Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It's the end of the crap as I've known it...

It's been quite a while since I've written.  New Year's of 2016, to be exact.  I've started four seven blog posts since then and written a little on that November novel.  Lots of school papers, too. But for the most part, there's been no time or space to write.

In moving to Virginia, we briefly lost everything.

Lost is such a dramatic word, I know. You all have my permission to roll your eyes in dramatic teenage fashion at the drama of my word choices. I suppose I could find a less angsty word to describe what happened to us since April 2016. There are some good words to be associated with the losing, which I'll share in a bit. But in the beginning, lost describes it best.

Lost: past and past participle of lose.
        1. unable to find one's way; not knowing one's whereabouts.
        2. denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered.

Have you ever felt lost in your life? Here's how it happened to us:

The girls and I were renting a house in Denver which the landlords decided to sell in the booming housing market. Unable to afford rent elsewhere...as the prices of rent are ludicrous in Denver, and will be for a while...we decided to come back home to Salem. It took a lot to get here. Parenting plans, permission, notices at work, logistics, finances, moving truck, storage...and and and. Those were the tangible things and every single one of them were difficult. It was so hard, after coming off of the two previous years of stress, crisis and chaos that I was mentally exhausted by May 31st. I couldn't think clearly about simple things.

But, there were good words to cling to in the moving, so I did. Words like family, support, peace, hope, love, consistency. Rest. If I could just get us here, to this green corner of Virginia, we would be okay.

But the bad words had to be lived through first. Fear, uncertainty, weariness, panic, sadness, regret, confusion, anger.  Lost.

We had a home and then we didn't. Life was hard in Denver and had gotten markedly tougher since January, because the official legal disentangling of my 19 year marriage had begun. But we had a home and friends, a church we adored, school was finally getting better for the girls, and I adored my work at The Challenge School.

Honest- I didn't want to leave.

And yet, my soul longed for some rest. Some freakin peace.

I lost every ounce of security to reach for it. (Dramatic eye roll again. Because it's true. But still dramatic.)

God provided rest. And now, newness. Of course He did. The Maker of the Stars will never ever let us down when we choose to trust like little children. But it didn't happen as soon as our moving truck made it to Virginia. It has taken a whole year, a difficult and long one. However, I needed to learn some important stuff that I just had to live through, discomfort and all.

TWO BIG THINGS:
1. We must actually climb up from the valley to the top of the mountain.
2. Our attitude along the way makes all the difference as to whether we actually make it or not.

“We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” 
― Cheryl StrayedBrave Enough

This is the second truest thing I've read outside of the Bible this year. I somehow wrongly believed that Salem was the mountaintop- that we would leave the dry plains of Denver...what a bad metaphor there, sorry friends...and be transported to the mountaintop of Roanoke. That in driving across the country last summer we would metaphorically climb the mountain and all would be Rivendell when we got here.

Truth- That could never be because the things which were keeping us in the valley had to be climbed up and over. Surmounted. Scaled and made victor over.

UNDER OUR FEET.

That isn't easy work at all. Blood is involved. It's not easy even with the best of mindsets starting out. But that's not what we had, not even close.

I'm going to be very honest here.

We had broken. broken broken so very broken BROKEN...can't you see our brokenness, our deer-in-the-headlights trauma, our shock numbness PTSD...why are you wanting us to act and be normal, CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WE'VE LIVED THROUGH?? kind of

brokenness.

I'm not only referring to the chaos of the move, I'm talking about all the things which took place that I can't talk about. And I suppose that's what made us such freaks. We carried our brokenness on our outsides, like strange costumes, and others could sense it. But we couldn't talk about it. Sometimes we tried. But it was too much and too deep. We all have moments in our lives like that, yes?

So we didn't so much start climbing up the mountainside when we reached Salem as we did grovel around on the ground next to it. Needless to say, not much progress was made.

Let me be clear here- the truth was that things had happened which caused legitimate fracturing inside of us. That is indisputable fact. I'm not going to cover what's taken place in some glossy, "You can have your best day ever", Joel Osteen kind of crap. This is not the kind of brokenness that one positive self-talks their way out of.

But you can die with that kind of attitude. You can sit and stay in that ugly, I DIDN'T DESERVE ANY OF THIS, kind of place...and you can just stay there until your death day.

You see, you have to let go of all of it if you want to live. To move forward, climb that mountain. Here is the beautiful thing-

We have a choice.

We can acknowledge what has happened- no hiding from ourselves or God- and then we can lay it down. Surrender.

You don't have to be broken anymore.

That bears repeating-
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BROKEN ANYMORE.

I went up for prayer at our church two Sundays ago. The message had been speaking to me...beating me gently, yet relentlessly...about our suffering, our brokenness. You see I had lived broken for a whole year- well, much longer than that, really- and I was done with it. But I couldn't pull myself out it on my own, I'd tried. I had to surrender the attitude. I did that day.

I finally feel free. But it's more than a feeling- it's truth. The attitude doesn't have me as its slave anymore. More specifically, as I believe, Satan isn't holding me captive in brokenness any longer.

Mountain climbing should be much more efficient now. I am hopeful and joyful...and light...for the first time in a very long time.

There is still some healing that needs to take place. I'm not going to gloss over that part either. I finally understand we can acknowledge the things that have happened to us without staying stuck in them. We must tell the truth- to ourselves and to God, and we have to live out the processes of healing and forgiveness. That's mountain climbing. With a healthy attitude.

This entire post reminded me of one of my favorite books- Hind's Feet on Hind Places.  It's a classic, about a crippled shepherdess named Much Afraid, who travels to the High Places with the Great Shepherd. All allegory, about our lives as we make our way each day through this Earth. I've read it more times than I can count, and its messages have carried me through some tough moments in my life.

(That copy above is 20 years old...THE JARS OF CLAY EDITION, for all you 90s Christian pop culture nerds out there. Go get yourself a copy- I'm sorry yours won't be as cool as mine.)

Thanks as always for listening, dear readers. Peace to you all today.











Sunday, January 3, 2016

I dreamed a dream...

Welcome 2016...

I've been sitting here for three solid days...in my brain...trying to figure out what to write about 2015. There's been a war waging inside of me.  Do I write the ugly truth of all I discovered last year? Should I only focus on the good?  There was so much good.  Or can there be a balance of both?

Honestly?  I just want to cry and throw some pics up on here, with some music, and call it good.  I wasn't expecting the tears right now...why the heck am I crying???

Because 2015 was hard.

I just asked Maise, who's sitting on my bed right now, if she could bring me some tissues.  Our conversation:

"Are you crying Mom????" She sounds incredulous.

"Yes."

"Why??"

"I have no idea.  I'm emotional today and I'm trying to sum up our entire last year on my blog."

She laughs.

"Okay Mom."  She gets up.

"Maise, actually just bring me a whole roll of toilet paper...not sure how long this is going to last. Thanks."

She cracks up as she walks in the bathroom.

"I could only find 1/3... no wait, I mean 2/3rds a roll under the counter, Mom.  This is going to have to work."

I laugh.

"Mom. You just wheezed...you sound like that toy from Toy Story." She breaks into very dramatic wheezing sounds.

We laugh and laugh.  Now I'm crying from laughing.

And...just like that, I know now what to write.

Here goes...

In 2015, I dreamed a dream of healing and hope. 



The year started out like this:




This accurately sums up the amount of pain I was carrying at the start of 2015.  That part in the video where she starts gasping for air...around the two minute, forty five second mark...yes, that feeling. When trying to describe my pain to a dear friend earlier this year, I actually played this video.  And my friend understood.  This is hopeless pain.  We've all experienced it at some point in our lives, yes?  

My pain felt extra hopeless because I was viewing it through the unique frames of mindset glasses I disgustingly acknowledge to be 

Victim Mentality Sunglasses.

Ugh.  Yep, I'd been wearing those shades my entire life.  They felt...comfortable...in their hopelessness, honestly.  Their attitude told me that all this pain was someone's else's fault.  I picked up those glasses in childhood and they had served me pretty conveniently at times throughout my life.  

Except

They don't actually help at all.  They tie a person up in the idea that if someone else caused all this pain and misery, then only someone else can fix it. Not me, certainly not me...I can only limp along broken, waiting and hoping for the impossible.  

I'm about to vomit just thinking about how pathetic my victim mentality was.  Ugh.  We all know how gross and small victim mentality makes a person.  

There is some truth in it, though.  Someone DID fix it for me...someone paid for all the injustices.  

(I'm crying again.  Partly because this writing is hard today. I want to, want to quit.  But, also tears for my thankfulness.  So thankful Christ paid my injustices.  A new person, a fresh start...behold, old things have passed away and ALL has become NEW.)

"Oh praise the one who paid my debts and
Raised this life up from the dead."

But all that fresh start in Christ means nothing if my own mindset stops it.  

Lessons learned in 2015:

1. Stop being a victim.  

It was hard.  More difficult than I really care to put into words, so I'm not going to.  But I feel I did the work and broke the evil, death-inducing victim mentality off of me.  Sometimes it creeps back up, because the pain the girls and I have experienced is real and confusing, and sadly it continues to be perpetrated against them.  They are so brave and carry themselves with beautiful, strong dignity.   We fight victim mentality hard in this family...the girls understand it and we fight it together. 

...There are two girls on my bed now.  Ainsley joined Maise and they are talking and laughing and playing music.  I remember when I used to be such a writing diva that I had to have a completely silent environment, which leads me to lesson number two:

2. Work through the noise.

One foot in front of the other, in front of the other, over and over again.  Fall down, get back up...all the pithy, motivational quotes you've heard all your life really do apply. And I want to share my favorite good words, from my amazing former counselor. I say former because I am DONE WITH COUNSELING, since summer, because he feels I have "everything I need, inside of me, to face any situation and build the life that feels right and is healthy for me".  Let me tell you, that makes a girl feel good!  He says:

Take small steps in the direction in which you want to go.  Not big steps, or big decisions, but small ones.  Everyone is capable of small steps and they will get you there quicker than you think.

Yes. 
 
And finally...

3.  Embrace the joy you find every single day.

We laugh a lot together in this family.  We cry together too...and yell sometimes.  But, oh, we laugh.  To the point of crying, can't breathe, rolling on the ground choking on water, kind of laughing.  

In case you don't believe me:






 












2015 was tough in ways 2014 wasn't.  But 2015 brought good lessons out of tough personal work and so much grace.  These pictures were all from this year.  I've said before that God brings joy after the mourning. But I believe now that He brings it during the mourning, too.    

Joy is such a gift.  






I dreamed a dream and it came true.  There's work ahead, of course.  Always is.  But we've got what it takes in this little family of Lumsden girls to get it done.  With some help...lots of help...from the Maker of the Stars.

Peace, friends.  







Friday, November 6, 2015

Fighting...becoming...

I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo- National Novel Writing Month.  It is a crazy, worldwide thing in which one commits to writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  I have started this quest the past three Novembers, and have yet to get much beyond day 10.  I am more diligent this year though- I am logging my word count on the NaNoWriMo website and even almost attempted attending a "write in" last night at my local library. 

(I made it to the library and scoped out the very minuscule-y small conference closet in which everyone was gathering.  They were all sitting very close together around an oval table and taking turns telling about their novels.  Every single bit of my introverted personality came rushing to the surface and I almost passed out right on the spot just thinking about walking in that room.  I rushed upstairs to Maise and very forcefully exclaimed there's no way in Hercules' uncle's domain that I'm walking in that room.  She was sad for me until I described it to her...then she shuttered with me.  I walked past again an hour later, taking a coffee break from all the writing I was doing at an upstairs table, and they were still all talking to each other.  I ran.) 

Folks,  the moral...theme... of this part of the post today is:

Introverts unite...in writing your novel alone, while a group of outgoing strangers writes their novels together, one floor below you. 

Seriously.  Yes.  Exactly.

Moving on...

NaNoWriMo is hard.  I'm coming to realize that fiction writing is tough for me.  I think I might suffer from a sufficient lack of imagination.  As much as I love story...and I truly deeply do...I'm not sure I can create it out of thin air.  The words either come too easy and are crap, or they come forth painfully...and still sound like crap.  

But I'm sticking this thing out to the end this time.  I need to finally finish what I've started.  This might be the crappiest 50,000 words to ever be typed, but they are gonna be there.  Formed out of nothing.  

And you know what?  I don't even honestly care that I might not be a fiction writer.  I feel relief at that, actually.  It frees me up to be who I am...a writer.  Yes.  But maybe not a literary made up story writer.  Maybe a truth teller of real life writer. 

I didn't write for almost two years.  I let life knock me to the ground and I stayed there. 

Honest- life is still shoving the air out of my lungs.  Just when I think we've hit solid ground...a stable place...upheaval strikes again.  But I'm gonna write this time.  I have a million excuses why I could stop.  A huge one is the fact that exactly none of the words I'm writing right now count towards the 50K.  Ugh.  The point is it doesn't matter what I write, only that I finish.   

For all you novelists out there, please do not take offense at my words.  You create beautiful stories  and I will consume them gratefully, humbly honoring the fact you can do what I'm realizing I can't. 

Some of the best and most remembered art is created at the low points in our lives.  When we have pain, worry, fear, doubt or loss, the truth that comes out of those moments is as real as we can get.  I'm not sure what perpetually happy people write...probably self-help books for the rest of us.  I'm sure self-help books are important...at least the good ones.  I digress...

I am fighting to become who I am.  Aren't we all fighting to become who we are? 

For me, it is a writer.  NaNoWriMo is for me.  Not for the art, but for the struggle to create it.  In the midst of chaos and discomfort, I will be real and write.  What will you do today to become who you are? 

I'm going to end this post with a song.  It might be completely cheesy and heavy handed, but I must.  I heard this song twice tonight as I was driving home from work and doing that thing in which I flip radio stations incessantly.  And while I know I'm seriously late to the fan club on this song, I adore it.  It is way too pop for my usual tastes, but it resonates in my soul. (Besides, I discovered Mumford and Sons before essentially the rest of the world, so that should last me in cool points for...well, forever.)

I read tonight that the artist of this song wrote it while in a very low place in her music career.  This incredibly strong song came from a place of pain and struggle and confusion.  Fighting.  Becoming.  It paid off.

Peace.  

 








 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On being bravery and light...

This is the most important blog post I will ever write.  You may think that's a lofty sentiment.  I might feel the same if I was sitting in your shoes and seat right now too.  But wait. 

Just wait for it.

My pride and love as a mother are about to burst out of my insides and spill all over in brilliant pools of light.  

My daughters are going on mission trips this summer.  They are leaving this country and time zone and all that is familiar to help people in need around the globe!

Did you catch that last bit about AROUND THE GLOBE??

Yes.  Deep breath.  Maise and Ainsley...15 and 12 respectively...are going to Costa Rica.  And Onnie, 17, is going to Lebanon.  Beirut, to be exact.  

My beautiful and brave girls, full of light and hope, are so excited to share that light and hope with the world. 

(I know you are still holding your breath from reading "Lebanon"...so I will explain some more.  It's okay, you can breathe.  Please breathe.)

Our church, Denver United...660 S Broadway, Denver CO 80209...is sending two teams overseas this summer.  Maise and Ainsley will be traveling with their youth pastor and experienced team leaders to Alajuaelita, Costa Rica, a suburb of San Jose and the poorest county in Costa Rica, per capita.  While there, they will do a VBS for the kids of the area, feed families, help with building projects for the community there, pray with people, and much more.  They will be partnering with 6:8 ministries in country, and this is a return trip to the area for Denver United...a team went there last year too. 

In case you think their trip to Costa Rica sounds like a cushy vacation...because, let's be honest here...the name conjures up lush beaches and jungle and gorgeousness...well, it is a service trip, friends.  In the poorest area of the country in which the unemployment rate is 65% and prostitution is legal and a sad, main form of income for many families.  Their trip is vital in bringing hope to this area of the world. 

Onnie will be traveling with a team to Beirut, where she will also do a VBS for Syrian refugee children.  She will be working with Horizon's International, an organization which has been ministering in the area for many years, was founded by her team leader's father and is currently run by his brother.  

You are still waiting for me to talk about safety, I know you are.  Here we go...you get to hear the coolest story ever...

Onnie and Maise and I got the incredible opportunity and privilege of talking to Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis on Sat night at an event called the Simply Jesus Gathering.  Ted Dekker...New York Times best-selling author...my favorite author...he is about the nicest famous person I've ever met.  I'm not sure he even knows he's famous.  He hugged us all...let me rephrase, he asked if he could hug us and we of course, duh, said YES!... and we chatted. Then Onnie told him about her trip.  

You see, he's a teeny bit familiar with Lebanon...he wrote this book with Carl Medearis called "Tea with Hezbollah" a few years back, in which he and Carl actually did that...went to the Middle East and met scary people.  He's been to Lebanon twice, actually.  He thought Onnie's trip was super cool and he told her to read Tea with Hezbollah...because, it's on our bookshelf already and she hasn't yet. 
 
Then we went to talk to Carl.  He and his family were missionaries in Beirut for 12 years, he is very involved in creating conversation and common ground between Muslims and Christ followers, he takes senators and other Washington people on trips to the Middle East to see another side of the story of humankind, his daughter made a beautiful film called Our Land about the people of the Middle East region and just moved back to Beirut this week...well, I could probably go on and on here...but, needless to say, he knows Lebanon. 

He told Onnie that Beirut is actually safer than the neighborhood we were in that night...downtown Denver.  He wasn't the first person we have heard those words from.  He told her to enjoy her trip, every second of it.  He also asked her age, and when she said 17, he said

"I am proud of you."

So am I, dear readers and friends and family.  More than I can even form into words.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know the past several years have been very difficult for our family, especially the past 12 months.  I believe these trips are going to bring healing to my girls, as they step outside all familiar comfort zones and give of themselves.  I am praying and believing for that. 

They have to raise $1600 each for Costa Rica, and $3200 for Lebanon.  Onnie's already halfway to her goal, with the generous help of family, friends and donors from our church.  Maise and Ainsley are honestly sitting on close to zero at the moment, and their first big deadline...plane ticket purchases...is coming up this Sunday, May 3rd. 

I am just going to ask here...because these are my daughters and I believe in them...

Would you consider partnering with them on these trips by donating?  Even a dollar will help to get them there.  Even if you might not be a Christ follower or understand/believe in mission trips...will you believe in my daughters?  In their wide, innocent hearts full of light and love waiting to be shared? 

I have set up a GoFundMe to make giving easy.  Donations can be made publicly or anonymously.  You can go to it here:


Thanks, everyone.  If you pray, please pray for my girls as they work toward their goals with these trips and as they travel and bring light.  

As they are brave.

Peace.  

*Other important links you might like:
Denver United Church- http://denverunited.com
Pray For MENA- http://pray4mena.org 
6:8 Ministries- http://www.68ministries.org 
Carl Medearis- http://carlmedearis.com 
Ted Dekker- http://teddekker.com 

 

 


 


Short-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8033115_definition-mission-trips.html
hort-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8033115_definition-mission-trips.html
hort-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8033115_definition-mission-trips.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Voodoo Incident.

I wrote this last April but never published it.  At the time, it had been an insanely frightening and frustrating event.  For sheltered me, raised in small town VA and forbidden to drive downtown as a teen because Roanoke was obviously such a scary place...well, The Voodoo Incident was gigantic.

But that was early last year.  I feel I've experienced a thousand new and unsettling moments since then. I can look back and laugh now. But the point I make at the end of this little story is still just as important today as it was that warm night in April 2014.  I need to hear it in my own journey right now.

I am leaving the writing as is, unpolished. I wrote it in about an hour...the day after...so it is rough. But it's honest.  Here's to still learning lessons everyday.  Enjoy.

The Voodoo Incident

In an attempt to be a good and hip mom, I agreed to take the girls on a late night doughnut run downtown last night, after youth group. Onnie had a newspaper assignment profiling the famous, Portland-come-to-Denver establishment on East Colfax...Voodoo Doughnut. Since our church is on East Broadway, it seemed a ten pm sugar high was appropriate.

The place was busy- I've heard they are always busy. The doughnut selection is fun, diverse and presented in glass spinning towers. The place is funky, cheap, open 24 hours, and very ultra hip...the workers are tattooed and pierced, nice and slightly intimidating. Cash only, and there's an ATM on site to prove the point. I'd be a little afraid to try to pull a debit card out, honestly. “NO DOUGHNUT FOR YOU!”

We drove around a bit, looking for a parking space. East Colfax at night isn't the easiest place to find parking. There was a lovely empty lot almost exactly behind Voodoo...a dentist's office deserted for the night. We passed it once, there was one car in the lot. We slowed a second time, another car was there, and the girls talked me into parking. I didn't see obvious no parking signs and we were honestly only going to be in Voodoo for ten minutes- Onnie will take pics, we will order deliciousness, pay and leave with our sassy pink box.

You know where this is heading, right?

Our experience in Voodoo was fun and silly and I swear we were high off all the sugar fumes. We laughed back down the street, around the corner.




We all saw the lack of our van at the exact same instant.

Onnie didn't believe and ran forward, thinking perhaps that we were deluding ourselves and had parked elsewhere in the lot.

“Mom, our van is gone!”

Of course it was. So were the other cars. I suddenly noticed all the towing signs posted everywhere.

Ever notice how ignorance can morph into clarity quickly when the stakes are high?

Our bewilderment turned to annoyance, anger, despair...and for sweet Ainsley, fear.

I made calls. Found out our ten minute doughnut jaunt was gonna cost us $288.

Not including the doughnuts.

I was angry and felt very incredibly pathetically stupid. Who gets towed anymore these days anyway??

Apparently all the people illegally parked in the lot in front of us, too. We watched it all as we waited to be rescued and taken to our van which was now located in the creepiest and shadiest section in all of Denver- the factory district at Brighton Blvd and I70.

The fact that all those other people were in the exact same predicament as us was little consolation.

Onnie kept mumbling to herself over and over, “We aren't homeless” every time people passed us. Maise realized shorts and a t-shirt don't cover nighttime weather in Denver in April, regardless of the daytime temps.

And Ains? She was freezing and very concerned that gang members were going to kill us. She was shaking and telling us off every three minutes.

Of course, that didn't happen. Ron came to rescue us and we got the van. I've decided having a towing company and trolling parking lots for stupid people's illegally parked cars is a very lucrative business. I'm checking into it...those people make bank.

Is there a point to this story? Sure.

I learned where NOT to park in Denver.

But.

I also learned that life happens and we make it through. Life is now and we can either show up for all of it- the good and bad and bewildering and the crushing and the exhilarating- and feel it completely, knowing we will indeed make it through...or we can opt out completely. There is no in between. The beautiful moments are only guaranteed as much as the terrible.

Sure, we could have avoided the towing last night. But we also would have missed the fun and laughter, and those amazingly good doughnuts. It was about the best doughnut I've ever had.

Here's to our $300 box of Voodoo doughnuts...but not really.

Here's to life. All of it.

Peace.




Friday, January 2, 2015

2015...The heavy.


 
Traditions.

Honestly, I'm not very good with them.  Sure, I'll get all nostalgic, but at the end of the day it just feels like a lot of pressure to me.  Example- the Christmas tree almost always goes up during Thanksgiving weekend.  This year...well, this year has been tough, brutal, awful, miserable...pick a pitiful sounding describer and you get the idea...so the tree suffered.  I'm sure the poor thing, only a year old, felt it was going to languish away the holidays in the crawlspace.

We finally hauled it out three days before Christmas.

But the New Year's blog post?  Considering I haven't publicly posted since last New Year's day, I feel I should probably adhere to this little tradition.  It is a day late...but since "late" has morphed into entirely new meaning this year, please just be thankful it isn't the New Year's post which has pictures of the 2015 Valentine's Day breakfast for my girls.  Sound good?  Let's do this...

2014 was a year which required silence.  I could not publicly post about pain or joy or really anything.  Last year was difficult in ways which have been unmatched in the history of my quiet, little life.  Our family broke apart.  We faced what half the population of the world has endured, a family separated, one whole becoming two halves.  A mom and a dad apart, with three children shuffled back and forth between. I can't and won't speak for Ron, his story is his to tell, same as mine.

For me,  I went a little crazy from the breaking apart.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I cut myself to pieces on all the sharp remains after the breaking.  Years of ugly, unresolved issues become death when released into the open without the grace of hope covering them.  I'm pretty honestly sure I was just a wee bit insane for a couple of weeks...months...there.  Maybe that's all in my head, but maybe that's the point of insanity anyway.  My girls were brave and then they shattered.

But we survived, as always.  I'm starting to think that surviving isn't exactly the best barometer of making it through tough times.  We didn't die...give us a high five.  There are many points in between happiness and death...and survival can mean so many things.  One can survive an event and yet be changed so dramatically that death might have been more gracious than attempting to move forward in the alteration.

So here's a better description- the girls and I got real with each other and had to daily offer tremendous grace and forgiveness, as we put one foot in front of the other.  My Mom has a favorite phrase she uses when the girls are fighting with each other:
       
 "Girls, now don't be ugly with each other."

I honestly never really understood that phrase until this year.  I get now that ugly can describe more than outer appearances.  It can be hate-filled attitudes and cutting words.  Confusion that spills out of our hearts and shoves from our mouths, destroying those we love.  We were ugly in 2014, for sure. Angry, confused, bitter, hopeless, hurting, and full of panic and fear for the future.  All five of us...I will not speak for Ron in anything else, but I will in that, because I know it's truth.  

I had friends come alongside me the past year that quite literally carried me through.  Some were there for a season and some remain.  Here is a public shout out to my closest friends- Melissa, Shannon, Josh, Maria and Margaret- thank you for holding, listening, helping, blessing and being my constant support.  I love you all so very much.  And for my co-workers at Challenge...all of my amazing teachers and staff, who saw my pain and encouraged me this year...Thank you.  We are a family there and I am humbled to be part of it.  

I learned a lot of lot of lessons this past year.  Here are some simple ones that are important when facing a crisis:

1. Get real.  You can't move forward if you can't figure out and say the truth out loud.  The quote at the top is the truest thing I've learned all year.  Stop lying to yourself about the actual circumstances in front of you.  I have serious trouble figuring out truth in situations, especially in the things I tell myself about others and about myself.  I was taught years ago, through heavy emotional manipulation, how to not trust my gut instincts.  I am in slow recovery from this abuse, but it's a process.
2. Acknowledge your part and forgive yourself.  This one is so hard for me...both parts...that I really shouldn't even write it, in integrity.  I tend to take all the blame or none at all. Figure out the truth and then be done with the things that are done. Let go let go let go let go.
3.  Say you are sorry.  Daily, if necessary, and especially if there are children present in this crisis with you. We all say and do things in the stress of a crisis that are hurtful.  Be humble and apologize and watch hearts start to flourish again.
4.  Find people who care about you without agenda and draw them close to you.  Do your best to be there for them as they are there for you.  I have been so blessed in this area.
5.  Flush your pride down the toilet, but keep your self-respect wrapped around you.  They are two very different things.  Respect and build a healthy relationship with yourself. This action will impact all your decisions and relationships positively.
6.  Walk forward in gratitude, every single day.  Do not drown in all the negativity of the crisis. Gratitude keeps us centered and calm.  

I've predicted for the past two years that something big was coming for our family in 2014...and I suppose I was right, in a horrid sort of way.  No speculations this year.  Just hope for healing and peace, and a finding of the joy we searched for all of 2014.  

That's a heavy New Year's post. Thanks for reading.  I wish joy for you this year as well.  Comment below, follow me on here...I promise I will be writing more this year...or shoot me an email.  I'd love to hear from you. 

Peace. 

 


 






Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014, Bring your new!


Amen.

 This past year was pretty brutal.  As I talked about  here , 2013 was all about survival.  I think my little family did a pretty good job with that.  We learned a lot and we grew.  Painfully, we expanded out of old ideas and comfortable places.  As Onnie told me quite wisely yesterday,

"I am making my New Year's resolutions based on what I learned in 2013.  It was a very tough year, but I learned a lot about myself.  It would be dumb to move forward pretending I don't know important things about myself, or to ignore them."  

Wisdom.  

I am breathing in the new this morning.  There's snow on the ground outside...unexpected after the warm temperatures of the past week.  It's gorgeous and perfect...clean and new for this first day of a fresh starting year.

I wrote on January 9th of last year that I felt 2013 was to be a year of preparation for something big, which was coming for my family in 2014.  I declared 2013 to be The Year of the Wait. I excitedly posted about preparation, naively not remembering that preparation is hard work, and often full of discomfort and stretching and pain.  Last year held us hostage to those experiences, and more than once I honestly didn't think we were going to make it.  But we did.  We came out the other side...today, the fresh start of 2014...stronger.  Closer, to God and each other.  The hardness of 2013 is softened by that truth and comfort.  Yes, it is.

I also declared the song of 2013 to be I will wait, by Mumford and Sons.

Honestly, I am still waiting.  

But I feel ready now.  Last year did prepare me for whatever good this new year is going to hold.  And I know it's going to be good...I declare it to be good.  I am ready for new adventure.  The preparation and growth of 2013 will allow for the good of 2014...I see the processes and I am thankful.  

So

Welcome 2014!

Bring your hope peace joy growth beauty

Good.


Peace, friends.