Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Leaving the Past Behind

It's difficult for some of us to let go. Especially if you have 'photographic recall', like me. We have those memories, those experiences that can remain fresh in our minds, even decades later. I have often struggled with this problem. There would be those in my life who would tell me to "let it go", and no matter how hard I would try, it just seemed to remain.

Over the years, I've encountered different methods for putting the past to rest. It has been a process of taking what comes to mind, dealing with it, and letting God heal the memories. My perspective is from a Christian background, so much of what I say here will come out of my relationship with Jesus and where that has brought me today. No matter what a person believes, there are universal laws that are true. Some might call it 'karma'. I like to call it 'sowing and reaping'. There are consequences for everything; a cause and effect.

Most of my relationship struggles I brought on myself; and some were dealt to me by others. None of us is perfect. We have our own bent and tendencies for failure. Each of us is unique in that way. If you want a religious term, you can call it sin. Actually, the word 'sin' comes from Greek descent. It means 'to fall short'; like an archer who shoots his arrow and misses the mark. The 'sin', if you will, is the space between the bull's eye and where the arrow hit. I think we can all agree that each one of us has 'missed the mark' in some way, shape or form.

I've been in the process of closing the book on the past. Some of that has meant getting in touch with people I used to have relationships with, letting them know that I'm no longer angry--that there are no hard feelings that remain. Sometimes it has been me that has had to ask for forgiveness and make it right. It's complicated to attempt this and not find yourself feeling entangled, all over again. Discernment is a friend I want to keep around, always. I'm also thankful for trustworthy people who can advise me. An old proverb I love says, " In the multitude of counselors, there is safety." How true.

My journey in all of this is really about surrender. Am I looking for something from another person--be it my spouse, family or friends--that only God can fulfill, in my life? Am I hanging on to memories that interfere with my daily life? By holding on, I'm really choosing to miss out on today, and all the many good things that have been given to me. It isn't easy to forget... but I believe that I'm continually in the process of being redeemed. God isn't finished with me yet. My discontentment or that longing to 'be known' is really my heart wanting more of God...and how often do I try to fill His place in my life, with lesser things.

Every tree will produce after its own kind. You plant an apple tree--you're gonna get apples, not peaches...although that would be nice, wouldn't it? Check the fruit in your life. What is being produced? Am I governed by overall, positive emotions: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, etc. Or, do I have mostly negative patterns, such as depression, anger, control, manipulation, resentment, bitterness, etc. as a result of the past? For me, when negative patterns resurface, it usually means that I need to do some work: take the next step in healing.

Disclaimer: I'm not at all suggesting that a person can never have a bad day, or go through a season of difficulty. In this life, we will have troubles! That is a guarantee. But my experience has taught me that I need to take responsibility for my emotions and own them. They are mine--I can choose to live by them or take the words that I know are true and stand matter how I might be feeling, at the moment. Sometimes that means getting some help--realizing that I need others to walk with me in overcoming these kind of struggles.

When God speaks to me, be it in my heart or through the confirmation of another person, I've learned(the hard way) that it's wise to listen up. It's funny how the pieces can come together like that. I want more of Him, and less of me. I want to understand His character and not just ask for whatever my heart desires. He already knows my heart's desires. The choice is whether or not I will surrender those desires to Him and wait...or continue to go my own way. I would do just about anything for my kids, so long as it's good for them. I want them to have their needs met and hate the thought of something bad, ever happening to them. I think God feels much the same way, about us.

During Easter Sunday, our church decided to do 'cardboard testimonies' as a special element of the service(check it out YouTube to see how this works). I agreed to participate, among a dozen or so others. It was so cool to see what was written on every one's cards. Living examples of transformation, standing humbly before us.
On one side of my cardboard was written the phrase,"Broken Pieces". Then, I silently revealed the flip side, which read: "Restored to Wholeness". That really describes my life, in a nutshell. Although 'wholeness' may not be achieved, yet, in every area of my life--I know that I'm in process and have the faith to believe what Philippians 1:6 says, "...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Espresso and Me

I love coffee. If there is one thing that I don't want to live without, that is it. When I was a kid, I said I would never drink the stuff. One too many times, I'd caught a whiff of 'coffee breath' from the adults, hovering around the room, on any given occasion. I think my own dad was known to have an entire pot, devoted just to his habit, at one point! I'm sure he's cut back some, now.

No, my drink of choice, as a teenager, was Mountain Dew. I would have one every day, after my paper route, along with a package of Reese's peanut butter cups. Now, I can hardly drink even one can of pop(unless it's on ice); the fizz is something I'm no longer used to. Funny how things change, over time, isn't it?

With the popularity of all the coffee shops around, it's no wonder that I'm hooked. I remember when I first walked into one of those places. I looked at the menu and wondered, 'what should I order?' Hot chocolate? A friend suggested, "Try a white mocha; it tastes kinda like chocolate and tones down the coffee a bit." So I did...and here I am, today--one of my favorite drinks!

But, there is this annoying thing called a budget. Yeah, going to coffee shops more than once a week really adds up fast. I usually go through the one place in town that has a drive-thru. Tuesday is my day for treating myself! I love the aroma of a good coffee shop. I could sit in one for hours and feel like I'm home...except I'm not, which means I can actually relax for a significant amount of time!

One of the best gifts I ever received was an espresso machine. My mom gave it to me on my 30th birthday. It is a gorgeous, stainless steel, Breville machine. I laugh at how I was figuring out how to use it. It took me 3 months to realize that the two cups went under the two drips, where the espresso comes out. I would put one cup under both drips and quickly move it out of the way to make room for the second cup. If you've ever watched them make espresso, at a shop, you know what I'm talking about! Too funny. Sometimes we learn slowly!

I've saved a lot of money, using that machine. I've also learned how to make my drinks a little bit healthier, as well. Coffee drinks shrink your wallet, but expand your waistline--not a good thing, after having 2 babies! So anyway, I make my drinks with flavored creamer--just a little bit--and then add some Stevia--a natural sweetener, that comes from a plant source. Since having my coffee this way, I've found the drinks at most shops to be too sweet. The locals are nice enough to accommodate my special requests for less sweetener.

What I love most about coffee is what it represents: hanging out with friends. Sitting down over a cup of coffee is my favorite way to catch up with the people who are important to me. I want to hear about what's going on in their lives, good or bad. I even like the occasional 'European-style' coffee experience: sit down next to a perfect stranger and see what happens. You never know until you try--it's kinda fun! 'best friend' in the AM! Looking forward to our usual date...until tomorrow!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shades of Green

At first glance, you would say that I look more like my dad than my mom. He is dark, and so am I. My mom was a tall blond, with beautiful green eyes. As a parent, I also see both me and my husband in our kids. They grin a certain way or make a funny face, on any given day, and you could see one or the both of us, in them. Looking more closely, there is also much of my mom in me. One interesting trait is that although my eyes are brown, there are shades of green beneath all that chocolaty-brown.
You're probably wondering, "How does she know that her eyes are green, underneath?" You can't tell by looking at me, however close you might get(I do like my space). So I'll tell you how I know this.

A few years back, I went to a Science Museum with some work friends. We had a great time, exploring the place. It was especially entertaining when the alarm in my friend's car went off and we were frantically trying to find the vehicle, climbing up and down concrete steps in this ginormous parking ramp--only to find out later, that were in the wrong ramp! Our legs turned to jello as we were laughing so hard, we couldn't climb another step! That is a fun memory for me...ok, tangent--sorry!

So one of the floors had this microscope. Two people sit down, one on either side. One looks into the scope and can see into the iris of the other person's eye. It is amazing to see all the colors that comprise one person's iris--and I'm sure no two people are alike, in that respect. Well, it was my turn and my friend said, "Wow, you have like all this green showing up!" It was cool that he could see that because I had no idea. I'm sure that it's true because my mom's eyes were green. So it would make sense that although I inherited my dad's dark brown eyes, there were traits of my mom eyes, underneath.

For me, this is significant. Well, I could make just about anything appear significant--deep thinker that I am--but really, this is cool because it's one more way for me to feel connected to a person that seemed so far away from me, as I was growing up. My mom lived in another state for a good part of my life. And, when I did live closer to her, she was going through a difficult time and wasn't available, when I needed her to be.

Through the years, we would try to connect and sometimes it would work, and most of the time, it did not. God, in His sovereignty, made good come out of a painful situation. I can say, today, that before my mom died, we were much closer than we had ever been before. And although we are different in many ways, I keep on finding 'shades of green' underneath. She was a great writer, a deep thinker, and loved the color do I.

When I think of green, I think of Life. There are seasons of dormancy and seasons of growing. Like a brown twig coming out of winter and into spring, there will soon be life bursting forth. So remember, when you are going through some stuff, that there is 'green underneath'. Even if you can't see it is there, because He made us and knows what we need... and when.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


We've heard it said before, "Change is the constant of our lives." I don't know who first said it, but it is true. Transitions are the crazy part of what was and what will be, in life as we've come to know it. Like a bridge over rushing waters, we can take time to lean across, admiring the force behind the streams flowing underneath...amazed at how it all came to be.
That pretty much describes my state of existence, lately. I feel as though I've gotten out of the boat, stopped the madness of paddling upstream, and am now taking time to just wait and see.

We recently took our kids to Underwater Adventures. It was so cool to walk through a tunnel of glass and water, protected from the creatures we admired on the other side. Water is a fascinating substance. It follows the path of least resistance, trying to go where there are no boundaries. It gives life, refreshment, and holds some of the most beautiful creations. And yet, it is a powerful force that can overtake you if you're unprepared. It holds some of the most fearsome creatures: sharks! Not my favorite animal, by any means. Although I didn't mind watching them swim over me, with several inches of glass between us...felt like I was on the movie "Jaws 2"...yeah, that's not my favorite movie, either!

I've become painfully aware(again) that I struggle to make time for fun. Have I really become that boring? That is scary. I think it's easy to get swallowed up in the responsibilities of life. You try so hard to keep everyone and everything, in it's proper place. It's a continual state of tension: how messy can I let my life get, before it drives me crazy? Or, is it possible to be too organized...where or where did fun go? It must've gotten misplaced...or worse yet, lost!

So, when will I get back in the boat? I'm not entirely sure,yet. For now, I'm glad that there are seasons in life when it's ok to step down from something in order to find out where you're supposed to be next. I'm looking forward to a break from some commitments in my life. Things that I love and have enjoyed doing, over the years--but not to the point of burn-out and never wanting to go back there. I do want to, at some point.

I think we are all given passions to follow for a reason. It's what gives our lives meaning and it's what we leave behind, someday. One passion I have is writing. It's always been there, buried underneath a series of life experiences, waiting be shared. I enjoy having this outlet and feel that I'm able to process what goes on, around me, better when I can write it down.

Enjoy the ride, wear a life jacket, and sit by the water when you need some time to reflect on the transitions of life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Never Say Never

I said I wouldn't do it. I don't have the time nor do I want to take the risk. But, here I am--writing on my own blog! I've read many a post on other friends' pages--they are moving, entertaining, heart-wrenching, and eye-rolling at times; but nonetheless, thoughts and feelings, out of the deep recesses of the heart. They make us who we are: writers.

This has been a long time coming for me. I still consider myself somewhat guarded and reserved, when it comes to sharing my thoughts. I've learned, through experience, that when you 'spill your guts' to the masses, there will be some vultures circling around, waiting to eat you alive. As graphic as that may sound, it is true! While I can't control what others may say or do, I will try to use my words to bring something positive to the table. During those times when may I slip up and write something questionable, I ask for your understanding and a little grace.

It is humbling to even think about having followers, on a blog. And it is a little scary, as well. But I've decided that the risk is worth it. I'll put myself out there and see what happens. Thanks for listening, albeit silently, taking every word in. I appreciate it very much!