Monday, June 26, 2017

#sweetcampkitchen

A few weeks ago, our oven died.

Trusty 7:01 was an elderly appliance and she baked her last cake on a sunny day in May.  She lived a long and happy life in her beautiful pink-countered kitchen and had lovely rolling numbers that allowed the world to remain at the same time forever.  Large as a car, she took up an impressive amount of space in the kitchen, but she cooked many a meal for the families in her care.

All was fine until it wasn't.   

The repair man told us it was impossible to fix her, and that it was time for a newer model.  Unfortunately, the expansiveness of her frame meant it wasn't as easy to find a replacement with the same width without spending a fortune.  When my husband called to tell me he had purchased an oven from Lowe's that would not fit the hole, I immediately knew I had a decision to make.  

Would I be a brat, or would I be awesome? 

Part of me really wanted to be a brat and tell him to take that oven right back to the store because it wasn't going to fit and it was going to be a nightmare to make it look acceptable.  I like things to look put together and having a 3-inch gap on either side of the oven was going to look awful and our struggling kitchen already had some decorative issues:




But, I also knew this was a prime opportunity to finally update our kitchen and bring in some character that is more reflective of our camp and family.  Also, our family has been blessed to live  in an awesome home on our sweet little camp.  It would be ridiculous to act like a big baby.

So, I decided to be awesome. 

To be continued. . . 



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fresh Outta Cute by Mama A.

Hey friend--

I know you're busy with a million things to do and places to go and things to be, and you've got big dreams waiting for you so I'm only gonna take a few minutes of your time.  In fact, I'm challenging myself to write this in less than 10 minutes because I know your life is full of adventure and stuff and you probably don't have time for the deep stuff today.

I've seen the romantic notions about life the media and the world and the church has placed on your head.  I've seen the way you've dreamed and prayed and readied yourself for the logical steps life was going to throw your way--school, college, job, marriage, house, babies, and trips.  I've seen you scratch your head in frustration when things didn't go exactly as planned.  I've seen you rally and pull up your bootstraps and pretend that it was all just fine, and that this disappointment meant you were going to try again because that's what someone does if at first they don't succeed.

That's what all of those Disney movies taught you.
And your parents.
And the world.

That it was all going to turn out fine.  

But, somewhere along the way, you've realized that perhaps something was wrong with it all, because try as you may, it wasn't turning out fine.  And you are puzzled by this because you've done everything you were supposed to do, and say, and be, and it was still one big frustrating mess.  You start looking for answers and blame to point at, because enough was enough.  You've chameleoned your way into friendships and relationships and trying to get people to notice you.  You've been angry and jealous at those who seem to have it all together, and you are positive they are judging your failures.

And then the voice starts whispering in your ear that perhaps it isn't everyone else that's letting you down.  Maybe, it whispers, there is something wrong with you.  And you've tied up your whole identity into being the player in a perfect fairy tale, but it hasn't happened.  And your friends seem to have found exactly what they were looking for, but you're left alone and you're feeling fresh outta cute.

Friend, if you were here and sitting on the couch with me, I'd apologize for my dog getting in your business and I'd offer you a cup of coffee.  And I would listen to your woes, and then I would look at you and remind you to not take the fastest road to shortcut to your dreams.

I would remind you that just because one person or several decided to not ask you to star in their fairytale doesn't mean you aren't worthy to play a leading role.

I would tell you that no one starts at a top-level job and everyone has to do their time in places that are not always ideal, and one day you will be glad for the reality check.

I would also remind you that the more you turn yourself inside out to please the world and him and her and them, the more you end up looking like a pair of inside out jeans--faded, stringy, and a less awesome version of yourself.

Today is the day you tell the voices and the world and the people who expect you to be something that you're not and who make you feel less about yourself:

No.  More. 

It's time to stop worrying about what the world wants you to worry about.  It's time to listen to the small Voice in your heart.  It's time to stop forcing yourself into an oddly-shaped hole.  Tell those voices in your life who make you feel badly about yourself to take a hike.  

You're worth more than this.  
You're better than this. 
And no one does you better than you. 

Love, 
Mama A. 
xoxxo

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Setting the table upright again (conclusion)

After a long and difficult season, Grace bends over and helps me pick up my overturned table and offers me a seat.  Grace knows me so well and sits down with me as a trusted friend.  It might be Easter, but it still feels a little like Good Friday in my soul.  Hard, scary, frustrating, angry, messy, worry, and confusion.  

I set my many bags and burdens down and try to remember the last time I was able to just stop and be still.  It's a luxury I rarely enjoy, and it's usually interrupted by a small person needing some assistance.  I'm trying my best to smile and be present, but there's a million mile to-do list that is going to need some attention sooner than later.  I work hard to keep all the irons in the fire, and I have learned that putting them off only creates a bigger list.

I'm also slightly afraid of the quiet.  Stillness invites anxiety, and I try to avoid being alone in my thoughts for too long because they tend to lie and remind me of all the ways I'm letting the world down these days (and all the times I've let it down in the past).  And when they tire of same old, same old worries, they are creative and discover new ways to torment me.

But Grace allows me to be hollow and empty and exhausted by my troubles because it takes me as I am.  It doesn't rank me on the ways I'm measuring up and falling short because it knows me better than I know myself.  Grace covers my hand with its own and lets me feel the expanse of all the emotions, rather than shaming me for all the ways I could have made it better.  And when I'm done spilling out, it gently reassures me that all will be well eventually.

Grace knows all the times I've failed and sinned and does not hold it against me.  I am deeply forgiven and loved and made new again by this gift of Grace.  Grace also knows that as much as I want to breathe it in, I have a difficult time sharing my table with those who have deeply wounded me and let me down.  I want to put those people at the kids' table of Justice and leave them there until they feel the sting of my hurt.  But Grace reminds me over and over again that there is room at the Table for everyone, including me and those people, too.

Grace wipes my tears and helps me to stand up again.  Grace offers to keep my extra bags and burdens and promises that even though I've become accustomed to carrying them with me at all times, I don't (and won't) need them every single day.  It's time to press forward and continue on the journey, knowing that Grace always keeps the door open.

And as I walk out the door, Grace reminds me that He will be with me until the very end.

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