Thursday, June 28, 2012

perfect peace

I know God.  

Not just of Him, not just about Him.  

I know Him like I know my own daddy.  

People say this every day and I wonder what they mean by that.  I wonder if we know the same One.  I wonder if He talks to them like He does me.  If He shows up in light and doves and wind and speaks to them in whispers.  

I wonder how He feels about the way I talk to Him.  

Because I don't talk to Him like you do.  I don't talk about Him like you do.  

And I don't think that's wrong.  But my life looks different because of this.  

I have my reasons for doing the things I do.  I am an introvert, by nature.  I need time to process, to think, without worrying about your reaction too.  I am also empathetic, and your emotions might take precedence over mine.  This is not valiant, it's stupid.  I am forgiving and cynical and hopeful and bitter all in the same breath, and I want people to acknowledge me, but I don't want their pity.  

Complex doesn't even begin to cut it.


We found light.  

"Do not be afraid", I heard.  

And I responded as boldly as I dared.  Bold isn't rare.  But expectant is.  I do not pray expectantly.  I do not demand.

But I did then.  

"I'm telling You this once," I whispered as I walked to the car.  Holding the ultrasound pictures in my hand.  My unborn son, who stretches like a grown man, whose future is known and hopeful.  "Once and only once."  

I told Him I wanted peace.  And that I wanted Him to take care of the things I could not.  That I was going to trust Him, actively, by not worrying.  And we were going to press forward.  Me.  Him.  Judah.  Because that's what we do.  

We press.

By the time I'd gotten to the top floor of the parking garage, it had found me.  

The peace I'd asked for.  

I'd like to think it was because I was bold.  That He answered and provided because I was brave enough to demand it of Him.  

And maybe that was part of it.  Maybe part of our relationship with God is believing He is real and big and, in the same breath, approachable.  

My faith can be summed up in three little words.  

"I dare You," I whisper.  

Much like a father, He knows what I need.  The dove and the lilies tattooed on my shoulder remind me of this -- and your Heavenly Father knows you need these things... 

It would show up as light, you know.  Light would rise, peace would come.  


Pregnancy has been one of the greatest teaching tools.  Teaching me to trust and to hope.  Taught me about resilience and my ability to take care of myself.  Teaching me humility -- which, hands down, is my least favorite, recurring lesson.  And teaching me about healthy pride and confidence.  

I have fought for myself and my son.  I will continue to do so.

I have shut doors I previously did not have the strength to shut.

I have solved problems I did not previously have the wisdom to solve.

I have endured criticism and betrayal and abandonment I would have not been able to withstand before.

I have thought less about myself and more about those around me (most of all, the little one inside of me) -- and I have taken the necessary steps to make life happen.

Because life has not been lost.

Life has been created.  It is growing.  

If you could spend five minutes in my head, you might go crazy.  The thoughts are wild and unruly -- illogical and hopeful all at the same time.  My ideals have been questioned.  My judgement has been proven.  I have been tested...

And I have come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

We all make mistakes.  I am learning how to forgive myself and others for them.  

My goal has become to never make the same mistake twice.  And although I haven't achieved that goal yet, I have become more honest with myself in this process.  

When I am faced with fear and uncertainty -- about the future, or about where I am going to find my next meal -- I am more consistently able to reach deep within and find the peace I asked for.

The peace that comes with strength.  The peace that comes from not relying on yourself.  The peace that comes with being different than the rest of this world.  

I sift through, on a daily basis.  What is expected of me, what is asked of me.  What I am called, what I answer to.  The questions that I am asked, and the questions I choose to answer.  I am learning how to choose.  And choose well.


I haven't had to revisit that prayer.  

The peace remains.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

homing pigeons

I sat on the carpeted floor and cried.

Twelve hours of moving at seven months pregnant, in the hot June heat, and I was done.

The kind of done where all you can do is sit on the floor.  Boxes piled around.  The unfamiliar smell of a new apartment, the shadows of unpacked boxes, the echoing noise of unfilled space.  It was time for bed, time for rest, and I didn't know where I should go.

In between here and there.  In transition.  In the very middle of things (in medias res).

The only logical solution was to cry.

And with the tears, the new apartment was initiated.  The new place would be privy to my rollercoaster of emotions, the sweat and tears of this dramatic and difficult season of my life.  It welcomed me then, in all my saltiness.

Olivia sat next to me on the floor.  Rubbed my belly, hoping Judah would kick.  Rubbing my back, playing with my hair -- curly and sticky from the heat.  "This will be a good home," she said.

I had a deep sense, then, as I looked around.  The deepest kind of knowing, like a blatant foreshadowing of what's to come.  This was home.  I would have to build it.  I would have to break it in.  I would have to introduce it to all my dysfunction and all my worries and all my flaws.  But life was about to happen here.

I had chosen well.


Larry brought Judah's crib into the new apartment the next day.

He sat down for a minute.  Quietly said, "this looks like a good home to me" before heading out the door.

I felt a sharp pang of melancholy as the door shut.  Looking at the box with the disassembled crib, I was acutely aware of whose job it really is to put such things together.  Painfully aware of who was supposed to take on that role...

And who wouldn't be there to do it.


Yesterday I texted Larry and reminded him that, once again, I'd come full circle.  

You see, the Vaughans used to live on Redding Rd.  

Some of my earliest memories are sliding down a snowy hill in a baby pool and having a big German Shepherd dog pull us back up to the top of it, only to slide down again.  I remember an old man we called Brud and his dog named Hanna.  And we all lived there on Redding Rd.

Full circle.

I am back at one of my starting places.  

Larry mentioned that after leaving my apartment, he had taken a little detour.  And I smiled, knowing how much I am like my dad.  How much I need things to tie together, to make sense, to come full circle.  

Our family's old apartment, actually, is in the same place my sister and her husband now live.  When I mentioned this to Larry, his response was short and sweet.

"You all are like homing pigeons." 


Do you know what a homing pigeon is?  

A simple description is a bird, which can instinctually find its way home over extremely long distances.  

I sat there for a moment.  Just smiling.  Thinking, this may be the very best description of myself.  

The paths life has taken us down have been tremendously steep and winding, often unfamiliar.  

But I am not sure there is a single one of us who doesn't know how to find our way home.  

As far as we stray.  As much as we mess up.  As easily turned around as we have gotten... 

Our true north is home, and somehow we are guided by a deep, intrinsic sense of belonging.  


So I've returned to Redding Rd.  

Perhaps Judah's first memories will come from the same neighborhood mine do.  

And the cyclical, logical nature of this soothes and comforts me.  

In a sense, I have brought myself home.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

the last straw

I've been waiting.

Waiting for so many things.

In anticipation.  For answers and direction.

I'd been hearing and ignoring.  Like I so often do.

Aware of the truth -- painfully aware of truth.

Deceived by some false hope and chosen blindness.

Sometimes we hope it will get better.  And we hold on longer than we should.  Waiting, in our uncertainty.  Holding out, putting off, praying for change.

But I know.  My heart always knows.

The anticipation had been building.  Foreshadowing of affirmation, hung like thick fog every where I went.  There was a closure, waiting to happen.  And it was all in my power.

The only thing I hate worse than things out of my control, are things IN my control.

I don't ever want to make the wrong choice.

I was afraid of making a drastic choice, which might affect too much of the future -- too many of the days ahead in a negative way.  I was afraid of my own judgement, although it's rarely failed me.  I was afraid of what was irreversible.  Afraid of the permanent.

However, sometimes things change.

There is a shift.

And you tumble head first into a decision.

Or the final piece is added to the puzzle, and all the doubt and misgivings you've been feeling and sensing.... manifest.

The whisper you hear becomes a roar.

And it doesn't matter how long you ignored it before.  Now... now you hear.  Now you know.  No question.  Now.

The last straw.


Peace is what I seek.  

Throughout provision, throughout transformation, throughout all my hoping.  Peace is the goal.  To reach a place of perfect peace, and hold on for dear life.  

Peace that transcends all understanding.  

That is not only what I seek, but what I rely on.  

Call it a gut check.  Call it divine comfort.  

But when the peace comes, I pay attention.  

And when the peace is absent... when the peace is missing... I cannot rest.  I cannot settle.

So here it comes.  The coveted peace.  Surpassing all understanding and relieving me of a burden too heavy to carry.  

I caught my breath.  Filled my lungs.  As if for the first time. 

And then peace comes.  

With the wind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Moving On

There are days that come, which make us pause...

Perhaps we don't even anticipate them.  They are certainly not marked on the calendar.  They are not recognized, let alone celebrated.  But you wake up and write the date somewhere and it all hits you --

The nostalgia.

Days like these draw me directly into a state of reflection, far deeper than New Years Day ever could.

Today is not one of those days.  But the day is coming.  This week, actually.  And I find myself in a tailspin, enveloped in memories I thought I'd never even filed away.  Remembering little things, then insignificant.  Now, imperative to the story.

So much life can happen in a year.  Perhaps this is why we are subconsciously allowed to remember these obscure milestones, these subtle and subliminal reminders of how we do not stay the same.


Camp started this week.  I haven't seen most of my babies in a few weeks, if not months, for a multitude of reasons.  One of them being I work three jobs, am in school, and am currently semi-homeless.  But not really.  That's not really why.  

I haven't seen them because none of us know what to do with ourselves.  Since they're ten years old these children have no tact or verbal filters (most people don't ever fully develop tact or verbal filters ever, let alone in elementary school).  I never see them in a setting where I can sit down and fully explain about Judah.  Explain a baby is not something to joke about, to tease about.  Why I can't swing them over my shoulders anymore. Why I'm more tired, quiet than I have been in the past.  

The help I need to explain such things, is no longer there.  The support system I'd built over the past few years within the family just could not withstand this kind of life change.  I think I disappointed them.  Some of them.  I think, like most people, they are uncomfortable.  They don't have the answers.  Like a few, their response has been to withdraw.  

This time last year I stood with them, hearing God whisper about how His love is demonstrated through the small ones.  Hundreds of little hands and feet, inquisitive faces, and loud voices were the manifestation of God.  A God -- the God -- who had chosen to be quiet for so long.  

Last year I spent this same week with them.  We ended the week at a music festival, carting around teenagers who were skeptical of the "Christian rap" they were told they were going to hear.  We followed the fitted caps through the camp grounds, and found the back stage where any racial diversity at the festival had gathered.  

Some would say it was all downhill from there.  Donald might call it an inciting incident.  

I called it an active giving up.

And Jesus... Jesus just didn't leave.  

Some people want me to talk about how God redeems sin and how mistakes happen and we bounce back.  Talk about resilience.  Talk about recuperation.  Talk about forgiveness.  

But my mind and heart are so full of all I have learned in the past twelve months, all I can remember are the feelings.  All I can remember are the string of decisions and words.  The crash-course lessons in real life, real world.  

Over-stimulated is what I am.  


My son is rolling around, pushing on my diaphragm as I sit here.  Tomorrow starts the third trimester.  The last leg of this particular journey.  My head spins, thinking about how fast this has all happened.  Thinking about the million different ways it could have turned out.  Painfully, distinctly remembering a Saturday night five months ago and all the hell and hurt, which followed.

Thinking about all the times Jesus spoke to my heart about provision and grace and defiant love.  

And somehow I heard.  

Somehow in the midst of all the noise and confusion and hopelessness and lies, I still always heard His voice.  Saying, "we have no room for that, Anna.  You and I.  We don't have room for the shame and the guilt and the regret.  I'm not even letting that enter here."

The same way now, I hear Him.  

Whispering about how He cares about food and gas.  About shelter and student loan bills and overheating engines.  

"And if I care about those things," I hear Him say, "don't you think I care about Judah's father?  Don't you think I will provide something so important?  Don't you think I'm chasing after his heart, as hard as I have always chased after yours?"  

And I am quieted.  The complaints, the fears, the worries -- diluted, muffled by the protective, authoritative, powerful roar of King who has been standing up for me... His hand covering me, shielding me from the onslaught.  This whole time.

"Don't you think I know?"

This week, these particular days, cannot go without being recognized.  They are part of the process, part of the moving-ahead.  

To be able to move on to the next year, I need to face this week.  

Because in twelve weeks, maybe fewer, there will be a little boy here.  And instead of rolling around inside of me, he will be laying on my chest.  The things I'm worrying about now, then won't seem so serious.  

To be a better woman, a better mother, I have to face this week.  To face this week, I have to relive an entire year of my life.  I have to write my storyline, recognizing the moments I lost... and the moments I triumphed.  And how each one brought me here.  

That is, actually, what we should always do.  Whether the quiet milestone is a good one, a bad one, a secret one, or one, which passes by unnoticed.  Part of our process, part of the way we live, should be based in honest self-reflection.  And catalyzed by an intentional moving forward.  A moving on.


Sensory overload.  I am overwhelmed by an overplayed song, which characterized the summer of 2011.  Smells of $2 beer and sun tan lotion.  A whole lot of life, crammed into a few short months, flooding my memory like so much water.  

Of Haitian children and bare feet.  Sea sickness and thunder and lightning over the mountains.  Bruised backsides from hours on a rickety truck and sweet kisses and sweaty backs.  

Dark parking lots.

Station wagons packed with too much stuff.  Wind chimes.  

A dropped set of keys.  

A tiny studio apartment.  

The day of my sister's wedding.  

Trailing all the way, linked together, into the fall.  Into the winter.  

The muscles of my heart, my spirit, my character ripped only to regain strength.  Calluses form, hope seems lost.  Trust is harder to come by those days.  The games played, I recognized.  

And through it all, I still hear. 

Even now, I feel it all filing away.  Folding up.  Finishing up.  

I am not who I was.

I have not stayed the same.

And some... some still do not understand.  

Some even witnessed the evolution.  

Only I know the transformation -- the potential of what comes next.

Tonight I will love love you tonight /
Give me everything tonight /
For all we know we might not get tomorrow

Sunday, June 10, 2012

little lion man

Meet my son.

This is Judah Nathaniel.

Tonight, I wish I had words.  But they're not coming.  I am unable.  

But he is kicking, wide awake now that I have stopped rocking him to sleep with my own movement. 

Tonight I am praying for his daddy.

And I am ready to see how this story will play out.  

One of his aunts sent me words tonight, to speak over him as we fall asleep.

"There will come a day, when mountains fall and the clouds grow dark. Seas fall into themselves and the sun will hide from its own light.  That will be the day you roar to all creation, awaking them, leading them, to your Father.  Your roar shall awaken the deepest of the seas and the highest of the mountains.  Assuring them of the power you have been given."