Baggage that I Put Down

I usually work into most posts that I’m a work in progress but think I need to start this one in that way.




I don’t always do this perfectly but I have certainly come a long way!  The more I practice what I’m about to “preach,” the better I feel.

Let me say that I love the forties.  Not the 1940’s era.  The being in the 40’s age group.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are a few things that I would like from my 20’s.  I wish my middle section was toned and would like to tighten up that five baby stretched out skin on my tummy.  Who am I kidding?  I would like to buy the entire line of Rodan and Fields to take ten years off of my crows feet and jowls.  A few less varicose and spider veins on the calves would be nice.

Ahh….I digress.  I was about to tell you why I love being the age that I am.

Even with the marks and stretches and lines in the wrongs places, I love this season of life.  With it comes a freedom.

There are some bags that I carried for so long and I have learned/ am learning to put them down.  With each one, my load is lighter and I have been given so much freedom!  I want to shout it at the 20 somethings so that they don’t carry it around for 20 more years unnecessarily.

Here are a few of the things that I have taken out of my bag and I feel so much lighter for it:

  1. The ability to let other people’s opinion drive me.  WOW!  That’s a big one to unpack.  My phases went like this:  I spent a lot of time worrying about what other people thought of me, came to the realization that people don’t even think about me as much as I thought they did, and then decided not to care.  If I start to feel that burden hopping back into my bag, I remind myself of who I am in Christ.   A little side note is that I have a handful of great friends who I trust to give honest, Christlike feedback and I listen closely to their counsel.
  2. The need for perfection.  This has permeated most areas of my life ( work in progress.)  I haven’t and won’t be a perfect friend, parent, spouse, daughter, aunt. teacher, housekeeper, decorator.  Any of it.  I can’t even say that I’ve done my best for all of my life.  But I do try to improve daily.  A few years ago I began saying it would be “just right.”  One of my friends had burned something that she was cooking and I said “Oh it will be just right.”  From then on, that became our phrase for it’ll be ok if it’s not perfect.  It has been used over and over and over.  Guess what?  It’s always worked out ok.  Because that small stuff really isn’t worth sweating over after all.   The next time you are stressing because it’s not working out just perfectly, try telling yourself it’s “just right.”
  3. The guilt of my past.  Man, that’s a big one.  I shoula’, coulda’, woulda’ but I did or didn’t.   This freedom has come from Christ and Christ alone.  I can look back at regrets from thirty years ago or even yesterday.  If I’m living intentionally (and I hope I am) then I am going to have to trust that God will work all things out for my good.  Satan is a deceiver and a liar.  When he brings up sins and failures that I’ve been forgiven for, I’m sending him right back where he came from.  I’m taking hold of those thoughts and living in the freedom that I now have.
  4. Fear and worry.  I’ve come so far. I come from a long line of worriers and that is a hard, hard cycle to break.  But I’m finally making progress.  Worrying about the present, the future (and #3 the past) takes SO much energy away from just living today.  Very little of what I could worry about could/can be changed.  So I pray.  I believe that God is for me.  I move on.

I’m sure my bag is lighter because of a million other things that I put out of my life.  Sometimes I have to put them out daily.  Sometimes it’s hourly.

However, I am so thankful that God has helped to settle my mind and allow me to unpack some things that have weighed me down.

Sometimes the struggle isn’t putting them down.  It’s leaving them there.

As always, I’m a work in progress.

 

Fast Forward

When I started blogging about the flood, my intentions were to give details and keep up to date with things as they happened.    That idea was just as ridiculous as thinking that we would be back in our home soon after the flood.  I’m going to highlight what happened over the course of the next six months after the flood because I feel that I must finish that chapter of my story.  I’m honestly still in awe at all of it when I look back.  The craziness, the level of fatigue, the goodness of people, the faithfulness of God….just all of it was a learning experience and it grew me in ways that I wouldn’t have preferred but have come to appreciate.




I’ll start here.  This is the beginning of this story.  The water absolutely consumed our neighborhood.

We read everything that we could about cleaning up a home after a flood.  We read advice such as “drill a hole in the lower part of the wall to let the water drain out.”  This was as helpful as using a straw to drain the ocean.  What we learned is that there was NOTHING online to help people like us figure out what to do.  Like most, we thought of a flooded home like a pipe that has burst.  We thought water.  We didn’t think raw sewage, slugs, mud and debris.

Thankfully, the water receded quickly and were were able to get into our home within four days and start ripping out carpets and flooded insulation.  I’d like to say that I helped in that but that wouldn’t be true.  I just walked around in a daze, with a mask on, trying to process what to do for the first few days.  I am absolutely amazed at how my husband was able to keep his wits and just work!  We had several people who stepped in with him and did that hard tiresome work of tearing out.

But, let’s move on.  We spent three weeks living with my older son. We worked all day and slept there at night. My dad and stepmom then brought and set up their travel trailer in our drive.  This was helpful to be able to be near the mess so that we could get more accomplished in a day.  This living arrangement lasted about 1 1/2 weeks because I soon found out that I wasn’t that great at RV living in the driveway.  I’ll post soon about how I almost singlehandedly destroyed it.  Sigh.

If it weren’t for our sense of humor, we might have lost our minds.  My husband and son painted our refrigerators to reference the television series The Walking Dead.  Lolo Jones stopped by and posed with them so the picture circulated quickly.  One lady actually wanted to have the authorities alerted to check it because she feared that we might be hiding bodies.  It did smell like dead bodies, but nothing to fear.

I was able to find a three bedroom apartment that was coming available.  We moved in five weeks after the flood.   This was such a breath of fresh air.  We got everyone set up and settled.

The girls were so happy to have a bed! 

Three days after moving in, the complex called to let us know there was a mistake and our apartment should not have been furnished.  They promptly came and took it all away (including the beds pictured above.)  We laughed.  We might have cried a little.  We went to Sam’s and bought bean bags.  There we would be until December 31st.  We had bean bags, a folding card table, some mattresses,  and each other.

In between the roller coaster that had become life, there was progress on the house.  Let me insert here that we are so thankful that we had insurance to cover most of our contents.  I know that there are many who did not and they have suffered far greater due to that.  Let me also insert with a lot of emphasis that I needed a lot of Jesus when trying to get our money from the insurance and mortgage companies.  It is in no way like filing a vehicle claim and getting your money.  Wow…..the stress of that was just too much some days.

Here are a few pictures in no particular order of the progress.    Things began to get rebuilt once the house was gutted.   It was a slow process due to widespread devastation and lack of enough materials in the area but it.was.happening.  Praise!

This post has gotten long and there is so much more to say about when our apartment lease was up and we had to move back “home.”   If you’re still reading, I want to encourage you.  If you’re going through a hard time, hang in there.  If your life is messy and stinky and possibly filled with debris (either actually or metaphorically) that needs to be removed,  you’ll get there.   One day at a time.  One foot in front of the other.  I mean that and I wish I could type harder or in bold print to let you know how much I believe it!

 

 

Keep on Going

I haven’t seen the new Finding Dory movie but I love the line from the first one that says to keep on swimming.  I use it often around here when we just need to keep doing some repetitive thing in order to get to the end.  Keep going!




My family spent this past week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We walked a lot!  My fit bit showed that on one particular day we had climbed the equivalent of 46 stories.  My body knew it too!  As shocking as it may be, I am not normally hiking trails and maneuvering kids over rocks or climbing to the tops of water slides. (over and over for “one more time”)

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On our last night there, we left the little girls with the grandparents and had our 17 year old with us.  He wanted to walk the strip and see the shops.  It was fun but by the time we got started it was 10:15 and we had already had a full day. We did not stay in a hotel on the “strip” but had to do quite a trek up a side street to get to our room.  Needless to say, we were dragging by the time we got to our street and started up our hill around midnight.

About half way up we all just laughed because it seemed that the hotel had been moved.  It was still easily in the high 80’s and we were all sweaty and tired from the day.  We made those last few steps easier by talking of how great a shower was going to be!

Eventually we made it to the top and looked back down toward the street.  I snapped this blurry picture.

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The thought came to me that this scenario was a lot like life.

You just keep going, one foot in front of the other, and eventually you get to the top.  You just have to keep it up to persevere.  A little at a time.

Many things in my life have felt like that hill.  A divorce.  Sickness.  Financial Hardships.  Anxiety. When I’m in the middle of them, I just can’t see the end in sight.  It seems that the “hotel has been moved” and I’m trudging along and not seeing clear progress.

But guess what, during every situation, I came out on the other side!  I reached the top and looked around!  And it was often beautiful!

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And all the people shout a big Amen!! 😉

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Here’s a stone tower my son made when we reached one point on our river and rock climbing day. The picture makes it look small but it was about 3 ft tall.  No matter where our life’s journey takes us, we do always leave a little piece of ourselves there.

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If you’re going through a tough time right now, you just keep going too.  You’ll reach the top soon! You might be a little sore but you’ll be thankful for the journey!

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Little by little, you’ll make your way!

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14