I am away with my love this weekend. We are relaxing at Lake Anna in the midst of a season of difficult challenges. Maybe it should be seasons. The seasons have rolled into years.
The years have been hard.
It is difficult for me to be in the early morning quiet. I recognize this, as anxiety begins to mount at the prospect of an unstructured day ahead. I do not have words to give the man sitting at the opposite end of the sofa as I stare out the window at the sun rising over the water.
Pulling a creamy-soft throw from the back of the sofa and tucking it around me, I curl into a fetal position, resting my head on a square pillow. A tear falls. I feel it slip out of the corner of my eye, roll down my cheek and drip off of my face. More threaten to fall, betraying that all is not well.
I am not fine, and I have thirty-six hours to figure it out, before I have to go back. That is how it has always felt.
This is your chance. You had better not waste it or squander it or use it unwisely, because another one won’t be coming around any time soon! Redeem that time, Sister. You have been given much, and of you much is required.
Mustering every ounce of courage to make any sound come out of my mouth, I use my voice to share what is inside. It feels terrifying. There is a battle raging in my head. I want to stay behind the wall.
I don’t know how to be me by myself, and I sure don’t know how to be me and you by ourselves, and I am going to just ruin all of this!
Tears explode and fall in full-force sobs. I am sobbing on our first of two mornings together without parental and adult responsibilities before we have to go back. I feel self-contempt mounting and fight it fiercely.
Why can’t I just be carefree and fun?
Love pulls my feet into his lap and offers me comfort. He lets me ugly-cry and sob and leans over to rub my scalp and hug me. I feel so much resistance and try to stay present. I try to receive care without gauging what it will cost me.
Care comes at a cost, you know. Will this be worth it?
I fight against resistance to share with and be real with this life-partner who sits with me on the other side of the wall. Coming out from behind it is so scary and so hard and so risky for me.
I am met with safety and kindness. There is no judgment or expectation.
Love shares his feelings about sitting on the same side of the wall with me. I try not to twist them into something they are not.
They are only love and gratitude. I can choose to receive, which I do.
Grateful for the kindness offered to me to just be and process, I pull out a journal and begin to write. Thoughts come. Curiosities. More tears. I reach for tissues that begin to pile up. I consider taking a picture of them. That just seems wrong. I resist the urge.
Love gives me the space that I need. Little do I know I am being watched from above.
This month has me in a different place with posting on my goals.
It also has me on the last day of being a double number. Time is ticking away.
A precious friend responded to April’s goals update with a compelling reminder to be kind to myself. As she read through my awesome and amazing goals (her words), there were just so many that she became overwhelmed. She reminded me that I have a lot on my plate right now, and felt that even saying that was an understatement.
Her short, sweet email was full of kindness and concern, written from a place of seeing eyes and a tender heart, and I received it in exactly that way. In fact, I appreciated her perspective and ability to see me through caring eyes. She closed by affirming all that I do so well and reminded me of truth that I needed to hear.
With this in mind, I want to clarify that my posting of and updating these goals is not to overwhelm, compare, be compared to, or create stress. It is to chronicle much of what I already do in a more organized fashion. Recording them helps me to focus and stay on track.
Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.
Moving right along to I Kings, end of Psalms, Mid-Proverbs, and Acts. Jotted in my journal. Read When God Weeps.
Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.
Steve and I have still not finished our 2 week e-course, but we are moving along. It will get done. I spent some time processing my feelings with him about my friend’s email, and he was able to speak truth into my reality. Kieran is graduating in a week, so we have spent much time communicating party plans and such. It was also prom month for him which meant fun picture taking time for me!
Kirk and I attended Kieran’s final percussion concert together followed by dessert at DQ with Kieran. Chloe and I celebrated the last day of piano lessons with a visit to McDonalds and trip to Gift and Thrift before her lesson. She found a typewriter for $5! Roo and I hit up Starbucks with Toothless, once again. Little Mae and I finished school together and have been spending our days at home before the others finish up and join us.
Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!
Some of my connections were over the phone this month. Fun was wine tasting with Steve at a the new tasting room at White Oak Lavender Farm and attending a fund-raising dinner at Cross Keys Equine Therapy.I was able to connect and re-connect with friends there and win a few great hand-crafted items at the silent auction! I am also counting adult kids and their guests as my people to have over, because that is the way things seem to be rolling! That is kindness in this season. In fact, counting my kids’ friends as guests counts, too. The house has not been quiet!
Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!
I am consistently doing yoga and walking the dog. Physical activity is a necessary part of self-care, and I am owning that.
Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.
I finished the school year! All notes got written, and the year ended well. I still have some putting away to do, but overall, I am in a good spot with my teaching stuff.
Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.
This month’s personal growth book was Facing Codependency by Pia Mellody. It came in the mail as a surprise for me from Amazon, sent by my book buddy. I love my book buddy. Thank you.
Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.
I attended the final Stephen Ministry meeting which was a yummy dinner provided by leadership along with a hearty discussion about the future, leaving me with much to pray and ponder over this summer. I am grateful for the summer season. I was able to be on worship team as a pleasant surprise. My scheduled date interfered with my son’s graduation weekend, and I didn’t think I would be able to switch with someone, but it worked out! That was a sweet thing. Thank you, Kendra!
Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.
The pile of receipts in my wallet screams Fail! at me. Each month begins anew. Steve and I are onboard in the understanding that this will get done, and all will be well.
Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tentpost for consideration each month.
This month I wrote 9 posts on the blog and submitted to Red Tent for June on the topic Always.
If you made it this far, thank you! I will close with some of the words that I sent in response to my friend which may offer insight into my reality. I realize that I don’t have to explain myself. I am choosing to.
Thank you so much, Friend.
I feel loved and cared for after reading your words.
I hear you. I really do. Sometimes I need to be reminded of a healthy human perspective. I don’t have “normal” limits and natural boundaries, so it takes a lot of work for me to see that I am doing a lot. Seriously, this doesn’t seem like a lot, and I don’t say that to minimize. It is just my reality. I was always expected to achieve beyond my limits. Then that became the new baseline.
I can see where my lists would be overwhelming. Honestly they are more of a chronicle of what I already do with more intentionality built in. IF that even makes sense. Notice that they are ambiguous and not things like wake at a specific time or do this many loads of laundry every day. I really am ok with them.
The biggest and most overwhelming is the counseling certificate pursuit. But it is time. I need it for the personal growth and work aspect if nothing else.
Parenting is completely overwhelming, and it is difficult for me to find peace in the chaos of my life choices. I think that is another reason why I need the Seattle work this year. I need more words for my story. More peace with my path. . .
I sit tonight in the aftermath of a difficult parenting situation with a pileup of years of difficulty bearing down on me. Hearing hard words from children is always difficult ~ especially when they are tinged with truth.
Of course, there is perspective. We are the grownups; they are the kids. Does that invalidate their experience of their reality? How do I hear their words? Usually it’s with great difficulty due to the cacophony of voices shouting unhelpful responses in my head.
Parenting a wide range of ages and stages presents a unique challenge. Every family unit has its own unique challenges for which there are no easy answers or quick fixes.
But I want them SO badly.
Conversing with adult children is different than with those being actively parented. There is a maturity that comes with growing up and beginning to understand some of the parental perspective. There are questions and clarifications and hard things that they endured at our hands.
As we parent those still at home, there is a struggle to stay grounded in the midst of current conflict. There are always conflicts.
It is exhausting.
One of the many reasons I am pursuing this counseling certificate now, during this season, is for personal growth. It is not theoretical work but hands on dig into your story work.That is why it can’t be done solely online and involves showing up in person.
My hope is that rather than easy answers I will find words for hard realities. Instead of quick fixes, I long for lasting restoration. These are what I seek to find as I head into the 2016-17 school year.
It will be hard. An email that came today with additional information now that I am officially enrolled reminded me of this. In addition to all of the physical logistics are the logistics of the heart. It’s about to get even more real.
Thank you for joining me on this journey in whatever capacity your interest lands. Whether curiosity or encouragement or prayer support or financial support, it all matters. Thank you for being with me in the challenging and difficult places where things are neither quick nor easy.
Seeing a large picture of my face pop up in my facebook feed was more than a little disconcerting and overwhelming. There are lots of feelings swirling, but mostly I feel humbled after seeing Angela’s work on the site and reading the words that others wrote as testimonials.
Please check out the page here to read more about what I am already doing/have done and consider contributing to the cause, if you wish. Any amount, large or small, including the investment of prayer for the journey ahead is most welcomed.
I am fully confident in God’s provision for the task that I have been given. I know that he has been faithful and will continue to be. This is the biggest jolt from my comfort zone, yet.
One of the unique aspects of this program is the in-person, group work that is done to better equip participants to sit with others in-person. To do that, one must be physically present. In-person. To be in-person means I must travel from east coast to west. To travel costs money, and though I plan to do all I can to keep costs low, I appreciate having a friend who is helping me to count the cost realistically.
I am committed to using any funds raised solely for this purpose and for furthering my education in the area of counseling, as I firmly believe that this is the chapter that is beginning to open for me on the edge of my next season.
Thank you to all who have encouraged, been curious with, cheered me on, walked alongside, allowed me to walk alongside, or just clicked around on the blog. However you have arrived, I consider your presence in my life a gift.
Be Blessed, Friends!
This is half of the inside of a card created by Angela in fall ’15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate. The other half was full of words of encouragement meant just for me.
Three years ago to the day, this was written on a much quieter private blog, where readers had to be invited and go through a sign in process to read and respond to my words. I shared with them the struggle to keep going with the blog. Their words and responses reminded me that I was not alone and to keep going.
I am in a similar, yet different, place, these days. I am able invite a larger audience in ~ you have been invited to the conversation, Dear Reader ~ yet, it is still big, scary, and risky. I still hear the voices that tell me to quit. They whisper that it is too dangerous to risk, too much to venture into the unknown, and it is ~alone.
But I am not alone! Thank you all for joining me on the journey. Enjoy this peek into the past and bear witness with me that I have grown, and am continuing to grow, through the struggle.
If you are reading this, it is because you were personally invited and chose to jump through extra hoops to join the conversation of my life.
You know the risk it is for me to put anything out there.
You know the bigness of my story.
I struggle to do things that bring me personal joy or fulfillment.
I don’t risk well.
I write asking for prayer that my heart would believe truth and be strengthened in the struggle. Because I am struggling right now with situations that God knows and the Spirit can intercede for. I don’t need to disclose particulars.
But I want to react and shut down and disengage.
I am receiving positive feedback on my public blog, yet that is the first thing the voice in my head says to stop.
And I am not going to just because life is hard. Because it will always be hard.
I will always need prayer.
Thanks for listening, caring, and loving me through it.
We first knew of each other seven or so years ago. Occasionally we would engage in small talk before or after church or smiles while on worship team together. She made sure the right words were projected up onto the screen while I was on stage singing with the others. There were conversations ending with, We should get coffee sometime!
It was early fall of 2014 when we exchanged glances during a ministry fair at church. I was representing Stephen Ministry. We talked, and this time set up coffee for real.
This interaction fell on the heels of a painful, yet honest and healing, conversation with another friend about how she had felt hurt by me. That came to a positive resolution, but I still felt gun shy and hesitant about entering into any new friendships. The last thing I want to do is hurt, disappoint, or let someone down, yet I do all three really well.
Coffee was safe and non-committal.
We talked and shared and connected.
There was much going on in my heart at that time. Dear friends that had walked with me through a prolonged difficult life season had moved away, and I had not fully processed the grief that I felt upon losing their close-by friendship. Other close-by friends had moved on into different life stages, as had I, and the way our friendship looked in real life was now different.
I was weary.
Friendship takes time and effort and energy, all things in short supply. I was not prepared for the disruption that was about to take place.
Angela reached out further, inviting me and another friend away for a weekend together at a cabin with her. It would have been easy to have lots of reasons why it just wouldn’t work out. At the same time, I recognized and was touched by her concern and care. I risked reaching back.
We had a great weekend followed by other times of her opening her home for respite. Being neighbors, this was especially convenient.
When she invited me to a To Be Told conference in the spring of 2015, making all of the arrangements, I agreed to go. I had attended the year before with a different friend and wanted to be supportive of her, as well. At the same time, there were things stirring around in my heart that began to trigger another season of disruption.
I began to call Angela my disruptor, as things had settled into a period of status quo for me after the great upheaval of 2007-2012! I had done lots of personal heart work, moved into a healthier place, and was doing pretty well for myself.
Pretty well isn’t too bad ~ right?
At the conference, I voiced a desire to attend the certificate program. Out loud. She immediately affirmed my dream. You would be great at that!
As one who is used to encouraging and holding dreams for others, it felt odd having someone encourage mine. Even as I type this, I’m sure there are many of you who have offered encouragement, and I don’t want to minimize that. At the same time, something about her words and the timing caught me off guard.
After the conference we worked on the writing assignments and shared our stories together.
I was even more caught off guard last fall when she gave me a handmade card affirming her belief in my skills and support of pursuing the certificate along with tangible ways that she would help it happen. I was overwhelmed.
This is half of the inside of a card created for me by Angela in fall’15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate.
It all felt too big and too real.
It is too big. But here I am a year later, enrolled in the program with the support of Angela and many others. She is the one who said, I can set up a GoFundMe account for you! when the cost factor felt overwhelming and was one of my cons.
She did just that, giving my funds a boost, allowing me to see that this was, indeed, a possibility. She is also the one who gathered these words in that process.
Meanwhile, I am grateful for Angela’s friendship just because. Moments of her walking over on snow days for coffee in my corner with me or smiles at school where she teaches PE to my daughter or hugs after church are precious and priceless.
I am grateful for the gift of her disruptive friendship.
There would be a timeline and agenda and a launch to raise funds, definitely after I had been accepted to the program.
I am still waiting to hear if I have been accepted. It has been over two months. I applied early and had my phone interview early. Now I wait. And wait. And begin to have second thoughts and over-think in the waiting.
This dream of doing the Lay Counseling Certificate training at the Allender Center in Seattle began to get away from me a year ago when I attended my second To Be Toldconference with a friend. It was a different friend than the one I had gone with the year before, and I was beginning to feel like that friend, which I kind of am.
I followed her prompting and agreed to attend. I was grateful to her for setting up the details and making arrangements. I was determined to be present and do the work and followup writing. She was determined to engage me and ask questions and listen to my answers.
When the Lay Counseling Certificate information was presented, I shared with her that I had a desire to attend the program. It was a dream that I held in my heart and had voiced to very few others. In my mind, I held maybe the year that I turn 45 as the far-off time, because, well, it felt so far away.
Her response was enthusiastic and encouraging. It was scary. Now she knew and was going to ask and followup with questions. She was going to question my pros and cons and search for solutions with me.
I can help you set up a Go Fund Me account!
The thing about speaking a dream out loud is that it allows another person or persons in and gives them space to speak into and dream with and encourage. The thing about speaking a dream out loud is that it also allows a person or persons in and gives them space to put down, dismiss, and mock.
Sadly, I experienced the latter during a vulnerable season of dreaming about my life and future, teaching me that if I had a dream, I should just keep it to myself and work quietly at it alone, if at all. I learned that it was dangerous and painful to dream and impossible to let others in. Dreaming was too risky and extremely foolish. Who was I to think I was anything special?
By keeping my dreams tidy, small, and under control, I avoided painful disappointment. I avoided questions that I might not be able to answer. I avoided risk. I stayed pleasant and static and one-dimensional.
By keeping my dreams tidy, small, and under control, I also avoided joyous celebration. I avoided the intimacy that comes from sharing my heart with safe people and having them wrestle through the unknown with me. I avoided reward. I squelched passion and desire and shut down many facets of myself in order to survive.
So here I sit on the edge of an out-of-control dream.
I don’t know what these upcoming weeks hold.
I don’t know if I will get a letter of acceptance detailing the next steps to take, or if I will get a Thank you for your interest, but. . . response.
I don’t know if I will be able to go this year if I am accepted. I don’t know exactly how all of the pieces will come together.
I do know that I am grateful for the chance to dream again and to see where the dream will take me. Thank you, Dear Readers, for your kind encouragement in the process. Each of you who takes time to read, comment, share, and speak up, offers me hope in the dreaming.
I can’t have a Friendship Friday post on April Fool’s Day without thinking of my dear friends Misty and Davene and the wonderful season we shared together from 2006 ~ 2011 or 12ish. April 1 is Davene’s birthday. It also reminds me of the fun play date that Misty hosted one early April afternoon.
The picture above was taken on Misty’s bricked back porch the day she threw an April Fools lunch/party for us and all of our children back in 2011. She is on the left, Davene is in the middle, I am on the right. There were a lot of kids. Doing the math makes my head tired, but I had three or four littles with me, and she had four, and Davene had at least three or four, so there were a lot.
Misty prepared fun things like jello that looked like juice in cups with straws and mashed potato cupcakes and other incredibly creative snacks for the kids to enjoy. We served and shared and laughed together. The kids played. It was a sweet time.
I met Misty and Davene in the season of my second baby bunch. It was through Davene, or should I say her husband, Jeff, who connected us through our husbands whose hair he cut that we all met.
Roo was born in 2006 and was a newborn the first time we were introduced at a potluck at the Fisher household. Kirk was 3, Coco was 1, there was no Little Mae, yet. In 2006 all of my kids still lived at home. Their ages were 14, 13, 12, 8, 3, 1, newborn. We had a full house and looked like things were under control.
My eyes tear up just typing this. There was a lot going on during that season. I was, and still am, the older mom with the older kids. Misty and Davene were my breaths of fresh air. They were the younger moms with the energy to do fun things. I wanted to bottle and inhale their mothering energy and enthusiasm, and they graciously shared their time and space and hearts with me during a time when it was so needed.
Originally, Misty and her husband weren’t planning to be in the area for long. He was in the military and finishing school. One of the best risks I took was to just be friends without worrying about how long she would be here and if it would hurt too much if she wasn’t. We started spending time together with our kids. Then sometimes without.
For a time she lived in an apartment downtown across from the old hospital. We would meet at the children’s museum with our strollers or at the park or at eachother’s houses. We would see who had what food in the house to make the sandwiches or bring the juice or goldfish or fruit. We made quite a scene parading downtown with our gaggle of children.
The best memory I have is just doing it and road-tripping with my thirdborn child and three little girls to Ocean City, NJ to spend a few days at the beach with her and her children. Wow. It shows how selective memory is, because there were moments.
There were also MOMENTS like walking on the boardwalk together after the kids were tucked safely into bed, talking and eating sweet potato fries and Kohrs peanut butter ice cream. There was the announcement as we finally arrived at the boardwalk rides one afternoon with all of the kids and our ride tickets in hand that two-ticket Tuesday is now OVER. We dissolved into laughter. Of COURSE it is!
Life has moved the three of us on to different places. Misty and her family eventually moved out of state, leaving Facebook to keep us connected along with an occasional blast through the area and quick hug or lunch. Davene had one or two more babies and continued her path of diligent homeschooling and fervent mothering and blogging as noted here. On a rare occasion the two of us grab a coupon and an evening out to catch up over dinner or dessert.
We really should do that again, soon.
Their kids are growing. Mine are, too. While our time together will never again look just like it was, Misty and Davene’s presence in my life was and continues to be a precious gift. Entering into friendship with them is one of the best risks I ever took.
WordPress reminds me of this today with a three year anniversary achievement notice. Three years ago I signed up for a free account on WordPress.comtitled The Compost Pile and kept it private, by invitation only. It was my first tiptoe into the blogging world, and I wasn’t ready to be all out there, yet.
Three years ago I was in a space of a breath, still home with Little Mae who attended preschool three days a week, not yet back to working full time. There was time to explore the idea of blogging. There was time to meet with friends. There was time for personal reflection, however brief.
I started that private blog in the quiet on a Wednesday afternoon, just doing a little bit of something. Here is the first post.
I am sitting in in the quiet mess of mid afternoon.
Trying to open my heart and feel love, joy, peace. Mustering up the courage to take a leap of faith.
Seasons change, and I am entering a new one. One with time to slow down and reflect and be. To learn to live in confidence of my standing in Christ. To believe that it’s not all I do but who I am.
So many big thoughts encompass my mind. I want to slow down and take time to think them. To trust and understand. To process through and accept.
Jesus, draw near.
Little did I know where that first hesitant step would begin to take me . . . thank you for joining with me on the journey, Dear Readers. Your encouragement and thoughtful comments keep me writing!
In the quiet corners I am being grown. I am coming into myself, into an understanding of what it means to be heard; to be known.
The quiet corners are not flashy, and they certainly don’t gather much attention. If anything, dust and debris are found there along with treasures swept aside, long forgotten.
Still growth happens in the quiet corners.
I unroll a yoga mat in the quiet and stretch muscles and limbs into postures of openness. Of stillness. I reach into the corners of my mind to calm the chatter that calls me to notice all that is anxious and out of sorts. I breathe stillness into those frantic places, inviting quiet.
Sometimes my invitation is accepted. Not always.
I open my laptop in a quiet corner, with timer set for twenty minutes, to stretch my mind and coax my thoughts into willing participants in this growth. Words that have been piling up on slips of paper, in pages of journals, and on notes in my iphone come pouring out in a steady stream, each impatient to make its entry onto center stage.
They clearly have yet to learn about quiet corners.
Only one can go at a time. Patience.
The quiet corners are kind. I don’t always believe this, but it is true. I experience a taste of the noise when a post I wrote for Red Tent Livinggets more views than I expected and the day becomes loud. That is when I appreciate the quiet.
In the quiet corners ambivalence finds me. Conflicting feelings longing for more, yet content with less war together, challenging me to move forward out of the corners and into the middle of the room. The invitation to step up and out taps me on the shoulder and whispers, “It’s time.”
Comfortable in the quiet, willing to stay there as long as necessary, not allowing myself to be dictated by numbers or defined by who does or does not likeme, I also need courage to step out into the noise. To take on the call I have been given to love, engage, grow requires a move out of my comfort zone.
I am moving. Slowly, tentatively, maybe not as quickly as I would like, I am stepping out of the quiet corners and into the noise of the struggle where I will stay for a season until the quiet calls me back.