Geared to veer

If I had to write something short and poignant that effectively explained the connection between the mind, body and spirit I would give up before I began. I am still years away from understanding that let alone explaining it simply. However my life has taught me that these three are tightly woven together in each individual and it is impossible for one to fail without effecting the other two. And on the opposite I think success in one area can lead to success in the other two areas. Lets say you are really digging in spiritually, then I think the Holy Spirit may get after you about your physical health. Or if you study the intricacies of the human body, how could you not wonder about a creator? And finally many extremely intelligent atheists have found God just by voraciously digging for truth, God is at the bottom of any quest for truth if you dig long enough. These three areas cannot be ignored as you go through life and proper care of these three areas leads to successful living.

We all know that we should eat fruits and veggies, get adequate cardio and give a portion of our day to relating to God. We should, but so often we don’t, and then when we don’t do what we know that we should, we find ourselves in guilt-land. And no one enjoys a visit to guilt-land, it’s the suckiest vacation destination of the century. So for me the obvious question is how do I transition from should to do in these three areas? I already know that I will be happier, wiser and healthier if I do. Every aspect of my life will benefit from this and so will everyone around me, then why is it so freaking hard to do what we should?
As for why it’s so hard, the answer is simply that we are bent away from success and happiness by a flawed and sinful human nature. You know when you get a shopping cart at the grocery store that insists on veering left and running into every end cap display? Well that’s you. You are that cart, completely geared to veer. One alignment will not fix this issue, you need daily tune ups otherwise you will knock over displays of Corn Pops and Tuna Helper like they are target practice.
So that’s why it is hard, so now how do you do it? Well it’s a choice just like everything else, but to set yourself up for success I have found three things helpful. Knowledge, community, and prayer. If you want to be a healthier, wiser person who is closely connected to God and his truth you have to make yourself aware of how to be successful and what to avoid. This means reading, and googling and discovering some new truth. The second part is community, talk to some people who seem to be embodying authentic (key word) success in these areas and ask them what they do. It is silly to try to reinvent the wheel, God made us to help each other so swallow your pride and talk to someone who is farther along the journey than you. And thirdly is prayer, you have got to continuously talk to God and ask him to give you strength and resolve. Remember you are geared to veer so be faithful and if you fall keep getting up.
And a bonus lesson. I was once talking with a dear lady in a recovery ministry who gave me one of the best advice I have ever heard. “Don’t should on yourself.” Because you can’t gain anything from dwelling on should. You can only make new choices now.

Faithfulness hurts

I read something earlier this week on twitter that said if you consistently write, you are a writer. If you put something out there, you are an author. I immediately rejected that as ridiculous because even though I have now sold one article and write on a pretty regular basis, considering myself an author makes me feel like a little kid claiming to be an astronaut or a super hero. We think they are cute running around in their cape but we don’t take that statement very seriously. The percent of kids who grow up to be astronauts is pretty small. So is the percent of first time writers who get books published. So I feel like a kid in a cape when I tell someone I am writing a book proposal. Behind the encouragement I am sure there is a cynical thought that sounds something like, “Sure you are honey, that’s great.” Maybe there isn’t, but that’s how I feel.

I can honestly say that being faithful to Gods call to write through grief and healing is one of the hardest tasks I have set out to accomplish. It’s painful and it drags up every self-conscious skeleton in my closet all the back to grade school. It’s the best/worst thing that I have done, and God simply will not let me drop it and I am still completely unsure if it will amount to anything.

But just because writing is more public than say, becoming an RN or getting your Masters, or going for a promotion etc, doesn’t mean it’s any scarier. Feeling that the place God is calling you to is so far away it may as well be the moon is a pretty common feeling. Maybe you’re quiet and being called to lead. Maybe you’re shy and being called to mentor. This list is as long as there are people on this earth. God always call us out to something that feels uncomfortable to us so although I am the only person I know who is working on a non-fiction book proposal, I am by no means the only one who feels called to more than they are capable of.

And just by writing this, I feel so much better.

Life… with sprinkles

Have you ever felt like the farther you go on the journey of your life, the more you have to learn? This feeling is very real to me right now. I have had a very tough year, and that’s putting it mildly. I have dealt with some heart breaking and extremely difficult circumstances and I’ve continued to solider through them. For me, this is a point of pride, because I feel as though it speaks to my strength and my resolve, and in a way it does. However lately I have come to realize that with all this fighting and forward motion I have picked up some unhealthy thought patterns and coping mechanisms. 

I have come to realize that I do life in battle mode with armor on all the time. I believe that I have to fight for every good thing, for every moment of peace and happiness. Like a cunning secret agent I trust no one and nothing. Each moment that ticks by on the clock is one that could bring me another blow and I need to be prepared. Now, I am sure you are already aware that this is flawed thinking. If I keep this up it will rob my life of the fullness God wants for me. You see every solider has to come home from the front to rest and the secret agents in the movies take a beachy holiday in between assignments. So I guess I need to learn to trust that I will be safe if I take the armor off for a while.

I became even more painfully aware of my problem this afternoon. I had to go in for some medical testing which required sedation. I was totally out of it and I hardly remember anything about today before 1:30 pm. At one point I woke up to the sound of my son crying, I was asleep in bed recovering as the drugs wore off and after what seemed like 30 minutes of crying I jumped out of bed to investigate. My husband had him in his car seat and he was rocking the seat with his foot. I grabbed my son and marched away with him confident that only I could discover and rectify the source of his tears. Now I hardly remember any of this but from what they tell me I yelled for more than five minutes about how no one could take care of things but me and I would never be able to rest because of it. Eventually they had to talk me down and coax me into handing the baby over and going back to bed for a few hours. So today I learned that drugged up me is even more wary and guarded than regular me. I had apologies to make when I finally came to my senses again. So I struggle with a big lack of trust and this is not the diagnostic end I was expecting from the medical testing I went in for.

I have also become aware of this distrusting nature in every day life. I regularly check to see if my children are breathing while they sleep because I live in fear that they will be taken from me. When my husband and I talk about our future I hear a small cynical voice inside me that whispers, “You’re never going to be THAT happy.” When I think about letting God lead my future, my thoughts go something like this: “Of course we want to do that in God’s timing and in his will, but he’s not going to give me what will truly make me happy, so I better start doing some research to make it happen.” I say that I trust God, but it’s really just lip service. In my heart I believe that if I want it to be good, I have to do it myself.

I know that my cynical, calloused and mistrusting self can’t stick around. I don’t want her to. I need to go on a journey of unlearning these life-sucking beliefs I have picked up. I know the the truth I need to integrate, but moving it from my head to my heart seems like a painfully long journey indeed. I don’t have the road map all lined out and I can’t google how to get there. I just have the knowledge that I need to move in that direction.

So I have this little story that helps me with hope, that reminds me of a better way. Any time we can, my family and I go get frozen yogurt, we love the fro-yo. It’s fairly healthy, amazingly delicious and the control freak that I am loves that I can do it myself. I was helping my two year old daughter get her fro-yo out of the machine and then I took it away to pay for it and add to it her absolute favorite thing, Sprinkles. She loves sprinkles more than anything else on the planet, so much so that we centered her birthday party around them. Well when I took her bowl away she fought me and burst into tears and had a meltdown on the floor. Her two year old brain doesn’t trust that I am going to go and pay for the fro-yo and bring it back, because I know that it will be so much better if it has sprinkles and isn’t stolen. Eventually she calmed down when I brought her back her paid-for vanilla fro-yo, covered in sprinkles.

As I watched her eat it one of Jesus teachings came to me, and it’s found in Luke 11

11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

So if I promise my daughter fro-yo, am I going to show it to her and then not let her eat any? Of course not, I’m going to give her the fro-yo with a mountain of sprinkles on top, because I love her THAT much. I love her to the moon and back, and even on the days when she pushes all my buttons and the ones that screw up the dishwasher as well, I still can’t wait for her to get up the next morning so we can do it all over again. I am flawed, hopelessly flawed and I still yearn to see my little girl enjoy all this life has to offer. But I struggle to believe that God wants the same for me and that is an ouch realization for me. Writing all this doesn’t fix my issue, it’s just a diagnosis. I have to pray that God will help me on the road to recovery. He will, I know, but I have to take off the armor and be vulnerable.

Gets em every time

Gets em every time


A short post about squirrels

In my family we have a pretty funny anecdote about squirrels crossing the road. It basically goes like this: “Indecision, it gets em every time.” My Aunt Betsy brought it back to the front of my mind last week. If you have ever seen a squirrel crossing the road you know that they are skittish, they approach the road and take a few steps back, you never really know if they’re going for it or if they’re going to chicken out. As the oncoming driver you want to cut them a break but you don’t know what they’re up to, are they going for it or aren’t they? Hence the phrase: “Indecision, gets em every time.”

I have really taken some personal wisdom from this idea lately. I think so many of us, myself included, squirrel around the side of the road, indecisive as to where we are going. We can’t commit to the path that we know in our hearts we want to take and the enemy does a great job at keeping us distracted by what is going on around us. And if we are distracted running circles we aren’t paying attention to the oncoming traffic and bam! life hits us like the bald tires of a Chevy Cavalier.

So I suppose what I take from this lesson is this. If there is a road that you need to cross, decide to cross it, educate yourself about the best way to the other side and then set your eyes on the opposite curb like your life depends on it. Life gives us a lot of roads to cross. There may be a relationship that needs fixing, a discipline you need to pick up, or heck I think each day is a road that needs crossing.

So it’s a Monday morning, start the day and week off right by figuring out what the other side of your road is, figuring out how to reach the other curb and then run your little squirrely paws like there is no tomorrow. Because you don’t want to be the squirrel for whom there isn’t a tomorrow, metaphorically speaking that is.

Oh yeah, God.

I can’t remember the last time I had what I would call a normal week. I am beginning to think that normals weeks are the new unicorn. They don’t exist but you still sort of hope for one. The last not normal week I had in Oklahoma was spent getting ready for our two week trip up North for the wedding. I was busy. The kind of busy where you just have to start cutting things off your list and “Want to dos” become expendable.

I was quite seriously thinking of scheduling a nervous breakdown sometime in August because breaking down any time before then was simply not an option. Too many people depended on me and there was clearly no way that the world would continue functioning should I cease to be ridiculously productive and efficient. My tasks were piling up and my life felt like a never ending mountain that I could not climb.

Then I had an amazingly profound and simple thought.

“Oh yeah, God.”

I have stressed through an entire week in desperation over my life and not once did I involve God in my stress. Not even once did I go to him in prayer or ask him to re-shift my perspective. I acted like the details of my life were paramount and capable of knocking the world out of orbit, I pretended the only one who would make everything alright was me. I didn’t trust God with my stuff and not until I had reached red-light nuclear levels of stress did I resort to asking for his strength and guidance. And if I am perfectly honest this is a trend for me. If life is great, then I feel like I have it all in control and I simply thank God for my daily bread, or daily sandwich. When life is stressful I struggle to juggle every ball perfectly on my own and not until I have exhausted every mental and emotional resource do I call in the big guns, God, to step in and help me out.

God shouldn’t be the secret weapon I keep in a silver, foam padded case and take out at the last resort moment. He should be the guidebook by which I live. And the worst part is that I know better, but I keep going back to it again and again. I loathe asking for help in almost every situation. For example I want to get all the groceries and both kids into the house in one load, every time. Think about that. Two kids 2 and under, a weeks worth of food for a family of 4 and 2 gallons of milk, in one trip. Stupid. If you ever catch me with casts on each wrist you will have no reason to question why. I was too stubborn to ask for help.

Stubbornness. It gets me every. time.

So when you recognize an unhealthy habit what should you do about it? I think step one is to identify it and then I would also go about treating it like a stalker. Expect it to creep into your life often when you least expect it. Just when you thought you had all the right restraining orders in place there it is, peeking out from your pantry or back seat. Be aware of the unhealthy patterns you gravitate for. Put their picture up (so to speak) so that when you see them you can deal with for what they are. Deadly really.

So you identify them and then you start the long process of researching and learning how to replace unhealthy patterns with healthy patterns. Confess your crap to someone, always confess to someone who can help you walk a new path. Get accountability and wisdom and knowledge and just keep replacing the bad with good. One of my favorite metaphors for this is to re-wallpaper the lies with truth. For example me? I don’t trust people, and I don’t trust God very well at times. I want to take care of everything in my life on my own and at an unattainable level. I need to learn to trust God, to daily admit that I can’t be the wife Kel needs or the Mom Caedmon or Noelle needs without his love flowing through me and his wisdom replacing the faulty human logic I am so fond of ingesting.

I can’t do it alone, I can’t do it perfect and neither can you. You have to daily realize that you need help only God can provide. Broken wrists are just stupid, either take 3 trips or ask for help. And your unhealthy pattern may be totally different than mine but I hope that it is still being identified in your mind. Mental and physical health are really optimal life choices, but they don’t come easy. We can do it, you and me and we should. God has given us these beautiful hours to spend, lets spend them in healthy places.

Seasons

Yesterday was my little brother Brian’s wedding and I was honored to stand in the wedding party as he and his sweet, beautiful new wife Lisa committed their lives to God and each other. It was an all day affair from getting my makeup done at 7:45 to the reception which went late into the night. The brides family throws one heck of a party and you could tell from the moment you walked in how much thought and love was put in to celebrating Brian and Lisa. When dinner ended, they brought out a color coordinated candy bar and as the beat went on, they kept the guests going with a pizza buffet. There was indulgence around every corner, and I as I sit here the morning after my nearly 30 year old body is reminding me of just how much I indulged. I don’t think I left a mint chocolate truffle or a piece of red velvet cake uneaten in that ballroom. It was a beautiful celebration of life and love that I will never forget.

I am so often reminded of the cyclical nature of life. The seasons constantly change, the holidays circle around in their set pattern and around every corner it seems that something ends and something new begins. In the last year our family has experienced 2 funerals, 1 birth, and a wedding. I wonder if there is a still an emotion in existence that we haven’t felt deeply this year. We have cried together during tragedy and loss, but we have also shared the joy of new life and new beginnings. Through all of those moments together runs a strong reminder of the faithfulness of the God we serve side by side.

The thing about life’s cycles is that you never enter the next cycle of your life unchanged by the cycle you were just in. Each season of our lives recolors the way we see the world and it is beautiful and natural to change and grow as you experience life. Both the painful seasons and the times of joy and celebration. I think it is essential to remember that you have to be intentional about drinking deeply the season you are in. If you are going through a dark valley, you have to be there for a while to emerge healed and changed from that experience. In the same way when you are in a time of celebration you have to be intentional about entering in to that season as well. Even if your painful times and joyful times seem to be shockingly close together, celebrate as best you can. Don’t let the pain steal your joy and don’t be so afraid of the pain that you pretend it isn’t there. Be where you are in this life as much as you possibly can. It’s the only time you really have on your hands.

Don’t misunderstand me, there were moments yesterday that were very difficult to swallow. There was a candle in the back of the church at the ceremony that represented our parents, neither of whom were there to light the unity candle for our family. There were moments where I felt their absence like a huge gaping hole in my chest. However the God we serve, the God they are now with, commands us to live in the cycles of life. Mourn and party, work and rest. My family and I deeply missed my parents yesterday, but there is still so much to celebrate. We have a new sister, and her family has a new brother and son. God is going work beautifully through this new union, and we are going to bear witness to, and support these two.

And so recently, we have gathered at the church to mourn, but yesterday we gathered together to overflow with thankfulness and joy. We have stood together in the tattered moments of grief but yesterday was a day of dancing shoes and wine and remembering that life is made up of all these moments in their seemingly strange patterns. We have been given beautiful and painful life, how you choose to live it is on you.

Running On

Note: I always write in the morning but God wanted me to write at 11:00. And last night my two kiddos had me up all night, so, excuse typos and runaway trains of thought until I have a chance to edit more thoroughly.

As much as we all complain about being too busy, all too often if we are honest we’re glad we keep our lives moving at a brisk 300 mph pace. Lately I have become aware that I have been living at a unsustainable, breakneck pace, I realized this because I actually sat down to watch TV one evening, I sat down to watch Glee and ALL I did was watch Glee on the couch. I didn’t make anything, organize a pile of papers or try to catch up on email. I just watched a tv show. Would you believe that was the first time I had done that in months?

I have been running, and running and then for a change of pace, I ran. Have you ever heard the phrase: “Wherever you go, there you are?” It basically means that you can pack up and move, get a new haircut, a new relationship, a new job, a new car, a new whatever, but it will still be the same you in all those new things. You don’t change unless you open up and work toward change. God can move so much more effectively in our lives if we slow down and let him show us what is broken. So often we know what’s wrong but we thing if we run maybe we can avoid it for a while longer. If we slow down, we are still the same person we were when we were running. The broken bits never left just because we dyed them blond or outright ignored them.

I realized just how hard I had been running tonight when I went to make a prayer list in the notes app on my iPhone. I scrolled down and realized that I already had an old one I could just update. So I pulled it up and realized that two of my top prayer priorities from last July both died from exactly the thing I had been praying against. Ow, I mean really very Ow. I didn’t want to deal with that, I just wanted to jot down some names, say a few prayers and move on to the next thing. I didn’t want to think about how badly those dashed hopes hurt me on a daily basis.

So I guess I am entering phase one of project “slow down” I am acknowledging that there is something I’ve been avoiding that needs my attention, and that is about all I know right now. Even animals stop to lick their wounds, what are we so afraid will happen if we slow down and take time to heal what is broken? When it comes to this topic I have so many more questions than answers. But I do know this much, we all, everyone, have a broken bit that could use some cleaning healing wound licking time. (How great is this word picture?!) God wants to talk about it with you, and there is a good chance that some of your friends are game to talk about it as well.

So maybe we can all stop running together, take a look around and see just where we really are, and acknowledge that God has been there holding out hands full of healing from the very beginning. We were just avoiding him like cooties on a playground because it’s not cool to slow down and deal with your junk. The it thing to do is to keep running from it, even and sometimes especially in church land. Forget looking cool, and always appearing all together. Real life is born in the moments when you admit you don’t have it all together and let God move in and show you how beautiful a life of reliance upon him can be.

Gotta have faith

My friend Dawn posted this quote on twitter earlier this week from Lecrae: “lack of prayer says you bought into the lie that life is manageable and you’ve got everything under control.” This has been stuck in my head all week because it absolutely sums up the way I have been handing life lately. Earlier in my life I didn’t pray because it was easier to blame my problems on other people or God. Now instead of blaming I put it all on my plate and insist on handling it myself. Can you help me? No, thanks I got it. I could be laying on the floor bleeding from every limb and if you texted me and asked me if I was okay, I’d nose text you that I was fine, you know before I passed out from blood loss.I am not really ready to write about all the deep muddy details of my faith issues. So instead I am taking it in a different direction.

Life has been rough lately, I am not a whiner, but I have been through a bunch lately. I have been either sick or pregnant or both for over a year. I have gone through deep and personal loss. And it all seems to keep building, problem upon problem, doctor visit after doctor visit. And today I reached a threshold of sorts. I got put on a new prescription today which laid me out with dizziness and tingling and I have no fewer than 67 things on my to-do list to prepare for our impending 2 week trip up North for my brother’s wedding. I managed to muscle through it somehow and kept trying to pack, clean, and play with my kids. After lunch I sat down to pay bills and do a trip budget so we would stay on track while traveling. As I reached for an envelope I knocked my water glass all over all my bills and checks, smearing ink and dousing my pants with icy water. I lost it, dropped some choice words, and ran into the bedroom to change clothes and rant. In the midst of screaming and finding a new pair of pants that lecrae quote popped into my head, which caused me to just scream, “ARGHHH I gotta have faith! And so help me Kel if you play that annoying 80s song I will straight UP murder you.”

I took three deep breaths and walked into the kitchen for a bottled water, vowing to drink out of only things with lids for the rest of the day.

And then this happened.

Let that sink in. Aren’t my boys crazy awesome?And I was thankful to be reminded of so many things, the most obvious of which is how much I love my husband, and how thankful I am that even though I am falling apart at the seams and he has every right to be irritated by it, he knows me and tries to make me laugh. I like to believe that in the worst moments of our lives God uses the people around us to speak his truth. What is he trying to say to me today? I’m not completely sure but I think it looks something like “Hey I love you, and trust me, in the midst of soggy pants and taking every antibiotic known to man, life is still so beautiful. Life is belly laughing at a chubby baby dancing to cheesy songs beautiful.”

And maybe “Hold on, you’re halfway there, Hold on, you’re living on a prayer.”

Yes, yes I did ^