4.10.2014

a white flag moment




It's been said, and I've been offended by it -- 
that snarky jab by people saying: 

"Jesus is a crutch."

while I've barked back and stood firm on what strong faith I have -- such an oh-so-righteous and unshakeable faith -- I realized, maybe He is.  


Maybe He is something I lean on, and carry around in order to keep me steady.  

Maybe He is a name I call on when I don't have the answer.  


Maybe He is a tool I use to appear like I have it all together.  



///// 

I'm accepting this revelation, but rather than thinking that I've been just been leaning on a Savior, I actually feel like I haven't been doing His Grace any justice at all.  

Because, if we're gonna go there and say my Lord is a crutch, then let's go all the way there.



/////
Using this logic, I must accept that He's my stretcher, too.  The vessel by which my broken body and warped spirit are carried away and given first response.

And then He's my IV.  A slow drip of truth and grace delivering continuous healing, hope and rejuvenation into the devastated places of my mind and heart.  Take this away and it's only a matter of time before I'm right back to the infections of cheap thrills, a know-it-all attitude and subtle hate.. dehydrated by empty words like "that's just who I am."

He's my surgeon, for real--a mighty hand which slowly, lovingly and creatively carves away pride, judgment, and pain.  With a double-edged sword He divides the bits of my being, scrapping the worldly thoughts, insecurities, simple consciousness and anything else that leaves me appearing "familiar."

People, He's my lifelong prescription-taken on an empty stomach, revealing just how quickly He can alter my comfort when nothing else is in the way.  It's a medicine which clears the poison and makes room for life.



/////
I can't tell you how many times I laughed at Christians while I was an atheist, saying they were the weakest people on earth, completely crazy--


sheeple.  

I couldn't understand how they could just follow ritual for a make-believe God and place their trust in that same entity.

Now, I can't even begin to summon these past emotions enough to efficiently speak on them, because that girl is completely altered, folks.  That mindset was "mine" but it is being dissolved.

And the truth is, I don't want to remember what that was like.  I don't want to go back there, even if only for the sake of an accurate retelling.  I don't want to put myself back in that place where I thought I knew it all and could single-handedly fulfill my every need.

All I want is to know that the fear, anxiety and insecurity that once consumed me is on its way out, but I'm not equipped to perform such deep heart work.  I'm not selfless enough, compassionate enough or even strong enough.


But, Jesus.. 
/////
Just as I watched the people in my life change after they received Christ, I too began to change.  Some saw it, some didn't want to see it.  For the most part, however, there was a newness in my life.  I broke old habits.  I formed new ones.  I found healing.  I had comfort.  I knew hope.

I ultimately became the most strong I've ever been by simply laying down everything 

and accepting the weakness of my flesh.  





My white flag is still flying.  

My Savior is my crutch.  



Thank God He is.


3.20.2014

i quit my job today


'tis true.

After more than twenty years of hard work in the same field I have decided it is time to close that chapter of my life and move forward.  It’s a chapter I’ve truly invested in, whether with time, energy or emotion.  It’s a place where I’ve found comfort and consistency, but also pain and instability.  I’ve worked tens of thousands of hours to succeed, and have not once been celebrated for my achievements.  

And I’m beginning to understand why.


/////
You see, for the past twenty years or so I have worked as a sort of Image-Management Specialist.  Though this is a title I have made up, it’s actually a very common job.

My duties have included:

  • Being overly aware of the emotions around me and striving to single-handedly manage those emotions.
  • Aiming to conform to whatever group I was part of, in order to “fit in” or “people please.”
  • Switching on my few Type A abilities in order to appear that I “have it all together.”
  • Managing distances between people in order to control just how much they knew about me, and ultimately eliminating the need to be vulnerable with everyone.
  • Numbing myself to my true feelings and just “going along with everything.”
  • Shaming myself into believing that whatever pain I felt was self-induced and my “karma.”
  • Obsessively controlling things like my diet, medical decisions, theologies and practices so that I could somehow claim certainty in an unexplainable world.
  • Hiding my emptiness behind a “carefree” attitude.
  • Hiding my sadness behind an “independent” facade.


My time in this field of "image work" has been fascinating.  I've learned to frame messages, craft excuses, control my tone and even eliminate my entire belief system from an encounter, if needed.  

I did this in order to help the other people in that encounter be as comfortable as possible.  In my mind, I was doing right.  I was delivering the message best suited for them, accommodating their emotions, and even breaking a commitment without appearing rude or disinterested.  I spoke gently though I raged inside.  I agreed while my heart told me otherwise.

And while I walked away from some encounters knowing I had done what was right, more times than not I realized I had just sold one more irretrievable piece of my spirit.  

Before I was 25 I had worn away any softness I once carried and wrestled with more physical and emotional struggles than a young girl should have. (and lost the better part of them)  This, of course, further hardened my heart and I had a decision to make:  break it open and work it out, or continue to live this way.  


Well, emotional work takes vulnerability and authenticity;
a couple things I wasn't ready to embrace.

So I decided that I could survive.. 
as long as I never let anyone on to how I was really feeling.  


/////
Imagine living like that.  Constantly aiming to conform and subdue the self in order to best be “happy.”  Imagine putting your own thoughts and feelings on hold because you are convinced they are just too much for other people, or simply not enough, for that matter.  This is where I have lived for too long.  

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am crazy blessed to have the life I have.  But more days than not I find myself impeding my own joy and wondering when it will all come crashing down.  When I chose to survive, I also chose to believe things like “I deserve pain, not happiness” or “I’ve messed up too much to experience joy” or “I have only been given this joy in order to have it taken away.”  It's the very voice of pain.  I still didn't want to do the work to release it so I learned to manage it.  

For example, when we are getting ready to go out of town, or out-of-towners are coming in, I prepare and organize and plan, but not for the benefit of the experience.. I do this in order to survive the experience.   

Years of image-work has left me feeling inadequate, lacking, low and defeated.  Before a moment even arrives I'm already filled with anxiety because rather than live and enjoy the moment, I must work through it.  While I put on a happy face and meet the experience with pleasance, behind that is a girl who is screaming to just be loved and accepted for the mess that she truly is.  

Maybe I am, but decades of living on defense leaves little room to see that possibility.  


/////
My decision was to keep up and never let anyone see me break.  Well, all that “keeping up” will fall apart soon, and I am just strong enough to admit that I’m not strong enough to handle a collapse like that.  

So I quit.  

I quit trying to make others believe I’m ok when I’m not.  I quit trying to speak and act and appear just right in order to please the people around me.  I quit attempting perfection.  I quit wishing I was better, or prettier, or smarter or more cultured.  

If I stop it all right now and just turn in the completely opposite direction, I can live.  

Live from my heart, my emotion, my loved places.  Live for my family, my beliefs and my  own goodness.  Live for who I am, not to become what anyone else wants me to be. 

If I quit now I can discover talents and gifts that I possess, talents and gifts that couldn’t surface while I wore masks.  

If I quit now, I can just be the only person I was ever supposed to be; myself.


/////
It is a dangerous walk down a thin line between “practicing etiquette” and eroding the self, and I didn't discover which side I was on until it was close to too late.

If you happened to resonate with any of my “duties”, take it as a sign that perhaps, you and I have worked in the same department and just never met until now.  Take this as my call to you to let your mask down and claim freedom.  

Take this opportunity to reach out to someone you know is stuck in such a cycle and remind them that you believe in who they are and what they have to offer this world.  The sooner we begin to embrace our deepest identity, imperfections and all, the sooner we can embrace humanity in general.  




I quit... 
and if you come with me, 
this will be the moment of something new, and fun, 
and inspiring.. 

And we will do it together. 

So... who's coming with me?



(yes.. a wee bit of Jerry Maguire's monologue up there ;)

3.12.2014

baby, i'ts cold outside... again!


snowday number whatever

but yesterday I had the sunroof open

it's midwest living at its finest

i'm earning my stripes, that's for sure





this is a picture from our backyard, which i snagged in late summer after we moved in.
once these beauties and their friends are free, i'd like to know how what to do with them.

we have a lot of lovely landscaping to care for,
so i plan to be googling "gardening, after the thaw" today.




what's your plan for the day at home?

2.23.2014

adventures in bookbinding



at the end of December I was desperate for a project.

my sewing machine is still buried from the move,
and my knitting needles kind of broke in the middle of a sweater, 
slowing down that project.

so i googled "bookbinding"
and set to work on creating this.

my 2014 journal


  
i used whatever i had on hand to begin:
computer paper
cardboard
hammer and nail
crafter's glue
old fabric
quilting thread

i only purchased a bone folder (to ensure a beautiful crease) 
and the inside cover paper.

i've never been a big chevron person,
but this paper just screamed at me


my binding was pretty solid, 
though I failed to add the key piece of fabric 
that allows the pages to open flat


so it looks like this


and hand-sewing all those signatures 
was a pain in the place-we-do-not-speak-of


so my edges look like this


but i did nail the cover, which i was most concerned with.
i covered the cardboard with posterboard to "erase" the ripples,
then wrapped and glued the fabric.

and with a bit of extra fuss over what seemed like a lost cause,
i managed to get that groove down the spine..
the groove that made this thing look like a real book

i kind of love her :)



have you ever tried bookbinding?  
what did you find was most difficult, or worth doing differently the next time around?  


2.17.2014

is it april, yet?


the morning sky is lovely, yes, but i'm beginning to fall apart inside of this house, under layers of clothing.

anyone else?

i just want iced tea and an open window.  i've started cooking summer-like dinners and trying to wear more color.  but it's been a struggle to just keep thinking this way, let alone act like it.  

what are you doing to survive the last leg of winter?


2.11.2014

eli's birth story, part 2 -- Happy Birthday Eli!!!

Since I'd been laboring so long I was immediately a cautionary patient.  My water hadn't broken and so they did that for me to get things moving.  They also hooked me up to some Pitocin.  All things I didn't want but this was such a long labor that they were worried about the stress on him.  Understandable, considering the last 48 hours.  Amanda also said that she felt it was necessary so I was happy to accept the interventions.  After all, we had seriously done Everything to get him to move around and get labor going.



Well into the few hours of labor in the hospital, his heart-rate started to decelerate, which did not make the staff happy.  I'd be in the middle of a contraction and they would tell me to move this way or that way to stabilize his heart-rate and I couldn't get up and move quickly because of the pain.  So I opted for the lowest dose of an epidural to be able to move on demand, and also keep the pains of the Pitocin contractions down so I could get some sleep before pushing.  I no sooner than dozed off when the docs were in for the first time because of a major deceleration.  I moved as directed to take the pressure off the cord or move him in such a way that it would increase again.  But they continued as the contractions grew stronger, and he was still presenting himself in a posterior, almost transverse way on my cervix.  After the collective hours which added up to days of labor, we all agreed that his body just wasn't strong enough to handle the contractions needed to continue with a natural delivery.  I was sad, of course, but more worried of going further.  So surgery happened, and luckily I did not need complete anesthesia since the epidural was in place.  They just turned it up and proceeded and I got to wheel back to my room with him in my arms.  We got hooked up to our antibiotics, met our nurse, and then he latched on and ate like a champ *smile*


The rest is pretty self-explanatory..






During surgery I lost around two pints of blood, so that was a freak out moment.  Thomas held Eli next to me and kept me calm as I shook profusely from the shock of losing that much blood.  The medical conclusion was that the long labor put so much strain on me that I had developed and infection.  I developed a high temperature during surgery, as well as experienced the blood loss, and so we camped out for a few nights.  But by the time we got back to the apartment, it was a very easy transition from bright lights and a lumpy bed to the warm glow of home sweet home.










Ok, and since I love you all so much, I guess I'll leave you with the glorious belly shots;  The belly shots.  I was wearing approximately 51 pounds in these pictures.  My final weigh in came in at 52lbs and that was 9 days after these pictures were taken.




He was one hefty little prince, 
and a heck of a workout to get him here, 
but worth every bit of it.

2.10.2014

eli's birth story, part 1




Our Story.  The play-by-play of how we arrived.

You have one.  You've likely heard it a few times.   


It's our mother's battle cry.. 
the moment she morphed from woman to warrior 
and graced the world with our presence.  


Some tell it loudly, some cry, some laugh.  

But it's told, and it's a sensational moment.




Though we may giggle at our mothers' crazy replay of the day we arrived, we learn as we go why it is that way.  Especially after having one or four of our own...  

Because now we get it.  We can understand the urgency, the shock, and the flood of emotion.  Here we are doing life, and then labor just hits.  And when that first contraction comes, the one that sets you on the couch with your lips pursed and hand to the belly.. time as you know it ends.




You are literally taken up out of the current plane of existence and transported to another realm of living and breathing.  

You can smell and hear and feel everything.  

You are a woman of incredible strength and focus.  

You don't even need a watch because those hours and minutes really do not matter at the moment.  

Time is measured by the kicks and adjustments of your baby.  

Day and night are determined by the drawing of the curtains, or a nudge to have a breakfast food or dinner food.  

Consciousness is dialed in and out by tender kisses from your love and patient pats on the back by your midwife.

It happens in an instant, and somehow we are ready.



Somehow we need hours to get ready for work, 
physically and mentally, 
but only that one pivotal second at the end of gestation 
to be ready for bringing forth life.  
It's incredible..



Birth stories really are the fossil of a moment in time.  So much more than a memory in that they are literally embedded in the physical parts of a woman's body.  Not that memories are any less valuable or  captivating, but there is a very special chemistry that is a part of labor and delivery, regardless of the means by which your child enters the world, and it sticks with you forever.

So, Eli's birth story follows

Again, I was not the one to creatively describe the moments of Eli's arrival.  I enjoy reading the statistical countdowns just as much as the emotional ride akin to astral projection that some women provide.  Regardless of how it comes out, it'll never be for any reader what it was for the Mother.  So I leave you with Part 1 of a basic overview of the most amazing moment in my life.

I hope you enjoy ~


I started feeling contractions and deep back pain Friday afternoon, February 5.  I canceled the massage I was scheduled that night, the last one to do before maternity leave, since it was the most debilitating pain I'd felt up until that time and the contractions actually took my focus and attention completely.  They went away that night, and resumed on Saturday, my due date.  We walked the mall and ran errands and they were strong again, but went away that night.  Same thing Sunday...off and on.  Monday was pretty chill until that night.

I barely slept, and woke up Tuesday and starting timing contractions that were 10-12 minutes apart.  They continued without stopping so I called our midwife Amanda.  She said to call when they were 4-5 apart and we did around midnight.  I labored all Wednesday and progressed to 7cm.  He was in a wonky position though, and Amanda was sure that, until he turned and made a good solid contact with my cervix, we were going to remain in back labor and move very slow.  

So we tried moving him, got me in and out of different positions, hit the shower, laid in the pool, napped and squatted and sat on the ball.  Still, labor would kick in, halt, kick in and halt again.  

Going into Thursday morning, the 11th, I hadn't progressed much further so she suggested a transfer to better monitor him and hopefully use mild induction methods to get us going.  Of course this was a bit disheartening because I was intending to have him at home.  However, with all good thoughts and prayers, a clear mind and a desire to deliver safely above all other things, we headed to U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor.  


It was the ride of my life;  huge contractions in the car.... in a snowstorm.  



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