The dailiness of everything, ways to create and cope, help and heal, learn and live!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Mourning my youth....planning to age gracefully...

I painted my nails this week. I have been working on the house and planting things so I clipped those things back pretty drastically. I gave them what I learned was called "squoval" back in my silk nail days: flattened with a rounded edge. I polished them with a rosy nude color and applied a top coat and lotioned my hands and went to admire them and - wow. I see my grandmother's hands. MY GRANDMOTHER'S. Not my moms. How did I NOT get her long legs but instead her sturdy hands? They are abused hands. I use them as tools...my poor nails. Well anyway - I was sad. I used to have pretty hands. They were tan and smooth and seemed graceful to me.

 Now they look a little pudgy and wrinkly. Sigh.

And it's the same way with my face - my body. It just ain't what it used to be.

All I can do is shrug. Because I have thought about the alternatives. Losing weight and pursuing youth and beauty: face lift, tummy tuck. But dang. It's exhausting, not to mention expensive.  And really a losing race. And my 17 year old keeps telling me NOT to color my hair blue. Which I have seriously thought about. He said I said - and I don't remember it - that I told him to tell me it was my midlife crisis talking if I ever said I was going to color my hair blue. I called myself out. Because I knew I would do it. And I hesitate to condemn it, because I am ok with being care free and doing what you want as long as it doesn't infringe on others. But there comes a point where one should maintain some dignity right? Maybe not. Dignified does NOT sound fun.

But maybe instead of worrying about all the outer accouterments...I should focus more on the inner. I am sad that when I take pictures I don't recognize that person anymore. And goodness - photos are a huge part of life now. You can't do anything without getting your picture taken! AND posted on social media. I'd feel so much better about myself if I didn't have pictures or full length mirrors. But my answer to that is to again - shrug. What are you going to do about that?

So - what do I want to be as I grow older? I want to be easy to talk to. I want to listen more. To quit being so damn introspective and look outward. I want to have humor, to laugh, to quit worrying about the house and to enjoy people. But I want to be content when I am alone as well. I want to be someone who can skim over offenses and not take them to heart. To be secure enough in who God made me to understand that we hurt each other sometimes and it doesn't do to hold it against each other. I want to be home to those who feel homesick, to be an anchor to those who feel unmoored. I want to listen and quit the nervous babble - so scared that others will see that I am an idiot. Because I feel like one most of the time. I know others feel the same way. I want to quit judging others because they want you to see how smart they are. Or how spiritual they are, or how great they are at everything. I want to be happy for them. Impressed by them. Accepting of them - regardless of why I think they need to front. There is a quiet desperation (I know that term is used A LOT - but it suits my inner coocoo) to be KNOWN. If you really knew me. You would be impressed. And yet - I am quite aware that my gifts are imperfect and really quite unimpressive. But that is because my standards are ridiculous. All these things I see as failings - I see them in me. And they annoy the hell out of me when I see them in other people. I want to RELAX about it already.

My prayer is to enjoy what I have left of life. To be comfortable in my skin - and quite frankly - my clothes. I want to enjoy food, enjoy good books, good music. I want to have people over and sit in the midst of my little home even if it is a mess, and HEAR people. Enjoy who they are and what they have to share. I want to quit worrying about money - about how to make things right with the past...because sometimes you just can't. I want to quit this mantra I have about doing this thing "one day". Or feeling like I have to have the house in perfect order before I start some project because that is NEVER going to happen.

What I want to be has nothing to do with the way I look on the outside. It has everything to do with how I make others feel and how I feel about myself. I am asking God to make me kinder, more real, more aware of others, less worried about how they see me, and my house - and my dirty cars. They are so dirty right now.

Aging is a journey. I have not always traveled it well. I have either totally obsessed about or totally neglected  important things. I have sought balance but haven't always been able to find it. I like myself best when I am worried about myself least. And - boom.

Therein lies the power of becoming what I truly want to be. Self-less. That may be unattainable. But I that is my goal, and what I think will make aging much more enjoyable.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cast Iron reflections...

I love cast iron skillets.

Cast iron skillets. They are heavy and require major upkeep. But I love them.

They are forgiving. I have had to re-season them so many times. One is my grandmothers and it is over 100 years old. Another one was my husband's when he was in college. My grandmother's is so rough looking. Chipped and marred on the lip but it cooks so well. I also have little cast iron kettles that you can do soup in. They are for individual soups. They make me tingle when I look at them. Is that weird? Puppy breath does the same thing. That's weird isn't it?

Anyway. I love that they cook my steaks to the perfect char on the outside and still leave them rare and juicy on the inside. I love that I can pop 4 eggs in olive oil in one and put it in the oven on 400 for 6 minutes and have 4 perfect eggs...over easy to place on top of good seed bread that has been slathered in goat cheese with tiny sliced tomatoes...Can I tell you that the combination of flavors is amazing? It is amazing.

I love that I can cook something in them and then pop them in the oven to finish.

But what I really love is cleaning them. That's weird too isn't it?

When I am organized, which isn't often, but with my kitchen I try hard to be - I can get in my there and enjoy the process of cooking. Even the process of cleaning is cathartic. I feel the same way about chopping veggies. It seems to work out the kinks. Cleaning my cast iron is cleansing for it and for me. I pour olive oil, then nice course kosher salt and I rub my hands around in it. Scrubbing the bottom and the sides, slathering the oil and salt mixture over the edges and to the outside, over the bottom and then back to the insides. Then I rub my hands, the backs and the nail beds and cuticles and rinse with warm water. I dry it with a paper towel and place it in my oven while it is still warm. It almost feels like I am pampering a baby when I do that. I like the thoughtless rhythm that goes along with it.

It seems like such a simple thing. Mundane even. But for whatever reason, it is calming and the last thing I do in my kitchen before I wish it good night and turn out the light.

When in the right frame of mind, isn't it such a lovely thing to contemplate? The simple rhythms of the kitchen and it's nourishment for our minds and our bodies. Such a gift. Unexpected.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The decision - strike that - decisions...

Hundreds of decisions each day. I make them. You make them. Sometimes they are good, other times, not so much.

Do I get out of my bed early and shower? Or do I lay here and read? Do I call in for a mental day? Or do I go on and do the job I committed to do? Do I have a biscuit and bacon for breakfast - with sweet creamy coffee? Or do I eat an egg with fruit and black coffee. But there is coffee. And each and every decision affects the next one. And the next one. And so on.

There are some days good decisions seem so easy. I have somehow paved the way to wake up and do the right thing and it leads to a series of good decisions. One good decision seems to beget another.

And here is the catch. I think to do it consistently -you have to do a little prep work. It is part of becoming an adult. And it works. You are never sorry for making a good decision. Or for the work that came before to help you make the good decision. You are always sorry for making a bad decision...and for not being wise enough to be prepared. And you will have bad days. A fact.

There are some people who seem to be more natural at it than others. Seeeem to be.

The hard part is being consistent. And the prep work. And well - it all takes work.  At least for me. I am inconsistent at best. Because I don't want to do all the leg work.

And such is life right? We would all RATHER sit and read, or watch Netflix or stare out the window. Mm. Let me take that back. I have a friend that can't not be productive. It's annoyingly endearing. She watches TV while doing something. She's also thin and always looks put together. So - yeah. No competing with that. Not for me anyway.

With this decision making - I tend to get a little circular in my thinking - I always come back to my personality type. There are a million things that come into how and why we make the decisions we do. Knowing ourselves and how we function. Knowing what will wear us down and learning to know when to stop. But not completely taking yourself out of the rat race - because community is huge. It's important. But it's SO EXHAUSTING.

Simply put. There is no perfect algorithm. Some days are going to go well. Some days - yeah well..there's always tomorrow.

Here is my thinking. I do not do well going full blast for days on end. I burn out and I hit the skids and it is hard for me to get back in the saddle. I cut out completely remembering the misery I brought upon myself and forgetting the joy of actually being part of something that was amazing.

I have to do better at redirecting my thinking to what I accomplished - not what I felt like once I accomplished it. And maybe taking my very large ideas down a notch or two. I LOVE big ideas. That comes from working in a very large student ministry in the early 90's where excess abounded. There is a balance I can find. I KNOW it. I haven't FOUND it.

I also know I want to FIX it. Everything. You tell me a problem, I want to fix it. And I get pissed at you if you don't do what I tell you and are still complaining about the problem. Not pretty. But there it is. Sorry if you have found yourself there. I will try to do better. And you better not try to fix my problem. Because I am hard headed. I know myself - really well. And my fix it need will totally sink my decision making skills.

I also am a self flagellator. It's not a word. And it has nothing to do with gas.That's FLATULENT.  Flagellation is the word - but basically I beat myself up.  And not for sexual gratification if you looked the word up. I suppose you could say it is based in the religious given my desire to be all and do all. Which sounds a little like a god complex. And there is no in between. I am either full out or not. At all. And then I beat the hell out of myself. It is also exhausting. But I will get in the rut and then I can't make a good decision for beating myself up.  Have I talked about this before? I feel like I have talked about this before...

So it seems I might be manic depressive -bi-polar or something. Look - I come from a family that has that history and I am watching it - trust me. My doctor said I am good unless they find me on HWY 280 directing traffic naked - which is comforting. I asked him to please not let me get that far.
It would be tragic on so many levels.

I know I need to be on a couch somewhere telling a psychologist this.

But no.

My decision making paradigm is not based on a sure fire recipe. I started out trying to do that for you - for me. But really - it doesn't exist. Yes - if I plan my wardrobe and eat right and go to bed early and get at least 7 hours (for me anyway), and plan my meals, not buying any junk food (to my three son's despair and resentment), I will be on the road to my best decision making self. But let's face it. With all of my issues that's just not always going to happen.

So I fall back on grace. If you have read ANYTHING I have written before, it is my fall back and my comfort.

Grace - the unmerited favor of God. That is where I repose - but actively - in order to make the best decisions, I have to also seek wisdom. Simply put, it is bound to go well with me when I seek God and his wisdom first. Reading the word and praying before my day begins, changes me and guides me toward a better handle on any decisions that I make.

I still make bad decisions. But thankfully - God's grace is there. But until I am with the Lord and made like him - I will continue to do my best to continue to pursue wisdom. Knowing I will fail but doing my best to hear the call of God as he continues to do a good work in me - in spite of me. And it takes the burden off of me. Thank the LORD I can do this and then plan my day. If I do anything other than reading and praying in the pursuit of a good decision making day - I've already planned to fail.

What about you? What are your hangups? How does your personality sabotage good intentions? How do you fix that?

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-11



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

So...the apocalyptic adventure of COVID19...

I have to admit to some crazy, nerdy, scandalous and somewhat embarrassing excitement when they said we were going home from school and being quarantined.

Is it horrible? Absolutely.

Do I love these types of situations? Certainly not.

But maybe...there is a part of me that thrives here. I am not at all sure what that says about me.

I have always loved apocalyptic movies. I love the hope that always seems to come from overcoming whatever odds are against the characters. I love the resourcefulness that comes from not having at hand what you normally would have. I love that you tend to bond with folks you might not normally bond with. Seriously - I totally geek out over all the ways you can use the things at hand for something else.

Do I actually want to be in that situation? Absolutely NOT.

But here are some things I things I learned from our Sheltering at Home adventure.

We did indeed become resourceful. I made masks from t-shirts several different ways. Of course we are blessed to have the internet and access to other's brilliant thinking, but I took their ideas and made them work for our family.

 I implemented outside time for our family...knowing the boys would want to be in mostly gaming when they weren't doing school. I made sure I had things they would enjoy doing outside and started making meals to eat on the back porch. This has been a huge blessing. There is a lot of talk that goes on out there. We linger longer when we are on the back porch. The weather has certainly been a gift from God and has helped that so much. I have been so grateful!

My husband and I have gotten closer. I know many have said it has been harder. And it truly is in some ways. His and my working from home causes some clashes that we are having to learn to maneuver around. But honestly - I like him here. We have taken to walking together. We are trying to read what the other enjoys. He will not listen to my music ( I get it - I am a bubble gum pop girl and it is not very cool or sophisticated of me ) - but he loves me in spite of it. I have learned to love some of his moody Americana music. I am reading articles he sends me, and he is reading articles I send him and we TALK about it. Amazing. I am smarter for it.

I am taking Spanish. I have a Latin community at the high school that I love and sometimes there is a barrier that my speaking Spanish will overcome. I am working toward it and have been excited about getting back with my students and learning to communicate.

I made TAMALES! I did. It was fun. And delicious. There is a learning curve. But next time I know how to make it easier. I would never have done this prior to all this time I have been gifted.

I am getting certification in some things that will help me be a better para-educator for my special needs classes. I have to be proactive in my search - but it will be so helpful once I complete them. Once again - never would have done this on my own. I would have looked to the administration to ask me to do it. Maybe they would have - if it had been necessary - but generally not something that they require. The fact that it makes ME better able to serve the students I minister to daily is enough to make it worth it.

I am cleaning out. I have become more organized. I am finding a place for everything or giving it away or throwing it away. This is a huge lesson in learning to simplify. And I love simple. LOVE IT.  I love my home now. This is a blessing. I have hated this little cluttered place. It made me overwhelmed. The time that has been gifted to be able to focus on how to live better where I am is - well it is absolutely a gift.

I have my two 20 year olds with me. They would be away from me during this time. They are adults now and in college. I would not have had them with me for the last several weeks. I know they would rather be at school. They miss their friends. But I have loved having them here. I have had to learn to curb my critcisms...knowing the things they are still working through will eventually come to pass. They are still maturing and finding who they are. I try to suggest and then leave them to process Really it is more of a learning process for me. But being able to wrap my arms around them and kiss their sweet faces has been over and above anything I could have asked for.

When I look back at what I have written it seems pretty self involved - which let's face it - I really am. But as much as I feel life has been interrupted - the biggest interruption being church and schools in my opinion, there has been much to be grateful for. I have had fear, I have had sorrow, I have worried about what is going to happen next. But I have learned to find the joy in the midst of the scary. God has shown himself to be close to me, even when I did not move toward him.

COVID19 has been an exercise in trusting God in the next thing. I have to pull my thoughts back and corral them in the here and now. God has given me everything I need for this moment. And I trust he will for the next moment as well - I try not to let my mind go there. I choose rather to trust that his grace is good for whatever good or hard thing comes. I have to believe that. I pray you can do the same. His grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.






Saturday, April 11, 2020

Yet another epiphany

During this quarantine, I have searched for new books - adult books - woman books. I stumbled across Barbara O'Neal. Her books are poignant, yet forgiving. I have read two so far that were about the human in all of us. The disaster we can be and the good within.

I have cried reading both When We Believed in Mermaids and The Art of Inheriting Secrets. They were both so good. They made me, for some reason, look inside and realize the battle I keep fighting over and over is pretty much the same for every person. I am drawn to broken people. Always have been.

Even with that in mine, my problem - with both myself and other people, is that I want to deposit them in the good box or the bad box. Interestingly enough I have done both with myself. I pull myself out of the good box and beat the hell out of me in the bad box. Then I am like, "Why am I over there? Look at all of the good I do, how I suffer over loving well (which is poo) and just love on me over in the good box.

It's not like I am different from anyone else. I think we all think we are inherently good people. Unless we know ourselves really well. The we know we are a lot of both. Sometimes mostly good. Sometimes mostly bad.

I used to be pretty trusting. People are good. People are lovely. And one time by people who I trusted because they loved Jesus hurt me pretty badly. I was crushed when this happened. Crushed. Broken. Fragile. Resisted Repair. I threw away those relationships -tossed them. Had no use for them anymore. The person I am within Christ - which is all the time, realizes now, that I am capable of the same hurtful and crushing thing to others. I have done those same things. But I have not extended grace to the ones that have hurt me.

It's a protection. It's my way of protecting who I think I am, and it is my way of not getting hurt to that extent again.

Funny thing.

This last week - I have had so much think time. The quarantine for COVID 19 has given me plenty of time away from my busy-ness to plunder the inside of my head and it is a little unhappy with it's findings.

I am not as good as I think I am- actually I am so much worse than I think I am. But here is the thing. I am not the only one. That is how we all are. I am absolutely capable of crushing, breaking and rendering fragile the people I come in contact with, and have done so. I have spent years bemoaning how to fix these things. I want to make those hurts I have caused go away. But - I have cut myself off from those people. I have run away and don't know if I can ever fix them.

But God can.

He can heal them for me as well. The distrust I have in the children of God, "Church" people especially, is a sin I must quit lugging around. I have been hurt, but I have also hurt. And I did so with a vengeance, wanting to punish and cause pain. I don't think it worked nearly as well as I wanted it to - which hurt even more. I felt it meant they didn't care as much as I did.

So God -

I am reading Genesis right now. It is full of people that do bad things...just like me. People that are told distinctly not to, and they do anyway. The election of God's people is a mysteriously confusing thing.

But this last week I had an epiphany.

I was thinking of David and how he was a man after God's own heart. And David did some HORRIBLE things - just so wrong. How do we reconcile the David that God loved from the David that was just so bad at life choices sometimes?

I have to. Because David is me. And whether I like it or not, God has somehow chosen me and loves me like he loved David. This is controversial to the extreme but knowing the evil in me, and thinking I can choose God on my own is ludicrous. And I know that readers will fight this tooth and nail. Because I have done so for many years. I belong to a PCA church that believes in election. I have had this conversation over and over and over again. I am a Baptist going to a Presbyterian church and my sweet pastor of 20 years has let me just wave away the idea of election telling me it is not necessary to be saved. Knowing I am a sinner, knowing that I cannot save myself, knowing that I need forgiveness and a Savior is. God provided that for me. He sacrificed his son for those sins, in my place. I know I am a sinner. I know I need forgiveness and I know my Savior came willingly and allowed himself to be sacrificed for my sins and then he rose again proving he had the power to heal my wrongdoing over and over again. And at one point I felt that this was my choice. That I chose God. And I reveled in my goodness for that amazing choice. And that is also why it made me angry when I initially heard this premise. I wanted to be the one to do it. Once again the toddler stomping my foot and demanding to do it by myself.

But this week, something hit me. I really am totally incapable of good. Any good that is in me is because God placed it there. I cannot even choose God without his nudging. The only reason I keep slogging it out and returning to God in the midst of all my bad choices is because God continues to draw me to himself again and again. He did not allow me to choose. He formed a relationship within me to desire God, to desire the mercy his son offered me when he died for my repeated bad choices - my sin.

But there is a freedom and a gratitude that this has given me. I now understand WHY there is nothing that can tear me out of the hand of God. And it is SO undeserving. It breaks my heart and it crushes me and my fragility is so evident - I am humbled. The Gospel becomes clear in its express desire to realize that without God, without the sacrifice of his son - and without his election, I would be lost. There is nothing in me that deserves this and I realize suddenly that I cannot choose good. And I have said this before - but somehow have always reserved a part that revels in my own ability to see that this is my choice. Because without that my independence suffers. I did not do it on my own.

So why did those books lead me to this? The heroines in this book had such good things about them - but also very broken things. I saw myself in them.  Because I see that there is yuck even in the best, most beautiful and engaging person, the ones who preach Jesus fervently and point to him and the gospel - even they can commit heinous sins and they can rationalize it - JUST LIKE ME. Each and every person is a mix of broken, nasty and amazing kindness that we just don't always get to see. So our response to this should always be grace.

Grace - unmerited favor - because honestly without having it given to me - there is no way I can extend it to others, and without realizing that it has been freely given to me, I will withhold it from others thinking they should deserve it first - because I did. Wrong. Such wrong thinking. And even though I know what grace means - there is a part of me that I have carved out that says I deserve forgiveness because - and there is a laundry list of things I can pull out that totally and completely ignores the even longer laundry list of disgusting and embarrassing things I have done.

 Life has happened to me. And much of it is amazing and beautiful and undeserved. And life has happened to me in things that I did not deserve necessarily - that I had no control over. Evils that have repercussions and have changed who I am and maybe even who I would be -

but God -

He allowed the hard unlovely things, sin being what it is, but he also allowed the most wondrous things in spite of me. He has chosen me in spite of my density (I am so dense) and it has produced a lightness and joy that I cannot explain. After years of trying to relegate the good and evil, I get it...at least at this moment. Never discount that density (smile).

I may have to have this epiphany over and over again. And so I cling to grace and I am praying that I extend it more readily. Now that I know that I had absolutely no part in saving myself. And I will struggle again and again with that - until he comes to take us home. Even so Lord - quickly come.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Lean in to it...

So when I have friends, both young and old asking how do you keep your sanity, how do I deal with the pain? How do I....? There are a million unhelpful answers to that question. I have two 20 year olds and a 17 year old underfoot right now - in a very small house! And quite frankly - I am having to do a lot of deep breathing. So - in the middle of hard things - especially right now with moms being home with the kiddos 24 - 7 - how do we cope?

For young women with young families, telling them that time will be gone before they know it and they need to learn to enjoy it while they are in it, just causes resentment - or seems to. I have seen many Facebook rants about how us older women come in and say things like that. So really - that is not helpful at all - though true it may be. When you are in the middle of what feels like constant stress, constant need, constant need from someone - your energy is depleted. Your will is gone. You are used up and feel like you can't take another minute. I do remember those days.

In my opinion - and this goes for both young mothers with little ones at home on up to us middle agers and older women, there are good ways to deal with the "I can't take it anymores".

The first thing is - make sure you are taking time to read and meditate. Preferably in the mornings before you start your day. It doesn't have to be long. Save your Bible study and ruminations for after the kiddos go to bed, or during nap time. In the mornings, set your timer - 15, 20 - 30 minutes, whatever you feel you have time for that day. Choose an easy Bible reading plan that gives you sustaining scripture and read it, then pray it, then think on it - just for a bit. Then pray over your family and your list of things to do that day and get to work. The timer is there just to help you manage your time well.
8 simple daily Bible reading plans -

This means you either have to plan to get up before your kiddos do, or that you will have to get them busy doing something while you take this time. I'm good with setting them in front of Veggietales - or whatever the babies are watching these days.

That brings me to my next point. The age of social media is crushing in it's life sucking standards. We aren't living life when we try to keep up with all the people around us - we are extinguishing real living. I love social media - especially Facebook. It lets me catch up with extended family and all of my discipleship kiddos I have had over the years. It is a blessing to me. But I am easily sucked into the shiny, happy lives of my friends and can find myself wondering why we can't afford to go to Disney every year, or to the Bahamas, or - well - whatever thing our friends are sharing that day can feel like a jab instead of an encouragement. So - limit your time there. Do not follow the friends who are constantly thrusting their glitzy lives at you. Find the ones that encourage you and make you want to love Jesus more and follow them. You don't have to unfriend anyone. But your feed can be full of people that you enjoy. And heaven forbid that you take your high standard friends at their word for what they are actually doing. Keep your standards high - but trust in God's grace to help you with your babies. Your house does not have to be perfect. You do not have to have hard wood floors, and granite counter tops. You do not have to drive a Tahoe. Make your house a home. Be more driven to make it have a feeling of love and generosity - not that it has the latest Chip and Joanna feel to it. Not that that is wrong - it is just extra and not at all necessary. Find a place where you can enjoy your family without the pressure of the list of things you HAVE to do to make your children able to function successfully in the world.

I wanted to be that mama. The one where people thought I had it together and I was on top of it all. It was exhausting. And frankly - it sucked more of the life out of me than I was willing to give as an older mom. I remember telling people what I did and didn't do. I remember telling them "I always" or "I never" and eventually my always turned into nevers and nevers turned into always. So yeah - that plan never works in my opinion. Instead, remember that God loves your babies even more than you, and he is not going to let them miss an opportunity that will grow them closer to him. He will place those opportunities within  reach of you and your children as they grow. If you want to run your legs off taking them to every sport, every music lesson for multiple instruments, dance and every clinic and feel that they are missing out if you don't get them into travel ball (can you tell I am talking to myself? Because I am) team out there - then you have no one to blame but yourself. It is equally important that they get to sit and look out the window and let their little minds wander, as it is that they are increasing their knowledge and physical prowess. They need to wander and play and enjoy simplicity. Now I get it - even though I seriously lean toward the lazy - I understand you Type A'ers need to move and do. Just find your balance. Happy medium is my favorite go to. Do not let stress ruin your days. Pick carefully what you fill your lives with and learn to let yourself off the hook when things are too hard. God's grace is sufficient - even if your kids don't get to do what you think will make them the best. It's ok. God has them. Walk in faith knowing that your efforts are not what they always need. God's grace is.

Lastly - and I am sure I will think of a million other things that helped as well - but I found when I leaned into something hard, it helped with the crazy, or the hurt, or the pressure. Leaning into it simply put - well let me just use baseball lingo since I am a 3 boy mom and have experienced years of baseball. If you lean into a pitch that is inside and it hits you...you get to first base. You move forward. This is a tactical play. It stings, maybe it hurts - but you move forward. This is sometimes how I deal with life. I just deal with the hard. I hunker down and take the hit knowing it will pass soon enough and that every moment I am given grace and strength by a loving, heavenly Father. I put scripture up around the house that reminds me that I can do it moment by moment and before I know it, I have moved from one hard stage to the next hard stage.

I think it helps to remember that every stage we go through gets easier in some ways and harder in others. It also helps us keep from thinking we are in a worse situation than the ones that have older children. There is never a stage that our children go through that is not difficult in some way. I remember talking to an older friend when she told me that this stage with her grown, married children was the hardest. I was like WHAT? She said that when they were struggling she couldn't fix it anymore. She had to back off and let them manage it themselves. I was devastated. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw that she was right. My comfort in every stage thus far was that I had a semblance of control when it came to helping my boys. That goes away once they become adults. But once again - leaning into it - hunkering down and mourning their failures as they start managing their own lives. It works. It is not always easy and I will say I fight it, but looking at the worst case scenario and reminding myself that God will take care of them, just as he has me, is truly helpful.

God bless you as you find your way. You are always welcome to contact me if you have questions, or need someone to listen.

mismi40 at gmail.com

Friday, June 14, 2019

Everybody loves a story....

and we all have one. Our stories change from day to day. I love to hear the back stories of people and places. One of my favorite things to do when we travel is to look up the weird names of the towns we pass through and see how they got the names. So much fun. So interesting!

But each one of our stories holds the key to why we are the way we are, how we got to be where we are, where we are headed and what drives us.

I have "wallered" in my past. I have wanted to let a moment in time define me. But it was just a chapter. And those hard chapters are best to learn from and move past. Take what you learn, and shake the dust off. Find ways to see those faces that hurt you with joy and supernatural love (love of God - no way I am strong enough to do that), or to use the times you feel you failed as experience for the next hurdle. Gird yourself (encircle with sword - or tools) to defeat the next battle. And what story does not include some kind of battle? It is what builds the character in our faces, they give us the ability to face the future without fear and a chance to offer grace because we know what it feels like to be defeated and to win.

I adore a good story. Mine is of a girl who hoped to sing and lead others in worship and who succeeded at such for a time and who wants to again. One who used her good works as her righteousness and was disillusioned when she found her good works did not mean life would not hold pain. A girl who loved others even when they were not always well loved. And one who trusted unwisely and sometimes very unwisely stepped into situations that would cause her to doubt her faith, to withhold friendship and to be sorry she allowed her hurt to drive her away. And one who found an old friend and married him - her complete opposite, who had three precious boys. But all in all it has been a life full of joy. Though I wish I had fought harder in some cases, I am thankful that God gave me the hard times, so that I can hold out hope to others. And throughout it all there was fun - even in the midst of hurt, there was laughter, and there was love. I was not laid out totally.

I want to encourage those who find themselves in the same place to surround themselves in the fellowship of those who love God  and to be HONEST in their struggles. There are others who are feeling just like you. They need to know they are not alone in their quest to move past the hurt. They need to be encouraged to KNOW that every person despite what their shiny social media stories depict, that there is pain there and they are real people who struggle mightily with the same things you do. We all put our best story forward. I encourage you to be honest about yours. Give us the good and the bad. Don't waller like me - but share it so others can know there is always hope in the midst of the yuck of this life. And there is much joy in this life as well. The yuck kind of helps us enjoy those joyful moments even more.

Share your story with me! I want to hear it!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Summer Time

I woke up with things bumping into each other in my head this morning. Why do I love pajamas so much? That egg that Grayson cracked yesterday reminded me of how we can look so beautiful on the outside and be so nasty on the inside. I need to get Andy's grill put together so we can grill tonight...or maybe tomorrow night. Should I get the 19 year old up for class or should I just let him stay there...what if he forgot  set his alarm? Oh my gosh - is that the litter box I smell all the way back here?

These things. All like a bowl of spaghetti in my head. Until I rolled my butt out of the bed and looked out the window. Then I thought, those chairs for the back porch should have been here yesterday- I never saw them. I grabbed my phone and tracked it and sure enough it said it had been delivered. Yikes. I never saw them. I poke my head out the front door and there they are. And I have to put them alllllll together. Along with Andy's grill. phth.

But OH MY GOODNESS! IT IS BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE. AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!

I cannot tell you enough how much I love summer. And I love it in all of it' moods. Sunny and beautiful. Cloudy and humid. Sunny and humid. Thunderstorms are really lovely.

At least at the beginning. Summer is a stunner. It makes my heart skip.

As a paraeducator for special needs - both self contained and inclusion, I need a chunk of time to recharge my batteries. To dream. To read. To let my imagination wander down pathways - meander even. I love to meander. I am a meanderer. I just am not always able to do that. Even though it feels like my normal state. So needless to stay 9 months of full gear tend to wear me down. I pour myself into my job. Because I love it. But it can make me an emotional mess. Working with people - adults can be so hard. Women - you especially - certainly not all of you- but yeah - maybe all of you - dang girls...you  gotta' get those insecurities under wraps. Of course I am talking to myself. My insecurities run RAMPANT. I think honesty kind of helps. Just let it out. Tell people your foibles.

SO THAT UP THERE....that is what it is like in my head all the time. I have to restrain it and redirect it constantly during the school year. But in the summer - I have time and space to let it go. And it is delightful.

I watch TED talks and read lots of stuff. Good stuff and bad stuff. I ponder and I act on things I have wanted to get done. The time my mind stays focused and doesn't run around like a chicken with its head cut off is when I am reading, writing, or watching movies. So I do a lot of that. I clean my house knowing once school starts it will be 9 months before it gets cleaned again. I organize and throw away, give away, re-organize - hoping that I will finally find the key to keeping things where they are supposed to be - (good luck girl -rolling my eyes).

But SUMMER...lets me roam. I don't have to get it all done. I let myself off the hook to enjoy moments that come up. I can take on too much sometimes. But normally that is not a bad thing. I make it harder than it has to be most of the time.

But my heart is thankful for it. And I enjoy it so. It really does make me better for the coming school year. I know that the students and I need it desperately!

So - here's to summer. Enjoy every minute. Happy meandering...if that's your thing. ;)





Saturday, November 17, 2018

Things being what they are....

We are all a little insecure. I see it every day. I struggle with it every day. I see it in friends who walk up on others and hear them discussing them - or not discussing them but they think they are. I have been there, had that happen. That uncomfortable silence as everyone is trying to adjust the conversation to seem less like they were not talking about you. Or maybe they weren't.

Perspective. That is the key. I have done that to other people. So do I have a right to be upset when someone does it to me? Not really - but feelings are still feelings - and they hurt when we feel betrayed. But the fact is - we are not always lovable. I am not always lovable. I can be bitchy, and sarcastic, and a know it all...and others know it. It behooves me to be self aware.

I have become pragmatic in my old age.

The other day I was in a foul mood. And I said some things about others I shouldn't have. I heard them over and over again in my head that night. My comforter and conscience (Holy Spirit) was nudging me. I had to go in to work and apologize to people for saying things that were not accurate. They wanted to excuse it - by telling me what they heard. I told them I appreciated it - but it was nothing other than discontent and sin on my part and I was sorry - to please forgive me. I hated every minute of it. I was embarrassed and felt that it was just one more reason to dislike myself. BUT - when it was done there was an amazingly clean and free feeling that took over those dark thoughts.

I have a friend who shuts down my curiosity EVERY. TIME. I am always a little miffed at that. But she is right.  Her response to me is "That is not my story to tell". And quite frankly the first few times she did it I was like, "Huh. Really. Aren't you something?". That was internally by the way - and it was with a snarky attitude. Blech. I am so ugly sometimes. BUT - she is not wrong. But me being me - I will probably fight that battle the rest of my life. I keep thinking I will grow out of this puppy stage....

BUT - things being what they are...I am glad I am aware of my failures. I pray God moves me from this place to be better. I want to be real, to be loving, to be kind. Talking about others is not any of those things. Well - it is real - but there I go with that darn circular thinking. When I say real - I mean - vulnerable - open to being corrected - letting others see my faults but also see that I want God to work those icks out. Not settling by using a "keeping it real" attitude as an excuse for not trying harder to be more. I do not want to be self-righteous or plastic. The whole setting myself up on a pedestal is not acceptable. I fall way too much to do that kind of thing.

I guess my whole thought process here is - when it comes right down to it, talking about people is wrong. But when you do  - say your sorry. Try to not do it. And don't use excuses to keep from having to apologize or to keep wedging your big ol' nose in there to find out the scoop.

Totally talking to myself. If you see you in there too - well - you do you. (wink. heart. smile)

God bless and keep us all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Release

Sunday morning I woke up and dragged myself and my boys to Kingdom Community at my church (Sunday School). I got there late and was too embarrassed to go in and interrupt the teacher so I hung outside. I saw our children's minister and began talking to him. Our oldest children just graduated from high school. We started talking about their future plans and how God is leading them. I started tearing up as I told him my fears for my babies. I did not do a good enough job. I failed them in so many areas. I have not prayed for them as I should. I did not make them do things I probably should have made them do, and now, in a few short weeks they will be away from me. And my heart cries.

In my discussion with him, I realized I am scared to death. I did not do right by my children and now they were going to fail at college because of me.

So Monday. I am slogging through this fear. I cannot see beyond it. I am totally captivated and en-mired in it. I accomplish nothing. I do not go to God. As a matter of fact, I start dredging up and making excuses for all of my failures. And I mention that God failed me in my mutterings. He has left me alone to dangle in my miserable little world (of MY creation). A friend texted me and sent me encouraging words from scripture and I ignored them. Instead of paying heed, I buried myself in reading and watching Netflix. I put off thinking at all by filling my mind with something that would keep me from both fear and accomplishing what I needed to. I envisioned things that were unholy and self serving. I did it until the wee hours of the morning. I did not want to lay my head down. I was mentally and physically fatigued to the point of wishing when I closed my eyes, I would not wake up again.

Now - I am not normally a melodramatic person. I truly hate drama. And yet - I reveled in it yesterday. I drummed it up and danced around it. Ridiculous.

I slept. Finally.

This morning my heavenly father - whose mercies are new every morning met me where I was - in the mess I had made in an unfettered mind run amuck. My mind was still and I went downstairs to a pot of coffee that had been made and left for me by my husband. And I sat with it and reached for my devotional book written for moms, and it led me to this scripture:

Romans 5 NIV

I am undone. The Gospel - so simple and so rewarding -  can be so offensive to an independent mind like my own. I think it is all up to me. The Gospel says it is not. I think that if I mess up, that my life and those touched by it will not prosper. The Gospel says that is not true.

My hope lies with a God who sacrificed his Son so that I might live an imperfect yet significant life. This life of struggle is a beautiful thing - when my mind is set correctly. The law which I am so set to follow and do on my own, only points me to Christ in my failure to be able to accomplish it. My "I got this" attitude is a smelly mess and serves no one well. Because honestly, I do not have this. I WANT to have this. I WANT to accomplish and prosper by my own hand. I WANT to be a person who is admired and loved by those accomplishments. But that is not possible. I end up failing and berating myself and utterly miserable.

The Gospel says that I have HOPE in the midst of my sin - my inabilities, my failures, my stubborn refusal to trust.

And the gem that truly makes my heart relax, my mind rest is this:

Romans 5:20b, 21 But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Grace. (the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.)  In spite of my failures, God holds out grace to me and to my children. Does God expect my perfection? My abilities? Even my consistency? No. He knows me. He knows my lack of ability, my inconsistency and my imperfection (vast ) - He sees it and loves me anyway. I cannot comprehend it. It is where I fail to trust him every time.

This morning I am praising God. He has raised me up in the midst of my misery to a new hope and fervor to be faithful to show him and his mercies to my family and to those who are much like me. They will be fine. He will show himself faithful to them, just as he has been to me. I pray they are better at listening and believing than I am. I pray they do not beat their heads against a wall in their attempt to do it all by themselves. But I am afraid they are much like me and will have the same struggles. But God is faithful. They will be fine.

I hope this finds someone and encourages them as it has me. God is gracious in his love toward us. On that we can rely.

God bless and keep you!