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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

Rest

All my big work to-do’s are done and another crazy and hectic school year is coming to an end. One more Friday.

All school year I said I wanted to take one day and not work in between bus runs. No sitting in the office going through mounds of paperwork, no cleaning the house for the five hundredth time, no laundry, no book club reading, no running errands. To me that time looked like sitting on the couch catching up on Season 2 of Game of Thrones and this morning I did just that.

I physically rested both my body and my mind and my heart breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“Thanks.”

I understand now why God calls for a day of rest. It wasn’t just so we could show up to Church (because sometimes that feels just as much like work as work does). It was so we could reset ourselves to our very core, to Him. To ourselves. To one another.

I got two episodes in and understand now why my oldest daughter told me not to get attached to characters. I then leisurely made my way across town for a lunch date with a friend and was so excited for my time with her because I didn’t feel rushed to get to the next thing. Guess what she talked about?

Rest.

Now her rest may look different from my rest but the premise is till the same. She is hitting the reset button just the same as I am. We are all trying to figure out how to balance this thing called life. Juggling schedules and wearing numerous hats in a 24 hour time period leaves many of us exhausted, even if it’s jammed packed full of good things and people. I have discovered this year that I love being around people and most would classify me as an extrovert but the core of who I am is very introverted, requiring a lot of alone time and quiet. When I get up each day and jump into the next thing or don’t  establish healthy boundaries or don’t make time to give my head and heart a break, I stop breathing and find myself holding my breath hurrying from one thing to the next.

That is not living.

That is just getting shit done.

I am beyond saying that’s life and calling it a day.

The whole basis of rest goes back to this:

Guard your heart above ALL else for everything in life flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

This pretty much embodies listening to an Audience of One and an Audience of One alone. If you people please much, you will have a hard time guarding your time, your schedule, your boundaries, your everything. Seriously, if your gut says no…maybe it’s a no (and no one has ever died from saying no that I am aware of). Most importantly, a lot of things sound good, especially if you’ve got a lot of well-meaning people offering advice to you on what you should and shouldn’t do. I personally am finding, the smaller the circle of influence you allow into your life, the better. Fewer voices = less noise. Walk with people and have people walk with you whom you confide in and trust but keep that number small. I think you’ll find you are able to hear God’s voice more clearly when you do so because ultimately it is He that helps you guard your heart.

So long story short is this…make time to rest friends. One day a week pretty much needs to be allotted to nothingness which in the long run, adds up to a whole lot of happiness, wholeness and peace in your life. Give your day away to go, go, go and watch your frustration, anxiety and weariness grow.

Make the time for the people and the things you say are important to you…make time for YOU. If Game of Thrones is your way to chillax, then please. Permission granted. You won’t do anyone or anything good when you and burned out from top to bottom. I mean, you’ll look pretty and amazingly hot, but ouch.

Take it from me…rest is a healer and doing nothing is more than ok.

 

ownership

I saw him standing by the door, waiting, so I approached him a little slowly. Who is this strange man on my doorstep? “Can I help you sir?” He obliged with a smile and slowly shrugged his shoulders while standing in front of me. “I was delivering your parts today and I forgot one of them. It’s not the companies fault, it is mine. I completely forgot to put it in the van.”

He was a breath of fresh air on this chilly Spring day and I said, “It’s ok. It happens to all of us.”

Lest not we forget that it does.

But unfortunately, many of us do. Many of us forget or ignore all together we have a part.

The other week I had someone call our office and complain about one of our drivers’ not stopping to pick up their student. It just so happens that driver was ME, and guess what? I DID stop. ON TIME. But it supposedly wasn’t their fault their student missed the bus, it was easier to default to it being someone else wrong doing.

HAPPENS. ALL. THE. TIME. 

Got kids? Then you understand.

Friends, is this fair? Of course not but what in life is, right? I had a choice to make in it? I had to honestly look at my part…did I make that stop and was I on time? Yes. I’m really sorry that student missed the bus but I showed up and did my part. I’m sad to say, someone else didn’t but it happens right?

Yes. It happens to all of us.

But my delivery man today won my respect. He showed up and took one for the team and has my vote for office. He was humble, honest and is the type of person I instantly can put my trust into. Could he of blamed someone else for the missing part? Absolutely. Did he? Absolutely not.

Life Lesson of the Day: Be honest. Own your part. Eat crow if you have to. Come to the table as you are, apologize where you need to and don’t take ownership of something that is not yours to take on.

push

An early morning conversation with a friend led to talk of exercise and I realized how out of shape I truly am. Out of shape. Out of breath. Out of everything. I am exhausted. I’ve been on thyroid medicine since I was nine and the thought has been going through my head that maybe I should actually use the lab paperwork my doctor gave me months ago and get my TSH levels checked because I’m tired, have brain fog along with morning headaches but life has also not been the kindest lately so then there’s that.

For the last few weeks, I will myself every day to wake up. My alarm disturbingly goes off and I begrudgingly hit the snooze, something I have never done.

And I am learning never to say never.

So I get up and get dressed. Make-up, hair, the works.

I drive, I run here and there and have been keeping myself so busy, I haven’t even had time to relax…as in lounge in my ugly sweatpants and favorite sweatshirt which is something I am finding recharges me.

Because I push. I hate staying stuck, I loathe being tired and caught in the middle part of life. I love the start and the finish but the middle? Um, no thanks. Not when your life begins to replicate a favorite movie, Groundhog Day.

So I get up and pretty up and put a huge smile on and trudge along. I canceled some of my week which helps but when my alarm went off this morning, I just couldn’t. I even went to be at 8:30 PM and still, my body groaned.

Snooze.

An hour later, I get up and grabbed my ugly sweatpants and my favorite sweatshirt and headed out the door to drive. “I’ll shower when I get home.” And when I say shower, I mean I’ll put some cute outfit on and fix my hair and blah blah blah.

But as I drove, the exercise conversation was forefront on my mind. When will I begin again?

Push.

When will I clean out my old office?

Push.

 When will I snap out of this funk?

Push.

Push harder.

Truth is, I came home and worked in the office for an hour and then took a shower, because cleanliness is next to Godliness, and I put my ugly sweatpants and favorite sweatshirt BACK on. I walked out my front door with a wet head and a fresh face and took the puppy to the vet. Then I went to the grocery store because we are out of bread and butter. I came home and drove. Tonight I’ll take my daughter to soccer practice and then meet up with a friend at the movies.

And I will not push through.

I will be my fresh-faced self who is a little tired and maybe a little sad these days.

It just might be one of the most honest things I’ve ever done.

In the thick of things 

I met a friend for coffee today and I realize now, only afterwards, that I sounded like a complete train wreck. Not just a wreck but a TRAIN wreck, that’s the severity of my current situation. I’ve unraveled in perhaps all the wrong and maybe right ways…I just can’t tell yet. 

The verdict is still out. 

What is love anyway? I’m feeling kind of lost. I’m questioning just about everything. Blah blah blah blah blah.”

I interjected other people’s problems because they affect me and felt justified. Yes, I am living IN my circumstances becuase they are big. Someday I will learn that if I cannot properly manage me and my life, why do I think I can manage someone else’s? 

I can’t. 

*Freedom*

We talked about drama (hers) and went I came home, soaked in the bath and realize how I feed mine. 

Drama like debt continues to grow if you perpetuate it. If you want to pay down debt, you could go out and make more money, but mostly that doesn’t work. Not spending moment does. So if I apply this principle to drama, I will reduce the amount of drama in my life if I stop entertainining it. Right? 

Right. 

So I didn’t answer some texts today. Drama. 

I didn’t online shop to pass time. Drama. 

I apologized when I interjected my opinion and I knew I shouldn’t. Drama. 

I mostly likely will cut somethings out of my calendar this week becuase I’m tired and worn and desperately craving the comforts of home and my ugly sweatpants. I’ll find solice in the bath with all its bubbles and I’ll pretend I’m in a small dingy with Jesus. I’ll allow Him, in whatever amount of time is needed, to reset my preset. 

Please, for the love, tell me it’s not wrong to feel all shaken and not stirred, all dry and slightly withery. Tell me it’s ok to feel lost. Tell me it’s ok do all the right things and still have things not work out favorably. 

Becuase if you tell me there’s a formula, and I’ve screwed it all up, I scream. 

I’ll do more than. 

Extreme Home Makeover

I’ll start this off by saying that I hate that show. Secretly.

Because of jealousy, I hate it. It’s not fair that someone gets their entire home overhauled but whatever man. I’m sure they are worthy and such. I’ve watched it and cried along with the rest of the audience so I’m clearly and visibly moved and happy for them but…

I’ve often tried the Extreme Home Makeover theory to my home…meaning ME, and it only causes more debris and issues than worth it.

Seriously, I’m incounseling…Thankfully I have good people who aren’t over-zealous over-achievers.

Overhauls are good and needed but I’ve discovered, you have to be strategic and slow. Which means, one room, one box, one item held in your hands and heart at a time. And in my good opinion, when you take your time and go slow, the cleaning last and the room and the home stays more “tidy” if you are led.

Holy Spirit is good like that.

Real-life example: Currently I have been challenged to look at my response rate when it comes to my device because clearly it sucks. I don’t return calls or texts in a very timely manner **Real almost NEVER** and I know this is an are in my life that I’d like to clean up (for those of you who text or call me, you are clearly NOT surprised this is an issue in fact, some of you have loved me enough to POINT THIS OUT).

Seriously, WHY cannot I not do this? My lack of response is actually quite rude if I am to be honest.

Forgiveness please.

So for the last few days, I have been intentionally sitting and answering texts as they come in. Grueling. Some of my responses only say, “Thank you. I love you. I loathe you.” Whatever. The point is, I’m looking at it closely and trying to place myself in others shoes and am putting forth effort. YEAH ME. 

Intentionality.

Lesson of the Day:

Overhauls aren’t all they are cracked up to me so go slow and be selective. 

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

Be kind to yourself. Yes.

But also be kind to others. If someone texts you, give them the common courtesy, text back.

“Ahem…August.”

worth more than glue

When I was sixteen, my father beat with the shoes I took off my feet upon coming home from work after taking my boss’s mother to her house. She did not drive and I was later than normal, home later than expected, but I was honest with my accounts however my honesty did not help. I was still beaten for being late because I supposedly was lying about where I’d been.

I ran out the door that night in my barefoot, in the pouring down rain, desperate. I ran across town to my boyfriend’s house and his family welcomed me and my tears into their home. They called my parents and told them I would be at their house for the night and I knew it would be a very long night for it was the first time I ever told anyone that my father beat me.

The next morning I went home to silence and for weeks that silence continued. I had shared our families secret and heard the message loud and clear.

“You are to be like glue and keep our family together. You do not come undone and share our secrets.”

Fast forward years later and it’s weeks before my wedding day. Same thing: sudden rage and a beating. This time I am standing outside my parents farmhouse holding a laundry basket of clothes my mother had just folded for me, my two-year old daughter nearby.

I go home afterwards and cry for hours nursing a headache that won’t go away.

But I am glue. I keep our family together and I don’t give myself any consideration. My father walks me down the aisle despite my knowing deep within myself I don’t want him to but since appearances are everything, I take his left arm in mine and smile.

I’ve hated myself everyday since and it has nothing to do with abuse and everything to do with a little girl who gave up her voice at the expense of squeezing herself into a mold she was not made for.

Now, many years later, I find myself sitting nauseated in a lawyer’s office. I realize that despite whatever the outcome, being there was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done in my life. In my entire life.

I was standing up for me. AS me.

All my life I have found my worth and value in other people and in things, in doings and the like and when those things are good and pretty, when all is going well, I am enough.

And when things aren’t…well. You can imagine.

I have tethered myself to the whipping pole because it’s what I’ve deserved. Surely it must be what I’ve deserved becuase I’ve done wrong and I’ve done right and the results are forever the same: I am not valuable.

Because who beats their grown daughter in front of her own?

I’ve felt like a dog.

Oh to go back to that day and say, “Enough.”

But I can’t go back. All I can do is make peace with my enemy and forgive myself for doing the best that I can, even if the best that I can was not right for me.

“You are the glue that holds are family together.” My husband said these words to me a couple of months ago and I bore the weight. I felt the heaviness of “Suck it up and carry on.” I should want to be glue. Glue sounds capable and strong, almost noble. Like something I could robe myself in as a woman, especially as a mother. But I don’t want to be glue. I don’t want to keep on keeping on, my right arm interlocked in the cusp of everyone else’s for the sake of what?

For the sake of WHO? Jesus?

Is that what it means in real-time with my every-day-life to take up my cross and follow Him? Is that what “laying down my life for my friends” looks like?

Please someone tell me because all I know is that I have this voice inside of me telling me to listen. That it is o.k. to listen. To listen to what I’ve always known deep within myself but been too afraid to stand in.

Because it’s easier to tie myself back to the whipping pole than it is to stand firm in my own truths, which at the end of the day are rooted in His.

I am worth more than glue.

HE says so.

when Easter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

It’s Easter and it was an off day from the start. The dog ran away (again) and everything on the inside of me was done with his antics and officially didn’t care if he ever returned home. I was not in the mood. We fought briefly over going to Church and when I was there, I had a hard time being as awe-struck as those around me and found myself loathing the hype of the Holiday that exalts Jesus one day and not the next. I forgot to fill and hide the baskets till my youngest asked where they were and sadly no one (myself included) was all that excited about taking a family picture so I took pictures of the puppy instead.

Middle places are hard. Foreign lands are rough. If you haven’t been where you are now at, you can feel like a fish out of water. I secretly wished all day that Jesus would come along my shore in His boat and scoop me up in His net before I exhausted every last breath I had left inside of me because breathing has been laborious.

I went about my day being a lesser version of the self I know I can be. This put together Mom who has all her baskets lined up in a row. This in-step-with-Jesus-praise-be-to-God woman. Today I wasn’t, the reality is I haven’t been and I don’t know how to get back to her. I can’t seem to find her lately and I swear if someone tries to tell me how I might not only cry but scream and pelt eggs filled with candy at them from the egg hunt I just didn’t have the energy for.

But the great and wonderful thing about Easter is this…

Jesus says I don’t have to try to get back to her.

Easter is for people everywhere, yes.

But today Easter was especially for me.

If I have ever experienced first hand the finished work of the cross, it was today. In what feels like BLAH. In what feels like muddling through mire and muck. In what is tasteless and listless…

When I don’t feel like it, He literally expands Himself into my gaps. When I question or just stop questioning all together, He IS regardless and doesn’t just negate where I’m at or tries to drag me out of my slump I’d call an awfully large pit, He sits in it with me.

So when significant Holidays aren’t all that and then some, there’s things called grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Mounds of love.

This is what Easter is all about, right?

My Fakest Life

“I feel like I’m living my fakest life.”

These are the words I spoke out loud seven days ago to my husband and now here today, I have a 1:00 PM appointment with a lawyer.

“It’s just an appointment,” I say but I know it is more than. It’s the start of me even though some would say it’s the end.

I say it’s the start. Some say the end. Who am I going to believe?

I choose me.

I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. All of it. Every single day I wake up and for the most part, I aim to please. My decisions are largely based off of what you would think and if you’ve given me your opinion, I most likely pay heed. Can I keep peace? Can I make you happy and maintain status quo and do all the needed and expected things?

Seriously, I can’t. Not one single day more.

Twenty-three years ago I found myself as a single mother with a wedding dress. I discovered I was pregnant in October, was to be married in June after I graduated from college but by Thanksgiving, my fiancé was gone and I was living in the spare bedroom of my parents farmhouse dejected and confused.

And without realizing it, my guild-ridden self began looking for a father for my daughter. A good man.

And I found one.

But here we are, almost twenty-one years later and are at an impasse. I can and will no longer beg or plead for communication and since it has been recommended that I do not publicly share these very private parts of my life that involve other people, I will speak for me, OF me.

Because NOT speaking about this very large part of my life is deafening, almost drowning and it does me no good to pretend this is not happening. I will not live a fake life.

I know WHO I am and one of my nonnegotiable’s is communication. I need it in order to work through anything and if I cannot talk about the things I need to work through, I don’t see movement and I am no longer willing to remain at cross roads wondering which way to go.

So despite not feeling great about it, I will take a step. I will continue to remain open but I am not willing to sacrifice my non-negotiable. I’ve secretly battled within myself for months and openly hoped things would change and go in another direction but they haven’t. I’ve battled if it’s wrong or if it’s right because as one who loves Jesus, taking these steps are incredibly complicated and conflicting. I have seen what NOT communicating has done over time and I refuse to repeat the negative and unhealthy patterns for the safe of maintaining a nice home and the semblance of a family.

My children deserve a better example.

I’d like to say I do but there’s a large part of me that says, “No. Lay your life down for your friends. Sacrifice” but friends, if you only knew where we’ve been and where we’ve dangerously been heading…

I just can’t.

So I won’t just write about the happy things. I won’t just share the good times. That has never been me and trying to people please in order to maintain status quo, even the incredibly watchful yet silent people in my life…no thanks.

No thanks at all.

The Places We Won’t Go

I past him on the street but before I did so, I smelled him.

I smelled urine and the staunch aroma of ammonia made me turn my head away.

I will never forget turning my head away.

Ever.

I walked up the street a block, maybe two, and I turned around. Conviction consuming my heart. I faced my friends who were simply excited to be in the city for the first time  and told them I had to go back. I had to stand in front of this man I turned my face from and extend my hand and offer to buy him food. So I did. I went back and breathed in deep. I smiled and asked his name and David and I walked to McDonald’s.

Today, years later from my encounter with David, I hear the story in Luke. I’ve read it a hundreds times, but today my heart heard something in the story I haven’t heard before. It reminded me of my encounter of David and his urine soaked jeans. It reminded me of the smell that lingered in him and then consequently, on me. It reminded me how I turned my head away. It reminded me of a lot.

Luke 7:36-39 says, “Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

The women who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and her hair wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She wasn’t afraid to smell. If you know anything about the days when Jesus walked the earth, feet were one of the dirtiest parts of a person. Cleaning someone’s feet was reserved for servants or slaves. They were not reserved for women who used their tears and their hair. A woman. An adulterous, sinful women.  It was a huge social faux pas that packed a mighty spiritual punch and spoke loud and clear of the Gospel we today call Jesus.

I think of her on the floor face to face with the ripe stench of Jesus’ feet and I think of the Pharisee nearby and how his blood must have boiled at the sight of who had just entered his home unwelcome and invaded his and his guest of honor’s space. She’s on her knees in tears going close and he’s putting distance between all three of them, outraged and questioning Jesus’s identity, “If this man were a prophet…”

Oh dear Pharisee…He is more than. Sounds an awful lot like the devil in the wilderness, “If you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 4:6).  Jesus must have heard, “If you are…” more times than Scriptures record and I reminded that our God-given identity is ALWAYS in question.

But SHE knew who He was. Her heart knew. She already had a mighty encounter with the living, breathing God and she would have gone lower if the dirt floor would have allowed. Her posture spoke volumes and she didn’t have to say a single word. Gratitude overflowed from her.

How many times have I felt the need to give lots of words trying to convince myself and others of MY posture?

Too many to count.

So I think:

How far into someone’s dirty stinky mess would I be willing to go?

How low would I be willing to stoop before them?

Saying things is one thing. Saying I would be the woman at Jesus feet sounds beautiful and faith-filled but doing it is another thing all together. Jesus comes to me all the time disguised as the beggar on the street, the friend with the marriage falling a part, my own family member who desperately needs my time and my attention.

How low do I go?

Truth is, sometimes I don’t. There ARE places IN people I will not venture to. It’s too hard and rough and I get too tired of the drama so I walk a block or two and don’t turn back because my judgement and fear are a thick wall that help me keep my distance.

Friends, I want to turn back. It is in my heart to do so. I want to tell the company I keep, “I got to go” as I turnaround. I want to extend my hand but sometimes my own arrogant  pride and blatant stubbornness keep me planted firmly on my own path especially with those closest to me. Especially those who don’t smell of urine. Especially those who look and sound just.like.me.

If there is place in your life you won’t go and there is a person attached to your reasoning, please consider reaching out. Maybe there is good and needed excuse there is space but most times, more than not…

There’s not.

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