Category Archives: About God: Bible-based Field Tactics

Some Bible verses taken irritatingly completely out of context and applied like a band-aid to my life. Please understand that I am not an expert at all; I just write about my experiences and try to be real… and really hopeful.

Day 15 Be Present: Sore Jaws, Offering It Up, and Trusting

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Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a head ache, and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and lightness in your life.
-Joan Lunden

Isn’t that a nice little nutshell of wisdom? We forgive and then get on the road to “laughter and lightness”. But–If only she hadn’t done THAT, I could forgive her. If only it hadn’t meant THIS, I could forgive him. If only… oops. There I go again, thinking my situation is special, and nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody could understand it, and nobody would expect me to forgive if they REALLY knew what happened and how awful it really was.

Oh- do you feel that way, too? I thought it was just me that had unforgiveable people in my life. Huh…

The quote from Joan Lunden sounds so trite. It really can’t be that easy.

But it is easy. And yet, it is the work of our lives to trust often enough to forgive, and forgive again, and then forgive some more. So is the problem forgiving, or trusting?

The only way I know how to forgive is to hand the person and their deed up to God. I have to get very visual about it, and generally use these steps when the thought of them or their deeds occurs to me: 1) I see the person in my cupped hands, and lift them up to God, while on my knees. 2) Then I have to put them in my cupped hands and lift my hands up to God, and shove them up into clouds. 3) Then I have to put them in a quilt, and see God picking them up. 4) Then I wrap them really tightly in a quilt, and I throw them like a football up to God. 5) Then I lock them in a rocket launcher and light a fuse to launch them up to God. 6) Then I… you get the idea.

I have to do it over and over, lifting them, sending them, blasting them. Every time I think of them, hand them over.

Eventually, I get to a point where I can just say “I forgive you” in my mind when the thought of them or their offense comes to mind.

And I am finally getting free to lightness and laughter.

The nutshell of forgiveness is that it is all predicated on a trust that God is there, and she can and is handling that offensive person and me with more love, care, and wisdom than I could ever know.

Through countless hours of silence, solitude, soul searching, and prayer, I learned that the act of trust is an utterly ruthless act.
-Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

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Single Mom of Teenager Blues: My Fix-it Steps

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“If one thinks that one is happy, that is enough to be happy.”
Madame de la Fayette

I had a bout of SMTB (Single Mom of Teenager Blues) this week.  Crying jags, going to bed early, out and out sobbing while driving, afraid to talk to coworkers because I might cry in front of them, sitting in my car, wondering if I could put mascara on yet in the morning, and eating lots of chocolate chip cookies (oh wait, I do that every week).

The reason? I had to have some strong natural consequences for my son and he HATED them.  So he argued, blamed, struggled, stomped, told me I loved his siter more than him, etc.  He really worked at making me feel like the Wicked Mom of the West.  I was tired, weak, feeling unloved and underappreciated, and consequently, I felt awful about it all.  I missed the concept of a partner to step up next to me.  I missed my sweet 5-year old boy who would hold my hand and beg for me to read him more books. I missed that sweet boy who would hug me spontaneously.  I missed a husband helping to fix us dinner.  I missed sleep.  I even missed MY Mom!

Here are my feel-better steps:

1-I texted my single mom friend Sandy, asked for prayers, and she commiserated with me. 

2-I told my sister with no children that raising teenagers is wearing, and I wasn’t feeling that great.  And my sweet sister emailed me that I am doing a fantastic job, and making it look easy (I am pretty sure my kids would disagree with that!).

3-A friend at work gave me hugs and told me that I was right on track. 

4-I went on strike and did not cook or clean or ask my kids about any chore or homework or bedtime or soggy pizza box they left on the kitchen counter.

5- I went to bed with a picnic dinner and my book at 7:30.

6- I woke up this morning and ran 4 miles.  I prayed big time through it all, and decided that I have a guardian angel- I must if we have made it this far!!! She is watching over us and making sure it will all work out just right, just perfectly.  I decided to be happy and let my son be mad. 

He woke up today talking to me again, and I breathed deeply.  We are all doing the very best we can.  So let’s rest tonight, knowing all is well and will be well.

Choices, Ripples, Grace, Joy

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“Each choice we make causes a ripple effect in our lives. When things happen to us, it is the reaction we choose that can create the difference between the sorrows of our past and the joy in our future.”
– Chelle Thompson, Editor of Inspiration Line.

This is my quote for the day/week/millennium.

We can make choices to blame ourselves when our kids run away, and fall into self-blame about choices we made 2 weeks or 2 years or 10 years ago. Or we can do our best to love our child and ourselves through the turmoil so that we are open to new ideas, new approaches. My friend Susan is working through her daughter running away this morning; obviously our hearts go out to her and her whole family. I haven’t experienced a run-away, but I just hope she is able to love herself enough to let the grace happen on the other side, whether that other side of the horror is today, next week, or in 10 years.

We can choose to blame ourselves when our home is robbed- “Why didn’t I double check the doors and windows?! I am such a knucklehead! Why do I sleep at night?!”. Or, we can model to our family what it is like to be calm in the face of invasion. My friend Mark lived through this last week- at 2 am scary-looking losers entered his home while everyone was asleep. No one was hurt (or even knew about it until they went to look for their wallets and phones). His reaction not to blame himself for being a “Bad Protector” helped his family minimize the trauma. We don’t know what grace waits for them on the other side.

This is not on the level of runaways or home robbery, but I happen to be one to spend money when I am feeling low self-esteem. I inflict my own trauma. Towels helped me through infertility issues. I had lots and lots of plush colorful towels by the time I got pregnant. Cars helped me separate from my parents’ manipulations. And now it is fall, and I obsess about boots making me feel worthwhile in my office (the black Liz Claiborne suede zip-ups would help me have more clients, right?). I need to stop and love myself enough to let the grace in rather than spend the money that is already ear-marked for the mortgage.

You know the grace on the other side, they are creative miracles just in time: unexpected closeness in a relationship, tangible connection with our higher power, material blessings for someone truly in need, kindness from a stranger, reprieve granted on a stressor, the phone call we didn’t know we were waiting for…

Don’t be a victim, don’t let your past experiences be your bitch and make you make a mess of something that God intends for grace and mercy.

What will our ripple(s) be today? Will we role model calm to our kids when it hits the fan? Decorate our house with the Halloween goodies wehave rather than buy more? Make banana bread rather than feel grumpy and tired about the weather? Workout? Go to a yoga class? Congratulate someone on a job well done rather than point out the miss-steps? Decide to balance our checkbook rather than live in mystery?

Each and every choice has a ripple effect. Be courageous. Make some ripples today.

Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, Breathe

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The title of this blog is from advice I found in Anne Lamotte’s book “Plan B and Further Thoughts on Faith”. She got the advice from a friend named Tom when she was sad and frustrated and over the top with gunk raining down on her. It is really all we can do: put footsteps and time between us and anything that is terribly disappointing.

I don’t know why we sometimes think we can no longer “handle it”, that this is “the last straw”. Because it isn’t. We do end up getting out of bed, limping into the bathroom, doing the teeth-hair-clothes bit and getting out the door. Eventually.

This morning I had to have a good wail. I was pissed. And sad. I ended up, at the very bottom of it, mad at God. You see, I had asked very specifically for God to take care of me, protect me, and told God I knew he had my back, that he takes care of my kids when I am not looking, took care that my house purchase went through ok, takes care of my finances, and so I told God over the last months/years/decade (that REALLY pissed me off at God, that I have been asking for a decade now?!) that I know he has the perfect divinely right partner in mind for me and is preparing me for him. And preparing the dude for me. Today, it doesn’t seem that way… I am feeling like I am actually out in the cold on this companion bit, and God could care less if I find or have this companion in my life. Wow. That feels harsh. It feels possible.

But God- what else am I supposed to think? How else could/should I interpret this mess?

I heard in Alanon (the 12-step group for families and friends of alcoholics, which means they have a bunch of slogans too) that “Figuring it out is not a slogan”. So I don’t get to know God’s plan, I have to step out again in blind faith; walk by faith and not by sight. Damn it.

Left foot, right foot, left foot yet again, breathe. I thought my plan was pretty good, but I guess he has a different one.

My Favorite Way to Feel Better

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I wrote last week aobut my favorite things to feel better. I forgot this very important one…

I had an awesome blessing this morning. It really got me out of a potential funk about this weekend’s lack of romantic social plans: I was asked to do someone a favor- it was something that was really needed, and they couldn’t do it themselves. They were very brave to call and ask for it. A man I hardly know, who is recently divorced (he doesn’t know anything about me, and we usually only communicate by emails) called me to ask if his daughter could have a ride to school He lives near us, and I have given her carpools for cross country meets becaue he lost his car (and who knows what else) in his recent divorce. His sweet daughter is in 6th grade, and it was about 20 degrees and dark this morning at 7:15 when she needed a ride. I almost didn’t answer the phone when I saw it was him- I was rushing to work, having already dropped my kids off early, and had a bad morning harping on them about their chores and rooms. I was feeling badly about myself, as a mom and as a woman due to the lack of CG asking me out on a date. I had prayed about the lack of a date with CG, asked for some wisdom, and to do God’s will. I also point blank asked God to arrange a date… day before yesterday. Nothing happened.

Until this morning. I got to help someone get his daughter to school in the cold, to help him make life for his daugher as normal and stress free as possible (although I am not doing a great job of that with my own kids, I am glad I could help him). I got to remember what it was like to worry about how to get the kids to school. Six years ago, I was divorced, broke, unemployed, in a terrible relationship, and bankruptcy and foreclosures were in the works. I was in a mess and had a really hard time getting my kids to school myself. Today, I have had the same job for 5 years, my kids are making good choices and get to school every day, I bought a car in February, and I am in the process of buying a home for us in November.

I realized with that ride to school for her that I am blessed and don’t need more than I have right now. Yes, I want a companion, but God might have different plans for me this weekend.

(Also- maybe I am supposed to do something to help myself feel better, rather than look for a man’s interest in me to validate me. Just maybe!)

It All Ends A Lot Better Than It Starts

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It ended miraculously compared to how it all started and the garbage I let in.

I felt really really awful when I realized my divorce proceedings had been attorney-office gossip, then dinner time conversation, and eventually evolved to bar talk… My stomach did a 3-day lurch down to the bottom floor of the Empire State Building as I realized that it was possibly an interesting story (to an outsider, not going through the tremendous emotional and financial devastation that highly public criminal court cases come along with). Why wouldn’t they unearth it, roll it around, and look for something of interest to chat about? Never have I wanted to be as Normal as possible as when gathering with my old friends from Normal 2 weeks ago. But my life diverged from Normal (and my Normal expectations for it) in 1997 when my then-husband was arrested. I guess I have not healed as much as I had hoped; it continued to unravel me. But read to the bottom…

I was standing tall in my gorgeous shoes, in the afternoon sunshine, over beers on the sundeck of a beautiful bar, laughing with old friends over a crazy 8th grade social studies teacher we had 30 years ago. He casually said “Oh, my wife works with your attorney. She was talking with him… he told her… she told me…” There I was, having a very private memory lane of my own at the reunion- my divorce case from 13 years ago dredged up, all the old wounds freshly incised. I could only stammer “Ah, interesting”.

Later, boulders ran downhill quickly as I came to and realized how inappropriate that was. But it was too late, I was at dinner, struggling to keep up with conversations while drinking as many margaritas as they would place in front of me. After midnight, the salt on the wounds came on, as the old boyfriend’s wife bizarrely pulled out a stack of high school photos of us from those old days when I dreamt about happily ever after with a loving man, picket fence, 2.3 children, etc. I have no idea what her intentions were, but suddenly there I was, in our prom, homecoming, senior photos, smiling with joyous expectation of life ever after. Surreal does not begin to describe it! So I drank more. Then got a ride to the hotel, which I discovered is 2 blocks down the street from the Church I was married in.

The failed expectations were swarming me. It all combined to form a tangled coil of nerves in my brain that would take a couple of weeks to unravel. I couldn’t stop the time travel and I got very dizzy.

I forgot who I was for 3 days. I forgot that I am a fabulous mom, that I have a career in a field I enjoy, that I have dear friends who enjoy talking to me and value me and my opinions. Basically, I forgot all that I have accomplished, all that I am proud of in the last decade. The incredible sadness of my divorces and my single life was dredged up to stare me and my childhood friends in the face. I didn’t sleep for the next week, and conversations felt strained and useless for days as I struggled to get back to the present.

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Most importantly though, I forgot that God holds me closely in his hands. I forgot that this IS the plan, for me to raise my 2 beautiful children alone, and to be doing an incredibly great job of it. I forgot that the other crap may have occurred, taking me away from MY plan, and yes, away from my Normal upbringing, and my Normal expectations for my life. But I am never going to do things that will take me away from God’s love.

It may happen to you too. You will think you are buzzing along finally, doing your life, wearing beautiful shoes, paying the rent on time, eating healthy dinners with your kids, and going to work at a job you are proud of. Your guard will be down. Your Grandmother might corner you at a Christmas dinner with dreadful questions about “him”; your Dad might make a financial decision that clearly unseats your place in the family; your coworker at a summer BBQ may reel you back with an intensely personal question in front of your boss; or an old friend, your neighborhood, or your newspaper might gossip about something that happened to you 10 years ago. Precisely when your guard is down, it will shake you to your roots. You may think you are small, stupid, worthless, and pathetic because of things that happened long ago. Don’t believe those thoughts.

The bottom line, my friends, is that God is holding us, not letting us go. I didn’t screw up my life marrying idiot losers. You didn’t screw up your life either with your choices. You are on track, right where you are supposed to be today, raising your lovely children, and doing a beautiful job of it. Don’t forget that you are doing God’s perfect will, just today when you poured the milk for her and listened to his music with him. No matter what hell breaks loose, threatening to unravel your sanity and clarity, you are beautiful and doing a beautiful job. Nothing else matters.

Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”

Old Ham and the Beautiful We Have Within

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is so easy to forget that we need to make our lives and ourselves beautiful. I can get so rushed and frantic that I forget to brush my hair, put dinner on plates that don’t have cracks and chips, and remind my kids I love them dearly with a heart-felt hug each and every day.

Rather than looking for beauty on the outside, and wondering why I have zits on my chin, I am hoping today to notice the tulips blooming outside my office front door, to smile at myself in the mirror, and to relish the loving relationships I have.

I think this could also be thought of as bringing Easter with us. The ham smells gross this morning after, and I have a headache from the chocolates. But the promise of the resurrection is that God is with us, always will be, and the best is yet to come. When I bring that promise with me, beauty is with me too.