I’ve Created My Own Prison

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We learn through pain that some of the things we thought were castles turn out to be prisons, and we desperately want out, but even though we built them, we can’t find the door.

Lamott, Anne (2012-11-13). Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (p. 37). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Trapped verb
1. a contrivance used for catching game or other animals, as a mechanical device that springs shut suddenly.
2. any device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares.

That ideal that once seemed so right is now the very thing that holds you hostage to its demands. It’s a scary place to be, sometimes lonely, sometimes heartbreaking, and always a place that you can move from, but always with consequences. Consequences that will be good and bad because there is always pursuit in a prison breakout. Only you can determine when you are willing to face those consequences.

My girlfriend’s husband recently was promoted in his job. The money is fabulous but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he is working 12-14+ hour days, comes home after the children are asleep and leaves before they wake up. “This is too great a price to pay”, she told me, “I never have time with him and if I selfishly envision a date with my husband, I take a father away from the precious few moments he may have with his children.” When I asked her why he didn’t just take a step down in position she said, “We bought a new car, leased a beach house for the month of July, and put the kids in private school, we couldn’t even consider it now.”

Seemingly trapped without a door of escape.

An acquaintance who began dating a man who was still married but separated from his wife. Dating for almost two years now, but he hasn’t filed for divorce. She’s well invested into this relationship now. She loves him and he says he cares for her but he’s in counseling with his wife.

The fairytale that has trapped the princess in the tower.

My stepmom friend who fell in love with him before he met his kids and crazy ex-wife. Then thought somehow love was going to cover it all. Now everyone is miserable.

Locked in a state of despair.

Then there I stand. Trapped in an ideal, up until last year, where I thought any time sitting down relaxing was wasted time. Headaches and heartache and stress and anxiety were so normal to me.

I decided to take a Milwaukee Super Sawzall to that mindset and I cut a hole for a door to walk out of the castle I had built. I can’t tell you it was easy. I can’t tell you that I don’t still have moments of anxiety where I hear myself try to coax my body into one more activity. These days I stop and I take a good look at what the cost will be, and I pray for the wisdom to know what the right thing to do is, even when I am afraid the answer is no and I desperately want a yes.

The Joy Of Service

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I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

There is something really great about service. In the deepest throws of depression it uplifts me. In the mundane day to day life, it brings excitement and purpose. In the busy hectic world in which I live, it slows it down to a pace outside of myself. I watch the expression of gratitude on the face of a recipient and it brings a feeling of gratitude to my heart. There is something wonderful in a life filled with service. What can you do to serve even one person this week? How did it make you feel?

Peace With Ourselves and God

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 2 Peter 1: 12For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

When my daughter was a baby I went to the priest of our church and asked to have her baptized. The priest sat across the desk from me and we had a heart to heart talk. He ended with, “Susan, go home and sprinkle some water on her head. The way you are living it will mean the same thing.” I wasn’t offended by him at all. I knew the rules of my faith and I knew I fell short. He explained how he didn’t believe in limbo and how making a vow is important and what the promise meant. As I think on him today, I pray God blesses him abundantly, he and all the other men and women of God who loved me enough to tell me the truth, and who loved their faith enough to not compromise it for numbers or popularity. I can visually see the scene in my head to this day and I see that woman speaking to that priest and she was dying, and he was offering her a chance a real life!

This past weekend I preached on one of those touchy subjects about knowing each other by the fruit we bear. It was a total God thing and I didn’t even blog this past week because I was studying for this message and trying to put it all together, in less than book form, and something more like what your rear end can handle in a service and still be effectively causing the process of thinking it through.

Can I be honest and say I do think about how people will take it? I have to reconcile the process of having peace without the acceptance of sin. Or rather, loving someone through a process rather than telling them all is well when it isn’t. You see, I appreciate the priest who spoke the truth to me. I count him as one of the seeds that was planted in me that caused me to change and become more aware of what I was doing and why. I believe still today that he cared more about my soul than he did of whether I liked him or not. That’s love.

Today I read the recent Gallup Poll that said 60% of Americans, of which 78% of those profess Christianity, say they do not think having a child out of wedlock is morally wrong. They still think having an extramarital affair is wrong but not having a child out of wedlock. As one who had a child out of wedlock, that would seem like good news but it wasn’t then and it isn’t now. Kids need a mom and a dad and they need those two people to get along and to function as a family.

To speak against this is to be thought of as hateful, judgmental, a hypocrite, and all the other terms thrown at Christians today. So I write today to settle your soul and mine. These ways of life created by God are there to save us from heartache. Whatever the world may say about you, boldness and love shall prevail.

Stepmom Appreciation

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This Sunday, May 19, is Stepmother’s Day. I want to give a shout out to all the women who are working this day out today. When you come into a pre-existing family, there are rules and rituals already established that you are not a part of. It’s never easy but with some help there is hope.

As one warrior to another, let me say that you are more than enough. You not only took on a new marriage and a new love of your life, you promise to love the children that are part of the man you chose. You now represent the majority of families in America, for better or worse. Love them well and know that you are a mentor. They  have two parents and so you aren’t there to replace anyone. You are merely there to mentor, guide, and love. You can do this! Get a great support group. They abound in communities and on the Internet. If you are looking for some help, don’t hesitate to find a good therapist who specializes in step families! I am part of a wonderful group of women who not only visit each other, call each other, and support each other, they are going through the same thing. Some are further along and help you navigate the path more clearly. My stepmom friends have been an absolute godsend to me! I don’t have a clue what I would have done without them. I honestly think my marriage would have been in danger without them. They cheered me on, they loved me through it, they told me when I was wrong, they helped me step back when I was in too deep, and they brought me back from the brink many times. I love them as sisters and mentors!

Today I honor you. You are brave. You are trying. You are amazing to even take on this endeavor. Most of you are not evil, though I’ve met some while not evil, are narcissistic and foolish. That’s an ugly combo. Hopefully that’s not you. I love you and just in case everyone forgets, I wish you happy Stepmother’s Day from the very bottom of my heart!

 

For So Long

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For so long 
You and me been finding each other for so long 
And the feeling that I feel for you is more then strong, girl 
Take it from me 
If you give a little more then you’re asking for 
Your love will turn the key ~ Lyrics to I Just Want To Be Your Everything by Andy Gibb circa 1977ish

When I was 12 I was in love with Andy Gibb, the younger brother of the Bee Gees. I wanted to marry him when I grew up and this song was one day going to be sung to me by Andy himself. Of course Andy Gibb was quite a bit older than I was and didn’t know I existed but those were minor details. I had posters of him and Rob Lowe plastered on my wall. Andy Gibb was my teen crush. Before that, when I was in elementary school, I was going to marry Donny Osmond. I guess I’ve always had a thing for musicians and Mormons.

Life has a way of moving forward and Andy Gibb married Victoria Principal who I saw in an infomercial years later as she urged me to put cream on my neck because “you may forget but no one else will”, and I never did. She later divorced Andy Gibb because of his heavy cocaine addiction. Andy eventually died in 1988 at the age of 30. By then I had moved on in my life and mourned my teenage crush by reading about it in People magazine and thinking it was so sad. So where am I getting at?

Only that while on vacation in Kauai this spring, Doug and I rented a jeep and were cruising down the coast as I scanned the radio for a station. I found one and settled back when suddenly the intro for I Just Want To Be Your Everything came  on. I sucked in my breath, turned the volume up, and sang to my heart’s content. Suddenly the words meant so much more to me! I was truly with the absolute love of my life, and that dream of a guy who would love me like the words to that song were real. Gone were the relationships of teen fantasy,  it had all fallen into place when the timing was right realizing that before that I was only trying to rush the for so long part of the song.

I wish I could show all of you young girls, who are reading this, my life in snapshots and how if I had just waited for correct timing I would have made that teen girl’s fantasy come true. In that moment on that road in Kauai, I reached over and grabbed Doug’s hand. I squeezed it, smiled big at him and said, “Baby, I love you and guess what? We’re in Hawaii on a beautiful day, having fun, with not a care in the world. Do you know that when this song was popular I was in Junior High?” He drove on, smiled and said, “Umm hmm”, having no clue of my revelation, and looking for a place to pull over at the beach he continued, “Bet you didn’t know you’d be here with me”.  No, I didn’t but I’m super glad I am!

Laying It Down

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There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.

Lamott, Anne (2012-11-13). Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (p. 14). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Have you ever just had to lay your burdens down? I mean I know it sounds dramatic but there is something so freeing in the surrender. Something about the Be still and know that I am God, process of life. (Psalm 46:10). When you just kind of look up at the sky and say,

“I can’t figure this one out, you’ll have to kick in some help here. I know You know, and I know You’ve been waiting for me to give up, so I’m crying uncle.” 

I wish I could tell you that magically it happens in an instant and a remedy comes but it doesn’t usually work out that way for me. Sometimes it seems as if I’ve taken a number and I’m waiting at the DMV of heaven for one of the clerks to make sure my paperwork is correct just to send me to wait in the next line. Slowly but surely the answers come. Not always in the form I would like but  here is where it gets tricky, I have begun to trust it’s the form that is intended. Even when I don’t like it. Even when I don’t understand it. Even when it makes me mad.

I talked to someone recently who said she can’t come to church because she’s mad at God for making her go through some things she doesn’t feel are fair. I smiled and said nothing. Maybe I should have been God’s defender but I figure God is dealing with her just as he is dealing with me and maybe she has to walk it out just as I do. Sometimes despite what people say, your testimony just sounds like a political speech. I simply pray for her for the most part. Other times, I go through scenarios of what I could have said. “Why are you special?” “Oh, so it’s okay for others to go through this but not you?” Only that isn’t effective is it?

I wish I could tell you that I’ve mastered the secret of surrender and I have 5 easy steps for you to follow. I don’t. I know I do roll over and show my belly a lot easier than I used to. Maybe it’s age, or maybe I might have learned a thing or two. I do know this: Worrying gives me a headache and doesn’t make the answer come faster. Instead laying it down, clearing my agenda, and waiting as patiently as I can seems to be working.