Monday, March 16, 2015

The Junk Knows Where We Live

Spring is finally starting to inch it's way in around here. And by spring, I mean averages in the 50s. And by inching I mean some days it's in the 40s and some days in the 70s. It can't quite decide if it still wants to be Winter or wants to try on Spring for size.

With that, we went out and played in the backyard this weekend for the first time in what seemed like forever. Well, except for the sledding we did in the good snows we had this year...And when I went out with the boys and started looking around, it felt a little like the rapture happened. And we got left behind! How did we get left behind?!?

I don't remember the day we stopped going outside, but from the looks of things now as I step back outside again, it seems as though winter happened overnight around here. And we hibernated for the winter. Without remembering caring to clean up! I mean, empty juice boxes, an empty veggie straw bag, chips for the charcoal grill, army men for the Clash of Clans battle, cars and trucks and balls strewn over the yard. We tried to leave the junk, forget about the junk (and I obviously did a great job of that based on my amazement when I went out to find it all) and move on into winter.

But it always catches up to us, doesn't it?? We can move, change schools, switch jobs, change friends, change boyfriends, attend a new church, try a new workout, get new clothes...but we are still there. We can't leave US. And we can't just walk away from the junk and think it's going to disappear. Or fix itself. Because it's not. And sometimes inevitably that sucks! If there is junk, we can't run away. Even for a season. It will always catch up with us. It knows where we live!

It is so easy to see the junk in others. And to judge them for it. It is so much harder and scarier to acknowledge ours.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7

But as the season outside is changing now, so too is my season changing. I am back to being "just" a mom. And I love it. Yes, it gives me more time with my boys. But And it also allows me more freedom and time to do things I might not otherwise do as much, like read and study and listen to podcasts, and learn things in the process about myself. And not always fun things. Hard things. Scary things. Things I see in others and don't want to see in myself. Things that only my Father can change in me. And He can. And He will. Because it says
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15

The context here for "ask whatever" is in the context of fruit. Fruit of the Spirit. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control (Gal 5:22-23). And because it says it, I believe it. And as scary as it is to ask, I am asking for change.
And so this is my prayer.
Because there is never an end to the changing. And there should never be an end to my seeking.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sick Days and Learning to LOVE

My kids are all home today.
It's a Monday.
It's not a holiday.
It's not my choice.
One doesn't go to school on Mondays, and the other two are home sick. They are sick enough (coughing) that I know it would be obvious to others, but not sick enough that they are lazy and just want to rest on the couch and be cuddly.
The sad part is I don't get my time with just one kid like normal. It makes Monday a little harder for me. And they feel like now they need to be entertained all day...
The nice part is it is cold and wet and dreary out. And I don't think I'll have to go out in it at all. And my schedule wasn't booked, so I'm not rescheduling my day...

For most, kids being home sick might not be a big deal.
For me, it seems hard.
I don't think it should be.
This is the first time my kids have taken "sick days." They have either been sick when school was out for the weekend or snow or holidays...or I have sent them even if they were just a "little" sick. I'm sure other parents may read this and get upset and say I am THAT mom that got YOUR kid sick...but I could say the same about how mine got sick too...and germs build up our immune system, right?

My kids are in Kindergarten and preschool. Them missing for being sick (or any other reason) is not a big deal yet. They aren't getting work sent home because they missed so much. They will go back and won't be so behind that they feel bad about missing.

But I think I have allowed them missing (or not missing) to become a reflection of my parenting. I was upset that Micah got a "tardy" while I was out of town and I found out on his progress report and now his record for the year is "tarnished." It probably bothered me way more than it should have!

If I get my kids to school on time and pick them up on time every day, then I'm a good mom. I have it all together. I have it together enough to get them all up and fed and ready and to school on time. And other people think I'm awesome because of it (or at least I like to think they think I'm awesome!). If we plan vacations and trips around school holidays then we are better parents for not taking them out of school and therefore taking school lightly. If my kids aren't staying home sick, then I am obviously the best mom on the block that can keep my kids healthy all year long.

Or I am missing out on trips and extra time with family because we "can't" miss school.
Or I am sending my kids to school just a little sick because I don't want them to miss.

I want them to be considered a good student. I want them to be seen as the kid and the family that has it all together. Not like the family that can't ever make it on time. That can't make their kid's lunch in the morning. That is always the last one to pick their kid up. Where ever they go! That can't keep their kid healthy enough to be in school...

And there it is. The judgmental side of me that also always feels like I'm being judged. The side of me that finds my identity in what others think of me (or at least in what I think others think of me). The side that finds my identity in being the mom that has it all together. The mom that has kids that get to walk up at the end of the year and get an award for perfect attendance and be seen once again as the mom that must have figured it all out!

But my kids are home sick. And that's the truth of it. And I don't want to risk them getting their friends sick just so I can keep my identity...And I desperately want to be okay with it. Really okay.
As much as I want to be seen as the "together mom" I also DON'T want to be seen this way because I know I don't have it all together and I know if I appear this way, others will always look at me and feel like they can't measure up and feel like they can't be around me. And that is the FARTHEST thing from what I want. But that's what I (we) do. Especially us women. We compare. SO much. TOO much.

And I don't want comparison.
I want friends. I want genuine friendships.

What if we just loved ourselves and loved each other.
Through our weaknesses. In spite of our junk. BECAUSE of our weaknesses and junk and insecurities and failures and sick kids...

If we were so busy loving ourselves and loving each other, we wouldn't have time to compare ourselves with each other and worry about how we are being compared to and judged.
How great would THAT be!?!

That's what I want.

So, my kids are sick.
But when they are better, let's hang out.
Let's be friends.
Let's be genuine.
Let's LOVE each other.
And ourselves!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Is it worth the risk?

Me and Bob Goff!

I just got back from a fabulous opportunity to go to a conference (Storyline Conference) where I met some of my favorite writers, speakers, and bloggers! It was small, up close, and personal. There were hard questions that I sort of want to shy away from but also really want to process. Things I don't know the answer to and am sort of not sure if I want to know the answers. But really know I should work to find the answers.

There are a few things that stick out more than others. That keep rolling around in my head. That won't get out of my thoughts. One was something Bob Goff (wrote the book Love Does) said in his talk to close out the two-day conference. It was in the mix of other stuff. But it stood out to me. It's not something I haven't heard before. But is obviously something I needed to hear again. And something I need to process.

"I would rather fail trying than fail watching."

My immediate thought was, "I would rather not fail. I would rather not fail than fail trying."

I'm not totally sure why. I'm not sure what has put this in me. I know I have always been the person that doesn't want to raise my hand in class unless I know I'm right. I don't want to risk being wrong. I'm the person that wouldn't try out for a team if I thought I wouldn't make it. I wouldn't apply for a job unless I was sure I was going to get it. It doesn't mean I always accomplished these things, but when I was wrong or would lose or would not make the team or wouldn't get hired...I was reminded of why I didn't want to try in the first place. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear. Lots and lots of fear.

But God is not a God of fear. And he has not called us to live in fear. He has called us to live in LOVE. And there is risk in love.

But maybe it's worth it?

Yes, I think it's worth it.

This is still in my head right now. I don't think it has made it to my heart. There is still fear for me. I still sort of think I would rather not fail than fail trying. Because if I fail trying, then I might be a failure. For some reason I think I am going to be defined by this. By my mess-ups. By my failures.

But my mind is sort of shifting to start wondering if this is also failing? Am I failing by not even trying? Not trying to just BE ME. Not trying to risk relationship. Not trying to make new friends. Not trying to figure out what my story is and how God wants me to live it. Not trying new things.

My thinking is starting to shift a little.

Just a little.

Because it is still hard and scary and I still have a fear of failure.

But I think my definition of failure needs to change a little. Or a LOT.

And I need to remember something else Bob said, "It's okay to fail because you'll fall into the arms of Jesus."

YES!'s okay to try, and fail, and fall into the arms of Jesus!

I know there is so much more to this. And to all the other questions and statements that people were speaking directly to me during those two days.

But here's to trying. And risk. And failure. And falling. Into His arms.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Is It Tomorrow Yet?

I have been finding myself saying the phrase "tomorrow" a lot lately.

Tomorrow I will get back on track with my eating...

Tomorrow I will get up early to run...

Tomorrow I will stop being passive aggressive...

Tomorrow I will think of others before myself...

Tomorrow I will read the Bible more...

Tomorrow I will be a better mom...

Tomorrow I will be a better friend...


But, the problem seems to be that every day when I wake up, it is TODAY again...

I think I need a new "plan."

I need to think more often about today instead of tomorrow...

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mt 6:34)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Gift of Going Second

That time I grew a mustache...

I like free things.

I know really "nothing in life is free" but even still, I like to think it can be in some way.

I am often hesitant to buy a book or watch a movie unless I know without a doubt it is going to be good, I already love the author/actors, or have heard amazing things about them. But if they are free...that's a whole other thing.

I used to go to at least one conference a year while working for my previous church and I loved it! I'm a learner. An experiencer. The hands-on of being there (wherever there might be for that conference) and experiencing the crowd, the noise, the people, the words of wisdom...Don't get me wrong, I am an introvert and I often sneak away at these things just to have a moment of silence and people-watch...but all in all, I enjoy it for the usual 2-3 days these things last. I can usually handle it for that long.

Another thing I like about these conferences is the "free swag." I know, I know...I paid for the conference, so it's not technically free. But it still feels like it to me in the moment. And often this includes books. That I might not otherwise ever buy, but that end up being great (sometimes. sometimes not.). One such book I got years ago that had a great impact on my life (at the time) was Permission to Speak Freely.

I would love to always feel like I have permission to speak freely. I think that's why I was excited about it. What could I learn? What could this look like in my life? Could I be so bold? Could I speak freely? Always?

It's been years, and I remember bits and pieces, but overall, the biggest thing I walked away with after reading this book was the "gift of going second." And I tried hard to put it into practice. And I learned of others trying to put it into practice after I talked about it in a staff meeting. The overall idea is going first (whatever this may look like) and therefore giving others the "gift of going second." This has a lot to do with authenticity. Sharing life- the ups and the downs. The struggles and junk especially. The stuff we don't want to share and don't want anyone else to know about. That's the stuff we should be sharing first so that others realize they are not alone and are willing to share also. They are willing to go second.

I share all of this with the realization that I feel like I have gotten away from this. It is so much easier and more natural for me to keep my thoughts and ideas to myself. To keep my struggles hidden (past and present). To judge others for their junk and pretend like I don't have any. To not talk and not share. To just not even think about it. To only think of me and my comfort level and not think about others and how me sharing first could impact them and help them share more freely. To think about how it's easier to give one-word (often not authentic) answers and move on with life. To not think about going into more detail and being real. It's just easier not to be.

And I share all of this so that I will not just think in my head that I should put this into practice, but to make it public (with the 3 people who read this blog) and be held a little more accountable in these thoughts.

A friend recently sent a long message about life and where's she's at and what she's been going through and what's going on and all that jazz. And I loved it. I thought, "if she had just asked how I was doing, I would have said Good and probably not much more." But she didn't. She shared. The good and the hard. And she gave me the Gift. I wanted to share more back because she shared first.

I want to give others this Gift. Let's all work together to give the gift of going second.

Friday, September 5, 2014

That day I cried...

It certainly doesn't happen very often.
It might be because I don't have a heart.
It might be because I don't have tear ducts.

Or it might be because I just don't want to feel things deep enough to allow myself to cry...That hurts. And I don't want to hurt. And I don't like to cry. And worse than crying is crying in front of people...and then having to rub my snotty nose on my shirt because I have nothing else...

I have been more emotional than normal (basically emotional period, because normal = not emotional) during my 3 pregnancies and shortly thereafter.

I have been more emotional than normal around that special time of the month that we women experience...although I truly think that men experience this too...

But when neither of these things are happening, and I start to feel emotional, I get really nervous...

When I get overwhelmed in a conversation with new friends and the realization that they care...that they are okay with me just for me...the good and the bad and the ugly...and I start to get emotional JUST BECAUSE...I get scared. What do I do with these emotions? What are they and why am I just realizing them at this ripe old age...

And then I get overwhelmed thinking I am so undeserving...of these friends and these blessings I've been experiencing...

And then I get overwhelmed thinking I'm still not sure what I want to do when I "grow up," or thinking I should already KNOW...what's wrong with me???

And then I get overwhelmed thinking I kind of am "grown up" and my kid is going to kindergarten...but I don't seem to be feeling the sadness or strong emotions that others around me seem to be feeling (or at least what they are expressing on social media...) and I wonder if I am a bad parent for not being sad and not crying at this next stage (because really I have been looking forward to this for weeks months)...

And with all this overwhelmedness (it's underlined in red, but I think it should be a word) came tears...I tried to hold them back. In front of my friends. In front of my husband. For myself.

But I think the floodgates opened up and the emotions got the best of me. Grateful. Nervous. Scared. Excited. Blessed. Jealous. Weak. And probably many more that I don't even know how to name yet...

That's just me. Not "emotional." But full of emotions that I don't know what to do with and don't often want to experience...

But I am grateful for a husband who noticed and cared enough to want to know more and to try to get me to talk them out and understand them. Don't want it to be a daily deal, but I do want to be open. To change. To growth. To new things. To love.

And sharing.

It's not always fun. It's not always easy. But I think it should be how we do life. Sharing it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Glass Cabinets

I wrote a post about appearances the other day, and by doing so, I could seem like I have it all figured out and I don't worry about it at all. But this is so far from the truth of my life. It's a daily's just that I am realizing it and wanting something different.

I was awake in bed early this morning pondering this stuff again. In a slightly different way this time. We moved yesterday. After just a year in a townhouse, we got the opportunity to rent a single family home and so we moved again, just down the street. This new house has something I haven't personally had in a house before.

Glass cabinets in the kitchen.

This scares me.

Whatever I put in there, there's no hiding it.

It's wide open for all to see.

Not just the people who are so close they come in and make themselves at home and know what's in all your cabinets regardless. Those are the people that are ok with your junk (whether it be in the trunk or in the cabinets or anywhere else) and it doesn't feel quite as scary because they love you anyway.

But then there is everyone else. I wrestled for hours as I unpacked the kitchen (always the first place I unpack in a new house) and wondered what I should put on those shelves that would be available for all to see. Whether I liked it or not. Whether it was neat and tidy or not. Whether I was ready for them to see it all or not.

OK, that may have gotten a little deeper there. But that's where my mind went. I am so worried about my new glass cabinets in the same way I am worried about letting myself be "glass" for others. I like to hide the junk. I like to keep it hidden inside and only let those in that have "earned" it.

But I'm sure (in a scary and uncertain way) that this just isn't how it's supposed to be. If I hide my junk then I don't give others the freedom to see mine and share theirs. God takes my junk and uses it for others to be able to see His Glory and His redemption and His goodness. But if I keep all of that hidden inside then I miss out on His grace and others miss out on seeing ALL of me. ALL of who HE created me to be.

So, there has to be more. And if my glass cabinets will help to be a daily reminder to let others see ALL of me, then so be it. Here I am! Come have a look at my new glass cabinets. Come and stay for a while so you can have a look inside of me too.