Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Voices in my Head...........

So I have been spending my mornings and afternoons with 
this little guy.
He is a joy and delights my soul every day!
His smile lights up my world
and we have so much fun together.
Many days by the time his mommy comes to get him,
he and I are in the kitchen while I am getting dinner ready.
The kitchen is kind of off to the side of the door that 
Jenna comes in, so Landon cannot see her approach.
He will be babbling or dancing or inspecting
something along the baseboards in the kitchen
and then all of the sudden he hears a voice and freezes.
He looks at me with wide eyes and an even wider grin
as if to ask me, "Hey, did you hear that?!"
For a minute or two the room is electric with 
the anticipation of a mommy's hug and the excitement 
of being together again.
Landon knows his mommy's voice.
He knows it without even seeing her.
His response to her voice is unlike his response 
to any other voice in his life.
Sometimes I can easily recognize the voices speaking to me and
I know exactly how to respond.
But not always.
For the past two weeks I have been 
praying about leading a women's Bible study in 
the church that we have been attending for the past 6 weeks.
From the minute I found out there was a need,
it has been in the back of my mind to step up
and lead. 
There are voices in my head too.
Here is what they are saying:
Can I do this?
It has been so, so long since
I have led a study.
I am quite comfortable now with nothing to prepare for,
nothing to study for,
nothing expected of me.
I'm comfortable, but I'm not growing the way I want to be.
Thursdays are my only night with nothing to do.
I need my nothing to do night.
What if no one comes?
What if someone comes?!
What if I trip over my words,
sound like an idiot,
sound like a know it all,
and worst of all,
what if I cry?!
I am not a pretty crier.
I hate crying in public and do everything I can to avoid it.
Once the chin quiver starts though,
I can't usually stop it 
and it just goes downhill from there.
What if God uses this study to help encourage others?
What if this is the thing I need in my life right now,
right here, at this very point in my life?
I'm not funny enough, knowlegable enough,
cute enough, witty enough, well connected enough,
smart enough, confident enough 
or well spoken enough to do this.
I'm unorganized.
Completely and totally unorganized.
I simply cannot get it together enough to 
look like I have it together enough to do this!
What if this grows me, stretches me,
causes me to walk by faith?
The study I want to do is called Let It Go by Karen Ehman.
The subject is dear to my heart.  It is about being a control freak.
I am a control freak.
God has brought this to my attention over and over again
during the past five years.  
The lessons I have learned about how very necessary it is to 
let go of control
when it comes to my own personal peace
is the number one word of encouragement
I give to other mother's when they share their struggles with me.
It is a subject that is still tender.
This is scary for me.
I can't just brush over this stuff.
It is going to come down to sharing personal stories
and that means being real and raw and vulnerable....
and again, the crying thing.

So all of this is going on in my head
all the while I am still taking steps to lead the study.
I have a meeting scheduled with the Pastor on Friday morning
so he can get to know me and we can talk about the study.
Since we are brand new to the church,
he needs to know where my heart is.
Yesterday I had lunch with my husband and
was telling him about this struggle of voices
in my head.
I asked him which one I should be listening to.
Both make sense.
Both can be convincing.
But one of them is a lie.
Almost always, when there are two voices in direct conflict
one of them is truth and one of them is a lie.
On the one hand, I get a free night every week.
No preparation, no one counting on me, no possible public failure,
no vulnerability.  
I could use that night to clean or do laundry
or prepare meals for the week
or catch up on blogging and editing.
Or I could face reality and use that night like I really would
and just sit and watch TV or surf the internet.
On the other hand, 
it has been a very long time since I have put myself out there
in a leadership roll.
I'm going to have to put time and effort into this.
I'm going to have to be open, honest, my imperfections are going to be 
out there in bright flashing neon lights for everyone to see.
I'm going to have to face my fear of public speaking.
I'm going to be vulnerable to criticism.
Someone might not like me.
I am going to have to give up control.
Sitting across the lunch table from me,
my sweet husband listened to all of my fears
and insecurities as I poured them out over the 
chips and salsa we were sharing.
"Who do I listen to?" I asked him.
He told me what I already knew.
"Listen to the voice that is pushing you toward growth. 
The one chasing you out of your comfort zone and
causing you to have faith." he said.

So, here we go.  
If God opens the door for me to lead this study 
on Thursday nights at a little coffee shop
in downtown Newport,
I'm going to listen to his voice and do it.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things I have learned from weeding my garden........

So we rented this house in Portsmouth
with a really beautiful yard.
It is almost park like and there are 
gorgeous flowers everywhere.

I do not have a green thumb.

It is really a challenge for me
 to keep any kind of plant life alive.
But I am determined to do this.
I have to, it's in the lease.

I'm pretty motivated 
(and a little obsessed)
so, I think that I will be able to 
figure out how to keep this garden happy.

When we first moved in,
the flower beds had been freshly mulched.
There were no weeds and 
the mulch had not been pressed down by rain yet. 
Everything was fresh and new and perfect.

Now, having been here for more than a month,
it's not so perfect anymore.
The mulch has settled in and the weeds
are trying to take over.
I did a round of weeding at the two week mark,
but now they are back with a vengeance!

So the other day,
David and I went out to tackle the 
green, thorny terrorist.
Our home sits right on a main road,
and even though we don't use this entrance
for everyday comings and goings
we are still responsible for the upkeep.

So there I was out there in the front of the house
pulling weeds by the curbside
and along the fence beside the sidewalk.
On the main road.
The MAIN road. 
I hated every minute of it.  

There really is no flattering way to bend over and 
pull out a stubborn weed root.
I am not very fond of my backside.
I am even less fond of introducing myself to my new community
by displaying my backside bent over along the curb on the main road.
As I was pondering how much I would rather be doing this 
in private, in seclusion, 
incognito, in the dark of midnight
or in any other way than out in plain sight
 for the amusement of all 2.1 million drivers
that were on that road that day,
I thought of how much this applies to life.
Sometimes we just have to weed in public.
Sometimes the weeds in our lives are just out there for everyone to see.
Sometimes God's way in dealing with us is very, very public.
Sometimes there is just no other way.

There are so many imperfections that I would like to hide from the world.
Sometimes things are just not alright in my world,
and I would rather push them down deep and deal with them in secret
then to have my struggle made public and my shortcomings on display.

I don't want people seeing that my kids don't always embrace
what we have taught them
and often times do the exact opposite of what we pray for.
I don't want them seeing that my home is sometimes filled with
the thorny vines of bickering and strife.
I don't want them seeing the prickly leaves of my lack of faith in troubling times.
I don't want them seeing the weeds that have resulted from my bad decisions.
The monster weed at the root of all of this is pride.
I don't want people seeing these imperfections because I don't want to seem
like an emotionally unstable, out of control, needy, selfish, willful person who
can't seem to keep her house in order.
I'm too proud.

But another thing occurred to me as I was weeding my curbside garden out in plain daylight.
What if some of these people aren't snickering at my backside up in the air?
What if some of them are thinking, "hmmm, I really need to weed my garden!"?
What if people saw me working and thought, "Hey, I've got weeds too!"?
What if my work inspired them to think about their own garden
and what needed to be done there?
What if it isn't about me and how I appeared to others at all,
but more about my very public work inspiring others to recognize the work that
needed to be done in their own gardens?

Throughout the years there have been people in my life who have had very public struggles.
Their gardens were being weeded on the curbside on very busy streets.
I remember one woman sharing a little bit with us in a woman's bible study.
She was going through some trying times with her son
and it was breaking her family apart.
My children were very young at the time and while I could not relate
 to her struggles, but I was so very thankful
that she was brave enough to share them with us.
As a group we were able to come along side her and pray for her.

I learned the valuable lesson that sometimes we are put in
circumstances that seem impossible to overcome.
Sometimes our faith is shaken to the core.
Sometimes the imperfections in our lives are ugly and public and we can't hide them,
but God intends for us to bear one another's burdens and to share
our struggles and triumphs with others.
We shouldn't let the sin of pride keep us from being real with people.

I often think back on that moment when this woman
shared her not so flattering side with us
and I am so thankful for her example.
God used her struggle to encourage me so many years later
when my kids entered the world of teen rebellion. 
I didn't feel alone.
I knew that I wasn't the only mom who had been touched
by this kind of pain.
I knew that God would use me and my story to help other moms
if I would only be brave enough to share.

I saw a photo of this woman's son on facebook the other day.
He has a teenage son of his own now and is doing very well.
God drew him back to himself and worked in the life of that family.
If we hadn't been aware of the struggle,
we wouldn't have been able to rejoice in the victory!

It is my hope that as I share my "fresh fruit" with you,
the pretty flowers of my life, the colorful bouquets and the healthy shrubs,
that you know of the weeds that loom as well.
As long as we walk this earth they will always be there.
It is important that you know about them and their choking vines
and how much work it took to pull them out at the root.
You must know about them in order to truly appreciate the 
magnificence of the flowers that bloom.
For no flower is more beautiful than the one that is gained through
struggle and strife.
The one paid for with tears, pain, obedience, selflessness,
forgiveness, grace, mercy and ultimately
a thorn pricked brow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do Overs.....

I just love it when God brings me back to a place that I never thought I would be again.
It's like life's little do-overs.
There are so many levels of emotions that I feel when something like that happens.

Right now I am experiencing this on three levels.
First I'm feeling the "want to" to pick up this blog again.
As I have spoken of before,
there are seasons of life that just cant be put into words
as they are happening.
Some things are better left to rest until the come to their own conclusions
 before the story can be told.
The last four years of my life seemed to consist of one event after another
that just needed to sit within my heart until healing and understanding
could bring about the right words to share. 
To all you moms of teenagers out there, I know you feel me.
Let me just say that it gets better.  It really does.

My second do-over is that we are back in Rhode Island!
We lived here 7 years ago and this is the place where my blog began.
My first post were of our life here and how much we loved it.

Despite the fact that we fought tooth and nail to stay in Maryland,
coming back here after 7 years has been wonderful. 
There were so many things in Maryland that brought a level of comfort to me.
That level of comfort in a new duty station
 is not something we military families are used to. 
It was a blessing to live near my mom
and my Maryland family.
It was great to walk into the salon where my mom works and be among friends.
It was incredible to live in the neighborhood I grew up in.
I did meet lots of great new people too,
but most of those people I met after I had already been there for quite some time
 and my life there had already become routine. 
I had my bearings and I didn't feel like the "new girl" who desperately needed
to belong.
Those friendships were formed with a sense of ease,
not in a "please be my friend so I don't become a hermit" kind of way.
I was so blessed with a strong client base and met so many people in Maryland
that I hope to keep in touch with.

I have no idea why God moved us here when we were so comfortable.
Perhaps it was to stretch my world a little bit more.

The level of comfort I was experiencing isn't always good for a person like me.
 Most think that I am very outgoing,
but in reality it is hard for me to put myself out there.
It is scary to be the new person in groups that are already well established.
 It is scary to find out if and where you fit in.
 It is scary to be in new unfamiliar least it is for me.
 So, now I'm back to reaching out again.
 I'm brushing up on all those skills that I was able to let lay dormant
in Maryland.

It's a good thing!

Rhode Island has so many good qualities.
I had forgotten how very beautiful and vibrant this place is.
Whenever anyone asked me what my favorite duty station has been so far,
I always included Rhode Island in my top 3 because of it's beauty.
Last time we were here it was only for one year.
I broke my ankle 9 months into that year and which kept me home and healing
for our last few months here.
I was always so bummed that we did not get to explore everything we wanted to
because of that unexpected injury.

Now we are back for almost 4 years and I've got a list a mile long of all the places
I want to go and see and everything we want to explore. 
 Boston, Mystic, Martha's Vineyard,
Nantucket, Cape Cod,
points of interest in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine,
Providence, Jamestown, Block Island
 and Newport are all on the list.

Summers here are alive and filled with so many activities in the community. 
There is something different to do every day of the week. 
Just walking around in downtown Newport on a summer evening is so enjoyable for me.
The restaurants, the history, the people bustling about,
the harbor, the sailboats and yachts,
 the cliff walk, the beach, the ocean,
the clams, the boutiques,
the music from local bands,
the landscaping, the cobblestone....
I was made for this place!
As great as the summers are,
I'm a girl who loves Fall and the Autumn season here is just breathtaking!
New Englanders are incredibly friendly!  
Every single day when I am out in town
someone starts up a friendly conversation with me.
The locals are extremely helpful and genuine.
I'm just so excited and thankful for this do-over.

There is another do-over that I am also thankful for.
We are so, so blessed that our son Zachary and his precious little family
followed us here to Rhode Island.
They live in the sweet little town of Bristol about 5 miles from us.
They are thriving here!

 Zach has a great job and is able to support his family enough that Jenna
is able to follow her dreams and go to school full time
to work toward her career in the medical field.
Starting today, Landon will be with me for a few hours 4 days a week.
We are working on baby proofing the house and I've been
on Pinterest looking for fun activities to do with 1 year olds.
I am going to have so much fun with him!
I plan to make the most of this special little do-over that I have with him.
I loved being a stay at home mom and building into my children
as much as I could.  I enjoyed coming up with creative things we could do.
I loved reading them nap time stories and taking them to the park.
We were definitely on the go most days and we let no grass grow under our feet!

How blessed am I to be able to revisit some of the joy of pre-schoolers again?
I'm not as young and energetic as I was when I packed up three little kids
and ran all over town every day, but I am gonna do my best to keep up with this little guy!!