When Beauty is a Beast

Psalm139Some days… when standing before my reflection, stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

I do well most of the time, but when the body image monster sneaks up on me, it does so with a vengeance. I go from being comfortable in my skin to feeling like the reflection in a fun-house mirror. I wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I see my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food and exercise is less than ideal.

(I’m honored to be writing for Leading and Loving It today. Will you join me over there and read the rest of this post?)

No quit Monday

Cherub statueDo you see it?
The smile I wear so big and bright.
Do you know I came home and collapsed in a pile on the bed
Tired of being tired.
Mentally drained.
Emotionally exhausted.
Spiritually hungry.

Of course you don’t.
How could you?
I would never say those words.

I wouldn’t tell you that I’m consumed with thoughts of motherless children, the homeless, forgotten, abused, discarded human beings and those plagued by addiction.
Little ones and big ones alike who cannot help themselves, overwhelm my longing to be the hands and feet of Christ.
There are too many, Lord.
Where do I even begin?

I don’t always want to live up to my name.
Sometimes I want to pass by without notice.
Sometimes I want to look down at my feet instead of making eye contact.
Sometimes I wish to blend into the background.

What?

It’s true.
Today.
I miss my friend who died last May, leaving two beautiful children and the man of her dreams behind.
My insides ache for my daughter imprisoned by her own mind.
I countdown to 2 weeks when I no longer have a steady paycheck.
I realize that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

What if I’m not good enough?
What if I fail?
What if I made a mistake thinking this could work?
What if I can’t do this?
What if it’s my will, not God’s?

I close the door to my closet,
Flip the light off,
Sit on the floor,
Wall against my back,
Listening to myself breathe.

Deep, calculated, cleansing breath in.
I fill up my lungs until the tingle runs down my scalp.
Slow breath out
the worry, stress, insecurity, doubt and any possible regret exit with it.

Does she know I would be there if I could?
Does she know how hard I fight for her?
I am no longer in the circle of decision.
Doesn’t she know, had I not placed distance there, I could not have recovered?
No.
She doesn’t know.
She shouldn’t know.

It’s okay.
I tell myself…again.
But it isn’t, is it?
Not today.
Today it stings like the hornet.
Today I wallow in mental despondency.
Today I long for sleep and nothing else.

Today is almost gone.
What will I show for it when looking back?
I kept breathing.
In and out.
I got up and put one foot in front of the other.
I kept breathing.

God, please don’t allow me to stay here, in this place, for very long.
Darkness tries to hide you,
But your presence is fierce.
Words try to mask your message
But you cannot be silenced.
Time tries to deflect your promises
But to you, what is time?

Pull me from my melancholy stance.
My inner rantings.
My futile attempts at peace.

No… Don’t.
Stay here with me while the pain escapes through salty tears and silent screams.
Stay here. In the anguish. Until it has all been felt and I can turn towards your cleansing light.

What am I to you, God of the universe.
A mere mortal whose time is comparable to dust.
Who’s life is but a vapor.
Who am I to you?
Whisper the answer to my impatient soul.

Stay with me in the stillness.
Stay until dawn breaks the thickness of night.
Stay until silence is replaced with singing.
Stay.
With me here.
Until I can get up off this floor
And stand on my own two feet.

Then will I know the storm has passed.

Evermore goodbye…

My girl
The tears won’t come
Though each time it’s as if the scar is being torn open
Re-injured
The never healing wound

That’s the only way to describe the feeling when my child leaves after a stay longer than the weekend

It’s never easy or right, however
The pain is more manageable when it’s a mere two days every four weeks
Not as incredibly intense and
Without the agonizing withdrawals

The moments that follow this one will be filled with uncertainty
Questions stirring in my heart and surfacing only in my conscience
Asking, “What kind of mother…”
Confirming my selfishness
Conceding to the lies that bind
Even if only for a time, the truth feels underserved

Tomorrow I will bathe in the promises of my Savior
Tomorrow I will dance in the light of truth
Tomorrow I will stitch up the wound with threads of hope

For today, I will feel the warm tears stinging my eyes and finally running down my cheeks
Relieving the implosion going on below the surface
I will self medicate with prayer and meditation
I will experience the loss of something I love
Even if only for a time

Weekly Photo Challenge: HaPpY

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Yay! How much do I LOVE this week’s photo challenge?! A LOT! It was tough for me to choose only a few, but I have done it! Are you ready? Here we go. Strings of lights hung above a walkway. … Continue reading

Sunday Post: People

Children are people too… just smaller

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
~Mother Teresa~

I think children have a much greater concept of this beautiful reading from Mother Teresa. I learn so much from the many children who I am blessed to have in my life.

Are you thinking about a great illustration for Jake’s challenge this week?
Join in by clicking the badge below.

Go, go, gadget time machine

My friend Chinua Hawk posed a question on facebook this morning that has proven to be quite the conversation starter.

He asked, “If you had the ability to go back 20 years or so and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?”

What a poignant question! While typing the first thing that came to mind, it really got me thinking. 20 years ago I was 16. SO much happened between the years of 16-18 and then an entirely new level of life happened from 18-21. So what would I tell myself?

I was 16 when I met Chris. I was angry and confused by the current circumstances of my life. I had a warped perception of love, God, myself and the future. I would have told myself to wait. “Wait for this man who loves you. Even though you don’t fully understand what love is, one day it will be the very thing that helps you find your way back to God. This man will play a pivotal role in that.”

I talked about this very thing in the post A Letter to Myself. But it was more about what I would tell my Bella. This is a little different. In the past I have avoided looking back and asking, “What would I have done differently?” Maybe because there is just too much to sift through and I spent 6 months working step 4 of 12 in Alcoholics Anonymous wading through all of the garbage that was behind me in order to move forward. Truth be told, It must be a continual “cleaning out” of self. Mind, body and spirit. It’s not a one time deal. Chinua reminded me that I don’t have to regret everything when answering this question. I can respond in an open and honest way that will hopefully help someone else, maybe even my own children.

He also asked what one thing you would tell yourself if you could go back 10 years. I cannot believe I haven’t thought of this question sooner! October 19, by the grace of God, I will have lived 10 years without the use of alcohol or illegal substances to aid me in my efforts to avoid all feelings and circumstances. When I realize that an entire decade has passed for this girl who couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without a drink, I am both humbled and so incredibly grateful.

I am also reminded that this life is meant to be lived on a day-to-day basis, not 1 year, 5 years or 10 years into the future. When we try to live so far in the future, we ultimately fail…every time. So if I could tell my 10 year younger self one thing it would be, “Just keep breathing in and out. Today is filled with uncertainty and the unknown is scary, but everything will come together. There is beauty in this life that you cannot even begin to imagine right now, but you will. There are many tears, I know. Maybe you could look at them as a purging of sorts? A cleansing from emotions that have held you hostage for years. They no longer bind you. You are free. Soon you will look back on this day as the moment that you made the difficult and necessary choice to change your life for the better and begin living your purpose. The journey is long, but you can do it! And, you will never walk the road alone.

A little more about the man who inspired the post.

Chinua is an insanely talented artist. His voice is intoxicating. I have never heard its equal. The really cool thing is that he has a heart as big as his voice. He is a genuinely wonderful human being and his smile is contagious. When he is on stage, you cannot help but be captivated by his presence and inspired by his lyrics. You can learn more about him and hear a sample of his music by clicking here 

Want to know where he is on social media? You are only a click away…
His Facebook Page
Visit Him on Myspace
Watch Him On YouTube
Download His Music @ ITunes
Buy His CDs at CD Baby
Encore Artists (His management Company)

I’ll have…an overwhelmed June Cleaver with a side of crazy, please.

“Oh, June. With your pearls and your 19 inch waist, in your polished beige heals, fryin’ it up in a pan to have on the table when Ward, Wally and the Beave get home. How did you do it, June?! How did you hold it all together? (Is that a pill bottle I see by the cookie jar? Or maybe the pill bottle IS the cookie jar. Nice cover!)”

Being a wife and mother is hard difficult virtually impossible left to my own devices. Thankfully God knew this and makes it clear that I am not alone when that affirmation is needed the most. For the record, I’m not feeling any affirmations from June. I bet she was drinking straight gin from the freezer between takes! And who can blame her?!

I step over a growing mound of laundry to sit in my “writing chair” and purge my day of mental processing, I stare at the laundry and remember the fact that I need to vacuum….thank you notes need to be written…emails need responses…Bella is leaving again tomorrow…the lump comes up in my throat and that old familiar feeling of being overwhelmed attempts to settle in. Why does this happen?

I don’t think men have the incessant thought pattern that we women have. From the time I get up in the morning, the thoughts come pouring in. Hot off the presses from my unconscious mind to the conscious mind, continuing throughout every moment of every day.

It is imperative to start my day with 3 things; God, Quiet, and Coffee. If I miss anyone of those I’m setting myself up for failure, but especially the first one. It must look something like this for me…breathe in God, breathe out God (repeat), dwell on God and his promises (without ceasing), speak God into every circumstance…all God all the time. If not, my ego will sneak in and screw everything up.

For those of you who are parents, maybe you can relate, for those who aren’t, consider this mental preparation for the day you might someday become one. By nature, we are selfish creatures. Some of us more than others. I have to make a conscious effort to invite God into my day or I tend to leave him at home, waving good-bye as I speed away in the minivan with my praise music blaring. (It’s hard to yell at your children with praise music on. Yay for preemptive steps.)

What I’ve learned is that God does not force himself on me. He’s a gentleman. Sure he can be intense and fierce, but in my day-to-day he tends to wait for me to approach the throne of grace. “Why?” you ask. Because there is just something in the effort of me taking the initiative. When I don’t approach the throne of grace, opening my hands to survey those things thought to be of the utmost importance, I will keep my fingers tightly closed, missing all of the things that are waiting to be poured into them. I don’t want to do that! And yet, I still do it. Do you see my dilemma?

It’s me!!! I am my own dilemma!!! “Why not just fix it then?” you ask. Because I’m stubborn and doubtful and slow to change. The world screams at me in every way that if I’m not doing this, wearing that, volunteering there, eating these, I’m doing it all wrong.

I have a couple of different choices in this situation, I can continue to beat myself up with how I’m never going to win be nominated for “Mother of the Year” or I can turn to the voices of truth that refresh my soul and renew my mind. Like these gals…

I opened a recent post from my friend Courtney over at Lil Light O’ Mine where she was writing about her precious Ella not wanting to wear glasses because no one else her age does and everyone asks her about them. Courtney’s answer was beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear today. (Sometimes it helps to talk to me like I’m a Kindergartener, especially when I’m acting like one!)

Another awesome chick whose every word I hang on is Joy Phenix. Not just because she has an awesome name, but because she doesn’t pretend to have it all together, even though I think she’s one of the most stellar women on the planet. She writes over at Joy: Defined and one of my favorite posts is her take on the unattainable “balance” in life. She recommends working on your life “blend.” You can read all about it by clicking here.

My mentor is another irreplaceable gift in my life. Pam started a blog recently though she has been writing, speaking and coaching for years. I look forward to her posts as I can hear her beautiful southern accent through the page. It leaves me with a hankerin’ for sweet tea every time.

Who is that person for you? Do you have a person? If not, you can borrow mine until you find one or forever. These ladies have more wisdom and insight than they will ever be able to give away. They continue to grow and stretch themselves everyday in new ways. That’s what I want to be doing…growing and stretching. So when I have days filled with “mommy time-outs” I will rejoice in the gifts that are my children and I will thank God for the blessing of strong beautiful women who remind me that I’m not alone on this journey and that “perfect” may as well be a four letter word.

Awesome Resource at your fingertips! The one and only, Andy Stanley is in the middle of the series, Future Family. It is so great. Click here to watch the messages and print discussion questions. (You can thank me later, cause you’ll want to!)