Dawn Chorus

I’m an early bird. There is something soul nourishing about being awake in the stillness. The crisp morning air . The scent of clean earth. There is so much hope and promise in a sunrise. Nothing has been done yet. No decisions or mistakes. No conversations that you wish you could do over. And the birdsong. I love the birdsong. I make my coffee (#priorities) and snuggle down in my favorite place; a big oversized chair in our living room that looks out through a bay window. In front of the window is a bird feeder. I can sit for hours just watching every sort of chickadee and sparrow flit down to peck a few seeds and fly away. They are a delight to watch and their plumage never ceases to amaze me. But it’s their song I love the most. Before the first rays appear, while it is still dark, they begin.

.bird singing

How do we sing in the shadowed places? The birds sing in anticipation of the first glimmers of dawn. Long before the arrival of the first light they sing with assurance the sun will rise again like it’s done thousands of times before. They sing of hope and faithfulness. Not every song is buoyant.Beside the joyful twitter of the bluebird is the haunting coo of the mourning dove.There have been so many times when I thought midnight would last forever.When my song was nothing more than the choked out sobs of despair. But I kept scanning the horizon, looking for the dimmest glow in anticipation of it’s arrival. It’s not that I’m the eternal optimist.(though my rose colored glasses are well used). It’s the fact that no matter my situation God has been faithful to me. Whether you sing a melody or a dirge I promise you God is listening and He is faithful to you when you call to Him. Always. Even when it feels like you’ve been singing for an eternity without an audience.

.flock of birds singing

Tomorrow morning I urge you to go outside and listen to the chorus. The lyrics intertwined, overlapped, a blended cacophony of unique warbles, twitters, and trills. Not one more important than the other This is their Dawn Chorus not a Dawn Solo. The birds don’t sing alone and we aren’t meant to either. We have to find our flock. When we intone our hymns of grief there will be others grieving with you. When we explode with uncontained joy there will be others who rejoice with us! Their voices lifting up our own song in solidarity. Find the ones who remember the light that came after their darkness. Those are flock. Your people. The ones who will help you remember the sunrises of your past.Search the horizon together and sing your Chorus of anticipation to the God who shines light in the dark.

God sunrise

Jesus and the Phone Charger

As Easter approaches my 10yr old son and I have had some interesting discussions about Jesus. He is a quick thinking, no nonsense type of child who appreciates a no nonsense, ‘real world application’ answer.Luckily, I happen to be fairly gifted in the area of metaphors.
His most recent question was this, ” What do we need Jesus for if we already have God?” “Well”, I answered, we needed someone to reconcile us with God; to take our sins away so that….” Looking at the blank stare on his face my sentence trailed off unfinished. I’m pretty sure I lost him somewhere around ‘reconcile’. Eager to capture this teachable moment I quickly rifled through my rolodex of Sunday school explanations. Spying my phone I had my lightbulb moment!
“Okay, pretend the cell phone is us and the wall plug is God. You know how you have to have a cord to get from the phone to the wall so that you can charge it? The cord is Jesus. In order for us to be connected with God, we needed a charger. Now, imagine that the phone has a glitch in it, but the Jesus charger takes all the glitches away so that it can absorb the power in the wall. At this point there is a light coming into my son’s eyes and he’s no longer playing with the remote. Ha! I’ve got him! So I continue.
“And you know how when we buy the cheap imitation chargers they break easily and take For Ev Er to charge the phone? But the original charger works every time and never fails? The cheap imitation chargers are like all the things in life that people chase instead of Jesus. Money, fame, false religions, girlfriends, cars…those are the imitation chargers and Jesus is the original. The imitations work ok for a while, but their power runs out pretty quickly and they can’t fix the glitches. In fact , sometimes they add more glitches because they weren’t meant for the phones in the first place. The original Jesus charger never lets us down, fixes the bugs and keeps us connected to the original power source; God.Does that make more sense?”Mentally I am now high fiving myself for this moment of parental brilliance amazed I could come up with something so simple yet so deep at 8pm after my glass of Sav Blanc.
Son,” Cool. Can I have a snack?”
And this, my friends, is what keeps me humble.

                                                    A Certain Kind of Courage

Courage is found in unlikely places;

in shattered dreams and tear stained faces.

Raising your hand in front of the class when you’re so afraid they are going to laugh.

Proclaiming the truth and exposing the lie.

Whispering secrets you’d locked inside.

Choosing to live when your loved one is dead and finding the will to get out of bed.

It’s seeking forgiveness

and asking for help.

It’s forcing a smile and facing yourself.

It’s shaky legs that stand up for the weak and the timid voice

that bravely squeaks.

It’s finding your dark and choosing the Light.

Loving yourself;

being able to cry.

It’s laying it all at your Saviour’s feet;

all of the messy and none of the neat.

Trusting His strength and His sovereign hand.

Having Peace in your journey without knowing the plans.

-C.Pay 2015

Everything I Know about Fighting I Learned from my Son

If you fell down yesterday stand up todayIf you met me today, you would say that I was a fighter. A strong woman who won’t take sass from anyone. Such was not always the case. I suppose I have always been competitive. In fact, I’m Sure I’ve always been competitive both with myself and others. We may be friends, but if you play a card game with me the gloves come off! 😉 Fighting however is a different matter altogether.  Being sexually abused stunted my growth in so many ways.I didn’t get the chance to learn to fight small skirmishes and build my stamina over the years. I lost the first battle. A huge battle. And the scars went to the core. Instead of coming out of it with my fists raised to the sky I learned to contract into myself. Curl into a little roly poly until the danger passes. If fighting and losing was going to hurt that badly then why do it at all.

Then I had my son. There’s something about holding a tiny defenseless baby that smells like heaven.Instinct and love tell you that you must do whatever it takes to protect this child. That’s what ‘good’ parents do, right? What if you don’t know how to fight? What if the idea of it grips you with terror? If my son asked me how I learned to fight, I’d tell him this:

From the time I was pregnant I fought the nausea, the weight gain, the labor pains. When they let me take you home, I fought the panic that I had no idea what I was doing.

I warred against insecurity, ignorance, and impatience.

Croup, ear infections,and teething became my world and I fought for sleep.I wrestled to comfort you, quiet you, soothe you to no avail.In the morning I went to work and fought to stay awake.

I fought to maintain your home in the face of my divorce and when your father threatened to abduct you, I fought to hide you and keep you safe in my arms.

As a single mom I struggled to support us, to find time with you between jobs, to make sure you felt loved and not left.

School was hard for you and I campaigned for your education, to understand you, to support you.

They diagnosed you soon with ADD and then with Bipolar disorder and I rose up against dread. I battled to get appointments, good doctors, the right medications. I pushed against their assumptions of your bleak future and counter argued with hope.I devoured every piece of information on mental illness and armed myself with knowledge.

As you slept at night and I sat by your bed and cried. I fought the fear that I could never be worthy of being the parent you needed. I cried out to God for the strength to be your champion.

I waged war with  broken school systems and burned out teachers. I stood strong during IEP meetings and counseling sessions. I became the parent who wouldn’t take back down because of bureaucracy.

I fought bad influences and bullies. Internet filth and video game overload.

In the most challenging combat I put myself as a barrier between you and your stepfather’s cruelty. Some battles I won, but too many were lost.  Paralyzing fear attempted to keep me down but with each encounter I slowly learned to stand for us.

I endeavored  to discipline you, teach you , love you, protect you. Sometimes; many times; from yourself.

I fought my own demons and dark.

I went to war on my knees in fervent prayer. Over and over and over.

I fought against you. You fought against me. And sometimes, we fought together.

When you became my prodigal son I fought to teach you responsibility, accountability, consequences. I fought to be a good parent (whatever that is)

You pulled away and I fought to be part of your world, to let you go without losing you, to accept your differences, and to make you know that my love was eternal.

Fighting for you gave me strength. Praying for you deepened my faith. With every blow I landed for you another one of my own demons went down and I found my armor, piece by piece. My son, I know I gave you life, but you gave me back mine.

affliction

Holding Patterns

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I’ve heard it been said that laughter is a universal language. Let me also offer this as a universal : the extreme dislike of Waiting. Never in my life have I met someone who actually enjoyed waiting for things to happen. For me, it’s right up there with doing your taxes and horrible stomach pains from Indian food…you just want it to be over. I tend to be the type of person who wants things done yesterday. And if I’m really excited or anxious about it then having it finished by last week would be preferable.

This isn’t something I feel with people. With people, I tend to be very patient and empathetic to the point of enabling. (see my post on ‘Breaking Ties with Toxic’) It’s not the type of waiting such as being in line at Disney or on hold with the gas company for 45 minutes I’m referring to . I mean waiting for Life Changes.You’re ready to get married, get the promotion, move, have a baby, start a business, do SOMETHING,but the pieces won’t fall into place. Or even more frustrating, you don’t know where you’re supposed to go next. You just know that there’s Something More. The “Next Big Thing” is waiting for you, if you could just figure out what the “Next Big Thing” is. This is me. Right now.

Over the past few years God has been repeating one phrase to me over and over.

Be. Here. Now

Be. Here. Now.

Be. Here. Now.

Be . Here. Now.

Honestly, I love Him, but He can annoy me. After I quit whining about it and started saying the phrase out loud a few hundred thousand times it started to make sense. Also, my life wasn’t moving where I wanted it to go so I figured I should pay attention. Here’s what I’ve learned:

BE . Here . Now. Just Be. Stop striving to make the deal or manipulate the circumstances. Stop obsessing over the what if’s and should be’s. Slow down and breathe. Listen to your heart.Spend more time listening to God than shooting ‘why’ questions at Him. God doesn’t speak Whinese. Nurture yourself and take time to do the things you love. Read, paint, draw, pray,write, work out. Do the things that make you lose track of time. Immerse yourself into anything but striving for the ‘Next Big Thing’ and the answers will begin to reveal themselves. “Let be and be still, and recognize that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 AMP

edna mode never look back

Be . Here. Now. Not back then. Not there. Not when.Not someday. Here. There is a reason you are at this place at this time. There are lessons to be learned here that will get you there. Examine the obstacles you bump into repeatedly and figure out what you need to change to avoid them.Planes stay in a circular holding pattern while they await permission to land. Timing has to be right and obstacles must be cleared from the runway before they can execute a successful landing. Be assured that God is working things out and clearing the pathway you will land on. In HIS timing. *Sigh*

Be. Here. Now.  You know that cheesy quote, ” the past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift which is why it’s called the present”.? It’s true. I have spent wayyy too much time worrying over what I should have done yesterday and what might happen tomorrow. What I’ve found is that the past doesn’t change if I rehash it and most of the things I worry about never happen. What Does happen when I don’t focus on now is the people I care most about lose out. They lose out on my full attention and presence. And I lose out on enjoying them. If I’m trying to hold onto the past or grab at the future my hands are too full to embrace the ones right in front of me. The best thing I can do on while waiting for  the ‘Next Big Thing’ is to make memories along the way my family will cherish.

The craziest thing I’ve learned so far? Is sometimes the ‘Next Big Thing’ is the thing I’m doing right now. Maybe someday I’ll listen to God without whining about it first. Maybe.

How do you cope with waiting for life to happen?

Breaking Ties with Toxic

Recently, I was listening to a dear friend of mine talk about how difficult it was to break away from a toxic family member . She feels torn. Sad. Angry. Family is supposed to help each other; not hurt one another. Maybe if she just ignored him . What if she was nicer? Wait, what if she confronted him?! Then he’d see how much he was hurting everyone and he would change! She feels like she needs to repair the relationship because that’s what good Christians do. We are supposed to turn the other cheek; 70 times 7 and all that stuff. Right?

Her dilemma resonated so deeply with me. I spent most of my life believing those lies and only had the strength and wisdom to change about 5 years ago.I am a recovering Enabler. We are the people who want to help everyone and fix everything. You can usually spot us by the heart on our sleeves and our rose colored glasses. We truly believe there is good in everyone no matter how much $%^& it’s buried under. I’m not saying this is inherently a bad thing. I still believe there is (mostly) good in everyone. The difference is I now recognize the people who want to change for their betterment and those that don’t.Guard your heart

Toxic people are the ones that give you that ‘ugh’ feeling in the pit of your stomach. They are the ones that make you cringe when you see them on your caller ID. The ones that leave you feeling drained and unsettled after being with them. My sister has been instrumental in teaching me this. While I ignored the ‘ugh’, thinking I could somehow love the jerks out of their jerkiness, she was walking the other way saying, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that!’ Hence, I married two of the jerks and finally , after learning a thing or two, married my Knight.

What I learned in my 40 years wandering The Desert of Enable, is that truly toxic people are so wrapped up in themselves that they aren’t aware or concerned that you’re being hurt.They need and they need and they need. And we, the big hearted wide eyed enablers keep on loving and loving and loving. We find it hard to leave because we just can’t understand Why they act this way. If only we could categorize it somehow maybe then we could fix it. Unfortunately, Toxics don’t change until THEY realize that they have a problem.

My other Desert lesson was this: Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or accepting. Forgiving them means that I take my anger and frustration to God and let Him deal with it. (This.Is.HARD! Honestly, punching them would feel far more satisfying and be much quicker but I haven’t found any scripture to back up this method yet. Still looking.)

God tells me to forgive those who hurt me, but He never says to roll over and be used and abused. In fact, He says, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” Ps. 4:23. As a mother and an artist, I need a clean open heart in order to love and create. If I let someone in who chooses to fill me with poison, then my ability to love is stunted and my ability to create is diminished!

There have been times when I confronted a Toxic with their behaviour and they were truly repentant and worked to make amends and repair my broken trust. Other times, my Come to Jesus meetings with Toxics have not gone so well. Those times I’ve been yelled at, put down, and told I was the crazy one and maybe if I was a better wife, friend, mother… they would be happier. Sometimes, the best way to forgive And save your heart is through prayer at a distance.Perhaps, sometimes ‘turning the other cheek’ means turning and walking the other way.

Never say Never

“Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are? Ha ha ha bless your soul. You really think you’re in control? Well I think you’re crazy, I think you’re crazy. Just like me.” – Gnarls Barkley ‘Crazy’

Someone says, ‘I’ll never have kids/get married/move from this town/go back to school….’. We laugh and reply, ‘Never say never!’ Sage advice that we’ve all spoken and eaten when we broke our own ‘Never’ vows. Time and circumstances change rapidly and unexpectedly. What was once inconceivable now enters the realm of possibility and probability. We see our lives differently so we make different choices. This is the operative word. CHOICE. ‘Never’ was a CHOICE we were making. Our destination seemed logical, planned, thought out. We believe we have a modicum of control.

Then out of the blue events happen that make you a victim. The rug gets ripped out from under you and panic mode sets in. How many of us have been in this situation? Life is going along just fine and Wham! Unexpected, unwanted, unimaginable changes occur. How we make decisions in those moments is based on our level of fear . No one. I repeat, NO one, knows how they will react when fear sets in . Fear paralyzes. It grips you and guts you leaving you void of reason. .

“I’d never tolerate my husband having an affair! I’d be out of there!” . But he did. And you didn’t.

“I’d never get raped. I just wouldn’t put myself into that kind of situation”.  But you didn’t think it would be someone you trusted. And you didn’t think they’d convince you that it was your fault and people would hate you if you told.

“I’d never even think of killing myself. ” Maybe you haven’t felt that depressed yet.

“I’d never stay with an abusive man.” But you did hoping he would change and love you like he promised.

I’ve met women and been a woman who’s been dealt some of these cards. You know why we always say ‘Never’. Because it hasn’t happened yet! We believe we are invulnerable because we have to . In order to feel safe, we imagine that if we act differently , are stronger, more outspoken, more discerning than those poor souls, then somehow we’ll avoid those tragedies. As a survivor of abuse I can tell you that hearing how you would have done things differently only serves to make me feel blamed. We are already so good at blaming ourselves for screwing up and breaking those ‘Never’ vows that the last thing we need is for someone to pass judgement on our behaviour. All of us have lofty ideas of what we’ll do when (insert bad thing here) happens. The problem is that we construct those lofty ideas sitting in cushy chairs and not from a place of shock and fear.

Blame doesn’t promote healing it promotes hiding. Most of us have been hiding in the dark for a long time.Healing starts in the light. Let us talk and vent and say the disagreeable ugly things that make you feel uncomfortable about your own safety. But mostly, create a safe place of light for us to come to. Love and listen and then love and listen some more.For a victim to tell you their story is a courageous leap of trust and a great honor. Match that with your own bravery. The bravery to look into the things you are most frightened of to help another heal. I can’t think of a more noble position than that.

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. And everything that is illuminated becomes a light”. 

                                                                                                                                             Ephesians 5:13