Monday, September 21, 2015

Season of Awakening

I started September fresh. Yes, the kids were back in school, but I had made some intentional decisions to make room for what mattered most by removing some of the things that mattered least. He is working in that space I have given Him.

I have realized this is a new season for me & it is a Season of Awakening. I'm not filling every nook and cranny of my time with to-do's but instead with just-be's. I find myself standing at times staring in all directions, "What should I do now?" And with those questions, there are choices: rest, read, be productive, play, invest in relationships, sow into others, meet with Me's; I have the freedom to choose and enjoy each one. I am not wrapped up in have-to's, idol obligation, self-striving, or insignificant distraction, but living in the the gift of now. 

I wish I could recap this last 8 hours of this day in a way that bled truth so vulnerable; so vulnerable you'd share in my heavy eyes but know my full heart that comes only from His love. I fear it may be impossible but I will try. 

It was 7:10am and I felt a gentle shake on my back.  Face planted firmly in the warmth of our bed, I bemoaned morning coming so quickly. I threw my legs over the bed, rubbed my eyes, & swooped my sweater over my shoulders, "Get in gear, Allegra, we're behind for a Monday morning with minions who need breakfast before school," I thought groggily. 

Cheerios. Coffee. Pack Lunches. Shoes on. Backpacks remembered. Out the door. 

7:49am, "Bye, baby, I love you!" I said as I cranked my head to the back seat. I say it because I mean it AND because I want to see my second graders face stare back silently saying, "moooommmm!!!"

I was looking forward to this day! I was thankful for this day. Just give me a cup of coffee and I would KNOW I meant that. 

9:00am, prepare for the dramatic drop off of my pre-schooler. He does not like letting me go. He cries and clings like those who know him wouldn't even believe. My baby.

"Oh, I'm SO lucky to be his mama. I'm so thankful Jesus that I get to be the one who takes him to school and picks him up. Thank you," I pray internally as his tears wet my neck. 

9:18am, I'm on the way to meet my Monday Mama for we are going to indulge in coffee and a mall hour. The sun is high, the leaves on the trees are starting to shift from granny smith to fuji & I turn the worship music on because there's nothing I want more than just to praise this morning:

I need you like the rain 
Come to me and sing again 
I long for your love so much 
I've wanted your pure touch

You are beautiful, beautiful 
You are beautiful, beautiful 
So beautiful, beautiful
I find my right hand reaching up as my left hand holds the wheel: half in heaven, half at the wheel. I lose myself in that worship moment not caring who drives behind or ahead of me wondering if I'm crazy. This moment is mine to be with Jesus & all I want to do is sing each word like I am before Him; He has given me this day, this life, and I am going to thank him for it. I am awakened to His mercy & grace.

11:03am I have found two pairs of pants that fit me in amazing ways & I'm shuffling the GAP sale section with my nearest telling her, "Jesus is REALLY showing me things," not even paying attention to the fact others can hear me. (The conversation is genuine but my volume may have been fueled by caffeine.)

11:30am ....need....deep, aching need creeps in. The smack of real life that steals your breath, makes you incompetent at knowing how to use your phone jolts me. I need HIM & I need him NOW.

I can lose myself in the worship song that starts to play...
Call my name
And I will answer 
All you need
It's here inside my arms
Just breathe
And you'll be safe and sound with me

I hear Ben Rector's song in my mind:
This isn't easy
This isn't clear
And you don't need Jesus
Til you're here
Then confusion and the doubts you had
Up and walk away

I tell Jesus, "I KNOW you! You had me dig my well today so when I was thirsty this afternoon I would KNOW. I would remember I NEED you, God, to love the gifts and mourn the hurt. Thank you for being my Father who loves me, holds me, lifts me up, walks ahead, supports behind, cheers me on, tells me when I'm wrong," and brings me to His chest. 

This with me always....

3:23pm I am tired but I know truth. I am waiting but I know goodness. I'm writing to Jesus: I love you. NOTHING changes You. Thank You. 

The Season of Awakening

Housefires says it best for today: 

Oh, I've heard a thousand stories of
what they think you're like
but I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night You tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone You're a Good, Good Father It's who you are
I'm waiting Jesus & you know what for. As I wait, I thank you for friends who show up, love that reigns true, & the truth that it is only You who can fix the unfixable. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dear Starbucks....

Dear Starbucks, 

This is a story most mom's can tell, but do they?!
I'm writing on behalf of the decaffeinated, the play-date-dream-broken, & the bereaved.
I'm writing for all the moms who have planned the out-of-the-box play date, 
the women who imagined the perfect scenario playing out beside their fellow veteran(s),
& the moms who are constantly reminded of what perfect parents we were....before children.

Like most golden play dates, it begins with YOU, Starbucks.
You're the goal...the reward...nay, you give us purpose, reason & fulfillment just with ONE little cup & one emerald green straw.
Starbucks, this story is for you.

So the story starts like this...

It was a cool, crisp morning in Lake Oswego.
Leila and I were looking forward to sitting river side on the Willamette (damnit!)
The dream included a picnic blanket, beach towels, & shovels
(or kitchen spoons since we're the ultra creative type).
It had been weeks since we had seen each other & the kids kept saying (read: begging relentlessly) to play.
Why NOT try a new park, a new place to roam, an adventure?

We showed up to a serene setting.

We set up camp & threw the spoons to the kids and released them to begin creating clean, organized river dirt castles.

Oh, sweet divinity!
Leila & I would now....finally...warm our hands & bellies with liquid gold: lattes!
Grande, Skinny Vanilla, Lattes! 
(By the way, thank you, Starbucks, for making it such a great drink to order. 
"SKINNY Vanilla latte for Allegra!" the barista shouts over the fans & I'm all too confident & happy to claim it: "That's right! That's MY Skinny drink....and my cake pop...)

This is when things get good.

The kids aren't staying on the river bed...they're quickly approaching the river.
No, wait, they're IN the river.
($&!* . Oh, well. WE have Starbucks!)

Then...the unthinkable!
That cute little, old, pink haired lady with the knee brace & clearly too-much-for-her wet river soaked dog come screaming through OUR imperfectly perfect Mom Moment!

Grande SKINNY lattes & hot chocolate are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E
Wet river mud has caked not only us but the blanket, the beach towels, and our bodies.
Our jaws drop.
The dog is not just taking a single pass through our space but multiple.
Multiple jumpy, dirty, barky, gross passes through OUR mom moment.
It seems we now have nothing to live for.

Our children are disgusting (more so than before)
Our coffee is gone!

That's not just our fuel but it was our hard saved pennies!
That ONE thing that gets to be ours...that one SWEET, expensive, indulgent treat...
it's GONE along with our money.

We are now left with
no apology
confirmed dislike of domesticated pets
no coffee
dirty kids
& we are convinced we are on "Boiling Point"

Oh, are the reason we manage & the devastation when the cup goes forcibly dry.
You save us from our worst selves...until someone else strips us of our moment.
We may never recover.
(Well, until we save up for the next cup.)

With Love,
Allegra & Leila

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Am I There Yet?

The freeway went on for miles. It's amazing how enjoyable a road trip can be without a million stops for the bathroom & sans, "Are we there yet?" on repeat. Two empty car seats in the back & as many Starbucks drive thru's as we could stomach on a 6 hour drive. Just the two of us. 

"So, what exactly are we going to do?" He asked me from the driver seat. The sun beat down on my bare feat bugging him as they rested on the dash. 

"Well I have the schedule, but I don't really know what to expect," I replied. 

The husband & I were headed to Northern California to meet up with my grandparents & directors of a board called New Day for Children.

I come from a personal background that consists of a passion for the voiceless. It lead me to major in Women's Studies and pursue volunteer work with Women's Shelters and the like. I saw what New Day was about & accepted my Grandparent's offer to be on site with them. 

Away from the office and the daily grind,  my husband had the head & heart space to hear what we were doing. I read to him as the miles ticked by:
New Day for Children has taken a multi-faceted approach to meet the unique needs of the girls rescued, combining shelter, education and therapy to help heal mind, body and spirit. We provide education, restorative care and therapeutic services to girls’ ages 10-18 who have been victimized by Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Our goal is to care for the girls and help them recapture their childhoods, while building their self- esteem and confidence.
We heard the words, we gasped at the stories, we broke the silence of our own thoughts with made up games: "What would you do if you won this week's mega million?" (This is a game I love to play with my best friend, too).

We arrived in the brown, dry face of Northern California early that evening to stretch our legs & eat dinner with my Grandparents before a day ahead coming face to face with the strongest girls I have ever. ever. met.

There's something that happens for me in the wake of knowing I am about to have my heart changed forever; I go numb. It's as if the anticipation of the unforeseen trumps all of my ability to imagine. 

I lay awake that night with the TV tuning out my thoughts just enough to hear only my mind's thundering whispers. Since March of this year, God has been working in me and with me on some pending questions: what on earth was my over priced education all about? Why do I have a passion for the problem of the voiceless if it's one that scares my husband? How am I supposed to use that soft spot in my heart for His kingdom as a mom and a wife? And then there were the questions I wasn't....I am not...ready to ask still because I know how my Father works. He is good and He is merciful. He waits for me to make the ask & when I overcome my own fear, He answers. 


Morning broke & my stomach growled. I battled the blackout curtains & my sweet husband,

"Just five more minutes," I begged.

I needed five more minutes to pretend that I had any speck of understanding of these girls pasts. I needed five minutes to buckle before Jesus, 

"Father, you KNOW me. You KNOW what I'm doing right now. I'm shutting it off to survive what will break my heart. Help me see these girls not for their broken past but for their daunting ability to survive the unsurvivable!"


The ride into the undisclosed location was informative. We asked questions of the Founding Directors about the girls, their current home, & the program.  Our days plan included lunch with the girls in the mess hall, a tour of the grounds, & dinner in town with the girls {*Which is a really, really big treat for them}. Somewhere in there I would have the chance to teach them how to do Jamberry Nails. 

I imagined our visit must make the girls feel like fish.  There they are swimming in a fish bowl with spectators eyeing them building the glass partition of normal life deeper between them & the outside world. I wanted....I bring that wall down. I could not bring myself to stare as an outsider. I wanted them to know they could just be.

Those girls changed my heart. I choked down the knot in my throat the whole day. There was the unspoken between us that Nails & being a girl overrode; they weren't broken to me, they were like me. They laughed with each other, asked me which nail wraps would be best, were right at my side asking me to help them, asking about my life, asking one to do their hair and another to fix their eyebrows, 

"Do these shoes look good with these jeans?" one asked

"Oh, sorry!" one apologized as her braids hit me in the face as she turned.

"Don't be sorry! I'm jealous your hair is that long," I laughed back. 

I was as familiar as the chairs they sat on that day. Needed yet unnoticed. Thank you, Jesus. 


I haven't known how to process everything I still feel. The knot is still sitting in my throat taunting me, "LET IT OUT". But I'm not there yet. 

One of the most fascinating things that one of the Director's shared with me was this, 
We encourage the girls to find one person in the program they trust to tell their story too. Other than that, they keep their past as a part of their therapy and their life in the program focused on feeling again, even if it's anger, and building the courage to hope and dream for their future
As I sat with a dear friend today over coffee processing how God works, what He calls us each into, & what we are supposed to do with that,  I thought again about that statement and wondered:

WHO WOULD I BE IF I stopped worrying about people needing to know where my feet have walked? 
WHO WOULD I BE IF I just allowed myself to rest in what I say Jesus has done: renewed & reawakened me.
WHO WOULD I BE IF I just focused on living out my present & my future. 

WHO WOULD I TELL PEOPLE I AM if I couldn't tell them who I was?


For more information on New Day for Children 
or to donate to their efforts

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Never talk badly about your spouse to anyone. Ever."

Why aren't anniversaries celebrated with the grandeur a birthday is?
I mean, I didn't DO anything on my birth day that I have earned any recognition for, yet I'm lavished with love and reminders that I matter.
On the day that I married my husband, what he was saying...what I was saying...was that we belonged to each other. We made a commitment, a covenant, that day that no other relationship has in our lives:  He is who I make my decisions with. He is who I will raise my children with. He is who will be there when no one else is. He is who I will work everything out with - for better or worse, til death do us part. 

Everyone wanted to be there for the wedding. Oh, the wedding. The quintessential perfect day that every little girl dreams of: the white dress, the flowers, the attention. We actually didn't want all of that. What we wanted was our feet on the sand and a moment undistracted with "show" to rest in what we were about to say forever to. We got some of that, our wedding story is a beautifully tangled one, but the point is, vows are a big freaking deal. An anniversary? An anniversary is a big freaking deal! 

Each year a couple stands facing each other, waking up beside each other, spending evenings talking together, dreaming about a future together, watching babies change together, tackling heart aches together, learning how to disagree together, wading the waters of the "worse" seasons promised in the vows together--THAT is what deserves the recognition, the love, and the show. The marriage still standing should get the free slice of cake after the entree, don't you think?
I live in an age and time of the loose lipped. There are a million forums to complain and defame what and who we love, a thousand people I can get on board to agree to keep me down instead of challenge me upward. There are few safe places to converse or to have the iron sharpens iron moments yet avenues, alleys and highways of people just waiting to jump on board for the fight & denigration. I don't want that world. I want the one that says, 

"Never talk badly about your spouse to anyone. Ever," and the one that reminds me "Others don't forgive and forget the things you say about your spouse -- they don't love them like you do." I want those voices that speak truth: "Sometimes the only way people know about your spouse is through you. Build them up. Always." ~unknown

The sad reality is, is that our culture doesn't celebrate anniversaries but instead watches the hourglass and waits for the time to run out. THAT is not what my vows were for, however, and it's NOT what they are to me now.
I am perfectly imperfect, flawed in every way. I make mistakes day in and day out, I succeed and I fail, I submit & I fight. I have a very, very select few women in my life that are the safe place to say, "this is the struggle right now," & they help me. They hear my words and instead of lighting the fire, they point me back to God & to what my part in the current problem is. That is what people need in their lives: fire fighters, not starters. 

Let the words you speak of your spouse by thought-full. Let them be praise & adoration for what you say of them is what they will know themselves as & how others will see them. Marriage is not a one day party you were invited to be the star of, it was a life long commitment you invited witnesses to. What story are you telling to all who stand behind you and watch?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

hole up, shut out, board up, & lock down

I have been on a few short term mission trips. There is something about being away, immersed in Jesus, scared, needing him, overcome with self awareness that makes it hard to come home. Those few weeks away soaking up the Son with such intensity redefine what's important. Seeing the face of those less fortunate smile bigger than I do in my abundance reshapes "want" and "need". The return is unsettling. The world you left hasn't changed, but YOU have. You want to fit back in but you can't. 

I haven't been on mission in years now. Church talks about mission being right where you are, in your neighborhood and with your community. As an introvert what I hear is I'm NOT missional. 

I struggle with the word evangelism. It's churchy and sounds disingenuous to me. I picture a person on a street corner with a bullhorn or a van with a sticker that says JESUS SAVES. 

I don't DO Jesus like that. I don't receive him like that & I don't share him like that. 

On Sunday I was encouraged for the first time in awhile that as a mom, I actually AM missional. I seek to raise and grow boys who pray with a genuine spirit of thanks to Jesus, boys who ask me real questions about heaven & wonder about their peers going to church, boys who get to know God by my own love for them.

Despite that encouragement, I'm finding being a Christian lately to be hard. Not the act of loving & or the reality of knowing Jesus, but what it means in the world. I'm finding it hurtful to love & yet impossible not to. I'm digging at the reality that I hurt people, too. 

I am finding my humanity challenging, my mistakes annoying, my sins frustrating. I WANT to be this person that loves without flaw and that is impossible. I want to be loved without injury & that will never happen on this earth. I am finding all of those complex emotions under the umbrella of saying I'm a Christian are incredibly hard for me right now. 

The more I sin, the more I'm ashamed. The more I love, the more likely I am to get hurt. The more I hurt, the harder it is to love. 

The God I know doesn't want me to feel shame, wants me to love, says this world is imperfect & will hurt. He Himself lived in this world and felt that hurt. 

I'm finding I want to go on retreat. I want to go on mission. I want that disconnection in order to connect that comes from saying TIME OUT. The problem is, I want to live in that place right now. I want to hole up, shut out, board up, and lock down so I can exist as this person who doesn't hurt others, doesn't get hurt, & just lives with Jesus unashamed. 

I know I can't do that, but I want to. 

I want to.....

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do It Afraid

I follow Joyce Meyer Ministries & often find myself clinging to words she shares. Last night she shared this:
"The feeling of fear is not that abnormal. We all feel that, but just because you feel fear, doesn't mean you have to let it stop you. You can feel fear and still 'do it afraid.'"

It completely resonates with my heart. I keep finding the more things I say "I'll NEVER do that" to, the list of how wrong I am keeps growing.
I'll NEVER get Married. WRONG
I'll NEVER have kids. WRONG
I'll NEVER do direct sales. WRONG.

All of those I'll NEVERS stemming from FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of hurt, FEAR.


January was a weird month for me, and that word doesn't even FIT. I walk into February with this same off-putting feeling that I am not emotionally, physically, spiritually where I should be. I feel trapped inside my own head & heart trying to sort out a pieces of my soul that have all become dislodged. And there's no reason. There's no catastrophic moment that gives reason to this; which honestly makes me feel crazy.

I woke up at 3am this morning haunted by dreams that felt so real, full of people I love & have loved, full of moments I fear, remember, and anticipate, FULL of burden. I had to get my bearings: what is real, where am I, where do I live, what day is it?

I tried putting myself back to sleep mentally drawing bubbles my me-hood is segregated into.... And ALL of this is what I can't shake!

I am drowning in my own division, pouring the best of me into being employed because it FEELS the most validating, falling at the feet of Jesus throughout the day knowing it's not where I want to be & not sure how to touch bottom in the shallow end again. 

I keep looking for answers for the mental chaos. I keep WANTING to withdraw, seclude, isolate and recharge but there's no time for that. So, how do I rebuild & recenter? 

I turn my worship on and while the toy cars crash and the kids fight I let the words sink in and the truth starts to warm me

So today, I am regurgitating this. I am going to keep stepping out, doing it afraid, working to realign and reword the lies to truths. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

plant, grow, harvest, sow

I started the year empty & foreign to myself, I wrote about that the other day, & since that post I've reawakened. I feel like myself again! My skin feels like MINE again! 

Something quite literally clicked. 

I walked downstairs and I saw my microwave and my refrigerator and my heart felt SO thankful so I just said, "Thank you, Jesus!" That little whisper of gratitude created this avalanche of internal unfolding and my gratitude snowballed into greater & greater thanks!

I took my son to school yesterday and decided to get with the current century and try my first podcast. I went back to our former church for a resource and rediscovered Drive Time daily devotions. I turned the first one on & in 4 minutes, I was refueled. The prayer at the end made me re-listen 6 times & eventually type it out. 

The prayer RESTORED me. It put words to what I couldn't put my finger on. I was anxious. I am unknowing of where I need to plant my gifts. Unsure of how He wants to use my gifts to provide for our family & the purpose He has for my life.  

Are you feeling just...stall-struck? 

Maybe this prayer will speak to you, too?

God I trust this year into Your hands 
and whatever harvest you want to come out of this year 
of relationships, hope, and love of ministry of finances of family of growth 
all those things in my life
anything and everything
God I want Your harvest in my life. 

I want what You want for my life. 
So show me where to plant and then how to trust You for what is going to grow. 
Show me how to plow and how to trust You to send the rain. 

God show me what You want me to do and then I trust You for the harvest. 

You are the one who is going to send the harvest and I will bless You and be blessed by whatever harvest You send. 

At the beginning of this year I put my faith and trust in You in that way. 

And Lord I pray that,that would cause me to have less anxiety this year and in place of my anxiety there would be this sense of trust that God You know what you're doing. You're at work in my life. You're going to bring blessings through and in my life this year. 

I trust you with that. 

In Jesus name, 


{you can listen HERE

I started my day feeling restored but it ended with a challenge.

My husband sought to encourage me with words but they unintentionally shook my spirit. He reminded me I needed to be thinking about my future with work when our boys are in school. He mentioned my strength in marketing for others and how I should turn it toward my own business. I panicked and told him, "I can't talk about this right now" and I rolled over and put a pillow over my head. 

I realized, my husband doesn't realize how deeply I am trying to push into what's blocking me from success. Without being able to put words to it, I couldn't even express how intentionally I am seeking the direction I need to take. 

So, husband, I am sorry I panicked. I am pressing into the places to plant knowing that He has always blessed us even (& especially in) the seasons of burden. 

Jesus, I surrender my anxiety right now and each time it bubbles to the surface remembering that I am Yours and You have plans to prosper & not to harm me. Thank you for your grace and strength as I will eternally need them.

Monday, January 5, 2015


It's 2015. The hype that comes with the conclusion of one year and the start of another didn't have it's usual zest for me this year. The Christmas season left me worn down & hyper sensitive to noise (not exactly ideal with two babes 6 & 3). While so many blessings encompassed the ending of 2014, I couldn't shake the physical & mental fatigue that had taken over me.

For the past several years I have shied away from lengthy resolutions & instead focused on a word like renew, intentional, or this year's: RESTORATION

I long deeply to restore.

Spiritually, I crave restoration in my connection with Jesus.
Physically, I want desperately to restore my body to a healthy state.
Emotionally, I will always need to restore my heart when I discover new areas that call me to grow. 
Mentally, I need to restore my self image. 

So I came upon a binder I had misplaced and left untouched. It was filled with "powersheets" and the aim of "goal setting." Lara Casey poured time, effort, and intention into a tool that I could only DREAM of creating one day. Six months of homework for the soul covering action plans, dreams, & self focus. 

I opened it and stared. For the first time, filling out forms felt....daunting. Because, truthfully, I don't have a lot of the answers. As someone who spends an enormous amount of time in my own head, I felt alarmingly stunted. 

I feel a lot of doubt lately. A lot of fear that I don't see NEW on the horizon, timidity that I may be being asked to stay in one place for awhile, frustration that I'm becoming accustomed to things in a physical place I need to stay new longer. But I'm trying, and this is the meek start to a lot of immensely dream-freezing thoughts I'm sifting through.... 

It's shockingly vulnerable to let myself write all of that down; to unlock that which I know is there but pretend is not. Seeing it, facing it, means I'm calling myself out. Letting the ink drip out of my fingertips means it exists. 

I have no answers. I have only the knowledge that I am wading in the deep end wondering when my feet will touch bottom. I need to give myself permission to feel this, put my hands into it, and see what the wheel and I spin into art together. I want to stand and walk out the door, let the clay slop down and unform but I will try to be here, deep into "this,  knowing I'm not a potter but a puddle of confusion. I will SEEK restoration so I can love who He already loves so dearly, then I will be set free!