffic and calling out when it’s safe to go.  I plan routes and keep track of navigation.  It’s what we do.IMG_0304.jpg

IMG_0746.jpg

In all honesty these habits are pretty boring to you, and I rarely notice them… until I ride bikes with someone else.  Typically it’s Tim, and he doesn’t know the rhythms and routines I am used to.  He rarely goes on the outside lane so we can talk.  We don’t bike the same speed, and it all takes significantly more communication.  It’s not bad, just noticeably different.

Biking is my most concrete example, but there are all sorts of other life rhythms and routines I do with Tim, at work, at home, etc. that I rarely notice… until it’s shifted in some capacity.  As I have been biking this summer, I have thought about this more and more, the rhythms and how little effort it takes to think about it.

I have been thinking about it because I have so desperately wanted the same rhythm and ease with God leading my life.  Here’s what is amazing to me.  God, the Creator of the universe, interacts in our lives!  For real.  Not only does He interact, He gives us the Holy Spirt to lead and guide us.  I love it!  I have been working on habits in order to be in tune with the Spirit.  It’s why I started carrying the notebook that I talked about in this other post.

The hard part is that sometimes I get what I call “sucked in.”  I get sucked into stress, or busyness,  or drama, or selfishness, or fill in the blank.  It’s easy to get sucked in, to lose focus, and to not be lead by the Holy Spirit. I so desperately want the Holy Spirit to lead in such a powerful way that I notice and miss it when someone else or something else is leading me.  I want to notice the Holy Spirit not leading and guiding in the same way that I notice when I’m biking with someone other than Alicia.

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

 

A new friend

There was this woman Shelly some of my friends were friends with.  I would see her occasionally at social events, we were friends on Facebook, but honestly didn’t know her.  Not well.  Not at all really.

When Enoch died she reached out.  She came to the funeral, I think in part because several of her friends were impacted by it.  I didn’t get a chance to say hello, but she sent me the sweetest text between the funeral and the funeral dinner.  I distinctly remember reading it in the car as we drove that short distance.

The texts and messages didn’t stop that day.

A few months later she lost her brother suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a funeral I had to got to.  I remember her walking up to me as soon as she saw me with tears streaming down her face asking in great disbelief “why would you come?” I told her I needed to, I needed to hug her and see her and support her the same way she had supported me up until that point.  Plus I understood some of the shock and unbearable pain she was experiencing.

Since then we have continued to walk this grief journey together.  Each journey looking a little different, but grateful for someone else  who “gets it.”

Often, when it feels like nobody else will get the feeling of that day.  I send her a text.  This is one I sent just last week…”Today I went to the church for the first time since Enoch’s funeral. It was for a breakfast and the triggers were unexpected and a little intense. Now all I want to do is drink and eat and throw things.  I figured you would get that.”

She never has some magical answer or insight, but often her response is one of understanding and for that I’m grateful!

Last week I received this text from Shelly, “Hi friend. It just occurred to me that one of the most beautiful things that has come out of the tragedy of my brothers death is your sweet friendship. I love you!”

This was not how we anticipated becoming friends… but I am thankful!

IMG_9941 (1).jpg

Just weeks before Enoch was born this picture was taken, Shelly (on right) and I together in one of these random social settings.

“Family Vacation”

Someone told me recently that 7-9 months are a new wave of hard in the grief season, in fact she said it’s some of the worst.  After she told me, I said “well that wasn’t the most encouraging pep talk I’ve ever had.” Although I admit now it was a good warning as I’m in month 9 and have experienced it.

Several months ago a dear friend asked about Tim and I joining her family for vacation.  It wasn’t a definite, but it looked like we would have access to a condo, next to theirs, by the beach and mountains all for free!!  There were no guarantees, but it seemed like a great idea!  I was in, but trying not to get too excited.

About a month before the actual vacation, when the possibility became a reality she wanted to confirm our plans to join them.  It seemed like a no brainer… free vacation with some of our closest friends.  But I said no.  I never even told Tim.  I didn’t think we could handle “family vacation” without our son. Family vacation without our family seemed unbearable.  And I was afraid watching another couple with their kids on vacation would be a blatant, non-stop reminder that Enoch died.

This particular situation brought about a new form of grief.  Grief has certainly shown up over the past 9 months.  It usually shows up abruptly and often causes me to cancel the plans I had set for that day.  This was different, this was changing major plans anticipating the grief that would most certainly show up.  It seemed so strange, and yet it made so much sense.  We couldn’t go.  We shouldn’t go.  I was confident my heart wouldn’t bear it.

As my friends were enjoying the beach that week I couldn’t help but wonder…  What would it have been like to take take our small son on a beach vacation?  Had he been here, I am certain we would have gone.  I wondered what stage of life he would be at.  I wondered how annoying it would be to have him in the sand.  I wondered about taking the classic family beach photos, like all those I see on FB in my newsfeed.  I wondered about nap times and how it would work as their kids are no longer nappers.  I wondered how much he would weigh and what he would feel like to hold.

The wondering was overwhelming, and so the next chance I got, I held a little baby girl just a tad bit older than Enoch.  I needed to… I needed at least some of those wonderings to be understood.

Grief is a strange thing, and as we get further along, I’m not sure I understand it any better