Friday, December 11, 2009

Not too blue to be Pink

A funny thing happened on the way to the time clock... Getting fired feels a little like that; a lot of unfinished one liners keep coming to my head. I've never been fired before--if anything I have always been the employee that employers adore--so I am a little unskilled in the emotions that come with this new unemployment status.
I've been unhappy for quite a while and I have been wanting God to show me which way to go, but I have been afraid about making the final leap into my new journey. I have jokingly "volunteered" to be fired, because I felt like it would be easier to move ahead if someone else would make the decision for me. But, honestly, I know my work habits and so I really didn't anticipate being shown the door (so to speak).
Now, having spent the last 5 hours as one who was fired I have moved through a myriad of emotions. It's weird that even though I hated working in such a repressive environment with doctor's that I had no respect for, I feel sad at being rejected.

Someone didn't want me? How could this be? I am amazing...right? This is a little embarrassing...

It's like being "broken up with" by the boy that you were embarrassed to be dating in the first place. I guess at the root it comes back to pride. They didn't want me. That makes me a little blue.
Not being wanted is a sad place to sit. Not being chosen for the team. Not being asked to a dance. Not being invited to a slumber party. It's all the same and we never grow to a point that we don't want to be desired. So, I'm a little blue.

I came home from being fired feeling this color. Blue.

I went from my husband's arms to my bedroom and sat with my bible. After I had been home about an hour I looked at my clock and remembered that I had a phone call to make. I have a young friend who is interested in starting her own Mary Kay business. I had to call her and share my story and what caused me to start selling Mary Kay and how it has impacted my life.
Now, I've been enjoying learning about Mary Kay Ash and the sacrifices she made to build her company and I know that she is a great example of someone who took the bad that was dealt to her and made the most of the situation. I have also been learning about the power that God gives me when I focus on the good and I look for ways to have a joyful and a thankful heart. Overall, it's been a great chance to grow (and to get some really good product on my own skin!)
But, tonight, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit lift me and give me the will to call my young friend and share the opportunity. Never would I have thought of the things that were coming out of my mouth as I shared how God has been using this opportunity.
Slowly, as I shared the story of how my business has been growing I started to feel less and less blue. I felt pink. Yep. Mary Kay pink took over.

Optimism won over heartache and rejection. Tonight I fall into bed aware that I did need someone to make a decision for me. God. He helped me move to where I was afraid to go.

And tonight as I pulled out my bible to seek His guidance on my new path He gave me this verse:

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are RADIANT; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:4-5

I am radiant in blue and I am radiant in pink. I will be just fine--I've been delivered.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The spider is wearing...lipstick?

Most of you are aware of the spider who has taken up residence in my bathroom. She had a roommate who I killed some time ago; but her ability to survive struck something inside of me and I just could not bring myself to do her in.
She spent the summer poking her head out occasionally and we seemed to be doing a fairly good job sharing the bathroom. We were both pretty respectful of the other's need for privacy. I used it for showering and applying my make-up and she used it for--well, living. Then she disappeared. She was gone for quite awhile and I honestly thought that maybe she had met my husband on an afternoon when I wasn't there to protect her. I was a little saddened that she was dead and that I was living with a serial spider killer. Should I turn him in? That would be a hard call--he does bring me coffee every morning--would the authorities take that into consideration?
Last weekend she appeared and I realized that she had not been murdered. She was alive and well, and frankly--bigger than sin. She was gigantic. Seriously, for a moment, I stood frozen and just stared at her. Finally, realizing that she had no intention of crawling back under the cabinet on her own, I started opening the bottom drawer (with the handle of a brush) and slamming it closed. I was so hopeful that she would run under the cabinet and hover in the darkness.
Well, maybe she was in the middle of remodeling and didn't want to be at home during the mess, (I mean, who does?) But, she wasn't going under the cabinet.
I grabbed my faithful blow dryer. I set the temperature to cool and blew it gently on her. Again, she seemed unfazed by my efforts to rouse her. Finally, my husband heard my activity and came to see what I was destroying.
He took one look and asked, "Do you want me to kill her?"
"No! You can't kill her! I wrote a blog about her!" I answered protectively.
After rolling his eyes at me and blowing some air into the sky, my amazing husband went to get a paper towel and very gently moved her from my bathroom cabinet to her new "condo" in the backyard.
While I was relieved, I was also a little sad for her. Change can be so hard. But, I reminded myself that sometimes it's time to go someplace new and try something different. She could have had a great life living in my bathroom and she can still have a great life living in the hydrangea bush under my bedroom window.
My friends, Larry and Jessie, who are living in Hawaii, once explained to me that the roads we travel sometimes lead us to a T and sometimes they lead to a Y. Sometimes there is only one right choice, sometimes there are two right choices.
For me, I may be moving away from the field of healthcare and into the world Is one more right than the other? No. It's just a matter of being who God is calling me to be no matter what I am doing. It doesn't matter if I am giving shots to small children or helping women feel beautiful--it's all for God's glory.
I would like to find my little spider someday and see if she is interested in hosting a Mary Kay party, but then again, who would she invite? Would Mrs. Bumble Bee want to try the Mineral Powder Foundation? Would the baby lizards want a Collagen Boost? What shade of lipstick would my friend, Miss Spider, request?
Maybe it's better to let her discover the beauty in her new world while I let God reveal the beauty in mine.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Barry

Dear Barry Manilow,
Last night, my best friend from 9th grade showed me letters that we had written to you 29 years ago. As young, innocent girls we had sat with pencil and paper and poured our hearts out onto wide-ruled lined paper and asked for you to be "our buddy". We were two sweet girls who met in 1979 while walking home from school. It wasn't too long after we met that we discovered we were both crazy about you. At that time, being a Barry Manilow fan wasn't as cool as it is now. Most of our peers were into Led Zepplin, The Doors, or The Boss and when we talked about Barry Manilow it wasn't very popular. Fortunately, we were adorable, so people forgave us for being Fanilows. We went to see you, Barry, on two occasions--at the Greek Theater and at the Hollywood Bowl--and we joined the BMIFC (Barry Manilow International Fan Club).
When we met last night it was to attend the Ultimate Manilow Benefit Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was an event to raise money for the Los Angeles Unified School District to help keep music in the schools. Honestly, we would have gone if it was to keep Botox in Beauty Queens--we were going to see Barry, and each other. My friend and I had the chance to meet after not having seen one another for over 20 years. We never had a falling out, what happened with us was very common--we drifted our separate ways. We slowly drifted apart from one another and toward other people and other lives. When we found one another on Facebook, it was such a blessing to me to see her beautiful face and to be able comment on the pictures of her adorable family. I really didn't think it would go further than that.
Then one day while "facebook-stalking" half the class of 1983, I saw an add for the concert to see YOU--Barry Manilow! I knew immediately that I wanted to go and I wanted to go with my friend who had shared that love for you so long ago. I posted a note on her Facebook wall and asked her if she would want to go.
Now, for most people this wouldn't be a big deal. For me, this was huge. Almost immediately after I posted it I was scared beyond belief. For some reason, over the years I have been developing and at the same time fighting against a feeling of social awkwardness. Being in certain social situations makes me a little uncomfortable--ironically, if I am holding a microphone I am completely at ease. I probably need psychotherapy, but, seriously, I already can't afford to get dental work, which I need worse, so I'll have to settle for being a little weird.
After she accepted and the details began to unfold and the date was crawling closer on the calendar, I would start to feel a little nauseous at the prospect of what it might be like. All of the "what if's " would begin to cloud my mind. The morning of the concert I couldn't even feel excitement because I was so nervous that it would be awkward. I was trying on different outfits when my son's sweet girlfriend said to me, "Is it ever as awkward as you think it is going to be?" I didn't answer her, I just pretended that I wasn't listening. I simply went along with my preparations and attended to the voices in my head.
Driving to the restaurant, listening to your songs, Barry, relaxed me and I gently kept reminding myself that like the predictability of your songs this would be a predicable story and like most predictable stories this one would have a happy ending where there was no feeling of isolation--but one of acceptance and joy.
Little did I ever think it would go beyond my expectations. She was always special and unique as a girl, but as a woman, she is even more amazing. I am just as much in awe of her today as I was when I first met her 30 years ago. The fact that I ever allowed this young woman to drift away is enough evidence to prove the case that I was an idiot as a teenager. She is unlike so many people in the world today. She is sensitive and artistic and confident beyond her years. I cannot believe that she was wise enough to save letters that we had written so long ago. The words that we wrote to you were so sincere and it is such a blessing to see how much you meant to us. We had so much faith in the world and in ourselves. We were so brave in our belief that if we wrote to you asked to be your friend, that naturally, you would consider us "a buddy".
We met for dinner and then drove together to the Bowl for the concert and while it was only a mile and a half and we had a GPS--we managed to get lost and had to turn around a couple times and then landed in the wrong parking lot. The attendant must have recognized us as your "buddies" though because he broke traffic laws and allowed us to drive the wrong way in the middle of traffic to get to the correct parking lot. The men at the gate let us park at the front door and as we jumped out of the car we could hear you were already singing. That voice! That very familiar voice was calling out to us! We ran up the hill and around the Bowl to get in. It was an amazing moment. We were running along the walkway, looking at you on the stage, singing along as you belted out "Even Now" and we were holding hands. The wind was blowing in my face and I had tears in my eyes. I felt 15 all over again. I felt time go backwards and your words were all fresh! Each lyric that I have sung a million times was new in that moment. Holding her hand and running along backwards in time to a place where neither of us had been to a mortuary to bury a parent or pick out a coffin for our child. We were running back to a time before divorce and disappointment. Before loss had taught us the true meaning of all those songs we had sung in our innocence. We had no idea of the heartache that life was going to show us and the individual pain that we would face. We ran back to a time when we didn't know the depth of the meaning to the words we knew so well. And it was beautiful. We sang every song and we hugged one another the entire concert. I felt myself holding onto to her as if it would change the course of the past. Maybe, if I held on tight enough I could stop the drifting apart that happened so long ago. Maybe I could alter the past with out destroying the beauty of the present. Isn't that possible?
But, sadly, eventually, Barry, you sang your last song. The lights came up and the orchestra filed off the stage. 1980 was gone. We said our goodbyes and confirmed plans for a lunch in a couple weeks. But, next time it will be without you, sweet Barry Manilow, and we will have to move through the emotions on our own.
It's been a long time since we first wrote to you and made that "friend request" and so much has changed in that time. We are older and as we have moved through time we've learned that friendship is something to be cherished, that no one can be taken for granted and that life is too short to allow anyone to drift away. As for me, I am questioning everything that I have accepted as status quo and I'm learning every day to say "Yes" without fear.
So, dear Barry, I have to ask. Will you be our friend? Will you be our buddy?

Monday, October 12, 2009

"This is My Body"

It hit me during communion. I had been on a Women's Retreat with other ladies from my church over the weekend and now I was home and enjoying the worship service on Sunday night. I have been worshiping at the same church for almost 4 years, but due to the distance between our home and the church as well as work obstacles I hadn't been able to get plugged in and serve. At least that was the story I had been telling myself.

God has been taking me down a path of discovery and of self awareness and, honestly, it hasn't been a fun journey. It's felt a little like being on a roller coaster with no seat belt. My heart has sunk to new lows as I acknowledged a sense of loneliness that had been chewing on me for some time. I have felt guilt, remorse and every other word that describes regret as I recognized my own part in the distance I have created from this body of believers. Then in an upward thrill on the roller coaster I have felt God forgive my selfishness and fill me with his presence to ease the loneliness. Fear then peace. Down and up and then up and down. And at times during the last several months when I've felt too weak to hold on, God would place His hands on my shoulders and remind me that I wasn't going to fly out of the car, He would see to it that I stayed in my seat.

The weekend retreat was the result of a divine intervention and because of that I went eagerly to see what God was going to do. I have been to enough retreats and camps to know that I would connect with someone and come home with a friend. But, of course, God's plans are always more grand than our own. I came home connected to many women. I was able to have small moments with several different women. I made one friend who was designed to be the friend to the wife of a pastor--and hopefully, I've been designed to be her friend as well. The part of me that has been holding back was slapped gently across the face in a way that only the Holy Spirit can do and I came home confident in the power of God to work in my life and make me a better servant. My weekend was overflowing--beyond my expectations.

At the Sunday evening service I looked around and the faces that I had seen before and suddenly they had names to go with them, I no longer felt fearful as the roller coaster moved along the track. God had already been showing me He could provide peace during the scary times, but I had forgotten that He also provides people.

I took my bread and placed it on my lips and whispered to myself, "This is your body..."

And my eyes welled up with heartfelt tears. THIS IS YOUR BODY. These people are your body and they are here for me. I am your body and I am here for someone! As a body of believers we are here for each other. WE are the hands to minister to the weak and hurting, we are the voice that tells the lost of His Kingdom and we are also the arms to hug one another. God has allowed me the chance to be in this body to experience the arms around me and for me to be the arms around someone as well.
I know that being involved in ministry and serving is not going to save me from feeling the downward fall of the roller coaster. I've served in other churches and I know that serving the Lord is a ride like no other. But, I won't be alone on the ride! God's body of believers will be riding with me. I also don't know all the ways that God will use me in this body, but I do know this: the best part about riding on a roller coaster is I don't have to steer. God has taken care of the destination and I just need to be in the car and ready to go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lucy's Barking

I have a very sweet dog who sounds like Lassie when she barks. She is the same breed, a rough collie, and she goes by the name of Lucy. The first time we heard her bark was not long after we brought her home in 2005. We had built a fire in the fireplace and we brought her inside from the chilly 55 degree winter night (Orange County can be brutal) to be inside on her large pillow and enjoy a Christmas movie with the family. She took one look at the fire blazing out of control in our family room and began to summon the fire department for help. You could almost imagine the words she was trying to express, “Fire! Get out! Go this way... through this glass door! I’ll hold it back—with my incredible bark!”
There are times when it can be amusing to watch her use her bark to protect us. If someone is vacuuming the carpet or blow drying their hair while she is in the house—she will use her warning bark to remind us of her powerful presence and her ability to save us in the event the appliances should come to life and attack. She will protect us, even if it is dangerous to her.
Every once in a while she will bark in the night. We have become accustomed to this and we do what we can to stop her when she’s struggling with insomnia. Usually, the Alpha Male (my husband) will just call her name sternly out the window and she will give up on the cat or the opossum that is taunting her and go back to sleep. Last night, my brave little collie was not barking her usual bark. Her bark wasn't the Lassie-bark warning that “Timmy had fallen into the well!” It was much more agitated—even angry. To be quite frank, she sounded completely pissed off. It was a scary bark that woke me from the beginning stages of REM. Of course, my husband would sleep through a meteor shower at the foot of our bed, so I had to wake him to make her stop. (Remember—he is the Alpha and she doesn't listen to me.) He did the usual call, in his very deep Alpha Male voice, to make her stop. But, Lucy didn’t even miss a beat. She didn’t seem to care that the Man she adores was commanding her to stop. She just continued in her very angry-dog-voice-bark to yell at something in the yard. Now, for those of you who do not have a dog, you have to understand, it is completely embarrassing when this happens because now you know that not only have the neighbors heard the robust barking, but they have also heard the yelling to make her stop and the fact that she didn’t stop. Then, of course, being a Mom, you begin to wonder if they are thinking, “Wow, they can’t control their dog?! I wonder what their children are like! I bet they can’t control them either!” The whole situation leads to images of episodes of white trash TV!
Finally, to avoid having the police called and the one remaining teenager taken into child protective custody, the Alpha Male grabs a flashlight and heads outside. I don’t go along because I have to stay inside with the cordless phone ready to dial 911. As he heads out the door I am just thankful for two things. 1) He’s wearing a shirt—it would be very embarrassing if this escalates out of control and he ends up on COPS with no shirt. 2) He didn’t take his bow and arrow. Usually when he hears a noise he sees it as an invitation to act out his Tolkien fantasies.

Outside, the very loud and very angry dog is running in circles around a large pine tree in the corner of the yard. After a few minutes of shinning the light in the corners of the darkness, he sees the cause of the commotion. Hiding behind his mask, sitting on the fence is Mr. Raccoon. Mr. Raccoon is completely at ease and stares back at the Alpha Male and without speaking an audible word Mr. Raccoon says, “What are you doing in my yard and why is your dumb dog so loud?” Well, the Alpha Male stares back and says, “Well, buddy, the dog IS loud, so why aren’t you leaving?” Then Mr. Raccoon looks up in the tree. So the Alpha Male raises his flashlight to see, directly above his head, two little eyes (also hiding behind a mask) staring down at him from the tree. Mrs. Raccoon is watching all of the activity from her bedroom and while she is very annoyed at the racket, she is glad that Mr. Raccoon is wearing a shirt. After a few minutes of starring the Alpha Male does what any man would do at this point, he turns and runs excitedly into the house and into the room of his firstborn son—“Hey, there’s a raccoon in the yard!”
The young man happened to be on his computer “skyping with his girlfriend”, which, by the way is not an immoral act that teenagers do—it is using your web cam to have live face to face conversations with someone who is far away. So, because the Young Man is like the Alpha Male, he finds the presence of Mr. & Mrs. Raccoon fascinating and brings his computer along so that he can introduce them to his girlfriend. Now, the dog is still barking and the Alpha Male and the Young Man are laughing very loud and the girlfriend is stuck in the computer which is sitting on the patio table. Meanwhile, the noise of it all alerts the Daughter who is in the house watching Desperate Housewives. So, the Daughter (who wished to be called in this blog The-Sexy-Blonde-One-Who-In-Some-Ways-Resembles-Venus-The-Goddess-of-Beauty) went outside to see what the commotion was. When Mr. Raccoon saw the two crazy men, the girlfriend stuck in the computer, the loud angry dog and The-Sexy-Blonde-One-Who-In-Some-Ways-Resembles-Venus-The-Goddess-of-Beauty all staring up at him he decided that our family was more dangerous than he had originally presumed and he made his way high up into the tree to be with Mrs. Raccoon.
The insane group, that I like to call my family, then spends the next 20 minutes shinning the light into the masked faces of Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon while the collie continues to alert the entire neighborhood to their presence. The girlfriend in the computer begins to get cold outside, so The-Sexy-Blonde-One-Who-In-Some-Ways-Resembles-Venus-The-Goddess-of-Beauty carries her back inside to watch TV through the Skyp and finally, the Alpha Male and the Young Man move the protective collie to the garage to sleep on her pillow.
This morning I am peering out the window at my big tree, and I don’t see the Raccoons up there and I am wondering if they have already left for work. The radio is on and I am listening to the news stories from the weekend. I ask my Alpha Male, if the Raccoons are dangerous. Will they eat my cats? Should I be nervous? Within 4 minutes of my asking the question, the newscaster on the radio tells the story of a 74-year-old woman who was attacked by 5 raccoons. Apparently, a “gang” of raccoons attacked this poor woman in her backyard and she is fortunate to be alive. Now, these raccoons were living in Polk County, so most likely they have a different mindset than the rest of the nation’s raccoons—most of the country thinks differently than those who live in Florida. However, it is a little unnerving to think that I am sharing my yard with these little masked rodents who may at any time decide I would make a tasty snack.
I don't want to focus on the Florida Raccoon Gang and their sharp claws so I think about the whole picture from the night before. And immediately I am reminded of why it is okay that I spend $22.00 for a bag of dog food. I remember why it is alright that, annually, I pay the groomer more than my hairdresser. I recall that throughout the whole very loud event, which I am sure the neighbors thoroughly enjoyed, the one constant was my loyal collie. She recognized the danger that Mr. & Mrs. Raccoon possessed and she was angry that they would approach the home that she is destined to protect. She never wavered from her fierce protector mode, even when she saw their cute little faces. How wonderful to have such purpose and such resolve. I can learn a lot from my dog about loyalty. How ashamed am I that I don't know better than to trust the bark of the one who loves me.
Tonight it is quiet and I can type and wonder about the whereabouts of the Raccoon family, but, I don't have to worry about them sneaking into my yard to climb into their tree house unannounced. Because, after all, I have a very sweet dog who sounds like Lassie when she barks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Time Change

My husband is a runner and several days a week he gets up early to fasten his running shoes to his feet and pound the pavement. Being a light sleeper, I hear him rise and I begin an internal battle about my own exercise routine. I enjoy a morning walk and I am always glad that I made the effort to walk--after the walk is over. Before the walk, I am not thrilled in any way and I would much rather lay in bed while my husband is outside changing the world with his running. And then he can bring a cup of coffee to my nightstand when he is finished.
However, I know that this isn't healthy, so I lay there having a battle. There is a cute park that I can walk to in the morning. It is a triangle shape, much like a folded flag, and it is filled with flowering trees that are dedicated to the likes of Betsy Ross, Martha Washington and others from American history. I walk up the hill and around the darling little park and then back down the hill and it takes a little over a half an hour to complete the course. On a perfect day, I get up at 6 AM, when my "running man" gets up , and I head out the door by 6:15. I can be back home and in the shower before 7. It leaves me time to sit and read while I eat my breakfast. My whole day feels a little lighter to carry.
This is becoming increasingly difficult for me to do. Lately when I wake up at 6 AM--it is still dark outside and my mind gets confused about what we are supposed to be doing. So, I lay in bed and have the following argument with myself:
"Get up."-- the cruel woman says.
"No. It's dark."-- the tired woman answers.
"You need to walk."
"No. It's nighttime."
"Your getting fat."
"Ouch. How about if we walk at lunch?"
"It will be too hot."
"After work. We will walk after work. It will be so nice. We can bring the dog and the man and we can go to the park with the ducks..."
"You'll say your too tired after work. Get up."
"But its so dark. I can't do anything when its so dark and scary!"

You get the picture, right? So, eventually at the end of the argument I drag "her" out of bed, put on my shoes and head out the door. Time wasted arguing has pushed the clock forward, it's 7 AM. I have to hurry to the top of the hill, around the old flag lady park, then back down the hill and straight into the shower. I want to have my time to read at breakfast, so, while I am out, I try to pick up my speed and for about 50 strides I, too, become a runner. But, running is not my friend. There are too many things to strap down and hold up to really enjoy the pounding. Things are just flying everywhere and, seriously, someone could get hurt. The whole walk is less enjoyable and I end up feeling a little frazzled when I jump into the shower. Breakfast ends up being a granola bar and a banana that I eat in my car. My day doesn't have the same optimistic vibe.
So, this morning when my runner's little phone alarm started playing the Battle of the Republic and it was still dark all around me, I raised my head and spied that it was 6 AM and with a half of a sigh and mostly an irritated complaint I asked, "When is the time change?"

"Next month" the runner replied.

A whole month of darkness in the morning? 30 mornings of fighting to get up and get out on the road to create endorphins in the dark? But, I'm tired of the darkness! I need the change to come now!
Somehow, I manage to drag "her" out of bed and into a sports bra. As I head out the door, I begin my walk up the hill with my ipod in tow. I am tired and cold and acutely aware that if the sun were out it would be a lot less scary.
One step after another my mind fades into thoughts of what I will be doing the rest of the day. My heart gets a little heavy and the anxious feelings turn into knots and begin to tighten my stomach. I am not looking forward to going to work today. Finding joy and peace where I work seems nearly impossible. From the first hour of the first day, it has been one of the most emotionally trying experiences I've ever gotten myself into.
But, due to the economy, I do what a lot of people are doing. I work and I save. And I pray. I know that God sees everything that I am going through, and He is there with me from the moment I clock into work on Monday until I dig through my purse for my keys on Friday. I'm never there alone and I'm always clocked in for Him. I work to serve Him and to bring Him the glory by being as much like Jesus as I can. I try to think of how Jesus would be if he were the one giving a child his flu shot. How would he treat this child, how would he treat this child's parents?
I know that it can't stay this way forever and my thoughts began to wrap around how much I am waiting on God to bring about change. I know that I won’t always be where I am. God has reassured me that He is at work and so I wait for God to work a miracle and change my circumstances. But the change isn't coming and my spirit is becoming more and more weak. The battle at work rages and I continue praying for God to transform my situation. I ask for Him to get me out of there, I even fax out my resume to help Him save me--but, He doesn't.
I think back to the last few weeks when I reached a point of utter desperation and despair. I wanted to fall down and I wanted to allow my depression to take over, but I couldn't. See, the battle has been going on for many months and I've been begging God to rescue me and in that moment that I was truly at my lowest--He lifted me up. I had spent so much time pleading with God to save me--that He saved the me that no one else can see.
It seems the more I pray for God to change my situation, the more He allows my situation to change me--for His good. And He will change the exterior of my situation, when His time is right. I won't always work at the place I am working, but, when He moves me to the next place I will be stronger for the time I've spent clinging to Him.
As I come around the edge of the first corner of the triangle park I am in a new state of satisfaction. My walk is almost over and looking out across the valley at the fog and I am so thankful that I am awake and outside and watching the sun melting away the mist. I am so glad that I was able to move through the morning haze and welcome this new day. I am reminded that God will do the same thing in my life. The haze will lift, perhaps slowly and I will be able to experience the new plan that He is mapping out for me. And having journeyed through the darkness will make me all the more thankful for the arrival into the place of light. I find a sense of peace knowing this.
As I am heading down the hill and beginning my cool down, I reach into my pocket and change my ipod to shuffle. I like to cool down with surprise music and let myself sing along to whatever happens. I spin my finger around the dial without looking and then jab the start button. As soon as I hear the music, it is like the lighting of a candle—delicate, soft and familiar--all at once. Before the lyrics begin, I am pleased. Then I hear the sound of George Harrison’s familiar vocals:
“Little darling…it's been a long cold lonely winter”
And I begin to sing with him. I am now walking with John, Paul, George and Ringo. We are heading down the hill and I am singing at the top of my lungs. The chorus comes and the words get stuck in my throat—
“Here comes the sun” and suddenly, my eyes well up with tears. Like a covenant to seal the deal, God gives me a song. Everything He was just telling me is suddenly echoed in the words of a Beatles song. I feel so ashamed of my doubt over the last few months. The sun is rising in the sky and God is raising the sun in my life. He is taking me to new places to experience Him on a new path.
As I wait for the clock to be changed, I will continue to argue with myself about getting up early and walking and I will always win the argument—whether I get up or not! But as I wait for God to change some of the things that I am in the midst of dealing with I won’t argue and I won’t allow doubt to control my mood. Luci Swindoll says in her book Life—Celebrate It "The best of human freedoms is the ability to choose my own attitude in any set of circumstances."
"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" Romans 8:24
His timing for the daybreak is perfect. I place my hope in Him and I wait.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Guess what, Oprah, I'm not a lesbian.

Thanks to Facebook I ended up watching Oprah. My daughter saw a status update from a friend in another time zone and told me we had to tune in. I wasn't crazy about the idea. I mean, it was a beautiful day outside and because we had not recorded it we would have to watch *gasp* commercials. But, hey this is my "reliving my Stay-At-Home-Mom days vacation", so I guess it includes Oprah.
The show was about women who in their mid-life had left their husbands of 20 some years and turned to a life of Lesbianism. Hmm. Okay. I'm in my mid-life and I've been married for over 21 years. Let's see what they have to say. I knew that most likely I wasn't going to be getting any spiritual awakenings from the show and I was cool with that, I mean, if I go to Cheesecake Factory I can't get irritated that it is all fattening--so when I look to the world I can't get irritated that it is all fluff. Say what sounds politically correct, Oprah. Blah, blah, blah.
The women were extreme cases who had allowed themselves to become caught up in this particular lifestyle and now they were feeling "alive and renewed" for the first time. One woman said that it wasn't about sexuality--but it was about identity. I found that I wasn't irritated with the women, but the thing that I was so aware of was how they had truly missed their moment.
There is this moment that a woman goes through and it seems to happen in her 40's--although some women may experience it sooner and others a little later. At this moment a woman will begin to feel like she has finally bloomed. She isn't as perfect as she used to be on the exterior, but something on the inside takes over and she unfolds a whole new dimension. Some people miss it, because it is a little scary and they are so overwhelmed by the beauty that seems to be fleeting that they chase after that which is unobtainable. I believe that these women who "became" lesbians would have had an awakening within their marriages had they not ran from that experience.
Then the "expert" began to talk. She wrote a book, therefore she is the expert.
Now, I am irritated.This woman had the opinion that the reason so many more women are choosing this alternative lifestyle is because for the first time (in all of history) women can have a "true emotional connection".
Seriously? Seriously.
I became almost enraged. I happen to have some absolutely beautiful friendships with women whom I am so connected with on an emotional and spiritual level. Can this "expert" honestly tell me that I am not as connected emotionally because I don't have sex with them? Since when is having sex with someone the defining moment of being connected emotionally. With that logic, all the 15 year-old girls who are having sex are more connected to their pimply faced cohorts than their own Mom's are connected to their best friends from college.
As a woman who has loved and lived in some very powerful friendships with other women I am outraged. I have shared a deep transforming love with other women. I hear their voices in the choices I make--they are with me even when I am alone. I will not be having a "lesbian transformation", but I will NOT accept the belief that the women who do so are having one because they achieved an intimacy that I can't understand.
Finally this, my girlfriends, I would be there for you. I would catch an airplane, drive through the desert, rub your shoulders, hold your hand and cry with you. I would tell you the truth if you are making a mistake and I would listen to you talk your way through the valley you are in. There is nothing that you could do that would surprise me enough to turn me away. You are my friend and I love you. Oh, and guess what, Oprah, I'm not a lesbian.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little Butterfly

We have all done things that we regret. Almost nightly I fall into bed and while the pillow is still cool, I am already wondering about half of the day’s choices. Sometimes the decisions are small and seemingly insignificant. 
"Ah, I should have tipped the barista...why didn't I walk after dinner?..did I really just spend 36 dollars on hair conditioner?" But, sometimes the regrets are bigger. Sometimes they linger for years and left unattended--they don't go away; they seem to come back and attack you when you are least likely to be able to defend yourself.

Facebook has opened up a whole world of connection to a lot of mid-lifers and we are looking at our choices once again. Some of our choices were clearly for the better, but, some are a little cloudier. Names are more recognizable than faces, and our memories have altered the truth of the time. We remember small details with large definition, never realizing that others will remember things differently.

Recently, thanks to the big blue f, I have been able to reconnect with friends from High School. Some of the women, who I once was a cheerleader with in the 80's, met for a day out on the ocean to do some kayaking. As we rowed our little kayaks along the harbor we all had so many questions for one another. We had each heard a little bit about an old classmate--I had the least information, so I had the most to learn.

After an hour of rowing, I finally asked about "that boy". He wasn't a boy I was in love with as a teenager. We weren't an item in any way. I never even dated him. He was more of a mistake that led to years of heartache. He was a boy who asked for a ride home from a party, which led to an unplanned pregnancy. I was 17, a few months away from graduation, and pregnant with a baby from a boy I barely knew. 

I chose the path of abortion. 

My mom took me and I had a second trimester abortion on a Saturday morning. I was able to go back to school on Monday morning and make plans for Prom and Grad night with all my peers. My little heart was broken, but I wouldn't even begin to feel the pain from that break for many years. I really expected to hear that the "boy" was living a life similar to most of the guys from high school; working a job he never intended, attending his kids sports events and maybe on his second marriage. 

What I got was, for some reason, a little more unusual. He had gone on to marry a former sitcom star and they had just recently had a baby. The star and her baby were even in People magazine. I am not sure why this was confusing, but I became acutely aware that I was feeling new thoughts about my little unborn baby.

Their new little baby was the 1/2 brother to my little unborn baby. For some reason, knowing who he married and knowing that I used to watch her on TV every week and knowing that we were in a way--connected--made me feel strange. 


I am not really sure, perhaps because in a spiritual way our kids are connected. According to the real world, it's really not a connection, and I'm not going to become a stalker. It's just a reminder that our world is so small. It's also a memory of a little baby who never had a chance. He was conceived at the wrong time to the wrong parents.

For a long time I have been aware of the fact that my world would be different had he been born. My husband was in Bible College when we met and in 1985 a single mom with a 2-year-old was not the best choice for a church Pastor. 

But, today I am thinking about how the WHOLE world would have been altered by his birth. Anyone who has ever seen Ashton Kutcher's movie "The Butterfly Effect" knows that changes don't always work out for the best. I am not going to fool myself into believing that it would all be perfect if I had chosen to not have an abortion. I know that I can't look back or I will just keep tripping over my feet in the here and now. I also know that while I may wish I had made different choices these are the choices I did make and they are part of what makes me who I am.  

One summer day, about 14 years ago, I was watching my {then} 3-year-old son learn to swim and I had a fleeting thought about the baby that was never born in 1983. I wondered if I would have been as good of a mom to him as I was to my son. And suddenly, a light came on, a light of love and forgiveness told me, "Yes." I am who I am, and I was me along time ago.

I would have loved him and watched him with pride during his swim lessons, read him Dr. Seuss and eventually would have fought with him about cleaning his room and doing his Algebra homework. I would have snuck in his room to read his text messages and kissed him on his forehead while he slept. But that's not the point anymore. My little butterfly didn't get to come into this world to help me become a better person, but he was still here inside of me and he was still able to help me become the best mom I could be. The best person I could be. He was just a flutter, only here for a moment and his effect still lasts. The changes were within a teenage girl who grew up to be a little more humble, way more approachable and always longing for God's attainable Grace.

Linking today for On My Heart Tuesdays with Shanda @ A Pause on the Path