Posted in Life Lessons

So This is How Freedom Feels

Tonight I laid back on a quilt on the hill beside UNTs Apogee Stadium and waited for fireworks. My 10-year-old son played quietly beside me. I had actually dreaded this moment all day. I dread this particular holiday. It’s too hot, too hectic, too laden with grief, too everything. But once upon a time, it was my favorite.

Until 2011.

I’ll give “the story” in a highlight reel – just enough where you get the gist and I save myself some added grief. I hate talking about this part of my life.

July 3, 2011 – my boyfriend was supposed to get off a plane from Ohio and spend a long holiday weekend with me and meet my kids and my parents – only he never arrived. I was literally sick with worry. I worried until I got a call the next morning saying he was in the hospital. But in the end – turns out it was a lie. This guy I’d spent a few months long-distance dating, shared a long wekeend with in Columbus, Ohio, and who had my heart was married. It was just too much. The downward spiral of this moment wrecked my life for a long, long time. But I don’t wanna talk about that.

So the 4th of July hasn’t been great for a few years – until tonight. As I laid there watching clouds swim by overhead I thought back over the events of 2011 and realized:

This year finally feels different. Better. I feel content.

An unexpected breeze refreshed me, the sequence of spectacular skies at sunset was the prettiest I’ve seen in a long while. In these simple moments, God redeemed and restored what was once lost and shattered.

I realized it didn’t even matter that people I’d wanted to share tonight with hadn’t shown up. I learned that I truly am okay on my own. God’s timing is perfect.

In fact, even my son had a huge moment where he got brave enough to go play football with some guys. He usually shies away from sports. Tonight was a huge win over the anxiety that usually accompanies Dyspraxia. (Thanks Mark from Krugerville, TX for stepping up and spending much-needed guy time with my son. I have no clue who you are, but God knew my boy needed you tonight.)

As my boy snuggled into my lap and we oohed and ahhed at the glittery rain pelted into the night sky, I felt something beautiful.

I felt freedom.

I felt past events shatter and pop and quickly fizzle out while the grandeur of freedom sparkled and shined and showered me with a new hope.

I feel in my heart now more than ever the depth of the promise that what lies ahead of me will outshine all my yesterdays. I stand on the precipice of a fresh, abiding joy and on the promise God gave me of a forever love in the months ahead.

So this is what freedom feels like.

It feels like the grand finale at the fireworks show at Apogee Stadium in my heart tonight.

Posted in Life Lessons

Staying the Course

This blog is about how my son taught me a valuable lesson. Stick with this one to the end.

But first, if you’re keeping up, this was my first week back at work post-hysterectomy. It’s been 6 weeks since surgery and I’m getting better gradually. My strength is far from where it needs to be. My incision isn’t healing well, but my spirits are up (well, except for today).

I struggled today. I quietly wrestle with feelings of unworthiness, being picked last, being unlovable. Today I struggled harder than usual.

I sat in the back of Gavin’s Vacation Bible School closing service tonight and cried. I’ll save the details about why for my personal journal. I just couldn’t stop. (I cried so much tonight I ripped one contact, ruined the other, and gave myself a full-on migraine. I had to switch to glasses for the drive home.)

Anyway, as I’m sitting there, the messages I kept hearing in the service were all about the Bible story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep and lost one, so he left the 99 to go find the one he lost. It’s a powerful story that illustrates how God loves us. The VBS theme was Game On – so we watched videos of kids struggling through being picked last for teams. Kids who lacked the ability for sports, but wanted to belong.

Do you see how my struggles (self-worth, feeling unloveable, being picked last) + these videos and messages were NOT helping me try to hide that I was crying? No – I just cried more.

So rah rah – VBS pep rally is over, outside for popcorn, bouncy water slides and obstacle courses.

While I struggled with torn contacts, Gavin went down the waterslide a couple of times. He was in 10-year-old bliss. And then came the obstacle course bounce house. Before I know it he’s through the first hole, up and over the next obstacle, and he began to climb. He got to the top and stopped (see his pic above), as kid after kid flew past him over the top and down the other side. But not Gavin. He’s stuck. I see the panic starting. I hear the kids taunting: “Hurry up. Let’s go already.” As they easily move around him and climb over the top.

I know what’s in his mind – fear.

Here’s what’s going on in his body: Gavin has a Developmental Coordination Disorder called Dyspraxia. His brain doesn’t send his muscles the right signals at the right time. He struggles with balance, strength, and coordination. But not willpower.

This means that while every other kid flies through the course, he’s trying 50 times harder and making 50% less progress.

After a long struggle, he looked at me, said: “I’m not gonna make it,” climbed down, and reversed himself all the way back out of the course.

When he got to me, he hugged me and said: “let’s go home.”

Now – I’m not a man, but I know when a man needs a man to talk to, so I found one in the form of my dear friend Pastor Lucas Pinckard.

He took Gavin aside and talked to him. I’m not sure what they said, I stepped out so they could talk. What matters here is this:

  • News Flash for single moms (boy moms especially): you’re not a man. Surround yourself with men of character who will mentor your son.
  • When you’re in a situation where everyone else is getting ahead and you feel powerless, find someone to talk to before you go home with your head down.
  • Try again.

See, because what happened next spoke volumes to my heart:

He went back and COMPLETED the obstacle course. He did the dang thing. He got to the end and said – “NOW we can go home.”

On the drive home I thought back over my day and the unforseen moment that made me cry for hours.

It wasn’t that anything had changed, not really. It’s just..I had climbed through some pretty scary obstacles lately, I found myself at the top of things today, felt amazing and like I was about to make it over, and suddenly, realized I may not make it over after all. I got discouraged. It felt like a punch to my soul. I could hear the voices in my head taunting: “She’ll always be prettier. You’re just not marriage material. Why do you even try anymore? Who would want YOU, anyway? Just face reality – you’re always gonna be alone.”

I know what’s in my mind – fear.

I also know what kind of God I serve and what he has promised me. And I’m still gonna stand on his promise.

But if you’ll excuse me, I just need a moment. I need to regroup and refocus. I’ll be calling my girlfriends for coffee this week. Be ready ladies.

But mark my words – I’m gonna conquer that course.

Because I AM good enough. Because I AM pretty enough. But mostly because I know what God promised – and he always keeps his word.

Thank you, Pastor Lucas and the VBS team at First Baptist Church in Lake Dallas.

I appreciate you.