Two halves

She was walking around, just half of herself, unaware.

She knew something was wrong but she didn’t know what it was.

She attached herself to other people, like the wrong shaped puzzle piece. Nope.

Hmm.

She drank too much after work and on the weekends. The alcohol just left her feeling less than the half she already was.

She hated looking in the mirror. It felt like being in math class when the solution just wouldn’t calculate no matter how many hours were poured into trying.

Acceptance made her feel more complete, but still not whole.

Finally, she asked for help.

“Do you see all of me?,” she asked, to everyone who passed her on the sidewalk, at the office, and at home.

No one answered.

“WHAT IS MISSING?!?” she yelled, to the air outside.

“Me,” she heard back, from somewhere inside.

She looked up. Her other half was right there, being offered to her by the One who said “Me.”

She didn’t know who He was yet, but she fit into that other half.

Finally, she was WHOLE.

Fake pants

My daughter was told her name-brand pants must be fake.  Harsh, right? I thought so too, especially because the person who said it has been a “friend” of hers for 3 years.

I am a single mom.  I pay my bills on time.  I own my house.  We eat healthy foods, and we do fun things together as a family.  We live simply, without fancy things, but we live, and we enjoy quality time together.

I know this “fake pants” accusation shouldn’t bother me as much as it has.  I know that I tend to be a bit sensitive about things I should probably just let go of.

It took me back though, to that dreadful day in 6th grade when the popular girls told me I couldn’t wear my black Guess jeans.

“Why are YOU wearing THOSE jeans???,” they asked me, laughing.

I didn’t respond.  I wore them as often as I wanted to, and probably pranced around a little more on those days.  Who were THEY to tell me what I could and and couldn’t wear???

It made me realize how shallow they were.

They found their value in the brand of clothes their parents could afford.

I hope that my daughter realizes that her value has NOTHING to do with the brand stamped on her authentic pants!  My daughter is, and always will be, valued because of who she is, not what she wears.

My daughter still calls this person a friend.  She still invites her along with us.  She sees past the accusation.  I suppose I should do.

I hope her friend knows how fortunate she is to receive grace from my daughter.  I hope I can offer the same.

I also hope that someday, the world won’t be so harsh.

I am so thankful to have raised a daughter who sees people beyond their shortcomings.

One day, we will reach a place where there is no judgment.  Our value will not be determined by anything other than who we are and whose we are.

Fake pants, authentic pants, invisible pants… none of it will matter.

 

“Comfort isn’t a solution to seek.” – Lysa Terkeurst

I don’t want to write another post about all the times I sought comfort in the wrong ways, from the wrong things.  So, I won’t.

I will, however, tell you that I realize what comfort doesn’t bring.  Even writing that seems absurd.  How could comfort, (a feeling), bring anything?

We seek comfort in times of loneliness, grief, and disappointment.  Right?

We all find comfort in different ways… friendships, food, Netflix, wine, etc.

That kind of comfort doesn’t last very long.  It might last as long as the conversation with the friend who is encouraging you, and sometimes for a few moments afterwards if it was a really great conversation. It might last as long as the last bite of the most delicious piece of chocolate cake, or until the last sip of savory wine that swished itself around in your fancy glass.  It might last as long as the movie or episode you were watching… especially when it touches every emotion and ends with a happily ever after.

Then what? How do we find comfort when the comfort provider is gone? Even the longest binge-watching session eventually comes to an end.  We are left with all sorts of empty feelings, based on how much comfort we are seeking.

Maybe we shouldn’t be seeking comfort? Maybe there’s another way?

I think I have found it.

All those times that I sought comfort in the wrong ways, from the wrong things, I ended up in a very dark place.  It felt like I was at the bottom of a very long vertical tunnel with no way out.  That tunnel grew more narrow every day, and eventually it was closing in on me.  I started to panic.  There was no way out.

Just like many people do in a state of panic, I prayed.  I cried great big, painful, stinging tears while asking God to help me find the way out. Quickly.

This might sound crazy, but as I was feeling like I was at the bottom of that deep vertical tunnel, (figuratively), I started to feel peace.  It happened right after I prayed.  I felt a sudden, overwhelming peace.

At first, it looked like a fire escape ladder that was tossed down to me by someone who loved me.  As time passed, I was given the strength to climb each step.  Sometimes I fell back down a few steps, and sometimes I was carried up a few steps.  Eventually, I made it out.

Now, the peace feels like the deepest love I’ve ever experienced.  It doesn’t fade like the comfort I sought.

It doesn’t leave me.

It will never fade.

 

 

Follow Your Dreams

Such an old saying. Usually considered cliché by many. Not me.

I believe that our dreams are our gifts.

When we do what we love, we are fulfilled. The gift lies in the blueprint… the idea that what we love was woven into who we are.

Opening locks, solving mysteries in an Escape Room, is similar to figuring out who we are.

Some choose to ignore their passions. They follow the American dream, chasing fortune and fame. Most end up empty, sad, lost, and stuck in the room with the mysteries unsolved. They’re hunched over, looking down, hopeless and unmotivated to find the right keys.

Others, like me, know what they’re driven to do, and where their gift lies, but fear blocks the path. All of the “what ifs” have extinguished the flame.

As a mom, I’ve encouraged my children to do what they love. I’ve attempted to see where they’re gifted. I’ve spoken truth and encouragement into them, hoping to steer them toward doing what they love… even if the world doesn’t agree.

Deeper than that, we all have a desire to be accepted. We often choose that path instead of believing in ourselves and living in a world where we are strong enough to go after what makes us happy, instead of who the world will accept. This is so sad to me.

I often let my mind wander into a world where we’ve all chosen the path that is paved by our gifts. It’s a beautiful place.

My imagination sees people smiling, waving at, and helping each other. I see a community where each person knows the part they were created to play. I see support, love, and encouragement.

I’d like to make my dream a reality. I want to create a place where kids can feel safe. A “community” center that would be a gathering place… a place for kids to find their passions and their gifts.

I’d like to have:

A baseball diamond out back – like the one where my neighborhood kids would gather from morning until night every day of summer break.

A basketball court.

An art, writing, and music studio.

A room for the parents to gather too. Parents who want more for their children than the virtual world they’re addicted to.

A place where people of all ages can go back to the way life used to be. A safe place where we looked eye to eye instead of word to word, or video to video.

This is my dream. I’m hoping that my fears will be extinguished. I hope this place will be more than a place that I imagine.

The world needs us to stop walking in the direction of the current. Stop. Walk the other way. Create waves that cause the current to be overtaken. Stop being robots seeking the acceptance of something that has nothing to offer.

Start realizing that the only way to feel fulfilled is to live within the gifts that have been woven into who we are.

Going back

“I caught one! Look! I did it!”  

I loved fishing as the sun came up, on the dock next to the big willow tree.  I was so proud of each catch, always bursting with excitement.

“We are racing! Look! I’m winning!”

My sister was in driver’s seat of the trans-am, and I was in the driver’s seat of the el-camino. Both cars were sitting in the driveway, but we were speeding down the road in our imaginations.  Our determined race faces are so clear to me as I look back, almost 40 years later.

“I want to go faster! Can we go faster?”

Driving the snowmobile, age 5, on the sidewalks of New Baltimore, just before I tipped it over at the curb.  

“Let go! I can do it! I can do it!”  

On my pink huffy bike with the banana seat, braving it for the first time without training wheels.  I felt like Wonder Woman, and I was probably wearing her underoos. The wind was in  my face, and I felt like I was flying.

“Money talks, but it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk.  As long as I can have you here with me, I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans!!!”

Jumping around, dancing, and singing along with Neil Diamond’s song playing on the record player at the babysitter’s house.  I looked forward to Fridays because I could wear my favorite blue jeans,  just for that song, and just for that moment.

Tug of war in the side yard, Red Rover, kickball, go-carts, and up north.  Some of my favorite memories.  If I close my eyes, and go back, I can still feel that childhood joy.  There were so many great moments that I wish had lasted longer.

The one thing they all have in common is adventure. I’ve grown to appreciate my longing for adventure. It seems to keep me alive, eager for the never-ending “bucket list” to be fulfilled.

These are the memories I share when kids ask me to tell them a story. I’m glad they’re there, tucked away but not forgotten. Thankful that there’s so much space left to make more.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Life Lessons from The Lion King

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Lesson 1: There will always be someone, or something, that attempts to deceive you. Don’t listen.  I have experienced this as a single mom.  Choices my children make feel like a reflection of my ability to be a good mother.  My toughest moments occur when I believe the lie that it is my fault, that I am not enough, that I don’t do enough, and that I failed at being a mom.  Once I realized that I was believing the lie, and that it was dragging me down, I saw that their lesson had to be learned, and that their mistake had to be made.  Relying on a strength that is not my own is the secret.  When I am down, I look up.  I reach up, and I am pulled out.  Clarity and wisdom replace the lie.

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Lesson 2: Remember who you are, and what you were created to do.  No one has your fingerprints,  and no one was chosen to do what you were created to do.  Embrace your uniqueness.  Seek the path that has your name on it.  Scar convinced young Simba that his father’s death was his fault, and that no one would ever forgive him.  He had to run away to find his way back.  He had to realize who he wasn’t, in order to realize who he was.  Once he realized that he was the true king, no matter what happened to his father, he realized he was the only one that could fight Scar and take back the land.  

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Lesson 3: Look out for others.  Lift each other up.  Be a village.  Serve instead of looking to be served.  “A King’s most powerful weapon is compassion.”  Mufasa told Simba that he only used his power when he had to.  He didn’t prance around killing animals just for the fun of it, even though he could have.  He genuinely cared about his village, and all of the other parts of the world that made his a better place.  He respected the circle of life.  He looked for ways to teach his son about his true identity, and his rightful place as King. More importantly, he taught him that being a King didn’t just mean power, it included a great responsibility, selflessness, and an awareness of the needs of others. 

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Let’s go!

I’ve always loved bike riding.  The sound of the gravel under the tires takes me back to my pink huffy bike, the breeze in my face, and the feeling of being close to nature bring me to a peaceful place. I get lost in my thoughts, but then my thoughts start to write themselves out in my head, and I follow them.  I commend the baby bunnies who don’t run when I approach.  Their curiosity wins, and their bravery makes me smile.  “Don’t lose your courage,” I tell them.  (In my head, of course).

I spy birds who think I can’t see them through the tress, and deer in the meadows of beautiful purple wildflowers that are just as tall as they are, and huge fish happily jumping out of the water as I pass by.

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I smile at the people I pass.  Some of them smile back, some don’t.  A few of them even look angry when I smiled at them.  It doesn’t bother me though, nothing could steal my bike ride peace.  I hope they find it someday.

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The air seems easier to breathe on the path where I enter the trees.  There are so many of them, and their oxygen fills my lungs.  I can take a deep breath, and I do!!! (without coughing!)

There are a few hills that I coast down, eyes closed, no hands! I love this part.  I feel myself becoming young again, coasting down the streets in the subdivision, feeling “cool,” before racing my sister around the corners.

I have a few favorite trees on the bike path.  They seem to hold many stories.  Stories that are told as people walk by.  Stories that are witnessed as people sit under their beauty.  Stories that float in from the echoes. They wrap their branches around them, and never let go.

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I pass people who are fishing.  Casting out, waiting, or casting out and reeling in immediately.  Each person, with their own way of finding success, or just enjoying the moment.

Tonight, I saw a huge bass being taken off the hook as I rode by.  I wanted to yell, “Great catch!,” like I was from a small town, and this was the local pond.  I yelled it in my head, and the small townspeople yelled back, “Thanks!,” (again, in my head).

That made me smile.

I was still smiling when the next group of walkers passed me by.  I could tell they wondered what I was smiling at.  They’d figure it out, if they looked left and saw the fish. Maybe.

The sunset was beautiful on the lake.  Especially the boat I captured in the middle.  Placed in the perfect place for the picture I took without stopping.  That made me smile too.

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Pictures never do the sunset justice.  It is the experience that a photo cannot capture.

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Great experiences always follow me on my bike rides.  They enter my mind, and then they write themselves.

Tonight I decided to share them with you.

I hope they made you smile.  I hope that one day, we will all be in that town.  We will all smile back at each other, and encourage each other, and that peace will be felt everywhere.