Real Ladies Don’t Have Tattoos

thumbnail

The Atlanta airport was crowded as people were waiting to board the plane to New Mexico. I scanned the area looking for a seat.

Excuse me, sir. Is this seat taken? I asked with a smile.

The man looked up, smiled back and said, No, help yourself.

After settling in with my Starbucks and Kindle, I noticed the man began to fidget just a bit. He looked over at me and said Real ladies don’t have tattoos.

He then got up and walked off.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with someone who had thoughts about tattoos but it had been awhile so I was taken aback for a minute. My first thought was Real gentlemen don’t act like jackasses either! (Of course this creative comeback was after he left…probably just as well…sigh)

My second one was Dear God, please do not let him be seated next to me on the plane! (In His mercy, God forgave my first thought and granted the second.)

This man had no idea who I was, where I was from, what I did for a living, where I was going. Nothing. Except that I had a tattoo and he had an opinion.

Kind of ticked me off a little.

I wasn’t going to share this story but then I read an interesting passage a few days later in Luke 7 with a line that caught my eye.

Jesus gets a dinner invitation from Simon who was a Pharisee. While there, a woman of apparent scandal comes with her alabaster jar of perfume. She kneels down and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair then proceeds pouring the perfume over them.

Instead of recognizing this intimate act as one of asking for forgiveness or one of worship, the Pharisee was disgusted that a.) she is a sinner and b.) Jesus seems to be oblivious to that fact. Maybe this Jesus guy wasn’t who he said he claimed to be after all. (v39 paraphrased)

Jesus then turns back toward the woman and says to Simon, Do you see this woman?

Funny question. I imagine everyone SAW. But did they really SEE?

Simon looked at this woman and only saw a sinner. Jesus looked past the sin and could see a woman.

How many times have I looked at someone and not been able to really see them because I couldn’t get past the outer appearance or my preconceived opinion or my own arrogance? How many times have you?

In her book Braving the Wilderness Brene Brown talks about how the dehumanization of people starts with calling names and forming opinions based on assumptions. (Everyone should read this book!)

The moment that man in the airport looked at me, saw my tattoo and immediately summed me up as not a real lady…I became less human in his eyes. He didn’t really see me, only my tattoo.

Dehumanizing happens when we jump to judge and no longer lean in to learn.

I can think of several ways that people are being made to feel less than. The following are just a handful, maybe you can share more. It’s when we…

Look at an overweight person and assume they are lazy.

Walk past a person of a different color than us and clutch our purses tighter or assume they think they are high and mighty.

Look at a person whose lifestyle is different than ours and not see them, only their “sin”.

Walk past a homeless person and assume they don’t want to work.

Look at the single Mom paying with food stamps and tsk, tsk.

Look at a person’s political stance and immediately assume you are either a snowflake and stupid or cold hearted and callous.

We form opinions about people as whole groups without ever getting to know any one in particular. We look but do not see, without ever hearing their story.

Why? I really don’t know. Do you?

Maybe it’s easier to judge than to learn. Maybe if we got to know someone we would have to get down off our high horse (everyone has ridden one at some point), change our opinion or, heaven forbid, our way of thinking.

Maybe if we really took the time to see the person and not be so quick to critique we would realize that they are more than their weight or sexual preference or political side or skin color. Maybe there’s a story there that you have no idea about.

Maybe if we took a minute to listen and learn we would understand how the homeless came to be living under a bridge or the addict got to where she was or how that Mom became single.

Maybe if we stopped looking and started really seeing, we would show more kindness, compassion and learn to love people who think different, who look different, who act different, realizing we are ALL human beings needing to be seen, valued and loved.

Since practice makes perfect, let’s practice this…

No more name-calling.

No more jumping to judge…let’s leave that to God.

Stop LOOKING and start SEEING.

Imperfect progress is still progress and sure would make the world a better place.

kw

 

 

Roundabouts, Reason and Realization

th

Does anybody else find roundabouts confusing? There’s a new one close to where I live and I was trying to picture in my mind where the exits would lead but simply wasn’t sure. (There is nothing logical about my sense of direction…)

One day when I had a few extra minutes, I took one of the exits to see where it would lead and ended up where I still recognized where I was but it wasn’t where I thought I would be. At least I wasn’t going around in a circle afraid to exit for fear of getting lost anymore.

I got stuck on a roundabout in my brain recently that had me sucked into the circle, confused as to which exit to take for fear of taking the wrong one. For a couple of days I felt as if I were on a ride where the gravity of spinning keeps your back against the wall. It does keep you from falling but also from going anywhere but around in a perpetual circle.

I could choose the road marked Picture Perfect for People. I have taken this exit before. It leads to a subdivision called Show Well Way. And even lived on Legalism Lane for a short stint.

In this neighborhood, you go to church every time the doors are open and work at every event offered, otherwise you will a.) “miss the blessing of God” or b.) get ostracized the next time you go. The verse to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) gets layer upon layer of rules added to it.

Condemnation is king. I once heard a lady say as she was walking out the door, I love to hear him preach. I feel so condemned when I leave. I thought she was joking at first but sadly she was not. (The Holy Spirit convicts not condemns…there is a difference.)

Perfection is preferred. Fight with your husband, spank your kids in the car, be depressed and deal with your junk on the way to church but when you walk through those doors…coiffe your hair, smooth your skirt and put a smile on your face. When someone asks you how you’re doing simply say, fine. You don’t want to be the one who puts the scratch on the vinyl of perfection.

All the while, people are hurting. People are struggling. People are wondering if they are the only one.

No. That’s not the exit I want to take nor the subdivision I want to live in. I sold that house long ago.

So I go back around the circle. I can choose the exit marked God’s Grace is Good.

When I first met people who were grace extenders…those who don’t purse their church lady lips and tell your daughter that it takes one sip of alcohol to be on the road to an AA meeting…it took awhile to let my guard down, to let them in, to simply be me.

But I’m so glad I did.

I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. We struggle. We fight. We have had renegades and seasons where depression almost won. I have a tattoo, (read more about my experiences with that here:     ) drink wine on occasion and call the deer flies a bad name when I’m mowing and they’re biting.

And I love the Lord more now than ever.

Some will say, this is blasphemy, tear their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. They will say that I’m taking advantage of God’s grace. I don’t think so. Which is worse…

Giving the false persona that I am a perfect Christian woman who has her act completely together. Or admitting where I’m flawed but always pointing the way to the One who is not.

When I was living on Legalistic Lane, I was worried about what people thought of me, but not necessarily what God thought of me. Perception was everything no matter how I was actually living. I tried to be good for the sake of show. Now I’m just me. I’m not afraid to admit where I fall short knowing his grace is enough for me in this moment. If I’m struggling in an area, I ask for help.

But aren’t you abusing grace? some may ask. God’s grace isn’t a ticket to sin. In fact its affect has just the opposite. It’s this grace, not people and their doctrines, that now drives me to continue to grow…in my faith, in my love for him and the people he puts in my path and yes, strive to be more obedient to what His Truth says to do. (And ask for forgiveness when I mow!)

I am a work in progress. And will continue to be until the day I meet the Lord face to face.

And so, for a hot second, I thought about taking the exit of picture perfect and moving back to the old ‘hood. But then said, nah, there’s no reason to be afraid to take the exit of the goodness and grace God has for simply being me.

The funny thing is whether you resonate with the first exit or the second; both are in need of Grace. So…

Just be you and I’ll just be me. And together we’ll be ever thankful for Grace.

kw

 

Letting Freedom Ring

3d74c0578c2c38e92280cb8d5d7f7412

Happy July! On this day in 1776 Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain’s tyrannical king, George III. Two days later, on July 4th, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was commemorated and has been celebrated in the United States ever since. Freedom fighters fought long and hard, blood was spilled, lives lost so we could live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, freedom fighters and what it is to be a people who live free. I keep going back to this verse…

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

What does it mean to live truly free? Jesus’ whole mission was an operation of liberation. People were living under a heavy yoke of oppression with no hope of ever being able to live out the law. Besides that, the Pharisees kept adding to their load making the weight of it unbearable. We don’t begin to have enough space to talk about the Gentiles and their issues.

Jesus is the ultimate freedom fighter whose death lifted that yoke by fulfilling the law. Jews (and the Gentiles who thought part of following Christ was following Jewish law) were no longer under this laborious load of impossible rules and regulations. He had a new way, His way.

What does it mean to stay free? You would think that we would bask in this burden free way of living but as Timothy Keller says, our freedom is fragile and can slip from our grasp. (Galatians for You) Jesus brought with him a message so foreign, so unfamiliar to them (and us?) that I’m sure at times it was easier to slip that yoke back on. At least they knew the feel of it, heavy as it was. Anybody else go back to a comfort zone for the sake of the familiar?

But Paul says we have to stand firm against going back there. Living under the yoke of the law (spiritual) or the bondage of sin (physical/mental) are both enslaved ways to live and is the very thing Christ freed us from.

I sat down yesterday afternoon (this was not originally today’s scheduled post but it won’t leave me alone so here you go.) and came up with a list of what walking as free people in Christ looks like.

FREE PEOPLE…are forgiven

  • and forgiving
  • live loved
  • aren’t controlled by the past
  • or scared by the future
  • laugh more
  • rebel against the establishment (Jesus was a rebel!)
  • aren’t chained to bitterness or resentment
  • aren’t afraid
  • aren’t easily offended
  • see beauty in the broken and worth in the wounded
  • are for the outcasts, misfits and least of these
  • don’t judge
  • are dangerous to some (the Pharisees who don’t like free)
  • aren’t afraid to speak the truth
  • let go
  • don’t harbor, hoard or hate
  • don’t manipulate
  • be self-controlled not controlling of others
  • listen long
  • simmer slow
  • love the unlovely
  • know their worth
  • give more
  • notice
  • don’t take anything for granted
  • appreciate differences
  • don’t feel the need to always be heard
  • breathe easier
  • sleep better
  • are kinder, gentler beings
  • know meek ain’t weak
  • love lavishly

…just to name a few!

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1 MSG)

Be a freedom fighter. Bust out, be brave, live free!

Feel free (see what I did there) to add your thoughts on what living free in Christ looks like in the comments section below.

kw

 

Aquanet, Cicadas and Fear

fullsizeoutput_34b
Glamour Shots Circa 1980’s

We were traveling down the flat stretch of Highway 22&3, cornfields on the left, the outskirts of my small hometown on the right. The water tower stood tall in the center and was painted with school color pride, orange with Home of the Aces written in black. It was the 1980’s version of GPS guiding folks home.

I was with my then boyfriend turned husband in his ’67 VW bug. She was a real beauty, several colors of oxidized red with a lone blue fender. It was a four speed on the floor with lots of pep despite the rusted out floorboards that were hidden by galvanized plates. (My man would like me to mention here that she was undefeated in races….whether this was his skilled driving or her verve is still talked about today.)

We had not a care in the world that summer day. With the windows rolled down (God’s air conditioning) and blue skies ahead, life was good! I don’t remember where we were going or from where we came when it happened.

The ping ping-ing of the VW engine was met with another, different sounding ping. A bug had hit the side mirror. No big deal. Except that our windows were down. All the way. Still, no big deal, right? Until…

It started singing the song of the summer cicada in my ear because that thing landed in my hair! And not just any hair. It was mile-high, permed with thick curls, Aqu-netted to get you through a storm, ‘80’s hair. (See photo above…oh wait…how could you not…that’s some big hair!)

I flapped my hands, shook my head and jumped (hurdled?) into the back seat of that ’67 VW faster than drive-in movie date night. My screaming turned to whimpering as I curled up in a fetal position and cried. Why?

FEAR.

I loathe cicadas. Of all the bugs in all the world, it had to be a cicada to stick its landing  with a perfect ten in my hair. My brave boyfriend is driving and weaving all over the place to try and find this vile creature that I had shook (or scared) out of my hair. Not until it was found and flung outside did I come up to the front seat. He was my hero that day and probably the main reason I married him.

We laugh about this now. But fear is no laughing matter. We have ample opportunity daily to be afraid. In a recent Facebook post I posed the question: Friends, especially of the female persuasion…I am curious to know…what do you struggle with or fear? In other words, what keeps you up at night?

Nearly 50 of my girlfriends commented. That’s a lot of angst. The reasons were wide in range… Kids was the number one reason whether young or old we parents worry about them…their safety, their health, have we done more harm than good in the way we raised them? Have we ruined them beyond repair? Then there’s our health and the health of our families…mental, physical and spiritual. Feeling out of control and not liking that one bit. Fear of failure and not meeting the needs of everyone. Finances. Future. And those dreadful iffy’s.

Yes. Opportunity to fear knocks quite rapidly.

I was at a conference recently where we sang a song that said, I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

 So why do we? I stood there singing these words knowing I do fear. Sometimes it’s a fraidy cat fear, other times it’s paralyzing.

Notice it doesn’t say, I no longer fear. But rather that I’m no longer a slave to fear.

We live in a fallen world where the sky is blue one minute and a cicada is in your hair the next. How I react is key.

I can allow the enemy a victory (because we know, according to 2Timothy 1:7 fear is not from God so guess who it’s from) and be enslaved by it. (Who wants to let the devil win? He’s just dumb.) Or I can be like King David, admitting when I am afraid and run to the arms of my Father.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

Fear not appears many times all throughout scripture, not as a command so much as it is an encouragement that WHEN you feel fear, admit it, confront it, control it. Often times it’s followed by a for I am with you (our Father has our back.) Don’t let it win.

Being set free from something (anything) doesn’t mean the disappearance of it. It means we can face it head on, trusting God will give us the strength we need WHEN we need it.

I have a Father that could crush cicadas with a mere thought. Shoot, he’s even bigger than my ‘80’s hair and stronger than Aqua-net in a tornado. I’ll bet he’s bigger than anything that you fear too.

We’ll keep talking this through some more. Because that’s what we do…encourage, empower, engage…in the meantime, I’m watching out for cicadas because ‘tis the season and I’m a work in progress.

kw

Gifts, Rifts and Solace

fullsizeoutput_349

It’s hard to believe I’m six months in to this year of Solace theme. The older I get, the faster time goes. It’s been good with lessons learned…some fun, some hard, some in progress.

We celebrated my man on Father’s Day. He got the most diverse gifts from the kiddos this year…. a speedboat for the pond, two sassafras trees and a pedicure. (He kept asking all of us girls about what it was like to get one so…) He will be the fastest boat racer with the best looking feet in Warren County, standing between his sassafras trees and alongside his sassy wife.

(On a side note: If you read about me traveling with my man, aka Mr. Diamond, in the Speaking My Language post I must confess…he DID offer me his seat in first class when they bumped him up. My internal dialogue went straight to the not good enough. I don’t fit in with first class people because I am not a first class act. I wouldn’t even know what to do to be “proper.”  Sigh. I still have work to do on me.)

For Mother’s Day I got a kit from Ancestry.com. You can learn a lot from a little spit. I am 58% Great Britain (with a wee bit of Ireland/Scotland/Wales thrown in for good measure) and 23% Scandinavian (my love for burning things as therapy makes total sense now…Viking pyre anyone?)

My sister (who has her own dad drama to tell) asked if I doubted that Dad was really my dad (which she found out in college was not her Dad…you guys…visions of a Super Soul Sunday outside, with a backdrop of fall foliage and peaceful sky while sipping hot cider turns into a Jerry Springer beer brawl real quick with our upbringing.)

And though this wasn’t that kind of kit, I told her yes. He had often “teased” through the years that he wasn’t sure I was his. My sister and I both agreed that at this point in our existence it really wouldn’t do either of us any good to find out for sure who’s your daddy. We had step-dads but they sounded more like the beginning of a bad joke…a gambler, an old man and a drunk were sitting at a bar…

She made the comment that she has been pretty much fatherless her whole life and didn’t need one now. But then again, have we ever truly been without a Father? Earthly? Perhaps. Heavenly? Never. We just didn’t always recognize (or allow) him to be at times.

God has shown himself faithful during these six months of solace. But why am surprised? It’s who he is.

So much to learn.

I also discovered if you write enough words for people to read, you will (eventually) offend someone. I got a message from a friend who wrote As a dear friend please take this critique knowing it comes from my heart. I started to read your blog this morning but you lost me at the word “bejesus.” She goes on to tell me why and then asks this question: how do we as Christians become all things to all people in order to save some and at the same time not be conformed to this world?

I replied Thank you for caring enough to share your thoughts. I guess I don’t think of that word as offensive or a bad word. I certainly don’t mean it as such but could maybe find a different way of expressing that idea. I do try to be the real me when I write though so balancing all that is a delicate dance for sure. I do have more thoughts but am heading out for a walk…

The word bejesus is an exclamation attributed to the Irish, used to express surprise or for emphasis. It has nothing to do with Jesus, the One I love. But that’s not the point I suppose. Where is the balance of being me yet not offending? Of being a work in progress and yet not making that be an excuse? My friend admitted to being legalistic at times and asked Am I being too rigid?

All good questions that I hope to write about next month so we can have some discussions around it.

I also learned that we (my girlfriends and me) live in fear of many things. Way too many! So along with the above topic to discuss, I am writing a series titled Freedom From…

How appropriate for the month of July!!

Here’s to six more months of Solace, writing and the adventures of faith!

kw

 

 

Now We Wait…

18620269_10211739517997700_3549956804435775782_n
This is me in the early years of garden training. I still love my wheelbarrow!

We won’t be “knee high by the fourth of July” (that’s garden talk for how tall your corn should be by then) but we did get the whole garden planted a couple weeks ago. It’s a little late going in but with the weather and work schedule…well, we may be harvesting during Christmas break but at least there will be more people here to help. (Smile)

In the meantime, we do something many struggle doing. We wait. We aren’t a very patient people when it comes to waiting well. The garden is a classroom full of learning….patience, grace, sweat, trust, hard work. It’s good for the soul and cheaper than therapy. (And you get tomatoes… 🙂

There are things we can control….which seeds to plant, where we plant them, garden design, soil amendment, fencing the area and the amount of work we put in weeding, tending and nurturing.

There are things we can’t control…the weather and whether the seeds will germinate. Then there’s the animals…birds eat the seeds, bunnies eat the young shoots (green bean leaves are apparently a favorite), raccoons eat the corn…you can’t “relocate” them all 😉

One thing gardening has taught me…trust the process. We’ve gone out everyday to watch for any changes. It started with noticing bumps of soil where we planted seeds. A couple days later we began to notice pods that had busted open or tender shoots that had broken through. How it knows to do what it does is amazing!

We worked the process and the process worked. Mostly.

Some areas aren’t thriving like other areas. Some seeds didn’t bust open. They didn’t even break through the soil. That happens doesn’t it? The same care. The same environment. Different outcomes.

Sometimes you have to start an area over and reseed.

The waiting is hard. The results can be frustrating. You can do everything right then a big storm comes and washes away all your work. You end up growing corn in the next county.

And reseed again.

thumbnail.jpeg
We planted 21 boxes, an heirloom tomato patch, several rows of corn and more. We added chicken wire fence to the fence to keep the bunnies out…hopefully.

What about in life?

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. (Audrey Hepburn)

When we care for something (someone), we want to see it grow, mature and change. But we have to trust the process here as well.

There are things we can control like the seeds we plant…love, kindness, generosity, hope, joy. The words we speak into someone…affirmations, honesty, wisdom. The environment we provide….safety, warmth, discussions.  We can weed and protect to the best of our ability. Dirty knees are the sign of a warrior of weeds and a person of prayer.

But. (Always a but!)

There are things we cannot control. Like the time it takes for those seeds to take root. The world around those we love. The environment that those we care for choose to surround themselves with. Sickness, cancer, divorce. Weeds…what’s with the weeds?! One day there are none and the next you can’t find your tender shoot anywhere!

Trust the process!

Keep nurturing. Keep sowing love and kindness. Keep showering in prayer. Keep having conversations. (Nagging, arguing and judging are not the same as conversing.)

Everyone’s germination period looks different. Some take time to break open because they themselves have been busted up. (Read more about being broken here…  )

And just when you think you’re lined up in neat rows, a storm hits, sending your hard work all over the place. Dang it. But keep going…

Reseed but never recede.

I know questions come in the darkness of night when the house is still but your mind is anything but. The what ifs. The whens. The hows. The doubts hang on you like an x-ray apron, making it hard to breathe let alone hope.

But remember this…

Just because we don’t see anything going on doesn’t mean there’s not. A lot of changes are happening deep down. Cultivation comes about underground, out of eye sight. We can add the Miracle Grow but only God grows the miracle.

thumbnail
Green beans and limas are up as well as winter and summer squash and zucchini for “bikini bread” according to my grandson. Cucumbers and peas are loving the trellis. 🙂

Be patient. Change will happen. Your garden will grow. Hope abounds. For now, we wait.

kw

The Day After Father’s Day

fullsizeoutput_343.jpeg

It’s Monday. The day after Father’s Day. You can breathe now. You made it. I know it was tough for some. For others, you just don’t think about it too much. I get it. Truly. So I thought I would share the prologue (at this point) to my book in the works, followed by a few thoughts afterwards….

To say that the relationship with my dad is peculiar would be pretty accurate. We do have one, I guess. It’s just…different. We don’t really talk. We don’t spend much time together. We no longer send cards at the Hallmark best times of the year. And yet, I know if I really needed to, I could call him and he’d be there. I could ask him for anything and if it was in his power to do it he would. So strange.

I’ve been so hesitant to write this book because I don’t want you to hate my dad or think poorly of him. I don’t hate my dad or think poorly of him. Our relationship, or lack thereof, just is what it is.

You see, I was born on August 3, 1965 into a marriage that probably should never have happened anyhow. But seeing as how my mom got pregnant her senior year of high school with my brother three years earlier, my dad did “the right thing” by her and so a shotgun wedding took place. And those of us who have lived much life know that if you ever do something because you feel you HAVE to and not because you WANT to…well it makes for a recipe of messy.

So they added another kid. Me.

And then divorced a short few months after I was born. My older brother and I lived with my paternal grandparents from the time we were 3 and 18 months. They provided everything we needed: food, shelter, clothing, stability, love. They were the best. And yet there was always this place within me that was searching. This place that seemed empty. I grew up never quite feeling like I belonged. Like I never quite measured up.

It’s hard to understand big people issues when you’re a little girl. The absence of my father wasn’t so much about rejecting me as it was about his needing to get away, far away; from my mom, from our small town, from reminders of mistakes made. I know that now….years later.

I also now understand why I cringed every time a pastor talked about God as my Father. But I’ve learned, my Father loves me. And I let Him.

This is my story of how I got there… 

Many of you get this. This searching. This yearning. This hole. Maybe your dad was never in the picture. Maybe he left by choice. Maybe he passed when you were young. Whatever the reason, those of us whose dad’s were absent growing up spent some time struggling.

It wasn’t until years (and some therapy) later that I began to understand the role of God as my Father. I was so tenderly stubborn to open my heart to such love. A love that is immeasurable and unconditional. I couldn’t fathom it.

I spent my entire younger life trying to be good enough (or bad enough) to get attention. I wanted to be seen, heard and loved by someone who simply (and honestly) didn’t ever really want kids.

The beauty of this story is it’s not new. The Bible tells us so. There are women all throughout this ancient script that discovered the love of the Father.

He sees you just like he saw Hagar in the wilderness after she had been rejected. (Genesis 16) He sees you in your wanderings.

He sees you just like he saw Leah whose father thought it took trickery for anyone to love her. Leah never measured up no matter what she did, until she turned her eyes on her Father. (Genesis 29) He sees you in your trying.

He sees you just like he saw the woman at the well…thirsting for something more than relationships gone wrong. (John 4) He sees you in your desperation.

He sees you just like he saw Mary Magdalene who had demons. In fact she had seven, which some scholars believe meant she was wholly possessed. (Luke 8) He sees you in your despair.

And so on this day after Father’s Day, breathe and remember…

You are seen.

You are heard.

You are loved.

You are valued.

You are adored.

You are treasured.

You are delightful.

You are beautiful.

You are you.

kw

 

Footprints and Paths

thumbnail

I’m sitting here binge-eating Cheetos. I suppose doing so makes me feel like I’m getting away with something sinister. Tomorrow morning is my first day with a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. She is going to wear me out real good so the jokes going to be on me.

I’m wrestling with words today. Maybe in some weird way, crunching a Kool Kats snack will give me some inkling of an idea what to say to you. I think I’m stuck because I want to say soothing words, healing words, words that matter. It’s the week leading up to Father’s Day, which brings all manner of emotion.

There are those of you whose Dad’s are still around and you know them and love them. What an absolute blessing!

There are those of you whose Dad’s have passed away and whether those wounds of grief are gaping wide open or scabbed over, you still miss him. You wander down the card aisle willing yourself not to search for the one you’d give him if you could. Father’s Day brings with it a melancholy of memories, thoughts, smells, trips, clothes, and sounds.

I’m sorry. Sorry for your loss. Sorry for your sadness. Sorry for the hole left in your heart when he passed.

We wish that time would do what only God can…heal our hurt, soothe our soul and grout that gaping hole.

There are those of you whose Dad’s have passed you by. You grew up wondering why? Weren’t you pretty enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Enough of anything enough? You wonder what was wrong with you that he didn’t want to be your Dad? Instead of feeling like a princess, you felt like a pauper. Unwanted. Unloved. Unseen. Unheard.

I’m sorry. Sorry for the years you weren’t valued. Sorry for the times you felt unloved. Sorry for the voice never heard.

We wish that people could do what only God can…love lavishly, value voraciously and hear your hearts cry.

I really wish we were sitting across from one another right now. Words on a page seem, I don’t know, too black and white, too bleh. But I’m gonna try the best I can…

I have no idea why things happen the way they do. Like why do some people get great dads and some people get dads who are, well, not even in the picture? Why do some great dads die way before they should? How do some people get past their grief and here you are stuck in a pit for so long that you’ve wall papered and painted? Why do some people still care what their dads think when their dad could care less?

I was walking down the driveway after a fresh snow had fallen and I noticed footprints everywhere. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to them. Big ones like a coyote. Hoofed ones like a deer. Small handprints like a raccoon. Large thumping ones like a rabbit. All hither and to. No rhythm. No pattern.

But when I looked from my second story window, I could see definite paths that were taken, trails that made more sense. Some led to the creek where the animals could drink. Some led to the field out back where they could seek shelter. There was a purpose when I changed my perspective.

I must trust that my heavenly Father is good even when things here are not. I need to believe that God is good at being God even when things are hard and I don’t understand. I have to believe that he knows the journey I’m on and there is purpose in the path that is mine.

He sees from a different perspective, from a different point of view. A view we cannot possibly understand most days. But I can lean in when the grief is great or when I need to know Someone is proud to be my parent.

I know these words may fall short of what you need, like clichés sprinkled with Cheeto dust. I don’t mean for them to. I can’t explain it.

I just know on the days when I let God be God, I don’t yearn for something that cannot be because He fills that gaping hole magnificently.

He sees you. He loves you. He hears you. He wants you. He cares.

kw

 

 

Speaking My Language

wineandcheese

My man and I  were on a flight coming home from visiting our daughter in New Mexico with a layover in Utah. My man has a fancy diamond traveling status and was greeted like royalty everywhere we went. Me? I got the pat down (or feel up) and treated like my mascara wand could give McGyver a run for his money on creative ways to land the plane.

“We” were Mr. Wright’ed at every turn. How was your flight Mr. Wright? Anything we can get you Mr. Wright? Would you like to bump up to first class Mr. Wright? (And he DID! But that’s a story for another day! He did meander to the back of the plane to offer me his dessert…) No wonder he likes to travel…

All of that would have been super annoying except that his status got me a welcome to the Sky Club Lounge any friend of Mr. Diamond is a friend of mine greeting from the woman behind the lounge counter.

I found us seats with the best view to people watch while my man got us plates of bread and cheese and me a glass of wine. (Mr. Diamond ain’t so bad after all.)

All settled in, I casually sipped my wine, nibbled on my snacks and critiqued the unsuspecting travelers. There was the lady beside me talking on her phone to someone who was obviously VERY hard of hearing. We ALL heard about her family member who was in the ICU and how she hated leaving her there etc. etc.

The lady in front of me, who’s back was towards me, was getting peeved at loud lady. Every time loud lady answered hard of hearing lady, peeved lady jerked her head around so fast I thought for sure it was going to snap off and land at my feet. Peeved lady would dramatically turn back around and aggressively pet her Shitzu who was failing its one job of being any emotional support to its master.

There I sat casually sipping and nibbling. Would you like another glass of wine Mr. Diamond’s friend? Don’t mind if I do.

Meanwhile a group of five women came in, sat down, took two sips of their drinks then decided they were late to their gate and left. Leaving behind full plates of food, bottles of beer and glasses of wine. Such a shame. Especially when the entertainment was so good!

That’s when I spotted him.

His nametag said Jean. He was a table busser and had come over to clean up late-to-the-gate-party-of-five’s-mess. This twenty something’s demeanor was quiet. I tried to make eye contact…not in a cougar-ish way but in a sucks to clean up after people kind of way. I’ve bussed tables….it’s a thankless job.

He finally did glance my way. I smiled. He politely nodded. (Maybe he had heard that I wielded a mean mascara wand and didn’t want to engage. Or maybe he knew I was a couple of glasses of wine in…anyhoo…)

He made his way around the lounge, cleaning tables, being polite and quiet. Loud lady and peeved lady had left. So I sat there watching Jean work. Something intrigued me about him. (As I’m typing this out, I realize how utterly creepy I sound…)

He never engaged in a conversation. He never interacted with the travelers. He simply went about doing his job. Until…

I heard, more than saw, a couple come in who were conversing with each other in French. Jean’s eyes LIT UP. His body language and whole countenance changed as he made his way toward the French speaking couple. He was grinning from ear to ear as the three of them conversed. There was energy in his step the rest of the time we were there.

Creepy lady (that’s me) realized something that day; we all need someone who speaks our language. We all need people who hear us, understand us, who get us. How foreign do we feel when we think we’re the only one struggling with something? How isolating is it when we think we’re the only ones who fight with our spouse or who have prodigal kids or feel less than sometimes? How alienating is it to think that other Mom’s never get tired or heat up a frozen pizza for dinner or hide ice cream bars to eat late at night after bedtime?

We need each other! It’s why I share real life on here. The thing I hear the most from women I counsel? It’s nice to feel like I’m heard. Not judged. Not fixed. Not shamed. Simply listened to.

To have someone speak your language, to walk beside you and get it, is the best gift we can give.

Au revoir Jean! Thanks for the life lesson! (And the wine!)

kw

 

 

 

In Light of This Weeks News

We’ve got to do a better job talking about this. The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdaine prove once again that you can’t judge a book by its cover; you can’t simply look at someone and know what’s truly going on.

Money and fame doesn’t scare depression away. Status doesn’t give you immunity to mental illness. I’m not talking about just rich and famous status here either. The church (in general) often makes those who struggle feel less faith filled, less Christian. (Read more about that in an article I wrote last year… http://lookoutmag.com/offering-light-and-hope/ )

We’ve got to stop assuming we know someone’s story. If we truly got to know most people, we would be pretty surprised at the things they’ve gone through, the things they struggle with or the things they think about themselves.

We live in an age that has more ways of being connected than ever before. And yet we are the loneliest, most disconnected generation that’s ever been. We post what we want people to see. We’ve stopped talking (especially to those who think differently than we do.) We opt to show our lives in picture perfect posts instead of having real, live conversations.

I wonder if we really want to?

Would we rather just go about our own lives and not get involved? It’s easier, I suppose. To walk a rough road with someone is hard. To reach out and help someone who struggles with mental illness is sometimes awkward, as we don’t usually know what to say or do. Reaching out is a great first step. Telling the person you don’t know what to say but want to help is a start. Simply listening helps.

We’ve got to put down our phones (or the million other distracting devices) and start having conversations again, in person, around the table, on a porch swing, in a coffee shop, at a park…somewhere face to face. Put away your opinions and shock face and listen, really listen to each other.

Lord, give us the want-to. Amen