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Kaylee Page

Do you wanna know what PMS is? I asked Bell.

I’d been crazy most of the 10 minutes of trying to do bedtime routine type stuff and I didn’t want her little heart thinking my crazy had anything to do with her completely normal five year old behavior. I’m not sure when the best time to talk about PMS is with your child. Maybe it coincides with the birds and the bees talk. Maybe it's best left never discussed. I don't know. You do you.  I'm still trying to figure it all out over here.

It’s like this, I continued, Once a month my body gets ready to have a baby.

Then my body asks, “ Is there a baby?”

And when my body says “NO, no baby!” then my body goes crazy. Like this.

[And I screamed out this weird sort of vibrating noise that even a dog resting on the floor would sit up, turns its ear and cringe at as I shook my body like I was demon possessed.]

And you know what? Someday you’re gonna have a kid. And each month YOUR body is going to get ready to have a baby. And then YOUR body is gonna ask “hey, do I have a baby?” And when your body says no, YOUR body is gonna…

[I paused and pointed at Bell with my index finger as if to cue her in as I watched her mimic back the crazy yell; her body in full vibrato.]

We giggled hard.

And only a couple books later we were fast asleep. The crazy momentarily subsiding. 

But then we woke up.

And I was still PMS.

I thought it’d be super awesome to make Bella a healthy breakfast and wake her up by serving it to her in bed.  Mostly, I was thinking how awesome it would be to have her eat a healthy meal while also keeping an eye on her while ALSO having breakfast in her before leaving the house – unlike our usual mornings, where we’re both juggling yogurt and granola bars and bags of cold peas and glasses of milk as we run from the garage door to the car door. I hold the yogurt and peas while she buckles in using one hand because the other hand has the granola bar and the milk. Well actually, the milk we forgot inside so then I run back in to grab said milk only to realize she already drank it and I already put it in the dishwasher. So then I run back out and throw the yogurt and peas back at her quarter back positioned hands. ... I’m not all too entirely sure this is exactly how it all plays out but my brain is usually misfiring in e'ry direction and so it FEELS like this is how it plays out and Doc says my feelings mean SOMEthing in the grand scheme of things so I’m rolling with this depiction as… TRUTH.

I stumbled my way droopily down the stairs and began to scramble the eggs just the way she likes them (it’s a complicated process in the Page house. Eggs, in general, are just hard.  Too many options and too many ways to leave them plastered up against the walls of the frying pan ). Especially the sunny side up eggs. THOSE ones are real complicated. Personally, I pick scrambled because that’s what they all end up as in the end for me anyways. Ask me to flip you an omlette and I will hand you a scrambled egg. Ask me to fry an egg and it will arrive full on hot mess.)

I plopped the eggs on her plate (do eggs plop? They sort of just wiggled and wobbled their way off the pan onto her plate). I then proceeded to pull the metaly wrapper thing off the store-bought applesauce and along with the sippy cup of milk - because at five years old Bella picked out a sippy cup at the store that she had to have and when you’re going through hard things in life and your kid asks for a sippy cup and it seems like it might, just might, make her happy and maybe quiet for like the portion of the part of the grocery store where you stand in long lines and take deep breathes and pretend like you’re a calm rationale person you buy a five year old a sippy cup.

With arms full, I made my way up the stairs. I even managed to make my way upstairs beside her with no spilling.

I felt fancy. 

And like a mom who was on it.

There I was doing the good-mommery thing.

I was so basque-ing in all my mom-goodnessy glory that I almost forgot about the PMS-ery that was ever-haunting me.

I was quickly reminded of it though. When came the tough part of mommy-ing. That is, a five year old eating.

It is by far, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

And I can do hard things.

Bella, eat your eggs. I’d pick up a pillow and throw it on the bed. She was still in it so you can't make it but you can feel like your a mom who makes the bed if you throw a pillow on it. 

Bella, eat your eggs. I’d peak from around the bathroom door as I attemped to apply some once of make up but also while "EGGING."

Bella, eat your eggs, I’d run to throw my top (that I neglected to wash from the previous week and assumed a good spray of perfume would cover the one armpit that smelled. Just one. Not both. I pondered for a second about why only one but there was no time. There was hair left to dry. Make-up left to put on, underwear to be found (FOR MYSELF!) in a pile of clean clothes yet to be folder and… THERE WERE EGGS! - so I tossed the top in the dryer to "fluff" or something. It looked like it needed a little bit of help and I don't iron so dryer stand my only option for decency when entering the big scary out there world. 

Thing is, most mornings I can do ten “Bella, eat your eggs!”

But not when I’m PMS.

I barely made it up to her bed with the eggs without tears streaming down my face. Let alone, holding it together while parenting said eating of the eggs.

Somewhere in the middle of the seventy-fifth “eat your eggs” I lost it. And it was a super not awesome moment in my life as Bella proclaimed to me: YOU’RE NOT MAKING MY BODY FEEL LOVED!

I paused, completely taken aback, and for a slight second I thought Brene Brown would be so proud. Look at my honest, vulnerable courageous little girl.

Actually, I didn’t think those exact words.

But... I knew I was on sacred ground.

So I knelt down. And I hugged my daughter and I told her I was wrong, that no matter how PMS I am, she doesn’t deserve momma to act like that.

I thought about throwing in some sort of parenting moment about “but you really need to eat your eggs.”

But not this morning. This morning was about honor.

Honoring my daughter’s voice.  A voice so honest and true and pure. A voice so courageous and willing to stand up for herself. A voice unafraid of the powers at be, but more concerned about fighting for what is good and right and true.

Honoring my daughter’s heart. A heart so innocent and loving and good. A heart that needs to witness a wrong being owned and a right being made.

This morning wasn’t about getting it perfect.

This morning was about letting a little girl's voice be heard and showing a little girls' heart that it is safe. 

May she always speak her mind, voice her words and live her truth. 

And may I honor it each step of the way.

Pieces.

Kaylee Page

Kaylee Hendrickson, clothes are NOT that important! I remember hearing after I threw my best theatrical performance of my life when mom wouldn’t let me go home and change before heading to afternoon kindergarten. I was infuriated as I had two boys (yes, that is correct, two!) I planned to impress during Farmer In the Dell.

Mom and I had gone to her morning Bible study followed by lunch at McDonalds. I hated mcnuggets and fries so I always ordered a side salad and mom would order the “chef” and give me some of the protein. It was always my favorite day of the week.

My outfit was fine. But that was it - not anything impressive and I wanted TO IMPRESS. So when mom wouldn’t take me home to change I fell so deeply apart that she had no other choice but to take me home and put me down for a nap until “dad could get home and help her parent this one out.”

When dad got home he asked me if I had anything I wanted to tell him about my day.

I said no.

TO THIS DAY, I will argue I didn’t lie because I, indeed, had nothing I wanted to tell him. 

But my parents were both concerned with my preoccupation with clothes and the inability I had to be forthright and honest. So they packed up my clothes. 

I remember dad being on his knees by my dresser packing up each piece of clothing while I stood by his side sobbing. Each item was placed in a brown paper bag and I was told they were going to Goodwill. I had one outfit I got to wear for an entire week (plus a daily change of underwear).

...

RECENTLY, I’ve noticed Bell is really into two things:

1.    Boys.

2.    And how she looks.

At first I thought: how cute! She’s five going on thirteen. But then I realized it was something deeper: a symptom of what was going on around her. Messages surround her that beauty is one defined image and that happily ever after isn’t found within but the moment one secures a mate.

She is super focused on two things because society tells her that’s all that is out there.

Two things. That’s it? I watch her look at herself in the mirror studying each inch of her face, already begging the question: am I enough?

And when we get together with friends, I watch her follow whatever boy she can, unaware of any-one-or-any-thing else.

Standing back, observing my daughter, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

Growing up, I held this belief that, as a Christian, it was my job NOT to be attractive. A Christian woman only cares about adorning herself with compassion and love. And you do NOT catch a man’s eye, because then you’re immediately a whore.

I thought that to get it right was to hide those pieces that I didn’t quite fully understand, and as I watched my daughter come up against the same shadowy world, I felt tempted to tell her the same lies.

But I couldn't escape the conviction that she'd then grow with the same shame and I’d, in turn, bear false witness to the God of her heart.  Because, I believe that dressing for yourself can be an incredibly creative and fun way to express your inner beauty and I believe we were designed for companionship so I don’t think you’re a silly-stereotypical-girl-with-daddy-issues for desiring it.

Bella does not have to master or hide any piece of herself so as to THEN be acceptable before her God. She has a God that made her wonderful and who finds great delight in her. How dare I shame that which I don’t yet fully know and understand myself.

I started to think that maybe it wasn’t about hiding or abandoning pieces of ourselves; rather, maybe it was about re-shaping and re-seeing them – and to spend time discovering all the other pieces we’ve ignored or not yet explored.

I began to wonder how I could help Bell find those parts of herself she hasn’t yet met – how could I help her water and nourish her soul?

...

Hey Bella, how does he make you feel? I asked Bell as I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and brought the car to a stop.

Happy! She exclaimed as we stepped out of the car and began walking.

What else? I inquired.

LOVED, she proclaimed as her feet scurried alongside me.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I was standing on holy ground as my heart melted. And with a sigh, the word love echoed in my heart as my soul honored this truth: Of course it’s love. She’s experiencing a form of love. How beautiful!

We quickly maneuvered the grocery aisles for two limes and a small container of sour cream and hopped back into the car.

Bell, I want you to list five things that make you happy! (Now understanding boys make her feel happy I wanted to try and help her find her own happy because finding happy in others is easy; finding happy in ourselves can be a bit tricky)

She quickly listed a boy’s name.

NO! I announced as I hung my head in defeat. But then quickly realized that I was doing it again. I was shaming pieces that were hard instead of re-defining and cultivating.

WAIT! I said, you can have one of the five be a boy but the others have to be things un-related to a boy. It was no longer about ignoring the boy but finding MORE.

With my hand in the air, in preparation to finger-count, we began to list things that make Bella happy: like drawing and swimming and dancing.

Bella is a beautiful soul made up of a million different pieces. My job isn’t to shame the pieces out of her that are hard or difficult or maybe not perfectly being used. MY job, the honor I get in this life, is to go on a scavenger hunt with my daughter and together, hand in hand, we get to find all the hidden gems, water the seeds planted deep within by her creator and tend to the beautiful blooming beauty within.

Thing is, I've uncovered another truth as I've navigated my daughter's heart: it is that in my daughter I’m seeing all the pieces I have neglected, shamed, hidden and resented.

Our children are our blood, our DNA, our legacy and…our mirror. Pieces of us are IN THEM and it is in my daughter’s story and the way she sees the world that I see myself a bit more fully and clearly. I only continue on a journey of my own.

To boys.

To beauty.

To nourishing each piece.

Grace + Peace.

Kaylee Page

Do you have 10 minutes today?  I texted Doc.

About once a day I have mental break downs. Like that one time last week when I paddled with sis and I realized I had reached a state of complete tranquility. I paused, looked out at the vast blue waters inhaling the deepest breathe I could take and no sooner had I realized my state of zen did I also realize I was REALLY FAR out from shore. Panicked, I began to try and remember how I got that far out. Anxiety ensued and I was quickly un-zenned.

Sis, I better never get lost out at sea, I shouted across the waves rolling between us, within four hours I’m pretty sure I’d be eating my arms from insanity. Y’all would be eating off me for DAAAYZ.

So it’s not all too un-common for me to hit a daily mental spiral downward. I can usually deep breathe, walk, listen to a song or call one of my dear friends in hysteria so they can remind me the sky IS NOT FALLING on my head and I will be okay.

But yesterday I couldn’t calm myself down.

In these moments I call Doc.

He’s my counselor, my stand-in-grandpa, my mentor and confidant. He’s seventy plus years in age and generations in wisdom. His steel blue eyes welcome me always and he often calls me “his girl” as he gives me a pat of encouragement on the back as I exit his office. On days when I can’t get to him in person we FaceTime. I sit on the floor of a little tiny phone booth at work pouring out my confusions and confessions and he responds with grace and guidance.
I’ve been trying HARD to walk my days on my own – that is, ever since that time Doc and I realized my insurance had changed and I owed $1,200 dollars in mental health bills. (Don’t judge a person by their accumulating shrink tab!)

And for the record, I made it two weeks. All on my own. No Doc.

But yesterday, I wanted Doc’s voice. So I reached out. #putitonmytab

Hi Kaylee, his voice came across text, I am in Vancouver… maybe texting would work.

So I spewed it out. All of it. I wrote ridiculous and insane stuff to Doc yesterday. I was a rambling buffoon. Things like if the world has evil in it and we can’t control it, then maybe I was gonna put my tough-guns on and not care either. I was going to become a meany. If I couldn’t beat ‘em, I was going to join ‘em or become ‘em. I was going to quit love. I thought about quitting God (‘cept I once read author, Donald Miller, talk about that time he told God he didn’t believe in him – only to realize he was talking to someone he didn’t believe in and well, that seemed a little bit absurd.)

Here’s what Doc graciously wrote back to my rant:

Is it possible that there is an underlying fear (terror) that you are searching for answers to explain or make go away so you do not have to feel it or face it? Facing it ends up being the only alternative that works. I know how to help you do that. I hear this connection of you to the world, God, universe, that contains a mix of good and bad, power and powerlessness, that is compelling and confusing for you.

What could I possibly be terrified of, I thought. Not even death scares me much. I mean, who knows how I’ll feel once it stares me in the face but for the current time being, I’ve accepted the reality that the mortality rate for every one is one hundred percent and that I will inevitably go back to a pile of dirt. And this year has brought upon the most terrible of nightmares to walk through and in all that I’ve been pretty sure God was STILL with me – so what? what was I terrified of?

Nothing came to mind.

BUT THEN I woke in the middle of the night and heard: How about loving yourself? Are you terrified of loving yourself?

My throat tightened. My body froze – THAT WAS IT - I was embarrassed at how cliché my fear was. The very phrase stamped and framed on every counselor’s office wall, I'm sure of it. I was angry I had such an un-exciting, non-exhilarating fear.

It was too easy... until I though: Dammit, God. Of course I’m scared of loving myself. Because sometimes I’m super awesome to love and sometimes I’m terrible and moody and capable of weird stuff. And yes, OF COURSE I want a guy to love me. Then I don’t have to love myself. Do you know how EXHAAAAUSTING it is to love myself? I don’t think I have the energy for it. I’m sooooo unpredictable and most certainly unreliable. What if I get tired? What If I don’t feel like loving myself? But then I have to anyways? What if I feel depressed or lonely or angry – I have to love myself in that too? No-No. That’s too hard. Too tricky. In fact, I’m angry you want me to take on such an impossible task.

Kaylee, I felt God whisper, your home had ups and downs. Your dad wasn’t perfect. Your mom wasn’t perfect. You’re not perfect. God continued…. Remember the ups and downs you felt, Kaylee? And how unsteady you can feel even now?

Then all of a sudden I heard so loud and clear: That’s! Not! Love! I’M LOVE.

And it hit me. I hadn’t known love. Not fully. 

Love is steadfast. An underlying current that carries me.

We are thrust into the world with two realities, and the two have been at war at me since a child:

WE ARE BORN OF THE DIVINE: the very breathe of life fills our lungs and makes our hearts beat.

WE ARE BORN HUMAN: beautiful busted

We are a walking paradox.

And I’d fly from guardrail to guardrail trying to figure out if humans were good or bad - if I, myself, was good or bad. That would answer if the world was good… or bad. Better yet, deep down that would answer if God was good or bad. 

What I was really screaming from the depths of my being was: AM I SAFE OR AM I NOT?

We each are a vessel of love, created in the image of the divine, we are also human. It was the good and bad Doc was talking about. I was relying on humans to tell me who God was. Then God showed up and revealed himself to me.

I HAVE BEEN BEGGING God to remind me who I am the past two weeks. Not knowing the answer laid root in my deepest fear.

So who am I? The simplest answer my parents told me since the day I was born: A child of the divine, born from love itself. 

“We are all designed for goodness. We are perfectly loved with a love that requires nothing of us, so we can stop trying to be good and live in the goodness that is our essence.” (says the beautiful soul, Desmond Tutu)

I don’t have to work to love myself because love was, is and always will continue to be. It just is.  I was thinking I HAD to do the work of loving myself; never realizingI just had to hop on board and enjoy the ride.

I was terrified that the desire to love myself couldn’t be matched with my ability to, that I would always fall short. But the thing is, love has been trying to teach that love always was and is and is going to be. I was looking at it all wrong in the first place; thus never finding the answer. Some sort of allegory of the cave or something, I’m sure.

The lie I believed was: it was up to me.

The truth is, “love begets love.” I’m a child of the divine, caught up in the most beautiful of flow. My existence is the essence. I don’t need to get it, find it, or attain it.

And just like that, for the first time in thirty-two years, I found rest.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the divine showed up last night and told me so.

“Perfect love drives out all fear.”

Kaylee Page

I thought that if I left an unhealthy relationship, I’d find perfect. People say that to leave a marriage you have to do the hard work for healing and working on yourself so that your next (possible) relationship can stand a chance.  And so, I assumed that if I did enough hard work, I’d figure out and fix myself.

Counseling was helping (until Doc and I realized my insurance plan had changed due to the divorce and I now had a $1200 outstanding get-myself-ready-for-another-marriage bill.)

But I tried. HARD. There were hard conversations and hard moments of realizing my own depths of brokenness and areas in deep need of growth.

But it was actually after the divorce was finalized and I was well on my way to happy, healthy and whole that I had the realization that I was inherently flawed. That to be human, IS TO BE A TINY BIT BEAUTIFULLY BUSTED AND CHARMINGLY QUIRKY.

Perfect was impossible. I wasn’t going to arrive there…..EVER.

This realization almost sent me over the edge. Overcome with my own imperfections one night, I decided to read my Bible (I do this like three times a year). I never know where to start (IT’S SUCH A BIG FREAKING BOOK!) and so I typically go to Proverbs and then read the chapter that correlates to the date.

I usually like Proverbs. Simple, easy instructions on how to do a pretty okay job at life. In fact, I once heard it described as such that there are two kinds of wisdom:

PROVERBS is the father-uncle wisdom: it's better to give than receive, change your oil, don't skank yourself out. And this is good and right and true and I will try real hard to do these things and I will teach bell to give, to change her oil and to honor her body. But as my mom told me growing up, she and dad set the bar high knowing we'd fall short; no biggie. Just try n' do my best!

But then, ECCLESIASTES is the everything is meaningless wisdom: you can do all the right things and still lose, sometimes it doesn't all pay off in the end, and we all go back to dirt anyways.

So, I tried to read Proverbs and wanted to barf. It just wasn't working. So I quick-flipped to Ecclesiastes and read lots about the hard and confusing parts of being human. But over and over again it said: to eat, drink and be merry.

I realized I didn't know what this means for my life. I don't think it means I become a drunk, or gain 100 pounds, or be merry in a way that forgets those in need. So what?

...

"Kaylee, God wants you to be happy!" Grandma said over the phone this year.

I wasn't sure then what my happy was. I'm still not, but I think it has something to do with "eat, drink and be merry."

So I decided to give myself three months. To eat. To drink. To be merry.

To find my happy.

Deep down I know it'll probably mean I find magic in the things already right in front of me. But the practice of it might just turn into a habit of it.

And since I don’t have it in my budget to gain 100 pounds and buy a new wardrobe accordingly, and I don’t want to be a thirty two year old mom out at the bars until 2:00AM, and I don’t even know the definition of merry, I decided to write my own definitions for each:

EAT

The stress of the divorce sent me into a whirlwind. We each broke differently and my broken showed up in obsessive compulsive walking. At one point I told sis: YOU CAN’T LET ME BECOME FORREST GUMP!

Dinner time would roll around when I was with family and I used it as an excuse to bow out and let the pain in my heart pound itself through the soles of my shoes.

Instead of scheduling meals, I’d schedule walks.

Instead of seeking community, I sought the open air.

I was so broken and exhausted.

With no fight left, even my bones ached this past year, the only way I could manage it all was to run. (But since my knees are a bust, I walked.)

And so, now that my bones aren’t so achy and my breaths not so shallow, I think maybe it’s time for me to EAT. I’m going to intentionally sit down and stay down for meals. I’m not going to run. I’m not going to escape. I’m going to live community and experience the art of breaking bread together.

DRINK

I don’t drink. Better said: I can’t drink.

I have a huge sensitivity to alcohol and even one FULL drink will have me rubbing my nose like a little rabbit; each time, with slaps to my cheeks, I'm completely baffled as to why I can’t feel my face.

I’ve learned to do half a drink and be able to sober up enough to drive if given a full six hours and thirty-seven minutes. Which means: I stick to my Diet Coke.

But maybe I can drink more coffees. Maybe I can schedule some happy hours where we drink tea or fancy infused water (because I always feel like I’ve gone up two social classes when I drink infused water!)  But maaaaybe, more than anything, instead of talking ALL about me and my hard, I can get to know others a bit more – their hard, their good. I mean, just maybe I can listen a little bit better. Maybe drinking is listening this summer.

& BE MERRY

The glory of God is man fully alive, is one of my favorite quotes. And while I don’t yet know a lot about myself, I do know a few things: I love laughing. And dancing. And I love kids. I love swimsuits and sunshine. I love helping other people in whatever ways they may need. I love giggling and finding things to giggle at. And I really love when I can find a way to bring people together.

So what if I brought THAT to the table this summer. What if merry was about showing up to each moment - each conversation - and making the most of it. Lots of times it’ll just be with family and friends but then maybe merry might be found in giving my merry – all my bestest – to the community at large.

So here’s to Summer 2016. I’m pretty excited about it all.

But here’s the thing, what if we each found our eat, drink and be merry. What if we found a little bit more of life over the next 120 days. Yes? Let’s do this, no?

(Oh, and also, check out the link below. Because it’s the best I’ve seen on explaining the crazy ride.)

Kaylee Page

It took thirteen months. 

Thirteen months and $65,000 on my side alone.

I’m terrible at math but I think that means it took $120,000 to end an incredibly unhealthy relationship between two people.

The entire divorce is not my story to tell because part of my divorce and its story belongs to my ex. But for the both of us, it wasn’t an easy call on parenting time. I don’t like the word custody and I told myself we weren’t in a custody battle. I still stand by that. We were in a really hard spot; all trying to figure out collectively what was best for our daughter. And it required the court’s help.

We ended up in trial. Not because either of us are terrible people or terrible parents, but because life is hard.

...

Wrestling with the decision of if I was going to stay in my marriage or not my dad took me to lunch. At the end of the lunch, standing in the lobby of a downtown building where I worked, my dad reached to hug me:

Kaylee, God loves you either way. I love you either way, he said as my body fell into his embrace. In the very quiet of my heart I heard the words that’s mercy and grace whispered.

...

As the trial approached, shame kept creeping up. I was so aware of how I had personally failed within the marriage, and yet it didn’t change the honesty in my decision to end the marriage.

God!, my heart longingly asked, I know you gave me free will. I know your mercy says you’re with me. But I wasn’t perfect in the marriage. And so I feel bad I’m leaving it. But I don’t want to go back to it.  It all feels gross and horrible and terribly confusing. So I guess what I’m trying to say is I get that in my free will I chose your mercy, but I guess my question is “Did I deserve it?” 

And without skipping a beat I heard, That’s grace! I swear God whispered it with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eye. Then he added, Kaylee, my grace is sufficient for all the broken in the past and my grace will be sufficient moving forward. It oozes in and makes that which is broken, whole.

...

The week of trial was brutal. They say family law is a blood bath. They are correct.

Years ago I learned the really hard way that I have a huge sensitivity to alcohol. It involved a million dollar wedding and an ambulance ride in a really fancy dress.

Is it true you were hospitalized for alcohol? the lawyer asked while I sat on the stand.

What ran through my head: well, that’s tricky. Technically I was not hospitalized. I was technically laid on a stretcher in the hallway in the drunk row with all the homeless people while I sobered up. But I drink, on average, five times a year and that involves a half a glass of whatever I am drinking so no, my drinking does not affect my ability to parent a child.

What I actually answered: Yes.

I can’t remember if I added any sort of clarification. It all felt like a death-trap. Anything I said could absolutely be used in the court of law. And I was tempted - to pull out my own sword. But I remembered Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and he said, Peter, put down your sword.

And I heard the same spoken to me: Kaylee, PUT. DOWN. YOUR. SWORD. We don’t do it like that.

So I decided I would only bring into trial that which was solely applicable to parenting, nothing about the breakdown of the marriage unless asked.

...

I sat in a little corner booth of a café downtown Grand Rapids. My friend and I were pouring over the outline of a book proposal I’ve been working on.

I quick checked email on my phone and saw that the judge’s ruling had come through. I couldn’t read it so I had him, and as my friend scrolled through he muttered out phrases of the ruling here and there. I didn’t catch much. It was all sort of a blur as my world spun, but I remember he said something about fifty-fifty and my gut sunk.

We quickly parted ways. I was close to running to the bathroom to throw up but instead pitter-pattered my way to my office and poured over the judge’s ruling.

None of it made sense.

None of it added up.

I had walked the entire year and the entire week of trial just as I had felt convicted.

And in the end: I lost.

I’d find out days later that the ruling completely left my lawyers at a loss as they noted this was a perfect case for appeals court (another $20-$30K I didn’’t have).

It didn’t make sense. My whole body sat paralyzed in disbelief as I stared at my screen.

And then I heard Him, the God that had guided me through the hardest year of my life, and he whispered: Kaylee, all year I have taught you about mercy and grace. DO. YOU. STILL. BELIEVE? When nothing adds up, when it doesn’t make sense. This is it. This is scandalous grace.

...

The following week I sat eating my grilled chicken wrap and drinking a diet soda with my dad. Through tears in his eyes I saw how broken my dad was at the ruling.  I realized how stunned everyone was. I knew we were all standing at the feet of God asking: Why?

So I looked my dad in the face and I said: Dad, it’s grace. I don’t get it. I don’t’ understand it either. But who am I to know how all this is working for good? I fought the good fight. I did what I was called to do with integrity and character to the best of my ability the entire year and week of trial. I did my part. Now we let grace do its work.

...

I’m not saying I get it. I’m not saying I understand it. I’m not saying I agree with it. I’m just saying grace is sufficient. Grace will ooze in and through all of our stories. Each of our broken parts. Truth is, my family shattered into a million pieces this year. We each felt the impact differently and it affected us in different ways. How we get glued back together, how healing happens, how redemption proves itself out, how God reconciles a marriage to himself that couldn’t be reconciled on earth —  I don’t know.

I do know that a year of trial and suffering revealed more to me about God than anything else I’ve endured. This year broke me to make me whole. And I suppose that’s the very nature of grace itself:

Grace breaks, oozes, seeps, flows, shatters, draws together, fills in, pulls inwards and completely and fully fills in the essence of our humanity. We never find perfect – grace just says it’s all sufficient and good enough – beautifully broken, but wholly whole.

I realize now it was like God knew the two words I’d need to get through my own valley of death. They were indeed mercy and grace. He equipped me, at the very beginning of my own battle, with the perfect weapons. Not of power and might but of mercy and grace.

Grace + Peace.

EITHER WAY.

Kaylee Page

Bella needs a healthy mom, people told me as I wrestled and struggled my way through the decision of what to do with my failing marriage.

No! She needs TWO married parents, I’d say in my head as I slammed my foot down in agreement to reinforce my belief.

After extensive counseling and extensive time in the quiet I decided to file for divorce. I exercised my free will and made a choice for my marriage.

Thing is, there was a little girl watching with eyes wide open and her little heart was breaking.

When I see Aunt Laura and Uncle Eric it makes me think of you and daddy? I don’t like divorce. Bella sobbed out to me with tears streaming down her face one night recently while we laid in bed.  

I know. Me too, sweetie. I said. It’s okay to be sad.

Being the one to choose divorce is a heavy cross to carry.

Did I get it wrong?

Should I have had more courage, more faith, more hope?

I don’t know. Life is tricky like that. We can’t always know what the outcome would have been if we had made a different choice.

The thing I do know is that there is a mystery to free will in which EITHER WAY God works:

It’s like this….

Courage. Staying in a hard marriage takes great courage. Leaving a hard marriage takes great courage.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness is needed in a marriage. Forgiveness is needed in the arms of divorce. 

Faith. Believing that something greater could come of a terrible marriage is faith. Believing that something greater could come by ending a marriage is faith.

Hope. Trusting that there is something beyond what you can see in a marriage is hard.  Trusting that there is something beyond what you can see when you lose it all through divorce is hard.

Love. Choosing to be patient and kind, offering support and care and desiring the best for someone to the best of your ability all the days of your life – whether you are married or divorced – is love.

I wonder if maybe that’s a little bit of what God meant when he said in the Bible that he doesn’t like luke warm faith. He likes hot or cold. Like maybe he wanted us to know that perfect love drives out all fear of messing it all up. I think he wanted us to know that we can go this way or that way and he’s there -- and that when he said he’d be with us always he didn’t mean “only if” but rather, “either way.”

At the top of my childhood stairs hung these words: children learn what they live.

Mom had cross-stitched those little words and placed them perfectly as such that every time I ran up and down the stairs my eyes would catch glimpse of the beautiful little truth.

Mom also always said this: with freedom comes responsibility.

Free will isn’t about making a perfect choice because perfect is impossible with all the crazy moving pieces of relationships. Free will is about making a decision that you own, are responsible for and that comes from a place committed to bringing beauty into the world. My free will is to be used to love myself BUT ALSO, to love everybody.

When I chose divorce I immediately declared this quote as the guiding words for my divorce: I can do no great things only small things with great love.

I made a choice, and in that choice I would be responsible to myself, my daughter and the man I vowed to love all the days of my life through better or worse. (I don’t have to be married to him to love him -- and honestly, I love him a little bit better not being married to him!)

My little girl’s heart breaks. And I hate it. But if ever I wonder if I made a wrong choice, may I always remember a God who works for our good. I’ll never be able to make a perfect world for my daughter.

I can only show her the exercising of my free will.

I can only show her what it looks like to be responsible for the person she is because she watched me do it first.

And I can only show her a deep trust in a God who moves for our good amidst our best shot at every fork in the road.

Bella is learning something with each step I take. Her big wide eyes on me.

My hope and prayer is that she learns to be free every day of her life - to live what she has learned.

To the beauty and mystery of free will.

To either way.

Grace + Peace.

WE DIVORCED TODAY. THEN BROKE BREAD.

Kaylee Page

Today I sat in a small little side room in the courthouse while three lawyers and a judge tidied up the last bit of my un-tidy broken family. I slipped out of my uncomfortable shoes and pulled my feet up on the cushion. In the quiet, I imagined my soon to be ex across the table from me. I reached across the table as if to pretend I was holding his hand and shared all the things I wished that in that time and space could be spoken and heard and known. One of them was my deep longing to break bread together again.

We’re gonna be okay, I whispered out loud, We’re gonna sit down at a table together and have a meal. Maybe not this side of glory, but we will. We’re gonna be okay.

Bella had her preschool graduation tonight.  I was petrified to walk into the room and see my ex. But I did, and he was gracious and kind and his spirit was welcoming. He sat next to my parents and we all laughed and we watched our shared bundle of joy accept her diploma and take a bow!

After cookies and punch had been consumed and ceaseless pictures taken, we strolled into the parking lot. The ever-growing tension of good-bye swelled in Bella’s heart and came out as tears through her eyes.

I don’t have further plans tonight, I muttered out with both hope of reciprocity and fear of rejection.

You can come to dinner with us if you want, my ex invited without hesitation.

And just like that we all marched our way under the overpass, across the bridge and over to Panera where we broke bread together only eight hours later from signing our divorce papers, eight hours after I proclaimed a belief in a redemptive God who would surely sit us down at a table together again wholly.

We didn’t fight. We didn’t control. We all did our best.

It wasn’t perfect but it was good.

….

My lawyers entered the room where I waited. They walked me through the last few details and then I shared how this year has been so full of death and life – so whole yet broken. It’s been dumb, sacred and weird. It’s been hard, devastating and heartbreaking. And beautiful, divine and holy.  

And Perfect.

Because this year taught me about God and love and relationships. This year woke me up. This year I began to live a life I had forgotten. THIS YEAR cost me everything. But I gained it all.

I told them how before they came in I caught a glimpse of myself in the window of the room. To think of the girl I was a year ago and the girl I was becoming - to see a girl who could laugh and dream and hope again – was a gift, it was grace alive and well - because grace seeps in our broken and makes it somehow all whole. 

Hold on. I said. Can you just do one thing with me? I asked my lawyers.

And as they nodded I hit play on my phone. [to the song linked below]

And as I signed my name in ink I wrote into existence the belief in something greater.

I set the pen down and began to weep. My faced tucked into the palms of my hands, my elbows propped on the table, tears rolled off my cheeks onto the tangible white sheets of paper that exposed the reality of relationships: That we have free will.  That life gives and takes away. That we are messy and complicated and we try. And we fail and succeed and defining success and defeat can be super tricky.

That God is full of kindness and help in our most desperate need.

And that his grace is endlessly sufficient.

Grace + Peace.

Kaylee Page

Dear Church Walls,

I quit you last spring. Partially because when I filed I felt my ex had a better relationship with you and so I wanted him to feel safe and comfortable going to a place that offered him a sense of security and support. But mostly, I needed to find God somewhere else than the familiar place I had found him for thirty two years. If I was going to fall apart I wanted to do it by myself staring God in the face in his creation. I did NOT want to do it on a wooden pew with folks staring at me or offering a two minute prayer over me (don’t get mad at me, I like prayer too, I just needed something different this time.)

After I quit, you did a pretty stellar job at loving me. You showed up at my doorstep with smoothies when I couldn’t eat. You drove me to my first court date to walk me through the motions. You drove me to the bank to set up my single-mom bank account. You called. You texted. You sent me pictures of the clouds because you knew that’s where I found God. You hugged me (the most amazing hug - the way you held me the first time you saw me after you heard about my divorce was sacred and deeply moving.) Oh church, you were beautiful. You sat with my on my couch as I wept. You drove over to help me with my daughter when I couldn’t’ stand. You drove across state just to let me ugly cry before you for an entire weekend. You took care of dandelion overgrowth in my yard. You fixed my garbage disposal. You taught me how to turn my sprinklers on. You brought chocolate chip cookies and a well-balanced meal after my first day of trial. You mailed me things: like little craft kits to do with my daughter, like gift cards for coffee I was convinced wasn’t going to be part of my budget moving forward, like a journal and fancy pens so I could write my heart out onto pages. You endlessly hosted me and my daughter - and it was during play dates and dinners that we had glimpses of the family we were craving.

Bravo church. And thank you. There has been sufficient grace and it has been through your hands and feet.

Church, you loved me well. BUT.

I’m not sure you know me very well. I’m not sure you quite yet understand divorce. I think you’re trying. And for that I thank you. But there are some things I think no one maybe has told you about divorce. They go like this:

Divorce can be chosen out of love. I stood before my Creator. I wrestled. I sobbed. I spent many lonely nights weeping, bargaining and thinking through everything.  And then I made a very conscious choice to break that which in theory was whole but in reality was so extraordinarily broken. I do believe in miracles. I believe in a God capable of anything. But I also believe in a God who gave us free will. And in my free will: I chose mercy.

I wear my broken on the outside. But we’re all pretty busted. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus drew in the sand, when folks were about to stone the woman who had messed up a little, just as a way to say “are you done yet?” I mean there’s probably a legit thing he wrote and it probably holds big deep significance. But also, what if he was just waiting for folks to slow down enough to see the absurdity of it all. You get to see my broken. It’s out there for you all to see. You can throw stones. Or maybe it might be more beautiful if we all sat down and drew pictures in the sand together instead of stoning each other. I don’t know. Tough to say.

The pew is the loneliest place for me. I grew up in the church. I dreamt of family. And for some reason when I sit in a pew half of me is missing. I may have chosen divorce but for several years of my life I was one with someone. And that oneness was torn into two. And so half of me is gone.  When I sit in a pew I feel a ghost next to me. And so I’m not yet okay. I’m not yet healed enough to sit in a pew. I hope you’ll understand. 

I’m a new kind of single. I’m not single. I mean I am. But I’m not. This new place I find myself feels nothing like when I was single before marriage. It’s very different. I had it, then I lost it. That’s a different feeling than never having had. A blind date, a new hobby and match.com feel like icky solutions to my pain. I’m still learning this whole thing called the “new normal.” Treating me like a young twenty-something who just needs to find more singles to hang out with over a box of pizza is about the farthest idea of fun in my mind. In fact, being around your families is right where my daughter and I feel most at home.

Divorce is forever. People think you just need to get through the signing of the paperwork. And I mean, some of that is legit. But divorce is a forever thing. While lots of families got up and got ready to go to a family breakfast at my daughter’s daycare, I got up alone, got ready alone and pulled up to the parking lot and extended my hands over the building praying for peace for the twenty minutes my ex and I would sit in a room together. Divorce is going to show up in my life in all sorts of ways for decades to come.

You are the hardest to let love me. Because you have answers and Bible versus. And you have a really hard time letting me just be broken. You want me fixed. You want Jesus to be my answer. You want to rush me through the hard work of pain and grief and you don’t like seeing me unhappy because somehow you forgot the Gospel wasn’t about perfect. It was just good news. Please don’t rush me. Please just sit next to me. When I have energy and can play and laugh and be happy, join me. When I can barely scrape myself off the floor and paying a water bill is too hard, help me click my way through bill payer, yes?

I’m sorry for the uncomfortable. I had a friend invite me over and she wanted to pray Satan off my marriage. And while I respected her desire to love me, the reality of my marriage was it wasn’t changing and I could only control so much. It took divorce to set me free. But my divorce doesn’t mean your marriage can’t maybe survive the exact same struggles. I don’t know. I don’t get it either. I just know God is with us through it. Can we not all have the same answers to the same problems? But can we still be friends and do life together?

The word STILL hurts. Mercy means a lot of things but one definition says “kindness and help in our most desperate need.” God gave me free will, his mercy, and sufficient grace. But I didn’t get much free will in your eyes. I heard it most through the tiny word still. You’re still welcome.  And that was the point. Still. Like “in spite of.” Like I was “more broken” than you. Like I had sinned. Like if God hates divorce then surely he hated my choice. But I don’t believe in a God who would get angry at me if I told him I really just couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t believe I have a God who would make me stay trapped. At one point I finally googled divorce and why God hated it so much and found out that some people believe God was referring to hating a certain type of divorce in which the man back in Bible times wouldn’t give the woman a signed divorce. Which means, she wasn’t free. Gawd, I hate that too. I hate when people aren’t free.

By the way, I hate divorce too. Divorce is terrible, you don’t’ have to convince me of it. I’m living it. But I also hated being a prisoner in my marriage. It’s all a little tricky and the answers can be even trickier. So whatever you do, don’t’ use the word still. Maybe say this: I love you. I support you. I am here for you and I will walk this story of redemption with you. No matter what, I love you. 

Finally - oh church walls -  I love you. You have been the foundation of my faith. You have been the rock in which my spiritual life was formed. I am forever indebted to you. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back. But don’t worry about me until then. I haven’t forgotten you. And I surely have not forgotten God. I am closer to him more now than ever. It’s just outside your walls.

Sincerely,

The Christian Girl Who Chose Divorce 

 

A New Kind of Nudist Colony

Kaylee Page

It’s hard to be around such a shell of a person, my friend shared late one evening while sitting on my couch sharing about his alcoholic mom. She has no opinions on anything. It’s like she doesn’t have a thought of her own, he added.  

...

A year ago I sat curled up on my bed, snuggled in a fuzzy blanket, with my hands curled around the flaps of my softcover book. My eyes following one of my favorite author’s stories. I arrived to a part where the author talked about how she believes when we are born a teeny tiny light of the divine is placed inside each one of us. Therefore, the same light is in each of us. Some understand this as the word nomaste – the divine light in me sees and honors the divine light in you.

I loved this so much I decided I was going to nomaste the hell out of everyone. I was going to see God FIRST. If we were all made from the same creative God, each on our own human journey, who was I to do anything but honor them. It sorta felt a little ET-go-home-ish. Like whenever I’d encounter someone I felt like my little tiny creepy finger was reaching out to find the light within them.

Thing is, I found that people hide their light. And some people are REALLY good at hiding it. But I recently sat down with a my friend, Levi, and he shared this: 

If you look at a sculpture of a bird it first started with a piece of wood. And the bird was already inside of the log, yet it was hidden. It’s not about adding but rather finding the beauty that is already waiting to be unleashed from deep inside. The process of removing excess, or carving out, is certainly a painful one, and yet without it we can't get any closer to the art that exists inside.  

Discovering the real truth in land, people, relationships, and even a meal is less about adornment, but rather allowing its pure essence to be uncovered.  

That true, raw, and unadulterated essence is the incarnation of the divine. 

And I think that’s it. I think we can’t always see the divine in each other because there are so many layers hiding it.

Adam and Eve hid first. They didn’t trust God that what they had in life was enough so they ate an apple. I wonder what would have happened IF the FIRST thing Adam and Eve did when they doubted it was all enough was go DIRECTLY to God and say, I don’t feel like I’m enough. I’m doubting you. I’m scared.

But they didn’t. Choosing the apple I think was less about being sinny but more about it being the first time they were afraid to show up to God with all of their thoughts and insecurities.

But then they had done that one thing God said not to do and they let fear grab hold of them again. They were afraid they didn’t have a merciful and compassionate God and so they hid and made the first mask in the history of mankind; it was made of leaves.

I’ve started to see everyone’s behavior as masks. Sometimes we put up masks like at a masquerade ball but other times we wear costumes so in depth we take another form on altogether. Both are made of fear: fear of being found out, fear of rejection, fear of losing connection, fear that we are unworthy. And we all have really creative ways of hiding.

We lie.

We yell.

We call each other names.

Sometimes we tell people we don’t care, when we actually really do.

We blame.

We put down.

We tell people they are doing it wrong when in actuality it may just be different.

We become addicts – to anything that makes us feel temporarily ok.

We get angry.

We manipulate and control.

Anything to shift aside that which could possible put us in a place of rejection. 

For me, I internalize it. When I feel shame I beat myself up. I pretend I’m okay but in truth, I’m sick to my stomach most days. I call this my “pretending mask” and it’s a silent mask. But it rots me from the inside-out. It was actually my friend Amanda that began to slowly help me remove my mask. This fall, every time we hung out I’d puke out my ugly. It was so much I was convinced I’d never hear from her again. I was too messy and broken. When she'd leave my house, as soon as I’d close and lock the front door, I’d carry my heavy and broken spirit upstairs and slip into bed; ashamed and embarrassed. I’d tell myself to NEVER let that happen again. NEVER let someone see me so weird. But within minutes I’d get a text from her. Things like: I love you, friend. I think you’re amazing. I love your heart. I love your search for God. I’m so thankful for you.

In my most vulnerable and insecure moments, she made no apologies for my humanness; instead she taught me to see myself how God sees me. Her unconditional love removed my mask.  

Relationships used to be really scary to me. If someone got mad I’d think it was MY job to make them un-mad. So I’d yell back (made perfect sense at the time!) Now I know I have a really simple job – to tell people I love them. If someone is yelling I don’t have to yell back. Instead, I sit back and ask myself what they are really trying to say – are they scared? are they hurt? 

I try to figure out how I might help them set down their mask. And I’ve found when the mask gets set down it’s such a sigh of relief, like “oh there you are! I’ve missed you.”  

And I’m starting to think that part of the good news is that we get to be mask-taker-offers. What if we get the joy and honor of showing people God himself. Love is patient and kind. And it doesn’t keep track of ALL those times you messed up. Love says, I see you, all of you, and I love you.

What if we could peel back the branches of shame and showed up in people’s darkest and ugliest and stared them in the face and said: Yes, I see that. You are yelling but what you are really telling me is you are scared that if I really knew you I’d reject you. That if you told me your ugly, I’d run. That’s not the case. I am here. I am not leaving. You are worthy. You are loved.

Would masks just start falling off of faces?
Would people just start removing their costumes?

Oh my God, we’d be one big nudist colony! So honest, real and exposed.

My friend’s mom is whole underneath all the masks of addiction, shame and voiceless living. It’s just that nobody taught her what it looked like or felt like to live fully her, honest and unashamed. Nobody taught her that her voice matters and that her thoughts are precious and important.

Underneath all that weak is an incredibly strong and beautiful woman.

I nomaste that. 

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

BREATH BOUNDARIES.

Kaylee Page

Let's all take a collective breath in and create space for our relationships to breathe: to heal, to process, to hurt, to just not be so stressy. Let our inhale be a beautiful boundary for our relationships and as we exhale may we enter in, re-engage into something more rooted, more beautiful and more connected. Grace + Peace. 

LOVE BOTTLES.

Kaylee Page

I folded (most) of the laundry last night.

Somehow I managed to forget to put Bell’s socks away.

Tonight I walked past them, a handful of little socks rolled into pairs and lying together in a pile. My stomach was instantly punched. It still amazes me the littlest of things that catch and trigger the grief of divorce.

The other day I was in a coffee drive thru and the fact that TWO drinks came out the coffee shop window and into the driver’s side car window broke me. TWO drinks, I thought. That means there are TWO people in that car. Two adult people drinking coffee and talking and being coupley. And there I was, just a coffee drinking party of one.

And grocery stores. There is something about a couple walking alongside each other, grabbing hamburger buns and tossing them into their cart that kills me. It makes me want to turn and talk to my imaginary partner and say oh yes, do we need one pound of ham this week or just half a pound? Jimmy’s (the kid I’ve made up to be a part of the fake family I don’t have), well Jimmy’s really been growing. Teacher thinks he’s in the middle of a growth spurt!

It sucks. Even the sight of a full cart reminds me of their full house. I look down at my few items and it’s all such a physical reminder of loss and emptiness.

Of the infertility.

Of divorce.

Of broken dreams and shattered stories.

But tonight those little itty bitty socks, bright colored and beautiful, they officially broke me.

For months after I filed when I didn’t have Bella and I’d miss her I’d try to pray for her. But I couldn’t. The pain of thinking about her missing me was enough to make me throw up. As soon as the thought of her came up, I’d quickly pray for someone else’s kids instead. I couldn’t pray for my own. Because I had failed. Because I didn’t know how to fix Bella’s broken world. Because I couldn’t cuddle her and soothe her heart’s aches and pains.

But then one day, I did it. I prayed. I faced north towards where she slept and held space for her and my ex. Extending my hands as if to bless them both, I created a special spot for both of them. I sent every good thing in me their way.

As a kid I thought prayer was just ask, and in that I would receive exactly that which was asked for. How quickly we learn in our adult life that prayer is a whole lot more complicated. The timing, The answers. (If we can call them answers)

So I’ve been struggling. Why pray?

Except it started to bring me peace. Praying for her was a way to somehow hold Bella. And then I started to wonder more about prayer. I believe the gospel is good news NOW. I really do. His grace and mercy and freedom are right now. But also, I believe in a time and place where there is no weeping and mourning. I believe in a resurrected eternity. Somewhere. Somehow.

And so recently, I was thinking: OH MY GOD. What if each prayer was collected and gifted to Bell in heaven. Like what if she got to know just how MUCH I think of her and love her. What if one of the beautiful things of prayer is that all that we hope and wish and desire will be bottled up and gifted on the other side of glory. Like bottled love. Maybe it’ll be like a champagne bottle and explode when it’s opened. That would be so very perfect!

But prayer didn’t stop there for me. The past few weeks I started to wonder about every one. How prayer might be good news for EVERYone.

We’re called to pray for those who mistreat us.  So let’s go THERE. What if prayer is a way of telling people who hurt us, or confuse us or who are reckless and selfish with our hearts, that it’s okay, I forgive you. Maybe, on the other side of glory, we’ll get a dinner together with those who have hurt us and we’ll talk about it. And what if we prayed for them now. What if we collected good thoughts and feelings toward them and then during our eternity-dinner we could pull the bottle out from under the tablecloth and surprise them. And two people would sit and share glasses of good things and it would be good. It would feel good and right and true.

And what about those things that break your heart. Trafficking, Homelessness, Hunger, Mental Illness, Eating Disorders, Self Harm.  What if we pretended to put a face to that thing and prayed for specific people we haven't yet met.  And then in Heaven we could find them.

I've decided I want a whole shelf full of love bottles to pass out. I’ll find someone in heaven and be like oh wait, YOU. I know you. I mean sort of. Don’t’ be freaked out. One sec. I’d motion with my hands for them to freeze and wait. And I’ll quick sneak into my little love bottle cellar and grab their bottle and quickly run back to them to pop the cork and let it all fly out at ‘em. They’ll be so happy. And I’ll be so happy. And there will be laughing and dancing. Maybe a couple of my bottles can have confetti. I'd like that.

Prayer is so much. It has been so much in my life. An inner world to explore and question and cry out and fight and sing praise. It’s been a place to hope and ask and know. But today, I see it as a gift. Prayer has become a certain kind of hope that emerged from deep within my soul. That when I feel helpless and hopeless, God has given me a way to love Bella.  And prayer has become a future gift, for Bella. A gift for all my relationships. And for all those suffering. 

Any of you reading this tonight. I’ve got a bottle with your name on it. And I can’t wait to find you on the other side of glory to pop it in your face!

JOY BUBBLES AND DELIGHT FOR ALL.

Kaylee Page

Kaylee, you need to do this, my friend said, Look in the mirror and say “I love Kaylee.”

He said it with gusto and confidence. Then he said it again, this time he said it full of grace and compassion, almost as a whisper, I love Kaylee.

You always talk about mercy and grace, he added, then paused, If you want to know what that is, that’s it! I love Kaylee.

I was convinced I love Kaylee had NOTHING to do with mercy and grace and so I set out to prove him wrong. That, and divorce provided me with so much extra time with nothing to do it just sort of happened out of complete boredom one day. I found myself in front of a mirror, hands on my hips yelling: I love Kaylee!

It sounded weird.

I tried it again, only louder.

Still weird.

I tried it sweeter and softer with like a sassy tone to it.

Suuuuper weird. (think that ONE time you tried making out with yourself in the mirror prior to your first real kiss just to see if you were any good at it.)

I don’t know why but I kept at it each day. It served as some sort of comic relief in the midst of the dark and hard of divorce.  Sometimes I’d even catch a glimpse of my reflection in the bathroom doorway as I passed by. I’d quickly pause, throw my hands on my hips, strike a pose and proclaim it again, and again, and again. And somewhere along the lines the word ALL was added. I love Kaylee. ALL of me.

Slowly it started to be a part of me that I carried with me throughout my day.

When I’d get scared, I’d say, I love Kaylee. I love the Kaylee that doesn’t see hope for her future right now.

If I didn’t do a very good job at parenting Bella I’d say, I love Kaylee. I love the Kaylee that didn’t know what she was doing right there. She’s going to try it again next time and maybe do it better. But I love Kaylee right now. ALL of her.

The shakey, scared and ugly parts of me always existed. I just had gotten really good at hiding them. Adam and Eve hid too. It was their shame, the parts of themselves they didn’t love that they hid behind leaves. But God sought them out saying, I see you. You know this, right? The leaves were only a mask. They didn’t stop being themselves because of the leaves.

Hiding doesn’t change reality.

Light does.

The parts of us that seem so scary and ugly can’t even begin to change until we first let the light touch them.  By giving myself mercy (space to be human) and grace (permission to accept myself in the “as is today” moments) I started to feel authentic, like I was coming out of hiding.

I love Kaylee felt so good, I started telling my friends the same thing: I love you. All of you. I even got little tiny pins of an “olive” because I remember how back in middle school you could mouth the words “olive you” and it would look like you said “I love you.” The brilliant part was the pin, in its own way, said both: Olive (I love) you. Olive (all of) you.

So I ordered a lot. I can’t tell you how excited I was to click confirmation on that Amazon order, equipping myself with little love tokens, certain I was going to change the world one olive pin at a time. 

These tiny little words began to completely transform all the relationships around me.

I felt like I was coming out of hiding.

I felt like my friends were coming out of hiding.

Friends could tell me their addiction, their struggle or their deepest fear and I didn’t have to change them. I didn’t have to fix it. I just had to say, I see you. I see you and I love you. All of you. Always.

God set forth the world into motion. He’s always moving things forward. He’s always working for our good. That we can trust in. But it’s really hard to let anything change if we have to keep it buried and stuffed in the depths of our souls. It’s mercy and grace that invites us to purge it all out so we can take a good hard look at it and decide what next.

Mercy and Grace. That’s it.

That’s exactly what it is.

Kaylee Page

I dunno. It’s all pretty good. Sort of. They say it’s the new normal but nothing about it feels normal. I recently texted to a friend.

What would normal look like to you? Married again? She responded back.

...

The first weekend after I filed for divorce that I didn’t have Bella was the worst weekend of my life. I laid on my living room floor aside the fireplace and time passed in slow-motion as I stared at the wall. I made one attempt at life and it was my laundry. I pulled out a load, folded it, put it away and when I arrived back aside the fireplace I checked the clock. Seven minutes had passed. Seven. That was it. I laid there both as a mother who had in some way lost a child and in some way a widow who had lost a spouse. Divorce is a death. I had lost both child and husband, and in that, I had lost my family. There was an undeniable void.

I figured I’d do better the following weekend when I had her. That proved just as hard. With Bella for the weekend, I felt like a babysitter. It felt like a job, a chore (with no pay). It was just me to decide if we should go to Panera or not. It was just me watching her do funny things with no one to glance over at and make eye contact so as to together acknowledge the beauty and hilarity of a four year old. I was so broken with no energy or life to offer. I dreaded having to show up and take care of someone when I couldn’t even take care of myself.

I made myself a rule that I couldn’t go to bed before 9:00PM those first few months. 

8:57, 8:58, 8:59… I’d watch the clock tock, then hop into bed as soon as I my permitted time ticked. I had survived another night.

Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. This is one day at a time, my pastor reminded me. I quckly learned it wasn’t just day to day, I was surviving minute by by minute, breath to breath.

Kaylee, people come out of these things one of two ways. They either are bitter and angry. Or they let it completely transform them into kinder gentler people, my coworker told me one morning early on after I filed.

I’d never done divorce before. I had no idea what it would look and feel like. And I didn’t know much other than slowly I had lost myself and was no longer someone I liked or a person I wanted to continue to be. So I decided to give myself space and permission to fall apart, to allow God to completely unravel me so that I could be put back together again into something a lot more the-me he had designed me to be.

Ironically, the very first thing I felt I should do was to give up church for the summer. I knew I needed to seek God in my own kind of way. I needed to find my own space for grief - to stand before my creator where I could yell, and scream, and question, and let the tears pour down my face. I didn’t want to do all that sitting in a church pew; lest people think I’d been overcome by the Holy Ghost. For the most part my plan for solitude was a success. Except that one time where I sat on a bench staring at sand dunes sobbing only to turn to see a runner staring at me. The music of my headphones had drowned out the sound of his feet beating on the path. I quickly shared my story in hopes it would save the moment’s embarrassment as I used my hands to wipe away the tears of vulnerability. With hands on his hips, as he tried to gather his breath, he shared the death of his brother two weeks prior. And just like that, our souls found solace.

I also gave up cooking for three months. Easy Mac would suffice.

I responded to emails only when I could.

I called people back when it felt right to, not when I felt I had to.

It was a season of giving up everything I had known and thought I knew. And at times, that big empty void teased that it might just have the ability to consume me. But I pressed on in the belief of something more on the other side.

But for all that I told myself I didn’t have to do, I did do ONE thing. After those two weekends I decided I wasn’t going to do either of those again. I learned that my life had forever changed. Life as I knew it was gone. Completely gone. My world was shattered and I had no idea how to rebuild it. The only thing I knew to do was to “NOT do that again.”

So I planned one thing each day to look forward to. That was it. That was the only expectation I had of myself. Emails could wait, texts weren’t going anywhere, the world could go on without Kaylee Page. The only thing I had to do was make one thing a day happen in my life. And then let pain do its work.

I wandered out into the desert, sat myself down and set up camp. But the thing I learned about deserts is that they can actually become a certain kind of cozy. I recently read the following:

"Sometimes we are in the in-between for so long that we don't know how to leave. We've lived without an exit-strategy, without vision for a future that is healthy and whole, and leaving somehow becomes harder than staying. The desert has become our friend; the waiting has become our home. Why venture into a bright, shiny new place when we have become really good at living in the dark?"

It was my friends words what would normal look like to you? That called me out of my desert of wandering and searching. I looked back at the past year and saw that each new day where I had one new thing was just the beginning of my heart learning to beat again - but this time to a whole new rhythm.

I’d been in the in-between for so long that I didn’t even see that my new normal was emerging, a new life I had been creating all along. Of course it didn't feel normal because new never feels normal - it's new. I now read. I color. I walk. I find fun creative ways to love others on my weekends without Bella. I now swing on swing sets, I build sandcastles on the shores of Lake Michigan and I giggle late night giggles on my weekends with Bella. I've learned to fall in love with my life and I practice each day at loving myself.

It was a year where a lot of things died off, but I now see that the space carved out was space for my beautiful new normal: which I've found, has nothing to do with being married. 

KEEPING THE SAME SHEET OF PAPER

Kaylee Page

It has to happen at some point, the lawyer spoke over the phone as we discussed when would be the best evening for my daughter, Bella, to spend her first overnight with her dad. I swallowed the lump in my throat and accepted the inevitable truth.

I wrapped up a work function and then headed with a co-worker to a kick-off party for a former project I had worked on. Walking over to the party I felt “cool.” Like I had this whole divorce thing. Like maybe it was possible to be the new "hip girl at school." No strings to tie me down. No way.

I was there five minutes.

FIVE MINUTES.

That’s it.

And I wanted to go home. More so, it was a deep inner feeling that told me I needed to go home to face the reality and hard truth of divorce. I’d never be able to run from the loss and pain of not having Bella in her room, tucked in her bed, knowing I was just an arms length away to tend to her every need and heart’s cry.

I drove the stretch of highway from downtown to my house with an emptiness setting in the closer I got to my driveway. I pulled into my garage and walked right up to her room. A grief so deep fell over me and I fell face to the floor weeping. With tears running down my face and in between deep sobs, I kept repeating I didn’t choose this. I knew I had. I had made the choice to end the marriage. But deep down I knew it takes two. And deep down I knew it didn’t really matter either way.

I had lost.

And there was no way to run from it.

...

My friend went to adult summer camp this past year. Like a legit camp with crafts and bonfires and no technology allowed. They flew in an airplane then took a couple hour bus ride to get to the camp. It was all deliriously perfect.

The camp allowed you to send cards to the campers to receive while at camp so my friends and I set out to create our best-attempts at our best-guessed idea of what adult-summer-camp-cards should look like. My friend, Karen, initiated the card-making-party and handed out paper and markers to get-to-it.

When she handed me my piece of paper, I noticed there was a tiny streak and a few blots of pink on my piece of paper. It was pink - and while I love pink - the white paper was no longer perfect. I whined out loud and quickly grabbed a new sheet to start my new perfect card.

Wow Kaylee, really? I thought later, YOU’RE STILL THE SAME AS YOU WERE WHEN YOU WERE FIVE YEARS OLD.

When I was five, I hated “messing” up when I was coloring. My teacher would always advise to just color next to the mistake or flip the paper over. I was always appalled. I didn’t want messy. I wanted perfect. Over and over I’d grab a new sheet.

...

Those first couple of months I saw divorce as a way to “start fresh.” Just cut the cord and begin again.

I had plenty of experience with this. Every time life had offered me something hard I had ran. A rough boss, I’d quit. A tough relationship, I’d break up. Even one single attempt at a push up and I’d let my arms down slowly and then quit mid-way back up, collapsing to the floor in defeat.

I always had this idea of what everything should look like and so I was never okay with what it actually did look like. I’d become REALLY good at running. When it got any kind of hard I’d just cut it off and begin again. Or reach for that fresh start where if I stared at the piece of paper on the table I could pretend there wasn’t a basket full of imperfect attempts beside me. As long as I had that “one new sheet” I could keep running.

Except this time I had a daughter. She was a part of me. And I couldn’t completely cut the cord. This time I was forever tied to my story.

For the first time in my life I didn’t want a new sheet, a new life. I wanted a WHOLE life instead. And that meant keeping all of my messy parts.

And so, I’ve learned that sometimes life will require me to rearrange, cut out and scotch-tape things around. That’s okay. That’s a part of me.

Instead of trying a million and one times to draw perfect, I’ve learned that glitter goes a long ways. That there are a million different shades of color to add. And I’ve realized you can fold paper into a paper airplane and send it flying. Or you can origami-it into a swan that can set sail across the waters.

Oh the adventures this ONE sheet of paper will speak of – the story it will tell. But only if I choose to keep it.

Starting over is just a lie to begin with because we really all only have one life to live anyways, but it was a lie I believed for so very long. If I only had a new job, a new house, a new wardrobe, a new haircut, a new number on the scale. If I only had a never ending rotation of new friends in the perfect popular circle. If I only could be always happy and always funny. If I could always be in relationships that always fulfilled me without having to give or sacrifice.

Then maybe it’d be worth keeping?

But I’ve learned it’s worth keeping because I have a daughter. I have a Bella. And it’s worth keeping because my sheet of paper tells a story of perseverance, struggle and hope. It speaks of family and friends throughout the years who have written love all over my paper.

I don’t want to lose all that beauty.

I won’t.

I choose my imperfect life. Because I’ve learned it’s absolutely perfect.

I don’t need a new me. I need to keep at the only me.

Now, pass me that jar of glitter please.

Kaylee Page

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Yes, thanks. Just that. That’s all I need. I said to the banker-person. Just my health savings account set up today. Thanks.

I hopped into my car and drove across the parking lot to a different bank to retrieve paperwork I needed for refinancing my house.

I made a quick stop at Biggby for a coffee. It seemed appropriate to treat myself prior to my twenty-minute drive across town to sell my wedding ring. I arrived at the parking lot, walked across the black pavement and buzzed the front door. I let myself in and took a seat as the gentleman cleaned my once-appraised-$18,000 ring. He called me back, had me take a look under the microscope and pointed out a man-made chip from when the stone was set, and advised that they couldn’t buy it. I was really tempted to cry until he caved but instead, as my eyes filled with tears, I slid the ring on my finger so I wouldn’t lose it and gathered together my paperwork. Defeated.

I drove myself back across town to a tiny little consignment shop in Hudsonville, MI. Here, I was asked how much I was thinking for it. I mumbled out my hope of $5,000.  After several runs back to his computer, a call into his boss and me wiping tears from my cheeks as I explained the brokenness and loss of this past year he offered his best deal: $2,500.

Brother would be proud to know I tried. I tried a little tiny bit to get up to $3,000. Turns out, being in sales is STILL not my calling.

But there I was, choosing to sell my ring for the price offered because the idea of waiting for a higher amount didn’t feel like one step forward. And I needed to feel forward today.

I sat staring into empty space and, as he wrote the check, overhead I heard playing “it is well.” It was actually the version of the song I had listened to every single night the first two months of my divorce. Tears streamed down my face. They were tears of grief and peace. It’s the type of grieving where there is a release, a sorrow for the pain but a whisper of hope. I call it grief-peace. 

I don’t know if that’s how I was supposed to feel or do it. It was slightly embarrassing when the gentleman began scrounging around for a Kleenex box that didn’t’ seem readily available. But really, I don’t know how you’re supposed to sell your wedding ring. I don’t know if you’re supposed to be angry or sad. I don’t know if you’re supposed to throw it across the room at your ex and say you don’t want it anyways. But I did my best. I let it be what it was. This week I had Bella try it on. There was something beautiful about letting her little fingers hold the very institute that brought her into existence.

...

Well let me ask you this, is there hope for reconciliation?  Because I REALLY care about marriage? A pastor asked me during my divorce.

His words stung like a wound in saltwater.

At the beginning of my divorce I googled redemption and reconciliation. Trying to figure out the difference and trying to figure out if I was too sinny for God. It took me weeks of getting into the quiet, sleepless nights, countless tears and a deep internal struggle to find that still small voice. In the end, in my free will, I had chosen his mercy.  And over and over, it felt like the church tried to whisper me lies: that I didn’t have free will, that I didn’t have a God who said he’d be with me always and wherever.

I filed for divorce knowing I was taking a step out of the boat into deep dark waters in hopes there could be more.  I broke that which in theory was whole but in reality was so extraordinarily broken. I believed that God could take my shattered pieces and make them whole. Somehow.

I filed for divorce through the eyes of redemption. 

But several months into my divorce, I was overcome with the brokenness surrounding my divorce. I couldn’t imagine anything good coming from it. One specific night, I climbed into the shower. The water hit my body like tiny little slaps.

STEP BEHIND ME, I screamed through the gaps of the water pouring over my mouth. I yelled so loudly my throat hurt. I was so angry and so unsure of who or what I was talking to. Was I talking to a red-pitched-forked Satan or was I simply talking to my unbelief? This is NOT too big. You hear me. This is not too big for Him. For God. THIS. WILL. BE REDEEEMED. I shouted, as my chest rose and collapsed with each inhale and exhale. Even if I don’t see it on this side of glory. It. Will. Be. Redeemed.

Trembling I slowly stepped back from the water and sat myself down on the shower bench in full surrender. The battle was now his. God’s redemption would remain my answer.

...

You have great faith, the gentleman said as he handed me the check.

The sun is shining, is all I could think standing there in that moment in a tiny little consignment shop in a small town of Michigan. That, and then this, this is also what I thought: That sometimes redemption looks like one small trip to the bank, one small refinance, one small drive across town, one small acceptance of $2500 when you thought it was going to be so much more, and one small choice to live. Knowing that choosing to live is worth it in the end. And that redemption is no longer in my hands but His.

He reconciles all things to him. My ex and I will someday sit down together and share a meal together and there will be no more weeping or crying or death anymore - this side of glory or the other. 

He redeems all of our broken. That is my answer if ever I doubt. 

His mercy a gift.

His grace sufficient.

Kaylee Page

Kaylee, I’ve got this GREAT Bible verse for you. I reaaallly think it’s going to help you. Here goes: Be still and know that I am God.

Apparently I was born for this verse. I wear my anxiety on my sleeves, and by that I mean, you can mostly find me crouched down in the corner of any room, sweating and crying, scared and nervous, about most any-everything. Even a butterfly can catch me off guard and send me in full retreat.

And so it goes that over and over in my life people would quote this verse to me. In fact, it’s been said enough times to me that I started to think maybe there was something to it.

...

I filed for divorce a year ago. I had no idea how to quiet the storm and so I ran to the shores of Lake Michigan every weekend and sat. The sun would beat on my face as the tears poured down my cheeks.

I’d sit. And I‘d try really hard to be still.

Ten minutes would pass and I felt no more still than ten minutes prior. I’d try meditating or staring at things but my mind would actually then obsess about not thinking. It was terrible. Sometimes I’d pause for a second and think “AH! I did it! OMG, I did it!” only to realize I was pretty sure I hadn’t.

I’d even sit and stew on the word be.

Am I been now? I’d wonder. Is this begon? Is this the be now? Am I BEAN yet? Aight, I’m done being be.

I felt like such a being-still-failure.

And I felt so much shame with the inability to master this verse.  

SIT DOWN, Kaylee. I’d hear in my head, like an angry father would say to his child standing on the dining room chair. SIT DOWN, and don’t ask any questions. I’m God. You’re not. Just SIT. DOWN.

And this scared me because I have a lot of questions. Because I don’t always know how I’m feeling or what to think and so things sorta rattle around as I try to figure them out.

But sitting on the tan grainy sand, with the waves crashing and my heart beating, I learned that I know how to be still. But the stillness was nothing like I had anticipated. The stillness has been a process of choosing to create time and space for answers to unfold.

Being still wasn’t about figuring out how to un-twiddle my thumbs or how to stop myself from thinking.  It wasn’t an order to sit down and shut up; rather, an invitation to show up and speak out. In the words of Brene Brown, “stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.”

I know God is God, and some days this simple fact gives me great comfort. Other days, I wrestle with my humanity and inability to control or completely understand. What I learned this past year is that the knowing part isn’t always immediate. Last spring I didn’t know all the answers and I didn’t have words for it. I just knew my truth. A year later, I know much more about myself and my story.

I spent a lot of time in the stillness with God this year - grief has a tricky way of pulling you into solitude - and it was here in the stillness that I KNOW God in deeper, more intimate ways.

My prayer is that we would continue to pursue our humanity by creating space:

For our questions.

For our minds.

For our heart.

Space to talk with God. Space to wrestle with God.

An invitation to think and dream and question.

Grace and Peace.

Kaylee Page

I’m not ever going to figure out how to be nice to JuJu, Bella frustratingly admitted as we cozied up to read two of her favorite bedtime stories.

Thanks for sharing that with me. I said. Tell me more about that.

Well I was mean with the jump rope, she explained.

Did you hit her with it? I asked as I motioned like a cowboy about to lassie the bull.

No. I didn’t let her take a turn and then Miss Ashley had to talk with the both of us. I’ll never know how to be a good friend to her, Bella shared with discouragement in her voice.

No biggie, I responded. Sounds like you learned that JuJu likes to take turns. Sounds like you learned how to love JuJu better. Just sounds like you learned something. That’s pretty cool. Let me tell you a little secret, I invited Bella to sit closer to me. God is love. And each day we learn how to love, which means each day we get to learn about God.

Bella was a little preoccupied with The Little Engine that Could book she held in her hand. She wasn’t all too much interested in my best attempt at parenting a vulnerable moment. But I did my best. And I hope something stuck or I hope that over the years to come as we have more and more bedside conversations that something will stick. I hope that, in my own actions, I can show her the art of becoming. I hope that my daughter learns to see the world not through the shame of her mistakes but through the beautiful opportunity to learn how to love.

Bella was so focused on her first failed attempt at love to realize that each try is so full of potential. Each day we learn a little bit more about our friends, our families and our neighbors and it’s a gift that opens us up to giving and receiving – a flow that makes this world all worth it.

The big trains were too proud and too afraid they didn’t have it in them to give and exchange love. They shut the opportunity down. Their loss. They missed out having an entire book written about them.

It was a tiny blue engine, full of the belief that through effort and awareness, she could bring good things to the world. And she did. And everyone cheered. And everyone celebrated.

May my little Bella never shy away from a life curious about the mystery of love and the beautiful creative ways it reveals itself to us through the reality of relationships.  

And may her tiny little voice always bellow out a resounding : I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Kaylee Page

They’re amazing. It’s so nice to meet people doing so much good in the world. I mean, I care but I’m not actually doing good.

This is what my friend said in reference to a dinner he and his wife had with another couple, in which both are involved with non-profits doing beautiful work.

Thing is, as soon as my friend said this, I got scared about how we see love. For so many years I lost myself. It was deeply rooted in the fact that I forgot this simple truth: I can do no great things, only small things with great love.

So I stopped my friend.

Wait, wait. I said, I want to just say something real quick. I lost myself. For lots of years I forgot what love looked like. I thought that if I wasn’t part of a mission or an organization “doing the good” then I was somehow not part of the Jesus movement. But God is love. So every time you are kind to your wife, every time you help a coworker, every time you invest into anyone, anyway, anyhow, it’s just as good. It’s ALL part of the movement.

Bringing a pan of lasagna to a family who just lost a loved one is just as holy as spending a day at your local food pantry.

Coloring with your daughter at the dinner table is just as good and true as mentoring at your nearby neighborhood elementary school.

Spending an entire coffee conversation with a friend reminding them of God’s mercy and grace when they think they are unworthy or unlovable is just as much sharing the gospel as standing on a church platform speaking to hundreds.

Organized good is good.

But little acts of good are just as good.

Let’s not forget.

WASHING FEET IS LOVE.

Kaylee Page

I’m mean.

I’m stupid.

I can’t make good choices.

I’m cruel.

Bella sobbed with her face pressed into the bath towel.

We'd had a rough few days of listening, and so when Bella didn’t listen when I told her to get out of the bathtub the first, second and nineteenth time I asked her to, I got after her. But Bella had gotten in trouble at school that day for not being particularly kind to her friends and so it's safe to say that the whole day had been just a bit too much. One could argue that I could have been a tiny kinder with my tone but Bella’s heart was so vulnerable it just broke. And for the first time, I got to see the depths of my daughter’s heart, what happens when the world is just too much and she feels like she can’t keep up.

The words she was using to describe herself broke me. I didn’t know where she got those words and it tore me to pieces to think she could think anything of the sort about her beautiful soul. The following morning we talked about where she heard those words and what she thinks those words mean, but in that moment I took her into my arms and I sat on the bathroom floor, holding her bleeding heart.

Can mommy be mean sometimes? I asked.

How about daddy? And Miss Kathy? Can your friends sometimes be mean?

So we can sometimes be mean, but are we mean people?  I continued on in hopes to help her see we’re all flawed and in the process of becoming.

As the tears subsided a bit, I gently placed her on the closed toiled seat and staring up at her I began to talk about how when I was exactly her age I realized for the first time how much God loved me and that nothing I could do could change his love, and how that very same love is true for her.

We talked about how mommy has the same love for her and that I will always love her to the moon and back… and back again.

And slowly, Bella’s heart began to return to her. The storm inside her soul settled, and the noise of the day quieted. 

I would have sat there on the floor all night starting up at her if that’s what it took.

...

It’s Holy Thursday. Tonight, people around the world gather in churches, and a pastor or priest will wash feet.  

As a kid, I used to think that Jesus washed feet to show us how perfect he was. Look at me, I’m serving. I’m so servy that I’ll even wash gross disgusting dusty feet. What’d you do today?  I pictured him like the passive aggressive mother in law, loudly moving the basin bowl of water from foot to foot as if to proclaim: I’M SERVING HERE!  Like he didn’t really want to serve but no one else was going to do it so he would, but he’d let us all know he was doing it.

Each Holy Thursday would roll around and I’d think about how much I hate feet, and how I hadn’t found myself any feet to wash. Like maybe I wasn’t a good person because good people walk around with rags and offer a good scrub. My salvation was doomed. 

...

I sat cuddled up and barefoot on Doc’s couch yesterday, the pillows perfectly placed under my arm and around my legs for comfort. I shared how Bell has a hard time sometimes coming down so we can talk about her heart. That her heart and mind start rattling around and she has a really hard time getting to a place where she can hear anything but the noise.

Doc told me that there are two ways they’ve found that immediately help calm the part of our brain that is going wonky in those moments. It is touch. And it is getting below eye level.

OH MY GOD. Jesus was brilliant. The disciples had just come in after a long, hard day on the dusty roads of life, and it’s said that the disciples were arguing over who was better while Jesus washed their feet. I used to think this was to show that these pompous pricks just didn’t get it. I figured they were just those people, those sinny people, and I took it as a warning sign that if I didn’t get my act together and sit on the floor that I wouldn’t be accepted into the streets of gold.

But I wonder. Maybe the story wasn’t about our broken state but actually about God’s love. 

The world is hard and noisy and we can forget who we are out there. And that’s exactly what had happened, the disciples had forgotten who they were at the core. They didn’t remember that they were perfectly knit and designed and dearly loved. And just like Bella, the day’s hard had gotten the best of their hearts. And so there they sat, arguing over who was better. Because sometimes when we feel like we’re not enough we try to make ourselves feel better than someone else.

What I love is that while the disciples are falling apart, Jesus is doing magic.

He’s touching.

And he’s below eye level.

Jesus reveals to us that love will sit on the bathroom floor all night long to show us that our hearts matter most. Love never leaves. Love stays. Love sits in the noise, the chaos and the storm until the noise quiets, the chaos calms and the storm passes.

I bet Jesus stood with that basin bowl with so much love. He wasn’t an angry mother in law and he wasn’t an angry God telling us to get it right.  He was showing us what love does. It shows up.

Today, I saw Jesus at the feet of the disciples. Only he wasn’t passive aggressive. He was calm. He was steady. He sat on the floor listening to each heart’s cry. And with each handful of water he scooped and poured over the feet, he said, tell me more. I’m here. It’s okay. Let’s talk about it. I love you always.

Tomorrow, we are at his feet. We’ll stand at the foot of the cross and we’ll be reminded once again that love always wins.

May we know and trust this love. And may we be the kind of people that will sit in the darkest, hardest, and most in need moments of all those we meet. May we always choose to show up with a basin bowl ready to listen until the storms of this life pass.

Grace + Peace.

THE ART OF CREATING GOOD ENOUGH.

Kaylee Page

OMG, I can’t even start stuff. Sometimes the shear thought of not being about to do it perfect keeps me from doing it at all, my friend Molly shared as we sipped our morning coffee. We were sitting on the pontoon having just wrapped up an early morning ride around the lake. Molly continued on to share that she’ll look up all sorts of fun projects to do and then just freeze with paralysis at the thought of creating something sub-par to the picture before her.

I drove home from work yesterday. I had plans to walk around a lake here in town but it was rainy and the wind was so very windy my friend and I decided that the thought of blowing off into the universe was not worth the exercise so we’d reschedule for a sunny day. That’s as close to a legit rain-check as you can get, I think.

Problem is. That’s all I had lined for my night. That was it. And so I was really sad about my evening. I stopped at Walgreens for mini peanut butter cups and Cadbury chocolate coated eggs – For. My. Dinner.

Once home, I made my way through the kitchen and plopped myself into the corner of the couch, my knees underneath me propping me up like a rag-doll. I sat in the quiet of my house and began individually placing candy coated chocolates into my mouth. The shell was a loud crunch with each bite and as the pieces broke inside my mouth, I wondered if one could get any more bored-er-er. I attempted to do be really present and aware. Like maybe life wanted me to really know my chocolate, really taste it’s cocoa and high fructose corn syrup. Ever-so-slowly I chomped my boredrom.

I found myself staring at a list of priorities I had made the other day. I asked if there was anything I could do with that list. But I didn’t have any inspiration, desire or energy. I just sat there.

Then I started doing this thing I do when I feel anxiousy and nervous and like I’m not enough. I spoke my heart out loud – call it a prayer, call it meditation, call it weird: Kaylee, it’s okay. Just be right here. You don’t know what to do. That’s okay. Let’s just be here. Okay.

So I tried. But I didn’t like it. Life was so far from perfect. I missed Bella. I missed making dinner. And I missed my white picket fence.

Thing is, I think I felt like my friend Molly in that moment. That because I couldn’t make perfect, I didn’t know what to do or how to start.

But I remember this summer I shared with a coworker that over the past several months friends had come to discover my deep love for clouds and how in my hardest season of life, friends had been tagging, texting and tossing clouds my way. My coworker replied with a picture of clouds of the big skies of Montana and noted: Interesting to me that the Creator shares this great art with us and then just “throws it away!”

I had never really thought about God like this. How he doesn’t cling is to his artwork. He makes and creates and then throws it out for us to enjoy - quickly moving on to the next art piece.

Life gives us space. Sometimes this space is given to us the hard way, like through loss of a job, loss of family, or loss of a loved one. Other times this space is intentionally sought out by people – it’s called solitude. It can be 5 minutes or 5 months. And It can feel sorta weird because we like to do and there’s no doing in this space. But of all the books I’ve read on creativity this year, this is the very space where new ideas emerge. Space just like this is actually mandatory and necessary for creativity.

Sit here until you know what next to create. Then don’t be scared of it, just create it. I thought.

But sometimes the things I think to create feel sorta worthless or silly. Like who would really want a mini piece of paper with an Irish blessing on it rolled up and stuck into a tiny pot for St. Patricks’ day. But then I think, who wouldn’t want a mini piece of paper with an Irish blessing on it rolled up and stuck into a tiny pot for St. Patricks’ day!!

And I realized, it’s not always about what we create, or how perfect we create it. It’s about bringing something into existence that didn’t exist before.  Each one of these big, small or medium-sized works of art becomes a delight to us and to others.

When someone makes something for us – a pie, a card, a scarf, an experience – it’s not usually the “thing” that makes us feel love, it’s the love behind it. How much more art and beauty could we create if we weren’t so worried about the art itself but understood that art passes, but the love remains.

My mom made me so many smoothies when we got home from school. I can’t tell you the taste of each smoothie blended, but I can tell you how cared for I felt. She organized the best birthday parties and I can’t tell you every little detail, but I can tell you how special I felt. My mom rubbed my back each night before bed and I can’t tell you how each touch felt but I can tell you how loved I felt. She made a really beautiful childhood for me and it was through each little thing she created. If she had waited to get the perfect smoothie each day, the perfect Pinterest birthday party, and the perfect back scratch at bedtime idda really missed out. I’m so glad I had a mom that knew love was in the good enough.

Do you have space today? Space that is not filled with any sort of doing so it feels like nothing. That space is something; it’s the space for something to become that wasn’t here before.

So sit in it.

And if something comes to you run with it.  

Let’s not be a people so scared of perfect that we miss the magic.

“You've permitted magical to walk on by. Not to mention good enough, amazing and wonderful. Waiting for the thing that cannot be improved keeps us from beginning. Merely begin.” 

~ Seth Godin