Maybe It’s Just Me

Brad Paisley got it right. When he described his girl as “sunshine mixed with a little hurricane”, I’m pretty sure he was describing Sweetgirl. That kid is a whirlwind of toothless eight-going-on-eighteen.  Ahab and The Nana would surely describe me similarly… plus a few teeth. And pounds. And years.

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The times I have to watch my Sunshine hide behind clouds of doubt or insecurity, though, because of the way others treat her, it’s my own inner hurricane that starts brewing.

I can’t be the only one who identifies with the inner hurricanes I see within these tender-hearted girls. Self-doubt is a powerful ingredient in an emotional storm and it surely does seem like there are far too many of us huffing harsh words out onto others in hopes that we will feel smarter, prettier, more popular, and even seen. We whip our attitudes around and lash out at others in an effort to boost our own meager confidence. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought in hopes that we matter more than the next girl.

And none of it does a single thing to advance love, joy, peace, kindness or goodness.

No. In fact,  witnessing how hurtful and mean girls can be toward one another is distressing. Watching the devastation left in the hearts of the hurt is heartbreaking. Too often this meanness starts a vicious circle of behavior: Be hurt. Hurt another. Feel better. Be hurt again. Hurt another again. Feel better again. And on and on it goes.

And, I’m tired of hearing that this is just how girls are with one another. Responsibility gets to fly off on the shoulders of Blame, that way. And, assuming that girls will determine social hierarchy with little emotional fallout makes about as much sense to me as throwing a non-swimmer into a pool and saying, “Good luck with that swimming thing.”

Comments sharing how there will always be mean girls fall hard on my heart, too, because I’m a firm believer in doing what you can. Don’t we all remember the Starfish Story? We can throw one starfish starving for it’s watery habitat back, and it will make a difference for that one single starfish, won’t it?

Aren’t the hearts of girls worth just as much effort and attention?

With their increasingly younger noses perpetually pressed to their smart phones or tablets, and seeking social acceptance there, it seems obvious that guidance is needed. We adults need to be checking in often enough to know who and what these girls of ours are trying to get their self-worth from.

And, while we’re at it, where are we trying to get our own self-worth from?

As I’ve mentioned here and here, I do believe our worth is something a few of us adults need to be reminded of, too.

Or, maybe it’s just me.

What do you say we work on battening down those hurricane hatches together?

God knows Grace gushes in my general direction because I desperately need it.

Often.

Can we agree to work on showing, not telling, our girls how to treat themselves, first. Can we remind them again and again that they are created in the image of One who loves them more than any Facebook or Insta “like” ever will. And can we do that together, by caring more about the eyes watching us refresh our screens than those on our screens.

Sweetgirl needs some help learning how to combat The Mean with the truth that we are each a special God-designed mix of sunshine and hurricane. Especially as we boot up for a new school year.

And, quite frankly, her mama can always use some more work in that area, too.

Always.

Yes indeedy.

Who’s with me?

If Grace Had an Instagram Feed

What would it look like, do you imagine?

If Grace, the actual I-died-so-you-could-be-loved-perfectly-forever, had an Insta feed, what pictures do you figure we could scroll through?

I have a few ideas. You must, too.

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I’m guessing Grace will get a kick out of posting pictures of my favorite snack foods with snappy captions like, “Devil Dogs in 2 easy steps!” or “Swiss Cake Rolls for Days!”. And Grace will use a beautiful filter on the pic and He’ll layer over the verse from Proverbs about all things in moderation and He’ll know… He’ll just know that I’m straining against the constraints of my diet and needing a pass for the cheat treat I just had.

I think one would probably have to be a picture of horses nuzzling on a beach with the caption, “Listen Missy, horses need love, too.” And Grace would know, He’d just know that I’d be reeled in by the beach scene. He’d know I couldn’t look away and that He could use my nemesis, as I’ve mentioned here and here and here and here, to remind me that I don’t get to decide who gets love and who doesn’t.

But I think one of my favorites would be a puppy pie pie (and it really wouldn’t matter what kind, as long as it wasn’t a hairless Chihuahua because, He would know that I just can’t even). And anyway, this puppy would be on a boat with it’s hair all wild in the wind, with the caption, “Dog Hair, Don’t Care” to remind me that even when the wind is whipping, He’s got this.

And I am absolutely certain that I’d see a picture of pigs flying. Can’t you just see it? Heavenly pigs winging through the air! And, of course, He’d know that I wouldn’t be able to resist seeing those animals flying and I would, of course, need to thoroughly examine the picture and investigate whether it was modified. And he’d use this one to remind me that Hope is alive and well and flying high, despite what it seems like in the world.

The one I won’t be able to stop liking, though, is the one Grace will put up of my Sweetman in a beach chair with a big ol’ pile of books stacked up in the sand next to him. Man. Candy. Mine. And Grace will just know that I’m needing a reminder (in that post-argumentative moment) of all that I love about That Man. And it’ll totes work, too.

Oh, but you just know that Grace will snap a pic of my sweetkids, at their very cutest of course, on a lake. Or, in a lake. And He’ll be sure that I’ll admire those stinkin’ cute kids while at the same time turning my nose up at the lake (because, Ocean). And I can imagine the caption would be something along the lines of, “Lake people are people too,” because He hears my every inner thought. Especially about lake lovers.

Because, I’m human. And, indeed, sometimes very human.

But Grace doesn’t worry about that.

He knows.

And loves me anyway.

I think I’d like that Insta feed. And I’d be scrolling through it all the live-long day.

And Grace would get all my likes.

Yes indeedy.

**My Instagram feed isn’t nearly as exciting, but in case you missed it, I do indeed have one. Click here to go there.**

Ask First

Her blonde curls unfurled behind her as she chased her little neighbor friend across the field. All eight years of her pumped those legs to catch up with all three years of her little friend.

And, when she did catch up?

Giggles.

Galore.

“I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna tickle you silly,” she kept saying, to the delighted cries of the neighbor.

My Sweetgirl gently tickled and chased, causing the newly three-year old fits of laughter. There was more glee to behold in the scene than my heart could take in.

But, I did.

Then, I waited…

For the right moment to have that uncomfortable conversation with my precious child, who meant only good. I’m talking about the reality that tickles can also be bad. And that, to be appropriate, you must always ask first.

“But, it ruins the moment, mama,” she insisted!

This is where #parentingishard. It’s in these joyful moments that you are loath to interrupt, that you realize you must.

I didn’t want to. And I most certainly wish I didn’t have to.

But, touching varies radically from family to family. Respecting that fact means asking first. I had to convey this to my sweet one without dulling the beauty of a precious interaction. An interaction that happens not only amongst her and her friends, but also within family.

And it hit me – this is where the lines get crossed. Or not.

These are the conversations that can allow fear to skyrocket if not handled delicately. But, at the same time, I want her to know that if anyone tickles her, and it makes her uncomfortable, we are a family who talks together. All the time. About everything.

Even uncomfortable tickling.

So, if you find yourself in a situation that requires some gentle conversation about appropriate touching, here are a few things that I found helpful. Hopefully, you will too:

  • Watch for cues. As we were talking, she mentioned that when I tickle her, it sometimes hurts because I tickled “too hard under my armpits”. WOW! I had no idea. Just talking about this opened up the opportunity for me to apologize and acknowledge that she didn’t like that. It also helped me use language she was using as I forged on with my harder points.
  • Keep it simple. I chose to wait until this age to have this conversation. You, or families you know, may choose to do it at an earlier age. Or, a later one. My goal was to make sure my child understood that asking first also meant respecting any form of “no thank you”. And, again, I used the language my daughter used. “Friends”, “family”, “appropriate” “tickling”, “hurt”, “uncomfortable”, “like”, and “secrets” were all worked into our conversation.
  • Allow for questions. This one was hard. Because, when you open up this can of worms, sometimes they stay in their nice round can, and sometimes they come out in every direction. Our conversation? There were no shoving those worms back in the can! So, I just let the questions roll in. And, some of my more brilliant answers included the words, “Maybe” and “Sometimes” and even “I’m not sure”. I hope it’s obvious that I didn’t have all the answers. And I thought it was important for my Sweetgirl to know that while I will always accept any question, I might not always have an immediate answer.

Is this a hard topic to tackle? Yes. Yes it is.

But worth it.

Yes indeed.

 

 

 

Silently Correcting Their Grammar

Few things slay my inner grammarian like hearing someone botch a perfectly good word or phrase. Folks do it “alot” (ahem).

And I’m silently correcting their grammar.

Hearing Americans talk and write about the Republican and Democratic “cannidates” could spell disaster for the future of our country. And, I’m talking about the mispronunciation of candidates, not the potential election results.

I’m silently correcting their grammar, and praying for the elections.

Listening to a young lifeguard friend tell about the time she had to swim “acrosst” the bay to make sure someone didn’t “drownd” while goofing around in the surf, makes me cray-cray.

I’m silently correcting her grammar, while thanking God for her bravery.

But, for all intensive purposes, I think it’s best if people stop using that phrase. Because, for all intents and purposes, it’s being used incorrectly.

Providing me another opportunity to silently correct grammar.

And I make jokes with my other grammar abiding friends about this private act of silently correcting others’ grammar.

Never once did I give it another thought.

Until…

jokingly used a phrase with my sweetkids the other day. “Listen up peoples!”

And my children not-so-silently corrected my grammar.

Humility…I am still learning it.

Parenting, it is a mighty teacher.

Oh, yes indeedy.

I am trying to train those children up in the way they should go. But, Lord? Could my training not come back and hit me upside the head so very often?

While my defenses rose and I felt the need to shout-explain, “I know that!”, I felt Humility, Himself, knocking on my heart’s door. With each knock, there was a growing unease in my soul at my many silent corrections.

Proverbs 3:7 harked back to mind,

“Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom.”

But, as usual, grace laps over the edges of my spirit as I submit my desire to know more to His desire for me to love more.

The rest of that “train your children up” verse? It says to do so in the hopes that when they are old, they won’t depart from it [their training].

I’ve departed. Oh, how I’ve departed again and again.

But Grace…

I’d like to stop departing now. Please, and thank you.

In the meantime, I’ll stop silently correcting grammar.

Thankfully, there is no statue of limitations on grace.

For the Quitters Among Us

Let me start by admitting I go by another name. It’s true. While “Missy” is certainly one way to turn my head toward the sound of your voice, so is “Quitzilla”.

As we wrap up our study of The Five Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz over on the P31 Online Bible Studies’ blog, I’m reminded of my “other” name.

And I don’t like it. Or her. (Quitzilla, not Nicki Koziarz, because she? She is LOVELY!)

This person inside of me who doubts she has what it takes to see a new adventure through to completion? I don’t care for her.

And, I know I’m not alone. Friends share constantly about issues they quit over and over again. We all seem to have issues that just can’t seem to be overcome.

  • The weight that won’t come off
  • The relationship that won’t heal
  • The risk we just can’t seem to take

 

Slowly, I’m seeing the patterns of behavior where my inner quitter starts getting most vocal. No surprises in the patterns, either. The enemy of my soul, the one who won’t quit trying to turn my eyes from He who makes everything possible, will press on. It’s my job to see when I’m most prone to hearing his hollow tune over the steady song of my Savior.

And, I think I’ve nailed down how I can do that best.

Just do the next thing.

Simple, right? It should be. But, I tend to get wrapped up in the whole goal. What is my end game? And, I start looking down the barrel of that goal and I get tunnel vision. Big time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who forgets to take it one step at a time?

Recently, Sweetman and I had to make a financial decision that hurt. It ruined a perfectly good summer vacation plan and put a wedge in some perfectly wonderful friendships. What I most wanted to do, as Sweetman and I approached this hurtful decision-making process, was quit. Flat out throw caution and wisdom to the wind and do what I wanted to do. And that Quitzilla voice roared the whole time we wrestled with the choice before us.

But God…

He keeps reassuring me our resolution was not just the wise thing to do, but exactly what we needed to do to be good stewards of all He’s given.

And He has given much! He has blessed when I deserved less than half a devil dog. He had seen fit to right too many of my wrongs. He washes me new with grace and mercy All The Days.

Moving forward is a matter of taking that next right step.

I’m quitting the quitting.

Yes indeedy!

What’s hard for you for you to quit? What gives you strength to keep going?

 

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.

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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.

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!!!

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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.*