Our wordless walk.

 

Today I saw a beautiful photo on my Instagram feed.

An open journal set on a table, and upon the crisp white page was written the word,

“Grace”

In enviously beautiful penmanship, the kind with long tails and swirls at the ends of the letter.

The journal was placed upon a table set up outdoors. On the table you can see a strategically placed cup of coffee and a pen next to the mug, mindlessly left there by the artist. You could see the back ground. The blurred image of palm trees and blue skies.

No argument from me that it is a lovely image.

My reaction though, was not what the artist had hoped. Something inside me was, disappointed.

It is no difficult task to sit in a tropical setting, drinking a latte while you have the leisure to create a beautiful scripted image about God’s grace.The ease and peace of the moment doesn’t reduce the truth of God’s grace. His grace is life changing. And amazing. And real. Which is why the picture is so powerful.

I love pictures that are like the one I described. Where the girl is strolling in the knee high grass, golden locks tossed messily by the wind. The words of Grace written happily across the sun streaked sky. Where she leans in the shade against a strong tree. Her bare toes curled in the cool green grass. A verse about the peace of our Father Creator written in the canopy of dark green leaves. Photos like this represent the hope of our creator. His blessings. His peace. His amazing grace.

These images appeal to our wants. We want that. Of course we do!  The sun. The blue sky. The crispy empty white page with error free art effortlessly drawn upon it. The refreshing atmosphere. Feet kicked up. We look at that photo and we think, yea, THATS grace.

But there are times when I see these images and… my heart sinks.

Because this is not the grace I know right now. This is not the grace we always see.

Where is the photo of  his princess crying in her car at the red light on her way to work? Her unspoken prayers caught in her throat that is in synchronized twist with her heart. Is his grace not in that moment, as she waits for the light to change?

Where is the photo of the daughter of God staring at a stranger in a bathroom mirror spotted with tooth paste splatters? She looks at the unfamiliar face of someone she no longer recognizes anymore, someone she fears will be forever a failure. Is her heavenly dad’s hope not in there with her as she rests her hands on the sink?

Does grace and hope and peace and love always look like the first photos?

Or is it possible, that he exists in these other moments as well?

Is our faith as valid when our hearts feel hopeless?

Is our love for our maker just as known by our Heavenly Dad when we are feeling unloved?

Are our prayers still important when they are filled with questions?

Does he still hear our heart when it’s cries fall silent?

There is a deep assurance that rests within me that tells me that my faith is just as real now as it is when the days are sunny. My heavenly Dad still sees my heart, hears my cries and is moved with compassion for me.

He knows us comprehensively.Every shadow we walk though, he is there.. Every inch of this part of the path that is clouded by the gray skies that we might find ourselves walking tonight? He is here. And not only is he present in this place with us. He sees all our fears and doubts and darkness and he is overcome with love for us.

When our walk with our God becomes wordless, feel him take your hand and knowingly give you a squeeze. He isn’t going anywhere.

This is my photo of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

A Journal.

Okay, internet. I am going to confess something. I am not sure if this is permissible to admit. I do not know if it is common. But, there are times when I read my own blog. I do.

Does this make me narcissistic?

It’s just that, I am always in a perpetual state of self evaluation. Checking and rechecking. My progress. My emotional health. Am I a better person than I once was? Have I improved? Am I showing signs of growth?

And time and time again…I measure my behaviors. My words. My thoughts. I check my pulse and I see myself always lacking.

Circumstances are always changing around me. Time passes. But it seems my state of emotional health remains a constant fixation of failure for me.

I look at these words so conveniently laid out before me. And I see the struggles I had years ago, are the struggles I have today.

Does this make me eternally flawed? Or hopelessly normal?

Most girls have private journals. All covered in pink velvet and guaranteed privacy by a heart shaped lock.

My journal is a 17″ glowing screen that is publicly available to the world via the inter-web.

I don’t know if my ponderings, ramblings, verbalizations of my struggling heart serve any good purpose for the inter-webs or for me. But I will post when I can. In hopes that someday, among the thorns of my tangled thoughts a bloom will fight its way open.

 

Morning.

There is a solitary green orb glowing out my window. My neighbor’s porch light. But everything else? Black.

The time change has my body pushed into a corner. I am sleepy at weird times and fully awake at equally weird times. Funny how a sixty minute change can cause such a ruckus.

I’ve never been much of a night owl. I always feel more at home in the morning. I prefer the beginning of the day to the end of it. The end of the day is for reflection and adjustment. The morning? Well, that is my blank page. And as someone who enjoys art and writing, well, that idea appeals to me more.

I have been wanting to return here for a while. But there are plenty of excuses. I work and commute over 50 hours a week. I am enrolled as a full time college student at my local community college. Then there is the house. And the four kids.

But I think what keeps me away most is the fear of what I might say to you, oh, internet void.

The last four years have been, well, my words would be inadequate.

I divorced my husband of 18 years. I started working again,full time for the first time since I had babies. I fell in love with an incredible man. I moved to a beautiful new state. I started a pretty amazing new job. I went back to work on getting my degree. Then, my heart was broke. And in all of this, I have watched my outlook change, saw my personality change, I saw my faith change.

There has been fluxes in hope. The moments where I had no hope have been more numerous than the moments where I felt that hope.I have watched my own unhealthy behaviors and ideas shape events around me that I cannot undo.And sometimes I have little hope I can create a better way for myself. Make better choices. Think better thoughts. My earnest prayer this year has been that my Heavenly Dad would revive hope in my heart once again. Hope in Him. And hope in me, his daughter, that I know he loves. The heartbeat of hope inside me is thready and weak. But I remind myself, it still beats, albeit quietly. I remind myself, it is still there.

There has been fluxes in faith. I have struggled to find my heavenly Dad in these events.Despite my love for him, I feel unloved. I have recently stumbled across this feeling. I have unpacked this idea and asked myself why I feel unloved by my creator. Even though my deepest faith tells me,without a doubt, he loves me. I know he does. But yet? I do not feel that warmth from him.I look inward, and I feel very little, I see no movement of him in my life and heart. I am holding steadfast in my belief that this is momentary.

I have concluded that I feel most loved by God through the people around me. And this time in my life, has been the loneliest I have ever known, so I am grasping at other ways to feel his love, and it has been difficult for me to locate that love.

I am grateful for the moments I catch a breath of him. Because, do not misunderstand, there are such moments. Where I recognize his face. See that familiar smile. And he winks at me. As if to say, “Just give it time,kiddo.”

And this is why I like the mornings. It is my daily dose of do over. My sunrise reset. Anything could happen today. And I holdout hope that anything might.

 

Funky

So, I’ve been finding myself in a funk lately.

It comes and goes. In waves. Sometimes the cycle is days. Sometimes moments. But, at this very moment? I am in it.

Up to my feverishly overworked mind.

I gots me a case of the feels.

That’s right, emotions.

I am, an “emotional person”. This title does not serve me well.

Someone whom I admire recently called me passionate. Intense. Overwhelming. I pointed out to them that these words are also synonyms for crazy. They weren’t calling me crazy (THIS time), but they were simply in awe of the capabilities of my emotional capacity.

Rarely, is such emotion sought after. I certainly am not happy with the tumultuous swells that my personality can undergo. And I think it’s safe to say, those around me could do with less of aforementioned swells. It wud be one thing if my emotions were simply heart and flowers. Ah no, sad to say that is not the case here, my dear internet void.

I can be dark. Yes, ma’am.

Frighteningly so.

One thought leads to another and leads to any other until I find myself lost in a thorny tangle of self doubt. Self hate. It is at that moment, that I realize I am caught there  the briars of my own self recognized weaknesses. And every movement I make to break free of this brambled prison? I feel the uncomfortable jab of those thorns.

So, here I sit, paralyzed and in pain.

Most people often confuse emotional with witless. But rest assured, it’s not always the case. I am acutely aware of my condition. I know. I realize. I know what I should have said. What I should have done. And I know what I need to do to get out. And further more I fully recognize I have all the capabilities to do so.

The concept of healthy behavior and healthy self love is fully grasped- it’s the execution that I find elusive.

Am I totally alone in this?

 

Self awareness

Hey, I have a blog…. I am always wanting to come back here to my powerbook and get my words out on the screen. Talk to the void. … say stuff….

you know, stuff.  Things.

I have so much to say.

 

Here’s an old draft of something that was on my mind in 7/2013 that I never posted. (Maybe because its a bit choppy and the words are broken in thought a bit. I am not sure.)

 

I dont know why I never hit the post button. But I am going to tonight.

 

Something I have noticed:  the less self conscious I am – the more powerful I am.

When I am overly aware of myself, any part of me…physically, emotionally, mentally…. it seems like everything I do drips of the sticky stinky mud of a sense of failure.

But,  on the other hand, when I am fully immersed in the moment or totally engaged with the person I am with, I have alot more fun and…. whatever I am endeavoring to do? It’s a success.

If we could somehow completely lose the worry of what people think of us …. imagine….

we would risk more spontaneity, humor, and discovery in our lives

we also would risk failure and looking foolish…..

but I think the payoff of the possibilities of the former is a fair trade to the experiment with the moment.

What’s the point? The less energy you have tied up in what people think, the more energy you can put into being the most authentic you…

and as a result?  the BEST of you shows up.

YOU have something original in you, a you factor. As I tell my girls, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.

That’s the intersection of your unique gifts, talents and acquired skills and your own unique history and life experience.

Where you hurt, you bring depth, realness, and transparency.

Where you have soared, you bring hope, possibilities, and inspiration.

Where you have been can shape where your imprint can take others.

When you care less about what we think of you and more about what we think about what you are saying, by living your life free of self consciousness.

The KICKER. When we work our unique observations from our life experience, we have found a unique and personal “life message” that can touch others also.

Your creator speaks thru your daily steps of self discovery and celebration and that will free others to be authentically who they are.

 

 

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An empty tank.

An empty glass.

An empty bank account.

Anytime you hear of empty… you think… people think ….. well…. nothing good.

Empty can cause fear. Empty can cause pain…..

But empty…. happens. All the time. To alot of people. To everyone, I think.

It easy to focus on the difficult parts of experiencing empty.

But as we encounter these times in life, we need to force ourselves to find the good in these moments.

Pain and circumstance can be a tutor in life. If you allow it.

Wherever there is emptiness there is a capacity to recieve.

This is God’s great chance to work.

God doesnt do his best work in the luxury jet of the televangelist. Or in the padded pews of a stuffy church. But… in our brokenness. In our right now neediness.

God delights in our weakness. His strength is made perfect inside of our weakness. Its in these moments of emptiness that he shines brightest.

So, if you have an empty glass right now… an empty tank… an empty bank account….

an empty heart.

Think of this? as your moment…right now?… is your moment.

God’s grace is NOW… right at this moment.

God’s grace isnt for your yesterday. His grace isnt for your last year. It isnt for your past at all. There is no grace for your past.

But, for where you are at this moment?

There’s grace.

Emptiness

What if?

BLOG

What is it about the click of the keypad I find so…. satisfying? As if somehow my thoughts have more significance when there are in front of my eyes versus whirling in a soup in my busy brain?

I suppose the speed that I can type is a much more manageable speed to process my thoughts,  than the speed my thoughts normally come: fast and furious, a whirling dervish of cerebral activity.

So, here I sit, and with every click and tap of the letters on my laptop and with every hit of the space bar, my thoughts are measured out… bit by bit.  Portioned serving sizes of my meandering brain… that I can manage to consume without too much waste.

I have been saying (to myself) for quite some time now I am goin to pick up this blog again.

To write again.

To write more.

To write.

I love the outlet of laying my thoughts out. Seeing them in front of me. The sharing of myself… with the giant void of the internet. Hitting the “Publish” button, and WHOOSH… the sense of letting them go. (Ah… now that? Feels good.)

But I worry…. that when faced with the reality of recoding the gooey innards of my grey matter?… the words may possiblly end up being more cynical and negative than I would like.

I have a charming duality to my persona:

I love to see the best in others. Yet often see the worst in myself.

I hold on to hope of great and wonderful things. Yet fear the future will cruely deal harsh realities.

I love to laugh. But sometimes, with laughter still hanging in the air, doubt creeps in.

There is nothing that holds my heart more than the love I have for God, and his goodness. Yet there are days when the silence comes easier than prayers.

And what if… when given the opportunity to leave an imprint in words… they are not the hopeful, inspiring kind? What if they are the doubt-filled version? The cynical point of view? Of a sarcastic tone?

Would those words be as significant?

I know each point of our lives holds meaning. The doubt filled moments can bring as much clarity (eventually) as the ones that are happy.

So, if you promise to keep in mind my heart… I will promise to always deal honestly with my fantastically, wonderful struggle that is my joyous and peaceful, frustrating and overwhelming life.

Deal?

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Resist the temptation to run from struggles.

This evening, it is raining. There’s something about the rain. It makes you reflect. At least… it makes ME reflect. The sound of the slap of rain against my roof draws me out of whatever I am doing.  I HAVE to go to it… stand in the door and watch it. Open a window and feel the air that carries the coolness of the water on it. It washes me over. Refreshes me.

As cheesy as it sounds, its true… I shut my eyes against the night…. and FEEL it. I BREATHE it.

Water is life.

And all at once I am aware of the weight of the things pressing against me. For a moment, I feel the heaviness of the tasks of life. While simultaneously feeling the hope that surely lies in my future. (I am, as always, a complicated woman. I am… an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, dipped in confusing sauce. I am, an acquired taste.)

I have had an eventful year since I have visited my blog.

I will not list all the changes me and my family have underwent. But it probably is not all that different from your own last year and the changes and challenges YOU have experienced: Tears surely have been shed. Limits were most definitely pushed. Joy was discovered. Peace was pursued.

And struggles were encountered.

And  the struggles beat against your body like a relentless ocean. This ocean is your life, your personality, your career, your weaknesses, you finances, your flaws, your uncertain future. And this ocean? Never gives up. Never lets up. Taking your breathe. Slapping your skin. Stinging at your eyes. Making you weary.

You brace yourself against the waves. Knee deep in the swirling foamy water…  you tighten your body’s muscles to hold your ground. You have the desire to fight. To stand. You must.

Then you realize… you are standing against an ocean. A massive body of water. The ocean will never run out of salty ammunition. It replenishes itself with unrelenting stamina. You realize… the ocean will never stop.

You know you lack the strength to stand there much longer. The sandy foundation moving under your feet. It is a battle that will only prove your human ability is finite.

Then all of a sudden, the salt water starts to taste a little bitter.

A familiar haze of weariness comes over you… as you get the fantastic idea…

to run.

Run away from the work. Run away from this body of water that taunts you with its perpetual existence. To run from the struggle it takes to stand in those waves.

Will peace come from retreat?

No.

It will not. As hard as the struggle is to stand, there is no peace in running. Retreating and giving up is a wasted decision. It is wasted, because no matter how weak you think you are. No matter how tired you feel yourself to be at the moment. No matter how much you doubt your abilities…. you will return to this ocean. You will return to these waves.

Because water… is life.

The ocean is ours.

Not ours to master. But ours just the same.

Here is our choice. To run away from our struggles. Or to turn and face them… walk into them… and float above them.

Did you know what you can float on these waves? You might have to wade out a little deeper. You might have to fight the flow a little harder for a distance. You might even swallow your fair share of salty water perhaps. BUT... but, my friends,  once you’ve walked the proper distance into this body of water…and you lay back into these same powerful waves?… arms out… in surrender? In trust of the laws of nature our marvelous creator has? You will float.

And here’s a little science for you: it is easier to float in an ocean. The salt in the water causes it to be heavier than fresh water. And your floating will come easier.

Those powerful waves that shook your foundation before?  That power is still there under you. The same things that would have smacked you in the face? The same things that would have stung your eyes and taken your breath away…. those things?… now carry you.

A dear friend is always telling me (quite often in fact, she is tireless in her advice) … the TRUE struggle in life? Is learning to rest and not fight so much.

Cuz, what does fighting the ocean of struggles REALLY benefit you? All you will get is stinging nostrils filled with salt water and a tired and weary you.

Rest today, my friends. Let’s both rest. Let the waves come. Wash past us.

And whatever you do…

Resist the temptation to run from those struggles.

Resist the temp…

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I have returned.

Commence to start dancing.

Or crying.

There are no wrong feelings here.

3 Ingredients. 3 Steps. Butterfingers.

Here is your main cast of characters.

Three ingredients.

(And right now, at our local stores candy corn is 75% off. – Bonus!)

And you dont have to use Kisses for the chocolate… in fact, there are much better options out there for dipping chocolates. A friend told me about chocolate with paraffin… you should look into that kind, as the kisses as a chocolate coating didnt work fantastic.

And I used smooth PB… but my next batch I will use a crunchy kind… or a more natural “corse” PB.

First step:

Nuke those candy corns for 30 seconds. Stir. Nuke for 30 more seconds. Stir again. Keep nuking those bad boys until the are smooth and melty.

Second step:

Be quick now! Dump a whole small jar of PB in that candy corn goo… hurry! Quick! You are gunna wanna move fast… so have the jar open and ready to dump… cuz that candy corn? Solids up pretty quick.

Now stir! Stir! Stir! Do it like you mean it!

Third Step:

Dump that mixture onto parchment paper. You can put the paper in a pan to help you form it into a square… or you can do it by hand. Me? I did it by hand. Cuz I am hardcore like that. (Be intimidated.) Then chill that puppy.

Now you are gunna want to score that brick of peanuty goodness. Make it into bars. Make it into coin size pops. I made cubes.

See? Cubes. As you can kinda see… the texture isnt quite EXACTLY like a Butterfinger. But it is close… it’s crumbly and the taste and color is PERFECTLY like a Butterfinger. Wait… you’ll see.

Now, at this point, you can chill these cubes again… or move right on to the next step.

Step Four:

Dip. Dip. Sha na na na… na na na na na… Dip! Dip!

And there you go… bite sized Butterfingers!

I was able to make over 150 little fun size bites from one batch.

So there you go…. Homemade Butterfingers!

Lemme know how you like yours!