Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sushi from the Grocery Store???

Jesus, you and I are going to have to talk, I mean really???  3:30 in the morning.  I have to get up NOW to write?  Ooookay, let's make sure this spirit that is waking me is of God, 

"Is Jesus the Lord?"  I ask, just to make sure I really do in fact need to leave my warm bed to write at 3:30 in the morning!!!!!

"Yes, now get your butt out of bed, make yourself some hot chocolate and go write." I started to argue with this spirit that I'm not eating sugar right now, but thought better of it and got up, made the hot chocolate and here I sit.  

Before I even get to the couch and begin pounding the keys, I feel a push in my spirit that I am up for the day.  I calculate how many hours of sleep I got (5.5) and think if I'm going to be able to make it through the day on this.  Those thoughts are quickly replaced by the swarm of things flooding my head to write about.  Clearly God knew what he was talking about.  

These types of things are happening to me a lot lately.  I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about them with you yet.  Hearing from God is a sensitive personal thing.  I am feeling my way through it.  And I feel like God is teaching me to listen to him.  Some times it is about trivial things like what I need to buy at the grocery store.  But I know that if I honor is voice with the small things that he will give me more.  And if there is ONE THING I want more of in this life it is to hear from God.  To hear him direct my paths and thoughts and ways and actions, because frankly I don't know what the heck I'm doing.  He created the universe.  I'm pretty sure he has a better grasp on how I should live my life.  

But that being said, let's be honest.  Normal people don't get grocery lists from the Father.  Normal people don't get out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to write (we all know writers are not normal). Normal people don't walk around life listening for that nudge in their spirit all the time.  And that is what I'm doing.  Listening for the nudge.  And now I've added another step, testing the spirits.  


After another grocery trip where I randomly (to me it was random) hear that I am supposed to buy something not on the list, I text my sage of a friend and tell her, 'Jesus and I are going to have to have a talk'  She chuckled, encouraged me to obey but only after I have tested the spirits.  I quickly responded with the slightly frantic "How do you do that? I need to know this!!!!"  Because folks, let's be real, if you're hearing from God on a regular basis you want to make sure it is in fact the Lord.  Thankfully her response was simple, ask the spirit if Jesus is the Lord.  

As soon as I received that text peace flooded me.  Following God isn't complicated.  He wants us to do it and knows that we are lazy and undisciplined so he makes the process simple, if it's not easy.  Asking a small question to determine that I was in fact following God.  That today was followed with a flooding confirmation in my soul.  "Yes, yes he is."  I obeyed.  I mean what the heck it was just groceries.  It was a little harder to obey when it required exiting my bed at 3:30 in the morning, volunitarily, as in I got up without a kick in the butt.  

I want to reassure you of a couple of things: if you don't get grocery lists from the Father, you are not a bad Christian (please tell me you are laughing).  They're annoying sometimes and I don't know that God really cares what I buy at the store.  The lesson he is after is obedience.  Will I obey Him in the small things?  For you it might have nothing to do with buying food.  It might be the route you take to work in the morning.  The outfit you are supposed to wear.  Or what to make for dinner (there's the food again).  And if God never speaks to you about any of these things, that is still okay.  If you don't think that God is speaking to you, I understand.  

I would like to gently say, in a quiet, loving voice, while my hand is on your arm: 

          "Please consider that you might be wrong my friend, He likely is speaking, y'all are just having trouble communicating right now."   

Believe me, I get that.  For 32.75 years of my life I have had extreme difficulty hearing the voice of God.  I have heard it on rare occasions, like once every five years or so.  But I am an infant in this developmental stage of my walk.  I have NO IDEA what I'm doing.  What I do know is that I'm loving doing it.  

There's another reason I'm hesitant to share this with you.  It's a litte more personal so I'm going to ask you to be gentle with me.  Do you remember that verse, it's somewhere in one of Paul's letters I believe, that says something about - don't ever do anything in your speech or your life to detract from the Gospel.  I'm not going to look it up right now for you.  I know it's in there somewhere you can open your Bible and hunt for it if you'd like.  

I worry that I will detract from the message of Christ.  That would break my heart.  If people are judging me because I have tattoos or I'm going through a divorce or because I'm dating and my divorce isn't final yet or exercising different rights I have.  They may have trouble believing that God could be speaking to me.  Or much much worse would be if they decided to write God off as someone they didn't want to know because they don't agree with how I'm living my life.  To be fair, being judged and criticized about my parenting or lifestyle or tattoos behind my back and to my face, REALLY HURTS PEOPLE!!!!  Please stop doing that.  

But that is a minor tragedy that produces a broken or lost relationship.  If I in anyway hinder you from getting to God and relating to him, then my heart is officially broken.  Please know that I am not perfect.  I make plenty of choices that you may disagree with, I sin, every day.  I lose my temper, and forget how to follow God on a regular basis.  But God in his infinite mercy chooses to engage with me anyway.  I have some great people to follow in this precedent, all the characters of the Bible, except Jesus, were broken sinful people.  I mean, hey Solomon himself had like a hundred wives.   And he was the wisest man that ever lived, next to Jesus.  If I could get half of the understanding he had about life and God, I'd be estactic.  

Whether or not you agree with my life and how I live it is really pretty trivial.  What matters is that I am pressing into God.  He and I are at peace with one another.  And that is sacred.  I won't let you or anyone else sully that with your harsh, unkind words.  If I can follow as closely God as possible and love him and my kids in the process that is what matters to me and it matters tremendously.  I would love for you to join with me on this journey.  I would love for you to join with God on your journey even more.

If I can pray for you to hear from God, please leave a comment below and I will actually pray for you.  If the commenting doesn't work find me on Facebook and leave a comment there.  I will pray for you to begin hearing from God and for you to have the courage to obey, whether it's something small and seemingly unimportant OR something of huge magnitude in your life.  

I love you friend.  More importantly God does too. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God



In my old life this day meant a lot of different things for me.  It meant for weeks ahead of time thinking about buying shirts or outfits for the kids to wear, thinking and planning and making special treats for my kids.  Making sure they had a new special toy or chocolate in the morning or evening.  Planning or doing something for my husband, fully expecting to be disappointed, ignored and relegated as a non-important entity or having him do something ‘over the top’ for which I would emotionally or physically pay for later.  

It never meant joy for me though.  It never meant feeling celebrated.  It never had anything to do with romantic love. 

I was able to express love and thoughtfulness for my children.  But being in an emotionally abusive relationship robbed me of expressing or receiving love myself on this day.  There were tears, stony silences or loud fights.  There was the time that he took the candy I had ordered for him out of the mailbox several days before Valentine’s Day and pretended to wrap it up and give it to me.  That was a particularly bad one.  I remember shuffling the kids out the door to my moms and disappearing for hours that day.  Turning off my phone and browsing Borders hoping to find words to soothe my soul.  Words to channel my pain; soothe it and give it a voice.  A safe space to lose myself and lick my wounds.

He told me he thought I had ordered the candy and had it shipped so that he would see it take it and give it to me.  He said he thought I would do that for him to make his life easier.  I knew how hard his life was and ordering chocolate for me was just more than he could do.  I walked out the door in shocked silence.  I said nothing.  What could I say?  Where would I find the words to respond to that kind of narcissism?  There were none. 

So mostly my Valentine’s Days while married were silent and teary and lonely. 

Now, it’s a little different.  I didn’t manage to be able to get my kids much of anything for this day.  I haven’t baked special treats or bought them new shirts to wear.  But I did remember to finish their Valentine’s for their classmates.  That was a hard won victory.  Kindergarteners do not want to write their name 27 times in a row!

I’m going to try to rustle something together for everyone before the boys get home.  But mostly this day is low-key.  I’m not expecting to receive anything from anyone.  I’m kind of glad that is the state I’m in.  The state of no expectations.  I’m feeling free to take the day as it comes.  I’m not worried that I’m in the middle of a detox with my supplements, because it doesn’t matter.  No one is buying me chocolate today so no one will be offended if I don’t eat it.  There aren’t any special meals scheduled for the evening so I can continue with my clean eating.  Perhaps that’s a little sad. 

But not nearly as sad as being lonely, married and ignored.  I get to make this day what I want it to be.  And if I want it to be nothing special other than another Thursday then so be it.  That is my choice.  I am the master of my destiny.  I can choose to embrace the sunshine and the quietness of my afternoon as Nina sleeps.  I can choose to embrace that I heard God yet again today.  I obeyed him and he rewarded my obedience by making it clear to me that I had listened. 

There are still things to be celebrated.  Not a ring on my finger or romantic love, but joy, peace, freedom and clarity of thought.  It’s a gift to not live in a world of constant confusion any longer.  It’s a gift to be free rather than ignored.  It’s a gift to let myself off the “I’m the most thoughtful mom on Valentine’s day for my kids” rat race.  I am thankful and at peace and home alone with my babies today.  But I know what love is. 

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
William Shakespeare
Excerpt from Sonnet 116

This is the kind of love that God has for us.  The kind of love that we should have for one another and the type I strive to have for my children.  A love without conditions, that faces the storms of life head on, it does not shrink back or disappear.  It is love.  And God is love.  Therefore when you have this, whether you are giving or receiving, you are giving or receiving God.  We say that we are loving one another.  We are really Godding one another.  To love apart from God is impossible.  Whether you acknowledge his existence or not is irrelevant.  You can only love because he created you to be able to do so.  He created you to have someone to love. 

He created love and he is love.  That’s why it cannot be altered, removed.  That is why it is a fixed mark, and cannot be shaken.  It is worth it unknown, because who could measure the worth of the creator of our universe.  To do so is impossible.  Our minds cannot comprehend him.  He encompasses far more than we can imagine, our brains would split like Einstein did the atom if we even tried to understand it.  What we need to do with this love, with this day that we talk about it, with this God who made it is LIVE IN IT.  Walk around knowing we are loved.  And that we are love, because God is within us.  We just have to let him reign there.  Even if you don’t hand over those reigns, he will still not stop loving you.  Because you are the ever-fixed mark for him.  You are his beloved and his ultimate desire is to love you and for you to return that love.  And he will bear you out to the edge of your own doom if that’s how far you go from him.  He is always waiting for our glance, our permission to enter, our humility to receive a love that we cannot measure and knows no bounds. 

Please know today that whatever love you feel is missing in your heart.  Whatever ache you have there is a cure for it, a healer, a salve.  It is already there, waiting for you.  It is the heart of God.  He loves you my friend. May you see the face of God today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Miracle

I experienced a miracle today.  I'm going to share it with you although to do so leaves me feeling vulnerable and exposed.  The kids and I have been down to our last $15 for about a week now.  I bounced a check for the first time since Jonathan moved out this week.  Which as you know costs me 31 dollars, $31 I didn't have.  So, I scrounged as well as I could deposited all my change and a friend gave me some cash.  I deposited everything I had and it barely covered the checks coming out plus the banks fee.  And we were of course out of food stamps.  I thought maybe we would have $8 left after everything went through.  

Then as fate would have it, Eowyn's cough got worse and she needed to go to the doctor.  But I didn't have the co-pay, the gas money to get there or money to pay for the medicine the doctor would prescribe and Jonathan has cancelled our health insurance.  Thankfully my dad was able to meet me at the doctor, he paid the co-pay and filled my car up with gas.  I was able to talk the doctor into prescribing an antibiotic that Giant gives out for free.  She has bronchitis, poor little lady.  

But this still leaves me wondering if I can buy food for the week and having no idea when the next $20 will come from.  (We still have food by the way, we're fine for now).  And I will be starting to use some of our local food banks.  I have a couple of small things I'm doing for cash this week but basically this highlights how we've lived for a year now.  I've job hunted and job hunted never finding anything that will cover Eowyn's daycare expenses and leave me making anything and rarely if ever even getting a call back for an interview.  

Then this afternoon my mom called, my Aunt Sandy had died.  We were expecting this.  The doctors had only given her a few days to live and we had begun to prepare ourselves.  But that doesn't stop the grief and pain and loss we feel.  There was only one thing I wanted to do for my family when this loss happened: make food.  

In my family when something bad happens or something good happens you feed people.  I grew up feeding people it's what I know how to do.  And futhermore I LOVE doing it.  I'm good at it.  Comfort food is a speciality of mine.  

But there were so many obstacles to this.  1) I don't have disposable pans right now and all of my normal pyrex dishes are in a friend's basement.  2) I had most but not all of the necessary ingredients 3) my parents had given me the money they would pay me for cleaning their house for gas money and E's drs appointment.  

I got everything together I had already for the lasagna I wanted to make and just waited to see what would happen.  I went to my parents house and cleaned and we looked high and low for my air mattress to help house everyone who was coming to town.  We didn't end up finding it so I texted my friend, Shantih who has my stuff in her basement.  Maybe we had taken the mattress over there.  

I ended up crying on Shantih's shoulder a little and intending to only look for the mattress.  Being the saint she is she hooked me up with some groceries.  Not telling her about the lasagna I wanted to make I went in the basement to look for the mattress, it wasn't down there but I took the opportunity to see if there was anything else I needed.  Guess what?  There was!  Pyrex dishes galore.  Clothes I had forgotten I owned.  Shoes that might fit Nina now that she's growing out of hers.  And some pictures that I had already framed and loved and warmed my heart that is aching for family and beauty in this time of loss.  

I walked upstairs and what was in the bag of groceries from Shantih?  Lasagna noodles.  Yep.  Noodles for lasagna, the lasagna that she didn't know I was making.  I still needed two more things to make the lasagna, cheese and eggs.  I got in the car and asked God, am I going to the grocery store to buy these things?  

"Yes, go to the store."  Okay, so I headed toward the store.  When I almost got to the store I heard.
"Call Deb, she has chickens, and she might have some extra eggs."  Obviously with the way things were going I obeyed immediately.  And of course she had eggs and would drop them off at my house.  

I was left with one thing I needed a huge bag of mozzarella cheese.  And I knew I had no food stamps left, they weren't supposed to renew till the 21st of the month.  Today is the 13th, last time I checked that's at best 8 days away from more money for food.  I walked to the dairy aisle.  One bag was more than $8, I could use my debit card for it but it might cause me to bounce another check.  I felt like I was supposed to get the cheese.  

I picked it up, was temporarily tempted by the $1.70 box of fausnaughts and kept walking.  I decided to self check out.  As I was walking up to the register I felt a nudge to try my food stamp card.  I chided myself slightly and was really glad I was checking out my own groceries, there's a limit to how much embarrassment I will willingly put myself through.  If the card didn't work I reasoned, no one would know and I would know I was supposed to use my debit card.  God had clearly been leading me the entire way through this, there was no reason to doubt now.  

The card worked and tonight I'm making lasagna for free. 



This isn't the type of thing that happens to me everyday.  I know that God is with me.  Sometimes I hear him speak or feel nudged by him and listen and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes when I listen it seems to make sense.  Sometimes when I don't listen it doesn't seem to really matter in the grand scheme of things.  However I'm keenly aware that it matters to the heart of God when I don't obey.  

But here's where the rubber meets the road for me.  This week sucked, it's not over yet.  There's so much more loss and tragedy going on that I can't begin to share it with you, it's too much for me to carry let alone to talk about.  God knew I needed to see His hand clearly in my life right now.  He knew that I needed to know that he cares about what will minister to me.  He knew I needed to make lasagna.  Because I matter to him and what matters to me matters to him.  He knew I needed to say good bye to my Aunt, who is the same age as my mom over some italian food.  And he knew that this was an awesome opportunity to show me just how much he loves me.  

He loves you that much too.  It might not be lasagna for you.  But whatever matters to you, whatever is affecting your heart, no matter how miniscule the rest of the world may think it is.  He cares about it.  And I for one know this lasagna is heaven sent. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Is your life too full?

I'm starting a new thing here in blog land, book reviews.  I'll be reviewing a book on occasion for Revell.  I met some of their awesome people at the Allume this fall and am anxious to see how this relationship could develop.  They provide the books, I provide the opinion.  That's the extent of our arrangement.  

I recently 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims.  I have never read anything by these authors before but managing my home well has been something I've strived for so I eagerly agreed to read and review it.  



I began this book with high hopes.  I have recently moved from 4000 square feet to 900.  As you might imagine that meant I had a lot of extra stuff that would not fit in my new home.  Despite my efforts we still had clutter in our tiny little apartment.  But I was quickly disappointed, I found the authors to be condescending and their approach did not seem at all to fit into my situation. 

In all fairness, I think they were writing to a different audience.  Sandra and Marsha seem to be writing for hoarders.  Literal hoarders, people who have every surface in their house covered in stuff.  So I decided to give the book another shot.  A friend had asked me for help decluttering and organizing her closet.  The closet needed some serious help.  The principles in this book did help with that project.  I am approaching it with the methods that the authors suggest.  Consequently we have made tons of headway.  

So, in conclusion, while their approach may not have worked for my house, there are many situations where I think they would be very helpful.  I think the authors could have used a more affirming tone in their writing style and perhaps an approach that fit a wider audience, but I still believe there are many out there that could benefit from this book. 
 






This of course leads me to the topic of how full our lives are... isn't that everyone's  normal reaction?  No of course not, I know I'm not normal.  I always make the spiritual mental emotional leap, if it has to do with our physical life, doesn't it have a metaphysical corollary? I have decluttered a lot of stuff out of my life in the process of moving from 4000 square feet to a place less than 75% of that.  But have I been also letting go of all the junk that can't be put on a shelf in my life?  

Have I thrown away anger?

Have I thrown out jealousy?

What do I do with my sex drive now as a single woman?  Does that go in the 'store for later' box or is there something productive I can do with it right now?  

Are there still negative thoughts about myself that I'm allowing to take over my brain?

Bad memories?

Nightmares?

Abusive relationships?

What do we do with these things that clutter our lives and delay us from making the progress we need to?  I have found a box in my brain for some of these things.  It's a big black box with a heavy metal lid and there's a lock on it when I close it.  I actually visualize putting some of these things in there shutting the lid, locking it up and walking away.  

I feel free when I do that.  They don't cease to exist when I do that, I just have them in a controlled place where they can't create disaster.  I still might think awful things about myself, but when I become aware of it, I know just what to do.  Send it to the box, unlock the box, put it in there, lock it up, and walk away.  

There is other things that clutter my life that I'm not ready to do that with.  It's not that I don't want them to go away, it is just that I know I need to deal with them.  My nightmares - I gotta handle that.  I can't just put them in a box and walk away because they disrupt my sleep and without my sleep my life becomes impossible.  With those things I have a different approach.  They have to go sit on the couch.  

The couch is in my therapist's office, yes, I go to therapy.  Wouldn't you if you were me?  I literally visualize her couch and send that stuff there.  It actually works.  I have given the necessary time to it, but I'm not allowing it to take over my life.  It's a win win.  I'm not never going to deal with my nightmares, I'm just not going to allow them to freak me out whenever the hell they decide to show up.  

Your clutter could be bills laying all over your dining room table or it might be obsessive thoughts about a perfect person in your life. It might be self-defeating patterns in your life that you know you have to get rid of because they are holding you back.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  You want life to change, you have to change your approach to it.  If I want to be thin again, if I want to have a healthy relationship one day with a man, if I want to achieve my goals... then I have to change the way I have done things in the past, possibly change the way I'm doing things right this moment.  I have the ability to do that, there is nothing standing in my way that can not be overcome.  

My encouragement is to take a 5 day approach to a clutter free LIFE.  Don't just file that paperwork and get it off the table, but attack the destructive ways you are living and put them in a black box and walk away from it.  You can do it.  God is on your side and so are all the people who love you, including me. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jen

I was with an old friend recently.  I'm not sure how old an old friend can be when we're only 32 but we've known each other for over a decade and since before both of us were married.  We're now both divorced.  

Jen and I have walked through a lot of life together, from opposite sides of the continent for most of that decade.  I wasn't able to be right there in California for her holding her when her marriage fell apart.  And she wasn't able to be here for me as I went through my pregnancies and lost some of my babies and gave birth to others.  But we knew that each other was still there.  

We were connected in a spiritual sense even if not in a physically present sense.  I knew, if there would be any way she could've been standing in those L&D rooms with me she would have been.  I never doubted or questioned our friendship.  She was sort of like an anchor for me, if I really needed her I knew I could call her.  We knew each other BEFORE and that meant something significant for both of us I think.


Once several years ago during a particularly awful patch of my marriage I went out to California alone and stayed with her for several days.  She had to work and biked back and forth so that I could have her car and explore.  That's the kind of friend she is.  I had a lot of solitude, something my soul thrives on during hard times.  I lost my wallet on the streets of Santa Barbara and some nice older people turned it in, cash still in it at the airport.  

We explored some sites together, went out to dinner.  I got to meet some of her 'other side of the country' friends and see the Pacific ocean again.  It was restorative.  And I remember thinking we expect so little from each other, that's part of why this works.  We can go months without talking, our houses can be a disaster when the other arrives.  We can eat stale triscuits or I can accidentally cook her beef, when I should remember she wasn't eating red meat.  And it's all good.  We're fine.  We enjoy each others company.  

She and I met in college while pursuing degrees in Christian Ministry.  We were Bible majors together.  Our friendship started while discussing deep theological questions.  Both of us have developed and changed our beliefs over the last thirteen years.  She has gone in a more Eastern direction and I am now an Open Theist.  I don't know that we vastly disagree with one another but it has been really encouraging to me that we've been able to discuss these changes in our belief systems without any judgement or criticism.  I respect her, I respect her process, I respect and understand her conclusions and how she's reached them.  Our love and solid friendship has given us a foundation where we're both non-threatened by one another's process. 

That is the mark of a deep, secure relationship.  Relationships like this give us the security we need to be genuinely ourselves.  Whether we agree on next to nothing, everything, or none of the important things.  I have some relationships with people that friends of mine do not understand.  

The relationships are with people who are vastly different than I am.  Some of them are different on one side of things, incredibly legalistic conservative right wing voting Christians and then I have relationships on the other side of things, super liberal atheistic homosexual non voting friends.  My more middle of the road friends shake their heads at me sometimes wondering how I walk the line in these relationships???  They don't necessarily judge me for being in relationship with my 'different' friends, they just wonder how I do it.  

But there is no line in these relationships for me.  I'm as free to express my beliefs as they are no matter how diverse we are.  We don't argue and debate all the time or sometimes at all.  We respect one another, we accept one another, we love one another.  The supporting line to walk in our friendship is that we believe our relationship has value apart from whether or not we agree with one another.  

My belief is that we are here on this earth to do one thing and that is to love.  It is our one charge. How can we be loving if we insulate ourselves from anyone who is different from us?  Of course we can love people that are just the same, who's priorities line up with ours, who attend or don't attend church for the same reasons we do.  It's those who choose to live on food stamps and still spend money on fake nails or an iPhone that we have trouble loving.  Or the rich businessman who skims the margin to further line his own pockets while okaying more child labor factories in a third world country. 

People are more than the summation of the decisions they make.  I think there is more to my friends then the belief systems they hold that are different than mine.  They are whole persons; whose presence in my life adds to my life experience.  They cause me to expand my horizons in ways that I might not have otherwise gone. 

My old friendship with Jen can be my anchor, a tie to my past that helps me to feel grounded.  But it's also a window through which I can see the rest of the world a bit differently.  Each of my friendships are like that.  I have a friend that teaches her children that swearing is ungodly and part of her belief system is not doing it.  She doesn't condemn me because I swear and I don't condemn her for teaching her children that way.  Because we both believe that the highest goal is love.  And we love each other and through the window of that friendship I get to see the world a bit differently.  That. Is. A. Gift.

Jen and Harvey

Saturday, February 2, 2013

To(o) Rough on the Playground

Harvey's teacher sent a note home earlier this school year saying he was playing way to(o) rough on the playground.  She left out the necessary second O and yes, it annoyed me.  However, I was more concerned with the unnecessary roughness.  So, I asked Harv about it and he was embarrassed.  It was not at all shocking to me that he could play rough.  If you have not met my second child let me shoot you the facts:

- He's a boy

- ALL BOY

- A loud noise with dirt on it

- If you decide to crank it up a notch, he'll match you stride for stride

- He used to think he could fly

- He doesn't have fear, but he has a lot of feelings

- He grunts more than he speaks

- He's happy most of the time

- He's a great snuggler

- He can play alone for hours (I think this is the precursor to cave time)

When I saw his teacher later I flagged her down and discreetly asked if there was anything specific I should address?  She was pervasive with her assurance.  He was just playing with some really rough kids, she said.  He's a great kid and he's playing with someone new at recess now.  Christ (pronounced Chris T)  or Krish, I'm not sure which.  But even Harvey sort of knows his name.  And that's impressive. 

The lesson here for me is that sometimes we all play too rough on the playground.  The question is whether or not this is a result of defect in our character or a result in our poor choices about who we're surrounding ourselves with.  Sometimes it's necessary just to separate ourselves from others whose influences on us are less than stellar.  If we choose to surround ourselves with people that build up our character and encourage us toward excellence we will find that we become the very person that we want to be, the opposite is also true.  Character is something that rubs off on us.  Proverbs warns us over and over of this.  Sometimes we can surround ourselves with people that encourage us to be a wallflower.  To stop speaking up for ourselves, to ignore our hurts and not to confront those hurting us.  That influence can be just as detrimental.  And just as ungodly.  We are no more supposed to participate in evil than we are to stand idly by while others reign with it. 

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke


That is not to say we shouldn't be an awesome witness to those who are walking an unrighteous path but like Harvey we have to be aware of where our weaknesses lie.  If you're prone to unnecessary roughness don't hang out with the bullies. 

"Harvey, stop hanging out with the bullies," mommy says so.  I think Jesus would too.

If you're prone to laziness avoid those who are slovenly and unmotivated.  If you're prone to throwing a right hook don't go to a fight club.  If you're prone to gossip avoid the neighborhood busy-body.  Your character isn't strong enough yet.  Right now, I'm avoiding those who make too many brownies. Sorry Naomi... ;-)   

I find myself feeling like sometimes people are running roughshod over me lately.  I have concluded that this isn't always because they aren't being kind sometimes it's because I am in a heightened state of awareness.  I do tend to cry a lot more now than I used to and I've lost that thick skin that I only ever mildly possessed. 

Within these situations is also the crux of me trying to find my voice.  Trying to figure out what I am feeling and thinking and then finding a way to express that which honors me and those to which I'm speaking.  I feel like my voice comes out in starts and stops and all fragmented.  Half stagnated. 

My goal is to hear myself and my true thoughts feelings and emotions and also to be kind and strong.  I have felt in the past like I might lose the fight within me and yet I know I have three excellent reasons to soldier on.  Some would prefer a more timid version of Shannon, others one that is all hatchets and trailblazing.  I'm finding the center of where I and God want me to be. Where I want to be is important, which parts of myself do I most want to develop, which ones do I want to shrink?

Does He want me to move on this?  Then I move. 

Is this just selfish anger?  Then I stop. 


What am I really feeling right now?  I'm not filtering because people don't like it. 

Where do I need to speak? 

Is this person honoring me and my children?  Then I'll spend time with them.  If not, then no.  

Previously I would have been so focused on trying to figure out who God wanted me to be that I would've forgotten to honor myself.  Now I have learned that my own heart will reflect that to me.  I don't have to go searching.  My calling in life is clear to become the best version of myself that I can be.  The gift in that is that I already know myself better than anyone else, so I know what to pursue.  I am a gregarious, outgoing, deep thinking, 51% introvert.  I'm great at writing, public speaking and making artsy crafty stuff.  I love being a mom, I put a lot of effort into maintaining friendships, I'm funny and flirty.  I'm a bit of a smart ass, okay, I'm totally a smart ass.  I also get distracted easily, abhor detail crap like paying bills, even though I know how to do it efficiently, hate cleaning houses but I'm pretty good at organizing.  There are things I need to develop within myself to be successful in life, like house cleaning.  But there are strengths I possess that when I develop those I become a better person, more authentically me.  

When I put effort into my writing, I clarify my message.  When I clarify my message I give that gift to others, which is what I feel called to do.  When I make things I create beauty, beauty makes a difference on a hard day.   

There's a common quote often said and misquoted "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." T.H. Thompson and John Watson

When we get a little too rough when one another we miss out on relationships.  We set one another on edge; they worry about being honest and genuine around us.  I just had someone do this to me today.  The left a snarky comment on a public forum that made a mockery of my writing.  They were probably joking around and thinking I would laugh.  Or they could've been trying to encourage me with their 'playful criticism.'  

But we don't have the trust present our relationship for me to handle that from them, nor do I know them well enough to know which it would be.  There is no depth present and there's no love lost between us.  I've admonished myself already for thinking this person could help me as a writer.  For being vulnerable for asking them for help.  And I have learned that I need to back away from this already barely existing relationship.  Because they wounded me, I'm learning from the wound.  Wouldn't we rather people learn love and trust from our interactions from them, rather then learning from the pain we're causing them?

We need to be kind.  We need to love one another.  We need to think first before we speak.  The old adage that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason is true.  God gave me ten fingers and they can fly over this keyboard attacking another person as well.  But he has also given me wisdom, my brain, my heart and my spirit can be engaged before I publish.  Or I can let them fly and shred someone else and hit that orange publish button without a second thought.  Maybe even feeling smug satisfaction as I have returned their meanness for meanness.  But that is not the way of God.  

God desires for us to be honest about the truth of relationships.  

God desires for us to be gentle with one another.

God desires for us to respect ourselves and not deny our own voice.  That is not his way.

BUT

God admonishes us to always seek him first.  Don't publish, don't snark, don't confront without talking to him.  Don't playfully criticize another, it hurts and it does not help.  That is not love.  We might think we're being witty, witty is just another word for wounding.  So you might not be using a sword to wound but that tiny little switchblade is just is as deadly.  

Love others, and yourself, find the balance.  And share your toys at recess.