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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Ever run something through your brain so much that you need a mental health day from your own mind?

Yeah, totally that girl right now. I know it's all part of this process of being refined and pressed down and decreasing and learning to trust which means I can do it if I have my confidence in the right place.

But, tonight, my brain aches. And my heart hurts a little. And my temper is ragged and frayed. And my mouth hurts from keeping it closed when there are so many things that want to pour out in a torrent at times. These times are good for me...lather, rinse, repeat.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Boundaries, lines, and the ripple effect

I am having one of those weeks. It seems like I have one of those weeks every 3 months or so and it's the kind of week where everything leading up to it has been smooth sailing. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all is right in the world.

But, then, something from a long time ago in a very different life to the one I have now will pop up on the horizion. And I will worry and fret and remember and grow cold and warm up as it gets closer and closer. Knowing darn well that it's best to leave it alone. Knowing it's better to turn around and walk away so I can't see it on the horizion any longer and maybe forget it's there. And, there is some improvement in the sense that my resistance is being built up. It takes longer for me to succumb...but I still end up giving in. I don't jump in with both feet any longer, but I still dip my toe in the water which is long enough for all those things from long ago to rush over me and fill me with dread, regret, anxiety, guilt, remorse, discontentment, and wondering what if.

None of these things are profitable. None of these things help me reach my goal of ascending. None of these things help me leave the past behind. And after I've pushed past the boundary, I remember why it's not good for me to go to that place.

I just need to be better about remembering BEFORE the line is crossed. And, I have GOT to get some of these issues settled within myself so the pull is no longer there. There are some very basic things that I'm still struggling to answer at this point. The first there room in your life for people who don't adhere to the same standards? Especially people who were part of your past and only know who you were back then. Would they be interested in being a part of your life if they got to know you now?

What I am finding as these people pop back into my life is that most of them DO want to be a part of my life again. And the main reason that continues to come up is because I'm not the same person. I don't act the same way. I'm in a better place now and they want to know who I am now. This is encouraging....but at the same time, depending on who they were to me in my past...there are a lot of emotions and feelings that seem to get dredged up and that has the potential to cause problems. And in some cases, my life has moved forward/changed so much while they are still in the same place doing the same things they were when we were running around which means it's hard to find common ground so we end up talking about "the good old days." For the record, my good old days were not that great. Looking back, most of them were heart breaking now that my perspective on life has been altered. Significantly.

The second thing that needs resolution is how much effect will me letting people from the past back in have on P and J? Obviously, I would want to include them in the process. It's important for anyone from back then to realize that I'm married now. I'm a mom now. I don't have the time or interest to do a lot of things that we used to do back in the day. But, depending on my past relationships with some of these people, it could be difficult for everyone concerned. You read about lost loves reconnecting through Facebook and all of that and I know that's not something I'm out looking for...but I have no idea what's driving the other person to reach out and make the connection with me. And when I do feel compelled to make a connection with someone, am I always sure of my motivation?

Most of the time, I feel completely overwhelmed by what's happened in the past and a huge desire to make it right.

But, maybe I need to just turn the valve off before any of that occurs. Maybe I need to draw a line over the past and only focus on the here and now. Maybe it's all a giant test to see where my heart is in these matters.

The only thing that's really clear to me is that I need a lot more wisdom and a lot more discernment in the matter. Especially since this issue seems to come up a lot for me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Letting people in....

I have decided that the 3 year old in me who was incredibly "slow to warm" when it came to most people is still very much alive and well. On occasion, I will meet someone that I instantly like or feel close to, but, for the most part, I don't make my mind up until weeks, months, or years after meeting a new person.

I like to observe and listen and take notes before I open my life up and let someone new in. I am beginning to realize that this quirk is going to clash with the way I am wanting to live my life. Especially in regards to those people who are also a part of the body of Christ. I think I'm entering into one of those seasons of being stretched and pushed and molded into something better. It's a difficult process for me. I can see the need for growth and I can acknowledge the benefits that will come from it, but as it's happening to me, there are times when I feel myself saying, "Really, Lord? Is that really something that has to be addressed right now? Really?" And the answer to date has always been a resounding YES.

One area that I feel some pain in already is the boundaries of being content pressing even tighter inward. It seems like my husband and I will go through a season of learning to live frugually and once we accept it and walk in it for a length of time, something unexpected comes along and we're able to take care of some of our more pressing "to do's". Then, we'll have a season of not having to watch everything so closely while still living well within our means. This time around, our carefully calculated annual budget had to be readjusted in a major way a few weeks ago. We made the finanical decision together that I could stay home with J when he was born because there were several other sources of income that equaled the salary I was bringing in. It's been smooth sailing since then but due to changes at P's company, we're not going to receive all of the extra income unless something miraculous happens. We're going to be okay thanks to us using our more prosperous times to completely get out of debt with the exception of the house, but we are going to have a lot more rice and beans nights and a lot less bargain shopping (my vice) and probably a lot less Direct TV/Fox Soccer Channel (his vice). I'm really thankful that my husband and I are on the same page and that he has had the foresight to use the extra income from last year to pay our mortgage this year. It has left us just enough room to buy exactly what we need for the rest of 2011 without me having to leave J and return to work. It also means we won't have the added cost of childcare which would most likely end up using most of any salary I could bring in. It's encouraging to me that even in the midst of the lessons, He still knows how to take care of our needs. It increases my faith a lot.

The second area that I think I am probably going to have some growing in ties back to being patient with EVERYONE (not just the people I like) and having a lot of wisdom about who I can allow to spend a lot of time with J. It's all about finding that balance of being loving and transparent and open with everyone without dropping my guard about who is influencing is my son. For example, there are a few people who have expressed that they would love to spend more time with J. They have expressed disappointment over not being able to hold him until he was several months old. They have gone out of their way to buy him presents and offer parenting advice. But, because of my tendency to watch, observe, and take notes, I haven't been comfortable with allowing them to have a lot of access to J. I have observed them with other children and other parents and have noticed a pattern of them taking a lot of liberties with other people's children once the door was opened. Tattling, bossing around, giving unnecessary instruction, handing the children off to other people without checking with the parents first, and feeding babies table food without the parents being asked are some of the behaviors that concern me. I don't want someone thinking that because they have held J once, they will always have the right to come up and take him away from me without asking me first. As a result, I have been very protective with J and have preferred to keep him with me whenever we are out and about. If I have to leave him, I prefer my mother or my sisters to come stay with him. He was almost 4 months old before I took him to the grocery store because I didn't want anyone touching him or breathing on him. Overprotective, probably yes, a little. But, at the same time, he is my most precious gift and I would never want to allow anything to come into his life that could have a negative effect. 

But, now that he is getting older, I think I am going to have work through some of this "slow to warm" mentality with those who are in the Body of Christ and be more willing to interact with all the members, regardless of what they may or may not have done that lines up with my parenting mentality. I have to realize at some point that I need to be more patient with those who are working through things. And even more patient with those who might not yet realize that they have some things to work on. If I want patience extended toward me, I have to be willing to give it. If I want openess and kindness, I have to be willing to show both. If I want forgiveness, I have to be willing to forgive. 

Growing up is hard...but I have been promised that it will be worth it. And letting people in will be worth it as long as I'm using a lot of wisdom and discernment to figure out who, when, and how much to let in at any given point.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Grain of Salt

Two things always stand out in my mind when it comes to salt...the first being that anything I say is to be seasoned with salt and the second thing being that when it comes to certain people, everything I hear needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

The first is a struggle for me at times. I'm pretty blunt and I purpose to lay things out as clearly as possible. Don't get me wrong, I love a good allegory as much as the next person, but most of the time, I find it's easier to get my point across if I just state things plain and dry. My husband told me last night that this is a good thing...most of the time. It's not such a good thing if I'm leaning towards not liking the person I'm conversing with because in those instances plain and dry can become cutting to the quick. The last thing I want is to hurt anyone with my words out of spite or maliciousness. Now, if someone gets their feelings hurt because I've been honest with them or pointed something out that they have asked about, that's on them. I regress a little but the main thrust is that I'm working on ALL of my speech being seasoned with salt. If I'm going to say something out loud, it needs to be benefitting to those who happen to hear it. If it doesn't benefit, I would do better to just keep it to myself.

The second is becoming something I default to when it comes to anyone that I don't know very well or haven't seen a consistent pattern of truth telling in their lives. I don't mean they flat out lie. I mean I've seen a tendency to stretch the truth, add to the truth, take away from the truth, or share an interpretation of the truth. Telling some of the truth is worse than telling a flat out lie in my book because the person hearing the news has to wade through it all and sort out what's fact, what's fiction, and what's opinion before they can determine what impact (if any) the news has on their life or what role they might need to play in the situation.

And then, there is just plain old gossip which is something I cannot abide. BECAUSE if I'm not part of the problem, I'm probably not going to be part of the solution. And if I'm not part of the solution, what purpose does it serve anyone for me to know about something that's none of my business? I've made it a policy and put it out there many times that if it's gossip, I would rather not know. Does this mean that I'm not accosted by people on a fairly regular basis? Of course not. But, I have noticed that instead of it being presented as gossip, it's usually presented as news which means it falls into giving it a good dose of salt before, during, and after we're done speaking to each other.

And that's why salt is becoming my go to on giving and receiving words. And with some people that happen to be in my life, I'd almost rather we didn't speak because it's such a process to actually get to the bottom of what they're trying to tell me.

But, that falls under the "being patient" category which I definitely need to do some growing in because I know the Lord has certainly been very patient with me which means I need to extend the same amount of patience to everyone else. And, I know I have a lot of growing up to do too. Still.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's something I haven't been able to put my finger on...

Until today. I need an outlet. A place to put all the random things that run through my brain that aren't important enough to interrupt someone's day with a phone call, but too funny/amusing/thoughtful/entertaining/otherwise to let them slip away. Or worse, try to capture with pen, pencil, and paper. Some of us are just too clumsy to deal with such cumbersomeness.

Today's random thought: Wouldn't it be nice to have a yearly evaluation for everything in your life? It's simply unfair that those in the workplace are the only ones who get to engage in this activity. Can't you imagine how liberating it would be to sit down with everyone in your life who takes up any kind of significant time and honestly tell them the things they are doing well with you, the areas that need improvement, and the goals for going forward? As long as the evaluation was tactful and you were open to receiving one as well, I think this could take all kinds of relationships to a better level.

Instead of having to drop subtle (or not so subtle) hints about your likes and dislikes, you could make note throughout the year and then lay it out in a calm, rational manner. Instead of having to have a disclaimer on my Facebook profile about how much I dislike unsolicitated parenting advice and hoping that the people I'm directing it at would actually take notice and STOP DOING IT, I could just make notes in their file and when that time of year rolled around, I could site the examples of them doing it and then make it a goal for them to knock it off in the year to come. If they fail to work on it, they may be demoted in the friendship department to acquaintance.

"Oh, so harsh! Who do you think you are? How can you be so cold about your friends?" I can hear the protests and hackles standing up on the back of some necks. My response is....just picture that one person in your life who manages to get under your skin. Even when you have given yourself a stern talking to after you've seen them or pep talked yourself up in anticipation of the encounter. Picture sitting across from them at a conference table, forms spread out in front of you, them waiting in anticipation to hear the news....and imagine giving them some good news (I really like your chocolate chip cookies, Peggy Sue....they really brighten my day whenever you make some for me) followed by some bad news (but...what we really need to work on is how you take every opportunity to offer insulting parenting advice like don't allow my child to stick metal objects into electrical outlets. Honestly, what normal, average, common sense abiding parent with a brain in their head would allow their 6 month old to do such a thing?) followed by some good news (I really like how we have the same taste in movies. It makes it so easy to talk to you at dinner parties) followed by the goal (So, Peggy Sue, over the next year, I really hope you bake me some more cookies and watch a movie with me...but let's really focus on you NOT offering ANY parenting advice AT ALL. EVER.)

It would be awesome.