Permission to Shed Your Armor

hero |ˈhi(ə)rō|
noun (pl. heroes)
a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

Somehow, somewhere, we women got it in our heads that our men are unshakeable. That nothing should affect them, especially the way it affects us… They are the strong ones… There isn’t anything they can’t shrug off and move on from. Well, this simply isn’t true. And that fact doesn’t make them any less of a hero.

JCP2015-When my man walks through the door, in from the world and all of it’s toxic arrows, the first thing he should be able to do is shed his armor.

I don’t always allow him to do that. I don’t always tell him what an amazing provider he is and how strong and courageous he is to fight the daily battles that I could never withstand. I’m not always his biggest cheerleader and I don’t always let him know that there is no one, to me, like he is.

I want to. I do.

MY will gets in the way.
MY clouded perception of who does what and who should do more or less, creeps up.
MY skewed sense of self worth puts up a wall that isn’t always easily torn down and instead of voicing my insecurity, I lash out.
MY self centeredness kicks in, more than I would like to admit and within moments, my priorities can center solely around my wants.
This is not something I’m proud of.

Here is the solution. And I know this, because I have failed at so many other ways of trying.

Please join me on the blog over at leadingandlovingit.com/blog for the rest of this post.

Gratitude doesn’t sleep

I lie awake, staring at the ceiling fan turn round and round, wondering if sleep will ever come.

The cicadas make their presence known outside the window. Their sound has become a lullaby of sorts throughout the summer. A familiar bedtime routine just before sleep.

Where did the summer go? Why have I not been more present? The regimented moments of the school year will soon ensue.

Bella’s gone…again. Every time she leaves it’s the same hollow ache. Raw pain is the worst kind. There’s no time to heal before the wound is reopened.

In the stillness of night, everyone sleeps. My mind reels, offering no reprieve.

“God, please help me find that peace that passes all understanding.” I whisper. Gratitude is the word that sprints to the forefront of my mind. Thankful. Acknowledge, Receive, Bask in the goodness, share it with others.

Only inches away, my lover sleeps.
His strong sculpted arms now resting and still.
The legs that carry him through a day of work are relaxed.
The beautiful back that sustains and provides for our family, now stretched out in slumber.
The shoulders that carry the weight of responsibility, nestle into the bed that knows and gives way to his form.

Rest is such a gift and a beautiful thing to witness.
His chest rises and falls.
Nothing sounds as sweet as life.

My love. That one. The only one to conquer and reign over my heart.
I adore him. And the breath he breathes is the sweetest air of all.
I move closer to his warmth. Smiling…I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this man.
This life.

A girl like me, living a life like this. Having been thoroughly cleansed, now cloaked in grace.

I close my eyes.
Sleep will be here soon.
Quiet tears of thanks run down my face, into my pillow.
The realization that I would follow this man anywhere, settles in.
Where he is, I am.
He is home.

To the Oldies, the Newbies and Those Inbetween

thank you I want to take a minute to say, “Thank you.”
To those of you who have shared my writings all over social media,
To those who have read and commented,
To those who are receiving notifications of new posts,
To those who aren’t afraid to disagree with me,
To those who I’ve never even met, but consistently send me encouragement,
To those who email me with desperate pleas for help with addiction, eating disorders or something else you know I have walked through,
To those who find community here…
It is such a privilege to share this space with you.

I love that we have comments from all over the world complimenting our stories. It’s incredible to read of the laughter and tears shed (sometimes in the same sitting) while reading posts and comments on these pages.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I’m a egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Some days my feet never touch the ground, while other days my face never leaves the dirt. I am my own worst critic with an inner cheerleader. I fluctuate between feeling like a goddess and an ogre. I am either the happiest, most optimistic person in the room or the anxiety ridden pessimist who draws the blinds and sits in the dark.

Through all of the emotions, I have written. The one constant in my physical life has been the ability to verbally vomit when needed and find healing in the chaos. Through the journey of starting my own business, grieving the loss of someone close to me and walking into incredibly fragile situations with families I had never met, to document the last few moments of their baby’s life, I know I can come here, to this page and process.

I have been completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by the response to many of the things I write. Astounded that anything I have to say would resonate with anyone else and move them to positive action. Elated to find that I am not alone in any struggle.

I am so grateful to you for using what I know to be valuable, precious time, to be with me for a few moments. It’s a gift and one that I do not take for granted.

The days ahead are full. And though I can’t come visit with you as much as I would like, please know that I think of you, my beautiful readers, all the time. I pray for you and I thank God for you.

Thank you for investing in my story.

Love and Light,
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For the Volunteer

Dear Volunteer,

I am a mother of 3 and have experienced every children’s ministry environment offered at Buckhead Church. I was watching Large Group in Waumba Land Sunday morning when years of memories came flooding in. As the children raised their hands in worship, I was overcome with gratitude.

I wish I had thanked you sooner. Only, I didn’t have the words. On this day, while standing in the back watching men and women, with busy lives, volunteer to surround our preschoolers with truth and light, the words came faster than I could process them.

UpStreet, thank you for welcoming and ushering in my 7-year-old with bed head and a half eaten pop tart in his hand. Little did you know, just 5 minutes before, I was sitting in my car contemplating not coming in. You removed the weight of the world in those few moments at check-in.

Transit, thank you for sacrificing your time to my confused middle schooler (now in high school) not only on Sunday, but for retreats, special outings and all the texts/calls/emails in-between when you were the only voice of reason. In those times when my words fell on deaf ears, yours were heard, felt and followed. You didn’t know that the weeks leading up to boot camp she had contemplated suicide. Thank you for praying that prayer with her on the last night of camp. You were able to speak hope in a way that I couldn’t. I wonder how many souls have been saved because of your investment?

Waumba Land, thank you for greeting my child with a warm smile at the door when he had arms crossed, furrowed brow and feet firmly planted outside the room. Thank you for playing referee when he was “the runner.” And the times you took his hand while looking at my worried face and said, “Go to service mom. We will be just fine here” as he screamed and kicked, were the days I got the most from the message. You didn’t know this, but when my alarm went off that morning I hit snooze and strongly considered staying in bed. Your interactions with my child motivated me to get up and out even when it felt like staying home was avoiding a battle.

Host Team, thank you for making sure I don’t get lost in the crowd. I have been attending for years but there was a Sunday, last year, when I must have looked lost because several of you welcomed me and asked if you could help me find where I was going. “No thanks.” was my response, but the fact that you took notice and offered to help meant so much. You didn’t know this but the next day my 36-year-old friend passed away 9 months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She left behind a husband and two small children my kids ages. We had grown up together and I felt like part of my childhood was buried with her that day.

Parking Team, if maintaining a highly functioning team of hundreds to get people in and out of one of the busiest areas in Atlanta was an Olympic sport, you would, without a doubt, take the gold. Thank you for showing up, rain or shine, putting on a vest and a smile and waving your flashing wand. You may not know that more than once I have tried to use the excuse of “traffic” and my preschooler would say, “Mommy, can the ninjas in orange vests with lightsabers show us where to park?” What can I say to that? Out of the mouth of babes…

Facilities and clean up crew. Thank you doesn’t even seem close to appropriate. Wow, you have a tough job and you do it seamlessly. Without you, no other environment would function and thrive.

I know you hear how much you are appreciated from those in leadership. It’s one way I’ve rationalized not writing to you. I’m just a face among many. There are thousands just like me. Unfortunately, we avoid writing letters like this one because of fear. The fear that I will leave someone or something out. The fear of not saying what I really feel…of not being able to wrap words around the impact you have had and continue to have on the lives of those you don’t even know. The next few sentences sum up the essence of this letter.

You need to know that, because of you, my life is better. My children are better. My family is better. Don’t you see, your commitment to show up week after week is changing the world outside our door. It’s enriching lives and encouraging families towards each other instead of away. What you’re doing is being the change that most only talk about and rarely do. You are leading by example and because of that, people are being reached in ways that would not have been possible were it not for your decision to serve.

Evermore thank you. From the depths of my heart….I am truly grateful.

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A Letter to our Troops

Dear Service Hero,

Thank you! It hardly seems enough. A simple “thank you” isn’t enough, but it’s what I have to bring to you in this moment.

I could lie and say that I know how you feel, but I don’t. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re feeling so far from home and in the midst of such uncertainty. I’m sorry that I do not appreciate you more. I’m sorry that it takes a letter writing initiative to cause me to pause long enough to recognize that my freedom isn’t free at all. Please forgive me when I take for granted all of the luxuries I am afforded because of your sacrifice. I am so blessed because of you and the work you do everyday.

As I put pen to paper (or finger to keys), in an effort to offer my sincere thanks, my heart swells with gratitude. Thank you. Thank you. A thousand times, Thank you. For protecting the life of a girl like me who has done absolutely nothing to deserve it. I am overcome with thanksgiving.

I pray that God’s hand will be upon you. That he will guide your steps and bring you home, safely and quickly. May the Lord bless you and keep you, my brave friend. May he make his face shine upon you and grant you peace, evermore.

Love and Light,

 
Just as James Freeman prayed this for all soldiers in World War II, I pray this for you.
This is my second year participating in The Bert Show‘s Big Thank You! They make it really easy by giving step by step instructions on letter format, drop-off locations and deadline. Last year I wrote letters because I felt it was the “right” thing to do. This year, as I began writing, it was different. I connected to the person who would be reading my words. I saw them as a human being who was far from home and missing their family. It made all the difference in the world.

It also made me realize that there is really no excuse for not appreciating the men and women sacrificing every detail of their lives for us. The Bert Show thought of everything and removes all excuses. Though the deadline for letters has come and gone, I would encourage you to sit down and write a letter or several letters to a service member.

If any of you reading are in the service or have ever been in the service, this post was written for you. Thank you.

For those of you who would like one, here is the PDF version of the prayer: Prayer for Protection