We Are Better Than the Bad Things That Have Happened to Us


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We are not the sum of our experiences but they are a major molding factor. I’m not very old yet and I have been very blessed. But every life has its hurts and hang-ups. These are the worst times in our lives but they are the most formative. These are the moments that make or break us.

I’m a survivor. I always have been. I don’t know how to be anything else. My mom was an alcoholic during my middle school and high school years. As if those years aren’t hard enough her illness didn’t help. My dad worked two jobs to support us and mom was falling apart so I became the adult. I became the parent. My brother rejected this role change. We grew apart. My mom failed to commit suicide twice in 30 days. I blamed myself. I had failed everyone I loved. I wanted to give up. I was only 16.

My mom, my best friend, was killing herself some days more aggressively than others and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t fix it. She wasn’t the only one who couldn’t deal with her life. I wanted to die just to make the pain stop. I wanted the ground to swallow me, to find some shadow to hide in, to stop being me. I won’t say the only thing that stopped me was the fear of ultimate failure but that was one of the biggest reasons. I think God decided no one was getting a free pass that year and kept us all alive. I knew I was a failure but if I took the cowards way out I knew with every aching fiber of my miserable body that I would be responsible for my mother’s death. I couldn’t stand the thought of doing that and leaving my dad and brother alone. I couldn’t do it.

When God created me he made me stubborn. It’s a family trait and I have it in spades. I’m pretty sure he made me stubborn beyond reason. Looking back I know now that my mom’s illness was not my fault nor can I claim her sobriety my victory. It’s always been hers. People have told me all my life that because of how I handled things I was strong, that I was a trooper. My silent response was always, “was there a choice?” I never said it out loud because with stubbornness came pride and my struggles were my own. I had to be strong for the people around me. I couldn’t admit to failure or defeat. I soldiered on because it was all I knew how to do.

What did I learn since then? I learned that I can’t control other people. Their actions are not my fault. I learned that God is always there no matter how dark my life gets. No matter how alone I feel I know he’s there. I learned that I don’t have to deal with my pain alone. It is ok to admit weakness. It is not defeat. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Failure isn’t always bad. Failure kept my mom alive. I learned that you never know how strong you are until being strong is all you have, and when that isn’t enough God is there to carry you through.

I’m Sorry…If I Have To Be


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“I’m sorry” is something our parents forced us to say when we knocked a sibling over, took their stuff, or invaded their privacy. An apology can’t be forced though. It is more than the two words “I’m sorry.”  An apology is a promise to be better than what we are apologizing for. There is not only an element of repentance and reconciliation but restitution. That is what makes true apologies so difficult. It requires something of us, a sacrifice. It means we have skin in the game.

While repentance can’t be forced, restitution can. Which is why today’s society lives by the motto: deny, deny, deny. We no longer accept the consequences of our actions. We mumble “I’m sorry” if forced and move on. Is this the legacy we want for our children, a legacy of subterfuge and blame? If we don’t keep each other accountable how can we hold them accountable? And if we don’t hold them accountable for their actions how can we protect them?

I am not the leader type. I can do it. I have personality traits suited to it but I don’t like it. I would rather back someone I believed in. But I believe in leading by example and if no-one steps up then I will. I want my child to be different, to do the right thing even when it’s hard. I want her to be everything I wish I was, which means I have to try first. And that also means I am never allowed to mumble the words “I’m sorry” again. I have to mean them.

News and Our Legacy


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If copycat shootings and underage drunk and disorderlies are making news I think we need to redefine what news is. People are so hungry to get their fifteen minutes of fame, to be acknowledged, and to be heard that the lasting consequences of their actions seem to be lost on them. They trade fifteen minutes of fame for fifteen to life in prison. Is it worth it? But we as a capitalist society give them what they want because it sells. We feed off of the drama. It’s sad and degrading.

When did people and lives become nothing more than letters in a headline? Why do we feed the negativity around us instead of building each other up and watching each other’s backs? When was the last time you read a news story or heard a blurb on tv about neighbors watching each other’s houses while they are vacationing or getting together to clean up or build a park? How can we make the world a better place if only the squeaky wheel gets the attention?

We take our families and our safety for granted. One day it could be our lives or deaths splashed across the headlines we pay to read. Is that how we want to be remembered? Maybe we should redefine news and our legacy.

Fight, Flight, Fear, and God


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There are two basic responses to fear: fight or flight.

Fight: Face your fear, do something about it, acknowledge it.

Flight: Ignore it, take away its power, run from it.

Nothing is ever black and white for me. It all ranges in shades of gray. Not 50 Shades of Grey, that’s a whole other blog post.  I wish I could pick a strategy and stick with it but life doesn’t work that way. There are times when the best course of action against fear is to ignore it. Irrational fears and the what if’s are a good place to start ignoring them. Whenever I get freaked out by all the things that can go wrong I have a sort of mantra.

“I will not say what I fear. I will not give them names. I will not make them like people whom I owe loyalty and carry their spirits with me. Even monsters under the bed have nightmares and I’m pretty sure they’re about my God.”

A lot of the time fear sucks our energy, concentration and focus. If we simply ignore it and refuse to let it have power over us we can move past it and use our energy for better more enjoyable things. However, as much as I wish this were the once and done solution, there are times when fear needs action.

Fear isn’t always a bad thing. Fear can keep us safe. It tells us walking down a dark alley alone is a bad idea and that fire, unchecked, can hurt us. Fear hones our instincts. It makes our hearts beat faster, pumping more blood to our brains for better processing. If someone breaks into your house and attacks you fear calls for adrenaline which can give you extra strength and speed to do what must be done to keep you safe.

Then you throw God into the mix. He promises to protect his children. He has a good plan for our lives, not to harm us but to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future. I have never been good at deciding which course of action is the best for which situation. How much do I step back for and trust God to take care of and how much does He expect me to fight with Him? I suppose the point is I’m not alone either way.

Life, Strength, and Crime Dramas


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I like crime dramas. No surprise there for those who know me. I like the drama, the story, the plot. I’m drawn in by the insight into human nature even as twisted as it is. Most of it ties up neatly unlike real life. You get closure. It makes you appreciate what you have and makes you hold your children and loved ones that much tighter.

I will admit they make me a little paranoid if I’ve been binging. I can’t watch an episode where a child is kidnapped or harmed without crying or sneaking up to the nursery to check on my own. It is scary seeing what people are capable of. But I guess I like to see how people react. Bad situations can break people. We’ve all seen it happen. But they can also make us stronger, kinder, more compassionate and understanding. Sometimes it is the hardest, ugliest times in our lives that make us better people because we refuse to give up.

My mom was an alcoholic when I was growing up and it was painful and hard. Now that she is sober again those are years she wishes she could take back and do over. No one wants to hurt the ones they love. No one wants to admit they are broken. She says she’s sorry for putting me through all that and I tell her I’m not. And I mean it. I hated every minute of it. It hurt and I still have emotional scars that I will probably carry my whole life. But those dark moments made me who I am today and I’m ok with that. When things get hard and I worry that I will buckle under the stress or that my heart will shatter into a million pieces never to be rebuilt, I remember everything I have been through and how God brought me through it all. He has always been faithful, why would He stop now? I remember just how strong I can be when I have no other choice. I’m just too stubborn to roll over and die.

Crime dramas remind me of how good I had/have it even when it’s ugly. They make me think. I know, thinking is dangerous; it can set your hair on fire. I guess I’m a bit strange, always have been. I kind of like that raw emotion feeling, like rubbing sandpaper on exposed nerves. It hurts but it lets me know I’m alive and strong. I have been so depressed that I didn’t feel anything. The numbness almost scared me but even the fear was sucked into my oblivion. After escaping that, even pain is an acceptable reminder of what I have and how precious it is. So, in short, my obsession with crime dramas may be dark but it’s only because it makes me see the light so much brighter by comparison.

Love First, Love Often


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I met a couple last week who reminded me of something important. At our base level, strip away everything that makes us different and you get a need to be loved and accepted. Those who are different in more socially unacceptable ways wear this need on their sleeves. They haven’t found love and acceptance where most of us have so they’ve deviated in their desperation. How many of us have compromised our values, our personalities, and dreams to be liked? It doesn’t stop in high school either. I find myself in constant revision. So who am I to judge?

“I don’t want to say that because they will think I’m lame or stupid or a prude.”

“I don’t want to do that because I’ll look foolish.”

Christians can be a terrible bunch of judges. We hold up a measuring stick to ourselves and those around us. But the comforting thing about being a Christian is that Christ says, “God doesn’t look at the outside but at the heart.”

What are your intentions, your dreams, your ambitions? God could care less about what your hair looks like or who you’re crushing on as long as your heart and your passions are in the right place. God loves us for who we are, warts and all. We are imperfect beings. We fail and make mistakes but God loves us anyway no matter what. Why can’t we do that for other people?

One of my favorite quotes is from a pastor. “God loves you the way you are but too much to leave you that way.” Step number one in changing someone’s heart: love them for who they are. Be a decent person. You can’t pick a random person off the street and tell them what they are doing is wrong and expect them to just change because you said something. You need to love them first. Jesus did. Lepers, prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors where the common crowd around Jesus. He didn’t put a hand out and say, “You heathens, change your ways or else.”

He invited them to follow him. He shared meals with them. He healed them and the ones they loved. That is the hard part, the messy part, the part other people see and wonder if you’ve lost your mind. The most important part is showing love to those who need it most, to the people who may be difficult to love.

My husband told the couple I mentioned earlier, that I was very religious so when I met them they were almost afraid of me. They have come to associate religion and Christianity with judgment. When we got to talking and they realized I was just as normal and human as them the relief was tangible. It’s really sad when you have to footnote your beliefs and say you’re the odd kind of Christian who actually tries to follow Christ and love people first while withholding judgment. Do I agree with their lifestyle? No. To I care enough to want them to change? Better question do I care enough to love them where they are until they ask me why? Love people first then when they ask why you treat them differently than others treat them your testimony will have credibility instead of being a bludgeon. Food for thought.

The Lord’s Prayer Pants


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To those who grew up with it, the Lord’s Prayer is a beautiful, comfortable prayer, like a favorite pair of jeans. It is so familiar but do we realize all the promise this prayer holds? Do we realize the potential for the life we can life while wearing those comfortable pants? Not every part of our lives will be comfortable. There will be good days but also bad days. There will be break-ups, car wrecks, and job loss. There will be pain and tears.

Jeans are sturdy pants. They protect us from spills off a bike and trips on the sidewalk when we start moving too fast. The Lord’s Prayer is a promise we can keep coming back to when we are unsure, unsteady, and afraid.

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:9-13 KJV).

This old, familiar, comfortable prayer shows us who is in control, what we are a part of, how we are taken care of and reminds us once again who is in control. I know that is one thing that really gets me. I keep forgetting who is in control or I keep trying to wrestle it away from God so I can control what I can’t. God even has forgiveness built into this prayer. He accepts us for who we are despite what we do. The next time you slip into your favorite pair of well worn jeans, think about the Lord’s Prayer in terms of the here and now. See how it changes your perspective on life.

First 4th of July


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The 4th of July has come and went and with it the joys and the stresses. How easy it is to get caught up in preparations and distractions and forget the meaning behind the holiday. Normally I take a moment to thank those in my family who have served but I forgot. I got busy. I got buried in the freedoms paid for by those who served. My apologies.

Thank you to the men and women who serve this beautiful, flawed country and the families who support them. As badly as I believe we are flawed as a nation, this is the only home I’ve known and I am proud to be an American. I may not stand behind those who lead this country but I stand 100% behind those who protect it.

I am grateful that my daughter, who turns one year old this month, can grow up in a country where she doesn’t have to worry about being sold or traded like property. Where she can play with others of different cultures and learn alongside her peers. She doesn’t have to worry about what she wears (those goodness knows I will). And she is free to chose what she has faith in. America may be flawed but it is still the land of the free where she can make her own choices and be who she wants to be. May this be the first of many to come where she learns what freedom means and what it costs.



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Dreaming is fun. I like pretending that owning certain things and doing certain things are possible. To plan the whole thing out, like what would I do if I won a million dollars? First thing would be to pay off the student loans, then the house, and the car, save a bunch and invest some. Of course we would blow some of it too. Who wouldn’t, just to celebrate?

My dad and I like to go window shopping. We look at all the expensive kitchen appliances we have no money to buy and no room to put. We love doing the parade of homes together, just looking at these crazy nice houses with more space than we’d know what to do with. Sometimes we find ideas that we can modify for our own little sanctuaries.

Sometimes when you are mapping the dream in your head you start to think, hey, this might actually be possible. Given the right dedication and planning this could actually happen. That is when the real fun starts. When you see that you aren’t stuck where you are and you can actually move up in the world even small things seem like a victory. Goals give us purpose and purpose can make us happy if we let it.

God says He knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11). He wants to bless us and give us what we want. But He doesn’t do it right away because sometimes (or most of the time) we need to adjust what we want. I’m much better at knowing what I don’t want rather than what I do want. This can be frustrating but it’s at least a start. I didn’t know what I wanted in a man until I met my husband. My mom was everything my dad wasn’t looking for in a wife and they will be going on 29 years this December. Sometimes what we think we want isn’t what will make us happy.

Dreaming can be fun. It opens up the mind to how things could be and sometimes it can change who you become. The only thing more fun than dreaming is watching the dream come true. God wants to help us make our dreams happen. So what if the dream needs adjustment. It will be worth it in the end.

Love Isn’t Average


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We all say things like we are willing to do anything for the ones we love but when we say them we mean grand gestures like taking a bullet or killing someone. It is the little everyday sacrifices that prove our love. Doing the things we don’t want to do, the mundane, the annoying, the anonymous.

A lot of us think of God in the same terms. We want to see big things from Him, we want to be part of big, flashy, glorious plans. But our love is proven when we step away from what we want and do what needs to be done. Drop food on a doorstep, hand out clothes, go to work. It’s not fun or glamorous. There is no fanfare. But love isn’t flashy. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

How many times have I heard or read those words? Right now, they hit me afresh. I am willing to do whatever I need to for my daughter because I love her. Even if it isn’t glamorous or life changing. Even if it means giving up a few hours a day to go to a dead-end job that I honestly used to enjoy but have a hard time going back to now.

Yes, I have a college degree, and yes, I am a hard worker, and yes, I deserve to be somewhere I am appreciated for my talents, somewhere I can actually be useful but until I can find that place I will make the best of what I have because I love my daughter and this is what she needs. I have never been very good with transition. I’ve probably mentioned that before. I either make the best of where I am and get comfortable or I start itching to move on. Now, I have to figure out how to do both. I need to make the best of where I am so I can do my best work, be my best self but I also need to find that place where I belong so I can quit being average.

It may sound hubristic but I was not made to be average. Maybe it isn’t, no one wants to be average. We all want to be more, do more and raise our children to achieve more than we did. We want them to be more than average. Sometimes the hardest lessons to teach are the simple ones we must live. Love isn’t average.


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