Friday, October 13, 2017

Beautiful One, You Can Do Hard Things

Beautiful girl you can do hard things.  I recently saw a bracelet for sale online that had those words on it. Of course, I loved it.  I didn't buy it because I wanted to buy one for not just me but for my girls as well.  Then I started thinking that perhaps a bracelet wouldn't work because my oldest doesn't wear a lot of jewelry.  A necklace maybe would be good.  A placard really might be needed.  A sign to wear around that we could look down and see....a t-shirt might be good.  The number of times I say or I hear my daughters say that something is too hard is immeasurable.  We could really use a reminder that we can do hard things and even if we can't do it alone we can do it because God is with us.

Writing is too hard.  I can't do it.  I don't know what to say and it doesn't matter because no one will notice if I don't write anyway.  Physical therapy is too hard.  I feel terrible the entire next day afterward anyway and my arm and fingers are still going numb anyway.  I'm not smart enough to figure out how to do half of the things my job (that I only mildly hate now) entails. I'm not qualified to get another job.  I can never seem to keep the weight off, it's too hard.  I never say the right thing to the kids.  I'm a terrible parent.  Why does my husband stay with me?  Dreams don't come true for girls like me.  I can't have the job I want because no newspaper, magazine, or website will look at my work because I lack a bachelor degree and I'm internet illiterate.  I have thirty five followers and I'm pretty sure to get noticed you need in the neighborhood of thirty five million. This class is too hard, I will never figure this stuff out.  This piano piece is too difficult for me to play.  I can't play anything but classical, jazz is too hard.  I can't make friends, no one likes me.  I'm too weird.  I can't decide what to major in because I'm too worried about disappointing you.  I can't do this assignment.  This workout is too hard.  I'm not pretty enough.

It's a constant stream.  Do you have this?  Do you get the constant stream of things that you can't do and you're not good enough or smart enough for from your inner voice as well as those voices around you.  Do your kids say these things and you try to figure out how on earth they came to become this way when you have told them their entire lives how beautiful, smart, creative, talented, kind, and wonderful they are?  Am I the only one who has messed this up?  Do you try and figure it all out and then realize you say those things and think those things about yourself?  Are you nice to yourself?  If so, can you teach me?

My kids are all beautiful, smart, witty, kind, and compassionate human beings who I am certain God has big plans for.  They are far from perfect.  They are just as flawed as any other human walking on planet earth but they are also full of just as much potential as any of them too.  I have tried to raise them to help them to be aware of who they are and yet humble at the same time.  I have failed.  I didn't want them to be full of themselves and snobbish and what I created were daughters who are just like me.  We are a fine trio.  Three girls of God who were born to stand out but so afraid of making a mistake we tamp down every dream, every idea, every thought of something great in fear of being mistaken for something we are not.  Three girls who really aren't sure who we are.  Three girls full of potential but too scared of what that means.  Anyone?  Are you there too?

Greatness is for other people.  Is that you?  Let me tell you a secret that this world will never tell you.  Oh you can read it on jewelry and t-shirts and maybe hear it from your mom (who my kids say are required to tell you nice things because of being your mom) beautiful child of God YOU can do hard things.  Yes YOU!  Yes my girls and even me.  We can do hard things.

I try to tell myself nice things.  I do self affirmations.  I have found that of all the things that I have to offer I like my feet.  I tell myself that I have beautiful feet.  It might sound crazy to you, it kind of is really.  I mean how beautiful can feet really be?  But when you fight a constant stream day in and day out sometimes you need to find the one thing that you can like about yourself.  For me, it's my feet because even when my weight fluctuates my shoes fit.  I can still wear cute shoes.  Even when I hurt because of arthritis that I think I'm too young for, my feet are spectacular.  When I feel as though I have messed up my kids and I am a terrible wife because I have ruined another dinner and all I have to offer is peanut butter, at least I have cute feet.  Is it enough?  Of course not.  Am I enough? No.  Will I ever be?  Likely not. That's what my inner voices tells me.

But my internal stream, and probably your internal stream at times as well, lies.  Our biggest problems are that we either don't know who we are, we forget who we are, and we don't know who we work for.  I keep telling my girls that they can do hard things.  I remind them of all they have accomplished so far.  I tell them they are daughters of the One True King.  I tell them that there is absolutely nothing they can do that will make me stop loving them.  I can't be disappointed because they are trying, they are out there giving it their all.  They can do hard things!  I am their biggest cheerleader.  In the line of people who love them I am right behind Jesus.  Jesus loves them more than any of us can possibly imagine or understand.  I have failed to show them how to live it out though.  I forget who I am.  I forget who I work for.  I forget I'm not alone.  I forget I too can do hard things. I second guess who I am.  Do I even know who that is?  What if I only think I know?  What if what I think is what God wants me to do really is only my own desires?

My oldest daughter is smart and witty.  She is quite possibly one of the funniest people you will ever meet if you are lucky enough to witness it.  When she smiles the sun shines brighter.  She is a brilliant writer and has a beautifully creative mind.  If anyone is meant to be in English or writing as a major it is her.  She is an accounting major and it is killing her spirit but she can do hard things to get to where she needs to be to come alive in her passion and purpose.

My middle daughter is smart and musical.  She plays four different instruments.  She was playing the piano last night and I was amazed.  She is her own worse critic.  She will play something so beautiful and I will be so impressed and when she is done she will say it was terrible.  It was terrible, she's terrible, and she can't do it but she can do hard things.  She has a love for music and bringing joy to others.

My son is smart and sarcastic and witty.  He is very much the most extroverted of the bunch.  He never met a stranger and he is a good friend always looking for a laugh.  He loved Jesus and reads everything about the Christian faith he can. He wants to lead people to Jesus...maybe one joke at a time.  I'm not sure what his future is going to entail but he also can do hard things.  He does hard things every week that wear him out.

Beautiful ones you can do hard things.  God knows the desires of your hearts.  He knows the things that bring you life.  He knows the ways you will serve the kingdom.  He knows you can do hard things because you won't be doing them alone.  You are never alone.  You are a child of the One True King who 'will never leave you nor forsake you'. (Deuteronomy 31:8) You are the child of the One who knows his plans for you, plans to prosper and not to hurt you plans to give you a hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)  'For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' (Ephesians 2:10). We can do all things through him who gives us strength. (Philippians 4:13) Beautiful ones we need to know who we are.  We need to remember who we belong to.  We need to remember who we work for.  I don't know where you are.
I don't know what your struggle is.  I can only share what I'm struggling with in the hopes of shedding some light for you and for me.  Remember who you are and know you, beautiful child of God, YOU can do hard things.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Move Some Furniture, Change Your Life

I've been moving furniture around. This weekend a sofa that was way too large to be brought into my bedroom spent the night there.  The next day it was returned to its original location.  I then moved an oversized chair into my bedroom that ended up being the perfect size.  I say "I" but in all honesty my son was the smart one who figured out how to get it through the door then around the bed to the location it was meant to reside. He is also pretty strong so a lot of the brute force in moving these things came from him. The boy is so kind and so willing to please, a trait that I'm certain he learned from his father.  His relaxed, easy smile, and quick witted personality is something I wish I could take full credit for.  I cannot.  The boy will make a good husband someday. He should as he has learned from the best.

Today while the men of the house are out however, I am moving the bookcases from one room to another.  Do not call them as I could get into trouble for attempting this fete on my own.  I'm pretty excited about this idea I have for switching things up in the house.  It might not work and I might hate it but....don't die wondering right?  I have tile floors they should be easy to move once I take all the books off of them and get them over the carpet in the room they currently reside in.  There are some that think that if you are scheduled for physical therapy this week you shouldn't probably be moving furniture around.  I'm pretty sure that is exactly why I should be moving furniture around.  It has to be good exercise and the point of physical therapy is to move the problem appendages around right? (Note: It's probably best to just agree at this point as I cannot be persuaded at this point.  Those bookcases are moving today.  Also as a non-athlete I don't really think physical therapy is necessary anyway especially considering the thing that is wrong can probably be attributed to the fact that I am middle aged. That's two years of medical assisting training from over twenty years ago talking. I don't actually remember a lot but I think I remember that part...or I made it up.  OK I made that up but to be fair all I ever did as a medical assistant was bandage toes and triage...which is why it didn't stick.)

Here's the thing: I might have psychologically flipped a switch at some point.  I read the private message from my doctor that said that I have some mild deterioration in my cervical spine and some arthritis in my left shoulder and the first thing that I thought was, "Well...I'm not sure how that can be cause I'm pretty sure that I'm getting taller."  The shoulder thing makes sense.  I have an old college injury that has pestered me for years.  I feel the pain when it's cold or especially cold and rainy, but deterioration?  I don't think so.  That's probably normal in the aging process too but I might just have some form that makes me taller.  I kid you not, as I walked on campus today to get to the student center to write this I felt SO TALL. I'm not sure they have it right on this one.  It is entirely possible that I'm growing up after all these years. I don't think we should question my theories.  I think this mindset is probably better than the alternative.  There are days when I think I'm getting taller than my husband.  I did get new glasses this summer though and I have my first pair of progressive lenses so it may just be a trick of the eye. (Oh stop!  I've never been tall.  Let's just agree to let me have this one.)

All of this has gotten me thinking about things though.  I'm not sure you've noticed but the world is kind of a mess.  I'm not going to get into a political rant or discuss football and taking knees here. What I will say is that I think that maybe we could all use a flip of a switch.  I have two daughters in college.  I also have a high school aged son.  It isn't as though they don't hear things or see things.  I can't even take a walk with my husband without my phone giving me an update from the news channel.  All I really wanted was weather updates.  I don't know how to turn off the nonstop barrage of updates from the media about how this is wrong or that is wrong.  It isn't for a lack of caring about the world around me. I do care. I do, but I do not have the time left on this earth to dwell on who has offended who.  I can't do it and nor should you.  To be frank, I'm not sure when or why we all got so worked up about being offended.  I mean, has no one ever had kids?  They are brutally honest and they really aren't concerned with offending you.  The last time I checked we don't go on rants about how wrong children are and spend our lives worrying about what was said.  That's a pretty simplified example I know, but life isn't really all that complicated.  It's pretty simple really.  We are the ones that complicate things.

Move some furniture around.  Think of it this way.  You have this huge sofa.  It blocks passage to the restroom and makes it hard to get from the kitchen to the table because of its location in the house.  That sofa represents your largest obstacle in life, be it your job, school, your dreams, or whatever.  The sofa is heavy though so that's why it has been in that same spot for so long.  The thing is if you just moved it to the other side of the room, you would change the entire look of the room and open up the passages to get to where you need to go.  That's life kids. Sometimes you just have to move some furniture around.  Move some outlooks around.  Move a way of thinking around.  Life is simple like I said.  It came with an instruction book.  We spend so much time looking at the huge sofa we can't see the windows.  We can't see our way to the restroom and we desperately have to pee.  We've lost our focus.  We look around and down instead of up.  I don't have to understand differences and neither do you. You'll make yourself crazy trying to figure it all out and it isn't really your job.  What you do have to do is respect that God made all of us different and thank God that he did.  How boring it would be if we were all the same. Love everyone like Jesus and leave the rest up to Him. In other words let the man do His job.  Move some furniture, move the obstacles that keep you from loving others or respecting others and watch the view of the window open up.  You might just change your life.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Worthless

OK guys, listen....I have been worthless today.  Worth-less, less than worthy of oxygen.  I have actually used oxygen that someone worthy of life sustaining oxygen might have needed. I have literally wasted hours of today and I kind of feel bad about it.  Kind of.... Here's the thing yesterday I spent about three hours cleaning and organizing my garage and that is where I finally have come to get a different view to see if I could come up with something to write.  I'm sitting on a chair that is going in a garage sale next month with my garage door open just looking at the fruit of my labor and watching it rain when it occurred to me I could write here.

I'm still just exhausted.  A week ago tomorrow I woke up and the prediction was that Irma was heading for us.  It had shifted yet again overnight and I was just spent.  The ups and downs, the build up was just too much.  I'm not sure I've actually completely checked back into my life.  I mean, I think I have to an extent because the laundry is getting done, dinner is being served and my bed continues to be made by my own hand but the rest of it?  I'm not so sure... I went outside and pulled weeds today for an hour or so, I showered and dressed, and I have had breakfast and lunch.  My kids have been working on homework and I have been staring at a blank page and doing crossword puzzles and talking on the phone in my room with no stimulation from the television or Pandora or anything.  Just staring at this blank page thinking, "What on earth can I say?" I found the lightbulb moment while sitting in a clean garage watching it rain.

The thing is I feel like I spent an entire week running a marathon that I had not trained for.  I feel like I was running and running and running and the finish like just kept moving further back.  I was on a treadmill without the emergency shut off and it was run or die and now I've gotten off the track and I don't know where I was.  I don't remember what track I was on. It is like everything is either before the hurricane and after the hurricane...as if life has somehow been altered a bit.  Are you with me?  Have you been here?  Maybe some of you have.  I feel bad about it actually because we really lucked out here and it weakened before it hit us and as I said before we were locked down in a shelter and didn't actually see any of it.  Our home even came through it virtually unscathed and this makes me feel like I'm not worthy of my feelings.  As if I am not entitled to them because I still have my home in tact.  I don't know.  I'm on unchartered territory here.

I am so thankful for all the messages and phone calls from friends and family checking in and wanting us to be ok before the storm.  There were so many that it was almost overwhelming and while I appreciated the concern it almost furthered my fears as if people were now talking to me because they didn't think we were going to make it. The weather reports made it seem like we might not make it.  It was the largest hurricane to form in the Atlantic...ever.  It is a lot to process.  The thing about all those phone calls is...they have stopped.  The messages have stopped.  We're all good now...uncertain death has been averted so no need to check in.  Forget about the fact that I don't know what day it is and as I feel like I've lost two weeks out of my life I'll never get back and I still sometimes cry in the shower.  We didn't die so we're good.

It reminds me of when my mother was dying.  People came out of the woodwork to help and love on us and be there for us and then once she was gone they all went away.  A week or two later and everyone is back to their own lives and assume you are business as usual.  They don't realize that your entire life has been forever altered and everything is now before your mother died and after and you have no idea how life just goes on.  You can't seem to figure out why everyone else can move on but you can't.  Why it is so easy for others and not for you. What is wrong with you?

I have always thought there is comfort in being around other people.  I don't do alone well. Not that I don't have alone time and enjoy getting custody of the remote or reading without interruptions because I do but I'm a people person.  My mother would give me the silent treatment as a punishment because I need someone to talk to and it was effective.  I don't know how to handle awkward silences.  I can't even go to get a massage without talking which defeats the purpose because I'm incapable of relaxing so I just don't do it.  The thing is, I love my people.  I love all of them...even when I think they are nuts.  Sometimes it just makes me love them more.  I try to text and call and keep up with everyone and when I only hear from people because I might you know...go with Dorothy and Toto via hurricane it makes me sad. I don't comprehend it.

I'm over here like...."What. Just. Happened?"  Have you been here?  Have you had these thoughts?  Have you felt this way before?  Maybe it wasn't a hurricane, maybe it was something else, maybe it was a tornado, or a flood, or something else entirely.  Listen to me on this God is with you in the storm.  I think part of the problem is that we forget that He's with us AFTER the storm as well.  I can't tell which end is up.  I've gone so gray I think I'll blind people if the light hits my head just right. I've gone through ALL the hurricane cookies and I was already ten pounds up from where I want to be weight wise.  My shoulders are up to my ears with tension and I'm scared to take a nap.  Why?  I have no idea but I can't do it.  I look on Denis Phillips' Facebook page to check the weather like it's my job.  I have forgotten that God is with me through the storm and after the storm.  He's with me for the fallout.  When the dust settles and you are left to do life again God knows.  He's there.  He's in for it.  He won't leave you.  He won't forsake you.  He is the God who stops the wind and calms the sea.  He is the God who turns day into night and night back into day. Nothing is too hard for him. Are you going through a storm?  Have you just endured a storm in life and come out the other side?

Remember when I said I felt kinda bad about how I was feeling? Well I've decided to give myself permission to have my feelings and not feel bad about them.  If you need permission I'll give it to you too.  Have your feelings. Psalm 107:28-31 "Yet when they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, the Lord brought them out of their distress.  He calmed the storm and its waves quieted down. So they rejoiced that the waves became quiet, and he led them to their desired haven.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his gracious love and for his awesome deeds on behalf of mankind." " Psalm 89:8-9 Lord God All-Powerful, there is no one like you.  You are strong, Lord, and always faithful.  You rule the stormy see.  You can calm its angry waves."

Deuteronomy 31:8 " It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed".  Do not fear of be dismayed.  Do you see that?  God went before us and He didn't leave us.  He had us and still has us.  Why do I always forget that part?  Do you?  Have you?  I'm not sure but I think maybe the aftershock of the hurricane is just as bad as the build up.  I still wouldn't trade the experience though.  A friend told me I was crazy for trading a maybe fifteen minute tornado for a week long hurricane.  Maybe that's so.  Maybe I am crazy for wanting this life.  All I know is that being here is making me stronger...even on days like today when I feel weak.  On days when I think I can figure it out on my own and I avoid the blank page because I'm scared of what God will tell me there. I keep waiting for the God who loves me to figure me out, to give up on me and walk away because I'm not worth it.  I'm not worthy but then...who is?  Yet he waits for me.  He finds me in the garage when I've hidden in my room all day.  Who does that?  God does.  So today I've been a mess, tomorrow I might still be a mess to be honest but who knows.  His mercies are new every day.  I saw there were some more disturbances they are keeping an eye out for but my running days are just about over so I guess I better stock up on cookies...you know....for emergency use only.