Tearing down walls

039 wall

For as long as I can remember, I’ve hidden behind walls constructed for the sole purpose of protecting myself from hurts, both real and imagined.  My walls, I’m coming to understand, are made from very specific types of materials:  Anger. Criticism. Avoidance. Withdraw.

Hurt feelings seem to be a theme for me, lately.  The practice of allowing myself to be vulnerable has left me excruciatingly tender and raw.  Since the last time I wrote about hurt feelings, I’ve been trying to pay very close attention to myself when my feelings are hurt and I’ve learned that one of my knee-jerk responses to emotional pain is to attack.  To make people small in my own eyes so that I can justify never being close to them in an effort to avoid being hurt.

She’s too….
He’s not enough…
She can’t…
He isn’t…

We all have weaknesses, and I exploit those weaknesses to rationalize never getting too close.  I hide deep within a fortress built from accusations, surrounded by a moat filled with justifications.

The other night, after having my feelings hurt for approximately the seven-hundredth time, I sat on the bed with my husband and sobbed: “I don’t know how to live without walls!  I don’t know how to be vulnerable!” Then I called a friend and cried in her ear for a while, so I guess I know how to be a little bit vulnerable.

That night, I had a dream about someone trying to break into my house to steal something precious from me.  When I woke up, I felt God saying to me: “you don’t have to defend yourself.  No one can take me away from you.

Oh, tears.

No one can dictate how Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit, feels about me.  Criticism, disappointment, frustration, contempt, accusation, irritation, judgement, rejection… none of these things – these very real things that people are going to feel and project toward us from time to time – none of these things are a reflection of God’s love for us.  God’s love is steady, constant and unconditional… even if those around us sometimes can’t be.  If we can learn to stand on the solid ground of God’s love for us, we’ll not be tossed and turned and flipped upside down by the opinions of others.  We can love – really love – from a place of love.

And so, when I’m feeling especially raw and tender and bruised and beaten, I’m learning to stop and acknowledge (and even say) to myself: “this hurts, this hurts, this hurts!” over and over again until I can breathe enough to ask myself: “What hurts?  Why does it hurt?” And then ask myself “Do you need to talk about it?  Do you need to walk away?  What do you need right now?”  And then do that thing.  And the next thing and the next until I find my way right back to love.

I’m learning that boundaries are different than walls.  Boundaries are a healthy – necessary – part of good relationships.  Boundaries say to my husband: “I don’t want to talk about this right now” and walk away for a while.  Walls say: “I never want to talk to you about anything ever again!” and stay away.  Boundaries ask my friend: “Why do you think this is a bad idea?” and discuss and maybe disagree.  Walls say: “You’re always nagging me!  You’re never supportive of me!  You’re not a safe person to share anything with!” and never speak of it (or anything like it) again.  Boundaries are designed to allow safe passage in and out and through.  Walls are designed to separate that which is without from that which is within.  Boundaries connect while walls divide.  Boundaries are essential to good relationships.  Walls are detrimental.

Walls are funny, nondiscriminatory things.  We build them to keep out the bad, but in doing so, we also keep out the good.

I read an inspiring thing today:


Love is scary.  Let’s do it anyway.


*Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things


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Posted in Anxiety, Criticism, Daybook, Friendship, Love, Marriage, PERSONAL, Victory Journal | Leave a comment

Seven Quick Takes: Oct 3, 2015

seven quick takes friday 2

Fall is upon us, and we have so much to be thankful for…


Pears on the trees:

038 pears


A new chicken tractor that friends drove all the way from Indiana to gift to us.

038 chicken coop(3)

A new goat on the farm (a friend’s Alpine/Toggenburg we get to borrow every now and then… someone please remind me why we chose miniatures, again?)

038 goat


First kills:

Shmooey got a squirrel right through the eye with a 22 rifle…

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And a week later, Little Brother got a teeny tiny chipmunk with a head shot, and Shmooey got two more squirrels!

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Bundle got her first kill, too, taking down a squirrel through the eye while it was running.  She skinned it (herself!) before we could get a picture.

My kids got SKILLZ.


First batches of soap:

038 soap2


Made by adorable soap makers:

038 soap1


Rocking out with Nana’s old Elvis gospel record on an awesome stereo system gifted to us by Aunt Elisa and Uncle Chris:

037 elvis


See other “quick takes” HERE

Posted in Bitty, Bunchkin, Bundle, Daybook, Doodle, Farm & Garden, PERSONAL, Pookey, Seven Quick Takes, Shmooey, The Eigh of 'em, Who-Be-Bee | Leave a comment

Learning to sail

035 sailboat

I was talking with a friend about an opportunity I’d had recently, when she made a statement that made me feel a bit like a child being corrected (not because her statement was corrective, but because I thought she was disagreeing with me about something important to me.  [In retrospect, this is interesting, in itself.  Why did I take disagreement in this instance to feel like chastisement?])  Anyway, I don’t believe that she was correcting me or seeing me as childish (or even actually disagreeing with me,) only that that’s how I felt about what she said.

And so, for the rest of the day I was upset and frustrated.  I had this scratching inside of me that I just couldn’t shake, or even identify and it took me an entire day to finally realize that the thing I was irritated with was myself.  I was irritated that although I’ve been striving to tell the truth, I’d nodded my head and allowed myself to agree with a statement I didn’t understand.  I was angry at myself for not asking for clarification from my friend.  That might have been an interesting conversation!  We might have gotten the chance to go deeper with each other, to find out more about each other’s beliefs, maybe even to disagree and have our viewpoints stretched a little bit and ultimately come away knowing each other a little better.  Maybe I could have learned something from her, and about her, but I lost the opportunity because I was too busy pretending to understand and agree.

I’m sorry to say that it happens far too often.  I feel like a life-sized bobble head who just wants to agree and understand and never, ever rock the boat.  But I’m coming to realize that deep friendships never thrive this way.  They can’t.  Because all that nodding and agreeing and fear of heave-ing and ho-ing only enables us to sail our ships in the calmest of weather.  It’s in the willingness to allow the boat to rock that we learn to navigate the deepest waters.


(I was given permission to publish this, by my wonderful friend who, as I already knew, had not meant her statement the way I’d heard it.  I really didn’t need her to tell me that, but I DID need to confess to her what a chicken I’d been.  So I did.  Over the phone and not in an email, if you can believe such bravery from me!  It felt a little awkward, but good, too.  In fact, I’m beginning to think awkward is often a precursor of good.  Thank you, Friend.)


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Posted in Anxiety, Fear, Friendship, Love, PERSONAL | 1 Comment

The cop on the beat

Recently, I wrote about my parent’s courtship and the role my grandfathers (the cop and the mafia man) played in it, and I’d like to start sharing other stories that have been passed down through my family over the years, for my children and my family’s children to look back on and their children’s-children to discover (Family: please provide me with more stories!)  Here is another one about my paternal grandfather (Abuelo), as told by my Aunt Lisa (who has an amazing story of her own that I’d like to share some day) …

There was a little old lady my Dad would run into every Saturday while he walked his Police beat in Ybor City. They shared a fondness for each other.

One Saturday Dad ran into her and noticed that she was not feeling well. After asking her a few questions and airing on the side of caution, he paid for a taxi to drive her to the nearest hospital. Sometime during her stay in the hospital she wrote this poem. She was so excited to be able to personally hand to my Dad the day he surprised her with a hospital visit.

For the rest of his life, my Abuelo would share this story and recite this poem to me every time I came to visit.  It was one of his most prized possessions:

034 cop on the beat

Here’s all of the best
to the cop on the beat
with his flashlight in hand
as he walks down the street.

With his friendly hello
always wearing a smile
but right on the job
all of the while.

He will help you in trouble
I know, oh so well
for he helped me once
when I had a weak spell.

And if I die tomorrow
where ever I go
my life was made better
by this cop that I know.

And the angles in heaven
will look down with delight
at this dear little cop
that we all know as Mike.


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The story of my parent’s courtship … a mafia man, a cop, and 25 cases of government eggs


Posted in Daybook, Family History, PERSONAL | Leave a comment

Praying in the mud

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Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
– John 9: 6,7


When many children are young, they believe in band-aid’s as the ultimate cure-all.  We parents take advantage of that belief, administering them often and liberally, soothing our crying, hurting children with the application of a sticky strip of gauze.  I think that we adults are often the same way – in fact, I know that we are (consider the “placebo effect.”)  I believe that Jesus applied mud to the blind man’s eyes not because He needed to, but because the blind man needed Him to.  I like to think that maybe Jesus knew that the blind man didn’t have the faith for a miracle, and whipped up some “special medicine” that the blind man could believe in.  I love that image of Jesus: willing to look deep inside of us, and see that teeny, tiny, microscopic glimmer of faith and say “I can work with this.  Where’s the mud?”

I believe that healing is a gift from God, and I also believe that we as believers are commissioned to heal the sick (Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:17-18, John 14:12, etc.)  I have known of many, many believers who have successful healing ministries whose ability to heal began with their willingness to pray over people who were sick, no matter the outcomes.  Todd Bentley, who led a healing revival out of Lakeland, Florida, once said “I purposed that if I prayed for a thousand and no one got healed, that I would pray for another thousand.”  And that’s exactly what he did.  He tells of a long period of time when no one he prayed over got healed.  But then… someone did.  And eventually, people from all over the world were being healed through Todd Bentley’s ministry. Bill Johnson, a pastor in Redding, California lost his own father to cancer, despite his prayers.  But, in his words, “he pushed against the rock, and the rock didn’t move, but he became stronger.”  Since the death of his father, his church has continued to pray over those with cancer and healings have multiplied.  There are now reports of healings taking place before cancer victims even walk through the church doors.  So a few years ago, I took these examples to heart and began to pray that God would teach me about healing.

Soon, all of my animals started getting sick.  Which makes perfect sense, if you look at it from the perspective of Bentley’s quote – God was giving me patients to practice on!  In fact, God was being incredibly gentle with me, my kids weren’t the ones getting sick, after all.  But the intensity of it frightened me, and I eventually stopped asking God to teach me about healing.

Until recently.  Not long after I started asking God to teach me about healing again, our alpaca almost died.  After I prayed over her and we both stood up I thought to myself: “okay, this is good.  Thank you, God, that you’re teaching me with animals again!”  But then yesterday, a good friend asked Jon and I for prayer.  It was the first time I’d ever felt commissioned to pray physical healing over someone.  Not that we’ve never prayed about illness, nor that we’ve never been asked to pray for someone before, but it was the first time that someone felt led – through no effort on our parts – to come to us for healing prayer.  Our friend has had tests run and those tests, along with other things, are showing markers for cancer.

And I couldn’t help but think to myself “really God?  Cancer?  We’re jumping from choking alpaca’s to cancer???”

I tried not to listen to all the voices in my head.  The voice expressing doubt.  The voices telling me I had to “do it right.”  Should we anoint with oil?  Should we pray in “Jesus Name?”  Should we command the cancer to leave?  Are there specific words we need to use, like some kind of Christian magic spell?  In the end, I mostly ended up thanking God.  Thanking Him that healing is taking place.  It’s taking place through nuns in the catholic church.  It’s taking place through protestant pastors.  It’s taking place through ordinary people who believe in God’s power to heal and it’s taking place in churches and restaurants and in the middle of grocery stores.

We will continue to pray for our friend.  And I will continue to pray for those around me, seeking out every opportunity I can to pray for healing.  I’ll stop trying to figure out the right way to do it and just do it.

I’m praying that our friend will let us know soon that his additional tests came up negative for cancer.  But if they don’t, we’ll be sending him information on places where healing is taking place, and we’ll pray over him again and again, as often as he’ll let us.  We’ll keep applying mud to his wounds, and hopefully he’ll keep seeking out those who are having success all over the world, and eventually we’ll get the job done.

“On earth, as it is in heaven.”

Posted in Healing, Miscellaneous, PERSONAL | Leave a comment

A dream of two churches

In my dream, I was waiting for the band to come through town.  Third Day was giving a concert and the roads were blocked.  I was a part of the organizational team, as a new member of the church who was hosting them.  Not a staff member or anyone important or even anyone that everyone knew, but a member.  And that was enough.  As I got ready to cross the street, I heard a voice – a member of my old church, the one I’d been attending for years.  He was talking to three other members, telling them how stupid I was, how deceived I was, how ridiculous I was to be attending this new church.  He was hateful and his friends, people I’d thought were my friends, were hateful.  And in my dream, there was a fleeting second when I wanted to hide.  For just a moment, I thought about how good it was that I’d found a new church and I would never have to see those people again.  But then…. but then… I knew that I would see them again.  I would keep attending that church and my new church and I would let all those people at my old church keep talking about me.  I would let them be angry and suspicious, I would let them judge and not understand and I would not try to make them understand.  I just wanted to go and hang out with them and love them, whether they loved me or not.  And in my minds eye, in my dream, I saw myself at the next church service.  I saw those four people cutting angry, suspicious, hateful glances my way, and I was so filled with love for them.  I knew I’d keep showing up for them, never seeking to change their opinion of me, just showing up to love them with my whole heart.

Then I was at my new church, and Third Day was playing and my friend Patrick, who introduced me to Jesus all those years ago, looked back at me and smiled.  And I smiled at him.  And then other people looked over their shoulders and smiled at me and I knew that I was loved.  But more importantly, I knew that I could give love.  To these sweet people who accepted me and loved me and were glad to have me with them, and also to the people who were so filled with hatred and judgement and anger toward me.  And that act of giving love… it was just… it was everything.


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Posted in Criticism, Daybook, Fear, Forgiveness, Love, PERSONAL | Leave a comment

naked and ashamed

Two weeks ago, I promised to be honest.  To be transparent.  To “invite you into my storm.”  Why do that, with a bunch of people on the internet I don’t know?  Because I believe there is a common thread that runs through us all.  I believe that MY story is YOUR story, and vice versa.  And I have come to understand that by sharing our stories, we become stronger while at the same time becoming more vulnerable (in every possible good sense of the word.  Maybe “softhearted” would be a better word to use.)  Also, a lot of the people who read this are not strangers.  And I suppose this is my cry for help (and when I say “cry for help” I mean that I’m going to say this and then I never, ever, ever want anyone to mention it again unless I bring it up, first)….

Many of you know that I was anorexic and bulimic in high school.  Maybe, clinically, you can only be one of the other, but I would participate in both.  I would go for long periods of time without eating anything at all, and then I would stuff myself full of food, eating as much as I possibly could, then throwing up and ingesting entire boxes of laxatives, afterward.  People who don’t have eating disorders don’t understand what it’s like to binge.  They don’t know that you can make yourself numb with food.  They don’t know what it’s like to eat so much, so quickly, that your stomach hurts so badly you have to go and lie down, only to get up a few minutes later to do it again.  They don’t know what it’s like to plan for this need to lie down, by making sure the kids are in bed and the husband is asleep before sitting down to the caloric equivalent of three days worth of food, eating as fast as possible, and then escaping under the covers. This is what binge eating is… or at least what it was for me.  What it still is for me.

Because for the past 20 years (with a brief respite or two of “dieting” [sometimes successfully] in between,) I have used food as a drug.  When I met Jesus, I promised myself that I would never make myself throw up or take another laxative again, but in the absence of purging and laxative use, I continued to binge.  I didn’t know it for what it was… a disorder.  An addiction.

I was recently reading a book by Anne Lammot where she talks about her battles with bulimia and suddenly it hit me: “Oh my God, I’m still bulimic.”  I don’t throw up anymore, and I don’t take laxatives, so I don’t know whether the clinical definition of “bulimic” still applies, but it doesn’t really matter.  The point is, I have a problem.  I use food in exactly the same way the alcoholic uses alcohol, or the drug addict uses drugs.  And maybe, once upon a time, the alcoholic only drank when she felt especially sad or vulnerable, but eventually she didn’t know how to live if she wasn’t perpetually drunk or high.  I don’t consider myself a sad person.  There isn’t anything “wrong” with my life that drives me to numb myself with food.  I just do it.  Mindlessly, senselessly, night after night after night.  I’m a drug addict, only my drug of choice is food.  And the worst thing about having food as an addiction is that abstinence is not possible.  Somehow, I have to learn a way to stop using food as a drug and not stop using food.

This is especially difficult for me to write, because “normal” people (is there such a thing?) might not be able to understand this addiction.  Even the use of the word “addiction” will cause some of you to roll your eyes.  Maybe “compulsion” would be a better word.  And there is a stigma attached to people who overeat – one that is worse than that attached to drug addicts or alcoholics because everyone understands that drugs and alcohol can be addictive.  Almost no one understands that food can be, too.  I feel like I’m standing naked in front of the world, with my tenderest insides exposed and asking the world: please, please be gentle.

For those who love me, who maybe think I’m slightly crazy to label food as an addictive substance, would you be willing to put aside your preconceived notions and just pray for me?  I don’t want to talk about it, but I need help.  I’ve never, ever admitted that before – not like this.  My hands are shaking as I type.  I feel like I’ll never be able to look anyone in the eye again.

I need help.




Posted in My Testimony, PERSONAL | 5 Comments