Saturday, November 16, 2019

I'll take a cup of coffee, hold the comparison and condemnation, please...

You guys.

I had this wild idea when we moved 4 months ago,
that the things I battled with for the last two years (fear, anxiety, sleep deprivation)
would ease up once I wasn't teaching anymore.

I thought once the stress was gone, I would go back to being the same old Sue.
The only problem is, I am not the same Sue.

The last season of my life re-shaped me. Challenged me. Left me doubting myself.
This new season finds me a little undone.

In this space of feeling vulnerable and unsure of myself,

I have felt some old thought patterns trying to edge their way back into my thinking.

I have been waking up in the morning with thoughts crowding my mind...

These thoughts say...
I should do better and be better at mostly everything in the world because I am failing 
pretty regularly at the things I hold most dear.

They tell me that I should be a....

Better mom. Better wife. Better Jesus follower. Better sister. Better daughter. Better writer. Better writing coach. Better friend. Better shopper. Better housekeeper. Better bill payer. Better money manager. Better blogger. Better gardener. Better church member. Better e-mailer. Better missions supporter. Better....better....better.....

And when I say "better" what I mean is that somewhere deep down....

I feel like
of my life.

I compare myself with the version of myself that I think I should be....
and when I don't measure up to my own unattainable standard,
I sink into a bog of condemnation,
which sucks all joy and purpose out of my day.

That's all.

It's a rough way to start the day. I won't lie.

So this morning, as I sip my morning cup of coffee,
I just thought I would let you know,
these thoughts are stupid.
Truly illogical .
Could they get any more unrealistic?

You guys.

There will never be a day, this side of heaven, where I have the option of perfection.
I know that in my mind...but somehow the doubt and fear keep working their way into my heart.

The wildest deception of all is thinking that
I can actually attain and achieve perfection,
and maintain that state, every day of my whole life.

That sounds so much like pride...I don't know what else to call it.
Dumbness? Crazy Pants Talk? Ridiculousity?
(I made that one up but I am going to start using it.)

Where is this load of inner prideful poppycock coming from????

I think in these last few years with all the changes with our family,
our church, and the stress of a new career...

I can look back and see where I failed. All the things I would have done differently if I could.
In those days of high stress, I was irritable, angsty, tired, depressed, and short-tempered.
I didn't have the grace or the bandwidth to be the kind of wife and mom I knew I should be.
My family bore the brunt of my stress.

I wasn't the person that I wanted to be then...
and I don't know how to remedy that now.

But the Person Who loves me most of all?
He isn't having it.

All this crazy talk about trying to be perfect? He isn't standing for that nonsense.

He calls me out in His word.

Romans 3:23 doesn't say,
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God....except for Susanna?
Nope. It doesn't.
The Bible also doesn't say if Susanna tries hard enough she will become perfect
and be able to handle all that life brings her way...
the good, the bad, and the ugly...on her own.

I've looked. It's not in there.

Jesus knows I am not perfect.
He is simply holding out His arms, in this season of doubt and fear, and reminding me...
that I am His.

He knows I am going to make mistakes...until the day I die.
That is a given.

But He has a different plan than beating me over the head with my failures.
He has decided that He is going to love me and lead me in His way,
changing me from the inside angsty moment at a time.

This life is not about me being perfect. It is about my life bringing Him glory.
Am I going to let Jesus do what He wants to do in and through me, despite my failures,
sins, and fears?

Pride is all about me, but He is all about love.

He is all about mercy and forgiveness and joy and peace.

He sets the standard.
He gets to decide who I am.
He gets to re-shape my life with His grace.
He gets to remind me that perfection is out, but healing and hope are in.

He is meeting me...and you...right here...right now...with a strong dose of love.
An ocean of love.
A love so big that the universe cannot and will not ever contain it.

And if we lean into it, we don't have to be the same anymore.

And there is nothing ridiculous about that.

Monday, September 16, 2019

luckily, there is no body cam footage of my poor life choices

Yesterday, Addison and I were sitting on our couch taking in our
gagillionth episode of  Live PD: PD Cam.

For those of you who don't know, this is a show filmed completely
from the point of view of police officers' body cameras, dashboard cameras, or helicopter cameras.

I used to watch romantic comedies.
Now I live with teenage boys and watch shows about people getting arrested.
I am hoping my sons are picking up some life lessons here.

Don't do drugs. Or get drunk. Or steal guns. Or run from the law.
Always keep your pants on. Always.
It is amazing how many folks wander around in a state of undress.

The episodes are riveting. You are getting to see the valiant work that these officers
do on our behalf and the danger that they constantly put themselves in to protect
and serve their communities.

It is also riveting because the people breaking the law...have no common sense whatsoever.
I bless their hearts left and right.

"Why did he do that? Bless his heart."
"Can't she see that she is making it worse? Bless her heart."

You can't help feeling for them and their families.
You know that their impulsive decision making is wreaking havoc on their lives.

And because I become a part of whatever medium I am watching,
I try to coach them as they are making their horrific, poor choices.

"Stop hitting people!"

"Sweet mercy days! Why would you swallow all your drugs?"

"Don't flee the scene!" ( I am picking up police lingo on the side.)

"Just stop lying! He knows that is not your car!"

One of my more stellar comments yesterday was,

"Why are you so dumb?"

At this comment, Addison turned to me and said, "Mom, every person on this show is dumb."

To this I said, "Well, Jesus gives us brains and He wants us to use them."

He raised an eyebrow. "Mom, I am pretty sure that it doesn't say that anywhere in the Bible."

He had me there.

There is no commandment: Thou shalt not be dumb.

There is no verse reading: For heaven sakes, use the brain I gave you. Verily.

If there was, you should know that I have broken those commands a-plenty.

I just haven't had all my poor decisions filmed on a body cam...
and I will not be allowing drones in my living room any time soon.

What I do have, however, is a memory that tends to play back every poor decision
I have made on a regular basis. It's disheartening.

Worse than a 30 minute episode of PD Cam.

I tend to be fantastic at making poorly thought out, selfish choices.
My impulsive decisions can tend to wreak havoc on the ones I love most of all.

But here is the beautiful thing I am focusing on today.

I can't change the bad decisions I have made in my past.

But I can lean into the grace of Jesus and His goodness, going forward.
The crazy thing? Jesus' doesn't hold my sins against me.

He doesn't condemn me.

He has thrown open His arms to me and said,
"I love you so much. Let me forgive you for that giant mess you made.
And save you from yourself. Does that work for you?"

It does.
He is my help. And my shield.
He is going before me.
Making a way so that I don't have to make the same poor choices I did before.

With forgiveness and hope,
He is inviting me to trust Him to complete the good work He has begun in me.

Grounded in love.
Trusting His truth.

He leads me on His path of righteousness.
He transforms my thinking so that I can walk in His way.
He is making me into a new creation.

He is doing the same for you.

Bless our hearts.

Friday, August 30, 2019

My baby is gone, you guys (I am referencing my first born...not a Motown top 40 record)

So we left our oldest child Jack at Azusa Pacific last Sunday in Los Angeles...
and flew home to Idaho.

He is officially in college. Thousands of miles away.
(It's only hundreds of miles but it feels like I went with thousands.)

Jack is living with strangers. Eating cafeteria food. Talking to people I have never met.

He has been gone for 5 days.
5 days.

It seems so weird.
My whole mothering life...the past 18 years...
the world has impressed upon me the importance of NOT LEAVING MY CHILD.

Don't leave him in the grocery store or they will call CPS.
Don't leave him late at school or you will pay a late fee.
Don't leave him at the library. (Ok. Maybe leave him at the library. It'll grow his brains.)
Definitely don't leave him in dark places late at night. There are murderers out there. Somewhere.

I took all those things to heart. Especially "the dark places late at night" one.
I have watched way too many Forensic Files episodes.

It was and is my job, as mom, to keep that kid close.
Let him know he is held and loved.
Let him know that he is protected and safe.
Let him know that whenever he calls, I am RIGHT THERE.

Then last Sunday...the world changed its mind.
(And if you don't leave are a clingy weirdo.)

This is cruel and unusual punishment, folks.

Does the world think this mom's heart can make a monumental shift like that 
over a Welcome Weekend at college? Think again.

I get it. Jack is a young man.
He is ready to fly.
He needs to spread his wings without mama bird hovering over him.

I am a WORLD CLASS hover-er.

My heart, my life, my schedule...has been tethered to Jack's for almost two decades.
We have been doing life in tandem since I first stared into his wide bright infant eyes.

And now I don't even know what snacks he is eating.
Do I sound like a stalker? Don't answer that.

So I am working on letting that love-worn tether fall...
the one that held me so close to the ins and outs of Jack's days.
Because...he has outgrown it.

I am slipping out from under that close halter of young motherhood so that Jack can soar.

It feels a whole lot like grief.
An unravelling of what once was.

Our second son, Will, was talking to me in the car the other day.
He mentioned something about his school and tears sprang to my eyes.
My voice caught in my throat when I tried to answer him.

He looked at me, shocked. "Mom, are you crying?"
"I miss Jack."
"Mom, you can't just start crying out of nowhere. We weren't even talking about Jack.
We were talking about school. You have to give people some warning."

I told him very serioulsy, "I hope you know that you are never leaving for college."
Will just shook his head and patted my knee. "Oh, Mom."

I know that Will is already planning his escape. But I am choosing to live in denial.

This whole thing about growing little people up and then flinging them out into the world...
far away from's super dumb.

It felt completely normal when I was the child taking flight all those long years ago.
I ran with great joy towards my college years.

But as the parent? If feels like someone (the college president?) is saying,
"Let me just rip out your heart right out. Okay. Now go back to Idaho."

Leaving your people is the worst. Because you like them so much.

I know in the depths of my soul that this is just the first of many leavings.
The first of many changes and frequent adjustments.
But one thing that will not how much I love Jack.

My friend, Marie France, says that I am still his mom. I can love him just as much as ever...
my job description has just changed.

The unravelling of what once was...yields the knitting together of what will be.

New ways of staying connected. New joy. New challenges. New hope.

I know that I will be fine. (even with bouts of surprise crying)

Jack, with all the shifting and growing and changing, will be more than fine.

(Regardless of the fact that I am no longer privy to his snack choices.)

Jack is hemmed in on all sides by the One Who loves him most of all.

It is His job to keep that kid close.
Let him know he is held and loved.
Let him know that he is protected and safe.
Let him know that whenever he calls, He is RIGHT THERE.

There is no one who can hover like He does.

So I am going to let Him.