Spirit Spit

I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was up at 5:30.The only pink shirt I own was about to be all up on this bod! I’m a themed dresser and I hate pink, but it was women’s conference day, day 2! Walking Confidently. I was fired up and in pink.

We were completely loved on and poured into the night before by the spirit. I imagined this was roughly 1/10th of the energy Peter felt as he huddled in a room with the other disciples and some believers as the Holy Spirit entered into them via God’s fire spit. God spirit spit melted into their skin, instantly penetrating their veins and filling their hearts. It was good. God spits fire, he really does. It’s in the word….you can’t deny it.

 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:3-4

Now, I didn’t see any actual fire tongues, but I could feel my heart heat up and beat faster. It was totally a Book of Acts moment. It was good and I was ready for more.

My oldest had other plans. I woke him up Saturday with praises. He has many gifts and talents, but winning is NOT one of those! He makes running look hard. Like seriously, you see this kid run and you will never want to run again because it just looks like pain. He was at a birthday party the night before and played laser tag. He came in last place, but was so excited that when he reminisced the story, I had just assumed he did well. It wasn’t until the morning, when I found the score card that I realized he was in last place. My heart melted. God doesn’t make us winners baby, but he surely gave us the gift of good sportsmanship!

Then…

“Eli can you turn down the ipod (Chris Tomlin music of course) please, people are still sleeping…..Eli more please, I can still here it on the other side of the house.”

“Fine!” He screamed as he turned it off and slammed it on the table. This ipod is hanging onto life. It’s barely there….literally barely there, half of the screen is already chipped off and somehow it still works. Like, you can’t be slamming and dropping this thing. It probably works because Chris Tomlin possessed the dang thing to play just HIS MUSIC! AHHH, he haunts me!

Well this was, of course, not ok and resulted in the ipod being taken. Moans. Then,  there was no milk because I forgot to get some. Moans. So Starbucks brownie for breakfast day! Calories don’t count during Women’s Conference day so game on! Cheers! I ordered chocolate milk and not hot chocolate. Moan. The tears. The tears. I was just making Eli’s life hell apparently. I finally broke and yelled….hard. More tears…and Tomlin singing about waterfalls and streams of mercy. It was just too much. Just way to much water, AND IT WAS WOMENS CONFERENCE DAY!!! I should be the one with the waterworks on while having some spiritual, fire tongue, spirit spit, God revelation moment darn it! Oh the irony.

Against all odds, he somehow remained in my car and I threw my hands up and laughed, eventually. I said, “Boy! You can’t rain on my parade. If you don’t want to eat that’s cool. If you don’t want your chocolate milk that’s cool too! More sugar for me because today calories don’t count!” We marched into that conference messy. We still showed up and we showed up ugg–aaa–lleee. He looked like a meth addict all red faced, eyes swollen and 4 scabs on his face from who knows what, boyhood perhaps? We were a sight! The baby just woke up and was in pajamas still and me…well I was angry and exhausted, already. I ran to my friends and asked what was wrong with my child!? They laughed and said absolutely nothing.

I was reminded. God doesn’t call us to become perfect people. He doesn’t call perfect people. There aren’t even any of those! He calls the messy. He calls the meth addicts and the meth addict look a likes. He calls the moms who fall apart and yell. He draws close those who throw up their hands in defeat. He grabs those hands and pulls them out of the water and guides their feet to walk on it! We struggle so He can shine. If we didn’t have trouble, God couldn’t show up. There is no miracle to take place if nothing is in need of some miracle making. He doesn’t remove us from adversity. He shows up in it. So then when we move and live and love in those terrible, ugly life moments people see a God at work in us. We praise him in the rain and the waterfalls of tears and He shows up and wipes them away. He never promises us a life of ease, but He promises us comfort and peace. Jesus says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33

So take heart my friends. Seek his comfort and it will be given. Show up messy and he will love on you. I walked out of that conference with confidence in my chaos. I am a mess, a beautiful mess, and that is ok. In my imperfect reflection  I can see His perfection because He shines through my cracks and brings light to the world. I just have to sing His glory loud and proud, give credit to where it is due. It’s not me that does the good stuff, it is Him in me. I am the one who yells, He is the one who redeems it. He showed me comfort through love from His people, my friends, who laughed and said “girl me too, you are not alone!”  And that my friends, is a truth that I can walk confidently in.

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Guide to Learning of Self (Mandy Edition)

People often question, “Who am I?” “What do I value?” “What are my morals?” “What kind of person do I want to be?” and so on. Often, these times of “self discovery” lead to trips around the world, or on journeys in your (mostly) single life. You meet people and leave people, become a gypsy. It’s all under the “YOLO” “Self-seeking” “I’m finding myself” “All about me time” “Imma do me” attitude.

…I think this is crap. But this is me thinking.

AND I think these are all beards. They are all cover ups. Beard A way to run. A way to avoid. It is a way to become someone you are not. It is a way to hide behind the excitement. When someone says something you don’t like you say “Peace out!” and throw up your deuces. Yes, you now have a pocket full of experiences and have enjoyed life. Pat yourself on the back. But the path of self discovery, I believe, doesn’t truly begin until 2 things happen.

1) Marriage

Nobody will be quicker to point out how bad you suck at life than your spouse. Those late nights used to be ok. The socks on the floor and pile of dirty clothes left in the bathroom after you showered used to be fine and unnoticed. You quickly realize that consequences follow actions and that they come in good and bad versions. Once, in your past and pre married life, you used to preach on forgiveness and on love….then you realize what a hypocrite you are because these ideas quickly retreat and hide under the bed when confrontation evokes. It used to be so easy. You used to love from afar, but now you must be accountable on every little thing.Oh boy! Look out! This means if you don’t cook dinner because you were to busy saving the world of the PTA, guess what!? Who cares? Dinner isn’t cooked so the world at home ends! Let’s see how well you can be all loving when that happens!

2) Children

Have you ever seen a mini human become so angry and loose patience in an instant just because 2 lego pieces wouldn’t connect correctly, or because the homework computer program won’t connect properly? Connection problems grrrr.  I’m sure you have seen this. Then there is that EUREKA moment… aka SHIT moment! You think, “I do the same thing!” Ever hear your child spew words of hatred because they were taught by example to snap when they get angry and to fire back with words? Have you seen your child protect what is theirs because they weren’t taught to share? Or if they were, they were taught out of discipline and not understanding. They share out of fear, instead of from their heart because they were never taught that human connection is worth more than their toy. Want even more of a challenge to finding self? Be a single mom. Then you can’t blame your child’s mouth on your spouse or their messy habits on them either. You are their #1 influence. BAM!

Self discovery….is mostly discovered with others.

Of course I have a perfect marriage and perfect children so I can’t relate to the above. My only defect is that I am simply to awesome. The fingers don’t all point to me here.

Fingers

Life is a path to self discovery and I am learning that I am just beginning to learn who I am.

Search my God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:26

Failure is always an option, but it is never final. There is always grace and there is always hope. In all that good stuff there are struggles. The struggles are the cracks and in the cracks the light will shine. C’est la vie!

 

Esther and the Lorax

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” -Bible, Book of Esther

And….

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -Dr. Suess

I live with my in-laws. Humbling to say the least. Daily it is a challenge raising 2 boys and a marriage. Yes, I am raising a marriage as well. We are baby newlyweds, and my marriage takes more attention and love than my children require. Kids are easy, but adults….oh man. Not my domain. My in-laws are from Vietnam. When everyone comes home from work my older son and I are often in our own little world, softly speaking English at the end of the table. We are the foreigners in a strange land. It is not a bad thing. I love and adore them and the culture immensely. But this brings challenges, lots of challenges, mostly to my pride.

I believe whole heartedly that God guides you to it to bring you through it. Cheesy and cliché I know! I have no idea what His purpose is for keeping me here, but I know it’s something. I have learned more patience, humility and more about love in the 2.5 years I have lived here. I have learned to put God first, to live for Him and not for others or even for myself. I have learned what it really means to love…haha sort of, only on my good days.

As I read through Esther (again) I see God’s hand in EVERYTHING! Just as I do as I look through my life. Interestingly enough, this is 1 of 2 books in the bible where God is not mentioned, but His presence and hand is clearly felt. I have a need to control EVERYTHING. This book is a constant reminder that I am not in control, HE IS! Although I may not feel Him, or understand what He is doing, I have to breath, trust and keep trudging the road to my happy destiny. God works and prepares other’s hearts as well as my own. I have no idea what He is doing around me or in me. If you have not read Esther I urge you too. It is so so good.

This is to be the year we FINALLY will purchase our own home. This will FINALLY be the year I enter full adulthood because in my warped mind it is a home that makes me an adult…?

Until then and probably even then,  I am and will be clinging to Esther and to the Lorax. They give me hope. Well, God gives me their stories….at least Esther’s anyway, and in their stories I find hope.They keep me focused.

If I don’t do ____, someone else will get to participate in God’s story there. Someone will do what I don’t. I have the privilege and the honor to be where I am and to do what I am doing thanks to God grace and His hand placing me into His will, His story.

Love is an unspoken language. Human compassion is universal and breaks boundaries created by our fears.

Do Over

2015, here is what I am going to do with the first 10 days of you. I am going to blog you.

Resolution: to love.

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Yeah, yeah, this was my 2014 resolution as well. It’s broad indeed, but so much needed. Jesus says over and over to love. Always love love love. I’m choosing to love. I am going to love hard, even when it isn’t deserved, because let’s be real…when is love ever really deserved? Love isn’t something we are entitled too. Love doesn’t just happen. It needs to be practiced. It needs to be mastered and that takes time, energy and failures.

So I am going to love.
This year I stumbled upon this Do Over movement with Jon Acuff. He’s a funny guy, I like him. My life is peachy, but it can get moldy, just as peaches do. So recently it has needed some pruning and other TLC maintenance. You can read more about this fun Do Over thing here: http://acuff.me/2014/12/want-media-list/. I am sure there is a fancy way to insert that, but blogging is new to me. My 8 year old could do it for me. He is my tech guru, but he is not around…so there. #feelinglazy My 10 day challenge thingy ma bob is going to be to blog it out.
I don’t like my blog. I started this thing and it has turned into something I am, but also not. Yes I am a recovering addict, but I am so much more than that. There is so much life beyond that fact and although the endless road of recovery is one of my favorite walking paths, it is not the only one I walk on. Sometimes I like to jog too, or ride my horse. There are so many other paths and means of travel. Shit I even drive on roads in my car and in other peoples vehicles! I started this blog because I find humor in the tiny cracks in the sidewalks where the ants build their homes. I laugh at my life. It is a blast to live. My life is peachy, but it isn’t ripe. There is sadness, my marriage sucks but we love each other. We just are 2 imperfect people trying to live a perfect life and it just doesn’t work most days. I live with my in laws, who are lovely people, but very different. They are Vietnamese and love to blast karaoke on school/work nights, don’t know how to speak quietly even when the person they are speaking with is directly in front of them, and they believe the world revolves around them. If they need something we are expected to drop whatever we are doing and serve them. But I promise they are amazing and the most loving people, just very difficult to live with. Life isn’t what I expected, definitely not what I envisioned, but it is so much more. This life is what I want to blog about. My grace filled, colorful, catching monster big sting rays and cutting them up with my husband to eat, feeding my son raw salmon and kale chips because he is now a pescatarian life is what I intended this blog to be. My life of recovery is beautiful, but I don’t and can’t stay there. I have to be present in my present.
So here we go 2015, 10 day Do Over Challenge.
Hey LOOK! I did it! Do Over
2015

Just the 2 of us

To continue…

Eli’s teacher sent him home with a copy of a thank you letter he wrote the Napa Rotary Club. It was a thank you letter for dictionaries that they donated to the classroom. Heavy. He wrote:

“Thank you for the dictionaries. I always wondered why do bad things happen to good people? It is funny how so many birthdays and death days happen October-December. Have you seen Harry Potter movies? I have 1-3, parts of 4-6 and all of 7. Have you lost a parent at a young age? I have, my dad. Have you lived somewhere else and moved? I lived in Michigan and moved 3 years ago right before first grade. I am going to Michigan December 17. Have you been to Michigan? When I grow up I am going to be a pilot. Thank you.”

Ouch. My heart. As I read this I learned (wouldn’t be the first time) that my little boy is becoming a person. A REAL person, with feelings and opinions and struggles and AHHHH. Not that I didn’t know he was real before…I did. But you have a baby and they are almost like an accessory for a long time. They are glued to your side. You feed them, love them and drag them everywhere with you just like your favorite pair of earrings, except you can’t take them off and put them in a box. Then all of a sudden they obtain a voice and gather up some opinions. They grow up.

Gosh I sound like an empty nester and my oldest is really only 8!

So reading this letter made me realize the baggage my boy carries. He has a heavy load. It’s been a year. He is wise and he is naïve. Above all he is so beautiful and so inspiring. God uses him so much in my life. It’s a beautiful thing.

I decided after this letter and after the latest breakdown (my last post) that we needed to go out, just us 2 and have some fun. We needed a break and some play time. I took him ice skating and we     had      a      BLAST! We followed our “hang out session” as he called it with some hot chocolate and some deep conversation. We agreed that it now felt weird and empty being just us 2, but that it was a nice break from the world. We missed little Max. Max has now become our favorite accessory, one that we won’t take off…except during our hang out sessions. But we won’t put him in the earrings box of course! We have awesome friends that love my babies just as much as we do.

dateAfter our hang out I had some reflection time as he plopped on my bed for his Harry Potter night cap. I realized how important my relationship is with each of my children. God has put me here to be their guide; to share my experiences and my wisdom with them. Most importantly to love them, show them grace and mercy just as He shows me daily. We have ugly. We have messy. That is ok. Through it all we need to take time out hang outs and love. This boy needs mom time just as much as I need alone with God time. Time is more valuable than money, more important than food and more precious than newborn babies. We have limited time here to spread the love of God. Mumford and Sons sings it best- “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

So forget me and my weekend plans, I will invest my limited time to get the biggest return.

When the world beats you down and you can see it through your 8 year old’s eyes.

As an 8 year old life is simple and so complicated. Your brain is connecting the dots and is beginning to rationalize things. You are learning right and wrong. You are exploring the world, building up your list of hobbies, figuring out what music style is your favorite and beginning to hate school.

I had to have the drug talk before the sex talk with my 8 year old. Do I think that’s fair? No. Am I mad? Yes. Will it be ok? Yes. Do I feel like sometimes my child will grow up, hate me and become an addict? Every day I breath. So what do I do?

Last night Eli was asked to turn of his Christian Rock and to stop drumming on is tambourine and couch pillows. We had people over, it was loud and very distracting. He had a fit. He broke. This unfortunately has become the norm. Tears. Anger. Hate. Even more unfortunate is my reaction to it. I get angry. I don’t hit. But I get mean and I yell. I have come to terms with this. I have a short fuse. I am not proud. I haven’t always had it, but it is there now. Recently I have really REALLY been praying hard to stay calm, especially when it comes to Eli. It’s been working. But last night when I heard him asked to stop and he did not stop, I lost it. I yelled. He cried.

What would I do if my God yelled like that? I would hate. I would break. Our relationship with our children is intended to mirror our relationship with our creator. Our relationship with our spouse should be in reflection of that with our creator. Our relationship with our neighbor should mimic that with our God. The trinity=community. To help me remember this I have a sticky not posted on my desk with 2 questions; What am I doing to enhance my relationship with my kids? How am I advancing their relationship with God?

After we fought and cooled down he came to me and pulled me aside. We couldn’t go in my room because the baby was sleeping and we couldn’t go into his room because he doesn’t have a door. So we locked ourselves in the bathroom. I have more deep adult conversations with this boy than I do with my husband sometimes, he is so emotionally developed, but at the same time not. It is the weirdest and coolest thing. So anyways, he says “Mom I feel like since Max came that you hate me. You always yell at me and play with him. He is around 98% of the time. You never see me anymore.”

…..and I lost it. I couldn’t defend myself. I couldn’t find words. While dealing with the abandonment of his own father, this boy was whisked away from his family and thrown into another that is total opposite of the one we came from. Then who had to welcome a new brother and then to top of this year, losing the father that walked out on us years before. This boy feels like I hate him. This whole butterfly effect he has watched unfold, it’s tragic in his eyes. He sees his dad leave, he sees me pick up pieces. He sees a new guy and accepts him, even though he knows he is not his dad. He says bye to those who helped raise him to move to have a new rebuilt family to replace the one that broke. He never feels accepted here. He is always the odd ball. The boy from the other guy, the extra baggage. There is no connection. The food is different, the language is different. So he clings to me, to what he knows. He has a brother that gets showered in love and attention. He hears “Max is going to be Vietnamese, speak Vietnamese, eat Vietnamese.” To him, who is 8, he hears that he isn’t good enough. And as this boy tells me that he feels like I hate him and can trace these feelings back to when they began….I’m floored. I had no words. I have a rush of guilt weighing on my shoulders. Gosh it’s heavy.

Last night, it broke. Well actually this year it broke. No…wait….It broke 2 years ago. Ohhh nope, pause…..let me think…..it broke 4 years ago, or maybe 5? Maybe it broke back in 2005? Let’s be real, it breaks every day. Then with God’s grace and mercy, it mends. Jesus fixes it. He doesn’t have to. He can leave me, us broken on the bathroom floor, but instead He picks us up and leaves only 1 set of footprints in the sand while He carries us. I know this, but sometimes in the lenses of this world it is easily forgotten.

So this morning I was reading my time hop. I had all these beautiful posts on thankfulness, while feeling bitter. And it connected. I am most grateful for redemption. I am thankful that failure is an option, but it is NEVER final. I am thankful that in all of this mess I can look at Eli and say ” I am so sorry.” and together we can both look up to God and say “Please fix our mess and make it beautiful and for your glory.” I am thankful for our God that heals.

Life is messier than moon dough and it is full of layers and connections. Every action we take has an outcome. Every choice effects others. I am not at the center. I am thankful that all I do in my lower story will be a piece of His greater upper story, no matter how much I mess it up. No matter what actions we do He will use them and He will make them into something so much more beautiful. For this I am thankful. For this all I can do is fall at His feet and worship.

The ugly in my life is homemade with good intention, but not through prayer  and not with God. The beauty in my life is God given. It my ugly re-sculpted with His hands. So to answer my own question on what do I do….I keep moving. Daily I need to pray, daily I need to give my will to God. And not only for me, but for others. I need to love and to share-to be naked and vulnerable, just as God intended me to be in the garden.

We are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God and we will keep loving and keep breathing and keep thanking God for what He has given to us.IMG_0384-EditPicture perfect, but only in the pictures