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I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING

I usually write songs…or grocery lists or checks for school field trips. But lately, I don’t know…it’s just time to start blogging. I feel it.  I love encouraging people, I love writing and I love (hate) being 81% melancholy.  I love crying when I listen to music and getting in touch with all those feels that people are always telling you to get out of. I crave authenticity, real relationships, truth, justice, chocolate and donuts. I love my children, my “people”, coffee, a stylish wardrobe, good music, Joanna Gaines and Jesus. I hope when you visit here you can laugh and cry and relate and feel a safe sense of belonging.  I hope you enjoy real-life stories and deep conversations with a little bit of lame and ridiculous mixed in. If you do, you’re in the right place.  I have no idea what I’m doing, but come on in and grab a seat.  Epic story coming soon…

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TATTOOS, REBELLION AND DIRTY NEEDLES

cropped-img_9433.pngWhen I was growing up tattoos were taboo and rebellious. Today, they are widely recognized as a definitive, creative way for people to express themselves and tell their stories. And depending on said tattoo they are also recognized as lame, beautiful, hideous, symbolic, impulsive and/or intriguing. I’ve heard it all. As we well know, everybody has an opinion.
Some tattoos have meaning. Others only symbolize the fact that you were barely coherent when you got yours. You know who you are…

I, for one, love a little marking every now and again. Mine are nothing elaborate or anything to write home about. I’m not trying to be hard or cool or Kat Von D over here. I’m just a wanna-be. Still, some of you hate them and are probably judging me right now. It’s ok. I still love you. Tiny pieces of any respect that my parents have for me gets chipped away with every one I get. It’s fine. We can agree to disagree. Either way, this is a terrible story so don’t leave now.

Here’s how it went down. I was out with friends on my 35th birthday. We lived in Colorado Springs at the time so downtown Denver was the place to be. I had just finished reading a book by Ann Voskamp called ONE THOUSAND GIFTS. My depiction and take-away of this writing can not do it justice so I won’t even try. Just let it be known that I was so moved by this book that I was willing to stamp my body with permanent ink to prove it. I wanted to add a tiny black string around my finger to remind me “in all things, be grateful”. So off we go. And down we go. No, literally. Underground. Downtown Denver. To Frank. Frank was a novelty. – ecsentric. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know. Frank spoke of many things – mostly shenanigans. And I listened intently as he prepared what could’ve very well been a dirty needle (I’m still not sure). I listened and listened until I could no longer hear the words that were coming out of his mouth. For you see, I could hear nothing over my sudden, intense pain comparable only to the enlightening stage of child birth. The ring of fire (but literally, the “string” of fire). I had no idea I was even pregnant, but this baby was about to come out the tip of my right ring finger. And he was a big one.

“I’m sorry, Frank. Excuse me. Do you have an anesthesiologist on hand, because I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need an epidural for this. It may only be a little ink, but sir, if I didn’t know better I’d say you’re sawing off my digit. Kindly stop lest I die.” I’m not kidding. I thought my time was up at 35 – underground – with Frank.  Don’t let me go this way, Lord. It wasn’t worth it and I’m not ready.

One very expensive trip to the ER later and the results were conclusive. Frank cut me nearly to the bone and left me with what looks nothing like a string – more like a Halloween spider that I endearingly named, Charlotte. She’s really a beautiful addition. I think I got that tattoo to remind me of something, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was (something about being grateful, maybe). Because now all I think about when I see it is FRANK. Thanks, Frank. You’re always in my heart. And on my finger (but hey, at least I still have one). And at least I’m not the only one walking around with a bad ink job. Some of you have it way worse than I do. I’ve seen the work. My condolences.

I digress.

Back to the topic at hand.

I do not claim to be a theologian on the matter of permanent body ink. I just like getting tattoos at random. To each his own.

Many people ask me about the tattoo on my right arm so let me give you a brief what-for. Besides trying to make my parents extremely proud, I wanted to get something symbolic of the valley I had just crawled my way out of. Also, after Frank, I needed redemption.

Here’s the story:
After my divorce I had to learn how to do life again. We – me and my two children – were hurting but strong. And we were headed in this new direction together.
And we were gonna make it, Lord-wiling and the creek don’t rise. I was determined. (So many other stories in here, but let’s move on).

For some reason I loved arrows (they’re all the rage) and as luck would have it, upon my studies of them, I found that they are a symbol of strength and direction.
While one arrow can be easily broken, a bundle is tougher to break. And here we were – this little bundle of weak strength. Being held tight by the arrow-maker Himself.
Figuring it out.
Forging a path.
Walking a new direction.
Together.

After lots of Pinteresting and careful consideration of where body marking #4 would actually take place,  I gave it a go on Birthday #41.
NO RAGRETS. (Please see google on the inter-webs for further explanation of this spelling).

Three “arrows” headed in the same direction.
This stupid, ridiculous, sweet, symbolic, beautiful (whatever you want to call it) piece of ink tells a part of my story. It forever and always reminds me that we are strong. I remember where I’ve been and where I’m headed. It is a constant reminder of who I am and who I’m raising my people to be. Tenacious. Tough and tender and full of grit. And God is not finished with us yet. Our story is not over.
My team of three. Making it.

Maybe I AM rebelling. Rebelling against all of the nay-sayers and the things that say I can’t do it, that I won’t make it. Rebelling against complacency – against the hurdles, the hard places, the status-quo.

I am finding as I meet new people and hear your stories, that I am not the only one walking that road. Many of us are facing or have faced circumstances we never asked for or never imagined being in – where we have to keep moving. We are all learning that even in the weak places we are still strong.

And we are still moving – together.

I’m grateful to walk the road with you. And I’m also excited to announce that…drumroll please… these three arrows are the newest addition to our I AIN’T DOIN IT merchandise line. In just a few short days you guys will be able to wear your story. I cry…

What do these arrows symbolize for you? Where are YOU headed? What are you standing up for? What corners are you turning? Who are you being strong for? What are you “not doing” anymore? What new way are you taking and what new movement are you pioneering? Whatever it is, may The Lord keep you steady and may you come out on the other side stronger and better for it.
I hope you love this new addition as much as I do.  And I hope it will encourage you to be bold and tell others about your journey. Somebody needs to see you being strong and owning it.

I can’t wait to hear your story!
Wear it well, family.

KRISPY KREMES AND MENTHOLS

The good ole’ New Year’s Resolution – or as I like to call it, The List of Good Intentions. You know, those things we say we’re gonna do but usually don’t. Oh stop! You know you do it – “commitment” with no follow-through. Yes, there are those chosen few who actually say they will and they do. To you sir, ma’am, my hat’s off.  Your word was your bond.  You’re the unsung hero. The champion. The victor. You made it.
EYE OF THE TIGER – they’re playing’ your song, Rocky.
 But for the rest of us… Why do we even bother? Hey, don’t beat yourself up. For years, I secretly promised myself to lose 20 pounds. Somewhere around pound 10 (or sometimes day 10) and a six count of Krispy Kreme I would give up and give in. My will for sugar usually wins out over that size-down in jeans. Then….oh, brother. Here is comes. Self-deprication for the remaining balance of the calendar year. As if January 1st is the magic number.
Here’s the bottom line – If we wanted to do it, we would – no matter the month or the year.
Because of my history of failure regarding this subject and specific day of the year, New Year’s resolutions aren’t something I normally commit to and most certainly don’t hinge the success of my future on. When I get ready to lose the weight or do the thing, I always do. However, ironically enough, I find myself entering this new year with much resolve. Courses of action have been taken.
Resolution.
Resolve. 
This past year has been one of great change. Growth. This seems to be a pattern in all of life. Make it stop. Or wait! Don’t, actually. If things weren’t constantly changing I would be forever bored with life. Wouldn’t you?
Many of the past year’s changes have been positive and exciting, the evolution of situations that have come to fruition. Things I never saw coming – like this one time I said this one thing ( I Ain’t Doin It) and now I have a new life. Kinda like that.
Other changes have been disheartening, disappointing. Some changes, my own choosing. Other changes, not so much. Relationships ended, hearts divided, sides taken, judgment, misunderstanding, loss… Resolve in it’s own right. Much of the unwelcomed resolve has shaken me to my core and caused me to reevaluate many things that I thought I knew. Resolve that has caused me to have to make my own hard decisions. It’s been a painful growth. This year has also posed many questions that only I could answer.
Who am I?
What do I believe?
Where can I give and bend?
Where can I compromise?
Where can I not?
Will I fold….quit?
What have I done?
What have I not?
What can I change?
What can I not?
Some of the answers to these questions are still being decided. Some are crystal clear. Either way, there has been growth.
Growth – Definition: Full development; maturity. Evolution.
In mistakes – growth. In hurt and loss – growth. In happiness and excitement – growth.
Wouldn’t it be great every now and then if life could just for five minutes be perfect – for everything to “be the way it used to be”?
But…evolution, growth, resolve.
I am learning that the circumstances around me don’t have to be perfect and wonderful for growth to occur. Growth is no respecter of persons. If I continue for the next five years to buy my 14 year year old a size 14 in clothes, does that stunt his growth? Does he stay the same size 14 because his mom refuses to alter accordingly? Hardly. After a good year his jeans that once fit will be skintight highwaters in fulleffect. (Also, he would hate me). Growth is going to happen whether we like it or not.
In all things, in hard situations, I am continuing to grow – growing as a mother, a friend, a comedian (when did I even become this?!?), a musician, a writer, a lover of Jesus. I am forever trying to learn to love better, apologize more, judge less, even though so often I miss the mark.
This year I resolve to embrace the horrible, wonderful process called growth, because it’s coming whether I like it or not. I resolve to not be so easily swayed by disappointment from others or by my own failures, to stand for what is right and know when to bow out gracefully, to submit but never compromise, to speak up more often and know when to say less, to give grace and accept it, to love better, to stay the course and to listen to the beautiful voice of the Lord who wants me close to Him – that voice that is and should always be my ultimate resolve.
The world will always try to dictate who we should be, but I am resolved that only God will decide that for my life.  My prayer is that He continues to lead and guide and speak (to that thing in me that wants the sugar and that I will listen).
 This is my New Year’s Resolution.
If you are trying to quit Krispy Kreme or your job or quit smoking menthols, or you are vowing to go skydiving or take that trip – Godspeed. You can do it. If you don’t quite hit your mark, well… I promise to be here to help dust you off and keep you moving. I promise to help those around me embrace their growth. We’re in this together.
Resolve.

SANTA CLAUSE, BABY JESUS AND RICKY BOBBY

Ahh…all the pretty Christmas lights. Some are as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day. Others…straight up ratchet. You know who you are.  I’ll never have to buy a ticket to the side show again for the rest of my life if you’ll just keep ’em lit year round. Good grief, this is better than seeing Cirque du Soleil live in Vegas. Could you run in the house and make me a funnel cake while I just sit here and watch? It’s mesmerizing. I don’t wanna miss a thing. Hey kids, forget Disney. We’re coming to the Jones’ house every night for a week. It’s way better than the Parade of Lights.

You know what really tips the scale for me this year? Giant Snoopy in a snow globe? No. The drive-thru nativity? Nope. The light-up Santa Clause leaning over baby Jesus in the manger. WHAT, EVEN?!?!?  I am absolutely awestruck by this holy wonder! I recently saw one of these monstrosities in someone’s yard and had to just stop and gawk. They probably thought I was casing their house, but I could not peel my eyes away. My brain is fairly demented so here’s how the conversation went with myself in my head:

What is he saying? What is Santa saying to baby Jesus right now? Is he welcoming Him into the world? You know Jesus was here first, right, Santa? I mean, you’re not even real. Are you asking Him what He wants for Christmas?

“Dear 8 pound 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus…”  Are you asking Him if He’s been naughty or nice? You know He’s not naughty, right? He’s Jesus.

And what is Jesus saying back? If I was baby Jesus I would say something like this:

“Look, Ricky Bobby. I may only be five minutes old, lying here in my golden fleece diaper, but you know I’ve been around awhile, right? God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? You’ve heard of me. Ok, great. So first, I’m gonna need you to back up out of my personal space. And secondly, I’m gonna need you to quit stealing my thunder. It’s my birthday, not yours. Please and thank you. Goodbye. Also, please leave me something besides gold, frankincense and myrrh in my stocking. That’s getting old.”

This whole conversation is disturbing. I know. I’m so sorry. So scary… Anyway, all that nonsense led me to start thinking about some of the ridiculousness that I, myself, bring to Jesus. Now, He loves me. He’s Jesus – patient, kind, loving Jesus. But I wonder if He gets tired of my cynical, self-centered requests? I wonder if He gets tired of my talking to Him like He’s a genie in a bottle? Of course, He never gets tired of us. But we do it sometimes, don’t we?

“Lord, I know you’re busy with real problems and lots of other broken things to fix, but if you could please miraculously change the attitude of my teenager by Friday I would be most appreciative. I will give extra in the offering on Sunday and I will look for one extra person to tell about You in the line at the grocery store. Yours truly…Tired Mom”

“Jesus, look. Here’s the deal. Tennessee football is really struggling this year. If you could help us out, we would sure be obliged. Signed, Volunteer For Life.”

“Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy many blessings. While You’re up there blessing folks, would you mind causing my sister-in-law, Irma, to come down with the stomach bug so we can just have a peaceful Christmas for once? I know you love her, but Lord…well…we don’t. So, please find it in Yourself to grant me this one wish. If You do, I will never cuss again. Signed, Desperate”

How often do we bring our requests to Jesus as though He is up there with a notepad – “You want what? Hang on and let me grab a pen…. Ok! Got it!” Or, how often do we come timid and afraid?

God wants to give us good gifts. He is our Father. To this day, my earthly father still loves to give me gifts – to see my happy. He gets tears in his eyes when He sees me light up about something that brings me true joy and fulfillment. How much more does our Heavenly Father delight in giving us good gifts!

We don’t have to come to Him like He is the granter of three wishes and only three. There is no having to choose wisely your wishes. There is no tip-toeing. There is no bargaining or bribing. There is no tit-for-tat with Jesus. There’s no fear. Make your requests known to God. He sees and hears. And He knows what we need before we do. We do not have to panic, nor do we have to tread softly. We come like a child to a father – boldly and with confidence that He wants to give us beauty in it’s time. We come trusting that He knows best (the struggle is real). We come to God, our Father – giver of wonderful things. His gifts are so much better than Santa’s (but I don’t know how anybody’s prayer could beat Ricky Bobby’s…)

JOY IN THE UPSET

Ahh…the good ole 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge. Let’s see just how much “thankfulness” we can publicly cram into a single month’s worth of Facebook statuses. I actually love reading these posts. While some folks are as sincere as the day is long, there are some folks who run out of thanks fairly early and start praising Jesus for ridiculousness somewhere around Day 4. That, or they turn their “thankfulness” into passive aggressive ways to air their dirty laundry.

“I’m thankful today that my baby daddy got arrested. He got exactly what he deserved.”
That’s a little extra, but you get the point.

Sometimes our view of gratitude and all it encompasses gets a little skewed. Ann Voskamp challenged me a few years ago as I read her book, One Thousand Gifts, to dig deep for the gratitude. It’s not always in the obvious.

Early on in life I set out for the American dream – the perfect (dysfunctional) family, the white picket (chain-link) fence , two perfect (nothing funny here-my kids are perfect😉) kids, a (slobbery, allergy-proned) dog, a nice (extremely used) car and a (lean) 401K that was being built while I stood back and did all the things I loved – raising babies, making music and making a home.

Absolute perfection (fiction).

My years of pursuit actually lended themselves to some form of that delusion, so my thankfulness looked something like this:

Thank you for this beautiful life you’ve given me. Everything looks exactly like I saw it going in my dreams (minus the happiness and the fence). I really appreciate that. Also, I would greatly appreciate you keeping it this way from here on out until I enter into Your gates with thanksgiving and into Your courts with praise. P.S. – You’re doing a great job, Lord! Keep up the good work!”

Being completely ignorant in and of my idealistic life (that was not really idealistic at all), this sounded completely acceptable in my head. It’s all I knew. Thank Him for the obvious (even if you are failing miserably and sustaining a disguise). Make everybody think you’ve got it all together, Heather. Pretend. And while you’re at it, throw some “thankfulness” in during the month of November for good measure. After all, it’s not called Thanksgiving for nothing.

I guess somewhere along the way, in the Lord’s fabulous sense of humor, He decided to call my bluff. “Thanks for the yearly shout-out, sweet girl. (This is Jesus talking for all you slow learners). Some not-so-holly jolly Christmases are headed your way. Let’s see what you got…”

Years of perfecting the facade – it was a pretty good run, don’t you think? I mean, the diligence, y’all… Little did I know the real Thankfulness Challenge was on it’s way. Straight out of divorce, I was faced with something nightmares are made of – no home, no money, no job, no direction, no stability. I was over a thousand miles from my hometown. All I had was all the homemade crap I had conjured up with burlap, buttons and a glue gun over the years (which was a lot), but that wasn’t gonna do me much good right then.

What would we do? Where would we live? Would we be ok? Would we survive?

Would this hurt forever?

Life was about to get messier than I ever imagined. One day I will sit down and tell you all the crazy, amazing stories that you just can’t make up – all the things the Lord did along the way. For now just let me say this:

He used all of those things that were stripped away to show me all the “things” that actually mattered. As my journey progressed, my mindset changed from “Thanks for all the stuff, God”, to:

“Thank you that I get to hold my babies every night. Thank you that we are ok. Thank you for friends who gave us a place to stay. Thank you for peace in the middle of turmoil. Thank you for support – people who didn’t leave when things got messy – who gave me a job and money and a U-Haul and a listening ear…even Christmas.  Thank you that we are surviving. And most importantly, thank you for the hurt that has lead me back to the cross. Thank you for the loss so that I could know what true wealth really looks like. Thank you for the mess and the uncertainty and the not-knowing so that I could watch You work and move and lead and do what You do best. Thank you loving me more than I ever thought possible. And thank you for the broken things, because I would’ve never known just how beautifully you can put them all back together.”

And I meant it – every word. I remember on more than one occasion saying, “God, if this is what it takes for me to feel close to you, I’ll stay in this place forever.” I’m really grateful He didn’t listen to me on that one.

Life has it’s way, doesn’t it, of bringing out the worst and the best – the blame or the gratitude? Trust me when I say, I’ve had my days full of anger and self-pity. But I also found Jesus while I was at the bottom, and I hung onto Him for dear life. He showed me the beauty in the ugly and brought me more joy in the upset than I ever knew possible.  He took my 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge and turned that sucker into a minute-by-minute practicality.  He has given me more good comedic material through all my bad choices and life experiences than I could’ve ever hoped or dreamed. (Sometimes we have to laugh or we’ll cry. Am I right?) He taken the chaos and turn it into delight. And for that, Lord, I am forever grateful. Perspective is everything, isn’t it?

Life is full of hard seasons. Know that it is ok to be where you are in your season – unashamed, unapologetically. Just know that somewhere in all that wreckage, there is a little piece of treasure begging to be held up and recognized as beautiful. Beautiful wreckage.                                                                                                                   It’s there, in whatever situation you are facing, and I just bet you won’t have to dig too deep to find it.  I challenge us all to let the 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge turn into a routine benediction. And if you’re the one with the baby daddy in prison and that’s the best you can come up with, then you go girl. You gotta start somewhere….

MARTYRDOM AND DONUT HOLES

Well, here it is – another beautiful, ugly transitional time in my life. Am I being punked? It’s like I pulled up to the drive-thru window of life and ordered a #2 with a side of instability and mind-numbing fear. And super-size it, please. I wanna make sure I’m really good and full on all this upheaval I’m about to consume. Please don’t leave me wanting. Thanks so much. Lucky for me they put in an extra order of uncertainty and anxiety for the win. YES!!! Thanks, Lord.

Fear and anxiety. Don’t you just love when those two come-a-knocking. They always visit together. They’re sweet like that.

But let me just tell you, the Lord is so kind and good. The truth is that lately, I have been experiencing a sweet season. And I mean, finally!! Good grief, Lord! It’s about time! Most of my transitional times consist of  me stepping off into a big pile of dog crap. I’m just keeping it real.This season is rainbows and butterflies if I’m comparing.

But then there it is. That thing that holds me hostage. Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the forward movement and the things I can’t control.

Isn’t it funny how the Lord can lay the most beautiful thing in front of us, but we just don’t know how to embrace it. Maybe it’s just me…
I’m finding that, sadly, I don’t always know how to enjoy life, even in the sweet spot.
Enjoy life… ? What is that, even?
Is that allowed?
How do I do that? Can I love life and be a single mom?
Can I relax?
Can I let go of the control?
Can I just…gulp…be?

I can’t, God. I don’t know how. I need to be needed and I need to hold the reins and have the answers. I must be a co-dependent and a martyr. Yes, that’s it! I am a martyr. I am forever a martyr and a victim of circumstance and I have to be forever responsible for everyone and everything and all of life, and I cannot take a break from being all the things to all the people. I cannot enjoy life. Count me out.

I’m exhausted just typing that.
But it’s how I’ve lived for as long as I can remember. And it’s too much for one person to carry.

Here’s what I’m learning in this season of life. I don’t know how to give myself permission to mentally unwind and drop the guard and the fear. Sometimes ! just don’t know how to let Jesus lighten my load. I don’t know how to relax. I don’t know how to just be.
There. I said it.
I carry the junk from the old season straight on into the new.
I carry that backpack full of weight and co-dependency and control and anxiety. And why? It’s not even required!!
And now that I can see the wide-open space to drop that sucker and run free I stand by the fence and hold it tight like it’s the last donut hole I’ll ever get to eat. (Also, why am I constantly comparing everything to food? So disturbing.)

I watch everybody else enjoy life and I stand to the side because I feel undeserving or I feel the responsibility of the thing – whatever it is. I crawl up on that cross day after day and crucify myself and try to do a job that’s already been done.

See, I’m not a victim and I’m not a martyr, but I sure do act like one. I get up on that cross and sacrifice everything I’ve got because it’s what I’ve always done. I act like everything will fall apart if I don’t have all the answers. And when that self-inflicted weight gets too heavy to carry I fall apart.
I forget how to enjoy life. I forget to see the beauty that’s right in front of my face sometimes. I forget that I don’t have to have all the answers and all the control. It’s ok to say, “You know what, I don’t know what’s coming next, but God does. And that enough.”

I see transition, but he sees promise.
I see fear of the unknown. He sees fun and excitement.
I see difficulty. He sees another opportunity to show me His faithfulness. 

Sometimes we have to just drop the backpack and run the field.

I’m learning.

Stop.
Enjoy life.
Go play.

If we don’t, we might be missing the greatest game ever.
I don’t wanna miss the fun, y’all.
I wanna walk in the joy and the goodness and run in the freedom that comes with trusting God.
We belong to Jesus. We don’t have all the answers but He does.
So drop your backpack, finish your donut hole and go enjoy life.
Relax.
Trust.
And for goodness’ sake, get down off that cross.
Somebody needs the wood.

DEATH BY HUMIDITY 

Can you die of humidity? Is that a thing (yes)? Because if it is then I’ve got one foot in the grave. It’s enough to make me wanna quit life. In Colorado, everyday was a good hair day. I woke up looking like a rockstar every single morning for four years. If you ever saw a bad picture of me while I lived there it HAD to be the angle. But the minute I moved to Tennessee, any bit of cute I had went right out the window – right along with any cool breeze that ever thought about blowing my way.  I forgot how stinkin’ hot it is here, and I wish I could forget again.
And what season is it anyway? I mean, it snows 10 months out of the year in the 719, but at least you know what you’re getting – a foot of snow with zero humidity and lots of sunshine. I go to bed in the 731 asking Jesus to keep us safe from whatever kind of tsunami, avalanche, ice storm, tornado or heat wave might be headed our way. Who ever knows. Mother Nature either hates our guts or is experiencing some early onset menopause. I’m done with her.
I guess the one thing we can say for any season – it will inevitably change. Sometimes once a quarter, sometimes by the minute.  For those of us who like a little spice of life, it’s a welcomed break. For those of us who like predictability, this may pose a problem.

Life is ever-changing too, is it not? As much as we would love to have a peek at the master blue prints, our maker holds them under lock and key. I’m pretty sure He knows that if He ever let me have a look I would be making some major changes. Hence, the suspense. Things have not exactly gone like I had planned. I’ve experienced a lot of hurt in my life – a lot of humidity followed by some pretty harsh winters.
If I had it my way, I would skip all the bad parts and we would all walk around in our happy place 24/7. I would be skinny and be able to eat whatever I want. My children would never smart-mouth me and my house would clean itself. We would live in a perpetual state of fall slash winter from here to eternity. Christmas lights and college-football would stay on year-round. Pumpkin spice lattes would never go away and my hair would look fly on the daily. Summer wouldn’t even be a thing. What is summer?
See, I pride myself on having these brilliant (lame) ideas. Mapping it all out – no room for error. I’ve got this. This is how I want it to go, God. Please and thank you. But the Lord has taught me as of late, that there is only one good and perfect way and it’s His. I make some mighty good plans (and some mighty bad ones), but He orders my steps.
The truth is, I don’t really want to know which season is coming next, anyway. I don’t know if I could handle it. I’m just grateful that the crappy ones don’t last forever. Aren’t you? Good grief.
And while I’m in those tough seasons, those rough waters, I’m glad to know who calms my seas. I know who tells the winds and waves to obey. I’ve watched Him do it in my life time and time again. I don’t need to see too far ahead. I just need to hold the hand of the One who knows what’s coming. He’s got me. He makes better decisions than I do. He knows what I need when I need it. And He knows what you need too.

Do we trust Him? Do we trust enough to let Him lead? We can go kicking and screaming (done it) or we can go in peace – having all faith in the One who knows and loves us best. It’s our choice, and sometimes it’s a tough one. But I’ve watched Him, and He does good work. I’m confident in His ability to orchestrate and arrange my life, and yours, far better than we ever dreamed.

Friends, He sees what we cannot see. We only know part of the story, but one day we will be able to ask Him all the “why’s” we can think of. Until then, will we choose to rest and be content following the day-to-day path He has set in front of us? Sometimes the choice may come easy. Sometimes it may be a moment-by-moment YES. However we choose to get there, l promise to try to embrace the season if you will…humidity and all.

GOD BLESS FRED

TAX FREE WEEKEND!! Did you guys go shopping?  That’s what I’m talking about!!  Just kidding.  I would rather die a thousand deaths than step foot inside a commercial establishment on tax free weekend.   I know…I’m in the minority. Most of my girlfriends were all giddy at the possibility of saving $5.32 at checkout. I would rather lose a limb (truth) and give up sugar for a year (lies) than to brave the retail elements on this annual nightmare weekend. I WOULD RATHER PAY THE TAX than to fight you over that last pack of #2 pencils. You can have em, lady. No, really. You go right ahead. Because I can promise you by the look on your face, they mean more to you than they ever will to me. My kids will live with one pack of 25. I’m willing to risk them being publicly shamed and humiliated in front of their peers on the first day of school so that you can walk away the victor. Actually, I need to thank you for knocking a whopping $4 off my already $312 shopping bill. Go and be blessed. 

Y’all. Seriously. I cannot even deal. It’s like the day after Thanksgiving minus the sweater weather and all the feels. I need to be holding a Starbucks and listening to Christmas music on the loud speaker if I’m gonna go through all this nonsense. I could ALMOST MAYBE go to blows with you over that last three-ring binder if we weren’t both dripping sweat and exhausted from all 7 of your children who, for some reason unbeknownst to me, you bring with you shopping on the worst weekend of the year.  Explain yourself…

I mean, you know you’re miserable. It’s written all over your face (in 8 dry erase markers and 24 colored pencils). I’m miserable, too. Your kids are making me miserable for the both of us. And you’re about to snap. I see you eyeing that pharmacy. You’re about to go grab something to take the edge off.  Do it.  I’ll watch the kids.  And we haven’t even made it to checkout where, mark my words, we WILL get the sweet little lady who talks about every single purchase we’re making today. 

“I heard these are great folders. Very durable.” 

“Are these avocados ripe? I don’t think so.”

“Have you tried this gum? Let me just check the sugar content on it. My husband, Fred, is a diabetic but I bet he could chew this.”                                                                                        

Jesus, take the wheel. By the time it’s over I’m about ready to throw in a box of Marlboro and a 3 pack of lighters for the win. I’ll learn on the way home. 

But then there it is. (Ugh! Please stop, Lord). I always feel it. Well, not always – sometimes I feel rage – but often I feel it. And when I don’t feel it, the truth is, I ask Him for it. Conviction. And Grace. And eyes to see. The Lord has such a sweet way about Him. A voice that says, “You don’t know what she goes through, Heather. You don’t know what kind of day she’s had. Ask her. Ask about Fred (please God, no). Maybe you’re the first person who has smiled at her today. Ask the mom of all these many children how she does it. Tell her she’s amazing. Tell her somebody sees her. Tell her I see her.” 

Noooo!!!! Jesus, please leave me alone and just let me roll my eyes and huff so the people across the street can hear me.  I’ll feel so much better. 

Oh, it’s not about me? 

Right…I forget. 

One of my closest friends is a nurse. She is genuinely one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. Last week, one of her patients threw her bedpan in the floor and laughed as my friend had to clean it up. Now look, my girl is human, ok? She wasn’t particularly thrilled with having to wipe up this lady’s disgusting bodily fluids as she was being mocked. She went to The School of Sarcasm like some of the rest of us, and if I know her, she was having to lock it down. But you know what? Her love for Jesus and for this lady overruled any frustration she was feeling.  And she would do it all over again just to get to show that lady the love of Christ, which is what she did. Because it’s what she’s called to do.  It’s what we’re all called to do.                                                                                                 Now, I‘m not suggesting we be doormats all in the name of Christianity. Sometimes we have to stand up and speak out and say, “Do you mind NOT throwing your (extremely full) bedpan at me? Many thanks.” Hopefully, we’ll have grace to know the when’s and how’s.  It is so hard. I know…

I forget sometimes that there are people all around me who are doing hard things in life and who are sick and grieving and crying on the inside. I forget that I’m not the only one who has issues. I forget that sometimes our troubles make us angry and cranky and that nobody gets THAT upset over pencils. We act out of character sometimes when life pins us up against the wall. I know first hand. There is always more to the story. Am I gonna lay aside my frustrations long enough to listen and to love? Sometimes I miss the mark, but I’m trying really hard to be salt and light. I’m trying to relate and understand and show mercy and let go of my death grip on the pencils and to ask about Fred. Because I can guarantee you I’ve had my fair share of days when I wasn’t so nice to the mom who got the last pack of graph paper (which I can never find). I’ve cried my way through the aisles of Target more times than I can count, dealing with what life and the precious people in it were throwing my way. I know what it’s like to need the smile. I know what it’s like to be struggling and have somebody be mean to you at Walmart. Don’t think for one second that I don’t want to ram my buggy into their un-manicured heels. It crosses my mind. My inside chatter says, “I don’t want to have to be the bigger person here!  I’m struggling today!! I’ve been done wrong, too!!”  But the thing is – I have Jesus and I have hope. And when I can, it’s my job to give it. 

God, help me to get outside of myself and be an extension of You. Help me to represent well. Help me to see the good in people and to love the hurting. And please have mercy on me, because I actually have to go shopping tonight (help, Lord). Please let everybody just be sweet and share the pencils. Thank you. 

And God Bless Fred. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen.