Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker over at tales from a gypsy mama, and today is the last five minute Friday for the entire year! So get out your pens, pencils or keyboards, and join me. And remember: no editing, no overthinking, no backtracking.


Wonder...

I've always wondered what my life would be like if my mom had fought her cancer successfully and lived. Or if she had never gotten sick at all. Would I have finished out my 4 years at Lynchburg College? Would I have met my husband? Would I still live in my hometown? Would I have my precious babies?

Would I have gotten to know my God?

The only reason that I began to turn to Him in the first place was because losing my mom was one of the most traumatic and gutwrenching things I've ever gone through. And He's been there for me, every step of the way.

If I hadn't had to deal with that hardship, would I have had the chance to experience His sweet grace and mercy the way I have in my most vulnerable and despondent moments?

I wonder...

My mama  and me :)

 
 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
{Proverbs 3:5-6}

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Flatter Me



Me: I think I'm going to return my shirt.

Dear Husband: OK. If you want to.

Me: Well, really, I mean, I don't think the color is right for me.

DH: OK.

Me: So, look at this. (I proceed to hold the new shirt up against my face and wait for his reaction.)

DH: I really think it looks fine.

Me: Really? Compared to this?? (I then proceed to hold up a dress that is an approved color for me and wait for his reaction.)

DH: (At this point, getting slightly annoyed at my insistence, and probably wondering what I really am looking for him to say. What is he supposed to say at this point? That one shirt actually looks bad? He is totally stuck, and he graciously said the right thing. Hopefully it was his true opinion.) I don't think that either color looks bad.

And off to work he went, while I spent several more minutes laboring over my decision: Return? Not return? Does this color make me look washed out?

And then a new thought: Why do I still operate under the assumption that beauty is only skin deep?

While I do try to wear colors that flatter my complexion (just as an aside, I recently had this conversation with my hairdresser, and we are in agreement that I can never go gray because gray does not flatter my complexion.), but I'm not sure that it's worth all the brain power I put into figuring out all the colors that are just right. Somewhere (a place that I have yet to discover, but am trying really hard to get there), there is this thing called BALANCE, but so far it evades me. So for now, I corner my husband and demand that he tell me the truth. As long as it's flattering.


Finding my security in Christ is important to me; otherwise, I live like a beggar, asking for money in the form of compliments to fill my soul. The problem is, those compliments will never completely satisfy what it is I'm truly looking for: confidence and security. There is only one place that those things can be found, and while I've spend much of my time and energy looking for an alternative, I'm discovering (over and over again, because I have yet to stop trying so hard and just rest in Him) that my security in Christ is everlasting. He gives me what no compliment could ever accomplish: a lasting confidence.

So the next time I see you out and about, do me a favor: go ahead and give me a compliment (because what girl wouldn't want one?). And I'll give you one, too. But be assured that I won't put all the pressure on you to fill my soul with confidence. He's filling it with the finest form of flattery that there is.

"...for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught."
{Proverbs 3:26}

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spread The Love

Spread love
everywhere you go.
 
Let no one
ever come to you without leaving
happier.

-Mother Teresa
 

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Madness

Good news!

I am still here.

I took some time off from blogging (actually...if the truth be told, I took some time without really meaning to. I intended to write last week, and then I would come to the end of the day and realize that I had not taken the time to write again, so by Thanksgiving day, I gave up and decided to start fresh today). But! I'm back!

I hope everyone had a great holiday, and that you were able to celebrate with family and friends. We did the Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving Day as a family, and then we were able to celebrate with family all weekend, which was really nice. We ate, we talked, we laughed...we enjoyed.

The Drumstick Dash. 16,000 participated on Thanksgiving Day to support our local Rescue Mission.

And now, we can get all geared up for Christmas.

Yay.

Can you hear the enthusiasm?

You see, I am a total Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. A curmudgeony old lady. A grouch. A bellyacher. A griper, a whiner. A complete killjoy.

Yes, of course I annoy my very own self.

I sent my sister a text last night stating the fact that I am in need of help around the holidays so I don't totally ruin it for the people in my life who happen to be excited about Christmas. Like the under-10 (and the over 39) crowd who live with me. She responded that I only have a few more years to enjoy the magic of Christmas with my babies. The magic. That must be what you have before the 24-hour Christmas music, the obnoxious crowds, the suffocating traffic and the over-priced toys made in China get to you.

Craaa-zy!

As I've pondered this idea of magic, I wondered aloud what happened to my own sense of magic. Where did it go?

John 10:10 says that the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, while Christ came so that we could have life and have it abundantly.

Does this abundant life include the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

I believe that I've totally missed the mark when it comes to enjoying the holidays. I've allowed the all the hype that surrounds Christmas to put a black shroud over the true meaning. I've allowed my joy to be stolen, but that doesn't mean that I can't take it back.

Christmas. It goes beyond the crowds, the stress, the finding-the-perfect-gift, the I-ate-too-much-food, the traffic, the noise, the parties and the ornaments. It goes all the way back to a quiet night where a baby was born. And He brought with Him a peace that transcends understanding. A joy beyond what we are capable of producing. A love that cannot be taken away.



So as I kick off the Christmas madness season, I have a choice to make. I can continue to live as a disgruntled old troll, or I can take back what is rightfully mine. Peace can be found in the middle of the chaos. There is a sweetness that cannot be duplicated in the excitement of decorating the tree with your family, while you reminisce over old ornaments and share hot chocolate.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chasing Freedom

The devotion I read this morning was quite appropriate for me. The title was The Place Where Disappointment Grows by Lysa TerKuerst, and it was about the space between our expectations and our reality. A place where disappointment often grows, especially when expectations are high and reality...is reality. The devotion offered some great thoughts on adjusting expectations, looking to God, and even learning something from the situation. What it didn't address (for me) was the anger I feel in the space between my expectations and my reality.


People will disappoint, that is a sure thing. I know this because people are people, and I probably disappoint even more that I'm aware of. My problem right now is that I am so disappointed with a person in my life that my disappointment has turned into anger. I thought I had controlled my anger for awhile, but as it turns out, I'm a really good emotional stuffer. I don't see this person very often, but when I do, I put on a fake, plastic smile and pretend everything is A-OK. I do this partly because I know that they don't really give a rat's behind whether I'm angry at them or not. Which only fuels my anger even more. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"--well, those are strong words, but I have discovered, the more I look inward, that I am hurt, bitter, disappointed...and I'm furious.
I don't want to look like this all the time :(


I know this partly because I think about the things I would say if I could (you know those conversations you have in your head that you always win every single time because you are so eloquent that the other person is completely speechless? And mine always, always, always include me having the last word, swishing my hair and turning on my heel in total victory). I woke up this morning at 2:28 and couldn't fall back asleep because I kept thinking about all the disappointments, all the times this person has shown a complete lack of interest, all the times they were supposed to care but didn't, all the times they let someone else say something mean and didn't protect me, all the times they've said something nasty behind my back...and then I knew. I knew right away. My anger, my fury, my utter outrage is beginning to get the best of me, and if I don't deal with it immediately, I'll come totally unglued. And when I come unglued, my family gets the brunt of my bad moods and dreadful attitude.


It doesn't seem fair. The person who I want to verbally vomit on doesn't care, and it's me who's feeling the effects of the bitterness and disappointment that has taken root in my heart. It has happened without me really noticing, but it's obvious to me now that I have left my heart unguarded and have allowed that vile and corrupt feeling of animosity to come in, take root, and grow.

And now {inward sigh} I have to deal with it.

I guess the choices are two: keep being angry, or deal with my anger. I can't change the other person, so that only leaves me. And I don't want to (insert frowny face here, because I really don't want to. Like at all.). My anger feels justified, and if anything, the other person involved should see how wrong they are. And they should definitely apologize.

Right?

The problem is, my own unforgiveness, my own bitterness, and my own anger are all holding me hostage to my emotions. I'm like a slave to them, replaying old movies in my head of all the times I've been hurt, and getting more angry every single time. I keep saying It's not fair!, and it's probably not. But this is my reality. And I can choose to release my emotions to God, who can take the noxious emotions and replace it with His peace. I know this. I know this. The hard part is L-E-T-T-I-N-G G-O. If I let go, the other person wins.

Right?

Reality is hard to accept, especially when expectations are high. I'm not a fan of letting go, but I'm also not a fan of being miserable. Of letting my emotions control me. Of becoming unglued and acting out. Those things make for a sad life. And I was done with a sad life a long, long time ago.

Going to God is hard. I'm going to Him anyway. Releasing my anger is hard. I'm releasing it to Him anyway. Forgiving is waaaayy hard. I'm forgiving anyway. I'm not living in a prison cell I was never meant to inhabit, especially when it's one of my own making.

I'm chasing freedom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Better Place to Be

I had a few friends over today. Not really for any purpose, just to get together and enjoy each other's company. I really love this part of my life; the part that gets to entertain, the part that gets to sit back, relax, and have a cup of tea with friends.

I made sure the house was spotless. Okay, I take that back. I made sure the main floor rooms were presentable and not noticeably dirty, and because I didn't have time to clean the rest of the house, I just left it as is. What is your "as is"? Because my "as is" can get kinda...untidy. Bedraggled and grimy, really.

It is not usually my intention to show the worst side of myself, as I doubt it is a side that most people really want to see or know. I'm the same way about my house. I feel like it reflects poorly on me when the dust makes the table that should be a warm walnut look worn and gray, when smudges and fingerprints on the refrigerator show, and the crumbs on the kitchen counter outnumber the crumbs I just put in my mouth (I think that crumbs multiply while I'm not looking. Where do they all come from? Why do they all stay just under the edge of the counter so that just when I think I'm done sweeping, they show themselves like some sort of rebellious hooligans?).

I cleaned. I showered and put my make-up on. I attempted to tame my hair (no such luck there). I organized and swept and made beds and dusted and made sure everything, including my outfit, was perfect.

Unfortunately, perfect is only in a magazine advertisement for cologne.

When my friends got here, they weren't expecting perfect (good thing, because they didn't actually get perfect). Before the day was all said and done, though, they did get to see me. They saw how I hung 12 birthday decorations with double-sided tape to my basement ceiling (not recommended), which promptly all fell down in a heap on the floor (except for the tape, which stuck nicely and is still there). They saw how messy the kids rooms are, plus the playroom, and they saw my son's bathroom ('nuff said there ;)).

Why did I expect perfection when perfection doesn't exist? Why do I hold myself to such a high standard that I get anxious about exposing the real me?

I think people appreciate transparency. They appreciate an open and warm countenance. I know I do. It's hard to get to know someone who keeps a plastic smile on their face and who keeps others at an arms length away. I've been there, and it's an exhausting place to live. I struggle with perfection. It seems so...perfect. Nothing in disarray. Nothing out of place. It's a place of control, of discipline. A place I can admire my togetherness, where I can look with pride upon the perfection I have single-handedly created. But it's a place that breeds anxiety and stress, exhaustion, tension and worry. It's a place I was never meant to be and it's a place I know I don't have to stay.

Sometimes I say things that I wish I had worded differently. Sometimes I show up to my kid's art class with no makeup, fresh (and sweaty) from a gym class. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see. Sometimes I look around my house and wish that I could just keep it together. Sometimes I look at my kids and wish I was a better parent. Are all these things me? Sure, but they don't truly reflect who I am. Untidy house, messy hair, misbehaving kids...my life isn't perfect, no matter how hard I try to make it that way. But I am confident in this: my place of anxiety, stress, tension and exhaustion is a place in the past, because I am a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Love Language

The conversation started as a comparison between the two couples: my sister and her husband compared to me and my husband. We were discussing the infamous "love languages" developed by Gary Chapman, and we were talking about which ones fit us the best. We had to laugh, because when both people in the relationship have the same love language, expectations can begin to be...a little off. I jokingly admitted that I have excellent intentions of figuring out my husband's love language, but very often life has a way of butting in and ruining all of my most praiseworthy of intentions. So, I asked my sister and her husband, do thoughts count?

My sister's husband countered with this: are these intentions ever actually communicated? Do you ever actually act out what you think? Because, obviously, if those things never get said, then it's as good as never thinking them at all.

Our wedding day

I know this. But...ironically, I do expect my husband to read my mind. I do think that he should know how much I love him without me ever saying a word. But does he, really?

Our 10th Anniversary

Probably not. I mean, I hope that he knows how much I love him, but every good intention I have is simply a good intention unless I take the time and the effort to express what I'm thinking.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"...let your adorning be
the hidden person of the heart
with the imperishable beauty of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is
very precious."
1 Peter 3:4
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Midweek Confessions

It's been awhile since I've done Midweek Confessions, so today I'm linking up with E over at E, Myself and I for a healthy dose of things that make you go hmmm...or at least things that I've done over the past few weeks that might make you glad to be you and not me ;)

-It's been a few {ahem} weeks since I've cleaned those blasted bathrooms. I have had every good intention of getting them cleaned, but things just keep popping up (darn). I decided it was high time I clean my bathroom today, and during the course of scrubbing, wiping and de-gunking, I decided that someone else would probably do a much better job than I do at cleaning (any takers? Please??? I can't pay you but I'd be very good company while you clean.). I'm ok at cleaning, but I hate doing the bathrooms the most, and so I get in a hurry and don't do as good of a job as I should. You'd think that since I am aware of this flaw, I would change my ways, but alas, here I am blogging when the bathroom is still not completely done.

This picture has nothing to do with this blog. I just looked at it and said "WHA? How the heck to you wash your hand?"

Ok. I feel better. My bathroom will always look better than this.
 

-A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store, and I had gotten dressed up (read: jeans and Danskos instead of sweatpants and tennis shoes) and I had my hair did on top of all that. So, I think I'm not looking too shabby. I was walking towards a man who was looking intently at me, and the closer I got, the more he stared. I mean, yes, of course I looked good, but honestly, he needn't stare. I had almost passed him when he stopped me. "Ma'am," he says to me (honestly--ma'am?) "You have something in your hair. I think it's a fruit sticker." I looked down, and sure enough, I had a big 'ole sticker from a piece of fruit stuck in my hair. Brilliant. That'll take the wind right out of your sails for sure.

-Since many of my mishaps tend to happen at the grocery store (I spend a lot of time there...), I had to roll my eyes at my self for letting this happen...again. We cancelled the credit card I normally use at the store, and my husband reminded me that I needed to take the new card in. I got all my groceries, went through the entire checkout, and swiped my card. DENIED. What?!? Oh, then I remembered that I had just swiped the card that was just cancelled. Duh. So, the check-out girl is staring at me, the people behind me in line are drilling holes in the back of my head, like "Get on with it!", all my groceries are packed up and ready to go, and I'm dumbfounded. So, I say, "Oh! I've used the wrong card! So sorry! I've just got to run out to the car and grab the right one! Back in a flash!" And there I was, running across the Kroger parking lot for my card while register 7 waited patiently. As it turns out, the woman behind me was having quite the friendly chat with the check-out girl when I returned. A benefit of living in a smaller town. (Just as an aside, I did the same thing at Wal-Mart about a year ago, except that I had just forgotten my whole entire wallet at home while I went off merrily shopping, only to pick out a bunch of stuff, have it bagged up, and then have to leave my entire basket full of stuff sitting at the end of the register because I had no way to pay for it. Yes, my face was red on both accounts.)

Remember: they only take money. Not smiles.

-I'll let this be last for know, since I could write a novel on Unfortunate Heather Events. My daughter has to do a science project on the solar system. Most of the time, I am involved in the projects that come home from school. I don't have the creativity it takes to come up with any other solar system project than of the Styrofoam ball variety, so while at AC Moore, I discovered that there was a Styrofoam ball solar system kit! Hooray! We bring it home, we put it together. The project is in the bag! Except for these few unfortunate words my daughter said after school today: "Mom, my teacher says that we cannot use a kit for our project."  Yes, I am making a face right now... >:/

Who has time for this??

Monday, November 5, 2012

alluring beauty

The little girl across the waiting room from me today was cute as can be. She was around 7, waiting with her mom and her older sister for a doctor to see them. Her little round face was framed by dark brown hair, and her brown eyes looked shyly at me from time to time as I studied their family from behind my magazine. She was doing some studying of her own. She had picked up a magazine and had begun leafing through the pages, ooohing and aahhing over the pretty pictures, occasionally lifting one up to her mother. "Look at that dress, mama, it's pretty, ain't it?" Her mother looked at the picture, wrinkled her nose, and shook her head, probably willing herself to remember what I try to when I see those pictures: They aren't real. They are airbrushed. It's makeup and lights. Baby girl tried a few more times to show her mama some pretty pictures, and her face showed the delight of a little girl discovering something beautiful: "OOOoooo, look at her lipstick, mama" and "Ooooooh, shiney!" were just a few of the words she was exclaiming as she looked at the pretty magazine, full of pretty people in pretty clothes with pretty makeup in pretty poses.

While I watched her, I could see myself in those brown eyes, first discovering what the world called "pretty". It made me sad, as delighted as she was, because I knew that the wheels in that sweet little brain were turning as she absorbed what allure magazine called "pretty". And as she also absorbed the very message that many of us do from an early age: that she will never measure up.

While we were sitting there, an older woman came in to see the doctor. She had to have been in her late seventies or early eighties, but she was poised and pulled together, her white hair in a smart bun and her lipstick a carefully applied coral. Her skin was a smooth porcelain, and although she bore the obvious signs of aging, she showed wisdom and grace in her blue eyes and wrinkles. I was astounded by her beauty and grace. She was living proof that beauty is ageless. I wondered if she had ever felt beautiful, because if she had not, it would only be because she didn't believe it herself.

That woman would never be in allure, because that magazine, like most, has a very narrow and exclusive definition of what beauty is. But I saw today what beauty really is: a sweet young girl's expressive eyes and careless brown hair, her mouth formed in a perfect O as she delighted in pictures; a mother's wrinkled nose as she rebuffed, if only for a second, the world's pronouncement of beauty; a woman's white hair and thin, wrinkled mouth with carefully applied coral lipstick; and blue eyes that revealed a grace and a wisdom that only time can give.

Truth, and goodness, and beauty are but different faces of the same all.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 2, 2012

5 Minute Friday: Roots



Its Friday! And today I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo over at
lisajobaker.com for 5 minute Friday, where you write for 5 minutes. No overthinking, no editing, no backspacing.

Today's word prompt is ROOTS:

All I want to be is summed up by these simple verses:

Blessed is the man...
    [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

 
{Sigh.} Now I feel like I can breath. I know where my roots truly lie.
 
 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From A to Z

I have several grandiose ideas for my house I'd like to accomplish. Like: I'm going to paint the entire basement, I'm going to paint the basement kitchenette cabinets, I'm going to hang shelves in my daughter's room and in the basement, I'm going to hang gallery walls in the living room, and I'm going to turn the playroom into a music room. Then, I look at the project as a whole and I am immediately overwhelmed. Before long, I get distracted by the more pressing issues of running a household, like dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty floors, dirty bathrooms...and before I know it, my projects are just a memory. I'll never get started on them unless I'm willing to do the work to complete them, but sometimes it's so overwhelming, and I know the work won't be easy, and worst of all, it will take time to complete the things I want done, so I stop before I even have the chance to get started. And then that little feeling called defeat starts to sneak in there, and I know that I don't have what it takes to get what I want done. I think I've gotten worse as I've gotten older, too, because I feel like any project that takes time and effort may not be the project for me.


The playroom. I can't even begin to think about tackling this right now...or ever...
So it is with change in my life as well.

I know there are things about myself that need to change, and that I'd be better off if I did change. But when I look at where I am now compared to where I want to be, I immediately get overwhelmed. Half the time I don't even know how I'm supposed to get from point A to point Z, and there are too many letter in the in between for me to even consider going there. So, I continue to stay stuck. I know it's going to take lots of work, even more time, and a commitment to change, and most of the time,  so it's more comfortable to stay right where I am. Not better off, mind you. And anyways, all those pressing issues that life presents often get me so sidetracked that I can't concentrate on change even if I wanted to. And I begin to feel defeated.

God doesn't ask me to come up with a plan. He only asks that I depend on Him for my steps (the steps of a man are established by the Lord, Psalm 37:23) and that I trust Him. He has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), and He is asking that I give my anxious, overwhelmed heart to Him so that He can do His work in my life. If I allow His work in my life, then I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), and I won't have to try so hard to even get from point A to point B. He's there to guide me with His light (Psalm 119:105) so that my paths stay straight (Proverbs 3:6).