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

Taking Care of You During High Trigger Times

 

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I was turning into the last quarter of a six-mile walk when I spotted two construction trucks lining the road. They were parked in front of a house that sat a bit further than midway down a cul-de-sac. I stopped dead in my tracks as I watched the men go back and forth from their trucks to the outdoor project they were working on.

Do I dare keep walking my usual route?

I’ve walked this particular neighborhood many times, know several people who live in it and lovingly call it the ‘hood because it’s anything but with its beautiful homes on spacious, large lots. I always feel safe walking there, even when I’m alone.

Not today.

My thoughts were all over the place. From: I will not let them dictate where I will and will not walk. It’s the middle of the day for Pete’s sake. To: don’t be stupid, be safe. Turn around and walk away. Back to: you give them the power if you walk away. You can always scream you’re on your period if they try something. (side note: this was something a cop told a group of ladies to say at a defense class many years ago.) To: if something were to happen you know people will blame you. After all, why would you walk down a road by yourself knowing there are men there?

All those thoughts in a matter of seconds. I looked around at the houses on the rest of the street and there was not a neighbor or dog outside so I turned and walked away disappointed, angry, confused.

I finished the six-miles (except for that one little bit) but not without realizing we aren’t as far as we’d like to think in this world. Maybe we haven’t come a long way baby. I’d like to tell you this was many years ago instead of this past summer but I can’t.

For the rest of the walk I had flashes of things that I had put to rest long ago…

Like being disappointed in myself for letting them/him “win”.

Like berating myself for not having my phone with me at all times. Just in case. Just because. There may be a man. In the middle of the day. In a safe neighborhood. Or in my childhood home so I could swim.

Like telling myself I deserved what I got for having a bathing suit on when I was molested as a young teen. Never mind the fact that I had just come in from swimming. I was told that if I hadn’t been dressed like that…

So I exchanged the swimsuit for a cloak of shame that I wore until my early 30’s when a therapist told me it didn’t matter what I was wearing, what happened to me was wrong. He had no right to violate me. Period.

I should be able to swim in a bathing suit just like I should be able to walk down a cul-de-sac where construction workers are working without fear of being hurt. Without men justifying bad behavior or others excusing it because I’m the one who should know better.

I’m sharing this with you because this triggering, these thoughts, happened on a bright sunny day as I was doing something I love to do in a safe neighborhood. It caught me by surprise. But that’s what triggers do sometimes even after years of therapy.

I can only imagine what the news and social media outlets are doing to trigger some of you who are reading this. You can’t scroll through Facebook or watch the news lately without seeing loud opinions on both sides….I Believe Her. Confirm Kavanaugh Now. She’s a liar. He’s a rapist pig.…have brought out emotions, finger pointing and a marathon blame game of he-said, she-said played under the big top of Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

This post isn’t about that or even them.  It’s about you who may be tempted to put that cloak back on, blame or berate yourself or send yourself down a spiral of no good.

Take care of you. The counselor I see off and on now will ask at the beginning of each session how I’m doing in three areas: mind, body and spirit because all three make up the whole you and all three are important.

Here are some things I’ve been doing in each area to keep myself healthy during this high trigger time:

Mind. Turn off the news and put your phone down. I like to stay informed and want to know what’s going on too but I can watch for ten minutes and find out what I need to know. Social media was nothing but exhausting and had me so worked up mentally with all the name calling so I stopped scrolling. Watch a movie, read a book, meditate, pray, make affirmation cards, take a nap, take a class, look at recipes, have coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend…anything to engage the mind in a positive way.

Body. Get up and move. Get the positive endorphins going. Did you know you can’t be angry/depressed while you exercise? Ask a friend to take a walk in the park. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. Get your hands in the dirt. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass. (There is scientific evidence that this grounds you and there are microbials in the dirt that helps combat depression!) Eat healthy. It’s so easy to eat junk while mindlessly watching the news circus or scrolling through social media. Watch your alcohol intake. By watch I mean limit. Get the right amount of sleep for you and your body.

Spirit. Be still. Light a candle. Drink some tea. Read through the Psalms or Proverbs. Start a Bible study. Go to church. Connect with a small group. Serve others in some way…a nursing home, preschool, animal shelter or hospital. Volunteer somewhere. Write your favorite scriptures on a note card. Fresh sheets and new jammies are always a good thing.

Last but not least ask for help if you need it. Talk to someone, a friend, pastor or counselor.

You matter.

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

 

Two F Words and a Book Review (Part 2)

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When sleeping women wake, mountains move. (Chinese Proverb)

There was a special section in the Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday paper last week titled 1968 The Year That Transformed the Nation which intrigued me so I read through it. One part in particular caught my eye: “Radical Women” find their voice, which is about a young woman tired of the patriarchy and feeling silenced so she decided once and for all to put the “act” in “activist.”

My first thought was, why should it be considered “radical” for a woman to want to be heard? Doesn’t everyone? My second was, have we made much progress in the past 50 years?

My friend Barb, who has lived a lot of life, made this comment with regard to part one of this two part series, So many of us have walked this path much of our lives. At less movement than a snail’s pace, this culture is beginning to change but you have to really search to see any of those minuscule changes. 

Because three of our five kids are strong, independent thinking women, I was a teensy bit taken aback at my man’s (their father’s) reaction of Oh, Lord, when I was talking about the book by Sarah Bessey called Jesus Feminist.

I get it. The word feminist conjures up all manner of images with the most recent being a handful (in the scope of the whole) of women marching for equal rights wearing vee-jay-jay costumes and hoo-ha hats on top of their heads.

Or maybe you envision a group of women sitting around a bon fire, smoking cigars, drinking bourbon, bashing the boys and burning their bras like a bunch of angry hussies.

To each their own but I don’t care for bourbon and I certainly don’t want to burn my bra. What I would like is to trade the ill-fitting, uncomfortable underwire that pierces in places it shouldn’t for a sports variety that will help me run my race well.

Feminism at its core simply consists of the radical notion that women are people, too. Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance—not greater than, but certainly not less than—to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women. (Jesus Feminist page 13 Kindle edition)

Don’t give this word away my church going gals. It’s meant for us too. Jesus leveled the playing field by treating us with dignity and respect. He listened to, loved on, taught, honored, walked beside, challenged, wept for, worked with, defended, talked directly to, met and included us. Women, just like you and me, in a culture that did not value females

If you look at the essence of the meaning, Jesus was and is a feminist. He is for women. Talk about radical.

What about this snail pace culture and in particular within the church? I don’t think there’s one pat answer. As people of faith, we sift our theology through Scripture, Church history and tradition, our reason and our own experience. (Jesus Feminist page 57 Kindle edition) We need to keep having conversations where we can. That snail will eventually get to where she needs to go.

In the meantime, we live out our calling by using the gifts and talents God gave us. I ended part one with this: Something I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) through the years, I kept waiting for an invitation to sit at the table when really the Table has been waiting for me to take my seat. I didn’t need a man to help me fulfill my calling because I answer to the call of one Man….Jesus.

I lost several years sitting in a pew being angry, hurt and confused thinking I couldn’t do kingdom work because I had tunnel vision that it was synonymous with church work. There’s a whole lot of kingdom outside the walls. The same God who gave you those gifts and talents will open the doors for you to use them, if you look for opportunities.

I got this text from a good friend of mine who works as a court advocate for abused women: The table (outside of the church) is so long & wide. I would not have found my seat here if my main focus was “church ministry.”

We don’t have to be a pastor to be a minister. We can choose to minister each and every day. To our families. To our neighbors. To the sick. To the shut-ins. To the Mom who is struggling. To the wife whose husband left. To the one whose diagnosis is scary. Maybe you’re the CEO of a major corporation or you may be in a season of ministry where those you are ministering to has jelly on their face and sticky fingers. Do it with all the gusto!

We don’t have to be behind a pulpit to preach the good news. We can choose to “preach” by clothing the naked, offering a drink, visiting the one imprisoned (oh these can mean so many things!), working in a homeless shelter, giving out of our abundance to those who have nothing, tutoring kids, and being kind (for goodness sake!). The world is dying for some Good News!

We have to stop waiting to get the nod when God has given the green light to go. You matter! You have worth and value and a voice and a place where you are called beloved by God.

I am surrounded by strong women. Women who are entrepreneurs, pilots, stay-at-home Moms, working Moms, foster Moms, nurses, doctors, advocates, law-enforcement, business owners, students, communicators, administrators, clerks, clergy, teachers and more! Do it Soli Deo gloria! For the Glory of God alone!

I swiped the last page of this book being proud to be a woman, an image bearer of the One who sees me! This book made me shout a few hallelujahs and hell-yeahs. I don’t want to burn my bra. I want to blaze a trail!

I am a Jesus Feminist.

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

 

 

 

 

Real Ladies Don’t Have Tattoos

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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

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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

 

Aquanet, Cicadas and Fear

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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

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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

 

 

Footprints and Paths

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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