The Un-fairy Tale

Sometimes we want something so bad, we look past the parts that don’t look like the fairy tale we created in our minds when we were young.

“We” are all of the young girls who imagined our Prince Charmings galloping in on great horses,  kissing us with true love’s kiss.

We wake up to that kiss and everything just falls into place.  Happiness trails behind us wherever we go, skipping hand in hand, smiling at each other.

And then… everything changes.  He becomes the parts we looked past at first.  The un-fairy tale unfolds.

We struggle to make things work because we believe in happy endings.  We hate failure.  We don’t want people to think we are not the princesses we longed to be.

We cry to our dearest friends, and they cry back.  They give us the courage we need to let the un-fairy tale go.

One day, we allow feelings of regret to seep in, and we think we lost all that time that was spent trying to make the fairy tale work.  But then, we realize how much we learned about ourselves from the struggle.

We admit our flaws, we draw strength from the mistakes, and we see the world more clearly.  We vow to our dearest friends to never look past the parts that don’t look like the fairy tale we created in our minds when we were young.

We realize that it might not be the happily ever after we dreamed up, but it became the un-fairy tale that simply ends as..

She lived.

Went for a drive today

I had time to kill today, so I went for a drive.  I drove out to the world I once knew just to see if it remained the same.  I wasn’t longing to be a part of it, I know it wasn’t meant to be, I just wanted to see it. I wanted to make sure it was still there.

I took it all in, reflected on it, and kept driving. It was so good for me to relive a few precious moments and filter out the not so great moments.  I felt alive while I drove, window down to feel the crisp breeze, music up.  I found a new happy place, driving in my Jeep, reliving happy memories.

I wish I had cherished the precious times a little more. Bottled them up.  Froze them.

On my way back I reflected on life.  Where I am right now, what I have going on… I just needed a moment to get away and think about it all.

Some things have happened recently that made me look in the mirror and examine myself.

My Mom and I talked on the phone today, right before my drive.  I mentioned to her that I find myself getting overwhelmed and fighting the “survival mode” that I lived in for so long.  I have finally moved beyond that mode, and I don’t want to go back.

My little sister said something to me this week that made a lot of sense… she said “we weren’t designed to be live in quarantine.”

I think the survival mode that I have been fighting is a different kind, and I should just let it sneak back in.  I keep expecting myself to float above it, but this life we are in is unlike anything we have ever experienced.

My drive today allowed me to just think.  To remember. To relive the memories that were frozen. To let them go until the next time I wanted to allow myself to feel them again.

 

 

Extra time on your hands?

There is something on my heart that I want to share with all of you in the midst of the crisis we are facing.  It is not political, and it does not include any statistics.

It is about you.

I created this blog, this place to write, this place to share my heart, my story, my healing journey, about two years ago.  The journey began from the pit, my unhappy self at the bottom, waiting to be pulled out.  I was waiting for something to happen, and I wanted to be rescued.

I looked up, cried out, and then waited.  I had extra time on my hands, waiting, so I decided to start unpacking the imaginary bags that were with me in that pit.

If you have read my posts for the past two years, you know that many of the bags held people.  People I had to recognize, forgive, sometimes let go of, and always love.

I found myself struggling with all of it.  I experienced many setbacks.  I felt like I was standing at a wall, bags unpacked and strewn all around me.  I found myself trying to escape.  I was so ready to move on and put it all behind me.  Something was hindering my escape over the wall.

I sat back down and examined the steps I took, and I determined that I needed help.  I realized that this is not something that could be accomplished on my own.  I started reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” by Peter Scazzero.

I learned that I was living in the 10% of myself that was above the surface.  The idea is that most people bury themselves, the tough parts, and choose to live above them.  It is easier to forget the hard parts, and just move past them.  Eventually, the hard memories  rise up, no matter how hard we try to keep them below the surface.  They can strangle us if we don’t take the time to work through them.

So, there I was, at that wall, ready to overcome whatever I needed to overcome.  The book I was reading mentioned the wall as “a number of events piling up one after the other.”  I started to see writing on the bricks of my wall.  There were names of people, there were bad experiences, haunting memories, and sadness.  The author states that he tried to go around, jump over, and dig a hole under his wall.  He finally went through it because the “pain of staying felt unbearable.”

His words hit home.  I wanted to go through my wall too.  How???

I continued reading, and then I felt like I was led to two more resources that were necessary to find the answer to that question (how?).

The first one was called “Healing Prayer,” from Donna Winship.  I sat in a room with several other women, eyes closed, and imagined myself back in the first hard place that came to mind… rocking a baby to sleep.  The baby was not mine.  Confusion, anger, feelings of unimportance, and feelings of being replaced welled up inside of me.  The feelings were wrapping themselves around me, like deep waters I could no longer tread.  Just as I was going under, the woman who was leading the meeting said, “now picture Jesus there with you, in that moment.”  As tears fell, I pictured Him there, next to me, next to the rocking chair, smiling, hugging me.  Through prayer, I released it all. I released the feelings, the lies I told myself about myself, and I released others in forgiveness.  The woman leading the meeting told me to receive the truth, and walk in that truth.

That experience was life changing.  It was the answer to “how do I go through that wall?”

I continued, on my own, throughout the next year, bringing tough memories back to my mind.  Picturing Jesus there in those moments, feeling His loving arms wrapped around me, and releasing it all to Him.

Each memory that built that wall, as I released it, faded.  Eventually, it was gone completely.

The only thing left was love.

The second resource I stumbled upon was Donna Winship’s husband Jamie Winship on YouTube.  He spoke about knowing our true identity.  I was intrigued because I had no clue what that meant.

Identity.

Jamie informed me that I am unique, and that I was called to do something that no one else was called to do.  He informed me that my purpose is unique.  No one else can, or was called to, do the things that I was placed here (at this very moment, in this house, neighborhood, workplace, mission field) to do.  As I listened to these words, I felt my heart grow.  I was excited to jump in and do whatever it was that I was supposed to do.

I closed my eyes, as directed, and asked God to show me the identity that he gave me.  I wanted to know my unique purpose.

It did not happen instantly.  I read more, listened more, and sought it as often as I could.

I had to realize who I was not in order to see who I was supposed to be.

I no longer wanted to be an angry, insecure, unworthy, unimportant, struggling, and ill-equipped person. Once these false identities were acknowledged, and swept out of my mind, I was able to see what remained.  My mind was filled with truth, and my identity became daughter, leader, healer, conquerer.

Some days I live in my true identity.  Some days I fall back into my false identity.

The secret lies in knowing that my false identities can creep back in, but also knowing that I hold the broom.  I just have to sweep them back out and exchange them again.  Seems so simple, yet it took a long time to figure it all out.

I created this blog to share my journey with others who want to experience the same healing and freedom.  I hope that these words that I felt nudged to write today, in the midst of this crisis, bring hope and healing to you.

In these moments when our world seems to be falling apart, we can rise up and live out our unique purpose.

 

The sinkhole

The past four months have been a blur.  Some days flew by me at a pace I could not keep up with, and some days I was sinking slowly into sadness.

My peace was gone.

The sadness felt like a sinkhole.

I was covered in guilt and shame.  It blinded me.

Daily, on my own, I fought to keep my head from giving up and joining the sadness in the sinkhole.

Until… TODAY.

Today, I realized that it is impossible to fight this alone.

Right now, TODAY, I am reaching out.

As soon as I ask, I see this loving hand reaching down.  It reminds me of the day I fell in the lake on my 5th birthday and I saw my grandpa’s hand reaching down, miraculously, gently, and lovingly lifting me out of the water.

As my body emerges from the sinkhole, I am surrounded by love.

The sand disintegrates, and every grain is replaced by love.

His love was waiting for me.

I realized, today, that His love will never leave that place of waiting.

He will meet me there. Every time.

The sinkhole disappeared as I walked away from it.

Stronger.

And healed (again).

I am ready to place my feet on the new path.

Hoping to stay on the right one.

 

 

 

Coffee Talk

We met every Wednesday morning for about eight years. We, about 8-10 women, brought our kids to play together while we talked, ate delicious food, and drank endless amounts of coffee.

I don’t think we realized how crucial those Wednesdays were at the time.

I needed these women.

To breathe for me.

Some days.

My oldest child was two when we met. My second child was about six months old. I was pregnant with my third child, and two years later, I had my fourth.

I drove over there five days after my fourth child was born, because their love was more important to me than the risk I took driving. That was the moment I realized how much coffee talk meant to me.

Our kids loved it too. They begged to have play dates every day in between. They became superheroes fighting for the world, costumes and all. They learned about friendship, playing in the mud, being kind sometimes, and what it feels like to have lots of mommies who love you.

We named ourselves, the women who loved each other’s children as if they were her own, and our meetings “coffee talk.” It was such a simple title, yet, the love that poured in on those days could be felt for almost the whole week!

For me, it was about survival. Raising children, and trying to stay married.

Our weekly talks gave me the fuel I needed to get through the toughest moments of my life.

We prayed for each other too, as big giant tears fell down our cheeks.

We were all struggling with something. We brought it in with us, talked about it, received advice, and always left feeling ready to conquer it. The transformation was truly amazing.

As I reminisce, I miss those days. I’m thankful for the moments, but more than that, I realize how important it was for us to be together.

I wish I could publicly call out each one of the women at coffee talk who kept me alive back then. I’d hand them a ribbon, or a trophy. Or, maybe just clink my coffee cup against theirs and say THANK YOU.

How have I raised 2 adults???

Most days I feel like I am flying through life holding onto an imaginary rope that is pulling me.  I have to hold on tight, since it is the rope that is allowing me to be a part of life.  Most days I feel like I am just holding on.

Life is just going by so fast!

July 20, 2000, I became a mom.  I’ll never forget the moment I looked at the little human that came out of my belly.  He looked up at me like he knew me.  His cries immediately ceased when his skin touched mine.  We were connected in the most amazing way.

I couldn’t believe that God would choose ME to be his mom. I felt so inadequate and so thankful at the same time.

January 25, 2002, it happened again.  That connection.  The pain that I went through for hours prior to that moment instantly faded. Our eyes met, our skin touched, and I changed again.

December 3, 2003, and February 28, 2006.  3rd and 4th experiences of becoming a mom again. Each time was unique, each connection just as powerful and amazing.

The four days that I became a mom will always be the BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.

Two of my four children are now adults.

I thought maybe if I typed those words they might seem more true, more real to me…

Nope.

Somehow, the magical age of 18 does not make them adults in my mind.  They will always be my babies.  I will always see them the way we saw each other that first day.

I will never let go of them.

Yet, I have to.

I have to trust that everything I have done so far, and everything that everyone who has influenced them so far, will be enough.  I have to believe that they are capable of being adults.

Yesterday, my most recent adult drove us to Ann Arbor (over an hour away).  As I sat in the passenger seat, silently trusting her every maneuver, I realized that this is what I must continue to do…  Let her “drive.”

She did great, and I was impressed.  I looked over a few times, at how comfortable she was behind the wheel, and how much she no longer needed me to help her navigate.  I realized in that moment, that she has the “wheel.”

She has control.

She will be okay.

Letting go must be a process.  I am only beginning to understand how it all works. Maybe that imaginary rope that I am holding on to most days, is now theirs.

I hope that these adults I have raised will do more than just hold on.  I hope they can let go sometimes, without the fears I had, and just live.  I hope the world doesn’t pass them by the way it sometimes has for me.

I hope they will always know how much I love them.

I hope they never forget our connection.

 

Validation – what have you done to receive it?

This is a tough question for me.  I am ashamed of who I used to be, and what I used to do to receive validation.

I ran into an old friend recently who asked me what I’ve been up to for the past twenty years. Part of my answer, for some reason, was that I turned my life around.  I have no idea why I said it, but it prompted him to ask me what that meant.

He knew me when I was at my worst.

The conversation led to us discussing validation.  I admitted that, when I was in my early twenties, I used to crave validation.  I remember feeling like I wasn’t worth anything to anyone unless I was giving them what they wanted.  This mentality caused me to be taken for granted in many situations, but I know it was my own fault.  I kept doing the same things over and over in order to feel worthy of the attention.

Some of the things I’ve done still haunt me today.

I remember, vividly, being in certain situations thinking, “Why am I doing this? This is not me! I hate this! I hate that I keep doing this!”

I knew who I wasn’t, but I did not know who I was.  

I wanted to stop.

Stop being the girl with no identity.

I remember the first time I met someone who liked me for who I was. I wanted to know the person they saw. I wanted to meet her.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Thirteen Going On Thirty,” being with this person was similar to thirteen-year-old Jennifer Garner waking up as her thirty-year-old self. When she saw herself in the mirror, she was forced to see who she had become.

I looked at this new “mirror” friend with confusion. I was showered with acceptance and affirmation for no reason.

I met more people like my mirror friend.

And then, I met their source of love.

It didn’t happen immediately. It took a long time – about twenty years actually – to truly feel the depth of it.

I started to value myself.

My identity emerged when I finally allowed the love to overtake me.

Nothing I did, or could do, would provide true validation.

Only His love.

My big crazy family

She walked in, glowing.

She hugged everyone with so much love flowing from her heart that we didn’t want to let go.

As I watched, I was overtaken with emotion.  I held in the tears, I thought.  They didn’t fall down my cheeks, but they watered my eyes.

She walked over to me and said, “you look like you are ready to cry!”  I told her why, and she cried. And then I cried. And then everyone who saw us crying, cried.

It was in that moment that I realized how much love this big crazy family has for each other.

Our love gets lost sometimes. It gets mixed up in the busy, and feels distant with the miles we have to travel for those hugs.  It feels far away until those hugs round it up again.  If we gathered up all of the love, and tried to bundle it into the biggest Santa Jan bag, it would burst at the seams.

Christmas at my grandparents house was the event we looked forward to all year. The aunts, uncles, and cousins eagerly gathered to celebrate. It was never about the gifts under the tree. The memories we share include laughter, love, hugs, lectures we hated hearing but took to heart and allowed to shape us.

The aunts and uncles would smile, and actually look excited to see us, when we arrived.  The cousins would jump up and down, eager to play outside in the driveway, on the hill, “accidentally” adventuring over the forbidden hill in the creek at the bottom, in the basement under the stairs, on the slot machines with Grandpa’s quarters, or just be.

Together.

My aunt kept all of that tucked inside over the years. She knew she was missing it all those years, and did whatever it took to join us this year.

The tears we couldn’t control were evidence of the love we share.

I wouldn’t trade anything for

my

BIG

cRaZy

F❤️mily.

 

 

I walked right past her…

I was out shopping a few weeks ago, searching for a winter coat.  My white coat finally retired after eight cold Michigan winters full of sledding, shoveling, shivering, and a little bit of skiing.  I haven’t thrown it away because it is still storing some memories.

The store was fancy.  People seemed frantic.  I walked right past her.  I didn’t even see her sitting there, alone.  My friend Karen stopped, smiled, and said the friendliest “hello” to the little old lady sitting alone, on the edge of what must’ve been a very uncomfortable square block shared by the mannequins behind her.

At first, the little old lady looked startled. Quickly, she smiled back, and her heart filled up.  I saw the sweetest transformation!  Her heart filled up and she smiled right back! Karen made her day.  She noticed this woman that I flew right past.  She saw her, and connected with her.

Karen’s smile and “hello” must’ve brought the little old lady back to a time when that was the norm.  I see it happen in all of the old movies, so it must’ve been the norm.  Waving to people as they pass, stopping to say hello, or just a sweet smile.  Making people feel… important.  Valuing them.  Seeing them.

I wonder if the little old lady went out that day, with her daughter perhaps, just so that she wasn’t alone at the nursing home.  Stuck in a small room, silence as loud as a deafening concert.  Loneliness screaming at her.  I wonder if she knew she would get tired of shopping rather quickly, but she’d rather share a mannequin’s uncomfortable square block than hear the silence.  I wonder if she felt the world passing her by.  I wonder if she gave up on people saying hello, waving, and smiling at her.

Whatever the reason, Karen’s gesture was exactly what the little old lady needed that day.

Karen taught me something that I was able to teach my daughter this past Friday.

We went to the gym to play tennis.  Sometimes, the people at the gym aren’t very friendly.  This past Friday, my daughter had a bad experience with a staff member who who was very stressed out, and not so nice to her.  As my daughter relayed the story to me, I tried to explain all of the reasons why the staff member might have been overwhelmed: the tennis area was busy, several people were demanding things from her, we were a few minutes late for our court time, we didn’t know how it all worked, and we had a lot of questions…

My daughter was still very upset about how she was treated.

I thought back to Karen, and the little old lady at the fancy store.  I told my daughter that we will experience stressed out people almost daily throughout our lifetime.  We can either take it personally, or we can be merry & bright. I know it sounds fluffy and fake, but it works. When we want to respond to negativity with negativity, no one wins. If we respond with positivity in the form of a smile, even in the midst of the figurative arrows that might be shot right at us, we might just make someone’s day.

I hope that the little old lady returned to her home a little bit happier that day.

I hope that, even in the midst of the negativity that this world brings, we never forget that we have love, and hope to share.

There is darkness in the world, but it has been overcome.  There was a battle, between good and evil, and good won.  There has been a victory.

An endless love pours out over us, allowing us to be

Merry & Bright.

 

A room full of tears

My grandfather’s brother’s wife passed away this past week.

I went to her funeral today.

It was the first funeral I’ve ever attended where tears were shed, by every single person in the room.

The room was large, and the tears that fell filled it.

This woman, my Aunt Betty, left a great impression on everyone she met.

I’ll never forget the way she looked at me with kindness, smiled at me with love, and affected me with genuine care. Even though my Aunt Betty had 10 children, and several more grandchildren, she still treated me like I was the only one in the room when she spoke to me. Her heart, and her smile, made me feel special.

I have to believe that every person in that room today had a similar experience with my Aunt Betty. I have to believe that every tear that fell held a similar memory.

She was a devoted grandmother to the young young boy who knew she’d read to him every time he requested a book.

She was a mother who “worked hard at loving all of her children,” according to one of them.

Her daughter found this poem, and read it to her before she passed away:

Aunt Betty held a torch. She held it when she married young, when she fought to marry the man she felt was worth fighting for. She held it when she lost that man several years ago. She held it even when she was ready to go.

She passed the torch this past week. She passed it to all of us.

We will do our best to love the way she loved, to look at people the way she did, and to make people feel as special as she made them feel.

2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”