Author Archives: noellekilgore

What if?

I’ve always heard asking “what if?” is extremely dangerous…because truthfully, it borrows trouble.  Anytime I have talked to my dad about something I’m concerned about, he ALWAYS says “Don’t go borrowing trouble.”  And it’s true.  What if’s are borrowing trouble.  But in this particular instance, my what if, brings me to my knees.  It shakes me to the core and usually leaves me in a puddle of tears.  It’s vital I ask myself this “what if” daily.

Six years ago, we began our adoption journey.  We had experienced loss and disappointment.  We had lost a child.  We had stress on our marriage; it was a difficult time.  We always knew we wanted to adopt but didn’t know when it would happen in our family plan.  We started the process of adoption from Ethiopia, one being that’s where we felt led to adopt from, but to be honest, an international adoption seemed safer to us. We didn’t want to face the disappointment of a birth mom changing her mind.  We didn’t want an open adoption.  The very thought of that scared us to death.  I had dreamed of being a mom my entire life and the thought of sharing that with someone, freaked me out.  I didn’t want to share my children.  I think every mother can understand that.  But God had other plans.  All that I had planned in my head, what I had envisioned for us a family, was completely different than what God had planned, and thank goodness for that.

When we adopted Pierce, we had agreed to an open adoption.  It was scary.   It was really scary.  I’ll never forget the day she came to say goodbye to him.  Ben and I were a wreck before she even got there.  I was so scared she was going to change her mind.  And there’s no judgment there…I get it.  In fact, that’s what scared us the most.  Here was this incredible child, and the thought of choosing another family for him to grow up in, baffles me…floors me…humbles me…brings me to my knees.  I’ve said it before – I am so grateful for adoption, but I don’t know if I could do it.  These women are my heroes.  What took place in that room that day, ruined us.  We saw a mother grieve over her child.  We saw her hold him and weep as she held him close to her.  I saw the struggle, the utter torment of saying goodbye.  And just like that, all I wanted to do was share my children.  I desperately wanted her in his life.   And then this beautiful family was birthed. More beautiful than I could imagine.

June 27, 2016 our little Rose bud was born.  Again, we watched this beautiful mother say goodbye and it wrecked me.  Fear led up to that moment.  I couldn’t quite celebrate until I knew our birth mom was secure in her decision.  Again…this woman…I just can’t even describe the love we have for her.  I will never understand why she chose us.  Unless you have experienced adoption, you don’t quite understand these things that go through your head.  I know those of you reading this that know us, think “well look at you guys…you provide a wonderful home and life for these kids. I know why she chose you.”  And I see that, but until you experience this, you still don’t understand and it humbles you daily.

February 16, 2018, John Merrick was born.  This birth opened my eyes to so many things and the whole point of this particular blog.  You see when Pierce was born, because of all the complications, we were in a different hospital with him than birth mom.  We were alone with him from day one.  With Rosie, we were able to have our own room and I was able to do skin to skin from the moment she was born.  Birth mom recovered in another room and got her time with Rosie and we did as well.  With Merrick, we roomed with birth mom.  I truthfully didn’t know how this was going to go.  I was nervous. I didn’t want to invade on her time with him.  I ddin’t want to step on toes.  But this experience alone has to be the most beautiful and redeeming one of all of them.  This doesn’t negate our other experiences, it just shifted things for me…for our family…for our future.

Our birth mom had a little girl between Pierce and Rosie that she had chosen to parent.  It is our heart that our children know her and know her as their sibling.  It will take work and effort but 100% worth it to us.  At one point in our time with birth mom and dad, their daughter came to visit.  Pierce came up to the hospital with Ben and him and his sister (not Rosie) played together for an hour or so and I felt the Holy Spirit say “you could have missed out on all of this because of your fear.”  It wasn’t in a disciplinary way but more of a “aren’t you glad you didn’t give into your fear?”  It will never leave me.

That moment is engrained in my head forever.  You see, fear has taken a lot from me.  I think if we are honest with ourselves, fear robs a lot of us of some beautiful things.  Could this have gone the other way? Absolutely.  There could have been pain.  There could have been grief.  I’m not saying it’s everyone story, but something I have learned through the ups and downs, is as long as I have Him, it’s going to be okay.  It will still hurt.  It will still be hard, but I’m not alone and because of that, I can face that fear and take the risk and trust that no matter what, He will meet me there.  But here’s the other side of it…it can be beautiful…it can be redeeming…it can be better than you can imagine.  That is where I find myself daily.

So as you can see, my what if, scares me.  What if we had said, “nope, this is too risky…too scary…the possibility of it all hurts too much”. What if?  Do you see what all we would have missed out on?  Do you see that the risk is worth it?  What is staring you in the face that you won’t approach because it’s too scary?  WHAT IF, my friends…what if?  You are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  You are not out to sea on your own in the middle of a storm.  He is there.  He’s always there.  Let Him rise up in you and be your strength…”because He lives, I can face tomorrow…because He lives, all fear is gone”. Let Easter be this beautiful reminder that He keeps His promises.  He rose from the dead (I mean, that’s a big one) means He’ll keep His promise of never leaving your side.  You have the creator of the universe by your side.  Don’t let fear be your ruler.  Don’t let fear dictate your future. (I’m preaching to myself right now :)). Take that scary next step. Put your yes on the table. your world will be rocked but you are not alone…What if? What if?

Be Careful Little Mouths What You Say

Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about Pierce being in grade school.  I wonder what he will look like, who will be his friends and to be honest, I usually end up tearing up.  I look at his little demeanor and although I see one miracle after another, I know kids will see a little boy who is smaller then them.  They will see a hand with only 4 fingers on it.  They will see a shorter arm and neck.  I thank God that there will be a lot of them that see those things and it mean nothing to them, but then there will be some who will poke fun.  He will come home one day in tears and it will tear me up inside.

I have a sweet little niece who’s best friend in the world is a little boy who is shorter than her.  My little niece sees nothing different about him…just a really good friend…her best friend.  I’ve watched their friendship and often thanked her parents for teaching her that different isn’t different.  That we are all the same inside.  I pray daily for friends like my niece to come along side of Pierce and celebrate him without hesitation.

First of all, this is not a blog post about supporting Trump (AT ALL) to be honest, I have been disappointed in some of his decisions and broken hearted for the many they have and will continue to effect.  Let’s just take that argument off the table.  This is not a blog about supporting the President.  This is an encouragement, a charge, if you will, to be responsible with your words.  I’ve been wrestling with these thoughts for some time now…really since before the election, but even more so now that we are in the thick of Trump’s decisions.

We live in a society where we constantly say bullying has to end, and yet I’ve never been so appalled by the words I see written on a daily occurrence through social media.  “Bullying 101” starts at home.  Most “bullies” are either bullied at home through siblings and parents or they are in an environment where this kind of talk is acceptable and encouraged.  They watch from example and then act out.  It also stems from insecurity and a lack of confidence for most children.  “I’ll put you down so I can make myself feel better.”

I watched this week as Kathy Griffin posted a photo of herself holding our President’s head.  Although, many were appalled (and rightly so, he’s still the President), I know that many thought it was fitting and laughed.  I am a strong believer that respect is earned and not given so I’m not saying you should respect the man, but you need to respect the office…if anything, because your kids are watching.  They listen to your conversations at home or read your words online.  The name calling “idiot, dummy, stupid…” they take those things into account and if they see you saying and writing those words, what’s to stop them from using those words against others outside of your home?  It is possible to disagree with someone and not call them names.  It is possible to disagree with someone and not spew hate all over social media.  And before the Republicans reading this, cheer, I saw the same thing when Obama was President.

My point…it has to end.  We make fun of his kids, his wife, the way his face looks, his hair, his clothes, the way he moves his hands…and yes, he makes fun of people too, I’m not excusing his behavior and I am not letting him off the hook.  I am saying, that we are better than that.  We have to be better than that.  For the sake of our children growing up, we have to be better.  I need you to be better.  My kids need you to be better.  We need kids seeing kids for kids and not differences, whether it’s beliefs, disabilities, looks, who their parents are…they need to be kids.  Kids should get to be kids.

And it’s not just with our President.  I see it everyday with mom shaming, parenting issues, you name it and there are haters out there commenting, encouraging people to kill themselves…WHAT IS THIS?!?!  When did this become a thing that was/is okay?  How do we bat an eye at this behavior and not stand up for what’s right?  I’ll tell you why…because there seems to be little accountability behind the screen of a computer.  You can say whatever you want…make fun of a celebrities clothes, their weight, their hair…it’s everywhere and I am done with it.  We thrive on satire, encourage it, laugh at it, at the sake of someone else.  If you want to call people names, please do it in your car when nobody is listening, or here’s something you can do…just don’t say anything at all.  I love that social media has given a voice to a lot of things and people but I also hate the voices who have used it as an excuse to bully…because that’s what it is.

It starts with you, parents.  If your kids or other’s kids overhear you calling people names or commenting on someone’s attire or the way they look…they’ll follow suit…and I need good friends for my kids.  Making fun of people will not be allowed in our home…EVER.  Please be responsible with your words and actions towards those you disagree with or with those who are different than you – who believe different than you – who see things different than you…please be responsible.  Stop calling people idiots, stupid, dummy…you’re smarter than that.  Encourage diversity in your friendships so your kids will do the same with theirs.  Different is good.  It’s necessary.  My friends, please be careful with what comes out of your mouth.  Our kids are watching.

Dancing Upon Disappointment

When you experience the beginning stages of loss, the mornings always seem to be the worst.  It’s a reminder of reality; that it wasn’t just a bad dream.  It’s a push into a new day without what you once had.  Loss is such a difficult thing and so hard to process.  This is my second morning to face our loss and each day, it’s becoming more difficult.

Monday evening, we received a phone call that you pray you never receive when you’re in the adoption process (especially 10 days before your due date).  To make a long story short, the father claimed he never knew and he will not being giving consent.  The waters are muddy on what is truth and what is not, but they will not be placing their child.  We have lost our son.  We have both had moments where the breath has been knocked out of us and as we sat at a table tonight, looking at each other, we had no words.  Tears but no words.

You go through shock and then it sets in that all the dreams you once had, even the coming weeks, are gone.  The dream of your child meeting their sibling, helping with their bottle, changing tiny diapers, wondering what they will look like or how their little personalities will be…you mourn the future.  You mourn the dreams.  You mourn the idea of being parents to two little boys.  We know we will have more children.  That’s not the point.  The point is, we won’t have this child.  I won’t get to rock him in his nursery when we return home from his birth place.  I won’t get to kiss his face or hold his hand or put the boys in matching outfits (yes, I dreamed of that – I’m that mom :))

Last night we had worship rehearsal for the weekend and once again, as it’s always been in the past, I was put in a position where I was forced to put praise on my lips.  We’d all be lying if we said that doing that hasn’t been a struggle at one time or another.  As we sang each song over and over, it became easier and easier to lift my voice.  I’ve never been mad at God during this.  I can honestly say that, I just feel betrayed and violated…tricked.  I will never understand why the process for Ben and I to have a family has been so difficult, but I know that if it means we end up with a child like Pierce, we will go through hell and back.

Today, a song called “Heroes” by Amanda Cook has been my anthem.  Here’s a breakdown of what the lyrics mean to me in this time.  I hope it’s an encouragement to you.

“I will trust here in the mystery, I will trust in you completely”

I would be lying if I didn’t say this is a struggle to say.  In fact every time I sing these particular lyrics, I can’t make it through without crying, but I will continue to say them until my heart believes what I’m saying with my mouth.  This is a mystery.  Much of what we walk through is a mystery and the only hope we have is we can trust Him.

“Awake my soul to sing, with Your breath in me, I will worship”

I don’t know what the meaning of the lyrics are for the writer, but for me, it’s asking God to put His breath in me to worship.  Sometimes we don’t even have breath in us to lift our voice in worship, but through Him, through His breath, we can worship.

“You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment”

Now this part of the song, breaks me.  Even before this news, it broke me.  The key word that pops out to me is “taught”  It’s not something we just do naturally.  He teaches us to dance on disappointment and I believe it’s one dance lesson I will take over and over.  He holds my hand through it all.  He hasn’t left my side.  Trust me, I’m in the valley, but He’s with me.  He’s with you.  He hasn’t left you…even though it may feel that way.  He will breath His breath in you.  You will raise your voice to sing and you will dance upon disappointment.

We thank everyone for your prayers.  We ask that you continue to cover us with them.  We are broken and sad.  We are in the mourning stages and it’s hard.  Every package we open up of baby clothes or nursery items is like a knife in our hearts.  Anytime I hear his name in my head, my heart sinks.  We prayed for this boy.  We dreamed of this boy. And now we grieve for this boy. God will redeem this.  He always does.  We trust Him in the waiting.

356 Days

We have held his little hands for exactly 356 days.  I had dreamed about him for a very long time.  I dreamed about singing to him.  I dreamed about kissing his sweet face.  I imagined what silly songs his dad would make up, while they played.  I dreamed and dreamed for years and years.  I also dreamed of watching my belly grow; of feeling the little kicks and movements of life inside of me.  I wondered what I would look like with a bursting belly; would I have that pregnancy glow?  I’ve dreamed about that since I was a little girl.  BUT, I also dreamed of looking into the face of my child, knowing they looked nothing like me, not even the color of their skin, and trying to convince myself that I didn’t carry that child in my own body.

There are many fears when it comes to having a child, both biologically and through adoption.  Being a parent is scary, no matter the circumstances.  No matter how much you prepare, you will never be prepared enough when you look into their eyes for the first time.  Your heart is mush.  You are putty in hands that are the size of a quarter.  When I saw Pierce for the first time, everything in my body shifted.  I had carried that child, maybe not physically, but emotionally.  That child has grown inside of me for years.  I don’t know what labor feels like but I will tell you this…I know what it feels like to birth something you’ve been waiting for.  There are so many times that I forget that Pierce didn’t come from my body.  He is a Kilgore.  He is his father, in so many ways.  I also see his birth mom, when he smiles.  He radiates her selfless ways and beauty.  Pierce isn’t a backup plan.  He isn’t a consolation prize.  He’s our first choice.  He is our child, through and through.  He’s everything I dreamed up, from day one.  He’s my dream come true.

This past weekend, we sang two separate songs, that both mentioned orphans, now having homes.  We were rehearsing at home, while I held Pierce, and when we got to the line “The orphans now have a home”, we lost it.  From the moment we knew about Pierce, he was wanted.  He was chosen.  He was ours, so referring to him as an orphan, is a struggle for me, because he’s just so much apart of me.  I feel as though he was never an orphan.  It’s supernatural, really.  Something I just can’t explain to those who have never experienced it.  He has been ours from the day he was conceived.  Nonetheless, he was an orphan.  We all were.  The spiritual picture you experience through your own child, being adopted, kind of rocks your world.

I grew up in a wonderful home with an incredible father.  I knew if there was something I needed, I could go to him, without hesitancy, and he would find a way for me to get what I needed…not wanted 🙂 but needed.  I also knew that if a friend had a need, I could go to my parents and they would try to figure out a way to get that need met for them, as well.  My father did and still does an incredible job of taking care of his kids.  It’s his honor (he tells us), his privilege.  I could sleep peacefully at night, knowing my dad was going to protect me.  I had/have a secure sense in what being taken care of, felts/feels like.  We feel that way with Pierce.  There’s not one thing this child will need, that he won’t receive.  We will exhaust every resource.  He has access to whatever we have or what our families have.  HE’S OUR CHILD.

Think about the spiritual aspect of being God’s child.  When I do, I hang my head, and say, “Father, I’m so sorry.”  How He longs to take care of us.  It’s his desire; His pleasure.  He has adopted each of us.  What He has is ours already, simply because we are His kids.  There’s nothing like a Father taking care of His child.  When you’re taken care of, you can have the faith of a child.  You can rest, knowing He’s taking care of you. You can depend on who He says He is.  He’s faithful.  He’s constant.  He loves you more than you can imagine. I get that I have a healthy aspect of God as a Father, because I have such a wonderful one.  I get that it’s a struggle for some to see God as someone who longs to take care of us, love us, and hold us when we ache.  But He does.  He really does.  Our Heavenly Father, created the universe.  HE CREATED THE UNIVERSE.  He’s the ultimate Father.  The one who will never leave you.  He will never forsake you.  He sacrificed His Son for you, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE ONE WHO CREATED YOU.  You are no longer an orphan.  You are adopted.  You are His dream come true.

Adoption Month

As many of you know, Ben and I have been walking the road of “unique family planning” through adoption 🙂 This past Sunday, many people brought awareness for adoption/foster care through #orphansunday.  Our church, Mission Community Church, highlighted an incredible ministry within our church walls, called “Esther’s Hope.”  It’s a wonderful support and encouragement for families wanting to adopt or in the adoption process, as well as supporting families in the foster care system.  Our hearts have been pulled in so many directions concerning orphans.  Yes, we are adopting from Ethiopia and we could not be more excited to receive our little one.  The process will take another 2 years, at the least.  The waiting is difficult and at times you forget that there is a child on the other side of all the hoops you jump through.  You get discouraged.  Your heart aches. You see a little one from Ethiopia and burst into tears (yes, this happened to me in the middle of a restaurant!)

 

When Ben and I started dating, we discussed adoption as an option for us, whether or not we would have issues with getting pregnant.  It’s always been apart of our hearts.  Orphans have my heart.  They have Ben’s heart. We did have issues getting pregnant.  2 failed IVF cycles, a miscarriage…and now we are here.  We both had to search our hearts to make sure we weren’t approaching adoption as a consolation prize.  We couldn’t make that next step until our heart’s ache was to adopt.  And now it’s our ache.  It’s been our ache since we started the process of adopting a little one from Ethiopia.  We believe it is the greatest gift…not to give to a child, but to give to ourselves…to see and experience the redemption of Him calling us His own.  When we look at the face of that child, to remember the grace and mercy that He extends to us daily, will change our lives every single day.  Yes, we will change a child’s life, but this child’s life will change so many.  We waited and chose him/her…just as Christ did for us.  He chose us.  He sacrificed for our salvation…to be named HIS…forever, and I am so grateful.

 

Ben and I have experienced heartbreak and disappointment.  It seems as though we get glimpses of our future and then that hope disappears with a disappointment.  It’s been hard to see the bright side of things (which usually comes very natural to both of us).  We had and have to choose daily to remember that He has good things in store for us.  He has blessed us more than we could ever imagine and we are so grateful.  Learning to trust God with your family before you even have one is a challenge,  and we are walking in it daily.  Sometimes, we have victory and other days we feel defeated, but He is still good.  He is still faithful, He is still ours and we are His.

 

A month or so ago, we received a phone call from lawyer (friend of a friend) about a private adoption.  In just 24 hours we found out about a baby boy due March 5, skyped with the birth mother, prayed, cried and 2 days later signed papers to be this sweet baby boy’s parents.  We didn’t want to announce it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or anything really.  The subject is so tender for us.  There are fears, natural fears with adoption.  There are people’s opinion and personal stories of heartbreak, that cloud our thoughts.  But there is also this thought…He has provided what He’s promised to us.  All of this could fall apart and if so, we got to pray for a precious little boy that will stay in our hearts forever.  BUT, this could be wonderful and work out perfectly.  That is our heart’s desire and what we believe will come to pass.  We count ourselves honored to be chosen to be his parents.  We are thrilled, excited, and nervous to be first time parents.  🙂

 

We are asking that you pray for our little one.  We have named him Benjamin Pierce.  He will go by Pierce.  His name is the combination of the men in the Kilgore/Merrick heritage.  He will grow strong and brave.  He will know he is loved and cherished everyday. He will change this world through the love he extends daily and He will be the apple of His eye.  It is our privilege to share this joy with you.  We celebrate his life and his mother’s.  We thank God daily for women like her, who choose to give life to their child and hope to parents like us.  We are the luckiest.  He is faithful.

 

Thank you for your prayers.  We covet them…keep them coming!! Thank you for your encouragement throughout the years. So many of you have held our hand through tears and questions…through the frustrations and pain.  We are so grateful for each of you.  We ask that you continue to pray.  We love you.

Glory

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged or journaled.  I think it’s because I have been overwhelmed with emotions lately, not knowing exactly the order of my thoughts.  We’ve experienced a lot of change in the past 3 months.  We moved from our beautiful home and community in Tulsa, Oklahoma to another beautiful home and community in Gilbert, Arizona.  You know those moments when you feel a nudge by God to do something? Well this move wasn’t a nudge…it was a push.  I’m grateful for those moments.  They don’t happen often but when they do, it’s fun to see it all come together, better than you can imagine.  Home is where Ben is…and our dogs 🙂 so I am home.

A week or so ago, our pastor talked about trials and having faith through the trials.  He described the levels of faith through pain, ranging from elementary to masters.  He mentioned that during the Master level, which some rarely reach, you are thanking God for the storm because you know He will get the glory.  As I listened, I was recalling the last 5 years.  We’ve walked through the valleys and hilltops, but a lot seem to be the valleys.  That’s not a sob story, we’ve just been hit by a lot.  A huge theme being our desire to have children, adoption, fertility and loss.  We’ve been disappointed.  In fact, we’ve stayed in the place of just expecting disappointment.  I’m not saying that was right, just saying that’s where we were.  There have been many times walking through it all, that my heart has wanted to praise God in the midst.  I do believe there were moments when I lifted my head to the hills, and I worshiped and delighted myself in the Lord.  There were also many moments of doubt, fear, anger and just plain sadness.  But something hit me during that message…my children being the glory of my Father.  The outcome of the storm, will ultimately be the glory of our Heavenly Father.  I saw them as a crown around His head.  I then saw friends who are walking through fire, holding their hands.  Your pain, your storm’s end result, is His glory.  For some, that’s a comfort to you…for others, you honestly don’t want it…the pain is too hard.  I understand that and don’t fault you for that.  I have been there and still have moments of being there.

Do I know we will have children, yes.  Will they bring glory to our Father? Absolutely. Is it fun? Nope.  Is it easy? Nope. Do I question His ways? Yup!  I don’t have the answers and it seems that everywhere I turn lately, I’ve encountered pain in others.  I’m very sensitive so it weighs heavy on me.  I want joy for others.  I want freedom and peace for my friends and family.  Just as much as I want that for them and myself, I know He desires it even more.

I know I’ve been guilty of thinking as long as I’m encountering and seeking out a relationship with God, I walk in His blessings. This is true to some degree, but what is dangerous, is when the storm comes, we blame Him.  I certainly have.  Do I think God can handle that? Of course.  He didn’t promise a perfect life.  Your faith doesn’t save you.  His sacrifice did.

Definition of “sacrifice” from Websters

: an act of offering to a deity something precious;especially : the killing of a victim on an altar
2
: something offered in sacrifice
3
a : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else

b : something given up or lost <the sacrifices made by parents>

4
: loss <goods sold at a sacrifice>
That’s what He did and sometimes it’s what we must do.  I have difficulty trusting people and this plays heavily in my relationship with God.  Today I chose to trust the storm.  Today I trust in His goodness.  I find peace in who He is.  Your storm and struggle is real.  It’s okay to be disappointed, upset and tired.  I encourage you, as I encourage myself to seek His glory in the midst of it.  The greatest thing my children could and can ever be is the glory of God
Definition of Glory:
a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : renown

b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving <giving glory to God>

2
a : something that secures praise or renown <the glory of a brilliant career>

I can only hope and pray that my heart brings glory to Him.  Hold tight, one day you’ll be dancing in the beautiful security of His peace, joy and freedom.

Oh, there you are, Peter!

WATCH THE VIDEO, FIRST, PLEASE 🙂

Last week my family and I spent some time in Jackson Hole, WY. I don’t know what it is about the mountains or nature, or Jackson, for that matter, but I always seem to hear God with a little more clarity. Maybe it’s because the beauty is so breathtaking, that you can’t help but think of Him and declare His goodness?

One of the days, I was outside, on the patio, and this scene from “Hook” came to my mind. It’s one of my favorite movies. And this is one of my favorite scenes. I cry every time (shocker, I know) You see, Peter (as in Peter Pan – Robin Williams) leaves Neverland to grow up and have a family. His children are taken by Captain Hook. Peter returns to the “lost boys” begging them to help him free his children. They don’t believe it’s him. He looks different. He talks different. He dresses different. It just can’t be him. Well, through different tricks and test, this scene comes about.

This sweet boy (who I could just eat) starts pulling and poking at Peter’s face, resulting in him finally seeing Peter, hence “Oh there you are Peter.” Maybe it’s because I’m a creative mind, but most of the time, God speaks to me through analogies or scenes from movies or things played out before me. As this scene played in my mind, I felt His sweet peace, “Oh, here I am, Noelle.”

How often, after searching and asking for God to appear, to dwell, to intercede, wondering where He is, are we left disappointed? The lesson in this for me is God looks different all the time. His heart and His affection towards us, never changes, but maybe we have to start looking for Him in different ways. Because you see, He’s always there. You may not think it. You may not feel it. It may not look like Him. But He never left. I keep playing those words in my head, “oh, there you are Peter.” It reminded how often I miss God bc I’m not looking in the right places. My mind and focus are desiring a result that I’ve imagined in my head, but the truth is, He might just look different than before.

I just wanted to encourage you, as I am encouraging myself… to pull, and stretch, and move things around, because He’s there, just as He said. Life may look different than you imagined, but He’s in it. He desires you to know Him in all ways. He’s sweet to us and longs to reveal His heart to you…just keep looking, asking. He’s there.

I love how the little one tells the rest, “give him a chance” …just give Him a chance.  He might just be who He says He is.

Grace and Peace

Worship

As many of you know, Ben and I have been through a tornado of emotions and failed fertility treatments, as well as a miscarriage this past year.  A week or so ago, we had negative results from our latest attempt.  We had experienced the letdown of it before, so it was hard, but I had convinced myself that it wasn’t too big of a deal.  Then we had to lead worship that Sunday morning.  One of the songs on the list was “You are Good.” In rehearsal, I turned to Ben and said, I don’t want to sing this.  I can’t sing this.  Being the encouraging husband that he is, he said “we need to.  We need to sing this.”  He offered to lead it instead of me.  When the time came to sing it, I was okay in the first 2 services.  I wasn’t thinking about the words.  I had imagined Ben doing a silly dance while I was singing so I wouldn’t really think about the words.  Then the 3rd service came.  I couldn’t shake it.  I started to sing that song, struggling with each note, and honestly, with each word.  To declare His goodness at that moment, was a major struggle.  I didn’t believe it.  I was mad.  I was disappointed.  Something in me shifted.  I hadn’t paid attention to the words like that before.  I mean, I had, but the conviction of the words, wouldn’t leave.  We had to add a song last minute and it ended up  being “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone” and the verse I always sing, came up on the screen. “The Lord has promised good to me.  His Word my hope secures.” I literally thought to myself before singing it, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”  I struggled through that verse.  I broke in the car after that service.  It was good for me to face the disappointment and to still declare God’s goodness.  

This isn’t a blog about me declaring victory in a time of defeat.  This isn’t an encouragement to pick up the pieces and get back to work, smiling all the way.  It’s an explanation of what worship is for me.  Sometimes it’s easy and I really enjoy it.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s hard to sing those words and to lead others to the place of believing them.  Did I believe them as I sang them that Sunday?  Honestly, I didn’t.  BUT what did happen was healing.  Worship is always healing to me when I don’t realize it.  It places me in a position of saying those things, of talking to my God, of being intimate with Him and my raw emotions. It was healing.  He wasn’t offended by how I felt.  I take comfort in that.

I tend to be a perfectionist concerning myself.  I have unrealistic expectations, not for others, but for me. I just want everything to be in order.  I don’t want people to hurt, so I try to fix it.  I don’t want people to struggle, so I figure out how help carry the load.  I don’t want people to go without, so I sacrifice things.  This isn’t big on me at all.  It’s to show that I don’t like the “yuck.”  I want peace and happiness.  I want to laugh and feel carefree.  If something is broken, I want to help fix it.  All of this sounds good, but it’s a resounding gong in my head.  “STOP TRYING TO FIX EVERYTHING.”  I even have this expectation of God to fix everything.  Especially with the issue of having children.  He’s able to, so why wouldn’t He just fix it.  Well, Noelle, why can’t you just be still?  To sit in the “yuck” and to feel the grossness?  I’m not saying I can’t be optimistic.  That’s my nature, but it’s vital that I be still and be okay with where I’m at because I KNOW my Savior has me.  That’s what worship is for me.  It makes me face the “yuck” sometimes and it makes me aware of His presence.  

So here’s me.  Letting it all out.  Learning to trust God in the yuck, to be still, and not fix everything.  To lay down my longings, my fears, my control, and sit with my God.  He loves you.  He’s sweet to us.  He wants to hold us in the yuck, tears, and the really sweet and joyous times.  You are loved.  You aren’t alone. You’re His dream come true.

Be that girl

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This past year has brought about many changes for my family.  One of those being that my parents no longer own the house we grew up in, and so at Christmas time, my mom gave each of us a big bin with tons of memories from our bedrooms.  So many things came to mind as I looked through this box.  I now have my violin from when I was 3 and 4 and even my baby booties from the day I was born.  She made a photo album for each of us starting at birth to where we are now.  One of the pages had pictures of me from junior high and high school and letters from friends with some ticket stubs and things like that.  Since then, I can’t quit thinking about high school and wish I would have known what I know now.  I know all of us say that.  I mean, I say it when I’m referring to 2 years ago.  But for some crazy reason, key statements have come to mind, so I decided I would start a little series on my blog discussing what I wish I would have known.  So this is for young girls, or maybe even single women…

When I was in junior high and high school, I was known as the good girl.  The girl that most guys wouldn’t touch with a 10 ft. pole (one, because I had a protective older brother) but mostly because of my values and upbringing.  I was proud of who I was and took very strong stands on what I believed and in what I would and would not participate in.  When it came to boys, I just knew I wasn’t something they chased after.  This isn’t a pity party at all, but when you’re at that age, and you want to feel pretty and popular, usually the first indication is what the boys say about you.  I had lots of guy friends.  Sometimes it was easier to be friends with guys than girls at that age, because you don’t have the drama…at least not as much.  I was referred to as sweet, nice, cute…those are all great things but sometimes you just wanted to be that girl you heard the guys talk about.  Not in a perverted way, just in admiration.  I had a conversation with one of my guy friends my senior year and he told me “Noelle, you’re not the kind of girl that guys like to date.  You’re the kind of girl, guys want to marry.” Sounds great, but at that moment, you just kinda want to be the girl they want to date 🙂 I mean, not many guys are looking to marry in high school.

I say this because now, looking back, I’m glad I was that girl.  To the young junior high and high school girls, and single women…be that girl.  I know it may seem like it’s not what you want, but trust me, it’s what you want.  There’s a fight for your destiny and it starts with the choices you make now.  God’s redemption and mercy is so sweet. Even when you make wrong choices, it doesn’t derail you.  It just delays you.  I’ve messed up and made some wrong choices.  God’s given me back what I lost, but I experienced hurt and rejection that didn’t have to be apart of my story.  My choices made for some crazy chapters in my life.

Something that helped me when I was younger, is I had women in my life that I looked up to that I saw live that out before me.  To women out there with young eyes on you…be that woman.  We need more of you.  Surround yourself with good friends and quality people.  Value who you are, the way you dress, what you wear, how you speak…it puts value on you.  You deserve the world and back.  Be proud to be the girl guys want to marry and not just have a fling with.  Aspire to be that girl.  I know it might seem lonely, but there’s a man just dying to be with you for the rest of your life, but he won’t value you, unless you value yourself.  I know it’s easier said than done.  I just see the fight for wholesomeness in this society and it’s losing.  It can change.  You can change.  Your life can change.  Be that girl

And men, value those types of girls.  It doesn’t just come naturally.  It’s a choice they make daily.  Be the man that encourages goodness in women.

“Healing”

Last week, my husband and I released a record “Sacred Songs” and the first track is called “Healing.”  Ben wrote this song several years ago but the story behind it most recently, is our personal “healing” story.

As many of you know, we experienced a miscarriage in April.  It was during this time, we were in the middle of recording “Sacred Songs.”  Ben had been in Norman, mixing, when the doctor called me to tell me we lost the baby.  He immediately came home and upon arrival, he put the CD in, and the first track, “Healing” came on.  He started singing the song over me.  I begged him not to play it, not to sing. I didn’t want to hear those words, let alone sing them.  He cried as he sang and we held each other.  His healing was very present in that moment, even though it didn’t “feel” it.

I tell this story, not get your sympathy, but so that you might have a better understanding of this song.  Many relate this song to a physical healing they are asking God for, but in reality, I believe all of us have healing that needs to take place in our hearts and emotions.  It was in that moment, that song became so real to me.  I didn’t have the strength to ask, but the song did that for me.  That is the power of music.  It’s our prayer that as you listen to that song, or any other song, for that matter, that it will aid in your time of inability.

The lyrics “nothing broken, nothing missing” used to be the prayer, Ben, before he was my husband, would pray over me. He would send me texts, just to remind me of the continuous healing God was doing in me.  Many negative things had been spoken over me and God’s refreshing reminder was healing to me.  He’s doing things in the midst of your pain.  The times you might think He’s not present is the closest He’s been to you.  Embrace this time to allow God to heal those things in you.  Let this song be a help to you.  To quote Bob Goff, “our lives are held together with scotch tape, bailing wire, and grace.”  Thank you God, that our emotional/spiritual health is resting in His ability, not our own.

This really isn’t to promote our song or record, but to give you a better understanding of our music.  These songs are things we’ve walked through.  It’s a soundtrack to the redemptive story He is writing in us.  Sometimes His healing looks different to us than what we are imagining.  He loves to surprise us, to draw us closer.  It doesn’t take much, just a simple “help” is enough for Him.  He longs to rescue you.  Be encouraged.