Heart Shares.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 – NIV)

The words of the Psalmist, David, ring so true for me this morning. In fact, the first sentence in my journal entry this morning is, “Where are You? I feel so alone!”

I realized this morning that I am the cause for the loneliness, not God. I have totally pushed Him aside these last few months and have focused on me. All about me. What I think. What I want. How I feel. Sure…I’ve been doing my “quiet time” each morning. A time I say I reserve each morning for God. To discover what He thinks of me. What He wants of me. How He feels about me. Except I left the He out and focused on the me. I have to admit I haven’t even had my Bible alongside of me for much of these mornings.

So, I’ve lost my jam. It happens. Pretty regularly to me, I must confess.

Today, I had set aside as Day 1 (for the 268th time, I believe) to really get back to taking care of me. Focusing on healthy eating and the discipline and commitment of daily exercise and not focusing as much on pounds lost. As I sat down this morning to tweak my plan, that’s when it really hit me. Again…still…it was all about me. I had already failed because I left out the winning equation…He is my strength and I can do nothing without Him.

Hopefully, y’all are still reading at this point. I’ve never made it a secret that I am a Christian woman; that I am the Church Administrator/Manager at our church home; and Jesus is life. I’m also a sarcastic and fiery-tempered wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. For every word about Jesus, there are references to the funny things in life; my (sarcastic) take on things; my family; as well as pain and loss.

But I want you to know what I had temporarily set aside: I am first a child of God. Nothing about who I am, what I say, or what I write is going to change with that pronouncement. It was already true; has always been true. I am who He created me to be…from the sarcasm down to the daily heartbreak of the losses our family has endured. But I also needed you to know…I needed to get it out there as a reminder to me, I suppose…that just like everyone else in this world, I need Jesus. And so do you.

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Reading back through this post, my heart has definitely lifted. The heaviness and darkness I felt sitting down on The Porch this morning is gone. Time to get back to work. Absolutely taking better care of myself and making exercise a consistent part of my day again. All the while remembering where my strength and discipline actually comes from.

Blessings.

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Can’t we all just agree to disagree?

I think it is time I weighed in on a seriously controversial subject matter. We are being inundated with it on social media and main stream media as well as the obscure outlets. I know I have been drawn into some pretty heavy discussions over it. And while I try not to get pulled down to the depths of hysteria and, I’m shocked to admit, threats, I do have a very definite stand on the matter.

Of course I am talking about when it is politically correct to bring out the fall décor.

I know that you also, dear reader, have very strong opinions on the matter. No matter where you lie in the spectrum, I think it is something that we can talk about rationally and without any name calling. Let’s begin.

I absolutely have to start with hair. I have a very curly, tends-to-get-frizzy mop of hair. One hair consultant went as far as to say I could withstand 6 months of chemo and still have plenty of hair left on my head. Let’s pray it never comes to that. Now you are probably wondering what fall décor has to do with my hair. In a word: TONS. Call it the placebo effect, but when I am walking around my house with all of it’s bright, sunny, beachy decorations and summery candle scents in the air, my hair of course thinks it is still summer and frizziness ensues. But as soon as I start pulling out the dreamy deep yellows; calming burnt oranges, and deep red decorations, even my hair follicles relax.

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I don’t really see what an actual date or month has to do with the unofficial start of fall décor season. I know that some of you are bristling at that pronouncement but let’s try to look at this as mature adults. Fall is really just a state of mind. (As well as the state of hair I discussed above.) There is something wondrously  wonderful about fall. It heralds the resting of the trees. Leaves slowly turning from their bright summer green coverings to comfy, sweater-inducing yellows, oranges, and browns. Just thinking about them turning has my eyes drooping in comforting sleepiness. There is a stillness that can be heard and felt throughout the ‘Hood. The lawn mowers end their continuous ruining of my quiet time on the porch. The joyous screams of laughter from the children turn to deep, low mumblings of surliness that the first days of a new school year bring. The area traffic turns from bumper-to-bumper weekend traffic to the more normal 24/7 bumper-to-bumper traffic that encourages us to stay in our homes.

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I know, I know…some of you are sick of the Christmas decorations coming out in August at the Cracker Barrel, but honestly…is it really hurting anything? Why can’t we all just embrace Christmas year round? The presents! The food! The decorations! The softening of the heart! Did I mention the presents! It’s true. I was born a gift receiving loving girl. Over time, I realized that what I truly am is a gift giving loving girl. Yes. It is partly my choice. But I also feel that I was really meant to be a gift giver. It has taken me many years to transition over to it, but I think it is who I truly was born to be.

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So, let’s all just try to get on the same page, shall we? It’s okay to be an early fall embracer; it’s also okay to not be. Please just stop pushing your summer-loving, short-sleeved wearing, has to wear a pony-tail to keep the frizzies down, grilling every night agenda on those of us who just want to cover up, snuggle in, and sip our hot toddies all the live long day.

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Blessings.

 

Just a few Life Lessons.

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On the porch this morning, I stared at the blank pages of my journal. Tons of thoughts swirling around in my head, none of them coherent enough to put on paper. It’s been like this for months. Like a drain clogged with frustration, anger, questions. Searching for the peace that passes all understanding and finding a big fat glob of confusion.

Today I’ve decided to take captive those brain cloggers and dump them behind me and just move forward. Easier said than done?

Tomorrow Russell, Shawn, and I head to Radford. So excited to see The Girl after three months of hell Summer. Just fyi…it is nasty and humid on The Porch again as I am writing this and I realized that this weather has been contributing to my ugly state of mind. Like how ridiculous to give the weather…or a season…that much power!

So we move Brett into his new teeny weeny one bedroom apartment tomorrow. He had enough of roommates for three years and this last year was a doozie. What kind of person removes his name from the utilities so he doesn’t have to pay them while he lives there? Now they all lose out on their apartment deposit to pay the utilities and Brett wasn’t even there the last four months that the utilities weren’t paid.

Life lessons. A momma’s outrage doesn’t override the life lesson of some people. Thankfully, most people aren’t like that loser guy.

Life lessons. Deciding to move forward when you just want to stick around and fight a losing battle. Coming to the realization that people aren’t always going to act the way you would act. Accepting that there are times that people, even family, aren’t going to give you what you need or want and sometimes, will just decide to dislike you or hate you without reason. (If this rings familiar with a few of you that I have been talking with/texting with the last two days…I’m looking at you AND me.)

Life lessons. Learning to forgive the unforgiveable. Stepping around the mess instead of wading through and getting pulled into the muck. Choosing to turn away for the sake of peace and love, instead of fighting back. Focusing on the good things, the good people, the good times, the goodness and letting all of the other bs go.

Learning from the people purposely placed in your life. Seeking and accepting and implementing their wise and experienced counsel.

Not to allow yourself to be a doormat for people and their junk. But to be adult enough to just move on. Realizing that what goes around, comes around. Not for the sake of retaliation and revenge, but because that is just how life works.

And while I began this laundry list of life lessons with Brett in mind, really…it is a note to self.

Blessings.

 

Kids Ruin Everything.

Before having kids, I enjoyed being a night owl. After having kids, I had to be a night owl because those kids weren’t going to nurse and snuggle themselves all night long.

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Before having kids, my evenings were my own. After having kids there were messy bath time water fights, with loud giggles and laughter and chasing naked littles down the hall to grab and wrap up in towels and carry off to bed.

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Before having kids, I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted. After having kids I was forced to share all of my food with sticky-fingered love bugs who left “fishies” floating in my drinks.

Before having kids, I could sit on the sofa watching anything I wanted. After having kids, it was endless rounds of Barney, Ariel, Beauty and the Beast and the constant noise of singing and “why did they do that, momma?” with a wriggly little tucked under each arm.

Before having kids, I could go out at night and wear fun clothes. After having kids, there were children to be read to, prayers to be prayed and stories to be listened to.

Before having kids, I was carefree and dare devilish and could stay out all night. After having kids, there were sleepless nights of worry and prayer for three little people in my life I would lay mine down for.

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Before having kids, I was annoyed by squeals and getting kicked in the seat back and little faces popping up over the backs of booths to say, “Hi”. After having kids, I was apologizing for all of that from my own booth with a laugh and a shrug.

Before having kids, there was quiet and peace and calm throughout the house. After having kids, there was laughter, giggling, and tiny padded feet running across the floors.

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Before having kids, I was selfish and self-absorbed, focused on me and what I want. After having kids, I had to let me go and focus on littles screeching “MINE”, “I WANT”, and “I DO IT”.
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Before having kids, I had energy and could hold intelligent conversations. After having kids, I collapsed in a heap on the sofa at 8pm and recited to my man every word, step, and poop from the day.

Before having kids, I could sleep soundly through the night. After having kids, I paced the floor and checked my phone certain I had missed a call from the State Police or Hospital because my kids were out with their friends.

Before having kids, vacations were easy, relaxed, and spent lying on the beach with a book. After having kids, I was on high alert, scouring the water line with my binocs, and responding to “look at me, momma!” “Watch THIS, momma!” “Help me swim, momma!” “I need a snack, momma!”

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Before having kids, my weekends were lazy and a break from the rat race of the week. After having kids, my weekends were tied up driving kids to games, cheering them on during soccer matches, volleyball matches, baseball games, and football games.

Before having kids, I was so excited to raise them and get them out the door on their own. After the kids moved on to college and marriage and their own lives, and my job was done, I had the clean, quiet, calm, empty, and lonely house I thought I had always wanted.

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Before having kids, it was all about me. After having kids, it wasn’t. And it never will be again.

Thank God, kids ruin everything.

Blessings.

Mad Max: A Tale of a Puppy.

AKA…what it is like owning a street-wise German Shepherd Dog/Labrador Retriever mix puppy.

I was at the beach for girls (and babies) weekend, and never suspected a thing.

We had recently been accepted to foster Golden Retrievers. Following the loss of our beloved Goldie, Jack, we thought maybe we would get lucky and do another failed foster. *failed foster: when you “foster” a dog and end up adopting it yourself*. Sarah’s behavior on our ride home from the beach was, in hindsight, suspect, but it had been a long ride home in driving rain with lots of screaming. Mine. Because of her driving. But that is totally normal for us. I try to keep my head down and keep busy with crocheting.

So walking to the carport door, opening it and seeing a dog crate in the dining room wasn’t such a shock as seeing the little black puppy hurling toward me and greeting me wee-wee of joy all over my feet and the floor. Sarah and My Man were quite pleased with themselves that I was completely unaware.

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Max…Day 1. Cute, sweet and seemingly innocent.

It’s been downhill from there.

Apparently, this pup had been found running the back roads of North Carolina. How they ever caught him is beyond me. He is a runner and the more you chase him, the more fun he has running from you. They probably used cat food. Because he loves it. Just one more reason for the kitties to hate him.

It’s been awhile since we had a puppy in the house. But not long enough for My Man to have completely and totally forgotten every single thing he ever knew about raising and training a puppy. But, he has. As Sarah says, “MOM. It’s like he has never owned a puppy before!” Sad, but true.

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Trying to chew my shoe…while it is on my foot.

There is a reason GSD’s are affectionately (ahem) known as “German Shredders”. I had forgotten this small character trait. Max quickly reminded us as item after item after item was shredded as soon as we turned our backs. Well, not OUR backs…Russell’s back. None of these mishaps have occurred under MY watch. Labs are wicked chewers as well. Max happily shreds pillows and dog beds, and chews up shoes and chair legs on a regular basis. He totally disregards the 3,945 chewies, bones, toys, and chew sticks spread around the house and in his crate. My favorite son-in-law found this out when Max chewed up one of their dog beds in a matter of two minutes while he was in the bathroom.

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There is only one reason that Max is still with us. GSD’s are notorious Velcro-dogs. Goldies are known for this also. Jack was the best at Velcro of any dog we have ever known. Max is smaller and shorter (he’s around 53 pounds right now and probably won’t get much bigger) and is often difficult to see. He sits at or on our feet every time we stop for even a second. We trip over him 35 times a day because he lies down right in our path when we stop at the kitchen sink; the washing machine; the bathroom sink. He has tried to climb into the shower with each of us. And has finally, begrudgingly, settled for spreading out on the bathroom mats, every one of which is white. He is solid black. You might ask yourself…or me…why I don’t just go out and by all black bathroom mats. BECAUSE. It’s the principal of the thing. (That and the fact that I wouldn’t notice the black fur as much and I would totally ignore washing the mats every other day like I do now.) There is nothing worse than stepping out of the shower onto the bathroom mat and a blob of black fur sticking to the bottom of your feet. It’s just gross.

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In the lap of his favorite person.

Currently, I am sitting on the porch and Max is gathering every stick in the back yard and trying to pull them up the stairs and onto the deck. One problem: he has already pulled up all the smaller sticks to the deck and now there are only limbs in the yard. It’s been very entertaining. For both of us.

Sarah took him for a week of “puppy camp”. She gave him back after three days and basically told us he is not the dog for us old folks; has too much energy; needs a ton of exercise; and is as hard-headed as they come.

Challenge accepted.

This is perfect timing, really. The weather is beginning to cooperate with my fall weather needs and, to be perfectly honest, I’m about 7 years behind in getting back to my fighting weight and physical condition.

 

Stay tuned for more life with Max updates. Assuming he is still around. Did I mention that cleaning out the kitty litter boxes is his favorite snack?

Blessings.

 

August.

The first full week of August is coming to an end. And while the weather has been more than tolerable, I can’t help but be suspicious of August’s weather intentions. I think the three H’s are still up August’s sleeve: Hot, Humid, and Hell-like. There is a reason, other than the end of swim team that folks bug out of the DC area during the month of August. It’s unbearable, stagnant, and icky (a technical weather term). When the kids were young, we would spend long days at the nearly empty pool and return in the evenings to play and sup on pizza and subs. I do miss those sweet times of August. And the school supply shopping…I definitely miss that. But that’s about it.

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After suffering through the sleepless, sticky, hazy nights of August, I lie in bed and whisper, September… the stuff that puffy dreams are made of. School is in session and parents are suspiciously happy. I can almost feel the cool ocean breeze and hear the crashing waves. September means beach time and renewal. Way more so than January 1, I feel like everything is new and alive. The heat begins to ease and mornings on The Porch require socks on feet and a hoodie. I feel motivated. I feel alive.

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And God knows I need it this September. As I ease back into writing and blogging and sharing life, I plan to touch upon some of the junk that has that I have allowed to consume my time and spirit. Not for sympathy or for shock value. For love. I think we often feel we are the only one. The only one who hurts. The only one who gets angry. The only one who worries. The only one who suffers lost. The only one who can’t get their butt out of the bed in the morning to do what she knows she should do, but continues to do what she knows she shouldn’t do. The only one who fails.

And counter to that, I think we need to share our successes! Our attaboys…er girls. Our victories, tiny or huge, that make us get back on that horse again after being tossed into the junk (or after jumping willingly into the junk). The met goals. The stumbling blocks overcome. The win of just going for a walk around the block. And sometimes, just keeping the “I didn’t kill anyone today” streak alive.

And just to prove the truth of what I wrote this morning, the small victory of sitting down and writing again and then the agony of defeat getting ready for work…

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Me no love.

I think it is important to share. (Says the woman who didn’t let her children see her cry until she was 45 years old and you can imagine the freak out they experienced when she finally did.) The same woman who can credit a small handful of absolutely amazing women who showed her how to really do life. To share life. To pick each other back up after life tosses you to the dirt. To give each other a swift kick in the bum as needed and please-may-I-have-another.

I was a girl who locked herself in her closet with a flashlight, pillow, and book to avoid talking to anyone, but have always unloaded it all onto paper. Not necessarily for public consumption. Maybe I have always been a secret talker who just didn’t believe anyone wanted to hear what I had to say? Maybe I still feel that way.

So, I thank you…the five of you (up from three!) who regularly respond to my posts and encourage me to keep on talking.

You will probably regret it.

Blessings.