A Time for Everything

16. My son just turned 16. The son who was spinning on the floor when he was 1. We thought it was just funny and cute but little did we know that he would have an uphill climb when diagnosed at 3 with autism. The things I’ve learned from him have not only helped me learn to look at myself with more grace but more importantly, to look at life with humility and joy. I will say I had my definite mommy bawl moments on his bday because seriously? 16? How does this happen? I know everyone talks about time flying and enjoy each stage but man, it hit hard that day.  It made me step back and look at the time we’ve had so far. I only have a few more years with him and, from what he says, he’ll be moving to France. Yep, that’s right, welcome to the world of a genius. He will be able to do anything he wants and right now, as he moves forward with French classes, he’s in love with it. This child is gonna make a difference in the world and I can’t wait to see it. 

Time. I step back and I ponder on how precious time is. Not only from a standpoint of children growing up or life flashing before our eyes but from a standpoint of healing, walking through the trenches of life. We can’t forget the important moments where we need to allow ourselves time. We are too quick to put our game faces on and plow through life like nothing is hitting us when in reality, we are only making time move faster without breathing.  Time for my son is incredibly precious. He has a routine that helps him stay calm. He chooses to move in such a way that makes sure he is ok, that he is level. He doesn’t rush. He doesn’t allow life to swallow him whole. I love Ecclesiastes 3. It talks about a time for everything. God gets it. There are 2 verses in there that I love. Verse 4, “a time for crying and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing.  Verse 6, “a time for searching and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for throwing away.”  Do you see what I’m saying?  There is a time for us to cry and allow ourselves the pain that we experience. There is a time for us to mourn what could have been or pieces of our life that just aren’t going the way we thought.  There’s a time to search for what is around the corner. There’s time to let go of the heaviness that has weighed us down for so long. There’s a time to cry yourself to sleep but also a time to wake in laughter and love. Allowing ourselves to have the time needed in each season of our lives is so important. We want to dismiss the ugly instead of looking at it head on. Time can heal.  Time can allow the space needed to renew our minds and souls. Time can be for us and not against us if we sit back and allow it to move along side of us. When we fight against the time needed to heal, we are only hurting ourselves. I encourage you to allow yourself to sit back today and take time. Take time to journal, pray, talk with a friend, cry, love harder, hug it out, laugh till you are crying but no matter what you do, allow it to be authentic and real.  Allow yourself to be. Allow yourself to feel. In the end, time will tell you when to move forward and when to stop. 

“Healing is an art.  It takes time. It takes practice. It takes love.”

Seriously?

I pulled out the email again.  Probably super stupid on my part and not even really sure why I saved it.  Maybe it’s because I can’t believe it exists or maybe because I just can’t let it go. I won’t go into all the detail but there’s one line that I’ve struggled to release, “I’ve supported you in all your bad decisions.”  This was referring to my cutting, attempted suicide, etc. It’s who wrote this email that just messes with my head the most. Maybe I reread it because I want to believe that the words on the page aren’t real, that if I read it again it will say something different. Referring to my struggles as bad decisions is like saying when you swerve out of the way of something in your car, you are making a bad decision.  Yes, would swerving just for kicks get you in trouble, probably, but swerving to survive from getting hurt or hurting others would not account for a bad decision. 

There are things in our life, decisions that we make, things that we do that others aren’t gonna understand or agree with. In the end, we can’t expect them too.  I don’t expect anyone to fully grasp the things that I have walked through and I will never see or feel or understand what all of you have walked through BUT we can never decide that we will judge or tear down others because of it. There’s a reason that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for us.  He provides freedom and grace in our lives. By deciding to point fingers and assume wrong thoughts, we are then not walking in the light that Jesus has provided for us. Instead we are spewing out darkness into someone’s life that could actually make or break their next step. What does this mean for those of us who have had it happen?  I read this quote the other day and can’t stop chewing on it, “You cannot heal in the same place that you were harmed.” We cannot continuously surround ourselves with a toxic environment and expect to walk out feeling like a million bucks. We’ve gotta separate ourselves from those who have hurt us, put boundaries around the pieces of our past that keep coming around.  We can’t learn to love ourselves, rebuild our future, walk in healing, revive our souls if we are constantly putting ourselves back in a toxic environment.  Psalm 4:8 says “I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, Lord, let me live in safety.”  You guessed it, He is our safe place. 

Stuff like this gets me fired up inside, I ain’t gonna lie. This email came out after the truth of the sexual abuse I held onto for 30 some years came out.  Even after that, the understanding of what I walked through was not shown by this individual. We are called to love others and show the love of Jesus to others through our words, action, etc.  I’ve made it a point in my life to really show that moving forward. I encourage you to do the same. If you are on the side with arrows coming your way, know that your truth and worth are not founded in false words or negative thoughts.  You are deeply, deeply loved. You are a warrior. You are a beautiful child of Jesus, loved unconditionally. Rockstar status, each and every one of you. 

“Your environment determines what kind of life you’re going to live, what kind of people you’ll attract, and what kind of expectations and standards you’ll set for yourself and others.”

Real Communication

“Ok, so we had a soft lock down.”  Not the text a mother feels like getting on a regular basis but it was the rest of it that made my heart at peace.  “We were about to take a quiz and I prayed like I usually do before it and also prayed for us to be safe, then they called the lock down off.”  Bam. Powerful.  

Childlike faith. Simple. Prayerful. I think sometimes we make faith complicated especially prayer. I vividly remember when I was a little girl in the middle of the abuse, staring at my holly hobbie walls, just saying his name in my head, Jesus, Jesus. I didn’t know any big words to put together or use to make everything disappear but I did know that speaking his name would bring me to a place of light in the darkness. You don’t need to be reading the Bible every other minute or even fully grasp who Christ is to pray to Him.  You don’t need these big words or extravagant phrases to be heard. Heck, I think he loves when we are raw and vulnerable. I’ve touched on this before but it’s so important, be real with Him. I’ve had moments when I’ve screamed out to Him in so much anger, not understanding why He put me in situations or had me walk through hell and back. I’ve had moments where I’ve cried and couldn’t say a word. Jeremiah 29:12 says, ‘Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and I will listen to you.”  He hears you no matter where your heart is at. He hears you no matter if you have this crazy awesome relationship with Him or you are just trying to figure out if He really exists.  He hears you in the car, the shower, the toilet, wherever. 

Sometimes showing my kids prayer and the power of prayer is all I got. Between my potty mouth, anger spouts and the lists goes on ha, I’m not sure if I’ve got much else going for me. They get it though. You know why?  It’s nothing I’ve done. It’s the connection they feel when they use it. Suddenly they don’t feel alone, afraid, sad, nervous. Their childlike faith is honest, truthful, real, trusting. We need to learn from them. The honest truth of prayer is what allows us to keep living in hope. Open your heart to Him. Let Him see all of you.  Let Him hear all of you. You won’t feel so alone. Your weakness becomes His strength. 

“Sometimes all it takes is just one prayer to change everything”

Bring on the Dumpster

The phone rang and it was my daughter. She was upset. She was at church for high school group and things went wrong. She was leading worship and the lyrics got screwed up which totally threw her off. She felt she did horrible.  I reassured her by telling her the time I was leading the whole church, the words were up on the screen and I totally lost my place. I had to stand there for what felt like a year before I found my place and kept going. We all have our times when we screw up but she wasn’t done. She then went into how her day was just hard.  Friends got together without her, she was overwhelmed in general, and the list just kept going. That’s when I knew everything was just crashing all at once for her. “You are loved!”, I told her. I couldn’t fix the heartache that she was feeling in the bathroom that night but man did I know exactly where she was coming from and sometimes there aren’t enough words to undo the bad days.  I was so grateful she called me. She felt safe. There may have been a few more face time calls from the bathroom before she made her way out and faced the world again. 

She wanted to beat herself up.  She wasn’t a good enough worship leader, or friend, or student.  The girl just felt defeated. Been there? Being enough in the moment, exactly where we are at, is something we don’t always allow. Bad days can become bad weeks and the next thing we know, we are in a bathroom bawling our eyes out trying to figure out how we got there. We have these set expectations on ourselves, higher expectations that many times are beyond our reach. We expect ourselves to suck it up and keep on moving when in fact we will continue to hit ourselves against a wall if we don’t start bringing down this perfection piece we are constantly reaching for. There are pieces in our lives whether physical or emotional that we need to say goodbye to. We become so fixated on our imperfections that we send ourselves into a spiral of anxiety, fear, and micromanaging the world around us. Maybe just maybe if we allow ourselves to let go of the handle bars, we will be able to keep pedaling and live freely. 

Friends, as I’m writing I’m totally listing all the things that need to go in the garbage. Someone better get a dumpster to my house cause dear Lord in heaven, I’ve got a few things I need to say goodbye too in order to not find myself back in a stall again, ya know what I’m saying? Ephesians 4:22 & 23 says, “You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all it’s bad habits.  Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” I have no idea what Jesus is talking about here.  I have no bad habits!! Joking! (Insert eye roll) There are things in your life, my life, that aren’t working. Maybe we need to set up more boundaries, maybe we need to let go of the perfectly cleaned house so we can have time to ourselves, maybe just maybe we need to stop the negative, nasty thoughts constantly rolling around in our heads of defeat and replace them with kindness, love, words of affirmation (whether you believe it or not).  If your desire is to move forward, to not end up in the bathroom (other than to do your business, sorry, I had too ha), then learn to say goodbye to what’s not working so that you can open up a world of new possibilities that are yet to be yours. 

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

What’s in Your Bucket

I went upstairs after everyone went to school and entered my oldest room. I stopped and had to make sure I was in the right room for a sec because his bed was made.  That hasn’t happened in 15 years. Okay, not that he could make it when he was born but you can feel my shock factor. I didn’t say anything because lord knows I didn’t want to jinx it but, what? The next morning he was like, “I’m gonna make my bed now.” I totally acted all cool like it didn’t even phase me and was like, “Awesome, thanks.” He says, “You do so much around here I feel like I can at least clean up my room a bit and make my bed before I head to school.” I wasn’t sure if there was like a, this is what I want, coming or he genuinely was for real.  I was at a loss for words which doesn’t happen often until I was like, “So can you share this with the rest of the household? That would be great.” hahaha Truth be told I gave him big hug and told him how thankful I was. I couldn’t believe how much it meant to me until I stepped back later that day and thought about it. I was validated. I was recognized. I was seen. It filled my bucket. 

Not to sound crazy cheesy but why not, what’s in your bucket?  What do you fill it with? How do you fill it? This is a conversation I had recently with my therapist which really got me thinking. Is there positive coming in there or is it top heavy with negative? I’ve been in a funk lately, we all go through our moments, and in those times I just can’t always seem to put my finger on why.  Although winters in Chicago sure don’t help but there was more. Aside from the usual working through the deep, hard stuff in my life, I seem to have just hit a blah place. I realized though that I’m filling so much of my bucket with negative and literally dumping it in there that there’s no room for intentionally putting positive in. Here’s the kicker, most of the time you don’t even realize the effect it’s having on you until it’s too late. Your bucket is literally sinking and you are going down with it. We need to purposely choose what goes in. So what is it for you? Family, time with friends, time with God, music, time with you fur babies (as I sit and cuddle mine now), journaling, whatever brings you glimpses of joy and peace, do it. It’s a no brainer but I’ll say it anyway, there’s no room for negative if you’ve already intentionally put goodness in that bad boy.                           

Proverbs 17:22, “A Cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Okay? I mean, the description is spot on. When we are crushed and weighed down by nasty, we are physically and emotionally dried up and have nothing left. Yuck. A cheerful heart, friends, is what we are aiming for.  All Quinn did was make is bed out of an act of kindness, but now it’s my turn to take that and dump it in. I need to allow that recognition, that validation, that kindness to seep into my bones so that darkness can’t win. So today, go out and find that goodness, that positive, that ‘thing’ that fills you. No sinking allowed on my watch.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you.”

Peace Out

We had a tree in our backyard.  I remember loving to escape to it. There were only a few branches that you could really hang out on so once you got your spot, you needed to stay put. Many thoughts, tears, internal conversations happened while up there. The one constant thought when making my way up was, you’re totally gonna feel me on this one, what if I was a bird. I could fly anywhere I wanted at any time. Then your mind would wander into, where would those places be?  Now, as an adult, let’s talk about how that place would be a beach…..the end. Can I get an Amen?! 

Escaping…..seems easier than facing the reality of life sometimes. Everyone has their way of doing it. Numbing it, ignoring it, laughing it off, whatever it may be, we all do it AND we all know deep down, it isn’t helping us. There’s no way to move forward into what Christ has in store if we are constantly shoving down the very thing he’s trying to heal. Strong men and women are made by the storms that they walk through, not by dodging the lightning or thunder that comes with them.  The hard conversations that needs to be had, the tears that need to be shed, the band aids that need to be ripped off, the honest truth that needs to be faced head on, blows. I’m just being real. It sucks at first BUT the outcome far outweighs the heaviness that first needs to be walked through. How can we ever hit that place of seeing true beauty in everything when we are sitting in pure ugh. There was a piece of me that honestly didn’t want to allow anyone into my cutting. It was my numbing, my escape, it was MINE!  If I allowed the truth to come out, people would help me overcome it and maybe I wasn’t ready. Sounds crazy I know but I’m pretty sure you can relate on some level. What is it that holds you back from living a full life that God has created you to live? What are you holding onto? I love this and had someone share it with me when I was going through some tough times, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  James 1:12.  

It’s not the trial that our eyes need to stay focused on, it’s who’s walking along side of us in that trial.  It’s then that our eyes don’t stay fixated on the darkness but instead the light that the future holds. None of this is easy friends.  I’m preaching to myself like always. I’m awesome at shutting down and numbing any and all situations but I’m learning that doing it, lets the darkness win.  I’m so not in the mood for that to happen so change needs to take place. Who’s with me? 

“We don’t develop courage by being happy everyday.  We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

Break It Down

Walls.  Easy to put up and difficult to knock down.  Am I right? I have one or two…..okay maybe like 1500 BUT I recognize I have a problem.  Isn’t that the first step? Ha. We get burned, hurt, brushed aside, downgraded, defeated and with each one a wall goes up.  For a long period of time, a wall went up with Christians for me. Okay maybe just people in general. I’ve touched on this a few times. In my deepest pain, the ones who ran the fastest were Christians. Those closest to my core threw me for a loop when truth was spoken about the sexual abuse, and they were Christian. I grew up in a Christian home, how can pain strike so heavy if that were the case.  Wall after wall after wall came up till I got to a point where I questioned any and every relationship. In the end though, the walls hurt us. We block any healing or healthy relationships from coming into our lives. We think we are protecting ourselves when in the long run we are slowly pushing everyone out. 

These walls we built start to seep into our everyday lives.  Walls that started only with a simple brick have now manifested into a full blown house. The core of the issue is trust and I so totally get it.  Once it’s broken in any capacity, it’s flip’n difficult to allow back in yet at some point we’ve gotta overcome that fear with courage. The courage to allow others in.  The courage to see that others are human too. We’ve gotta let go of judgement towards others and honestly let go of judgement towards ourselves in order for each brick to slowly get knocked down. Now, there’s no problem in having boundaries.  Many times they are needed. I’m not telling you to go and run the streets naked, becoming friends with every person you meet. I mean, if you do, each to his own but be careful…..haha. What I’m saying is that it’s okay to be on your guard and protect your heart. That’s where prayer comes in. That’s where you’ve gotta trust that Jesus has your back. 

I always fall to peace.  In John 14:27 it says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  Walls do not equal peace.  Walls equal anxiety, fear, sadness, pain, things that aren’t from Jesus.  As we begin to tear each brick down, we begin to allow the peace of Jesus to enter into our lives.  I quickly needed to let go of my need to put a wall up towards Christians, towards people in general.  I mean, I was one so that was an issue, but more importantly, it was hurting any opportunity I had to build new relationships.  No one could get in. I wouldn’t let them. I still struggle with it today, I think we all do. It’s natural to protect ourselves but in the end, we need to continue to throw grace our way while hammering down one brick at a time. 

“Anyone can try but the only person who can really take those walls down, is the one who put them up.”