Search

Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

honest

Bondage begins when you come into agreement with something that is not true, like when I was a sophomore in college and believed the lie I was fat. I was indeed not fat but was athletic and healthy and allowed a comment made about my muscular body to partner with a lie that I already believed about myself. That is what lies do, they grab ahold of other lies like straws…hoping to catch one that may stick. I allowed YOU. ARE. FAT. to stick and fell into an eating disorder for thirteen years and when I say that out loud, it is sobering. Thirteen years is a very long time. The lie that I was fat fed a slew of other lies that were already in me and there I was, incarcerated; face in a toilet for years. Binge. Purge. Binge. Purge. Begin again.

The original lie was that I was not enough. August as her original self needed to be different or was too different and needed to right because she was wrong. There was an emptiness inside that needed filled and throughout my whole life, I have used things or people to fill it. Ask me if that’s worked?

When you know you are in bondage to lies you are believing and you want to be free, you take one lie at a time and you tackle it. Where did this come from? Why is it here? What is the truth? If you are lucky, you find a lie that has other lies attached and when you get one, you get some and it’s a win. But some lies are rooted deep and sometimes out of habit, you find yourself sitting back at their feet because they are known and comfortable and you become their slave. That’s been the case for me…known and comfortable because change takes work and hard labor is tiring.

During the last few months, I have been laboring relentlessly and after a solid week of napping every day, I realized WHY I am so tired…I am in bondage. I have fallen prey to a lie and like a captive, am chained. For the last few weeks, I have strained and pulled trying to break free (on my own, in my own strength) and today when I woke up wondering why I’ve been so tired, Jesus said, “Dispel the lie to find your freedom.”

So what lies have I been believing?

**People cannot be trusted. They will say one thing to your face and another thing behind your back. I am tired of games. I am an adult who is tired of high-school drama. 

**People cannot be relied upon. I have turned my “need” of people off because I have been disappointed. They are unreliable, even when I try to keep expectations to a minimum. Even when I think I have realistic standards, inevitably I will have to stand on my own.

**Talk is cheap. Words are worth a dime a dozen. What sounds good is sometimes a bunch a fluff because when there’s not follow through, words sting. 

I am sure I could go on a scavenger hunt and find some more, but these are the three lies that are right now up in my face. Yes, it is obvious I have been hurt. Where does this leave me? All three of these “lies” have been real. These past few months have been hard and these “lies” are legitimate. I wish I could sit back and say they are in my head but they are more in my reality than I’d like. I think the first step in breaking free is knowing what lie(s) I’ve been believing so I can begin a conversation with the Father…which I haven’t done in a while. LIKE A REAL CONVERSATION ABOUT MY PAIN. I’ve been an excellent complainer, an outstanding crier…but listener? Communicator? Not so much.

Word by word. Action by action. Brick by brick. I have erected a wall and today during church, I knew it. Afterwards I walked up to some of our leaders and said, “I need you guys to pray. I am out of sorts.” Shut down, holed up, turned off…whatever the word, I just know I am at a place I don’t want to be and I know the best place to be is to be with people who love and care, even though the lie is present saying that they WON’T.

So if you are in a place you don’t like, a place you know you don’t want to be…my only encouragement to you right now is to invite people into that place with you. Don’t go it alone. Despite what you may think or feel about people based off a few expereinces, goodness wins. Love does. On the other side of the person that you invite into your space is the Lord Himself and when you shut them out, you shut Him out. I thought it wouldn’t work that way…but it does.

If I can’t be honest with where I am at, the lies win.

The lies cannot win.

 

 

the one thing you don’t have time for

I love time with my kids, especially time that leads to moments where I’m as equally impacted by their influence as they may be mine. Case in point…

I was having lunch today with my oldest who is twenty-two and wise. Not pretty wise but plain, ole wise; she wreaks in wisdom most days. When she was growing up, she was more of an old soul though she did in fact set our field on fire when she was little with a set of conficasted matches. She was always mature. A level-headed, solid thinker who was rooted deep in what she was going to do and what she wasn’t so now as a young adult, I thoroughly enjoy having conversations with her because she makes me think and solidifies in me what I believe while opening me up to a new perspective. Most days, if I am honest, she is the influencer and I am the influencee.

I hope it remains that way.

Over our meal, she shared how she had an amazing opportunity come her way HOWEVER, that amazing opportunities timing was not quite right. WHAT TO DO? It sounded like she already knew the answer even though she was still mulling it around and it reminded me how sometimes even I turn the easiest decisions into the most grueling…WHY?

Besides thinking I can DO ALL THINGS, I also hate to DISAPPOINT. The two combined is not an attractive package. Oh, I am sure on the outside, it looks like the MOST ATTRACTIVE PACKAGE EVER; a get-er-done doer who will 9x’s out of 10 NEVER TELL YOU NO and who secretly is trying to figure out why in the hell she said yes and how she is going to make it all work.

Paul Coelho says it best, “Don’t say “maybe” if you want to say “no.”

Regret (wishing you hadn’t) and guilt (because you didn’t) serve no purpose but to WASTE YOUR TIME and ENERGY and as I sat across from my daughter as she talked her situation through, I understood…having the opportunity to choose will continue till the day I day die. At forty-three years old, I’m not exempt from feeling like I should say YES. That I should pile one more thing on my plate because it’s a really good opportunity or I’d really like to or maybe I just SHOULD be a helper becuase helpers are THE people!

A wise woman once told me, “I won’t SHOULD on you if you don’t SHOULD on me.” Now that makes sense, right? Should’s should not be allowed in our vocabulary except when it comes down to the fact that maybe we SHOULD feed our kids. THAT is about the only SHOULD exception to the rule. Because food = life.

So when presented with the question, what will your response be? I bet your knower knows the answer sooner than you think. If you need a lot of time to think or “pray” it through, perhaps you’re just trying to talk yourself into something that’s really not for YOU at the moment. At the end of the day, with only so many hours in it, do you really want your head and heart filled with worry, stress, regret and guilt? There’s too much living to do to make time for such waste and I don’t think we were created to house and entertin that sort of torment. So make your YES be YES and your NO be NO and tarry on.

You don’t have time for anything else.

You don’t have time to BE anyone else.

the things i learned when life got crazy

It’s May and May in my world is crazy. As in C-R-A-Z-Y. Like “I’m sorry for things I said in May,” crazy. I keep waking up each day thinking, “If I could just get through this day, this week, this month, then I’ll be ok.” What a terrible way to live, wishing what lay ahead was already done…but hey, sometimes you just get through and hope that along the way, you practiced presence.

So instead of lamenting over all they sordid details of what’s been going on in my real-life May Mayhem, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned is most important because really, that’s where the money is at.

When life gets crazy, here’s how to stay rooted:

  1. Guard your heart. First and foremost. THIS. Everything you need is right here in these three little words. Your perspective, how you filter your thoughts, your emotions and your actions all flow from this little nugget of wisdom so listen up. Your heart is like living water. If you do not guard it, you will dam it all up as in DAMN IT ALL UP and it goes downhill from there. So build bridges not walls and be careful when you are going through crazy times to stay open, unoffended and compassionate (toward yourself and others **and often it’s the circumstances with others that make you want to erect 10 foot walls but keep it mind, it’s not about others. It is about Y-O-U**). Be responsible for YOUR heart staying open and let others be responsible for theirs…plain and not-so-simple.
  2. Communicate. First and second foremost. I know for myself THIS right here has been the crux of all my craziness. If communication is honest and consistent, most likely things can be worked through. It doesn’t mean things are agreed upon or all together happy but things can certainly be heading in the right direction and relationships can be safeguarded because when communication gets nixed…it all gets 100% harder. Seriously, you will find yourself playing on a one man team and we all know there is no “I” in “TEAM.” If you are not clearly communicating your part, that stuff goes somewhere and guess what? IT. GOES. SOMEWHERE. Either the dog gets the brunt or your kids do when they ask for milk or some poor soul who pulls out right in front of you as your late for work gets the wave or rear ended. Stuff turns into toxins like anger, bitterness, resentment and offense so back to point 1. **Guard your heart** Are you going to build a bridge or a wall? And lastly, watch your responses…key. Are you reacting or responding? Trying to prove a point and be right? 👈🏻 Not the best reasons AT ALL to open your mouth. TAKE IT FROM ME. 
  3. Take yourself seriously. First and third foremost.  I’ve come to realize, you’ve got to take yourself seriously  before anyone else will. You need to respect yourself, love yourself, *whatever* yourself. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. What you do and how you think comes back to either bite or embrace you. I’ve realized all of this from contending with my own fear. Yes, sometimes even the most awful feeling or thought can be a good teacher and fear has not only been a trusted friend of mine, but one who has championed for me to step up to the plate by inadvertently trying to keep me away from it. So what happens when you stop being afraid to step up and be WHO you were created to be? What happens when you say, “Fear of fallout, Fear of rejection…you will not stop me! THIS is my standard, THIS is how I respect myself, THIS is who I am and how I lead?”  A lot happens. Some will say, “Good for you.” Some will say, “It’s about time” and sadly, some will throw themselves down on the floor and have an adult-size tantrum at your expense because they are used to steering YOUR ship. S-O. Step up. Be prepared for the ground to tremble and the earth to shake because it will look and feel just like that. Trust me, it’s ok. It’s the shaft separating from the wheat. IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. When you stand solid and firm in WHO you were created to be, *you* BY DEFAULT will call others UP. It’s not your responsibility if they don’t accept that call. It’s not your fault if they decline and then BLAME YOU for being stuck. It is YOUR responsibility to be you, you are in charge of a party of ONE. You being fully you is the best, most kindest thing you can do for mankind. It is the most Jesus you can be to the people on this planet, so please, for the love, take yourself seriously. Don’t dismiss and don’t water down. Respect and love yourself. Your identity is such a gift and is at the core of ALL of it. **Guard it**

I could go on and on because I have created lists, as in l-i-st-s, which is plural but three points is enough and easy to remember. I am certain, if you can just rest in these THREE, everything else begins to make sense and comes into order; things like fixing and forgiving and forgetting. Crazy times can certainly lead to many crazy things and many of those crazy things can be negative. **Let’s not focus there** Crazy times are truly opportunities, like a gym membership **IF YOU USE IT** You can be strengthened in many ways and if you allow the circumstances to shape you, they will shape you into WHO you were created to be **so use the gym membership** If you don’t, crazy times will leave you winded, haggard and feeling like ultimate crap, thereby making your life look and smell like a great big pile of ultimate crap. This is truth, almost scriptural.

And since I am like a 43 year-old broken record: *guard your heart*. Truly. Watch what comes in, watch what goes out. Find that one person who can be your sounding board when all seems lost and whom is not easily swayed when you vent. Better yet, sit with Jesus for extraordinarily long periods of time till your perspective shifts and you can see as He sees, that’s the winning combination right there folks. His perspective is better than ALL (Isaiah  55:9 pretty much sums that one up). *communicate* openly and honestly. It’s not your job to worry what someone thinks or how they will respond when you are open and honest, it is just your job to DO IT. And lastly, *be you* Take charge of YOUR life, don’t let regret creep in because you “should have” and you were too afraid. Know what you want and which direction you need to go in to get you where you need to be and most importantly, stay steadfast to WHO you are through it. And seriously, if you know NOTHING…give yourself permission to figure that all out. YOU are worth the discovery.

All of this will help you love, lead and live in seasons that are nothing short of crazy because there is nothing worse than waking up each day just wanting to get through to the other side just so you can breathe a bit better. Wake up each day and give it your best shot. Lace up your running shoes and lean into your people and lean in tight and if the moment or the day does not go as planned and you SCREW IT ALL UP, begin again.

This is plain and absolutely simple. It’s called grace. 

Soon enough your winter will turn into Spring and your Spring into Summer. Seasons don’t last forever nor will your crazy.

Much Love- 

August

before you jump

I have a tendency to go it alone and by going it alone, I mean going it a-l-o-n-e as in, in silence. By myself. I can write about deep and personal all day long and give snippets of what is actually happening in my life that just may elude to the fact that I need some “withness” but rarely will say I say, “H-E-L-P.” I’ll just flounder for a while and eventually come up under the water having caught my breath, as I always and eventually do…and tarry on.

But today I was done tarrying alone. I got down and gritty with a few friends and didn’t think twice about what they may think of me and what I said. Because friends don’t really care what it is that you say, I mean…I really don’t think so. At least I don’t. I don’t think they absorb every word and think, “Ah, she’s in THAT place and I thought she was in t-h-a-t place. How sad.” I’m pretty sure from knowing mine that their heart breaks when mine does and they can read through the cursing, the emotions and the lies I’m believing and hear what I am really asking for…

WITHNESS. 

Because lies are awfully isolating.

Friends don’t have to fix anything in this place and I’m certainly not looking for magic words, sometimes, I’d rather not have any. When I get to the point where I say, “I am having an awfully bad, no good day,” I’m really saying, “I am going to jump off this ledge. I am drowning in this water. I feel all alone. Can you be with me?”

And as good friends go, they text or call or show up AT YOUR DOOR and you secretly wish they would go away because you have a good mad on and you want to stay that way, but you can’t…your friend is there, standing on your porch about to ring your door bell for the SECOND time and she knows you are home. There is no escape. She’s relentless and refuses to let you go it alone and you realize…

You are getting exactly what you asked for.

Support and love flood in various forms, all are tender and merciful. And though nothing seems fixed, everything seems doable. Because no matter how you DO IT, you know that you KNOW, you won’t be doing it alone.

So friends, if you are standing in the boat or on the ledge and you find yourself by yourself and are tempted to jump, I encourage you to ask someone into that space with you. Jumping itself is not bad, in fact, sometimes you just GOT TO take the leap, but invite someone to do it WITH you. The circumstance of life can be heavy and weighted and if you are not careful, they can bog you down into a deep abyss. But the funny thing with withness is it changes your perspective and fills you with hope. I think of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus, “Eyes on the prize and things will be fine.” Without focus, the storms are rather distracting.

Invite someone into your storm. Allow them to be Jesus in the flesh.

Stay focused. Stay steady. Stay WITH them.

 

The Things We Don’t Want to Hear

I got two texts and one phone call today and they all sort of sounded the same, starting with, “I really hate to tell you this…”

Our road has never been the kindest to the animals that attempt to cross it. We lost an indoor cat once to its traffic the day she escaped so when friends reached out today and said, “A cat has been hit in front of your house,” I swallowed hard.

Yes indeed, but luckily not one of ours.

And each friend all expressed the same, how GRUELING it was to reach out and share that it may have been OUR cat. I liken it to the sort of pit-in-your-stomach- feeling that sinks deep, like when you see a friends husband out with another woman at the pub…

Those conversations are never easy.

But as conversations go, hindsight is always 20/20.

“If only I had spoken up.”

So friends, this is short and sweet…SPEAK UP.

But before you do…

It’s not tattling if your our own heart is checked so do yourself and the person that you care about a favor before you speak…know YOUR motives. If it’s genuine and sincere and your heart is just filled and overflowing…maybe it’s time to make the call. Maybe it’s time to look them in the eyes and grab their hands…

And if your heart is not in the right place, if you sincerely do not care and are all caught up in catching someone doing something wrong or vindictively hurting another out of your own offenses and insecurities, or you cannot wait to share the news with your circle of friends…I do not care what you SEE or KNOW

keep.your.mouth.closed.

You have to open your heart to open your mouth.

People know the difference.

And we all need people in our life that will speak hard truth to us in love. Just make sure it’s love before you speak it.

 

Protect Your Fruit

I used to think he would come and steal away my possessions. That he would kill my children or those close to me or destroy my home in fire from a burner that had been left on overnight, and though I pray and believe that will never be the case, I am increasingly aware of what it is he comes for. He comes disguised in the natural, camouflaged in my everyday life, in ordinary things. My relationships. My money. My possessions. Things I can put in my hands, people I can embrace.

I think that’s all just a farce. An invitation to look beneath the surface and go deeper.

John 10:10 says “The thief comes only that he might steal and might kill and might destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Now interesting enough, the word MIGHT and MAY are used several times which tell me, either side is not a definite WILL or WON’T. Insert our will which is free and ta-dah…we have a choice. And if we have a choice if we are stolen from or killed or destroyed, then we also have a choice to live the life that Jesus has given us, and not just any life, but an abundant one.

So what exactly does the thief come for?

Our fruit.

And truth be told, it is not even O-U-R-S. It is Holy Spirits. When we partner with Him, it naturally produced IN us as a byproduct.

Galatians 5:22- says “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL; against such things there is no law.”

Our circumstances are going to be what they are. Life is going to continue to say, “because I told you so” and our circumstances will be like happenstance’s that seem to just flutter in from the air and land in our lap, forcing us to engage. Some circumstances, and I would say MOST, are going to be the result of a decision we made along the way…and not making a decision is STILL making a decision. Either way, it is the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT that thief ultimately wants.

He wants us to hurt and become offended so we wall up our love and box it up tight.

He wants us to dwell on our circumstances and get trapped by our feelings so we can lose our joy, our peace and our patience.

He wants us to see others, even God, as evil and unkind. That they are against us, that He is not FOR us so our kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness can slip quietly between our fingers like sand till it’s all together gone.

He wants us to react so we don’t activate our self-control.

He wants a lot of things, but we can CHOOSE to say, “No way. Not today.”

O.K. Sounds great, but HOW?

  1. Take authority: Authority doesn’t beg, it doesn’t ask, it doesn’t just hope the thief eventually bores and goes away…it commands.

Mark 13:34: “For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commands the porter to watch.”

Matthew 8:9: “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

2.  Exercise your authority through the spoken word. Seriously, eat well, speak life.

Proverbs 18:21: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

3.  Thoughts come and thoughts go, but be careful what you dwell on. And yes, every means just that…e-v-e-r-y.

2 Corinthians 10:5: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Proverbs 23:7: “For a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”

4.  In John 16, Jesus said it was for our good if He went away…he wasn’t lying. Holy Spirit no longer is in our midst, somewhere out there floating around randomly coming upon people and maybe occasionally talking to us. He lives IN us which means EVERY need we have, EVERY answer we seek…is IN us through HIM. We just need to listen and trust His voice and believe His truth.

John 16:13: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

In theory, ALL of this sounds so good. Even if you don’t follow Jesus, seriously…these are good and grounded principles that work, IF applied.

IF.

At some point in this life we live, our “in theory” needs to become our “in reality.” How we make that work is up to us; it is up to me, it is up to you. I just know for myself how I lose hours of my day, days of my week, weeks of my month when I ALLOW the thief to come and steal the fruit right off my table, right from underneath my nose and I for one am tired and worn thin having an intruder in my house that is more like a friend than a foe.

Guard your heart and protect your fruit…the fruit is where abundant life flows from and the world around you is waiting, just waiting, to eat from your table.

The Fixer

Being a parent is hard, as in challenging, and I feel its weightiness especially when my children make decisions. It seemed simpler when they were young; we taught simpler things like not grabbing for toys or hitting their playmate across the head. We taught them to ask to be excused from the table and to look people in the eyes when addressed. Now we are teaching much bigger things like how to think for and manage themselves well, how to parallel park and do laundry. How to extend an apology, manage their checking account…you know, these types things. And these all piggy back off of the very simple principles we taught them when they were young, we just didn’t know that is what we were doing. Do not grab for toys or hit your playmate translated into teaching them to be kind and honoring of others. You know…simple things like that.

But here’s the thing, it is not always so simple.

I am realizing an area that I have not necessarily excelled in was allowing my kids to reap their own harvest. I am a believer of the spiritual concept of sowing and reaping, however, I have always been a fixer. I have used vitamins and oils to make me well. Running to keep me fit and sane. I’ve read books on how to parent. I have attended conferences to help my marriage. Whatever has seemingly been broken or needing attention…there hasn’t been a fix I have sought. Struggling? I know a counselor for that. Need encouragement? I have a word. Bleeding? I have afantastic collection of band-aids.

But here is one thing I am learning about fixing…

*Somethings don’t need fixed. Sometimes, if you can keep your hands off it and your attention diverted from it, it takes care of itself like a scab on your body that does better when you simply leave it alone. Awareness is good. It encourages attention, as in keeping an eye on, but constant attention is cumbersome. It builds anxiety and expectation, both which are as dangerous to the mind as being forced to watch the paint dry or grass grow.

*When you are quick to fix, it places Y-O-U in the position of being savior, the one that calms the storm and readies the situation with a solution. Want to set yourself up for failure? Jump in quick and attempt to fix. You will find out sooner or later that it doesn’t need fixed and that YOU are not called to be the fixer. You can actually meddle and further fracture a situation that may have needed attention…just not THEN and just not YOU.

*Those who feel the need to fix often are not operating in wisdom. They are operating out of emotion and fear. Let me back up and say this, “When I have felt the need to fix, I was not operating out of wisdom. I was operating out of emotion and fear.” (I feel better now that I clarified that). I would make a terrible EMT or someone whose job required them to be a first responder on the scene. I REACT because my feeling are telling me to DO SOMETHING because I am afraid. I don’t feel in control. I take things personally. I shoulder the weight myself because it may be my fault. These sounds HORRIBLE being spoken out loud, but this is my blog and not yours and besides, this is holy and honest ground. This is the truth and the B-I-B-L-E tells me that the truth will make me free – John 8:32 – And I often forget I am free.

But not today.

One of our kids has been in glasses since before Kindergarten. His prescription is strong and I am confident he cannot see without them, he definitely cannot see well. He is now in middle school and can we all just say a prayer for our middle school youth? It is HARD, not like parenting hard, because middle school makes parenting look EASY. It is grueling. Parents of kids in middle school…I am with you.

Peer pressure, peer acceptance, any word associated with peer is just…

So a year ago we began trying to transition him to contacts. He plays sports, is incredible active and has broken more glasses than I can count. Plus he has gotten bullied. Need I say more? Yes, I’ll say it once more…middle school is HARD. We have an amazing eye doctor who was able to finally transition him into a pair of contacts that work best with his needs and we have been working with him on how to care for them…HOWEVER, our son is now past the mom and dad know everything to mom and dad know N-O-T-H-I-N-G. At this point in the game, we can encourage and remind about the importance of taking his contacts out at night and cleaning them or we can physically pick him up, hold his eyes open and manually remove them. Which do you think is the more viable option?

Yesterday he woke up and realized though he took his contacts OUT, he did not put cleaning solution in his container and because I have relied on the crutch of FIXING for far too long and because I was the first responder on the scene when he realized it, our morning did not go well for a moment or two. I’m taking away the iPod and TV for surely both are distractions that keep him from properly paying attention to the care of his contacts at night. We own a school bus company so can you only imagine if MY kid misses the school bus? He was going to inconvenience me, I was going to have to drive him to school, he was going to be late…

Me and I and blah blah blah…

I sucked as a parent. For a five minutes, I totally did. Like big time sucked.

And then I walked away and remembered WHO I was. It took time and a sink full of dishes to wash but Jesus kept whispering to me my name. He reminded me that I do not have to fix this, that this is actually not my gig. It is HIS.

I walked back into the living room and my son, who HATES missing school, was frantically pacing the carpet trying to put dirty contacts back in his eyes. It wasn’t working. His eyes burned. He’d wait awhile and he’d try again. It didn’t work. I realized that he was reaping his own harvest and that I did not need to be the teacher here, life was. What I needed to do was get out of the way so to not interfere and put my meddling ways behind me.

He refused his glasses and eventually did go to school (though I have a feeling he was almost blind when I dropped him at the door). I didn’t have to say another word. He was reaping what He had sown and it wasn’t for me to judge his harvest, it was for me to be there for him through it.

Allowing someone to face their own reality is a very hard thing to do, it is a bitter pill to swallow, but it must be swallowed. This is a life lesson I wish someone would have told me about sooner, it is one I wish I had already mastered but I don’t. I am not perfect and though there are days I screw it up, my heart always reminds me to apologize for the times I step outside of myself and become all undone. It reminds me to look upon them compassionately…perhaps they too are doing the best they can.

One of the most hardest of titles is that of PARENT and one of the most EMPOWERING gifts I can give my children as their parent is that of facing their own reality so they understand how powerful their choices are.

I am not called to fix them, they are not broken. I am called to love them and remind them of WHO they are.

It is not my job to go around softening life’s lessons.

Plant the Seed

In 1995 I graduated college and within months, I rented my first house. Now in my good opinion, you can’t have a house without flowers so off to the store I went. My eyes drifted to all sorts of beautifully potted plants, so colorful and bright. There were so many to choose from but my eyes drifted further down the aisle to a row of seeds, tiny and small.

And expensive.

Now this is over 20 years ago and for a college graduate with a baby in tow on her hip, seeds packets seemed like a risk. “Just buy the potted plants that are already in bloom and be done with it,” said the woman behind the counter when I questioned the in’s and out’s of seeds. I obviously looked a little unknowledgeable and she obviously looked a little annoyed and we both needed more joy in our lives so I bought the seed packets and called it a day.

And to home I went.

I remember holding those tiny seeds in my hands and debated where to plant and when. Which side of the house? Is now the time? BECAUSE I SPENT MONEY ON FRIVOLOUS SEEDS…

I don’t remember much else but I do know that some came up and some didn’t. I dropped them all in the dirt the same and covered them with darkness and the ones that struggled to find the light found it, big and bright and became these big and beautiful blooms on teeny tiny stems of plants I chose to grow rather than buy.

John 12:24-25 says “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

It is easy to stand with tiny, precious seeds in your hands…contemplating decisions of what is best, how to and why. This world can leave you puzzled, confused and torn with fear. “Dear God, what if I let this seed go, whatever shall become of it? It it is dear to me. It cost me…”

And just the same, it is easy to feel covered by darkness, chilled to the core by damp days. Should you fight your way out of the pit or just wait to be rescued? Surely if you were loved, you would be plucked up and out, right? Should you wriggle in faith and trust that the light above is out there somewhere waiting, even if you don’t see it, even if you don’t feel it? Should you believe that it’s cheering you on to do the hard work so you can bust out of the shell that longer serves a purpose so you can grow, grow, grow?

Here’s the thing about light…it believes  that life can happen underneath what is seen, in the cold and the dark and the damp. It does not compromise itself. It doesn’t give up nor go away. It doesn’t turn itself on or off based on the seeds response. It stays true and steady regardless wether the little seed underneath the earth wakes up and decides the fight is a good one. The light is indeed reckless in its love, for the light is ALL in. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t abandon. It is relentlessly FOR. It wakes up, it shows up…

We are continually in the position of choosing, which is one of the greatest of all gifts. Free will. We either choose to hold tight or we choose to let go. We either choose to take risk or we choose play it safe. We either choose to stay dormant and small or we choose to fight hard and grow. Father God in His infinite goodness is surrounding us, within us…steady and sure. He is there when we wonder and when we doubt and our heart aches in uncertainty and our hands our heavy and tired from holding on. He is there when we feel alone and forgotten and scared, when our will fades and we think giving in to the darkness would relinquish our struggle.

He is reckless in His love for us. He was willing to give all. Jesus lost His life so we could have it.

Looking back, it may seem like a small and pointless memory but I am glad I planted those seeds all those years ago. Who knew that 22 years later the thought of them would pop back into my conscious heart as I sat on my couch on a early morning contemplating the struggle and the fight. Is it worth it?

Can I be reckless in my love for Him?

Yes.

Even in the dirt and the darkness, we can choose to emerge anew and full of life.

If you are pushing you way through the darkness, keep growing. 

A Thousand Little Pieces 

I was unloading the dishwasher the other week and being productive, grabbed two mugs at the same time instead of one. In my hurry, I inevitably dropped the heavier, black mug on floor and heard the clamor of ceramic and tile colliding. When I picked it up, it was in what seemed like a thousand little pieces. The one side of the mug was missing a very large piece so when I saw it, I sighed. I thought it would be an easy repair. One piece. However to my dismay, there were multitudes of small and fragile remnants spread all over the floor surrounded by potters dust and my heart immediately sank.

It was unrepairable.

It looked like all the other cheap ceramic mugs I’ve bought over the years. They all end up the same. Chipped, cracked and eventually discarded.

Except that this wasn’t just any mug. It was a mug we got from Paramount Pictures where our oldest daughter interned two summers ago. It was the mug we bought when we visited her in California. It often held my coffee and with it, my sentiments.

But sentiments aside, I cleaned up the pieces and salvaged what I could. I got out the super glue and started first with the biggest piece and thought I had a win, but the remnants were too small and not one seemed to fit just right and I started to get frustrated over a mug that would never be the same.

The trash can looked like my only option.

Days later, I’m driving to Baltimore with my husband. My mind flittered between songs and landscapes and my marriage was forefront. Here we were on another trip, in another year, logging another mile while stubbornly refusing to give up. My mind raced to lots of things, to people and with people…problems. I have friends who are encountering their own sort of hard, and as I sat in the passenger seat on my to our destination, I heard myself whisper, “Don’t discard the pieces.”

Perhaps I was whispering once more to myself.

Relationships are much like my mug. Over time and with use, little dings and chips create cracks if you hurry too fast and aren’t mindful of their care. Every now and then, trust gets broken and a large piece shatters on the floor of someone’s home and before you know it, your heart is broken into a thousand little pieces creating remnants that feel too small to pick up and piece back together.

But much like my mug, piece by piece, chunk by chunk, things CAN be put back together. It most likely will never look the same because cracks leave scars making things look raw and edgy and the healing comes through a process that is frustratingly ongoing and one day you wake up and realize how tired and worn you are from trying to piece it all back together yourself so you call a silent truce and eventually resolve to STOP fixing and mending alone because no one is fully ever broken…not even YOU and you embrace your cracks and your raw and rough edging. We ALL have our things and those things are better placed in the Fathers hands and when we give Him our broken pieces, He works tenderly and diligently…

Making broken things beautiful…

Most people would like the damage done to what is broken to be concealed and hidden by repair so that things could look like new, the way I want my favorite mug to look and my marriage to be, but that really isn’t reality.

That is actually a pretty weighty expectation and an unrealistic picture.

Someone shared years ago of how the Japanese art of Kintsugi follows a different philosophy in mending broken items. Rather than disguising the breakage, kintsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item, making it part of the object’s history. Kintsugi uses lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, resulting into something more beautiful than the original. The item becomes unique and set apart, for no two breaks are the same.

That visual has helped me more times than I can count when I have felt hopeless and broken and that the trash was my only viable option. When my dreams dissipate and my relationships verge potential ruin; in those moments when I feel small and in my ambiguity, helpless…I must choose to remember His goodness. He doesn’t create junk and if it is important to me, it is important to Him. THEY ARE. YOU ARE. I have a Father who doesn’t enjoying watching me feel out of sorts and out of luck. He is good and tender and piece by piece, partners with me to create a mosaic masterpiece.

But the first step in this creation is the resolve that what I hold in my hands has WORTH and VALUE. When I make the decision that yes, I am committed to working on it, I won’t easily discard it…even if the pieces are too small for my finger to pick them up.

Even if I don’t feel, even if I don’t see, even if I don’t hear…

Friends, I do not know how He does it, but I do know it is an exchange of sorts and I am part of the process. It would be easy to say I just put what is broken into the Father’s hands and He gets to work and I just wash my hands and walk away. That one day, He and I just meet up again over lunch when He is all finished mending and He hands me back a perfectly pieced masterpiece, but no.

It doesn’t work that way.

Each day I have the choice to wake up and make the commitment, ONCE MORE, to partner WITH HIM. He says, “OK, todays let’s look at THIS piece. What is this one about? Why is it special to you? How did it become misplaced and broken? What was your part?” and we go from there. Every piece is different and every conversation reveals both a truth and a lie; a lie that helped create the crack and a truth that helps restores the piece. If you do this enough days, trust can be rebuilt with the hope of restoration rather than having to trash what once you said had value and worth to you.

Whatever has fallen apart CAN be made whole, it just won’t always look like what you expected and don’t be suprised if YOU are the focus of the mending. You want the attention to detail to be elsewhere and on anyone else but you because you are not part of the problem nor did you cause the break, but I assure you…you have a part.

Be the place to start. 

The Father wants to give you His attention. Let it happen.

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑