One little snapshot. That’s how I remember the moment. Every time I hear the trend-ish expression, “I love you to the moon and back,” I think about it.
My firstborn was only fourteen months old. We had just come in from a full afternoon of story time at the library and playtime at the park, our tote full of toddler books. She still had sand in the baby-crevices in her arms, and under her neck, all the cracks in her tan little body that the sun couldn’t reach but the sand always did.
She was whining and going limp, the kind of tired that she couldn’t identify, and neither could I.
When you’re a mom, you think you should be able to identify all of the cries.
I sank into the living room couch and patted my lap for her to come sit…
Things have been a little slow here at the Bakery, but they’ve been moving along at quite a clip behind the scenes. For one week this month, I traveled a couple of hours away to attend a 30-hour course at Recovery Coach Academy. Last week, I was under the weather, but I can’t wait to start blogging again to share some of the things I learned at the academy.
Like, there are many more pathways to recovery than I ever knew existed.
And we are all much more alike than we are different. This is especially true in the world of recovery.
I also took away the profound truth that being in recovery is a sheer gift. And I needed that reminder.
So, apologies for neglecting my little space in the blogoshpere, but I’ve been absorbing tons and will share those musings with you in due time.
Also **SHAMELESS PLUG** The new In Recovery Magazine Summer issues should be hiting stands at Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million nation-wide. (You may also purchase at http://www.InRecoveryMagazine.com.) Yours truly contributed a piece titled “Plan B” in the issue. I love, love, love the work of that publication!
Greetings from the State Capital! I am reporting from Raleigh today to share a story with you that is a little difficult to share and really quite embarrassing. But I feel transparency is important, so here it goes:
Several months ago, I made a decision to start a brand new career at 47 years of age. I didn’t think it would be too hard because I’ve kind of been doing aspects of this job for many years. It’s my passion and I badly want to succeed at it.
When I grow up, I want to be a Peer Support Specialist in the recovery field.
Yes, it’s a thing. But it’s a pretty new-ish thing. I did my research and signed up for the certification class. I tried to dot my ‘i’s, and cross my ‘t’s’. I wanted to make sure it was right. I arrived today (the first of five days) early and with sharpened pencils. I would have brought the instructor an apple, but I didn’t want to appear over-eager.
So imagine my surprise when, in the middle of the first day of training (yes, it took me half of a day), it dawned on me that I was sitting in THE WRONG CLASS. I had traveled half the state away and booked a hotel and spent gas money on a program to become a Recovery Coach – a noble aspiration, but not exactly what I thought I signed up for.
When the realization hit, I felt my face burn. And the barrage of self-shame was immediate.
You DUMBASS, me called me-self. How could you get this SO WRONG? Very quickly, things got dark in my head. This is why you are having a career crisis in mid-life. Get your SHIT TOGETHER, loser. You’re old, you’re not qualified. You can’t do anything right. You just really can’t. You never have and you never will. Well, that escalated quickly!
But then I did something crazy and deliberate. I caught myself and decided to treat myself the same way I’m always imploring others to treat themselves – grace-fully.
I’m here for a reason. I’ve already met incredible people who I can tell will become friends. I cannot spend a few hundred dollars and five days to launch a new career. It will take longer and be more difficult. But so what? God’s got a PLAN, MAN. Go with the flow already.
It wasn’t automatic, I had to deliberately derail the sneaky spiral of negative thoughts. THIS IS A BREAKTHROUGH.
As it turns out, I will need these credit hours to become certified anyway. I’m just doing things in reverse – not because I’m a dumbass who cannot do anything right, but because I’m a willing participant in whatever gig Abba has got going behind the scenes. It doesn’t have to look like my preconceived notions (and it’s usually better it doesn’t.) My very kind instructor and awesome classmates (some of which made the very same mistake) all rallied around and noshed on the process.
“Is it a big deal I didn’t take ‘x’ class before ‘y’ class?” I asked.
“Oh, you couldn’t have signed up for ‘x’ class anyway before now,” the instructor informed us. “The state suspended the training. They’ve only just now re-instated it.”
Shortly after this episode, I private-messaged one of my best girlfriends. She is this fabulous, wild, creative, loving tour de force for the Father, and a safe place for me to fall on more than one occasion. She had very recently schooled me on taking every thought captive.
Me: I screwed up, but I’m not going to stay there because I’m here for whatever reason and have learned tons and met incredible people already…Here for a reason!
My sweet friend: I am so proud of that much progress in giving yourself GRACE! !! (God) allows us to make this sort of mistake so we learn to apply grace liberally and immediately!
Yes! of COURSE! Instructions for grace: Apply liberally and immediately. I LOVE that.
Be tender and gentle with yourself.
Don’t call yourself any name that you wouldn’t call a hurting friend to her face.
I’m allowed to make mistakes, and so are you.
I’m starting a brand new career at 47 years of age, and that’s kind of a brave thing to do. It’s my passion, and I will (God willing) succeed at it. It may take longer and be more difficult, but all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.
Your thing? It’s brave, too. Do the thing. So what if it doesn’t go off without a hitch. You’re DOING it!
Do something crazy and deliberate. Be passionate.
And when you mess up? Apply grace liberally, and with the same zeal you grant it to others.
Dug this one out because I’m making a significant life-change and it has completely obliterated my physical cravings for junk AND most of my emotional cravings for junk. No small feat! (**It’s Plexus, and yep….I’m a Rep.)
It sure has been a difficult time lately, with losses and goodbyes for my family, challenges and changes, and much “waiting upon God,” even when it feels like he taking kind-of a long time to lead us where we need to go! And usually, I cover pretty heavy topics on thebeggarsbakery.net – alcoholism and addiction, parenting teens, marriage, health woes, etc.
So, in a departure in what I usually write about, today’s piece is a Humor Column. Years ago, before so many heavy things, I had a humor column in a tiny, local paper – and it was ridiculously fun. This article addresses one of my passions and pains: food, and trying to understand and achieve health, after so many years of taking abysmal care of myself.
I hope it makes you smile, at the very least. Please feel free to share the link with any middle-agers who are struggling…
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and because it was Mother’s Day, I cried a lot. I cried because it is my first totally empty nest Mother’s Day. I cried because my own relationship with my mother is fractured into a bazillion pieces. I cried because someone I love didn’t acknowledge me at all. I did have a few tear-free segments of the day, but menopause was around to keep the good times rolling.
I may or may not have fed my feelings heaping spoonfuls of Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Ice Cream.
I’m still kind of mopey, honestly. But I’m getting a grip today. I must get a grip today.
You see, I love my daughters. Oh my God, how I love my daughters. But they took different paths than I’d expected.
I think that every mother has a certain set of dreams and assumptions for her child. Those assumptions are that your child will grow up to be successful and kind and happy, and stop wiping boogers on the wall. Happily, this is usually the case.
I assumed mine would grow up and get scholarships to universities because they are super smart, they would naturally stay away from all drugs and alcohol (from, you know, learning from MY mistakes, like THAT ever worked,) graduate college and get jobs they are passionate about. That they would be in straight, monogamous relationships – not living together before marriage – then get married to Godly men, and have a couple of kids that they devote their entire lives to, just like mom. (But that was MY own dream, and I couldn’t even do it right!)
Then there are is The Big Granddaddy of All Dreams – that they will follow God – really know Him on a personal, intimate level. That they will pray regularly, and allow Him to guide their lives.
The reality is that kids are not appliances – there are no warranties. They are on a crazy merry-g0-round. You can try to hop on if you dare, but it won’t slow down for you and in the end, there is a lot of nausea involved. It’s best just to stay out of the way. There is no control.
There is, however, a loving God we can trust them to.
Perhaps your child grew up and stopped wiping boogers on the wall (remember when that seemed like such a BIG DEAL? Sigh) but instead ran away from home and you don’t know where she is.
Or is gay / transgendered.
Or is a drug addict.
Or is in prison.
Or drinks to much.
Or is mean to people who don’t think the way she does.
Or has turned her back on everything you taught her.
Or hates you.
Or hates God.
…Any deviation from the loving plans you made for that child when she was first born and they lay her on your belly. (Remember how EASY it was to TRUST GOD with that child when they were brand new? Piece of cake!) New babies don’t stay new, though. They grow up and do wonderful, glorious, horrible, confused, amazing, and confounding things. Things for which YOU HAVE ZERO CONTROL.
Yet, in the midst of whatever your child engages in that breaks your heart, you still – always – love that child. If YOU love her so much, can you imagine how much ABBA loves your child? He isn’t surprised at your kid’s lifestyle choices, and He isn’t limited by our ways of imagining our children ‘fixed.’
There is no grace deficit for your child that you have to worry will run out. God is merciful and FULL of grace! Because they are not the droids we were looking for – happy little predictable robots – does not mean God is not working out HIS PURPOSE IN OUR KIDS, even as they experience stuff.
I still pray every day that my wild and loving and confounding children will make good choices. I pray that The Big Granddaddy of All Dreams that I harbor in my heart for them comes to fruition. I will pray that until my dying breath.
I want to trust the Lord with my daughters JUST AS MUCH as when they lay on my belly as little newborns, squinting up at their mama. I want to trust Him that easily with them still, and I’m asking Him to help me do it.
I lay my children down at the altar and TRUST YOU with their lives. Ultimately I know that my children must know YOU intimately. Lord, help me get out of the way.
I’ve been watching you , keeping up with your feelings. I know you imagine I watch you from my throne in Heaven, so far way. But in reality, I’m as close as you as your own heart, the one that’s been broken; the one that has been skipping beats lately. I am as close as the breath you have a hard time catching when you try to cry quietly. I am right there with you.
You’ve been a bit down lately, really kind of “attitude-y Judy” if you will, and I know it’s because of Father’s Day. Well, really, your blues started to settle in around Mother’s Day, just last month. You have been out of whack ever since.
You are estranged from the mother that you dearly love, because you heart has decided that healthy boundaries must be in place, but your brain has decided those…
This series has taken me a really, really long time to write, and I think much of it is due to coming up with the 7th and final post in the series.
You see, I had planned on writing about Perichorisis for Dummies. I cannot dazzle you with my understanding of perichorisis (which the very learned C. Baxter Kruger discussed at The Open Table Conference) because this here dummy still doesn’t really understand the concept. There, I said it. I’m prayerfully working on it, but I’m not ready to write about it. (In short, the relationship of the Triune God is intensified by the relationship of perichoresis. This indwelling expresses and realizes fellowship between the Father and the Son. It is intimacy. Jesus compares the oneness of this indwelling to the oneness of the fellowship of his church from this indwelling.)
There is a thin ribbon of drool forming at the corner of my mouth and an expression of vapidness as I ponder this.
So instead, I’ve decided to write about something that was confirmed to me at the conference, something that may be the most seismic, earth-shattering thing of all: We give the devil far, far too much focus.
God gave me a little vision this morning before I was even out of bed.
“I MUST finish this series, God.” Say I. “Please O’ Holy God of the Universe, help me understand perichorises so that I can actually share these deep and abiding truths with my readers!”
To which God oh-so-customarily provides me with a completely random idea: The Wizard of Oz.
(One of the greatest misinformations in the world today is that being a Christian is boring and staid. To the contrary, God always keeps it interesting. He comes up with some far-out stuff….)
“I’m not interested in your readers thinking you’re smart, dear one.” I feel Him convey to my spirit. “I’m interested in you reminding them where to focus.”
He re-directed me to a message I’ve recently been imparted – that we spend so much time and energy talking about Spiritual Warfare that we forget it isn’t all about the devil and his demons.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her band of assorted and very needy creatures set off on a long journey that focuses on one thing: The Wizard. The activity of the mighty, all-controlling Wizard will bring resolution. We don’t like to think we give the devil his due to this degree, but often times, we do.
Oh, the devil has got me down
The devil won’t let up on me.
The devil is causing this or that heartache.
And you are probably right about those things. There is no doubt a battle in the Heavenlies for you. Again, Spiritual Warfare is a real, important thing.
But the MOST important players in it are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (hey, I DID reference perichoresis!) They are the Focus.
Because ultimately, when we complete this crazy Earth Journey in which we learn to love God and each other, the devil has already been defeated.
The devil roars and prowls like a lion, but It is Finished, and he knows it. He is an old, devious, evil – but toothless – lion.
Remember the ending of The Wizard of Oz? This is the guy who has everyone quaking in fear:
Dorothy and co-horts are SHOCKED to find out (thanks to scrappy little Toto) that The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz is really just a little guy with a lot of bluster in a bad suit hiding in a little booth. His whole persona is creating special effects that make him seem all-powerful.
One of my best friends likes to say this about satan: “Flick that imp off your shoulder.” I just love that visual. How is it possible to do that? Focus on the Triune God and his incredibly true and real love.
Don’t give the devil his ‘due.’ He isn’t ‘due’ anything. You owe him NOTHING. Not even fear! Don’t set off on a journey to find him out. You already know he is just a little guy pulling levers and creating special effects.
You are a child of the Most High King – walk in that favor.
(Here, in summary, is a video by another of the conference speakers, Steve McVey. Please, please watch it if you can. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing. There are angels, there are demons. I’ve really seen some sh*t, frankly. But we manifest what we focus on. Listen to his story about Palmetto bug illustration. Mind blown)