Staying in my Lane

I was reminded of a clip from the 1987 Blockbuster – Baby Boom as I wrote this post. In the movie, Diane Keaton plays this high-powered corporate executive in New York City. She happens to inherit a baby girl from a distant cousin and I remember at one point in the movie – she is trying to keep up with the other women power walking to work.

As I recall, for a moment, she tries to keep up with the other high-powered exec’s but then realizes – she can’t do it anymore. So she slows down and this look of resignation comes over her.

It’s crazy that I remember that clip so well from a movie that I watched when I was just a kid. Maybe because I find time and again that I’m that woman. Trying to keep up, to be the same, and then realizing I just can’t.

Case in point, I’ve been on the treadmill lately. Running around like a crazy mama to sports practices and games like no. body’s. biz. It occurred to me a couple of days ago that we have 11 sports practices and 10 games this week ALONE. And my 2nd half is headed out of town. Oh my.

With the marathon that has been my life over the last 6-7 weeks, I have slowly started to slip away from some of the habits that continually keep me grounded. Namely spending time reading my Bible (being connected to God), journaling (being connected to myself), and working toward staying connected emotionally to Jason (being connected with others).

This fraying of the cord that anchors me has started to infiltrate other areas of life. I have started to feel pressure “to be the same”. To do whatever it takes to “fit in”. The problem is – fitting in changes with every situation.

I’ve also started to get super caught up in what other people (both near and far) are doing with their time (I hate social media in this way) while I have just gotten more and more frustrated and disappointed with how much I am NOT doing. Discontent is the word that comes to mind.

And this, my friends, is NOT how I want to live.

So on Sunday night – after a day of feeling pretty much anxious and powerless – I took some steps in the right direction. I ran a couple of errands to better help me be ready for the week (self care people). I wrote Jason a note and left it by his keys. I dusted off my Bible on Monday morning and picked up where I left off months ago.

Then yesterday, while I was prepping for this talk – I picked up this book that I read a couple of years ago – and flipped to a page speaking to what I have been struggling with. He mentions differentiation and this is what he says:

Differentiation involves the ability to hold on to who you are and who you are not. The degree to which you are able to affirm your distinct values and goals apart from the pressures around you while remaining close to the people important to you helps determine your level of differentiation. People with a high level of differentiation… can choose… how they want to be without being controlled by the approval or disapproval of others.

Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality p 82

Ironically – out in the margin, written in my hand writing from 2017 – it says “I think I have some work to do.” (You don’t say!)

This, my friends, was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I need to get in my own lane and stay there for a while. I need to get super clear with God on what my next steps look like. I need to go back to my values and what makes me unique. I need to think boundaries and seeing myself apart from others while also being connected to God, self and others. I’m not running someone else’s race. I’m running my own race and God hasn’t forgotten about me.

Here is the deal – I know I’m not alone in looking at others, seeing what all they are doing or not doing and wondering – what went wrong. {Heck, I was texting with a sweet soul yesterday and we were talking about what we thought this season would look like versus what it actually looks like. I told her – and I’m serious – I thought by now I’d have another book in the world (um, not happening), I’d have a well-thought-out designed home (bahaha), and I’d have time to take a shower and wash my hair on a daily basis (for the love). She as well was sharing where she expected to be by now, but wasn’t.}

We all have big plans. And for a lot of us – those plans went into the porta-potty when life blew up before our eyes. (And for some of us, we had big plans and then we had a baby.)

Either way – know that God hasn’t forgotten about you. Know that if you are in a season of barely keeping up, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and exhausted from recovery and from life – He is doing a good work in you and through you even in the wait.

Let’s stay in our lanes. Let’s be ourselves, be different. Let’s encourage one another, support one another and cheer each other on. And let’s take a lot of pit stops – preferably with comfy restrooms and not porta-potty’s.

On the journey with you – Shelley

On Belonging

Back in May, I did a number on myself by over-committing primarily at my boys’ schools. Summer came and I needed a break from civilization. I checked in with myself toward the end of June and nope, I still felt like I needed a break. So I plodded along, keeping to myself (well, let’s be honest – keeping to myself + Jason + my boys + my work + well, you know…)

Fast forward to August and my balance was off once again, but in the other direction. I felt alone and lonely. I was reminded of the sacredness of having a place to belong. I was reminded of the fact that it’s HARD for me to belong – I have some serious roadblocks to getting there (see below). I was reminded that belonging is a value of mine and one that is important for me to nourish.

I started to wonder – who feels like they belong? Who feels like they have people in their corner that they can count on? The ones that will pitch a tent and keep it warm inside, the ones that will see us and hear us and do life with us? Isn’t that something we all yearn for? And yet, it seems so few of us truly have that.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Roadblocks to Belonging

Before we can make progress toward belonging, I think it’s important to identify what holds us back. This might look different for each of us – maybe it’s the pain of betrayal that holds you back – not wanting others to know what is really going on behind closed doors. Maybe it’s shame from past experiences that hold you back – thinking it’s safest to keep them all tucked inside. Maybe it’s fear of rejection. Maybe it’s the pace of your life and all the things you are working to accomplish. All valid reasons for not being able to fully press in to relationships and belong.

I’d say for me, while this list changes, depending on the season, there tend to be two things that consistently hold me back from belonging. One of those things happens to be the limits I have on my emotional bandwidth. Between raising these sweet littles (turning into bigs), running a ministry that helps those that are hurting, and trying to keep my marriage to Jason a priority – my tank tends to run low.

Second, and probably more of a problem, is this fear that I won’t be accepted if people really really knew what I was like – aka – a fear of rejection. While I realize we live in a culture of covering up and while I realize the importance of taking off masks (I preach on this) – I STILL struggle with this.

It’s like there is that little girl, still inside me, that so badly wants to be liked. No. matter. the. cost.

Unfortunately – that cost is high and not worth it.

I have been very very aware over the last month of how I have been tempted to be who I think people want me to be, versus firmly grounding myself in ME. I’ve had several fails where I have walked away and realized – I have some work to do.

And – the good news – I have also had a couple of successes. Where I have walked into a situation or experience (I can count two recent times) and I committed to myself to be me. No matter the cost. It was hard and scary and freeing.

What about for you? What do you see as the things that hold you back from belonging?

The Key to Belonging

What I have realized as I look back on these experiences – is first, I have to belong to myself. What I mean by this is – I have to truly accept myself – my quirks, my differences, my opinions, my fears, the things I love, the things I hate. All of me (hmmm…this is beginning to sound like a mix of boundary work + self care) or as much of me as I know – has to be acknowledged and accepted – in order for me to belong to myself.

As we begin to accept ourselves and find belonging from within – we are then able to show the true and real version of ourselves to others. And when we share the real and true with others – this my friends is when we will start to experience belonging.

So Who are You?

There is something about the death of a marriage that forces one to figure out who they really are. We are all handed this {opportunity} as we face the heartache of betrayal. It’s been a big part of my journey and a big part of what I do as I walk with women via groups and one on one.

And it’s also super scary to dig into who we really are. The pain of betrayal can in the short-term cause us to fit more tightly into our masks and what we *think* we need to look like, act like, be like. If you resonate with this – know that it’s a big part of the the healing process. We don’t want to be hurt again – so no wonder we self-protect with the masks.

The masks we wear, however, lead to isolation, loneliness and death at a soul level.

Below are some simple suggestions for getting to know you. Think of this as gently peeking out from under the mask.

You can look in the Rescued workbook in Chapter 3 and start to explore the things that fill you up and the things that deplete you. You can also start to explore your healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Both of these things are simple ways to start to get to know yourself better and what makes you unique.

I love the Enneagram and here is an inexpensive test (click on the RHETO) you can take that will help you figure out your type. I also like this book and this book which will help you explore the Enneagram even more.

Know that if you struggle to accept yourself, to know who you really are, to belong – you aren’t alone. I am on this journey with you and I’m figuring it out, too. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo – Shelley

Happy Weekend! Happy Summer!

Hello All! It’s official – today marks the first day of summer break. 11 glorious weeks where I won’t be rushing my boys off to school, packing lunches, and asking what homework they have when they get home.

I approach summer with just as much fear as I do relief. I have three high-energy boys. Need I say more?

I do feel a certain amount of hope as well – I have been thinking about my summer goals (which cracks me up because I know full well I will accomplish about 2 things on my list of 20). My biggest goal is to cut out some of the NOISE in my life. Scrolling through the apple news feed (time to take a break from the depressing stories), unsubscribing to the overwhelming flurry of marketing emails I get in my inbox, decluttering my boys’ tiny closets, etc. Yes – I think this is the summer where I am going to focus on reducing the noise and increasing the white space.

And with that time? I want to read a couple of good books, see the whites of my children’s eyes, work on a couple of house projects, bike to sweet cow for ice cream, and lounge at the pool, do a couple of craft days, lemonade stands… (I know, I know, the list is long). It’s going to be good (or it’s going to be a complete nightmare – I don’t know quite yet!).

I wanted to send a link to a podcast that both Jason and I were on recently. The podcast is called Whine Down with Jana Kramer. We loved being on her show.

xo – Shelley

This is YOUR year – Part 1

If you know me well – you know how passionate I am about the new year. Maybe it’s because I am so relieved to have made it through the holiday season – or – maybe it’s because I heart fresh starts. I don’t know exactly what it is but I love the possibilities that come with turning my calendar to January and thinking about all I want to experience in the year ahead.

I say all of that and I know full well that for a lot of women walking through the throes of betrayal – the new year doesn’t bring great joy. I’ve been there. All I knew back then is I couldn’t bear another year like the one I had just endured. I just. couldn’t. do it. You’re not alone if that is the space you are in today.

And – what I believe to be helpful – whether you love new years or whether you are dreading the year to come – is to give the year prior some proper closure. Tell it good-bye. Only after doing this can we turn around and really take some time to think about what we want the year we are facing to look like.

I’m not talking new year’s resolutions here.

I know, I know – new years resolutions don’t have the best of reputations. And that’s actually not what I am going to ask you to do – to create resolutions. A resolution to me seems like an unachievable battle of the will that isn’t really worth sticking to by February 1.

For instance – a resolution might be choosing not to eat sugar for the entire month of January. I actually love sugar. I love it a lot. If I resolved to not eat any sugar – I’d last – eh, about 2 hours. It’s just not practical.

Instead, what I want you to do is think of some achievable goals that you can work toward as the year ticks by. Less about what you are NOT going to do (not eating any sugar) and more about what you CAN do (eat sugar).

Sugar-coated kidding aside – before we look at 2019 and all we want to accomplish, let’s first turn around and say good-bye to 2018 and give it the closure it deserves – won’t you join me?!

Saying Good-Bye to 2018

My life coach taught me two important things to consider when saying good-bye to the year behind. First – what was accomplished? And second – what was survived? Both are worth acknowledging and celebrating.

You can use the printable above to help you think through this. I suggest printing it out and putting it in a place where you can jot down your thoughts and memories as you go about your day. I also like to pull out my journal from the year and sift through it to find the challenges and accomplishments that I wouldn’t remember otherwise. I give myself permission to use the entire month of January to say good-bye to the year prior and to dream about the year ahead. I hope you will, too.

Here are a couple that I wrote down, just to give you an idea –

What I survived:

  • We received a bill from the IRS stating we owed them quite a bit in taxes. It almost sent me to a padded room. Thankfully, the issue was handled and in the end – the government owed us $90!
  • Jason and I had some really hard conversations about his work load, his vision and what he needs to do different. This completely and totally sent me into orbit (thanks to a realization that I grew up in a home where work = love) and sent Jason and I into many a conversations hashing through the best way to move forward.

What I accomplished:

  • I supported Jason wholeheartdly in training for and running a marathon. This involved (but was not limited to) water and food drops, cheering from the car with the boys in tow, and taping Jason’s foot day in and day out to keep his pain to a minimum. It was also me stepping into a vulnerable place of being able to fully support him and cheer him on in what was a dream of his. While this might sound silly to some; for me, for us – it was a big deal.
  • We started therapy to help us handle parenting our boys. A big struggle over the last couple of years that came to a head in 2018 – it was a huge accomplishment to acknowledge we needed help and to be willing to pay top dollar for it (I’m frugal, too, if you didn’t know).

Hopefully that gives you an idea as you start to book-end (or say good-bye to) 2018. It’s all about celebrating the victories and appreciating the challenges.In the next blog post – we will be talking about looking ahead to 2019. In addition, I am working on a vision for the blog for this year and I have some really amazing ideas for how I want to use the blog (and some other things) to help more women get the support they are looking for. It’s going to be good.

I’d love to hear what comes to mind for you as you look back at 2018.

xo – Shelley


Surviving the Holidays – Part 2

So we’ve talked about surviving the craziness of the Christmas season and some simple things we can do to slow down and enjoy this time of year versus hiding until sometime after the new year.

Now let’s talk about what we can do to survive (and thrive) as we engage with our immediate family as well as our distant cousins.

If you are new on this journey…

I want to start by saying – if you are new on this journey and this is your first holiday since your world fell apart – I think it’s really important to take some time to decide what you will be able to handle and what you won’t be able to deal withAnd don’t even think about apologizing for what you can’t manage!

For instance, you might not be up for going to your in-laws house for Christmas, even if it’s just for Christmas morning.  And while you might feel terrible saying no – I encourage you to think through what you feel safe engaging in and what you need to bow out of.

Some women feel better going to family functions with the understanding that the grief and pain is on hold until later in the day or even a couple of days later.  (I remember Jason and I taking these “time outs” for family functions early on in our process.  I was so afraid that Jason might forget that we are NOT okay.  I made it real clear that I was putting this on hold and we would revisit it at xyz time frame.)

Some women, on the other hand, can’t even imagine engaging family and prefer to alter their plans all together.  Jason and I did this as well and it helped that Jason would absorb the repercussions, not me.

Whichever you choose – remember the key is what do you need?  And what would help you feel the safest?  Think this through and if your husband is working his recovery (not just checking the boxes mind you but also doing the heart work) and if you feel safe talking to him about this – share with him what is doable for you and what isn’t.

If you are going to be around his family…

Two things come to mind that I think are really important to work through before celebrating with his family.

First – it’s super important to be on the same page before the gathering.  Jason and I literally have to have no less than three conversations as we prep for time with his family and one of the biggest things that we plan for is taking time every day to check in with each other in order to keep the lines of communication wide open.

We will usually try to go for a walk or a run but if that isn’t possible, then we will make sure to connect before going to bed.  The focus for us is on intimacy so we share what we are struggling with, what might feel tender, and also what we feel is going smoothly.  Remember men – defensiveness is the enemy of empathy so watch for this and work toward caring for your wife’s heart more than anyone else’s.

Second – is to have a conversation about the role he played in his family of origin.  For instance, was he the golden child?  Was he the funny guy that kept everyone laughing?  Was he momma’s boy with some unhealthy attachments?  Whatever it might be – it’s important at some point to explore this together and gain awareness so he can take the initiative to not slip back into the role that made the “system” function back then.  Talk about triggering for us wives.  Whew.

If you are going to be around your family…

More than anything – I needed Jason to show his character changes to my family.  And even today, I still need that.

So if you are second guessing yourself on what you need from him – don’t.  God created us with needs and when we are around our families – those needs go way up!

For instance – one of the things that can really send me into a tail spin is if Jason just lounges on the couch and doesn’t help with the dishes and food prep or with the boys.  Another thing that drives me crazy is if he doesn’t engage with my family and retreats to the bedroom for hours on end.  Um – no.  Totally triggers what he used to be like before his sexual integrity issues came to light:  self-absorbed, checked out and basically not even there.

While Jason loves his time alone (going to a coffee shop to journal or going on a bike ride) – he is always careful to plan it at a time when it won’t impact the entire family and/or put extra stress on me.  Likewise, while Jason doesn’t always love playing games with my competitive family – he will engage in a game or two here and there because he knows it’s important to me.

So think about what you need from your husband before the event or trip and again, if you feel that your husband is engaged in his recovery and if you feel safe having this sort of convo with him – talk to him about it.

A note for those of you whose husbands are not in recovery

I know this can be tricky because if you explore what you need and yet your husband isn’t about to listen to you or care for your heart in that way – then what?

If this is you – it’s still important to still get your needs met (think: needs met by God, self and others) and to also set boundaries with your husband in order to survive and thrive.  It might be that you focus on your kids at the family gathering and don’t spend energy focusing on your husband and the way he behaves when he is around extended family (I would call this healthy detachment).  It might be that you alert your go-to girls that you are going in and it might be ugly and you need them on stand-by in case you find yourself locked in your aunt’s bathroom and unable to leave because of the anger or the tears.

___________________________

Hear my heart as I wrap this up – I want each of you to know that you are not alone and there are women across the world in similar situations to yours.  Trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas with grace and ease.  How to honor their families and children and also honor their emotions as they walk through one of the most difficult seasons one could go through.

If all else fails – I encourage you to put on some comfy clothes, grab some of this and turn this on right away.  I promise, you will feel better almost immediately.

Would love to hear your ideas for how you are going to survive and thrive with your extended families this holiday season.

xo – Shelley

Surviving the Holidays – Part 1

There are two things we must talk about when it comes to this time of year.  Surviving the holidays.  And surviving the holidays.

I see this “survival of the holidays” not only from the stand point of surviving the madness of shopping, decorating, partying, etc. but also (and probably more importantly) from the stand point of surviving the family dynamics that we walk into as we celebrate with loved ones near and far.

I know for myself – I tend to bury my head in the sand starting just prior to Thanksgiving alllll the way through to New Year’s Day.  Whew.  I get SO overwhelmed with putting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, purchasing presents, gifting our neighbors, attending holiday gatherings, shopping for outfits for the Christmas photo,  traveling to celebrate with family, delivering Christmas cards, baking – oh my gosh, I am about to have a panic attack just listing all of these extra things that are supposed to be fun and bring us closer to our families and help us draw closer to Jesus – and yet, they just put me in a really bad mood.

This year – I am determined more than ever to do it differently.  Here are three things that have helped thus far:

We wrote out all of our holiday options / responsibilities and looked at my list and decided what we were really interested in doing and then we let the rest go.

And that means saying “no”.  For those of you that might have a hard time keeping boundaries – this will be hard.  I know it is for me.  What can you say no to this holiday season that isn’t adding any value to your already packed schedule?

The other tricky yet rewarding aspect that goes with saying no is that we have to know ourselves well.  We have to know what we like and don’t like, what we are passionate about and where our values lie.  For women walking through betrayal – this is especially hard because betrayal is pretty much just like a mid-life crisis and what we thought we liked or were passionate about – all of a sudden goes out the window.  No doubt – this journey is an opportunity to really dig into who we are and who God created us to be.

I started thinking about presents before December.

For real, most years – it’s December 20th and I’m thinking it might be time to do some Christmas shopping.  But not this year.  No way.  I ended up taking notes on my phone when I heard the boys or Jason talk about what they would love to have.  It’s not even December yet and I’m more than half-way done with my purchases!  This is unprecedented for me.  And it will help me with my last pointer, below.

I want to actually slow down and practice advent versus it being an after thought.

So much of my journey over the last decade plus has been about figuring out how to wait well.  And not just waiting well but waiting with hope.  In other words, an expectant wait.

Not only was I waiting to see if Jason would become the man God created him to be, I was also waiting for my broken heart to heal.  I was waiting to see if my marriage would survive.  And if we’d have a family and share a life together.  (And to be clear, I wasn’t waiting with my legs propped up on the couch watching The View – my wait involved working the process in between bouts of the View.  bahaha!)

What I didn’t realize at the time was that what God was doing within me during that wait was just as important (if not more so) than what I was waiting for.  The wait is brutal, painful, not glitzy and oh-so-vital to our journeys.

So we are planning the most wonderful day of the year (thanks to the suggestion I found in this magazine) and allowing anticipation to build as we think about the games we want to play, the lights we want to go see and the cookies we want to bake.

This is the same kind of anticipation that we as Christians get the opportunity to experience every Christmas season as we await the birth of baby Jesus – the One that bridged the gap for us, making things like forgiveness, restoration, healing and wholeness even possible in the first place.

I’ll be back with Part 2 here soon.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  xo – Shelley

Photo Credit

 

 

Respite for your weary soul (+ possibly your weary body)

Ladies!  It is not too late for you to join me next weekend at Restore in the DC area.  If you have any questions about this workshop – please email me.  We will laugh, cry, get angry, and be besties before it’s all over.

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This is not exactly how I wanted to spend the last ten days.

Especially because it’s my favorite season of the year – *Fall*.  I want to be out and about, enjoying the color changes here in Denver along with the gorgeous weather (minus the snow storm that blew through here some two weeks ago).

Instead – I find myself in bed.  Sick.  Jason made an executive decision yesterday and hauled me to the doctor and I didn’t have enough energy to protest.  The doc thinks I came down with a virus about ten days ago and then caught a second one earlier this week.

Lovely.

So that’s why I haven’t been able to get any traction, turn the corner, and move on with life.

I find myself feeling frustrated, powerless, and disappointed.  I find myself saying – I have missed a whole week of my life!

My boys look at me with anticipation in their eyes every morning and after school – I can tell they are wondering – is momma any better?  I shake my head – and say I’m not quite there yet, but I’ll be better soon…

And then last night – Jason and I are lying in bed and I ask him to pray for me, for us.  As he prays – he mentions surrender.  He mentions not resisting but rather allowing this to play out.  And giving us the strength to get through.  ‘Cause momma’s don’t have time to get sick.

Something in me shifted as I heard Jason drift off to sleep and I lied there fully awake – hurting too much to slumber.  What if I were to just let go – to surrender this, too.  To know that there is goodness in everything and something for me even in this week.

Maybe the week that was wasted, that I missed, was actually a week where I was able to be… reminded of my fragility.  To see that I’m really not as in control as I want to be.

Maybe this week – because of my pain and inability to sleep – was not wasted because… I was able to pray for a dear friend battling cancer and another dear friend battling a chronic disease.

Maybe this week – because of my inability to get up and go – was not wasted because… I saw that asking for help is a good thing.  It allows me to practice humility and to actually see that I have needs that I can’t always meet myself.

And of course – my heart goes to y’all – my dear readers.  You might be having the same thoughts.

He’s ruined my life.  Because of my grief – I have missed out on my baby’s first year.  I have missed out on the joy that usually surrounds my birthday.  What a waste.  And will I ever EVER be repaired enough to find that joy, that hope ever again.

I want you to know that there isn’t anything in this life that has happened to you that God didn’t touch first.  (Thank you Dale for your wisdom):

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

He knew of your heart break.  He knew of your pain.

And while it might seem ridiculous to even think about right now – God has so much good planned for you because of the trials and tribulations you are facing right now.

“What you intended for harm, God intended for good.”  Genesis 50:20

While I believe getting to a place of acceptance can take years and buckets of tears and grappling with questions that don’t necessarily have any answers – I believe that surrender – yes, surrendering whatever load it is that you are carrying TODAY – can be a short term respite for your weary soul.

What is it that you need to surrender?  Can you get specific?  And then – what would it look like in practical terms to release it?

For me – I need to surrender this illness that has (temporarily) taken over my day to day.  I can choose to wait patiently, to ask for help, to pray for others while I wait, to look my children in their eyes and be reminded of how much I love them even though I can’t show them in any other way right now how much they mean to me.

Wishing each of you a much healthier week that what I’ve had the last couple.

xo – Shelley

 

I’m a better person when…

Hey Y’all – before I get into this short and sweet blog post for today – just three quick things I want you to be aware of. 

First – there are two new groups starting in November.  If you are interested at all in one of these groups – I would love to hear from you. 

Second – the Restore Workshop is just around the corner!  Would love for you to join me there – it’s a packed weekend and I promise you will walk away with so much hope and clarity as to your next steps to move forward toward wholeness and freedom!

Third – I enjoyed being on this podcast a couple of weeks ago.  If you listen to it – you might notice it sounds like I am running around during the first 5-6 minutes of the show.  And that’s because I WAS.  I was on my land-line and the battery was low (and beeping) and I was literally running around the house from room to room looking for the 2nd phone which took me a loooooong while to find.  Oh my goodness – talk about terrible timing.

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It was last Sunday at church that I thought these 5 words – “I’m a better person when…”  I found myself actually looking for people I knew to say “hi” to in the hallways after church versus my usual – keeping my head down, collecting my kids and flying out the door.

I thought to myself – I am a better person when I actually make an intentional effort to connect with people I know.

Another reminder that while isolation is always easier – it’s not in any kind of way better.

And then I started to wonder – what else makes me a better person?  So I started compiling a list and here is the start of it –

I’m a better person when…

  • I get up before my kids and have even just 5-10 minutes to connect with myself and God before my day gets underway.
  • I carve out space to exercise.
  • I call the mail lady by name and say a word or ten when I see her at my door or on the street.
  • I have food in my pantry and in my fridge.
  • I have clear boundaries and expectations with my children and I stick to what I say.
  • I make my Friday morning date with Jason a priority.
  • I reach for a vegetable instead of a slice of cake. (Which I just indulged in and loved every bite!  haha!  Maybe I should remove this one from my list.)
  • I carve out time at the end of the day to cuddle with each of my boys once they are in bed.
  • I map out my week by Sunday evenings – just so there are no surprises.
  • I have margin in my day (which I haven’t had in the last 10 days or so – eeks!).

That is literally the very beginning of what could turn into a long list.  I’d love for you to join me in thinking this through as you go about your day and then sharing with me – what are the things that make you a better you.

And then – let’s go do them (minus subbing the veggies for cake) – ’cause we all need a little cake in our lives!

xo – Shelley

Manna

Well Ladies – I am officially on a roll.  I have three littles in school and have a total of four hours to myself, five days a week.  Last week was the first week of this new schedule and I have to laugh – the day before my youngest started preschool – I was worried I would have too much free time.  I was slightly concerned that I might just roll around in bed all morning long and eat potato chips and watch “As the World Turns” or something similar.  Jason just laughed and shook his head when I told him my deepest worry for the Fall season.  How could he?!

Then – last week happened and it was a mixture of frenzy, glory and tears.  The words out of my mouth by the end of the week – “Four hours isn’t NEAR enough time!  No!!!”

I’d like to say that this is more of the perseverance that I spoke of in the last blog post – but I’d be kidding.  I am thankful for my small allotment of time.  It flies – but it’s filling my soul.

I’m listening to some different podcasts while I tidy the house (which how in the world could the 5 of us make such a mess in the morning that it takes me 90 minutes to pick up once everyone is up and running?! – does anyone else experience this?).  I’m starting to work on some projects that have been sitting on the shelf for far too long.  And I’m working hard to wake up before the boys for those 20 magical moments so I can read, journal, reflect, and pray.  Ladies – for real – this last part is so hard for me – but it is filling my soul.

Recently, I came across this devo that I had tucked into a rickety chest of drawers next to my desk until I finished this study which took me forev to do!  The devotional was given to me by a precious woman in one of my groups and in the introduction – the author, Nancy Guthrie talks about a horrific time in her life and her search for what could possibly get her through the next day, what could possibly fill her soul.  It was the author’s sister-in-law that answered – “manna”.

Just as the Israelites depended on God for food to get them through the day for 40 years – we as well depend on God to nourish our souls so that we as well can get through our days.  Especially when we think we might not make it.

And just as the Israelites couldn’t store up the food (except for the Sabbath) – nor can we.  As Nancy says – “every day, we need a fresh touch, a fresh word to nourish us and sustain us.  Yesterday’s manna, yesterday’s insights may inform us, but every day we need something new to keep us moving forward toward healing” (p.xvi, Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope).  LURVE that!

These fresh touches, fresh words – oftentimes they do come in the still and quiet of the morning while my feet hit the pavement or while I am sitting in my cramped office, that also serves as a catch-all, reading a study or journaling to God.  But other times these touches and words come from my community – family and friends that know me.  And then there are those sweet times when it’s God disguised as a stranger.

Yesterday – the manna for my day – the thing that kept me moving forward toward healing was in the midst of a conversation I had with a fellow group facilitator.  We were processing something that came up in her group and she asked – when we choose not to show up – is it because we can’t accept ourselves right where we are at?

Her question gave me pause.  I’ve thought of all the times when I choose hiding over showing up.  When I lurk into the shadows instead of bravely walking into the light and saying – here I am – pain, hurt, ugliness and all.

It also had me wondering – what comes first – accepting ourselves (in isolation) before sharing the ugly with others?  Or sharing the ugly with others (in community) and then learning to accept ourselves as we see those around us accept us first?

I believe it’s the latter that is the more likely way we experience healing.  And that is a hard pill to swallow.  I’m reminded of something I re-read recently – We get hurt in relationships.  And – we heal in relationships.

As you continue on your journey toward hope, healing and wholeness – what is the manna that is getting you through today?  It could be words of truth in a conversation (like my example above) or it could be encouragement or grace or love.  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

xo – Shelley