Pit Avoidance 101

So remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I managed to avoid my annual Pit of Despair during the summer?  I totally promised to tell you about that.  So I am:

If you’ve read for a while or know me at all, then you know I dread summer, and it ain’t the New Orleans heat.  Summers are when my big kids have to go away for a several weeks and…

I.  Hate. It.

Like, deep depression, crying most days, eating everything in sight, hate it.

I miss those babies, what can I say?!?

This year, however, I managed to cope a bit more effectively with my summer emotions.  Here are a few reasons why:

1)  Homemade Vinaigrette.  I’m totally serious.  I got kind of interested in a bunch of homemade things and I made some awesome vinaigrettes this summer.  Most included honey and lime. (How can you beat that?)  I also made some yummy cocktails like key lime pie martini and a salty dog with fresh grapefruit juice.  So. Good.  Not to mention I kept up with my biscuit project and became a Joy the Baker disciple.  With only one kid at home and he had an age 3-sized tummy, it was easier to make grown-up food for dinner without having to coerce anyone into trying what was on the plate.  So, things like arugula pesto went down easy.  And I had fun with the distraction.

2)  Friends.  Not the TV show.  The real kind.  We have some darling friends down the street who invited us like crazy to swim in their gorgeous pool.  I learned a few water aerobics moves, but mostly had a fun place to move my body and have fun with my littlest boy and enjoy time with some great grownups.  And of course our house church friends stick close during summers.  They run straight toward the crazy.  They hover near, show up on weeknights, and call to see if I can have lunch.  I have some long distance heart friends (Christy and my sister) who also video chat and such.  It’s hard to BS when they can see my face. And then there are the girls night friends.  Friends help.  A lot.

3)  I started reading the Bible.  Ha ha!  Like I’ve never done that before!!  Yeah, I’ve totally done that since forever, but not like this.  Untangling myself from Bible reading/study as a vocational requirement has been a little awkward at times.  It all started with the “quiet time” one year at youth camp.  They taught us how to have “time with God” every day and then I had another thing I could be a perfectionist about.  Another thing to add to my “things that make me an awesome Christian” list.   Over the past few years, I’ve questioned it all and picked it all apart and set aside most of the stuff on that list.  BUT… this past April we as a home church started a chronological read through the Bible in a year.  We’re using Youversion.  This time, my journey through scripture has been compelling and nourishing AND completely disconnected from my reputation.  I’ve rarely missed a day, even though I haven’t obsessed about making it happen. It’s been so much fun to connect with God for no other reason than just… to connect with God.  He was my Lifeline, my Safety Net, my Secret Weapon for Pit Avoidance this summer.  It was so natural, so lovely, to have God and His Words to me remain when so many other things have changed.

4)  I prayed.  Again… not a new thing for me.  But this time… you got it… different.  My kids had quite a bit of anxiety about their summer and since my own anxiety nearly swallows me whole, what could I do but grab their hands and pray out loud and trust God to make it ok?  There’s this thing about praying something in front of your kids.  You kind of have to mean it or else what would that teach them?  So I did it.  I threw myself and my darling children on the mercy, the vast and amazing mercy, of God.  I gave up control.  I didn’t know whether He would resolve the anxiety producing situations or whether He would give us extra guts and grace to handle them, but I squeezed my eyes shut and jumped into trust.  I had to do it for my kids.  I had to do it because I’M a kid.  Whatever… it worked.

This is hardly a 12 step or anything.  It’s actually only one-third of a 12 step. (See what I did there? I can do math since I’m a homeschool mom now.)  Heh.  What I’m saying is I don’t mean this to be a formula or anything preachy like that.  It’s simply the real nitty gritty of what got me through one of my most anxiety producing events with WAAAAYYYYY less anxiety than I’ve felt in past years.  This is me, being real with you, about what a sincere but imperfect Christian girl does to try to cope with her dark and scary emotions.  No pie-in-the-sky here.  Nothing lofty or super spiritual fakety fake.  Just me stumblin’ and bumblin’ and grateful for any progress I can make.

So what do you think?  What keeps you out of your pits?


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My Christmas Gift

Christmas Day I got an unexpected gift. It was one of those gifts no one but God could have orchestrated for me. I was feeling a little blue because we had an early Christmas with the big kids before they left for their holiday visit to Florida, so Christmas morning was rather anticlimactic at our house. We are in a time of financial recovery, so there weren’t any big gifts under the tree. Dwayne was working, so little Caleb and I got up and went about getting ready just like any other Sunday morning. We made it to church and I got all set up for the service I would be leading since the Pastor was out of town. I had a few minutes to drink some coffee before time to start, but got to the kitchen to find the percolator had lost it’s “perc” and there was nothing but yellow hot water. I sat in a chair, hoping for a quickly passing morning so Caleb and I could get home and relax. I was in no mood to be making merry.

All of a sudden, I heard a voice behind me and turned around in time to get “bum-rushed” by a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I had heard she recently had moved into her own apartment. Not a surprise to me since I knew of the very difficult marriage situation she has been in for years. I yelled “HEYYYYYY!!!” and we embraced, both of us in tears. There just isn’t anything like the open arms and understanding smile of an old friend.

She just decided on a whim to come by and see me at the church that morning. Well, we all know it wasn’t a whim. She woke up to her first Christmas morning alone. I know what that feels like. She knew I know what that feels like. God knew she needed me and He knew I needed her. We don’t attend the same church anymore or live in the same neighborhood, so we hadn’t seen each other in too long, but as kindred spirits can do, we picked up right where we left off. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get her to come home with me, so we spent Christmas together. Hearing her voice in the congregation, catching up over an awesome Christmas dinner made by my sweetheart (duck, oyster dressing, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, apple pie) and then just lazily baking cookies, snacking, and having coffee as other friends stopped by the house. We laughed, talked, ate, baked, laughed, talked, ate, and baked some more. She went home long after dark with hugs and, I hope, a warm heart. I certainly was left with one.

My first Christmas alone included a visit to a church service where the pastor commanded everyone to kiss his or her spouse. I stood there alone feeling horribly rejected, disgusting, useless and gross. But God brings beauty out of ashes. Because I knew what a terrible feeling a first Christmas alone can be, there was nothing more natural to me than to give someone else a better first Christmas alone. I’m THRILLED that my sweet friend knew where to go. She knew whose arms would be open. Believe me, in this town, she could have easily found a party anywhere. What an honor to have been her safe place.

This is my calling. It may have taken on different forms. It may look way less Beth Moore-ey than I expected, but it hasn’t changed. I once thought God calling me to minister meant that He would use me in one certain way. For a while, He did use me just as I expected He would. Then… well, then things changed, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that God isn’t or won’t use me anymore. What a gift it was at Christmas to know that He is not finished with me. No nasty divorce, no hurricane, no crazy job, no amount of stress has taken away God’s ability to use me.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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