So Far, So Awesome! 

It occurs to me that starting a new job is like starting a new relationship.  You put your best self on, and you work hard to make the recipient see how amazing you are. 

And usually,  the first little while is like the honeymoon period. All love and flowers and romantic notions.  

And then reality sets in.  And life shows up. And all the sweet romantic nonsense flies out the window.  

Except,  sometimes,  it doesn’t go that way. 
Sometimes,  what you see is what you get.  Sometimes reality is really that simple.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of “ask, and you shall recieve.”

Sometimes,  when you least expect it, things just go exactly the way you hoped but didn’t dare dream they would.

Sometimes you get exactly what you deserve. ..the world. Peace.  Excitement. Recognition of a job well done. 

Sometimes it works out exactly like you hoped it would.  

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Raise Them Up

I am an emotional adult. I am sensitive, and I feel incredibly strongly.  I am at a point in my life where I am working to embrace this about myself, rather than stuff it down and hide it away. I know what it is to be the child made to feel like I need to “toughen up” or “suck it up.”   I know how it feels to have people tell me that I am “Too Emotional, Too Sensitive.”  I know how it feels to be afraid to be open about it because so often so many people roll their eyes and minimize those feelings, which leaves you feeling stupid, small, and not important.  I know how damaging it can be for someone to always feel small, stupid, and inconsequential, so I am very aware of how I, and others,  treat my own child who is also incredibly emotional and sensitive.

So often adults see children feeling stressed or emotional and roll their eyes and brush them off,  saying,  “what does a kid have to be stressed about?” But what these adults  fail to consider is that even though the problems of a child are small in an adult world, they are huge in the child’s world. That fight with their best friend may not actually be the end of the world, but it feels that way.  As adults we can see the other side. We have lived it and so we know that school and drama that comes with school doesn’t last forever. But for a third grader fighting with his very best friend, he feels like the world is ending. He feels lonely, and sad, and angry, and heartbroken. But he doesn’t know how to sort those feelings out, how to work them out and deal with them. He doesn’t know unless we teach him. And telling him to , “stop crying and toughen up!” isn’t teaching him anything other than we don’t really care how he feels, and that his feelings don’t really matter to us.  If we don’t help him deal with it, he will eventually stop asking for help because we will have taught him that it’s not our problem, and he is on his own in this.

Children see and hear and absorb so much. They are learning how to be adults by watching and listening to us. When they come to us with their “little” big problems, it is up to us to walk them through it. Not to fix it for them, but to help them figure out how to fix it, or handle it, or deal with it.  The way that we teach our children to deal with the heartache of that fight with his best friend, the stress of that spelling test, the grief and confusion of navigating a world with divorced parents, or even just the weeping that comes with exhaustion, will reverberate through their entire lives.

There is a small window of time you have to be a child, but the things learned during that childhood will last forever. They will impact them as adults, and will affect how they parent, what kind of spouse they are, how they treat their friends and coworkers, how they treat strangers on the street, and how they treat themselves.

My son is so sensitive.  He feels, like myself, all the feelings all the time. He loves fiercely and he weeps passionately.  He is kind, and sweet, and tender, and while the world may say that’s a bad thing and he needs to toughen up, I say the world is wrong. I say he was made this way for a reason, and he has so much to offer this broken world.

This world is full of the tough, the cold, and the hard. Why would we want to raise our children to be that way? And why are so many parents teaching their children,  especially boys, that crying is for sissies, or showing your emotions is weak, or that having a tender heart is a bad thing? Being soft in this hard world isn’t weak.  It’s incredibly brave.

If we don’t teach our children how to navigate these emotions and social conflicts when they are young and we are able to help, then they will be 25 years old and have no coping skills or defense mechanisms. They will be 45 years old and be cold and hard, and instead of facing their problems, they will be adults who stuff their problems down, and find other ways, most likely unhealthy ways, to cope. They will turn to drugs or alcohol or sex or something else as an outlet because they have spent all this time being shown and told that who they are is wrong and bad, and so they will live their whole lives feeling wrong in their own skin. It will be too much, and they will have to find some way to cope. And when not taught and shown how to do so in healthy and constructive ways, when you shut the door on them crying instead of holding them close and comforting them, that’s going to matter. That is going to affect them long term.

That’s not what I want for my child. I want him to embrace who is is. I want him to know that no matter what I love him, and I am here for him, and I will help him through anything, even if the world seems to be against him. I want him to learn how to cope, how to handle the fact that life is fair, because it isn’t. I don’t want to change his world for him, but I   do want him to be prepared to live in this world. I want him to be comfortable in his skin, and with who he is as a person. To be kind, to love, to cope, to know when to stick and when to walk.  He is a wonderful person. Why would I want to  change that?  Why would any of us want to change our children, when we can nurture who they are?

I don’t want my child to have to recover from his childhood.

It’s not Me, It’s You.  

 Today I  reached my limit. Today I turned a corner. 
For years I listened and absorbed the words from others in my life, words like, “you’re too shy/reserved/quiet/introverted, you’re not enough.” Until I felt bad enough about who I was to force myself to be someone else. Then I heard things like, “You’re too loud/assertive/hard/abrupt/black&white, You’re too much.” But always I have heard, “You’re to emotional/intense/passionate/strong/weak.” “Do this,” followed by , “why did you do that?” 
Enough. It’s enough.  Yes, I am passionate, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I can get loud about it. Some things I see in black and white, and other times, I acknowledge, and sometimes even promote, those shades of gray. I love Jesus, and I occasionally drop the F-Bomb. I am human, and readily admit that. But I finally realized something today. I finally realized that I am neither “too much” nor am I “not enough. ” the problem is with those who believe that I am either “too much” or “not enough. ” I am passionate.  There is a lot to be passionate about,  isn’t there? I get angry at injustice,  and annoyed when I see abuse of the sytem, I get loud when I witness someones rights being violated, when I witness discrimination, or believe that someone is being treated unfairly, child abuse, drug abuse, human trafficking,  neglect, the list goes on and on with reasons on why we should get passionate. But so often those close to us, who are supposed to support and encourage us, end up being the very same ones who condemn us for not being a quiet, meek, presence.  

And when I start to feel like I have to change my personality on the whim of someone else,  the very personality that pushed me to get a degree while fighting addiction and working to be a single parent, the personality that gave me the strength to be a successful, albeit struggling single parent,  that made it possible for me to advocate for others,  to help others, to pursue sobriety (6 years next month Go Me!) I get really upset. 

Never again will I change the fundamental characteristics of who I am that have served me so well to please someone else, someone who is unable to be pleased because the truth is: They are unhappy with themselves.  Not me. And I won’t change who I am, by nature,  or even made to feel bad about who I am, because someone else can’t deal with who they are.  
Come on people.  It’s not that hard. Word hard, pursue your goals, pay your bills, love your family,  and love yourself.  Society doesn’t have to dictate your personality If you don’t let it. 

Totally Redeemable Lives.

In light of all the nasty comments I keep reading surrounding the heroin epidemic, these are my thoughts.

If a diabetic goes on a sugar binge, then gets in the car, goes into a sugar coma, and crashes, will you just let him die? It was, after all, his fault for eating sugar. Same with the person texting and driving. Will you let them die, because they made a bad choice, knowing it was dangerous to themselves and others.

It’s easy to stay separate until it affects you and your family. Likewise it is easy to become cold and distance yourself if you have been hurt by a loved one who is an addict. But if you’re not apart of the solution than you are part of the problem.

Rehab is not enough. Taking away the drug or drink is not enough. You don’t become an addict in 28 days, you don’t get well in 28 days. The drug may cause problems, but removing it alone won’t fix it. Just like removing guns won’t stop violence.

Simply because the act of using is a symptom of something much deeper. Something gone very wrong in the heart of the individual. Just like something has gone very wrong in the heart of a teenager who chooses to shoot up his school.

And before someone says it’s not the same thing, I realize that. But it does boil down to an issue much deeper than the act of getting high. Some people can go and drink a beer or two. And some cant. No two people are the same. What works for one might not work for the next.

A very high percentage of addicts suffered some type of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse that was never dealt with. Others became addicted due to pain meds, and yet others simply started out by partying on the weekends and it was out of control before they knew it. You can never pinpoint the exact cause for everyone.

That being said, rehab is a good place to start. Let the mind clear, and then you have a starting point. Typically the emotional maturity of an individual stops when the using of drugs starts. So if the 30 year old addict started using at 15, when she suddenly gets clean, she is left with the coping skills and emotions of a 15 year old, and without the buffer of drugs. She needs the support services and help to learn how to handle emotions, the ups and downs of every day life, how to hold a job, manage money, keep a schedule, even how to just sit and be still, and though it may sound silly, how to be bored. Being still is something I struggled (and still do) with. After years of running constantly to get my fix, I didn’t know what to do with my time. Even with almost 5 years clean, sometimes it’s hard for me to be bored. Also, most addicts thrive when they are able to help someone. When they fill the hole inside with being a support to others, to building someone else up. That is why AA and NA have sponsors. And the addict has to learn how to build a support system that will last a lifetime. Addiction is something that never goes away, you can be clean for years, but you can never stop fighting to keep it that way. Occasionally you may hear a story of someone who was addicted and was able to just put it down and walk away. But for most that doesn’t work.

Contrary to popular belief, an addict doesn’t see life as one big party. The life of an addict is literal hell. And they can’t get out alone. Each time  I see a news report about another life lost to addiction, another family with out a mother, another mother who lost their child, it hurts me.  I take it personal, because it is personal.  My heart breaks a little bit more for each of them and their families. And when I read the hateful comments, I am tempted to hide my own story to save myself from the anger and the nasty comments. Instead, I try to continually humble myself, sharing my story, not because I want glory for my sobriety, but because talking helps keep ME sober, and because I pray that maybe someone struggling will come across my story on social media or on my blog, and just maybe it will give them hope. There IS a way out, there can be peace, and his name is Jesus.

Not for a moment can I, or anyone else in recovery from drugs and alcohol, forget. Not for a single moment do we stop fighting for our sobriety, for our very lives. Not even in sleep do we stop fighting.  I still have what I have heard called drug dreams, insanely vivid and disturbing dreams where I am using drugs, and even in those dreams I fight. I wake up sweaty and shaking, and sometimes even feeling a little bit of the euphoria that drugs used to give me. It terrifies me. But it’s truth. 

 

 Wake up World… Addiction is not going away. You can not just sweep it under the rug.  And no amount of hate and nasty comments are going to help.

 

The Price Of Normality.

Someone told me a story today about a girl she knows who was 5 years clean and relapsed. She lost every thing she had worked for, again. She has to start over from the bottom. Again.

I’m not going to lie. As I come up on my five year mark, stories like that scare me. They terrify me at a deep down level. Stories like that are why I keep my family so close, and Jesus closest.

That being said, I’m crying out to my family and friends. I don’t plan on slipping, but if I do, catch me. Call me out. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to love me enough to ask the hard ones. For the sake of myself, of all that I love, of my relationship with each one of you, for the sake of my sweet child. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I feel like I (or any of you) have to pretend or hide what we have been through, and most importantly what WE have overcome through Grace. I see Jesus in the way you love me, in the way you loved me then, and in the way you love me now.

God has a plan for me. A calling on my life, to use me. I plan to see that out. But not alone. My mistake before was thinking I could do it alone. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now. We all are apart of each others stories. Let’s make it a happy one

Joy in the Mourning.

This is a very personal post for me. I’ve been going back and forth for several days on whether or not to even write it. God has been doing some shaping and molding inside of me,  and it’s been difficult,  and sometimes just downright hard for me.

I’m not usually afraid of sharing personal things, but usually when I share, I share about things I have already been through, from a safe place, when I can calmly look back and describe the awesome things God has done for me. It’s not often I am brave enough to share while I’m going through things. I’m much more comfortable when I know the outcome and am in the safe zone. for instance,  I don’t mind to tell you that there was a time I struggled with addiction and mental illness,  but it’s difficult for me to say, “I’m feeling really low. I’m struggling. I’m afraid.”

Frankly, it’s not God’s intention that we live our lives in the Safe Zone. He calls us to do hard things, purposely, so that we lean on Him, trust in Him to get us through and to provide for us. If we balk, and decide we don’t want to do what he calls us to do, he will simply find someone else who will.

It’s been a difficult year for our family. We lost our beloved Gramps, Gramma Jeanette,  and my Great Grandmother.  We have shared in each others grief,  financial struggles, illnesses, and fear. And we have found peace in the storm together.  I have an awesome, tight knit family. I never ever doubt if they will be there. Life is hard. But at least we are doing it together.

That being said, over the last few weeks, I have started to drift away from my walk with Christ. I am embarrassed to admit this, but it’s true.  I have traded my morning quiet time to scroll through Facebook, rushing through my prayers, bypassing worshiping in the car on my way to work, and even found myself distracted during church on Sundays, looking at my phone or doodling, my mind drifting to who knows where. I have been going through the motions, my heart absent. It has not been an intentional thing, but a product of fear, and frustration. A tactic of the enemy, to distract me and pull me away from God. And the further I drift the more lackadaisical I become about making time for Jesus. The more lackadaisical I become, the more I’m drifting. Truthfully, I’m struggling. I’m filled with anxiety and fear, and I am tired of slapping a smile on my face and faking it. Some days I am overwhelmed with saddness, and I hide in the bathroom and cry. Then I wipe my eyes, splash water on my face, and I pretend everything is great. I end up feeling (and acting) bitter and nasty, resenting the people I love and cherish. My family, coworkers, nobody has been safe from my nasty mood. I kept thinking, “ugh! Get a grip Michelle!” I am madly in love with my husband, I adore my son, I have an b incredible family, I love my job, and I have some seriously awesome coworkers! I know these things, but I couldn’t shake the black cloud that was hovering over me.

A few days ago, I hit a low, feeling like I wasn’t being appreciated and was being taken for granted. My kid, my husband,  work. No matter what I did I felt like it was never good enough. My mood started to sink,  and I started to feel like I would never measure up. I would never be a good enough mama for my sweet boy, or a good enough wife for my man. No matter what I do, I’m just getting in the way and I’ll never ever measure up. I have been lost and drowning in anxiety, not sleeping and getting headaches, and terrified that something bad was coming; so incredibly sure that something was gonna happen that would rock my world, and not in a good way. I didn’t want to get out of bed, or shower, or do anything.  In a weird, out of body way, I saw myself losing it,  and I was helpless to stop.

It was then that I cried out to God, “Where are you! I can’t hear you,  I don’t know where to go or what to do, I don’t know what is expected of me or how to make things right.  Why have you left me!  God, this isnt fair! Please let me hear you!”  Fueled by fear, nerves, and anger I let loose.

And on and on I prayed, my thoughts racing and my heart pounding, like a hurricane inside me. And all of a sudden i heard Him, a firm, quiet but strong, small voice that was impossible to ignore from deep inside said, “you’re not listening.”

And just like that, the internal storm died down, and I fell to my knees weeping. Once I collected myself, I started paying attention to the small details again. What books am I reading? Why am I talking this way? What am I listening to? What am I talking about to others? Am I choosing joy? Why am I complaining?  Where do my expectations lie? Where do I find my self worth? Is my life proof of God’s great love?

I am a people pleaser. But am I striving to please others so that they “love me more” or so that I can finally be “good enough?” Or am I striving to love and serve people because I DO love them, and that is who and what I am called to be.  And how fair is it to my husband for me to always need his reassurance that he loves me and that he is glad I am his wife? He is human, like me. So how can I expect him to be the source of my self worth and meet all of my expectations?  how can I expect him to never let me down? How can I expect him to be perfect. .. I’m sure not perfect.

I cant. Just as I can’t meet all of his expectations, there is no way he can meet all of mine. By putting him on this pedestal and in this position, I am setting us both up for resentment, anger, and a world of hurt and disappointment. My expectations should be on Jesus.  My worth comes from the Father, Abba, who lovingly and patiently reminds me that if I want to hear him, than I need to stop complaining and start listening.

This morning after I dropped my sweet boy off, I cranked the worship music and sang my heart out. I praised God for all the good and faithful ways he has cared for our family, and for me. And I was thinking, what do I want more than  anything?

And the answer was there, right in front of everything else. I want to know Him more.  I want to be foolishly and joyfully in love with him. I want to be intimate with him. I want to follow Him with reckless abandon, because I Know that he is always good, and always faithful.

Even when I’m not. Because it doesn’t matter how “good” I am, because He is good. Always.

A Letter to my Daughter-In-Law

When I look at my son, I see my baby.  I see the sweet boy who twirls my hair when he is sleepy, the boy who loves to dance in the rain, and play in the dirt.  I see the baby we brought home from the hospital in a blizzard in early March 7 years ago.   I see the child that is my greatest joy, my greatest pride, and my biggest source of frustration.

But the fact of the matter is, I am not raising a boy.   I am raising a man.  A man that will one day leave the nest, have a job, and become a husband and father…two of the most important jobs on the planet.  Am I raising him to excel at these jobs? Each day I am gifted with my son, and as his mother, it is my job to ensure that when he is grown he is equipped with the skills to go out into the world and thrive.

Maybe it seems silly that I find myself wondering about the woman my sweet boy will one day call his wife when he is just 7 years old.  Silly or not, I do wonder.  I find myself thinking about what she will be like; will she have a tender heart, like him? What are her parents like?  Are they raising her to love Jesus above all other things and people?  Is she being cherished, loved, nurtured, and enjoying her childhood?  Will she be strong enough to understand my boy, and gentle enough to love him when he is struggling?     More importantly, I wonder what type of man he will be, what type of husband and father he will be.

So, with that –

 

To My future Daughter-in-Law, 

There are a lot of things I want to tell you, and while they won’t all be covered in this letter, I think it is a good start.    I don’t know you yet, but I think about you, and pray for you often.  And even though I don’t know you yet, I love you.   I love you because my son will love you, and you will love him.  In so many ways you are going to take my place.   My sweet, silly, sticky fingered little boy will be a man, and no longer will it be me he kisses goodnight, or snuggles up with on the couch.  No longer will it be my hand he is holding when he crosses the street.  It will be yours.   I will no longer be the most important girl to him.  You will be.  He will find peace in your arms, and he will look at you and adore you.   He will share his dreams with you, his fears, his happiness.  He will no longer seek comfort in me, but in you.   Someday,  the heart that beats against my heart when I hold him, will beat against yours. 

I pray that right now you are being loved well.  Just as my son is everything to me, you are everything to your parents.  I pray you are being taught what a gift you are, and that you are confident of your worth.  I pray you are delighted in, cherished, and treasured.  I pray that you are upheld and believed in, encouraged to dream.  I pray that you are being taught to love yourself well, so that you are able to love others well.  I pray that if for some reason those around you are not showing you how special you are, you can look to God and see the truth.  That you know that God see’s you as a princess. I pray you are not afraid to use your own voice, but are able to speak in such a way that encourages and lifts, yourself, and others.  I pray that you speak this way to my son.  That you speak life into him, and into your marriage.  Men need to be lifted up, and respected. 

I want you to know that I am raising my son the same way, and to see you the way God see’s you.    I want you to understand that you will not complete my son, and neither will he complete you.  God is the only one who can complete us and make us whole, and I hope you are being raised to seek Him first, and to love Him above all else.   If both seek God first, than together you will have a solid foundation.  You will be a partnership, a team. You will edify each other, and  together you will be stronger than you are alone. 

I  hope that you love him well.  That you are playful, and silly. That you make him laugh.  I pray that you are strong enough to support him, and gentle when he is hurting.  I am not a perfect mother, and I make mistakes.  He is not a perfect person either, he will make mistakes, you will make mistakes, and I pray that you both are able to see past those mistakes, and love each other through them.  The world we live in is messy and screwy.  I strive to raise him to see past and through all that, to be in the moment, with family and friends. I ask you to be on board with this. To encourage it, and to live in the moment with him.  To take advantage of opportunity to build one another up. 

I promise you that I will not try to come between the two of you.  I will let you in, I will welcome you, and I will love you.  I am teaching my son the value of treasuring the heart of a woman.  To protect it.  He has quirks, and little habits that one day you willknow better than anyone else.  Encourage that, encourage him to be himself, I am encouraging him to do the same for you. 

I am raising my son in a way that he will know how to be strong, and gentle. Courageous and fearless, but humble and able to ask for help.  I am teaching him to lead, but also to be able to be apart of team.  I am teaching him that to be the best, we must first serve others.  We are called to love each other, and to do what we can to serve one another.  I pray that he leads you and your children well, that he will understand how honorable his role as a father and husband are, and that he fills these roles, living with integrity, humility, honor, and faithfulness.  I pray that he will always serve you, and you him. I pray that in times of trouble, you hold each other, but turn to God.  I am teaching him to know who he  is in Christ, and in himself. That he always follows the dreams God gives him, and that nothing and no one, even you will stand in his way.   I pray these things for you also.  

I am working hard to raise my sweet boy to be independent.  To be able to make decisions, and lead.  I am teaching him that I am his mother, and no one else can fill that role, but that it is important to have other women in his life, and to know how special they are.  I want him to cherish his relationship with me, his aunts, his grandmothers, and especially with you.  I am raising him so that he will never forget that you, too, are someones daughter and granddaughter, and that before you belonged to him, you belonged to God and to your own parents.   I promise to plant seeds in his mind and in his heart, seeds of love that will grow and spread.  I promise that even though you love to do things for him, that he will know how to do dishes, cook, do laundry, and clean, so that he will help you, and you never feel you are taken for granted, because he will never expect you to do it all alone.  I promise to teach him how to love you when it is fun and easy, but also when it is hard, and your crying and sad.  I will teach him that it is normal for women to cry, and the important thing is that he comforts you, and stands with you through it. 

I pray that you embrace each other each day, that every day your love for each other grows and over flows. that the life you build together is strong and centered on Christ, and that you pass the loves and the work on to your own children.    Life is hard, and though I am working to teach my son to choose to love people, instead of needing them, there will be days that he does need you, and you will also need him.  I pray you are there for each other.  I pray that each day you spend with my son is spent well, and that even when things feel like they are falling apart you can rest easy knowing that we both love you, to the moon and back.  

 

We have a lot of time before I meet you.  So until then I will pray for you, and for your family.  I will pray for your relationship with Jesus, and for your heart.  And when I meet you, and my son loves you, I will love you even more than I already do. One day you will not be some faceless girl on my heart, neither will you be the girl who married my son.  One day you will become my daughter.  

Silly Fun
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