PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING

 COFFEE PICIt’s FALL, y’all! Supposedly. I mean, it’s still a million degrees in my beloved hometown, but whatever. It’s my favorite time of year! I can’t even deal. I’m pretty much done with summer and showing the world my arms, so I’m just gonna move it right along. I love everything about Fall – pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice teas, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice breads, vegetables, body wash…you name it. Just kidding. Not really…but kinda (I draw the line at pumpkin spice deodorant). But let’s get real – everything is laced with pumpkin and spice.  If they made pumpkin spice markers, I would sniff them.  Look, I’m just gonna say it. If you don’t love Fall and everything that comes with it (college football), I question your salvation. I’m pretty sure heaven smells like Fall. And I’m pretty sure that when Hobby Lobby puts their Fall and Christmas décor out for the masses, I’m checking out of real life.

One thing I’m not looking forward to, however, is my annual coughing-up-a-lung bronchitis/sinus infection/walking pneumonia trifecta. Last year I hung onto that triple-threat with all my might for a solid six months. SIX (6). Six months of getting swabbed and poked and x-rayed and rubbing essential oils on my big toe and and barking like a dog in the middle of church. I for real bruised my ribs, you guys.  But seriously, there has got to be a better way to see if I have strep or the flu than to stick that giant needle-of-a-Qtip up my nose and down my throat.  Not only do they literally take a piece of my sinuses, but they take a piece of my dignity every single time. Forever traumatized.

And is that not the longest 5 seconds of your life??
Last time I had it done, I actually went home, took a nap, baked a cake and recovered from all my sickly conditions while they were still swabbing me. Like, draw a gallon of blood, cut off my fingernails, water-board me, anything but the swab. And at least YouTube that junk so we can make some money off of it. Somebody should at least reap the benefits of this heinous procedure. Like, please make sure you grab a shot of me gagging as I’m white-knuckling the arm of my seat. Don’t leave that out. If they would only make a pumpkin spice nasal spray maybe, just maybe, I could make it through my physical dysfunction without hating life.  (Get on that, somebody. It’s all you.)

Fingers crossed this year is different. I don’t know if I can handle it again. Sickness and single-mom-life mix like eggs and ketchup (some of y’all need to quit doing that). See, when I’m down, it all goes down. Am I right? The house goes down, the kids go down, the laundry goes down, my work goes down – pretty much everything but my weight goes down. I seem to hang onto that like it’s the last bite of a death row meal.  And who’s got the time? Not me.
Although, and here’s the silver lining – every time I’m down for the count,  I’m forced to take care of myself – something I’m learning to do a little more frequently these days. I don’t always succeed, but I’m learning that if I don’t take care of me, I’m no good to anybody else. And I’m talking mind, body and soul. If we are depleted and exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually – what can we give? A whole lot of not-much. I should know. I’ve learned the hard way. I tried it…and I went down in a blaze of glory.

My learning season followed a three year stretch of straight-up survival mode. I separated from my husband, moved four times, went through a divorce, got a full-time job, continued to do my music and all the while raising my children. Before that, I even tried homeschooling for a year (key word – TRIED). I was always last on my list. And it’s hard to find time to dedicate to ourselves – especially guilt-free. We are innately taught that complete self-sacrifice at the expense of our own well-being is the way to go, but after the time I’ve gone through, I’m anything but convinced.

I know that God wants me to be my whole self – the person He has created me to be. I know that He has put me on this earth to love people and pour into others, especially my children. But how can I do that if I am neglecting my own mind, my own heart, body, soul and spirit? How can I pour out if I’m not being filled up? The answer is, I can’t.
Until I find my rest and wholeness in the One who made me, I’m no good to anybody. I have to find my rest, joy and peace in Jesus.
Sometimes I have to just stop the stress.  I have to turn up the music while I’m cooking dinner. I have to drop everything and play my instruments and write. I have to read. I have to spend time with the Lord.  I have to be silly and dance with my kids.  I have to sit down sometimes and watch My 600 Pound Life (I mean…Joyce Meyer) and eat a spoonfull of pumpkin spice cookie dough (I mean…carrots and ranch) while I’m doing it. I have to go to bed at 9:00 sometimes (old).  I have to get in my soaker tub and say, “I love you more than the air I breathe, but I’m going to need for you to not say my name for a hot minute.  Mommy is pretending she’s in Europe at a 5-Star Hotel. Ok? Brilliant! I’ll be with you in a bit.”

I also have to spend time with people who are good for my mental health. Friends. Family. We talk deep but we act stupid and we go out to lunch and shop and laugh and talk about Jesus and mistakes and fashion and design. They are life to me and they are necessary for my thriving. They are a part of my recharging and renewal.

We have to do things and be with people that help us rejuvenate.  What works for me may not work for you. You may not feel one bit better after a 45 minute (2 1/2 hour) bath. You may need to go for a run (for sure no). You may need to sleep or draw or bake or work on your car or ride your bike or stare at the walls. And like the T-shirt says, “Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.” Whatever your God-given means of rest and rejuvenation is, do it.
I’m committed in this new season of my life to being the best version of myself I can be (but I’m still gonna eat donuts sometimes). I’m dedicated to loving myself enough to regroup and slow down and find my center. I’m weak. I just cannot do it on my own. And neither can you. You’re not a superhero (sometimes you are). But God is the ultimate superhero, and even HE rested…

We need Jesus. We need Him to fill us up so we can keep going and giving. Sometimes we need to stop so we can go. Receive so we can give. I’m so grateful that when I’m a fragile piece-of-meltdown, He’s my strength and foundation. And I’m thanking Him today for His Word that empowers me to find my rest, joy and peace in Him. Nothing else offers it like Jesus (but my soaker tub is a really close second). 😉

I’LL JUST HAVE A SALAD

 

Can we talk today? And can you not judge me? This is gonna be a tough one for me. And I’m not talking “tough” like I feel guilty for eating a whole can of cinnamon rolls by myself (maybe). That’s not it.

What if I told you I’m not perfect? Oh! You already knew? Well, evidently I didn’t. There’s a perfectionism gene that gets passed down from my dad’s side of the family that is alive and well and living in me. It runs deep in my (varicose) veins.
I’ve strived for internal, heart-n-soul perfection my whole life and have felt sorry for all you other pitiful individuals who just couldn’t quite get it together on the inside. Joking…but kinda not. Forgive me.
I’ve always loved people, but somewhere deep down I’ve judged and I’ve speculated and I’ve shaken my head at the thought of how in the world you, you wretched soul, could claim to love Jesus but still make the mistakes you were making (Gasps. Hangs head in shame on your behalf).

Until…..

Yep.
It happened.
I fell from my seat next to the throne of Jesus.
And y’all, I didn’t just trip like that one time when I was 10 months pregnant and fell over the speaker while I was leading worship. It was worse than that. Because this was my choice. I chose to give up for a hot minute and dive head-first into some things that I knew were damaging to my soul. I chose to turn away from what I knew in my knower to be good and right. I turned a blind-eye to injustice that on any “normal” day I would’ve gone down swinging for. I didn’t even recognize myself. And I still can’t even believe it sometimes.
I cry writing this…

Actively.
Willingly.
Consciously.
Morally.
Spiritually.

Give me a minute to get a grip…

It was a short run compared to the rest of my life, but it felt like it lasted an eternity. It has changed me for an eternity – I promise you that. I gave up on almost everything but my wardrobe. And I hated myself and my life and I hated the consequences my choices were creating. But I couldn’t seem to walk away. All I wanted was for somebody to come and dig me out of my hole, but at the same time all I wanted was for everybody to just leave me alone. I was gloriously happy and completely miserable in my mess. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.  And the shame – it had me by the throat and wouldn’t let go.

Now, all the juicy details are not important. Trust me. You can guess and wonder and draw your own conclusion. All you really need to know is this one thing…

Shame is real, but grace is realer. (Yes, I know what I just said.)

Shame almost kept me from even writing this. I said to myself, “You haven’t been out of it long enough. It was too recent. You’re a hypocrite. You haven’t paid penance long enough to share your shame story.  What if you make another mistake?”

Sound familiar? Not only did shame almost keep me from writing this, shame almost kept me from living! But the grace, y’all. The grace from Jesus and from people who love me. It overwhelms me. And it overwhelms the shame.

And Hebrews 10:1-25 (whenever you get a minute) – this scripture overwhelms me too.  I’m a hot mess reading it today…

Now, sit down. Are you ready? The real shame is not only in the thing – the act, but the shame is in the not repenting, and in the secret-keeping. Brene’ Brown, my new favorite author (and pretend-best-friend) says in her book THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, that shame metastasizes in the dark. Shame grows when you keep the lights off. Luckily, I’m not good at hiding my life issues very well. I have some really great people in my life who, not only could tell I was on the struggle bus, but weren’t willing to watch me keep riding on it. A few of them threatened to throat-punch me and choke me out while helping me through my process, but they never left me. I will love them forever. Even though I willingly chose to walk through this dark place, they still didn’t leave. And once again, neither did Jesus.  I finally decided I had enough and walked away…then went back in…then walked away. It was a process. But I finally had a gut-full, and this time I never looked back.
Bye.

Y’all, we are gonna make mistakes. Who knew!?! In the words of one of my sweet friends who has also made her fair share of choices she would like to forget, “It is what I did, but it is not who I am.” Look, we are gonna do the thing and say the words and have the attitude and eat the whole pizza by ourselves in one sitting (never) at some point along the way. It may be tomorrow. It may!!!
And here’s the deal, if you’re eating that whole pizza by yourself everyday and living in the dark about it and you don’t care and you’re not gonna change for nobody, no way, no how, then this particular story may not be for you. We’ll chat another day.
I’m talking to the one who is saying “Look. I love pizza. I love eating it when nobody is looking (because it didn’t really happen if nobody saw you eat it). I love (hate) how it makes me feel. But I know it’s wrong and I don’t want to be about that life. I don’t want to be that person who eats the whole pizza. I want to be the person who eats the salad.” I’m talking to you, pizza/salad-eater. EAT THE SALAD!! You can do it!! I believe in you!!

If you’re waiting to feel worthy before you eat the salad, or sing the song or write the blog or say you’re sorry or make the change, you may as well wait forever. Let me ask you something. Do you wait till you’re having the best hair day ever to go get your hair done? No!! You let that mess get funky and near-rotten till you are on the verge of partial ownership in your favorite dry shampoo company. I promise you this, your hairdresser thinks you are anything but worthy. But you go anyway – nappy head and all. And she loves you (but she’s afraid to touch you) and she makes you beautiful again.
Look, you may never FEEL worthy. But you are, because of Jesus. Christ in you makes you worthy. You’re also what we call…human. And Jesus is what we call…forgiving.

He loves us. He knows us. He made us. He’s full of grace, mercy and loving-kindness. He offers it to anybody who will accept it. What’s even better is, it starts over brand new every single day.

So, get up. Cry it out. Say your “I’m sorry’s” (even to yourself). Be brave. Admit the mistakes. You can’t skip this one. And I hear you – “Give me a cotton-pickin’ break!! That’s the worst part!!” I know.  But the truth is, it’s the best part, because that’s where the freedom comes! The freedom comes with the repentance.

So accept the grace. Right the wrongs. And don’t you dare let the nay-sayers and the haters keep you from moving on.  Some people will walk away. Some people will be too disappointed by your mistakes to hang in there with you. Some may even glory in your situation because it takes the spotlight off of their own mistakes. Maybe they don’t understand your ability to repent and walk in freedom. For whatever reason they just don’t seem to want you to recover. That’s a hard pill to swallow, I know. But it’s ok. Wish them well and keep it moving. Find the ones who will stay and forgive and hold your hand and not let go. Walk in your purpose, because YOU HAVE ONE!!! And hey, when you mess up again (like you will and like I have), read this again and repeat. Cuz that’s exactly what I’m gonna do – read this thing AGAIN, on the days I’m not feeling worthy, until I believe that I am! Because I am. And so are you.

He is. Christ in us.

Now let’s tear up that coupon for a large one-topping and go eat that salad (and for the love, could you just TRY to buy organic this time?) And hey, if you wanna have yours with a big ole glass of sweet tea and a hot fudge sundae for dessert, well… there’s no judgment here.  😉
Baby steps…

 

BLACK FRIDAY PEACE

How do you even “blog”? No clue. Do you tell your life story in 500 words or less? It can’t be done. WHY am I even blogging? I don’t know that either. I’m certainly no expert on anything except needing Jesus and of late, making messes. But I’ve got some life experience and I guess I just need to chat it out. I can fill you in on the backstory later. I’ll just preface by saying that I have lived a wonderful life and as of right this minute, it ain’t over yet. As long as there’s a new season of Fixer Upper on the horizon, I still have a purpose in life.

At 41 years old, I already feel totally fulfilled. I’ve done almost everything I ever wanted to do in life with the exception of a few things on my short list (meet Chip and JoJo).
From having my dream job, making music and sipping tea in London, to building my own home and being a mommy. If I die today don’t be sad. Just tell beautiful stories about how much I loved Jesus, my kids and a closet full of boho dresses and headbands.

Having said that, life has not been without its challenges. I’ve got stories involving hurt and loss and more recent bad choices than I care to mention. I’ve had a few doozies here lately that I wish I could take back. I’m working extra hard to forget about those and to forgive myself. And then there’s that one thing that people hate to talk about. Ugh…it’s so taboo. Should I say it?
DIVORCE. 
That’s one I never set out to experience, especially being a worship leader my whole life. You just don’t do that in my circle. It was a hard pill to swallow. Almost 15 years of working that marriage muscle, to finally relent and give up the ghost.

My children were 10 and 6. I remember getting in the shower, turning on the water and holding a towel over my face so they wouldn’t hear me scream. So many tears shed… I knew the road ahead was gonna be a long one. At least my Free People shoe game was on-point. Those things and Jesus could walk me through the toughest of storms.

I knew that divorce was never God’s design and it certainly was not taken lightly. I won’t get into all the details. Just know that I had spent countless hours with the Lord crying and talking about this subject and I knew He was there with me. And I needed Him to be because I had nothing – no steady job, no money and nowhere to go. If I told you every little provision the Lord made for me along the way, we would be here all day. Trust me when I say, He provided.

And best of all He showed me His great love by sending me the most amazing, life-giving people to walk with me during this uphill climb. They put on their hiking boots and were always behind me, beside me, and two steps ahead of me on Divorce Mountain, grabbing my hand and keeping me moving the whole way up.

In case you didn’t know, that particular spot on my life’s map is located in the heart of Colorado Springs, CO, where I began that journey almost four years ago. I believe, without a doubt, that the Lord orders our steps and strategically places us in certain places at certain times with just the right people. And somehow, in His great mercy, He saw fit to plant us in Colorado for that awkward leg of life’s trip. I wrote music and made an album there and developed sweet relationships that landed us in that great state. I will always love that place and the people who keep it alive. (No, I did not smoke weed while I was there. I know you’re wondering.) I miss that place dearly. I was able to fulfil one my deepest heart’s desires while in Colorado – to wear boots and layer my clothing nine months out of the year. It was tough to leave. Don’t get me started. I could cry a river…

It was a hard, sad season, but I had an immeasurable amount of peace during that time. Philippians 4:7 was alive and in action – “And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” It just cannot be summed up with words – except to say, you know that feeling you get when you’ve been eating clean for like, 60 days (two weeks) and you finally give yourself permission to order that Pumpkin Spice Latte (in a red cup because it’s fall) and a giant chocolate chip muffin? You know that feeling you have during the consumption of those one million glorious calories? How all those flavors and smells just wrap you up in a warm (plaid Burberry) blanket?  Well that’s sort of what Jesus did for me – wrapped me up and held onto me through that cold walk.

Its been quite the trek. Have you read Pilgrim’s Progress? Read it. If you’ve lived one minute of life, you’ll get it. It’s all about the journey. Sometimes we have unexpected detours and bumps in the road. I’ve hit new ones since divorce and have recently gone through a different kind of uphill climb. I’ll tell you about that later.

Today I’m writing to say this.
Life is hard, but Jesus never leaves.
We can walk through hard seasons and still have peace.
And if you don’t currently have any, you can still get it – peace. The sale isn’t over. Just like on Black Friday.  (Only 27 Fridays left till Christmas, FYI). You will RACE into your favorite store and dig through continual racks and stacks of clothes like a rabid dog to find that one pair of yoga pants that you just couldn’t live without. You and your sleep-deprived-self will risk life and limb to get through those doors, and then you get in there and you take it- whatever it is!!  You’ve got your eye on that set of wooden spoons and that flatscreen, and dadgummit, you’re gonna get ’em if you have to lose a finger and your dignity in the process.

Well, thankfully, when we are in the market for peace, Jesus isn’t hiding at the bottom of the stack.  And there’s plenty to go around. All we have to do is walk in, ask, and receive. We repent and draw near. That is key. Sometimes it’s so hard to relinquish our own way in order to get it. So hard…

Lately, I’m a pro at not wanting to hand it over. Trust me when I say, it’s a much bumpier road. The world doesn’t offer peace-only Jesus does. My experience tells me that, excuse the lame cliche’, “letting go and letting God” really is the only way to live.  Going in and just accepting Jesus and his peace – it’s the only way to have true joy. We don’t even have to pay for it! I’m not really up for Black Friday peace shopping anyway, are you?
Let’s just go in and take it right off the shelf.
Here, I’ll hold the door for you…

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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