Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Not-So-Gentle Whisper

Life seems to be flying by at a million miles a minute lately.  Have you ever felt that way? I'm sure you have.  Between the job, and kids, and kids' soccer practices and games, training for this marathon, running races, church, and housework I feel like I am in a constant state of flux.  Now, I really like to keep busy.  I like to know that there is something to keep me going.  We are those kind of people.  You know, the kind that simply come home to eat, sleep, and bathe?!  Any other time we are out.  Doing.  Being.  Out. Out. Out.  (Total perfect in my eyes!)

However, I need to be honest with you. Now that the weather is getting nicer and we are all out many, many more hours of the day and days of the week we have had to start pushing off some things.  Things like church activities.  I told you all a couple weeks ago how I have been torn between two churches, well, that's it.  We do go, still, but now one instead of the other most weeks rather than both.  And those days when there isn't church, well reading the Bible and praying have been placed to the way side.  I'm telling you this because for several weeks now I have been convicted by it. God has been trying to get me to slow down for weeks now.

I have  had moments where we've talked.  Ok, I've talked and I know He's listened, but I don't think I've really listened to Him.  Not for lack of wanting to.  Not for lack of wanting that walk and relationship, but that every time that I get to that point where I am going to do it, something else comes up.  I'm overwhelmed. I have simply run myself (in some cases quite literally) in to the ground.  I'm missing out on the most important thing in my life - Jesus.

Then it hit me.  For real.  It being a tree. I was coming home from work yesterday evening, driving the route I always take,  going the same speed I always go (I'm a stickler for cruise control and people who don't use it irritate me like nothing else - end rant).  The weather up this way has been menopausal for sure.  Hot and breezeless one day, freezing rain the next, cool and wind gusts in excess of 50mph for added fun.  Because we all need that kind of awesomeness!  And that was yesterday.  We had beautiful temps (upper 50s to lower 60s) with the massive wind gusts.  There I was driving down US6 and BIFF! out of nowhere something hit my van. Like in slow motion I applied the breaks and slowly pulled over to the side of the road.  It was at that time I realized I couldn't see out my windshield and I was covered in glass.

Dear friends, mother nature plays a wicked game of whack-a-mole!  Seriously!  Instead of a rubber mallet she uses trees and vehicles are the moles.  And that is what happened.  A tree broke at the base and fell on my van as I was driving down the road. After I parked the van I got out to see what happened.  Then I saw it, a tree covering both lanes of the highway. Random passers-by stopped to help with traffic while we got the broken branches out of the way.  Others with 4x4s and, strangely enough, chain saws cut the tree up and moved it with their trucks and chains.  After the county and state police came and took the report my boss (who goes the same way home) started to take me home but my boyfriend came to get me.  (He's so sweet!)

I didn't cry once.  Not until today when the insurance company said that it may be a total loss. Then I teared up.  For the simple fact that I love my van.  Yes, I am the quintessential soccer mom.  My van is awesome!  I quickly got over it because it could have been worse.  It can always be worse.  I could not be here to write this. And that is the reason I am writing.  Today, as I was coming home from the rental car place who upgraded me to a minivan at no extra cost (to the insurance company, or me), I started to cry.  I could have died.  That tree could have landed differently, it could have been bigger, it could have, well done more.  But it didn't. 

God protected me.  He had me nested in His ever capable hands.  He loved me and kept me safe.  I don't know His grander plan for me or my life, but what I do know is that He didn't let the "could" happen.  Oh, He DID get my attention for sure; very loud and VERY clear.  The thing is, He never leaves us.  He is there in every single moment of our lives.  He is there when we are doing the going to church thing, parenting the children thing, and even the mundane like the driving home from work thing.  He wants us to take our time with Him.  He gives us so many reminders that He is there, waiting.  Don't be like me.  Don't wait for the big, the obscure, the downright weird accident to come to Him. 

I sit here in total awe.  In a flabbergasted state of mind.  I know I have my life to thank God for spiritually, but today it became all too real for me physically.  Our God is an awesome God and He reigns from Heaven above!

These are a couple of the photos.  It is hard to really get an idea of the damage and size of the tree (I didn't get photos until it was all cleaned up).  Essentially the roof, hood, grill, radiator, both headlights, both side mirrors, both front quarter panels, the windshield (obviously), both sliding doors, and both rear panels are damaged (broken, dented, scratched) from this freak accident.  Not to mention potential undercarriage damage.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

These Hands

I felt the fan's breeze this morning as I entered my room; not unlike any other day before it. Most days I don't pay it any attention because it's gentle breeze gets lost in the spans, while the other times I feel the cool wind as it makes my hair blow about my face.  Yet not today.  No, today the breeze brought to my attention the emptiness of my hands, the barrenness of my fingers.

Over the years I had created a routine for myself, one where I would remove my wedding rings and my pink sapphire ring before putting on my lotion. The breeze would strike my skin, cool from the freshly applied lotion, and gently offer me a quiet reminder to put my rings back on.  In the beginning, those days so many months ago, when I no longer had rings to wear this routine would leave me sad and broken. Then many times throughout the day I'd touch my thumb to the void on my ring finger, serving another reminder of the loss I had been dealt.

As with all things time had it's way of dimming the pain. Then, last summer I was given another ring, a handmade one, by someone who made me empty promises.  Again, when that ended and the ring was removed, the emotions returned fresh as new fallen snow. However, though it didn't seem like it then, time once again did it's thing. Once dimmed the focus was removed to a point where there was no longer even a faint recollection of something amiss.

But this morning as I went to my dresser for my lotion the breeze caught me and exposed my bare  hands.  I stared down at them and my fingers, which are starting to show the tell-tale signs of age, then started to cry.  Here were the hands that had once held a man's.  Hands that held a bouquet down an aisle to receive a ring that symbolized an eternal promise.  Hands that have held babies, worked hard to provide, and cared for a family that is now forever broken.

I opened the top of my jewelry box, there in the upper left corner cubbie sat the diamond his mom gave him five years into our marriage and the solid band and wrap that I got later that same year.  I put the three pieces together and watched as the light danced on the gems, diamonds and rubies.  Rubies to signify the month we were married. I hadn't the heart to put it on, I had less power not too. So I did.  I slid the rings on, just one more time.  I felt the welcomed weight of the precious metal on my skin for those brief seconds before I slid them right back off, because even though I liked the feel, they somehow felt all wrong.  Wrong because they had lost their meaning, one I someday hope to have the joy of receiving once again.

After putting them back into their designated spot in my jewelry box, I rifled thru the middle drawers looking for another ring.  One that had meaning of it's own. A vintage ring from my mother's youth.  One that I had worn daily as a teen when life was filled with the carefree abandon only a adolescent can hold. I put it on my right ring finger, the cool metal a safe weight and friendly reminder of the girl I once was. A girl untarnished by heartache and pain, of lies and broken promises. Now, as I sit here recording the moment I have the ring, a bold peace sign, staring up at me.  In it's boldness it is lovingly telling me - peace be still. The Lord is with  you and loves you so much.  That He has never broken a promise or failed to be there for me.  That I am still that girl in His eyes, the carefree child, His child whom He cherishes and made more precious than gold.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It isn't much, but it is My Messy Beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Have you ever had those days when you wanted to be witty but you end up sounding well, stupid?  That's me, most days.  My friends will often tell you that I am the funny one; perhaps to some degree I am.  In truth I am the one standing off to the side, hand up in the air, jumping frantically while bellowing out, "hey, you, yeah you, LOOK at me.  Here, here I am!"  Some people are good with being in the shadows, while others are good at being in the lime light.  Honestly I see little difference between the two.  Nope.  Both people really, deep down, want to be validated - they want to know that they are here for a reason.

One of the quickest ways we find validation is through the relationships that we hold.  For some a good solid friendship is all that is required, others need to know they have hundreds and hundreds of "friends" on Facebook or some form of social media, and others still don't need a friendship, but an honest to goodness relationship.  Me, I'm that person.  It's quite ironic how I stumbled across this in my feed.  I have been a blogger for a few  years now.  Nothing of noteworthy acclaim, more just musings of a woman going through her average, ordinary life.  Every once in a while my brain will allow my fingers to put something worthwhile on the blank space of the Internet, others times words are typed for the sheer desire to have words on space.  What started out as a way for my family to track me and keep up with my travels evolved into something more.  Had I known then that this forum would become my therapy, my solace, and my engine for release I would have laughed at myself for even having the idea. 

I'm a 35 year old mother of three.  I suppose I should throw in there that I am a "single" mother.   I mean it is what some use to define me.  Gasp, the horror, I am a single mom.  At first the stigma of it scared me.  I was petrified.  I would sit and wonder who was judging me.  Who has time for that?  It got to the point where I wouldn't even use my child support card in public because I was afraid others would judge me for using my state issued card on things for me or trips to the ice cream shop with the Littles.  I've since gotten past this, I am not on unemployment (my state uses the same card for everything) and that money is for us to use.  I'm surely not the first, nor will I be the last woman on this Earth that has traveled this road.  However, that wasn't it.  That alone wasn't the reason.  No, I worried because while I knew the truth of the circumstances no one else did.  While I know why I am raising three little girls alone, all others see is an unwed female with three Littles in tow. 

And that is it.  That is what has filled the bulk of my pages since October 2012.  The ex-Mr. he walked away from us.  He doesn't see it that way and adamantly states that it was me he left, not them.  I'm still trying to figure out how to distinguish between the two and not point out their connection.  At first I was devastated.  I was distraught.  I felt as lost and helpless as one could possibly get.  I mean half of my identity had just evaporated.   Except it hadn't, not really, he was still a very real, solid person living just a few miles down the road.  He had moved on and I was still hanging on.  I hung on for months and months and months.  I have, in some cases, still to let go - completely.

We were married almost 11 years, together almost 12.  We have three children together.  I'm an independent woman.  I'm very self supportive.  I have always held a job and in fact, everything we ever had as a couple was mine before we were a couple.  He moved into my house.  I bought him a car.  And over the years I worked while he, well, didn't always.  He does now and has a very good career; one his new missus really benefits from.  I am sure there is a bit of this that comes across as bitten and bitter.  Perhaps, if I am true to myself, I am.  I am quite upset that I have to begin over, but the reality of it is that I'm not.  I'm not starting over.  I am starting a new journey with all the tools I already  have intact.  It's a new adventure. 

Yet, there is the part of this journey that I have to learn, for myself.  The one that I have never quite learned over the years.  I am a woman that has always found her worth in another.  I didn't realize this until the divorce.  No one likes to admit that they have no clue who they are, but it is true.  I received so much "advice" when he left, more than I could even type out.  Some of it was good, great actually, and some left me questioning the reasoning of those giving it to me.  Regardless, I set out to prove to all those advice givers that I knew what to do.  I think I had even convinced myself that I knew what to do.  I was wrong.  Epically wrong.  You see, the thing that I failed to really do was define myself.  When you are in a long term relationship the lines of yourself tend to blur - right or wrong. 

That was my first mistake.  After many months I felt I was ready to date again.  Why not, I was single and ready and wanting.  I was WAY wrong.  Not only had the rules of the game changed, I had changed.  I didn't know who I was.  I stumbled from one wrong choice to another (not in all cases did I invade my personal space).  I met man after man that I strove to make a connection with.  After a few whirlwind dates and a horribly wrong-for-me boyfriend later I came full circle to the emotions held the day the ex-Mr. walked out.  I was lost.  I really had no idea what to do or where to go.  Then my best friend, who like all really good best friends would do, told me that my problem was that I didn't know my worth and I look for my identity through others; that I assume their personality and loose what is mine.  WHAT?!  How does  a woman my age do this?

It was then, just August of last year, that I decided what I needed was one man and one man only.  The one I looked to in the beginning, but lost sight of while on my sightless journey.  I decided to turn back to the faith that had once been my cornerstone.  We do that, don't we.  We tend to only look for things that are lost.  So I looked.  I sought.  I dove into the Word and prayed.  And that is it, God doesn't make mistakes.  Each one of us are hand crafted for a reason and because of that we are purposely unique.  God designed me and that alone is my worth.  He doesn't make junk.  Nope.  I just had to realize that all the quirks that are me, the face that stares back at me each day, and the place I am at is all by design.  No choice in life is without its lesson and no lesson without its student.

As the student for this lesson I learnt that:
  • I  don't mind a messy house, no need to stress over it daily. 
  • I have three uniquely beautiful Littles who I get the honor of helping to grow into upstanding women who know their worth. 
  • I don't really enjoy reading love stories, but true stories - there's something magical about books that inspire you. 
  • I love the outdoors.  I always have, but during this time I learned to live in it, to experience it, not just pass through it. 
  • I am a runner.  I'm not an Olympian by any stretch, but I'm working to be better than I was the day before. 
  • I am capable of doing more than I ever thought. 
  • God does have a ministry for me and He is forming me for it. 
  • My name, which means "worthy of love" was given to me because I really am - but I only learnt that after I learned to love myself.
  • Time isn't always the easy answer, but patience does reap good returns.

The surprise to all of this?  Last summer, while I was going through the torment and pain, I happened into a store that I never go to.  I heard my name called.  I just kept walking, then I heard it again.  I turned around and there was a man smiling and saying hi.  Me, in all of my "dear in the headlights" awesomeness just stood there wondering, do I know this person?  Apparently yes - from 17 years earlier. After he reminded me of his name and I still had no clue he reminded me of when and where.  I would like to say we hit it off, but the truth of it is it was a few months later before we ever started really talking.  Now, we have a good relationship; one founded on friendship and built on the knowledge that I know exactly who I am and what I am worth.

I know it isn't much, but it is my messy beautiful life. 


http://momastery.com/carry-on-warrior/

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Torn

I have something that I am completely torn over.  Two things, if you will, that I love for two completely different reasons.  Neither of them altogether bad for me; in fact, if I had to really drill it down they are both completely good for me.  I find that I long for both and actually feel upset and sad when I can't have them - both.  Church. Two churches.

I have been attending my church for years, since late fall of 2001, actually. And this new one, well, for the better part of 3 months.  Why the new one?  The man that I am dating, yes, people I am dating someone, but I will save that journey for another post, has his own home church.  He has joined me at mine off and on for a little while, about 6 months.  This is something that I really love about him, he goes to church.  Then he asked me to come to his.  So I did. 

It is possible to attend both each week.  Mine on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, his on Saturday nights.  My church is a quaint little church, homey and full of love.  Filled to the roof with people who are part of families that have been attending that church for generation after generation.  A church of people with a loving and giving heart, lead by a team of Pastors that exude the love of Christ.  My church is soft and sweet and warm. (No it isn't a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie!) It is highly traditional and very old school.  His church, his church is rather large, so big in fact they have three services each week for all of the members - one on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning.  This is great for me! His church is very modern, both in appearance and delivery.  It is a church that pulls you in by the way it looks and keeps you there by what it offers.  It is the antithesis of traditional and old school, but make no mistake on what it is there for - doing God's work.

Some might say that a house divided will never stand, but is this really a house divided (metaphorically speaking)?  I go to two different churches each week.  I worship the Lord more.  I learn more.  I hear more of His good word.  Last night I heard a message on a partial of scripture that I've heard my Pastor preach on in the past.  I tried digging into the memory banks for the way he explained it and came up blank, as I am sure this one will too some day as I file it into the recesses of my brain as well.  I just know that it moved me to tears.

That brings me to the real reason for this post.  More, more, and yet still more.  Yes I am getting more, but it is what I am giving that is the same.  (I'm not talking about tithe and offering.)  Both get my time - as a person in the pew or folding chair, depending on which church I am at. I have always wanted to DO something for the Lord.  My heart has a passion for Women's ministry, but I don't have one.  I have me, wanting to do something and no place to do it.  I've had opportunity and have asked a couple times, but alas due to circumstances and choices I have been shot down, closed down, and flat out been told no.  So here I sit, longing for the Lord to use me in some way and find that I am merely a broken vessel that has no use.  I have a purpose and function, at least if I know the way my heart feels and what I believe God wants me to do, yet I am unusable because I have no place.

I'm not desiring to lead a revolution. I don't find myself to be even close to the same caliber as Beth Moore, Joyce Meyers, or any of those other ladies that millions of women follow.  I simply want to do what I think God has called me to do.  But I am torn. Torn between the comfortable where I have no place and the new where I have no place.  I fear the answer is in learning more.  So, I'll wait on God. I'll let him continue to direct my path.  After all, he knows my heart, my present, and my future.  He knows more than any man on this Earth what my purpose is and where I need to be and where I need to go.  He did, after all, create me.