Sunday, October 28, 2012

More God Than You Can Handle

you already have more access to God

Click on the image above to download it as a screensaver.

The link up was awesome. Reading your stories, about your struggles and your rising, amazes me. Each of these stories was a gift. Thank you.

Today remember this verse, wherever you are, however high or low you feel, no matter how far from where you want to be.

Everything we have, everything we are is a gift. How can we judge and shame ourselves if that is true? Even our weak parts are gifts.

You don't need to change first. You don't need to be better. There is nothing you have to do. Just as you are, right now, you already have all the access to God you could want. More than you can handle.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Live, Blog, Write

Ann Voskamp shared this post today.

It took my breath away.


It is about perfection and story and mothering. 

All the real stuff in life.

There's nothing I can add. It is a candle in the dark. 
Just go read it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stories Help Me Remember

I am lucky enough to have an space in my home that is just for me. It is a tiny office that, when we first looked at the house, was filled with junk, dark wood paneling, and disgusting carpet. Now it is my haven.

In my room, I have a wall covered with pictures. These are mostly from my "different and beautiful" board on Pinterest. It is a mix of all that calls to me, teal and pink and hearts and coffee and freedom. It is like me, a mix of hard and soft things, sweet and sassy, chic and country. Me on a wall. When I start to forget who I am, I sit and look at these pictures and try to remember.


I was doing this, looking at these pictures, and I had one of those moments, where a revelation drops into my heart like an anvil. I was thinking about how beautiful life is, and wondering why it has taken me so long to embrace it. Why have I waited so long to even look for these things that I love? Why have I waited to let myself really sink down into happiness? And suddenly I knew, as certainly as I know that I am breathing.

When I was about twelve I sat in a youth service at church and heard someone preach that our salvation was spider-web fragile. That we could sin any moment, maybe not even knowing, and if we should happen to die before we could repent for these sins then we would go to hell. Worse, if we couldn't get ourselves together, to stop all this regular old human-naturing then God might kill someone that we love, maybe even our whole family, to get our attention.

I vividly remember sitting on that pew with thirty or forty other kids, my fingertips rubbing over the surface of the woven seat cushion, how we were all on the left side of the church and the podium was down on the floor just in front of us. The preacher told a story, he swore it was true, about someone who couldn't "get it together". Their car stalled on a train track and their whole family perished so that this person would see the error of their ways and turn to God. It was a horrible story. The worst part was that I believed every single word.

I've thought about this memory many times over the years. It stands out, with a handful of others. It has colored my whole life. The way I feel about myself, about others, about God. Even know, when I know better, writing about it takes my breath away.


I feel like God met me, as I sat in my room. The truth that fell on me was that I have lived under a shadow of uncertainty and lack of safety for so long. I built walls and locked myself down because I believed it could all be taken away at any moment. Loving something felt dangerous, because I could never be good enough to deserve it. My love was destructive. Killer.

Now I know, without a doubt or a question, that this is not real. This is a lie. This is not the God I know.

Even in Jesus’ time people wanted to grab onto this type of thinking, that our behavior causes blessing or tragedy, that we can control nature, control God, if we try hard enough. Jesus answered this head-on. "He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45).

In her book Grace for the Good Girl Emily Freeman writes, “Fear drives, love provides.” It was fear that drove me to repent and pray and cry. It was fear that drove me to build up walls and run away. It was fear that made me package all my heart loves up and hide them for safe keeping.

But fear is not from God.

God wants to take the fears that I am holding onto, that you are holding onto, with both hands. He throws them aside, effortless, and then takes our empty hands in His and fills them with his love. He is not a hard driver. He wants to provide.

I don’t know how to finish this story. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever written, because one of the many messages of the culture I grew up in was to not talk negatively about what went on. But I think this story is important, because I think in the telling, in the harsh light of day, it cannot hold its poison.

I'll be doing a story link-up on Friday. If you have a story to share, a growing, healing, God came near story, I'd love to read it. Sometimes I forget things I really want to hold on to. Your stories help me remember.

BONUS: Click the scripture image above for a downloadable screensaver.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hello Hurricane

I met a friend for coffee this morning. We sat beside the water just after sunrise, eating sweetbreads and watching the birds dive down. On my way there and back home, this is the song that spoke to me.

Where I live, 30 miles from the gulf, hurricanes are just a part of life. Storm trackers are free at Popeye's, we stock up on bottled water. Sometimes the storms do run us North and send us seeking shelter, but often we stay. We board up, stock up, lock up, showing the storm a healthy measure of respect. 

What we know, those of us that live near the water, is that if the storm comes we will pull together to repair what's windblown broken. We know that sometimes, after the storm, God shows up. We see how strong we are, what a community we have, how many people love us. 

It hasn't been so many years that this place I sit now with my friend, my favorite place, was underwater. It was an empty lot before the hurricane came and everything within a mile of the lake flooded. It was in the aftermath that the beautifully unexpected  grew. The lot was transformed into a gorgeous park that is filled every day with flowers and fountains and dogs and children. 

This weekend, if the hurricane is rolling in, winds raging and sky turning dark, throw open your arms. Let the storm blow around you. Let the rain pour down. No matter how fierce the hurricane may be, it can't take your love. You are enough. Your love is strong enough. You will make it through. It may be the flood that reveals an opportunity to become even more beautiful.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fear is a Liar

This morning fear is trying his best to get his teeth into me. I’m driving to work and I feel the shaking in my blood, working its way from the inside out. But instead of spiraling down, I look up.


I am wearing my gratitude clicker and I start listing things that I am thankful for.

My girls-click

My husband-click

Ice water-click

Rising sun-click

It didn’t lift the fear altogether, but it pushed open my chest a bit, gave me a little room to breathe.

My counselor says the way to deal with this is to get really good at identifying my triggers and calling them out. Naming my fears shrinks them down until they are realistic, manageable.

I know what my triggers are today. There are two, and they stir up all sorts of dark doubts and feelings and open the door for fear to waltz right in.

A woman that I care for is suddenly, surprisingly separated. This happened out of the blue, at a time that should be filled with celebration. This hits in a tender place, because, like me, her husband held her on the Earth, kept her from spinning off into space. What would I do if it were me? It makes me wonder if the weight of realized dreams can just be too heavy, if they can crush parts of our lives we don’t even realize are butterfly-wing fragile until it’s too late.

I signed up to send a package with We Deliver Love, and the name I was sent is a woman who found out her precious, unborn child has a birth defect. I was so excited to send happy mail, but this nominee blew me right off my feet. What can I possibly put into a box that would, in any way, make a difference? That kind of pain is big and unwieldy and takes up all kinds of space. Cookies just won’t get it. I want to have another baby soon, and she, beautiful stranger, is living my worst fear. I am so blessed with the family I have. “Why do you think you deserve more?” my mind whispers. “Why are you pushing your luck?”

I hate this doubt, these dark ugly thoughts. They are born out of my deepest loves, my greatest vulnerabilities, the areas where I cannot be in control.

I name you today, heart fears. I am small, but you are smaller. You will not stop me. Because God is big, I choose to move forward anyway. You have a voice, but it is love that wins.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today I Choose


I'm continually amazed at how most people seem to get life. They just seem to do it so well. All of the hard corners and spiky edges don’t seem to dig into their soul, the way they do in mine. Personally, I’m impressed when people just manage to get dressed and show up, but society in general expects more than that.
I don’t notice what people wear or what car they drive. I generally don’t know where all my various technology bits are, or whether they’re updated, or charged, or whatever. I’ve got all my energy on figuring out where I’m supposed to be, listening when I get there, and not running into any walls or tables or chairs (or cars) along the way.

I’ve always thought I would die young, mostly because to me, life has always felt really, really hard. I’ve always secretly felt kind of bad at it. I’m too sensitive and scattered and messy, and all my pieces have never felt all that together. I just assumed God wouldn’t throw me down here, all wander-y and confused, and leave me.

Now that I’m actually accepting the fact that I might live a long and healthy life, two things are happening.

First, I’m afraid that now that I want to live, I’ll find out I actually am dying of some esoteric disease. Because life is ironic that way. (Cue the forboding joy). Yes, I know how crazy that sounds. It is what it is. You'll either be the kind of person that totally gets it, or you won't.

Second, for the first time I’m actually looking into my future as a real, long possibility. Sometimes the days stretch out before me like the yellow brick road to Oz, and other days they stack up, one on top of the other, until I can’t see their end, a mountain of weighty gifts.

That’s why I love the name of my blog so much: 2day I choose. What will I choose today, this day, the only one I have for sure? Will I choose laughter or anger? Joy or scarcity? Love or fear?
What about you?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stronger

"I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means I survived."
from Little Bee



I went running for the first time in weeks, and I was expecting to struggle and flounder and gasp for breath. I started slow, but my legs itched for more. “Run!” they whispered. “Run harder!” So I did.

I ran faster and farther and longer than I ever have. The sun was setting in front of me, the sky changing, falling into dusky purple and pink and orange. I felt strong. I felt whole, 100% there. The scary little part of me that hides in the back closet and threatens to take over if I’m not careful is gone; I think I’ve worn him down.

I ran and I thought about all the things that I am. I’m a runner who drinks wine. I’m a counselor that wants to be left alone sometimes. I’m a Christian that swears. I’m flamboyant, but I want to fit in. I’m a good friend. I’m a bookworm. I’m a mess. I’m selfish. I’m compassionate.

I have a page in my journal dedicated to all the parts of myself, all the contrary, almost opposites that live in me: responsible/impulsive, capable/overwhelmed, safe/damaged. Before, I thought I had to pick, to find a way to be one thing or the other. That until I could get that under control, I was a mis-matched, stuck together unperson, all damaged and scary, like Sid’s toys in Toy Story.

Today, I feel the air in my lungs and I know that is a lie. I am whole. I am complete. All of my secrets and scars and wishes and dreams can live together in this one body without shame, without blame, without fear. All loved, all accepted, all in service to God. In his eyes, regardless of what I did or didn’t do today, I am loved. I am His, so I am enough.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kairos Kairos Everywhere

This has been a great week. Not in any big, spectacular way. Just in a quiet, ordinary way. I've had kairos, God moments, popping up all over the place. The flip side of the pain.
I had a conversation with my dad, and we were both real and honest, and neither on of us got defensive and angry and hung up the phone. Kairos.

I curled up on the floor beside a little boy that hurt himself and held him the way I'd want someone to hold my daughter if she were hurt. He leaned up into me and showed me his boo boo. Kairos.

Even in my dream last night I was sitting with a family in struggle and we took each others hands and I prayed, "Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth like it is in heaven.

This weekend is a big deal for me. I'm taking a test that I could have studied more for, but I couldn't make myself choose studying over soul work. So if you're reading this, throw a little prayer my way.

My wish for you, as the weekend draws near, is that kairos moments will surround you. And when you see those beautiful moments drawing near embrace them, pull them close, sink in.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hard Things

This day is a day of hard, heart hurting things. I am practicing love, practicing having eyes to see, and what I'm learning today is that it hurts.

Connection hurts.

The lack of connection hurts more, but that doesn't diminish the pain I feel. Today I am feeling what it really means to weep with those who mourn and rejoice with them that rejoice. To show love, all heart out on the table, and say, "I'm in this too. I'm there. I will get up beside you in your big armchair of loss or grief or brokenness or whatever and sit with you."

I'm having one of those ugly undone moments where I WANT to see through God's eyes, I WANT to live and breathe and die in love,

BUT it is so damn hard. There are so many people mourning and rejoicing, and the idea of letting myself really feel that, even just the mourning and rejoicing of the people I love, strikes fear in my heart. It hits me right at the core of who i am and what I'm for and what I really believe is true. It is almost too brutiful to bear.

I guess that's why God gave me this...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Next Great Adventure

"It's the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more...To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Albus Dumbledore

I think about death a lot, sometimes my own, but more often the deaths of those that I love. I find myself at odd moments imagining how I would deal with the death of my husband or one of my children, rehearsing what I would say if I got 'the call'. It is in my moments of greatest joy that the fear sneaks up on me. He comes slinking in with with a cloak of heavy sadness wrapped around his shoulders and tries to pass it off, even though I am an unwilling and ungracious hostess.

I've always thought this was weird and shoved it into the closet with all my other dirty emotional secrets. But...

I've been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and in the chapter on armory I experienced a great revelation. This feeling, this rehearsal of my worst imaginings, creeps into the lives of lots of us. The name of this shadow is foreboding joy.

Foreboding joy is the uneasy sense that the other shoe is about to drop. The feeling that comes just as we're sinking into joy. The voice that whispers, "You don't deserve all this love and beauty and goodness." Forboding joy tells me to hold on tight when my heart is longing to let go. It makes me want to slow down, hold back, play safe, all to maintain the illusion of control.

Foreboding joy manipulates my feelings, but it is not real. It is a distorted mirror that doesn't show me reality, only robs me of real, fleeting moments of connection and realness and grace.

I found this video on another blog today, and it was a gut check. A powerful reminder of how thin the illusion of control is. Whether I acknowledge it or not, I am dying. We all are, no matter how rich or healthy or strong we are. All that we have is this moment. And in this moment the greater things we can do are sink into the arms of family and community, let our connections bind us, write a beautiful story. I hope that when my time comes I have as much grace as this family. Death may touch them, the body may be lost, but the spirit and heart will live on into legacy.


 

A final thought thought from Steve Jobs, another man who faced down death with dignity:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to make the big choices in life. Because almost everything-all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure-these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering you are going to die is the way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose? You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Heart Prayer

When I opened my eyes this morning, these words filled my mind and my heart:

Father God, 
I need you today. You are the guardian I've waited for, today I will let you go before me. Fight for me. Shelter me beneath the wide umbrella of your grace. Open my understanding to your will and my eyes to the gifts that surround me. Draw me back into the light if I start to drift into the dark.

I need your strength to make it through this day. Give me the words to comfort the weary. Help me speak from your wisdom and act from your love. Lead me to opportunities to be your love today, the eyes to see them, and the courage to act.

Help me see myself the way you do, with compassion and gentleness. Remind me that my worth comes through you. Calm my fears. Help me embrace the future with joy and hope.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hello Ricky Bobby

I've decided I need to give my monkey mind a name. He's alive and well this morning, telling me I shouldn't write because I'm probably going to run out of things to say soon, and then I will be an empty failure. That I have nothing new to add to the discussion, nothing new to give. That I should delete all my old blog posts to hide evidence of my stopping and starting.

Today he's like a pet nipping around my heels, not powerful, but annoying. I choose to hear these chattering words, to shine a light right into their beady little eyes. I want them to know that I see them, in all their ugly smallness.

After giving it some thought, I've decided to name my monkey mind Ricky Bobby. I was thinking about latin names like Javier, but I don't want to make my jumping, distractable self sound mysterious and sexy. Ricky Bobby makes me laugh. A name like that seems silly, not strong. Just a goofy little thing that doesn't know what to do with its hands, likes to go fast, and loves tiny infant baby Jesus. I can live with that.

Seeing my mind this way allows me to be a little more tolerant, a little more forgiving. I can say to Ricky Bobby, as Elizabeth Gilbert does to her monkey mind in Eat, Pray, Love, "Run out and play. Mommy's talking to God."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shutting up my Monkey Mind

As soon as I made a new blog post yesterday, my mind whipped into high gear. "Make a plan!" it urged. "Figure out what you're going to do. Make a day by day chart. Get organized."

I think the buddhists call this busy grasping at nothing the 'monkey mind.' My monkey mind has been jumping and screaming for my attention for weeks. I'm trying to ignore it, or at least throw a few nuts through the bars to shut it up, but old habits die hard. Truth: last week I online shopped too much. Then I ate lots of jelly beans to feel better about that. In fact, while I was trying to read soul nourishing things all I could thing about was shopping and jellybeans. Points to the monkey mind.

The challenge is to stare it all down, the thoughts and my failures, and start again. So today, when all those ideas started popping like kernels in a hot skillet I said, "Mind, I hear you loud and clear, but NO THANK YOU! Today is all I can handle. I choose to stick with that."


And what was today? A collection of moments hung together by quiet spaces. A conversation about how to encourage our daughter to stop waking other kids up during nap time, and the possibility that she may just need to go to the office instead. I have a memory of sitting on a counter outside my classrooom because I woke the other kids up during nap time, so I can't hold it against her. Making a stop sign together for her daily behavior and letting her decide her own rewards and consequences.


Cooking, feeding the baby taco meat, baths. Opening packages, compliments of the aforementioned shopping, and finding an extra little gift of a miracle fish. I actually thought the package was the fish, but once I actually discovered the red cellophane fish had fallen on the floor things got really exciting.


Ignoring the towel mountain in the corner of my bedroom-my husband says he likes to see how high he can make it, and I don't want to take away his small thrills. Cookies in the oven, music on Pandora.

Enough.