Live like you were dying

I remember once being asked the question,”Would you like to know when and how you will die?” It’s one of those questions that I think most people would say “No!” to, but I didn’t answer immediately. You have to ponder whether knowing that you have x number of years to live would change anything about the way you are living now, but then there’s the flip side of knowing too much about your future, potentially resigning oneself to the outcome, or denying the notion that this sort of thing is predestined thereby removing a sense of control or choice in one’s life.

This past Sunday, a pastor challenged our congregation to consider this; what if you were told today you had 7 days til you died or Jesus returned? What would you change or stop doing? He said every person he asked all acknowledged they would sift through the junk and cut out the things that were distracting them from what was important. It definitely makes you think about the frivolous things we waste our time on.  I’m pretty sure my smartphone won’t be there as I near the end saying, “I’m happy for all the time we spent together”! 

In his song Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw tells the story of a 40 something man who went to the doctor and was told his days were numbered. He poignantly asked the man the very question the pastor posed to us about how he’d live differently. The man mentions several bucket list items and then sings “And I loved deeper, And I spoke sweeter, And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying…And he said “Someday I hope you get the chance To live like you were dying.”

Isn’t it unfortunate that this man needed to be given a diagnosis to decide to do this? I’ve got to ask you, if you think you’ve got an unlimited number of days to finally get around to doing what is important, would a week be long enough to make things right in your life?

Mortality is one of life’s “givens”. Existentially, most people struggle with the idea that one day we’re all going to die.  It’s the reason some people live in fear and attempt to fabricate a very “safe” life they hope will result in living to a ripe old age, but upon arriving having to consider how much they actually lived.

img_8546

As a maturing Christian, I’m just started to embrace the idea that rather than fearing death, I need to ensure that I’m ready to go should my time come, even if it’s today or tomorrow.

img_8538-1

I saw this feather floating through the air and when it landed at my feet, I had a “Forrest Gump moment”.  If you’ve seen the movie, it begins and ends with a feather floating through the air, and for me it kind of reminded me of the circle of life.  Since I have a toddler at home, but also a teenager and a tween, there are a lot of “aha moments” as of late. I think for a while when my two older kids were younger it seemed like they’d be that way forever.  Fast forward to them talking about puberty and where they are growing body hair, the fact they are taller than me,and that I’m shopping for their clothes in the Men’s section of the store. I look at their baby sister and I can’t even imagine her being a teenager but I know it will come all too soon.

 Besides that, there have been several events this year that have really resonated with me; the mass shootings in Vegas and recently at a church in Texas, a family from my church who were headed out of town for vacation when they were in a terrible car crash resulting in all 4 of them being seriously injured, and a friend of mine’s Uncle passing away with no will and the ramifications that left for the family he left behind.

Not everyone gets a chance to sit on their deathbed and reminisce or regret the life they’ve led. Not everyone gets to tell their loved ones goodbye before they pass away, either. This year I’m wildly aware when I leave my family, they need to know that if for some reason I don’t make it back to them alive that they feel loved and they can go on knowing one day they will see me again.  I’m also not waiting to have those important conversations with them and having them now. My 11 year old and I decided to start doing devotionals together at bedtime. It’s a great way to connect and something we both look forward to. I definitely plan on adding more meaningful activities in, and clearing out the junk, so my family can see the things that really matter! 

Every year I have a “word” the Lord impresses on me and this year it’s been “legacy”. Read more about legacy and the meaning of my blog tRUTHful, here: tRUTHful Inspiration

Title song inspiration Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying

Not my Mama’s broken heart

Disclaimer: this blog is not about my “Mama”. “Mama” is referring to a generation of women.

Miranda Lambert’s song compares her reaction to a broken heart with that of her mother’s.  Recently, with the astounding number of “Me too’s” that I saw and am still seeing on my Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but think about this concept.  So as the song goes, Mama is telling her daughter how she “should” act in response to something that has left her emotionally charged.  It really struck a chord with me, and I tied the two together when I read a quote from Reese Witherspoon, from her introduction speech at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event. She acknowledged that she had been sexually assaulted more than once, and then said this, “For the young women sitting in the room, life is going to be different for you because we have you, we have your back. And that makes me feel better because, Gosh, its about time.”

It got me thinking about how on the surface maybe “Mama” might appear to be able to keep it together when everything falls apart, sitting there looking demur with a powdered nose, crossed legs and her mouth closed, but where did that get Mama?  “Mama” is the voice of “just sweep it under the rug and don’t talk about it”. Say what you will about the way female expression has changed, but women just took a HUGE STEP towards finally getting the respect that we saw Jesus identify way back in biblical times!  How sad also that the Bible outlines the way women should be cherished by men but generations of women have felt like they had to put up with it or fear the consequences.

Anyway, I had a sad moment or two recalling the times that I have experienced sexual assault or harassment.  So many women are talking about assault experiences they were never able to tell anyone about! All the trauma and secrets are coming out and its sad but at the same time I know its providing so much healing.  Not only that but women are coming together to make a commitment to change things.  I challenge those of you who fall into the “Mama” category mentioned in this song, that its not too late.  As long as you’ve got breath in your lungs then we can change and encourage women to definitely speak out when they’ve been taken advantage of, teach them its not something to be ashamed of, that men don’t have the right to  treat women without dignity and that rape culture IS a thing.  If you’re not familiar with what rape culture is, its an environment where sexual violence against women is prevalent and its normalized and excused by the media or pop culture.  A common example of this would be the objectifying of women’s bodies, using mysoginistic  language and glamorizing sexual violence.  Maybe “Mama”can recognize that its wrong and its been going on for far too many generations.  I don’t even blame “Mama” for being that way, I’m sure her “Mama” must have taught her the same thing.  Meanwhile I feel like it has allowed some men to take advantage of women – and get away with it. When I think about my daughter and what I’ll teach her, one thing is certain, I hope to share a legacy that endures through ALL generations!

7ACF2D5D-9453-4011-9764-8968B92B029F

The Inspiration: Miranda Lambert- Mama’s Broken Heart

I will remember you…

Legacy.  I’m not sure I thought about what this word truly means when I was young.  I’ve always been kind of an old soul so I’m not sure how it didn’t at some point smack me in the face.  Well, there comes a time in everyone’s life I think where you must face the cold hard truth.  And for me it was a few months after I had my baby girl.

Even still, the full magnitude of the word Legacy didn’t do that whole SMACK ME IN THE FACE thing until the news of the Las Vegas shooting sent our country reeling.  When 9/11 happened, I did not yet have children of my own.  I never dreamed there would be another national tragedy that would change the very way that I look at the future and the world my children and grandchildren will live in.

After a whole lot of tears and shaking my head with disbelief, processing through anger that such a senseless crime affected so many innocent lives, I began to think about my own family. I thought about things like “Wow, what if I had gone to that concert and gotten shot, what would I have to leave behind for my children?” That makes sense, because we all want to leave our children better off when we leave this world. It’s such a heartbreaking thought that so many of those affected now have such a tragic piece to their family’s legacy.

Jason Aldean spoke about his pregnant wife and how he’s distressed about the world his children will grow up in.  I have to say that is why now more than ever LEGACY isn’t just a word to think about, it’s an idea to ponder.

Before I decided to devote my life to being a Christian I had a whole different take on legacy.  Exactly that, what money will I leave for my kids, maybe property and the story of their heritage? But now I realize legacy is so much deeper than that!  In these times, especially I want my legacy to be one of love, not hate.  I want my children to be able to live in a land where they don’t fear going outside or to special events.  If people just keep getting consumed with hate, we are not moving in the right direction. We have come too far to give up on the truth we know the Bible tells us.  LOVE WINS! It’s a little hard to believe when you watch the news, where all they do is report the negative and bad things that are happening in the world.  Sure, they mix in a little hope here and there but honestly its the reason I prefer not to watch the news.

I truly believe that evil is a force in this world that is very strong.  But there is One who is stronger and He is our Lord and Savior.  More than ever I am standing firm that if ANYTHING can conquer all, its God that can.  When it’s nearly impossible to find peace in the headlines or the words coming from the mouths of those around us, there is One undeniable place that we can go.   This is the legacy I want to share with my children and grandchildren, and I don’t want to just stop with my immediate family, because we are all in the family of God.

Recently I saw a post from a celebrity girl, Sadie Robertson, that was calling other girls to not be afraid to bring their Bibles to school. I thought it was cute that she even challenged them to coordinate their Bible with their outfit.  You can say what you want to about whether a Bible belongs in school or not but, I would love it if this idea would go viral.  Maybe one girl would see another girl with a “cute book that matches her outfit” and maybe she might like the confidence and kindness and peace she sees in the girl who caries it.  And maybe she might go and buy herself a cute Bible just because suddenly it’s the thing to do.  And just maybe one day she might sit and open that Bible and view it not as a fashion accessory but as a source of peace and truth for her as well.

I heard some backlash on this where people were saying what if she gets discriminated against for carrying a Bible.  If my daughter came to me and told me that other kids were picking on her because she carried a Bible, I think I would say two things.  The same thing any parent would say about any other issue;  You stand up for what you believe in.  And this.  There are some things that are worth fighting for.  I’m not talking about fist fighting or exchange of words here.  I’m talking about how from the very beginning followers of Christ did not have an easy path.  There were so many persecuted for their beliefs.  Even Peter denied he knew Christ because of fear.  There are places in the world where choosing to be a Christian is life threatening.  I think the beauty of it for me is that I know where I’m going, if I die young or I die old. I think of it this way: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭NIV

So, if we look back at our legacy, it really starts there with a few people who believed and spread the word to others.  Look at what that legacy has become!  I am so blessed to have experienced the amazing Love and Grace of Jesus Christ.  Its so undeniable that I’d love to share how much my life and me personally have changed just by knowing Him.

As always I must give credit where credit is due for my blog title. In her words “You gave me everything you had, Ooh you gave me life.” WHAT A LEGACY!         Sarah Maclachlan – I Will Remember You

Speaking of Legacy, perhaps you’re curious about Ruth, the inspirational woman who’s name is cleverly imbedded in my title tRUTHful online. Read more about that inspiration and legacy here: Inspiration

Nothing Else Matters

So, if you’re like me you maybe spent longer than you’d like to admit trying to fit into someone else’s image of what beautiful is.  Or maybe every time you looked in the mirror you saw something different from what was actually there, because of what you thought society’s expectations were. Or maybe it wasn’t that obvious but you just felt inferior and couldn’t put a finger on why.

The realization that so many of my life’s strivings, so many of the things I anguished over and spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money and time on, don’t even matter.  I wish I  could go on a tour around the country and somehow reach (mostly) young girls who are already being unconsciously conditioned to think their looks define them.  If it wouldn’t be scary as all get out, I’d like to go up to each of them and tell them “Don’t spend your life comparing yourself to those figures you see on the TV screen and in magazines.  In the end, looks don’t matter!”  Maybe I feel that way because I wish someone would have done that for me.

If you understand what it means to be authentic, you know that it goes much deeper than what you see in the mirror.  However the superficial mask that I wore started with my self-image.  You see, somehow I got the idea that one of the worst things I could be would be to be ugly or over-weight.  It was an idea that was reinforced in my environment and consequently I found myself staring into a mirror and hating any fat I saw on my body.  I grew up in an era where fat was “out” from super models like Kate Moss, to Diet Coke and Rice Cakes!  Being a short girl and a late bloomer at that, I rarely remember looking in the mirror and ever being satisfied with what I saw.

I remember I dated a guy who was pretty open about the fact that the reason he looked at magazines like Penthouse or Playboy was because “I’ll never have a chance to be with a woman LIKE THAT.”  I wish I would have been raised to have enough self-esteem or self-worth to be able to hear a comment like that and not compare myself to the subject and come back with the understanding that I was less than.  But I did.  When I look back now at pictures of me when I was younger, I can now see a beautiful young woman, but at the time I was just trying to be something “better” or “more”, and of course a lot of it came down to being that way so that I could please others, not myself.

I never understood the concept of worth.  I didn’t have anyone sit me down and tell me that worth is far more than what you see when you look in the mirror. I remember styling my hair or choosing clothes to please people I was with.  I am so happy now when I hear people saying things like “I really want to get an undercut and fade cut in my hair but ‘Im afraid so and so wont like it” and the response is “But you would like it, right? Then who cares what so and so thinks anyway because its your hair”.  I mean if “so and so” doesn’t like you because you shave off part of your hair, then they clearly don’t like you for the right reasons.  Imagine if all your hair just fell out, would you be able to know without a doubt that that person would be right there beside you and going with you to your Drs appointments, even if you were cranky and in a bad mood and not any fun to be around?

Because at the end of the day THAT IS WHAT MATTERS. Those people that compare you to the airbrushed photos they see or tell you that wearing makeup is “false advertising” or who call you names, maybe even bully you for being different than what they have been conditioned to desire – those people aren’t going to define you.  Their cruel words or behavior do however define THEM. Why would you want to bend over backwards to please someone who would probably never treat you the way you deserve to be treated even if you somehow did fit their mold of perfection?  Because you don’t deserve that kind of conditional love.  You are beautiful exactly the way God created you, you are worthy and you deserve to be loved just like you are!

So, Moms especially, if you have boys, hear this.  Its our job to teach boys that women are not just beautiful when they are airbrushed and Photoshopped.  Start talking to boys about the true meaning of beauty.  See that expectant mom due any day standing in line at the supermarket? She’s beautiful.  The matriarch out for a walk on a cool morning   with laugh lines and a glimmer in her eye that can only come from wisdom and living a full life: she’s beautiful.   Maybe I’m doing something right because when my 11-year-old sees me applying makeup he tells me I’m wasting my time because I don’t need it, and I’m beautiful without it. Love that kid!

But don’t stop there! As women we have the unique ability to teach what beauty is in a more subtle way, by showing others that we love ourselves.  If you are critiquing your figure or hair in front of your daughter, she may decide to do the same thing to herself.  But if you say ” I feel so amazingly beautiful today’ (and do it when you are wearing yoga pants with your hair in a pony tail as often as when you are dressed up and have makeup on), then she will learn that beauty is not defined by what you are wearing or the size you fit into.  Try VERY VERY hard to not teach a girl her worth is in her beauty.  Society is already teaching her that.  It taught you that.  Why else would you be spending all that money on face cream and makeup primer? As a girl her first compliment will likely be “You’re so pretty” or “Your dress is so pretty”.  Start to point out to her the things that make her beautiful that don’t depend on her looks.

IMG_8015

It is said: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬ http://bible.com/111/1pe.3.3-4.niv

As much as I’d like to protect my daughter from the world that thinks differently, I know the best thing I can do is teach her that she is “Not of This World” and do my best to surround her and point her towards other woman and people who are like-minded.

So, in tRUTHful style, I have found a way to weave the words of a song into a message I hope you will consider the next time you look in the mirror.  “So close, no matter how far, couldn’t be much more from the heart, forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters!” You are a beautiful child of God.  God is right there with you, no matter how far away He may seem at times; trust that you are His masterpiece and perfect EXACTLY the way you are! NOTHING.ELSE.MATTERS!

Listen here: Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

 

 

 

 

 

You Give Love A Bad Name

Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, You give love a bad name (bad name)…
When I listen to that song I can just feel his anger, and that brings to mind a parallel idea. It’s become very obvious to me that as soon as many people hear the word “Christian” their reaction is one of disgust, anger, maybe even fear or hurt. Damaged by the church and now completely resistant to ANY Christians because of what some people did in the name of Jesus. Begin to mention your spirituality and they respond,”Nope, I know the likes of you and I’m not interested”.
So sad that this has all happened in what was supposed to be the name of Love!
     The Free dictionary defines Christian as an adjective: Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus, especially in showing concern for others.
There’s also a definition that describes a Christian as: One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus. 
Jesus had a lot of teachings but I think the most basic is this:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
‭‭John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬ http://bible.com/111/jhn.13.34-35.niv
IMG_7794
photo credit Alexandria Bouillon http://alexandriabouillon.zenfolio.com/
But what if they can’t tell because they aren’t getting “LOVE” from you?  Can you blame them for not wanting to hear what you have to say?
     I overheard a conversation where two people were talking about how the world is so much worse now and how we are clearly in a bad time to be living. I was sitting there thinking that I am excited about the moves many people are making to love everyone regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or political philosophy.
Isn’t that what Jesus said to do?!?
If we really want to represent Christianity to others, we aren’t going to be successful by coming up with a long list of rules and judgementally wagging our fingers when we see people doing things that are different.
     It’s cliché now and people may laugh when they hear it, but I still like the adage “WWJD:What Would Jesus Do?”
 I mean, Jesus mixed with all sorts of people, shunned no one, welcomed everyone, labored tirelessly, and made the ultimate sacrifice. What a cool dude!
So, what’s wrong with displaying kindness, tolerance, and grace to others?
If anyone judges you for loving others that is their issue, NOT yours.
I mean, it’s not a club.  WE don’t get to decide who is worthy of salvation based on what WE think is right or wrong.  And representing Christianity that way makes it sound exclusive when its meant to be ALL INCLUSIVE!
     The great thing I think about being a follower of Christ for me is that gives me the freedom to love others without judging them. Why? Because it simply isn’t my job. Nope. And I recall a great quote by one of the greatest women to ever walk out Christianity, Mother Theresa, when she said,”If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
I find this to be a very freeing concept.
What a great legacy to live and teach my children. I can think of no better compliment than if on my gravestone the words “Known for love” Were inscribed.
     If you want to look at it from a psychological standpoint, lets explore the idea of unconditional positive regard. What it means is that you respect the person as a human being and give them the same kind of dignity you would like to receive. Basically assuming that everyone you meet is likely fighting some sort of battle and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can with what they have. What most people want from us is just to be heard and understood.  They are probably dealing with their own internal thoughts and what they probably need more than anything is a smile. Not a solution such as “You need Jesus”  (interpreted as judgement) or a solution to their problem.
 As Christians, we are told “Love your neighbor”. And who is your neighbor?
EVERYONE is your neighbor.
     Being a Christian holds me to a higher standard than just liking people who are like me; that’s easy and anyone can do that. Personally, I find it enlightening when I take the time to look at something from a perspective different from my own, and gaining new understanding helps me to apply the concept of appreciating everyone, even if they do not think like I do. Finally I know my “job” as a Christian is to love others, and I leave the rest up to God.  I challenge you to do the same.
And because I know the song that inspired my title will put you in a good mood, check it out here: Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name
Photo Credit: Love One Another by Alexandria Bouillion http://alexandriabouillon.zenfolio.com/

I can see clearly now

Something that I never thought to do when I was younger was take some time to get out there and figure out who I was.  The reason why I never thought to do it is because I was so busy trying to be someone I thought I had to be; and that was an image of perfection that did not allow me the freedom to take time to make mistakes, explore different avenues, and decide which worldview I actually identified with. I think because it had been impressed in me that there was only one right way, and if I did not go that way, then I was wrong. Now, I am not blaming anyone for this.  I just was not exposed to the idea that it’s a lot better to find yourself before you go out chasing things: like relationships, in particular.

Like many others I have met, I was the type of person that had to fill my life up with so much stuff to do that I really did not have time to truly process many things that I really needed to deal with.  Now I know that was a defense that I had to protect myself from things that I thought were too painful to process.  I feel like a lot of other people out there very innocently felt, as I did, that if something bothers you or you don’t like it, you should avoid it.  I was a shy child and I did not get involved in lots of activities that involved social opportunities, for example, and I was not encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone so I could grow in this area.  I really regret not choosing more opportunities like this before my brain pruned all those pathways.

So, I just kept going and going and going continually filling all my waking hours with stuff and things to do.  I kept up this frantic pace for over 20 years, all the while not letting others in who perhaps wanted to help me, and basically feeling like I had to be in control of every aspect of my life.  This approach was taking its toll, all the while I was in complete denial that it was going on.  I had no idea how I looked to other people.  Then one day at work, a co-worker came up to me and said “I know you are going to think this is really weird, but God told me to give you this book.”  The book was a book about the Life of Mother Teresa.

image1(7)

Now, I knew who Mother Teresa was, kinda.  But I didn’t really know much about her or why someone would be giving me a book.  I took it home and looked at it and discovered that she was someone with a whole different way of looking at people than I had really ever experienced.  She said simple things that were somehow very profound. Things like:

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, than feed just one.”

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”

She also talked about simple things like faith and trust.  Mind you prior to receiving this book, I had not exactly been on a path looking for salvation.  I suppose I felt like I believed in God and that was enough, even though the life I was living really did not reflect any of that. After my son was diagnosed with Autism I really felt like God must be punishing me or that I wasnt worthy, and that was the last straw for me pursuing my faith.

I’d like to say I got the book from my coworker and then “Ahhhhh” I saw the light and my life moved in a new direction. Basically it spoke to me that I must look pretty pathetic for someone I barely knew at the time to walk up to me and do that.   Actually, it took over 2 more years of this same coworker  constantly walking beside me and feeding into me before things really started to sink in.  What can I say, I am hard-headed! I warmed up to the idea that there might be something to this whole Love thing Mother Teresa  talked about but I was still trying to do it my way.

Then one day I walked in to work and we all discovered we were getting laid off.  It was if God was saying “Oh, you don’t want to be still?  Well here, I am going to give you that opportunity”.  And just like that I suddenly had time.  The next 3 years, even though I was pursuing my Masters in Counseling, I had considerably more time to think and just be.  I examined myself from angles Id never even considered before, and re-evaluated who I am, where I’m going and how my behavior affects others.

The result is so striking its like I am not even the same person anymore. Its like I stepped into a clearing and suddenly things are crystal clear.  I listen to songs that used to speak to me and I just think “Wow, I can cross that one off the soundtrack of my life now”! Kind of surreal, really, like I should be singing this song :I can see clearly now – Johnny Nash

Here’s what I discovered.  I needed time to discover who I am.  I spent over 20 years trying to fit myself into a mold that either did not fit, or denying the truth or things about me that made me who I am, because I either thought they were inferior or because I was in denial that they defined me.  I was totally freaked out when I lost all control of the ability to keep that charade going.  I found PEACE when I decided to let go and do the necessary work involved to become authentic.  The peace I found involved me surrendering my role of playing God in my own life and required me to trust that I was incapable of doing many things myself but with God I can do anything.

I will definitely strive to teach my children to do this much earlier in life than I did!  As they say, Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). The back story of this blog is all about TRUTH! Read about it here: tRUTHful Inspiration

 

 

Give me something to believe in

Recently I was told that Christians are weak and that’s why they need religion.  ABSOLUTELY!  I think I was supposed to be offended by the comment, but I found it very relatable.  I could totally relate to this perspective because of a song I listened to frequently in my angry youth days from the album Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette.  The song is called Forgiven.  If you havent heard  it, its amazing and you can find it here: Alanis Morissette Forgiven – Jagged Little Pearl

The lyrics I’m referring to are: “We all had our reasons to be there, We all had a thing or two to learn, we all needed something to cling to, so we did.”

You know, I realize not everyone participates in worshipping a religion, but I feel like especially in our culture, there are many idols that are worshipped  or things that people hold onto because they need strength.  And I’m not here to pass judgement.  I am just sooo grateful that I stumbled upon the community of believers that I did who recognize that people have TOTALLY been wounded by the church (as Alanis implies in her song) and that’s probably the number one reason why people turn away from it.  Some never come back.  People like me took a 20 year hiatus ( you can read about why here: Burnt Buttermilk Biscuit) But the community I belong to does not see a problem with weakness.  There is no expectation that after you attend for a while you will be transformed into someone who doesn’t sin.

On the contrary, they are a group of “meet me where I am” Christians who will walk with me through my valleys and hills as long as necessary.

To be honest I didn’t believe that people like this really existed. I was accustomed to feeling like nothing I could do was good enough and there was a long list of things keeping me from getting into Heaven. Then one day I took a chance, went to a service and heard this song: Mandisa – Not Guilty . I remember sitting there with goosebumps thinking “What?! Why haven’t I heard this perspective? People want to love me even if I’m so flawed? They aren’t just gonna tell me I’m going to Hell and I need Jesus?!”

And let me tell you, when I showed up on the scene, I was one hot mess! But, I grew up not having been taught that it was ok to show weakness.  Serving in the military probably did not help with that concept either. I thought like so many people do, that no-one would like me if they knew all my flaws.

I am very thankful for other people I’ve met in my life who called me out on my BS.  One such friend told me straight up that talking about myself like I had no weakness made me sound like a total snob.  OUCH!  But I needed to hear that. A manager took me aside and told me if I wanted a promotion I needed to be seen as someone who was not so ominous!  Let me tell you that really slapped me in the face too!  But you know what, I had a thick shield built all around me at that point in my life.  I can totally see how that could make me look ominous!

Ideas like that set me down the road to discovering myself, getting out of denial and being VULNERABLE!

If I hadn’t gotten laid off in 2014 and decided to pursue my calling (to be a counselor) I never would have done the work it takes to truly understand just what it means to be vulnerable.  In my program I repeatedly had to put myself under a microscope and not only list my flaws, but explain the conceptualization for them and how they affect me and others.  Hands down BEST thing I ever had to do.  Some people would just call this taking a personal inventory.  I feel like this is so important because it’s not very likely that I could begin to feel safe being vulnerable if I did not have an awareness of who I am.

When I think about how long it took me to get to this stage in my life, I just want to scream it from the rooftops to younger women out there to do the hard work it takes to discover who you are, including your weaknesses.  It’s ironic that God used some of the very things I thought were my weaknesses to help me discover who I really am!

IMG_7264

 

Taste and See

I was shopping at Mardel the other day. It’s typically a place I go to for some much needed solitude in my chaotic life. It’s like when I walk in the door I just feel peace. I can almost hear the “Ahhhh” resonate within me as I enter. And oddly enough I often hear a song over the loud speakers in there that feels like a direct connection to Heaven; it’s kind of surreal when that happens! During a difficult period of my life after my divorce, the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United (check it out here: https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw ) would play at just the right time, not just at Mardel, but on the radio and when I visited a church over a thousand miles from my home!  I figured God was trying to tell me something, and it turns out he was! I got through that rough patch in my life not by my own strength, but by persistently holding on to my Faith.

Anyway, when I walked in yesterday I realize the store was under renovation and it wasn’t the usual quiet place I go to for solitude. Jack hammers and pounding replaced the usual calm atmosphere. The total layout of the store seemed to have changed also. How strange that even amidst all that construction noise I still begin to feel the same feeling of peace that I treasure when I go there!
So I was looking around trying to find gifts to put in my daughter’s time capsule for her first birthday, thinking about things that when she is 18 years old will speak to her about her future.
I really got very introspective about the woman that she will become and how I’m going to help her develop her spirituality and identity as a woman.
I thought about the innocence of a child and how adults expose children to faith.
Then, I thought about my own experiences with learning what religion was all about.
Then I saw it….

taste

The entire verse of Psalm 34:8 reads: Taste and See that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him (NIV).

When I saw this bag I thought “how perfect?!” I mean, isn’t that exactly what we do? We give our kids a taste of what religion is. Depending on how we present it to them, that taste can be sweet, sour maybe even bitter depending on the flavor we add. I mean, will they even want to taste it if it’s presented to them in such a way? Or are we figuratively or literally cramming it down their throats while screaming “Do as I say but not as I do?”Maybe, just maybe it can be something they savor and want to taste again and again and achieve what this verse suggests, taking refuge in the kingdom of God because we know its going to be soooo good!

spices

If you are just joining my blog, here’s the back story. tRUTHful is a blog inspired by the biblical character Ruth, being one of only 2 woman who have books named after them in the old testament.  My desire is to inspire and connect with other people interested in cultivating authenticity and character by the way we lead our lives.

Poker Face?

I’m SO not a morning person but this week ‘Im taking my kids to vacation Bible school, so I’m getting up much earlier than I normally do and you know what? Although I don’t think I’ll ever be a morning person, there’s something kind of refreshing about the cool morning air; you can still have your windows down when you’re driving since it’s not hot yet. It took me back to the years I lived on the beach in Florida when I was stationed there. There’s something about driving with the windows down feeling the wind in your hair that just makes you feel alive! It reminds me that I’m not just in survival mode, God put me here to enjoy life. I can hear the birds tweeting. I actually got to stop and get a cup of coffee alone which was nice.
Well, this morning I was driving around a town I used to live in, but no longer do because I moved to my hubbie’s hometown.With the windows down and the music flowing, no kids in the car so I wasnt limited to my usual “kid appropriate” group of songs I’ve heard a million times. You know, the ones I find myself singing even when my kids AREN’T around. Gotta love having “The wheels of the bus go round and round” stuck in your head!

So, on my random playlist the song Poker Face by Lady Gaga came on. That’s a song that took me back to being divorced and all the rawness of it just came back, being in this place I knew so well and a place that represents my singleness and overcoming of many of my personal issues; a place where I found myself.

I got to thinking about how I SO DON’T have a poker face. I mean, I can’t even look at my self in the mirror and keep a straight face, let alone not totally wear my heart on my sleeve, and all over my face. Apparently instead of having a poker face, I’ve got something that looks a little more like Michelle Obama’s face at the 2017 inauguration! If I feel something its going to be written all over my face. And you know, I used to really hate that about myself. I wished I could slap on the old poker face and not let things bother me. I still sometimes wish I could just let things roll off me with out them sinking in but the truth is my ability to deeply feel and connect with the people around me is really more of a gift than I once thought.

I mean, I can romance the idea of being comfortable numb, because feeling big emotions are painful.   But I’m so thankful God gave me the courage to step up to the plate and really get to play ball in life because I’m not just sitting on the bench watching the game of life play out.  Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 40ish years on this planet is that the worse think I’ve experienced is not feeling things so much, its REGRET. I’ve been bold and put myself out there and it wasn’t always appreciated or reciprocated but I didn’t regret it.
What I have regretted is not putting my self out there, not saying the thing or telling the person how I felt and they never knew and I never got a chance /:

The tRUTH is being real is being courageous. It’s being brave. It’s doing the hard things. I might not win big at poker, but I can rest assured knowing that I am being true to ME.

In case you are reading my blog for the first time, the back story is that tRUTHful is a blog about my quest for authenticity, through truth and inspired by the biblical character RUTH, whose name you see embedded in my blog title.

vegas
These are a couple of pillows I bought for my boys on a business trip I got to take to Las Vegas! 8 years later they still use them as seat cushions!

Weed ’em out

I was pulling weeds  this morning and, who knew, it is surprisingly therapeutic!  My almost 1-year-old just discovered dirt… it rained last night so I guess I should say mud. I was reminded of a time in my youth when I used to make mud pies and then take a bite, thinking it would taste delicious.  Not so much.  Apparently she concurs on the taste of dirt!  And so it begins…

I got to thinking about all those metaphors you hear about weeds and dirt and some of them are kind of cliché aren’t they? The one I’ll focus on now is feeding negativity, a major problem of mine. It’s a lot like a garden full of weeds. There may be some beautiful flowers in there but they’re hard to see because of all the weeds. Even worse those weeds start to choke out the flowers until the weeds take over and once those weeds are deeply rooted, they’re very hard to remove.

So, like a good gardener,  I took about an hour pulling up these weeds, and I thought the pile looked huge till I took a picture of it and though it looks pretty puny! Not only that, there are so many left I haven’t pulled. Isn’t that about how it is: the work we have to do sometimes is so overwhelming and such hard, hard work. Then we take a step back to see what we’ve done and it looks like almost nothing.

How do you handle the daunting task of weeding out negative thoughts?  One weed at a time!

weed pile
An hours worth of weeds,pulled one handed while attempting to keep my baby from eating dirt!
garden lol
So many more weeds to tackle!
In a protected, nurtured area we started some zinnia seeds. Zinnias must be a gardeners dream (first time trying them) because we planted them and they germinated within four days! They’re already peaking up through the dirt. So I know they are delicate and if I put them outside right now they won’t survive out here; we’ve got rabbits and all kinds of birds, bugs like grasshoppers especially that love to eat tender young plants.
zinnia
just sprouted Zinnia plants
Kind of reminds me of a situation I experienced as a young girl. Someone very close to me used to tell me all the time that I was fat and ugly and I would never have a boyfriend. So I decided desirable characteristics to gain a boyfriend must be pretty and thin. I was young and delicate and I didn’t have a great foundation of self-worth. It didn’t take much for me to succumb to this kind of bullying behavior.
So began years of starving myself to be thin even though I actually already was. And a beautiful flower has a hard time growing with no nutrients.
Oh how I wish I could go back as the woman I am today and speak to that girl that I was back then! Maybe tell her about Ruth and how she had a lot of negative things happen to her but unlike her mother in law Naomi who became bitter and even changed her name to “Mara” which means bitter,  Ruth chose to focus on the positive ones, and ended up being part of an amazing love story! The other great thing about the story of these two women is that even though Naomi must have been a hard person to be around with so much grief at the loss of her husband and both of her sons, with no grandchildren, Ruth stood by her.  She pledged her faithfulness to a woman that she could have easily left behind and went on with her life.
 The world will tell you you’re not beautiful enough you: need more curves, you need less curves, you need longer legs, bigger boobs,  you need tan skin, you need the fountain of youth…the list goes on. You may compare yourself to the women you see on t.v. and in commercials and just start hating yourself. The weeds just start growing and growing!
If you aren’t in a community of like-minded individuals, it might even feel like someone is throwing Miracle Grow on those weeds and making them grow faster and stronger.
If I can suggest one thing to you it is this, if you are feeling like Naomi, so bitter and overwhelmed with the weeds in your garden, consider finding yourself a friend like Ruth.  Someone who can build you up and be a good support system for you, and even help you pull some of those weeds!
Here’s the back story if you haven’t been following my blog, you may have noticed the name RUTH cleverly embedded in my title tRUTHful.  She is the inspiration for this and many other future conversations.