Getting To the Other Side

I can raise my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Mostly because I’ve learned, after 40 some years of life that it doesn’t matter much what the person next to me thinks about me. In fact, I’m a firm believer in the adage that what others think of me is none of my business.

We’re trying desperately to get Sweetboy to own that mindset, too. The one of not caring what others think of him.

Recently I pulled on my Smart Mama pants and told him how one of the most comforting verses to me, in all of the Bible, is where we are told that people look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

He was only mildly comforted.

It did, however, distract him. And so, he started perseverating on his looks.

Oh joy.

“But, mama, people are looking at me and seeing my stupid autism!”

Sigh.

I reminded this Sweetboy of mine that it’s okay to detest his Autism. I detest pollen. And allergies. And horses. And clowns.

But, I also (while desperately trying to keep those Smart Mama pants hiked up) reminded him that detesting what is not good should drive us toward what is.

He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

Tempted to hang my head in parenting defeat, I was reminded that although we like to focus on the positive around here, sometimes… sometimes, we have to shine light on the negative to reveal it for what it is.

And, in this case, I recognized some of the hurtful comments from his classmates as Fear.

Seconds away from feeling a parental failure, I remembered that we struggle through the trials so that we can see the mind-blowing beauty on the other side. God’s great reveal, really, is how incredibly beautiful something can look from the other side.

The other side of awful-ugly.

Like, hurtful-ugly comments from preteens whose cheeks you’d like to squeeze clean off their faces. In love, of course.

So, I pulled up those pants and secured them with the belt of Truth. Particularly, 1 Samuel 18. We read through that whole chapter together. We uncovered some treasures.

The truth in this passage was that Jonathan, Saul’s son, found a friend in David, the soon-to-be-king that Jonathan’s father detested. I’m speculating here, out of the ugliness of Saul’s hatred for David came a beautiful realization for Jonathan.

You see, during those dark times, Saul was certainly not pleasant to be around. And, I’m guessing that Jonathan quickly realized, to his relief, that he was not alone. That David, too, suffered the wrath of Saul.

As I shared this story, afresh, with my Sweetboy, I saw light begin to spread through his eyes.

I then relayed that infamous incident during my fifth grade year where I was the recipient of cruel comments because I was the only one who hadn’t shaved my legs yet. The cutting remarks nicked worse than any razor blade ever would.

But, I found a friend, that year. We commiserated during gym about being the only two girls, surely, in the history of ever, whose cruel parents kept them from fitting in.

Miraculously, just as God likes it, grace washed over Sweetboy’s face as he realized that he and his two best buddies had each other. That he wasn’t the only one to be at the receiving end of spew from Jealousy.

“I’m glad I have a possie, mama. They get me.”

Yes indeedy, child.

He realized that he isn’t the only one.

Neither are you.

Nor am I.

And that, friends, is a beautiful truth on the other side.

I Almost Wore the Fake Rings

As I sat on a plane, slowly descending back into my home state, God nudged me. He’d been nudging me for a couple of months, actually. But, the glint of the overhead light, off the diamond in my wedding ring, was His final hip-check.

I had spent the previous few days listening and learning from some of the best Christian Speaking and Writing professionals. Filled to the fullest would be an understatement. Session after workshop after keynote speech, the same few words kept being repeated. It felt much like Morse Code, alerting me to a message meant for my heart alone.

I started to decode the message in my journal after that first day. But, distractions were everywhere and my eyes weren’t fixed.

And, I know that because the next day, I found myself copying those same few words again. Only, this time, I chose to just sit with them a bit. I knew they were meant for me to hear. I just couldn’t grasp why.

Days later, enjoying some pool time amongst precious friends, the conversation flitted around those same words.

Again!

And then, twenty-four hours later, sitting in seat 6B and enjoying the unexpected pleasure of a row to myself, guess what? As I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, it became clear that God wasn’t finished laying that message on my heart.

Clearly, I hadn’t received it the way I needed to.

Hearing and receiving isn’t always the same thing, is it?

I’m going to tell you something that I’ve told you about four hundred times, already.

I.

Need.

Grace.

As I confidently share with others, all the time, God declares we are enough. God declares that I am enough. Made so by Christ. The solid rock on which I stand.

Because, friends?  All other ground surely is sinking sand.

I’ve found myself descending in it a time or twenty.

But this particular message, the one where God fills my empty places, and declares that He is enough, just hadn’t sunk in.

In fact, prior to leaving for this particular trip, I was so hoping to impress the outside world with my worth that I was willing to wear my fake wedding rings. (If you’ve experienced pregnancy or weight gain… or better yet, pregnancy AND weight gain, then you know exactly why I even have the fake rings!)

I was willing to wear these rings to a conference of OTHER BELIEVING WOMEN!

Oh God, how I still need You!

I didn’t… wear the fake rings, I mean.

At the last-minute, I reread a piece I was going to submit for a Writing Critique session. The following Bible verse was central to my piece.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”   (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

This verse is central to my being.

1samuel16_7_missindeedy

Indeed. The entire five days, God filled me up, poured me out, and shined His light in dark places. In me. Through me. He showed me, much like he showed Samuel, that He has no need for me to impress anyone with anything other than the heart He’s given me.

And as that light glittered off the diamond, the real diamond, of my wedding ring, I realized all over again how very much grace I need.

Still.

And always.

Is This Thing On?

Tap, tap, tap…

You might want to hold on to something for support, folks. Because, hello! I’m here. Again. Like, TWO DAYS IN A ROW!

I could blather on about how I made hard-hitting resolutions to cut out All The Things that don’t draw me nearer to the heart of The One who calls me His. But, you’ve heard that same old song and dance a bunch of times before.

From me, alone!

How about I tell you that in my determination to do more of what brings me joy and less of what pulls me away from the heart of God, guess what quickly worked it’s way up the list?

Ta-da! Writing.

And, more importantly, engaging with you. Here.

I’ve struggled, this last year, with figuring out what I was supposed to be writing about. What might be going on with all of you, I wondered? What conversation or thoughts would add value to your already busy lives? What was important enough to take time out of my already jam-packed days, to write about?

Each of these thoughts swirled in a whirling dervish when I set my keester down in front of the keyboard. So. Much. Swirling!

It left me dizzy. I’d gasp for air and grasp for dark chocolate.

So, I gave it up there, for a while. Some of you reached out to make sure I was still breathing. Or, at the very least, still consuming devil dogs.

And, you know what? It did me good. (NOT the devil dogs!) I needed the time to live a little life and experience a little strife and come out on the other side bent but not broken.

And, ready to share all about the mishaps (oh, a’plenty indeed) and grace (beyond galore, if you must know).

As I sit typing out these words, I feel emboldened to forget about what I should write; what hopes The Nana might have for me , the three action items my Writing Coach laid out for me, or even the hope harbored in my own little heart.

Yes!

I’m yearning to write just to get some of these lessons and laughs out.

And, I want to hear, too. I miss you guys. I miss our back and forth. I miss hearing what’s going on with YOU on your blogs and pages. Nothing makes me smile bigger than seeing what some of you are up to on Twitter or Instagram.

So, here’s to a new year filled with new words and laughs.

 

sweetgirl_reading_missindeedy

I’ll leave you with this little pic of Sweetgirl silently “reading” while I write. (Loosely translated, that means “whispering loudly every word”. In second grader speak, apparently.)

HA!

Like Raisins Soaked in Gin

Ahab’s mama, “Honey” as we were instructed to address her, used to swear by the health benefits of taking 5 white raisins a day, with your breakfast. But, these were no ordinary golden raisins. Oh, no! These had been soaked, patiently, for five or six long months. In gin.

To this day, I don’t understand what benefit they were to have had. And now that she’s dancing with The Good Lord, I can no longer ask her. But, she surely made a big deal about allowing them to soak for that 5-6 month time period.

And I can’t help but think that the grace God dispenses is kind of like that too. It has maximum benefit when I soak in it for long periods of time.

It’s when I forget that the grace is there for the soaking in, and maybe you can relate, that I do myself and others the most harm. God’s very Word utters promises and whispers tender affirmations of His boundless love for me. Of His fathomless grace for each and every one of us.

For a few years, I chose a word to hone in on. I am not doing that. No, I’m choosing a mindset.

This new year, this 2016, is the year I choose grace. For myself. For others who aren’t yet choosing it for themselves. And for each situation that doesn’t sit right at the start.

While I’m at it, I might pop a few of those raisins.

Yes indeedy. Because, it surely can’t hurt!

Happy New Year, friends. I pray God enlarges your vision for all the grace He gives to you. And maybe more than that, that we can always remember the grace we have to give to others.

 

I Feel So Ugly

Today, I woke up feeling ugly.  The mirror was harsh and my thoughts were harsher.

It’s awfully hard, sometimes, to keep moving forward with only a dim picture of what could be.

Here I go, grappling with that old question again! How long, Lord?

I want to see a glimpse, a clear glimpse, of the me You know I will be.

But, right now?

mirror_missindeedy

Well, right now, I only see this dim and very muddled reflection. It’s not pretty. It’s all smudged with “wish I never said that” thinking and “why couldn’t I finish that” questioning. It’s tainted by age that hasn’t been accompanied by wisdom near as much as I would like.

 “It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.”

-1 Corinthians 13:12 (NCV)

Age aside, (way way aside, please), it’s worth noting that most days, I’m quite happy to only see my reflection dimly. If at all. The problem I’m experiencing is that as grace abounds more and more, the dimmer the image staring back at me in the mirror.

Maybe that’s exactly the way it should be.

Each time I think I think I’ve got a hold of what I look like, God changes something in me.

And each time He makes adjustments to the old me, I find myself staring at a new and unfamiliar reflection.

Even as I type out these words, I realize that there’s really no need to know exactly how I look. To myself, or others.

It’s got to be enough, His grace has to be enough to cover my lack with His all.

My ugly with His beauty.

Whether dimly or clearly.

Why does it take me so long to figure these things out?

He knows what I will look like. He loves the me that I am now through Perfect Eyes that see past this here and now and into the gorgeous eternal.

Those flaws we see in ourselves, that I constantly see in myself, the ones that glare back at us in the mirror? They are the same ones He uses to draw others toward us.

I’ve watched Him use my ugly to speak into someone else’s ugly, time and time again. He does it with such beauty. It’s staggering.

But then, the times I wake up and immediately hate what I see, I so easily forget that there is no room for hatred in His eyes. The disgust and frustration and disappointment, seen so clearly by my own eyes, are all crowded out by the affection and joy and delight, in His.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”

BibleGateway Psalm 149:4 (NASB)

I am His people. I’m guessing that if you’re reading, you are too.

Or, you long to be.

The God who made us, sees beauty.

The One who sees me, sees beauty.

Oh God, how I need to cling to that! 

He promises that He will beautify.

Oh God, afflict us with salvation! 

I’m thanking Him for that promise, today.

Yes indeedy.

Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

We have a problem in our yard. It slithers and is holding our front yard hostage. As in, every day for the past 5 days, it finds a spot to lie right in the middle of the front yard. Exactly whenever the bus lets Sweetgirl and company off.

And the first time we discovered this thing had taken up residence outside our abode, I was treated to the rare and delightful show of three screaming seven-year old girls each jumping two feet in the air. They proceeded to hop and scream for the 30 seconds it took them all to make their way to the back yard where the swing set is.

Because, surely, there are no snakes in the back yard!

And poor Sweetgirl has had nightmares about this dad gum thing every night since!

Not only is this creature terrorizing us in the daytime, it’s wreaking havoc at night, too.

I wish I were kidding.

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? I’ve watched my fair share of fish being gutted, bucks being skinned, and turkeys being plucked.

But snakes?

My palms are sweaty and shaky even as I type out the word!

I took to The Facebook today, to share my distress, with a picture, hoping someone would at least tell me it was a harmless kind. One neighbor jokingly informed me that this particular reptile is called a Scarus Wettus Pantsus. INDEED! My pantsus are wettus!!!

Snakes_Missindeedy

Thank you iPhone for zoom capability!

Today, in fact, I took a stroll through the front yard to the mail box. No sooner did I get halfway across than the blasted thing slithered right in front of me and stopped. As if to say, “Go around, or else!”

I went around.

Far FAr FAR around.

My nearest neighbor’s teenage daughter happened to come driving down the road at the same time as this catastrophe took place. She slowed as she came upon me hopping and screaming in my driveway.

I calmly walked over to HER yard and overstayed my welcome. I did, however, ask her to babysit for us. I’m pretty sure her answer will be no.

Here’s the thing, I come by my abhorrence of these scaly things by birth. The Nana… you have never seen someone as terrified of snakes as she is. Never. She’s been known to pass right out because one had the audacity to sneak up onscreen in the midst of some television show or movie.

So, back to my slithery misery… I braved Mr. Google and found that there are actually very few poisonous varieties of snakes up here in New England. Furthermore, I found that there are three distinct ways to determine whether a snake is a “pit viper”, AKA bad snake. (Although, are there any good snakes? I think not.)

  1. Does the thing’s head have a deep pit between the eye and the nostril? (I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out.)
  2. Is the pupil (the black part of its eye) vertically elliptical? (Again, I don’t know and I have no desire to get anywhere near that close. Also? If you can say vertically elliptical 5 times fast, you win the Internet!)
  3. (And this might be my favorite…) Do the scales on the underside of the tail go all the way across? (I can’t even. WHY WOULD I BE LOOKING UNDER THE TAIL? Why?)

Here’s another fun fact: If you are on a “snake watch” for an hour and a half to track its movements, that 2 minutes you have to visit tinkle town will be precisely when it chooses to slip away.

And then, YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT IS!!!!!!

So, in conclusion, I detest snakes.

 

I’m filing this one under Lessons. I’ve learned that I’d rather play “wettus pantsus” than “where’d the snake go?”

And, I might never leave my house again.

Bring Devil Dogs.

*Update since this post started! Another kind facebook friend said we should definitely find a way to “relocate” it (Can that be code for kill it, please?) or else it will raise a family in our yard.

And then, I died.*