Running Shoes

Running From Relationships

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I’m a runner. Oh no, not the kind you probably are thinking of….the put your sneakers on, hit the ground and go kind? No, that’s not me. I’m more of the kind of girl whose scars from the past have made her unintentionally (or maybe sometimes intentionally) flee when red flags or hurts in relationships happen. Yep, I’m a runner.

Did you know you can actually have friendship PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)? When I first read about it in Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding & Keeping Lasting Friendships, I thought it was a brilliant way to describe the hurts from childhood, teen, and adult friendships that stay with us, sometimes subtly, without even realizing the scars are there. For me, it showed up in my inner runner girl. It was less painful to run from a hard relationship or person than to stay and grow through it. Now, I do believe that there are some toxic relationships that we are meant to flee from. It’s learning to figure out the difference and trust your instincts to know when it’s worth working through. Some of my relationship scars go back as far as first grade and some as recent as last year. The good news is that I’ve discovered there can be healing for some of those wounds and restoration for some relationships …if we are willing to do the work and feel the discomfort that healing and growth sometimes bring.

our relationships have subtle, yet powerful, lifelong impacts on us. This means that while they can burden us with unwelcome PTSD, they also have highly reparative capabilities too. The relationship patterns we have learned can become clues that lead us back to the scene of the original crime and equip us with tools to investigate, understand, and prevent it from happening again.”
~ Lisa-Jo Baker Never Unfriended

When I was offered a pre-release copy of Never Unfriended, I had no idea how much it would impact me or even those I’ve shared it with. The subtitle is The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, so I thought, well, I think I know how to do that…some of my friendships span decades. I cherish my relationships. But I realized I was overlooking the painful relationships in my life, the ones over the years where I hit my emotional remote control button and put my wall up or the ones I ran from. So, I decided to dig deeper and quickly found myself highlighting many of the author’s words. I’ve underlined so many sentences in Never Unfriended that it now resembles a coloring book. What I found most refreshing was the author’s gut deep honesty. She shared so many things that I’ve thought but didn’t have the words to say or maybe didn’t want to be vulnerable enough to share. It was a reminder to me that we are not alone. There is always somebody else going through something similar, and sometimes there are many somebodies. As Lisa-Jo shared, sometimes that person next to you is waiting for someone else to speak up. For someone to admit that relationships can be hard, that rejection stinks, and that even the strongest {appearing} person can actually be very weak. Lisa-Jo did that for us….she spoke up with all her vulnerability and raw insight, and all different types of women around the internet and coffee shops are shouting “me too.”

Speaking of the internet, the chapter on FOMO(fear of missing out) is one of my favorites. We are doubly blessed and cursed with all the ways to connect via social media. Actually, that term “connect” in reference to social media is interesting. So many studies have found that the more people are “connected” through Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc, the more lack of connection and actually loneliness is taking place. It’s created a false sense of friendship and connection.

“…..we have got to demote our social media status, our obsession with inclusion, and our fear of missing out and get it OUT of the hallowed place. We have worshipped at the altar of inclusion when we were built to worship at the altar of the only living God. Living tied to clicks and likes and friend requests on Facebook will drain the life out of us”- Lisa-Jo Baker, chapter 2, Never Unfriended

Through my ever changing years of being a woman, I am so very thankful for relationships. What I ultimately found in reading this book was that our relationship with God and being able to rest in who we are is the most important thing. There’s an inner strength when you feel complete and loved by the Creator, which then helps in all your other relationships. Who knows? I just may hang up my running shoes. 


Jesus is never tired of me always needing Him. Instead, He is delighted by how desperately I need his validation and He never, ever withholds it from me. Or from you.” Lisa-Jo Baker, chapter 5, Never Unfriended

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A Charge to Christians After This Election

As I scrolled through social media today, I saw people grieving, gloating, blaming, praising, all based on their take on this presidential election. Some were saying, “if you voted for (or against) ______, that makes you a ______.”  I kept telling myself to take the day and log off, but I found myself getting on over and over.

What I saw made me feel shocked, offended, and at times, in agreement with certain statuses. I felt shocked when I saw some people who I really thought would have voted one way say they voted the other. I was offended and struck with emotion when I saw anger, gloating, name calling, and other strong opinions expressed that I don’t agree with. Then some expressed themselves in a way that was seasoned with love, even for those who didn’t get their way last night.

Then I came across the best status: this verse.

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Today I have held my tongue and not responded when I didn’t agree with what I read. However, these verses encourage us to go a step further. We have to make room for people’s opinions when we see fault in them and forgive those who are offensive when they express their thoughts. The beginning of these verses remind us to be patient, gentle, kind, tenderhearted, and show mercy and humility. People have many emotions after last night’s results. Many are airing out their laundry on Facebook for all to see. Let’s give them room to say what they want to say, even if they say it in ugly, unloving ways. Much mercy has been given to us, and we are to extend that to those who express opinions that are different than ours.

So today and over the next few months, will you join me and stop to check your own heart when you read something you don’t agree with? Then offer a prayer of blessing for that person. Ask God to give you a heart of love for them. Only then will we show the world we are truly Christ followers who’s hearts are set toward the kingdom of heaven.

Power in the Gathering

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Claire was a guest writer at Raising Generations Today this week:

Every mama was so different and each one had a story, one that had shaped them into who they are as a mother. The room was filled with all types and ages, from glowing mamas expecting new babies all the way through grandmas walking that road of grace-filled perspective. It was a get-to-know you night before we started our discussions of the book, Triggers. What an amazing experience to see the thread weaving through each of us, the common factors tying our hearts together. I could see almost immediately the power that was in the gathering. It was the ultimate example of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12… Read more here…

Look Up

At the end of a crazy week, Matt and I found a few hours to get away. Heading down to the beach, we were surprised to find the parking lot not only full of cars but people sitting and standing all around. We thought maybe something was happening on the pier until we noticed the common factor. Their phones. Every single person was looking down at their phones. Every one. I was so confused until Matt said that maybe they were playing Pokémon Go or something similar (This is NOT a commentary for or against the game).

We walked through the crowd out onto the pier where the sun was glistening off the water, and the waves were hitting the beach. Hot and windy, it was my favorite time to be near the water and I was loving every minute of it. Eventually, there was a steady stream of people walking towards the end of the pier.  A mom and dad passed us, a little girl on her daddy’s shoulders. The sun was hitting her bouncing curls just right as she pointed at the seagulls and chatted away. Only they weren’t listening. They barely looked up except to make sure they were walking the right way.

And then I got mad. And judgmental. So mad that I wanted to yell at them, LOOK UP!

 Don’t you see what you’re missing?

 Look up!

That scene stuck with me, only instead of telling those people, I felt convicted MYSELF. How many times have I missed the beauty around me, either in creation or in the faces of my loved ones, because I was distracted by something less important? DSC_0039

Will you join me today? In the midst of lists, and work, and even fun things, let’s look up. Be present to see, really see, the faces and beauty around us.

Chasing the Wind

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If you simplify your life, quit chasing the wind, and be quiet before Him, He’ll show up.” Chip Ingram

Quit chasing the wind <—-That right there. That phrase speaks to me.

I can add that phrase to “stop the glorification of busy,” be true to yourself,” and “you are enough.” Combine all 4 of those phrases and you have my summer mantra.

I’ve written and erased so many words….wanting to share with you my thoughts on what those phrases mean to me and how they’ve changed how I feel about many things, how I now approach my days or think about things. The thing is, each time I try to express my thoughts, it just doesn’t seem to be the right way. The words don’t do the thoughts justice. And those who know me know I’m all about justice. By the way, I wrote that last sentence while chuckling, but it is true.

I would love to encourage you to embrace those phrases for yourself, to really allow them to sink in and not just say them, to maybe even change a few things in your thoughts, in your life…to own those phrases. But I realize that we are all on a different path and in a different place. It’s taken me a long time….in my opinion, too long….to quit chasing the wind, to quit pursuing the wrong things,to quit trying to fit in within the wrong places. It’s very freeing to realize that we are not meant to pursue it all, or to fit in in all areas or places.  And then to release a big sigh when you actually allow yourself to be still and find the path your supposed to be on, to find the place you do fit in. When that square peg finally finds that square hole….good gravy, it’s a beautiful thing. So, what do I mean by fitting in? I mean…fitting into your own skin. Being all you. Not feeling like you have to be doing what everyone else is doing. To be quiet enough to hear that still small voice….that voice that gives you peace…God’s voice….and go in that direction.

Wishing you beauty and freedom today. Take a nice slow walk and quit chasing the wind.

 

 

 

 

a mixed Mother’s Day

So many mamas spend Mother’s day with a mingling of joy and sorrow, missing a child or a mom lost too soon or gone too long, empty arms or places that can’t ever be filled. We are praying for you, dear precious mamas! Praying for comfort and peace as we look to the treasures in this life, even as we miss those not with us.

 

 

I miss her, all 4’11 of her, my Italian grandma filled with a wonderful blend of sassy spunk and softness. She took care of everyone, her family being her life. She made us laugh, as we never knew what she was going to say next! She saw the good through suffering and sorrow, her trust in Jesus bringing out a strength even in her own weakness. She was a constant in my life and never once did I doubt her love for me. As the years took away her ability to “do” for her family, she took more and more to praying for us, filling journals and hours with words to heaven that have seen us through.

 

I had just come back from the doctor where they confirmed a miscarriage. I remember sitting down at her feet and putting my head on her lap. I don’t remember what she said, just the comfort of her sweet, soft hands, hands that had comforted so many during her lifetime. When we found out we were pregnant again, I sat on her little couch and we laughed and dreamed of who this little person would be to join my other two boys.

 

And then we lost her.

 

I couldn’t believe that she was gone. I grieved that she wouldn’t hold this baby or be in their life. My loss was overwhelming. And then a few months later, we stood there again as we said goodbye to that baby, our Samuel. And I knew that she would hold him, after all.

 

The first year anniversary of losing our son fell on Mother’s Day. The grieving at the gravesite overshadowed the celebration later even as I clung to my little boys. I remember walking around almost in a fog, trying to figure out how to navigate that day.

 

Life goes on and the years fly by. I have two more little boys now. As we tell them stories of their great grandma, the big boys join in with their own precious memories. Mother’s day is a day of joy for me, as my husband and sons show their love for me in extra special ways. But the joy will always mingle with some sorrow, sorrow for the losses that are forever felt.

 

Yesterday, I visited their grave with my own mom.

“I miss her everyday,” I tell her.

“She didn’t know how much of an impact she made in our lives,” she replied.

That’s probably true of most mamas.

I have Gram with me still, in my own mom, even in myself. I see her in us, I hear her in our words. Words that make us laugh until we cry. Laughter mixed with tears. Emptiness mixed with fulfillment. It’s what this life brings us. For me, today, on this one day that is supposed to honor mothers everywhere, I want to choose life. Treasuring the blessings that I do have, even as I hold that ache for what I don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking on Transtions

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Transition. That word has been on my mind a lot lately. It pertains to so many areas of life, and it can be approached in a positive or negative way.

Transition: noun

1.movement, passage, or change from one position, state,subject, concept, etc., to another; change:

example; the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

I’ve sort of started analyzing transitions going on in my life and started dissecting them a bit….because that’s my thing; I love to tweak and analyze. It helps me process change and it fills my cup. Usually taking my cup from half empty to half full. So, please join me on my mini analysis of a couple transitions.

Location transition has been something I’ve embraced. We’ve moved several times over the past 15 years so I have experienced new city/state transitions over and over again. I pretty much dig it. To this day my mother is shocked by the fact that I love moving. I was the little girl who sat by her feet and didn’t want to go to sleep overs. Honestly, I think my mother’s compassion and respect for my feelings by not pushing me to do the various things I did not want to do (nor could handle at that age) helped to mature me into the grown woman who loves and embraces adventure. Go figure.

I love moving to new states, investigating the area, finding a new, probably temporary, place to live, and pretty much diving into a fun new life- adventure. You might think a quick trip somewhere could feel the same, but it doesn’t. At least to me it doesn’t. The fact that you are setting new roots and exploring all the inner workings of a new city brings it to a level that travel only touches on. Moving transitions can be sad for all you have to leave behind (family, friends) but I’ve found those relationships stay strong as you work harder to stay in touch and share about your new area. From our experience, the transition that moving involves has been really fun.The key, for us, has been to transition slowly into our new surroundings. Finding a fun new diner or new playground each week helped us to transition in a positive way.

The transition of age has been a bit harder {for me}. As our children grow from stage to stage, the easing into transition has been emotional {for me}.  The hardest thing has been realizing and watching our boys go from the elementary age to being teens. Woah Nelly, this has been a roller coaster for my emotions. Watching our boys grow and change caused a wave of realization to come over me…..I thought about all the things that were ending, all the no-mores, and suddenly I found myself walking into their room in the middle of the night just to look at them or give them a hug and even cry a little.

At the start of this transition I thought about and analyzed all the negatives. And, man, it would bring me to a dark place. A really sad and lonely mama place. Eventually, I got a little tired of that sad, melancholy feeling. I prayed, I vented, and prayed some more. What I realized I needed was to change the way I viewed this transition into the teen years. Every time a sad thought would come flooding into my brain, I would replace it with a positive thought. Eventually, I have started to embrace and enjoy this stage of teen transition. Instead of mourning the loss of the single digit years, I have started embracing and loving the 13+ years. I’m trying not to look too far into the future, just trying to enjoy each day with my teens. I’ve found that the more positive I am about this new stage, the happier my teens are. I still get a little weepy from time to time….thinking about how the years are flying by, but those momentary tears are surrounded by a lot of laughter and energy. Teens are pretty awesome.

Transitions can be so hard both emotionally and mentally. If possible, choosing to find the good things, the positive within the transition, can help in so many ways.  It’s comforting to know that through all our life transitions there is one thing that doesn’t change  ….“Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

longing for Paris

Our book club started the book, Longing for Paris this past September. Little did we know that our last meeting, planned out with a French inspired dinner, was to fall exactly one week after Paris was attacked by terrorism. It was definitely with a different feel that we met and prayed for peace and protection for our world.

The book challenged us to yes, follow the dreams that God has placed in our hearts, but to find “Paris” in our everyday lives, as wives, moms, teachers, friend….whatever roll we may find ourselves in. To be present in the moment and see and feel and experience the love and beauty around us, yet knowing that the desire for something greater is God given. Because of the hope we have in Christ, we know there is more than just this life. So, as I stood in front of my stove cooking for that night, I had feelings of gratitude. Because even as the beautiful city that inspires so many was still reeling from violence and grieving it’s loss, my family was safe. This violence had not touched our lives. My dear friends were on their way over to spend an evening with me, laughing and crying, sharing our hearts over this meal.

Coming into Thanksgiving, I can find the wonder in two lost teeth in one week, or a day spent with Nana cooking for the big meal. We can’t know what is coming, but for now, the piles of laundry, the legos all over the floor, the sleeping teenagers in their beds…this is all a wonderful thing, because it means we have life here, we are together. And for that, I am so thankful. ~Claire

Sometimes I have hard days where I want to run away. I hate those stories where the mother abandons her family. I could never do that, but sometimes I flirt with the what if questions found in that idea. Author Sarah Mae’s dream is to sneak away to visit Paris. Maybe with her family, maybe not. It depends on the day. My longings aren’t usually for a place but rather for a season of life.

I long for the day my family can go on short term missions trips together or travel the country and pray for people to be set free, anything where my kids can learn about the power of God by experiencing it first hand.

I always thought that would happen when we no longer had preschoolers or babies in the home. My big kids were past that age and it still didn’t seem like it could happen. Then my little ones came along. Now that dream seems even further off in the future.

Longing for Paris challenges me to really live life to the fullest in each season I am in, even if I can’t pick up and go to the place or time in my life that I desire most. I can make beauty, find joy, and decide to thrive right where I am.

What does this look like for me? That’s the question I’ve been asking while reading the book. Sarah Mae tells of how she and her family regularly partake in little tastes of her desires until she can one day physically go to Paris. I can read stories of God’s faithfulness to my kids, expose them to testimonies of miracles and heroes of the faith, help them understand and memorize Bible verses that may later become life verses to lead them, take them to services where the Holy Spirit is moving in power, etc. I want them to share my desire to see God move in power through them and through us as a family. In working on this list, I think I’ll find that much of my dream is becoming a reality right before my eyes! ~Angela

 

As I began reading, Longing For Paris, I thought to myself…I don’t have a desire to do something grande like moving to Paris, I wonder if this book will speak to me. The further I read Sarah Mae’s thoughts, the more I realized that our “longings” don’t have to be grande. Her writing encouraged us to be more intentional in our daily life. To look for the joy and beauty around us. For me, it became about reframing the every day. I’ve been trying to start the day with the thought of positive possibilities instead of thinking of the long to do list. The list still gets done (hopefully) but I try not to dwell on the negatives surrounding it. Emphasis on…try. We are all works in progress, right?
Taking time through the day to be thankful…even a ” thank you, Jesus” as I do the laundry or make lunch…seemed to lighten the weight of that long list.

I wondered more about my longings. Was there a dream God placed in my heart? To be honest, I’m still figuring that out. What I do know is that as I allow Him to guide me, true longings or desires of my heart are becoming more clear to me. I’m enjoying the right now and becoming excited for the possibilities and hopes of the later on.  ~Mary

 

Longing for Paris affirmed the verse “without vision, the people perish.”  It was an easy read, which flowed with stories and humor, and devotions at the end of each chapter. Enjoyably, the book created an excitement about Paris, or any historic destination.  The anticipation of a vision or goal helps to live focused and goal oriented. Living intentional is both biblical and motivating. Thank God for His vision and goals, laid out in His Word, that call us to live focused and make life an adventure!   ~Ginger

 

While reading Longing for Paris (ashamedly I have to admit that I have not completed the book, but please do not tell my fellow book club mamas, I fear I might get the boot!) so far there are a few things that I have really been mulling over. By nature I am a doer and I find it difficult to be still, let alone meditate. Sarah Mae encourages the biblical practice of meditation. Meditating to seek the face of God, to immerse yourself in his presence. In my current season of little children and all the many tasks they bring with them, I long desperately to be in God’s presence. I want to just be with him, to rest and rejuvenate in his glory and to feel fully alive in the midst of the one true God. I know in my heart of hearts that this is what God longs for too, because my worshipful meditation will shape me into a better wife, mother, friend and human. In reading this book I have a better handle of what my quiet time with God can look like as a mother of young children. I am praying that I can consistently adopt these practical tips into my daily longing to seek the Kingdom of God first.   ~Deborah

Mondays hate me, so I quit

Tomorrow-is-MondayMondays hate me. They do. I am thoroughly convinced that Monday is a living, breathing thing destined to make homeschooling a nightmare for me. As each of the first 6 Mondays of the school year ended, I was looking for the hidden cameras in my house. I really shouldn’t complain. Nothing really terrible happened…just life with four boys and a puppy, and my always patient and loving reactions. Not. Thank God for no cameras. Oh, a small recap, you ask?

I seem to remember the one morning where I had just finished washing the kitchen floor from a puppy accident, while attempting to do math with two of the children, when another one ran up behind me and with a kiss on the back of my head said something about the bathroom. That something I found out about an hour later when the 5 year old decided that flushing the clogged toilet over and over would fix it, and then his brother helped him by using the entire linen closet to sop up the water. Don’t you just love doing laundry?

Or there was that time that the teenager dropped an advil tablet on the floor and the puppy decided to eat it right up. Bet you didn’t know that it’s toxic to dogs, huh? I kind of thought that the hydrogen peroxide that I had to turkey baster down her throat to make her throw up was, too, but apparently it saved her very expensive purebred little life. Of course this happens when I’m supposed to be out the door in 15 minutes. (Apparently, having a dog again is good for the family. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.)

Add on everyone waking up overtired from the weekends, to bad attitudes, to the laundry still sitting in the washing machine from like…last Thursday, to it being my hubby’s longest day so reinforcements were not coming, it was not a recipe for success. And success was the goal for this certain letter type, list addict, task orientated girl.

My calendar is organized.

My school planner is planned.

My to do list is freshly updated.

And it was becoming more important than the people I was doing it all for. I was putting my list and my need to accomplish it all before the relationships in my life. My reactions to normal life stuff was showing it. And this was not who I wanted to be…definitely not what I wanted for this school year.

A friend introduced me to this book, Teaching From Rest, and there are some amazing nuggets in there….the things YOU KNOW, but FORGOT THAT YOU KNOW. Like…

Surrender my idea of an ideal day…

…or relationship, situation, experience…..

and give it to the Lord, trusting Him with the outcome

The being and becoming needs to come before the doing and checking off

…being in the moment, undistracted and focused on the people in my life

Do less to do it well

…simplify, simplify, simplify so that what I do choose to do can be done with excellence

Whose “well done” am I working for?

…work, serve for the praise of God, not man

It’s not about being “successful”…God is looking for our faithfulness

…to keep going, keep at it, persevere through it all

Every task, each assignment is an offering of love to God

…no matter how small or insignificant it seems

And most importantly, put relationships before anything else. This one. I mean, this is why I decided to homeschool in the first place…my children’s hearts.

 

So, I decided to quit. I quit Mondays.

Practically speaking, I redid the planners to make Monday an easier day, I emptied the calendar of any Monday appointments, I got up earlier and I let go of my start time a whole half hour. Listen, small steps, my friend. 🙂  And peace reigned in my home. No, everything did not go perfectly. The computer crashed, I got sick, the puppy…well, let’s just leave that unsaid. This is all just… life. I still have my lists, my planner, and my beloved calendar, but I put them back where they belong. I saw an immediate difference in my children and remembered the amazing gift I have in being able to stay home and school them.

My thing is the homeschooling, but I think those little reminders apply to anything we start putting in the “doing and checking off” list as being more important than the “being and becoming.” I know I’ll need to be reminded of this very often…at least every Sunday night.

Brave mamas needed

ocean_waves_ventura_california_usa_20120704Oh, the stories. There were so many that I have been just letting them sit, pondering them in my heart, letting them inspire me. When I first got home from the mom’s conference I went to, I couldn’t figure out which part I loved the most. I had three days in a row with 4 dear friends, the other mamas of this blog, time away from the craziness of home to rest and recharge, delicious food, wonderful worship and music, so many gifts given to us that filled our swag bags many times over, and amazing teaching from God’s word. But, when I really looked back over the weekend, I realized it was the stories shared that impacted me the greatest, touching my heart and challenging me in a way I wasn’t quite prepared for.

You see, starting this blog was not an easy thing for me to do. Even if my mom and my bff were the only ones who ever read it, it is still a really scary thing to put my thoughts, feelings, and stories out there! (and they know all my stories!) Telling my stuff gives the chance for someone to judge me or criticize me. But, as I sat listening to the speakers at the conference, I was in awe of their courage, their authenticity, and transparency as they told of heartbreak and rejoicing, in small events and life changing ones. I recognized myself in their words, drawing hope from those who had gone before me on similar roads I travel, and inspiration from stories so very different than my own. I saw that the real power came in the fact that they shared openly and honestly about their struggles and how God had brought them through.

I want to be brave like that. I love the song, You Make Me Brave, by Bethel Music. My poor children are forced to listen to it over and over. Just to have the courage to step out of the boat, out into the waves, and open up my heart and life to others, even with the fear.  After all, that’s where Jesus is.

Brave to do whatever Jesus is asking us to do. It doesn’t have to be awe inspiring to other people. Every one of us have different paths, different stories, different seasons. Right now I am a stay at home, homeschool mama with four boys. This is a very challenging (and awe inspiring) adventure for me, one that requires me to lean ever so far out of the boat and reach for HIS hand every day, so that I would be able to get out and walk with Him.

And so, I was challenged anew. I had been sitting kinda quiet on our blog…questioning if I really had anything worthwhile to share. So, I’m officially inviting some of you to hop on out of the safe boat with me. Will you share your stuff with me? Let’s see what He can do with some brave mamas and their stories.IMAG2773