You Are Not Alone

“Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”  

-H. Jackson Brown Jr.

*I feel like I’ve written this before. Have I? I have, haven’t I. Welp, even if I have, it feels timely to hit this up again.*

Hitting rock bottom hurts. Have you ever been there? How many times? Am I the only one who seems to carry a frequent flier card to this destination?

I wish we could pull our feet up under us and sit staring at each other across a couch and have this conversation. Face to face. There are so many of us. There have to be.

I refuse to believe that I’m the only one who sits in a pit so often.

Time can drag on, too, until I remember the only way out is up. Then again, I can wallow at the bottom like I was born to.

Tell me I’m not alone. Because I can confidently state that you are not. Alone.

And when the pit is deep, it can feel bleak. And when it feels dark and disheartening, I can get numb.

I don’t know about you, but once numbness creeps in on me, even music hits different. If I can even hear the music at all. The worst is when the music stops altogether. Sadness slides in. Depression deepens. And sometimes, the music just stops making its way to my ears.

Or worse, to my heart.

If I sit with the pain and the hopelessness of it all and allow myself to just feel all those feelings, one of two things happen. Positively, I will eventually, once again, realize rock bottom is not where I’m meant to stay. Negatively, I burrow down into the angst and allow it to snuff out joy.

When you feel like you are hovering with one step hanging right over the edge of that rock-bottom pit, what do you do? Especially this hot minute as routines have gone haywire and security seems out of reach.

I’m no therapist.

But, I have been fortunate enough to interact with a few amazing ones over the last two decades. Here’s a little something to work with when you feel like you haven’t got squat to work with. It’s a little of what has helped me in the past and is helping me right now:

  • Find something, anything,to be grateful for. Anything. Say out loud to anyone, or no one, what that thing is and how grateful you are for it. (The other day, for me, it was the ability cry. Seriously. I just needed to know I could still feel. And the crying felt cathartic. And I was grateful.)
  •  Look, really look, for something to laugh at or about. Anywhere. Then do it. Laugh. Whether it’s for 5 seconds or five minutes. (I was able to search through my phone for memes that made me laugh. Once I got started, I was able to feel like climbing a step or two up from the bottom of my latest.)
  • Tell yourself that you are not alone in this. Anytime. Say it. “I am not alone in this.” (I had to repeat this to myself a couple dozen times in the shower this past week.)
  • Call, or text, someone. Anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone you are related to or even close to. Just connect with a human to let them know you aren’t doing okay. And if you have no one to call, please call a hotline. Here’s one: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
    Here is another one: SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline, 1-9-800-662-4357.

Most importantly, know that there are so many of us struggling. Isolation is the worst thing for a pit dweller. We struggle to keep hope near.

Please! Please remember…

You are not alone.

You are valuable. To me. To others you may not even know. To The One Who Created You.

You are worthy. Of love. And time. And attention.

You are able. To keep struggling. To climb up. To find joy.

You have help. From professionals and volunteers. From family, or friends, or even acquaintances.

You are not alone.

 

 

You Gotta Think Positive

When negative thoughts rise within him, Sweetboy needs as many hands on deck as possible to redirect him towards hope. Sometimes, my earnest hugs and feeble words don’t come close to touching his darkest thoughts. Or, it might be a day where my mood might be a tad bit darker than his, making it even harder to help him move toward joy.

But God…

He provided me with Sweetman, who can pick up where I leave off. And He also saw fit to give us Sweetgirl, who carries hope in her pocket every hour of every day.

It’s within the safety net of home that we are able to be helpers to each other. We find ourselves dancing around each others’ moods with just the right steps. And we come to know which moves to use under what circumstances, the longer we have had to be in each others’ presence.

I’m grateful that Autism touches our family. It forces us to dance to rhythms we might never have chosen. It also teaches us to be patient as we learn new moves.

I’ve been giving negativity a lot of thought, lately; as in, wanting to give it the boot. And, when I read this blog post about the ill effects of negativity, by Michael Hyatt last week, holy cow! My determination to keep moving Sweetboy in positive directions got a major boost.

To that end, Sweetgirl and I made up a chant to help our Sweetboy think more positively. Our little ditty isn’t likely to win any Dove or Grammy Awards, but it surely does help to snap that child’s mind into a better place. And, while he does indeed groan whenever we fire it up, we’ve started hearing him hum it to himself as he bounces around the house, once in a while.

“You’ve got to think POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE! And only think the BEST, the BEST, the BEST!”

(I totally stole that from God. In Philippians 4:8. Where He directs us to think about only the things that are good and worthy of praise.)

Progress – that’s all any of us can hope for as we go along. Certainly not perfection. There was only One who was perfect. And He longs for us to keep moving forward, inching our way as we crawl on our bellies, some days. But, moving forward, nonetheless.

One way to keep taking steps in the right direction is to keep our eyes on all that is good. Another way to do that is to surround ourselves with folks who look for the best in a situation. I see us, Sweetgirl, Sweetman, and me, as those people for our Sweetboy.

And, I pray God continues to surround him with those people outside of our four walls.

Ahab always told us to “plan for the worst and hope for the best”. Solid advice, that.

And I’d add, you gotta think positive!

Yes indeedy!

A Different Kind of Twitter Party

Within one week of moving into the “new house”, five years ago, I received an early morning wake-up call.

I detest early morning wake-up calls.

This particular “howdy” came at 4:00 in the morning.

That’s not even morning time, people!

It hailed from the birds (and I can only assume there were one hundred and seventy-two of them from the cacophony they made) all perched on the one branch hanging closest to my bedroom window.

Sweetman, bless his heart, was sawing logs.

That’s snoring, for you uninitiated.

But these birds, they were determined to have an all-out twitter party. Right outside my bedroom window. I could not, no matter how hard I tried, fall back to sleep with All The Tweeting.

I envisioned a Lookout Bird peeking in my blinds for signs that I was nodding off.

“Twitter… NOW!” I imagined it saying to his tweety peeps.

And they did. Oh, how they did!

For hours.

This same party happens every year around the same time of year.

As in, now.

So, last night…

“I have children to mother, you birds!”

They were unfazed.

I rattled the window.

Ah, that stopped them!

For five seconds.

I decided that a change of venue might lure me back to sleep. So, I tip-toed downstairs and read a Good Word. I wrote a few not-so-good words. I prayed some desperate-for-sleep words.

No sleep.

I trudged back up the stairs hoping, praying, that the dratted Twitter Party was over.

Alas, it was not.

So, I decided to make a game of it by giving each different tweeter a name.

Sarge was the most vocal. And it may well have been a female, because I know in this house…

Sweetpea was melodic. I didn’t mind her so much.

Doodle seemed to have trouble staying with a train of tweet. I feel ya, birdie.

Brutus gave loud quick calls in the midst of all the twittering. Maybe he was the flock’s governing official?

On and on it went. It was quite the twitter party, only, one I had no desire to be at.

And then, finally, somewhere in the midst of Doodle and Sweetpea’s duet, I fell asleep.

bird_on_wire_missindeedy

Only to wake up to my sweetchildren announcing, “Mama! Wake up! The birds are singing.”

Indeed.

After five years, I’ve finally gotten smart. For, today, I asked Mr. Google, “How do I scare away unwanted birds?”  He was not very helpful, as most of the advice provided involved finding an acceptable noise to drown out the singing. Useless because 1) I already use a box fan for sound and 2) Snore-a-saurus is in the bed next to me.

Wading through talk of territorial males and migratory bird law, I was able to uncross my eyes long enough to stumble across a possible solution.

If you need me, I’ll be searching for bird netting. And stringing it across every tree in my front yard.

And, if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days?

It worked.

 

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?

Tunnel_Vision_Missindeedy

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.

I’m a Big Fat Liar, Too

Every time I say I won’t do something again, like eyeball – or worse, eat – another devil dog, I’m lying. I know it. Sweetman knows it. Even the grocery store cashier knows it. In fact, maybe she knows it most of all. One of those dear souls will half-jokingly ask me if everything’s okay if I haven’t been through with a box of my sweet treats in more than a couple of weeks.

Oh, I say I won’t eat another one again. I may even mean it. The point is, I lie.

And, not just about my eating habits.

Here’s the truth: I’m one hot mess of a human.

I need God.

I need His grace.

I need to keep rubbing shoulders with others who can remind me that I don’t have to keep apologizing over and over and over again for sins of gluttony, slander, covetousness, and the host of other things I constantly find my humanity bumping up against.

Because, Jesus came so that I could keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And trying it all over again with the next breath He gives me.

Jesus came so that I could see, so that you could see, how desperately we humans are in need of grace throughout our days.

All of these thoughts are swirling around me this past week, as news of Brian Williams’ audacity to lie about news he was delivering, to lie to us on national television, is broadcast through every media outlet possible.

As if, there are no other lies on National Television.

Do I even need to go there?

Are we all so righteously living, and grace-less, that we can decide how awful a man is without thought to how thoroughly hypocritical that is?  Aren’t we all staring down the tube of our own RPG’s daily? Even if only in our minds?

He screwed up.

I don’t know about you, but I do this daily.

Hourly.

Yep. I’m a big fat liar, too.

I thank God for the grace to keep trying again.

I’d like to think that we can extend grace beyond where we feel comfortable.

Lord only knows how often it’s done on our behalf.

Yes indeedy.

Five Reasons I Don’t Jump to the Comments

Social Media and blogging accomplish much. For me, it provides opportunities for connection as a writer, as a Believer, as a Mother of an atypical kid on the Autism Spectrum, and as a Bama’ Alumnus. My interactions with people online have led to forming some mighty strong bonds of friendship – friendships that have only been encouraged to grow, as I’ve been able to meet some of these people in real life, over the years.

But…

I’ve learned that there is also dark side to the Internets.

It’s found in the comments and replies.

While there is a beautiful place for comments that encourage and support, and even question, it is one that needs to be entered with Light. With all The Light within.

Here are just five reasons why I choose not to jump to the comments, in some places.

1. If the article, post, or tweet is even remotely precocious, the comments are extreme. Extreme makes me break out in hives.

2. Comments on an inflammatory issue rarely include facts. And when they do, they are often absent of the grace that laces productive conversations. Grace, like oxygen, seems to be sucked right out of the environment. I like grace. I need oxygen.

3. As, quite possibly, El Presidente`of The Feelers Club, my emotions can run high all by themselves. And when my emotions start outrunning the facts, voila`! My already limited ability to be tactful or sensitive in certain situations is quashed. It’s not pretty. I’m not pretty.

4. Have you ever gotten into a commenting war with someone presenting the other side, and gotten to the end and said to yourself, “Why yes! That was the best 3 hours of my life!” Me either.

5. Every time I encounter a commenting hater, “Shake It Off“, by Taylor Swift, is stuck in my head for far too long. Touche` haters. Touche`.

This doesn’t mean that there is no place for comments. Or for debate. Lord knows that I love a good healthy debate! And, here, in this space, I’ve only encountered encouraging, helpful, and graceful comments. (And made more than a few life-long friends, in the deal!)

It does mean, however, that I will often read a piece written by one of the Internets and either jump down to my reply space to encourage or question the writer, or walk away considering it further. Because, the older I get, the more wisdom I find in these truths:

They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions” 1 Timothy 6:4 (NIV)

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Titus 3:9 (ESV)

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.” 2 Timothy 2:23 (NLT)

Those are some good Words, right there.

I’m sure you could add a reason, or four, that I’ve never even considered. And that is one of the many beautiful benefits of the commenting areas.

But, maybe that’s a post for another day.

Yes indeedy.

Let’s Recap, Shall We

Last week, we were all about this:

Hot_Pink_Cast_MissindeedyBecause, Lord knows there’s not enough drama around here. And, I can now add reason number 237 to my list of “Reasons Why I Detest Trampolines”. All I can say is, thank goodness for Hot Pink Castery. (I’m becoming my own veritable dictionary, aren’t I?)

Thankfully, the weekend was more celebratory!

First, this happened:

masquerade_missindeedyWe attended a fundraiser for our kids’ elementary school. It was nice to get all gussied up, talk to other parents (sans children), and hit the dance floor! (I don’t want to brag, but I do a mean Y.M.C.A.) And, although I had to practice wearing heels (again) for a few minutes a day for the week leading up to it, the night was a huge success.

Then, Saturday, it was all this:

Bama_Movin_MissindeedyThis move up in the AP Rankings made me all sorts of happy, because

SEC_Funny

We ended the weekend on this note:

B_day_MissindeedyAnd, I don’t feel even a little bit older. I will say, we counted up the number of teacups and saucers that my grandparents have faithfully sent The Birthday Flowers in over The Years, and… there are a few decades worth. That can age a person real fast.

In the ebb and flow of life, though, I’m feeling like the tide is pretty high. (You see what I did there? No? It’s a Bama thing.)

Yes indeedy.

An Open Letter to the Pest Control Man

Dear Pest Control Man,

I want to thank you for coming, faithfully each quarter, to check on the status of our critter control issues. I also want to thank you for braving the deepest recesses of our unfinished attic. Your willingness to climb a ladder and root around up there on your knees to make sure no varmint have intruded on our homey bliss, endears you to me.

Can we also talk for a moment about how kind you are when you catch me running out the door, forgetting we had a standing appointment? Every. Single. Time. You are so kind. Thank you for that.

And now, I must offer my deepest condolences for what took place on Tuesday. I realize that I cannot make you un-see what you saw.

I had just finished telling the children how wonderful it would be to spend the Veterans Day off of school, in our pajamas for as long as we wanted. I was, in fact, padding to the kitchen for my second leisurely cup of coffee, when you rang our doorbell. My mind was clearly not prepared for your arrival.

Neither, most unfortunately, was our home.

As usual, you were gracious as I opened the door to you, exclaiming that I had forgotten that you were coming for your quarterly inspection.

And, OH MY SWEET MOSES, how I had forgotten!

You see, it was only after you left our home and drove away that I ventured upstairs to put the ladder you used, out of our closet and back into the garage. I know you try not to see my messy bed and clothes piled up on the ironing board and bookstacks, a mile high by both sides of the bed. I imagine you must valiantly try to focus on your destination, as you travel through my master bathroom to get to my closet, which is where the attic door is located. I know that you have seen dirty pajamas, and other things, that didn’t quite make it into the laundry hamper.

And this time, I was able to see that I had left, for your viewing, three freshly laundered bras hanging from the towel rack. Directly in front of the only door you could walk through.

Please, please forgive me!

I will not allow this to happen again.

I will, however, need to greet you the next time from behind a mask. Please, try not to think of how strange it will be.

At least, I hope it is no stranger than walking through a curtain of ladies undergarments to go hunting for evidence of critters.

Most Sincerely,

Eternally Embarrassed

P.S. Siri and I have agreed to alert me to your next quarterly appointment, no less than 10 times in the hour leading up to your arrival. I hope this will prove helpful. For both of us.

P.P.S. Your eyes were filled with an extra measure of mirth, as you left. I believe I know why.

Ten Second Grace Period

Ten seconds seem like a sweet forever when you want something Other than what you need.

As any recovering addict can tell you, every second that you are able to stay away from the thing that you crave is a second of victory. And any God-loving addict will also tell you that every second you move closer to Him and away from That Thing That Beckons is a gift of grace.

I pray for a ten second grace period, often, throughout my day. Indeed, there have been 24-hour stretches, around here, where I probably spent more time begging God to provide those seconds than I did anything else.

Some days, you need a whole heckuva lot more than a few extra seconds to get your act in gear. Other days, it only takes a split second to make the better choice.

Or, not.

In her new book, The Best Yes, Lysa TerKeurst says you “steer where you stare”.

Today, God, grace me with a few extra seconds to fix my gaze on You. Tweet that!

I don’t know what you specifically need a grace period for, but I know that we humans? We all need one for something.  I pray you get that, today, my friend.

Oh, how I do!

31days_of_grace_button_missindeedy

This post is day 10 in the Write 31 Days challenge.

If you’re just tuning in now, click here to go to the page that has the link to the previous 9 days.

 

Out of the Rain

Kicking and screaming – that’s how I finally went off, this morning, to engage in the women’s ministry offerings at our “new” church. This being the official One Year mark since we first started attending regularly, you might be picking up on what a struggle it’s been for me to fully embrace this place.

I rushed into the building resentful, late, and dripping wet.

Resentful that I had to “start over”. Late because I found every possible last-minute “forgotten” chore to take care of before walking out the door. And dripping wet because, well… rain was pouring down.

To match my mood.

Scanning the room, I quickly sat down at the way way back, in the first free chair I laid eyes on.  As I scooted into the open chair, I determined to keep my heart closed.

But, I made a grave error… I breathed.

And a prayer escaped, unbidden.

Despite the feeling I’d had this past year that God forgot my need for flesh-and-blood fellowship, a fresh Hope blew in.

Fresh_Hope_Missindeedy

Instantly, I realized that I was sitting with a small group of three women that clearly already knew each other. And, they didn’t seem to be very open, themselves.

But, because I’ve never met a stranger, thank-you-very-much, I started chatting this group up.  In my mind, I was drawing them out.

As usual, God had something altogether different, and altogether lovely, in mind.

From the moment the first one started speaking about the dark places she’s been, I realized she had a story that I wanted I needed to hear. Hers was so completely different from mine. And yet, the same in all of the important places. As the next woman spoke of past entanglements that I full understand, hers, too, became a story of redemption that my heart desperately needed to hear.

Redemption comes softly and not.  But, He always comes. And only Redemption, Himself, knows exactly when we will be ready to fall at His feet and welcome union with Him.

I’ve been giving this passage a lot of thought lately.

Exodus 13:17-18 says, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a round about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”

Recognizing their inability to face a challenge at this early stage in their freedom journey, God routed them differently than expected.

I am no different.

God knows how susceptible I am to a setback at the beginning stages of a new adventure.

Oh God, You knew! You knew that I desperately needed to sit next to a group of women who so recognize their need of you that I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own.

And You knew, too, that had I attempted to join in last Fall, it would have been a detour that my heart wasn’t ready for.

But. For. Grace.

Thank You for opening my ears to hear Your whisper, and my eyes to see your outstretched arm through these beautiful women this morning.

Maybe, even more, for loving me enough to pull me out of the rain and into Your Holy arms, once again.

I so needed that fresh Hope.