Category Archives: Spiritual
This is me, circa 1975. This is the picture of me I probably hate the most in this world. Love the outfit, mind you. Handmade by a friend of the family. But everything else from my hair to my teeth to my glasses is just ugh!!! I don’t think I was even very happy with my look back then because that’s not my normal happy smile.
Flash forward to the present. 38 years later, braces, better glasses, a much better haircut later, I still struggle much of the time with feeling like the ugly duckling in the room. Doesn’t matter that my parents told me I was beautiful, that my husband tells me I’m beautiful, that my kids tell me if dress up and put makeup on I’m still a “hot mom”. There are days when I just can’t shake that feeling.
Some mornings I would wake up and I just couldn’t bear the thought of putting on clothes. I know that’s probably hard to understand, but my anxiety was so high that I felt like I would rather flay off all my skin and expose my raw nerve endings to the air – that had to be less painful than how I was feeling. I found that by only wearing soft clothes (cotton, cashmere, etc.) I could psych myself into getting dressed and out of the house. To this day it is still hard for me to be at a party or other social function. I am always so sure I will say something stupid and embarrass myself.
These days I mostly have my anxiety under control , through a little bit of medication, a little bit of therapy and a lot of behavior modification. When I’m so uncomfortable I want to get up and run out of the room, I calmly sit and in my head describe what I am wearing, how it feels, what the room looks like, etc. until I can relax and join in the festivities. If I start to get irrationally scared or sad, I can remind myself that “it’s just a thought” and let it pass. When neither one of those tricks work, I can take a half a pill and deal.
I have also learned that we all have our hang-ups. Art was teased as a child for being overweight. Other friends were “too skinny, too tall, too short.” The important thing is not who we were, but who we are. And who I am is not a gawky ugly duckling. Who I am is a sweet-faced (mostly) happy woman, who also happens to be a brilliant writer, if I do say so myself
What is holding you back? What part of your past do you need to shed so you can be comfortable in your own skin?
My friend, Melanie, over at Only A Breath, offered to make anyone who wanted one a “one word” blog button for 2013. Melanie, in turn, got the idea from Alece at OneWord365.com. The idea is to come up with your “theme” for the year, or as Alece puts it:
What do you want to focus on in 2013?
It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, an action, or a character trait. Your word will be a reminder, a nudge. Something you can reflect on, that will challenge you, that will inspire you.
Your word can be anything you want it to be. All that matters is that it has personal meaning for you.
This is your word. It needs to resonate with your heart, no one else’s.
So I wrote to Melanie, and asked her to make my one word button. Here it is:
Why did I pick courage? Well, as you may know, fear has been one of my biggest challenges over the past few years (The Year of No Fear). In fact, “no fear” was my theme for 2011. Last year, I put my theme on hold as I struggled with some of the most terrifying events of my life (loss of our house and my husband and I separated by over 600 miles for more than 3 months while he was in school). During that time I managed to let my fear get out of hand again.
So I came to realize that I need to pick a theme every year. This year courage seems better than “no fear” because as Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.
And in the Bible, Joshua 1:9 reads:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – NKJV
So what about you? What’s your one word for 2013? Let me know in the comments below.
For the past 3+ years my husband, Art, has been unemployed, struggling, like many to find a job. Over a year ago he decided he wanted to go back to school, but a bad grade he got more than 25 years ago was making things difficult with the local community colleges.
Finally, a couple of months ago, everything finally fell into place. The only problem was the stars didn’t align for a nearby college, but for Portland Community College, 616 miles from home (according to Google Maps). But I have never seen a plan come together so fast and so well. It was obviously meant to be. What could I do? I think I actually convinced him.
We took three days to get to Oregon, slowly driving up the coast and stopping at two hotels along the way. It was fun and romantic, but also kind of felt like the Last Supper, you know what I mean?
Art’s parents live about 3 hours south of Portland, so that was our last stop. The plan was to spend one night there, then I would drive home and Art would take his parent’s “spare” car to Portland. But morning came and I just couldn’t do it. So we spent a second night, and prayed some more, and somehow I felt good about saying goodbye and driving the 10 hours home by myself. I cranked up Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits and just enjoyed the view.
It’s been almost two weeks now since I last saw Art. We talk multiple times a day. He has started school and is really enjoying his classes. Still looking for a semi-permanent living space, but it will come, I’m sure. I am so proud of him and his courage to step out of his comfort zone to find a way to achieve his lifelong dream.
But I miss him horribly. Spend a lot of time wishing I could just hop a plane to Oregon and we could be together. Christmas break can’t come soon enough!!
What I enjoy most about having him gone: Eating what I like (sushi, vegetarian, etc.)
What I like the least: sleeping alone (really really don’t like that one)
Thanks for listening.
I woke up Sunday morning completely blocked. Nose so stuffed that my lips were coated from mouth breathing all night – you know what I mean. A Sudafed and some vertical positioning and i was feeling considerably better. But that sinus blockage was a physical metaphor of my life right now:
- I haven’t worked on my book in two weeks – Writer’s Block
- I haven’t lost any weight since March (haven’t gained any either, but still…) – Plateau (or Weight Watchers Block)
- I have way cut back on my exercise – down to just squats and walking (Runner’s Block? – see Weight Watchers Block above)
- We still haven’t found anyone who will rent to us (Renter’s Block? – we are looking at a house this morning which is supposed to be a sure thing - hopefully…)
- Five and a half months since the buyers made their initial offer and our house still hasn’t closed (Escrow Block – although at least that means we have a place to live for a couple more weeks)
I wallowed in my blockage for the better part of the morning before deciding to take action. I don’t have any control over the last two items on the list, but here’s what I’m doing to unblock myself from the other three:
- Finally looked at the interviews for my next chapter and decided I need to solicit more interviews to have a full chapter.
- Going to increase the number of strength training exercises for now and slowly increase my walking as my asthma allows.
- Planning to up my freggie intake so I can still have food in the quantity I like, but with lower calories, higher fiber, etc.
Making plans and moving forward (if only a little) made me feel much better and the day ended on a positive note. I even found a topic for this blog post!!
Are you blocked? What can you do about it?
Many of my readers know that our family has been through a bit of a rough spot over the past few years (see A Business Lost, Head Sense vs. Heart Sense). One of the things I have learned during this difficult time is that if God presents an opportunity I should take it. A couple of weeks ago, that opportunity presented itself.
My Aunt Carol called out of the blue. We live in the same town, and see each other on Facebook regularly, but hardly ever talk on the phone. She told me that a reporter from our local paper had interviewed her for a story about rental prices in the Napa Valley and how hard it is to get into a rental if you have a Section 8 housing certificate. Aunt Carol has a full-time job with Child Start and is a mom to three adult daughters, adopted mom to one preschooler and foster mom of three boys, all under the age of five. She is saint, let me tell you. Anyway, she said that while she was talking to the reporter, she “felt a burden on her heart” to talk about our family. The reporter expressed an interest in talking to us so Aunt Carol was calling to give me the reporter’s phone number.
Now it was obvious to me that this was a sign from God, but being the attention-phobic person that I am I was still leery of “going public” with our problem. I know, I know, I’ve talked about it on the blog, but I have a readership of 200 on a good day and the local paper has a readership in the tens of thousands. I hope you’ll understand my trepidation. So I passed the phone number to Art.
The reporter, Jennifer, was so taken with her interview with Art, that she got permission from her editor to run a full story on us on the front page of the paper on Palm Sunday. (You can go here to read the whole story.) The point was not to make a big deal about us, but to put a face on a problem that is happening all over our country – families who used to be middle class that have been catapulted into poverty as a result of the current economic situation.
I didn’t know what to expect once the story ran – wasn’t sure how people would react. Of course there were a few who accused us of being “lazy” and “begging”. One even asked if we had paid the paper to run a front page story about us. (Seriously?) But 98% of the reaction was positive. We have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of good wishes and support from complete strangers as well as good friends. Our problem is not one that can be solved overnight, but just having it out in the open and knowing we’re not alone has made it so much easier to bear.
I had a dream. A big dream. And I want you to know about it. You might think I’m crazy, but I am claiming God’s promise to me and my family and the only way to do that is to tell everyone about it.
About a month ago, I dreamed that I was pregnant. Pregnancy is physically impossible for me, but we all know that dreams are symbolic. Dreammoods.com says: to dream that you are pregnant symbolizes an aspect of yourself or some aspect of your personal life that is growing and developing. You may not be ready to talk about it or act on it. Being pregnant in your dream may also represent the birth of a new idea, direction, project or goal.
Now, as most of my readers are aware, things have not been too great financially for the Morris Family over the past 2-3 years. Both Art and I have felt that this time of trial has been preparation for something awesome that God has in store for us. This dream confirmed that for me. But there was something extra special about it. In the dream, I was 8 months pregnant. That means the delivery is soon. Maybe even this week. I am so excited to see what God has in store for us!!
Over the past month we have been hit harder than ever. First Bud got food poisoning, then Boo, Art and I all got bad colds, which for me turned into a day in bed with the nebulizer. Our short sell fell through, but by the next day we had a buyer. My emotions have been on an hourly rollercoaster ride that has been sheerly exhausting. Even with the dream in my memory, it has still been very difficult to retain my hope.
Merriam-Webster defines hope this way: to expect with confidence. Well, I’m sorry to say my confidence has been shaky at best. But Romans 5: 3-5 reminds us: we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I asked Art the other day “What if it doesn’t get better?” And he reminded me that it always gets better. We just have to have faith. So I’m trying to take my hope to the next level. Because faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
So after a few nights of nightmares, two nights ago I had another dream. I was walking down a country lane talking to God. He said He knew that I had had a hard time lately, so he wanted to send me a sign to make me feel better; to help me see that our situation was about to get better. I looked to my right and saw a blue balloon tied to a mailbox. That was my symbol of hope. In my dream I felt so honored that God sent me that little symbol. I instantly relaxed and started enjoying the beautiful scenery around me. As I approached the end of the lane, I turned a corner and all of a sudden, there were hundreds of blue balloons filling the sky. It still makes me cry just thinking about it.
Please hope with me. Have faith with me. Our dream is about to be. I believe.
When the boys were little, in addition to their nightly prayers we also asked them a question every night, “:What are you happy for?” The answer had to reflect something that directly related to that day. Some nights they didn’t want to play the game and we would get answers like “I’m happy I’m going to bed” or “I’m happy this day is over.” Sometimes they were happy for a new video game or a visit with a favorite friend.
Art and I were not exempt from the game. Often we really had to rack our brains to come up with one thing to be happy for. After awhile we started to realize that there are many small things in a day for which we can give thanks.
As Bud and Boo got older and age and activities made it so there was no one bedtime for everybody, we slowly moved away from our nightly tradition. Circumstances changed in our lives and we became so busy running our new business that we forgot to give thanks for all the blessings we had.
Today our lives are not great. Every day is a struggle both monetarily and emotionally. I’ve decided it’s time to reinstate “what are you happy for?” I’ll go first:
Today I am happy for my husband, my sons, my family and friends, our puppy and big dog, a house to live in, food in the pantry.
What are you happy for?
All who take refuge in Him (God) are happy. – Psalm 2: 12b
As most of my readers know, our family has been struggling with financial troubles over the past few years. Needless to say, we were a little concerned that we wouldn’t even be able to afford Christmas presents for our boys this year. In addition, as the holidays approached, we were in danger of having our power turned off.
Then the week before Christmas we had 3 pleasant surprises. First, we received a check from a class action lawsuit – just enough to pay our utility bill. Next I found out I had won an Amex gift card in an online giveaway. Finally, Art’s parents sent us a Walmart giftcard to cover Christmas food and beverages. Now we were set for groceries, gas and a few Christmas presents.
Art and I agreed not to buy each other presents. We got excited about picking out a few gifts we thought the boys would really appreciate – they both got electric blankets and two other small gifts. I found some special deals on gift cards and baked furiously so we would have gifts for our parents. Finally, on Christmas Eve night, we looked happily at the tiny pile of gifts under the tree and breathed sighs of relief.
Christmas morning went as expected – everyone was pleasantly surprised by what they received. The boys had picked out some very thoughtful gifts for us as well. That afternoon, Art’s parents came over for dinner, which in our house is cold cuts, cheese, rolls, crackers, and various snacky items.
Afterwards, we had the second round of present-opening. I did not expect that Art and I would have any presents to open as Art’s parents had been helping us out financially for the past few months and we all were in agreement that it was most important for Bud and Boo to have a good Christmas. But as the gifts were distributed, everyone had one box to open. I was directed to open mine last.
Imagine my shock when on ripping open the paper I saw a netbook! I was completely tongue-tied. It took me a minute just to be able to blurt out an intelligible “thank you” to my in-laws. Bobbie said later she could tell by the look on my face it was a complete surprise. It turned out when Art found out his parents were insistent on buying us presents, he told them not to buy him anything but a bottle of Jack and to take the rest of the money they would have spent on him to buy me a really nice gift. My old computer is a desktop in the middle of the family room. I share this space with both boys and their computers, plus their friends and the occasional dog. Art knew I needed a computer I could move around with me; taking it into the bedroom or to the library so I could be alone with my thoughts and work on my blog.
After the in-laws left, I lost it. I loved the gift, but I couldn’t justify it in my head. I didn’t deserve all that sacrifice. I told Art how I was feeling and he told me he and his parents wanted to give me the computer. I realized that it wasn’t about whether or not I thought I deserved the gift. It was about the gift freely given. I was reminded that none of us deserve salvation either – yet there it is – freely given, as it says in Romans 3:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Just as I try to daily honor God’s gift in the way I live, I will also try to honor my Christmas gift by using it to the best of my abilities to write a successful blog.
As always, thank you for being part of the journey.
There’s a very old saying that originated in New Orleans back in the late 1800′s. I don’t know how I first heard it, but I used to say it to my boys when they were little. It goes something like this:
“Who dat who say who dat?”
“Who dat who say who dat who say who dat? …
I thought of this little saying the other day when I was having some problems with discernment. Sunday was not a great day. I woke up not breathing very well, so decided not to go to church. I did some chores, surfed the computer, did my devotions, wrote my blog, balanced the checkbook, and it all went downhill from there. We were about out of money with 2 1/2 weeks until the next paycheck. I was worried, but I didn’t want to worry anyone else, so I stuffed it down (always a bad idea).
Art & I went to the grocery store with the rest of a gift card his parents had given us. The register rang up a loaf of bread for 20 cents more than the price I had been told online. Art wanted to ask the cashier about it, but I begged him not to. Is that the point we’re at now? Arguing over 2o extra cents for a loaf of bread? I’m pretty sure the cashier gave us the 20 cents back just so we would stop arguing with each other and leave. I felt like I was going to cry, but I didn’t want to, so I stuffed it down (another bad idea).
Later that night we were making dinner and discussing the future. Art and Boo are both starting at our local community college in January. In September, Bud will be joining them. How exciting to have all 3 of my men furthering their educations together!! But that wasn’t on my mind Sunday night. I asked Art if he was going to get a job while he was in school (you may recall that Art has been unemployed since June 2009, not for lack of trying). I don’t even remember his reply – I’m sure it was something like, “Of course I’m going to do the best I can to find something.” All I remember is I freaked out. Let all the fear and sadness that had been building up inside me all day out in one spew of anger at someone who didn’t deserve it at all. And he talked back a little, but mostly he took it. And then we ate dinner and walked the dog and I went to bed.
Well, once I got to bed and had time to reflect on my day I realized what I had done and I felt absolutely horrible. I started beating myself up, telling myself I was a bad wife, bad mother, etc. I cried and cried. Art came to bed and I couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t even mad at me. He said we are all in a difficult situation and he understands that sometimes it’s just too much to handle. I think I actually felt worse – that he could be so understanding.
“Condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements (bad wife, bad mother). That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.
The Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us on what we need to do to right the wrong.”
So I took a deep breath and realized I was listening to the wrong voice in my head. I switched my thinking from I’m a horrible person to what can I do differently next time? If I had expressed some of my fear and sadness earlier in the day, allowed myself some grieving time, I wouldn’t have felt the need to lash out at Art.
Next time I screw up (and I know I will), and the voices in my head start speaking, I’m going to ask them “Who dat?”
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
So if you read my blog from Monday: The Hard Way, you know that last Sunday night my youngest son had a teachable moment. Sometimes we, as parents, need to let our children take the path they choose, even though we have (strongly) recommended otherwise. The consequences of these bad choices can often result in such teachable moments.
I like to think that now that I have been an adult for some 26 years, I don’t run into problems like these anymore. But doesn’t God give us teachable moments as well?
Art and I don’t call them teachable moments. We call them those times when God hits you over the head with a hammer and says “Wake up!” because you really weren’t listening to begin with. I guess teachable moment is easier to say, LOL.
Moses had a teachable moment when he encountered the burning bush that didn’t burn up. Now if I heard a voice talking to me out of a burning bush I would probably think I was going crazy, wouldn’t you? But Moses listened to what God had to say.
God told Moses, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)
This is about the time that Moses started doubting. “What if they ask me who sent me?” he inquired.
God said, “Tell them I AM WHO I AM sent you.”
“But what if they don’t believe me?” Moses asked.
So God gave Moses two signs to show the Israelites to prove his divine calling.
Then Moses said, “But I’m not a very good speaker.”
You can tell God is getting frustrated with Moses at this point. “Who gave you your mouth and the ability to speak? Wasn’t it me? Then don’t you think I will give you the words to say?”
Moses answered, “Look God, just send someone else.”
Exodus 4:14 says Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses. Can you blame him? Moses just wasn’t listening. God agreed to let Moses’ brother Aaron be the speaker, but he told Moses he would still have to perform the signs and tell Aaron what to say.
Moses finally saw that God’s way was best and went on to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
One of my teachable moments happened about 7 years ago when Art decided to start his own business. After months of research we decided to open a retail golf shop, found the franchise we liked, got approved as franchisees and even found a funding source, but try as we might we just could not find the right location. Everything we looked at was too expensive or the wrong size. Meanwhile, I was not very enthusiastic about the idea. I just wanted to continue to homeschool my kids and live the life we had.
In April 2004 we had one more location to look at and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I told Art I was done. He was going to have to start his business without me. He begged me to come along with him just to look at the place. “If this site doesn’t work out, we’ll call it quits. I’ll even take you out to lunch.” That did the trick.
Well, we got to the location and it was way too big and way too expensive and was going to require way too much work to fix up. I tried not to get that gloaty look on my place as we drove away to look for a lunch spot. I could tell Art was really upset. We ate our lunch mostly in silence. Then Art suggested we drive the back way out to the freeway. It was a road we had never taken before.
As we were going around a bend, I saw a building with a For Rent banner on it. “What would it hurt?” I thought, so I encouraged Art to pull over.We looked at the floor plans taped to the front door. The building was the right size and the right price. Still, I was skeptical. Hadn’t we already decided we were done? I peeked in the window to try to get a better view. And there I saw it. A tile entry. Almost the exact tile entry we had seen in a friend’s golf shop and decided would be perfect for our own. I just couldn’t argue with God anymore. That teachable moment had come.
What are some of your teachable moments?