547 days ago we pulled up our roots, said goodbye to what we knew and began an adventure that would have us planting ourselves in the fertile soil of Missouri.

And many amazing things have happened since we moved. We bought our first house (yay!!). We started a small-group at our church. We adopted a second dog. My wife spent the night in the ER a few weeks ago (she’s ok), and despite an ER visit, CT scan and meds totaling over $20k, we didn’t pay a cent. See? Amazing things!

And yet, 547 days into this adventure the one thing I feel most deeply is that I don’t fit. Anywhere.

Kids? Ha – nope. The doctors say everything is fine, but I can’t get my wife pregnant for anything.

Friends? Not really. Sure, we’ve done all we can to be involved at our church, we’re section leaders and small-group leaders, but a year into this we’ve only had one invitation to do anything with anyone anywhere.

And all I know to ask is “Why”? What else can we be doing? We’re friendly, we host people, our church is even using OUR FACES to advertise small-groups!

I used to fit in. My wife used to fit in. I don’t know what happened. But now we use a long weekend to take the dogs to get french fries.

My god, we’re lonely.

Earlier this evening, I confessed to her that it just sucks. How I had hope that Memorial Day weekend would have resulted in an invitation somewhere, anywhere. And she shared with me that she’s cried more than once in the shower this week.

This isn’t like me. I don’t allow myself to feel down, I fight so hard to be positive and upbeat, to support her dreams and hopes. To be happy. To be there for her and help look on the bright-side and encourage and love…

But I don’t know what to do.

I cannot fix this.

Having kids seems to be the one ticket we were never allowed to obtain and by default, we are not allowed into the exclusive club of parenthood.

And by golly, if you are not allowed into the parenthood club, then
You
don’t
fit.

Anywhere.

Why do I so desperately want to fit? Because fitting in equals value to me. Having a group of people want to be around me, want to be friends tells me I’m lovable.

I find value there.

And even if we’re never allowed into any clubs, I can at least realize that I cannot base my worth on the valuation of someone else, my self-esteem on the desire of another to be my friend. So in that, I know I have room to grow.

And if there is one thing you can do in the fertile soil of Missouri, it is grow.

So I will.



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2019 begins in little more than 24 hours when I write this.  24 hours and 8 minutes to be exact.

A lot of people take the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to create lists of resolutions; things they want to change about themselves or things they want to accomplish.

I have never done that.

Two decades worth of new years as an adult and I honestly cannot recall ever having a resolution.

I just figured out why.

For me, a resolution is not worth the paper it is written on simply because “wanting” something never brings it about.

Wanting to lose weight does not shed pounds.  Wanting to read more does not put a book in my hands.  Wanting to have more friends does not make them available via Amazon Prime.

Wanting, for me, never solved anything.  Because I never quit the core issue.

This year, I am no longer just wanting.

This year, I am breaking up with you.

Dear Fear – we are through.  You have controlled too many of my choices for far too many years.  I never want to see you again.

Self-Doubt – we are over.  Move out.  I am no longer going to listen to your voice.

Inadequacy – it feels like you have been around the longest.  So, I may have to say this more than once.

So I will.

Get the hell out.

2019 is mine.

I will own who I become in 2019.  Not you.  Take fear and self-doubt and never come back.

I know you. 

You will return. 

Now that I have called you out, now that I have made this public, you will do everything you can to stop me.

Bring it on.  With all the conviction I can muster, I will remind you every. single. time.

You no longer own me.

Everything, everywhere, at some point, will change.  We know this.  Yet somehow we forget.

Each time we’re caught off guard by something changing, we chide ourselves and remind ourselves that we know the world changes.

I believe we are wired to expect, or need something to stay the same.  Because everything changes we flitter from one thing to another.  We seek out something that seems solid and immovable because deep down we yearn for something to rest upon.

And if we’re honest, part of ourselves never grew up.  And that part needs to know that we are not the biggest thing out there.  That part needs to know we’re not alone, we may not know everything, and that actually, that’s OK.

I knew Toys R Us would be closing.  My wife and I went to our local store twice in its last days.  Less to shop and more to wander aisles that, for our generation, represented love.

Maybe that’s putting too much weight on what was just a retail store.  But as an adult I’ve realized that one of my love-languages is gifts.  So to 10-year-old me a trip to Toys R Us wasn’t a chance for a toy, it was a giant “I Love You”.

It stung when I realized that this was it.  Today was the last day.  Blame it on bad business decisions made years ago, or the rise of the internet, or Wal-Mart and Target, or higher prices…. whatever the adult reason for it closing, part of me wonders if this is a symptom that we as a society have somehow lost our way.

My childhood wasn’t perfect.  Far from it in some respects.  But I never had to worry about a mass shooting at school.  Or if our government was separating parents from their children simply for crossing a border illegally.  I didn’t have to worry about online predators or cyberbullying.TRU

I think that’s why saying goodbye to Geoffrey was that much harder.  Because for 10-year-old me, Toys R Us was a place where everything was happy.

And for 38-year-old me, Toys R Us will always be a place where everything is happy.

Not because we recently moved and are still looking for a church to call home.  Not because we’re not feeling well (we feel great).  And not because it’s late and we’ll sleep in (we won’t).

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

For millions of people, that means a day full of cards, flowers, brunch and FaceTime or phone calls or actual face-to-face time.

For us, for my wife, that means it’s the one day we absolutely do not go to church.

Why?

Because more than anything, she wants to be a mom.

 

I don’t type those words lightly.

She has 100% of the desire.  And 0% of the results.

It’s been years.  We’re both healthy.  The doctors have no diagnosis.  The answer is just “no”.  And we don’t know why.

 

I don’t speak often of infertility.  It’s not something that most people are comfortable speaking about.  We either hear the jokes about “not doing it right” or folks already have a family.  When you’re 38, most of your friends have kids.  Lots of them.  And you’ve got a dog.

For my wife, that means she’s different, or somehow ‘less-than’ other women.  Think about it – what happens when a bunch of moms get together to hang out?  Their children rule the conversation.  When the topic is potty-training little Tommy, sharing stories about your rescue dog just makes you look weird.

So tomorrow, we don’t go to church.  We avoid social media.  We celebrate our moms and the moms in our lives, and Maple (our four-legged child) gives “Mom” a Mothers Day Card.  But we don’t go to church.

Because it hurts my wife too much.

If you know someone like my wife, someone who’s kids have fur, then take a moment tomorrow to send her a note.  Wish her a Happy Mothers Day.

You’ll never understand what it might mean.

So, tomorrow?  Tomorrow, I will love my wife.  I’ll continue to support her, to be a father to our pup, a husband to her, and I will remind her in every way she can that she is 100% a woman and 100% a mom, even if our kids have four legs.

 

To the women in the Facebook “Moms Alumni” group of a now-defunct ministry focused on teens, thank you.

Thank you for not understanding.

Thank you for the tears my wife cried today because she no longer fit into your group.  Thank you for so kindly telling her that because she’s never been pregnant or even had a miscarriage, that she’s not a mom.  That she doesn’t belong in your Facebook group.

Thank you for clarifying exactly what infertility does to someone…. makes them feel alone.

And thank you for doing it just ONE DAY AFTER Mothers day.

 

To my wife, who called me today in tears, who skipped church yesterday because Mothers Day for a woman dealing with infertility is hard enough without seeing baby dedications and a celebration of something she longs for; to my wife I say

Thank you.

Thank you for responding with so much love to the words you received today.  Thank you for the grace you showed.  Thank you for calming me down and for helping me see things from their perspective and for gently reminding me

“Honey, it’s a group for Mom’s.  And I’m not a mom.”

Thank you for your strength through all of this.

Because I know this is not easy.

and finally

 

To our future little person, regardless of how long it takes for you to get here, you’re going to have a great life because you’ve got a hell of a mom.  She’s strong, passionate, Christ like, stubborn, beautiful, tall and iron-willed.  You’re will be fought for, protected, love and raised by the most amazing woman I’ve ever known.

And when you’re older, we’ll tell you the story of how long your mother and I waited for you.  How you’re a gift to us.  And how awesome you are.

 

The words we speak are incredibly powerful.

As I look across the past year and as I scroll through my social media feeds, I feel a massive chasm has opened in our country.  On each side people are shouting, desperate to be heard.  And even more desperate to drown out those the disagree with.

We hurl insults disguised as meme’s, we say things online we’d never say in a group setting and all the while, we ignore our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and coworkers, our friends and family who lie at the bottom of this chasm.  They have been wounded, hurt and alienated by the words we’ve spoken, agreed with, or not spoken against.

And instead of building bridges, we’re shouting at those on the other side.

Instead of reaching down and grasping the hands of those who’ve fallen or been trampled, we’re holding our signs in protest.

We’ve forgotten the power of the words we speak.

We’ve forgotten that we the people make this country great.  We the people carry the weight of our decisions.  We the people are responsible for where our country is and we the people are responsible for its healing.

It’s not someone else’s job.  It’s you and I.

You and I ignoring the vitriol and salacious comments, responding in love when we’re attacked or insulted.  It’s you and I extending the love of Christ when we’re trampled and stepped on.

It’s you and I.

We the people.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Unity, justice, tranquility, defense, general well-being and the blessings of liberty.

We the people.

I believe a lie.

Unintentionally.

Or, maybe even intentionally.

I believe a lie.

Some part of me has accepted as eternal what I know is only temporary.  Some part of me has assumed that life would always be the way it is right now.  Or the way it was a little more than 4 weeks ago.

I know, a lot of folks would look at the death of a pet as just that, the death of a pet.  Rarely however, do we know the whole story of another’s life.

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant for the better part of 2.5 years and have had no success, when you see your wife go through month after month perfectly healthy cycles, when the doctors prognosis is “unexplained infertility”, a pet may take on a little more meaning.

4 weeks ago our world was turned inside out.img_2810

What was the two of us and our beautiful Bailey working through this thing called infertility became just the two of us navigating unexpected and uncharted waters.

It’s not been easy.

And it’s been harder on my wife.

She’s fought so hard to keep a positive attitude even when it seemed like every couple we knew were cranking out kids like I sneeze around cats, that losing our “little girl” hit her hard.

There have been lots of tears.  Lots of “why?”.  Lots of trying to understand how my wife, who wants to love a child with all her being would have the closest thing we have to a child taken so suddenly.

It doesn’t make sense.

But it does make me love her more.

5 years ago this month I asked her to marry me, and I can say without any doubt that I wouldn’t want to walk this road with anyone but her.

She is strong.  She is brave.  She is passionate.  She is powerful and beautiful and caring.  She is an amazing woman and an amazing mom to our four-legged daughter.  And it angers me to know I cannot fix what is now wrong.

Time doesn’t heal wounds.

Yes, it takes time for us to understand what broke, to deal with the emotions, to talk through and work through the mess, but time is nothing more than the road traveled on the path to healing.

I don’t know what lies next on the road ahead of us.  But I do know my wife will never walk it alone.

5 years ago I said “I Do”.  And I mean those words now more than I ever have.

I do love you with all my heart.  I do promise to be there through thick and thin.  I do think you’re cute even when you’re angry at me about something.  I do believe that God is still good and good will come of this.  I do know you’re so much stronger than you think.  I do know you’ve got a bright future.  I do want to wake up next to you for the rest of my life because

I do know we’re inseparable.

And with all the unknowns in life, I’m going to cling to what I do know.

I know I love you.  I know you love me.  And I know God loves us.

So wherever, whenever, anytime, anyplace

I do.

I never seem to know exactly what words will flow when I put finger to keyboard.  So, rarely do my posts begin by immediately typing the title.

Today is different.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon, two words caught me.

Uncommon Courage.

And I realized that I think it is a myth.  I do not believe uncommon courage exists today.

Not anymore.

Because I think any courage today, is uncommon courage.

Today it is common to shout until you are heard or at least shout loud enough so no one else can hear the other guy.  Uncommon courage is to disagree with someone and allow them to speak.

It is common to disrupt and protest using violence.  It is uncommon courage to demonstrate peacefully.

It is common to become offended, declare loudly that someone is intolerant and while being just as intolerant, attempt to silence those who hold opposing views.  It is uncommon courage to be so certain of your beliefs that when someone disagrees, you are not insulted or offended.

It is uncommon courage to admit you were wrong, admit you need help, admit you are imperfect or flawed.

It is uncommon courage to admit you need a savior, that you struggle with fear or lust or worry or insecurity.  It is uncommon courage to stay faithful to your spouse, to provide for your family, to be a good parent.  It is uncommon courage to stand up for what is right simply because it is right.

Our world does not suffer from a lack of uncommon courage, it suffers from a lack of courage.quotescover-JPG-85

We traded a deep knowing of who we are for the shallow security of what other people think.  And in doing so, we gave away our courage.

We are no longer certain of our beliefs, so we defend when someone disagrees.  We are no longer certain of ourselves or that we are good, so we flee when things get difficult.  We are no longer certain we are loved, so we chose physical intimacy to numb the ache.  And we are terrified to be alone so we jump from relationship to relationship to fill the void.

We wandered away from knowing who HE is.  And we lost who we are.

The solution, as most are, is simple but not easy.

Vulnerability.  Being real with ourselves first and our friends and family second.  Being honest about our shortcomings, and our need of  a savior.  And being humble enough to allow Him to come in and change our hearts.

I am not there yet.  I am still flawed.  I still care about what others think about me, I am insecure, I struggle with fear and lust and pride and worry and… the list goes on.

No, I am not as courageous as I want to be.  But I am more courageous than I was last year, and I will be more courageous next year.

I will be a good husband.  I will love and provide for my wife.  I will follow the Heart of the One who courageously created beings with free will.  I will do the right thing just because it’s right.

And I will be courageous.

 

I don’t think we were meant to strive for perfection.

Maybe what we’re supposed to learn from a perfect God becoming human and living a perfect life, is that He knew we could not.

He wanted us to know that grace is good.

And that because of grace, mistakes are allowed.

And maybe that means we shouldn’t strive for an instagram-worthy life.

Maybe it means that the mom at the grocery store with drool stains and Cheerios stuck to her coat is beautiful and is closer to what God really wants to see than the businessman in his perfectly pressed suit.

He knew real life was never going to be perfect.  He knew once we tasted shame we’d spend lifetimes trying to hide it.recite-12r9et4

And in His perfection, He befriended the imperfect.

He never once called out their failures, He never once judged those who came to Him in need.  He knew real life doesn’t have auto-correct, undo, or backspace.

He knew we’d say things we wish we could swallow, do things we would give anything to forget, and hurt those around us in ways we were never meant to break.

He knew we would always be imperfect failures.  And yet He came anyway.  He took our place.  He lived a perfect life and died the death we earned so that we could live His resurrection.

So that we could become new.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.”

The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.
(revelation 21)

 

Everything.

New.

You, me, your history, your future, new.

All you have to do is ask.

Just ask.

 

Matt Redman – Never Once

There are moments in life where it seems all my efforts and hard work can be boiled down to balancing spinning plates or juggling for pocket-change from passerby’s.

I should be saving more.spinning plates

I should have read all the fine print.

I should be working out.

I’m not working hard enough.

Balls.  Plates.  Me.

Juggling, dancing, balancing, trying desperately to not let another plate drop.

Why am I so afraid of failing?  Of the sound of a plate crashing to the floor?  Am I still clinging to the foolish notion that somehow my efforts are what make me valuable?

Is that what life was meant to be like?  Is that what God envisioned when He painted the first sunrise?  7 billion people running around trying to balance plates?  Was that the dream in His heart?

Is it the dream in ours?

No one is born dreaming of TPS reports, P&L statements or business plans.  We dreamed of being the hero, or being rescued by one.  We dreamed of finding love and of changing the world.  We dreamed of being someone.  Of having stories to tell.

We dreamed of fulfilling our purpose on purpose.

But at some point, we stopped dreaming those dreams.   We didn’t necessarily give up , we just allowed these dreams to be replaced.  Now we wonder if we were we really designed to order our lives around being productive.

Do we really think He looks down from above and hopes we do not drop the ball?  That His biggest dream for all humanity is that we get satisfactory marks on our yearly performance reviews?

Was that really what God thought when He carved the Grand Canyon?

Or when He created you?

Or is it possible that He dreams bigger dreams?

Is it possible that this God of love, who created us in love, created us to love?

Is it possible that the artist who paints the sky each morning an evening only to throw away the canvas and start afresh the next day is somehow challenging us to let a few plates drop?  To not be so focused on performing and give ourselves permission to actually experience the life He wants for us?  Is it possible that this eternally creative being challenges us to be creative?

Is it possible that the passion in your heart, the artistry, creativity, and the wonder that is you was placed there on purpose?

“Remember these things, O Jacob.
Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant.
I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.
O Israel, I’ll never forget you.
I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings.
There’s nothing left of your sins.
Come back to me, come back.
I’ve redeemed you.”
(Isaiah 44)

I made you, shaped you.

You are His creation, created to create.  You are loved, loved to love.  You are unforgettable.

So yes, it is possible.

Let a few plates drop.  Make room in your life to pursue your dreams, create, love and live.

It’s why you’re here.

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