An expectation of peace


I don’t actually know where Stone Temple Pilots got their name. If I give some thought to it, my mind conjures up some cross between Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark and the closing scene of Casablanca. I’m not really sure why I think of two iconic movies to relate to a thrashing about harder edge rock group like Stone Temple Pilots. It’s sort of the same thing with their song Sour Girl. I think  Sour Girl came out around 1999. Pretty sure the lyrics don’t mean what I think they do. However my heart is always drawn Matthew 4:19 with

What would you do?

What would you do if  I followed you?

What would you do if I follow?

I have climbed to the top of some temple ruins but I have never been inside a temple. But I imagine solitude, order, and an expectation of peace. I imagine in some parts it would be ok, socially acceptable if you will, to weep and wail and tear sackcloths. However I have read during the actual Temple period,the temple in Jerusalem had an inner room called the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This was where the Presence of The Lord resided. The Holy of Holies could only be approached once a year by a priest who had spent an extensive time in cleansing to make sure his sin had been absolved but even then he had to carry a blood sacrifice with him to ensure he was not struck dead by God’s holiness. With Jesus’ death and resurrection we receive the benefits of the final sacrifice, he now becomes the fulfillment of the temple.

I can’t say I have been entering the temple with a posture of solitude and an expectation of peace. I seem to continue on this path of constant stress and panic. I’m the crazy woman  wearing one rainbow sock, an antennae hat, and a trash bag dress running around the temple screaming “the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” I know Jesus in on the the throne reigning in his temple but I seem to just be running around his throne rather than approaching his throne with grace and confidence. I am so frenetic and spastic I can’t seem to see the abundant gifts in his hand he is patiently waiting to give me.

Mercy. Help. Wisdom. Confidence. Peace. Contentment. Discipline. Community. Rest.

The very things  I have been crying out to him for as I circle the throne rather than approaching the throne with confidence and trust that He is who He says He is and He does what He says He is going to do. Because He loves me. He loved me before I knew Him. So much so he was willing to be the ultimate sacrifice for me to approach the Holy of Holies.

 

Hebrews 4:14-16

I know this sound


I flipped my laptop closed and murmured my daily mantra.

Today is done, gone the sun, try try again tomorrow.

I clicked off my bedside lamp and slid my laptop under my bed for safe keeping. I set my phone for 5:34 a.m. and turned on my sleep fan app. I rolled over on my right side with my odd combobulation of my right head flopped over the top of my head to subconsciously twirl the hair on the left side of my head as I tried to drift off the bed. But I wasn’t actually tired. I was just trying to be responsible and self-caring by forcing myself to go to bed.

As soon as my head sunk that extra 1/2 inch into the pillow I heard it immediately. I knew this sound.

I could hear my heartbeat racing through my pillow. This has always been a cue for me of pretty intense anxiety. I have not done much in the past week to curb my stress and worry over some federal labor law changes that will have a pretty substantial impact to Sparrow’s operating budget. My brain started racing of all the “what ifs” I can’t get this figured out in time. Then my brain made a quantum leap to 6 year old me enduring a silent anxiety attack in my bed.

More nights than none when the lights turned off that was a sign for my brain to turn on when I was a little girl. My heart would feel like it was going to jump out of my chest. I felt like all four limbs were concreted to the mattress. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t make a sound.

That childhood scene is where my mind’s eye just turned its paralyzed view tonight after hearing my heartbeat through the pillow. But I couldn’t have that happen.

The Journal of Experiential Psychology recently published an article by Allison Wood Brooks entitled Getting Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement.  The findings of this study seem to show intentionally seeking an alternative behavior from anxiety to excitement. In other words, people who chose to reappraise their anxiety, which is typically seen as a negative emotion, to excitement which can promote more positive emotions feel more excited and are hence more productive rather than paralyzed.

Tonight as I try to lay back down and fall asleep sin apprehension my reflection is to choose excitement over figuring out this puzzle and keeping the precarious balance of what is best for Sparrow and what is best for my employees and trusting God with every piece. This may be the first rubik’s cube I ever get to figure out in my lifetime!

#bringit

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

 

I have decided that I am a F word


The tutu I had to wear for dance class was entirely too scratchy. My overalls were preferred. I got in my first fist fight with a boy when I was 8 and I remember being appalled that he would hit me in the face as a girl. A boy named Brian told me I couldn’t run faster than him because I was a girl and he had Zips. I took in the notion that Geraldine Ferraro was not a strong woman because she cried in public.

A boy named Scott told me because I had a girl sized ball I wasn’t a real basketball player. A boy named Damien walked behind me up the stairs to our 5th hour class and would always pinch my butt under my 90s mini skirt. I debated all too often am I the pretty dumb girl or the smart tough girl. I hear my father telling me not “to worry my little pretty head over that. ” I sat in my Sociology of Women class at Texas A&M and wondered if my professor knew how offensive she sounded spouting about women’s rights.

I felt my chest tighten and my stomach church reading Galatians 3:28 knowing I could not allow my daughter to continue to learn in a church environment that did not see her the way God created her. I re-discovered Katie Hays and began to question if it was ok for me to question and if it was divisive or unity building. I questioned my choice of the 2 inch heels or the 3 inch and what message that would send in this meeting dominated by men. I read about Victoria Woodhull and how she was dismissed as a viable option because she must be off her rocker. I think I would have cut my hair like Amelia Earhart and worn her line of clothing. I overhear my husband’s conference calls and secretly wonder why the women on the call sound so obnoxious. I find myself thinking we have come so far baby so why aren’t we happy with what we have.

But I feel men should open the door for me not because I am not able but because I am worth it. I feel women and children first should be our mantra because there is no civil society without them. I don’t understand how women can conclude that abortion is pro-woman but if they have truly done their homework and they are using their brain I have much more respect for them than most others. I do feel there are jobs women do better than men and I believe there are jobs that men do better than men. I feel men should be given honor and respect but not at the expense of a woman. I don’t understand why they church view women through the 1st century lens.

I believe we shouldn’t fight the DNA of the gender we are born as but that we should examine our socialization of little boys and little girls. I believe there is absolutely no justification of a man abusing a woman in any way such as physically, psychologically, financially or sexually but I believe the same is for a woman towards a man. I believe there is a gender wage, education, and career gap that cannot be ignored any longer. I believe a woman should speak up for themselves and not be labeled a bitch. I believe Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 makes so much more sense being read by a woman. I think women should not be afraid to stand up for other women who have lost their voices to men. I believe respect and dignity should be the expectation and standard of living for both sides.

I cannot fit all these things into one definition. I don’t feel the need to justify my femininity  with my equality. I don’t seem to be able to fit all of these beliefs under one heading or context. But I think this is why just last week I realized I am a messy,messy feminist. And that is it is not a cuss word to say so.

Muscle Memories


At best I am an awkward hugger. It may be a timing thing. I usually don’t see the hug coming. I don’t want to freeze up and be unresponsive. I have just a split second to decide “Do I go high with the arms?” Then I wonder if I’m being too vulnerable, exposing the rib cage and belly makes it too easy for someone to stab me with a knife ( I might read too many spy thrillers). I’ve also popped a few people in the head coming in too fast with a High Hug. I could go in low with my arms close to my body which is only problematic if the person initiating the hug comes in low as well. We end up looking like a pair of Rock Em Sock Em boxers.

It probably is a height thing too. As a tall woman, if I am hugging some one of smaller stature than me I tend to come in Flying Eagle style and mummy wrap them with both my arms tying down their arms. That way the recipient may be able to avoid “too much face in the too much chest area.” If the other person is just a tad taller than me I have to deal with a whole other issue of not being able to breathe as my face is launched into a shoulder.

It’s got to be a bit of sensory issue as well. I would much rather have a Brute Bear Hug Squench than an English Tea Style Flutter Hug. Again, I have a split second to determine how long I have known the person, is it socially acceptable to Brute Bear Hug Squench or do a polite flutter step, if they are a flutter hugger can my sensory issues handle it for a brief moment, are they of a generation of huggers or hand shakers, etc. So much information has to be processed in short time period for a successful hug to go down. I keep trying despite my awkwardness to build that muscle memory of how to give a good hug.

A friend shared a story with me about a time not too long ago where he took an ex-con in drug recovery to help homeless men in St. Louis. My friend would find street guys and get them over to an area shelter for a hot meal. They came across a man whose humanity was dangerously close to disappearing. My friend described the homeless man as someone who probably couldn’t remember the last time he had a shower. Every bodily discharge from vomit to mucus was encrusted to the left side of his face. He most likely lived off the trash and was overlooked daily as trash. My friend’s buddy stumbled through asking the homeless man how he was and if he would like to come get a hot meal. There was a pregnant pause then the homeless man did something that was least expected.

He embraced the ex-con in an elongated hug.

There were decision to be made again in a split second of whether to receive the gift of the embrace. There was the moments of surprise and a few moments I’m sure to get over the bodily odors but then my friend tells me there were tears. Tears from both men but mostly tears from the ex-con. As my friend tells it, the ex-con did not remembered being hugged for almost 40 years. And here it came from the most unlikely of places.

My friend is an excellent story teller but one of the reasons this story of his will not leave my heart is what happened as we were preparing depart each other after coffee. We said our goodbyes, and said we loved each other and gave each other our typical hug goodbye at the street corner where we would go our separate ways. An older gentleman stepped in and laughed and asked if he could have a hug too. There was no hesitation between the two of us. We joined in a group hug with a complete stranger. And there was an immediate sense of having done the right thing to create unity and joy on a street corner.

We all need a muscle memory of our human-ness. We need physical touch to buffer each other against this difficult world of constant tension and derision. Go ahead and do the easy thing of hugging friends, family, young children, and dogs. And then do the thing that proves we are meant to be on this planet at the same time with each other and hug someone you don’t know. Flex your humanity muscle.

See how you can change your world with building that muscle.

 

 

They Said I Should Be A Trash Truck Driver


When I was a little girl I had a very solid career path laid out for myself. I just knew I would be a nurse. Or a teacher. Or maybe teach about nursing. But definitely be a librarian or work in a book store or probably an office supply store. But then I would have to be a writer or a dolphin protector or write about the dolphins and then after that I would an astrophysicist/musician.

As I grew up and started to see where my actual gifts and talent I seemed to rest less on creating re-location settlements on the moon or writing for The Nature Conservancy to earning the love of young children. I babysat a lot, volunteered at church in the nursery and VBS, and joined FTA and earned a student teaching assignment my senior year of high school. Despite my typical average to above average grades my dad pushed me to join the military to pay for school. That plan was not anywhere on my radar and I was confident I could win some scholarships to at least partially pay for school.

And then I took the ACT. I needed a 25 to get into the school of my choice. But I only got a 19. So I took it again. And only got a 19. I was devastated.

The ACT in all of its wisdom to move high school students towards institutions of higher learning make suggestions of possible careers based on your ACT score. One of my suggestions was to become a trash truck driver. I am sure this is a very noble profession and attracts incredibly hard working individuals. However, when you think you are college bound through scholarships and see no reason for anything stopping you from becoming a professional in several different  fields it is a slight blow to the psyche to hear you can aspire to be a trash truck driver.

But the real tragedy was I believed what the ACT said about me based on my test score. A printout that had a few points of data on me suddenly changed the trajectory of my life. My self esteem crashed. Everything I thought I knew about myself disappeared. I no longer had confidence in my abilities. I convinced myself that my supporting circles had been spouting lies about me to distract me from the reality that I was a nothing. I had no talents. I wasn’t meant for anything good. I was sub par and mediocre.

You may notice that I do not have the privilege of driving a trash truck today. At some point a few teachers, mentors, friends, and family members one by one pointed me towards a brighter future. They encouraged me not to give up on my dreams. They taught me the truth about education and about myself. The re-occurring theme was “if there is a will there is a way.”There was also the theme that if I was meant to be a trash truck driver than I was to be the best trash truck driver, the most creative trash truck driver, the most responsible trash truck driver, the hardest working trash truck driver, and the most positive trash truck driver.

There is a young person in your life that needs to hear these things as well from you. They need to know the value of hard work. Of doing their very best in whatever situation they are in. To not doubt who they are and to never give up on their dreams.

I would love to hear who this person was in your life. Who helped you get to where you are today? Who made it hard for you to give up?

 

Maybe I was holding my breath


I may have been holding my breath. That might explain part of it. Perhaps I was dreaming. For whatever reason this morning I woke up by a gasp of my own breath.

There was no feeling of fear just surprise. That I was still alive.

And then extreme gratefulness that I was still alive. And leaky eyes of gratefulness for this life I have been given.

For my husband and family and our home, and cars, and friends, and purpose, and air to breath, health, and friends, and creativity, and dreams, and love and desire and donuts and beer, and the love of children, and goofy jokes, and faith, and trails framed in green, and political freedoms and rights, books, and conversations about important things and watching precious friends cry over gifts, and anger over things that are not right, running, and Amazon, and painted nails, and scripture of truth, memories, and blessings, and laughter, and tater tots, and Grammy’s, and so many many other things and not enough words.

 

Does he hear my heart?


I worked a shift at The Nest yesterday. I didn’t want to. My husband is on a long trip and my youngest is struggling with just me. He prefers both mom and dad at the house with him. And I already work long hours during the week and often have to be gone at night away from my family for events and volunteer meetings. I didn’t want to work on a Sunday but you do what you do for what is best for all.

Erica took Chi to her apartment so she could spend a few hours cleaning before her move in on Wednesday. Then Erica ran errands for Chi’s Launch Party at The Nest last night. I stayed back to be with the littles, clean the kitchen, and mop and vacuum the floors. Little #2 woke up not happy from his nap. I would carry him on my hip while I steam mopped and vacuum those darn Nest floors. But to change rooms, I would have to put him down to unplug the mop/vacuum, and move it and then pick him up again. He would bury his head in my neck after screaming to be picked up and commence to “sup-supping” as he calmed himself and settled into my vacuum rhythm.

After the third room change he had just about had it with being put down, picked up, settled, then put back down again. I finally relented and turned off the vacuum. I sat down on the couch to soothe him more solidly. Those dark moon eyes glared up at me again when he realized we had changed positions. Anticipating being put down again he started to gear up the fountains. When I didn’t sit him on the floor but instead sat on the couch cooing to him and gently rocking him while I rubbed his back he let a out big sigh and then did a beautiful thing.

He placed his little chubby hand on my heart.

He tilted his head to the side in curiosity as he seem to connect to the beating of my heart. Then he placed that little head on my chest and seemed to listen to my heart. His body released whatever tension or stress he was experiencing and he settled into my arms. Tears suspended. And all was finally well in his corner of the world.

I whispered to him, “do you hear my heart little one, do you hear how much I love you? Do you hear I would do anything to protect you and fight for you? Do you hear from God why I love you so much? Do you know at this early age how much God loves you? Do you know the battle that raged around you before you were born? Do you know the miracle you are to even be here today? Do you know how important you are? Do you know that God has great plans for you to make a huge impact in His kingdom? ”

He lifted that little head and those dark wise eyes stared deep into mine. And then he head-butted me, leaving a schmear of snot on my cheek. To wrap up our intimate moment he spit up on me and then used me for the next 30 minutes as a brutal jungle gym.

Such is life. But life is good. The work is hard. But the work is good.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6