Happy Birthday, Mom

I posted this as part of my 30 People series in 2009 when I turned 30. Thought I'd re-post it on Moms 60th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Clearly the first time I met Mom was July 27th 1979, although I was already pretty familiar with her it would seem.
I already had a big sister in the world and I was brought home to a single story ranch house in Clyde.
My mom stayed home with Sharen and I for the first years of my life and we played and imagined and swam until we were falling asleep on rafts in the backyard pool. She was an English teacher in her previous life. When I was 5 or 6 Mom went back to work, this time as a Children's Librarian. When she couldn't get a babysitter for me I would either go to Grandmas house or I would go to the library and "work" with my mom for a few hours. I was doomed to love reading and all things literary. I was an early reader and would haul stacks and stacks of books to a corner and just read for hours at a time in the library. There's a white noise website I sometimes listen to and my favorite noise on there is Library Lullaby because of those hours spent hanging out at the Bellevue Public Library with my mom.

My mom wasn't a perfect mom, but she was a great mom. Her imagination would run wild with us and we would play pretend all the time. When I played dress up she was the narrator to my story, she played Barbies like no one elses mom I knew. When Betty pulled me aside and told me how to ensure I wouldn't have to live with my parents I was so confused. I couldn't figure out why I would want to live with this shrill angry woman instead of my mom who played with me, laughed with me, and gave great hugs.
As it sometimes tends to happen I grew up and began to try to assert my independence. I was all sorts of messed up about my value in the eyes of others thanks to years of hearing I was a horrible nasty girl from a few adults that were supposed to love me. I believed deeply that it was inevitable that my parents would see that they were right. I had kept all sorts of secrets from them, not telling them what people would say and how they would treat me because I was afraid to hear that they agreed. They of course didn't, but I was a lost girl that was far to young to understand that. I would push back against them, daring them to leave me or to tell me that I was horrible. When they didn't I couldn't hardly stand to be in the same room with them because I knew that it was only a matter of time that I pushed them to far and they would leave or make me leave. I just knew they couldn't possibly love the ugly girl that I was inside and out. For years that was my deepest cut, my darkest fear and the lie that I just couldn't see past. There are times that it festers still in the deepest dredges of my heart.
Mom and I just didn't seem to know how to communicate for awhile, other than yelling of course.

As I started to come out of my teen years things calmed down a bit, we still argued, just maybe not as often. I went off to Youngstown and after almost two years decided to leave right before YSU invited me to leave. Mom was the first to tell me that a stipulation of my coming back home to live with them was that I must go to therapy. I had spoken to someone a few times at YSU and ended up finding a lovely woman in Fremont with a lot of cats and some birds in her office. Dr Barrett was the one of the first people ever, other than John, that I told about the things I was told growing up. She was the first person that told me, "Maybe the things these people said, maybe they're not true. Have you considered that?" I hadn't, and I immediately knew this woman was way off base. Clearly I had put on a good show for her and she didn't see how horrible I really was. So I started hiding things from her too. Playing the I'm ok you're ok game.
I started having panic attacks multiple times a day and went on medication for it. I became either hyper anxious or sedated like a zombie. There were so many times that Mom had to come get me at work because I was hyperventilating and couldn't drive. She would bring me home and we would get into shouting matches because I couldn't or wouldn't explain to her what my problems were. I had become so adept at hiding who I was that I couldn't figure out where I was anymore. I had fractured myself off into hundreds of ideas of who I though all these people wanted me to be that I started short circuiting and forgetting who I was supposed to be with what person. My brain felt like it was constantly shaking like a child throwing a tantrum, I was fairly certain I was losing my mind. This was April, 2000.

Later that month, on April 24th my friend was killed. Around 11pm Monday April 24th 2000 the phone rang at my parents house. When I answered it a woman I worked with at Whirlpool was on the phone. "I wanted to make sure you were alright, I heard someone was shot" I leapt out of bed and burst into my parents room. I told them I was going to the carryout, someone was shot. I ran out of the house in a tee shirt and undies and hopped in my car. My mom came sprinting out of the house pulling her own pants on and carrying a pair of shorts for me. She told me I wasn't allowed to go, I told her I was going. She got in the car and said if you're going so am I. We sped to the carryout and arrived just as an ambulance, with no lights on, was pulling away. It's difficult to explain the void that is left when hope leaves you when you see the ambulance lights are dark. The carryout was lit up, John's car sat out front. John and his mom had been sharing a car and for about 30 minutes I had no idea which one of them had been shot. The police wouldn't tell me anything, they would only question me because I was an employee. Denise's sister Pam showed up with her son and the police didn't want to tell her either. But I yelled at them, and Mom backed me up. When Pam heard the news she collapsed. Her son and my mom caught her and we all just stood there holding each other for awhile. I don't know how I got to Alaina's only that my mom was taking my car home because she needed to tell my dad what happened.
The next weeks and months were a complete blur.
I remember one night sitting in our living room crying and mom came in. I vomited out on her all the information and secrets that people surrounding Denise had been confiding in me since she died and I just couldn't hold them anymore, not on my own anyway. Mom wanted me to step away and not spend as much time over there anymore, but it just wasn't possible. Not being near that family during that time was like holding my breath. She didn't understand, and we argued about it quite a bit. When the carryout reopened for business I announced that I would of course be going back to work there. Mom and Dad were both adamantly opposed to that. We argued for days, knock down drag out fights about it. In the end, I told them that I had both of their stubborn streaks in me and I was going back. Bob (nicknamed Squirrel) was going to be hanging out and Rick, Denise's husband, taught me to shoot. Mom would drop in randomly to say "Hi" or bring me something she thought I needed. She was checking up on me of course, making sure I was safe and making sure there was always someone else there with me.
I moved to BG the fall of that year and there were times when I was sick that mom would drive 45 minutes from Clyde and bring me soup, or just sit with me while I stared, fever riddled, into space. Mom and Dad moved to BG in August 2002. I would go house hunting with them and was with them when they saw what ended up as their house the first time. They found Cedar Creek and dragged me there that fateful Christmas Eve. Mom drove over a Mountain Dew when I finally told her after months of sneaking to church that I had fallen in love with Jesus.

Mom and I would have weekly lunches while she was living in BG. It was a lovely time to catch up and just spend some time together. It was during one of these lunches that I yelled at her about her sister Betty.
Mae and John had both died by this point and there were some discrepancies about their estate. Mom had pushed it a little but was just talking through some of her frustrations with Betty and the way the estate was being handled. I yelled at mom. I told her that Betty had been pushing her around her whole life and why on earth doesn't she just push back. It had never been about the money, it had been about the fact that my mom and her family were given such a small percentage with no explanation. Betty tried to run a game and say that it was because of something horrible that my parents had done to Mae and John, but after over a year of attorneys and meetings nothing ever came out. Because it was a lie.
It was amazing watching mom through this process. She found a lot of herself in the fight and because stronger because of it. I had to give a report to their lawyer (whose name was Mr Rogers, how can you go wrong with a fella named Mr. Rogers!?) about the things that I would overhear as a child. I spoke for the first time to anyone that would/could tell my parents about the way Betty and Mae treated me but also the way they spoke about my parents. I told my dad first and he told me that I could never tell my mom. I did eventually though, and it was very hard for her but thanks to the trials of going through the contesting of the estate she was a stronger woman and handled it well. She said the thing she was most upset about is that she didn't protect me from all of those things. I told her she didn't know so how could she and she said, "I'm your mother, I should have known."
It was an amazing moment for me, a lot of the guilt I felt for keeping the secrets, the feeling that it was my fault and the suspicion that Mae and Betty were right all along were just lifted in that statement.
I'm by no means blaming my mom, it was just reassuring to see someone else as upset by it as I was all those years. Knowing that had she known she wouldn't have agreed with Mae and Betty, she would have tried to make it better.

In the years since Mom and I have had our ups and downs. Sometimes I get so frustrated with how we are different, how different we see things. We argue and fight but we also laugh and have long conversations about random things. It's a mother daughter relationship, isn't that how it's supposed to be?
Mom has taught me a great many things. She's taught me how to wear makeup and how not to. She's taught me how to cook and clean nd has given me a love of the written word that runs so deep. Mom has modeled for me caring for people even when you have to fight to do it. She always came back. Every time I pushed and pushed her away she came back. She fought her way through the battlefield of ugly words and accusations I threw at her if only to hold me and tell me she loved me even when I acted the worst. Mom has shown me faithfulness in being a wife that loves my father deeply. They met in the 8th grade at church camp, went to each others prom, dated through high school and college and married a week after my mom graduated. I tease them that they've ruined me for all adult relationships, but it's in a good way. Their relationship isn't perfect and they fight and make mistakes. But they love each other. You can tell just by looking at them. More to the point, they've ruined me for mediocre adult relationships. I don't want to settle, I'd rather be alone because I can do alone well.
Mom gave me an imagination to believe that crazy things are possible and that a good story is only as far away as the tip of your tongue. She's a hard worker and a good worker. Mom taught me the value of your time and effort and that if you try hard enough there is almost nothing you can't do.
I can't imagine having any other mom, even on the days that we argue the loudest. Weathering those years when I was so angry and hateful reinforced that she wouldn't ever leave and that's a great thing for a girl like me to know.



I've been crying a lot on my way to and from work lately. I don't know why then specifically. There's nothing going on at work that is upsetting me, in fact from what I can tell life seems pretty stable lately after several tumultuous months.

I think that deep down there are some strong (and therefore scary) emotions churning, just waiting to erupt. My tears alone in the car are like little earthquakes before a volcanic eruption.

Sometimes I can give voice to the emotions. Sometimes I have conversations with people that I believe are scary, dangerous, painful to have in real life. And I cry. I cry because even during the pretend conversations with people I don't have the words. Even in conversations I'm completely in control of because they're pretend I can never find the right things to say.
Even when I control the other persons words and parts of the conversations the other people always turn into bullies. They call me fat, stupid, and ask me why I'm always so ridiculous.And I still believe them.

I'm working on combating the lies I believe. The truths I've been taught and have taught myself are being challenged for the first time. The lies are fighting for survival. They're fighting to keep their hold on my heart and my mind and sometimes they still win.

I would love to think I'm working towards a place where I can have these conversations with people in real life. But....I also think not. Because as much as these people have said they want me to to tell them, as much as they want me to open up to them I don't trust they do.
As I've tried, in my own damaged little broken way, they can't seem to accept what I'm telling them and they just tell me to "figure out how to get past it already". And I wonder if they think I'm not really trying.

I know I should keep trying to open up to them despite their reactions, but I'm battered and bruised and re-experiencing some scary things that I've stomped down for decades and I'm just tired of trying some days.

So I cry in my car on my way to work. Trusting my big ass sunglasses to hide my tears and a tube of mascara in my purse to make my eyes presentable as I talk myself into facing another day.
Why am I feeling so guilty
Why am I holding my breath
I'm worried about everyone but me and I just keep losing myself

Tell me it's nothing
Try to convince me that I'm not drowning
Oh let me tell you I am
The Civil Wars- Falling


Those Days

I love this blog, where I got this post. You should read it.

some days it’s just hard to give thanks.

my eyes droop before i even leave the house, the chill in the air causes an altogether different kind of heaviness in my chest, and i drive in silence thinking of hurting friends and a fallen world.

these are days i begin writing a post and hit backspace about twenty times before either giving up or finding my rhythm.

today is one of those days.

do i have reason to be thankful? absolutely. a good friend got in a wreck friday night and walked away shaken and sore. my new position that starts in august is beginning to pick up steam with trainings and new laptops and excitement from students about instruction. i met with my sponsor yesterday afternoon and once again was overwhelmed by His steady hand keeping me upright since january.

but none of these take away the truth that i am just so tired.

i’m tired of hurting. i’m tired of crying. i’m tired of talking about it and i’m tired of working through it. i’m tired of my friends dealing with sin and i’m tired of other friends going through pain i wouldn’t inflict on my worst enemy.

and i’m tired with my inability to cope.

it all comes down to this: i’m not okay. and although i realize His ability to heal me, i know i am not yet healed. once again, i’m hit with the truth that it’s okay to not be okay.

i keep thinking of easter. in a few weeks, we’ll get dressed up and travel to church and sing songs about His redemption and overcoming the grave. growing up, i never realized the importance of the cross. i knew about it and believed it, but easter was more about bunnies and pastel colors and nice dresses.

the older i get, the more potent His death becomes. the power of this story – of Him reaching into dirty and digging into our mess and redeeming our deepest hurts – i need it today. i need to remember His ability to make all things new. my God’s in the business of restoration and this morning i feel like a need an extra dose.



Jake and Cody were here this weekend. We decided to just specifically sit around the house and hang out. During the course of the weekend we watched several comedy specials on Netflix.
They were pretty funny. I thought they were funny. But I also noticed that whenever I laughed I would look at the rest of the people in the room.
Then once I noticed that I was doing it, I couldn't help but notice I did it every single time.
I also noticed that when I would laugh (and inevitably look at the others) and they weren't laughing I wouldn't laugh as long, or if I would I would feel really self conscious.

Now, these people are my friends. They're my good friends. I know they love me and I know they care about me and I know they know I'm weird as hell and they love me anyway. So it doesn't make any sense but I also kind of get it.

I spent so many years believing that people would only like me if I was exactly like them. I'd been called weird and embarrassing so much I was convinced of it. It was either embrace it and take it to a completely ridiculous and over the top level or violently align myself with the person (people) I was with just in case.
It was (and still is) exhausting.

I'm working on figuring out what kind of girl I am, and more than that, believing in the kind of girl that God made me to be.
It's just that the in between space of "I'm in to far to turn back to the old me and I can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel to the new me" that is scary and lonely and sometimes really confusing.

But sitting around for hours with friends that love me even if they tease my oddity (in a loving and appropriate way) is definitely great medicine.


Five Minute Friday: Friday Friday

I think I'm going to start doing Five Minute Fridays every Friday...maybe.

Ok, the rule is to type for five minutes and post whatever vomits out of my fingertips. May God be with you all.

First of all, I can't get this song out of my head. I also think the girl looks like Indina from Wicked and Leah Michelle from Glee (not that I watch Glee but you can't walk around with your eyes and ears open and not know who she is right now)

Sorry in advance for getting the chorus stuck in your head.
I get to go home tonight! Finally done dogsitting for a few days at least. I'm super excited to go home.

Jake and Cody might be coming into town, plans are still up in the air because of a death in Cody's family but if they make it we're just going to lay around like slugs and be merry. I also bought a game for us all to play together. Thanks to my Geek Games peeps for introducing me to this funny story telling game.

I'm super excited about the birthday gift Sharen and I are giving mom for her birthday, but Mom has found this blog before so I can't tell you what it is until after we give it to her.

Whenever I refer to a gift know that I only type gift because I never know if it's present or presant and I'm too lazy to google and find out what the correct usage is; see also, too and to in my grammatically challenged repertoire.

Hmm, what else can I tell you?
Oh, I got contacts again after over a year of only glasses. My self esteem has improved by roughly 67.4%. I hate that I felt that way but glasses really made me feel dumpy and I decided I was going to make contacts a priority so I wouldn't slump around all the time anymore.

Alright, 5 minutes! Hope you all have a great Friday Friday cause you gotta get down on Friday. Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend weekend. Friday Friday gettin' down on Friday. Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend.


Yes, another dogsitting post

I just booked another dogsitting gig for April. I've already turned down 4 and asked someone from church to be my back up since I'd turned down so many.
I mean holy jeez, I can't believe this.
On one hand I don't mind it because the money is nice, they're easy gigs and momma wants a new master bath this year.

But on the other hand, I really miss my house and my ability to get out of the shower without dogs trying to take "drinks" off my calves.
I also miss not having dogs fart in my face and wake me up at 4am for potty breaks.

I just keep telling myself to get through May and then my weekends will slow down. I'm hoping that's still true when June rolls around.
In the meantime I'm going to instruct Pete to rent out my bedroom and have them make the rent checks out to ME. He can have the garage. But first, I have to remember who Pete is and where he lives because it's been so long since I've been there!


Velveteen Heart

I have mentioned before how much I love Alece and her posts. I don't even know the lady in "real" life but she quite often gives words to the cries of my heart, I think she is braver and stronger then she knows and all the lovelier for it.
I read the post below here among other amazing posts. All I could think as I read it was yes, yes THIS.

I remember so vividly our Sunday morning routine when I was a child. There was screaming and fighting and swatting and tears.

Always tears.

Like an unseen bully, the volatile tension would follow us into the car, its presence thick and heavy and loud.

I’d hold my breath, and silently beg for a ceasefire. The words “please stop” would turn over and over in my mind. All the way to church.

And as we pulled into the parking lot, there came the inevitable instruction: “You better put a smile on your face before we get inside.”

I’d do my best to dry my tears. Wipe my snot. Calm my blotchy skin. With my plastic smile crookedly in place, we’d walk into church. Together. A happy family.

And so I learned to live a double life.

I don’t have much of a poker face — my eyes always give me away — so I tried my best to be invisible. In the church foyer, I’d scurry away from my family as soon as I could. I’d walk close to the wall, stick to the outskirts of the crowd, avoid eye contact.

I became good at remaining unseen. Master of the phrase “I’m fine”. Proficient at simply being quiet. Skills I still excel at, even though I am desperate for different…

And so I live in the tension of my love/hate relationship with authenticity.

I despise artificiality, yet I find it strangely comfortable. I crave transparency, yet I cower away from it. I so deeply long for authenticity, but I am scared to death of being laid bare.

So I learned to be authentic in past tense. To speak of what I’ve overcome, how much I’ve changed, what I used to struggle with. But past tense authenticity isn’t really authenticity at all, is it? The present tense, bare-boned kind is vulnerable and exposing. Naked, with nowhere to hide. Just me, broken and battered.

Deep down, I want to be Velveteen-Rabbit real: threadbare and worn, and loved even more for it.

But I despise my own frayed edges, torn limbs, matted fur, missing whiskers. Afraid that if anyone really saw me for who I am, there’s no way they would love me… There’s no way they could love me…


In an attempt at present-tense authenticity, I don’t have a red bow to wrap this all together with. I don’t have a grace-lined ending or some nugget of Scripture that ties this all neatly together. Just an honest confession of my constant struggle to be really real.

And I keep thinking about that stuffed bunny who became real because he was deeply loved. And how I want the opposite to be true of me.

I want to be deeply loved because I am real.

Maybe not so much despite my flaws and failures and shortcomings… but because of them.


10 Things: I Never Thought I'd Say

I'm dogsitting and have been for the last 10 days (and still have 3 days to go). I've uttered a lot of things I never thought I'd say. Most of them involved humping and butt functions. I apologize in advance.
  1. There is a dead bird in the house!
  2. Why are you peeing on my purse?!
  3. Toby, quit humping your brother!
  4. Sophie, quit humping the carpet
  5. Cooper, stop biting your brothers neck. He'll go outside when he's good and ready
  6. I herd you! I herd you!
  7. I discovered the source of the mysterious poop smell. Unsurprisingly, it was poop.
  8. Give me my bra back, Cooper. It's not a chew toy!
  9. If you're going to fart could you not sit with your butt right by my mouth?
  10. Guys! Brothers don't hump! C'mon!


Amazing, because it is

I've been thinking a lot about sustainability lately. Not like, save the Earth sustainability but sustainability of leadership and vision.
I had a conversation with Cody the other day about leadership at their church and some of the awesome things about it and some of the slightly less awesome things about it.
I've also been thinking a lot about Washington Project and continuing to keep the goal and vision of WP and its purpose in the forefront. Ben and Greg have been talking a lot about the purpose of our church and the whole staff has been awesome about focusing the churches energy and attention towards the main goal and vision.

But then tonight I watched Secret Millionaire and one of the women that ran an organization the secret millionaire ended up giving money to said, "It doesn't feel amazing day to day"

Because that's sometimes where I lose my momentum.
I was talking to someone the other day and I was going through the whys and whats of Washington Project and it struck me that it had been a shamefully long time since I articulated that for people or even myself.

I'm a doer. I can get lost in tasks and getting things done. It's what jazzes me. But I need to keep reminding myself that the task means nothing if the message of Jesus isn't clear. If the fact that we're wanting to tangibly show people that Jesus loves them and they are not invisible to him is lost in the chaos of planning and executing the plan.

What we get to do each week through Four Corners and Washington Project is amazing. It's amazing that we were saved by this God that loved us so much that Jesus DIED for us. It's amazing that we are loved by a God that cares so deeply about us even when we were lost and completely falling apart hot messes He reached in and rescued us.
But it doesn't feel amazing day to day. Some days it's messy and complicated and full of relational complications.

I'm not sure how to tie this up in a bow today. The WP leadership team is reading a book together about not losing sight of the amazing in the day to day tasks and I'm frankly chatting with God a lot about it.
Because as I'm finding with almost every aspect of leadership learning to remember the amazing things about WP and leading is also helping me remember and focus on the amazing things about my sweet little life.

What are the amazing things you forget about your life and circles of influence?


Under Construction

There is a show on Friday nights called, "Who Do You Think You Are?"
It showcases celebrities searching for the family history. They usually select someone in their family they want to know more about and then research (with a big shout out to ancestry.com) to find out more about their family member.
It's actually really interesting in the dramatized for television sort of way (and I also discovered that Kim Catrall is British, who knew!?)

A few weeks ago I was watching the show with Pete and Lionel Ritchie was the celebrity featured. He was investigating what happened to one of his great (something) grandfathers. He ended up playing a huge roll in laying ground work for the Civil Rights movement and doing a lot of good. However, he also left his wife and was never heard from again by that part of the family. As I'm watching the show I just keep thinking, who cares? The guy abandoned the family so just forget him and move on. I looked at Pete and said, "You know, I just realized I'm really not nearly as gracious or forgiving as I think I am."
Because I was so over hearing about this guy that did a jerky and shady thing. He screwed up, that's it. Don't deal with it, don't address it, cut them out and move on.

It was a scary look into my heart.

The next week Kim Catrall was featured and she was looking for her mothers father. He had abandoned his wife and 3 young daughters about 60 or so years previously. The one daughter couldn't remember what her father looked like at all because she was just an infant when he left. The only photo they had of the man was a group picture with his face peeking out from behind a curtain in the house behind the group.  As Kim progressed she realized that her Grandfather was a bigamist who hid in plain sight. He was a stand up guy with a new family while his old family almost starved because he left them with nothing. She began to be openly almost hostile towards him and in the end found when he died and decided she had no need to meet the surviving children from his 2nd marriage. She was done with him.
In the credits at the end of the show it stated that her mother and aunts ended up contacting the children and beginning a relationship with their half siblings but Kim did not participate.
She was just my style.
If it gets sticky cut and run. The slightest sign of hurt being possible duck and cover. They mess up, chop them off like an offending body part.

Double yikes.

It's no secret that I struggle with forgiveness, both of others and of myself.
But I generally had this ok feeling about the amount of grace I offered to other people.

For so long I was the "it's ok, no big deal" girl and I was too far the other way. I wouldn't see the need to offer grace because I was the one that needed it since whatever it was that happened was likely all my fault anyway. Then I was the angry girl and the rage fed me and I was so full with rage that grace had no room to develop.
But now, I'm trying to level out. I'm trying to balance the emotions and the relational power so that I'm not a doormat but I'm not a bull in a china shop either. You guys, it's really really hard.

Because I have to be intentional with my interactions with people. I have to be purposeful when speaking to people so I don't carelessly wound them because I'm afraid. I have to stand firm in the belief that my heart is worth guarding that that I don't have to accept the burdens of others because His burden is light.

I am constantly overwhelmed with how hard it is to be grace-filled and forgiving to others, how much work it takes to fight against your natural desires while still maintaining some measure of self-value. (On a related and possibly future blog post topic I also struggle with the difference between completely non-existent self-esteem and not thinking more highly of myself than I ought)

I'm just a work in progress guys, and I'm under some pretty substantial construction right now.


On Weeds and Oak Trees

Last week I went to the Unleash conference in South Carolina.
It was a jam packed 2 days filled with 18 hours of car time and lots of giggles and napping.
I had no time to really look at or choose the break out sessions I wanted to go to until the morning of the conference. Since there were no blatant breakouts about outreach I chose the volunteer culture breakout in the morning and caring for care ministries in the afternoon.
The morning session was good, not what I expected though. They were mostly question and answer but the leader made a great point about caring for your volunteers. I was excited because one of her suggestions is exactly what Washington Project is doing for the Odyssea volunteers at church in the next few months. But by the end of it I was so hungry I was shaking so I was just ready to be out of there for lunch.

After lunch was the caring for care ministries breakout. They were mostly talking about benevolence funds, hospital visits and similar things, nothing really like what Washington Project is doing and barely a mention of any of their international outreach efforts. But the leader got up and he said he would open it for questions in a minute but first he wanted to check and see how our hearts were.
He offered up their care ministries volunteers to pray with us and speak to us about any struggles we might be going through and he also wanted to just talk about the state of our hearts.
He asked us if we knew, I mean really KNEW that we are loved and cared for by God not because of our performances but because we are sons and daughters of a King. He asked how the people we were surrounding ourselves with, the things we were exposing ourselves too were working for us. He talked about guarding our hearts and how it was so important to pull weeds the minute they started growing in our hearts.
Then he said it.
He said:

It's easier to pull weeds than uproot oak trees

Whoa. Did you feel that? I mean, it makes sense right? It's so OBVIOUS.
But sometimes I need to hear the obvious and have it slap me around a little.
Because I've been struggling with how now that the core of the issues have been identified it's time for them to all roll up neatly in a little box and *poof* go away. But it's hard work defining the lies I believe and combating them with the truth. I feel adrift and unsure of if the truth is really the truth even.
I realized in the midst of all this other learning and leadership stuff that my job right now (personally, not including you know professionally or in my role at church) is to uproot the damn oak trees that have grown from weeds that I (and others) have allowed to be planted in my heart and life.
The oak trees have always infected my life but now they are infecting every single aspect to the point where I couldn't function even and I'm taking steps to uproot them. I just need to keep working, keep plodding away and keep believe that I am valuable and worth it because I am the daughter of the King not because of what I do or don't do for anyone around me.

Perry also said during the afternoon session that we can't expect what took 20 years to break to heal overnight. That there will be people in our churches that take a lifetime to heal, and that's ok. My problem has lately been now that I know where the wound is (and believe it's a valid one) I just want to slap a band-aid on it and move on. But you can't uproot an oak tree in a few minutes so I'm going to try to stop trying to uproot mine in a few weeks.


I Grew

Some junk went down almost 10 years ago. As a result our family went back to the farm house. It was the first time I had been there in probably 5 years.
I was startled at how it felt to be there again.
I thought maybe I'd feel more powerful going back after a "win"
I thought maybe I'd feel sad because of all the death that had happened between growing up there and now as an adult.
I thought maybe I'd be angry because of how people were treated in that house.

But I just felt....empty.
I wandered around looking at walls that held the words callously flung from bitter lips. I sat at the top of the stairs where secrets floated up to my too small to understand ears. I touched the door handles worn smooth by hands that pushed the elderly into walls and I was empty.
The house held a body memory for me. Because the body remembers even when the mind slips into blissful oblivion.
I remember moments in spotlights of sun playing and coloring and digging holes to China in the yard. I remember jumping in piles of leaves and pretending I was lost so Ellen would come pee-pying for me.
I remember playing with my GI Joe tanks and Barbie Doll convertible car and I remember 100 brushes before bedtime. I remember ice cream sandwiches under weeping willow trees and imagination among rhubarb plants.

But I also remember the dirty nasty girl. The stupid silly girl. The you don't deserve this and you are a spoiled rotten girl. I remember the rhubarb plants and willow switches hiding me from the words of angry enraged women. I remember the mustache cup being chipped and her back, curved from years of work, slamming into the wall by the hutch. I remember the stories of how she didn't really love me she was just pretending to until she had a chance to kill me "on accident". I remember the side of the barn with the balls flying at my head while I tried to duck them. I remember thinking, at least I'm being included. I remember the totem pole and the jam-packed full out buildings and the way the lily pads hid things dangerous and unseen.

For the longest time I would only remember the first set of memories. I pretended the others didn't exist at all. Then he was revealed as a liar and I couldn't forget anymore, so I forgot the good and only remembered the bad.
Now, I'm beginning the process of combining the two. I'm working on grieving the bad and the abusive and still holding onto the good and loving. It's really difficult for this black and white seeing girl, much more difficult then I ever thought it would be.
But I feel the old farm house cracking open after what feels like years of being locked inside. I'm working to remember that it wasn't my whole world then and it shouldn't be my whole world now.
it took me by surprise
this old house and these old feelings
walked round and looked inside
familiar walls and halls and ceilings

where I'd dream and plan
every moment of sunshine
this was my whole world
it was all I knew
like the hull of a seed
this old house cracked wide open
as I grew
Sara Groves - This House


Working it all Out

I've noticed something about myself lately.
I feel the need to tell people who I am. Specifically I feel the need to tell people I'm a paranoid, hot, socially awkward mess.
I caught myself the other day in a conversation with some people I don't know that well. I mean, I know them..but I don't KNOW know them, you know?
I spent an inordinate amount of time parlaying paranoia stories and telling them all about awkward things that I have done.
I mean, if I really feel that awkward and embarrassed all the time maybe I shouldn't point out awkward and embarrassing things about myself.

I think I'm trying to prepare them.
So often I feel like I let people down and disappoint them and I think vomiting up all my awkward and embarrassing features makes me feel like I'm telling them from the start; "You better not love me, because I'll only let you down."

I don't really know what to do about it. It's definitely something I'm working through. But I've become so adept at rejecting love or friendship before it is even offered because I'm sure it will only be taken away from me in the end that I don't even really notice I do it anymore.


10 Things: Dogsitting Edition

I started a 12 day dogsitting gig today. It was supposed to be 13 days but they were flying through Tokyo and there were apparently some water issues happening that delayed their flight.
It was a JAM PACKED first day of dogsitting. Here are 10 things that happened since 1pm today:
  1. I came into the dogsitting house and realized that I didn't pack any pajama pants. I had to get groceries at Walmart anyway and this girl just can't turn down buying more cozy pj's
  2. One of the dogs is a Shetland named Sophie, she likes to herd anything and everything. She kept trying to herd me around the house. It was awkward.
  3. The owners ordered Girl Scout cookies and the Girl Scout came today to deliver the cookies and collect. When I opened the door Cooper, one of the dogs, ran out into the street, I ran after him in my new cozy pj's. There were a lot of neighbors around. Hellllllloooooo new neighborhood
  4. The third dog Toby refuses to be in the same room as me. Whenever I enter a room he is in he gives me an indicting look and walks out. I have no idea how I'm going to get him into the kitchen to lock him and the others up for the day when I'm at work
  5. I was letting Sophie and Cooper out into the backyard and Cooper apparently heard something and went bolting with 150% puppy energy out the door. He knocked Sophie over in the doorway and she fell down (just one step) and was stuck like a turtle on her back. She just flailed around yelping. When she finally right herself she ran to me and wouldn't leave me alone until I patted her down thoroughly to make sure she was ok...then she went and nipped Cooper on the hindquarters.
  6. I took me approximately 30 gazillion hours to figure out how to work their TV. It's connected to surround sound and a million AV thingamajigs
  7. Once I figured out the TV I collapsed on their super deep and cozy sectional and took the deepest nap. I am in love with this sofa, I want to marry it
  8. When I first got here Cooper followed me around and kept trying to hold my hand lightly in his mouth. It made me miss Amy (my dog growing up) who would do the same thing.
  9. Sophie has been glued to my side most of the day. She's so cuddly and sweet. The only exception to this is her noxious gas emissions. Take it to the other room!
  10. But the craziest thing that happened today is this: The cat Snickers is allowed outside. He went out most of the afternoon. I was walking past the kitchen window and saw Snickers skulking through the flowerbed. As I walked back past the window from the fridge I saw the cat with A DEAD ROBIN RED BREAST IN HIS MOUTH. OHMYGOSH But it was fine because the cat was outside and the dead bird was not inside. However, several minutes later Sophie and Cooper were at the door wanting in. I opened the door cautiously to make sure Snickers didn't get in and damn if that cat didn't zip zip right in with that DEAD BIRD. I quick blocked off the kitchen area so he couldn't get the bird into other parts of the house and set about trying to get the cat and dead bird out from behind the sofa. The dogs were onto the fun and were barking and chasing the cat who was growling with his teeth clenched around that bird. The cat finally dropped its prize and ran out of the room. I scooted the dogs back outside and went to find the dead bird, eyes wide open, in the corner of the room. I grabbed some plastic bags to pick up the bird and tried to figure out who on earth was screaming at the top of her lungs, because it was distracting. (Then I realized it was me and I just couldn't stop). I kept leaning towards the carcass to pick it up but kept screaming and jumping back. I just couldn't control myself! Finally I went and got bbq tongs from the kitchen and picked it up with those, and even then I was screaming at the top of my lungs. After I got the carcass in the bag I had to pick up all the feathers that were shaken loose. So traumatizing. 
I'm hoping the animals have gotten it all out of their system and the rest of this gig will be relaxing and simple.
Also, I am being haunted by those wide open dead bird eyes.


Five Minutes: I think I'm paranoid

Some of the blogs I stalk read do this and I like it a lot. I needed a quick quick quick post for today so here you go. Five minutes of Bethany's Free Association....

Sometimes at night when I'm driving I notice that a car is following me to long. I see that it's the same car by the shape of the headlights of the outline of the drivers head (yes, I notice the shadowy shapes of the drivers heads behind me just in case I have to testify later in court).
If they follow me to long I get very worried they are stalking me, waiting for me to get home so they can break in later and murder me.

So I ditch em.


I will take evasive action and I will swerve in and out of neighborhoods and parking lots until they aren't behind me anymore.
The scariest nights are the ones when I weave in and out of neighborhoods and it's several turns and they're still behind me. I hold my breath and almost start to cry I'm so afraid. But then they turn into their house and the garage door opens and I can exhale.

My therapist said one of my symptoms is that I'm constantly on high alert to anything that could go wrong or anything threatening. I'm not sure there was ever a more true statement in my life. She also said I have a hard time calming down.
On the nights I have to take evasive maneuvers coming home I usually will stand at the window or the door for several minutes, once as long as 30 minutes and watch for that car to come by, just in case they were evading my evasive maneuvers.

At my house I have a big front window and sliding glass back door. Usually I open the back door curtains and stand at the front door nervously glancing back at the back door until I feel calm again because they might have parked on the side street to break into the back door.

There you go, a creepy little glimpse into my paranoia for your Friday. Hope you're all having a great day!


Worry Wart

I am excited to say I'm at a leadership conference today. It was a last minute invite and I got the email at like 10pm on Monday.
I needed to make sure I could get the days off of work so I knew that first thing the next day I needed to talk to my boss.

I then proceeded to lay away for 3 hours.
I was so excited, like couldn't sleep excited. I felt included and as silly as it sounds I was excited.
As soon as my brain realized I was excited I started talking myself out of it.
I probably couldn't get the days off of work
If I did my boss would probably hold a grudge against me (even though she's not that kind of boss)
I haven't been feeling well, what if I accept and I get to sick to go, then I'll have disappointed people

As if that wasn't enough my OCD about social situations started clicking way at full force. Where will I sleep, what if I have to go to the bathroom (a lot of my anxiety is bathroom related, which is just weird to me) on the road trip and no one wants to stop. What will I talk about etc etc etc.

I tried to get my mind to stop, I tried to think of scriptures to calm myself down but I was going full force and it was very hard to stop.
Between that and not being able to breathe well I was a hot mess.

But, it was all fine. My boss ok'd the leave and acted like it was no big deal. I'm sure the ride was fine (I'm writing this before I leave) because it always is, these guys are fun and friendly and kind.

It's all fine, I just decided to preemptively lose 3 hours of sleep over nothing. You know, business as usual in Bethany's brain.


Bruise the Heels

Talk to me cause I've been talking to myself
Help me get these thoughts out of my own head
I don't believe, most days I don't believe
Mercy is true, it's hard to live with the things I do

So God bruise the heels we've dug in the ground
That we might move closer to love
Pull out the roots we've dug in so deep
Finish what You've started
Help us to believe
- 'Eyes Wide Open' Jars of Clay



I was terrified she would say there was nothing wrong and I was just a stupid dramatic girl. But when she validated and named the loops in my head and the words in my ears I kept trying to shrug it off.

She asked me to tell her stories, and when I did she labeled them with words that still feel inflammatory to my ears. I tried to tell her it wasn't really that. I tried to explain to her the way I've explained it to myself so it didn't cut so deeply. But she wasn't buying it.

I told her about the mustache cup and the wall and I was taken aback when again she used labels that felt dark and seedy. But I'm realizing they only feel that way because of the forced rationale I applied to dark and seedy things.

I'm realizing that I haven't trusted my definitions of experiences for a long time (if ever) and I've taught myself not to trust others. It's strange, it's sort of like re-learning how to experience things, like re-defining my day to day interactions with people and realizing I don't have to be afraid all the time.
I'm sure I'll try to push this off for awhile. I mean, I told her halfway through her explanations of the diagnosis that I wanted to get up and leave. But for now, I'm hanging in there and believing that things are going to get better, even if they don't get easier.


Leading Light

I didn't know what my favorite color was for several years. My favorite anything depended on what the person around me liked best.
I just couldn't find anything that made me happy. I didn't know who I was or where I was going or what I was interested in at all.
But then I slowly started coming around and finding bits and pieces of my identity and holding onto it inside. Then I started letting it show on the outside too.
But sometimes, I still don't remember who I am. I forget that I'm the girl Jesus loves.
So I'm trying to see the light in the midst of the dark and I'm trying to remember who I am. 
Child of all creation don't let the world define you
And if you can't remember who you are
Let these words remind you

On the path of the empty handed
He will speak to the heart of the abandoned

These orphan hearts (Will find a home)
Run to these arms (Be not alone)
Light is leading
Love will find us all
Love will find us all

So hard to feel the fires of home
When all we see is darkness
We forgive but not our own and grasp what's around us

Till the dawn starts to break around you
Let all the stars in the night remind you

These orphan hearts (Will find a home)
Run to these arms (Be not alone)
Light is leading
Love will find us all
- 'Love Will Find Us' Jars of Clay


The Root of All Evil

I decided at the beginning of the year to start balancing my bank account.
See, I can't be trusted with mainstream credit cards (the kind not attached to a cash funded account). I've had them before and quickly spiraled out of control. After 2 years of hard work I paid off the not small balance and kept the card but literally froze it in my sisters freezer.
Then things got tight, full time college student part time worker and expensive gas. Pretty soon, that little red card and I got to be tight again. Too tight.
A windfall occurred after much wailing and gnashing of teeth and I was able to pay off everything. My credit card, my car, some small personal loans and I was free and clear except my growing student loans.
I stayed that way until I bought my house a few years back, but even now the only debt I have is student loans and my mortgage.

This means if I want something it has to be cash. Which is good and really freakin annoying at the same time. But I've been playing it close to the wire and spending all I have all the time. I hear that with a house that isn't really a great idea because you know...things happen to houses. (my current prayer is for storm damage to my roof so insurance will replace it instead of me saving a daunting amount of money for a new roof in 3 years)
But I always feel like my money just flies out of my hands, there's just so much fun stuff to spend money on and so I spend it.

The first (huge) step for me was cutting out satellite. I just didn't watch enough TV anymore and as long as Pete was on board that would save $85/month. Every other recurring monthly bill is mostly a "need". I mean, I could go to a prepaid basic phone but I am on the go a lot and feel I can justify the smart phone bill I have, especially now that Pete and I are on a shared plan. But other than that my recurring bills are, student loans, electric, water, and basic gas, food expenses.
Now I'm working to track how much I spend on what to see what I'm wasting my money on and y'all....I'm mortified to say it's food.
Not even good food. Convenient food, bad food choices etc.

I considered giving up not giving things up for lent to give up eating outside of homes for lent (that sentence was intentionally confusing)
But in the next few weeks I have several dinner/lunch meetings and a mini family vacation that will involve eating out a lot. I mean, I could probably still do it, but well....it would be super hard and I would cheat so I'm just going to not do it. (Because when things are hard I just don't do them....I mean I'm in THERAPY people, let's not pretend to be surprised at my crazy)

However, the point of this post is simple. I have gone from not balancing my check book at all to balancing it almost every day. I earn way to much money for a single/no dependent person to make budgeting this hard. So far, it's working in small amounts of money accumulating in my savings account and bills consistently being paid on time for the first time in way to long. Hopefully I don't get bored/distracted/depressed/discouraged and quit, because it's nice to know what I have to spend and what I don't for a change.


Comparison Kills

A few days ago I attend several events in the same day. They were all with mostly people I knew and interacted with on a regular basis.
I remember at one point looking at some of them and wondering how they seem to socialize so effortlessly. At the risk of sounding juvenile they just seem cool.

I just feel awkward.
I felt so awkward that I went to the store and bought a completely new outfit for these laid back and totally chill events so I would feel less awkward.
But then people complimented what I wore and I spazzed out because I didn't want them to think I just "threw something on" and floated through the day effortlessly so I babbled about how I bought the outfit less than an hour ago because I felt so awkward.

I got some weird looks and some nervous laughter but most of the time I got, "I've totally been there".

I mean, when it's all typed out in black and white it makes sense to know that everyone else besides me does not in fact have it all together all the time. It sounds very ridiculous to think that I'm the only one that struggles, that I'm the only one that feels anxious when hanging around people I consider my friends for fear we won't have anything to talk about and my contributions to the evening will be less than witty.
All typed out, it just sounds selfish and crazy.

But I forget that it's not just me.
I isolate myself because I think everyone else has it together and has a firm grip on any given situation, especially social ones.
Because I forget that just because my internal dialogue is the only one I hear doesn't mean it's the only one that's happening.

It's far too easy for me to look around at people and see them having it all together for an hour or two and forget that anyone (including me) can keep it together for an hour or two. It tricks my heart into believing that I have to be perfect, that I have to always be funny, always be witty and always be fine.
Just another story in my continuing saga of believing completely untrue things, while knowing they are completely untrue.

What a clever enemy we all have that encourages these comparisons and tricks our heads and hearts into survival mode so we don't dare thrive.
Maggie wondered why everyone else in the world suddenly seemed so sure of themselves, and only she felt that every answer was the wrong answer, every situation a strange one.
-Anna Quindlen 'Onject Lesson'



A few weeks ago Sharen and I threw our parents a joint surprise 60th birthday party.
But the trick was, we told both of them that the party was for the other parent.

Mom told Dad she was having a purse party in order to get him out of the house.
Sharen and I told Dad that we were surprising mom with a cake at the end of the party so could he come home at 530 for that. Besides, it WAS the truth.

Nicole and her mom made 2 cakes and while Dad's was loaded in the house before he got there we had Mom and Dad by the door and had Marie bring in hers.

All went well, except dad came home early. We all hid in the kitchen while dad awkwardly talked to a few guests in the driveway and then wandered around the back of the house. He decided to "sneak" out to see if mom's purse party was almost done. When he did, we yelled, "SURPRISE!"
He recoiled, slapped his hand to his chest and yelled, "Not for MEEEEE!"

To which mom yelled, "FOR YOU!"

It was my favorite part of the party.
After dad and mom made the rounds a little Marie fetched Mom's cake from the car. Mom and Dad were by the door and I said here comes the cake!
Mom had forgotten in all the excitement that Dad's cake was already in the house.
When she saw her name on the cake we all yelled, "SURPRISE!" at her. Then I thanked her for working so hard to plan her own party. It was a riot.

Later their friend Andrew juggled some fire and I chatted with a guy about Washington Project and there was a massive clean up effort followed by hot tub time.

It was a lot of fun, but I slept really really well that night.


Good Things: February

February 1- Home after work and snuggling down under the covers for an early bedtime

February 2- Nice lunch with a nice friend

February 3- Cancelled cable!

February 4- Picked up Mark Twain's autobiography at the library on my lunch break!

February 5- Relaxing day at the dogsitting house, their sofa is comfy

February 6-Interesting morning at church and good digesting conversations after

February 7- A book I've been waiting for finally came in the mail. I was prepared to read it in one sitting, but....it was to heavy to plow through. I kept nodding along and mumbling "totally. YES. This!" along with it.

February 8- Yummy dinner with wine and Pete at the dogsitting house, then an amazing moment on The Biggest Loser that made me cry

February 9- Dinner with Bobbie and Justin

February 10- Finally remembered to transfer Mumford & Sons to my iPod

February 11- Today was made possible by the AMAZING album by Mumford & Sons. AMAZING

February 12-Played with pictures with my sister all day and clean sheet night!

February 13- Hooked up antennas to the 2 newest TVs in the house and found almost 30 FREE channels! Thank you savings of almost $85 per month!

February 14- The Kings Speech with some ladies from church.

February 15-First therapy session. Good. Hard, but good.

February 16-Wiped after being so transparent yesterday. I made it through the day. I also made one very brave choice today that I'm not sure I'm brave enough to follow through with.

February 17- Still a little wiped, feeling very exposed and over stimulated...just happy to crawl into bed tonight

February 18- Dinner with a friend clearing the air and finding our giggles again

February 19- Double surprise party for mom and dad. Lots of work but lots of fun

February 20- Relaxing morning at mom and dad's, home to watch some SNL recaps with roomie

February 21- Tater Tots for dinner, Cosby Show and She-Ra on the Wii. It was like the late 80s (with the exception of the Wii of course) all over again!

February 22- Veggie Pizza for dinner was delicious!

February 23- Made it to the gym this morning, first time in over a week

February 24- Family night! (and I might have laughed a few times at Glee, but don't tell anyone)

February 25- Church stuff = fun and exciting Also, geeky double entendres at small group after

February 26- Errands with seeester and clean sheet night

February 27- Good chat with my sister while Costco-ing and eating cheap food. Also, tweeting the Oscars. (My at home snarky comments are 36% less funny without a witness)

February 28- Goooooooood nap after work