Searching

Have you ever put your worldly possessions in one of those storage units that looks like a giant garage? Have you then ever tried to get back into that storage unit & look for one particular item among 100 boxes? Even labeled as accurately & precisely as you can possibly label each box, it is still virtually an impossible task. How do I know, you ask? Because I am currently standing in said storage unit.

When the lease was up in my apartment, I was unsure what my next direction was going to be so I moved in with my sister & her family. I didn’t need most of my things so I loaded everything into a storage unit & took only the essentials for what I thought was going to be a short term solution. Eight months later, I’m still there. What I thought was very temporary ended up being one of the most emotionally healthy moves I have ever made. I live with five people who love me every day. Just because! My niece & nephews hug me several times a day. Just because! I did not realize how much I needed to feel unconditionally embraced.

That however is not what this post is about.

It’s about the storage unit.

So. All of my “valuable” worldly possessions are boxed up & in this garage. My washer, my dryer, my couches, my dishes, my Christmas decorations, and probably 60% of my clothing & shoes. When I got up today, deciding to dive into the storage unit & dig out some of my clothing, I had no idea how impossible that would actually be. Trying to maneuver through a tight pathway in this cramped hot garage jammed full of boxes & furniture to uncover the actual crates that I need only to find they are supporting tight & precariously dangerous towers of dishes just so I can find that one sweater that I really miss or those perfect jeans or that super comfy sweatshirt.

I must admit it’s not going very well.

While I am tossing tote boxes over my head (like a beast!!) to put them back on top of the pile it hits me that this is kind of a blogging moment. So I stop. Grab my phone. And began this post.

You’re welcome. LOL.

It made me think about where my life is & how I’m living in someone else’s house with someone else’s family (disclaimer:it is my family, just not in the sense of my kid/spouse/etc…& I am beyond grateful to be here!) surrounded by someone else’s possessions because my life is in what I’m kindly referring to as a “transitional phase.” And I believe it is. But the truth is I have no idea what I’m doing. I work at a job that I don’t hate, but is also not a passion. I live in a place that has all four seasons, sometimes in one day. (And I’m a beachy kind of girl.) I have lost many people that I have loved dearly. I’m in the perfect place to completely start my life over. (By the way I’m 45 & I feel like I am the rom-com poster child for starting over. I even bought a little black car. With a turbo engine. It’s fun. Again we’re not here for that.) But, I definitely have some decisions to make about my life & the direction it’s going.

  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • Where do I go to be whatever that is?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Can I do it?
  • Am I brave enough?

That last one is probably the biggest. I think we all know the answer to that is: [Insert me shrugging my shoulders]

But how many of us are searching & digging & tossing boxes from the areas of our lives around because we’re simply existing? Doing the mundane job every Monday through Friday so that we can bring home a paycheck so we can purchase the car that drives us to said job so we can go to sleep & get up & do it all over again? How many of us are searching for that passion that we see in the movies or in some of our friends faces? How many of us are searching & digging through life trying to find that perfect thing that brings us comfort or success, whether that be a career or family or a husband or a new car or even a dangerous addiction or behavior?

What we fail to realize is this: We can’t find comfort in a sweatshirt or a car or a career or a spouse. The only answer that I have found is that I have to get that from my faith & trust that God has this.

No matter what.

All of the trials that I face, He’s there.

All of the addictions that you face. He’s there.

All of the indecision, the questions about direction, the lack of hope?? He’s there through all of that.

AND He’s also there through all of the happy moments. Like the new car, the new job, the new blog post, the new house, even a new relationship. See, He wants to be part of all of those details. We usually just forget to include Him in them. But sometimes He’s not just part of the details, He is the details. Sometimes He is the solution. Sometimes He is the only solution. So while I’m sitting here not finding my favorite sweatshirt or the perfect sweater, it comes to me that my comfort comes not in my searching for answers, but in my free surrender to trust that God has every step of my life totally figured out & wherever I am is where He is taking me & wants me to be. Even if that’s in my sisters house because he has me in a transitional place. Maybe I’m moving out of this crazy weather state. Maybe I’m staying right here. Who knows? He does. So as long as I trust that, I don’t have to search. I don’t have to dig.

I just have to trust.

Dear sweet friends, whatever it is that you’re going through, THE first & most essential way to get through it is to trust that God is there with you through it. And that He can handle whatever it is.

So wherever you have your “stuff”, whether it’s strewn across the front yard full of chaos & crazy, or maybe you have it jam packed in a closet that is bursting to pop open, or if you have it boxed up in the attic but you’re constantly going back up there to dig through it, now is the time to relinquish all of it. Put it in a garbage bag & let God take it. Put your trust and your crazy in His hands. I am no longer going to search for what I think my life should look like. I’m going to believe that my next step has been set into motion by heavenly forces that love me as unconditionally as my niece & nephews. With my trust in the right place, I can AND WILL move mountains!

Till next time-Love yourself, love your uglies & love your crazy. It makes you who you are.

Matilda Grace❤️

40 Day Journey-Days 4-10

If you read my last post, I explained that I am on a 40 day journey to:

  1. forgive some people that have inflicted deep pain
  2. trust in God’s goodness and his desire to provide my every need
  3. to cease from using my protective strategies


Days 1 – 3 were not easy & I was left feeling like I was never going to pull off an entire 40 days. Since I’m doing the opposite of myself, rather than hide these feelings, I’m sharing all of my crazy with you. Instead of isolating myself & hiding away or behaving as if nothing is going on, you lucky readers get to read all of the feelings & experiences that I would much rather keep to myself.

The process Josie has set before me for this journey is:

  • R- Relaxing my hold. Releasing the tight grip I have on my pain, my finances, my job, my life & the hardest one- those self protective strategies.
  • E- Escaping my limiting mindset. You know, putting God in a box.
  • S- Start to depend on God. If I believe He is who he says he is, won’t he do for me all that he says he will do?
  • T- Triumph! Be successful in forgiving, trusting God & not depending on self preservation during these 40 days & at the end of that I will be able to rest! Whatever that looks like.

Now that I have given you the concept of the process let’s take a little closer look.

Let’s start with unforgiveness. Apparently I have been harboring some unforgiveness towards key people in my past. People that based on the roles in my life, there were expectations & boundaries that I needed them to maintain in order for me to grow up with a healthy foundation. Due to choices they made, the child in me has some cracks in her foundation. Yes, they created those seriously deep wounds. Yes, I’m better without them in my life today. But are they really out of my life with the unforgiveness still holding a spot in my heart? These issues are like an actual physical wound. If not treated properly, the unforgiveness forces the wounds to remain open, festering, becoming infected, filling my bloodstream with the negative results of unforgiveness. These people are still causing me to feel broken by choices they inflicted on me as a child. I don’t know about you but something about this makes me dig in my heels & think “oh heck no! You no longer get this kind of power in my life!” Funny thing about forgiveness. It’s just like most of our emotions, a choice. I have to wake up each & every day & make a decision to forgive them for these transgressions. Until the day it finally sticks.


Self Protective Strategies. I’m kind of a rockstar in this area. I use my self protective strategies at work, at home, at church, at the grocery, literally everywhere I go. Being vulnerable & exposed is not something I’m comfortable with. So this is also a literal choice that I have to make every second of every day. When someone asks me how I feel, rather than say fine, I need to be able to tell the truth. So for the last week, I have said “fine” followed by “no, wait…” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to catch myself & backpedal from my standard safe response to give the truth. It has been mostly on small things that are inconsequential yet for me exposes potential for a hurt. I do feel like I have made some major progress in this area. I am very quick to recognize when I’m trying to hide, I have put myself first in a few instances. I even requested a meeting with the department director at work because I was struggling with some issues & I needed her help to create a better process.


Trusting God. This is still a daily fight. Though, I am seeing Him as I work through this obedience. I find myself enjoying my worship a little more, praying without even realizing I’m doing it, being amazed even more than I was before in his glorious artwork in nature. (I’m a sucker for a good sky!) I am still lacking trust in others, but I think I need to trust God more so HE can show me what that should genuinely look like. Oh! And in order to not put God in a box, I’m praying big giant prayers that seem crazy, ridiculous & impossible. I want to see what awesome blessings he has set aside for me & the people I’m in prayer for. I’m praying for my future, for his will to be my will, for that path to be clear.

Ok friends, I love love love you! Till next time, work on releasing your own uglies. Xo

Shame

Dictionary.com defines shame as:

            shame:[sheym]; noun

the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another:

            “She was overcome with shame.”



How many times does that example sentence apply to each of us every day? For me, several. Thankfully I don’t keep track. I’d probably feel worse about myself if I did. I’d shame myself for feeling so shameful all the time. But the majority of my shame isn’t necessarily driven by my own behaviors, because frankly, I’m kind of nerdy. I work, church & work some more. I’m home most weekends & I definitely don’t do much throughout the week.

No, most of my shame is driven by the influencers of my past. My sexual abusive grandfather. My ex. My son. My mother. My adoptive father. Even my biological father.

For some reason, this type of shame reminds me of the poo throwing monkeys at the zoo. You know the ones. Behind glass. Mischievous grin. Just as you get up close, they launch a poop bomb at you that splatters all over the glass. You can tell by the look on their face how deeply they enjoyed the look on yours. And they start to work on a new poo bomb for the next unsuspecting sucker to walk up. Good thing we aren’t fully exposed to them or they would be the least viewed exhibit in the whole place.

Take for example my grandfather. He began molesting me when I was 10. He didn’t just start with inappropriate actions. He began by gifting me with things & treating me special. Lucky me.

On that side of the family, I had a summer cousin. During the school year he lived in Cali with his mom. For summer break, he stayed with his dad. My grandparents & my uncle all lived on one enormous piece of land with several houses. So when Scotty came home, I wanted to do everything he did. He had a mini dirt bike. So I wanted one. My grandfather made sure I had one that summer. Scotty & I zipped around that land like we owned it. We rode back deep into the woods & ate our picnic lunches (fluffer nutter sandwiches, chips & water). We swam in the pond. Basically, I was a lot less girly, because I did not want Scotty thinking I was a sissy getting in his way. I wanted to be cool enough for him to want to hang out with.

Occasionally, Scotty had other stuff to do so he wouldn’t be able to hang out.

That was when it began. Gradual touching. I was immediately uncomfortable with it. I began trying to avoid being alone with my grandfather. It was difficult though because it was just me, him & my grandmother. I remember asking my grandma to let me take her for a ride on my dirt bike. She said she was busy but to ask my grandfather. Surely, driving fast with the wind whipping through our hair as I steered this dangerous machine around the yard would be a safe place. No. It wasn’t. Surely innertubing in the pond with the whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins…) would be a safe place. No, not there either. He said to me “this is our little secret. Just between us. No one else gets to know about this.”

But I knew it was wrong. I don’t know how I knew but I did. The molestation continued for a while. Finally, I told my mom.

She flipped out.


As toxic for me as my mom is, she did have moments where she was solid. This was one. She never doubted or second guessed me. They put me in therapy immediately. Filed a report with CSB. Cut the entire family out of communication with him. My adopted dad met with him, offered him reunification if he sought counseling. He refused. I never saw him again except at a couple of funerals.

But what happened as a result of my declaration was not something any child should have to walk through. I was forced to testify against my grandfather to a panel of CSB workers to determine if there was enough evidence for charges. They determined there was not. Remember, “just” molestation so basically “just” heavy petting. My grandfather called me early on to tell me that everything would work out just fine. It didn’t. We didn’t get to go to family functions. So my younger sister screamed at me “YOU’VE RUINED OUR FAMILY!” Yup. I had. I had split it down the middle. 2 uncles broke away with us. My aunt’s family & my grandma standing by my grandfather.

That is quite a burden on a child. To be followed with years of silence among the family. His name & “the incident,” were taboo. No one discussed either. I walked around with the assumption that everyone felt the way my sister did. I remembered that he warned me not to tell. If I had listened, I would never have hurt so many people. My guilt turned to shame.

Ugly harmful burdensome shame.


As I grew up, I realized that, yes, I had split the family in half. But because I had, I had also saved most, hopefully all, of my younger cousins from enduring the same twisted fate with him. But the shame remained.

No one had ever told me I did the right thing. That I was brave. I understand that 35 years ago, sexual abuse wasn’t nearly as open a topic as it is now, so I don’t entirely blame my family for that. It is just where society was at that time. But for me, the shame remains.

Even today.

I’m not ashamed that I was abused. But that shame holds on in a way that warps my self worth. Probably because since that time, other people have heaped more shame on top of it & now it has become a mountain range of shame.


This past Friday night, I got to see one of my favorite speakers, Christine Caine, speak at a local church. She has a remarkable book titled “Unashamed.” (Read it. Now.) During her speaking engagement, she pulled out the Bible & referred to Genesis 2:25. She read it to the crowd.

“Adam & his wife were both naked & they felt no shame.”

She went on to explain that we were never created to feel shame. It says so right there in Genesis. We were never intended to be ashamed of who we are. Because, also according to the Bible, we are all created in the image of God. So regardless of our shape or size, we are in His image & we are perfect. Big nose, big boobs, tiny ears, big feet, bald…whatever we find imperfect on ourselves is still of God & He loves it-and us.  Many of the things we see within ourselves as flaws are actually gifts from God.

So if we weren’t created to feel shame, we need to work at pushing it away from our lives. Now, understand this. Shame & guilt are two different things. Guilt is conscience for bad behaviors. Shame tells us we are bad people (maybe for bad behaviors.) However, we are NOT the sum total of our choices. We have a past, we are not our past. Every second of every day we make decisions & we can completely turn our lives around in one second. Sure it may take longer than that to see the fruits, but the decisions we make can propel us towards a new life instantly.

Dr. Brene Brown has said “Guilt says I made a mistake. Shame says I am a mistake.” See the difference? When we self talk from a place of shame, we feed that ugly beast within us more shame so he continues to grow & we continue to shrivel up.

The simple truth is that regardless of what we have done in our past, even our recent past of 2 minutes ago, we are still not the sum total of those choices. If they are bad, we obviously must face our consequences but that doesn’t require we stay on the bad choices path. Therefore, shame is a nasty lie we are told to keep us from fulfilling our God given destinies.

So, please bury this deep within your hearts: You are lovely, loveable, loved & there is no act you could do to separate yourself from the love of God. The shame you feel from your past is not from Him. 

Friends, love the uglies-yours. Work to recognize the shame lies inside & replace them with love truths.

Have a beautiful week.

Love,

Matilda.


“Happy” Mother’s Day :\

Mother’s Day

The day when we celebrate the mothers in our lives.

I loathe it. It is a day filled with hearts & flowers & pictures of mothers & mushy cards & dinners & …

If you have read previous posts, you may know that my birth mother has Borderline Personality which basically means she is emotionally abusive & manipulative. I haven’t had any interaction with her in 4 1/2 years. I feel “better” now that I have zero relationship with her. It took me 40 years to realize that she was never going to be the mother I hoped she would be, that she would continue to abuse me as long as I continued to communicate or see her. I was never going to be the daughter she could accept or love in a way that didn’t leave me feeling broken & wounded. So when she sent my sisters & I a text stating she was no longer going to be a part of our lives, I considered it my open door & I have never spoken to her again. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my mother when I was a child. I just never knew why it felt like she hated me. As an adult, in therapy, I see that it is her brokenness that caused her to break us, but I’m no longer willing to accept that in my life. I’ve spent way too much time & money trying to fix what she has done to let her keep undoing me.


As far as being a mother, well, that aspect of my life also kicks me right in the gut. I suffered through 7 years of infertility treatments, never to conceive. We went through the adoption process, only to have our child threaten to kill us. We ended up divorced & each holding restraining orders against our son.

They don’t make cards for people with the relationship I have with my birth mother. Or for people with the relationship I have with my son. What would those say?

FOR Mom:

  • “Dear Mom, of all the things you have passed on to me, I wish you had kept your crazy.”
  • “Happy Mothers Day to the reason I have trust issues”
  • “Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks for the Egg Donation”

FROM my son:

  • “Happy Mother’s Day. Maybe I’ll get ya’ next year.”
  • “Happy Mothers Day. Roses are red, Violets are blue. I have Fetal Alcohol so I have no attachment to you.”

I think you get the point.


So yeah, Mother’s Day is not my favorite holiday. Truthfully, most holidays are filled with bursts of pain from losing people in one way or another, even when it’s a bit of a choice or out of safety concerns. But I also have so many people filling my life that most holidays are tolerable, even enjoyable while the memories & pain lie just below the surface.

However, Mothers Day is always hard. It’s a harsh reminder that the woman who created me never wanted me to begin with & she could never muster up enough maternal affection to raise me without damaging me AND that I will never again be a mother to my one & only son because despite the years of fighting to get him, he chose a life that endangered me.


But, I’m a joyful girl so I don’t like to end on a sour face. We can’t stop here.

I have many, many mothers in my life that are amazing & beautiful women that love me despite my crazy. I am so blessed with the nurturing each of them gives me when I need it. Because of them, I have learned what real mothering actually looks like.

The most consistent & remarkable woman that loves me is my wonderful step mom. She married my bio dad when I was 16 & I love her with every fiber within me. I don’t call her by her name, I don’t call her “step.” I call her Mom. She has been my mom for many years. She didn’t have to play that role for me, my siblings were much younger than I was so her hands were full. But she did. She never treated me unkind. She always remembered (remembers) my birthday & things that I am especially fond of for gifts. Invites me to places she thinks I’ll enjoy. She was a spiritual beacon, guiding me with my own journey to Jesus. She is willing & able to discuss any topic with us, no matter how awkward. She is the mother I longed for while I was growing up. I will forever be grateful that she never shied away from being in my life, rather that she embraced me & loved me as her own. It is in large part due to her acceptance of me, that I learned how to be accepting & loving towards others.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Don’t forget to love the uglies, even the difficult ones. Hug a non mom. You don’t know why they are where they are but don’t assume they are “fine” with it.
Happy Mother’s Day to the rest of you: moms, non moms, wanna be moms, act like a moms, momma bears & momma birds. Keep up the great work!

Act First, Think Second

My recent Facebook post: “Every day I have friends tell me about their lives…Current situations, past hurts, broken hearts. I try to encourage, direct towards healing, show love, be the hands & feet of Jesus. I can’t explain how sad my heart feels with each burden my friends endure. I pray that each of you knows how tremendously beautiful & perfect I think you are (even with your flaws.) I pray each day that you encounter the love of God in a manner that blows your mind. I love you deeply, but he loves you even more. Look up from your burdens friends. He is waiting for you.”
Why did I not pull an original beginning for my blog post out of my cute little head? Because this works. Every. Single. Day.

I could literally write for days & days about the current burdens & pain facing my friends & family. Going into their pasts would probably be years of writings.

If you have been keeping up, you know this has not been the easiest road for me. I also have shared with you a few of the situations my friends have faced. Just off the top of my head, I can list:

  • Cancer surgery-tests pending
  • Family members with drug addiction
  • Gambling problems
  • Child under two facing third heart surgery
  • Domestic abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Children with emotional & behavioral disorders
  • Financial fears
  • Depression & anxiety caused by past pains
  • Distrust because trust has been stolen so many times before
  • And a frightening amount of other sicknesses & worries that could probably circle the earth


It took me longer to type the list than it did to think of it. My heart aches for each of these burdens (& all of the others not listed). My heart sees the pain trying to tuck itself deep inside. My eyes see the flicker of despair as someone tells me about the latest news in their quickly shrinking world. My distrust reads their distrust & I understand why they are quick to push others away. My fingers open texts messages & pause carefully as I try to type out encouragement while my eyes fill with tears over the addictions of beloved family members.

This world is so quick to judge, critique, or push us down. I never want to add to the list of things people are working through. I never want to be the person that makes a heart feel anything but love. As I have mentioned before, this life is short, my people will know how I feel about them. I hold dear any time I have with my loved ones (related or not.) I tell them I love them. I hug them tight. I hand out those tissues. I listen to their heartbreaks. I smile in the hallway or at the grocery.

And I wonder, why? Why do my people endure such pain? Why do I endure not only mine but theirs? Why is life so hard? Why can’t we just have one day that leaves us alone? Why doesn’t the world reward good people for being good? Why do people speak of karma when it is complete crap? If what comes around goes around, my life would be cherry Jelly Belly’s & red roses. I love the nuggets out of people, I treat them well. I don’t hold anger, I don’t yell (much). I’m a good God girl. So if that doesn’t hold much water, what is the next excuse?

Guess what I have come up with…it’s pretty deep. Maybe you should sit down for this.

Bupkis.

That’s right. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero.

Life doesn’t treat us one way in return for our behaviors towards others. Life doesn’t care. Life is not a person or feeling. It’s an experience. It’s a concept we all get to take to the drawing board to develop however we see fit.

For me, that is to love. Pure, unconditional, unearned & filled with grace. (Not a coincidence I call this blog Matilda GRACE.)

So when my friend texts me that her brother is on heroin, I drop everything in front of me to call her & check in. I add her to my prayer chain. I have spent several late nights texting when a friend is overwhelmed with stress. When a husband calls about a trip to Florida, I say yes I will help with the kids before I even know the dates or details. When a friend needs surgery, I take the day off, clear my schedule & stay with her. Whether a friend needs a meal, a hug, or a prom dress for their daughter, I try move into action and accomplish it.

As I see it, being the hands & feet of Jesus means act first, think later. If I allow my head to get involved in what Jesus’ people need, then I’m going to miss a lot of precious opportunities to love on my people. And loved on is what they need.

No, I can’t cure the cancer, the heart defects, the drug addictions, the broken marriages or eating disorders. I can only answer the phone, give a tight hug & pray. Pray my little pea picking brain out.

My prayer? What I said above. I pray that each of you knows how tremendously beautiful & perfect I think you are (even with your flaws.) I pray each day that you encounter the love of God in a manner that blows your mind. I love you deeply, but he loves you even more. I pray that one day, you will see the precious person God sees when He looks at you, His child. He wants us whole. He wants us happy. He wants us loved. THIS answer is simple: Look up from your burdens friends. He is waiting for you.


Yeah, I hear you. “Tuck your Jesus Freak back in, it’s really flying high tonight.”

No. I will not.

My Jesus freak is what has brought me through 44 years of life. A rough life. So when I say prayer has power, it’s because I believe it. I believe it because I don’t think I’d be here to annoy & torture you today with out my Jesus Freak. It’s ok if you disagree, Jesus loves you anyways. It’s ok if you haven’t spoken to Him in decades, He still wants to hear from you. It’s even ok if you have made mistakes. Even big ginormous ones that have you stuck in a dark pit of fear or despair. He can wash those away. In fact, He already has.

I stand on my faith so strongly because it’s the only constant & consistent truth I have ever known. My family life was rough. My marriage broken from the beginning. My son fighting demons much bigger than me. But not bigger than God. I may not be able to be around my son, but that doesn’t stop my prayers from going up for him. I know that as much as I want him safe & making the best choices, God wants that & much more for him.

This world doesn’t give one lick about you, your heart, your feelings or needs. But I do. So brace yourself. I’m leaving my Freak on. I may not always see the needs of others but when God directs me to do something, I do it.


Couple of funny things about action first…One, it doesn’t require Jesus. Just genuine kindness with zero expectations of return. Second, training yourself for this is simple, just listen. It doesn’t always cost money. Sometimes it’s time. Sometimes it’s grace or love. Third, changing someone else’s path will ultimately change yours as well, into something more beautiful than you could imagine. So buy that single mom & her child dinner. Hug the hurting coworker.

Love your uglies. Love your friends uglies. Love everyone’s uglies. We all have them. And they come from unhealed hurts. So rather than add to the ugly, help to heal it!

Love you bunches! Till next time.

My Girls

Today is dedicated to my girl gang. My tribe. My sisterhood of un-sisters. The women I need every minute of every day. The first texts I send each day, the first texts I send when life hits the fan. The place where my soul finds sanity & even better, a little insanity. I’m going to talk about 3 today but the truth is, my life is filled with amazing beautiful women.
Today was the birthday of one of the most beautiful women I know. She has been one of my best friends for only about 3-4 years at this point. You’ve read about her in the past. She is funny, wild, crazy, thoughtful & caring. She’s one of the people that makes my heart smile. When we make plans, I can only anticipate what kind of trouble we will get into. Nothing major, but why we are allowed into any Target store together is beyond me. I always expect to be stopped at the door & denied access. Lol. She brings out my wild side. I love & miss that side. (Believe it or not, I can actually be fun to be around.) I hope you had a Happy Birthday Chrissy. I can’t imagine doing this crazy life without you in my corner. I love you for every single little thing you are.


Saturday is the birthday of one of the other most beautiful women I know. This woman brings me strength in other ways. She builds my faith by refocusing my crazy back on Jesus in the midst of trials. She calls me to check in when we haven’t spoken in a while. She has a sweet kindness about her that fills a room, yet a mischievous streak as long as the earth is round. Michelle, I hope you have a Happy Birthday. I also can’t imagine doing life without you & I love you for every single thing you are.


Sadly, life isn’t always about Birthday cake and balloons. Sometimes we have to participate in things for the good of others. “Take one for the team” so to speak. These things may be no big deal to us at all. They may be inconvenient or out of our way, or maybe, it is something that may be hard physically or emotionally. The past few days have been difficult for me in this area. I volunteered to help a friend. I would never have sat back & ignored her need, but by stepping up, it threw me into places I was emotionally unprepared.

Since her story is not mine to tell, I cannot give details of the circumstances. It was however, an emotional situation. A “before/after” moment in her life. Leading up to that exact moment, she struggled with the strength to follow through. Via text I encouraged her as best as I could. I suggested she reach out to a friend to spend some time with. I knew I would be with her for 24 hours but she needed to be with others that also could love and support her. She reluctantly complied and met a friend for coffee.

I knew I needed to push her away from me for the weekend for a couple of reasons. She needed to see that there are others out there that love her as much as I do. She needed that unconditional acceptance. The reality of what she was about to do was really beginning to sink in with her and she was scared. I also had to push her away for myself. Because I could see what little emotional strength she had left, & knowing that I was going to be spending a solid 24 hours giving as much emotional strength as I could muster, I knew I didn’t have much in my reserve, because I rarely do. So to deal with her being on the shaky ground she was on concerned me. We made it through, with a lot of tears but we also managed to have some laughs.

When I returned from this excursion, people thanked me for being with her.

So.

Many.

Thank you’s.

I don’t know how to accept rejection, help, praise, or even thanks. Yeah, I know. That sounds crazy. Is this your first day here? Well, read backwards. You’ll see I’m one step away. I met with my therapist and mentioned how uncomfortable I was with being praised for doing what I feel any friend should do for another friend. (The appointment was already set. I didn’t need to rush for one after my crazy kicked in) She asked why it made me angry. I said because I think everyone should be more aware of people’s needs and if we all worked to meet others’ needs, maybe the world wouldn’t be so awful. She asked why it was so strong in me. Ugh. (Cue my tears) The follow up questions are always the worst. It’s because my whole life, the people that should have built my trust foundation were busy tearing it down. So I don’t feel like anyone will be there to meet my needs. So I don’t ask. And that reiterates my lack of trust so the cycle continues.


Apparently the way to fix this self preservation (aka destructive behavior) is to change my behavior. Seems a bit odd. I have trust issues because of broken trusts but to fix it, I have to trust people.

So, bear with me. I may be extra needy while I work through this. While I act like I can do everything on my own & I’m super woman, I am not. I have needs. Often times going unmet because I’m afraid of asking for help & getting rejected. But I am going to be working on this so…

To my girl gang-I love you all more than words.


Till the next time…Love the uglies, yours and theirs.

29 & Holding

There is this woman I know. She has fluffy white hair. Her cheeks are dimpled. Her eyes squinty from losing her vision. Her back is a little hunched from walking with a walker for several years. Her knees aren’t springy. Her ankles retain water. Her mind alert. Her wit sharp.

I have known and loved this woman since the day I was born.

She is my grandmother.

Two days ago I received a text informing me that she has been hospitalized. She is being treated for a Urinary Tract Infection and Congestive Heart Failure. They expected her to discharge yesterday.

She did not.

Her kidneys are slowing down.

Today the update was that family is flying in from around the country & in the morning her children will meet with hospice.

As my cousins & I sat around her hospital bed this evening, we joked about which one of us was her favorite. Clearly, I was the winner. We told stories of things we remember from our childhood. We laughed at our silliness & the fun we had always had when visiting “ma-maw” & “pa-paw” as children. (Don’t laugh. I told you I was a corn fed mid-Western white girl.)

But what my cousins or aunts or uncles don’t know is the value this woman has in my heart.

Was she perfect? Nope. She is a liar. If you ask her age, she will tell you 29. Since I was a child, this woman has been 29. Lying in that hospital bed tonight was not a 29 year old. Lying there was my 91 and 1/2 year old grandmother. And all I could think about was all the moments I have had with her, and all the moments I wish I could have with her.

When I talk about being sassy or ornery or stubborn, I always say I got it from my grandma. She’s Irish. We don’t have the ginger hair but we have that ornery and sometimes cantankerous wit.

My grandparents house had comic books, (stacks & stacks & stacks!!!) a creek with a bridge over it, blackberry bushes, tons of land and a cement turtle we would ride to wherever we were headed that day. We had adventures every time we were there, catching crawdads in the creek, eating blackberries and hiding from one another. If I was alone I would read comic after comic. I would sort them out so I would remember which ones were read and which I had yet to read. I would organize them so neatly only to have my cousins visit in between me and mess them up.

She had a clear glass cookie jar on the counter we would sneak cookies from. She had teaberry gum. Her bathroom smelled like old lady rose soap, one of my most favorite scents now. They lived just down the street from a natural spring so we would take milk jugs and fill them with water. It was so crisp and cold we would drink as much as possible before leaving.

When I was in junior high, my mother quit speaking to her. When I got my license, I would drive myself to their house and eat lunch or hang out with them. She introduced me to one of my favorite movies, Brigadoon. It’s silly. But now more than ever, it will be special.  I got a job at a mall that backed up to their yard and I would stop by before or after work. I loved visiting with them. Rarely was I alone. Someone else always popped in.

After I moved out of my parents house, I remember she said to me once that she didn’t know how to save me from them. What I didn’t realize at the time…

She had.

Looking back, the fond memories I have in my childhood include my cousins, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents (excluding the child molester), my sisters & friends. Many of those memories happened at her house. My life was hard at home but my grandparents house was my sanctuary. They were my sanctuary.

So ma-maw, my wish is to see your fiery grin, to hear your sharp witted retorts and to kiss your soft cheeks for another 91 years. But if it is time for you to go home, to go see pa-paw, you leave behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. You have deposited bits of your heart & spirit into each of your children, grandchildren & great grandchildren. We will carry on the feisty Irish spunk in your honor. But you will be sorely missed because you have carried us along this journey for the last 91 years.

I love you Ma-maw.