Wednesday, December 21, 2016

She's Single...Bless Her Heart

This past week at church, my Pastor gave a great message which included an example that made me chuckle. He explained that where he grew up in the south, you could turn any insult into something that sounded less like an insult by adding the phrase, “Bless his/her heart.” For example: “Man, she’s put on a lot of weight since high school…bless her heart.” Or, “He is dumb as a doorknob…bless his heart.”

You get the idea.

On the way home from meeting up with some friends, I started thinking about the fact that at my age it seems like an awful lot of people could describe me as, “She’s single…bless her heart.” Like being a woman at this stage of life and single is an insult. The reason I can say that with some certainty is that I remember my 25-year old self thinking the same thing about the older, single women in my life. And I can’t lie…sometimes it feels like an insult having to say out loud that I’m “still single.” Definitely painful during this time of the year. Or national holidays. Or that dreaded bouquet toss at weddings. Especially if they play “All the Single Ladies.” I mean you might as well “bless my heart” right then and there.

I can easily start down that slippery slope of “How did this happen?” The problem with coming to that question is there really is nowhere to turn for the answer but to blame myself. Something I did or didn’t do or somewhere I did or didn’t go.

But the upside of being this age and single is I’ve also been privy to seeing a lot of my friends and family manage the “being single,” “being married,” and sometimes “being divorced.”  None of these seasons are easy, and they can all feel like an insult at times. In fact, during all these seasons I’ve heard people say, “How did I get here?”

So where does that leave my blessed heart? Well, it leaves me today with embracing where I am and remaining hopeful for what’s to come. You see, I am certain that I will be married someday. God has put that desire in my heart, and I am made for it. I remind myself of the day that I heard Him say “I’m preserving you for someone.” And I know I hear His voice. (Because…hello, who else would use those words?!) I have to sometimes remind myself more of that on days like today where I wish I had a partner I could call and talk to about the breakthrough in physical therapy. Or about how afraid I am about my Dad’s upcoming heart procedure. Or about the cricket I hear chirping and am praying is not in my room. (I hate crickets…they’re like beige roaches that you can hear.)

But I digress. Being single is not an insult. It’s a season of preparation for what’s to come. I’d like to believe I’m like a really fine wine that is aging for just the right palate. Or a steak marinating for just the right barbecue. God’s working through me and in me for just the right man that will come at just the right time. If you’re reading this, and single, and feeling insulted by it…I pray you will take heart. In fact, take your blessed heart and get to praying for your future mate.

Today’s Forecast:  I’m still single.

Silver Lining: Bless my heart.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Doorway Effect

Have you ever had a great idea, or remembered something you needed to do, and walked to the next room to divulge the great idea or execute the task, and completely forgot what it was?

Yeah, me too.

All. The. Time.

Why did I come here? How did I get here? What was I supposed to do when I got here?

Some will blame it on age. Others will say they have too much on their minds. But this experience of arriving somewhere only to forget why it is you went there is common. I’m happy to report that scientists say there is actually a psychological explanation behind it called the “doorway effect.”

The “doorway effect,” also known as the “location-updating effect,” is the idea that our brains actually forget things when we pass the physical threshold of a door (also known as an “event boundary.”) Researchers found it didn’t matter how hard subjects tried or how much they paid attention, as soon as they passed through a doorway, they were more likely to forget the task they were given. Moving from one environment to a new one causes the brain a lot of activity, so it purges “old information” obtained in the original place. In one article, scientists Gabriel Radvansky explained, “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.” It’s your brain’s way of getting ready to take in the new environment so that you can better understand what’s going on around you.

This is great…unless you really needed to remember that thing you walked into the other room to get!

I’ve walked through an awful lot of doorways this year. I moved for the 4th time in five years. I started three jobs. I quit three jobs. Some were planned. Some were mistakes. Some were unexpected. And this was all with 2 months left in 2016. Believe me when I say that there were many times this year I’ve asked myself, “Why am I here?” and “How did I get here?”

There have definitely been some doorways I’ve walked through that I was more than happy that my brain forgot what had happened in the old environment. Holding onto the information from the “old environment” certainly would not have served me well in the new place

The good news about all of this is that we can actually train our brains to remember what we need to remember. Scientists say that we can counteract the “doorway effect” and breakthrough an “event boundary” by repeating the action we need to take, or announce what we are about to do, when we are walking through the doorway.

My prayer is, and will continue to be, that I walk through doors only God opens for me. In addition, as I continue to learn my purpose and His will for my life, I want to remind myself as I navigate from place to place so I don’t forget what He’s already told me He wants me to do. I have found myself in new environments and have completely forgotten (or maybe disregarded) what God has already shown or told me. This has resulted in me learning the hard way that I’m in the wrong place. I know too well how quickly I can move from room to room, caught up in the tasks of life and distracted by busy-ness. When I do this, I tend to lose memory of what I was being told to do at the onset of my journey. If I know what God has purposed me for, and I continue to repeat the actions I need to take, I believe I will be better able to remember what it is God is calling me to do.

Today’s Forecast:             Sometimes I forget things.

Silver Lining:                   Sometimes I’m supposed to forget things.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

What I Learned From Jack Bauer

I have a confession to make.

I have been binge watching 24.

A good friend was obsessed with this show. On my 31st birthday, she tried to talk me into staying home and watching her CD set of season 1 (there were no smart TVs)  instead of going to the all-girl Vegas trip I had planned. I thought she was crazy to think I’d watch that over the Thunder from Down Under (Yes, we went…it was so awful. And please note, this occurred a few years before I rededicated my life to Christ.)

But now I get it. As soon as I hear that heartbeat like noise come over the TV that materializes into an asystole type EKG sound (aka flatline,) I know Jack Bauer is about to whoop some butt. Jack Bauer is a trained assassin/super hero and the show is a non-stop hit of adrenaline. As I’ve now found myself binging into season 3, after having watched Jack’s heart being stopped during a torture scene, I asked myself:

  1. Will Jack Bauer ever find true love again? I’m a total chick and I think he needs a good hug.

  2. What am I doing binge watching this show? Well, halfway watch as I find myself closing my eyes through most of it.
I’m about to be really honest. In some ways I feel like my heart has accidentally stopped after a torture session as well. Like Jack, I feel like I’ve walked through my own battle field. Disassembled my own bomb. Maybe even helped save a soldier or two. And just like him, I wasn’t sure who I could trust or what was coming around the next corner. My life has changed almost as many times in the last year as his life does in 24 hours. And if you don’t watch the show…that’s a lot.

But the truth is, I don’t want to be like Jack Bauer. Sure he’s brave and he kicks some major butt…but he is so tormented. Tormented by his past. What he’s seen. Who he’s lost. The decisions he’s made. How this has all affected his daughter. And that’s the very place I do NOT want to find myself: tormented. Who cares if you kick some major enemy butt if you come out the other side all sad and tormented about it? I don’t think the point of winning a battle is to come out the other side with your heart in asystole.

Asystole is a state of no cardiac electrical activity, with no contractions of the myocardium and no cardiac output or blood flow. A lot of times you see it on TV followed by the paddles coming out to shock the heart back into rhythm. But from what I’ve read, that’s not how you really bring someone out of asystole. The treatment for asystole is usually CPR being administered with a shot of adrenaline.

Maybe I’m drawn to this show because it literally keeps me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. The thing is, I know this dude lives (for at least another 5 seasons) so my expectation is that no matter what, he’s going to be okay. But just coming out the other side of something breathing is not enough. If we find ourselves in victory over the battle, but still fighting a war in our hearts…well, I think the result can be asystole…in our hopes, dreams, faith…everything.

And that’s where I find myself today. In a place of real need, but still with an expectation that everything is going to be alright. And I know as I work on some heart issues, God will meet me there and breathe life back into these dry bones. There is this electrical pulse that is just waiting to be revived. I need the adrenaline to be shot back into my veins. For a sweet and filling breath to pump through my lungs and cause life again in my hopes and dreams. And Lord, I don’t want it to come from anyone but You!

So if you find yourself in that place, my friend, hold tight. Help is on the way and it doesn’t have to take 24 hours to get to you or me. There is tangible help just waiting in His word and just one touch from Him brings healing to the heart. We just need to take a minute to stop fighting the world, and perhaps, take some time to forgive ourselves and those around us for what the battle brought out in all of us. Maybe just like Jack Bauer, we all just need a really good hug.

Today’s ForecastHeart rhythm seems to be a little flat.

Silver LiningGod is so much better than CPR.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Achilles Heel

I kind of knew during my move this year that I had done it again. Or should I say, overdone it again. As each load was taken to the new house, I could feel my heel getting weaker and weaker. No one ever has time to be hurt. But I really, really didn’t have time for this again. I was unemployed, but thankfully insured. Since I was starting a new job in a few weeks, I figured I’d go in and have it examined, and maybe get some really good shoe inserts. However, the doctor had me in a cast faster than I could run…err…hobble out of there. He was certain it was a tear, and confirmed that they didn’t treat it properly the first time I tore it. So I would be starting my new job with crutches and a reminder of the pain I endured last year.

Any time someone asks me what I did to my foot, their response to “it’s my Achilles heel” is pretty much the same. I get a grimace or a shaking of the head and a confirmation of how long it takes to heal. It’s both comforting and painful all at the same time. They feel my pain, but also remind me of it.

The Achilles tendon is the thickest in the body. It’s responsible for a lot of things like pointing your toe. Let’s just say it takes a beating, and when it’s torn, it hurts in every movement you make with your foot. The other parts of the foot and ankle start to overcompensate for the fact that the Achilles is not functioning right. It eventually effects your knees, your hips, and your walking movement. If it goes too long torn, or experiences too much stress on it, it will rupture (completely tear.) It’s a strong part of our body, but even the strongest part of the body can only take so much.

You’ve probably heard someone say, “It’s my Achilles Heel” when speaking of something that is their weakness or downfall. It comes from the Greek myth of Achilles, a great warrior who survived many battles. According to the myth, it was prophesied over him that he would die young so his mother took him to a magical river that was supposed to offer the power of invulnerability. She dunked his body in the river, but missed the area of the body she held onto when dunking him: the ankle. Because of this, it was believed it was the only weak area on his body. During a battle, he died from a poisonous arrow that hit him in that very spot.

Interestingly enough, at the same time that this physical hurt reared its ugly head again, I started to realize there were some other old hurts that were giving me problems. And just like the injury I had experienced in my tendon, the hurts I experienced in my life had not healed properly. When the poisonous arrows came flying at me, I unfortunately let some of them land.

And that’s where I find myself today. Still in the middle of the battle. Still limping a bit. Still wondering when this will pass and whether I’ll ever walk the same way again. Still wanting to know the best course of rehabilitation. However, in the midst of not knowing much, I know one thing for sure: when my body was submerged in the water, it was submerged completely. And although I’m experiencing some vulnerability and exposed areas in my life, I believe as I learn to surrender those things to Jesus, His strength will become apparent. Thank you Jesus, that I don’t have to fight this battle alone. Thank you Jesus that when I am weak, You are strong. Thank you Jesus that you are my healer and that your Word will continue to wash over me and give me life.

Today's Forecast:  June gloom with a chance of raining arrows.

Silver Lining: Another chance to experience God's strength through my weakness.




Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mother's Me

It’s not what you think.

It’s the eve of another Mother’s Day and I’m trying to figure out a way to celebrate the woman who has made the biggest difference in my life.

She loves me.

She teaches me.

She dreams with me.

She sees the best in me even when I’m not able to see it.

She is my biggest fan and encourager.

She prays for me.

And I thank God for her. I’ll take her to dinner and give her a card that, I hope, expresses how much I love and appreciate her.

But as I’ve gotten older, Mother’s Day has meant something else to me. I’m single and have no children of my own. And I’m over 40. You see where this is going…

I love and adore the women in my life who have become mothers. I’ve went with them to buy the test and have celebrated alongside them when the stick said yes. I’ve thrown baby showers (really cute ones, if I do say so myself). I’ve been one of the first aunties to welcome their little humans into the world at the hospital (it’s a miracle, for sure…but WHOA!). I’ve encouraged them to keep being the awesome mom’s that they are when they’ve only had 2 hours sleep and their nipples are bleeding (It’s probably TMI, but the struggle is real y’all). However, in the past few years, my heart has sunk just a little when I can’t stand during ‘that’ part of the Mother’s day service at church.

So why is it a happy Mother’s day to me this year?

No, I’m not pregnant. But I am expecting.

I’m expecting that God is going to continue to work this thing called motherhood out through me.

I can love.

I can dream.

I can see the best in others when they don’t see it in themselves.

I can be the biggest fan and the loudest encourager.

And I can definitely pray.

I’m expecting that I’m going to begin to see that, although I have not bore a child of my own, I can still be a mother.

So happy Mother’s day to every one of you wonderful and fabulous women who are teaching me how it’s done.

Happy Mother’s day to the one I call Mom (or Ma, most the time).

And, happy Mother’s day to me.

Today's Forecast: Not a mom.

Silver Lining: Can still be a mom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Good Report


The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the body healthy.

Proverbs 15:30 (NKJV)

Ever feel like the sparkle in your eye has been snuffed out? Like no matter what the angle you tilt your head, or the lighting you put yourself in, or the amount of coffee that you drink, or sleep that you get…you look in the mirror and you can see that your eyes have been through it?

Yeah, me too. For about a week in March, it was hard to believe the sparkle was there.

In the midst of ending my job, packing my parents, moving them and searching for a job…my dad had a medical mishap. He went in for what was supposed to be a routine procedure. Unfortunately, the nurse made a ‘mistake’ and the last month has been a nightmare for my parents. When they should have only been looking forward to moving into their new home, they had to worry that my Dad’s health was in jeopardy. After more doctors’ visits than anyone should have to go through in a year, let alone a month, the “c” word was used. Within a week from moving into their new home, my Dad was undergoing body scans.

I am happy to say, we have a good report. His kidney is just fine! Praise the Lord! It was the news that we all needed, especially my Dad. I could tell when he walked in the door after the appointment, with donuts from his favorite place in hand, that the good report had made his bones healthy.

But I have an even better report. I realize the sparkle never left my eye. It may have “felt” snuffed out. But praise the Lord that my feelings don’t dictate my faith. Thank the Lord I have friends who have come alongside me and reminded me that our God is a faithful and loving God and that no matter what the report is, God is still God. In the midst of chaos and a lot of not knowing, He knows my every thought and need. He sees me. He comforts me. He will bring me through it all, just as He has at other times in my life.

And that is really the lesson I’ve learned from this. What am I going to do in those times of life that the sparkle feels like it’s been snuffed? When the job doesn’t come in time? When the boy breaks my heart? When the friend disappoints? When the test result isn’t what we prayed for? Because I realize as long as I’m alive and on this Earth, those times are sure to come.

What am I going to do? I’m going to get in the presence of God. I’m going to tell him how I’m feeling and lay it down at His feet. I’m going to get with those people in life who feed my faith. People who are pursuing their God dreams. People who follow through with what they say they will do. People who are fighting the good fight, getting knocked down and then getting right back up for the next round because they know that they know that God has their back. I’ll pray with them. I’ll dream with them. I want them in my corner because they are the people who remind me of that sparkle in my eye, because it reflects from the one in theirs.

Today’s Forecast: A good report.

Silver Lining: Realizing a bad report can’t steal my sparkle.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Move It In For Victory

There’s a cheer we used to do in high school:

M – O – V – E

Move it in for victory!

It wasn’t my favorite cheer. There was always some teenage boy making some vulgar move in the stands as we chanted it. It was obviously used while we were on the offense, and very close to a touchdown.

I thought about the cheer as I finished unloading the last boxes from my most recent move. I have to say the most recent, because I’ve moved 4 times in the last 3 years. Needless to say, as I sit amongst a kajillion boxes that still need to be unpacked, I don’t quite feel like I’ve ‘moved it in for victory.’

This is not a move I would have chosen for myself. The last 3 months preparing for this move have been challenging. I’m not moving to a house I’ve purchased, or an apartment I get to decorate. In fact, I’m having to part with a lot of my “things” because of the lack of space. I'm not moving because of a new exciting job or opportunity. I’m moving my parents who are older and pretty worn out. Dealing with health concerns while trying to help them coordinate and pack has been exhausting. And now I’m living in a place that feels like it’s far from most everything I considered home for so long.

However, in those quiet times of the night, while I lay in a bed that’s been in storage for a year surrounded by newly painted walls and unfamiliar sounds (or lack thereof…it’s quiet out here in the suburbs!) I am reminded of His care for me. He prepared me for this part of the game by letting me know it was coming and letting me know when it would be happening. It’s like He stood on the sidelines of my life for the last year, and called out the plays. All I had to do was listen, execute and trust the ‘Coach,’ while not leaning on my own understanding of the game. And what makes this different from being 4th and goal during a football game is that if God’s calling the plays, I know I’ve already won.

Thankfully, God’s given us the ultimate playbook. He’s shown us through the lives of people like Abraham what happens when we are obedient to His instruction to move. Abraham was told to leave everything he knew: his country, his people, his father’s household and was promised that he would be blessed in doing so. And boy was he (and the world!) because of his obedience!

So if you find yourself in a season of life that feels like yards away from the win you’ve been waiting for, I encourage you to move if and when He says to. He’s the best coach, quarterback and tight end you’ll ever play with. If you are in alignment with His will for your life, you will be guaranteed the victory.

Today’s Forecast: Another move completed.

Silver Lining: One move closer to where I’m supposed to be.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Everything Is Changing.

I sat in the front pew waiting for the crowd to disperse and for the specific prayer warrior to be available. I know God hears everyone the same, but I needed Mama Sheryl to pray for me that day. I needed to hear someone say exactly what I couldn’t say out loud. And boy did she…

Everything is changing. I’ve quit my job because God told me to. I’m moving with my parents because I don’t have a job. My parents are going through health challenges that are both physically and emotionally scary. I have questioned almost every one of my relationships in the last 6 months, and I no longer recognize who my community is.

Like I said, EVERYTHING is changing.

Nobody could have prepared me for the last year and the chaos that would unravel in front of my eyes. Nobody, that is, but the Voice that gently whispered…get ready. Get ready to feel your entire foundation shaken, only to remember Who your real foundation is. Get ready to trust Me in ways you have never trusted Me before. Get ready to hear My voice in ways you have never heard before. I have prepared you and I have preserved you. Get ready.

Oh how I wish I knew the end of this testimony. How I wish this was the blog post where I tell you that He has showed me everything He has prepared me for…but the truth is, He hasn’t.


So I tell myself the same thing I tell anyone who comes to me for counsel; “What’s the last thing He told you to do? You hear His voice. No matter how it looks, or who says what, you hear His voice. What’s the last thing He told you? Keep doing that!”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the sermons I’ve heard and Bible I’ve read…God rarely spells it out for us. And even when He did, those closest to Him in the moment still sometimes questioned what He was telling them point blank. So I figure the more my life looks like a Bible story…the better. And if there’s one thing that I’ve witnessed in the last year, our God is a faithful God. He sees your pain in the chaos and change and He will bring a calm to the storm if you remember to focus on Him.

So if you find yourself in a place where everything is changing, I encourage you to lean in and listen. He speaks to us and His sheep know His voice. What’s the last thing He told you to do? Keep doing that!

Today's Forecast: Change. Lot's of it.

Silver Lining: The change is not a surprise to Him. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My-my-my-my my (Non) Poker Face


I’m not sure when and where I lost my poker face.

It would be hard to believe I never had one considering I grew up in a family who loves them some gambling. As long as I can remember, holiday gatherings always ended around a poker game. You could hear the grownups laughing amongst the scratching of the plastic poker chips, and an occasional rise in the volume of the game if someone tried to bluff.

If you aren’t familiar with bluffing or a poker face…here’s the easy definition: it’s lying or pretending you have something you don’t. It is knowing you have a crap hand but not letting it show on your face.  In fact, some professional poker players cover their eyes with sunglasses so that the other players can’t ‘read’ them. Other players get really dramatic and act like they have a great hand. The strategy is used as a scare tactic to get you to go out of the game early by making you think they have a better hand than you.

But somewhere around the age of 36, as I became closer to 40 than 30, my poker face disappeared. Not only am I bad at bluffing, I’m really bad at keeping my face from letting you know exactly what I’m thinking as certain words are coming out of your mouth. I finally understood why grownups would look at me as a kid with that ‘you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me’ look as I tried to lie myself out of a situation I didn’t want to be in.

But that’s where I have found myself recently. In the poker game of life, some key players have let me down by pretending they had something in their hands that they didn’t. Comments that “slipped out” in front of me without laying down the entire hand, which only caused more questions and uncertainties in a game I no longer wanted to participate in. And straight out bluffs that have shaken me to my core. Although I know not to expect integrity at a poker table, I’ve been grieved by the fact that I may not be able to expect it from leaders, family and friends. And sometimes, I question if I can expect it from myself.

And that’s when enough is enough. I have worked too hard to begin to pretend again that bad behavior, including my own, is ok. I refuse to put on a poker face and pretend that I’m not being played. And although I don’t plan on yelling “You’re bluffing!” at the top of my lungs while throwing my poker chips at people like my Uncle Vito did back in the day; I do intend to stop hiding my hurt or turning it in on myself.

Today’s Forecast:   Potential of an occasional stank face.

Silver Lining:           Living a life mask free and integrity filled.


Friday, January 1, 2016

My First Reconciliation

I remember my first reconciliation.

I was in 2nd grade and we were learning all about the sacrament of penance. They taught us what would happen. You walk into a room and sit in front of the Priest. Gone were the days you could hide behind a screen. Father Birch would say something. Then I would say something. Then I would tell him what I needed forgiveness for. Then he would forgive me and tell me how many Our Fathers and Hail Marys I needed to say. And that was it - I was forgiven for hitting my brother. It was the same sin I said at every confession.

I won’t say it was as simple as that, because I was beyond frightened every time I did it. Maybe it was more shame than fear, as sitting in front of the leader of our congregation and telling him my sin was much more intense than telling my Mom or Dad. In my second grader eyes, I saw Father Birch as God’s stunt double. Although I was fairly certain he was always going to forgive me, I did feel better after the act of confessing was over. I did feel reconciled.

So here I find myself some 30+ years later on the 1st day of the year with the word “reconcile” heavy on my heart. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper it in my ear as I pondered what my word for 2016 would be. As soon as I heard it…I knew.

The dictionary defines reconcile (a verb) as:

  • to restore friendly relations between.

  • to cause to coexist in harmony;make or show to be compatible,and

  • to make (one account) consistent with another, especially by allowing for transactions begun but not completed.

Wow God…really? Way to give it to me straight in 2016.

But God knew.

God knew because He orchestrated that I would learn all about forgiveness in 2014. He knew 2015 was going to be tough. He knew there would be days I would wrestle with what He was allowing me to see. And when I asked Him snot-nosed and teary eyed, “Why God…Why am I the one who has to see this?! Why are you leaving me here to see this?!”

He knew that I would eventually rely on Him. He knew that when I prayed with an admittedly mustard seed amount of faith: “He sees it. He’s going to deal with it,”  He knew He was going to do a work in the situation, as well as, a work in me. He knew I needed some refining. And this refining would come from the very act of realizing I had a confession: I had “hit my brother.”

I got caught up in the crazy. When what I was hearing didn’t coincide with what I was seeing, I felt like the very foundation that I had set my relationships on was cracking. What I thought was...was not. I had tried to make sense of a situation that didn’t make sense. I blamed everyone. I complained to everyone. If I was on a steam engine of dysfunction, I was one of those shoveling coals into the fire. I got caught up.

But thankfully, this isn’t my first train ride. And even better than that, someone had put the tools in my hands to deal with the hurt. I didn’t have to be afraid to face my Father and tell Him what I had done. And much like that first reconciliation 30 years ago, I was once again able to walk away from a talk with my Father and a burden was lifted.

I recognize that there are still some areas that I need to reconcile. But I am thankful that God reveals to me what I need and when I need it. I’m expectant that as I focus on further understanding what reconciliation means, I will experience greater levels of freedom. Freedom that I can then share with others.

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. (2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT)