GREATER EXPECTATIONS

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You should smile more.

Don”t be a crybaby.

Your skirt is too short.

Great guns.

Your top/shirt/blouse is too low.

No shirt required.

You’re such a bossy bitch.

You are such a great leader.

How can you selfishly choose your career over your children?

You’re such a wonderful provider.

Look at the way she dresses/acts/walks. She was asking for it.

He’s always been such a great guy/athlete/student. You can’t blame him for losing control. Men can’t help themselves.

When will we start to hold men accountable for their actions? When will we stop holding women accountable for the bad actions of men? When will we begin to treat women with respect for their strengths and choices? Men are not born morons with no self-control, but if the church and the greater white culture continues to act as if this is the case, we will raise another generation that increasingly endangers women for ridiculous excuses like clothing or drinking, and fails the next generation because there will be even less healthy male examples to follow and even more disrespect for healthy female examples.

WOMEN: Start small. Turn off the sitcoms that have an idiot male lead with a female lead that does it all and has to constantly make concessions for her idiot husband.

Next, check yourself when you sit in judgement of women who don’t dress as conservatively as you think they should. Ask yourself why you feel bothered by her or insecure by her presence. Ask yourself if you’re blaming her because your significant other doesn’t practice self-control. Ask yourself where these ideas/judgements came from in the first place.

Perhaps, even try not assuming the other woman’s motives. Maybe she has no interest in your man. Maybe she just feels confident in the beautiful body God has given her and she is dressing in a way that makes her most comfortable. Perhaps, consider telling the men in your life to get their $*@& together and stop looking at women as if they are anything other than human beings that deserve respect and that doesn’t lessen because some men think they’re more important than they are.

Go Big. Honor other women by speaking out against the violence that is born of judgmental talk and misogynistic lifestyles. Honor everyone by holding men accountable for irresponsible/disrespectful/violent behavior towards women. Raise your sons to be responsible and respectful of ALL females. Raise your daughters to walk in the full identity they were created in, not shrinking back because of cultural ignorance. Set this expectation in your work environment, your social circles, as well as at home.

MEN: Start small. Turn off the sitcoms that have an idiot male lead with a female lead that does it all and has to constantly make concessions for her idiot husband.

Next, check yourself when you sit in judgement or lust of women who don’t dress as conservatively as you think they should. Ask yourself why you feel sexually toward her or distracted by her presence. Ask yourself if you’re blaming her because you aren’t practicing self-control. Ask yourself where these ideas/judgements came from in the first place.

Perhaps, even try not assuming the woman’s motives. Maybe she has no interest in you or any other man. Maybe she just feels confident in the beautiful body God has given her and she is dressing in a way that makes her most comfortable. Perhaps, consider telling yourself to get your $*@& together and stop looking at women as if they are anything other than human beings that deserve respect and that doesn’t lessen because you think you desires are more important than respect for them is.

Go Big. Honor women by speaking out against the violence that is born of judgmental talk and misogynistic lifestyles. Honor everyone by holding yourself and other men accountable for irresponsible/disrespectful/violent behavior towards women. Raise your sons to be responsible and respectful of ALL females. Raise your daughters to walk in the full identity they were created in, not shrinking back because of cultural ignorance. Set this expectation in your work environment, your social circles, as well as at home.

Misogyny: 1. hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, manifested in various forms such as physical intimidation and abuse, sexual harassment and rape, social shunning and ostracism, etc.: (the underlying misogyny in slut-shaming; Historically witch hunts were an embodiment of the misogyny of the time.) 2. ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against women; sexism.

It’s going to take some time to dig into our social constructs and unearth the arrogant violence that some men have long planted into everything we know here in our culture. I understand there are varying degrees in white and non-white American cultures. I’m sure education levels and other factors may affect this, as well, but I hope we can all admit this toxin exists in American culture to some degree and it’s a poison we need to begin eradicating.

If you don’t agree, I would just ask that you pray to see this through Our Pappa God’s eyes and that He would give you His heart for women. I think that’s something everyone can be blessed by.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, wherever you stand.

Peace.

One Link at a Time

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Breaking patterns is hard for most of us. I think we subconsciously fear change, even if it’s for the better. We stay in that co-dependent relationship, we keep eating the food that makes us sick, we repeatedly choose friendships that end the same dysfunctional way, we take another drink. Too often, I’ve done some of these things and then asked, “Why does this keep happening to me?!”

Well, Self, it keeps happening to you because of your choices. When you are raised by an emotionally distant parent, it isn’t surprising that you choose emotionally distant friendships or partners. Logically, it seems we would choose the opposite of the personality that caused us so much pain, but often we choose what we are most familiar with and then spin our wheels trying to change the other person. Then, when the relationship begins to get healthier, we frequently will sabotage things without realizing that we’re doing it, just because we subconsciously desire the known unhealthy over the unknown healthier.

It isn’t surprising that the people who struggle with addictions, alcohol, food, porn, are often the children and then parents of addicts. While some of this may be hereditary, much of it is learned behavior or left behavior. Because, when we are left to fill the overwhelming void from a parent who is lacking in some area, we will fill it with food, sex, drugs, alcohol or some other harmful thing.

We can get really good at putting on a public face that projects, “I have it all together,” especially if we’ve been living in a way that has taught us to survive by keeping others at bay. As adults, we often surround ourselves with people who don’t really want to go deep, then they buy into the perfect picture lie and encourage the façade we present to the world. We can read self-help books by Christian authors and other authorities, we can learn yoga and Pilates, we can post scripture and lovely thoughts about how perfect our life is, but the truth is still right there next to us, all over us. Our Pappa God knows this and He offers us real help, through accountability. We can walk through the 12-steps, seek out GOOD Christian counseling, ask those around us to truly hold us accountable in love. All of these choices are scary as heck to any normal person living in dysfunction. We are faced, once again, with the decision… Do we want to spend the rest of our time on this earth doing this crazy dysfunctional dance because it’s what we’ve always known, or do we want to truly grow and be the beginning of change for the better in our families and our other relationships for generations?

I wish I could say that I woke up one day in my twenties and realized I needed to change, that I didn’t drag my babies into my mess and leave them in a similar predicament just as they embraced adulthood, but the truth is I just kept running until my seemingly perfect looking life completely imploded in my 40’s and I had to really look at all of the coping mechanisms I had developed to survive and admit that I had played a part in the implosion. I wasn’t simply a victim.

I’ve lost important relationships along the way. The hardest part of living in dysfunction is that when we begin to turn away from it and toward health, some of the people we love most will choose to stay in the brokenness for the same reasons we did for so long and they will do and say horrible, often untrue, things about and to us because they are desperate to keep us in the mess with them. When you refuse to stay in the mire with them, they will often replace you with someone else who is willing to co-sign their drama. The hard truth is we can’t do anything about it, aside from pray. They have to come out into the light with all of their ugly crap, by choice, just like we did. Until that happens, all we can do is offer a safe place to make amends, and pray on the daily.

I can do this because I know that Pappa God doesn’t desire brokenness in any person or family relationship. He is always working behind the scenes. When I look back over my life, I can see He was pursuing me all along and I was running as fast as I could in the opposite direction, thinking the ends justified the means. I didn’t realize that I had to dig DEEP down and get to the core of my wound. Those self-help books, etc. were great band-aids for a bit, but they didn’t help me get to the depth of the infection and bring it out into the light, so, instead, it continued to grow down deep into my soul.

All the while, the enemy was sprinkling fertilizer on that mess. He creates division. He cuts off communication and starts to encourage that narrative in our heads to go as south as he can, so that we see the people who love us the most and pray most for us as evil and untrustworthy. He takes the hurtful things we say to one another and blinds us to the pain that may have caused the words, so that all we see is our own unwarranted deep injury. Always seeing ourselves the victim.

The only regret I have in my life is that I didn’t choose to begin the work earlier. It would’ve changed so much. It would have prevented some of the pain my children have experienced. I would’ve been at peace with myself and my choices so much sooner. It has been over a decade that I first began to look at my deep wounds and ask Pappa God to give me the courage to face them and walk more in the way He called me to all along. I’ve done counseling to understand my broken parents, to help my marriage, to understand my children and to mama better, to be a better me. I’ve walked through the Steps more than once and I’m planning to do it, again, in a few months. I’ve done inner-healing prayer many times. I continue to read those books and work on my physical body. I go to gatherings where I believe He leads me to. Walking out of brokenness isn’t a “One & Done” kind of deal. It is slow and difficult. It is painful and ongoing. It can be exhausting, but living in dysfunction was all of those things with no end in sight. We can walk the journey to freedom, understanding it doesn’t come in a neat single package. It is a process, and we walk in more and more of the freedom we long for, as we break each chain that is binding our hearts. There are definitely detours that mess us up. The enemy has worked through situations and people to trip me up a time or two, but he hasn’t stopped me, yet. Each step is an opportunity to break another link off of the long chain we’ve amassed over our lives and walk with just a bit less weight on our backs.

It’s daunting, for sure. Becoming spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy are hard work that go hand-in-hand and are no walk in the park. Letting go of bitterness and victimhood isn’t easy when it’s been such a big part of your identity for so long. The cool part is that once you begin to release that ish, it will blow your mind in the best of ways. If you start today, you have chosen to change the trajectory of your life for generations. What you decide will be what you gift your children, your nieces & nephews, and everyone else who matters now and who will matter in the future. It will be your path for the rest of your days because you will want to acquire more and more freedom as you walk more in the identity He has always had for you. Imago Dei.

I pray you ask for the courage and the companionship Our Pappa God is waiting to supply. I pray good people come alongside you to undergird you on your journey, and that you are able to release the people who are not ready to walk this path, yet. I pray your children and/or loved ones are influenced by your humble decisions. It’s never too late. I’ll be praying for you. No, really, I will be.

‘Tis the Season (to Ramble)

Love Lost, Life Found, Grief Experienced

It’s been a rough 9 months for everyone – some much more than others. This Rona is no joke. The political division that has been caused by it has been devastating to so many and I don’t expect things to heal overnight. – Also, there has long been deep division caused by systemic racism, sexism and centuries of financial, as well as educational disparity in the United States that seems to have come out of the secret places, stepping out boldly, because we’ve spent the past 4 years being “led” by an old privileged white narcissist who supported all of that ugliness while bragging about grabbing women by the p*$$#. So, for many of us, it’s been a traumatizing 4 years, with the most recent 9 months being the most unbearable.

In my personal life it’s been a broken several years for me. Sometimes I’m amazed I’m still getting up in the morning and other times I mostly realize I can only get through the day because He’s got me. I also have so many things to be incredibly thankful for, and I am, but today I am sitting in the brokenness.

This typically happens to me about once year, but it feels like it’s been thrice already this year. I allow myself to grieve what is lost or broken. I have a little pity party with just my Pappa and me. He holds space for me to be my authentic self, in all of the humanness that I can muster and then He stands me back up again, and I am able to carry on in a confidence built on His faithfulness.

I am sad because my husband betrayed our marriage many years ago, and while we have worked hard to grow out of that sin and all of the ways we both contributed to that horrific anguish, there is a part of us that feels like our marriage will never fully recover. We have gotten much better in so many areas of our relationship and even in our own persons, but betrayal is not something you bounce back from. The wreckage is long-lasting and deeply embedded. Daily I must choose to make my marriage what it can be and not settle for what it is or give up on it and allow it to quietly die a death of complacency.

My oldest son and his wife are expecting their first child. I am beyond happy for them. He hasn’t allowed me to be in his life for several years because he thinks I took money from him – which is ludicrous if you know what kind of mama I’ve always been. I pray over the ultrasound picture every morning that they shared with us a while back. I am thankful that they shared their blessed news with us and even more grateful to be able to pray for their family each day, but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll choose to have me in their lives. Will I know my grandchild? Will my son remember who I am, what my character is, how devoted I’ve always been? Ultimately, I have resigned myself to rest in praying for them daily and trusting that Our Pappa God has all of us in His hand, but some days I am overcome by how easy it seems it was for my first born to cast me aside for something so not precious, how easy it seems it was for him to see me as so self-serving and greedy, when he saw how I lived my life always putting my children’s needs first, rarely buying things for myself (like most mamas) and certainly never stealing things from anyone. Yet, here we are and on days such as today, I am grieving. I am crying out, “Why did this happen?!” to My Pappa God, but I am also gently reminded that our relationship was co-dependant, there was so much brokenness in our family then and He is the God of restoration. It hardly ever looks the way I expect it to or think it should, but years of walking with a God who is abundantly faithful has made it possibly for me to (finally) trust that He will bring about a resolution that is better than any of us could ever imagine.

I miss my friends. I miss having a very best friend. I lost one of my closest friends just after my husband’s betrayal. It was gut-wrenching. She had been my friend since early elementary school. I was suicidal and she was the ONLY person I shared my humiliating news with. She promised she would fly out to see me in the following 2 weeks. I desperately needed her to hold my head above water as I had hers when she went through her journey with cancer and the loss of both of her parents in the two years before this. She called me just before she was supposed to fly out and told me that her husband refused to spend money on a plane ticket. She said they just couldn’t afford it. I was devastated, but I reassured her that I knew she had no choice and I wouldn’t want to be a financial burden on her marriage. Three days later, as I perused social media, there my “best” friend was in Cabo (or some tropical place) with several other friends on a girls’ trip. I had to borrow money to fly home for her mama’s funeral less than a year before this. It took me days to reconcile what I saw in those pictures and what she had said to me on the phone. I asked her several times to help me understand what she had done, for over 2 years after that. She mostly ignored me and then when I asked her in person, her response was, “I’m a shi$$# friend, okay? Let’s move on. Talking about this won’t change anything.” I spent a couple of years trying to put it behind me and then I began to realize how entitled and judgemental she had become, which helped me to finally walk away. Years too late, and I’m thankful I finally did, but losing one of your oldest friends with whom you’ve done so much life is heartbreaking, even when you know that your life is much better with that person no longer in it.

The thing is, these stories are oversimplified. I know that the brokenness was the result of layers of disfunction caused by years of not really getting to the issues at hand. Festering wounds not looked at closely in order to get to the deep infection, so that we could all maintain a false sense of peace and harmony until it all imploded. I know that because I used to think I had no real worth to others unless I was what they needed, that I operated out of that and eventually, my fears came to desolating reality. I allowed others to take me for granted because I didn’t believe they would choose me and then when I most needed them to choose me and even asked them to, they choose the other thing because this was our dance, the one I had been in step with all along, until I wasn’t.

This:

Definition of insanity Memes

is what finally changed my life. I lost SO MANY relationships because people just walked away and I stopped chasing them. We’re taught that when you finally take a stand for yourself, others will see your worth, value your relationship and you will all live happily ever after. I’m sure that on occasion that is the result, but in my life I have found that many of the people I loved just walked away, kept walking and are still walking in the other direction without a thought in their heads of me or my worth.

Amidst the carnage, I have emerged His beloved and bruised daughter who has done the hard work of counseling, inner healing, and walking the 12-steps, of having hard conversations and choosing healthier relationships, who does things for others now because I want to and because, after praying, I am reasonably sure He wants me to. I respect who I am and who I am growing into more than ever. I am open to my brokenness and strive to continue healing and growing into the daughter He calls me to be in Him.

I love my parents and I forgive them for how their brokenness and pride has hurt me. I pray that they forgive me for my brokenness and that they find Our Lord and choose to be His before they leave this Earth . I love my husband and I’m thankful that he daily chooses to walk this very difficult road of healing with me instead of taking the seemingly easier way out. I love my son and pray that one day he will remember my love and dedication for him. I pray that if he doesn’t choose to invite me back into his life that more than all else, he knows Our Pappa God and His love for him intimately and that he finds peace with himself. I love my friend and I’m working on forgiving her betrayal and even more her disregard for the pain of that and her response since has caused me. I pray she learns to love everyone as He does and that one day she will choose to live in peace with me.

I have wallowed in my self-pity while My Pappa has held me through my cries of anguish. Where would I be without His faithfulness? What would I do, truly?

If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for holding space for my grief and emotional rambling. I understand that this is an uncomfortable post to read. It’s hard to write and will be even more excruciating to actually publish. We are a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of culture. We aren’t supposed to openly acknowledge emotional trauma or pain, especially not with a self-pity kind of viewpoint. I know this well, because I was raised with an extra dose of stoicism. What I’ve come to believe since watching my family of origin implode, is if more of us would be forthcoming with the havoc that betrayal, abandonment and other relational brokenness can bring, perhaps those that come after us will choose better and live more healthy, honest lives that bring them peace. I’m thankful that I’m walking more in the identity My Pappa God calls me to after years of recovery and painful growth. I’m incredibly grateful that my three youngest children have not only witnessed my journey, but they have chosen to walk the steps, do the counseling, have the hard conversations and be accountable as they grow. Knowing they are figuring this out in their 20’s as opposed to 50’s like their mama, is the best gift I’ve ever received.
‘Tis the season…

Peace.

Serenity, Tranquility — Perspectives on Personal Fulfillment

When Mother’s Day is Hard

photo of mother and child
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We have 5 children, one each from our first marriages and then our 3 youngest together.  Our two oldest are only 3 months apart in age, just 3 and almost 3 when we married, nearly 31 years ago.  

Blending a family is no joke, but when you are 25 years old, still swimming in brokenness and ignorance of who Our Pappa God is, then even your best efforts mostly end up a pile of mess.  We did family counseling, family get-aways, and took every opportunity to become a loving family.  I longed for our sons to feel safe and loved without condition.  In some ways, we succeeded, but in so many more, we failed miserably.  I’m sure so many blended parents can relate to this.

We were each overly protective of our bio-sons and had damaged relationships with their other parents.  Some of our family members on both sides were less than supportive.  We came from different ethnic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds and got married after only dating for 5 months!  I don’t think we could’ve set the scene for massive failure much more if we tried.

I’d like to say, “Here we are, still standing,” but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.  Those two sweeties, who are older than we were when we started this crazy journey, are now estranged from us.  For more years than I can fathom, at times, they have chosen to have nothing to do with us.  It is painful.  As time passes, I admit, my hope diminishes that we will ever reconcile.  I sometimes imagine calling my firstborn and saying, “Don’t you remember who I am?  How I have always loved you so completely and without condition?  Why was it so easy to just cut me out of your life over such pettiness?”  But, he has repeatedly made it clear that he wants no contact from me and tbh, I mostly feel at peace that we are, each of us, right where we need to be right in this season.  

I read something by Beth Moore today in CHASING VINES that gave me such comfort, because there are still moments that creep up now and then, when I feel like after all I poured into my son, to have him turn on me so completely,  it was a waste of my life because the fruit of that seems so rotten now.  I’m going to pull a few sentences out from her book to share with you, after my disclaimer.

*Please no judgement here.  I am being honest about the really dark and difficult days of this brokenness as a mama.  

“Why, Lord?  Why did this turn out the way it did?

He knows.  He tells those who listen….

The vinedresser does a curious thing with the rotten fruit.  He turns it back into the soil and then, underground, by some spectacular organic miracle of nature, it fertilizes a future harvest.”  – Beth Moore, CHASING VINES

I think many of us have experienced deep disappointment(s) in an area of our lives that was significant.  Then we wonder why and feel discouraged that it was all for naught, when, in fact, it wasn’t.  It never is, because when we choose to walk through that difficult season with Our Pappa, learning from the mistakes we’ve made, then the next season is full of sweeter fruit.

I poured everything I was able to into all of my children.  They were my life’s work and joy.  I messed up plenty out of my own brokenness, like every other human being that walks this earth.  I’ve spent the past several years asking My Pappa God to show me the places I’ve needed healing and where I’ve needed to help others heal from my sins.  I pray my firstborn is growing with Our Pappa God, as well.  I pray that one day we will find reconciliation and grace for one another because I believe it is His will.

Tomorrow will be hard in some ways.  I think of him every day, but he is the one that made me a mama, so this one is one of the harder days.  He will probably send me a text that hurts more than blesses (again) that says, “Happy Mother’s Day” and I will wish that he didn’t because years of texts that seem to check the box more than have true sentiment, are a reminder of how little I seem to mean to him anymore.

Tomorrow will also be lovely because my three youngest children and my husband of 31 years are still standing, sometimes limping, but always striving to grow together.  They love me and will celebrate me, flaws and all.  I am blessed beyond measure, but on my road to being whole I must honor that part of me that grieves the loss of another year with the boy who made me a mama.

 

Just Breathe

silhouette of man sitting on grass field at daytime

This Rona season has me contemplating the simple things, the things I sometimes take for granted.  I miss eating out with friends and family.  I miss seeing people’s smiles (the rare times I’m out in public these days) because masks are covering their pearly-whites – which I’m thankful for healthwise, but it’s a little sad for my heart.  I miss chatting it up with the person in front of or behind me in the checkout line.  I miss running up to my friends and hugging their necks.  I miss having people over my house.

In all of this, I have been trying to find the simple and the good and I’m happy to report there has been an abundance of both.

I’m grateful for the air that I am able to breathe.  I’m not stuck inside my house.  I am able to walk outside and take in the air that just HAS to be cleaner now without as many vehicles on the roads, or airplanes in the sky, right?  My allergies have been pretty awful, so I’m not loving that, but in the whole scheme of things, allergies are a booger.  Except when I’m out in public, feeling terrified of coughing or sniffling, because people look at me like I’m purposely infecting everyone with the rona.  I’ve gotten really good at holding my sniffles and clearing my throat behind the new mask that my beautiful friend, Lisa made for me (and my entire family).

I don’t even know what I’d do without our little backyard.  I ordered a 10′ X 5′ inflatable pool that is a whopping 2 feet deep and it is giving me life!  My grandboy loves being in there with me, squealing and splashing.  He is JOY incarnate.  When our kiddos were young and we lived in the Mitten, we had a beautiful in-ground pool, complete with diving board and slide.  This is a fraction of it in every way, except that I love it just as much right now, perhaps more because I don’t have to clean it for an hour every morning or pour my life savings into chemicals to keep it clean and balanced.  I keep giggling at how hillbilly I look lying in that thing.  I’ve no doubt we will laugh about Nana in her kiddie pool for years to come, but right now, it is my private respite and I am thankful!

My garden is bursting in every row and it’s right outside my bedroom door, so starting my day with the view of all that new green life is the stuff!  My Honey has been trimming trees, and working on the yard and patio daily for the past two weeks and I am enjoying the fruits of his labor.  I’ve had to continue (meaning I am SO blessed to be) working for my nanny family.  My hours are long, although I only work 3 days a week, but coming home to a clean house, with dinner on the table and extra deep cleaning and/or yard work being done is my love language.  My Honey has always been a hard working man and I so appreciate how he takes care of me and our kiddos.

Curbside has finally settled down so that I can get groceries in less than 7 days, instead of in no less than two weeks or not at all.  I’m so grateful that we don’t have to go into grocery stores nearly as much as we were having to the past several weeks or so.  Also, the shelves are stocked once again!  It’s such a blessing to get organic food and just the things we prefer, again.  I’m incredibly thankful for the grocery and restaurant workers & delivery people.  WHAT would we do without them?!  They continue to risk their lives to bring us what brings us life.  Please tip them extra and extend grace during this exhausting and risky time.  We need to appreciate and care for them.

ZOOM!  I don’t know how we would get through this time without seeing the gorgeous faces of our friends and family.  There is nothing like a real hug and conversation over a yummy cup of chai, but this app is literally keeping me sane and saving my life some days!  I don’t have to clean my house to have lifegroup!  I don’t even have to wear pants.  If I want to yell at my Honey or blow my nose, I can block myself out and mute myself for a quick minute and no one is any the wiser.  Also, I only have to make myself a cup of chai and I can meet in my bedroom!  Seriously, this is my best life on some level.

Michelle Obama is doing a Read-Along on PBS every Monday from April 20 – May 11!  If that doesn’t make you do the Happy Dance, I don’t know what will!!!

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My home that is small enough to keep clean and big enough to find a quiet place when any of us tires of the others – which happens a time or two in 5 or 6 weeks – is one of my favorite blessings.  It is cozy and colorful.  There is food in the cupboards and fridge.  There is always coffee and tea at the flip of a switch and a big, comfy couch to melt into in the living room.

Our property manager called today and told us to only pay half of the rent for the next two (May and June) months! – He already told us that April was free!  How does THAT happen?!  God is faithful and generous beyond measure.  And we, in turn, got to bless friends and family that are going through some really difficult times right now.  His economy is beyond magnificent!

Our children, their families and friends, our parents and our siblings and their families are healthy.  Today we got a card from my mother and father-in-love in the mail.  It was so encouraging and full of love.  Such a simple thing and it blessed us so big.

Our auto insurance company emailed us that they are giving us a 20% rebate for April and May.  Huge!  After I received this message, I went to their page and found out they are doing all sorts of kind things, like:

  • We don’t want you to worry about losing your insurance if you can’t pay right now. Starting April 1, 2020, we’ll waive late fees, pause collections, and hold off on canceling or non-renewing any active policies due to non-payment through May 15, 2020. Some states have already issued leniency guidelines, so we will adjust this timeline to either meet or exceed any state-specific requirements.

This was my favorite part:

First responders, health care workers, and delivery drivers are at the front lines of the crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to help by:

  • Providing expedited roadside assistance
  • Expanding coverage for personal auto customers who are temporarily delivering food or medicine
  • Offering meal delivery for our for-hire truckers
  • Providing a full-service claims experience for first responders and health care workers who experience a car accident. We’re providing transportation to work and expediting tow and vehicle repairs. And if needed, we’re deferring deductibles and providing a rental vehicle.

These acts of kindness are how My Pappa God brings joy into these crazy, unsure days of mine.  There are plenty of horrible things happening out there, I am aware.  I am praying for people stuck in abusive situations.  I’ve been there and I can’t imagine how awful that must be during this time in history.  People are losing loved ones to this virus and the victims are often dying without their loved ones anywhere near them.  Many are facing financial crisis unlike they’ve ever known.  I’ve no desire to minimize that or ignore it, I’m just, like many of you, trying to manage all of this as best I can and I am thankful for the heroes, for the acts of kindness that arise when things fall apart.  I think it’s important to share the good stuff so that we can bless others with stories of the beauty that comes from these ashes.

Do you have a story of kindness or generosity during this pandemic?  Please share it here in the comments.  Each day is a challenge for all of us on some level right now, and I’d love to have a bank of “the beauty” right here for anyone who journeys through to hold onto.

Bless you.

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More ‘Rona Ramblings

Last night (Good Friday), my Honey, our 3 youngest and I were gathered in front of the big screen watching Gateway’s Good Friday service online.  We had a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a fresh baguette for communion and our 14-month-old grandson, Arlo, was stumbling around the room being silly and spreading joy.  I was reminded of the meaning of “Good” Friday and the sacrifice Our Pappa God made for all of us.  Reminded of how enormous His love is for each and every one of us and what it must have been like for His devastated followers at the time, who didn’t have the luxury of knowing about the empty tomb, like we do.  When I get into that space, worship is so natural.  Adoration is only the beginning of what I am inspired to do for my Lord.

This year was exponentially different than years past, for all believers, I imagine.  I missed my church family immensely.  I look forward to my time with this precious group of sisters and brothers who share in my family’s struggles, joys, and everything in between, as we share in theirs.  I am the crazy lady with shoes off, hands raised singing at the top of my lungs in a dark corner at the back of the auditorium – and they love me just as I am.

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Typical Sunday at South (pre-rona). Photo credit: Ben Petree (thanks, Benny).

I long to empty myself out and fill up with Him during these times of musical worship, and though I’ve had private times of this at home and online times with my church these past weeks, it is a beautiful thing to gather with other followers to sing adoration to Our Father and I am longing for a return to this, knowing it will be something different and better because of the work He is doing during this season.

So, as I looked around at my beautiful husband, children and grandchild last night, I felt such gratefulness for all that I am blessed with.  The realization that we may all very well be back at church next Good Friday (God willing), gathered with our Gateway family, caused a bunch of feelings to well up and swirl around in my head and heart.  I missed our traditional church Good Friday gathering, but my family is typically all playing/singing/both at church – and not all at the same campuses, so I either attend multiple services at different campuses or go to one and feel guilty that I didn’t go to the other.  Most of the time I am sitting alone – or without the people who are related to me by blood because they are leading worship.  Don’t misunderstand, it’s this mama’s answer to prayer that her babies and Honey are serving this way, but I do, occasionally, miss the days of the row being filled with my Honey and our babies.  Last night, I got to sit in the middle of the whole bunch of them, while worshiping with music (pre-video-recorded of them!), taking communion and thanking my Pappa God for this rare moment.  I have no doubt that next year, I will be reminded of His faithfulness as I gather with my church family and be a little sad as I remember how precious Good Friday Rona 2020 was.

This evening we are going to celebrate my Honey – his bday was yesterday, but we decided that today was going to be all about him, sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter.  We’re getting wings from Pluckers and he’s choosing his favorite early release movie to watch at home – Have I mentioned movies are his love language?  I have some yummy hors d’oeuvres and Hannah will make him some popcorn (his favorite, that he only eats on very special  occasions).  Birthdays past were days filled with running to restaurants, movie theatres, and every social event available for my enneagram 7 Honey. This birthday is obviously very different, but he feels incredibly loved by the people he most loves, so last night as I looked over at him and saw tears in his eyes as he watched Caleb & Aaron “wrestling” with a giggling Arlo, I was again reminded that God is in all of this beautiful mess.

Bob Bday 2018

Tomorrow morning I will wake my children by telling them quietly that, “He is Risen,” as I have all of their lives.  (They think it’s cute to say it to me on Christmas, birthdays, etc., but I know deep down they look forward to it and they will do the same with their babies one day.  Okay, I hope they will.)  We will have baskets filled with a little less candy because there is less money to spend, but there will be a new basket because there is Arlo and that’s just more wonderful than just about anything.

 

We will gather together in our living room – with pre-recorded videotape of the 4 of them leading worship and I will be with my family, celebrating Our Risen Lord and all He blesses us with.  I will be reminded of how faithfully He walks through every season with each and every one of us.  I will not pretend that this isn’t a scary time and that we haven’t all suffered various losses through this time in history, but I will rejoice that I have a Pappa who knows what is to come and has never stopped working through all of this to make us more into the image He has for us.  I will never again have this kind of time with my Pappa, my husband, my children and my grandson.  We will all drive each other crazy, here and there, but I refuse to take this time for granted.  I will see it for the gift it is and thank Him for all of it.

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

 

Anne Frank, Blessings, and Checking Myself

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As we are settling into sheltering-in-place, I find myself, like most of the people I know, riding a sort of rollercoaster of emotions, now and then. I wonder if you can relate.

I am SO thankful to have my husband, our children and our grandbaby with us during this time.  I also want nothing more than to have my house to myself and do whatever I want BY MYSELF.

I love to cook yummy organic food, make kombucha, fresh juice, bake gluten free yummies and have a really clean kitchen and now I finally have the time to do that – and it feels like that is all I do, around the clock and I just want to go to a restaurant and be waited on and not clean up after my family, but walk away from the table, leaving a nice tip and a big “thank you” for the amazing wait staff.

I had this idea that we would have all of this extra time to deep clean our house and that happened for a minute and now it just feels messy ALL OF THE TIME and I can’t get away from it, mostly.  If I’m stuck in here – especially since it’s been raining for days here in Austin – then I just need my space to be clean and orderly or my depression level goes through the roof and that’s not fun for anyone.

I enjoy grocery shopping and going to the local farmer’s market.  I miss the luxury of running to my neighborhood Sprouts when I’ve forgotten a recipe item, seeing all of the other shoppers’ smiling faces and returning home in less than 15 minutes.  Now, getting food means trying to order from curbside, only to find I can only get about 60-70 percent of what I ordered and that the quickest delivery is over a week away.  Or, going myself, waiting in line for an hour and a half outside the store, separated by tape on the ground from the other shoppers who are wearing masks and gloves and looking at one another suspiciously.  I’ve noticed in these most recent days, people are physically swaying away from passerby’s in the aisles.  It’s like an end-of-the-world movie out there, except, it’s not a movie and it isn’t the end of the world, is it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did some research on Anne Frank’s life recently.  As a girl, I was fascinated by her and every time I read her story or watched a production of it, I would ache for a different ending.  While this is a different situation, with no human being trying to exterminate us (right?), I think there are some valuable life lessons Anne recorded for me.

There were 8 people who shared 450 square feet of living space for 2 years and 1 month!  They did not have the option of going outside during this time.  The group was made up of 2 families and a single man.  They had to wait for very rationed food to be brought to them and risked horrific death every day.

While I am giving myself permission to mourn what has been lost, I am trying to keep things in perspective.  I have enjoyed my garden since I planted it a week ago.  It gives me life.  My Honey and I have been taking our grandboy out for walks in his stroller every day that the weather allows and it has lifted our spirits immensely.  Last week, Arlo and his Auntie Hannah painted on our back deck and then we filled his water table so that he could play and simultaneously wash the paint off of most of his entire body.  It was such a great day!

In the past two weeks SO MANY blessings have reigned down on our family.  Our landlord called me recently and asked how things were going.  After I laughed, told him things could be better for everyone, I imagine, he then told me that we didn’t have to pay rent for the month of April because of the rona.  How does that happen?!  The people I nanny for have repeatedly told me that they won’t let anything happen to me or my family.  They’ve offered to pay our rent or anything else we need.  I’ve told them repeatedly how much their support means to me, but we are okay, they then gave me a generous raise and asked me to do more hours!  They’ve been quarantined for over a month, so I don’t feel endangered.  The added income is huge during this time of my Honey and son being on furlough.  We filed our taxes last Monday and the money for our return was deposited on Friday, just four days later! I was at Costco and as I was leaving, I saw this and it reminded me that we are called to care for one another. Thank you, Costco!

We have food.  We have a roof over our heads.  We  have the choice to go outside and exercise and breath in fresh air.  (Also, have you noticed how many more bees there are out there?  Is that because there are less car/truck/airplane emissions killing them?)  I have friends and family checking in on me.  I have my garden and my Kindle with a bajillion books I’ve been wanting to have the time to read.  (I just finished THE WATER DANCER by TA-NEHISI COATES and it was SO AMAZING!!!!)  I have a computer to write on and more journals than any one woman should claim.

These are scary times.  As of yesterday there were 1,039,439 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, 347,003 of those are in the United States.  There have been 72,638 deaths worldwide and 10,335 of those human beings were Americans.

When I think about the families who can’t be with one another once someone has the virus and too many of those people then die without the humans they most love by their sides, it is utterly heartbreaking.  I pray that they feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and fall into the arms of Jesus.

It all feels surreal, I think, to many of us who haven’t lost someone in our immediate circle of friends or family.  It’s easier to complain about our inconveniences when the threat doesn’t feel real, yet.  My prayer for myself and everyone is that we come out of this kinder, more compassionate, less entitled and closer to Our Pappa God and His calling.  I pray we slow down.  My hope is that we come out of this season more loving human beings than human doings.

 

There’s a Lesson in Here, Somewhere

 

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

For a little bit I was frustrated with people whining about being stuck inside with nothing to do.  REALLY?  If we are the ones fortunate enough to be healthy, then sheltering isn’t a terrible alternative, is it?  There are plenty of things to do…               Write a letter to someone who would love to hear from you.  Call a friend or relative you should check up on or just haven’t had the time to really talk to in a while.  Do yoga – youtube has some great free ones.  Our favorite: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene .  Read a book or write one.  Cook really good food for yourself and/or your family.  Draw, paint.  If you can afford it, order books, food, paint, paper, whatever supplies you need, online or locally and have it delivered so that you can support someone trying to get through this.  If you are cooped up with family, take advantage of this.  We’ve been making yummy dinners and putting puzzles together and playing board games.  We’ve also binged a couple of shows together, but I can only do so much of that.  We’ve been purposely rotating our activities so that we don’t get bored.  We’ve gone on lots of walks and spent time in our backyard.   My favorite thing is to look online for ways to help others during this time.  There are elderly people who can’t leave their homes and they need food, medicine, books, etc.  You can pick it up and simply leave it at their door with a note of encouragement.

I spent the last several days enlarging my garden and planting all of the seeds I saved from last year.  I’ve deep cleaned a room or two – and still have several to go.  I’ve doubled my kombucha production to keep my family healthier and to share with friends and I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Although, if I’m being completely honest, I’m tired of cooking and cleaning.  It feels endless and futile, at times.

This. is. hard. 

It’s important that we take the time we need to grieve.  We can’t really move forward and do good things with a “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps” mentality.  Our Pappa God wants to walk through our grief with us.  When we are honest about our pain, and we sit with it, offering it to Him, only then can we move ahead and walk in the identity and plan He has for our lives.

 

So, let’s be honest.  THIS. IS. HARD.

But, it’s been revealing to me.  I’ve seen my privilege and it’s time to take a moment – or a couple of months – and really look at how I’ve been spending my time, how I react when things get “limited.”

I did not go crazy for tp, but if I’m straight with you, I already had 12 rolls in my linen closet because I’m blessed to have a Costco membership and I usually have an abundance of tp and papertowel.  There are people who don’t have the money to stock up more than a 4-pack on payday.  We used to be in that boat, I remember.  Now, I did go a little crazy for organic food and food, in general.  My fallback is to find my security in cash and food.  When my kiddos were little, I always had much more peace when the cupboards were full and some cash was in the bank – which, as previously mentioned, happened because I was busy running up our credit cards.  When those ran low, which was more the norm than the exception, you could find my babies parked in front of the television, with me behind a closed door desperately crying out to God to “bless” me with the stuff that made me feel secure.  With that I would frantically spend the next hours trying to figure out how to get out of our financial crisis completely on my own, with no waiting on Jesus to be found.

So, I found out a couple of weeks ago that the tendency to rest a bit in my full cupboards isn’t completely gone, but more than anything I have rested in my Pappa God.  It seems to me that He is telling me to get still with Him.

It feels a little like the church is very busy making sure that no one gets left feeling alone, meanwhile, maybe we could all use a little or a lot more quiet time with Our Pappa.  Perhaps, we could all use this time to get to know Him and our earthly family members in a way that we just couldn’t when the world was spinning as fast as it always does.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m using this time to reach out to my friends and extended family members.  I’m praying for them and talking to them, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the Zoom meetings and the seeming panic about keeping everyone SO connected to other human beings.

I’m incredibly thankful that my church is streaming our services and I get to worship “with” my church family – MY WORD!  I have missed this.  I was in tears almost the entire service this past two Sundays because it filled me up so almost completely.  There are so many blessings in the technology available to us during this time and I appreciate that.  I appreciate all my church leadership is doing to keep us connected to each other.  It just feels like everyone and their sister or brother is doing a Bible study, a daily devo or lesson, etc. during this time and we aren’t leaving any space for The Big Guy to be heard.  I’m not so sure He wants us to keep things “as normal as possible” because I don’t think He was terribly thrilled with our old normal.  I think this may be our chance to create a new normal based on His Word and His leading and we can only do that if we get still before Him and stop all of the busy-ness.  We have to trust that He can care for His children better than any of us can.  He is faithful.  He knew this was coming and He will work through this to make things better, if we will only follow His directions.

Maybe it’s just me, but I am finding joy in this quiet.  I am feeling a shaking out that will bring a new order, closer to what He calls me to.

My husband got his last paycheck (a few days late) – last week because his (very small local) company is struggling.  I lost one of my jobs 2 weeks ago and didn’t get to work at all last week.  We have enough money in the bank for next months rent and some money for food and our next car payment.  Our son, who lives with us and is a dad, lost his job, as well.

I am not worried.  When I look back over my life, He has ALWAYS been faithful.

A L W A Y S.

I’m thankful that He has patiently and generously walked this earthly journey with me, waiting for me to trust His faithfulness.  The gratefulness for this peace I’m experiencing in areas I used to be overwhelmingly enslaved to, is a gift that I cannot fully express in mere words.

I am committed to getting quiet with my Pappa God so that I can hear His still, small voice speak truth over my life.  I so do not want to waste this time He has blessed us with – forced upon us.  I think we would be foolish to not see His hand in all of this and ask Him what He wants us to do when this season is over.

People will come from faraway places to pitch in and rebuild the Temple of God. This will confirm that God-of-the-Angel-Armies did, in fact, send me to you. All this follows as you put your minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of your God.  – Zechariah 6:15

 

 

Well, Hello 2020 (a coronavirus rant)

2020.

It’s been a year, hasn’t it?!

As we settle into our new reality, one that the donald gaslights now and again (and again), I find myself trying to absorb it all, not just as my husband, children, grandbaby and I experience this, but from a bigger picture kind of viewpoint.

I have loads of opinions.

How are we (Americans) SO incredibly ignorant that we are blaming Asian individuals for this pandemic?!  I’d like to say that it’s especially stupid because most of the people getting attacked by white Americans are also American, but blaming any one people group for something like this is ludicrous.  Even if an individual from any people group has been proven to intentionally try to infect others with something deadly, why in the world are we aiming hatred toward an entire group?!  Also, these racists are so blinded by ignorant hate, that they are targeting anyone who is Asian, not simply Chinese.  At least during 9/11, Bush advised the country to be better and treat fellow American Muslims with respect, but now we’ve got the donald who continually refers to the Coronavirus as the Chinese virus, spurring on increased hatred toward our fellow Americans of Chinese decent.  We need to do SO MUCH better.

I’m TIRED of peeps in their 20’s, give or take, being reckless because they believe they are untouchable, while (ONE) they aren’t, (TWO) they can harm others, and (THREE) they are just setting a selfish, ridiculous example for other human beings on how we should care for one another.

Money is NEVER more important than human lives, and just because you have buckets full of it and the ability to get the best medical care does not mean you get a pass on insinuating you are some kind of freakish hero because you claim you are willing to risk catching covid-19 so that your heirs can have a wealthier future.  The fact that you have the luxury to be concerned about your “heirs,” while the people you represent aren’t sure if they can pay their mortgage next month is your sign.

This bailout situation is driving me a bit batty.  Why are we more concerned with bailing out big businesses before the average American?  The general attitude seems to be that the average person should be ashamed for not having 6 months of wages saved away, but somehow we are panickedly trying to save big corporations who haven’t put away enough to make it through the month – except their shareholders all seem to be living their best lives, still.

Toilet Paper?  Need I say more?  ALL OF THE FOOD and everything else in EVERY grocery store around the country?  It feels a little bit apocalypse-y, right?  Leave some for your neighbor.  Be kind.  It’s so much better than being greedy.

Homeless people, elderly people, immunocompromised people.

Those babies in cages, still.  The adults in cages, still.

A “president” that holds back help because his ego isn’t stroked enough.

Our exhausted, dedicated healthcare workers.  Pray for them, send them notes of encouragement, support them and be thankful for all they are doing and enduring during this tremendous crisis.

Churches and bars that continue to open their doors and invite people to risk their lives.

Did the owner of HL really treat his thousands of employees like that and try to blame the Holy Spirit?!

It’s been a year.

I pray we get still before Our Pappa God and hear what He is calling us to.  I pray we find a way to be kind to one another, to love one another as He would have us do.  I pray we come out of this so much more faithful, loving and relaxed than we’ve ever been.  Let’s not waste this time we’ve been given.

Grace Reins Down

How soon I forget, when shame overtakes and the spiraling begins.

Searching for Your guidance and feeling unsafe, exposed to the critical scrutiny of Your other children.

Setting my own bar too high because of my pride.

Panic.  Self-loathing.  

Crying out.  Remorse.

Getting still.  Listening.  

Going.  Confessing.

YOUR GRACE reins down through Your daughters, my sisters.

Thank you, my Faithful Pappa-God.

Thank you, faithful daughter, sisters.

It is sweet humility to be reminded that I’ve so far to go, but I am never alone on this difficult, grace-filled journey.

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