Moving from mountains…

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Dropped Max off at football practice this morning.  (beware — gushing Mom ahead…)

Can’t begin to tell you how proud of am of this kid.  He’s set his alarm every morning this summer.  I’m tired from just running him around his busy schedule!  Holding on to these next four years with both hands.  God, I love him.  And these past 14 years have flown, just FLOWN by.  I can’t imagine how absurdly insane these next four will speed past… I also can’t imagine not seeing his precious face every single day.  He shrugs it off, “Mom, it’s not like I can’t Skype you in college…”  same.thing.

And I don’t want to get lost in all this busy, his busy, our busy, just plain life busy.  But it kind of just happens, doesn’t it? Despite our best intentions to be present.  It’s like this inevitable suck of our attention — time’s busy nothings and everythings…  Just staring at him across from me in the car and wondering “how the hell did we get to here?” Till I’m jolted by his deeper than deep voice — “Mom, you’re doing it again…”  Right, there’s no crying on the way to football practice…

And I think of a family that is laying their boy to rest today in our little town.  Holding them so close in prayer.  As I can’t imagine their pain, and when I do — it swallows me whole.  Completely guts me.  NO momma should ever, just ever… and I can’t.  I can’t breathe, so I just pray some more.  And I count these moments cherished, blessed.  Because we always think we have this thing called time, don’t we?  And we lament the moments we have not yet had that will go by too fast like we already have them saved up in some future arbitrary bank…  so maybe the key is to enjoy the seconds.  And not assume we have the luxury of stored time at all — a future of “then” moments…  Prayers for this family for whom death cut time all too short.  Our hearts break for you.  ❤

And in all these thoughts and tears I grab my coffee and my Bible and find some solace in the quiet resting place of the morning.  Just the din of the neighborhood kids playing outside.  It’s been a summer.  And as someone who tries desperately to see the good or some sort of lesson or opportunity for growth in everything, we’ll just say for this family and so many of our beloved friends — we’ve all done lots of stretching…

So opening my Bible and sighing I just prayed upon everything, so selfishly, that God could PLEASE speak to my heart.  I didn’t want to be that “Encourage me!  Encourage me!!!!” needy daughter to my Lord — again — but there I was —  Dear Jesus, I need salve for this soul — and like NOW would be ever so nice.  And I was prepared to sit there and read all morning if that’s what it took…

And there it was, in a rather unlikely place — as I’m going through the Old Testament again — Deuteronomy … the second law…

“The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”  Deuteronomy 1:6

Yep, that’s it guys.  I broke.  Cried.  It all came out.

And of course, there is context with the Israelites walking through the desert and so on and so forth.  But this verse spoke to me about transition.  Or the need for it.  And perhaps, sometimes, our fear of that necessary change.  So we become stagnate.  We become stuck in familiar patterns,  whether they be thought ones or physical ones or both.  We get stuck on mountains.  High ones.  And sometimes it’s scary to come down from such high places.

You have stayed long enough on this mountain.  You’ve done your time. You’ve learned what you’ve needed to learn.  You’ve struggled, you’ve had it out, you’ve wrestled all.the.things.  Now move.  It’s time to take hold of my promises.  It’s time to TRUST that they are true.  It’s time to KNOW and BELIEVE that good things are waiting for you.  Go get them.  Go to the good things!  “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21c)

And not only do we ‘need not be afraid’, but we don’t have to have it all figured out.  The older I get, the more I realize this.  God is a God of order, not disorder — but he’s not expecting us to organize it all and make it all right.  People are complicated.  Life is a giant mess.  And so often times, we take that mess on when it doesn’t need to be ours and it’s not meant for us to carry — we more than likely have to deal with it, yes, but we can pray on it, make boundaries, and give it to God and he will fight for us (faith, yes?).  Walk down that mountain and throw a few things out of that backpack you’re carrying — heck, throw the backpack off the mountain altogether. He will fight for you.  And he’s got good things in store for us!

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.”  Deuteronomy 1:29,30

Throw the heaviness off the mountain as you go.  You are no longer tethered to it.  And that is really the gorgeousness of God’s grace, isn’t it? He lifts our burdens while he carries us. 

I can’t solve all of life’s problems.  I’d really, really LIKE too (being the problem solver, type A that I am 😉 ) — but I can’t.  Not mine, not my family’s, and not my friends.  I can’t make people understand me who don’t really want to — because they would rather tell me who I am, what I’m really thinking, and what I’m really feeling — instead of just listening.  And I don’t have to try to figure out people for whom reality isn’t consistent — the truth of events and time ebbs and flows for what works for them and feels right for a given situation.  It’s relative to their perception.  What is sometimes is and then sometimes they can decide that it isn’t.  It’s maddening.  And I can be hurt and frustrated and sit in that, or I can realize none of this has anything to do with me.  I can see the long history of the none of this having to do with me.  The insanity and crazy that has caused.  The constant forgiving and giving on my part.  The longing to be understood, to be validated.  And realizing that my worth has nothing to do with that mess.  With their mess.  And I can choose to not be a part of it.  That is their journey.  That is their walk. And I can forgive and love some more. Because so much has been given to me.  And I can chose to see love for exactly what it is, and to embrace what I am meant for.  And all the holiness, grace, and utter humility that comes from that existence and purpose — so much humility 🙂 .  And it certainly doesn’t entail constantly fighting for the definition or validity of mine. ❤

I can rest.  I can move freely.  I don’t have to be afraid of falling.  “You have stayed long enough at this mountain…”  It’s time for a different view.  With easier air to breathe.  It’s time to move on.  I don’t have to be afraid of shining his light…

Love you guys.

Praying for all of us.

Much peace as we hold onto promise.

Ang

“To let go is to lose your foothold temporarily.  Not to let go is to lose your foothold forever.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 

 

 

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Just keep praying…

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“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:22

Struggle.

I’m a firm believer in it’s what grows us.  Is it pleasant?  No.  It’s quite awful.  Growing is often painful stuff…

I’m one of those stick it out-ers.  Wade through the muck-ers.  “I’ve been through worse” kind of people.  My God is bigger.  There are billions of people going through far worse than you at this very moment, Ang.  I tell myself a lot of things.  And then I pray.  I’m always praying.  It’s like breathing for me.  It’s how I inhale.  It’s how I exhale.  It’s how I stay alive, how I move, how I rest, how I love.  But how do you pray when the being you’re struggling with is God?

Now I’ve been through some rough junk in my life (I am trying really hard to refrain from swearing — I’m told it offends people, and I know God doesn’t like it either.  It’s one of my many sins).  Seriously terrible things.  And in all of those dark hours and years upon years and heaps upon heaps of betrayals and darkness that seemed would never end, I never doubted my creator.  Not once.  Yes, there were times I wanted to die — honestly, yes.  I just wanted to be with him and be gone from here.  So.very.yes.  But I never doubted him and his love for me.  Not ever.  Not once.  I even got to a place where I could completely forgive.  And I could thank him.  Because for all the broken and raw those experiences made me — they also made me so very close to him — and they made me real, always real — and always thankful and aware of grace.  And my heart is always open — which is more painful than not — but I’m here to love and live for others, not myself.  Never myself.  Because I don’t want anyone, ever, to feel those things I did — to not have a single person speak up for them — and to later be manipulated or used by people who find them easy prey — be it men or women.  God uses our pain to make us brave.  To make us kind.  To make us love more than we ever thought possible.  He shatters us and breaks us so wide open, we become so empty of ourselves and so full of him.  He doesn’t cause all of that evil to happen to us.  We live in a sinful world.  But he covers us with grace.  He holds us, and he shows us a love like no other.  He is the love we never got, so that we can be the love that others need to know too.  So that we can point them to his amazing grace and love.  That’s a holy miracle, isn’t it?  We are holy miracles, loves, and never let anyone tell you different…

and dammit, (sorry)

I started doubting that…

because of world events

because of things happening in my extended family

because the devil is who he is

because I am who I am

but God is who he is, so we dug in together like we always do (I cleave, people – smile)…

God didn’t mind my questions.  He’s used to my mind being all over the place.  He created it after all.  He’s used to me scrounging the Bible for “all the answers”, walking the bike trail and praying and listening for him, always listening in the quiet for him.  We’re pretty close.  But my heart was broken.  And he knew this.  Who was this God of the Old Testament, the God of hate that kept spewing forth from so many Christians in the media attacking anything they feared and didn’t understand, my biological father’s God whose voice was filling up my nightmares once again justifying all the wrongs done to me, reliving all of those evils in the name of Jesus.  How does one pray?

Non stop.  Heart wide open.  Humbly.  Earnestly.  Relentlessly. Asking for answers, if you are willing, Lord.  And if not answers, peace.   That I may know and find peace again.  But that I may have some sense of resolution, God, please, if that is your will.  But I understand that faith isn’t knowing and understanding everything.  And if I must sit here and wait, please give peace and balm to my soul.  Crying.  Pleading.  Not giving up.  Because I know God can.  Because I know God is able.  Because I know God will. 

Waiting is hard for me.  I’ve had to do it so often.  It is a lesson I know well.  This waiting thing.  This be patient thing.  I’m called upon to do it again and again and again (you’d think I’d be AMAZING at it by now).  God always comes through.  Always.  Often in ways more miraculous than I ever imagined.  And in this case, it was no different…

I received a book in the mail a few days ago that began this peace journey, this ‘seeing the Bible in a whole new way’ journey — this ‘why oh why in the world have I missed the enormous fantastical miracle and life transforming forever and ever praise of that verse’ journey?  The book (like, you have to get this — please, this is so much more than a must read — spirit breathed…) is “Out Of Sorts — Making Peace with an Evolving Faith” by my Sarah — Sarah Bessey — forward by my other sister, Jen Hatmaker.  Please pick it up and let it bless you.  Men, pick it up and let it bless you.  Churches, pick it up and let it bless your entire congregation — especially pastors and ministers — of which we all are to our living faith in our savior.

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The verse that began it all for me was found in the disciple I relate to most (dare I say love the most?) in the Bible, my dear John (smile).  He wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1: 17 It washed over me.  The law was given through Moses — that Mosaic law of do’s and do nots and ‘you’ll never be worthy ofs’ — but grace — and even bolder than that, my friends — TRUTH (you read correctly, truth, glorious TRUTH) — came through Jesus Christ.  Grace and truth.  I’ll hold on to those with my Jesus.  Go ahead and read it again.  And spend a little time with John.  If you ever doubt that men can express love or feeling, spend a little time with John…

I’m not going to make this long as my boys need me.  This girl has spent so much time in her head and in her Bible.  They need their momma.  I read all of Galatians this morning.  Let’s just say that Paul is not my go to guy when it comes to the disciples — because I find him to be too much like me (smile).  He’s a hot head.  He’s reactionary. He gets frustrated and angry and isn’t often the most patient of writers.  But Galatians, it’s my freedom song.  And in it, Sarah reminded me of this amazing treasure that Paul writes — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28   You are ALL ONE in Christ.  Dear Lord, I hear you loud and clear.  And what a shattering turn your world upside down verse that had to be!!!  Thank you, Paul.  Thank you, Lord, and thank you Sarah for reminding me of the way that Jesus sees us, truly sees us.  Not as the world’s cultural dynamic of the time tries to define or sees us, not as the church often sees us, not as I may sometimes see myself.  But as Jesus sees us. We are all one.

Sarah goes into greater detail and speaks to other issues that weighed so heavily on my heart.  I encourage you to take a read — and take your Bible with you.  And remember that Jesus asks us to have faith like a child.  Sarah reminded me of this too.  And what do children do?  They ask a bazillion questions (smile).  Forever and ever.  And that’s okay.  It’s really and forever okay.  God uses them to grow us.  We need to be asking.  It’s a relationship.  It’s active.  It’s a back and forth conversation.  It’s not stagnant.  If you’re hearts pulling — ask.  Pray.

This is the realest relationship I have and know.  Because it’s the realtionship that teaches me how to be in all others.  It’s the relationship that teaches me how to love, how to minister, how to listen, how to forgive, how to ask to be forgiven, and how to give all that I am.  It’s a living and growing and changing thing.  It’s not ancient, lost in traditions long gone and dead with an Israel that was.  No,  it’s very much alive in a Christ that is, in a Holy Spirit that is alive and well in me — challenging me, asking me to be brave and to be more than I was yesterday.

One thing I can always be certain of is my Savior’s love for me.  And although I will never, ever fully know him or the depths of his love for me — I will wake up every single morning trying — attempting to understand and fully love the God-man that does fully understand this heart that beats solely for him.  And isn’t it absolutely wonderful to be fully known?  To be seen?  That is an incredible treasure to me.  I hold that so dear.

Peace to you, in the midst of ever walking with and loving a God who will never let us go — even when we struggle for understanding, he understands us. Love to you all.  I’ll leave you with some words from “Out Of Sorts”.  Take care, dear hearts… ❤

“I hope we all wrestle.  I hope we look deep into our hearts and sift through our theology, our methodology, our praxis, our ecclesiology, all of it.  I hope we get angry and we say true things.  I hope we push back against celebrity and consumerism; I hope we live into our birthright as prophetic outpost for the Kingdom.  I hope we get our toes stepped on and then forgive.  I hope we become open-hearted and open-armed.  I hope we are known as the ones who love.

I hope we change.  I hope we grow.  I hope we push against the darkness and let the light in and breathe into the Kingdom come.  I hope we become a refuge for the weary and the pilgrim, for the child and the aged, for the ones who have been strong too long.  And I hope we all live like we are loved.

I hope we all become a bit more inclined to listen, to pray, to wait.”

Out Of Sorts, Sarah Bessey (96,97)

And the truth will set you free…

make truth scream

I am approaching this subject so tenderly, with so much thought and with such careful prayer and meditation.  It has been weighing so heavily on my soul for over a decade.  God sometimes gives us heavy things, doesn’t He?  It is something that has deeply cut my family, our extended family, and even poured devastatingly into my marriage.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have carried this.  I have remained silent.  I have tried to ignore it and move on and around it in our lives — and yet it keeps returning.  These past few months I even confronted it.  And this weekend, after so much pain, and after so much hard — I am finally able to truly let it go.  I am now able to fully understand why this monster has been such a force of destruction and abuse in our lives.

I haven’t been able to sleep lately.  Being a light sleeper, this equates to no sleep as opposed to a few good hours of sleep.  And the terrible nightmares of my father have returned again.  I haven’t had those in years.  I’ve been frustrated, sad, and feeling so completely frazzled with just about everything.  The state of my heart has been a mess.  This most certainly means that things in my life are just plain out of whack.

When God lays things upon your heart and mind and doesn’t let them go, it is usually for a reason.  When something is gnawing on your soul and wearing you down, year after year after year, He isn’t whispering anymore.  He’s shaking you.  You know it.  I knew it.  This all just was not working.  It wasn’t right.  It was never right.  And I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore and let it pass for “personality”.  The concern of “Will other people understand?”, “How will I be judged?” or “I just wish they knew what was really going on!” was completely gone.  Right is certainly not often easy.  But the Lord will not let you rest in wrong.

do what is right

Lies.  Dishonesty.  Gossip.  These things are abhorrently disdainful to God.  They rip lives apart.  They rip families apart.  And the world is a place that is full of lies.  In fact, honesty, truth, authenticity are SO very rare.  So rare, in fact, that we often make excuses for lies every.single.day.  And we make excuses for them in our behavior and other people’s behavior as well.  We say things like, “That’s just the way she is.”  Or, “I’m just so used to her telling lies and saying crazy, off the wall things that I just let it roll off of me and I don’t think about it.”  Little white lies.  Big lies.  And everything in between.  It’s become acceptable behavior.  And it is destructive.

Now, we all are going to slip up in this area occasionally.  It happens.  We’re human and we sin.  No one is perfect.  Owning up to your mistakes, admitting to your sins and errors, that’s one thing.  But not taking accountability for the heinous untruths that have come out of your mouth is quite another.  Lies on top of lies.  Lies begetting more lies.  It never, ever ends.  And the fact of the matter is, if a person really believed the horrific things she was saying about the people she was talking about — really and truly felt there was truth to these fabricated stories or disgusting stretches and slants of fact (which are still lies) — she would talk to THAT person him or herself — instead of taking the hours it takes to call her friends or that person’s other family members to talk about it to them instead.  If there is true care, true concern about the gravity of the things that are being lied about — she would have conversations with the person the salacious stories are being postured about.  That is not done — at first — or at all.  Because the effect desired is not one of resolution or empathy for that person, but drama and attention seeking for herself.

I had thought about letting this go just one more time.  What’s one more time, right? — In the long laundry list of times this woman’s mouth has spread deceit.  But what weighs so incredibly heavy on my heart time and time again is what am I teaching my children?  This behavior is not okay.  By any stretch of the imagination.  No one else would EVER be permitted to treat us or any of our friends or family in this manner.  It does not matter what label of ‘family’ is attached to this person’s name.  Just because you are “so and so” does not make it acceptable for you to act in this matter towards me, or towards anyone in this family.  It would be one thing if you could talk to this person and make some kind of headway, some kind of reasonable place from which to move forward — but the lies only continue.  She will deny anything you say she has said or done.  Vehemently.  And then call everyone else she knows and lie some more — about the very conversation you just had — in which you told her the very thing you needed from her to have any kind of relationship what so ever was honesty.

Lying — what’s the big deal anyway?

choose your words

I spent yesterday in the Word, praying, and meditating to come to some sense of what I was supposed to do with this situation that keeps coming up for my family.  What I really want to do is take my children and get as far away from all of this as I possibly can.  No one seems to stand up to this woman.  I feel very alone in this.  She is not held accountable.  She can not be reasoned with because she takes no accountability (or she will make a general, sweeping apology but when pressed for WHY she is apologizing and what it is exactly that she is sorry for — can only say that she was asked to apologize by so and so because that person thought it would make things better — but can not come up with any concrete reasons as to why she is sorry), when pressed with specific circumstances denies everything or changes her story, and just cries, or yells, or sarcastically laughs (which she will deny and call ‘audible noises’), blames it on everyone else, and then plays the tortured victim.  Breath is wasted on a narcissist.  I am not wasting any more stress or valuable minutes of my life on this ridiculous hamster wheel.  I refuse to play or be a part of this game.  I am done.

All the while, I have so ardently prayed for her and prayed for God to show me what to do as I feel so trapped and isolated in this.  But as a mother, as a Christian, as a feeling human being — I take none of this lightly.  I can forgive over and over again — even if someone is continuing the behavior and never admits to or asks to be forgiven — but it does NOT mean I have to invite the evil or the crazy into my front door or walk through hers.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to be a participant in the insanity.

Even though I was completely exhausted and just spent today, I felt this urgency to get my family to church.  We all had to go, regardless.  It was the strongest pull I have ever felt.  No “I’m too tired” excuses or “We have too much to do today.”  We.could.not.miss.

It was all God.  In fact, it was the biggest God thing.

I finally gained complete understanding as to why I felt such conviction in this.  The words of the sermon were salve, they were my plenty, they filled my soul that had felt so beaten up and depleted for so many years by this woman.  In my eyes, she was always getting away with so much — over and over and over again — and I just wished that people could see and hear her for who she really was.  And then here she was painting others out to be so terrible, when it was her heart and her tongue that were false and full of darkness.  And then, a few years ago, by the grace of God I was over all of that.  Over being misunderstood.  Over the justice here on earth part.  I didn’t care anymore.  I held on to the fact that God knew me, he saw absolutely everything and she really wasn’t getting away with any of it.

But still, this dealing with it all here on earth part was hard.   It was so hard.  And I felt trapped in this.  Like I didn’t have a leg to stand on because she was this person to our family.  I had made boundaries, but it still just felt so wrong inside.  I truly felt like I was wrestling a demon.  Like God was saying, — ‘This isn’t enough.  Your children are getting really mixed messages about right and wrong, about their faith, about what it means to be a father, a husband, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, about love, about who I am.’  Until today.  It became so very clear.

The sermon today was all about, are you ready for this??? — truth and honesty.  And God said, “Angie, here’s your answer.”

One verse.  One little verse.  James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no, or you will be condemned.”  Such a powerful verse!  Turns out, God does not take honestly lightly!  In fact, WHAT WE SAY MATTERS.  It matters intensely.  It matters SO much that we will have to give an account for the words that we utter here on this earth.  God is a God of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  Apostle John, when speaking of the children of the devil in chapter 8 verse 44 says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me!”.  Our honesty, our truth, marks our very walk with God.  It is a testament to our Christianity.  God’s words are truth, and as followers of God, we need to be the same with our word.  I want my boys to see and to know this — to fully understand this with all of their being.  I don’t want them to be confused by this when they constantly hear, “Well, that’s just how she is — that’s just how I grew up and what I’m used to from her.”  Not acceptable.  On absolutely any level.

The words we utter also reflect the state of our hearts.  One of the main reasons I practice yoga and meditate and fervently read the word of God and pray incessantly is because I want to fill my heart up with love, with light, with the fruits of the spirit and the wisdom of the One who created me.  If my heart is filled with those things, when I am stressed, angry, or bitter — my mind, my tongue, my first thoughts will have what I have stored up in that space to fall back on.  I must constantly fill up my supply.  It’s been a life long journey for me to come to this understanding, to cultivate this, to find peace despite circumstance, and to realize that I MUST be vigilant about this.  Our hearts and souls need this food just as much as our bodies do — like our lungs need air.  And it is absolutely amazing how much we think and feel comes from our lips.  Devoting your life to authenticity and to the Lord completely changes your insides.  Transversely, if what comes from your lips is mostly lies, you might want to take a look at your heart — and furthermore — your walk with God as a believer.  It is a relationship.  And like all relationships, one that takes cultivation and time — talking and listening.  Luke 6:45, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

from her heart

Truth and honesty are of upmost importance to God.  In fact, James says, “Above all.”  As in, ‘if you should forget all the other things I have told you, this is the one thing you should remember.”  Above.all.  James states in Chapter One, verse 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  His.religion.is.worthless.  Wow.  This is huge.  This is heavy.  This is everything.  Our words, our honesty, what comes out of our mouths — it so very matters.  My religion is not worthless to me.  My God is not worthless to me.  I do not want that message of worthlessness to be conveyed to my children — that maybe it’s okay to repeatedly lie and hurt people if you are this person.  ‘Because that’s just what she does.  And she’ll never change.  And we can’t really talk to her about it because she doesn’t remember any of it, she doesn’t hold herself accountable, so we all just have to live with it.  She’s a gossip.  She always has been.  She stretches the truth.  She makes up crazy stories.  That’s just her.  It’s been her for as long as I can remember.’  Or worse yet, to completely ignore it and not even recognize the problem.  I do not want them to get that message from me.  If other people want to make that choice for themselves and their families, that is theirs to make.  This is mine.  And God is holding me accountable.  Not man.  It is in front of Him I will stand in final judgment.  So the choice is clear for this girl.

the way we talk

And with that, I could finally breathe.  The tears just came, and this time they were because I finally felt peace in my heart when it came to this mess of evil that has plagued our family for so long.  That what ever came my way in the form of obstacles or hardship when it came to this situation, I knew what I had to do.  And I praised God, and I’m praising him still.  Thank you, Jesus!  Like I tell my boys during our nightly devotionals, God may not burn bushes, part seas, pour mannah from heaven, or raise people from the dead anymore — but he still talks to us.  In all of our every days, he still talks to us.  And I thanked Pastor Chad after his sermon for this truly ‘God thing’ for our family.  It was one of the most necessary pieces to starting to work on my marriage and for true peace for this family.

God has us.  He so has us.  And it doesn’t matter if no one else understands, if they say the most awful things in the world about you to anyone and everyone who will listen — he knows us and has us.  And he holds us.  And he will protect us and keep us from evil.  Even if that evil comes with a smile and looks like the sweetest sunshine to the rest of the world.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:31-33

He is your shield.  Keep listening.  Keep leaning in.  Keep walking with your Rock.  He will arm you with strength, and he will keep working on your heart and growing your peace.  He will give you discernment in all the webs of dishonesty that may try to tangle you.  He will be your light.  Keep your mind and heart on the things above, and hold fast.  Hold fast.  In his name and in his love — which is the widest and biggest and foreverest… ❤

life with God

 

 

 

Minions, toilets, teeth, and water… (and how commonality is found in the strangest of places)

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“(Love) doesn’t fly off the handle.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG

Patience, peace, calm…  It’s something I work hard at.  Because I have to.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  Anxiety does.  Panic does.  Let’s create the worst case scenario and amplify it times 1,273 does.  But peace, calm, patience?  That’s work.  But it’s something I HAVE to have in my home — like healthy food, essential oils, and comfy blankets and pillows.  It’s a necessity.  I want our home to be a safe haven, an easy place to breathe, a refuge in this crazy, chaos of a world.  No matter what storms rage around us, we have each other, we have a bigger God, and we can always have peace.  No.matter.what.  I want may kids to KNOW and FEEL this when they walk through our door.  And I want them to carry it with them when they leave — as an extension of the love and all the things they are taught in these walls.  And this peace, often, begins with me.  I mean, it starts with the Spirit ever moving in my heart — but it begins with me — in a house full of emotional, fly off the handle, often high energy and intense characters — it’s momma who brings the calm.  And some days, it’s a tough row to hoe, friends.  Just saying.  It’s heavy.

But I’m pretty good at carrying heavy things.  God made this girl scrappy like that.  I didn’t used to be.  I used to be the President of the ‘freak out, run around in circles, hyperventilate and throw your hands in the air’ club (which I still do occasionally) — but oddly, that never got me anywhere.  Except unhealthy, depressed, and wore unnecessary grooves in our flooring and in my heart.  So I breathe in and out — really big.  And I have mantras.  Turns out I need them.  And I just drop everything and talk to God.  Turns out he’s always listening.  And then I breathe some more.  And I know, that even if it’s not — it’s going to be okay.  And God is here, there, and already in tomorrow.  And we’ll do this together.  ALL of it.  Even the really crappy stuff.  Cause we’ve been there.  We’ve done that.  And it’s all good.  Even when it’s not.  And I say this to my house full of boys.  All.the.time.  Disaster isn’t disaster.  It’s doesn’t have to be our state of being.  It’s not who we are.  It doesn’t define us.  It’s a moment.  However freaking long it is, it’s a moment in time.  And it’s always, forever and always, how we deal with it — how we treat each other in those moments — that defines who we are, who we believe the other person to be, and what we believe this big ole world and our purpose in it is.  Big moments, little moments and all the ones in-between.  It’s how we react to all of those…

And when it rains, it often pours.  Like things kind of always seem to happen all at once, right?  My incredible husband has been laying in the way awesome flooring in our basement (or what ever the correct terminology is for that–it looks freaking fantastic).  Waterproof vinyl that looks like hardwood.  I love it.  It’s been lots of sweat and a back breaking process as he’s done it all by himself.  Absolutely amazing.  I can stand the bright gold and black of the Hawkeye man cave a bit more now.  Seriously.  Incredible.  And no monsoon was taking that away.  Nope.  We had another sump pump installed a couple weeks ago for this purpose (we have improper grading in the new houses behind us and get the brunt of that “it’s not my problem” from the city and builders and anyone else we’ve approached).  With the help of our awesome bucket carrying neighbors, my almost 13 year old who held a hose and hand held sump pump from the well to our bathtub in the basement, and lots of flipping muscle for hours — we made it.  Hallelujah! You feel that one the next morning.  We’re thinking of capitalizing on this as a workout routine of some sort.  Serious abs are worked.  Water.is.so.heavy.  Staying calm in this chaos again.  Not easy.  What IS easy is lashing out on each other — because you are so angry, freaked out, scared, just plain pissed the hell off, and that has to go somewhere, right??? Like, why couldn’t we have had a garage sale and gotten rid of half the crap down here so we wouldn’t have to be dumping totes of this junk to FILL with water and running crap upstairs?  That suddenly becomes someone’s fault.  Because for a second it might feel better to lash out and place some blame somewhere, anywhere — because no one else seems to have to take responsibility for the shit that happens every flipping time it rains a little harder than normal, right?  I mean, some people just sit and eat popcorn and watch TV and ENJOY these blessed storms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Until you realize that being angry solves nothing.  Pointing fingers and laying blame and getting all pissed off does zero in the realm of helping or solving any kind of problem.  In fact, in only dissolves and wastes precious energy that could be spent doing something productive or scrambling up positive energy and sending that out — mustering up a little peace.

I can absorb it.  The tirade — because I so get it.  I empathize with where it comes from.  I see me all over it.  And I understand that the words coming at me have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the really jacked up situation.  And, in my mind, there’s just no reason to jack it up anymore.  It is what it is.  It will be what it will be no matter what we say or what we do.  So why not do what ever we can to make it better?  Breathe deep, speak peace, and do everything we can to solve the problem.  It’s not being passive, by any means.  I think sometimes it takes way more energy and focus to be calm when everyone else is bouncing red, but once you start making it part of your normal — it just comes.  It truly does.  And people mistake it for giving up — when you don’t freak out and scream and yell and get all crazy.  I’m still moving, I’m still doing — I just refuse to take part in expending my energy in the futile zone of chaos.  Take deep breaths, and amazingly, thoughts become clearer — even above the loud.  It takes practice.  Lots of practice.  And you have to hold on to your space in this.  But then it just becomes part of you — and if I can teach my boys that — I’ll be one happy momma.  You have to deal with life’s storms, but you always have a choice in how you deal with them.

And bless little G’s heart — my little guy who finds the positive in everything — he thought we were having a party.  He was just so excited to see everyone who showed up to help and so happy to have people over.  His job was to hold the door open and then close it again as people came up and down the stairs with buckets to dump outside.  He was elated.  He can’t wait to have another “water party”.  He also got to stay up really late.  It was just awesome.  All.of.it.  He’s always my little ray of sunshine.  Couldn’t love that kid more.  And Max.  He worked so hard.  He kept reminding us that we were all okay.  And that was the important thing.  Because it was people who were important, not things.  He said this at least a million times.  And then he kept thanking us for all of our hard work.  Couldn’t love that kid anymore either.  But somehow, every day, I do…

The next day, Marty was off to work — not sure how he did that — I’m sure he was more than tired and very sore.  He proctors the bar exam for a week every summer.  And that morning, our toilet decided to go completely nuts on us.  I walked into water, literally, spraying from the lid of the toilet — and little G frantically yanking on my arm “I didn’t do it!  I didn’t do it!!!!!” as I walked into water all over the bathroom floor.  At this point, I was really effing tired of water.  Seriously.  I threw towels all over the floor and lifted the back compartment lid off the toilet — which was really genius on my part — as water proceeded to shoot strait into my face.  So many kinds of awesome.  What.the.hell.  So water is spraying, I’m using my finger to cover the little hole it’s coming from, fishing around the bottom of the tank as it’s filling to find something that may have fallen, and it won’t flush.  Sweet.  Connecting pieces here and there — just to make it stop spraying — and then just decided to shut the water off.  That’s the take away here.  The water can always be shut off.  I have no idea what happened.  All I know is that G didn’t do it.  I was breathing, didn’t want my husband to have to deal with this crap when he got home, and the problem solver in me decided to Google this and fix it so he wouldn’t have to.  I mean, how hard can it be?  None of the inner workings of anyone else’s toilet looked quite like ours on any of the Google videos, so I improvised and got a little creative.  Turns out those aren’t the most coveted qualities when it comes to plumbing.  The hubs had to purchase an entire new system for the inside of our commode.  I may have innovatively challenged something.  Just turn the water off if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Lesson learned, all in Zen.  Sometimes I can try too hard to be a little too helpful.  I see y’all nodding your heads…  (smile) Not.my.best.trait.

minion maddness july 2015 008
This is what it looks like after I try to fix a toilet. The entire inside had to be replaced. Thanks, husband. I missed our bathroom. You are amazing. I will steer clear of Google and plumbing issues from now on.

That night proved to hold one more little surprise for us.  G wanted some help brushing his teeth.  He had a big kancer sore on the gum line of the inside of his lip and he didn’t want to hurt it.  Just for back story purposes, this little guy has never lost a tooth — at all of seven and going into second grade — he feels like he is the ONLY boy his age on earth who has never lost a tooth.  While brushing, I noticed that he had a tooth shooting up behind — like FAR behind — another baby tooth.  Ug!  It looked so odd and awful, but I didn’t want to scare him — so I just said — “Hmmmmmmmmmmm, you have a dentist appointment to get your teeth cleaned next week, but Mommy might make a call to Dr. Jenny in the morning so we can check on this tooth here.”  Unfortunately, he knew ALL about tooth pulling from his good friend, Connor, who had to get lots of teeth pulled and had told G every bloody detail — so tears instantly flowed and it was a long night of calming anxiety.  Neither one of us slept — again.  Dental Professionals got us in at 8 a.m. the next day and Griff was such a brave and courageous boy.  Big needles, two long sticks with said needles, and the root on that thing was HUGE!  He didn’t cry and was the best and most calm patient.  I couldn’t believe how amazing he did!  He took deep breaths and wiggled his toes.  Dr. Jenny, as always, was fantastic, and let him pick out two prizes for being so incredible.  This momma took G to Target for a few extra prizes as well.  He picked a puzzle, a craft, and a science toy.  My G (smile).  That’s what brave looks like!  Noodles, his lovey Husky, came with us too for extra comfort.  My boys amaze me every.single.day.  On top of all of this, Griffyn was SO excited he had finally “lost” a tooth!!!!!!!!!!!  One heck of a first loss!  Dr. Jenny assured him that the ones he lost after this would be ever so much easier…  Love her.  And she’s a dentist (smile).

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Griffyn left a note for the tooth fairy because he wanted to keep his tooth since it was his first. She was very obliging and left him a note, along with some fairy dust, and a $5.00 bill. That was one well earned first loss of a tooth!

And we needed a stress break from all of this water and tooth fun.  Summer is just speeding on by.  So we took the boys to see the Minions movie.  I love those little guys!  They are just authentic little Twinkies of odd quirky fun.  They simply want to please and love their little guts out.  We even ate junk food — egads!  We stopped at A&W first in Indianola — a must — the BEST chicken fingers and fries — according to my kids — and of course, root beer floats.  It was popcorn, Mike and Ike’s, and I even got to partake in some gluten free Milk Duds.  Good times.  I could not think of the last time I had been to a movie.  I guarantee it was Disney or Pixar, but it’s always a good time with the boys.  Minions did not disappoint.  Loved the Beetles and Monkees references!

And somehow, all of these week’s events seemed to roll together for me into one big “lesson” of sorts — the little yellow guys, toilets, basement, and tooth shenanigans.  Life is a big ball of chaos and crap sometimes — often times all at once — but it’s how we handle it — it’s the faith we act on (not just profess to have) — it’s how we are there for each other — that makes it what it is.  Rain, storms, sun, floods (toilette water in your face), things not happening in the succession that they are supposed to (darn shark teeth) — it’s going to happen.  And it’s all beautiful if we let.it.be.  And if it’s not particularly beautiful — we can at least find some kind or type of beauty in it.  We can find something redeemable, gem worthy, sustainable, of value — in everything.  A lesson (most often taught to me by my children), something to be thankful for, reminders of blessings, or something within yourself you forgot about — God reminding you who he created you to be (G found his braveness!  Max found his strength!).  There is value in absolutely everything.  Every.little.thing.  And maybe that’s why I like those little minions so much.  They see life through eyes (or eye) of wonder.  Everyone is a buddy.  And so I may or may not have gotten a little teary in that movie — I so did not cry.  G kept watching, however (smile)– said in whisper “Momma, are you crying?”.

The miracle of life lies in our perception of it.  We’re all given situations, things, people — it’s how we choose to see them — react, expend our energy — learn our lessons — or see that there is anything to be learned or gifts to be given to us in the first place.  There is wonder everywhere.  Even in the muck and mire.  Sometimes you just have to settle the rage, the storm in yourself still enough to see it, hear it, feel it and let it change you and grow you.  We all have such potential and capability to be such amazing vessels of light. Sometimes we get a little scared of all that shiny.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Embrace that.  It’s all good and it’s all you. You can.  You.can.do.and.be.so.much!

It is utterly amazing to me what simply taking a split second to take one deep, calm breath can do in a situation that seems utterly lost and helpless — when anxiety seems to be spiraling me out of control.  Then I stop — take another, and another — understanding the one that is in me is greater than this world — and the ultimate battle has already been won, dear God, it’s really over.  God’s got ALL of this.  My job, my mission — if I choose this day to except it — it to be my best me.  The most incredibly, fearfully and wonderfully made me he created me to be.  And to take that on with authenticity and an open heart and mind and spirit each and every single day?  Well that, that is one miraculous adventure and one hell of a ride —

that just might involve buckets, basements, toilets, unforeseen trips to the dentist, and Minions (smile).

Love your guts… (remember to stop every now and then and take a listen to yours) ❤

Namaste and so much peace…

It takes guts…

gentle and kind

So, I have a confession to make…

I don’t get these rules of adulthood.  I don’t understand social situations.  Like, at all.  Aside from my close friends — I avoid them like I do gluten.  How does one maneuver appropriately through conversation, make the right faces when someone says something cruel and apprehensive like it’s as benign as ‘how was your day?’, get through the judginess, the gossip, the weight of all of the everythings?  I suffocate.  I have panic attacks.  I say things that piss my husband off.

I believe in honesty — at all times.  I think authenticity is how we should run our hearts, our souls, our minds, our voices — everything that makes us who we are — and not being true to our everythings feels 100 and then some % wrong to me — it gives me anxiety, it makes me want to throw up, it makes me want to hide and run and just not be present.  I’m not saying this with piety.  I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (I really love tea too) and that this is one of my many “things” that I have wrong with me.  It’s a straight up issue.  It’s a control thing.  I can’t temper it.  My emotions come out all over the place.  It annoys the living crap out of me.  It’s not fun.  I really, really hate it.  Because the anecdote to this lovely little issue is often just shutting the door and holing up — because I don’t have a fake face.  I’m no actress.  I really suck at it.  Immensely.  Just ask my high school drama teacher.  She’s a truthful woman as well.  Yoga helps.  Breathing, meds, meditation, praying, and the good Lord Jesus.  God is so amazing.  He created this pretty mess, after all (and I praise him for it).  Because for all of its not so great amenities, it is who I am — and he made me this way for a purpose.

So, I pretty much don’t get the whole entire social scene past elementary school–where, it seems, manipulation and games often start.  I never really learned how to play all of those games — well, proficiently, or even averagely.  And none of it makes me comfortable.  Ever.  So, in turn, I tend to make other people uncomfortable.  Because I say what I’m thinking.  All of the time.  And if I’m confused about something that seems to be said in meanness or is a lie, I’ll call it.   And that’s exhausting.  For everyone.  Because I seem to get confused a lot.

But I’m slowly learning (I’m also one of those slow social learner types — or maybe just a completely different type of leaner altogether) to be okay with the all of this.  And that — egads — there actually are other people out there that are similar to me — because no one is exactly alike.  There are tribes of us — tribes of us wonderfully strange and different people.  It’s just being brave enough to fight through the bullshit of all the real crazy out there — the normal crazy is the real crazy, friends (smile) — to find the lovely.  There’s just so much sensory over load for this little lady  — there’s a lot of noise — it gets so very loud.

I wear my heart.  I speak my heart.  I teach my children to be their very best brave.  This means we say I love you–when ever we feel it.  And we fall in love fast and we fall in love hard.  Love is everything.  There is nothing embarrassing about it to me.  What’s embarrassing is that we repress it so damn much.  This also means we aren’t afraid to help others and give to others.  Even if it may hurt us–even if it may cost us something. We’re not afraid of hurting or generosity.  We’re not here to be collectors of things or leave this world without scratches or bruises.  Hearts and souls were made to share and grow and be torn and tugged at.  They grow and learn and see and feel all the more this way.  This means the underdog is our friend.  This means different is embraced and even championed.  We all see the world differently.  Each and every one of us.  Let’s celebrate that.  Let’s maybe even attempt to see that every once in awhile.  This also means the bully is stood up to — and then we turn around and ask the bully if he or she needs a friend.  This means it’s okay to be sad, mad, angry, frustrated, imperfect, and all the other not so wonderful — but it is NEVER okay to be unkind.  This means we do love — because love is a doing thing.  This means we forgive.  This means we show grace.  But this also means that we know who we are.  We are divine.  This also means we know who everyone else is.  They are divine.  This means that we understand that the world can be so very ugly — we don’t hide the ugly — we have to see the ugly and acknowledge it to be able to do any kind of good — but we also see the amazing.  We see the incredible.  We see and praise the miracles.  Because we are all of those things too.  And from everyone and everything we can always learn something.  Always.  The good things, the awful things — they are all learning things — because they are real things that make up who we are.  So, keep it real, keep shining light, keep it humble and keep it kind and keep it love.  And we may just be okay, even when we aren’t.

“What makes night within us may leave stars.” Victor Hugo

And I’ll tell you what this doesn’t mean.  It doesn’t mean that as a momma I have to “toughen” my boys up — who display qualities like sensitivity and empathy and compassion — because of their gender.  That my role as a parent is to make them harsher because they have a penis.  What this world needs more of is love, not apathy.  And it could stand to use a little more of it from the male realm.  And my role as a mother and as a parent is to guide and nurture in my children the seeds of who they ARE — not to squelch that for what some societal standard says they should be.  I’ll pass.  I see a strength that far surpasses any “toughness” this world could ever give or assign to them.  They have the courage to stand up for their friends when no one else will — to give, to praise, to say “are you okay, are you sad, I am here for you no matter what, you are worth something, you are awesome” — when others their age can not even form those thoughts or those words.  They are considerate, smart, honest, hard working, thoughtful, caring, and want to make this world a better place for others.  Toughen up.  Really?  To be the kind of people they are takes more courage of heart and mind and spirit than raising rocks or fists or hurling back insults EVER will.  Normal is so scary to this momma — so very, very scary.  Shake the world, boys — dare to gently shake the world…

“There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.” Han Suyin

to be yourself

And imperfection?  That’s awesome too.  We need to totally be okay with that.  And our kids need to see it in us and know it’s okay too.  I yell, I lose my temper, I don’t handle things perfectly — and my kids know this.  Trust me, they’re fully aware.  Smile.  I say I’m sorry.  I say I need a break, that I’m a little overwhelmed.  We talk about when they feel those things too.  We talk about what we can do when we feel that way — better choices, better responses.  They get frustrated with friends, with each other, with us — we breathe, we say we’re sorry — we talk and we admit we didn’t handle it the best and talk about what we will do better next time.  Because there WILL be a next time.  It may look different next time, but mistakes will happen again.  But that’s not, necessarily, horrendous…

We admit that we make mistakes and that life doesn’t stop, but we can learn from every mistake we make (and that’s the key — acknowledging it and learning) — and we can live better, do better, be better because of what we learned.  We grow.  We move on.

We’re here to love each other, catch each other, help each other, mess up and be the best we can be in the midst of all of that.  And in the midst of all of that, our kids are going to get different messages from the world.  They are going to hear that they’re not good enough, that they need to be this or they need to be that or they aren’t enough this or they aren’t enough that — when all they need to be is who they are.  And if we, as the grown ups  — can just own who WE are — well now, won’t that make things just a tad easier.  If we can all just authentically be — then that — well that seems like it would be an amazing mirror for our children.  They see us and hear us.  All the time.

My kids aren’t perfect.  But they are pretty darn incredible.  I think all kids are.  I think we need them more than they need us most of the time.  Really and truly.  We can teach them fundamental things like reading and math and science and critical thinking and all those basic building blocks for education that should supplement the time they spend in school — but they continually remind us about those intrinsic heart and soul things.   They revive wonder, they can restore our faith in humanity.  It’s not our position to ‘toughen’ that out of them — perhaps it’s our chance to look at life with a new lens — it just takes a little humility (which is the second greatest missing asset after love) and a little time (which is the third).

G had some playtime with one of his very best school friends today.  They are the best of friends because they are “twins”, he tells me (he thinks they look identical).  They have the same two favorite colors, they love to read, they have asthma and headaches, they love to play with their imagination, and they love to be kind.  They are going to go to college and live together when they grow up.  They have this all figured out at the age of seven.  Smile.  It’s simple.  They love eachother for who they are.  They are silly.  They are sweet.  They like marshmallows.  Life is good.  It really doesn’t have to get so twisted up and complicated.

Life is hard.  I get this.  Bad things happen.  In fact, very, very bad things can happen.  Some of us have lived through our own version of various hells for a good portion of our lives.  But to me, this is all the MORE reason to be our very best selves — our most loving and authentic selves — and to leave the bs for all the perfect people who have all of their shit togher.  Which isn’t anybody.

So, there’s just all of us.  In this holy mess together.  Trusting we’re doing our best, saying I’m sorry when we screw up, trying again, and loving and believing in one another.  Over simplified, maybe.  But that’s one way to live.  And this girl likes simple.  Because then we can get to the real stuff.  Of REALLY getting to know and hold on to each other.  All of our wonderful guts and glory.  Because when you deal with manipulation and gossip and pettiness, you don’t have to get into any of that holiness now, do you?  Because that’s the scary, tough and hard stuff now, isn’t it?  You get to gloss over all of that in superfluous drama when you’re not being authentic.  I’d rather relish in the intricate delight of the genuine soul.  Because humanity is really quite amazing.

And when we channel the real, we can move mountains.  We can help instead of hinder.  We can feed souls and change lives — and with that, we can change the world — or at least our little corner of it.  And that’s what this girl is breathing for.  Not for the next bit of “and then what did she say?”.  And my boys?  They want every bit of this light shining business too.  And this light shining business ? — it takes GUTS, sisters and brothers.  Kindess, love, light — it’s all brave.  All of it.  To stand there and be you — all raw and just you — saying hey, you feel free to be you too — and that’s beautiful.  And I love you.  No barriers.  No walls.

Freaking guts.

And these guts, along with the guts of my boys, my sisters, invite you to do the same.  Our tribe doesn’t have any initiation fees or require tattoos.  However, we freaking love tattoos.  Smile.

We’re all rare.  Feel free to discover and realize your rareness.  You just might amaze yourself.  You should do that.  Amaze yourself.  Just getting out of bed some days does it for me. Smile.

Namaste, peace, and love.

You are so many incredible things.

What’s your favorite color?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  Desmond Tutu

(to Karin, Charles, and Clara — who are some of the most gorgeous people on the face of this planet — we love you — to pieces ❤ ❤ )

On triggers and matter seeds…

life shrinks or expands

So I’ve been procrastinating.  Doing every thing I possibly can to escape doing THIS — this writing thing.  Because I’m throwing a temper tantrum, a fit, I’m just kind of mad.  Because thoughts never come to me when it’s convenient.  They always come to me in the shower when I’m getting ready for work, and I jot down a few notes in my writing journal.  They come to me in the late, abysmally brutal hours of the evening — when most people’s minds have long since been asleep — and I jot a few notes in my writing journal.  They come to me when my house is loud, and I have a billion things to do — which is never conducive to anything — not even jotting a few notes down in my writing journal.  Never at acceptable hours of thought intervention.  Never, ever, never (insert foot stomping and moping about).  I mean, really.  What IS it like to be able to write when thoughts are lucid and they are just coming naturally and making sense.  Because, to this girl, that doesn’t come often.  Maybe I should just be thankful I have thoughts at all.  Ha!

So, I’m looking at these notes in my journal of REALLY important things that I just REALLY wanted to say — that were pressing on my heart, squeezing and squishing it to ouchiness and say-ing-ness — and it’s all Greek — it’s all pick any language you want.  Because the most awesome thing I always tell myself that I know isn’t true — but I just FEEL these things so strongly so MAYBE THIS TIME IT WILL BE is — I’ll remember that…

I think up some AMAZING blog posts.  They just never get written…  Do I get credit for that somewhere?  Heh, heh…

But for some of us, this writing thing isn’t a choice and we must–but for you, thank the Lord, the reading of it is…

 

So these past few weeks…

Wow…

Total brain craziness… (my husband is free to laugh and think all the things he may think here–I’ll even allow a few lines  of blank space in honor of all of those free-floating thoughts he must be having — just for him…)

 

 

So, it was career day at school.  And who ever would have thunk that this would have been a trigger for this chicka.  Not this girl.  But it was.  We had an all staff activity in which we were instructed to fill out a sheet of paper that would tell the kids where we graduated from college, what we wanted to be when we grew up when we were little, and then give a little inspirational saying of some kind directed toward their furtherment of education and aspiring dreams.  We could also include graduation pics of us from college and from when we were small-ish.  We then posted these outside our classrooms.  I am making myself continue.  This just stinks…

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Kindergarten
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Simpson College Graduation 1998 – The to be husband and I

 

I loved school.  All of it.  From preschool to college, and I did it all with my all of all — stressing over every minute detail of everything.  Because I loved it.  Because knowledge was something concrete to me.  It was something I could prove I had.  It was a way I could be good.  A way I could show I was good.  It was something I was really good at — and I was going to go big places.  I was getting out of all this awfulness — with brains in my head and the most incessant work ethic– it was happening.  Despite MEQ and Calculus, it was happening.  I took all the AP classes.  School was always more important than anything else to me.  I say that like I had anything else.  Because I had to get out.  I had to go somewhere.  I had everything to prove to everyone who wasn’t looking or paying attention.  To no one who cared.  Because no one really did.  But this was for me.  This was for my siblings.  This was for us.  Because, by God, I was going to save them too.  I was getting the biggest house and coming back for them.  All.of.them.  And if you would have told me that graduating from Simpson in the top ten percent of my class with honors would have landed me a preschool para position somewhere in my distant future, I probably would have laughed — and probably been really discouraged.  God had other plans for this girl that had her entire life so meticulously planned.  He knew where I belonged.  He had my dream job all worked out for me.  Because nothing worked out as I had planned.  Things, for all intents and purposes, all fell apart.  They all fell apart before they fit perfectly back together again.  I couldn’t fix my family.  I couldn’t fix me.  I couldn’t fix a damn thing.  I wouldn’t even realize I was a “fixer” until my thirties.  And none of it would matter.  And ALL of it would matter.  And yet, it would — miraculously — all work out.  And I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me that too.

I have one picture from graduating from college.  One.  My parents were very late.  I’m not sure they even took any pictures.  A professor friend took it of Marty and I.  After being frustrated at what she perceived to be my parent’s complete apathy towards my accomplishments, she told them they should be very proud.  They didn’t say those words to me that day.  It wasn’t enough.  None of it was ever enough.  They didn’t come to honors convocation.  When I called to invite them, I didn’t know what I was being honored for.  We weren’t told.  We were simply asked to come.  Since I couldn’t tell my father specifically what the honor was for, he didn’t believe me and didn’t think it was worth their time.  I was given two honors for my graduating class.  I was stunned.  Part of me also wondered if there was a mix up of some kind.  And they didn’t care to be there.  Twenty minutes away.  I called to let them know I had gotten honors in English and the Humanities for my class.  I was called a liar.  I was called a whore — I mean, someone as dumb as me MUST have slept with half of the professors to get honors in anything, right (despite the fact that the professors may have been women — so I must have been bisexual as well)?  All this crazy was so normal.  So, it was okay.  This was the pattern.  I changed out of my dress immediately following the ceremony and ran for two and half hours.  Because that’s what girls whose parents don’t come to honors convocation and get called liars and whores by their fathers do after they win awards.  They run their brains off.  And I would run my brain off until my body could physically run no more — who knew that would be at the age of 38.

Graduation was supposed to be a prove it to them time.  It obviously wasn’t.  I was still what they said I always had been — despite the four years I had managed and struggled to prove them wrong.  Because, as my father said, it was just an arbitrary measure of the intelligence of man anyway.  Still stupid.  Would always BE stupid.  You would think I would have learned at this point to just accept myself for who I really was and move on (it seems so simple to people on the outside of things) — but I had many more “maybe this time” moments with my parents.  It took me such a long time to realize that I just had to walk the hell away.  It took me a long time to realize that all of this crazy was abuse.  It took me a long time to realize that all the things, all the big things and all the little things — all of the all of the things — that had happened to me from birth to forever — were NOT my fault, were NOT because I was stupid, were NOT because of anything I had done at all or anything that I was lacking…  It’s taken a very long time for all of the things…  There will always be things.   We’re all still working on things.  And that’s okay…

One piece of golden rod paper.  One all staff assignment.  Tremendous trigger.  One awful night.  Just sitting there.  Looking at that graduation picture.  Realizing what that one photo was to me.  IS to me.  Because sometimes, even to this very day — what was still seems so very unreal.

But the flipping fantastic hallelujah glory of it all is this.  It’s not all gloom and doom and sadness.  I think the amazing thing about love and faith and life is this — more often than not, you do not find your dreams, but your dreams find you.  And life just kind of works out just as it should — imperfectly perfect — beautiful in its time.  And that’s the insane miracle of it all.  Breathe, let go, and know someone bigger than you has got this, sister.  And all that crap you went through?  It’ll be used for something.  Something beautiful, and something good.  And you don’t have to have that all figured out or know that either.  He’ll make that known — and he’ll make that THE MOST beautiful — in its time.  I promise.

All the crushing — it’s not to break you — it’s to make you the most incredible and precious and shiny person.  And you’re going to shine for him, and for so many others.  And after walking through all that fire — you’re really not going to care — maybe at first — maybe A LOT at first — but as you grow and as you push through all that concrete — you’re not going to give a damn what any shine snuffer is going to think.  You’re going to shine regardless.  Because there is something SO freaking amazing about knowing exactly who you are and who made you and what your purpose is.  There is something so innately strong in that.  You will be brave.  You won’t always FEEL brave — but you will be brave regardless.  Know this.

I found an old picture of this little blond girl from kindergarten.  I still feel like that scared little have to be perfect and living in fear girl some days.  She’s deep down inside there from time to time.  That really yucky feeling comes with triggers like golden rod employee wide assignments.  I looked at that picture and was sad for her.  I was so sad for the carefree little girl she was never able to be.  But I was also able to smile.  Because the little girl in that picture had NO IDEA what AMAZING and HUGE things God had in store for her.  Tears dried and assignment over.  Please do NOT ask me to do it again.  At least for another year.

Speaking of AMAZING and HUGE…

Anyone who knows this crazy girl knows how much I love my G.  Not my six-year-old G who I love with all my everything, my OTHER G (smile).  Glennon Doyle Melton.  And I got to hear her speak (oh my goodness she is THE MOST INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and meet her and like HUG HER FOR REAL this past week.  Yes, my everything is still reeling!  Still trying to process how this all actually happened.  I mean, I KNOW how it did, I just can’t even really believe it did…

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Shaking. Like, I might not be able to breathe, but can you sign my book of yours that I’ve read only like eleven times?

 

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I told her I loved her. Actually I said, “would it be weird to tell you that I love you.” cause I am the biggest DORK like that — oh goodness!!!

 

And I have to thank my friend, Kerry.  Who is THE MOST amazing.  Seriously.  Incredible warrior momma.  Love you.  This momma turned the pain of losing her baby girl into the miracle of saving babies all over the nation by starting the organization “Count The Kicks” with other grieving mommies.  They are all the.most.amazing.  It was a day that changed my life.  I was in a room of struggle, encouragement, love, laughter, and light that was blown all the more open with fabulous hope.  Holy hell, I did not want to leave!  I wanted to live in that room forever!

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She is so beautiful. She is so brave. She is so everything.

 

And I was able to share this day with a forever friend.  I don’t have many of those.  As much as I have been moved around this little cosmos of a world, I don’t have a plethora of life long sisters.  And this sister, well, she means the world to me.  So, it was just a freaking day full of special.  I didn’t want it to end.  Ever.  So I keep reliving it in my heart.  HUGE treasure.  Still a bit surreal.  Bucket completely overflowing.  So.much.joy.

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Kari, Glennon, and I. Heart overflowing.

 

And before this amazing G day, friend day, revel in imperfection and how we can serve and love each other day– I spent a great deal of time meditating (cause I was going to meet G — dear God, I was going to meet G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  I meditate to lose the heaviness of my bones.  To lose the heaviness of what it feels like to be me.  It’s like praying, but you’re not asking God for anything.  You’re just super, duper affirming that he’s there.  It’s like being face to face with him — no skin, no bones.  Just that you that is really you.  Your soul — saying, hey God, it’s me, Ang.  And I’m taking this moment, this day — for what ever it has to offer, what ever it has to teach me — the good, the bad, the ALL that it is for EXACTLY what it is — and I PRAISE you for it — I truly THANK YOU for ALL of it — and I accept it JUST AS IT IS — and I accept me just as I am — and I will find the good of both — just as they are — for all that they are.  And I breathe.  Through my soul.  Because bones and skin are such heavy things.  They are such heavy things because they have to be — they are holding back souls that know they do not belong caged.  Meditation lets me out.  It allows me to be closer to God.  It’s one big long prayer where you’re not sitting next to the receiver–you’re holding hands.  And I meditate also on those I love, for those I love, and on all that I am thankful.  And that is one precious way to start the day, my friends, one precious way… ❤

The thing about life is, no matter what we try to tell our children–  you really do not have to have it all figured out.  As my Glennon says, just do the next right thing.  One step at a time, we do the next right thing — and then we’ll get there.  Where ever that there is — we’ll get there — to that perfectly thought out place that God has destined for us.  The trick is to do our best enjoying that bumpy journey.  For taking it for what it is.  For taking US for who WE are.  And not to be scared to try because we’ve had a rough beginning — because our entry to this life hasn’t been so perfect.  Here’s my take.  Sometimes we know HOW to do things because we have been so aggressively shown the best way NOT to.  Read me?  Find the good, sister.  Find the good.  You always can.  Even if it’s a hard lesson.  You always can.

And hey — you’ve got this.  Even when you don’t.  In fact, it’s all working out better when it’s falling apart.  Because then you don’t have expectations.  And you’re not relying solely on yourself and your own strength.  You’re just hoping to make it to tomorrow.  And hope is a mighty thing, isn’t it?  And we should all just be really thankful and blessed by our tomorrows.  Really.  For that sun that comes up.  For the smiles of the freaking amazing people who love our guts no.matter.what — or hell, even because of what.

You can do it.  Expect good things.  Even when bad things come.  Because they will.  They most certainly will.  But you can handle it all.  Always.  Even when you can’t.  Because you are you.  And you know who you are.  And you know who he created you to be.  And even if you don’t know the ALL of that yet (because who does — we are such infinite creatures) — you’re good with that mystery.  Mystery is good too.  In fact, mystery is pretty fabulous.  It is its own miracle.

And the coolest thing ever is that we have this seed, a seed of the divine, ever-growing and living inside of us.  And nothing can snuff that out.  That power is real.  And too often we are afraid of that power.  Don’t be afraid of your light.  Shine on.  Please be brave and shine on.  You’ve got so much magic.  It’s real.  Smile.  The fact that your heart is beating, that you are breathing — purpose, friend.  What are you going to do with that? You matter.  Every circumstance and situation that you go through in this life — it all matters.  It all waters that seed.

they didn't know we were seeds

Those triggers.  Even those triggers can water that seed and be used for good.  Pain.  Sunshine.  It all waters the seed.

Love you all to pieces. ❤

For all your pieces.

Shine on.

Just keep shining.

One day at a time.

Namaste.

breaking your heart

The biggest lie…

courage is

Head space.  Sometimes I just need to clear it out.  Organize it.  Wade through the crazy, the bullshit, the noise.  It gets so full of noise.  Because I don’t have time to deal with things as they come.  So it all just gets crammed in there.  And it gets so full.  And so messy.  And so loud.  And here I am.  With all this stuff.

And it often leaks out of my eyes.  Or comes out in meditation.  And no matter what the stress is — happy or sad, frustration or anger — it all comes out as tears.  And that’s when I know I HAVE to deal.  It’s not a choice.  When I don’t even know what I’m feeling.  It’s all just there.  Like the most solid of rocks.  Sitting there.  Not moving.  Just weighing a billion pounds of holy hell.  And it is holy.  Because it’s me.  And there’s something to that.

And I think that it’s sad that we live in a world where we don’t have the time — let me rephrase that — where TAKING the time — to deal with, to connect with, to reason with each other — and all of our things — isn’t a priority.  Because we always have to rush places.  And do things.  Lots and lots of things.  And we forget about each other.  The real each other.  And we lose the important things.  And we become impatient.  And we become rude.  And we become beings that are just busy doing things.  Because being busy is what people do.  That’s life.  And we push through.  And we don’t stop.  And we don’t listen.  Because we have to get to here, and we have to get to there — so you’ll have to tell me that later.  But later, there’s never any time.

I’m not any good with this busy game.  I suck at this pattern.  I shut down.  I want to know my children.  I want to HEAR and FEEL their everything.  I want them to be able to take the time they need to be who they need to be, to feel what they need to feel — and to inherit the explanations they should be able to grasp and claim as human beings — growing, learning, viable people exploring the world around them.  Who has time for ANY of that?  We don’t have time for questions.  We don’t have time for feelings.  We don’t have time for growing (outside the box and bubble growing).  And in the midst of all of this, we sure as hell don’t have time for different.

Different takes time.

Validating each other’s differences takes time.

Acknowledging we are different takes time.

Reinforcing that these differences make us incredible, powerful, resourceful, people and creating an environment in which eyes can see that there are a million different ways to absorb a sunset — well, that takes time.  I love that my children pull me outside to gaze at sunsets.  They see so much more than colors.  Miracle eyes.

Vision takes time.

Effort takes time.

It’s so much easier and faster to push on through.

In marriage, in parenting, in education, in friendship, in all of our relationships and areas of life.  There is NO grey area in this.

It can be overwhelming…

But here’s the biggest lie.  That you have no power.  Because here’s where it is SO exciting and amazing to this girl.  WE ARE SO POWERFUL.  You may not be able to change the ENTIRE world — friend, who asked you to? — but, you CAN change YOUR world.  It ALWAYS starts with you.  Any change begins with you.  To any problem I face, it begins with me.

And here’s the second part of that biggest lie.  That this power is somehow dependent upon your relative worldly worth.  And that merit is dictated by a jury of your peers, by the world, by your career, your monetary net worth, your status, what society deems as beautiful, and so on and so forth.  It just isn’t’ so.  No one can give it to you, and no one can ever take it away.  No matter how hard they may try.  It’s deep inside your beating heart.  It is your very soul.  You have everything you need.  That you are living and breathing and HERE on this earth, that is enough.  YOU are enough.  THAT, my friend, is PURPOSE enough.  You are here.  That is REASON enough — and in all of that purpose and reason that no one can give or take from you – that is all yours solely because you are you — there is power.  The power to make tremendous change.

All of our actions, our thoughts, our words, our deeds — they matter.  Immensely.  Hugely.  Think of those people who have made such an incredible impact on your life — that one voice — that one touch — that one smile — that one encouraging word — that ONE thing.  Every day.  We can choose to be the good.  We can choose to shine a light.  We can choose to be the encouraging voice, the person that notices the weary, the down trodden, the miserable.  In every single thing we do we are showing up and showing who we are.  You won’t always hear thank you.  I promise.  It often times doesn’t come.  You do it because it’s the best and right thing to do.  You do it because this is the energy that makes the world a better place.  You do it because you are you and it starts here.  You do it because it has to start somewhere.  You do it because you know better so you do better.  You do it because this is why we are here.  Not for the busy.  Not for the rushing.  Not for all the errands, practices, and meetings in the world.  We are here for humanity.  We are here to serve each other.

I see you.  I acknowledge you.  I understand you.  How many times is that lacking, is that so deeply missing from people’s lives — even from the lives of our little ones?  We’re often too busy to even smile at one another anymore.  It’s not a personality thing, it’s a respect thing.  Take a second and honor someone else’s presence, someone else’s gift of life and breath and place in this world.  Acknowledge that.  Own that.  Understand that.  I firmly believe peace begins with a smile.  It’s respectfully acknowledging the light in someone else.  You don’t walk by and just ignore that.  That’s a living and breathing miracle that just walked past you.  Light up your face, sister.

We all have bad days.  We all get grumpy.  No one is perfect.  This isn’t a call for perfection or butterflies and rainbows and glittery serenades.  It’s a call to courage.  Because kindness and love take all kinds of freaking courage.  It’s so stinking lazy and easy to be grumpy and callous to one another.  To be dismissive and rude and to come up with every excuse in the book to be so.  Kind takes brave.  It takes the bravest of brave.  To put yourself out there, smile and say — I care about you.  You are an incredible person.  I see you.  You are enough.  You mean something.  Because in all of that kindness and love is a vulnerability, a humility that says — I’m with you.  I’m not better than, I’m not less than — I’m with you.  And sometimes — sometimes, that’s really freaking terrifying…

But these aren’t all feeling things.  Thank God.  They are doing things.  And us warrior girls know this.  Brave, love, kind — we do them.  Whether we wake up feeling them or not, we DO them.  Some days better than others.  But we try anyway.  And you don’t have to be loud.  Nope.  Just you.  And you don’t have to be perfect.  Nope.  Just you.  And I fall.  All the time.  And I know I will.  And that doesn’t scare me one bit.  I know it’s going to happen.  Today, tomorrow, ten seconds from now.  It will.  And guess what?  I’ll be fine.  Even when I’m not.  I’ll survive.  And that’s the beauty and miracle of all of it.  You march on.  Being kind, being brave, and loving.  Because you are powerful.  And you can.  You can be a light in darkness.  You can be change.  Every damn day of your life.  And that is truly something to pause the busy for.

Because, in case you haven’t noticed, busy goes on.  All by itself it’ll go on.  But you can make a choice to stop.  You can make a choice to pause.  And you can let someone know they matter.  You can tell someone you love them so much it makes you cry happy tears just thinking of them.  You can take twenty minutes to have tea with your kid and catch up on their life and find out that he doesn’t ever really want to go to prom when he grows up, but if he HAS to, he will ask a girl named Mallie because she will play tag with him and won’t make him dance.  That just happened.  We are all such treasures.  We just don’t often get the time to remind each other of that.  Really.  Our hearts, our souls, our minds and our thoughts and our capacity to give and love and just be.  We don’t have time.  Take a little.  It makes the biggest difference.  Tell a kid you love them.  Not because of what they do or say, but just because they are WHO they are.  And feel free to expound upon who that who is.  Kids don’t get to hear this enough.  Really. Every day — we get little chances to be lights.  We get these encounters with people — these precious blessings of time.  In the midst of all the rushing, we really can make a difference.  That, loves, is powerful.

And, as my G say, “We will get up, and do our best, and try again tomorrow.”  My six year old is my Dalai Lama.

Goodnight, loves.  You are SO very powerful!  You can and you DO make a difference.  You are so incredibly AMAZING.  Know this and

keep shining. ❤

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

~Anne Frank