When Something’s Gotta Go..

I’ve been in what feels like one of the most overwhelming times of my life. Some I can share with, others I can not. I know who to safely unload with and who would rather not hear it any more. Do you have those people? The ones who get a glazed over look in their eyes, like “here we go again”. Stop with those people. Love, but don’t share. They are done with hearing it.

Take it to God, find a good friend who never gets tired of you. Unload and reboot. When schedules are crazy, relationships are strained, kids are going back and forth, and work pressure is on, something’s gotta give…

I had one friend remind me that anxiety gets the best of us when we are taking on too much in advance. The “what ifs”?? “What about whens”? I have them. And, I was wisely reminded to take this day, our daily bread. One day at a time. We can’t change the past or “fix” the future, only live in this day. So, that’s where I’m starting. With today.

Today, I miss my girls. I already feel like I miss half their lives being a working and divorced mom, but last week my oldest was away at school and I haven’t seen her since. I cherish my time with them, yet when I get them back, they are tired, grouchy, hungry, annoyed with each other. Sounds like a pleasant time, huh? Still…I miss them.

When the pressure cooker of life is whistling like a freight train, we can’t throw our hands up and quit. Even “quitting” won’t fix certain things. For me, what’s gotta go is my concern of what others think of me. Add that like a cherry on top of our already stressful lives, and it’s bound to come tumbling down. Or I am, in a heap.

So, that’s what the Lord is leading me to today. “Take it out of the equation, Darla, because that’s the ingredient that will do you in.” Just like everything else He’s asked of me, I cannot do it on my own, He’s gonna have to help me. And, because I know He’s a loving Father, I will depend on Him to. I have reached my limit Lord, take it from me.

Something’s gotta go..

 

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I Hope You Dance….

This is how Mama dances…

Co-parenting is hard. When both parents want the kids all the time. When both parents want to be involved and at every milestone. Switching weekends and sharing holidays, scheduling trips, and forgetting clothes. When one parent doesn’t like the school choice of a parent or the new relationship of the other. When both parents want their kids in different activities. When both parents have different priorities and dreams for their children. When they attend different churches or one stops going altogether. When both parents care deeply for the kids but one couldn’t care less about the other parents feelings. When both parents….tug of war.

Parenting is hard enough….

My girls dad and stepmom have a more flexible work schedule than I do. Girls asked, so they signed them up for dance lessons. Not just dance class, but multiple classes, even elite companies and competitions. Lots of money and lots of time go into this.  A lot of “my time” with the girls is affected by their dance schedules now. But, theirs is too. Lord, help me. They pay for it and they make sure they get there (since I’m working when most of the classes start).

I can’t help but feel out of the loop, it’s more their thing than our thing. For me to nix it altogether just because I could or because I want them in different activities doesn’t seem fair either. Girls would wonder why?? So, I do my best to support, but it’s hard and it hurts.

Their dance schedules have taken over our lives. Four nights a week and weekends. It just feels like too much. I don’t like it when they miss church for it, I don’t like it when they miss school functions for it, and I don’t like that they aren’t on school teams because of it.

Once again, I feel held hostage by what he wants to do. I also feel like they’re missing out on other things and overextended. But, then I go and I watch them dance. I see the passion in my oldest’s eyes when she does. I see the improvement, confidence, posture, and elegance. She prays about dance. She wants to go to class, she wants to succeed, she wants to keep dancing. How could I deny that? So, I will say “thank you”. Thank you that they even have the opportunity. Because if it were just me, they wouldn’t. This isn’t easy, ya’ll.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure co-parenting lately. It’s stressful. Honestly, I have felt more pushed around than primary custodian because of all this. I feel like if this were my idea, I would get an earth shattering “No” from him. But, because it’s his or hers, it’s expected for me to go along with it. I’m not telling them what’s happening, they are telling me. None of this is easy.

I’m sure many of my issues with dance go back to my childhood. Dance was a “no no” growing up, in all forms. Of course, I wanted to. I think about how I have always loved to dance with a pure heart. I think about how beautiful a first dance is and how sweet a father/daughter dance would have been. I also think about how David danced before the Lord. I think about the athleticism involved, the artistry, creativity, and the outlet for expressing emotion. I think about the good things…but still worry about so much.

Once again, I struggle with what people will think and which battles to pick. But, Jesus says, “Look at Me”. In all things, all these hard and new things, I will look to Him and ask Him to calm my anxious mind and thoughts and trust that He is working. I think I will look back one day and say “Thank the Lord they danced.” May they never feel the shame associated with it that I did.

I pray for protection for my babies, their dreams, and their hearts for Him. That they flourish and that they dance to His glory. Meanwhile, I will go to every competition, recital, and performance I possibly can. The alternative would be to miss out on something they’ve grown to love, are talented at, and have a heart for. I thank God for their health and legs that can leap and plié and point. I pray that His will be done in their lives and that His grace abounds in mine. Because, I need it. Lots of it.

He knows my heart. He alone knows and holds theirs….

To my girls, I’d like to finish this by sharing a song that has always brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, because it’s beautiful and true. I mean this from the bottom of my heart…. Whether it’s writing, drawing, singing, playing, going on that adventure, staying close to home, or twirling in your tutu….I hope in whatever form it comes, when you get the chance to sit it out or dance….please dance.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance….” — Lee Ann Womack

Wind Blown

wind blow

Is there anything more inviting than standing on the beach, smelling the air, and feeling the wind in your hair? Or a leisurely drive in a convertible on a sunny day. Imagine your hair blowing back (not sideways or in your mouth), but perfectly back. This feels so good to me. We like the wind blown look. We like the wind blown feeling.

Contentment. For that moment, we feel carefree. Even though problems are still there, in that moment we feel like all is well with our souls, lives, families, hearts. Wind blown.

Can we hang our heads out the window and enjoy the ride? Can we rush through our morning routine, drop off kids, drive to work, schedule activities, gather costumes, buy gifts, and feel the wind in our hair? Only when we lay our hearts down and ask the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives and place His words in our mouths. In this hectic life, peace feels elusive.

The Holy Spirit is referred to as wind in the Bible. Can we let Him be our wind? Can we believe that He hears and knows? Can we feel the wind in our hair even when our hearts feel heavy or anxious? Sometimes the wind can feel refreshing, sometimes it blows us over, sometimes the wind takes our cares away, and sometimes it knocks things over. Still, I’d rather know He’s there, even in the tornadoes, than question His presence in my life. So, Jesus bring the Wind.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 (NKJV)

He rushed in as a mighty wind.

Can we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us like wind? To move in us like wind? To have His way with us like a flag in the wind? I would like to be wind blown by the Holy Spirit. Blown whichever way He wants me…Truly Wind blown.

This is the wind in our hair in today’s world. This is where contentment overrides stress and peace passes understanding.

Lay it down and let the Wind blow!

Deep Grief

deep grief

While I can’t personally speak of the grief associated with physically losing a child, parent, sibling or best friend yet, I can speak to the grief of divorce. As both a child of it and one of my own, I can relate to that pain. Both divorces I didn’t want. Both divorces left me at the mercy of other people’s choices.

Some wonder why I grieved like I did through my own because of the way he treated me, but I still did. I grieved the loss of a dream, the loss of my will, the loss of the life I thought we would live, the loss of a man I loved whether I should have or not. I still did. I grieved the loss of his family whom I had grown to love. I grieved for my girls, I already knew the life long struggles they would encounter because of it. The loss of my marriage hit me deeper because I was determined to stay married through anything. I was willing to fight for it, and he left….without a struggle or a tear. It was devastating to my self worth, tender heart, and desire to honor my commitment of marriage.

It’s been four years since my divorce and I thought I would share how I felt and some of the things that I did during my deep grief. There seems to be a lot of grief around me right now. Three deaths and a funeral this past week and my heart is heavy with loss. No one escapes grief. It comes in many forms. The emotional or physical loss of someone you love, a dream you had, or a change that alters what you had originally hoped for will need to be grieved. If this helps one person to know they aren’t alone or strange in how they feel or deal with grief, it will be worth it.

My physical grief was such that I lost 20 pounds that first year. I had no appetite and excessive thirst. I couldn’t get enough water and didn’t want any food. Nothing sounded good. I ate to live for the first time in my life. Normally, I love to eat and look forward to my next meal. The food I did eat wouldn’t stay long. I was physically ill from my emotional pain. I could feel it. I had physical pain in my chest and queasiness in my stomach. I still get the same way when sad, nervous, or going through a rough time.

I never missed a day of work. Work gave me purpose and routine was helpful during that time. My boss made it clear that if I needed to stay home for emotional reasons, they would understand. If I had skipped and stayed home, I felt like my sadness would have been worse. Alone, in the house we shared, alone or with the kids, didn’t help. I went to work every day and poured through the Bible between patients. I clung to Bible verses and sought God like I never had. I read and read and read. I would shut my office door sometimes and cry. When time to reset passwords would come, I would use words like “surrender”, “godisfirst”, “remember”, “remain”, and “godislove”. If I had to type a phrase over and over again, it might as well be some of these. I needed the constant reminders. I still do this.

I started to walk every day on my lunch break. I already had anxious thoughts constantly racing through my mind, at least my feet could try to keep up with them rather than sitting still with my heart pounding. I felt like my heart raced whether I was moving or sitting still. Walking and fresh air helped. I still look forward to my lunch time walks. Sometimes I pray silently or out loud while I walk, sometimes I fill my headphones with music. Depends on my mood. It helped and still does.

I prayed on my face first thing every morning on my bathroom rug. I cried more tears than I knew possible. I dry-heaved. I questioned. I surrendered. And, I ultimately, accepted. None of that makes what I deal with today easy. But, what I learned to do while grieving does still help me today. It also gives me HUGE compassion for others who have felt similar pain.

I plugged into a women’s Bible study small group, leaned on them, and gained prayer warriors. I started to write and summoned the courage to share. I decided to write about the love I craved in hopes it would touch others like it touched me. Writing about His love helps me. The love that never walks out, demeans, betrays, or rejects. The love that never fails. I knew I needed it desperately, and still do.

Grief doesn’t end, it changes. I still deal with issues because of the divorce. I’m aware that I always will. I’m also certain I will encounter more grief as this life continues. My prayer is that what I’ve learned will help me through those times. And, that I can support others through theirs.

May His Love surround us.

Diagnosis: Panic

panic

The phone rings. The phone doesn’t ring. The news is not what you expect. The news is what you do expect. Our hearts race, mouths go dry, every heart beat is amplified in our ears. Fear. Fight or flight. Sheer panic sets in. This is an all too frequent condition that I deal with. Panic. Even seeing the word provokes what it means to me.

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Can I tattoo this on my forehead? Who’s with me? So, when I feel attacked or misunderstood, don’t panic. When my manager wants to “talk”, don’t panic. When the doctor arrives who seems hell-bent on criticizing me, don’t panic. When my daughters come home with news about something, anything at their dad’s house, don’t panic. When he refuses something seemingly ridiculous, don’t panic. When my plans fall through. When I can’t be two places at once. When I don’t get the reaction I want or expect. When it takes me two hours to get to work because of traffic, don’t panic. When these things happen, my first instincts and emotions go haywire. I want to yell and scream…”It’s NOT RIGHT!!” But, that won’t change any of it whatsoever. What will? Who can?

Although, my heart may pound and my mouth feel parched, my knees will hit the ground. My heart will cry out for relief. For guidance and the self control necessary to prevent the tidal wave of emotions crashing all around me from taking me down along with the ones I love. And, I will let the tears fall when they come. Tears are safe. Tears are cleansing. Tears are proof that we are alive. Because, life is hard and seems extremely unfair sometimes. Only with God’s perspective can we trust that the hard stuff is not because of His lack of love, but rather to draw us closer to Him. The closer the better.

I can’t make people do things. I can’t make people not do things. I can’t defend a misunderstanding if someone is convinced otherwise. I can’t change people’s minds. I can’t make someone care if they don’t. I can only pray and ask for the help that He promises me.

I still struggle with anxiety and panic, but I know the best prescription for this diagnosis is written in Isaiah 41:10. So, today I will take my medicine. My Ultimate chill pill. And, another one tomorrow….My guess is I need it every day.

Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.

Worrier vrs. Warrior

warrior

I shared this title idea with one of my coworkers this past week and she agreed that it would be a great one for most of us. I have been a tried and true worrier my whole life. If worry were a disease, I’d be riddled with it. “What could I have done or said differently?” “This must be MY fault.” “I should have fixed it or stopped it or done whatever I tried to do differently.” Any time a problem comes my way I tend to immediately blame myself. It’s gotta be me. What’s wrong with ME?….

When God says “Be Still” this calms my nerves. This phrase reminds me that rejection may have been the most loving option, not the least. This phrase reminds me that sometimes it’s not what we COULD have done but what God DID do that sent that particular situation in that particular direction. This phrase reminds me that no matter how much we fear we may mess things up, He is STILL in control.

Sure, we make choices and may suffer consequences, but like the perfect parent He is, He still loves us. Sometimes the choices are made for us and we tend to take that VERY personally. Once again….WHY ME?? We need to fall towards His love and not away. Give the situation back to Him and remind ourselves that it’s just too heavy for us to carry.

What makes a worrier?  Insecurity, lies, paranoia, stress, questions, rejection, FEAR!

What makes a warrior? Prayer, peace, truth, confidence, strength, power, SURRENDER!

Waving the white flag of surrender makes us the warriors we need to be to live in this world. It’s HIS way or the highway, not mine. We shouldn’t be afraid to make choices, we shouldn’t be afraid to try, we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. The desire to live our lives to honor Him is the best we have to offer. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. He doesn’t expect perfection.

Living loved is the best defense against worry. He wants us to live loved. Living consciously aware of His love throughout the day will take the sting out of disappointments, rejection, and worry. Living loved can remove the fear of trying, failing, and trying again. Knowing that we were loved in the past (when it happened), are loved today (while it’s happening), and will be loved in the future (even if it happens) is a warrior’s perspective.

I don’t write as an overcomer to worry, it’s still a daily struggle for me. I write to remind myself of these truths because I desire to live as a warrior too. Let’s fight (surrender) together. Oorah!