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Category Archives: Love Yourself

Sigh…

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It was the first semester of my freshman year in college. I lived a couple of hours away from home and was loving my independence, until an incident occurred that made me feel completely out of control. I was visiting a family member of a friend, the relative was much older than we were, and he isolated me and made some big assumptions and actions. The whole thing happened quickly and was so shocking that it took me some time to process.

I drove home to my parents the next morning, and told them everything, showing them torn clothing and bruises while gulping for air. My parents reacted in the best way possible:

  1. They believed me. There was no questioning of my motive, understanding or my memory of the events that had occurred.
  2. They supported me. My parents encouraged me to go back to my university town and go straight to the police. For almost a year after that, we were embroiled in pressing charges against a prominent person in my community. The court date was re-scheduled and changed several times and my Dad was there each time.
  3. They rooted for me. My family was understanding of the stress this situation put me through, and they encouraged me every step of the way, never suggesting that I should leave school, keep quiet or pretend nothing had ever happened.

The assault made my introduction to college much more challenging than I had expected, but it also gave me clarity about what was truly important to me; safety and respect. It is so difficult to convey the helplessness of having little to no say about what happens to your body, while simultaneously questioning yourself. Over time I changed my major to work professionally with survivors of rape, domestic violence and incest. I would never wish a situation like this on anyone, the fear and doubt that ate at me was sometimes paralyzing, but I learned from firsthand experience the importance of responding from a place of love with belief, support and encouragement.

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Perspective

perspective

Recently I was on the phone with our daughter Jessica, who lives in Maine and is attending Midwifery school, a three-year program that will allow her to be a certified professional Midwife. There has been no doubt in our minds over the last couple of years that our girl (no matter how old she will always be our girl) is meant to be a Midwife, and we love to hear her stories of struggle and triumph to be on her own so far from home.

We were talking about a Nutrition class Jess has been taking, and my assumption was that this would be one of her favorites because she has been passionate about using foods and herbs to heal and prevent sickness. After her first class I was surprised to learn that she was overwhelmed and not excited about the subsequent classes on the subject. After the second class, she was even more negative about the subject, saying they were expecting way too many details and going more in-depth than needed for pre-natal care. I encouraged Jess to give honest feedback when the class was over, suggesting that this was too much information and perhaps less time should be spent on the subject matter.

And then an interesting thing happened. Jessica attended her last Nutrition class and took the final exam. She said she knew she had done well on it, but was the last person to turn in the test. As she did so, her instructor opened up the conversation and invited my girl to ask questions. After discussing the test and talking more about nutrition, Jess had a change of heart; she decided that what was needed wasn’t less information, but more. She concluded that this subject is vital to the health of the pregnant woman and the baby, and that more emphasis should be place on this component, more time allotted in the classroom, not less.

I appreciate the fact that Jessica was able to see from another perspective and adapt to it, she has shown herself to be teachable in so many ways and not afraid to ask questions and learn more, so much more that she might conclude that she has been wrong on something. I want to be like my girl when I grow up; strong in opinions but flexible enough to change. There are so many times in life when we may think we have it all figured out, and it can be tempting to shut out all other possibilities, but doesn’t that really mean that we don’t want our way to be challenged because we might not have all the answers? I want to come to the table with my portion and be willing to share what I believe to be true, but open to another way to see the same thing. This act doesn’t take away from what I believe in the least, but can strengthen it or test it or change it.

I think my girl is right where she needs to be.

Notice

swing

On the way home, taking a route that I drive 1-2 times a week and noticed something was different at an intersection. You know how you walk into a room and know something has been moved, but you can’t immediately put your finger on what it was? Just like that. I kept driving and it actually bothered me, it felt like it was important to remember and notice.

And then I saw it in my mind; an old house with a dilapidated porch rotting on the front, dirt driveway, no sign of life in the building but almost always a vehicle, maybe an old truck, was parked out back. Lots of junk and brush around the house, what may have once been bushes or landscaping. Then I remembered seeing someone walking towards the house one time. Man or woman? Had to be a man, no…..I don’t remember. But today this house, this structure was completely gone, as if it had never been there. In its place was a huge field ready to receive the grocery store that will be built there in the next few months.

As I put more distance between myself and this scorched earth, I tried to understand why it mattered to me. I have moved many times over the years, lived in 9 very different states, and each place holds so many memories. Each house was important. There are some that I haven’t seen in decades, that would be difficult for me to even find. But they are no less important, and neither are the memories made there.

I felt a strong need to remember that old house that was just torn down. It was so gone, there is not even evidence of the dirt driveway anymore. Nothing to show that it was just there. But I know that it was, and I am certain there is at least one family, if not several, who made memories between those walls. Yes, you mattered, and so did your time there.

Nothing that seems permanent in this world truly is. It can all be torn down, removed and replaced. But the very things that can seem so iffy – love, memories and relationships are what cannot be taken away. Just because life changes the details, doesn’t mean it never happened. I want to remember what is truly important and take notice, and feel the loss when something that was so real is gone.

Photo credit: John Clayton

 

Special Effect

superpower Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get the good seats every time? The best parking places, tables at a restaurant, or just the permission to go where others cannot? I am not one of these people, but I am married to one, and it’s a great perk to join in with a person who has access. People allow him to go behind the curtain, or upgrade his hotel room, or tell him about some great deal that is only available to some.

And then there are those who can simply suggest an idea and before long it becomes a reality. You know this type; excited and excitable, kind of a cheerleader who can motivate the hearts of others. A person who has influence tends to have people around them most of the time, just waiting to see what’s going to happen next. We have a child with this tendency and it is fun to watch the wake.This person is often successful in sales.

There is another type that seems a lot like one with access, but it is the person who is often let in to the hearts and minds of others. This one is allowed to speak into people’s lives because they have permission to do so. You will often find this type sitting off to the side of a large group, talking with one person at a time, either giving encouragement or saying hard things.

Finally there are the people who take command of a situation, who speak in proclamation, not in questions and make statements with confidence. People rely on the one with authority to take a stand and point the way, bringing clarity and either relief or frustration to those around them. This person is often polarizing because they have the ability to see all the issues and comment on them while others are still processing the situation.

Which of these tendencies describes you best? This isn’t really about personality, it’s more of the effect you have, and I believe these are areas of strength that we use all the time, but not always for good. Have you noticed that you are allowed information or special circumstances more than most? You probably have access. What can you do with it? Do you find that you need to be careful endorsing ideas publicly because others are taking notice? That sounds like influence. What can you do with it? Maybe you are the type who people open up to and share their deeper hurts or fears, even those you don’t know well. That would be permission. What can you do with it? Or perhaps others rely on you to lead the charge and speak for them. This could be authority. What can you you do with it?

We can use these super powers for good or for our own good, it’s a daily choice.

New Year, New You

resolution

It is that time again, the season to be thinking of all the ways to improve in life with New Year’s resolutions, when in reality maybe we need New Life resolutions. I don’t need lofty goals at the beginning of the year that will just make me feel bad about myself when I don’t reach them; I need attainable goals that I can set for a lifetime and keep. It reminds me of the difference between going on a fad diet and simply changing my eating for a lifetime. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Here goes:

I will strive to have daily time with God through prayer, reading, and believing that He is right along beside me throughout my day (LOVE GOD)

I will strive to take care of myself by being intentional with food, exercise and relationships (LOVE SELF)

I will strive to cultivate intimacy with my guy, respect and trust with my teens, deeper relationships with a few and wider relationships with many (LOVE OTHERS)

Who’s with me?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbors as you love yourself. Matthew 12:30

2016 Reading List

 

books

I grew up with a passion for reading, I can remember going to the library and dropping off a huge stack of books, only to be replaced with a similar pile, and going to the mall as a child and being old enough to ‘shop’ alone for an hour. My time would be spent sitting in the floor of a B. Dalton bookstore, poring over books, trying to decide which one was worthy enough to deserve my allowance money. When I went to college and had to read what I was told, my love for books waned significantly; then I got married and was inundated with short people vying for my attention all day and reading for enjoyment fell off my list of things to do for myself. Taking the time to sit down and read seemed selfish for a decade or so.

This year I have discovered that I still love dipping into another world, like strapping on a diving mask and thrusting my face under the water to see the life happening below and sputtering for air when I’ve been under too long. These days I justify taking the time to read by multi-tasking, combining it with exercise. I spend my time on the elliptical reading, and when I have no desire to go to the gym, the book that is waiting for me is often what gets me there. This year I have read some fascinating books, and some duds. I’m sure there are more than listed here, but these are the ones that quickly came to mind:

Life Changing

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore – this book was written several years ago and recommended to me many times. I don’t know what took me so long to start it, but it helped me view homelessness, and wealth, with more empathy and fueled a desire to help.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – it felt like my responsibility as a human being to read this book and I am changed because of it.

Coming Clean by Seth Haines – an intimate, transparent look into addiction and belief in God. Haines does a wonderful job of turning the lens back onto the reader over and over.

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott – a fascinating look into the life of a writer, rarely does an expert share the secrets of her craft with an audience. I keep learning from this book.

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn – a hopeful, data-filled book that explains the fact that marriages are not doomed to failure and divorce, and the reasons we have come to believe that they are.

 

Life Giving

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – a beautiful reminder to slow down and be present, a book to linger over and enjoy.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – a compelling memoir by a neurosurgeon who insisted on viewing his patients as whole beings, after he was diagnosed with cancer himself.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – this is the only fictional book I placed in a favorable category all year. I loved it. But couldn’t even finish the next book by the same author.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – brilliantly explains the difficulty of creating.

Hope Heals by Katherine Wolf – the incredible story of a young mom who lived through a stroke, and her family has thrived as a result of it.

The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner – contemplative book on identity, the author suggests reading it several times, each time less like a consumer, and this is probably a good idea. Refreshing to read such deep thoughts from a Christian perspective.

Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – powerful book that paints a picture of what the American church often is, and what it could be.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – I don’t agree with everything she says, but some points in this book broke open parts of me I didn’t remember existed.

 

Life Zapping

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – normally I love Allende’s books, but this was a not satisfying.

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew – set in the South, I was hopeful but disappointed.

The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney – hardly remember what this was about, don’t bother.

Jingle Bells

jinglebells

Early this morning I was nudged to wake up. Like when you’re at the beach and your body tries to will you awake while it’s still dark so you can watch the sun rise over the ocean. I remembered it was Christmas Eve morning, but no plan to get up early. And then I knew. There was no ringing in my ears. I have had consistent tinnitus for the last five or six years, a constant ringing in my left ear that has left me only twice. Today makes three times. My first response was to relax and enjoy the silence, and then to cry with relief.

The ringing that I hear day and night is like jingle bells but without the lower register, it also reminds me of a yard full of cicadas in summer in the South, that cadence of pulsing sound that is layered over all other noises. I have tried to label the sound with positive experiences, because it can be truly maddening at times.

I quietly woke up my guy and whispered that the ringing had stopped. I didn’t want to waste the time with sleep. I wanted to enjoy the silence with him, but knew it wouldn’t last long, I don’t know what causes it to recede or to return. He knew immediately what a big deal this was for me, and even though it was 5:30 in the morning, he opened up our house for the day so we could enjoy it together.

I can hear the distant sounds of ringing, I know it’s coming back as I write this. I know I have a decision to make; I can feel hopeless because the ringing will return soon with a vengeance, or I can feel grateful for a short reprieve. As much as I hate having tinnitus, it is a great reminder that we’ve all got something that we get to choose how we’re going to respond to. Today I’m choosing gratefulness and a Christmas miracle in my little world. Merry Christmas!

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