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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Flashback Wednesdays: You've Come Along Way, Baby - Part III

This is the third installment of my homeless series that I wrote several years for the holiday season. It's not the holidays - YET. But you know it will be here soon. ABC Family has their 31 Days of Holloween and then Hallmark will begin their Christmas movies on November 1st. It's coming guys and it seems like it gets earlier every year.

So, without further ado - Part III.

Okay, by now, you're probably thinking - what were you thinking? Why didn't you get help? Why didn't you ask your family for help?

First, if you've ever received help from the community, know this: getting help around the holidays is really hard. That's why I encourage anyone who gives, to give especially well during the holidays - your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Second, and it's only now that I can vocalize this - I was really messed up as a young adult. I was never one for drugs or heavy alcohol use (alcohol doesn't agree me...and I don't care for it much, either). I wasn't a troublemaker by the regular definition. I just wasn't completely 'there' mentally.

My Little Bro and I were raised by my mother. Like most children who live in single-parent homes, we became very close to our mother. But no matter how close you get to a parent, that one parent cannot possibly take the place of two. So, as a result, I always felt as if there were a father figure missing from my family equation. (Well, of course, there was - my mom was a single parent. But I really didn't have ANY positive male role model while growing up).

So, somewhere along the line, I got this strange idea that when I got older, I wanted a guy to take care of me. It probably stemmed from the fact that I saw my mom struggle so much by herself. What I failed to realize, however, is that life is a struggle no matter if you're alone or with someone for life. In many ways, life IS struggle. Still, in my 20 yr old mind, I decided that the Man Beast should take care of me and our son; no matter that Man Beast was just a child himself at 18.

Anyway, back to my story.

The Man Beast and I were beat emotionally. We were both physically exhausted and it pretty much goes without saying that our spiritual life was dead. There is nothing scarier than feeling like you're all alone in the world - even if you're surrounded by people. The Man Beast's boss at the Pawn Shop was a pretty good guy. He knew our plight. The Pawn Shop had a regular customer - he was a preacher. Somehow, some way - the week after Christmas, we were out of hotel housing and living in a double-wide trailer split in half (I'll give you a second to process that. A double trailer. Split in half. A family living on each side. Small? Yes. But better than a hotel).

I later found out that The Man Beast's boss had given him a Christmas bonus even though he hadn't worked at the Pawn Shop for very long. The preacher had loaned The Man Beast money. We paid him back with TMB's next paycheck.

I'd like to tell you that at this point in the story, things magically got better and everything turned out happily ever after.

No. But this is where my story, for all intense and purposes ends.

And why do I air 'my dirty laundry' as I've heard it referred to on other blogs? Not for you to feel pity for me. Certainly not.

But what I do want you to feel is the knowledge that there are people out there - at this very moment, in your very community - who are struggling like I did with my family nine years ago.

Just because someone is in a homeless shelter does not mean that they are alcoholics, strung out on drugs or 'lazy bums'. Many times, these are people who are just down on their luck. And for someone reason, when it rains, it pours. Many would call this The Rule of Three or Karma, but since I'm a Christian, I don't believe in any of it.

What I do believe is that it's so much easier to kick us when we're down. It's easier to lose hope when we're already down, too. This is why it's so important to reach out to people when they are hopeless and give them hope.

Especially in our trying economic times.

Did you know that homeless shelters are filling up with MIDDLE CLASS; men and women who have college educations, have lost their jobs and are now too qualified to get even the simplest of jobs? It's true.

So during this holiday season  I encourage all of my readers to put money in that red bucket. (And yes, I consider Halloween the beginning of the Holiday Season. Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye and it will be 2019 before just. like. that.) Do not avert your eyes at the bell ringer, pretend you're digging in your purse for something, or go out another door to avoid them. The Salvation Army's donations go to good use. When you walk by an Angel Tree, pluck an angel off and shop for that child.

I know times are tough. Even little things help. Next time you go to your local Dollar Tree to buy stocking stuffers for your kids, buy an extra toy or two and plop it in the donation box by the door. Literally, every little bit helps. Sounds trite, but it's so true.

One last thing - as you gather around your tree, opening gifts or around your dining room table, feasting on your bountiful (or not so bountiful) harvest, take a moment to send out a prayer to all of those who might be going through some things this year. I know two of my readers offhand whose Christmases might not be as merry as years past. But they surrounded by family and friends who love them.

And let's not forget the true meaning of the season. It's not about the gifts or the food. It's not about the cookies or even the decorations. It's about the birth of our Savior. What better way to honor our Savior than to put Him first and act more Christ-like?
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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Flashback Wednesday: You've Come a Long Way, Baby Part II

(To read Part I of this story, click here)

The second part of my story is a bit hazy. I'll share what I remember. It will be fragmented, to be sure, but there are just some things you just cannot forget no matter how hard you might try.

Do you know what it feels like to drive in a car and not have a destination? It's not like joy-riding when you're a teenager and you're cruising, using your freedom and your wheels as a chance to escape school and home. Because you see as a footloose and fancy-free teenager, after you're done joy-riding, you have a home to go home to. When you have no home, you have no real destination and no real place to go home to.

This is how it felt for us after we left Denny's. I had some money (although not a lot) that I had brought down to FL with me. When The Man Beast left a month, previous, I had applied for a job at the local CVS down the street. I worked developing film and although I was a 'single mom', juggling work and a baby, I did enjoy the work. It was a chance to forget it all and just be Iva for a couple of hours a day. A chance to forget that my husband was 12 hours away. A chance to forget that while we lived in the Salvation Army apartments, we were, in fact, homeless, even though we had a physical address where we could receive mail.

That first night, we stayed in a motel. We got The Boy some diapers and some sandwich fixings (nothing perishable, the hotel didn't have a fridge).

The money didn't last long. One day, we found ourselves driving aimlessly, burning up gas needlessly. With no money for a hotel and no room in the car to sleep, we went to the only place we could think of: a homeless shelter.

The shelter would only take The Boy and me on one side. The other side was for men. The Man Beast dropped us off at the shelter while he went to look for a job. The job at Disney was a bust. The Man Beast was able to get a job at a local pawn shop but to ensure that we had money nightly, he got a job at Steak n Shake. But more on that later.

The Boy and I only stayed in the homeless shelter one night. But one night was enough. It absolutely killed The Man Beast to know that he couldn't provide for his family and we were stuck in a homeless shelter - hence the two jobs.

The Boy and I got a room to ourselves. There were two sets of bunk beds and a crib. The room was very small. I slept on the bottom bunk and the boy was in the crib. Most of the details are very fuzzy for me. But I do remember that I had a really bad sinus infection. I've never had a sinus infection this bad and of course, I had to wait until it went away on its own because we didn't have insurance or the money to go to the doctor and buy medicine.

I didn't talk to anyone that first night. I remember sitting around the TV, letting The Boy play with some of the other kids and the toys.

The rules were a bit strict. But I suppose they would have to be. I remember getting up in the morning after a very long night. Even though we had a room with a closed door, I had never stayed in a homeless shelter before and I was very scared. (Looking back, I knew I didn't have to be. The people who worked there were nice for the most part. There was one lady who was kind of mean, but again, I think she had to be. The people who were staying there were mostly moms with kids. I people watched and listened to conversations. They seemed to be just like me - just people down on their luck).

The next morning, after changing The Boy, I went out to the cafeteria. What I forgot to bring, however, were all of my belongings. After getting fussed out, returning to the room and getting our things, I went back out to the cafeteria for breakfast. Luckily, it was only the sleeping dorms that were separated. I saw the Man Beast in the cafeteria for breakfast. We had to leave the shelter by 8 o'clock that morning. We were allowed to return, but we'd have to come no earlier than 5 - and there was no guarantee that there would be a bed. They went fast.

We never returned.

I don't remember exactly why but the job at Disney didn't work out. After Disney, he juggled the two jobs. He would go into work at Steak n Shake for third shift, come back to the hotel to sleep a couple of hours and then go work at the Pawn Shop.

To say that life like this was hard is a huge understatement. I did not work at this time - couldn't afford to - so The Boy and I were stuck in a hotel all day long. When Daddy would come home to sleep, I'd have to keep the Boy quiet - no small feat for an active two-year-old.

Looking back, I don't see how we did it. We fought a lot. Tensions were high. It was around that time that I started withdrawing from people other than my son and my husband. I would hold on to this hermit-style attitude for many years. Truthfully, it wasn't until I started taking care of bills and grocery shopping (something I had not done during the early years of my marriage) that I started getting a voice.

We lived hand-to-mouth for three weeks down in FL. Most nights, The Man Beast only made enough in tips each night to pay for the hotel (it was around $50 a night - this was Orlando, after all). Whatever extra money we did have went to feed The Boy. Because it was close-by (and gas was an expense that we had to conserve so that The Man Beast could get to work), we went to Wendy's and Burger King. I remember praying that my boy would get full before he finished his dinner so that I could eat. More times than not, I went without. I'm not sure if The Man Beast ate at work (Steak n Shake) or not. I don't think he did because he was usually very hungry.

I remember vividly two very low points during this time (as if begging that your son wouldn't finish his food so that you could wasn't enough). Save a Lot was right down the street from the hotel. It was there that I bought the Boy's diapers. I remember one instance paying for a pack of diapers (I don't even remember how much they were) and crying when I got back to the hotel because someone had stolen two diapers out of the pack. Instead of taking the package off the shelves, the wise people at Save a Lot, trying to make a buck no doubt, decided to tape up the diapers and sell them at regular price. Being hungry and sleep deprived, I wasn't paying attention and grabbed the first package of diapers I came to.

I remember going to the store (I think it was Food Lion) and buying diaper inserts (do they still make those?), to make diapers more absorbent. I am absolutely ashamed to say that I would save the wet diapers and reuse them with the new inserts. It wasn't until the second round of pee or a dirty diaper, that I would throw it away. Just seeing it in print like that makes me feel that I have ultimately failed as a mother. What mother does this?!

A desperate one.

My last memory of this time in our lives was on Christmas. The Man Beast didn't work. We went to eat somewhere - I don't remember where. I think it was a hole-in-the-wall place. In the lobby was a crane machine. The Man Beast is a pro at the Crane Machine. In the 22 years, I've known him, I've never seen him walk up to one and come away empty handed.

This time was no exception. The Man Beast took a quarter out of his pocket and set his sights on an orange dog. He got the orange dog. The Boy loved it.

That year, that Crane Dog was the only gift my boy received for Christmas.

This was probably the lowest I'd ever felt. I was away from family. I was alone in a town where I didn't know anyone. There was no Christmas tree. There was no holiday dinner. There was nothing.

Luckily, most stories have a happy ending, including this one.

to be continued...

Until next time
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Flash Back Wednesday: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

In an effort to get back to writing regularly (whether or not you read this - but I'm happy if you do!), I figured I would re-publish a few older posts that seemed to really engage my readers.

I will start with a series I wrote several years ago about how far The Man Beast and I had come as a couple and a family.

Without further ado:

One Christmas, we were homeless.

It was eighteen years ago. The Boy had just turned two. My world as I knew it had just fallen apart. My folks had divorced after six years. My mom moved away and there wasn't much going for us in VA. The Man Beast and I had been together for two years and while we were deeply in love, we were still babies trying to live in a grown-up world.

It all started out innocently enough. A shut-off notice here. A burned engine there. Eviction notices bounced us from apartment to apartment. Eventually, we lived in extended stay hotels. We learned that the Salvation Army had a program for families. They provided a furnished apartment for down-on-their-luck families. The Man Beast was working at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (now Busch Gardens Europe). He was informed that he could transfer down to FL and get a job at Busch Gardens Africa (formerly The Dark Continent). We figured things were a total bust in VA, so it was worth a shot.

So, while The Boy and I were living in the Salvation Army sponsored housing, The Man Beast went down to FL to get established. The plan was he would work and get us a place to live and we'd head down there in a month.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans, right? They went south - quickly.
The Man Beast got down to FL only to find that the paperwork had failed to go through, so he was down there without a job and without a place to live.

One night, The Man Beast had decided to stay at a cheap motel. He woke up the next day to find the car broken into. All of our belongings (except for The Boy's and my clothes, which were still with us up in VA) were gone. Forever. After what little money Man Beast had run out, he lived out of the car.
He hopped from rest stop to rest stop until the cops finally told him to stop. He still did it; he just stayed out of the cops' radar.

The Man Beast eventually did get a job at Disney. He saved a bit of money to buy The Boy and I plane tickets. In the process, he became desperately sick.

Because he needed to work to make money, he muddled through working. He stopped eating because he was so sick and because he didn't have enough cash on him on a daily basis. Eventually, he saved enough money to buy two plane tickets for The Boy and myself.

A month later, The Boy and I flew down. We couldn't stay any longer in the Salvation Army sponsored apartment because I had already given notice that we were leaving. Besides, with it being the holiday season, there was a waiting list for our apartment.

I remember the afternoon we got off the plane well. We flew into Orlando on a little plane that was very crowded. I had The Boy's car seat because he was still so young. There were six other passengers on the plane. I remember trying to carry the baby, my purse, a diaper bag, and a car seat. I also remember bumping into a business lady on the plane as I was trying to exit and her giving me a dirty look.

I just wanted to cry.

It had been a month since I saw The Man Beast - the longest we'd ever been apart since we had been married. I missed him terribly and I couldn't wait to see him. When I finally did see him, I hardly recognized him. He had lost so much weight and looked very, very bad. He asked if I had any money on me and when I told him yes he said, "Let's go eat."

We had Denny's that day. It was wonderful to have the family back together again. But the feeling was short lived.

The question remained - where would our family live? The Man Beast was still living out of the car.  We obviously could not all sleep in the car (although now that everything was stolen, there was a bit more room in our two-door Dodge Shadow).

The answer was very, very bleak.

To be continued...

Until next time,

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You've Come Along Way, Baby was originally published December 2008.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

If you give advice, you better be able to take it


God has an amazing sense of humor.

How do I know this? Well, I'm created in His image and I have an amazing sense of humor. (Okay, a goofy one at best). But you can't look around at all He has made and not see humor in the every day.

Today, as I was sitting in the doctor's office lobby waiting to be called for an appointment The Man Beast made for me, I had to chuckle at the irony.

Sunday, I was waxing poetic about how important it was to rest and take time for yourself and here I was, stuck in a doctor's office instead of in the classroom where I belong.

And why was I at the doctor's office you might ask? Even if you didn't ask, I'm going to tell you anyway (I'm in a bit of a salty mood today - can you tell?)

I was in the doctor's office because I. Don't. Take. Care. Of. Myself.

Oh, how ironic that sentence is!

To exactly explain why I was at the doctor's office on a Tuesday morning, I perhaps have to go back a  month.

We were at an away high school football game. It was the first half-time show Baby Girl would be performing in as a member of color guard and The Man Beast and I were very excited to watch her perform.

Right after the show, The Man Beast couldn't take the hard stadium seats any longer and had to go rest in the van. This was fine. I saved a seat for Baby Girl as she grabbed her dinner and sat by me and hungrily wolfed down her meal while we watched the third quarter of the game.

She had to go back to join her pack, so I sat watching the game, hunched over, because my back hurt, too.

All of the sudden, I had a huge sharp pain in my gut that wouldn't quit! I tried to sit up straight and it still hurt. I tried to stand and I couldn't stand up all the way! I decided to make my way to the van with TMB and had one heck of a time walking around the stadium to where our van was parked.

(TMB had pulled the van to the back so he could pick up BG at the high school band trailer.)

Y'all, I was in so much pain, I was hunched over in tears. We got home (2 hour drive) and as soon as I got into the house, I put on my PJ's and crawled into bed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch, wiped out.

Fast forward to this past weekend and while I didn't travel out of town, I experienced the same pain. I spent the weekend in pain but suffered. After all, if it went away the first time, it would go away again, right?

No.

I was in so much pain last night that I logged in to request a sub. I was working from home this morning before the doctor's office visit and it was then that I found the humor in my situation.

No, not that I was in pain (that kind of pain is no laughing matter!) But just the fact that I was taking a day off work to go a doctor that I probably should have seen a month ago. Me being me, I didn't. While I did initiate the visit by requesting a sub, it wasn't until TMB physically made my appointment that I went. Last time I needed to go to the doctor and wouldn't go, I had shingles. And yes, TMB made that appointment as well.

Are you seeing a trend? (Hint: If it weren't for The Man Beast, I probably wouldn't take care of myself.

And ya know what? I gotta change that. My advice yesterday was sound. It was good. And if was good yesterday and good for you, it's good for me, too.

So today, I said, "Yes!" to myself. After I came home from my doctor's appointment, I contemplated going into work. However, the sub was already there and my sick day was already used up, so I decided to work from home on paperwork. Yes, technically, I wasn't staying home and resting, but I was staying on my couch where I was comfortable. And I did have to go in this afternoon for a meeting, but I chose to leave (with permission) and not stay for a back to school night for parents.

And because I said, "Yes":  I was able to take my medicine so that it could begin healing me. I was able to spend time with The Man Beast for awhile. And bonus! I got to visit with my wonderful mother-in-law (yes, really!)

As I wind down this blog post, it is nearing 9 o'clock. I will publish this and share it and then I will shut down the laptop. I will go and wash my face (a step I often forget - or choose not to do), crawl into bed and read before turning out the light and falling asleep before 10 o'clock.

Tonight, I will say, "Yes" to myself so that I can set myself up for a better tomorrow.

Until next time,
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Monday, September 17, 2018

What are Mondays to you?

I frequent Facebook (a lot more than I should) and I'm often entertained by the fodder I find. (I totally just Googled "fodder" because I wanted to make sure I was using the word correctly). Don't get me wrong...there is tons of great material on Facebook: good news, pictures, proposals, new babies, recipes, praises, and yes - even prayer requests.

But you have to admit: Facebook can be a huge timesuck and very little value comes from it. This subject is a different post entirely, so I'll stick with the subject at hand: Mondays.

What is a better depiction for Mondays for you:



Sunday night, you are guaranteed to see more images like the first graphic. When Sunday starts feeling like Monday. Monday Eve. In short, miserable.

But on occasion, I will see graphics like the second one. I like seeing those.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like Mondays (and I don't love them, either). Mondays for me mean getting up early after sleeping in late(er) on the weekends. It means dressing in work clothes instead of lounging in PJs on a Sunday. It means facing any number of challenges that I have no way to prepare.

But...

I like the idea of turning Monday on its ear and thinking about it in a different way. Monday is a chance at a new week. Many diets start on Monday. Many do-overs start on Monday, too. It's a chance to tackle that next project or set some new goals. And how many paper planner people (say that three times super fast!) love when the first day of the month begins on a Monday?

Mondays have their merit. Perhaps Monday gets a super bad rap? Friday is definitely the favorite child of the week. Monday is "meh".

I challenge you - I'm challenging me - to think about Mondays differently from now on. Think of one thing positive about Monday. Hey, to get you started - how many more Mondays until Christmas Eve? Or Fall Break?

Hey...I'm all about starting with the little things.

Until next time,
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Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Day of Rest

Once again, it's been a good, long while since I've posted. I'm going to say I'm going to try to get better, but as the wise Yoda says: "Do or do not. There is no try." So, I guess if the Great Master Jedi is to be believed, I'll just do it; or I won't. Let's hope for the former, shall we?

School has been in session for 6 weeks (7 for teachers). The start of this year has been...interesting. I had hoped that in Year 6, things would get to be routine and things would just naturally "flow". What I've discovered, however, is that in education - nothing is routine and nothing has a natural flow to it (unless you count the unexpected as the natural - perhaps this is only true for special education educators?)

Baby Girl (I really must think of a different moniker for her since she turned 17 last month) has begun her senior year of school and has already experienced many, many firsts (and lasts). After two years of prodding, she has tried out for and made the cut for auxiliaries. She is in color guard and really enjoys it. Parents and other supporters have yet to see the full show, but it promises to be quite spectacular.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on my personal Facebook page that Baby Girl's boyfriend asked her to the Homecoming Dance! She accepted, so we're gearing up for that big day (this Saturday!) She and I went out last weekend, looking for a dress. In less than four hours and just three stores, we found it. Furthermore, it was on sale, I had a mystery coupon for 50% off and I had a $10 rewards. When we left the store, we paid a grand total of $8.08 for a $90 dress!

After we left the department store, we headed over to the shoe store and got some red suede heels for $15. I can't show pictures yet because The Boyfriend hasn't seen her dressed up yet. It's got to be a surprise to get the full impact.

I was gone to a conference up in Decatur all this week. I was able to connect with a lot of fellow Georgia educators and I learned a lot. Unfortunately, Hurricane Florence cut our trip short since so many participants were flying in from out of state. Luckily, Florence made a last minute turn and my area of Georgia wasn't impacted. Unfortunately, areas of North Carolina were heavily impacted with flooding and even a few casualties.

Sundays are usually lazy days for me. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday were lazy days for me. But I'm not going to apologize for resting.

I posted this in response to the above graphic I posted on my personal Facebook page:
Speaking to my educator colleagues, especially: we are very much Type A perfectionists. We love our kids and want to do what is best for them. Maybe as women, we are all like this - nurterers to a fault. Or perhaps we feell less than worthy so we have something to prove? But the oxygen mask theory is correct: you have to put your own on before you help others (kids, students, husband's, coworkers, friends...)
Why is this such a hard concept for us to not only believe but adopt?

Luke: I don't believe it.
Yoda: This is why you fail.
(Don't ask me why I'm on such a Star Wars geek kick! It fits my message, alright?!?!😆)

Do men have this issue? My husband, who happens to be a perfectionist, doesn't seem to have this problem. He rests when he needs to rest. My animals don't have a problem. If they are tired, they sleep. Of course, I'm not comparing us (or my husband) to animals, but nature in general. All of God's creation rests when they need to rest. They listen to their bodies and they just do it. (Uh oh, Nike reference...)

My SIL, who has gone through several surgeries and rapid weight loss posted pictures on Facebook today about her scars and loose skin. All of her friends were naturally supportive of her body and all commended her on how far she'd come. (And the fact that she was alive when she shouldn't even be here is a big deal!) But I had to chime in. I don't always chime in on her posts, but I read them. This issue was deep in my heart this morning - partly because I posted the above graphic and partly because I just got finished reviewing a pre-ordered copy of a book by CA Maljavac.

Celebrating who we are. Celebrating how far we've come. Resting when we need to rest. These are all ideas that have been on my mind and I shared them with my SIL. I told her that her scars weren't as bad as she thought they were and they shared a story of what she'd gone through and how far she'd come. They were to be celebrated. Her body as a whole should be celebrated. I told her that I was speaking to myself as much as I was speaking to her.

And now I'm speaking to you. Please take this Sunday to reflect and rest. Reflect on where you are and how far you've come. I don't know what you've been through but I know you've been through something. Everybody goes through something and it's that something that makes us stronger. Recognize that. If you're a Christ follower and you're reading this, God has brought you through it. Whether you're a Christ follower, a Christ shadow-er or you don't know Christ at all, He is always with you. Always. Have you ever wondered how in the world you survived (emotionally or physically) some of the stuff you've been through? It's Him.

Yes, I totally use current pop culture to get my point across - don't you?


Rest. Were you in the path of the storm? If you were and you have flooding, I pray that you're able to get semblance back to your "normal" soon. I pray no one was hurt and whatever was lost can be rebuilt.

If you weren't in the path of the storm, rest today. Who knows what the week will bring. And for any of my educator friends or moms or women out there (and maybe a few men): if you're tired, please take time for yourself. Even if you aren't tired, rest anyway. Rejuvenate.  I don't know a lot but I know that no one is going to look after you and tell you to rest. No human form. Oh, wait. I just did.

What I mean is that no one is following you around to give you advice. "You look tired. You should rest." "Did you sleep well last night?" "Make sure you get to bed on time tonight so you can get enough sleep for tomorrow." "You're a little snappy at [fill in the blank]. Maybe you should [fill in the blank]."

No one is going to do that for you. So you need to do that for you. Your body will thank you. And the world will not cease spinning if you take some time for yourself. In fact, I can almost guarantee if you make self-care a practice, you will find yourself being better. A better educator. A better mom. A better woman. A better wife. A better friend. A better human.

Rest does a body good. So go do it!
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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcome Back or Welcome *To* This Side of Perfect



Whew! It has been a *long* time since I've pecked out a few words on the old blog. In fact, it's been a whole year (plus a few days).

I want to welcome those newcomers who have begun to follow me on Instagram. For those small readers who have been waiting to hear from me, welcome back!

Where have I been? Sadly, right here. Paralyzed by fear. Fear of what, you ask? Fear of you.

Yes, you. Why should I fear you? Well, the short answer is, I shouldn't. But the longer answer is I've been inside my head for quite some time and you've been there with me.

What if you don't like what I have to say?
What if you don't like me?
What if you think my ideas are stupid?
What if you don't agree with me?

After taking a long hiatus from the blog and delving into a Bible study (several, actually) that have caused me to pause and really think about the questions above, I've come to the following conclusions:

You probably won't like everything I have to say. I'm recommitting my purpose for this blog. If you look toward the top, you will see the following:
Several (several!) years ago, this verse came to my heart when I began thinking about writing a blog. (Back then, my blog went through several names: Woman Within. Horizontal Yo-Yo.) My mission for the blog never changed: I wanted to showcase Christ's strength through my weakness. This is where I came up with the name This Side of Perfect.

I recognize that we will never be perfect this side of heaven. But the good news is we don't have to be!

I once read a review about my blog from a reader who questioned the validity of my mission. Briefly paraphrased she said: why would I want to be reminded of my weakness? Why would I want to celebrate weakness?

Valid points. Why would you want to be reminded?

My blog is geared toward women who (I'm assuming) are trying to keep one million and one plates spinning and failing miserably. (Or maybe she's rocking it - but she's failing in other areas.)

The truth is, as women we can do it all; we just can't do it all at once. No matter what we're doing at any given point, we are not doing it in another. If we're giving it our all at work, we might not be giving it our all to our families. If we're giving it our all to our families, chances are good, we're not giving 110% at work. And at the very least, we aren't taking care of us; refilling our spiritual buckets.

Which leads me to my next point...

There's a good chance, you might not like me. Oh, I don't mean personally. But you might not like what I stand for. That previous section might have ruffled your feathers or bruised your toes a bit.

But that's okay. If I say something that offends you, I'm giving you something to think about. To analyze. And maybe you'll come to realize that what I say has a bit of truth to it.

Of course, if you decide to completely discount what I write, that's okay, too. Because I might not be writing this for you right now.

I might be writing this for you. Or you. Or you. Yes, you. I see you over there.

For the longest time, I was the woman trying to spin all the plates. Only I wasn't succeeding. I was failing miserably. And what's more, I felt bad that I was failing. And that feeling bad was making me feel less than.

Less than a woman. Less than a mom. Less than a friend. Less than a Child of God.

If this is you, I want to encourage you. You are doing awesome! I can almost guarantee that you are your worst critic. Your people - your circle - think you're pretty amazing.

So, at the end of the day after I've spent some time with The Father, I've come to realize that this isn't about me. It's about Him. And I hope that through my words, He speaks to those of you who need to hear His voice.

And for everybody else, I hope I can encourage you that you aren't alone in your struggles. You are amazing. There is only one you - celebrate that! No one can do what you do in the relationships you have. Nurture those. Give them your 110%.

Until next time,
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