Not Your Standard Measure

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When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw

Sticky Notes of Goodness

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You are good and the source of good; train me in your goodness. (Psalm 119:68MSG)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I walked into the home of a couple that had been given dire news. He had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a poor prognosis. We were all reeling from the shock of it ourselves as just a few weeks prior he was teaching our Sunday school class with the depth of a scholar and the passion of one who knew what it was to be forgiven.

His study desk had been replaced with a hospital bed, an IV pole stood where his lampstand once did, medicine bottles lined a side table and there he lay. She told me he wanted to be in the same room where he met the Lord each morning to read, pray and study, knowing he would soon meet him face to face.

As I was walking from the study, down the hall, through the living room to the kitchen to put away the food I had brought, I noticed something…sticky notes….on the walls, the furniture, the countertops, the cabinets, in the bathroom…they were everywhere. Some had just a word or two; others were completely filled.

She and I sat down to have some coffee and conversation and I asked her about the sticky notes. She shared with me that this had been the hardest thing she had ever had to face and yet God was showing his goodness in all sorts of ways. She started writing them down on sticky notes as reminders when she was feeling extra sad or overwhelmed.

I walked out of there having learned something that would remain with me through some of my own difficulties and disasters, headaches and heartbreaks, faults and fears, turbulence and tears.

The goodness of God is immutable which is a fancy pants word meaning unchanging over time.

God is good even when…

I am not. I used to think God was only good to me when I was good. That somehow my behavior determined his goodness towards me. And yet, while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

God is good even when…

Others are not. People can be mean. We can feel unwelcome, uninvited and unseen. God doesn’t pick sides. In his goodness, he welcomes, invites and sees each one of us. Look for the goodness. It’s there. He’s there.

God is good even when…

Our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be or in the time frame we wish they were. God is good. And God is good at being God. I am a work in progress but I’m learning to sticky note his goodness along the way of waiting.

God is good even when…

Life is not. There have been so many things that have happened since that day in Shirl’s living room 20 some years ago. Hard things. Long periods of time where I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Loss, sickness, devastation, marriage stuff, kid stuff, family stuff, health scares, you name it.

God’s goodness remains steadfast through it all. We can experience peace and joy no matter what, not because life is always good but because God is.

I’m not sure what made me think about this time with Shirl and Bud. Maybe I need to get my sticky notes back out. Maybe you’re going through some stuff right now and need to get some sticky notes of your own.

God is good.

Always.

kw

 

When Life Throws You Zingers

I had to chuck a chicken this morning. My man warned me one wasn’t doing well so I wasn’t surprised when I went out to feed them today and she was laying face first in the mud. But I hate it, nonetheless. I grabbed my shovel, scooped her up and walked out as far into the field as I could and hurled her with all my might. Sigh.

I walked back around the corner by the beehives and noticed minimal to no activity. They were just buzzing beautifully last week. I opened up the side window to see what was going on….silence…that’s what was going on…absolutely nothing.

My garden is experiencing what I call summer time sadness. Weeds have taken over, the green bean plants are half bunny eaten, the cucumbers are drying up, the zucchinis are pitiful, the corn stalks look ready for fall décor, the lima plants need pulled. Winter is coming.

My neck of the woods is feeling a little decapitated this morning. Maybe you know the feeling.

Then I noticed something as I was turning around to head towards the garden gate, a spot of hope, a ray of light…

The Zinnias are still blooming. 

I had a choice. I could focus on all the things that have gone wrong today (already). Or I could look for the zinnias. I could let a million things get me down. Or I could see the beauty before me in the midst of the million.

Interestingly, I had to look up to see it. The zinnias were standing head and shoulders above the sad surroundings of the rest of the garden.

I know, I know. I’m not trying to be a perky Pollyanna who’s blowing heart shaped happy out of her hookah pipe. Life can be hard. Way harder than a dead chicken, bees and plants.

When life zaps you with zingers, look for the zinnias. They are everywhere if we would only look up, beyond our circumstance, above the noise, shining bright and offering a hand.

As a woman of faith, sometimes my Zinnias look like…

Prayer. Because God knows I enter that closet not because I’m super spiritual and strong but because I’m just the opposite.

Scripture. His word is powerful. Don’t discount it. Read it. Do it. Memorize it. Meditate on it.

Meditation. Stilling the mind is a practice that must be perfected so when life sends a colony of stinger zingers, I can quiet the buzzing. (Don’t give this away as some Eastern voodoo kind of thing.)

Zinnias can also look like… 

Coffee with a friend who is safe for you. There is something about being heard and validated that gives you the strength to keep going.

Being a friend. Sometimes when we ourselves are struggling it helps to help someone else. It gets us out of our own funk.

A counselor or pastor. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to seek professional help because sometimes the venom from stings just gets in too deep.

A note given or a note received. Ever gotten a letter, text, card, shout out, word, encouragement (whatever form of communication you choose) at the exact moment you needed one? Ever sent one having no idea how badly the recipient needed to hear it?

A meal, a visit, a smile, a hug, a pat, an understanding, a reassurance, a laugh, a cry, a kindness.

These are all Zinnias.

Then there’s this little thing called gratitude. It sure sounds lame as you’re looking at that stinger pulsating its venom. But there’s something about having an attitude of gratitude.

Renowned cognitive neuroscientist and brain expert, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, when you are thankful your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain (neuroplasticity.)

 Thankfulness is like plastic surgery for your attitude and it’s free!

 Research expert and author, Dr. Brene’ Brown says, There is no joy without gratitude and joy collected over time fuels resilience.

 While your circumstances may not change right away, your way of thinking can. Who doesn’t want to build resilience (that bounce back ability) to zingers? One of the ways we do this is by finding something (anything) to be grateful for in whatever our circumstance.

When life throws you zingers, look up! There’s a zinnia close by.

kw

 

 

What We Have Here…

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It’s Monday morning and I just read the Sunday paper. It’s not something I typically do. We get the paper for the coupons and I like to do the crossword puzzles. Keeps the mind active. As I was looking for the section that always has the puzzles, a headline caught my eye, so I read it, which led me to the second one.

The first, titled Life Becomes Tabloid Nightmare for Family was about a high school senior who gave birth two days after her prom and proceeded to bury the newborn in her backyard, spring of 2017. There are speculations and the investigation is still going on. Some say the baby was alive. Some say it was stillborn. Some say she buried the infant to protect her reputation. The parents deny knowing she was pregnant. Reports say the body was dismembered. The whole thing is disturbing.

What kind of person does this?

The second article was 4:28 of Terror and Heroism, which gave a play-by-play account of a shooting that happened in downtown Cincinnati just last week. It was just a regular workday until a random guy decides to walk into a lobby and start shooting. One woman was hit as she was walking into work, already on a conference call, clueless to what was going on. The shooter kept firing at her. She was shot twelve times in all. She survived but three others did not.

What kind of person does that?

God help us.

I went about the rest of the day with these stories laying heavy on my heart and images that cannot be unseen in my mind. Both stories are vexing. Why didn’t I stick with coupons and crosswords?

How have we come to care so little about the sanctity and sacredness of human life, no matter the age, race or gender? How have we come to a place where our reputations become more important than the life we carry inside us? How can we be so angry and harbor such hate that we can walk into a lobby (or gay bar or anywhere for that matter) and gun people down? How do you look into the face of another person and shoot them twelve times total?

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. (Jeremiah 17:9 MSG)

I know there are complex answers to the why. There’s all manner of details we won’t (and may never) know. Background, history, evidence, truth. I don’t begin to understand it all or know the right answer. People will argue every angle. Then argue some more.

Politicians and lawmakers will carpe diem(!)and make you believe they are fighting for you. But if we think they, who ooze corruption, hold the answers, we are sorely mistaken. I’m on your side, said the spider to the fly.

I’m not here to argue gun control and freedom of rights. I’m not here to have a row about Roe v. Wade. Though I think we should be able to have commonsense conversations about these things….

What if what we have here is an issue of the heart?

A lobbyist could not change the dark heart of the man in the lobby that day. Only God could. A lawmaker cannot change the heart of a deceived young woman who hid, had then buried her newborn. Only God can.

What about you and me? We, too, have hearts that are easily deceived, capable of all manner of things. Oh, we may not shoot someone in the literal sense but we shoot people down if their opinions differ from us. We use words as weapons and the argument about who’s right keeps the pot stirred and anger brewing.

And Satan has an absolute cackle over it.

What if I asked the Lord to  help me care more about sharing the good news of the gospel then to lobby for my leanings? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to spotlight any darkness in my own heart? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to see others as He sees them? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to create in me a clean heart and steadfast Spirit (Psalm 51:10)? What if you did too?

God help us, he will. As only God can.

kw

Shout out to the law enforcement officers who were there in Cincinnati. You’re bravery and quick action saved many people that day.

You Are Not Forgotten

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Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many? (Andrew the disciple in John 6:9)

Being a Mom is no joke. (And all of God’s Momma’s said…) I am down to my last of five being at home. I still pack his lunch every morning, not because he can’t do it but because I want to and because he’s the baby so his older siblings will tell you I love him the most…

Anyhoo…I sat down one morning to figure out just how many lunches I have packed through the years. If I packed lunch 100 days out of the school year for an average of 8 years for 5 kiddos that’s an estimated 3,830 lunches! Holy Jif! That’s a lot of peanut butter and jelly! (Don’t get me started on the loads of laundry. With mustard seed faith I’ve moved mountains…of dirty clothes…)

I’m surprised I’ve never thought of this before but sometimes reading something familiar causes us to simply skim through a story. Maybe you’ve heard of the time when Jesus feeds 5000 men (not including the women and children which would put the estimate at about 15,000 people) with a little boy’s lunch of five loaves of barley bread and two small fish? Truly miraculous!

I reflected on a couple of things as I was rereading this account in John 6…

First, does anybody else find it incredible that this little guy and his meager meal was somehow found among 15,000 people? Not that this matters in the scheme of things, it just adds to the mystery of how God moves.

Second, in all my years of hearing messages and reading through this story I’ve not once thought of the one who packed the lunch. There was a Momma on the backside of this story.

And I wonder…

Was she there in the crowd? Did she send him to hear the words of the One who was healing the sick? Or was she tired of his boy energy and gave him something to do, somewhere to go for a moment’s peace and quiet? Can you relate? (Hello Awanas my old friend. It’s good of you to kid sit for me again…)

Did she have to check the bread for mold and give the fish a sniff to see if it was still good? (Ever sent your kid to school with questionable bread and turkey past the expiration date? No? Then we can’t be friends.)

Was it bread and fish because payday was coming, they were down to their last little bit and it was all she could put together? (Two ends of the bread can still make a mean PB&J right?)

I’m not trying to takeaway from the miracle of feeding the masses from a meager meal. Or glorify the Mom instead of God.

Not at all.

It’s to encourage you who are doing the mundane, the everyday, the simple acts that nobody sees or seems to care about. It’s to cheer for those who wonder if what they do day to day really matters. You’ve wiped noses and butts and feel stuck in a rut. Picked up toys and are tired of noise. You can’t answer another why or hear another cry.

God sees you.

God used a lunch packed with love, an ordinary, everyday task to feed hungry souls for His kingdom work. The same God that made a miracle from the meager will use you too!

In the middle of messy.

In the middle of mundane.

He makes miracles happen.

You are not forgotten.

Keep packin’!

kw

 

 

Whispers in a World That Roars

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For who has despised the day of small things? (Zechariah 4:10) 

I’ve been feeling a bit…hmmm…how should I describe it?…not bored exactly because there is ALWAYS plenty to do. (And when I was little if you said you were bored around my Granny she would find you something to do. So, nope, not bored.)

Maybe restless would do. Like a horse standing in the starting gate stall, hyped up on energy, knowing something is about to happen, a race that’s about to start but the gate hasn’t quite swung open. Yeah. Maybe that would be it.

I’ve been in a perpetual state of being still, of watching, waiting, knowing, learning, leaning, listening, for several months now and I feel like I’m getting bed sores. I guess it’s in this restless state, this time right before the gate swings wide, that my being still is the hardest and will be put to the test. Take off too soon? False start. Lag when the gate opens? Get left eating dust. Or worse, stepping in someones poo.

Do I trust God’s timing? Or will I ram the gate open and do my own thing (again)? Will I listen to the world’s roar for more? Or will I wait for the whisper of what to do next?

Being still can be a lonely place when everywhere you look is a fast paced race. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of big and loud and forget that God sometimes speaks to us in a whisper…

In 1Kings 19 Elijah’s feeling pretty alone too. God tells him to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.

So he does and a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks…(it’s probably the rush of wind as everyone else’s stall doors open and they take off for their race…I’m just kidding.)

…but the Lord was not in the wind.

 After the wind there was an earthquake…(horses hooves perhaps? Again kidding.)

but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

 After the earthquake came a fire…(I knew it! All the trailblazers went ahead of me!)

but the Lord was not in the fire.

 And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 Sometimes God speaks in big and mighty ways like busting people out of jail, tearing down the temple curtain from top to bottom, or you know, raising people from the dead. He makes blind men see, lame men walk, deaf people hear and mute people talk. He makes a crippled back straight, changes water into wine and possessed women fine.

But sometimes in the midst of the roar he whispers.

I see you…

He’s cares about one lost coin, one runaway sheep and one prodigal kid. He praises the mere giving of a widow woman, meets people one on one, and applauds mustard seed faith. He sees the single Mom trying to make ends meet, the nursing Mom during the middle of the night, the person trying to be caretaker to littles and parents, the man working a second job to provide for his family, the foster parents making a difference, the social workers, the counselors, the sacrifices, the laundry, the monotony…

He is in the sacred places of the everyday. He sees the small things, the ordinary things. Don’t discount that. He’s been merciful to show me that, as I’m standing at the gate full of nervous energy about what’s to come, ready to go, I’ve actually already started….

We’ll keep talking about those sacred places of the everyday this month.

Until then, here’s a prayer from me to you:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for the thy love’s sake. Amen

(The Book of Common Prayer page 71)

kw

 

A New Wildflower

I found a new wildflower. It’s strange that I’d not seen her before. She’s where I walk every single day to feed the chickens. She almost looks like she’s smiling at me wooing me to take notice. Things have a way of popping in your path just when you need them to.

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Meet Prunella…she really wants to be your friend 🙂

Her common name is self-heal. Her botanical name is prunella vulgaris. The first part sounds an awful lot like pruning; the second like vulgar. Interesting.

If you’ve ever been through a season of pruning, you know it can be painful. Vulgar if you will. Not in the lewd sense but in the crude, raw sense. It hurts when you feel like all your blooms have been cut off, while every other flower looks lovely and beautiful. You stand there hanging on to your one stem barren and broken.  You wonder if you’ll grow again, if you’ll ever begin to bust out a bloom.

So how in the world is vulgar pruning self-healing?

Pruning the Suckers

 Many plants will develop what are called suckers…those low lying shoots that suck the energy from the main part of the plant. The plants growth is stumped (not completely stopped) until the suckers are cut away.

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Suckers on a Korean Dogwood that needs my snipper attention.

Ask anyone today how they are doing and they will inevitably answer with some manner of Busy. We’ve filled our work calendars, our social calendars, our kids calendars to the overflowing brim and wonder where our energy went. We’ve grown suckers without realizing it and for the sake of healing need to cut some things away to free up time for self-care.

Pruning the Dead

Last spring I got ahold of some sand cherry trees that were in desperate need of having the dead cut out of them. It’s growth and beauty was being overshadowed by the unsightly cadaverous branches. The pruning was harsh but the result was rewarding.

Have you ever done something simply because it’s what you’ve always done? I’m guilty as charged. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and evaluate the things we’re involved in or people we’re involved with, things we volunteer for, things we simply do on repeat to see if there’s any areas that have died a slow death and you’ve yet to notice it’s covering up your reach for the sky. There’s something therapeutic about pruning away all the dead to see what beauty lies beneath.

Pruning the Buds

Way back before my thumb was the least shade of green my father-in-law was down for a visit. As we were walking around the yard, I was showing him all the perennials I had planted and was shocked when he told me to pinch back the newly forming buds on the geraniums.

Say what?

He went on to tell me that doing so would increase the amount of flowers they produced. It made no sense whatsoever but I listened to his sage advice and he was indeed right. (Never mind that I planted part of my perennials in mulch instead of soil but that’s proof that anyone can become a green(er) thumb.)

Of all the life pruning this one makes the least sense and can be the most painful. Sometimes we are asked to cut out, snip off areas that sure look like they have promise. Areas that would bloom if left alone.

Here’s the thing, many times we settle for good enough when God wants to give us great. Is it because we’re afraid to prune the bloom? We can’t see the bouquet because we’re hanging on to a single stem.

Take heart my Wildflower Warriors…

Prunella Vulgaris, common self-heal can sure feel like anything but soothing.  It takes time to rest and reset, to recover and reveal the purpose. But when we trust the process we can be sure healing will happen.

kw

 

 

 

 

Girl in the White Bell-Bottom Jeans

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Not normally one to seek out adventure, I threw caution to the wind, got out from the safety of the middle and decided to try my hand with the faster, more experienced kids.

I should have known better.

But I’m getting ahead of myself so let me back up a bit.

My brother and I were the second set of kids my grandparents raised. Money was tight on Grandpa’s swing shift job working the burn off at Anchor Hocking. My Granny helped in all the ways she could cooking, keeping house, and sewing. She sewed most all of my clothes.

My younger self didn’t begin to understand things like single incomes, budgets and frugality. I just knew that nothing screamed poor like matching gingham shirts and pants. All I wanted to do was fit in. I wanted someone to notice my clothes, not because they were making fun of the homespun, but because I was setting a fashion trend. For once I wanted to hear the girls ask me where I shopped for such a cute outfit.

Much to my delight (and seven day work weeks for my Grandpa) I got to get a store bought outfit in the spring of my third grade year. I was the shizzle getting off the bus and walking in to class that day. I had the cutest little solid red top that fit perfectly. The pants? Oh my word!  White bell-bottom jeans trimmed with a red cuff and white polka dots. And not just any bell-bottoms. No. These were elephant bell-bottoms! Bell-bottoms that had bell-bottoms. Throw on some new white Keds and I was ready for the runway, setting trends and blazing fashion trails that left all things gingham-checked in my dust…

I was having the best day.

That is until I decided to get adventurous and push the (now banned death trap) merry-go-round on the playground. As you might have guessed, it didn’t go well. It got going faster than my little girl legs could go and since I wasn’t used to jeans with flared bottoms, well, I took a pretty good tumble. On a side note: It’s important to let go once you fall down, otherwise you keep going but not on your feet.

The boys laughed and the girls gasped and I got all kinds of attention I hadn’t bargained for nor wanted. My hands had rocks embedded in them and both of my knees and one hip were bloodied. That wasn’t even the worst of it. The school nurse could clean and cover those with ointment and Band-Aids. But what of my pants?

I felt a little like Ralphie from The Christmas Story who thought his mom wouldn’t notice his busted up glasses. My pants were shredded at both knees and down one thigh (remember to let go…) with so much dirt and blood you couldn’t tell there was a red cuff let alone white polka dots.

What was I going to tell my Granny? She asked all manner of questions: What was I thinking? Why didn’t I stay in the middle where it was safer? Better yet, why get on that thing at all?  Your Grandpa worked hard so you could have those jeans and you ruined them because you were goofing off  and being full of yourself.

I don’t know if these were the exact questions but it was the gist of what I walked away with. Somewhere along the way, that day translated into: being adventurous and carefree equals getting hurt and disappointing people. It equals falling and failing.

Unknowingly, that day followed me around well into my adult years.  Afraid to draw attention. Afraid to be brave. Afraid to get out of the middle.  Afraid to be carefree.  Afraid to let loose and go fast. Afraid to disappoint. Afraid to fall. Afraid to fail. Always playing it safe for fear of busting up my best bell-bottoms.

Oh, this memory wasn’t like a cash transaction where I purposely handed over money in exchange for fear. It’s more like an auto-pay where you don’t even think about it until you see the withdrawal on your bank statement. I simply kept forgetting to cancel the auto-ship on a package I no longer wanted.

I began to recognize that little girl in the torn and now bloodied bell-bottomed jeans was embedded in my thoughts like those rocks in my hands. Always reminding me. Silently berating, shaming. Once I understood it was her that was whispering like the wind… don’t venture too far too fast, you’ll fall down, people will laugh, better play it safe, you don’t want to disappoint… I began the process of picking out the lies, of healing the hurt, of mending the tears, of telling her it’s alright. Ever so slowly I began to inch my way out of the middle, to put myself out there, to know I could fall and fail but also get up and try again. I could have fun and go on adventures. And it was okay.

The girl in the white bell-bottom jeans?

She is me. Only better. Maybe she is you too?

kw

 

 

 

In the Weeds With Me

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I cannot believe it’s the last day of July! Where has summer gone? Here’s what’s gone down ‘round here…

In the Library

Here’s what I read this month…

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This an excellent book if you like World War II history. It’s based off the lives of some unsung heroes. The author blends several stories of real accounts and rolls them together to create a beautiful fiction depiction. One of my favorite quotes is But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.

Create vs. Copy by Ken Wytsma  

Everyone is born with God-given creativity waiting to be unleashed. When business slows, when funding dries up, when the home environment is tense—these are the moments that call for creativity and imagination. Are you ready?  I needed this book as a reminder that I am made in the image of God, a Master Creator, who created, creates now and will continue to create in, around and through me.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Shawn is a psychologist who lays out seven principles or strategies that help us wire our brains for positivity and optimism. He doesn’t come from a Polly-Anna-life-is-always-wonderful approach but from a life can be hard but here are some ways to rethink the crappy parts approach.

The Giver Lois Lowry

One of my goals is to read more books off The Great American Read Top 100 List sponsored by PBS. This is the first one. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. It did not disappoint.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

She never disappoints! Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Brene lays out ten guideposts to what she calls wholehearted living. This is a re-read for me with new underlines and highlights for where I’m at right now. Must read!

The Fiery Cross  by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fifth of eight books in the series. If you are an Outlander fan you will know this is the continuing story of Jamie and Claire. He is an 18thcentury highlander from Scotland, she is a time traveler from the 21stcentury. This has been the least favorite of mine in the series so far. I got bogged down in some of the details but you cannot not finish it due to all the new characters etc. Anybody else read(ing) these and not care for this one as much?

Here’s what I’m getting ready to read…

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In the Garden

There’s just something about growing things that tickles me to no end. To think that you can put a seed in the ground and a few short weeks later you have something to eat for dinner is amazing…oh the wonders of simple things.

We’ve grilled zucchini, made chocolate zucchini bread (this makes eating your veggies a breeze!), eaten and canned green beans and crunched on cucumbers. Nothing tastes better than eating the results of your blood, sweat and tears.

But not everything has done well…

In the Weeds

My basil is a bust this year! I planted it in the same pots, used the same soil, same seed company and it is wimpy at best. Being determined to grow some, I moved off the patio and out to the garden boxes where I planted an entire box of basil, five rows with even wimpier results. I mean the green beans are right next to the basil and are going gangbusters. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for it to not grow. My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for basil…at least around here. But I will continue to try.

As I was thinking this conundrum through while out weeding other areas of the garden, I realized that parenting can be much like this: You provide the same environment, pour out the same love and nurturing, the same discipline and determination and the results aren’t always what you thought they would be. Some kids bust a move and grow. Some bust up your heart. (Some just plain wear you out at times.) It makes not an ounce of sense.

My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for the growth you wanted but DO NOT GIVE UP! Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep providing. Keep nurturing. Keep pouring in.

Hang in there parents. Eventually that seed will produce the harvest you knew it could.

Thanks for hanging in the weeds with me!

kw

 

Faith > Fear

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Fears. We’ve all experienced them. We’ve all wrestled with them. Some have conquered many of them. Others still struggle. Sometimes fear pops up quicker than an Eggo waffle out of the toaster. You thought you had worked through that thing but nope, there it is joining you for breakfast…pass the butter and syrup, please. Is there any coffee left? What kind of creamer did you buy at the store? You know I like French Vanilla.

Fear lives with you like an old friend, like you are some sort of bed and breakfast just waiting to serve her every need. You’ve become so familiar with her presence you don’t know what it’s like to not have her company.

But is it sin as was stated on a social media thread when I asked what kept my girlfriends up at night with worry? Nothing shuts down a conversation quicker than the blanket statement Fear is sin. (Emphasis on the period.)

The Bible talks about it a lot (Some say there are 365 “fear not’s” written. One for every day.) Maybe God knew we would have much to fear in this wacky world we live in. Maybe “fear not” is meant as an encouragement and not a command. The only thing he tells us to fear is him. Maybe that’s so our focus shifts from the thing we fear to the One who can help us fight our fear. Maybe fear gives us an opportunity to actually grow our faith.

Here’s what I know about my own dealings with the things I fear or have feared.

Trauma

Some fears seem unwarranted or silly. For example, I do not like being in the middle of a crowd if I don’t think I can get out. So I sit as close to the end of a row as I can get and know where the nearest exit is. We won’t even mention car washes…

We can have all kinds of experiences that plant a seed of fear within us. Death. Divorce. Disease. Abuse. Abandonment. Anxiety. Worry. War. Family. Loss. Sickness. Natural disasters….and not even realize a root of fear started to grow because it.

It wasn’t until I sought help that I realized where this fear of being trapped came from. It was something that happened to me as a young girl. The counselor gave me tools to deal with the fear, to talk myself through it, and breathing exercises so I can go to crowded places and enjoy myself without (too much) fear. (I even went through the car wash by myself…once…)

If “fear is sin” then I will sit in the middle of a crowd thinking I’m a bad person for feeling paralyzed by fear and never ask for help.

It’s ok to talk to someone about your fears. It’s ok to reach out for help.

Truth

Some of my fears are bathed in lies. Fear of not being good enough, thin enough, perfect enough, smart enough, talented enough, tough enough, pretty enough, loud enough, soft enough, adventurous enough, smooth enough, delightful enough, lovable enough…you get the picture. Did I hit any of your “not enough’s”?

Some of my fears have been or are my identity. I’m just a worrier. You are no longer you, the person. You suddenly become your fear. Anybody else ever said those words?

How about fear of failure, success or loneliness?

Then there’s the fear that we’re gonna mess our kids up beyond repair?

I hate to break it to you (and remind myself): we can’t mess up so bad that God can’t fix it. We aren’t that powerful. He is the best Repairer, Redeemer, and Restorer of all times.

To combat the lies, seek Truth. Find scripture verses that are opposite of the lies you believe. Read who you truly are based on what God says and not what your fears say. Satan is the ultimate accuser and wants you to sit in those fears, afraid. Get ticked and do otherwise.

Maybe fear isn’t sin but a subterfuge from Satan to keep us from living the full life God has for us. Just a thought.

Trust

I love/hate when God gives me current examples. I really want to share those things that have healed over nicely so I can show you there’s barely even a scar from battling with fear. But…

I have had an opportunity to fear the past couple of weeks. I have to admit, I sat in it for a bit, stewed on it for a couple of days and invited it to breakfast. And just like that she was back like a comfortable old friend, asking for French Vanilla creamer and a muffin.

We had conversations around this thing and the more we talked, the worse the fear became. Doesn’t matter about what. It could be anything really. The point is I let her stay way too long before I remembered she wasn’t a welcome guest in my home.

My reminder? God. I remembered I hadn’t talked to him about it. I had spent so much time playing every what if…scenario in my head, running them by my familiar friend (foe?) and allowing thoughts to run amok that it completely slipped my mind to simply pray about it.

I was trying to control it all and played into the lie that I had to. Did I trust Him with it? Would I give it to Him?

So in the middle of pulling weeds in the garden, I confessed my fears, my dreadful what if’s and doomsday scenarios. I conceded control and felt way better.

I don’t think fear is a sin. I think it lets us know we are human in need of something bigger than the thing we fear. It helps us to recognize the frailty of our fears when put next to the enormity of our God. Maybe the bravest thing we do is let God know when we are afraid. Then let HIM deal with your guest who is no longer welcome.

Oh and pour out that creamer…she is not the boss of you!

kw