Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Word on Summer

I am sitting on my couch, still in my p.j.s at 10:30 am. I can hear the clock tick and the dog whine and the morning dove cooing. Peace is pulsing.

But, my stomach churns and my head aches.

Peace is about me, but I am not a vessel of the stuff. I am a tangled mess.


The last day of school is creeping toward me like a great destroyer of my fragile balance beam that holds me up as a decent mother. And it's not going to snap because of my inability to maintain a household full of children. No, it's not about that. That's not the threat. I can do it. I tell myself I can, anyway. I mean, four kids over fourteen years? I've had practice.

If it's about ability to be home with my children, I am sure any homeschool mom would shoo me away as unworthy.

No, it has nothing to do with my ability to live each second with the little gems.

I love 'em. Honestly, I do. I love 'em more than myself...which might be a problem...perhaps.

But, they've peeled back the cute, joy-filled layers and handsome smiles, and shown me their uglies. And the uglies bring out my uglies. And that's just between the few hours after school.


I want control. I want kindness. I want order. I want a maid.

 I want perfectly content, self-entertaining, cordial, happy, non-complaining children. I'll get a maid before that'll ever happen. And you know what? The only way I can come to grips with it is by reminding myself...


Please tell me it's so! Please remind me that this is all part of the growing, refining, messiness of motherhood and children-becoming-decent-human-beings process. This long, drawn out science experiment of ripping away routine and school for a hot season of suntan lotion and sticky popsicle sticks is necessary, right?

Thing is, as we go about our summerly business, sometimes with teeth clenched and hair in fists, my kids just always appear to be extraordinary "somethin'" when I play the comparison game. Luckily, I haven't met the woman who has the number and ages of kids that I do, and tells me her children are perfectly content, self-entertaining, cordial, happy, and non-complaining...

Have you?

Well, good for her. While she sips her tea and eats her bonbons, smiling and daunting over her joyful pets, I'll schedule my next girls' night and leave my own rascals to fend for themselves for an hour or two. And when I get home, I'll love them just as big as I can, even though, there are times, they just don't seem to deserve it.

That's what'll keep me sane.

Loving them in the chaos...even if they don't deserve it.

Yeah, "I want" has never satisfied. So I just need to lean back, play an oldie but goodie, reminding myself, "I will survive".

Happy Summer! There will be sweet moments, but let's face it, the days are going to be long.

Monday, May 22, 2017

This Mess.

Every day, I pick up a pair of socks. They aren't neatly balled up together, keeping their pair status. Usually, I find one hanging on the cabinet below our t.v., and the other one across the room, tucked beneath the recliner.

Every day, I find legos on the carpet...most of the time I spy them before I yelp in pain. And along with the legos, I usually find loose change, a candy wrapper, and a broken pencil scattered about our main level. Thank goodness we don't have babies anymore.

I wish I could say that every day I just pick all the items up and put them where they belong, then gently remind my children to clean up after themselves. Or, that I leave them, and wait until the kids are around to use their mess as a chance for them to practice cleaning up...once again.

But in all honesty, I usually grab the socks and stomp across the room to bottom of the stairs and yell, "You left your socks all over the living room! How many times do I have to tell you..."

Unfortunately, a daily ritual.

There are many more messes about our house. I look around right now, and see the sink filled with dishes. I picture our upstairs balcony area, covered with laundry, and I cringe at the thought of the crowded-with-junk and books with broken bindings in each of my children's rooms. If I fling my thoughts outside our walls, I can easily roll my eyes at the untidy garage, and the Izzy cans strewn across our second garage. Oh, and the chalk and dead leaves, and the chewed up baseballs from our crazy "retired" hunting dog.

Besides our messy schedules, I am trying to cope with our messy house. And, until today, I've done a poor job of it. I've let it become emotional, I've enslaved my thoughts into this only-get-out-of-jail-free card-if-everything-is-spic-and-span reality, and only THEN can I relax.

Until today.

As I washed the first round of dishes (yes, I did that this morning, and still have more this afternoon), I chose to pray gratitude for my kiddos. Everyone had left for school, and it was just me and the mess. The creatures that made the mess were gone.

And I realized something.

This mess is proof of the life. 

And this is the life I've wanted all along. I've wasted so much breath and worry on the messiness and the possibility of someone showing up at any moment to judge my mess. Seriously. That's how bad it is. I've set up these expectations in my mind of what would make me a "good" mom, a "good" homeowner, a "good" wife, and I've caught myself striving more toward the expectations than toward the life that has been given me--the joy of sitting with my kids after school, ignoring the mess, and just being part of the life. Their life.

Gratitude for the life is so much more freeing than scrutiny for the mess. After all, one day, there will be no little lives around to love on. And the absent mess will be proof in my memory that so much life is behind me.

I want to keep that life right here, right now.

Time is running at lightening speed. And I've wasted enough of my energy fighting the clock, instead of enjoying the seconds of life within these walls.

So much life is around me. So much more life than I could have ever imagined twenty years ago. And as I look about me, I know this is my reality. This is life.

And this mess is proof of that.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Angie Dicken Historical Romance

My first books to come out are both Historical Romance. Appropriately so, as it is the first genre that inspired me on this writing journey. I am so stinkin' excited to see them next to each other, available for pre-order on my Amazon page. Can't wait for you to meet Cort and Aubrey in September, and Alex and Leanna in November. If you'd like to get occasional news and giveaway information, please head to my website, and sign up for my newsletter. Here are the covers:

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

To The Mom I Don't Know

I don't know you, but I can't imagine I'll ever forget you. There's the buzz in the air, the ripples of grief making there way to strangers. I am a stranger.

I don't know you, but I've wept and wondered and prayed over you and your family and your loss.

Even from a distance.

I don't know you, but I can't drive anywhere without sensing a pulse of where you might be right now, what you are doing, how you are coping, what craze you might toe the edge of.

I don't know you, but I've gone there in my mind, and I've stared in the horror of your circumstance adopting it as my own. And I can't know what it feels like, not really. I can't know the pain, the despair, the shoes that you now walk in. I can't.

I can only imagine. And many might say they can't imagine. But, I've gone there and imagined, and I've shaken and cried to God. My dread courses through me as if I'm the one looking at the grief face on. My babies, my life I've poured into those children. And the abrupt end that could occur at any moment, at any unforeseen deed. Without a chance to say that next thing, to guide that next step, to hold that hand one more time.

And yet. I don't even know the depth of it. I can't even go there. I said I could. But I cannot really know your pain. Not all of it.

I am just at a distance.

I don't know you, and I weep for you and pray for you and hope for you. There's no judgement here. I see myself, day in and out, messing up, struggling, fighting, falling short of all the expectations I thought motherhood could be.

Even still. I pray that eyes of judgement never fall on me in such a time as your moment right now. I pray that you sense no judgement from anyone now. That God protects your heart and your sanity and reminds you He's there. Even when it is so absurd to think He's there. Where was He? Where, Lord? How can this happen...and I cry these things, and I curse this, and I don't even know you.

But I'm a mom too, and I have a mom's heart, and I weep with you at such a time as this.

Even from a distance.

Even if I'm a stranger.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I am Complaining to YOU, God

I am reading Richard J. Foster's book, Prayer.

I am seeing God in a whole new way. An authentic way. A grace-filled way. My glasses have been removed during this journey post-valley walking in my marriage (although, sometimes, I wonder if I'm just walking through a higher plane in the valley. Not quite sure that I've cleared this valley. Sometimes, not sure I've seen the light except for glimpses).

God's grown bigger...but fuzzier too. I think it's because I always tried keeping Him in the frame of my "glasses" and now that they're gone, I am blown away by how much bigger He really is.

This book that I'm reading though, has given me permission to do something I've rarely done before--Complain to God ABOUT HIS absence. It's strange that I've never thought to do it before, because this no-no in my head, is all over the Scripture.

It seems disrespectful, ungrateful, irreverent. A sin.

But, just like the psalmists and others before me, sometimes, I just gotta. Just like when I try and share my concern with my husband, or complain to him about the crap we deal with in our lack of communication and unequally-yoked ground. It just has to come out for my own pent-up heart overflow.

Same thing with God. I've got to figure out some stuff, and it has to do with Him...or the lack of His action in my life.

Above all else though, He's the safe place to do it too.

If God is really my Father, then, just like my children so often do to me, I can complain to Him. He can handle it.

So yeah. I am going to leave this post there. Kinda itchy, kinda gravely on my tongue. A bit aggravating and non-conclusive. We are humans. And, although we want answers and we want them now, life just doesn't happen that way.

But, I can complain about it in a safe place.

Before I end actually, I'll include Psalm 13 for example. He's big enough. And I am only going to grow deep if I get my fit out. The thing is, I KNOW, He'll still meet me on the other side of that fit. That's Grace. Isn't it?

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;

Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;

My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Shame Game: 3 Temptations to Play

I am coming off my promise to only look at FB when I have a notification. I put a "no scroll" rule on myself for my own sanity...and discernment.

I'll be the first to admit, I have A LOT of opinions. I make snap judgements, I raise an eyebrow at THAT, I roll my eyes at THAT, I shake my head at THAT. And if you don't, I truly want to affirm you for being a free-er, more stable person than me. But according to my thousand plus friends out there, I'd say there are a number of people who are just as opinionated as me. I think it's called being human?

As I've been on a scrolling frenzy over the past couple of weeks, and I've seen a pretty significant decline in my attitude and self-talk, I realized that I've bought into The Shame Game of Twenty-First-Century Culture. I'm munching on the Lotus and unable to get myself out of the pool of self-doubt and self-criticism. Ever been there?

Three things are threatened when I am playing in the shame game, and I need to self-protect and change my approach when I get on social media...

1. Motherhood. I am going to start off by giving all of us mamas a pat on the back for caring enough for our kids. When it comes to our kids, most of us are just trying to do the best we can.

That goes for:

sleep schedules
care providers

You name it, I've found myself questioning my sense as a mother in all aspects due to the strongly weighted posts out there. The temptation to feel judged or scrutinized or lesser of a mom is one of the BIGGEST threats to me on social media.

 I know I've posted things that are probably stumbling blocks for other moms. Who hasn't? If we think our way is best for our family, and someone else is doing it differently, then of course we are going to question ourselves. If we think a certain way is WRONG, then we have this strange urge to announce it and feed shame to our people. Meh.

God put each of us in charge of these little people we raise, and I have to remember that the criticism, pride, and my-way-is-better attitude is just not worth playing with. We're doing the best we can. Whether it be different thoughts on schooling, eating, wellness, or what technology we buy, MY HEART IS FOR MY CHILDREN over the latest method or school of thought. And I know, YOUR HEART IS FOR YOUR CHILDREN, and we cannot play the shame game when we are all on equal ground.

2. Successes. If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I am an author. And I often post stuff about my writing journey and my highs, lows, and in-betweens. I have other friends who are:

health specialists
exercise professionals
business owners
And a whole bunch of crazy talented you-name-its.

I often find myself editing and rewriting a post--or deleting one--because:
A. I am not as good as that next person in my shamed mind's eye,  OR
B. I know what it feels like to journey three steps behind someone else on my "dream" walk and I don't want to appear like a braggart or insensitive.

Often, I wonder if I should just get off of social media altogether because it's so easy to retaliate to the inferiority brought on by scrolling with my own puffed-up post. ACK. Yeah, I just admitted that. Be tempted to judge me? Hmmm, please say I'm not the only one.

What I have to remind myself is, first, just because I sense a certain tone in a post as something unnerving, doesn't mean that was the intent of the poster. Let's think about that for a moment.

A post's tone can be read differently than it was meant to be received. 
Maybe I shouldn't take things so seriously? Hmmm...

I've begun to look at how beautiful humanity is in our different passions and talents and journeys regardless of a silly social media post. I've found so much joy on my path to publication, and I KNOW I am not the only one who has found it, or been inspired to use a talent.

I must look through the lens of understanding, finding excitement at the unique ways God directs the talents of others. When I stop striving to show off my own successes and cheer on those who are also using their gifts and interests and talents in this life, then my temptation dies and the game is over.

3. My Relationships. There are opinions on just about everything. And even more. Yeah,
it's gotten ridiculous, hasn't it? EVERY.SINGLE.ISSUE has a pro or con post by someone. And I've written plenty of my own, believe me... (didn't we just have a virtual civil war last November? Just sayin').

The risk I run during a scroll session, is falling for the bait and forming an opinion on the spot--without research or reason, (or prayer...hmm), and then shaming others in my comment...bleh!

My favorite way to have a friendly exchange of opinions, besides face to face, has been in Messenger. That way, it's one-on-one, with respect and knowledge of previous and present relationship with that person. The shame game is over when you are two individuals sharing (usually...depending on the relationship, I guess).

HOWEVER, some things just need to be said on our walls, in our circles, whenever we can have a voice--especially when injustice is gaining momentum and the general opinion is in an uproar. We need to speak up for TRUTH when the world is clambering around in LIES and darkness. It's our job as the Salt and Light of the world...if that's our intention. A lot of times, I just want to get my opinion heard in the masses...and that's when I get wet with shame and regret, and most of all, broken relationship.

So now, I need to ask myself this...

What's my motive? 

And I MUST NOT assume the motives of others as they post.

The criticism is destructive, the temptation is thick, and if there is one thing in Twenty-First Century Culture that I could do away with, it's the Shame Game

How about you?