What’s in a Gift?

christmas lights

Twinkling lights cast their glow, causing shadows to dance and dreams of all things Christmas to enlighten our childhood eyes– no matter our age. If we listen carefully, we can hear our own squeals of delight from years gone by and if we listen deeper still, we can hear the cadence of a heartbeat that thumped vivaciously without restraint. The anticipation of what was to come, Christmas Day, left us giddy—a joy unmatched any other time of the year. Continue reading

I Won’t Break

bruised reedSo often my strength is a mirage; like an article of clothing, I shrug on each morning, covering both my nakedness and bruised spirit.

But in the quiet, dark sanctuary of my soul where only God and myself converse, where I kneel before Him as I really am, laying my impurities, brokenness, weaknesses, and reoccurring feelings of worthlessness at His feet, I have found– for much of my life– that I cannot bear to look Him in the eye. It’s too painful. It’s too embarrassing. It’s too…much. Continue reading

Half a Piece of Pecan Pie, Please

Calf length fur coat, oversized costume jewels and thick black curls that framed an aging beauty– her disposition was nothing short of graceful and her words feathery soft, but it was her smile that drew me in. It was a crooked smile lined with bright red lipstick that held a sadness that a bystander might miss. Her deep-set, chocolate eyes revealed shame– embarrassment– as they shifted downward and off to the side each time she felt seen. Continue reading

How I Overcame Fear

little-boy-1635065_1920I’m not usually a fearful person. I can harness those lurking shadows that threaten to quicken my heart rate and rob me of my joy. I can figuratively hold fear in my hands and evaluate it; deciphering what hidden truth is being masked as something altogether different.

I’ve learned to question my fear in an attempt to whittle it down to its truthful root. Once I know its root, I can acknowledge it, face it, and deal with it. It no longer holds power over me. I learned this tactic years and years ago and it has freed me from worry, anxiousness, and fear–most of the time! Continue reading

Triggered

hot-air-balloonHot air balloons glide over my rooftop endlessly through the summer months. I can hear the distinct whooshing of the flame’s warmth fill the balloons before I can see them. And inevitably I run outside to scan the sky. I’m not just looking for the balloon and the opportunity to wave to its passengers, I’m looking for a connection to my past. Continue reading

There’s a Demon Named “Drama”

fantasy-2935093_1920“There’s a demon named ‘Drama,’” I heard my friend say over coffee this week. She quickly paused and then said, “you know, if you believe in those things.” I assured her that I do and had had more than a tussle or two with Drama over the years.
For me, my Drama is more internal than external. My mind creates scenarios based on half-truths and dwells on the what-ifs. My heart rate gets worked up and before long, I have lost my joy; I have lost my vision because all I can focus on is what is playing in my mind. It’s debilitating. It’s life-sucking. I’ve lost weeks of my life over the years due to Drama. Therefore, she has accomplished what she set out to do.

She not only sets out to steal our joy, derail our focus, and keep us from living life to its fullest, but most importantly, she succeeds when we look outside Christ for our identity and help. It’s easy to beat ourselves up, to see our faults, our insecurities, weaknesses, failures, etc. This is where my Drama lives and stifles me, but for some I know it’s the opposite: the need to be right, the best, the most…. Drama’s spectrum runs from the humble to the proud. Regardless, of where we find ourselves, the method: comparison and results: feeling less than, are the same. Continue reading

Love Hurts

Love_Hurts_II_by_AnyAnemonaIf you know me even a little, you know that I love to love–and I love to love big. It’s all I can do not to hug my checker at Safeway when I leave. It takes all my restraint not to tell my students that I love them as we part ways at the end of the day (I do, but if hugs are frowned upon, imagine the ruckus saying “I love you” would evoke!). I have accidentally told service agents I love them at the end of a help center call and I gush like a geyser when I see my nieces and nephews. And last week, I hugged my mom’s neighbor before we shared a single conversation. Sometimes, loving is easy. And sometimes, loving is incredibly painful.

Like you, I learned at a young age that getting hurt is one of life’s valuable lessons. Our parents allowed us to experience pain and the consequences of poor choices so that we’d learn to either avoid that behavior or put into place healthy parameters. I’ve been hurt in life and I have been hurt in love; maybe we all have.

love-doesnt-hurt-expectations-do-love-quoteThough the reasons we get hurt by love vary, they fall into one of two camps: either when it’s not returned, or it is returned but not in a way we expect or need. Love manifests itself differently in all our relationships, but this truth remains constant: we have expectations of what love looks like from that specific person and when those expectations are not met, we don’t feel loved.

Sometimes love shows up in a different package than we expected and because we do not recognize it, we cannot accept it as it was intended.

Sometimes we are our own road block to receiving love.

Sometimes we make love more about ourselves than the other person. We look inward, rather than outward. If it hurts, if it feels uncomfortable, if it is inconvenient–if it costs too much, then we walk away or we hurt that person back. As I write those last few words, the image of elementary school kids fighting on the playground come to mind. Though we may not be that immature (or physical), we can deeply hurt others with our words and justify our actions because “they started it.” We call this behavior healthy parameters. We push people away so we don’t get further hurt.

The world is full of hurting people, damaged people, and toxic people. We cannot meet all of their needs or expectations—and we were never meant to. Love sometimes looks like creating healthy distance, or calling a person out, or loving without words. We give what we can and trust that God will make up the difference. This is not usually viewed as love to the recipient. Love hurts.

Love looks out more than in.

Love is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. It is a made to order kind of deal. It is specific to each person. If you want to love others well, ask them what makes them feel loved. It may surprise you what they say.

For me, I feel loved through words. If Dennis talks to me for a solid five minutes, I’m on cloud nine all day. For Dennis, well–he loves to be touched. Ha! I know your mind just went into the gutter! Admittedly, mine did too–but he genuinely loves to hold hands while sitting on the couch. I hate holding hands. I do. They get all clammy. But I’m willing to pay that small price to show him love. Sometimes I show him love by cleaning the kitchen. He could care less about the cleanliness of the kitchen. Love comes in a different package than he expects when I do that, but because he knows my heart after 27 years, he knows that’s a package he will open, appreciate, and respond promptly by holding my hand!

Que John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” Sorry—couldn’t resist!

You’re Not Enough

mirrorWhen I was a young girl, I was fascinated with the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. What eight year old girl doesn’t love a story about singing birds, Prince Charming, and the pursuit of love?

In reality, I was afraid of birds. I was pretty sure they were going to dive bomb me and peck at my hair! I have no idea where that fear came from, but I wanted to believe they could work together to tie a satin ribbon in my hair as they had done for Snow White, making me just as beautiful and desirable as she. I knew it was make-believe, of course, just as I knew there were no wicked witches, magic mirrors, or kisses that could bring princesses back to life. I knew that and yet in some ways I was just as ignorant as the wicked witch when she asked the magic mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest one of all?” Continue reading

I Don’t Go to Church Anymore

hanging armorI forgot that Satan lives in the Church as much as Christ does. I forgot that he is comfortable and remains undetected as he intricately, methodically, and tirelessly attempts to weave the three D’s: dissention, distance, disgrace shrouded in truth in to the hearts of all its attenders. I’ve known this for a good number of years and yet, I still have the habit of wiping my feet and hanging up my suit of armor at the door.
Continue reading

A Second Victimization

Us three girlsInside, my emotions were wickedly raging; an inferno of sorts– but not the kind that subsides with time, but rather the kind that silently swelters and smolders bitter anger for a long time—for a long, loooong time before it unleashes its fury. But my daughters didn’t see that. Instead, what stared back at them were eyes unable to blink; they were frozen—matching the paralytic state of my body. But my mind; my mind was restless, bouncing from right hemisphere to left and back again. Each of their words were plunked out like a single long note on the piano—played in minor, but resounding in forte.

One. Word. At. A. Time– they slowly unraveled the carefully wrapped evil they had tucked away as a way to protect themselves from further pain. But evil gets heavier with time, not lighter and they began to crumble. I wish I could say that I saw it, that there were some clues as to what had happened in their lives, but there weren’t. Their words ambushed me, just as their attackers had ambushed them. Continue reading