This is the story of a sister named Joy

img_0526

On May 5, 2000, a Friday, I walked out of my full-time job as a hair designer with a plan in place. And this is where it Always goes wrong.  

I’d attend the baby shower of my cousin the following day and return for work on Tuesday. My own baby would be born in the next two weeks after which I’d take a reasonable six to 10 weeks off, figure out childcare and return to work full-time.

Hell-bent on creating a place for myself in my hometown, I’d be successful wife, mother, and future business owner, get back behind my chair as soon as possible and life was going to take on the fullness, the contentment that I’d always dreamed it would.  Someday.

Do you know the Someday I’m talking about?

Someday when I finished college.

Someday  a few weeks after my final semester when I’d be married.

Someday  when I finally figured out what kind of work I wanted to pursue after my Elementary Ed Degree.

Someday  when I finished Beauty College in six months instead of 10.

Someday  when my salon appointment book was scheduled six weeks in advance.

Someday when I got pregnant.

Someday  when I got pregnant again and had a baby to show for it this time.

Someday  when that baby was born.  And it was about then that the shit hit the fan.

I remember looking at him and wondering why I didn’t feel all the stuff they told me I would.  They told me I’d want to jump in front of a truck for him.  And I didn’t.  They told me I would figure it out.  And I was sure that figuring it out didn’t mean wondering why they were insisting I take him home.

There’s a  quote by someone who was famous for something, only I can’t remember who or what.    She said the decision to have a child was like  forever walking around with your heart stuck to your arm, or outside your body, or something slightly more poetic than that.

When my son was born, though,  I didn’t have that epiphany or magical transformation.  I didn’t look at him and feel a fierce protection.  My heart did not feel like it was hanging outside my chest for the intense love injected upon his arrival.  Instead, I was finally beginning to realize that I was disconnected from my heart.  It would be years before I understood why and what to do about it.

I felt like I’d exited my body  and was watching a scared little girl take her cues from everyone else in the room.  She was going through the motions but not healthy enough to be truly emotionally present for any of it.

Looking back, I realize, it was like I had just been born myself.  I felt like a newborn, just five seconds older, or younger, than my baby, and not in a boy do I feel like a new person, motherhood rocks, this being a mother, being born again, is one of the best thing that’s happened to me.  

Nope.  It was a little more like, these lights are blinding me, turn down the heat  it’s 60 degrees outside, I might suffocate. If I could , I’d roll into the fetal position,  let them know I’m not ok, but people keep coming in to look and  they keep handing me this wailing 8 lb floppy kid who wants to bite me all the time, why isn’t anyone asking me if I’m ok.  I can’t figure this out, I need to sleep, I am not ok, can these people just go home now.  At the time, I didn’t know myself enough to express these things, but I’d love to go back and fiercely protect my new-mama self that day.

Forty-eight hours later, the nurse brought a fruit and cheese plate for dinner before giving me the boot.  Time to go home, you’ll figure this out.   If there’s anything I’ve done often in life, it was figure it out.  

I was going to return to work full-time after a few weeks off.  You know,  do and be it all.  In the fall though, I decided only to go back part-time.  Motherhood wasn’t going the way I’d imagined but something in me knew that I’d find missing pieces of myself as I learned how to love my children.

It’s important for me to explain how I entered motherhood for you to understand how Joy  has impacted my life.  How she unexpectedly rolled in in the most unassuming manner and did so with no agenda.   How in one simple connection she would add a level of safety to my world  that I didn’t know I was missing.

Joy worked with my husband and we sat together one year at a Christmas party but other than that, I didn’t know her very well.  I’d always get senses about people though, to a degree that can be overwhelming, but I felt completely comfortable with leaving my son with her.  When my husband talked to her about babysitting, she told him she’d been hoping he’d ask.

Bob Goff wrote a book called Love Does.  The idea  is that you can intend to love all you want.  You can feel an overwhelming intensity of love for another person, but until you actually do something, they can’t experience or feel your love.  Love does something and so did Joy. Joy’s a giver, at times to her own detriment, but she never, ever attached strings to her gifts.

At a time in my life when I needed a mother, a sister, and a friend, Joy slowly walked in and became all three    While I’ve been thankful for her from the first day, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to fully appreciate just how much she’s given me..

Joy showed up at my door every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to take a crying, hungry baby from my arms. Sometimes she brought a coke.

Joy washed my sink full of dirty dishes.

Joy played outside with my baby.

Joy bought a car seat so she could take him places.

Joy brought my him to the hospital when my daughter was born.

Joy said Sure and kept coming when there were two babies.

Joy called them her babies.

Joy took pictures of my kids and printed doubles for me.   Joy came at 4 am to stay with my son when my daughter had emergency surgery.

Joy said, are you kidding, when I asked if she’d be willing to add a third Holder baby to her list of loves.

Joy’s the one who knows where to find beaters for the mixer and how to run my washer.  She steps in and does what needs to be done so quietly, you can easily miss it but do not misunderstand me, she can be fierce when people cross those she loves.

Joy loves with every last ounce of joyness possible, always with a smile and always without expectation.  There have been so many times when I have not loved and appreciated her in return as I should.

I believe Joy’s connection in our lives is a Divine one.  God knew how hard the road was going to be for me.   He knew that for a very long time, I would crawl more than I walked, and he sent someone to crawl with me.

God has a book for each one of us.  He understands our personalities and knows his hopes and dreams for our lives.  It’s our job to learn to listen though, to follow the path set in front of us and walk through the doors we come upon, even if their stuck shut.  Joy has traveled this journey with me.  Her book has my name in it, and my book has hers.

This has been the story of a sister named Joy.  One for which I am deeply, profoundly, thankful.  Love you Joy!

 

I’m having fun sharing my Joy stories with you.  Next week, I’ll wrap up my Joystories with the December day that Joy choose me.

 

It’s one of  the best things ever when I get a little message in my inbox telling me someone  has chosen to be added to my email list!  If you don’t receive these posts regularly, consider joining the list?  Click the email icon below.  Thanks so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the day when you lose a baby

 

IMG_7497

We were looking at her calender after pizza on Sunday night when she asked if I remembered the date.  October 14.  The kids were wrestling in the living room, but we were a distracted audience.  For nine years, she’s remembered  that particular miscarriage and for some reason I just don’t.  I felt caught, found out.  I mean who doesn’t remember something like that, with the exception of someone who wants to forget.

She’s a pro at empathy, trained in social work, and she’s heard some of my toughest junk  but she’s a good friend and even so,  there was no way I could look her in the eye. Baby days are behind me and sometimes that makes me really sad but I will never, ever miss the days I came home empty and I still want to hide when I think about them.

I can tell you every detail about the first time.  How the timing was a few months early so it took me a few days to adjust.   About the two excruciating weeks when there was the slimmest of hope, but we still held on tight.  About the baby kicking safely inside the sonographer’s belly as she asked when I was seeing the doctor, she knew my baby would never kick, I didn’t know enough then.

But mostly, I remember the doctor.

I didn’t know he was handing out condolences when he walked into the room. I’m sorry, he said before the door latched.

Foolishly, I thought it was for my two hour wait. I brushed off his apology, no problem I understand,  and then he tossed me a word, denial.  It linked cold to my hope when I realized he was chaining it to me.

Chaining it.  To me.

That word  pulled heavy, and hard.  I  started to fall inside myself,  out of verbal firing range.  I saw his mouth keep moving and then my husband’s, but the next thing I heard was the door unlatching, followed by, how will you pay today.

For real? They were going to ask me to pay for something I didn’t even have?  I’d storm out of the office like a pro the second time, slam some doors to keep from screaming don’t you people know I just lost my baby, but I was only silently indignant the first time.

I’d felt foolish for worrying my way through the entire two weeks we waited for my HCG levels to rise.  Women have babies all the time, why should you think this pregnancy’s special.  Get over yourself, suck it up, get back to the grind.  

Foolishness turned to shame the moment he accused me of refusing to accept a detail he’d neglected to share.  My sixth pregnancy, or my seventh, I would have understood completely that I’m sorry meant no baby.

But it was my first.

And I didn’t understand.

And it sucked.

Shame hid beneath intense recurring pain the morning of the procedure.  They afternoon before, they’d inserted medication to soften my cervix and I should have known that softening the cervix was just a schmanky way to say labor.

But it was my first.

And I didn’t understand.

And it hurt.

Recurring pain turned to a referred ache that hovered over my heart and started to stab as people tossed around all kinds of careless cliches, sometimes all in one breath. You’re young, there must have been something wrong, heaven needed another angel.   They summed up my life-wide devastation in ten second sound-bytes they dropped between blinks. I’d been kicked out of the Baby-Making Club.  Everywhere I turned was a Baby-Carrying Member.  And those well-meaning but careless words made it worse.

In my first rush of maternal intuition or maybe I had just hoped for a girl we chose the name Isabella Kathleen for its grace and beauty.  I still have feelings of foolishness about this because so many of my friends lost babies they actually held.

Babies in blankets.  Babies with beautiful silent lips and soft cool skin.

Heather and baby Hope Renee.

Ashley and baby Mary Rose.

Cheryl and baby Rachel Lynn.

After our first loss, I wrote for the first time in years and put together an informal gathering with a handful of family.  I can still hear the words of one who couldn’t understand. What are we remembering…..there wasn’t anything…..right?  

There were kind words too, words that knew.  Older women I’d known for years shared their losses, tucked away for seasons,  and women at a support group gulped out  fresh stories of leaving the hospital empty-armed.

I listened to a few songs over and over during dark midnights and read every page I could find on miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

I walked around numb and lonely, feeling like a freak show because I wasn’t pregnant and because I couldn’t just get over it.

I looked for answers in my faith but  theology ground deep into my bones wasn’t worth smack in the middle of the night. Let me tell you what was though.

Jesus.

He’s  worth smack in the middle of the night.

He met me sitting lonely on my green velvet sofa.  He sat with me while I sobbed and tucked me in with his peace.  He held my head when I could only stare at the twinkle lights on my stupid plastic tree hour after hour.  It was the beginning of the first years in my life that I understood he cared about me.  Not just what I did, but who I was, who he’d made me to be.  It was the beginning of the journey that would bring me to write in this place I think……

We didn’t name any of our other children or commemorate their losses.  I think I grew tired of holding the uncomfortable gifts of silence people handed me when they didn’t understand.  I’m wired to swallow everyone else’s feelings.  The only way I knew to escape their awkwardness was to drink my own pain down so deep they couldn’t see it.

Distinctly different feelings wrapped unique DNA around each miscarriage, but my survival strategy was the same loss, after loss, after loss.  Target, to buy new lounging pj’s for procedure day and  Lowe’s, to make sure I had something to do with  my hands.

I found mindless repetitive projects that would pass  time between sentencing and execution although the second time, I wanted nothing more than to bust every window in the  house with a giant sledgehammer.  Most of the time, those stupid jobs distracted my thoughts while I  stripped wallpaper, sorted pictures, or painted walls. More importantly, they held parts of my heart I feared would drop off and disappear until I could manage to begin to put them back together.

I don’t  talk that much about my losses.  They feel private and honestly I don’t know if I’ve processed them as much as I’ve wanted them to go away which is funny to me, considering I process every other last shred of life to it’s bitter shriveled end.

I recognized, just this week that these feelings I’ve been carrying are shame.     It’s a hot, sick feeling that makes me want to hide and I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  I’m thinking it’s not coincidental (since I don’t believe in coincidence)  that last week I picked up a book I’ve wanted to read for a while. Yeah, it’s on shame.

We walk alone a lot of the time as women.  Carry the disappointments of our lives hidden from the crowds, often hidden from ourselves.  I heard William Paul Young say recently that we’re only as strong as the secrets we keep.  I’m learning here how to tell some of mine.  Thank you for treasuring them with  me.

I love music so I linked  below several songs that meant so much to me that first go round.  They look goofy because they’re old, but I still love them.

 

For the day your identity quits working for you

6258656303_29f94663c5_o

Today is a day of naked and unashamed.  A stripping down, wiping off, laying aside sort of day. Demands for time have, again, out-lasted my reserves and I can’t figure out how to get in front of it all or just on top of it for one tiny minute and just when I think I might; well, life.

I know too well the cycle in my own life of picking up, putting on, and parading about in my own plans and identities before tossing them right back onto the floor.

It’s the kind of dance we do in front of our closets in the fall, when the weather changes with the hour hand.

Sometimes I feel like what I write in this place is a pronouncement of my next failure because I’m eager to share the ideas I’m processing right now, in real time.  But then life happens and sometimes the stories aren’t mine to share but they still  deeply color my soul and leave me looking again for the sound of my voice.   Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own voice when I hear it.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  When life changes faster than you can inhale?

When you drop to the ground, gravel stuck deep in your knees and you’re forcing air out of your lungs just so they don’t explode.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to breathe.

When you  count through the pain because really, it’s been a mess for too long and surely there’s not much left to save, but you must.keep.breathing.  Sometimes our choice to keep going is a lifeline for someone else.  

When the beauty of the fall harvest is shadowed by the latest crisis and you’re taking care of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g because that’s what you always do, but you keep hearing that sound.  You wonder what it is.

Days go by as you put one weary foot in front of the other and you wake up one morning and realize, it’s crying. Someone’s crying.  And then you realize, it’s you.   Sometimes we walk through life so numb that we don’t recognize the sound of our own cries.

There are days when death grips life fiercely, the moment of a diagnosis or divorce decree or the disorientation of watching a child deal with disappointment and feeling for the love of all things adolescent, that you just can’t peel your own disappointment apart from theirs.

Maybe there hasn’t been a moment for you.  Maybe, it’s been  thousands of moments when hope fights for breath but deep inside you know it’s a loosing battle. You just can’t face it yet, but you know if you sit really still and you’re really honest?  You know there’s a day coming that you won’t be able to hold it all together.  You also know that once the lid’s off from that mess?  You’ll never get it back on.

Our lives change on dimes and in decades and we’re all left standing, at some point, in front of a closet packed with possibility, decisions and  disappointments piled at our feet. We never know what a day will bring and that’s why it feels risky to write here, but it’s good for me because it keeps me evaluating the level of truth I’m feeding into my own soul.

I know my own tendency to live unaware of the life playing out in front of me as I choose pleasant subtitles for some of the uglier unfinished scenes in my life.  Scenes that force me to face fear, loss of control, shame.

 

Pain will happen, we just don’t have one little say in that.  But we do get to choose what we do with it. We have the choice to allow it to strengthen us, make us wise,  and bind us to other people as we share what hurts the most in life; or we can push it down, ignore it and remain blind to the ache of life that is humanity.

I’ve had to learn to ask God to help me know what’s  real in my life. On the heels of that prayer is the one where I ask for help knowing what comes next.  It’s been a radically different way to pray, to live. The pain is absolutely still there but it’s easier to see my way through it.

It’s not my job to fix it for my disappointed kid.  I get to help my children learn how to get through life.  I hope I’m teaching them that sometimes God fixes things for us and sometimes he walks through things  with us.

I’m not responsible for filling in gaps in a one-sided relationships. Several are in the process of changing right now and some have died off but you know what?  God has brought me fulfilling new ones  as I’ve learned to rest the weight of who I am on him, instead of them.

It’s not my job to keep all the plates spinning anymore.  They’re dropping one by one, but it’s not undoing me.  In fact, I’m becoming more  me than ever  as I  purpose to use my time intentionally.

Pain wraps its way around hope as we strengthen  our identity  in Christ.  Then,  the most amazing thing happens.  Hope begins to incubate.   It grow and settles into the deepest parts of us, shoving out piles of shame. And after we stretch reaching to open the new doors in front of us,  once we’re strong enough, we throw out ill-fitting identities and find new ones more comfortable than we ever thought possible.

 

The silent ring of rhythm

Our family is experiencing changes faster than the post office raises rates.

Adjustments to our new schedule carry both widening space to exhale and twinges of tightness as old patterns of thinking and living become too small for a new routine.  

I hear  coffee chug, steep and steam at the fifth hour.

There are still three more before he leaves.  

Number one son rises, silent, at the sixth hour and there are two more before he leaves.

Number two daughter wakes with words to spare at the seventh and there is one more before he leaves.

Number three son, always the wild card, bounds down the hallway and there’s still time for one more cup before he leaves.  

He’ll return before dark.  There will be lessons, meets, dinner, and homework before the order will reverse and they return to their beds hour by hour.

Can you hear it?

The deep driving rhythm of a daily routine drawing straight lines around a dashed life.

It’s difficult to keep life between the lines when they’re invisible.  In our old, non-routined life, it seemed as if each time I caught a solid glimpse of steady, a giant eraser would  drop from the sky leaving behind gaping holes, interruptions and life-sized eraser jib.

These are changes that can’t be heard with a neighboring ear.  These are the kind that can only be felt in the center of a family and they have me drawing sheer panels over my windows and silencing iCalls.

A good friend once told me that she could sense my pregnancies, before we’d announced them, by my silence.   In the extremes of life, I tend to draw inward.  I’ve come to understand that honoring my soul means to give it space to process both heartbreak and elation.

Time alone, to silence the voices from the outside, allows us to walk through our own feelings and clearly sense the voice of God, in the middle of change.

As a verbal processor prone to indulgent self-doubt, I tend to over-share.  I’ve learned the hard way that my emotional acuity remains pliable in times of transition when I give myself room to organize my thoughts. Time to pull apart layers of complex feelings, that when left unprocessed, form fiery licks of anger and cold, slimy contempt.

I haven’t always known this and spent years looking to friends and family for affirmation of my own perceptions and experiences.    Verbal affirmation is heroin for my people- pleasing addiction.   Learning to batten down the hatches has taught me to take my feelings of scrambled anxiety to the feet of Jesus and keep looking straight at him as my emotional DT’s subside.

I’ve learned to know and love myself in new ways by valuing how I’ve been created.  And I’m beginning to love my family differently, better, as we dance behind drawn curtains to the beat of new lines and the occasional iRing.

Time alone quote

Falling apart for the sake of Real.

She feels things very deeply.  My daughter was about four months old when a friend offered un-tethered perspective to the escalation of her newish-born cries and my inability to soothe them.

It would be a long time before I gained perspective on my own feelings buried deep.

Five hundred and nineteen months before my cries reached a fevered pitch that slowed into mournful acceptance.

When the only thing you ever feel is anger…….

          Always anger

          Only Anger

          Only all-the-time anger

You forget that there’s anything else to feel.

Or, maybe you never knew in the first place.

you have to keep breaking

After five hundred and nineteen months. The tiniest tip of a needle reached through a hairline crack in the armor of my heart.  I was surprised to find it beating behind barricades of anger and deep disappointment.

I guarded it closely.

I had no idea that a shattered heart could be so sacred, hold such hope.

Can you cherish heartbreak?

Can the very poison you’ve quarantined  for 43 years be the medicine that heals?

When you’ve spent your whole life looking for something that you thought didn’t exist, and you find it? You take a lesson from Mary.

She  treasured all those things in her heart.   I treasured discovering mine for the first time.

There were tears and songs and  moments of sweet sadness I’d never felt before.  Because when you’re heart cracks and spills out all over, you finally feel alive.

And when you’re heart breaks for the first time, you discover there is intrinsic value in your soul.  A value separate from serving, attending, giving and loving.  A value disconnected from any action verb at all.  A value that rests solely on your state of being.

When it’s just you and your powdered heart and the God who created the precious thing in the first place, you’d be a fool not to store up that treasure.

 

you are valuable and loved simply because you are

So  I wrapped myself up in the hurt.I wasn’t hiding or wallowing,  I was finally feeling.

I honored my heart by giving it the space it needed. There were few reasons to go out there, and so I didn’t.

I found out that I could love my family better while expecting  less of myself.

I found out I had never before believed myself worthy of heartbreak, only worthy of spinning porcelain plates.

Forever laboring and twirling and somersaulting and jumping to  keep the plates spinning. All day, all night, fingers stretched a little higher to keep it all together.

But when the feel of Real reached down between the cracks of shame, it was finally time let the Lenox shatter.

The people pleasing.

The nodding at others.

The nodding  in the mirror.

The smile because that’s what you do while you’re dying on the inside.

It was finally time to let the whole thing crash and crumble too the ground  so that the powdered  parts of a real heart soaked with tears could begin to be molded, to take a different shape.

I sat in quiet. Listened to  music. Gave myself permission to feel in the absence of words that I didn’t bother to uncover.

I found that when you’re alone with your heart for the first time, the merciless need to explain yourself falls right to the floor.  It was the first time in five hundred and nineteen months that I didn’t need to give, or receive a nod.

When you’re introduced to yourself  for the first time, you finally feel understood.

 

The ways that our hearts can be broken are endless.    Have you ever treasured a broken heart?

Tornadoes and another world

Neighbors are sorting through debris from the EF2 tornadoes that split our town in half last weekend. They’re digging deep to recover wind whipped treasures and stained soggy  memories.

I’ve lived here my entire life but never really felt that I belong.  Could be my pride or the memories ripped from my own hands early or just the fact that we were never really created for this place.

Depends on the day.

What I do know, is that I’ve had to sort through a lot of rubble before finding any glints of treasure buried beneath the surface.

cs lewis

Last Friday after I  wrote about the darkness of it all, it seemed that heavy broken boards lifted.  I could breath and there was fresh air.  I felt  God in some crazy personal ways that I’ve treasured all week, but then I went into several days stacked high with people and the debris started to to build up again.

It seems finding the way to my heart is a lot like clean-up after the terror of a tornado. I hear cloud-wrapped cries of my own voice rise from beneath sheets of sadness, but  when I get close enough to offer a hand, the rubble shifts, a needle the widest tool that could reach between the splinters.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Maybe if the path to our hearts were clear and wide, we’d stop searching.  Maybe God knew it all along, that if we we’re strong and able to make our own way, we’d never embrace our own weakness. What if it’s really true, that his strength is only visible in our weakness.

And why do I draw back and recoil at the thought of it?

What if I felt like I belonged here and missed out on the understanding deep in my bones that I.wasn’t.made.for.this.  I was made for something else.

I was made for Him.

I’m finding my heart and digging deep through years of ruins to do it, but I’m letting go of the hope that once I find it, I’ll be at home.

It’s a new way of thinking, actually embracing the struggle and seeing it as a gift that drives me back to the feet of the Creator-Father who made it all.  One who knows how he made me and sees the shredded mess left under the trash heap in my heart  and cries right along side me because this dirty place wasn’t his plan.

I’ve had a hard time conceptualizing the aerial footage of the tornado damage that’s all over the news this week.  But when I saw the pine trees tossed all over the golf course like a lego scene destroyed by my preschooler, I understood the destruction for the first time.

The view I have of my heart is the same way.  I’ve been trying to reach the ground level from 10,000 feet. Assessing the damage from a safe distance.  But the only way to dig to the heart of the matter is standing in the middle of the mess. To be eye level with it, calling out to the voice buried deep and refusing to give up though there are weeks with no signs of life.

I’m making peace with the fact that I’ll be digging here until my days are done.  We all will. We simply were not made for this.

31 Days of Growing Up: Day 30 (almost done)

Yesterday I scrubbed my kitchen floor;  all 200 tiles on my hands and knees.   I went to bed with the thought that I might do it again today.  I was hoping to get it even cleaner.  I puffy cloud of Perfection whispered that maybe if I scrubbed it four days in a row I could be done with that job.  For the rest of ever.

growing up last

This morning I slugged toward the best part of waking up and my fuzzy polka-dot socks stuck to the floor.  Someone had splashed apple juice. My sparkly kitchen floor had become a stick zone and splashy dried juice dots separated me from my coffee.

Six hours earlier I’d caught a glimpse of shiny golden tiles paving a pathway to glory, and now, the rest of ever looked like a sticky perforated mess.

We know, in theory, that life isn’t about arriving.  But we work hard to look like we’ve got it together on the journey.  We own, with words, our lack of arrival and declare that life is about process, while we furiously try to hold it together on the DL.

Behind all the frenzy is  the unspoken goal of Perfection.

Perfection hides in all of our lives.  From House Beautiful to Hoarders, we all fall somewhere on the spectrum.  The have-it-all-together Perfectionists hear whispers  of excellence while the have-it-all-in-the-house Perfectionists hear whispers of security.

I fall in the middle, a Picky Perfectionist.  I Pick the areas of life that it benefits me to be a Perfectionist.  And Pick at everyone in my house for not measuring up.  Counter-tops anyone?  Don’t look in my hallway closet though, because I don’t Pick to have it Perfect.  If I can’t see it, I don’t care if it’s Perfect, unless it belongs to a child of mine, in which case I require Perfection.  Picky Perfectionists are fickle like that.

Whether your kitchen cabinets come sticky with a stash of papers or shiny with a hint of lemon, you need to know one thing.

Perfection is a liar.  She whispers, come a little closer, you’re almost there.

If I can just…….

Get the closet organized

Get that contract

Get this child through 6th grade

Get these bills paid

Get through this day

Get the living room decorated

Get him to understand

Get the baby potty trained

Get the lake house

Get the bed made………..

Perfection is a puffy white cloud against a blue sky and if by chance you soar high enough to reach it, you’ll never know because you can’t touch the edge of a cloud.

The opposite of Perfection isn’t Flawed Deficiency, it’s Grace.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9  

When Grace is absent, Growth stalls out.

Do you know what Perfection looks like in your life?  How would it feel to let go of it, just for today? To grab hold of Grace and let it be Enough.

You can find this entire series here.

31 Days of Growing Up: Day 29

Every season has a song.  Rhythm wrapping the heart.

Songs for every sure step, every powdered dream.

Steps and dreams sometimes suspend.

There’s a song for that too.

Music like a back-lit haze pulls me in, compels my heart to be still.

By myself, I crank it loud and feel the silence; suspended between stars, reverb drawing my heart into catatonic holiness.

Four chords carry a bridge and I’m weightless in depths of peace.  Nine minutes painting a path to eternity, muted timelessness.

A frozen moment broken with a single beat grows to two and three.

Carried to the highest of holy as the beat drives deeper giving  my own broken heart a rest.

There are times when there’s nothing more to be done.

Times for standing in the season.

Times to resist taking cover.  To feel the wind sting your face knowing that there is nothing new under the sun.

Or the stars.

Nothing in the depths that wasn’t fashioned before time.

Every drop traveling the heights to the depths washing hearts with Peace.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.

Ecclesiastes 1: 2-11

You can find this entire series here.

31 Days of Growing Up: Day 23

There were plans…..

But then life……

growing up last

I  have these sketchy ideas about homes and personal growth  and I could see them clear as day if I could just get the night vision goggles up to my eyes.

And then last night in a conversation with my husband, I compared myself to Jimmy Buffett. And Jimmy Buffett …..not my favorite.

So, plans , life and Jimmy Buffett with night vision goggles cleaning up 7 layers of dirt pudding is resulting in a detour.

Holding pearly expectations against raw reality is hard stuff.  Pay-the-bills crashes into authenticity and 12 year olds are shooting their friends and cornering them to suicide.

And there are days when the routine of it all is like acetaminophen for the soul  and days when the ache gives way and the soul sears like it’s been transplanted.  Who wants to be a grown-up then?

Today is one of those days.  A once a semester kind of day where everyone will survive if I toss out the list until tomorrow.

I’m tempted to think that I’ve earned this day, but it’s a gift and part  of growing up is learning to accept gifts. Do you accept gifts well?  Because I’m not so good at it.

I usually protest, oh you shouldn’t have.  And I insult the giver with too many words, my insecurity minimizing their graciousness.  I almost did that with this day.  Put on my big girl panties and sucked all the raw sour back up into my soul and went out there because that’s how you do life as an adult.

But that would be akin to telling a retching child the vomiting will stop if they just hold their breath.  It won’t and my gasping soul can’t breathe if I’m holding my breath.

Tweens aren’t killing people here and no one is throwing up, but when you finally get the night vision goggles to your eyes,  the searing red movement of hearts bleeding all over life is sometimes  just too much.  Sometimes you just want to  unsee.

When we’ve seen, there’s no choice.

If we’ve glimpsed wholeness the only choice is to continue growing.

But today I have a choice to give my soul space and expel the toxins. To accept the gift of time and  rain and silence.

You can find the entire series here.

31 Days of Growing UP: Day 18

My writing has been like Carmen Sandiego this week.  All over the map.  

Where-in-the-World-is-Carmen-Sandiego1

The Process, Red Letter Girl, Toggling Bobbleheads, that’s just how my brain mixes it up.

I’m a Right-Choicing Red-Letter Girl with a Wobbly Head leaning into The Process to fight my way through lies in my head in order to live out Truth in my life.  Most of the time, it’s an ugly battle.

I fight against making truthful choices because I just want someone else to do the hard stuff for me. I’m a huge baby like that.

Growth comes down to choices, but not necessarily always right ones.  Sometimes a neutral or backward choice is better than doing the Right Thing.   Every waking moment of our day holds a choice about the next task, the next errand, the next entertainment, the next relational exchange and most importantly about how we think about all those choices.

At 0500 this morning, I made the choice as I do most days.  Hit the snooze and sleep another 12 minutes. The funky junk descended around 0530 and I’m tellin you I was under it.  I sat with  my coffee and begin to untangle my thoughts.  The knots didn’t budge.

I sat down to write and the words were  dark alleys leading to mental defeat before dawn.

The choices we make when faced with destructive thoughts are the choices that count the most.  

Mentally right-choicing our thoughts is something I believe that’s under our control.  But I’m an overly-deep feeler and often, I have to dump the mental right choice in favor of  rebooting the whole system.

Let me explain how I did that this morning. The  words didn’t come and I had a self-imposed writing deadline, I was under the funky junk and round two of get-em-out-the-door was almost ready to start.  I had a choice. To trudge on, uphill, in skates, on a glacier.  Or reboot.

Sometimes we have to stop making forward progress to actually see growth.

I had 16 minutes before I had to wake the next child, so I  chose to lay on the couch for 12 of those minutes  thinking about nothing but my breathing.

A system reboot.

By giving myself the time to regroup and making a conscious choice to let the funk go, I gave God the space to do his thing in the supernatural realm allowing his spirit to be my fuel.

 It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil—for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.  

Psalm 127:2

I this this scripture in Psalm speaks to our motivation.  If we are motivated to Right Choice our way through our life,  God calls that anxious toil.  The thought of the phrase anxious toil makes my neck hurt.

God want us to rest in the growth that comes through trusting completely in him, not our own efforts. We experience his rest when we  reboot.

If growth is like the wheels on a  train, a reboot is like the axle that propels the wheels forward. By taking the time to reboot, it  appears as though we’ve lost ground, looks like we’re moving backward.  But that backward movement ends up propelling us forward.

It’s a double-back to pick up pieces dropped. A regathering.

Rebooting can be a song, or a coffee.  A short drive or 2 minutes in the closet, with the light off, hiding. It can be a deliberate 10 second walk to the other room or  an overnight away. A phone call to a friend or one of my favorites, the Costanza method – Serenity Now.

Do you have deliberate ways that you reboot your system?  Do you call it something different?  Would you consider sharing what works for you?

This weekend, I’ll be posting some links that I use to reboot.  I hope you’ll stop by. If you’re enjoying this series, if you follow my blog, new posts will come directly to your inbox.  You can unsubscribe at any time.

You can find the rest of this series here.