None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the Ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else!” -Keanu Reeves

None of us are getting out of here alive. So please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the Ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else!” -Keanu Reeves

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Why (Adverb): For what reason or purpose.  

“Why did he do it?”

Synonyms: how come, for what reason, for what purpose, what for, to what end

Most of you who read my blog and know my story, probably know by now that I try to be as honest and transparent as possible.  Writing is one of the things that helped me get through the absolute hardest time of my life thus far.  Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fact that I am THROUGH that season! My heart is healed! Can I get a WOOHOOOOO from the crowd?

Insert happy dance here!!!

Some of you may have heard by now that Frankie and I are taking steps to better our lives, and provide financial security for our family’s future.  One of the first steps that was asked of us, is to provide our reason(s) “why”.  I’ll get to those in a bit, but first I’d like to take a second and just picture out what the perfect life would look like for me.

When I was 15 years old, I wanted to  move to California, go to college and be a famous singer.  By the time 17 rolled around, I thought I might like to go to cosmetology school.  At 18, I got married.

My dreams were replaced by life.  They were pushed to the side, and I lost myself in another person.

By year 33, I was well on my way to being unexpectedly single.  If I had to come up with a word of phrase to describe myself at that time, I would say I was completely and utterly destroyed.  During those long and trying months, I looked at the word destroy as meaning defeated.  Now I can sit here today, looking back and seeing how the destruction transformed me.  I find myself thankful even for that season of my life.

1 Thessalonians 5:18- “In all things give thanks to the Lord.”

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in life, that we forget about our dreams.  Whether it be debt, working at a job you don’t love, raising a family, divorce, sickness….  I could go on all day about things that distract us from our life’s true purpose.  The point is that occasionally the chance at your dreams, it circles back around.  If I were to ask you today what you imagine your life would look like a year from now, could you picture it?  Would you picture it the same as today? Same old routine, same old job.  Working your entire life at a job, to help support someone else’s dream.

If that’s the case, either:

A) your life is perfect and doesn’t need to change 

or

B) you might have forgotten how to dream

My picture would look a little something like this…

I’m a wife, and bonus(step) mom.  I am a published, world renowned author. I am financially stable and don’t have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck.  We travel frequently for pleasure, but also we travel to spread kindness and love around the world.  It may sound cheesy, or like I have hippie tendencies, but this is my dream.  In my future we have time to spend a whole day just being silly with the kids, and we do this right smack dab in the middle of the week, not being forced to wait until the weekend.  If there is a field trip at school, I have the freedom to go.  I don’t have to miss out on everything. I see us succeeding in this new company, not by some magic strike it rich coincidence, but because we are desperate to reach our dreams.  I see myself standing on a stage in front of thousands of people, who for whatever reason are searching for something more.  I see myself sharing the fire in my heart with them.  I would tell them that fire didn’t come from money, or possessions.  It came from grace.  It came from deep inside a shattered heart, when there was only a sliver of light left.  You see the thing about light is, it only takes a tiny bit to chase away the darkness in life.  I see our family as being a bright spot for others, helping where we are needed without thinking twice about things like:

“If I give the homeless man twenty dollars, I can’t buy lunch today.”

“Ten dollars in gas will leave enough money in the bank to buy milk for breakfast.”

“I hope my car doesn’t break down, because we can’t afford the extra expense of having to repair/replace it.”

“What if I lose my job?”

At what point did we allow these phrases to become the norm?  We laugh when our pastor, or a friend, encourages us to use positive affirmations, because it makes us uncomfortable to repeat positive phrases.  Yet, every single day we repeat these negative affirmations of being broke, scared, lonely, anxiety filled, strugglers.  Which leads me to, my reason why.

Remember the definition of why from above.  What is my purpose?  There are people who live their whole life, and do not strive toward their purpose.  For me that purpose is multi-faceted.  For whatever reason, I was drawn into the lives of Hailey and Camden.  I had pretty much resigned myself to never being a parent.  Years back after the loss of a baby, I was too scared to try again.  Now I have the two of them, and I get the privilege of loving them with a mother’s heart.  Watching them grow and learn, while loving them unconditionally is my number one reason why.  I want to teach them how to truly live. I want them to learn how to strive for success for the right reasons.  Not because I want an 8 bedroom house on the beach,  to drive a fancy car and eat caviar every night, but simply to live a kind life and use my gain to lift up those around us.  I want to make the world around me a better place, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal.

Of course, I want to drive a nice car, live at the beach, and wear pretty shoes.  Those things are not the force that propel me in the direction of my future.

You want to know what drives me?  The man who fell asleep on the couch next to me at 7:45 PM, because he was worn out from coaching his daughters softball team.  The excitement on the kids faces when I tell them we are going to do something fun.  Wanderlust.  A desire to see every single, beautiful inch of the world we live in.  Happiness.  The way that Frankie can make me laugh even when I want to hit him.

 “Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other – it doesn’t matter who it is – and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.” -Mother Teresa

 We have been struggling financially for a bit, but he always manages to keep a positive attitude.  Today we were talking about the reason why we want to succeed, and he said, ” I want to not have to worry about money, or when I will have the next chance to earn a paycheck. It keeps me awake at night worrying.” (Looks like that makes two of us)

Of course you know I just HAD to “poke the bear” so I said, “that can’t be the only reason.  Everyone says that!”

His response, “I want to give my kids everything.  Not in a way that they are spoiled rotten, but I want them to have a good life.”

Sitting here, next to him while he snores away in his recliner, I know that we are giving them the best life we possibly can right now.  Our house is filled with laughter and love.  Hopefully they learn from watching us how to be happy in any situation, but that it’s okay to strive for something more.  It’s easy to put off the hustle for another day.  It would be a piece of cake to dwell on a hurtful past.  As for me, I refuse to let fear keep me from doing one single thing that I dream of. If I don’t reach the dream, I have no one to blame but myself.  There will be people along the way who will push you to smash your goals.  There will also be those who mock, or doubt that you will ever amount to anything.  Those people, are not your people.  Don’t let them deter you from your dream, instead encourage them to reach for theirs.

So when you wake up tomorrow, what steps will you take to change the thing that is holding you back?  Will you make excuses?  Or will you stand up and take action? Don’t let the Negative Nancy’s of the world derail your train.  Seek God, work hard, pray fervently, have joy right where you are, and RUN passionately toward your dreams my friends! Find something exciting that lights a fire in your soul, and GO! DO THAT!

“‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘What’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.” -Winnie The Pooh

We look forward…

It’s been such a long time since I’ve had the time to sit and write for y’all.  Writing is one of the many things that brings me peace.  In case you haven’t noticed, usually exactly what I’m going through or thinking about, is exactly what get’s put on the page for all of you.  I’ve been so busy lately.  By the time I’m home from the office, make dinner, and do whatever else needs attention, I find myself too tired to think clearly.

The last few days I’ve found myself thinking about all the stuff we miss out on because we’re busy, or we getting ready for tomorrow.  I mean before today is over, I have to shower for tomorrow, make lunches for tomorrow, wash laundry for tomorrow, and hurry to get to sleep so we can wake up tomorrow and do it all again.  Seems like things are always about what’s happening tomorrow, or at some point in the future.  We’re waiting to be skinny enough to wear the bikini.  We can’t wait to hang out with friends this weekend.  Someday we will take a trip to the beach.  It’s great to have things to look forward to.

As a matter of fact, I am ecstatic that one of my very best friends is coming to visit this weekend.  I’m excited that myself and my niece are hosting an event this weekend to honor 14 women, who very much deserve the love that we have to offer.  I can’t wait to spend a week on the beach this summer.

Maybe what you’re waiting for is different than what I am anticipating.  My point is, we spend so much time looking forward that we miss today.  We miss out on blessings, and laughter, because we’re too busy wishing for the “next” big life event.  Tonight for example, we were busy cleaning the house for our weekend guests and we got a little visitor.  Camden and his mommy stopped by to deliver girl scout cookies.  I could’ve made myself too busy focused on my preparations for tomorrow, but instead I stopped for a few minutes.  I had a silly conversation with one of the great loves of my life.  I stuffed him full of cookies and can only hope he ran crazy circles around his mom’s house when they got home.  It was a rough day for me today, and that little break with Cam, was the best part of the day for me.  To think that I could’ve missed out on that, makes me a little bit sad.

“Hope but never expect.  Look forward but never wait.”

If you’re anything like me, looking forward means anticipating.  I get an idea, or a picture, in my head of just how I think things will go in my life.  Humor me for a second, and stop and picture exactly how you’re life will go.  At one time, my picture looked like a white “Pickett” fence kind of life.  The thing about pictures is that sometimes not everything is as it seems.  We as humans… sometimes we fail.  We fall.  We break.  We hurt people we are supposed to love.  We picture the perfect life, as a wife, a mother, and a friend.  What happens when we are no longer a wife, the chance to be a mother passes us up, and we find ourselves drowning in longing for a better life.  Moving forward is inevitable.  We(I) sometimes get so worried about what might happen, because of what HAS happened in my life.  When there’s nothing left for you to give, I sincerely hope that someone comes along in your life to remind you just who you are.  When the spark within you has burned low, I hope someone passes by and fans the flame in your heart.

“You have to stop thinking you’ll be stuck in you’re situation forever.  We feel like our heart will never heal or we’ll never get out of this impossible struggle.  Don’t confuse a season for a lifetime.  Even your trials have an expiration date.  You will grow, life will change, things will work out.”  -Brittney Moses

 

Look forward, but don’t wait.  Know that there is a future out there and good things are in it.  There are also a lot of bad things, sad things, and hard things coming your way.  Don’t trade off your weekdays waiting for the weekend.  There are going to be many more Mondays through Thursdays in your life than there will be weekends.  Instead of wishing the week away, play board games on Monday night with the kids.  Find someone you love, and just be happy in the now.  Don’t waste time worrying about how the relationship will develop.  You cannot control another person’s feelings.  You can’t force someone to be a good husband, boyfriend, friend.  The truth is, there will be friends that stick by your side for your whole life.  There will be people that you thought were friends, who rip your emotions open and leave you to pick up the pieces.  I’ve learned the hard way that with some people you can talk until you run out of words, and still find no common understanding.  I’m here to tell you, it is OK! 

“Not everyone will understand your journey.  That’s okay.  You’re here to live your life, not to make everyone understand.”

I heard a song this morning that talked about a person who felt like their faith was so small.  Something had occurred to damage their faith.  They were angry at God.  The song continued on to state that, even when their faith was so small that it was almost non-existent, the singer still knew that God was there.  I found myself crying like a baby on the drive to work.  Remembering a time when I prayed, and knew with certainty that God heard the prayer.  He definitely heard the prayer, but the answer wasn’t what I expected.  It took a good long while before I was able to pray with certainty again.  The very first time that I have prayed for something with expectancy, in a really long time was YESTERDAY y’all. Even as my lips were whispering the words, I was shocked to hear the prayer. As he lay sleeping in bed, I laid a hand on his back and I prayed.  The prayer itself is important to no one but myself and my God, but the process of coming back to faith is a circle.  Life events can cause us to draw back, or pause the process.  If we jumped forward to all the good times, we would miss out on thousands of connections and changes.  I have found that I appreciate the good all the more when it comes around now, in spite of the bad.  So while I cannot wait to spend my Saturday with a bunch of women, some of whom I will meet for the first time, some I’ve known almost my whole life, I’ll enjoy this Monday night watching Arrow on Netflix.  While I would LOVE to have a new last name someday, I’ll be just fine with the name I have for as long as I have it.  While I’ve lost some friends, because we don’t see eye to eye, I’ll not wish bad things for them.  I would even lift them up if given the chance.  For a while there, I almost lost myself, and my true purpose in life.  That purpose is so very simple.  

“If you want more kindness in the world put it there.” 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate kindness

This blog has been sitting here in my que half finished since summertime. I’m just now getting around to finishing it up. Enjoy!

I’ve been kicking around the idea of sitting down to write for Y’all since last Friday.  Apparently, that was the one and a half year anniversary of the day we met.  Most people say that time flies and it feels not nearly as long as it’s been.  For me…  I feel like I’ve known him my whole life.  When I stop and remember that I haven’t, I get a little sad.

Let me set the scene of last Friday for you.  We were rushing off to our home town to spend some time with our families, we hopped in the truck and rolled down the windows as we pulled out of the drive.  I looked up on the dash and saw his favorite hat.  When I questioned why he wore one hat and brought another, he said, “I grabbed that one for you.”

hat

I put it on, and said, “Thank you for letting me wear your favorite hat.”  During the hour long drive, I kept catching myself smiling as I thought about this old ball cap.  I know as much as I try to fight it, occasionally I’m still a hopeless romantic.  This hat, was the hat he was wearing the day we met, and on so many of our other adventures in the past 18 months. Isn’t it funny how something so silly can trigger a strand of memories.

Back in October, we were on a family camping trip.  I found myself, walking along a gravel bar at the river.  For what ever reason, I find meaning in inanimate objects from time to time.  On this particular day, I happened to look down and see a heart.  Well, not so much a heart as a rock shaped like a heart.  Immediately, I thought of someone who has been a big part of my life for many years.  I picked it up with every intention of writing a letter and mailing it to her. It wasn’t a perfect shaped heart, but I knew she would find meaning in it. One of the edges was a little worn and there was a dip in the center where water had ran over the top and changed the shape a little.

As you know by now, I’m a deep thinker. This little rock took my mind on a journey of thought which started with the phrase, “A heart that’s misshapen is, for all intents and purposes, still alive.”

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t actually grasp the meaning of that phrase. It really is amazing the amount of damage a heart can withstand and somehow manage to not only survive but be stronger than before. I’ve learned a lot of things about myself and this heart of mine over the years. One of them is this, “You can spend your whole life collecting possessions, and at the end of it all you will have is a pile of stuff that no one wants. Or… you can collect moments. You can spend your time with people who make you laugh and encourage you to be “you”. You can let those good and bad moments touch your heart and change you for the better, or you can become bitter and angry. I choose to hold onto the good, and stand tall and strong in the face of the bad. Even though “life” sometimes changes the shape of our metaphorical hearts, as long as they continue beating within us there is still hope.

A few weeks back we headed down to one of our favorite person’s house for a friends dinner and game day. It was a normal kind of day, there were a bunch of us there just hanging out. Dinner was ready and they said let’s get together and pray. Of course they chose the Frankster to say the prayer. You know what y’all, he didn’t even hesitate. Just grabbed our hands and started in. Granted it was the first time I’ve ever laughed out loud during prayer, but it was sincere and genuine. As I stood there I started thinking about each of us in that circle. Some of them I’d known since they were born, some since high school, and a few not very long at all. We all had something in common, not a single one of us standing there was pretending to be perfect. As we all stood there, heads bowed, some of us belly laughing I imagined our God smiling down and shaking his head. I can hear him saying, “and that’s why I sent Jesus…”.

You see these past few weeks I’ve had a really rough time with people. It seems like everyone has forgotten how to be nice. I find myself thinking, isn’t this the season of giving?” I look around and the only thing I see people giving out are dirty looks, honking horns, and the finger… I’m so tired of the hateful unkind place we live in. What can we do you might ask? First thing is, we can not let someone else’s bad behavior ruin our ability to treat others with kindness. Slow down the hustle and bustle for long enough to get joy in time spent with family.

Remember the reason we are celebrating. Not for the presents, food, or decorations. Make it more about appreciation and thankfulness than gifts. I promise, y’all will be a lot happier.

If you wake up tomorrow consider it a gift. Use the extra time to add a little sparkle to the world. Instead of frowning at the person in line behind you at the grocery store and worrying how you will get everything done in time, why not smile and have a conversation with a stranger. I mean after all…. it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart…

In lieu of events taking place today (well, almost today it’s 11:44 PM), I thought, “what better title for a blog could there be.”  I actually have another blog mostly finished and ready to go, but here I am typing out a whole new one, as if I have nothing but free time.  Let me start by saying, I’m not all that excited about this eclipse.  I know there are so many of you that absolutely cannot wait to see this, I just feel kind of “ehhh” about it.  If you are excited for this, I hope it turns out to be amazing.  Me, I’m more excited about the possibilities for lunch.

Here I was sitting on our old worn out couch, thinking about the eclipse tomorrow.  There were at least a few too many minutes spent wondering if I needed to leave 2 hours early for work to get there on time.  All of a sudden, I was singing an old familiar tune…   “Turn around bright eyes.”  I started thinking about how this eclipse is going to cast darkness on the earth for a maximum length of approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds, depending on your location.  You may be wondering, just where is this crazy woman going with all of this?  How does one compare a Solar eclipse with an eclipse of the heart?  Laugh at me if you must, but that’s just how my mind works.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that cast what felt like heavy darkness on your heart?

brokenhearted

There are at least a hundred opportunities a day to fail, or get sad, discouraged, let down, depressed, or broken hearted.   Ultimately, YOU, have the power to decide what you are going to give control to in your life.  There are some instances, or at least recently in my case, that you never see the hurt coming.  I don’t know when I became strong enough to realize that I could feel the burn, so to speak, but not let it destroy me.  When sadness knocks at the door, it can be surrounded by joy if I choose.

Proverbs 17:22

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

 Option one goes like this:

You can trust my authority on this option, because I’ve traveled down this path many times.  I could wallow and think, “oh poor me, I can’t believe someone would do this to me”.  In my mind that is giving power, where no power is due.  Honestly, I used to be more of the wallowing type.  I would let the situation get me down, and keep me there.  That eclipse would’ve lasted a good three weeks at least.  Can I get an amen from some of my fellow pity party attendees?

 James 1:2-4

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Somewhere along the way, a switch flipped and a little lightbulb came on inside of me.  I don’t always recognize when someone doesn’t have my best interests at heart, because I try to see the best in people.  If I’ve learned one thing it’s how to forgive someone but still have the ability to walk away.  Dwelling in that place of, “do you know what he/she did to me” or constantly analyzing the situation to figure out the “why”, really get’s a person(aka ME) nowhere.

analyze.jpg

This brings us to option number two:

Forgive and forget.  LET IT GO.  What exactly does forgiveness entail?  Do I have to continue the friendship with someone who terribly hurt me?  Honestly, I could give you thoughts and scriptures to take this to the extreme in either direction.  When God forgives us, the bible says he wipes our sins as far as the east is from the west.  Then he forgets them, just like that, they are GONE!  How many times do we ask for that forgiveness, and then continue to punish or judge our own selves for the sin that God has promised to wipe away and forget.  He loves us no differently.

Isaiah 43:25

“I, yes, I alone am he who blots away your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”

Many times in my life, I’ve forgiven, and continued the friendship or relationship as if nothing had ever happened.  At this point in life, I believe that there are instances where maybe someone was put in your life for just a season.  There are those who are meant to teach us some hard learned lessons.  Once the lesson is learned, we can’t go back to what we once were.  I lost a very good friend recently, right in the middle of a “lesson”.  No matter how much I want to go back, I know better.  That season in my life has passed.

Psalm 104:9

“He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.”

If you watch closely,(with the proper eyewear of course) the moon will blot out the light and cause darkness for just a little while, but in the end the light will remain.

ring

It’s the same with these situations that we face in our everyday life.  The amount of time the darkness, or a pity party, can dim our light…   well, that kind of depends on where we are.  I don’t mean your location on a map.  I’m talking, when was the last time you read your bible y’all?  When was the last time you talked to God?  When was the last time you stepped foot in a church?  Maybe you go to church every Sunday, because it’s what you’re supposed to do.  I had a friend one time ask me, “why do I need to go to church?”  I think she had asked this question of others from time to time.   The answer I gave her, was NOT what she was expecting.  She was shocked when I didn’t tell her I go to church because the bible says to, or to make myself feel better, or what ever reason people go.  My answer was simple…  I go to church because I love God more than I love all the reason that would keep me home.  At the same time, I don’t believe “Church” has to be held in a building with a congregation.  Sometimes it’s in the car on my way to work, when I just want to sing praise.

bible

I’ve felt God’s presence while sitting in a barn listening to old gospel music, with someone I’ve come to love very dearly.(although he won’t admit he’s pretty fond of me too)  I’ve felt it in a conversation with a friend, that came at just the right time.  Honestly, I don’t believe church is a place at all.  Church is a group of people.  Church is a way of life, that delivers kindness at every turn.

reminder.png

If you were to google “churches near me” it wouldn’t be very hard to find 20 or so.  How many do you think you would find if you looked for the church as I see it?  So many times we let the bad things in life distract us from lifting up those around us.  We are so focused on the eclipse in our own life, that we don’t notice the people hurting and broken all around us.  I’m oh so guilty of this!  I’m begging you friends, please instead of staring at the darkness and becoming cranky and unkind, focus on the aspects of love and be the light during someone else’s eclipse moment.

corinthians

Easy Like Sunday Morning…

Easy is a word that doesn’t show up a lot in our day to day lives. Often times, we make things WAY harder than they have to be. I’ve heard the saying hundreds of times, “Let go and let God.” It’s sounds way easier than it actually is. Most of the time I can’t let it go until I’m dragging a thousand pound problem behind me. One of my hobbies is making mountains out of molehills. Eventually I find myself standing at the top of the molehill, it just takes a little perseverance.

I’ve had this one line from a song running through my head for days.  I found myself thinking, “I could use an easy Sunday morning, or maybe three.”  I’ve felt the pull to write for about a month now, but every time I sit down with my laptop focusing becomes a huge problem.  Most of the time I’m just too tired to think straight.  I’ve had so much on my mind y’all.  Last week was just plain Hard with a capital H!  I know I’ve felt more than once in even just the last few days that we just can win.  It seems like something is always breaking, someone is sick, or there’s an issue somewhere.  I’d like to say I just smile and handle the situation to the best of my ability.  Clearly that’s not always the case here.  I spent most of last Monday evening in tears.  Tuesday I was angry all day because of something I couldn’t control.  The week just got better from there friends.  Honestly, I let a situation have power over me and ruin a whole week.

I did learn a few things about myself in the middle of a difficult week.  Even when pressed down, I will eventually rise above.  In the middle of feeling defeated, I can turn still turn to my faith and be filled with peace.  One night in particular, I awoke at 3 A.M. and my mind was in overdrive.  I’m not kidding you when I say, I said, “God you promised that we could give our burdens to you.  Show me the truth in this situation, and please help me to rest.”  I had one of the best nights of sleep that I’ve had in a long time.

easy

The funny thing is, I thought to myself, “I better look up the lyrics to that song, before I write about an easy Sunday morning.”  What a surprise to see that it’s not just about an easy life.  As a matter of fact it seems to be the complete opposite.  The man singing the song has just had a really horrible time, or so it seems.  Finally though, he’s going to stand up for himself and do what is best for him.  WOW, how perfectly could I place myself in that song, from many past and some present situations.  In the past week I’ve spent a lot of time soul-searching.  Someone I loved dearly served me a reminder that I am supposed to guard my heart.

Proverbs 4:23

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

It was my own fault.  I opened it up wide.  I really don’t know how to love in halves.  I shared what I was feeling with said person, and now I want to forget about the whole thing and run the opposite direction.  I may end up doing just that, who knows.  I truly believe you can forgive someone, but not let them have the same place in your heart that they once did. I have absolutely no idea what will happen in that situation.  I’m trusting that it will turn out exactly the way it’s supposed to.   Sadly sometimes you just have to keep your head down and press on.  That’s the funny thing about life, it just keeps moving, with or without us.  I absolutely refuse to stand still and be beaten down by circumstance.  In the last few months, so many things have happened that could hold me back.  I’ve been more than discouraged, but I’m not sure I know the word for it.  I actually opened a new browser to google “more than discouraged”, but a bible verse ran through my mind…  my faith led me to search, MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

Romans 8:31-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 

 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

What is a conqueror exactly?  I guess it means: (insert shoulder shrug), someone who doesn’t give up no matter what obstacles stand in their way.  Generally, when it comes to important matters, I’m very slow to speak.  I understand that once the word is said, sometimes the only thing to swallow is the foot in your own mouth.  When I read Roman’s 8:31, through my two little eyes, I heard, “none of those things that have happened to me have the power to defeat me.  That is… unless I let them.”

In the middle of all the chaos, I’ve taken some time to search my own heart.  It seems I’ve let some things in there that don’t belong.  Those things are starting to change me, and quite frankly I don’t like it.  When my first inclination is not kindness, that’s a red flag.  When I let someone else’s actions start to shape my attitude, red flag number two.

change

 

As I sit here writing, I’ve made myself a promise.  I’ll put in the work to be the best version of me.  I’m no longer going to let circumstances steal my peace, because circumstances change.  Life changes.  Sometimes people do things to us that are very wrong.  Things have happened in my life in the past few months that I am disgusted by.  I’d rather not elaborate.  I haven’t decided what to do about them yet, but it’s had me down.  It’s had me confused, hurt, and angry.  I just kept thinking, “LET IT GO, LET IT GO.”  As it turns out, my name isn’t Elsa.  It probably would have been easier for her.  Well, wait…  didn’t she run away and build herself a fortress out of ice?  The ice castle, maybe that was the place that she found her peace.  My place is the beach.  The problem is, I’m right smack dab in the middle of a whole bunch of land.  I can’t run off to the Ocean every time I need a break.(someday I will live there)  I’m learning to draw peace from my faith.  When something is bothering me, as soon as I can get a moment alone, I give it to God.  That’s not saying I never pick it back up.  On a good day I only have to lay my burdens down 50 or 60 times.  Eventually I leave them.  What can I say, sometimes these things just take a little time.

carry-it-with-me

I really do think I’ve finally decided to lay this down, and leave it though.  I’m tired of trying to figure out why anyone would do such things.  I’m tired of trying to figure out what to do.  I’m asking any of you who read this to pray with or for me.  I’m not sure exactly where God is leading.  Just when I think I have it figured out…   there comes a curveball, and things don’t turn out the way I thought they would.

abby

Often I find myself wishing I knew the next step, or even the next three.  Ultimately,  I know exactly why I can’t see the plan for my life laid out like a map.  God wants us to trust him to provide the light for the next step.  If we knew exactly how things were going to turn out, we wouldn’t have to trust Him.  We wouldn’t have to seek his hand on our lives.  When chaos surrounds my life, I choose to look to Him who made me.  He is my easy Sunday morning.  He is my rest.  He will fight for me when I don’t have the words to stand up for myself.

Exodus 14:14

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

(English Standard Version)

 

 

 

Chopping Tomatoes and Pondering Life

It’s funny how such innate objects, can sometimes bring back a flood of memories.  Just this morning, I was boiling water so I could blanche some tomatoes for a batch of homemade pizza sauce.  As I lifted them out of the boiling water and dropped them into the waiting bowl of ice water in our kitchen sink, I thought of George.  I could just picture him standing at my old kitchen stove, stirring the giant pan of salsa that we’d spent hours making.  It was the first time ever that I’d put zucchini in my salsa.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him, I didn’t think I was going to like it in there.  We spent the day laughing, chopping, and canning.

As I reached my hands down in the ice cold water, I gently squeezed the tomatoes, removing the parts that I didn’t want in my sauce.  For a minute I saw his hands, shaky with old age, performing the same task that I was now doing.

hands

He struggled to hold the knife steady, but still he pressed on to complete the process.  You see George could see the end result, to what we were doing.  He knew it was going to be wonderful.  I’m certain he could picture the look on our loved ones faces, when we presented them with a jar of our homemade, homegrown salsa.  As I sit here writing, in a completely different house than George and I were in, I find myself thinking of how quickly things can change.  That day, almost two years ago, we were in my kitchen of 15 years.  Sometimes looking back, I am amazed at just how much has transformed in my life.  I believe at certain times we are like the tomato, and God will let us get into a little “hot water” so to speak, to peel away the impurities that are present in us.  Once we have cooled down, and they have been smoothed away, He uses what’s left to make something wonderful.

Although I don’t understand a lot of the situations I have previously faced, I can certainly look back and see how they made me just who I am.  I’m not there yet, but I am constantly becoming.  Becoming wiser, becoming braver, becoming kinder, just becoming… well a little more of who I’m made to be each day.

ocean

So…  let’s take the story back to George.  The first memory I have of the man is probably when I was in about the 7th grade, he would volunteer at his daughter’s sports events.  Honestly a lot of years passed without a thought of old George, then one day God saw fit to place us back in each others lives through my connection with his daughter.  Honestly,  anytime I saw the man, his face would light up.  I don’t know why, but he loved me.  It’s one of the very few relationships that I’ve never had to question, does this person like me?  Nothing was required to be his friend, except for being his friend.

I’m told the man that I knew wasn’t always the same.  He went through many stages in his life, as most of us do.  I remember his daughter telling me about the day she came home and found him on his knees dedicating his life to Christ.  From that day on, he began transforming into the man I knew and loved.  Sometimes in life, it takes a good strong “Shake” to wake us up and turn us towards what’s important.  I don’t know the life story of my sweet old friend, but I know he was loved.  I know even at the end of his life, he pointed his family towards God.  At the end of the day he was just as human as the rest of us.  He had something that some of us seek, some of us have found, and some of us will refuse to acknowledge.  He had peace, the kind of peace that can only come from one place.  He was able to laugh even when he knew the end was near.

 

Life tends to take us down some unfamiliar roads.  Some of those roads are terribly hard and sad.  The thing is, sad can’t last forever.  You have to keep moving, and keep your eyes fixed on the things that truly matter.  I talk a lot about being a light for others, but what about yourself.  What if you find yourself in a dark hole with no one willing to be a light for you?  What then, my friends?  In my life, I have found that the very act of reaching out and lifting someone else while in the middle of the dark yourself, makes a little spark of light inside of your own heart.

peace

One of my coworkers, said to me last week, “We are possibly a third of the way through our lives.”  I don’t really feel like I’m that old.  I don’t want to be a third of the way to through.  I’ve got so much I want to accomplish.  Write a book, travel, raise a family, change the world….  I know, I’m not asking for much.  There are many things I long for in my own personal life that may never come to pass.  As my friend and office mate pointed out though, “we better start living!”

More often than not, we let opportunity pass us by because we are tired, busy, or just flat out lazy.  I have heard stories of George being a butcher, a dad, a husband, and there was even a rumor I think I overheard about him being in the circus.  Seems to me like he really knew how to live.  I’ve made so many mistakes in my life.  Fear held me back more times than I would like to admit.  One thing that the old man and I had in common, was that we know how to love.  He loved his family fiercely!  He loved his friends like they were family… and oh boy did he love to fish!

fishing

People today, change who and what they love as swiftly as the wind blows.  Loyalty and Honesty have taken a backseat to cheating and lies.  I’ve had the words, “I just don’t love you anymore” burned into my heart.  I could’ve let it harden me, but instead I let it mold me.  Every day, I choose love.  When I’m helping to raise two children, who aren’t mine by blood, I don’t stop and think “these aren’t my children.”   For what ever reason my heart got linked to theirs, and I will love them just as fiercely as if they were my blood.  I’ll teach them things, like how to make salsa, how to treat others, and hopefully how to love God.  They don’t NEED me in their lives, but I find that now I have come to need them in mine.  I’m proud so proud of their daddy for the changes I’ve seen him making in himself in the past weeks.  Letting go of past hurts, and just moving forward in kindness is not always easy.  The fact that George’s daughter could recall the story of when she started seeing a change in him for the better, reminds me that I’m not the only one watching.  We have two little sets of eyes that see and remember most everything.

Yesterday was the one year mark since George’s last breath.  I KNOW he is greatly missed.  I’ll admit I cried, the ugly kind of cry, while writing this…  but I know that if he were here, he would have placed a hand on my shoulder and said, “what’s the matter sis?”  I’m almost positive he would’ve reminded me that everything would be alright.  Then he would have said something silly to make me smile.

joke  I asked one of George’s daughters to send me her favorite picture of him.  She of course sent this one and her comment was perfect.  “The one with the girls, He was telling them a joke.  He always wanted to make them laugh.”

 

Honestly, I just wanted to make some pizza sauce today.  I had no plans of writing this blog.  In fact I had planned to give up writing all together.  Someone just said to me last night, find the thing that you’re good at and do that.  I’m so thankful that, just like George, I’m good at loving people.  The pizza has been made, and eaten.  I even made a few extra for some people that I love.  I’m ending the day, and a pretty good day might I add, sending a little love to all of you.  I’ll leave y’all with my favorite poem and one I saw enacted in the life of my dear friend and his entire family.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway

 

When all you can see is yourself in the middle of the storm, look up and know that there is something above the storm.

“Job 14:7-9-
“For there is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grows old in the earth and its stump die in the soil yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.”

I don’t know what I’m about to write for y’all tonight.  I don’t have eloquent words to share, but what I do have is straight from my heart.  I’m tired, but as I sit here preparing for sleep, a little voice inside says, “write something.”

Tonight let’s try something different…

I sat down with the laptop, and not a single notion of what to write about.  Usually I have an idea stewing in my head for days, and then when I finally find time to put it into words, it flows freely.  These days though, I don’t have time to think about anything extra.  There are too many thoughts crammed inside my head, so I will try and clear my mind for a minute, and share with you the first thing that pops in there.  Here Goes!

God ALWAYS provides a way out for his people.  There are many times in the bible, one(or more) of his servants were “stuck” in a tricky situation.  He sent Moses to save the people of Egypt.  He went into the fiery furnace and saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He told Noah to build an ark, for crying out loud.  Ultimately He sent his son to save anyone who would believe.  Why is it that in hard times, he is the last place we run?  I’m so guilty of this.  The only answer I can give is that I spend too much time focusing on solving the problem myself, instead of just trusting.  Once a situation has passed, I can typically see where God’s hand was guiding me.

I guess I’ve just been having a tough time in a few different areas lately.  In the past I’ve written a lot about anxiety, divorce, hard times and all the things that I’ve felt so deeply.  I think, I’ve been avoiding blogging because I’m tired of writing about those things.  Frankly I’m sick of feeling them.  I’ve learned that not everything is meant to be shared.  Not everyone cares where you’ve come from, and things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to.  Sometimes though, sharing can help someone else feel a little bit less alone in the world.  People will walk away, that’s a fact of life, but occasionally someone comes running towards you and takes you completely by surprise.   Someone said to me this past week, “You’re never going to be able to control the actions of another person.  You basically just have to decide whether to trust them, or walk away.”  As far as things not turning out the way we expect them to, well, that’s not always a bad thing.  What if things just happen to turn out better than we expect?  Isn’t that what we are taught in church?  God is much, much larger than our expectations.(Ephesians 3:20)

If we believe this, I mean really believe it, then why do we spend so much time worrying about how things will turn out?  I’m trying to stop… really I am.  The problem I’m facing at the moment is that when I get sad,(remember I said I’m tired of being sad) I refuse to cry so I get mad instead.  I tend to shut down, and have a little bit of trouble focusing on whatever task is at hand.  At times all I can see is the metaphorical storm, even though I know I am much better off when I pause, take time to pray about it, and keep my head up.  Too many times, we let people’s opinion of us cause our heads to drop in shame.

Psalm 3:3

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

I’ve finally reached a point where I’m not constantly apologizing for being who I am.  I know my heart, I know the areas that need improving, and I’m trying.  I’ve got a whole lot of trying in me.  If I lack, it’s certainly not in persistency.  I just keep on trying, even when I feel like I’m failing miserably.

Today was not really a good day, it’s just been a couple of long days in a row.  I spent a big part of my evening fighting back tears.  As we sit here on the couch, I looked over and said, “How much do you love me?”

He replied, as expected, with an all familiar, “too!”  As in, “I love you too.”  I found myself smiling, because I know there’s not just one, but three of them that love me “too”.  They don’t always act like it, but we’re learning.  Saturday will be the anniversary of our first year together.  In a way it’s bittersweet, because I tend to worry about what if.  He has said it a thousand times, “just let it be okay and develop stronger over time.”  I’m always the first to arrive, or think I’ve arrived at the place I’m supposed to be.  If it takes us a while to get there together, I’ll work on my patience along the way.  I get frustrated, and worn out, but I won’t walk away.  I am trustworthy, and always loyal.  I put a whole lot of effort in everything I do, well, except for maybe laundry.  Honestly, I don’t care about fancy things or diamond rings.  I just want to know without a doubt, that I’m loved and appreciated.  Being able to crawl up beside you on the couch when I need someone to just hold on for a few minutes, goes a whole lot farther in my book than a dozen roses.  Ask Camden, he’ll tell you I like tulips better than roses anyway.

tulip

Maybe I’m silly, for not wanting the things that money can buy.  Y’all, I might get dumped when he reads that I want so much more than his money.  I don’t think what I’m asking for is too much.  It’s really not complicated at all.  Just come home to me. and only me, each night.  Be kind, even when it’s not your first instinct.  Smile, you know the one… the smile that’s just for me, where your eyes crinkle around the edges and I get weak in the knees.  Recognize that I spend most of my time putting everyone else’s needs before my own, and every once in a while take some time to make me feel special.  I try so hard to let you know you are priceless, handsome, and amazing.  Never stop talking to me, communication is the key.  I want to know everything about you, but not in a creepy stalker sort of way.(I mean unless you’re into that, then creeper status it is.)

A friend and I were talking the other day and she said, “sometimes marriages/relationships get stale.”  I’m sure I read way more into it than she expected, but I can’t stop thinking about that comment.  If a relationship is going to last, then when the stale comes, you find a way to refresh.  You talk to each other, and move as one unit.  There will be many season throughout life, some anticipated and some not.  Maybe I’m old school, but I truly believe that commitment means that you stick.  You fight for the things you want in the relationship, but you don’t run away when times get tough.  Believe it or not, there are people out there that can and will remain faithful for a lifetime.  I’ve said it too many times to count, Love is so much more than a feeling.  It’s being there for someone else even when you are tired, sick, and broken yourself.  Love is choosing me, even when I’m quite hard to love.  As I said at the beginning I’m tired, and I’ve been writing way past my bedtime.  I’ll leave you with a little piece of my heart, and an excerpt from my book:

“Job 14:7-9-

“For there is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grows old in the earth and its stump die in the soil yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.”

 

I just read the entire book of Job and do not remember reading this scripture.  I have to admit, I googled the tree growing new sprouts.  This really does happen!  This scripture is speaking hope to my soul as I’m writing.  It says to me, even though it may seem my marriage is like a tree being cut down with seemingly nothing left, there is still hope.  For if a tree can sprout new growth with just a little water after being cut down, how much more can we grow together with Jesus Christ, the living water in us.  My God must be working on some new “sprouts” that will never cease!”

 

It’s funny to me now, that I was so confident that the marriage would survive.  I saw it as the tree cut down, and in a sense it was.  Even more so, I was the tree and those new sprouts came up, just not in the way I expected.  Today I sit here, thankful for the process.  Thankful for the lumberjack, and forever grateful for all the new sprouts.

tree