Saturday, April 30, 2011

Whine and Cheese, Anyone?

Okay, everyone, go grab your cheese, because it's time for another whine.  Today was one of those "I hate being single" days, so I am going to vent here.

We own one of those "well, it seemed like a good idea at the time" electric lawn mowers.  It's the kind with no cord, just a rechargeable battery.  The battery is integrated into the mower itself, and can't be removed for charging, nor changed by the owner, and it takes 12+ hours to charge the battery.  It has to be plugged in while being stored between mowings, or it loses whatever charge it has. Our only outdoor outlet is on the front porch, which is not a suitable storage place for the mower for a multitude of reasons.  So during the winter, it lives in the basement.  It weighs 70 lbs., so once it is brought up for mowing season, it remains up, plugged into an outlet in the breakfast room or living room. 

Four years after buying the mower, the battery will now hold a charge for approximately 10 minutes.  It takes a minimum of a half hour to mow our yard, when it has been mowed recently.  The first mowing of the season always takes longer.  We have not had two days in a row when it hasn't rained, so only part of our lawn has been mowed so far this season, and that part is now almost knee deep again, sigh.

Today is mowing weather. I had a meltdown, knowing that this weather would be wasted, because I own a relatively useless mower. 

Okay, this story is getting long.  I won't even get into the issue with the shed, but it wasn't pretty and added to my meltdown.  Let's just fast forward to the fact that I decided to buy a new mower.  But that necessitated borrowing money from a relative, who thought that if she lent me the money, she should also dictate what type of mower I purchase.  (For the record, she advocates the use of electric mowers, the kind with a cord.  My 14-year-old son is not very observant;  thus, I find that a rather electrifying proposition, and I nixed it.)  Off to Walmart we went, and I bought the cheapest gas-powered mower I could find.

We brought the mower home and had to ask a neighbor to help my son with it.  And the shed?  It doesn't have doors at the moment.  That meant I also humbled myself and asked a friend from church if he could maybe take a look at it sometime and see if he can replace the doors.  Oh, and dinner...  thought about burgers on the grill, but it isn't working either.  So I also asked my friend if he can check that out for me.  And in the meantime, we eat something else.

I'm tired.  I'm beyond tired. This homeowner stuff is getting to me.  Being a single mom is getting to me.  Oh yeah, and needing to ask men for help is really getting to me. 

I have discovered that I have an issue with asking men for help.  Another long story, for another time.

You know what?  All I want is a husband.  Someone who can help me without me needing to feel guilty for asking.  Someone who, even when he is too busy to help, can at least listen to me when I am frustrated by circumstances.  Or better yet, someone who can hold me and let me cry when I am so tired that I could just drop, like now.

Okay, I am finished.  I hope you enjoyed your cheese, because the whine seems to be finished as well.  :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Confirming My Calling

I have mentioned here before that I want to pursue a degree in marriage and family counseling, and that I have been accepted into a graduate program.  I still don't know how I will pay for it, but I have to share some exciting things that have happened lately.

Recently, I've been wavering, thinking that because the cost of the degree is so high, maybe I should forget about it, go to school and pick up whatever classes I need to be certified, and become a teacher.  I enjoy teaching, I love middle school and high school kids, and it would be a steady income with good hours for a mom. 

But even though his would be the logical, safe path to take, I wondered why I had previously felt so certain that God was calling me into marriage and family counseling if I was now supposed to forget about that and go into teaching.  So I asked God to let me know what He wanted me to do. 

Since asking Him, I have had several interesting things happen.

First, a friend of mine asked me for advice on dealing with in-laws whose attitudes and behavior might be negatively affecting her children.

Then I had a divorced friend pour out her anger and other emotions surrounding her divorce to me, because she knew I would understand.

Today, one of the ladies in my core group at Community Bible Study shared that a comment I made early in the year had spurred her on to submitting to her husband more intentionally than she had in the past, and she said since she has been doing so, she has seen a real improvement in her marriage.

Then this evening, a total stranger sat and talked to me about a parenting problem she is having.

Oh, and one other confirmation:  at CBS this morning, a friend in my core gorup pressed some money into my hand and said, "It isn't much, but I want to help you out financially with your schooling."  Later, when I unfolded the money, I realized that the amount she had given me is exactly the amount of the deposit that is due to the school on May 10!

Obviously, God is answering my question by confirming His calling in my life.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Teenaged Boys

There is a book that was quite popular a few years ago called,  "Men are from Mars;  Women are from Venus."  That sort of makes sense, since men are motivated by hierarchy and the war to get to the top, and women are motivated by connnecting and loving relationships.  It also makes life interesting, since men and women so often seem to speak different languages, and think totally different about some of the most basic issues in life.

But if men are from a different planet than I am, then I have to wonder if teenaged boys are from an entirely different solar system.

Take food, for instance.  Teenaged boys rarely stop to think about grocery shopping or food prep, yet they can put away astonishing amounts of food.

Or how about their ability to reason?  I have yet to meet a teenaged boy who notices when a hamper or trash can is overflowing, even though it is their responsibility and a regular chore.  The look of surprise on their face when reminded that the piece of garbage they just threw away wouldn't have landed on their foot if the can weren't overflowing is priceless!

And emotions - ai yi yi!  With women and girls, emotions tend to follow a predictable cycle.  With teenaged boys, however, this is not so.  One moment they can be happy, and the next moment, they are as grumpy as can be.  One moment they are playing nicely with a sibling, and the next, they want to throw the sibling in to next week.

All of this leads to problems for the single mom of a teenaged boy.  If I don't understand him, how am I supposed to know how to respond to him?  I know that teenaged boys puzzle even their dads occasionally, but at least dads have been there themselves and don't suffer culture shock to the same extent that moms do!

Oddly enough, having a teenaged boy is one of the reasons why I wish I were married.  Odd because then I would have yet another set of male hormones to deal with; yet logical because I'd have an interpreter and a defender to help me through the raising of this alien teenaged boy I've been blessed with.

Sometimes I question whether I can do this alone. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not Giving Up

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  (Gal. 6:9-10, NIV)

I am weary.

Some of my weariness, I'm sure, is the physical weariness of not getting enough sleep.  I have had to get up relatively early every day this week, and my sleep has been interrupted, possibly because I am all out of my allergy meds.  I've not been getting adequate exercise, due mainly to weather, which doesn't help, either.

Some of it is emotional.  For whatever reason, I have been on edge emotionally lately.  Friendships that normally encourage have felt draining lately, and some of my closest friends, who tend to energize me by helping me to make sense of events in my life, have been incommunicado, busy with their own lives.

Some of it is mental.  I have been puzzling over my future, seeking God's plans and the way He wants me to carry them out.  While I don't worry about the future, I do realize that I have a responsibility to keep moving in the direction He has called me to go, and sometimes that is hard work mentally.

Some of my weariness is spiritual.  I have been trying to practice the spiritual disciplines we have studied so far in Sunday School (meditation, prayer, fasting), and while two of those were already a part of my spiritual walk, I have been trying to be more deliberate about them and trying new approaches.  Additionally, there are several things that I have been seeking God's direction on.

I am going to try to get a little more sleep, and a little more exercise.  I will continue trying to connect with my friends.  I will try to be more organized in my journey toward the things God has called me to.  And I will try to relax and allow God to refresh me as I pray and meditate.  (That sounds funny, since prayer and meditation should probably be relaxing, right?)

But above all, I need to hang onto the promise that I will reap a harvest at the proper time if  I don't give up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


One of the things about God that delights me the most is how He gives us glimpses into things we could never comprehend with our finite human minds. 

Having children has given me opportunities to catch a glimpse of God's amazing love.  Before I had children, the idea of someone loving another person enough to lay down his or her life for that person was so far beyond my comprehension that it was nearly a fairy tale to me.  But then I carried a child in my body for eight months, and brought her forth with much pain and agony and when that little bundle was placed in my arms and she searched my face as if to memorize it forever, I knew that such a love could indeed exist.  I knew that I would lay down my life for my child without question.  And so I caught a glimpse of God's love for me.

Being divorced has given me an opportunity to glimpse the pain involved in the sacrifice God made for us.  I remember a point in my separation when I felt as though I was being torn from limb to limb.  I was being stripped of my purpose and identity as a wife.  I was losing the other half of my soul, seeing that holy thing that God had made by joining two individuals together in marriage violently ripped apart.  The pain was nearly unbearable.  Yet I know that pain was just the tiniest glimpse of what Jesus must have felt as He was separated from his Father in Heaven, who couldn't look on Him as he took on all the sin of the world.  The Godhead, the three-in-one who live in total unity, was being ripped apart.  A Holy thing was being destroyed, although only for a time.  So I have caught a glimpse of the pain of the crucifixion.

As we go through Holy Week this year, I am thankful for those glimpses into the reality of His love and His suffering for me.  May I never forget those glimpses, even as I ponder what His love compelled Him to suffer for me!

Monday, April 18, 2011

From The Depths of My Soul

Many of my posts recently have been about the man I am interested in.  This one is different.  This post is about the One who is interested in me.

I was raised in an evangelical protestant church.  I accepted the truth of the Bible and asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was about nine years old.  But in retrospect, I think that was more like purchasing fire insurance than it was the beginning of a relationship.

In my teens, I had a series of  "one night stands" with God, often at Christian retreats or camps or other youth events.  Okay, sometimes they lasted a week.  Sometimes they may have even lasted a month.  But overall, my spiritual life was a roller coaster ride, not a genuine commitment to the One who loved me. 

In college and my 20's, I tried hard to live the way He would want me to, at least most of the time.  But something was missing even then.  I think I would characterize that decade as the decade when I tried to earn my way into God's favor.  I apparently still didn't understand that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.

In my 30's, I was busy bearing and raising children.  An amazing thing started to happen during that time. My children began teaching me about my sin nature, about God's mercy and grace, and best of all, about unconditional love!

By the time I turned 40, I think I was finally engaged in a real relationship with God.  Suddenly, being in His word was no longer a duty, but a delight.  And then when my husband's affair came to light, I was forced to throw myself fully into God's arms, to allow Him to carry me, because I was too overwhelmed to function on my own.

And He did.

He wrapped His arms around me and carried me through every windy moment, every stormy day.  He was the center of my life, and those Psalms about Him being a rock and a fortress?  They suddenly were something I had experienced for myself.  He became my Abba Father (Daddy) and even my Husband, in many ways.

If you ask me how long I have been a Christian, I can give you three different answers.  I have been a cultural Christian my entire life.  I have been "born again" for 38 years.  But I have been a Christ-follower, a Christ-lover, for maybe seven years.

Those have been the most difficult, yet the best seven years of my life!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

He Is Who He Is...And He Always Will Be!

Today's sermon was a good reminder that while we can change some things, we can't change who God is.  He is who He is and He always will be!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It Is What It Is... But Does It Have To Be?

It is what it is.  That sounds right on the surface.  I mean, how can anyone argue with the logic there?

But is this a good attitude?  Isn't there an element of fatalism or even passivity in adopting this as one's motto?

I am not one to give up easily, so this philosophy bothers me somewhat.  There are situations where it makes sense, I suppose, such as those things one honestly can't change, a la the "Serenity Prayer": 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

But as the prayer above says, there are times when one should have the courage to change the things one can, rather than  just adopting the "It is what it is" philosophy.

As a divorced mom of children under the age of 18, I still have to deal with my ex-husband, no matter how unpleasant that might be.  Sometimes those dealings are beyond unpleasant.  They can be downright annoying.  For some reason, though, several of my divorced male friends have advised me to adopt the "It is what it is" attitude when dealing with him. 

I wish I could.  But honestly, when my children are caught in the middle, I think there may be times when it would be best for me to try to change the things I can.

So I pray for wisdom. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  (James 1:5-8 NIV)

I don't want to be double-minded or unstable.  I just want to have the wisdom to know when to fight and when to accept that it is what it is.

Thank You, God, for the wisdom you give so generously!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Today I took a walk down memory lane.  The section I walked was in one of the uglier neighborhoods.  (No, I am not referring to the fact that I cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer today, although I had to visit some ugly memories in there, too.)  I revisited 2006, when my marriage was drawing to a close. 

I have a group of seven women who hold me accountable, hold me up in prayer, and hold my hand (figuratively speaking) when I walk through the rough times.  Our little group has been together online, with only minor changes, since May 2006...right about the time my ex-husband says he fell in love with the first other woman.  We have communicated mainly through a private online message board for the past five years.

The message board site is shutting down on Friday.  So I decided to see if I could find my posts from that very difficult time in my life and save them, if it seemed appropriate.

I found them.  I also found some surprises, things I had forgotten. 

For instance, on at least two occasions before I knew about my ex-husband's affair, his mother made comments suggesting that his actions looked suspiciously like he was having an affair.

Another memory that I had forgotten was that I was terribly unhappy in my marriage in the months while he was having his online affair, even though I didn't know about it.  Oddly enough, I even mentioned once that I wondered if he was having an online affair.  Yet even then, I was determined to make my marriage work, and to rely on God to give me the strength to do it.

I needed to read those posts again, with the benefit of hindsight.  I needed to know that I wasn't a quitter, even before things fell apart.  And I needed to be reminded that God was my strength then.

It wasn't a fun walk down Memory Lane today, but it was a good one.  I have been reminded where my strength comes from, and with that, I can move forward, building a more beautiful neighborhood from here on!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unguarded Heart

Last night during the awkward conversation, I inadvertently let slip the fact that I have not been very successful at guarding my heart against the gentleman in question. 

Being a man, he had to immediately "solve" the problem, in this case by explaining it to me.  That is one of the traits about men that sometimes frustrates me to no end, but other times, is just plain cute.  This time it was cute, especially since it broke the awkwardness of the "I can't believe I just said that" moment I was caught in.

His explanation was that perhaps this is because the other men I have needed to guard my heart against have been pursuing me, while he hasn't.  He did add that his not pursuing me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with him and where he is in life right now, which I thought was a kind way to soften that statement.  :-)

But I have to wonder if there isn't just possibly another explanation, since my behavior these last few months has been anything but the norm for me when it comes to men.

I have, in recent months, left the guarding of my heart in God's hands, because I have never been good at it on my own.  I have a tendency to see the best in everyone, so it has been easy for me to see potential in almost any man who demonstrates an interest in me.  Lately, however, nobody but this one man has interested me, which leads me to wonder about something.

Could it be that God is guarding my heart for His purposes, and His purpose for me in the life of this particular man is best served if my heart is unguarded? 

If I feel a depth of compassion for this man unlike any I feel for anyone else, if I clear my life of the "clutter" of other men, if I focus my attention on him and make a point of being honest, trustworthy and available to him, would that not, perhaps, work some healing in his trust issues with women?  If God's intent is for me to play a part in his healing, then perhaps my unguarded heart is a necessity for that task. 

I realize that this is a risky position for me to be in, but I have relinquished this relationship to God, and I honestly feel no fear.  It may never lead to any type of romance, but that is okay.  I am trusting God with my heart, and in this case, He has chosen to leave it unguarded.

An Awkward Conversation

After struggling with my lustful thoughts all day, I finally realized that I needed to take some sort of concrete action to deal with the situation.  I prayed about it, and decided that I should call the man whose remark started all this.

I felt incredibly awkward admitting to this man that his joke had caused me to lust (after him, no less), but to my relief, he understood.  He even apologized.  And I did something absolutely necessary and set a boundary for our conversations:  I told him that if he wouldn't do it with someone he isn't married to, then he shouldn't mention it to me in conversation, even when just joking around. 

And then one of my female friends offered me this bit of wisdom:  male-female friendships always need boundaries, but you usually don't know what boundaries you need to set until one of you accidentally crosses the line. 

I'm glad I found the line and that my friend is willing to abide by the newly-set boundary!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lust: An Equal Opportunity Sin

Call me naive, but for most of my life, I believed that lust was something only men struggle with.  In recent years, I've discovered that lust is an equal opportunity sin.  Today, it reared its ugly head again.

I think lust sneaks up on women differently than it does on men.  For men, I think it most often sneaks in because of something they see.  That's why Job said,   “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman."  (Job 31:1, NIV)  But for women, I think it often begins with something we hear.  Well, at least that is where it begins for me.

At church, of all places, I was assaulted by a comment made by a man in an attempt to be funny.  And I fell prey to lust.

So this afternoon, I have been trying to fight off the images and desires his words brought to my mind, and not very successfully, I might add.  I actually ended up in tears, begging God to redirect my thoughts, because I wasn't able to do so on my own.

All of this reminds me yet again of the importance of guarding our hearts and minds (the parts most affected when I battle lust).  But it also reminds me of the importance of guarding our tongues. 

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.   (James 3:5-6)

I'm fairly certain that the man who made the "humorous" remark at church today had no idea what a fire he was starting in me, but I do feel certain that if he knew, he would feel bad that he had caused such a struggle for one of his sisters in Christ.

So let this be a warning to you, men.  Lust is an equal opportunity sin, and your words may be as harmful to a woman as an immodest outfit worn by an attractive woman is to you!   

Thursday, April 7, 2011


My heart aches for my children tonight.  The eldest realized that it has now been exactly one year since she has seen her father.  That is partially her choice, since he did come take her siblings out one evening in January and she refused to go along, but even so, I hurt for her.  I hurt for them, too.  Their own father has spent approximately two hours with them in the past 365 days.  True, he lives in a different country, but he is ony a six hour drive away.  His parents have spent more time with his kids than he has.  I don't understand how a father can do this...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I believe that God heals.  Psalm 102:2-3 says

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
         And forget none of His benefits;
   Who pardons all your iniquities,
         Who heals all your diseases;

Reading that, I gather that God doesn't limit healing to physical diseases.  That verse says ALL your diseases.

God must be capable and willing to heal emotional illnesses, too.

So my next question is whether or not cynicism and trust issues are emotional illnesses.  I sort of think so.  So if a person prayed for God to heal those issues, I believe that He could and would.

Let us pray.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Long-term Consequences

Sometimes we forget how far-reaching our actions can be, especially in this age of the internet.  Recently, I was smacked in the face with a reminder.

While wishing an old college buddy a happy birthday, I saw a post he had made to another friend from college, whom I hadn't yet reconnected with on Facebook.  Naturally, I clicked on the person's profile, because I enjoy finding out what has happened in people's lives over the past 25 or so years, and I sent him a friend request.  Then I went to look at his photos, curious as to how he had aged.

Imagine my surprise when the first photo to greet me was one of my old Facebook profile pictures.  And imagine my horror when I read the caption under it:  "My ex while attending Geneva Colege [sic], what a winner!" 

That stung for a moment or two, but then it struck me: What had I done to this man that over a quarter of a century later, he still harbored such bitterness toward me?

I sent him a private message, asking that very question, because if I did something, I'd like to offer a belated apology.  I honestly don't recall our dating and breakup as being anything particularly intense or traumatic, so I have no clue. He responded by blocking me on Facebook, so I will probably never know how I offended him.

But this was a good reminder to me that what we do now may have consequences way down the road.

Lord, may I always be mindful that my actions do have consequences, and that a careless word now might still be hurting someone 25 years from now!  Help me to guard my speech and actions so that I will not cause this kind of hurt to someone in the future.

The Answer

I think I have my answer to my most recent question.

Last night at the end of my devotions, I asked God to show me what verse or passage of scripture He wanted me to meditate on this week.  He led me to Philippians 4:7.  Tonight, He expanded that to Philippians 4:5-8.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)

A few themes that seem relevant to my quandry about waiting emerge from this passage.  First, the theme of peace jumped out at me last night.  When I consider waiting, I feel very peaceful;  when I think about diving back into the actively-looking-for-someone dating scene, I feel anxious and unsettled.  I have to note that this is surprising to me.  I am not normally a very patient person, nor do I really like being single with no prospects.  But for this situation, I am content and at peace with the idea of not dating for a while.

Second, the theme of gentleness has been showing up repeatedly.  I just remarked to someone that the fruits of the Spirit I most need right now are patience (I always need that one, LOL!), self-control (another one I am usually lacking), and gentleness.  Gentleness is a new one for me.  It's one I usually don't give much thought to...sort of skim right over that one when I read Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  

Yup, there it is.  And I need it, especially if I am going to be friends with someone who doesn't easily trust people of my gender.

Finally, the theme of "worthiness" pops out at me.  What is worthy of my thoughts?  Well, according to verse 8, whatever is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy" is worthy of my thoughts.  The word "noble" is translated "honorable" in the New American Standard version of the Bible, which is the one I most often use for my devotions.  Interestingly enough, one of the adjectives that fits my friend quite well is "honorable."  Now I may be stretching to say that this means I should think about him, but I don't think it would be stretching to say that a relationship that lives up to those standards is one worth considering.  Perhaps God is showing me a design for the relationship, whether it stays on the friendship-only level or moves to another level someday in the distant future.  At any rate, this is one of the themes I will meditate on this week as I consider this passage.

As a disclaimer:  I realize that this isn't one of my more well-written posts.  But please bear with me.  Perhaps as I meditate on this passage, I will be better able to express my thoughts.  If so, I may revisit this topic later this week.  :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Worth Waiting For?

I have a divorced male friend who is an amazing man.  He loves the Lord passionately, is a great dad to his kids, and is responsible, funny, kind, generous, and to top it all off, sexy.  My kids like him and have suggested that I should have a romantic relationship with him, and I would agree, but for one thing: he has no room for a woman in his life right now.

My friend has major baggage.  His ex-wfie cheated on him, so he has trust issues.  She left him in debt, so he has to work long and hard to pay the bills.  She has abandoned their kids, so he is a full-time dad. 

Oddly enough, I think his luggage matches mine in many ways.  My ex-husband cheated on me, so I have cynicism issues.  He left me in debt (I just found out that his refusal to pay off a debt he was ordered by the court to pay cuts off one very good funding source for me to go to school).  My ex has seen his kids once in the past year, so I am a full-time mom....24/7/365.

I have prayed for and about this friend often lately, and I have the distinct impression that I am to be an instrument of healing in his life.  I don't know exactly how God will use me, but I feel fairly sure that He plans to.

I also have a strong attraction to my friend.  At this point in my life, he is the ONLY single man I know whom I would consider dating. 

So my quandry is this:  How do I know if he is worth waiting for?  And would I be wasting time if I waited and he is never ready or he meets someone else in the meantime?


Saturday, April 2, 2011


We all carry baggage with us.  The thing is, some of us can identify our bags, while others wander around the airport of life not even knowing which baggage claim area to look for their bags in. And then there are those who think they have claimed all their bags, unpacked them, and are now on vacation for the rest of their lives.

Uhm, no.

It just doesn't work that way.  Each time you unpack a bag and toss it to the side, there will be one more there to take its place.  Some will be overweight bags that cost you, while others will be carry-ons that you can deal with easily.

So lately, I have been looking around, trying to figure out what bags I still have left to unpack.  I had myself pretty well convinced that I mainly have carry-ons left from my marriage and divorce.  And then a friend made an off-hand remark that plunked an enormous TRUNK down in the middle of my life.

He said, "You are doing such a good job of self-condemnation, I'd hate to interrupt."

There it was.  I had a huge trunk full of self-condemnation that I needed to unpack.

Funny thing is, I couldn't find the key to the trunk anywhere at first.  But like all lost keys, eventually it showed up in a most unexpected place.  I won't take you down the entire path that led to the key, but I will say that somehow, I got from thinking about The Five Love Languages to finding the key to my trunk full of self-condemnation.

So I opened the trunk.  I expected it to be packed full, as heavy as it was, but it really wasn't.  There were a few little things, some dissatisfaction with my size and my lack of domestic skills and a couple other odds and ends.  But that wasn't what was filling the trunk and weighing it down.  Once I removed those things, I found the weight.  It was the memory of a conversation.

The summer before I found out about my ex-husband's afffair, I said to him one day, "You know, my love language is words of affirmation.  If you could just tell me something you like about me, I would feel loved and so much happier." 

He replied, "I can't do that."

So I pleaded, "Just one thing that is good about me.  Maybe something I have done with the kids, or maybe something you've noticed that I do well.  Maybe you could even just say 'thank you' for something I've done for you recently..."

And he replied again, "I can't.  There isn't anything.  I can't do that."

That memory is the weight at the bottom of my trunk.  I hope that by pulling it out and putting it in the light where everyone can see it, maybe it will lose some of its weightiness.  Maybe it will shrink down to such a small thing that it will no longer be able to support those other odds and ends of self-condemnation that were packed on top of it.

I can only hope so, because I am tired of stubbing my toe on this huge trunk that I have been unaware of until now.

Lord, may I never, ever say something that burdens someone else with a trunk full of self-condemnation.  Help me to speak in love, so that I might be the servant who helps to unpack others' baggage, not the source of what weighs them down.  In Your loving Name I ask this.  Amen.