Love FOR Self

This day, Valentine’s Day, has me thinking about love.  Not the romantic love that is conveyed in the ‘Hallmark Holiday’ creation, but love for self.

What does it look like to love who you are? Not only to look in the mirror and love what you see on the outside, but to know that the person on the inside is good?

What about loving the journey you’re on? Taking some time to stop over-thinking, over-reacting, judging, hoping, yearning and always expecting more or perhaps better?

This year, I’ve focused on the word contentment.  That word can mean many different things to many people, and perhaps it does for me as well.  More than anything, I knew that as 2018 began, I desired to find a level of contentment that I had not found in prior years. The contentment I was searching for had to begin within me – with loving who I am and loving the journey that I’m on.

First, I desired a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father.  The essence of that relationship is what is allowing me to begin to see and find some of the missing pieces.  It is my belief that He leads us all on the journeys that we find ourselves walking – the large jigsaw puzzle of life, the map of all the winding roads, mountains & valleys.  He directs us, nudges us, guides us and certainly sends people to cross our paths that guide, advise and carry us to the next stop.  Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we really just think we know better (how dare we even say it) than what His plans may be.   That’s simply love OF self.  Selfishness.  Ego.  Pride.  We have our plans.  We know our walk.  We know which step to take to bring us to that next big ME moment.  LOVING the ME that other people SEE.  The ‘all important’ me.

I’m sure many of you can relate, but there have been times in my life that I wanted to be seen. When you get the taste of a stage, it’s hard to step off of it.  When you get a sniff of other’s envy, it can get a bit addicting.  Privilege & status (in big and large circles) and all of that crap just gets in your head in a bad way.  Luckily for me, God allowed me to see – He literally opened my eyes to some of these things growing in me and around me.  And He has helped me continue to walk the jagged road of love OF self to love FOR self.  Not easy, I’ll tell you!  But worth it on the other side.

As I thought about contentment and what that looks like for me, I thought about the things in my life that bring me joy today and have brought me joy in the past.  I thought about the things that stole my joy.  And somewhere in the middle of that, I’ve struggled with discernment of things that both brought me joy and also stole it.  Could it be possible that certain things in my life could do both?  And how did the Lord want me to move forward with those things?

I’m not sure I have all of the answers yet, but I do know that I pray and I try to follow the Lord’s nudges.  There has been one little nudge in that ‘somewhere in the middle’ zone that has been pushing me to write again, despite knowing that my eagerness to spread my opinions and believe that I have the answers to all of the world’s problems puts love OF self before love FOR self.  But then again, does it?  Am I overthinking that? Does God want to use me to speak words that others need to hear?  It’s that in-between that I’m trying to figure out.

If you’re searching for contentment, maybe this can be your guide too.  Identifying your joy givers and your joy stealers is the first step towards contentment.

First – JOY Givers:

  • FAMILY – I’ve concluded that THESE people, these 4 others that I share this lovely home with, are my people.  Nothing else should get in the way of loving them and putting them first ALWAYS, but more particularly, at this very moment.
  • CHURCH/BIBLE STUDY – God wants to do good things in all of us, and finding Him, learning about Him, and leading others to Him is part of the plan. Woodstock City Church continues to bless us on that path.
  • BOOKS – I love to read.  In this push to greatness, I allowed lies like ‘there’s no time for books or TV on the journey to the top.  When you get there, you’ll have all the time in the world for that.’  OK LISTEN.  THAT IS TOTAL AND COMPLETE BS AND I AM PRAYING TO GET OVER THE ANGER FOR ALL OF THE PEOPLE OVER THE LAST 9 YEARS THAT PUT THAT IDEA INTO MY HEAD.  Without time for you, time to escape to the land of novels and amazing television shows like ‘This is Us’ or ‘The Crown’.  PLEASE PEOPLE.  Climbing to the top can surely allow you to miss some great stuff if you let it.  I was letting it.  So, back to books. I’m on my 15th for the year so far and I’m super proud of that one.
  • DOG – Have you seen my dog?  He’s the best.  He’s my favorite companion.  He lays next to me while I read and wraps his paws around my arm.  We will forget about all of the not so good things he does.  He loves me unconditionally.  And I love him.

Second – JOY Stealers:

  • FACEBOOK – Dearest Facebook, you stole my joy for at least the last 5 years.  You, like a drug, kept me on a News Feed repeat, always needing more, never seeing enough, saying enough, sharing enough, friending enough.  Although I love being connected to many of you and I really do miss that connection, what I find in the scrolling of Facebook is ENVY and COVETING.  Also a lot of eye rolling.  My eyes just honestly were hurting.  Some of us have a really really big LOVE OF SELF around these parts (not to exclude myself).
  • SHAMERS – I no longer have time in my life for people that shame others.  Until I read Brene Brown’s books, I didn’t recognize shame like I do today.  I’m grateful I see it now and I’m thankful when the little ‘ping’ goes off that allows me to recognize it.  There is no place for shamers in Sandora Land.
  • USERS – Dear ones that are great friends when they need you and when their kids love your kids, but quickly forget about you, in fact, even turn on you, when they no  longer need you, nor do their children.  Done, ok?  Just done with all of that.  The road to friendship along with giving my heart to someone, is going to be a lot more careful and cautious going forward.

Finally – JOY Givers and Stealers:

  • FOOD – Dearest Food, you are an addiction.  You are the greatest thing and also the worst.  You provide me so much joy, but the results of too much of you steal my joy.  So for the time being, I’m taking all of the knowledge on whole food nutrition that I have learned since 2009 and I’ve started eating plant based.  Mind you, it’s been 2 weeks.  But 2 weeks is something.  Is it forever?  This I do not know.  It’s for now.
  • WRITING – I am going to figure you out.

Just making these determinations has given me more contentment.  Acting on them, has brought even more.  I realize that the one who clears my paths, who opens and closes my doors, is also the one that calls me worthy.  He wants the best life for me.  I want to give my best to Him by paying attention, prayerfully and patiently.

Contentment can not be found in love OF self.  Never ever.  The only place true contentment can be found is in Christ.  Finding that relationship, strengthening it, brings you to love FOR self.

Psalm 34:10 Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

2 Cor. 12:9-10 “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Much love – and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

The Day She Said NO to Social Media

Teenagers of the 80’s, let’s go back.

Do you remember the days of stretching that phone cord as far as we could so we could talk quietly to our friend or boyfriend?  Hoping it could reach to the bathroom so you could close the door?  Remember the day you got your own phone in your room?  I clearly remember Sunday nights in my bed, having long conversations with my dear friend Laura – that phone attached to my ear, as we would talk about all of the crazy things that happened over the weekend.

My high school days were hard sometimes.  I’m sure all of ours were.  But life was simpler.  We passed our notes back and forth during the school day, trying not to get caught.  We had lots of laughs, lots of sleepovers, lots of late night talks.

That’s how we lived.  We talked.  We wrote.  We played. We were in community.  And my memories are good.

Fast forward to life as a teenager in 2017…

Although my daughter doesn’t start high school until next year, I have watched something over these last few years that startles me more and more every day.  It’s so foreign to the world we grew up in.  We’re all living in it now, from young to old – me ABSOLUTELY included.  This virtual world of instant ‘gratification’ communication. A life in pictures. A running story, or stream.  Life on video, at all times, for some.  Is anyone else but me curious as to who is watching a child that is constantly videoing on Snapchat?

As my daughter begged for Instagram a couple of years ago, we finally allowed it at the age of 12.  We were strict about the rules – what could and could not be shared.  We had constant conversation.  We talked to her about how her images could make other people feel.  She, in turn, had much respect for the process.  She asked before posting anything.  But along with that, she began sharing with me all that she was seeing.  The secondary Instagram, or spam accounts that the kids started creating.  The pictures they were posting on both feeds.  The focus on self, that even she was startled by.  Her goal was always to share fun pictures about her life – our vacation to the beach, our trip to New York, our super awesome puppy.  But what she began to become overtaken with is a word that many of us know well – ANXIETY.  I believe that Instagram was a catalyst to a 13th year filled with anxiety, which eventually turned severe.

In the summer of 2017, she came to me and said, “Mom, after our vacation, I want to delete Instagram.”  “OK,” was my response, “Tell me more.”  She explained how other’s pictures and posts were making her feel – left out, sad and frustrated.  She said that in turn, she realized she didn’t want to make anyone feel this same way by the things she posted.

Well of course, YES.

Although Instagram was her only social media app, it still provided a window and a connection to the world.  The window is now closed, completely her doing, which I’m grateful.  But I also feel it’s important to share the other side.

Sadness has overtaken me here because what I see is a double-edged sword.  A sweet mind that was flooded with anxious thoughts – is improved by the removal.  But a life of connection to friends has absolutely suffered.  She has seen that although her friendships remain, her inclusion does not.  And I absolutely believe that even if it is just a small percentage, it has something to do with her removal of social media. Her exclusion from a virtual life has carried over to real life.  The way she must remain connected to friends is much different than the way most of them are staying connected.  The late night phone calls to catch up on the events of the weekend – do they happen?  Not the way they used to.  If you missed the stream, you just miss it.

My daughter will absolutely find her way and it will be beautiful.  This I know.

As a parent, I urge you to have important conversations with your teenagers about their social media accounts.  Monitor them.  Talk to them about empathetic posting, thinking about others before self.  And are they working to maintain relationships outside of a virtual world?

I long for the days of long phone cords stretched into the bathrooms; for conversations around a table; for sleepovers without Snapchat; for board games and barbies (I will definitely admit that Lisa and I were likely still playing Barbies at 13).

I am sad for the child that doesn’t know how to live without recording to their Snapchat stream.  And I’m sad for the people that feel they need to watch.

“In a world where everyone is overexposed, the coolest thing you can do is remain a mystery.”

Our world has changed.  Our children are suffering.  For it to stay healthy, we have to continue healthy conversations and put up healthy boundaries.  They appear to be fading, fast.

Let’s help our kids.

 

 

 

 

Lost in Motherhood

I truly believe that the ultimate career is motherhood.  We dream as little girls about all of those cute babies, bows, blankies & bottles.  We plan out how many of them we want to have and even go as far as naming them.  Truly… Raising a child is such a gift and such great work!

And there we find ourselves in our 20’s & 30’s with one or two or three or even four or five (believe it or not, this is pretty normal here in the South).  We find ourselves lost in a world of laundry and feedings and a lot of poop and spit up.  We don’t sleep much.  Many days we have no idea how we will survive to the next.  Sometimes it just all blurs together. Throw in some Postpartum Depression and add a little Zoloft to make things better.  It’s just the truth.  Surviving, right?

Ok, but let’s not forget the baby giggles and smiles and the warm cuddles of that sleeping baby on your chest.  The peace that just overwhelms you when you look down at that little one in your arms. The first steps. The first words.  Knowing that God gave YOU to ME.  How could this be?    

Motherhood is quite an interesting journey, isn’t it?  As time goes on and we all grow up, Mommy included, things do get better.  We start to breathe & sleep. We go out with friends, make play dates and even begin to look at and talk to our husbands again!

I promise you that I wouldn’t trade one day of the experience.  One day of the tears, the falls, the sicknesses.  One day of the laughs, the smiles, the achievements.  Not one day. I’m grateful for it all.

But I’ll be honest about something that baffles me.  Why in this process of motherhood, do we lose ourselves?  Why do we forget to live and forget to dream?  I have had so many conversations over the last few years with Moms who don’t have dreams or passions. Their kids are their dreams.  They can’t see beyond it all, even as the babies grow to toddlers, elementary age and beyond.  And it makes me sad.

I believe we have so much to teach our children, but Moms, it begins with us!  How can our children learn to dream themselves when they don’t see their Moms doing that?  

Moms, we are doing good work, but we can do better work if we begin to be an example. Let’s become women that are passionate about something.  Let’s show our kids what it looks like to take care of ourselves! This doesn’t mean go back out into the workforce if you’ve been at home for years raising your family.  This could mean anything – health, fitness, church, a cause.  What are you passionate about?  It’s time to wake up and start living!

I believe we are doing our kids a great disservice by not being an example of how to live bold and passionate lives.  God gives us all passions beyond motherhood.  Let’s use those to teach our kids that they can live bold lives too, for His glory!  

TWELVE

And all of a sudden you are twelve.  Who can believe that your last ‘tween’ year is upon us? It seems like yesterday that you came into this world, just shy of 10 pounds; with your eyes wide open.  You took your time coming into the world and you’re still taking your time…  every.single.day.

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God knew exactly what I needed in my life when he gave me you.  Sometimes I look and listen and it’s like I’m re-living my childhood (Nonna & Pappy would likely agree).  You’re cautious and careful. You wouldn’t be called adventurous.   You worry.  You ask every night if we locked the doors.  You don’t love to sleep and you know it drives me crazy (it may not seem like it now, but I didn’t like it either when I was growing up).  You’re always listening (They didn’t call me “eyes and ears of the world” for nothing, you come by this naturally)!  Oh but our differences… You have so much courage.  Courage to stand up for yourself and for others.  Courage to walk away from the wrong situations.  Courage to know who should and should not be in your circle of friends.  You have a faith in God that I crave.  A desire for others to know Jesus.  You care about people with your whole heart. When someone comes into your life that you want to stay, you don’t have to think twice or have to be told how to show them.  You just truly know what it means to give of yourself and love others.  Please don’t think for a second that your Dad and I don’t thank God every day for blessing us with you.  So yes, God knew what He was doing.  I needed you to show me how to live better and love better.

talking with great grandma

I know you know this, but one of the most special people in the world to me was my Pappy. I think a lot about him and how he never had the opportunity to meet you in this life.  When I told him that I was pregnant, he was in the hospital recovering from something with either his heart or lungs.  I see it so clearly like it was yesterday.  Nana sitting on the chair next to the end of the bed.  The sun shining in the window.  I remember his joy and his words, “Another blondie, just like you.”  About 6 months later on the day he passed away, I sat next to him, alone in the hospital room, as he lay sleeping and struggling and I put his hand on my belly.  You kicked and moved and I talked.  I know he heard and I know he was with us. I know he connected with you in that moment.  He passed shortly after I walked out of the room that morning. I like to believe that when he got to heaven, he and God had a good talk about you and your life and the type of sweet soul you would be.  I see so many of his qualities in you.  The kindness in your heart and in your smile.  The way you care for people.  The way you love.  The way you give without expecting in return. It’s something special.  It’s different.  One of my favorite stories of Pappy (Where’s Nana when you need her to embellish a story?) was about this one time when he was the Constable in Hopewell Township in the 1960’s.  He had a warrant to arrest a couple of men, although I’m not sure of their crime.  As he was driving them to the county jail, he knew they hadn’t eaten anything so he first stopped to get them something to eat.  He sure did love food, but more than that, he loved people.  No matter who they were or what they had done, he knew love.  Even though you never met here on Earth, I think you two know each other well.  I got proof of that not long ago when I shared a picture of him with you and you told me, “I dreamed of him the other night!  He gave me a huge hug.”  Oh my heart.

constable

Hopewell Township Constable, Jack Corsi, my Pappy

Your eleventh year was a memorable one that I don’t think I’ll forget for many reasons.  You rode your first roller coaster (and many to follow) and had your first weekend away from home for church camp. I watched you re-establish friendships after we moved back to Georgia.  I saw you make new best friends too, and learn tough lessons about how real friends should treat you.  Although you’ve never been boy crazy and I still don’t think you are (please time stand still), you found such a sweet boy with a matching kindness and heart to be your best friend.  Again, my heart.

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bootcamp

best friends

Here is a little bit of advice for you for your twelfth year.

  • Choose your friends wisely.

My favorite author, Bob Goff, says in my favorite book, “Love Does”, “You become like the people you hang around, and to a great degree, you end up going where they’re headed.”  Remember that Allie Stanley said the same thing recently when speaking to us at our “Becoming” event.  It’s so important.  When a friend can treat you with the same kindness and respect, regardless of who else is around them, that’s the sign of a true friend. When people show you their true colors, believe them.  And stick with the ones whose colors are a lot like yours.

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  • Be Kind

Bob also says, “Words spoken by kind people have the ability to endure in our lives.”  Please keep speaking kind words to others.  Every word you speak to someone else matters.  I promise, it’s so cool to be kind.

Twelve will be amazing, sweet girl.  It won’t be perfect, because life just isn’t.  But what we do know is that we can do our best to bring joy to every day, to be thankful in ALL circumstances.  That’s what God asks for us.  We pray that you continue to give your kind smile and heart away to others and be an example of how to live in God’s light.  You have much to give the world this year and your Dad and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. 

Happy 12th Birthday!  

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