Thursday, November 16, 2017

Leaning In To The Here and Now

Awakening. Maybe reawakening is more like it?

With each new day I am searching, learning, discovering, re-remembering. Some days the journey is easy. The learning comes quick. Each new discovery and aha moments are gifts to be savored. Other days I want to shut myself up away and out of this world. The discoveries are hard - I don't like what I find. The aha moments do not come. I do not want to be on this path. I want the easy exit.

But there is none. When I decided that I needed to do this- when I decided to strip myself bare I knew that I could not go back. I could not turn around. I could not unlearn what I was learning. Could not give back the gifts. Could not succumb when the hard moments challenged me. I had to persevere. But isn't that what I have always done?

A sensitive child who turned into a sensitive adult who learned how to harden her heart and build walls to shield herself from the all immense feelings from both ends of the spectrum is who I am. Yes, my walls have shut out much hurt. But they have also shut out much joy. When my children tell me they love me I don't feel it with every bit of my being. Their hugs don't reach to my heart as they should. Their love doesn't seep into me fully. They can see this and I can see this recognition in their eyes. The dagger finds a way through one of the cracks in my walls and pieces my heart, but still I cannot bring down my walls and unharden my heart. I am teaching them how to build walls. And I hate the part of me that teaches them that walls are necessary to begin with.

Afraid that it is too late to help them tear down what they have started to build I cry out to God to help me. Please. Please help me to learn how to let down my walls. Please help me to learn how to lean into my life right here and right now. Please help me not to watch my own life passing me by too afraid to take part. Too afraid to make mistakes. Because in living with walls and living on the sidelines I am making more mistakes - catastrophic ones - than I would have if I would just lean into my life. To be a part of it. All of it. The good and the bad. The easy and the hard.

Oh, but fear takes hold of my heart. It is the making of the Devil himself, I know. And the voices scream in my head of all that I have done wrong. Of all that I cannot make right. Of all of the ways I am failing. The fear creates anxiety so deep I can physically feel its presence. It is like an invisible hand that squeezes my lungs causing me to grasp for breath. Anxiety cripples me.


The quiet within - the sweet voice of God - asks me to trust Him. And when the anxiety subsides I do trust Him. But... Do I really and truly trust Him in all ways? Do I trust Him enough to try and relinquish the control I think I have on all aspects of my life and give it all up to Him? Because if I say I follow Him - I cannot also have control. I cannot say I am a woman of faith with my words, but have my actions speak otherwise. Because that is what I do when I try and control every aspect of my life. That is what I do when I build walls around my heart. I am telling God that I don't trust Him. I am telling God that I know better than He which is why I must control my own life and the lives of those around me. I am telling God that He does not know better than I do. That I know best.

This is a lie. And listening to that lie is why I am where I am at right now. It is why I have felt the heat inside. It is why I burn within.  It is why I am brought to my knees time again and with crippling anxiety about a future I cannot control and a past I have no business visiting again. Listening to that lie is why I have walls and hard places. It is why I feel the need to protect myself. Always. No matter who knocks at the door of my heart. All are enemies - even those closest to me.

But God will not stop pursuing me. And I may build walls and I may run, but I cannot hide from Him. But He knows how stubborn I am. And He knows that I will not submit to Him unless He has made the burden so hard that I cannot do anything, but cry out to Him and beg for mercy. To surrender. And He always grants me His mercy. And the lesson is not learned because I go about my life again full of plans and visions of exactly how everything will and should play out. But not this time. The older I get the more I feel the weight He places on my shoulders to break me. The older I get the memory of the agony that weight imparts into my being becomes like a tattoo. I cannot forget it. I am reminded of it every day. One day, if I don't learn to submit, that weight will kill me - not physically, but mentally. And so this time, this time, I hear Him loud and clear. This time I surrender...for real. This time I mean it. And in the real surrender I am trying to find the real me. All the while shedding layer after layer of this not real self. And sometimes I get a small glimpse of the bare skin underneath all of these layers. And I love what I see. This woman hiding beneath this heavy weight of expectations and compromises. I am so excited to meet her. Again. Or maybe for the first time. I am so excited to get to know her and to love her fully and completely and unconditionally. I am so excited to show her off to the world. Free and unguarded. But my glimpses of her right now are infrequent and lightning quick. I still have work to do before I uncover her for good. Hard work. Long work.

I do not believe that God never gives us more than we can carry. I believe that God always gives us more than we can carry, so that we learn to turn to Him for help in carrying our load.

So here I sit. Every day learning and relearning. Learning how to relinquish control as potential doors of opportunity close, not quietly and easy, but slam shut. Learning how to sit with this day just as it is. Not to worry about the future and what may or may not happen. Not fretting over the past and all of the mistakes I have made and all of things I would do different if I had another chance.  Learning how to trust God's plan, not mine. Learning how to submit my stubborn will. Learning how tear down walls little by little, so that all that is left is just unguarded real me. Raw and exposed.  So that I can feel the hugs and the words that come from my children. From my husband. Really feel their love and not reject it.

 Learning to lean into my life. To feel it. To be there with it in that moment just as it is without walls and barriers is the journey I am on. There is not turning back. And I am glad for that because this journey is worth fighting for.

It is hard this shedding of protection. It is hard to unlearn years of lies. But I can see slow progress. And this progress is what keeps me going when another moment has passed and I have reverted back to old ways.

 The Darkness doesn't like my faith renewed. He has kept my attention thwarted for so long that he thought he had me for good. He brings anxiety down on me tenfold in the most unexpected times and places. But always the quiet voice whispers, "I am here". And I know that even though there are dark nights I  know that if I turn my face towards the heavens the sun will always rise in the morn. And I will never have to carry my burden alone.

Wild and free. True and real. Unguarded and open.

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Raw & Real

Image result for picture of a phoenix rising from the ashes

I want to scrub off all of my layers and all of my scabs until I am raw.
To peel away all of the expectations, notions, concepts, and ideas I have about myself 
and who I should be. 
I want to take off the amour that I use to protect myself from not only the world around me, 
but also from the person within. 
Like the Velveteen Rabbit I long to be Real.
But I am far from my youth when I was most myself.
Most raw. 
Instead time has taught me to protect myself. 
To act one way or believe this.
To say this or to value that. 
Being different is not accepted. Follow protocol. Be the norm. 

And so I learned one painful experience at a time
To protect those parts of me that are most true. 
And to keep them hidden from the world.
And I have.

I thought that in adding those layers
I was protecting myself.
But in reality I was only adding fuel to the fire that burned within. 
In the beginning it smoldered.
But when I didn't know how to put it out
The fire began to get bigger and harder to handle.
The heat exhausted me. 

I thought that I could outrun the fire. 
That there were places of myself that would be protected from the inferno
raging within.
I failed to recognize that although I can run from many things in my life
I cannot run from me.  

And as the fire crested the Darkness set in.
And I could not understand why.
It was once I knew that I was licked
That I could never fight both the fire and the Darkness
That I surrendered. 
That I am surrendering still. 

To trust the quiet voice within 
Means surrendering all of the layers
And walls that I have placed around myself
As protection.
It means living life real and raw.

And it is so very difficult for me.
It is my most difficult life's work.

The fire will rage from time time.
And the Darkness will come.
But only to remind me that I am getting off track.
That I am not living Real. 

But maybe, just maybe
I was looking at the fire wrong this whole time.
Maybe the fire was only meant to burn away the parts of me
That aren't true.
That aren't authentic
Maybe, because I am stubborn, the fire had to rage
within in order to bring me to my knees
and recognize that a change was needed.
That I could not go on living with all of these layers anymore.

I want to live life Real.
I want to live life raw. 
That means getting hurt from time to time.
But what it means even more
Is that I will get to experience true joy. 
And love.

Because in protecting myself all of this time
I was protecting myself from hurt
But I was keeping out the joy and love. 

And I don't want to live that way any more. 
I cannot live that way anymore.

So I will shed layer by layer
Until I am raw.
And it is then that I will find the most Real me 
And Open
Then I will be Free. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

November's Reading List

As I mentioned last month I have been on a reading frenzy. I cannot get enough of books right now, and I absolutely love it.  Here are the books I will be reading this November:

My current book:

The first line in this book almost knocked the wind out of me. It is a quote from the bible that blew the socks off of me and when I get the courage to write about it I will. That one line  deserves its own post. 

Books that just arrived that I will be beginning as soon as I am done with the one above:

I have read this book before, but loved it so much I wanted to read it again. 

And a book I did not get to last month are on this months reading list:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

One Of The Best Of All Time

This Halloween was one of my favorites of all time which surprises me given the fact that the day seemed to sneak up on all of us. We got our pumpkins last week and carved them a day or two later. All of the kids were into it which I loved. They each put a good amount of effort into carving their pumpkins and tried to come up with different ideas. Each of them succeeded. Andy's pumpkin amazed me. He seemed to whip that carving up in no time - it would have taken me weeks to create his design and it wouldn't have looked anywhere as nice as his did. His creativity is always inspiring to me.

After a little hemming and hawing Sarah decided that she was indeed going to trick or treat this year. This made me very happy. She was undecided about what she wanted to choose as her costume when a couple of days before going to pick one out she quietly said that she wanted to be a princess. She then changed her mind quickly after speaking that wish out loud as if it were somehow a silly thing for her to be. I encouraged her to not be embarrassed about wanting to be a princess. I told her that she would be a wonderful princess. She decided that she wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. When Sarah put that costume on right before trick or treating a smile rose from her face and her eyes lit up. You could tell she felt beautiful. I will not forget that moment for a long time. It seemed like every house she went to people were telling her how beautiful her and Elizabeth looked. It made her feel special. She needed that.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, was initially going to be a Greek goddess, but instead decided to be a flapper - which was the perfect outfit for her.

The boys came with Bob and I as we followed behind the girls going from house to house in search of tricks or treats. It was fun to have the boys with us. We laughed and talked while the girls happily collected their sugary treats. My heart felt full that night. I love when the six of us are together. With Andy working now and every one growing up it feels like it is harder for me to pull everyone together, but I am wondering if that is just in my imagination as I have really focused on creating more family time whether it be just the 5 of us or the 6 of us, and everyone seems to be joining in without too much fuss. It has been wonderful.

I want to give Elizabeth props for being an amazing sister to Sarah. I started out going door to door with Sarah so that Elizabeth could go with us, but not have to be responsible for Sarah. Although Sarah is a perfectly capable human being, she still needs a lot of help in a lot of situations. Elizabeth is usually the person to help her out. She does this all of the time without ever complaining or grumbling. Helping Sarah has just become her normal and something she has done for the past four and a half years of her life. After a few houses she came up and got Sarah and told me that she could take her. And the two girls trick or treated on their own the entire rest of the night with the rest of us trailing behind them. It was Elizabeth who navigated Sarah up each individual walkway telling her about each stair, bump, lit pumpkin, decoration, curve, and any other detail Sarah would need to know. It was Elizabeth who helped create space around Sarah so she could get past any other trick or treaters. It was Elizabeth who told the parent trick or treating with his kid that he was rude for telling Sarah how sad it was that she was a blind Belle. That girl may drive me crazy every day of the week at some point, but I will tell you this: Elizabeth has a heart of gold. Being a caretaker is not easy. And Elizabeth makes it look seamless.

So, what made this one of the best Halloween's ever? It was this:  Having my family together. Seeing my daughter's eyes light up because she felt beautiful. Seeing my other daughter gladly shoulder the extra tasks required in helping her sister trick or treat. Watching my girls from a distance laugh together. Seeing how mad boys got when they heard a person was rude to their sister. Hanging out with my husband and sons joking around and laughing together while the girls went grabbed treat after treat. Having one of my sons choose to stay out trick or treating with me and the sister he struggles to get along with the most while the other half of the family went back to the house. And being able to enjoy the moments of the night without worrying about what happened in the past and what is going to happen in the future. Just being able to BE with them. To not be distracted by the million thoughts that race through my brain each day, but instead to enjoy the moments as they came.

Watching my family that night just reinforced how much I love us as unit. I treasure my family so much. They are where my heart is.

Feeling where the tip and sharp edges are. 

Sarah's favorite part of carving pumpkins is taking the guts out. It grosses the other kids out, but she loves it. 

He is so methodical. He always has been. 

My artist. Thinking about his creation. 

Andy's pumpkin

Elizabeth's creation. 




Our flapper

Our Belle

Sarah spent the better part of the afternoon getting ready. I knew this costume was special to her even if she didn't want to let on that it was. She didn't want to wear any clothes underneath her costume and I think it was because doing so would have been a reminder that this was just a costume. She really wanted to feel a princess this night. And she did. 

Sarah brought two small bags so that she could swap one out for the other making it less heavy and cumbersome for her to carry. Andy was the nice big brother who carried the spare bag for Sarah. 

Her loot. 

Josh's loot. (Some families left a bowl of candy on their porch. On those houses I let Josh go up and grab 1 piece of candy. 

Elizabeth's haul. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Like We Used To

There is a house to clean
And groceries to be bought.
There is a school week to plan
And 'to do' lists to be made.

But the sun is shining.
Oh, how that sun calls me!
The rainy season is almost upon us.
I know what this means for me.
I have lived through this kind of thing before.

So when the sun beckons
And calls me out of doors.
I surrender.
Because of all of the healing things I am learning
And relearning about - the sun is at the top of that list.

As I try to slow down
And listen to the quiet voice within
I know that when it pull me in one direction
I must go.

I take them to a farm.
We pick out pumpkins and some apple cider too!
And I watch them from behind as we wander through a corn maze.
I remember the days gone by.
I remember the little years and the laughter left in the corn stalks.
I remember all of Halloween things we used to do.
And I bring myself back to the present
Because I am trying to remember THAT is where the gift truly is.
It is not in the past.
It is in the right now.

And so I watch them again.
This time from right where I am at.
We laugh together and have fun.
The five of us together.
And I thank the kind of God that would bless me with these four souls.

Nice photo - Josh. 

He is making this face because there is dirt on the underside of this pumpkin. He hates dirt/sand/nature. 

The deal with the pumpkins was that the kids could get any pumpkin they wanted so that as they could carry it back to the car. This Mama's done with carrying their pumpkins. And because we believe that Sarah is a fully capable human being this applied to her as well. These next few pictures show her carrying her massive pumpkin and us laughing the whole time - me so much so that I snorted which only made us laugh even harder. 

Josh trying to maneuver his pumpkin so he didn't have to touch the dirt. 

Elizabeth didn't find the right one out in the patch, so she got hers from the pile of already selected pumpkins out front.