Why the table, the forgiveness, and the younger living

img_4383“I’m just saying, I wouldn’t tell my kids they can’t do something outside my home that they wouldn’t do in front of me. So, if they want to drink, they can drink in front of me first. If they want to try something like drugs, well, I hope they won’t… but if they do, they can try them at home first. That way, they won’t be so tempted to run off and do things away from home just because they can’t do that thing at home. You’ve got to give kids the chance to try stuff, or they’ll just try anyway, but without your knowledge.”

I’m paraphrasing a little. Words spoken aren’t always remembered word for word. But that’s the gist of the conversation.

I looked deep into the brave, young eyes of the speaker, a brand new guest in my home, and someone new and dear to my child. I sat listening as my parenting skills were challenged.

A year later, those words were still rubbing hard against the sore spot left from four years of trial by fire. Four years the beloved child lived addicted to drugs. We had been the parents who just said no. No to drinking. No to smoking. No to drugs. And while we were at it, no to tattoos too. For Heaven’s sake, just no to anything that might steal our beloved children from us.

I’ve lived as the child and the sister of the addicted. I’ve lived the years of secreting away my own addictions. And then, after all those years, I’d stood face to face with my own addiction in order to stand toe to toe with my child’s. I’ve run that race, fought that good fight, and walked out of the darkness of addiction. And I’m stronger for it.

Yet, here in my living room, sat this young soul face to face with me, angry, hurt, and implying accusation. Wanting to convey a message. I should have done things differently.

That evening, a little over a year ago now, I sat quietly, acknowledging the condemnation. The lecturer finished and I smiled, said something unmemorable, and the awkward conversation came to a stumbling end.

For most of the last year, that conversation swirled around me, questioning my parenting skills and numbering my mistakes. The early beginnings of a list of things I’d like to say to my kids began taking shape in my mind. In fact, if you look back from this post, the lists are found here in the pages. And there are more lists to come, but today, the fourth day of a new year, I wanted to say something–to myself. And maybe one day to the young soul.

You didn’t sit at the table.

That table is why I have this blog now, but I didn’t even know that myself until a cold day just this past December when your words came to mind again, loud, accusing, rattling around inside my brain. And that’s when the realization crept in slow, like a low fog rolling in, covering a multitude of hurt and angry regrets… You didn’t sit at the table.table blog pic

See, after those agonizing years of a loved child’s addiction, and while our loved child went through a year long program of addiction recovery, our family gathered around a table alongside others who were hurting just the same. We were those who currently or in the past had personally battled life controlling issues, or we loved someone who did. We shared the ache. We spoke honestly about the fear, the hurt, the anger, and the hate. We were honest about our pasts. We laid bare our souls, took off our masks, and bled out from our fractured hearts of pain and regret. We left everything at the table. Everything.

But you weren’t there. We didn’t know you then.

Even the loved child was in the recovery program miles and miles away and couldn’t join us at the table. So, no one’s told you the stories of the table. No one’s shared with you stories from the weeks of soul baring moms, dads, and almost grown children. So, for your year-old, bravely spoken words of admonition, young soul, I can only extend grace, because you don’t know about the table.

It’s been a month worth of days gathering forgiveness for the young soul. Love came from the ruins of my hurt and anger. Forgiveness is the gardener of blessings.

I’m slowly moving on from those years of reliving and questioning decisions we made in the child rearing years. I’ve quickly moved on from reckoning with a year of pondering my own aging. And now I’m moving on to brighter things. Better choices. Healthier living. Younger living. If you stay with me, you’ll see the difference here on the pages. At least, I hope you do. We’re into Young Living around here nowadays. but truly, we’re just in to living younger.

Thank you for joining me at this table. It’s a place we gather. We’re honest here. We’re bold, we’re tender, but most of all, we give grace here.

God bless- more next time.table

The hard honesty and the harder thank you’s

There Is A Cloud – Elevation Worship.  The hard thank you’s rolled through my mind last night displacing complaints. Somewhere I learned to expect more. By fifty-two, isn’t there more? Wisdom. Understanding. Grace, at the least? And all things financial. I’ve worked almost every year since age nineteen. Shouldn’t I be successful by now? Shouldn’t I be living my dream life? Working my dream job?

My surroundings don’t inspire awe, and in fact, often cause me to wonder what I’m even thinking. My thoughts chase me down the rabbit hole, and I get a glimpse of the small girl I left behind–the one whose princess and castle dreams went sideways in one dark moment. Her pain ruled the kingdom of my mind far too long. But there I am again. The blame. The guilt. The fault surely my own. And all this dream I’m not living — the confirmation of condemnation.

Since laying down old hurt and painful sin, the old mindset, I no longer chase after or run from childhood things. The pain has healed. The scars have faded. But sometimes, there’s this feeling like regret that tells me I’ve messed up too much, and as a result, I’ve missed out.

The “if’s” came to visit and all my failures were tallied and calculated. I’ve gone to bed weary in spirit. Maybe I am a failure. Maybe I will never be enough. Shortcomings play reel to reel in my mind worsening with the passage of days until bone-tired and soul-aching, I admit defeat. I’m worn. I confess I’m not enough. The judge and jury are surely right. I’ve failed. Over and over. I haven’t achieved all, accomplished all, conquered all, and I’m aging, so I’m daily running out of time.

Midnight crawls round the face of the clock, and I’m soul searching, but not for more of me. I’m searching for the words that whispered into my spirit earlier in the day, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” I’m struck with the comparison to the taunting voice in my mind.

I close my eyes and give thanks for the roof over my head. For the dry floor and dry walls sheltering me in my flooded state. I give thanks for the job and thanks for the family. Thanks for things great and small. I list the hard thank you’s for the things and times that I struggle to appreciate. Without planning, without contemplation, but with the simple innocence of gratitude, I deny the voice of condemnation and open the door to conviction.

Conviction always displaces condemnation.

We are not the sum of our accomplishments and failures. Success is not our measure. We are not our past. We are not held by our sin or by the sin committed against us. We are the forgiven. We are the loved. We are the saved. In Christ, we are the made new.

Sleep came somewhere in the middle of the thank you’s. Rest for the weary soul. The song above came on an early morning Instagram moment posted by a friend. Balm for the ache. The song below, my warrior cry this new day and in the days to follow.

“I will only sing your praise.”

God bless.

More next time.

Hillsong United – Even When It Hurts

After eight pounds of water are multiplied times thousands

The flood waters have all but receded in this part of Texas. Businesses, homes, and churches are marked with water lines like scars. The massive flooding left behind a testimony to the power of water. Cars on the side of the road with boats still attached, but flipped over. Thirty-something feet long Class A motor homes tossed about like toys or left bobbing in lakes. Kitchen appliances floating through doorways three grown men could barely squeeze them through on a moving day. “One gallon of water weighs eight pounds” my husband says in reply to my awe. One gallon. Eight pounds.

With all this water flooding in, I’ve been thinking about that person in Psalm 1:3 who is a like a tree planted by streams of water. The water I’ve seen weigh in with destruction and upended lives doesn’t appear to reflect biblical words. But maybe streams of water aren’t always beautiful. Maybe there are times when water washes away everything we think we hold dear and forces us out of our comfortable places. Eight pounds multiplied by thousands. We’re moved. And everyone around us takes notice.

Tonight’s the night after the highs and the lows. Our lives have been altered by the storm. We’ve weathered more in two weeks than we will the rest of the year. At least we hope so. We’re worn. The after has set in: that certain kind of introspective depression that follows a destructive hurricane. It’s in the calm, gentle breeze and the sunshine shadowed by the devastation. Two sides of a coin and we see both at once. Our lives feel lived in retrospect.

As I close my eyes, I’ll repeat verses from Psalm 1 over and over until sleep takes me. I’ll remember the floods and the mess. I’ll think of Florida and the Caribbean. I’ll remember fire devastated states right along with our water weary. I’ll be keeping so many in my prayers tonight.

Psalm 1:1-3  

1 Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

Being the hands and feet when waters rise 

Flood waters rose in Southeast Texas almost two weeks ago. If, like me, you’ve never stepped foot in a flooded home, then let me tell you what you don’t know. First, wear old, rubber shoes. You’re going to throw the disgusting things away when you leave. Second, I have one word for you–mask. As in, cover the nose and mouth. The smell combined with the dust will make you want to run away. Last, wear glasses,  even if, like me, all you have are sunglasses, or like my friend,Vanissa, reading glasses. Old, wet sheetrock dust burns your eyes. Wear some clothes you won’t mind depositing in the trash, and you’re all set.

I sound like I’m complaining, and I’ll be honest, my back is killing me. My feet hurt. My aches ache. But I’m smiling, and I can’t seem to quit. In the midst of a really tough couple of weeks, I got to see hope, faith, and love in action every single day.

There were disagreements, yes. There was out and out arguing, yes. There was worry-there still is. There was fear-there still is. You don’t lose everything you’ve ever worked for, get some help, and wake up the next day with all the world right again. We have close friends who need homes. We have family members who need cars. People in our towns are being fed and clothed through donations. Just because we spent a week, a day, or a few hours helping, doesn’t mean the work is done.

This storm, this time, many of us go back to work tomorrow. Our days return to a routine. And for so many more in our community, they also return to work or school tomorrow. But after, they go back to a temporary bed and a home in need of repair. 

We can’t stop. We’re tired, but they’re more tired. So, be ready. Do the hard thing.

Preaching to myself. 

Go. Just show up. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

When waters rise and we learn an awful lot about letting go

This has been a hard day. My family is in the Hurricane Harvey zone of southeast Texas, and we spent the entire day cleaning out a flooded home. The Entire Day. I still smell the stench of rotten food, wet carpet, and the mud.

Water soaked four to five feet high of everything. The ground. The furniture. The walls. We set mildew covered shoes out to dry, and I thought about yesterday when I stopped to tell a total stranger how sorry I was about his apartment flooding. That man shook my hand and thanked me for caring. Simply for caring. I still tear up remembering.

But today, I lost a little of myself. And now I’m dealing with that left over bad taste of anger that somehow mingles with regret and makes you feel a little sick inside. So here I am, and I don’t even know you, but I need to tell you something anyway. See, we’ve come around this table. We’ve come here to a common place, and I hope you’ll bear with me.

I lost it today. We salvaged what we could from the flooded house. And then we salvaged water ruined things. The unsalvageable, the irreparable, the soon to be molded and mildewed. (Is that even a word?)

Yesterday, I spent all day traveling around the area, seeing home after home with piles of debris. I kept trying to fathom how you lay all your hard earned possessions at the curb, water soaked and ruined, and just walk away. Then, I spent today arguing with someone who needed to and wouldn’t.

Neither day felt right. I have this ache inside spreading slow though my veins. The grief for their loss. The heartbreak over my angry words. I’ve spent a week distraught over what others have lost and in one day, I’ve demanded that someone see reason, let it all go, and walk away. Turns out, for some, it really isn’t all that easy. It isn’t just stuff and those two benign sounding words are cruel.

I’m wishing hard this were someone else’s post, someone else’s day. I had expected to feel good about our labor today. Instead, I’m sore body, heart, and soul.

Floods take away more than stuff; floods take away pride, possessions, comfort, and memories. Floods leave behind ground that needs to be found again, turned over, and revived. It turns out that getting to the good ground is the real labor, and the stuff is the harvest of previous labor.

Tomorrow we’ll try again with the pulling out and packing up. Tomorrow I will find myself. I’ll apologize. I’ll extend grace. And I’ll quietly pray for the flooded out to find the ability to throw out and start again.