Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trying to {Be Still}

I stood by my bed folding towels tonight.

Twisting and pulling and trying to make all the corners match up perfectly (which they never do), before I would fold them in half and then in half again.

And this post, or something like it, has been bouncing around in my head for several days.

Y'all know I can think something to death, right?

I mean, I've told you that before - several times.

I've also mentioned before all the Gifts I think God gave me.  
I'm a firm believer in God giving us gifts because He expects us to use them - for His Glory no less.

But here's where I am right now:

the teenager who loved to sing, dance and act...

who tried out (and got into) every drama and musical event possible in high school and church youth group...

who taught arts and crafts to young kids in bible school more than one summer...

who used to sit in my swing outside my parents house writing songs and singing them out loud...

who made up dances and tried out for cheer teams...

That girl?

I'm not sure where or who she is right now.
My guess is, she's buried under all the layers of this 37 year old, wife, mother, and all-out-mess.

And I still love to sing.

I've been involved in our church choir for almost 9 months and we've only been attending for about 13.

I've sung one-on-one for the minister of music and taken her compliments.
I nodded when she said to prepare something else and work on it for a few weeks and meet with her again.

Only, I didn't do it.
I mean, I tried.  But this was back in February when there was still sickness running rampant.  By the time I recovered, life had run away from me and I was frantically trying to catch up.

And every Sunday, I sing with the choir at 9:30 am and then again at 11:00 am. I stand on the front row.
I sing my part and I do my best to blend (pretty easy with a soft voice).  

And every Wednesday, I show up to choir practice for 2 hours, ending at 9pm; making my Wednesday's "double-coffee" days because they are so long!

And more than once, I have asked myself, "how long will this be 'ok'?"
How long will I feel fulfilled just being part of the choir? Do I feel fulfilled now?

Is there actually room for me here? 
There is a TON of talent in our church.

What I failed to mention so far is this:
I love to sing, but it scares the life out of me! I can literally shake so hard I can't hold a microphone if I know I have to sing a solo.
"Auditioning" for the music minister was one of the hardest things I've done in a long time.

YET, I still feel compelled to do it.
And not only as I'm doing it now, but to take it further.

And I've thought on this for while.
I don't want to be fooled. I know I am not an amazing singer.

I enjoy it, yes.
But there are many others with much more talent than me.

I'm not keen on the spotlight, but I've asked myself more than once, "Am I doing this for the wrong reasons?"  I definitely want this to be about spreading His message through song and not about myself. 

I'm really trying not to be selfish.
Truth be told, I'm trying not to be human, because my fleshly response is not one I'm proud of.  

I've thought (more than once) if the music minister (MM) wanted to use me on the worship team or in some other capacity, why hasn't she followed up with me?

I realize I hold some responsibility too.
But who wants to feel like they're forcing themselves on someone else or into a group they weren't "invited" to?

So, I just keep asking God what He wants me to do with this?
Do I stay where I am and learn to be content?
Will it be then that some other opportunity comes along?
Or do I go to the M M and remind her that we need to make another appointment?

I sort of feel like one of those towels I was folding; being stretched and molded to fit a shape I don't quite fit into naturally. 

I'm not sure what to do. 

For now, I'm hoping and praying and listening for that STILL small voice to answer me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Mess in HIS Way...

I wrote an email to an acquaintance yesterday.
To ask her, how does she do it? 

Conduct a business from home as well as being a wife and mother? 

And I describe for her my mess...
My mess of a calendar; my mess of a house; the mess I make of the time I DO have; my messy office.

And what I'm really spilling* out is this: 


And I knew (and know now) that I have to stop doing this...
talking negatively to myself and about myself.

As much as I like to think I'm learning about grace here, I almost never extend it to myself.
For some reason, I hold myself to these insane standards.  Mistakes that are ok for other people to make are absolutely NOT ok for me to make.

And today, I had an interesting conversation about personality traits.  The comment was made that ALL that we have, we have for good reason.  God intends for us to have it and He intends to use it for good.  We can even take something not so good about ourselves, and turn it into something good - something that works for His glory.

I believe that - I really do.

I think where I have always gotten hung up before is in my analysis: are nature and nurture the same when it comes to traits we need to keep and use?
I spent so much time trying to find out how I developed certain qualities that it never once occurred to me that it didn't matter how or why I had them. 
It simply matters that I do.
And it matters that I use all the parts that make up me to work for Him.

I realized today that I'm getting in His way.

I have to figure out how to let Him work through me (and in me) without getting in the way.

Lord, please help make this mess into something good for you.  You know I have no idea where to start!

*I meant to write spelling,  but I when I read my typo I laughed because it was more appropriate.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Hardest Lesson to Learn

Today is Earth Day.  

It also happens to be the anniversary of a day I will never, ever, forget.

It wasn't a terrible day today.  I didn't sit around all day thinking of the friend I lost on this day 19 years ago. 
I didn't cry all day.

But the tone for today was set long ago; and again recently in a dream I had last week. I woke up thinking I had been right there with her.  Stacy, my friend.  And that's her real name because I don't have the where-with-all to think up another one for her right now.  And because, she just was, Stacy.

On this day in 1994, just 30 school days before we graduated high school, Stacy was on her way to school.  It was raining, and in a freak one-car-accident, Stacy lost control and flipped her car.  The old Nova she drove landed upside down.
The lack of a shoulder belt and only a lap belt to hold her in place caused Stacy to slide "up" toward the roof of the car when it rolled.  Her head got trapped between the headrest of the seat and the roof of the car.  

A neighbor who witnessed the accident ran over to the car to try to help.
He got there just in time to hear her take her last breath.

Stacy's classmates who shared first period with her, heard the news first thing.
I didn't have a class with Stacy until the afternoon - pre-calculus.
A friend who I shared homeroom with ran from her first class to our homeroom.  She wanted to tell me before the announcement was made over the intercom.  By the time she got there and got my attention, the morning announcements had already started and she had to blurt it out - Stacy's dead.

My reaction, to this day, still embarrasses me.  I don't like drama queens and I usually try not to be the center of attention.
I'm not even sure exactly what I said.
Maybe I screamed.
I know I cried.
I think I fell on the floor right where I was standing beside my desk.

I do know everyone in the room was staring at me.

I do know the hardest question I had to answer was from people who didn't know her - "who was she?"
I guess it's really hard to be upset when you don't know the person who died.  Still, it felt so inappropriate and cold to hear those words.

Even now, I can feel the intense feeling of shock I remember feeling that day.  Shaking my head.  Wanting to wake up from that bad dream. 

The next few days and the funeral are all a blur to me now.
I know where she is buried, but I could never bring myself to go back.

Stacy was so full of life.  Always smiling, happy.
The irony of the day she died has always bothered me; she loved animals - was a member of PETA; was very "green" especially back then; planned to go to vet school.

Stacy wasn't perfect, as none of us is.  But there was one character flaw of hers that just drove me crazy. And it's so stupid now, because it's not a flaw at all.
She was so compassionate, that when you were having a bad day, she would apologize to you. Many, many, many times.  Over and over, even if there was absolutely no way any of it could be her fault.

I'd known Stacy since the 6th grade.  We became great friends in 7th grade and remained friends throughout high school.
Near the beginning of our senior year, we discovered we both intended to go to NC State for college.
She asked if I wanted to room together.

I could've said yes. I should've said yes.

I said no.  And I made up a lie as to why I could not live with her - my parents wanted me to take a random roommate.  They thought it would be good for me to room with someone I didn't know, from a different background.

Now maybe my parents did think that was a good idea.  I don't know because they never told me.

I was AFRAID.  I was afraid that if I lived with Stacy we would get on each other's nerves and our friendship would be ruined.
Instead, I did that with a little white lie.

It put a real strain on our friendship that year.  Most of it may have been felt by me because I knew what I had done.  Even so, we grew apart.

Just the day before her accident, April 21, 1994, we started to reestablish our friendship.  In math class, she helped me understand some concepts we would be tested on the next day.  She sent me home with some of her notes.
To this day, I still have them - her handwriting so neat and pretty.

I sincerely regret the fact that I never told Stacy I was sorry for lying.  I'm not even sure if she knew, but I KNEW.  I wish I'd made it right.

For YEARS, I walked around in shock that she was gone.  My first two years of college, I would think I saw her in a crowd.
She appeared in my dreams often.  Back then, they usually resulted in me waking panicked - thinking I was the reason she died.

The experience was the strangest gift really.  It taught me at 18 to never take anything - or ANYONE- for granted.  It showed me that we are not promised another day on earth.  We aren't promised another day with loved ones or a certain amount of time with our friends.

It taught me (and I'm still learning) to live today as if it were my last and enjoy it all right down to the last second.  To really appreciate ALL that life brings us and not just the happy good, but the sorrow and the pain as well.

I'm ashamed to say, there have probably been years when I didn't remember her on this day.
But I am excited that in my dream last week, I talked to her.  She was happy as usual.  She was smiling and carefree.  WE were talking and laughing.  
And we were friends.

I miss you Stace!
Love always, 

I'm linking this post up with:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

{Be Still} and listen...

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Psalm 107:29 (NIV)

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

1 Samuel 12:16 (NIV)

“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!

When I searched "be still" on I got almost 

300 "hits."

The one I was specifically looking for was that first one from Psalms: the commandment to Be Still and know that He is God.

I know that He is God.  

I know that He is in control.  

I know that He holds me in the palm of His hand and that He walks through trials with me (sometimes He carries because there is NO other explanation for my 
making it through).

But y'all? I have a real hard time with being still.

I am analytical and I am a questioner - to a fault.  I often can't leave well enough alone.

As much as I know that "God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we could listen more than we speak," I have a hard time managing that too.

I've been real analytical lately...

As I was lamenting my little man's mild head injury, some friends of friends were in a hospital.  Their 7 year old son hooked up to all sorts of machines and a ventilator, unresponsive.  Just the day before he had been hit by a car and incurred 2 very serious injuries.

A few hours after my post about my little Buddy, theirs went to be with Jesus.

And when I found out, even more hours later, I thought my heart would break into a million pieces.

I know with my head that we live in an imperfect world.  I know that there are consequences for our actions.  And I know that even when we try our best to do the right things and not make mistakes, accidents still happen.

I believe that we all have a limited number of earthly days.  We aren't promised tomorrow.
Heck, we might not even be promised the rest of today!

But the death of a child is just one of those things I have a really hard time wrapping my head around.
The thought of losing one of my children, can almost paralyze me.

And it's here, in this heartbroken, questioning, and maybe-even-a-little-angry place that I know I will never "get it." Not on my own.

I have been absolutely bombarded in the last 3 days with images, stories, devotionals, and facebook shares about accepting myself as God's creation.
The messages have all been similar, but woven throughout is the realization that I must go deeper still into His word.
That I must become closer to Him to even BEGIN to understand his wonder and love for us.

And I have a long, long way to go.  But I'm determined.

I decided the best route is to just be still and listen. Listen until I can't listen anymore.
Listen until I know His voice better than my own.

Listen for Him to lead and guide me in EVERY.SINGLE.DECISION I have to make everyday.

What better way to learn to trust Him fully?

So this is day 1 {Be Still}.

I don't know how many days I'll write on this.

I don't know if it will be a finite series or just a topic I write on occasionally. 

But I do know this is day 1.

Feel free to join me in being still...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hide and Seek

My little Buddy got hurt at school today; the teacher called me about an hour after I dropped him off to tell me I needed to come back.

She told me it wasn't a big deal, but as with all accidents, they wanted a parent to come back to the school and look at the injury.

I knew before I went that he would want to come back home with me.

Ironically, he'd been going to get his picture made.  When it was his turn, he tripped on the rug / backdrop and fell hitting his head on the wooden chair that was the prop for the picture set.

He has a bit of a goose-egg and has already complained about it being sore.  We've done ice and ibuprofen and now Dora the Explorer is trying her hand at making him feel better.

His teacher said he'd been a trooper; that she didn't know how he'd reacted down in the photo room, but that he wasn't still crying when he got back to the classroom.  I know my son.  I have no doubt, he cried long and hard in that span of a few minutes.  My guess is, he didn't want any of his friends to see him crying so he stopped before getting back to the classroom.

When she'd called to tell me about it, the teacher said, "Now don't freak out - he's ok - but Buddy got hurt.  Before you get upset, just let me tell you what happened."

After I promised her I'd be there shortly, I hung up and broke down.
I went into the bathroom and sank down on the side of the bathtub, collapsing in my tears.  I told God I just didn't know how much more I could handle this week.  I confessed I wasn't sure how I would make it through the next 72 hours without lots of assistance.
And I begged for it - assistance from Him. 

My husband is in Puerto Rico on a business trip and has been gone since Wednesday morning.
Yesterday was a busy day; one where a stay-at-home Mom like me isn't actually home very much.
Tonight I have a cooking show to conduct with a babysitter coming to stay with my kids and my filthy house.
Tomorrow morning my Mother in Law meets me here at 9am to take Buddy and our dog to her house for the night.  I have to drive myself and my daughter back to Myrtle Beach, SC for her last dance competition - plenty of stress and anxiety in and of itself without all this other stuff to go with it.

What's keeping me going is knowing we ALL will be back here together on Sunday and then I can breathe easy again - at least for a little while.

I was struck by the teacher's words this the time Buddy got back to the classroom, he was composed.
And I did the same thing - DO the same thing.
I fell apart in private, but hid it from everyone else - even my son.
The problem is, I've been doing this so long, I don't even know when it started.

I've always been sensitive, easily hurt in the feelings department, and emotional.
At some point along the way, I realized tears made other people uncomfortable; it sometimes evoked fear or anger; sometimes tears brought pity rather than compassion and I didn't want pity.

So I learned to hide my feelings. 
It's pretty impossible to be REAL, OPEN, AUTHENTIC when I'm hiding.

I didn't realize how often I do this.

It's funny how before I had kids, I thought I would be the one teaching them.  Most days, quite by accident, they teach me something.
The days I learn about myself from them are the ones I cherish.
It always amazes me that those personality traits about myself and the mannerisms that I wish my kids wouldn't emulate, are the ones they pick up first.

They've seen me do this thing - falling apart and then hiding it.  Hiding from their Father, their Grandparents, My friends, even from them.  My daughter has gotten the mistaken impression before that I didn't care when she was hurt, because I've trained myself to stay composed and "be strong for the kids."

And I think this hiding is making me sick - physically and emotionally.  
I'm tired of hiding.

I can't do it anymore; I just haven't figured out yet where to start to change it. 

But I'm asking to be set free...

John 8:32 
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

photo credit:

photo credit:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 31: {31 Days of Grace}: Delaying the Inevitable...

I am one heck of a procrastinator!
I have been posting to this blog in my head every day since I last wrote and published.

In my head, I've said all sorts of witty things and shared with you insights from this 31 Days journey (that has really been more like 60).

I re-read many of my 30 previous posts and I did learn some things:

1.) I can't finish my story in one more post :-)

2.) I still haven't quite gotten it through my thick head that God sees me as He will see me in Heaven - a glorious creation of His.  Not the repeating sinner, fleshly failure that I am.  I will continue to work on it...
Eph 1:17
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.


3.) It is helpful to look back on the written words and see the things I need to work on.  I see myself in situations that would have gone much differently had I relied totally on God and not on humans.  I guess I'm not there yet either...

4.) I also noticed that I started several stories or alluded to branch-offs of them and I never came back to finish them.

One such time was on Day 23:

Unfortunately, this was the start of a long road with him and my parents, but I'll get to that later.
I do remember telling you my Dad gave me the option to NOT walk down the aisle right before I did! This was just the final attempt in a long string of attempts to get me to not marry E or at least postpone the wedding.
Somehow, my parents had gotten the idea that I was uncertain.  Looking back, I don't remember it being that way at all; I think most things in life are better with questions.  After all, how strong can a relationship be if it can't get past questions like, " Am I sure I want to spend the rest of my life with him?"?

Another time was here, on Day 12, about Stephen...

If there is one thing I will always remember about Stephen, it's that he always made me feel special in a very genuine way.  It wasn't the flattery and showering of gifts like with Ryan; it wasn't the "you would be pretty if..." like John; it was always about owning who I was, good or bad.  Being proud of all the things that made me, me.  I would love to thank him for that, but for reasons I'll get to later, we don't speak anymore. 
Unfortunately, after E and I had been dating a few months, we ran into Stephen at a party one spring night.
He was getting ready to graduate and move out west somewhere.  It was good to see him and catch up and I didn't mind talking to him.  E didn't mind either - at first.
I think it was obvious to anyone with eyes, that I was hopelessly in love with E! Stephen could certainly see it and he probably had never seen me look that way - not even over John.
I'm not sure what came over Stephen (maybe he was drunk?) but he followed me around that party like a love-sick puppy dog.  It was weird because we'd never really had a strong relationship; I always knew it was a temporary thing and that we were better off as friends.
This did not sit well with E and he asked me after that night not to see Stephen again (easy to oblige since he really did move far away).
HOWEVER, a mutual friend brought up Stephen by email several years later when E and I had been married 5 or 6 years.  Completely by accident, E saw the email and just flipped out.  He couldn't believe I was even talking about Stephen! I guess he just worried that he could come back and be as stalker-like as he was at that college party.  After the history with John, can you blame him?

As crazy as it sounds, that episode with the email, almost broke up my marriage.  More due to how I handled it than what it was; I got defensive and didn't react well to him reading my email.  Even though I hadn't done anything "wrong" or had any ill intentions, my reaction made it seem as if I had.

In 16 years, it's the only time I've seen my husband cry and it was my fault.
It's a perfect example of needing to say you're sorry in order to fix things, even when you didn't commit the crime you've been accused of.

So that's it...the last of my 31st, 31 Days of Grace post.

I'm still not sure what I accomplished or if I accomplished what I intended.
I do think it was helpful and I will continue to do it.

So, while I don't know what the next series will be, I plan to continue some of the same story lines I started here.

Thanks for staying with me through this and please don't be a stranger going forward!