A letter to Sofia.

I didn’t know I could fall in love so fast, but baby girl, you stole my heart the moment I felt you free from inside me. The moment I saw you, that was the end. It was the end of ever thinking I could live without you.IMG_1209

And even before that I loved you. I loved you when the pregnancy test was positive. I loved you when I heard your heartbeat for the first time. (I laughed because I was so full of joy.) I loved you when I felt you kick. I loved you when my body hurt so bad that I could hardly move. I loved you when I felt fat because you were growing so big inside me. I loved you when I felt pain in my side and in my back from carrying you. I loved you with every contraction. With every bit of agony, I loved you. I loved you when I couldn’t see the end of the pain. And when it finally did end, it was so easy to forget. All I knew was how much I loved you.

I loved you then, and I love you even more now. My love for you grows with every day I know you. My love for you is more than you can fathom.

You’ve only been here for four days, but from the moment you were conceived, you were with me. Your heart beat with my blood, your bones grew with the strength I gave you. Now it’s your turn to face the world, but don’t think you’ll ever be alone. Your heart still beats with the blood I gave you and your bones will grow with the love of your daddy and I.

You will never walk alone. We’ll be here to hold you. We’ll be here to comfort you, support you, and cheer you on.

Baby girl, I wish I could tell you how much I love you, but with all the words in every language I could never find the right ones to tell you how big this love is. I hope you catch glimpses when I kiss you. I hope you can see it when I hold you close to me, when I look at you, and hope you can feel it when I tell you that I love you.

I hope you always know you’re beautiful. When you were born I couldn’t stop saying how pretty you were. “She’s so pretty,” I said to the nurse. “She’s so pretty,” I said to my mom. “She’s so pretty,” I said to your daddy. Everyone in the room knew you were beautiful, but I couldn’t stop saying it out loud. “You are beautiful,” I said to your sweet dimpled face.

I hope your heart is never broken. I hope you never get older. I hope you don’t grow too big to fit in my arms when I carry you. But a day will come when life is not easy for you. A day will come when I forget that you used to be so small. But sweet girl, you’ll always be my baby. You’ll always be my girl. You are the blood of my blood, the bones of my bones, the flesh of my flesh. You are the heart of my heart. And sweet baby girl, I will always love you.

Little one.

There’s a little one inside of me who is dying to get out. Her heart beats faster than mine, perhaps for the anticipation of the coming days when she will get to see the world. She won’t see the brokenness like I do. Not for many years anyway.

She’ll see the smile of her mommy who loves her and she’ll feel her daddy’s strong hands and know his love for her. She’ll know that her dad will always be there for her. She will meet her grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, and she’ll feel loved and adored. And as she grows, she’ll learn to smile, to laugh, to be full of joy.

She’s practicing her future-goal-making kicks, and stretching her limbs to the edge of her small home. She’s growing her eyebrows and the lids that cover her beautiful eyes. God only knows if she’ll have chocolate eyes like her daddy or green eyes like her mom, and only time will tell. She’s learning how to hear her daddy sing and her heartbeat is growing stronger. Soon he’ll be able to hear the heart that is growing inside his little girl.

I dream that this little one will love to see the world as much as her mom and dad, and that she’ll find other things to be passionate about — maybe she’ll love soccer like her Uncle Seth, photography like Uncle Nathan, or music like her Aunt Lucy. Or maybe she won’t love any of those things. She’ll learn to love whatever God puts in her heart and she’ll be passionate about it in her own way.

There are two heart beats inside of me. Two brains. Two souls. There’s a little one that’s growing inside of me, and I can’t wait to meet her.

Sofia Anariba, coming August 31, 2013.

Where I’m from.

I am from postcards and scarves, from Polly Pockets and Keds shoes.

I am from the little town in the suburbs of Seattle, where there is my little blue house with white trim, and the big maple tree in the backyard where we would climb as kids and pretend to be cowboys and Indians.

I am from the cherry trees, forget-me-nots, and running through the sprinkler on a hot summer day in the cool, summery grass.

I am from years of memories at Christmas tree farms and Chinese dinners on Christmas Eve. I am from big German noses and brown hair; from Woodwards and Borcherdts and the step grandfather who was always my own grandpa.

I am from belly-aching laughter and striking up conversation with strangers.

From snow days with my best friends, from sledding and snowmen and hot chocolate by the fire. I am from summers at Lincoln Rock State Park and sleeping under the stars that were more than I could comprehend.

I am from a faith in the Lord that never fails, from the truth that is above all truth, and from a peace that surpasses all understanding. I am from an unconditional love that has give me my life, my breath, and my joy.

I’m from the great city of Seattle because of the day my great grandparents decided to leave Germany.

I’m from melt-in-your-mouth, right-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and mouth-watering blackberry cobbler.

From the road trips to Salem, Oregon to see my aunt and uncle, and waking up to the aroma of Uncle Tom’s breakfast, and playing with their dogs, Luke and Chase and Gabe. From drinking tea on the leather sofas while we sat and talked because our lives were never uninteresting to them.

I am from a half dozen albums of photos of camping trips and birthday parties, childish imagination and ballet recitals; from my grandmother’s antiques, memories from a woman who no longer lives; from my mother’s teapot and dish collections, memories from her childhood to mine; from memories that weren’t saved on a hard drive or a memory card, but in mementos I kept in a shoe box, trinkets from my youth that I couldn’t let go.

I am. And this is where I’m from.

Blurring lines.

A cold blanket covers the ground in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Though I’m not there, I am not blind to the Facebook posts about (hopes of) canceled school and crazy drivers. I used to love the snow — waking up to the scrolling announcements on the TV screen, “Edmonds School District: Closed,” hurrying to dress in snow clothes, and running outside to make footprints in the undisturbed snow. I used to love the snow, but I as I grow up, all I want to do is cuddle up on the couch with some coffee and a good movie. Sure it’s beautiful, but it’s also cold. And I can’t stand the cold.

But there is one thing I do love about the snow: its ability to blur the lines.

When snow covers the ground, driving in the middle of the road becomes acceptable. Traffic laws are lost for a while, so long as you do what you can to stay safe.

Lines are blurred between strangers where strangers become neighbors and neighbors become old friends. Small talk on the bus connects once different worlds and laughter in the grocery store erases lines between guarded hearts. Neighbors help each other on the road where cars are stuck. Old friends bond over sledding and hours of lounging in front of the fireplace. Over hot chocolate, hearts are shared and relationships grow.

And time. One of the most difficult parts of North American culture for me is time. Americans are trapped by these lines. But when it snows, being late to work is acceptable, not showing up to class is excusable or encouraged, buses are late, or running on a different schedule. We run on a different clock when it snows. None of these times is considered “late” during snow. It is normal, acceptable, excusable, even welcomed.

It’s at a time like this when I wonder what other lines could be blurred? Or what other lines should be blurred? Maybe it’s time we started looking and start blurring so we can keep on loving like we were created to do.

The most vulnerable part of my heart.

I’m moving! The Art of Losing is moving to Heart of the Tico, my new website/blog where I will post everything about my life and ministry in Costa Rica. I will stop posting links here after the next few blogs posts, so please subscribe over there! It’s the same me, same writing, just a different space. I love you all and would love to take you all with me when I move.

___

The most vulnerable part of my heart.

I was in fourth grade when I became reserved. I have memories of my younger childhood when I would run around the playground chasing kindergarten boys, giggling about the third graders holding hands down the slide, and playing with friends on the monkey bars.

But when I got into fourth grade it changed. I had a few friends, but really there was only one best friend — Heather. I remember feeling alone in groups of people and feeling like I wasn’t enough. I felt like I couldn’t do things well enough whether it was in sports, music, or academics (though I was very smart). I stopped trying because I always thought I would fail. With everything. Fifth grade was pretty much the same, but sixth grade was much worse.

And this is the part where I share the most vulnerable part of my heart that I have only ever talked about with a few close friends (four, to be exact). When I was in sixth grade my stress, anxiety, and depression were awful. One Wednesday night after church (Missionettes, aka “Jesus’ Girl Scouts”) I went into the bathroom and plucked out my eyelashes. Usually this is the part where people laugh. What?! They are astounded that anyone would do something so strange. Yeah, I know. I am too.

But one by one, I tried to make the rows of lashes even. I don’t know why it was my eyelashes except that maybe it’s because it was something I could control. I could control the perfect lines of my lashes and eyebrows, trying to make them perfect, unlike the craziness of my life that I couldn’t control — my mom’s depression, my parent’s fighting, my dad yelling at my older brother. I couldn’t stop those things.

It didn’t make me any more perfect once they were all gone. Instead it made me full of shame. I was the funny-looking girl with ugly eyes. I looked like that for months because when they started to grow back, I would pluck them again — still feeling a sense of stress-relief.

It was at this time in sixth grade that I withdrew from everything. I felt uncomfortable talking to people. I felt unwanted and alone. I felt invisible. My depression worsened, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t have a name for the feelings I had.

When I was 16 I told my mom that I was depressed and she told me it was just because I was a teenager. My mask was good. I became very good at lying. Not even my mom who also suffered from depression could see it in me. Fast forward five more years, to my junior year of college — just last spring. I cried multiple times a day. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t force myself to get out of bed to do anything. I wanted to be sucked up into a black hole and disappear. Sometimes I would dream of falling asleep and not waking up for 10 years, just so life would be different.

I went to a counselor at SPU and she told me that I seemed like a very strong person, despite the many hard things in my life. The counselor told me I was fine. Even though I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Even though i couldn’t make it a day without crying. Even though I felt hopeless in every area of my life.

Finally I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with severe depression. There is a test they had me take that has a scale of 40-70. If you are at 50 or less, you’re normal. At 60, you are depressed. At 70, you are considered severely depressed to the point of being suicidal. I scored 78.

I have been on antidepressants for a year now. There are some days I still feel it, but the depression is no where close to what it has been. Most days I feel normal, praise the Lord!

But I know there are other people — other young women — who still struggle with depression like I do. When I was 16, I wrote this (probably to showcase on Myspace):

[11 Jul 2006 | Tuesday] if I had one wish

If I had one wish: I would wish that my future self would come back and tell me how stupid and insignificant high school drama is.
and because we all know wishes don’t come true, I’m stuck dreaming and hating and wishing and crushing over insignificant things that wont matter in 5 years. but the thing is, right now, they matter.

Well, they matter to me.

to everyone else they are just as stupid as they will be to me in a few years. so why do I find myself crying over things that don’t matter?

As I read it now, my heart aches. There is nothing I can do to change my past, but there are other aching, 16-year-old hearts that I can choose to see and choose to love. I desperately wanted someone to lead me and teach me and see me. But where was the future-me? Where was the girl I could look up to and who would tell me that high school drama wasn’t everything?

Teens don’t have to feel alone, but it takes adults to step into that loneliness to make a difference. It takes YOU to step into a youth’s life. That is my purpose in Costa Rica. I have observed in Costa Rica that it’s more difficult because Latinos are not used to being vulnerable and sharing their hearts. (Many American teens aren’t either.) That is why I’m going. I’m going to love and encourage these young girls who think they are alone. They’re not. And you’re not. And we need to show the world that.

The stars don’t beg to be seen.

There wasn’t much to say that night that wasn’t already hanging in the air. She knew he saw it in her eyes, just as she could feel in his chest where her head rested and ears listened. She listened intently to the molecules circulating in him, pumping steadily the life that was ever-changing him and making him new.

They both knew it, but they wouldn’t give these emotions the decency of being put to words. It’s a shame, really. They would have been beautiful had they been uttered. But for now, those words would remain in her eyes and in his chest. Tonight was not the night for those words. Perhaps another night, or maybe not. Maybe those words were to forever remain there, hanging in the air, just as the stars hung in the same place in the sky, night after night, never wandering, never worrying about where to hang tomorrow. Just like the stars, those words were constant. They didn’t need to be seen or heard to be known. They just were and they would be tomorrow too.

She raised her head slightly to look at him, inquisitive of his thoughts, hoping to catch a glimpse of them in his cafe-colored eyes. The creases around his eyes etched a smile into his face as his eyes focused in on hers, wondering what her questioning eyes could want. His nose brushed hers and his deep, brown eyes asked for a kiss. But with her lips lightly pressed against his, she just smiled. To not only see it, but to feel a smile against yours, knowing that you are the reason for that grin — it’s perfect.

She pulled her face away from his and found his eyes again. She brushed her hands through his hair, kissed his cheek, and laid her ear against his chest where it had been before.

Words weren’t necessary, but he decided it was rude to leave them hanging around.

I love you, he whispered, but she already knew.

I love you too, she said, though he’d already seen it in her eyes.

The stars don’t beg to be seen, nor did those words beg to be spoken.

You know the stars will always be there, hanging in the sky just as they did yesterday, but you look anyway. Beauty doesn’t need to ask to be desired. It is because it is. And though there wasn’t anything to be said that night that they didn’t already know, those words were spoken.

They didn’t need to say anything at all, but it would have been rude to leave such beautiful words just hanging there.

To love the one you cannot love.

The one where I’m brutally honest about something I’ve never posted in public.

How do you love a man who brings knots to your stomach and silence to your lips
whose voice makes your insides cringe and your outsides stiff…

who lies through his teeth, telling the world his beautiful lies,
claiming to provide,
though your family collects unemployment checks from the government
and groceries from the food bank
while he sits on the couch for 10 hours a day…

Not a care,
Not a worry,
No guilt,
And still no job applications…

How do you love a man whom you have always feared
to put you on the streets,
or in the hospital,
or in the grave,
though realistically, probably only from a broken heart
and shattered expectations…

How do you love the man who called you a rebellious liar,
a child, a runaway,
when you followed your dream,
and believed in what the Lord could do through the passion in your soul…

How do you love the man who calls himself a lover of God,
yet lies to his friends,
his church,
his family,
himself,

Whose anger you know better than his love,
whose yell you recall more closely than words of affirmation,
whose eyes have never seemed kind

and whose hands have always been an enemy,
instead of a
counselor
protector
comforter…

How do you love the man who has made you cry,
more than he’s made you laugh,
whose blood runs through your veins,
but whom you fear to call your father?

—–

How did he forgive them men who betrayed him for silver,
who mocked him,
beat him,
lied about him,
killed him?

How did He love the ones who could not be loved?

Five-minute Friday: Real.

Go.

I’m sitting in the lounge at SPU, feeling the very real warmth of the fireplace upon my cheeks as my afternoon begins.

Kari Jobe sings though my headphones, “You’re here. You’re real. I know I can trust You. Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart. You steady my heart.”

And I rest in the reality that God is real with me. I don’t have to question that I can trust him or that he is going to tell me the truth. I don’t have to question his motives or if he is going to keep his promises.

People often let us down. They hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally. Hearts break, people break, friendships break. We can feel so sure and still be hurt, still be let down. But God is not like that. He does not disappoint. He is the friend who is always real and true.

Yesterday I had this thought: I hate when people think that when friendship gets hard, it’s over. No, sir. When friendship gets hard, it gets real.

And isn’t it beautiful that Christ’s strength is magnified in our weakness. His love overflows on us when we feel unloved. When my life gets hard, I don’t feel the absence of God. That’s when God is closest. That is when his love is most real.

It’s not over when it gets hard. That’s when it gets real.

Done.

My conqueror.

I’ve gotta be honest… the past couple weeks that I’ve been home in Seattle have been incredibly difficult. Most days it has felt like my life is falling apart, — my life here in Seattle and my life in San Jose.

I talked with a friend today and he put into words this overwhelming feeling that I’ve had for about a year now, a feeling that increases with every day — it’s the feeling of having two lives. I really do. I have a life here in Seattle that involves my past and my present, my family, my friends, church, school, and my job. This is the life I have here, right now. But there is another life I live, a life in San Jose, Costa Rica. The life with my other family, my other friends, my church, my future and my passion.

My life here doesn’t know my life there, not really. And my life there doesn’t know my life here. It breaks my heart in two. There is a piece of me that will always and forever be in Seattle and now also a piece of me that will forever and always be in Costa Rica.

And right now it feels like both of them are breaking, going through trials, being tested in the most difficult ways. Being here doesn’t make it easy to support my friends and family in San Jose. That is incredibly difficult for my heart. But I know my place is here for now. I have a purpose here. And God must know what he’s doing.

With my heart stretched so far, I feel the signs of depression creeping in again. I’m struggling in school, with balancing time, with loving people who have broken my heart, and being a supportive friend, sister and daughter. This is a season in my life and this too will pass, but right now it’s tough to persevere.

For those of you who have been praying, today and yesterday I feel better. Not whole; not nearly. But I feel better. More peace; more joy; more motivation. I feel your prayers dancing around me. I feel the Lord sending himself to my heart, to quiet and calm her. Thank you for walking with me. I truly cherish all those who walk with my heart.

Keep praying, friends. God is a conqueror, and I know he will win these battles for me. Let God be my strength forever and ever.

Regalito.

This was me yesterday… at the airport, hugging my best friends, trying not to cry, saying goodbye until September…

But then a funny thing happened… this morning I woke up in Costa Rica again.

The short story is this: I was supposed to go home yesterday at 2pm, but they gave away my ticket an hour before departure because I was 5 minutes late for check-in. Stupid, I know. They wouldn’t even let me check in. I met a guy who had been waiting on stand-by since Tuesday and he helped me figure out everything about my flight. All the flights were overbooked and they wanted to charge $150 for switching my flight and putting me on standby for next week. I said no. I was not about to pay a fee for them taking away my ticket. If I wanted a confirmed seat, I had to pay extra, and I wouldn’t do that either. Eventually I argued my way out of the $150 fee and said I would wait on standby on Tuesday.

So, I’m in Costa Rica until Tuesday, at least. I have a very good chance of going home on Tuesday because there are many open spaces on the plane, but it is not guaranteed. Luckily, I have wonderful friends who were willing to come back to the airport and pick me up (Gracias Jota and Josue!) and I have a home here, so I have a bed and food, and everything I would ever need.

It’s hardest on my family at home in Seattle, I know that. For me, 3 extra days in Costa Rica is a blessing. It is a gift from God to my heart. But I know my mom and dad and brothers are wishing I was home right now, waking up in Seattle.

I’ll be home in Seattle soon enough. For now, know that everything is fine, I’ll be home when I can, and I’m going to enjoy these 2 more days I have in Costa Rica.

Hasta pronto, Seattle!