Being Me, Bravely- Brings Joy. Even when I fail.

IMG_7085Not everything I try, works.

Like the time I tried to put a wall paper boarder around the ceiling of the tiny bathroom at our first house. That involved standing on a kitchen chair in a slippery bathtub. Then, holding up the boarder and attempting to smooth it- until it adhered. It also involved: the chair slipping backwards as I was pressing forward. Not a good plan. Epic #fail.

Then, there’s the time I went through 6 gallons of milk, trying to make homemade mozzarella. I ended up with a tasteless wad of goo. And could have bought a cow for the amount of money I spent on supplies not to mention, the time wasted. #fail.

I have gone through years of arguing with my youngest about staying in his bed. I tried bribery, I tried threats. I bought him a bed a few years ago. Nothing I tried, worked. I thought he needed counseling. (Or, that I did.) I kept sending him back to his bed. I thought I was being a good- tough mom.

He kept saying it was his bed. “It’s not comfortable, I always fall out.” Last week, I finally ordered him a new one. Guess what? He’s sleeping without any problem. No more waking up in the middle of the night. He wakes up refreshed. I was WRONG.

Sometimes, I write and post things and hear crickets instead of comments, after I hit post.

Sometimes, I submit gut wrenching articles and have them not fit the publishing calendar. (FYI: new writers? Always find out what your target publication is looking for before you hit submit. If it doesn’t fit- look at other avenues, blog it or save it for a future date or opportunity.)

Occasionally, I speak to a group and it doesn’t strike a chord.  Either they don’t get- or like, my jokes.  Or, they may not  find what I have to say particularly applicable. There are usually a few people just don’t like ME, in general.

Here’s what I’m learning: It doesn’t really matter if I fail or, succeed. It’s the being brave that changes me.

When I’m brave enough to put myself out there- to  be me, bravely:

  • I find courage- because I try.
  • I find peace- because I’m not pretending.
  • I find fulfillment, because I’m being and doing what I’m called to be and do.
  • I find joy- in the being.

I’m pretty sure God does, too. He’s the one who crafted me just as I am…. It’s in the trying- that bravery and trust are grown. It’s not in the success or failures…but in doing the next thing.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Psalm 119

“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. 74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,for I have put my hope in your word. 75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

Dear Lord- Give me courage to be me- bravely. Thank you for showing me joy in the BEING- regardless of the outcome. I love you lord. Amen.

**in the picture are 2 feathers- one black and one white. The black one came from MomProm. at #MomCon 2014. It reminds me that being brave in failure, matters. (I may or may not have had a few faux-pas during MomCon. I was beyond stressed and not at my best. But- I found out that just by BEING there- it mattered.)

Then- there’s a white feather, it’s from one of our bedroom pillows- a place that has become a daily exercise in bravery- as I take care of my husband in ways I never thought I could- and am learning that I can. #cancerstillsucks.

Being me bravely, in both failure and success- brings joy. Who knew?

Totally not me. Duh. It's the Iconic and beautiful-National Geographic Photo- click link for more

#A Mile in Her Shoes- In Which I order a Hijab and Worry about Watchlist’s…Confessions of a post 9/11 bigot.

Totally not me. Duh. It's the Iconic and beautiful-National Geographic Photo- click link for more
Totally not me. Duh. It’s the Iconic and beautiful-National Geographic Photo- click link for more

9/10/2001- Every time I saw my beautiful, veiled Muslim neighbors- Or, drove past the mosque on the corner by my house- I thought: “Exotic.  Reverent. Modest. Intrigued. Different and Beautiful.”

9/12/2001- Every time I saw one of my beautiful veiled Muslim neighbors or drove by the mosque on the corner by my house- I thought: “Terrorist? Jihadist? Neighbor? Friend? Foe?”

I hate admitting that I allowed the actions of an unknown- cray-cray few, color my view of my known, (at least) not any cray-crayer than me- neighbors.

But, I did.

I thought I was over the post 9/11 bigotry. I smile and wave at my neighbors. I rarely ever think that the mosque on the corner is a bees nest of jihadists. I almost never think the teenagers in the car in front of their house are up to no good. I did what I could to love the family, when one of my neighbor’s recently died.

So-I thought was over it. Until I placed a few orders for hijab’s and other outfitting for my work on the next chapter in my book. The chapter about what it’s like to be a veiled (Muslim) woman, in America.

First- I downloaded a great book.  That was fine. Really interesting, actually. I ordered it for Kindle. Then, audible. No problem.

Then, I started looking for an actual hijab. And honestly? When I placed the order I kind of freaked. It started with a little panic when I ordered a copy of the Q’uaran. “What will people think if they see this at my house?” And: “I hope Amazon doesn’t report unexpected purchases to the government like Visa fraud does with my bank…..”

It got considerably worse as I placed orders for actual head coverings, pins, scarves and Hijab-friendly dresses.

“If I click this button to buy,  will I end up on a government watch list?”  “Should I even be doing this?” “Isn’t this less than honest? I mean- I’m NOT Muslim.”  “Isn’t it offensive to dress as if I am? Isn’t that lying?”

It was a Starbucks like blend of emotion and fear. One pump of paranoia, one pump of what my Muslim neighbors might feel on occasion, and one pump (maybe three) of trying to talk my way out writing and even more so- of living this chapter.

Why? Well, let’s face it. This chapter is complicated. It is probably controversial. (Maybe not as controversial as the breastfeeding/ bottle feeding section but more so than the homeschool, public, school private school chapter.) I’m sure it will offend people. Islamic, Christian and “others.” (Yes, that’s a big category- but I can’t think of a better word right now- sorry:P)   I’ve prayed about this and wrestled through my motives. I’ve asked wise counsel and listened to them. (Mostly.)

My motive is the same for this chapter, as for every other chapter. To voice the bigotries I hold and have held, in hopes to hold up a mirror to yours. And to give voice to the experience of the women behind the bigotries and stereotypes. By stepping into their shoes for a short time, and more importantly- by learning the truth- from them. I am desperate to love others the way Jesus does and that’s kind of hard if you’re judging them in your brain 24/7.

I’ve learned it’s hard to hate and judge the people you know and understand and love.

So- I clicked the “buy” button. I waited for the packages to arrive. They did, while my husband and I were on a romantic extended insurance paid for vacation- in the hospital. (He’s battling ninja like- prostate cancer -the hospitalization was related. That’s a different chapter.)

My oldest son opened the packages. “Mom, I totally thought you ordered something from Hamas. Then, I realized the package said “Hana’s.”

Yeah, not the same. But you’d think it was by my reaction to those packages arriving. The truth is- wave after wave of freak out keeps hitting me..”What is the money I spent on this, really going to support? What if Secret Service shows up at my house? Is that black SUV really another parent in the after school pick up, or a surveillance vehicle?”

Some might be valid… (Except for the SUV. Duh.) But, as I opened the packages I realized the freak outs for what they really are- hidden and suppressed and contagious bigotries.

Hidden- because I really didn’t think they were present.

Suppressed- because that’s a nice way to say I’ve been denying them and acting like I’m above all that crazy.

Contagious- because I wasn’t always like this.  (Or,  saying I caught it from the media and our paranoid American culture is a nice excuse and feels better than owning my own crap.)

All of which, might be true to varying degrees.

And all of which make very clear that I need to write this chapter. If to for you- for me. Because honoring God by loving my neighbor, begins with being empathetic and caring. Not paranoid and judgmental.

I’m not quite ready to don the Hijab, just yet. I need to talk to some of my neighbors, first. That might be interesting…. here’s hoping they understand my cray-cray heart. (they’re used to me. See the above article.)

“Dear Lord- Really? A Hijab? Can’t we do this some other intellectual way? Like research and books? You want me to visit a mosque? I’m a Christian- For your sake… Have you totally lost it? I won’t be welcome there. Or, will I? Lord- you know I am conflicted about this chapter. I pray for you wisdom and direction and most importantly- that I can walk in integrity and honestly share what I learn- change my heart, lord. It needs it. I’m a jerk. Amen.”

I’ll let you know when the research ends and the experience begins. I’ll share tid-bits as I go-but the details will be saved for the chapter, of course.

If you’re Muslim, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this project. I’d also love your best resources and even more- I’d love to hear what your reality is like…. what’s it like to walk in your shoes? I can’t wear a Hijab for a week or whatever-and learn what it’s like to live as a Muslim American. I need to hear from YOU. (And I’ll be talking to my neighbors.)

Actually- I’ve read lots of rules about veiling but haven’t found many for shoes…. I MUST have proper footwear- of course. So tell me about your shoes, or, better yet- show me your #Shoefie!

If you’re a Christian, or “Other” I’d love your perspective too…. tell me what you think- do you have any questions you’ve always wanted to know about the veiled mysterious Muslim among us? Or, thoughts about me engaging in this chapter? How I should or shouldn’t?

Interested in learning a little?

Read this. Visit here. Watch some of these.

Ask and comment away! (With loving respect, of course.) And get ready for this chapter- it’s gonna be a doozy…I can’t wait. Or, can I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_7010

Love Hurts. Love Heals.

Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’IMG_7010s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

This tattoo was started a couple of years ago, while on a trip to help a dear friend. It’s my reminder to take every step I walk- in love. That’s the original piece. The lettering and the love birds.

You’d think that my near death experience while getting that tattoo would have taught me that love hurts. And maybe, it kind of did. (FYI? try to avoid getting tattooed while wearing a neck brace. Especially if you’re already blessed with an over active vaso-vagal response. You will turn funky colors, sweat, and have the fabulous tunnel vision that comes just before passing out- or you’ll hit the floor. I didn’t. But, it came close.)

You’d think that 2 weeks ago when I had the first session of that tattoo’s makeover by the amazing Cee Jay Jones- that I’d have had a bold reminder.

And when I crouched the same foot in the hospital bed.

And when I spilled hot Starbucks over it. (This foot has been though a lot lately.

You’d also think that after 4 years of fighting cancer alongside my husband, 25 years of parenting,  26 years of marriage and 25 years in leadership….I’d know that real messy- honest love can hurt.

And I think I did. But, I know, I know it in  deeper way.

Physically and emotionally.

Over the past month I’ve learned that love both hurts with empathy for a loved one in pain. So much that you hold your breath while they wince. So much that you shake when they shake in cold- or fear.

Over the past month I’ve also learned afresh that sometimes love hurts in order to heal. My husbands current care plan involves some painful procedures that will carry on at home. Performed by me.

While I’ve often teased that I’d hurt him if he didn’t behave- the truth is- purposefully inflicting pain on him has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m NOT doing this to hurt him, I’m doing it to help heal him. We both understand that, but understanding doesn’t make it less painful- just purposeful.

I also didn’t know how much physically caring for a loved one can hurt…. the caregiver. The truth is- My body is currently a mess. My neck shoulders and back hurt- from well… trying to take care of what we;’ll just call “business.” and from long night spent in a pseudo- comfortable recliner. I’m sleep deprived by one part worry, one part vigilance and one part hospital. (They like to wake you up to see if your dead. I suggest they quietly come in with a mirror and do the old time breath foggy mirror test… apparently there’s more to it tun that. I’m to complaining- I’m simply stating a fact: caregiving can be painful on many levels.

The truth is these are steps in our love life that we didn’t see coming.  Honestly, had God given me a heads up?  I’d have done anything to try to avoid it. And I would have freaked out.

Yet, here I am. On day 12. Discharge day. (YES! Finally! 12 days is way too long.) And the pain from that beautiful tattoo is in the progress of healing. Right along side my husband.

Healing- is painful. Healing is exhausting. It’s hard work physically, biologically and emotionally. So is love.

As I take the next steps in my life journey- I’ll take them with both the physical reminder to walk in love- and the deep knowing that that walk sometimes involves pain. Sometimes it’s inflicted in spite- sometimes in helping. Sometimes  through empathy.

Love is worth the pain. Always.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.

Even here. When love hurts.

Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of love. It might be the pain of empathy, the pain of loss, the pain of helplessness or, the pain of healing…..if you are- know that you’re not alone.

I get it- I care- and so does God.  He promises that someday pain will end.

4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

In the past few weeks, I can attest a new – that he is faithful to be with us in our pain. Tattoo- or otherwise.

Dear lord- I hate pain. I really hate inflicting it on someone I love. But -I thank you for being present in our pain, and for bringing healing along with it. Keep reminding me Lord, of your presence and your plan- to heal through this season of pain. I love you lord- and need you. I can’t do this on my own….thank you for being with me every pain filled step of the way. Amen.

***I promise to post a pic of the completed of beautiful rework of this tattoo. A lace background and more color for the roses is planned for once this heals up;) I love it even more- after this experience.. Cee Jay Inky Jones is creating on my foot;)

Unknown

Dear Ladies Room Users Everywhere: A PSA

UnknownIt’s day 11 of my husband’s hospital stay. Since things are settling down with him, and I’ve used more public restrooms than a truck driver, in the past month- I thought I’d take a few moments to write a PSA for Ladies room users everywhere.

Dear Ladies, Girls, Women, Chicks, Babes, Dames Insert your preferred choice of colloquialism for woman- here.

I’d like to discuss: Potty Hovering. Really. I don’t care If you hover. Good for you if you have the quads, actually. I’m impressed. what I’m not impressed with- is the disappointing surprises you sometimes leave on the seat for the rest of us.

Girls- I live in a house of men.  I expect drippage at home. It’s part of the deal. I don’t however, expect it in the sanctuary of the ladies room. really? I look FORWARD to using public ladies rooms. We chat, we travel in packs, we (usually) wipe down counters after we wash up.

Which is why the hovering leakers disappoint me, so much. What was almost a moment of quiet without dogs scratching at the door- or kids calling my name and rattling the door handle- and most importantly- without the necessity of doing the potty dance of holding -while I wipe down the toilet before I can sit down- is turned into a nightmare of dancing the dance of holding in the 12″ square of space for my feet in the stall, AND cleaning up your drippage, while I  try not to drop my cell phone in the toilet (come on- you’re all checking your email and Facebook in there- too. ) or set my purse on the nasty floor.

Really? Come on. I thought You had my back. (Side.)

Again- Hoverchicks- I don’t care if you hover. I mean it. I’m jealous of your glutes and quads.  But girls- we’re in this ladies room thing together. we need to come to a lady like compromise.  Either improve your aim, or clean up your own mess.

I’d hate to have to start a #ladiesroompottyshaming hashtag on instagram.

Besides, let’s face it. I know the truth. When you’re at home? You’re just like me. Complaining about every drip left on the seat by the boys……Let’s not be pots calling kettles black. (HA! Pots! Potty!)

Anyway-I’ll do my part as well. I will clean up after myself, and, I promise to have your back.  Yes, yours- every time you tuck your skirt into your spanx or, are dragging TP out of the stall. I’ll even warn you if the stupid toilet-cover thing you tried instead of hovering? is hanging from your backside.  I love you that much.

With love and estrogen-

The rest of us.

 

In which I learn that: I can’t, until I have to- and then: I can. Because Jesus- does.

IMG_6994“I can’t do this.”

“Ok. Maybe I can do this, but I could never do THAT.”

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said and thought those words in all their related-forms.

And yet, here I sit.  At my husband’s hospital bedside. (YES, FOR REAL. STILL.) On day 9 of a hospital stay we weren’t expecting. (This is the second hospitalization due to massive infection in the past 30 days.) For the record: Prostate cancer and it’s henchmen- chemo and radiation? REALLY SUCK.

I didn’t think I could make it through the first surgery. Or the second. Or, the third in a week. Until, I did. (He’s extra special.)

I didn’t think I could get through holding his hand during the post op wound care.  I hate seeing him in pain. Until, I did.

I didn’t think I could possibly WATCH the procedure. (We all know I’m squirmish. AKA: I have the unique super skills of having a vasovagal response at the drop of  a hat or, the glimpse of a needle.) Until, I did.

I never thought I could possibly help with THAT procedure. Until I did.

I absolutely didn’t think I could perform THAT procedure under supervision- Until, I did.

Why? Well- 1) Because, I have to.  They won’t let him go home until we can manage the wound care and pain levels in addition to his healing. 2) While there are plenty of rooms and food and bathrooms for my family to move in here. They frown upon dogs, and well- the wifi isn’t that great and, the rent is a little pricey. (Or so our insurance company says..)

Those are actually the secondary reasons why I can do this- and why he can….

The primary reason? Because: Jesus.

Yeah. It might sound ridiculous. You may not believe me. But, I know the truth. This woman who gags at picking up her own dogs poop, (and occasionally, during her own children’s diaper changes- once upon a time.) This woman who has fainted so often during ivs and blood draws that her husband knows to prepare for a catch- cannot do this. Not on her own.

There has been something supernatural here, getting us through it.

There is no other explanation. Not for the amazing people that have shown up- from surgical team to nurses and housekeeping- or the fact that I am nearly coherent enough to string words together into pseudo-sentences. Nope. That’s all beyond us.

My husband says the same. He’s been saying it all week.

This has been God.

We’ve just been doing our part. Which is: to take the next step. Do the next thing. Try. Even here. Where I never thought I’d be, and never thought I’d be able to function. Yet somehow- I can.

Again, because: Jesus. Jesus has brought peace to meet fears. Jesus has brought friends to hear our worries and hold us up in prayer when we;re to tired to even pray. Jesus has brought people of compassion to feed my kids, to call them, to care for them. (Yes, even big man children have a tough time with this kind of crap.) Jesus has sent messages of love through the words of family and friends. Jesus has brought strength to fill in our weaknesses.

Proof: I haven’t puked or passed out,  once. And at the moment- I’m pretty sure, that if that happened? Someone would scoop me up, give me a drink of water, and help me back to my feet, where I’d try to take the next step- again.

Because: Jesus, does.

I have no idea what you’re facing. I have no clue what your “I can’t” is. But, I’m here to say- that when you think you can’t—- and especially when you KNOW you can’t- ask and watch for God to show up- because then- suddenly or, not so suddenly- you CAN.

Because: Jesus- does.

Bravely. Taking the next steps-Even Here. Right along with you…. because this- is life.

#movember in which I don’t shower for days and learn more about infections and wound care than I ever wanted to.

I’m currently in a recliner, covered in a soft -as -mink, pink fleece blanket. There is a cup of Starbucks in reach. The cold November wind is whistling past the window. My husband is napping nearby.

A perfect fall afternoon. Except for: the hourly vitals checks, the 3x a day blood sugar pokes, the Iv antibiotics and pain meds. The surgical teams early morning visits, the blood cultures growing in a lab in the basement and the incessant beeping of alarms and machines.

Well… Except for all that and the monster in the room with us.

Prostate cancer.

Wait, you thought prostate cancer was one of those “you’ll die with it, but not of it” aka: “good kinds” of cancer?

So did we. Even after my husbands diagnosis in 2011 -we thought it would be a bump in the road.

And after surgery.
And radiation.
And hormone therapy.

It’s not a bump in the road. It’s a total life reroute that now involves chemo and all the bonus’ with purchase that affords. Like thrush, life threatening infections and yeah…hair loss. Which turns out to be harder than we thought, too.

The truth is: this hasn’t been what we expected. It’s a monster. A monster we’re determined to kill. But, right now? It’s a monster that’s got me torn between being here for my husband and being home for my kids. Wondering what the hospital copays will be, and how on earth we’ll manage carpool and chemo.

A monster that’s caused white counts to fail and infections to take hold of his body and our lives.

A monster that makes me cry in the bathroom and wonder how I’ll make it through the next hour, let alone the next month.

A monster that has me holding my breath and holding his hand as my favorite person suffers pain and indignities with courage and humor.

All while we have no guarantees that it will get better.

We’re blessed to have great kids and friends helping with everything from childcare to meals. Visits and necessities brought to ease our current crisis.

We’re blessed to know that God is with us even here- in our perpetual movember.

Not a typo. I know your calendar says November, but trust me. It’s always #movember to us.

What is #movember and, why do I care?

#movember is to men’s health what the pink ribbon embroidered blanket I’m curled in right now is to breast cancer,.

#movember is men all over the world, growing out their ‘stasches to raise funds and show support for people like us.

#movember is #mosisters encouraging the men in their lives to be checked, and who sit in recliners in hospitals all over fearing the same things I fear, doing the next thing they never thought they’d have to do- in the name of love.

Because cancer sux. Because men matter. Because there is no “good kind” of cancer. Because the reality is that men (yes,young men like my 48 year old husband) die everyday due to prostate cancer.

I know. Because I’m here. Right now. Hoping and praying he’ll live.

#movember isn’t just moustaches. It’s a movement to kill the monster.

Donate. Get checked or make the men in your life get checked. Come along side those in the fight of their lives.

Grow a moustache. Order a t shirt from sevenly.com or rock your movember Toms. Www.toms.com do something.

Talk about the unspeakable. We’re finally
comfortable with saving the boobies and tatas’ it’s time to save the prostates and testes, too. (Not the same as prostrate. Just sayin. Google it. Learn what it is and does. ) it’s time to kill the monster.

And do me a favor- pray for us.

Sorry for the lack of proper links. But writing from the fifth floor between med doses has me a little less than at my best. Which is exactly why you need to know:

We are #movember.

IMG_0084-0.JPG

Scarily Brave. In Which I do What Doesn’t Make Sense- Because It’s the Right Thing to Do

“For such a time as this.” The words were spoken to Esther centuries ago…… and they’ve been moving me forward through fear and insecurity for years.

Nudging me. Step by step.

Somedays the words are whispered in response to my prayers- others-they are loudly proclaimed while I put my hands over my ears, close my eyes and pretend not to hear. (Why yes- I am a giant spiritual toddler. Of course. Thanks for noticing.) I’ve even had them handed to me at moments when I felt they were the least true.

IMG_6740

My typical response?

“Me? Called? To this? Now? God.. You’ve lost your mind. This makes no sense at all. Especially not now. And- let’s face it. I’m no Esther. Somedays I’m not even sure I’m a Tracey. By the way- did you forget about the crazy that is my life? Your clock is off. Now is not a good time.”

Yet, here I am.

Doing the next thing. Even though it makes no sense.

Why? Because I can’t ignore the nudge any longer.  Because: there are too many arrows pointing me in this direction-now- regardless of how sensible or non-sensical it is.

So yesterday- I pushed my polished book proposal out of the nest of my laptop and to the inbox of a potential agent. Today, I’m watching to see if she takes flight.  (The proposal, not the agent, Mary Poppin’s is all booked up. I had to find someone better.)

This is that moment in between when you hold your breath and wait. The moment between flight and falling.

This is the  moment where faith is as tangible as fear.

This is the moment where bravery is born.

When you take the next step- not knowing where it will lead. Even though you’re scared.

One of my heroes said it this way:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  Nelson Mandela

Here’s to conquering fear.

Even here.

What are you doing scared today?

  • Letting your child go around the block for the first time?
  • Drive?
  • Applying for that dream job?
  • Sitting through a treatment that could harm or heal?
  • Creating?
  • Trying a new recipe? (Hello- I feed 5- that takes bravery.)

 

 

IMG_6289

In Which Needles and Ink Turn Ashes into Beauty-

IMG_5206Confession: I was a bigoted needle-phobe.  I had issues with both needles and tattoos. (If you want to call passing out when I get blood draws, IV’s or, shots a problem…Bonus TMI: my husband says I make weird noises when I pass out. Apparently, I’m entertaining. )

So how on earth did THIS happen? Well- I started a journey a few years ago to get over my bigotries, just one of which was- people with Tattoos. Yes. Really.

I know. It’s 2014. I never pretended to not have more issues than the Wall Street Journal. Anyway- I thought tattoos were um… well-de classe’ would be the nicest way to put it. Trashy might be more accurate.

Then I  saw a girl at the nail shop. And after totally writing her off as a hooch for her tattoo at a glance…(Okay- then I was staring and possibly glaring.)  I realized her tattoo was the tiny foot prints of her infant. Honestly? It was beautiful.

And I REALLY wanted to know the story behind it. However- I’d missed my chance. MY staring and glaring and judginess didn’t go un noticed. when I tried to talk to her- I got the Elsa from “Frozen” treatment.

I decided that day to get over this stupidness. More than that- I wanted to have a visual reminder to not judge again. And a point of connection- a commitment to reach out and love  those I’d been so judgmental against.

I had no idea that first tiny tattoo I got on vacation in Hawaii- (Never do that, btw. Always research both your shop and artist.) would make such a difference in my life.

Sure- it gave me a reminder. It gave me a point of connection. All of which sounds kind of calculated and weird. But when I got home- I realized I wanted the piece re-worked so it could be better recognized. (My first piece was a tiny branch with a nest and 3 eggs and some blossoms. So small it looked like a spider web from eye level. But it was very meaningful.)

Which is when I met Cee Jay Jones. I totally believe meeting Cee Jay was a God thing. We connected right away. She turned my spider web into something beautiful. Something that shares my faith and family without being all screamy.

I had no idea that getting that piece re-worked would lead to a life changing event.

More than getting over my bigotries.  (Which it has. Now I see ink as just another way people share their stories and messages. I put mine on paper- and the internet- others put their on skin.) It’s changed how I feel about: myself. Who knew?

Fast forward to a few failed neck surgeries- and I’m left with what I saw  as a horrid scar. Up the back of my neck. I’m a short hair girl. NOT a good look.

Kids asked questions about it. It creeped them and me- out.

I went to Cee Jay for help. Cee Jay turned what was ugly into something beautiful and meaningful. She put the “seal” of completion on that part of my journey by covering my scar- with my story.  I don’t feel ugly. I love that it peeks out of my collar and shows some sass. I love that instead of asking abut my scar- people ask about my ink.

I also love the surprised look people get when they see a back piece on a conservative Christian Soccer mom.  “Wha?”

I love that the first comment I got on my first tattoo was: “That’s not sleazy at all.”

WHY? Because it’s not just my bigotries or stereotypes that have been shattered.  So have my husbands. He now sports a Cee Jay created eagle with bacon in it’s talons on his shoulder. A reminder the when we wait on God- we soar. (With a side of bacon. Because: bacon.) And many other people who see and ask about, my ink.

After hours and hours in that tattoo chair- I no longer freak over every needle related medical thing. (De-sensitization- I has it.) I also gained a good friend. Someone I have more in common with than just- ink. She’s more than a tattooist- she’s just plain incredible. A mom who works her butt off to tell people’s stories and create art. On skin.

She’s also a woman in what can be a pretty brutal -man’s industry. A roller derby a**kicker. A health nut. A woman of compassion and integrity who I am proud to call friend.

Someone who’s changed my life by sharing hers- and her talent.

Today- I want to invite YOU to help change HER life. Cee Jay is an award winning Artist who’s been on TV program’s and is working on a hysterical and terrific book project.

She’s also opening a new shop- and needs YOUR help. Our help.

To open this: 2057244_1414168649.673

 

 


So she can keep doing this- 

Making beautiful art that changes lives and is a reflection of the person who wears it.

Yup- Grace and Mercy, Abide- Even Here. When ever and where ever I am. Because: He is. IMG_6289

I hope you’ll consider clicking to help her build her new shop. You never know who’s life she’ll touch next.

Follow Cee Jay on FaceBook- and you’ll be able to watch your part in building her happy place- Happy Clam Studios- in action.

 

 

betwixt and between

A Mile in My Mismatched Shoes. One foot in a Nightmare, the Other in a Dream.

This is not where I’m supposed to be today. I’m supposed to be on some lovely beach in Hawaii. But: cancer happened. In a big nasty, scary way.

We thought we had things all planned out. Chemo 3 weeks ago- meant my husband should have been in the best part of the chemo cycle to go to Hawaii. Except- we got through the first week after treatment and he didn’t improve.

Instead: He felt worse. Then, he found some weird streaking around his chemo site. Finally, he spiked a temp.  All of which led to the fun cascade of events that happens when a cancer patient gets sick. Emergency calls to oncologist led to a trip to the ER. Where they put us straight to the head of the line- and in a private protective room. Because his white blood count was 1. (Hint: fast pass in ER is not  good sign.)

That was last Tuesday. We held out hope that maybe with some IV antibiotics he’d bounce back and we could still make our Thursday morning flight. (Denial. We had it.)

Not so much. Instead of Hawaii- we spent five days in the hospital.  I’m glad he’s still alive. (And that I am, too. Those recliner chairs in the hospital? KILLER. FYI: If you spill your entire giant Tervis cup of water on those vinyl chairs- it will drain straight to the floor and totally make it look like you pee’d yourself. Possibly several times. )

He’s finally feeling better.  (So are the rest of us-that was disappointing, scary and rough on the whole family. ) We may have missed Hawaii- but we headed out to our cottage, yesterday. It’s near enough to the hospital that we can be there without a problem.

Let’s hope we don’t have to.

If you ask “So- how are you?” I’d answer with this picture. Because that’s exactly how I feel.  My book proposal is about to go out into the world for it’s solo flight, we’re staying at the cottage  on a lake of our dreams, and- my husband is fighting Prostate cancer for his life.

One foot in a dream, one in a nightmare.

I can’t deny the nightmare. The brutality of cancer is irrefutable. The pain of the loss of his beautiful head of hair is harder on all of us than we expected. Missing out on Hawaii- sucked. Tears were shed. Many while hiding in the hospital bathroom. Seeing him unable to fight off an infection due to side effects of the chemo he needs to live? Torturous. More tears. Lots of tears. Lots of prayers.

I also can’t deny the dream.  Even here- God is present. Even here-we’re not alone. Friends surround us with love prayers and meals and help with whatever we need. Our family clings together with hope.  I am right now- sitting in the provision of God- our little shelter in the storm of life- our cottage. Something I know is both a dream and an extravagance.  (Financial ducks in a row or, not- I still feel a twinge of guilt over having a home and a cottage when I know that others are homeless, hungry and worse.)

I know we need this place. We don’t deserve it…… but we have it. Grace is like that.  This place reminds me of that.

So here I am-  one foot in a dream, the other in a nightmare- taking the next steps. Trusting. Hoping. Fearing. Struggling. Wrestling. Excited. Even here. Thank you for walking beside me.

betwixt and between

You dripped Brave- girls...

Dear Moms: You make me brave. #Momcon #MOPS International

IMG_6759Truth: I left for #momcon feeling a mixed bag of emotions. They varied from anxious and afraid to excited and full of expectations and hope.

It was hard to go. I left my husband for the first time during his chemo treatment. I left a 12 year old whom I know is struggling with anxiety. I left college boys who are adults- but still my kids- and who are still affected by all the crazy, that is our life.

It was also -hard to leave #momcon! YOU inspire sister, mom. your stories keep me passionate about MOPS. Your experiences challenge me to grow in compassion and bravery. Your worship ushered me closer to Jesus. I arrived with an empty cup- afraid I had nothing to offer- and I experienced the miracle of the oil jar.

Somehow— each time there was a point of connection and divine appointment…God poured in and through me…it came from two sources- God and YOU.

Yes, really- YOU.

  • The mom who left her nursing child.
  • The mom who brought her nursing child.
  • The moms I prayed with.
  • The mom who saved change for a year-to pay for her trip.
  • The mom who came alone.
  • The mom who traveled far. The mom who flew for the first time.
  • The moms who bravely drove after a tragic accident.
  • The leader who came, and didn’t feel adequate to lead. (for the record neither do I. I’m learning I don’t have to be. God is. )
  • The leader who came even though her group and team is struggling and they don’t know what to do- or how to get through it together.
  • The pregnant mom.
  • The mom with cancer.
  • The mom who beat cancer.
  • The mom with morning sickness.
  • The woman facing health issues. (earthly bodies: can really suck.)
  • The mom facing the shame and doubt.
  • The teen mom.
  • The mom at home- brave enough to stay home because she knew that’s where she needed to be.
  • The mom watching the live stream- YOU inspire me to find a way.
  • YOU inspired me.Yes you.
  • All of you. Seeing you worship- together-  across denominations, across social boundaries, from across the country and around the world- I found strength in your hopeful presence.

I found holy beauty in the moment when we shared our fears and insecurities. (One word? We’re moms we don’t do one word.) When you spoke those lies and heard the truth.. I heard Jesus whispering truth in your ear and in mine.

I found joy, as we laughed together at the crazy that is mothering and being a mom.

I found renewed purpose in knowing I am called to love each of you- and every mom I meet.

I found comfort in knowing- I’m not alone. In my insecurities- in my fears- in my hopes and dreams.

I remembered what I’m supposed to forget. (The former things.)

I remembered what I’m supposed to remember. (Who’s I am.)

I found the stream in my wasteland. YOU are part of it.

We are in this holy mess of mothering- together.

We are called to be brave enough to share our hope. We are called to be brave not because we are brave- but because God makes us brave. Together.

As a Board member of MOPS International, as a Mom, as a leader- I  want you to know- you matter- you make a difference- to me- and to thousands of others. Keep it up.

As I walked through the hall #MomProm- I found feathers everywhere….and all I could think was:

“Girls- you’re dripping with bravery. Go- do your thing. I’m with you. So are the rest of your sisters- more importantly- so is the one who created you.”

I left scared-I came home: braver. Thank you.

Be you- Bravely. So will I.

Together- we’ll change the world.

“Dear Lord- thank you for your presence- your word to encourage your people to love and your sacrifice to redeem- all things. Lord- make us brave- help us. Walk with us, carry us.In Jesus Name- amen.”

What’s YOUR brave? What are you facing that’s stretching you to go beyond fear and insecurity? Let’s talk about it in the comments…

I’ll go first:

My biggest braves right now, are:

  • Facing my husband’s advanced Prostate cancer. Today is Chemo- round 2.
  • Parenting 3 very different sons-2 who are adults-and one who’s a pubescent powerhouse- uniquely with grace. love and wisdom.
  • My book proposal #amileinhershoes is in the final stages of preparation before going out to agents and publishers… honestly? It make me equally nauseous to think about the risk of rejection- and the risk of acceptance. But not as sick as the idea of NOT trying. That’s not gonna happen. I have to do this. The rest is up to God.

I’m doing it all- anyway. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if I’m scared. Even if I’m not adequate.

Because: God. And- because: you.

Because God is enough when I am not.

Because-You dripped bravery and I picked up some of your feathers. Thank you. (Literally. I brought some home.)

There-I showed you mine- now it’s your turn: Show me yours.  What’s your brave?

Where I write about what it's like to walk a few miles in my shoes and the shoes of others….

%d bloggers like this: