Tuesday, March 3, 2015

absence makes the heart grow : marriage letters

Dear Marriage:

As a little girl, I dreamed of you.  I set you up in my mind to be full of happiness and joy - a craftsman style bungalow with a fenced yard, three kids, a puppy, two cars in the driveway, and two people (one of them was me) who loved each other like Noah and Allie in The Notebook.  I viewed you as a vending machine, as if I could push the right buttons and get exactly what I ordered.  I placed high expectations upon you and thought that you would be the key to my happiness. 

As a naïve young woman, I met you and I was so in love with you.  Finally, my name was Wife.  For ten years I danced on eggshells with you, terrified that if I wasn't Wife, then I was nothing.  I placed you on a pedestal and then I blamed you for not meeting my high expectations and fulfilling my happiness quota.  You were my idol and I was blinded by your name and my television based fantasy of what you SHOULD be for me.  I didn't nourish you properly or pray for you until it was too late.

After you left, I swore that I would never dream of you again.  I was so full of anger and bitterness towards you.  You were a dysfunctional vending machine that only dispensed boxes of darkness.  I could not see what you really were - a sacred bond that required choice, commitment, and work from two people.  I would see you thriving for other couples and, because of my comparisons, I despised you more.  I stopped believing that you could ever be on the same page with me.

Over the past four years, I have forgiven you.  I have started to pray for you again.  I asked you to forgive me.  I started learning about you -- the real you that God intended you to be.  I am starting to believe in you again, but not in my little girl dreams of you.   I have opened up my heart towards you, I have earned a deep respect for you, I have grown because of your absence, and I thank you for every lesson you have taught me.

Even if I never personally meet you again, I believe in you and everything you stand for.  I cheer for you in the lives of my friends and family.  I pray for you in the life of my daughter.  I believe that you are worth the struggles, the late nights, the tears, the joys, and the way you break a heart open for good things.

Prayerfully that my heart continues to grow,


linking with Marriage Letters at http://theRunAmuck.com

Monday, March 2, 2015

on genuineness, the mean girl, and being brave - an open letter to my daughter

"What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful." -- Brene Brown

Dear Doodlebug:
You are so beautiful to me, sweet girl.  It was snowing the other day at the house and you were standing outside playing with the dogs, snowflakes falling down around your face.  You put a blanket down on the snow and begged Miles to lay down beside you while you tried to catch snow on your tongue.  Red cheeks and long blonde hair falling around your face, calling out to me to come outside with you.  How did I get so lucky to be your mom? 
You are almost twelve and lately you and I have been having some really deep conversations.  You ask me very thoughtful questions and I am enjoying the quality time we spend together while we talk about things that really matter.  I can see the wheels turning in your head as you try your best to figure out what is good and right in the world.
One thing that comes up frequently is "the mean girl."  Oh, sweetheart.  What can I tell you about the mean girl?  Unfortunately, she is every where you go and also, she is there even when you are 37, like me.  I remember being your age, wanting so badly to fit in.  One day having a best friend and the next day being the loner on the play ground.  It is hard.  One thing I have learned over the years about the mean girl is that she is insecure and hurting and she doesn't know how to express those feelings so she expresses them in unhealthy ways and a lot of times, it's hurtful to others.  I know that is hard to understand, but the more you can try to have compassion for "the mean girl," the less your tender heart will be hurt. 
Another thing we have to deal with in life when it comes to relationships with other people is balancing being genuine and brave with who we are while also protecting our hearts.  There are people you will meet who will be safe enough to be in your inner circle, friends who will actually wade into the trenches of life with you, loving you every step of the way, and there are people who you will meet that you should be kind to from a distance.  For example, I recently had a conversation with someone who claimed she wanted to get to know me better.  In an effort to allow her to get to know me better, I asked her what she would like to know about me.  However, instead of asking me anything about me, like she had originally requested, she just talked AT me and then abruptly ended the conversation.  Because of this, I knew that she would be someone that I would have to keep at arm's length in the future.  I was genuine with my intentions by giving her an opportunity to get closer to me, but I was also protective of my heart, by not handing her free access to my life.  When getting to know others, as you are growing and forming friendships, be cautious with who you allow into your inner circle.  Not everyone will be willing to stay in the deep with you, and that is ok. 
Also remember, as you are learning about friendships, that most of your life lasting friendships will be made when you are an adult.  Think about my close circle of friends.  Aside from one close friend from my youth, M, who I still stay in close contact with, every single one of my friends has been made when I was an adult.  I know that right now it may seem like the end of the world when so and so doesn't want to be your friend today, but believe me when I say that not all friendships will be like this.  I promise.
Lastly, I want to talk to you about being brave and genuine.  More than anything, I want you to grow into an adult who is not ever afraid to tell her story.  You never know who may need to hear it or be helped by it.  There is a way to tell your story and to protect your heart.  This is never a weakness, sweetheart, although some people will try to make you feel that it is.  Telling your story is brave.  Sharing your authentic self is brave.  Standing firm and telling someone that you have no reason to be ashamed of your life, even if you have made mistakes, is brave.  This year for your birthday, the one thing I pray over you is the courage to be brave with your life.
I love you so very much.
Thankful to be part of your inner circle,

Thursday, February 12, 2015

on that time I allowed a complete stranger to hurt my heart

"It's one thing to impress people, but it's another thing to love them."  -- Donald Miller


Thump, thump, thump.


My heart pounded as I read the words.  Someone that I have never met and do not know had written an untruth about me in a public post on Facebook, wherein they were telling a mutual friend exactly what they thought about something.  I wasn't a part of the situation, but I got dragged into the middle of it anyway.  Thankfully, the person it was being said to (or written to) had the libel removed within an hour.  I doubt many people saw it.

My immediate reaction was laughter because what she said about me was so outrageous, a complete  lie, and not within my character at all.  But, within a few minutes, my laughter turned to defense mode.  Who WAS this person and why did she say these things about me?  I blocked her account from my personal Facebook account and went on about my day and my life, but her words nagged at me.

What this woman said about me hurt me.  A complete stranger had managed to hurt my heart and what was worse: I was allowing a complete stranger to hurt my heart.

A symptom of hurt is anger.  When we feel hurt, a natural reaction is to hit back and hurt the one who has hurt us.  One thing I know to be true is this:  hurt people hurt people.  When my anger over the situation kicked in, I wanted to confront this woman.  I wanted to send her a passive aggressive, sarcastic message that said something like:

"Hi, you don't know me, but since you've felt comfortable enough to publicly make assumptions about my life and accuse me of things I haven't done, I thought I should at least introduce myself.  My name is Julie.  I squeeze my toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.  I love bacon.  Clowns have never really scared me.  When I say 'comfortable,' I pronounce every syllable.  Is there anything else you would like to know?" 

I mean, seriously, the hospitable part of me was in a pickle, ya'll.  What is the protocol for a proper introduction in these situations?  Did I have to consult Emily Post's Etiquette, or was winging it ok?

Sarcasm aside: words matter and they are powerful.  When we feel brave enough to say things about other people, do we stop first to consider that the person we are speaking of is a REAL person, just like us, who has feelings and a life and friends and family who love them?  Do we stop to think that maybe this person sees a side to the situation that we cannot see?

I recently heard someone say, "There are three sides to every situation.  The side I cannot see, the side you cannot see, and the side we both cannot see."

As my hurt turned to anger and as my anger began to steal my peace and joy, I shared the situation with a trusted friend who often speaks truth to me.  I said:  I do not want to be bitter over a stranger's false accusation.  What is wrong with me?  Why does this bother me so much?

She said, well, it bothers you so much because (1) it was a lie, about you, that was posted in a public forum and because (2) you have a natural tendency to want people to like you.  Hi, my name is Julie and I have a disease known as the need to please others.  It is really unhealthy, but I'm working on it.

After a healthy talk with my friend and the realization that this woman's rant really wasn't about ME or anything I had done, I stopped to consider this person.  She is a valuable human being, after all, made by the same God who made each and everyone one of us in His image.  Through this lens, I wondered about her.  What was she like?  Did she like to cook?  When she laughed was it a giggle, or was it a throw your head back and belly laugh until you cry kind of laugh?  What was her life scripting that she would think an acceptable reaction to being hurt would be to lash out at my friend so publicly (which just happened to land on me a little bit because I was close to the friend she was giving the lashing) instead of privately sharing her thoughts?  I knew that there was a side to the situation that she could not see (mine), but what I really asked myself was: what side of the situation could I not see?

I didn't have an answer to that and most likely never will, because like I said, I don't even know this person and I never sent her a message about my toothpaste tube pushing habits in an effort to introduce myself, but what I realized is that my being offended by what she wrote was equivalent to being offended if she had written that Doritos were purple and tasted like crushed ginger.  They were just words written on Facebook.  That didn't make them the truth.

I could choose to accept that she wanted her words to be her truth.  I could choose to not allow her words to become my truth.  I could choose to let it go.  I could choose to be ok that she may be someone who just doesn't like me.  I could choose to forgive her.  I could choose to embrace my peace and joy and not allow bitterness to steal it away.  I could choose to see her as someone like me, like you...flawed, emotional, in need of grace, 60% water and still thirsty.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

:throwback thursday:

Hi, friends!  Long time, no blogging.  Honestly, sometimes I forget about this little space, but when I remember it I then feel horrible for forgetting it!

Today I am throwing it back to 2010 with the C family.  I adore this family and have known them for 14 years.  Watching their kids grow up has been amazing.  They are one of the kindest, most giving families I know.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

On Seeking the Sunshiney and What "All Things Sunshiney" Means to Me

I love using this blog to share my love of art, crafty diy ideas, decorating, music, photography, and funny stories from my life.  Occasionally, I will share my faith through this blog because I feel that this is a good platform for me to share that story.  I began this blog several years ago because I wanted to take the focus off of "me" and I wanted to share more of Him.

my deepest desire is for God to use me for His glory

My deepest desire is for God to use me for His glory.  To take my hands and use them for His purposes, to take my heart and use it for His purposes, and to take my words and use them to bring glory to Him.

I named this blog All Things Sunshiney because of my story...my testimony.  It is a story that is still unfolding, of course, and will continue to unfold and transform throughout my life.  I chose the phrase specifically from Psalm 139 - a passage that speaks to me over and over again in so many ways.  This passage is my life verse.  The entire psalm reads:

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

This is such a powerful passage to me and I drew "all things sunshiney" from verses 11 - 12:

"If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you.  The night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."

When I was nine, I stayed with my Grannie and Poppie for the summer.  We had just gotten home from church camp in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.  I remember one night before I went to bed, I said to my Grannie, "I want Jesus to save me, what do I have to do?"  She asked me if I understood what it meant to be saved and I said "yes," in all of my nine year old wisdom.  So we prayed together and I asked Jesus to come live in my heart.

I remember that night vividly.  I remember the way my Grannie smelled, the color of her night gown as she knelt down beside me, the feel of her hand on top of my little hands, and the way her voice sounded when she gave me the words to pray.  I remember the feeling I had after I had asked Jesus to come live inside my heart.  It is such a sweet memory for me, and that is my salvation experience.

But, that's not really my story.

My story is found in the process of God leading me (and you...all of us) out of the darkness and into the light...into the "sunshiney."  My story is my testimony - just as your story is your testimony.  I believe that we all have a million reasons in our lives to feel happy and thankful (the sunshiney), but I also believe that we can easily get stuck in a place of melancholy and sadness (the darkness).

For me, that dark place feels like the extra room we all have in our house where everything gets thrown when company is about to come over.  You know the one I'm talking about.  The room with the door that is always closed because when you walk into it, it is so chaotic and unorganized that it overwhelms you.  It is a room that is easier to avoid than deal with.  Sometimes we walk by and throw a few more things on top of all the junk that is already in there, and close the door again.  Sometimes we walk into the room with good intentions of cleaning it out, but the process becomes too arduous, so we stop.

I believe that, thankfully, we do not have to rely on ourselves to get those rooms "un-junked."  I'm not saying that we should all air our stories in great detail to the world, not at all - hopefully we all have someone that we can share our details with in confidence.  I am saying that I believe when we are brave enough to open ourselves up to the light and share our stories with one another - even dark stories - community is built.  When community is built, there is no need to close the door to our junk-ey, unperfect rooms and pretend that our homes are perfect.  It's ok to say, Hey...I have a junk room too!

I believe that God uses our stories to bring glory to Him and to bring us together.  He is all things sunshiney and for that I am so very thankful.

Thank you for taking the time to be here.  I believe that we all have a story to contribute, that we are all equally valuable, and that we all have a purpose in this life.  We all have our own way of seeking the sunshiney in life, and this little blog is my way of doing just that.  I am blessed to share that journey with you.  My hope is that this blog puts a smile on your face and inspires you to go out and spread some of your own unique sunshine into the world.

God bless you,