That Offends Me…

I have always heard that “the size of a man can be determined by the size of the things that make him angry.” I have taken that to heart in my life and try to let the world roll off my back, staying carefree and lighthearted. I also try not to associate with people who are full of anger, negativity, or drama.

But this week, I had a little of that thrown into my lap, and I had to choose how I was going to deal with it.

I am a Christ-follower, although I find myself highly allergic to organized religion. He (Jesus Christ) was a shining example of how we should treat people when we find that they live their lives differently than we do, and/or they don’t perceive the world in the same manner. I am trying to live up to the standard he set in that regard. Because, truly, it doesn’t matter if anyone is happy with my choices but me. And if I feel I am living my life to the very best of my ability, that I am doing everything I can to be the person I want and am striving to become, then I am okay.

And right now, I don’t feel like that person.

I lost my cool this week. And the worst part is, I didn’t lose it with the right people. I hurt feelings because I couldn’t get out of my own.

John Bevere said that “Offense cuts you off from God. We separate ourselves from the pipeline. I’ve never seen anything block blessings from heaven except offense.”

I believe we make our own heaven and hell on this earth based on how we feel about the choices we make. And I have chosen hell most recently.

My heart hurts. I am so incredibly tired. Things affect me more lately, especially with my health in such a precarious position.

I am, and always have been, the “peacemaker” in my world. I hate conflict, I hate confrontation, and I really, really, dislike being in the middle of things.

I have learned, however, there is a time and a place that make confrontation necessary. When a friend is doing something that could hurt themselves or another person, I will confront them. When someone does something with the potential to hurt my children, I become the ferocious mother lion of confrontation (and generally my Irish Redhead takes over, which is no good).

But once the confrontation is over, I am usually able to let go and think nothing of it again. Not today.

All of last night and today, I have mulled it over in my mind, pondering how I could have changed things, where things went wrong, and what I could do to fix it. I have asked the questions like, “Why do people get offended? Why don’t they try to see things from another person’s perspective? Why can a question, a sigh, a word, a movement of the hand, be so easily misconstrued? What brings such discord and chaos to people who are so kindhearted and loving as a norm?”

In my mind the “offenses” committed by all parties are so miniscule. And while I believe people’s feelings are very valid, I am also a firm believer in the saying that “feelings aren’t facts.” So, I am refusing to validate my own feelings, and rather, taking some time to look at facts. And the fact is, I love you all. If you are a person in my world, my love is bigger than any discord or dissention. If you are or aren’t friends with my other people, that’s okay. If you perceive life differently than me, let me know. Maybe I will learn something from you. But I refuse to be caught in the middle.

And since we are all Christ-followers, I thought I would jot down a few scriptures that help me when I am caught up in my own human mess of offense and bitterness. It’s so hard to come out of that place sometimes, like today, I have found myself getting upset repeatedly by what is happening.

So, I am using these scriptures to remind myself that religion doesn’t dictate, that judging does no good, and that everyone has their own journey, their own path they must follow… After all, everyone has the same goal in life, everyone wants to become a better version of themselves.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all offenses.

Proverbs 10:12

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11

In this hope, I strive always to maintain a clear conscience (wording actually means “free of offense”) before both God and man.

Acts 24:16

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V, v, v, what?

Valve, ventricle, mitral valve, leaky valve, regurgitation, lining of the lungs, enlarged, stiff, blood thinners, echocardiogram, ekg, stress test, drainage, beta blockers, fluid retention, edema, surgery, endoscopic, congestive heart failure, bla, bla, bla.

The doctors are starting to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. It’s all running together.

I just want answers and I want to feel better.

I need to make sure my kids have their mama and I need to make sure I am healthy enough to give them a good life. But if not, I need to make sure they are taken care of.

Will, pour-over will, trust, life insurance, college, beneficiaries, more bla, bla, bla.

This isn’t my normal, positive post. I am tired. So very tired. I’m in bed by 8:30 and still have a hard time getting up in the morning. I am so frustrated. I am overwhelmed.

And I think that’s okay.

It’s okay to feel what I feel.

It’s okay to share how I feel.

I am not doing this alone, and that’s new for me. I have people in my world who are willing to help, people who are there to listen. It’s nice, and it’s scary.

Being vulnerable is hard.

I hope it’s worth it.

 

 

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Enough… I always thought I was the only one.

I love this girl’s writing. Feels like she’s in my head so often.

 

I am enough. That was one of the hardest things that I had to tell myself. As someone who is extremely self-confident, I seemed to lose it when I got married. He became bigger than me. Not because he wanted too or even asked me to. It was me. My choice. I thought that’s what […]

via Remembering I’m Enough — A Thomas Point of View

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Holiday for one? Tips for traveling solo.

I loved this article. Several people have asked me about my recent adventures. This details a few of the things I do to enjoy my travel time.

art of being fabulous

Cool handsome guy Tuscany, Italy

I’m equally comfortable traveling solo or with others. What I like best about traveling alone is that I can follow my own path. I’ve done it for awhile now, so I’m pretty comfortable squatting almost anywhere. If you’re thinking about taking a trip alone and never tried before, there are some basic things you can do, regardless of your gender.

Before booking your trip, the main thing you should ask yourself is if you’re comfortable doing things on your own at home. If the answer is no, then you may not enjoy traveling solo. If you’re not sure, then you might want to try booking a trip alone but on a cruise or as part of a tour group for your first time. This way you can go alone, but you will have people that you can reach out to quickly if you find that you’re uncomfortable.

Here…

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Someday, Today.

I deactivated Facebook today.

Incredible thought, isn’t it? A life without social media.

I am sure it won’t last forever.

But on this “day of love”, I am beginning to realize a few things.

I realized that someday there won’t be any more tiny fingerprint smudges on my bathroom mirror. My tootsies will be safe from Legos and I won’t trip over toys in the hallway. Or in the shower. Mornings won’t be filled with repeating myself as I try to rush them out the door. My life, my house, everything, will be in perfect order.

Someday.

And you know, when that day comes, I am going to miss this one. I am going to miss my kids. I am going to miss this phase in my life. When they were little.

I will look at that clear bathroom mirror and tears will fall as I recall the little girl who LOVED playing “makeup” every morning. I will look at the empty tub and think back to all the times she emptied the conditioner because she wanted to “do it by myself”. I will look at my couch and think about my boy, lounging without a care in the world instead of getting ready for the day. I will reminisce about all the times he wanted to tell me about something in one of his fantasy books that he stopped reading so long ago.

And when I recall those things, an ache will rise up in my heart. An ache for a day exactly like today. A messy, crazy, rushed, loving day.

Someday, my little girl will stop coming to my room at 3am because she is scared and wants her mommy. Someday, my son won’t ask for a few more minutes to snuggle before bed. He won’t be trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with me anymore. Someday I will get 8 hours of glorious, uninterrupted sleep.

But, I won’t want it then. I’ll somehow want this.

I will want the nights when my little girl woke me because she needed my warmth to comfort her, when my son set his alarm for 5am because he wanted to spend time together and knew that was when I would be awake. I will miss them asking to climb into my bed in the morning so we can snuggle and discuss our dreams instead of getting ready in a timely fashion.

Someday, life won’t be so busy. Someday I will have all the time I want. Time to read. Time to write. Time to paint. Time to do anything I want. Too much time.

Someday, I will cook dinner in peace. No little feet tripping me, stepping right where I step, right before I do. No little hands wanting to stir, and pour and do anything and everything I am doing. No “mom, can you help with…” as I am trying to do the dishes. Someday, I will wash dishes and hate the quiet. I will wish it wasn’t so easy, so clean.

Someday, all I will have are memories.

And I’m going to miss it.

So, today, I am going to go home and embrace my littlest loves. I am going to be grateful for the fingerprints, and the toe-killing Legos, and the toys strewn down the hallway and throughout every room in the house. And I am going to look into those beautiful blue eyes and say “I love you”. I am going to look at his dirty, ripped jeans that he loves so much and realize that this moment is special. And instead of getting on to him about tearing through them again, I will enjoy the fact that he loves to be active. I am going to look at my favorite lipstick smeared all over her precious little face and remember that she is doing her best to emulate me. I am going to watch them as they read, as the light glows around them, as they grow… and I am going to appreciate today. I am going to appreciate these times that will never happen again.

Yes, Today feels long. It feels like I deserve the distraction of social media. It feels like just a blip, a split second, not too much.

But Someday, Today will seem so short, and I can never get those moments back.

Today feels like it will last forever.

But someday comes sooner than we ever think.

So, instead of Someday, I am choosing Today. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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The Monster Under My Bed

9733393605_cdaf9036c5_b.jpgFear.

That dreadful feeling. The racing heart, shaking hands, heat creeping up my neck, eyes wide, brimming with tears. Adrenaline rushing to my rescue, as my body goes into fight or flight mode. Feeling like a little girl, being dragged once more by the scary monster. This is the overly emotional response that I can’t let them see. No, I can’t let anyone see this vulnerable, weak side of me.

That was how my night started. Two sentences from my beautiful little man’s mouth. That’s all it took. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Taken back to the ghosts of my past. Feelings incomprehensible.

The phone call, “your children were in an accident”.  Again, that rush of feelings. The intense emotions as I wondered if the two people I love most in my world would be ripped from me. The ghosts returned. The death of your child never really leaves you.

The doctor’s report saying, “congestive heart failure”. The emotions that come along with being a single parent and knowing you absolutely cannot leave your children behind. The fear of the unknown, potential surgery, and knowing that you will have to change your lifestyle drastically. Ghosts and visions returned to me.

But I refuse to remain with the ghosts. I refuse to let the shadows dancing in the corners determine the direction of my life. I refuse to live my life on anyone else’s terms.

Oh, I know him well, this monster named Fear. This faceless shadow that lurks so huge and frightening.

He has wrapped himself around me on many occasions, falsely claiming to be the answer to what I was experiencing in that moment. He has slept in my bed, taken road trips with me, slithered into my relationships, seduced me slowly and tormented me for many years. He led me to believe I was alone with him in this ruthless furnace of the world. His tentacles have wrapped around my mind, eliminating all else on more than one occasion.

Fear convinced me I had no talent. Fear made me believe I could never be good enough. Fear screamed that I could never accomplish the things I desired so deeply. Fear constantly returns, like a scorned lover, to remind me of my mishaps and mistakes. Fear has attempted to hide the people in my life behind shadows of potential rejection, ridicule and criticism. He enjoys telling me how I don’t have what it takes, I am not disciplined enough, I am incapable. He takes every opportunity to steal away with my dreams, my hopes, my relationships, and yes, he has even attempted to take my very life.

He is big, he is intimidating, and I have known him my entire life. Over time, he began to look like an authority in my life. He has whispered in my ear on more than one occasion that he is the only safe place I have to turn to. He waits nearby if I don’t embrace him in the moment. Lurking, always there, reminding me that there are so many good reasons to be afraid in this world.

Death, lack, loneliness, people, authority, commitment, heights, germs, closed-in spaces, airplanes, dogs, cats, failure, rejection, being laughed at, even fear of being attractive are common. Then we look at the world around us and see mean people, terrorists, crooked cops, mob mentality, political pandemonium, medical diagnoses, all sorts of things large and small… and he rules supreme in all of them.

But lately I have been choosing differently. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic recently, and it revamped my idea of fear. But fear is not something we must cower to, or cater to. There is a misconception in the world that being brave is the same as being fearless, but that is a lie. Living your fullest life does not mean being fearless. Being fearless can get you in trouble. Fear is a necessary and vital part of life in order to remain alive and well. The only people who are without fear are inexperienced three-year-olds and sociopaths without feeling.

And, while you may aspire to take your life advice from such a person, I most certainly do not.

But, I do know that there is no need to bow to him, trembling with the force of his lies. Fear is a toothless lion, a helpful guide and at times a necessary friend if we do not allow him to grow bigger than the space he is meant to reside in. Just like the Occamy in J.K. Rowlings Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, he grows and shrinks to fit the space we allow for him. (I know, nerd knowledge)

So I am choosing to give him a small space in my life. A space where he warns of hot stoves and busy streets, where he shows me the dangers that truly exist. But I am choosing to cut him off from my dreams. I am choosing to squeeze him out of my family life and relationships. I am choosing to allow him to be a cricket small voice, rather than a huge, frightening monster.

I am finding that a full life is a gift only given to the brave. I must choose, every time he tries to escape his tiny realm of necessity, every time he grasps with his twisted tentacles, every time he makes me think he is big enough to wrap me up, I must choose to be brave in the face of the monster. I must choose to find an alternative way to get him into the small space where he belongs. It may take corroboration with others, it may be hours of prayer, it may be solitude and serenity in the woods. But somehow, there is always a way if we look hard enough.

Yes, this life requires bravery. That is true. But it does not and cannot require fearlessness. We must befriend our fear and tame him with faith. Bravery is realizing that fear is just a wild animal that is waiting to be domesticated by our strength. Bravery is making space for fear so that he can peacefully exist within us, since there is no way on this earth that we can kill him.Bravery is respecting fear, allowing him to have a voice, giving him room to relax. Bravery is disciplining him and allowing his voice to make our lives better.

Yes. Bravery is challenging. It is difficult. It is glorious. And, without it, we can never realize the vaulting scope of your own capacities  Without bravery, we can never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, our world will remain far smaller than it should.

We cannot be ruled by fear unless we allow it. It’s that simple. And that difficult.

I would love to hear how you are stepping out and shrinking the fear in your life.

Adventure awaits!

Much love,

Shannon

 

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Tonight, we celebrate…

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I took my little beauties out for Dr. Pepper floats tonight. Just look at those baby blues! They are both so stinkin’ gorgeous!

They were excited and confused when I told them I wanted to celebrate our life. But today, of all days, I thought it was important to realize the things we are so grateful for. I felt it was important to celebrate the fact that we are alive. To rejoice about having a home where peace reigns supreme, even when times get tough or things don’t go exactly as planned. To take a moment to remember how far we have come in the past few years.

But at the core of our celebration was anger. Anger so deep it burns my very soul. Because this celebration came on the heels of a day that should never have happened. Our opportunity for gratitude came from a swift, brutal reminder that there are others who have not escaped, others who are still living in hell every day. Others begging to be seen, to be heard, and falling through the cracks.

The day began like most other days, getting up early and still feeling late by the time all the homework, shoes and show and tell was located. Kissed their precious little heads as I said goodbye and I love you. Headed off to work, worked a little longer than I normally do, but got home pretty early, all things considered. I got out of my car and started walking toward the door when I heard something that sounded like a gunshot rather close by. I didn’t think too much about it except to ponder what it might have been for a brief second. Surely not a gun, although I don’t know many other things that sound like that. Fireworks, maybe? I unloaded my bags and began to clear the table, which had been left in disarray thanks to our hurried morning. I heard sirens as the emergency responders flew by, but I don’t live in the best neighborhood, so sirens are a pretty normal thing every day. I didn’t put the two together at all.

Then I received the emergency alert. There had been gunshots fired near my son’s school. The police were surrounding a house in our neighborhood and they would be announcing alternate dismissal plans pending the situation’s resolution. I looked out the door and saw the swarm of police cars. Less than two blocks separated me from whatever was happening out there.And the road between is the road my son walks home on every single day.

My heart dropped. Quickly I looked up the local news because I knew they would be covering it. I needed to know my son was safe. I needed to know what the cause was. I needed to know it wasn’t just some crazed lunatic that might head my direction, or worse, my kid’s direction. Maybe it was an accidental shot? Maybe someone was just spooked? Maybe drugs? That isn’t terribly uncommon around here. Maybe it wasn’t really much. Hopefully, just an accident of some sort. I tried to entertain more positive ideas as I waited what felt like forever for my phone to load the news.

Domestic violence. The words tore through my entire body. Someone had called about a burglary and when the police showed up, they realized it was a domestic violence call. There weren’t any more details than that. And most likely there wouldn’t be many without a serious tragedy to sensationalize it. Unfortunately, its happened around Springfield way too many times to be big news. But encountering it so close to my home rocked my little world a bit. Domestic violence always brings up the most turbulent emotions for me. Reminders of a time when I didn’t know if I would live or die. I wondered how many times she had attempted to get away. How many times had she called the police? How many times had she checked her windows and doors that day alone just hoping that she would remain safe? How many times had the police said there was nothing they could do?

I stood outside, looking at the swarm of police vehicles on our street, praying for the situation to be resolved. I hoped for the best, prepared for the worst. You just never know in these situations. I wondered if it was one of the women I had met on my leisurely walks with the kids around the neighborhood this summer. I wondered if she had escaped. The news said that a female had exited the house, so hopefully that meant she was no longer in danger.

The school let us pick up the kids, considering it an isolated incident that would not effect them as long as they weren’t walking by. I waited in the pick up line, still praying.

When Jaymin got in the car, he was unaffected. It made me realize how much I appreciate our little bubble. How much our lives have changed. How much love we have in our home. We drove to Jaylah’s school and I told them that we were going to celebrate and appreciate our life today. We drank our floats and discussed all the things we are excited about, the best parts of our day and what we really love about each other. We had lots of hugs, lots of snuggles, built gingerbread houses, listened to Christmas music and danced until bedtime.

But as we celebrated our successes and our peace tonight, there was another woman trying to find a way out. As we discussed how much we appreciate each other, there was someone being told how worthless they were. As we danced, someone fell at the hand of another. As we looked forward to the future with excitement, she trembled with fear at what the night might hold. As we uplifted each other, someone else was being destroyed.

And that is unacceptable.

I looked at the news again to see what they were saying about the situation.

There had been numerous domestic violence calls at this residence. 8 since September 26 alone. She had a restraining order, but the last time she called,  she was between the temporary and permanent order and they could/would do nothing to help her. Oh, how well I remember that feeling. The checking over your shoulder, looking through the house to make sure no one was there when you came home, calling the police because he would sit down the block attempting to intimidate you.

And as I remembered those feelings, I began to get angry. For those who know me, it takes a lot to make me angry. A. Whole. Lot.

But I am furious right now. I am enraged for my friends who have had to endure this. I am angry that the Springfield Police Department responds to over six calls EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am livid for my children who still have to see this when they visit their father because “domestic violence is not child abuse” according to our system. It makes me sick that this spans every demographic, from doctors and lawyers to the homeless. I am disgusted that future generations are being taught that this way of life is acceptable, or at the very least unpunishable. I HATE that this is “normal” here.

It is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE that this is happening. And  one thing that struck me was the fact that once the reporters realized it wasn’t a glamorous school shooting, the coverage became about 5 sentences, because it is just “another domestic violence thing”.

I know there has been a lot of coverage of what the “Ink Ink” girls said on TLC lately, but when it comes to how women are treated here, maybe they had a valid point. As many good things as Springfield has going for it, the underbelly still exists and hides in plain sight.

When I have mentioned to people that I came from an abusive relationship, the most common question is not “what consequence did he get?” but rather “what did you do to make him so mad?” And that, my dear friends, is the wrong question. It is heinous that children have to be physically bruised and battered to be protected because their hearts and souls have no value in the current system as it is. That the value of women is so small that a law was just passed that says if you consent to a date and get raped, you can no longer press charges because you were on a “consensual” date. That victims must meet with the person that tried to kill them because “joint parenting” is more important than protecting someone.

Our world is BROKEN. And the only way that we can change it is to stand up and do something about it. The only way that our voices can be heard is if we speak out. The only way that we will win is if  we fight.

So, I am done sitting on my duff, expecting that other people will speak out for those who are hurting. I am done living in fear of what others might think. I am done hesitating because of the backlash when I talk about my story. I am finished living anything other than the life I am called to.

My life is destined to reach those in need. I can make a difference. I can be a light, no matter how small, in a desperate, dark world. My story, my pain, can help someone. As I am finishing up my new book, I am struck by the realization that if my daughter were going through the things I went through, I would desperately want someone to reach out to her. And I realize that perhaps I can be that someone to another mother’s daughter.

So, I hope, I pray, that your new year is focused on seeing where you can bring light. Your story is powerful. Your past can touch someone. And I hope that at least one of your resolutions this coming year is to bring hope and healing to others. As a friend of mine said last night “if you can even touch one life, it’s worth it”. I desire for you to make an incredible difference in someone’s life going forward. That you would stand up for love, for kindness, for justice, and for hope. That the atrocities of 2016 and before can be forgotten, wiped clean, as we use our pain to give us power, to bring change.

I pray that you get involved. Speak out for what is right on social media. Write a letter to your representative. Adopt a family for Christmas. Become a big brother or sister. Find a cause and become it’s champion. Love people. Especially the people that you are close to. And learn to listen. Because so many are crying out for help. I know I don’t want to miss any opportunities.

Yes, tonight we celebrated. But it is in the celebration that I find the determination to fight. So celebrate your victories, but please, remember to fight for those whose voice is still unheard. Use your growth to reach out to those who need help. Do something. And if we all commit to doing something, anything, to make our immediate circle a better place, we will change EVERYTHING.

Let’s change the world together, shall we?

Love you all!

 

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