I’m a Bit of a Fixer Upper

I often don’t understand the way life plays out. I don’t guess I’m alone in this state of ignorance. For instance, this very second…it’s 1:33am. I can’t sleep, despite exhaustion. I’m sitting straight upright in a recliner propped up by a million pillows. I can’t move without assistance & when I do, it causes immeasurable pain. Like a 53 on a scale of 1-10. The day after Christmas I slid down the stairs & broke 2 ribs. Doing absolutely nothing. Just walking down them after waking up. One minute I’m taking a step, the next I feel a rib crack & I’m at the bottom~ immobile. Had to call the ambulance. I suppose this is not the most awful thing that could have happened-according to the nurse. She said “thank goodness it wasn’t a concussion.” Well, I’ve had those before. Sure they are irritating but nothing like this. That rib I felt snap? Feels like it’s stabbing my kidney every time I try to move so it’s sends me into pirate mode. It’s broken friend just makes breathing not so easy. Doesn’t tickle but it’s not stabbing me.

Oh, maybe I should also mention that the reason I think I fell so dramatically is because 2 weeks ago, I was chasing a little critter at church. He stopped, I couldn’t. I scooped him up & barrel rolled. Breaking my elbow. Yup. My elbow. No cast there either. Just misery. Ps. Thankfully he is fine. Although I now see that broken elbow was like tiptoeing through cotton candy compared to this rib thing. Not that I am recommending either scenario. But, in order to protect my broken elbow, as I tumbled down the stairs, I twisted left, bruising & breaking things along the way.

I’ve got a touch of clumsy. Always have. Funny thing is I JUST had a conversation with someone who said I need to understand this is not who I am. Well. That’s difficult. Today anyways.

Sitting here with a fractured radial head (elbow) & two broken ribs-each on opposite sides of my body, rendering me almost incapable of most functionality, I’m struggling to see the good in this. I’m hobbling to the restroom. After 10-15 minutes, I hobble back out. And no, it’s not because of the “business” inside. It just takes that long to get through the process. I was at least showering with the elbow. Now I’m using dry shampoo & no rinse washcloths. (Don’t get too close for a while.) TMI-I currently have to go to the bathroom but since everyone is asleep, I can’t go. I tried to get up but I can’t. Also, it’s time for an 800 mg ibuprofen but I need food. I don’t have any so it will make me throw up. I sit here exhausted, need to pee & in pain but depending upon others for every little necessity of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT complaining about my help. I’m still living with my sister & her family. They are amazing. She’s a nurse so that helps a lot. Her hubby left work to come home to take care of getting me off the floor. When he got there though, that couldn’t happen so he called 911 & met me at the Er. So did my sister. My niece & nephews have made me lunch, fed my fish, cleaned his tank, brought me drinks, helped me up & even sleep in the same room so I’m not alone.

My church framily has brought meals & has them scheduled out till next week. They brought a walker to assist me getting up & down. Offering anything I can think of & driving 45 minutes to deliver it. My mom & other sister will be over later today to visit.

I’m definitely loved & supported in ways many people never get to feel or see in their own lives. I’m not bragging. But I know that I am immeasurably blessed in the areas it matters most-love & people.

So what’s my point in this blog? I don’t know. Venting? I’m irritated. Hugely irritated. I don’t like to be down, I don’t like to be dependent, I definitely don’t like to hurt every time I move.

But that’s probably not really my point. I think if I am to be the faith based crazy bible banger that I claim to be, I need to include what I think the spiritual side of this could be. Oh that’s pretty big. Lol. Sooooo many things.

How about first, I don’t think it’s ALL about me? I know. I wish everything was but truthfully, it just isn’t. Lol. Maybe, God is using this opportunity to show others what HIS love looks like on earth. Maybe He pushed me down the stairs…JUST KIDDING. But seriously. Maybe this is a chance to show others what BEING His church looks like.

Secondly, back to me. I’m stubborn. Like a mule. Maybe I wasn’t picking up what He was trying to get me to see. Oh. Hello! I’m awake. I’m listening now. Please tell me & let’s move past this. Miraculously fix these suckers & let me get back to life. Maybe I need some one on one time with God. Maybe I need to be in deep prayer for someone or something. I don’t know yet but I am spending time with him at every chance I get.

Thirdly, also me. (Everything is not ALL about me but they are MY ribs so likely MY lessons.) I’m the leader of a ministry that serves others in their times of need. I’ve never experienced what my incredible team is capable of doing. Mostly because I refused. 😬 But this time, I caved. I said ok to being loved on. And let me tell you-I don’t like it. Oh I love it. But I hate it. I want to be the one serving. I don’t want to be served. My team, my church, is SOooooooo generous, loving, genuine, remarkable. The love & relationships are unlike any I have ever known. These people show up! Walking the walk that Jesus directs us to walk. Since I have a need, they began texting immediately to help. Saying yes was so hard I actually tried to cry. (Painful.) But it has also been so amazing to see these people give up their time, talents, finances, & gas to bring me dinner. I’m a solid 40-45 minutes away, yet that hasn’t been an issue. Not one person has said that I’m too far away. No one has said good luck with that. They have mentioned putting me in a shell of bubble wrap. Can’t argue that. See, my support system is strong. Still. After years of being part of this church, as we grow, it doesn’t become less intimate. It doesn’t lose sight of what is important. It creates bigger circles of relationship. It loves more people in the places they are. It’s generosity becomes contagious & I am grateful for my team. I love their hearts, their refusal to say no. I love that we say “Yes!” & figure out the details later if it means we love & serve outside of the box.

So that’s where my life is-literally broken. In fact, this post was made possible by my voice to text. Lol. Corrections are one thing. Typing a bunch is another.

What am I going to do now? Duh. Spend time with the big guy upstairs. He’s pushing me down stairs to get my attention, I better give him some time so I don’t end up in a coma. I’m totally teasing. But I am going to keep listening. Clearly I need to hear something.

Love your uglies. Embrace your support system. Thank them for being the best & putting up with your crazy. But don’t forget, you are also that person for others. So allow me to thank YOU for your generosity & heart for your people. Take them a meal, buy them a cup of coffee, send them a text. Just reach out. It matters.

Not My Truths

As a leader in my church, I take a serious pause in sharing my own personal weaknesses anymore. I’ve worked beyond so many of them and I’m experiencing such joy most days that I want to focus more on my being healed than on my remaining wounds. But at the same time, I see the importance in sharing my truth. Growth, understanding & hope can come through my vulnerability. So let’s talk about depression. If you have followed my journey, I’m sure it would come as no surprise that I deal with it occasionally. Truthfully though, I’m doing really well. Usually. Once in a while, I get sucked in.

Just to show how exciting my life truly is, I spent all day this past Saturday reading bible verses, writing them out, singing worship music…it was like an all day date with Jesus. (Literally the only date I’ve had in like 8 months and it was with JESUS.) Even though I have grown immeasurably over the last few years, there are still days when the enemy says “You aren’t good enough. You don’t deserve to succeed. You are ugly, gross and unlovable. No one will ever find you worthy of their time. You will never again experience the love or comfort of having a companion. You will always sleep alone. You will cry yourself to sleep alone during the difficult days. You were created as a mistake and you will remain a mistake.” (Yup. That’s what I hear). These lies though are not my truth.

I spent that time with Him Saturday because I wanted to fill my reserves. I am facilitating a small group at church and it’s important for me to spend time with God so I can hear what He wants me to say to the group, so He can provide protection, so He can actually be the leader while I just play the mouthpiece. Having been a Christian for a very long time now, I know the world/enemy really enjoys making messes in the lives of people with purpose, or anyone getting a little too close to God. Anything to cause separation. But I don’t care about that. I’m not afraid or intimidated by the enemy. I think he’s a conniving, sniveling loser. I’ve read the end, I know how this plays out. So I wanted a day with Jesus and I got one. Little did I know, it wasn’t going to be enough to keep those mean messages away. That enemy may be a loser but even a loser can piss in our Cheerios. Those mean thoughts didn’t stay away because I gave Jesus my Saturday. Or church on Sunday. Or continued bible, prayer & worship time this week. They came anyways.

As many others who fight depression-I fight the urge to crawl into bed & not get back out. I want to eat everything in sight and I want to never eat again. I want to be alone, not speaking to anyone because obviously they don’t like me (the devil said so, remember?). I’ve ugly cried enough to fill 3 gallon jugs in the last 4 days. And why? Well, that doesn’t matter. What matters is what I’m doing about being in this state of mind. I’m only listening to songs about God’s love & grace. I listen loudly to songs I know every word to so I can sing along & push the message deeper into my heart. I force myself to read my bible with intention. I’m diving into prayer. I’m finding podcasts of Godly people I know will light a fire under me. The verses I wrote out Saturday, I pray over my life each day.

I have not shared my heart, or the pain & wounds that come from those lies with anyone. And I’m not fully sharing them with you now. Mostly because that’s too much vulnerability and I’m just not there right now. But again, not the point.

The point is, that despite feeling beaten & broken occasionally, I know the only way through it is to look to God, stand on His promises & HIS truth over me, which says I am lovable and I am free and He pursued me for a purpose. And maybe I never will find anyone that believes I’m worthy of their time & love, but I have to believe whichever way that plays out, God is doing what is best. I can’t lie though. This one hurts the most. I’ve been alone for a long time & it’s quite hard to not agree that I must just be unlovable. (If one of you says “But everybody loves you!” I promise you, I will throw up.) BTW, it’s important to note, I’m not just looking for a warm body. I don’t need anyone. But I would like the right person, the one that checks the boxes on my checklist. So don’t try setting me up with your neighbors cousins brothers friend. Lol.

However, I’m trying to not look inward at my pain. I’m taking it upward to Heaven. I tell God my hurts & wounds. It doesn’t erase them, but I can expose the raw openness without fear of judgment & bringing others into my storm. I know that soon, God will bring me through this. My hope does not come from thinking I will never deal with sadness or difficulty. My hope comes from knowing God will bring me out of each and every sadness & difficulty because He has plans for me. My hope comes in knowing that the depth of my mess is never as deep as it was in the past. My hope comes in knowing it doesn’t last as long as it used to. My hope comes in knowing that every tear & prayer I cry out to God is heard. That God is the ultimate healer of all things, including depression. That my Heavenly Father has already conquered my episodic depression when Jesus took the cross.

So I won’t claim to be a hot mess. I may be a mess AT TIMES. But I’m a lovely, forgiven, accepted, chosen daughter of God. And that cancels out anything else that may run through my head.

So my lovelies, be kind to yourself for wherever you are. But don’t wallow in your self. Release your pain to God and let Him handle it!

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. Oh Wait. Yes It Is.

The last time I posted was right after Leslie passed away. It’s not necessarily that I don’t want to write, it’s just that I don’t want to write. Or socialize. Or smile. Or quit eating. Or eat. Or shower. Ok. Showering is fine. I have had numerous people tell me it’s time for grief counseling. I have an appointment Monday. Josie stopped her private practice so it’s a new place with a new counselor. I did 2 ½ years of counseling after Andrew. What could this new one tell me I don’t already know?

Grief takes time & there is no time frame. It’s one foot in front of the other & at some point, we look back to discover we made it through the rough, choppy season of grief & we are now in the smooth, easy days with the occasional sucker punch of memories & tears. I’m just not there yet. It’s hard to lose a friend. It’s hard to lose a young friend. It’s hard to lose a young friend when you believe without them intervening in your own life, you’d not be alive now. Or at the very minimum, not the person you are now.

The strange thing is I don’t sit around all day crying. Of course, there are days more tears flow than others. Leslie isn’t the only thing running through my mind. I’ll spare you the details of that 3-ring circus but it’s more like my whole body is just sad & tired. I am present in life. I have not totally shut down like I did with Andrew. I have gone out with friends, went to concerts, amusement parks…life. But in between these things, I am exhausted from trying to force myself to be normal. I don’t feel normal so when I am out & appear good, in that moment, I am. But it doesn’t feel natural either. This unnatural feeling is uncomfortable because… well, it’s unnatural. To not feel that way, the easiest thing to do is avoid situations that cause it. Like life. Work, church, friends, family, uhm…oh, that’s all my life is so I guess I’m done.

I clearly cannot avoid life.

Every morning, I get up & go to work. On the regular, it’s a struggle, it’s work. Not cotton candy & unicorns. But when I’m emotionally spent? EEKS. I have trust issues. One “wrong” move means I can’t trust you. I will work through it fairly quick, but being a people lover means I’m going to keep loving you even though I may think you tend to be a douche. (My pastor is going to love this following that last sentence. Ya can’t say I’m not real.) I attribute the ability to love regardless of personality to Jesus. I may not always “like” someone’s behaviors, but I will always try to interact with love & kindness because I genuinely believe love changes us. But at work, it can be negative, gossipy, & frequently critical of others. Oftentimes, I personally feel scrutinized & defensive. I’m not perfect. I have the “back away from my desk” face. I know at times I can be less than pleasant. Trust me, I know. It’s a vicious cycle. However, I try not to initiate negative discussions or gossip. I’m often someone people come to for emotional unloading so I’m used to being visited by a coworker or texted by a friend. I’m fine with that, quite happy to be there for people. Do not misinterpret this as me saying I don’t want to be there for people. But unloading life is quite different than gossip or backbiting. I’m just not sure everyone else knows that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing people in my department. They are very kind & generous. I was recently asked to coordinate a fundraiser for a woman with cancer. This isn’t our first. We have done many acts of love when someone’s life is in turmoil. I’m proud & honored to be a part of this group. But we are human. And mostly women. Soooo….

Moving on. This post isn’t about work.

Tonight, I have a dinner party with friends from church. I wish I could say I’m looking forward to it. I’m not. (Talk about total vulnerability & awkwardness. But keep reading friends!) Everyone there will be from my church family. I love them all deeply. Really. Like, I love them so much there are no words for it. Deep down to my toes, makes my heart swell kind of love. But I’m on the verge of a panic attack over it. First of all, it’s at the house Leslie called home for those last few months, I spent a lot of time there during those days. I haven’t been back since. Secondly, I have to try to face that while others are there. I’m not a public crier. I like to do it alone, hidden. I’m afraid I will melt in front of everyone. BUT… I made the obligatory side dish. I straightened my hair. I dressed somewhat cute with little summer booties. I have a cute little pedi peeking out of the toe. I should be feeling good & excited about dinner with framily. (friends that become family). Quite honestly, church on Sunday will have me in the same tizzy. It’s just hard to people, right now. What exactly is a tizzy & why am I using that word??? Hold on while I find out…

___________________________________________________

Definition of tizzy

: a highly excited and distracted state of mind

origin unknown ____________________________________________________

Ya’ll are welcome. Lol.

The other thing about “working through” anything, be it grief, trauma or other psychological “things” in life, even as simple as day to day problems, is how for some ridiculous reason, it’s never just about what you are working through. I don’t know why. But it’s like other “things” surface & suddenly I’m working through 90 thoughts running through my head. Now aren’t you glad I spared you the 3-ring circus earlier?? So, my brain is processing Leslie. Work. Feeling like my character is under attack. The fundraiser event-things to buy, things to do, places to contact for donations. Family things. Feeling lonely & abandoned (YES I KNOW I SAID I DON’T WANT TO SOCIALIZE!). My friend’s & their issues. Feeling guilty for avoiding people or events. Knowing I need to reach out to a few people but being afraid to do so even though there is no reason to be afraid. Being glad I’m single. Being sad I’m single. Questioning why I’m still single, I mean, I’m not awful, usually somewhat funny, even have times when I’m kinda cute. Wondering why I’m freaking crazy. Panicking about dinner parties. Wondering how soon I can get home to crawl in bed. Praying I get some sleep.

Oops, there’s the circus. It unpacked itself before I even knew it was happening. So now ya know. And that is just from the last 4 minutes of my mind. Imagine living with that 24 hours a day.

I’m not exactly sure where I’m taking this today. I guess, I’m just airing my dirty laundry. Maybe subtly asking for some grace & forgiveness for being a bit scatterbrained & possibly rude. I’m sorry. I’m at the place in grieving that requires us to behave like normal adults, function in society & not walk around with tissues stuck up our noses. But my heart still wants to be curled up in bed. So, I compromise with halfhearted attendances & attempts at fun, silly Matilda everyone loves.

But I do know one thing, all that up there…is my ugly. But I’m going to allow myself to embrace it. Some of the crazy is part of the grieving process, there is no time frame in which that is supposed to end. I’ve lost a lot of people over the last few years. It doesn’t get easier, it gets harder. As far as other people’s messes? I will continue to try to love them as best as I can because love changes us for the better. I will pray for their lives, their hearts & their souls. I hope they will do the same for me.

Till next time-

Matilda

Till We Meet Again, Sweet Friend

There is something that takes place when anticipating the end of someone’s life. It’s a time filled with memories, bringing both laughter & tears. It’s a time emotions are heightened & raw. Stress levels escalated but so is our compassion & love felt towards the others that are also pre-grieving for someone they are about to lose. There are so many emotions & reactions to what’s going on around you. Most likely everyone is feeling the same similar set of emotions & reactions, however we all go through them in different phases. The thing to remember though, is we are going to need one another to get through the process & restore ourselves back as close as possible to normal. At the end of the day the result is the same. Somebody that was loved very deeply is now gone & our new normal will contain life with a bit of a hole in it. And it sucks.

I’m not sure if you remember or not but a couple of years ago I wrote about this amazing girl that moved in with me – no questions asked. She was funny. She was adorable. She made me laugh. She brought me hope, built up my faith, & became one of the most precious people in my life. She became more than a roommate, more than a friend, she became my sister. She had fought cancer twice & beat it. Last August she told me it was back. The third time in 10 years. This precious little full of life, God-fearing, worship leading, kids preaching, overflowing with sunshine, ball of fire, has been fighting for her life. Watching her over the last few weeks has been difficult & inspiring. I knew we were going to lose her. Yet, was still not something I was prepared to handle.

I’ve known since last August this time was different. Since I’m also God-fearing, I believed with all my heart that He can & would perform a miracle. I prayed my heart out. I asked everyone I knew to pray for her healing. I knew in August that this would be a fight. I knew it would be difficult. I knew that she would struggle. But I also knew she was a fighter. She wouldn’t back down. She was young. She was vibrant. She stood on the word of God with more determination & faith than anyone I have ever seen in my entire life. So surely God would heal her. And as sure as I was that He would heal her, I was just as terrified that she would pass away. That became a reality just after 10:00pm Thursday night.

I have been asked to share a few stories of our memories at her service. I could probably speak for hours about the silly stories during our fun times together. I know I will stumble over my words, & I’ll cry through the whole thing.

The thing about sweet Leslie though, is that she was such a bundle of love & life. She loved God with all of her heart. She brought boundless joy to every one she met & sunshine to every room she entered. It is hard not to question “why” she had to leave in such a painful way at the young age of 31. But she had ran the race, fought the good fight. She was a world changer.

My heart is in a state of turmoil. While she has only been gone for a little over 48 hours, it feels like forever. I know it seems selfish to wish she were here. She was in pain, it was genetic & would have been a battle every few years even if she beat it each time till she was 99. She is now dancing in the streets of gold with Jesus. Who would ever want to leave that? Why would I wish that she could? Because some people enter our lives softly but somewhere along the way they have an explosion of impact so strong, the shockwaves penetrate for generations to come. That is exactly what sweet Leslie was like. I will no longer get texts saying “Hey Rook!” (Her autocorrect changed “roomie” to “rookie” so it just stuck) After Church on Sunday’s, she will no longer give me her afternoon schedule even though we were no longer living together. We will no longer be able to discuss if we have a hankerin’ for BBQ. The list goes on & on.

I know many people find situations such as this as an excuse to blame God for all the bad, for taking one of my dearest friends away from me. Sure, the eternal question of why do Christians suffer prompts a million arguments from all sides. But I know the real answer is simple. We suffer so we can relate. If we didn’t, we would never be capable of giving a genuine hug to someone in pain. We would never be able to offer hope. Leslie lived with a zest for life. She loved adventures, she loved her people, she loved sharing her faith in God. She went home because she had completed the race God had set before her. Our pain in losing her is now part of our testimonies. I will continue to stand strong in my own faith, because she taught me how to do so even when life doesn’t make sense.

Leslie, I know you are happy & healthy in Heaven. I know I will see you again one day. But in the meantime, this life will never be the same. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for teaching me, believing in me & always encouraging me. I hope I make you proud.

Until we meet again,

Love,

Matilda

Grace Upon Grace

To me, the funny thing about my blog is my randomness at posting. I often think about posting but it’s usually at the most in opportune times. Such as at work, at the movie theater, when someone is talking to me…(sorry, not to be rude but I have ADD, I squirrel occasionally. I can listen AND squirrel though so I come back to you & never miss a thing. Promise. Aannddd I’m doing it now. {insert eye roll}) I appreciate that you all read this anyways. That you gift me with your attention though I do not earn or deserve it.

Earlier today I was thinking about writing to all you dears but I was trying to read. I literally have four books on my nightstand, three of which aren’t mine. Plus a book in the chair I am using for a life group at church. My mind kept wandering as it often does. Which do I read first? Am I prepped for next weeks life group? Should I do laundry? Maybe it’s high time I showered? So I did what any adult who adults like a champ does…I texted a few friends, read a few chapters, went to a movie…Yup. Avoidance. I’m a pro. I wasn’t sure what to say in the post but I knew one thing.

Grace upon Grace.

From the Bible. John 1:16.

So there ya go. That’s all I had. Literally. Lol.

[Ps, I did shower & do some laundry, so I’m not a complete waste of an adult. I even put on clean socks. See? I’ve got this.]

Back to the Grace thing. In case you didn’t know, there was pure logic behind calling this blog Matilda Grace.

According to Behindthename.com, Matilda comes from the Germanic name Mahthildis meaning “strength in battle”, from the elements maht “might, strength” and hild “battle”.

The name Grace came from John 1:16. Grace upon Grace. Christianity.com published a piece by Justin Holcomb I believe defines it best…”A shorthand for what grace is – “mercy, not merit.” Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve.”

So basically I am a mighty warrior (when you stop laughing, feel free to keep reading) getting what I do not deserve-I deserve nothing, that’s why we earn things (except God’s grace) while trying to pay forward the concept of undeserved grace to those around me. Wow. That’s a run on sentence if I’ve ever seen one. But I’m leaving it.

I’m not sure why I needed to write about my unworldly wisdom surrounding the concept of Grace but ready or not, here we go into the mind of Matilda…

In my humble world, I am involved in the lives of hundreds of people each week. Lucky ducks. I see people at work. Church. The grocery. The gas station. Life groups. The usual places a good little Christian girl spends her time. As everyone else in the world, I’m not always perfect. Shocking, I know. Adorable? Yes. (Sarcasm.) Perfect? Nope. (NOT sarcasm.)

Along these encounters with people, I try to make sure I am kind, hopefully even smiling. Mostly I don’t want to be the person creating another’s bad day. Again, I must disclaim here that I am so far from perfect. Not even on the same planet. But I do try to give grace to others. I get stressed. I have bad days. Sometimes I’m just feeling selfish. There’s a reason I don’t have a Jesus fish on the back of my car. Or why when my Jesus tattoo is visible, I try extra hard to be on my best behavior. And that can be hard for a sassy girl like me! I don’t want to give God a bad rap for my behavior. (Not that I’m out running around like a pirate looting the world but I am more aware.)

So if someone at the grocery runs over my toes with their cart, my response is not a scowl, but I genuinely say “that’s ok.” If I get plowed into turning a corner at the office, I don’t bite their head off. If we are having a bad day, the last thing we need is someone throwing verbal punches at us. However, this doesn’t just apply for the bad days, this applies for all days. We need unmerited, undeserved grace. We need to know we are loved & accepted for the crazies we are while we are standing in our place of crazy. After all, if you are a Christian, isn’t this what God does for you every day? And if you aren’t, don’t you still want the unmerited, undeserved love & acceptance? I can’t think of a person I know that would turn it down.

Yet, instead, we are busy blowing our horns as cars cut us off, gossiping around the office, tearing down the people around us for not living up to unrealistic-and usually unbeknownst to them-expectations we have projected upon them. Who are we to do this to each other?

I had a friend recently begin coming to church with me. She said to me the other day that I never judged her for not going to church. I was her friend either way. I thought it was touching yet sad. How many people are we judging or hurting because they aren’t where we want them to be emotionally, physically, financially? What if instead of judging or condemning them, we love them right where they stand?

So if you are in my life & I have ever made you feel “less than,” please accept my deepest & most sincere of apologies. I don’t want to ever be “that girl.” And I know I have been. Probably yesterday.

If you want to change your life, practice Grace upon Grace. Nope, the people you practice it on do not deserve it. Neither do you. Life sure is a little sweeter when it’s given to us. It’s a whole lot sweeter when we give it away. Plus, maybe the people you show grace will begin to show others grace. Before you know it, not just your life will change, your world will.

So lovelies. Love the uglies. Show them grace. Again. And again. And again. We need to love, support & lift up the lives around us. So be intentional in your unconditionals. Unconditional love, grace, acceptance, mercy. It changes the lives of the people it touches. Including yours.

Till next time!

Matilda (strong warrior) Grace (unmerited, undeserved favor)

Ps…”Unconditionally” does not mean consequences do not apply, however it does mean we can still love people through the consequences. It does not mean accepting bad choices, but accepting the person.

Dear Andrew-I’m Still a Work in Progress

Dear Andrew,

I know it’s been a while since I wrote you. It’s certainly not because I haven’t been thinking about you. I still think of & miss you every day. I still have your picture by my bed & on my wall at work. When I went on a date a while back, I asked your picture if you were ready for me to start dating. I know that dating means someone else may take over some space in my heart. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. I made myself feel like maybe you weren’t so I asked you if you were ok with it. I know. You were ready for me to start dating 1064 days ago. But I wasn’t. And I wasn’t sure I was willing to give someone else any space. I wasn’t sure someone else would be able to handle the trauma that occasionally still brings me to tears. What if they reject me because I’m carrying so much past? Not openly carrying. However it’s something that happened & I can’t pretend otherwise. If a relationship is to be built on trust & honesty, obviously, your name must come up. But I digress, this really isn’t about me dating or not dating. It’s about me still holding onto every little detail of you.

Andrew, I know you of all people know I’m a person that people tend to divulge their lives & thoughts to rather easily. You did it quite often-either through tears on my couch or shouting at me in an attempt to create a negative reaction. Some days this is a heavy weight to bear. But one I carry with great privilege & honor. I take great care in holding the hearts of my loved ones very tenderly.

As is the usual, I have had many burdens amongst my friends & family lately. As always, many are heartbreaking, many are frustrating, many are infuriating due to the pain they are causing. I continue to do what I did when you would throw your anger or cry over your hurt. I maintain as much composure as I can, offer my shoulder & just continue to love them.

But as we are approaching the third anniversary of your death, my composure is rocky, at best. My heart a little extra tender. My nerves on edge. Tears teetering on the rim of my eyes. I know this is coming. I made it through the holidays & this is the final phase of pain until your birthday in August. I say this to set up my emotional state. I’m quite well, actually. But I also know that I’m a touch sensitive when facing my own or other people’s burdens.

We all know that sometimes in life, we get hung up on experiences or situations that we’ve been through. Like you, for example. I’ve been hung up on you, that night, this heartache, for the last 3 years. And being extra sensitive lately makes my brain play mean games with my heart & I, at times, wonder if I’ve made any progress in my healing at all.

Until today.

Today at church I was the epitome of chaos. Melissa & Mike were off this morning so it was me & Nate but the whole morning felt a bit behind. I had kicked off my boots so I could run around a little easier. And I was running. But it all came together in perfect timing. I was working the Guest table and in walked our first guests. A family of three.

Who had known you.

They didn’t know me, of course. But I was so caught off guard, I stuttered out that I knew of the connection. That I knew you. That we were friends. She sweetly said “please don’t let this effect your day.” I looked down at the paper I was writing on & muttered that I was fine. My go to answer when I’m trying to convince myself that I am. Then I had to show them around the church. In my socks. Thinking of you. Forgetting my normal guest speech. Losing track of where I was in the tour. Wondering if they were thinking some of the horrible things people have said to me. Were they wondering why I didn’t stop you? Were they accusing me of really being behind your death? Were they questioning how I could look at myself in the mirror every morning let alone show my face in a church? (Yes, these & more have been said)

I finished the tour not shedding one tear. I even smiled through it. I talked with their son. I handed them their guest gift. I went back to my place in the lobby. And sighed a huge sigh of relief that I hadn’t lost my marbles. When I was able to sit down, I let the whole thing really sink in & I cried a few tears. Then I dried my eyes. Refocused my mind on my worship, praying for some calming peace.

I began to realize that I made it.

I made it to the place where I could face your death, the accusations or the fear of them, & know that I had nothing to do with your death that night. I had made it to a place where I could speak of you in that fear with a somewhat steady voice. I had faced one of the things that has unknowingly almost paralyzed me for three years. But I wasn’t paralyzed at all. I was fine. I didn’t have a panic attack. I didn’t melt into tears. I didn’t shrink back or run away.

This may not sound like much to most people. But I have had people equate me to a murderer. That’s a hefty burden to bear. One that I haven’t told many. It’s filled with so much guilt & shame because while I know in my head I didn’t pull that trigger, my heart feels the guilt of your death almost as if I had. So to be able to carry on a conversation with this family left me feeling like I had conquered Mt Everest.

I know guilt & shame are not something you would have wished upon me. Especially for three long years. Maybe it took this family coming to church today for me to be able to finally face that. Maybe this is the year of my new beginning, with you & someone new in my heart. Maybe this is the year I’m able to pack up your pictures.

Who knows? All I know is I realized today that I have made quite a bit more progress than I thought. It reminded me that all I have walked through in this crazy life has brought me to this place. This place where my heart is filled with love for others. A place where I am ready to burst out of my comfort zone to fill the needs of all people. That I was exactly in the physical location of my greatest healing when this situation took place-my church surrounded by my church family. That God brought me to this day, flustered & chaotic, brought this family through the door up to my face, AND gave me the grace to handle it.

So I drove home from church with a smile as big as my face. I felt you saying “Silly girl, it’s about time you realized this was on me. Let it go.”

Your picture is still by my bed. And I will always miss you. But I believe today was a breakthrough for me. One I really didn’t even know I needed until it happened.

Fear? Not.

I started a New Year’s Eve post, but then got interrupted so I didn’t get it finished. Wasn’t too bad either. However, now it feels old & irrelevant.

What interrupted me, you ask? OK, let’s talk about it.

For those who know me or have been reading this for a bit, remember how I have a son? The son that with his friends one cold February day in 2015, robbed me & then threatened to kill me? Restraining order? Yeah that son. In November, Dylan dropped out of school. Apparently he has a job with a security firm. (All things considered, this is slightly unsettling in itself)

In the last three weeks, I have had three different family members contact me after they have had some type of interaction with Dylan. Two of them have told me that he’s trying to go into the military. (Pretty sure he should have finished high school for that.) One told me he was asking questions about me. He claims he wants to have a relationship with me & Mark.

After three years of zero contact, having him all of a sudden pop up three times in less than a month has me a little… Concerned? Panicked? Scared? Sure. All of them. So I did what any rational thinking person would do. I went into the shower & I cried for 20 minutes. On Tuesday I called the sheriffs department. Just as I suspected, until I am in danger, nothing can be done. File for a new protection order. So at lunch I went to the gym. I hit the heavy bag. A bunch. Something about punching that thing rebuilt my determination that I will not live in fear.

Oh hold that thought… We are going to come back to this.

VULNERABLE MOMENT-Also. Subject change.

So in my prayers I have been asking God if it’s time for me to start dating. Ya know, since it’s been forever. I had a lot of reasons I could provide for not dating. Not really any for dating. But I’ve been feeling like maybe I was ready. So I had a list. I’m not sharing the whole thing but a couple were: I wanted a guy that can make me laugh. Because I’m funny. Lol. I needed a guy that has his life somewhat figured out. By this I mean, not narcissistic, mood swinging, depressed, or alcoholic. A baggage isn’t strewn all over the yard kind of a guy. Just for fun, I threw in that I wanted a cowboy-ish type: drives a truck & has a bit of a southern accent because, dang it, those are cute. AND the best one of the list: God, you are literally going to have to walk him through my door because I won’t know it. For reals. I’m oblivious.

Please don’t make this a big hairy deal…

But wouldn’t you know it? The day after Thanksgiving, my list walked through the door. Well, all but one or two of the list. Let’s just call him James. As in Bond. Lol. Don’t go trying to save the date or anything. It’s early stages. He’s great. I’m great. It’s all great. But it’s also new, terrifying, fun, & pushing all of my self protection boundaries. EEEK!! I’m not really ready to talk about it with the public, I don’t really know what it is to talk about yet. I realize that is now impossible since I am blogging it & 8 people will read this & know. But I mention it because it ties into the earlier mention of my son.

When I was robbed, I felt violated & exposed. When my life was threatened, I was stripped of my sense of security & my ability to freely trust anyone (including myself) was shattered. After all that happened during Feb 2015, I was left with PTSD, I have physical reactions to sudden noises, especially loud ones. I get triggered when something reminds me of that awful February 3 years ago. This is not because I haven’t tried to get past things. I have worked through a ton of baggage. But that doesn’t mean I can’t relapse. So getting word that Dylan was asking about me, set off my alarms. Not only was my trust issue fully awake & alert, but it was was like a toddler after someone takes its cookie. Mad. Towards everyone. Including James. (Note-I’M not mad at him. My emotions are. I know. I’m crazy.) It’s been like 6 weeks. We haven’t defined anything. What is there to define at 6 weeks? But having no clear definition of whatever we are allows my head to play games. Mean games. But James & I? We get along really well, I have a lot of fun, PLUS, he knows about most of my crazy & he didn’t run as fast as he could to get away from me. So that was a bonus. It’s working fine the way it is, don’t fix things that ain’t broken, don’t rock the boat…until my head gets in the way. Then it’s all broken & rocking. So why all of a sudden do I feel that I need the awkward as all get out DTR conversation?? And, the idea of being “in a relationship” makes my heart strap on it’s running shoes. I’m not sure i could handle a DTR. Then there’s: Why don’t I believe that this will work? Maybe it’s not supposed to “work.” Maybe it’s a get my feet wet relationship. Why am i discussing this with you & not him? Lol. Why have I convinced myself he definitely will be moving on by Sunday? Because in my head, I truly believe I don’t deserve to be happy, or with anyone that gets me, or fulfills my list. But in my heart, I know that’s not true. In my heart I know God created me to be joyful, shining, vocal, creative, productive, prosperous, happy & so much more in the life He has blessed me with. Otherwise, why live it? So while I am enjoying this phase of getting to know James, because at this point, it is carefree, fun & light. I’m also playing ping pong in my head…with a bowling ball. Thankfully, my crazy has only come untucked a couple of small times & he was very gracious about it. Why this poor man hasn’t run is beyond me. But I’m glad he hasn’t.

Ok. So remember that thought I told you to hang onto? Get it back. Hitting the heavy bag in the gym reset my determination to not live in fear. And a large part of my distrust ties back to fear. Here’s some more vulnerability: I’m terrified of allowing someone to get close enough to hurt me. Not uncommon. I don’t believe anyone can love me enough to stay. So why let them get close enough to break my heart when I know they won’t be around? Lots of us feel this way. We just don’t like putting it out there so it becomes common knowledge.

Anywho…I was praying on this afraid yet determined state of mind to try to see what God says about it. I know there is a statement that says God said “Fear Not” or “Do not be afraid” 365 times in the Bible. However, after researching this, it appears that isn’t an exact number. Depending on versions, interpretation & allowed contexts, it goes from 80-366 times. So I decided to embark on finding them. Each day, when I find one, I will pray it over my day, my life, my loved ones. No matter if I find 20, 200 or 312, the real skinny is that God has me, my life, my son & my relationships all in His big, glorious, loving hands. I’m not to fear anything but God, as He is my father, creator, protector, life coach & my biggest cheerleader. He set me here for a purpose that He carved out just for me. So I’m good no matter the outcome. Finding the verses will mostly be an exercise in resetting in my own mind that I don’t have to worry or try to control these situations. I have to trust that God has already walked in front of me to clear my path. Not of obstacles necessarily, but of His divine direction of my life. How comforting is that thought alone?

So friends…share your worlds with others. Allow someone in. Even if it’s hard & scary. We can live fully beyond these wounds & battle scars. But in order to love & be loved, we have to be willing to take a risk that we will get hurt again. And that’s ok. Because God will pick us back up, dust us off & set us back in place. If we trust Him.

Till next time…

Matilda Grace

Ps…did you see how I went ahead & gave you 5 verses to coincide with our 5 days into 2018?