To be sorry…

The door swung open to my right as the lukewarm water splashed over my hands in the sink.

“Excuse me.” Said the woman pushing her way through the bathroom door.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” The words spilled out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying. As I finished drying my hands, the elderly woman closing the stall door quietly said, “Never be sorry,” with a smirk.

I politely smiled as I started to walk out the door, face flushed red at the admonition. Good Lord, why do I always say I’m sorry for everything?

“Sorry, I’m in your way, sorry I’m in line before you, sorry I’m breathing, sorry I’m alive..”

It’s what I say.

It’s this annoying, knee-jerk response I have to any inconvenience, even if I did absolutely nothing to be sorry about.

“Why do I do that?” I muttered to myself under my breath as I walked to the car.

Exhaling deeply, I fastened my seatbelt as I thought about those words the woman exhaled.

“Never be sorry.”

They sound wise.

All of the things that I was sorry for began marching through my mind. The list was long.

Turning out of the parking lot, I turned down the radio so I could hear my own thoughts a little more closely.

“Never be sorry,” I whispered to myself. I like the idea of never being sorry, it’s like “no regrets.” But truth be told, I am sorry. I do regret. It sounds so virtuous to never be sorry, to yell at the top of my lungs, “no regrets!”

The problem is, I have lots of regrets.

There’s plenty of things I wish would’ve done and even more, I wish I wouldn’t have. Words I’ve spoken that I can never take back.. and so many I’ve left unsaid.

“What right does she have to tell me to never be sorry?” I asked the silence sitting next to me.

Frowning, I realized I was being unfair. She may have been sorry about many things in her life and wanted to give a little encouragement to those that still have many days of regret ahead. I don’t know the life she’s lived.

But nonetheless, I’m sorry.

It’s okay to be sorry

Reading this morning about King David and his life in I and II Samuel I noticed that he was a man who was sorry. Psalm 51 is one of the greatest “I’m sorry’s” in the whole Bible. At its simplest, it is an I’m sorry for what I did. In return, God extends His gracious forgiveness.

“For I acknowledge my transgressions…against you, you only, have I sinned. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51: 1,3,4

If we’re sorry, a true repentant sorry, that’s never a bad thing. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There is so much to be sorry for. And quite frankly, that’s okay.

Having said that, I don’t think God intends for us to walk around constantly sorry. The point of this Psalm and the forgiveness we find in Jesus is restoration. We can be sorry but then we move on in the grace and freedom we find in Him.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Looking up the various meanings for steadfast within the Bible, the word translates to be firmly established, stable, secure or settled. I just love that. We say, “I’m sorry” and in return, he gives stability and security.

That sounds like freedom to me.

Even within our earthly relationships, there is so much to gain from being sorry. In parenting, I have learned the importance of saying I’m sorry to my children when I’ve messed up. For years I did not realize that it is as essential in our relationship, if not more so, for me to speak I’m sorry as it is for them to say it.

There is a barrier that breaks down when they see the humanness of their mom. And for me, a perfect humility created within my own heart when I turn to them and ask for forgiveness.

I believe this seeking and giving forgiveness is a basic relational component designed by God for us with Him and each other.

So, next time I knee-jerk speak those 2 words, I’m sorry, I’ll be a little nicer to myself. Even if not completely necessary at the time, I’d rather be open to being sorry and the freedom that comes with it, than not.

 

 

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“How do you know it will be ok?”

The scene is epic, an edge-of-your-seat thriller…for a 5-year-old.

Let me paint the picture for you if you’ve never seen Finding Nemo. (Or possibly only once and not 100 times like I have)

Dory and Marlin are in the mouth of a whale, after Dory spoke a little whalenese (yes, that’s a word) (no, it’s really not, but I like to keep you on your toes) to a whale for help, they end up sucked into its mouth. Anyway, they’re holding on for dear life to the tongue of the whale as it’s lifting it up to swallow.

Dory hears the whale give her the ok to go because remember, she speaks whalenese. So, she let’s go.

Marlin panics and grabs hold of Dory with one fin and the whales’ tongue with the other.

(Edge. Of. Your. Seat.)

“It’s time to let go, everything is going to be alright,” declares Dory.

Marlin shouts in reply, eyes wide, “How do you know?” “How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?”

“I don’t,” Dory says with a shake of her little fishy head.

That Dory.. she’s got some wisdom, am I right?

Control Issues

Something stands out to me every single time I watch this.

I’m a lot like Marlin. A lot. We’re pretty much pals, buds; *Fist/fin bump.

Both Marlin and I want to stay safe at all cost. We want assurance that absolutely nothing bad will happen before we choose to do it. We want control.

You see, if you’re anything like ol’ Marlin and me, anxiety and fear can tend to dictate our every choice.  This is especially true when it comes to situations where we have little to no control. We like control. No, we LOVE control.

Let me give you an example. I don’t enjoy flying. I actually hate flying. I mean, come on,  it’s just not natural. We’re not meant to be 30,000 feet up in the air. With our loved ones. In a tin can. With a seat belt (like that’s going to help.)

In this situation I am Marlin, sweating bullets, waiting to board and asking, “how do you know nothing bad is going to happen?” My best buddy, anxiety, is always so eager to whisper, “Let’s just stay local and save yourself the possible bad outcome. ”

Aw, isn’t that just thoughtful, he’s really looking out for me.

With anxiety and fear comes an intense need to control. If I could just see the future and that plane landing safely than we’d be good! Hand me my ticket and I’ll be skipping down the ramp, whistlin’ Dixie.

But when I don’t know the outcome? Well, I better just stay back where I’m safe and nothing bad can happen. Let’s not go bursting our little comfort bubble that anxiety has carefully put in place.

The funny thing about anxiety is that it promises you freedom, but in reality, your world grows a little smaller each time you listen to it. There have been so many times I’ve been so terrified of the outcome that I’ve simply walked away.

And I’ve regretted it. Every. Single. Time.

Where do you seek to control?

Maybe for you, it’s not a plane, maybe you’re fine with heights.. (weirdo.) I’m totally kidding. I’m just jealous you can get on a plane without a panic attack.

All kidding aside because I know how awful it feels to have anxiety control you.  Maybe for you, it’s allowing your kids to go somewhere without you, sending them to a friends’ house or camp. Something bad could happen to them and how would you handle that? Worse yet, it’d be your fault. Better to keep them home where it’s safe.

Maybe it’s taking a job or moving, what if you make the wrong choice? Better to stay where you are.

What about that desire that you’ve had tucked in your heart for years to go out and try? But what if you fail? Better to not try at all.

Or quite possibly you’re like I was years ago when even the everyday things were a challenge. Maybe you’re so caught in anxiety that it feels scary to even go outside or to socialize.. or to be alone. Maybe every day is just terrifying.

If this is the case, can I just say, I’m sorry. I really, really am. I know how it feels. I wish I could reach through this screen and give you a hug.

Please hear me when I say this;

It does get better.

I promise.

I have lived with debilitating anxiety, panic and depression. I have learned to fight it one lie at a time and because of this, I stand before you a different woman today. But it did not happen overnight.

Let me tell you one little thing that I have learned that has helped me with this controlling, anxious nature that seems to cling to me.

I do it anyway. And I do it afraid.

There are literally countless stories in the bible of people who “did it afraid.” I don’t have time to share all of them here, but let me give you one little snippet from the life of Paul the Apostle.

“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without and fears within..” 2 Cor. 7:5

Did you catch that? “Fears within.” Paul was not immune to the feelings that we feel. He had fears within. But did he stop? No, he didn’t. He did it afraid.

Whether you’re out preaching for the Lord in dangerous situations or simply trying to make it through your day. Continue to do it, and do it afraid if you have to.

We may do it afraid, but we don’t do it alone.

There’s no guarantee that nothing bad will happen and that is a scary place to be when you know the whole control thing is really just an illusion. In fact, Jesus said bad things will happen. But you know what else he said

“..in Me you have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I find myself in a situation that frightens me, I look at it as a fork in the road. Anxiety calls me in one direction and Jesus calls me in the other.

I have a choice..

It might look scary walking the way Jesus is calling me, but I can tell you this, I have never once regretted it. Not once. And I can say confidently that neither will you. If you trust Him with who he says he is, then you can trust that he is in control. We may not know the future and every possible outcome, but He does.

This world is scary and uncertain, there’s just no way around it. Bad, scary things happen. But Jesus overcame it.

Believing in Jesus is being in Jesus.

That my friend makes you an overcomer. He overcame it, so you have overcome it.

That is true control.

Take some time to think about this. He wants you to know the peace that He bought with His life. It’s yours, just like that. You don’t have to do a single thing. Just believe.

You will feel afraid.  Anxiety isn’t going to just up and walk away. But when you know who you are and whose you are, life just doesn’t look as scary anymore. The more you believe and the more you choose Him over the anxiety, the more you will feel the peace He promises.

Bottom line, the more you face the fear the more it backs down.

That’s what I mean by doing it anyway and doing it afraid. Let Him prove himself to you. Choose the scary and He’ll meet you there. I promise.

But more importantly, He promises.

Thankfully, for us anxious folks, we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to “jump” and just chance it. We can jump and know with certainty that He has a plan and it is perfect, no matter what.

I long to be like Dory, when Jesus says, “it’s time to let go.”

I want to reply with a leap.  

My greatest goal is to trust beyond my fear and all the, “what if’s” and “worst case scenarios.” When I’m wanting to control, I strive to look to the one that is in control. To simply trust Him enough with my very being that I just jump.

He is faithful, you know. He is. I’ve seen it first hand. Let’s hold fins, trust Him and jump. What do ya say?

 

What frightens you? What situation is causing you to fear and want to back out because you don’t have control?

**Stay with me awhile, I’ll be sharing about His faithfulness in my life through anxiety. This is one of many posts that I’ll be working on in the next few weeks in overcoming anxiety. 

 

 

 

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You are Irreplaceable

I bet now there’s a Beyoncé song running through your head since reading the title?

No?

“To the left, to the left..”

Well, now there is.. you’re welcome.

I’m so easily distracted. Let’s get back to where we were, shall we?

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, you, no doubt, have been asked the question, “Where do you work?” Here begins the awkward dance. And in the defense of the questioner, I’m pretty sure I’m the one startin’ the two-step.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” I reply.

You are Irreplaceable

Here it comes.. the old cliché that I dread hearing. “Well, that’s a job all in itself!” Or, “You don’t ever get time off do you?!” And my personal favorite, “You have the hardest job in the world!” (I cringe every time I hear this response.)

Then, I smile and give my best- oh, it’s no big deal, humble, stay-at-home mom nod. I agree with them and lament the “hardness” of my job, because, well, that’s what you do. We continue on with our conversation, all the while, I can’t decide if they believe what they just said, or for that matter if I do.

It’s a dance I hate and if I wasn’t so conscientious of the dance, here’s what I’d actually like to say.

I don’t think you believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world…”

Let’s just get this out of the way; yes, I’m extremely cynical. Ok, good, moving on.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve come to the conclusion in my experience that it’s mostly a trite response. You know, like when someone asks, “how are you today?” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t respond with, “Awful, worst day ever, thanks for asking.”

I also have come to see that we as moms struggle with our own value in motherhood.

How often have you said, “I’m just,” before the reply “a stay-at-home mom?”

(Maybe you’re not like me, maybe you’re secure in your value as a full-time mom. If so, I admire that about you.. teach me your ways.)

I’ve done it a thousand times. “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

Followed by: “I used to be..” *Just in case there were any questions I promise, I have value. 

For some reason, I felt I was doing my part for society when I went to work. I could wear the shiny little badge that proudly proclaimed, I am a working part of society!

So, finding value in my job, as you can imagine, wasn’t a great thing when I came to the frightening realization that;

I am replaceable.

If you’re like I was, seeking value in something where I was easily replaced, it’s an exhausting thing. You’re always running a race you’ll never win.

I became fully aware of this when I was working full-time after my second son was born. Taking time off meant someone else would be doing my job. We then had some changes within our childcare situation and I had to decide to either stay home or take my boys to daycare.

Although I had a desire to be home, it still scared me. Where was my value if I didn’t have my career?

Essentially, I felt invisible without it.

If we are being completely honest anyone can do our “job,” (Well, maybe not if you’re the star NFL quarterback or the greatest physicist alive. I guess maybe you’re good there.. you’ve got the market on that one.) But really, even then you’ll die one day, someone younger and better will take your place. That’s just all there is to it.

(I know, I’m just full of positivity.) But hey, congrats, my point has arrived!

As a mom I am irreplaceable.

I am essential.

I am the only one that can love and care for my children in the way that they need. So, when I think of where I am now, as a mom, I think of it as a privilege. I think of it as the ultimate gift and quite frankly, the greatest blessing.

It has taken me quite some time to not only be confident in saying this but to be comfortable with it as well. When I am struggling with the truth of my value I remember these 3 words,

I am irreplaceable. 

You are irreplaceable. 

You are the ONLY mother your kids have. While I’m sure this is no new revelation, I don’t think we stop enough to breathe that information in. To really STOP and THINK about the fact that these precious souls are our responsibility. They are not only growing physically but emotionally as well. We are gifted with walking alongside them, guiding, directing, correcting and loving them every step of the way.

When I am in that place of not believing in my worth as a stay-at-home mom, I am listening to a society that doesn’t find value in a mother. What she contributes every single day to raise children, men, and women. We are raising the men and women that one day will be our neighbors, our doctors, our policemen or teachers or clerks at the grocery store. Decent, loving, intentionally taught human beings that will find value in and have compassion for other human beings.

That is the only job where I am irreplaceable.

Realizing this has brought me some peace in my fear of being replaced.

With that said, I wish I could tell you I never struggle with this any longer, but that’d be a lie (I’d rather not start our relationship off that way) So, I’m being honest, I do still struggle with my worth as a stay-at-home mom.

As with any other lie, there is a truth uncovered in the scriptures about Gods character that I believe helps kill the lie;

He sees you.

Hagar was running away. She was pregnant with a child from another woman’s husband, a man who was her master. She was basically a surrogate but She was not loved. I’m sure she must’ve felt used. She was Egyptian and she wanted to go home. So she ran.. She ended up with a spring of water in the wilderness and guess who found her there? Genesis 16:7 says the angel of the Lord found her.

He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answers Him and He proceeds to give her a quick synopsis of her future, including the name of her soon-to-be son. After this discussion with God, (I know, no biggie, right?) she gives Him a name based on what she experienced out of this interaction.

Genesis 16:13 says, Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her,

“you are the God who sees;”

He saw her. Truly, He, the God of everything, took his time to see her, an Egyptian woman who was really not worth much in the eyes of the world.

He sees you too.

Indeed, He knows that what you are doing truly is the hardest job in the world, even if no other soul acknowledges that, He does.

You have a loving Father who is walking this life with you. Caring for you and shepherding you every step of the way as you shepherd your little ones. You and I can rest in the fact that even if this world says we are replaceable, He does not.

Let’s make a pact to believe this together when we’re fighting against the lies, ok?

We are irreplaceable..

What makes you feel replaceable? Are you a stay-at-home mom, working mom or somewhere in between? Do you struggle to find value in your title? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Carry on

She would’ve been 92 today. 92..

Had she not passed away nearly 8 years ago.

I remember her lying helpless in her hospital bed, appearing tiny and shrunken under the scratchy blanket. Having suffered a stroke a few days earlier, by the time we came to the hospital she was fading fast. We were told there was nothing more they could do.

And so we waited.

The days that followed had people telling me “At least she had a long life,” to which, I wanted to reply, “I’ll be sure to tell you that when you’re dying.” But I refrained, simply nodding dutifully to the awkwardness that accompanies death. I didn’t care how long her life was… I wasn’t ready for her to go.

Carry on…

 

Carry On…

It’s what she said the day she had the stroke. It was the last words out of her mouth as the bleeding in her brain took over her functioning mind.

She was stuck on repeat, “carry on, carry on..” Over and over, gazing carefully at each of us from across the room with intensely ice-blue eyes that were her signature.

There we stood, roughly seventeen of us, without my little brother who was traveling our way. Tears rolling down faces, not realizing these were her last words, but completely comprehending she was saying goodbye and trying her best to send a message with the little she could say.

Carry On…

I would come and go from the hospital that week, not sure what to do and completely uncertain about how to watch someone I loved so dearly die. I was familiar with death at a young age, but it was mostly sudden and violent. I was quickly realizing I wasn’t accustomed to the long goodbye and didn’t care for it either. She could no longer eat and the thought that she was starving to death tormented me.

The week she died I was fighting a cold that I denied was anything but allergies to continue to gain access to the ICU. My sister-in-law sat in a chair keeping vigil overnight, soaking my sweet grandmother’s lips with water from a sponge. She was selfless and unafraid of death like I was.

Dragging myself back to the hospital in the morning I found her still sitting. I immediately felt shame for having gone home overnight and for the weakness that accompanied my very being.

April looked up from what she was working on in the corner and smiled.

“How was she?” I asked. Staring at my grandmother, who appeared small, almost like a child in the bulky hospital bed.

“Same.” She answered. “They say that your hearing is the last thing to go before you die so I’ve been talking with her,” April said, thoughtfully.

“Do you think?” I trailed off, motioning to the empty space next to my grandmother’s wilting frame on the bed.

“Of course, get up there next to her, talk with her.” April patted the bed and then my arm. “I’m going to go downstairs for a bit and leave you two alone.” She disappeared out the door and I carefully climbed up next to my grandmother on the bed.

Don’t forget her hands… 

With everything I loved about her, I probably loved her hands the most. Lifting her fragile hand into my own, I studied them, they were weathered and knotted from arthritis that had ravaged them. I stroked her hand lovingly, tracing the raised veins with my fingers. Remembering her diamond wedding band that once circled her finger, big enough to fit over her knuckles, yet too big to stay stationary once on.

Her hand, dwarfed by my much larger one, rested in my open palm. With our fingers next to each other, my hand was much larger, this was true, but my fingers were long and delicate like I imagine hers once were. “Piano hands,” she had always called them, though I barely knew to play, and poorly at that.

Wynona, or “Ginger,” as she was called by most, was a small woman, maybe five foot two at her tallest. I towered over her at five foot eight. “Gro-mo,” had become my brothers’ silly nick-name they would tease her with as they’d engulf her tiny frame with a hug.

Though small in stature, she was mighty in love. I sat in awe, being pulled back in time and thrust into the future all at once. These hands had cared for me and in a matter of days, they’d be gone. They cleaned up after me as a baby and looked after me as a woman when broken by anxiety. Whether a baby or a woman.. they comforted me.

Sobbing, I stared lovingly at those hands, trying with all of my might to memorize them.

Carry on…

My mind drifted to the life she had seen, the work those hands had done. She was born in a time when little was had. Carried in a womb that didn’t necessarily want her. Her mother had cinched her in so tight by corset that she had a club foot when she was born and struggled with the pain of it all her life. Called a bastard when she was young and never knowing for sure who her real father was. Raised primarily by her grandparents in the oil fields of Oklahoma, she went out on her own at the tender age of 17. Traveling to California and as far away from the dust of Oklahoma as she could get. She worked hard, climbing San Francisco hills in 6-inch heels and raising a family at the same time. She was a career woman at a time when it wasn’t fashionable.

 

She had survived breast cancer 3 separate times and took the treatment so well that as a girl I thought cancer was tantamount to having a cold. Enduring an alcoholic, unfaithful husband for years and watching her only son spiral into drugs and eventually death, she was no stranger to heartache. She held her 2nd husband in her arms as he breathed his last breaths. She lovingly and faithfully held 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren. Strengthening her only daughter, my mother, as she laid her own son to rest far too early, she was ironclad. Love and devotion to her family and her Jesus were who she was. Those hands of hers cleaned up messes, wrestled rose bushes, patted away hurts, wrote out scripture and worked harder than any pair of hands that size should have. All the while belonging to a woman with a fierceness that belied her size.

Gently laying her hand on her chest, I thought simply,

And through it all, she carried on…

“Carry on,” she had said with a smile only my grandmother could give as she knew she was dying. It was wisdom. Wise advice from a woman who did just that. Through abandonment, pain, disease, grief, and heartache she carried on.

As long as I knew her, she never gave up and never sat it out. And with her last words to her beloved family, she said the thing that has shaped what I choose to do each day. When circumstances are not what I wish, when life is tough and when it is sweet…

I will choose to carry on. 

We’re carrying on grandmother and I think you’d be proud.

“I know the plae