My story, Part 1- Laura’s accident

A lot of my story centers around train tracks, I’m still not able to hear train whistles in the distance without reflecting on what I am about to tell you, but first a bit of background:

I was born in West Michigan, the oldest of three children with a huge and tightly knit extended family and more than 25 first cousins.  My Dad was a small business owner and in my early childhood my Mom was at home with us.  If you asked me a few years ago I would have told you that I had a rough childhood, but in the past few years I’ve listened to enough stories about foster kids, orphans and children of abuse that I know I was mostly pretty blessed.  So, I will now say that I had a non-ideal childhood.

My Dad worked a lot, and my mom started a life long battle with depression and mental illness before I was born.  I was a high-energy kid and as she grew more depressed, my boundless energy and negative behavior became more of an issue for her.  As a solution, she started medicating me when I was three and she relied heavily on meds and therapists to “fix me” with everything from anti-depressants to ADHD medication.  I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties resenting her for this, but eventually I had to come to a point of forgiveness and peace with her actions.  That’s where I am now for the most part, although now that I have a high energy child of my own I am constantly gaining fresh perspective on my Mother, over and over again.

It was a cold Saturday in March almost a year after I graduated high-school where my story picks up.  I was 19 and working at Build-a-Bear workshop in our local mall in Grandville, MI.  It was princess day and was wearing a purple tiara and had dusted glitter all over my face.  The store had opened recently and was still a novelty, so every weekend we were totally slammed with lines of parents and children ready to build and dress-up teddy bears and puppy dogs.  At some point mid-shift my Manager pulled me off the stuffing machine to take a phone call from my Dad.  I come from a family with a serious Dutch work-ethi so I immediately knew something was up.  He would never dream of calling me at work just to chat.

With a sinking stomach I walked into my bosses office and picked up the phone.  In slow and serious words he delivered news that would forever alter the state of our family.  He told me that my sister, Laura, had been in an accident and it was serious.  She had been driving home from the grocery store in her battered, coppered colored ’87 Chevy Nova and had attempted to cross the train tracks in spite of the warning lights and bells.  There was no crossing gate at that intersection and the train hit on the passenger side.  As we spoke she was in a helicopter on her way to the hospital.  I remember hime saying that they didn’t know much, but that she was alive.  The whole phone call seemed like a far off nightmare, because people didn’t live through getting hit by trains, did they?

The next moment I found myself on the floor in a heap, my knees gave way without my permission and I laid there sobbing on the stuffing covered floor.  My manager grabbed the dangling phone receive and my Dad’s one request of her was that I didn’t drive myself to the hospital.  So I grabbed my peacoat and hustled out the doors, through the mall and my Manager Michelle drove me the 25 endless minutes to the hospital downtown.  I was in shock, in terror and all I remember is saying over and over again “People don’t survive getting hit by trains, they just don’t, do they?”  I am sure this was not what she signed on for when she came to work that Saturday, we weren’t exactly close.

She dropped me off at the emergency room and I scanned the waiting area for my family and didn’t stop on a face that I recognized.   So I made my way to the front desk lady and unleashed every intense emotion I contained on her.  I screamed at her, demanding to see my sister and my family, that she was the one who was hit by a train, how dare she ask her her name, did she have any other train accident victims back there?  If the circumstances weren’t so extreme I’d feel guilty, in hindsight I’m sure that lady has probably seen it all and then some.

Eventually an trauma attendant came out and led me back to a private waiting room where my family was hunkered down, waiting for news.  Together we hugged, cried, and waited.  After what seemed like hours a nurse came in with a short update and a bag of my sister’s bloody clothes, in tatters from being cut off her body at the scene.  I could tell from the bag that it was the Abercrombie outfit she had saved up for.  The one I had always been jealous of it, I’d always been jealous of her in general really.  She was blonde, skinny and popular I was chubby, nerdy and awkward.  But all the clothes and hair didn’t matter, because on that day in March it was all a bloody mess.

One by one my parents were able to go back into the trauma room to see her, when I asked to go back the nurse told me I looked pale, like a fainter.  She told me that she didn’t need another one of us passed out back there so I would have to wait until they got her cleaned up some more.  So I sat there, one member of a bruised and incomplete family, waiting for our world to re-stabalize as they tried to get my sisters body and bones to do the same.

The rest of the day was a gray fog, I remember machines, doctors, confusion and shock.  Eventually my parents headed home exhausted, since my sister had several big surgeries planned for the next day and they thought it best they get some rest, if it would come to them.  So it was me that stayed with her that first night in the hospital, after a short run to the market to get some granola bars and tampons.  The nurse who stayed with us that first night let me wash the blood out of what was left of her white blonde hair as she tried freed chards of glass from her face.  My hands were so thrilled to have something to do about all the intense emotion my body was trying to contain.  Eventually the 11:00 news came on the hospital room TV and there was blurb about her accident.  The witness reports seemed sensationalized and ignorant, several suggested a suicide attempt, which served as additional pain in top of an already devastating day.

The following days and weeks came with both answers and confusion.  We knew for sure that the accident had left her with missing teeth, a broken arm, mandible, several cracked ribs and brain damage of unknown severity.  As much as medical science has advanced, the brain still remains quite mysterious, it’s a sacred center of memories, emotions and wiring and to damage it is to affect the course of an entire life.

When you spend long hours in the ICU it’s easy, even normal to get discouraged by long strings of bad news and unanswered questions.  One thing that helped me keep perspective was the family that we shared a hospital wall with.  Their son, brother and friend had been in an brutal motorcycle accident, so they spent their days saying goodbye.  I still remember the painful hours when we knew they were pulling the plug.  Even though my sister outlook was rough, and our road seemed dark and endless, we were thankful for the air in her lungs.

She was eventually discharged to a rehab hospital where she had to relearn even the most basic of tasks, like how to swallow and walk.  I caught strep throat from the hospital germs so I wasn’t there when she woke up, they told me she would lay there fingering the silky pink ear of a stuffed animal, and that she really wanted to eat candy orange slices

From there she came home for a while but as the months passed, my parents had to come to terms with the fact that our family home was not the best place for her.  It broke my Dad’s heart to have to go to court to get guardianship of her, he had to go to court and with her sitting there, prove to a judge that she wasn’t capable of taking care of herself anymore.  They took away her drivers license, and they were forced to take away so much more.  It’s now been ten years since that day on the tracks and her progress has ebbed and flowed through several different rehab facilities and systems.  As a family, we try to connect with and support her as best we can but around year five we had to come to terms with the fact that her life, as well as ours, was forever altered on the tracks that day.

Continue on to Part Two:  The coldest March- the loss of my Dad

Luggage

I am a sucker for word pictures, metaphors and object lessons.  I am absolutely certain that this is a good thing, because in the new testament I read, Jesus loved to use examples from daily life to help people firmly grasp his life giving concepts.  So, if you give me a hard time for my metaphorical romance with the metaphor, I’ll just Jesus juke you in your place.  boom.

I also love vintage suitcases and I want to collect a few and make a small tower of them in the corner of my room.  Lately, however, they have started to speak to me in a drastically different way.  I’ve realized that I already have a lot of old suitcases, but they’re not the robins-egg blue, hand stitched, antique leather kind I was hoping for.  These suitcases are what’s classically known in the counseling world as “baggage”.  I, like many of you, have bags of junk that I’m lugging around my life.  What’s worse than the pain that they’re causing my muscles is that I’m using them to frame and shed light on my current life.  For example: If I couldn’t trust people in the past, then that suitcase serves as a reminder that I probably still can’t trust anyone now.  The exact number and weight of the bags I am lugging around is yet to be determined.  I am learning that it takes specific circumstances and emotions for me to become fully aware of them

Yesterday I became painfully aware of a dangerous bag I am dragging.  I was reading the first part of Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts in the bathtub, and without giving anything away, I will say that it’s a difficult and graphic opening that reduced me to rubble.  After three pages I found myself in the fetal position, in the tub, unwillingly sobbing to God “Please don’t take my babies.”  I was begging God not to touch them, commanding him to let them live out the beautiful hope and potential I see in their eyes and hearts.  I just curled up and sobbed angrily over and over again: “God don’t take my babies, please don’t take my babies.” When I dried my eyes and body on a olive green towel I saw a suitcase, a heavy bag that had been weighing me down.

There in the bathtub this bag had sprung open, unleashing on me the ugly truth that I don’t trust God completely with my life or my family.  I expect loss around every corner so that if I find it there I won’t be as wounded.  I fight and I protect and I frenzy myself with worry and work convincing myself that by keeping my hands in constant motion I can prevent more pain.  Maybe if I exhaust myself, I can shelter our small family for another nearly fatal blow.  I bagged up the painful past instead of releasing it.  I use its presence to remind myself that the only really trustworthy person is me, and I have to keep it all together.  It’s preventing joy, connecting and depth with my Father in heaven.  The only thing left to do now is take out every scrap from the bag, turn it over and over in my hands and spill truth over it until it disappears completely, lightening my load.

As I continue to take in this life, I am aware that other bags will make themselves known. I catch ghostly glimpses of them every now and again.  When they show themselves fully I will have to sort through them as well, slowly replacing their contents with truth, ever lightening my soul.  I’m ridiculously glad that I have a lifetime to unload these bags, and I pray that as I journey I can see things in the light of Gods truth so as not to pack or pick up any new ones.

If you see a battered bag in the corner of your life, open it, and ask God to sort through it with you.  He will give you the truth, which will heal like a miracle salve, and your soul will breathe easier from being out from under its weight.

Fighting for simple thanks

Right now I am holed up in my bedroom, because if I don’t excuse myself form the rest of my family, someone may get hurt.  I am in the midst of full tilt Thanksgiving prep, which right now seems to be including candying ginger and making pine cone turkeys.  I just about lost it and so I sent myself to my room to find a bit of perspective.

I am struck with a deep sense that if I don’t change course now, this Thanksgiving could be a flop.  And I’m not talking about  burning the turkey or making the mashed potatoes too runny.   I stand to ruin things on a much larger scale, in fact, I am on the fast track to miss out on the beauty of the holiday if I get lost in the details.  So as sit in my bed, surrounded by a mountain of clean laundry I’m changing it up.  I’m putting some promises and prayers out there for myself, and I truly hope that God might sprinkle these truths over your thanksgiving as well.

1) I will commit to make a wide-awake and thankful heart more important than flavors, decorations or clean carpets.  I want to see the joy in the details of this rich, warm day.

2) I pray that discussions of thankfulness are threads which are woven throughout the whole weekends, instead of one small session around the dinner table.

3) I want to leave dirty dishes sit which I slow down and enjoy the day through my children’s eyes, and remember that I now have a huge hand in forming their feelings toward holidays and traditions.

4) People over food, People over cleanliness, People over perfection, People People People…

5) As the black friday ads and emails start to overtake my TVs and inbox like a tidal wave, I will do my best not to stress out.  Instead I will try to go back to the source of truth and beauty to remind myself that this season should be about the revolutionary world changing love of Jesus.

Dear God,

I pray that myself and everyone reading this has a holiday weekend where their minds and hearts are flooded with prayers of thanks for being big time blessed.  I pray that we are able to sit, to reflect, to savor all the rare faces and food that this Holiday is famous for.  May families draw closer around their tables instead of father apart.  So many have holes in their lives and pain in their hearts, I pray that you strengthen them, bring your peace to their hearts and your people to their doorsteps.  Lord, let us see far more joy and beauty than we do issues and problems as our thankful hearts continuously send seeds of thanksgiving wafting up to heaven.  This is what makes this day truly delicious.

Amen.

Sunday Prayers

Quite often I have some of my best thoughts and ideas in the middle of worship at church.  It’s not uncommon to see me scribbling in a small blue notebook or on a bulletin instead of singing.  At this point I just go with it because I figure that I’m being faithful to God in my own little way, and that my church loves me as I am.

Songs hit me deeply and they speak a beautiful language.  I’m more prone to enjoy great lyrics than great music, but powerful lyrics are hard to enjoy without strong instrumental and vocal talent, so it truly is a package deal.  Praise and worship songs tend to hit me two different ways.  There are the songs that seem to describe the current landscape of my life and find me exactly where I am ,often knocking me to my knees.  Then there the songs that, if I am honest, I sing with more of hopeful feeling.  They describe a place of health and peace that is the destination of my spiritual journey rather than my current location.  Some songs have scraps of both, the here and the someday, some pieces of confirmation and some humble prayers.

Let me provide you with a few examples and explanations:
I have been stuck on the same songs for a while, deal with it. 

Beautiful Things, Gungor:  

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found, in me

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust

SMS Shine: David Crowder Band

Send me a sign
A hint, a whisper
Throw me a line
‘Cause I am listening

Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me to life
‘Cause I am fading

Surround me with the rush of angels wings

This is where I am, I am still struggling and longing for a time where the brush strokes of my life are done in more vivid colors and less gray hues.  I am not complaining, my lips are filled with proclamations of the blessings that surround me.  However I still spend a lot of time sorting through what I have lost, processing all the hope that will forever go unrealized.  I am trying to figure out what it looks like to live in a world where my mom took her life.  It has changed my worldview and my perspective.  There is no quick and easy fix, and so I think and I question, I wonder and I press on.  I will not linger, but I won’t lie to you either.

Then there is the other category of praise songs, here are a few examples:

Divine Romance: Phil Wickham

The fullness of Your grace is here with me
The richness of Your beauty’s all I see
The brightness of Your glory has arrived
In Your presence God, I’m completely satisfied

Your Grace is enough, Chris Tomlin

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough, for me. 

These songs are more of a prayer, because to be honest I can’t always sing these lines with confidence.  I am not always completely satisfied in Gods presence and I often see a lot more than the beauty of my savior when I look around.  Also, I am prone use a lot of other fluff to fill my heart and life before I find God’s grace.  And when I do, I don’t always behave like it’s enough for me.  These lyrics aren’t wrong and they’re not overly lofty, but I sing them more like a prayer than a description of where I find myself.

Worship is a beautiful expression of where we find ourselves and a needed reminder of where we are going.  When we hear songs that describe us as we are, we’re encouraged because we feel less alone.  Someone else has felt weak, empty, and they even wrote a song about it, a song that got recorded.  On the other hand the songs the describe a “someday place” can point us in a positive discretion or we can choose to feel guilty and shamed.  I tend to do both sometimes, but I can assure you that the author of that song wrote it to remind and uplift and not to make us feel spiritually inadequate.

Know this:  No one, anywhere, ever can always sings every line of every song with perfect peace and confidence. Some songs are your “here” and some are your “someday.”  We are all struggling, stumbling, getting up and pressing on.  Some songs may be your “here” today and your “someday” in a few months.  Life will bring us all sorts of twists and turns, just keep reaching for God, don’t’ despair, it’s not helpful.

I love powerful lyrics because they are an overflow of a heart seeking God like I am, the music that accompanies it is the exact same thing, but without words.  However, since I am more of a wordsmith, I like the words.

I hope you are breathing in powerful words and music, being uplifted and refreshed by our mutual journey.  I’d even love to hear about it and we can spur each other on through this week of thanksgiving.

On My own… (but not really)

On my own. Pretending he’s beside me... Le Miserables anyone?

I should probably switch to something more upbeat… there… Plain white Ts, Rhythm of Love. It’s peppy and will assist in defunkifying my brain space.

So I’m cooking my first Thanksgiving next week and have been busy gathering family recipes and plotting an epic feast.  Sometimes I’m still in shock to find myself at 29 and wearing the matriarch pants in my family.  Half the time I am excited about forging a new path while creating new memories and traditions.  But the other half of the time I long for the past when someone “had me.”  What I mean but that is this: when my kids hit their heads or scrape their elbows they reach for me, they know that I have them.  They are confident that when their rapidly expanding worlds fall apart, I’ll be there to bring comfort and warmth.  That feeling never goes away, the need to know that someone on this planet “has you” when you fall and get hurt.  I have been feeling that ache a lot lately and I long to feel “had.”

As a young-ish adult it’s healthy to live in a rich balance between enjoying family traditions with the generation above you and forging new traditions for yourself. I feel like I got thrown in the deep end of the new traditions pool before I was ready, and well when you find yourself in the deep end too soon it’s swim or die.  So I’m swimming, but I’m not totally happy about it.

I want to wrap up in a warm blanket at my parents house on their old, threadbare couch and eat my Dad’s Christmas cookies.  Or walk into my Aunt Mar’s house for Thanksgiving and fill my senses with all the sounds and smells of a thanksgiving with my family in Michigan.  I want to feel had and held, but instead I am the haver and holder.  So I’ll be brave and make my Grandmas stuffing and my Dad’s Christmas cookies and I’ll pretend that they’re in the kitchen with me, laughing and giving advice that borders on micro-management.  I can be fiercely optimistic approaching this holiday season, but I would be lying if I told you that they’re aren’t major holes left by those lost.  Those holes will always be there, and by acknowledging them I will always give honor to the irreplaceable people that are well loved and greatly missed.

I also need to trust those around me to “have me” and to realize that I can’t always be strong.  I need to journey back to trust, step by step.  I need to trust Kel with parts of the Thanksgiving menu as well as some of the darker corners of my mind.  I need to realize that all my busy-ness can never heal every hurt or prevent future wounds.  And that no frenzy of work or level of perceived perfection can take me to a place half as beautiful as the wide and beautiful destination that God has in mind for me.

The Cracks

I was really irritable this weekend.  And I can tell you exactly why.   I’m wallowing in self pity and fear instead of doing what I should be doing.  One of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world, other than stubbing your toe, is not acting on what you know God calls you to.  It feels like there is something squirming inside of you, trying to get out. But instead you sit around watching an entire season of Big Bang Theory in extreme discomfort, well at least that’s what I did this past week.

If you want to see the metaphor I came up with for this feeling check out this video, and yes its from the Big Bang Theory because that’s all I did this weekend.

Kel thinks it might be a touch demeaning to equate my call to write with a creepy chair vermin, but my brain works the way it works.

So: Confession of my weekend

Instead of connecting with Kel, I watched tv
Instead of writing, I made a hat
Instead of resting, I became a “dishes” nazi and ensured the sink was empty as if my life depended on it.
Instead of getting on my kids’ level, I Facebook and played hanging w friends

And all of this ^ left me feeling this:

Nothing

I knew exactly what to change but instead I sat around miserably unhappy.  What a way to spend a weekend.  ANd you know what?  I bet I’m not the only one.

Last night Kel and I discovered something really cool as we talked in the dark of our bedroom before falling asleep.  Our son is cutting four teeth so we didn’t sleep long, but I’m trying to set the scene for this revelation.

We realized that we fill all the cracks of our lives by being on our phones, laptops and our shared iPad.  The spaces between activities and conversations aren’t empty space for God to work but instantly filled with word games, social media and countless hours flicking birds across a screen.  When is the Holy Spirit supposed to grab our attention if we have every crack filled with meaningless fluff?

When we got married, we wanted to be and epic romance type marriage.  We wanted our grandchildren to see us bear each other’s burdens, hold hands and sit way too close on the couch.  We wanted to set an example of deep love for generation to look upon.  Instead we play angry birds and ignore each other when we finally get time alone.  This may come as a shock to you, but this will not lead to a legacy of epic love.

If I want to receive wisdom about my family, I need to have time to reflect upon my interactions with them.  If I want great stories to weave into my writing, I need to click off my iPhone and look around once in a while.  If I want to heal and process, I need to leave empty space for God to do his miraculous work.

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Think about this poem for a second or two.  What are you filing the cracks in your life?  What needs to change?  I don’t know anyone who sets out to live a mediocre life, purposefully missing out of the deep and beautiful.  We fight through pain and heartache that finds us and climb to places of peace.  When we get there we take a deep breath and… pull out our phones?  No, not okay.  I do this, it’s not okay, and it won’t lead to the life I am called to.

Please don’t get me wrong, Technology has its place, without it I would just be a girl at a kitchen table with a snazzy journal.  But there’s a balance, and right now I am on the wrong side of it.  My teeter needs to totter the other way and find a happy medium.

If want some additional thoughts on this topic, check out this article from my friend Sarah Martin.  Relevant liked it, so you should too:

Have you felt this feeling?  The discontentment, the longing to respond to a call of something more?

Is it just me? It can’t be…  Can we journey this change together?

Not Today

Today I want to share with you something amazing.  Today I desperately want to write something that makes people remember who they are and what they are on this earth to do.   The problem is that inspiration is completely blocked behind a serious wall of congestion and exhaustion from a nasty and lingering sinus infection.  So I sat in the tub and realized that Today was not the day for amazing.  Today is not the day for extreme productivity.  If I keep an unsustainable pace, my body will burn out.  So I put on my fuzzy warm clothes and my fleecy cloud socks and decided that today is a “Not today” day.

Toilet cleaning?  – Not today
List making? – Not today
Letter writing? – Not today
Gourmet meals? – Not today (unless you want to bring me one… then yes, today!)
Hours of writing? – Not today

Baby Snuggling? – Yes
Chick Flick watching? – Yes
Doctor calling? – Yes
Laying in bed with a book? Yes
Some light crocheting? – Perhaps

I worry about the pace we keep and the high levels we set for ourselves.  We are called by God to take a full day off from paperwork and turn our attention to resting and nourishing our souls.  I suspect that few that 5% of us are doing that.  So I will take today off and find peace with carpeted floors covered in little shoes and colorful blocks. I will ignore dirty dishes and turn my attention to resting and recovering from an overly busy and draining week.

Are we called to work hard on this earth?  Absolutely completely and totally yes.  But God also called us to rest and feast and be.  So today I rest and I shall feast on soup and toast and whatever Kel decided to make for dinner.  Which is supposed to be chicken parmesan and that sounds nice.  Not that I can taste anything, but still.

Earthquakes and Interwebs

The past few days my family has been completely dependent on lotioney puffs, mucinex, ibuprofen and hot tea.  Also Oklahoma has been experiencing incredibly  strange weather including earthquakes, flash floods and tornados.  I have stopped being surprised by life, I would not be at all surprised if I discover buried treasure in my back yard or if Zombies attack.  Seriously.
So I spoke at a retreat this past weekend and I made this video to go along with my presentation.  The idea behind this video has really been rattling around in my brain lately.  How is social media affecting us?
Sunday night I was sitting on the couch reading up on a Mom Blog and feeling horribly inadequate about my parenting skills.  These moms have elaborately organized playrooms and daily schedules that revolve around their child’s developmental growth and creative freedom.  To get my mind off it, I clicked on the tweet of a home decor site which I enjoy and as I checked out the pictures of their pristinely coiffed homes I instantly started glancing around my living room and seeing crooked paint lines and dusty, empty spaces.
I have a confession to make to you all:  I am flagrant comparer/contraster.  At least 837 times a day I look around me and count all the ways I don’t measure up.  The internet makes this number a lot higher than it otherwise would be.  I know I can’t be perfect at everything but how do I use the advise from these good sources online to learn and grow rather than feel inadequate about my own shortcomings?
I have realized that I need to make a list (surprise!) and rank the things I do with my time in order of importance of how they line up with what God is asking from me.  I want to be intentional about this and refer to it anytime that I feel inadequate about the state of my life.  This will help me on days when I am sporting yet another pony tail rifling through a laundry basket of clean clothes that has gone unfolded for days.
I am learning that we all have our “things” in life, these are the ideas and people we are passionate about, the thoughts that God wants to occupy our minds.  We need to note these “things” and use their truth to defend against constant arrows of “not good enough” that fly from the screens of our phones and screens.  If we don’t put our shields up we might live in a constant blah land where we are too distracted trying to do everything that we can feel fulfilled in much of anything.
God doesn’t want us to constantly hold our lives up to those around us, constantly sizing each other up.  We are all crazy unique and our obsession with “stacking up” is going to detract us all from the awesome beauty God scattered through our lives to be discovered and explored.
One of my favorite Authors Shauna Niequist also suggests making a “to-don’t” list.
This is a list of items that you just don’t bother with at all.  For example she doesn’t remodel, garden or bake.   I love this idea, since you can’t be everything, lets make a list of items we just don’t bother with.  There is a lot of freedom in this practice, and I need to work on both of my lists, the list of “what I am all about” and the opposite “to-don’t” list.
Am I the only one who often feels inadequate when they “log-on”?
What do you need to remember, and what do you need “to-dont”?

Lies we tell

Well this weekend was my first experience speaking about my story and my message at the “Lies we tell” women’s retreat put on by H2O church in Ardmore, OK.  The theme of my message was the lie that “I have to be perfect” in the way I live my life and that “I have to be perfect” to be used by God.  For the second portion of the talk I leaned heavily on my article “Puddles and Rock Stars” featured here.

To add some comic relief we worked on this video to illustrate the way that social media puts forth the lie that we have to be perfect.  So often we log on to Facebook or twitter and see the best parts of the lives of our friends and family.  No one is posting a video of their most recent marriage knock out fight, but we certainly post hot date pics.  No one posts about failing a class, but a status about straight A’s isn’t rare.  It’s understandable to want to put your best face forward on social media, but the danger lies in believing that what we see on Facebook is a completely accurate picture of people’s real lives.  It’s not, it’s only the best parts, and if you feel like you don’t measure up to what you see in your news feed, remember that measuring your life against other people’s Facebook posts and tweets will always leave you feeling inadequate.  So do what you need to do to stop doing that.

And oh, if you get “the girl from Ipanema” or “The odd Couple Theme” stuck in your head this week, you’re welcome.  Use it to remember that you are uniquely awesome.

Rugs aren’t scary.

The weather has been grayer lately, yesterday it rained for awhile.  I was thankful beyond words because I am so sick of sunny days.  In celebration I am writing to you in my mint colored winter robe and I have put away my thinner navy blue summer robe.  Yes I wear robes, they provide convenient and easy warmth, I don’t care what you think.

So, I have an amazing friend Jessica, and I am blessed by her  in so many ways.  Without her my life would be lonelier and less joyful.  We can talk about life, God, food and Etsy for hours on end.  She loves my family and my kids love her back, I swear my little guy thinks he’s going to marry her one day.  She is the one who helped me figure out some of this:

I have been absent from my writing lately, my passion has been elsewhere, if it has existed at all.  I have been making rag rugs, wreaths, halloween costumes and a dozen different kinds of soup.  I haven’t wanted to write or work on my book proposal, but I do want to watch 3 hours of Mad Men and crochet hats.  I’ve thought about this a lot and I’ve pretty much diagnosed the issue:  If I screw up soup or a hat it’s frustrating but only on a minor scale, no one really knows that I failed except me.   Unless, of course, my soup failure makes our house smell (I did that in my early days of cooking by confusing a bulb of garlic with a clove.. toxic)

There isn’t anything wrong with cooking and crafting, far from it, it is an aspect of who God created me to be.  However, it’s not really the calling he has placed on me right now and I think his plans for me stretch a little wider than the floor in front of my kitchen sink.  Which is now occupied by a big rag rug.  I guess I have been scared and feeling pretty inadequate, and to be honest I am still a little depressed and grieving.  So I’ve been crafting therapeutically and ignoring Gods whisper to write and delve deeper.  I know that there is a window of grace for me in this season, but I also sense a horizon drawing near and a responsibility to take off my crafty yoga pants, put on my big girl jeans and face it head on.

Intentional distraction and or running away is a pretty normal human reaction to a a big calling, lots of biblical peeps doubted or ran away from God’s call on their lives.  I think specially of Jonah who was afraid to go to Nineveh so he got on a boat going the opposite direction.  This is also why I am avoiding boats right now.  I don’t want to be cruising along on the waves crocheting a hat or eating soup and get eaten by a fish, no thank you.

When you get an earful of God’s calling it is often exciting and frightening all at the same time and it’s human and normal to avoid and choose flight over fight.  Every person on the face of this earth has a purpose and a passion and God calls us all to big and scary things.  I am sure that I’m not the only one online right now who is feeling called to something beyond themselves.  And from what i understand that is how God loves to work, he loves to call a little guy to do a huge thing, it brings him Glory, and he’s a big fan of that because it reminds the world that he’s still gloriously God.

Are you running today?  What is your metaphorical soup or rag rug?  Maybe you are on a boat going the opposite direction but you’re ready to wet-suit up and change ships.  Lets do it, ready?  Plug your nose and jump with me.  I am sure it’s scary but I bet it’s scary good.  I will work on my book proposal if you ______ .  (this is the part where you tell me what your going to do about your scary big call)

Please enjoy our family Halloween picture, the kids as owlets, Kel and the tree they next in and me as Flo the progressive lady.