I’m Teflon…Sometimes

Life is full of disappointments.  From very early on in life, we learn this inevitable truth.  As children, we find out we cannot eat candy 24 hours a day.  As adolescents, we learn the lasting scars of being chosen last for the team.  As teenagers, we somehow survive the gut-wrenching anguish of losing our first love.  As young adults, we experience a missed job advancement or failed financial venture.  As young parents, we die a thousand deaths that first time we cannot take the pain away for our child.  As experienced parents, our hearts shatter the first time our child yells in anger that they hate us.

Each time, with each newly experienced heartache, we shut down just a bit more.  The human heart can only tolerate so much before the brain takes over, and instinct takes charge.  In the battle between heart and mind, the heart will always lose – the brain is programmed to dominate every time – this is by design.

But the problem is that our hearts are unaware of our brains ‘survive at all cost’ mentality.  Our hearts are stubborn, see.  They are the ‘David’ in this story.  They might be smaller and weaker, but don’t bother telling them that.  Because next to the heart’s bathroom mirror is a mantra – a daily pep talk, if you will – ‘I can and I will.’  The feisty little heart refuses to understand that it’s delicate and fragile – disposable even.

Someone who suffers a trauma typically learns how to bypass the heart-brain circuit fairly quickly, for self-preservation purposes.  Without this ability, the presentation of each new rejection is like reliving the trauma over and over again, regardless of what it was originally.  The same mental anguish, self-loathing, personal disdain and downward spiral ensue with no ejection handle available.

This ‘heart bypass’ might look plastic in nature – with no real ability to attach to anyone or anything.  In my case, I have become ‘Teflon Girl’ – able to leap huge piles of BS in a single bound, especially when spewed from the male species, without getting a speck of crap on me.  It really is an art form, getting into and out of the suit so quickly, but I’ve noticed a few flaws in the design as of late.  ‘Teflon Girl’ does not have hinged elbows – that is, she straight-arms all recent male relationships, careful to keep them far enough away from the cargo inside.  While that’s great potential damage control, when and if you actually do want to let someone in, trusting that feeling is made all the more difficult.

Another flaw with ‘Teflon Girl’ – as in life, the coating has started to wear thin from overuse in a few areas, especially around the heart.  And as much as the brain says “You didn’t hurt me.  I’m Teflon.” the heart knows better.  This heart is hypersensitive…it feels every beat – irregular, skipped, crushed, longing – nothing gets past this baby.

The last flaw I’ve noticed…there’s no helmet with the suit, leaving the brain completely exposed to all attacks.  My brain, I would say, is my greatest asset, but also my greatest liability.  It is a wealth of information, humor, personality, spunk, and gifts.  But at the same time, my brain cannot leave a question unanswered, a puzzle unsolved, a problem unresolved or a stone unturned.  My brain never stops running – ever.  So when attacks come, which lately seem constant, my brain goes into hyper-drive;  first, trying to fend off the assailant, protect at all costs, formulate a plan, and rearrange strategies and then after the attack, to assess the damage, replay the battle, and ponder the lesson gained.

And while this seems somewhat straightforward, it is exhausting.  I have been working so very hard on me for the last 2+ years, trying to rebuild what I allowed to be torn down and demolished, and have made excellent headway.  I have learned to distinguish happiness from façade, learned that I won’t fall completely apart if I’m not always black or white, and that I am strong but that doesn’t mean I cannot ask for help when I need it.  There are still many areas that are works in progress:  realizing what I am worth and not accepting less, being alone and being lonely are NOT the same, and listening to and trusting my inner voice.

So as I’ve observed these design flaws, in ‘Teflon Girl’ and myself, I’ve decided to give us both a break.  Every superhero has their kryptonite.  For me, I am absolutely my own harshest critic.  The sooner I ease up on the negative self-talk and soul bashing, the sooner I can continue the rebuilding process.  Maybe I’ll even use stainless steel…everything sticks to that!!

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Sweet Victory…?

“Victory begins when you are willing to run by faith, trusting that He will lead the way.”

When a marriage ends in divorce, there are no winners.  No matter how amicable things are, someone, somewhere ends up being hurt by something that is either said, done or unintentionally willed against the other party.  It is not possible for two people to spend any length of intimate time together, share things that a man and wife do, and walk away from that time unscathed.  Bring children into the mix, and the wake of devastation increases exponentially, causing normally rational adults to act in ways they would otherwise not act, all ‘for the sake of the children.’  The shame of it all is everyone suffers damage – everyone.

After preparing half the night for what promised to be an epic battle at court this week, I felt ill at ease.  I thought these feelings were my typical issues with self-doubt creeping back in; I had prepared well, and had sufficient documentation to present a balanced argument for the points I planned to present.  As I finished with my outline for each of the three planned motions, I could no longer contain the overwhelming dread I had been feeling.  I called the one person I knew who could balance my rocking canoe and help me calm the waters before I set off to court.  As usual, she listened to my concerns for what might happen, my lacking abilities, and all my doubts.  And in perfect step she surrounded me with Gospel Truth – and reminded me that this battle was already decided, I was merely walking it out that morning to completion; she reminded me that God had wonderfully gifted me with the ability to speak eloquently and remain on task and that He would be with me that morning, as He always was; and most importantly, she told me God loved my children more than I did, and that He would not allow harm to come to them…those were the words I held on to as we hung up and I got dressed.

What I found at court when I arrived was as I had expected – he had support in his sister and brother at his side.  I did not come unarmed, as three great friends joined me as well.  The process began as it typically does – Family Relations – where he usually disagrees to all I present, and then we are sent to an awaiting Judge in a courtroom.  Two cases were heard before ours, and as I half-heartedly listened to those cases, I found it difficult to quiet my spirit.  The atmosphere there is so negative, even hostile at times, to breathe in the air seems almost toxic.  I closed my eyes trying to focus myself, trying to replay my plan again in my head – anything to disconnect me from where I was yet again…and then it was time.

We both approached our respective tables, took our oaths, stated our names and sat down.  I began my initial motion, and immediately the Judge questioned my direction.  I was thrown, seeing instantly that I’d made a tactical error – that what I’d considered an ‘order’ from the previous Judge was in fact listed in my notes as a recommendation, and thus not subject to a contempt order.  I felt childlike and stupid in that moment, and my mind raced as I tried to recover – I could feel ‘their eyes’ burning the back of my head, taunting me.  The Judge ruled against my next point, and while not critical, again I received it as a blow.

We moved on to the most important of the three issues at hand, and I tried to regain my stride.  I spoke off-script, and while most points were mentioned, I was far less succinct as I am capable of being.  He was offered a chance to rebut, and his words were void of truth and hurtful.  I hurriedly made my notes, sure to catch key phrases to use in my retort.  Almost directly on cue, he began to cry – again – and I found myself not anguished over his emotions but disgusted by his display yet again.  I quickly brought us back to task, and felt I finished strong.

As the Judge began his summation, his initial words led me to feel he was not going to rule in my favor.  I remember shaking my head and immediately thinking what would the next move be, as this would be completely unacceptable.  But as the Judge continued, he did in fact, rule in my favor.  A few more formalities, and I was up and out of the room.  And once again, as soon as I made it out the doors, I was sobbing – the stress of holding it together had completely overwhelmed me – and my friend grabbed me into her arms, apparently in an effort to shield me from them as they exited.

The physical and emotional toll these court days take on me I find difficult to express.  That was yesterday, and mentally I was garbage for the rest of the day.  But when you are a single mom, you do not have the luxury to mentally check out, for any length of time.  I try as much as possible to shield my children from what transpires during these days – because football, chess club, dinner, Click the Mouse, soccer, going to a friend’s house, going to the park, getting to their job, selling fundraising tickets, PPT meetings…all of these things happen whether court goes well or not.

So today, as I lay in the bed for most of the day, reflecting on what happened yesterday and where we go from here, I realized there was no winner in court.  We all lose…we all lose.  Until such a time when we can communicate together and parent these children without the law having to intervene.  Until we can BOTH have parenting time with these children and not disparage the other parent.  Until these children are not hurt by our supposed ‘grown-up’ actions…both of ours.  Until ALL the people in these children’s lives get on the same page about what is in the best interest for them, and work to that end.

What I know is this:  I cannot control him or his actions.  But I am responsible for me and my actions.  And that means I can still continue to be the example – to my children, and to him and his family.  It cost me nothing to be who I already am, so that is no sacrifice.  To sacrifice, I need to take an additional step.  I have the benefit of Jesus Christ, and because of that, I am required to do more.  So I will be seeking God’s face on how He wants me to do more, to take additional steps to make this work.  Because doing what I’ve already done isn’t getting it – it’s merely wearing me out – and that will accomplish nothing in the end.

Hearts of Gold

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe when somethings suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.”

I love this quote.  If I were to look into my own chest right now, I can image my heart, intertwined with ribbons of gold, holding all the tattered pieces of brokenness together, creating a beautiful masterpiece.

As these last few days have passed, I’ve had some time to reflect on the events of last Tuesday – court – and all that transpired in that actuality of such a short timespan but what at the time seemed like an endless tailspin of voices, emotions and impossible decisions.  I can say with the most candor that from the outset, I was in complete anguish over what occurred.  In my wildest imagination, never once had I envisioned leaving that courtroom convicted of a crime, assigned a suspended sentence and probation.  I fully believed that with the truth on my side, the mistakes would be revealed, wrongs would be righted, and this extended nightmare would finally be over.  This obviously did not happen.

I have decided for the privacy of my children to not write about the specifics of what my case was about.  Too many lies have already been printed by the press, and those are bells I cannot unring.  My children have finally begun to heal from the miscarriage of justice that the various media outlets let loose on our street, neighbors and town 2 years ago.  I am fully aware of the issue surrounding freedom of press, but what these monsters did was nothing less than a witch hunt, manufacturing lies when people refused to speak with them, running erroneous stories again and again to fill time prior to each court appearance and costing my family more than anyone will ever truly understand.

What I have learned in the days since my sentence is that I am deeply and richly blessed.  I have an incredible circle of friends that have been held to the fire time and again, refined in ways I don’t deserve, and still they support me when I am so low I don’t even know where to begin to raise up once again.  As I returned home Tuesday and words failed me, I merely texted those close remaining few.  I was instantly flooded with an outpouring of love and support – it touched me to my core – and though doubt remained that I had made the right decision, their love helped to wipe that away…each one more and more still.

I have also been affirmed that my character, which has been under attack from all directions by the enemy – who takes on many forms as of late – is worthy of admiration and example.  I try to live as Jesus would, and I fail miserably each and every day – but to hear the words from my child, my friends – that I am respected for who I am, especially at a time like this…it speaks volumes to me.  I am humbled, and so thankful that I have a Savior who forgives me for my shortcomings and allows me to return to Him every time I fail Him.  I won’t change who I know I am – not for this world, not for anyone.

Lastly, I have shared that I have been working with an incredible therapist for these past 2 years, without whom I would never have made it through this crisis or been able to recognize the me who was trapped inside this body ready to break free and take charge.  I am so thrilled with the work I’ve done – reclaiming my voice, embracing who I am, learning new strategies for old issues, growing relationships with my children, finding happiness – it’s been a lot of work, but I would not have given any of it a second thought.  In meeting this week and sharing Tuesday’s events, she listened intently and I awaited her response to all I’d shared.

She asked first why I’d taken the deal, and it caught me off-guard.  I shared that there was a list of people prepared by the Prosecution to call to testify…my children were at the top, neighbors, friends, my Pastor, police officers, DCF workers, teachers, on and on and on.  Too many people stood to get hurt – and when I weighed my children on the stand and that deal, the risk wasn’t worth it anymore.  And then she said two of the most powerful things I’d heard all week:  two years ago I was so stuck on why this happened and what were we going to do about it and how were we going to fix it, that I could barely see straight.  Now I had just sacrificed myself so that my children did not get hurt – look at the progress I’d made.  Secondly, I had maintained that the Justice System never really cared about the truth, they just wanted their pound of flesh.  But she said that my truth, my version of what happened, is still true – whether they heard me or not.  It doesn’t negate what I know is true.  There are interpretations of the truth, and I will always know what happened – this plea doesn’t change that.

I’m finding that helpful in being able to stop calling myself a ‘convict,’ which I’ve been doing all week, and to stop comparing myself to others who were in court that day.  They don’t walk my walk, nor do I walk theirs.  I’m giving myself permission to feel whatever I need to right now – and that’s something entirely new for me.  I’m not going to linger too long, and then I’m going to process what God has next for me, because there’s always a plan.  It’s been a long 2 years to get to this point, and there’s a lot of hurt and healing to process.  But I am absolutely in the best place of my life to deal with those feelings, which lets me know I’m right where I’m supposed to be, with exactly who I need beside me.

Broken…Not Together

Anger pierced the corridor like a sabre.  Glancing blows leave mortal wounds too deep to triage in the moment.  “Dumont!”  The name echoes through the chamber and I pop up, diligently and deliberately, cautious not look left or right – obedience is the only option.  “He won’t participate,” I say, numb, “even if you tell him he can.  He won’t.”  She looks at me as if to say “Are you even alive in there?”  I am – but barely.  I do what needs to be done in this room, no more, no less.  I have been here so many times before – all I can be is numb.  Anything else hurts too much.

We speak, very briefly.  Show her this document, answer that question.  Now wait and he’ll come in, but don’t go far.  I know the dance – believe me – I know.  I stand in the corridor, alone, stoic, jumbled with my huge binder – I have been here before…too many times to recount.  That binder is comfort and pain:  comfort in its organization and sanity; pain in its constant reminder of the next step and the last.

Just like that, we’re done.  He doesn’t agree to anything, as usual.  Courtroom B-1.  Roll call, and then waiting.  He whisks by and I don’t look up; I stare at the ground, subservient again.  I sit far and apart from him; his brother has appeared from somewhere…he needs someone with him at all times; not for moral support, but to keep him in check.  Roll call bellowed out, and then we wait.  We are moved to B-3 suddenly.  They complain – “Who is the Judge in that court?”  He feels bias against several Judges…or is it they are biased against him?  I can’t keep up.  I jump up and exit, not even listening to the argument.

In B-3, I take my seat.  The Judge reviews the file, and asks me a few questions.  I answer, politely, precisely.  Motion for Contempt – back Child Support.  He hasn’t paid anything in 1 year.  His argument – he didn’t agree to anything.  He doesn’t owe anything.  Now, he states he didn’t sign the Divorce Decree; after 1 year he finally admits he walked out of the hearing.  We all already knew that.  He becomes belligerent.  The Marshall moves to his table.  He can’t stop speaking.  The Judge instructs him to be quiet – the issues of today’s scope are narrow – he never really understands this point.  He goes on and on – the Marshall draws closer and closer.  His brother tries to calm him, to no avail.  I am given a last opportunity to add anything I need.  I readdress that he has never paid anything.  That he lives on proportionally more than the 4 of us do.  And that he had put in an appearance previously, that no one scammed him into getting divorced that day last April.

The Judge proceeds to deliver his sentence, and again he interrupts.  The Judge is now intolerant, and tells him to quiet himself for the last time.  He begins to sob uncontrollably.  The whole exchange is horrible – to witness – this man, this father, this once husband, falling so far from who he once was…

When the Judge is finished, I rush from the court, as I am now virtually holding back tears.  I am basically running down the hall, looking for refuge from them as they will be behind me any moment and I don’t want them to know I have broken – that my heart has broken once again for this situation that once was a marriage, a life, a family.  I make it to the Court Services office, to the far back table, and collapse in tears…face in my hands, sobbing.  How is it that, 2 years apart, I am still so impacted by what this man does and does not do?

I am reminded, however, that one person cannot carry a relationship alone.  And, more importantly, God needs to be the center of any relationship for it to really work.  You can be the best person, the best Christian, but you alone cannot fill in the gaps for your spouse.  You will constantly fail without Jesus.  We are all broken human people.  And that’s ok – God made us that way.  The purpose for that, once again, was so that we would lean on Him, in our personal lives, in our parenting, in our relationships – we need Jesus to complete us.  He is the only one who can.

I love this new song by Casting Crowns…Broken Together.  It talks about how if we each come together, admitting our brokenness, and approach Jesus, we can be made whole – TOGETHER.  Unfortunately that couldn’t happen in my marriage.  But my next relationship certainly will have a lasting foundation I can count on.  Because I am broken – and so will my next someone be.  And together with Jesus, we’ll be awesome!

Wounding with 80 Grit

“When people hurt you over and over, think of them as sandpaper.  They scratch you and hurt you, but in the end, you are polished and they are all used up.”

Even though we have the ability to walk away from the people in our lives that cause us pain, some of those relationships cannot ever be completely ended for various reasons.  Because I share 3 glorious children with their father, that relationship – or some loose interpretation of the word, will always be in place.  I have chosen not to speak ill of him in their presence, a practice he chooses not to reciprocate.  Over time I have learned I cannot control his actions any more than I can control the direction of the wind.  What I can control, however, is my reaction to the choices he makes.  This is not to say for the briefest of moments that when word gets back to me that he’s spoken harshly of me in front of them, disparaging me once again in their eyes, that the all-too-familiar feeling doesn’t sweep that tiny mound of confidence I’ve started to rebuild right out the door, faster than I can possibly rebuild it.

We do this dance – the tearing down and rebuilding – on a regular weekly basis now…the only problem is he is completely unaware of the angst I go through each and every time.  Oh, I am quite certain he is expecting some ‘direct hit’ – just like lobbing his move in “Battleship”…B-6…HIT!  But the personal attack on myself I do privately – and he is certainly no longer privy to the score I keep, a much more gruesome account of battle scars, personal shortcomings, life-long ineptness and the like.  At the end, it looks much more like a replay of ‘Shark Week’ than ‘Battleship,’ as I huddle in the corner assessing the damage, trying to determine which areas can withstand another hit and which need attention – STAT!

The lingering question, mostly to myself, is why I continue to log unknown conflict time, particularly when the causalities remain so costly to my well-being.   If he chooses his actions, and I choose mine, why do I continually choose this self-inflicted kill-shot each and every time?  What is my reward?  Otherwise, why can’t I simply let him say and do what he is going to, and let that roll off me without a care?  Obviously somewhere inside the core of me, I must be gaining some twisted prize from the battle with this demon, over and over again…right?

And then I think about that quote…the sandpaper disappears, and the one who’s hurt is polished.  It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses, 1 Peter 1: 6, 7:

‘In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.’

This relationship – it’s really just another trial, another test of my faithfulness before God.  And my reward, not for the self-deprecation, but for staying the course, is worth more than any gold here on earth.  So the next time I start worrying about what he’s saying about me, to whom…I just have to remember the truth of this verse.  My real reward is with Jesus – always has been…always will be.  No words of man will ever change that fact.

When a Mind Breaks, It Don’t Break Even…

No matter how cautious you plan to be, heartbreak happens.  It can happen between the best of friends, between parent and child, between family members, and between lovers.  I don’t think we ever set out to hurt or be hurt – anyone who’s experienced that wince of pain caused by the loss of love would more than likely attest to that.  But the heart, as complex of an organ as it is, is relatively simple in its emotional make-up.  We store all our emotions there, and when you stop to think about it, that’s quite a vast capacity.  Thinking just about the supposed ‘seven major emotions’ that psychologists categorize, we’re talking about fear, contempt, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness and surprise.

When we lose our relationship with someone we care for, no matter the context of that relationship, we generally feel loss.  There can be loss of trust, as in a friend who you feel alienated you and your life that you entrusted to them; a loss of innocence, like when a child crosses a line you never would have imagined would be crossed; a loss of intimacy, when a partner betrays your faith or simply denies your feelings altogether; a loss of confidence, when you deny yourself and doubt all that you know to be true.

Regardless of what the cause of this loss, the angst that follows must be allowed to process, in due time.  Denying ourselves and our emotions is both detrimental to our emotional health, and harmful to our attempts to rebuild who we are as individual beings.

I recently entered the dating world after a 25+ year departure.  Let me simply say this:  dating over 45 is ridiculously difficult, and dating in 2015 – absurd.  Apparently there is no more simply meeting someone, enjoying their company, and wanting to spend more time with them.  Most everything is done online now.  I don’t know if you’ve seen the commercials – there must be 50 dating sites, at least – one for every different group you could imagine…ethnic groups, religious groups, age-based groups, farmers, you name it…there’s a group.  The premise is all the same…girls and guys trying to meet each other, via picture and profile, with or without a membership fee involved.  So before you even get to the date, you can be rejected any number of times, by a mere ignoring of your message, to a nasty message sent to you, to a nasty comment on your photo – it’s the screening before the date that knocks your feet right out from under you.  Back in the 80s, that happened at the bar, and at least you had a drink to wash down the sting.

So I started with the Christian group, thinking I’d have the best results there.  That site was a joke!  It was basically non-Christian guys looking to ‘hook-up’ with good girls to see what they could get away with.  I figured that out in less than a day, lucky me!  I previewed a couple more sites and ended up on one that seemed ok, but regardless of where you land, you certainly have to keep your guard up at all times.  I spent a few days hanging back, seeing what the guys were all about – like 80% said they go to the gym every day (as if!); many have photos of their cars (oh, my racing heart!); an incredibly high amount have photos that include their exes (yes, you read that right!) – and I came to the conclusion that many guys my age have no idea what women want, period.  I don’t know whether to have a tantrum or cry over this information…the jury is still out.

I did, however, meet someone and we started to chat on the website.  He really was great – he said all the right things, and truly meant them.  I felt comfortable with him immediately, and I trusted what I felt.  We talked for a few days, then agreed to meet for our first official ‘date.’  No pressure…yeah, right!  He was perfectly charming, our conversation was enchanting, and I didn’t want to go home.  The weather was bad, and he texted just after I got into the car to tell me to let him know I got home alright – how sweet!  I smiled the whole way home, despite the treacherous driving.  We texted for over an hour after I got home – again, very sweet.

The next day, though he was busy helping out a friend, we managed to plan catching a movie in the evening.  I was giddy just knowing I would be seeing him again – I felt like I was in Junior High all over again – what would I wear, did my hair look ok, what would we talk about.  Never once did the huge smile leave my face.  We had arrived early which allowed for time for some great conversation.  Just as the lights went down, he reached over for my hand – I thought I was going to melt right there in my seat…so much better than Junior High!  The movie was amazing, and the company even better.

We saw each other two more times that week, and each day the conversations we so sweet and tender – extending into the evenings until we were both too tired to talk any more.  I was being as cautious as necessary, but also feeling so safe and secure – it was unbelievable how well we were getting along.  He met one of my friends and her husband when we went to see a band at a local bar – I was really nervous and acted quite out of character, but he quickly reassured me that everything was alright.  We were enjoying simply spending time together – we didn’t have to be doing anything special – just being.

He was happy as well – he communicated how he felt – he couldn’t get the smile off his face either, and things were going well.  He worked hard, and I gave him his space, perhaps popping in via text midday to say I was thinking of him or to ask how his day was going.  He responded as time permitted, and this worked out fine.

And then suddenly, something changed.  To this day, I have no idea what happened, and that is what really kills me.  Being the logical person that I am, just about the worst thing you can do to me is to walk away with no explanation – nothing.  I am left with self-doubt, self-loathing, self-abuse. I simply cannot process the not knowing.  My mind goes to every horrible scenario possible…and then it splits in two.

On my birthday, nonetheless, I got a ‘snippy’ message from him.  I had an idea something had shifted, but he didn’t really say anything was up.  I was busy that day, and decided as the day was drawing to a close, to reach out and ask how his day had been.  No answer.  Next day, a little bit of chit-chat, but certainly not status quo.  I decided to ‘put myself out there’ in words – I do that quite a bit – and often I give everything away when I do.  I asked him to just be real.  I said I trusted him, and that he could trust me.  And the response I got was more than I ever bargained for.

The next day he said we needed to take a break.  I don’t personally own the Guy Code book, so at first I didn’t really know what that meant.  A break?  From what exactly?  Me texting him during the day?  Oh…from me…I’m a little slow sometimes.   I responded curtly but not ugly, then stopped before I did get ugly.  Then I processed for a little bit.  Then I can back with something ugly.  Then I processed some more.  Then I apologized.  Then I went to therapy…a lot of therapy.

I gave him the space he asked for, though I’m still confused of what exactly happened.  After the allotted time, I texted him again, asking if he could call so we could talk.  Nothing.  So I called after a day.  Voice mail.  Then I waited the acceptable amount of time for him to respond, and I texted that obviously we were done, but if he could give me a clue why, I could process this a whole lot better.  Nothing.

I cried every day for the first 9, no, 10 days.  I can’t say my heart is broken – I did feel something for him – I definitely could have felt something.  My brain is broken, most certainly.  And I am left in a heap once again.  What did I do wrong?  Why can’t he even answer that for me?  Am I that annoying he can’t speak to me one more time, seriously?  How is this ever, ever going to work?

The worst part is I sent a message after the phone call, telling him I wouldn’t bother him again – could he just tell me what happened.  And then two days ago, thinking I’m moving on finally – I text him again.  At this point, I’m sure he thinks I’m a stalker.  I’m sure that’s why he dumped me…future stalker in the making.

So I’m reluctantly returning to the website – where of course I see his profile every time I log on.  They are so very kind to tell you who the perfect matches are for you.  Little do they know that some of those ‘perfect matches’ will snap your logical brain if you’re not careful.  Guard your hearts?  Guard your minds, too.

This Old Home

As the weather toys with our emotions, some days teetering ever so close to spring and thoughts of blossoming crocus, walks around the block uninhibited by huge mounds of snow and actually seeing grass in my yard again and then tormenting us once again as the thermometer plummets to artic numbers, blowing winds and more threats of that horrible white stuff, I cannot help but push forward to the joys that spring offers.  The newness of everything:  new growth, as in the flower bulbs that have patiently waited underground all cold winter long for their time to burst forth; new projects, as the sunlight unveils all that the winter had hidden in its darkness, now revealed and needing our attention; new opportunities, as the kids school year turns to its final leg, and choices for the next year are being put into place, big life decisions are being made, growth is being plotted and measured, all without skipping a beat.

One of my favorite parts of warmer weather and spring is tag sale season – strange as that sounds.  Another opportunity for purging the old, clearing out your things no longer viewed as valuable, and a chance for someone else to find their treasure in what you’re willing to part with.  I like both sides of that equation for various reasons – over the 12 years I’ve spent in this house, I’ve amassed a LOT of stuff…things that haven’t been touched since we moved in here, things I’ve outgrown, not just in size, but attitude and phase of life, things that definitely need to move along.

I also like to visit other people’s sales.  What they view as junk, worthless or close to it, can often have such rich meaning to me at the time.  Many things I own previously belonged to someone else before I owned them.  I like the story that comes with a piece.  None of my bedroom furniture matches – never has, and there’s a story behind that.  My living room furniture has changed more times than I can even remember, and that’s saying a lot!  I have this amazing hope chest that I got at a tag sale – real cedar – was able to talk to guy down to only $20…I don’t think he really knew what he had there – again, a treasure in the eye of the beholder.

So say you found this painting at a sale you visited.  To you, it might look like a pretty ordinary painting.  But the frame has some potential – nice wood, could probably be redone and if nothing else, you could always use the frame for a better painting or a photo you have at home.  The seller, not seeing the same potential you see, is only asking $5 for the painting.  Do you leave it there, or bring it home, knowing the value you see?

Recently I’ve been struggling with my value and my worth.  I know I thought I had it figured out, but here’s the thing:  apparently once you struggle with self-doubt and self-loathing, you ALWAYS struggle.  So I went back to my Source, my Rock, my Daddy…finding it ridiculous how long it takes me to return to my beginning for what I need.  In the silence of my prayer today, I thought of where I would be in a year from now.  Immediately God placed a word on my heart:  RESTORATION.  It’s so appropriate for me, my home, and my family.

Just like that painting from the tag sale, God sees the value in us, especially when we cannot see it in ourselves.  He paid the ultimate price for us, no questions asked, and brought us home.  Then the real work began.  He each day is stripping us down, removing all the layers of old junk, garbage piled upon garbage, looking to find what He saw in us all along.  He shows us each and every day that we are a new creation in Him – but we have to be willing to listen to what He is saying, and able to see His vision – both of which are very difficult alone.  We need His eyes and His ears as a constant reminder of His unfailing love for us.  He is always with us – when we doubt, when we feel alone, when we feel unworthy, when we hate ourselves – He is waiting to remind us WE ARE ENOUGH.

Restoration – the act of renewal, revival, reestablishment.  That’s about right.  I certainly want to be renewed – I think no matter where you are in your life, we can all use that.  I believe I’ve been revived over the last few years – revived from a life that was headed in a hopeless direction, now with its sails set toward smoother waters.  Reestablishment…not in this world, no thank you.  I’ve seen too much, been through too much, hopefully grown too much too.  But I will certainly will be obedient, and if God calls me to reestablish myself, physically, or in any way He commands, I will listen.  I am His painting in the rough…and maybe now, finally, I am ready.