Hiding

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Yesterday I got an email from our Insurance office, that looked a little like spam but also kind of authentic. So I called the number and it was a real person on the other end of the line. Our office needed our new contact info and we had neglected to update them on addresses and phone numbers. So she googled me, and found my blog, and read my story, and asked… “Do you still write on there?”

Ummm… sometimes…

At first it felt like a coincidence… and then a kick in the pants.

I have been hiding. I have, it’s just time to admit it.

This is not one of those posts that I am doing drafts of guys, this is just happening really quickly before someone wakes up for school… for which we need to leave in less than an hour.

Last week my dear grandma passed away due to heart troubles.
This past Monday my Dad would have been 60
This past Tuesday marked the five year anniversary of my Mom’s passing.

I’ve been busy, I’ve been sick with Mastitis … I’ve been hiding and using a lot of really valid excuses not to think about any of it at all.

I can’t write about it because the timing isn’t just right… I’m not at the right coffee shop, the baby is probably going to wake up soon or I’m just too tired.

I haven’t been praying about it because I’m not sure where I stand with God…

I haven’t been talking with friends about it because I am pretty sure they are sick of hearing me whine or talk about what’s wrong in my life.

I haven’t been processing any of it, I’ve been watching TV and hiding.

And here is the thing, the hiding doesn’t feel good, in fact just the opposite. The more I hide, the worse I feel, the more TV I binge on… the less I feel like myself.

funny, true, a little pinchy...

funny, true, a little pinchy…

The depression, the loneliness, the guilt, the grief, they’re all sitting on the couch with me, watching Hulu and waiting for their moment.

When I think about the person that my Dad, Mom and Grandma raised me to be, I’m pretty sure that TV binging and obsessing over laundry didn’t make their short list.

They saw in me the seeds God planted when he formed me. The prayed for me daily, and they meant it.

They didn’t pray… Lord may she watch a lot of Netflix and always have all the socks folded.

It’s okay to hide for a while, until you start to loathe yourself. Then it’s time to put the remote in the drawer and do the hard work of sorting through your life for better … or for worse.

While I was surfing Facebook on my nightly social media loop (which indicates a downward spiral signifying I should GO TO BED ALREADY) I saw this on my former Pastor’s Facebook page.

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Some of my suffering has made me better, more open minded and tuned in… but lately?

Nope. Bitter, closed, and completely unaware and ungrateful for the gifts in my life.

Ignoring those gifts quite completely in fact.

So with this cup of coffee and this messy blog post, I seek to change that, to put all my fears and pain and worries on the table and figure out what to do with them. Pray, journal, read a book about it…. talk to an expert… talk to a friend… live this life I have been given with all it’s smooth lines and sharp corners.

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Liberate your Passion, it’s SortaAwesome.

compliments of flickr user zouny, with permission

compliments of flickr user zouny, with permission

My friend Megan has a Podcast called “Sorta Awesome.” It’s completely true to it’s name. Perhaps even more than sorta. Check it out ASAP on tumblr, which will bring you to iTunes, I think.

One the opening four shows she had a brief list of questions that she and her co-hosts answered so that we the listeners could get to know them better.

One of them was (a paraphrase of) this: “What thing do you love to talk about? What thing are you really into, that your friends and family hesitate to bring up because they know you will talk their ear off about it?”

Each time I heard her ask that question, I thought through how I would answer it myself. I couldn’t figure it out. Continue reading

The Parable of the Exploding Ketchup.

Hey all, I’m really excited to be guest posting at The Mudroom today. The Mudroom is a lovely blog collective that focuses on making room for people in the midst of the mess. My kind of place, think I’ll hang out there more often.

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We pulled out of the zoo and immediately they started asking for more.

Can we go out for Ice cream?!”  “Can we go out for dinner?!”   Oh please Mom! Oh please!”

We’d just spent hours traipsing around the zoo, petting the wallabies, climbing the wooden train and tracking down the tigers.

We weren’t there for me. I mean we were, but you know . . . not really.

As our sticky, crumb-infested mini van pulled out of the parking lot, my husband looked at me . . . “I’m not going to tell them ‘no’ about dinner. What do you think?”

I have a meal plan in place at home, but whatever you want, baby.”

Let’s flip a coin, Mom! Heads is dinner at home and tails is a restaurant!”

It was a very expensive tails.

We decided on a local brewery, because we live in Grand Rapids, beer city USA, and any restaurant that lasts either is a brewery or supports local beer culture.

We walked in and I scanned the trendy dining room, full of local art and hipster beards. I sighed with reassurance when I spotted the stack of high chairs in the corner.

High chairs, okay, we’re allowed to be here . . . I reassured myself. There is nothing like taking kids out to eat to remind you of just where you are in life.

We sat down and ordered drinks and melt-in-your-mouth fried pickles. While our kids wiggled and spilled, I leaned over to my husband and whispered; “It’s like we’re the PSA for why not to have kids . . . or at least not to take them out to fun restaurants . . . everyone must wonder why we dared emerge from our hot dog cave.”

Then my daughter leaned over and said: “Actually . . . I bet they’re all thinking “Wow . . . they have three awesome kids. They are soooo lucky.”

And I was put. In. My. Place.

Head on over to The Mudroom to finish it on up! 

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If you like this, there’s more words in store, to keep up easily use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

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20 thoughts and feels from a not so good pastor’s wife about having to (probably) move again.

How do you like THAT title? You like it… You like it….
Warning grammar nerds, I have not adequately proof read. I’m sorry. Can we deal? 

Pew Selfie, New Church.

Pew Selfie, New Church. hi.

I laid in bed last night for a while after Kel fell asleep, feeling deeply sad. The sort of sadness that comes from knowing you have to let go of something, even though you don’t want to. Even though all you want to do is channel your inner four year old and dig in, screaming until maybe… just maybe you get your way.

We are moving again. It’s not officially official but it may as well be. Yes, there is a five percent chance (or less) that we could get to stay but since my thirties is forcing me to be an adult about things (boo forced maturity that comes from three kids and home ownership) 

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Big sister, little sister storytime.

I want to grow claws somehow and dig them into the drywall, hissing at anyone who tries to remove me from our home. I want to go buy 7 spirit hoodies from Noelle’s school and wear them on repeat to represent how very much we are NOT leaving. I want to make mimosas and day drink and whiny text all my friends about how hard this is, because yes I know there are people dying and starving but we have to move. again. dammit. dammit. dammit.

Pass me another mimosa. Or scotch, someone bring me scotch maybe?

OOOH Or Put Big Metal Chicken on my porch Blogess Style? 

This is not, by the way, how a “good” pastors wife handles moving. I am pretty sure they sigh and say something about the will of God and how blessed they are to serve no matter where.

Maybe I’ll get there. Maybe the mimosas will help.

PS I’m not really day drinking. If I were I’d be Netflix binging on Scrubs, Parks and Rec or Gilmore Girls. Or all of the above…. WWLGD? What would Lorelai Girlmore do? 

Probably drink more coffee and kidnap Rory for a trip to boston to eat Chowder in her Jeep.

This is not helping, or is it….?

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So I’m not day drinking or Netflix binging, I’m doing the much more helpful, cathartic thing and whiny blogging about it to you guys. Continue reading

Giving Up on Why

Today I am guest posting for my dear friend across the pond, Tanya Marlow to kick off her fall series on God and Suffering. Hope you’ll start here and click over and as always thank you for your presence and readership.

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This past spring, my husband graduated from Seminary after a seven-year, marathon journey of taking classes when we could afford it, both time-wise and financially. He started on campus, and finished up with intensive courses and online.

To celebrate, we made the seven-hour trip down to Kentucky for the commencement ceremonies. As I took my seat after checking our two children into child-care a single, paralyzing thought occurred to me.

I am here alone.

I was surrounded by a gymnasium of people, clustered together to celebrate their graduates. Some had signs and balloons, most chatted happily as they waited for the ceremony to begin and there I was, literally alone in a crowd.

I started to cry, and masked it by flipping through the program, hoping no one would notice the lonely woman bawling.

Let me fill you in on a little of the backstory as to why I found myself alone that afternoon.

Shortly before I met him, my husband’s father died from two, rare types of brain cancer. The beginning of our relationship was steeped in his grief. His birth mother died a week earlier and, although he hadn’t had contact with her for fifteen years, her death was a hard blow as, with it, all hopes of reconciliation were shattered.

A year and a half later, I received a phone call from my Mother: my father had passed away overnight in his office chair after a sudden heart attack at the age of 49.

 

Five years after that, another phone call: my mother had taken her own life on the train tracks of our hometown.

So that afternoon I sat at seminary graduation alone, feeling the weight of our collective losses. It wasn’t the first time I felt the holes left behind by our parents, but this time it was particularly sharp.

So many people who should have been there beside me…

As the graduates received their diplomas the people who had gathered to honor them stood to cheer. A few names in, a paralyzing thought occurred to me: “I will be the only one who stands and cheers for him; he deserves so much more than just my lonely voice.”

God why did you have to take them all?

Click here to head on over to Tanya’s blog to finish up. 

Hard Just Happens

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We are in a hard season. Normally I’d blog about what’s going on, about what’s hard and what’s helping but if I’m honest I just can’t do it much right now.

This song works well for this post, Hard Times, Eastmountainsouth.

I can’t let everyone in this time, I can’t talk about all the details online and I can’t even post pictures of how our house is coming along. I just can’t fling open the doors right now to show you our hard, beautiful, painful question-laden mess.

This season calls for small circles of sharing and slow, intentional healing.

It’s a season of prayer, wondering, hoping, doubting, trusting and seeing each minute as a chance to start again, believe again, try again.

But writing, writing helps.

Oh and don’t worry, no one is dying, Nickel baby is growing healthy and strong, the bills are paid, even if only just.

Some seasons in life are hard. This is true in the lives of everyone you know. Now, it might be that everyone you know is private about their hard seasons. This seems to be the case more often than not.

Some share it only in small circles because they can only trust a few with the nitty gritty of it all.

Some don’t share at all and burry it deadly deep within, shouldering it unnecessarily alone.

And then there’s over-sharing, in line at the grocery store and on social media, that’s somewhere in the mix too but it’s always hard to know where the shifty, mythical line between vulnerability and over-sharing lies.

But hard seasons, they come. They come no matter how well we plan.

And you know what? I’m finding that they come more than you’d like and that they stay longer than you’d hoped.

A friend texts and says: “Hey! How is it going?”

And you want to say something like: “Better!” but you can’t. Because it’s a lie, and you’re done with that lying game.

You want so desperately to give a good report, to chime in and reassure them that you’re fine but the truth is, you need them to know that really you’re on your ass both literally and figuratively in that moment.

The cloud cover lingers and you wake up some days wondering if you’re broken or to blame.

If only you’d read this book instead of Netflix binging, gone to that counselor, gone running more often, not eaten that, said this thing over the other one, spent less, saved more, developed that habit, gotten up earlier…

Because good people don’t have lingering hard seasons, right?

Wrong. Everyone has hard seasons. It’s not just you.

And again, hard seasons come more often than we’d like … and they stay longer.

Hard is part of the cycle of life, birth, death, joy, struggle, rest… these changes compose the stuff of our earth-treading lives.

You look around and it seems like everyone is doing better than you are, they seem to be killing it, loving it, soaking it all in and earning success that seems miles out of your reach.

Their lives are filled will achievement and glory. They are the embodiment of all those well intentioned quotes you keep meaning to hang on your wall.

It’s not you.

Yes, ultimately you’re the one who has to claw your way out.

But this will be so much easier given these two truths:

1) Hard happens to everyone and often times it lingers.
2) You can’t “good enough” to keep it from happening, no one can.

Marriage is hard, jobs are fickle, kids call for your every resource and the world is broken-beautiful.

You can’t good-enough it away.
You can’t prepare efficiently enough to prevent hard seasons from settling in.

And when they do, you can’t always to-do list them away immediately.

Hard happens.

It’s not just you.

Yes there are things to be done, piles of earth to move from here to there to get back to place of greater peace.

But that earth moves easier with a friend and that shovel is a little lighter without all the shame attached to it.

Hard happens. We’re doing hard right now. Maybe you are too. You’re not alone.

There is a time for every season, but they change.

They change.
This isn’t a forever thing. I know it feels like it today, but it isn’t. It won’t stay.

So pick up your shovel, or stare at it for another hour if you need to.

phone a friend,
say a prayer,
listen to a song,
read a poem.

What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, The Summer Day.

Hard happens. To me, to you.

The winds of change and the God of peace has not forgotten me, or you, or the sparrow for that matter.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

If you like this, there’s more to come. Use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

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Love Showed Up: Friendship Overpowers Shame

Today’s brave and breathtaking post comes from my friend Lisa. Kel and I were Lisa’s Youth Pastors almost 10 years ago and I’m so humbled and honored to have reconnected with her so she can share her brave story, which I still cannot read without tears. 

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The ribbon included with my post is simple, but that simple ribbon means so much to me. That simple ribbon gives meaning to all I have been through…all I have overcome and all I will overcome. That teal ribbon stands for surviving sexual abuse.

“You haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

Those words were the last ones I said aloud in a very emotional speech on sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.  This is the first time I have ever written those words for the public to read.

I looked up to the small audience of close friends in my living room after speaking those words one close friend in particular overcome with emotion. I understood then that I was truly “loved”…love showed up. You see…the girl I was didn’t believe those words yet. I was brave enough to speak them again the following night at a Take Back The Night event, but that girl was desperate for acceptance. That girl was so strong that she was afraid to admit that she was actually weak.

The night I practiced my speech I shared this for the first time:

“From about age four to age six I was sexually abused by my father…In those two years he did the worst things you can imagine to a little girl. The abuse pretty much set the tone for the rest of my childhood. The effects were far reaching. I wasn’t confident. I didn’t feel pretty”.

I am 24 years old today and this speech took place about 4 years ago. I can say with confidence that this event was the first time in my entire life that “love showed up” for me (at least that I recognize). I shared such a vulnerable piece of my life with more people than my husband (boyfriend at the time) and expected to be turned away. Instead I was greeted with tears of compassion and quiet support from good friends.

A lot of survivors of sexual abuse wait for the proverbial “anvil” to drop on their heads. I was no different. This was the first time I got that people have the capacity to care…to care about me. Also in that moment I felt God’s presence. Love showed up has dual meanings in this event. I got that people cared for me, and I got that God cares for me…always. His presence was just a flicker… and to this day I struggle with trusting a heavenly father when my earthly one treated me so horribly. It was this event that made me understand that I truly had a family in these people. To this day I can count on them for anything that I need. If it’s a phone call after a hard day or lunch just to socialize…I can count on them. I also understand that I can bring anything to God. It’s just laying my problems (or especially myself) at his feet that I struggle with.

Through good friends, an awesome husband and an equally as awesome therapist I am closer to believing these words I wrote in my speech:

“For me taking back the night means taking back all I lost…taking back the world [I] had begun to fear. To say to [the person] who assaulted me. You will not stop me from living my life to the fullest. You will not stop me from becoming the woman I want to become. Strong, confident, poised. My head held high, you haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

419534_10151195673834275_311131210_n Lisa Smith is a devoted wife and student. She strives to move beyond her experiences and eventually become a licensed therapist. Lisa hopes to be an inspiration to others both that share her history and those who don’t. Lisa is passionate about bringing women’s issues to the forefront and out of the shadows of shame and silence. Her hobbies are far reaching…everything from singing and playing the guitar to writing stories and reading. If you find yourself wandering Barnes and Noble you can find Lisa in the psychology section, the reference section, or the fiction section (P.S. you should look in that order). Lisa hopes that she can touch others with her experience and for those who share her history she most wants you to know you are not alone. 

Interested in contributing to the Love Showed Up series? Send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and let’s have a chat about it. 

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This is how my first big speaking engagement went

Last week Friday I had my first big speaking engagement, which is a fancy way of saying that a church asked me to share at their women’s retreat.  

And guys, I was nervous, I started shaking about 12:30 in the afternoon and still all hopped up until I fell asleep that night, honestly just writing about it is exhilarating and nerve wracking… in the best of ways.  

But so many friends texted, tweeted and Facebooked me encouragement, let me know that they believed in me…. that I didn’t go into that room alone.

just before...

Also I bought red power lipstick, this helped too.  
Also Also my friend Anne sent me a gorgeous shirt for the occasion, this also helped because I could stop worrying about what I was wearing and worry about what I would say. 

And it went well, it went so well.  As I gazed out over the faces of all those women (a little over 100!) I felt more energized than nervous, more impassioned than afraid.  In short…. I think I sort of loved it.

The evening was under the umbrella of a winter storm and when I went to park in the ramp in downtown Holland, the van slid on ice and I had to carefully back it down.

I immediately realized that if I can survive THAT, I can talk to a roomful of women for 45 minutes.  After all, it won’t kill me or total my main source of transportation so how bad can it be?

When I walked in, the smiles of the organizers put me at ease. We walked to the room across the street where the conference would be held that evening as we chatted about the weather and having thick hair all while the wind did it’s best to whip the hood off my head.

Something I haven’t yet mentioned:  The church who asked me to come speak is the church I attended as an adolescent, the church both my parents attended when they died, the church where we held their funerals.

This was both comforting and extremely intimidating, because while they knew my story... they also knew me as a 14 year old girl. Continue reading

To those of us on our asses.

I’m going through a season where i’m systematically trying identify the lies I believe, and it seems at this point, that there are a lot of them.  I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only one struggling thusly, and so I’m throwing one out there and writing truth over it.  Perhaps I’ll do more, maybe not so much.  Either way, here we, let’s go with, a Lie that I believe.  Mild language alert because some lies are so sticky that the require some choice words to be shaken loose.  

Hey there, I have no clue as to where you really are right now.

Your facebook feed may indicate that you have a picture perfect family, regular girls nights out where you wear something sparkly and a marriage that belongs on the silver screen.

That might be really true, or it might be only part of the story, either way, no matter where you are today I want to tell you a lie:

You’re the only one who goes through season where you fall on your ass (repeatedly)
You’re the only one who has madly emotional moments where you’re not sure which end is up and you’re pretty sure you’ll never figure it out again.
You’re the only one who second guesses every most social interactions on the ride home.
You’re the only one who looses it and heads back to bed some afternoons.
You’re the only one feeling overwhelmed with the day to day.
Everyone else has it mostly together and is enjoying a lovely, fulfilled life and they’re never not the least bit self conscious.
No one else but you falls on their ass.

There. I told you a lie.  It may seem like a bunch of them but really?  It’s all the same one and that is this: You’re the only mess on the planet.

onyourass Continue reading

The Worst Part of “Getting to Know You”

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So there’s something awful about getting to know me, especially if you’re a tender hearted person.  It’s this: At some point I’ll have to tell you my backstory and I’m nearly 100% sure that doing so will hurt more for you than it will for me.

I’m used to telling this story, you’re just not used to hearing it.  My story flies in the face of everything you’ve assumed to be true about me through our interactions.

Online it seems to be a little less dramatic (I’ve rolled out the three major blows of my life here, here and here) but this could very well be because you’re on the other side of the screen and have time to compose and comment, or not.

When people meet me in person, their first impression is usually that I’m a talkative, upbeat, bubbly mother of two who’s good for a laugh.

Then, at some point, the conversation usually has to take a turn, usually not the first time we meet.

It starts with someone asking about my parents, here, I’ll just dialog it for you. Continue reading