Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tricks n Treats

Anyone who has navigated the waters of divorce and single parenthood knows... or anyone who has dealth with grief of any kind knows...

There are definitely some tricks to the trade of handling life after major loss. I'm picking up on a few of them.

Trick #1: Get over yourself and ask for help.

Today, I swallowed my pride, called a friend and squeaked out "I could really use a break." I ignored everything in me that screamed if I were a better mother I wouldn't feel this way, or I shouldn't be interrupting someone else's day, or what if my friends get tired of helping me. I also ignored the voice of failure that reminded me I'm not good enough and that asking for help means I'm weak. My friend took my kids for a couple of hours and I got the break I needed.

Trick #2: Get over your fear and let other people in.

Today was Sunday. Always a day of intensity and emotion for me. But today was a hard day. I have a whole family of people around me who care about me a lot. Still I can fool most of 'em if I want to. I have a brave face when I need to use it. But there are a few who know that my brave face is BS and they see right through it. Today I let the tears fall in front of one of them. When she asked how I was, I knew lying was futile and so I didn't even try. I let her in and I let her see the yuck inside my heart. I told her how sad I was and I told her why. I needed her and it scares me to need anyone but God. But I let myself need her anyway.

Trick #3: Get out your pen and take notes.

Sometimes things are flying at me so fast. Really important things I want to remember. My journal is filling up faster these days. I don't want to forget the profound things God is teaching me. I don't want to forget the dark places and how He is with me here. I also don't want to forget to pay the electricity bill. For a thousand things, I need a list. It helps me to write. From a practical to do list to a scrawled out emotion, to a dreamy wish list, my pen and my keyboard bring release.

As is His way with His favorite girl, God lavishes me with treats. Friday, I got to have the most fun conversation with my daughter. Yesterday, He treated me to a deliciously rainy day, which I quietly spent in the house with my kids. Today, He treated me to a visit with an old friend who was passing through town, a walk in the rain with my babies, a cup of cafe au lait, and two and a half hours spent alone, mostly in a bookstore. I am learning to savor even the littlest treat, to open every moment as the gift it is.

I suppose, in a way, that's another trick. The trick of treats. Recognizing, appreciating, and enjoying even the tiniest of treats. And... now I must practice what I preach. There is a new book and a warm bed waiting for me. The house is quiet. Rain is falling outside. I'd say my treat basket is full.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lullaby for a Single Mom

Utterly exhausted, eyes drooping, she finally did it. She opened her hands and let it all go. She left laundry on the couch, and toys on the floor. She bathed her kids and put them to bed. Early.

She walked through the quiet house, turning off every light. And as she went, she let Him go with her. She let Him take the thoughts, the fears, and the frustrations off her shoulders. He held her very tender, very tired heart in His hands and sang a silent song over her...

And she slept.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I wore a dress today. A cute little cotton number with tiny pink flowers all over it. Not normally my speed, I admit. But even if I AM on the verge of world domination, I'm still all woman. :) So a dress, I wore. And I liked it.

I laughed today. Mostly at my crazy self and my crazy friends. I laughed at home when my son said "Yes Lordy!" I laughed at work when my friend put on "I Feel Good" during the afternoon slump, and when an impromptu dance was done to "Shout." I laughed at church during LIVEChat. I always laugh during LIVEChat. And I liked it.

I stood alone with God today. Sure there were other people in the room. A whole choir in fact. But He and I were really alone, and I blessed His name, I sang Him a song. I let Him give me life. And I liked it.

I drank today. It was one of those HUGE sweet teas from McDonalds. Drank the whole thing down, with plenty of ice. And I liked it.

I wondered today. I wondered how long until I feel normal again. I wondered why my new mascara clumped like that and if the clump WAS the extreme lash. I wondered if I was going to pass out. I wondered if I should take some kind of medicine for that passing out feeling. I wondered if I let my toenail polish dry long enough last night, and if this no-chip nail color really wouldn't chip. I wondered why some people are ok with mediocrity and what would happen to me if I was.

I hoped today. I hoped the piece of chocolate cake I ate at dinner wouldn't make me fat. I hoped my kids come out ok and hoped they know I love them. I hoped God still gives me a career in ministry. I hoped I someday love again, and I hoped I take everything I'm learning now and love better because of it. I hoped I could get through the day. I hoped I will sleep well tonight. I hoped to see a friend I hadn't seen in a week, for no reason other than her presence is comforting. I hoped for a vacation. Alone. At the beach. I hoped. And I liked it.

I loved today. I loved my little boy when he was afraid. I wrapped my arms around him and loved him as best I could and cried because it wasn't enough. I loved my girl when she climbed into my lap and when she just WAS her sweet self. I felt deep, painful, heart's about to burst kind of love for those kids. And I liked it.

I thought today. I thought about my life and about my loss. I thought about my dreams and about what would happen if I said what I REALLY wanted to say to a grouchy caller at work. I thought about my kids and my mom. I thought about my future and my past. I told some people what I thought, and kept some of my thought to myself. And I liked it.

Just a regular day, being regular old silly, happy, sad, broken, strong, healing, hoping, loving, grouchy, crazy, sorry, bossy, loud, quiet, lonely, friendly, tired, passionate, me. AND I LIKED IT!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I had a realization. An epiphany. A blinding flash of mental and emotional light.

Here it is:


I suppose over the last few months, I've put my dreams away. I just assumed they would no longer be viable or compatible with my new life. I mean, BC (Before Crisis) I WAS living my dream. I WAS doing what I thought God had called me to do and what I've dreamed of since I was a kid. Then everything changed.

But the other night, it hit me. Right outta the blue! I was sitting in choir practice and I can't explain it, there was just a sudden awakening in my heart. A passion and a burning I hadn't felt in a long time. And I knew. My dream, my heart isn't going to die from this.

Sure, there may be changes in timing and situation, and even possible expansion of the dream, but IT DOESN'T HAVE TO DIE. As a matter of fact, inside my heart, it's alive and well. And it's ok for me to work towards it, live in it, play with it, and enjoy the dream God has given me.

I will give you a VERY RARE glimpse into my handwritten journal, because the words that flowed out there express this best.

"It's like I've been standing out in a horrible storm. Everything around me is devastated, even I am in shreds. But I open my clenched hand and find the delicate blossom of my dream and my calling still intact and beautiful as ever."

Today I will speak to a group of ladies. The event theme is "Blooming." And, just in time... so am I.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Peaceful, Easy Feelin'

There is nothing like the peaceful, easy camaraderie between members of God's family. I spent three evenings this week in the company of one old and four new friends. My friend, Kris and I figured out it had been 11 years since we'd seen each other. Now Kris has a family. The star of which is his amazing Mary. I had met her on the blogs, hers and mine, but never before in person.

I just can't explain how amazing it is to sit with someone you haven't seen in over a decade and someone you haven't seen before, ever, and feel completely at home and at peace. Of course I can't explain it. That's because it's a GOD THING. His family works this way when we let it. These past three days, we let it. And I'm so much better for it.

(Hear my contented sigh)

Life's good. God's good. Everything's gonna be alright.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Joys

I had a light bulb moment. This one is thanks to my surprise visitors, Deanna and Jill. It's a little overdue in being posted, since the light bulb actually came on sometime Sunday night. But then the idea was immediately put to severe testing and I'm glad to say it has resurfaced intact.

Here's the AHA:

I was really bad off before my surprise visit. Down in the dumps. Then, with the shock of the surprise and seein' my girls again, well, I guess I just forgot for a while that I was Sad with a capital S. Once the visit was over, the light bulb came on. DUH!! I'm not dead! I'm suffering, yes, but I CAN still have fun. I can still laugh. I CAN EVEN STILL ENJOY LIFE.

I guess I had only thought there was ONE way of life I could enjoy. But that's not true. And I suppose the loss of that way of life, or the pain of the loss anyway, is in such stark contrast to the smallest happiness that it sort of magnifies that happiness. What I mean is, that some things aren't as easily taken for granted these days. Small moments of pleasure being one of those things.

So what does a girl do with such a light bulb moment? She gets out her journal. The light is on anyway, right? So she opens the journal and plays with the idea of enjoying the tiniest bit of happiness and getting every last drop of joy out of it. She makes a list of things she hasn't done but thinks might be fun. She makes a list of things she has done and wants to do again. She makes a list of things that bring her so much joy that they deserve a deliberate place in her everyday life.

Then she proceeds to write on. She writes her dreams, her hopes, and just plain ol' stuff she thinks. And she really enjoys that.

Then she proceeds to have a terrible week including several meltdown moments.

The light bulb came on just in time, as meltdown moments were balanced with a purposeful lingering over even the slightest thing that might bring joy.

So just in case you didn't know (Hey, don't be insulted, it was a surprise to me!) It's ok to take a break from grief for a while to let yourself really enjoy living. It might even be time to explore some new joys.

Speaking of... a thunderstorm is coming in. A rainy night is mine to savor. Gotta go!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Couldn't Resist

Found this picture of me and my sister...

Now ya'll know where the strange affinity for Alabama comes from. Same thing that makes me look so darn comfortable on an ATV, and gave me the stomach for eating venison and the knack for makin' sweet tea. Happiness!!

Lump in My Throat

I've been sitting here staring at the screen. I can't quite find words for what's inside me today. I try to make it a goal to write every day. If a writer doesn't write something every day, I'm not sure how anything would ever get written. So I'm sitting here trying to muster up some words.

I accomplished a lot today. Got some stuff done. That was nice.

I got the kids to school on time,even managed to start a load of laundry before we left and get my trash out, had a productive day at work, got my kids, got to the dancewear store to buy Mackenzie new tap shoes (her old ones were starting to get so small I couldn't bear to let her do another class in them), got her to dance class on time, paid some bills, picked Mackenzie up (new tap shoes were awesome), fixed supper and fed everyone, supervised homework for both kids, bathed both kids, read two stories, folded a load of laundry, swept the kitchen, went through a big pile of papers, and got both kids in bed.

I did good, yes?

Yes. But there's still a strange lump in my throat. It's wierd.

I was walking through Winn Dixie the other day, griping because the store is totally rearranged. I realized how ridiculous it was to complain about something so trivial. Then it dawned on me that change is uncomfortable. Even for me, Miss Bring-it-On-and-I'll-kick-it's-behind. And I gotta tell ya, that if a few flip flopped grocery store aisles throw me for a loop, imagine what it's like having life as I know it put in a proverbial blender and pureed.

The change that's bugging me most today is relational. I know how to do intense, enmeshed, all-up-in-my-space relationships. And I know how to do hammock-on-the-beach-just-me-and-God, everyone-else-stay-far-away aloneness. (Though I must admit I haven't had enough of that type of aloneness to become an authority on it.) But where I am now is just plain wierd. I can't be totally alone, though I'd love to step off the world and disappear. And I can't be too incredibly intimately close with anyone either. Anyone grownup at least. And it's wierd.

On the positive side, I have time to get to know myself, to try and do some things I've never had the chance to try and do. I can become a better me. A me that maybe someday someone will love. (I know lots of people love me. I don't mean that kind of love. I mean LUUUUV. You know.)

On the not so positive side, well... really the only bad part is that the change in my personal life is so profound that it hurts. I guess I feel like I've been dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no map. Kinda lost. Kinda freaked out. I mean, I'm good at emergencies. But now that the emergency is wearing off, the realization of my location is overwhelming.

What to do? I suppose I must take a deep breath, gather my wits, and enjoy the scenery. I'm in no rush to get back to civilization anyway. I guess what'll it hurt if I wander around for a while?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

God-held Wonder

"When each earthly brace falls under,
And life seems a restless sea,
Are you then a God-held wonder,
Satisfied and calm and free?"

Read that today in Streams in the Desert. I love the ring of the words "God-held wonder."

My pastor said this morning that he would never get over what Jesus has done for him. I wholeheartedly agree. It is indeed a wonder to be held by God, no matter what is happening in life. Satisfaction, peace, and freedom are mine always, but to have them when the bottom falls out... now that's when God shows off what He can do in the lives of His children.

How excellent that no matter how I feel, no matter how bad it looks... at the core of me I am satisfied and calm and free. It's who I am because of Him. Some days I look at my reality and know that there is no way I should be functioning. And yet I am. No way I should walk on and yet I do. I should be flat on my back and yet I stand. Through every lonely, painful moment I am held by God. Indeed, it is a wonder.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Only in New Orleans

Today we had a blast showing our city to Jill and Deanna. Of course, my proudest moment was stopping at a stoplight where a homeless man stood with a cardboard sign. It read:

"Hungry Hungry Hobos"

Only in New Orleans, baby!! I love this town!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Good Times

I have laughed more in the last 24 hours than I have in a long time.

I had forgotten what good laughter is. Deanna and Jill (my surprise visitors) are reminding me how fun life can be. I had forgotten how much I missed these two girls, and how much hilarious history we have. We almost don't have to say anything and we'll just be cracking up. And we don't have to make anything up. Seems like the wierd, crazy, and random just show up wherever we are. We just take full advantage of it all and laugh our heads off. It doesn't take much. All we need is a banana shake, some praying lettuce, and a good accordion and we can get a party started, right girls?

It's interesting, our relationship started with me as minister. I was their Bible study leader, trying my best to minister to them. Good times. Now, they are definitely ministering to me. More good times.

And for now, I'm gonna let 'em roll!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why I'm His Favorite

It's been a rough week. I'm talking deep in despair, borderline ready to give up rough. Along with the difficult behavior that 5 year old boys exhibit when adjusting back home from a week's visit with their non-custodial parent, (hmmm... that makes me the custodial parent. Makes sense. The messes are left with me.) plus plenty of drama at work, plus sick kids, plus saying goodbye to my sister, there has been a level of loneliness that is nearly driving me out of my mind.

I've had a husband since I was 18. I know nothing of adult life apart from marriage. At least I didn't until now. And so far it's not that fun. There is a lonely echo in my soul in the place that used to be filled with soothing touches at the end of the day, conversations, a helping hand, a teammate, a person to rely on, a relationship with intimate depth. Now no one holds me at night, or ever.

I'm sad. So sad.

Yesterday, I had nearly reached rope's end, and a friend showed up at work and left me a box with a weeks worth of dinners prepared for me to freeze and use as needed. She didn't know what she did for me. Actually, she didn't know what God did for me through her.

I needed that, and as I carried my box of treasures to the walk-in fridge at work, I told my wondering coworkers, "It's because I'm God's favorite!"

I went on, somehow made it through church and stumbled my way home. Got the kids in bed and fell in bed myself. After a fitful nights sleep, today finally dawned. Sunny everywhere except inside me. We ran late and I had to check the kids in at school. Then Levi had an episode at school and had to be brought to my office. He wasn't in a good mood. I got the kids home and got them fed, then we went over to church where I somehow got through rehearsal. I dragged myself and my kids back home thinking I just can't make it, I can't deal with this. I had felt so alone all day I thought I was going to go nuts.

I didn't even get back into my house before a little car came driving down the road. Inside that little car happened to be two of the dearest sweetest people, who drove all the way from Florida to surprise me for the weekend. They might as well have been Ed McMahon telling me I'd won the million. I still can't believe they are here.

Of course, we soon piled in the car for a trip to Cafe Du Monde, and on the way there Mackenzie piped up from the back seat. "Mom, I think you were right when you said we are God's favorite."

See, I've told her that before. I've told her several times when unexplained wads of cash have been pressed into my hands. I've told her when somebody showed up and mowed our yard. I've told her when God gave me an awesome job.

At every turn, His grace is enough. Sometimes more than enough.

Sometimes, our God has a way of taking a woman who feels rejected and deflected, frumpy and grumpy, and making her feel like the most beautiful treasure. Oh, I know all of you out there have just as much of God's amazing love as I. But for now, I'm dancing in His arms, looking in His eyes, and I just know...

I'm His favorite.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

While I Dream

Today was one of those days. You don't even wanna know. But, as of now, my kids are in bed peacefully resting, my workin girl clothes have been exchanged for a comfy old pair of sweats and a t-shirt, our tummies are full and I'm sitting in my rocking chair for a few minutes of peace before I climb into my bed and end this day.

Nothing really profound today. Just happy to still be alive, and glad to have gotten through another day. Can't think about tomorrow. I'm just gonna crawl under my covers and savor the loveliness of letting it all go while I dream.

Psalm 3:5 "I lie down and sleep. I wake again because the Lord sustains me."