Oh Hell No!

ohhellnocrossstitch

My best friend Kelly, made this for me.  It is sitting right by my kitchen sink so I will see it all the time.  I love it so much because the contrast between the pretty cross stitch and the saying is hilarious to me.  I am sorry if you think that Hell is cuss word but if you have been around me for any length of time you know that I have an affinity to pepper my speech with questionable words.  The fact of the matter is that my best friend made this for me because she knows that I am about to enter the ring for the fight of my life, again, and this is my catch phrase.

Friends, summer is all but over and the school year is about to begin.  The driving, the scheduling, the making of lunches, the signing of papers, the pep talks, the exhortations to look for the Lord even in the halls of high school.  The late night: “Hey mom, I need a (fill in the blank) for school tomorrow or the world will end, and Hey mom where is my (fill in the blank) I can’t leave without it!” The: “I need to go here and do this thing or my life as I know it will end!”  All of this is all about to commence.  Those are just the requests from my off spring, don’t even get me started on the things from the school, and PTA, and boosters.  This is the fight of my life y’all.

There is this voice inside of me that only knows one word….MORE.  It is the voice that says:

DO more

BE more

GET more

HAVE more

BE SEEN more

BE more POPULAR

GET YOUR KIDS IN more THINGS

MAKE YOUR KIDS more

STRIVE more

 

Or my other favorite voice….You are not enough!  It is the voice that says:

If you don’t do this you are not enough.

If you don’t have that you are not enough.

If you aren’t part of that you are not enough.

If you don’t say yes to that you are not enough.

 

The “more” voice and the “you are not enough” voice bully me all the time.  They try to talk me into being busy and hurried.  They try to talk me into feeling like I am not enough and that I am not doing enough.  They key into Facebook and whisper to me, “Look at them, they are doing all the things so much better and MORE perfect than you are.” They convince me that I am not doing all that I can for my family and for my friends.  They say, “You are worthless unless you are in all the things, at all the things, and doing all the things.”  They say if my life looks different from someone else’s that I am in the wrong, and I need to change.  They say that if I am not moving, I am lazy.  They say if I am not perfect, I am not loved and adored.  And guess what, those voices are LIARS and to them I say:

OH HELL NO!!!!

I have spent too much of my life imprisoned to these voices.  My flesh and satan would love to see me trapped there, but I AM FREE!!  It is the fight of my life to STAY FREE!!  So I must have this phrase at the ready.  I have to be brave and use my phrase when those voices start to bully me.  I have to stay in step with Jesus because that is where freedom resides.

So I see someone’s post on Facebook exclaiming that their kid is killing it at life because they made this team, or that club or whatever.  The more voice goes off, “Crap!  You better haul Sydney out of bed and get her signed up for (fill in the blank) because if you don’t she will end up being just a regular doctor and not a super powered doctor lawyer evangelizing missionary to orphaned children living in an unreached people group in a region of the world she discovered because Sydney should also be an explorer searching for unreached people.   Or the not enough voice goes off, “You the worst mother ever, Brock has done nothing but watch YouTube video’s about ants and Fortnight all summer, you have not challenged him in any STEM activities, or memorized bible verses, or taught him Spanish.”  And God help me if I see a post on Facebook about a weightloss story or some new way to fight wrinkles, that could put me in the bed for days!  I use to end up trapped in feeling like I needed to do more or that I am not enough.  That thought process lived out ended in me screaming at the kids to do more or be more and them feeling like they weren’t enough, and the cycle would start all over again in my kids.  In those feelings of not enough, depression sets in, and then hopelessness and then I would be lost.  NOT ANYMORE!

Now I say, OH HELL NO when those voices pop up.  I am free to congratulate other people on their successful lives without putting my life down.  I am able to see what makes my kids come alive and focus on that.  I am able to proclaim that we are enough just as we are not because of what we do but because we are loved by God.  And with God as my coach I am able to break the cycle of needing to do more and not feeling like I am enough.  With God’s Word I can focus on what is important to HIM and not what is important to the world.  What is important to God will always bring freedom, not feelings of needing to do more.  It is the fight of my life to stay free from those voices that want to tell me to do MORE or that I am NOT ENOUGH, but freedom is worth the fight!!  So I say, OH HELL NO!

 

Fame! I wann live forever!

Do you remember the song “Fame?”  The lyrics go like this…..

I feel it comin’ together
People will see me and cry, fame
I’m gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame, fame
I’m gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Irene Cara spoke to baby Sarah’s heart in the 80’s.  Fame and the also popular theme song to Flashdance, “What a feeling!” were theme songs to my life.  Title tracks, that lead me to create plays, performances and sing for anyone that would sit still long enough to watch me.  Being in front of a crowd was the best thing in the world to baby Sarah.  I wanted to light up the sky like a flame!
To change gears a bit, did you ever have God teach you something that you did not want to admit to people because it made you look really foolish and bad? No, just me?  It does not help that one of my spiritual gifts is messing up so bad that it cannot be ignored or swept under the rug.  What can I say, I am larger than life, I wanna light up the sky like a flame!  Also it is embarrassing to admit but I seem to be the last to know about my screw ups.  Like, every one saw it coming but me.  It’s just a shot in the dark here but maybe that is because I am too busy worrying about people remembering my name?  So join me on this tale of woe, as I explain to you what God taught me about fame.
God is smart.  He knew that He had to get me interested in church enough to keep me coming back so eventually I would hear the gospel and be saved.  I am super glad He woo’s each of us in the exact perfect way to get our attention.  Mine was seeing the worship team at church for the first time.  I never knew God was ok with bands, this was a revelation!  My friend Autumn invited me to church and was on the worship team.  I remember distinctly baby Sarah standing up and shouting inside me, “Fame!  I wanna live forever!”  when I saw the microphones, instruments and band members.  A thought was born in my mind, “I wonder if they would let me sing?”  I wasn’t even a believer yet!  But that thought took hold.  I did keep going to church and did eventually get saved a month later.  It saved my life, literally.
I did join the worship team.  Baby Christian Sarah was on fire for the Lord.  I wanted to be in everything to do with God.  I wanted more and more of Him.  Baby Christian Sarah and Baby Fame Sarah joined hands and skipped all the way to the first worship set I got to lead.  It was the best thing in the world.  I found something that really gave me life in a time when things were falling apart. (See blog post on marriage)  However, something started to happen inside of me.  Baby Christian Sarah loved singing praises to the Lord no matter what.  Baby Fame Sarah wanted more of the spotlight for herself, and the war between the new Sarah and the old Sarah was started.
If I have duped you into believing I am a perfect christian please read no further because you opinion of me will be dashed.  The point of this blog is to be a real Christian trying to follow Christ and to record what He is doing in my life. This lesson changed the trajectory of my life, so this was a big thing for me.
Here’s what started to happen.  I would lead worship, and when the set was over I expected people to say did a great job.  If they didn’t I was wounded.  The schedule would come out and I would be angry that I was only leading once a month.  How could people remember my name if they only saw me once a month?  I would be jealous of other female singers if I thought they were better than me.  I would be angry with the worship pastor for not letting me lead a song.  I would ask my husband if he could hear me to be sure that my microphone was turned up enough.  I would move heaven and earth and put my family aside to say yes to a worship gig.  Basically, I had to be up there, I had to be heard, I had to have the spotlight.
Here is where the conflict happens.  Do you see that list above.  It can be broken down to  these simple fruits of the flesh:

Galatians 5: 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

I have underlined for you the ones that I was fostering while I was trying to lead worship.  Time after time I would stand up to lead God’s people in praises to Him and all the while I would be sowing fruit of the flesh.  For sure God still used my worship because He is so big that He can use this wretch to reach other people no matter where my heart is.  The struggle became bigger and bigger the more I learned what the fruit of the Spirit are. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) I was convicted by the Spirit that I was sowing to my own flesh.  I could see that I was causing dissention on the team.  I could see that I was hurting our worship pastor (who happens also to be my best friends husband, there by hurting that relationship too.)  I didn’t know what to do or how to stop, and I had been leading worship for so long I felt like I could not tell people that I was struggling in these ways.

I even went to a convention with Beth Moore and Christy Nockles and submitted a question because no body knew me there.  I asked Christy, “If you struggle with not being put on the schedule, not leading songs, and submitting to the worship leader should you still lead worship or should you step down?”  There were 900 questions submitted and out of all of them she pick MINE!  FAME!  I’m gonna live forever!  Just kidding!  But seriously she did pick mine so don’t ever tell me God is not pursing me and trying to teach me.  Her answer was amazing.  She said, “We have all struggled with being the background singer.  I have been in places where I did not lead songs and was just the background vocals.  The problem comes with the motive. If you are leading worship to lead God’s people into God’s presence, you are fine.  If you are leading them to lead them into your presence then you will continue to struggle.  If you can’t get your flesh under control it would be healthier to step back for a bit.”  My heart sank when I heard those words.  I think somewhere inside I knew that was what was coming but I was stuck in the “I lead worship, that is who I am,” mentality.  What would happen to me if i didn’t lead worship.  Who would see baby Sarah performing????? Oh right!  You would God.

I wish my tale ended with me coming home from that conference and stepping down to allow time for spiritual growth.  But no, alas my gifting includes screwing up so big that everyone knows about it.  We are coming up on a year since my, uh, “breakdown?”  (See “I can’t get around writing about this blog post.”)  I tried to lead worship a few more months after the conference.  I buckled down and demanded my mind and heart to produce fruit of the Spirit.  The problem with that is I can’t produce that fruit.  I can only produce the other fruit of the flesh.  I needed time to work with God and to be transformed, but I was scared to death to let go of worship because it felt like who I was.  But in a small moment of bravery, I was able to muster the trust in my Good Good Father required to take the leap necessary to step down.  If I am being totally honest the conversation with my worship leader was more of a “you can’t fire me I quit” kind of moment but who is keeping score?  Certainly not me, that is not a fruit of the Spirit.

And so there I was, not a worship leader anymore.  The good news is I had so much emotional stuff to deal with at that time I didn’t notice not having it on my schedule.  Until I showed up and church and was not on stage.  It was humbling.  It was hard.  It was humiliating.  I dreaded the, “how come you are not leading worship?” conversations.  Mercifully, God arranged for me to have to have an ovary out at the same time so that was an easy answer.  He is kind that way. (HaHa) And so the journey began of me not leading worship.

I feel like after a tale like that I should switch fonts so you know how much God has changed my heart.  I don’t feel up to the task to adequately explain the sifting that has occurred.  Let me say it this way:  stepping down from worship is the best thing I ever did.  Here’s why…..

I learned that what baby Sarah needed to know is that she is seen by the Almighty God and that being seen by Him fills up that need to be famous.  That my “non-lighting up the sky life” is the exact plan he has for me right now.  And that is right where I need to be.

I learned that when you are involved in something and you cause dissension, you stifle the growth of that ministry.   It has been humbling but also the greatest gift to see the worship team at my church grow into a healthy vibrant team full of all different talents and voices and styles.  I literally gush over them I love them so much.  I went from a worship leader to the biggest groupie, only because of God leading me.  For sure I still struggle with not being “on the team.”  It feels like I got left behind sometimes, but that is just to old self wondering if I am being left out.  I am trying not to believe that lie.  It’s a process.

I also learned that if you are involved in something and it causes dissension in your home, you have to let that go because God is more interested in your home being unified than any ministry opportunity you might have.

I learned that relationships are more important than any worship gig or ministry.  I am thankful for God’s reconciliation of the relationships I almost lost because of my pursuit of FAME.  These are the people I do life with, I laugh with and I cry with. They are more important to me than everyone remembering my name.

I learned that I could write a blog, as it were.  When I cleared out the mental space to sit with the Lord and let Him guide me instead of pursing FAME, I was directed to start writing stuff down.  First, for myself, then for my family and friends and then for this blog.  Who knew I could write something worth reading?  Certainly not me, but I can say it is the most fun and creative part of my day right now.   I had to take that leap of faith first, I had to trust Him.  Do I struggle with the thought that “maybe I will become famous because of this blog!”  No, of course not ever, that thought never enters my mind…and everyone laughed and laughed.  Of course it does!  I have to constantly fight against the lie that I have to be famous, and remind myself that I have one job and that is to make JESUS FAMOUS.

I learned that God is going to keep putting up in front of people and ask me to serve Him and not them.  Meaning just stepping down from worship does not fix the sin nature inside of me.  He keeps bringing me opportunities where baby Sarah could easily dust off her dress up clothes, make a stage and demand a captive audience.  I still harbor plans to run off and try out for the VOICE.  That need to be seen by people rears its ugly head, but each time I confess it, He reminds me that He sees me and that is what matters.  He has a job for me to do, it is making HIM FAMOUS, not me.

These lessons seem so obvious when I write them down.  Like, duh, of course you wanted to be famous and saw the worship team as your ticket to fame and stardom.  When you are in it though, and when you are afraid to let go because you are scared of what is next, well, there is where you meet with Jesus.  He says to your heart,  “Let go, I am enough, I will get you through it.”  On this side of the sifting I am sad that it took me so long to trust Him, only because I am so free now.  I spent so much time in bondage to fear.  So fellow sojourner, whoever you are, read this and be convinced to take that leap of faith so that the fruit you produce is of the Spirit and brings you freedom!

Sydney, You are the coolest 14 year old I know.

Dear Sydney,

How are you 14 years old today?  It really is shocking at how fast time goes by us.  I can still remember the way it felt when you fell asleep on my shoulder when you were a baby.  I can remember vividly the fist time you ate a chicken taco, and the joy that washed over your face when you realized there was something beyond baby food.  I remember how you walked into pre-school like you owned the place, threw a passing glance over your shoulder at me and started to play.  I also remember the deepest, fiercest love bubble out of my heart when I saw your face for the first time.

For sure you have had to ride a roller coaster in your short time hear on earth.  I often wish I could have shielded you from the pain you felt when me and daddy split up, or from all the times you had to witness me having a crazy panic attack.  But then I see how real the Lord is to you and I am reminded that for all the pain you felt you also got to feel the restoration.  You got to see God restore me and daddy’s relationship right before your eyes.  You have also gotten to witness a very imperfect mom try to do life in a way that honors God, and not in a way that causes everyone to run and hide from her.  And those miracles that happened right within our walls Sydney? Those are special from God just for you.  And that is why He is so real to you.  If you had to feel some pain to get there, I am ok with that.  (And by ok, I mean not ok, wishing I could wash you memory of all the boneheaded things I have done, and changing your memories to include a mother that was perfect, but remember I’m still a work in process.)

I absolutely love that you have been saying all week, “I can’t wait to read my birthday blog post.”  Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?  I love that our family culture now includes this blog.  So, your birthday post is going to be about how cool you are.  You know when I tell you that you are the coolest person I know and you say, “No, I’m not, I am not cool at all…”  Well I am about to prove you wrong today.  The following is a list I have compiled over the last month of things that make you the coolest person I know.  And listen, I have been the coolest person I know for quite sometime so the fact that you unseated me is quit a feat, and makes you super cool.  Ready?

  1.  You are cool because you fight for Daddy and I to go on a date night.  I love that when you sense me and daddy getting annoyed with each other you stop everything and tell us to go out together.  You are gift to us, because I don’t know any kids that fight for their parents marriage like you do.  You are fierce.
  2. You are cool because you listen to 70’s rock.  I loved the look on your guitar teachers face when you told him that is what you wanted to learn to play.  You are the real deal in a world of fake music, and cheap hooks.
  3. You are cool because you learned the Hamilton sound track in 30 days.  A person that loves 70’s rock and the Hamilton sound track is so cool!
  4. You are cool because when you love something you are all in.  There is no “on the fence” with you.  That is legit because God will use that to His advantage.
  5. You are cool because your Birkenstock, t-shirt, short’s game is on point, on fleek, 2 legit to quit.  In a world of exposed butts, you choose to keep yours under wraps.  Thats good because no dude worth having wants his girl walking around with her butt hanging out of her shorts.
  6. You are cool because you know where your worth comes from.  You know it is not your cup size or pants size, it is because you were created by the God Himself, special for this day and age.
  7. You are cool because you will do what it takes to share your faith with your friends.
  8. You are cool because you love animals.
  9. You are cool because you already know you are going to parlay your love of animals in to a job.
  10. You are cool because you already know how you are going to use your job as a vet to help people.
  11. You are cool because in a world of Texas Tech Grads, you boldly declare that you are going to vet school at A&M.  (I will never wear maroon, no matter how cool you are.)
  12. You are a cool friend.  I will never forget the day you got in the car after tennis tryouts and said, “It went fine, but I didn’t get a chance to show off my skills because I wanted to help my friend who has never played tennis do well.”  I was all, “WTHECK? This is your chance to make the team, why would you do that?”  Then God pointed out to me that you were acting more Godly in that moment than I was.  Thanks for that lesson in how to be a cool friend.
  13. You are cool because you love Chick fil a.  You are totally devoted and loyal.  I hope you work there so you can support your habit of eating there all three meals a day.
  14. You are the coolest student I know.  The way you don’t love the school aspect of school but you buckle down and get your stuff done resulting in straight A’s is the coolest.  You have a fierce endurance that the Lord will use because guess what?  Life is about doing things you don’t really want to do.

14 year old girl, we are so lucky to call you ours.  You are my favorite part of the day.  I love to watch you and see you grow.  I happen to think you are absolutely perfect just the way you are.  As you enter your high school years the world will encourage you to conform and live for the low lying fruit.  Don’t go there girl.  You have so much more to offer.  And as our friend Christy Nockles says:

Hey there beautiful one, you there shining with glory

Would you let your heart hear, if I sang about you

Did you know that every fairy tale you love

They have borrowed your story

Of a maiden so lovely, and a hero so true

 

It’s just that this world is hollow

And it wants to swallow

Any memory of who you really are

Always remember to never forget

When you look in the mirror, the answer is yes

Yes you are pure as gold, yes you are beautiful

So always remember to never forget

Today we gave you your birthday present and I will never get tired of watching this video…….

 

And also this one of you telling your BFF that she is going with us to Hamilton….

 

 

Sydney you are the coolest person I know.  I just love you to pieces.  I love that you are excited to go to see Hamilton but even more excited that Lexi gets to go with us.  You have such a sweet and kind heart.  I hope when life kicks you around you come back to this list and remember how cool you are.  I am your biggest fan!

Love, mom. (and dad helped too.)

Fruit of the flesh or Fruit of the Spirit?

Right now in my life I am preparing to teach the last day of the Galatians bible study we did this summer at my church.  I had no idea at the beginning of this study how much I would end up loving the book of Galatians.  With all things that have to do with God, He put in front of me the exact truth I need at the exact time in my life that I could learn from it.  I love that about Him.  He is such a BOSS!

The book of Galatians is the most concise explanation of how the Old Testament relates to us, the Church.  I love how in the book of Galatians Paul tells us we are children of Abraham, who believed God and was counted righteous.  So by showing us that OUR righteousness comes ALSO by faith, because we are children of Abraham.  Paul shows that God did not call us children of Moses on purpose to prove that salvation comes by faith and not works.  It just flipping blows my mind how God systematically shows us that.  Do you know why He has to show us that?  Because we want to work for our salvation instead of accepting the free gift of salvation from Jesus.  Why do we want to work for it?  Because then we don’t have to admit that we are hopeless sinners in need of that free gift–but that is a blog post for another time.

Anyway, Galatians proves that salvation is a free gift from God and that making ourselves look religious or holy will NOT MAKE US RIGHT WITH GOD.  You must believe in the free gift of salvation from Jesus to be right with God.  Without that you are simply looking the part on the outside but the inside is still a dirty unrighteous mess.  When we accept this free gift of salvation and stop working for it we are FREED up to love God the way He intended us to.  Then as we develop this relationship with God we are FILLED up so that we can love others they way He wants us to.  Once Paul proves that salvation comes by faith alone, he moves into what in the world we do after that.

In Galatians chapter 5 he talks about fruit of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit.  Check it out in the Message Version of the bible, it really makes it come alive:

Galatians 19-23a  It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

 This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

I mean, what in the world.  When I read the fruits of the flesh I was knocked to my knees because “stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; a brutal temper; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival,” could be used to describe me on my Wikipedia page.  Or it will be what the narrator says about me on a true crime show where there was no survivors because I finally lost it.  Or it will be something that Kelly, Cheryl or Ashley will say when they are interviewed about me for a 20/20 story about that girl who thought she was Lara Croft Tomb Raider, but finally ended up on a clock tower screaming about how “Lara Croft doesn’t do dishes or laundry!!!!”  I just feel like that list might actually characterize my day-to-day life.  And that scares me because that means I am living by my flesh.

But God also includes the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in this section too.  Anybody read that and throw up your hands and say, “We I’m toast!”  Or maybe you are like me and when I read that list the first time, as a new Christian, I was like, “Oh, ok I got this!  I can do these things!”  That is the, uh, WRONG ANSWER!  “I’m toast,” is more appropriate because it shows that you know you are not capable of manufacturing these kinds of fruit.  I am capable of manufacturing this kind of fruit for exactly as long as no one pisses me off.  (I’m looking at you guy at the harbor who yelled at me cuz you thought I was going to run you over.  Do you know how lucky you are that Jesus saved me?  You better thank Him because He is the only reason I did not get out of my car and throat punch you and then run you over for real!  Anyway, moving on….)  And here is the greatest news in all the land, besides that Jesus paid for my sin, I DON’T HAVE TO MANUFACTURE THIS FRUIT!!!

Do you see there where it says, “But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard….”  “When we live God’s way,” means that we are living in that freedom that comes from the free gift of salvation.  We are not working for Him, to impress Him or to get into heaven.  We are simply learning about who He is from His word, talking to Him in prayer and experiencing this world through His eyes.  When we live that way HE MAKES THE FRUIT APPEAR!

The section we are doing this week in Galatians is Chapter 6 is a beautiful challenge to sow into the Spirit instead of the flesh.  I want to write more about that next time.  I am making a concerted effort to keep these posts around 1000 words because I know my friends and family have other things to do besides read 8000 words from me.  And let me just say too, if you read these, THANK YOU!!  I am tickled to death that you are reading things that I write.  It is the highlight of my day to hear that you connected with something I wrote or that I made you laugh.  Thank you for encouraging me to write more, I have a lot of words, but none that will cover how precious your kind words are to me.   I pray that my words point you to Jesus.

Happy Anniversary!! Can we go to the city dump?

Well 16 years of marriage looks like this:  We got up yesterday morning and gave each other a good morning kiss, wished each other a happy anniversary, had some coffee and then loaded up our trailer full of farm trash and headed to the dump.

Have you ever been to dump?  Don’t laugh at me but I have never been to a real live operating dump.  Did you know that archeologists look for the city dump first and foremost when they discover a new dig site?  They say it is because you can tell so much about a culture based on their trash.  This also means that since the dawn of time we as humans knew that you had to have a separate place to put your trash.  Do you know why?  Because trash is gross.  I have a whole new respect for our trash disposal system.  I also understand why trash “strikes” are so debilitating for city’s.  I’m like, “Dudes of the city counsel, pay them whatever they want because they have the power to set us into a dirty anarchy.”

On my anniversary every year I always reflect on where we have come from and I am always so thankful that we made it another year and we didn’t give up.  We almost did give up and only because Jesus got a hold of our hearts, are we still married.  As we drove to the dump it occurred to me that marriage maintenance is like a trip to the dump.  There is a-lot of messy stinky garbage that we bring into our marriages and if you don’t take it to the dump it stays in your house and festers and stinks everything up until you can’t stand the smell anymore and you want out.

I will say this, someone who has been married 16 years has no business giving marriage advice to anyone because 16 years still falls under that, “we are still working out the right way to put the toilet paper on the holder, which way is the right way to load the dishwasher, and who is going to get the mail everyday.”  Also I make a point to never make declarations of “Here is how to make a marriage work” because that crap will come back and bite you in the butt faster than anything else!  Me saying “To make a marriage work you have to respect your husband,” equals me coming home to find my husband cutting hole in the drywall with his Dremel Tool to test my resolve to respect him.  No thanks.  But I did have some thoughts about stuff I had to take the dump so they would not stink up my marriage.

  1. Take your expectations to the dump:  I expect him to treat me like a Disney prince treats a Disney princess.  I expect him to know that he hurt my feelings by not knowing I expect him to be home for dinner at 6.  I expect him to to know the exact right thing to say every single time I ask him a question.  Expectations are the root of most of my disappointment.  Assumptions and expectations are not what a good marriage is built on.  Communication is what good marriages needs.  If I have the thought, “How do you not know that I wanted you to do that?”  I know I have an expectation that needs to go to the dump.
  2. Take talking bad about your husband to other women to the dump:  This is the breeding ground for critical and disrespectful feelings toward your husband.   Don’t join in when women start ripping their husbands apart.  Don’t say “I just have to vent.”  Take that crap to the dump.  Those words will sit with you and fester and you will start to notice all the things that drive you nuts about your man.  If you need help, or to talk through something do it with a woman who will point you toward Jesus, not man hating.
  3. Don’t even think about divorce, take that word to the dump:  I let this word creep in a few years ago and guess what happened?  I finally got so mad a Jesse that I kicked him out.  Thankfully God restored our marriage and we got back together.  That word will create a space in your mind that is an escape hatch.  Marriage is no joke and hard work but it is worth it to the end, don’t hit eject.  Get that word out of your house.  I thank God everyday for the fact that I didn’t follow through with my divorce.  I would have missed this amazing guy that I am married to now.  God can fix it, I promised.
  4. Giving only “whats left” to your husband? Take that to the dump:  You know what was crazy in my marriage?  When I started putting Jesse before the kids, friends and hobbies I found out I actually really liked him.  When I didn’t have time for him he became a guy who lived in my room with me and didn’t put the toilet paper on the holder the right way.  When I started working on making sure he knew I preferred him to everything else he showed up for our relationship.  When he knew I really needed him he started to care about what was going on with finances, house stuff, kid stuff.  When I put the kids back in their rightful place below him, they started to respect him too.  It’s a beautiful thing.  He should get my best, not my left overs.  Remember, kids will leave, husbands are for life.

It is really so worth all the hard work.  I am so much more in love with Jesse today than I was the first day of our honeymoon.  I think on July 21 st, 16 years ago I was mad at him because all he wanted to do was sleep in.  I was like “who sleeps in?  You have to break into the day and grab ahold life it’s already 5:30 am!”  Well guess who was sleeping in on this July 21st, that’s right Jesse.  It turns out people do sleep in.  Being married to a morning person was one of those expectations that had to go to the dump.

All joking aside though, Happy Anniversary Jes.  I’m so glad we are still together.  I love our life and our marriage.  You are my perfect guy.  I’m proud of you and proud to be your wife.  You are exactly the right person for me.  I thank God for you.

 

The Chicken Run

Here I am again observing behavior in my animals that reminds me of my own real life issues.

These chickens.   Please enjoy this video.  (Also lets give a round of applause to Jesse for helping me with this video.  He was on his way to work and I said, “Please! I need you to open the door so I can video the chickens today!  It will take two minutes!  I promise!”  Well, he changed shoes and headed to the barn only to be met with the fact that the dogs were fighting over a dead rat that Gizmo killed.  It is hard to get a kill away from them, but you learn to do it or else you see that rat again at 2 AM because they are throwing it up on your bedroom floor.  Can I get an AMEN? So the whole video-ing thing took longer than two minutes, sorry honey!)

 

Ok so, my point is this.  These chickens squawk at me while I am letting my sweet duck out, while I am feeding the baby goats, and they squawk at me while I am feeding the big goats.  They use their most impressive voices and puff out there chest all in an attempt to intimidate me into opening their coop first.  To which I say, “You are not the boss of me and until you can use kind words you will be last to get let out.”  To which they say, “SQUAWK!” because they don’t care that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  They are geared up, jockeying for position and biting each other to get out the door first.  Then, when I finally open the door,  OFF THEY RUN!  I was watching them a few days ago and just wondered where are they going in such a rush?  They don’t have a plan or direction they just follow each other and run.  They are just “in a hurry to get things done,” like Alabama sings about.  And then you know WHO whispered in my ear, “weren’t you just praying about feeling rushed, and you didn’t know why?”

Oh my gosh, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My natural bent is to be like the chickens.  Just running with no direction.  No real destination but dammit I’m making good time.

My thoughts are like the chicken run.

My plans are like the chicken run.

My comfort zone is the chicken run.

“Just go, just get it done, faster, more stuff, business, don’t stop,” are what makes up the chorus of my theme song, in my natural state of being.

But Jesus, Jesus comes in and gets in the way of my chicken run and says, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”  “My daughter, you cannot walk in the Spirit and do the chicken run. A fruit of the spirit is self-control, and another is peace, when I see you running the chicken race you look like you are walking in the flesh because I see selfish ambitions, jealousies and bursts of wrath from you, turn around and follow me back to walking in the Spirit because that is a safer place for you.”  Over and over again He reminds me of this.  Over and over again I have gotten lost in the flesh that tells me go faster, work harder, fight more, get ahead of everyone else, and over and over he gets in my way and looks me in the eyes and says, “Stop being a chicken running for no reason, you are a daughter of the King, not a chicken.”

And so, I try to go back to walking in the Spirit.  And I try to capture the thoughts that tell me “hurry up!”  In fact, in God’s humor, or in His good Mercy He gave me a husband who can’t stand to be told “HURRY UP!”  And just to be sure I got the joke, He gave me two kids who actually freeze up when you shout, “HURRY UP!”  (Side note: both of my kids had to have speech intervention because of stuttering.  And BOTH speech pathologists said, “Mrs. Griffith, they don’t start stuttering until you get here.  You HAVE to stop when they are talking to you and look them in the face, otherwise they feel too hurried to get the words out. Got it, thanks!)

What I have learned is that walking in the Spirit is not the absence of “things to do.”  If it was as easy as “do-less-stuff” everyone would do that.  (one more side note:  You know what my most hated phrase is?  “Stop doing so much stuff!”  Oh my gosh, thank you, you just solved all my problems!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I’ll just sit here and do less stuff, but can you do me a favor?  When my head blows up from my anxiety will you mop up the floor?  Because we have already established that we don’t need to let the dogs eat things like that.  Great, thank you.)

Walking in the Spirit is this beautiful dance of learning how to just be with God and let Him direct your steps.  Now some people are going to read that and go, “Oh really? It must be nice to just let the wind blow you one way or another, but I have a job and responsibilities and things I have to do.  But that is exactly what I mean.  It is this awareness in your daily life of the Spirit.  I am learning that when I have that feeling of “Hurry up!” that is when I look to the Lord.  I say to Him, “Lord I don’t want to do the chicken run, help me re-center and not just be running for no reason.”  I do this over and over and over.  I am turning into a “hurry up” detective in my own life.  I am starting to become repulsed by being in a hurry.  I as myself, “Am I running the chicken race here?” That is all Jesus prompting me, and teaching me how to get out of the chicken race.  The schedule has not changed but the heart has.  And when the heart changes that makes all the difference.  Say no the chicken race!  SQUAWK!!!

Sojourn Farm, where dinosaur’s still roam the earth.

alligatorsnapping turtle.jpg

WHAT THE HELL??? Did you know this was a real thing?  This is an alligator snapping turtle.  I believe they originate in HELL!!! This type of turtle got one of our sweet ducks this week.  How do I know it was this resident of Hell that got her?  Because I saw the jerk eating her!!!  It was all very traumatic and I am so sad that our female duck was eaten.

When I saw her laying out in the water I knew it was bad.  Mostly because our ducks don’t go in the pond.  They are love to stand on the shore line and root around in the mud for bugs.  Downton never goes in the water and Cora only goes deep enough to float. They are more into pools and water troughs and things they can see the bottom of.  I made Sydney row out in a kayak and retrieve her body.  Somebody asked me yesterday, “You made Sydney row out there knowing that turtle was in there?”  My answer is, “Yes, yes I did.”  Don’t judge my parenting.  The ducks are my favorite animals and I was not going to leave Cora out there for that dinosaur to eat all day long at his leisure.  It’s not like I made Sydney swim out to get her body.  She had a very sturdy kayak from Costco.  We are not dealing with JAWS here.  As she paddled out I literally thought to myself, “I have my Dave Ramsey Emergency Account fully funded and I will spend every dime of that to save her if there is any chance.”  Well, God heard that and when Sydney finally made it to shore it was clear that there was no chance.  That bastard turtle reached out of the water and snapped her neck.  At least she didn’t suffer but I have a message for the turtle…..

Change “Mandarin” to “Alligator Snapping Turtle”

And another one….. Change “my father” to “my sweet Cora.”

 

I don’t know what Jurassic Park movie you escaped from but your time is up dude.  I have friends with guns, dynamite and one friend that said she would watch the pond from a dear stand…the point is we are coming for you.  Did you enjoy your Duck a la’orange because that was your last meal.

Anyway, the fall out from this loss was one very sad little buddy who had lost his wife.  We comforted him with Kale and a swim in the water trough.  I was ready to hope in the car and drive to Tyler to pick up some ducklings I found on Craig’s List so he would not be lonely.  Jesse put the kabash on that with the point of, “Don’t you think we need to get rid of that turtle first?  I mean otherwise we are just feeding it.”  Right, good point.  And this is why the Lord put us together.  It broke my heart to see him all alone in his little duck hut eating bugs.  I know that animals don’t feel things like us.  I was ready to walk out of Jurassic World when they animated the dinosaur to look like he had a tear rolling down his face.  (Come on!  Reptiles have to lick their eyeballs to keep them moist!)  But when I saw Downton out there calling for her my heart broke.  Also I was so sad that we wouldn’t have anymore duck eggs.  My whole Egg slogan is “Sojourn Farm Fresh Eggs: Every Dozen includes a luck duck egg.” (Credit to my dad for that slogan)  Now we would have to start all over again.

But then, the morning after her death, there was a duck egg in the duck hut!  Now, I had not had any coffee yet so I wasn’t thinking clearly, but my mind went to, “Oh my gosh, she is back from the dead!”  Then I went to, “Oh I bet its a rogue chicken egg.”  I asked Syd if there were any chickens in the Duck Hut when she fed, and she said no.  So then I started to ponder everything I knew about my Jumbo Pekin Male Duck named Downton…..

Side bar, I have a Batchelor’s of science in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Animal Science from Texas Tech University.  I took two poultry classes.  I had to sex poultry in that class.  So why I did not actually check Downton’s sex, is beyond me.  All I can say is that he acted like a dude, he was dude sized and I caught him “on top” of her twice.  Now if living in this day and age has taught me anything it’s that you cannot assume someones gender by the traditional context clues.  Here I was gender profiling Downton.

So as it turns out, Downton is just a bossy, butch, big-boned lady who likes to assert her dominance by jumping on other ducks.  Sydney looked up a video on how to sex Pekin’s just to be doublely sure.  So now our slogan still works because Downtinina is still laying an egg everyday.  I have apologized profusely for congratulating Cora on here egg laying ability this whole time when it was Downinique the whole time!  She also has recovered from losing her “friend.”  She still goes down the shore of the pond like her and Cora use to do, but Downanna has never gone in the water.  We use to tease her about that, turns out she knew something we did know.  We are working on feminizing her name.  The problem is she already comes to Downton.  So that is a whole mess, but I don’t know how to fix it yet.

We are really sad to lose Cora.  And we really are going to have to do something about that dinosaur because I don’t want him getting our swimming Corgi.  Not sure what the plan is for sure, but that pond eco system has gone unchecked long enough.  If we have learned anything from the Jurassic movies it’s that messing with nature is always a good idea.  I’m sure there will be more blogs posts about it.  For now, we are just thrilled that we still get a duck egg everyday.