A voice from a girl- the voice you forget in all of this

I think we give too many people voices.Too many things that do not deserve another ounce of energy a voice. I am not saying that people should not be heard. I am saying we need to be careful who we are giving voice to. And who we are leaving behind.

I see  you making jokes and posting comments about Josh Duggar or some sandwich guy and what they did.  Giving your opinion about the horrific illegal actions that they took. I know that in your mind it is  funny or really disgusting and you need to let everyone know how you feel. Or what your stance is. You want to make sure that those around you know exactly what your opinion is. I get that. I understand. When it is election year or there is a new season of Downton Abbey on I want my voice heard as well.  But this is not that. This is not light and funny.

This is painfully too close.

You see there is a voice you are not hearing.

There is a voice that you are mocking every time you are making jokes.

I am the voice of the girl you do not hear. I am the voice of the little girl who died on the inside at the age of eight.  I am the voice of the teenager who never knew she had a choice. I am the voice of the college girl who gives herself away to anyone that tells her she is something. I am the voice of the girl who vomits behind the car in the grocery store praying no one will see her. I am the voice of the woman who numbs herself with anything that will stop her from feeling. I am the voice of the girl who screams in terror when monsters invade her dreams at night. I am the voice of the mother who cries herself to sleep thinking she could have seen the signs. I am the voice of the girl who carves her skin to feel again. I am the voice of the child who sees a therapist more than the playground. I am the voice of the girl on the outside looking in wishing someone would notice. I am the voice of the woman who will never know what healthy sex looks like. I am the voice of the husband who is angry at the man who took away what was his. I am the voice of the pastor who sits and hears the cry of a broken story that was never told. I am the voice of the girl who just needed someone to believe.

So while I know that you on the outside are angry and want to share how you are feeling.

I just plead with you to think of those whose voices are not heard.

To think about all of the young women and girls whose lives were stolen.

Let’s do better.

Let’s be braver.

Let’s be their voice. And stop giving it to those that take it away.

Tears on the pavement- why I let my son cry.

 

Last week my little man joined cross country camp. I am not a runner. Unless you count the ten times I started the couch to 5k app then yes I am a marathon runner. Obviously then I have no idea about running. Except that you sweat a lot and it really hurts us bigger chested girls. So here I am dropping him off at cross country camp at his new middle school and he is sitting in the passenger seat biting his fingernails like it’s his job. I am trying to ignore that he is biting his middle school boy nails filled with god knows what and try and focus on the why. We are going over the plan. I will drop you off now and be back later this morning before you get out. With the nods across the front seat he asks if I can walk him to the coach. Well you know anytime your eleven year old son asks you to do anything that isn’t gross or doesn’t involve a bodily function you do it.

We checked in with the coach and he sat down to tie his shoes that we just got that morning. ( I know, big runner mom mistake). As he is bent over I see that he is either already sweating a lot or tears are hitting the pavement.

“Buddy, what’s wrong? “ I ask in my I have already had coffee momma voice which is actually pleasant.

“I don’t know ANYONE” he whispers as tears continue to drop to the ground below.

It is one thing for my hormonal teenage daughters to cry or even for the littlest to cry when he sees that broccoli is being served for dinner. But when your athletic tender hearted eleven year old boy cries it reaches a whole new level of hurt in your mama heart.

And then I had a choice to make. In that moment it was a fight or flight moment. A moment where I could agree with him and then we run to the car together. Where we forget the whole running nonsense and go eat bagels instead.

Or we choose to fight.

I chose that morning to fight his fear and teach him to do the same. I asked him if I could pray over him and ask Jesus to give him confidence and peace. I prayed that he would meet a new friend and not be afraid of being alone, even if the answer was no.

And then I walked away.

I walked away from a son who was afraid and scared. Because sometimes mommas that is what we need to do. We need to stop being their saviors and teach them the way to Him.

I may have sat in the car for a while and had an ugly cry but I walked away.

This past week we had the opportunity to stay with a friend at their lake house. It was breath taking. Our original vacation that we had planned had to be cancelled and this was a last minute invite. It turned out to be one of the most amazing three days.

At one point we were all out on the speed boat and the kids were all learning to wake board. They all wanted to try and see if they could do it and try they did. After about ten attempts little man still had not made it up on the wake board. His skinny little soccer torso could not maneuver himself enough to stay balanced.  Yet the whole time he was floating in the water he had a smile from ear to ear. As we helped him back into the boat my husband complimented him on his persistence in trying.

There were no tears. There was no complaining. There was no comparing. There was only resolve.

Resolve in the trying.

The truth is this summer has been a summer of fight or flight. A summer of making the choices to stay in the fear and work through it or run away and numb ourselves with something or someone else.

As parents we have a choice. We can choose to teach our kids what we ourselves are working through or we can teach them the behaviors that keep us numb.

We can teach them that work will fill the void. We can teach them that eating is crap is okay. We can teach them that Netflix solves everything. We can teach them that silence means peace. We can teach them that drinking needs to happen at every social function. We can teach them that being busy is a good thing. We can teach them that their grades matter more than their character. We can teach them that a size defines who they are. We can teach them that they matter more than our spouse.

Or we can teach them to stay. To stay and fight.

Some days I am better then others. With some issues to put it nicely I still suck at. But I own it. I own my crap and call it what it is. My kids know my pile and see it. They also see me digging through it. Piece by piece calling it what it is and not walking away from it. I am choosing to fight through the fears that my behaviors are covering and realizing that this is just another thing for Jesus to redeem.

So while you may not see me running any marathons you will see me cheering little man on from the sidelines with his Target tennis shoes.

GNO’s and NGO’s – how authentic community heals

 

I sat on the floor of her formal living room. I don’t think I had ever been in there before that night. We usually walked by the serious room and made our way to the family room. The room with the large couches and TV. The off white carpet between my toes in the middle of February that winter night. Hummus, nuts, chocolate laid out on the table before us. Chai tea steaming in the kitchen as we each took our places.
We had been having our GNO’s ( Girl’s Night Out)  for years. We would meet at coffee shops restaurants, bakeries. We each had our favorite spots and each month we knew it was something to look forward to. We made a commitment to the friendship that we would pick at least one time each month that we would all four set apart for each other. When I was in Africa I just pretended like they stopped. Like one of the four wasn’t there so they stopped talking and having any fun. That is what I told myself. That the fun stopped because I wasn’t there. Very humble of me.

These girls know everything about me. I am my best when I am with them. I sometimes am my worst as well. They have traveled across the world with me to Liberia and have seen first-hand the work of selfless people living their lives in servanthood. And we have been there when babies are being born or brought home. We have inside jokes that no one else gets. We also have inside pain that no one will ever hear.

That winter night as we sat on the floor around the coffee table I shook with fear as my truth was revealed. We had not gotten together as a group since I had come home two months before. Depression had stolen the normal rhythm out of my life. And the truth was is that I was afraid. I was afraid to be outside. I was afraid to drive. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of night. I was afraid of myself.

I sat with my back slouched over with tears rolling down my face and admitted why we were here. In her home. Not out in public. Not dressed up and feeling fancy. Because what I was feeling was far from fancy, I was feeling raw and exposed. I had just told my truth. Told the truth about what PTSD was doing to my mind and my reality. I felt on that night that I may be saying goodbye to this normal. My life as it was I believed this too would be over. I was no longer going to function in their world if I were to expose the monster inside of me.

But this is the thing. When you have authentic relationships in your life. They don’t leave. They don’t follow any rules. They lean in. They see the pain and come closer.

So I told my truth. The truth that Satan was having a field day with my sanity.

The silence in the room was beckoning mercy to come forth.

Pain and truth had opened the door for a new layer of trust to be born.

And born it was.

These women sat on the floor next to me crying. Not for me. With me. They were entering into the pain and not leaving. They were not getting on their theological soap boxes and quoting scripture at me. They were not deleting me from Facebook. They were not thinking of a way to escape, they were crying.

They were putting a stake in the ground and deciding that what I was going through did not define who I was to them.
So we sat and we cried. We cried for the honesty that was revealed. We cried for the reality that things may change. We cried until I was done crying.

Authentic community does that. Someone very wise recently told me that “Authenticity is not bulimic truth telling. Digest the pain. Then share wisely.”

I chose very carefully who I told my truth to that night. I was living a hell inside my head that a casserole could not heal.

My pain needed a safe place to heal.

That night if I am being honest was one of the most difficult nights of my life. I was terrified that I was out of the house. I had come to the table a shell of who I used to be and yet the three most beautiful friendships were made clear.

They were my safe place. They were my net. They were where my truth would be sheltered and held.

That is what we all need. We all need those in our life that have seen us at our unhealthiest and choose to stay.

They may not agree with you. They may argue with you. They may even be Republican. But they stay. They stay and love you and laugh with you and heal with you.

They have become the filter I put every relationship through. How authentic can you be with me and how safe are you that I can be the same with you?

I believe very strongly that Jesus calls us into community.

But when he was at the table. When he was with his twelve or one on one is where true community happened.

It happens when we allow ourselves a safe place to be heard. A safe place to be understood. A safe place that is sheltered and held. A safe place where truth can be revealed.

 

Come to the table- an honest confession about my homosexual sister

A few days ago I sat across from the table with one of my most enduring friends. We have only been friends for a few years but the way we communicate you would have thought it’s been forever. She is the type of person your soul is drawn to expose itself to. A safe place where grace covers the door. Our two youngest are the best of friends. So while they were busy building a fortress for the ants they had found outside and disturbing anyone there to get any work done at the outdoor coffee shop, we sat across from each other and let the conversation take us to hearing/

We talked about the upcoming summer schedule and what that brought for both of us. We talked about Jesus and church and how we both understand they are not the same. We sat and we laughed and we talked and we heard each other. I crave these moments. Both being introverts we both felt like this time we had was sacred and protected. I began to talk to her about my frustrations with the church. How I am feeling the organic part of it never was and never will be. That I am programed to believe that we worship follows a program. That raising my hands can only be ok if everyone else in the room doesn’t feel uncomfortable. How I feel that if others could see behind my eyes and what I am raising my arms to they may see King Jesus on the throne with angels all around. That they could see the King of Glory with my face at his feet. That they could see my raising my hands has nothing to do with them and everything to do with how their own insecurities beckon them to believe that it does. I then opened my mouth and began to cry about how I have been feeling so lonely in a room of so many. Many who have walked our adoption journey. Our marriage roller coaster. And without a doubt these are my people. But how I don’t know how I fit into anymore. I don’t know how I got to the place where I am questioning things. Things that I had never thought about before when I was a new Christian and just eager to be around others who I thought had the same passions as I did. As I grew and learned and listened and asked questions I began to hear. Hear the same unsettled questions in those that were pulling away. And here we sat the two of us with coffee getting colder hearing what I needed to be heard.

I then started talking about my sister and I . A subject I don’t, I haven’t talked about with many.

My sister and I grew up in a home where eight years apart creates memories the other never got to experience. As we grew older though she and I were two peas in a pod. I adored my sister. She was brave and beautiful and said things that I was never brave enough to utter. She stood in the gap for the underdog and was more interested in becoming who she was then like I ,who was running from who I  didn’t want to be. In high school she “came out” and I fully supported her. I rallied around her and was her biggest cheerleader. I was still a baby myself having just left college with a new baby and no degree. I had no idea what I believed or didn’t believe. I just knew that I loved my sister more than anything and wanted her to be set free. As the years went by and I grew in my faith and then became engrossed in the church I started to develop a sense of pride about my faith and thus grew an ignorance wall. A wall around myself where nothing could shake what I believed. Not even love. So my self-righteousness was more important than maintaining my relationship with my sister. Painful years ensued. Things said and not said. Words thrown to keep the walls secure without noticing who they were tearing down.

I sat across from my friend with tears running down my face. I hadn’t realized how raw this memory still was. I asked her if we could still be friends. If I had ruined our relationship because I had just shown her a really ugly part of my heart.

She then said,

“No, you came to the table. You came to the table and brought who you are.”

That is what this is going to take. For all of us. To come to the table with truth. To admit what we believe and don’t believe. And to listen. Not to sit on our self-righteousness and call out the sin of others without looking in the mirror at ourselves. I am admitting that my anger and pride are sins that festered and grew into years of words unsaid. I wasn’t willing to come to the table. I wasn’t willing to hear only to be heard. That is such a lonely place to be. I needed to come to the table.

At the table there is love.

At the table there is grace.

At the table there is listening.

At the table there is peace.

At the table there is healing.

At the table there is forgiveness.

At the table, there I am.

I am at the table with my sister now. I am trying to hear her. I am asking forgiveness for years I should have drawn closer. I am at the table with a heart that is broken with shame. I am wading through the process of truth and hope. I am soaking in the laughter and memories in the moments we are given.

My sister. She is leaving next week. Moving thousands of miles away with her wife. My heart is so sad and tender about the goodbyes to people I love. I keep thinking if I wish it away the moving truck will never show up.

Yet again I know. She and I. We are still at the table. We are figuring it all out. How to rebuild what we fearfully tore apart.

The table is just needs to stretch to Colorado now.

Sorry Richard Marx I am so over you…..

 

When I was younger I had posters all over my walls. I had my Kirk Cameron phase of childhood crushes where I never missed an episode of Growing Pains. I would lie on my bed and plan out our wedding in my head. I was always shorter in my dreams so his height was never an issue. It was a very sweet wedding with lots of pillow kissing. I also went through an embarrassing Richard Marx phase of which we do not speak of anymore.( A mullet does not need to enter the conversation) And then there was a delusional stint of Michael W. Smith. Yes, you read that correctly. I had a crush on a man who was old enough to be my father. I even met him in person one time at a bookstore. There was a lot of thirteen year old blushing going on.  I then went through a phase of Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, and Alanis Morissette. This is what we called my “angry at the world but at least I knew what good music was” phase. I may have even waited for days on Michigan Avenue to hug Tori Amos. I seriously was obsessed. Anything that she believed in I wanted to believe in. Anything that she liked I willed myself to like it as well. Pasty white girls unite.

Here I am at forty and realize I still have posters on the wall. And if we are honest we all do. We all have people in our lives who have taken the role of idol on our walls. People who we admire can easily become people we want to be. We see someone else trying to lose weight and we think “that is what I need to do”. Not taking into account that you have no desire to lose weight, you just want to be like the other person. You just want to be a part of the “sweaty, drink lots of water crowd”. You hear that someone you admire is taking a vacation later in the summer and you convince your husband to spend money you don’t have just so you can measure up to a person that isn’t asking you to.

I have even been guilty of thinking that I need to be doing foster care again. Yes, I know it is a great thing. However, right now my marriage and the kids in my home need me to pour into them. This is such a critical time in their lives that I need to be present. And yes I wish I could be like a friend I know but God did not call me to follow others. He called me to follow him. And following Him looks like engaging with my teenagers, going out on dates with the hubs, making my home a safe place for others to enter into and trying to balance it all with grace.

I know that I have struggled so many times. In fact I just recently realized that I have tried to live up to someone’s expectations of me just to have them accept me. I have taken on roles that I don’t even enjoy just to have a certain person say I am valuable.

Not too long ago I needed to confess to a friend that I held another friend on such a pedestal that I thought I needed to everything she did to gain her approval. It wasn’t that it was bad things I was doing. They were all good things. But they were good things for her. For her family. Not for mine. My family did not need to look like hers to be enough. We are enough. Enough mess. Enough chaos. Enough spice. Enough loud. Enough brokenness. Enough room. Enough crazy to be enough.

So let’s tell the truth. Let’s look at the posters on our walls and start to take them down. Because sweet one, you are enough. You don’t have to be anyone else. It is exhausting trying to live up to someone you were never called to be. There is room enough for all of us.

Dear Kids, I love you too much….. A Valentines Day repost.

Dear kids,

I love you.

I love you with all my heart. I love to watch you sleep at night. (not like creepy crawl in your window to watch you) but more like I want to count the freckles on your sun kissed face. I love to hear the sound of your voices laughing with each other, whispering secrets while you are supposed to be sleeping. I love to watch you scream with all your might when your brother scores in soccer. I love to curl your hair when you want to be just like mommy. I love to take you out on dates all dressed up and sit across from you and wipe the whip cream off your lip. I love to find notes on my pillow from you. I love to watch you make new friends or even just try. I love to see you help each other up when one of you falls. I love to watch you smelling the neighbor’s flowers after you decided that all of ours needed to be picked. I love writing you notes to find in your lunchbox or on the mirror in the morning. I love to plan the perfect gift for your birthday that only I would know you loved. I love to hear about your day and who made you mad. I love to watch you explain just why being an apple farmer makes sense for your life. I love to listen to you sing 1D in the shower and then pretend that you don’t even like them. I love to watch you doodle while you are supposed to be doing Algebra again. I love to wake to the sound of the cartoons on Saturday morning and footy pj’s on the wood floors. I love to hear your secrets and who you wish you could be. I love to catch you writing songs on the piano when you think you are all alone. I love you this much and even more.
But you see sweet one I am sorry.

I am sorry I have loved you more than your dad. My husband. The one I promised to love forever. The one I made a covenant with. You see, I was reminded recently by ones that are pouring into us that I have really messed up. But you and I know that with messing up always comes second chances. And for me it’s more like a hundred chances. So here I am asking for you to forgive me.

I need to love your dad even more than I love you. I need to love him with all my heart. I need to watch him sleep at night. I need to love the sound of his voice laughing. I need to encourage him from the sidelines every day. All day. I need to go out on dates with your dad every week and remember that we need to work at love. I need to ask for notes from your dad. I need to write them too. I need to thank him for helping our neighbors all the time and not complain that things aren’t done around here. I need to pack his lunch in the morning and make sure he knows that I value him. I need to smile and kiss your dad when he brings me flowers. I need to ignore you when your dad walks in the door because it’s his turn to be heard. I need to respect and support your dad when he goes for another job and not worry about how far away we will be from family. I need to buy him gifts just because it’s not his birthday. I need hold your dads hand when we are together. I need to sleep in more with the door closed on Saturday mornings. I need to listen more talk less. I need to tell him my secrets that I’m afraid to live. I need to lean in and lead with grace. I need to love your dad this much and even more.

So sweet children, know this. I love you. I really do. This may send you all into therapy ( yet we all know you will probably already end up there anyways). I have done you such a disservice. I should have done a better job at being a wife. Because that is the commitment I made. I am the example that you will learn from. And I want nothing more for you than to learn from your dad and I that who we are as a couple is the best gift we can give you.

With love, mom
And if you can’t find me…..I will be kissing your dad.tim

I sold myself…..and now I know why.

red

I started selling myself when I was 14. Not the on the corner selling. Not online selling. But the please pay attention to me and love me kind of selling. Please tell me I am enough selling. My mother did not drop me at a brothel in order for my siblings to survive. I did it to myself. Some choices I made. Some were made for me.

Me in my skin tight jeans. Me in my overalls. Me in my long skirts. Me in my short skirts. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing or who I was. It had to do with who I wasn’t. I don’t ever dare compare myself to the millions of children each year that are forced into sex work. Or the girls who are walking the red light districts in their villages to survive. Never. I would never even think that the horror that they experience every day is in any way comparable to my mid- western choices. But one thing I thing I can relate to is the shell of the person that I became. When you give yourself away and are left with just a shell of disconnect.

I turn forty next month. If I think about it long enough I can get anxious and start thinking of all of the things I have yet to accomplish and the things I never became or missed. Having lived forty years I have to say that the last five have been the hardest and yet produced most growth. Through being stuck in Uganda and not knowing when I would see my whole family again. To suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and attachment issues when I returned. And then to be hit with more news of another child who had been suffering all along. And to watch as she went through years of testing and evaluation in order to receive a diagnosis that is lifelong. I have walked through grief and relief all on the same breathe.

But nothing can compare to knowing that I more fully myself than I have ever been. I am confident that I am stronger and braver than I ever thought I could be. I am more confident that my experiences in the past are ONLY used for good. And thank you Jesus that he is letting me see the fruit of that pain today.

But me taking off my clothes for years did more damage than anyone could see. It left me lonely for the next 25. I know that others argue when you give yourself away it won’t affect you. God forgives you and you are fully redeemed. Yes. Yes to all of that. But it does not take away the reality that you are not all of you were supposed to be. There was so much of me missing. So many parts of me still lay in backseats, parks, beaches, hotels, and beds. So much of me lingered there for years waiting for my soul to collect me. Waiting for me to forgive.

And I think all the time of the sweet angels all over the world tonight that are asking others to love them. To buy them. To sell them. I want to scream and plead. I want to hold them and love them and tell them “you are already enough. “

I want to tell them it will take years for the pieces of you to fully return to a new healed soul. But this is not my job. My job is to be there voice. I can. You can. I now work for an organization called Trades of Hope. We partner with marginalized women all over the world. We sell jewelry that is ethically produced by using Fair Trade principle. By marketing their creations we offer artisans a way to provide for their families without entering into slavery, a way to keep their children rather than giving them to orphanages or to the sex trade. I love everything about this company. But the thing I love the most is that 25 years ago God saw the mess that I was making of my life and continued to make for years and whispered gently “I will make all things new.”

Yet it wasn’t until now I that I hear Him.

But he said to me , “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2Cor 12:9

What a ham, Santa and a girl from Pakistan taught me about Christmas

snowflakes

When I was younger my grandfather was Santa. No lie. He was. Every year at midnight mass Silent night would begin to play and from the back of church “Santa” would silently walk down the aisle. He would remove his red and white hat and with one knee bent kneel before the manger. I tear up now just thinking about it. How beautiful and precious that was. I know theologically it wasn’t perhaps right. But for the reverence it displayed it was exactly what Christmas is supposed to be.

I mess up Christmas every year. Flat on my face mess up. I do. I get anxious about not having enough money. Or no money at all. I get overwhelmed with schedules that seem to double three weeks before the magical day. I am paralyzed with the amount of people around me all the time. Talking and wanting me to respond. I am exhausted with trying to be enough for everyone moment of every day. And like today I am hiding in my house with tea and books surrounding me because my soul knows that I am getting it all wrong.

And when I am getting it wrong I missing the manger. I am filling it with bigger presents. And louder music and bigger productions. And saying yes to everything that is “Christmasy”. I am spending money on more things instead on things that matter. I am forgetting who I am and what I believe.

I believe that Jesus came simple. He came as a baby. Quiet. Bloodied in a manger with animals and dirt and hay. There was no big production. He did not come with crowned jewels on his head. He came a bloodied mess and left the earth the same way. And when we turn Christmas into a big production we miss him. I miss Him.

And so He needs to remind me. He needs to quiet my soul again and whisper “I am here”.

Every morning we pick up a little girl from Pakistan to go to school. She has been in the US for a few months now. It is just she and her parents. She doesn’t answer when I ask her about other family still in Pakistan. I have learned there are subjects and conversations I need to earn. And so I will wait. A few weeks ago we were waiting for her outside of her apartment building and I was feeling rushed. My entitled self-had no time to wait. I had things to do that day that I am sure were extremely important. Except for the life of me I can’t remember what they were now. I turned around to see what was taking her so long to walk to the car and there she stood. Perfectly still, in the middle of the courtyard not moving towards the car.

Mouth open.

Tongue out.

Catching snowflakes.

I had to catch my breathe.

This was Christmas. This was silent night.

In the simple. In the snowflakes on the tongue of the little girl from the Middle East who had never seen snow before.

And then just last night. I needed to be reminded again. By a nine year old neighbor boy from across the street. Standing at my door with a ham and boxed mashed potatoes in a torn plastic bag. He said that his mother did not know what to give us for Christmas so she gave us this ham. The ham from the food pantry that she stood in line for hours before to feed her family. The ham that was their best. And they gave. They gave everything they had.

This is Christmas. This is silent night.

 

I just stood there and cried whispering “thank you’s…”

I needed to be reminded of what my soul craves. What your soul really craves. It is not the more and better. It is the enough. It is the hard conversations. It is the folding of the laundry. It is for the ringing of the bell. It is for the red bucket. It is the paying for someone’s gas. It is for the cookies we never bake. It is for the sister we drive hundreds of miles to comfort. It is for the letter that we need to write. It is for the forgiving we need to receive. It is for the hot cocoa we need to sip with our children. It is for the groceries we help carry in. It is for the asking questions. It is for the slower mornings. It is for the saying no to really good things. It is for the grace that we lavishly give. It is for the prayers that we pray over those in our homes. It is for hearing when our friend says she is overwhelmed and not leaving her alone. It is for the games that we play on the floor.

It is for the quiet and the simple.

The here and the now.

The snowflakes and the ham.

It is the midnight mass with candles. It is the one knee bent to our savior.

This is Christmas. This is silent night

Gerbils and Golden Grahams – When we realize what we are slaves to.

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I opened up Pandora’s box last night and now I am regretting I ever did it. I am sitting here and my stomach is turning.

I should eat something.

I should eat cereal. Boxes of it. Cause boxes of cereal will make everything ok.

I asked a few of my people to give me some feedback. I asked them to help me with a writing project I thought I was working on. And so I put it out there.

And then….crickets.

Crickets. And so I will eat a box of cereal and make it all better.

I will stuff my anxiety with golden goodness of Golden Grahams.

Because somehow me consuming thousands of calories will show them.

I did not expect this.

I did not expect my anxiety to reel its ugly head over this. I walk back and forth to the computer checking it like 745 times just to make sure that it is still working. I turn my phone on and off to see if I still have a connection. And then I think oh crap they are all talking behind my back and wondering how to break it to me that I am just a mess. Wait? They are talking behind my back? I hate that. I hate being talked about and not to. I hate that more than anything. Like way more than I hate cats. SO if they are talking about me and deciding that I am a mess then when are they going to confront me? Are they going to do it in person or gang up on me?

Do you see how logical I am being?

But I did this. I opened the box. I asked for feedback. I asked for help. And now I feel like a gerbil on a spinning wheel. And I really don’t like gerbils either. ( I mean really? A tiny squirrel in your house?)

And then it hits me. I am a slave. I wake up every morning and carefully put the chains back on my wrists. I make sure that I have locked them around my ankles and try to walk through the day. I am a slave every day to what controls me. And today. Today I choose to let approval control me. I decided that I needed the approval of my people to continue my day.

Yesterday I woke up and decided that I would be ruled by jealousy. It reeled its ugly head when a friend got amazing news and all of a sudden instead of rejoicing with her I decided that it wasn’t fair. That I work so hard. That I don’t have all the benefits that she does. That somehow the “kingdom of I” was not being served and my self -righteous attitude was justified.

Some days I decide to be a slave to multiple things. Anger, fear, anxiety, food, my past, and the list could go on and on.

And I put myself on the gerbil wheel again. But I knowingly placed myself there. It has nothing to do with my friends and how quickly they get back to me. It has nothing even with the words that they will say. It has to do with where my eyes are focused. My eyes are focused on me.

And when my eyes are focused on me I forget whose Kingdom I am living in.

Because my kingdom is exhausting. It’s exhausting to carry around the chains every day and expect others to know and unlock those them.

In my kingdom I just sit with my chains and eat Golden Grahams. And Golden Grahams are not going to break anything.

When I lift my eyes and focus on the Creator all else goes away. The chains are broken. HE does not put them on me. HE breaks them. It is me who decides to solder them back together.

And with patience He reminds me I am free. Free from the slavery of sin. Free from the slavery of acceptance. Free from jealousy. Free from anger. Free from anxiety.

I am free.

SO today.

Right now.

I choose. I choose to get off the gerbil wheel. I choose to accept what comes to me.

I choose to walk away from the Golden Grahams and be free.

Leggings & Superheroes – hills not to die on moms

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When I was younger. Much younger. Like I had a crush on Richard Marx younger, I shaved my head. Not my whole head cause that wouldn’t be cool. But only half of my head because apparently that was way cooler. I decided one day that I would feel better about myself if not only I had bleached blonde hair but I also willing took half of my hair away. Now don’t go thinking I went all crazy. I was conservative enough to only shave underneath all the bleach blonde Drew Barrymore hair. Yes, in my eyes I was fitting in. I was edgy. If I even knew what edgy was. Because when you grow up in Catholic schools it can be considered edgy if you hike your plaid skirt above the knees some days.

So when my second oldest decided that she wanted half of her gorgeous hair shaved off or when my youngest decided that he wanted The Flash symbol into the side of his head I said okay. But I didn’t say okay because I had done it before. Lord knows if I said okay to everything I did when I was younger I would basically be running a juvenile detention center. And since I don’t really look good in orange I do have some boundaries. Yet I have learned after being a mom for 17 years I choose to not die on every hill.

When I was a very young and new mom my girls dressed alike and always matched. They also always had brand new clothes. The staff at baby GAP knew me by name. I had retail issues. I admit it. I equated dressing perfectly with good parenting. I honestly thought when seeing other moms that this is what we did. We played dress up with our kids, went to story time, provided crafts for every moment, and made sure they only ate organic cookies. Well many years and children later I figured out that if I can just get them to brush their teeth a few times a week and actually change their underwear I am hitting it out of the park. I decided that I was not going to argue with a seven year old why she could not wear the same sweatpants every day. It was more important for me to connect than me to correct fashion choices. I decided that I was not going to live under the rule of Gymboree but by the peace in my home.

As my children have gotten older I have begun to hear that if I let my teenage daughters wear leggings then I am letting her look like a streetwalker. Um. Seriously? I am just wondering how we got from comfy leggings to streetwalker in the matter of one clothing change. This too is not a hill I am going to die on. My girls have extremely long legs and they are growing at rapid speed. Jeans are expensive. Jeans are uncomfortable for them. And let’s just face it leggings are so comfy. Yes they cover themselves and no I do not let them walk the streets. I have some standards. But I have chosen to not die on the hill of leggings.

I choose to die on the hill of character, and honesty, and strength, and family, and loyalty, and health, and laughter, and kindness, and empathy, and courage, and faith. I choose to die on hills that matter not hills that others think determine our worth.

I choose to decide to be a mom who cares about what is going on in my children’s hearts and souls. I choose to discover the reasoning behind their fashion and hair choices. I choose to be a mom of superheros and leggings.