Monday, March 13, 2017

Whale Tails and Funny Feelings

I'm taking a small break. There will always seem to come times that you just have to step away. Turn off your phone, stay off your social media, keep your conversations limited. As an introvert, there are certain settings that I have perfected my little social butterfly skills and I enjoy those times tremendously, but I just can't at the moment. My thoughts tend to swirl at lightening speed and there isn't anyway my mouth can keep up. I end up spouting a typhoon or blurting enough words equivalent to the gale force winds of a tornado. I just need to swirl for a moment. And I've learned that people aren't always capable of handling that. But swirling is my coping mechanism, it's just something I have to do and I am so very grateful for the few people that the good Lord's put in my life that can handle it. The ones that can just sit, without judgment or fear, as I spiral and they are just there, listening and waiting because they love me and they know that it will stop.

Today is better. I am not spiraling. The dust of thoughts clear out and my focus returns. I think we should write about the hard things. The things that wring us out. The things that keep us up at night. Out of our greatest pain will come the biggest lessons and out of our vulnerabilities will come our largest testimonies. So here I am. Hands covered in latex paint. Waiting for my child's freshly painted bedroom to dry...typing it out.

You may ask "why do you spiral?" and the answer to that is it's because I'm feeling. Hah. I feel every soft, rounded corner and every rough, hard edge of life. Of every person. Of every other thought or feeling on the planet. I feel it. Deep inside, down to the core. The greatest lesson I've ever had to learn is that not everyone is like that and not everyone will "get" that either. I've had my bouts of insecurities about being too much of this or not enough of that, to please others. I've realized now that the very thought that I am not enough is a lie. The very idea that I am too kind or too sensitive or too emotional or too enthusiastic or too loving is bat-shit preposterous. (I actually just said that to someone) I am grateful to be able to say that. I am grateful for that revelation. I don't particularly think that the Lord would have said it like that, but I'm saying it like that...and He loves me no less for saying it as such.

It's just the hard, rough edges are a little harder to deal with in life. They're a little more difficult to wrap my loving little mind around. But...that is life. I have these times that I question who I am and what I'm about. I wonder what the purpose was and what would it be like if I were different. At those times, I have to step back. I have to re-adjust my focus. And in my own little spiraling tornado way, I have to find my way back. I have to be led back to the Rock.

Part of the greatest struggles I've ever had have been with people, it's no surprise as to why I would end up being such an introvert. Haha.  I don't handle conflict well. I don't like a bunch of chaos. I don't like for people to come and go, breezing in and out of my life. I don't like changing seasons of life. I have a very difficult time with things like that. But...maybe that's part of the lesson. To realize how fleeting moments are, to understand not everyone will stay or is even meant to stay, some people actually have very little purpose in your life. And I have a hard time because I love people.

I love the heck outta people. Love is an action. Love is an action that I try, even inadvertently, to show people. Love is a verb. To me, anyway. I love and love and love. That's who I've become. I love people with encouragement, with laughter, with confidence, with affection, with everything I have. And I was not always this person. But the most dangerous mistake I could ever make would be to assume there is even one heart like mine. I mean yes, there are people like me but I should never assume that. I should never assume because it will always continue to boggle my little mind how some people will exceed the lowest, imaginable depths of stupidity, incompetence, and downright nastiness while others will exceed the highest imaginable pinnacles of kindness, compassion, and helpfulness. And the most honest reality I have is that, I am here to love. Not to deem who's worthy and who's not....but to love. And in doing that, you're bound to get wrung out every once in a while.

And being wrung out is not so bad for a girl like me....hahaha, yeah it's like being on a dadgum acid trip, if I could ever envision what that would be like. I've learned a few things being an adult. I've learned that I really in fact know nothing about nothing to start. Lol.  I've learned that time does not heal, time only makes things easier to deal with. I've learned that we are never as sad about the past as we are about the future. The "what could have beens". I've learned that not everyone even knows what love is or how to love. Everyone is singing on a different stage in life. Some may very well be belting it out in your choral but the chances of that are very slim. We learn and grow at different stages and sometimes....timing and stages are absolute killers. Haha. But I've also learned that timing has very little to do with, what's meant for me will find God's time and not mine. Trust me, we've argued and argued about it and He's not budging. Well I haven't actually argued with God but He's gotten all of me and needless to say He hasn't walked away yet. I can count on that.

I say not everyone knows what love is and you may question what do I know, knowing my past. But I can assure you I know a heck of a lot more than the average walking around bear knows. I mean there is average mediocre love walking around, that's for sure...but that's not what I'm about. I couldn't be mediocre if I tried. The only way I know anything about love is because of God's love for me. And it doesn't matter how I love, it doesn't matter how I learned, or how I will continue to be. What matters is that I continue. I do it anyway with the understanding that that's what is important because people need that. I continue learning and loving with the understanding that not everyone's gonna know how to love you back. People will offer you the "pizza" kind of love everyday. People are also gonna say they don't think they can love you...yeah, that hurts and sucks a thousand times over, but it's true. I choose to love, actively, unabashedly, wildly and fierce because He chose to love me. It's that simple.

His love does not stem from this flitty, flirty feeling that people like to think of. His love for me is sacrificial, it's ferocious and all-seeing. People say love is blind but no, infatuation is blind. Love is all-seeing and accepting, His love is not a feeling at all, His love is unconditional. His love is a choice. And I am just sad sometimes that people like the idea of love, this flitty feeling of bubbles and butterflies but that love wants the emotion...without paying anything for it.  Emotions and feelings are ever-changing. I cannot, and will not base my love on such shaky things. They are fragile and fleeting and will shatter when life is not perfect. And in knowing these things, my views and perception of love for others has changed drastically. If I cling to the belief that love is a feeling, I'm never gonna have any kind of lasting relationships with anyone. I have discovered the differences between feelings and commitments. His love has been a commitment to me...I thank Him everyday for choosing me before I was born because I'm not so sure He'd have chose me after. (I read that somewhere). His love is the love I try to offer people everyday. I am no where near perfect but I am loved and so I love the best I can, which has turned out to be a great deal.

These last few days have just been difficult, swirling around and all, because I forgot not everyone knows of God's love, not everyone's gonna love you like He does or even close to that sometimes. I'm just glad that He does. He made the choice. And this morning He reminded me of a blog I wrote and then deleted to save saving face is something I tend to do these days...hahaha. But He reminded me I am this big ol' whale tail of a girl. This giant boat-rockin' fish of a person. I can't continue in fragile moments believing that's a bad thing. I can be sad, gut-wrenching, knife through the heart sad about it but the simple truth is that no, I am not made for everyone...and that's not a bad thing, but it is a thing that's gonna take a special kind of fisherman to catch. I'm either gonna scare the pants off of somebody or nearly drown a person not meant to be in my life.

I am a big person (figuratively, I'm not speaking physically degrading) but a big person. With a big mind. A big laugh. A big mouth, at times. Big ideas. Big spiraling tornado.  Big dreams. A big, wildly colored personality (in private mostly, lol) and a big ol' heart full of big time love. There will be plenty that never love me but I'm gonna love all people anyway. Men, women and children. I will continue to love as I am loved and someday, He will put someone in my life that's not gonna wring me out, someone that's gonna look at all these big things about Emily and he's gonna choose me because of, in spite of, instead of, and even though, and anyway. I will not choose the man that gives me google eyes and funny feelings, not the one trying to rope the moon, or the one offering me the "pizza" kind of love. I will not choose the one who makes my heart flutter and my head spin. I will choose the one who knows of the "God" type love. Someone committing to finding something to adore even on the ugliest of days. If that's an impossible standard, then so be it. But I will choose the one who chooses me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Woman, Woman

Hello, hello!

Good grief, the worst trouble I have with writing is when I am not...writing.

Things change and time passes and I am busy doing a thousand things at one time. I forget. Writing takes a back seat. How can that be?? It is so very important to me, an important part of who I am...but, it happens.

It happens doing this thing called "life" and this little side gig called "mama".

But C'est la vie....

Speaking of mamas, that's what this post is about. Feel free to stop right now, if that doesn't pertain to you. lol This isn't a "which mom wears a bigger hat" post. This hasn't a thing to do with men, I love them (some when they come and some when they go of course) and I would even be willing to post on all the great and wonderful qualities of men...but at another place and time. Yesterday I had to have a small talk with my child. The day before we discussed along the same lines at work and then after work at dinner with a friend. It's a topic that I just couldn't pass up.

Mommin' really ain't the sayin' now goes.

To the moms staying at home with their wee little ones, spaghetti in your unwashed hair, trying to gather laundry in last night's pjs. To the woman going to work everyday being "mom" to hundreds of kids that ain't even her own. To the mama working a regular 40 hour a week job and going home to slave over a stove so your family can still have a home-cooked meal. To the mama who's doing it on her own. Whether you've got one child or four. Whether you're married, divorced, or single. Whether God called you to be mom in a different, un-biological have been mom to someone at some point in time. I salute you.

Brave, warrior women.

The other night at dinner my friend and I were discussing women in general. Full of love and emotion. Complex and misunderstood and even slightly confusing. Compassionate and caring but just a ball of mixed-up spaghetti emotions sometimes. Why does the Lord make women this way? What's the purpose? The purpose, I believe, is that when we are "on", when we are tuned in, when push comes to women, can be magnificent and powerful creatures. All these emotions. All the complexities, while daunting when viewed at their worst, are the tools we need to be the exact people we are meant to be. Women are capable of great understanding, great love, and great mercy. God must have had a great plan for making women exactly as they are.

But if you're a woman like me, sometimes along the way we forget that. We forget our worth, forget who we are. It can become a competition of who's the greatest mom, who has the hardest job, who should wear the biggest crown on her head. In my book though, this motherhood thing isn't a competition at all. Yes, it's true at times I will think "they have it sooo easy" (when comparing to another mother) but the truth is this motherhood, going on in my life, is my journey. It's not someone else's, just like their journey is not mine. Comparison proves useless when we all can agree to the cold hard truth that all, each and every one of us at some moment is losing their crap. Some just hide it better than others. I think the disconnect evolves just because it can be hard to relate to what's not going on in your life.  I find it hard to be relatable with a stay-at-home mom with a working husband just like she couldn't relate to being a single and divorced mom who works a regular job. Each can be difficult on a person in different aspects but that doesn't necessarily mean one life is harder than another. We are all struggling in some form or fashion. There are days that I am focused and loving. Doing this thing with a cape attached to my shirt collar. Days that I feel like I truly deserve an award for my awesomeness. I wish I was this woman for my child always. But there are also days, pitiful and impatient. I don't think I could answer another question. I'd rather burn the house down as to clean another mess. I have been so tired and worn, worried and sleepless, falling into bed and wilting into tears. I have been every bit of that woman too. And the beauty of that is I am allowed to be both women. I can be every small morsel of each woman. And that's okay. It's perfectly okay that some days I am killing it as a mom and then others...well other days I clearly haven't the foggiest idea what I'm doing.

I will always have a word of encouragement for another because that's me, I'm a natural born cheerleader. To other women and other men, to my friends and family. But my lovely, little dirty-faced rotten boy reaps most of the benefits of that. I have learned that I need to be that voice, that "cheerleader" for myself as well though when there have been times that I wouldn't have. So when that dirty-faced boy whines and complains about having to go to school on my day off from work, I have to set him straight on just what actually takes place on that day. I will chalk his "I just watch TV all day" comment up to him being eight years old and clueless instead of the disrespect it sounded like but...I'm not raising my son to grow up and act as if he wasn't ripped out of this woman. lol.

It's only by the grace of God and an education that I can even afford to be off a day during the work week. It's a luxury that I'm grateful for, no matter what has to happen on that day. At one time I would have thought and felt like I had a world full of struggles but I refuse to look at it that way. My journey, my journey is one for the strong and that's how I shall look at it instead. I was up by 5 am. Fixed my coffee, took the dog outside (oh yes, I have a dog...she's lovely but she's also about killed me), and fed her. I sat down with her at my feet and had my daily devotion/prayer time...and I cried. I have so many conversations with God that lead to tears, if I knew He didn't see me elsewhere, He would think I had issues. lol. Happy tears, sad tears, overwhelmed tears, angry tears (those are bad)..He gets them all. But I sat there gathering my composure with feelings of relief and encouragement, thanking Him for lifting the weight I sometimes tend to carry until I realize it's time to get going. I get Leon up and ready for school and out the door in one swift motion. I return home and notice the rain gutter on the back of the garage must be clogged, rain is spewing out the end cap. I pull into the garage, wrap my scarf around my head like a covering and grab the ladder. No better time to stop that clog than when it's raining. I climb onto the roof and commence to gutter cleaning at 8 am in the pouring rain. Water came rushing out like I'd opened a flood gate. The dog is barking at the dining room window tearing the curtains, girl I am not hurt just yet. I went inside and toweled off. I change bed sheets, I can't stand the thoughts of sleeping in dirty sheets. I start and later finish laundry including the dog's bedding. I dust. I run the vacuum through the entire downstairs because I'm a little neurotic and spifts of dog hair hurt me. lol I put small forgotten toys away. I put laundry away. I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the floors, polished the hardwood and closed the dog and I off into the bathroom for me to shower while the floors dried.....all before 11 am. I paid bills. I ran errands. I went to the grocery store and put all that away before picking my child up at school. Just so he can complain he went to school and I watched TV all day. lol.

My house is clean. My bills are paid. Supper is cooked. My child's homework is complete and multiplication flash cards have been gone through. I did forget one small detail from school but hey, no one is perfect and no one died. lol ( should I laugh about that?? it was a joke) But this story is my journey. This is an example of who I a woman and as a mother. I am a woman that gets her stuff done. I'm an over-achiever making crazy Christmas candy sleighs for kids at school. I am a go-getter and a rabble rouser, cleaning her house and gutters, painting her bathroom floor and replacing the blasted electrical outlets. I plumb, I bake the best darn cupcakes in town, I mend ripped jeans and sew pillow covers. I push mow the lawn and make art for fun. I read in the middle of the night. We do spelling words while Leon is in the shower and I'm folding towels or he's yelling them out the back door while I'm outside with the dog. Sometimes I have even found the time to run on the treadmill. Obviously not much these days...but I have! (don't doubt, lol) Besides being at a complete physical loss in garage door repair, there is little that I cannot do. And what I cannot do, I have learned to do...even the hard way  (ie, replacing ancient faucets can sometimes cause rain showers in the basement when the shut-out valves are stripped from age). I have honestly thought "what in the world are you trying to prove here girl?" on occasion. But the biggest thing about me is that I love people..dearly.  Does that make me special? Of course it does. Does that mean I deserve a cookie? Nope. No because I have also screamed at my child. I have even cussed a little (shocker I know right?!?) I am also stubborn and relentless. A bit of a perfectionist. I have shed tears for no apparent reason. I am also a bit of a nut-case. A lovely one, but still...nut case. Hahaha.

I am a divorced and single mama. I have one child and one large dog. (Sometimes it feels like 3 children and 2 dogs). Did I plan on any of that? No...I didn't. But this is my life and my journey and after 32 years I have decided I should be proud of the woman I am and the mother I try my darnedest to be. God makes each of us so very uniquely different to equip us for the lives set before us. I am worthy and capable. I am slightly dangerous in that I need and rely on no one but God. I am willing and strong enough to seem invincible because of Him. But the truth is...every single one of us are. Every mother who's burned dinner and cried herself to sleep. Every woman who's felt like she's lost her mind in the refrigerated section at Wal-mart. Every woman who's provided for her family with mere pennies in the bank. Every woman who's had to be her own knight in shining armor. Every mother who has thought her best wasn't good enough....

You are good enough. You've not screwed it all up. I am here, praying that God's light would shine upon your face. We are all just women, just mothers and daughters and sisters and friends, doing the best we can with what the Lord's provided and it will be okay in the end. Successful women, successful mothers are just the ones that never gave up. And when I look at things now I cannot help but be thankful I am exactly the way I am. I just want you to feel that way too. Women are such fiercesome things to behold. The good, the bad, the spaghetti and meatballs plate of emotions. Every woman is a super hero of sorts. And every woman should at least be able to count herself the heroine in her own story.

So here's to the great days and the bad days. The normal and overwhelming. The super woman days and the real and crazy motherhood days. To the women loving others unconditionally. To the mothers who make broken look beautiful. To the teachers, the chauffeurs, personal chefs, and money tree mamas. To the monster slayers and the plumbers and lost toy finders. To the nose blowers and snot wipers. The ones taking care of patients or students. To the woman worrying over sick babies. To the woman who makes the universe look like a pair of wings on her shoulders. To the ones doing their best with what they have. To the life changers and the chaos tamers. The amazing. The impatient. The compassionate and graceful. The emotional. The tired but hopeful....women. May you realize just how wonderful you are.

Take care of your thoughts mama.

Monday, November 21, 2016

No Such Thing

No is actually an answer.

Sometimes we forget that.

If something doesn't sit well with us, if it doesn't make us feel good, if it hurts our little feelings, if we don't like the actual answer...sometimes we're prone to pretend there wasn't an answer at all.

Somehow our culture has developed into this fragile group of people. A culture where feelings and emotions rule over everything without any regard to the fickle nature of each. It's self-absorbed in feeling good. I demand to be loved. I demand to be accepted. I insist on being told Yes, Yes, and Yes.

For those like me trying to let their little Jesus light shine, the message of love and acceptance is there. God will hold more love for me than I could ever imagine. His affections for me are more than I could ever fathom....but that doesn't always mean He's gonna say "yes".

The child that's never reprimanded, the child that's never scolded or told "no", is also the child that has been done a grave injustice. Imagine spotting my child sticking his finger on a hot stove burner....if I scold him, I might hurt his little feelings for a moment, but his finger's not going to be burnt. If he wants to head outside in the freezing cold with shorts and a t-shirt and I say "Ok sweetie"....what kind of actual parent am I being?!?

God is the same in some ways.

I was having a conversation in my ladies sunday school class. We kind of dance to the beat of our own little Jesus drum. We've been doing this study on "Managing Your Emotions" (wow, I know right?!?! Women and their's a crazy little thing sometimes) but we drifted off on this tangent about unanswered prayers.

In my mind, there isn't such a thing. But to some, they would think "well God hasn't answered my prayers, I'm just not gonna pray anymore"....well was it actually that He didn't answer or He didn't answer the way you wanted??

It seems sometimes we're waiting for Him to answer how we would like.

It doesn't work that way. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you would perceive it, He's not just going to give us what we want. Honestly I thank Him for that because sometimes I have wanted something so bad in the moment, I could taste, I could envision it, I could see it happening..only to look back and think "Thank you Lord, I have no idea whatsoever, what I was thinking in that moment in time." Lol.

My bible study this morning led me to the same train of thought. In Matthew 20 Jesus is talking about "servant leadership" (??yeah, that's a good term I guess.) Those that desire to be great must become servant first. (A whole other topic of conversation that the general people could never grasp) But in verse 20 a mother comes to Him asking something from Him. (She would have actually been Jesus's aunt I believe but don't quote me on that) She asks that her sons may sit on the right and left hand of Him in His kingdom. I think about the courage and boldness that would've taken to ask such of Jesus and then to hear His simple response of "no". He told her in verse 22, "you do not know what you ask".

And very simply put, sometimes we do not know what we ask. We do not know the magnitude of the requests we make or the affect of Him granting our every desire would have on our lives. We think that because His answer is not what we want, that He didn't answer. But there is always an answer. It's either yes, not yet, or no I have something better in mind. A "no" from God is nothing more than a redirection.

Not everything we want is beneficial for our lives. Everything does seem kind of cloudy at times. A foggy mirror. But I cannot believe in God without believing He also knows the plans He has for me...already made. Who am I to say I know what's best over God?? I am not...that person. I haven't the slightest idea what's best at times. And I'll usually fail if I try and act like I know. Haha.

It makes me really think deeply about the prayers I've been praying over my life and others that I pray for. When we don't see things happening as we think they should, we wonder why God is tarrying around...maybe He's not tarrying at all. The author of my study wrote that she'd prayed specifically for a dear single friend of hers, for Him to put a Godly man in her friend's life....she wondered why God hadn't followed through only to realize God didn't follow through with her friend's companion because He was busy drawing her friend near to Him. We see one thing....God may see something completely different. The mother from Matthew 20, she didn't know the weight of her request. Were her sons able to drink from the same cup as Jesus? Would they be willingly crucified as well?

Now I have also stubbed up. I have been angry, I'll even say that. I have asked "why" until I realize....although I may not "like it" in the moment, although I may not understand at times, I have to believe God knows exactly what He's doing. If He says "yes" that's great, if He says "wait", then I must learn to appreciate the power of patience, and if He says "no", well I must believe it's for a very good reason, whether clear to me or not.

But there are no such things as unanswered prayers my friends. No such thing.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Emily, Jenny, and the Toes Shoes-Hiking the Pinnacles

went hiking today for the first time in my adult life. 

I remember going as a child down below my granny's farm, trekking through the woods, hunting for dry land fish (which is actually mushrooms I believe, for those that don't know)....and I hated it. Lol I was a child, and a child that hadn't grown up doing that sort of trapsing across the countryside on a regular basis, no wonder I hated it. I'd sit on a stump complaining no doubt, waiting impatiently as if being in the woods was torturous. I missed the point as a child. 

A couple of weeks ago a very good friend of mine messaged asking me if I enjoyed the outdoorsy thing, did I like to hike. Honestly I had thought it seemed like something that I, as an adult, would enjoy doing but remember I'm a single woman, and a mama of an eight year old to boot; although the thought was nice, it's not something I find myself getting the chance to do that often. I wouldn't say I'm that big of an outdoorsy person but I am always up for an adventure. I am always up for trying something new. When was the last time you did something for the first time?? There are many things I'd like to try or things I'd like to accomplish or experience...I would love to have my own paddle board, go hiking, kayaking or canoeing, but I'd also love to rip the carpet up off my stairs and have my own herb garden. Haha It seems the older I get, the more adventurous I've become altogether, so when a chance for something new came along I said "Yes, of course! I'd love to go."

So my good friend and I set out on our adventure this morning. Our heads and hearts eager for the open air. Backpacks of water and energy/protein bars, bug spray and bandaid kits, a snake bite kit and a pocket knife....and my trusty toes shoes. Haha. 

*Side note- these shoes have seen more miles, they've carried me over more ground in my running days and gotten more action than any pair of shoes should ever better way to finally bust out and rip the seam, no better end to a good pair of minimalist shoes than by starting a new adventure. (I noticed the tear when I got home, and I ain't even sad) 

I could break things down action by action but I won't. It was a little difficult at times. It was quite steep on occasion. And I'm a little out of shape. Lol It was hot. It was in the woods with bugs and ticks and acorns and snakes...yes, we did see a snake. But it was lovely....

It was quiet. There were a couple times we completely lost fellow hikers and wondered where in the world they went. Lol. There we were, this friend and I, trekking through the woods and weeds in search of higher ground. Don't get me wrong I love to talk but I also love the quiet. The stillness of the surroundings. Some people find silence awkward but she and I do not. We chatted a little. Laughed and snapped pictures. But we walked for the longest time in the quiet of the trees making our way throughout the trails. There is something so refreshing and awakening about that. 

The purpose of the hike it to reach the magnificent destination. To the top. To the waterfall. To the end. But the journey is the part that's always underestimated. During the journey you're focused on what you're doing in that moment. You look away, and you're gonna trip. You look too far ahead and it'll seem like it's too much. You look back and you might get scared. You focus on what you're doing in that moment. And in that moment I don't hear any negative. I didn't see any sad. I didn't feel any heartache. I wasn't thinking of news or politics or death or anything of the like. And I lost it. I forgot the things that seem to weigh me down at times. I carry this big old world around in a knapsack slung across my shoulders and just being able to walk away from it, to leave it behind, to put my focus elsewhere out in the open air...well that's a feeling of release I don't get that many times. 

We walked and walked and walked some more. We reached the end of one trail and would turn and head down another. And there's something so satisfying, some feeling of accomplishment, and some form of peace...reaching the top, looking out from above. Views of rolling hills as far as you could see, the hustle and bustle of the small town below in the distance, blue skies for miles and miles. Of course we'd snap our pictures and oh and ah but then we silently sat, eating our protein bars taking in the view. It really was amazing. The way the sun would cast its light through the clouds to the hills and valleys below...the variations of clouds. I am a "look at the moon and stars" type person....of course I'm gonna enjoy a wonderful mountain view. 

We walked for four hours. We were actually astonished as we looked across from one pinnacle to another, how far we'd travelled. 7.59 miles overall on today's hike. That was no where near shabby, I didn't think for my first hiking journey. We climbed some pretty steep hills, over rocks, and atop boulders to take in the best views. I was pretty proud of this gal and I. 

I'm pleasantly surprised laying on the couch freshly showered, wet head, with my feet propped up....I am tired but at the same time I feel so rested. That's the oddest thing....I guess you do find yourself in the outdoors. 

I look forward to many more excursions. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This Tree and Me

Being a writer is the most torrid love affair I've ever had. I have hated it and yet, needed it at the same time. I will become angry and leave only to return time and again. But with courage, I always come back. I have scrapped more pages, more stories than I care to remember because it's the most gut-wrenching thing at times. A small seed of doubt has blossomed into a magnificent and powerful oak tree. It's roots having spread way down deep and intertwined amongst themselves in the pit of my stomach. And this story quickly unravels far greater than just writing. The branches thick and protruding throughout the cracks so dense that sometimes I cannot see the light for the leaves. Oh they're beautiful alright, in their lovely shades of gold, orange, red, and green; keeping me in a trance of their wonderful colors, but if you look closely things are never as they seem. And suddenly I realize this tree has been affecting me. 

These lovely leaves golden like the scorching, setting sun represent a lack of self-worth. The fiery ones of scarlet red symbolize a self-doubt beyond compare. The autumn orange signifies a self-critical nature with crippling effects. The stubborn ones unchanged by the seasons represent rejection and hurt and fear. The pale, seemingly innocent and dainty ones unearth a green-eyed monster you weren't prepared to see. And the crunchy and lifeless brown ones stand for a garden that's been left abandoned and forgotten. One day you realize that you really can't see the forest for the tree leaves. You can't take in its natural and earthly beauty, for you are stuck. You are stuck looking at the never-ending thicket surrounding you.

You understand that the leaves must go but see that the task will not be so simple. We are not talking about just small twigs and weeds and branches here, we're talking about a cudzoo trap of mangled deep forest. There are no ropes that bind, this is a tree; an upright and unshakeable tree impaling a small and fragile soul. And when I say "Dear Lord, it must go", I know that the only means to its terrible demise is through a wildfire alone.

I ask for the wildfire unaware of its nature. I was unaware of the magnitude. I was unaware of the painful vines that had grew around the sturdy oak tree. I was unaware of the thorns that entangled throughout its branches. All I had seen was the mirage of beautiful and comfortable leaves. But I was aware of the One that I had asked upon. As the tree bark began to smoke and the smell overtook my senses, I caught myself crying out "Not like this, I cannot do this!" The branches begin to crack and the flames seem to rise and I become overwrought with the thoughts that this is something I cannot face. The thorns begin to untangle exposing the wounded pieces stained with dark red from long ago. These are things I do not want to face. I don't want to deal with. That's why the tree is rooted there. That's why it's colors are so ever-enticing. That's why it seems so lovely....because this tree is what I know. This tree is who I have been. It is safe. It is comfortable. For one small moment I feel okay with the tree and it's mirage of security and false sense. But the Lord says no.

He said no because this is who I have been. This tree is not who I am now. This tree is not what I asked for. This tree, in its comfort and familiarity, is what is holding me back. And I cannot move forward until it's been burnt to the ground. Its deep roots must be singed and ashes scattered with the blowing north wind of change. New earth must take its place and the tree must be forgotten. I have held on to this tree, this terrible tree for far too long. I have wrapped my arms around it, accepting it for what it was. I thought I could be a martyr. I thought I could say "Here look at my tree, do not grow this tree like me. I will do it instead and you will see it is no good for you". My tree leaves have changed colors to suit each person's needs because my tree thinks it's here to please. My tree reminds me that I have to be a chameleon, it tells me that others are first and I am last. It tells me they don't need to see the real me but a mask, a mask of beautiful leaves in the color of another's choice. "That is what's best and that is what's needed for someone else".

But I am not a chameleon. And I don't wanna wear a mask.
I am not a martyr.
I do not have to live with this suffocating tree any longer.

Sometimes I think, I can live with this tree, it is so simple to be the same. I will revolt and I will settle and I will hide behind this tree, it's really not so bad. Then like clockwork, every morning at about half past three I hear a voice telling me "That's not what we talked about Emily". I can't put the fire out for it's already started and longer I huff and puff and try to throw water on it, the longer this process will take. This is a lifetime process I think. The fire will continue to smolder because He does not forget it. He continues to fan the flame whether I turn my back or not.

It is no matter where the tree started. It's origin is no longer of use. Sometimes I faulter. Sometimes I become enamored with a certain leaf's color, but a flicker far greater than what's on the blazing branch seems to call to me from the distance. A glimmer of light that I have never seen, a fresh set of eyes partially awakened notice something radiating through the engulfing flames. The more I stare, the more I fix my eyes upon it, I am reminded to not lose focus. It's okay if I stumble. It's okay if I faulter but my focus has to be beyond the tree. I realize now that the tree must go for me to accept that what's for me. I have believed I'm not worth it, I've believed I'm not good enough, I've believed in settling, I've believed I had to work harden and do better....because of the tree. The tree has been a mask, a glittery sparkle of leaves and lies. So therefore, I agree....the tree must die.

It has proven difficult. It has proven to be a bigger adversary than once thought. It has proven to be a greater challenge than I felt equipped for, but....the tree will go, for I am not alone. I have been made a conqueror. I have been made to be my own knight in busted armor because this battle is between the tree and me. No one else can do the saving but me....and the One that stands waiting beyond the tree.

He calls me worthy and He calls me His. And in the midst of this fire and through the clouds of smoke, some days I'm learning to accept that. I am worth more than what this tree has spoken and I am worth more than the stories it's told. I do not have to listen to its lies any longer. What's beyond its limbs and what's peeking through its leaves of deceitful color is far more powerful and lovely. 

As the wildfire grows and burns out of control, I realize its purpose and I am no longer afraid, and only now, this prisoner of hope can finally see change is coming.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Root of the Problem

*Disclaimer: Before you read I must advise that my intentions are good concerning this matter. I have searched my heart and find that my only objective is to spread a little truth. I am not the girl that brow-beats people with correction. I am not the girl that looks down on others. I am the girl who tries to speak love. I am the girl that wishes to shine a little light. But at times, I am also the girl that's fully aware of the planks in my own eye and am working diligently to pull them I feel confident in my love for others to boldly say: You better check yourself brothers and sisters in Christ.

So I played hooky this morning. I didn't make it to church, you can go ahead and call the religious police. Haha. I did some hired-out painting yesterday and I'm not as young as I used to be. Well, still quite young but some days my joints don't feel it. Remember I was an avid runner at one time and I regularly use my upper body in extended positions for work so if there's even the slightest forecast for rain, I hurt. lol I was up half the night and this morning, I just decided to rest. I explain my laziness as if anyone's opinion matters; we are so fearful sometimes of what others may think.

Lazy. That's the topic for me today.

While I sit at home, propped up with an icepack, my thoughts are swirling. If ever I am at a loss, I try to remember the Source. I go to my bible for truths and answers.

This picture was posted on Facebook the other day, as it is so often posted. I've heard this phrase "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" so many times in my life....and each time I cringe. I cringe because this verse is so often taken out of context. It's as misunderstood and misspoken as the 137th Psalm. (A plaintive song of the exile of one who had recently returned from Babylon. It is often used by unbelievers and Christ denouncers as their proof of a wicked and vengeful Father)

2 Thessalonions 3:10 is a verse so commonly used as a dispute over universal healthcare and the social safety net. It's used as an argument against the welfare system and people that may not have a day to day, 9 to 5 job that they regularly go to. And true, if you look at this verse alone, it's easy to see how you might have misinterpreted along the way. If perhaps you read the whole context, specifically verses 6 and 11, you will see Paul (the author) spoke a very rare term disorderly. If you read the whole chapter suddenly this text takes on a whole new meaning. Paul is speaking of troublemakers in the church. Troublemakers whom He also discussed back in Chapter 2. Troublemakers who instead of spending their time working, in the name of God, had stopped their works and were idle with their time and disorderly going door to door spreading gossip about the impending return of Christ, among other things. They stopped their work for the Lord and began causing trouble. Paul paints a different picture than one we are so apt to look at. He was not saying these people were simply idle with their time. He was saying not only were they idle but they were actively causing trouble for the church as busybodies and meddlers in things they had no business discussing. In verse 11, he is clear...not only will they not work, they are working for mischief. Verse 11 is crucial for getting this passage correct. It's a threefold picture: they are disruptive, they are idle, and they are meddlers and busybodies. It had nothing to do whether they were simply lazy...these people were plenty capable of working but were using that ability to create chaos in the community. And in turn directly contradicting the example of the Apostles who by status wouldn't have had to work but chose to do so instead. Those people, those folks working for chaos and causing strife are the ones he's referring to. Those are the ones he instructed (in verse 14) to not keep company with, that they may be ashamed of their idle use of gossiping time.

The emphasis on "work" was mentioned 7 times in this small three chapter book of the Bible. And we can agree to disagree about whether that "work" is talking about a regular 40 hr a week job but I would urge you to take a second look. Yes, I believe we should work. I can get on a slight soapbox about the injustices of the welfare system. I truly believe it was created with good intentions. There are people working one or two jobs, husbands and wives with children and small paychecks that can't even begin to cover their needs, that's what it was created for. And it's unfortunate that something good was turned into a way of life that cripples the economy and is the root of many heated disputes regarding the status of the world today. But that has absolutely nothing, NOTHING to do with what Paul was talking about in this verse of the Bible. Thessalonions talked about the fulfillment of good deeds by God's grace. Good deeds and "works", not meddling and disruptive behaviors, ought to come as a response to grace. People not working or people that are on welfare are not the problem here. People causing chaos in the community is.

As Christians we should find ourselves being profoundly careful with how we response to the social issues of today. We should be in prayer over the welfare system. We should show encouragement towards those relying and depending on it. We should show interest and love to those that do not work at all....because THAT'S what we were called to do. And we should not forget that some of those don't worked because they cannot work, heaven forbid. We should not be carelessly branding people with this passage because we should be fighting for and supporting ALL people, whatever position they are in....because that is how we WORK for God. We can not pick and choose whom to love. The only work I believe the good Lord is concerned about really, is the work that we do in His name. I don't think He's necessarily referring to whether I hold a 40 hr a week job and even that means absolutely nothing if I'm not spreading His word and praising His name while doing it. Heavens! Our works aren't even gonna get us to heaven! (see Romans 11:6)....our works are only to show others Christ. To be Christ-like. To look like Christ. To open the door and speak His name so He can save others. That's the only thing our works are even for.

So the next time you decide to post or share this particular passage of scriptures, I sincerely hope that you'll give it some thought. Thankfully the gospel is a free gift. Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully my salvation is a free gift; a gift I could never afford on my own. But this gospel, this should produce a life of good works that builds the community and shows others Christ. That is the very least I can do for Him after all He's done for me. Where meddling, gossiping, and disruptive behaviors flourish, the church will be in grave danger...and Paul's warning is directly applied here. I have asked God to search my heart a thousand times over, I ask for eyes to see people as He sees them, I ask Him to fill all of my heart with a love for ALL people. Sometimes that's a tender compassion for others and sometimes that's a honest "hard pill to swallow" type love. James 2:13 tells us that "for judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment" absolutely suffocates me to think that I could meet God with sin and judgment in my heart....that I could see Him face to face knowing that I didn't do my part, that I didn't show love and mercy, that people couldn't see Christ in me. It's the most mournful thing I can think of at this moment. And my only hope and prayer for whomever might read this, is that you search your heart as well. I want us all to make it...but we're not going to if we're not being like Jesus to everyone we meet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Prisoner of Hope

I stood in the rain today.

That is nothing new. I have found myself standing drenched to the bone on more than one occasion. There's something so symbolic about standing there as each little droplet washes over you. Cool, wet beads roll down the back of your neck and drip from the tip of your nose. And as the wind blows and the showers come, you find yourself lost...completely oblivious to the fact that it's even raining....and that you're standing there, fully clothed. As I stood there I began to cry. I cried because sometimes when I have spent myself up, when I have used all of myself that I can possibly use...I cry. And I cried to the point I didn't know what was rain and what were tears.

There is a time for cleansing. There is a time for being renewed. There is a time when you make the decision and have the power to say "Dear Lord, this is not how my story is going to end"....

At this point I must back up and tell you that I am in fact, on a break. A little hiatus, a little time to clear my head, and focus on what's going on in my life. I had felt the wind blowing, a change in the breeze, something calling me elsewhere and away for several weeks now. I hadn't the intentions of blogging either and yet, here I sit, finding myself typing away. I have this tendency to not take very good care of thoughts and the like. I get so caught up with outwardly things that I forget about me. Then all at once, out of nowhere, I become acutely aware that my inner-tube is deflating and I am sinking. I'm being tossed about, lost at sea, struggling to keep my head up and afloat....this is the tumultuous cycle that I continually find myself in.

I tell this side of me because it is real. Real is so rare these days. I find myself compelled to be as genuine as I can possibly be with people. But...I am not always so open. For two weeks I've been burdened by what I have not shared. And you shall ask "how could you share anymore?!?"...I have shared many things but truthfully, that has just scratched the surface. The thought has become etched in my brain that someone will find healing, that someone will find comfort and restoration of their own, that someone will feel like they are not alone, if I share my wounds and misery. What is that saying??'re biggest mess will become your greatest message. That something small I might say in my testimony, might trigger a chain reaction for someone else. So with only slight apprehension and moderately shaky hands, I'll unravel.....

A little over a week and a half ago, I was grateful to have a friend more than willing to breath a little life into me. There we sat, writing books of messages back and forth to one another, while she spoke truths and reminders to me at one in the morning. She had no idea what her words meant to me. I am a firm believer that the Lord puts people in our lives for a reason...and I can only hope to pass along truths to another, that she passed to me. At that point, I laid there for several hours long into the night rereading and going over the things we spoke about. I began searching and jotting down scriptures and notes to myself on post-its like a madman and by 4 am, my bathroom mirror was covered. I could've wrote my book I seem to be waiting forever to write. And at 4 am, I decided that ignoring my problems were no longer going to make them go away. They have proved time again to resurface from the recesses of my mind like a ghost looming the hallway. They would last forever if I didn't face them, if I didn't charge right into them, if I didn't turn and look my poison straight in the eye and say "no more"....they would continue to control me.

I cannot delve into the specifics, or the hows and whys, for I cannot explain. Each person is so very affected differently by their own courses in life. But I can tell you that by the journey I have been on and the course that I have meandered around, I have come out viewing who I am very distorted-like.
All the trouble I have ever really faced, has been inside my own mind. There is no selling short in saying it has been a battlefield. We were created with feelings and emotions and marvelous little brains capable of outstanding things but somewhere along the way, through life...mine has been tainted. No matter how hard we try to hide it, the feelings of abandonment and rejection, hurt and fear...they become kinda like a filter through which everything we see, hear, think, or feel...flows through and we judge ourselves based on that. A negative toxic filter of lies...that's all it is. (My lovely friend spoke the word filter, I cannot take credit, and that's exactly what it is) And it has been absolutely crippling. Sometimes I wear a mask, which I have spoke of before, not to be insincere or misleading, but because I'm afraid someone would see me as I see me...and that's a little scary at times.

I have burned bridges and let friendships unravel, I have made a complete ass out of myself in the assumption game (don't judge me for saying ass, I'm speaking the absolute truth here), I've hyperventilated into an anxiety attack in the sewing department of the craft store and many other places, I have fell into a little puddle in the closet floor in weeping tears....all because of the things I've heard in my head. All because of the thoughts I thought I could handle. All because of the words I heard. All because of fear.

I have sit down across the proverbial table and had many a conversation with the devil. And I have returned time and again, as if there is some good in him because that's what I do, I look for the good in people...but I'm here to tell ya, there is none in him. All he's had to do is place one little thought, give another person one little word to say, and I have ran with it like a wild indian. I fought this defeating battle a hundred half hearted times and yet, standing in front of that mirror in the middle of the night and I knew I was finished with it.

And At this point, all I know to say is "I'm done".

I'm done with thinking I'm not enough. I'm done with thinking I'm not good enough, smart enough, kind enough, pretty enough, thin enough, gifted enough, strong enough, capable enough....I'm done with it all. I'm done with hearing assaulting words and I'm done with being hyper-critical of myself. I'm done with hearing I'm not worthy or not loved. I'm done, done, done. I'm finished with the toxicity. I'm finished hearing the lies. And I am absolutely one hundred percent done with giving the devil one small ounce of authority in my life. And I am reminded that greater is He who is in me so I have no idea why I'd give him one thought at all. He is just a shadow of nothing to me.

But I have...and that was yesterday.

Psalm 107 says "then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses, He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions" Just a word from God has the power to heal us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But as I stood there at 4 in the morning, I thought to myself "But God what if I can't...what if I can't do this, what if I can't unlearn, what if I can't unbecome what I'm becoming, what if I can't change my course here??..What if I'm not strong enough??" and I was reminded of the book of Zechariah...a bible study had lead me there a few months ago.

For I, said the Lord, I will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.

That's it. That's all I needed to hear. The "I will".

And I have to believe if that was true for the villages of a vulnerable Jerusalem, it is true for a child of God like me. When the enemy encamps around me, He will be the "fiery wall of protection". He has been before and He will continue, no matter the situation. He will.  And by putting my faith and hope in His presence, I can begin to see myself as a beloved daughter. A child beyond compare. It won't be by my power or might, but by His Spirit.

God's word tells a difference version than what I have heard, from myself and from others. I pray that He remove the negative filters so I can see clearly. I pray for a renewed mind and a steadfast spirit. I pray that He teach me how to fully embrace His love for me. This is not a little prayer box I'm gonna lay on the alter and turn to leave only to pick back up again. I have surrendered it. I'll surrender it a thousand times a day if I have to. And I fully believe that step by step, one day at a time, I will see things...I will see me, as He sees me. I'm challenging this story of mine and have the want and willingness to un-become and un-learn so I can be who I really am to Him. A girl who is more precious and beloved than she ever believed, no longer a slave to fear, or rejection, or abandonment, or hurt but equipped with His promises and victories.... I want a new story that only God's words can define.

All I can do is be grateful for such a good, good Father (p.s I really like that song)...and be my own little version of a "prisoner of hope" in this new awakening.

- and you're welcome to follow along as Emily changes her course.