Friday, July 27, 2012

On Floating (Wherein All Feet Are NOT Firmly On the Ground)

I feel lighter today. I can't always explain it when this sensation hits me, but it is one of absolute freedom. The picture says it all... At one point in a horse's stride, there are no feet on the ground, everything is airborne and they float, if only for a moment. I am in that instant in time today and it is glorious!

I do too much. It is no one's fault but my own and I am coming to grips with it, day by middle-aged day. I realize that if I am to do the things God is asking of me, I have got to let go of the things He has not called me to. I have to allow myself the freedom to say, "Someone else will do this better." It is excruciating for me to admit. It is a hallmark of mine to do LOTS of stuff... I admit I have been doing much of it for all the wrong reasons. I have craved accolade, acceptance and awards. The irony is, I can never gain those things because I am horribly overbooked and the end result suffers for it! Nothing gets done well when I try to do everything...

I am reluctantly trusting that God is at the root of my next steps. It hasn't been easy. I am still struggling with the desire to take it all back and say, "It's ok... I'll do it. It really isn't as bad as I thought..." Why do I do that? Is it shame at feeling like I failed? Is it pride that I think no one can really do my job as good as I can? Is it the insanity of exhaustion? Or is it the Enemy hoping I will stay mired in my routines and not step out to do the things that God is asking of me? I shudder to think I will succumb to any of it, for any reason.

The difficulty lies in asking another for help, primarily because I am ashamed at the mess I have created. I have procrastinated and delayed and done a half-assed job. Now things are in a shambles and I need help to clean it up. To allow someone into my mess, even if it is only a perception of mess, is to admit that I am a failure. It is almost unbearable. In my denial, not long ago I caught myself lecturing a friend on their inability to allow others to help them... Hmmm. I had to step aside to dodge the lightening bolt. I will call that an epiphany!

When I cannot possibly see another way out, I can't let my "but" get in the way. If I look up and then look around, I may just find someone in the vicinity with their hand up hoping I will pick them to be on my team. I can't be so prideful to think only I can handle it, only I should be involved, it is my mess and no one should have to deal with it but me. The Enemy wants me to think that way. He's desperately hoping I won't ask for help. After all, it is so much easier to defeat just one weakened Christian than a team of them working together for the glory of God!

Take a moment, look up, then look around. Is there someone who wants to help you in your trial? Who are you to deny them their gift to you? After all, that gift is coming directly from the hands of God who wants more for you! Let go, get light and float right into His purpose for your life!

Photograph courtesy of the talented Eli Paulsen. Contact me for more information on her work.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Traveling the Back Roads

My heart beat faster as I took the exit ramp off of the Indian Nation Turnpike. This was not an Interstate, it was a state highway. I don't take state highways, I stick to the well traveled, well cell phone covered, well populated Interstates. This was definitely not Interstate... I checked my phone again and wondered how I managed to choose this route? I didn't remember taking such small highways the last time I made my way to my sister's. The route seemed accurate enough and it calculated out as shorter time-wise. I decided I would follow the soothing voice on my navigation system. How lost could she get me? (Ya, I tried not to think about that...)

While the Turnpike faded into my rearview mirror something short of magical happened. The landscape began to close in a bit, uncleared by the relative newness of the Interstate system and small towns cropped up unexpectedly. There were few signs heralding the approach of another little hamlet until you were right up on it. The travel speed wasn't much different from Interstate postings and I realized that God had provided exactly what I needed on this trip into Louisiana through the North East corner of rural Texas. I was about to be interested in my drive!

I was rejuvenated and enthralled by the appearance of quaint towns, not a soul in sight on this Sunday, as they basked in the balmy shade of tall, tree lined state and county highways. It fueled my imagination as I drove and wondered what went on in those old homes, cool and brick-clad against the sweltering heat. I admired the porches and the porch furniture (from big wicker rockers to old dining chairs) and thought about how lovely it would be to sit in the evening breeze with a cold glass and good friends. If I had stopped at the Turnpike exit and re-routed I would never have seen the beautiful North East Texas countryside. I would have missed a renewing of my love of southern charm... I would have missed God's gift to me that day.

I realized then that I had always traveled Interstates because I wanted to feel safe. I driven those wide and barren expanses because I could read road signs and track my next fuel stop, my next meal, my next potty break. I wanted security, speed and most of all, control. I do that in my life more than I should. I seek out the fastest, most efficient and expedient route to my destination and forget that the journey too has value. I don't stop to enjoy the moment but careen on to the end-goal. I miss out on the details like tire swings, wading pools, sleepy hounds and effortless landscaping.

I had everything I really needed to step out of my comfort zone on that trip. I had my guidance system, I had company (although traveling with two teens definitely lacks in the conversation department), and I had a way to contact others if I needed help. I didn't have to know my route inside and out. In fact, that was what entertained me as I traveled. I didn't have to stop at a nationally known fuel stop to gas up. That too was rather entertaining! I trusted and I drove and by the time I got to my destination, I realized that I had reached a milestone. I could enjoy the journey... (You do see where I am heading, right?)

I let myself be guided instead of anticipating the next step, the next stop, the next leg of the trip. I slowed down, I took a look around and I inhaled! I know there are interstate moments in all of our lives that we can't see any other way around. Interstates have their places. So do the small country roads, the lanes with the old barns in the distance, the little main streets in small towns with men sitting outside the barbershop... I need those slowed down journey moments more these days than before. I need to allow myself the chance to get lost. In those moments I am learning to come alive.

Each country lane is teaching me to slow down, drink it in and bank the memory. How will I choose to travel my life? Speeding down the Interstate or ambling along a narrow State highway taking it all in? I know I'm not done with the Interstates, but I'm learning to value the back roads as well.

Be blessed and get yourself a little lost today... God is waiting to show you something awesome!

Friday, July 20, 2012


I used to take anti-depressants. I suffer from genetic based clinical depression arriving on stealthy waves of inscrutable darkness and hopelessness manifesting in uncontainable rage. Years ago I realized there was a problem when I noticed after I walked into my kids' nursery they flinched playing there on the floor. It was heartbreaking, both as a mother and as a Christian. I had to do something to get my rage under control. It was beyond my own ability to solve. I went to my doctor. I poured my aching heart out on the sterile floor. I got some little white pills and I slowly came to grips with what "normal" might feel like.

While I did begin to recognize my "normal," I realized I had lost most of what elation, joy and manic happiness felt like as well. I became numb. After two years and talking extensively with my loved ones, I decided to try life without the drugs again, with the understanding that if I became needlessly angry once more I would take the medicine without hesitation. I am not a normal case. I was able to do quite a few things to detox off of the drugs, flanked by the amazing patience of my husband and good friends. I was diligent about changing my diet and my lifestyle so that I could begin to find "normal" without the anti-depressant. For me, thankfully, it worked. It does not for most people and I am not an advocate for what I found worked for me as a blanket cure for others. If you are on medication, stay on it! Stop taking them only under the care and support of your doctor.

Having clarified that, the feeling of being without emotions... It was what drove me to want a different solution. I am a passionate person in extremes. I get passionately excited, passionately elated, passionately angry. I learned how to control my responses through counseling, diet and stress management. I realize that my clinical depression had to be mild for me to do these things. I also realize daily that keeping ahead of the darkness means that I have to be diligent in all of my approaches.

Today I am feeling the passions once more. I feel angry, heart broken and sickened by the loss of so much life at the hands of a deviant. There was a shooting at the midnight showing of Batman in Aurora, CO. Amidst the movie goers were small children, women, teens and men who's only desire for the night was to be mightily entertained. It is no wonder that when the gas filled canisters rolled into the theater so many describe feeling confused. Somehow this had to be a joke, a part of some movie promotion, an ill timed prank. It wasn't until the gunman opened fire that reality, never mind how surreal and terrifying, finally set in. This was not part of the movie, it was part of their life - lives that would never be the same.

Listening to the reports I realized, like myself,as a society, we have become desensitized. We look at canisters rolling down a theater aisle way and we no longer heed the "danger!" signal that should be coursing through our bodies. We assume that it must be a joke, a part of the unreality we view on television and in movies every day. We have become numb to the violence we see around us as if we could never be touched by it. Today, at least 12 families have been touched by it. There is life lost - young, productive and hopeful life that will never regain it's ability to sense hope again. Reports have said there are 13 deaths to contend with.

"Senseless" doesn't begin to describe how I feel on this tragic day-after. I am enraged, incensed, devastated, crushed and terrified. I have kids who desire to see life from a safe and wonder-filled vantage point. I have to keep reminding them that if something doesn't' feel right, heed their instinct. God gave it to them as a gift and a safety valve. They roll their eyes at me and hug me as they chuckle. How many Columbine students did the same thing that fateful morning? I weep at the thought.

As scared as I am, I realize that there is wisdom in my children's approach. We cannot hide in our padlocked, dead bolted, alarm-armed caves and never step into the light of God's creation, but we can be more diligent about our sensibilities. We can be on the look-out for the desensitizing of our kids, of ourselves, of our communities. We can step up for those being bullied, those unfairly discriminated against and we can heed our inner alarms when those instinctual warnings are screaming in our heads to run! We can be the change we want to see in the world.

We simply must not be "senseless."

Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy - you're in good hands. (The Message, Proverbs 1:29-33)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teeny Tiny

Being small. It is what I am thinking about today. That insignificance, that being out of control of anything you truly want, that place in your heart that the little girl or boy sits and shivers in the corner, head pressed against bent knees as they try desperately to weather the storm. Smallness.

Most of my life I live as a large personna. I am not a shrinking violet, a quiet girl, a sweetheart. I have spice and am what my husband refers to as "salty" most days. I speak my mind (most times too quickly), I don't smile if I don't feel it and I am probably not someone you will forget meeting. What I am trying to say is that feeling small isn't something I experience often.

Smallness is something that God is asking me to be open to, however. I don't mean that God wants me to cower in a corner. Rather, He desires me to relate honestly and humbly to things that I have no control over. He wants me not to fight the smallness but accept it. It doesn't come easy to me.

Some women are born to it. That quiet spirit, the knowing smiles, the deep sighs of contentment when I would be screaming in frustration. I surround myself with personalities like these so that I can maybe suck some of it in through osmosis. I am hoping that a smidge of that sparkly, light-as-air-fairy-dust-of-calm will light upon me and I won't immediately have the desire to brush it away in irritation.

I hope that I can come to terms with my smallness and rejoice in it. That I can more fully accept that God loves my small as much as He loves my big... My big is the easy part of me, the familiar territory, the facade I hide behind. I can fake the big when I am uncertain... The small, it screams hypocrisy when it is false! You can smell fake humility a mile away, like a rotting corpse with that sickly sweet scent of decay. You cannot pretend to accept the small. You either do or you don't, no middle ground.

I am working on the small... And God reminds me: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Mt 6:26) Every thing He made is His to bless, from the enormous to the miniscule. There is nothing that escapes His love. I can relax and enjoy being small.

Have a blessed day! And think big small!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Momentary Lapse

I love simple things, moments in time that seem to stand still and claw at my soul for a second more to savor them. When the world is quiet and still, yet shouting for all it's worth how majestic and wonderful my God is, I become excruciatingly aware of how much I miss in daily routines. Those moments that speak volumes loudly into my heart, filling it like water running from a quiet stream, bring cool clarity and wonder back into my grasp. I love those moments.

There are special moments you recall in time. Milestone moments like the minutes you stood waiting at the end of a long aisle way to walk (not run) to your waiting groom. That second that you stepped into view of everyone and the crowd rustled as it turned and stood in your honor and in celebration of your coming marriage ceremony. The look in his eyes as he stares at you as if for the first time, God lighting your face with a glow not seen on any ordinary day. The way he smiles and the way your cheeks begin to hurt because you cannot stop grinning back at him. You focus just on him because you know if you look into the crowd you might just cry out loud at how wonderful a moment this is.

The seconds that you first watch him hold his daughter and son and speak to them in hushed, soft words, barely audible at all. The prayers that he speaks into the sterile air and that look he gives you that lands softly in your soul. The way he inspects every inch of them and unwraps the tiny bundles to view toes and fingers and the marvel in his voice when he realizes just exactly how tiny they really are.

Ordinary moments that our eyes lock across the room and we know that the other is thinking about being anywhere but there.... The moments that we release ourselves from expectations and just decide to love with abandon the very life we have been blessed with, together. When we can put aside our desire to be right and replace with it a desire to see the other person happy, those moments tug at my heart like a child grabbing for the hem of my shirt and I cannot deny that push to recognize love as the choice I make each day. Not a feeling or a passion or lust, although those things are there... But the choice to love, the decision to love, the desire to love no matter where we are or how we look. The choice to manage our selfishness and replace that with prayerful love born of decision not biology.

I am addicted to moments like these, when time stands waiting for me to take it all in and appreciate it, even as inadequately as I am able. I love that God allows me those moments to view His creation and His plan and His choices for me. I love that He has given me him, the complementary partner to my soul, my playful accomplice, my encourager. In those moments, there is no doubt within me... God got it so right!

Photo used with express permission. Available for purchase as Limited Edition Giclee. Contact me for more information.