When I Felt Like I Was Too Different

way of gratitude (2)The Way of Gratitude: Day 7 (originally posted here)

Looking back on this post, I can still feel my frustration My sense of uncertainty about who I am, what I do, how I do it…

When I wrote months ago about being a Highly Sensitive Person, I may have mentioned how sometimes I feel very different than others I interact with. Ok, I don’t remember if I did say that, but I don’t have time to look back now. The truth is, I often do feel as though I approach life from a different perspective. I see this with family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. I talk about things differently (more feelings and less weather). I see big pictures instead of little details. And I often feel… different.

Today, I was frustrated with seeing things different than someone else and I began wondering if I was wrong. Sometimes when this happens, I start to wonder if I’m a little crazy. Why don’t they see what’s clear to me? Am I living in a different reality? (I might ask)

I was kind of worked up about this particular conflict of ideas when I called a friend who has the same temperament as I do. There I found someone who understood me. Someone who made me feel a little less crazy and “out there.” And she gave me ideas on what to do about this conflict going forward, because she too can see the big picture from an abstract point of view. We have Like Minds and I am so very grateful for her friendship.

 

Wow. Vague. I know. But have you ever been so flustered, overwhelmed, and lonely that you have been unable to express yourself? Have you ever felt like there is no answer, solution, or possible outcome? That’s how I felt. Like I was pinballing off of everyone else, not able to land. And then I had my friend. My safety. God has continued to provide places of safety. Like Minds. And I continue to be astounded by His faithfulness in affirming that He made me to be me

The road to self-acceptance has been long. Winding. With detours, black ice, and sink holes. But as God continues to provide people who affirm me, I am beginning to be able to affirm myself and pray David’s pray of Thanksgiving: 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14

day 7

Why I’m Grateful I Screw Up

The Way of Gratitude: Day 6 (originally posted here)way of gratitude (2)

Reading this, I remember why I’m naming our dog Gracie. Grace is amazing. In the full sense of that word.

Last night, I didn’t post about gratitude. I didn’t feel it. I was worn out from lots of housework, only to find that the hose from the washing machine fell to the floor during a load yesterday causing the laundry room to be soaking wet.

Not. Fun.

As I cleaned up the mess at 10:15 pm, I recited to myself, “Be grateful. You have a washer and dryer. Be grateful.” And I was for a moment, as I remembered walking up and down three flights of stairs to use machines across the courtyard from our apartment 7 years ago…

But I didn’t want to write about that.

I was feeling tired, whiny, and stressed when I went to bed.

And this morning… I woke up with a sense of guilt.

“I didn’t blog. I didn’t follow through on my commitment. I wasn’t grateful enough. I haven’t done enough to… to…” To do what? Oh that’s right, it comes down to this: “I haven’t done enough to please God.” Yup.

My entire life I feel I’ve been running around trying to do the right thing to make God happy. Because, maybe if I don’t sin, things would go well for me. Because maybe if I did things right, I would have his approval. Because maybe if  I was perfect on my own, he wouldn’t have had to die for me.

That is such a backwards expression of Christianity, yet it is one that is incredibly prevalent in a society that for years has used the church as a place to learn how to live moral lives. The Church is no longer a place to receive grace, but often a place to just receive a message on how to “do it better.” Completely focused on behavior. Not on the message of the cross.

What’s been forgotten is what Paul said to the Galatians who were backtracking to follow the Law instead of living in the New Covenant of Grace.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4 TNIV)

Nothing we do is good enough. And, conversely, if we try to save ourselves by doing good things, we alienate ourselves from Christ and his grace.

To be a Christian is to believe that it is through Christ’s death, his sacrifice ALONE, that we are saved and to give up all attempts to be good enough. To be a Christian is to confess, “I cannot do it on my own. God, forgive me. Help me.” And to be a Christian is to receive God’s forgiveness.

But when we try to be good enough with our own striving, we are strapping the rules and regulations of the law back on our backs like backpacks full of bricks. We have in effect rejected Christ’s work on the cross when we try to be good enough.

My writing this blog or not, my “being the best I can be,” my efforts that eventually fail… these things are all covered by God’s love. That is true grace. Forgiveness when we fail and have nothing to offer.

My not blogging last night producing such feelings of guilt is obviously an overreaction, but I am grateful for that feeling, because I was reminded that what I do or don’t do won’t affect my standing with God. I am his child. Period.

What I do or don't do won't affect my

I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to strive to make it up. God has already forgiven me of anything wrong I could possibly do.

Yes, I’m grateful for Grace.

I hope I’ve made it clear why.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 TNIV)

What Every Mama Wants to See

The Way of Gratitude: Day 5 (originally posted here)

way of gratitude (2)

A note before this repost. Reading and watching this, I am filled with glee. While back then I was grateful for a milestone, today I am grateful for the relationship that has developed over the last 3 years between my boys. They may fight, but they are always there for each other. THAT is something to be thankful for.

Tonight I’ll make it short and sweet. I’m grateful that Ben can finally walk so people will stop worrying about him. He’s a late walker, but so was Jack. Here’s a video I put on YouTube, but I can’t seem to imbed it on this page from my phone. I guess technology’s not all there yet. 😉

And I’m grateful for this moment with my boys. Jack was always trying to get Ben to walk to him, but he freaked the poor kid out with his enthusiasm. 🙂 So, this was fun to see.

Of course now he’s getting into everything, but this is a post about being grateful, so I won’t go there. (But I really hope he doesn’t climb onto the table again when my back is turned. Or the back of the couch. Or grab something off of the stove. Or a knife from the dishwasher… Child proofing is tough!)

Why I’m Grateful for My Smartphone – and it’s not Candy Crush

The Way of Gratitude: Day 4 (originally published here)

note: when I wrote this, we had no internet at home and everything I did was on my smartphone. We live in the future, guys. 

Ok, this thing I’m grateful for? And decided I was going to write about last night? Technology? Well, that’s pretty ironic, because I spent the half hour before bed looking for my phone which is what I’m writing all of this on. So, I’m a few hours behind, but I’m still thankful for technology – and specifically this phone. Here’s why.

Because of this phone, even though I started out the day forgetting a meeting, I received a text about it, was able to look up directions, and got there. I was late. But I got there. And it was one of the most edifying meetings. Really wonderful.

On this phone I was also able to listen to “Laura Story Radio” on Pandora for free. I was then able to make an emergency call to my boss who is in Indiana because the pilot lights on the stove at our building were out yesterday, gas was leaking into the kitchen, and I didn’t know how to relight them. Long distance calls, just like that. (Remember calling cards? When Tim and I were long distance, I had the numbers memorized.)

From the computer, I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut two hours ahead of time; thus making dinner after work a breeze. And later, I looked up a movie at red box from an app and used a coupon code I received in a text to BOGO for us and the boys.

Finally, for five minutes before bed, Jack got to Skype with Grammy and Auntie Laura – through my phone! – and they read him a bedtime story.

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That’s the true reason I’m thankful for technology. Because even though we live 927 miles from my parents’ house, and 1,090 miles from Tims’, my kids still know their grandparents and we get to see them on a regular basis. And for that, I am truly grateful.

What I Remember When I Feel I Don’t Have Enough

The Way of Gratitude: Day 4 (originally posted here)

This evening we went to Costco and stocked up. Apples, bread, pancake batter, mandarins oranges, pizza, sponges, toothbrushes… and on and on. So much so that I groaned a little as I paid for it all. I’m not sure how much we have left in our grocery budget this month. And tonight, I don’t really want to figure it out.

Each month I clip coupons, shop the sales, and am as smart as I can be with our budget, but so often it doesn’t seem like enough. And today, as I put our purchases away, I had the familiar internal dialogue. Is it enough? Were these the best purchases we could make? Will we get through the month? What should I spend the remaining $XX.XX on? Will we have enough produce? Yogurt? Chick peas? (Ben is insanely picky and strangely enough these are my go-tos) Will we have enough?

As I remembered this challenge God has for me, choose Gratefulness over complaining and worry, tears come to my eyes. Sometimes it is so hard. And money can be really discouraging.

But then I remember a well known Scripture that got me through the second half of my pregnancy with Ben, through the unsuccessful external version, through the c-section and the first months of his precious life: The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. (Psalm 23:1 NLT)

psalm 23-1

It became a breath prayer for me during that time. I repeated it often. During times of uncertainty, pain, stress, I remembered. The Lord is my shepherd. He is with me. He is my provider. The Lord of the galaxies who has infinite resources in his hands is my provider. In Him I have everything I need.

Recently, God taught me this in an undeniable way. We had been really struggling financially for months when I went to a conference where that message above was taught. I had never considered God that way before: Infinite resources. Desiring to care for us. I was challenged to trust in a way I never had before. After the conference, I asked for a very specific amount of money to come in through Tim’s business and my work the next month. At the end of the month, Tim texted me. We made that much exactly. Plus 84 cents. (update: I recently wrote about this here)

Incredible.

So, as I face the next couple of weeks, I look at the food on hand and trust that we do indeed have enough. To feed our kids, to keep them healthy, to keep them full, to be taken care of. We have enough.

And I am grateful.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

When Life Feels Gray, Just Add Color

way of gratitude (2)The Way of Gratitude: Day 2 (originally published here)

Today started out quite plain. Get dressed, eat breakfast, kiss Tim goodbye… And then I pulled out Jack’s Make-A-Plate kit (a gift from Aunt Teri, thank you!). Caps came off markers, coloring books were used as templates and Jack drew a plate exactly as pictured on the box… (I wonder how many plates Discovery Toys receives from kids who can’t get the one idea from the box out of their head. “But that’s how you do it!”) except “without a dog.” He doesn’t like dogs. (update: He now loves them. We’re getting one soon! Stay tuned…)

After coloring the plates came play dough. And after the play dough, watercolors. It was quite the colorful day. (Ben was inspired to give himself multi-colored zebra stripes on his arm.)

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When the colors had died down (and Ben had a bath), I began looking around our house thinking, When are we going to make this place our own? It could really use some new paint. There’s some nice vineyard feeling detailing in the dining room and living room – Tuscan, you might say – but I really don’t like the colors in the kitchen. And our bedroom is white. Blech. So I called Tim, inspired and excited to get started, when he reminded me, the outside needs to be painted first.

Oh yeah.

It’s bad. Really really bad. Not only is it fading in some places and chipping in others – ok, flaking might be a better description – if you even touch the house, you’ll have dusty white paint on your fingers. Not ok.

Inspired to paint the inside, I agreed to start with the outside. But first, colors. How can one truly work towards the finished product without color cards encouraging you along the way? So, I packed the boys into the car, went to Home Depot (or The Big Men’s Store as my Dad taught Jack) and picked up a bunch of colors!

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Aren’t they pretty?

Honestly, before feeling inspired to paint the house, I was feeling fairly discouraged for rather complex issues I can’t do justice here. But the very idea of making something new, of reviving our tired looking home had me so inspired and hopeful… I just couldn’t be more thankful. In the midst of a bleak circumstance comes a ray of light, soon to be reflected on our creamy, yellow home. And I’m grateful. Because without that inspiration, I probably would sit around wanting it to get it done without feeling like doing it myself.

And after the house comes the kitchen. Yay!!!

update: ok, the kitchen never got painted, but here’s a before and after of our house. Before I could take the “before” my  husband had already taken down our ugly forest green shutters. We are going to add some gray frames to the windows soon. And make the trim the same color gray since we switched halfway. Whatever! It’s so much better than our before!

house

And if you ever come over, you are likely to see crayons, markers, paints, and coloring pages spewed around our home. My new motto: when life feels gray, just add color.

 

WHEN LIFE

Gratefulness; Day 7 – Like Minds

When I wrote months ago about being a Highly Sensitive Person, I may have mentioned how sometimes I feel very different than others I interact with. Ok, I don’t remember if I did say that, but I don’t have time to look back now. The truth is, I often do feel as though I approach life from a different perspective. I see this with family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. I talk about things differently (more abstract ideas and less about the weather). I see big pictures instead of little details. And I often feel… different.

Today, I was frustrated with seeing things different than someone else and I began wondering if I was wrong. Sometimes when this happens, I start to wonder if I’m a little crazy. Why don’t they see what’s clear to me? Am I living in a different reality? (I might ask)

I was kind of worked up about this particular conflict of ideas when I called a friend who has the same temperament as I do. There I found someone who understood me. Someone who made me feel a little less crazy and “out there.” And she gave me ideas on what to do about this conflict going forward, because she too can see the big picture from an abstract point of view. We have Like Minds and I am so very grateful for her friendship.

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On another note, Ben seems to love reading as much as I do.
“Great minds think alike!”