When your big kid texts, “Can I come home for the weekend?” you jump at the chance and say a resounding “Y-E-S.”
“With fear strangling me from the inside out, a soft gentle brave Voice kept wooing me to something different, something scary, yet something satiating and life-giving.”
Thank you, Becky Beresford, Author, for publishing my story.
I only have 9 more hours until my 24/1. Can’t wait.
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It happened again.
Children brought hope to my discouraged heart.
Hope in the form of painted rocks.
Painted rocks outside our local elementary school.
Messages of goodness, encouragement and kindness splattered all over simple gray stones.
In “pre-crazy times,” I would have thought, “how cute” and moved on quickly.
Not now. I stopped, savoring each one, breathing a prayer of thanks.
Thanks for each child. Thanks for the purest and simplest of words, designed to breathe life into my disheartened soul.
I needed these rocks. I needed these deliberate acts of kindness from children who decided to take a moment to paint rocks.
I want to be like them when I grow up.
Your heart, my friend, may be a little (or a lot) tender right now with all the constant change going on.
Today, I pray only kindness FOR you.
May all those you come in contact with act and speak kindly to you.
May unkind and critical mouths be shut so that discouragement has no voice.
May you see clearly all the ways you are shown kindness.
May every act of kindness satiate the empty and soothe the hurting spaces in your heart!
May all the kindness you receive overflow FROM you to others.
May you find ways to pass along this precious gift you have been given.
You won’t have to look very far.
It might even be that person who doesn’t deserve it.
Your kindness won’t be wasted.
That I know for sure.
From my heart to yours.
I got a leaf-blower for Christmas.
Not a girly, light leaf-blower.
A manly, heavy-duty, back-pack, professional leaf-blower.
Last fall, we moved to a house in the woods and there were lots of leaves once the trees said “goodbye for now” to their petals of yellow and orange.
Lots of leaves. Everywhere. Constantly.
Enough to jump in and be lost for days in a pile of them.
You get the point.
I begged my husband for said leaf-blower and when I opened my bright shiny Christmas package, I giggled with glee. My kids nodded in amusement because they just know.
What do they know?
They know some out-of-the-box, but very cute things about me. Okay, not so cute. More out-of-the-box. Or at least out-of-the-gender-culture-box.
I like those things about me.
I like them a lot.
I am who I am.
I am not super girly. Or more true, what culture says girly is.
I like NFL football.
I like being physically strong.
I like spreading mulch.
I like feeling powerful.
I like taking care of myself.
I really like rescuing people. In fact, I just did it this afternoon when my husband texted and said, “I have a flat tire.”
I like being a little manly. Or more true, what culture says manly is.
I am who I am.
You know how parents get a lot of things wrong?
This is a BIG DEAL one that my parents GOT RIGHT!!
They never ever told me who I should be. They let me be ME. Fully. Always.
If that meant being strong, so be it.
If that meant traveling alone in Europe at 21, so be it.
If that meant moving to North Dakota on a whim, so be it.
If that meant loving football, so be it.
Yesterday, we had a huge storm. Leaves everywhere. Branches down. The yard was a mess.
Guess what I did?
I woke up and declared mightily, “I am going outside. Where is the leaf-blower?”
You know how spouses get a lot of things wrong?
This is a BIG DEAL one that my spouse GETS RIGHT!!
He never tells me who I should be. He lets me be ME. Fully. Always.
If that means spreading mulch, so be it.
If that means having a fantasy football team, so be it.
If that means rescuing him on the side of the road, so be it.
If that means taking a picture of me donning my leaf-blower, looking powerful, so be it.
(SIDE NOTE: My hubs chuckled with admiration as he watched me…maybe he thought I was sexy with this giant backpack, conquering leaves and sticks and yard debris. I sure thought he was sexy when I went back into the house and found out he made the bed.)
One last thing.
Sometimes, I am not so strong.
Sometimes, I need help.
Sometimes, I am a girly girl. Or more true, what culture says girly is.
Sometimes, I can’t pull the throttle hard enough to turn a leaf-blower on.
Guess what my husband did?
My tall, flower-loving, bed-making, likes-to-shop-at-cute-little-shops partner still let me be ME. Fully. Always.
“Yes.” He said, “I’ve got you. I can turn that on for you.”
I am who I am. Period.
Manly. Girly. Me.
P.S. Our yard looks beautiful again. Driveways clear. Walkways clean. Sticks gone. Leaves blown. Yup.
Manly. Girly. Me.
- JUST DO THE VERY NEXT THING. I am not in any kind of position to plan ahead because my world is changing at break-neck speed. Don’t add anything extra to my plate right now. Add my best version of LOVE into the mixture and trust it will be really okay in the end.
- DIG DEEPER TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON BENEATH THE SURFACE. Is it fear? Is it bad boundaries? Is it people-pleasing? Is it comparison? Maybe it’s something good. Faith? Good boundaries? Being true to myself? Take a minute to listen.
- WATCH HOW MY BODY RESPONDS TO EACH OPTION. Do I tense up or do I sigh with at least some measure of relief? Check myself again and again until I sense which direction my body is sending me.
- SINK DOWN INSIDE OF MYSELF WHERE GOD DWELLS. He is filled wisdom and love, goodness and life, healing and hope and SO AM I. Trust my God-filled gut.
- GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO CHANGE MY MIND. The decisions I make do not have power over me. I have power over them. There is not one right one choice and everything will go to “hell in a hand-basket” if I make the wrong one. Change is often a good thing. It means I am learning and growing.
How did you feel, LITTLE ANT, the day your world was turned upside-down, the day I moved the huge rock that your whole little life revolved around and was protected by just so I could build a rock wall to line the fence in my yard?
How did you feel?
Maybe you felt…
CONFUSED. You were scampering along, working hard to take care of your family, happily doing what you were supposed to do. Suddenly, you found yourself exposed to a world you’d never known. Maybe you asked yourself, “What the heck just happened? Why oh why?” I don’t blame you. I would feel the same way.
Maybe you felt…
ANGRY. I know you did because you bit me, at least three times. I felt it sharply under my pants just moments later. You know what? I would bite me too. Maybe it was all your little self could do to yell, “THIS IS NOT RIGHT! SEND ME BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS!”
Maybe you felt…
OUT-OF-CONTROL. After all, life as you knew it had just changed forever. All those systems that you had put in place to make your little life easier and more predictable blew to bits. Your formula for how the world works and works well was upended, to say the least. When I ventured back to check on you, I saw a whole bunch of you just scurrying around, looking like you didn’t know what to do next.
Maybe you felt…
AFRAID. Who wouldn’t? I sure would. Would some giant ant-eater come out of the woods and gobble you up? Would your life ever look remotely the same as it had before the rock was taken away? Would your ant family be okay with this new normal? Would you be able to find another rock?
Maybe you felt…
SAD. Some of your family and friends were just taken away from you, some never to be seen again and some that you don’t know when you will see again, eat with, play with and work with. It’s just horrible, my little ant friend. Just horrible. It’s not really supposed to be this way and I’m so sorry what happened is putting you through this. I would just stop right now and cry the tears that are rightfully yours.
Maybe one day, LITTLE ANT, you will have a whole new world, one where you will be working, taking care of your family, busily at peace and full of new adventures. Yes. I bet it will happen soon enough.
But for now, my new found friend, I get it. I get you.
I’m with you and I AM you, more than you will ever know.
God-speed, my LITTLE ANT friend.
If you only knew what I really believe about faith…
Would you still worship with me?
If you only knew how I voted in the last election…
Would you still respect me?
If you only knew what’s happening in my home right now…
Would you still confide in me?
If you only knew what’s happened in my past…
Would you still value me?
If you only knew the number on my scale…
Would you still have grace for me?
If you only knew my opinions about the issues facing our world…
Would you still like me?
If you only knew how I spent my money…
Would you still be my friend?
If you only knew what goes on in my mind…
Would you still trust me?
I keep secrets.
I stay in my cage.
I show you a false version of me.
I protect my self at all costs.
ALL BECAUSE I WANT TO
belong to you.
be accepted by you.
be LOVED by you.
Jesus tenderly brings me out of hiding.
I have no secrets with Him.
He sets me free.
He allows the truest version of me.
He protects my REAL self at all costs.
I AM SO GRATEFUL THAT I
belong to Him
am accepted by Him
am LOVED by Him
I want to be Jesus with skin on FOR you.
I want the same FROM you.
Together, maybe we can show this Jesus to everyone else.
Oh may it be so.