Posted in Empowerment

How to Recover From a Mistake Using G.R.O.W.T.H.™

This post from MAKE IT ULTRA is a beautiful reminder that Grace and Mercy are verbs. I am reminded that there are functional benefits to giving and receiving Grace from others, but from myself as well. 

In all practicality, the G.R.O.W.T.H. acronym is a significant part to any self-care, trauma recovery, grief, or 12-step program.  Follow this link to find out what these essential steps are!

http://wp.me/p7bq2c-4Rg

I look forward to practicing these steps…acknowledging that I do have shortcomings and will trip up in the future.

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Posted in Empowerment

Truant For Life

Another month, another random series of life-altering events. Honestly, if I was not praying specifically to be used by God however He desires, I think I’d have been committed to the psych ward by now! 

But I have prayed and surrendered to any and all changes. I do believe that change is crucial to faith. New adventures are about attitude and the willingnness to experience the ride. 

In the past month, I helped plan a wonderful party for 1,000 of our friends. The next day I left my job at the church. Shared my daughter’s fear of failing grades and truancy letters. And began the process of enrolling in college without federal aid. I am realizing that I am chronically late to everything regardless of how prepared I try to be. I trip up and bottom out when I strive to be perfect. These things are patterns throughout my entire life. 

I have found five images to summarize my theory that I am simply truant (not being present in my own life).

1. I literally got a letter that my youngest has missed too much school.

2. My judgment is reactionary and emotional, but also filled with confidence. 

3. The mastery of ‘Courage Under Fire’ & ‘Resourcefulness’ after the fact.

4. Passionately, yet blindly, pursuing self-awareness & other-centered love.

5. And lastly, I am certain three things are not synonymous: Gratitude. Joy. Contentment. 

Until next time, friends, let’s pray it is not a month away…

Posted in Empowerment

Not Everybody Gonna Live Tho’

If you have read my blog before, you may remember that I occasionally refer to my relationship with Christ.  At the same time, I always give the caveat that I do not BIBLE-bash my readers so keep reading. 

Have you ever noticed that HOPE is fickle and faint-hearted? It is more fleeting than love and brings greater devestation after it passes.  When I was 15, I was so fatalistic that hope was my enemy. I felt that, in Greek mythology, Pandora’s box held the horrible conditions of mankind…and Hope was chiefly the worst. 

Without hope one could never be disappointed, broken, discouraged, or devastated. The motivation to climb the emotional barometer does not exist. Therefore life is safe and one is able to live free from depression, oppression, and rejection.  

Thinking through folks apocolyptic posts lately and I still wonder if North American Christians have it wrong again… For 5 years I have been stating my theory that America was never a Christian nation and that things need to get worse before God can work in the hearts of our neighbors. 

Take, for example, the hurricanes of 2004, we had little to no resources and I was pregnant.  I was completely disoriented driving past the fallen arches of McDonalds as we left our Motel 6.  The eye shifted to pass directly over us. Then came three additional storms within 6 weeks. That summer was horrid for our friends and our area. 

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, earthquakes and hydrogen bombs are frightening enough to cause conversation. Devastation through a passive lens; rescuing people from the safety offered by our Twitter feed; offering material comforts; and recreating infrastructure via NGO’s and text-to-donate; nor throwing rhetoric around the office will change the heart condition of a community afflicted. 

I wish it were possible. Like my boy NF, a mainstream rapper who happens to be Christian, writes, “Now everybody’s gon’ die/ But don’t everybody live though.” (Check it out, full song linked) Hope is the answer.

Oh Lord by NF

When I die, put my ashes in the trash bag
I don’t care where they go
Don’t waste your money on my gravestone
I’m more concerned about my soul
Everybody’s gon’ die
Don’t everybody live though
Sometimes I look up to the sky
And wonder do You see us down here?

Oh Lord, oh Lord, do You see us down here?
Oh Lord, oh Lord

Listen, yeah everybody wants change
Don’t nobody wanna change though
Don’t nobody wanna pray
Till they got something to pray for
Now everybody’s gon’ die
But don’t everybody live though
Sometimes I look up to the sky
And wonder do you see us down here?

Oh Lord, oh Lord, do You see us down here?
Oh Lord, oh Lord

It’s easy to blame God but harder to fix things
We look in the sky like, “Why ain’t You listening?”
Watching the news in our living rooms on the big screens
And talking ’bout “If God’s really real, then where is He?”
You see the same God that you saying might not even exist
Becomes real to us, but only when we dying in bed
When ya healthy it’s like, we don’t really care for Him then
Leave me alone God, I’ll call you when I need you again
Which is funny, everyone will sleep in the pews
Then blame God for our problems like He sleeping on you
We turn our backs on Him, what do you expect Him to do?
It’s hard to answer prayers when nobody’s praying to you
I look around at this world we walk on
It’s a smack in the face, don’t ever tell me there’s no God
And if there isn’t then what are we here for?
And what are y’all doing down there? I don’t know Lord

Oh Lord, oh Lord, do You see us down here?
Oh Lord, oh Lord

Do You see us down here? Oh Lord
Can You see us down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?

Posted in Empowerment

I love startling people. A quick unexpected reply to an innocuous question causes folks to stop dead in their tracks. I love to collect little phrases and idioms from different cultures. I often create my own too. For instance working at the drive thru a couple years back, and out of nowhere the thought occured to me, “Hey, Lauren, I just realized I’m not sweating; I am wearing humidity on the outside.” Stupid, but makes you think. 

Maybe I like the attention. Really, I feel like people don’t connect and I am demanding attention. Think about it. When was the last time you held a meaningful conversation.  We have the same conversations repeatedly and then it all evaporates. 

You know you can’t keep the ground from shaking, no matter how hard you try
You can’t keep the sunsets from fading, you gotta treat your life like
You’re jumping off a rope swing baby ’cause the whole thing’s really just a shot in the dark
You gotta love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart

I love these lyrics from Old Dominion. There is a ton of context here whether the song writers intended it or not. I hear that God is in control and no matter how hard I try, I can’t fix everything. There is also a bittersweet reminder that life is brief. 

With all the implications that mortality evokes, I feel slightly overwhemed and extremely codependent.  I want to crawl in bed with a rather extreme amount of ice cream and binge watch Criminal Minds. 

Meanwhile my favorite part of the song is their analogy for life, its like a rope swing. My friends in Florida had a place we would go. I thought they were nuts since there were alligators everywhere.  For the record I can’t remember ever having swung on a rope, let alone having the courage to release high above the water. But… I might one day. I can imagine drying off my palms on the front of my jeans. Gripping the coarse, thick braid in both hands, testing the proper tension. I feel myself take a step back and summon a large breath. Four massive steps later to feel the weightlessness of the ascension! Without rationalization or hesitation, both hands fall away as the rope retreats to safety and I am left momentarily suspended by gravity. I have little control over the consequences…

Next time you are asked, “How are you?” Say something genuine or clever. Or you could tell them,  “I’m okay, like jumping off a rope swing.”

Posted in Empowerment

Strategic Discontent or Strategic Contentment…

Hold on while I get my coffee…

Okay that’s better. Let me ask your thoughts. Should I use some of my birthday money on a new tattoo or start saving for a family trip to Florida?  

I only want a small tattoo… not sure about the location but I like these two simple patterns. The first image defines all my previous posts. But ‘Infinite Joy’ would be cool too. 

I am learning more about the differences of gratitude and contentment. How would you define each concept in your own life? I feel many of us would acknowledge gratitude as fleeting and temporary. Some of us would say it is difficult and a discipline. Others still would challenge the mere ideal by dismissing it through ambition and worry. There are a rare few that would say it is hard fought and a companion. 

Like gratitude, I am learning you do have to fight for it. We are not even content at birth! Strategic discontent can be a useful weapon, but it is dangerous. I thought I could use this term, strategic discontent, to push for change, gain ambition and increase my joy.  Can you guess how that is going? 

New strategy.  What if I use the gratitude I have been storing all summer and build something beautiful out of it? All those  little moments where I sensed love, beauty, and provision can become a wonderful canvas. 

Two thoughts from yesterday, both about anxiety, perhaps you can relate. One gal shared that she has a jar that helps when she worries. It is labeled, ‘FEAR DISPOSAL.’ I love it! She writes whatever is bothering her, prays about it and gets rid of it. So my other thought will need to go in the jar after I share it. ‘If things are on the upswing, when is the other foot going to fall…’ My family has been doing okay, we are healing (ish), settled into the house by Lake Erie and moving forward. Obviously life still happens but there is a persistent  fear of when is the next injury, loss or tragedy going to occur

Therefore I choose to dispose of fear.  To build contentment. To live in gratitude. I choose joy!

Posted in Empowerment

Secret Treasures

I did not mean for so many days to pass without posting. Wow! I can say the time has been productive and not too dramatic. There are some intense moments of sharing and praying with ladies. Just when I think I said something brilliant, I move on and I stick my foot in my mouth. Ugh.

I learned a few years back that if a girl/woman is ready to trust you with her secrets, she is really giving you access to her feelings. There is a special key required, it is password protected and sensors are on full-alert. One wrong move and that privilege is revoked with deadly precision. 

In the detention center teens would try to shock is ‘church ladies.’ They wanted to see us squirm or be repulsed by their confessions. I can think of two amazing girls that shared their sexual orientation. One girl was bubbly with a hint of her temper wanted any to love her. Meanwhile the other girl was hardcore, she was blunt, yet you could tell she, too, was seeking love. The reason these two stand out is because they were caught off guard by the lack of reaction they received. I can’t imagine how they came to expect complete rejection. The reality of rejection in the church angers me still.

The lack of response, however, is crucial to most genuine conversations about confessions. If you have earned the privilege to hear her secrets, please know she is preparing to sever that connection before the first word has been spoken! Be silent and still. There is no need to nod or grab the tissue box. It is hard enough to put the words together without you causing distractions. 

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, look at her with pity! Pity is probably worse than rejection, honestly. Even though her story is probably horrific and emotional, save your reaction until later. She needs compassion and acceptance, whereas our nature is to ‘move past’ the uncomfortable. 

There may be specific actions you can do to tangibly help after she is done sharing, do not share them. You are there to listen and comfort her, not ‘fix’ her. If something needs done, there will be time for that later. “I’m sorry that happened” or “That must have hard,” say “Thanks for sharing,” if necessary. 

She will direct the conversation from there. Sometimes it’s her body language, other times she already has a plan of going forward. However it flows, just realize, she is still watching to see if you are acting different. Will you treat her ‘kid-gloves,’ ostracize her or betray her? 

Please treat the secret as the gift it is, a precious pearl to be set in a safe place. And treat her as the gift she is, precious and treasured!

Posted in Empowerment

Well & Just, Ugh!

My mini rant, I hope you enjoy!

Wouldn’t it be lovely if all English words had one spelling and one meaning! I wanted to be an English major once upon a time. I enjoyed syntax and the use of Oxford grammar and punctuation.  It physically pains me to see, ‘dived’ or ‘blowed’ in my daughter’s library choices. (…like I have no other issues) 

Meanwhile, there are two words that I am really starting to despise, ‘Well’ & ‘Just’.  For starters, I am struggling with being short-changed in a family matter following our recent losses. I have friends praying the family courts make just decisions.  As for being well, I am a hot mess, depressed and bitter. Many of you have indicated the same. 

Meanwhile these cringe-worthy words have been irking me for a while. The context they are used in is either limiting, demanding or insulting. 

If I hear my teen say, “Well, actually,” one more time I will lose it!  

I am tired of praying ‘just’ prayers.  “Lord I just ask,” like you are telling Him what to do!  Imperatives like Nike’s Just Do It or Just Go are probably not the best approach, just sayin.’

Or “We ask that you give us, just, peace, Lord, and just strength. The qualifier, just, limits His infinite possibilities, it shouldn’t be a filler. 
Well, my little rant is over. You can just go about your day now.


Posted in Empowerment

Learning To Free Fall

Now that we are all another week wiser, what insights have you found? Any epiphanies of self-reflection? Some revelation of other-centeredness we can relate to? 

Totally sharing that this week I added an item to my Bucket List!  I have an obsession with skydiving. I would absolutely love to wear that skysuit and jump over the Grand Canyon. 

Seriously though, I receive encouragement occasionally as a lady will comment her affirmation of this blog. We can all empathize with one another and make light of our situations. Honestly some of you are living your own personal hell and you may be utterly alone.  Each week we connect in the gap that is found in our hearts. I hope that, whether its on WordPress, Facebook or with a friend, that you, reader, will begin your own dialogue. 

I found myself standing in the gap for both my daughter and my husband this weekend. She was too direct, too authoritarian again, and he felt threatened by her demeanor. A simple miscommunication, (nothing’s ever simple in my house) quickly flipped the switch of insecurities, rejections, pain and misery. 

Arguments that are never resolved tend to evolve, I say. 

Meanwhile I am proud of how she apologized and worked her new skills. I will refrain from sharing the lecture he received. I just hope my brutally honest assessment of our current life helps him move out of his depression and get help. Unfortunately, I will say that I actually used the phrase, “If this is as good as it [marriage] gets, that’s fine…” Ouch!

All this to say, we have to learn how to do this thing called LIFE.  I personally don’t feel that we are entitled to ‘good things’ and we have to steal, squeeze and find the ‘good’ from every circumstance we can.  (You won’t find that painted on Etsy).

Like the song lyrics from one of my least favorite country bands, Florida-Georgia Line, says, “You learn to fly, and if you can’t, then you just free fall.” Its a picture of release and freedom, not impaling yourself upon landing! (I know what some of you were thinking!)

Share your dreams and struggles so that others may be encouraged. Complaining is not the same thing.  I carefully dance on the thin line separating two. However, if I stuffed it all in, I would probably be catatonic by now.  Help me learn to free-fall…

Posted in Empowerment

Yeah…And?

Other than my family’s safety, there are few things that actually scare me. I love heights, or more specifically the sensation of falling. Snakes and reptiles are better than fluffy kitties! There are few movies that get under my skin, its usually a psychological thriller on my playlist anyway.  I babysat my friend’s pet rattlesnake for a week even.  Yeah.  And, your point is?!

 I especially do not believe I am afraid of my own mortality. 

Wow! That got heavy quickly, right? Different pieces of my week have come back to this central issue, so I might as well process it and potentially start a dialogue. Remember, my faith is part of my narrative, so when I write about Jesus and heaven, don’t be offended.  I am sharing my perspective, just like the fact that I believe Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes are amazing beautiful creatures. 

I find it ironic that this life-threatening species lived with me, and yet, I continue to fret and worry over what I said or did ‘made me appear silly’. 

I have been listening to Steven Furtick, Crash The Chatterbox. In his candid manner of speaking, he shared his father’s struggle with ALS and suicidal ideations.  It had to have been horrible to experience the disease. My heart goes out to the loved ones, who are helpless to save him from either eventuality.  Frantic one night, convinced his dad will harm himself, Steven calls a friend for reassurance. (We all need that 3:00 am friend). This friend listened and gave Steven the greatest clarity that night. Forgive me if I don’t have the quote exact, “What if he does [take his life]?” 

What!? Maybe we don’t need friends like that. Or maybe we do. Perspective is a valuable and precious gift. Honesty and compassion are not incompatible. Steven realized that, despite the magnitude of loss, he would be okay.  That God would be there in the midst of suffering. I have wrestled with the ‘sadistic diety’ concept many times. Why would a god who loves us, take our loved one and then comfort us? He doesn’t. But that is a discussion for another day.

My anxiety rules my life, my fears are petty First World Problems, and I know this. How can I gain perspective? Can I grow to the point of ambivalence and unphased peace? Can I see the beauty in the danger? Can I find comfort in the pain? Can I find boldness to look a situation in the eye and say, “Yeah….And?”

Posted in Empowerment

Wanderlust or Changemaker?

By the shores of Lake Erie again. I spent a few days in Nashville enjoying the buzz of the city. Thank you to my friends that let me tag along. At the end of the trip I commented, “This trip was not worthy of a chapter.” I explained that my memoir will feature all the stories of my life, and all the funny, quirky, horrible misadventures that have befallen me. Its titled, THE MISADVENTURES OF LEANNA! I’m serious. I believe I am over three dozen chapters now. 

Great advice, Mr. Godin, how do I get there?

Am I prone to wanderlust? The need for adventure and new scenery always calling out like Odysseus or Amelia Earhart. Do I crave chaos and change, and therefore, restlessness and discontentment?  I choose to believe that the rising ache in my chest is more like a battle cry. I have been told since elementary age that I would do big things. Call me crazy, but I believe them. 

So how does one create the fulfilled life?  IDK

In the business world we are taught to be risk-takers, yet be calculating and have specific goals. There are glorious failures and then there are golden moments. Continually, there will be a vision, a belief in oneself and a pressing ambition. 

Well, I have variations of those elements, reader.

  1.  I hope for a functioning family for my daughters. I still hope for my own business or three. I can see these things potentially, but progress is painfully slow. I want to alter the course and move into that sweet spot. 
  2. I waiver in my self-affirmation, but I do recognize my strengths and choose to believe the best. I also know that I am continually surrendering to the one I know is fully trustworthy, so that counts. 
  3. As for ambition, I have to surrender that too. I find it hard to balance my intelligence, pride and equality with authoritative figures. I have learned its okay to respect, follow and obey leadership. I will never be a blind follower though. I want to know why, and how, and what motivations. Its either viewed as audacious or rebellious when I am usually harmless. 

Those elements do not equal a copacetic life! The past six months have only brought chaos and pain to my family. 

I suppose when we finally work through our grief, life will finally seem brighter. I will either be closer to my goals as an entrepreneur with a family that talks to one another positively or my angst will remain. Either way, I suppose I will have grown and changed through all of this.