Saturday, June 27, 2009

I am From...

I went to a writers workshop today by Minton Sparks. It was one of the best workshops I have ever been to. Minton Sparks is an author and performer. She is much more "artsy" than me, but she intrigued me none the less. I was drawn in by everything she had to say. Another aspect I enjoyed was the rest of the participants. All women (except for Minton's assistant who brought her boyfriend). There were approximately 30 women of all ages, races and backgrounds. We all had opportunities to share bits and pieces of who we are at different times through out the workshop. There is something about that kind of environment that invigorates me. I love to share my story and hear about other life experiences and story's. It never ceases to amaze me how we all really do have a story and more of us are alike in our life experience than we realize. There is something powerful, beautiful and freeing by sharing with others.

Minton gave us four different writing lessons but the one I want to share with you is from a poem she gave us by George Ella Lyon called Where I am From
(go to if you want to read it). The point of the lesson was to write brief descriptions of where you are from. There is no right or wrong way to do this and it can change day to day. You can also focus on one area of your life or a person in your life. I wanted to share what I wrote with you. ( I would love to hear your story via this poem expression...feel free to email it to me at

Where I am from...

I am from a duplex in a cul de sac

where large bushes grow

that form purple and blue flowers

and sidewalks never seem to end

I am from fighting, arguing, sadness, divorce, tears and grief

I am from new life, new family

keep it all in-don't let it out

lots of chores and young children to help watch

the smell of cigarettes and stale beer

I am from desires, yearnings, and longings that go unmet

wishful dreams and fairy tales in my head

I am from guilt, shame, and fear

I am from two very different families
one of control on the outside but chaos on the inside and the other of despair, and don't talk about things, head held up, don't let your guard down, and a never ending list of responsibilities

I am from NOW...freedom, peace, forgiveness and looking back with eyes wide open

I am from wholeness in Christ with His arms open wide, a loving husband and two wonderful children-together we are from NOW.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We had a guest speaker this week at church, Debbie French. Debbie is part of our church family. Her husband Steve is one of the church elders. Whenever Debbie speaks I am always listening with both ears and all of my heart. She is a simple yet elegant woman who has her heart and life centered securely on Christ. I could listen to her for hours. She said a lot of powerful things but the one that stuck in my mind the most was on unforgiveness she said, "its like you drinking a bottle of poison and then expecting the other person to die". Wow! Let that soak into your mind and heart just for a minute.

Forgiveness is a powerful word. It is also a simple but yet complex word. It can be easy to say or it can be very hard to say. It can be easy to accept or it can be very challenging to accept.

A few years ago the director at the school that I work at was talking about classroom management and discipline. As I was sharing about a particular situation with two children she told me that it was important that the one who offended asks forgiveness when they understand and are ready but more importantly the one who was offended is not encouraged to say "its ok", but instead simply say, "I forgive you". It took me a while to fully understand and accept this because for my entire life I have been unofficially trained to accept and say "its ok" when someone did something to offend or hurt me. Its not "ok". There is a difference in it being ok and that of forgiving someone. Forgiving someone is not saying that whatever was done or said was "ok" a.k.a acceptable. Saying its ok is like giving permission but by saying I forgive you, that is saying, yes it hurt and it was not ok, but I will release the pain, hurt, disappointment, etc and move forward (in other words I wont drink the poison).

I wish that forgiveness came with an eraser but it doesn't. Sometimes you may have to work a little harder or face something you don't want to, but in the big picture of life when you forgive you are drinking in life and refreshment to your soul not the big bottle of poison that comes attached with unforgiveness. Forgiveness is not offering a free pass to hurt others. Forgiveness is actually a gift to yourself. Freedom to let it go. Unforgiveness holds you in bondage to that person. Somethings are easier to forgive than others. Deep wounds, physical wounds and emotional wounds do hurt and forgiveness doesn't always ease the pain right away but it does help you move forward towards healing. It keeps you from being in bondage to that person.
If we can remember that unforgiveness is like drinking poison while we wait for the other person to die, then maybe just maybe, that will move us towards forgiveness and that will lift the heaviness from our shoulders and our heart. Remember its one day at a time. One moment at a time and as always...there is hope! Make the choice to forgive today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Best Day

The title of my blog is taken from a song by Taylor Swift. I have recently started bike riding (after looking at my bike in the garage for eight years!) and I knew if I was going to ride for more than five minutes I would need to listen to something. I found my husbands CD player, ear buds and I picked up the Taylor Swift CD. For a few moments as I was pedaling my bike through the neighborhood, I allowed myself the freedom to feel young again. I felt good. I was smiling and even found myself enjoying the challenge of the (slight) uphill inclines as I pushed my legs harder and harder and my breathing became more labored, Taylor continued to sing and this seemed to give me the boost I needed. A few times I found myself wanting to sing out loud as I pedaled on and on. For anyone who knows me that is very unusual. I don't sing. I especially don't enjoy singing out loud for other people to hear me.

As I continued biking around the neighborhood a song that I had not heard before began to play. I tend to be attracted to the music before the words (although the words are very important- that is what sticks in your head and I am firm believer in garbage in-garbage out). The music to this song caught my attention and as I listened to the words I was hooked. I hit the repeat button and played it over and over. If you have not heard this song before I encourage you to listen to it. The song is about a mother and daughter At one point as I was riding and listening I found myself getting emotional and for some odd reason this made me want to pedal harder and faster (note to self...always listen to emotionally powerful songs when exercising). I felt as if this song was meant for me and my daughter. If you have been following my blog you know that my daughter is dating a wonderful young man who has asked us for our blessing to ask her to marry him. There is a plan in place that she knows nothing about (although she knows its coming, she doesn't know when or how). I go back and forth with her because she knows its coming but she doesn't have that ring on her finger quite yet, so when she starts talking about wedding plans or future plans I say..."wait, you don't have a ring on your finger yet"....then there are times that I catch myself doing exactly what I tell her not to do! I comment or day dream about the wedding and her life with her future husband. I am excited for her. When you pray for someone for over twenty years and you have hopes and dreams for your own baby and you can see it unfold right before your eyes...yes, it's hard to have patience, but it will be worth it.

As I listen to this song I day dream about her wedding day and having a mother daughter dance to this song (I know that is not traditional and may sound weird-but we had a mother daughter dance at my wedding and I cherish the memory of her and I dancing together in our white dresses and her sweet little seven year old face beaming love to me as we danced together). I find myself getting sucked into the song as the words play over and over. I can clearly picture my daughter as the five year old putting on her pink coat, smiling, running and exhausted at the end of the day falling asleep on my lap. I find myself emotional because this represents innocence and security. Something I didn't feel as a child and I know that is something my mother never felt as a child. But it is something by God's grace that my daughter did feel. As the song continues she sings about being thirteen and having a fallout with her friends and in the song the mom recognizes this and takes time to love her through it by taking her for a drive and talking with her....I find myself recalling a time when my daughter came home very hurt and upset by friends at school. I didn't take her for a drive outside of town but I did pray with her and teach her to "stomp on the devil" (jump up and down very deliberate and scream loud...."devil you are not going to get this day from me...I am loved, I am beautiful, and you are stinky mean" (well I am not sure those were the exact words its been so long now but I know it was along those lines). As we sat on her bed, she hugged me, we laughed, and she told me she loved me. I know my mom never did this for me and I don't blame her because I know she was never loved the way a child should be. She also never had a sense of security as a child. I know my mom wanted to do the things that I felt I missed out on and now as an adult I can see that, and it moves me towards compassion for her.

As the song goes on she tells of having an excellent father....that is something we all have. I am not talking about a biological father but our excellent father in Heaven who loves us unconditionally. The last two parts of the song are about her reminiscing as she watches a video from her childhood back in the days of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs. This brings a huge smile to my face as my daughter loved dress up and she loved Snow White and the Seven DORF's (she called them this for years). She goes on to sing about realizing her mom was on her side even when she was wrong. This has me reflecting on my daughters journey the past few years and all she has been through and where she is today (praise God).

This song brings good memories and feelings but I also find myself feeling sad. I am sad for my childhood. I am sad for my mom and her life. I believe its ok to feel this. Its a part of my healing and moving forward. When you have the things in your life that I have dealt with, in order to move forward you need to look back and know that its ok to grieve and be sad. This has helped me tremendously in my journey towards hope.

Its never to late. Today is a new day. One day at a time. One moment at a time. There is hope.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Taking The Mask Off

We all wear masks at different times in our life. These masks are to protect us from the things we perceive that others may judge us by, or somehow make us unacceptable in others eyes, or protect us from pain, or we put them on to make others comfortable around us. There are also other reasons we put our masks on but these are the reasons that speak the loudest to me. I am in a season of life where I have flung my mask off and I never want to wear it again. Its scary. Its hard. It makes me feel vulnerable. I have found the more real I am with those around me they either open up to me and understand or they move away from me. I spent my entire life putting things under the rug and wearing a mask. Trying to be perfect in others eyes. Trying to be everything to everyone. Making other feel comfortable even when I was not. The mask also acted as a shield-shielding others from seeing all of the guilt and shame I carried around on the scarlet cord that invisibly sat firmly around my neck. I think my mind got so tired and the rug got so full that my mind and body finally had enough and that is when I had my first panic attack. I have come a long way since that day in January 2007.

Part of taking off my mask is that I have learned its ok to be real with others. Its ok to say no. Its important for me to understand that I am not responsible for other people's choices or behaviours. I have also learned how to speak up when I am uncomfortable or when I feel that something is not right. That is huge for me.

I realized how far I have come today when we were at Trader Joe's (I love Trader Joe's). One of my favorite items there is the TJ French Roast coffee. I had placed a full container of beans inside the coffee grinder and pushed the button anticipating the smell of fresh coffee beans wafting up to my nose. I noticed the grinder sounded different. I looked in the container and it only had a few inches of coffee inside then I opened the lid to the grinder and using the lid for the container I pushed some of the beans down a little more. I pushed the start button again...nothing but a whirring noise. I found a woman who was pushing a cart of boxes and told her of the dilemma, as she wiped the sweat from her forehead with her hand she said she would be right over to help me. She was over in my aisle within a minute or so. She immediately opened the grinder lid and starting pushing the beans down with her hands. Now I will tell you I am not a germ a phob but I am a firm believer in hand washing or at least use gloves if you are touching someones food (or coffee grinds). She continued to dig her hands around and push the grinds down. I knew in that moment I did not want those coffee grinds any more. I felt myself starting to get uncomfortable. I didn't want to offend her. I spoke up and said, "I appreciate your help but I will just grab another container of coffee beans and use the other grinder-no worries". She said she had it under control and continued to put her hands in the grinder and continued grinding the beans slowly for me. I felt even more uncomfortable and for a moment I thought I would just let her do it and pretend to take the container she gave me and then when she left the aisle I would put that one on the counter and get a fresh container and use the other grinder that was working. I quickly decided that would not be a good option-someone may pick it up and buy it. I knew I needed to "confront" her. I gently touched her arm and said, "I don't mean to be rude but I would prefer a new container of beans, you have put your hands inside the grinder and the beans and while I am sure your hands are clean, I would feel better if I could please get a new container". Her face turned red and she continued moving the beans in the grinder and said, "well my hands are clean I just got back from lunch". I said, "I am sure they are clean but really I want a new container and I will just use this other grinder, I appreciate your help though". She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and I grabbed another container of beans and used the other grinder. She finished grinding the beans and took the container with her. I finished grinding and went over to tell Doug about our exchange and he said he was proud of me! He knows this was huge for me.

I realized that I would have never done that before. I would have felt obligated to take the coffee beans that she had her hands all over or I would have waited till she was gone and changed it out. I would have put my mask on to make her comfortable. I think you can find a balance of confronting someone or even taking off your mask without being rude. I know I made her uncomfortable because the redness in her face gave it away. My intention was not to embarrass her but to state the truth as it was. Its hard to find the balance sometimes but when you do, oh it feels so good. It also feels good to take off my mask!