Fumbling

With my oldest three girls, we took away the pacifier pretty early. That’s what everyone told us to do.

Unfortunately, then they all became thumb-suckers, and I’m here to tell you, that’s a hard habit to break.

When Charlotte turned 2, I decided it was time to start weaning her from the “paa-thi,” and by “weaning,” I mean “I lost the last one and was too lazy to go to the store.”

Creating and executing a plan has never been a strong suit for me.

So it was bedtime and the thing was nowhere to be found. I started to rock Charlotte and she said, “Wansome miwk, pease.” I got her milk. Warmed just the way she likes it. I hadn’t figured out what I would do when she finished it, because the next step in the routine involves paa-thi. Sure enough, her eyes rolled back in her head while she sipped, and as soon as it was gone she opened them wide, grabbed her “blank-let,” and asked for the pacifier. I came up with a flawless plan I will refer to here as “panic.”

“Paci went bye-bye, honey.”

She stared straight ahead, then looked at me incredulously.

“Want paa-thi. Pease.” She wasn’t freaking out yet, so I gave her the same excuse. I said it like I was sad too, so we could share the disappointment. She considered what I had said, and like the mature toddler she is, she decided to cope with the realization by re-enacting a scene from the Exorcist.

Actually, it wasn’t as horrible as I expected. She cried, and when I laid her in her bed she kept repeating “Paaaaaaaathiiii. No bye-bye,” which is almost enough to make a grown woman drive to Walgreens in her pajamas. But we made it through the first night, and when naptime came around again the next day we went over the specifics again. Listen, I know I could have added a fairy or pretended we were giving it to the new babies that were born at the hospital. It was a spontaneous moment, so “went bye-bye” was as detailed as I got.

For three nights she whined when it was time to sleep, and together we kept repeating, “Paci went bye-bye. All gone.” On the fourth night, she didn’t ask.

And I decided the fairies would have been a waste of creative energy.

I mean, this was flawless. I had broken her of the habit I believed she might bring to college with her, and she wasn’t even 25 months old. For weeks we went on this way, and all was well. There was one incident that involved the vacuum and a paci that had found it’s way under the couch, but overall we got through it just fine.

Until, you know, the road trip.

Ten hours in a car with a screaming kid will make you abandon any moral decision you have made in a sedentary setting. I made it for 6. Does that count for anything? Finally I looked at Todd and said, “I’m just going to give her the one that’s in the glove compartment. We’ll just let her have it for long road trips.” I nodded assuringly. Yeah, it didn’t even make sense to me.

He stared at the road, because options are limited for a man trying to be a good husband and dad when his wife looks like she is going to exit the car via window at 70 miles an hour.

“Okay?” I asked, in a tone that meant, “I’m not interested in you making sounds with your mouth unless the word yes is involved.” He nodded, because he was afraid of me.

Stupid fairy. I should have listened.

“OHHHHHH, Charlotte!!!” I said it with hopeful, dramatic animation and all of my kids looked up to see what was happening. “I found it!!! Mommy found your paci!!!! She stopped crying and stared at me. So did the other three.

“I thought we took that away from her, mommy!” Ellie shouted. Thank you, first-born, for being so very on top of things.

“Well, we have a new plan.” {mumbling} “So she can have it until…while we….when it’s…uhhhh.” {panic sets in} “Until the new babies at the hospital need one.”

Dang it.

Yeah, that would have been a solid Plan A right there.

They were not amused, and Ellie eyed me while putting her headphones back on, squinting suspiciously while reaching for her bag of chips to watch what happened next.

“Here you go, honey! YAAAYYYYYYY! PACI!!!!!” I think she was confused, and quite frankly, the maniacal overly-excited and breathy voice I had adopted was probably not helping.

She didn’t reach for it. She just stared.

So I unbuckled, leaned back to her and set it on her lap. I knew we were going to enter a bigger war, but the truth was, I was desperate for the end of the battle. The car was quiet for the first time in what seemed like eternity. She reached for it and then did something I have processed for weeks.

She picked it up and studied it like it was a foreign object. “Paa-thi.” She said, finally. And then she took it and rolled it around in her fingers, pushing it flat and then stretching it out again.

“What’s she doing?” Todd asked.

“I think she’s just remembering it.” I answered.

Truthfully, I was perplexed at how she could have forgotten the wonder-paci this quickly because it had been her lifeline since day one.

“Put it in your mouth, Char.” I said, nudging it toward her lips. I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes. I am a stellar parent.

Her eyes never left mine, but eventually she did put it in her mouth, where she moved it around awkwardly and took it out to stare at again.

After about 5 minutes of this routine, I heard her say, “Mommy, here go.”

And she handed it back to me.

Smiling.

She didn’t need it anymore, and she knew it.

She had been away from it so long that she didn’t remember why she ever did. It might as well have been a paper clip or a piece of clay. It was rendered useless to her by virtue of the fact that she had experienced life without it, and it didn’t comfort her anymore.

The instant it happened I knew I would write about it, because it’s how I see life. What I didn’t know is how profoundly it would speak to me in the days to come, as I considered my own crutches in life. The way I remove them, stagger away, only to return to them again in weakness. I don’t need you anymore. That’s what I should say. But even as a Christian woman, there are plenty of things to lean on when I know they shouldn’t soothe me.

What I have prayed many times over since that day is simply this: “I only want to need You. Take the rest away and make it foreign to my lips.”

Let me fumble with what once satisfied me and wonder why I needed it in the first place.

It’s the victory of defeat, and it’s ours for the taking. It doesn’t have to follow an elaborate plan. We simply repeat the phrase as many times as we need to. “Goodbye.”

No long-winded explanation or amazing story. Just the prayer of a desperate heart, hungry for peace when life won’t stand still long enough to catch your breath. I don’t need you anymore.

You cannot bring me rest…

I will never forget the way a 2 year old ministered to me.

Hours more of highway left to go, but so much ground behind us.

Lord, shake us free from that which can never satisfy. We will be steadfast in our faith and quick to give you praise…

Mended Contest Winner!!

[From Angie's Editor]

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest. We truly wish we could give each of you a day at the spa! And although we can’t, we are going to send a free copy of Mended to each of you who entered a link to the contest post. Email the link to your Mended post and your mailing information to mendedbook@gmail.com and we will send you the book!

Now, for the winner of the spa gift certificate! Lauren Alexander was drawn as the winner. Lauren, email us at mendedbook@gmail.com and we’ll get the details worked out. Lauren’s post encouraged us and we hope also serves to encourage you as you consider what it means to be mended: Stitched Together. 

One of Heather’s dress-ups got ripped a few weeks ago. Ty was standing on it and Heather started moving, and the garment tore at one of the seams. She still wears it and prances around, pretending to be the princess at the ball. It doesn’t bother her because the dress is still held together albeit barely.

I hate it when people say things are ripped clean in half, because with the fabric of our days that is never true. There are always frayed edges and tattered pieces of cloth left behind.

The word “cancer” sometimes makes me feel tattered inside all over again, unraveling a barrage of painful memories and hopes dashed to the front of my memory, thread fringes hanging from a torn garment.

My mom was gone from me too quickly while in the prime of her life and faith, the edges of my life ripped at the seams for all to witness.

I felt orphaned, and honestly I have yet to experience a lonelier feeling. Loved ones were near, but dangerously near – so close that I lived in danger of seeing my tattered heart shred completely should I have lost another.

Friends, it wasn’t time that healed the wound or hemmed the brokenness into something that could be used. Oh no.
That was the Lord, sewing my pain into a robe of joy. Might I share with you the testimony and timeline of the mending?

In April 2007, just a few short months before my mom died, there was a baby born into a family filled with chaos and confusion. A baby girl I didn’t know existed at the time, but one of the babies God would use to sew up my busted soul.

Then, in February of 2008, in the depth of my anguish and grief, just a few days shy of my mother’s birthday, another baby girl was born to that same family. Little did I know, this tiny stranger would soon be inextricably tied to my destiny.

In March of 2010, just one day shy of celebrating our 1 month wedding anniversary, a dimpled baby boy entered this world, a brother to those two baby girls. I had no idea this child I’d never met would bring our home such joy and laughter.

It was around this time God began whispering those two foreign words to me: foster care. I ignored it for as long as I could and finally gave in with great reluctance.

We were married just shy of 8 months when those two little girls and that little boy came to live with us, tiny aching hearts from a deeply broken situation.

Unraveled.

I recognized the pain in their eyes because I had seen it in my own. Had I never felt orphaned, I don’t know that I would have identified with the plight of the orphan the way that I do. The Word of Life jumps off the page even to this day as I think about how God transformed deep pain into purpose.

Can the torn cloth really participate in the work of the Mender?

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. - 2 Corinthians 1, The Message

The deep truth is this: we were undone, and now we look back with gratitude at the kindness Jesus showed to repair us in such an unlikely and unique way.

The Father of all comfort is using the threads of Tabbitha, Heather, and Ty’s little lives to hem up my brokenness.
God is purposing my orphaned heart to bring redemption to their story that included abandonment and disappointment. This family of five has been sewn together with the loving tenderness of our God’s healing needle and thread. Sometimes it hurts and it continues to unearth our need for Him and each other.

The Mender is stitching all of us together, tattered ends lost in the love He has for us and the love we have for each other.

We are nearing the adoption, but just because the paper trail will be over and the gavel will bang doesn’t mean the Lord is done knitting us. No, it won’t be complete until That Day. We keep looking forward to the moment we’ve been longing for as the people of God: when we trade in our ripped dress ups for the beautiful gown, stitched with love by our King. No more mending to be done, only celebrating and clothing ourselves in the Righteousness He earned for us.

Until then, as Dave Barnes wrote,
“We are stitched together
and what Love has tethered I pray we never undo.”

He is before all things,and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

Thank you so much. And, while Angie’s handed over this post to me, can I encourage you to post a comment on here and/or a review on Amazon about how Angie’s writing has been used by the Lord in your life? Angie will probably strangle me for suggesting that (Hi Ang), but as someone who works with her I can attest to the fact that her heart’s desire is not anything self serving, but rather it is for God to show His power through what He has mended in her. Writing and publishing is long and difficult, so I know it would encourage her to get a peek into how God is using the words He has given her in your life, as I’m positive that He is.

And . . . I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you that you can go buy Mended here and here . . . or in a fine bookstore near you.

Thanks again for your support of Angie!

The Mender {And a Great Opportunity!}

By about the third time I said, “The timing of this attack is so strange…” I realized two things. One: No, it isn’t. Two: Evidently I’m a much slower learner than I believed myself to be.

It was calculated, of course. A punch in the gut at a moment when the enemy knew I could barely get to my knees. And the truth is, I didn’t leave the battle unscathed.

The Lord has been dealing with me on a few things that aren’t exactly easy. I’m digging into the crevices that have long held power over me, and the enemy of my soul isn’t crazy about the excavation.

I told the Lord I was afraid to travel anymore.

He told me I was going to Peru.

I told the Lord I was too tired to write.

He told me I was relying too much on my own hands.

I told the Lord I had nothing left.

And He whispered, “Finally.”

If I were to be really, really honest with you, I would tell you that as a 25-ish year old woman (what? WHAT?!?!?!), I still struggle with the same thing I did as an 8 year old child.

I was the shortest kid in my class by a landslide. I was also, according to my dad, as fast as the wind.

On team sports day, all the kids would line up at the starting point and I would be shoulders below my classmates.

On one occasion, the man sitting behind my dad made a comment about the “pipsqueak” who was ready to race. My dad sat silent, because he had a feeling he knew what was coming next.

He was right.

According to him, as soon as the whistle blew, my tiny little legs took off and didn’t slow down until I crossed the finish line, which always happened way before anyone elses did.

On this particular day, my dad said he stood up with everyone else as the race ended, turned to the man behind him and said, “By the way, that’s my little pipsqueak.”

I loved to run.

But more than that, I loved people’s reaction when I won.

And over the years, the Lord has taught me (Over and over. And then some more) that I need to stop running for the crowd. The applause is one thing, but truthfully, it’s not what pushes me. It’s the fear of disappointing anyone that haunts me. The feeling that I’m not enough, or that I’ve failed someone. It’s a miserable way to approach the race, let me tell you.

It’s not an easy lesson, nor is it one I would say I have fully mastered. I can probably recite to you (verbatim, with emotion, not unlike a monologue from a Lifetime movie) all the really negative comments I have gotten after nearly 5 years of blogging. I can point you to the people who crushed my spirit by telling me I was something I wasn’t. I can be consumed by it.

And that which bandaged my flesh became a tourniquet to my soul.

I realized what influence they had on me…and the way the crowd could twist their heads away and convince me I was a failure. For most of my life I’ve been desperate to know I was good enough, and they were the ones that told me.

You can ever really be mended when your eyes are searching theirs. Maybe you’ve found this to be true in your own life as well.

You’ve asked the others to make you beautiful, to make you brave, to convince you that your brokenness is curable with praise.

But deep down, you’ve always known better.

Flesh will fail us, and we are left with the bruises.

Who is it you’ve been looking to? A spouse? A parent? Siblings, friends, co-workers? The list goes on.

And we are weary of the journey, aren’t we?

Leave the mending to the Mender, love.

You run this race the way you do because you were made to do it.

He chose those tiny little legs and even He laughed when they said you couldn’t.

Because He knew better.

Your legs are burning and your heart is pounding. You don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore. All the while, He has kept His eyes fixed on you.

When they said you couldn’t, He urged the wind a little harder on your back.

When they told you it was for nothing, He reminded you it never is.

He wants you to be mended, to be whole, to be fully aware of His impossibly perfect love for you.

Run the way you were created to run, and ignore the crowd.

You will learn there is only one voice that matters after all, and it’s the one you’ve been looking for in every other face you’ve met.

He’s here, and He has seen every bit of it.

He will see every step from now until the finish, and I can’t help but imagine He is proud when we do.

Gasping for air or just hitting my stride, I pray I make Him proud by pressing on.

“See that one? She’s my little pipsqueak…”

:)

Thank you, Lord. You have made me run in a way I never knew I could. May it please you and bring you glory.

~A

Now for the fun part!! :)
We want to know how God has mended you from a previous place of brokenness or a place of brokenness for which you are currently praying for mending. Let’s encourage one another by sharing our stories so we know that we aren’t alone. And, in celebration of Angie’s new release, Mended B&H Publishing is going to give one of you who shares your story a day at a spa near you for you and a friend! Get a facial, pedicure, manicure, massage . . . the whole works! Here are the details on how you can share your story and be entered to win:
  1. If you have a blog, write a post reflecting either on an area in which you have been mended or a place of brokenness for which you are seeking to be mended. Include the following text in your post an explanation that this is in celebration of Mending releasing and specify that “it can be purchased here or here.”
  2. If you don’t have a blog or prefer to share via video, record a video sharing your story of brokenness/being mended and upload it to youtube. In the description explain that this is in celebration of Mending releasing and specify that “it can be purchased here or here.
  3. Then, come back to Angie’s blog and add the link to where you’ve posted on your blog or youtube to the linky on this post. Each person who adds their link will be entered into the drawing to be selected at random. And . . . you may be able to be entered more than once! Each post/video will be checked by the publisher at the conclusion of the contest and for every 25 “likes” (Facebook) or tweets of your post by your readers, your name will be entered again! The more your friends respond, the more entries you receive!
  4. All submissions must be posted by 12:01AM on September 11. A name will be drawn and the winning post will be posted on Angie’s blog on September 13 as a way to announce the winner.