Life Is Short!

What if I told you life is short? Yeah, I can sense the eye rolls and the exasperated sighs from here.

But guess what? Life is so short!

Yesterday I attended a funeral for an eighteen year old boy. I didn’t know him well, but I knew his parents and had watched his older brother in a lot of high school plays. An auditorium with seating for probably 150 to 200 people and there was only standing room left. Some people even had to be tucked off in hallways where they definitely couldn’t hear what was being said.

At every funeral we’re reminded of a reality we’d rather forget. Death is coming for us all. At least at an old man’s funeral, we can tell ourselves it’s so far away. Standing in the back with my four small children, I couldn’t help but wonder. How long do I really get them? We take it for granted that they will grow up and leave home. That we’ll watch them start a life of their own. I’m not saying spend everyday thinking they could die tomorrow, even though it’s a harsh reality.

What am I saying? Life is short! Don’t just live your life that way, teach your children to do the same. You don’t have to be morbid about it. Sure, my children and I talk about death and how quickly life will pass by often. And people think we’re crazy. I want my kids to see that they don’t have to wait until their adults to truly start living a life that has an impact. I want them to be that person who loves on those around them now. Who prays for that person who is hurting. A person like Cody Scott, who by the age of eighteen had made an incredible impact in his family, church, and school!

To the Mom on the Outside

Happy Mother’s Day, Everyone!!!

This post has been marinating for a couple of weeks, so I’m hoping that means it’s a good one!

How many of you have felt like you’re on the outside looking in? How many of you just literally raised your hands?? You’re my kind of people!!

It’s hard being on the outside. I’m a very extroverted person, so I really don’t feel like I’m on the outside that much, but when I do it’s overwhelming. Just a short while ago I was in a situation that I felt on the outside of a strong clique for many days in a row. I finally broke down a few days in, and literally found myself crying quietly in a secret place. Well, not extremely secret because my husband found me.

It’s so lonely on the outside, and that feeling is only aggravated when you try harder to get on the inside. But what is really happening? Is being on the outside my fault? Am I to blame when a group of people don’t fully accept me?

If you don’t hear a resounding, No, in your mind then this post is for you.

The past couple of days I have been in “Christian boot camp” we’ve jokingly termed it. We wake up and get started at 9am and go,go,go until 11pm, or later. I was worried about coming alone. You see it’s in Denver, Colorado, which is a big city, obviously, and I’m a small town girl. The crowds and traffic terrify me a bit. Also I have been to conferences alone before, and usually you just feel out of the loop since you don’t have your own “tribe” with you.

This time was completely different! The first night was a little awkward, but the lady in front of me and started talking about our lives and where we came from and why. Then the next day I met Deanna and very quickly we felt like sisters. The lady and her husband behind me kept asking to hold my infant son for me. The woman and her husband in front had a word for me and I was able to pray for healing for him. Even driving through the parking lot there’s so much peace it didn’t matter that I had to go further and further out. The overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by family made me happy that I could make a small sacrifice so others could get inside quicker.

I’m probably sounding like a maniac to some of you, but what I’m trying to get at is this. In Gods Kingdom no one is on the outside! We’re all family! We are made to love on each other!

So I hope that everyday I can make people around me feel like those “strangers” at this conference made me feel. Like a valuable part of an ever expanding family! We even all burst into tears when the blind man behind us was completely healed! I’m in tears now. I probably won’t see that man again until heaven and I couldn’t tell you his name! But he’s my brother, and I rejoice with him! Nobody should ever feel outside of the loop, just as much as you couldn’t make your hand or foot feel like it’s not an important part of your body!! If you’ve never read Corinthians, the correlation won’t make much sense to you, sorry. Just go look it up.

The Secret to Friendship???

This thought has been bouncing around in my frazzled brain for a while. And it’s something that I have always wondered. Maybe, I’ve actually expressed it to a few people, but I doubt I really got across how often it bothers me. Maybe you’ve had it, too.

Remember a time that you are sitting across from a friend, or maybe you’re getting back in your car after hanging out with them for a few hours, and this thought crosses your mind, “Why are they friends with me?”

I’m one of those people that pursue and chase down friendships. It comes from years of moving constantly in a military family. It boggles my mind when I hear people complain that they haven’t made any friends after living somewhere for any amount of time. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Now knowing this about myself, I do often wonder if my friends are simply friends because I gave them no other choice. I know this isn’t 100% true, and I’m not writing this so all of my close friends who actually read my blog will come and assure me of their affection.

I’m writing this for those others out there like me, who wonder constantly if people really do like them, or if they simply put up with them. I know there are so many times I annoy myself, so why wouldn’t I be annoying to people around me? I’m forgetful and spacey, I often forget to think through what I’m about to say. I know I come across as ignorant and (forgive the stereotype) blonde, on a semi-regular basis.

My only redeeming trait, is love. If you are my friend or close acquaintance even, I will love the heck out of you. I might not hit your love language. But I will do my dead level best to remember what you like and don’t like. Know when your birthday is (though I may not send a card, because I despise them). I’ll know your children’s birthdays, your anniversary. Have on hand a couple fun memories we’ve shared, and a mental slideshow of my favorite moments with you and times you’ve made me literally Laugh Out Loud.

Are people willing to put up with annoying personality quirks and weirdness, just to be loved?

In my experience? YES!

To put in my own words a famous quote from the wisest man who ever lived: If you want friends, first you have to BE a friend. Love them!

What Will You Choose?

A very powerful question was asked the other day? “What do you choose today, right now, and forever?”

Did you know you have the right to choose? For the longest time I thought my identity was made up of how I looked or what talents I possessed or what I could offer others. But lately, I’ve been learning that my identity is none of those things.

My identity is what I choose to be. I choose to be strong! So strength is my identity! I choose to be confident! So confidence is my identity! I can choose my identity!

In this culture of choosing to “identify as” something you were not created to be, I sometimes wonder if we think it’s easier to choose something way off base, because if we fail there’s always the fall back of “well, at least I tried” and “its better to try and fail than to never try at all.” And people oooh and aaah and say “How Brave!”

Truly, I believe its more brave to choose an identity that is already built into our very souls. No body gets recognition for that, anymore. The only person raving about an amazing, strong stay at home mom is her children (if that). She will not make it into the newspaper or draw a large amount of followers on social media. Its much easier and more tangible to choose an identity of “mommy blogger” than it is to choose the identity of “strong.” Why? Because there is a measurement of success with blogging. There is a measure of success with a career. Are those things bad? No!! Of course not!

You know what successes are hard to measure? What identities are hard to know if you are fulfilling?

Being mentally and emotionally strong. Being a good person. Being a good parent. Being a good role model. These are things you don’t know if you’re succeeding while you are building them. Its only after that identity has been formed completely that you see the marks of success.

But when you know your identity, you will know what to do!

So whenever there is a proverbial “fork in the road,” look to your identity.

The latest part of my identity that I have been building upon is being “an encourager.” So when something comes up I can ask myself, “What can I do to encourage?” Just like Rome, an identity isn’t built in a day. Work every day into an identity that you are proud of. I know I’m proud of my Identity!

What is your Identity? Or in other words, What will you choose today?

Hey, It’s Okay!

After my first baby I had an elongated case of postpartum depression. It lasted for 11 months.

While clinical depression is mostly a chemical imbalance, I believe circumstances surrounding my beautiful boy’s birth contributed to starting the imbalance and going back on hormonal birth control right away (due to my fear of becoming pregnant again) only made it worse and harder to recover from.

The “whys” of it all I might go into some other time, but this post I just want to reach out to anyone else struggling. I knew something was wrong! I could tell I wasn’t myself! I’m normally a very social person and I found myself dreading going to a close friend’s New Year’s Eve party.

Yet, I waited to tell my doctor until my son was 3 months old. I told one friend and received a very negative reaction. I was terrified to tell anyone else, until, Praise the Lord, I casually mentioned it to my Sister-in-Law who was extremely supportive!

I just read an article about baby blues that mentioned having a mantra to help yourself through and focus your mind. That one piece of advice brought back all the memories!

My mantra was a song I heard on a TED talk. The words went like this “Hey, you’re okay…you’re just fine…just breath!”

I would sing it as I rocked my crying baby. I would sing it in the shower when the emotions I felt were as overwhelming as the water shooting out of the faucet.

I don’t want to make this about me. I want to shout out to anyone struggling with depression or anxiety, and say “Hey, you’re okay…you’re just fine…just breath!” And if you need someone to talk to with no judgment attached, please reach out! To me, to a friend, to a relative…sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than someone who knows you.

I tried therapy, I tried drugs, but the two things that helped me the most was an amazing woman who lives over 1,000 miles away and a borrowed TED talk anxiety song.

Don’t give up!

Image Conscious

I can remember the first time I felt self-conscious about my weight. I was 12. Looking back, it horrifies me to think a scrawny little girl felt there was something wrong with her perfectly normal body. But nevertheless, 12 years old is where my struggle with my weight began.

It amazes me how I can remember the conversation perfectly. I was hanging out with a friend in my family’s 12 passenger van. I can’t remember now what we were waiting for, but we were alone in the van and were fooling around. I am not a very big fan of wrestling and rough-housing but Jolene, my friend, was. She sat on me and in response I knocked her off of me and sat on her. That’s when she said it.

“Geez! How much do you weigh?” At first, I paid no mind to the implications of her question and just answered, “I don’t know 90-100 pounds, I guess.” “One hundred pounds?!?!” Came her reply. (Funny how she grabbed ahold of the higher number there, right?) “I still only weigh 87 pounds and I am older than you.”

And that’s where it all began. Was it Jolene’s fault? No. She was just commenting. Never once did she say I was fat or needed to lose weight. I simply took it to mean this: “Since the scale said a larger number for me than for her, something must, obviously, be wrong with me.”

Now that has been the pedal tone of my thoughts about my self for the last 19 years. (If you don’t know what a pedal tone is, it has to do with music where there is an underlying note or series of notes that play consistently through a song. Think Pachelbel’s Canon.) No matter what the scale has said, there was always someone skinnier, lighter, more athletic, taller, shorter, better hair, clearer skin, etc. I wish there was a button to turn off the image consciousness, but sadly, there is not.

The only way is to take it day by day, looking in the mirror and accepting what you see. Now, I’m not saying never try to improve yourself. I’m saying don’t get so wrapped up in improvements (or a lack thereof) that you forget to live your life.

Life isn’t about counting calories (and I do keep track of calories), this diet, that diet, this exercise over that exercise, or even the numbers on the scale. Life is about who are, not what you are.  Be You PROUDLY!