Morning prayer

Guys, yesterday was an emotionally heavy day. Not personally, but for what my clients are living. I sat in court all day and watched a woman have to relive several years of trauma as the defense attorney ruthlessly grilled her about all things irrelevant to her abuse.

Honestly, I felt physically ill listening so I can only imagine how she felt. So much swirling through my heart and head. Injustices everywhere. I had to dig deep to find empathy for all.

I wonder if the defense attorney isn’t just as guilty as the abuser. I know she’s only doing her job but her words to a victim were hateful toned, mean and accusatory. When did it become acceptable to persecute the victim?

In case my post is perceived as being tied in w recent politics, I assure you it’s not. The assaults in this case have been well documented and confirmed.

Today, if you will, say a prayer for the victims, the abusers, the bystanders and our justice system. It’s simply too much wrongness.

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Be the Love

photo credit: my beautiful daughter.

I just dropped a client off at a homeless shelter; leaving him with a prayer and a hug. I’m actually very thankful that a spot was available for him. I enjoy my clients for the most part and feel honored to connect with them. Each one of them has a story and they matter. That said, some have an extra special space in my heart and this gentleman was one of them.

No identifying information but the gist of the story…someone who has lost their family (likely to unmanaged mental illness), is in the eldest of elderly category, hasn’t eaten in days, is thankful that he will get to sleep on a cot and not lay his head on metal or cement, is in need of a shower and at least basic medical attention…that’s a good starting point.

I listened to this sweet man talking. He has been homeless for a few years and he sleeps wherever he feels safest that night. He prays to the good Lord every night and looks forward to looking up at the stars as night goes and morning comes. He was raised up in church and feels that the good Lord told him to come our office so we could help him. He feels that he is constantly being chased by someone who wants to kill him and that’s why he stays on the move. (His words) Although he is obviously weary, his eyes still have a quiet sparkle behind the sadness. I cannot imagine how exhausted and scared he is from constantly being on high alert.

My throat hurts today and I’ve had my fill of ugliness, agendas and politics on media from both sides. I have been carefully restraining my own thoughts but today I’m feeling feisty. No more. Fight on if that’s where your priorities lie.

We have to open our eyes. While we bicker, argue, right fight and fuss, there are a plethora of hurting, desperate, and lonely people. There are starving elders, disabled and mentally unwell people, children and everyone in between right in front of us. Countless needs beyond our own and every little help matters.

This man. This beautiful, precious, kind, grateful, homeless man just found a forever home in my heart. I pray will all have a little angel today to help us grow in love and understanding.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrew 13:2

Oh Alice

Recently, there must’ve been seemingly cryptic posts on my social media; truly, that wasn’t the intention.  As a result, I received two separate phone calls from two dear friends, neither of who knows the other.  One of them referred to the “I, I, I”  context of my posts and my reaction was immediate defense.  I know this friend’s beautiful heart is intent on doing the will of God and I was throwing up my walls against a lecture that perceived me in a way I wasn’t meaning. Being intently aware of this defense, I reminded myself that this friend was safe and that I could keep my heart open and listen.  I’m super thankful that I did, for as I spilled my heart out about the goings on in my life, he had great experience of his own to share and much wisdom to offer.

The second call was a precious friend who had some heartfelt observations to share with me.  First, he thought that I must be in a deeply introspective mood (true and positive), and that many of my introspections were self-deprecating.  (true and ouch).  He told me that he had never once heard me speak of the good things I was doing.  (i.e., I speak of my wonderful children, I do not speak of the wonderful mom that I am to them or the sacrifices I make to be that great mom).  I am still reflecting on this.  I like to be humble.  Even voicing that I like to be humble makes me feel like I may as well say, “Look at me!  I am soooo humble!”  That just defeats the whole purpose.  I did share with a few people recently that my grad school grades were really awesome.  I didn’t share what it took on my behalf for that to happen.

I’m still not sure about all of this.  Growing up with a constant verbalized message of, “children should be seen and not heard”, I think I have internalized that to “Sarah should be seen and not heard” in many significant ways.

Look at this!  Two friends that I trust see me ponderings through totally different lenses.  One is the “I” of me and the other is kind of the invisible “I”.  This is likely one of my favorite internal conflicts.  Shrink or stand tall?  Oh Alice.

Mosaic Masterpiece

This post doesn’t want to happen.  This post is resisting moving from head to heart in every way.  This post knows it contains some deep potential for growth.  Hands on the keyboard, my fingers tap out whatever is inside of me, initially unedited.  I am assured that this is a post that must be written.  It is difficult to know where to begin when one is spinning in a multitude of directions.  Gut, heart and brain are in the midst of great conflict and soul keeps saying, “keep going, keep going, keep going”.  The internal struggle isn’t new. What’s new, is is being able to grasp that not being exactly where I want to be is okay, I just am where I am.  Honestly, sometimes that pisses me off, but that’s all part of being where I’m supposed to be too.

A memory that I had written one year ago today popped up on my Facebook timeline.  No accidents, God’s timing deserves a mic drop, again.

“There is an adventurous 19 year old girl inside of me that really just wants to come out and play.  There is also a 45 year old wounded but wise grown up in me who speaks a tiny bit louder that that frivolous 19 year old girl.  There is always that “good girl” mentality deep in my heart, even when I am trying to drown her out.  Honestly, she’s a little ‘over-concerned’ with image.  The thing is, they’ve all been struggling and arguing and have finally decided that they can meet in the middle and explore life.  I wonder what this is going to look like?”

A year later…what does it look like? Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the past year about Sarah, the woman.  She delights in being playful, yet she craves deep connection and reverent solitude too.  She still has wounds, old and new.  The martini glass looking patch over the hole in her heart is something that makes her acutely familiar with the healing process.  She knows that sealing some old wounds with healthy protection is the best way to heal.  She sometimes forgets that this is a very rare situation, because generally, the best path to healing is to stay open, yielding and aware rather than placing a seal over a wound.  Besides, although she can’t see that martini glass patch without special examination, she still knows it is there.   She is strong, and she is fragile.

She has pieces of every experience of every age inside of her…from birth to right now, a 46 year old woman.  She is a mosaic.  She spends a good amount of time trying to figure out how all of those pieces fit together to create the masterpiece God made her to be. (This would suggest she still has trouble believing that she already is God’s masterpiece).  She still goes to that good girl mentality in an instant, especially when she is afraid she has hurt another.  She finds herself slowly transitioning more to who she was made to be and in the midst of that, she fights to separate from living as some other human created her to be.  This is one of the most difficult things she has ever done, for in separating, she could be a wound inflictor.  In her heart, she struggles to believe that she can’t hurt the dead.  She only enjoys joyful magic these days, not black magic thinking…which is exactly what that is.  When she deals with this, an image of a five year old blond girl, feeling ashamed of what she did to offend (but not sure what that was) pops into her heart.  It’s such a helpless feeling that overcomes her.  So, she is likely to try and please even those who are not worthy of her heart.  Danger zone.

She is emotionally aware of others, sometimes too much so.  She still idealizes, sometimes seeing what she wants to see rather than what is reality.  Then, when she is disappointed, it’s because she trusts she will never be good enough to have the deepest desires of her heart.  She is learning that life really does begin out of her comfort zone and that she firmly resists anyone who tries to put her in a box.  That’s a funny thing to figure out when she still wants to please.  Anais Nin once said, “I take pleasure in my transformations.  I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”  Heart affirmation.

She is building her prayer life and learning to trust God fully with her heart.  This is a process in every way.  She often asks herself how she will trust the right man with her heart if she won’t trust God with her heart.  She doesn’t know the answer; she does recognize the significance of this question.  Her prayers are very different, her tears flow freely and her laughter is genuine and without apology.  Seeking God’s heart and strengthening her faith are constant forgings; and part of this is searching deeply for her own grown-up understanding of God and the Bible.  She has come a long way from believing that God was a big guy in the sky waiting to strike her down for any minor offense, with a long way to go still.  She is learning to seek Him as Father and friend.  She has many people who have come into her lives with polar opposite thoughts on God.  She listens, she prays, and she seeks intimacy with Him above anyone’s opinion.  The conversations grow her, and hopefully grows them but in the end, she knows she wants to honor what is between she and God above all else.

She is raising her kiddos and absorbing hard truths.  As caller number two pointed out, those kiddos are pretty much raised and she can’t go back and change what she may have broken.  She can only do better with what she knows.  She loves them fiercely and wants to be enough, and she often feels insufficient to do this job without their father in the house.  This is tough.  She enjoys (usually) dating and is wary of how any man would impact the lives of her children.  She also knows that coming from a beautifully blended family that the good possibilities are beyond her imagination, she reminds herself that her fairytale dream is not going to happen, ever.  She wonders how she can reframe her fairytale.  Speaking of dating, she investigates her gravitations in this area with fierce curiosity.  She notices that if there were a scale with a man on each end and one in the middle, she drifts toward the middle.

Man on the left talks about men who are Godly leaders are but doesn’t live that way, the only place he is giving is in bed, is manipulative, super smart in a ‘take note of everything so I can use it against her’ way, selfish, temperamental, impulsive, bad boy imaged, gas lights, lashes out, lies, is not faithful, treats her less than and is still yummy smelling and gives great kisses and hugs.  She knows he is not good for her in any way, but this tells herself this must be how love really is.  After all, it is volatile just like her grandparents were.  There’s no inbetween, its either on or off but she holds all the power to heal him, to heal them.  This makes her feel validated and important.  She has someone or something to save.  She is someone else with this man.  She is wild and passionate in the beginning and then she is broken.

The  man in the middle….he smells fabulous, usually hot, gives great kisses and hugs, sweet, gentle, kind of smart but not really a deep conversationalist, wants to be pursued, drops bread crumbs but just not ready or not wanting to be with her…does want her as a back up just in case.  Whew!  She wants him badly, he is likely not going to happen but she spends way too much time fawning over him and feeling a false sense of relief every time he calls or texts.  She knows he is unavailable, either emotionally, spiritually or in some manner and she chooses to believe that he is ‘good enough’ because she never will be fully worthy of man on the right.  This man gets her very best, she pulls out all the stops to keep him engaged.  She works harder for his attention than he ever will for hers.

Man on the right is strikingly handsome to her, good, kind, tender, wise, compassionate, loving, funny, Godly. smells delicious, gives great hugs and kisses and wants her best; even above his own.  He is intelligent, witty, and has big hands that are gentle.  He is trustworthy, holds her heart in his hands with care and has eyes only for her.   Their souls know each other, he is beyond what she has dreamed.  He might even be special enough to meet her family, friends and fur babies.  She considers him fondly and worries that he is too good to be real. All at once, she is afraid and she is intrigued.  She is cautious and inquisitive about the extraordinary pull she feels toward him.  She does not know how to recieve or whether to trust his kindness, so with every fiber of her being she focuses on the present moment and not on the what if’s.  A new kind of hard.

In each of these scenarios, she is torn.  She doesn’t know who to trust and ultimately, it’s herself that she doesn’t trust.  She knows.  She is working hard to trust.  She is trying hard to own her story while believing that she is worthy of the best God could bring.  She likes to refer to the hard things in life being much like a bear hunt, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it…guess you gotta go through it.”    She has a beautiful imagination and in her relationships can use this to create unreal scenarios or to destroy something before it happens.  She has a protective reason for this.  Control prevents chaos and for someone who grew up with emotional chaos, creating safety in this manner is the logical, albeit not always healthy, thing to do.

She is definitely  work in progress, in every area.  This is okay.  She shares openly many of her thoughts, but there are still many secrets inside of her.  They aren’t intentional secrets, but precious things that she doesn’t want to give away to the world for their dissection and judgement.  Some things are meant to be precious gifts from God in her own heart. She doesn’t want to risk those things being torn apart because they are part of what pieces her together.

There she is…one year later.  Lots of life to live, tons of growing to do and more contentment than she remembers feeling in forever.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6

I didn’t mean it like that…

I made a Facebook post today, and yesterday. A few misconstrued itbto be in regard to current situations with law officials or as a political agenda. Truly, it was neither.

My post was about our rape culture as a society. We have to do something drastic, different and immediate. Here’s what I wrote:

Listen up….I removed my post about rape culture yesterday. I removed it for one reason only….I could not have it be seen as a political move on my part, for it certainly was not. I did not want my feelings about rape culture to become an opportunity for personal political agendas or to encourage divisiveness among any party. I didn’t even notice that those quoted were Republicans, I didn’t care who they were. If you know my heart, you know that unless it’s in a field I am truly educated about, I steer clear of politics. I cared about what they said and understanding if it was in context. I care about the impact this culture has on myself, my clients, my children, my children’s children and so on.

.”Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.[1][2] Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these.[3][4] .”…Wikipedia

That said, do your research, please, please, please. I am a person who tends to sprinkle magic (aka idealization, denial, etc) in my thought processes. I want to believe the best of people and I use my magic to make people and our world the person or place that is a better version. This can be delightful and it can be a danger. In this case, the facts are ugly.

In working with victims of abuse and with sexual assault victims, I promise you the rape culture is real and pervasive. When we have 14 year old girls who are the victim of a violent rape being shamed on the stand by attorneys and even judges, this is rape culture. When we have a teen boy who is molested by a youth minister and we have the youth minister sent to another state and the situation swept under the rug to protect the church reputation, this is rape culture. When a highschooler is cornered in a stairwell at school by a star basketball player, and has her breasts and genitals groped (although she clearly says no) as video evidenced, and nothing happens to him but a few days in detention bc he would miss a game…this is rape culture. When a transgender person is at high risk for abuse/rape and it is said that they are a freak and what did they expect…this is rape culture.

Do I believe that we should base an entire person’s reputation on one thing said that we don’t even know if it’s in context? No. I am saying research and understand rather than turn a blind eye. Do I believe we should forgive when we can? YES, forgiveness is a gift to our heart and the person we forgive may never even want our forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t obliterate consequence. I’m just saying love your neighbor, open your eyes and see reality. Please. I want a different world for my own babies and for yours too.

A little upside down day

Last night, I cooked a cheese pizza with the cheese side down. Not cool. Then, as I shook my cream for my morning coffee, I discovered the lid was not on. Creamer went everywhere…the dogs were grateful. I heard a strange noise in the bathroom and it was Maple literally eating the straps from my favorite bra. Ugh! My sleep last night was short (although worth the conversation I was having) and I put a multitude of outfits on before finding acceptable work attire today. I was pleased that Riverside was all the way open so I actually arrived at work early.
 
As I walked through the security scanner in the courthouse , I considered the fact that I have such a purpose going in there. I am going to advocate for a client and hold their hand (figuratively) through the process. It feels good to go in and know that I am going to hopefully shine a little perspective, hope and light where there is fear, anxiety and sadness. The problem is, I felt a bit melancholy myself this morning and just tired/achy. This means it was a little bit of a fake it until I make it game because this is my job, and my clients need me to do my job and do it well.
 
I was supposed to meet with three different people who all had the same court time. It turned out that only one of them showed up and I was secretly thankful, she needed the one on one attention desperately. She was freaked out, and I would’ve been freaked out too. The anxiety I had been feeling, and even called Traci Howell on my way to work to tell of, disappeared quickly in the midst of my client’s tears.
 
In deep thought, tired and slightly discouraged after court, I went back to my ho-hum feelings. My sweet Sharon Denise Harris was overwhelmed with lots of little babies in the nursery. She loves them dearly, but we all know what happens when one baby cries…it’s a crying orchestra! I went in and this is where I have spent a good portion of my day. My shirt is soaked in baby slobber and formula and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Babies are the best, best, best medicine for my heart.
 
This afternoon, I’ll be enjoying a massage that the kids got me for Mother’s Day. I’m apologizing profusely to the masseuse, as I forgot this appointment this morning and did not shave my legs. It’s just stubble, but whatever, lol! I’m so looking forward to this pampering, as I said, I just feel achy and tired. I have a good amount of homework and grown up things to do, yet there is this 4 year old inside of me screaming, “I don’t wanna!”  I’m just a little upside down today.
 
So…feel free to pray and send me your positive juju. XO and Happy Tuesday!

The Sweetest Family I Know

My Momma, kids and I arrived home about an hour ago from a delightful little overnight getaway to Branson.  (Side note…I LOVE Missouri~.)  We were there for the specific purpose of celebrating one of my nephews who is doing incredibly hard work in his life.  He was able to be away from his temporary home for a few days, it was a lovely reason for us to get together.  Only about 1/2 of our big family was there, I look forward to the day we can all revisit at once.  That seems to be a rarity with the busy-ness of every day life and I am thankful for every bit of time we have to join each other.

This morning was perfect for sitting on the porch, sipping coffee and soaking in the gratitude.  The family we are is the real Brady Bunch..a living conglomerate of love.  We know how to throw a good, old fashioned, fun party!  There will be hugs and squeals, yummy food, laughter, tears, often music with dancing and always memory making.  We know how to connect with each other and within generations.

It might be conversations over coffee in red rocking chairs and barstools on a glassed in porch with a beautiful view.  There will be cooking together in the big, open kitchen and yelling at football players on tv for some.  Several are likely gathered around a table eating a meal or playing Farkle, Dominoes or even Candy Land.  The Air Hockey Table, pool table, Pac Man arcade game or Pinball machine make for excellent, friendly competition.  Snuggling up anywhere and swapping secrets and hanging out in a hot tub until skin is itchy and cheeks are flushed….all excellent opportunities to bond.  Wherever and however the connection happened this weekend, gratitude for this enveloping love overwhelmed me.

Chatter about sports, how healthy and fat the robins in Branson are, comfy pillows and beds, how awesome the hot tub is, where we will hike (and if we really want to hike), that the smell of our girls strawberry smelling hair is wonderful and even the teen boys sweat is somehow sweet to us, how much we’d love to come here again…all of this and more was discussed.  We share beloved memories, our sorrows, our joys, our struggles and worries.  We rejoice in our love for one another, cousin camaraderie, sweet remembrances, a glorious God who loves us, kindredness, peace, redemption and stages of life.  We share wisdom and adventures in school, love, dating, and life experiences. We are simple, we are complex.  We are real and back to the basics awesome.  There is a sense of celebration, abundant love, vulnerability, and safety that coexists in our chaos. We are a unique gift never to be taken for granted.

A year or two ago, these occasions made me incredibly sad.  I no longer had a husband who had a shared history with me and this family.  Our Daddy was no longer physically present.  I grieved, and grieved, and grieved some more.  Something inside of me has healed though, and where there was only grief, there are now cherished memories.  The shared story of my beautiful family (the one we are still writing)  continues to heal my heart.

I thought about the words that describe our family (those who were there this weekend and those who weren’t)….ALL OF US….I was only going to write a few but my list kept growing.  In our family, there is…

grace, joy, fun, redemption, respect, camaraderie, conversations, soulful connection, God, familiarity, safety, understanding, empathy, true connection, sacredness, board game playing, friendly competitiveness, creativity, sweetness, yummy food, celebration, music, dancing, laughter, tears, reflection, honesty, hope, truth, togetherness, reverence, delight, appreciation, gratitude, openness, trustworthiness, acceptance, tradition of love, late night delirium and early morning adventures, love, seeking, reaching, growing, stories, memories, teasing, playfulness, organized spontaneity, real emotion, gentleness, judgement free, wisdom, energy, learning, fondness and HOME.

THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME.  So thankful.

46 Reasons

This last week has been fabulously filled with new life adventures, and I have enjoyed every single moment.  Here are 46 reasons why:

  1. Last Sunday, I went to church.  I may have been feeling just a little bit lonely’ish.  A dear friend was a few rows away with her beautiful children and a friend; instead of sitting by myself, I sat with my friend and her family.  This just made the service/worship so much sweeter.
  2. Later that day, I met a new friend for coffee.  We had a deeply rich, spiritual conversation that seemed to be the beginning of chipping away at a few of my soul’s survival tactics that really do not serve me well anymore.  I had found a little bag of my Grandma’s Catholic books and it was so incredible to be able to share them with a friend who appreciated them….not planned but incredible.
  3. I feel like my spirit has been napping and I’m waking up to the vibrancy of my being.  It’s just in the air or something…a new (or renewed?) energy
  4. It was a week of fun selfies and spectacular quotes.  One of my favorite is worth sharing here…”If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving.  Otherwise, it’s just, ‘Congratulations about your face.'”  This is the best!!!
  5. On that topic, I have noticed that we as a society can be very mocking and critical of selfie taking.  I say just let people be.  I can only speak for me, but taking selfies after the divorce was a huge stretch for me…it always felt like part of the picture was missing.  Now, I take them not because I am vain…usually because I feel silly, or contemplative, or whatever I feel and this is a way to share it.  So…this week I took a selfie nearly every day and shared it.  Why?  Because it was a lovely week and I chose to share my journey in this way…the end.
  6. Tuesday, I got to work on homework….I did this all week.  It was supposed to be stormy on all the days ending in Y, but that didn’t quite happen.  When it got down to the wire though, it rained…this meant more focus on my paper.  (Don’t ask, I’m just quirky like that!)
  7. Also Tuesday, I made another lovely friend and had a wonderful evening.  All I’m going to say is this…it’s socially awkward when one is on a date, and while on that date, runs into someone they’ve also been dating (not secretly) with their date.  Think that over.
  8. On Wednesday evening, (my actual birthday), I said bon voyage to 45 bonjour to 46! My precious momma and kids took me out to dinner.  Not one of them complained that I chose sushi and we had a fabulous time together.  I am extraordinarily blessed to have gotten that time with the woman who gave me life and the children that I gave life to.
  9. Also on Wednesday, my Facebook wall, text messages and phone calls were inundated with loving birthday messages.  Maybe I’m more like a child on birthdays, but I believe we ALL deserve special love on the day of our birth….find more reasons to celebrate…life is a celebration when you live in gratitude!
  10. I went to the chapel at St. Bernard’s…where my Grandma went to church.  I spent an hour praying, being still, looking around, thinking, and praying some more.  I was relieved that the toenails on Mary’s feet were not painted and were very real looking.  I left with something…I felt like God was letting me know that my openness was a gift, and at the same time asking where I needed closure.  Suffice it to say, there is an entire post to be written about this experience.
  11. The bestest part of my birthday was finding the video of my Momma and Daddy singing me the happy birthday song together.  Daddy was starting to struggle with his memory then, and that memory popping up made my heart incredibly happy.  I think I watched it 100 times throughout my day.
  12. I got flowers on my birthday.  Because my friend loves me and she knows that flowers fill me with joy.  I didn’t expect flowers, but she remembered.  It’s a gift to have a friend who remembers you like this.
  13. Thursday was a busy day at work, and I was reminded through my clients how very fortunate I am to have a home, clothing, food, pets, mostly happy and healthy children, air conditioning, blankets, a toothbrush and not a consistent fear for my safety.  Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
  14. Very good company Thursday night and another birthday dinner.  And…I saw the movie CLUE.  No, of course I didn’t doze off during the movie!
  15. Friday, I took 1/2 a day off work…thank God for a flexible job!   I finished a paper I’d been putting off for way too long, it really wasn’t so bad once I sat still.  Good thing since the paper was due in class that evening.
  16. Friday was the one year anniversary of our divorce.  I didn’t feel broken, ashamed, weary, hopeless and defeated.  I actually felt just the opposite.  I’m coming together, content, peaceful, hopeful and anticipatory.  I’m human so sometimes I struggle, yet this is authentic healing.
  17. Saturday was lovely.  It began early as I awoke listening to my brother sing loudly and cheerfully from the other room.  It was an awesome way to wake up and get ready for a day of class!
  18. My dear brother and friend joined our class Saturday afternoon.  So did one of my classmate/friend’s gorgeous wife.  It was absolutely fun to have their interaction for our discussion and I believe every weekend class should entail some sort of bring a guest show and tell!
  19. After class meant a drink or two with the above mentioned gentlemen and lively discussions!  That was awesome and I think I have now tried every flavor of Moscow Mule at PJ’s except for the one with whiskey…because whiskey is ewww to me.
  20. I had the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with my baby daddy.  (The wonderful man who I was with for 23 years).  I wanted to apologize to him for things I had done in our marriage that I just needed to take ownership for.  It would’ve been easy to continue to let him own it all, but this honesty is part of my continued healing and hopefully his as well.  I wish everyone had this chance.  Say what you need to say.  Forgiveness.  Compassion.  It all lets us move forward in grace.  If it’s not possible to share with the person, write it out and burn it…do what you need to do to heal…it’s worth it.
  21. Saturday night…topped with a warm bath, clean sheets, a great book and a glass of wine…had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
  22. Sunday began with a yummy breakfast cooked for me by my brother…and coffee…of course, coffee.  I sat on the porch and enjoyed this, read my Bible and enjoyed the magnificent morning.
  23. So…I read all of Corinthians 1 again, beautiful.  In my deep conversations with my new friend, I have felt a bit challenged.  Not in a bad way…in an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of way.  I know my faith is strong.  I am sure of my salvation.  I understand and have many biblical stories and scriptures stored in my heart.  In my quest to grow closer to God, I think it worthwhile to examine my foundational beliefs so I can better explain to others where I come from.  This is absolutely not the same as wanting to right fight and defend.  I want to understand more deeply all of the Bible…in context, not just here and there, for myself more than for anything.
  24. I had an especially sweet afternoon with a handsome, poetic hearted friend.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
  25. Tonight was coffee and a long overdue conversation with someone I love very much.  It was time to hear each other’s hearts so we could just move forward.  I thank God for these moments.
  26. This birthday week has been overflowing with new adventures and healing of old wounds.  In earlier blogs I’ve discussed my love of the words synchronicity and serendipity.  I still love them.  Even more, I love watching them in action.
  27. It’s been a deeply contemplative, prayerful week filled with thought-provoking discussions and earnest seeking.  These things are important to me, so I am thankful for each of these experiences.
  28. My children have been extra peaceful.  I don’t know why, I’m not going to try to explain.  I am intensely thankful for these moments though.
  29. Watching my daughter ice-skate and seeing her joy after she’s learned a new maneuver…priceless.  It was her daddy’s turn to take her this week but he sent me a video.  She wows me.
  30. Seeing the twinkle in my son’s eyes this week, even for a fleeting moment, makes my Momma heart happy.
  31. I have lost 20.3 pounds.  My next size down clothes are beginning to fall off of me.  I might not love that I had to change bra sizes but I do love my mostly steady energy and the way my body is changing.
  32. I see that while I am opening myself to new experiences, I am beginning to find healthy vulnerability again in areas that I had chosen previously kept  walled off.  I’m relieved that this is happening.
  33. I have set boundaries where before I would’ve not done so.  Sometimes, it really is less about fulfilling others expectations and more about taking care of myself.  This especially applies to my journey in dating. Stating my boundaries clearly and expecting that they be honored is just as new as dating.  This is all fresh territory.
  34. Staying in touch with new, new/old, old friends is a gift.  Remember, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold?”  Yes.  Do that.
  35. I look in the mirror and sometimes I look tired.  I see more wrinkles than I used to. I see a belly that housed two healthy, glorious babies.   Guess what else I see?  I see a woman who is lovely and becoming more at peace with herself as time passes.  I see the heart of a child and the strength of a woman.  I see God’s princess.  I see someone who is worthy of goodness.
  36. I have laughed, cried and enjoyed myself this last week more than I have in so long.  I’m not sure why.  Whatever….I’m grateful.
  37. I turned down a fabulous internship opportunity because I knew it would not be the best for my family.  Doing the right thing isn’t always fun.  There will be an even better opportunity, this I know.
  38. I ate cheesecake on my birthday…tempura battered cheesecake with cream and strawberries.  I haven’t had anything like this since April.  Oh my goodness, life is short and enjoying dessert is a luxurious treat!
  39. My puppies, my kitty and even that little lizard make me smile.  God is so cool to even provide us with these little muffinheads….just makes me think how much He loves us to give us these kinds of enjoyments.
  40. I got myself a couple of new books for my birthday.  I don’t buy myself things often and most of my reading time is spent on school books…but I’m so excited to read something purely for pleasure.
  41. My house is an absolute mess.  Parts of it feel like they are literally crumbling under my feet.  (Literally, it’s kind of happening like that).  It’s gonna be okay.  I don’t know how but I know it is.  Trusting the process.  Praying hard!  Remembering, I have a home.
  42. My coffee was paid for twice this week by random strangers.  How’s that for a birthday treat?
  43. Baby tomatoes are still growing on my vines.  I was shaking one of the plants one morning…to shake the pollen down.  Although I was gentle, a little baby fell off the vine and I felt so sad.  So…I buried it.  If I were that baby tomato I’d just use my seeds to make another vine and I’d grow taller and stronger than the original vine.  However, I’m not the tomato, I guess we will see what happens next!
  44. I’ve found lots of new music to enjoy on Spotify this week, I once forgot the love of music that I have.  Like…how do people ever live without music?  TV, I understand but music has to be.
  45. Stella and I came up with a grand book idea…maybe we can make it happen.  That’s pretty hopeful!
  46. I learned that sometimes, you just gotta spill the tea, sis!

It’s just been the best birthday week ever and my cup overflows.  The kindnesses bestowed on me are astonishing and I hope I give back well all that I receive.

Grace.  Peace.  Joy.  Mercy. Compassion.

Continue reading “46 Reasons”

Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.    Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?   It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?  The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.  Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story.  If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result.  The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh­bor came run­ning over and said, “This is good news! Such good for­tune! You are rich, this is amaz­ing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro­ken. The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Yes! This is won­der­ful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?  There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news.  The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.  Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.  My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.  At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.  My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.  Another  consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa.  Again, who knows?  Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.  Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently,  truly believing it’s there?  It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?  Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future?  The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?  Why or why not?  Where did I learn them?  Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.  I don’t have answers.  I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.  I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.  I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.  Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire.  I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.  I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to  Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.  I  cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.  There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1.  Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?  Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.  I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.  I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.  They also make me think outside of my box.  In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.  I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value.  I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?  This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!  It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.  It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.  Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?  My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.  Time to let that illusion go.  Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.  One is not better than the other.  I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,  a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.  Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?  Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.  Is that going to happen ever?  Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.  Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.  The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?  Who knows.  Maybe that’s not the question.

Life

There are occasions that I wish I could go back with my magic wand to erase certain points in time; there are other times that I’d like to go back and sprinkle more pixie dust where I previously restrained myself from doing so.  As this post-divorce journey complete with the roller coaster of grief, healing and transformation progress, I am still at times surprised by my own strong emotional reactions.

My beloved Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.”  There is intense applicable truth for me in this quote.  Recently, I was retelling my precious Mother something I had done that left me full of regret and shame.  She replied with, “Sarah Ann!  That doesn’t even sound like you!”  (She’s right, I know).  In other instances, I have found myself jumping quicker into aspects of a relationship that I ‘normally’ would think to hold much more stringent boundaries around.  This time, I scold myself…”Sarah!  Gaaaa…this isn’t even you!”  Hmmmm…is it not me or is it the me I have always restrained?

A dear friend mentioned “this version of me” in a conversation about this very topic.  Initially, this was a struggle to understand.  How can I be authentic and still a very different version of myself…what is real?  We are always changing, ever evolving, consistently transforming, right?  It seems the harder we resist change, the stronger change overtakes us.  I guess it’s all about riding the wave but why is that so much easier to preach than to practice?

In the ongoing self study I am doing, there are absolutely new aspects of me that are emerging.  I’ve decided that there is far more value in embracing and accepting myself than there is in trying to discern whether the aspects are truly new or just now being allowed to be present.  In the multitude of errors I’ve been making, there are lessons (albeit painful), there is growth, and mostly…there is grace.  I have to talk myself into the last one though.

HUGE valuable lessons I’ve received lately, they’ve been hard but in light of trusting the process and enjoying the journey, I’m doing the best I can to take accountability, apologize and move forward.  There’s always that inner voice telling me to make things right for everyone else and it’s exhausting.  One thing at a time, right?

  • Sexual intimacy…no matter what I tell myself…changes the emotional attachment dynamic.  When sexual intimacy occurs too early,  it can decrease brain power and increase ideation….thus elevating the chances that inappropriate emotional reactivity will occur.  Ugh.
  • People will judge behaviors.  Only God and I get to decide the best actions, thoughts and behaviors for me.  Feedback is always appreciated and weighed carefully, but in the end, the one who will confront my inner conflict is me.  So…thank you for caring enough to share, I promise to weigh it carefully.  🙂
  • Dating is an adventure.  There are friends to be made, things to learn about others and myself and tons of value in this season…but I still miss my family as it was and that is okay.  Grief for a loss and celebration of new can absolutely walk hand in hand.
  • Due to a chaotic childhood, I tend toward the ‘what if’s’ and control.  Not control to control; rather to keep my world feeling safe.  Not everyone (actually no one) is super appreciative of that…including me.  Rather than constantly worrying about creating safety through control, I’m changing my definition of safety and remembering my God, who has me in His hands…that’s really the only safety assurance I need.  (coming to terms…a process!)
  • Just because I have a great imagination and may have determined exactly how something will play out does not make my determination accurate.  As a matter of fact, following my imaginary scenario results in the aforementioned emotional reactivity which I strongly desire to move away from.
  • I may have missed a few spectacular opportunities because of my own reactivity.  I have embraced the icky lessons, asked forgiveness (from myself too), defined what I can do different next time and moved on with grace.  I still hate myself a little bit for it though.
  • Unrelated….the stroke has less power over me than it once did but still too much power.  Working on that.  Trying to replace my fear with constant faith and gratitude.  Keeping my eyes and heart open…I am incredibly blessed and I know it.

“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” – Anais Nin  It is remarkable what I have learned through the errors that are ‘so unlike me’.

 

Grateful in all things.