Thursday, April 30, 2015

Insecurity

A lot has been going on this week, including both of my children staying home from school at least one day due to a mystery illness that no one can quite pinpoint, yet one that makes them sick enough to be sent home/stay home from school. I also have been frantically preparing for a talk on the topic of insecurity, which, by the way, is not so different from anxiety, that I am giving on Saturday. And I keep thinking is there anyone less qualified than me to give a talk on insecurity? I wouldn't imagine there is, but from the feedback I received when I asked "What is your number one insecurity?", lots of people deal with it. In fact, I haven't met a single person yet who doesn't deal with some sort of insecurity, and it ranges anywhere from "um, my whole body and everything about me" to "how will I manage if something happens to my husband" to "my children's future".

Part of me imagines that people will come from all over to hear me speak, but then I wake up. Because there is this small part of me that would like to have that magic combination of clever wordiness, charm and biblical knowledge that so many other people seem to have. But then I have to take a long, hard look at who I'm hoping to glorify, and since I know it's me, I have to take a step back. Self is the absolute worst person to glorify, even though this "me first" mentality is exalted as the best way to live life, if you've ever lived for only one person, you know it doesn't work out so well.

There is also a part of me that would like for all the insecurities I have to stay hidden and secret, because really, who likes to be that vulnerable?  It's not something I always enjoy, because I am fearful of judgement being passed, people backing away, not wanted to deal with my issues and all the stuff that comes with knowing and loving me. And since one of my fears is also being lonely, it would make sense that I would want to appear to have it all pulled together to the world at large. But since a) I know you know that no one has it all together all the time and b) I know that we can relate on some level to the insecurities we face, I decided to put it all out there and cross my fingers that no one says "hey, I can't deal with you anymore, you are too much". (And anyway, if someone truly feels that way, which at some point is probably unavoidable, then it may just be time to move on. I remember listening to speaker one time, several years ago, talking about friendships. Some friendships are lifetime friendships, and some are for a certain time of life, which is hard, but every person has been placed in your life for a reason.I remember looking at my friend, her face reflecting the same shock I felt, both of us wondering could we be that friend for a season??? because neither of us wanted that, but I had lunch with that same friend just yesterday to celebrate her birthday, and I am confident that ours is a lifetime friendship, and if you have one of those, take a minute to say thank you for how truly blessed you are.)

Insecurities are hard. They cause you to hear things that weren't actually said and to assume things that aren't actually true. (An old acquaintance, who also happened to be the wife of a family therapist, said that he would ask her what she heard him say vs. what he actually said, and sometimes they were two entirely different things.) But if we can work through those insecurities and learn to glorify God and to love life, the horizon might not look so gloomy, am I right?

Saturday is creeping up quickly, and while I'm nervous, I'm also excited. Maybe three people will come, maybe 20, but relating and growing together has been my goal since the inception of this blog. Even if we can't speak face-to-face, I hope that we can still learn and grow forging ahead to freedom from insecurity. It is possible!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jamie Mendell

I recently discovered Jamie Mendell, who is a holistic life coach based out of NYC. She is all about loving the life you live, and putting an end to dieting and food obsessions.

Today's post will be short, but I thought this was awesome.

Tips to adding more pleasure in your day-to-day life:

1. Think back to what you enjoyed as a kid
2. Ask yourself as often as possible, "what can I do right now to make this moment more pleasurable?"
3. Add fun to your calendar every day.

Read the entire article here.

Have a happy day :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

You Are

So my daughter has an Instagram account. I know, sometimes I think it's a bad idea, too. But the other side of the coin says she has to learn how to live in the world, and I can't protect her from everything. Filtering out the bad and taking in the good is a part of life, even when you're 12.

So I keep an eye on the pages and people she follows (a full-time job, the number of hours required to keep up with this nonsense), and yes, she follows people that I don't agree with. So I go in and unfollow, and then she follows again, and I unfollow. It's not so much of a disagreement as it is a power play. Who will win? And who will lose?  I've found that many issues with my sweet girl are like this, because she doesn't care so much about things like Instagram. She cares about winning.

It's easy to understand, I guess, because I am might be the same way, although life has taught me that control is not mine to grasp, even though I still try. Daily. When you're twelve and you feel like your parents tell you what to do and how to do all the time, and if it isn't your parents it's some other adult, like teachers, I can see where you would want to assert your independence. I don't like it when people tell me what to do, either, and I'm well beyond the age of sass and being cheeky to my parents, one of whom is in a much better place and one of whom would just laugh at me if I resorted to such comebacks.

One of the young ladies my sweet girl has been known to follow is Kylie Jenner. Don't judge. Don't you know I already know that Kylie probably isn't the best of influences around? Navigating this ground of Instagram and outside influences, when you desperately want your daughter to say no but you know she's not, is difficult. I find myself asking questions like what is life-altering, and what is just momentary? And how does anybody know this? No one can see the future, as far as I can tell anyway.

The girl of the hour--Kylie

So Kylie.

Obviously you know who she is. She's definitely been putting herself out there lately, along with the rest of her family, and whether you love them or hate them, the Kardashian clan exists in 2015. Kylie's big thing right now seems to be beauty. And sex, but mostly beauty. From what I can tell, she's doing anything she can to create a beautiful image of herself. I could try to go into any number of reasons why, but I'm just an outsider looking in, as all of us are, and criticizing Kylie won't do my or my daughter any good. Relationships are built on trust, and constantly downing her likes, loved by me or not, won't build any bridges in our relationship. Although...that doesn't mean I can't say what I think. It's complicated, isn't it?

It's easy to look at Kylie or Kim or any of the other millions of celebrities and normal, everyday people who espouse and promote this wonky, unreliable interpretation of beauty, and compare. I do it. I know other women do. If we didn't on some level, it seems like we wouldn't have as many issues as we do. (Or beauty companies preying on our insecurities, an entirely different beast.) Girls trying to look like their favorite celebrity or model. Eating disorders. Plastic surgery. We hop on the merry-go-round in the hopes of finding The Answer, spinning around and around and around, never able to muster up the confidence to fling ourselves off, to go our own way.

I don't feel pretty. Feeling pretty is not something I have deal with when I wake up in the morning and brush my teeth while staring at myself in the mirror. Quite the opposite occurs, when the puffy eyes staring back at are at their harshest.

I read The Love Dare* a few years ago, hoping to put some spice in the everyday-ness of marriage, and came away with two things:
1) love is a choice, not a feeling
2) I choose to love those around me even when I don't feel loving

*Do yourself a favor and read it

The take-away is similar for the whole beauty issue, and while it may not be an issue for you personally, believe me, it is an issue for someone that you know. Beauty isn't a feeling, it's a choice. It's a choice to not become so wrapped up in what the other billions of people on this planet say is beautiful.

It would hurt my heart immensely if my daughter ever looked at me and said she thought she was ugly. Why? Because she came from me, and everyone says she looks just like me. In the same way, God made me, and He made me in His image, and harshly criticizing His creation is like saying He makes ugly, unbeautiful Masterpieces. Could The David ever look at Michelangelo and question the beauty of his creation?

Image result for the david
google images

There has to be an honest, deliberate approach to choosing to be pretty in the face of not feeling so pretty, and honestly, I don't take that approach everyday. Some days I'm much more willing to glare at myself in the mirror, wishing my thighs were smaller and my bust was bigger and my eyebrows were shaped differently--there is always something to change, according to my hostile eyes. I guess I'm willing to be harsh because I don't feel pretty. And it takes much more effort to make this choice: to have the confidence of knowing that God made me his masterpiece and therefore choosing to believe I am beautiful, despite what the world might suggest.

Beauty doesn't come in a one-size-fits-all box. There are many, many different shapes and sizes that make up What is Beautiful. Do the Blue Ridge Mountains look like the Rockys? No. Nor should they. They are beautiful in their own right.

And so are you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fly

There were two things I wanted when I was sixteen years old and of driving age: a really, really cute boyfriend and a rag-top Jeep. Not necessarily in that order.

The cute boyfriend!!
The cute boyfriend, well, I figured he would come eventually. (And he did, in the form of one tall, dark and handsome Pennsylvania transplant.) But I wanted that Jeep stat, because the turquoise 1979 Mustang (named Vivian--don't tell me you don't name your cars??? The one I drive now is named Taja) wasn't cuttin' it for me (I'll see if I can find a picture..no luck. Apparently, all pictures of Vivian have vanished). I needed something cooler, more radical.

A Jeep.

My dad was cool with lots of things. Leather jacket wearing phases. Lots of makeup wearing phases. Bad boyfriend dating phases. (And then I realized I am still in a bad spelling phase. That may never go away. At least I realized that faze and phase are totally not the same thing. Two words. Free. Spirit. It's mine now. I'm running with it.) Getting a tattoo. (However, he was NOT okay with the belly button piercing.) He taught me how to drive a straight-shift and how to respect the truckers on the road. He taught me how to talk into a CB radio (breaker-breaker 1-9), he taught me how to drive in the snow, and he really didn't mind when I sometimes cussed in front of him. But my dad refused to even consider getting me a Jeep. 

The dad who said no Jeep. Ever.


"Too dangerous," he would say. "Waaaay too dangerous."

And it wasn't long after my eighteenth birthday when I was driving the flat interstate in flat New Mexico that I saw an accident involving a Jeep Wrangler. It's roll bars were on one side of the road, and the rest of it was on the other.

You know, I remember thinking, maybe dad was right. Maybe Jeeps are too dangerous.

Never mind the fact that I have secretly wished for a Jeep Wrangler, even in the face of danger and severed roll bars, since the age of sixteen, all the while driving practical cars like Nissan Maximas and SUVs.

 My friend says I'm a free spirit. She says that this wonderful (?) quality is one of the reasons why that tall, dark and handsome Pennsylvania transplant must have asked me out in the first place, despite the tattoo and complete disregard for time. (This has improved slightly with time, but free spirits are typically late. Everywhere. It's just a part of who we are.)

I think my dad must be a free spirit, too, because I met him for a few minutes today to catch up, and he proudly showed me a picture of his newest baby. Nope, not a new Harley. (He wishes. So does his HOG group.) 

A new Jeep.

The dad that said yes, Jeep.


Literally. The car I begged and pleaded for approximately 22 years ago. Sitting in his driveway.

And I was all like






Sometimes life just isn't fair.

He said he would let me drive it sometime.

Free spirits don't always live by the rules. They don't always say this is dangerous. Sometimes they shout an enthusiastic YES! this is DANGEROUS!! 

And so I started thinking about my so-called (if you inserted life right there, you are definitely a child of the 90s) free spirit. I don't like living under a bunch of rules and pressure. I don't always like practicality, and would prefer driving a Jeep to driving a Maxima, if I had things my own way (I'd also take a Maserati, if it matters to any one). I don't like allowing rules to define me. I want to drive a Jeep and have a tattoo and dye my hair in an ombre and wear big sunglasses and beautiful high heels. So why do I live confined by the world's rules on beauty? Why have I allowed other people to define what beauty is for me? When did I sit down and fold my hands, when did I say I would just accept society's definition of beauty, take it at face value? When did I wave that white flag? When did I give up?

Sometimes we might think this is too dangerous. I've been there. That mindset that says if I don't look like what the world says is beautiful, then I must not be beautiful. But that's being confined by rules that don't even apply to me any more. I don't have to fit into any beauty box. No molds. No rules.

I am a free spirit. It's my turn to cry YES! this is DANGEROUS! 

Freedom. It's not always the absence of rules that makes one free, but the presence of the right restrictions. Finding the ones that are the most liberating. 

God says He made me, and not only did He make me, but He made me (me!) into His masterpiece. The world's rules might suggest that I am only a masterpiece if I look a certain way, and I might be tempted to stay confined and oppressed by those rules. But He says I don't have to live by those rules. I'm free from them. I don't have to believe them and I definitely don't have to live by them.

So go ahead. Unfold yourself from that box you've been crammed into. Stretch your legs. Lift your arms. Spread your free spirit wings and fly.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Truth Is...

Sometimes feeling lost is terrifying.

Sometimes feeling lost is exactly were you might need to be. Because when you feel lost, it means you can be found.

I won't try to admit that I do not feel lost some days. Lost in the daily demands of life, lost in the worry, the what-ifs, the can-I-do-this, the I-don't-know-what-to-do, the my-fears-and-insecurities-might-swallow-me.

I'm insecure about my weight because I've long thought that my value--the things I have to offer to the world--are wrapped up in my weight. That's not hard to understand; lots of us get caught up in assuming that we are how we look. The hard part is figuring out where to go when you finally start to realize that weight, beauty and everything else are only what you make them to be. And they don't define. Even though I keep letting them.

So my husband said that Friday's post might have been "a little bit sad", and after reading and rereading approximately 157 times, I can see where, yes, it may have come across as a little bit sad. I'd feel sad for anybody who is caught up in the I-don't-know-who-I-am or the my-insecurities-are-taking-over-my-life. That's why I write. Because you and me, we can relate. And then we can grow. Together.

But if you read between the lines on Friday, I hope you saw a great and wonderful truth, and it's name is Hope. In the name of Jesus, we have hope. We aren't stuck sitting here, wishing for something different.

He's already here.

Extending His hand. We aren't walking this path alone. We never were. And we never will.

Some of us just aren't so confident in what our purpose is. And there is a lot of talk in churchy-type circles about Purpose. As if one's purpose were so easy to identify and pursue.

So we look and watch and question. And sometimes live not for today but for tomorrow, or for yesterday, because today doesn't seem very purposeful at all. In fact, today seems very unpurposeful, and maybe even a little bit boring. And we think to ourselves, The Ones With An Unclear Purpose, we think "See, how does this day have any meaning at all? I am feeling very uncalled." And we revert right back to our old habits, those possibly destructive mindsets that continue to make us doubt what life is all about.

There has been a long-standing debate in my house over this:

When to tell our kids that there is no Santa Claus.

Some of you gasp. Tell your kids there is no Santa and rip their innocence away from them like that?

Yes. There comes a time and an age where kids need to know. And while my husband and I have disagreed over when this time should be, when he came into our room last night and said "I think it's time to tell him that there is no Easter Bunny," I saw my window of opportunity and took it. 

It's time.

We didn't have to tell our daughter. She found out a couple of years ago via the unfortunate gaffe of her mother, a.k.a. Santa, who left an errant tag identifying the contents of the very package she was opening on said package that was supposed to be from Santa. It was the smallest of small tags, but once her blue eyes saw, there was no going back. She looked at her mother's very own (very identifiable) handwriting on the package that said MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM: SANTA!! Then looked at me. Back to package. Me. Everything seemed like it was going in slow motion as we watched the scales fall from her eyes and the realization of what she likely had suspected all along hit her full in the face. 

She's been very supportive of keeping the secret from her younger brother and has not said a peep about who really plays the role of Santa.

But we didn't want the poor kid going to school telling people his new Under Armour shirt was from the Easter Bunny, so we decided to go with the truth. Imagine that. Parents telling the truth.

Anyways.

Me: I need to talk to you for a second.

Him: Okay.

He looked at me expectantly, and I found myself surprisingly mute. I had been so confident that this was the right thing to do, but now that the moment was on me, I found myself--suddenly, and quite surprisingly--questioning. Should he stay innocent for one more year? 

No, my head said. 

So I forged ahead. "So once upon a time..."

He cocked his head and looked at me little funny, maybe because he didn't know where I was going with this, either. Or perhaps he was confused as to why I just trailed off when my story started off with such mystery and intrigue. Either way, we stared at each other for a few minutes before I continued.

Listen, there is no Parent Handbook on How To Deliver Potentially Devastating New To Your Children That May Validate Their Innate Distrust Of You As A Parent, okay?

"So the truth is, there are lots of traditions that go along with holidays and such, and sometimes parents play along with these traditions because it's fun for them, and it's fun for kids. But, honestly, the truth is--"

And he cut me off right there. "I think I know where this is going."

Oh.

"Have people talked about it at school?" I asked. 

"Nope," he said. "I just know."

"Okay, then, well, the truth is--" I began again, but this time he cut me off with "--there is no elf."

Oh! I didn't see that coming. 

"Yeah, I figured that one out last year when he fell."

"Well, yes. You're right. There is no elf. And the truth is..." This time I left the sentence hanging so he could finish it.

"There is no Easter Bunny."

Bingo.

"And the truth is..." I started, and he finished with "there is no Santa".

"And the truth is, who is the Easter Bunny?" I asked. He pointed at me.

"Santa?" More pointing.

"The elf?" 

He had the idea.

And just like that, the snap of a finger, the nod of a head, the truth was out.

The truth is, purpose doesn't have to be or really always need to be loud and open or even the most popular or well-known. Sometimes purpose doesn't have to stand out and be noticed by others and their mamas. Sometimes purpose doesn't have Your Name written in gleaming lights. (Even though sometimes, this is what I want.)

Sometimes purpose is quiet. Modest. Humble. Easily passed by, sometimes overlooked. Because it's gently explaining simple truths of the world--there is no Santa--in preparation for harder ones. Or guiding the ones who are following our quiet, inconspicuous footsteps.

The end of life won't be marked by "She was loved because she was thin and perfect and looked young". It will be marked by "She loved well."

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
{romans 8:28}


Friday, April 17, 2015

Will You?

The sun was blazing but losing it's fight to stay above the horizon, kissing my skin with it's warmth as I tilted my face to the sapphire blue sky.

I could live here, I thought as I took in the shimmering water, palatial homes just out of reach of it's gentle, lapping fingers. The beach was nearly empty; only a few lingered, catching the last of the sun's radiance as it slowly sunk beyond the horizon.

The perfect sunset. The perfect day. The kids splashed in the waves and I watched them out of the corner of my eye as I looked down to the southern-most point of the island, hand shading my eyes as the last of the sun's rays sang their swan song. Sand, water, trees. A tropical paradise as far as I could see. Everything around me was picture-perfect, yet my soul could not rest easy. I picked up my phone. Opened the app.

The numbers jumped out at me like a rabid prosecutor, fingers pointing, accusing me of eating too many carbs and not enough protein, too much salt, all the figures in red, verifying the fear deep in my heart.

You aren't good enough. You'll never measure up. Look at you. You can't even get this right. 

The numbers on the tiny screen blurred as tears filled my eyes. How many days have I tried and failed to make it perfect? How many times have I started out with a goal and had the numbers glare at me in condemnation?

Damn you, My Fitness Pal, and damn you, carbs, and damn you, protein, and damn you, calories, I said to myself. Tomorrow WILL be better than today.

And the sun sank slowly into the trees, melting into glowing pinks, golds and purples, a glorious display of some of God's most beautiful artwork, yet my blank eyes couldn't behold any beauty. They were distracted by the intense battle within.

I'm sorry, will you help me?

Words that would melt any parent's heart. If those words were to actually be spoken. Sincerely. Which in my house, hardly ever occurs.

My children, as different as their personalities are, have one strong thread in common. They are both incredibly stubborn.

And any wonder. They come from incredibly stubborn, hard-headed parents. They had no chance when they were conceived to be anything other than what they are.

As they grow and mature, I see inklings of maturity shine through, which gives me hope that one day, they will see the value in a genuine acknowledgement of wrongdoing, even if it's a mistake, or a misguided belief. But for now, we tend to focus on self, and what's best for self, and how can I get myself out of trouble. And if there is an apology, which one is better at than the other, it tends to be laced with nonchalance, with a flippant tone and a toss of the head.

This struggle is not an unfamiliar one. I rarely feel like admitting my faults, and I struggle with the words I'm sorry. Other words-words that condemn, words that damage and distress, words that criticize and punish--those roll easily off my tongue, and I soak them up, accepting them as truth as they run the familiar track in my head.

You're no good! they laugh at me. You'll never measure up! they shout. So I fold my hands. Shut my eyes. Bow my head. And accept defeat. No tears can even squeeze out of the corner of my eyes; no hope can be seen in this dark place. My heart has accepted the lies it has been told, and I have accepted the sentence: prison. Of my very own making.

My own stubborn nature has not served me well in some areas of life. Fights get more intense, and they last a lot longer than they should. My refusal to follow certain rules has lead to more than a few slaps on the hand, and my innate I-can-do-this-myself attitude has at times left me feeling alone and isolated, with a growing ache in my soul. And my stubborn refusal to accept help has brought me to this point. A point where numbers can cause tears, where life is counted and not lived, where God is acknowledged but not let in. Oh, how he probably longs to hear I'm sorry, will you help me from my quivering, yet determined, lips.

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, again and again and again I've gone, like a boat heaving in the waves. I'm good! I'm not so good. I'm good! I'm so not good right now. I'm great! I failed. I'm awesome! I'm not good. Just when I think this battle has been laid to rest, a fresh wave of disapproval and judgement surfaces, and no matter how many steps forward I've taken, it feels like a giant step back. To counting numbers and bites. To not living life to it's fullest, but in pieces. A shattered soul pretending to live whole, in secret trying to pick up the pieces, dropping them, trying to fit them together again in a make-shift depiction of perfection.

Lysa TerKeurst always talks about imperfect progress, and if there was ever a person who felt like her progress was imperfect, it would be me. But as this battle has overwhelmed my heart, I've begun to realize that I've asked God for help before with no real intention of ever giving up. I've invited him to drive while white-knuckling the steering wheel, giving him directions on where to go.

A heart can only take so much before she realizes it's time.

Time to stop being stubborn.
Time to stop trying to pick up the pieces on my own.
Time to stop counting calories and start living life.
Time to love well. And live well.
Time to say I'm sorry.

Will you help me?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Its Time

I've been a little off ever since I came home from vacation with some sort of weird cold/allergies that makes me think I can't walk or breathe or think properly. I'm thankful to SC for the bout of sunshine I experienced, as here the weather hasn't gotten the "It's April!" memo and is cloudy with a damp, chilly feel to the air. (As an aside, my friend in NY still had snow on the ground not too long ago so I suppose I can't complain.)

I've always been the type of person who loves to help other people. (I should clarify and say I love to help other people when I feel I might be good at what they are asking me to help with; otherwise, I feel helpless and stuck. And this is completely off topic, but the sidebar ads on websites I frequently check freak me out. I just went to a website that I visit nearly every day, and the bar running across the top was an ad for anthropologie, which I've never seen advertised there before. Incidentally, I was just at an anthropologie store last week, and had the receipt emailed to me rather than take a paper copy (RRR). And now I'm seeing anthropologie ads on websites I visit? Isn't that a weird, kind of Big Brother, creepy thing? Do they know what is emailed to me? Does anthropologie know what websites I visit? I always feel like...somebody's watching me...And one more thing, which I was reminded of by talking about anthropologie in this very long rabbit trail. While I was there, looking at all the fun things that store has to over that are also made in China but no comment right now, several people--moms with teenagers is what I assumed--came into the store and started an immediate and emphatic commentary not only on products but on the store's visual displays, complete with much waving of hands punctuated with exclamations over the use of "normal, everyday items like yarn used in a whole new way". The only way I can describe it is like a museum tour, where the tour guide points out things museum guests may not have noticed. In this particular case, they were verra, verra excited about the aforementioned yarn display and also about how the ceiling heights in the store changed. I also appreciate these things, and tend to notice them, but I thought it was interesting they way they pointed these details out to each other. Almost like they were learning about creating new displays. Maybe there were. Who knows. I'll now move on to the main topic.)

As I said, I like to help other people--but I don't like to ask other people for help. I feel like I'm asking too much, or placing a burden on them that they may not want to accept. I feel like I might give off a "I don't need any help" vibe because I'm overly sensitive to asking other people for help.

I have this deep-seated fear that has remained an insecurity into my adulthood, and it's one that no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to shake. Ready? Deep breath, because it takes one, along with closed eyes and a please-don't-judge-me pinch to my face to admit this...

I'm afraid of not being liked. I'm afraid of being rejected. I'm afraid of being lonely. And I'm afraid I'm projecting that fear onto my kids, too.

There. Now it's out and I can deal with it.

Sometimes secrets that aren't secrets anymore no longer hold power over the one who held the secret for so long.

A while ago, over lunch and coffee, a friend told me about several times she has been in a bind, and a mutual friend has stepped in to offer assistance. And now when she finds herself in similar situations, our mutual friend will make a friendly phone call to ask if she needs anything. If I could help, I would, but I don't have the resources to do so.

During our conversation, I found myself coming slightly unhinged because I have also been in similar situations, and our mutual friend has never offered her resources to me, and she has never called to see if I need anything. But even I recognized how utterly ridiculous and petty I sounded in my head and pushed those ugly feeling down. I could never admit to my friend that I was jealous over the fact that she had help and I didn't, and besides, who does that anyway? But feelings that get pushed down never stay down forever, and in my head, I was quickly mulling over the facts and assigning assumptions to each one, and in the process labeling myself, too. And the more I thought about it, the more unglued I started to become. I mean, I've known both these friends for years, and in fact have known the mutual friend longer. In the end, I came to the unfair conclusion that I was forgotten and rejected, verifying in my head my initial, deep-rooted fear of not being liked.

Reactions are different for everyone, but normally people fall into two main categories: exploders and stuffers. (unglued, lysa terkeurst)

And when my mind starts screaming at me see, I told you so, I told you you are alone, I realize I am a stuffer who builds barriers to protect myself. At least it feels like protection. But the reality is, barriers reinforce the feelings of loneliness and rejection because they are so effective at doing what they are meant to do: keeping people O-U-T. Rational thinking ends as irrational thoughts and fears surface, typically the same ones I've had for years.

Get a grip, I told myself at the time. This isn't a big deal.

But simply telling myself to get a grip wasn't enough, and I found myself going over all the nice things I'd done over the years for people, fuming over this one, small incident, wondering if anyone else notices me at all. The last thing I wanted to do was pray over this, but I found myself in a familiar, circular thought pattern, unable to get out of the "thought ditch" I was digging in my mind.

Familiar might equal comfortable, but it doesn't always equal healthy.

I've been working so very hard to change my thought patterns over the years, finally recognizing (not until my thirties!) that change is a possibility. But it takes a lot of hard work, breaking habits, changing familiar mindsets, and ultimately for me, going to God with it all, because my unhealthy habits, fears, insecurities and mindsets had become so ingrained, I couldn't change them on my own.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; 
The old has gone, the new is here.
{2 corinthians 5:17}

Some people are gifted with beautiful words, and they use those words together as a beautiful prayer, but I am not one of those people. Especially when I'm wrestling with an unhealthy thought pattern that just refuses to go away. Sometimes the only words I know to whisper are "help me, Jesus" because frankly, I don't know what else to say.

But I know I need help.

I wish I could tie this up with a pretty bow and say everything has worked out for the best and I am no longer plagued by dark thoughts about people who are supposed to be my friends, but it wouldn't be the truth. I am a passionately self-centered person, and not on purpose, I just always tend to think about myself before I think about others. (This is also something I'm working on, as it doesn't tend to work well when in relationships with others.) But that "thought ditch" I was talking about earlier? Typically, I'm the only one in it, and when your mind centers on the ME in everything, you will typically find yourself dealing with negative side effects like a lack of contentment, negativity and ding, ding, ding, ding relationship struggles. (stronger, angela thomas)

Do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...
for by the grace given to me 
I say to everyone among you 
not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, 
but to think with sober judgement, 
each according to the measure of faith that God as assigned. 
{romans 12:2-3}

The point is this: we have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have been given the power than can not only transform thoughts but that can transform lives.

A LITTLE STRONGER--I have mistakenly believed I must fill my mind with thoughts of myself--my dreams, hurts, improvment, happiness. But too much thinking has left me unhealthy.
It's time to live stronger than this.
{stronger, angela thomas}

Monday, April 13, 2015

Seriously Though

It has been a bad couple of weeks, and I'm not even kidding you. While we had a wonderful week last week, small, insignificant molehills have all added up to one big mountain today. I mean, I'm not like Job or anything, but if something can go wrong lately, then it most certainly will. Like my husbands car battery mysteriously dying right as we were loaded up to head out of town. Or getting out of the car on Sunday morning, body moving in a forward, getting-out-of-the-car motion, shirt staying stuck to the drivers-side seat back. Because of gum. Gum that was stuck to my seat and my shirt. (I don't know. Don't ask.)  Or this. Me opening my front screen door today, only to have the heavy wooden one get caught in the cross-breeze and slam. On my hand. Which was resting on the doorframe. Yeah. Ouch.

Where is my Baymax when I need him?

To further my frustrations, my internet is out. And after two hours this morning and an additional hour this afternoon, all anyone can tell me is that my Ethernet cord might be bad and maybe I should go buy a new one. Because they are crazy cheap so why not. 

Seriously though.

So here I am typing on a 2x5 inch screen, hoping a new Ethernet cord will solve the worlds problems and clean my house and make my kids do their homework, because there is now no more time in the day to accomplish any of that. That time belongs to Apple now. Along with $29 from my wallet. 

However. I do not enjoy the company of glass-half-empty people, and I have promised myself about 1,000 times lately that I will see the silver lining despite these annoying little frustrations that just seem to keep happening. I see no point in being negative, although this vent session has helped immensely. 

So instead of seeing only problems, I am choosing to put on a different pair of lenses. They aren't always rose-colored, but they do help me see that small issues are just that--small--and that life is so much more beautiful than getting caught up in the minor stuff. 

And on that note, I hear much commotion coming from the basement area, presumably from some kids and their friends who are having issues. 

Kids, prepare yourselves. You're in for a talk youll hopefully never forget. Now first of all, let's take off our Negativity Hats and put on our Big Girl and Big Boy Britches...

Seriously though. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Laptop: The Update

So here's the deal: I've heard of things being lost before*. I mean, my son went to a friends house a couple of years ago with two shoes on his feet and only returned with one, prompting an emergency trip to Rack Room Shoes for a new pair. I don't know if the school has a specific rule in place re: shoes, but I do know that they expect you to wear them. (Shoes have been a consistent issue in our house, especially in the past, with my children hopping happily in the car, inevitably on our way to WalMart, with no shoes on their tootsies, and me only discovering the shoe omission in the WalMart parking lot, where I say "whatever" and heave a great sigh, and then walk around WalMart, two shoeless kids in the basket.)

*I had a dream one time about an item so insignificant I can't even remember what it was, but what I do remember is that I had a dream about it, and in my dream I looked under my desk in my room and found said item, so when I woke up the next day, I looked under my desk and lo and behold! My prize possession (that I can't remember what it was). Weird, right? I thought at the time "maybe this is my gift", which would have been super cool and made me a lot of friends, but sadly, it seems that it was an isolated incident. 

So here's what I cannot figure out: how does a family completely lose a laptop computer? It's not like it's small and it certainly wouldn't blend in with any decor besides the office decor, and it is clearly not where it is supposed to be in there. I thought maybe this could have been an April Fools joke played on me by one mischievous little girl, but when asked about the laptop, she went through the timeline of events:

"I took the laptop up to my room, and then I turned it on."

Okay.

"Then I took it in my bathroom and sat it on my toilet."

Okay, wait, you sat it on your toilet? Meaning you were using your toilet as a desk? When we have plenty of horizontal space in our house? Whatever, keep going.

"And then Kelsey came into my room and I laid the laptop on my bathroom floor" insert eye roll from me, "AND NOW ITS GONE, AND THATS WHERE I LEFT IT!!!!!! And I've looked everywhere, just like you told me to do!"

(Her "everywhere"--i.e. a few countertops and the living room floor, are quite different from my "everywhere"--i.e. like, seriously. Everywhere.)

Before we get into Rules of Proper Laptop Usage, to go along with Rules of Proper Trash Can Usage, we need to find the laptop.

First I just want to know why we have so many laptop/computer/electronic/technology issues anyway.

"Maybe somebody stole it!" she offered. 

You mean to suggest that someone broke into our home and the only thing they saw worth stealing was an antiquated (read: it's at least three years old, maybe older. A dinosaur.) Toshiba laptop with 6,792 candid shots and selfies on it? I see some holes in your theory.

But for now, we will just have to keep on looking, because extended Aprils Fools joke or not, the dinosaur is MIA.

I got an email yesterday morning about Good Friday services and Easter Sunday services, followed by the question: How important is the resurrection?

It made me think. This is not a question I ponder in my everyday life, although maybe it should be. How important is the resurrection?

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
{1 Corinthians 15:13-14}

It got me thinking, especially when I read my pastors words: "there was never a more important moment in history than the moment Christ rose from the dead...Paul says everything we believe hangs on the resurrection".

I've never been one to place much importance on any one holiday or event, and the compassion and sentimental genes passed me by when I was made. But when I started thinking about how my faith and what I believe truely does hang on the fact that today, Christ was crucified, and Sunday, He rose victorious, defeating death and allowing me a freedom I never would have known otherwise, it indicates how very much I need to be celebrating with a spirit of thanksgiving this weekend.

Have a wonderful Easter, and I'll see you next Monday!

Update to the update: So I say to my kids "TODAY IS THE DAY WE FIND THE LAPTOP" and out of nowhere my son goes "I know where the laptop is" and I'm like "where you not ever around during any of these find the laptop discussions but whatever where is it?" and he's like "in my room" like we all should have know this. His room. The one place I didn't scour. Huh. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Living Proof (I may not be as smart of a shopper as I thought)

There are a few things about life that cause me much consternation. Things like "what does healthy eating really mean" and "why is this house always such a mess" and "how can I keep reading about the crisis in the Middle East and still sleep at night" are all sources. And also at the top of my list this morning is "where the heck is the laptop" because when I went into the office to use said laptop it was missing. Which means someone has used it for their own good purposes and not put it back. After a quick search of the house (and also the garage because you just never know), I have declared the laptop missing.

How does an entire laptop go missing?* EXACTLY. 

I was also greeted with this mess, and was once again reminded of what a bad, bad idea it is to attempt to keep ferns inside over the winter, especially when you forget about them. 



*But I have a sneaking suspicion that this may involve a girl who will remain unnamed to protect her innocence until proven guilty but who lives in my home and who everybody and their mother says looks like me, especially because the quick house search for the missing laptop revealed two containers of icing and a jar of sprinkles hiding in her closet. The two containers of icing and jar of sprinkles that we had to make a special stop at 9PM at the grocery store for because she "had to have them" for Tech Ed today. Had to. So now two containers of said icing plus one jar of colorful sprinkles are hiding in an undisclosed location. Player. Gets. Played. What. 

A few weeks ago a friend and i planned a "walking and shopping date", which simply means that we walked around the mall and shopped. (Actually, we got to the mall before the stores opened and really walked the mall, which is an excellent source of entertainment if you like to people watch.) When Ulta finally opened the shiny glass door that are connected to its shiny glass walls (which someone had stuck what looked to be an orange slice to--I would liked to have been people watching when that whole deal went down, as I had lots of questions about the orange slice and its origin and also why it was still there), my friend and I charged the store, making a beeline for hair products and nail polish and eye makeup remover. (Sometimes it's the simple things.) 

When I started going to a new salon to get my hair cut, the girls tsk-tsked over my lack of concern over the shampoo I used in the shower. Meaning, I use (or used to use, that is, as I'm a reformed shampoo user) whatever I had a coupon for that was also on sale at the grocery store. (If Gloria from Modern Family uses Head and Shoulders, why shouldn't I?). My biggest complaint at the time was frizzy, big hair. (If you want to see really big hair, have the aforementioned laptop thief blow-dry her hair about halfway on a moderately dry day. Wow.) YOU CANNOT USE HEAD AND SHOULDERS was what I left with that day--along with new salon-recommended shampoo and conditioner and a somewhat lighter wallet. (I'm a salon baby now.) 

I know that you know that salon products can be pricey. (Hence the coupon+sale business from before.) And hair products from a beauty supply store like Ulta and Sephora can be super-expensive. (Leading me to wonder who makes this and ponder the genius of marketing.) Anyhow, when I saw the Living Proof (an allure magazine beauty award winner the box informed me, so who can deny its power?) box set including shampoo, conditioner AND styling cream (aptly named frizz--love it, don't love the price of it), I was taken. I grabbed the box even though it was Lent and I had sworn off all (most) frivolous spending. I justified my purchase as follows:

1) I need more shampoo (and H&S apparently is the devil of the shampoo world)
2) one bottle of shampoo is $29, yet this entire set is $29, so I must be getting a good deal

Therefore, I am not spending my money frivolously. 

Red flags all over the place, starting with "this box set is only $29". 

I learned a long time ago that one should not wash her hair every day, so now I go as long as possible (read: sometimes three days) and use A LOT of body sprays and dry shampoos, which doesn't always do the trick but is mostly good enough. It takes me a long time to got through one bottle of shampoo, especially now that my hair is shorter (and cuter, if I do say so myself). So the time came yesterday morning to finally open my new Living Proof hair products. I mean, confetti may as well have come bursting out of that box I was so excited. 


I did not see this coming. Or this. 


Where's the shampoo? EXACTLY. 


What's this? Tiny bottles way down at the bottom of this enormous box? Oh yes. Because as it happens, I have been bamboozled. Double-crossed. Hoodwinked

Because this is the size I bought. 


Just big enough to fit nicely in the palm of your hand. 

Have you ever thought "I'd really like to pay $10 for a trial size shampoo"? I have never thought that before, either, actually. And yesterday was April Fools day, too. Yep.

Player. Got. Played. 

What.

I hope this is some flipping jaw-dropping, Gloria-inspiring shampoo.

I'm taking next week off to spend time with my sweet family, one of whom had better cough up exactly one laptop computer. I'll probably see you again right here tomorrow, and then we will meet again in a week. Happy Easter!!




Wednesday, April 1, 2015