Monday, April 28, 2014

Do you know who you are?

Recently I watched an episode of a medical drama titled, "Do you know who you are?"

The concept was based on 3 questions that are often asked to accident victims when they awaken:

1.) Do you know who you are?
2.) Do you understand what's happened to you?
3.) Do you want to live this way?

The character asking these questions of a patient is also narrating the episode and the questions become those she is asking herself to determine which path she plans to take next in her life.

As I think about those questions today, specifically the first one, I think about how often I have asked myself, "Who am I?" or "Leslie, do you know who you are?"

It's funny that just about the time I think I can adequately answer that question, God shows me I'm wrong. Sometimes He takes one of those things away from me.

Just about the time I start my list...
I sing in the choir
I help teach my Sunday School class
I am a Mom of two
I take my kids to church every Sunday morning and every Wednesday night unless someone is sick
I am a wife
I'm a fighter for justice
I am a cook
I am a chauffeur
I teach people how to make quick healthy meals
I am a student of food prep and food health
I am a daughter
I am a friend
I am an artist

...I realize the truth is, these aren't entirely WHO I am.  They are mostly WHAT I do.

We've become a society who associates WHAT we do, with WHO we are.

If we spend our day catering to our kids and their activities, and going-going-going, no matter how tired we are at the end of the day, no matter how irritable we are to those same kids, we say, "I'm a good Mother."

Even if we aren't emotionally available for our families because of all the GOING, we say we are good Moms {or Dads or Grandparents} because we're doing all this stuff.

And we DO and we DO and we DO and we wonder why we don't feel happy? Complete?
How could we possibly fit in anything else to all this DOING?

And then I read this.  And these words jump out at me...
"What about my life and my rights and my time and my space and my yard and my house and kids and my food and my being good at other stuff?"
They catch my attention because I know how many times I've said...

What about me?
What about my feelings?
What about my gifts? And when do I get a chance to use them?
Don't they care?
Why doesn't he/she care about my feelings?
Don't they see how hard I'm working?
Doesn't He see me struggling?
Why can't God just GIVE me this one thing??!!


And we tell ourselves that He doesn't.  That God doesn't, or can't, concern Himself with the minutiae of our day to day.

And that's not true.

Just as a parent I hurt when my baby girl cries, even over something the world deems trivial, God hurts for us when we struggle.

So who tells us that He doesn't care? Why do we let ourselves believe it?

It is the same society that tells us we have to keep up with all the DOING in order to be the BEST Mom / Dad/ {fill in the blank}?


Have you ever thought about it? How you got here? How you started feeling this way? How you lost touch with who you are?

Do you understand what has happened to you?


I know these are hard questions.
They are hard to think about in reference to myself and they are hard to think about in reference to other people, knowing that almost everyone would have trouble answering one or all of them.

I certainly don't have all the answers.

But as I continue to read Lori's post another set of words is important to me:
"I spend a lot of time hustling for my time and my wants and my gifts and my family and my quiet and Jesus is asking me to hand over all of my my’s.
Because if I have truly been crucified with Christ then it is not I who live, but Him.
And in Him there is no space for anything that is mine.
And I have too many things I call mine."

And I do.  Have too many things that I call "mine".  Too many things that I hold tight to.  Too many things that I think "surely, God wouldn't ask me to give up singing {or Pampered Chef, or fighting for public education}."

But you know what? He might.  It's those things we hold tight to, that interfere with our relationship with our Heavenly Father and interfere with us seeing His perfect will for us.

If there's one good thing that has come from my sickness over the last 5 weeks now, it's time away.
Time away from things that are important to me.

The first one being singing.

It has given me time to pause and examine my feelings, my motives, and prayerfully consider that MINE may be different than HIS.

And I don't feel like He has answered my prayer or my questions yet.
But then, I'm not well yet and I can't sing again yet, either.

It's during these times that I get such wonderful reminders like this one from Katie Davis {from Kisses from Katie } 
... I can easily forget why I do what I do. I used to repeat to myself, 'Do not forget in the darkness what you have been promised in the light.'

And this one from Jennifer Rothschild on facebook today:

"You aren't just another set of randomly assembled chromosomes roaming the planet. You are a child of God with a special story and a special calling and a special name."

So perhaps the question I should be asking - WE should be asking - is this:

WHOSE am I? Or WHO does HE say I am?

I AM {and YOU are}:

  • A child of God (John 1:12)
  • Christ's friend (John 15:15)
  • a temple (1 Cor 6:19)
  • a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)
  • a saint (Eph 1:1)
  • Righteous and Holy (Eph 4:24)
  • CHOSEN of God (Col 3:12)

Those darn birds have now built a SECOND nest in the same dead wreathe on my front door! Will they ever leave??

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Don't Blink

Twenty years.

It can seem like a long time and it can seem like yesterday all at once.

Yesterday was twenty years since my friend Stacy died.  Although I had this post rolling around in my head and in my heart last night, I just couldn't put it to screen.

Yesterday was also Earth Day.

Twice yesterday, once in the morning and once last night, I had tears spring to my eyes unexpectedly and with no warning.

The first time it happened I chalked it up to PMS and brushed it off.

It was an hour or so later when someone on the radio mentioned Earth Day, and all at once it hit me.

It wasn't just Earth Day.  It was April 22nd.

It was the 20th anniversary of one of the worst days of my life.

I wrote about Stacy last year and included a lot of the details, here, in case you want to catch up.

Last year, for a couple of nights leading up to April 22, I dreamed about Stacy. The greatest part was the last dream in the series where Stacy and I talked, caught up, and were just friends as we had been at the beginning of our senior year.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss her; that I don't have at least a little regret about taking our friendship for granted.

I still her see her face in crowds sometimes, although I don't think I've dreamed about her recently.

At the end of the day yesterday, when I thought I was composed and had made it through the day, the tears sprang up again.  

I was just standing at the counter in the kitchen, pouring myself some water and getting ready to head to bed.  For all intents and purposes, everything was "fine."

That's why it was so weird! Like nothing I've ever experienced before! It was almost like a reminder from her at the end of the day: "Remember me."

And I do.

Not just every April 22, but when I see a sweet smile like hers.

I think of Stacy when I remember my freshman year of college.  I wonder how things might have been different had she been there with me.

I wonder how she would look today. 
If she would've gotten married.
I wonder what her kids would look like.

I think of Stacy when I pull over to rescue a turtle from the road, because that is definitely something she would have done.

I think of Stacy every time I make a new friend named Stacy.

I think of her when I see a cute, short, blond walking ahead of me in a store or  in a crowd.

It's never really a conscious thing when she pops into my mind, but it is nice to know she's always there in my memories.

I still miss you Stace!
Hope to see you again someday!

* FYI, the fact that Stacy has been gone for 20 years, also means my 20 year High School Reunion is coming up! Yikes!  
How in the world, can 20 years go by so fast?!

Don't blink, y'all, don't blink.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Springing Forth

I haven't written in a long time and I've missed my time away from this space. 

It's such a weird paradox, both wanting people to read what I write and yet freaking out when they do!

Part of me wants to be read - to be validated.  I want people to comment and interact with me.  To tell me if something I've shared was of benefit to them.

On the other hand, I started this whole process for myself, as sort of a journal.  I would never want someone I write about to be hurt or offended by something I said.

Like I said - such a strange paradox.  My journey to be more real and authentic is supposed to help me and potentially others, so I just want to make sure the opposite doesn't happen.

A very smart blogger friend told me before I started my blog, something like this: "it's easy to get caught up in the comments.  To yearn for that validation or to be hurt by criticism."

She was so right!

After I had been writing for awhile, it also became about accountability for me.
I was striving for authenticity because I feel so much like we walk around behind facades all day.  It seems often we say, "I'm fine," when really we aren't.  It seems so many issues could be easier to bear if we were honest and shared them with our friends, rather than putting on a pretty front that says we have it all together.

In fact someone said to me not to long ago, "you look so put together."
I almost fell out of my chair! It had been a long day, I was dead-tired, and certainly didn't feel "put together."

It's amazing what other people see, versus what we see, isn't it?

I've had a lot of time to think these past few weeks.

I've been sick (twice), as has my daughter, and my son also had the never-ending cold before I got it.  

I can't stand being sick; really I can't stand being anything less than 100% well.  I don't like to feel hindered.
If you don't already know, I'm a bit of a control freak by nature, so being "down and out" is just not cool!

In the meantime, though, Spring has SPRUNG in my neck of the woods.

In early March, I realized my live Christmas wreathe (well not alive anymore) was still on my front door.
When I went to take it down, I saw a nest - empty at the time - but I didn't want to move the newly built birdie home.

Good thing I didn't, because just a day or two later when I checked the nest contained 5 beautiful little blue eggs.
In a week or so, we had 5 little hatchlings! Not very attractive in my opinion, but it certainly is cute how they constantly have their mouths open for food.

And more recently, the birdies are growing, have more feathers, and are even singing in the nest each morning.  I'm pretty sure they are also learning to fly since I saw 2 birds fly away this morning when I approached the front door from inside.

And, yes, that is bird poop all over my front door!

You know, as a woman, wife, and mother, I get inspiration from other bloggers.  Some days, my spiritual cup is empty and I go read a favorite blog.  I get a real life, authentic story and scripture to go with it.

I need that!

Just like those hungry little baby birds, I think we should always be open to receiving inspiration, life lessons, and grace from other believers.

That's my hope with this blog; not that I can gain recognition but that someone might be filled by something that I share.

Not that I might be given glory, but that He would be glorified through me.