Look Up

Look up photo

 

You can tell that summer is coming to a close. The evenings are now filled with a golden autumn light that encourages all to take advantage of these last, carefree moments. Leaves have begun to drift down, carried to yards of green on soft winds. Parents are smiling a bit brighter, ready for a reprieve from the mayhem of three months of “togetherness” that is beginning to take its toll.

Yes, summer is waving goodbye and I must say this year I’m not as excited as I usually am. There were some things that wanted to do over those lazy, hazy days that I never got around to. Some trips I wish we’d taken but I think that happens every year, you get so busy and pre-occupied with what has to be done that you forget what you wanted to do.

A good friend reminded me of that the other day. She had dropped her children off for their first day of school and decided to take a walk instead of head right into the office. It was something that she had wanted to do for a while, just take a moment and breathe. Many times, she recalled, her walks were focused, determined to complete them in record time in order to get to the “to do” list that waited anxiously. But today, instead of barreling down the road, eyes down, mind filled with pressing thoughts, she looked up.

The sky was a beautiful Carolina blue and the sun shared its golden rays, warming her face and touching her soul. It was the first time that she had allowed herself to walk this way, to take in what was there in that moment. Peace.

In that moment she knew that God was speaking to her in His soft subtle way, telling her to look to Him for all things. To lay her fears and burdens and anxieties and worries at His feet.

No burdens to carry, no worries to ponder what would she do without those things? What do we do without them?

Revel in the majesty of a sunset and let our children’s laughter fill our ears and delight our hearts. Call an old friend and laugh about the past. Realize that all we can do is live in the present, relish each moment we are given and release our future to Him. The One who knows all. The One who creates beautiful golden sunsets, brilliant blue skies and vibrant rainbows to remind us of His love for us.

Look up from your cell phone and your computer and your iPad. Put the pressing list of projects to the side for just a moment and look, really look at the sky and the trees and feel the breeze on your face.

Look at what is real and true.

It only takes a moment.

Look up.

 

Not Broken Just Bent-My Messy Beautiful

Bent flower

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

 

I sometimes imagine myself on a panel, you know, on a stage where they line up tall chairs for the speakers to awkwardly climb into and talk and be questioned about things or subjects they are experts on. But this panel is different, it is compromised of women, most who have been to hell and back, and they are telling their story of pain and loss and grief. How they survived and overcame and are dealing with breast cancer, infidelity, domestic violence or (unimaginably) the loss of a child. They are there, telling their story, sharing their hell. And then its my turn, my throat is dry and my heart is pounding, I know that my voice will crack or shake or do both if I attempt to speak. I wring my hands to stop them from shaking and I close my eyes and then open them and look down at the line of brave warriors that had gone before me and quietly say ” I got nothing.” Continue reading

In Search of Numen Lumen – In Celebration of Elon University’s 125th Birthday

Elon University

 

 

 

 

 

 

At forty I still feel young, especially when I’m with my college girlfriends. Age and time seem to fade and it’s just like when we were back under the oaks, listening to the Indigo Girls and drinking cold beer under a Carolina blue sky. I long for those days again, when life was simple and major decisions had nothing to do with houses and children and 401K’s. When the biggest crisis was who you were asking to the grab-a-date or finding where you left your bike the night before. It was a time when it was ok and almost expected to be a bit foggy at 11am and when everyone who depended on you was always a bit foggy too.

But time passes and life throws curves and rocks at you, you fall in and out of love and you find what matters most, all while amassing an adult life that you thought that you were supposed to have and aren’t sure that you really want. And with that brings problems and crisis and you find that your family and friends are real people with real problems, not the fairytale figures you created them to be in your youth.

People disappoint you and surprise you and horrify you and you realize that you are grown up and have to be strong because being weak is not an option. Yes, you may have moments of weakness but they can’t last because you have others who depend on your strength so that they may live their own lives and figure out this cycle for themselves. You see people who cannot be strong so you try to give them your strength to get them through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Continue reading

As Tall As Jesus

BUSHNELL PICTURES

I was in my late twenties, sitting in a church pew, clutching my (then) new husband’s hand, tears streaming down my face, I listened to my Mother and Uncles eulogize my Grandfather.

A story was told of a time when they had asked my Grandfather if he wished he was taller. This was a question that caught me off guard as I never thought of my Grandfather as short; he always seemed larger than life to me. When they asked him how tall he wished he was, his response, “As tall as Jesus.”

Gasps were audible throughout the church. The magnitude of the statement just uttered caused spontaneous inhalations of incensed church air. We Catholic’s are good at acting astonished.

My uncles, being the inquisitive bunch that they were (and still are), tried to determine the true height of Jesus through research and general “asking around” but never found a definitive answer. Finally, they went back, feeling discouraged and explained that they weren’t able to figure it out and looked to my Grandfather to solve the puzzle. He laughed a little and said that he didn’t know either but that was the point. Jesus was as tall as he needed to be. Continue reading

Finding Peace

 

Peace at the beach

I am scared a lot. I never let people think that I am because that would mean that I am weak and vulnerable and, well, that’s hard to admit. It’s hard to lament about your own situation when, one, you know so many whose problems are worse than your own and two, no one wants to hear you complain anyway. Being asked “how was your day” is not an open invite to dump about how all the kids do is fight and how work is crazy nuts and your are exhausted and just barely hanging on because chances are they are too. Continue reading

12 Things I know to be True

For Boston

For Boston

**I had posted this just a few months ago when the tragedy in Newtown, CT occurred. I wanted to share it again because I still see these things to be true.

In this time of immense sorrow and despair and mourning, all seems to be lost, again. In the blink of eye families, a community and a nation were shattered. Through our tears we try to make sense of a senseless act. We question all that we know to be true and right and just. But, in the midst of this tremendous pain, I dare to hope because, after much thought and prayer I have found 12 things that I know to be true.

1. Yes, there are bad people in this world but I know in my heart that most are inherently good. This tends to be highlighted in the face of adversity, when we band together to come to the aid of those that are hurting. Goodness is always there, just waiting to be released.

2. Forgiveness is necessary to heal. It can be the most difficult thing that someone can do, to forgive someone who has wronged them. But holding onto hate eats away at your spirit.

3. Tears are freeing, just like laughter, and necessary in order to move forward.

4. Prayer, falling down on our knees and lifting our hands to the heavens, allows us to be weak and vulnerable. Thus enabling God to come in and show us His amazing grace.

5. Pointing fingers and casting blame is a waste of time. Coming together makes us an impenetrable force to be reckoned with.

6. Love out loud. Make sure that you never hold it back.

7. Wanting to turn the news off and The Voice on should not make you feel guilty. It should make you feel human.

8. Sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a good friend is the best medicine.

9. Do not live in fear because then it wins.

10. There is great love and compassion in this world, open your eyes and see it and be a part of it.

11. Good always triumphs over evil.

12. Our faith and hope and love allow us to shine brightly and, in our darkest hour when all seems lost, we will be the light that overcomes the darkness.

XOXO

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Walk the Line

running-woman[1]Most mornings I like to get up early and go for a run. I love the quiet of that time of day, when all three children are snuggled in their beds and the sound of my husband’s slight snore lets me know that I have a few moments of solace before the mayhem of the day begins.

The morning chill greets me as I open the door to the day, a quick thought of, “do I really want to do this when I could be warm in bed?” crosses my mind. Quickly, I shake off the thought and head out to the road. Now I could tell you I am entranced by the bird’s morning song or the grey glow that surrounds me, announcing the sunrise. But no, I have one focus. To get running and get home to a steaming hot cup of coffee.

It’s the first few strides that are the hardest, then I get in my groove and get a rhythm. My initial disdain for this task turns to enjoyment as my feet pound the pavement.

I am one of those runners that makes you laugh. I don’t look like the women in the Nike commercials, long strides, glowing completion, beads of sweat falling perfectly around their temples. My face starts to look like the color of a ripe tomato, my mouth is open and I look down at the ground for the better part of my run. Not a pretty sight, I know.

That morning was no different from the others, head down, focused on getting one of my “to do’s” checked off but I began to notice something. As I ran along the side of the road, my feet always landed on the white line. I kept on with my pace and saw that I continued to do this up and down hills and even when the ground went flat. When I strayed from this path I felt uncomfortable and went back to what I knew.

And there it was, that morning I realized that my entire life has been spent playing it safe, walking the line. Taking chances makes my stomach turn. I’ve done pretty well living safely and under the radar not calling too much attention to myself. Rock climbing and spelunking were things that I had to do because of school trips, not by any choice of my own. I couldn’t understand why people did these things for fun.

Becoming a mother also led me to believe that I had to be conservative and cautious and that my focus had to be on my children, so I shelved my dreams and took on the diapers. But now my children are older and wanting to take chances of their own. At 9, 7 and 4 they are daring and fearless, something that I have never been and I find myself hoping that some of that rubs off on me.

My feet have always been on that line, doing what I think I am supposed to do instead of what I feel called to do. But I have started to notice that I am being drawn to the other side of that line, the side that isn’t so safe and predictable; where you could end up slipping and falling in the ditch because the road isn’t so even and stable. I have found that this makes my heart pound harder and my head swim and my knees shake a bit but I have also found that I love that feeling.

Not following that line has afforded me some incredible opportunities one of which was taking a trapeze lesson on a team building trip for work. I don’t do heights. The second floor of a mall, coming down an escalator, glass elevators all make me want to throw up. But I had to do this…I mean it was for work, I don’t think I would have been fired for not jumping off a platform and flying 20 feet above ground but I couldn’t risk it.

So I suited up in my harness and climbed the 5 flights of stairs (which seemed like five hundred) to the platform where a boy, yes he was tens of years younger, was going to hold onto my harness and keep me safe. Now I have given birth three times, that is scary in and of itself but there were “things” in place to keep me calm. Yes drugs. I said it. I am not a warrior mom who pops that baby out and is booming around in fancy p.j.’s an hour later. Not me. I do not like pain or heights. There now you know two of my weaknesses.

I shared my fear with him (like so many before me had) and he just smiled and said “When I say ready it’s not a question.” What the hell does that mean? I found out quickly it meant “when I say ready you are going to go even if I have to kick your feet out from under you.” And so he did. And I soared and almost soiled myself. But I did it and with a little trick to boot. And I went back up the five hundred, I mean five flights of steps and did it again. I shook like a leaf every time and I was sweaty and looked awkward and so not pretty.

That day I stepped off the line. I still try to step off that line every now and again because sometimes the risk of falling in a ditch is one I am willing to take.

XOXO,

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