When Tunnel Vision Becomes Good

I’ve never had tunnel vision, physically. But, whoa Nelly! I’ve had it mentally. And emotionally.

Actually, I take that back. I have experienced tunnel vision! For my beloved devil dogs. And, it gets me into trouble in the pants department.  Every. Single. time.

Otherwise, there aren’t many instances where tunnel vision is all that helpful. Or good.

Well, unless we’re talking about the intense desire to lose the spare tire that All The Devil Doggery has created. Then, I guess tunnel vision can be a positive.

And science. Science definitely benefits from the researcher intently focused on finding a cure for The Disease! Yes, then all of that tunnel vision pays massive dividends to society. And, to the world.

Valuing self over others, though, that is exactly the sort of tunnel vision that my heart has been railing against. Concentrating on whatever, whoever, will promote me over Thee… I notice far too much of that, lately.

In myself.

And, in others.

A wise mentor once told me that what I most dislike about another person is very likely a thing that I strongly dislike about myself.

Touche`.

We want to be liked. We want to be noticed. We want to matter.

So, we set about marketing ourselves. We push this profile picture. Or tweet and Instagram The Thing or The Thought that we hope might catch someone’s eye. We Vine our video vignettes and harbor a desire to go viral. Motivation to stay on top of the Importance Pile gathering with every click, like, follow, and repost.

But, we already are liked. We already have been noticed. We already do matter.

To the God who formed us.

He likes us very much.

He notices our every thought.

He declares that we already matter.

Come what may.

Or not.

I’m thankful for His patience, on the days and in the moments where I forget that.

Do you forget that, too?

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It is no small gift that God’s love endures forever. That He is for me.

For you.

And as He waits patiently for us to behold all that He places in our line of sight meant to bless, we continue to seek and search for significance where there is none to be found. When our search turns up empty, again and again and again, He is there. Our worth is validated and invalidated, in a vicious never-ending cycle. Each time we seek significance that seems hidden from us, He is waiting for us to remember that we already are significant.

To Him.

And in that moment when we finally do remember, and do see what we’ve not been willing or able to, our gaze can again become focused with an intensity that only sole devotion can bring.

Then, that tunnel vision becomes Good. It is a grace.

We are known. And loved. And our importance becomes irrelevant.

Because, we finally seek Thee and find thee.

The Most Significant of all.

Yes indeedy.

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Cheers to You, Friends!

Over the last decade (and change), since becoming a mother, I have had different friends enter the landscape of my motherhood. Each has contributed something precious and necessary: community, advice, support, assistance, and laughter.

Must. Have. Laughter!

While all of my friends aren’t mothers (hello Jason, Joan, Sarah!!!), I’m focusing in on those fellow mamas today.

Some have come alongside to help me see clearly, when my eyes were too filled with tears to do so on my own. I’m thinking of my sweet friend Ally, who listened as I relayed a devastating fear about Sweetboy, and just held my hand and patiently listened and prayed with me.  And Dana, who hears my deepest anxieties, and prays with me then and there to allay them. They are truly like Job described when he spoke of a friend interceding on behalf of another – “…let him plead with God for a human being, like a person pleads for a friend.” 

Also, I’m thinking of a brave and kind friend, Aimee. We met as part of a weekly playgroup for Sweetgirl when she was a toddler. I was unable to see some obvious developmental needs emerging in her, so focused was I at the time on getting Sweetboy acclimated in our new town. Her words were so kindly spoken at just the right time.

Others have helped lift my eyes to the Right Place, when I forgot to. I think of my bold friend Kim who walked with me through my initial depression diagnosis; and, who weathered a mighty storm, side-by-side with me, with our then shared church family. She truly modeled Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a {sister} is born for adversity.”

I have deep thankfulness for my friends Rae, Kristy, and Erin, who push me and encourage me to keep writing and dreaming and become the best little writer that God wants me to be!

And then, there have been the precious few who have provided much-needed comic relief. My fiery-haired friend Erin, quick-witted friend Janet, and round-table friends Monica and Katie . I welcome the bellyaches from All The Laughter, and their cheerful hearts truly do bring a smile to my face. Often!

These are just some of the friends in my life. And, I cherish each one. Speaking with older friends and family members about their own friendships, I see the eternal Truth and Wisdom in these Words:

Two are better than one, because they have good pay for their work. For if one of them falls, the other can help him up. But it is hard for the one who falls when there is no one to lift him up.

Each new friend that God graces me with, online or off, provides more reasons to be grateful. Whether we share a love of God, writing, or eating – whether we’re commiserating over how hard it is to be a parent, spouse, or not eat – having friends to lift me up is truly a gift that I cherish.

And a special shout-out to those of you in this here blogosphere – you hold a special place in my heart. I can’t hardly express how much joy your comments and encouragements bring to my heart.

So…

Cheers to you, my friends! Thank you for being one.

Yes indeedy!

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Thanksgiving Is Most Certainly NOT for the Birds

You know who has nothing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day?

The turkey.

It’s kinda a rough day for that dude.

Unless we’re talking about a martyr turkey.

And somehow, I highly doubt that once a turkey gets wind of what gets cut off and where it all gets stuffed and cooked… Well, I don’t much think we’re going to see many turkey’s yelling “Pick me!” for that experience.

All turkey business aside, I know full well how very much I have to be thankful for. And, although I’ve been practicing thankfulness with more regularity since first reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp a couple of years ago, it does me good to purposely set aside time each year for an extra helping of thankfulness.

So, in the spirit of reflection and thanksgiving, this morning I am so very thankful for:

  • You.  Yes, you. I come here and use words to work through things and you come and share right back. I’m so grateful. Flannery O’Connor said that “I write to discover what I know.”  You help me discover that. Thank you.
  • Sweetman and my sweetkids. They drive me batty. But for every new bat-like symptom I acquire, for every new twitch they inspire, I am grateful that they are mine. And I am theirs. I wouldn’t trade anything (You know what I would trade? A cast. I would trade that, actually.)
  • Italians. Si`. My “fache` booka`” loving sister-in-law, who thinks nothing of stopping an 11:00 pm card game of Rumino to call her sister (or one of 4 brothers) in another state to make sure no one is cheating, and my mother-in-law, who will cook up a storm and bake love into every single delicious bite.
  • Freedom. I’m not talking about the freedom that living in The United States provides, although I have no doubt that I don’t even understand how blessed being an American really is. I’m talking about the freedom to write what I want. Post when I want. Think how I want. It’s a gift, tenfold. I am thankful.

I’m going to end my thoughts right there. An Italian is calling from the kitchen telling me that breakfast is served. “Andiamo!”

“I’m coming!!!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Pain Has a Purpose

We can all identify with the experience of pain. Physically, it’s our bodies telling us something is rotten in Denmark. Mentally, I see pain as our spirit crying out. Whether it’s the chronic illness that will not respond to medical interventions or the chronic pain that a Sandpaper Person in your life provides, we all share that knowing.

Pain always has a purpose, though. I believe that with everything within me. And, God promises that our pain will not be forever. The same God who knit me together in my mother’s womb, who formed me before my mama ever knew she wanted to be with my daddy – He will turn my pain into something.

Something good.

Because even when All The Things are working against me, in every or any way imaginable, He is still able to work all those things together. For the good of those that love Him.

And I do love Him.

In fact I’m counting on Him to work some things together.

Can I get an ‘Amen’?

While I wait, though, it seems like a good idea to remember the very many “things” He has already worked together for my good.

Providing distance for relationships to heal.

Sending encouragement at the times I need it most.

Bestowing grace upon grace upon grace.

Supplying for needs I didn’t even know I had.

Illuminating the dark areas of my heart that I was unable to see.

Reminding me of His presence when I didn’t think to look for Him.

Knowing that my pain, whether physical or mental, has a purpose is comforting to me. Being able to look back and see places that Grace lovingly entered in and diluted the pain of a situation, is also a gift. It’s one that I keep unwrapping, years later, in some cases.

What a blessed reassurance that I matter. That whatever I find myself walking through, whether the valley of the shadow of death, taunts from those who don’t love me, or the very rotting of my bones, He will not leave.

I don’t know what pain you find yourself walking through, my friend. And, some of your pain I can’t comprehend. But, I know that some of you feel as if you are literally walking across hot coals. Surely, one of you are reading this post and you desperately need to hear this truth for the first time, or be reminded of it:

You matter. Your pain matters to God. He loves you.

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Rest in that, friend. And know that you are being prayed for.

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This post is day 26 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

How to Keep Reaching Your Mission Field

One of them sleeps in the soft violet bedroom down the hall. The other one hops around in the pale blue room next to hers. Together, they equal a vast mission field.

My mission field.

And that doesn’t even include the brilliant engineer who needs, too.

There is a lot of talk in the great Out There, right now, about how folks are feeling called to Go and Do.

The older I get, though, the more opportunities I see Here and Now.

We are an emotional bunch, us humans.  I don’t want to be All In when the rest of my community feels swept up in a tide of emotion over the latest greatest Giving Opportunity. Or serving opportunity. Or ice bucket challenge.

No.  I don’t.

I want, truly desperately want, to be swept up in the understanding that I am always, even right here in this living room, able to give.

A soft place to land for my Sweetman.

A safe place to just Be, free of judgement, for my Sweetboy.

A place to soothe the hurts of relational injustices for my Sweetgirl.

Do you know where your mission field is?

Because, truthfully?  I think I just figured out, after forty-some years of living, that mine really is just right down the hall.

And I’m thankful, once again, for the grace galore that is slathered over my rough places, smoothing them down.  It’s got to be so almighty trying to watch me chase some illusive “should” down a rabbit hole that was never meant to be traveled by me.

Thank you Jesus.  Thank you for shining light so I can get back out.  For loving me anyway. For the grace to keep traipsing down the hall in my fuzzy slippers toward the vast expanse of mission field within these four walls.

Please grant me another day to get up and attempt it all over again.

For Your glory.

And my refinement.

I’m asking for Your help here, God. Open my eyes to every opportunity You send my way, to keep reaching my mission field.  Make me able to meet the needs of as many as my heart will recognize.

Especially the least of these, at the other end of the hall.

She Made Turning 6 Look Easy

Dear Sweetgirl,

You may have made turning six look easy, this weekend, but it wasn’t.

Not for mama.

Weren’t you just teething yesterday?

Now, you’re losing those baby teeth.

And, I’m pretty sure you were uttering “Bruh-duh” just last week. But now? Now, you’re hollering for him by name.  He hears you.  We all hear you.

When you rocketed out into this world, all four pounds and ten ounces of you that we took home with us, we knew you would be a Sparkler in our lives.

And you have lived up to that expectation.

You sparkle in our family, Sweetgirl! Oh, yes you do!

You are funny and adventurous and sometimes far too talented in the smiling-to-get-your-way department.  You charm and delight and make life a constant roller coaster ride.

Have I ever told you how much I love roller coasters?

I love that chapter books are starting to replace Llama, Llama books.  I love that you are able to pick out your own clothes and that you love to point out how “it matches, mama! LOOK!”

I love that even your ice cream has to sparkle, as you insist on sprinkles smooshed down into the top of your hoodsie cups. And, MY, how brave you have become! You tried Dino chicken nuggets with brother – and liked them!  And hot dogs – but didn’t.

Princesses still reign supreme; and I’m okay with that.

Because, on the flip side, you love your pink soccer ball and jumping bravely into the ocean with no fear. As long as your bathing suit and soccer cleats are pink.

If you would just do me one teensy favor, Sweetgirl?  Just take it all slow.  Six is big!  And first grade is zooming up on our heels.  I just want you to enjoy being little for a bit longer.

God, this is where I ask you to make time turtle-crawl instead of march on.

I love you Sweetgirl.

Love,
Mama

 Sweetgirl_Six

Thankfuls 2

I’m sitting here with a tissue shoved up my nose typing away because my poor hand literally got tired of reaching for yet another tissue to stem the tide of…  We’ve got a house full of colds. I think that’s about all you really need to know.

Time to move along now.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that I am not a “finisher”. I am a Starter. And a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. I can start me an argument, for example, like no one’s business. But finishing it out? Well… that’s above my pay grade.

So, I’m making a commitment to see this Thankfuls thing through because a) I like the idea of this and 2) I need more Thankfulness in my life. How bout you?

Just putting it out there so that those of you who love me can call me out on it if I start slacking.

Without further ado, this week I am thankful for:

1) Tissues. Soft white tissues that have no lotion, thank-you-very-much.  I’ve gone through a couple of boxes in the last few days and Sweetboy and Sweetgirl have, too. The tissue making people see us coming and start jumping for joy. I know they do. I can feel their wallets shivering in anticipation of how many boxes we’ll go through,  today, alone!

2) Negative Strep Tests.  Yup. Per #1, there have been sore “froats” in our house again this week, but so far – we’ve all been declared strep free. Praise The Good Lord!

3) iPhones and facetime. There are some precious bloggers who have become real-life friends to me this past year.  Facetime has allowed me, well… some facetime with the ones who are cross country.  And some of them, unlike me, are great finishers, and chock-full of wisdom and guidance; which, The Facetime facilitates quite nicely. Plus, I can still be in my jammies while we talk.

4) Homelife Magazine.

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Some of my very most favorite writers (I’m eyeballin’ you Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson) write for Homelife, on occasion; as do Kristen Welch and Mark Batterson and a bunch of others who write words that I just eat on up.

and lastly…

5) Sweetgirl and I got some special one-on-one time while Sweetboy was at Karate this week.  She determined that we would play “friends” with her favorite stuffed animals. (I jokingly asked her if mama could name them Joey, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Monica. She was not amused. She was, however, confused.) I am so thankful for some mommy-daughter time. I love me some mama-son time, too, but this week, it was Team Pink!  And this is where the action took place. (And I secretly named the sisters on the right Phoebe and Ursula, because, FRIENDS!)

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And that, as they say, is a wrap.  Which I’m about to go crawl into. Because I’m cold. I may even snuggle up with Phoebe. And Ursula.

Yes indeedy!

What are you thankful for this week?