Monday, April 28, 2014

Losing my mind in 4,3,2,1...

I rarely take things for granted. Kindness, goodness, blessings, and the people attached to those sentiments overwhelm me with gratitude. You know that picture circulating on social media, "What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for last night"? I'd be solid. I thank Him constantly for the wonderful miracles in my life.

As you've probably guessed, that intro is leading up to what I do take for granted. Well, it's not a what. It's a who. Ugh...I hate admitting this, but I take my husband for granted sometimes.

Usually when I realize I am doing or have done so, I apologize immediately, write him long, appreciative letters, and make him feel extra loved. And honestly, he's stereotypically guyish and not super in touch with his emotions, so he doesn't sitting around whining that he's not appreciated.

And, he asks for very little. Mostly. Last week, he started a new job and text me 37 million times as I'm the keeper of all important personal information--even his. But as far as emotional support, the scale is definitely shifted in my favor.

I'm a basket case 25-95% of the time depending on what's going on in our life. A messy house, squabbling kids, writer's block, or any variety of issues might send me spiraling into a panic. He talks me off proverbial ledges. Unless the ledges are work related, then my boss/friend talks me down--she is my work husband. Also, occasionally, he puts me on the ledge, and for those instances I am fortunate to have the most amazing girlfriends who pull me back in. I don't spend as much of my life on the edge of sanity as this implies, but there are moments...or weeks.

This is of one of those weeks. I'm very excited for our daughter who will be leaving for an adventure in Brazil on Friday. I'm also a little nervous that our daughter will be leaving for an adventure in Brazil on Friday because I won't be able to talk to her for two weeks. I have immense faith and am beyond thrilled that she will have this amazing experience, but I'm also her mama. To outsiders, a beautiful, accomplished, bright and eager 20-year-old will be boarding a plane with her professor and classmates, but in my eyes, that person is a tiny blonde baby who was sleeping on my shoulder with my hair twisted around her finger...just a minute ago.

Consequently, I'm a little anxious and when I'm anxious, my person is always next to me, holding my hand, rubbing his thumb along my thumb, twirling my hair, patting my back, and catching me (figuratively and literally on occasion). When we put this same child on the bus to kindergarten 15 years ago, he stood behind me waving and whispering into my hair, "Don't cry, baby," until this bus was down the road and our baby girl was out of sight and then caught me up in his arms laughing, "Okay, you can cry now."

When I put her on this plane, he will be in another state, so I can't fall apart. He'll listen to me cry the whole way home, but it won't be the same as depositing mascara all over the front of his shirt.

So, I'm anxious, and I would appreciate if you guys could (as my dear friend said one time,) "say a prayer or light a candle or do whatever it is you do" for us on Friday as my heart is scattered all over the world.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's like this and like that and like this and uh*

I recently read Crash the Chatterbox, by Steven Furtick**, about quieting inside (and outside) voices so that you can hear God’s voice. It was a great book and helped me to isolate and silence some pretty destructive voices. And through engaging with my inner voices, I learned another powerful lesson: Whatever purpose we are here to fulfill? We already have everything we need. 

For instance, God gave me an English teacher mother, above average spelling and grammar acumen, a pretty sordid childhood, and a voice with which people can identify because He intended for me to share my story. 

BUT, you knew there was gonna be a but, didn't you? In the process of sharing my story, here is some chatter I have heard in my head and from well-intentioned friends:
You’re writing a book?
There’s nothing really special about your story.
You’re not that good of a writer.
Who would want to read your story?
Only famous people write memoirs.
What’s it gonna be about?
Who’s gonna buy it?
Your daughter is a better writer. Maybe you should have her write your story. (She IS a way better writer, but she has her own story to tell.)
You’re not good enough. You’re not interesting enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not important enough. You’re not special enough. You’re not skinny enough. You’re not blonde enough. You’ve never been enough and you never will be enough. Those voices are so mean; good grief!

Except a funny thing happened in the midst of that though. The aforementioned book landed in my lap and told me: 

  • You are doing better than you think you are. 
  • You matter more than you think you do. 
  • It's less about you than you think it is.  
  • God says you are enough. 
  • God said He gave you everything you need. 
  • God says you can.
It told me that the voices in my head were just that: Voices. I could tell to shut the @#$% up. If someone tells my kids they can’t do something, I say, “That’s their opinion, and their opinion doesn’t matter. God made you, and God says you can.” So what if the people who should have encouraged  or complimented me or believed in me didn't. God gave me everything I need to do what He intended me to do.

Who cares if other people don’t believe my story is important? I think everyone’s story is important. We can all positively impact someone by sharing our experiences and our heart; isn’t that why we are here? To love God and to love people?

If I share my story, and one person walks away feeling less shame about her own childhood, deciding to make lemonade out of the lemons life handed her, realizing that she already possesses everything she needs to fulfill her highest purpose, then it was worth everything to reach that one person. It was worth every embarrassing story. It was worth every agonizing question I’ve ever asked and will ever answer. It was worth losing every person who will no longer make eye contact with me because they never really saw me anyway.

My sweet friends, what voices do you need to quiet today in order to hear a still small voice that speaks only love?

*Nuthin' But a G Thang (What up, Dre)

** I think Steven Furtick is an extremely gifted pastor, speaker, writer and teacher and couldn't care less about the size of his house or how many people got baptized at Elevation on any given Sunday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Then What?

The first few days of my social media fast, I got a lot accomplished, but now as with many things, I've come to a place of: NEEEXXXXXTTTT! Just yesterday, I invented a fake syndrome and promptly diagnosed Chloe. While her next few months are filled with exciting study and research trips abroad, then there's next semester and then next year, and then she graduates and...Then What?

After discovering this disorder, diagnosing Chloe and then listening to Brad, who has been in his own waiting room of sorts, I realized that I had a relatively mild case as well.

My goal in giving up social media was to focus the extra time on my family, writing, reading, praying, and that has all been successful. However, since Brad and Peyton still use social media, after Lily goes to bed, my brain is on F, and I can't bring myself to do one more productive thing, they are still plugged in. Now, I watch TED Talks and Orange is the New Black* on Netflix.

In the past, I would have gotten on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I would have commented on some adorable babies, prayed for all the people with prayer requests, encouraged friends who were feeling down, liked pictures of salads, sushi, smoothies, and sunsets, Amen'ed a couple witty musings, and gone to bed.

That brought this alarming realization: The solitude I craved when too many people pulled pieces of me in too many different directions is really lonely. I am not designed to be by myself on an island (unless it's a warm beautiful one, I could chill there for awhile), writing and reading and making my brain ache. I'm meant to interact with and encourage people. And...guilt: I basically walked away from my mission field by giving up social media.


So, I miss you guys. A lot. I could walk away from this fast, but I'm too stubborn to quit before the 40 days is over. I have an issue with finishing things, often muddling through mind-numbingly boring books, yawning and complaining through wretched movies, and torturing myself to varying degrees in the name of not quitting. I haven't come up with a name for this disorder yet, but I will. I'm gonna have to write my own makeshift DSM to keep track of my newly minted psychoses. The ironic other side of that coin is that my word for 2014 is: Persevere. Turns out, just as I can't quit the dumb stuff; I can't finish the important things. Go figure!

Stay classy, San Diego. I'll see you in 17 days.

*If you are unfamiliar with OITNB, it's kind of like the old HBO series Oz but with women. It's about women in prison and has graphic language and sexuality. If that makes you squeamish, it's not the show for you.