To All My Warrior Mothers

Dear Warriors,

Motherhood has bonded us with intimate “firsts”. We experienced the first time we thought we were pregnant, the first time (followed by the next 12 just to make sure) we took pregnancy tests and saw a plus sign, the first time our sisters swallowed hard and decided to put those adoption papers in, first flutters and kicks, the first time we realized our bodies and especially our boobs will never be the same, the first time we realized our kids were born with no hair or a full on mullet, the first time we realized that both our boobs worked when we were attempting to breastfeed our children, the first time we felt a contraction and thought, “Holy crap! They weren’t lying when they said you’d know it when you feel it!!”, or the first time our adoptive mommy friends first laid eyes on their kiddos and we watched the mama bear switch immediately flip on. I mean, guys, the list goes on and on. These are our battle scars binding us together like an army of wildlings waiting for attack. As a mother of three boys ages 12, 9 and 7, I recently realized that in a blink of an eye our home that use to be filled with baby toys and cabinet locks has turned into man cave with legos, continual sports games, and conversations about relationships, chivalry and how country music may or may not be an educational guide for life (i’m still not buying that one).

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and although I’m still in my 30’s with years to grow and navigate through the awkward spaces of middle school I wanted to let you know that in my experience unfortunately, motherhood doesn’t get easier. Not only does it not get easier, no one really knows what they're doing. It’s a crap shoot. I spent hours of my life trying to find the best way to get my kids to eat vegetables, sleep through the night, to keep their feet from stinking so badly from those God awful crocs that I hate but still buy because I don’t want to tie anyone’s shoes, figuring out how to have the least amount of germs in my house and which bottles to use. Most importantly, I realized that I had been doing this all while attempting to fit into a box that was incredibly uncomfortable and honestly very lonely. I looked like a champ though (with the exception of my mini van floor covered with cheerios and freeze dried yogurt melts) and at that point of my life, looking good mattered.

Something prompted me to write this letter and I’ll be honest, I went back and forth on whether or not to write it. I felt on some level one of my fellow warrior mothers might breeze through it and have some comfort knowing that we have all been chugging along on the Hot Mess Express that flies through our streets and neighborhoods like a neurotic and sleep deprived engine from Thomas the Train that only plays Caillou reruns. (come on, you know our kids love that show and we let them watch it even though it drives us crazy). With that said, I’m first asking for a celebratory gold star and a glass of wine. After seven years, my husband and I accomplished something a couple of weeks ago that was a game changer. Our seven year old, for the first time in his life, fell asleep on his own, in his own bed, reading books like he’d been doing it for years. That’s right gals, he’s freaking seven years old. Why so long you ask? Well, that’s easy, we like to sleep and we have stairs that neither of us want to continually walk up and down. It’s just that simple. After two other boys, we had a case of the “lazys”. No shame in our game. 

Just for a bit of a history lesson on this kid, he’s shaken me like no other. I could tell in utero that he was going to be, ahem, very energetic like his mother but man...this kid taught me that I had no idea what I was doing. I remember pacing in my house with his brothers quietly watching Go, Diego Go trying to get him down for nap and I took a big swallow and called my sister in law, who at the time had just had her first daughter, and asked her for help. It was the best and worst feeling as a mother because I was admitting that I couldn’t do something I felt I should easily know how to do but at the same time, I was one step closer to figuring this kid out. Let’s be honest though, I was really one step closer to figuring myself out. She was my first warrior in my army of now many mothers who’ve taught me about life. I’ll never forget it. I think that call was my first step onto the slippery slope of relinquishing judgement on motherhood.

In my very little experience, it all works out. I’ve breastfed, and I haven’t breastfed. I got an epidural and i’ve had natural labor. I’ve used off brand, Target brand, and super expensive formula, news flash, they all still stick to the bottom of the damn bottle when we try to add the water to it. I’ve stuffed my kid’s with summer sno cones until their pooped accidentally turned bright blue and I’ve made all organic, no dairy, no grain, no GMO, no nut, no love only darkness, dry to the bone homemade ritz crackers. I’ve sat in doctor’s offices watching beautiful siblings weave leather moccasins together with their mother while my kids are sticking cheetos up their noses and they’re wearing a bicycle helmet and no shoes because I refused to fight the battle that day. It all works out. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different and different is ok. My youngest taught me that.

So, as my husband and I sat on the couch together after realizing that after seven years we’d finally conquered bedtime, I sent a text to my sister in law and thanked her. She could have been judgy, God knows I had been so many times. She wasn’t though. Be honest and gentle with yourself. Be that for someone today because it’s not that we need someone else’s answers for our own children. Honestly, our Father has gifted us with gut instinct. It’s because I guarantee you that someone needs you to listen without judgement, especially that mom strolling around with four kids in target during the witching hour. They need you and you need them to see through the tired smiles and dirty dishes and sit by them on The Hot Mess Express. I’m still on it y'all and it ain’t stoping. We’re in this together, and I’ll be calling you when it hits the fan...again.

 

Your Warrior Sister, Danielle 

 

 

LIVING FEARLESSLY

There comes a time in people's lives when they find their words. It's as if they plowed diligently through the fog to see the tip of the ocean waves and they realize that the sand, water, and sunlight was just the beginning of their love for this world. Their yes, their fortitude and courage, brought them to their ocean, even in the midst of not seeing what was in front of them. I've sat in a lot of fog, but man, what beauty there is in this world, especially in truth. 

At mass this morning, one of my favorite preachers, our beloved Deacon Al, who retired because of serious health problems, blessed us with some massive truth bombs. There's something within Al's voice that draws you deeper in every moment of mass and he's uniquely overcome with his love for Jesus. You can't be distracted; you lean into his words and his deep gentle voice revives you. Before retiring, Al preached in June, giving us some insight into his struggles; how the Lord had miraculously protected him through tours of war, through heartache, suffering, through the joys of marriage - and I wept. I didn't weep because I was sad about his suffering, I wept in gratitude that God had ultimately saved him just for us and that my boys saw and heard this wise man speak truth into their hearts. Today when he preached (no surprise here) I wept again. He disconnected his oxygen tank, slowly made his way to the ambo, and took as deep of a breath as he could. "THERE ARE FOUR MACHINES KEEPING ME ALIVE RIGHT NOW, BUT I AM NOT FEARFUL", he said. His voiced boomed. My boys' ears perked up and they sat, quietly, listening to our wise deacon. He spoke the truth of the dignity of every human person - the dying, the persecuted, the prisoners on death row, and the unborn. "Fear", he said. "People can't see the light of Jesus when we're fearful. Do not be afraid, the world needs to see the light of Jesus." Through his slow, steady breath and the words that proceeded forth, sometimes taking a second to catch his breath, I wept. He was right.  And as for me, I've been needing to say yes more. Isn't that my job as an artist? To bring the light of Jesus to people through music? My oldest son randomly looked over at me, making sure his mom hadn't totally lost it at mass, and I became so thankful for God's mercy. That man...he reminded me of what courage looks like. 

Reality check...I've thought a lot about fear lately. Am I being a holy wife? Am I able to give my kiddos the tools they need to live within a culture that mocks their faith? Do they know how much they're loved? Do I know how much I'm loved? Am I doing my will, or God's will? I could go on and on, but as I sit here in the adoration chapel with Jesus staring me in the face, Deacon Al's words resound in my head, "they cannot see the light if you live in fear." So, will we say "yes"? 

This Sunday specifically reminds me of someone who was also very courageous, someone who suffered. As the prophets, Mary, and Jesus did, this person said "yes" to God. She's my birth mother. This Sunday is Respect Life Sunday, the day that we as Catholics pray for the end to abortion, the death penalty, and all things that strip away the dignity of human life. I've always tried to seek her courage. No one knows the pain of a birth mother unless you are one. We have all suffered. We have all felt pain. It seems as if it's something that binds us together in the solidarity of life. But my birth mother, even though she was fearful, even though she knew she would have unsurmountable pain - she said "yes" to my life. She changed the trajectory of her heart, accepting unnatural heartache. It was selfless. It was courageous. And most importantly, it was the biggest example of love that I've had in my life. 

Her yes gave me a unique outlook on life and allowed me to see the beauty and the good in people before the pains of cynicism. It allowed me to see a glimmer of heaven within the eyes of the children we created. It gave me the gift of painfully satisfying belly laughs and the constant urge to unite my brothers and sisters in the love that God gifted her to pass on to me. My adoption story allowed me to understand why and how life should be protected and that, no matter what our stories, we are worthy of life. It taught me that words and actions matter, that gentleness and compassion aren't things to be ashamed of, but rather things that allow your heart to mend and see how simple life can really be. What a glorious and gracious gift. What love. What courage. And with just one word, "yes". 

This isn't a post about urging people to not be pro-choice or urging my fellow pro-life advocates to numb themselves. This is a post about living courageously, loving deeply, and finding the places where we firmly say yes; not because of how it makes us feel, but because we were given gifts and uniquely created to love fearlessly. I've battled through how, as a society, we mask the slow tarnish and denigration of human dignity. It can exhaust you, but for me, that's the Lord's work. My job is just to run to Him. I wasn't given the gift of life to change policy but I don't doubt that some people were. I, without a doubt, believe I was given the gift of life to love hard and when things get crazy, to love even harder and more fearlessly. I'm thankful today because she said "yes".

 

Undone

 

Written By: Danielle Noonan

When I was fearless little girl, I’d climb barefoot as fast as I could to the tops of our mimosa trees. I’d leap over pine cones so my feet wouldn’t get nicked, and land foot after foot into the pine needle beds until I could grasp that first low branch of those beautiful trees. There was something powerful and strong about them, yet so delicate with their feathered branches and leaves. They’d be covered in pink fluffy flowers and the faster I climbed the more flowers would fall and I could watch, from the top, the shower of fuchsia fluff falling to the ground. No one could get me out of those trees. It had to be a choice to come down. One that I made on my own and one that made me feel powerful, like the trees themselves. When you’re little, it doesn’t take much to amaze you or to make you feel like you’re on top of the world. For me, those mimosa trees were where I felt heaven - but I always knew I had to come back down.

 

Now that I have three little boys I wonder what their “mimosa trees” will be.  Where will they hide away? We all have those secret places. I don’t have to know theirs, but I can’t help but wonder what they’ll run away from. I hope that heaven feels as close for them as it felt for me because it was there that I found protection for my heart and the exhilaration of freedom in making my own choices. Even if the choice was to hide away on the tops of those swaying trees.

 

After we made the decision for me to dive head first and full time into ministry, I felt that same feeling I felt as a little girl on the tops of those trees. I’d sit at the piano, the piano I learned to play on as a little girl, and day by day He began to break stone and mortar surrounding my wounds and presumptuous ideas. And He began to heal wounds. Sitting at that piano I was just a little girl who longed to rest, to be understood, and to know with great intent what He desired from me within a new season. Those piano keys felt so safe, and with each touch I’d be reminded of the depths I desired to know His love and mercy. There was no distraction with hitting them, no doubts of my words and stumbles, just the outpouring of longing and praise and the ability to hear Him.  

 

If you’ve transitioned through a season, and you’re like me, transitions are hard. As much ease and confidence you see for yourself, you can still feel the pull and stretch of those turns and tides that roll through your heart and can exhaust you. The Lord pours blessings upon those tired hands and aching minds and just when you think you’re about to hit the ground, there He is, as strong and gentle as those trees. He gifts us with a divine vantage point where we see how He’s using us. He draws us in and you realize that the branches you climbed with all your strength, may have made you tired but they also made you sturdier and stronger.

 

These songs on the Undone EP aren’t just my prayers and intimate conversations with The Lord, these songs are my prayers for all of us. We have all gone through seasons in our lives where we’re not quite sure where The Lord is taking us. The question for us is will we step out in faith, or will we step out in fear and cynicism?

 

These songs are for all of us. They’re for the ones who yearn for worthiness, the ones who love hard and unselfishly, the ones who juggle the balance of family and boundaries, the ones who feel as if they don’t belong, and for the ones who doubt His love and still long for understanding and comfort. These songs are ours brothers and sisters. Let’s climb to the tops of our trees and sing them.

You can find Undone here: https://itun.es/us/hE5Kgb

 

 

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

 
 

Written by: Danielle Noonan

There have been moments in my life where I have felt so ravaged by Christ’s love for me, that I wept in thankful, almost heart wrenching gratitude and there have been moments in my life, where I wondered how I could feel so alone, so misguided, hurt and so lost. My life has been balancing just that equation, the hilltops, valleys and storms of life’s, a lot of times, very painful and humorous paths. These are the things that fuel my heart toward its creative light. We all have stories, some a little more colorful than others, but stories nonetheless. Some of my stories, I don’t want to be mine, but at the same time, I don’t want them to be anyone else’s because piece by piece The Father shaped and molded my heart to fit those stories into His hands and that’s where they lie in safekeeping. The Road Less Traveled is a song written at a time where I felt extremely vulnerable and yearned for authenticity.  I was mentally exhausted trying to be who I thought everyone needed me to be when, in reality, I simply needed to use my gifts, I needed to remember that my fiery stubbornness and passion for truth and goodness was what propelled me towards Him and that not resting was a sorry excuse to not face this Father who gently, ever so lovingly spoke words of truth to me. Rest in me, Danielle.

In Matthew 11 28-30 The Lord tell us “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

I’ve fallen upon this scripture more times than I can count in a lifetime and each time I want those words bound to my heart, not just because of their sacred beauty but because of how so easily I forget them.  How many times, as we’ve sped through the city, with coffee, backpacks, children who may or may not have remembered their lunches or shoes for that matter, have we been quiet and still enough to hear him say, “You’re tired, come rest in me”.  Sometimes it takes taking the road less traveled. It’s quieter, many times there’s less people, which at first, if you’re like me, can feel isolating or uncomfortable but there’s peace there. You can rest there and The Father’s heart, which holds those stories, the ones we may or may not want to keep, envelopes us and we rest.


The Road Less Traveled

Lyrics and Music by Danielle Noonan

On the path you speak to me
Come rest your weary soul
Like the night you cover me, on the road less traveled
On the road less traveled
 
When the dawn is breaking through
When darkness disappears
You’re the hope that pulls me through, on the road less traveled
On the road less traveled
 
So slow it on down, don’t move to fast
You’ll miss the eager sounds
That carry all the weight of all your burdens
Oh the yoke is easy and the truth will set you free
On the road, the road less traveled
 
Woah, woah, woah
Woah, woah, woah
Woah, woah, woah, the road less traveled
 
Though it’s dark and lonely and it’s hard to understand
That nothing falls to pieces for the lowly
Oh just lift your gaze upon the lights above the hills
So we will sing, on the road less traveled