T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G

Happiest Thanksgiving everyone! As I was mixing my banana pudding ingredients this morning, one of my beaters broke in half and flew across the room…no joke. That is such a mirror to my life right now…things that aren’t supposed to (according to my plans) are unexpectedly flying apart. I can’t help but continue to giggle at the irony of life. My siblings, Momma and I all shared a Happy Thanksgiving love you text this morning and my Momma added…”There’s not an ugly one in the bunch!” My heart smiled so big…this is what my Daddy always said. My heart feels his physical absence super strong this particular holiday season. I have a dear friend in the hospital, two parents I read about just lost their son, my own heart is struggling and I just want my Daddy to hold me tight and let me know everything is going to be alright. So…as I sit in my warm home waiting for the sweet potatoes to be done baking, I sit and write and cry some big ole tears. I contemplate all that I am grateful for. I’m contemplating gratitude not to distract myself from the hurt but to remind myself of the joy in the journey. Again, pain and joy coincide. My God who loves me bigger, wider and deeper than I can comprehend and the faith I have that he is tangible and real in my life, and holds me as I cry. I hurt, but I am certain I am not a Fatherless child in any way. John and Stella and their sweet Daddy, Nathan. They are the hearts that exist outside of my body and within my own heart always. Looking at them consistently reminds me that I’m not in control, even of ‘my’ most prized and cherished treasures. They stretch me in every way, challenge me to be my best and if ever I forget gratitude, I need to do no more than remember I thought a child would never come from my own body. My family. There really isn’t an ugly one in the bunch. I’m talking the inside and the outside. The hearts in this bunch are gloriously beautiful, extravagantly loving and the best shelter a girl could ever have. My friends. We wrap each other in encouragement and love and sometimes we annoy the crap out of each other. Wouldn’t want to do life without them. Healing hearts. The journey of life. Letting go of my attachment to the outcome and learning to just trust the process. Seriously. Christmas music, cooking, warm toes, yummy smelling candles, new experiences, coffee, fur babies, poetry, writing, the ability to contemplate and choose, growth, openness, trust, laughter and tears, prayer, the knowing that despite all of our differences, we are all the same, worship, compassion, tenderness, kissing, kissing, kissing, hugs, kissing, love, snuggles, opportunities, crispy fall leaves (especially heart shaped ones), walking in the sunshine, rainy days, catching snowflakes on my tongue, being a woman and enjoying my feminine self, tolerance, perspective, pennies from Heaven, baby goats, chickens, the bestest cohort ever in the whole wide world, lipstick, perfume, learning that presence is really is the most significant present, connection, conversations, the gift of angels unaware……I could go on for eons. Strange that my heart is so much more peaceful than it was 20 minutes ago. I am held, always, no matter what. So are you. Somehow, everything is going to be alright. No matter where you are in life right now, I pray that peace , hope, health and joy encompass you in the most unexpected ways. Happiest Thanksgiving dear ones.

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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

Grief

I recently read that the best cure for grief was to grieve.  Duh, sounds simple enough.  No big deal until one just feels weary of grieving.  The grief “process”; it’s flabbergasting.  It’s an exhausting, painful, crushing, hard to breathe process and every time your get your head above the waves to catch a breath, the wave crashes over you once more, and you are drowning.  Again.

It’s a lump in the throat that says, “don’t speak” or the torrent of tears will come, but what choice is there?  Swallow the bitter bile down into your seemingly empty soul?  It’s the endlessly sour tummy that won’t go away no matter how many Tums are downed or how cautious the diet is.  It’s the tightness across the back that burns and is only alleviated by deep pressure; because the pressure reminds us that we are alive.  It’s the clenched jaw accompanied by tense neck muscles that are holding the world in place and the twitching eyelid that is imagined to be the worst kind of tumor in the anxious, exhausted mind.

It’s joyful laughter when a certain scent, song, memory…anything comes to surface…but then it is followed by an unsolicited, salty rain…running down soft cheeks without warning.  It is the penetrating sense of emptiness that ravishes the soul and the nightmare that haunts in the daytime.  Grief is the reminder of loss….over, and over and over again.  It is said that time heals all wounds.  I find this to be an intricately woven unreality that was designed to protect hearts from further pain.

Grief is obviously front and center in my world today and the effect is snowballing.   I am hurting for people that I love dearly because they lost a man precious to them.  He was a father, a son, a once in a lifetime dream love, a friend, a brother, an Uncle, not- simply…an honorable man who lived to make others smile.  I hurt for my niece and nephew who have never experienced this kind of loss before.  The first time with grief is unlike anything , the last and the middle griefs are no better.

Heartache.  Loss.  Tears.  Unutterable prayers. Pain.  In all of it, the healing has begun, I think.  Maybe the healing begins the minute we even connect and the pain of loss reminds us just how important love and each moment are.  It doesn’t matter right now though, right now is not celebration…right now just hurts.

I cry for their losses.  I cry for my losses.  I cringe at the thoughts running through my mind.  I wish I had a grief formula to follow.  Do blah blah blah and then do yada yada yada and in a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months, everything will be okay.  Getting to the point of celebrating what was before the loss will come but your life has been forever changed.  My life has been forever changed.  This is truth and for now, I’m kinda tired of grief and all that accompanies it.

Shadow Dance

My internal world has been filled with an abundance of “AHEM” moments today.  AHEM moments don’t feel like the progress I like to feel after I’ve done the hard work of processing; they have yet to lead me to any “AHA” moments; and honestly, those are usually my goal.  AHEM moments are more like scathing, scary, scolding, self scuffling conversations that go on constantly between my head and my heart.  These moments are anxiety provoking…the kind of anxiety where although I continue to be productive and sufficiently distracted with work, there is the constant gnawing in my belly, the lump in my throat and the uptight breathing that accompanies the tense certainty that everything cannot be as okay as it seems.  I went through my day, doing the business of living and forgetting to find my place of surrender, my calm center, my joy…I just go and go and go as fast as I can.  No matter how much I do or how amazingly efficient I am, the chatter in the background will.not.stop!  That’s my day today.

Writing, praying, reflecting and sharing are healing for me, and I know there is something deep inside of me in need of healing as I write this or my heart wouldn’t be so overflowing with trepidation in this moment.  Selfishly, I’m ‘getting it out’ in hopes of being rewarded with peace.  Altruistically speaking, I hope the reader gleams some sort of self awareness from reading.

  • I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do something totally out of character for me…I think.  As I ponder my actions more, I consider the possibility that this was absolutely something within my character but something I’ve never felt the freedom to do.
  • I had a hard and precious conversation with my ex husband today (I still feel as if I am speaking of someone else when I say those words…I’m working on owning them).  We are at a place of peace and we are able to ask questions of one another, this is beautiful but does not make the answers easier to bear.
  • I have had to distance myself from someone precious in my life in order to guard my own heart.  Boundary setting sucks.
  • It is less than a month away from the 9th anniversary of the stroke and just a few days away from what would be our 19th wedding anniversary.  My soul reverberates the echoes of what my mind wants nothing to do with.
  • I’ve been playing Words with Friends when I need a little break.  One of the men I have been playing with invited me to download an app on my phone today so we could ‘talk naughty’ to each other.  (I don’t know him, he is a ‘random’ stranger from the game).  I don’t really believe in random and after I found out his story, my belief that there are no accidents has been confirmed.  He is married and wanted to be honest with me, but felt that ‘talking dirty’ wasn’t a big deal.  He asked if I thought it was and I let him know that I guess that depended on where your personal boundaries were and that mine would not permit me to engage in these conversations with a married man.  We talked further, I shared with him my heart on the matter and my own story.  I encouraged him to find out what was missing within himself or his marriage and not go down this road, no matter how innocent the intentions were.  I don’t know what he will do, but I pray that our ‘meeting’ was of value to his heart.
  • We celebrated my beautiful sister Beth’s 60th birthday this weekend.  I have no words sufficient to describe the fullness in my heart that the love within my family provides to me.  No words.  No matter how many years go by, when I am naming my siblings, I always feel like I leave one out.  It’s my big brother Brent and he definitely left an empty space.  I celebrate his life in partiality by always ‘counting him in’.  My Daddy would’ve loved the party thrown for Beth, and he would’ve been immensely proud of all of us.  I miss him so.
  • I have haunting background thoughts that tell me I will never be the object of a worthy man’s love, that having extra pounds makes me less than valuable,  that I will get Alzheimers and not have enough money to have good care, that I won’t fulfill my purpose before I die….all of these crappy lies that won’t go away.  I don’t actually know if they are truth or lies, I do know that I am living my purpose right here and now, that I will have everything I need when I need it and that God’s plan is much better than my own.  I KNOW these things deep down but when the shouting between my head and heart gets louder than my knowing, I forget my truth.

So here I am….dancing with my shadows but the shadows mean that there is light, so I know I am okay.  That’s an AHA moment and the only one I really need right now.

 

Be blessed,

Sarah