Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

My Little Edison

You have probably heard me say that Griffen is my quirkiest child.  This is true, he is about as different as different can be.  Griff is his own little man, always has been.  His brain works overtime, and from the outside his thoughts seem quite random.  To call him an independent thinker is an understatement.  He is something like hyper, just busy I guess, and smart as whip but unconventional as heck.  His cleverness often comes across as arrogance and his internal processing makes him seem aloof. 

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When he started Kindergarten his teacher had him tested for both ADHD and dyslexia.  He’s a brilliant kid though, so he passed both tests with flying colors.  Honestly it left us all a little unsure about what to do with his inventive but off track mind, enormous appetite for information and constantly moving body.   

Some God help and a little research helped me discover that Griff has something called Edison Trait.  What does that mean exactly, well- “They are spirited individuals who live life with passion and determination, firing out an endless stream of questions and often recklessly pursuing their own desires (like Edison, who wanted to see how fire worked and accidentally burned his father’s barn to the ground). They are conundrums, children with a profile that is both intriguing and maddening.  These children are appealing, daring and entertaining. Yet they are frustrating, demanding and difficult to raise.  Their temperament and intellectual style will shake the stamina of the most devoted and patient parent. “Forget mom doing anything except challenging this child.  These kids are physically and mentally hyper; they can’t shut off their minds.” 

Indeed.

My heart soared and sank all at once.  The first thing I thought was “Awesome, I get to raise a little Edison!” the second thing was, “Great, he’s not going to grow out of all this off track, out of the ordinary stuff.”  That was five years ago.  And he certainly has not grown out of it.  He has sort of grown into it.  I’ve implemented some of the boundaries, behavioral and dietary suggestions recommended for Edison Trait kiddos, and that has certainly helped. 

But the thing that has helped the most has been to really embrace what a unique kid he is.  He is fully entertaining and extremely bright.  And as he is maturing, our conversations are more and more enlightening.  He’s a vocal kid, in touch with his emotions and his vocabulary is endless.  His invention notebooks take over an entire bookshelf.  This year he was fortunate enough to get an amazing teacher.  I’m forever getting notes that say “I so enjoy Griffen!” and “What an awesome kid!”  It’s been sweet for sure to see him blossom and develop as he’s been not only accepted but affirmed by the people around him.    

So often in the past my fear has been that he would get lost in all the Go Go Going! Of his mind.  It can be a challenge for him to relate well to others because he is so internally busy.  My heart has ached for him as he's had to work through some tough issues.  God has really helped me put it all in perspective though.  I've struggled with wanting to help him steward his gifts, trying to explain the importance of listening and being respectful, and making sure he doesn’t feel all wrong or inadequate. There is honestly a careful balance for me between being enthralled with his brilliance and wit, and getting absolutely frustrated at his lack of focus and attention. 

This handing my worries and fears about my kids over to God has been somewhat revolutionary with Griffen especially.  It’s freed me up to see him for him.  I can understand his uncommon strengths and weaknesses, and lay aside my frustrations to help him with his.  And he in turn has become more secure and easier to connect with.  We laugh together often, mostly at his jokes.  Where there was sometimes tenseness in me and insecurity in him about his quirks, there is now a confidence. 

He is exactly the kid God created him to be.  And to further confirm that, here are his notes from church last week:

"Hear and obey faith is the foundation God wants us to believe him. Faith is believing no matter what. God wants us to immerse our faith in him. the book of Salma's has over 100 Iwills in it. Note to self have great battles and victory. God delivers everyone. Believe in god t'ill the end. assignment: read John. I can prophesie"

I don't even know how to explain how melted my heart was when I read that.  And then last night we had this conversation:

Me: You're a smart kid, you know that Griff?
Griff: Yes, actually I'm one of those people that is aware of their intelligence.
Me: Well you do you know why you are so intelligent?
Griff: Because I'm good at transferring information into knowledge.
Me: Okay.  And how do you think you're able to do that?
Griff: Basic logic and quick wit. 
Me: Okay. And where do you think you got those?
Griff: Are you trying to get me to say that you're smarter than me?
Me: **Sigh** No. I'm trying to get you to acknowledge that God gave you your intelligence.
Griff: Well of course He did. He gave me everything. He made me. He made everything.

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I love, love, love that I get to be his mom.  I love that he came to me just last week, put his arm around me and said “I’m glad I get to be your son.”  I love that imperfect as we both are, we are exactly who God created us to be and becoming more so all the time. 

 

 

February 25, 2011

My Princess

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She was born with a tiara, that’s what I say about my Emmy.  She is maybe the girliest girl in the whole wide world.  And I have no idea where she got it from.  I was more like Grace when I was little, always Going! And Doing!  And I certainly wasn’t girly; I spent my childhood wearing the knees out of my jeans and my teenage years in giant hoodies. 

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She is not me though, thank goodness, she is very much herself.  And she is wonderful, magnificent really at just Being. She is calm, quiet, shy, and princessy.   She is creative, patient, loving and expressive, and she is a dreamer. For two hours she sat at my feet the other day, creating cards, trinkets and love notes.  Mostly silent, with nothing but paper, scissors a pencil and some glue, she poured herself into making things for other people.  Taking her time, with her heart and hands, she put Love and words on paper.  She is such a giver. 

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She inspires me.  My little Princess has taught me so much about what it means to be a girl.  She exudes femininity.  She inherently knows how to just be herself, and just be loved.  She honors her own beauty, posses it really.  And she honors mine.  With slight glances, hinted grins and love notes, she gives out a beautiful sweetness and light that I am still learning about.  

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I think I could wax poetic all day about patience and beauty and creating and pouring oneself out.  I could go all metaphorical about the window and mirror that she is.  I could list endlessly the ways she has blessed me, write pages of what she has taught me.  Instead I will just say- Thank you Emma, for being you.      

February 24, 2011

Giving Up

A good cry, an ugly cry was sneaking up on me. There was a little lump in my throat, small tear here and there, and deep sighs galore.  So I got my jammies on, got a glass of water and went to brush my teeth.  And then I turned towards my bed, saw the place where I wanted to land and fell into it. I lay there, toothbrush in hand, sobbing, choking on toothpaste and tears. 

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Carrying around my whole entire world has kind of been my thing.  I’ve learned to set it down now, thank goodness.  It used to chase me around, the responsibility of it all, begging to be held.  And sometimes it seemed easier to pick it up, sling it on my hip, or throw it over my shoulders than to keep telling it to go.  The thing is, I knew it so well, if I did pick it up I’d forget I was toting it around until I noticed the pain in my back.  So learning to give it up, practicing giving it up, has been good.

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Responsibility is a good thing to carry sometimes I know, but it weighs me down when I let it.  If I’m not careful, every hard thing around me will climb onto my back.  Not a welcomed burden at all, familiar though. I recognize now more quickly than I did in the past when the heaviness sets in.  I’ve become accustomed to handing things over to Him.  I've learned to love the feel of walking a little lighter, a little taller.  I held onto this lie for so long though, believing that I was in charge of holding the world, my world at least together.    

Up until sometime last year, I thought that every bad thing that’s ever happened to me and people around me was my fault.  All the big and small things that have torn, cut and broken, only happened because I caused them to.  More precisely I thought that they happened because there was something awful in me that called out to evil.  Little-Me, Teenage-Me, Grown-up-Me too, we all thought we were covered in the shame of our wrongs and wrongs done to us.  I thought the visibility of it left me marked forever with depravity, a glowing target for Badness.  And let me tell you, that’s quite a cumbersome load to bear.  Also, it's quite a lie to denounce.

Oh and before I found all this Freedom, pain of all kinds from all different places felt like it was mine to carry.  If I found hurt sitting on a friend, I would take it.  If they resisted I would insist.  “Let me take that for you. It’s fine; I don’t mind at all.”  And it was true, I hardly knew the difference between my own grief and someone else’s; it was all the same to me.  Really I thought, “What’s the use in someone else feeling hurt if I can feel it for them and they can be free of it?”  Silly? Yes, but an honest glimpse into my silly self.  I am wiser now though, a little.  I’ve learned that all this shame and pain is not for me hold.  And I am glad to let it go, Free-er for having handed it to Him.

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There are these other Responsibilities though, four of them that I am carrying around.  There are Four Lives that I have been entrusted with.  And I am not looking to pawn them off on anyone at all.  But I think maybe I am supposed to grip them less tightly, not walk around white-knuckled with anxiety.  I think the worry lines in my face wouldn’t run quite so deep if I trusted Him more with them. 

It’s tricky though because I understand that I am their mother and so raising them is my job.  And I am honored to have that privilege.  But the thing is, I’ve spent so much of the past couple of years feeling like I have to be their Everything.  I feel like I have to be Mother and Father.  I’ve felt mostly… oh geez, fine, I will tell you what I told Him last night- I felt both incapable of being their Everything and unwilling to fully entrust them to Him all at the same time. 

Mostly I think I do an okay job.  But then sometimes I think, they deserve better than ok.  I think they deserve amazing, and some days I am just too tired to be amazing.  I think they deserve the best Mom in the whole world, and I try to be that but fall short on a regular basis.  And then well, I think they deserve the best Dad in the whole world.  And while on some level I get that I can’t be that for them, it hasn’t stopped me from trying.  And it certainly hasn’t stopped me from hating that I couldn’t be that.

You know what I mean?  Providing for, nurturing and protecting These Four outstanding human beings, physically, emotionally and spiritually, that’s kind of a lot sometimes.  It’s too much really, more than I can… more than I am supposed to bear.  I trust Jesus with me and my stuff.  I have given over the weight of all the messiness I’ve experienced.  I’ve stopped taking on other people’s pain.  But giving Him complete control means letting Him be in control of Our Life.  Last night I realized- I hang on to this fear that they won’t have Enough because I can’t be Enough.  It’s a lie born out of a lie and I’m done with it.    

I’ve worn myself out the last few weeks.  They’ve had to deal with some big things and in the midst of dealing with my own big things, I’ve tried to help them.  My attempts at being Mom and Dad of the Year have left me all kinds of exhausted.  I’ve beat myself up when I’ve fallen short and I’ve put off dealing with my own stuff in favor of distraction and self loathing.  And that’s wrong.  So I’m going to stop it. 

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I am not supposed to be their Everything.  He is supposed to be their Everything, just like He is mine.  And the best thing I can do for them is to teach them that.  And the best way to teach them that is by letting Him have more of me and in turn, letting Him have more of them.  I am supposed to be their mother.  And I think maybe I’ll be a much better mother if I let go of the other stuff.  Worrying, struggling and beating myself up are nothing but distractions from what I should be doing.  They are excuses really to blame myself and start the whole cycle over again. 

So last night, in my bed, curled up in tears, messy and tired, I gave up.  I confessed all this crap.  I asked Him for help with this load.  And that He would help me understand more and more, the difference between my job and His job.  I held out my hands, let go of the protection and control that I had been gripping so tightly.  I asked for forgiveness and received His Love.  And this morning, rainy though it was, seemed much more hopeful.  And now the sun is out, so that’s good.         

 

 

February 21, 2011

This Process

Divorce sucks; I know.  I think Elizabeth Gilbert put it best when she said “it’s like being in a really bad car accident every single day for about two years.”  It nearly killed me multiple times.  I have come through it though, by the Grace of God and with the help of my Amazing Friends.  (Holy cow it took so much for me to get here, and even more for me to have enough perspective to actually write about it), but I feel like I can safely say- Though I never wanted to be divorced, there is no part of me that wants that marriage.

To spare you all the gory details I will just say it was a long, horrid end to a sometimes super shallow, occasionally heartbreakingly beautiful relationship.  We were a dangerous mix of passionately devoted high school sweethearts and outrageously reckless enemies.  It was an all too addicting cycle of rage and immature love.  We became each others idols, and though I would never in a million years recommend divorce, breaking out of that cycle was the best thing I’ve ever done.    

You should know this guy was the first person I ever perceived to love me selflessly.  I’ve said before that my heart has known that Jesus loves me since I was itty bitty and this is true; God’s love and grace carried and covered little me through many terrible circumstances.  My crappy childhood though, left me believing that humans were incapable of loving me.   When this guy loved me, well I placed my entire world in his hands.  And he was only a sixteen year old boy at the time, and I a fifteen year old girl.  And so the most codependent relationship in the world was born.  And then it died.  (Which is for the best, trust me.  Also, the actual reason behind the divorce is really a small detail in the story; and I feel it totally unnecessary to justify this decision to the world, so I will leave it out.)

Having made it to the other side of this mess though, I thought I would share a little about how I got here, (hopefully you can follow along with my mostly neurotic explanation)- 

I’ve talked to you about my Inner Voice before.  She’s not the brightest Inner Voice, a little harsh, a little judgmental, but she’s what I got.  I’m working on softening her and have learned to take her to God, thank goodness.  But a lot of my conversations (with myself) in the first couple of months went like this:

Inner Voice: Well, I guess you will just have to give up on men. All they do is hurt you. As a matter of fact I am pretty sure that is all they are good for. 
Me: What?! No! I love men.
Inner Voice: Okay dummy. They do not love you; they just want to sleep with you and hurt you.
Me: Seriously?
Inner Voice: Yep, look (queue long memory reel of guys who have done their best to prove this point to me)
Me: Crap. You’re right. Now what?
Inner Voice: Stay away from them completely.
Me: Ugh. That does not sound awesome at all.
Inner Voice: What’s your other option?
Me: Get crushed again?
Inner Voice: Yep. Also, the father of your children? Everything he ever did or said was evil. 
Me: What?! What about the good stuff?
Inner Voice: It was all wrong.
Me: (deep sigh) Okay, I guess you’re right.

Maybe I am the only one who has had this sort of experience with divorce, but I think maybe not.  I will say this, I do love men, for many, many reasons.  And I do have a few good ones in my life.  So (with help from God, friends and counseling) I worked out a plan to convince myself not to totally shut down towards every male in the universe.  I spent time with Jesus on a regular basis, and I intentionally spent time with the great men that God put in my life.  It was extremely helpful to experience safety and love in a male context while going through separation and divorce. 

But I couldn’t shake the idea that the first person to ever selflessly love me was wrong and everything he ever did or said was wrong.  Honestly, it wrecked me daily.  It proved my twelve year old self right and took me back to thinking I was totally unlovable.  If the one person who made me feel loved had decided he hated me, then all hope was lost.  If everything he said and did was wrong then all the kindness and affirmation I got from him was wrong, and all the truths that he spoke about my heart, hands, mind, eyes, smile and everything else were wrong. 

Also, if everything was wrong, then because I had given him authority to shape and therefore destroy my identity, it was going to have to be rebuilt from scratch.  The hard thing about that was, it’s hard to see the truth about yourself when you are feeling awful all the time and your identity is twisted and misshapen.  If you hand somebody your whole world and they say in a loving embrace, “You are so breathtakingly gorgeous, and the way you mother is so tender and good it touches my soul”, and then in a frenzied blowup they say, “You are wretched and I hate everything about you from your body to your words, especially your words”, well, let’s just say it gets a little confusing.   

God was going to have to tell me about my value and worth; that was my only hope.  And I was going to have to let Him; it was the best option I could come up with.  So on a daily basis, sometimes mentally and sometimes on paper, God and I made a list.  He pointed things out and helped me separate facts from falsehoods.  Almost in spreadsheet form, He helped me discover truths.  “You are beautiful inside and out.”  “You are worthy of more than just sex.”  “Don’t shut down to everyone.  Don’t shut down to men.  Don’t shut down to intimacy.”  “Your body is my dwelling place, take care of it, but it’s not about being skinny.”  “Your mind and words are a gift, but they can be misused.”  “I gave you these children because you are the best mother for them, not perfect, but chosen.”  I meditated, journaled, prayed, grieved and rejoiced.  On and on He pursued me, spoke to me and answered question after question with Love. 

One truth at a time, through reading the Bible, spending time with Him, listening and agreeing, I came to understand who I was in Him.  Together we sorted things out.  Tricky business, and I am not professing to have it all figured out, but I am much clearer on Him and me than I was. 

Sure it would have been best if I hadn’t let that guy define me, I know.  I understand the importance of not letting people shape my identity now, hindsight is twenty twenty and all that jazz.  And certainly there were many other things that helped me work out this complicated mess.  Every helpful step that was made though was a step towards Him.  I’m not saying that I made all the right steps at all.  I fell a few times for sure, ran in the opposite direction more than once, but I always came back to Him because nothing else ever came close to His words.   It was all very “Redeeming Love” really. 

The whole process was so tough, exhausting sometimes, but so much more than worth it.  And now that I have made it through and have a little perspective, I am ever so grateful that He allowed me to come to Him and work all this out.  I’m glad for the opportunity to spend time with Him and learn from Him.  I understand that I am still in process, hope to forever be.  And I'm happy to have Him tell me who I am all the time.  Thankful that He is willing to sit with me, talk to me help, me heal and Love me. 

A man that I respect very much grabbed me by the arm a couple of weeks ago.  He looked me in the eyes and said affirming things to me.  It was a kind of revolutionary, just some more redemption I guess.  My experience has not been that being snatched up by a man generally leads to hearing kind things.  That is exactly what he did though.  And thankfully I was smart enough to stand there and let him, I even glanced up at him occasionally.  I don’t know that that would have been the case if God had not already been graciously, tenderly, mercifully sowing seeds in me.  It was a testament to the Freedom I have received for sure.  It was a confirmation of His Love at work in my life.    

Anyway I say all this to say- He is ready, willing, wanting to do the same thing with You.  And I highly recommend letting Him.     

February 18, 2011

Believing

(Note: This is a most incomplete thought, and only about a tenth of what I have written on this subject in the last two days…trust me, much more to come…)

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I kind of hate my smile, true story.  Check my profile pics, you won’t find a toothy grin I promise.  The tricky thing is, in real life people don’t just rummage through my Facebook page- they see me.  The other tricky thing is, I laugh a lot.  And I laugh big and loud; I can’t help it.  And so, my smile is mostly all over the place and there is nothing I can do about it.  Tricky thing number three, I discount my beauty because of it.        

Griff said something funny the other day, as he does.  I laughed and then Gabe, my Sweet One said “Mom, your teeth are big.”  I replied with a sarcastic little “Thanks buddy.”  It wasn’t that my feelings were hurt, it was more of a mocking little acknowledgement that I was right.  It was a nod to my own silly notion that my big giant, eye hiding, face swallowing, big teeth baring smile somehow made me less beautiful.  He cocked his head to the side and then, my eight year old boy, my Sweet One, grabbed my face in both of his hands and got very close to me and said “You. Are a beautiful woman.” And he meant it with all of him; I could feel it.  He wasn't discounting my beauty and didn't want me to either.  What a gift. 

How often do we disqualify our beauty like that though?  I can not tell you how many times I have sat with a woman while she looked through her photos and criticized herself.  I have heard the most outrageously gorgeous women tear themselves apart. I’ve done it too, I’m too fat, too thin, my ears look funny with my hair like that…  I’ve said it all.  But really, can we stop this? I mean, it’s pointless. 

Look, I am going to try to love my smile a little more.  Actually, for a couple reasons, I am going to just go right ahead and believe that I am beautiful.   

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First- because Gabe Sees well and he speaks the truth.  I recognize this gift in him and it is beyond important to me to call out the greatness I see in my kiddos.  He is blessed with vision and the ability to speak honestly with boldness, and I want to encourage him to do that as often as possible. 

Also, I’m believing because I want to.  Honestly, who doesn’t want to have their face taken in and told they are beautiful?  When I tell my girls, (and fyi, I try to throw in smart, funny and brave just as often as I say beautiful), they do not hesitate to agree.  Never has Emmy said, “Oh, but my hair looks awful today.” And Grace has certainly never given pause to the thought that she is anything but wonderfully radiant.  I hate that we lose the ability to see ourselves as the lovely creations we are.  The truth is, regardless of your perceived “flaws” (I hate that word), you were created in the image of God and you are amazingly captivating.      

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I’m not going to ask some cliché questions like “When do we stop believing people when they tell us we are beautiful?”  I am aware of all the ways that we can become jaded, all the lies that are thrown at us, and all the imperfections that these damn magnifying mirrors draw out.  And hey, shout out to all the females who do believe.  But man, I so wish I could make every woman believe.  Goodness, I so want to figure out a way to help us all love ourselves a little more…  I’m not going to name any names, but Lady, Friend, Sister, Girl, Woman-  You. Are beautiful. 

 

February 16, 2011

Kisses

(Word of warning: this is mushy and gushy and lovey dovey, and there is almost no point to it except to express my absolute, unending adoration for Him and His sweet kisses.  Also, no pictures again, because this is not about me and it is also not some nature/tree metaphor. This is about Him and how amazing He is.)

Kisses, how I love them… even typing the word is fun.  I wrote this poem the other day in a little moment of wanting… Valentines Day and all that jazz… 

This subject keeps coming up though.  A friend of mine did exclaim the other day while eating an especially scrumptious treat “I think me and God just had a little mini make-out session.”  Another friend wrote on someone’s Facebook wall, “Like kisses from heaven this season and you are to my life.”

And then there is this line in one of my favorite songs that keeps getting changed up-  “And Heaven meets earth like a… some kind of… kiss”.  Some versions say sloppy wet, some say passionate, one says unforeseen.  I like passionate best, but it still falls short…

Can we talk about kisses from heaven?  Is that cool?  Can we talk about what amazing treats they are?  Am I gonna lose you if I go all sensual about God?  Am I allowed to say He is the realest thing I know, and sometimes when He expresses His love generously, as He is known to do, in quiet moments, with softness and grace, it not only suppresses, but fulfills every earthly desire I have.  And sometimes, He just absolutely melts me.  I’m not going to play out the whole intimacy metaphor here, but this kiss thing, I gotta get it out.  I will do my best not to get all Lover of my soul with you, I’ll save that for another time; I’m going to try to keep it to just kisses…  And I’m going to try to explain these kisses without using metaphors and quotation marks because they are so much more than real. 

How do I begin really?  How do you explain what a kiss is?  This meeting of lips, sometimes parting of lips, declaration of True Love, most intimate of expressions… I will spare you all the little adjectives, (for now), and just say- He relates to me this way.  (And I am ever so glad that He does.)  In my house, in my room, cup, Bible, pen, journal, mascara or blanket in hand- He comes in, and whispers, breathes, sees, holds and ::sigh:: kisses me.  You still with me?  Know what I mean?  Raise your hand out there if you’ve ever experienced one of these passionate, sloppy wet, unforeseen moments with Him.  Goodness it is wonderful.  Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about, maybe you don’t even want to relate to God this way- Oh but you should.  I’m telling you, its bliss. 

Do you know that moment in a kiss, a good kiss, when you get lost?   That brief span of time when you’re eyes are closed and you aren’t even paying attention to what you’re doing anymore, you’re just there, unaware of the whole rest of the world, caught up in (oh look here come all of those adjectives I was trying to spare you of), warmth, softness, sweetness, breath, movement… all doing their things, and you’re just along for the ride? 

God can do that; He does.  I have been lost completely in His presence, surrounded by all of those things.  I have been mesmerized by His closeness.  I have been kissed by Him.  Not that lusty kissing; not that handsy mess of wanting.  I’m talking about a knowing, giving kissing, that ILOVEYOUSOMUCH! Let me show you right now LOVELOVELOVE!!! kind of  kissing. 

Look, analogies aside, because He is the realest thing I know- On dark nights, on bright afternoons, with light and words, and ground and sky, He has held me tightly, in the tenderest hands, leaned in close and breathed right into my being.  In packed rooms, in my car, while I cried, while I smiled, He has pulled me close, touched my face and infused me with Love

And now… well, nothing else will do really.  And isn’t that the point?  ::sigh again:: 

Lucky me, I’m totally spoiled on kisses from heaven.  Love, love.

 

February 15, 2011

New Friends

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God has Super-Blessed me with a plethora of wonderful and amazing New Friends. Hi!!!  I am glad to know you and so super excited about getting to know you more.  And I thought it only fair to make you aware of some of my “quirks” while there is still time for you to turn and run in the other direction…

– I am firmly convinced that black birds are the devils minions. There is a fair chance that you will have to “guard” me from these evil flying creatures at some point.  I just can’t get past the beady eyes, nasty beaks and creepy claws, plus they are always staring at me.  They freak me out and I am pretty sure they have all been sent on a mission to get me.  Trying to convince me otherwise would be an exercise in frustration.

– I got a little extra dose of that “Mama Bear” thing.  It is near impossible to offend me personally, but I can get rather fierce if I feel my friends or children might be hurt in the slightest by unkind actions or words.  Not that I’ll punch you or anything.  I’m more of a diffuser, unless I feel like you need to be punched. (kidding.) (mostly.)

– I believe there is a difference between Hip Hop and Rap music.  And I love Hip Hop, along with every other style of music from Indie-Folk to Classic Rock.  Except for Country, don’t even get me started.  The commercial junk on K104: Crap.  Rakim, The Roots and Talib Kweli: Good Stuff.   

– I can’t not dance if there is good music in the general vicinity.  I call it being “dancy” some people might call it being “nine years old”. There’s no way for me to sit still when there is a good beat or a great tune in the room.  My feet auto-tap and my hands, well… as Bridget likes to say, I like to “bang on things”.  If you need to have a serious conversation with me, keep Timbaland and Kari Jobe as far away as possible. 

– I’ve mentioned this before, but really it can not be overstated: My eyesight is awful.  If you’ve recently had your hair done and I didn’t notice, this is why.  I wear contacts and I have glasses, but my vision can’t be corrected back to 20/20 even with very strong prescriptions.  If you want to go somewhere with me we’re going to need to sit up front, and you might want to drive.  I’m just sayin’.

– I love words immensely and I hang on to them forever.  They stay with me though my brain gets fuzzy on many, many other details.  It’s totally possible that the offhanded comment you made at lunch the other day was just that, an offhanded commend, but  I will probably be able to quote you a couple of years from now.  This almost never comes in handy. 

– I am a shopping miracle. I know this sounds weird, but you should take me shopping and see.  Things on my list magically appear and are almost always half their normal cost.  I’m not even kidding. It’s a total blessing and it has happened on many occasions.  The downside is I will not buy things if they are not insanely good deals, and I will discourage you from doing so as well, even if it is on your list and in your budget.  If it isn’t cheap and perfect, we’re not getting it.  Makes shopping with me a mixed bag of misery and euphoria

– I need to hold babies if they are around.  I will take a number if need be, but it is absolutely necessary.  I may not even know them that well (or at all), but if there is a tiny human, I want it in my arms.  Babies make me insanely happy.  If they’re crying I will bounce them.  If they need a burp that’s fine too; I don’t even mind getting spit up on.  If they are happy, I will kiss them.  I take that back, I’m kissing them regardless. 

And so there you have it New Friends, a very brief list of some of the quirks that I am aware of, I’m sure there are hundreds more.  Old Friends feel free to chime in 🙂

February 13, 2011

LOVE

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This weekend has been… well rough is too kind a word… Friday was the two year anniversary of our divorce, which would have been fine except my ex got married on Saturday, which would have been fine except Sunday is the six month mark since that Terrible Thing happened, which would be fine except, Monday is Valentines Day.  It's just kind of a lot, almost too much. 

I've known this weekend was coming and have not even attempted to grieve any of this stuff.  It all seems too overwhelming to deal with.  I know Jesus is always with me, but sitting in an empty room crying into a pillow over all of these reminders of agonizing heartbreak just has not sounded appealing to me.  Somehow, well… in an effort to be quite honest, getting drunk sounded more appealing to me.  And so I went to a very safe friends house and drowned my sorrows in cheap whiskey.  This sounds ridiculous I know, but my back and neck have been sore for two days, I'm sure from holding all of this in.  And getting to sleep on a pillow that wasn't soaked in tears seemed impossible.  Stumbling into bed dazed and numbed seemed like my best option.  And that's what I did; not my finest decision. 

Sleep came easily, but then He woke me up at two thirty, almost three hours ago now.  I gave getting back to sleep all my best efforts.  And then I prayed a little "I'm sorry" prayer.  Something along the lines of "Please forgive me.  I am not going to slip into this pattern. Thank you for giving me a safe place to fall last night. I love you. I'm sorry."  An hour later I was still awake.  I grabbed my Blackberry, cruised Facebook and Twitter for a few minutes, and in a last ditch effort to get to sleep, opened up my Bible app.  It auto loaded today verse, Psalm 6:

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
   or discipline me in your wrath.
 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
   heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
 My soul is in deep anguish.
   How long, LORD, how long?

  Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
   save me because of your unfailing love.
 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
   Who praises you from the grave?

 I am worn out from my groaning.

   All night long I flood my bed with weeping
   and drench my pillow with tears.
 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
   they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,
   for the LORD has heard my weeping.
 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
   the LORD accepts my prayer.

It kind of rocked my world, so fitting, so raw and real.  Almost like "Whoa, hey, get out of my head" kind of perfect.  And I am so humbled.  I know it may not sound like the most comforting verse, but there is not a verse that could have comforted me more.  These words are perfect.  My own personal perfectly fitting Psalm. 

I love when He just SHOWS UP, even if it is at 4a.m.  I love when I feel like there is for real, not pretend, not I hope, not even I know because the Bible says He is, but He just actually, literally, is here, seeing, hearing, feeling, loving, showing, giving moments they are almost eerie, almost spooky, but oh do I treasure them, oh did I need one. 

Yesterday when I talked to Nancy about this stuff, she gave me the "You are in the palm of His hand" line and I rolled my eyes.  "Ok, but right now I want something more real."  And now, it's like… if a real person were here with me, there's no way their words would come close to doing what His just did.  My circumstances have not changed, but- the Creator of the universe woke me up in the middle of the night to let me know that He is aware of what is going on.  It was very much like Jesus was right here in bed with me, threw His arm across me and pulled me in close. I mean, wow.  I'm in awe. 

Last week one of the most inspiring women I know sent me this message

"i just want to share this with you. i grew up in a very devout pentecostal family. i have since denounced christianity, then re-embraced it, in my own way, though not exclusively. anyway, i love to see your devotion, almost a mystic relationship with a Beloved Jesus. it makes me feel like you GET IT, on a deeper level, which is entirely the point. that's all… just wanted you to know that it is a beautiful thing for me to see."

It is maybe the best message anyone has ever sent me.  I don't know that I could describe my relationship with Jesus in better words.  It is almost mystic, except for the fact that it is the most real thing I know.  And He is most definitely Beloved, the Truest Love I have found.  I'm not sure about my devotion, it wavers more than I would like it too.  This GET IT thing though, that happens because He GIVES IT.  All I'm doing is receieving.  That is the beautiful part. 

When I am hurt and trying to numb the pain, lost, overwhelmed and begging for real, He shows me what REAL is.  Love, love, love.  ::sigh::  Love.

*edited to add, for those of you who might be wondering- No, I did not drive home; I spent the night at my friends house, that was the plan all along. And yes I know that this was a terrible solution for dealing with this grief.  I have been talking to Jesus about it for the past hour.  We are going to make sure it doesn't happen again 

February 9, 2011

A Push

Sometimes coming to someone I love who generally has all the right answers and telling them my Big Overwhelming Problem and hearing them say “I don’t know” is extremely helpful.  I went to a friend the other night all tense with anxiety.  I spilled.  She held my hands, looked me in the eyes and said "Well, I don't know."   And I breathed a deep sigh of relief.  Those were exactly the words I needed to hear.  Because it meant that figuring out the answer was not her job.  Or mine.  It was like a little nudge. 

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Sometimes "I don't know" is more like "I love you and I understand this is tough. You're going to have to take this to Him."  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of consulting friends about stuff.  I’m all for gaining wisdom from relationships.  But sometimes.  Sometimes I come to someone with a problem and no part of me even wants them to have the answer.  What I really want is for someone to confirm that what I am going through is in fact a Very Big Deal.  Not that I’m going around looking for sympathy, but a little validation never hurt anyone.   

Sometimes though, what I really need is a push towards Jesus.  Because I can spend hours, days really in my own head, untying knots and untangling things, and make no real progress at all.  Sometimes I just need somebody to look at the mess I’m holding and say “Uh, yeah. You’re not gonna be able to fix that sweetheart. Better take it to that Amazing Father of yours.”

Did that ever happen when you were a kid?  Did you ever try to fix something, mess it up even worse and then try to get your friend to help you fix it only to realize that you were going to have to show your Dad what you had done?  Scary stuff?  Yeah well, I didn’t have a dad around to make that a scary thing for me.  Instead it’s just not something I’ve ever thought to do.  It wasn’t an option for me when I was little, so sometimes I totally forget that it’s an option now.

Sometimes I need a little reminding.  Because there are days when I look at my problems and think I can totally figure this out.  And there are times when I think What would Nancy do?  (Actually, if there is something that I have decided I can't work out on my own, I generally just call her and ask.)  But it is unfortunately rare that I go straight to Him.  It just is not my default, (yet).  So I am thankful for the occaisional push.  And I'm leanring. 

I'm learning to stop running around in my own head, and to recognize the urge to do so quicker.   I'm learning that it's good to have friends validate my feelings, but it is way better to hand my stuff over to Him.  I am learning that I can trust Him with hard things.  He is not scary, and He is so much more than safe. 

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And I am so grateful for this Amazing Father who is both ready and willing to help me with the things I am struggling with.  And boy am I ever thankful for friends who don't have all the answers and aren't afraid to push me towards Him when I need it.   

February 6, 2011

Getting Equipped

(Wherein I confess some arrogance and try not to be too defensive.  Also, part of me wants to unpack a whole "seasons" lesson here and talk about winter tunring to spring, but something tells me you've heard that one before.)

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When adults confide in and look to you for advice from the age of five it kind of messes with your mind.  It did mine anyway.  I grew up with an awareness of my intelligence that wasn’t necessarily fostered in a healthy way and as a result I totally took it for granted and misused it. 

I got by in school doing as little work as possible.  I would skip classes, not do work and then ace tests to bring my failing grades up to barely passing.  I wrote senior themes when I was a freshman for fifty bucks a pop.  I dropped out of high school halfway through my senior year.  I missed out on a ton of learning and wisdom because I rarely respected or listened to adults at all. 

Also since I was little bitty, I knew Jesus.  I don’t have a great explanation for that really.  Church was not a huge part of my childhood, but somehow He had been around, we had been talking since before I started kindergarten.  (Certainly there were times when my head didn’t know He was there, or chose not to acknowledge Him, but my heart it seems has always known Him.)          

So I was this kind of arrogant kid with some awareness of giftings but no real words or concepts to fit that idea.  (I don’t know what I would have called them at the time; I think I just thought I was really awesome.)  Over the years I had a few teachers who encouraged me and spoke into my life about the special abilities and talents they saw in me, but I never really learned to steward my gifts, because unfortunately I never really saw my intelligence, ability to soak up information like a sponge and communicate well as gifts from Him. 

Now, as an adult who is aware that I was given these gifts for a purpose and have a calling on my life, all of this arrogance and these missteps have led to feelings of inadequacy, fear and doubt.  (Way to go enemy, you have almost successfully taken something God put in me for good and totally turned it against me.)  I have wrestled with myself and God repeatedly about whether or not I am totally disqualified from helping others in any way by my lack of education.  My life is more like a “how not to” than a “how to”.  I argue with myself about stepping into any kind of leadership for fear that it will either completely reveal what a fool I am or lead to more arrogance and self reliance.  I said to someone recently that I hear God all the time, I just don’t always listen.  (Jeez, that sounds awful).  It’s true though; too often I let fear and doubt guide my steps when I should be letting Him direct my path

Something great about this free and getting free-er thing, I’ve begun to trust Him more.  I’ve listened more and started taking steps in the direction He has for me.  Not that I am jumping straight into any leadership roles, there is plenty of growth that needs to happen, but my willingness to grow is well… growing.  So I am jumping straight into getting equipped and educated.  I’m working on getting into college and in the meantime grabbing hold of every other resource available.  The Bible is pretty helpful.  And Gateway offers all kinds of classes, Equip, Freedom, Financial Stewardship, you name it.  (By the way if you’ve seem me sitting on the front row staring intently, it’s not a teachers pet thing, it’s because my eyesight is terrible.)  There are plenty of oppurtunities to learn really, as long as I'm open to growth and change.  

The thing is, shifting my perspective has put my hope, faith and focus on Him and taken it off of me. (Can I get a woohoo?!)  He has been kind enough to put some extremely intelligent, wise, helpful people in my adult life.  Thankfully in addition to Freedom, He has given me a few lessons in humility and helped me submit to great leadership.  Letting go of fear and doubt and letting Him be in charge means walking down this path.  And leaving behind the baggage of self loathing and self reliance makes the walk a whole lot easier.  This next season of my life seems headed in a direction that I would have run from in the past, instead I am ripe with excitement to see Him work and expectation of His greatness. Woohoo!? Indeed.

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