united we argue

 

Last week I got that call that every mother dreads… the school called to tell me that my son was injured and needed to go to the doctor.  Turns out he tried to display some fancy footwork with a soccer ball and it backfired on him resulting in a full blown head bash into a brick wall.  I know, we don’t do anything simple around here – we like to keep my husband on his toes.

I don’t typically panic when my son is hurt or having an asthma attack – I’m very calm and careful to drive the speed limit and so on.  But there was one major problem on this particular day.  I didn’t have a car.  It was in the shop.

No problem, I texted my husband and said, ” I need you, please call me right away… I am ok.” —> I’ve made the mistake of freaking him out before with a vague text so now I know to include “I’m ok” in there so he doesn’t send squads and ambulances to the house!

He called back all frustrated at me and had an … “elevated” tone in his voice, “I’m BUSY — what is it?!?!?”
“William hit his head at school and he needs to get to a doctor.  They think he might have a concussion.”

His next response COULD have sent me into an emotional spiral — but because I know how much he loves us AND how critical is position is at work — I was able to take it in stride.  He said, “You’re going to have to figure it out – I absolutely CANNOT leave at this moment in time. Keep me up to speed via text, I can’t answer my phone again.”

This is where I am reminded that when we got married over 13 years ago, we UNITED together… which means we have each other’s backs.  Even when tension is high, if I am sick, he is busy, or our son is throwing an all out fit… I know deep down he isn’t being mean and hurtful and he knows the same about me.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need helmets sometimes when we go head to head!  I’m no June Cleaver!

Our amazing neighbor was kind enough to take me to the school, and then drive 20 minutes in the opposite direction to get my car.  I talked to the doctor and it turned out that we had to go to Children’s Hospital.   I kept sending updates to my husband via text and he barely answered at all.  But to my surprise, my husband came around the corner with a smile across his face just as we got out of the car

I knew he would get there as soon as he could and I returned the smile.  All focus was on now on our kiddo, just as it should have been.

But – can you imagine how differently the scenario could have played out had I taken his words personally and carried around my offended carnage that afternoon?  When he showed up at the hospital “united” isn’t exactly how we would be feeling.

In the end, all that mattered was that our son was just fine and after about 4 hours it was as though he just snapped out of it and was back to laughing at his own farts (a sure sign that your son is back to himself).  As my husband and I waited hand-in-hand at the hospital he was able to tell me about his day in a non-defensive manner and I could see EXACTLY why there was absolutely no way he could have left the very moment I called.

That night we went to check on William after he zonked out and he said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there today – it was stressing me out that I couldn’t leave!”

And without any disdain I was able to say, “I knew you would get there as soon as you could!”

Are all of our interactions as grace-filled as this one?
HECK NO!  Oh my gosh —- just… no.  And for crying out loud please don’t put me on a pedestal because with my history I will fall off and break something!

This is as much a reminder to me as it is to you — that when you’re married, it’s your responsibility to be UNITED. Even if it means setting your frustration to the side so you can see the whole picture.

i use 2 text & dri…

This is Keian.  He is 15 in this picture.  Handsome, isn’t he?  He is taking the typical teen selfie — ok who am I kidding, even adults do this now!  He is taking the typical selfie pic with his phone in the mirror probably before he heads out the door for school.

photo from kvia.com
photo from kvia.com

Keian’s mom, Marcy was taking her kids to school on October 31st, 2012.  She dropped off her two sweet girls and probably gave them all kinds of tender advice for their day.  Then it was time to take Keian to the High School.

But they never made it to the High School.

A 21-year-old woman was headed the opposite direction as they were, and it appears from the investigations that she was texting and driving.  I do that all the time.

“Yes, on my way.”  or …
“UGH – I know! Boys are so crazy!” or …
“K, will email it to you when I get home.” or …
“On my way to the store, need anything?”

I can type pretty fast with my right thumb.  I was actually disappointed when we upgraded to iPhones because I was a beast with my old phone.  I could feel the buttons with my thumb and could text without even looking… 4 … 555…666…888…33…88  (I love you).  I had the keypad memorized.  Easy-peasy.

I’m careful to only text when I’m not in a huge pack of cars on the highway, or when I’m at a stoplight — ooops, it’s green!, and I only text in neighborhoods after I’ve made sure no kids are around.

Is this transparency making you cringe?  It’s all truth.  And I am embarrassed to admit it all, but hey, I’ve never been in a texting related accident so clearly I know how to do it.

That 21-year-old female in New Mexico driving to work or home or to see her mom or wherever she was heading — I bet she had never been in a texting related accident either.  But that day, her actions ended up killing Marcy and Keian.

Their family never saw them again.

I wish you could see my cursor blinking right now, and hear my heart pounding, and see the tears pooling in my eyes.

I don’t want to be responsible for a Marcy and a Keian not making it to school, or even worse, not making it to the dinner table to laugh and pray with their family.  Their family will never go on another family vacation without feeling the weight of the two people missing from their car.  They will never go to another restaurant and ask for a table for 3 without thinking “it used to be a table for 5.”  I don’t want to sit in a courtroom and hear how thoughtless and selfish my actions were that ripped a loving and tender mother away from her daughters… and took a dad’s only son from his life … forever.

Not to mention how it would impact my own family.  My son would grow up without me and I would be in a cell in some prison looking at his pictures and reading every letter over and over and over again.  I wouldn’t be able to teach him how to drive, or be there for his High School prom, or graduation, or college years.  I might not be there when he gets married, and would be giddy to see the wedding pictures that come in the mail to my cell…. and I don’t mean phone…  wait, would he even want a relationship with me anymore? Would I even get pictures and letters?  My husband would struggle with the choice to stay married to me, a killer.  We wouldn’t snuggle in bed and laugh at stupid commercials together…  I would ruin all of that for my family.

I’ve been texting and driving for at least 7 years if not more.  With my son in the car.  On highways.  In neighborhoods.  In parking lots… all because I thought my messages were incredibly important and couldn’t wait.

But the message of taking someone’s life because I needed you to know I will email you when I get home?  That’s a message I don’t ever want to send….

It can wait.

Click on that link above to take the pledge with me.  Stop texting and driving – TODAY.  Write Marcy and Keian on your steering wheel if you need to. Just stop.  I’m on my 8th day of no texting and driving — and it isn’t easy to break a 7+ year habit, but taking someone else’s life isn’t something I can live with…. waiting to send that text is TOTALLY something I can live with.  Thanks to my friend Beth, who knew Marcy and Keian, my perspective has changed.

Leave a comment if you will take the pledge with me.
No judgement.
Just grace.

Because I’ve taken the pledge before and failed — and I need to know there are others out there who will stand with me and will make the change with me too.

 

 

making the call to “that” friend

Why do we do that thing where we make an issue bigger than it really is?  Often times it isn’t even an issue but we don’t take the time to clarify someone else’s words and we go from harmless words floating in the air to panicking because there is an air raid and you’re being singled out.  You’re the only one taking shells!  RUN! HIDE!  GET IN YOUR FOX HOLE!

Or…
What if you just called your friend and asked for clarification.

GASP!

No Ann, you can’t possibly mean to face the issue head on could you?
Why yes, that’s exactly what I mean.  Hold on, let me finish rinsing the sand out of my teeth so I can share with you what I learned yesterday.

I’ve made this mistake too many times to count.  I had a conversation with a friend and walked away a little injured, then my mind went ahead and dropped the atomic bomb and made me think that friend didn’t care about me at all.  If I had a dollar for every friendship I have single-handedly ruined this way, I would quickly give it all away so no one would see how awful I have been.

Earlier this year I decided to change this way of catostrophasizing, but yesterday was my first real attempt at picking myself up from my face-plant in sand and setting my feet on the instructions that Jesus gave us.

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.  Matthew 5:21

Since I gave up sacrificing animals for Lent (a bad, and probably inappropriate Catholic joke), I tend to think this looks more like when I am praying for peace, asking for God’s forgiveness, and asking for help to be obedient in His will — except that I am trying to step over the dead friendship I have created to get to God’s blessing.

You pretty much have to address the friends with whom you must reconcile. FIRST.

So I did.

I called “that” friend.  The one who said something to me early in the day and it messed with me all day long.  I said, “hey you know when you said this and that?  It hurt me and made me feel yucky.”

She was SO grateful that I called because as it turns out, she had only shared a teeny tiny snippet of the full story.  As I listened, I used my hazmat suit and gloves to clean up the chemical warfare carnage that I had created in my mind.

At the end of the call I felt SO much better.
And I also had more work do to… yup, more sand.

As it turns out, when you allow that atomic bomb to be built and to detonate in your mind, you create a World War II recreation in your own family by throwing up all over the people you love the most… and the cat would like for me to share this with you:

identity hidden to protect the innocent
identity hidden to protect the innocent

I had to go home and apologize to my husband for letting my chemical mess burn him, and I had to ask for his forgiveness.  He happens to be a pretty amazing guy who understood, forgave, and got the yard blower out to help clean up my sandy mess.

it’s a two-way street

What kinds of friends do you have?

  • I have friends who meet me at Starbucks and don’t care if I show up with wet hair and no makeup.
  • I have friends who tell me when it’s time to do my hair and put on makeup.
  • One of my friends lives in another country and we’ve only met face-to-face once.
  • A friend of mine has seen me, and aided me, during my absolute lowest points on my health journey, and she still loves me despite witnessing incredibly gross things.
  • Multiple friends just came and sat with me after a yucky surgery last year… just sat with me.
  • My husband and I have amazing friends who have moved to follow one of their dreams, yet we pick right back up where we left off every time we see them.
  • I am celebrating 25 years of friendship with one of my friends this Saturday, and she could probably still beat me in the original Super Mario Brothers.
  • One of my friends constantly reminds me to pray for myself. And there’s no sneaking by this friend, she is a Major Pain in the A…. Accountability department.  Which I happen to need.
  • I have a group of friends who would join me in singing the National Anthem in just about any elevator with no questions asked, then when the doors open they would proceed as though nothing happened.
  • I have a group of friends with whom I vacation twice a year for a weekend of sewing and crafting… and LAUGHING.
  • Ihaveafriendwhotextswithmelikethisandweboththinkit’shilarious. Andwearebothgrownups. Sorta.
  • I have friends who understand chronic illness because they too are suffering.
  • A friend of mine prayed for my salvation for YEARS, and I didn’t even know she was doing it!

What do all of these people have in common?  They are my friends because we encourage each other.

It’s a two-way street.
It’s give and take.
It’s grace.
It’s hugs.
It’s cards in the mail with stupid humor on them that make us laugh.
It’s patience and growth.
It’s forgiveness.
It’s tears and laughter.
It’s making mistakes.
It’s trips to the ER.
It’s a WHOLE lot of inside jokes.
It’s caring for each other’s children.
It’s illness and death, and new life and new loves.
It’s the excitement of new things and the comfort of the old things.
It’s praying together and urging each other to make wise decisions instead of running away when life gets tough.
It’s meals and coffee, cake and ice cream… and drinks from Sonic (rolling my eyes — you know who you are!)

Friendship is all of these things and more.

Are you struggling with your friendships?  I urge you to seek out what you can do to strengthen those relationships.  Is it time for forgiveness or confessions?  Is it time to pick up the slack because your friends are going through incredibly difficult times?  Is it time to ask for help because you feel like you’re drowning?

All relationships are built on honesty.  I have screwed that up many many times in the past because I was too proud to admit I was hurt or frustrated.  Don’t be that person.  It won’t work out well for you in the end.  I have lost friendships over my pride and a loss of words is no crutch to lean on.  It will crumble.

Pray about it.
Be honest and share your feelings.
Or stand up and pick up the slack because you adore your friends who are hurting.

What stumbling block do you see resurfacing again and again in your friendships?
What are you going to do about it?

yeah, but … what is your heart saying?

When we were kids and we would push back at something my mom said, our big comeback was, “yeah, but…”  I know, original, right?  My mom used to turn around and say, “no yeah-buts!” and wave her cute little pointer finger at us.  Or if we were “lucky” she would sing it back to us.  (so that’s where I get that, so sorry kiddo!)

Today, I’m telling that to myself.  “NO YEAH-BUTS!”

It’s raining.  

photo from rudlavibizon
photo from rudlavibizon

No big deal to someone without chronic pain but my body has felt this rain coming for days. Yesterday it was a migraine that derailed my plans and today my hips, knees, and ankles are stiff and incredibly painful.  The tendons in my wrists and fingers hurt.  And I just realized I’m clenching my teeth.

(PS: Thank you God for this RAIN!  Holy cow, Dallas has needed this badly!!!)

I have work that needs to get done and the little kid in me says, “yeah, but my body is killing me and I just want to lay down!”  The grown-up in me is saying, “no yeah-buts!”  The chronic pain sufferer in me is saying things that Q*bert would say.

Which automatically leads me to this scripture:

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45b

Ok … so if I’m speaking like Q*bert that must mean there are serious issues to be addressed elsewhere, perhaps I should look in my heart.

Because I am in pain today, I struggle to see my heart for what it truly is. But if I asked a good friend to remind me who I am, she might say:

  • you are a child of the living God who created you masterfully!
  • you are genuine and funny and you love people
  • you are transparent and people learn through your words and actions

Ok, so that tells me I do have a good heart and my problem today is my attitude.  Maybe if I pray for myself (like my friend Dee always reminds me to do), I can ask God to help me change my attitude.  In fact, I think I will pray directly out of scripture:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer!  (Psalm 62:6)

You might hear the words coming out of your mouth, so do a but-check … well wait, don’t do that.  (where are my emoticons when I need them?!?!)  In all seriousness, you can hear the words you speak but you can’t always see the meditation in your heart.

Do a heart-check.
Dissect it if you have to (friends are incredibly helpful in this activity).
If the forecast in your heart is cloudy with a chance of frustration and angst, I recommend you do the following things:

  1. Surround yourself with people who have pure hearts.  We tend to become more and more like the people with whom we congregate.
  2. Consider forgiveness.  Perhaps you need to forgive yourself or someone else … or even both … before you can dust off the happy places in your heart.
  3. Go to church.  No, I’m not kidding.  Today is Friday – that gives you plenty of time to research churches near you and seek out one that would be a good fit for you.  God is everywhere but sometimes being in a house of worship creates a direct connection from His heart to yours.

Once you’ve begun to address the cobwebs in your heart, you’ll find it much easier to appreciate life and learn to accept things like chronic pain that unfortunately can’t be altogether avoided.

If you need prayer about the current condition of your heart (or any other issue), leave me a comment – I absolutely love praying for people.

mend your wall

Today I did something that was very hard to do.

I addressed part of my wall that needed mending.
Let me explain…

For several years I have had someone in my life who I have really admired, but I didn’t always make the wise choice to respect her.  She is smart, witty, and outwardly loves God more than anyone else I had ever met in life.  And at one point in my journey, she was my boss.

Now, I don’t know what happens inside of us when we lack the discipline to keep jealousy and frustration from penetrating our hearts — but I clearly lacked it.  I started to feel attacked because she could see the vision of what we needed to do and I couldn’t.  I felt frustrated.  I lacked enthusiasm because my pride got in the way.  I hid it from her, but I wasn’t afraid to share it all with my friend because my sinful human nature needed someone “on my side.”  UGH – why do we DO that?!?! (See Psalm 64 reference below … and PS: that was totally gossip on my part which is completely uncool.)

What was happening, unbeknownst to me, was that I was slowly kicking rocks away from one section of the wall inside of me.  My “wall” is what keeps me from doing the things that I know will not bring any good to me.

“Wall” – also known as healthy boundaries, willpower, and courage.

When your wall is strong you can fend off fits of rage and jealousy.  When your wall is weakened you create a big hole, and much like a dog who knows how to masterfully sneak out of his yard, you start going to that weak spot as an outlet for your negative thoughts and feelings.  It’s like you’ve taught yourself “it’s ok to be ugly when I’m over here, because that’s what this spot is for!”  If you aren’t careful, you begin to congregate with other people who also use that weak spot in the wall to unload their negativity. I have had friendships like this in the past and it made me feel dirty after we were done gossipping about other people.  If you’re in those kinds of relationships try addressing how it makes you feel.  If that doesn’t work, it’s time to seek out other friendships.

Psalm 64 says that an evildoer is someone who plots with others to hide their snares saying “who will know? No one but us!” — uh yeah, about that.  God knows.  He sees it all.  So you aren’t fooling anyone but yourself.

It’s never ok to hang out in your weak spot because it’s comfortable there, and never ever because “your people” are there.
I’m just going to leave that hanging for you to think about…. “your people.”

So what do we do about it?

Recently in church we’ve been learning about David and how he respected Saul EVEN WHEN Saul was trying to kill him.  (1 Samuel, chapters 18-28) David had multiple opportunities to slander Saul and even to kill him, but every single time he would say, “yeah but, God anointed this dude and I respect God’s choices and God’s chosen people so I’m not going to kill him.” (obviously that’s my own interpretation – but I think the next bible translation absolutely needs the word “dude” in it)

DUDE … could I still respect someone who was trying to kill me?  Um, it’s not likely.
So why couldn’t I respect someone who cares for me and who has always wanted the best for me? Seems easy enough.

I realized I was mending my wall from the top, down.  I glossed over the real issue and made nicey-nice with myself by saying it wasn’t that big of a deal. In actuality I was avoiding attending to the foundation.   But guess what happens if you don’t have a good foundation for your structure?  Yeah, your walls come tumbling down.  So, I chose this morning to start at the bottom.  It was time to begin repairs on the wall correctly, starting with the foundation.

I called her and asked for forgiveness.  

Even though she hasn’t been my boss for some time now, it has been eating away at me.  I needed her to hear me say that I was sorry, that I was in the wrong, and that I was weak then but didn’t want to be anymore.

Was it hard?
Yes. Terrifying actually.
It’s never easy to admit you have been wrong, especially when you’ve grown so used to that weak spot that the thought of the labor required to rebuild the wall feels overwhelming.

But you know what?
It was life-giving.
It was a conversation filled with grace and forgiveness and prayer and sharing … and love.

I’m not “fixed”, but I am forgiven.

She forgave me and I prayed to the Lord my God for forgiveness as well.  And now, I have the first few stones of my foundation set in place to mend my wall.  Now I just need to keep it up and keep making wise choices.

What mending do you need to address?
What is stopping you?

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there’s a time to tear, and a time to mend.

Go mend your wall.
You won’t regret it.