RSS

Search results for ‘marching band’

Warrior Princesses and Marching Bands

IMG_4469

There is absolutely nothing quite like the sound of a marching band. Nothing like it. I love me some jazz band, for sure, and I’ve enjoyed watching my high school son perform an improv solo on the trombone at concerts, but a marching band coming at me is so ceremonious. I always choke up when I hear and see it. I had about five seconds of fame in my high school marching band. I played a xylophone, which proved a bit much for this 5 foot 2 girl to carry, at least at the time, but I loved being part of the march, the formation, the celebration.

So, I sit here in my van outside the high school band entrance delighting in the fading sounds of practicing percussionists with a few trumpets and trombones hanging in there—and a tuba. The rest of them have already gone inside to pack up. And even though this blog is way behind schedule, and I truly have no idea what I’m going to write about (God usually gives me an image or story, and I pray and go from there), I’m transported back to school days, pep rallies, peer pressure, and pimples. My own high school stories are not phenomenal. They didn’t leave lasting impressions on my life (people did, but not necessarily experiences), nor did they scar me. I still have some great friends from that time, although I’ve never made a high school reunion yet. But the truest friends from my high school years have remained in my middle decades, and that is awesome.

 ———————————————–

After a few interruptions (ages 8, 11, 14, and 43), I finally returned to finish this blog, and it’s amazing because I asked God: “Okay, I’m a little late here on the inspiration…what are we going to write about today?” He already wrote an entire book that continues to be a best seller, so there’s really nothing to add to that. I just try to talk about what I discover in His Great Big Book of Truth (the Bible, of course!).

And then I quickly caught up on a private message on social media with a few people (four) to whom I sometimes call out for prayer. We call ourselves the “Warrior Princesses” because we war against the rough stuff of life in prayer for each other. And there was something heartfelt and deeply personal that I shared earlier in the day, which was followed by several amazingly poignant observations about either my own wrong thinking or where I wasn’t seeing with clarity or fullness of the situation. But it was said with deep love, compassion, and care. It spoke directly into the inner turmoil I had. I didn’t have to share more than a few sentences. These prayer friends just knew my silent torment. And because God made them individuals, they each had different wisdom to bring to the table. One of them speaks with a sweetness, one with blunt and delightful wit, one with practical wisdom, and the other with maternal compassion. They each have something unique but true to say—and it blends in beautiful harmony.

I believe it sounds like a triumphant march of praying, warrior chicks who won’t give up helping each other to look up to God. As one of them put it when I asked permission to reveal our group name (Warrior Princesses) on public forum:

“Yes, you can say that, Bonnie. We are very Xena with our swords, and I want a horse, too, please.”

She’s absolutely right. When one of us hurts, doubts, can’t see Jesus through the clouds of our own chaos or confusion, the other four ride in on horses cutting out the untruths and reminding the limping one of God’s truth. Sometimes two or more of us have multiple “Oh, Jesus, please help us!” moments going on at the same time. Somehow, we all, in private message format, get it taken care of. And we’re not all on at the same time. But Bible verses are typed, e-prayers are written, and some fun emoji (topic for another blog, for sure!) are shared.

Another group of praying moms sits around my table every other week for a few hours. An hour of coffee, a half-hour or more of sharing, and 30-45 minutes of prayer for our children, schools, communities, teachers, bus drivers, you name it! And tears have been shed as well as peals of laughter heard—sometimes even in the middle of prayer—because life is messy, muddy, sticky, gooey, and if we aren’t real about that, why on earth do we gather in the first place?

And of course there are my precious one-on-one friends who read my three-sentence angst in a text and know exactly how to reply. They, too, know my history and where exactly my heart is in certain moments without me saying much.

There are some dear ones with whom I simply exchange a meaningful hug at church, or elsewhere, and the embrace says so much while we say almost nothing. It’s an exchange of pain and encouragement—an “I love you, and I understand.”

This blog isn’t about how awesome I am to have these friends. It’s to encourage us all to enjoy the variety God gives us. To not rule someone out just because they’re a bit blunt, and you are more sugary. (In my case, my oldest child tells me I am not “sweet,” but rather “spicy kind” in personality. Yeah, I probably have to agree with him there.)

I have felt badly lately because I haven’t been very good at holding anyone else up in this particular season of my life. My strength only went so far, and I hate that. I like it when I can extend it beyond our family. I certainly pray for people and send out an encouraging word here and there. I respond. But I haven’t been able to carry others. My arms and heart have been weak. I have felt my limitations, and they have been humbling. I want to do more, but in this season, God brought my focus back home for a while. He narrowed it, and I am learning to be okay with it, because I trust Him to broaden it again when it is time.

And this is where we need people to come alongside us and say: “It’s your turn. It’s okay that you need us right now without an immediate return on investment.” As one Warrior Princess put it:

“There is no tally being kept.”

What? There’s not? Most of the world out there doesn’t tell us that. People who don’t keep tally are rare gems.

But this cycles me back around to that resounding boom of the marching band. One instrument, or even five of the same instrument, cannot bring the same music to our ears as multiple instruments playing different parts. If I surround myself with only funny people, I miss the beautiful music of the more serious ones. We need all of the personalities in our lives to blend and teach us something.

I love what the Apostle Peter has to say about this in the 1 Peter passage about different gifts. What do you think? What does your band sound like? Does it have both speaker and servant personalities* in it?

1 Peter 4:10-11, Apostle Peter speaking

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Warrior Princesses and Marching Bands

*A more thorough discussion of personality differences represented by this Scripture can be found in Not Just on Sundays.

**This blog has been shared at Faith-Filled Fridays, Blessing CountersDance With Jesusand Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Getting Out of the Dinosaur Line

260062_2134421162730_931387_n

I’m not sure what’s going on here…preparing for another Ice Age? Looking for Godzilla? There’s “organized dinosaur activity” in my family room this morning, and I’m not totally in on the secret. I’m a little afraid. 

The thing is: I’m starting to feel like those dinosaurs, like I’m following blindly toward a finish line without really stopping to think along the way. For all they know, they could be headed to the tropics as they march along together without questioning. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions, too, lately: Get this kid from school to go to an hour and a half orthodontist appointment, only to get that one back to school and grab the other one from a different school for a different appointment. Life can feel that way sometimes. Schedules start to define us. Suddenly we are marching in a dinosaur line.

Zooming out a little, I have to wonder if somewhere along the line, the first dinosaur said: “You should take at least three [fill in the blank here] classes, try this after school club, be in a book club, and while you’re at it, try your hand at the trombone and xylophone.” And the second one in line might have questioned it at first, but he decided maybe letting someone or something else dictate his life for him was easier. So he went along.

And then on down the line.

By dinosaur No. 6 in line, they stopped questioning and followed the herd.

For a while, I think I was one of these dinosaurs. I jumped into too many commitments thinking somehow I could keep it all going. I followed the first few good ideas I heard and then realized, halfway in, that I was walking in a stress pack with a bunch of other overtaxed dinosaurs. We had gone miles together without even realizing how worn out we were.

I started this year off saying I wouldn’t do the dinosaur walk. It was okay if I didn’t follow Brontosaurus the exact same way because I’m a Stegosaurus, after all. But that pesky T. Rex sure had some great ideas, and I figured out pretty quickly I’m not a T. Rex. I’m a Stegosaurus. So I said “no” to the T. Rex. And as proud of myself as I was for saying “no” for 35 seconds, drawing a boundary over here, “no” often leads back to another “yes” somewhere else—and I was back in that line again.

When you look at that beautiful dinosaur trail, it looks so appealing and orderly, doesn’t it? They look like they have purpose. I want purpose. I bet you do too. But, I figured out that purpose didn’t come from following every great idea out there. Sometimes, it involved trying new things out on the trail, but often, it meant getting out of line to regroup.

This year I told my kids: “If you want to do marching band, you can’t be in three youth groups. If you want cross country, you can’t dance every day.”

But I forgot to tell myself that.

Oops.

Everybody else out there always makes that line look so attractive. Oh, flag football! Let’s try that! And, woodworking club, awesome! Crew? Let’s sign up! Diving team? Go for it!

And those things are awesome. I wish I could keep up with it all. But I think we’re all out there marching around like tired dinosaurs because we’re either driving people to these things, or we’re in them ourselves.

For me, it’s really not a sports thing (refer to latte blogs…walking to the mailbox is a sport for me). For me, it looks more like this: “Oh, women’s Bible study? Awesome! Let’s do that every week. And teach Sunday School. And do a book club and a moms’ prayer group! Then maybe make a bunch of muffins. And do a fundraiser (it’s been a while)! And send off care packages.”

I’m a “let’s keep busy and do” junkie. I bet so many people can relate.

The thing is: I love each and every one of those things—as long as I don’t think they define me. As long as I remember to jump out of line now and again.

I wonder if we followed this particular group of plastic beasts around, if we’d find that they each eventually figure it out and drop out of line. Maybe they end up in the tropics after all and wonder how on earth they ever got there without noticing?

I don’t think I’d make it that far. I want to know how not to over-involve myself, even when other people have really great ideas of what we could participate in together.

I want to be more still.

I want to get out of the dinosaur line and learn what it truly means to have God “establish my steps.” I’m pretty sure that’s where peace and calm can be found.

Psalm 131:2, David speaking

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Proverbs 16:9, Solomon speaking

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

*This blog can also be found at Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #24.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Putting the Margins Back into Life, One Latte at a Time

564800_4700528793817_785620636_n

See this latte? If you’re a coffee drinker, it looks awesome, right? Very inviting. Foamy. Caramel drizzle. Love in a cup, no?

See the mess behind it?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I left it in the picture on purpose. Because lately, that’s just how I roll.

This little story is about more than a steaming vanilla latte on my counter waiting for me.

It’s about mess.

It’s about rest.

It’s about life with no margins versus life with margins.

As a book author, just days away from Not Just on Sundays hitting the public, I am learning a lot about margins. For formatting reasons, I have to have inside and outside margins, so that there is room for the paper to be cut as needed to make a neat, perfect 6 x 9 book. I also need a gutter margin so that there is space in the binding; when someone opens the book, he/she doesn’t want to try to read my words sinking deep into the middle. Needless to say, without margins, books are an epic fail, a mess. They need clear boundaries: distinct “start” and “stop” places for the words. Even the headers and footers need space in-between themselves and the main text. Otherwise, everything lacks clarity.

It turns out life is that way as well. It needs margins. If I plan back-to-back events with my kids, there is no driving time, no accounting for traffic delays, no time set aside to eat. If I overplan our schedules, I can’t pick three kids up from different locations at the same time. Likewise, if they don’t have any time outside of school, cross country, dance, marching band, and karate, they will not be able to do homework, to get rest, to unwind, to restore themselves.

As it turns out, I can’t publish a book and keep my house clean and meet every need in the kids and finish important conversations and remember people’s birthdays and return phone calls within respectful amounts of time and grocery shop. Nope.

For a while, I was putting pressure on myself that I could do all of those things well. Not long after, I quickly swirled into a tunnel of not only can I not do them, but I suddenly couldn’t remember to stop to take my vitamins, shower, read, eat regular meals, etc.

I started living life without margins.

And, like the text of a poorly formatted book, I bled into the margins.

Publishing term for you. Bleed (blēd) (n.) Text or graphics that extends all the way to the edge of the paper it is printed on. Bleeds are used in publishing for graphical effect and for printed tabs. Most printers cannot print all the way to the edge of the paper, so the only way to produce a bleed is to print on paper larger than the final page size and then trim the paper. (v.) To run to the edge of the paper, thereby producing a bleed.

What did living without margins do?

It bled into my relationships (no time to meet).

It bled into parenting and marriage (a lack of patience).

It bled into my sleep patterns (a screen right before bed and a 1:30 AM bedtime).

It bled into my health (one should get regular rest, meals, exercise).

It bled into my prayer life (quickly zapped-off prayers instead of more time listening to Him and dialoging as if we were at coffee together).

But unlike the cover art of a book that is supposed to bleed over the edges for printing purposes, the text of my life was spilling out of the margins. Text needs con-text. And the con-text of my life was living, breathing, eating time up in blog-writing, book pre-launch and launch, and publishing. There was no margin in my context.

So, the latte on my counter? The one with the trash behind it? Today that is my built-in margin. I’m trying to get them back, one edge at a time. The countertop can remain messy for a few days. I’m not superwoman, after all. The laundry is probably not going to make it upstairs, but it’s folded to be pulled out of the basket. The book will be published. It’s just a matter of days now, hopefully.

But I need to get my edges with a little wiggle room again. Otherwise, I’m, well—edgy. And that’s not only not fun to be with, but it’s a hectic way to live…on the edge.

Margins in books are boundaries for the eye to know where to read without too much busy. They are how the mind sorts out headers and footers, but the printer needs the area also to keep the edges clear for paper being cut without taking text with it. I don’t want to have my text removed—either in my book or my life. Without margins, something gets cut out. It has to. We can only do so much.

Margins in life are boundaries too. They are healthy spaces where we are just still. Where we don’t have something scheduled. Where we have down time. Where we say “no” so we don’t lose our context—or the “text” of who we are.

Today the latte mug sits on the counter, happy to be accompanied by trash that will eventually be thrown out. It represents a choice to respect myself and others around me enough to insert margins again.

Is anyone else also needing some?

I want a “rebuke the wind and waves” of life kind of moment. I want to find “completely calm” again in-between the frenzy. Who’s with me?

Mark 4:39, Apostle John-Mark narrating

He [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Psalm 131:1-2, David speaking

My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

*Update since this post was written: Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day published October 1, 2014. It is available in paperback and as an ebook.

This post has been shared with Christian Mommy Blogger, Blessing Counters, and Tell His Story.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pressure-Cooker Culture: Is High School in America Becoming an Initiation into a Lifetime of Stress?


IMG_6323

My high schooler recently sat down next to me and told me about friends taking five (sometimes six) honors classes in ninth grade (the school only recommends three at the most at a time), doubling up in advanced math/science/engineering. These students are 14 years old.

There was an unspoken question somewhere in him telling me that.

So, I took a deep breath and told him that while I would never put anyone down for that, because clearly academic achievement is a noble goal, our family makes a different choice because of our placing equal value on everything else that he does outside of academics: marching band, youth group, karate, robotics. I told him that:

  • We value good grades (“personal bests”)—but balanced with mental/emotional wellness.
  • We want to instill a good work ethic, along with built-in moments to unwind.
  • Statistics show way too many overworked, over-pressured high school students keeping themselves artificially awake in unhealthy (or even illegal) ways round the clockending up in psych wards having emotional breakdowns, or taking their lives. Yes, I realize there can be several factors playing into those situations, but academic pressure is one of them. In my opinion, one kid suffering in this way is one kid too many.
  • Ivy League college entrance letters and highly successful future careers are admirable things to reach for, as long as we keep perspective. Training my kids to live in a constant state of lifelong, self-driven pressure and stress, however, is not my end goal.  

I know some folks feel that the United States could increase education standards. I realize that the bar could be higher. It always can. I also know how well other countries around the world do in math and science. I attended college in one of those countries for a while, and I get it. I do. And I know in this increasingly high-tech world, kids are being pushed to take college-level classes sooner, push math advancement, interface with technology at earlier ages. Nothing is inherently wrong with that. I’m all for seeing what people are capable of and letting kids grow toward greater responsibilities, setting personal goals to do better.

But I also value well-rounded individuals with a wider understanding of the human experience. In the United States, college admissions counselors still look for after-school club involvement, community service, and extracurricular activities on the field, in the studio, and at the track. And they should. I don’t think we are doing 18 year olds a favor having them think the world is so narrow that as long as they can program in Python, they are all set for their future.

On the flip side, they need to learn how to balance stress, work and school, and the people in their lives, so I’m also not in favor of high school students in such a state of relaxation that they play video games for 6 hours straight while parents do the laundry and cook their meals. Either end of this pendulum swing has its pitfalls and dangers.

Honors-level classes are awesome if students can perform at that level. Go for it! Call me American (because I am), but honors classes at the expense of everything else—social interaction, activities that broaden character, serving the community, etc.—is where it can sometimes be out of focus.

Life outside the 40 to 60 hours of work per week these future adults will put in has so much more to it. If we teach our kids that academic achievement is the ultimate striving, then where is their personal satisfaction and fulfillment during downtime, when they are just kickin’ it with their families for a few days, or when they want to contribute something non-academic to society?

As one of my social media friends shared, when I brought this up in public forum: “It isn’t good to base an entire life on performance.” And that’s true of anything out of balance: performance of any kind, really.

In my humble opinion:

  • They need to learn how to talk to humans: their boss, their parents, other people’s parents, their coaches, their teachers, their peers.
  • They need to know how to stop and breathe when stress piles up, to prioritize a hectic schedule, to find a way to rest (which ironically, is designed to ultimately keep them at optimal performing level when they take the gift of rest), to wrestle through issues of faith, morality, and justice. To grow into adults who function emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, spiritually.
  • They need to see know how awesome it is to help in a soup kitchen, to run a marathon, to get a black belt in karate. Of course it’s not about doing all of those things—or even those particular things—just people-to-people interactions in general.

As I read my niece’s college application essays this summer, I thought: Well done! She is a high academic achiever but also mentored younger students in cheer, held a job, babysat, went on mission trips, anchored her school news reporting, among other responsibilities. She doesn’t appear to have let any one of those things get out of focus.

I’m glad my son and I had this talk because I saw relief on his face that we don’t expect six honors classes at a time. My parenting wasn’t so much in my saying “no, please don’t take that many” but rather in the why we don’t expect that. I saw the panic button stop going off. There was a life lesson right there that I hope he teaches his own children someday:

Balance, Son, balance.

Because if there’s anything I want my kids to know going into adulthood, it’s when to rest.

——————————————-

Exodus 34:21, God speaking through Moses

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”

Mark 6:30-32, Apostle John-Mark narrating

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

10 Strength Training Exercises of Faith

10 Strength Training Exercises of Faith“You’re getting stronger. I can see that about you. I can tell that you realize what isn’t in your control, and there is a peace about you.”

That was her assessment of me as I sat across from this professional who walked me through an emotionally difficult time.

Stronger? Really? You can see that?

See, the thing is: I feel stronger. I didn’t realize, however, that it was evident to anyone else.

But where does my strength come from?

Sure, the squats, lunges, and planks (one of my warrior princesses told me to add a “dead bug”) I do a few times a week are toning my physical body, but what about my spirit? How do I exercise that?

How did I build my spiritual muscles during a time when staying in bed, perseverating on what was out of my control, and escaping through other means were tempting alternatives?

Sometimes it was a minute-by-minute battle, but the choices were critical in determining if I ended up character-toned and feet planted more firmly in God’s amazing grace.

God’s Word offers me solutions and truth in every circumstance.

1. “Work out” according to His Word Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days: Keeping It Real and Crying Out to God

Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days_I’m part of a group of online praying friends (we know each other in person, too, but our interactions tend to land mostly on private messaging) called the Warrior Princesses. We exchange a few messages almost every day, usually a callout from one of us to ask for a quick prayer about something we’re going through. What I love about this is that we’re all busy moms. Some of us are homeschooling, some are working at home, others still have small ones in the home and not in all-day school, some are going to school and working, and some are doing a combination of those things. We don’t have a lot of time to do long, monk-like prayers in the proverbial prayer closet. We are literally shooting up a prayer or two throughout the day while feeding the baby, washing dishes, straightening laundry, unpacking (two of us just moved), sorting through school papers, and feeding the animals—because even when (some of) our kids are gone all day, we feel compelled to care for God’s critters. We never seem to stop nurturing.

That said, like anyone, on any given day, when you take a screenshot of the lives of five people, there are all kinds of “Oh, God, please help me!”s going on—often several of us at once: traveling husbands, health concerns, a worry about our children, a pet in an accident, a difficult confrontation or situation we have to be in, a relational hurt, something gone awry in our job(s)—and the list goes on.

When this happens, and we find ourselves in a pile-up of wearying stress, we started posting this cute little icon to express ourselves. I think it was initially posted when one of us reported the stomach flu in her home. I really don’t remember, but you would think I would then have better context and understand it, but, no, I had to be different and see something else completely. It’s one of my fun little quirks.

Spilled Salad and Other Rough Days- Keeping It Real

Now, whenever I look at this, I do not see the apparent “vomit” image intended.

I see:

a spilled bowl of salad.

To understand why I make this association in my head, you’d probably have to appreciate how much I hate salad. It makes perfect sense I couldn’t discern the difference between that and throwing up.

Either way, it became a private joke in our group, and so whenever any of us has a really hard thing going on, we plop this icon onto the screen to let her know, sometimes without a lot of words: “I get it. I sympathize. That sounds awful. I’m so sorry. What a tough day! I don’t like that.”

It’s the middle age mom’s variation on a preschooler saying “That’s poopy!” except we’re more mature because we just use emoji.

What on earth is my point?

Well, today, I have a lot of them.

1. Dedicated time with God is an amazing thing. Talking to Him and giving Him our full attention is the most peaceful way to live. But life interrupts, and sometimes it’s the quick prayers throughout the day that keep the conversation going. My day often looks like this:

Wash dishes. “Oh, God, I just thought of ________. She’s really been waiting to hear an answer about ______. Can You please encourage her today? By the way, thanks for the awesome leaves turning colors on the trees and for healing _______.”

Fold laundry. “Lord, please comfort this particular child, _______. I sent him off today, and he seemed a little peace-depleted. Could You remind him You’re there and usher peace into his heart?”

Start writing blog. “God, I have no idea where we’re going with this. Should I go do something else for a while, or are You about to download something into my head and heart to write about?”

Take the dogs out. “God, You know what? Can I ask You again to be with my Warrior Princess _______? She is really going on no sleep amidst a lot of stress and needs extra measures of perseverance and strength today.”

More examples of this can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

2. Our days are sometimes yucky. It’s okay to admit that they are. I think a lot of times we are afraid to say they are because other people have it worse. That’s true. There are always worse scenarios out there, but it doesn’t make our situations less valid. I love my Warrior Princesses, other prayer peeps, and close friends because we don’t hide behind what we think others expect of us. We rock it real and raw, at times. Honestly, it doesn’t help me at all to see someone walk through a perfect or awesome day in great faith. What grows my faith and hope is when I see someone be honest about the trials and still manage to walk along—or even hobble or crawl some days—in faith and trust in God.

The extreme to this (and there is always an extreme) would be the martyr trip scenario, whereby we always have it awful, our pain continually trumps someone else’s, we are perpetually focused on ourselves, and we are consistently presenting the negative. That’s not what I’m talking about when I’m referring to honestly doing life together. I’m talking about not hiding behind masks of “my life is so perfect.” Those masks are so fragile anyway. When anyone bumps into us the slightest bit, I find those masks to fall and shatter. They really don’t cover anything up but our own pride and self-protection.

3. On the yucky days, we can often “spill our salad.” We can’t keep it all contained. We need a good friend or two to reach out to who can help be our gauge and also get us back on track again. But the best part is that those people aren’t afraid to see a tomato or radish roll out of our bowl. They’ve seen us without our dressing, and they know it’s not forever. They’re not afraid to walk up and pick up the leaves that fell out and put them back in. They’re not trying to add toppings—more slivered almonds, bleu cheese crumbles, or dried cranberries—in that moment. They know their timing. On days of celebration, they can do that. But today: They’re merely trying to help us keep the lettuce in. There are people in our lives who often want to reach in and throw the lettuce everywhere else. I need trusted loved ones to help me contain my lettuce some days. To collect pieces of my spillage and help put them back.

I love the women in my life who do this. Some are my online prayer group. Some are good listeners in person/phone who have my back. It’s a gift, a treasure. And it’s a tiny peek at the Father’s immense love for us.

4. God can handle “spilled salad.” He isn’t afraid to look at us on those days, nor does He turn His face away. He wants to hear about it. He gave us the example of King David in the Bible, who regularly cried out on Spilled Salad Days (and there were many since he was a wanted, hunted man at times, with a royal army chasing him).

Where can we cry out for help today? It can be: “Oh, Jesus, please help! I can’t get this done on time!” “God, help me get this relationship back on track!” “Lord, please hear me. I hate how my child struggles! Please send help!”

Or, we can wax poetic—and a bit long at times—like King David.

I end with a beautiful example of King David crying out in his anguish. He knew where to take his Spilled Salad Days. He didn’t mess around. Love me some David poetry. My heart groans right along with this some days. And after it, I include an anonymous psalm in keeping with the same theme.

Psalm 57:1-4, For the director of music. Of David. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

Psalm 130:1-8, A song of ascents, anonymous

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

*This post has been shared at Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Blessing CountersChristian Mommy Blogger, Grace & Truthand Faith-Filled Fridays.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Just Can’t Stop Pretzel Breathing

IMG_6409

So, I learned a new technique a few months ago from my son’s therapist. It’s about breathing in while folding my arms around each other and pulling them in against my chest. Something about the breathing in, folding, and exhaling interrupts the body’s stress processes and calms us down. In other words, it takes the “wig” out of “wigging out.”

Well, I thought I’d just be reminding my son of this lovely new tool, but instead, I find myself pretzel breathing in rush hour traffic on the way to karate; while watching my kids painstakingly slowly pack their backpacks up and tie shoes as I hear the bus rolling up; when we are fighting homework battles with one who isn’t big on receiving feedback; when arguments break out between siblings right when I need to get out the door; when the dogs eat the important mail; and when the person in front of me in line is simultaneously on the phone while trying to order bagels and coffee for 30 people who aren’t currently with her.

Yeah, I really just can’t stop pretzel breathing. I’m not sure if it’s counterproductive or not to replace OCD/anxiety symptoms with obsessively using techniques to interrupt them, but I pretzel breathe to the umpteenth power. Cannot get enough of it. It’s a new compulsion, and I’m not even the patient.

I even went so far as to demonstrate my awesome new skill at my moms’ prayer group at the start of our prayer year, and since then, one prayer warrior mom has reported she’s in love with it too. Really, all of the pills* in the world to fix this, that, and the other thing, and all we have to do is twist and breathe? Sign me up!

It works so well that I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I’m pretty sure my gravestone will read: “Faithful wife, mother, friend. Pretzel-breathing advocate to the very end.”

So, I asked myself, is anything close to pretzel breathing in the Bible?

I have no idea.

I think taking Sabbath is along the same lines. [For more on this, kindly refer to: “And on the Seventh Day He Rested….” The kid in the picture is pretty cute!]

What I do know is that prayer, Bible reading, and worship are like that. When we participate, they beautifully interrupt our trudge through the sludge of life and ground us. Praying empties me of my burdens. Yes, sometimes I need to pray the same thing over and over again until I am ready to fully let it go to God and trust Him, but the discipline of running to Him first is what frees me.

When I read the Bible, it always speaks directly into something I am going through. That’s because it is not just a history book. It is the living Word of God. It comes alive in us because it is always relevant and because He sends the Holy Spirit to those Who trust in Him, to help us gain understanding. God’s words are meant to be read back and prayed to Him. That’s what engages them in our lives: believing them, speaking them, talking to our Creator. It’s not something we chant to get our minds or hearts in a better place (although that is a definite result). It’s living dialogue with God, Our Father. Unlike pretzel breathing, it does more than calm the body. It calms the soul. It says: “At rest, my soul. You’ve spoken with and trusted in God.”

And worship is praising Him, singing to Him, acknowledging Him, dancing to Him, honoring Him. We worship even when we tell others about something great He has taught us or has done in our lives. It’s acknowledging His awesomeness, and no matter how rough your day, wouldn’t that turn your perspective around a bit? If we were each focused on His awesomeness?

Pretzel breathing is a fantastic stress tool, that’s for sure, but its effects are simply in the moment. I have to keep performing that task when different scenarios come up that stress me out.

Prayer, Bible reading, and worship are also beneficial, if done repeatedly, but the difference is: They last. They build into our peace like a storage chest of truth, rest, hope, and promise. Practicing them, as well as practicing thankfulness,** eventually leads us to and sustains us at a state of joy, no matter our circumstances.

There’s no harm in wrapping my arms inward and exhaling now and again. I honestly don’t think I even know how to stop, at this point. But, by far, the best way to interrupt the day’s stress is to spend time with God. Eventually, we get to the point where His Word is in our heads and hearts, and He speaks it to us right when we need it.

Psalm 119:10-18, unnamed author

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law [emphasis mine].

*This does not mean I am in any way anti-medication. Our personal journey to making medication decisions can be found in Not Just on Sundays.

 **This is a great book for practicing thankfulness:

Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: