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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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stuff

The Further Journey

I cannot find my lipstick. I cannot find it in my purse, my bag or any of the pockets in my coat. I forgo showering trying to find it and spend the next hour trying remember when the last time was that I used it.

I rack my brain. Where is it?

It drives me crazy. I wish I knew where it was so I could resume regular living but instead, I’m stuck, consumed with trivial things.

It’s just a tube of lipstick, “Bombshell” I believe is it’s name and it’s part of the system I’ve put in place that helps me feel safe, protected and such. Just knowing where it’s at, HAVING it, tricks my brain into believing I am enough IF I have enough lipsticks.

And sweaters, shoes, shampoos. Bracelets and books.

Books on how to break free from bracelets and books.

And all they do is suffocate me and make me feel like I am drowning under a heavy and thick layer of ooze, of shoes. I can’t find it. I’ll go buy another. Because I must have it.

Obsessive Compulsion much?

A process I have run from my entire life is before me and I believe deep within myself despite how it looks or feels, it is a gift.

I resolve this time to go all the way through, to the very end and beyond, to the further side. It would be wasteful of me not to.

Seriously, this is a gift horse and I know it.

Only time will tell if I see it to the end.

The last several weeks have been just about the worst. The Holidays came and went, our son was Home and is now gone again and during that period of time, problems were placed neatly on the shelf. The Holiday hiatus is now over and it is time to keep moving forward.

Yet part of the problem is I feel at a standstill.

I don’t want to remain shelved.

Roni, a very wise friend of mine, encouraged me the other day to stay focused on the solution rather than the problem. Easier said than done and I know those who have walked through life and the joys and sufferings of it, will agree.

It is difficult to not get consumed by life’s “problems”, hence washed away by some giant wave that often feels and looks like a Tsunami and has the potential to take out the entire planet, or at least my own private island and right now, my kingdom is in jeopardy.

I’m not sleeping well or eating much. My thoughts are consumed with the bigger picture, of what may happen, but as washed by the waves as I am, I drown myself in worship and  in prayer and resolve to continually place my thoughts on the solution.

What is the solution?

I am. I need to make different choices.

I know the power to overcome lives within me. Any answer that I am seeking dwells there because I believe Jesus is who He says He is and if He is, so am I.

I also know there is a process in each of us that needs to be fulfilled to completion and until it is, it will chase us down as a predator hunts its prey. It is inevitable. We may play hide and seek the entirety of our lives trying to avoid it or disillusion ourselves thinking we are done when maybe we were only half way through. We may tell ourselves that halfway is good enough and that our bandages will stick but in reality, they eventually fall worn to the ground and we get used to our limp.

Maybe our process will not end.

Maybe the end is not ever the end.

I do know that in order to move forward, there is always something that has to be let go of, moved beyond from, given up or forgiven. Baggage is heavy and to continue to make progress, we have to be made light. Maybe that’s why so often we cut the process short. We grow attached to our stuff, even the heavy and hard. Even unhealthy attachments are attachments nonetheless.

And I have a lot to let go of.

The price may seem higher for the addict who prostitutes for a fix than it is for the addict who merely spends their entire paycheck on a new wardrobe, but ultimately both pay with their lives.

And I am tired of paying with mine when Jesus loved me enough to pay with His.

Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results – Albert Einstein

I know we may all have our vices, our little fixes we gravitate towards when the sky feels like it is falling on our heads and our lungs get so tight we can’t breathe. I’m sure we may have all been drawn toward something to help, something to fill our empty places.

Drinking

Eating

Drugs

Sex

Exercising

Shopping

Social Media

Gambling

The ante keeps escalating and I can’t keep up. My fix is no longer fixing…I don’t know if it ever did except to lull the real me to sleep and numb me from the noise.

So today I made a call, this week I’ll take a step. I am going to attend my first Celebrate Recovery meeting which is similar to AA and is a Christ centered approach to recovery. I’ve thought about going for years but as things like this go, things got better, things got worse. It wasn’t the right time. I thought I was at a good place. It’s just shopping. Everyone likes shopping and I had a hold of the reigns real tight. I was in control and in charge.

Turns out the reigns have had their hold on me.

Tight.

To those whose minds consume them whole till they begin and then finish, you may understand.

Binge and Purge. It’s what those of us who create systems do. We are wildly all in or all out. There is no middle ground. We erect tiny safe havens within ourselves that we go, that we hide, like the Mall to feel safe. We buy new sweaters to feel pretty.

Sometimes I wish I sat a bar.

But no. Instead I am lost in my house for over an hour looking for my latest lipstick.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter.

 

It doesn’t matter what it is that I DO, it doesn’t matter one bit. What matters most is that I desire to be free, completely.

And this baggage cannot go with me where I am heading. I am scared but I am unashamed.

I need to be made light in order to journey there.

 

 

 

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fester 

I can feel it flowing through my veins. Toxins are trying to poison my soul. There are things that have not been talked about recently and I take the lack of initiation on any part, other than mine, poorly. 

The long and the short is this: I want to stop reaching becuase I want to be reached INTO and my “ I wont if you wont” attitude is seemingly costing me a great deal. Anger is festering. Communication has been waining and open to interpretation, which becomes a free-for-all for assumptions, which I know better than to make. 

I appears we are not on the same page and that feeling adds extra weight to my gut. I don’t know how we’ll ever move forward because at the end of the day, weeks later, here we are. Same ole. Same ole. Time and space have crept in and the hot water has slowly turned to not so hot at all. Nothing has really changed. Nothing has really been talked about and as much as I sit, telling myself, “Just focus on yourself. YOU keep moving forward,” there is this undeniable reality that I’m not the only one here.

We both are. 

So I go back to “Who am I?” 

I AM a communicator.

“If that is WHO you are, march yourself downstairs and communicate.”

Sometimes I really loathe the voice of reason and wisdom within myself.

And I do. I bound down the steps and plop myself in my chair and as much as I don’t think it is my turn or duty (which often feels like an obligatory noose) to continue to reach forward, I do. I initiate. I communicate.

“I think we need to talk.”

And there is agreement from both sides in this statement.

Not much is solved but we both walk away and doors are left opened.

I have a picture in my head of taking the doors of my heart off its hinges. I see myself throwing them into the flames along with our very dead Christmas tree that lays on the ground outside our house…watching it disintegrate into nothingness.

I don’t think my heart was created to find refuge in doors.

 

 

 

Making Sense Out of Christmas 

I woke up early this morning and said good-bye to our son. His ninety-six hour leave would come to an end in a few hours and he has to report back for three days before he could venture home again. I hug him and his girlfriend tight and tell them to be safe and that I love them, all the things I’m growing accustomed to saying when we part ways and moments later I crawl back to bed. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep and I wonder if I had truly woken up because sleep comes quickly and the minutes spent saying good-bye now feels like a dream.

I wake up for real several hours later and take the dogs out. The thought of heading to the barn crosses my mind but the thought of hot coffee nags and wins. I resolve to feed my miniature pig Rosie the next time I’m out and walk through the front door. My brain scans the living room that houses an incredibly dead Christmas tree and I begin plotting out my day.

It’s time to make sense out of Christmas.

Needles lace the floor and I almost cannot see the carpet. I’m not really sure what happened because I never missed a beat and was faithful in watering but I apparently missed something somewhere because evidence points to the obvious. It is dead. The tree has got to go…today.

The dog quickly finds a candy cane and then shortly after, a forgotten toy, and I feel as if I never stopped raising toddlers and somewhere between the living room and the coffee pot, I remind myself to go slow and smile because smiling is important.

I get to work.

I start in the kitchen and eventually meander my way back to the living room; sorting, unpackaging…trying to find a place for everything that was recently brought into this home. “Christmas is more than this,” I remind myself. It is more than the gifting and the eating and the cleaning.

But today it feels just like that and I am done.

An hour later, my husband comes into the house and tells me he went out to feed the chickens and found Rosie. She had died sometime between when I fed her yesterday morning and today. At first I have no words. I really don’t even know what to say about a pig I wasn’t supposed to love.

But did.

I think of our barn and how it’s housed calves, chickens, 4-H pigs and now little Rosie. I think of the smell, the cobwebs, the mice and the dirt and I wonder if moving Rosie from our home to the barn a few years was a good move. Did we cut her life short in the transfer? My brain scrambles to make sense and it can’t. Was she old in miniature pigs years? Was I feeding her enough? She was social and here I stuck her in the barn, no longer having room for her in my house. I don’t have answers so I shake my head and resolve to let those thoughts go. It will do no good to sort that out because there is no sorting. My little pig is dead.

The most random of all pictures comes to my head; a feeding trough. It’s one of the dirtiest and foulest things in a barn if not kept clean and I instantly think of how Jesus was laid in one at His birth. I don’t know why I think of this at the same time I think of that little pig, laying cold on the barn floor but I do.

I think of the packages that fill my home and the needles from my dead tree that fill the floor and the list of all the things I want to get done and thoughts of my son still flutter through my head. I look around the kitchen at my husband and kids. They sit, both quiet and compassionate, waiting for me to respond terribly with tears, but I don’t. It would be awkward to cry over a little pig and I do awkward enough. 

This is what I tell myself.

I think in my trying to make sense out of Christmas, I was trying to package Christmas up so I could move forward and get back to life as normal. I wanted to move forward from the gifts. Move forward from the floor laced with needles. Move forward from the busy and the chaos and the goodbyes.

And here all along, Jesus was reaching into me from the barn, reminding me there is no normal to move on to. He was trying to show me what Christmas really is: Love comes in unexpected ways and in unexpected forms. Jesus, the baby in the manager who I now call my closest friend, reminds me to open my heart wide; unbiased and unrestricted. Hours later I give myself permission to cry, even if just for a little and I wonder if the Innkeeper had known who Jesus was if he would have given him more than just the barn, more than just a feeding trough, more than…

So I choose today to not put Christmas away. I choose to stay focused on my family as I walk around the clutter as needles cling to my feet. I choose to allow my heart to relentlessly love who and what it loves, to be surprised when the unexpected stranger knocks on its door and to embrace the unsuspecting.

One thing we should never have to do is apologize for our hearts.

 

Longing

Thanksgiving hits every year and I begin. I purge. I think it started years ago when the reality of Christmas continually hit me. One child, two child, three child, five. Christmas and all its stuff overwhelmed me so every year, every Thanksgiving Day weekend, I begin.

The back of my Jeep has been full of boxes and bags and I have a room in my home that continually collects the stuff I’d rather not have but just haven’t figured out what to do with, stuff that is easily discarded because I JUST WANT IT OUT. So this year I asked myself WHY?

WHY can I so easily toss out those shirts and shoes, those plates and cups?

WHY can my kids so easily discard what was once a favorite toy?

For me it comes down to one thing and one thing alone.

I NEVER really wanted it.

It is easy to discard what never really held any value. Maybe a thought pops in my head of the money that I spent but at the end of the day, meh. I really can do without it because it never really added anything TO me. In fact, I am learning the more stuff I have in my life that I never really wanted, the more the well within me deepens to collect even more. It’s like some ravenous pit, never fulfilling or fully satisfying.

I wish when I was younger someone would have sat me down and asked, “What is it that you really want?” Perhaps they did and I was rebellious and stubborn and their questioning made me more determined to go after what I thought I SHOULD instead of honing in on what I wanted. Perhaps I never even knew that was a question that could be asked. “What do you mean, “What is it that you really want? I want the same things as you. To be happy, healthy. To have a great job maybe some kids, find true love…blah blah blah.””

I had no idea HOW to dig deeper to find out what I wanted in life. I did not know how to sit with myself and discover what was really IN me and because I never took the time. I was like some butterfly fluttering along, filling my life with things (and at times people) that I could easily discard. Instead of waiting for what and who I REALLY wanted, I took what was available. What was quick. What was easy.

AND I KNEW IT.

Frustration is a friend when you know you are settling. Anger, bitter resentment… constant companions. When you know that you hold in your hands something you’d really rather not have or you’re stepping into doing something that you know is really not for you, it strips a part of YOU away. It dulls your senses a bit each time you say YES when you should have said NO or NOT NOW because you know it’s not where you are to BE and if you’re not careful, you can go from one thing to the next searching.

One job to the next. One church to the next. One relationship to the next…

Tired and worn.

As a mother of five, I have encouraged my children to WAIT. WAIT for the ONE because the last thing I want for them is to give away their time, their feelings or their bodies to someone who does not see their value and identity and will not commit to them relationaly. I don’t want them giving pieces of themselves away flippantly to anyone and everyone. WHY? Because I know. I know the cost attached to doing so and it is steep. I want my children to VALUE WHO THEY ARE, so I encourage waiting.

As an adult, I am NO different.

I am finding that whenever there is a lack within myself, I quickly try to fix it by adding something or someone to my life. I bring in another outfit. I volunteer with another organization. I find another friendship. None of these things are wrong or bad. Clothes are needed as naked people have little to no influence in society…I am sure you get my point.

Things, doings and relationships can be used to fulfill deeper longings within us if we are not careful. Places where God Himself wants to reside. Places where He wants to takes us deeper. Places where HE want to fulfill.

In order to know what it is that we WANT, we first have to know WHO we are.

If there is anything I have discovered over the last two-years, it is this: Take the time, MAKE the time, to discover WHO you are. What is on the inside of YOU? What are you passionate about and WHY? Why do you do the things that you do? Why do you respond the way that you do? I could go on and on…the point is, ask yourself questions that go far beyond the “What you want to do when you grow up?” Try instead, “WHO do you want to be?” When you take time to ask yourself questions that you never knew to ask yourself because you were just too busy living everyone else’s version of you, you will begin to HONE IN and embody YOUR identity. You will gravitate towards HAVING things DOING things that support and encourage your real identity to shine bright. You will be drawn to the right people…YOUR people.

So friends, take the time. Ask yourself the hard questions. Don’t sell yourself short and fill your life with things that really never had value TO YOU and don’t VALUE YOU. Emptiness will overwhelm you, it is a mere distraction. Stay focused and intentional on what is on the inside of you; your goals and your dreams. What is on your heart? Steps are necessary but those steps should always line up with what is already on the inside of you. Don’t waste any more time going after what it is not…

Discover what it is you are truly longing for. It will tak you back to WHO you are.

Much Love-

August

 

Round Table Discussion:

Look at the stuff in your house, your weekly calendar and where/who you spend your time with.

Now ask yourself the hard questions. You’ll know the ones…

 

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