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.**

You Know When You Can’t Find That One Hair?

If you’ve got hair, (and I’m not judging because, Sweetman… well, he doesn’t) then you will totally know the feeling I’m about to describe.

You’re going about your business and you feel a hair that has clearly sprung loose from your head. It’s somewhere right… over… there. No! Maybe farther down your back, right down… there. NO! Dadgumit! Where is that blasted hair?

You can feel it. It tickles the back of your arm every time you turn slightly left. Or bend down to get the stray cheerio off the floor.

Determined to find it, you start grabbing at the back of your shirt in quick grabby bursts, hoping that you’ll nab it.

And suddenly, you find yourself on an all-out assault on this errant hair.

But, then, you’ve had it! So, you remove your arms from the sleeves of your shirt and turn the thing around so that you can do a full-on search for this dratted hair.

AH! There you are… gotcha!

Except, your darling husband walks in to find you standing in the middle of the room, eyes all wild, with neither of your arms through the sleeve holes in your shirt, irritated as all get out, muttering about a hair.

He looks at you like he doesn’t know whether to snap a picture and Instagram it, or potentially have you committed.

So, you say, “You know when you can’t find that one hair?”

And he calmly says, “No.”

And you realize that you are directing your question to the (nearly) bald-headed love of your life.

This leads to a deep sigh.

From both of you.

Followed, thankfully, by laughter.

And that, my friends, is marriage.

Yes indeedy.

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.

I Used To Think I Needed People

I used to think I needed “people”.

Last year, if you had asked me if I could ever see myself joining an online Bible study, I may well have gotten a good long chuckle out of the question. I’m a people person, you see.  I am invigorated and filled with joy at being with others.  Being able to reach out and hug the neck of a friend, or lay a reassuring hand on the shoulder of another mama, or look into the eyes of a sister and share in some joy with her?  That’s The Stuff I live for.

But, God…

He had other plans for me.

Life turns, as it is want to do. And as I looked around me at All The Quiet and the lack of necks to hug, I realized that I had a choice to make.  I could say #YesToGod in whatever He had for me in this new season; or, I could stand with my hands clenched tight wondering about the road ahead and what it would look like and where it would lead and if I would like it and… That’s no way to spend a day. Or a season. It’s just not.

So… I heard the messages God seemed to be sending me.  The ones he sent through His Word. The ones He sent through precious friends urging me to stay plugged in, For The Love.  He sent me a podcast or three, and a radio broadcast or two, and a magazine article or four, about the growing trend of online Bible study.

Light dawned on this marble head of mine.

I heard.

My heart said, “Yes God. I will do this thing. I’ll engage right here.”

Although it felt like a small thing, this yes to God, it wasn’t.

I am beginning to see that it was a surrender. And a beautiful one at that.

I stood ready to be amazed by what this new obedience would bring.

And, what did it bring?

It brought a much deeper appreciation for the self-discipline required to crack open the Word of God with the intent of digging in deeper. Without a team to urge you on in person, or a table with 10 sets of eyes looking at you for your next thought on a passage of scripture, or the agenda for the next hour and a half in front of you and the clock to remind you that you need to stick to it.  Thank God for giving us a spirit of self-discipline!  I’ve been needing that Spirit, something fierce, these last few months.

This particular “yes” to God brought a realization of how very different the rhythms of online Bible study are than in real life Bible study.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all available to me 24/7.  I can hop on and engage in a conversation about what all of this obedience looks like whenever I am able, or whenever I feel led to.

And, maybe most significantly, my “yes” brought me back to an awareness of my need for daily grace. What attempts to compete for God’s attention for you, my friend?  Because, this little sinner can tell you, the list is long over here.  L.O.N.G.  And it can even get a little whack-a-mole ish.  My husband pops up and says things like, “Hey! Remember me?  We used to kiss a lot.”  And just when I think I’ve got the endless stream of twitter feed/facebook status/blog comments under control,  the Sweet Children pop their noses up close to mine and attempt to nuzzle, reminding me that there is real life love to be given, too.  And don’t even get me started on the dust bunnies that come out of nowhere, the books piled high in hopes of being read, or the magazines from 2011 that hope to be perused in this decade.

That little yes that I uttered? It brought a beauty to obedience that I’d never seen before.  It brought a startling beauty to surrender. I can maneuver through my day knowing that God will be woven throughout every thought, word, and deed.  I can do no thing apart from Him anyway.

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In saying yes, God gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear that I don’t necessarily need “people”. But I do necessarily need Him.

And in Him I will remain.

Yes indeedy.

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below!

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