Tuesday, February 26, 2013

166 Addie Way

166 Addie Way. It was January 2007 when I first laid eyes on the property. The house I was shown back then looked a lot different from the house I just left, but I fell in love. It was more than just the house I liked, it was the dream I was envisioning. A house. A home. A family. And so an offer was made.

It was the very same day when I left the realtor's office and drove myself to the doctor's office only to be told having children naturally/normally wouldn't be possible. I found myself sitting in the driveway of 166 Addie Way staring up at blank windows that housed empty rooms where I had dreamed of children one day growing up. "Why God? If you're not going to give me children to fill up this house, then I don't want the house at all!"

Just a few days later the offer was accepted and the house would be called "home."

It was not an easy road of adoption, but in June 2008 Elijah Riley would be brought home to that address. Those same windows I had once stared at from the outside were now the windows where I was closing the blinds from the inside. That room had become his nursery.

April 29, 2011, a house fire destroyed that residence and thus began a 6 month rebuild process. The thing I've learned about building a house is it's much like building a home. Every single board nailed into place, every piece of drywall hung, every fixture that must be selected, every decision that must be made...it's all hard work, and yet each piece and part affects the greater whole that is being constructed. It all plays a role in the process of building. It's stressful. Difficult. Frustrating. Complicated. Tiresome. Overwhelming. And rewarding. Because the finished product bears the marks of all the time invested and decisions made. The outcome was not my own handiwork, but in large part it was my vision.

I moved into the new house in November 2011 and it was my home until February 2013. I didn't hang any pictures - I knew I wouldn't be there forever. But I did host plenty of family gatherings, made lots of lasting memories, and even endured the heckling and cackling of a psychotic neighbor. What I've also learned is a house isn't necessarily a home. Wood and nails, paint and fixtures don't make dreams come true. There were good times...and bad...but as I looked in the rearview mirror to say goodbye to the house that stands at 166 Addie Way, I was reminded to keep my eyes ahead.

His promise to me is for a hopeful future. I haven't yet opened the next door. I'm what they say "standing in the hallway" waiting for God's direction. I'm not exactly sure which door to open - or which one might open for me. I'm in transition - in the "in between." It can be a challenge in and of itself. For almost 3 years now I've lived in a state of flux which has caused my spirit to feel completely unsettled at times. For this girl who needs order and organization, I'm at times coming unglued at the thought that my stuff is literally residing in 4 places. What's my new address? Pick one! I've got stuff stored everywhere. (It's probably best we don't arrange a visit any time soon - unless you're inviting me over to YOUR place.)

I've been forced to face the reality that sometimes dreams change - just like your address. Sometimes life is lived in the hallways, where transition is inevitable and the next step remains unknown. I may not be unpacking here, but I've decided to settle in for awhile until He moves me.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Princess

It was a party fit for a princess...and a super hero. I know, I know. Everyone knows it's "Birthday Month" or as recently dubbed by Prince Charming, "FebruCarrie." I rather like that! However, I am forced to share. My one-and-only brother-in-law has a birthday just 3 days prior, so in true family fashion we had a combined party. There were princess banners and plates, but not to be out-done by the complimenting Spider Man-themed party paraphernalia.

More importantly, the boys had Spider Man masks while the girls donned Princess Crowns. Yes, Princess Crowns. My little man has been EMPHATIC about mommy wearing her crown and this has gone on for weeks! Even on a birthday outing Saturday, he insisted I keep my crown on the entire car ride to our destination. I lost count of the odd stares I got at the stoplights. In true princess fashion, I just smiled and waved.

My almost-two-year-old niece has recently become OBSESSED with all-things-princess. Cinderella is on repeat in her DVD player. She lines up her princess dolls at the entrance of the castle and has a Cinderella baby doll she treats as royalty. The minute she laid eyes on the crown I was wearing she pointed and exclaimed "PRINCESS!" She wanted to be crowned too. I placed a crown on her precious little curls and she beamed proudly. I'm not going to lie - we had a little moment. From one princess to another, I was relishing the sweet tenderness of holding a little girl.

As I watch my all-boy play with this little girl, I am struck by the obvious differences. They're as close as brother and sister, and while my son makes regular comments about how pretty she is or the fact that my crown makes me look beautiful, he's certainly not going to be caught with it on. He succinctly fulfills every part of the definition of "boy."

But this barely 2 year old dainty little girl has something inside her that so innately screams for the crown. She's a princess and she knows it.

I'm struck by this phenomenon, and as a daughter of the King of Kings I've long been taught my place in His royal court. I blogged the verse as I was ringing in my birthday, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God..." I Peter 2:9 

You'd better believe there's room for toddlers in tiaras because even little girls know they're meant for royalty. And more than just that, there is an innate longing created within us that desires to be treasured, honored, loved, prized, and treated as someone's queen.

I've listened to the heart-cries of women, broken, battered and abused, longing for the lover of their soul to swoop in on the white horse and carry them off into their happily ever after. I've witnessed the devastation experienced by those empty, lost, lonely, longing, insecure and feeling less than perfect. I know. I've dreamed the same dreams...and cried the same tears. Do you know I heard a statistic the other day that more than 70% of women say if they're having a bad hair day it affects their entire mood and day?! I'm sure to be one of them.

Even on my unloveliest of days (we're talking so far beyond just a bad hair day) the one thing I know to be true is I was created and chosen to be royalty. And as part of His royal court, I am given this promise found in Psalm 45:11, "The king is entrhalled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Oh yes, there it is.

When I feel unloveable, He loves me.
When I feel unworthy, He redeems me.
When I fall, He rescues me.
When I am abandoned, He is with me.
When I'm weak, He's my strength.
When I look in the mirror and hate everything about myself, He looks upon me as His treasured creation (Psalm 139) and His chosen daughter (1 Peter 2:9) and He, the King over all, is enthralled with my beauty!

Wear the crown. Be the crown. You ARE the crown! Because you, daughter, are a child of the King ... and that makes you His princess!

Monday, February 18, 2013

34

I'm ringing in my birthday with a blog. The much anticipated day is just minutes away. Even as I type I am surrounded by the people I love most in this world, all slumbering, but still close by. Life is a bit chaotic in the midst of boxes and moving and changing addresses and temporary locations with permanency yet to be figured out. There are fears of the unknown. Unresolved issues. Things yet to deal with. Outcomes yet to be revealed. And amid all that swirls around me in a state of flux, there is peace. There is joy. There is a constant stream of everlasting love that is mine to claim. Oh how I praise Him!

As I stare 34 down with wide eyes, I embrace tomorrow and all this upcoming year holds. Beyond blessed. That's all I can come up with to sum up God's infinite work of grace and mercy in my life. Make no mistake, even as He formed me and planned for my life to begin on this day 34 years ago, He also knew the redeeming work He'd have to perform. I'm so grateful for His unconditional love. I'm so blessed by His hand at work. I'm caught speechless by how He chose even me.

So, here we are...another birthday, another year to celebrate and thank God for giving me life, and another opportunity to discover His plan for me while I am here.

I realize I joke a lot about this day and my celebration of it. Even my young son has given me a crown to wear in honor of my birthday and keeps making me put it on. But the truth of the matter is, we are royalty. I am the daughter of the King of Kings. Yes, I know. Princess I may not be...but royalty He says I am. So I will don my title, the one He's giving me claiming me as His. And this year more than ever before I give Him all of me, all of this life He's given me, all for His glory.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into Hi marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love Is In the Air

It's the day before Valentine's Day...

I've been wearing my red-themed outfits since Sunday. Whether or not I had a reason to celebrate has never stopped me from having a good celebration. But I can honestly say I've never quite understood all the hype. It's a holiday I've only celebrated at face value in years past. Maybe it was my bad attitude or hurting heart. Maybe it was the fact that it was only 5 days before my all-time favorite day to celebrate. Maybe it was my belief that you shouldn't need a national holiday to remind you to tell the person you love that you love them.

This year I've got a lot to celebrate. Last night I let my little boy pick out special gifts for a few people he wanted to buy for. He was so proud to give his gifts, especially the heart-shaped Dora balloon he picked out for his baby cousin. This morning he asked me if it was Valentine's Day and I explained he had one more day to wait. He then got sad and said something was wrong, "Mom, I forgot to buy you a Valentine." I kissed him on the cheek and reminded him that HE was my gift and I loved him very much. He was "mostly" satisfied, but then intently said, "Mom? Do you know that I love you?" <<<HEART MELT>>>

Today I walked down the hall carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I was well aware of the stares, the "awww's" and sighs, and those who were secretly hating me. I know. Truthfully, I count myself among the blessed to be celebrating, but to some of you I am among the despised and scorned. I get it. And I've been there. It was just a year ago that I was still dreading the holiday and making up every excuse to not let it get to me. This Valentine's post is dedicated to those of you who are bracing yourselves for the onslaught of tomorrow.

You are the single moms who are celebrating the love you have for your children in hopes of masking the loneliness you feel.

You are the wives whose hearts are breaking behind closed doors as you try to pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams.

You are the single young ladies who are hoping and believing in this thing called true love.

You are the young women hiding behind the smiles as you try to be happy for those around you.

You are the hopeful romantic who's desperately trying not to lose hope...

You are the one who's given up hope that you are worthy of love.

You are the faithful daughters clinging to the everlasting love of your Heavenly Father, yet praying for a tangible earthly expression all the same.

No matter how much you convince yourself you'll get through it, you can't escape it. You can't walk into any store without being bombarded by pink and red hearts consuming the aisles. 8 billion conversation hearts will be eaten. 150 million cards will be sent. Almost 200 million stems of red roses will bedelivered. More than $1 billion worth of chocolate will be consumed.

Even my dentist office was celebrating. I went in for a regularly scheduled cleaning and walked out with chocolates and a single red rose. Had that been last year, I probably would have thought "How sweet..." then burst into tears once in the car.

I know many of you would be happy to have just one box of those little conversation hearts. Or even a single red rose would suffice. Assuming it came with the message - and meaning - of love. It's not something you can buy. It's not available in stores or online. Oh I know. Some of you are desperately searching, mingling, and praying for a match. If you find yourself dateless, flowerless, cardless and chocolate-less, if you are bracing yourself for what you know will be another day to choke back the tears and conceal the emptiness, I have no words of wisdom. (Let's be honest, if you're battling loneliness during the "loveliest" day of the year, I'm the last person you want to hear advice from.) So don't listen to my words. Listen to His.

"Child? Do you know that I love you?"
<<<HEART MELT>>>

He has loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

He will rejoice over you with gladness and quiet you with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).

You are His beloved.

I know that doesn't take the place of the bouquets and heart shaped box full of chocolates. But it is the assurance that He loves you and wants what's BEST for you. No immitations, exchanges or refunds. This is so much more then mending broken hearts and patching together shattered dreams. This is love - THE REAL THING - lavished upon you and honoring you as His chosen. Even while your heart is aching, He is working it all out for your good. Love is not just in the air - it is not just for a day. This is love everlasting.

My Beloved










Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 2013


It's February...and that means it's BIRTHDAY MONTH!
The highly anticipated, over-celebrated, completely exaggerated and attention-grabbing festivities that I look forward to every year have begun! WOO HOO! Yes, I know... While I am over here donning my birthday crown and waving my pom poms, some of you may be rolling your eyes. Psh.
 
I'm not exactly sure how this all began. I am sure I could blame it on my childhood, certainly my mother bears the bulk of responsibility for always making our birthdays such a BIG deal (at least that's what a counselor would have me believe while poking around in the soil of my upbringing, right?!). The truth is I've always loved my birthday, at no one's doing but my own, and the entire month of February. I love that God in His infinite wisdom planned for me to be born in the month of the year which boasts my favorite color purple with its amethyst birthstone.
 
I love that it is a month (at least in Virginia) that brings a plethora of weather, including snow, which also happens to be one of my favorite things. (Last year it actually snowed ON my birthday! If that wasn't God just blessing me with my very own birthday present!)
 
I love that it's the only month with 28 days (sometimes 29) and has extra special "uniqueness" from all the other months. I mean, come on, you can't deny the "mystery" in this 28/29 day month that happens every 4 years! Maybe this is why I'm so, uh, "unique"?! Ha...
 
Tack on a national holiday that is also widely over-rated... (I'm not anti-Valentine's Day. I've never bought into the paganism society has brought to a day set aside to remember to say you love someone. I am of the mindset that saying "I Love You" should be a daily and normal occurrence. Certainly, I can appreciate any good celebration so I'm not overlooking this day of love. The truth is I've never really had a "date" on Valentine's Day...but that is changing this year!)
 
When I think about the God of the universe fashioning me and forming me in His own image, it blows my mind that He had already planned all the days of my life starting with the day of my birth. (By the way, it's the 19th!)
 
He knew the day I would come home from Sunday school and kneel beside my bed and pray to receive His gift of salvation.
 
He knew the day, years later, I'd finally have the courage to go before the church and be baptized.

He knew the day I'd take a public stand among my peers about my beliefs.
 
He knew the day I'd face temptation and claim victory in His name.
 
He knew the day I'd choose my own way instead.
 
He knew the day I'd succeed and be applauded for accomplishments and talents He chose to bless me with.
 
He knew the day I'd wake up and do nothing special at all.
 
He has had each and every day planned for me, even though at times I've been completely unaware of the plan. He knew the day I'd decide to take things into my own hands. He knew the day He'd welcome me back with open arms. He knew the day He'd rejoice with me. And He knew the day I'd fail Him. He's known each and every day, even the times when I'd choose something outside of His will.
 
Another year is approaching. The month has already included a trip to the circus, birthday cards, and more festivities to come. But the month also includes boxes, packing, moving and a lot of uncertainty. I don't know what His plan includes for the upcoming year, but I know He's already got a plan and I'm trusting in Him as each day unfolds.
Birthday cards! (I'm more than 30...but this is an inside joke!)

Dat..dat...datta...da...Afro Circus...Polka Dot...Polka Dot....AFRO! Fun at the Circus!

Um...I'm trying to pack!