What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Everything. Every. Thing. This massive hit song was made iconic by Tina Turner as her most successful single, however, written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle….

How can one human being love another human being if they don’t first have it sitting right there inside of themselves, for themselves, like a constant handout or a steady stream?

We have allowed the worries of the day, let alone the future, to literally constipate our ability to love ourselves and others inside of one twenty-four hour window.

As I sit and write to you this morning I have that tangible, sick to my stomach, pit-like feeling. I pretty much function all day with this very real body sensation. Is it worry? Is it fear of the future? Or is it possibly just an eagerness inside of my choice to be vulnerable, open and to share on the outside what happens in me on the inside. I’ve always been an external processor. I have NOT always been on the road to healing, admitting freely now, “I am NOT skilled at Recovery, YET, but I am learning right in front of you. Out loud, not out of pride, but out of pure vulnerability or a willingness to share”. I suppose, my mind perceives this body feeling as angst and tells me I’m afraid. I have many reasons to be. My gremlins of the mind that dictate an Eating Disorder or substance abuse have been aggressively dethroned as of this summer and my trip to Treatment for the Eating Disorder (that I’ve maladaptively held onto to cope with life for approximately thirty-three years). This was nothing short of a trip to Hell. Do I have some residual PTSD? Yes. Am I getting help with that along with everything else? Indeed. However, I learned a thing or two from Mel Robbins, in one of my favorite motivators, the book: “The Five Second Rule“. This tangible feeling, she taught me, is a sensation perceived by the mind, it draws on inferences of the past, and tells me that it’s worry, anxiety, stress, fear of the unknown, “don’t go there”, “you suck at recovery & they’ll see that eventually”, “you’re a broken, broken record”, etc. I have the power to choose to interpret this nauseating feeling one way or another. Today, this morning, I choose to interpret the pit in my stomach sensation as excitement or an eagerness to share, to be known, to be seen, to be heard. We all matter. We all seek validation to corroborate that. We all need a little love in our life. If that love does not come from the inside out, you guys, we are, in full, simply blind travelers groping our way through life and calling it “20/20” vision and hoping no one will notice our defect.

How does the sick heal the sick? How do the blind lead the blind? I. Don’t. Really. Know. What I do know is that I’m willing to raise my hand in a sea of strangers and admit that life is both brutal and beautiful as I’ve mimicked Glennon Melton-Doyle repeatedly. There is always controversy over who or what we choose to listen to. I firmly believe that every human has inherent value and we are the worst at throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we can learn to value our own selves then we can also learn to hear from any ONE PERSON, any THING, any PLACE, and at any TIME. Glennon has been a mentor to me for a solid decade or more despite anyone’s circulating opinion on her personal life choices. She is a leader amongst the Eating Disorder and substance abuse users, survivors, and desperate to change. She has been a life-line for me from the get-go. She admits, untamedly so, that we all lean into vices as a way to cope with the “Brutiful mess” that our lives have become. We all need a little permission to not have to be so perfect, now don’t we?

That said, I pose a question. How well do you value yourself? How well do you listen to yourself first and the voices or opinions of others second? How pervasive has culture’s idea of beauty and worthiness become to you and has that mindset inadvertently been set on auto-pilot like an ingrained habit pattern of thought that begets an action or worse a reaction? Can you look at yourself in the mirror and hear a still, small, tender whisper that speaks to you as you rise for the day saying, “You are simply the Best. Better than all the rest simply because all the rest are not like you. Thank you for showing up to BE inside of today”? I haven’t heard that gentle awakening in a long time, but I am listening for it and when I don’t hear it organically, I say it intentionally. If we do not see ourselves as worthy of this line of thinking or speaking over ourselves….. how in God’s great world will we see others in God’s great world just-like-that? That would be a pretty tough road to hold. If we don’t cultivate an environment of love on the inside… perhaps, we are like famous singers, Tina Turner for example, known for an iconic tune and all the while we are just singing a song that we didn’t even write.

More to come.

I believe in us.

Go On. You Can Do It.

Cherish yourself. See yourself. Give to yourself. Compliment yourself. Take care of yourself. Hold HOPE for yourself. Be tender to yourself. Believe in yourself. Embrace yourself. Laugh at yourself. Be merciful with yourself. Be gentle with your shortcomings. Be kind to yourself. Do NOT under any circumstances whatsoever give up on yourself.

You are everything and more. You are wise. You are funny. You are important. You are capable. You are strong. You are infinitely unique. You are beautiful. You are loving. You light up a room. You are smart. You are witty. You are brave. You are an overcomer. You are creative. You are good at so many things. You are what this world needs. You are so very worthy.

The sun rose high and proud today – just for you.

Wrap your arms tenderly around who you are RIGHT now. Flaws and ALL. Love the entire you.

Go on, you CAN do it.

I BELIEVE in us!

 

The Mystery of Pain

We will do just about anything to avoid pain. But, pain is a component of life that is simply unavoidable. No mystery there. The mystery lies in the travel time through it all and the resilience its journey produces.

I think of the book I’ve read to my children a thousand times or more “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. There’s a line that reads in repetition every time they come to an impasse: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it…” We never truly know when we’ll find ourselves on the other side of pain. It’s a thing we must travel all the way through. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts.

To this day, I have not wrapped my head around why God allows so many painful experiences in people’s lives. I’m literally dumbfounded by what certain people have encountered and come out the other side of still standing upright in their spirit. The human resilience is staggering.

But, why? Why does God allow such torrential downpours in our lives? Like my six-year-old says, “Can’t we all just live in candy world”? I don’t have even the slightest answer for “Why”, but I do know this….

The pain I’ve experienced in my life has produced in me a river of empathy and compassion for others. It has wrought in me a hushed, quieted, slowed down surrender to the busy bee cadence of my life. It has provided me with eyes to see more clearly, ears to hear more acutely, and hands that give more readily. It has helped me to feel joy more fully on a deeper level than I knew was available. It has mysteriously let me learn that, in hindsight, we are strong, and able, and capable to weather any storm. It has taught me that I’m NOT better off alone – we need others. And when others show up for us, and lift us, and hold us, and care for us… there is beauty in the exchange. The kind of beauty that defies logic and lasts forever in our memories.

Pain is teacher, a mentor, a wise guide into the finer things of life. It hurts like Hell sometimes, but as Mark Nepo writes, “We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But, life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.”

Pain is a mystery. It’s an entirely un-welcomed teacher that crushes us, but strangely does not leave us in pieces. It always, always, always partners with healing and time and those two somehow, some way co-mingle with one another and produces a mending.

One of my favorite scriptures from Psalm 107 reads, “He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed and He carried me to my desired haven.”

Wherever you are today – be carried by the deep. Be lifted by those around you. Be hushed by the knowing that time and healing will mend you.

God will not abandon you. He just won’t. Ever. He will carry you – today – and all the way through to your desired haven.

I believe in us.

 

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Oh man. Sometimes we just feel the torrential rush of the troubled waters. We feel the cadence of our failures rush against our ankles. We see ripples of many moments missed and botched by our weakness’ to our left and right and we feel super heavy. Like an anvil tied around our neck and we are almost drowning beneath the weight of it all.

Thank God for God. He takes the MOST broken places and He comes for us. Piece by piece. Mending by mending. Morning by morning. He will not leave you stranded. He will not abandon a broken heart. He will not allow a flower to wither in the desert. He brings the sustaining rain in its due time. He provides the bridge over the troubled waters and He obliterates the troll guarding it all.

Broken places are no joke. They call to us and suggest we are a hot, hot mess. But, child – you are never beyond repair. Never. The crap you’ve pulled over the years is hushed by the weight of the grace of God. It’s literally quieted under the mystery of His redeeming kindness toward us. He will show up for you. He will come for you. He will lift your heavy heart out of a tub of piranhas and set your feet on solid ground.

He redeems EVERYTHING.

It’s all gonna be okay. All of it.

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.

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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Comfort Food

The greatest treasure that this Earth ever held was my grandma, Mimi. She was Southern to her core as an Alabama native complete with an endearing drawl and all the “Bless your heart’s” one could insert into a conversation. She was the warm and caring grandma that you read only of in story books. She set her hair at the parlor and diligently pinned her curls at night. Somehow, she was the only one who could brush my long brown hair without hurting my head as she wrestled the tangles of the day. To me the sun rose and set in the light of her beauty and tenderness. My nails were always painted under her care and I never went to sleep without a story read to me in the big bed with the silky pink sheets. A bath was never a bath without bubbles and Loretta Lynn serenaded us on the daily and made her way into our favorites.

I will fight to the death defending her acumen in the kitchen as well. A biscuit is just not a biscuit if it wasn’t baked at the hands of my Mimi. They were perfect every time-piping hot and flaking apart after having been kneaded for long enough, but not too long that you kill the butter. If I could go back in time I would climb up to her counter on my little red stool with my present day iPhone and track her every move. To this day I can hear the sizzle of the gently peppered chicken frying in her cast iron skillet. The aroma was akin to Heaven itself. I can still taste that first crunchy bite that rivaled Colonel Sanders any day of the week. I can hear the sound of the pressure cooker bobbing back and forth as it gives way to the best green beans, cooked always with bacon, that you ever did eat. I remember loving green beans. I suppose it was the fact that my job was to snap the ends and pop them in half and somehow I surmised that I’m actually the one that made them.

I am now a mother of four children. I could no sooner get my children to enjoy a bite of green beans, black-eyed peas or okra than I could pull a rainbow out of my mouth. But, Mimi, she was magical. There wasn’t a morsel of food that we weren’t willing to try so long as it came from her stove. What I wouldn’t give to have her for a day so that my children might possibly consume a vegetable, or at a minimum, something other than beige food. I don’t think this fine woman owned a microwave. If a child requested mac and cheese there was a cheese grater and a roux involved. There was no such thing as ripping open a package, God forbidden powdered cheese and seven minutes later ta-da. When it came to breakfast there was rarely a cereal in sight unless they were in the fun single sized boxes. There were egg bakes and bear claws and biscuits with butter & jam. For lunch you enjoyed a skillet fried Reuben complete with sauerkraut and pickles. Unlike my children We did not snack all day like our livelihood depended on it because Mimi filled you to the brim with all things Heaven sent.

As if her cooking wasn’t stellar enough, every single night of her married life she baked a pie just the way my grandpa liked it. A small scoop of ice cream and a perfectly set cherry pie or pecan pie or carrot cake, the list was endless. This was a close to an already perfect meal.

There was no such thing as Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, Whole 30 or Paleo within a 100-mile radiance of Mimi’s kitchen. There was only food. The best food. Food made with love, from scratch, and most often a little bacon rendering. This was food that filled your soul to overflowing. There was no tracking macro’s or counting or restricting. Gluten was far from a forbidden accompaniment and organic was her way about her.

I no longer have my Mimi, but I can proudly say that I have personally eaten the best fried chicken this planet will ever know. The only thing greater than her cooking was her heart.