It’s Everything and Nothing ALL in one Post

So what does one write about when there is too much and not enough to write about all at the same time?  I have over 2 dozen half posts started, but not certain I have the energy or time to sort through the emotions and deep thought it takes to masterfully craft a creative post.  Then I was reminded of a friend of mine who says that a blog is supposed to be an account of what is happening now.  What are the things I am thinking now in the moment, kicking around the corners of the mind at this particular time.  And THEN I start to get overwhelmed with all the different things that are kicking around my mind.  So maybe in an attempt to find clarity and cohesive thought a list might be in order (yes I am a list maker, it has served me well over the years, so I do it often):

I am in Sacramento on a work trip, so there are all the TO DO’s wrapped around work, plus the stress of my boss arriving on Tuesday, Go-Live (where we change software systems), Political hub-bub that comes with Regional People on-site.  Being put on the spot for all challenges and issues and questions and hoping upon hoping I did a good enough job with the training that it KINDA sticks enough for the people to do their jobs… YEAH NO PRESSURE.

I am visiting friends and their 2 kids, which is fun but at times I feel I’m in the way, not knowing if I’m contributing enough or spending enough time with them since there are parts of my vacation that I like nothing more than truly being lazy and brain dead.  It has almost become a thanksgiving tradition to do nothing and accomplish nothing; but I don’t know if that is a throw back from my student days where I would half believe I would catch up on school work during these four days… all the while being pressured to just HAVE FUN or veg.

Financially, I made a serious boo boo and paid my bills, sounds harmless, but lets just say my reimbursement check may have been “processed” but my bank hasn’t seen it yet so it might as well not exist.  OOOPS Silly Dave Ramsey, getting me ALL excited about paying my bills.

Food is always a fun topic, but for some reason I just can’t quite get my emotions to tell me the truth.  One minute I’m in complete control and the next moment all I want is 5 kinds of fast food RIGHT NOW!!! I thought I survived Thanksgiving fine, because I didn’t do sweets and I thought I kept my portions relatively in check; but the scale corrected me and it was a heart wrenching, depressing blow to my ego.  As a result Friday sucked and Saturday isn’t looking much better.  Dang it why does food have to taste so good… all the wrong kinds.

Positive health note: I went for a 1.5 mile walk today and it was easy.  I used my rain coat because it decided to be a GLORIOUSLY rainy Oregon Day in Elk Grove.  But it made walking easy and I had lovely time and it wasn’t hard and I really TRULY enjoyed the time with the iPod and my “driving” mix.  Thank you Lisa for the INCREDIBLE idea of finding songs that make the body MOOOOOOVE!!! So for the record that would be 3 times I have exercised on this trip, which is more than I have done in over 5 months.  SO THERE TURKEY DAY!!! 😛

I have been doing my bible reading just about every day and even though it is not quite the emotional high I want it to be, I am doing it.  I have been reading my Divine Mentor book and keeping on track with the meetings and discussions.  I have been praying and taking quiet time with God and not letting the television run all my quiet time.  Although I have had to fight my chatty Kathy tendencies to make that quiet time exist also.

I am away from my new community and they are having all these fantastic events that I get to hear about through email, yet I am a whole state away.  I miss the interactions and laughter that spending time with them generates.  I am hoping that I will not be forgotten (insert fake sniffle here) and that when I return it will all be the same but different.

Finally, I have been conversing with my X (yes that would be an ex-boyfriend from over a ZILLION years ago).  It’s been a roller coaster of sorts, but for some reason I’m still engaged in conversations.  Some how some way were are bringing out the best and worst of each other during our conversations.  But the more we talk the better it gets, and just when I think this is it.  This is one more chance around the merry-go-round and I AM DONE, something cool happens and it changes.  Hmmm interesting.  Yet I think we have finally reached a more grounded friendship conversation style more focused around life and God and less about US and relationships.  THANK GOODNESS.

So there it is a post about everything and nothing all at the same time.  Enjoy!


Comfort and Courage – Whose the Source?

One day, I found myself imaging myself kneeling before my God as he was the King on the throne.  I felt unworthy, undeserving almost like I shouldn’t even be before HIm.  At that moment Jesus knelt beside me, took my hand symbolizing that he would walk with me to face everything I need to face.  Whether its’ God, boys, bars, boss, unemployment, emotions, conflict, isolation, confusion, conflict, uncertainty, or lose.  It brought me heart-felt comfort, a remembering of how much I missed his companionship.  I saw him in various places in my life where he had been there as a source comfort and courage.  As I began to embrace these thoughts and images, the more real and alive he became.  He was no longer just an image in a painting, he was no longer just a good idea, or the concept of man who once was. 

There have even been moments I see him sitting in the passenger seat of my car.  Just as I find this confidence from my life experience, I am finding that my courage is completely dependent on how close to me I feel Jesus is.  If I cannot picture him in the situation I am in, I have to ask myself why?  Where is he?  What have I been doing that has caused me to forget to put him right smack dab into the middle of my every day? 

A friend of mine shared with me a word picture that spoke to my confusion and chaos so clearly, it reminds me to look at where I am and ask have I ran past Christ.  He shared that often times (most of the time) we as Christians, get busy doing what we think we are supposed to do.  We rush into situations, run fast into the doing of life, and running of ministries or pushing ourselves into a busy frenzied; but then on Sunday mornings or on those times when we feel the most in despair, “OH GOD where are you?  What is your Will? What do you want me to do here I am so confused and nothing feels right.”  And it is in those moments when we need to stop and look around.  Look at where we are and find out where is Christ.  Have we gotten so excited about our own ideas and plans that we have literally RAN RIGHT PAST CHRIST.  He was standing barely one step in front of where we were and asked us to join him.  That if we would just stop, sit, spend time, ask questions, and listen to his voice; we would not only KNOW him better, but we would be in the place he wanted us. 

With my do, make, create, accomplish, fix personality and over-compensating behaviors; it is so easy for me to get lost in my own plans and my own desires.  But after hearing this idea, I am trying to continually ask where is Jesus?  Is he by my side, am I spending the time with him to ask my every move questions?  Or am I so wrapped up in my own plans and purposes that I am in stress, chaos, drama, distress, and depression.  So in my mind, it has been so helpful to imagine him as a real person sitting with me, standing next to me, and at times hugging me as I ponder my purpose and position in life. 

Truly surrendering to his will and his timing in my next decisions has brought not only a deep source of comfort, but an incredible amount of courage to try things that my psyche has always been afraid to do.  Things that on my own history, up bringing, emotional baggage, and needy tendencies would fall apart.  But I don’t FEEL that at all times.  I am starting to be inspired with Christ’s power and courage by walking where he walks, and asking him to be with me as I do the daily grind.  To sit in my car and listen to me figure things out.  To be with me as I read the word and ask him those silly debating questions, I stumble across when there is a piece of the Word my brain just purely rebels upon reading. 

He really has become more of a companion, than just a bible story, ancient historical figure, or future figure head.  There are times I still get lost, distracted, and out there by myself; but my hope is that I will remember how his life, touch, comfort, and courage can resolve much more than my knowledge, skills, and experience can ever touch. 

There was a time this year, that I had been idolizing this boy and leaning on him to be my comfort and courage, I realize it was unfulfilling and unreliable.  I believed in my loneliness that I needed and wanted a real person to listen to me.  I needed someone who is with me all the time, talking back, and telling me the great things about myself.  But I must remember MAN (and woman) will always fail me; and as long as I look to the people of this world to satisfy my longing to be loved, I will be incomplete.  I will have highs and lows, all being tossed by emotion and infatuation; and while it will last for seasons of pleasure.  It is not complete, it is not stable, it is not Christ’s perfect plan.  I know this lesson, I have learned this lesson.  But when I make the mistake to put my burden of my emotional happiness on 1 person, I am setting myself up again for the ultimate in disappointment and hurt.  It is my hope that I continue to remember who is my comfort and my courage regardless of the people in my life. 

Lord give me the wisdom to know when the comfort of a boy is a blessing from you, but to continue to lean on your true love and heart for my hearts deepest needs. May the security I feel in your presence, surround my mind, soul, and spirit each and every day.

Let’s try the Pool – It was a Good Idea at the Time

So in the locker room, at my new Gym back in January, I am trying to psych myself into some kind of courageous posture – so let’s look at another option – Swimming.  Okay now before you completely pass out in either hysterical laughter or stopped breath in shock; I like swimming and my only issues in the past have been to get from the locker room to the pool.  Once in the pool I am golden.  But without even realizing it, this was an ENTIRELY different animal.  I mean I had just walked pasted the bank of treadmills with all the pretty people.  Now maybe I was perceiving some of those judgmental glances as a personal attack in disapproval incorrectly, but either way caused my anxiety levels to rise to completely unhealthy levels.  (I have always had a very healthy blood pressure, but I wonder what the nurse would say if she had taken my blood pressure at THIS MOMENT in my life.)

My attitude toward swimming here was some how different.  Somehow this place was not the same.  Somehow this place that was supposed to just embrace the membership of its paying members did not seem to welcome me with open arms.  Someone who probably needed to be in this place on a regular basis more than half their membership.  But I was here to accomplish a task, I was here to go swimming, so my mental verbage became JUST GET IN THE WATER, JUST GET IN THE WATER

So there I was in the bathroom stall, coaching myself into a form of courage.  Just put on the suit, just get to the pool, oh no I have to take a shower first.  Okay, it’s a girls locker room, you can do this.  Some how as I glanced around the room the only women I saw were Nike models or Reebok shoe saleswomen.  Women who had been exercising for years and knew how this all worked, and would SMELL the fear that I didn’t have any idea what I was doing.  I couldn’t remember what the guy said about the lockers, so I just picked one, hoped I wasn’t infringing on someone’s space headed toward the shower, when I realized I didn’t have a towel.  Maybe its just all those years at hotels where they provide silly little OBVIOUS accessories to a pool… like TOWELS; that it did not occur to me that I would need to bring MY OWN!!!  But I was resolved. I have like 3 changes of clothes because I came prepared for whatever I was going to do to work out, so that should help. 

I put on my suit, realize I haven’t shaved my legs in like FOREVER, but good news there IS a razor in my bag.  How in the world could this be any more crazy an experience.  Have you ever been in a Locker Room shower?  I didn’t think about flip flops, and for some reason these showers were not designed by someone who values modesty or privacy even in a WOMEN’s LOCKER ROOM.  I obviously prefer to take  my showers in a solo stall, with solid not transLUCENT windows, and a plastic curtain that actually overs the ENTIRE OPENING!!! But again I was resolved. 

Now one thing I should probably mention is that I had just started this biggest loser competition at work.  I had been trash talking with a co-worker from New Jersey and this was part of my resolve.  Because I had been so bold to not only tell him that I was gonna kick his ass cuz I was on a great food plan, but I was convinced that if I added the exercise component I would be unstoppable.  Yes Yes let’s just say I am beating him but I am also not even in 3rd place anymore.  But that is for another post and there are still 3 weeks left in the competition. 🙂  Since I had told him I was going to the gym, I couldn’t bare the idea of having to confess that I had gone in, but not worked out.  SO with that tiny ounce of crazy competition, I was not leaving the place until I had worked out for 30min in SOME WAY SHAPE OR FORM. 

So showered, smooth legged and IN my suit I attempt to gingerly walk (tile floors are slippery) to the pool get in, position myself in a lane and just SWIM.  Now its been a while, but since my youth I have loved the water and almost revert back to my 10 year old self who competed on the swim team and self coaching myself on each stroke.  Now I have been spending some sporadic times in hotels swimming laps and working on getting my stroke back.  Not quite competent enough for butterfly but I always try to make at least one length of the pool that way.  But today was a completely different experience.  I don’t know if it was the adrenaline from fear, anxiety from the perceived judgement, or just the fact that I was truly 65 pounds lighter than I was last time I did laps. 

The View from My Youth - Inspiration

But I swam up and down that lane in almost no time and found myself hitting my 30 minute marker with out worries and no pain.  WOW, I didn’t expect that.  So now the hard part, get out of the pool, get out of suit, get out of this PLACE.  So in classic JR. High fear filled fashion, I showered quick (I had even remember one of my travelling shampoos – cuz I have like hundreds), now to dry off with no towel and make it look like that was the plan.  Hair up and tight, new clothes, new shoes, bag on shoulder.  Now to walk the gauntlet past the bank of treadmills, hold your head high-you deserve to be here, you PAID TO BE HERE-exit stage right…

And somewhere in the car ride back home, I finally broke down.  Energy expended, fears faced, anxiety ignored, and mission accomplished.  It sure didn’t seem like just a gym, but now I have to figure out how to go back………… Again.

Its JUST A GYM – And Other Exercise Myths

What They Looked Like if there were 20 in a Row

I am reminded of a trap I fell into at the beginning of the year, that hundreds if not thousands of people embrace every year right around the new year.  I joined a Gym.  I know I KNOW what was I thinking?  New years resolution, new body, new energy, or new attitude it is hard to say.  I had been on the food plan about 6 months at that point and I believe I thought that if I could just incorporate a little exercise it would help keep me on track. 

So there I was at the 24 hr fitness SPORT edition looking at what looked like the biggest complex I had ever seen.  Well that’s how it feels until you start to use the gym and then you just feel like a sardine packed into a giant treadmill factory.  Of course it reminds me of how some offices are set up making the people feel like half employees because the cubicles are smaller than an average coat closet and the walls only provide an illusion of sound reduction.  But I wasn’t thinking I would be ONLY using the treadmills.  I mean I had ideas of using the bikes, taking a class, doing some swimming.  I figured if I’m paying for it I will be motivated to go.  So that is the myth all gyms are preying upon, because even though it was my own idea and ambition to join for the convenience, it was the allure of all those options that kept me paying each month despite my non attendance from February to October. 

But let’s return to the scene of the commitment, when I signed up I was assured I would get a tour.  I would have someone I could ask questions to and be guided through all this big bad intimidating equipment.  I opted to WAIT and not pay for the $100/hour trainer because I wanted to see how this was going to affect my budget.  So when I waited until my timing was right, about 2 weeks, I walked in and I was ready for this engagement in the GYM.  But I walked in the door, they swiped my card and when I asked about the tour, not only did they look at me with confusion and irritation; but it took 10 minutes for a non-specialist, non-trainer 12 year old to come to the front to “show me around”.  There was no instruction, there were no questions about what are you interested in, or what do you have questions about.  It was here’s the bank of treadmills (okay that is my word mostly because they literally looked like a set of telephones in an outbound sales office, minus the cubicles).  Here’s the locker room, Upstairs the classroom, and free weights, and the pool is at the end of the hall.  Now there may have been more, but it sure was not what I was expecting and it DEFINITELY did not satisfy my need for direction. 

As I retreated to the safety of the women’s locker room, I was trying to figure out exactly where to start my workout.  I was originally going to just do a simple 30 minute work out on a treadmill… but having walked by the farm with no privacy, protection, or even space from the outside world, I was CONVINCED that was not going to be the choice.  Did I mention that it was 5:30pm on a weeknight?  Shouldn’t that be part of the orientation packet?  Oh by the way, the busiest times are between here and there AND ALL the pretty people who are looking to hook up with each other arrive between 5:15pm – 7:00pm so if you want to feel completely self-conscious and evaluated like a Parade Pony make your entrance during those times.  So NO I would not be making my GYM debut on a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical.  That and I forgot the headphones to the iPod, DANG IT!!

Now what?  Trapped in a women’s locker room bathroom stall, I began to ponder the stupidity of this investment.  I had paid my good hard earned money for this place; and I couldn’t get myself to leave the stall.  Yeah JUST a GYM, just a place, JUST a one stop shop for all your exercising needs.  I was beginning to EMBRACE how much of a lie that really was.

Its just a Little Exercise

So in my travelling madness, I have learned a few things about the intimidating public that I have maneuvered to my advantage.  Real business travellers have the privilege of flying/going home on Fridays.  Sometimes it is mid day and sometimes it is just as the work day winds to a close.  In addition to this, the faithful few who are forced to remain on location over weekend are usually so distraught by having to spend one more night in a sub par or less than stellar hotel room escape to the bars in hopes of a blissful alcoholic euphoria or engage in witty banter with some other tortured soul who is “here on business”.  Alas, I find comfort in neither thing, so I hit the gym. 

Yes you heard me right, I put on my workout tennis shoes (for those of you east coasters – sneakers), grabbed my iPod, headphones, OH YEAH KEY CARD, and made my way to the work out room.  As I inserted my key card into a space about half the size of my room (1 bedroom suite at an extended stay style establishment), with 2 treadmills, 1 recumbent bike, and what I think was an elliptical (they are ALL the rage these days).  But not a single soul inside, *deep sigh of relief* AWESOME!  A room to myself, mirrors behind me and off the beaten path so that EVERY new checking in resident can walk by and admire how much MORE I should be in the gym than I obviously visit.  So headphones in ears-dang it there is nothing to make a girl feel deformed than to not have the standard cute iPod head phones REFUSE TO STAY IN MY EARS. 

Alrighty, hit the quick start button, don’t think too much, just start walking.  Oh and I of course chose the treadmill the farthest from the door, so even if another non-alcoholic individual were to wander in, I would  not have to look nor be distracted by the potentially judgmental glances at my obvious infrequency of gym attendance.  As I began to walk, I figured the 2Driving Mix would be the best choice.  I developed this mix to assist with my race car like drives into places unknown that seem to calm my spirit and refresh my mind.  (Hmmm sounds like I might have to take a trip to Tahoe, just for the drive… Sorry I saw something shiny.)  So the mix is selected and my quick start is in effect. 

It is only after the music starts to take hold of my inner dancing diva that I realize this treadmill pace is just too slow.  So I kick it up a few more notches and increase the incline just for fun.  Not bad.  2.0 without even thinking.  I think I can do more.  Sooo up to 2.9 which I do believe 11 months ago was my absolute max.. hmmm interesting.  So then I bump it up a touch more.  Incline 3.5, speed 3.4 when the music seems to grab hold and there I am eyes closed hands gripping the bars and I’m in a completely different space.  I have heard of such things, but never even come close to relaxing enough to think it existed let ALONE felt it fill me. 

Maybe… just MAYBE my running friends might have something in this.  Now somewhere around minute 15 minute of my 30 minute commitment, I thought: I wonder if I could run a smidge?  NOW before we get all WHOA GIRL think about what you are saying.  I have to remind myself of a day I spent at the track with my best friend where I just told myself to RUN.  Now the purpose of this RUN exercise was because I wanted to know I could make myself run the bases for the Fall Softball league I had joined.  Talk about horse-cart.  Sign up pay the money, then see if you can actually do it. 😀  But I did.  And I ran that day at the track, I relearned how to jog in between my sprints, and I ran to first base several times during the fall ball season. 

So here I am on a treadmill in my musical happy place, in the privacy of a hotel gym closet and I gradually increase the speed.  Now I’m comfortably pushing the 3.7 speed and there is just this SONG in the midst of my mix that makes me want to dance and some how instead of dance (because I have been told that could lead to a very tragic treadmill accident) I started a pretty decent jog.  It seemed just fine, so I increased the treadmill speed and truly launched into a decent paced run.  Now this lasted for maybe half a song and I think if I looked at the minutes 1.30 in total, but I did something I have never done.  Run on a treadmill.  Not so bad, no witnesses so I don’t have to apologize for my “abuse” of the equipment with my not so tiny frame; but it wasn’t so bad. 

All told I went 1.60 miles (according the measuring thingy), for 35 minutes, and I ran.  Not a bad way to spend a Friday night if I don’t say so myself.  Who needs music thumping bars, socially questionable hotel meeting places, or a night experiencing the wild city nightlife.  I worked out.  How is it I feel more proud of this accomplishment than my latest debt snowball accomplishment?  Maybe just maybe my running friends MIGHT have something.  The brain is still processing… I mean 26 miles is a LONG ways from 1.60 and I can’t even imagine a 5K walk, but at least for the first time I can honestly say I don’t think its hell on earth.  But with 91 less pounds of me, maybe I am just feeling more spring in my step than usual. 

2Driving Mix:
So Help Me God
How we Roll
The Good Life
Live Life Loud
Born Again

I only got through 10 songs… working out use to seem like it took soooooooo long, but this went by in a meer minutes.

Place in the Park with God

My spiritual life has always involved images or pictures in my mind.  Some people refer to this as a person’s mind’s eye. 

Years ago as I was desperately seeking for God’s will in my life and trying to find that place where I would understand him and my relationship with him God painted an impressive picture in my mind. 

It was a space of lake front property that one might find at a public park or house on the water.  But there was never anyone else there and in the beginning it was nothing but grass, sand, and shoreline.  It was my place to come and be with God. It was a way I could visualize nothing and no one in my mind which brought calm to my thoughts and allowed me to feel safe and secure amidst all the chaos that seemed to be my emotions, my job, my friends, my church, my roommates, etc.  And as I would come to this place (almost running most days), I would sit in the sand or the grass depending upon my mood and just wait. 

As I would wait and be still and calm I would look over the Lake.  It was a vast expanse of bright red crystal clear water; that looked as if it were made from the tears of rubies in its brilliant brightness of color.  When I would stare at it, God said it was Christ’s blood, the cleansing sacrifice he had made.  And if I so chose I could go swimming in the lake to have all the cares and worries of the world would be taken away from me.  This choice to go swimming was a symbol of my asking him for forgiveness for whatever I had done, on purpose or unintentionally. 

As I swam through the lake for a time, I could see the hand of God reaching down into the water to pick me up.  As his HUGE hand lifted me out of Christ’s blood, the drips of water would not even appear on his hand, but seem to remain in the lake.  And I would be clothed in white and the cleansing peace of his presence would radiate around my body in his hand.  He would then pull me close to himself as if embracing a child.  It was in those moments, I felt so close to God and remember talking about all the things a child would talk about (well at least a very inquisitive, curious, confused child).  Why is their pain and suffering? Why did you make me this way?  What am I suppose to do next?  Where do baby’s come from?

It was in this visual imagery that I could begin to relate to God and truly TALK to him.  There was something about these steps in my mind’s eye that allowed me to move through the fear of the Almighty, HOLY, Righteous God and into a place of comfort and closeness.  The knowledge from the old testament stories of how no man could even look near him but be consumed by his righteous power; I struggled with trying to find a way to connect with God.  Well and Indiana Jones probably didn’t help my understanding either; I didn’t want my face to melt off.  (Shiver that scene is STILL scary).  For so many years I could not figure out how to talk to God because of the whole sin, fall, wrath, fear, fire, and Moses stuff. This image changed all that and finally I found a way for me to connect to God, and even though he didn’t need it to connect to me; it allowed my feelings and my guilt to fade into the background. 

Then there came a rough spot in my life, some of us call it the CRISIS OF FAITH.  It is a time when nothing you believe makes sense and everything you believe in is in question.  I fell head first into a pile of classic Prodigal son behaviors (well its more like I dove in head first).  While there were times I would find myself thinking about the park and the lake, I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to connect with God, I didn’t want to get his help or find out what he wanted me to do.  I was in so much pain I couldn’t even think of walking into the park.  But it was even in my depression and loneliness, that I continually heard God asking me to come to the park.  As I would scream at him I don’t want to go swimming… I didn’t want to ask for forgiveness because that meant I was sorry and that meant I was gonna try to stop what I was doing.  And I had no heart to be sorry and I wasn’t going to stop.  But even in the face of all that defiance and rebellion, God said well just come sit at the shore.  You don’t have to go swimming just come and sit in the grass, you know that always brings you peace.  And just like a child who is throwing a temper tantrum but still wants ice cream came to the shore and sat arms folded, scowl on my face, stomping feet, and not wanting to be manipulated into whatever God thought he was going to GET me to do. 

But the interesting thing is that God didn’t push me.  He didn’t manipulate me.  He didn’t try to con me into swimming or being with him or choosing to surrender; he just let me sit there.  I would sit for a while and them get up and walk away. Then other times would arise and he would ask me to come back to the park… and I would but just sit on the shore line.  At times I would dip my toes in the water; but that was it.  No swimming, no forgiveness, no repentance, no cleansing, no closeness. 

Then one day as I was sitting on the shoreline, a man appeared.  He came and sat down next to me and talked to me.  Just as I would talk to any of the guy friends. Engaging me in complete comfortable conversations about the weather, sports, people, the day’s events (honestly I don’t remember what we talked about… but as many of you know when I talk – it’s just like that – a dozen topics with as many directions).  Over time, his presence increased and I began to share with him my problems and anxieties.  Then I would find myself seeking comfort from him physically, by leaning on him, laying my head in his lap, or just hugging him so tight I would squeeze the life out of him.  He became my best friend, boyfriend-like in the trust and intimacy we would share… Over time I knew he was Jesus in the form of a man, but he didn’t look like the bible illustrations, he looked as hot and solid and strong as my mind’s eye needed him to be. 

It is the person I run to when I am in crisis.  He is the image I see when I want a man’s comfort.  This is the place I return to when I feel that I have nothing to offer and no future to live in.  It is here that I see my value reflected, my self-image polished, and the holes in my self-worth are filled.  This is also the place I take my mind when the chaos is too strong to manage, when the spiral of emotions will not be tamed, and when I feel I have been away too long. 

Just a sliver of the View

As with any good location, it has changed over the years.  There is a picnic bench now, swings, spinning merry-go-round, a few shady trees, and a bench or two.  There is even a waterfall at its entrance and a Wall of Boulders that hides its entrance.  I find myself taking my mind back to this place that has represented such peach and calm over the years.  Even in those times when I believed I did not deserve to be in God’s presence, I knew I could come here and he would accept me and love me and touch me. 

I swim often now, although there are times I am content to sit, lounge, and play on the shore with Christ.  I do desire to be as close to God as I can and I am truly thankful for this image that has broken down all the fear and stumbling blocks that kept me from understanding God as my truly loving accepting caring nurturing father.  This is the place that my mind finds a way to pause long enough for God to show me something new or remind me of his promises ones that never change – I will never leave you nor forsake you – or the ones that he has given me personally – you are my amazing woman with whom I have great plans

A Diamond from the Archives

 A couple of weeks ago during my blogging sabbatical, I was contacted by an ex-boyfriend who from this point on will be referred to as the X.  In as much as that little interaction drummed up at least a DOZEN worthwhile blog post ponderings for a future time, it caused me to return to the archives.  Now not just the emotional memories of a life almost 20 years ago, but the actual archive files of paper letters and notes I have received over my life.  Some people have accused me of being an emotional sadist or just plan CRAZY.  Which then usually is followed up with comments close to WAIT you have notes and letters from ex-boyfriends… STILL!?!?!? Yes I am a form of a pack rat, but very organized pack rat.  I mean I was able to go right to the box with the letters in them and it took me less than 30 minutes to be sitting with them in my lap in re-examination mode. 

After I spent one almost sleepless night re-reading, did I discover some notes before and behind this particular set of documents that drew my attention to them.  It was in these page turning documents that I found the most precious diamond a girl can ask for.  There were many post its of encouragement, good job, great show, you’re a sweetie all of which I keep in hopes that I can remember when I am having a depressed day that at one time in my life I was cool.  Okay well that just sounds way more self-deprecating than intended.  It is more the idea that even though I am not hearing those encouraging and praising things NOW doesn’t mean that they don’t apply NOW.  It is also a good exercise to remember that I was valuable and appreciated by my friends at times and if I don’t feel it now it shouldn’t devalue the positives from before. 

ALRIGHT ALRIGHT already, what is the diamond you may ask amidst your anxious impatience… it was a note from my best friend at church during my teaching years.  Yes I taught Jr. High and High School for 4 years in my 20’s.  We were both teachers at the same school and bonded like the bestest of friends.  We shared war stories, child conflicts, irritations with the administration, struggles with our love lives, and how to live this serving God Christian life thing often.  So many of my closest friends are the ones I share my deepest personal issues with.  I have learned over the years that one of my litmus tests of true friends are the ones who are willing to hear my deepest pains and sorrows, all the while sharing their deepest pains and sorrows.   For some reason, I just don’t believe that if people do not share those things the friendship is not real, authentic, or trustworthy. 

So there I was re-reading the archives of my life in print and living color (some people liked using colored pens back then).  When I found a note from her explaining that she was going to buy me a stuffed teddy bear to bring me comfort.  I can only assume I was having one of my lonely single seasons or depressed missing my mother moments at this particular holiday.  When she was shopping she found a stuffed lioness on the shelf at the store and with a prompt pushing from (I assume) the Holy Spirit, she grabbed it off the shelf.  With this precursor she said:   

This is you, Christina, the Lioness, Proud, Beautiful, Nurturing, A little Fearsome when Crossed, and VERY playful when caught in the right mood.  You are a special person whose friendship is not to be missed.

Identity in a Phrase

And there it was on paper… A short spirited synopsis of my identity.  I had completely forgotten about this image she had of me.  It brought tears to my eyes as if I were reading it for the first time.  Such care was spoken of me by someone I trusted and believed in.  How amazing an image this generates in my mind, and such a strong emotional connection I feel to the traits of a lioness.  Even as I stood there in reflection of my life since there, I realized with stronger and stronger conviction that this had truly been me and is me. 

Each of those points brought to mind different situations and circumstances in life in just the last few years where I had exhibited those exact traits… almost in instinctual response.    Life has taken some interesting turns these last couple weeks and I have exhibited a strength and fortitude I never believed I had in me.  A confidence and pride that runs soul deep and not just for show or performance.  I am going to treasure this image as it was intended and allow the feelings of enlightenment to fill me with joy and recognition. It is such a joyful experience for me when I recognize something that is me as if learning something about WHO I AM for the first time.

As I have been challenging myself to change and get ready for potentially moving, I had a massive garage sale this summer and I remembered selling a stuffed lion, well at least now I still have the note.  I had wondered where the lion had come from because my whole growing up years, my thing had been Koala’s (I must confess I do still have ONE)…  what can I say I am a pack rat.