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Daddy’s Girl

It wasn’t always pretty. 

The first several years of my life being a Daddy’s girl just came naturally to me.  I was the princess of the family (some things never change, am I right?) and my Dad was as important as oxygen.  Always there, every bedtime, every ball practice, every game, every loose tooth, every major sporting event on TV, etc. 

Idyllic?  Hardly.  Perfect?  Not even.
Parents who are on the fast track to divorce don’t make for a peaceful, perfect household.  But even in the midst of what I remember as a chaotic season of life, my Dad never let go of me.  Not when I talked back, not when I got in endless battles with my new step-mom, not when I wished my baby brother could go back to wherever he came from, not when I was selfish and sassy, not even when my sister & I screamed and hit and cried endlessly to the point that it had to be rage inducing to anyone within earshot. 

Was he perfect?  Nope.
But he was there.  I didn’t know then what I know now:  A lot of men at his age in his situation (early 30′s and newly divorced) would have used that as a chance to run.  Start over.  Be free.  An every other weekend commitment leaving 26 days a month to focus on yourself.  My Dad didn’t do that, and his decision to keep being my Daddy, not just my father, changed my life.

He kept working hard to help provide for everything we needed.  He drove me around on days where I was not his “legal” responsibility – to school, to practice, to a friends house, to church, appointments, and back home again.  He came up with money above his “legal” responsibility of child support whenever I needed it.  He worried about me… my grades, my friendships, my sicknesses and injuries, my relationships, even when my physical absence in his home could have let him zone out to his TV or be consumed by his new wife & baby boy. 

I became a teenager and my quick temper (a gift from my Dad) combined with my new found teenage hormones forced my family to live with an absolute crazy person.  Let’s just say two hot tempered people with similar personalities under the same roof is a recipe for near disaster.  I yelled, he yelled back.  He would get so made spit would be flying out of his mouth as he yelled, and instead of realizing I was pushing him over the edge I would scream into his face “YOU’RE SPITTING ON ME!” and he would scream back “I’M GOING TO DO MORE THAN SPIT IF YOU DON’T SETTLE DOWN!” and it wouldn’t phase me in the slightest.  I pushed him to his breaking point over, and over, and over.  I didn’t care how many times I got the belt, or yelled at, or raised his blood pressure.  I was the definition of spoiled brat and my poor Dad fought with me every time.  Maybe it’s crazy, but there’s a piece of me that looks back and laughs at so many of those tense, borderline unsafe moments, because what my Dad COULD HAVE done is ignore me in all my teenage angst.  He could have walked away, refused to engage, and created distance between us.  But he fought me time after time, and maybe fighting isn’t the best way to deal with an irrational teenager, but it did say to me something that has never left me:  I’d rather fight with you day after day than leave you.  You make me angry and I’d like to beat the teenager out of you sometimes, but you’re worth the fight. 

Thankfully I grew out of (most of) my irrational & angry teenage years, and adulthood has looked something like this:

College, round one – Dad packed me up & moved me in, then let me come back home a week later when I realized I just wasn’t ready to be on my own yet.

College, round two – Dad packed me up & paid for my car so I could go away to my dream school.  He drove 8 hours round trip to pick me up for Thanksgiving when my car needed work.  He also paid for the work on my car because I was a poor college student.

Big Move, round one – I moved to Ohio (10 hours away) on a whim.  Dad packed me up, loaded our cars, and followed me the whole way there.  Moved me in and drove away, letting me grow up even though his preference would be that I’d live in our hometown forever. 

New Adult Job, round one – Dad celebrating new opportunities with me, supporting me moving back to our home state, helping me grieve the loss of my Grandpa even as he grieved the loss of his Dad. 

New Adult Job, round two – Moving cross country this time, all the way to southwest Florida.  I left home at 2am and Dad watched me leave the driveway with my tiny little Ford Escort (the one he basically paid for, even though I swore I could afford it), totally loaded down with basically everything I owned.  I drove 20 hours straight to Florida, non-stop, all by myself, no cruise control, the only window I could see out of was my windshield and drivers window.  And my Dad?  He stayed awake the entire time from when I left til when I arrived safely, following me on a map the entire way, calling me every couple hours to check in.  

The common denominator?  My sweet Dad has participated in every significant life event.  He’s never been a spectator of my life, always an active part of it.  He’s there to pack me up or send me off.  He’s there to answer questions or pay my car payment when I was an irresponsible college student.  He’s the first person I call when my car does something strange or the Cardinals win or lose or I’m bored driving to or from work.  He’s the first and last face I see when I come home for visits and the one who knows my favorite meals and the one who makes the best breakfasts.  If I have a problem?  It isn’t just mine, my Dad enters into it with me to help me solve it.  If I call him?  He answers.  (To this day, I can only think of 3 reasons I’ve ever had a phone call go to voicemail – 1.  His phone is on silent or in the truck while he watches my brother play sports.  2.  He’s in the bathroom.  3. He didn’t hear it.  (bless his hard of hearing heart)) He even answers when he’s working or golfing or mid-meal or mid-tv show.  My Dad is generous with his time, and that’s probably my favorite thing about him.  I never have to wonder if he’s going to be available when I need him.  He always has been, and I have no reason to believe he won’t always be. 

The running joke in our family is that I’m Dad’s favorite.  I may or may not have started the rumor, but my siblings have picked it up and believe it, so that’s all that matters now.  Whether or not that’s true, (I choose to believe it is ;), the truth remains that my Dad is MY favorite, and I am so, so grateful for the strongest, bravest, smartest, most kind, generous, Dad in the whole world. 

I love you, Daddy!

**This is the first in a series about my family.  Somebody hold me accountable to that!  I have so many words about each family member that I need to get out so that they will forever know how much of a FAN I am of each of them!**

 

You can find me in the club

We’re taught from a young age that it is better to be “in” than “out”.  Accepted is better than rejected.  Chosen first better than chosen last.

If the cool kids had a club?  I wanted in on it.
If there was anything musical going on?  Let me at it.
If the neighbor kids were playing a game?  Please Lord don’t let me get picked last.
Running the dreaded “mile” in elementary school PE?  Identify the slowest girl & be faster than her.

As we grow up we begin to realize that there are still “clubs”, they just become a little less obvious.  There’s the “Thin Enough” club, where all you need to do to belong is wear less than a size 6 and talk about how fat you are so everyone still sees you as humble.  There’s the Mom club, God bless them, driving their mini-van like a badge of honor, keeping their babies safe & healthy and trying to salvage some sense of a social life in the midst of diapers and homework and soccer practices.  There’s the Married Club, where the men talk about how “smokin hot” their wife is and the women write Facebook statuses about their perfect little family.  It gets harder to remember once you’re part of this club how to be friends with people who aren’t in this club, so let’s just go ahead and call the Married Club the V.I.P lounge.

I realize there are a lot of other clubs that you may notice – the Star Hostess Club, the Beautiful Home club, the Perfectly Put Together Club, the Well Traveled Club, The Best Dressed Club, etc.  The list really could go on and on.  But those three?  They’re the ones that I find myself dying to be “in” when the truth is, I’m as “out” as it gets.

Single & childless at 29?  That’s a club I didn’t choose.  A constant struggle with body image and comparison?  Didn’t choose that one either.

So what do we do?  Where is God in the midst of seasons of life that are not what we expected them to be?  If God can do anything, why doesn’t he answer the years and years of prayers begging him for membership in the thin married momma club?

Sweet friends, from one who is “out” in areas she desperately wants to be “in”,  the sweetest thing I’ve learned is that these areas of vulnerability is that the Lord works most powerfully in me when I allow myself to be honest & transparent about the fact that they hurt. 

 It hurts every time a friend gets engaged.  It hurts so badly I literally use the HIDE button on Facebook so that I don’t have to look at all their happy updates & congratulations well wishes.  Their happiness is wonderful, but it is also a reminder that I am still “out”, and it’s painful.  It hurts watching my friends begin to have babies & post pregnancy updates & flood my social media feeds with their sweet little angels.  My heart could burst with happiness for them, but it’s bittersweet knowing that I’m 29, single, and staring the end of baby-making years in the face.  It’s bittersweet to be the honorary “aunt” & resident babysitter of my friends kids when my heart longs to be the Mommy who needs a break and a night out and a sweet friend who will come love my babies so I can get away.  Oh y’all, I get so much joy from loving those babies, but it simultaneously reminds me that I am “out”, and it breaks my heart.

It took me til 29 to be open & honest about these hurts.  (& I’ll be honest, writing a public blog about my deepest insecurities?  I’ll let you guess how my heart feels about that one.)  Yet in the midst of this season of brutal honesty, the Lord has been near.  I’ve yelled and asked him why he took away relationships that could have been the key to the future I had planned for myself.  Why He allowed my heart to be drug through the mud and broken so badly that it took years to begin to recognize life in it again.  Why He surrounded me by people who are all “in” the clubs I want to be “in”, and asked me to love them sacrificially.  It almost feels like a cruel joke.

Yet I am certain He hears me and is near to me as I am brokenhearted. (Ps. 34:18)
I am certain He is good, and has plans for my life that are greater than I could imagine.  (Jer. 29:11)
I am certain He honors those who wait in hope.  (Acts 11:13-16)
I am certain He is faithful when we find ourselves thrust into seasons we didn’t choose, because He orchestrated them in His goodness & faithfulness for the working out of HIS GLORY and MY GOOD.  Ruth didn’t choose to be a widow.  Joseph didn’t choose to be sold by his brothers.  Jonah didn’t choose to be swallowed by a whale.  Countless men & women didn’t choose leprosy, a disease that left them very much “out” in a way you & I will never understand.  And yet the Lord saw each and every one of them, He sees you, and He sees me.  He redeems the dirty, broken pieces of our lives that leave us insecure and hurting.  Maybe not in our timing, maybe not in our lifetime, but His promise is true, and we can hold tight to it when everything else seems to be falling apart.

“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.” Romans 8:18-21 (MSG)

Hold on, friends.  Good times are coming.  Joyfully anticipate the day when “all that is sad will become untrue“. (Tolkien)

It’s coming.
Rescue.  Redemption. Nothing broken.
Nothing missing.
Completely whole.
Perfectly accepted.
Totally, completely, once and for all “IN”.

Begin again.

I started blogging in 2004.

A lot of life has happened since then, and much of it is documented on the internet.

It’s taken me awhile, but I think I’m finally beginning to realize the beauty in words that are left unsaid, and that led me here, to this place of starting over.  I’ve gone back through the past 9 years of blogs and made most of them private, cutting out a lot of noise and leaving only a few that might be of value in helping you get to know me a little better.

I hope to write here more often, and I hope you’ll visit more often, too.

If I have learned anything over the past couple years as I took a bit of an unintentional hiatus from writing it’s this:

Life is so much harder than I ever expected it to be,
and
I need people so much more than I ever thought I would. 

It’s my hope that we won’t run from what is hard here.  I’ll write honestly, because I need to give myself the freedom to do so.  In the meantime, if these words are an encouragement to any of you, that will be the icing on the cake.

Come back soon and let’s talk student ministry, singleness, heartbreak, death, and probably a little bit of pop culture because I just got cable and am unapologetically Keeping Up with the Kardashians now.

Thanks for sticking with me.

xoxo,

B

glitter & grief

This time last year I had no idea that in just a few short days my life was about to unravel.  The very best way I know how to sum up the past 358 days?

“what. the. hell.”

I didn’t know then how to deal with grief.  The kind of grief that leaves you sleepless and makes your bones ache and your jaw involuntarily clench.  I had no desire to learn how to grieve, but the Lord knows what we need and so I did.  I learned.  I failed.  I resisted.  I screamed and cried and have functioned with less sleep than I thought humanly possible for months.  I have begged and pleaded and worried and felt the ache of regret more deeply than I have ever known.

Although time moves on, grief remains.
It feels a lot like cleaning up glitter.

I love glitter.  Really, really love glitter.
But cleaning it up?  No thank you.

The funny thing about glitter is that you work so hard to confine it, yet somehow it ends up everywhere.  You find traces of it for days.  Maybe even weeks.  The slightest breeze has blown it all over your house and even when you’re doing something silly like dancing in your kitchen  you see it reflecting in the light on your stove and it hits you.  The glitter is still there.  In places you didn’t put it.  In places you didn’t want it.  In places you didn’t expect it.

So it is with grief.
In the unexpected moments of picking up your phone to text something funny then realizing you can’t.  In the drive through Georgia that all but rips your heart out while the tears sting your eyes at the sight of the Atlanta skyline.  In the quiet mornings with the Lord when the silence is deafening because everything is so, so different.  It’s there when you rearrange your bookshelves and come across that book that’s not supposed to be yours yet remains on your shelf.  In the phone numbers you pass by in your contact list that you can’t bring yourself to delete.  So many places and moments you don’t expect tears to show up.  Yet somehow the breeze has blown those people, those memories, those thoughts into these places and there it is.  Undeniable, breathtaking, heart racing grief.

Just like glitter, grief remains.
Also like glitter?
Grief shines.

It shines a light on “the idolatry of self reliance.” {Jesus Calling, May 10}
Each of these glittery reminders that sparkle grief in the most unlikely places remind me that I need Jesus. They remind me that there is a plan at work that is far greater than what I thought I deserved.  They remind me of His faithfulness.  They remind me of the fact that I feel deep grief because for a season of my life I had really great things that were hard to lose.  He is both the giver and the One who takes away.  And both are good.

1603 Wanda Street

To the new owners of 1603 Wanda St.,

It is hard to wrap my mind around the idea that the structure you will now call home is the same one that has been home to me for all 26 years of my life.  I’m sure you can relate to some point in your life when an unforseen circumstance dramatically changed your reality.  It isn’t easy, but life goes on.  Life will go on tomorrow as you excitedly sign papers to signify your ownership of my childhood home.  Life will go on as you move in, settle down and enjoy life within those walls.

For me and my family life will indeed go on, but it will change.  Our last memory in that house will be the process of emptying it of all my Grandparents earthly possessions.  Our last memory will be looking back at an empty living room with memories of family Christmas, games of Old Maid and Grandma & Grandpa sitting in their chairs looking out the picture window flashing through our minds.

You’ll enjoy your home because of those two people, who also happen to be two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.  Because they fell in love and decided to build a home where their family would grow & gather day after day, year after year, holiday after holiday.  You’ll enjoy your home because they valued the Lord above all else & took great care of His blessings of money & family.

This is what your new home looked like when my Grandparents built it in 1966.


That little guy there on your left?  That’s my Daddy.


Tonight I started to think about what your life might be like in that house.  I hope that you will laugh as much as we did.  I hope that you will feel the peace that has permeated every room from the very first day it was built.  You should know that your new home has always been a home of peace.  The walls of your new home have never seen a screaming match or a drunken party, rather it’s rooms have hosted family gatherings, sleepovers and joyful holidays.  You should also know that your home was committed to the Lord for many, many years.  It has been a refuge for our family and the friends that came to find comfort & wisdom.  It has heard thousands of prayers from the lips of the most amazing man I’ve ever known.  I hope you find comfort in that.

There are a few things that might be helpful for you to know about your new home.

First, I can’t guarantee that the central heat/air will function if the thermostat is set under 80.  I’m fairly certain it’s never been tested.  Also, in case you’re cold natured like my Grandma and your family is dying from the heat like we often were, it will be helpful to know that for whatever reason the switch that turns on the ceiling fan in the living room is located in the garage.  Why?  I have absolutely no idea.  But it does make me smile to think about how long it will take you to figure that out.

Your new oven has learned well how to make the perfect pecan pie.  I might have to send you Grandma’s recipe so you can carry on the tradition.  Also, the garage makes a great shield from the bitter cold wind when you absolutely must have a fish fry in December.

Your new yard has held cheerleading practice, lawn mower & golf cart rides, firework lighting, pecan picking, sprinkler running, jungle gym climbing, lawn chair sitting & more childhood games than I can count.  I hope you fill that yard with family & children often.  And if you haven’t already, invest in a riding lawn mower.  You’re going to need it.

Put a night light in the hallway.  Play Old Maid with your grandkids in the living room floor.  Listen to Elvis or Southern Gospel on Saturday mornings.  Eat ice cream.  Make pop corn the old fashioned way.  Pray before meals and before bed and between breaths.

Make your own memories and know that you are incredibly blessed to call 1603 Wanda Street home.

PS.  Don’t touch the basement walls.  Trust me.

june.

It has been an unintentionally quiet month on the blog.
Let’s play catch up, shall we?

On May 25 my life changed forever.  I was driving home from picking up lunch and called my Dad while I drove, like I do several times a week.  I will never forget that conversation & how quickly my heart sank as my Dad told me he had just gotten to my Grandma’s house to find that she died some time in the night.  I remember screaming into the phone NO SHE DIDN’T and YOU ARE KIDDING ME over and over.  My Dad sat in silence while I screamed, cried and miraculously kept driving safely toward home.  I hung up the phone with him and in a panic started calling everyone I knew to call.  My work to let them know that I wouldn’t be there for youth group that evening.  My Mom.  My sister.  Michael.  Jen to tell her that I wouldn’t be in Sarasota to pick her up when her flight came in the next day.  I arrived home, threw things in a suitcase and left to pick up a rental car and start the drive home.  The highways between Florida and Missouri have never felt so long and empty.

As soon as I arrived home the next day (after a few hours of tossing & turning in a Georgia hotel) I was catapulted into a week of funeral plans, visitation, shaking hands, accepting hugs, listening to condolences from well meaning friends & family, attending services…. It was and is a blur in my mind how I made it through the first few days.  As soon as the funeral was finished we began the gut wrenching task of cleaning out my Grandparents house.  The house they lived in all 26 years of my life.  It is the house that hosted sleepovers and holidays.  It is the house that holds many of my favorite childhood memories.  It is the bedroom that was mine with my nightlight & my pillowcase.  It was the basement that watched my sister, my cousins & I put on plays, practice cheerleading, sing songs & play pool.  It was the living room floor that held the pallet we got to sleep on with Grandpa as kids.  It was the kitchen that held the big green popcorn bowl & our favorite sippy cups.  It was the huge yard where we played, lit fireworks, rode the riding lawn mower & picked up pecans & walnuts.  Watching that house empty over the course of the week was one of the hardest experiences of my life thus far.

I do not understand why God chose to give me the Grandparents He did, but I am convinced that they are one of the greatest gifts I will ever receive in this lifetime.  The truth is, I would not be who I am or where I am without their unconditional love, encouragement, wisdom & prayers.  Watching them love Jesus & live it out every single day of my life is truly the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed.  I am & will be forever grateful for the blessing of the most incredible Grandparents in the world.

cousin Heather, Uncle Mike, my sister Jessi, Grandma, Me, Aunt Kathy & cousin Amy

Grandpa & Grandma and their 3 kids. (My Daddy is the baby)

Grandma, my big sister & me. One of my favorite pictures ever.

Unfortunately the expression “when it rains, it pours” is what best sums up the month that followed.

The short & sweet recap … A week after my Grandma died I received another devastating, life changing blow.  I may never be ready to discuss that experience on the blog, but truly the Lord has used desperate brokenness to reach those final places I have been holding back as “my own”.   I realize how desperately I need Jesus and have tasted how nothing else compares to satisfying the deepest desires of my heart the way that He does.  It is painful, but it is good to realize again how much I need Him.

It is also good to realize how much I need people.  I struggle deeply with feeling like I am a burden to anyone.  I will hold things in & fake it so that I don’t have to divulge the mess that is happening in my heart and “force” someone else to bear the weight of my brokenness.  When my Grandma died & my heart got broken within a week of one another, I knew that I could not walk through the pain alone.  There are not words to express how deeply grateful I am for the three women that God has blessed me with to walk through this painful season.  I am grateful that Jody answers my midnight, sobbing phone calls.  It amazes me the way God has gifted her with the ability to be steady, calm & wise in moments of chaos.  I am grateful that Janna sits on the couch & listens to me cry.  I am grateful for the peace she exudes that is unlike any other human being I have ever known.  For her capacity to understand & ask the best questions.  For her ability to shed light & clarity on places of confusion.  For the way she speaks with thoughtful wisdom always.  I am grateful for Jen and the fact that she is, quite simply, always there.  I never have to doubt if she will be available or present or understanding.  She is a precious gift to my heart.  I am grateful to not have to walk through this season alone.

It has been a painful month, without a doubt.  There have been many moments where grief was so heavy I wondered how I would keep breathing.  There have been more tears than I could count and more ice cream consumed than I care to admit.  But there have also been beautiful moments of peace that is unexplainable apart from the Lord who knows and cares more than any human ever could.  He truly fills all the empty space & picks up all the chaos of my life in His more than capable hands.  He proves to me over & over that He is faithful & worthy of my trust.

I ache, but I am grateful.

Daddy.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a Daddy’s girl.  I always have been, I always will be.  I live in Florida, 20 hours southeast of the comfortable house I lived in with my Daddy as a kid.  Far away from family dinners, crackling fires and the consistent drone of ESPN, Dog the Bounty Hunter, WWF or Roseanne.  (oh yeah, we’re real classy.)  ;)

I miss my Dad more than words can say.  I miss laughing.  I miss silence.  I miss talking.  I miss sitting in the bleachers with him watching my little brother play sports.  I miss waking up to freshly cooked breakfasts.  I miss waking up to cold breakfasts waiting for me on the stove when I slept hours longer than everyone else.  I miss fighting for the shower.  I miss the twinkle in his eyes when he’s teasing someone.  I miss the safety of being inside of those walls knowing that my Daddy is only steps away.

I remember when I was 10 years old and my parents got divorced.  Although relationships within our family were tense and strained, I will never forget the first night in the new house with my mom & my sister.  The absence of my Dad was heavy.  I don’t remember if I ever mentioned it to anyone, but I distinctly remember clenching that night.  I remember lying in bed with worst case scenarios running through my mind.  What if someone broke in?  What if I got sick?  What if I got hurt?  What if someone tried to hurt us?  Not to take anything away from my mom, as she was more than capable of taking great care of us, but the absence of a steady, strong protector that I had never known a day without broke my heart that day.

Today I was reading this post over at Ragamuffin Soul.  As I read through the comments I was reminded that although I had to spend days away from my Dad, I never knew life truly without him.  Although there were nights when I felt my security was compromised because my Dad wasn’t snoring in the next room, I never knew a day where he wouldn’t have been wherever I was as quickly as possible if I ever needed him.  Although I live 20 hours away from him now, I have never known a day where I couldn’t call or text him without a response.  Although I’m 26 years old and have begun my “grown up” life, I’ve never made a major decision that I didn’t run by him.  There has been no significant part of my life that he hasn’t been part of.

I was reminded today how important a Daddy is, especially to a girl.  It moves my heart and brings tears to my eyes to think about mine. The Lord knew what I needed when he placed me in my family.  For every complaint I could make (because trust me, we are far from perfect) I could tell you three things I love about any one of them.  But God especially knew what I needed when he gave me my Dad.  So as I read these comments my heart breaks for those who don’t have a Dad to miss.  For those who don’t know what it’s like to sit in front of the fire at their Dad’s house listening to him laugh at reruns of 90′s sitcoms.  For those who didn’t grow up experiencing the joy of Dad’s cooking (grilled burgers or hamburger helper).  For those who don’t have a Dad who always, always, always answers the phone.  For those who don’t have a Dad to cook them breakfast or build big fires or pay their way into ball games when they forget to go the ATM for cash.  For those who don’t have a Dad to stay awake all night long while they drive halfway across the country for their first big move so that he can call them every hour for 20 hours straight.  (yup, my Dad did that!)  For those who don’t know what it’s like to feel absolutely safe because there is not a single doubt in their mind that their Daddy could beat up any bad guy or fix any problem.

I am so grateful for the blessing of the best Daddy in the world.

making “football player faces” with Kayson

love his laughing face!

favorite picture EVER! I posed it, but it’s still classic!

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