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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

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fixer

The Crooked Road

Be careful listening to anyone trying to “sell” you something that will “make” you something.

Happier.

Skinner.

More energized.

Whatever.

Doctors will prescribe pills. Friends will try to sell you their coffee or their wraps. Your pastor will point you to Jesus *and I’ll join Him to an extent*

But in the end…

It all comes down to YOU. Nothing is going to “fix” you or “make” you turn into the person you want to be except YOU.

Hard truth.

Pills can help *temporarily* but they are not a fix. Talking it through, looking at hard things, taking responsibility, establishing boundaries and extending continual forgiveness are pretty good helpers.

Coffee and wraps? Heck I don’t actually know anything about these things but I do know that eating real food, being consistent with exercising and getting good sleep are great helpers.

And Jesus? He is not your Genie and He does carry a magic wand. Rarely have I heard a prayer come to be that was not attached to someone’s intentional action post prayer; their willingness to be changed along with their fortitude and humility. He promises to walk with you but you’ve got to show up and do the work and the work is hard, especially when it comes to your heart. The good news is, the Spirit of Jesus is the most excellent Helper. He has my vote.

So if you are looking for a “fix”, you will most likely keep looking for a slew of them your whole life and may fall for whatever is out there that seems quick and easy. Take it from me, there is no quick and easy anything to change the “you” you want to be.

You can read all the self-help books you want but if you don’t consistently apply the authors principles to your life, all you’ve done is read a really good book that someone else wrote. Someone who actually took the crooked road to grace because change, especially lasting change, is hard and it’s ugly…

But it can be done.

Gather your troops and find your tribe.

Change rarely happens on your own.

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The Pick-Up Artist

For years I hid and stuffed a large part of myself down deep. It wasn’t easy or ideal and it was exhausting but I didn’t know any different. It was what I grew up doing; not wanting to think or feel as some sort of self-protection mechanism. There was the me that I presented to the world; I was put together, talked and walked with poise and ease *in public* and then there was the me that hid and covered myself up *in private* because inwardly I was a gigantic mess. I was a consummate circus juggler and had too many balls in the air and was *worn thin* from trying to keep them afloat. 

Then I attended a life-changing conference in Nashville Tennessee. At the time, I was leading a local Mom’s group at my Church called MOPS (Mother’s Of Preschooler’s). Looking back now, I shouldn’t have been leading much of anything but I had a slew of preschoolers myself and was actually trying my best to be a good mother to them. Besides, God often goes hard after the lost and lonely and has been known to put those who don’t have it together in positions of leadership.

And I swear to God, the conference had me specially in mind from beginning to end when they picked the topic.

Masks: Why we put them on and how we take them off. 

It was a simple message with a profound punch. It didn’t make me feel like shit like it could have but instead, empowered me to emerge from the suffocating squalor I had been hiding in. When I returned home from Tennessee, I stood in front of my MOPS groups, in front of women whom I was convinced had it all together and whom I worked hard at convincing that I did and bared my soul. It was like I was auditioning for the movie “Bad Moms” where one of the moms stand in front of the PTA and admits to smoking the weed she finds in her sons bedroom. 

I share this moment in life with you because it was the first of many where I mustered the courage to be me *as is* I became increasingly brave and awake, even though I still morphed into some sorry rendition of who I thought I needed to be. I didn’t gravitate quickly *nor easily* to a mask. I walked the Earth uncovered and through it, the whole of my insides was unearthed. 

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

When you allow yourself to stand naked before the crowd, it invites others to do the same. Nakedness brings up all those things that you’ve tried to keep hidden. All your insecurities rise to the surface. Things like jealousy, anxiety, depression, bitterness…just to do some brain storming. They bring with them thoughts and feelings that are all out of sorts. And when they hit like tsunami waves, they make you believe that staying hidden and numb would have been best.

But it’s not. 

Thoughts and feelings are not bad things, in fact, they can be used for a lot of good when kept in check. It wasn’t long till I became aware that I had a deep understanding of what other people were going through…kind of like a sixth sense so to speak. I could “feel” what others were feeling, at least enough to bring me to the realization that I’m a highly empathic person. An empath.

The trademark of an empath is that we feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of our high sensitivities. We filter the world through our intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing our feelings. When overwhelmed with the impact of stressful emotions, empaths can have panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue, food, sex and drug binges, and many physical symptoms that defy traditional medical diagnosis.

Here’s some nuggets of gold I’ve learned this past year:

1. Empaths are highly sensitive
Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually open, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, we’re there for you, and are world-class nurturers. But we can easily have our feelings hurt. We are often told that we are “too sensitive” and need to toughen up.

2. Empaths absorb other people’s emotions
Empaths are highly attuned to other people’s moods, good and bad. We feel everything, sometimes to an extreme. We take on others people’s negativity such as anger or anxiety and make it our own, which is confusing and exhausting. If we are around peace and love, our bodies take these on and flourish.

3. Many empaths are introverted
Empaths become overwhelmed in crowds, which can amplify their empathy. We tend to be introverted and prefer one to one contact or small groups. Even if an empath is more extroverted they prefer limiting how much time they can be in a crowd or at a party. This was one of the most important discoveries of myself this year.

4. Empaths are highly intuitive
Empaths experience the world through our intuition. It is important for us to develop our intuition and listen to our gut feelings about people. This will help empaths find positive relationships and avoid energy vampires *which is a thing* but we have to be careful. I find that if I don’t personally partner with the Spirit of God, I get pulled to make assumptions and judgements about people instead of initially thinking the very best of them.

5. Empaths need alone time
As super-responders, being around people can drain an empath so we periodically need alone time to recharge our batteries. Even a brief escape prevents emotional overload and is a great form of self-care.

6. Empaths can become overwhelmed in intimate relationships
Too much togetherness can be difficult for an empath so we may avoid intimate relationships. Deep down we are afraid of being engulfed and losing our identity. I’m still processing this one but I do realize I often go wide but not deep, even though I believe I walk the face of the Earth masks free. It’s easier for me to intimate with large groups of people rather than not…again, it’s something I’m looking at.

7. Empaths are targets for energy vampires
An empath’s sensitivity makes us particularly easy marks for energy vampires, whose fear or rage can sap our energy and peace of mind. Vampires do more than drain an empath’s physical energy. The especially dangerous ones such as narcissists (they lack empathy and are only concerned with themselves) can make us believe we are unworthy and unlovable. Other vampires include the chronic talker, the incessant complainer and the drama queen…just to name a few.

8. Empaths become replenished in nature
The busyness of ever day life can be too much for an empath. The natural world nourishes and restores us. It helps us release our burdens and we take refuge in every-day-ordinary places like mountains, oceans and my personal favorite…on a boat at my favorite lake. 

9. Empaths have highly tuned senses
An empath’s nerves can get frayed by too much excess

Too much details. Too much talking. Too much activity in general.

10. Empaths have huge hearts but sometimes give too much
Empaths are big-hearted people and try to relieve the pain of others *which often leads us to “fix” or “save”* A homeless person holding a cardboard sign, “I’m hungry” at a busy intersection; a hurt animal; a distraught friend. It’s natural to want to reach out to them and ease their pain but empaths don’t stop there. Instead, we take it on. Suddenly we are the one feeling drained or upset whereas we felt fine before and often leads us to feeling take advantage of.

One of lessons I’ve learned this past year is that it is essiential to have an aresenal of tools to protect my sensitivities such as praying, fierce time management, setting limits and boundaries *NO is a complete sentence* and staying in my lane by and being mindful of the traffic in MY own thought and feeling life. Being an empath is a gift, especially when I partner with the Spirit of God, but I’m learning to take care of myself.

Self-care is NOT selfish. 

And I’m learning to not take things personally. The thought life or emotional roller coaster ride that others are on is not because of ME. I am not the axle in which the world rotates itself around.

Friends, we don’t always have to DO something with what is before us. We can actually choose what we pickup and what we put down and when things are dumped on us, we can rise up out of the heap, dust ourselves off and walk out of the crazy.

Sometimes it is one of the kindest things we can do. 

Maybe

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” 

“No.”

And with that I go to bed.

OK.”

My daily communication attempts trying to delve past talk of kids and business fail. It is glaringly obvious, it is our only common ground. I long for deep and healing here in this place, this vast ocean that looks consuming and my continued asking feels like nagging and drudgery.

Maybe he is right. Maybe there is nothing more to talk about. Maybe this is as good as it gets. And with that, I walk up the stairs and step into the bath, delving below the surface of my life.

The water has become a drug to me. The heat is calming and soothing and numbs out my raw and achy parts.

I’m basing the whole of who I am and my happiness on this marriage. I forgave quickly. I thought I’d never mention our latest snag again. I immediately became a busy little bee who opened up her heart wide. I thought I’d work and he’d work and we would meet somewhere in the middle and this could potentially be THAT happy ending. The ending we all hope for and dream is possible and maybe for some it is, but it takes more than one to dream, maybe more than that to hope.

A mustard seed…and I had it.

But there needs to be communication and not just for a day. Not just for two. We need to cultivate intimacy and by default, I’ve been crowned conversation initiator and my initiator is tired and worn out.

I no longer volunteer as tribute.

My brain tells me all sorts of good and needed truths and I know I am full and overflowing with knowledge of WHO I am but my heart tells me another story. My heart tells me I don’t feel valued or loved, that I’m sitting around waiting for scraps and someone else’s left overs. My heart tells me if I was more important things would change and go another direction. My heart tells me a lot of things…

And if I stay here, stuck in a place that continually perpetuates these lies, that is exactly where I’ll stay.

An orphan.

Actions or lack thereof speak pretty loudly.

I’ve got to get myself healthy, for indeed I am sick. I hear the voice of my counselor in my head, “Your heart is broken. You need to heal,” and I know he is right. It is broken and I need to give it time and trying to help someone else mend who perhaps isn’t quite ready is not helping…me. I am pouring way more into this then he is and I’m beginning to feel the strain of my expenditures. I just don’t have it in me to ask one more time, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Because essentially my tired refusal comes from a deep and hidden heart cry, “Would someone please pour into me first. I am empty. I no longer want to fix.”

And under the covering of the hot water that fills the tub, it becomes obvious.

The last time I turned someone over to the Lord with such resolve, my oldest son was six years old and was about to be airlifted to Hershey Medical Center for a skid loader accident. I remember standing over him as he was screaming, a mother whose heart was torn between what she could and couldn’t do, realizing, “There is nothing here I can. My very best works won’t help. But Jesus, if you exist, if you are alive and real, I believe you can help. He is yours.”

So I say it again, just the same.

“He is yours.”

I refuse to settle for anything less than what I know is possible.

“I Saw it Coming.”

 

I have this very creepy habit of possibly eavesdropping on other people’s conversations out in public. I call it active listening but I’ll use that term loosely since I’m not really a part OF the conversation. I can’t help it (says creepy people everywhere)… people intrigue me and I find myself sucked into their life into attempts to know them despite my best attempts not to.

 

 

The other day I was standing at the grocery store in a line that spanned the distance of forever and the couple behind me was talking about a friend of theirs who was just arrested for a DUI. They seemed to be genuinely concerned and I thought their sincerity was touching. However, one of them said something that absolutely caught my attention. They said,”

 

 

“I saw it coming.”

 

 

And the other person murmured in agreement. “I saw it too.”

 

 

I really didn’t want to listen anymore after that. I willed my ears to close as I stepped forward and proceeded to check out.

 

 

Those words really hurt my heart.

 

 

I wonder if people have seen it coming in me, in my life, and have turned and looked the other way. I wonder what people have become aware of and still…never reached out.

 

 

I wonder.

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the junk we have in our lives, at least I have been thinking of mine. And try as I might to find scripture condoning my need at times to point out other people’s trash, I just haven’t.

 

 

What I have found is this:

 

 

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:7-8

 

I read this and think when Jesus Christ Himself says, “IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAT I GO AWAY…” I better pay attention to WHY He says it is to my advantage.

 

 

And my WHY turns out to be a WHO. 

 

 

Holy Spirit.

 

 

I often forget I am not Holy Spirit. **NEWS FLASH** Jesus did not depart this world so I could make it my life mission convicting the world (aka my family and friends or my “friends” online) of the junk they may have in their heart. That is what He does, it is WHO He is.

 

 

And me? My part in all of this is to LOVE.

 

 

Plain and not so simple.

 

 

Yes, Jesus pretty much made that clear as crystal when He said,

 

 

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

 

I know love looks different for each and every one of us and sometimes, even “tough love” is still love when done with His leading and a open heart. I just know when I stood in that grocery store line the other day and heard the conversation from behind me; my heart broke into a hundred pieces for the gentleman with the DUI. The gentleman that obviously had his flag waving, “Hey. I’m heading down a dangerous path. I need some help; I’m just not quite sure how to reach out for it. Will someone see me? I know you see me. Will someone just love me enough to …”

 

 

Who knows? Maybe they did. Maybe someone had. Maybe this guy had tons of people cheering him on and trying to love him back to healthy and wholeness. In the end, just as it is not our job to convict people of their sin, it is also not our job to reach in and save them from the depths. We will exhaust ourselves from trying.

 

 

I’m a recovering fixaholic. I know how that all goes.

 

 

So friends, if you “see it coming” in someone’s life…please reach into them.

 

 

Not to convict them.

 

 

Not to fix them.

 

 

But to love them.

 

 

Not sure how? I have this friend and His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Room 

The perfect morning to me is a cup of coffee, the couch and a book and time void of hustle and rush. Slow. Slow makes it truly, truly perfect and as Chief Hopper says in the very first episode of Stranger Things

“MORNINGS ARE FOR COFFEE AND CONTEMPLATION.”

And this morning I found myself having it all. The coffee, the couch and book…with plenty of time to get lost in some thought or some conversation and they walk right past, stuck in their morning routine, just the same.

“Come sit with me for a bit,” I say and I make room on the couch. I want more than just the normal Sunday Morning. I want their presence.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about PEOPLE. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that Christmas? I think of people in particular…their role in my life, my role in theirs and our influence on one another. I’ve been asking a lot of questions, gleaning a few answers and in between doing a lot of soul-searching.

There is more to life then living from here to there. There is a place in between.

In the past few days I’ve sat with people when it wasn’t convenient or easy and through it, I’ve realized once more how important it is to give each other our presence. We all want to be seen and heard and sometimes, most times, I liken all of humanity to the old stainless steel tea-pot that sits on my gas stove: We take time to warm up. We don’t want hurried along like we are an appointment on someone’s calendar or an errand they are running that can eventually be crossed off their list.

But sadly, most times, that is what we get.  Remnants of someone’s leftovers, their seconds, their hurry, their less than best.

Looking back now, I can see where that rush has caused more than a problem or two. Lack of presence places Constance where intact should be forged and before you know it, it’s easy to feel like distrusting strangers.

I think it’s the people in my every day crazy, when things aren’t calm and slow, that I’ve needed to pay closest attention to. The ones I’m most likely to whiz right by or take for granted have needed my solid and sturdy legs to remain strong yet bendy so I could ask simple and basic questions.

**Like**

“How are you?”

How many times do we dig our heels in and wade through the awkward silence for their answer? Their REAL answer.

Not many enough.

Conversely, last night as I was putting on my shoes, a random thought popped into my head. I thought of one person in particular, one I’ve been giving too much time and attention to though they havn’t been anywhere in my travels, no where in my circles but they indeed have been taking up space in the thoughts inside my head. As I laced up my last shoe, I didn’t think but more RESOLVED that they were a common denominator in too many of my here-and-now-life-problems. Too much of what I have rolling on the inside of me has their name attached and just like that… I made the decision to take them out of my equation.

And I realized I can do that.

Just. Like. That.

I’ve been giving them too much space through no fault of their own and in the big picture, it’s been frustrating. I’ve allowed their influence to tip some scale inside my life in a less than life-giving way and I refuse to carry them with me into the New Year.

I choose to no longer give them a seat on the couch that is housed in a room within my head. I stood tall after tying my shoes and within moments, showed them to the door. I don’t need to think about them or talk about them because to do so, places an unhealthy, unbalanced importance where it shouldn’t and afterwards, I’ve wondered WHY I’ve ever given away such a powerful choice.

And the sad but wonderful thing about this moment, in the midst of shoes and laces is this…

My resolve has nothing to do with an actual person as first assumed. Sure there’s a name but in the grand scheme of things, it could be a hundred names. They were merely just a representation of a festering wound and I think I needed someone, essentially anyone, to blame.

And since blaming does no good.

Here’s the door.

Be free.

What they represented to me has to go. I need to make room in my heart for vision and hope and joy and laughter and I don’t want to make time for the incessant chatter things past try to hold me to.

We need to free up space friends for real people. Not for the stupid things people do or our assumptions about them. Not for past hurts that keep replaying like a broken record. Not for our offenses or the sordid scenarios that we play and then rewind again and again in our head. Sometimes it IS as simple as refusing to give those thoughts an audience and if it means for a while that the name that’s attached goes unmentioned so you can quit your bad habit, then let it be so. Go cold turkey. Do whatever you can to think favorably again.

It’s not about cutting our losses. We need to look at the rooms within our homes and examine what is filling them. Sometimes it gets a little crowded with stuff and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have a full house, I’d rather have it packed with presence. People presence. Not poor thinking OF people presence because at the end of the day, negative attention is STILL attention and takes up space. An awful lot of it.

Friends I’m short on time and like you, I want to make my time count. I want my presence count. If I have any resolutions this year it is this:

want the person standing in front of me to walk away knowing they were heard and seen **THAT THEY WERE LOVED** and I want my thoughts to count.

I don’t have people to waste. I don’t have thoughts OF people to waste.

Neither do you.

let it happen 

We had two small dogs and one cat. Then we began raising puppies for The Seeing Eye and adopted the first one we raised back because she did not pass her testing. Then this cat got dropped off at our house and then and then and then…

Let me start over. We have three dogs and two cats PLUS we raise puppies for The Seeing Eye. This past weekend alone, meaning SUNDAY…we had several animal related incidents and when I say several, I mean way more than two, the worst being the Seeing Eye puppy was bit by a poisonous snake on a family hike. Long and short of it is, she’s going to recover despite the fact that her face is severely swollen due to the toxins from the bite plus she’s tired and a whole lot of sore but through it all, I’m keeping the main thing, the main thing….she’s alive.

So I crawled into bed late Sunday night grateful.

AND THEN…

Our four year-old lab, our adopted back wonder pet, crawled under our very large king-size bed in the middle of the night and made the most gut-wrenching of all sounds and I just didn’t have the energy or the can-do to wake up and hurriedly grab her, pull her out from the pits of hell, drag her heaving body down the steps and out the front door to glisten under the moon light.

So I let it happen.

And my husband says, “Aren’t you going to do something?”

No. No I am not.

So I went back to bed.

For those of you who don’t have animals, you are thanking God at this very moment for that decision. If you are not a pet lover, you may not get why us pet owners endure the things we do for our animals, but I liken the whole thing to having kids whom you love that wet the bed, throw up in the middle of the night or destroy freshly painted walls with crayons.

Pets and kids…sometimes there’s little difference between the two.

Point being, that massively large dog who army crawled under our bed in the middle of the night is an accurate portrait of what life looks like at times. It’s during these moments, I often find myself half asleep, trying to grab the dog out from underneath the bed by its hind legs, just hoping we make it out the door before a ginormous mess occurs. I step in and deal, adjust, fix, mend, plan.

I CONTROL.

And I just can’t anymore. I’m not that great at it anyway. In fact, I kind of suck.

I’ve become increasingly aware this past year through a series of events that I often step in too quickly with my actions and/or with my words because I am afraid. Afraid to let others be responsible for their own choices. Afraid to set limits that say “This is what I am and am not going to do.” Afraid the dog’s gut-wretching sound in the middle of the night means my carpet is going to be ruined, thereby destroying the look of the home. MY house. Do you hear what I’m saying? I am afraid how YOU and your stuff will affect ME.

REFLECT me.

Fear.

It’s lulled me to sleep.

And in my slumber, I’ve never fully allowed myself to BE who I was created to be so I can’t imagine extending you the honor.

Because living is messy. Pieces fall to the ground and clutter fills the floor with debris.

On my carpet. In my home.

And what if one day, on MY watch, you crawl under the bed and need help in the middle of the night…

Isn’t it my job to save you? To mend? To fix?

Will be enough if I just stand in it WITH you, responsible TO you and not FOR you?

Yes.

The other night my decline made space for my husband to get up and take care of the dog. In fact, I would have made space for ANYONE in the room if they were there. I didn’t have the expectation that he would get up and I wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t. I rested in knowing I was done for the day. If I were to become involved, it could wait.

I could. 

I felt empowered and free in that chaotic moment, in the bigger picture…in my life full of uncertainties late at night with that gut-wrenching sound happening beneath my bed. It is one of the craziest of all things but it grabbed my attention enough to wake me up. I made sense out of a whole lot of life in a moment and it was holy.

Friends, let it happen. Surely the sky will not fall on your head.

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.

On To The Next

The pounding of my feet can barely be heard over the continuous humming of the treadmill. I appreciate knowing that right now, the gym is an option and at the same time, loathe it. I am using it as an excuse to not run outside and I know it. I was made to run outside and I can feel myself wanting to hurry my time along to get done. The humming continues and I look down.

.67     .69     .75

3 miles is going to feel like FOREVER if I keep watching the distance tracker roll another number by.

.89

F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

Give me a cloud to look at or a conversation with a running partner to occupy my mind. Anything. I liken running on the treadmill to watching the grass grow or paint dry. The more I WATCH, the more IMPATIENT I become with WAITING. I have never been much of a WAITER.

The TV above my head is on. I watch it to distract myself. It’s the news. I’d rather watch the numbers scroll by…

.95    1.4    1.7

Good God.

Perhaps what I do in my job aides in my feeling the need to hurry. We own a transportation company so it is my job to make quick decisions and respond in a way that problem solves on the spot. I easily find myself getting into the habit of “On To The Next” where I continuously move from one person to the next, one circumstance to the next since there is seldom time to waste. Perhaps that too is an excuse and rushing through is just some bad habit that I need to seriously break. Either way, I am purposefully positioning myself to practice presence so I can fully BE in the moment, even if it is on the torturous treadmill with its slow rhythmic hum.

One thing that has become glaringly obvious to me over time is that when I HURRY, most of my mistakes are made when I do so. I react instead of taking the time to rightly respond. I make decisions that necessarily didn’t have to be made quite as quickly because I want a fix like 10 minutes ago. The sad reality is that HOW I’ve responded has created most of the issues I’ve encountered in life.

But here is the thing:

Most things, if given time, will work themselves out.

Most things, if given time, reveal what is best, needed and true.

If given time.

Hands off. Eyes off. This is sometimes best.

Walking away for a bit and creating space allows things to grow and dry. Space can aide in the cultivation of a soil that can reap a richer harvest, hosting stronger roots. Time surely can be a friend if eyes are taken off of what is the perceived issue and placed on what perhaps is the REAL one.

WHAT am I responding to?

WHY am I responding?

WHEN is the best time for me to respond?

WHO am I?

In the past, I’ve thought that the person in front of me or the issue at hand has been THE issue but it seldom has been. I have been. My response always reveals MY identity, WHO I am and really has little or nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It is my desire this year to intentionally think before I respond so I reveal my identity, which at the end of the day reveals HIS. Once I remember WHO I am, I rightly know who/what I’m responding to and if it needs addressed at that particular time or even at all. I’m tired of going around and jumping in quickly to put out every fire I see. I cannot hurry to fix it all by wearing some heroic badge on the scene of every accident, even if it is my job in real life. When I slow myself down and live out Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above ALL else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it” I rightly respond and can trust my heart without regrets. When I take the time to KNOW and BE KNOWN and not hurry life by, I live fully by Faith, in Hope and am Love. Perhaps there is more all to it but I don’t think so.

So friends, pay attention but not too close. Outsides things tend to be a distraction from rightly guarding your inside territory and your heart is too valuable not to guard. Practice going slower and allowing your heart to be searched so that you know WHAT, WHY, WHEN and WHO you are responding to. Guarding is KEY. It takes INTENTIONALITY so you will have to lose your flippant attitude if you have one. Hurrying happens when you step down from your post and make decisions outside of your identity so stand firm. The world around you needs you to remain diligent.

On to the next will come soon enough but start what you finish…

And enjoy what you started.

 

 

 

 

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