could be anything. might be nothing. might make you think. could make you wish I would stop.
breathe people...everything is easier when you breathe!


elephant in the room

I left the church officially 6 years ago. My exit happened fast and first. My man was a little confused. A little hurt. I just could not stomach another "worship service". I could not face putting my children in another bible class where afterwards I would feel the need to debrief them to see if they had been taught any lies about my Lord and His love for them. I just quit.
My man kept going. He faced the looks. He became the spouse that is to be pitied because their significant other has tanked. He wondered why I could not just go and only pretend to listen. I couldn't. Not if he wanted a sane wife.
So it came to this...I could go and just shut down my heart. No discussions about the things that bothered me. No family debrief at the lunch table. Just get my butt in the seat.
I felt that if I did this I would soon be a powder keg one hallelujah away from standing up in the middle of church and exploding years of pent up angst all over those believers.
Maybe I should have done just that.
My husband decided that he would like to keep the spark in my eyes. I honestly do not know if I convinced him to quit going. I didn't try to. He had been raised to believe that you had to go to church. You had to. If you wanted to be a Christian you had to go to church. I was raised that way too. I had long ago faced down the thought that this thing we called church could not possibly be what was meant. My man was not convinced. But eventually he quit too.
We were done.
We actually thought we would go on to another church body. We waited for the Lord to direct us. Every Sunday that passed seemed stranger...and more comfortable.
People, I don't feel like I have words to make you understand. You probably wont.
Unless you just do.
Being out of church is the hardest and best thing I have ever experienced.
Sometimes I miss it terribly. It was all I have ever known. Security. This is what we do. We go to church.
I have already talked about how I didn't go to church for years. But that was slinking around sowing my wild oats don't let daddy find out skipping church.
Deep breath.
This was/is grown up choosing to be absent from the gathering of the body of believers.
This is forsaking the assembly people!

I feel free. Free-er to love and be loved. Free to be me. Unchained.
I like me better here. I used to bust against those chains. Trying either to break free or to gather enough sustenance to live within their constraints. Neither was possible.
I was not meant to live in chains.

When I first got out I felt bad. Dirty. Wrong.
But it felt delicious also. There was this warm delightful feeling that began to creep in. I have written much about it. It is a feeling of true love.
Not obligation. Not should have. Not if only.
It is that thing that I know on one level with my mate. I look into his eyes and in that moment nothing else matters. I am here with you. That is all. That is so not all.
I know that not all of you have that feeling with a mate. But you know it. You know when you get in a moment with someone and everything else just goes away. It is that.
These words fail miserably.
I could hardly ever get to that place while I was bound to "church". I had everybody and their ideas and interpretations so heavy on my heart that I could not look up. Life was too treacherous. Too many ways to screw it up. Too many ways to fail. Sure there was grace and all that but I could not understand. the scriptures as I had been taught them did not make sense.
Grace and mercy seemed only available when I had done everything I could do to live by the rules and had fallen short.
The trouble with that...I was really really super good at following the rules. I followed all the rules and they did not ease the desperation in my heart for something I could actually feel.
They did not make me love Him. They certainly did not convince me that He loved me.

All I could see was another and another and another way to suck so that He could swoop in and make it all better.

I am not saying that this is the same for you. This is how it was for me. Hear me!
When I got away from everybody else's truth, God's truth for me had room to grow in my heart.
I could see it and feel it. For the first time.
I could make use of it in my life. Applicable to living. Not just for going to heaven.

There had been moments of this before. But they always ended hours after the last conference session. I learned the difference between living under an "open heaven" and the rest of the time when I was obviously needing to "be filled". I learned over time to push really hard for "breakthrough". But really all I felt was constipated and I just went around birthing turds all day. I was a mess. Demons around every corner. Satan out to stop God's good and perfect will for me.
I became quite adept at emasculating the Creator of the Universe every time I went to battle for him.
But it felt so good in those juicy little moments of complete heavenly immersion. Glory.
Glory covered by rules. Recipes for success. Methods lined out to get to that next level.
More rules.

They are gone too. And that is hard. I lost the rules that protected me. and the power that empowered me. All I have left is vulnerability and weakness.
And that is where He finds me. That is where He loves me.
I don't have to be strong or good.

Maybe some people find that in church. Some people don't need to find that, I am sure.
I can't go on hating church. It is what it is. but it is not good for me. I think that I am not alone in this.
God can handle His church. He will call some to be loud for reform. Others He will lead out to do other things.
Heretical things that go against everything they have been taught about being good and right.
This is not new.

What I am learning right now...
-if I want to live in freedom, I need to let others live there too. I have to let them be free to live in bondage if they want to...or need to.
-my truth is not necessarily going to match your truth. This does not mean it is not truth.
Remember the story about the five blind men that had to describe an elephant based on the part each man could feel with his hands. Each man came up with a completely different description of that elephant. All were right. And all were wrong.
-God can be unchanging without interacting the same with everyone. It is stupidity (in my opinion) to think that the way God blesses me will work the same for you if you just walk the right walk or pray the right prayer or cast the right spell. (yes...I went there )
My husband would go to jail if he interacted with my children the same way that he interacts with me. But he is not changing who he is or being ingenuine to treat each of us differently.
I believe, with my whole heart, that God can guide guard and direct two of us in two completely opposite directions based on the exact same scripture or vision or leading. And they both be right.
-I believe that God has most definitely NOT left those shriveled up little churches that all the progressive Holy Spirit mighty wind-ers have declared dead. God is there. And He is working. And we need to shut up about things we know nothing about.
Me, most definitely, included.

You know this is not all. It can't be.
Please ask me more. Are you scared for me? Did I leave you hanging in that one part? This was hard to get out. So much. It is a big story.
I hope you are one that needs to know that you are not alone. You are not alone! You are not crazy and you are not going to be picked off by the enemy like a lone little sheep. Your Papa has got this! He has not left church or out.

love you


Leaving...a jet plane would have been easier

I just listened to a podcast. Just a couple of guys talking about life and community and walking with God. I liked it. They seemed genuine. Felt genuine to my heart. Two guys, hanging out and sharing that with me.
I liked that they did not tell me how to do anything. I liked that they were open enough to call a gift a gift without some self-deprecating mumbo jumbo. I liked that they seem to be fast on a road trip through that wonderful land of not knowing what is next. A pilgrimage they call it.
That is where I hang out. I feel lonely in this place I like the thought of having some buddies for the journey.

Before I is the link.

Commercial over. That wasn't so painful.

Now I want to talk a little bit. I know, surprises never cease. 
They said it was a conversation so I am conversing. 

If you have been following along you are not shocked to see that I, too, have been on a pilgrimage. Over time I have spit out bits and pieces of it in such a way that you may have wondered at the state of my salvation. 
Welcome to the club.
I wonder if today, seeded by these pilgrims, I could give you a short (stop laughing) road map of the where-i've-beens so that you might not be quite so scared for me and the fact that I have absolutely no idea about the where-i'm-goings.

I am a pk/missionary kid. Generations strong in the church of Christ. We don't drink, we don't chew, we don't go with boys that do. We also don't dance or have instruments in our church buildings. We take communion every Sunday. We know that Jesus wasn't really born on Christmas and will fight you for it. 
We also feel quite positive that you are going to hell if you haven't been baptized, although if you are on the brink of death and you have a disease where you cannot get wet or you have broken every bone in your body and cannot be immersed and you die before you get dunked...well, we will just leave that up to Jesus. 
He has a special circumstances file that is way beyond our understanding. 

You see what I have been up against.

I was that kid that never took to the status quo. When the preacher said that we (c of C) had the truth, I wondered if the denominations (of which we were definitely NOT) thought the same thing.
If they thought they had the truth...and we thought we had the truth...and we seemed by all outward appearances to serve the same Jesus...then who in the hell had the truth?! 

Never in your wildest dreams would I have said that out loud. 

My mom got sick one Sunday morning and then she felt good enough later to go to evening services. Obviously, she had not taken communion that morning. As was usual, they called everyone up front to have communion that night "if you had missed the opportunity of communing with the Lord that morning". 
She stayed in her seat. 
I thought sure she was going to go to hell. Lightning at the very least. 
Nothing. Not even a rumble from the heavens. 
She told me later that she had communed with the Lord that day. And it didn't involve grape juice and a little cracker. 
Troublemaker she was.

This began a long journey for me. A journey of "who said?", "what for", and especially "why the hell not?!"
Again, I am just flexing my grown up ability to cuss here. I never would have uttered such things. Back then my cuss words were Jiminy Cricket, oh my goodness, and cripes sakes. Jiminy Cricket got called down because it had the initials JC which we all know means Jesus Christ so that is cussing in that you are using "by-words" so that is not ok. 
But I still said it when nobody was around.

So, I grew up there. In that fantasy land of right and good. 

Then I went to college. Christian college. At that time I only knew about secular colleges (all the others) and christian colleges (York, Harding, Lubbock, Oklahoma Christian, Abeline, and Pepperdine). Those last two had kind of strayed in some of their liberal teaching but you could go there if you were good and grounded...just had to be careful. 
I did not even know that other churches had schools that belonged to them. I really thought that this was the extent of the christian colleges. You can laugh now. 
I went to York College. York Christian College. York Church of Christ College where other people from other churches went but we didn't talk about that. (hopefully we can be a good influence on them tho)
Chapel every day. Mandatory. 
Church every Sunday. Strongly encouraged but nobody taking roll. 
Guilt trip for missing "worship", understood.

It didn't take me long to figure out that if I got up at 11 on Sunday, I could shower and put on my dress and pantyhose and get to the lunch line just on time. 
"Hey, I didn't see you in church today?!" 
Obviously I was there cuz...pantyhose...helloooo. 
After a few months I stopped with the dress up sham and just came in sweats like the other losers that skipped church. That group got bigger and bigger every Sunday. 

Other than pesky church attendance I was the almost perfect christain college girl. I went to bible classes (mandatory) and other classes and most of the devo's where they sang the disco jesus songs. I was a good girl. I got involved in all the campus activities. (all the nice mentionable ones) I made runner up to Miss YC. Runner up because I didn't make the grades. (They told me this so I could change my ways. )
My friend didn't make the cut to be Mr. YC.
He had the grades and all the right things but he still didn't make it...rumor said it was because he was a Methodist. That didn't feel right but what are you gonna do? Protest? Did the rules say you had to be a member of the church? 
Church being understood as THE church of Christ. The one true. The only. The church. (Uncapitalized in proper humility.)

My questioning heart was peering intently down the road marked destruction. I was questioning everything. I was cohabitating  with people that were confusing me. Christians (church of Christ members) that were into every kind of mischief. Baptists and Methodists that seemed to have their heads on straight. Church had always been dry as toast for me but my family was perpetually in leadership so I figured I would get into it when I grew up.
Now, I was growing up and church was dryer that I had imagined possible. Hard to swallow. 

It was all I had ever known. I might question, butI never  entertained the thought of not being a part of it.
Besides, I only went once in a while. I could just ignore it. 

Until that Sunday when one of the basketball players came forward to be baptized but the preacher refused to do it because he hadn't had the proper "so you want to be a christian" bible study course. Refused, in front of the whole congregation, to let that guy have access to the body of Christ. 
Refused to open to him the gates of heaven because he didn't know enough about how to give his life to Jesus. 
And so it begins. 
I had been slowly strolling on the road to heresy. Now I was at a calorie burning jog.
How dare that preacher judge that boys heart and his commitment? 
I didn't understand. Still don't. 

My church attendance actually picked up when I started dating my man. (I don't think you ever go to church so much as when you feel guilty about the state of your purity. )
I could sit beside him and stare at the baptistry and never listen to a word the preacher said. 
That hot body next to me was way worth it. 
We prayed before and after every make out session. Just like all good christians should. 

Then we married, we set off for the big city and Oklahoma Christian University.
Early marriage was a hit and miss for church going. Big college churches hurt my heart. I was a grown-up now and knew I needed to be in the pew every time the doors opened. But I could not find my seat. Nobody knew my name. I was as lonely as the other 1000 people in that building. And I smiled just as big through it all.
Life at home was hard that first year. Struggles with the should's and the I don't have to's. Marrying my faith to my husbands faith was way harder than toilet paper orientation or toothpaste lid negotiations. We finally just gave up. Stopped going to church. Stopped feeling guilty about it. Got way happier in our lives together. Didn't go back until we decided that our kids needed to be in church. (Plus we were scared that Grampa was going to ask someone about the 10 commandments and our cover would be blown.)
We made it through church for the next 10 years. Tried on a couple of c of c styles. Got away from the big college churches and were really blessed with some small congregations that knew us and liked us and let us be a part. That was sweet. We had little kids that got to go to bible class. They did craft thingys. We dabbled in some more progressive congregations and we learned about the Holy Spirit. Conferences about hearing God and doing great things for Him. Kingdom manifestos. Army of the Lord. Blazing Faith. Instrumental music. Women on the church stage. 
I was allowed to ask questions. Everybody was asking questions.
This was life changing.
We got soaked in the move of God that we believed was the only real deal.
And then I saw a man dance in church. Right up in front. And I watched after church when another man came up and told him "you've been warned before, we don't do that here."

And my jog became a full on sprint. 

Someday I might tell you more about that dancing story. It is a lot to unpack. Honestly, it has been hard to sprint this road with that suitcase packed like it is. Soon that spring lock will burst, exploding pent up emotions all over the highway...and then I will run like the wind...but for now it just is what it is...a load of locked up crap. I will get the key soon enough. When my heart is ready.

We stayed at that church a while longer. I watched it curl in on itself. I believed at the time that God left. (I don't believe that anymore.)
Leaving was hard but we just couldn't stay in a place that "God had left".
If He was were we.
We visited a few places for a few months but that was too stressful. God led us. Not for the first time but now I was better at listening and following. I know He led us because we ended up at the very place I swore I would not go. ( I hate it when He does that. )
That was a lovely place. A big place.Full of lovely people. But we had a calling and it felt so good to be "allowed" to use our gifts.

 I am going to use the words -for a season- because that is what it was. For a season we thrived. For a season we grew and felt love and acceptance and useful. And then it seemed to just stop. I do not know the spiritual ramp up to this. Everything was fine. And then it just wasn't. 
No anger. No hard feelings. Just "time to go".
In my heart I feel sure that it was God's leading that got us to that point. After I heard/felt that call I saw things begin to manifest that were not good for us and our little family. Things that were not present before. (Or that I did not see before?)

Lots of things I wonder about. I wonder if we would have been spared some pain if we had left immediately. Then, I see how good God is to us to have spoken to our hearts so clearly BEFORE all hell broke loose. We knew His presence and when He opened the door we were packed and ready to go. When we left, we did so with whole hearts. I try to hold onto that.
After we left it got harder. We had been in leadership positions there. At one point we were small group leaders. We helped in the children's ministry. We had children in 4 different age group classes. We were deeply involved. But it was a large and growing church. When we left we were  not missed. And that hurt deeply. Still hurts. Nobody called. If they wondered where we had gone they were too busy to find out. It is the way with big churches. It is not right.

Our next and final stop was to return to the church we had left years before. That shocked us to the core but again, we felt directly led. If you have ever felt directly led then you understand me when I say that I went to a place I did not want to go, with such complete peace and security that I did not even question the rightness of the decision for one moment. I don't guess it always works that way but I love it when it does. 
I hate it when you seemingly have no leading and your wants and needs get all mixed up until you feel like you could explode. Also been there, done that. 
When I got back to this church it was like Norm walking into Cheers. Everybody knew my name. It was exactly what I needed. And it felt soooo good. I felt sure that this church had changed. That everything was going to be alright. That we were home to stay. 
I have never known pain like I felt at the hands of those beautiful people that I still love so much.
I feel certain that we were led back to this place to be support for a dear friend. This friend was mutilated and humiliated by the organizational structure of this church body. Those are strong, strong words but they are my truth. I feel sure that without someone there to stand beside, this person would have been convinced and convicted of being psychologically crazy and spiritually possessed.
I am thankful to God to have been able to be there at that time. 

I did not stay long in that place. I am glad to be gone. Of course the problem surrounding my friend was not the only issue at this body. It  was just one of many.
The thing that sent me out and locked the door on my return was the sure message being taught to my teen daughter. The message was this...

We have the truth. If your commitment is not here with us, you are being misled. We are your family. You should be here even if your parents say otherwise. You are old enough to choose for yourselves. If you are not are missing God. 


You know how the road runner just leaves a puff of smoke. Yeah. 

I want to end this here. But this is not the end. I have left the organizational structure that people have come to call the church. I would very much like to talk about how that feels and what it means. 
pray for me people.

I will post the next chapter tomorrow.

If you want to
Look to the left < just above the fishes and see the labels. Click on church and maybe angst to see more of my journey.

Here is the one that really says why I left...

This is a really hateful one...

Here is one on forgiveness that I might want to read again...

 Or this one because I love it...

Then again...all this is me. Go for it...I dare ya.



bumper to bumper

I feel quite undone today.
Full up with the goodness of my Papa God. My heart aches at His sweetness and His nearness.
I want to cry almost every minute I think about it.

And yet...
I stutter here a bit. Not knowing what exactly to write. I go back to the first sentences and breathe in the goodness that I know is there and try to dwell there a little bit longer.
Just a little longer please. His answer to me is always yes. I can dwell as long as I want.

What does goodness look like? It comes in so many forms. I struggle with it all the time.
I have been taught to be thankful. I have been taught so thoroughly that I can say "thank you" and "this really sucks" in the same breath.
And mean them both completely.

He is good. And ever present. Attending to my sorrow tho there are times where I feel that His attentions could be better spent elsewhere thankyouverymuch.
He doesn't play the part of "magical fixer" very well. I wish He did.

I do still believe in miracles. Tho not in the charismatic all caps way that I had embraced for a time.

No. Not that way.
But also not in a completely complacent tidal pool way either. I do not sit in the tepid water and wait for the next wave to wash me back home. (although there are times lately that I swear some kid with a sharp stick is poking me and shouting "WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING?!")

No. Not in that way either.

I believe in miracles in a beautiful lyrical way that sings as it weaves my heart longings into a tear filled Hallmark Holiday special. I believe in the majestic wonder of things too big to understand and too sweet to really embrace. I believe in everything working out perfectly.
I need to believe in that way. Cuz reality bites right now. And even there I am oddly happy that it isn't biting as bad as it could and Please Jesus don't test me on that.

When life is perfect I have no need to pray. Did you know that?
And when life is not so perfect?
Well, here I struggle a little.
Because I still have no need to pray. And that feels bad.
It feels very wrong. Pagan. Anti.....everything.

You can go back to other pages in this book and find that this is not new thinking on my part. Prayer was one of the first casualties in my battle with everything I had been raised to believe.

Let me break it down for you...
I no longer believe that you have to beg God for anything. You can if you want to. But you don't need to.
This belief came to me for the first time in the shower.
I was begging God to keep my family safe on our upcoming road trip. I was asking Him to go with us. To guide, guard, and protect us. To send His mighty angels ahead of us to create a hedge of protection along our roadway. I asked for good weather and non-sleepy eye lids. I enlisted a spiritual bumper-to-bumper full coverage policy on our van. I asked for clean restrooms and no vomiting.
I covered every area I could think of. And I still felt scared.
Then He spoke to me.
I heard no audible voice in the shower spray. What I heard was a picture. A video in my worried mind. A remembrance of all the trips I had taken as a child. I watched myself climb up into our car and drive off down the road with my daddy at the wheel and not one care in my heart. We ate meals when we were hungry. We slept when we were sleepy. Sometimes our car broke down...and we got it fixed. It was an adventure every time. Even the harder times.
But I did not ever...not one single time...beg my daddy to keep us safe. (I did tell him to wake up now and then...he is a champion nap driver)
Daddy knew, without even thinking about it too hard, that it was his job to get us to our destination.
And we never had to beg him to do it.

That thought has rocked my world. I can trust my Papa God to get me where I need to go.
He doesn't need my prayers to set everything up for Him...for us.
He just knows what to do and He does it.
I can still ask Him and even beg Him if I want to. I still do sometimes. And He rushes in and quiets me or lets me wail...sometimes both at the same time.
He does miracles for me. Although I have found that more often than not, I do not recognize the miracle until after the fact. I wish He marked them better.
I have to laugh when I think that sometimes those miracles feel like a kid with a sharp pokey stick shouting,

Other times, miracles come in the form of the daily sustaining ritual of eating and sleeping and being. The daily grind. A miracle.
I feel that I want to share my miracle with you. Just so you know.
My husband lost his job in November. It is now July. I have money in the bank and no debt except a reasonable house payment. This should not be possible. It would not be possible had he not lost his job.  I am not that smart in the money management department. It is just a miracle.

And in the midst of my miracle I daily struggle with the feeling that I somehow need to beg God for His care or prayerfully lay out the to-do list so that He can be better organized. Time...we need to get on this Big Guy. Don't you think we need to take care of....

I am sure this hurts my heart way more than it bugs Him. He can take my angst. He has proven that time and time again.

So what do I do? I pray.
Ha! Didn't expect that did you.
I pray...but only in a conversational way like I face book or pick up the phone.
I talk to Him about all this. My Papa God and I talk all the time. He almost never gives me the answers in a way that I can pin down to logic but He does answer.
Sometimes I say "this sucks."  Sometimes I say "thank you."

Mostly I feel His goodness and it makes me come undone. I can't explain it. It just does.



slow train pile ups
cant stop
keep rolling
long legs and arms popping out to snag the timid
as one goes down
they all fall over
dominoes with wheels
down again and up they bounce
forever optimistic
someday they will be THAT kid
the one who can split the limbo
and cross over and go
for now they hug the wall
around again
as many times as it takes


pony rides

She couldn't have been more than nine. Just a little slip of a thing with chocolate braids and scuffed knees. We cannot know for sure if she was sweet but her pictures show her smilingly cute. It is probably safe to assume a certain measure of sugar as all the little bees came buzzing....

Her family loved to camp. Yosemite was the place to be in 1940. Bring the family to the wilds of nature. Lots of families joined in. Campfires and hiking and fishing and swimming. And pony rides. If you had the money. She didn't. Her daddy was a preacher and with the title came nothing. No big salary. If you were a traveling preacher you got your dinner provided after meeting. Maybe a bag of apples to take home. Always there was enough food but not much else.
Poor for the Lord. Nothing extra. Certainly not pony rides.

She never even asked. It was enough for her to watch the ponies. She would lean on the fence and smile and wave as each pony clopped by her. She didn't wave to the riders. Not because she was jealous. No, the riders didn't even matter. All she could see were the ponies. She waved to them and smiled friendship smiles into their beautiful faces. Every so often a pony would toss his head and she felt honored by his acknowledgement of her. His soft eyes would reflect her admiration. Her heart would swell again with every pass. They shared that bond that little girls and ponies share. They understood each other. Friendship and devotion. And that was enough.

Sometimes she would see an empty saddle and there is where she would dream. She'd sigh as she watched that pony trot all the way around the circle. This was her ride. Her time to believe all the little girl longings for freedom. She could imagine the wind in her hair as she floated through the air on her noble steed. She knew without a doubt that life was best when lived atop a pony. She would watch and hardly dare to blink. And she would smile and sigh again.

If given the chance, she would stand this way for hours. Her friends always knew where to find her. They looked for her there when their camp chores were done and it was time to play. They liked playing with her. She was quick to smile and always ready for a laugh. Not too prissy. One of the boys except for the braids. She could climb trees quicker than a squirrel. Probably because she was so little. She could skip rocks and catch bugs. And she could belch. Oh, she was fun.

The boys would gather round her as she stood beside the pony pen.  She would grin at them as they ran up with their dust cloud billowing around them. She enjoyed their rowdy camaraderie. A few more minutes, boys. Just a few more minutes. They knew that they could tease her away but they didn't usually have the heart. If they waited just a bit the ride would shut down to give the ponies a rest and then she would wholeheartedly join their camp games. So they did wait. All arms and legs threaded through the bars of the fence. Shoelaces dangling while feet swung back and forth and back and forth.  One would inevitably sit on top of the fence and would inevitably, but of course accidentally, get pushed off. They would tussle and they would wait for her. She was worth it.

She had come to expect these gatherings. Wherever she was, she was not alone for long. That pleased her. She liked sharing her happiness with her friends. She knew they liked the ponies. Clapping and whistling, the boys would take turns standing beside her to point out their favorite pony or to giggle at some rider. A pleasant daily routine.
It took her by surprise the day that no one came to join her beside her ponies. She wondered where they had gotten to. Oh well. She missed them but was quite content to stay right here.

They weren't far away. Those boys. The thing she didn't know was that they were all gathered without her.  Clustered back amongst the trees just out of sight, they whispered as they offered up their grubby paws and clinked their coins together in one happy little pile. They had been planning this all morning long. Nobody knowing or caring who first had thought the thought. They put together what each one had to please their friend. Ten cents. All counted up. Just the right amount for one pony ride. Exactly enough to bring a smile.

It must have been funny to see them trudging up behind her. Not one boisterous group but a bashful line of fellows not quite sure what to do with their grins. A tap on her shoulder startles her. She didn't even know they were there. She turns around a little puzzled but soon enough she sees why they are acting all so strange. They give their gift without a word and silently stand guard as she smiles and steps through the gate.

She remembered that gift for the rest of her life. Each time told reliving the thoughtfulness of her sweet companions. They waved to her from the fence. And hollered. And clapped. Her sweetness rubbing off on them. Their sweetness impacting her, forever.


out the door

Lest you think me perfect
I am going to confess
getting out the door can leave me somewhat quite the mess
destination does not matter
just the getting to the car
makes me madder than a hatter
shouting loud
declaring war
all the "mommy mommy MOMMY!"
tends to make me lose my head
one more task I find unfinished
and I'm going back to bed
find your shoes and clean your room and don't forget to get the light
hurry up or we"ll be late
this mommy tends to get uptight
I don't mean to make you nervous
I don't want to see you cry
just remember,
mommy loves you
(and you're much too young to die)


strike while the iron is hot

Day 16
A painful memory...

it started out a regular day
with wrinkles
on my face
from sleeping hard against the softness of the pillow
i found that creases deep adorned the dress
i had forgotten to prepare
the night before
when dreams began to beckon
or mom
with bellows sweet
issued the lights out call
that teenagers all
with passion hate
i felt the panic
on that morn
of being unprepared
so quickly pressed I on
and on and on
a never ending circle of cotton
standing between me and my bagel
i rushed
and made it just
as papa honked the horn
the pasted smile upon my face
a portrait of relief
more than happiness
we made our blessed destination
just on time
you can't be late for God you know
i sighed and thought about my lunch
and wondered bout a nap
but mostly just was glad to not be rushed

this boring tale you think is told
except the part that brings the pain
and this is where it really does pick up
that girl in all her hurry
quite forgot that neatness counts
and later when reminded 
to please refile the elements of her domesticity
she reached in haste
not for the handle but the metal face
and melted skin
against the heat of iron
still plugged in

a lesson learned in pain is never ever soon forgot
contrary to the oft repeated proverb
no matter what the hurry
always think before you act
and never...ever...strike while the iron is hot

Bye folks! See you tomorrow!

Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....


Our other participants:

Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Niki Turner [NEW!]
Zoe Nowell [NEW!]
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]
Karen Haines (no url provided; will update)


the worst punishment

Today is day 15.
I messed up and forgot to put in a day when I had the olympic extravaganza of drawing ketchup marathon.
that forgotten day was supposed to be "my worst punishment."
I thought and thought.
My child finally helped me remember.
Here it is...
I call it...
Notice how all other food pales in comparison.
Smell the putridicity.
I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it.
The food that shall not be named. Or spoken of. Or smelled.

My worst have to eat them. I would brave hours of sitting and looking and smelling.
I was a stubborn little bugger.
They will never pass my lips again.
I swear it.
That is all.

Look back a post and see all the other beautiful drawers in this challenge.
Draw-ers as in artists...not drawers as in knickers.


Let's hear it for long weekends!! Woo to the Hooooo!

I do not know posting etiquette.
Is it ok to post a million things in one day? Is it more obnoxious to post a million images to one post so it takes a bazillion seconds to load? What happens if I eat cheese really fast? Do owls have to make that obnoxious whooing sound every five seconds?
If you wear spanx and you pass gas will your sinuses explode?

You see, I am nothing if not a perplexing ball of questions with no answers.
I shall now attempt to compensate for my lack by showing you some pretty pictures...
I do hope that the loading time on this post has not caused your crevices to grow fused.

ok. First on the docket, Day 8 amusement park.
I am no designer. This is the lamest amusement park I have ever seen. the kiddies will be whining. Shoot, the husband will be whining. Run. Run from Fun World. Go get icecream and try to forget.
told ya.

Next up- Day 9 Spirit Animal
All I could think of was this...(cover your ears)
Which leads me directly to Day 10 and my hometown memory.
I was in the band. I played clarinet. We made posters. We guessed it...The BEARS!
And we had spirit.

I am flipping day 12 and day 11. Day 12 is a picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I drew me now cuz I am livin' the dream baby.
This is what my van would look like if I had one of those sticker thingys on the back. You would see my husband who actually has a goatee but for some reason my imagination store did not offer that option. You see me holding his had because we are in luv. Notice my birkenstocks. My daughter makes cakes and other yummies in her own bakery. My son has a fierce fro and wishes he had a laptop but since he does not spends all his free time gaming on a machine he built himself. My next son reads...a...lot. My next son is obsessed with bird watching...and with leaping around to get attention in silly ways (but never at the same time). And my baby girl is the princess with lots of interests but who cares when you are. the. princess. The other two creatures are dogs, not cats. We don't do cats. Just stupid looking dogs. Our real dogs are pretty.
got it?
So, day 11 would have me give my last request if the world were ending. My last request would be that it would end at my house first. my heart could not take it any other way.
I choose to joke. But I am very serious.

Day 13 is a photo of my favorite mythical creature. I took this just outside the window of my luxury shack on the beach on my private island. All mythical creatures live here in peace as we run a sanctuary for imaginary friends and all things misunderstood by the educated masses. We encourage quirkery here folks. Relax and enjoy yourselves.
If you do not know what this is I will most assuredly wonder for your mental health.

Lastly, day 14 brings with it my favorite fish. Koi? Walleye?
I choose Charlie.
I always felt a little bad for him. Such rejection. yet he kept on swimming.
(Did I just mix a fishing metaphor?)

I bet Don Hillson that I would be caught up today or lose my toenail.
No discount on my next pedicure thankyouverymuch!

I will try to be better about keeping current.

Bye folks! See you tomorrow!

Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....


Our other participants:

Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Niki Turner [NEW!]
Zoe Nowell [NEW!]
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]
Karen Haines (no url provided; will update)


guessing games

ok people,
I am going away for the weekend.
Since I find it challenging to set the timer on my oven I am not going to attempt to set the timer on this post thingy to have this all posted automatically in my absence.
You will just have to enjoy a few days at once.
Try not to despair.

First, I will have to catch up just a little.
Day 4 is a secret about yourself.
My secret...
I love musicals. Showtunes. MGM in the golden years. consider this a tribute to all random breaking into song that pleases me so. (except Les Mis....not pleasurable at all)
I call, you guess. 

Day 5
My favorite movie.
No contest.
My favorite movie of all time. I wish I was a painter and could do the moon scene proper justice.
As it is, this is colored pencil and quite elementary. Still, you get the drift.
If you don't...well...I worry about you.

Day 6

My favorite drink.
I really only drink one thing.
Water. Boring old delicious water. Sometimes, if I am feeling very daring, I put in some lemon.

Day 7

My favorite bird.
It is a turkey. Can you tell?

Now you can enjoy your weekend! I know I will enjoy mine.
See you all on Monday!!!

Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....


Our other participants:

Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Niki Turner [NEW!]
Zoe Nowell [NEW!]
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]
Karen Haines (no url provided; will update)


that's just how we roll

first wheels. that is the subject for the drawing challenge today.

My first driving wheels came in the form of a cute little red '79 Honda civic. She was a beauty. So tiny I could sit in the drivers seat and stretch out my arm and touch the passenger door without even straining. I would still be driving that car if not for stinky parents that felt it unsafe for me to take (over the Rocky Mountains) to college. Sigh.

My first bike...banana seat, high curved handle bars, streamers on the grips...stylin.

Going first skates were metal and strapped onto my tenny-shoes. They made a ching ching ching sound as I walk-skated down the sidewalk.
Hit a rock and instant faceplant.
Those were the days.

I decided to reach into the way back for my very first wheels. These little people know how to roll.

Not to brag or anything but I had a camper and a motorcycle too.
Be jealous.

This is day three of the challenge.

 Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....


Our other participants:

Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Niki Turner [NEW!]
Zoe Nowell [NEW!]
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]
Karen Haines (no url provided; will update)


keep your eye on the ball

Day two of the drawing challenge.
My favorite sport.
I am just going to assume that reading does not count in the category.
I chose to draw my "favorite" sport from my childhood perspective.
Encouraged to keep my eye on the ball, I concentrated on that sphere to the exclusion of all else.
I became one...with the ball.
I still suspect that stupid little cowhide was out to get me.

I once wrote a story describing my beautiful memories on the ball field.
click the link and rekindle all your nerd-loving tendencies. the story to know why I  title this piece...

Keep your eye on the ball  

 Perspective is a powerful thing.

Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....

Our other participants: click their names to see their work
Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]

Karen Haines (no url provided; will update)

See you tomorrow!!


have a little choc'lit Jesus

I am participating in a drawing challenge this month. One drawing per day.
So, for the next 30 days you will have the opportunity to be both amazed at my word wit AND awed by my artistic the same time!
I know.
It is almost too good to be true.

Today we start with Muppet.
My drawing challenge co-participant/ leader has defined it as: those characters from Sesame Street...or the Muppet Show...or there bouts. (paraphrase mine)
People in animal costume? I say yes.

At first I panicked thinking I could not meet the challenge. Then I relaxed when I remembered that I already had a drawing prepared.
Technically that is cheating. But who's to know, right?

I call this...
Just a little choc'lit Jesus*

It pretty much sums up how I feel about Easter.

I do want to say here that this is in no way meant to insult or degrade Jesus and His resurrection. I am very much a believer in that.

This is just a picture commentary on new dresses, candied rabbit poo, babies shoving each other out of the way for prizes, and every dag-blamed plastic easter trinket I have had to pitch to the landfill.

I could talk about commercialization, pagan rituals, compartmentalizing our life with God, systematically poisoning our children through socially acceptable cult-style brainwashing, the evils of that psychedelic easter grass...
or we could just look at the picture and be horrified as satirical waves wash over us again and again and again. 

One brilliant friend of mine described easter egg hunts as "hunger games for the kiddies".
(that would be a beautiful drawing in and of itself)

easter. just one more of those grin and bear it things that make me wish for a yurt.

*for those confused by the title "Just a little choc'lit Jesus"...

there is a song that they sing in the church of my youth.the words go like this...

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus
Let us tell him all about our troubles
He will hear our faintest cry
And he will answer by and by
When you feel a little painful yearning
and your heart unto heaven is turning
You can have a little talk with Jesus
Makes it right.

To a child...havin a little choc'lit Jesus sounds like THE best thing you could possibly imagine.
Plus, once you have heard the alternative lyrics, you can never, ever sing the song the correct way again.

Not every day of this challenge can be filled with such uplifting commentary. But I will try.
I know that excites you.

Join all my drawing comrades...for the next exciting episode of....

Our other participants: click their names to see their work
Don Hillson

Niki Nowell
Bill Davis
Notes From The Backseat
Marilyn Quinsaat [posting on Facebook]
Kimmy Haines [posting on Facebook]
Karen Haines
(no url provided; will update)

See you tomorrow!!


Peace out.

I think I might throw up before this is all said and done.
You know that sweaty hands, shakey in the mid-section, air too thin to breathe place...that's me.
I feel this way because I am about to tell you what I really think.
And I am going to try to do it without any snark.

I might hurt myself.

I have been so distressed by so many things in life lately. Most of the distress comes from facebook. that seems shallow but  it is what it is. Facebook is my connection to the outside world. If I get off of facebook I have my sweet little family. They do not distress me.
I orchestrate my life to be as stress free as possible. I do not watch the news. I do not have tv. I do not follow the trending links on my computer. I live in a quiet little neighborhood where I know all my neighbors by name. the clerks in the stores know my name because I have a set routine and I almost never wander from it. I am a creature of habit and I crave peace.
I do not live in such a way that you would think that I was anything other than the most mousey, complacent, Jesus loving, mini-van driving, homeschooling mommy. I wear long skirts and birkenstocks, people.. I have no tattoos.
My cuss words up until a few months ago consisted of crap, and gosh.
(I am learning to use the word in big ass...dumb ass...asinine...)
You think I am being snarky but I am dead on serious.

this is my outside. My insides bubble a little hotter.
Inside, I am a stick it to the man, go against the status quo, rage against the storm, hippy.
If society welcomes it then I will most assuredly suspect it as a matter of principle.
I am cynical.
I am short tempered toward anyone or anything that displays a sheep mentality.
I am arrogant and prejudiced against individuals who refuse to think for themselves.
I judge.
but I probably won't show you these things unless you walk closely enough with me to see that I raise my right eyebrow a tiny bit and my pupils blow out when I get angry.
(my husband told me this...I thought I had it hidden)

I would probably tell you that in general I don't like people. As in plural. People. Groups. But I do like people. Persons. Individuals. There is this thing in my heart that loves to hear a person with their story. It affects me. they affect me. So much so that my heart will melt and I can slide into a depression over their pain. I actually have to guard my heart against this.
Unless... unless that person and their pain is treading on someone else. then I tend to go with the underdog. If i find that you are messing with someone and being mean,
 well I will think about sticking my foot so far up your get my drift.

So this distress on comes from my friends. I have spent my life in the circles of conservative, evangelical, American, chirstians.  my friends...yes, they are mostly church going, bible thumping, Jesus defending pains in the... neck.
(you can see why I am learning to use the word ass...just so many applications) snark intended.

My friends have been very vocal about the issue of gay marriage. they have made no bones about speaking for God and making sure that everyone knows how  He feels about those gays getting married. I don't mind them having their opinions. Truly. It is actually quite safe for that christian group to call out the sin of that gay group. I don't really like groups anyway so have at it. Even if it bothered me a little bit I could just not think about it too much and let it pass on by.
But then something began to nag at my heart.
As people started talking more about this issue, especially about the similar issue and decision to let gay members into the boy scout organization it started to come closer and closer to home.
My home.
My children running around as my mom friends talked about this horrible ungodly state of society.
My children listening with their super power hearing as the words and feelings flung hate and intolerance around the playroom.
My children assuming that I felt like that too because I didn't say anything.
It began to nag my heart that I was teaching by example and the example I was setting was one of tolerance for injustice.

If I am going to teach ain't gonna be centered around keeping my peace while people get trampled in the self-righteous dust from the journeys of a thousand ignorant proof-texters.
Nothing in that sentence was loving. Or tolerant.

I honestly feel that if you think that you have a right to keep the gay community in its place by labeling them with very biblical names like sinner and fornicator you might as well take up using the word nigger.
Take that any direction you want.

I started looking at my children and wondering what would change for me if one of them grew up and told me he was gay. What would happen to my heart if one of my precious children came to me in fear and loathing because he was terrified to tell me about something he had been burdened with since he was big enough to realize that he did not fit in with his brothers. What if my words and actions laid down a foundation of hate that kept my child, the love of my life, in a place of anguish because he knew that my principles could not allow us to fellowship in heart even tho I said "I love you" every day.
I think that I decided right then to change my behavior. I decided to stop looking at this group, and start looking at individuals. when I did that my heart began to break.
I realized that not speaking but letting the vocal majority have their say was the same, in the hearts of my children, as my agreement.
As a grownup I know that silence is not always consent...but to a is the same.

I realized that my silence was actually telling my children, that finger pointing christian position is ok. It is right. I agree.
Sometimes, you need to speak up.

I have friends that are gay. to my knowledge none of them are wanting to get married. but I guarantee you that their christian walk will get easier the minute christianity as a whole (or enough individuals that love completely) can look at them with the same respect they give that elder who recently "confessed" his porn addiction.
And this is a big stupid ass-umption on my part because I just lumped them in with all the detestable sexually impure...and that is really really offensive to many of my friends. I am sorry for that.

My point is respect. Looking at people and seeing their worth. Not their sin...real or perceived.

christians have genuine fear about opening a pandora's box if we let gay people get married. I think that if you want to go with that fear you need to accept that we started that release of mischief the moment we condoned interracial marriage. I am sure there were very sincere individuals that thought such things would surely lead to the degradation of the nation. We do have a black president now. One thing leads to another. I am positive that giving equal rights led to the position we are in today.
I see how this makes people feel very very afraid.
If we give equality to the gay people we are in fact starting down a road where more and more things will be accepted as a normal part of life.
Yes, that is called social evolution. We progress. We move on. Not all the next things are positive, but we can and should deal with those as they come up instead of crying like a bunch of babies about the sharks in the water...there are bridges...and boats to be had for this crossing.
I have heard arguements about how this could lead to child endangerment. Sex with animals. Polygamy. Muslem domination.
Like that isn't happening already??

I think I have talked ad nauseum about if this is sin or not. My just. doesnt. matter. It doesnt matter what I think about it. I need to see my married gay neighbors as neighbors. I need to see them as persons to be respected.
I might need to face my upbringing and tell it simmer down.

what is the alternative? Get as christian uppity as you want...the reality is that the gay lifestyle will be soon be accepted as a "normal" part of American society. You can either avert your eyes and cover your innocent children as you mumble things about detestable to God or you can learn to look in love at two people showing affection.
Stone me now.
I am not talking about anything perverse. Just a kiss...or a don't have to see that as disgusting no matter how you feel about what is happening in the privacy of their home.
Feel free to teach your children right and wrong as you see it. But you cannot continue to go through life trying not to throw up around people who do things you disagree with.

Let me try and come at this from a different direction. A very personal direction.
I have women in my life that live together as roommates. they are heterosexual. Not gay. they love each other immensely. Sisters. Sometimes people think they are gay.
There is no sex going on!
do I want society, and the church, to look down on my friends because they think they are gay?
Actually, society probably accepts them without much question except to wish they would just come out already.
they are not gay.
there are probably those in the church that pray for them in their gayness.

Now, for this next part, let's pretend that my friends are gay. 
Let's take these two friends who have lived together for longer than many of my heterosexual friends have been married...lets say that one of them gets sick...the other one wants to be able to know about her friends condition but she cannot because she is not the "spouse".
Or, one friend wants to give a large sum of money to the other. the other one will be heavily taxed on this gift...but not if they are married.

Just a stupid thought...I think that legally you should be able to declare anyone as your "significant other" to recieve all the benefits of a spouse.
If you even begin to whine about commitments and mocking the marriage system I will most certainly shove the divorce statistics right up your a....

As far as these women getting respect from the christian community, I don't know why they would even care any more. But let's say they do care deeply. they love Jesus. they do not think that their committed relationship is wrong in His eyes. they want to live in peace. together. and in their community.
I think that the church has every right to judge them and hold them accountable to every word of the bible.
As soon as the preacher looses 50lbs. And the nursery ladies stop gossiping. And the home groups stop hosting margarita night. And the deacons stop lying about when that church picnic will be rescheduled. And has anyone see our headscarves...cuz really.
Ok..that might have been snarky.

Until everyone in the church is ready to get real with their schniggt there should be no more telling each other what God wants.
Unless, you can do it in love. On an individual basis. when they ask if you would speak into their lives.
Otherwise...shut it.

I am afraid of 1 Corinthians. Paul talks about turning people over to satan. That scares me.
but you know what...I think that maybe Paul was full of it.
Snark that is.
I think that he was very very very tired of listing out the sins. I think he talks to these folks like a frustrated father and says..."I already told you this, why can't you deal with it?"
He talks about sexual immorality. And he lists it with a lot of other things. And he says the mysterious thing...he tells them to turn that stinky sinner over to the devil and let God judge him.
Seems harsh. Again...I suspect he was being a little snarky in his sincerity. that poor sinner was better off being put out than living within the bounds of the church and their righteous judgement.

I KNOW that is going to rile you and I am ok with that.

All I am saying is that we don't understand. And until we do, we might want to be a little more quiet.

I know I have not begun to cover all the points in this issue. I really just wanted to talk about a few that get me riled up. I hope that you see that I am giant enormous bag of wind. I don't have it all figured out.
I just want you to think about some things with me. Don't follow me cuz I am so cool.
No more herd mentality. 
Just allow my questions to spark some of your own.

I can only hope that I have NOT somehow managed to offend everyone on the planet.
Peace on you.


I love you. Period.

I think it should be enough to say "I love you", without having to add "but I don't approve of what you do".

I am continually amazed that the christian mentality seems to equate love with either pity or perfection. think about it...
You pity that person in sin. On a good day you love them in spite of it.
On a perfect day you love them out of it.

I think that Jesus loves them in it.
Now let's take it closer to home. Jesus doesn't just love them in it...He loves me in it.
We won't take time right now to discuss saint/sinner/redeemed. Let it be enough for this discussion to say that I do still sin. Therefore, I am a sinner. Redeemed, yes. But that is not my point right this minute.
Jesus loves me in my sin.
His love does not wait for me to change. He looks at me smack where I am and accepts me there.
In sin.
Without ever covering me up with how much of a screw up I am or how much he disapproves of me.
He doesn't talk to me that way. The scriptures that I have been taught to cherish don't read that way anymore....but they used to.
What changed?
I was raised to revere the bible as the Holy Scripture...the Holy Word of God...the only way that God spoke. All I needed for living was in that book. And believe me, it was full of rules and regulations about life.  The life instruction book.  That is how christians see it. ok that is fine.
Trouble is, in my experience, once you have a written set of rules/instructions you tend to get busy telling other people how to go about things. You figure that you have the authority to go messin in other people's lives. You poke your nose in. In their best interest of course.
In love.
Problem with that is that it is none of your business. It is God's business.
At some point, and Glory to God Hallelujah! I realized that it is not my job to change people. Not my job even when I love them dearly and want them to change. Not my job when they are bugging the crap out of me with their incessant sinning. Not my job when I am super right and they are dead wrong.

I can't think of a place where He told me to take the written word and go make sure that everyone is following it.

Let's look at this another way. If you put aside the written scripture for a minute what do you have left? Could you exist without it?
Do you trust the Holy Spirit of God enough to instruct you if you had no access to the written word?

We do it every day you know. We who have been raised in the church, who know those scriptures by heart, we walk without it all the time. We misquote it, manipulate it to fit our personal preference, disregard entire sections... How do we survive?
Well, mostly we walk around with our heads hung low as we wallow in muck and feel the disapproval of God. Just a bunch of screw ups. Unworthy.
The scripture we know has been drilled into us and set around us as a barbed wire fence. Stay inside.
Death beyond these lines. Here be monsters.
We walk afraid.
Our security feels sketchy at best because we continually look for breaks in the fence. Even in the moments that we feel secure we terrorize others with messages of death.
Don't do that or you will die! Be afraid!
Yet in the scriptures that we have been taught to revere, we see the messages about freedom, and easy burdens, and light and good news.
Why do these get so convoluted with the how to's and what for's?
How does freedom become a death threat?
Even in the places in scripture where there is instruction, it is continually wrapped up in bow of good news.

These men were dealing with some hard stinky human fallacy yet they repeatedly told people to remember that their reward was waiting. They told people to hold on and to rejoice. They encouraged people walk in the freedom that had already been bought and paid for them. For their future. For their now.
Still, we christians take these words and use them to  illustrate our depravity.
Love waiting for us to get it all together. Here is how to do it, so do it, moron. Jesus loves you, it's not brain surgery, why can't you get it right?
We talk about grace sometimes. Sometimes we even mean it. Still, hurdling that fence...only the bravest will even try it.
I want to realize each day the newness of God loving me right where I am.
Even when I am testing His mercy and dancing way outside the borders of the barbed wire.
Especially when I believe more than anything that His love depends on that fence...and my staying safely inside.

The words "I love you, but" were never uttered by God.

I put to you today the challenge to love. Period. And I ain't gonna lie to is gonna suck. Hurt bad. Exquisite pain in the name of Jesus.
It is going to rip your heart in two to have to love someone in their sin.
Just forget the words condone and approve.

Trust God...who defines Himself as Love... to do all the work that your "not condoning" can't get done.

Trust Love to rush in and bind and heal and restore all the places that you don't approve of.

Believe that it is enough to Love God and Love others as you love yourself. (yeah, that is the tricky part)

Here is some instruction for you...stop telling everybody what to do, or not do.
(you see the irony here don't you) 

I can only speak for my journey. All the places where I said "christians", and "you" and "them"...I meant me.
I am talking to myself here but you can listen in.
Actually, the following words are not me...they come from my Love.

I love you. Period.


hidden tiger, crouching dragon

Last time we talked it was something about surviving and/or thriving. I babbled a bit about the how's and why's of getting along with yourself and with others. Learning lessons. Hurting feelings. Standing up for yourself. It is still confusing to me, this tension between telling your truth and "being nice". What do you do when life isn't fair? What happens when you are being oppressed by the insensitivity of others? How do you proceed when what you need is going to tread on somebody else?
Let's get into it.

I have children. They interact. They get along mostly. Sometimes somebody gets punched or kicked or body slammed. We are not overly violent around here but we do get rowdy.
When it comes to the boys I tend to let them work things out. I believe in pack order. It helps you learn how to survive.
Sometimes tho, the warfare is psychological. That kinds usually hurts worse. Still, survival is a big deal.
Just the other day I instructed a younger brother to thank his older brother for tricking him out of five bucks.
Story goes that big brother offered to pay whatever change he had in his room in return for little bro doing some chore. Something might or might not have been said about the possibility of there being five dollars in change.
Turned out that number was grossly exaggerated.
Nobody counted the change until the job was done. What are ya gonna do?
Parents were consulted. A fair settlement was sure to be had. Mom? Dad?
You gotta learn these hard lessons in life son. Be thankful that it was your brother that gave you this lesson in the dangers of being gullible (instead of some stranger on the street).
Right or wrong, that little brother now knows the term "show me the money" and he knows when to use it.

There was nothing fair about that. Not if you think we should have come to the rescue and made big bad brother cough up the dough.
Big brother got his lecture about kindness and honesty. But he also knows that we value his contribution in the raising of this family. We are well aware that his contribution might not always be on the up and up. He has his boundaries and he mostly stays within them although sometimes he does apply some creative restructuring to those lines. Sometimes a lesson learned the hard way is learned the best way.
Think about that what you will.
For the record, little brother did get to have his say. Speak his truth. "this really RIPS!" was hollered and whined throughout the evening.
And then it was over. But it will be remembered. He survived. I can't honestly say that his spirit was honored. But, would it have been an honor to have received his reward by bringing down his brother?
Was he better served in learning this lesson and growing stronger in the process? I think yes.
Now let's look at an if.
IF he had been stronger, faster, smarter (as in street smarts) he could have honored his own spirit and stood up for himself. He could have spoken up when he smelled the rat. He could have refused to do the work. He didn't. He didn't know any better. He had to learn. The hard way. I am glad it was his loving (cough, cough) brother that was there to teach him.

In our house we get many other loving lessons. Siblings are ready instructors. For instance, nobody can teach self defense like a brother. Mind you, self defense lessons look like torture to the untrained eye. (I am not gonna lie to you, self defense quickly turns to torture so beware) Keeping my parental wits about me is a struggle at times but well worth the effort when I see my youngers learn to slough off enemy attack and give it right back. I love those underdogs.
One underdog that sometimes needs help is the princess.
Baby sister can scrap with the best of them but there are times when she ends up on the wrong side of the dog pile. We try to watch out for that. Mom has declared a no pile zone where the bruiser brothers are concerned. They don't try to injure. They just can't help themselves. So, no piling on the princess. Still, if the odds are more evenly matched a wrestling match does occasionally occur with baby sister as the target. This is allowed, but closely monitored.
Standing rule at our house...say "stop" if you want them to stop. If they don't stop you have the right to use force to get them off you. Hitting, kicking, biting...whatever.
I feel very strongly about this. I want to equip my children, especially my girls, to be able to defend themselves forcefully if need be. It doesn't happen often but there have been a few times when somebody got hurt because they did not respond to the verbal "stop". Too bad for them.
Listen better next time. Another great lesson learned the hard way.
This method seems to work for us. Except for two specific instances.

One problem that seems to be popping up lately is that we forget to say "stop" before we pummel.
This almost never turns out good. The pummeler gets a lecture about giving a warning. The pummelee gets a lecture about sensitivity and learning to back off before it gets so serious. Nobody likes a lecture. Especially if you're the one who just got kicked in the shins.
We are still learning.
Another  problem comes when someone says "stop" but they are laughing, or gasping for air, or some such thing in such a way as their "stop" cannot or will not be heard.
This is a serious issue.
How do you get your "stop" heard?
I think we all need lessons in this.

This brings me back to the beginning... How do you proceed when what you need is going to tread on somebody else?
I believe, and trust me, this is a new stance for me...I believe that you have to man up and go on ahead and tread.
Yell. Hurt some feelings. Punch somebody right in the nuggets.
Then sometimes you run. Get away and never come back.
But sometimes...oftentimes...more times than not, after knocking their block off physically or verbally you gather them up in a big hug.
Because more times than not, the perpetrator is your big brother that loves you more than sunshine. Sure, he is a big stinky jerk-wad that totally ignored your need. But that is the way it is in families.
Relationships...the best and closest ones...are rife with traumatic moments where you said stop and they didn't, couldn't or wouldn't hear you.
You need to stand up for yourself. It is ok to take up space. Your voice matters.
Say what you need to say and love them more than you want to kill them. It will smooth out.

I am not in any way addressing abuse situations here. Those are the ones where you punch and run.
No niceties necessary.

My message is for people that get so used to being dog piled that they forget they even have a voice. It is so easy to feel like the world and all your loved ones are dogging you to the point that you pummel first without warning...or you just remain "victim" because you can't seem to make your needs known.
You need to stop that.
You have my permission to stop being so nice.
 No really.

Do you see the hidden tiger, crouching dragon response here? Be nice. Understated. Ladylike.
But take good care of your inner fierce. Do not starve it to death. Do not shame it into submission.
It is valuable to you to use your dragon breath and tiger claws to defend yourself and others.
It is good for you. Needful.
Caution is needed tho. Feed your fierce with love, not hate. Compassion and honor raise strong healthy warriors. Spite and frustration fuel venomous beasts.
Stand up. Speak up. Love up most of all. Don't wait any longer.

Tune in next week for lessons in not being hateful and spewing on people because you held it in too long.