I wish…

I got a message from my mom this week that shook me. One of my many cousins had passed away in his sleep. He was just a few years older than me. I hadn’t seen him in way too many years, but when I received news of his death, that didn’t matter. Steve was that one relative that everyone was drawn to. He had an amazingly quick wit and was always laughing. He included everyone in the conversation and made those around him feel special. My most vivid memories of him were the times we all spent on Granny’s farm – mostly at family reunions. Those days – oh how do I long for those days again.

We would typically start to gather at the farm on Friday night. Often there would be a bonfire with roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. When Saturday would roll around, more and more family would arrive with food and hugs and hellos. After catching up – the day would really get started. One of my favorite memories of those days was the volleyball games we played in the field between Granny’s house and the old barn. I never tired of those games. We crowded as many as we could on to each side of the “court” and everybody got a turn. Laughing and joking were as prevalent as setting and spiking during those endless games. Near the volleyball game, was the horseshoe game – most often played between the “uncles” – who could be heard jeering and bragging about whose shoe was the closest.

The only thing that would stop us from playing was when the food was ready. Table after table cut through the middle of Granny’s front yard, covered in homemade dishes that seemed to never run out. We would find a spot in the shade of the tree and sit to eat. I remember listening to stories from Granny and all of my aunts and uncles about growing up in a house with 12 kids. What I wouldn’t give to sit and listen to those stories now. As a young kid, I liked hearing them, but truly didn’t understand how special the memories of those times would become. After eating (not that it really ever stopped, as we sort of grazed for the remainder of the day) there would most certainly be music. It seemed everyone had a guitar or banjo and they all came out for our afternoon entertainment. I can still feel that music in my soul. It is who I am – who my family is.

Sitting here typing, I wish I would have spent just ONE more summer day down on Granny’s farm. I wish I would have done a better job of keeping in touch with all of my cousins. I wish more than anything that I could remember every single minute of every single reunion – every taste, every laugh, every song. I am so sad that I did not know Steve as well as an adult as I did when we were kids. Life is so precious – and so fragile. And while I am so very sad for all the time that has gone by, I am more than grateful for the beautiful memories I have.

I have nothing to say…

Here I sit…staring at the blank screen so desperately wanting to have something creative to say. I love writing. I love creating with words. But for the last several months, I have had nothing to say. And that it so frustrating. It causes me to doubt myself and my ability to even have an original thought. Where has my passion gone? I feel lost and can’t even hear my own voice for all of the noise surrounding me. How do I find my center again and refuel my passion for creating. What will it take for me to lift my voice and be heard?

I refuse to give up on this outlet that has brought me so much joy over the years. I will spend time thinking and reflecting and listening to myself. Drown out the noise. Be still. Be quiet. Find my voice again.

A Cheerful Heart

For the past few weeks I have been battling my fibromyalgia pain in a BIG way. Most of the time I can manage the pain and it stays around a 2-3 (1-10 scale). Lately, I have let anxiety and worry really take me over and I know that my rising pain levels are a direct result of that. For the past few days my pain has been a consistent 8 or 9. Those levels make it so very hard to function day to day with all that is on my daily to do list. I have let it get me down. I have cried a lot of tears and felt pretty hopeless. This has been the worse bout of my fibro pain since I was initially diagnosed. As the pain persists, my mental and emotional state has begun to deteriorate.

But there are positives to be found in all of it. First, I have a tribe of ladies who show up daily to encourage me and pray for me and keep me positive. That is truly amazing. I am so thankful for their sweet voices and thoughts. I feel them standing next to me in my fight. Secondly, I am praying a lot and feel myself drawing closer to God through my morning devotionals and quiet time. I am spending more time in the word, really studying and leaning into what God is saying to me.

This morning, I woke and my first feeling was pain. I had a hard time just getting out of bed and instantly my mood deflated. (Not the way I like to start my day). I stumbled out of bed and poured myself my morning coffee (my cup of ambition – typed in my best Dolly Parton voice) and headed to my office for my quiet time. My morning devotional could NOT have been more fitting! (Don’t you just love when God does small things like that – just when we need them!?). “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” That first line…gave me chills. God was saying the best way for me to feel better was to start with my heart. How? What does a cheerful heart look like? It’s a heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness. It’s a heart that counts blessings! My devotional went on to explain that a cheerful heart can improve one’s health – spiritually, emotionally, and even physically! (Just what I need!). And then this…the line that hit me hard…the words that I’m carrying with me all day…”Let these divine nutrients soak into the depths of your being. Let them strengthen and enhance your health.”  My heart condition (cheerfulness) will affect my health. Does this mean that I don’t need to take my medicine…..NO. It means I need to work on my perspective and focus on what is in my heart. My cheerful heart is medicine for ALL of my being.

Probably not anything earth shattering…not a giant revelation…but rather, the gentle nudge, the small a-ha moment that God knew I needed today. How’s your heart? Would you describe it as cheerful? Make it your goal today to fill your heart with gratitude and thankfulness, and let that be your medicine. Soak in all of that goodness. Have a blessed day. Much love!

“LEFT…LEFT”

Yesterday, Chris and I got up early and loaded up the bikes and our three youngest to hit the bike trail – before the thermometer registered 90+. Trying to keep all 5 of us together(ish) on the very congested bike trail we ride is always a challenge, but we had a lot of success last time and everyone had a great time. Kelsie’s little legs pedal hard the whole time, but at times she struggles to keep pace and stay in her lane. There are a lot of “serious” cyclists on this trail, but also many families and older couples – which is why we love it so much.

At one point in our ride traffic got very heavy. We had stopped and were attempting to get moving again (a feat in itself). Kelsie had swerved slightly to the right but was doing great. An older gentleman (and I use that term very loosely) approached and indicated he would be passing to the left. And then he yelled it again -even louder. And again a third time – even louder. He was obviously yelling AT our 7 year old who was doing her very best to just stay upright in all the traffic. I was in front of our little group and couldn’t see exactly what was happening, but I could sure hear it and I knew that Kelsie was struggling a bit. I was more worried about Chris at this point – because I was certain he would be livid.

The next voice I heard was Chris’s….he bellowed “WE HEARD YOU!” I immediately tensed up – not knowing at all how this would play out.

“WELL SHE DIDN’T MOVE,” shouted the mean old man!

“SHE’S SEVEN! GIVE ME A BREAK!” Chris retorted.

By this time, the man was coming up to my left and I was beyond furious. Who yells at a little girl trying to ride her bike!?! If I knew that I could have pulled it off, I so badly wanted to swerve at him, just to make him fall off but not injure myself (pray for me)…but I’m not that skilled on two wheels. I did enjoy all the jeers and insults that were hurled his way by everyone who witnessed his behavior though. I wish I could say that when he passed me I had some kind, encouraging words for him. I wish I could say I asked him if he was having a bad day and that’s why he yelled. I can’t say I did either of those things. I will not share the parting words I had for him (keep praying) but I was so very glad to see him pedal on by.

My observations about this whole day…there are some mean, nasty people in the world. Who knows why? Maybe he’s a really good person who had a momentary lapse in judgment?! Maybe his dog just died and he was decompressing on the bike trail. Or maybe he’s a jerk all of the time. Here’s the deal…I have no idea how many people we encountered on the bike trail that day – but it was in the hundreds. ONE person was nasty for one minute. We did not let that tiny exchange define our entire time. We can’t say that because one biker was mean, that every biker on the trail was mean. Other people we encountered were kind and friendly. They encouraged the girls to keep going. They greeted us with good mornings. That one man does not define all bikers! Maybe…just maybe we could all learn a little something from this little incident.

Side note – Kelsie was “over” it within a few minutes. Chris calmed down after 30 minutes or so. I was still scanning the trail on our return trip – hoping to get another shot at this guy! We should all be more like Kelsie!

Repurposing

Hey y’all! So since we have been living through a pandemic, I have been spending a lot of time finding and doing things that make me happy! One of those things that I have rediscovered a love and a passion for is crafting! Initially, I started making wooden signs using my Cricut – and I still love doing that. Recently, though I have discovered a love for taking something old (and maybe not so cute) and giving it new life. I know that this is nothing earth-shattering, and that people do this all the time – but for me, it’s a new fun hobby that I would like to share with you!

So today, I masked up and headed out to Goodwill to find some new (old) items to repurpose. I already have a few ideas about what I am going to do with some of these items – so you will have to stay tuned to see them repurposed. For now, here are all the goodies I picked up – for under $30.

He has shown us what is good!

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?  ~Micah 6:8

Sitting here with the news on in the background and coming across this verse in my devotional this morning stopped me in my tracks. The weight of the news story of George Floyd has been at the forefront of my thoughts for the past 24 hours. I have cried so many tears over this whole situation. I have cried for a life lost in such a brutal, senseless, evil, public way. I have cried for Mr. Floyd’s family who has lost a brother and has to re-live it over and over each time that deplorable video is played. I have cried for the fact that men who were sworn to keep the public safe chose to abuse their power with such heartless, hate-filled actions. I have cried because there is so much hate in the world and our children are exposed to so much ugliness. We need God. We need Him in every area of our world, and in every moment.

This verse jumped off the page of my Bible this morning. What does God require….? To do justly – to treat others in a fair, non-oppressive way. Treat people with respect and fairness; To love mercy – not just show mercy…to love it, and to act in the way that God would want us to in every way that we treat others; To walk humblynot in a spirit of arrogance or of special privilege, but rather in the spirit of humility, in service to others.

I don’t believe for one second that I “accidentally” happened upon this verse today in light of yesterday’s news. I know that this was God’s way of helping me process the world and to help my broken heart find some peace. This verse will be in my prayers and on my heart for days and weeks to come. May we as human beings plant these words in our hearts and put them into action in our everyday lives. micah

Trust enough

“God is not at all concerned with me being good enough, but completely concerned with my being TRUSTING enough.”

I came across this quote this week while looking through an old journal of mine. I think it is so enlightening to dig back through old writings to help me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, and even how so many emotions have repeated themselves in the years of my life. This quote came from a sermon. One of those sermons that wrecks your heart. One of those sermons where you wonder how in the world the pastor knew exactly what you needed to hear. One of those “He is talking directly to me” sermons. Looking back, I do not honestly remember what I was going through at the time that made these words hit me so hard. But I do know that the quote resonates with me in a big way today.

Throughout this pandemic/stay at home/lockdown crisis, I have struggled. My emotions have controlled me. I have tried to face this out of control situation and control it. Worry has wrecked my sleep. Anxiety has overtaken my thoughts. Fear has captured my focus. I have been short-tempered with my family. I have spent days crippled by sadness – and then beat myself up for not accomplishing anything. All of this has left me wallowing in that old, lingering feeling that I’m just not good enough. I have allowed the small, powerful “IF” drive me crazy. If I was a better mom….If I was smarter….If I could manage my time better. ..If I could just be better…If I was good enough!

I do not believe that I came across this quote by accident this week. God knew I needed to hear it now. Because God truly does not need my goodness. He doesn’t need to me fight and claw to be good enough…because guess what, I never will be. I will never be “good enough” to earn His love. And that’s a good thing, because His love is offered free. What God does want from me is my trust. He desires that I would let go of the control I crave, and to trust Him with all that I am. He wants me to trust that He is in control. Trust should trump fear, anxiety, worry, and all of the other emotions that do not come from Him.

So, my prayer for today, and for every day going forward is to just trust. I pray to be wholly surrendered to Him and to trust Him enough!

 

The fruit we bear

What kind of tree are you? I heard this analogy on the radio just the other day and it has stuck with me. The question has been lingering in my mind for days. I think that there is a reason that certain things stay with us and others don’t. I believe that God places things on us to create teachable moments for us. He. knows what I need and where my heart is, and it is no accident this metaphor is still with me. What kind of tree are you? When someone bumps into you (tree), what kind of fruit falls? I’ll wait while that sinks in…..

When the weight of life becomes crushing. When heartache breaks you. When anxiety paralyzes you. When isolation cripples your soul. How do you respond?

Honestly, let me make it a little less “heavy”…. When someone cuts you off in traffic (do I even remember how to drive?) When your text goes unread. When you are left out of a group gathering. When you get your feelings hurt. How do you respond?

Yep, I got my toes stepped on by this one. I had to do a serious heart check as I pondered this question. What kind of fruit do I bear? When times get hard, I do not always respond the way that I would like to. Anxiety and fear cause emotions and reactions to come out sideways. The fruit that falls from my tree when I’m shaken is not always good fruit. Initially, my reaction to all of this was to beat myself up and wish that I could just “be better.” I did the whole self-loathing thing for a minute, held a pity party for one, and then I quit. I left the party. I will never be perfect. Not. Even. Close. But I can strive each day to become more Christ-like. I can pray and ask and allow the Holy Spirit to produce those fruits in me. I can seek Him first in all that I do. I can fall down and get back up again, knowing that He still loves me and that no matter how many times I stumble, He STILL loves me.

I will always remember this tree metaphor. And when I am “bumped” I will think about what kind of fruit falls.

Zach

77251012_1068918693440446_4906038921999155200_nThe oldest of my five kids is Zach. He is finishing out his senior year at Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio. I am quite certain this is not how he envisioned his final chapter of school going. Zach played football for the Cardinals, so during the fall I got to see him every single weekend – and it made my momma heart happy. Since we have all been under a stay at home order, I have not been able to see him. Many days I wished more than anything that he was here with the rest of us – to share in all of our family time. I know that he is with his own little family – his amazing girlfriend, Katie (superhero nurse), and their dog (my granddog) Archie. I know they are safe and happy – but I sure wish they were all here with us!

I wrote a poem about Zach when he was 12 years old. While so much has changed about my “little man” in the last decade, so much still remains the same. Here are those words from his childhood.

Zach

They call him
Mr. Intensity
On the field

But it fits
Him
In every way

He is passionate
And intense
Emotional and loyal

The kind of personality
That draws a crowd
And then entertains them

He is tender
And caring when
No one is looking

He will have his
Heart broken
Many times

But it will not
Change his intense
Caring nature

He is my
Little man
Zach

Zach is now a grown man who has not lost his intense, caring nature. He has survived a few heart breaks, and has found his forever love. He set goals and accomplished them. I know in the big picture, everything will be okay. But it’s hard to know he’s missing out on the end of college the way he had it pictured – saying goodbye to friends, parties, graduation, etc. But I also know that he is going to continue to do amazing things with the life he is building. And through it all, he will always be my Zach!