No more petting

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I have a jacket that is crazy soft and so comfy. Literally it feels like a warm blanket with arm holes but WAY better than a Snuggy. I LOVE this jacket. When I wear it around the house it is inevitable that my family will reach out and touch it. Once they do, they fall in love and find it hard to stop petting it. They love how it feels so much, when I am out of town they have been know to ask if they can sleep with it!

I also have a teal pillow on my over sized chair in the living room that if you ever visit my house, I will force you to touch. I am slightly embarrassed that I even spent $30 on a pillow but making people touch it helps me feel better about the indulgence b/c once they do, they will understand. Its life-changing.

Im telling you all of this to emphasize from the get go: I am a lover of all things soft. I too process feelings through the art of touch. In fact, my secondary love language is physical touch so if you’ve been around me you know I, like Olaf, love a good warm hug. Touch in and of itself is a beautiful way to connect with another human being.

But there are times when it would be most appropriate to ask permission to touch someone or something. For example, when I was pregnant, it took a little getting used to how people would approach my belly like a separate piece of my body and start petting it and talking to it. Some people don’t think twice but I would prefer it when people took my feelings into consideration and asked first.  Or if someone was walking with their dog, isn’t it common knowledge by now that you should always ask the owner IF you can pet the animal BEFORE reaching down your hand to do so? It just makes sense.

So here is the rub for me and I will say it as nicely and as plainly as I can…

Please stop petting my daughter.

I know Jaydn has beautifully soft skin (I do too- shameless plug for Rodan+Fields). But a smooth skin texture does not warrant the same form of touch as my comfy jacket or life-changing pillow does. It also doesn’t equate to how you would approach touch for a pregnant belly or an animal.

Think about this a little … Let’s say you give me a hug and notice that my skin is really soft (it is thanks to Rodan+Fields). I don’t know anyone who would spend the next 5-10 minutes rubbing their hand up and down my arm while we carried on in conversation. Yet that has happened on multiple occasions to my daughter.

Why?

Of course I have my speculations but I won’t project them onto anyone else unfairly. So for now I will just challenge YOU to ask yourself the question WHY? Is that appropriate? Would it be socially acceptable in any other circumstance? I am relatively sure you will conclude that it’s not

It seems preposterous to many that I am even having to address this issue but you have NO IDEA how often this comes up in regards to my daughter.

If you’d like to know where I got my jacket or pillow, I will be happy to pass along that information. I will even lend you one of my many soft blankets and let you pet my dog if you need to but my daughter is a different story entirely. So please, no more petting.

 

The hero within.

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Some people need a hero. A knight that swoops in and rescues. An oracle to make sense of all the shattered pieces. They only apply padded answers and cliche’s to the wounds. Put a pretty bow on this messy life and say it’s all going to be ok. Better yet, they just teach you how to pretend it is now and maybe someday it will be true. You can’t throw money at every problem and laughter doesn’t take away all the tears. They remain: buried maybe but not dead.

True healing comes when you break. When you stop hiding and start showing. When you stop preaching and start learning. When you stop searching for a hero and become the hero of your own story by utilizing the heroic spirit within you.

Real help comes from within the trench, not the sanitary edge where rose colored glasses are bought and sold by the master of ceremonies. The hand that truly provides can only do so when you aren’t so busy looking for the next handout.

I saw through your cape and I heard what you said under your breath when you thought no one was listening. I am no fool. I won’t play pretend. Continue your charade and gather up your puppets but I am not among them. No strings attached. No manipulating me.

Only the pierced hands can be near my need. Hands I can trust b/c they are dirty…like mine. Hands of the beaten, hated, invisible and bruised One: by me, for me, like me. Oh the treasure of a free gift. There is nothing so pure. I wish you all could know it too but you settle for the fix. The plug. The facade as you all recite your line, “Its all going to be ok. My external hero says so .”

He gives me the tools. He builds strength in me. He trains for the road I travel on. He doesn’t pretend its not there. He doesn’t say its going to be easy. He doesn’t swoop in and take away the process so that I only get the rewards. He shows me how. He walks it with me. He meets me step for step like a friend. He doesn’t enable, He equips!

Why me?

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I often ask this question. Not to anyone specific but in my head. To life in general. Ultimately my soul questions The Craftsman. “Is this what you intended? Was this what you had in mind when you made me? Are you sure I’m built for this?”

The question could be a symbol of gratitude. Why me? Why do I have a marriage that is lasting? Why do I have kids that are a blessing to not just me but others? Why do I have a community no matter where I am in my, seemingly endless, metamorphosis?

More often, the question indicates anger. Why me? Why did the bottom drop out as a result of someone else’s choice? Why couldn’t I be a child when I was a child? Why do I have to watch and walk through so much death, destruction and disappointment?

Why me? Its a universal question.

The temptation is to hide the question when it hurts. To band-aid it with false mantras. Why NOT me. Pretending the sting isn’t real and convincing others it’s ok and I will be fine. That may be true. Its not yet.

For now, the ache is debilitating. It’s silence, deafening. The question is heavy and it’s ok to buckle under the weight of it.

I don’t wish it away anymore. It reminds me. Broken places that point to truth: I am not in control. The good and the hard alike, happen. They happen to me. They happen to everyone.

Why me often leads to me too.

My favorite phrase of all time. The perfect balm for any heart. Me too. You are not alone. I’ve been there. Its not exact. No cookie cutters. Not a mirror image. Only, I’ve walked a road near yours and Im here now.

Oh the saving grace of that knowing.

It doesn’t change anything but you. The struggle continues but deep down you know you will sing again. Rise up because someone showed you you could. Take what you have been dealt and continuing to play. You walk with a limp now so I will slow down my pace.

Follow the path that “Why me?” travels down. Let it lead you. May you find your resting place in the comforting arms of, “Me too!”

What are you afraid of?

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This page. I have so much to say. A blank page intimidates me.

Why?

Because I want to write. I want to express. I want to share everything that I have in my head and my heart in such a way that it changes lives, changes people, changes paths, changes perspectives and changes me.

So write.

Oh if only it were that easy. You see, writing is vulnerable. Writing is opening your wounds and your soft, squishy parts up to the world hoping, but never knowing if, they won’t tear you to shreds. Its laying it all out there and praying its not used against you or anyone else to cause harm.

People don’t just leave words on a page. They give their own life to them. They pick up what I have written, send it through their filters, chew it up and spit it out in a form that wasn’t intended. These words, my words, get twisted and sharp and hurt instead of heal. But that is not what they were created for.

These words, my words, are here for me. They are here for the person that can draw a refreshing breath from them. My words are His words of love and care and kindness and hope. The story may be messy but the purpose is so beautiful. The road may be painful but the growth gives me wings. The refining is scary and I can get mad but He remains good. Always good.

This journey, my journey is like a song. A movement of lyric and sound that can compel and withdraw. From every grand ascension or down turn, there is motion, a progression. Its not about the last note, its about the composition, the swells and the quiet spaces along the way.

Oh but its not a song all can sing. Its not a song all can hear, without a casting of judgement and dislike or applause and ovations. But that is not what the song was created for. This song, my song, was composed for me to sing it. To write it. To muscle through the fear of true vulnerability and put my heart on the page and let people see it.

Oh blank page. You intimidate me. You, the reader, intimidate me. I’ve been struck by your swords before. I bear the scars of your disapproval and the marks of your stones cast. But the Author, the Composer, beckons me to write … to sing, these words. My words.

Do with it what you will. For when I write, when I sing, I feel His pleasure. May I find refuge in that alone. A safe harbor from your discontent. I don’t write for you. And yet, I write for you. I sing so that you may be empowered to sing. I write so you may be encouraged to write. I show up so you can stand tall and be present and keep your chin up long enough to see the end of the passing, fleeting, storm. We are all in this together.

Be gentle dear reader. If you cannot, I pray you will find it in your heart to move on. Attack not. Judge not. Unless what you pour out upon my song is a harmony and upon my words a definition that makes you smile, carry on. You are invited to this table. But only love is welcome to stay and eat.

What are you afraid of?

Nothing. No thing anymore.

Mom Life

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There is a lot of shame wrapped up in being a mother. Everywhere you go, or even online, you are comparing yourself to the other moms and even if you weren’t, the general public is VERY outspoken about their opinions of how you do things as a mother. Its as if there is a RIGHT way to do it and anything that diverges, even slightly, from that way makes the way you do it wrong. Makes YOU (as the mother) wrong. Its a very critical place to spend most of your time and energy. Plus the rugrats you are exerting all that time, attention, energy and love for don’t exactly give you the affirmation you are needing along the way. It doesn’t matter what you do, at least once a day you disappoint someone. More often than not, we disappoint ourselves. We thought we’d be different. We thought we’d be “better” (whatever that means).

I have been a mother for almost 11 years now so it has reached across two age seasons for me- my 20’s and 30’s. While I am more secure in who I am in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s, the difficulties of being a mother remain the same. I am now in that place where I don’t want to sit on the floor and play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains/etc anymore. Ive been doing it so long I feel like Ive served my time and I want to move on with my life. But all day long I push swings and blow bubbles and cheer over every silly face and jump off the couch because my kids need that affirmation from me. The affirmation I need and desire, I give. Imagine if the tables were turned and every time I washed a plate or folded the laundry or picked up the play room for the 17th time my kids applauded and cheered. It would either be really rewarding or uber cheesy. Even still I think I would like it, if only for a little while. But thats not my life. Thats not a mother’s life. Scripture says that one day my children will call be blessed (Proverbs 31:28) so I cling to that promise, but today is not that day.

The thing that boggles my mind is that there is still a stigma out there for women who don’t feel like they were born to be mothers. While I have always been a nurturing person that loved kids, it was never a plan of mine to become a mom, or a wife for that matter. (I can hear the gasps from here!!) Yet, here I am, being both on a daily basis! I don’t think Im a mom or wife because I am a women and that is what I am “supposed” to do. What I do believe is that this is the path God had for me (specifically) to be totally stretched beyond my abilities and strengths. Being a mom and wife are the two main ways I have been challenged to grow. Had I ended up living in a hut in Uganda like I planned, single and childless, I would be way more comfortable right now. But God isn’t as concerned with my comfort as He is my character. Being a mom (and wife) builds the crap out of my character. I am challenged daily to love beyond my resources which presses me into the depths of the One who loves me, and them, most of all.

My kids know I love them. They also know that I have dreams of doing other things with my time and energy. Until then, I will play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains etc on the floor and applaud their every move. Because deep down I know, God sees each dish I wash, each swing I push, and each meal I prepare and He is cheering me on.

I may not be the kind of mother you were or are, but I am a mother and one day my children will rise up and call me blessed. I will cling to that for now.

Sacred space

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“God cannot fill a place until it’s empty.” Those words came to me during a heart battle I was having one day. One minute I was content, grateful to the point of tears and basking in the beauty that is my life and the next I was in fetal position in a chair in the corner of my room weeping from the wounds of my past.  My attempt at pretending like I was ok and that I would toughen my way through it again just moments earlier, gave way to the nudges of God, calling me to come rest in Him. So I retreated, crawled into His lap and wept. Wept at the gaping hole in my heart I have tried to pretend wasn’t there for most of my life. Mourning the loss of what I was created for but never received. Tears for the disappointment I was feeling and the exhaustion I was suffering from for always trying to make it somehow explainable, excusable and ok. It’s not. It’s not ok, explainable, or excusable. I was broken into a million pieces in a matter of minutes but only after I tried to fill the space and the silence. I went to God first to talk, or pray as some call it. But every sentence felt empty as if only a shell of what I really wanted. I was asking God to fill in the gaps, to consume the place in me that felt barren but He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Then those words drifted across my striving soul, “God cannot fill a place until it’s empty.” I knew what I needed to do. I emptied myself. Pouring out anger, hurt, bitterness and resentment through tears, soaking the chest of my Father. Shortly thereafter, my Abba sent my husband to physically take form as the loving, strong and comforting arms I needed. Once I was empty, my soul rested. Only then could I hear His sweet whispers again.

He filled me. But not until I made space for Him to. God cannot fill a place until it’s empty.

Permission to…

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About 2 years ago I was prompted to write a blog post on here about giving yourself permission to be weak, take care of yourself, or simply sleep! Recently, the theme of “permission” came to the surface again from a book I am in the process of reading. It was a very small section of a long chapter and yet, its the nugget of thought I took with me and been chewing on ever since. As I often do, I write when I need to chew so bear with me as I get this processing out on virtual paper.

This particular section in the book, small as it was, talked about writing yourself permission slips. The point the author was making was, “we often won’t recognize an emotion if we don’t feel like we have permission to feel emotion.” We either grow up in environments where certain emotions are encouraged/permitted or minimized and seen as invalid, weak or wasteful. “Either way,” the author explains, “writing down permission becomes a powerful intention to stay aware. You may be the first person in your life granting you permission to feel something and if you are afraid feeling something will ruin you, I assure you it won’t. Instead you will experience living out your most authentic self.”

That was it. That was the entire message of this short section of the chapter. Yet my mind and heart clung to these words for days. So being that I am currently in a season of exploring the art of feelings and excavating the foundations of my heart, I decided to invite God into this space. I literally asked God, “What do I need to give myself permission for?” The answer shocked me. It was a concept I had NEVER considered consciously and yet somewhere in the recesses of my soul, the stirring was there.

In this moment, it rose to the surface with sheer force and shouted from the rooftop, “Give yourself permission to be successful!!!” What in the world!? Successful? THAT is what I need to give myself permission to be? Hot on it’s coattails came the excuses flooding in, “But I don’t care about money”, “Im the baby of the family, only first borns are supposed to successful”, “But Im just a mom” and so on and so on. For days I wrestled with this message but in the end, I found it to be true. I do want to be successful. Not in the economically rewarding sort of way (check my DISC profile, I can prove my lack of interest in this area). Instead I want to be successful in the sense of “accomplishing an aim or purpose” as Meriam puts it.

My whole life I have pretended to be ok with status quo and normal but in my deepest place, I want to be great! I have yet to be in an arena where I could explore that more so I naturally click into the default mode of just keeping things moving at a stable and predictable pace. Well 36 years later Im still not great. But with this new revelation I am giving myself permission to change that. Success comes from aim so if I want to be successful, then I need to aim for something. I want to apply my whole self into one area and see what happens. I want to do something on purpose and because I intentionally took steps, leaps even, in that direction. I want to work for it, earn it and celebrate it once its been accomplished! Then I want to dream bigger, reach higher, push harder and see where that takes me. I want to be successful. So I wrote myself a permission slip on a Post-It note, stuck it above my desk, and now I can look up and remember that I have permission to be just that. Successful.

What do you need to give yourself permission for?

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