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.  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.  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)

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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  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  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.!

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 ❤ ❤ )

To beginnings…

love does thingsSo, here we are.  Another year.

Let’s do this.

I mean, let’s really DO this!

No tiara, fancy dress, or Champaign.  I nursed a migraine, did laundry, yoga, and meditated the new year in.  It was perfect and quiet.  It was exactly what I needed after this crazy year.

I love New Years.  I mean, I REALLY love it!  New beginnings.  Fresh starts.  A time to make promises, not resolutions, but promises — to myself, my family, my friends — and to God.  I break resolutions, but I don’t break promises.

I turn 40 this year.  40.  Dear God, 40.  That just seems, honestly, kind of old.  Really, it does.  And I’m not one of those women that really cares all that much about stuff like that.  I don’t spend that much time on me — maybe I should — but I don’t — because it just hasn’t mattered to me.  I have more pressing things, like my sanity, that have taken precedence over my physical extremities (or maybe it’s that I’ve realized they’re unfixable or maybe it’s that I don’t know how? ha!) — and loving the living guts out of the people I care about — and helping and fixing those people and this big old mess of a world– whether they want it or not — sorry, loves, and thanks for loving me anyway.  Except, of course, for the days when I can’t — and I won’t — and the covers are too heavy to even lift off of the bed and people are just too loud and too obtrusive to even THINK about venturing to that all too awful place called — you know — outside.  Except for those days.  Then I’ll just stick to my tea and my books and snuggles with my boys.  I am yin and I am yang.  There is no middle.  My constants are my God, my children, friends, family and my preschool littles.  My heart always beats and seems to function proficiently for them.  Smile.  And fixing myself?  Oh sweet sister, that was SO 2014…

This year was pretty tough, but it was fast learning — that kick in your face learning that sticks with you.  The “oh, I GET it now” stuff that focuses you and helps you breathe new air — the right kind.  Like, the kind you had before might have been slightly toxic, but not this stuff, THIS stuff — deep breaths, good breaths, in and out breaths — this is the stuff life is MADE of.  You get it now — not ALL of it — because we’re not supposed too — our minds aren’t made for perfect just yet — but I get it enough for peace.  And not just the ‘be calm and carry on’, zen of the moment stalk — no, the in your guts stuff — that even when things aren’t the grandest — I can breathe and know, really KNOW — and not just know, but TRUST, it really is going to be okay — even when it’s not.  And that, that has taken this girl an entire life time to learn.

They say God keeps putting people and events (and again people — smile) in your life to teach you things, give you wisdom you need to learn until you understand proficiently.  It’s a principle in Buddhism too.  In this regard, I have to be thankful that God keeps recycling these kind of people in my life (again, smile) and continue to ask ‘what can I learn’, and in some cases, ‘how far should I run?’.  Life isn’t just about surviving and ‘taking it’ — it’s also about living — and living beautifully and graciously– and God so wants us to have joy.  He really does.  And as Christians, as I profess to be one, we should be the most JOYFUL souls around — if we truly believe what we say we believe — no matter what our circumstances entail, joy should exude in our hearts. “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Because we have a mighty God, we have a mighty spirit — a piece of GOD — living in the temple of our souls — giving us the strength we need to fight any battle.  We are divine sons and daughters of Christ.  No weapon formed against us shall prosper and we have a God who is fighting our battles for us and — a big AND — we know the outcome of this battle.  We know our ending.  He’s got this.  “Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.” Hebrews 11:1 NLT 

I have never been so convicted to live what I believe.  I have never been so unafraid.  I have never been so moved beyond pleasing others.  I don’t have a thing to prove.  In all my years of trying to prove my worth and value to others, I’ve gained absolutely nothing.  It’s a spinning wheel that gets you nowhere but tired, overwhelmed, and depleted fast.  This question now repeats over and over and over again in my mind when I begin to step on that wheel of self doubt and unworthiness — “do I really believe what I profess to believe?” .  Then live it, Ang, LIVE IT!!! — out loud — all the way through — amen, and amen again.

God made us to be such courageous and powerful and INCREDIBLE beings!  In his likeness, fearfully and wonderfully made.  I had this verse tattooed on my body for a reason.  I’m not dishonoring him anymore by doubting this.  I believe what I say I believe.  Humility and self loathing are not synonymous.   It took me a long time to learn this.  But I finally got it.  We are holy temples of the divine.  And it’s okay to shine your light, sister — shine on, shine bright, and rock it — sparkles and all!  Glitter it up!  Shine, shine, and shine.  And be so very proud of that!  I got it, I SO finally got it.

And not everyone’s shine is the same — he made us all so uniquely and gorgeously different — some glitter is pink, some purple, some blue, some gold — but we’ve all got it — and it’s all so incredibly sparkly, isn’t it?  Shake it — all over the damn place!!!  And let’s ENCOURAGE one another to DO so!  Let’s be champions for one another!  Champions of the God light and love in us all!  So many of us are so afraid of our own good, our own MAGIC!  Yes, we truly are.  We’re afraid of our own incredible awesomeness more than we are of our failure at times.  We have it in us — all of us — but what if it’s just too bright and beautiful for this world to handle — and people make fun of us, or hate us, or laugh at us, or call us strange?  And this girl has so ceased to care–because I have been ALL of those places — those places of made fun of and laughed at and hated and strange — and I’m still strange — and that strange?  Well, I LOVE that strange, and God loves that strange and that’s good enough for me.  And all of those other places may not have felt so good, but the prison of not being who you were CREATED to BE is ever so much darker — and those people that do all that whispering — or are out right loud and in your face– will ALWAYS be talking about somebody.  Always.  And nothing, nothing you do will ever make them completely happy (and you aren’t responsible for making them happy) — remember those people who keep entering your life to teach you something that I was talking about? — yup — that’s one of the many things this girl learned.  Sparkle and glitter it up.  Shine through the madness.  Be beautiful you.  This world needs more of it, sweetheart.  SO much more of it!  That sparkle, that glitter, that shining light is TRUTH — and you are worth ALL of it.  “…shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-” Philippians 2:16

And don’t deny your struggle.  Ug, I spent so many years hiding this and being ashamed of this instead of embracing it.  This past year I was finally able to hold it in my hands, all of its ugliness and pain, accept it all for what it was, for what it made me, let it go — in as much as one can — and be at peace with it.  For so many voices will tell you that because of your struggle you are not whole, you will never be whole, and you will never understand ‘normal’.  And now I can completely laugh at all of that ignorant nonsense — because that is exactly what it is.  Who is whole, what is normal, and I’m so proud of my cracks.  As one of my sisters reminds me often, those cracks let more of the light shine through.  I’ve embraced my adversity and struggle, not shrank from it.  I won’t say it’s made me a better person — but it’s made me “me”.  And that is enough.  I am enough.  I am more than enough.

And the thing about struggle and adversity is this — it gives you so many sisters and brothers — it gives you a feeling of commonality with people at times, a feeling of closeness, that you often don’t understand till much later on.  It allows you to sit down and break bread at the table, instead of standing in judgment at the pulpit.  It challenges you without completely breaking you, crushing you until you feel broken, but never completely — because in all that crushing you find out who God really is.  Not who everyone tells you he is.  You find out who YOU really are — because you don’t allow tragedy to define you — you rise above — and even in complete blackness — you are able to catch glimpses of the good in humanity — and that there’s a spirit inside this body — and no one — make that NO ONE — can tell you different.  Because your body has been challenged, sister, and if that’s all you were, well, honey — you’d have long been dust. But something in you hung on, clung on, and just plain drug you through the madness.  Something that had nothing, and yet everything, to do with you.  Something that thought you were worth saving.  Something that was bigger than all the chaos.  Something that was brighter and lighter than your worst darkness.  Something that you didn’t understand, but was always there, and you could quietly fathom in the depths of your heart.  Something that made you feel safe, even when you never really were.  Something was holding you — only for the simple fact that you didn’t drown.  All this awfulness made for the really good things to shine their brightest — those intangible, unexplainable, “abnormal” things.  Every day I thank God I’m not normal.  Normal eyes miss out on so much.  There are so many other ways of seeing.  Struggle opens many doors in our souls.  God fills our broken with miracles.

So, adversity didn’t make me weaker or somehow ‘less informed’ regarding the ways of normalcy.  If anything, it made me far less susceptible to bullshit.  I can say that now.  It took me years to get here (I won’t go into my age again, smile) — because there are people that took advantage of this learning process and the girl climbing out of the mire.  And I can’t beat myself up over that.  I can’t wish I had been a stronger person when those lies were being whispered in my ear.  I was doing the best I could in the then of what was.  And God has honored that.  And I praise him for that.  And every day I start from now and what is.  And every day I say thank you…

And God is everything.  He is.  And I don’t care in what way you come to hear or know him or how or in what way his voice speaks to you.  I only pray and hope that at some point in your life you do.  And being the stubborn, hard headed person that I am, I don’t know that I ever would have without struggle.  So, maybe that’s what it took for me.  To be completely dependent on him, to be completely faithful, to be completely his — maybe I needed to be completely broken.  I don’t know.  I just trust his journey for me.  Every day, I wake up and trust.  That is one thing that has never changed.

2015 is going to rock.  It’s going to be awesome.  It’s the first year I can say “bring it” and not feel like the sky will fall.  And even if it does?  Who cares?  We got this life thing — God and I.  It’s all good — even when it’s not.  Because those streets in heaven are paved in gold.  And this little fam of mine?  Yeah, eternity is ours.  I’m blessed with the most amazing brothers and sisters down here on this spinning ball of green and blue and I get to spend forever with these peeps too.  Life is good.  And I get to spend the rest of it loving and living and serving and learning what that’s all about — with a thankful and grateful heart.  Always with a thankful heart.  And if it doesn’t go right, it’s still right.  And if it hurts, I’ll learn some more.  And I’ll likely love some of the wrong people still, and say and do a billion more stupid things — because that’s something I also rock at — but forgiveness, man, that’s awesome stuff too, isn’t it?  And, like my mother says — “the fact that you recognize your weaknesses is always a good thing.”  See?  Even the bad stuff, it’s good stuff (smile).

Enjoy the journey, appreciate it, value it, and value and love the mess that we all are.  Because life IS a mess.  A big one.  And that’s okay too.  We don’t have to fix it all.  But we do need to care enough to try our best to make it a little better.  And love.  Love, it does AMAZING things.  It really is the biggest miracle in this whole life thing we do here.  And we get to be a part of it all.  This big ole messy miracle.  We get to.  I get that now too.

Sparkle, glitter, shine, and love the crap out of each other while doing it.  It’s really all that simple and really all that hard too. 

Peace and Namaste, you beautiful, messy people. ❤

And happy, happy 2015.

“I am an expression of the divine.”

Alice Walker