Tuesday, January 28, 2020

It's time I tell you my story.

Ok, so my heart is pounding and won't stop. Usually that is an indication I need to do something that will take courage to do. I need to share my story. This story will be long, but whoever takes the time to sit down and read it are the people meant to. This story starts a way long time ago, but I can't start from there, I have to start from about three years ago. I have shared some of this testimony out loud with my MOPS group, but since then more has happened. I am saying out loud to myself as I type this, "Practice what you preach!" I have talked a lot about sharing your story. Emphasis on the word "YOUR". I tend to be extremely idealistic about what I am capable of, and leave myself out of the group of people I am speaking to. I hold others to a higher standard than I hold myself, and that's where this story begins. How will I encourage anyone to speak boldly about their life and story if I hold parts of mine in my own heart? 

My story starts with the day a friend of mine spoke out loud the words that had been running through my mind for months, "You should probably stop drinking." She spoke these words, knowing they were heavy, because she said them in a hushed tone. Jordan and I had been trying to get pregnant with our third for a few months to no avail. I had heard God directly say to me, "If you want to get pregnant, you need to stop drinking." To anyone who has never made drinking a part of their daily life, they'll say, "Obviously!" Obviously, I shouldn't drink while I'm trying to get pregnant. Obviously that is extremely selfish and possibly dangerous to the baby. Yes, Obviously. I knew this in my head but didn't act on this conviction. I kept on drinking. This was in the stage of my life that I drank the heaviest. My heaviest drinking wasn't when I was single, living the "good life" going out partying every weekend. No. My drinking was heaviest when I had a 4 and 2 year old at home. I drank every single day, without fail. For some reason, it seemed completely normal to me. Maybe it was all the meme's saying things like, "Mommy needs her wine" with some funny image of a 50's housewife with a robotic smile doing chores with a screaming baby in the background. Or maybe it was the fact that most of my friends drank. I spent time with a lot of people who talked openly about having a drink or two or 5 like it was normal. I didn't really think I had a problem with it. 

Looking back on it, I went out of my way to drink during the week. If Jordan was at the fire station, I would make random little trips to the grocery store, throwing a bottle of wine (or two) in the cart like it was an afterthought (and not at all what I actually went there for.) To back track, I did not grow up in a house where drinking was normal. My mom and dad did not drink in the home while we were growing up, and if they had alcohol at all, we didn't know about it. It wasn't until I became an adult that the generation of Christian women who started normalizing drinking every night and possibly the occasional instance where they took it too far. It was funny and relatable. Because of the culture I surrounded myself with, I felt like I had a very healthy relationship with alcohol. Until I didn't. I woke up too many times with a head ache or a hangover. I woke up too many mornings sorry for things I said to Jordan or checking my phone to make sure I didn't post some ridiculous rant on Facebook, or even see who I had been texting and what I said. I woke up too many times in a panic that I had done or said something that would mess up my life. I started to realize that alcohol was making me a worse version of myself, not a better one. 

I was a worse Mom. Sometimes I would sleep so hard that Jordan wouldn't be able to wake me up in the middle of the night. Most times, I would slur an evening prayer hastily so that I could go binge-watch the latest series on Netflix until 2 am, only having to wake up because - SURPRISE I had kids who woke up early. I was a worse Wife. I picked fights with Jordan pointing out his flaws and shortcomings only to completely ignore my own. I would disrespect him and would then wonder why we were in a rough season. Sometimes I would remember things I said to him and other times I woke up completely unaware of an argument I had started. I wasted so many days and hours of my life inebriated. 

When my friend said those words to me, it was as if she was in my head. I knew I had a problem. It took a month or so after that of me battling with it until finally I just stopped drinking. Cold-turkey. That was in January of 2017. 

During this time, the phrase "His face shines upon you." Rang out in my mind.  I heard it in songs, read it in scripture and it seemed to be following me around. I didn't understand the phrase at the time... In March, my pastor, Joe Champion at Celebration Church spoke a message titled, CROSSROADS.  It was about being at a place in your life where it was time to make a decision.  Choose the direction your life will go.  We are given a choice and it is up to us to act.  After that service, he came directly up to the row I was sitting in (in a church of 2500 people), shook hands with people exiting the row and then stopped me and the group I was with.  He asked about a couple of us and then looked me square in the eyes and said, "Now tell me about you." I sputtered a couple random facts about myself, "My name is Lisa." "I like this church" you know, small talk.  He then placed his hand on my shoulder and said that he was going to pray over our group.  He started praying and I could tell he was praying specifically for me and my situation.  He was saying things that I had been saying the past few months to myself.  I don't remember the exact words, but it was, as we say in church- talk, "A God Thing." He assured me that what I'm going through is necessary and that I will grow from it.  He didn't know anything I had been going through or really anything about me, but spoke to me like I had been seeing him for counseling.  I started to understand what "His face shines upon you" meant.  God had a spotlight shining on me.  He had favor over my life and was aware of my struggles and pain.  He wanted me to feel seen and known.  

In May of 2017 I found out I was pregnant with Daisy. I spent that pregnancy completely transforming my mind and my physical body. Yes, my body was already going through changes due to pregnancy, but I was on a mission to be the healthiest version of myself. I went plant-based and I kept getting affirmation after affirmation from God that drinking should never again be a part of my life. During that pregnancy, I have never felt more like who I was supposed to be. I truly felt great! My mind felt renewed and my body as well. I noticed many changes in my appearance. My skin became less inflamed and I seemed to be glowing from the inside out. I blame pregnancy hormones, my plant-based diet and complete absence of alcohol... a trifecta of transformation. 

The last month of my pregnancy was hard, to say the LEAST! The traumatic birth that followed the hardest month of my life didn't help. The birth story is too long to add in here, I'll just say this: I thought Daisy and I were going to die and I replayed the terrifying moments of that birth over and over in my head for months. I don't like to throw out the term PTSD because I feel like it is disrespectful of me to put myself in the same category of men and women in uniform who have truly seen and come out of situations that I can't even imagine. However, PTSD is the only way I know to describe it. 

Let me just say, I had ZERO plans to reintroduce alcohol into my life after Daisy was born, but I did. There was a day a few months after I had Daisy where I felt like I needed to just get out of the house. You know those days... you just want an hour or so to not hold a baby or help a child do something. I needed to clear my head and give myself a break. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, so I couldn't go shopping or anything. I decided to just go walk around the square by myself. I got to the square and saw some people walking around drinking pints of beer from a local restaurant. (You're allowed to walk around with alcohol on the square in Georgetown). I decided ONE beer couldn't hurt. It had been so long since I had a drink, I'm sure it wouldn't effect me like it used to. I slowly sipped on that beer while I walked around the square window shopping and people watching. . I got a flood of memories about why I used to drink. I felt relaxed, at-ease, like my old self and I liked it. This was the start of me trying to re-incorporate alcohol into my life. I thought I could just have a drink here or there, which is what it started out like, but after a few months one drink, two drinks, even three didn’t give me the relaxed feeling that I remembered from that first beer. I was beginning to become desensitized to it again. It took more and more to make me feel relaxed or like I was getting a buzz. 

I was painfully aware of my drinking habits and swore to myself I wouldn't let it get the way it used to be. I did NOT want to go back to that place again. I spent the summer of 2018 trying to find a comfortable place for alcohol in my life. I really did believe that I could become the "casual drinker" I so envied. I wanted to be able to have a drink and not immediately want another one. It had to be possible, so I kept trying. Inevitably, every drink I had made me want another. 

Finally, I thought I came to a healthy place. I decided that I wouldn't drink while I was at home and I would save drinking for when I went out to a restaurant or to someone's house. This seemed like a great happy-medium. 

The day that changed my life forever arrived. 

I was feeling a kind of overwhelm that sends me into almost a panic-mode. Jordan had been gone working overtime at the fire station for a few days, and was about to leave again for another long shift. I broke down in tears telling him that I needed a break before he left again. What I had been doing to relax was sit in the bubble bath, watching Parks and Rec on Hulu. The show always put me in a better mood and the bubble bath helped me relax. Obviously, that wouldn't be relaxing this day because the kids noise and knocking on the bathroom door would leave me feeling anything but relaxed. Jordan suggested I get out of the house. 

I texted a friend to see if she wanted to meet up last minute for Happy Hour at a restaurant near my house. We got to the restaurant and hung out for a few hours drinking margaritas. Over those four hours I had a margarita per hour. The time together was just what I thought I needed. I vented, she vented, I cried, she cried and we drank.  I felt like I deserved these drinks.  I had put in some hard work to make sure I wasn't making drinking part of my daily life again, so these drinks were well earned ( I told myself.) 

Finally, I looked to see what time it was.  In an almost panic, I realized I needed to get home to get Daisy to bed. (She didn't go to bed very well without nursing to sleep.) I had ran out of pumped milk so my only option at that point was to go nurse her.  I wasn't planning on having that much to drink but there was nothing I could do about that now.  I would have to nurse her and cross my fingers that the alcohol I had consumed wouldn't effect her.  

My friend seemed a little tipsier than me, so I offered to drive us home.  It was dusk, where the light is just starting to fade and the night is setting in.  I pulled on to my street  a mile from the restaurant and a police officer noticed my headlights were off.  He followed me a few feet and turned his lights on.  I immediately noticed the lights, panicked and pulled sharply to the curb, running into it and driving my car slightly up on the curb.  (Not a good first impression.)  The police officer came up to the side of the car.  My window was broken so I had to open the door, hitting the officer in the process.  As soon as I opened the car door, he asked where we had been.  I answered him.  He asked if I had been drinking, and because I'm a terrible liar, I said that I had one margarita.  Without saying anything else he asked me to get out of the car.  When I got out of the car, my friend started throwing up outside the passenger's side door.  I still though that I was going to get out of this.  I went on to fail the sobriety test.  

As he placed the handcuffs on me, I was hit with a shock so intense I felt like I couldn't move.  I started crying and pleading when I was put into the back of the police car.  I tried to explain to him that my husband was a fire fighter and needed to go to work in the morning, that I had a 6 month at home who was exclusively breastfeeding.  To add insult to injury the officers comments were gutting.  "Your husband is a fire fighter and you're driving on the road risking lives?  You should know better."  and the real kicker was when he came after my motherhood.  "Oh, you were planning on going home to nurse your baby with your contaminated breastmilk?  What a great mom you are."  Ya'll I have never felt lower in my entire life.  This was by far the lowest I had felt and his words choked my very soul.  Yes, I was planning on going home and feeding her my contaminated breastmilk.  What kind of a mother am I?  What was wrong with me?  My kids deserve better.  

I won't go in to the details of that night, but I will say I have never felt the kind of evil presence I felt while sitting in that jail all night.   It was the worst and longest night of my life.  My shirt was sopping wet with breastmilk by morning and I was so struck with self-loathing that I couldn't even muster the strength to cry.  I didn't deserve to be sad.  I had brought this destruction upon myself.  But my kids, my husband, they didn't deserve this.  

I could hear God saying to me, "You're done now.  Alcohol has no place in your life.  Move on from this."  

Over this past 18 months I have had a breathalyzer in my car.  They save that for people who's BAC (blood alcohol content) was above .15 (almost double the legal limit).  I have had to go about my life with this daily reminder that I failed. I let my family down, I let myself down, I let people who I have "preached to" about alcohol use down.   I have had fleeting moments of trying to find a place for alcohol in my life again over the past 18 months, but it is obvious to me that my life is so much better without it.  

I want to share this part of my story because God calls us to use our stories to help others.  I did not go through this to suffer in silence.  I share now because I can truly say that this season is behind me.  Alcohol has no place in my life.  Alcohol promises all these things to us and never delivers.  

Jesus follows through.  He delivers.  He sustains and remains.  

Please reach out to me if you need someone to talk to.  If you are struggling, whether with addiction or not, please talk to someone.  If not me, find your person.  I know that I am no where near qualified but to quote Christine Cane, "God doesn't call the qualified... he qualifies the called." 

Please feel free to share this post with someone you know who is struggling.  People need to know they're not alone.  

Monday, January 27, 2020

Start where you are...

 "Start where you are, Use what you have. Do what you can." - Arthur Ashe

Jordan and I adopted this quote when we were on a tight budget and had some projects around the house we wanted to do.  We started this little sing-songy chant we would recite to ourselves when we found ourselves wanting to run to home depot or go buy something new.  We would look at each other and one of us would start singing, "Using what we have!  Using what we have!  Using what we have!"  and we would skip around the garage trying to repurpose something that otherwise looked like junk or something unusable.  We got pretty creative!  I redid my kitchen using paint we had and we remodeled the island using old pallet wood and some corbels I bought in Canton during first Monday.  It really actually completely transformed the space.  We did a few other things also just looking around at what we already had in front of us.  

This concept can be taken through other places in our lives as well.  If you feel inadequate to do something you feel called to do or even just WANT to do, but don't feel like you have the resources to accomplish it, just start with what you CAN do!  For me, I feel called to reach others with stories of what I have gone through and somehow try and help someone else.  I feel like I need to write, for whatever reason.  I may not have finished high school in the conventional way (GED), or ever been to college, but I know that for some reason I feel compelled to do this.  Like I have mentioned before, maybe it's just a personal thing, maybe this isn't for anyone else but me and my own mental health, and I am A-OKAY with that! So, I look around and think, what DO I have to accomplish this... well, I have a kitchen table, words to write and a laptop.  I can start there, using what I have. (a fresh cup of coffee from my Nespresso machine doesn't hurt either!)  I also know that I am called to homeschool this year.  I can't afford expensive curriculums and our daily schedule is really lax, but my kids are seven and five.  This is what I can do right now and I feel like it is enough.  
I know that we are each in different places in our lives, and I know that God has gifted each person with individual talents and gifts.  If you look at this image, the words "Bloom where you are Planted"  really puts into perspective what God calls us to do.  I have been planted in THIS house in THIS town.  I have been planted as the mother of THESE kids, the wife to THIS man, the neighbor to THOSE people, a member of the church I attend and in a place of leadership at MOPS.  This is where I'm planted right now, these are my people and THIS is my mission field.  I AM in the season to do what God has gifted me with.  I don't have to wait for some grand and glorious announcement from God that I am finally mature enough to do His will.  I can start now.  I can put yesterday behind me and trust that today, where I am, IS His will.  I am living it daily.  If we press in close to Jesus, spend time in His word and allow ourselves to live each day on purpose, we WILL be living the life we are supposed to be living.  If we sit and wait for the day to arrive, it never will.  Act now, don't wait for tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.  

(follow this link to where I found this image.) 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bubble baths and pedicures can only take you so far..

Let's talk about Self-Care.  It's the new buzzword lately, but what is self-care and what should it really look like?  Obviously, that will be different for every person.  Some people enjoy walking miles on a long hike, some people enjoy running long distance, or doing Zumba.  Some people like putting air pods in listening to nostalgic music while shopping or watching Netflix on an iPad in the bath.  Whatever you do for your "me time" is now considered self-care.  Even drinking a bottle of wine is considered a normal way to unwind in the evenings in this day and age. People think of self-care as just doing something they consider fun or even just taking a break.  Some people do a lot of physical self-care like working out or getting massages and pedicures.  In my opinion, I think we are missing the point here of self-care.  We should be focusing on Soul and Spirit care.  Obviously, physical self-care is important.  We only are given ONE body and we should take care of it, it is where our Soul and Spirit lives after all.  To quote Rachel Hollis, "When you MOVE YOUR BODY, you CHANGE YOUR MIND!" and I 100% agree with that.  But if we are constantly feeding our bodies everything it needs with good nutrition, exercise and doing things that satisfy our flesh, and we neglect our souls and spirits, then what is the point?  We will be in a constant cycle of this "self-care" wheel without ever really taking care of ourselves.  We get frustrated or stressed, get to a boiling point and run out of the house for a bit of time by ourselves.  We do the thing that we think will fix our anxiety (shop, work out, go grab a drink at happy hour, get a sugary caffeine buzz, eat some yummy food... whatever) and we come home and the source of our anxiety hasn't left, making us feel like we need to go out and repeat said behavior.  Again, not all of these things are bad.  What's messing us up is getting into the cycle of thinking it will fix our anxiety without touching on our Soul or Spirit.

Let's look at what Jesus did when he was on earth.  What Jesus did to feed his Soul and Spirit is throughout the Gospels.  He took time away by himself to pray and he would do this often.  He would disappear for hours, sometimes days, to reconnect with God.  He would pray and fast and be still.  He would put away all distractions and just be with his Father.
Mark 1:35 - "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." This is just one example of Jesus taking time to feed his Spirit and his Soul.

He would spend time with his friends, breaking bread and fellowshipping. I can attest, spending time with the people closest to me definitely feeds my soul and spirit.  Sharing struggles and stories, encouraging one another towards the Lord, calling out sin patterns that need addressing, going through life changes together, talking about real things.  I'm not talking about  getting together with the ladies to have happy hour and vent about your husband or job or kids.  I'm talking about getting down to the nitty gritty.  Talk about your own faults, not your husbands.  Be real about your struggles and doubts and in turn you will find the people that will stick by you through thick and thin.

In his last 24 hours on the Earth, he didn't have a bucket list of things to do before he died, he got down on his knees and washed the disciples feet.  He was showing them the ultimate form of service.  It was unheard of for a leader, teacher or nobleman to serve the ones serving him.  John 13:1,  "It was just before the Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love....Do you understand what I have done for you?  You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord' and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."  He was constantly serving, constantly pouring himself out.  The generosity he showed while on Earth flowed out of him constantly, up until his death when he gave, literally, it all.  He was the ultimate example of loving others and putting others first.

He sat at the feet of the people who had gone before him and listened to their wise counsel.
Luke 2:46 "After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions."
Find the ones who have gone before you.  Seek counsel from women or men who have experienced and come out on the other side of what you are going through or have gone through.  If you are in the trenches, find others just on the other side of those trenches to give you hope and help you see that there IS another side.

Jesus is called "the bread of life" for a reason.  Man cannot live on bread alone, we need to feed our soul and spirit, not just our body. In John 6:33, 35 "The bread of God is the One who came out of heaven to give his life to feed the world... I am the Bread of Life.  Come every day to me and you will never be hungry."
To feed your Spirit and Soul properly, we need to spend time with Jesus.  We need to let him fuel our passions and from there we will get the proper self-care we so crave.

Jesus was the perfect example to us of what love and sacrifice should look like.  He ministered to those who were otherwise unapproachable.  He told stories and fed crowds.  He held children on his lap and looked people in the eyes.  He gave and he prayed and he obeyed.

I hear people say all the time, "I'm just not in the season right now to do... {fill in the blank}"  Ya'll, we only have one season.  This life goes in a blink and if we are constantly waiting for the right time to do the thing we feel pulled in our gut to do, it will never come.  I challenge you to find the thing that makes your soul and spirit come alive and go do that thing.  If it is helping others get healthy through diet and exercise, go do it.  If it is helping others through teaching, go do it.  If it is homeschooling your children, pour into them.  If you have a heart for the needy, bring your kids and teach them about the less fortunate, go bring them food or volunteer somewhere.  If you have a longing to help young mothers, reach out to them.  There are things we can do today to help others.

We were not given our lives so we could get lost in our own needs, we are on this earth to reach others.  To help others.  If you have gone through an experience that changed you, talk about it.  Share your stories and your struggles.  Stop getting so caught up in what makes YOU feel good in this moment.  When we are feeding other people's souls, ours get fed in return.

Yes, take care of yourself.  Take that bubble bath or get that pedicure.  Take those breaks that make you feel a little less crazy.  While you're taking that break, take some time for silence and ask yourself what you wanted to be when you grew up when you were a kid.  Pray that God would reignite the fire that once burned in your spirit and soul.

One of my favorite quotes is
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."  - Howard Thurman

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nose Rings, Coffee and The Gospel

Today, I took Justus along with me to 309 Coffee where he did Math and I sat and eaves dropped on people sitting next to me while trying to write.  There were these two guys sitting dead center in the coffee shop talking about their passion for the church.  They were unapologetically voicing concerns about Hollywood's influence, the media, music and saying that people need to stop looking down on Christians for wanting to be a part of that line of work.  They were saying that Christians are looked like they're becoming more like the world when they go in that line of work and try and have an impact.  These were guys in their early early 20's, possibly just graduated high school starting college.  They were drinking their trendy coffees with their nose rings and ripped skinny jeans talking about Jesus.  I kept looking around the room to see if anyone was getting rubbed the wrong way by what they were saying, unfortunately, most people had their ear phones in.  One of the guys was talking about how he wanted to quit his job so that he could have more time to actually hear the Lord's voice and understand His will for his life.  He has a passion for ministry and reaching places the world deems unreachable (like Hollywood.)  I was really encouraged by these guys.  It reminded me of my Bible School days at Ravencrest in Estes Park.  My friends and I would sit in our Hippie attire drinking rivers of coffee talking about future plans and wishing that we could change the world.  Somewhere along the way, my voice fell silent and I stopped having the same drive to share the gospel.  It seemed unpopular and, honestly, I felt unworthy. Who would listen to a 20-something girl fresh out of Bible School?  Then, I became distracted.  I became distracted by my boyfriend and my dream of becoming a young wife and mother.  After that relationship ended, I then became distracted with work and play.  I enjoyed going out with friends and binge drinking on weekends.  I enjoyed vegging out on my couch watching documentary series' like "Intervention" and joining eharmony because I was lonely.  I got out of step with church and started looking more and more like the world.  I looked at all the things I didn't have and lost sight of what I did have.  During that time, I started this blog.  I would write all the God things but I didn't live them.  My dream of someday being in women's ministry was dead and gone and I chose a lifestyle over a life calling.  That lifestyle followed me around throughout the first few years of marriage.  I lost that spark that made me want to jump up and jot down a thought.  My thoughts were clouded in the evenings by wine and crying babies.  I muddled the still soft voice in my mind with TV, Social Media, bottles of wine and the lie that I am JUST a stay-at-home-mom.   Satan was thinking he finally had me.  He thought he stole my voice for good.  Every now and then I could hear it calling me, I could see my laptop sitting under a pile of papers waiting to be opened, thoughts screaming to get out.  I could feel the passion of that 19-year-old living in the mountains.  The creativity, Joy, zest for life, purpose was all still there.  God has given me a desire to create as an outlet, whatever that may look like.  I feel like I'm living my potential when I am doing what He gifted me in.  Raising my children is first and foremost, putting dinner on the table, tidying up, putting laundry away, stopping in the middle of what I'm doing to sit and cuddle my sad toddler, will all remain in this season. But what also remains is my creativity, Joy, zest for life and purpose.  It didn't go away when I became a Mom, and I am doing myself and my family a disservice if I silence that in this time.  It was because I put duct tape over the mouth of my passions that I felt like I needed to numb myself.  I am finding so much healing in finally allowing myself to do the things I enjoy doing.  I don't feel bad anymore taking time for myself.  I look forward to it.  Jordan sees that I am a more joyful and productive member of the family when I am fed.  I hope those guys sitting in the coffee shop will realize that the season they're in right now, that uncertain time of waiting and discovering their passions, is a gift.  It will feed their soul.  I pray for them that they will carry their passion for ministry and their heart for the spiritually blind through their marriages and their future families.  I pray that their kids will grow up watching passionate parents feed into, not only their children and families, but those around them.  I pray that by claiming my passions, I will spark curiosity in my children to find what makes their hearts come alive.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Don't Let the Days Scroll By

This day and age, people choose Social Media to feel connected to one another.  They crave community and scroll through endless feeds in order to feel some kind of connection to the outside world.  Yesterday, my adorable, brave friend Carmen spoke at MOPS about the dangers of being distracted by social media, phones and screens.  It’s become a sad truth that people spend more time making eye contact with a screen than a person.  We were created with the purpose of spending time together with one another.  We were created for interaction and community.  When I spend too much time looking at my phone, it makes me feel physically ill.  There have been times where the kids are busy doing something, Daisy is asleep, Jordan is at the station and I will literally get lost in my phone.  The lure of the screen and wonder of what everyone is doing is strong.  I feel pulled to look at Pinterest to find my next project or perfect recipe.  I feel pulled to Instagram to scroll and look at what all my “friends” are up to, maybe even become inspired to try something new.  It’s a mindless thing, it is never intentional.  I purposefully DELETED my Facebook.  Not DEACTIVATED, where all your information is saved for whenever you want to log on again… DELETED!  I have thirty days to change my mind… that’s where they get ya.  If you sign on during those 30 days, your deletion period starts back over again.  I have made a commitment to be completely done with that part of my social media life.  

I have been reading this book called, Quit Like a Woman and it’s about living a sober life in a culture obsessed with alcohol, but she has a lot of good points for daily decision making.  If something is stealing pieces of me, or not putting me on a road to the life I want to lead – it has to go.  If there are multiple places in your life where you’re giving of yourself, get rid of the one that’s killing you FIRST.  Social media addiction can have the power to steal your very life from you.  Your eyes constantly diverted to the screen instead of those around you.  Getting angry at your kids for interrupting your train of thought while you’re reading a post or looking at something on your phone. Missing out on the real life that you are living.  For me, Facebook was on my list of things that was not putting me in line with my life vision.  It had to go, and immediately.  It made me angry and frustrated and created in me a comparison mindset.  I have not really been the girl that looks at others with envy, and somehow Facebook was doing that to me.  

I have found that the most meaningful moments I have are in true conversation with my “herd.”  I am one of the lucky ones in this aspect.  I know a lot of people are in towns or seasons of their life where it feels like they don’t have anyone.  To these people I say, GO FIND THEM!  But for me, I live in a town where both my husband’s and my families live here.  My kids are growing up around their cousins and both sets of grandparents, and for this I am truly thankful.  I have a solid set of friends that I could tell my deepest darkest secrets to, cry with and call if I need anything.  This is the season I am in and it would be silly of me to waste my days lost in social media.  Instead, I frequently see my friends, spend every Sunday at my in-law’s house for lunch, work with my Mom, meet up with my sisters and reach out to people that I want to see face-to-face and not just over Instagram (because, I kept Instagram… because, I love it.)  I have gone through a very difficult 2 years since the traumatic birth of my daughter and have had my family and friends by.my.side.  There has been a lot of fear of what others will think of me but I have not felt abandoned in this time.  My community has got my back.  As I was thinking about the words “connection” and “community” a few bible verses came to mind.  

James 5:16 “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through passionate, heart-felt prayer of a godly believer!” 
If you know my friend Carlin, this bible verse should be posted in her house.  Whenever I meet with her, she usually prays over our conversation, current situation or even an unknown future.  Her prayers have been known to be backed by random cracks of thunder and will often bring me to tears.  Her words are gracious and hopeful and I feel truly loved.  THIS is the kind of connection we are called to. 

Proverbs 27:17 “ It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another.” 
This verse is touching on the Godly correction or graceful calling out of a sin that needs addressing.  I have had many moments with friends or family gently pointing out a fault of mine.  It’s never easy (like a blade being sharpened) but it always makes me sharper.  I have had so say things to people close to me, often in fear that I will offend or even lose a friendship, but it has proven to create strength in the relationship or in the person.  

Matt 18:20 “For wherever two or three come together in honor of my name, I am right there with them!” 
Obviously, God’s presence is constant.  This verse is speaking on meeting to pray or plan, He will be at work right alongside you if we are seeking Him during the process.  I have seen God do mighty things above and beyond what was even prayed for after diligently seeking after Him alongside others.  

Hebrews 10:24-25 “Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them towards acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.  This is not the time to PULL AWAY and neglect MEETING together, as some have formed the habit of doing.  In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”
I really feel like this verse might speak for itself.  God does beautiful things when we are in community.  We were not made to live in isolation, living vicariously through one another on social media, but living the lives WE were made to live. 

Romans 1:12 “Now, this means that when we come together and are side by side, something wonderful will be released.  We can expect to be co-encouraged and co-comforted by each other’s faith!” 
This verse is beautiful.  Just re-read it and let those words sink in.  “…something wonderful will be released.”  (insert heart-eyes emoji x10!!!)

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means of verses about community and connection.  It is merely a drop in the bucket.  The call on our lives is to live it together.  Whether that means you are investing into your children’s lives every day, putting the phone down to be more present with them, or setting aside a screen for time with your husband.  Getting out of your PJ’s and off of Netflix for an evening with a close group of friends.  Unplugging for an entire vacation to take in all of the beautiful scenery and experiences.  Letting go of the dangerous comparison game and recognizing your life for the miracle it is.  Staring into your baby’s eyes while they nurse instead of scrolling through pinterest or Instagram for the zillionth time.  Getting on your knees to play with your kid during bathtime instead of zoning out on your phone while they play alone.  BE with those around you.  Let your eyes look at their eyes and let your lips speak words to their ears.

Don’t let the days scroll by. 

Edit: I also want to mention that if you are in a place where you don't have a herd or community, find a local MOPS group, church small group, group exercise class, book club... Something! Your people are waiting for you to find them!

Also, the verses are from The Passion Translation.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Rise on the Wings of the Dawn

Let's admit it... waking up before the kids get up is hard.  Unfortunately, the watch I got for Christmas this year tracks my sleep and says things to me in the app like, "You woke up three times last night. Maybe you should drink less water before bed."  Or, "You woke up three times last night.  Maybe you should consider meditating before bed."   It keeps giving me all these great tips and tricks to get myself to sleep through the night without waking up.  HOWEVER, little does my super-concerned-about-my-well-being watch app know, I have an almost 2 year old who still needs little bursts of snuggles or nurses in the middle of the night.  5 minutes is all she sometimes needs, but my watch thinks I'm just a serial waker upper.  If I had it my way, she would sleep through the night, every night, but that's not the way life works.  We don't always get our way... It is always on the top of my New Years resolutions list to wake up before the kids, and yet it's always a struggle.  When I DO wake up before them, I cherish the time.  I read my Bible or a book, sip my coffee in silence and have a big welcoming smile on my face when the kids do finally meander into the living room looking like little drunk adults.  It's when I'm woken up by Daisy's shrill, "MAAAAAAA!  MOOOOM!  AAAAA" that I don't quite look as peppy and welcoming as I would have if I would have just sucked it up and woken up when the first of my 5 alarms went off.  Even the second!  It's a habit and practice that I just need to FORCE!  It's like exercising.  It's the getting out the door that's hard, the workout is excellent and worth it, but it's that getting out the door.  Putting on the sports bra, spandex, socks, shoes, finding my little fanny pack where I keep my phone, making sure Daisy doesn't see me walk out the door... all those things.  Once I get past all those steps, it's complete rejuvenation.  It's also a little like refusing a drink.  There's this little back-and-forth action that happens in my head where I have the little red devil Lisa on my shoulder telling me how great it will make me feel, spewing all kinds of lies about what alcohol does for me.  Then the little angel Lisa explains to the little devil Lisa that alcohol is in fact poison.  It makes me a worse version of myself, not better and it always makes me feel like utter crap.  I feel tired and unmotivated and also a little confused.  The little devil Lisa generally just hops off the shoulder and disappears on the way down, and the little angel Lisa and the big Lisa give a fist bump (careful not to knock little angel Lisa off) and share a confident smile.  It's all the tiny decisions that we make during the day that form us into the people we want to be.  It's waking up just a little earlier, taking the step out the door in running shoes, grabbing that Topo Chico instead, snuggling your lonely kid for 5 minutes in the middle of the night and finally sitting down at the computer to write.  They all add together to form you into the best version of yourself.  So, I guess tomorrow, I'm going to wake up when that first (or maybe second) alarm goes off.  I know I won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Here I sit, drinking a Coldbrew with Almondmilk

The inner pull to write will not let up.  Here I sit at a local coffee shop, 309 Coffee, while Jordan is home with Justus and Daisy.  I feel no guilt for taking this time.  For years I have put off the idea of writing a regular blog because it felt selfish to be alone with my thoughts for a couple hours.  I have long let go of that guilt.  Jordan has spent the last year-and-a-half doing triathlons, marathons, working long sifts at the Fire station and training his rear end off to be ready to do the marathons and triathlons.  There was a day last year where I finally broke down and told him I needed some space.  I started homeschooling Justus and Maxine a year ago and a couple months into having them home constantly with no break, I about had a mental break down.  (One of many.)  He asked me what it was I enjoyed doing, what motivates me or makes me feel at peace.  I thought about it for less than 30 seconds and said, "Coffee, music, alone time, and writing."  It felt silly saying out loud that those things got me going.  He laughed a little bit and said he couldn't relate.  Obviously!  This coming from the guy who can't sit long enough to watch a show, the guy who paces around the house looking for something to occupy his time.  To him, sitting and writing is school.  To me, it's an outlet.  For years I have heard this tiny whisper to just sit down and start.  A few months ago, I finally went out, sat and wrote.  I started writing what I thought would be a Plant Based cookbook with a little bit about who I am woven into it.  It is now 20 typed pages of my life.  I think I wrote down one recipe and then went on a writing tangent.  Those 20 pages hold moments of therapy I couldn't have paid a therapist for.  I wept writing sections and laughed out loud looking like a crazy person behind the computer screen in the corner of a little coffee shop.  I was shocked at the things that came out on that screen.  Today, I wrapped up a section of it that feels a little too raw and real.  I'm going to slowly chip away at this thing, keeping what needs to stay and casting away things that were only for my eyes.  My Dad asked me the other day if he could read what I've written so far and it just made me laugh.  "Dad!" I said, "It's really just like a long journal entry at this point.  It's so not ready to be seen by anyone else's eyes." Maybe someday? Maybe this will all just lead me to what I AM supposed to be writing.  I'm honestly not sure what that is.  I know I have a lot on my heart to share and I'm hoping I can use this blog as an outlet again.  The last time I wrote in it was roughly 6 years ago, so here's hoping I can be consistent again.  I really don't mind jamming out to Death Cab for Cutie on headphones in cute, hipster coffee shops in my adorable Stars Hollow-Esq town while I type away aimlessly.  If this isn't for you, I'll be okay if it's just for me.