My Week of Interviews – And Sharing One with You!

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Mother’s Day was certainly unique this year due of the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, the week leading up to Mother’s Day was interesting as it was full of video interviews and preparations for various opportunities to share my story.

  • I recorded an interview with a local pastor (and friend of mind) for his Mother’s Day message
  • I recorded an interview with my local church that was used for the sermon application
  • I did a Facebook LIVE interview with my cousin, who is a children’s pastor in Erie, Pennsylvania where we talked about parenting during this pandemic
  • And I did an interview with author and speaker (any my personal friend) Sara R. Ward, for a Mothering Strong Under Stress Virtual Summit
  • Then, I found out that an interview I recorded last fall was set to air on Mother’s Day as well. 

I felt like a “virtual movie star!” Haha! Thankfully, in “real time,” I was able to stay in my pj’s on Mother’s Day to watch these things from my family room. Then, my family made me lunch and we had a wonderful, relaxing day together. Yay for pre-recordings!

I wanted to share one these interviews with you today. I am grateful to Mitch Kruse of Restoration Road for this opportunity. I hope it encourages you!

Feel free to share and send me your feedback! I love hearing from you!

Have a great weekend!

Christy

Mothering Strong Under Stress

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Hi friends,

I’d love to personally invite you to this virtual event. I am so honored to be a presenter, but even more, I’m exited to listen to and learn from the other ladies. 

This is a FREE event, and all you need to do is sign up at the link below to receive emails with the video interviews. You can watch them on your own time.

We hope this will encourage you during this crazy and difficult season – and beyond. 

Christy

Mothering Strong Under Stress: A Virtual Summit for Moms
 
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Stressed Out? Need some motivation?
 
In this three-day motherhood summit, you’ll receive a daily dose of encouragement to help you navigate motherhood’s challenges. Through exclusive interviews with six authors (who are moms too!) you’ll learn about mothering strong under stress, finding joy in the unexpected, and raising resilient kids.
 
Sign up and you’ll get all the information you need to access the Mothering Strong Summit on May 6-8.
 
Best of all, you can watch the summit on your own schedule.
 
I’m very honored to be included as a presenter.
 
Sign up here to save your seat:
 

When the Anchor is Secure, But the Ship is Falling Apart

Copy of When It Is well with your soul, but not the rest of you-2

“I just want something to hang my hat on!” I whined to my husband. The funny thing is, before that moment, I’d probably never uttered that phrase in my entire life. I definitely wasn’t wearing a hat. This quarantine seems to be leading us to say and do new things.

But, I meant it. I was telling my husband that I was having a rough day and felt sad about not having plans I could look forward to and count on.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to things. I’m not just the type of person who makes plans and puts dates on the calendar, but one who truly and enthusiastically looks forward to those things.  You could say I hang my hat, and my hope, on what’s to come.

And to be honest, that has been a difficult aspect of this current season for me. Because right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m not sure what I can look forward to. What plans can I really count on? Where can I hang my imaginary hat?

I am in a mental void of sorts. What I’m missing is hope.

The funny thing is, my eternal hope is strong and secure. I long for Heaven and truly trust God in the midst of this pandemic. I know that He is in sovereign control, and deep down, that is all I need for peace and hope. It really is. But in the day-to-day temporary and earthly moments, I am struggling.

I’ve thought about this a lot, trying to make some sense of it. I feel guilty that I struggle when so many others have circumstances much worse than my own. I feel guilty that I struggle because there are so many blessings in my life. I feel guilty when I struggle because I do have such wonderful, secure, eternal hope. What is my problem?

But in the course of my struggle, when I’m being honest with myself about my feelings and “humanness,” several passages from the Bible come to mind. They help me put a mental picture to my issues, and perhaps fill up the void I’ve been experiencing with some clarity.

One passage is Acts chapter 27. I recently read and discussed this passage via Zoom with my Bible Study Fellowship group. We recapped the facts first: Paul was a prisoner who was being taken to Rome via sea for trial. On the way, a “northeaster,” a hurricane force wind, came upon them and the whole crew, including the other prisoners, thought they were going to die. They had tried several things to save themselves. They had run ropes around the ship to attempt to hold it together, they had thrown down the anchor hoping it would keep them from hitting a sandbar, they had thrown their cargo overboard, and after those efforts failed, they lost their temporary and earthly hope.

Then, Paul encourages them by telling them, “…not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” He goes on to explain that the night before, an angel had stood beside him (I like that detail, it’s comforting!) and had given him a message of hope.

“Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”

Paul then tells the crew, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:22-26)

They are to take courage, if they stay with the ship they will be saved. But this is not a time when Jesus calms the storm. This is a time when the storm keeps raging and Jesus saves those who are in the midst of it.

As we discussed the passage, I pictured the scene in my mind, and honestly, it had me on the verge of seasickness. I could feel the ship rocking, the pounding waves, and the relentless noisy wind. I would have hated those conditions! Compared to my current circumstances it’s quite the contrast! My “ship” is a comfortable house, firmly planted on the ground, stocked with food, and not containing prisoners, but my loved-ones. Yet, my temporary and earthly hope has been shaken. I am continually disappointed when plans are “thrown overboard” and lost. I want something tangible to hang my imaginary hat upon, and yet those things are being blown by the relentless winds of change.

My eternal hope is secure, yet my earthly hope is shaken. This is a time when the storm keeps raging and Jesus saves me in the midst of it.

This brings me to another passage of Scripture, Hebrews 16. In this passage, God is talking about His promises to us, and how they are trustworthy. He will not change or let us down. Verse 19a says, “ We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

It seems we’re back to the ship analogy. The anchor represents our hope. My eternal hope is what holds me safely and keeps me where I need to be. But I realize that even when an anchor is thrown out, the ship is still tossed about. The storms of life can still cause pounding and pain and lead to struggles with temporary and earthly hope. This is what I’m experiencing now, as I try to hang my imaginary hat on something that will be rock solid. It’s not working because I’m being tossed about by the winds of change and confusion and unknown. I’m feeling a bit seasick.

But just like Paul and his shipmates, I must stay with the ship to be saved, but I may experience some pain while I wait.

My eternal hope in Christ is secure. The anchor holds and that will not change. However, my earthly ship is getting a little beat up right now. I think it’s okay to admit that. I think it’s okay to feel a little sick about it. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

So, in this temporary and earthly storm, there is no perfect trite answer that’s going to make it all better. It’s not looking like one of those moments where Jesus says, “Peace, be still,” and it’s just over and everything is calm. (Mark 4:39). Instead, it looks like our ship is getting pretty tattered. There is no earthly place I can hang my hat right now and be certain it is there to stay. No, the ship is being tossed and thrown about and it’s rough. At times I think I will lose my hat, and my lunch, over the edge.

But I’m going to stay with the ship. My anchor is secure. My eternal hope will not disappoint me. And I can take courage that God is with me, right beside me. And I’ll forget about my hat for a while and instead, lean my head on Him.

 

 

When It Is Well with Your Soul, But Not with the Rest of You

When It Is well with your soul, but not the rest of you

I remember the somber voices singing at my mother’s funeral. I sat beside my dad, near the front of the church, as the crowd behind us led and echoed the chorus of the hymn “It Is Well.”

It Is Well

             It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And though I was a child, a fifth grade girl sitting in shock and grief near her mother’s casket, I understood. Deep down, I knew it was true. The pain was almost unbearable, the confusion made it difficult to breath, and the sadness felt like it would overtake me, but yet I could not deny those words were truth.

It was well with my soul.

I knew God, and I trusted Him. I didn’t have a clue why He’d allow such a tragedy in my life, but in my very core, when I looked past the tears and the heartbreak, I knew I didn’t have to understand my circumstances for God to still be good, and for it to be well.

But the understanding that it was well was so far buried in my soul, that the rest of me struggled to bring it to light.  

My mind, emotions, and actions strained to see it.

My soul knew it was well, but the peace, trust, and hope that wellness could potentially produce were being held hostage in my soul’s white-knuckled grip. My mind, emotions, and actions could not wrestle it away for more than a few brief moments. It wasn’t greed that caused my soul to hold wellness at bay, but instead a desperate need to possess the truth at all.

My mind, emotions, and actions fought to grasp it.

My mind raced with fear and worry. My brain showed me horror films of more traumas I feared were to come. Would my dad die young too? Would my brother and I be left alone? Would I know how to grow into a woman without a mom to show me the way?

My emotions were in shambles. Sometimes I cried at the drop of a hat, and other times I laughed without understanding what was funny. I couldn’t rein in my emotions. Instead, many days they ruled me.

My actions simply followed the suit of my mind and emotions. Some days I’d find myself calmly executing normal mundane tasks; like homework. It felt the same as before the tragedy. Other days, nothing felt the same. I found myself in the hallway at school confiding in my teacher about my fears and concerns before even realizing I’d made the choice to talk to her.

My soul knew it was well, but my mind, emotions, and actions continued the daily struggle to concur.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic I find myself in a similar state of internal grappling. No longer a little girl sitting in a pew, but a grown woman sitting at home with my own family, the statement and subsequent echo still ring true.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

My soul once again can confidently proclaim that I know, deep down, everything is going to be okay. No matter what happens, no matter how long we are sheltered in place, no matter what losses are suffered, no matter if, or when, vaccines become available. It is well.

But once again, my mind, emotions, and actions are limping along behind, social distancing from my soul.

My mind races. It’s well trained for such events, where worry and anxiety thrive. What if a loved one is exposed to the virus? What if we have to cancel things we’ve been looking forward to for months? What if our economy cannot recover?

My emotions are all over the map, though I’ve hardly left my house. I’ve acted so silly and laughed until my stomach hurt over a card game, and then choked back tears while watching my child mourn the loss of her fifth grade musical performance.

My actions are sporadic too. One day I feel the need to clean and organize our home, to take advantage of this time. As I’m doing these mundane tasks, things feel much like they did before COVID-19 dictated our lives. Another day, everything feels heavy and new. I decide I’ll eat ice cream and sit and stare at nothing.

When my soul knows it is well, but the rest of me lags behind, I have to remind myself of this:

My soul knows it is well.

Though sluggish and tattered, the rest of me will follow what my soul knows. It may take time, and perhaps some forgiveness and grace, but one day, the rest of me will catch up with soul. It will be a happy reunion, where hugs are not only allowed, but encouraged.

As a teenager, it happened for me. I can’t name a date, time, or a specific reason, but I eventually found my mother’s death was well with my soul… and with the rest of me. The pain and grief didn’t come to an end, but my mind stopped racing, my emotions were more stable, and my actions jumped on the bandwagon too. Time and grace were big contributors to the wholeness.

And I know it will happen again. I don’t know when or what will cause it, but eventually, I will find this pandemic, and all of its subsequent effects, are well with my soul… and the rest of me too.

Until then, I’m going to leave plenty of space for time and grace. And, I’ll keep encouraging my soul to sing.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And I’ll wait for the rest of me to join the chorus.

This Too Shall Pass, But What Will Remain: PART 2

I chuckled at the stranger’s tweet.  The words brought me a moment of joy in the midst of these crazy Coronavirus days. The Twitter user shared that their child had asked if “Daddy had lived through COVID 1 to 18 when he was a little kid.” How sweet… and how sad.

The truth is, none of us have done this before. No one. We are all learning as we go. Each day brings fresh understanding, and new questions. Each morning, we read updated guidelines based on new statistics. Each evening presents a dichotomy of hope and fear.

In the midst of all of this confusion, there are those of us (myself included) who are adding our voices to the sea of those trying to make sense of it all. We write blogs, post videos, make graphs, share photos, and more in hopes to find some meaning and purpose in these days.

And it’s wonderful.

I’m grateful for those who are presenting ideas and virtual help. Indeed these things are a gift!

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I lived through a three-year period of isolation and social distancing due to our toddler son’s cancer diagnosis and compromised immune system. That was 2007-2010. Even though that really was not very long ago, I didn’t have many of the “modern” conveniences that we have now. For example, I wasn’t on any form of social media during those days. I was so isolated and had very little idea what was going on in the lives of friends. I shared about this in my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels:

Social media had not yet taken off, so I did not have Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms where I could keep my finger on the pulse of society and the happenings of my friends. The isolation left me out of the loop. One of my girlfriends, Amy, recognized this and began to send me weekly emails she entitled, “The Society Pages.” These updates made me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud, as she humorously informed me of news she thought I’d wish to know. This ranged from the story of a mutual friend who had recently received a traffic ticket for not wearing his seatbelt in the passenger seat, to news about a girlfriend who was due with a baby any day and her antics to start labor. She was considering drinking castor oil, but hadn’t yet brought herself to do it. I read the list of possible baby names for that little one, details of a remodeling project at our church, a friend struggling with her thyroid, and a couple whose water meter had burst and flooded their garage. And I was delighted to be part of it all, even if just in the reading of Amy’s words. She offered me social media before its time, without the annoying political rants and recipes. These emails filled a need for me, and I loved them. She cared for my soul, and it only took a little bit of time, and an Internet connection.

So, let me be clear that I LOVE the added connection technology has provided. That being said, there is something I keep thinking about that I want to share. Yes, I’m adding my voice to the din again.

Sometimes the opinions we hear and the posts we see add unrealistic expectations to our lives. 

It’s a new form of peer pressure, virtual pandemic pressure, if I may. We think we should be accomplishing what she is, teaching what he is, upgrading like they are, etc.

In This Too Shall Pass, But What Will Remain: Part 1, I shared 3 “G” words that helped me during our son’s cancer days; Grieve, Gratitude, and Give. Basically, I shared that I had learned to grieve what was lost, have gratitude for what I still had, and give back when I was able.

I stand by these three G’s and think that the process of grieving, having gratitude, and giving back is a continual cycle we all need to keep working through. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But, I’d like to add 2 more “G’s” to the formula. I think these new “G’s” help give it some added health. If we don’t add these two G’s to the cycle, the gear can get stuck when trying to spin. These two round it out and make it run much more smoothly.

Go on and Grace. 

First, Go on. Live. Simply just keep breathing. I know that many of us are trying to draw every lesson we can out of this time. I confess, this is me. This is a major “pot calling the kettle black instance” for me. I am not one to waste a moment, whether it be good or bad. (Um… my entire first book is based on this idea). I savor and I strive to learn and grow. This is okay, BUT, sometimes we just need to live. We have to go through the moment instead of around it in order to draw from it. 

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, and in a way it felt like deja vu to me. As my daughters cut out paper palm branches and we did an online “Hosanna lesson,” my mind flashed back 13 years ago when our son, now too old for children’s church, was sick and isolated on another Palm Sunday. That day in 2007 we didn’t have an online church service, but we held one of our own at the kitchen table. My husband, son, and I cut out paper palm branches that morning as well. We made it through and found joy and worship in 2007, and we made it through in a different but similar way to joy and worship in 2020. Paper and scissors and a little effort were enough both times.

So, make the best of it today. Live right where you are, sheltered in place, six feet away from others.

Go on. Just be YOU and live in your own way where you are. 

And while you’re going on, give yourself and those around you some GRACE!

If you are a healthcare worker or other essential worker, your life has not suddenly become more still, but has gotten more stressful than ever! We are so thankful for your time and talent. You are amazing! Give yourself some grace if you are doing nothing more than what is essential. You aren’t getting house projects done or playing games with your kids. And that is okay. What you ARE doing is helping many people do those very things you are missing.

If you are working from home and trying to hang on to your job and your laptop while trouble-shooting your teen’s math homework and breaking up a fight over Pop-Tarts amongst your children (speaking from experience here), give yourself some grace! You didn’t seize the moment today? Guess what? No problem. Take a deep breath and try again next time. We are not going for perfection here, we are going for grace. And grace is a much better companion.

We are not failing if we simply make it through this pandemic. No! Simply making it through this pandemic is the goal!

If we don’t capitalize on every moment, glean from every change, or produce something beautiful from every scrap, that is okay. Those things are bonuses! Extras! Wonderful gifts! But let’s not throw out the baby with the hand sanitizer, the goal is to do our best, not be perfect. And grace makes this possible.

Go on, and as you do, give yourself and others grace.

GRIEVE, BE GRATEFUL, GIVE BACK, GO ON, GRACE…

It’s a cycle. Let’s keep it moving individually and together.

And we’ll be ready to face COVID-20 to 100!

This Too Shall Pass, But What Will Remain? PART 1

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As the COVID-19 virus continues to affect our world and our daily lives, I have been reminded of another time in my own life when my plans were canceled, and fear of the unknown loomed heavy. As I’ve reflected on that time, I’ve been comforted by the reminder of lessons learned.

Because these lessons were derived from pain and trial, I certainly don’t want to take them lightly or waste them by not applying them when they could once again be relevant and uplifting. Therefore, it is with that heart and motive that I share these thoughts with you.

In 2007, my husband and I were told that our then only child, our two-year-old son, Karson, had cancer. Our toddler entered a three-year chemotherapy regimen involving port chemo, oral chemo, steroids, 22 spinal taps, injections, and more. Karson’s immune system was hit hard, and we therefore had to self-quarantine for months on end. We spent the first year of his treatment in very strict quarantine; wiping down surfaces and hand sanitizing became second nature to us. We practiced social distancing, even with relatives, and we kept in touch by sending VHS tapes of cousins playing and chatting before the days of FaceTime would have made this much easier! I remember looking at my calendar during those years and having absolutely nothing scheduled other than chemo or clinic appointments.

If you had told me, before that dreadful day of Karson’s diagnosis, that I would basically have to cancel my life, I would have told you I couldn’t do it.

If you had told my busy and social self that I’d have to stay home and away from friends and family for the sake of potentially saving someone else’s life, I would have doubted if I could make the right choices to comply.

If you would have told me that many hardships were in my future, the stuff of parenthood nightmares, I may have fallen into the fetal position and begged it not to be so.

And yet, through those three years of pain, isolation, fear, and unknowns, there was goodness too.  There was mixture of tears and laughter, dread and hope, exhaustion and persistence.

And three responses rose to the top of the heap of emotions.

Grief, gratitude, and giving.

I grieved. Oh, did I grieve! I grieved the loss of life as I knew it. I was sad that I would not experience the normal “preschool life” with my little boy. He would not be allowed to have the typical play dates and parties that his buddies enjoyed. And neither would I. I would miss out on many events, and my dreams were shoved to the back burner.

The grief would come in waves. Some days I’d feel in control. I’d be okay. I’ve got this. I can do this. I’d think. Other days, I knew I could not. It was unpredictable and often, life felt surreal. But, I learned to look grief in the eye and call it by name. I didn’t have to like it, but I needed to acknowledge it. How else could I move forward if I did not acknowledge it as a barrier to my healing?

Now, with the changes to our lives and plans due to the Coronavirus, I think we need to grieve. It’s okay to give yourself permission to be sad. I’ve heard of family vacations to Disney being canceled, anniversary trips to Italy sidelined, senior athletic seasons being abruptly cut short. It hurts. These things are heartbreaking and deserve to be grieved. Grief is not reserved for death alone. Grief is valid for any loss. And so I think we should grieve these personal losses, and the changes brought on by this new period of quarantine and social distancing.  If they aren’t worth grieving, were they really worth doing in the first place?

In between the waves of grief throughout our long cancer journey, I also experienced swells of gratitude. I learned to be thankful for things to which I’d never before given much thought.  A late night playing with toys on the family room floor by the light of the Christmas tree with my little boy who was healthy enough to use his imagination and laugh. Friends who took the time to bring a fast food meal to my front door. The fact we lived in a world where our son could have access to medication and benefit from brilliant minds who commit their time to research.

Gratitude was a game changer for me. It rerouted my train of thought from self-pity to the realization of the gifts I already possessed.

Today, in the midst of the chaos of COVID-19, I hope we can all strive to be grateful. We can hope to spread something that is not viral, a new perspective and goal of aiming to find the good in the difficult. To realize the gifts we have in 2020. Internet connections, which allow virtual meetings, emails, video games, and e-learning. What an amazing opportunity to connect and dream together about how to not just survive, but thrive. Our virtual capabilities are now our reality. Thank goodness we have such a wonderful ability! Board games, television, face-to-face conversations with our quarantine pals, phone calls, books. These things are all gifts. Have we noticed how wonderful they are recently? Have we been thankful for them or have we been taking them for granted? And once again, I’m so thankful for those who dedicate their time and talent to finding treatments, tests, and cures for our ill. It’s impossible for me to fully express my gratitude to these selfless and brilliant individuals.

And finally, the third response that rose out of the fire of our childhood cancer journey was the desire to give. Obviously, I first wanted to give all that was needed to my son. I gave him love, syringes full of medication, rides to the ER, and mashed potatoes at 3:00am when his little steroid-filled body craved them. But I learned to not just think of our family and myself, but to see the bigger picture. There were many families on the 5th floor of our children’s hospital who fought cancer just like us. Many had it worse than we did, and my heart broke for them. I wanted to give back when the timing was right, and in the years since we climbed out of the cancer trenches, wounded, but not lifeless, we have given back. We’ve served on committees, shared our story in front of crowded gymnasiums and banquet halls, attended chemo appointments with other sick children, answered the questions of panicked parents who are following in our path, donated our money, and more. And I don’t say that to get credit or recognition. I say this to show you that the desire to give grew out of pain. And it produced beautiful fruit!

In the midst of this pandemic, I hope we can all remember to give. We can remember there is a bigger picture. It’s not all about us. There are many who are weak and marginalized who can use our help. Part of that help looks like us following directions to quarantine and utilize social distancing. Part of that help may be leaving some items on the shelves once we have enough. Not plenty, but enough, so that others can get what they need as well. Some of that giving may be with your own children while they do their schooling at home. What atmosphere are you creating in your home in which they are learning? Is it one of panic, dread, and complaining, or one of hope despite grief and gratitude despite disappointment?

In April of 2010, our son received his last dose of chemotherapy. That too did pass. Now he’s 15, cancer-free, and healthy. We didn’t know this would be our happy ending when we first heard his diagnosis. We didn’t know that someday he’d be a tall, smart, and happy high school student instead of a chubby, bald and sickly child. But our journey did come to an end. We eventually returned to our regularly scheduled life, though we were changed tremendously through the battle. We learned many things, not the least of which were three main responses: grief, gratitude, and giving.

This Coronavirus pandemic will someday be finished as well. We’ll look back at these weeks and months and tell our next generations about our losses and quarantine adventures. This too shall pass. It’s true. And what do you we want to remain? What will rise to the top of the heap when all the dust settles?

For me, I hope to once again find I’ve learned to grieve, have gratitude, and give. Lessons far too precious to waste.

On Fear and Falling Shoes

Hi friends,

With the current state of our world, and the unknown effects of the Coronavirus, many people are gripped with fear and anxiety. I get it. I can fall into the same trap, and it’s a dreadful way to live! But, there are truths we can remind ourselves of to help us guard against fear and turn to peace instead. Peace. Doesn’t that sound nice?

This is an excerpt from the “Worry and Anxiety” chapter of my book, If Only It Were a Piece of Cake. Yes, I struggle with worry and anxiety enough to write an entire chapter about it! I told you I can relate! This is only part of the chapter, an excerpt! But, maybe it will encourage your heart today.

You’re not alone! We can do this together!

Christy

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On Fear

 

I stood frozen and unblinking. I held my breath, trying to listen. Trying to prepare for the moment of impact. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And it did.

It was a size-five boys black dress shoe, to be exact, hitting the ceramic tile on the lower floor of our home.

I had already heard what I surmised to be the first shoe dropping.

Thhuuuuumpp!!

In that super-speed mom-brain mode that can think faster than the Road Runner can get away from Wile E. Coyote, I knew what had happened. It was a Sunday morning, and our then seven-year-old son was getting dressed for church. I knew I had laid out his black dress shoes. I also knew that since recently moving into a home with a second-story landing, that our son discovered a newfound interest in gravity. I thought I had made it clear that no “hard objects” were to be dropped below, but with seven-year-old boys I should have been a bit more specific.

So I waited. I waited for the other shoe to drop. It thumped as loudly as the first, and the sound reverberated off the walls and tile floor. I twisted shut the lid to my mascara and placed it back in the drawer. Then I found Karson in the hallway. We reviewed the “landing rule.” Dropping hard objects is not good for the walls, floor, objects being dropped, or little sisters who happen to be standing below. Lesson learned, it appeared, and so we moved on with our Sunday morning.

But, as I was blowing my hair dry, I thought about it some more. I had literally just waited for the other shoe to drop. I figuratively do it so often that it was interesting to actually experience it for real!

I sometimes use the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop” when trying to explain how I feel about fear. I struggle with fearing what big, hard trial will happen next in my life.

I’ve had some whoppers of a “shoe drop” in my past. My mother’s sudden death when I was in fifth grade. A cancer diagnosis for our two-year-old son. Miscarriages. These things all contribute to my struggle with fear.

Because I know that shoes do fall, when things are going well, I sometimes find myself waiting for the next one to smack the floor. Before I know it, I’m frozen, unblinking, and holding my breath. Instead of enjoying life and living in the moment, I’m listening. I’m waiting for that figurative other shoe. It can be torturous.

The accessibility I have to the Internet worsens this for me. Maybe this is true for other shoe-waiters as well. I find myself scrolling through Facebook, or reading the news headlines, and suddenly fear seizes me. It’s like hypochondria, only broader to encompass things beyond the health-related. Fearing that all of the awful headlines I read or hear about are going to happen to me. A school shooting at my child’s school, a giant sinkhole suddenly opening in my front yard and swallowing up someone I love, a deadly nuclear attack in my neighborhood, an outbreak the CDC is warning about sweeping through my city, a deranged and deadly alligator on my back patio (I live in Indiana). I imagine it all in detail.

Twitter also poses a problem for me in the sense that it’s so blunt and time specific. I follow my local news stations on Twitter, and they report traffic accidents in 280 characters or less. They frankly state that there has been a crash on a specific road and sometimes they throw in the two words, “with injuries.” I am affected and afflicted by these tweets. I cannot simply scroll past them without caring. I worry that someone I know was involved in the crash. I worry for those who were injured. My worrisome thoughts exceed 280 characters, without a cut off.

Speaking of being cut off, Kraig told me one evening that he was going outside to fix the riding lawn mower and to install a new belt on the mower deck. My immediate response was, “Please don’t cut your arms off.” I was serious. He was going to be working near a sharp blade. Granted, the chances of him actually cutting his arms off, especially both arms, seems pretty drastic, but I needed to issue this warning anyway. As with most every time I make such a ridiculous statement of concern, Kraig responded with, “Oh, thanks. I was planning to cut my arms off, but now I won’t.” Then he rolls his eyes, winks, and walks away. I’m glad I’m getting through to him.

I hate, I repeat, hate, living in this state of mind. Worry and anxiety are lies, and they steal from my peace and joy. But, knowing this doesn’t change the fact that I deal with their ugliness on a regular basis. That’s why it’s a struggle…

Time progresses, but the passage of time doesn’t automatically fix things. It doesn’t end the struggle. Sometimes it just changes the scenery for the battle. The fear and worry fight is a daily one for me. Actually, and unfortunately, more than daily. But I’ve learned it helps if I remind myself of two things when it comes to fighting fear and worry.

One, is this: the other shoe is going to drop.

I know, it’s difficult. But, we all know it’s true. This life is full of disappointment, hardships, and trial. No one is exempt. There are going to be some falling shoes, Chicken Little. You’re just going to have to accept that fact and be thankful it’s not the entire sky.

But, as depressing as the first point is, the second point helps.

Two, I believe in and serve an Almighty God who never allows a “shoe to drop” without it passing through his sovereign, merciful hands.

We’re getting into some deep theology here. We’re opening the discussion about God allowing evil and pain. That’s a tough one. Why would He do such a thing?

I’m not a theologian. I have a simple mind and a simple faith. And so if you’re looking for mind-blowing intellect, you’re reading the wrong book. I’ve already referenced Chicken Little, the Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote in this section. Hardly John Wesley-level thinking. But, what I do have is a relationship with the God of this universe. I know Him. I don’t claim to understand Him completely, but, I do know what He says to be true about Himself.

God is the inventor of love and life. He’s the one who thought them up. He then put them into practice by creating us. He loves us. Truly. Deeply. Enough to give us life.

But we, us stinking humans, brought sin into this world by our own free will and choosing, and through a couple who just couldn’t keep their little hands off a piece of forbidden fruit. Before we speak too harshly about Adam and Eve, let’s remember we probably would have been the ones to do it if it had been us in that garden. I won’t speak for you, but I know I’m a rotten sinner, I don’t even need a forbidden fruit tree to prove it.

When sin entered the world, the world broke. It wasn’t created for sin and death. Sin leads to death and death just doesn’t sit well with us. I think that’s why death hurts so much. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. We weren’t created for death.

But with sin and death come tragedies and pain. A lot of shoes have fallen throughout history and they have caused significant damage.

Now God, who is perfect, is still in control. That’s what He tells us in His Word. Romans 8 is a good place to start reading if you want to see what He said about this through the apostle Paul.

God could stop every shoe from falling this very second if He wanted to. But instead, He allows them to pass through His sovereign hands. Why? Well, I can’t answer that completely. But, I do know those shoes, and their ensuing pain, have led me closer to God and have helped me to recognize my need for Him. The pain and hurt remind us that we live in a broken world that is not our home. A quote credited to C.S. Lewis (see, I can discuss theology without using cartoon references) says, “The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.”

As foreigners in this broken world, we long for home. At least we should. Maybe sometimes God uses those awful shoes that fall to help us yearn for Him. Like I said, I can’t explain it all, but I believe it. And I find comfort in it.

When I find myself in fear and worry mode (more often than I’d like to admit) and realize I’m missing life because I’m holding my breath and listening for the impact of a falling shoe, I remember point number two. God is still in control. He is only going to allow what He knows is good and perfect in His sovereign way. I don’t know how He does it, but I trust Him.

Furthermore, I think about the fact that God allowed a gigantic shoe to fall on His own Son, Jesus. Perhaps now I’m taking this analogy a bit too far. Can’t you just hear the preschoolers telling their mommies and daddies that Jesus was squashed by a giant sandal? Crushed by a sole to save my soul? On a hill far away stood an old rugged Croc? I digress.

Let me start over with this point.

God allowed His own Son, Jesus, to be murdered by the very people He created. God allowed horrible things to happen to His Son on our behalf. God allowed Jesus, who had no sin, to suffer because of our sin. He did this so that those of us who believe, repent, and accept His sacrifice can someday live eternally in a world without pain. That’s the gospel, folks. It really is that simple.

What’s more, in the meantime, before we experience the wonder of God’s presence in Heaven, we have His presence with us here on Earth. God’s faithfulness, provision, unconditional love, mercy, grace, and hope are always available to me. Now. Today! By choosing to acknowledge and accept them, I can start to conquer that stupid worry and fear. I can thaw out from the frozen stances of waiting for a shoe to drop, and instead move and blink again. I can live! I can even take a deep breath knowing that no matter what shoe drops, God is in control, and He will be with me through it.

I don’t know when the next shoe will hit the ground near me. I hope it’s a flip-flop or something light, but I don’t get to make that choice. I do, however, get to choose how I’ll live in the meantime.

Am I going to waste my time worrying about the future and being frozen with fear, or am I going to live joyfully and fully while trusting in my Sovereign Lord?

I know, I know. It’s easy to say, and much more difficult to live. I understand. I’m right there with you in the trenches trying to make this trust a habit in my every moment. I’m desperately working to replace worry and fear with peace and joy. I certainly haven’t perfected it, but I’m nothing if not persistent. I’m going to keep at it. We can do this together.

A boy’s dress shoe began this mental dialogue and had such a profound impact on my thinking. In the future, I hope that’s the only place Karson’s shoes make impact!

“But It’s Not Like Last Time!”: Finding Joy in Unmet Expectations and Change

Remember this?

Her face was red and wet with tears. Her fists were clenched and she was shaking her head spastically making her blonde hair flail around her head. She continued to whine and complain, but I could barely understand her words through her deep sobs. She was having a full-fledged meltdown.

Baggage was to blame.

No, not figurative baggage, as in difficult life circumstances that travel with us from our pasts into our future, I mean baggage, as in, our suitcases.

My 9-year-old daughter, Kenzie, was sitting in the one back row seat of our van that we had not folded down so as to have more room for our luggage. The van was still snuggly parked in our garage, and we were testing out the seating arrangements for our twenty-hour drive to Florida. This would be our second year taking a Spring Break vacation as a family of five. There was a lot of stuff shoved into our minivan: golf clubs, suitcases, beach chairs, snacks. Kenzie was surrounded by all of it in this trial run of making sure we could get everything in the van, including the kids.

Kenzie wasn’t crying because she was crowded or uncomfortable, she was crying because the suitcases were not close enough to her.

Sob. “Last year when I sat here the suitcases were right up against me!” Sob. “That was one of my favorite parts of the drive.” Sob. “I want it to be just like last year!” Wail.

There are moments in parenthood where you lose your cool. There are also moments when you’re overjoyed with your child. Then there are moments like this one when you’re just plain confused.

“So you’re telling me that you’re throwing a fit right now because the golf clubs are closer to you than the suitcases?” I said with a bit of a growl in voice.

Sob. “Yes! I want the suitcases to be closer to me so it’s just like last year!”

And thus began year two’s vacation where we frequently heard the phrase, “but last year we ___________ (fill in the blank).

My kids are huge fans of tradition. They savor life and enjoy each season and activity that comes with it. Each fall, they want to make a trip to the same apple orchard. Each Christmas, they want to hang the garland on the banister just like we did the year before. They love each tradition and have big hopes, expectations, and emotions involved in each one.

Speaking of apple orchards… the apple has not fallen very far from the tree. I wish I could say my husband was the tradition-lover who has thus modeled big feelings toward repeating expectations, but he ain’t that tree, folks.

I’m going to have to take the blame on this one. This baggage comes with me.

I love tradition, and I have a lot of hopes riding on expectations. And for many reasons, I’m going to say that’s a fine way to live. We tradition-lovers are also big on noticing and appreciating things, and we are often full of gratitude. If I do say so myself, we can be really lovely people to be around when traditions and plans go as scheduled.

But hitching our hopes to tradition and expectations can sometimes lead to a bumpy ride when plans come unhinged.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to recalibrate when it comes to traditions and expectations. Just as an infant is trained to self-soothe when she cries in her crib and no one comes to pick her up immediately, I’ve learned to self-soothe when expectations turn into disappointments. I’ve come to understand that joy can still be found in the changes, even if joy seems to be wearing a disguise.

Our first year in Florida, we went to a beach on a beautiful intercostal waterway where we found about a dozen whole sand dollars. It was amazing, and the kids loved these fragile sea treasures. But on our second trip, when we returned to the same beach, the wind was strong and the choppy water churned in a way that made it impossible to find any sand dollars. The kids were super disappointed.

But, as we walked along a different beach, we found some really cool shark teeth, a treasure we hadn’t found the year before. I capitalized on this and starting saying a five-word phrase each time one of the kids, or myself, would let disappointment creep in over a failed expectation or change.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Guys! Think about it! Both are treasures! So we didn’t find sand dollars this year, kids. But, we found shark teeth! How cool is that? It doesn’t have to be just like last time to be good.

“But last year ate at that one restaurant that had the popcorn shrimp!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But last year we made those apple pies!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But it’s our tradition to have cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

And this doesn’t just help my kids deal with changes and unmet expectations. It helps me!

When my second book launched and it didn’t go the same as the first book had, I repeated “sand dollars and shark teeth” in my mind often. It was a mantra to remind myself that it didn’t have to be just like last time to be successful or good.

When my child’s schoolteacher didn’t run their classroom the same way my older child’s classroom was operated when they were in that same grade, I had to recalibrate. Wait, I thought I knew what to expect and how this was going to work! But it’s okay. Sand dollars and shark teeth.

When holiday plans changed last minute due to illnesses or activities beyond my control my gut reaction was, “this won’t be as good as last year.” But maybe it was. We made new memories! Sand dollars and shark teeth.

I’m going to be honest, Kenzie’s meltdown over not sitting close enough to the suitcases was a little over the top for me. I did not initially understand her response and I got pretty upset with her.

But after a week of finding zero sand dollars and realizing that unmet expectations and change were the reason for her tears, I understood a little more. I didn’t let her off the hook for behaving like she did, but I file the realization away in my mind.

“But, it’s not like last time!” can be baggage that travels with each of us. I get it. I’m a frequent flier in this club. But just because it’s different, changed, or not what we expected doesn’t mean it can’t still be good.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Tuck that phrase away in your baggage.

Home Base.

When I was 10 years old, my dad took the position of pastor at Emmanuel Community Church. Six weeks later, my mom died suddenly in our kitchen while sitting at the table. She had been reading a book, and drinking a cup of coffee when she began to collapse.

Needless to say, it was a rough beginning of my tenure at Emmanuel Community Church. But our bond became strong, and we stayed together, and for the past 28 years, I’ve grown up at ECC. And come to think of it, the church has grown up with me too.

Last night I began the “speaking tour” for my book Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels. I will be traveling and sharing the messages of the book at various churches and venues across the country over the next several months.  I hit the road on Friday to speak in Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY.

Last night I was able to start by speaking at ECC.  Home. What a logical place to step into the batter’s box.

As I stood in front of that room of women, many of whom are close personal friends, I marveled at how God had brought me to that moment.

And even that very spot.

You see, the church has grown and changed over the past three decades. The place where I stood and spoke last night is now called “The Commons,” and it’s a large gathering room with round tables for discussion and a little kitchen window in the corner for snacks. But it used to be our sanctuary. And the very spot where I stood last night is where my dad stood for years when he would preach. Now we have a bigger sanctuary (they say it’s called the ‘Worship Center’…) and the building has been remodeled.

But before the room became “The Commons,” as it is now, it went through some other transitions.

While it was still the main sanctuary, my dad got remarried, to the woman I now call “Mom.” I was her maid of honor, and stood up in that wedding – exactly where I stood last night as I spoke.

That room, in its original form, was where I sat through sermons, performed in children’s musicals, attended VBS weeks, and where I learned to love those people who became my church family.

I attended Sunday school classes behind the sanctuary in a little room with ugly red carpet.

When the room was remodeled to include a second-story loft, I helped with middle school youth group up there and later taught kids about God’s word using my Grow in His Word for Kids curriculum.

At one point, the room was transformed into a hallway with three classrooms on each side. In that hallway, I first walked past a man name Kraig Cabe. I saw him, but he didn’t see me. We didn’t meet for a few month after that, but eventually, we started teaching a Sunday school class together in one of those rooms – just a few feet from where I stood last night – and we eventually fell in love and got married in that big new sanctuary, er… Worship Center.

That room, that very spot where I stood and spoke last evening, has great significance for me. And I was so blessed to begin my speaking tour right there. It was the perfect launching ground. And as I shared about these things with the ladies and told them some stories from my life (old news to many of them!) they laughed and cried along with me.

And they served brownies. What more could you ask for?

After I finished, these friends of mine lined up to get my autograph in their books. I laughed. “Really?” I said, “It’s just ME!” They hugged me and supported me and got their picture taken with me. And I laughed all the more.

Because who would have thought this dream would become a reality. That God would redeem my life – my story – and use it for His glory through a book with a brownie on the cover and an imperfect girl-turned-woman who is willing to share.

That room, that spot where I stood last night, has been repurposed, reshaped, and put to the best use for each season.

Sounds a lot like me.

And for this season of my life, God has given me the opportunity to share my story. I’m thrilled, and nervous, and excited, and hopeful.

Because God has proven faithful through every season thus far.

And I have no doubt He’ll direct me, around each stop along the way, until I get back home.

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For more about my speaking schedule, or to have me consider speaking at your venue, click on Speaking or Contact in the menu.

Conversation Cafe Podcast

I will doing some traveling and speaking in the coming months (starting tomorrow!) and will be sharing about the messages in my new book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels.

But, before the “live” speaking started, I was able to record three podcast interviews- two of which have already been posted.

I really enjoyed this one which was just posted yesterday. I loved getting to know the host, Bekah Shaffer. I have a new friend now, and it seems we’re a lot alike!

So, if you have about 30 minutes while you’re in the car, folding laundry (one of my least favorite jobs!), or on the treadmill, maybe you can have  listen.

Here’s the link:

https://soundcloud.com/spill-the-beans-404985658/the-conversation-cafe-episode-12-christy-cabe

Thanks!

Christy