Grub Worms and Grace

I grew up in the country, running around barefoot and watching my mother tend to all of her plants that she loved. As I got older, I too, began to find a sense of peace and joyfulness getting my hands dirty and watching things grow. About four years ago, my husband and I built some raised beds in our backyard so we could have a garden. Every morning, I’d drop the kids off at school, head to the backyard (usually still in my jammies), drink my coffee and tend to the garden. My girlfriends would call for morning chats and I’d just begin to send them to voicemail and shoot them a text boasting, “Gosh, I’m so so sorry but I’m working in the garden right now…#blessed”. Just kidding, I wouldn’t add that hashtag, but you see where I’m going.

Now, if you have a garden, you know it’s a lot of trial and error, but after a couple of years I really thought I had this gardening thing down. Then the summer season came around. Excitedly, I went to the neighborhood garden center and bought every type of heirloom tomato, zucchini, bean and herb I could find. I bought more veggies that season than I had ever bought before. I was swelling with pride and my credit card was boosted with a whole lot of flight points. This season was going to be a game changer, I could feel it! This would be the season of all seasons where my husband would begin to believe that we can do BIG THINGS! I mean, anything is possible with God, right? We could finally homestead... live off the land... buy a tiny house... I could finally get my chicken coop! (Newsflash, we live in the suburbs on a golf course). Pride was sending me into a downward spiral of distractibility, among other things.


With an inflated ego and hopeful anticipation, our three boys and I planted every plant we had that afternoon. Honestly, we had so many plants that we had to use pots for the ones that couldn’t fit into the raised garden beds. Each morning, with coffee in hand, I’d check on everything as usual, but at this point my gardening ego was hitting an all time high.  A couple of months into the season, I noticed that all of the veggies in the raised beds were beginning to look sickly and droopy. I was completely perplexed and incredibly annoyed. How hard can it be, I thought? I know I’m a pretty basic gal, but I was confident that I had provided not just loving attention but also water, sunlight and air for them. They were betraying me! With each morning, they looked worse and I got more and more wrinkles from furrowing my brows at them. Finally, at one point, and I like to call this “I know you’re dead, but I’ll do anything to bring back an ounce of my pride back” stage, I tried talking sense into them with tough love. Here I was, a grown woman, watering my very visibly dead plants in my pajamas while fiercely mocking them and attempting to caffeinate myself.

Something was very wrong and not just with the veggies! Every single plant I had in the extra pots we used were looking fabulous, yet all the others, completely dead. I finally did a hard swallow and asked my very factual friend, Mr. Google, what could have made this happen, but got a million different answers. It could have been all kinds of issues! I was totally defeated, so I decided the next morning to rip out all the plants and try to start fresh, like it never happened.


As I began to move the soil around, I found the largest grub worm I had ever seen embedding itself back into the turned soil. I screamed like a two year old in Target who had eaten a snow cone for breakfast and hadn’t napped. After contemplating if I should return to the vile and invaded garden bed, I slowly put on my big girl panties and with my shovel, I moved the dirt around some more. The entire garden bed was infested with enormous grub worms. Not only were they the most disgusting things I had ever seen, Google then told me that they had slowly eaten all the roots of our vegetables leaving us with a dead garden. Funny enough, Google also told me that they were treatable and even preventable. I had literally killed my own garden. I didn’t kill it because I wanted too obviously, I just didn’t focus on the the most important part of the garden, it’s foundation, it’s soil. The seasons before I had been so overly excited to see growth that I missed investing in the next season’s foundation. My pride had left the soil unturned and pride steals all of your bounty.  

 

 

So here’s a question for you, how’s your soil doing? In this season of your life, how fruitful are you? Who are you allowing to tend to your heart and relationships? Scripture tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” As women we have a tendency to forget to tend to ourselves and to each other, leaving our soil parched. When we’re parched, we can’t give what God has gifted us to our families or to each other as sisters and we each other! An essential part of tending to our foundation is allowing Christ to pour into us through His word and through the relationships he’s gifted to us. As women, we have a unique chance to extend a beautiful vision of sisterhood in Christ to a culture that has been so broken and wounded by betrayal and confusion about who we are as women. Oftentimes, through social media, magazines, TV, you name it, we can become blinded by the lie that we don’t need each other, we don’t need Jesus in every inch of our hearts and we don’t need to tend to the very integral foundations of our hearts and relationships that allow us to be fruitful.

So, in whatever season you’re currently in, remember that you’re being refined for something only capable through the vision and eyes of our Master Gardener. Allow Him to tend to you so the foundation you create for your next season is full of powerful gifts you can share with grace and confidence. Guard your heart prudently, but ask Jesus to allow you to become a humble recipients of other’s gifts so your heart can be mended through a courageous and giving a sisterhood. Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, find your sisters and invite them to your garden. It’s always more fun, there are more chances for belly laughs, more chances for growth and coffee and waiting for you.

 

 

Come

Come

What a simple word. 

I heard God’s call that night but He surely had been working on my heart long before I knew His intentions. 

Reflecting on my walk with the Lord, through various seasons of my life, I’ve noticed three things: God reveals Himself to each person in ways that are unique to our own life experiences so that we can fulfill something bigger than ourselves; God uses each of our seasons to prepare us for key moments when The Holy Spirit moves us to action; Each season of our life has an incredible purpose.

Now, if you’re like me, and you’re a “do-er," springing into action comes naturally. When things need to get accomplished, folks call me. Have a problem? Need to fix something? I’ll give it a shot pretty quickly. Tell me that I can’t do something, I’ll try even harder! Both of those, if not thought out, prayed about, acted upon to show love and give glory to God, can create windows of doubt that the enemy will slowly creep through, attacking your sense of worth and capability. 

As a woman, going down that road leads me further and further away from being able to see the beauty within another and our own hearts. Those windows of doubt allow the winds of cynicism, shame, sarcasm, judgment, and self-reliance blow into our homes. Attempting to close those windows without supernatural assistance is exhausting. The enemy doesn’t need us to stand atop mountains and deny the Lord. He just wants to keep us distracted enough that we don’t see God moving them for us. He wants our hearts disconnected so our relationships and homes suffer. I never fully understood or even desired to mend those pieces of myself until I was vulnerable enough to see how powerful the words, gazes, and hearts of women are. How much I needed kind, generous and gentle women in my life. And how ultimately, we all need each other. 

When I wrote the song "Come," I was in a full-fledged battle with thoughts of unworthiness and incapability. I had asked the Lord over and over to show me what His intentions were. I began begging for a break, to somehow steady my heart which tends to break easily. I had been rolling through the ups and downs of grief, and if you’ve also been there, you know that grief wearson you. I was tired of thinking about how hard I needed to work when I should have been cherishing the fact that broken hearts are used in incredible ways when they’re united with Christ’s love for His church. The truth is: God’s timing is perfect. It’s not cliché. It also doesn’t make things easier. It’s just the truth. Acknowledging this truth gifts us with eyes to see how the Holy Spirit continually moves and inspires us throughout all seasons of our lives - not for our own satisfaction but for the fulfillment of His desires and dreams. I had left my windows open. I had gotten distracted. 

One evening, my husband and I inconspicuously tucked ourselves in a dark pew during a worship night. Sitting in silence, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, resting my head on his shoulder. I became so peaceful and still. I began to hear the Lord speaking to me. “Come, come Danielle, your heart is tired. Rest in me.”  I listened in amazement and gratitude, hearing His voice call to me. In that moment, I felt my face light up with joy, and I was overwhelmed by Love. He knew it all… my crazy schedule, the grief, the doubt, all the tensions. He knew my heart. He knew my desires and my pain, and He wanted it all in an instant. He repeated it over and over until, like the stubborn child I have always been, I finally leaned into Him. He granted me this merciful, kind and gentle moment just so He could show me how big my heart needed to be for others and how wide my arms needed to be to accept love for myself. I claimed victory that night for my fellow sisters who feel that sting of unworthiness and lack of purpose. I reclaimed my identity as a spiritual sister for others because we are strong and powerful when we love each other well. 

Those simple words God spoke to me are a continual reminder to all of us that God calls us to rest for a reason. He’s preparing and growing us into producers of gentle and sometimes fiery love for one another. It’s what our world desperately needs. When we rest in the heart of our Father, there isn’t a season without a purpose. I hope that in whatever season you find yourself, this song inspires you to draw close to Him, that it encourages you to share His love in a deeper and more open way.

                Click the image above to listen!

             Click the image above to listen!

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