Friday, January 31, 2014

Heroes and bee stings

My hero friends -- have twins spilling beads on the floor and spreading Nutella on their face or toddlers putting paint in their hair and it probably doesn't look like a hero-life to them, but they know how to love well and they amaze me every time.

They have time to bake me cakes for parties of people they don't even know even when they have their own families and they call me when I send text messages that say things like I'm sitting stranded in an airport all day.

And my friends who will be moms soon but we wonder why it's not yet, they are my heroes in ways they won't know. I hope I can sit with them long enough to know it's okay to cry and that they keep having courage to not give up.

Heroes come in all forms in our life, sometimes even the people who get to know you through childhood and know all your battle scars and all your victories. They get to be the warriors to love you and fight for you no matter what (mom)and (dad). I'm thankful for my parents.

If you know anyone who will not let you give up, who constantly is optimistic, this is the ultimate blessing and is also kind of frustrating. My dad loves to remind me, whenever possible, about my bee sting.

Are you facing a problem? The story of the bee sting can help you, quote unquote dad.

When I was fifteen or something crazy like that, I was playing high school tennis and in the middle of a point, WHILE MOVING MIND YOU (y'all, this stuff happened to me even back then), I got stung by a bee right at my eye. I mean, it was bad news. It hurt and I don't think I could see for a second, but I didn't quit playing or get off the court. My dad remembers the story better than me. Everyone thought I would stop because of the infraction but I went on to win a three setter, and by the time I went home my eye was a huge puff ball. I looked like I got beat up.

My dad reminded me of this story yesterday, again. He likes to bring it up about every other year when I'm in the middle of something challenging.

I still think it was a fluke. My dad considers it more like resilience. I mostly hate resilience. Bouncing back is not fun.

But, I think it's true, even if I don't want to admit it. I know I have a long way to go and can't get there at all without Christ working in me, but I want to be a person who fights through bee stings and does not sit it out. There is a time for that, but being puffy eyed and looking ridiculous is no match for a ball coming at you and well, you need to hit it.

That's what you do. When a ball comes at you, you hit it. Bee sting or not.

I don't think I'm a hero for playing it out with the bee sting. My dad is more the hero in the story for believing in me that much that it stuck out to him when I certainly forgot about it after that day. But I think we have to celebrate victories. And if I could find the picture with my face three times its size that day to show you all, I would. You would love it.

Friends, please tell me a ridiculous story about you from high school...and show me pictures if you have them. Thanks.

linking for five minute friday on hero

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

For the love of sledding {Risk Rejection}

Did you hear of the Southern Winter Storm of 2014? If you live in the south and you have spent any time this week 'watching for snow' for hours on end, you know what I'm talking about.

My friend asked me to go sledding. I missed her call.

But, then she ended up at my door. She came with a cookie sheet.

They were all out of sleds.

For a split second, I was going to deny my never-been-sledding-before, walked-to-see-me-in-what-the-south-calls-a-snowstorm faithful friend.

But something told me just go already. Put on four layers of clothes and go out to the tiniest hill you've ever seen with the tiniest amount of snow you've ever seen if you're a northerner and have some fun.

I normally love fun, but with precautions. Is that an oxymoron? I once told my chiropractor that I have a longer list of things I won't do than things I will do, because I hate hate hate living in pain almost every day of my life.

Five seconds worth of fun never outweighs pain. It just doesn't.

The 5 second rule applied here.

I watched my friend topple over on her 11 x 8 pan. I was happy at the top of the hill.

I was not going down on a cookie sheet, so I was not going down at all.

But then the little kids next to us asked us to take a ride in their sled.

It was my chance to live a little more free, physically speaking. Why not, I thought? If they can do it, I can do it.

I decided to give up the 5 second rule for just long enough to slide down.

Sometimes you have to fake yourself out to get that thing done. Cause hills are meant for sliding.

* * *

This month has been full of risks about the size of the hill I sledded down today. And that's okay. Some of them have felt more like mountains though because in actually making the effort, I have had to overcome fears or try new things.  
What about you, brave risking friends, how has your month gone?

By the way, I forgot to show you some pictures from my cake baking adventure.

 cupcakes not yet frosted
to prove that I actually made them

Friend's dog playing with a toy cupcake. This was an awkward picture but I like it.

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney

Risk doesn't equal perfection, it equals movement.

Like down a hill?

P.S. This week I embraced risk by inviting a bunch of people over for the Super Bowl. It might be a giant fail because only one or two said they can come. But that's one or two people more than before I started.

And, I hope to share with them and you something that I learned about recently called The Halftime Challenge. Please take a minute to check it out and be an advocate in shedding light on human trafficking this month and beyond.

P.P.S. I'm so thankful for Amy and these ladies for a month of risk. May it not end here.

in case you missed weeks 1, 2, and 3!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Loosen the grip {Risk Rejection}

found you, night stars
on my film
all I see is one bright dot
amidst pure black


hopeless in room hope less
empty spaces
filled up with

floating by

the door is ajar

persistent yellow friends
you can't be tamed

fly away dandelion dust
 This week for #riskrejection, I decided to give myself permission to write free -- without rules or barriers and without feeling sorry for what came out of it. Sometimes I think my writing has to make sense to the world. And what results is years without doing something, like writing poems. So I thought I'd write -- and share a few with you.

I had lots of stories to tell you this week* -- because that's normally what I do. I tell stories because that's freeing, too, it lightens my load, and I want stories and laughter to lighten yours, too. But I'm realizing there's more to say.

It doesn't mean I won't tell you how my neighbors and I are planning a reality TV show, but today isn't that day. I kind of hoped today would be that day.

Today, taking a risk means loosening my grip on what my writing should look like.

Which in turn loosens my grip on what my life should look like.

Which is much scarier, somehow.

You know what I found out?

It's easier to tell you what makes me laugh than what makes me lose hope.
It's easier to speak of the light but I can't truly celebrate it unless I've unleashed the dark.
It's easier to tell you what I'm standing for than what I've had to fight for.

Might be obvious to you but it's a much needed reminder to me.

"We're all stumbling through the darkness.
No one can stay there and still make it through."

-"Good Light," Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
May you embrace Light today, friends. And may you know that's risky enough.

*I made the cake! All I could do was a cake from the box, friends, but at least I baked it, and my friend ate it, and I am going to share it with some other people because that's the point of cake. I haven't gotten arrested yet but I'm in no hurry. In fact, I'm okay if I don't. I'll just have to be creative in some other way. :)

Don't forget to see what Amy and friends are up to and give them some love. Any people who choose to embrace this kind of risk-living are my kind of people.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dreams and gardens and chickens

Last night, I had a dream.

Dreams usually encourage you. Usually.

Like the dream a man had a long time ago, who fought for freedom and justice and who we remember today. That was a big dream, a change the course of history dream.

I'm talking about the middle of the night dreams that wake you up wondering if they were real -- and you go back through and remember the characters and what they said -- because they are real people from your life, typically, if you're in my dreams.

In my dream, there were eight kids running around. I’ve only met six of them. The last two were born after I moved. They’re from my hometown.

I don’t talk about that place much.

There wasn't much I liked there. In fact, I hoped and prayed my family would move away when I was little. Most kids don’t pray to move away, usually.

Looking back, there was a lot of good in having the stability, in safe, comfortable, ride your bike anywhere kind of small town living. It was a pleasant place but I had trouble fitting in there.

It’s odd how it can take you years to feel comfortable in your own skin. I think about that the way I think about my dad who says I’m generally the same person I was at age four, or six, or eight. He says most people are, mainly. Of course, things change us. God changes us. But there’s things about how he created us that remain.

Sometimes I divide my life up into before North Carolina and after North Carolina. I don’t know your age or life situation, but this may be the case for you, too. Before and after kids, before and after marriage. Who knows. Distinct changes in our lives mark changes in our path, sometimes.

In the dream, I was seeing the family again. It had been awhile, for sure, and they were older now. The kids are spread out in age, and I tried to talk to the oldest boys like they are grown now. I tried not to let the middle ones get lost in the shuffle. I asked them if they remembered having a baseball team together, just all of them and me, in their back yard. I talked to the one girl out of the bunch, who told me she was 10 now, and it was a dream so I'm not sure that part is true. In my mind they are all under five years old and I’m thirteen and way too young to be so interested in babies.

But her mom was a friend of the family, my old teacher in fact, and with all those kids, she never turned down an extra hand.

It felt like another extended family. An extra set of cousins or siblings I got to watch grow up. And I loved getting practice at what I wanted to be when I grew up.

It’s scary talking about that on here because even then I would put it in a little box and tuck it away for someday. What are the chances that I could homeschool a baseball team of kids, find a husband who wanted to live in the country, have a big yard for playing with lots of trees for climbing, and a garden, and chickens?

There is a slight chance I have deviated from the plan. I’ve spent the last seven years living in a city, the last three or so years working in rougher neighborhoods doing mental health.

I think I'm starting to realize more and more, that everyone’s life is uniquely their own, and that you never know what the future will hold. Yet, sometimes a life you enjoy getting to know points to something deeper, not the need to replicate it completely.
Thank you, strange dream, for reminding me....

I like the slow pace. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve enjoyed living in the south.

I also like adventures and new experiences and city life. Maybe that’s why I’ve lived in a city.

I love kids. That’s why so many of my roles I've had have been surrounded by them. I can look to opportunities to love kids and be advocates for them and embrace where He’s put me now.

I like peace and quiet. Maybe that’s why I want to frolic in meadows and give my (imaginary) kids space to climb trees. This world is noisy, but I’m trying to find the balance of engaging in it for God’s glory and also realizing that He’s made me a certain way.
Everything doesn’t have to have symbolism. This isn’t high school English class. But I do think God encourages me and grows me through my dreams. And I do have a high school English class Q & A type question for you: have you ever let your childhood dreams come to life again, even if just to point to some things you forgot? 
linking for a very long and late five minute friday on encouragement

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carnvial wedding, circus wedding

I caught the end of Bridesmaids tonight. I've never seen it but as my life would have it, I flipped it on right as this girl was attempting to get pulled over/arrested to a talk to a cop. Even though this was one of my many 'theories' of awesome risks to take this month, I wasn't sure anyone would do it in real life (because clearly the movies mimic real life). Well, lo and behold, I was wrong.

Here's a clip from the movie to get you thinking about branching out a little bit.

"I'd like it to be like a carnival. People win prizes for guessing the bride's weight. Dunk tanks..."

"You could have elephants and the bride and groom could walk on a little tightrope."

"What you're talking about there, that's a circus wedding."

I won't spoil this love story for you, and I now need to watch the beginning to better understand the ending, but somehow it involves cake, policemen, and a possible (but not actual) warrant out for her arrest.

Let's just say it's great to see your ideas played out in the movies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Big Unknown Versus Chocolate Cake {Risk Rejection}

bake a cake

go on a blind date

approach a handsome stranger

get arrested in order to meet police officer who assisted me previously in my job

These were the ideas my good friend had when we were brainstorming risks. Because everyone plans their risks ahead of time, especially 'approaching a handsome stranger.'

Why are 3 out of 4 of these ideas likely to turn out awkward? Clearly, I decided to move on from them for now, at least from any that could put me in jail.

MEN: If I have to get arrested to meet you, that's just pushing it. Even for #riskrejection.

I haven't taken any major risks between my last post and this one. Instead, I had some unplanned adventures.

I was talking about this risk challenge the other day and someone mentioned there's a difference between risks that just happen to you and risks that form out of the posture of your heart.

What feels risky right now is being unemployed, which let me tell you, is a risk. It's a little more circumstantial than posture of the heart, though. I'm not sure who wakes up each morning and says, "YES! Another day to risk being homeless."

I'm just kidding, mostly. If it got down to it, I would have other options, and I'm thankful for that. But the whole posture of the heart thing is hard in some of these scenerios. I guess it has to do with aligning yourself so that you're open to the risk? Or trusting even when there's so.much.unknown.

Yeah, that makes me cringe and want to move on to cake.

Let's take a vote: figuring out the big unknown or baking a cake?

I choose cake. Chocolate cake, of course.*

*This might be a good risk for me. I've been trying to do more cooking/baking. Sorry if I'm making you hungry or if you wanted some, but since chocolate cures all problems, I might have to keep it for myself. I know, I know, where's the rejection? Desperate times, my friends.


thanks, Amy, for encouraging us all to #riskrejection and be part of something bigger and bolder than ourselves. Except for this week when I eat my cake.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Because Tire Marks are Fun to Talk About

All in one weekend, I had a migraine flare up, went to two urgent cares, and my wallet got run over by some cars, maybe not in that exact order. 

I'm not going to tell you that I lost the wallet in between the two urgent cares, in the middle of the confusion and headache. See, you shouldn't have asked, I'm not up for explaining all that right now. 

Did I tell you that God sent someone to retrieve my wallet, which was intact, despite being run over? Through the tire marks I saw his handprint on the whole thing and I share about it because I think it's important to tell stories about life and how God's grace is all over.

I often tell you the crazy stories that happen to me. Be assured that I have some normal days. A few. And there's probably something to learn on those days. But just not as much.

I'm constantly reminded that things don't make sense in this life, that even God's ways don't always make sense, and I'm trying to be okay with that. These events help me understand  -- slowly -- more about us all being broken and that everyday we run over each other and it leaves marks but we still remain intact, somehow, by God's grace.

Still, there's not a sweet message in every moment to moment thing. In fact, there's often tears.

I cried at the second urgent care which was a long story and thanks for not asking about it.

I cried with a girl I've known for awhile whose father is fighting for his life, and there were no right words, but at least I tried.

I cried a few short tears, a mixture of joy and pain, mostly joy but with the still-felt pain when my friend stopped by to bring me food when I was feeling so sick.

This was all in a week.

I don't cry all that much on the norm, but overtime, I've come to take notice of my tears, to what awakens my soul on a deep level, either by pain or joy. God does use both. But it doesn't mean the immediate isn't uncomfortable or hard.

Sometimes there's pain in the now and I know God will bring good, but what I need is not to jump right there. What I need then is to remember God with me. Christ brings good, but I don't have to reason myself there in the midst of it.

For when you feel a little wrung out and in need of hope:

What does pain teach you? What do you wish it didn't teach you?

Linking up with Ruth and Holley.
Come back later in the week for risk rejection to see if there's any risking going on -- unless I find a way around it. :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who do you think you are :: Risk Rejection

I'm not a fan of vulnerability overload.

I wonder today if vulnerability in doses is a better option. Ruth wrote about vulnerability hangover and I wonder if the tell tale signs are writing a second post the day after you write a vulnerable bare post as to pretend it never happened.

I am still not sure I like the word vulnerability -- or vulnerability hangovers. I like the word authentic better, but it's a personal preference.

Brene Brown says vulnerability is emotional risk -- which I know we all love love love, especially with possible perfect strangers.

To risk in this way means that we have to 'show up' to be being fully seen and heard. To respond to God in what he has and is doing in our lives. Sometimes, so he can continue to move through us.

Today, risk taker, I pray vulnerability doesn't overload you as much as it gently welcomes you, as much as it lets you know it's okay to be all of who you are and let God welcome you there, too. This prayer is for me, too.

Last night, I read a little of Emily Freeman's A Million Little Ways before bed. Oh, how God knew right where I was. I opened the book and here's what it said:

::This final statement could be the most powerful force keeping us from showing up. It is really more of a question, though I believe it sits in our heads like a dark fact: Who do you think you are?

When you finally show up, you will hear this question whisper dark words into your soul. When you are on the verge of discovery, on the edge of risk, when you're ready to take the next step toward influence -- this question will come out of nowhere, asking, who do you think you are?"

Emily says we must pay attention to where we are when we hear it. It only comes when we are on the verge of risk.

Who do you think you are to write that, speak that, choose that, be that?

I would never write in books as I read them (just kidding, I love to do that ). I wrote this in the margins at the end of the chapter a few weeks ago, because I read different parts out of order sometimes.

It's important to share your belovedness
Be gracious
Be loved*

Even though we might know it, why can it still be so hard? Why do we need these reminders all the time?

Let us live loved and be kind to one and other as we share are belovedness with the world.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Have No Title For This

This is the year to get real.

And squirm a little.

A group of us are linking up for risk rejection. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

As Boring As New Carpet

Baby, it's  cold outside...

It's cold everywhere. And my hair is wet. I have to leave in 20 minutes. Nothing urgent. Doctor's appointment. But still. I don't want to experience icicle hair so I have five minutes for writing this and ten minutes for grooming (my hair is thick!) and five more minutes for bundling up. We will see how well this time management strategy works.

I always get inspiration at the wrong times.

Like last night. When I was cold and wasn't sure if my heat was working right. 

It's all good, don't worry, there are people who live outside who have it much worse, but I discovered last night when the temps got colder than they have in a long, long time in NC that a fear of mine might be freezing to death.

Time check. I'm down to three minutes.

I had so many important things to talk about today, I promise. Sometimes I feel like my life is interesting and then I read your blog posts and you chart out your days like champs and right now I am unemployed (who loves mental health?!) and I feel like all I have to show for myself some days is a new thermostat (thank you very much maintenance guy who had to see me in my pajamas) and new carpet. The new carpet was last year though. But I still like it and want to vacuum it everyday. I think I will go vacuum it right now.

I'm out of minutes.

my computer just froze. 

It's not just cold outside, apparently.

OH, and I didn't even tell you the important thing of the day.

I am blogging with friends this month about risk and rejection.

(Don't you like how I squeeze that in there at the end?)

I am so out of time. I can't even tell you how sorry I am that I can't talk about how much I love risk and how much I adore rejection. Guess you'll have to stop by Thursday to find out more.

Linking here

Friday, January 3, 2014

'Cause I'm Good at Fighting...

"The kids..they told me they are good at fighting...That's what they know. And they are good at it." -Words from my counseling supervisor about many of the youth we serve

This was shocking to me at first, but quickly made sense when I saw that he wasn't kidding.

What are you good at?

Math, writing, music?


I don't advocate violence whatsoever. My job has existed to help kids come up with alternatives so they can stay in school, stay at home, and find better ways and still be safe.

I don't even like to watch violence on TV. I still have bad dreams when I do. My brain can't take gunshots and blood, apparently.

But I've met the kids who hear real gunshots before they go to bed and bleeding has become a norm because they are good at fighting. They have learned to fend for themselves and sometimes that means they fight.

It's easier to ignore it. It's easier to watch it on TV.

I promise you for the last three years I am the last person you'd pick to help the ones in such situations. Sometimes you do things and later you realize you were the odd ball out, but you kept going back anyway.

My job rarely made sense (even to me) because there was often no resolution.

We crave things that make sense. Situations that get better. No more fighting.

Will it ever change? Will they ever lose their need to be strong? Will survival ever get easier?

I want the kids to grow up to see a better tomorrow.

I want them to know they are more than their ability to fight. But I've learned...not to diminish that they can...

Linking with Five Minute Friday again