Saturday, August 13, 2016

What if we just jumped right into the middle of the hardest events?

Why do we wait?  Months? Years? Sometimes a decade to share the pain of our journey.  After all the learning?  After the trial and error?  What if we just jumped right into the middle of the hardest events of our lives and said, "Okay God it's just you and me, and those who read.  It's my story of complete opened handed trust.  And no matter how hard, God you are going to be honored."  End of Story, no really in the middle of my story.

Please understand that details are not always important to the hardest moments of your life.  It's how you are working it out. I am working out some very hard stuff.  The most hardest event in my life. (child custody)  Today, sitting before God with my Bible and journal in the middle of hard stuff. ......Today's journal entree.
Aug. 13, 2016

Dear Father,
In my physical hunger I submit to you. I ask that the evil-deceit and confusion thrown my way is thwarted.

Romans 12:12
" The night is almost gone and the day is near.  Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of the darkness and put on the armor of God."

Father, fill me with you light. Cover me with holiness. Give me Holy peace, wisdom, and justice. I submit, I surrender, and I stand firm on your promises. Give me strength, wisdom, and a light in my path. My feet are planted Father. All of this is for YOUR glory. For YOU are to be honored.  I give all of this to you. (Believe me readers, God knows my "this" and your "this"). Thank you that you love me. Forgive me Father for all the specifics in my life. Reveal to me more of who I am to be in You.

Ephesians 4: 31-32
"Let ALL bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you."

Really God? Yes, Really!! Help me to be kind to those who have harmed my heart deeply. Please cover my heart and protect me from bitterness, wrath, and anger.  As my dear friend Marie has said over and over, "do not get sucked into the emotions of spoken words of deceit over your character." ( Thank you Marie for those words of encouragement.)

Ephesians 6:13-20
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand firm.  
 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

I grew up in Sunday school learning that last passage. We even sang silly songs and decorated ourselves in costume.  Like a child, Lord Jesus. Give me the faith of that little girl who danced, sang and praised you for equipping me with a foil breastplate, and scarves for belts, and a helmet made out of milk cartons and a cardboard sword covered in foil.  You had me covered then and you have me covered now. Amen!!! 

Lord Jesus, Holy Father, in the name of YOUR Spirit protect the minds of my boys. Father you know their hearts, their names, and they are YOUR children.  Give ear to my words oh Lord. Consider my meditations.....Full Armor!!!"

In addition to my journal entry I will say this......

We ALL have various degrees of hard. My hard is not more or less than yours.  We must equip ourselves with the WORD of God.  Today, fasting and praying and hungry.  And thinking what good can starving myself do.  Only to sit in quiet and ask God to show me who I am suppose to be in this trial and turbulence.  And then scripture pours into me. Pours instructions, and blessings, and I sit here praying that my words, my personal journal entry will reach into the heart of one person struggling as I am. Humble yourself before God.  He is there waiting.  

I think fasting also makes you incredibly weak.  So weak you are sitting home on a Saturday and realizing your energy is sucked, and then that beautiful moment when God steps in and says, "Okay Elizabeth here is my WORD. The direction you asked for."

Be blessed knowing that truly God is in the middle of it all. It may not make sense, it will hurt. Believe me when I say I keep thinking I have cried out all my tears, but there are always more. Cling to your Maker and give him honor and glory. I am in the middle of the hardest events of my life. I may not shower for days, or even put on make-up.  Again, Marie asking me, "Did you shower today?"  I walked with this dear friend in her hardest and darkest moments. Walk with me, these next few weeks and see how God shows up.

Love and Blessing, Elizabeth

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Never Apologize For Where You Were

Never, as in never ever apologize for where you were. Never apologize for how you feel.  Never apologize for what you felt in that moment, or in many moments while you were there. Never forget what you learned, laughed over, cried over and felt like you could die over. For that time it was all very good. At times a struggle and hard and you were there for that time because you were suppose to be.

Have you ever stood at the river's edge?  Looking across to the other side you see something you want to get a closer look at?  You hop in a canoe and start paddling. If you have ever tried to navigate a canoe in a river, you know it's is no easy task. I think back to my Young Life days at Malibu located in the Gervais Inlet in Canada.  Those could be some very rough canoe times. You have moments of arm muscle burning, and you work  hard. You also are smiling because really there is a bit of an adrenaline rush while working so hard to get to the other side. Then you get to a calm spot and you sit and take in all that beauty, fresh air, breathtaking, heart stopping feelings of that moment or season.

Start paddling again and you are there. Standing on the opposite side of where you once were. And now looking back to where you were. It all looks so different. Very different than what you thought. You turn your head a bit, squinting from the sun because what you thought was not really how you see it now.

Life is exactly like this. Standing on the other side of where you were. And because we do learn, and grow we do see things differently. Have you ever questioned yourself? Wondering about this decision or that one. Is this the right one? Or is that the right one?  When you get to the other side and look back, there is this deep sinking feeling of things should have been different. Maybe you feel a little embarrassed. Perhaps when the topic comes up you start apologizing.

Yes, many can say that they wished they had made a different decision or taken a different path.  But here you are. And today you are who you are for every good and bad decision you have ever made. And you are exactly who you are suppose to be.

Never, as in never ever apologize for where you were. Never apologize for how you feel.  Never apologize for what you felt in that moment, or in many moments while you were there. Never forget what you learned, laughed over, cried over and felt like you could die over. For that time it was all very good. At times a struggle and hard and you were there for that time because you were suppose to be.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Fine Art of NOT Reacting to your Teenagers.

The fine art of NOT reacting to your teenagers. Is there really an art to this?  I think I should thank every difficult customer I ever served in my early twenties with my retail store.  Thank them for teaching me through mouthy rages of insistence how to respond.  The customer was not always right. Neither are our teenagers.

The customer could bring in an item that was not purchased in my store and scream in face that they wanted a refund/money for that item. Or a customer would get all red in the face and angry because the item that was available last week was no longer available, and I was demanded to get it to them now. Or a  customer who wanted their furniture NOW as in right now, as in stop what you are doing and serve me now. With no understanding that their furniture was secured in a warehouse and that our trucks were out delivering to scheduled appointments. Yet even with that knowledge would get so worked up that I would not physically close my store, run to the warehouse and pull large pieces of furniture that required manly strength and deliver myself.  Customers who left messes in my store and walked out. Food, dirty diapers tucked in a corner, finished beverage containers.  My favorite was a customer who insisted we were having a half off sale on ALL our furniture.  Threw such a fit that she would never shop in our store again. And came back next week to again tell us how awful of a store we are but still wanted to buy the furniture and did. (Kind of like our teenagers who are nice when they want money or a ride somewhere.) 

Here is what I learned in my twenties that truly helped me with my teenagers. No matter what comes out of their mouth, do not react. I learned that most people have about 2-4 minutes of angry energy and steam.  If I was quiet and practiced active listening skills with concern for my customers it was almost always the 2 minute mark that they ran out of steam. If I tried to inject and react to what they were saying it was like locked and loaded and 2-4 more minutes added to the fuse.  The fact is simply this. Customer's truly believed they were right, even in obvious and factual wrongs. Teenagers are the same way. They will say and do things that are so factual wrong, but they believe they are right. Do not take offense to what comes out of their mouth. Do not react to what is coming out of their mouth.  Listen. Actively listen and try not to inject. Let them get out what they need to get out. I trained my entire sales staff to respond this way.

I made the mistake many times with customers in my earlier months of opening my store to try and point out that they were in fact either lying or their facts were not accurate. Like the women who insisted that our entire store was 50% off. She showed me an ad, which was from another store and then insisted I match their 50% off sale. I listened, let her blow all the steam and energy around what she thought should be her right. I asked if I could ad her to our mailing list, so when we did have sales she would get them.

Teenagers just want to be heard and understood. Really that is mostly what it is. In the same way I trained my sales staff to never take to heart what the customer was saying, in the same way never take to heart the hurtful words that come out of our teenagers mouths. Breath deeply as they are blowing off steam. Actively listen. This does not mean  you are agreeing or allowing the offenses. It means that they are able to outward process, unedited, and after it's all out you will be amazed at how ready they are to come to the table for a more controlled conversation.

I can not tell you how many angry customer's were diffused by just listening. Like the customer who bought a lamp for her 8 year old. Came into my store yelling and screaming at my sale person because her one year old touched the lamp and burned his fingers. Somehow that was my store's responsibility. She yelled and screamed. I stepped in and excused my young 18 year old sales person who sold her the lamp. I listened. I breathed and I allowed this customer to have a voice. When she was done, I asked her if she needed some water?  I told her that I had kids and burns are scary.  I asked her where the lamp was. She did not bring it back. She just thought we should educate parents on the dangers of lamps. She came back over and over and continued to buy products from my store. But believe me when I say she came in red faced and angry that day and left happy and heard.

Our teenagers get red faced at angry at us.  It's going to happen and that is when we get to make a choice. Join the screaming and fuming match or wait it out. Then ask if you can get them a drink of water. Let them know you are so glad they felt that they could come and talk about it with you.

Now on my 3rd teenager and I can say that I may not get it in the moment at all times, but I have the resources in my back pocket with the experience of years with customers and my first two teenagers. My first two have grown up and into good friends. Now on my way with my 3rd teenager and still two more after that. Whoa baby it's sure is a ride.  So remember, try not to make a face or interrupt the outward processing of our teenagers.  Actively listen without trying to inject your own opinions and ideas. And if this is hard, then take some very slow deep breaths while they are unloading. Not always but easy, but we all have it in us to give it the ol' colllege try.  Happy teenager raising.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I Use To Hate Love Songs

I hate love songs. Not really I love them. I hate them and I love them. I started out loving one love song, but then love never happened so then I did not love them anymore.

Something I will share with you. Love songs never moved me. As in N.E.V.E.R after the age of 14.  I always thought my girlfriends were PMS’ing when they would cry over a song. I mean really.  What I have since learned in the past year and half is that I never really fell into the kind of love that makes you cry over a song.  Unless two weeks and being a fourteen year old counts.  But certainly never in  a relationship fully loving someone. The kind of love that makes you cry over love songs.

I was driving home, over a year ago. A thirty minute drive out to the farmhouse I was living in at the time. My youngest son was in the car with me. This song came on. And tears, real tears, started to stream down my face, as the artist sang, “I give you Allllll of me......”  Emerson looked at me laughing. “Mama are you crying?”  And by that time I had turned into a fully engaged cry baby. Only a couple of months into dating and some silly love song, the first time in my life made me bawl like a baby.

Okay so I may had gained more than a few pounds in a small community the year. I may have been fighting an inner struggle of how to dress and feel good about myself with this extra weight. I may have even beaten myself up way to much. But then this man, this kind and loving man would wrap his arms around me, hold my hand and my guard was let down.  And then some love song comes on the radio. “Cause all of me loves all of you, all your curves and all your edges and all your perfect imperfections…”  Thank you John Legend for being the first artist to make me cry. I know most girls cry in their teens. I was crying at almost 50 and it was soooo noted by my ten year old.

I explained to my young son that when a man truly loves a woman, he loves all her curves and imperfections and this man, that I am dating demonstrating that. He was 101 acts of kindness and love to me. I use to hate love songs. I hated them because they were stupid to me. And I would watch my friends get all giddy, silly and stupid over songs of love and the boys they were crushing on. And I never had the desire to listen over and over like they did.  I did once a very very long time ago.

It all started in 8th grade when I kind of wondered if love was real or not. I was crushing on a boy named Stuart. He was tall, blond hair, tan. We slowed danced to “How Deep Is Your Love” at the 8th grade sock hop. He asked me to slow dance every single time but it was that song when he squeezed me in.  He was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and he smelled good. He held me tight and I was a girl that could use some holding tight.  Later that next week we would meet at the heaters during breaks at school. And then he kissed me. And then he wrote me a note. It was a beautiful handwritten note to me. He handed it to me at one of our meetings by the heaters.  He said that every time he hears the song, “Lady” by Little River Band he thinks of me and that he thinks he is in love with me. “Look around you. Look up here, take time to make time and make time to be there. And I love you best.” And my heart melted.

The next week he did not show up at the heaters. These were large heaters in an old school building and truly a great place to warm up inbetween classes. What does a girl know about love anyway? Except I believed him.  I thought about him day and night and drew hearts with my name and his name. I never told a soul. When my girlfriends asked I just told them he was a friend. I was keen to girls, whispering and gossip. I was going to protect this love.

I did not Stuart for almost three days. I thought he was sick. Then I saw him. He was standing by her locker, his arm around me. He saw me and looked away like he did not know me. The End of love and silly love songs. 

It’s kind of weird to think I have been married twice and love songs never hit me. The first marriage was a shotgun marriage. Neither of us were in love, neither of us dreamed of our future, and love, and holding hands and kissing to a favorite song. It was trying to love in a hard situation. The second love was an intellectual love. He is nice and kind, this must be love, but still no songs move me. Then that one day back in early winter of 2015 driving out to a farm house with my son and that song comes on.  A silly love song and I am bawling.  To have someone love you in an unconditional manner is love.   All those curves and perfect imperfections and he was falling in love with me.

Ladies you know what this post is really about?  I am sitting at home on a rainy day and that song came on. Almost a year and a half later and it still makes me cry. Why? Love is hard and I know I am sharing more on this matter in the past year.  And I talk to countless women on this matter. When a man loves you, it’s not about what you look like or think you look like. A real man in love with you will make you feel secure in that love. Not insecure and crazy. A real man will keep showing up even when things are hard, when you are high or low. Let that man love you. Let him love all your perfect imperfections. Because how we view ourselves in not how that man loving you views you. I bet if I asked 20 men to describe their wives or the women they are dating it would not be what you think. Now scroll up and listen to that song.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Personal Experiences Based On An Entire Life

I wrote a blog, "When You Let Your Heart Love, There Is Going To Be Pain" (you can read that here: HERE  ).  It was raw and from my heart. It was an accounting of my story of being 50 years old and experiencing a love different than my first two marriages and very profound to my heart. As a matter of fact, if you scroll back, you will see that I have posted a few events, experiences and matters of my heart concerning dating John.  Through my own personal experiences I write. I am not ashamed to make statements about not truly understanding love and relationships. I had to step away a few times because if we write a post like that, and we are dating someone, we put it out there. And that dating relationship could change, and then we put all that out there.  I had a few friends question me about that posting. After all I will not even put on Facebook that update of "In A Relationship".  If John and I decided to take a different path or journey without each other I would be sad, but I would also be a much better person in having experienced that friendship/relationship and first love with John.

Things get messy and hard.  We are taught to be strong and courageous. I am tired of being strong and courageous. Really it takes ALOT of work.  It is OKAY to be weak and confused.  We ALL, not one single person, has walked down the same path as the other. We work and respond to our personal experiences based on an entire life and direction that no one single person shares.  When we share our journey, we either help, inspire, encourage, teach, or offend. It's just how life is.

I pray for my friends. I pray for their relationships. I pray for their marriages. I can pour wisdom directly from God's WORD and not my own personal experiences.  I can be strong or I can be weak.  It's a journey we take. Some choose to share in platforms like this. I choose to share because in the journey of my life, I see God's hand, His direction, His favor, His blessings. In the hard and the easy. In the weak and the strong. The honor of a God who is the keeper of our hearts.   I can be vulnerable, and I can be nothing less than honest with the journey I am on. God is in all of this. And if you do not know him personally I can say this. There is freedom in the cross.  The cross that Jesus went to for you and for me. That is the freedom. To be me as I am.  Knowing that HIS love, grace and hope cover me. If you want to know Jesus, the God of my heart I want to share with you. If you read through this entire blog you will see every single day how God shows up and is covering my heart.
Be blessed~elizabeth

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Oh To Be A Mom...

What does it take to be a mom?  I use to stress myself before I ever had kids, of thinking what it must be like to be a mom. As a teenager I watched how mom's mothered.  And decided that I could never be a mom. I have a confession.  I made it through all the diapers, late night feedings, broken bones, and sidelines at the games, baking for the events, and homework and reading, and wearing the same t-shirt with spit up, and showing up to a meeting with a beautiful expensive jacket also with spit up. I have five of my closest friends around me for a life time. Two are out of the nest, three will be venturing out in the next 4-10 years and guess what, there is a secret to be being a mother. It may not be your secret, and it may not be what works for you, but God, in his beautiful direction took my crazy childhood of abuse and abandonment and taught me the greatest gift of all. To love my children unconditionally. To smile often, to let the little things go, and to just show up in their lives and love them right where they are at.

To establish from the minute they utter their first words that they matter. To listen to their babbles turn into words, which then turned into opinions and passions different than mine. To show them daily evidence that God is real was easy.  From the minute they could blow on a wish flower, to standing on a chair cutting apples and baking cookies. Talking about the glorious ways God has designed them.   I think parents who believe children should be seen and not heard are wrong. I think parents who believe that their children should respect them, and then in turn show their children no respect are wrong. You have to guide your children and teach them right from wrong. teaching them by your daily examples.  Teach them to respect other people's space and opinions. Teach them through example what kindness and serving others looks like. Let them see your process.  Let them see you struggle, and hurt and come out smiling.  If they never see the way cookies are made, they will take longer in appreciating what others have done for them.

This is a ramble.I realize there is no rhyme or reason to this blog post accept that I have five amazing kids. My boys, all four of them, are not on drugs to alter their God given personalities.  They are boys. They were designed with energy. They have a different learning style. They enjoy school, eat well around our dinner table and are void of all the freedom with technology. They play outside all the time. They are loving and enjoying life. Even as each one passes into being a teenager, the rules, with struggle are established. It's hard and I have cried a thousand times because no matter how much they push you away they show up for dinner, and bring their friends. Because deep down they remember you playing pat-a-cake, and they remember you snuggling them when they are sick, and they remember you giving up your seat they could see better. They remember you did not walk away when it was hard. They remember that you were there listening to strong opinions and ideas.

And they remember that I did not miss out some important grown up moments with them.   I thank God every single day that I could orchestrate my work life to be present as a stay home mom. My kids think this is true, but they also see me working, and traveling for work and they share in my work load when they are old enough to travel on a plane and be left in a hotel room while I run to a breakfast meeting. They have sat with presidents of companies I have worked with because they added value to my work. Value in that the friendships we have grown into and the ideas and opinions that were valuable at two or three or thirteen are move so as they have grown up around the stories of my work.

Oh to be a mom.  To let go of how of the bad ways you were parented and adopt all that is good produces kids who love life, love school. love being in our family and bringing other in.  When the last one leaves home I will have had kids living in my space for.....are you ready.....38 years....and then it will be time for grandkids. Thanks God that your biggest blessing and joy is mine, too. Our children.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

When You Let Your Heart Love There Is Going to be Pain

September of 2015 had been one of my hardest in figuring out love, expectations, and changes, and dating.  Over ten months of dating bliss.  He has loved me well. He has shown up, and taken care of my heart. Did I let him love me to much. Did I become dependent on that kind of love that when the winds shifted I was lost at sea? Did the winds really shift or are we now facing realities of dating, kids, family, work and now we choose what we are willing to fight for? Only thing is I had never fought. Polite marriage partners who avoid conflict. Slipping the crumbs of brokenness under the carpet equals two divorces. Ouch. ( I hate typing that.)

Life at that time had thrown in some very hard things.  Things for him and things for me. I have been independent with my hard in the past. Figuring it all out, and then moving on by myself. I am very good at that. Only in loving this man, I allowed myself to become vulnerable, weak, a cry baby, did I mention vulnerable.  Through my outward process in both my happiest, joyful and harder times he has loved me well. He will not let me do this on my own. But I insist. Why? It's all I know how to do.

As life unfolds in the day to day stuff we are learning about each other. As hard as things are, and as much as I want to jump ship I am going to wait. To be honest I have actually tried to jump ship when things get hard. Why? I do not trust my heart or his. I am not going to run, or presume that blissful dating is done. Even in taking a few steps back I am asking God to show me how to fade in and how to fade out.  Am I even suppose to that?  All these thoughts noted in my journals from that one September in 2015.

I told him on one of those "blissful" nights that he should just go home. I was weepy, and sad and I was scared. When you let your heart love there is going to be pain and as much as I want to protect him, myself and even my children there is pain. I am not angry or mad, just sad. Very sad.  Then God reminds me that he has showed me and that John has loved me well. Our maker of love is God.  God tells us to serve and give the best way to love. He serves me, and gives so much to me.  To remember those times, to write about them and then extend grace because we are two people with very deep pasts, and habits, and as we learn and grow, we get to decide if we put our arms around each other and link hands and work through the hard OR if this kind of hard to to hard to go forward. Is it to hard to fight for? 

I remember that time so well in our relationship. I remember thinking that if our relationship ended that night, I have seen what being loved well looks like.  I was so sad that we were both facing something hard stuff.  I admit that each time things have been hard, he has had to grab my hand and pull me in closer because in learning about love, we also learn how we fight for that love or not. I am not a fighter. I fought so hard in both marriages that failed, that fighting just isn't there. I am so lucky that he has not given up on love and fighting for the one he loves, me.

So tonight, as I sit alone and ponder I am even more in love with him. In my hardest moments with him. I love him more.  I am learning how to fight for love. It has been 9 months since that time back in September.  We have both come a very long way in dating. We have had to be there for each other on so many levels of every day life.

Two weeks ago we took a road trip together. Just wandering around Central Oregon.  I was thinking of what I would have missed if I did not open my heart to working out hard stuff. Looking at antiques together. Trying a new Mexican restaurant. Laying in the sun on a park bench in the middle of nowhere taking in the sunshine. Loading the back of his truck with our thrifty furniture finds. And I would not be sitting at this beautiful desk he bought me, because I may have begged a little. This afternoon I brought it inside to just sit and work. Plopped right in the middle of everything.

Last Fall was learning how to really work out life together. And we still do that only now I am able trust him, trust us, and trust the process of what God designed.

If you were married before there WILL always be a past that you have had, and that he has had.  That past is going to step into the middle of everything you both are. Take time to learn and understand. Ask questions and be open to what God would want to do differently this time around. Do not give up because divorce in any one's life is about giving up and dividing and going into separate rooms, and sweeping things into back rooms of your heart.

And even today after dating John for over 18 months I could end this relationship today and be in the best place possible.  I do not see this ending any time soon, but basically saying out loud how thankful I am for John, and for his heart to work at being in love.