tribute to the dads in my life

Because we are still in full-on “go” mode, our celebrating of Father’s Day won’t happen til tonight…but I’ve been enjoying reading other’s posts and reflecting on dads.

My dad is gone, and I miss him, and think very often of how overwhelmingly proud he would have been of all of his grandchildren. I can just imagine how he would have beamed (or realistically, gotten all teary…because he did that a lot after the grandkids were born) at each of their performances, games, awards and accomplishments. I know he would have bear-hugged his “Peanut” with tears in his eyes at her graduation this weekend. He would have told everyone about the judge’s comments on his “Bubba’s” performance at the Boyertown Idol competition…and probably told a few people more than once. He would have been amazed at the plays on the baseball field that “Sunny” makes, and chuckled and gotten quite a kick out of the bigger-than-himself attitude (the same one that makes me, the mom, a bit crazy) that his “Doc” displays when he gets frustrated by the same game. He would have been sure to meet every one of my frustrations with my kiddos with a “Yeah, but…” because he could mostly only see the good in his grandchildren.

In the absence of my own dad, I’ve come to appreciate even more the relationship and involvement of my father-in-law in our, and our kids, lives. He has not only sat through many, many a baseball game, orchestra concert, choir concert, etc…he has helped to run to practices on weeks when they were having the kids stay with them…which was no small thing in itself! He went on a field trip when neither Todd nor I could make it, and if there has ever been anything we needed or asked of him, he has always gone out of his way to be there for us. He’s quick to encourage and affirm the things going on for us and the kids.  He’s both a great dad and grandfather.

And then, of course…my amazing husband. This man runs…I would say tirelessly, but to be honest, it’s VERY tiring, and most times he’s quite exhausted…yet always continues to push through on behalf of us. He has always made our marriage a priority…one of the best things we both believe that can be done for our children. He would be the first to downplay all he invests in our kids, and quick to feel it’s not enough…but I can see the impact he has on them. For each of our kids he is always “in their corner”…believing in them, seeing their potential, trying to figure out the best way to equip them to be all that God has created them to be.  He recognizes their individuality…the unique gifts and talents…and actively and dedicatedly gives his all to draw out their potential.  As with building anything, the process is long and slow, and it’s hard to see the progress sometimes…but Todd takes his responsibilities to build healthy kids very seriously, and I’m blessed far more than I could begin to express to be partnering in the journey called life with him. He’s my very best friend, and there’s no one else in the world that I would want to parent with more than him. I’m amazed by his dedication, his wisdom, and his love as a father.

Dads and granddads like these don’t just ‘happen’. Men make choices, make sacrifices and invest themselves in becoming like this for their families. Often it goes unnoticed and unappreciated. I suspect my own kids are a bit unaware of what an amazing dad they have, because it’s their ‘norm’. But one day, I do believe, they will look at their dad, and their grandfathers and feel the full weight of appreciation for them.

As for now, I do see it, and want to say Thanks…and Happy Fathers Day…to Todd, Marlin…and my daddy, though he be in heaven.

open letter to Little League coaches

Dear Coach,

First, let me commend you on the time and dedication that it takes to do what you do. I am very well aware (being married to a coach myself) of the hours that are required of you beyond the two-to-four that you are actually on the field. There is so much behind the scenes…the communication with the league officials and other coaches, communication with parents, coordinating game schedules, evaluations, field maintenance, preparing line ups…just to name a few. Your commitment to the game, your team and the community is no small one. And for that I say a sincere thank you.

Also, the knowledge and love of the game of baseball itself that you obviously possess is something I both appreciate and admire. There are more rules and intricacies than the average observer even really knows…especially in Little League, as there are specific requirements that are affixed beyond just a normal baseball game. There are codes of conduct to be observed, specifications of equipment and plenty of other details set in place to serve the best interest of the children involved.

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Which brings me to my main intent for this letter. The best interest of the children…can we talk about that for a moment?

After observing many a coach over the past seven years that my own three boys have been involved in Little League, I think maybe a reminder might be in order that this whole deal is supposed to be about the kids. It’s supposed to help them learn the game of baseball…give them an understanding of the fundamentals and develop skills. It also serves to teach them life skills such as team play and good sportsmanship. It’s about connection with other people in the community, citizenship and having fun. It’s supposed to teach them concepts such as respect and fairness and affirmation. In case you are unsure about the truth of those things, let me remind you of that little pledge that we have so often recited…

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Little League Pledge

I trust in God 
I love my country 
And will respect its laws 
I will play fair 
And strive to win 
But win or lose 
I will always do my best

Or maybe we should revisit the stated Mission of Little League, and let this sink in for a few moments…

Through proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists children in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. By espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty, the Little League Baseball and Softball program is designed to develop superior citizens rather than superior athletes.

Proper guidance. Exemplary leadership.

That’s you, coaches. It’s also us, parents. I think maybe we all need to take a breath and calm down. We need to process some facts, and gain some perspective.

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Little League’s goal is NOT to produce superior athletes. Are there MLB players that started out in LL? Sure. Definitely. But here’s some cold hard stats that might help us to come back to reality, and hopefully enable us to chill out a little bit at the next big rivalry game between the local sporting goods store and the VFW.

According to Little League stats, fewer than 10 percent of all youth baseball players will even play high school baseball, let alone college or pro ball. Only 6.7 percent of high school seniors go on to play NCAA baseball—all divisions. Of that elite group, 9.7 percent will play professional ball at any level. Fewer than 1 percent of high school players will be drafted.*

Did you process that? Very few of our little guys will even continue to play through high school; next to none will actually make it to The Show.

Now, with all those insightful reminders, let’s make it personal.

We parents, we are entrusting our children to you. Not just their physical beings, but their emotional ones as well. I’ve learned a lot over the years about this whole releasing process. I’ve learned that, for boys, (because I can only speak from the perspective of boys in this area) there’s something about letting them take these first steps toward being men. I’ve learned to let them take their lumps and tough it out. I’ve learned to keep my butt firmly planted in that chair when my kid hits the ground in pain, and let the coaches rush to them first. I’ve learned to let others make the calls like “walk it off” or “put some ice on it”, and I’ve learned to trust that they’ll say “we need Mom over here…” when they really do. That’s no small thing, that trust I’m placing in you, Coach. But I’m willing to go there.

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I’ve learned not to be offended when my son gets yelled at to “Hustle!!” or when they have to take a lap for lack of effort. I’m not blind to my childrens’ flaws, bad attitudes or other areas that need improvement. I know that they can tend toward taking the easy way out, and sometimes need to be pushed. I’m under no delusion that I alone will work character in them. And I’m not at all opposed to them being made to work hard, or to be stretched in their ability to make them better. In fact, I’m all for those things.

What I really take issue with is when I see my own, or other children, putting forth effort and being shamed for lack of ability, or for lack of simply doing or being what you WANT them to. It’s when you remain deafeningly silent when the child who struggles to put the bat on the ball comes to the plate, because we all know you are filled with angst over having to ‘endure’ what you know is likely to happen in these moments. Where is the encouragement? Where is the affirmation for giving effort?

Do you remember why we are here? It’s not to win every game. It’s to build strong children.

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When you roll your eyes and turn your back on a child who has just struck out, you are communicating that they have completely and utterly failed. And more specifically, that they have failed YOU. When you actually say things like “good try” is a statement to not be made, because trying doesn’t matter if you don’t ‘succeed’….you have clearly lost sight of the big picture.

May I remind you that in every single MLB game I’ve ever watched there are many strike outs?

These children WANT to do well. They want to please you. They want to make their parents proud. Contrary to what you think, when you shame them, you are not spurring any kind of improvement…especially when their physical ability and skill level actually prevents them from even being able to meet your desires. You are working the exact opposite, in fact. You are tearing them down, you are robbing them of courage, and you are eroding their confidence toward stepping out, trying something new or pushing themselves to the next level.

Listen, I understand intensity. I understand a healthy level of competitiveness. I understand yelling coaching-statements such as “Where’s the play?”, “Ready positions!”, “Hit the cut-off!” and “Cover the plate!”

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I’m not even saying “Don’t yell.”

I’m saying, can you please stop demoralizing? Screaming statements like “What are you doing??” or disgustedly spatting “You should be better than that…” are not helpful. Those statements have gone beyond the actions of the game and are demeaning their personhood.  Sure, they probably had a moment of not knowing exactly what to do (as they are in the LEARNING phase of both life and baseball…so this happens, regularly), and whether they should or should not be better, in your opinion, is irrelevant.

And please, do not yell “What’s wrong with you?”, because I will happily answer that question for you right now. NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with that child! They are a child, they are learning the skills and thought processes involved in this game, and they simply might not be quite as adept at it as you are yet. Not surprising, since they are probably about 8-12 years old to your likely 30-40+ years.

Would this kind of berating work well to encourage you in your workplace? No? Then, I think it’s safe to assume it’s not going to work here either.

So, while I am able to entrust their physical being to your coaching care on the field, I need you to know that they are still not yours. I am, at this point, the final authority in their life, and I will not allow you to emotionally damage what I am working so very hard to build. If you would like to partner with me in building a strong person out of my child, I welcome you. But I will not allow you by words or actions to communicate to them that they are inferior, or lacking, or a failure in any way. They are not on that field solely for the purpose of winning, or fueling your competitive ego.

When your team walks off that field, heads hanging in shame, the failure is not theirs.  When specific players are named and blamed for a loss, the failure is not theirs.  When a child leaves a game, or a season, never again wanting to pick up a bat, the failure is not theirs.

It is yours.

Your job is not to produce a star athlete, it is to help build a healthy child.  Every loss experienced is an opportunity to teach character, and when that doesn’t happen, on the field, the blame is squarely on you.  (And let’s share the weight here…the conversation in the car on the way home, speaking in terms of good attitudes and sportsmanship falls to us parents.  We all need to own what’s ours here.)  Their job is simply to play hard and do their best.  Your job (and ours) is to lead and model exemplary behavior, sportsmanship and citizenship.  Win or lose.

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Little League is about the kids. With that in mind, can I ask you a favor?

Would you pause and take a moment to re-evaluate yourself? I mean…our kids – they are getting coached, evaluated and critiqued daily…so this really shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Can you take a good hard look at yourself and ask why you are doing this?

What really matters to you?

Is it winning at all costs? Is it having the winning team every season, every year? Is it beating that other team because you despise that other coach so much? Are you willing to play dirty, bend the rules? Do you care more about the score than the players?  Is it living out some unrealized aspirations of your own?

If you answer yes to those questions, can I humbly ask that you consider stepping away?

Because answering yes to any of those questions signals that you have drifted away from what is meant to be the very heart and soul of Little League.

I value greatly your knowledge and understanding of baseball…but not more than I value courage, respect, honesty and integrity. If we are not in agreement on this, then I can’t, in good conscience, entrust my child to your influence. And frankly, I won’t. Because, while I have no grand illusions that my child is headed for the ‘big leagues’…even if they were, there’s no way I’d want them there without having instilled these foundational character qualities above all else.

One final thought. While a good dose of competition is fine, please try to remember this as well… These kids, the morning after the game, will walk to the bus stop together. They will show up at school, work on projects, participate in classes, play in concerts together. They ride bikes, swim at the pool, go to the movies together. TOGETHER.

They are friends and neighbors.

While they might be opponents for a few hours on this field, when they walk off, they…like we…are community.

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I think we’d all do well to remember this.

With deepest sincerity,

A Baseball Mom

P.S. – To all the fantastic coaches who are wonderful influences, and true exemplary leaders to our children, to us, and in our communities, I want to add an overwhelmingly heartfelt THANK YOU.  You are pillars in our kids lives and helping to form the future through our children in bigger ways than you will probably ever get to know.

*Source

feeling alive

Have you ever stopped to think about what it is that makes you feel most ‘alive’?

What activity, setting or people give you that overall sense of well-being or vitality? What fills you up so emotionally-full that you feel like your chest could burst (in a good way, of course, not a cardiac-arrest kind of way)?  What is it that makes you feel like you are doing the thing you were meant to do, or being your truest self?

Maybe you aren’t like me and don’t give this type of thing much thought.  I’m not saying that I think about this on a constant basis, but there are some certain things – activities, moments, settings – that I can pin-point in my life that answer these questions.  I would call them my Life Sweet-Spots.

Are you familiar with the term “sweet spot”?

sweet spot:  noun (informal)

- the point or area on a bat, club, or racket at which it makes most effective contact with the ball

- an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities

It’s that ‘thing’ that, when you connect with it, makes you soar.  

Over the years, I’ve come to know some of my personal sweet spots in life.  I think of them as the things that emotionally “fill my tank”.  They are the moments I can think back to where I feel like I am ‘thriving’, and they reaffirm to me in some way who I am.  When I’m getting weary with the daily grind, these are the things I begin to crave because they stir up and remind me of the more ‘fun’ side of myself.  They feel like the Me that I ‘want’ to be, not the me that I often ‘have’ to be.

Lest this sound too ‘lofty’, let me forewarn you that the things I’m thinking of are not deeply ‘profound’ spiritual times…they are simply “enjoying life” moments.  Which, I’m coming to a growing understanding, is actually deeply spiritual in itself.  I believe that God created us to enjoy this life.  Not to endure it; not to survive it.  That mentality is the result of living in a fallen world.  God’s original design was for us to find deep satisfaction and pleasure in the world He created, in one another, and in Him…as He interacts with us in all the things that we enjoy.  Beauty, food, relationships, rest and relaxation…all God’s ideas.

Which makes even the simplest of pleasures deeply spiritual.

That being said, I thought I’d share with you some of my “sweet spot” moments…not because they will be even remotely similar to the things that set a spark inside you (some of mine are fairly random), but because maybe it will encourage you to explore for yourself the things that make you come alive.

They may seem silly at first…I’ve often wrestled with the ridiculousness or unexplainability of the things that make me so profoundly happy.  I’ve come to the conclusion…it doesn’t matter.  Some of them make sense, some not.  Some are ‘big’ some are ‘small’, but whatever they are, all I need to know is, they help.  They energize me; they feed my soul.  Rather than fight that, or write it off as silly…I choose to embrace it.  Celebrate it.  And anticipate those times of pleasure and refreshment and joy.

Sometimes it takes work…a lot of work…to make them a reality.  There’s planning, saving, scheduling, preparing…  And then other times, it’s simply a matter of remembering to do the little things that help, on a regular basis.  When I do, I am reminded why they are so valuable, and I begin scheming in my little brain about the next time I can plan for one of those revitalizing times.

So here are some of my ‘sweet spots’…

  • Time away, alone, with my husband where we can talk for hours, learn and discuss, have fun and be silly or do absolutely nothing together.

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  • Sitting on the beach, staring at the vastness of the ocean, and listening to the waves…
  • Basking in the sunshine…doesn’t even have to be anywhere special…my patio will do just fine!

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  • Awesome Italian food, in an at-least-somewhat-authentic Italian setting, with good music (especially Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra)

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 And last, but not least…my smallest of pleasures that I can count on for a quick pick me up…  Painting my nails, dressing up nicely, cranking some music and driving fast with the windows down.  Not necessarily all together…but that certainly works too!

So…have you thought about it?  What are the things that you just love to do, the places you love to go, or the people you love to be with?  When do you feel the most alive?  What moments do you look at and think that the ‘real you’ emerges fully?

I realize, the ‘big’ things that we enjoy aren’t always feasible in every given season.  But I just so believe that it’s worth investing a little time, energy and planning for trying to at least make room for some of your smaller ‘refillers’ so that life doesn’t become something you are merely enduring.

We were not created to endure…we were created to thrive!!

So here’s to you…to the weekend…to enjoying life…and to being fully alive!

“L’Chaim!  To life!!”

 

 

 

better to remain silent…

It’s been said…

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(I won’t attempt to attribute the quote to anyone, as when I tried to find it’s source, at least three different women were supposed to have said it.  If you really care a lot to know, feel free to Google away…)

While I think there is a measure of truth to this statement, I also think that it’s really possible, and even okay, to not have to be a rabble-rouser to make an impact.

As I’ve wrestled out many ‘issues’ for myself, none of the least of which are some of today’s “hot topics”, I’ve on occasion attempted to bring it to the blog.  I’ve only ventured to dip my toes ever so slightly into the sea of controversy, and I found I just didn’t like it very much.

While I have a lot of strong opinions, I actually don’t thrive on controversy.  Oh, I might like to throw my two cents in where I think a friendly back-and-forth exchange can happen, but when it comes down to it, I really hate conflict, and try to avoid it whenever possible.  If there’s going to be tempers flaring, harsh words flying and blood pressures rising…I prefer to bow out.

I have, in the past, hurt and offended people with some of my strongly held beliefs and convictions.  I’ve spent time regretting caring more about wanting to be heard and understood than I did about just letting something go for the sake of relationship.

In the past week or two, I’ve actually written several posts.  And trashed them.  Partly because they gave ‘vent’ to my thoughts on a few mildly controversial topics, and often in a snarky, sarcastic or condescending way.  And man, did they feel good to write.  Letting the words fly felt like “So there!” and “Take that!!”, even though those weren’t the actual words I used.  But when I went back and read the finished piece, I came away not particularly fond of the author.

Let’s be honest…this is my blog, and frankly I can say what I want, right?.  Doesn’t that mean this the perfect place to spill my thoughts?  As indicated by the title, I want this to be a place where I find, and offer, my voice.  But I also want to have a sense that what I am contributing to the sea of voices is something worthwhile.  I don’t really want to just be another “sounding gong”.  I want to write with purpose and intention.  I want to express myself well, with clarity and respect.  Not just use words as a means to let off some steam.

Not that there isn’t place for that kind of thing.  Certainly I think there is.  Sometimes there is nothing better than just putting into words all the frustrations and feelings churning inside.  But I’m pretty certain those expressions are the ones you journal and keep private, or type then delete…but aren’t really worth hitting the ‘publish’ button on.

And so, I’ve been writing.  And reading.  And thinking.  And scrapping.  And thinking some more.

There are topics that I do hold near and dear, but I want to do them justice when I write about them.  I want to ‘unpack’ them well, and in a way that is free of vitriol and welcomes dialogue.  I want to engage people and not repel them.

So I guess for now, at least for a bit,  I guess I’ll continue to ruminate on some things, and keep the posts to a lighter, or at least, non-controversail nature.  Granted, I’ll never be a big-name blogger who’s getting thousands of comments both lauding and denouncing my thoughts.  But the more I watch the “say anything…no filter necessary” nature of internet interaction, the more fond I am of a small community discussion, where people are valued as real individuals, and not just names with bios on a luminated screen.

By the way, for the record, and as maybe as somewhat of a disclaimer…despite the negative aspects of discussions that can get wildly out of hand online, I also have experienced quite the opposite as well.  I think actual friendships can be built via online forums, and friendly, respectful dialogue can take place.  I think the difference lies largely in motive.  Are we after true and meaningful conversation, or simply trying to accumulate “likes” and “comments” and “followers”.

It’s an easy temptation for those of us who engage in various modes of social media to crave the approval or recognition, and be willing to sacrifice things in order to get it.  Look, I’ll admit it…I’m a blogger, so sure, I want people to read what I’m writing!  I, like any other blogger, thrive on feedback.  But I must also be willing to always stay aware that my words are going out there, to be read by real people who also have real thoughts and feelings of their own.  I can’t want to be read so badly that I carelessly grind out posts that are not edifying in some way to whoever may happen to be on the other side of the screen.

So.  My point in saying all this?  Honestly…I’m not entirely sure.  Maybe I’m trying to make myself feel better about having so many ‘wasted’ posts; maybe I’m reaching for excuses for my lack of posting.

Yeah, probably mostly that.

But also, I was inspired and encouraged this morning by Addie Zierman’s post about why she doesn’t write about hot button issues, and it made me feel good to remember that sometimes going slow and being thoughtful is better than rushing in with words I may wish to pull back later.  Maybe someone else needed to be reminded of the same.  So even though she said it so very well, I thought it was worthwhile for me to say again.

My grandfather used to regularly quote something Abraham Lincoln was supposed to have said, and it has forever stuck with me.  Not that it always came to mind as quickly as it should have in every situation, but I think it’s a good thought to end on, and one I will continue to try to apply.

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new growth

I’ve noticed something rather ugly things coming out of me lately.  It seems to be getting worse.  It’s gotten glaring enough that even I can’t deny that there’s *something* going on…but unfortunately, I’ve not known exactly what, or what to do about it.

No, they aren’t physical…like warts or anything.

They are emotional, and they are spiritual.  They are my responses to people and situations in my life.  And they come from someplace deep inside.

It’s like sometimes I can step back, away from myself, and watch.  I watch my own words, interactions, and responses.  And I think…

“Whoa.  Step away from that girl!  She is full on scary-crazy.”

(And, I confess, I edited down what I really thought…because I know that a certain variety of words might offend some of my more delicate readers…but let’s just say what I really though about my brand of ‘crazy’ involved bat-poo.)

I witness my own actions and wonder what on earth is going on with me.  I know the emotions I feel…but I don’t actually *know* them.  I should say, I feel them…I experience them…but I still have wondered what they are.

Over the years, my ‘crazy’ has surfaced in a variety of settings.  My marriage, my church leadership, my parenting.  Even my friendships.  I get very prickly, and mouthy.  I can feel my heart race, my blood rushing, and I feel panicky.  I slam gears into defensive mode.

The intensity of these types of reactions has ebbed and flowed.  It used to be a lot worse; I dealt with some issues that seemed to be underlying, and in many ways it got better.

But seasons are always changing, my friends.  And with new seasons come new situations.  Things we never experienced before.  New emotions surface.  Sometimes the reactions happen before I am even able to identify what on earth is going on.

It seems I’m currently in a season with lots of ‘triggers’…  Depending on who you ask, living with me, I’m guessing, might feel a bit like a leisurely stroll through a field of landmines.  It seems I can go from ‘pleasant’ to ‘bring-it, sucka’ in about 2.5 seconds.

My, *ahem*, ‘overreactions’ have been pointed out to me on enough occasions that even I could no longer deny it’s probably time to look a little deeper at what’s going on.

Some friends/mentors of mine suggested some prayer exercises they’ve done, and while I will admit, it is VERY difficult for me to actually get very quiet, still and focus…I am finding them to be helpful.  So I decided to share them, in a brief, general overview, with you.

Now, please…if you are from a more conservative tradition, please take a moment to breath, not freak out thinking I’m talking about anything new age here, or going off into any heresies.  What I’m talking about is actually quite biblical.  So just stick with me.

The idea is to calm yourself completely, and allow yourself to become aware of what is going on…what is REALLY going on inside you.  Since there are certain situations I know I’m specifically struggling with, I chose to focus on those.  I tried to get past all the ‘facts’ of the situation, and allow myself to look at what my actual feelings are.  What am I actually experiencing that is causing my reactions?  I asked God to reveal my own heart to me, my own motives, and shine the light of His Truth into places that I might be unaware of.

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When I did this, I was rather surprised at what I found.  Where I could see myself reacting, thinking it was because of ‘this’ or ‘that’…because so-and-so did such-and-such…it turned out that, when it really came down to the bottom line, I could see my reactions were out of two things.  Fear and confusion.

Because of the nature of the situations, I can’t share the specifics, but let me just say, I wouldn’t have readily thought myself afraid or confused.  Annoyed, yes.  Hurt, yes.  Angry…definitely.  But as I asked God to reveal the Truth to me, I was able to get beyond those surface reactions and see more deeply into the ‘why’ of what was taking place in my heart.  

Next, the general idea is to invite and welcome the Holy Spirit into those places…the places where I now understood were driven by fear and confusion.  The situations where I find myself in an automatic reaction before I have time to give a thought to what’s happening.  It’s choosing to acknowledge the real and vital work of the Holy Spirit in my life, and opening myself up and welcoming Him to the places that I’ve walled off, kept as untouchable, or hidden…even from myself.  To see what is really going on and understand it to be a thing that might even be beyond my own changing…but in need of God’s transforming touch.

Let me say, as I felt the reality of my own fear and confusion in these situations, this next step was no small thing.  Self-protection is instinct, and I don’t know about you, but it’s a strong one in me.

This particularly hard part is one of surrender.  It’s choosing to say, from a place of honesty within my spirit…

“I let go of my desire for power and control.

I let go of my desire for approval, esteem, and affection.

I let go of my desire for security and survival.

I let go of my desire to change the situation.”

It’s another step in giving Jesus true lordship in my life.  It’s good and healthy.

And phenomenally hard.

To be completely honest…I still haven’t gotten through this step yet.  I get hung up here.  I’m scared to say, in all sincerity, that I am ready or willing to let go of some of those.  I want to say it…but I know, I’m just not meaning it yet.

But you know what…thankfully, Jesus is willing to walk with me.  I can tell He’s very gently prying my squeezed little fist open from clinging to these things.  When I get all the way up to this step in my prayers…I cry a little, and say,

“I just don’t think I can mean it yet, Jesus.”

And He says…

“It’s okay…I’ll wait here with you.”

You see, He’s not in a rush.  He’s in this journey with me for the long-haul.  He doesn’t want my lip-service to the things I know I should say or do or think.  He wants my sincere heart.  All of it.  And He’s gentle enough, and patient enough, and long-suffering enough to hang with me for the whole process of giving it to him.  You know how I know this?  Because His Word tells me what love is…

Love is patient and kind….rejoices whenever truth wins out… Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  - from 1 Cor. 13

And it also tells me that He Himself IS love, so it stands to reason that He is the embodiment of these things, and displays them toward me.  I don’t need to be afraid of Him, or afraid He will abandon me in my struggles…because He said He won’t.

I’m a work in process.  It’s an ongoing, albeit sometimes slow, process…but He’s working on me.  And in me.  And He’s helping me see and walk through the things I just can’t on my own.

Because He’s good like that.

In the meantime, when my landmines get stepped on, I can at least see now what is at play.  I can take a breath, and whisper to Jesus that I need His help.  And each time that I do that, I can tell I’m at least a little closer to fully surrendering this part of me to Him.

And growth, even when it’s in the fragile, budding stages, just like the springtime flowers and trees just starting to sprout…feels refreshing to my very soul.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch the rebirth of life out my window, and know that the same is happening in my heart.

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