Big Teddy, Big Heart

Big Teddy came off the store shelf and into our lives while I was pregnant with my first born son. He was about four feet tall with the perfect lap to sit in while reading a book or use as a pillow to take a nap. He was a nursery staple for both kids.

As the kids got older they could ride his back down the staircase or prop him as the gate and guard of a fort. He was my son’s skin horse, loved until he was worn out. My daughter’s velveteen rabbit. Real with love.

Scarlet Fever didn’t plague our home but an illness took over, putting me in a frantic and feverish condition. It is highly contagious and can take a once sane mind and make it crazy – staging and selling a house.

Big Teddy was rehoused in a giant wardrobe cardboard box in the basement with a bunch of his friends to stage my daughter’s room to look like a child didn’t really live there.

The Ohio home took longer to sell than anticipated and our new Texas house had several closing delays so by the time I was unpacking our belongings, Big Teddy and his friends had been in their temporary housing situation for nearly 6 months. I was becoming as unraveled as his ear was from a tug of war with the dog. He was big, musty and my daughter hadn’t asked for him. I had bought her a new giant stuffed animal horse for Christmas so I figured Buzz Light Year had replaced Woody.

I was as overwhelmed by the move, all our stuff with no basement to store it in. My brain, heart and even a portion of my soul must have still been somewhere buried in a box because I did the unimaginable. I threw out Big Teddy.

A few weeks later, when what I had done was discovered, she cried for days. She was devastated and angry. She was at the end of 2nd grade but with all the strength and conviction her little body could muster, she locked eyes with me and vowed she would never forgive me.

I hadn’t just thrown away a toy. I threw away a link to her past. Her memories. A familiar friend.  I also threw out her trust in me. Her faith that her mother was always looking out for her best. I had flipped her world upside down with a move away from everything she had known. She was still grieving the loss of her friends, room, school and old life. Now I had added grieving the loss of a significant toy that could have offered stability in her shaken world. I am horrible. I couldn’t forgive myself.

Despite your desire to declutter and simplify when you move, do not throw your kids toys away without their permission. It is hard for their little minds to understand all the changes going on around them, their toys are a comfort and a consistency they need to help their transition.

The tears that fell to the ground from her cheeks did not produce a nursery magic fairy to make Big Teddy real somewhere, but they did usher in a harsh reality that moms fail.

Like a good Texan who still rages over the loss of The Alamo, the resentment over the loss of Big Teddy raged in her heart for 3 years. Yet this past Sunday, as we prepared to take communion at church, the pastor prompted a series of questions on forgiveness in light of the sermon and the upcoming Easter celebration. Brooke leaned over and locked eyes with me to whisper, “I forgive you for Big Teddy”.

The tears of relief that dropped from my cheeks did produce a sort of magic that only true forgiveness can produce. Grace flowed like liquid relieving the cracked ground of a broken relationship making it soft again to give restored trust a chance to grow. My heart grew wings.

Letting go of bitterness, guilt, resentment, loss, or expectations can be a freeing step in your moving process. Letting go of her anger over Big Teddy allowed more room in her heart to open up. What I did couldn’t be undone but forgiveness would no longer let it split us apart.

 

 

 

 

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Super Blue Blood Moon

Today we experienced an unusual overlap of lunar events called the super blue blood moon.

As the moon moved along its merry normal way, it experienced a disruption of its light source, it became overshadowed.

The moon has no light of it’s own, it only reflects the sun’s light. So when something gets in the way, the moon changes, quickly cooling and darkening.

I feel this same helpless overshadowing when a problem looms so large it blocks my view of Jesus and his light in my life.

Some dramatic change like a move, a death, a conflict with a close friend, illness or a job loss can orbit into our life and eclipse our warmth and security.

The Bible illuminates God’s unchanging character so we can remain overwhelmed by His love, joy and hope even when we are overshadowed with change. 

NO CHANGE: James 1:17 says God “created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” God not only created light, He is light according to John 1. Light doesn’t create a shadow, a shadow forms when something blocks the light.  After a big change in life, we may not feel God’s presence, our hearts may feel abandoned and cold but He is always there, the light is always shining, we just might not see it at the moment. His promises, character and word does not change just because circumstances change. We, like the moon can go through phases but God, like the sun never changes.

NO FEAR: Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” We marveled this morning as the shadow shifted along the moon’s surface but thanks to modern science we knew not to freakout, that is was just a shadow and it would be temporary. The moon stayed on course, it stayed moving in its orbit and it returned to the light. We do not need to be afraid when the darkness of change overshadows us. Don’t freeze up, keep moving towards God’s light and experience His salvation.

NO MORE: Isaiah 60:19-21 predicts a day when “No longer will you need the sun or moon to give you light, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and he will be your glory. The sun will never set; the moon will not go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.” The super blue blood moon lunar eclipse day could be that day for you. “That day” Isaiah speaks of is when we move our lives out of the darkness into the light of God. Our brokenness can end and we can be made right again. We can have eternal assurance when Jesus makes his home in our heart and plants new life within us. The shadow of sin and death can not overtake us. Shadows become temporary in the light and life God extends through a relationship with his Son, Jesus.

If you are feeling overshadowed by your move or any other major life change, ask God to put you back in orbit around Jesus and patiently wait for the light to return.

 

 

Expect Delays

We all know that on the road of life we can expect delays.

However when you are smack dab in the middle of one of the nation’s top 10 areas for growth it’s absolutely impossible to avoid delays.

Moving, expect delays. Building, expect delays. Construction, expect delays.

Just hearing the word delay makes me groan not giggle with glee. Yet James starts off his letter “whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.”  (James 1:1 NLT)

I worked for the country road commission in college one summer and had a day where I was the sign girl for traffic. I did not receive many gestures of joy when I was the one responsible for people’s delays.

Anytime there is movement, growth or building you can expect delays. After a move we can experience a delay in our home closing but also a delay in letting go of our past. When we begin to rebuild our relationships and experience a betrayal it can be as frustrating as a contractor who doesn’t show for a week.

We live in such a fast-paced, immediate culture, how do we shift from irate to elate when we encounter a delay? 

  1. Expect delays. It isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Delays are a matter of fact not a what’s-the-matter freakout.
  2. Delays are meant to keep us safe. They provide time to either fix or avoid a bigger problem.
  3. Delays provide pause. If we trust God is sovereign over time we can use the pause of delay to take a breath, be positive, redirect, and pray. We can rest in the recognition that most things are just out of our control but everything is in His.
  4. Delays are temporary. The short term inconvenience is worth the long term results. Be it a widened road, a new business, or a remodeled kitchen keep looking forward to the future in the midst of today’s delay.

James says our delays are opportunities for joy, not to be confused with the emotion of happiness. Joy is a gift when we trust God in the delays.

James goes on to say “for when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:3-4

So as we grow, move and build, expect that strong character and the ability to handle what’s next is the benefit of finding joy in the delay

 

Kindling

I love a good campfire.

I love to rotate like a rotisserie chicken on a cold night in front of a fire. Toast marshmallows for s’mores. The dancing flames are mesmerizing. And thank you Texas for introducing me to the lovely smell of burning pinion wood.

But I hate kindling. I don’t have the patience for it. I just want the fire to ignite immediately. I waste a lot of time not taking the time to kindle.

The tiny small pieces of tinder are vital to starting a fire. Those small and tedious things that must ignite before the big pieces can catch. It can be beyond frustrating to start a fire when I don’t take the time and effort to kindle.

When I start something new I can get just as frustrated in the kindling phase. I just want the end result to happen, for the big things to hurry up and ignite.

After a move, so many new fires had to start back up in my life. I wanted immediate friends, purpose, and success without the patience it takes to fuel and build those things.

When the big things I want in life don’t catch, I have the temptation to give up leaving me shivering in the cold darkness of insecurity.

Instead of giving up, I needed to light something smaller. I needed to kindle. 

Go regularly to a new group. Give a compliment. Get my face out of my phone. Try a new restaurant. Join a workout. Find a place to volunteer. Shop in a local business. Write a thank you note. Take a different road. Make eye contact and smile. Sit next to someone. Sit next to them again next week, and the week after.

These small things feel vulnerable, awkward or useless but building new relationships, new purpose, and new identity take small intentional steps. Prayer, reading the Bible, time, remaining positive, repetition and patience have been the successful tinder.

Too often I’ll long for the blazing fires of yesterday after a move because I only remember the full fires, I forgot the time and effort those fires took to build. Kindling a spark is the only way to ignite the big pieces of your life. Be patient and don’t give up. 

 

 

Bomb Cyclone

All around the nation, women are bracing for a storm of emotions with post-holiday blues in the forecast. As a recent mover, it could be an all out record-breaking bomb cyclone for you.

This winter super storm forms from a drastic drop in the atmospheric pressure.

Saying good-bye to loved ones and familiar things all over again can start a swirling cyclone of emotions in your heart. The atmosphere drops like a bomb when the warm air of days filled with holiday cheer and laughter with friends and family hits the cold empty air of loneliness. As everyone goes separate ways the chilly reality blasts that you still feel unsettled and unconnected.

Doubt, disillusionment and disappointment may freeze your confidence. Struggling with where you belong, feeling misunderstood and being ignored can make it feel like the sun will never shine its warmth again.

So when the bitter bomb cyclone of post-holiday blues and loneliness starts to chill you, don’t go out in it, seek shelter in Jesus and allow his truth to still the chill. Reading Psalm 16 was like a hot mug of yumminess in my hand, cuddled under a fuzzy blanket by the fireplace. Even though my emotions are dropping as fast as the temperatures outside, my heart lifted as I snuggled up inside the truth of God’s word.

  1. “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.” Refuge from ______ loneliness, destructive comparisons, unmet expectations, and so on and so on. You can fill in your own blank____.
  2. “All the good things I have are from you.” Counting what you have not what you don’t.
  3. “The godly people in the land are my true heroes. I take pleasure in them!” Surround yourself with positive people.
  4. “Those who chase after other gods will be filled with sorrow. I will not take part…” Haters always be hating. And its okay if they un-friend you on Facebook (see v. 3 again or jump to v. 5).
  5. “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.” God is my all in all. He alone is all I really need. He is the defender, even of my relationships and reputation.
  6. “The land you have given me is a pleasant land…” In Texas, even though the land is full of snakes, the sky is full of stars and spectacular sunsets. Even though it seems barren now, trust the land God has put you in was for His good plan and purpose. Look for the unique beauty his creation reveals about Him wherever you live.
  7. “I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” God will guide you to the right people and things at the right time if you follow Him. He is always available, day or night.
  8. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” THIS VERSE. I don’t care how cold the bomb cyclone drops in your life. THIS VERSE. Your current storm may make you shiver but you will not be shaken. Jesus is always beside you, bask in the warmth of his love.
  9. “No wonder my heart is filled with joy…” Filled with joy. Not happiness, happiness is dependent on what HAPPENS to you. Joy is a gift from God when you trust him no matter what happens. When our heart is filled with God’s joy there is little room for loneliness to live.
  10. “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your godly one to rot in the grave.” This points ahead to the resurrection power of Jesus. He brings new life from the grave, he thaws ice, and ordains new life to spring from buried seed. Jesus is light and life, his resurrection broke the power of darkness, decay and death.
  11. “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Guidance, joy, pleasure. Forever. Sign me up! You might now know where you belong in this new city yet but God will show you the way of your new life. The joy of His presence and the pleasures of living with him are regardless of your state, city or neighborhood.

Praying that even though the bomb cyclone of post-holiday blues hits hard and cold, the warmth of His presence and love will shelter you and give you hope for brighter days ahead.

 

 

The Crossed Road

In honor of World Kindness Day let’s visit Luke 10 of the Bible to see what Jesus says about showing kindness:

When I read Jesus’s famous story of the good Samaritan, I wish I could be the hero showing kindness, but honestly I can relate better to the bloody pulp of a man lying stripped, beat and half dead somewhere along his journey in need of kindness.

The man in the story was on the move from one place to the next but something bad happens along the way. Really bad.
It’s not like he went that way looking to get assaulted. Sure it was a tough road to travel but certainly he did not expect for this to happen. He was hoping, like we all do, for an easy journey from one place to the other.

Likewise when we move from one address to the next, we realize there may be some risk along the way, but we plan, take precautions, and hope for a smooth transition.

Maybe you get through your move with just a few bumps and bruises. But sometimes the emotions of moving jump out and beat the @$*& out of you. You feel half dead because your old life feels kicked out of you. You are beat up with destructive comparisons, doubt and fear. Anxiety cripples you. Your roles and relationships feel taken away leaving you stripped of your identity. You grieve the loss of your friends, family, community and even your favorite donut shop. You wonder if you’ll ever breath the deep air of contentment again. Your shallow breaths just suck in painful reminders of how helpless and hopeless you are.

If the man was still conscious, he may have heard the footsteps approach. Fear and hope compete in his mind. Will this be another attack or an answer to his anguish?

The Unheroic Heroes:

Along come two likely heroes. Good people. Surely they can help.

But he is too messy. Too wounded.

The first saw him but crossed to the other side of the road. He passed by.

The second saw him and moves close enough to smell the blood. But he too crossed to the opposite side of the road. He too passed by.

It’s out of their comfort zone. They assume someone else will be along shortly to help. They have no experience with such wounds. If they stop to help they will be making themselves vulnerable. Perhaps he deserved it, besides they have their own issues to deal with and schedules to keep. He was too messy, too wounded.

They saw, passed by and went away.

Have you felt the disappointment from those people at church, your neighborhood, a club, or those mom’s at school that just walk by. They don’t see you and even if they do, they pass by. They don’t cross the room to find out your name. They don’t cross the street to bring you baked goods when the moving truck is in the driveway. They pass by to sit at the table without an extra seat. No one crosses over to offer relief to your wounded heart. You had looked to them with hope, but they look past you.

The Unlikely Hero:

Along comes the third traveler. The unlikely hero. The Samaritan.

Why did the Samaritan cross the road?  To get to the wounded’s side.

The Samaritan was no chicken. He didn’t just cross the road, he crossed all the social, political, racial and religious barriers that kept Jews and Samaritans on the opposite sides of the road of life.

The Samaritan saw need. Pitied the needy. And went to meet the need.

The Samaritan man saw, pitied and went to.

He met the man’s need at his own expense and inconvenience. He soothed his wounds and bandaged them. He made himself vulnerable and his journey more difficult by giving his ride to the wounded man.

It reminds me of all the obstacles Christ overcame to cross from heaven to earth, to cross from death to life to come to my wounded side. I had put my hopes in other people and things but only Christ came to my rescue with true healing. Because He first crossed over to rescue me now I have life and empathy to see, pity and go to the needs of others.

The Unsung Hero:

I would have loved to see the reaction of the InnKeeper in the story when he saw this unlikely pair at his door step. When he saw them, did he hope they would pass by or did pity flood his heart? Perhaps profit was his only motivation. Regardless, they were welcomed and went in, into the Inn.

The Samaritan continues his care of the wounded man at the Inn and once proved worthy,  the Samaritan entrusts the InnKeeper with the rest of the recovery process.

As I think about my own recovery from my moves, there were special groups and people that Jesus led me to; who assisted him like the Innkeeper did the Samaritan. They were a place of refuge when I was vulnerable. They welcomed me Inn even though I was messy and wounded. Jesus trusted them and paid them out of his own pocket. They received payment from God’s economy of joy instead of expecting something from me. Jesus promises to reimburse those who take care of the wounded for him abundantly. So give kindness freely and generously to the messy. We don’t have to be let the wounded pass us by, we can be open and welcome the hurt Inn to our lives, Jesus will provide all we need to love, encourage and be a safe place for them.

We all have roads we once traveled that we can set up an Inn along. My experiences in moving multiple times allows me to set up an Inn for those who get attacked by the bandits of a move. Maybe your affair, your addiction, your abuse, your loss, or your illness has given you the compassion to be an Inn for those who are traveling through those dangerous places.

Sometimes a little kindness can seem overwhelming with so much brokenness lying around. It seems easier to just pass by for one justification or another. But because of the Cross, we can safely cross the road to get to the wounded’s side. The cost of healing has already been paid, we can open our Inn for those on the out.

Be A Good Samaritan. Be a Good InnKeeper. Be Kind.

P.S. 

Hours after publishing this, I was on route from a hair appointment to pickup the dog from the vet and be home before the school bus. But first I had to pick up some shirts for the next day’s Just Moved party. A few houses down from my pickup location was a broken down van with four women. My article was too fresh, crap, I had to practice what I just preached so I asked if they needed help. Their car wouldn’t start but they were ok they communicated in their basic English.

I patted myself on the back. Crossed the road, check. I’m a hero.

But as I passed back by, I realized checking in wasn’t enough. The Samaritan saw the need. Pitied the need. Went to the need, not just rolled down the window and slowed down.

What do you need, I asked again, but I had parked and got out of my car. I had a screwdriver in my hand but that might as well have been a lollipop. I let them know I was really here to help, not just be nice.

One of the women accepted my ride in my modern day donkey aka Subaru Outback. I got her dropped off and made my errands with still enough time to beat the bus home. I don’t add this to toot my horn but to give God glory because He is sovereign over time. To prove his promise that he will provide in abundance when we take care of those he brings to us.

On The Fence

So you’ve heard about this Just Moved group but you’re not sure you qualify. Maybe you’ve been here over a year, maybe over 10 years. Maybe you only moved a half an hour. Maybe you don’t live in Prosper but in a surrounding area. Maybe you don’t go to church or have a faith. If you’re on the fence about coming will you take a quick evolution to make sure you aren’t stuck on the fence.

If you are stuck on a barbed wire fence, you may not be able to move forward with out a little assistance. When I was a kid, I remember getting my hair stuck as I tried to duck under some barbed wire fences as we explored. I was panicked, irrational, and in pain those few moments (although it seemed like forever) before my cousins could finally untangle me.

That’s all this class is. A group of friends to help you get untangled from a couple barbs you may have gotten caught up in as you moved from one field to the next. 

So it’s not so much the time you’ve been here that qualifies you, its if you still have a few barbs in your britches about moving here. We hope to untangle you at “Moving On After Moving In” class on Wednesdays at 9:30am – 11:30am at Rhea’s Mill Church in Prosper, so you can keep exploring the new adventures God has planned for you in this new field.

If a few of these describe you, you might not just be on the fence you might be stuck on the fence.

  1. You Can’t find your groove here.
  2. You Complain and Criticize more that you are content and complimentary.
  3. You Consider moving back.
  4. You Connect with old friends more than new ones.
  5. You Constantly feel misunderstood or alone.
  6. You Center your life around keeping the kids happy.
  7. You Contrast yourself with what everyone else has, does and looks like.
  8. You Cry from the loss of friends, family and old way of life.
  9. You Compare your old life with your new and are still disappointed.
  10. You Continually are afraid of the unknown and what ifs.

The first part of the study we focus on Letting Go. There are things just easier accomplished with a friend, who knows how long I would have been stuck on that barbed wire friends if my cousins hadn’t been with me to free me. You can struggle on your barbs alone, but I recommend you come and get a hand in untangling a few things at the “Moving On After Moving In” class regardless of the time you’ve been in Texas. Its not so much the time, its about the tangle.