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Time to Get Out

I love closets.  I know, you’re like, what?  But hear me out. I think we’ve all been there and used the closet as an escape. There’s something safe about being enclosed. Well, I guess you might not enjoy it as much if your closet is a hot mess but each to his own ha. No one could touch me there or so I thought. I’ve cried in there, journaled in there, escaped screaming children in there, cut in there. It’s a place where, for some reason, it just feels like no one can see you. It’s a place where I feel or often felt like the world outside stood still for a second while I tried to pull everything together.  The closet wasn’t going to tell everyone I lost it, or I couldn’t get my crap together, or that I was failing and fearful. 

In the end, I eventually needed to come out. I needed to face that fear or that failure head on. The closet is ok to get lost in for a time but eventually when we step out, what we are running from is still there. My cutting escaped the four walls of a closet and kept getting worse, fear and sadness still met me when I opened the door. Here’s what I’m learning my sweet friends.  Yes, we need to meet those ugly emotions head on but also, coming out gives the opportunity to grab happiness and joy instead of sitting there waiting for it to come to us. We need to open the door and allow it all to pour out. We need to allow the ugly to come to the surface so that we make room for the good that’s waiting on the other side. What brought you into that closet does not define you. What brought you into that closet doesn’t have to control you.  What brought you into that closet needs to be crushed by the hand of Jesus. He gives us this promise, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has a passed away.” Revelation 21:4.  There’s nothing too dirty or ugly or smelly that God can’t completely wipe away or give to goodwill. You’re precious heart is held in His hands daily.  Every second of every day He sees you and walks beside you. It doesn’t matter if you are hiding in the closet or screaming from the roof tops, He’s there. 

How long have you been sitting in the closet beating yourself up?  How long have you been hiding in there thinking that everything around you will disappear?  I so get it, like so get it BUT the sooner you step out, the sooner you step into grace. You will be surprised that you aren’t alone in where you hide or sit. We’ve all been there, so together lets walk out and seek our truth.  Let’s all step out together with our shields up and fight. 

“There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.”

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Embrace What Is

Change. Sometimes you just want to flip it off, right?  Maybe it’s just me. It can break you. It can spin your brain into a million different places until you land on what’s really the right direction. There can be change in circumstances, relationships, your body (hello 42!), your emotions each moment, and the list goes on. Sometimes we are the cause of the change and sometimes change happens without us even being asked. It can cause your whole life to transform in a blink of an eye for better or worse.  There are times where you can control which direction it goes and times that your hands are tied. 

Consistency has not been common in my life. People have broken my heart in two, unexpected crossroads has made me question which direction life is really taking me. My sweet daughter came home from school the other day and you know what she said to me? “Mom, we were talking about eating disorders in health class today.  Actually, we’ve been talking about almost everything you’ve dealt with in health class. You really lived a rough life.” Sweet baby girl. Guess what, I know each of you have had a rough go too. I don’t say that to make anyone feel sorry for me. Truth, it actually empowered me. Here’s the thing, change normally doesn’t have a pretty face on it in the beginning. We question why, what’s happening, what do I do with this.  Then we go, we embrace it because, I mean, we don’t really have a choice, and we change with it. Life has taken so many unexpected turns in my life, especially these past couple years that I’m almost surprised I take a shower ha! Can I tell you something though? I think God protects us in the change. There are things we don’t see. There are conversations and situations that He can only witness and protect us from.  Many times we think that our road is paved out and we are walking all confidently but little do we know there’s a massive fire crossing over the path. Psalm 121:7&8 gives us this promise, “The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life.  The Lord will protect you on your journeys–whether going or coming–from now until forever from now.”  Sometimes change happens because remaining on that path will cause pain that will almost destroy us. He knows that before we can even see it.

I shut down.  That’s what I do with change.  I think I’m protecting myself when really I’m delaying the blessings that God has in store for me in the change. What’s happening in your life right now?  Are you in the middle of change? Is change on the horizon? You are brave and courageous my sweet friend. Together we need to build off the new instead of fighting to get the old back. We need to jump into the new chapter with some new dance shoes on, embracing the possibilities of what could come. 

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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”

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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.”

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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.”