Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Moving Out.

A little over a year ago, I re-started this blog with this post. I wasn't sure what the heck I was doing. I was too scared to write in first person. Somehow I felt like all those you's could shield me a little bit. I was trying to be obedient....but I was so afraid to hope. Maybe this could be a thing. Could be my thing. Perhaps this was the start of the fruition of promises that God started to speak into my heart when I was only 12.

Today I am proclaiming it. I believe that the Lord has called me to write. I believe Him today as I did the day He told that awkward almost 7th grader with the terrible, terrible haircut that He wanted my voice. That He would use it for His glory.

In so many ways this is bittersweet. It feels very much like the time I packed all my stuff out of my room from my childhood and into a u-haul because I would not be returning home as Abby France anymore. I would return as Abby Norman, and I would call a new place home, a new person my family. I remember returning to that space one last time, looking around and saying goodbye. It was sad, but it was time. God had new adventures for me elsewhere.

I have grown up as a writer on this blog, like I grew up in that room. I hope I have shed at least some of my awkward beginning. It is a little sad leaving, but it is time. The Lord is calling me elsewhere. I have transferred most of the content here to and that is where you can find me from here on out.

Thank you for reading, for commenting, for encouraging me. I hope you will come join me at Accidental Devotional. I am excited to see what the Lord has for me, maybe He has something for you too?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Traveling Mercies

We travel a lot as a family. Christian and I in the front, the Peanut next to the Rooster next to the dog in the back. It is a tight squeeze, especially with the Christmas haul in the back. The Peanut got a ride on fire truck and a Radio Flier big wheel for Christmas. Grandparenting looks like it will be a lot of fun. Every time we leave a driveway to go up and down interstate 75 we pray for traveling mercies.

When I pray for traveling mercies, I have a certain idea in my head about it. In my world traveling mercies look something like this: kids asleep or playing nicely with each other in the back (yes, I am speaking about children who are not yet old enough to be front facing), dog asleep, no traffic, no inclement weather, no line at the Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts when we pull off, no poopy diapers, minimal bathroom stops and inside warm bathrooms with changing stations for both mom and dad when we need them, we arrive in the destined driveway 15 minutes before the GPS originally said we would. The crazy thing is that I can recall multiple trips that were like this.

The way home from my in-laws started the same way we always start car trips. We prayed for traveling mercies. And then just an hour in to our trip we hit dead stopped traffic outside of Cincinnati. Both kids were asleep in the back and we were not about to let a stopped car wake them up. (Rilla Rilla Rooster Head, hates it when the light turns red.) So we turned around to go the other way, and 45 minutes later we were stuck in another branch of the same stupid traffic jam. What. The. Heck. And when we finally got passed that the going was snowy and so so slow.......So we took a dinner break outside of Elisabeth town.

And wouldn't you know it the there was a Chik-Fil-A, (traveling mercy) that was having kids night so they were fully prepared to help us get the tray to our table and entertain the Peanut (traveling mercy) and it gave the good plows enough time to go before us (traveling mercy). It was slow going but doable until we got outside of Lexington, and we hit a patch of black ice and started fish tailing and Christian started steering and I started praying, and when it was all said and done and no one was hit my 20 month old rear facing Peanut started pointing "see, see, flying see." No, I don't see, but yes I certainly do see, angels of traveling mercy.

We got stopped again outside of Knoxville, and after being dead stopped on the side of the road for over an hour where I tucked the Rooster into her bear suit and walked her up and down and up and down the freezing cold high way to get her to stop screaming until we were finally moving again we decided to stop. This was one of the first times we had the money in our account to not blink about the cost of a hotel. And there was a Red-Roof-Inn, that takes dogs, with one room left. Traveling mercies anyone?

We arrived safely the next day in the beautiful sunshine well rested enough that it wasn't a big deal to bring all of our stuff into the house. In fact there wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed with fresh clothes and a hot shower for all.

And I was struck with the thought in my little house with my little family and my little dog, that we were home safe and sound and showered. That maybe it wasn't the kinds of mercies I was anticipating, but the Lord is merciful all the same. Sometimes God parts the clouds, and we avoid the storm all together by His mercy, and sometimes God takes us through the storm and provides His mercies in the midst of it.

You would think that there I would have learned my lesson, but just a few days later someone lost the paper I needed to go back to work, and I prayed for God's mercy. I was just so sure He was going to show me where I had placed the extra copy I had been hanging on to, I was so sure I would find it in the trash I was digging through. I would find God's mercy and my paper there. Instead, I found His mercy in a mid-wife who wrote whatever note I needed, and an incredibly gracious and understanding department that covered my classes until the moment I walked in the door with that paper. His mercies.....I need to start looking better, I seem to be finding them in the most interesting of places.

Where have you seen God's mercy lately? Surely I can't be the only one discovering them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ohhh baby (body).

I was walking out to the stadium in a sea of fire drill induced students last week. As I rounded the corner I heard it. One girl to another "I am like going to get soooo fat this semester." I didn't have to turn around to know that the girl probably weighed less than 125 pounds. Only skinny girls say that. Only the ones who don't actually have to worry about anyone else commenting about their weight. Why in the world was she concerned about her body fat? If I still had that metabolism I wouldn't be wasting time saying "I am going to get soooo fat" when I could be shoving copious amounts of peanut butter m&m's in my mouth.

This came just hours after I had had a mini break down in my closet because I couldn't find a work-appropriate-Friday-casual-sweat shirt to put over my post baby body. I looked in the mirror and all I could see was what was wrong. My pull over was just too tight for my vanities comfort. And dress pants are less than forgiving as well. The "bottom half" part of dressing every day is not something I look forward to.

And yesterday, a girl in the special-ed class pointed at my stomach as we were passing in the hallway and said "you are going to have a baby!" Wow.....that...felt....awesome... I couldn't even yell at her for doing it as developmentally, she is just in that stage right now.

In high school and college I never thought I had body issues. I mean, not the looks kind. No matter whether my body could get me out of bed and to school on time, It turns out that at 5'6" and 120 odd pounds you do have body issues, you just don't realize it because society approves of your body. But it turns out I have them. And having babies back to back has brought them out in me.

It is ironic in the worst sort of way. I have never been healthier. Truly. I am stronger than I have ever been (thanks to the healthy weight of the Peanut and five pm toddler dance parties). I don't wake up every day in pain or so exhausted I am literally puking. I have the freedom to make plans without saying "as long as I feel up to it." I can grow and birth babies with comparatively minimal difficulties. My body works great. And yet, I have never been harder on it.

When I tell my daughters that it is what is inside that counts, I want to mean it. When I tell them they are beautiful, not they  would be  beautiful if....I want them to believe me. I want to be conscious of my diet and exercise because I want to be able to play with my girls, not so I can fit into all my pre-baby clothes. I want to live out for them "beautiful and healthy comes in lots of shapes and sizes" not "it matters what the boys think, and they like skinny bodies."

I know that I am slowly making my way back into my clothes, but I also know that my body will be different than it was before. And I want to be okay with that. Proud of that even. I don't like the way my students talk about their own bodies as the enemy at the ripe age of 15. How did that happen? How did a 15 year old in a size 0 come to fear an extra five pounds above all else? How did a 28 year-old who was miraculously healed of a disorder Dr.'s still don't even know how to diagnose come to loathe a healthy working body that has fed and housed two beautiful babes? How did that happened?

Could it be that this world offers very little grace? We are told that good enough isn't good enough! Perfection is the new good enough! That if we only tried harder did more we could and would reach the standard that is in fact impossible to reach. And not just in our physique, in our jobs, as parents, as friends and Christ followers. I feel like the world is screaming at me: If you only tried harder you would do better! You aren't enough! Bad parent! Bad wife! Bad teacher! Bad, bad, bad, step it up!

It is time for me to tell the world to shut it. There is no longer space in my thoughts for those lies. God says I am enough. My body is enough, whether it fits into my dress pants or not. I am done running on that treadmill that gets me nowhere even as it increases in speed and incline. I will instead stroll hand and hand through the day with my savior, whose burden is light. I will do the best I can, and trust His grace to see me through. Rather than depend on my own efforts. And I will be kind and gracious, even to myself.

This body of mine seems to be ground zero for me when it comes to my year of giving grace to myself and others. And I am starting to understand why. It is the thing I can't hide. The thing that is out there, not explained away. It isn't perfect, and that is okay, imperfectly perfect even. Yes, I think we will start calling it that instead. After all isn't that what Paul said? Something about God's perfections coming through from my weaknesses?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Yeah, that. I think that sounds good.