Why You Running Your Mouth??

Image

Awhile ago I had a miscommunication with someone close to me. It was a mis-everything actually. Misunderstanding, miscommunication, misheard, mis-mess-hurt feelings throw down. Good ole’ fashion she said he said. It was brutal. And I hadn’t had a situation like this in years.

This ego of mine, maybe even my pride, drew a line in the sand and rallied the troops. The troops being my stubbornness, sarcasm, sharp tongue and my husband. Step one-get him on my side.

This particular conflict was messing with me because the truth was, the truth is, I wasn’t in the wrong. Like, really. I tend to believe I live in a world that I am never wrong, and often if not always that world of mine implodes. I find that I am wrong, that I can be wrong, that being wrong won’t kill me and that people actually prefer when I admit I am wrong over reigning supreme as the queen of Never Wrongville. Because let’s be honest. Those people are the worst. Just the worst. So, I’ve been working on that.

BUT!!! For once, I really wasn’t in the wrong! I know this because my husband said so! And that man is so full of integrity that I want to punch him frequently because he puts me in my place all the time. This time, he said-“YOU ARE RIGHT. I DON’T KNOW WHERE THIS IS COMING FROM.”

The “this” he was referring to was the hurtful, untrue, obnoxious things that were said to me and about me. They stung. They worked themselves into what I believed about myself. The words found themselves on ears of close friends. Of people who loved me. Of people who knew me.

For a person like myself, a person that tells herself damning things anyway, a person who fights her mind every morning, a person who deep down knows her worth, but has to spend time aligning her mind and heart-words are the scales of life and death. They just are.

Knowing this about me, and knowing the things being said were stone cold lies, I called my mentor. My mentor is different from my therapist. Everyone needs both. To talk words with. Words that are killing you and words that are healing you.

My mentor listened. Listened without asking questions. This is important. He listened and let me finish. At the end, he gave me a scripture to think about. It went like this:

~But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscious, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.~ 1st Peter 3:15-16

So I pondered on the above for a little bit.

This is what I know, and what he was trying to tell me. It doesn’t matter what crap people have heard and are sifting through about you. WHAT MATTERS IS THE WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. And if you live a life loving and learning from Jesus, and/or a life of kindness and gentleness, then your life will do ALL THE TALKING NEEDED without uttering a word. Your life will put the slander to shame.

I honestly believe this is equally freeing and terrifying. Because this truth could swing either way. Regardless, WHO WE ARE will do all the talking, every time.

He told me to pray about it. He told me to forgive. He told me to shake it off. That was that.

Friends, if you are currently on the receiving end of some bull, if what is being said about you is unfair, untrue, unprovoked or hurtful, I am sorry. It sucks. I will say the same to you. Pray about it. Shake it off. Practice forgiveness. (God knows that is a skill-so practice needed) and live your life so the slander is put to shame.

Friends, if you are currently the one spewing the bull, then stop. Just stop. Even if you feel validated in the spewing. If you have to whisper to say it, don’t say it. If you have to check yourself before saying it, don’t say it. There is no power greater in the universe than harmful and healing words.  We get to choose which ones we use. Choose healing. Choose kindness. Choose life-giving.

There isn’t a truer statement than the picture below. What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally. Yes, and Amen. Preach. Get it. If you are talking trash-it is a reflection on YOU. No one else. Trash-talking is a symptom of something else. A cry to yourself that something is going on. Back to the therapist thing-get one. Dig in and do some hard work and find out why gossiping feeds you. I know-that I know-that outward expressions are reflections of inward happenings. Whatever is going on the inside will find its way out. Good, bad and ugly.

susie.

If you have read this far, I am sure this is old news. We all know this right? We know how damaging words can be. Both saying them and being pelted by them. And yet, we still engage. We still whisper. We still stretch the truth. Why? Well because we are messed up human beings. So messed up. It is much easier to focus on and spread someone else’s crap than our own. Looking at our stuff…yeah that is hard. Looking at it and dealing with it…even harder. Looking at it and admitting where we were wrong, hardest ever. It has to be done.

I’ve stated before that I write these blogs to myself. Lord have mercy I need to check myself. I am growing, I am learning. I can do better.

Strength to speak words that are good, kind and whole today. Strength to live our lives differently so nasty words are put to shame. Strength to notice our blind spots and weaknesses. Strength to shut our mouths. Strength to shake sheez off. I am with you.

***********************************************************************************************

How important is all of this to Jesus? Kinda important. As in very important. This is what the good book has to say about slander and language of it’s kind:

~Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit~ Psalm 34:13

~The power of the tongue is life and death-those who love to talk will eat what it produces~ Proverbs 18:21

The greatest commandment Jesus gives to his followers is to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Hard to love our neighbor when running our mouths. We can do better.

Much love.

*************************************************************************************************

Loving what you read? Join us on FB or follow on Insta @cmisener! You are welcome here always.

The Cussing Toddler

Image

One morning about a month ago Josh and I had a loud, engaging marital debate (fight, we had a fight) about who even knows. I can’t even remember. What I do remember is that in order to get my point across I yelled a word that rhymes with duck. And truck. And luck.

My actual sentence was “WHAT THE (duck, truck, luck..yeah you guessed it.) A-team cuss-word status. I figured in order to get my point across I needed to pull out the big guns. I was also fooled in thinking that our kids were preoccupied with their cereal and cartoons.

With lighting speed those words left my mouth, and our four year old silently registered that sentence in his language catalog. He also decided that those words would be his NEW FAVORITE THING TO SAY. AND SAY. AND SAY.

That night my mother-in-law was visiting and she and my son were sitting on the floor working a puzzle. The pieces weren’t fitting together, so in frustration he said clear as day “WHAT THE (f-word)”. There was a pause,  and as we were waiting to see if any adult would acknowledge his potty mouth, two thoughts went through my head. The first was actually another cuss word. The second, was surprise that he used the phrase correctly.

Liam beep

I smiled at my mother-in-law and raised my hand admitting my guilt. “Me” I said. “It was me. He learned it from me.” We both laughed and later that night Josh and I talked to him about why Mommy should have chosen a different word, and that those words were not words for a four year old, or even for mommies. So I figured, good. Done with that.

Nope. Not done with that. YA’LL WE ARE NOT DONE. This child of mine is on a ROGUE MISSION TO SELL ME OUT any chance he can get. (PS-kids are the worst at throwing us under the bus…punks.)

The following is a list of people who have been told by my four year old that the f-bomb is a bad word, as well as many versions of this word. Am I around when he is dropping this information? NO. As stated above, rogue.

Daddy, Grandma, his uncle, both brothers, two babysitters, his Sunday School teacher, Pre-school teacher, two neighborhood kids, family friends and a handful of monster trucks HAVE ALL BEEN TOLD  by my four year old that the BIG F is a bad word. And he says it plain as day. Why do I know this? Because in giggles and belly laughs they have told me.

And since he has shared this information with his little brother so many times, my three year old is now on board to spread the gospel message that this word is bad. Of course, in order to be a strong communicator one must practice their message often, so that is what my three-year old has been busy doing. Practicing using this new word.

WE ARE NOT DONE. FOR THE LOVE.

Josh and I have a plan, and we will see this through. If it doesn’t work-I may be back asking for parenting advice….but not yet.

This is what I want you to know :: SOMETIMES THINGS HAPPEN IN OUR LIVES THAT SHAKE THE PERCEPTION OUTLINES WE GIVE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE ABOUT US. 

On social media, in relationships, during dinner conversations, in small groups- if you aren’t someone who has been in my inner circle for years or knows me intimately, I am going to drive the information I give you to control what you believe about me.

We all do it. Our manipulation and selectivity of information is exercised many different ways, in order to protect who we want people to think we are. 

And this is who I want you to think I am; I want you to think I am a woman so in love with Jesus,  and her husband. A mother who has fought the good fight with depression and won it, a mother who loves her children and is raising them in a calm home that is free from strife and unrest. A woman placed by God to run a thriving and growing Women’s Ministry who leans not on her own strength, but God’s. I also want you to think I am funny. And pretty. And an amazing writer.

Some of what I want you to think is true. There are, however, large holes in the above story line. For starters, I like to cuss. I said the word like. Because I do. It has become a habit and common in the way I communicate. Many would argue cussing isn’t in the best interest of someone representing Jesus. There are many schools of thought about cuss words qualifying as sin (it would be cool if that conversation did not start here in the comments)-but for me I don’t actually agree with the word being sin, more than the truth that I can communicate my point in a way that may be less offensive-and give people a purer version of the Jesus I claim to be so in love with. ( I am going to stop here on this. The next blog post will open this up more and explain why I have come to this conclusion. Please wait before weighing in until next post)

Right now, this current habit of mine is roaming the street coming out in a blaze of glory through my four year old. And isn’t that just the thing-the stuff we try to hide and engage in secretly, or stuff down, or dismiss as not a big deal, or pawn off , all that stuff always finds away to surface and cling to us like a scarlet letter. All things come to light in the end.

So it’s out. My cussing F-bomb is out. My kids cuss. They heard it at home. If they cuss around you-they heard it at home. No need to wonder.

There is a story in the bible often quoted and used to explain Jesus’s character. There was a woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus to be sentenced. She was brought by the Pharisees who have been compared to the religious community of the time. As the crowd rallied for her to be stoned to death, as was punishment for this act according to old law, Jesus says the famously quoted “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” The woman’s accusers drop their stones and leave.

Jesus, standing alone with the woman, then asks her “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? to which she replied “No one, sir.”

Let’s sit here a minute. This is the good, rich, beautiful truth of life. YOU ARE YOUR ONLY ACCUSER. Your behavior, actions..all that may call attention to something you are doing. People may raise a brow. Ask questions. Judge unfairly. Cast stones. All of it.  But the holes in the reality you are giving people and the reality you are living will accuse you first. It starts with you. And the accuser’s stone you are holding will be the only one that matters. 

And if we know this about people, we can drop our stones and walk away. For those of us following Jesus, we really are all the woman trying “to go and sin no more.” For those who choose another way-we still drop our stones. The holes in our stories will accuse us as sure as we accuse others. So we have to communicate differently. Maybe without the F-bomb.

If you experience my son’s potty mouth, good for you. Because at the very least you will get a decent laugh in for the day. I hope you also know I am human, make mistakes, and am doing my best to let Jesus mold a truer perception for me to hand out. Maybe even one day I won’t hand stuff out anymore, you will just get what you get. I don’t even know if I will stop cussing. (joking-probably gonna stop because..kids.)

Strength for today friends. Love for all your cussing friends. Love for who you really are.

(Above story found in John 8:1-11)

*******************************************************************

Loving onelyric?! Good! I used to write about music-now I just write! But you are welcome here always…follow onelyric on FB or cmisener on Insta to keep up with the going ons!

When You Are In Love With Yourself

Image

So this picture. This picture I took with a Kodak disposable camera that I cranked after shooting. This is what I respectfully refer to as “the hotness.” My hotness was so on point that day that I had to get it on film. My selfie game was strong, even before the game even existed. (looking at the pic now I don’t know why I am so serious, but I digress. Also-shout out to the bathroom in the home I grew up in!)

nailedit

Somewhere around the age of 17 my unfortunate stent in the awkward stage finally started to let up. You know the one. Those school pictures don’t find frames very often. Over a course of a summer my body and my face finally figured out where they were going, and with new found attention from boys and a few pageant wins under my belt-I became obsessed with, well, ME.

Finding and perfecting the hotness became a quest. Had selfies been a thing during these years-I am convinced I would have broke the lens of my camera. My phone would have been so tired of looking at me it just would have given up.

I never grew tired of looking at myself though. If there was a mirror around, I was in it. If I went out, I was in the bathroom on the regular making sure I still looked good. It was my thing. And many people saw my self-respect, love, whatever as confidence. Nah. I wasn’t confident.

I was a bonafide vain-junkie. I was addicted to myself. And being beautiful.

While looking through pictures of the hotness I forgot how often I used my chest to get free drinks. You know-using the goods God gave me. For free drinks. No big deal. It was exhausting being that girl. But I didn’t know it then.

IMG_2824

There is trouble in being addicted to yourself, and to the game of being beautiful. Nasty, unnerving trouble.

Plus, all the work of achieving outer beauty is really work at fixing something on the inside.

Here is how things went down. The hotness ran it’s course for a solid 8-9 years, peaking somewhere after Josh and I got married. (How else would I have landed him?) And then, like a freight train, the last 10 years hit me. In it’s wake, I don’t look in mirrors quiet as often. And I sure don’t like taking pictures. Because beautiful just doesn’t have the same definition anymore. It’s not the face I look at in the mirror.

(For new readers-I had two children back to back and what carrying a child and exhaustion does to a body, both physically and mentally; there are just some things you can’t cover up with make-up. You feel me?)

~Now let me pause here before my amazing readers battle cry “but you are beautiful!” I had a very defined, very external view of beauty for a very long time. My beauty. I knew what I needed to do and look like to be beautiful. That, my friends, is what ran it’s course.~

This is what happens when someone addicted to the way they look looses their grip on the way they look. They feel like they are dying. Just like a junkie needing a fix. They draw into themselves, become envious and rooted in jealousy, and find that the insecurity that drove the obsession in the first place is the only thing left to look at. 

Me. This is what happened.

I started dismissing compliments (still do), believed that I was indeed ugly, just as I had always known and tried to fix, just as I was trying to tell the man I married. The man I married-who I no longer felt comfortable undressing in front of-who I pulled away from when he reached for me.

And my sweet blue-eyed boys. Those boys. When you are a vain-junkie you can find yourself resenting the things that steal your beauty. Those beautiful little boys.

All this nasty and unnerving trouble. It was also exhausting work.

In the fall off my pedestal of grandeur and defined beauty I learned something that was worth every moment of my coming undone. I learned that for so long, I knew nothing of beauty. Nothing. The girl in the pictures above had some amazing experiences. Travel, love, family gatherings, college, nights out with the best of friends. My memories of those times are blurry because I missed it. (and well, alcohol.) I missed the beauty in the things right in front of me. I couldn’t see it; I was the only thing in my line of sight. I missed it all.

Don’t miss it all.

Now, I know that beauty can’t reign externally. It should reign planted and abundantly growing internally. Inside us. Deep inside of us. Where we can only feel it, and then it makes us see our lives differently, outwardly. It helps us see beauty in other people. Beauty is impossible to see in other people when our eyes are fixed on our own.

This is an issue of the heart. And I follow a Jesus that tackles, and heals, issues of the heart. I was reminded of this yesterday in counseling. (go-you have to go.) Our good friend said “you know, I think the Pharisees were people who were always talking about ideas. They were idea people. Fixing ideas and problems. Jesus, Jesus was after the heart. He wanted the heart issues.”

Yeah. Over the past several years of letting go of my idea of beauty, I have seen the most beautiful of things. I have never before been so in awe of beauty. And Jesus works on this heart of mine, and these troubling feelings of despair and loss over the hotness, one patch at a time, telling me to look out of myself and to look again for what I am missing.

My husband is one of the most beautiful men I have ever looked at, largely because of his character. The stuff on the inside. I miss it all the time. Because you know, he threw his clothes at the top of the closet, again.

My children. Sweet Taco Tuesday they are beautiful. The stuff on their insides is so innocent and goofy and exciting and a little strong-willed. Some days, I just don’t see it. Because I am lost, somewhere inside of my head, trying to look out.

And as for me, well I am working on knowing I am beautiful on the outside. I believe it is important for women (everyone) to feel amazing in their skin, and beautiful. As long as their definition of beautiful is a healthy one.

I also know that the beauty rooting itself deep inside of me is the best I have to offer. I want, more than ever, to feel complete on the inside first. The girl showing up in pictures these days looks a little tired, is the biggest she has ever been, and doesn’t get ready as often as she used to. But she is on the way to being HEALTHY. Mentally healthy. Heart issues healthy. Love healthy. I appreciate that about her.

As for you-I wish I could say “you are beautiful just the way you are.” But I have never been a fan of that sentiment. Sometimes, just the way we are, is a mess. And we don’t feel beautiful. And we aren’t healthy. And we are stress eating three bags of Cheetos (shhh.) And no matter how many people tell us we are beautiful or blessed, well, we just don’t feel it.

So to you I say “There is beauty deep inside of you. Beautiful things that want to come out. Kindness, love, gentleness, compassion, a sound mind. They are in there. That is what you will feel. That is when you will feel beautiful. When it comes out. Then as you look outward, you will see it. Beautiful things. You will be one of the things.”

There is the most awe-inspiring beauty inside of you. I know it.

It is the Holiday Season friends, turn the camera outward, find the beauty inside. Then you will see everything you have been looking for.

Strength for today.

IMG_2623

~Court.

**********************************************************************************************

~But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.~ 1st Samuel 16:7

Like what you read? Awesome! Come hang with onelyric on Facebook or @cmisener on Instagram! You are welcome here always.</p

I Know You Can, But Will You?

Image

-But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering {doubting}, For he that doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind- James 1:6

I decided to pray yesterday. I pray every day, because that is what I have been taught to do. Considering I have been talking to myself for 34 years, the talking to God part has never been difficult for me.  Not the talking.

The believing that He is listening, well that is another story.

Yesterday, I laid my phone down on the kitchen table and recited my personal mantra to help the poking porcupine of emotions lower its quills. You’ve heard me call my emotions this before-because they do flare and poke-so I told myself “look for the small things.”

But my small things yesterday reminded me of why I was feeling so much. I had just laid my phone down, just decided that I could no longer read another word about the Syrian refugee crisis. Every word, every word about the safety of our country, the failing of our current President, states refusing to extend help, the right blaming the left, the left blaming the right, pictures of refugee children sleeping on the ground, leaders chastising the church for bigotry, the church scolding the church, christians divided, atheists taking cheap shots at the division, letters and videos in memory of the Paris victims, words written from people who are actually working in the refugee camps,

The manipulation of the story of Christ’s birth used as a comparison to the refugees being turned away.

Every word, all of it, sitting there in my stomach.

I decided to pray. I made an actual decision to try prayer instead of panic, and started the conversation in my head, like I have done a thousand times before.

I prayed for the safety of my family. That’s how it started, praying for myself and mine, like I have done a thousand times before.

Before I knew it I felt the emotions move from my stomach to falling out of my eyes as I prayed for the leaders of this country, our current President, the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces, for the prejudice in my heart, and the hate in my words-the words that I have only spoken to myself.

I prayed for the children sleeping in tents and on the road to safety, I prayed for the families that were destroyed and separated, both in Paris and Syria. I opened that prayer to every family, worldwide, that has been touched by terrorism.

The emotion made me pause as I began to pray for every mother or father boarding or placing a child on a boat in an act of love, making hard decisions, trusting the life of their child to both faith and chance; my pause provoked by both empathy and a stranger’s reality.

Then I prayed for every man, woman or child that has strapped a bomb to their chest or unloaded a round of ammunition into the chest of another as an act of allegiance to the God, or ideology, they served. I asked for forgiveness. For them, and for me.

The prayer moved to the homeless here in Cedar Rapids, the division between churches, the economy, all the way to my marriage.

I ended by thanking God for my small things; one of the small things was needing to be picked up from school.

I heard a wise woman say “You believe that He CAN do it, you just don’t believe He WILL.” She was referring to the way we pray, that we believe God can do all things, we just don’t believe he will in our lives.

Yeah, sometimes that’s me. But yesterday I prayed like I knew HE CAN and WILL.

And that peace that passes understanding that the Bible talks about-I felt it. I felt the quills lower and the peace settle in.

image

I know this is why God tells us to seek HIM first. First, before panic. First, before fear. First before soapbox opinions and heated conversations. First before social media and TV. First before doubt and unrest. First, before judgement. First, before hatred.

And considering that God is defined as LOVE-then seek LOVE first. First.

I don’t usually do this. But I am learning. I am learning that when I talk to Him first, the Holy Spirit tells me what my next move is. It is always a way better and more loving plan than my own.

If you are a praying person, I challenge you to pray tonight with a faith that can move a mountain, and stitch back together a war-torn world.

Pray because you know HE WILL-not that he can. God will see his work finished for good. If you don’t believe God will, then start there. Pray about that. At least open up the conversation.

If I have realized one thing from the Paris attacks, it is that the evil we are facing can only by triumphed by a Heavenly good. The thing is – Heaven wants to use us to be good- (Christ) ambassadors. What an amazing gig.

Pray for your small things. It will likely lead you to pray for big things. I am praying with you.

Strength for today-and tomorrow.

***************************************************************************************

Scripture that highlights the above::

-Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4: 6-7

-But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. (These things being the things we pray for. In the scripture before God is telling us to not be anxious for the things we need. He’s got it covered) Matthew 6:33-

-Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is LOVE! 1st John 4: 7-8

*wise woman*~Miss Aroea Knox

********************************************************************************************

Loving onelyric? Like onelyric on FB and cmisener on Instagram! I am so glad you stopped by! You are welcome always.

When Today Leaves You Sore

Image

It is 1:15 p.m. and I am still in my pajamas.

Josh hates these pajamas.

I knew today would be a mountain. I know as soon as I open my eyes.

The only place I find safe in the shadow of the mountain is in my bed. In pajamas. Asleep. At least when I am sleeping, I don’t have to feel everything that is waiting to be felt.

“It’s a demonic spirit” my Jesus following friends say. “It’s depression and anxiety” the books and experts and symptoms say. I don’t know what IT is. But whatever IT is- it hovers.

And I know as soon as I wake up if IT and I are going to dance that day. If it is going to hover.

So today we danced.

I started with my list of shoulds-you know-‘Courtney you should.’  The shoulds are a game of Tetris in my brain. Each one turning over and over, speeding up, chaotically dropping one on top of the other. I know if I can get one should-one thought-to fit together it will move, I will move, but during the dance the shoulds don’t line up.

Courtney-you should get up. You should move. You should go outside. You should eat. You should change clothes. You should open the blinds. You should check in with Josh. 

I always know what I should be doing. The IT turns the shoulds into enormous tasks. Mountains. So many mountains. I can’t breathe looking at the mountains.

Liam is asleep on the couch and Jude is playing quietly with monster trucks.  In the quiet the Tetris pieces stop falling and I have a moment of clarity.  Sweet Jesus, for a moment, I can think. I decide that one at a time, one simple task at a time, that I would breathe through this day and conquer mountains. It took until 3:30 to get the nerve. I had to pick up Beckett. He has asked before that I not show up in pajamas.

I locked this truth in my heart on the walk to his school in regular clothes :: that today is not the whole of all of my today-s.

IMG_2300

When I woke up,  I knew I was going to dance with my depression, with my IT. Believing that every day will be the same is what sent me into this spiral in the first place. My heart let go of HOPE. Hope and joy have returned though, since this journey has started, and I will not let go of it again. I can’t.

Because today can not be the whole of all of my today-s. 

I will teach my sweet boys this. They will know that some days will leave them breathless and sore-and so be it. What’s important is that they make it through the beating to try again tomorrow. One foot in front of the other. One sore step at a time. One conversation with God after another. We have to try for tomorrow.

There is courage and heart in trying again, and trying FOR tomorrow.

If you had a day today-I am sorry. Because they are exhausting. But God will let the sun rise again in the morning. And we get to try again. You get to try again.

Strength for the rest of today. Strength for tomorrow.

Today was not the whole of all of your today-s.

Plus, my people, and your people, are worth holding onto hope. They are worth taking a beating; so we can have a tomorrow.

IMG_2302

************************************************************************************

~Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34. The good book letting us know that some days will leave us sore.

The scripture before holds the hope promise though. ~But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.~ Matthew 6 :33. These “things” meaning everything we need. And I need HOPE.

The South Will Rise Again

Image

This post was originally posted on onelyric’s FB wall.  This is not a usual post for this blog-but I feel strongly about the words below.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~Mother Theresa~
  ************************************************************************

You are probably wondering why I posted these pictures. Especially on a random Tuesday.

This past week a picture of a drowned Syrian boy lying face down on a Turkish beach circulated my news feed. Directly under the picture, was a picture that a FB friend had posted about an upcoming confederate flag rally in Washington D.C. with a war cry I have heard many times before “The South will be heard! Our rights will not be taken away! We will rise again!”

south

I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee. The controversy about the Confederate Flag has loudly taken over my FB feed, since many, many of my online friends are “Southern.”

As I looked at the picture of the little boy laying lifeless on the beach, and then of the flag boldly declaring it’s rights, I realized the two images were telling the same story. It’s a dialogue of power. Of a dividing of humanity, of people, into sub-groups of value. That the very basic principle that all men are created equal has never and may never exist in this world.

I understand the historical beginning of the Confederate Flag. I really do. I know the history behind the Civil War, that the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy, declared their succession from the United States after the election of good ole’ Abraham Lincoln. And why? Because Abe, among other things, was against the expansion of slavery.

So began the Confederacy’s battle for independence and control.

And now, over a hundred years later, we are still battling for control. For the right to wave a flag that became the banner for an army fighting to suppress a black man/woman’s right to basic humanness and freedom.

A flag held by men who viewed these people as property. Property. And treated them as such.

With all due respect, to refute the claim that the Confederate Flag is not a representation of division and prejudice, is to hold on to the very thinking that perpetuates the great racial divide of this country.

And please don’t post another picture of the black Confederate soldier proudly raising the Confederate Flag as he marched to war as a free man to fight for the South. As if he had other options. He earned his freedom by fighting for the men who oppressed him. Manipulation at its finest.

Slavery was the sustenance of racism. It was the defining marker for the powerful and the powerless. The Confederate Army fought to preserve an institution that continues to shake this country. Even now.

And what if? What if the Union Army would have fallen? How long would slavery be an enterprise of the USA? Would this country be the one that parents were fleeing to the ocean for a chance at a better life and safer shores? Would the headlines read of our Civil War?

What if the first African-American male to step off the boat at Jamestown stepped off as a free man? What if from the very beginning he was treated with respect and equality? Would we be divided by events such as Ferguson or the North Carolina church shootings?

I think this is what we are missing when proudly flying and fighting for the Confederate Flag. We are forgetting to ask the hard questions that have escorted us to the place that rallying for the flag is even necessary.

We can’t separate the flag from the thread of history it represents.

We are still fighting for power.

If the South should rise again what exactly will be rising? Literacy scores? Healthier lifestyles? Will we see the decline of childhood obesity, poverty, crime, wellfare recipients or prison populations?

Or will it only rise by winning the right to fly a flag, carry a gun or define marriage?

We are picking the wrong fights. We are too busy pointing fingers, blaming each other, and trying to be heard.

We aren’t listening.

The flag that we hold so dear has a vastly different meaning to so many people. When they see the flag-they see the below images.

We aren’t listening.

We are trying to manipulate their opinion and control their responses with the need to define our heritage as anything but its horrific actualities.

We can’t re-define the truth.

The truth is the white man wasn’t the man in chains. He was the one holding the whip. Holding the bill of sale. Holding the power. Holding the flag.

And since our ancestors didn’t freely give equality, our black brothers and sisters have been fighting for it since. And we blame them for it.

The images of the civil war in Syria are hard to look at. Innocent lives that are bloodied and mangled, caught in the middle of a struggle for power.

The images representing a major theme of our own civil war should fuel in us the same reaction. Mangled and blooded bodies-caught in the middle of a struggle for power.

With that reaction we should fold our flags, place them in historical museums, dig down deep for a little empathy and finally free the black community from a history that we refuse to let them forget-though we demand that they do.

Meanwhile, allowing ourselves to remember, glorify and protect the role we played.

When does it change? When does the battle for control end?

I can honestly say that I am so very proud of my SOUTHERN RAISING-not history-because my parents were the ones who taught us that ALL MEN AND WOMEN are created equal in the eyes of God, and so should be treated that way.

Kindness, respect, family, hard work, prayer, laughter, FOOD; these are the banners of my Southern pride.

The South doesn’t need to rise again. It just needs to stop segregating itself as a place of superior birthright and historical honor. Birthright and honor can be freely given and freely earned. Anywhere.

(Unless of course we are talking about SEC football-segregate and dominate!)

It’s time to write a new story. It is time to re-define “white” Southern pride. If there is anything we should rally for -it is this.

blog

I Don’t Want To Go Home

Image

So…this was different for me.  My husband had some thoughts. So he put them down in writing. And it was so interesting, and kinda sad, but mostly nice to read this. This is his story-about my story. I cried reading it, which is no news there.  I love him.

**********************************************************************************************

“Help me help you.”

This is a phrase my wife is very familiar with. It is common language really, having frequently exited my mouth for the last 3.5 years.

My wife somehow fell over backwards into post partum depression and still struggles with the trigger-happy illness today. I’m not sure, however, if we can still call it postpartum considering our youngest is three.  But nonetheless she still fights some days-with something.

Before I realized it was an illness, I simply believed Courtney could choose to be happy, but instead was unexplainably choosing it’s counterpart, sadness. But I was wrong. It’s an epidemic that took her mind into submission and created choas.

I first saw depression take its form when Courtney was pregnant with our 3rd son Jude. She was still fighting the residual pregnancy hormones from just giving birth to our 2nd son and recovering from that pregnancy. Hormones and a rollercoaster of emotions took over her mind. She wanted to abort Jude. A phrase I would have never imagined hearing from the lips of a mother who was (is) madly in love with her children. Through a lot of listening and little talking, we hurdled the evil and she gave birth to Jude. God changed her heart. But her depression would then take a different form. Something in her drastically changed.

Court-at the beginning of all this. Pregnant with Jude here.

Court and I at the beginning of all this. Pregnant with Jude here.

Coming home from work was like walking into the eye of the storm. Especially when it was her eyes that read anger and resentment. Always anger. Seldom any talking. I used to ask myself WHY? After awhile, I stopped asking.

I understood that she was annoyed that I had the “luxury” of working all day while she was home with the kids, but often there would be no reason for her sudden, very sudden, change in emotions. The thing with my wife is that she is a mover and a shaker-but being home with the kids wasn’t her idea of moving and shaking.

I learned many things during this time. Her depression made simple tasks unbearable to handle, for example, springing things on her like, “Hey, let’s go to breakfast in 10 minutes” or “is it ok if so and so comes over?….in 20 minutes?” In these situations I could feel the anxiety and fear well up in Courtney. She would say “I just need time to think about it first.”

Another symptom she was trying to navigate was extreme insecurity. Her insecurity was debilitating, she always needed time to evaluate her outfit so it fit properly on a body that she swore was getting bigger by the day. Nothing ever fit right. She hated the way she looked in pictures. We only have a few of her with Liam and Jude when they were babies.

Courtney lost interest for certain hobbies, (sex), became a master “Jedi” pessimist and Oh,  the TV volume….that was an unexpected side-effect. She couldn’t be in the room with a loud TV and people trying to talk over it. I actually saw her fangs come out from this one. And tears, always tears.

And then there was the sleeping. All she wanted to do was sleep. I knew it was a way of escape. Some days I let her. Others I forced her to get up.

Many times I felt helpless and the times I felt like I could help, she didn’t want it. The few times my help was welcomed, I ruined it by telling her to “get ahold of yourself” or suggesting she just “pray about it” or “you’ll feel better if you get out of the house”  and even worse, I would make her feel guilty for the negative impact she was putting on the family by placing blame. Fail, fail fail and….fail.

Sometimes though, I still feel alone. But then again, I feel like I am one in a million husbands that get it. But don’t talk about it.

That’s another thing about depression. No one wants to talk about it. Especially not the people living it. Maybe everyone thinks it will just go away. I did.

I think the light bulb has finally turned on for me though. I didn’t read a manual or catch the Post Partum Depression episode on Dr. Phil (they should have a PPD for dummies book out there…) but I think my experience in this might have kicked in.

I won’t bow to the depression that sneaks up on her, but I can make adjustments that will help see her through this trench, for as long as it takes for her to get to the other side.

I’m realizing that I need to try and make decisions with her instead of springing plans on her.I understand that I need to help around the house more, listen, just sit with her (iPhone, Mac, Netflix disengage) pray, listen, put her concerns in front of mine…(ouch), listen, pursue sitters and maintain date nights, pray, listen. Lots of listening.

family court

Guys, if you are in this with me, let your wives (or woman) know that It’s ok to be an incredible mother and wife, but also feel extreme sadness . It really is ok!

Oh! and..it’s almost impossible for me to bring Courtney “up.” What happens is that she just ends up going down. I can’t cure her depression. I do know that in those severe moments of anxiety, all I have to do is hug her. Boom. Reset. Then we can attempt to move forward again. Telling her to snap out of it has never worked. I don’t think it ever will.

She read this to me the other day- “They (women suffering from depression) don’t need someone to tell them to get a grip. They need someone to walk them through the valley so they don’t stay there.” -Micah Maddox

Gentlemen, we’ve got to walk through the valley with our wives. Yup, Not enticing or easy, but come on,

Every night we’re the ones allowed to fall asleep next to them. Bargain.

One of the kids in my youth group is a Rubik’s Cube wizard. I love watching him turn the cube over and over until he solves it. Her depression reminds me of a Rubik’s Cube. We keep turning the cube, hopeful that one day the colors will align.  And then, I guess, we will just move on to the next cube we need to work on.

For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Cube after cube. Valley after valley. Holding her hand.

********************************************************************************

As a follower of Jesus I did a lot of praying, yet sometimes I felt my requests were in vain and let’s be honest, some days I didn’t feel like praying anymore.  If you’re suffering from depression or living with someone who is and don’t know what to pray, maybe this scripture can help. This is more like a mantra-than a prayer. But saying it helps.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(P.S.- this is a peek at an almost three year journey.  Courtney is doing so much better.)

*07/10/2017 Edit*

Hi friends! Although this post is two years old, it is getting a ton of response and traction! I wanted to mention a few things. First, I am doing so much better! Second, and most importantly, I started THERAPY and GOT ON MEDICATION. THERE IS NOOO SHAME SWEET FRIEND. Also, I have found diet, exercise (I know, gag) and scheduled days out of the house have helped tremendously. They really have, although on a sad day going outside is the LAST thing you want to do.

It is a scary, scary thing when your mind takes over in a way that feels like imprisonment. Hang in there. One breath at a time, one task at a time, one day at at time. You aren’t crazy. Let go of that lie. Try again. With you.

This Is Coming

Image

~Like timidity, bravery is also contagious~

tiredYou see this girl? I see her. She is so tired. DOG TIRED. I don’t know the last time she showered. Standing there holding her precious baby boy. Her baby boy that had moved across the country twice-never quiet developing a consistent sleep pattern.

You can’t see her belly. It is swollen with life again-her baby boy is resting on another baby boy growing inside of her, two weeks from being born. She is so tired. Her body has been poked and pushed and monitored weekly to assure that life would be birthed, one last time, from her. She is working so hard to keep everyone alive, born and unborn, and yet she is stitched together by the panic and fear that she is slipping into the cracks of herself. That soon-she will disappear. Her stitching is unraveling.

Man I see her. I want to grab her and hug her although I know she will smile and say “everything is fine.” I want to sit her down and look her in the eye and say “girl-you gotta dig down and find your nerve, cause something nasty is coming.” I would use the word nerve because defined it means firmness or courage under demanding or trying circumstances. 

And demanding and trying circumstances were coming.

I want to talk to her. So much I would say ::

Hey-I know you are scared. You have never been so scared in your life. I know how often you cry and that your brain can’t string together a coherent thought.I know you are terrified of the darkness in your heart. I know you want to drink this away. I know you are living the biggest lie of your life. I know you are telling everyone you are fine. I know you are pushing people away. You’ve told that lie so often that it has become your truth. 

Because you keep waiting for God to be enough. 

And guess what sister-He isn’t right now. He isn’t going to be enough. Because you need professional help. He is there in the help. You will realize this a little late. 

You aren’t going to sleep for a few years. You aren’t going to take care of yourself. You aren’t going to ask for help, or answer questions honestly when people get too close.

You are going to fall into a black hole that is so consuming and sticky and raw that there will be days that exhaling for a breath will be a chore because the anxiety in your lungs will be suffocating you. 

You will feel everything. All of your feelings will move inside of you like a porcupine-the quills flaring and poking you at the first sign of unrest. Your emotions will commandeer your stomach, your mind and your marriage. 

You will stare blankly at your husband and tell him what you have repeated to yourself-

“I am dying. Everything that was good and alive in me is gone. There is nothing left.”-

This is what’s coming. You are going to need your nerve. 

****************************************************************************

It doesn’t end this way though.

One day you will find COURAGE.

One day, out of nowhere, you will feel BRAVE.

The fear will still linger-but you will find your nerve and step right into it. Because being brave is just that-stepping in and through the fear.

You will have the hardest conversations you’ve ever had with God, and He will listen. And then,  He will show up. He will tell you to get out of bed, to ask for help, to open up, to take time to be with Him. He will not apologize for the mental Hell you are in. He will push you to seek Him, then He will send help. Through people. The people you shut out. He will make you brave.

YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. YOU HAVE TO PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER and FIND STRENGTH FOR THE DAY. This is why ::

You WILL WAKE UP and inhale without the pressure of your life stopping you. The cloud is going to break, you will feel joy and hope again, you will love your children fiercely and you will sleep. They dark places in your heart will be reconciled and you will begin to look forward to your future.

Your mind will release you back to normalcy and your thoughts will not be so terrifying. You will let people see inside of you, and it will be OK. They won’t run away. 

You will still love your husband. 

And one day you will see a picture of yourself that will bring you to tears.

BECAUSE WE MADE IT. WE DID NOT DIE. YOU WILL NOT DIE. 

Not because of this anyway.

Oh-and I love you. So much. And am so very proud of the woman you (we) are becoming. YOU MAKE ME BRAVE, BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO.

 We will make it through this. This is our story. 

 **********************************************************************

Hi friends! When I saw the above picture of myself yesterday it provoked a very emotional reaction. I thought about what I would say to her-putting together a list of things that would help avoid the depressive nightmare I found myself in. But then I thought that was counter-productive to save myself from a story I was writing with God. Maybe my experience can help you though-

Looking back on the past three years, I have learned a few hard lessons for people who find themselves in the clutches of depression. FIRST-I should have told the truth. The end. Please, please, if you are hurting deeply, ask for help. Tell the truth when someone asks how you are doing. SECOND-and equally as important-follow through with getting help. After I finally went to see my doctor and started meeting regularly with my therapist-things drastically changed. THIRD-get up. Just stand up. Go to the bathroom. Do one thing-just one thing-at a time. All of the one things will add up to a full day of not laying in the bed. This is really-really hard to do some days. FOUR-EAT. If you are having a good day-eat healthy. On bad days-eat something. Eating is important. Healthy eating will be a game changer. LAST- Go outside. Go anywhere. Exercise. Move.

The biggest one here though-TELL THE TRUTH.

-so much love to you in the trenches-

******************************************************************

I know many of you are fighting through your own mess. Whatever it is that is requiring you to be brave-I hope this song helps. Though the blog has evolved the heart of it was to share amazing worship music with powerful lyrics.

There is a lyric that says “you call me out beyond the shore into the waves.” I have felt like this over and over since having Liam and Jude, but if Jesus is calling me out into something nasty-at least I know he will be there with me.

And His love-in wave after wave-crashed over me and saw me through. He is amazing.

I hope you love this song.

~You Make Me Brave-Bethel Music Live~

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

Read more: Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Loving onelyric? Come hang out with me on FB! You are welcome here always!

About Done.

Image

‘I’m about done.’

‘I’m sorry. Can you get time away? Time to refocus?’

‘Yeah, it’s more than that though. This (beep) is way too hard for me right now.’

‘I have zero help.’

The abruptness of the text message made me pause. About done. Someone that I love so much, buckling under the pressure of day to day with a household of small, very small people. A dear friend, loosing the hope in her marriage. Another mom feeling marooned on an island. No help.

I understood the words she had sent on a level that was acutely familiar.

I wanted to send encouragement, to find words that would giver her hope or wisdom or whatever it is that we need when we find ourselves about done.

All I had was ‘I understand.’

Because I understood that about done was a hard, difficult place.

***********************************************************************************************

Hey Friends,

I haven’t written anything in six weeks. Largely because my life started to teeter along the about done line, so I stepped back and called a time-out. Many, many moving factors contributed to the overload of life, all of those needing to be separated, looked at and re-prioritized.

The only way I have found to preserve my sanity during the day-to-day grind is to find humor in the chaos. Occasionally that humor and chaos is the subject of my facebook statuses or blog posts, these statuses and posts suggesting that raising three small children can be difficult. Very difficult.

I have found that people who love me, who care for me, gently remind me to be thankful for these crazy days with my beautiful boys. To be thankful for my life.

They gently remind me that this time is fleeting.

I get it.

What I don’t understand though is our need to remind people we love or know to be thankful when they are brave enough to admit they are getting the wind knocked out of them by life. 

How does admitting something is hard suggest  that someone is unappreciative of their life? Can they (we) not feel both, thankful and tested?

I have tried to change my perspective with thankfulness. Tried starting each morning with praise for my children.

It didn’t work. They were still tough.

Being thankful didn’t take the tough out of my life.

Jude Crying

This is the thing-there is no room in my heart to love my children more than I do. It is a maxed out, full, fierce, protective, emotional, enduring love that will never be questioned or replaced. I am also overflowing with thankfulness for their health, their life, their personalities, THEIR EXISTENCE.  My nightly conversation with Jesus always starts with a thankful heart for my family. Man I love them.

But that thankfulness has not replaced the reality that raising them is HARD. Some days it physically hurts. Having two toddlers (three boys) has infiltrated my mind, my checkbook, my marriage, my body, my belongings-everything. It has changed everything. Some days they move me to the about done camp.

And yet, I still go to bed thankful for them.

This is what I have learned :: It is completely possible to feel IT ALL. To feel overwhelming joy and love alongside frustration and mayhem. To love someone and still want to kill them. In motherhood I have felt things I didn’t know existed; frustration and hopelessness in dark levels, happiness and thankfulness that overflows.

It has all been there.

And unlike the moments that I am constantly reminded are fleeting, all of the feelings I have are not. They always return – day in and day out- each day experiencing my life differently.

The past four years have been very difficult. And I am very thankful.

*************************************************************************

This is what is left-this is how we love people who are standing on soapboxes declaring their life is difficult ::

WE LISTEN. We respond with I UNDERSTAND. If we don’t understand we dig down and look for empathy inside of us and say I DON’T UNDERSTAND BUT I AM HERE. We hold our declarations of their need for thankfulness until we understand their difficult. They know what to be thankful for. Some days the difficult is stronger, when we help with the difficult thankfulness peeps through brighter.

When your friend is declaring the tough of life help her pull the tough apart.

When your friend is mourning a deep loss, mourn with her. When she is thankful for the time spent with her loved one, be thankful with her.

When your friend is struggling as a parent pour out empathy. When he/she rejoices and delights in their children, rejoice with them.

When your friend is struggling at work, listen first.

When your friend is in the middle of an identity crisis, sift through it with her. Listen first and then help, help her find the way back to herself.

When your friend is giving up on marriage-validate how hard marriage is. Listen closely to the ache in his/her words because marriage is tough. After listening-then help. Help in a way that your friend needs.

Before interuppting someone’s difficult with a list of ‘should be thankful for’-interupt it with kindness and understanding and lead them back to the things they already know they are thankful for. It’s dark in the difficult. Be the light.

Time and time again, the people who have listened and helped me with my tough have lead me back to the road of thankfulness. Lead me back to myself. Lead me back to my family. Lead me back to Jesus. Without suggesting a single thing.

And as I said before, I am thankful. And I am learning.

*****************************************************************

There is a scripture in James that I have a love-hate relationship with that leans in on the idea of thankfulness and joy being present in difficult times.

~Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that 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 perfect and complete, needing nothing.~ James 1:2-4

This has always been a nudging reminder that life is gonna be hard. This is actually promised a few times in the good book. In the difficult it is possible to also feel joy, and thankfulness. Cause we are letting our endurance grow, right?

So here’s to our endurance friends, may it grow and grow, and in the end,

may we be in need of nothing. AMEN.

******************************************************************

Loving onelyric?? Come hang out with me on FB or follow @cmisener on Instagram for pictures and videos of my family finding joy and growing in endurance!!! Thanks for hanging out here-you are always welcome!

Hooking up with #tellhisstory over at http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com!

Come on over and read other stories of how amazing Jesus is!