Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart'" ~ 1Samuel 16:7

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

the extra weight?
frown lines?
gray hairs?
dark circles?
brown eyes you wished were green?
crooked teeth?

Maybe you're like me....instead of physical attributes or flaws, you look deeper? Are you reminded of your mistakes? do you hear the voices of the past pointing at you reminding you that you're......

a mistake?

I have a friend, her name is Veronica. No that's not her real name and no she isn't "me". She could be though. She's a mini-me. Veronica and I share many many similarities. Our bond began when we realized we are both broken children, from broken homes, born of broken parents. 

When I look into her eyes, I see the hurt, the worry, the fear, the confusion, and the yearning. I see this young woman, her whole life infront of  her, desperate to get it right. Afraid she'll never heal, never know REAL love, never measure up. All she can see is her own inner turmoil.

She reminds me so much of myself 20 years ago. I wanted so badly to create the perfect life. A loving husband, 2.5 children, a puppy bounding through the yard. I wanted the Norman Rockwell holidays with family and the Caribbean vacations with dear friends. I  wanted the best friend forever and the satisfying job with a decent paycheck. I wanted all of those things and never  dared to dream they'd truly become MY reality.

Veronica has become one of my treasured friends and a surrogate daughter of sorts. There's so much I want to show her, teach her, remind her. In doing so, I'm reminding myself. I'm able to see how far I've come and how grateful am. So my sweet girl, this letter is for you....and its for me

Dear Veronica:

You have absolutely no idea how wonderful you are. I am going to remind you.  The world has lied to you. People, including your parents, have made some terrible decisions that have affected your life and your health and your idea of who you are. They were wrong.

You are brilliant and funny and beautiful. Every day, you make someone smile, feel loved, feel special. Every single day. period.

You are perfect. Your eyes are just the right color, your hair has just the right curl, your arms are exactly the right length. I promise you, God has created you to be exactly who you are. You are perfect.

You have nothing to be afraid of. This is your life, you hold the paper and the pen. You get to create this masterpiece. You decide where you go from here. All those dreams you have are at your fingertips. Stop being afraid and live.

You don't have to be strong. When you show who you really are to others, you allow them the freedom to  be real with you too. We are all hurt, wounded, confused. Some hide it better than others but its true. We all desperately want, need to be loved.

You don't have to pretend to be anyone other than yourself. All of those things about you that you think are "crazy" or "weird" are pieces of yourself and they are awesome. AWESOMEEEEEE! Celebrate them!

I love coffee, hate bananas, cry at weddings, love to  read until the weeee hours of the morning. I ran my first 5k at 42 years old, 100 lbs over weight. I never get the words to the song right, I'm a shameless Momma Bear when it comes to my girls and I have been in love with the same man my entire life. THIS IS ME. If someone can't deal with that, see ya!

Veronica, be you, because I think you is fantastic. I see you on the other side of the mirror and I promise you, it'll work out just fine. I love you. I'll be here for you. Night or day, during the darkest moments and the moments we laugh until we cry. I'll be here.

Que Bruno Mars: "When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change, 'cause you're amazing, just the way you are"

Dear God, it is my deepest prayer, my sweet friend will realize all she is, is all that she needs to be. SHE is perfect just the way she is. Show her the joy in each day, bless her with loving family and friends and fulfill her deepest dreams and desires. ~amen!

Monday, August 27, 2012

"sticks & stones"

" Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing"~ Proverbs 12:18

We've all heard the little children's rhyme "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me". I don't think anything could be further from the truth. Words break us, often deeper and harder and longer than sticks and stones ever could. Some words wound so deeply, that without divine intervention you can never heal.

This weekend I attended my daughter's field hockey jamboree. I so looked forward to the day with my hubby, soaking up the sunshine and watching my daughter begin her senior year of high school doing something that brings her joy.

It wasn't long before my "perfect day" was rudely interrupted. A little boy, 7 maybe 8 years old, happily walked along  the edge of the playing field, singing to himself, lost in his own happy little world. Distracted and unaware, he crossed into playing territory. Please understand, the game was actually at the other end of the field at the time. He was in no way interfering with the field hockey game.

Suddenly his little face changed as his  mother began to rant from bleachers. One explative after another, she chastised the poor kid for walking onto the field. A small infraction caused such an extreme reaction. I wondered how she'd react if he'd done something REALLY wrong.

An hour or so later, a different field and a different game later,  I overheard a conversation between  the husband and wife beside us.

"Who is #16?"
"Oh that's Sarah"
"Well, she's not very good. How did SHE make Varsity?!!"

Everything in me began to BOIL. Seriously? This woman was referring to her daughter's team mate! She cleary didn't know who the player was, which also infers she had no idea who the parents were. How did she know this girl's mom wasn't  sitting beside her in the bleachers? How did she know I wasn't this girls mom!?

This has been weighing on my mind ever since. For years I have listened to the opinions and the voices and the words around me. Like a sponge, I have soaked them in, absorbed them and held onto them. My heart and my soul have become stained with the thoughts and opinions of others. I have become infected, like a sponge will if its not properly cleaned and disinfected.

"You're so stupid"

"You're so fat"

"You look, smell, act, like a french whore"

"You'll never amount to anything"

"You disgust me, embarass me"

"You're a bad friend"

"You can't do anything right"

"You're just like your father"

"You can't do THAT! Who do you think  you are?"

I could go on and on with the list. My point is this.....our children, the childen in our sphere of influence,  BELIEVE everything we tell them. If you tell them they are ugly, they'll believe you. If you tell them they're stupid, they'll believe you. If you tell them they're useless, they'll believe.

I have spent 42 years trying to reprogram the recurring soundtrack in my mind. It continues to be a battle I fight every day.

Please please please be careful with your words. They can build up or they can tear down. Not only children but adults as well. Sticks and stone do break bones, but words break souls and spirits.

Dear Lord, help me to choose my words wisely. May I use them to encourage, love, support, celebrate, cheer on the people I come into contact with each day. I pray you will continue to help me discard the lies that no longer serve me. Teach me to be who you say I am, not who others say I am. In your name I pray, Amen <3

Happy Monday Hugs!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Today's Top Ten

If you've been following the blog the past few months, you're aware there have been some major challenges in my life recently. Medical challenges, emotional challenges, spiritual challenges and most recently relational challenges. The latter, shook my faith in God.

I'm not proud of the Doubting Thomas blog. However, I will not remove it, nor will I apologize for it.  It was real and heartfelt and honest. I think a major obstacle of Christianity is that we aren't real....with God, ourselves or others. Frankly, it intimidates others and gives the impression we are perfect. I am FAR from perfect. That is another blog for another day though.

I've spent most of this week trying to recover from the feelings I voiced in Doubting Thomas.  I've tried to forget the words, the hurt feelings, anger that started that whole ball rolling. Although I do forgive, I don't know how to forget. I don't know how to move foward. I don't know if things will ever be the same. I also don't know if I can find my way back to God. I've been asking, looking, waiting. I can't hear, see or feel Him. More than once I have thought "Maybe God left me too?"

This morning I decided to venture out on a run alone. Most of the week I've been running with a friend who is camping with us. Today I needed to go alone. Two miles can seem like a long time when you're alone. As I began I muttered a quick prayer, "I need you God, I can't do this without you". Almost immediately, I glanced down and found a feather lying on the ground. A perfect, untouched, HUGE, feather. Immediately, the verse....

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."~Isaiah 40:31

....came to mind. I glanced upward, said "thank you"  and picked up the feather. I don't truly know if its an EAGLES feather. Honestly, I don't my heart it is.  Chances are if I left the feather on the ground it would be there on my way back. I couldn't though. I needed to hold onto that feather.  Despite the inconvenience of carrying it  in one hand and the dog leash in the other, I picked it up and kept running.

Several times I repeated my prayer "I need you God, I can't do this without you".  My legs continued to move. As I reached the first mile mark, I turned around and headed back toward the campground. Knowing I would have a couple of inclines headed back this way,  I wasn't looking forward to this part of the run.

More than once I sensed a whisper "just keep moving foward".  At times I had to slow my pace, sometimes I had to walk. Twice the feather fell out of my hand and I needed to stop, turn and pick it up again. The energy it took to do that was marked. I considered leaving it behind. Was it really a sign from God?  Many times I had to prevent my self from choosing a focal point too far away, just the next step is all that mattered.

As I looked further down the road, I noticed a strange and twisted mass along the center line. It looked like a family of snakes, bathing in the early morning sun. I was startled! ( For the record, so was my pup, Gracie.)  I was afraid to get too close but had to run past them  in order to get back to my campsite. I had no choice but to keep going. I laughed at my  irrational fear as I recognized the tangled mess as a weather worn rope.

At long last I began to  see campers, hear voices and laughter. I pushed up the crest of the hill, huffing and puffing, one footfall at a time. Just as I reached the top, a cheery cluster of sparrows scattered playfully and I heard.....

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."~Matthew 10:29-31

And so...... here are my closing thoughts for today

1) Sometimes you need to get really really down before you look up!

2) When you ask, with a genuine heart, God shows up. He never lets go, we do.

3) You never know how God will surprise you. It never looks like you expect it to.

4) Never underestimate Gods strength or your own. I'm 100 lbs overweight and I'm RUNNING!

5) Often times the things we are afraid of are just illusions not realities.

6) Be thankful and say so

7) Celebrate the little victories, each turn, each crest, each step.

8) Sometimes you gotta do it alone, with God....  but without a running buddy.

9) Have a back up plan :) My knight in shining armour had instruction to come and find me if I wasn't back in 40 minutes.

10) The only way to forgive AND forget? Keep moving foward, one step at a time.

That's all I got folks. I'm already looking foward to tomorrows run, shin splints and all.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Doubting Thomas

WARNING* This blog is not for the faint at heart. It will be real, it will be ugly, it will probably contain profanity. If you choose to read it, I assume no responsibility for the condition of your heart when you finish. Honestly, I don't care about the condition of your heart, I'm more concerned with preventing my own from shatttering into a million unrepairable pieces at the moment.

In a recent blog, I wrote about a couple of profound relational losses that rocked my world. It brought me to my knees and in an effort to soothe my own pain, I medicated with food. For two years. Two years and a hundred and fifty pounds. Its a disgusting, painful reflection of who I am.

This is probably the most difficult blog I have ever written.

For the past 4 months there has been a constant barrage of problems in my life. Three unexpected painful, medical procedures. Weeks of loneliness, pain, and  frustration. I have tried to see the bright side of things, I have tried to see God's hand in all of this. I have tried to find the blessings. I've read countless scripture, prayed,  journaled every emotion and handed it all over to God, trusting that he would take care of things.

Day in and day out I waited.

and waited

and waited.

I thought I understood.

But I don't.

As I face again, another relational challenge. I want to know where the hell God is????? Are you gonna show up NOW? How much more can I  take? I have done everything you asked me to and this is my reward? This is bullshit. I'm mad as hell. This was the last time I was willing to give my heart to anyone. As I watch it unravel before my eyes, helpless to stop it from happening these are my thoughts:

I quit

I'm done

I'm done with relationships and I'm done with God and I'm done with church.

Praying doesn't solve anything. Its for the weak and the helpless. It gives them a sense that they're holding onto a bigger power, who is in control because they are not.

God doesn't love me...this is proof of that. I'm not even on God's radar.

You can't trust anyone. Not really. Not with who you really are....not with your inner most feelings and thoughts. People judge, people leave, people hurt.

Early this morning, I went for a walk. Entirely alone while the rest of the campground slept, I walked in the rain. It wasn't long before the sweat mingled with tears. I am so fucking angry that I let this happen to myself AGAIN.

I came upon a small bridge connecting one section of the campground to another. I stood on that bridge and sobbed. When looked down, I watched the river flow quickly by. This blog took hold and maybe in some sense of healing I decided to write it, profanity and all.

Life is like a river, rushing past. There are obstacles all along the way. Some big rocks, some small, some branches with sharp edges that cut and bruise and poke you along the way. There are also some areas where the water pools. It gets slimy and stagnant and algae grows there.

I won't be the water pool. Rocks will get in my way. Some big, some small.  But like the water I intended to flow around them and keep moving forward. I'm not going to hold onto anything or anyone. I'm just going to move forward. I will not lose my shit and be wrecked by this. Alone, like the water,  I will keep moving foward.

I have no inspirational thoughts, only raw emotion. I have no scripture to quote, no love to share, nothing to give to you.

This is the real ME today


Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer School

 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."~ Philippians 4:8


It feels as though it has been a long recovery process. My life has become scheduled around the next medication dose and how far from the sofa I am able to walk. All of this lying down has given me alot of time. Time to nap, watch movies, read, play on FaceBook, text and ALOT of time to think. "Think and wonder, wonder and think" as Dr Seuss so aptly phrased.

As I sit here, 8 days after surgery I realize there are many lessons learned throughout this experience.My own little Summer School has been in session. The lessons I have learned apply to recovering from surgery but also, can carry us through life, through crisis, through anything.

My lessons?

*You're stronger than you think. You can look fear in the face and conqueror things you never dreamed possible. 

*Life will throw obstacles in your path. Its a given. The obstacle it self isn't important. How you respond to it is.

*Deal with issues promptly. Whether medically, relationally, personally, professionally or spiritually, don't allow situations to the end its harder that way

*If a situation is infected. clean it out. Dig deep, find healing. Do whatever it takes to get yourself well. "Do your best and trust God with the rest."

*Its vitally important to take care of yourself. If you don't,  there WILL come a time when you are of no use to those around you. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, its called HEALTHY.

*Pushing yourself beyond your limitations will eventually lead to a problem, a meltdown, a set back.

*Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time, to rest, to heal, to learn.

*When you allow them, people will  show up....sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. But in order for them to show up you have to say yes. Yes, is a risk. Be willing to take risks.

*Usually, the people who show up aren't the ones you expected to.

*Be heartfeltfully grateful for those people. There's a reason they are part of your world.

*Don't waste time fussing over the ones who don't show up. Accept it for what it is and let it go. Truthfully, it is that simple.

*Learn to say no. Sometimes saying no is  the best thing you can do for yourself.

*Often when you do say no, it gives other the freedom to do the same. Freedom in relationship is essential.

*The little things aren't important. When you really get down to it, we spend our time on details that don't matter. The dog hair, the dust, whether the laundry is done, the dishwasher is unloaded, or the car is washed..... really in the big picture,  it does not matter.

*Little things are important. The smell of fresh brewed coffee, the warmth of sunshine on your skin, the sound of a cardinal calling for her mate. Tiny details we miss in the haste of our lives can sometimes be the most fulfilling.

*People matter. A loving touch, a quick phone call, a long hug, make a difference in someone's day. Is there someone you should reach out to? More importantly, is there someone I should reach out to?

I've spent alot of time alone these past 8 days. My family and friends have done a fantastic job of checking in, loving me, and   taking care of me. There has been alot of self reflection and discovery. Its actually been a really good thing.  I've come to realize that I am becoming more OK with me than ever before.

I can see some changes I need to make, some attitude adjustments, some relationship adjustments, and some  re-adjustments to priorities. I'm excited to watch it all unfold :) Excited to but the lesson into life application.

Father God, thank you for your healing touch and the many lessons you teach us each day.  We all have choices to make. Often those choices affect the course of our lives. Help me to make right choices in the thoughts I think, the things I say, and the life I live. The life you died for me to have. In your name I pray, Amen

Hugs and Happy Weekend!

Michelle <3

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What is Love?

" Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love"~1 John 4:8

It just doesn't seem fair sometimes. Life, that is. Life just doesn't seem fair.

Back in January of this year, I declared 2012 the year of ME. The year I would get healthy, the year I would learn balance. The year I would make myself a priority. It seems as though ever since I made that decision there has been nothing but obstacles in my way. My BFF lovingly refers to them as "opportunities to practice" but blah, they're obstacles.

 As some may know, I lost a substantial amount of weight a few years back. 150 lbs to be exact. No that's not a typo, it is a fact. I did indeed, lose one.  hundred. fifty.  pounds. Due to a 2 year long, self proclaimed, time of mourning and self loathing, I put nearly every pound back on.  Although, disgusting to admit,  I am truthful when I say.... I did it to myself. I had a couple of heart breaking, gut wrenching, awful loses in my personal life and I just decided, deep within my soul that I was unlovable. Unlovable by other people and unlovable to myself. Why bother taking care of myself?  Truth be told I tried to eat myself to death.

In January, I got my head on straight and set about the work of losing this weight again. This time, the right way, with balance, forethought, and sustainability. In Febraury, I spent a great deal of time getting my past where it belonged. In the past. Forgiving other people and learning to forgive myself.

By March, I began to feel somewhat whole. I began to see possiblities and choices I'd never imagined before. One of those choices, came in the form of running. Never having been able to "run" before, I doubted my ability. Spurred on by some other seasoned runners, however, I decided to try a Couch to 5K program. Little by little, 30 seconds at a time, I trained myself to run. I endured shin splints, cramps, blisters and to my surprise, severe boughts of diarhea after a run. Severe. Explosive. Violent.

I ignored some symptoms and kept pushing. Determined to do what I'd never done before, I ran through pain, I ran through blood, I ran through a lump that continued to grow in a place lumps are not intended to grow. After six weeks, I knew I could no longer ignore the problem and visited the doctor, expecting a prescription and orders to lay off the running for a while. That didn't happen. I was immediately told I'd need a surgical procedure and to head on over to the ER. What?!

Needless to say, I spent several weeks recovering from the procedure, wanting to run, not able to and very frustrated. I was told by one doctor everything was fine, completely recovered and I could close the chapter and move on. During this time, the world seemed to swirl around me. Discontent at my home church invaded my thoughts. A demanding work schedule daily, trying to make up lost time at my job. A nerve-shattering disagreement with my most beloved friend, left me reeling with inner turmoil. I completely shut down. For days, I didn't speak. I couldn't speak. Infact, I was pretty damn angry. If God loved me so much why was I hurting so badly?

Medically speaking, the  the new lease on life was short lived. Symptoms returned. I returned to the doctor and was sent to a specialist. Within 72 hours I found myself on a surgical unit, having a much more invasive, much more painful procedure.

I've had alot of time to think these past 24 hours since the surgery. A major revealation hit me yesterday. Don't laugh? For me it was  a lightbulb moment. During all of these awful experiences, there were moments of intense love. Love that I haven't ever considered before.

Growing up the way that I did, I have never understood "a fathers love". Actually, I have never truly understood or felt God's love. However, recently I have seen glimpses of that love. Glimpses, moments, and pieces that touch me and hold me up during moments like this.....when I'm counting the minutes until my next pain medication dose.

What does God's love look like? What does love in action mean?

*It comes in the form of a single Mom of 8 children. She works all day long, budgets every penny and spends the time and gas money to drive 20 minutes out of her way to deliver road side daisies to my door. When she arrives, I'm alone, on the porch, angry, hating myself,  unable to speak. She tells me the daisies remind her of me. "Cheery, bright, and often overlooked".  I still can't speak, she just hugs me.

*It comes in the form of the puppy who does not leave my side. She knows just when to snuggle, just when to lick my face, just when to pull a silly mischevious antic to make me laugh. She follows my every move.

*It comes in the form of a DVD in the mail. 600+ digital photos of my grandfather. He died 15 years ago this summer. My brother Scott made a copy of all the pictures and sent it to me, without my knowing or asking for it.

*It comes in the form of a journal. A beautiful Italian leather journal. From a friend I haven't seen in a while. A friend I wondered if I mattered to? A friend I wondered might be departing from our friendship?

*It comes in the form of the daughter, who makes me scrambled eggs and brings me chai tea and unloads the dishwasher.

* It comes in the form of a boss, who cares more about my health improving than about the goals we're not achieving this month.

* It comes in the form of doctors, nurses and providers who do everything they can to make you comfortable, answer your questions and make this absurd situation seem a little less absurd.

*It comes in the form of a sweet voice calling from college to say "Hi Mumma, how are you feeling?"

*It comes in the form of a hug, from an 8 year old little girl I love to pieces. "Feel better Michelle, I'll miss you this weekend".

*It comes in the form of the countless text messages, FaceBook messages and calls from friends, promising to pray, asking how you're doing, how they can help.

*It comes in the form of a BFF who brings you a movie to cry with, a book to loan, bright yellow flowers to cheer you and then lays on your sofa and talks the afternoon away.

*It even comes from the often clueless, somewhat stubborn, no idea what to do husband, who is just strong and ever present in my life...... day after day after day.

*It comes in the form of a Moe's sub delivered by a wonderful friend who understands God's love is shown in many ways and forms. Even in yummy ways.

In all these ways and many many more, God has whispered to my heart recently......" I see you and I love you. I'm right here".

Accepting love, believing I am loved, understanding love.....isn't something that comes natural to me. It goes against most everything that's been taught and demonstrated to me in "the world." But I'm learning. After all, its the YEAR OF ME.....I'm determined to learn this lesson too.

Thank you Father, for showing me the Truth of  real love. It doesn't always come in a neat and tidy package tied with a bow but its always signed with Your Name. May I always remember that it is as important to receive your love as it is to give it generously. In your name I pray~Amen


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Help I Need Somebody! Help Not Just Anybody!........

"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth"~Psalm 121:2

Remember the famous Beatles song? That could have been the theme song to my life for the past 10 days! Although I've never considered myself to be particularly strong or independent, it seems as though to some degree, I am. I don't ask for help all that often. In my day to day life, I manage fairly well. The typical things like keeping up with laundry, grocery shopping, working, are relatively kept under control.

Recently,  I became aware of a  personal medical issue. It seemed relatively minor. I attempted to self diagnose and treat the problem. One week passed. Then another and a third. By the end of the fourth week I was in a fair amount of pain and decided I needed to see a doctor. Without an ounce of apprehension, I visited my doctor on a Tuesday afternoon. I fully expected an antibiotic and complete resolution of the matter.  Boy was I surprised when my doctor took one look at my issue and said "YOU need a surgeon!". She promptly scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a surgeon 2 days later.

Truth be told I begged her to deal with the situation in the office. She refused. I pushed (and I can be pushy when I want to be!) and she adamantly refused. I sat stunned in my car in the parking lot. A surgeon? how can this be? Suddenly, my cell began to ring. A nurse explained she I neededd speak with the surgeon directly. Within minutes the surgeon called and requested I find someone to drive with and go the Emergency Room. Wait, what? This isn't happening, right?

The surgeon explained that although not "serious" the issue needed to be addressed immediately. What should have been a minor issue had turned into a major one. In no small part because of my self diagnosis and hesitancy to address the problem promptly. As the world swirled around me I tried to piece together what was happening, the physical pain I was being told I was facing, and WHO could I turn to? Who did I want to turn to?

It took me nearly 45 minutes to stop shaking and drive myself to the softball field where my husband was coaching. He drove me to hospital where we spent the next 4 hours. My lessons in ASKING began there. The days that followed were, without a doubt,  the most humbling and painful I have ever experienced.

*I asked my husband to be strong for me. To hold my hand, to ask medical questions, to let me cry when I needed to. To drive me, to stand over me during the painful procedure, to contact people and update them on my condition. I asked him to care for me in ways I don't usually have to rely on him.

*I asked medical professionals to treat me....with respect, with compassion, with medical procedures

*I asked a friend to fill and drop off my prescriptions

*I asked another friend to bring over medical supplies

*I asked two girlfriends to stay and visit and make me laugh

*I asked my daughter to get this and get that, help here and help there.

*I asked my best friend to pray. There wasn't anything else she could do. Away on a vacation with her family, I know it was hard for her not to be here.

*I asked a dear friend to understand when I couldn't attend a very special event in her life that week.

*I asked my boss for time off and for understanding.

*I asked my co-workers for their understanding and to fill my void on the team until I could return.

*I asked God every day....for healing, for the strength to endure, for comfort, just to be near me.

I asked for more favors and grace and assistance during this process than I think I ever have. It was truly humbling to NEED other people to help me. It was even more humbling to watch each and every person I asked, step up and do just that.

What I saw happen during this experience was amazing. When I set aside my pride, my preconceived notions, my stubbornness....people showed up in a big way. My husband, my daughters, my friends, my co-workers.  When I asked and  I allowed them to help,  I allowed them to share their love, their talents, themselves. I allowed them to be a little more of who they are. It was a beautiful thing to watch. By showing my weakness, I allowed them to reveal their strengths. Truthfully, I saw the happiness they felt in helping me and I was a little ashamed that I hadn't seen it sooner.

I am so grateful for the love I have received through allof this mess . I am also very aware of  how closesly this parallels with my relationship with Jesus. When I allow him to be involved in my life, the good, the bad and the nasty, He is allowed to show me His strength. When I accept His love, His gifts, His blessings, yes I am blessed,  but it also makes Him incredibly happy to help me.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for teaching me lessons on humility. Thank you for revealing your love through other people. Thank you for modern medicine and medical professionals. May I always remember the importance of allowing other people to shine their light and share their love. You created us to love and to be loved. Its just as important for me to receive, as it is to give. In your name I pray, Amen <3


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who Are YOU?

"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us "~ Romans 8:37 (amplified)

I think we've all had those moments

** you look in the mirror and don't recognize the person staring back at you? You look deeply into your own eyes and its surreal how little you know about yourself

**your child does something so amazing, whether good or bad, and you look on, astonished and think "I never saw that coming, who are you?"

**someone you love, your spouse, your parent, a friend, wounds you in a way you'd never predict and you're stunned into the acknowledgement that you don't really know them.

I've done alot of thinking recently about this. Especially the part about knowing myself. Long ago I disappeared into my life, I stopped being myself and started being:

* a child of domestic violence
*a probability for addiction
* an overweight statistic
* Chris' wife
* Kristi & Chelsea's mom
* the friend everyone counted on to rescue them
* the reliable one
* the loyal one
* the one who listened, cared, counseled
* the "she'll take care of it so we don't need to" one
* truthfully, though few were aware, the very very broken one

My dearest friend posed the question to me recently " Who do you want people to see when they look at you?" While I think its an important question, I put my own twist on it and started to define who I want to see when I look at me.

The answers came to me fast and furious:

I want to be the girl who defied the odds, from broken home, full of addiction, secrets, lies, dysfunction, domestic violence....who overcame all of that to live a beautiful fulfilling life.

I want to be the woman who found love, security, peace. A woman so deeply in love with her husband that she can't wait for the end of the day to be enveloped in his hug and smile. A relationship founded on mutual trust, respect, love and goals.

I want to be the mother who ignored the statistics of her past and raised healthy, happy, well adjusted daughters. Evidence that the cycle can and has been broken.

I want to be the friend wounded so many times by destructive, unhealthy friendships that she SHOULD have given up....but didn't. The one who finally found the true meaning of real friendships,  the kind she'd been looking for all of her life.

I want to be the unlikely statistic....."she'll never lose the weight"......"she can't run a 5K"....."she'll never find a job after being out of the workforce for 17 years"....."she can't write a book" .......but she did.

Heavenly father I hold on to the promise that I am MORE than a conqueror. I have victory that surpasses anything the world tells me I can or can not do. I pray for your strength, courage, and discernment to press toward the promises you have for me. In your name I pray~ amen


Friday, January 20, 2012

70 x 7= Forgiveness

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord how many times shallI forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times"~Matthew 18:21&22

Recently, I began working with an amazing life coach . As we discussed my childhood, adult relationships and some of the areas I struggle with it became clear that unforgiveness is a big obstacle for me. She gave me the assignment to  repeat "I choose to forgive you _________" 70 times for  the next 7 days. I wasn't entirely convinced that it would work but I'm sure willing to give it a try.

During the night, 5 or 6 inches of snow fell. It was light and fluffy and beautiful. Clinging to the branches of the trees, dusting every surface. A winter wonderland for sure. This morning I would have loved nothing more than to curl up under the covers, watch a good movie and stay warm and cozy! However, my husband is away for a few days and I knew I should go out and shovel the driveway. I didn't really WANT to but it needed to get done. I bundled up and set to work. It wasn't long before I started repeating "I choose to forgive you" to myself.

Push, puff, scrape, push "I choose to forgive you"

Huff, pause, push, push, lift "I choose to forgive you"

Slip, slide, push, breathe "I choose to forgive you"

Stop, look around, push, lift, toss, puff "I choose to forgive you"

Several times I slipped and nearly wiped out. Many times I paused, looked around and thought "I can't do this....its going to take forever!"

But I kept moving and going, huffing and puffing, pushing and lifting and throwing the snow to the side and repeating the phrase "I choose to forgive you" That's when it came to me....shoveling snow is alot like forgiveness.

I could certainly have driven over the snow this morning. It would have been the easy thing to do. In the long run however, it would have packed down the snow. A sunny day would have turned that packed snow into ice and created a slippery, dangerous, mess that would only need to be dealt with later. Inevitably, more snow would have fallen on top of the packed icy mess and created even MORE of a mess!

By dealing with the snow today, as soon as it happened I saved myself from extra, more difficult work. Yes it was an effort. It took preparation in the form of boots, mittens, a shovel etc. The right tools are critical. Flip flops and a measuring spoon certainly wouldn't work in this case.It took time, alot of time.   It took discipline. I needed to do the work and keep moving forward. There were times I slipped and stumbled and wanted to stop. If I had, I never would have finished.

Shoveling snow is hard work. The best thing for EVERYONE is to pick it up and move it out of the way. Forgivenesss is hard work too. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, I may not want to do the work. Yes, I will probably slip and fall. Reality though, is this.....if I don't move the mess of unforgiveness out of my heart, it will grow cold and hard and create a bigger mess I'll only need to deal with later.

It was  a very satisfying moment when I stood back, sweat beaded on my brow, one hand on my hip, the other on the shovel  and saw the progress I'd made. And so, I'll forge ahead, doing  the work, one shovel full, one step at a time, using the right tools and repeating to myself  "I choose to forgive you"

Dear God, I believe that you use real people and real situations to teach us. Thank you for the angel you have sent into my life and for the tools she's handing me to finally learn the gift of forgiveness. I'm not there yet but I can see the progress I'm making.  I can't wait for that moment when I stand back in awe and realize how far I've come. May I never forget that you have forgiven me as well. In Jesus' name~Amen

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Does That Look Like?

" For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."~Matthew 6:14

Good Morning!  It has been far too long since I sat here and wrote a blog. One of my many New Year's Resolutions is to write consistently.  SO many things have happened since my last entry in May 2011. I have many many stories to share.

 However, this morning one is weighing so heavily on my heart and mind  that I haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet. For those of you who know me well, this is as near a MIRACLE as there is! Typically, I'm unable to speak or even remember my name before the first two cups of coffee have been consumed.This is and only can be God at work through me!

A few years ago, along with a group of friends, my family and I went on a Caribbean cruise.  It was an adventure we were VERY excited about. The girls looked forward to it for months and we had a fantastic time in Aruba, St Martinn, St John, Cozumel. It was the vacation of a lifetime!

When we arrived home, late that February evening, I remember rounding the bend and my home came into view. I said to my husband "I love my house". He was worked endlessly at remodeling this 200 year old money pit and has created the most comfortable, welcoming, safe haven for us all. Imagine our surprise when a few short minutes later we entered this  haven to discover it had been burgalarized while we were away.

So many emotions hit us at once. Panic, fear, anger, grief, confusion, and anger. Did I say ANGER?

Over the course of the next 24 hours, we had State Troopers set up a sting in our garage, neighbors interrogated, my daughters slept in our bed and on our floor. We had been violated beyond comprehension. Our clothes had been rummaged through, our brand new computer was gone, our food had been eaten, our DVDs watched, our hot tub soaked in, our money, cell phones, ipods.... stolen. Nothing felt safe, nothing felt like home.

Within hours, the State Police investigation revealed that the neighborhood boys, the very ones we had taken to baseball games, invited to swim in our pool, welcomed into our "home".....were the same boys who had intentionally obtained our security number and entered without our permission. Not only did they invade our privacy they invited along 5 of their friends to do the same. Over the course of days, they vacationed in my house. They took, ate, drank, and did whatever they wanted to.

It took nearly 7 months but all of the boys were prosecuted to varying degrees. During that time, the girls were harassed at school. One of them even physically intimidated by the neighbor. Our camper was vandalized by them. We received offensive obsene gestures when they drove by. Its safe to say that I'm still strongly wounded by the entire scene of events.

People have suggested that I forgive and forget. I'd like to......really I would! But "What Does That Look Like?" I truly don't know.

Last week I found amazing husband Chris gave me a lesson I doubt I'll ever forget. I had just gotten home from work and was upstairs changing my clothes. I heard a knock at the door and Chris talking with a woman. Moments later he was by my side putting on his sneakers.

"Where are you going?" I asked

The neighbor's mother.....yes, the mother of the boys who had violated our home..... was at the door. One of the boys had been in a car accident. She was crying and needed a ride to the next town over. Yes, it was one of the boys who had broken into my house. Without hesitation, Chris took her. I wasn't sure whether to be angry at his stupidity or awed by his generosity and compassion. I couldn't fathom her nerve to even ask.

And that's when God used the opportunity to tell  me "That's what forgiveness looks like."

Heavenly Father, thank you that you use real people and real circumstances to speak to us. Thank you for showing me, through a man I love and respect so much, what forgiveness looks like. I pray that my heart will soften and I too will be able to forgive our neighbors. Thank you for your forgiveness. For all those moments, I've said and done and thought the wrong things but you still love me anyway. Oh and one last thing....Thanks for the blog! I'm so glad to be back :) In Jesus' name~Amen