Friday, August 30, 2013

How. Embarrassing.

It was quiet in the store. A few shoppers going through the sale rack, and some employees ringing customers up. Leave it to me to break the silence as I whacked my head on the elbow of a mannequin as I passed by. (In my defense, her elbow should not have been sticking out so far. Or at the level of my head.). Had I not been looking down at my stash, maybe, just maybe, I would have seen her. Oh for goodness sake...REALLY, Heather?? Really? I promptly looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this ungainly display of human awkwardness.


Maybe normal people would have laughed it off and perhaps even made sure the mannequin didn't fall over. But not I. I walked away. Quickly. Leaving the mannequin teetering dangerously on her pedestal. I'm sure as I'm alive that my face was red as a beet.

Only one though was going through my mind. 

I. Am. Such. A. NERD.

Who, exactly, is apparently so unaware of their own personal space that they whack their own head on the elbow of a mannequin in the middle of an otherwise peaceful store? Who?

I don't deal well with embarrassment. I think I'd rather a hole swallow me up than have other people laugh at me (or "with me", which is such a joke, especially when I'M NOT LAUGHING.). I mean, I can tell a silly story and be okay with it, but in the moment...


I was flipping channels last night and landed on Big Brother (which I didn't even think people watched anymore), and there was this girl being interviewed (Erin, maybe? I guess she had just gotten kicked out of the house. And just as an aside, I thought, who has the time to go live in a house for how ever many days they live there and do absolutely nothing all day long?). So anyway, Julie Chen was calling her out on national television about some comments she had made on the show that were taken as being racist--on national television. This poor girl was stuttering and spluttering and backpedaling so fast I thought she might fall off her stool and melt into a puddle on the floor--which is what I'm sure she felt like doing. I would. But luckily, with a firm handshake from Julie, she was dismissed before it got too bad and she headed off stage. But can you imagine the embarrassment she felt? I mean, I'm all about the old adage THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, but even so, I've certainly said things that people could have taken the wrong way before, and I've obsessed over it for days. Weeks, even.


I hope she realizes that A) the things she said weren't cool. At all. Even if you are from Texas. B) you should think before you speak. And you should stop trying to be so cool or funny or whatever you were trying to be. C) that everybody makes mistakes, and while hitting one's head on the elbow of a mannequin in the middle of JCP isn't quite as severe as saying something that is construed as narrow-minded and intolerant, we've all been there. And while we can never take back something we've said, we can learn from it and change the way we behave in the future.

Like staying far, far away from mannequins in any and every store...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Rulebook

"No tank you."

That was my friend's sweet, loveable two-year-old. He had just been told that he had to go to bed, and he politely declined just as he had been taught. He hasn't learned yet that there are some rules you can't just politely decline, and that they are for his own good. He was determined not to miss a moment of the potential fun that was to be had after he went to bed, even though he knew the rule was set.

When I was younger, church seemed all about rules.

1. Don't drink.
2. Don't smoke.
3. Don't do drugs. 
4. Don't go to parties where any of the aforementioned will be present. 
5. Don't be friends with kids who partake of the aforementioned. 
6. Obey your parents.
7. Go to church. On Sunday morning and Wednesday night, too.
8. Don't be mean.
9. Memorize the books of the Bible, and then sing them in a cute little diddy for the church. And don't forget them, either. 
10. Don't watch TV or movies and don't listen to rap music. Or rock. Sometimes country is bad, too.
11. Don't clap in church. (What? Did I make that one up? It's possible.)
12. For goodness sake don't cuss.

And last but not least:

13. Do not, no matter what you do, ever have sex before you get married. Ever.

There are more serious rules, too, and they hold a lot at stake. Do I live a self-less life, or am I immersed in this culture's all-about-me attitude? Do I respect my fellow human beings, or do I live in righteous indignation and judgement of other's behaviors and attitudes? Do I look to other people and material possessions to fill my happy tank and my heart, or do I look to Christ as my end-all, be-all?

Some people seemed to get the hang of all the rules. They were good kids from good families who raised money for the poor and wore chastity belts and promise rings and read their bibles. Don't get me wrong, I was a good kid, too. But I said (politely, of course) "No, thank you" to the list of rules I had been taught and made up my own. Rules that would make the women of the church gasp and the little children run away and hide behind their mamas skirts.

What I failed to understand is that those rules weren't set to make me mad or keep me on a tight apron string. They were meant to protect me, to set me apart from the world at large.

Flash-foward a few years, and now I have a set of rules that I expect my kids to follow. They don't like them either (especially the one about not complaining about what's for dinner, and if you say "I don't like...", then you loose your dessert--they hate that one). But what they don't understand is that the rules I set aren't to be mean (there is a possibility that the aforementioned dinner-time rule is a little mean, but that's the only one) but are meant to protect and teach them about growing up. The world can be a scary place, and they need to know how to take care of themselves and be responsible human beings. And rules can teach them those things, along with careful guidance and parenting.

I wish I could have understood that "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial" {1 Corinthians 6:12} when I was younger. It may have kept me from making many of the mistakes I made as I clumsily made my way through life.

Nobody's perfect, and even though I know that certain things aren't beneficial, I do them anyway. I still listen to rap music. And sometimes country and a little rock 'n roll. I watch TV and movies that aren't necessarily edifying (but they are pretty entertaining). Occasionally a curse word will fly (only when I'm really, really mad), and I don't have all the books of the Bible memorized (still!--although you'd think by now some would have stuck).

And I totally clap in church.

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

High Hopes

It is 4:00 in the afternoon and I'm trying to study for a test I have that I'd like to take sooner rather than later, and it is literally all I can do to keep my eyes open. It might be pathetic, depends on who you ask. I started out this day with high hopes of getting things done--which I did, sort of. I got two bathrooms cleaned, some holes in the wall spackled, a test swatch of paint going in the basement, two loads of laundry (washed, not put away--that's asking a lot) and my kitchen floor is clean and sparkling. As I sat down to study (which I keep forgetting to do during the day--how convenient), I remembered that those two loads of laundry need to be folded (my kids wear wrinkled clothes--what about it?), I need to work on my PTA spreadsheet, and I haven't remembered any of the information I've read in my book thus far.


I've heard a little too much about a rash of violence and break-ins in my community, the kidnappings and shootings that have made national news, the fact that Smithfield ham wants to make a deal with a Chinese food company, and the unrest in the Middle East that seems like will never end.

My kids arrived home in semi-good moods, but right after homework, they disappeared to their respective rooms and I suspect they have been playing on some sort of electronic device ever since, and I don't even know exactly how long that's been (see above--falling asleep!). I know they need monitoring. This is the exact moment I also realize they need more exercise. And more vegetables and less junk, and all of the sudden the day that seemed so promising just hours ago has turned a bit sour.


So I'm off to finish some chores and maybe even start some new ones (because that's the best feeling, when you have eighty things half-finished, and fifty half-started). 

And then I'll let it all go for the night. 

I'll spend time with my family, because we deserve time together. We'll play a board game and rehash everyone's day, all the way down to the fact that there is laundry (still) dumped on the living room floor. We'll laugh about it, and as I close my eyes tonight, I will thank my lucky stars that the sun will rise again and I'll have a fresh start tomorrow, and I will repeat to myself the Psalm that keeps me going:

In peace I will lie down and sleep
For you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
{Psalm 4:8}
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Literally Limping

It is the day before school starts, and we are literally limping across the finish line. Actually, I feel like its a race, but in reverse, so we are actually limping across the start line, waiting for that glorious day at the beginning of June when we are freed from all homework duties, packing lunch, and waiting for the bus before the sun even rises (which isn't even right).

Even as I write this, my husband is laying flat on the bed with a bad back. It's not like it hasn't happened before, but this time he is in bad shape. Like I-can't-move-or-stand kind of shape. And the rest of us just have to watch him get along the best he can because there isn't anything that we can actually do for him, except ask him a million times "Is there anything you need? Does it still hurt bad? What can I get you?" Because we want him to be as comfortable as possible, our sleeping arrangements have been...well, rearranged.  I kicked myself out of my comfortable, dreamy bed last night so he could be as comfortable as possible (I suppose there is no "comfortable" when you're speaking of a bad back), and this mama was not happy about it. At all. Can I just say that being over-tired had something to do with my attitude? But what do you say to someone who is clearly in pain other than "Please let me sleep in the guest room. I mean it. Really." My only problem is that while I'm offering to be nice-ish, I'm gritting my teeth while I'm doing it. 

So by the time everyone made it to their beds, wherever they may be, we were all tired. I have no patience when I'm tired. None. Not even the tiniest shred of sympathy or gladness can be wrung from my icy cold heart. I want to sleep. I do not want to interrupted. So you can imagine my heart-felt "Honey, it will be okay" when my baby boy started crying over having to start school. In two days. What? Okay. I care about your concerns. I want to validate your feelings. I know you need a hug and some reassurance. I'll discuss your fears with you. 

But not right now. 

Right now, I want you to stop crying so I won't feel guilty about walking. Away. From. You. To my bed. In the guest room. 

Am I grumpy about this? I might be. 

Did I make it evident that I was a touch grumpy by my snappy "Yeah" reply when Gimpy asked me if I was going to be okay up in the guest room? Maybe. 

I lightly stomped--barefooted, mind you--up the steps (of course I don't want to wake anyone, I was just reminding my own self of exactly how annoyed I was). I laid my head down on my soft pillow. I sighed. I complained in my head. Again. I snuggled under those warm sheets and closed my eyes. 

And I could not fall asleep. 

I flipped over. Sighed. Complained some more. Opened my eyes. Closed them. 

Still. Not. Asleep.

This is like annoying to the third power.

But as I laid there, I started thinking about the wedding we recently attended, and how the priest reminded the young couple that a partnership (i.e. marriage) requires the participants to put the needs of their partner before their own. And while most couple eagerly agree to do this while standing at the alter, the appeal of putting your partner before you lessens as time marches forth.  I know this because I don't like to do it with a joyful heart when it means I'll be uncomfortable. I mean, I'll do it, but my attitude smells like armpits and onions mixed with morning breath. Ick.

So this morning, like so many other times I've acted like a 12-year-old, I had to take a line from Ice Cube (but just a line, the rest of the song is questionable): You better check yoself before you wreck yoself.

When Gimpy was able to make it off the bed and into the living room to give me a kiss this morning (he does not harbor ill will in his heart overnight like I do), I felt refreshed (that bed in the guest room isn't so bad after all)--and maybe a little bit guilty for being so snappy and stand-offish the night before. 

"I'm sorry my attitude smelled like armpits and onions and bad morning breath (ick). I really do want you to be as comfortable as possible. I'll do whatever I can to help you recover! And by the way, don't read my blog post today. I called you Gimpy."


Friday, August 23, 2013

Weighing In

Me. And all of me, at that, was reflected in the wall of mirrors directly across from the treadmill I was running (okay...walk-running...okay, mostly walking) on. Yep. My no-makeup face (some call that a "fresh face, but honestly, there's not a whole lot of "fresh" on my face when I have no makeup on), my sweaty, hastily pulled back hair, my thighs that have a little too much jiggle and my booty that has a little too much shake were all highlighted under the fluorescent lights. Y. A. Y.  I eyed the ancient scale in the corner and briefly considered weighing in, only to be reminded that in my more confident and sane moments, I gave up the notion that beauty is a number on the scale. I turned my attention back to the tv (E News, if you must know, and probably not the best choice when trying not to focus on body image, with all their "Who Wore It Best" and such) and my workout and tried to run walk faster. But honestly, I'm not at the top of my game this week. I haven't slept well and I have no energy. Not a great recipe when trying to run-walk on a treadmill under fluorescent lights with a "fresh face" and sweaty hair. I had to stop. Running, that is. 

Then, I did something I am embarrassed to admit.

Desperation mixed with a tired brain and after-thoughts of jiggly thighs took over and I walked...no, I literally ran over to that scale like it was my last supper on earth and I was starving. I weighed. I almost hugged that thing. Good. I could relax. My week of poor workouts and low energy had not affected my weight, thank goodness, because what in the world would I do if it did??

Continue living? I'm gonna bet that I probably would. 

And I would also remember this prayer that I found in the book Power of a Praying Wife (I changed a few words for all of us today who are dealing with insecurity or self-confidence issues):


Lord, I pray that You would reveal to us that "we are the image and glory of God" (1 Corinthians 11:7), and we are "complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10). Give us the peace and security of knowing that we are accepted by You. Free our souls from the self-focus and self-consciousness that can impression our soul. Help us to see who You really are so that well know who we  really are. May our true self-image be the image of Christ stamped upon our soul. May we say "Arise, shine; for Your light has come! And the glory of The Lord is risen upon you" (Isaiah 60:1). 

We all, with unveiled faces beholding as in a mirror the glory of The Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Sprit of The Lord. (2 Corinth 3:18)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Empty

What is it?

What is that empty feeling, that yawning, gaping hole in my soul that seeks to be filled, but nothing seems to fill it? Sometimes it feels like its stretching my soul to the point of breaking, leaving a feeling of emptiness and something akin to desperation on the inside.

In my early teens, I tried to fill it with boyfriends and makeup, clothes, friends, pizza and sleepovers. In my late teens I tried alcohol and late-night parties. In my twenties I chose marriage, babies, and a house. In my thirties I discovered God again...then choose exercise, beauty, friends and material possessions. 



I grew up in church, so I never really completely forgot about God. But I never really remembered Him, either, and as my quest to not feel so empty on the inside became more desperate, so did my need for Him. But spending time reading the Bible seemed so...boring, especially when I could be doing something--anything--else. 

It seems like lots of other things make me happy. Like friends. Family. Sephora. Target. Redecorating. Books. Vacation. Exercise. Food. But that hole in my soul just swallows those things up and asks for more...and more...and more...until I fear the blackness might swallow me up as well. 



The search is exhausting. 

And a little bit scary. 

It's scary to feel out of control, but wanting and needing all at the same time. Like having more than you need but knowing that nothing will ever be completely satisfying. Greed and selfish tendencies take over, and a hurricane ensues. 

Do you know what I found out about hurricanes? That the eye is the safest place to be. If you can ever get there. But as we all know, fighting against all that wind and rain, well, it can destroy you. But in the midst of all the wind, and all the rain, all the crazy, all the chaos, there is a still, calm voice calling out. A voice that represents strength and power. A voice that has defeated. A voice that offers what no home decor website could ever actually give: Peace. Joy. Forgiveness.  

"Search for The Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him."
{psalm 105:4}


Friday, August 16, 2013

I Just Want to be Pretty

I sit and stare at the magazine picture, flawless and radiant. It's really not fair, I think to myself. Why did she get all the pretty?

Then I catch a glance at myself in the reflection of the computer screen. (Anti-glare=good idea.). Hm. I'll never be that pretty. Sometimes I don't know why I waste my time putting on make-up. (PMS does bad, bad things to a woman's psyche.)

I fix my gaze on the outside through my window and contemplate the blue sky with cottony-white, fluffy clouds, the green grass gently waving in the breeze, the dull gray asphalt, the towering trees, the house across the street. A snapshot of the world outside, framed by some wood trim and white paint. It's the same every day. Nothing special. Kind of like me.

The world says that in order to be special, I need to have something. An extraordinary talent. A lovely face. A beautiful body. Or the perfect trifecta--a combination of all three. And when I compare myself to those standards, I feel like I've lost out on something. Something I wish I had.  Something I think I must deserve. I get angry with God, angry with myself, angry with the unfairness of the whole deal. I work harder to look pretty, to be thin. I put my faith in the fact that if I look in the mirror and see pretty, then I have accomplished my mission. I will finally be happy. I will finally feel good. I will finally have confidence. Except I don't see pretty in the mirror. I see pretty in the magazine, and it doesn't line up. It causes strife in my heart and a constant longing for an ideal.

It seems simple enough. I just want to be pretty.

But when the simple want becomes a raging obsession, it's too hard to pull back the reins. I don't want to accept myself for who I am. I feel like I need to try harder. And the harder I try, the more I dislike what I see. It becomes a vicious cycle of insecurity, defeat and discontent. Caught in the cycle, I don't notice that He is trying to catch my attention, grab my hand, turn my face toward Him. The Creator of Beauty, the definition of Perfection.


Instead of being chained to a narrow, confining definition of beauty, He opens that window and allows me to step outside. Beyond the dull gray pavement are majestic blue mountains. I feel the breeze, the sun warming my skin. I smell the grass and stand under the trees and I know without a doubt that I was created for more.

There is a picture in a magazine.

And then there is life.



 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think.
{romans 12:2}

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My 'Want Life'

I already have my 'want life' all planned out. I want a mansion and six kids. 

Hm. What kid really knows exactly what they want? So I challenged her. "You may have your want life all planned out, but its best to check in with God to see what He has planned for you. That's the best way to be happy."

My son chimed in. "Yeah, maybe He doesn't want you to live in a mansion. Or have six kids."

"Well, he better not have some shack planned out for me, cuz that's not what I want."

Her honesty made me smile. As a child, living in a tiny 3-bedroom ranch in what was then considered somewhat "out" (as in the boondocks), I dreamed of having a huge house and beautiful clothes (a la Clueless), nice, sporty cars and a round driveway (why a round drive I don't know but it seemed like all the big houses in the movies had round driveways). I would daydream about layouts and colors (incidentally, this has not changed much, as I still daydream about decor and room colors) and what it would be like to have it all. Everyone would obviously want to be my friend. I'd be blissfully happy. Life would be easy. Oh, and I'd also be stunningly beautiful. I'd finally have everything I ever wanted. 

Except I never, ever considered God in my big-picture dreams. 

So you can imagine my surprise and dismay when life didn't exactly turn out the way I expected. It's somewhat of a rude awakening when God steps in and everything that seems right is turned upside down. I didn't appreciate it very much, and I balked. Made choices I regret. Turned my back on Him and His plan. Decided I'd make my own way in this crazy world. This is my life, these are my choices, I am going my way. I angrily shook my fist and Him and went to figure it all out for myself. 

It only took me about two steps out in the dark to realize that I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I was in the dark, in desperate need of light. Again, I angrily shook my fist at Him, shouting You know I can't do this on my own. Why did You leave me??

I think God has a lot of patience for me.

Fast-forward several years to a woman who still doesn't have everything I ever wanted--but I now realize what a blessing that is. The life I dreamed of at 10 could never compare to the life I have. There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, and a myriad of learning experiences. I have started to understand that although God has a plan for me, He'll never force me to go His way. If striking out in my own is what I want to do, then as painful as it is, He will watch me go. I sometimes wish He would've just imposed His own will on me, because I know that those mistakes I made years ago wouldn't have happened, but imposing His will on me would've made me like a robot, a puppet with strings attached. He made me with a free will and the ability to make decisions, and He gave me a guidebook to follow. 

But its up to me to follow it. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love Is

"We're so busy during the week that we try to keep the weekend for family time, but the weekend is when people want to do stuff."

We were having a conversation about having a designated family night, like a Pizza/Movie Night, and how important things like that are, but it was her last comment that stuck with me.

People want to do stuff?

One of my biggest insecurities, and it is a long-standing one, is that people do not like me. I can't stand it when I sense that they don't, and I immediately want to know why. Am I annoying? Do I talk too fast? Do I smell? Because my hairdresser says I shouldn't wash my hair every night, and I use dry shampoo, but sometimes I wonder...

I mean, I am an adult, and friendship issues shouldn't exist when you're an adult, right? Right? I should be secure enough in who I am to not worry about whether or not everyone else got together to go shopping (or go to lunch, or whatever) and I wasn't included.

At least that's what I tell myself. While I'm shopping. Alone. Again.

It's a lonely feeling, to feel like you could possibly be the one that everyone is really nice to but never wants to include in their other group of friends. To be the one that does the inviting but doesn't get a return invitation. To be the one that hosts but rarely gets hosted. It's easy to feel put upon, left out, and defeated.

Except that I don't think it's always true. I think that many people feel this way, that we're all busy, and it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day.

Sure, maybe I do annoy some people. I don't like every single person I meet, and I guess I can't expect every single person I meet to like me. (Although they really should. Wink, wink.) I'm a lovable person (or so my sister says, and I'm just gonna go with it), and I am kind and caring and semi-thoughtful. Most of the time.

And while I have been taught for my entire existence to be all those things, I have been called above all to love others (Galatians 5:14). Period. I couldn't find any of the exceptions that I make up in my head, like Love your neighbor only if they love you back, or Love your neighbor only if they invite you to lunch. Or coffee, that will do, or Love your neighbor if they are just like you, or Love your neighbor if they don't make you mad.

(Regrettably, I tend toward being somewhat easily offended. I'm working on it.)

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
{1 corinthians 13:4-7}

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Thankful Heart


As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
{psalm 71:14}

As I read the passage for today, I was reminded that a thankful heart is important. Then I scanned the devotion over at the Proverbs 31 website, only to read an entire post on offering up praises and thanksgiving. After that, I read the devotion for today from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and I bet you can guess what it was about. Yep, you got it. Having a thankful heart, even in the midst of difficult or complicated circumstances.

I'm starting to sense a theme here.

So I thought that today I'd list 20 things (in no particular order of importance) I'm thankful for, and ask you to do the same. When you have a second, list 10...or 20...or 30...things that you are thankful for. I'll bet by the time you get to the end of your list, you'll have a smile on your face, too.

1.  Rain
2.  Hot showers
3.  Kid's laughter
4.  My husband's job
5.  Electricity
6.  My senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, feel)
7.  Freedom of religion
8.  A democratic government
9.  King-sized beds and a soft mattress
10. Friends
11. My sister and her husband
12. Summer
13. The pool
14. My church
15. Grocery stores (We would eat no meat if grocery stores didn't exist!)
16. Doctors 
17. A tv and cable to keep me occupied while I trudge along on the elliptical
18. Elliptical machines
19. A world of colors. And rainbows. 
20. Horses
21. Music!

There are simple blessing in the everyday...sometimes we just have to look a little harder for them :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lets Pretend!



Mama, will you play babies with me? Pleeeeeeease?

I had put her off long enough. It's not that I don't like playing with her or spending time with her, it's just that I have lost all ability for imaginative play. I don't know what happens to that part of the brain as we get older, but its just not there for me. Scenarios like this one happen:

AB:Let's pretend that's its Halloween! And that we are taking the babies trick or treating! And let's pretend that your babies are wearing matching costumes.

By the way, I have twins named Treyvon and Maria. Cute as buttons, those two.



Me: (thinking) Its August. It's not Halloween. The outfits these babies have on don't even match, much less pretend that they are Halloween costumes. I have no energy to pretend trick or treat. Well, okay, I'll pretend one is a cupcake and one is a candle. (What? It's the best I could so. See? Zero imagination.)

A few minutes into our game, the doorbell rang, and it was the little girls from next door asking to play with AB. I swear the angels were singing in Heaven when that doorbell rang. My salvation, I thought. They love to play babies together. And my whole world came to a sudden stop when I heard my daughter say:

I can't play right now. I'm playing with my mom.

Oy vey.  My heart.

How could I have dismissed playing babies as just one more thing to do when it meant the world to her?

It reminded me of a time not too many years ago when my teenage self was dating a boy that happened to live about 500 miles away. Our "dates" consisted of phone conversations, and he occasionally would visit his mom, who lived in my town, and therefore we would spend time together. After our phone dates, I would excitedly report to my mom what we talked about, the promises we made, and all the stuff that high school romances are made of. She could have rightfully said So, hey, I know you like this guy and all, but really? It's not going anywhere, sugar, and both you and I know that. He's not moving here like he says he is, and you're an idiot to date someone so many miles away. Don't fool yourself into thinking that this relationship is something that its not. Break up with him and move on. (But I like that you're home all the time because you don't have a boyfriend in town.)

But she didn't. In fact, she was very gentle, and she just listened. I know it was probably hard for her to hear. She probably had a lot of other things that she needed to do. But instead, she listened to my heart, my dreams, my romance, my drama. 

Because the thing is, she's not here anymore to listen to those thoughts. And while I'm sure at the time she was thinking about what she wasn't getting done in the house, that house still stands there, dirt in the same corners and all. But I'll never forget those times sitting on the back deck, just talking and daydreaming of what could be...some day. 

Playing babies isn't just one more thing to do. It's the start of a conversation, a dream, a drama. It's the beginnings of making memories that she'll never forget (and neither will I). I doubt she will grow up and say to her kids  Now, listen to this story about your grandma. She was a suburb housekeeper. Not even the blinds has any dust on them. What a great woman. 

So while I might have many other things that need to be accomplished (those incessant dirty dishes are calling my name right now), it is worth every minute of my time--plus some--to spend it playing babies. 


"Mom, DO NOT put this picture on your blog."

She'll understand one day. 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Waste of My Time?

Every morning is the same.

Wake up, 
fix my daily cup of tea, 
eat breakfast, 
grab my bible and notebook,
have my quiet time... 
Go on with the rest of my day.

Forget everything I read during my quiet time. 

I have the strangest habit when I'm reading--and it could be reading anything, like the newspaper, the bible or a magazine--and not being fully engaged in what I'm reading. I'll be reading the words on the page with my very own two eyes, but be thinking about something entirely different in my mind. Like the new idea I have to update a bathroom. Or how I should respond to an email I got recently. Or how I'm going to plan out my day. By the time I'm finished reading {ahem}, I have no idea what I just read and have to go back and reread. Sometimes I'm successful. Sometimes I'm just replaying the same scenario, to the same frustrating end. And then I give up and hope that God will be okay with me at least giving it a shot.

But because I'm not really all that focused, it doesn't like long (like .25 seconds) for me to forget every single thing I read, which is a) frustrating, because I feel like I wasted my time and b) not very useful for one when she would actually like to learn something and carry that knowledge with her for longer than it takes to walk from the chair to the kitchen.

I don't know what the deal is, whether it's me, or the material, or both, but when it comes to learning and remembering things from the Bible, it makes me feel very, very far away from God. It's almost like what I'm doing is out of duty or obligation and not really out of this humongous desire to actually read. (If there was a simpler way to read and retain, I'd do it, but so far I haven't really found one, although there are some interesting theories on that topic, like the movie Limitless.)

 A devotional time is one of those things that can never be duplicated, is essential to building a relationship with God, and can either make you feel like you won the lottery or like you've completely wasted your time. (Maybe it's just me that feels like I wasted my time, but sometimes I just don't get anything out of it.). And I'm left wondering: Is it me or is it Him? Is He too busy for me today? And exactly how reasonable is it that I expect God to meet me here. Every. Single. Day. Does He get bored, too? Is He even listening to me? Am I listening to Him?

Romans 8 says that nothing can separate me from the love of God, not angels, not demons, and definitely not the fact that I have a hard time concentrating some mornings when I go to read and I'd rather think about a new paint color than what Psalm 82 has to say. I'm a work in progress, and He knows that. I do strive to do better, and my prayer is that one day I will be able to read, understand and remember. Everything.

Okay, so remembering everything might make my head explode...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Age Gracefully

I caught a glance of myself in the mirror while I was cleaning today. I have not taken the time to blow out my hair, so it's in its natural, frizzy-ish, slightly crazy/wavy/cannot-be-described state. (Which leads me to wonder this: sometimes when I lose just one or two hairs, they come out in perfect spiral curls, but the hair on my head refuses to curl this way. How does this happen?). I also never took the time to put any make-up on, and my au naturale complexion is pale and slightly washed out. (Thank goodness for bronzer!). 

As soon as I'm done writing this, I'm heading straight to the bathroom to straighten my hair. No one needs to see this. 

I'll admit that probably no one's completely natural state is fantastic compared to when they're all made up, not even Candice Swanepoel. But. Mine seems particularly bad today, and it doesn't do much for the old self-esteem to think that you look a) tired, b) washed out and c) plain scary when you look in the mirror. I started thinking about how I wish I looked, the texture I wish my hair was, the color I wish my skin was, and how I had better hightail it in that bathroom pronto because I'm certain my husband does not want to come home to this stunning look I have going on today. It was easier to pull off when I was younger. 

And as I was cleaning (after I had already caught that glimpse of myself in the mirror), those thoughts kept running around the same track in my head, convincing me that some major work needs to be done in order for me to be happy with myself. But honestly, if I'm not happy with what I have now, I'm not so sure I'd be happy even if I did look like Candice. (Maybe.).

I don't want to be one of those people who is constantly like Back when I weighed 92 pounds or Back when I was a ________ in high school or Back when I had six-pack abs like what they have to offer today isn't worthy without qualifying it with what they used to be like, but honestly, I'm having a hard time each year that I get older. I often find myself questioning myself and the way I look as I try to accept and live out the adage to age gracefully. I'm looking at wrinkles forming around my eyes and that gray hair (I call it blonde) that keeps popping up and wondering what beauty means for me now that I'm not 20...or 25...or 30 anymore. Aging is one of those inevitable life happening that no one has quite figured out how to stop, but we've got a lot of people out their who are trying their best to slow it down. (Joan Rivers, I'm talking to you.). I feel self-conscious sometimes that I'm trying to look too young, but I don't want to age myself unnecessarily, and I feel stuck. Can I be and feel beautiful even as time takes it toll on my skin and my hair without going to extreme measures to try to capture what doesn't truly belong to me anymore? No, I know I'm not "old", but I don't want to get there one day and then hate myself because I can't accept the unavoidable truth. I want to be able to accept my age--at any age--and the way I look at that age with grace and peace instead of fighting for what can't be for the rest of my life. 

I see many pulled-together, stylish, beautiful women who are much older than I am and hope that I look like that when I'm their age. But more than that, I hope I feel confident when I'm their age, because it doesn't matter what I look like if I hate myself on the inside. 

And right now, I'm not feeling so confident. 

Looking inward, which is where I've been stuck all day, searching for some fragment of confidence or assurance isn't working. I just don't have it in me to give. I have plenty of self-doubt and negativity, but clearly that's not doing anybody any good. I've spent all day searching for peace, having forgotten that my search isn't inward but upward, to The Source of peace...and grace, and unconditional love, and beauty.

Who am I living for anyway, and for what?

Because if the answer is I'm living only for myself, for my needs and wants, for my happiness and my glory and my beauty, then I'm afraid I'm going to end up one very unhappy and fearful person. I step outside and realize that life is bigger than my concerns over how I look or how well I'm aging. I'll do my best to look my best, but my joy won't ever come from looking in the mirror and finally being satisfied with what I see. It just can't. I'll be temporarily appeased, but I'll have plenty of days just like this one where I have to find my joy in The One who can truly give it.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Trust Me

We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn't come through
{Francis Chan, Crazy Love}

Trust. 

I worry. I don't trust. 

I fret. I control. I get anxious and stressed and I wake up at night with crazy thoughts overwhelming my mind. 

But I don't trust. 

I don't know how to trust. It's not like I can flip a switch and suddenly say "Aahhh...now I trust You."

The Bible says I should trust. Books say I should trust. Speakers and pastors and bible study leaders say I should trust. That its an integral part of any relationship, especially the one I have with God. 

I want to trust. 

It would make life so much easier. 

I wish there was a 3-step program, or directions or a manual or something that I could use that would tell me how to go from where I am to where I can trust. (Oh. That must be the Bible.) But the Bible is something that I don't always get, that sometimes the words get stuck in that swirly space that exists just over my head. I think I need a broken-down, simplified, direct version. Kind of like the directions Larry had in the movie Night at the Museum:
1. Throw the bone.
2. Lock up the lions or they will eat you.

Life has had it's disappointments, times when I truly didn't feel like God was going to come through for me. (I think it may have had something to do with me and choosing not to listen.). There have been times when He has seemed far, far away, concerned with things like keeping the sunrise on schedule and not letting the Earth get too close to the sun, or famine and war and hate. Important things. Not things like dealing with letting my mom go, or understanding that marriage is a thousand times harder than I thought it would be, or being sad because my kids are growing up too fast. 

To just let go? And trust whatever He has planned for me? I've heard it will be far better than anything I could have planned for myself, but the very thought seems a little...crazy. Irresponsible. Rash. But then again, those words could easily characterize my life before I met God, and I can say that that life wasn't working out quite so well. 

But I don't know how to truly let go. My life today is planned and organized, as well thought-out as we can make it and covered by savings plans, 401-Ks and insurance. What does it look like to truly let go? How does this change my day-to-day life?

Well, today, I decided to try to let go, but not being in control makes me grumpy and uncomfortable. I think it means having to be amiable when I don't want to, and think nice thoughts when all I'm thinking are mean ones. And my grumpy literally took over, and I wasn't super-duper pleasant to a fellow human who deserved nothing less than my nicest. 

I mean, really? Should it be that hard?

Lysa TerKeurst suggests that the more we say yes to God, the more we will live in expectation of seeing Him. The more we expect to see Him, the more we will. And the more we experience Him, the more we will trust Him. It all starts with denying the pull of the world and saying yes to Gods daily invitation to remain in Him. (Check out the devotion at proverbs31.org).

No. That doesn't seem very hard. Of course, it is probably easier read here than actually done, but I've got to begin somewhere. 

Like with saying yes.