Stones and Flowers

“We are all just small stones and little flowers searching for our sun.” -The Book of Awakening

Sometimes we feel as cold and heavy as a stone. Sometimes we feel as tender and full of life like a flower. Sometimes we bounce back and forth between the two. Our lives hold so many experiences along its twisting, winding story line.

The Reality is – the sun rises and sets pouring out its warmth and light over the flowers as much as the stones. It would appear then that both the stones and the flowers matter as the sun gives way, without prejudice, to shine over each of them. I’m just suggesting here that your entire story, the good the bad, and the ugly – matters. The experiences we face are sometimes really stinking hard. We can feel like we’re rolling a boulder up hill. It’s frustrating. Tiring. And we often stop and wonder if we’ll make it up the hill at all. We often wonder if we have what it takes to make it through to the other side… wherever that is, whenever that will be.

Boulders and stones are easy to see, to feel, to acknowledge. Their presence is more often undeniable. It’s difficult, at times, to remember that while you’re pushing stones around there’s bound to be a flower or two in its path. God is pretty kind like that. He softens the blow of our heavy circumstances by peppering in a little beauty along the way. Sometimes the boulders crush the crap out of those flowers 😉 But, at other times, they are stationed to your left and right so the way forward doesn’t feel so barren and empty. Flowers are friends, smiles from a stranger, a song that grips you, a knowing nod from someone hearing your story, something that makes you laugh, hot coffee…. They are most often the more subtle things in life.

Whatever heaviness your life holds right now matters. It truly, truly matters. Do not be swallowed whole by the weight of your circumstance so much so that you cannot feel the tender beauty that surrounds you and cushions you. It’s there. It’s always there.

I believe in us.

The Woman at the Well

There’s a story in the Bible in John chapter 4 that has long been my favorite. I am NO biblical scholar and for me to describe its significance is like a kindergartener reciting the alphabet. But here goes….

Basically it was the middle of the day. As in the hottest part of the day. The time of day that ordinary women did not go to the well to draw water because it was so stinking hot out. Nevertheless, this far from ordinary woman hauled her vessel to the well at the hottest part of the day likely to avoid interactions with other women because she had some serious baggage. She was probably the talk of the town somehow and ridiculed or judged because her life story was less than pretty. She had serious relationship struggles and had made her way through not one, but five divorces and the man she was with now wasn’t her husband. In this day and time that rap sheet made her “damaged goods”. She was considered an epic failure. Or maybe she was just a woman looking for love in all the wrong places… or just looking for love in general. Nevertheless, she went out of her way at the hardest, hottest point of the day simply to avoid being around other women that would exacerbate the shame she already felt in what her life held.

Here she was doing her thing in what she hoped would be isolation. But, she ran into a man sitting on the edge of the well she came to draw from. This was a bit of an inconvenience especially because when she arrived He spoke to her and asked her for a drink of water. This too was an atrocity in that day. No man asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, much less a woman who was considered “dirty”, but this guy had the audacity to break the code of silence between them. He had the audacity to ask her for a drink of water suggesting she was capable. It’s an awkward situation really, but even right there at the beginning of their interaction, I believe Jesus was calling out the honor He saw in her and was declaring her worthy. Something she likely didn’t feel on the daily. He blew up the status quo with his request of her. She contested his request based on her status and He began to tell her all that he already knew about her and her story. Talk about a vulnerable moment. But, talk about a magical one as well. Here is a woman clearly having hauled herself to the well in some form of living shame and there’s a guy, of all people, telling her that she was worth interacting with and strong enough and whole enough to give him a drink of water despite her rap sheet. They talked back and forth for a bit even when His fellow disciples showed up and found Him deep in interaction with her. They showed up and were shocked that Jesus was speaking with the town’s dirt bag of a woman. He didn’t shy away. He continued to tell her that despite her story she was more than worth His time. Despite her failed marriages and the relationship she was currently in that she was still of value and that she too could have the freedom and healing and eternal water that quenched all the thirst in her spirit. She was being offered an opportunity to know that she didn’t have to feel empty and hollow and ashamed anymore. She didn’t have to feel like crap about who she was and where her story had taken her.

In this text it states that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria….. He was on his way to Galilee. He could’ve gotten there another way. But, in some sort of mystery He chose to go this way, through Samaria, on that day, when He had to know that this woman would be there. Basically, He went out of His way to speak life and truth and hope into the heart of a woman who felt broken and damaged and ashamed.

If He could show up for her…. then we can strongly deduce that He would do the same for us. No matter what your story holds. No matter where you’ve been or where you are now, you are strong and worthy and deserve to feel free just like everyone else. There’s no rut too deep, no story too heinous, no one thing or a hundred things that can disqualify you from the honor that He was bestowing on this woman.

I just want to say this: no matter where you’ve been – you are of infinite worth and value. No matter where you are going and what’s ahead for you – you are of infinite worth and value. No matter what you need to change, or work on, or make right in your life – you are of infinite worth and value.

And that truth, my friends, is liberating to say the least.

I believe in us.

Hope

Sometimes we have to stare HOPE right in the face.

Sometimes we are holding on by a thread.

Sometimes it’s a fight to keep it together.

Sometimes we feel too far gone.

Sometimes we feel like hope for change is lost in some unobtainable cloud.

Sometimes we feel frustrated and defeated and even a little bit lost.

Sometimes we live our days on autopilot meanwhile our “issues” burrow a hole in our heart.

Sometimes it feels like it’s been just too long to see any actual change meet any horizon.

Sometimes we feel lonely in our struggles.

Sometimes we don’t feel like fighting for a darn thing. We just want to feel okay, whole, mended, complete, strong, full, healthy, wise, grown….

Sometimes life takes its time to make a turn for the better.

Sometimes that thing called time zaps our will to hope in more.

Hold on. Don’t let go.

“I know your heart is heavy from the fight. You never know just what tomorrow holds and you are stronger than you know. Just take one step closer. One foot in front of the other. You’ll get through this. Just follow the light in the darkness. You’re gonna be okay. When the night is closing in don’t give up, don’t give in. This won’t last it’s not the end ” Jenn Johnson

I believe in us.

Believe in you.

 

Showing Up

Showing up for your own inherent worth matters more than anything.

Diving right in, in full transparency, it has taken me about sixteen years to figure out that my husband is not my source of contentment. I know, I’m a little slow. No matter how many times he tells me, “you look nice today” it just doesn’t quench my thirst to feel beautiful. No matter how many times my children say, “I love you too mom” it just doesn’t satisfy my desire to feel like a “good” mom. Not to suggest I’m some abyss of need, I’m just admitting that no matter how much they pour into me – it’s never enough unless I believe things to be true of myself from the inside out. When they would “fail” me in building me up I would turn to my bag of tricks to feel good rather than my own voice…. because I didn’t believe in myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem for most of my life. It has been a struggle indeed. I bought into some thought process that once I got married and had children of my own I would somehow feel good about myself from there on out. Insert massive learning curve here. I thought I’d have a partner and a brood of little humans, much like a parrot on my shoulder, that would shower me with compliments about how I do life. I thought those compliments would provide a steady stream of esteem in who I was as a person. I was depending on my husband and my children to provide a sense of worth and value from the outside in. I wanted them to help make me feel good about myself. I do think it’s entirely okay to want and even need validation here and there, but to be dependent on their accolades in order to feel good about who I am…. major letdown. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is a kind man and notices my efforts. Likewise, my children are loving and kind (and absolute freak shows at times). But, I find it fascinating that no matter how much they give to me in word or deed it is never enough unless I genuinely believe in myself.

Showing up for ourselves, in terms of knowing our worth, is far from selfish and self-centered. We have to be able to look in the mirror and believe HARD in our value as we stand there alone with no one to tell us a thing or two. We have to know deep in our core that we make the world a better place to be in simply because we walk in the room. No – that’s not arrogance talking, that’s confidence in our contribution to this life and the lives of others. We have to be boldly confident in who we are and what we offer this world. I’ve learned over time that confidence in our worth and value is often simply a choice. It’s a choice to believe in who we are and the value that we bring to this world. There are so many things I don’t know, but what I do know mixed with my God-given perception is of serious significance to the people in my life.

So, what’s my point? Choose. Choose to believe in your inherent value. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Please know that who you are, your personality, the way you process life, and what you bring to the room is of infinite worth. There’s no substitute for you. There’s no one who can do your life better than you can. We need you. All of you. In this day and in this hour. Stand tall. You matter and you are beautiful every time you bring the whole you to the table. Your needs matter. Your scars matter. Your experiences matter. Your perception is valuable. Your pain matters. Your efforts matter. What you’ve learned through life matters. Your smile breaks open the troubles of the day. Your laugh is medicine to the weary.

Show up for yourself and believe in who you are from the inside out. Speak into your soul exactly what you need to hear. I promise you it’s not pride. It’s an act of honoring the true worth and value that makes up who you are.

I believe in us and the power to choose that we are amazing.

Spinning Plates, Wheels and Heads

Sometimes there isn’t enough coffee in the day to handle all that’s spinning. We have so many demands over us that it feels like we are the circus act that lines up our poles and starts spinning our plates. We hold our breath and hope we have the stamina and quick acumen to keep everything going. Sometimes the spinning plates of the day are just about enough to take you under, or at a minimum stress you out, but at worse make you forget who you are at the core of it all.

On Saturday, I had four basketball games at four different venues plus team pictures all followed by an evening party. Life has a way of making you feel like while you may keep spinning all the plates just fine, you are really just spinning your wheels below and not getting very far in the things that matter deeply to you.

How is life as complicated as it feels at times? We wonder why random coping mechanisms pop up left and right. They are our release valve to keep our heads from spinning while the plates are going and the wheels are taking us to what feels like Nowhere’s-ville. No matter what we have going on we are on a daily quest with an underlying theme: A search for worth and value amidst it all.

From one mother to another, one parent to another, one human being to another I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that you matter. Your dreams matter. Your hopes matter. Your exhaustion is real. The struggle is also real. And your value in the middle of it all is immeasurable. “Sometimes life just slips in through the back door and carves out a person..” to quote Sara Bareilles (‘She Used To Be Mine’). To quote her further: Sometimes we have to fight just a little to bring back the fire in our eyes. No matter what hangs in the balance, hangs over your head, makes the to-do list – you matter beyond words. We don’t often stop and think about how far we’ve come, how strong we are and the pure bravery we’ve summoned to face life head on. Your resilience is astounding. Your precious resilience to be who you are despite all that life requires of you is remarkable.

Your dreams for your life and your hopes for who you would become are not lost in the shuffle they are fighting every day to be front and center of all that’s required of you. Sometimes we go on autopilot to get through the days. I just want to remind you that your dreams for what life would look like for you are not silly and are not lost no matter what is tugging at your sleeve to be done. No matter how old you are. And no matter how capable you feel. You may be waiting for a breakthrough in an area of your life…. that matters. You may be holding on for something to open wide and to come through for you…. that matters. You may be holding on with all your might to not crumble beneath all that weighs on your chest…. that matters. Remember the sun today. It rises for you. It opens its fiery arms and blazes over you today because: you matter. Do not forget who you are and how far you’ve come amidst the spinning plates. Do not forget who you are as you feel the wheels turn beneath you. Do not forget who you are at your core as your head is whipped in circles thanks to the demands of the day.

You are doing a really good job. You are making it. You are evolving. You are rising. You are shining brightly in the reflection of the sun that rose over you today. You’re not just another human, you are the only YOU. There is literally no one that can take your place and do it all better. You are killing it. All of it. No matter what anyone has spoken over you – you are showing up to what is a busy, demanding, spinning planet that has enough force to knock you off your axis…. but look at you. You’re still standing. It bears repeating: You are doing a really, really good job. You are so very worthy and you matter in every way. Take a deep breath, theoretically wrap your arms around yourself and take in your worth and value amidst it all.

I believe in us.

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Public Service Announcement

NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER.

NO ONE.

You are not alone in your striving. You are not alone in your grieving. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your joy. You are not alone in wishing you had at arrived at the age you are without your bag of tricks for coping. You are not alone as you wonder if you’re a good parent. You are not alone as you sometimes hate going to your kids games, but you love showing up for them. You are not alone in your loneliness despite being surrounded by loving friends. You are not alone as you grapple with contentment over your body, your image, your worth. You are not alone in wishing you had followed “that one dream” you had for yourself. You are not alone in your regrets. You are not alone in your victories. You are not alone in your defeats. You are not alone in your failures. You are not alone in your success’. You are not alone in wishing you could change faster, grow stronger, become more. You are not alone as you struggle to surface with true gratitude each day. You are NOT alone as you feel that twinge of depression from time to time. You are not alone as you wonder what you’re actually good at. You are not alone in despising going to the grocery store with a bunch of kids. You are not alone in thinking two hours alone in Target is a mini vacation. You are not alone as you wonder if your kids are “normal” or are they living in emotional crazy town with a home address that’s yours. You are not alone as you make another meal that almost no one eats despite starving children across the globe. You are not alone in absolutely abhorring your children’s math homework. You are not alone in hating the winter’s bitter cold. You are not alone in craving a better, more connected marriage. You are not alone in trying to recover that loving feeling. You are not alone in trying to overcome issues that have plagued you since childhood that “should” be long gone by now. You are not alone in loving your children, but loving their bedtime just as much. You are not alone in trying hard to be MORE than you were yesterday….

You are not alone in any corner. Not one.

We are NOT all in this life together, and yet, we are ALL in this life together. And you, my friend, are not alone.

I believe in us and the power to embrace this life knowing we are all…. ALL just genuinely trying our best to make the most of it. Be comforted today. We see you and what we see from one human to another is an amazing person surrendering to what life brings.

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Dear School Cancellation,

Dear School Cancellation Days,

I am truly lucky to have four children. Two boys and two girls. I have known so many people in my life that have struggled to have children of their own so this gift is not lost on me at all. I swear. But, I love school. I love it with every fiber of my being. I love the influence of the teachers in the myriad of ways that they speak into my children’s lives. I love the sense of responsibility that’s fostered in them through things like homework and book reports and making their OWN lunches each day (since I apparently don’t know how to put anything “good” in there). I love that they get to expand their mind through art and music and science. I love watching their interpersonal relationships grow through recess and lunch, albeit twenty minutes short. I love school from drop off to pick up…..

Can I just say to you, school cancellation day, that you are cramping my style man. The very week I decided to paint my entire main level floors white you go and give my kids not one but three days home from school. I get it – there’s a negative fifty degree windchill in Minnesota this week, but seriously. Can’t we all just bundle the little love bugs up and send them your way? We have gloves and stuff. And for those that don’t I will personally nominate myself to hand extras out at the door. I am being eaten out of house and home. The snacks are gone. The television is literally fried from over use and is heating our home faster than my furnace can keep up. My voice is hoarse from yelling at them to stay off the floors I’m painting. I mean, come on school, take one for the team here. These kids have things to learn. I have a blog to write and floors to paint. And I’m out of food. Our games are “boooooooooring”. I will say, however, that laundry has been a dream this week since no one seems to think they need to change clothes. There’s been ample hot water since the opportunity to bathe occurs to zero children. But, their teeth are literally falling out for lack of brushing. And apparently reading a book is akin to water boarding.

School, you are a portal to happiness for all of us. You are every mother’s break. You give us time to think and sit and do and grocery shop. Four children home from school for three days means we have digressed to WWA wrestling tryouts and my entire basement has become an obstacle course. Not that I mind and all it’s just that if I have to put out one more fight I’m gonna go cra-cra or body slam them myself.

These floors are getting painted come Hell or high water, but they are in the direct path to the kitchen. At least by now there’s no more food so the traffic has slowed dramatically. I would like to request that the powers that be consult the mother’s far and wide before you go swiping right on whether or not those educational doors open.

Sincerely,

Mother of The Year (with beautiful white-painted floors and no more food)