Women Who Move Mountains

I ask you, do you have any mountains you’d like moved?

I have a few.

Last month I kept a manila file in the office for far too long. It sat there and sat there, sullen and unopened, for far, far too long.

I’d really like to provide a gut-wrenching suspenseful scene here with something fascinating IN the folder, but well, it was our taxes. Receipts, forms, all sorts of paperwork, signifying money.

I let that file sit there because I was afraid of dealing with money. I cannot help but feel that as I file through all the papers and forms… that somewhere, a paper will flitter out, fall to the ground, and on it a statement:

“This is your bank statement. You are totally out of money. This means you will end up in a van down by the river and all is doomed.”

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Ok, I realize there are a few flaws in my thinking. Let me provide a short list:

  1. We have money.
  2. If we didn’t have as much money we’d still be okay.

This money thing is because money = stability. And, did you know? Stability means that

Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What.

Catchy, right? I’m going to needlepoint that on a pillow.

Making sure that Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What is rather tiring, did you know? Also? It’s impossible, so there’s that.

I recently had the honor of reviewing this book, and I would like to recommend it to you here:

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You guys. This book is super. There are so many things I like about it, but to be brief:

IT IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Ok, the book addresses the issue of prayer – something I have always struggled with and for good reason. By this, I mean I tend to pray a lot like this:

Dear God – WHYYYYYYYYY CANNNNN’T YOUUUUUUUUU…. (fill in the blank) AND ANOTHERRR THING….

And so on.

Now, this is NOT bad. Praying + whining is acceptable to God. God knows. He made us after all, and if he made some of us, ahem, a bit more pessimistic and screechy than others? So be it. But when I whine/pray (Prine? Whray??) it just ends up with me feeling sad and twisty when I hang up with Him.

Detweiler’s book offers clear, practical advice on how to pray in solid, joyful FAITH. Yep. FAITH with BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. The kind of faith, that, well,  you know.

It moves mountains.

I highly recommend this book if your prayer life needs a little sprucing up. If you’re feeling like every prayer is uttered with all the verve of Eeyore. If maybe, just maybe, you have some mountains to attend to.

If you’d like to know more, or take a closer look at Sue Detweiler’s book click here, and get moving. 17903556_10155247020512206_6837944691568322308_n.jpg

 

 

Fight the Good Fight

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Sometimes being afraid just takes up too much time in the day.

And sometimes, we can fear the strangest things.

Y’all, I am fighting off some gunk lately. It is real, biological gunk as I think I might be getting the horrible plague-flu that is going around the boys’ school. I substitute there, and just yesterday a little sweetheart came up and coughed in my general direction and I swear I could SEE the horrible plague-germs attack me.

Also, sadness and confusion. I am fighting that. And a complete lack of confidence. I am a lump of all of that.

Here’s the deal. I am working on book 2. This is wonderful and exciting and such a straight up gift from God. So, you know Satan has to get in on it, don’t you? Satan’s all:

“This is the worst drivel you have ever written. You just googled The Spice Girls, to put IN your book, are you kidding? Who is going to read this crud? Maybe Scary Spice but that’s IT. And, you know? It’s really, really important right now for you to go on the facebooks and waste about 30 min. scrolling, scrolling, so you can mush-ify your brain a little more, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT WRITE.”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Satan has a very good way of instilling fear, distracting, and then lumpifying me. Allow me to show you in a cool graphic display:

Step One:

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Step Two:

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Step Three:8182018_orig.png

 

Also, this morning I received an email rejecting my writing. It happens. It happens a lot, actually. If you want to be a writer, oftentimes you have to hold your writing out for others to see, and that merits some rejection.

Still hurts, though. Still makes Satan just rub his hands together in glee, so he can now sprinkle “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. YOU CAN’T WRITE. GET A CLUE AND START FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS AT JC PENNY” onto my already mushy brain.

Not that working at JC Penny would be terrible. It’s just… retail does not really speak to me on a creative level, you know? And I decided, some years ago, when I laid down the wine and said, “Enough,” that my new addiction would be creativity. So, I have to have it.

I just have to. Or I wither.

Here’s the deal. Satan tries to wither us at any corner, any small space, any bit of emptiness he can wiggle into. He slides in, sneaks by, infiltrates oh so slowly, and next thing you know? You’ve start to feel fear. And then, you react.

I react by throwing a blanket over it, so I can pretend it’s not there. I try to numb it out. I poke my fingers in my ears and sing “La la la la la!!!” like I’m six.

I try all of these things and scroll on the facebooks too. It does the trick, for a while. But all the time, the fear is still there, shrouded, and waiting. So very, very patient.

Instead? Well, I want to breathe in God and breathe Him out and just sit with Him and talk about all this stuff. I forget to DO that. Such a simple thing.

Kelly Balarie’s book, Fear Fighting, gives us reminders and wisdom about all of this. It is a book that speaks to those of us who long for Control. Who Worry. Who hate Waiting. Who have felt the sting of Rejection. (These are all her chapter titles, and I re-read “Rejection and Opposition: They Have Issues just this morning.)

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I also want “rhythm with God.” I want to sit with Him in all of this, and then, get up and walk with Him and work it out. I don’t want to evade or cover up or sink into mushy, distracted, tired brain.

I am grateful for this book and for Kelly’s compassion. She’s been there. Oh, has she been there (Read her book; she’ll tell you all about it. )

Go do something un-mushifying today. I will too, with the help of too much coffee, Jesus, some good music (Sara Groves, of course) and this book.

Join the good fight. #FearFightingbook #DolifewithGod

And all God’s women said,  Amen?

Amen!

 

Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

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Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

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Good Meetings. And Good Hair.

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Me, this morning, driving to a very needed hair  appointment.

Me: Hi God. I have my Jesus music on. Let me turn it down. Good stuff. Do you think you might have a little time?

God: Really? Have we not gone over this before? Yes, my girl. Go on.

Me: Ok. So… Um. Ok, here goes. There is all this awfulness going on. Have you SEEN all of this? Like, watch the news for about three minutes. And don’t even get me started on the facebook.

God: Ah yes. The Facebook.

Me: YES. Facebook. You know it? IT’S A HOT MESS. I mean, it has cat videos. Those help. And people post about their anniversaries. Those help too. But lately. Hot mess for the win.

God: Hmm. I can see how it might seem that way.

Me: I have two little boys. They’re little. Small, right? Like, they have all this growing up to do.

God: Yes. I know them dear. We were just talking last night.

Me: Well.   DO SOMETHING.

And then, I pulled into the parking lot. My friend, who is also in recovery, is my hair dresser. She makes my hair look great. She also makes my heart great, because whenever we get together, it’s a meeting. For those of you who don’t know – I am an alcoholic, and I attend 12 step meetings. But sometimes those meetings don’t have to take place in church basements with the bad coffee.

Sometimes, they take place while you are getting flappy foils put in your hair. You look ridiculous, but the meeting is ON.

So then, I unloaded. She gave me highlights and I gave her my guts. Every worry and fear. My little boys. All the anger around us. All the people, falling apart. Falling down. Every prayer. All of it.

And then she reminded me:

“God has the mountains. Even when they seem to crumble. He is still in charge.”

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You know this verse? It’s kind of a good one. The bible works that way – it’s got a lot of good ones. Sometimes I slap a bible verse on things, like a Jesus version of a Spiderman band-aid and hope it will feel better, but this verse? It’s bigger than a band aid. Bigger than a mountain.* I know this. But there is something about hearing it from another messenger, you know?

God and my hairdresser. A good morning. Meetings happen everywhere, as long as we are willing to listen.

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*Actually – I would have to add, all of the bible? ALL of it: Bigger than mountains. Every letter.

Red Fail Give

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Recently, I had a really, Really Good Idea.

At this point in my life, I have had to pare down my really, Really Good Ideas because having them, like, ALL the time is just so exhausting.  I needed to step down and give other people around me a chance to be brilliant once in a while. It’s my civic duty.

So, I aim for one Really Good Idea a week.

Anyhow: My idea was to start a Writers’ Group! Yes! A Writers’ Group, with people in it! And we write and stuff! It will be super cool! (Circa 1998, students… you know I’m breaking my ! here, dontcha? I’m trying to be ironic. Course, if you have to point out the irony, then, maybe, it’s not irony. Whatever.)

The Writers’ Group was my Really Good Idea!

Here’s why:

1. People actually CAME. This filled me with awe.

2. Also this: I was “in charge” and still, people asked to come BACK!

3. And finally: I gave out homework and they DID it. I KNOW.

So… here’s the assignment.

I had them write down a color. And then a place. And then, they selected a word from my Word Jar… and then… they wrote. And, since I realized I had left the group without my own three words, this morning I decided to grab two words from my handy dandy Jar and added my own color.

And oh… how God has a sense of humor on this one.

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Red.

Fail.

Give.

I am trying on my red shoes. They are a deep red, shiny, and pointy, and they make me stand up straight when I put them on. I have lipstick that is the same color, the color of a heavy velvet curtain at a theater, or of a pomegranate.

I decide to swipe on the lipstick too. It’s a mistake. Now, I am staring at my reflection in our hall mirror with the shoes, the bright slash of lipstick, and a new dress. My hair is all tangled in a braid that is two days old and a six-year-old is hiding behind the folds of the dress, pretending it is his curtain. He makes his debut with a foam sword and a shout of “Come and get me, Bucko!” and swashbuckles away, but his swordplay has me all out of balance.

I teeter.

It is also possible I don’t wear heels much anymore, so even standing still seems to be a challenge. I sigh and push the braid back. At this point, how will walking go?

I am going to fail.

I take a breath and contemplate the lipstick. It’s too much. And then stare down at the shoes in all their pointy audacity.

“Ok, it’s either you or the lipstick, ” I mutter. “One of you has to go. I look like I’m trying to be Taylor Swift.”

Nobody should try to look like Taylor Swift unless they are Taylor Swift. ESPECIALLY if that nobody is over, erm, forty years old.

At the end of this week, I am flying far away, to San Francisco, to a Really Big Event for The Book.

And all I keep thinking is:

I am going to fail. Somehow, I’ll forget how to get on a plane or how to drive to the airport or how to talk to people. Add the shoes with their pointyness to all of this and it’s just a recipe for disaster. People do not wear red shoes unless they’re in control of the red shoes. I don’t think I can do this.

I mean… WHO do I think I am?

Well. It seems… I am an author.

And I have something to give. And God asked me to give it.

So, I’m going. And I might fail. I might spill coffee on my dress or forget how to use the flight app on my phone or forget to tip the taxi guy…

But God won’t fail. Nor will He fail me.

He got me this far. He can get me to San Francisco.

Even in high heels. He can split oceans in two, after all.  He can help me walk in tippy shoes.

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Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8

My book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery with Kids, published by Central Recovery Press, comes out in September.
Yes, miracles never cease.

I Got a lot of Questions.

This morning, I woke to two small boys in my bed. One was laying across the other one, like a small, mouth-breathing version of a Jenga game. The husband was long gone to work, and I have to say, he’s a smart one to have escaped. The bed was capsizing under sleepy squirming, and at one point I think the cat got into the game. “Jenga!” he meowed with a vengeance as he found his way up on the mountain of children. “Jenga!!!! Now, get up and get me some kibbles, Tall Owner. I’m hungry!”

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Obligatory shot of cat with underpants on head. Why? Because, that’s why.

So. This morning I read in my devotional about drawing close to God. He’s here, you know. Like, all the time. Or so the bible tells me. And who am I to argue with the bible?

Me. Me. I am one to argue with the bible.

I totally have God ensconced up in an office in the sky somewhere. Somewhere pleasant, with soft droning phones and lots of great art work on the walls. And really great coffee. He answers the phone with brisk ease and saves the day.

Except, in my head, he can only answer one call at a time.

And then there’s such sadness and pain – drums of war are pounding all around us. Truly horrific images of martyred believers fill my eyes and fill me with more pain than I even know what to do with.

Why didn’t He answer that call? All those men, marched to the beach? Wasn’t that call, you know, a really important one?

I am questioning so many things lately. I am adrift in an ocean of rather angry questions.

I decided to be brave and ask my husband about all this. He is an engineer, and his brain works in ways I can’t understand, but for some reason he is able to explain God to me. He’s not able to explain anything else. Just God stuff.

I asked him this rather silly question. “How does God answer all our prayers? All of them? All coming in at once? Billions and billions? Doesn’t this seem rather… ludicrous? How can He HEAR it all? It must be a noisy mess.”

He answered thus: “We don’t understand Him at all. We can’t. But we know He’s good and He’s powerful. And He loves us more than we can ever know.  And, as far as prayer goes? We can trust Him, with the wanting and the answers and what is right.”

Seems kinda loosey-goosey to me.

This from a man who wants to understand exactly how every gadget in our house operates and reads instruction manuals recreationally. He reads Popular Science for fun. And yet, he is all, “Trust and obey” on me?

So here I am.

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Adorableness.

 

I am watching two boys twist into the sheets of my bed (they both ended up here last night due to sickness and coughing, and oh I wish I could tell you we’re all better, but it’s a slow road) and I wondered at them. They were so perfect. All long lashes and soft hands. And a million prayers for them go floating up to God every day. How can He get to them? He’s really busy.

And how do I pray for this world when doing so just sort of… terrifies me?

So, here’s the kicker. I can just throw up my hands and not pray at all. Walk away. Quit. Give up on the supposition and sickening evidence from the television that all is lost.

Or, I can lean in and listen. Because I really do think, deep down, from my scared soul, that God is good. He is powerful. And he loves us more than we can ever know.

That small faith, paired with a good hot cup of coffee and some tangled groanings from psalms will keep me going today.

Just for today.

 

 

Five Minute Friday

Today I am writing over with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood.

 

Today’s Word:  WRITER

 

I have no idea how to start this.

That’s irony.  Love it when irony comes and whacks me upside the head.

Maybe I should get a graphic.  Is there a graphic I can use?

Oh Google, you complete me.

No, NO graphics! Focus.  You’re supposed to write, no editing, straight five minutes.

Just WRITE.  Don’t THINK.

I used to tell my students that.  Now I know how they feel.

I wonder if anyone will find this at all interesting.

Or funny.  I gotta be funny.  Some days that’s harder than I thought it would be.

Feeling stalled – have too many irons in the fire.

That’s a cliche.  Not supposed to do those.

Why can’t I come up with anything terrific?  Viral?

Why did I wait until after lunch to attempt this?

Why did I wait until I was 43 to start thinking, “I want to write.  Really WRITE.  Like, for real.  All the time.”

Why did I wait so long for all this?  By the time I get a book deal, I’ll be so old I won’t even be able to read it.

Unless it’s in large print.  I could make sure they make one in large print.

I used to tell my students, just keep that pencil moving.  Doodle if you have to.

I think my version of that now is checking facebook.  Pshh.  Bad writer!

I wake up with ideas in my head, things I want to say.

Things I have to say.

Why in the world did I wait until I had two toddlers to attempt to SAY so much?

In my twenties, I collected ideas too.  And wrote self-indulgent love sick poetry.

And never sent out a query or submitted anything. Ever.  Too scared.

Now I submit all the time.  Rejections come flowing back in streams.

Occasionally, the nugget of gold:  a “Yes” we like your stuff.

Still scared.  But sending out the words.

And submitting to:  the late hours, the distracted mind, the rejection, the waiting, the ego trip, the ego smush, God’s timing. Fear.

Freedom.

 

I have to.  I don’t have a choice anymore.

 

Ok, one caption.  Gotta have at least one.

Ok, one caption. Gotta have at least one.