This Day is a Gift

I was in the laundry aisle of Target tonight when the loud screaming of a young child became audible. It was a pitiful sound that made my Momma heart ache; and I immediately began to search out where the noise was originating. It didn’t take but a moment to locate this maybe two year old because of the scene her own Mom was making in the store.

I’m going to attempt to paint the scene of what happened, in an earnest attempt to get across the deep helplessness I felt. This mom was repeatedly squeezing her child’s legs, hard. She would tower over the child (who was buckled into the cart) and yell, “You don’t EVER tell Mommy no, EVER, when I get home I am going to spank you again and again and again!” This child was literally shrinking back and down as far as she could into the cart as tears and snot ran down her face. Granted, I do realize we all parent different yet I am in the practice of respecting and accepting the cultures, belief systems and lifestyles of all people. However, this woman was bordering on abuse. My heart hurt for that little baby as she shrunk back. Everyone around this woman would look at her, then we’d look at each other. There were shrugs, head shakes, even conversations about what to do, but no one (myself included) knew the answer. It was the epitome of social discomfort.

I kept following the woman, at a safe distance. She continued to scream at her child as she walked up and down aisles, she took time every few minutes to text someone. It felt like she was trying to draw attention to herself. She was very well dressed, extremely loud and seemed to put nothing in her cart. The final straw was when I made a moment of eye contact with the little girl which was broken when her mom said, “You know better than to behave like this, you ought be ashamed!” That whole shame phrase cuts me deep. There was an older woman next to me and we made eye contact. She said, “what can you do, I don’t know what to do?” I replied that I didn’t know either.

I knew that I had to do something, I had no idea what. I felt a little afraid that whatever I did, it wouldn’t fare well for this baby girl. I didn’t want this woman to feel judged but I did want her to stop and think. I was praying super hard. I approached the woman and child from behind…”Mam, Mam” No response so I got a little braver and tapped her gently on the arm with a firm, “excuse me, mam” That got her attention.

Me: “I notice you seem a little bit stressed, I wondered if there is anything I can do to help.”

Her: “No, thank you. She (points at child) knows better than to act like this”.

Me: “Gosh, she sure is beautiful with those big brown eyes. How old is she?”

Her: “She just turned two and she knows better than to cry like this.”

Me: “Ah, two is such a tough age, she’s doing just what is developmentally appropriate, but it’s sure hard. What’s her name?”

Her: “Her name is Lilliana (not her real name).

Me: “I love her name!” (I’m talking to child trying to speak soothingly and hoping mom sees that this gets good results bc screaming has turned into hiccup cries} “Thanks so much for stopping and letting me talk, I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to talk to little ones, I miss that age so much.”

Her: Gets a call and waves at me as she exits the store and Lilliana resumes crying.

I wonder what happened as they left that store. I wonder why it didn’t occur to that Momma to pick up her distraught child and love on her. I wonder who didn’t teach her to do that. I am not judging, please know that. I have had (still have) endless hard days with my kiddos where I have reacted rather than responded and I have behaved ugly on more occasions than I care to mention. Something about this just bothered me, deep into my soul.

I don’t know if it’s because a precious family that I love lost their child to cancer today or if it’s because my own precious children are fighting huge battles of their own right now, this just hurt.

I hadn’t planned on leaving a little piece of my heart at Target, but leave a little piece of my heart I did. I’m praying for that baby girl and her Momma tonight that they can connect and that nurturing, peace and love will override all else. I wish I could share this little image of this day being a gift with them.

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

 

 

 

Compilation

  1. So much going on and it all eventually becomes just another life compilation.   My precious sky blue eyed son turns 16 today.  SIXTEEN!  This means that I will be 45 just a day over a week and my beautiful daughter is 6 months away from being a teenager.  I can barely fathom how fast time truly does fly. 11, 12, 14, 15, 43 and 44  have  been sorta hard on all of us, respectively speaking.

I’m not looking for easy, I’m too much of a realist for that.  I am hopeful that the deep inventory I continue to take of myself is not a futile effort and that there is great goodness in what I find.  I am still searching for freedom from the things that bind my heart…there are many.  I am yearning for the things that make my tummy have the best kinds of butterflies, there are several of those things too.

There was a time that I walked every single day.  My goal was to reach 100 days straight of walking at least 10 minutes a day.  Most days I walked 45 minutes to an hour.  Then, at 91 days of walking…I sprained my ankle and couldn’t bear any weight on my foot.

Looking back, I can’t believe I stuck with a form of exercise that long.  I am a wiggle worm, I have a hard time sitting still.  I normally hate exercise but somehow in that process, I had learned to cherish my daily walk.  I spent the time talking with God and at the end of my walk, I’d lay in the grass and listen to worship music and ask God (again and again and again) to help me surrender everything to him.  This small act made the biggest impact in the way I lived my life and in the peace I had in my heart.  It wasn’t that life was easy, it was that I took time for myself; time to ‘be’ with God and just time to be.

This is definitely missing from my life.  I avoid connecting with myself.  I run from God.  I sure as heck don’t take time to just ‘be’ and care for myself.  I have read countless studies about the effects of long term low stress levels. Weight gain, lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, etc, etc, etc.  Name a side effect and I have experienced it at one time or another.  I am amazed at me.  It’s comparable to my ability to handle 32 crazy kids in a classroom while I struggle with my perfectly imperfect 2.  I can counsel people all day on the significance of self-care.  Preaching to the choir!

I touched on this when I last wrote, I believe that somewhere along the line I quietly decided that I wasn’t worth it.  That’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to my kiddos.  They need to know their Momma is a beautifully confident, capable and compassionate woman who  is doing her best to raise beautifully confident,  capable compassionate kids.

I’m beginning with what I have and where I can. I took a 30 minute walk yesterday.  My phone died immediately after my feet hit the pavement.  That irritated me and I nearly went back to charge it.  I had wanted to make a phone call or listen to something.  I had a dear friend (maybe more than one at times) tell me that I was so stubborn and sometimes needed a figurative smack in the head to listen.

Ouch!  I know why I haven’t been walking and it’s not because I am lazy.  While I might say that I desire that time with God and to care for myself, I truly do not.  I just stated that I’ve been running from God and can’t stand to be alone with my own thoughts.  This is truth.  I would rather read, talk, play candy crush, do dishes, eat, drive….anything that keeps me from being alone with my thoughts.  Sometimes, when I am still, the tears still come.  I’m tired of the tears.  So I run in various ways.  I’m beginning to see what a self destructive pattern this is.

I walked.  I noticed six beautiful geese and I wondered if they were partnered.  (you know…because they mate for life).  They were in close proximity but not right next to one another.  However, when a car drove by or there was a noise, they would immediately pair off with their mate.  It was the coolest sight to observe and I doubt I would’ve taken time to notice God’s intricate design among the geese had I been on the phone.  Ironically, I was able to turn my phone on long enough to snap a few pictures of my feathered friends.  No accidents, ever.

Tonight, I will walk again.  Not because I have to but because I can.  I am on a journey of learning to love myself.  It’s not all bad but I’m honest enough to express that much of it really sucks.  I’m taking some scary steps, pretty consistently stretching out of my comfort zone…because that is where life begins, right?  I’m ready life!  Oh, what’s that?  You say you’ve already begun.  Oh dear!  I better start living!