Monday, March 30, 2015

You've Got Me Feeling Emotions

Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in every situation, by prayer and petition, 
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(philippians 4:6-7}

This morning I discovered that my baby boy has been throwing away papers that he hasn't been getting good grades on, and only showing the the ones he wants me to see. I found some crumbled up papers in the bottom of his trash can (along with a three-day-old dried up used-to-be peanut butter sandwich--someone has been ignoring my rules--tsk, tsk), ones that I'm figuring he wasn't very proud of and wished would go away. When I confronted him this afternoon, he immediately started to cry. So many nine-year-old emotions came tumbling out in tears and spit and intermittent gasps between sobs. My heart broke. He had been holding onto his distress for so long that it had taken it's toll. Yes, I'm embarrassed over my grades, he said. Yes, I was afraid you would be mad at me. Tears streaming down his face, trying to hold it back because boys don't cry.

When we finally established that a) I wasn't mad, but I am here to guide him, so sometimes it might feel like he's in trouble when in reality, he's just getting a helping hand, b) he is human and will make mistakes and will probably get a bad grade again, and he needs to learn and grow from those mistakes, not to try to hide them as if they don't exist, c) he needs to ask for help, and d) you can't carry around all those heavy, sad feelings, because it only makes you feel worse, he had stopped crying and was swiping at his nose with the back of his hand.

Who knows how long those papers had been sitting at the bottom of his trash can. I don't clean out the trash cans every week, so they could have been there for days. And it made me sad, because just like him, I hold on to feelings that I don't have to carry. When I choose to talk about how I feel in a healthy way, the emotions don't control me. But when I hold onto them, carrying them around on my back like a sack of rocks, they weigh me down until I can barely stand under the pressure.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
{1 peter 5:7}

Guilt, anger, bitterness, regret, shame, remorse, sadness--they will eat away at your soul if you let them, not only causing more emotional distress, but physical stress as well, manifesting itself as depression, anxiety,a lack of energy, memory issues and mood swings. 

I'm so relieved that he was able to talk to me today--I couldn't bear the thought of my son carrying around the weight of the world on his small shoulders. He shouldn't have to. I believe God thinks the same about us. When we won't go to Him and take all our stuff with us, we end up carrying way more than He ever intended for us to.

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, 
for he shields him all day long; 
and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.
{deuteronomy 33:12}

Friday, March 27, 2015

This Is Me

Do you have trash can rules? Or is it just me who would even think to have rules, in addition to the rules of life and rules of school and rules of manners and rules of society and rules of government to have rules surrounding trash cans? Because I have cans you put a bag in and hide under your sink and I have cans you do not put a bag in (and therefore are very careful about what you put inside--i.e. NO GUM OR ANY OTHER STICKY, NASTY SUBSTANCE) and set out to be seen. Some rooms, like my half bath, call for this pretty sort of trash can because there is no cabinet to hide it under. So it irks me when I see a yogurt tube or gum or some crummy wrapper inside.

*I also have issues with used tissues lining bedside tables, but I'd have to write another post entirely dedicated to "Issues with Tissues" to get through all my feelings concerning this subject.

Thanks for letting me vent. 

I also have issues with yellow teeth. Mine are naturally so, and because of this I am keeping Crest in business through the use of their whitestrips. I am not careful about the beverages I drink, adding to the whole business of "How to Fight Yellow Teeth". So after casually mentioning this to my daughter, I went in my bathroom to brush with some sort of whitening/abrasive/sandpaper toothpaste that is priced like gold in a tube. "Don't want yellow teeth!" I said.

"Oh," she said, causally flicking her hand up. "You already have those."

And she said it in such an offhand manner, so, like, obviously you have yellow teeth, clearly you are blind that I was a little taken aback, and I began what has turned into a week-long trend of checking my teeth by baring them at the mirror every single time I enter the bathroom. 

Image result for horse baring teeth
google images

At our "let's celebrate your birthday" get together last Saturday, my sweet mother-in-law was commenting on our society's absolute obsession with entertainers. She has a hard time understanding why we as a society are so enamored by celebrities, and I agree with her. It shouldn't be that way. We should be looking up to people who aren't famous for being famous, but people who exemplify living out their faith, who work for the betterment of society, who are humble and not selfish, those who take care of the sick and feed the hungry and help the oppressed. 

But I must admit, sometimes it all starts with yellow teeth.

You have a perceived flaw--a blemish, if you will, and you see someone else who has beauty where you have a flaw. So you strive to either be like them or get what they have, and either way, it is often too slippery a slope to navigate.

As our society has advanced, along with technology and media and everything else, we have what we've never had before: instant access to things that 100 years ago we may have been content not knowing about. (Take out all the bad, because I'm not even going there.) But we now have access to pictures and beauty remedies and suggestions and videos and articles that we have to sift through to land at the truth. And sometimes, in all that sifting and pondering and trying to figure out what is fiction and what is real, we get a little sidetracked by what we see and ultimately decide to believe as true. 

I walked by the mirror the other day and did NOT appreciate what I saw: my own reflection. It's something I struggle with on a pretty consistent basis, this "appreciation of self" or whatever you want to call it. I just know that I don't always like what I see, because I see flaws instead of beauty, things to fix instead of things to celebrate. As many of us have, I've halfheartedly considered major surgery to fix what I see as wrong, but I've realized along the way that no amount of plastic surgery will ever make me happy with the way I look, because I'm not always happy with me. 

I recently read a book where the main character's (Rose) husband had an affair that ultimately broke up the marriage, and she was understandably distraught. She reasoned that she was not ______ for him (fill in the blank: skinny enough, tall enough, pretty enough, in good shape enough, didn't have flat abs, big boobs, a perfect body, etc, etc, etc). In one particularly poignant scene, Rose undresses and just looks at herself in the mirror, telling herself this is me.  And while she may not have been happy with every single thing about her body, she was able to accept herself as herself. The end.

None of us are perfect, even the ones that we see from afar who seem that way. Most of the information coming at us is blurred around the edges, making things seem different or better or more enhanced than they really are. We can't dismiss the person we are or the great qualities we have just because they don't align perfectly with someone else's perceived perfections. Even if that someone else is a superstar. Or is famous for being famous. Or models underwear beautifully. Let that person be that person, or, as my sister says, you do you, and I'll do me.

This is me. 

I won't be successful every single time I walk by a mirror, but I can purposefully choose not to immediately judge myself so harshly when I am tempted to do a major critique. 

This is me. And I can let it be a beautiful thing.

google images

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Am 38

I am a passive-aggressive human. Probably anybody who knows me would be able to tell you this about me, as I tend to deal with situations I don't like with sighs and eye rolls and the ever-effective silent treatment. I don't very often get in somebody's face, it's just not my style. And I know that being simple and straightforward is a much more effective way of handling things, not to mention healthier. But for some unknown reason, my default is passive-aggressive behavior.

I'm reading a book on how to improve my habits and attitudes. Some things are easier than others.

A couple of weeks ago, only a day or so before my birthday, I went to the grocery to buy some wine for a neighborhood Bunco night that was coming up. As Penny scanned my items, she looked up at me and sighed. "Honey, I'm gonna need to see your ID for this wine."

Now any other time, I would have been pleased. Flattered, even. But there are a few things you need to know about my relationship with Peggy. 1) She is anal about coupons. 2) She is anal about following the rules. 3) I don't like going through her line because of this.

When I am in a hurry or have left my drivers license in the car, as was the case a few weeks ago, I get easily irritated over anal people who follow the rules. (Note: those people are not so unlike myself, but sometimes I am just arrogant enough to think that I am allowed to pick and choose the rules I want to follow and the ones I do not.)

I do think grocery stores should check the ID's of people who are buying alcohol. But I am 38. I know I am 38. If you'd like to say I don't look 38, I'm happy to hear it. In fact, I'd love to hear that I look younger than 38. But I know that you know that I know I do not look 21. I don't think I should, either. It would be weird.

Anyways, I told Peggy that I had left my wallet in the car, hoping she would agree to give me a pass on the whole ID check thing. Most of the checkers do. She's the only one in the past eight years who has asked to see my ID when I'm buying wine. "Sorry," she said. "It's just that I'm not familiar with you and we are required to check ID."

Peggy, I wanted to say. I know your name. I know your checkout habits. I know you smoke. I know you used to work at a department store in the same town. How do I know all this? I'm not a stalker. I'VE BEEN COMING TO THIS GROCERY STORE FOR LIKE MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE. How are you 'not familiar with me'??? Is this even possible?

Apparently so, and Peggy wasn't having it.

It is slightly unreasonable to think that anyone could be upset or anything other than flattered over a grocery store checker asking to see one's ID, but I was irritated because she asked me to run to the car and grab my ID. The end. Because A) this is a really ludicrous thing to get annoyed over and B) it was not a situation to say, as I am learning, "you have made me upset and here is why" with smiles and pleasant tones, I reverted back to my comfort zone of passive-aggressive sighs, clipped tones, and irritated facial expressions.

I went out to my car to get my license, but not because my perspective had suddenly changed or I decided to be cooperative. I needed to buy wine. I did not want to come back to the store to buy wine. So I got my wine and my groceries and went home irritated.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and looking back, my whole passive-aggressive habit is one that doesn't gain me any favor. And it leaves me feeling frustrated in the end, knowing that I could have handled myself better and chose not to. As Lysa TerKuerst says, if this is the worst thing that happens to you today, then it's still a pretty good day.

If someone checking my ID is the worst thing that happens today, then it's still a pretty good day.

If an attitude from my child is the worst thing that happens today, then it's still a pretty good day.

If I am running late and am having a bad hair day and I forgot my earrings and bombed my diet and have dark circles under my eyes and dishes in the sink and laundry in the machine and the house is a wreck and I didn't get all my stuff done--if these are the worst things that have happened to me today, then it's still a pretty good day.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our little bubbles of life that our perspective shrinks, and small things become big deals. Listen. Small things should not become big deals. If we let everything become drama in our lives, we will never find rest. Or peace. And I desperately want rest, peace, and joy to become permanent residents in my life.

As with most things in life, change does not come easily, but at this point, unlike so many others, I'm willing to learn. I want to change, because I see how my behavior does not benefit me but causes me further duress. And further duress is no longer welcome in my life.

I am 38. I know I am 38. Next time you see me and you'd like to mention that I look younger than 38, I promise I will smile.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Thoughts

You know what's really weird? I might be the only person in the history of the world as we know it who's very soul can become unhinged and therefore overwhelmed over the smallest, most insignificant things.*

But that's okay, because I'm actually still reading the book, so I didn't want to give it away anyways.

*Actually, Perry Noble is also overwhelmed because he wrote the book. So me and him. 

Moving on with life. (I need caffeine. It helps me think and be human. I'll be back in a flash.)

I have some things to tell you, so first things first...(I poppa, freaks all the hunnies--I won't go on, lyrically not an uplifting or positive song, but when you hear the phrase "first things first", don't you think about One More Chance by the infamous Notorious B.I.G.? Or is it just me? Sidebar: you want to know where I heard about Biggy Smalls for the first time? And where I listened to his entire Ready to Die CD? Youth group. Church youth group bus trip to _____ (can't remember where we were headed, of course all I remember is my first introduction to B.I.G., which is swell) where a fellow youth group member brought along his fave CD, which made him almost (ahem, yours truly was there too) the coolest of the entire bus, especially when some of us where still listening to Amy Grant and thought Carman was a hard-hitting lyrical genius. Okay, so a note to parents about youth group, and then I'll move on: just because it's a church youth group does not mean that your child should have free reign to do whatever they want. You still need to check out the friends they meet and who they are hanging out with and know what they are doing and you need to try to get to know the parents of those kids , plus you need to, like, really, really know the youth group leaders. As I got older and figured out that my mom was much more lenient when it came to youth group activities, I took full advantage of her naivete. My youth group was a mess anyways, and maybe I just chose to be around those who chose to make poor decisions, like Poor Choice Rob Lowe, but there was alcohol and there was sex and there was lots of stuff going on that wasn't on the up and up. All I'm saying is don't let your guard down just because it's a youth group, keep your eyes and ears open and talk to your tween/teen/young adult. That innocent, if you will, introduction to B.I.G. started an unhealthy trend in degrading and demoralizing music choices for me, and I'll just remind you that once it goes in, it never leaves your brain. So be careful about what goes in. The End of SoapBox on youth group, notorious rappers and parenting.)

Let me stop to take a breath.

All I was going to tell you before I got all up in arms about youth groups is that I worked on my basement cabinets over the weekend and I'm almost done!!! I'll be able to share all my pictures soon, but here's one to keep you interested:

Basement cabinets that I've been working on for about 8 years, which is two years longer than I've actually even lived in this house, but whatever. Anyways, the lighter black that you see is the chalk paint without wax, the darker is the waxed paint. More later!

And the other thing I was going to share with you is that this very morning I made my very own cleaning solution from a recipe I found on Pinterest. All you need to do is go on and search "natural cleaning solutions" and you will find a plethora of formulas. The reason I am sharing this with you is because I am sometimes very weary of Pinterest ideas. Because when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. (See youth groups, above.) BUT I decided to try it because I am tired of breathing into my very healthy lungs nasty chemicals, especially when I can't open windows to air the house out, so I made my own, and I'm sharing with you so you can know that it actually does work. Here's the recipe: (important note:  I didn't make this up on my own, but found it on Pinterest)

3/4 cup of alcohol
3/4 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of water
2 drops Dawn
5-10 drops essential oils (I found mine locally and chose jasmine, which smells splendid)

Put it all in a spray bottle and you are good to go! Just don't use it on granite; I don't think vinegar+granite=anything positive. (Another sidebar: I use e-cloths on my granite and mirrors, which are washable and reusable, so better for the environment than paper towels. Win-win!)

Finally! (Finally, it has happened to me, right in front of my face, and I just can't deny it...Finally. Cece Piniston.  Tell me you know it. A more appropriate song to sing in the car with your kids. I think. But don't go by me, I listen to Biggy. Not with my kids, good grief.) My dining room is nearing completion as well. Decor-wise, that is. I have always said that a house has to be lived in for a while before you can really decorate it well. I still go by that, but we've lived here for almost six (is that right???) years and I am just now getting around to completing the decor in that room, complete with hanging plates on the wall, which in a previous life, I hated. But I've warmed to the idea of plates on the wall and have decided to include them in the dining room. (You've sunk to a new low, someone who shall remain unnamed but who lives with me said. To which I say balderdash. Since when does anything I do look bad? No one is allowed to answer that...) I've also hung some phenomenal frames I found on sale at Pier One, and I just put some pictures from our trip to NYC from few years ago in there. I'll share pictures of the entire room later, when I get the plates (yep. PLATES!) hung. But here's a picture of the plates, which I found on One Kings Lane:

ooops, the picture is sideways, but you get the idea. 

Final note: I've been considering taking on small decor jobs, only one per week, so if you need help organizing, picking out paint colors or decorating a room and would like feedback from a non-professional who may not be all that great at it but really, really loves to talk decor, let me know. Besides being an astrophysicist, it would be like a dream job. 

Have a happy Monday!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Overwhelmed and Giveaway!

This week has brought on the crazy, and for the third Friday in a row, one of my children is home for school for phantom "stomach" issues that I just can't quite call BS on, so here we are. Home together. Or as Daddy Warbucks and Annie sing...together forever...

When he woke me up last night to tell me he might be sick, the only thought I could think in my sleep-stupor was something akin to what every mother of a newborn baby thinks: I may never get a full night's sleep again. Never mind the fact that for the entire week of nights this week, my sleep has not been interrupted. Fact: I don't deal well in the middle of the night. Fact: My kids have missed out on some truly wonderful and tender mother/child moments because of this. Hope: Somehow I've made it up to them in other wonderful ways. In the day. When I'm awake and conscious of what is happening around me.

So since I have a semi-sick child on my hands, I figured I'd write real quick-like to tell you what's going on around here, and then I'll be off, devising wonderfully tender mother/child moments in between barre class.

Image result for overwhelmed by perry noble


Sometimes life can get overwhelming, and it happens fast, right? And while one minute you're thinking I got this, the next you're wondering what just happened and why you have no idea what to do. As it were, I have just the book for you to read: Overwhelmed by Perry Noble, who happens to be a pretty funny guy. And it's completely free when you comment or share!

How bout that for an awesome start to your Friday!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What?

This week started out with a bang. And what I mean by with a bang is 77 degrees and sunny, which is a welcome break from 37 degrees and cloudy with the chance of snow and/or rain. It's ending on a rather sour note, however, as today it is 45 degrees and cloudy.

Spring was in the air on Monday; Thursday it seems frustratingly out of reach.

So I went back to bed for 15 minutes, hoping that I'd regain some lost motivation and get rid of this "I'm so verra verra tired" feeling I've been carrying around with me.

Coffee doesn't hurt, either.*

*Related: Good news for coffee drinkers! Those who drink 3-5 cups a day have a 20% drop in risk of Alzheimer's disease. If you make it a life-long habit, that is. This is according to the 2014 Alzheimer Europe Annual Congress. No, I don't know what that is either. I saw it in Women's Health Magazine, who also promises to help you drop 2 sizes with the "Magic Carb Diet", to which I say poppycock with a side-eye glare, WHM. Also in this issue: Is Sugar Toxic? (Sidebar: WHM recommendation? Max of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. 24 grams. Check your yogurt is all I'm gonna say on that.)

google images

When I don't have good coffee, a full 8-9 hours of sleep (yes, per night), and a day of sunshine to fortify my positivity, I want to do two things: 1) eat salty, the sweet, then salty again (i.e. any sort of junk food I can get my hands on; willpower is not my friend when I'm tired. Proof is the absence of peanuts in the snack drawer this morning.) 2) think negative thoughts about life.

I mean, I don't want to think negative thoughts about life, but when I'm tired, it seems like something inside my brain goes to Default Mode and out pop all these negative thoughts about everything from laundry (ugh why is there SO MUCH OF IT and by the way, the point of setting things (clothes/towels/toys/miscellaneous) on the steps is so you will take said items UP THE STEPS, not use the steps as your own personal closet in addition to the closet you already have in your room) to the people I love the most. (I'll not include any actual thoughts of said loved ones here; it wouldn't do anybody any good. It would be like sugar to everyone's morale. Not so sweet. Toxic.)

Thank Me for the glorious gift of my spirit...
As you bring me the sacrifice of thanksgiving, regardless of your feelings
My Spirit is able to work more freely within you. 
This produces more thankfulness and more freedom, 
until you are overflowing with gratitude.

I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don't perceive them
When your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts. 
In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind.

{jesus calling, sarah young--emphasis added}

I read a day ahead in my devotional, because I was warm and comfy on the couch and didn't want to get up right away, even though I was done reading for today, so I kept right on going to tomorrow. And as it turns out, tomorrows devotion is perfect for today's negative focus. Timing is everything, am I right?

I don't always remember to be thankful even in the good, but I try. (Thank you for hot water, warm bed, heat, food, water, etc, etc.--all the obvious ones.) But to be thankful even when the negative things come up? (Thank you for this mound of dirty laundry that never goes away plus thank you for this cloudy, sun-less day seems a little counter-intuitive.) But even in the midst of laundry and cloudy days, His spirit is still a glorious gift, and for that, I am thankful...I just don't always express how thankful I actually am.

So this morning, I decided to be a little more intentional about saying thank you, even for the ones I don't see as wonderful blessings.

A few of my actual thank yous, as said at 5:45 this morning...

Thank you for:
1. This hot tea.
2. Your Spirit (obviously, it said that in the book)
3. Um. This quiet time. At 5:45. In the morning. When I want to be sleeping.
4. My hair. (I had a little trouble getting started this morning.)
5. Sooooo...

Like I said, I had a little trouble getting started, but once I got the hang of it, I was on a roll.

6. Thank you for daily chores, because that means I have a house!
7, Thank you for varicose veins (this is a hard one to swallow, truth be told, because I hate them) because I have legs to carry me around, get me where I need to go, run, stand, jump, sit!
8. Thank you for this messy kitchen--evidence that we are well-fed! (Too well fed, as I reference the aforementioned peanuts, but that's another story.)
9. Thank you for these shoes in the floor, because my children's feet fill them!
10. Thank you for contacts, so I can see! (And read this devotion on being thankful...)

You get the point.

Anyways, being thankful even in the blahs of the day is hard, but it's doable. Nobody likes a Negative Nelly, and I don't intend on being one.

A neighbor who struggled with depressive tendencies told me that he was able to change his perspective (and get off all his meds) by looking around--and getting outside of his own head. "When I get to get up, drink coffee that I like, go to a great job, and drive home looking at these beautiful mountains, what do I have to be depressed over?" he asked me.

What indeed?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Full

Sometimes I sit down in front of this screen and I have no idea what to write. I know there are people out there who can and will relate to how I feel and what I think and that anxiety and negativity are not only mine to deal with, but how I can I adequately express in words--I mean like truly say what I mean and get you to understand it--when absolutely no words will form in this brain of mine? I mean, like, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I might be a little bit biased, okay, but I've read other peoples blogs, and I don't think mine stinks, but this, of course, is an opinion that the reader must have as well as the writer. Obviously, I'm no Jen Hatmaker or Beth Moore or Ann Voskamp (maybe it's just me, but AV's blog/website confuses me), who make their living and their name writing words on a page, but I wonder...do they have off days, too? Do they sit down at the computer with life tugging at them and wonder what in the world to say to the adoring public contingent? Do they sit and ponder and pray and then ponder some more, or do the words they write just roll off their fingertips and form perfect little o's and p's and q's right there on the page.

Maybe you feel the same way I do. Like your contribution to society just isn't ever going to amount to much. Like there are others who came before you and who are here now and who will come who will blow what you do out of the water, and so why should you even bother. Because sometimes the effort doesn't match the results, and life continues tugging and pulling, and you have things to do and places to go and kitchens that have gone BOOM to clean and those things don't just get done. And you might even recount a story that you have already told on your blog and someone goes "Oh, I didn't even know you wrote a blog" and you feel like they might be saying I don't think I'll take the time to check it out, either. And even though you try really, really, really hard not to, you take those things personally and to heart even though you shouldn't and you've already put words that haven't actually been spoken in that other person's mouth and you wonder is there a point to all this?


I have declared the month of March the official "Take Pity on your Mother and Clean Up Your Own Crap" month because nobody got time for this.

Not to mention that in all the places of life where you struggle--maybe with depression or anxiety or weight or beauty or loneliness--all those places where you feel like you've handed over your drama to God for the last time because how much more could I possibly struggle with this--you feel just a little bit of backsliding. Just a touch. And you know that instead of taking steps forward, turning corners and conquering the world, you're just facing the sun and walking backwards.

Over the weekend, I was entering information into My Fitness Pal--both a blessing and a curse, truth be told--and I mentioned to my husband that I just don't know how much longer I can obsess over the calories--carbs, fats, proteins, etc, etc, etc, etc--that go into my mouth and into my body. I am big on health and nutrition. I do think it's important to pay attention to what goes in your mouth. I do believe that flat abs, which is the #1 question I get asked about--starts in the kitchen. But there is a fine line that I just can't seem to navigate. The waters are deep and dark and murky there, and I get lost somewhere between moderation and overkill. And I know it's overkill because sometimes it comes from a place of fear rather than a place of confidence. Sometimes. (Sometimes I just know that a particular food isn't healthy and doesn't make me feel good so I don't eat it, so there's that.)

"You're going to deal with this for the rest of your life, aren't you?"

Not an accusation from him, more an observation. Something to make me stop in the tracks I'm making and think. Because at my age, the rest of my life is a long time to be meticulously counting carbs.

Different people are tormented by different things. Insecurities eat away at us until we have nothing left, just shells of people driving cars and sitting on beaches and cooking meals in kitchens and shopping and sitting in church pews and going to work, pretending like life is grand on Instagram but secretly pushing their fears down, wondering how will I get through this day?


The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy...
{john 10:10}

Have you ever wondered what that even means? To kill, steal, destroy? When I read that I think of war, famine and Boko Haram, which are all destructive. But there is something much more insidious, and while we would defend ourselves if a robber knocked on the door, we freely hand this thief everything we have. Because he makes us think that a number on the scale is going to make us happy. That a new car will bring joy. That money will satisfy. That true satisfaction could come from any other place than it's origin--God.

And as long as we are distracted by something--anything--then we are not fully committed to God.

But if from there you will seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and all your soul.
{deuteronomy 4:29}

He's not asking for everything for any of the reasons you might initially be suspect of: because of selfishness or wanting to make me miserable for past mistakes. He's asking for everything to protect our hearts and souls from being utterly destroyed by distractions and insecurities and all the things that threaten to torment us for the rest of our lives.

I don't have all the answers, but I do know that the things I'm looking for don't come from a number on the scale, and they never, ever will. Not ever. And it's not so much of a convincing myself of that fact as it is believing that there is more to the picture that what the world at large says is true. Because the things I'm looking for include peace. Rest. Assurance. Grace. Love. A calm spirit. I want to be happy. Not circumstantially happy. Soulfully happy. Creative.

Intoxicated by the One who made me.

...I have come that they may have life, 
and have it to the full.
{john 10:10}

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beauty Brand

"Mom," she says to me.

"We need to go to Victoria's Secret this weekend."

Say what?

When does anybody under the age of...28 need to be going to Victoria's Secret? (I don't know why 28, all the models are 20. I just feel like my own daughter shouldn't be hanging around thinking too much about Victoria's Secret until she's well into her twenties. But I'm wrong, because she already is.)

{Sigh}

Really, all she needs requires (her words, not mine) wants is a pair of Pink sweatpants or legging, and a sweatshirt. I get it. There isn't much in the way of the Pink line that isn't cute. And I have recently broken a years-long, one-woman boycott of said store because I don't like their marketing style, although, I must admit, it works.

So what is a mother to do?

I happened to be at the mall yesterday with a friend of mine, who agreed to case the store with me before I took my daughter. I needed to see if they had anything like what she would be looking for inside those Angel walls of theirs, and if I could keep her little eyes away from the less 12YO-friendly unmentionables. We met an excited store employee who showed us special zippers and the like, letting us know that there would be more PINK in the back.

"5 for $27!!!" She was especially enthusiastic about this.

"And we have a special St. Patricks Day section!" Unfortunately, I haven't made it a habit in the past to dress up for St. Patricks Day.

And, of course, the aforementioned zipper, which quite honestly is pretty awesome because it's big enough to hold your phone, too, so you don't have to carry it around with you while you workout.

"I KNOW!!" she said.

She was super-cute.

Just so you know, we will be looking for our PINK sweats online. I just don't think I'm ready for her to see the bridal lingerie.

See, I am influenced by what my eyes see. I've had such trouble comparing that in the past, I've had to throw certain catalogs and magazines straight into the recycle bin (PSA: Recycle. Everyone should be. The End.), because it becomes more about why don't I look like that I must be the most hideous creature God ever made besides the blobfish and less about feeling good about being me.

In a separate conversation, my friend mentioned to me how pretty she thinks my daughter is. As I tend to be a bit biased in that department, I agreed. She is very pretty. But she is also very confident and she feels good about herself, which is important. And I don't ever want her to lose that confidence just because she doesn't think she measures up to the nine-foot black-and-white poster of the VS model du jour.

So we will look at the PINK sweatpants online, and she will have to decide if she would like to pay $49.95 of her own money to buy a pair of pants that say PINK on them. But when she decides she wants to click bras, like she did last night, I'll say no. She doesn't need to go there just yet, and neither do I.

There is only one me. There is only one you.

We are all our own brand of beautiful.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's My Party

Happy Birthday Heather!
Google says Happy Birthday--how did they know?

The past couple of weeks have been a little bit down in the mouth for me, and today isn't really any different. First of all, I feel a tiny bit lonely and sad even though I know there are plenty of people in my corner, and second today is my birthday and it is raining and no one should have rain on their birthday.

Before you go and start thinking "boy, some people are just really hard to please", understand that I know that I often am hard to please, which puts the people who love me in the proverbial "rock and hard place" situation. I get it. Sometimes my expectations are so spectacular that no one could possibly meet them, because who can celebrate anyone's birthday for an entire month, even if they are a princess inside their very own head, but sometimes my expectations seem reasonable to me, so even though my dad sent me a card with a Panera gift card inside, I wish he would have been able to take me to lunch and spend some time with me instead, and I get disappointed.

I know. Hard to please.

So I keep telling myself that if I were to just lower my expectations a touch, I would not be quite so disappointed, but instead, I hope, and then wake up in the middle of the night with disappointment and angst over not having enough people in my corner, and then I oversleep and am rushed the next morning, which turns out to be rainy anyway.

Sometimes, it's really easy to get stuck inside your own head. I know this because it happens to me all the time. I am that personality that likes to control everything around her, even the things that don't matter, which leads, for me anyway, to food issues and the like, because I am a perfectionist who likes to control, lest anything under my watchful eye come out less than perfect. Like my cholesterol, which has skyrocketed over the last two years. Which puts me in a tizzy, deciding with certainty that eating food is no longer an option for me (and I was certain of it--at least last night I was), as I cannot figure out any other way to control my body. I threw my hands in the air and told my husband as much, leading him to look at me, stupefied, because I could tell he was thinking "I don't know what to do with you right now".

Unglued moments are going to happen. And most of the time, they don't feel so great, and, according to Lysa TerKeurst, they can lead us to label ourselves and then live in those labels as if they are true.

We know we have issues, and labeling ourselves is what comes naturally to us--it's just what we do. How we act is how we label ourselves. We don't know any other way.
{lysa terkerust, unglued}

But later in the book, she describes how she began seeing things from a new perspective.

She was visiting the David sculpture by Michelangelo at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. (It is a personal dream of mine to see the David with my own eyes in Florence.) In the hallway leading to the David, there are other sculptures in various forms of completion, and this is where she got the most out of her visit. Because she saw her "reality depicted in stone...unfinished prisoner[s] locked away in a hard place, labeled and on prominent display in a hallway leading to greatness." (pg. 36)

accademia.org

In that moment, I recognized a truth I'd needed to see for a long, long time: 
It is beautiful when the Master chisels
God doesn't allow the unglued moments of our lives to happen so we'll label ourselves and stay stuck. He allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done...
God is calling us out--out of darkness, out from those places we thought would never get better, 
out of being stuck.
{unglued}

It's true that sometimes I get stuck in my own head, focusing only on myself and my issues and the things that I'm disappointed by or can't do right or have messed up one too many times. But an intense self-focus is never healthy, and it can lead to all kinds of darker issues, like anxiety and depression. I have been focused on myself too much, too long, and it has lead to unhealthy side effects like an anxiety that wakes me up in the middle of the night, spinning non-events into near-despair-like worry. And depression that convinces me I have no people in my corner. Stuck and sad and lonely. A prisoner in a prison of my own making.

Lysa has three practical ways to see ourselves as God's workmanship:

1. Identify the label as a lie meant to tear you down
2. Choose to view the circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat yourself up mentally
3. Use the momentum of tackling one label to help tackle more

Grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, 
it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. 
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
{ephesians 2:8-10}