Word of the Week

I have found myself this week saying, "Elizabeth, you need to take your own advice."

The past several weeks of life have brought a lot of no's.

A lot of "I'm sorry you're not the one."

A lot of conversations that have made me question how I spent my time.

And a lot of wondering if I'm on the right path of non-traditional pastoring and writing? Or is there something else? How could I better financially support my family?

And if I'm being honest, I'm at the point where I'm not dealing with the uncertainty well. My bank account looks afraid for what is to come too. 

So, in fear of what is not, I've robbed myself of joy in the present. And I'm certainly not living up to my words for the year: "let worries go."

But here's the thing: I published a book about all of these feelings. Though people say I wrote about infertility, it's really not a book about infertility.

It's a story of setting out with a dream but life not turning out as I expected. It's a story about hitting rock bottom yet finding your way to still go on living. It's a faith story of how unanswered questions and fears for worst case scenarios become pieces of a tapestry of growth. It's a story that's mine and it's a story that is yours too.

So bottom line: I've been here before. 

I recently told a friend who asked me what I thought Birthed was about: "It's about life being more beautiful than you ever thought possible if you wade through the suffering."

Bingo. It's time for me to believe in my own book's message again.

Life can be good, in fact very good on the other side of the unknown. I've seen amazing opportunities come out of nowhere at the most unexpected time. I believe faith is not faith unless it's tested. So here I am trying to remember. Trying to be full of faith. Trying to take my own advice.

Anne Lamott in her book, Three Essential Prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow (a great read by the way) says this about life's hard patches:

"Grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.”

This morning I prayed for an extra portion of grace in my coffee cup. And I'm praying that for you. Stamina. Poignancy. And the strength to hang on.

Something is coming. Something better on the other side. I just have to hang on to see it.  You do too.

What's your advice for you?

Who believes in the best for you?

This is the fourth in my series of "How Do We Live in These Days?" series. If you missed last week's conversation about privilege, you can read it here. 

We all need to keep a few really good friends around for the long haul  . . . especially if we want to spend the months of our lives engaged in work that matters. 

People who we've fought hard with, thinking this might be the end of things but it wasn't. People who've heard us swear, cry big tears and maybe drink more than we should. Maybe these are people who agree with us politically right now or maybe they don't (all the better if they don't for it's so good to learn from those in whom we disagree but still respect!)

In my life, these people are those who know what makes me anxious without explanation. These are the people who know I need a care package in the mail before I could hope for one. These are the people I know I could call with a crisis in the wee hours of the morning. They'd be on the next flight out.

They not only want the best for me, but believe in the best for me.

A couple months ago, we celebrated the baptism of our daughter in a special ceremony led several of our closest pastor friends in our house.

It's a lovely story (as to how a ordained Baptist minister decided to baptize her child!) for another day. But for now, I can tell you this: baby girl's baptism was a great reminder to me that I need all the sister friends, mother friends, father friends, daughter friends, couple friends, midwife friends, and so on in my life.  My daughter needs them too.  People who believe in you literally change your life.

And to give her our faith is to give her our community. 

This week was my birthday. To some people birthdays are just another day in the calendar or an excuse to eat cake, I am not one of those people (though I love a good cookie cake). I love the concept of birthdays a celebration. Not in a self-centered “All about me” way, but as a time to re-group, reflect and gather people close that I love.  I can't end the day without touching base with all the loves in my life (even if they forgot it was my birthday!). It just makes me happy. I would not have made it to the ripe age of 37 without team Elizabeth going strong.

They are the ones who've pushed me to articulate my dreams even when I've been to scared to do so.

They are the ones I've come crawling back to when failure has crippled my courage.

They are the ones who've held up my head so I could see past my tears. 

So this week, I move forward in this new year, grateful for those who see me better than I often see myself.

I'm relying on the Divine gifts of strength in community to show up for the challenges of the year to come. And thankful that I'm not alone in this mess called life. Nobody can do it alone.

Who believes in you? Find them. Treasure them. Tell them that you love them. Your life will be all the better for the community that surrounds you. This is my testimony for today.