Saturday, April 15, 2017

I am that mom.

I am that mom.

The one who has a gaggle of kids, sitting alone in church.

I am that mom. The one you look at with pity--or criticism--the mom who has a kid sitting in her gaggle who just did THAT in church, when everyone is silent and the pastor's praying.

I am that mom, whose shoulders shake during the prayer because I'm crying so hard at my circumstance, my humiliation, and my anticipation of what's coming next. What's the next disruption my family can manage to include in this one hour long beating of sitting together to focus on the beating of a Savior?

I am that mom, who you might think needs a good talking to because her children are OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW, but they don't behave, and they are disrespectful and loud and angry and giggly and all the things we were never allowed to be in church.

I am that mom who read the SAME parenting books as the mom across the aisle whose kids sit nicely and behave.

I am that mom who may have once judged another mom whose kids were out of control at church, and was miffed that they would disrupt my worship session.

I am that mom who's eating crow.

I am that mom whose family is broken. We just are. We are all grieving. And every church service is a flat-out reminder that we are still in the cycle of grief. Sure, we might not have suffered divorce, or death, or financial ruin--but we are grieving just the same.

Is that why my children--the gifted and talented one, the superstar athlete one, the compassionate, ginormous heart one, and the larger-than-life one--become weighted down with bad behavior when we sit there, trying to focus on the God Who was flushed away by the one person we all love so very much?

I am crushed by my embarrassment. I am absolutely distraught in my hopelessness. And I find myself on the verge of tears even twelve hours later.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt like an ant under a spy glass with your tribe throwing knives at you?

My only saving grace is a friend who was there to listen to me weep afterward. A friend who understands the immense pressure I feel, and the possible ground of attack that has replaced our foundation.

I am that mom, who might just let her kids sleep in on Sunday morning, and many Sundays after.

I am that mom, who, if you see me with my eyes closed in prayer, with five empty seats about me, I am praying my heart out for my family.

For the grief.

For the healing.

But most importantly...

For a hopeful future season of renewal and resurrection. And if I see another mom, struggling to maintain her composure, I can be of encouragement and tell her I've been that mom too.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Lifetime to Treasure

Ever hold something ordinary that brings you to a place hidden away deep in your memory? Ever burst into tears realizing that a time you'd thought would be ages ahead, has smacked you right dab in the middle of your present reality?

Recently, I received my inherited treasures from my grandparents' estate. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, and we just had my grandfather's ten year memorial service in January.  I've had time to mourn and process and miss them. And time to move forward in my own path of life. I've been at peace in my grief.
I must admit, there is excitement in receiving antiques. A love for history cultivates a great respect for things of old--even if they are just cobbler tools and powder horns. Even if they are hand-shaped ladles and bowls. Simple, ordinary, but treasures to me. I knew I would receive these things and excitedly opened my box.

But what I didn't expect, was to find the pictures of my children and my wedding, still trapped in the same frames my grandmother had once picked out. Our faces staring up at me reminding me that it is finished--that the smiles once gifted to them from me, and placed neatly about their rooms where I'd visit, were now being returned. A flood of emotion struck me hard. Had I really come to this far-off point in my life where all those gifts I'd given were left behind by those I'd love?

Forever placed behind glass by my grandmother.
How could I be here--grandparent-less, inheritor of stuff? How could I be here, finding the space in my own place from a tomb of a house ready to purge all that memory that was my life--my childhood--my foundation?

This is the original frame, about 2 ft
in height. A 1915 Wedding portrait.

Trinkets, early 20th century cobbler tools,
powder horns

Even now, the lump grows in my throat as I lovingly admire the new additions to my home. I guess I have grown up more than I care to admit in my forty years. I used to want to be on top of decorating trends and all the newness seen in magazines and home shows. But trendsetting on my walls and shelves is not nearly as important to me now.
A historical scene I admired as a child,
now graces my dining room

I've got a lifetime of treasures to display. 

A treasured lifetime to remember.

My grandfather inspired my love of architecture, and I always
remember these pictures in their house that now hang in my room.
And that chaise lounge in the corner is the first chaise lounge
I'd ever seen--a luxurious seat that my grandmother
had by her own bed.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Friendship Anxiety

Lately, I've had some major anxiety. Surprising? Maybe not. Four kids, a husband, a house, two dogs,
two books, a couple WIP's (works-in-progress), and part-time ministry work--throw in baseball practice, ballet, cub scouts, school volunteering...and ...

I have a buffet-style filled plate and it is overflowing.

And I love it.

No matter how much I complain about's LIFE in the fullest sense.

But I have been contemplating lately, and the anxiety I speak about has little to do with all that life. I've noticed that my deepest seeds of insecurity are in my lifelong treasure--Friendship. If you've read my last post, "My Grief List", you know this is something I care for deeply, and I mourn when there's change.

There have been a few recent interactions that have shaken me to the bone, and have caused me to wonder what the root of this insecurity is.

Why do I view my friendships as so...conditional?

I often find myself apologizing to my friends for what I've said or, WHAT I THINK...I don't trust my opinions to not be taken as weapons of destruction. I don't trust my heart to be valued beyond my actions or my mistakes.

Something inside me has shouted for years,

"Friendship is temporal. It will inevitably fail because of ME."

The lies float in my head and they are toxic to my spirit:

"You can't be too different than your friend or they'll reject you."

"Your opinions must line up or you have nothing in common."

"You are too outspoken and your words will kill the friendship."

"You only have a finite number of chances to fail before they will walk away."

Honestly, some of these things have come to fruition over the years. I have the scars of dead friendships because, in my perception, one of these lies has proven true.

And I think that's the ugly root of it all. The lies appear to be true. But, do I really know the depth of what was going on in the other person's heart? What scars were they acting on?

I love the verse in Thessalonians. It proves that the author must have sat with the Thessalonians in their disbelief, in their differing opinion, and grown in love before anything else. There was no judgement there, just growing friendship. "We cared so much for you..." came first. Not, "Because you received the Gospel, we cared for you..."

They cared for them. Like I care for my friends--regardless of what they think or believe. At least, in theory. I have the scars to prove that as a friend, I have been considered, "Too much", "Too different", "Too me."

This is where grief comes into play, I guess. I think my anxiety is just part of the grief cycle of lost friendships, and the changing ones. And just like a grieving soul, I have allowed people to become too much of an indicator of my joy.

There's so much joy to be had. And I have turned my back on it too much lately. I mean, I have some pretty amazing friends...and yet, I am a doomsayer, waiting for them to turn their backs on me because

I want to take those lies and rip them to shreds, and plant my heart with truth. I want different to be amazingly attractive. I want opinions to be counted as thought-provoking and valued for what they are worth--so very little in the shadow of truth. And I want fallibility and failure to be seen as an open door to love even more.

The cool thing is, I have some wonderful people in my life who already grow this way. They are some pretty amazing grace-bearing women.

I just need to cut a sample from them and plant it in my own heart.  Because they have grown dear to me, and I want to share my life with them even in my imperfection.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Grief List

I haven't I've written and rewritten two books in the past 6 months, and have another one on the way. So, I haven't posted much, but I guess I am writing a ton. Besides writing, I've been doing life big time. And one thing that has been part of my life is a class at my church called, "Grieving" (It's the second book of a series. I took the first class, "Grounding", and learned amazing tools on how to grow a healthy self-concept and develop good mental health skills).

I would have never looked on this past year as one of grief, but I am beginning to realize that it has been mostly that. I mean, I've had a BLAST in almost every part of my life. Great times with friends, hubby, and kiddos. I've received TWO book contracts and have more hopefully on the horizon, and I've transitioned pretty smoothly in to part-time work. No, there is no grief in all that. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the beautiful view over my shoulder at 2016.

But, if I tilt my head just a bit, and see the distant memories that skimmed last year and the year before, I see things that twist my heart and make me yelp in the midst of my joy. I see what I've lost, and what I am grieving without knowing it.

Now, the causes of my heartache might seem petty to you, not as important as that person's grief over there. But one thing that this Grieving class has taught me is that loss, big or small, can affect us deep and long if we don't grieve them in a healthy way.

So, in order for me to move forward in healthy grief, I am going to share some things that have sliced my heart--things that might just be a pin prick or a slight scrape, but none the less, my heart aches and trips up and begs me to heal.

My Grief List (in no particular order):

1. My dear friendships. I am fiercely loyal, and super enthusiastic about long-lasting friendships. It
takes me a good long while to feel safe with a new friend...that might be why I only have a few tight ones. But what I've learned over the course of these many months, is that life seasons usher friendships into view or out of reach like a leaf being tossed about on the wind. 
I'm not saying that my out-of-daily-touch friendships are less important than my newer ones. But my heart aches for those that have fled to the outskirts of my daily routine, and I mourn what they use to be, and pray that my path and theirs cross soon and more often.

It's easy for me to downward spiral into negative thoughts, worries, and over-analysis of WHY--but, in my class, I am learning that WHY is not the question I really seek--it's actually, HOW can I radically accept the grief of memories and life that no longer looks the same as today?

2. Motherhood Season. There is certain loss throughout the stages of motherhood. I think it's because I had so many expectations built up, and I've grieved each one as they came crashing down in the shadow of my fallibility and guilt. My firstborn baby is now a man-child...I've lost my second child's compliant, happy-go-lucky attitude to the sass and snark of a pre-teen...and my two babies have become growing children-- independent, unmoved by mom entering the room, and growing up way faster than I'm comfortable with.

This year, my house emptied during the daytime hours as my last baby went to school. And while this season was anticipated and welcomed (mostly because she's a social bug), my mama grief trips every once in a while-- the ache consumes me so that I hold her tight when she gets home and I secretly want my baby back. This grief also spurs on my first mentioned grief of friendship shifts because there's something about having a child home that makes mama friendships grow. Life is different, friends are different, and my house is not these four walls caving in, but our home base when everyone comes together again. There's good in that, and there's grief in that.

3. My sweet tooth.  Let's lighten the mood for a moment. But really, this is no joke. I am seriously not okay with this. I've been very conscious about making wise choices, cutting the sugar, and eating real food for about a year now, and my identity as Chocolate Lover of the Century is sadly being passed along children. Yes, the apple doesn't fall far from last year's tree. ;) So, in this grief or loss, I am managing my expectations of my children ever feeling the need to say goodbye to sugar. That will become another battle for another day.

4. My Heart's Desire.  Marriage is fine. GREAT. BEST EVER. Except for that teensy weensy well, GINORMOUS mountain of spirtually mis-matched hearts. We've gotten through the valley of this new normal, and honestly, he's my bestest friend...more than ever. But sometimes, it's easy to look back and crave the old, to want to stomp my foot and demand that we just get past the garbage already, and start living life the way we lived it before. Especially when it comes to church. Sundays are hard. They trigger my grief the most.

I don't like sitting alone in church. I don't think I'll ever like it. And it's not because I need to "look" the part of a loving family, or that I even need my husband to complete me. It's just that his absence is a big fat reminder of our loss in like-mindedness, and that giant crack in our family's foundation. I feel the tremors from it when my kids don't want church in their lives, and I grieve the broken dream that we'd do life together best with Christ as our center.

But one thing I know about grief, is that it's not in vain--if I am wise to it, if I know how to respond to it when it triggers...and if I remember that I am His and He is mine, I trust that Joy is inevitable in the end.

So, that's my list...just for now...I can think of more, but transparency can be another trigger to grief, as I know that sometimes I share what needs to be worked out between God and me first. It's good to grieve, to understand the loss and why I feel pain. To remember God in the midst of it all and see His hand, and to let go of the old expectations, the crippling power of nostalgia, and the control of wanting to fix the hurt.

If you want to learn more about the series, "Gardening Your Life" by Heidi Vermeer-Quist, check it out HERE. I am blessed to know Heidi and learn from her every week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

There is no fear in love.

This verse takes on multiple meanings for me.

When life topples my security, the first thing that is questioned is love. How about you? If I can just remember where love came from, then I have nothing to be afraid of, I have no fear.
It's in the remembering.
Every step, every set back, every dark valley--Love was there. Is there. I just need to remember that.