If I’m Being Honest…

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It’s been a bit since I wrote anything on my blog.

It took me a minute to figure out why I was procrastinating.

I used to love to write to all of you.

Sharing life and swapping secrets was one of my favorite things.

Then, not suddenly, but definitely, the joy of writing here began to fade.

Until finally, I wasn’t writing at all.

Why?

I kept asking myself.

I moved a few hundred miles from home and life got really busy.

That was my quick answer.

But, only recently did I realize the real reason.

I wasn’t being vulnerable.

The things I wrote were true and enjoyable, at least I hope they were enjoyable.

But, slowly, they began to feel scripted, controlled and strategically placed.

In the beginning, when this whole writing first started, I found relief in sharing the grief of losing my mom.  But, after a while the heavy grief lifted and because I didn’t want my blog to forever be about the saddest, most difficult thing that’s ever happened to me, I began to tell stories.

Stories about childhood and funny things that happened to me plus the occasional spiritual mountain or valley I’d experienced.

All of it true.

All of it earned the hard way…through experience.

But, as the number of blog followers grew, the level of expectation also grew.

I began to feel like I needed to get it perfect every single time.

I would read other blogs or articles and stories and see all the flaws in mine until finally…

I didn’t want to write anymore.

It felt less than, subpar and pointless when so many others did it so much better.

I’m not looking for a pity party, and I’m not fishing for compliments.

Really, I’m not.

I’m just ready to be open and honest about my love of words and my fear of failure.

My fear of letting you down and myself down.

It’s tough to type that last sentence.

I am not strong and courageous.

“Fearless” isn’t even in my vocabulary.

But, I am HONEST and I guess I began to feel dishonest by making everything seem so neat and packaged with a bow on top.

My life, my REAL life, is anything but.

I stress eat.

I gossip sometimes.

I’m afraid of dying.

Sometimes I’m afraid for no reason.

I blow things up in my mind and make them much bigger than they are.

I obsess over what “could” happen.

I’m addicted to Coke Zero.

I love donuts.

I don’t trust people easily.

Sometimes I’m not as happy as I seem.

I hate to lose.

I don’t like board games because I always lose. (Refer to line above.)

I worry about my kids EVERY DAY.

I pray all the time because I lack faith.

I am lonely often times in the middle of a crowd.

Because I am friendly, people assume social settings are easy for me, but that’s not true.

I analyze everything I say when I walk away from a conversation.

And then I beat myself up for something I said, always.

I obsess over my failures for days.

I’m weary of saying “I understand” when people hurt me because I don’t.

I have a hard time truly forgiving even though I may act like it’s easy.

I am not put together even though my outfit may be.

I sat in church two weeks ago and cried because, well, I don’t really know.  I just needed to cry.  The Lord is pushing me into deeper waters and I feel like I can’t swim.

I’m treading water.

I know it makes some of you uncomfortable to read something this vulnerable, and that’s okay.  I need to be this way. I feel fake writing and publishing as though I’ve got it all figured out WHEN I DON’T.

I need you to understand that I am trusting you with my heart.

I heard a podcast recently that explained the difference between being transparent and vulnerable.

Transparent is when we share what we’ve been through.

Vulnerable is sharing where we are.

Sometimes that’s the “messy middle.”

There’s so much to learn here in the middle.  So many lessons to grab onto and stow away in our heart.

Even while in the messy middle, I see the Lord at work.

I think that’s what makes life bearable.

Well, now that I’ve shared this with you, I feel like something heavy lifted off my chest.

I do plan to post stories, I do plan to keep on practicing and getting better but I also plan on being not just transparent but vulnerable.

We need it in our society, we need to know we can be far less than perfect and still be loved by God and others.

We can admit our flaws without trying to justify them.

We don’t have to hide them because that only makes us part of the bigger problem.

The idea that we’re not good enough if we aren’t perfect.

As though the journey to better places has to be hidden until we arrive.

The messy middle is a secret.

But a lot of good life and lessons happen along the way.

I hope to share more of them.

They won’t all be tidy and neat but they will be HONEST.

Isn’t that what so many of us are looking for in this crazy world?

Honesty? Transparency? Vulnerability? Loyalty?

Man, we need those things so much!

So, here I am again!

I’m back!

I’m going to keep it real.

I hope you will too.

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90 Seconds of Light: Yoga

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I went to yoga today for the first time in a while.  Turns out turning yourself into a human pretzel is good for body and soul.

As I was standing on my head, well, practically, I congratulated myself for being there.

You see, this move has exposed something.

I’m not brave.

Not like I used to be.

When I was young I was almost fearless about trying new things and exploring new places.  The change made me happy. I loved all the new sights and sounds, they gave me energy.

But with age comes challenges and hardship, loss and grief.  Somewhere between struggle and pain, I lost my brave heart.

Since we moved to South Carolina, and because I know so little and so few people, I’ve had to make a choice: stay home, where I feel safest, or venture out on my own and take the risk.

Home sounds appealing, like the feeling of a warm blanket wrapped around me…safe and sound.

But, I’ve made a decision, I want my bravery back.

Which is why I stood on my head today.

I knew most of the faces in the gym where I’d been a member for thirteen years.  It was comfortable and easy.

Today, I didn’t know a single person.

Not one.

This is true of almost every place I’ve been lately.

I sleep in an unfamiliar house in an unfamiliar neighborhood and shop in stores I’ve never even heard of.  I’ve attended a church service with only my husband and daughter as familiar faces.  I don’t how to get anywhere, thank goodness for Google Maps.  Well, most of the time, sometimes even Google lets me down.

You get the idea, it’s ALL new.

I had to give myself a pep talk to go to yoga today.  To sit in a class where no one knew my name and pretend to be braver than I felt.

I took a deep breath, walked in with my pink yoga mat slung over my shoulder and my pink backpack on top of the mat.  Would it be too revealing to tell you I have a pink towel with red hearts all over it to wipe my face between workouts?

Sometimes I forget I’m so old and I like twelve year old pink things.

But, I did it.

Just me and all of my pink accessories.

And, you know what, it wasn’t that bad.

Everyone I came in contact with was friendly and one even asked my name.  Pretty sure we’re going to be besties, she doesn’t know it yet though.

I’d made it such a big deal in my mind, I almost convinced myself it was too hard.

Too scary.

Maybe that’s part of the rocky road to bravery.  Showing up, in spite of the fear. Swallowing the butterflies and walking in, even if it is on shaky legs.

When I walked out of the gym today, I was definitely on shaky legs but not because of fear, but because apparently the yoga teacher REALLY believes in our abilities.

Probably won’t be able to walk right tomorrow.

But, that’s okay, because I can be brave even with a limp.

 

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

South Carolina

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I’m sitting in my new home in my new town with boxes piled high around me watching my daughter and husband piece together a bookshelf for her room.

I can’t believe I’m here.

Can’t believe I live in a new state where I know exactly ten people, this number includes the lady at the local grocery store who runs the coffee bar and the neighbors who live behind us.  That’s an improvement over last week when I only knew one.

My bones are tired.  If you didn’t know your bones could be tired then you’ve probably never moved across the country while in menopause.

It wasn’t an easy road to get here and, now that I’m here, I find there is road construction everywhere.  I mean that both literally and figuratively.

The day we left our small town and headed to South Carolina the sun was out in full form, the balmy heat caused sweat beads to form on my forehead.  But, I wasn’t sweating just because of the heat, I had to say good bye to my Dad.

This is the man who nursed my mother until she took her last breath, had open heart surgery, struggles with diabetes and is living with cancer.

I thought I might swallow my tongue trying not to cry myself into an emotional wreck.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved when it was over.  Saying goodbye is so hard.

Then, with sweat running down the back of my neck, we pulled out of the drive way and turned our caravan north.

My husband drove the giant U-Haul pulling a trailer, and I followed close behind in my SUV. I cried when we passed the final interstate exit for what had been our hometown for thirteen years.  It was tempting to take the exit and head back to where we came from, but I knew leaving was the right decision.

Moving has proven to be harder than I anticipated.

Oh, I knew I would be sad, but I didn’t expect to keep feeling sad day after day.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like this new place, there’s so much to see and do. But I left behind so many people I love, and it rips at my heart to think about it.

I tried to explain to my husband how it felt, but I’m not sure words can capture the emotions.

It’s kind of like you’re involved in a really good story, you’re the leading role (since it is your life), and suddenly you’re deleted from the plot and left to wonder how it will all play out.  Or have you ever watched a movie and it ended before you were ready?  Like what happened to the couple who finally declared their love in the last scene?  Did they get married?  Have kids?  Or what about the guy who overcomes a deadly disease?  Did he live another twenty years? 

Like seeing the whole movie and then cable goes out five minutes before the end.

Add personal emotional investment, and maybe you’ll get an idea of how this feels.

The house we bought is beautiful, the prettiest we’ve ever had.  But, it’s just cement and wood, it holds no memories yet.  I told you we met our neighbors, and they are so nice, I think we will become good friends…eventually.  I’ve eaten at so many good restaurants, such a change from where I came from since we only had about five good choices.

If you’re from the small town that was my home, I’ll let you decide which five restaurants I’m talking about.

And to top it off, the Lord answered my prayers and each of my boys got summer jobs.

Yes, I should be shouting hallelujah, but new jobs mean no time off and that means few, if any, visits to, you guessed it, South Carolina.

It’s Sunday now and a few days have passed since I started this blog.  Normally I try to write and finish my thoughts in one sitting.  I feel it captures exactly where I am in that moment.  But, with all these changes it seems my mind is unable to stay focused for long.

We have worked like dogs unpacking and now a couple of rooms resemble normalcy.  When I start to feel overwhelmed with it all, I go and stand in one of those rooms and I feel my blood pressure creep back down to where it should be.

This morning we attended a church that came highly recommended.

When we walked in I was so weary I really didn’t think I would be able to worship.  I was still so tired.  But, maybe it’s the Bible Belt raisin’ in me, I didn’t want to miss another Sunday.  So, I dragged my resistant bones into the sanctuary and sat down, desperate to receive something.

Something more than caffeine and an iced latte could provide.

The music was playing when we took our seats.

It was uplifting and I could feel my emotions respond to the joy ringing through the instruments falling on us like cool spring rain.

It was refreshing and tears began to fall.

Because the lights were dimmed, I allowed them to fall freely.

Salty tears have been a companion these days.

The message was meaningful and challenging and I found myself convicted.  I asked God for strength and forgiveness several times, whispering confessions and hopes quietly for only the two of us to hear.

When we rose to sing the final song, I closed my eyes and lifted my hands in worship.  It was in that moment I felt the affirmation I needed from the Lord.

I am in the right place.

This new place with all of its uncertainties and loneliness is EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.

“Lord, this is hard, harder than I thought it would be.  But, YOU KNEW how I would feel and none of this is going to be wasted.  You promise in your word that you use the seasons of my life for my good and your glory.”

This was the prayer pouring from my heart as the lyrics and music washed over my soul.

God is faithful.

He is.

By the time you read this I will probably still be on this emotional roller coaster.  Happy to be in this new place one minute and miserable and lamenting our decision to move in the next.

But, I will HOLD ON to the TRUTH of his faithfulness to me in these days.  I will put my head down and humble myself as he takes me to higher heights and deeper depths.

Several of my friends have encouraged to treat these “new to this community” days like an adventure.

I plan to do that.

Adventures of discovery and recovery.

Literally and figuratively.

 

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Country Living

Rileigh

Our rescue dog, Rileigh.

I am living the country life these days.

Typing that sentence has me sitting here contemplating my life choices.

How did I get here?

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s really beautiful out here. I wake up to birds chirping and last week I saw a bunny hopping across the expanse of the yard.  I’ve seen gorgeous sunrises and breathtaking sunsets. I could almost convince myself that I am a country girl.

Almost.

But, then reality slaps me in the face when I pick up my phone to hop on the Wi Fi.  It seems country life is void of internet.  I can hear you chuckling at my fate.  Some of you may even be thinking how good it might be to have limited access to the internet for a time.  Well, let me shake you out of your dream state, life without internet is, well, like living in a bubble with no communication in or out.

Sounds appealing?

Then you’re living in the wrong country.

Maybe the wrong century.

In case you’re wondering where I am, I am living with my dad and his wife out where the wild flowers grow rampant.  They’ve been wonderful to us and treated us with such kindness.  They don’t seem to mind one bit that they can’t check their bank account or pay their Discover bill any time they want.  Internet is nothing more than a luxury for folks who live in “town.”

So, in order to get on the internet for any length of time or to download something that has more than ten words, we take drastic measures.

There’s a coffee shop about two miles up the road and they have internet.  Wonderful, glorious internet.  We frequent this place.  We’re regulars now; they know us by name.  I have a standing order.  I don’t know what we would do without them.

Do I sound desperate?

This is me, internet-less me.

Once in a while we forget something that needs internet and the coffee shop is closed. We drive up there and sit in our car in hopes to catch the magical cyber powers in the parking lot.   We’ve discovered there’s a van that likes to do the same thing.  Last week, my husband and I realized we needed to get online after the shop had closed and we panicked.

“We have to get up there before the van does,” he said.

“Is this really what we’ve come to?” I thought.

We quickly loaded up in our pajamas and slippers, you can get away with that in the country too, by the way.  Who even am I?

Thankfully, we beat the van.  It’s not that we couldn’t park in another spot in the parking lot, but we wanted the prime spot closest to the router just on the other side of the wall.

And there we sat, in our PJ’s, in the dark. The only light was our computer screens.

And, you guessed it, the van drove up just a few minutes after we arrived.

We beat him or her or whoever drives the dark navy van.

Victory.

I’ve been doing all sorts of things out here since I’m currently not working.  I just finished helping hoist a lawn mower up so daddy could put on a tire.  I sit outside on the swing often since there’s no fence and two dogs who have to go to the bathroom frequently.  Our rescue puppy thinks it’s my responsibility to throw the ball so she can chase it every time we walk out the door together.

Life is slower.

I know this pace has been good for me, but I would be lying if I said it has been easy. I’m a get up and go kind of girl and I’m living in a slowdown and have some sweet tea kind of world.

Only I don’t drink sweet tea.

I’m asking the Lord what He wants me to learn through all of this.

There has to be a lesson, right??

Oh, and did I mention I’m picking up dog poo poo with a shovel and tossing it to in the very back of the yard?

I don’t know myself anymore.

All of these inconveniences have me ruffled and next thing you know we’ll be raising chickens.

But even in the midst of all the differences and changes I don’t want to miss a single moment of this life.

I get to live with my daddy and spend time around the dinner table most nights talking and breaking bread together.  Well, we don’t actually break bread since he’s diabetic, but you get the idea.

I help in the kitchen and we’ve eaten like kings and queens since we’ve been in the country.

I feel I owe my own family an apology because we’ve NEVER eaten this good.

I walk barefoot through the grass and stare out the window at the rain.

Maybe my soul needs this time to learn to slow down and be content in “whatever the circumstances,” as Paul says in scripture. (Phil. 4:11, see below)

As we march up to Father’s Day this Sunday, I want to publically thank my dad for sharing his home and his life with us.  We come as a package deal of three adults and two dogs.

He’s never once complained.

Not once.

He’s told us we’re welcome to stay as long as we want.  Secretly I wonder if he really means that, I mean, we are #extra.  I thought I might joke with him and tell him we love it so much we’re staying forever.  But then I remember we have no internet and realize it’s really not funny.

I’m so very thankful to him and his wife for taking us in and loving us well.

Goodness, how the world needs to feel some of this…good old country love.

The kind that comes with a beat up ball cap and a fishing pole.

Tonight we’re having hamburgers on the grill, we’ll sit out on the swing while daddy cooks the meat and the dogs will run around under our feet while we sip tea, unsweet that is.  We’ll listen to the crickets sing and hope the stars come out for wishing.

And beat off the horse flies.

Then, my husband and I will get in the car and head to the coffee shop so we can check our email.

Probably in our pajamas and high fiving each other if we beat the van.

 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

Philippians 4:11-13

What’s Next

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The most magical place on earth. 

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.  So much has happened I find myself at a loss of where to start.  It’s like those moving sidewalks at the airport, you know the ones that help you to take two or three steps for every one unassisted by the moving belt.

I feel like I’m walking beside it wanting to get on but I’m not quite sure how without lunging forward or backward and falling on my face.

But, because I can’t go another day without talking to you I’m going to take the chance and jump on, let the body parts fall where they may.

What I’m trying to say is it’s hard to bounce back into the stream of life when you’ve been out of step for a while.  It feels intimidating.

But, here is my best attempt to catch you up on things.

The last thing I shared was how difficult it was to pack all of my earthly belongings into small boxes and put them into a storage facility.  All the memories and organizing and purging had me an emotional mess to say the least.  Since then, we’ve sold our home of twelve years, moved in with my dad and gone on a much needed family vacation.

Wow, that last sentence was quite a mouthful.

Our house sold much quicker than anyone expected and for that we are so grateful.  But, with the sudden sell comes a whole new set of problems.  Good problems, but problems nonetheless.  Things like, “what do we do now?”  start to resonate through your mind at an alarming volume.

Thanks to my dad for opening his home to us for a while.  He and his wife have been so gracious and patient.  We come with baggage, two dogs.  One practically a puppy and the other with one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel.

I cried my eyes out throughout the whole packing a purging process.  We sold our dining room table, the one our kids sat around growing up.  I stood at the window as it was loaded on the back of a truck and pulled out of the driveway.

That was hard.

People ask me why it was so difficult and I guess I would answer it was like saying goodbye to a member of the family.  SO MUCH LIFE happened around the rectangle stained piece of wood.  It was like an old friend.

I put a price tag on it and sold it to the first bidder.

I felt like I’d betrayed someone who’d been nothing but faithful to me. I know, I know, I can hear you say it, “it was just a table.”  Yes, that’s true, but it also stood as a symbol, a reminder, of our younger years.  Like the ending of a chapter, one I was really invested in.

So, I cried.

And then, I let it go.

Multiply that experience by one hundred and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how packing the house went.

But, one million boxes later aaannnddd we finished!

Our vacation was so wonderful.  It was hard to come back to reality.  Can I live in Disney?  I think the most magical place on earth would be perfect right about now.  It was hotter than hades and the crowds were merciless but I had my three grown children with me and I’m just not sure it gets any better.

Well, that should about catch you all up, minus a few hundred unimportant details.

Now, we turn our hearts and minds toward what’s next and I find myself quoting scripture over and over to calm my heart.  Some might even say “chanting” God’s Word to help me cope.

Let me start by saying what’s next has to come after I get through saying good bye to what is.  I’ve never considered myself a small town girl, but the people of this little community have become such a part of my heart it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

I am a kaleidoscope of emotions.

I really want to learn something through this time of enormous change.  I want to pick through all the emotions and find the lesson.  More than how to pack and label a box so you’ll know what the heck is in it when you unload it off the truck.  Here’s a little helpful hint, be sure you label the side of the box as well as the top because you’ll never know what’s in them when they’re stacked on top of each other a mile high.

Trust me on this.

You’re welcome.

Also, I’m learning to let go of my need to know what’s coming next.  Notice I said learning, I have a long way to go.  White knuckling everything has become bad habit and I didn’t realize how bad it was until things began to change and I couldn’t hold onto it all.

I was terrified.

Something special happened recently and it was obvious the Lord’s hand was all over it.

I listen to the Bible app most mornings, this year I’m doing the Bible chronologically.  A few days ago as the narrator was reading Psalm 112 I felt the impression of the Holy Spirit in my heart.  I knew instinctively this Psalm was for me.  Later, I looked it up and read it in its entirety as though God was speaking directly to me and not written by a King long ago.  Verse seven nearly jumped off the page, “She does not fear bad news, she confidently trusts the Lord to care for her.”

Woah.  I needed, no I NEED that promise.

That’s the verse I’m chanting.

I don’t want to be afraid.  I want to walk in peace.  Is it possible I can walk in my fear with the intent of breaking down the hold it has on my heart?  Maybe peace isn’t a destination but a process. Something for you and me to chew on as we sip our coffee this morning.

I’ve decided to memorize the whole chapter.  This is a big deal as I’m not great at memory verses.  I’m more of a “well it says in the Bible somewhere…”  But, to walk into “what’s next” for me, for us, I’m going to need more than vague references, I am going to need confidence…confidence the Lord will care for me.

So, what is next?

We’re starting to have more of an idea as we look for places to live and pray diligently for a church family.

We visited the city we’ve decided to drop some roots in…can’t wait to tell you all about it.