St. Jude 10K: Hiding a Mountain of Sin Behind How Well I Comply.

woman-1562560_1280

All the dynamics of the physical overhaul of my life have been at play this week. I would love to simply report my compliance to my running schedule, because I am highly skilled at hiding a mountain of sin behind how well I comply. Yet, the truth remains that a person can truly go off the rails internally while appearing to be right on track externally, and that, in a nutshell, sums up the last few weeks of my physical health.

Therefore, in an effort to bring my internal and external world more in line with each other, I’m going to lay the truth out there. First, I fell off the food tracking wagon about 3 weeks ago. My life got really busy, and I would legitimately forget to check in. I was still losing weight, so I felt no need to change my behavior even after my life slowed down. Thus began the slippery slope…

Next, the short morning exercise routines started to become less consistent. It is no surprise that I began to gain weight back at this point. Unfazed, I continued to be lax about my food intake and my exercise routine. When I was well enough to get back to my running schedule, the consistent running allowed me to justify increasing my food intake, i.e. allowed me to justify eating large quantities of junk food.

For 3 weeks, I have gained weight back. Not only that, I have experienced the aches and pains and physical complaints that had just resolved when I started consistently eating well and exercising. I ignored all the evidence and justified carrying on in my old patterns. To wrap this neatly in a bow, the old habits still live, and I still have work to do on my mental and emotional game to really care for my health the way I am called to care for my health.

The plan for week 4 is to shift my course to get back on track, which means once again going through the painful process of killing the sugar monster. That beast is my greatest nemesis. It also means finding a way to increase my personal accountability and taking a deeper look at this pattern of self-sabotage I have going on. Ironically enough, I had a video in my email this week about that very issue, so it seems like a good idea to unbury from the mountain of emails and actually watch it. Finally, I’m going to let myself feel the victory of recognizing I was off course and taking the initiative to make a change after 3 weeks rather than letting it go for 3 months or 3 years!

That last piece is crucially important. Overhauls of any sort do not occur in big pieces or in short durations of time. It is all about the long game. It is about incremental change over a long period of time to reach an ultimate goal. As much as I rail against our culture of immediate gratification, I’m lying to myself when I believe that I am somehow above that particular struggle and that the greater culture hasn’t affected me in that way. It is that lie that keeps me incrementally sliding down the slippery slope of my bad habits.

This week, I make the turn to begin the climb back up. If you have any personal experience with this struggle, I’d love to hear your experience, your victories, your struggles, your strategies, and most of all, your heart change through the process.

As always, if you have heart for the work St. Jude does for children battling cancer, please visit my fundraising page: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186

 

The Saturday Morning Struggle

break-1736072_1280

The idea of a slow Saturday morning is what keeps me going through the week. If I can just get to Saturday morning, I will have time. Blessed TIME. Time to let my brain decompress and organize the trillions of pieces of information that it has been bombarded with throughout the week as I slowly sip my coffee.

I cling to this hope with such white-knuckle intensity that I go to bed somewhere between 8 and 8:30 on Friday nights, so that I can “sleep in” until 6 a.m. Doing this serves 2 purposes: it allows me to catch up on sleep by getting in 9-9 ½ hours and it allows me to wake up before my daughter and have some quiet time.

couch-cushinsThis is where I need to confess that feelings of resentment rise up in me when 7:30 rolls around, and I hear her doorknob turn and her little feet start to walk down the hall. Because at 7:30, my brain is still not ready for the non-stop action. I will go to the kitchen to fill up my coffee cup for a 2nd time and return to find that all the cushions from the couch and chair have been removed to make a magic sidewalk that can identify whether or not a person belongs in this house by how they step on the cushions.

 

Having my spot to curl up with a blanket and chill now removed, I begin to sort the dirty laundry and fold the clean laundry still in baskets from the previous week, all the while being interrupted by the constant talking, singing, question asking, and good old-fashioned arguing for no reason. Not to mention, the bed jumping and flopping that sends my freshly folded towels into disarray.

Let me pause for a minute to tell you about an enormous pet peeve of mine. I cannot stand it when people yell from different rooms in an attempt to communicate something. This happens everywhere I turn, and I thought it was the younger generation, but I see it occurring between people of my generation also. Why do people do this? I know that when I was growing up, I was taught to go find the person and speak with them at a normal volume if I had a question. Has this piece of etiquette become old-fashioned and outdated? If it has, I fully plan to wage a one-woman campaign to bring this form of manners back. It seems wildly disrespectful to me to yell across rooms and also wildly absurd to believe that anyone can communicate effectively this way. When my child yells at me from across the house, I will not answer her by yelling back. I instruct her to come to me and then I will answer her question. I understand that other families operate differently, so this is just an FYI that in this family when it comes to yelling across rooms, we kick it old school.

So yes, the yelling across the house was working my nerves this morning. I realize that I complain about both sides of this argument. I complain that I don’t have enough time with my daughter during the week, and I also complain that I don’t have enough time to myself. Both sides of the argument are true, and there’s the rub. I realize that this is a problem common to all parents, single or married, but I also believe that single parents have this problem to a greater degree. I believe this because my Facebook feeds tells me that some of you married parents have spouses that take the children for the morning so that you can sleep in. That spouse may even take the kids out for breakfast one morning, so that you can have the entire house to yourself. On behalf of single parents everywhere, let me exclaim “THAT SOUNDS GLORIOUS!”.

I do fantasize about using my hotel rewards points to simply stay at the local Holiday Inn, where I might spend an entire 24 hours in an incredibly comfortable bed with snacks, Netflix, and books completely vegging out with no interruptions. No urging myself to “relax faster!”, because she will be waking up soon. It’s insanity, isn’t it?

I have created color-coded excel spreadsheets of my time trying to find margins for more time for myself and for more time with my child. I believe that you’ve already been introduced to my nerdy love of my Franklin Covey planner. Despite my best efforts at time management, there is simply never enough time to get it all done. I realize that in 13 short years I won’t have my child at home anymore, and I really do want to make the most of the time I have with her. Still, sometimes I can’t help but believe that a Saturday morning all to myself might make me a better mama.

If you have any tips or tricks or wormholes in time that you use to create more margin for yourself and for your child, please share!

Also, if you’d like to indulge your inner time management nerd, Franklin Covey is offering 20% their Binders with the promo code BINDERS through the 31st:  <a href=”http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=XjpitHTpd0Q&offerid=459242.22&type=3&subid=0&#8243;

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Reflections

fall-foliage

I had full intentions of going to 8 a.m. Sunday service, as we usually do, but it is currently 8:03 and I am sitting on my couch in flannel pajama pants. My child, who I put to bed at 7:30 yesterday evening, is still sleeping. I attempted to wake her up, but she was dead to the world. My motherly intuition is sending up the flag that this little family needs another morning of being slow and peaceful before the Monday rush hits. So here I sit, reflecting upon the changing of the seasons.

It’s getting to be that time of year. Really, it is already upon us. The time of year when schedules get really full and budgets get really tight. I don’t know about you, but the demands on my time and on my bank account grow exponentially as the holidays approach. I’m already stressing about it and trying to figure out some boundaries that will keep us sane this season. Figuring out what to say yes to and what to let pass can get complicated, but I’m determined to create space for peace during the holidays.

Then, there is the change in the light. If there is a roster for seasonal affective disorder, sign me up. Nothing makes me relate more to Kipling’s fable about the rhinoceros with the dry, stale cake crumbs under his skin than the longer periods of darkness. Already, I pine for the surplus of sun and the pace of life provided by long summer days.

Finally, there is the season of change in me and in my life. I don’t know if it’s just my age and stage in life that has increased my ability to sense when a change is coming or if that is due to a deeper walk with the Lord. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both or an amalgamation of many other things I don’t yet realize. Whatever the case may be, when the icky feeling of discomfort creeps upon me, I no longer react with full blown anxiety, fear, and agitation. Those things are still there, don’t get me wrong. I am still very much human. The difference is that those emotions are short-lived and far less intense than they once were. The greater difference is that now those emotions cause me to look up and talk to my God about this new thing He is doing in my life. Now when fear and discomfort hit, I don’t camp out there. I saddle up and get ready to ride, because I know a new trail is opening up ahead.

Writing this blog has been one of those new trails that I never expected to open up in my life. Yet, here I am, getting to know some lovely new people and getting to reconnect with people  that I haven’t been able to catch up with for far too long. I’m blessed to be here and to have this avenue to connect. I’m grateful for all of you who have reached out with encouragement, kind words, ideas, suggestions, and candid stories of your own lives and experiences. It makes me a better person to have the feedback.

I hope you also are finding some time to enjoy and reflect upon the changing of the seasons. As always, I’d love to hear what the Lord is putting on your heart and mind as the seasons change. Blessings on your Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Jude 10K: Pre-training

woman-1562560_1280As you may already know, I have been taking a graduate level course this fall, in an effort to gain a professional certification that I have been working toward, slowly and painfully, for many years. If you have read any of my other posts, you also know that my daily schedule has been jammed packed to the point of insanity. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that I was doing many, many things, but I was doing none of them well. So, after some serious soul-searching and prayer, which led to some chart making (yes, God speaks even to my inner nerd), a conclusion was reached: there will be a better season to take this class. You know, a season that is not smack dab in the middle of a major overhaul of my job responsibilities or my daughter’s kindergarten year. Even though I completely adore my instructor and absolutely feast on the content of the class, it is time to drop it like it’s hot.

Clearly, this will free up a great deal of my time, and we may finally be able to wear clothes that have not been sitting in a wrinkled heap in a laundry basket for 2 weeks. But I quickly realized that since I will no longer be in class, I will be able to participate in the St. Jude 10K that I signed up for over the summer. This is a big race and a big deal, and may I just say, that I am not prepared. I gave up running the second I started class and realized that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the race. Yes, I have tried to keep up with strengthening my core and working in a quick HITT workout when I could, but that is not the same as training for a 10K. Also, have I mentioned that I have not successfully run a 5K? I have work to do, people.

I am tempted to be overwhelmed, which would essentially be trading “class overwhelmed” for “training overwhelmed” and I really don’t want to go down that road. So yesterday, I hit the running trail to see where I was in my running game and try to find a little motivation to get after it. Even though it is completely embarrassing, I’m going to share my stats with you so that you can a) feel sorry for me, and then b) maybe offer some encourage and motivation to keep me going now that you know how far I have to go in this journey.

stjudepennySince I just wanted to see where I was physically,  I just did a mile at a pace I felt good about to see where I clocked in. So, according to the FitBit, I ran 1.1 miles at a pace of 12’24”. This is much slower than where I left off at the end of last season’s running clinic, but it’s a start. I found this penny along with way, and I picked it up and deemed it my lucky penny for my training. You will notice that it had landed on tails, but that did not scare me away. To me, it was a perfect metaphor about how this thing isn’t going to come easy, nothing in life ever does. But my life is not altered or directed by bad juju, it is authored and perfected by my faith in God. God has been asking me, begging me, pleading with me to get healthy, and that is the true reason I am out there doing this. So, game on.

Friends, I need all the support I can get, and by support I mean accountability. That is why I am putting this out there, so it will not be easy to just quick when it gets hard. If you can support my fund-raising effort with a few dollars, I would really appreciate it. But even more so, I covet your encouragement! This is the link to my St. Jude page: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3466532&pg=personal&fr_id=59186
Thanks in advance!

 

Peace in the Political Season

 

barnflag

If you happened to catch the first presidential debate, then I’m sure you had some thoughts and opinions about it. Even if you didn’t watch the debate, I’m still quite positive that you have some thoughts and opinions related to the presidential campaign, because the thoughts, opinions, and feelings surrounding it have been tossed about like lawn furniture in a category 5 hurricane. Some of us have felt more free to participate in the larger storm, I mean conversation, with the general public. Thank you, social media, for allowing us to put our first thoughts out there into the world with little to no contemplation. What. a. blessing. I feel like some of us would be well served to coat our fingers in peanut butter or maybe bubble wrap before typing, so that by the end of the typing process, our thoughts may have had time to reach a more refined and well-thought out response. Just a thought.

hurricaneOthers of us have simply opted out of the conversation at large. We may share a thought or two with a close confidant, but by no means will we actually participate in this circus. That nonsense is for crazy people! We find ourselves in corners, whispering secretly to people who we know share our political viewpoint. This is what I tend to do, which is how I know that those of us who to tend to opt out still have all the strong feelings, we just internalize them. The same hurricane still rages, but rather than being “out there”, it rages on the inside.

Like everyone else, I can get caught up in my strong reactions to the current political climate, but the whole “no good choices” rhetoric is no longer holding water for me in my journey to wrap my head about what is going on with this election. Please realize that I used to be front and center on this way of thinking, declaring that my write-in vote for president would be Buddy Stax, the Large and Yellow. I fancied a large presidential portrait of my 80 pound labrador in the Oval Office, perhaps answering a large red phone while looking very serious but highly eager. Through prayer and an ongoing refining process of some of my thoughts and attitudes, I have been deeply convicted about some of the  double-standards that I hold. Since conviction, owning personal responsibility, and the process of growth tend to be somewhat painful, this was not a pleasant process for me.

After one morning of intense prayer about the level of distress I was feeling about this election and the general state of trauma that our country is in, a couple of my commonly repeated catch-phrases about the election and the candidates came to my mind. These thoughts were immediately followed with the question “Where in your life are you like these candidates?”. Well, let me tell you, that is not only a sobering thought, but it will make a body want to punch someone. Uh-uh, no way, no sir, I AM NOT LIKE “THOSE PEOPLE”. By saying this, of course, means that I am exactly like “those people” in some way or I would not feel so defensive.

chucks-1427322_1280
Lead by example and leave a trail so others can follow your footsteps.

As the weeks went by, every thought, comment, or attitude that came up inside of me about this election season was met with the question of “where in my life do I do the same thing, have the same attitude, or hold the same bias?” It has been quite the spiritually, mentally, and emotionally cleansing experience, and two major ideas have come out of the process. The first being, for those of us crying out for greater personal responsibility from our fellow citizens, shouldn’t we be leading that movement by our example of going through a personal refining process of our own personal biases, attitudes, and behaviors towards others? Shouldn’t we be leading the charge by taking our own personal moral inventories, identifying the areas that are lacking, and working on strengthening our own hearts and houses as living proof of personal responsibility rather than just shouting personal responsibility as an intangible theory that can really be very hard to find in actual practice in our culture?

The second thought I had was what if it is more important to God that I follow his guidance through the process of picking my candidate rather than who I actually vote for? Stick with me. I know some of you just got all prickly, but hang in there. It occurs to me that from the dawn of time as recorded all throughout the Bible, new and old testament, that God already knows who will be leading this country and all of the other countries of the world from today through the end of time. The outcome of this election is completely under His will. He has known who would win this contest from the day He created the earth, along with the plans He has to use this and all leaders to bring about His purposes. To put it simply: He’s got this. And if He’s got this, then doesn’t that make it my job to walk and talk with Him about the choices I make when it comes to voting for the leadership of my country and about getting my heart right with Him about the way I make those decisions?

doors-1587329_640
How do I know which door to open, which choice to make, if I’m not talking to God about it and listening to His response?

I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah, and the constant theme of Isaiah, as well as so many other books, is God’s people straying away from him, God’s people failing to heed the warnings of his messengers, God sending an enemy to rule his people for a period of time, and God’s redemption of his people when that time has passed. So it seems that since the dawn of time, God has used changes in leadership for the purposes of correction, deeper connection, and redemption. I think if we stay focused on the lower story of Hillary and Donald, we miss the higher story of God’s corrective and redemptive process for His people, individually and collectively.
For me, these two major thoughts and walking through this refining process with God have brought something into my heart that I believe precious few are feeling during this election season: peace. There is a peace in my soul that comes only from surrendering something to God. I no longer feel the need to defend and protect my opinion, to share my opinion with people who are reactive rather than responsive, or to hide my opinion from those who disagree in a reasonable and respectful way. I also understand that a person may go through the same refining process with the Lord that I went through, and the Lord may lead them to vote for the candidate that He led me not to vote for. It may seem like quite the paradox, and well, it is. But when the spirit of God is at work in individuals, real conversations happen even in the differences. Especially in the differences. Iron sharpens iron, and conversations about differences that are spirit-led create a forum for balance, for growth on both sides, and for opportunities to entertain ideas that you may not have thought of and experiences that you may have never experienced. And from that, real connection can grow. From real connection, unity becomes a reality. 

The Weekly Recap: You All Are the Best

plague-copy

You all are the best…

Let me begin by saying how completely overwhelmed I have been this week by the response to Redemption in Divorce. I honestly wasn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for the responses that came, but I feel like God really showed up in the middle of it all. My heart just about stopped as the truth of “It’s not just me” flooded over me. I heard from so many of you who have stories similar to mine, and oh, how I wish I could sit down with each and every one of you and just talk over a cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever your beverage of choice might be. I am really so very thankful for those of you who reached out with kind words and encouragement and with your own stories, and I hope that we can connect again soon.

I’m a Hot Mess…

To say that this week has been busier than the last would be an understatement. Besides the normal routine of work, church, school, soccer, and a graduate level class, this week required a few extra activities for soccer, my class, and May Lee’s school. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep us fed and in clean clothes, though those clothes very rarely make it out of the laundry basket and onto hangers these days. Also, the general state of my house could best be described as “gross”, and that would be fair. I would like to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that very soon some time will free up, but that is not the case. Rather, I’m simply getting better at lowering my standards in some areas, prioritizing my time in a hardcore way, and working in the margins much more efficiently. It may look like chaos on the outside, especially when I forget things like packing May Lee’s soccer stuff or bringing my computer to work, and that would be because it is chaos. But deep down there really is a purpose and structure to it all. Hopefully, by the end of this busy season, I will have sharpened my time management skills to such a degree that Franklin Covey will offer me a plaque in recognition of my mastery of planning and prioritizing. It’s all about the big rocks, people.

Also, I’m not holding my breath about that plague.

The Single Mom Gig…

We had a pretty great weekend. Soccer pictures were this weekend, and I have high hopes that the prints will be adorable. You wouldn’t have guessed it from the sour attitude my child wore all over her face right up until the very second the photographer hit the button on the camera. Then and only then, did my child turn on her precious angel smile. And that was after she took somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 MINUTES to walk from the parking lot to the field where the pictures were being taken. I mean, the girl had to work hard to walk that slow. God love her hard-head and tender heart. She will rule the world one day!

ml-leaves
The leaves she collected on our scooter adventure…we were out there for awhile

Did I also mention that is was approximately 10,000 degrees outside on Saturday? The poor photographers at the soccer fields were visibly wilting. Being that we were already sweaty, we decided to go ahead and hit the up local festival. We had a good time doing all of May Lee’s favorites- face-painting, pony-ride, sand art, mini golf, and she even attempted to climb the rock wall. I was proud of her for doing that, because she has been wanting to do it but got scared on the first step up. Sometimes, I worry that her anxiety keeps her from trying new things or from putting forth effort on things she thinks she can’t do perfectly. So, it did my heart well to hear her say later in the week during an afternoon walk around the neighborhood “I didn’t come out here just to scooter. I came out here for an adventure.”

Finally, we have entered the stage of the hypotheticals, and I have learned that I have precious little patience for hypotheticals. “What if there wasn’t just one left, what if there were two left?” “What if that car really did hit that other car?” “What if that leaf were red instead of brown?” Or how about the time I told her to get water to drink, because we were out of milk. “But what if we WEREN’T out of milk?” she said. “We ARE out of milk, so get some water” I replied. “I know, Mom, but what if we WEREN’T out of milk?” I just don’t even know how to respond these questions, other than to roll my eyes to remind myself that this is just a phase. Let’s just leave it at I have room to grow in this area.

The Life Overhaul:

I finished The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and what a practical little life-changing book. I realize that I have gone on and on about this book, and that is because it is amazing and you must read it. I’m working on implementing the ideas in the book in my daily life, and so far the only one that I’ve really done consistently is to create a practice of gratitude. Now that I’ve gotten it down to where consistently do this practice every morning, my next project is finding a fun gratitude practice that May Lee and I can do together every day. Something other than the standard bedtime prayer of “thank you for my family and my friends”. I was thinking about something more creative and hands-on. I have not consulted the great and powerful Pinterest yet, but I’m sure the ideas found therein will be numerous and somewhat intimidating. I’ll keep you posted about what I find and what I end up trying out.

Creativity is the word on my mind lately, and I’ve trying to save space in my over-scheduled life for it. Making sure that I have this outlet once or twice a week has saved my brain from completely melting and running out of my ears as I have plowed through journal articles, book chapters, and discussion boards for my class. I recently picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and it seems like a timely read as I’m trying to incorporate creative outlets into my life.

Other than saving space for creativity, exercise has been another thing that has saved my bacon during this busy season. Especially since Brach’s Autumn Mix and a Sonic Oreo Blast made their way into my life this week. I am powerless against the Oreo. But in all seriousness, it’s been really difficult to get in even a few crunches and a decent amount of steps each day. I’ve really been working in the margins of my time to make it happen, like the day I had to use my lunch break to drop something off at my daughter’s school. I had 20 minutes until I had to drive back to work, so I took a quick walk around the campus. The weather is finally cooling off, and I am deeply craving to start running again. I just don’t think my schedule can flex enough to make it happen, but I haven’t given up trying to figure that out just yet.

Coming Up Next:

Don’t know if y’all have heard the news or not, but there is this small, discreet, and well-mannered political campaign going on. I have some thoughts on it, but most of those thoughts are not directly related to politics but more along the lines of what God has convicted me of in light of the political campaign. As a result, my perspective and attitude has changed quite a bit.

On a side note, Twitter was my absolute favorite place to be during the political debate. I know you think I’m crazy, because hello, social media and politics DO NOT PAIR WELL. But I have a whole new love for Twitter. I have a personal account, but I can’t say that I have ever enjoyed it. However, this week I set up an account for the blog, and with some help, I have been able to find “my people”- my favorite authors well known for their humor. Twitter is now my new happy place. I was LAUGHING UNTIL I CRIED during the presidential debate. The handle for this Twitter account is @Singlemomonmis2 if you’d like to join the fun.

Things I Like that I’ve Mentioned in This Post:

It occurred to me that I talk about things that I love or have discovered on this blog, and then I totally leave you hanging about where to find it if you want to check it out. So, below I’ve put links to the things I’ve mentioned.

To begin, I believe that I’ve already mentioned my love for Franklin Covey. I literally have my whole life in my Covey planner- calendar, financial forms, address & phone numbers, business cards, financial worksheets, notes & ideas….shall I go on. https://franklinplanner.fcorgp.com/store/

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Imperfection-Think-Supposed-Embrace/dp/159285849X

Fitness 22 Great Abs App. Please do not believe for one second that I am currently in possession of “great abs”. A bathroom selfie snapped with one hand while my other hand lifts my shirt to reveal rippling abs all the way down to my low-slung pants will not be forthcoming. To me, this app would be more appropriately called “Abs for people currently without muscle tone in any portion of their core”. Abs for beginners, if you will. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/great-abs-sit-ups-crunches/id967725498?mt=8

7 Minute workout App. Again, for people who need to survive a workout by reminding themselves that they can do anything for 7 minutes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout-challenge/id981527855?mt=8

 

Redemption in Divorce

sandburg-1639994_1280

If I had remained married, today would have been my anniversary. This day has become like the New Year’s holiday to me, because I tend to reflect deeply about the time that has passed and the time that lies before me. I do not set goals like I may choose to do for a New Year, and I guess this is where my holiday analogy would move toward Thanksgiving. On this day, I find myself so very, very thankful and deeply humbled at the redemption the Lord has brought to my life, which leads to a story that I haven’t shared with many people until this moment.

When my marriage reached the pinnacle of insanity, I dug into my Bible looking for answers. At least, I thought I was looking for answers, but I was really looking for justifications. I was using what I was reading in the Bible to prop up my own insane thinking and to justify continued efforts to ignore all the very obvious evidence that my child and I were in very real danger. I would pray for protection, for 10,000 angels to form a protective perimeter around my house, but I would not leave. I would not leave, because “God hates divorce”, “the husband is the head of the wife”, and “wives obey your husbands” (that was my ex-husband’s favorite) and all those other scriptures, not to mention all the Christian judgments that have become so deeply ingrained in some sectors of Christian culture that they are mistaken as scriptures, were perpetuating the same cycle of shame as the abuse I was enduring. I was trapped by “my faith”. My ex-husband knew it and I knew, and he exploited it for all that he could.

It was not long until I reached a place of such deep mental and emotional anguish that I cried out to God from a place so deep in my soul that I never knew it existed. And you know what, He answered me. Clear as day, He answered me with, “If you will trust me to lead you out of this, I will give it all back to you. Family, friends, everything that you’ve lost will be restored to you”. In that moment, scenes from the last year of my life flashed across my mind, and I recognized them as opportunities God had put before me to escape that I hadn’t taken.

You might think that I packed us up and hit the road right then, but I did not. Trust was not something I was in possession of at that time. My head was all messed up, and I had a long history of poor judgment to prove it. Trusting God to lead me out of that deep hole was out of the question at that time, but like Gideon and so many others, I kept asking for confirmation. I bought a little notebook at the dollar store and carried it around in my bag everywhere I went. All day long for months and months, I would write my prayers and questions for God in my notebook, and when those answers came, I wrote them in my notebook too. In this way, I started building trust with God. He started giving me small successes that helped me begin to trust my judgment again.

That process played out for a year or so, and I finally did leave. And you know what? Only 2 people threw the whole “God hates divorce” thing up at me. One of them was my ex-husband and one of them was another man who had chosen to exit my life for the entire 8 months of my divorce process, and therefore knew next to nothing about what was going on but chose to levy his opinion against me the week that my divorce was final. It makes me wonder what those 2 men have in common that out of all the people who knew the scenario, from professional counselors to preachers to close friends and family, that only those 2 men expressed eerily similar opinions that had I followed them would have kept me in danger. It begs the question: what compels us to use the Bible the way we do, much like a shield to hide our secret sins? But this I know without a doubt: everyone’s secret sin will be exposed at one point or another. All houses built on sand eventually fall. I’ve spent years crawling out of my own collapsed house of sand, learning what true repentance means, trying to show my family and friends that I understand and take full responsibility for the ways that I went wrong, and that I intend to spend every day of the rest of my life following the path that God has laid out for me.

With that being said, let’s go back to the promise God gave me the day that I stood in the bedroom of my beach duplex, face to the ceiling, crying out for relief. The best part of today is looking back and counting the ways He has been faithful to that promise over the years. The first year, I won the right to move out of state from the Florida Court. The next year, I accepted a job that would allow me to support my little family. This year, May Lee and I moved into our very own home. And that is just the “big” stuff! I see His promise answered in some small way just about every week, whether its rekindling relationships that were lost to the chaos of my marriage and divorce, new relationships that have come into my life, advances at work, being able to enjoy experiences that I never thought I would be able to have again, and being able to dust off and reignite talents that have been dormant under the heavy frost of trauma for so long.

All of those things are so very awesome, and I will admit that I am amazed and deeply humbled every time I recognize a new layer of His promise coming to fruition. But I think the best part is yet to come. Some day, when someone else’s sandcastle collapses and all their secret sin is revealed to what feels like the entire world, I’ll be there to help them dig out the way only someone who has had the same experience can. One day, my story is going to help someone else see the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as the light of the One who wants to restore everything they have lost. That will be a great day, my friends. Who knows, maybe that will be one of the experiences I’ll be sharing with you a year from today. Either way, today I trust in His promise fully. I trust the instincts and ability to use good judgment that He has restored to health within me, and I know that goodness and adventure lie ahead.

AMEN.

The Weekly Recap: Snickerdoodle Lattes, An Empty Purse, and a Farm for Christmas

 

coffee-801781_1280

This week has continued to be insanely busy with to-do lists that are never-ending. My ability to multi-task has grown substantially, and I think that is due in part to the fact that I’m sitting down and planning my week. I’m not getting it all done, but the structure is helping me use my time more efficiently. I’m working errands and tasks into the margins, so to speak, and I feel like I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts when I set out on my Monday lunch break to run an errand that would end up killing 3 birds with one stone.

A while ago- we’re talking a couple of months, maybe longer- a FedEx package was mistakenly delivered to my house. After a couple of futile attempts to get the package to its rightful owner, I queried the FedEx guys who delivers to my job about what to do with it. He suggested taking it to Mr. Postman.

Monday, I finally pulled into the parking lot of Mr. Postman with the mystery package, my Stitch Fix items to return, and a bill to mail. Friends, let me tell you, when I opened those doors and crossed that threshold, I was in heaven. I was so bumfuzzled by the divine aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the sight of cafe tables and chairs, and the dazzling collection of adorable home decor and gift items that I must have looked like Dorothy taking her first steps into the land of Oz. Somehow I communicated to the barista the nature of my shipping needs, and she took care of me well. Once that errand was complete, I eagerly chatted with her about their selection of coffees, ordered a snickerdoodle latte, and perused the many treasures in the shop while my coffee was being made. I have to say, this sweet little find may have been the highlight of my week

staxThe next morning presented a challenge, as it was Stax’s surgery day. After his escape from the backyard last week, it seemed clear that I could no longer delay getting him neutered. He was also due for some vaccinations, so my excuses for delaying the inevitable were running out. To get him ready for the vet is no small thing. I legitimately need the skills of a rodeo cowboy to get Big Yellow into his harness, but we managed to get to the vet where he promptly marked his territory 3 times. Bless that staff. One of them even helped me get him into the car after the surgery. On the way out of the clinic, we were talking about how confused Stax must be, to which the staff person remarked “Yep, he came in with a full purse and is leaving with an empty one”. I don’t know why, but that cracked me up.

As for my growing girl, it has been another great week. I can no longer escape the fact that May Lee is growing and maturing in leaps and bounds. Last week at her soccer game, she performed the chicken dance and numerous somersaults but gave very little effort to playing the game or following the coach’s directions. During one of the breaks, we had the following talk:

Me: May Lee, I want you to go out there and make a WHOLE BUNCH of mistakes. Like, hundreds of them.

May Lee: Huh?

Me: Yes, I want you to go out there and make a whole bunch of mistakes. I’d rather you make a whole bunch of mistakes than not try at all. And listen to your coach and do what she says.

May Lee ran out of the field and continued on in the same fashion as before. However, during soccer practice this week, I could tell a difference. She was “in it” and not so hesitant. She was trying instead of letting herself get intimidated by her own fears. I was a proud mama. This was quickly followed by another proud moment when we got home and she read 3 little books to me that she had made at school. She’s really growing and coming into her own.

May Lee is also pumped for the upcoming holiday season. She celebrated the first day of fall then immediately asked how many days until Christmas. She cannot decide what she would like to be for Halloween or whether she would like to dress as a pilgrim or a Native American for her school’s Thanksgiving Feast, but she does know what she would like for Christmas. Her Christmas list is as follows: horse, pony, unicorn, kitten, puppy, turtle, an Octonaut set, and toys of all our friends and family. When I heard that last one, I immediately pictured all of our friends and family members as little bobble-head dolls, then I giggled a little bit and wondered if I could actually make that happen.

As for the health journey, I’ve been doing pretty well, but I’ve been really hungry the last couple of days. Plus, I’ve been a little stressed. Therefore, I have indulged, but I don’t really feel guilty about it. I’ve come a long way with being mindful about whether I am eating out of true hunger versus eating because I’m stressed. What I am bummed about is not doing my new morning exercise routine the last couple of mornings. I think I feel more bummed about the missed exercise, because I can tell the biggest difference in my body from the exercise and not the diet change. I haven’t been doing that routine for very long, but just stretching and doing some crunches in the morning has really relieved my aches and pains and my brain fog. So, I’m thinking missing these last couple of days has set in stone my resolve to incorporate exercise of any kind into a lifelong, daily routine.
The weekend ahead looks like it is going to be just as full as our week, with soccer, lots of school assignments, and pulling together a donation for the silent auction at May Lee’s school. But we are going to make time for fun as well as business and hit up a local festival. Maybe a $5 pony ride will satisfy the pony craving and remove said animal from the Christmas list. One can always hope.

What I’m Reading and More About Stax

As a follow up to my last post, I feel the need to inform you that after I left you full of optimism and ready for a good night’s sleep that the inevitable happened. Meaning, the dog had diarrhea in the middle of the night. At 3:30 a.m. to be precise, which means that 4 a.m. found me standing in the front lawn with a garden hose spraying down the bottom tray of his crate, wearing a mission trip T-shirt from high school and flannel moose boxer shorts. You would think that 4 a.m. would be a lonely time to be on one’s front lawn, but the flashing lights and the faint beeping sound of a truck being unlocked let me know that my neighbor was also up and needing to retrieve something from his truck. I nodded my head and I’m sure he responded in some way, but who knows in the darkness of 4 a.m. Needless to say, May Lee and I did not make it to early service this morning.

Now moving on to more pleasant topics: books. I am one of those people that has several books going at one time. However, I am not Rory Gilmore with a book going from every genre and sub-genre. I haven’t reached that level of insanity yet, but I still have time. These are the books I have recently finished:

img_2966

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere. Awesome, awesome book about the trap of comparison. Lisa’s books are always so powerful that I have to read them in small chunks. The wisdom in her books is heavy and must be digested slowly! I highly recommend this book if you are in need of a dose of empowerment and self-worth.

Aunt Erma’s Cope Book by Erma Bombeck, which I actually started reading during our vacation to the beach at the end of June. This book started out as my light, fun beach reading and has consistently been my source of humor to balance out some of the heavier reading I’ve been doing. It is hilarious! Her wit is so sharp and the way she uses words is simply brilliant. I am a fan for life, which I’m sure makes my Nana up in heaven just as pleased as punch. She had an Erma Bombeck calendar with humorous quotes for each day, and she would bring the ones she found the funniest to my mom. I always made sure to get in on that action and read the latest Erma Bombeck offerings. Even as I teenager, I found them hilarious. As an adult, I intend to stock my library with Erma Bombeck.

Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline is an awesome book about the power of play therapy, but it reads like a novel. I believe anyone who enjoys a story about an underdog overcoming the many odds stacked against him would love this book. This book was assigned to be as part of my play therapy graduate class, but it has found a place in my heart as one of my favorite stories.

With those books completed, I have a new stack of 3 books that I am working my way through:

img_2965

Play Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Terry Kottman is my textbook for my play therapy class. It is my favorite textbook, and I actually read every word. Maybe that is why I am behind in my class, but the author has a very similar therapy style to my own, so I’m deeply invested in soaking up all of her wisdom. I see my self referring to this book over the course of my career.

Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere. I’ve actually read this book before, but I’ve started to read it again for a Bible study I’m attending. I have a habit of writing my responses in books like this, so the pages are already filled with black ink. For this read, I have switched to blue ink, and it’s fascinating to see what my reactions through this read. This book offers such a great perspective on Christ’s call to women and how woman are empowered to carry out their God-given missions on this earth.

The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. This book gives me borderline personality disorder: I love it. I hate it. I love to hate it. I feel like Brene has been spying on me or reading my journal and is CALLING ME OUT ON EVERY PAGE! This book is really like going to a therapy session, and all humor aside, I’m gaining a great deal of insight into myself, why I do the things I do, and where to begin making some much needed changes.

The final piece of my literary routine is this:

img_2968

This is where my source of inspiration begins: with daily reading in the Bible. Again, I read it in small chunks and digest it slowly. I journal to work it all out in my head, and should I have a flash of inspiration or have an idea that I think God wants me to explore, it goes in my book of ideas and intentions. I’m actually surprised when I look through my book of ideas to realize that I’ve done many of the things that I’ve written in its pages.

So that is a glimpse into my creative routine and what I’m reading. What do you do? What are you reading?

Catching Up:Work, Soccer, and Fist-Bumping the Holy Spirit

Dear friends, it has been 2 weeks since my last post, and I must say that I have missed the blog. To say that I have been buried is a dramatic understatement, but let me catch you up on the doings of our lives right now. Since we last spoke, I have started transitioning to a new position at work. As a result, I have spent 3 days of my life in outside audits of our program. Don’t get me wrong, my inner nerd loves the analytical, problem-solving work that comes with the audit process, but that whole scenario can be intense!

I believe it was shortly after the audits concluded that I discovered that I had gained back almost all of the 20 pounds of divorce weight that I lost last year. See previous post about Oreo binges for how this transpired. Lucky for me, weight watchers was having a sale, so I’m currently back on the wagon. However, I understand the program much better this time around, and I’m truly going for long-term change. This means small, incremental changes. This looks like me actually trying to get my steps each day, stretching and doing crunches in the morning, and working in a 7 minute high intensity interval workout a couple of times a week . Honestly, getting those things into my schedule was a process of small, incremental changes that feels truly monumental. But, I’m going for life overhaul status here, so it doesn’t really matter how slow or how long it takes as long as it leads to achieving my goals.

Speaking of goals, May Lee has started the soccer season. She had a great first couple of weeks of practices and even scored a goal during her first game. You will not hear about this from her, however, as she prefers to regale others with the tale of the rainbow sno-cone that followed the game. In fact, that was the story she told our team at Relay for Life when we drove to Memphis for the event after her game. It was my 4th Relay and it is such a good time of remembering and honoring the people I have lost to cancer. However, it made for a long day for the both of us. I really wanted to stay for the luminaria ceremony, which didn’t start until after dark. Looking back, the wise decision would have been to have left before the ceremony, as my child was beginning to melt down and the ceremony wasn’t exactly coming together on time. The kicker to the whole affair was learning that they use real candles lit by real fire to illuminate the white, paper bags decorated in remembrance or in honor of those lost to cancer or those who have survived cancer. There is nothing like watching the bag that your 5 year old has lovingly decorated for your departed loved one go up in flames and a stranger quickly and aggressively stomp it out to put a swift end to the party. Might I suggest those battery-powered tea lights for next year?

We drove home that night and got in bed at midnight. We didn’t make it to church that morning, and I spent the day trying to catch up on homework. I should be doing homework right now, but I’ve come to accept that fact that I’m never going to catch up and have settled for consistently being half a week behind. That is what happens when you take a graduate class while working full-time and single-parenting. Making an A is no longer the goal and passing the class is the new gold standard. Hallelujah and Amen.

tiredsoccerThis week has been filled with more excitement. Even though we were still slightly hung over with fatigue from our Memphis trip, we still did work, school, and soccer on Monday. She wasn’t exactly feeling it this practice.

Tuesday began with a rude start. We made it out the door on time that morning as a result of a great of stress and strain. I put May Lee in the car and walked around to my side of the car, only to discover that the gate to the backyard was open. “No, no, no” I mumbled under my breath as I followed the trail of shredded trash into the back yard, evidence that my dog had in fact gotten out and was having a good time. However, he was no longer in the backyard and had no doubt ventured out to find more garbage to enjoy. Reminded that it was trash day, I wheeled the can to the street and looked around. No dog. I let May Lee know what was going on, and she promptly broke into tears. My blood pressure was rising as the threat of being late to work loomed over my head, but I dug deep and found some patience and self-control and explained to my child that our dog was not lost forever and we only needed to look for him.

About this time, I hear yelling across the street at the end of the cove. I quickly walk that direction and soon discover the source of the yelling. It was my poor neighbor trying to get into her car while being joyfully and lovingly mauled by my giant yellow lab. That dog bounces like Tigger on steroids, and he was doing so at the expense of my poor neighbor and her car. I joined my neighbor in her yelling, “Stax! Stax! NOOOOO! GET DOWN!” and he actually turned and ran to me. My neighbor, God bless her, was so kind and understanding.

I returned Stax to the back yard, rejoiced with May Lee that he had been found, and dropped her off to school. Shortly thereafter, I arrive at work 2 minutes late, anxious about the potential penalties of my 2 minute infraction, and exhausted and stressed from a plate too full. Without any provocation, I commenced to throwing the adult version of a temper tantrum, if there is such a thing. Not my finest moment, and I spent the next couple of hours trying to pull myself out of the shame spiral. I said a prayer and my phone rang. It was my therapist’s office calling and offering to work me in for an earlier appointment, that afternoon in fact. I fist-bumped the Holy Spirit for the quick work in the prayer-answering department and headed off to therapy. It seems important to the overall theme of “I am over-extended right now” to let you know that my therapist is an hour and a half away from where I live, so add a 3 hour round trip to the chaos of the week.

The next morning, we struggled to get out the door, and as we exited I remembered that it was school picture day. I looked May Lee up and down, smoothed her hair and decided that we were good on the school picture front. I’m interested to see if I regret that decision when the proofs come back. That night, I started a new bible study that again got us to bed late. I think Thursday we finally got a reprieve in our schedule, but we hit it hard again Friday when I went on-call for work and May Lee’s school had a tail-gate party. We skipped the football game so that we could get home and wash her soccer uniform for today’s game.

Today, like the other days, has been full to the brim, and I’ve only made it half way through my to-do list. I got up at my usual time of 5 a.m. rather than sleeping in, so I would have more time to get things done. I managed to catch up on my reading in the Bible and in The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Brene really hit me where I live this morning, so I had many thoughts to put down on paper. May Lee woke up and we ate breakfast, laid around in pajamas, and generally relaxed most of the morning. Then work started making my phone ding and ping and generally intrude upon what was going on in that moment with my child, which was really requiring my full attention. May Lee was hungry and insisting on a “snack” and by snack she meant lots of lots of sugar. She was not going for my limits of something healthy to eat and was lying on her back on the dirty kitchen floor in protest. All the while work is dinging my phone in the background. I finally tell May Lee “You can choose to be hungry or you can choose one of the 6 choices I have offered you, but this conversation is done”. She stares at the ceiling, dead pan, and declares, “I…want….to die”. I look at her, she stares at the ceiling. A tiny smile begins to crack at the left corner of her mouth, and I begin to giggle. She breaks into a laugh and I follow. She jumps up, gets a snack, and carries on with her life.

Meanwhile, as I suffer from the resulting high blood pressure and ponder my child’s mental state, the phone actually rings. I spend the next hour and a half working. To paint you a picture, I am on the phone, snapping my fingers and gesturing wildly to my child, and somehow obtain the desired results of a child fully dressed in her soccer uniform. I’m packing shin guards and cleats while on speaker phone with an automated system, which is just an experience filled with delight. I’m juggling 2 cell phones, a Franklin Covey planner, a camping chair, and a bag of May Lee’s soccer stuff as I walk to the soccer field, and I’m sending text messages and e-mails from those 2 phones while my child warms up. I hate that I’m that person, but it is what it is. For now, at least.

The actual game was rather entertaining. May Lee was not into playing today and spent most of the game with a drooped head and slumped shoulders. That was until she began to just let her body fall to the ground. Once on the ground, she commenced to somersaulting. She got in about 6 good somersaults before she actually had to play again. She generally engaged in the game at that point, until she got nailed in the chest with the ball. She ran to the sideline, and we had some snuggles and a motivational chat. I could tell that she was feeling our sideline motivational moment as she stood out on the field with her team and performed the chicken dance. For May Lee, the highlight, again, was the sno-cone. For me, the highlight was the chicken dance and seeing her enjoy her friends.

tyingshoesThe rest of the afternoon has been spent doing laundry, doing homework, and briefly napping. We also began the “learning to tie shoes” experience, and it was a little rocky at first. She triumphed in the end and was feeling pretty proud of herself.

Tomorrow is another full day with another long list of things to do that I can’t possibly get through, and that kicks off another full week with its impossibly long to-do list. But this is just a season, and this too shall pass. In many ways, I’m having some success. In other ways, I’m failing. Such is life. At this point, I just want to be healthy at the end of this and not stroke out from the sharp rises in blood pressure. Even more, I want a happy, healthy, resilient kid that is able to some day look back and see how hard her mother worked to give her a decent life. And on that note, I’m going to retire for the evening, so I can get up and do it again tomorrow. Sleep well, friends