Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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I very much dislike what has happened to my attention span.

I don’t know if it’s that I can’t focus, per se. Mostly, I think that because of technology and social media my brain makes me think that I’m supposed to have something exciting popping up and be completely entertained by something every few seconds.

Think about it.

Have you every just wondered why you feel bored? You want to get home from work and then you get home from work and you don’t know what to do with yourself. I don’t know about you but it makes me feel yuck and also a bit guilty. I had a wonderful teacher that once told me, “Saying you’re bored says more about you than your circumstances.” I’ve never forgotten that.Friends-Hugging

And what is it about me? I’m entirely convinced I’m addicted to the internet. Let’s be honest. My name is Amanda and I have a problem with social media. I don’t even like it that much. I mean right this moment as I sat still to think, I had to resist the urge to type “Fa” at which time my internet title bar would automatically fill in the rest of the letters and take me directly to Facebook. Do I want to go to Facebook? Not really. I think I’ve reprogrammed my brain.

I’m not putting down technological accomplishments. The internet is good for research (it’s great for reading Star Trek: TNG and General Hospital Fanfiction). Social media can be good for promoting creative endeavors, keeping in touch with friends, and being tagged in photos where you have two chins. *smirk* It was amazing yesterday that I could Skype my Mom who lives three hours away on my phone while we were getting the kayak ready to put in the water at the lake. It made me feel like a lot of my trek dreams had come true. However, a man drove by while I was on the phone and stopped his car. “Can I ask you a question?” I agreed to listen. “Why are you up here on the street holding your life jacket instead of at the lake?” I answered that I was waiting on the boat to be ready, but as he left his look was one of bemused scrutiny. Why was I missing out on moments with my husband to Skype or in other times in our marriage, to scroll through Facebook or Instagram or whatever social media site that had posts that I hadn’t seen five times already in the last few hours?

I read on a site this statistic — People who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will use 10% of their entire life time on these sites. (www.londoncitygirlmagazine.com) I also read somewhere recently that we receive in one day more news than some people do in a lifetime. We are overloaded. 10% of your entire life on social media? (I dare say it is more for people that feel isolated, are chronically ill, or maybe just nosy.) 10% might not seem like a lot but let’s think about it this way … What if you’re not meant to be here for a long time? What if your “forever” with a husband or partner is much shorter than you imagined? What if all a friend, grandparent, parent just has 10% of their life left? What if that 10 % was all you needed to put in the extra work to start that business, finish the book you’ve always wanted to write, begin an exercise program, read to your child instead of handing them a tablet to watch a movie? My big ones that come to me while I’m staring mindlessly at a screen for most hours of a day – Why am I looking at a device while I’m praying? If 10% of my income is to go back to God? Shouldn’t I also be giving Him at least this 10% in Bible study that I’m too tired to engage in for more than 30 minutes while I can lay in bed and scroll through social media past my bedtime.

We compare ourselves nonstop on social meMobile-variousdia and the internet to celebrities, other couples, other women/men. It is damaging to our marriages. It is damaging to our friendships. It is damaging to our relationships with God because really we’re measuring ourselves against social standards and other people. Not that we don’t do that at times but (Wham!) here’s an even easier way to do it on a larger scale. It’s easier to be mean to one another because we feel disconnected. It is also harming our families.

We think that social media creates community, but it is actually stealing it from us. Do we realize how many people feel isolated? How many people feel unsuccessful because they are gauging their lives against the photos and comments people choose to show the world (at their best!)? I have felt it being long distance to my family. Everyone sees what’s going on with you on Facebook so they think they know and so they never pick up the phone, hardly come visit, don’t write letters (oh, my goodness, what’s a letter?) There is no community engagement. Now if you talk to someone regularly and have coffee with them regularly without checking your phone every five seconds … then, maybe. Admit it though, what percentage of your information that you get about your friends and family is gathered from checking their Facebook page?

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I miss nature. I miss phone calls. I am a lover of quality time and I feel ashamed of myself that I stare at a screen more hours a week than I would like to admit. Tally it up. Texting, internet on phone, taking photos of a moment you’re not really experiencing, working by looking at a computer screen, if you watch TV when you get home, reading on a tablet. How many hours do you spend looking at a screen? How many hours do you spend looking into the eyes of the one you love or talking to your child? It’s false community based on false truths and people are not feeling loved (some but not most).

As a community, we need to be taking care of one another. If everyone helped someone that was downtrodden, going without food, or needing encouragement … how much better would the world be? Community gardens, walks, talks on the back porch until the fireflies come out? Maybe it’s just me who is beginning to feel robbed, mechanical, and like I’ve developed a problem that I really never should’ve had. I’m a reader. I’m a writer. If I could take back all the hours I’ve spent without purpose on the internet because my mind is so used to being overly stimulated … how much writing could I have produced? As an introvert, it is no longer just talking and putting myself out there that wears me out. It’s being overstimulated daily on the internet. We have been taught that “multitasking” is something to be commended. However, it is a lie. Our brains were not meant to multitask. Something is losing out.

What is the answer? I’m not sure. I can change things in my own life. Be outside more, contact more people, stay away from devices when absolutely unnecessary to be on them, and engage in the life I’ve been given while I have to blessing to do so … but if everyone else remains the same. Who am I going to commune with? We are vulnerable when we become dependent on anything but let’s not crumble because we’re rebuilding community on quicksand instead of a strong foundation with a sturdy cornerstone.

Just think.

How many conversations have you started today that began, “Have you seen Facebook today?” “I saw on Facebook that so and so is having a baby.” “I saw on Facebook that so and so lost their father to cancer.” How many begin with how are you and then giving the gift or your fighting with all you have to give them your full listening attention?

I want to change — even just in baby steps.

If only Mr. Rogers were still here. Well, maybe I’m glad he doesn’t live in this virtual neighborhood.

__DanielStripedTigerAndMisterRogers_______________________________________________________________________________________

“You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.” – Mr. Rogers

“I’m proud of you for the times you came in second, or third, or fourth, but what you did was the best you had ever done.” – Mr. Rogers

“There’s a nurturing element to all human beings, whenever they themselves have been nurtured, and it’s going to be expressed one way or another.” – Mr. Rogers

Blurbs I Still Haven’t Used “Later”

Things in a Writer’s Notebook

I found some lines, paragraphs, ideas I wrote a few years ago in my tree notebook to use in stories I never finished, drop into a ten minute play form, or pen into an essay. They’re still waiting …

“I’m going to start standing on my hands so that my boobs don’t always feel so heavy.”

“It didn’t really mean anything.”

“You dove into the ocean in the middle of a thunderstorm.” He whispered, pushing a curl behind her ear.

“I can swim.”

— damsel story? (meant for the continuation of “Baptizing Obituaries” a novella that sits as is in short story form)

“My cooter’s burning because I used the wrong kind of soap on my arms. Does that make sense to you?”

“Things drip.”

“At times, I form a letter on a page and it looks like my sister’s handwriting. This is funny because I learned to write by copying letter after letter on the same page as my best friend in middle school. We write the same all these years later, my words from shadows after hers. Six feet, beautiful, brown skin. While I was 4’11, acne faced, and curled my hair every day to look like Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The year before I lay in bed with my sister and told her I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She was nineteen. How young that seems now — how grown up it seemed when I was ten.” (Essay about my sister)

Memorial Day

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Earlier in the week I spontaneously thought of going on my dream Tennessee trip to Carroll County — Huntingdon and McLemoresville, TN to be exact. Two hours and some change away from Nashville. If it is your dream trip why haven’t you jumped into the car and trekked that short distance to where no Alabama girl (without the aid of trivial knowledge has gone before)? Intimidation I suppose. Well, that and today it just wouldn’t have been right without the sunshine. At least, that’s the way I picture it. That kind of Summer warmth that is welcomed with all it’s luminescence. It’s like when you sit in an air conditioned office that feels like it’s giving you enough of a chill bump on your legs to make your freshly shaven skin grow its stubble back. Then, it is lunch and you jump into your car and feel as if you’re being wrapped into a security blanket. Your whole body just relaxes. I imagine the drive there to be beautiful. Greenery all around and back roads. The kind of road trip that allows you time to day dream and write lyrical fiction in your head where all the characters speak like Scarlett O’Hara. Well, in Gone With The Wind not the beautiful Vivien’s British accent. The small town scenery would inspire. Then there is the woman that went from booties to high heel shoes and that beautiful walk that left behind a saucy whisper. I figure that I would wear my easter dress, a thin brown strap or ribbon to form an empire waist, and new shoes. I think when you visit McLemoresville you should always have new shoes.

What do you think of when you walk the same path as someone that you admire only on a different day, of a different year, and surely not without the sunshine? I imagine pulling up to the cemetery, just standing next to the car, and breathing. Breathing in the warm sunshine, breathing in the monologues that weren’t quite her but, oh my goodness, were they her voice. That voice. I suppose growing up in the South that is the voice I wanted. I heard it on a gymnast from Selma that was competing in my session when I was in the sixth grade. She pretty like an American girl doll, with curls at the end of her mahogany hair, and I caught it like an eavesdrop from a BBQ picnic where the south didn’t win the war. This was not a failure. The only person I had ever heard pronounce the language with such romance was my second grade teacher. She was my favorite thing. She used that cadence with properness and propriety whether reading a word problem in Mathematics or teaching the class the Auburn fight song.

I imagine many people would’ve known her steps in a town that is the livelihood of less than 500. And what flowers would I be holding to set respectfully on her grave? Camellias, blush roses, or a handful of wild violets? In my expectation, he would be there. That southern gentlemen, not really born southern at all. The one she loved. The one that loved her. That handsome man you can’t glance at without seeing Mark Twain. I would excuse myself, explaining that I really had no place there. A trip from Nashville to Carroll County takes no place over family, the love of your life. Not on Memorial Day. I would step back silently, giving privacy as I would be a stranger on a site that doesn’t exactly house a guestbook.

Yet, if he passed me in leaving and stopped to say hello. I would thank him. Because I never got to meet her when all that life sang from her bones, from her spirit, from her being. Explaining that though my roots were in the South I’d not quite embraced them as much as I’d craved my New England wings. But if there was anyone that made me proud to be southern, to be Christian, and a strong woman that I’d seen growing up on a screen in my blue and white house on a circle that stood next to my family tree … Well, Mr. Holbrook, it was all the class and beauty that was your wife. Though I didn’t get to meet her when she was alive. I wanted to pay respect to her memory in the place that had made her. A portrait painted on a veranda that had stepped off a canvas and blazed a trail.

I guess she’s more at home now than she’s ever been. I imagine she’s singing, one of the loudest angels in Heaven. And if ever a spirit praised God while holding a handkerchief, knowing she would be overwhelmed by such a presence. It must be her. There, she would be gracefully wiping at her eyes and laughing.

dixieandhal

I Had To Let Go Of The Sinner’s Prayer

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index *** Please know before reading this, this post is an account of what I am learning. I am a sojourner and a processor and a child of God that is constantly learning and hopefully constantly growing. I would never want anyone to stumble. Please never take someone at face value without checking them against the God’s Word and if questions arise please go to someone much more knowledgeable than me. This is for those who have ever been tormented by doubts, overanalyzing, or questions. I am learning and processing — I never have it all figured out. ***

“Have you given your life to Christ?”

“Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?”

“Have you been saved?”

“Be not afraid, only believe.”

Many months ago, I asked God to show me how to love Him more than anyone has love Him before. Things got scary. I was living in a lot of fear that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I thought I was freed from walking in that kind of fearfulness. I was prayed over in our church growth group. My fears finally lifted. Less than a week later, my cousin died.

In a new way, the reality of my own mortality and the fragility of life hit like never before. In a way that I felt like I had not purposely welcomed, I began to question and doubt. The fears of not being a Christian and doubting tormented me daily. Even when God gave me an answer, reassurance through His word, or peace … even if I talked it out with someone and felt content. The thoughts came back every day.

Does God torment us? No. Does God seek to confuse us? No. In fact, God commands us to, “Fear not” … “Be strong and courageous.” Can God use what Satan meant to keep me feeling distant and separated from God in a lesson in maturing my faith, what a genuine relationship with Him looks like, and what salvation looks like over a lifetime? Yes! He’s God and He loves me more than I can imagine. (You too, by the way.)

Lesson one for me – stop thinking about what “you did,” “can do,” or “didn’t do good enough.” bd0599fe6fd7bd6bc74aef056753f835Ask yourself, “What did He do?” In most instances, I find, it hasn’t been often that I’ve doubted eternity, God’s realness, or Jesus (I fear that I do or that I will at times but that’s my head and not my spirit. It’s easy for me to worry that I’m going to worry or fear that I’m going to fear.) Most of my doubts are directed at me, “Did I pray a prayer just right?” “Do I believe enough?” “What if I question too much?” “People who know Christ seem to glow and be psyched a lot more than I am in this season of my life … Do I have a real relationship with Christ?”

Okay, let’s admit a few things. If you, as a human being, are being tormented by something or get incredibly worried about something until it barely leaves your head, obviously it’s important to you. If you are tormented, that you “might not,” obviously you love … As humans, it seems we don’t spend a lot of time fearing, worrying, or turning ourselves in and out over something that we don’t love, value, or isn’t important to us. If I am freaked out that I will be separated from Jesus when I die … doesn’t that express some kind of love for Him. A relationship? Are worry and fear always the healthiest reactions? No. Probably not. Can they draw us nearer to God? If we allow ourselves to let go. We doubt ourselves, don’t we? A lot of times, it isn’t that we doubt God, but our own abilities. Is it pride? Is it control? (I’ll come back to this.) Is it that we don’t grasp the concept of free? So I propose, instead of asking, “did I,” maybe in times of fear, doubt, or even spiritual attack we choose to ask different questions.

What did He do? Jesus died for my sins and reconciled me to God, so that I could have a relationship with God and NO SEPARATION from Him. Not ever! He defeated death so I could be unshackled from it! He bled so I didn’t have to! He rose again! He asked God to grant us oneness with Him just as He had oneness with the Father! He broke the veil! He blessed His disciples as He ascended into heave and greeted them by saying, “Peace be with you.” He promised that if He left He would prepare a place for me and that He would come back for me … He would! He came as God and man so that He could experience what I would go through and know how to best intercede for me to the Father. He did! He did this freely! No strings attached. Jesus didn’t force us to come to Him and He was born and died knowing not everyone would. He was tormented and tortured. He was also in a desert once, feeling alone, and Satan came after Him. Jesus was anxious over the details of a decision He made for us. Might He understand fear we have over a decision we made for Him? Questions we have when we focus on our own abilities. Jesus was abandoned by God when we just FEEL like we are sometimes.

Jesus said to believe. Believing is how you accept. FREE gift. Free. When I ask all the “I” questions I’m asking did I do something good enough to get the free gift or did I do it too badly to have the relationship. BELIEVE. Jesus sustains our salvation. He sustains our belief. This is how much He loves me, us. It cannot be about me. Do I follow Him? Yes. Do I seek Him? Yes, to the best of my ability and sometimes in spite of my ability to multi-task and multi-focus. Do I need Him? More than anything. He asked me to believe. Be not afraid only believe. Many days I can’t do the first part. I need Christ.

I say all this in such complexity to let you know that what I am learning is the simplicity of what God is asking of me. To enter into covenant with Him, I must believe. “God so loved the world, that He sent His only son, that whomsoever, shall believe in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Over and over in His word, God asks us to believe. It comes down to something simple (not necessarily easy) and we have complicated it. I know I have at least.

I don’t know if preachers sometimes realize the plight of natural worriers or even those of us made with an obsessive brain that struggle not to ruminate on things most people can easily discern as irrational and let it casually slip in and out of the mind. I came into a relationship with Jesus as a little girl. I was close to 6. So, the question of can you remember every detail down to the date and time and did you just walk an aisle and fill out a card tormented me for a long time. I cried every time we went to church at home I cried and asked my Mom to re-pray the sinners’ prayer with me many a Sunday. I sobbed in the floor of my bedroom in middle school. I listened to people when I got older say they walked an aisle as a child because their friends were or because they thought that’s what you were supposed to do. Those statements scared me so much. I was in the balcony during a revival service at the church where I also went to kindergarten. I told my mom that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. She says that I prissed down the aisle way in front of her and told our pastor that I wanted Jesus to come into my heart. I did go into the hallway and pray with my kindergarten teacher. I felt something special inside of me. I believe it was the spirit of God but I never would have understood that as a little girl. I just remember being so excited to tell my dad when I got home and later asking my mom if she thought my grandpa would know if heaven. As the feeling, began to fade I became fearful and my mom took me to speak to my pastor. He asked me to tell the Mickey Mouse statue on his desk how you accept Jesus as your Savior. This was done to see if I understood what I had believed in and what it meant.

I grew up in the Bible Belt. Actually, in an amazing Southern Baptist church. However, to be honest prayers have been a stumbling block for me. Intelligence and too much “head thinking” have tormented me. It really wasn’t until I was going through a hard time in college and a mentor asked me if I really knew if I had a relationship with Christ that I said that I believed I did but I had always doubted and feared because of the questions associated with pastors and THE prayer. So, she said to me, pray with your own words. That day at the table I prayed a prayer to God with my own words. I told Him that I wasn’t good at life and that I wanted Him to take control. That I never wanted to be in control again. Then, at Sunday School I bore witness to recommitting my life to Christ. Three years ago, I was baptized again because I’d never been baptized since I began to understand my true worth in Christ. By that time, I had learned to not just believe in God but that He could and would do what He said, and was walking in freedom because of who He said I was through Christ. In all my clothes, I was baptized in a step of faith that I didn’t overthink. I haven’t doubted until sobbing since the day at the kitchen table. Well not until being faced with unexpected death and constant pain in a my head that is marked by an unidentified light objected presented to me in the form of an MRI.

I have felt empty. I have felt lost. I have felt fruitless. I have felt scared. I have questioned things. I have been told it’s normal. I have learned that salvation is a lifelong journey. I am learning. I will learn. Hopefully, I will always choose to grow, stretch, and strain into all God wants me to know about my relationship with Him. In this season, here is what I am learning –

I have had to let go of the prayer.  If this is the thing that has caused me to doubt and stumble, I have to let go and trust God. In the Bible, (and please I have not searched out every word and I am not a seminary graduate, I’m just being open to what God speaks to me) over and over Jesus says to believe. He doesn’t say, Believe and say this Sinner’s prayer exactly down to the letter that I say and repeat after me. When I was a little girl, did my relationship with Jesus start because of a prayer or the moment I believed. Believe in your heart and proclaim with your voice Jesus is Lord. Believe.

I have had to be open to learning what it means to truly accept something. I can believe but sometimes it’s hard for me to accept love without walls. I hope during this season of my life my walls are crumbling and as I listen even in the silence I am learning what it means to accept this gift He’s given me.

For me, it can’t be based on a question that has any “you” in it. If it’s about a prayer … that’s something I’ve done. I even questioned that with the believing, but I realized that if I can doubt (even if that’s normal at times), I need Jesus to sustain my belief. It is a completely free gift that came at a high cost covered in blood and love I can’t even fully grasp.

I believe that I have had a hard time with this a lot of my life because my natural response to fear or uncertainty or change is to control. As a human that has had to fight that natural instinct, it is easy to think safety and comfort come in that control. The truth is the freedom comes in letting go and God never promised comfort. Am I scared of something I have no control over? You bet. I must trust. I’m not perfect at trusting.

If Satan can get me to doubt my salvation there is nothing protecting my mind. In the Bible we learn that God has given us armor and that our helmet is the helmet of salvation. I have learned that if the enemy can keep me from putting on that helmet, there is nothing protecting my mind from attack.

Perfectionism will not work where being a believer is concerned because I could n ever be perfect enough to have a genuine relationship with God. I always think, “I want to get it right,” but He is the one that got it right. His grace is enough for me forever. Just as I am at this moment, God will be pleased with me because I am covered in Christ. This is true even if I never get anything, “just right.”

Trust that belief in the answer to all the questions that scare. Did you pray the prayer right? I heard a pastor recently say that even the enemy can let us continue to believe we’re saved so we die and are separated from God. What? As if there wasn’t enough to worry about. Now I must question whether God is giving my peace or if Satan is deceiving me into going to Hell? I heard a pastor I also think rocks ask, “Did you just have an emotional experience?” “Did you just make a decision?” It’s enough to drive you nutso. Jesus died for me. I will let go of the heavy. It’s always been unconditional love. We’ve complicated the gift he paid for and gave us for free. What do I know? I know I am called to believe. Also, when seeking to obey I can trust this simplicity (not easy just not as complicated as we make it) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

For me, peace and freedom will be in that simplicity. Because it is a miraculous simplicity that saved, forgave, and sustains. He engraved my name on the palms of His hands. Nothing can separate. Nothing can tear me from His hands. He is faithful 154764_10150333112960258_466833_nwhen I am not. Salvation is a lifelong journey. I’m a student floating in his love, overcoming the fear of no control to experience the free in freedom.

I must not rely on anything that has to do with self. May always take the me out of the questions. It is so much not about me, that I cannot even sustain my own belief. However, I will always be thankful for the questions. Because even in the silence, I can learn by being available to listen.

Don’t trust your feelings. Trust what God says about you in His word. His truth. Feelings always change. May I mature as I learn to trust even in the silence. May I know He is near when I feel empty or lost or confused.

* * * * *

Doubts have hurt my heart because although I wouldn’t be ashamed to say after all this time God has showed me that I was being disingenuous and needed to know Him in a real way, I wouldn’t be scared to do that publicly. My sadness always comes because doubting makes me feel that to say I am not His, means that all those beautiful, hard, important things He and I have experienced. That He didn’t bring me into His family as a little girl because He knew how much and how early I would need Him. The times I’ve felt Him hug me when I felt alone, the nights I held my hand in the position of half of a handhold so that He could hold my hand as I lay in my own blood all those nights scared to be alone, the victories, the falling where He’s picked me up, the humbling, the love, the worship that no one say but He and I … that it would mean saying those things aren’t mine to keep, that I have to say all that wasn’t real, when I know that it was. He has been so special to me … I can’t even stop the tears when thinking I might not be marked as His.

* * * * *

Listen. Listen. Listen.

I circled it over and over in the passage of the bible I was reading. I have been learning to listen for months now. I have been meaning to listen more. I have heard some. I am listening at times to silence and what feels empty. I am listening.

“I will follow you until my lasts breath. Then, I will see Your face.” – sticky note I wrote and stuck to my “green room” window.

*** Please note, I am not knocking prayer as it pertains to salvation. I am simply speaking to what I am learning at this time and what has caused me to personally stumble. I do believe prayer is a way to express belief. Once again, never listen to someone and believe them completely without checking it for yourself against God’s word. ***

Today Is The Day Someone I Love Died — A Prose Poem

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It is Friday. The achy Friday that everyone calls good. I am supposed to be meditating on the Via Delarosa. It is a day to reflect on the nails, the ruggedness of the cross, the fact that someone I love so much was unrecognizable from abuse, beatings, and words that were hurled at Him. I am supposed to think of the scene. The time I walked out of a church because they started playing The Passion of the Cross during a praise song. “Don’t they understand?” I should be able to choose when I see the death and the pain of someone I love. “Don’t they understand it isn’t just anyone?” This is not even the anniversary of His death and you want to show me His pain? I have never seen The Passion of the Christ, except when churches cut into it during a song. I’m not ready. Because I love Him. Do you understand? It wasn’t a good day that I want to see over and over. I don’t want sensationalism. I want Him. I want Him here. Just like anyone else that left too soon. Only, I’ve never seen Him face-to-face. Not in my lifetime. I’ve only felt His hands hold mine when I wore napkins glued to my side with my own blood and I was too scared to be in the dark alone. He is real. I lost someone I love in a gruesome way. Why would I want to see without choosing? He’s alive. Did you know? He’s put his hand to my side. Kissed the scars on my wrist. A few weeks ago while I prayed, He had his hand on my shoulder. This Friday, I am want to think of Thursday. My favorite day of the week. I will choose to not be afraid of questions or be alone in any anxiety or fear. It is Spring and He was in a garden. Bleeding out of His pores. He was afraid. He was questioning. He was wrestling with His mortality. This year I am connected to Thursday. Thursday on His face before God. I’ve been there. I’ve been there recently. I’ve been there more than once. Agony has walked near me this year and there were many times I failed to see my Savior before and behind. On Thursday, He was on the ground. He knew everything He would feel, all He would suffer, He looked for another way. He ripped flowers from the ground and cried over the grass that someday I will be buried under. Moments later that must have felt like eternity, He chose to step into Friday without even the help of a good nights sleep because he knew that someday this is where I would be. No one should face a Thursday like that alone. He knew.

*** I did not paint this painting. I don’t know who did but the copyright belongs to them. I am just blessed to have witnessed it.

It’s Not About Loving Life, It’s Who We Praise While In Cocoon

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I should probably be taking my migraine medicine and lying down to sleep. This has been my life lately. Go to bed with a really bad headache and then wake up with one. I’m tired of taking medicine that makes my belly hurt to fix a pain in my head that never heals.

This afternoon I had a case of the “mean reds” (if you don’t understand this reference, please go watch “Breakfast At Tiffany’s) and I was too close to Facebook. This is a problem. I’m so sick of Facebook in my life but being chronically ill the past year, it’s easy access to company and sometimes just a distraction.

I’ve been having bad pressure and pain in my head every day for four months. In November an MRI showed a lesion on my brain. At the time, the doctor told us it looked like Multiple Sclerosis or a low-grade tumor. The radiologist thought it could possibly be scar tissue. I haven’t talked about it much on social media or my blog. I mean yes, I’ve “vague-booked” about the headaches but not about MS. I had a lot of peace after the first test. Whatever it was, I knew I would face it with God and He would be glorified through the story. Heath was amazingly supported and beautiful. I had two more MRI’s – one of my brain with contrast and one of my cervical spine as well as a lumbar puncture. They did not find the MS marker but an elevated protein that they also look for in MS and the lesion lit up a little so the doctor didn’t think it was scar tissue. MS doesn’t have a “yes or no” test, so I am middle grade “probable” and in six months they look to see if there is another lesion. We are hoping and praying for healing. We want this to be nothing. The doctor doesn’t treat with MS medicine until they find two lesions or the marker. So we wait. And in the mean time there are headaches that are not believed to be caused by the tumor. Every day — migraines and tension headaches together. It’s not my best thing. Some weeks I’m positive and pushing away the pain and trying to dance or learn violin. Then, there are weeks when I struggle through work and come home and take medicine or put an icepack on my head.

Being sick isn’t fun, but this week I am especially grateful for my life. To be sick and in pain is to remember I am breathing. For whatever reason, I still have a purpose. Although, often times, going to work and coming home to lay in bed doesn’t feel purposeful. Tonight, I would rather be loving on my homeless friends under the bridge or watching “Pitch Perfect” with my BFF in Birmingham. The medicine I suppose I needed was these clacking keys and a blank screen.

I guess I should explain why I wrote what I did on Facebook. Remember the “mean reds” and the closeness to social media? It went something like this, “Sometimes you grow up and are disappointed with who you’ve become.” Do you ever just write things that you cry while you’re writing them because you know they aren’t true. The enemy likes to use my words to hurt me because God loves me through words, I think. All the truth inside of me was screaming of how hard God and I worked (well, mostly Him but me too) so that I could learn to love myself how He loves me. Remember all that was overcome? Remember how much you love that lady on the street that draws paradise and is your consistency every day? Remember how you heartbreaks for those you love? Remember that you’re human? Remember loss, change, sickness, danger, death, fear … remember all the things that have been coming at me. I’m not claiming the pain of others right now who I love deeply and who are hurting much further down than I am. It’s only that – “just keep swimming” isn’t always the best motto. Because eventually you get exhausted, you body fails you, your muscles cramp, your eyes “rain” too often, and you exhaust those you love most.

I guess what I meant by the statement is that I miss being that lady that could make everyone laugh, encouraged everyone, looked for the beauty and positivity in all, and had the passion and projects and adventure. I’m a newlywed, did you know? We’re hurting as we grow together. It’s been two years of spiritual opposition since we came together to do more than we could ever do for God apart. It’s heavy. We saw the bullet holes that went through our first house and we lived in fear for awhile. Today I realized that the day my cousin died was the same exact day last year I watched a work friend collapse and go into cardiac arrest right before my eyes. Fears continued to grow as existing blood pressure problems in my own life were exasperated and my health continued to nose dive. It isn’t why I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed because I decided that when I got my life back, after that time I should have lost. I said I’d never be apathetic about God again. I know what it’s like to almost lose my life, so life is too short not to live to the full.

I’ve let myself down. I’ve felt that I’ve let God down at times. I’ve felt disappointed that I’ve felt isolated, too fearful, and unhappy. I felt sad that I’m not happy to do all the things I want to do with Heath – to cook, clean, giggle, and be there for him like I want to . I have my days and we have beautiful times … I just don’t love how things are in my life right now. I suppose it’s where God wants me to be, for those who love their life will lose it. It’s a struggle. Today, I hope my weakness will boast of Him because I love Him and because I won’t give up sharing this story. It doesn’t matter the pain in the head or the MRI results. He is faithful. And struggling helps burst from the cocoon.

I’m still growing. I’m still breathing. Today that is enough.

The Last Goodbye’s the Hardest One to Say — George Strait

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I’ve been thinking about Lazarus a lot lately. When Jesus’ close friend passed away they said, “Rabbi, the one you love has died.” And he waited. He’s sleeping is what Jesus told his disciples and by the time Jesus went to him, he’d been “sleeping” for four days. His family was grieving but they were faithful. They were hurting. Yet, Jesus even knowing what he was about to do for the benefit of those around Him to know His father, still wept. You learn when you’re little that it’s the shortest verse in the bible. Jesus wept. I’ve heard that Jesus was weeping for His friend. It shows that He knows how to comfort us in times of great loss and that He was human and God. Some people believe He was hurting because how much he loved that family and he was feeling their hurt. It hurt Him that they were hurting. Lazarus, after commanded by Jesus, later stepped out of the tomb and was told to remove his grave clothes.

cousinsThis week someone came to tell my cousin Jeanna, “The one you love has died.” While I often think about what Lazarus was like after he was given back his life — Did he learn about true Grace? How was his relationship with his friend different after that? After years, did he sometimes get down in the dumps still? How did he feel when he lost a loved one who remained “asleep?” — the Bible doesn’t tell us. The Bible does tell us that Jesus prays for us. So, we can know two things when Darin went to be with Jesus and peeled off the flesh of this world, Jesus wept. Don’t you think? Don’t you believe that he looked down at a beautiful family, a loving partnership He’d built, a beautiful teenage girl that is striving to find her way and love herself as Jesus does, a little boy that loves hockey and baseball and wrestling, two babies who bring joy and surprises everyday. And he wept. He wept as He prayed for them. I believe He did. I believe He knew what had to happen for his plan to be accomplished but he hurt from what he would have to do to the others he loved that would be left behind. The other thing we can know is that he is praying for them in ways that we cannot fathom. Heaven is all around us in a realm we can’t yet see. There is Jesus praying and weeping for those he loves. While there are still big miracles going on around us this week and just throughout life, it isn’t often we physically see a man rise from the dead.

However, we do see the spirit in men come back alive, break through strongholds, breathe again. It’s a bit different in the modern world. The person we love dies and if we are humble, vulnerable and trusting we are the ones who take off the things we’ve been wrapped in. In Darin’s case we’ve been hearing gorgeous stories of how he touched so many lives and his family has been loved on by people they don’t even know, so in many ways if we’re open to it, a person dies and we live. We struggle. We hurt. But our lives change by remembering who they are and the difference they made. That life is short and we’re meant to be blessing and loving on others. We learn what is important in life. We learn to forgive more. Look longer at those we love. We learn it isn’t about what we want but what God needs to do through us.

In our family, we have been given a great example of a servant’s heart, a hard worker, someone who cared deeply for family and friends, someone who laughed a lot, and gave great hugs, and would do anything he could do to help out. We have the ability to raise from his sleep. Pick up his cause. Love more deeply. We want him here. God knows that. The more you miss someone, the more you know how much they meant to you. He’s in the spiritual realm now and he’s just a breath away — so close. Just like our prayers don’t have to go a huge distance to get to God because He’s in our hearts. So we know Darin is around us as He worships His savior and carries on the call on his life in a new way.

He taught us a lot. Like no matter how rough life starts out, no matter the hand you were dealt, God is still good. I saw him grow in the 13 years I knew him (in fact, Jeanna and Darin’s first date was on my birthday when I was twenty). I am so thankful to have had a strong, Christian man in our family. Not that he was always preaching to us or quoting us scripture. He was walking a life that treated others as Jesus would have. He was still growing and I know that he loved his family deeply. And though we don’t know all the details about heaven maybe, just maybe, he can help them more from where he is.

darinmebritDarin played an important role in my life. When he and Jeanna met I was in a big struggle with darkness and he and Jeanna invited me to their young married Sunday School Class. I went. Even when I couldn’t talk much or had to cling to them.Even when they would ask me to go to the farm or outings with the class and I was barely hanging in there — I went. And when Darin’s grandmother passed away we went to the funeral. Our Sunday School teachers were there and the wife asked me to sit with her. I spilled out what was going on. The doctor’s had all but given up, the medicine wasn’t helping. I knew that I would not make it or would have to choose to live. I was finding comfort in all that hurt me — most of those things sharp. God used her in my life to help me learn about true Freedom, who I was in Him, and that I was an overcomer. It wasn’t easy but I learned to love myself how God loved me and I overcame something most people are not able to come out of. It’s specific and important how God uses people in your life. Sometimes you don’t realize until much later. But if it hadn’t have been during that day of loss to support Darin, I may not have had that conversation with my Sunday School teacher. I could write pages about awesome things about Darin and things he struggled with that help us see we’re not alone.

I will say I am thankful for him. Everyday since the accident I hoped he’d walk in with diaper bags or casserole dishes bringing something in for a family get together. So far it’s just been hope … I really enjoyed having someone to be funny with at family get togethers, I loved his hugs, and “how when I stuck my finger up his nose to aggravate him he’d just let it sit there and then say, “Get up there! Get you a good one.” I am thankful for the bonfire I knew he would make for my birthday party when no one else would. I loved that I got to call him many years ago on Christmas and say we’re going to the George Strait concert. This week the one we loved rode away and we never saw him again.

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Darin, I’d like to thank you for loving us. For being strong and loving us unconditionally …. You didn’t just come as a boyfriend or then a “in-law.” You became our cousin. Jeanna’s husband. A nephew. A son. A fabulous daddy. I’m so thankful to have had the honor the last few days to make your baby boy laugh, to give him a bath and when he looked up at me all I could see was you in his sweet face. I am thankful that I got to be with Hadley when I don’t get to be with her that much anymore. I’m glad I got to snuggle Toxey when I know he’d rather be playing ball with you. To put on Kasen’s clothes so he could go outside and be with the big boys. To hold my first best friend, your biggest love here on earth, without even saying words.

While, I know you aren’t going to come through that door anymore, I will still listen for your voice and please know, that Heath and I are learning how to grow our marriage in important ways because of what we are experiencing and the teamwork we saw as you guys worked together to raise your beautiful kids. Also, I’ll keep being inappropriate and laughable at all family functions, you know, double time to make you laugh. God was so gracious in letting you answer the phone when we called on Hadley’s Birthday recently. I don’t remember if I said I love when you passed the phone to her, but I do. In fact, I just wish I’d told you how much I’ve gotten back into George Strait. Thank you for the date. We wish you weren’t riding away.

2/16/15

My cousin lost her husband, the love of her life, in a tragic accident the day before Valentine’s. A fund has been set up for the family including her four children for continues costs such as childcare, college funds (the oldest kiddo is in high school), and other needs. If you feel led to donate, please give here.

You’re Not Supposed To Talk About “These” Things

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I’ll trust Him when I bleed and I’ll trust Him when I don’t. I hope both will be genuine.

God has beenheartbeat taking me through a season of learning to trust Him. (In some areas probably the first time, others — more, still others – again) I don’t know that I’ve quite gotten it fully yet, but let me assure you, He’s still got me in the season. So, there’s time. In moments, I trust really well until I get disappointed. Sometimes, I trust in my spirit and then my brain gets involved.

Trust is a weird thing. I think I’m trusting and then my actions show that I’m not. I think I’m trusting and then I get a panic attack. I think I’m trusting and in the back of my consciousness I’m still seeking to control, and while it seems to be going okay, I seem to be really much better at trusting.

Most of the time, I guess it’s just a struggle to get mind, spirit, and flesh to mesh. Trust is less about learning to, than letting go to which can be scary. Things coming in from the internet, past experiences, familial foundations, TV shows, magazines, other people … Things come in to sidetrack me. I’m much better at grabbing on to a tangible person than to God at times, though I’ve gotten much better than I used to be.

Then what about when we’re supposed to trust each other? I wondered aloud this question in connection to my fellow women – kind. Why do we keep womanly things quiet or in the dark? Do we not trust each other enough? Or, have we been taught too long that it’s just not “appropriate” to talk about “those” things.

My new exercise in trusting God involves wishing I had more of your stories to trust as well. I can only start by sharing my own story.

Why don’t women talk more about what it’s really like trying to have a baby? I asked a coworker why I swallowed emotion that bubbled in my throat.

Why do people want to have children? I asked my husband while driving to a poetry reading last night. Although, I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

By no means am I claiming to have had trouble getting pregnant. I haven’t really gotten into the trying. However, I’m going to be honest. There are so many details I never learned before I even got to that step. Because, I’ve not heard women talk about these things, it could just be the way by special brain is wired. And if so, enjoy this little bout of “eccentric.”

Why don’t we talk to each other about the fact that sometimes people get married and they just start getting disappointed when they see their period come on the exact day it’s supposed to? Have you? I have. We were still using condoms. We weren’t trying to have a baby. At times, it might not have even been when I was most fertile. However, every month a little part of my spirit would frown. It’s like Christmas and then suddenly with one wipe of the toilet tissue – BOOM! It’s the day after, only you had to return your favorite gift without a receipt. It makes no sense to be sad about something you weren’t even planning to have AND sometimes it feels like it would just be better if it was a surprise. If it was an unplanned thing, it means it can “stay.” Like, maybe you weren’t ready yet but if God brought a baby, He’ll take you on this great adventure that will have ups and downs and hardships and joys and He will grow you and teach you and leap you. I love things like that with God. Hang onto that thought …

Why don’t we talk to each other about waiting? Hello! Did anyone ever tell you the before? You know, the before the plus sign, two lines, or digital read out “You’re imagespregnant.” If you’re like me, I think the movies engraved in me what having a baby is like. You make love with your husband and intimacy grows and sure, it feels good. Cut to ten minutes later … there’ s a positive pregnancy test, hijinks ensue, the woman thinks of a sweet way to surprise the husband, and 15 minutes after that the baby comes and they name it, and the kid might even be grown by the end of the two hour movie. Are you good at waiting? I have never been. As a youngest kiddo, it wasn’t in my vocabulary a lot. As a bit of a control freak, I learned to protect myself and get what I needed. Do you know what takes a lot of waiting that no one ever told me about? Babies!

So, it’s not like Look Who’s Talking exactly. Sure, the sperm “swimmies” up and finds the egg – maybe. I learned recently about the WHOLE process. Your husband’s stuff gets in you (sometimes, sometimes it comes right back out). The sperm has to find your egg in the fallopian tube, fertilize, then the fertilized egg has to come down the fallopian tube, and implant in your uterus, (Get this!) stay there, and then you may (50 percent of these fertilized eggs don’t stay before you even know you’re pregnant) have a baby growing. BUT, you have to have the love during certain short window for any of this to take place at all. Also, it isn’t just that you miss your period and can do a test … sometimes you can have a light period and still be pregnant … sometimes you have implantation blood … sometimes – sometimes not. You wait two weeks from when you had the love at the good time for the egg to drop down and meet the sperm and then you wait. If you conceive, you wait three months to see if it sticks and then you really wait until birth. I’m not a good waiter. This is a huge exercise in trusting God. Who knew it was so complex? Why don’t we talk to each other about the waiting? During the waiting? To pass time … Also, does it make sense that the same symptoms that mean you’re pregnant also mirror your period symptoms?

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We trust God’s timing. I trust like this sometimes. (Proceed carefully, I’m going to talk about things we aren’t “supposed” to talk about) God, I thank you either way. I’ll be happy if I’m not because there’s a lot going on, because I can lose weight, because I can work on my health, and if I am I’ll be super happy, thankful. Either way I’m going to need You. Then, I swipe carefully on the day my period is meant to come. I sometimes don’t even want to go to the bathroom because there might be red. Then there is pink. I’m disappointed. I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve taken the vitamins, folic acid, I’ve approached things in a relaxed, intimate, spiritual way, and I’ve prayed and willed my body every day for two weeks. So the bummedness comes. At times, some tears. The thinking process and physical process is not something your husband will ever understand so you feel frustrated that you can’t make him understand. Then, you think, well it was just like pink and not on the pad yet or enough for tampon. I could be pregnant. This could be implantation. So, you hang onto hope for a few more days. You’re nauseous. Your boobs ache. You get excited/concerned every time you have to pee. Relief overcomes when there’s still only light pink, when there are no blood clots or tissue or anything that means an embryo couldn’t survive in your falling apart uterus that you hoped would stay together. You sit longer on the potty in the mornings so you don’t have to see just yet. I personally, have done EPT tests before they are even going to pick anything up.

Here’s a fun conversation we have. Me to Heath: You should probably pick up more than one test when you go because inevitably I’m going to take one early. Or this, It is four days before my late period, it said 53 percent accurate. Heath: 50 percent. That’s like me sitting here and saying you aren’t pregnant well you might be …

It is humorous. It is also a super special time that grows you as a person and in intimacy with God and your husband. But it isn’t quick even if you are healthy and can conceive normally and it definitely isn’t like the movies.

It’s bloody. It’s examining. Is this discharge with blood or actual blood vessels on the toilet paper? Did I fill a whole pad b/c implantation blood is less than a pad? Is that an actual line on this test or did someone scratch the plexi-plastic stuff when they were making that window?

ELSIA-Home Pregnancy Test

Let’s be raw and yucky and real. Because it’s lonely when there’s no book or movie or person that’s going to not be embarrassed enough to tell you this. Raise your hand if you’ve googled, “Can I have a period and still be pregnant?” Whisper a “heck yeah” if you’ve cried when your period came and you weren’t even trying to have a baby? Have you ever wondered why teenage pregnancy seems so easy, you know when it isn’t “supposed” to happen, and yet, when you actually try it doesn’t usually happen on the first try? I know it seems crass and has its own set of problems but somewhere in the back of your head you’ve wondered why a 15 year old can get pregnant make in the moment decisions with their boyfriend but you can’t get all the many variables to come together to be able to surprise your loved ones and have a reveal party?

I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles on Facebook recently about babies passing away, mom’s dying so their babies could live as newborns, miscarriages … (First, it makes me wonder why I still look at Facebook) Second, the heartache seems so great in even trying. If I get so heartbroken over my period arriving or a test not doing what it’s meant to … I can’t even fathom. And, these are good people, close to God people who have lost sweet babies.

Why do people want to try this at all? Why don’t women talk about it? Why am I always having to learn to trust?

God’s been teaching me to trust Him this season. He’s been teaching me to trust. This is what I am learning.

“Behold children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

PS. 127:3

 

*** My husband is the most loving, listening, sympathetic beautiful person in regards to me and the world in general. Just in case this at any point sounds like he personally doesn’t understand. It’s more of a subject only women can understand. I am so blessed to have him. ***

I Took A Rabbit Hole To New England – ish, Just As Perfect This October Night

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I’m snuggled up in my cardinal covered bed in the blue room with glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, my brain swaying as if it’s out to sea while I try to keep my eyeballs from drowning. I am hoping I still get to read more of Lena Dunham’s delicious new book. I am finally falling full force in love with 2014 Autumn deep in my spirit.

Today while riding home from work with husband, driving past the most vividly colored trees I’d seen on parade all season in the Madison cemetery, I realized that I’d had hardly anything fall flavored. No pumpkin cappuccino. No pumpkin pie. No pumpkin bar. No pecan pie. No apple pie. Well, no pie. I’d had cheesecake which looks like pie. I’d watched Sweeney Todd which features people pies. Husband asked if I’d liked to stop at the conveniently located Sonic across from our neighborhood and see what they had to offer. I am not meant to have sugar. (My immune system isn’t winning any heavyweight champion of the world titles let’s just say) It’s just that once someone mentions something . . . Well, not having that thing only leaves disappointment. In this case, a disappointed belly.

So, we pointed out one beautiful tree after another and pulled into the parking area of Sonic. Here is the fast food restaurant that boasts a five thousand thirty million different flavors and we couldn’t even find a park spot with a list of the various milkshakes they offer. We moved to our second park spot and husband hit the red button, “Do you have pump–”

“No, we don’t.” Click.

“Apparently, she’s been asked that before.” Husband observed.

“Thanks for being a butthole.” I said in our closed window car as we drove away. “We are going to Dairy Queen.” And while I felt a bit like those people who come into Hobby Lobby (like when I worked there) and when they can’t find what they need ask you, “Do they have this or that at Michael’s or Walmart?” Have I ever worked at Walmart? I have not recently memorized what they have.

So, we drove to where we knew had a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard. Two pumpkin pie Blizzards and a small fries ordered, we drove to the window. “We had extra fries so I gave you a large,” said the man. This tickled my funny bone and is by far my favorite sentence of the day.

Then we drove around the neighborhood eating our lackluster but charming blizzards that really just had hunks of pie crust and a smear of pumpkin filling on the top and a whole lot of somewhat pumpkin but wholly vanilla flavored ice cream. Want to fall in love with your neighborhood? Drive around … Well, I’ve never been to your neighborhood. Could be creep-a-licious. We drove around and picked out our favorite trees and looked at Halloween decorations. It was my best Thursday evening in a long time. I’d prayed for it to fill Fall in my spirit this morning and here was a surprise Fall activity with just a chill in the air.

I rode in the little silver car I call Pepper Potts and ate, felt some special love for my husband, and fell in love with the season and a neighborhood I’ve not really explored. I discovered a few blocks away closer to the lake we have a neighborhood of houses that look just like a small town in New England. What a time to discover that when the leaves are vivid and filling the lawns? Decorations were everywhere. As always, I get to remember the gift that we live walking distance to a big, beautiful lake outlined with colorful trees.

It’s not the painting that you picture when you’re stuck in your head, but the one that’s real, that you finally see — the one that matters. Discovering is important and I think comes at just the right time.

I’m snuggled. Full on sugar and pumpkin flavor. Feeling thankful. Yep, that’s Autumn.

“Cans” in the Silence (Seasons Part 2)

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Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding RoadSo this is a follow up to the blog I wrote earlier about seasons we go through that we can’t see around, over, through, or quite understand. While I’m flipping my mind over from looking at what I can’t change or what has happened that makes me sad or who I want to be but am not quite yet, I am doing some things that I can do that are positive. I’m also making goals to do more as I progress. I thought I would share some of these these “cans.”

1. Choose to speak and think more positively. Removing the words stress, worry, and fear out of my vocabulary. Not because it’s not okay to feal but because I want to choose more positive words and not reuminate. Also, I don’t want to label something a stress or worry that might be a blessing.

2. Keep a list of things I’m a appreciative of, grateful for, or that are positive on a daily basis. (I find this helpful whenever I find I’m concentrating too much on myself or have gotten in a bad/weird place) Journal about one of those positive things.

3. Rest when I need to rest. Seek true rest. I want to learn to rest not just physically but in Christ. Sabbath. Learn to practice a true Sabbath.

4. If I liked more who I was a few years ago, begin to relearn the things I was practicing then or unlearn the things that have stopped up my joy and free spiritedness. De-layer with the wisdom I’ve gained. Keep what I love and let go of what I don’t need.

5. Write more. Even if it’s hard. Even if I resist like crazy. Even if just a few sentences a day. Not only has it always been super healthy and what I believe is one of my life callings. I believe I meet with God in the gifts He’s given me.

6. Sit by the lake more. Why praise God for finding us a house near the lake if I never go be still near it?

7. Reduce the use of electornics and social media in my life. Why? It exhausts me. It’s something I’ve learned recently or remembered. I’m a bit of an introvert that knows how to skillfully function socially when needed. Too much info from any source can be heavy. Also, they’re are two points I wanted to make about social media that I wanted to make in length but I believe I can express succinctly.

*** When you are going through a difficult season or even a season of illness Facebook can be a deterant to finding joy where you are (I believe this can be true for anytime actually). Most of us are addicted to social media. Two things can happen if you’re fatigued and sick for a long period of time the only thing exciting may be scrolling through a FB feed or you can be laying there feeling sick and your brain wants to go and do and you look at a social media site and see people with makeup and cute clothes having fun and having the energy to go and do things. No, it isn’t good to compare yourself to others, but if you’re seeking to practice this idea in your life — FB is giving you know benefit in reaching such a goal. Yes, you’re happy for your friends, family, and people you slightly know but have for some reason befriended but let’s not lie. You’re struggling to have a baby or het well enough to have a healthy pregnancy and everyone on facebook is posting baby announcements. You wish you were at the beach. Everyone is posting photos from the beach. Once again, it isn’t that you’re a grinch, it is just a bit more healthy at certain times in your life not to rub your nose in something while you’re trying to overcome. So, I’m taking a break from FB for many reasons (not saying that FB isn’t good for keeping intouch with far away friends or with writing events). I’m not saying quit every social media site you’re involved with but reducing one or two and investing in quality time with friends, yourself, or a book could bring more love your way. Gossip. I’ve tried for quite awhile to be less of a gossiper. It is easier to do this when faced with the obvious avenues that gossip takes a trip on. FB instigates much gossip and is gossip in many ways. Do we pick up the phone or go out and spend time with the people we’re friends with on FB or do we scroll through their photos and read up on what they’re doing? Gossip disguised as interest. What are our motives? The other thing for me is following so much and reading up on all the celebrity sites. Over a year ago, I realized I was spending too much time on Perezhilton.com. Personally, for me, I felt like that was gossip. I will seek to illiminate some of the other sites that are purely for feeding my brain when I’m bored or having a “life” when I feel like my life is lacking. It’s gossip. Not succinct but there you go, a mini blog inside a bigger blog. :)

8. Take more prayer walks or walks where I can listen to music. At least, once a week make this walk take place in the woods.

9. Listen to positive music. My husband and I started back in the Spring keeping the radio on Christian music and worship music playing in the house. I’m not saying that’s what everyone needs but it helped me. Even if it’s not on the Christian station I’d like to stick to positive music.

10. Accept myself where I am.

11. Celebrate the little things. If I could go to the grocery store this weekend with Heath when I haven’t been able to in a month. Er, er! I’m going to celebrate that even if it doesn’t make since to anyone else. Include God on even your smallest celebration.

12. Continue to eat well and exercise. Do the best I can to help my health improve.

13. Be kinder to my husband, learn to love him more, and to find more ways to encourage and surprise him to brighten his day.

14. Bless others. Bless others. Bless others. From simple to big — anything! Bless others.

15. Reach out more even if it’s just to sit and drink tea with someone or send a card or Skype or write an email.

16. Spend more time with God. Look for God in everywhere. Listen to sermons. Paint. Write. Hear Him in the song of a bird or find Him in the crispness of the first days of Fall.

17. Get on my face before God every morning and night. I like to bow at His throne and just be quiet for a few seconds.

18. Thank myself and apologize to myself.

19. Do things to get out of my head.

20. Read things that inspire me. Right now I am amazed by another book that I’ve had but picked up when I really needed it. It’s called, Walking on Water and is a book on the life of an artist from the Christian perspective. It is why I am going to start listening to the silence and relearning the things my younger self knew.

21. Rest. (I need that one more than once.)

If any of these are encouraging to you, I’m so glad. I will keep seeking to put them into action in my life and to add more to the list.

Remember you are loved by God 100 percent whether you every move, change, or grow. You just you, as you are this moment, He’ll never love you more or less. Be kind to yourself. Seek to accept His love and love yourself like He loves you.

And she said, ‘kindness is magic, Derek. It’s more important to be kind than clever or good-looking.’ I’m not clever or good-looking, but I’m kind.”

— Derek, Netflix TV Series

(PS If you haven’t seen this show. Watch it every day!)

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