Thursday, May 31, 2012


I do it all the time... I hear it in the voices of my friends. We talk about the things we love to do in hushed tones with sly smiles. We make these excuses to justify it, that we did them under cover of darkness because the laundry sat, or the bank statement wasn't balanced yet. These things that make our hearts sing and our lives bearable, we do as if it were guzzling a bottle of chardonnay in the closet while the kids play in the yard. For a woman, doing things for herself sometimes feel that forbidden, that selfish, that unexplainable.

My writing is like that. I have this beautiful studio and this drive to write, but yesterday I didn't scratch out a single word because the laundry had sat for two weeks and I no longer had pants... Ok, so letting it get that bad isn't what I mean. What I do mean is that every time I choose me and my God given gift, I feel a pang of guilt. Why? God has told me multiple times that this is the better choice than many other things I do. God has given me projects galore to complete and to immerse myself in. Has God also given me the guilty conscience that tells me this should come last because it is fun? Nope. I have robbed myself of it all on my own. Again, I ask why?

This world we live in has lied to us. As women from my generation were told that we could have it all, we bought in. We believed. We strive for the perfect career, we find things we are good at (even if we hate them) and we work a 60 hour week to bring home the bacon (... fry it up in a pan!). We bought the mantras that told us that we can have a career, a family, hobbies and a spiritually fulfilling life and if we didn't have all that and do it all well, there was something very wrong with us. We were failing if one piece of that puzzle was missing. If we decided to stay home with our kids we were told we were moving the entire female species back 100 years. We were told that if we had the smoking hot career, but no children, somehow we were incomplete. No hobbies? Why, we would go crazy! And you have to have spiritual balance... So we piled it all on!

It's a heavy load to bear. Under the weight of everything we were told we should want, we forgot what our God wanted for us. Peace. Peace that passes understanding. Peace in the midst of storms, in the joys of life, in the sorrows too. Peace. We traded our peace of who God created us to be for the lie that the World keeps feeding us.

I have made some decisions in my life. One of them is to stop trying to explain why I write. I realize it doesn't make me any money. I don't do it so I can supplement the income. I am afraid of that. If it made money, would I like it as much? Would it become a burdensome job then? I don't know. I do it because to not do it would be to rob God. God gave me this gift that feeds my soul. To not do it, to not use it, would be to tell God, "Thanks so much for the gift! I will use it just as soon as I take out the trash..." REALLY? If God were standing right here, before me, handing me the most amazing gift, would I really be crass enough to tell Him to wait? Lord, I beg of you, I hope not! I hope that You would smack me upside the head!

Stop thinking that you need to explain the things that you love to those around you. If they don't get that it is the blessing that feeds you, they will never get it from some lame explanation. Yes, yes... I know you think you can make sense of it and explain it to others, but here's the deal: When God plants something in your heart, it is rarely encompassed by mere words. Like the sunshine after a terrible storm, or the smell of fresh peach cobbler, or the feel of a baby's weight in your arms it just is and it feeds us. God is a rockstar that way. He alone knows what it is that will feed our souls and make us whole after the World roughs us up and makes us less than peaceful.

God waits for us to use our gifts, whether it is knitting, writing, having horses, or just listening when someone is talking, and He rejoices when we marvel at the peace it lays on our souls. We don't have to "get it" to enjoy it. We also don't have to explain it to others to justify it. When you feel the need to justify the gifts of God, they cease to be gifts. Those that love us for who we are, for all that we do, will not begrudge us our time in the sunshine and our absence from the laundry room for just a moment. For those that would question it, smile wanly and tell them, "I cannot explain the gifts of God, I just know how to thoroughly enjoy mine!"

What will you do this week that you have been putting off because there were too many chores to do? Leave me a note in the comments... I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Up Around the Bend (Thank you CCR!)

Can you see it there... Just up ahead. There's a turn in the road and it won't be long now. Soon I will be reaching that bend and I will be making new tracks in a place I have not been before. There will be new decisions to make, new paths to travel. I will be used by God to do the things He has created for only me. I will have purpose and I will tread steadily and surely. I will breathe deeply and take it all in. I will appreciate the journey as well as the destination.

If only that were my attitude every day! Before anyone gets their panties in a wad and wonders if I am somehow leaving the state or my husband, take a chill. I am speaking metaphorically here. I talked about Living on the Edge and I am still feeling very much that way. In fact every time I turn around, this guy, or this gal, or this guy have been giving me reason to pause and think about what it is I am doing with my life and if I really am living my Good Story.

I have a great story. Am I doing God justice by living it out loud for the world to see each and every day? No, of course not. I don't think anyone can do it every day... But I know I can do it more than I have been, that is for sure. I know I can start appreciating more, complaining less, smiling like I mean it and being a walking, breathing Good Story to share with those I have come in contact with.

I believe that every day I have a choice to make on how I approach my work. I can take a deep breath and hold it for the impending hours, begging for it to be over soon so I can go really live my life, or I can open my eyes wide, breath deeply of the life I have been given and walk steadily toward that goal I have in mind for that day. I can celebrate or I can dread. I can frown or I can smile. I can pity myself and my circumstances or I can take a quick look around and acknowledge that my issues are so mild and minute to someone else's, no matter what I am faced with.

How will you approach your day tomorrow? Will you walk in dread and fear, or will you choose to live your Good Story, no matter what plot twists the Lord might throw at you? Take a chance, a leap of faith, and roll downhill with it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When You Wish Upon A Star...

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Heard that before? Me too. So much so, it's been a mantra of mine anytime I have thought there was something I just couldn't live without. I have found that anytime I think I know exactly what it is that would make my life complete, I need to be very, very careful. Especially if I push to get it at all costs. Not a good plan! Bites me in the butt every time.

I have learned the hard way to trust God's judgment more than my own. The only place I struggle with it consistently would be my marriage relationship.
See, I'm married to a man's man, a dude, a cowboy... Not your typical twenty first century metrosexual guy. He's not in touch with his feminine side and he's often rather baffled by the women he's around day and night, night and day. He's not p.c., he's not particularly sensitive, he's not going to understand all the weird reasons I cry. He's a guy! He can fix stuff, pick up heavy stuff and kill spiders. If the dude at the mechanic shop gives me a hard time he will get on the phone and fix that. He will not sit for a pedicure and I will find his mind wandering if I talk too long about my feelings.

I look at my girlfriends husbands and sometimes I'm envious. They cook dinner, do dishes and laundry and dream up romantic evenings to whisk their women away on... At least that what Facebook says. (Yes, I can hear you laughing...) I can easily find myself wishing my man did that too. But the catch is, I don't know all the ins and outs of their relationship. I don't know what icky sticky skeletons reside I their hall closets. I only know what they choose to show me.

Somehow they don't choose to tell me that while he may cook, his taste in culinary choices doesn't line up with hers. He might bring her flowers every Friday, but they are flowers she isn't particularly fond of. He may plan weekends of delight, but they seldom take into account her favorite activities. So much of building a relationship is spent compromising and finding middle ground. That involves giving up what we like for what makes our partner happy.

The flip side is also not something I need to be pining for either. Would I give up my man's ingenious ways of fixing things and his never-be-stuck-on-the-side-of-the-road skill for a cooker of dinners? Would I want to have a man in my life that needed me to make every decision because he didn't want to leave me out of the process? Can I honestly say that I care how his feet look on the once in a blue moon occasion he leaves his boots behind for flip flops? I can't.

See, there are reasons that God gave me this man. He fills my needs. While I may be swayed by the greener grass over the fence, I need to be very aware that everything comes at a price. Nothing is free, least of all marriage relationships. They are hard work, chock full of tireless communications and thankless sacrifices. Marriages are filled with difficulties because it is the joining of two individuals who are consumed with their own selfish desires and narcissism. There have been times I have wondered what exactly God was thinking... One of the mysteries, I guess.

He could say the same thing about me. He could look around and complain that I don't make his plate when we visit friends, I am way too bossy and I don't respect him as much as I could. He could point out that I don't wear enough make up or that I have gained weight since we have been together. He could complain about the way I pay bills or open mail or avoid the answering machine. He could say all of that and be absolutely right... But then, he didn't marry me because I was some shrinking violet, bent on pleasing him because I have no self worth. He married me because I am strong and capable and I will take on more than I can accomplish and somehow get most if not all of it done. He is a smart man, so most of the time he doesn't say anything of the sort. Like me he has realized that finding another partner would take a lot of work, a diet and more training... I am way too lazy for that. Chances are, I would go right out and find the same kind of He-Man anyway. I am fairly certain it is how I am wired.

I love my husband with all of his warts and icky spots. He has way more good things to focus on for me to mire myself in the false picture Facebook or outward appearances can paint. I can take all that with a grain of salt. I wouldn't want to know about the fight you had last night, or the dirty laundry in your closet. Sharing the good things in life while covering over the not-so-good things is human nature and frankly way more polite for us outsiders. While I may read your status update with a sly glance and sneer at my hubby over there on the couch, I will also give thanks that he is who he is - and then I will make him move something heavy.

Make sure this week that you tell your partner how much you appreciate them for who they are. They need to hear it directly from you!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Anatomy of a Friend

Friendship. Easy to recognize, not easy to define. I know what being friendly is, but friendship is completely different - way more complicated. Friendship comes with baggage and expectations and responsibilities. Friendship isn't easy to define because it is different for everyone. There are some basic tenets, to be sure, but for each one of us, it has a little different flavor and in different parts of our lives along the timeline, we have varying degrees of expectations.

The hardest part of being a friend, a truly devoted and dedicated friend, comes when things don't make sense. When the friendship gets hard and you flat out disagree with each other, moving on and shutting down would be so much easier. Like a marriage, if the friendship means something to you, you may be tempted to walk away but instead you take stock of the memories, the kindnesses paid and you buckle down. You wade in rather than run. You stay available even if no one calls. You listen when you would rather talk. You set aside your opinion and you attempt to look through their eyes. Standing ready is a difficult, unrewarding station and it's lonely.

I think about the friendships in my life that matter, the ones that I cling to when thoughts from my past call me wretched and undeserving. They have one thing in common. They don't budge from who they are to please me and my mood. I wouldn't have it any other way. These ladies stand strong. They won't bend to my will because I look scary or ready to cry if they wade in. They tell it like it is and if I am being a brat or have a wrong attitude, they tell me so. They aren't afraid of what I might do or say in response. It is pretty freaking awesome even when it is a colossal pain in the ass! We don't always like the things our friends call out about us, but if we trust them - if they have earned the right to love us - then we know it is because they care who we are becoming.

Real friendship doesn't lie to you. It doesn't let you get away with lying to yourself. Real friends will call you out and make you face your fears, your avoided issues and your defensiveness. Real friends care when they see you shut the door on your life. Real friends don't run.

Being a friend is the hardest thing I have ever done. In some ways being married is easier (did I actually say that??) because you have rituals and expectations that keep you there. With a friendship, there is no ceremony to complete, you can walk away at any time. You don't have to stay. You don't have obligations that keep you there like kids or pets, a house or the financial ruin a divorce would cause. Being a friend is 100% choice. The weighty meat of the matter is this: Friendship has just as much baggage and expectation of a marriage and none of the commitment. You have to choose to stay.

Being a friend is one of the most rewarding things I have done. I have enjoyed countless hours of conversation, learning, picked up new hobbies and been witness to some amazing talents. I love my girls and who they are, each individually and as a group. Dynamics will always change and morph, but the core of who my friends are will not. When things get toughest and I can't find any quarter from the raucous storms that buffet me, my friends are the ones who reach out and pull me into the boat. I know I can count on them even if I don't like what they have to say. It doesn't change the fact that they love me.

My prayer today is that God will show me how to be a friend, no matter what. Jesus was the prime example. He did it perfectly. He was shunned and hurt, yet he remained. He was misunderstood, yet he didn't waver. He didn't lie to fit in, or sacrifice his character to please. No level of pain changed Christ's outlook on his friends. He knew who they were and He celebrated them each for being themselves. Because He did, I choose to do what I can to be the best friend I know how, baggage and all.

I love you friends... And you know who you are!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hope on Tiny Hooves

I stood in the stall just watching. Her mother pinned her ears defensively at no one in particular as she hovered over the newly blanketed charge at her feet. I edged close enough to peer under the mare's neck at the sleeping body of my new foal.

Her blondness so light and feather fine, lanky long legs and slightly curly ears with so many downy tufts of newborn fuzz stirred in me a feeling I had been sure was dead. There she was, dripping in potential and wonder and hope - scary, daunting, irrational hope. As that hope coursed through my soul on tiny, tentative hooves I began to weep. How much easier it had been to think this feeling would never return. How smugly I had said that horses just don't touch me like they do others. How very, very wrong I had been.

There is no longer an ability (nor desire) to deny the hold that a horse can have over me. I had fooled myself into believing that I could traverse my life without missing the feel of a soft muzzle on my back. I had talked to myself and believed that I didn't need to own another horse. I was convincing when I said I would not breed horses again, the risks didn't make sense and the money never panned out. I had soothed my heart with the fact that I had owned my "once in a lifetime" horse already. I had freed myself from the pain of that kind of love... And if she had never come, I might have been able to keep that facade erected against my fears. But she came. She came and changed everything...

She has come on tiny cream hued feet and nuzzled me, her eyes wide with undaunted curiosity. She has wandered unsteadily into my heart like a drunken thief and there will be no denying it now. Like a dam let loose upon thirsty land I am drinking her in in greedy gulps, quenching a thirst I never dreamt would return. Awakened again, I am insatiable and irrational and famished for the hope that this little filly has brought back to me: Someday, I will ride again.

I cannot get enough of her. I could sit in her stall, hour upon hour, and watch as she slept, awakened, ate... It would fill my soul to the brim. Her mother doesn't feel the same. I am an intrusion that might steal her little slice of Heaven away. I touch her too much, I talk too loudly, I move too fast. That feeling of new motherhood is recalled to mind as I stand in the corner to watch. I remember the quiet of the mornings with my kids and wonder how I can even compare it to this. It's not rational. Yet, I recall so many friends who have related just the same to me as I listened and thought, "How quaint..." Now I am quaint. I am silly and deluded. I am once again a part of the craziness.

I own a horse. Her name is Honey. I call her Hope in my heart.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rumblings of the Past

It was something out of a fairy tale. Like those movies who open on a mist shrouded landscape, trees and horse silhouettes placed here and there as if by an artist's hands, birds singing cheerily in the soft morning light. The hum of my golf cart was the only thing breaking the silence this early and I felt out of place and loud. I was aware of how much history surrounded me, if not directly in the horse park, then at least all around me in adjacent farms dotting the countryside behind whitewashed fences and large stone gateways. It was overwhelming. It was awesome. It was a once in a lifetime kind of feeling, though I long to return.

Kentucky is under the spotlight this week as the Derby amps up and the world will watch. While the racing world is foreign to us, the history of what it brought is so spectacular and foundational it cannot be overlooked. I spent the last week at the Kentucky Horse Park, surrounded by the elite of the horse world, both in our event (reining) and in the Three Day Events. I am still in awe. It cannot be described except in terms that would sound too much like I was making it up. I am still processing much of it.

To have walked by horses as famous as Cigar and giggled at the way he looked like any of our horses who desperately want just one more hour in their turn out. To have looked upon the statue of Man O War and realized that he and two of his offspring were buried under the fountain foundation was awe inspiring. To gaze at the statue of Secretariat and reminisce about the electricity in the air that day, the anticipation and the excitement creating sparks that made your skin tingle. These are all things that I am savoring today. I want to stop strangers on the street and tell them what I saw... I want to weep at the welling up of pride and emotion for what my husband accomplished there... And yet I know I simply don't have the words yet. I may never have the words...

As I watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend, I will do so with a knowing smile and a full heart. I was close to that place. I felt the vibration of thundering hooves throughout history ushering in greatness, honor and nobility. Simply breathtaking.