this that and the other

Creator: mrs
Credit: Getty Images
Copyright: Martins Rudzitis

 

families are all different
we are made up of people with our own quiet struggles
our own patterns of behavior
our own uniqueness

my mom was the one of 5 children
the youngest daughter
and the only one to marry and have children

my sister and I pretty much had 4 mothers!

Friday, heaven gained the last Peterson sister
the Petersons are all together now
and that leaves our remaining family and friends
grieving over this loss…

here are some of my conflicting feelings…

on one hand this…

sadness for what is no more
frustration at the “different” way of completing the relationship

on the other hand that…

relief knowing that her mind is sound and there is no confusion
joy that she is experiencing peace
laughter thinking that she is bossing her sisters around in heaven 🙂

and the other
the conflicting feelings of grief.

this mother’s day is wrought with, molded with
conflicting emotions for me…
my mom is not here
my sister is the mom to two magnificent daughters
my niece is the mom to three absolutely fabulous girls
my friend recently passed away
my aunt Betty died two days ago
my aunt Mary died almost 3 years ago
my aunt Esther died nearly 10 years ago
another friend of mine just lost her mom 2 weeks ago…
and yet…
peace
comfort
faithfulness

When you pass through the deep, stormy sea,
you can count on me to be there with you.
When you pass through raging rivers,
You will not drown.
When you walk through persecution like fiery flames,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you,

I am doing something brand new, something unheard of.
Even now it sprouts and grows and matures.
Don’t you perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and open up flowing streams in the desert. – Isaiah 43: 2,19 (TPT)

the last 10 years have been
stormy
calm and peaceful
confusing
stressful
joyful
amazing beyond comprehension
filled with sadness
rewarding
challenging

When I can’t see, You lead me
When I can’t hear, You show me
When I can’t stand, You carry me
When I’m lost, You will find me
When I’m weak, You are mighty
You are everything I need – Everything, by Lauren Daigle

the joys and the sorrows
the ups and the downs
the light and the dark
the highs and lows

this
that
and the other

through it all
He is for me and with me…
He is for you and with you.

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing – The Blessing
the blessing of grace…

 

 

on living whole

a new day
a new month
a new decade
a new year…

2020

it seems the “buzz” about the new year is about vision…
looking forward with clear vision in 2020
clarity
focus

for me…
the newness that 2020 brings is about
wholeness
connectedness
and freshness

whole…and wholehearted living

“Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.  It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” – Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

connected…and connection

“Transformation begins in you, wherever you are, whatever has happened, however you are suffering. Transformation is always possible. We do not heal in isolation. When we reach out and connect with one another—when we tell the story, name the hurt, grant forgiveness, and renew or release the relationship—our suffering begins to transform.” – Desmond and Mpho Tutu, The Book of Forgiving

fresh…

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
— Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

At the very moment I called out to you, you answered me!
You strengthened me deep within my soul
and breathed fresh courage into me. – Psalm 138:3 (TPT)

this new year affords the opportunity for
a clean slate
a reset
with clarity
with focus
with determination
with the reality of humanness and frailty
along with
strength
courage
and hope

Stop dwelling on the past.
Don’t even remember these former things.
I am doing something brand new, something unheard of.
Even now it sprouts and grows and matures.
Don’t you perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and open up flowing streams in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (TPT)

 

All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
We will rise – Andra Day, Rise Up

fresh grace.

 

 

will the real you please stand up?

“My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (TPT)

To tell the truth, looking at my weaknesses forces me

to explore my authenticity
to experience the tension between my reality and what actually is
to embrace my vulnerabilities
to show up, be seen, and live brave

to enter the arena
become dusty, sweaty, covered with blood
battling the shame
fighting the comparison
struggling with scarcity

…you are not enough…work harder…be the best…don’t make mistakes…suck it up…lose weight…be smarter…have a plan B…be the ‘good girl’

to take off the thought that I have worn like a comfortable sweater
that has protected me
kept me safe
isolated me

that I will never be enough
I will need help…forever
that I have been…
damaged
broken
made less than

to explore this armor that I have worn like a second skin
becoming such a part of me that I didn’t know where the thought ended and I began

that I was
stunted
held back
impeded
hindered
from becoming more.

wounds

scars

breathe deep.

show up.

pray hard.

 

At the very moment I called out to you, you answered me!

You strengthened me deep within my soul

and breathed fresh courage into me. – Psalm 138:3 (TPT)

moving from

shame

scarcity

comparison

to

vulnerability

courage

bravery

getting rid of corrupt ideas of not being enough

standing to face my giants

unworthiness

inability

shame

with fresh courage

to take off the masks

to risk being seen

to dare to be me.

grace to dare greatly.

 

greater things

greater things.

sure — for other people
absolutely — for my friends
but for me?  greater things??

I have been learning a lot these last few months.
yes, I have started working in a field that is new to me
yes, I have had to learn new systems
and new practices
but the learning didn’t just begin and end there

greater things.

are you kidding me?

I have seen Ephesians 3:20-21 come alive in my life in the past 4 months.

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. (the Passion Translation)

oh, the privilege I have
every.single.day.

the stories
the hurt
the freedom
the shared burdens
the listening
the #IdontknowwhatIamdoingbutIshowupandgiveitago
the support
the team…yes, the team

greater things

I don’t know that I ever dreamt this for myself
I honestly don’t know that I ever imagined this

greater things

and yet…
here I am
headed in a new direction

restoration
redemption
renovation

You never fail
You never will
I trust Your name for greater things
You will come through
You always do
I trust Your name for greater things – Mack Brock

He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
    He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
    and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
    so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
    the valley of deepest darkness,
    fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
    Your authority is my strength and my peace. – Psalm 23 (the Passion Translation)

the journey
the path
the arrows pointing me this way

While one arrow can be easily broken, a bundle is tougher to break…Being held tight by the arrow-maker Himself.
Figuring it out.
Forging a path.
Walking a new direction.
Together. – Heather Land

arrows pointing to greater things
to refreshed truth
to restored faith
to revived spirit
to redemption

greater things…
fresh insight
renewed purpose and calling
beyond understanding

vulnerability
transparency

“We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.” – Mother Teresa

greater things.

great grace.

 

 

 

x factors

image found at radiotimes.com

it’s elementary, my dear
mathematics

addition
subtraction
multiplication
division

arithmetic

factor times factor
equals
product

content
process
product

is there a correlation?
could the “factors”
(the X factors)
be content
and process…

think on that…

Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God. – Isaiah 50:10

friends, I sometimes
most times
simply want the product
the thing
the job
the peace
the reason
the ability
the longing of my heart
the desire that burns intensely
the question answered
the pain taken away

the end result…
and of course I want that
in my time frame
and for it to look the way
I think it should —

how about you?

    See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back.
        I have chosen you, named you as My own.
    When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm;
        you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
    If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
        keep going; you won’t be burned. – Isaiah 43:1-2 (the Voice)

we negate the process
we don’t want to do the work
I don’t like
storms
or raging rivers
or flames
or being burnt

or accidents
or recovery
or bad news
or loss
or grief
or lack of ability

or not being able to see
with my eyes
or hear
with my ear
or taste
with my mouth
or smell
with my nose
or feel…

faith…
(maybe that is the x factor…)??

where does knowledge enter in?
when does the “what” appear?
am I concerned with “how”?

do I just want
IT – the product?

what happens when I get
“it”
and the process has been
bypassed?

what then?

scrambling to figure things out
anger
twisted thinking – why aren’t things fixed or better?
why don’t I know what I am doing?

I am reminded of the
milk/meat
conundrum that
often exists in our lives…

can you imagine
giving meat (or solid food)
to an infant?

there is a reason why
we as babes
are started out on milk…
it’s the process
we aren’t equipped to handle anything else

so maybe, just maybe,
when we get
milk
instead
of
meat

it is because we aren’t ready
we can’t handle it

our teeth aren’t developed enough to chew
our throats are strong enough to swallow
digestive juices
stomachs
intestines
the process of getting rid of waste
…all of these things simply are not ready
to handle the truth

what if
I got what I wanted
when I wanted it
and how I wanted it
to look, act, smell, taste, feel

what then?

would I be ready to handle it?

I can answer that with a resounding
NO

how about you?

on the flip side,
there are things that have happened
that I certainly wasn’t ready to handle…
and yet
they happened.

part of the process

We want clarity; God wants us to come closer.
Come closer to God who’s got it:
Lean on His love, Rely on His strength. – Ann Voskamp

trust it.

that’s hard.
that hurts.
that isn’t easy.

and yet…
God is still God.

I don’t say that to minimize
what we encounter
what we endure
the suffering
the pain
the hurt
the disappointment
the loss
the grief…
but I say that
as hope

that we can see the things in front of us
we can see the road of process
and because
God is still God
we have something else to focus on
somewhere to pull strength
Someone to lean on
and lean into
and Someone who
already sees beyond the process
to the product
to what can be
to what is

if not
then where is hope?
what is hope?
does hope exist?

so often
we want to skip the process
and we sometimes forget the
process

the work
the change
to our thoughts
to our feelings
to our actions
to our hearts…

how is that working for you?

it’s not working for me.

grace…the ultimate x factor

 

 

 

 

this was never supposed to happen

 

“The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the twirling…is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still.  The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.” – Lysa Terkeurst

today was never supposed to happen…

you see, today is a new beginning
another step in this adventure
kind of the culmination of the last 4 years…

today I am a counselor.

granted, I received my license and degree a year ago
but today….
today is a big day.

this day was not supposed to happen
graduating with a Master’s Degree was never supposed to happen
being able to take care of my daily needs, by myself, was never supposed to happen

my family was told that I would need round-the-clock care
I couldn’t walk
couldn’t talk
couldn’t read
couldn’t write
couldn’t remember….

that was eleven years ago.

so today…today is kind of a big deal.

I am trying to wrap my head around it.

as I am sitting here this morning,
drinking my coffee
getting ready for my day,
I can’t help but think about
where I was
where I am
and wonder what is ahead for me…

I know the plans I have for you, plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.  – Jeremiah 29:11 (the Voice)

I still have internal work to do
heart work…
but I know today
on this day that really was never supposed to happen
I am blanketed by

grace
love
peace
…hope

protected
safe
and ready.

the blanket of grace…

 

 

 

 

the mess of life and loss

oh the mess…
heartbreaking
glorious
ugly
beautiful
filthy
spotless
foul
sweet
full of shame
full of hope and redemption…

the mess of life…
the mess of loss.

kind of the same description, right?

this has been a difficult week…
to just scratch the surface

life was moving along

new changes
new purpose
beginnings
“endings”

then
it
all
came
to
an
abrupt
halt

with these 2 words

“Mary’s dead”

what?!
oh my goodness!
shit!

all of those.

my Aunt Mary was found
dead in her home

alone

did she suffer?
was she afraid?
did she cry out for help?

these are thoughts I have

coupled with

why didn’t I call her
why didn’t I help her with the severe attachment she had to things
what if I had checked on her
what if I had cared more
what if I stopped on my way home from work
what if
what if
what if

yes.
I know.
I will drive myself crazy with the “what-ifs”
she chose to be fiercely independent
I couldn’t change that

yes.
I know.

Mary lived a life that was focused –
on God, on her church, on her family

she loved God
she served God
she was selfless
she was obedient
she was always a student
she was a teacher to the core
she valued things that others wouldn’t
she loved her family
she gave the most unique gifts…

at Christmas
at Easter
on Father’s Day
on Mother’s Day
on St. Patrick’s Day
on the second Tuesday of the week
🙂

she just simply gave.

even knowing all of those things
the “what-ifs” still linger

the mess of life

and all that encompasses

the mess of loss

and wow…all that means

and those who are left have to sift through
and sort
and name
and rebuild

it’s going to take a minute.

a long minute

I am not sure if Mary had a notion that her days on this earth were coming to an end
but….
she had posted lyrics from “What a Day that Will Be”
on her Facebook page

yes, she was somewhat tech-savvy
(that is on days when she didn’t call me to tell me that she broke her computer)

just a couple of months ago

There’s coming a day
When my Savior’s face I see
When I look beyond the sky
To the one who died for me
He’ll take me by the hand
And lead me to the promised land
What a day, glorious day that will be.

premonition?
we’ll never know

but she is basking in that land
safe
surrounded by love
no pain

and living mess-free.

hope and grace.

 

 

 

 

what’s in your toolbox?

 

yes…yes, I do indeed have a toolbox
with tools! (actual picture above)

the toolbox is metal – a sort of olive-green color
and it’s old.
it was my Uncle Jim’s
he and his sister – Aunt Hazel – raised my dad
so Uncle Jim was the closest thing I had to a grandpa
he died when I was 7

I’m pretty sure he used this as a toolbox –
and maybe he used it to hold many similar tools in it

let’s see…
I have a tape measure
a hammer
various screwdrivers
some jute twine
a wrench
small nails
a box opener
several IKEA tools
pliers
scissors…

all necessary and useful tools

as a counselor, I refer to a toolbox often

professionally, to indicate those interventions that could be used in a session
or the knowledge that I have about treatment
or information that would be useful for a client

in a session, I might refer to a toolbox
as a place to keep “coping skills” – what we do to minimize the negative impact of something on our lives (stress)
so maybe we use our senses as a way to soothe – something to touch, hear, see, taste or smell
or maybe we do something to distract our minds
maybe we read or mediate on something affirming and inspiring
maybe we journal or practice mindfulness (tools for centering and grounding ourselves in the present moment)

a toolbox…
carries
holds
protects
organizes

what if…
(a great counselor segue)
a toolbox is more that a place to
put things that “fix”
things that are used to repair

but also a place where
our skills are kept
our abilities
our approaches to life
our motives
our perspectives
our gifts
our talents…

would the contents of your toolbox be seen differently?
can your “tools” change?

for example….

as a single, Jesus-loving, white woman
I have certain things in my toolbox
that might not be the same as
say
my married, Jesus-loving, mother of 2, best friend
or
the not-yet-married, Jesus-knowing, co-worker
or
the marriage-on-the-rocks, not.sure.where.Jesus.fits, acquaintance
or
the divorced, Jesus who?, individual I just met…

our toolboxes are different
because our lives are different
our experiences are different
therefore our tools are different.

when we know better
we can do better
and be better

and even though we have the tools in our toolbox
we sometimes try to use the wrong one
kind of like the square peg in a round hole analogy

for me,
I have faith and trust (skills) in my toolbox
but when faced with circumstances
I don’t grab those tools…
maybe I grab the sturdy, reliable, comfortable and familiar
self-doubt or anxiety or fear

in my “toolbox”
faith and trust are not always on the top
at the ready
waiting

sometimes
I have to sift and sort through
the doubt and the fear
and the anxiousness
to grab ahold of
those tools that are

tried and true
easy (not simple)
light
that really do fit to the shape of my hand (or my heart)

I think that every time I sort and sift
faith and trust and such skills
don’t get buried quite as deeply in the toolbox

and sometimes
I think that I need an additional
tool for the problem, situation, issue
when I really don’t

so…
what’s in my toolbox?

faith
fear
grace
self-doubt
mercy
discouragement
hurt
love
rejection
trust

it’s all there.
I don’t always choose the right tool
but I know it’s there
I also know that some of those tools
are out-of-place in my toolbox — they serve no purpose
at least no constructive purpose

have you ever tried tighten a screw with a hammer?
or tried to secure a nail with a wrench?

inefficient
dangerous

what if…
we cleaned out our toolboxes?
we removed tools that we have found to be destructive?
what if…
when we grabbed a tool from the box
we knew it would be useful?
maybe we can commit to at least attempting this…

it isn’t simple —
the comfortable, the familiar
the predictable “tools…we make them work.
but, maybe they are even tools at all.

maybe they are not fresh and good…
maybe they are keeping me in chains…
maybe they have become weapons…

the instrument of grace…

 

on not being able to breathe

have you ever been unable to breathe?

have you ever been figuratively
hit in the gut with something
that has literally
knocked the breath out of you
and you can’t breathe?

this something
takes
your
breath
away

just when you were
learning to breathe again…
to inhale and exhale

your breath is knocked out of you

paralyzing
spasm
lungs are unable to inflate
nerves send pain messages to your brain

but.all.you.want.to.do.is.catch.your.breath

panic
anxiety
sets in.

any forward motion that you thought you had achieved
is seemingly erased with one blow to the gut.

what you thought you knew to be true
and right
is no longer that way.

those sharp, quick intakes of breath
seem like much-needed oxygen now

now you have more questions…without answers
your faith seems weak – but is it really?

hesitation
unsettled
not suffocating
but unable to catch a breath –
to completely inflate your lungs
so that live-giving oxygen is
transported to your starving
and atrophying organs
unable to feel completely –
your nervous system firing
S.O.S signals
instead of peace and problem-solving –

panic and anxiety
set in – with all of their relatives
and start to set up camp in
your mind…directly affecting
how you feel and what you do…

so…
what do you do?

perhaps you act – instead of responding
perhaps you don’t act – because you can’t
perhaps you just sit and ponder, even wallow

the ‘what-ifs’
knock on your door…
trying to sell
despair and gloom
and they just seem to be in a never-ending
line that loops around the block —
they are everywhere you look…

what if…
what if…
what if…

but
asking what if
even inviting him into your house
to sit with you and enjoy a cup of coffee
is not a bad thing, always

what if…
this is truly a part of this bigger picture
that no one can see?

what if…
this is truly part
of something greater than you could ever think or imagine?

what if…
the hurt
the questions
the absolute interruption
the unknown future
the unsettled present
what if during that all
you begin to know – to fully comprehend
and realize
that
even if…
not what if…

even if
God is still good

even if…

we don’t
I don’t
want to think of that part of life…

thinking of the “what-ifs”
constantly – like a never-ending loop –
the pattern becomes set
like water flowing down a bank –
with the constant flow, a path is eroded
and the water has but one “choice” of
direction, of where to go

but…
thinking
even if
kind of puts a roadblock in that
carefully gouged and worn direction
and it changes that path, that pattern
and the familiar and comfortable
and the way of least resistance
is challenged – and we are left
feeling as if we’ve been sucker punched.

can I get a “me too”?

I started to write and think and ponder this about one instance
but then I realized I’ve been there –
doubled over with the wind knocked out of me
(who am I kidding, I’m there now)
and I imagine that so many of us
have been there (or are there) too

maybe “even if”
allows us more freedom to

question
to doubt
to wonder
to feel
to think
to act

because maybe
wrapped up in
the “even ifs”
are nuggets of Truth
and the even if creates a new path –
and new way of thinking

maybe if we are able to see
the thing that has
knocked the wind out of us

truly see it
touch it
smell it
taste it
hear it

we can tangibly comprehend
the complexity of it…
and not see through it, but

see past it
to possibilities
to hope

to the “even if” part of this journey.

even if…
God is still good.

His goodness
His character
does not depend on our circumstance
or our feelings
or our thoughts
or even what we do

He remains.

even if God is the One who has come
and knocked the wind out of you

He remains –

remains
faithful
merciful
full of grace
loving
forgiving
patient

He remains.

and maybe, just maybe
we can end up transformed
in our thoughts and realize that
the blow to the gut was not
God knocking the breath out of us —
maybe we realize that He is truly
breathtaking

Life without Him creates a vacant void that causes your lungs to collapse at the very center of who you are. (Amena Brown)

the sucker punch of grace…

 

 

 

 

 

 

how bizarro

maybe this could be a great title of a book…
mine
yours
ours.

ever think that you live in a bizarro world…
things are upside down and backwards
and jumbled?

I do.

let me put this out there…and please don’t judge me.
I
am
not
a
comic
book
fan…
and I probably couldn’t tell you
the difference between
DC and Marvel…
don’t be a hater.

but…
I do very much relate to a bizarro world

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”  – Charles Baudelaire

yesterday I participated in the culmination
of perhaps the most
upside down
jumbled
shaken up
bizarro
happenings of the past 5 years

or even of the past 25 years…

yesterday
a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling
was conferred upon me…

the girl who was not supposed to be walking
or taking care of herself

yesterday
I walked across the stage,
feeling like I was being funneled through a conveyor belt of graduates
I
walked
across
the
stage.

bizarro

yesterday
all of the reading
and the writing
and the researching
and the testing
and the memorizing
and the learning how to be a counselor
became official

bizarro

yesterday
all of the miles driven
over the past 3 1/2 years
all of the short nights
and long days
and lack of sleep
became worth it…

bizarro

yes, I actually finished in December
and was licensed in January…
but it finally all felt official
yesterday.

bizarro

yesterday
my family and friends helped me celebrate…
they have supported and encouraged me
and walked this journey with me
my tribe has been rooting for me this whole time…
and the bizarre thing about this?
my mom.

she died before I was even thinking about pursuing
my master’s degree
she didn’t know about…
the long days and short nights
the balancing of school and work…and squeaking in time to spend with people
the long drives
the reading and writing and memorizing and testing and learning
she didn’t know.

bizarro.

yesterday was bizarro.

how was I feeling yesterday?
I couldn’t answer that question when I was asked…I didn’t know

but today…
today I can look back on the bizarre yesterday and
say that I feel
free and hopeful.

even though I am 5 months past being done
am not currently counseling
have experienced rejection and disappointment
and am not sure what is next…

and I am confused about God’s timing
and even His purpose for me, sometimes…
and have questions with no answer…

I feel hopeful.

bizarro

jumbled
upside down
backwards…

and yet
freedom and hope

bizarro

you see…
who would have ever thought this would happen?
who imagined that the lifeless and broken
form that was hooked up to tubes and cords
to help keep her breathing and alive
would
ever
be
able
to
accomplish this?

bizarro

the beauty
and mystery
of God
that He steps into
our lives

the upside down-ness
the jumbled and broken
the backwards and skewed

and sees what we cannot see
and believes what we cannot even fathom

and makes it right.

bizarro grace.

(Inspired by commencement address at ATS by Rev. Efrem Smith)

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