Surviving the “Off” Days of Life

Do you ever have those days that are just “off”? Nothing seems to work and you don’t even really have the drive to make anything work? A day where it might be better to just call in sick or go back to bed and call it a day? At like, 8:30 in the morning?

Yah. Today was one of those days for me.

I don’t even really know why.

This is what I posted on Instagram when I was in the middle of feeling the yuck:

Ever have one of those days you just want to build a blanket fort with someone then sit in there, listen to good music, let them hold you & tell them everything that’s rolling around in your head & driving you nuts today that you just can’t even human for the day and let them remind you how awesome you are & that you can do hard things. Ya. Today. But human I must. Maybe I’ll make my own fort later. Deep breath… #Icandohardthings

Apparently, I also need to write really long run-on sentences when I’m in the yuck.

And remind myself that I can do hard things.

And give myself some space even when I feel there is no margin.

And take a deep breath and step forward. Even when I really don’t want to.

But that’s what I did.

I took the morning off from work to get some errands done that I knew I wouldn’t get to tonight. I stopped and bought myself a chai tea latte. Because on rainy blanket fort days, chai tea is needed. I also stopped in the middle of my errands and bought myself a new candle to make my no-window-dungeon-office smell like a tropical vacation.

I went to work this afternoon and enjoyed the tropical smells. I sent several emails that needed to be dealt with. I asked for help on a couple video projects. There were ridiculous wardrobe malfunctions, a few times I yelled “CUT” seconds after recording started. I even cursed at the end of one of the videos. That didn’t make the final cut. Oops. But I got them sent off to the right people. And over the next few days several hundred people in the Pacific Northwest will see how ridiculous I am.

I picked up my daughter, let her drive home, made the kiddos some dinner, gave and received some hugs. I also gave grace on their undone projects and responsibilities, because we all need grace. Then I pushed on and worked out, because pull ups and push ups remind me how weak I am, that I still need help, and that ultimately I can do hard things.

That’s the real deal, isn’t it? Sometimes life just comes at you thick and fast. You deal, you process, you take action in the moment because that’s what’s required. Then maybe you just feel completely worn out and weak, like nothing you do matters or has any impact. It’s okay to feel that way sometimes. It’s just not a place to stay. We can do the things that seem hard, we can ask for help, we can get through them. We can learn as we move forward and gain confidence in the process.

Tonight, reflecting back, I realize why I’m worn out today. Why I’m feeling weak. Some things just take a lot of energy and wear me out. Like dealing with fraud on my bank account yesterday, consolidating loans and moving money around, preparing for some upcoming speaking & teaching opportunities, comforting my kids and helping them see their options, interacting with friends and encouraging them even when I feel I have nothing left to give.

And that’s also part of the real deal too. We all have more to give. Even when we don’t think we do.

We know what we need to do, even when we feel the only option is to crawl in a blanket fort.

My good friend, Jen Hatmaker, reminded me of this today. (Okay, so I don’t really know her, but don’t we all like to imagine she’s our best friend?!!) She reminded me that I know what I’m supposed to do when I face a challenging situation.

So, that’s what I did.

I prayed. I read some scripture. I let a few tears fall, because they just leaked out of my head all on their own. (who am I to stop leaking out of my face?!) I got some work done that needed to get done. I asked for help. I asked a friend to pray for me. I laughed. I hugged my kids. I ate some food that was good for me and let my body get some exercise. I listened to some good music. I laughed some more. I wrote this, because I feel better when words spill out of my head.

So that’s my advice for you too when you find yourself having an “off” day. Give yourself some grace, some unexpected margin. Breathe. Pray. Reach out to friends. Do what you know you need to do. Keep moving forward, one baby step at a time, and the hard things will get done.

You are qualified, you are capable, you are amazing.

You’ve got this.

I believe in you.

And at the end of the day, when you see how strong you really are, go build yourself that blanket fort. Just like I’m about to do. ❤

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A Prayer

This is a prayer I offered on behalf of our congregation this past week. Several have requested a copy, so I’m sharing here. A portion is rephrased from another prayer. I pray that it blesses you this week.


 

Lord,

We come before you concerned, weary and worn from all that is going on in this world as well as with what has happened in this country over the past week. Lord, we thank you for your presence in all that has happened and in all that will happen.

Help us to be a people that follow hard after you. Help us be a people that love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with you. Help us to remember, above any current divisions, that God you reign supreme no matter who is in control of our country.

Lord, help us to remember you are a God who is above all flags and above all men.

You are a God who is for your people.

You are a gracious God who created men and women in YOUR image.

Let us put our trust in you, Jesus, as you were born into an occupied and oppressed people group, you were a man who entered this world at the bottom of the food chain and stayed there your whole life.

Jesus, you walked as a man whose policy was that when it comes to your own rights you “turn the other cheek” but when it comes to the disinherited you listen, you mourn, you act, and you boldly protest for change.

You were a man who gave to the hungry and the thirsty without hesitation, a man who welcomed in all strangers without concern, a man who clothed the naked, looked after the sick and cared for those who thought they had no value.

Today, let us remember that we still follow you, Jesus, and that you spoke truth to the powers that be yet gave everything away till you had nothing left and you desire us to do the same.

Lord, help us to stand for your truth, to listen to each other, and bring glory to God throughout all the generations now and those that are to come.

Amen

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Parenting is STUPID HARD!

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Sometimes I feel like I understand why wild animals eat their young.

“Ugh. Parenting is STUPID HARD sometimes!”

That was the beginning of a Facebook post recently. I hit another bump in the road of this parenting journey. I know we’ll get through this, but sometimes it’s such a huge struggle. It’s enough of a struggle to get the everyday demands of our lives taken care of, keep everybody moving forward in a positive direction, and try to do it with a smile on my face. Especially when all I want to do right now is SCREAM and STOMP MY FEET WILDLY!!!!

We’ve been in a similar situation before, so it makes this go ‘round even more frustrating. In addition, some lies and deception were uncovered. Oh, I asked the right questions. At the right time. For months. I was aware there could be a problem. That’s why I asked the questions. I trusted the answers and extended grace.

As we parent and grow our children I believe the boundaries we have in place get wider. When our kids are young, they have narrow boundaries. Right from wrong is taught, boundaries are enforced more frequently, there is a lot more oversight, and children learn how to navigate within the boundaries. When they cross them, there is swift correction.

As children get older, the boundaries begin to widen like the top of a funnel. They are given more trust and more freedom. More of a chance to practice staying in the boundaries before they’re out on their own. As parents, we’re still there to point them back to the center when they get too far off course.

This situation was off course. My instant reaction was anger. “HOW COULD YOU!” I wanted to take away every ounce of freedom and every convenience this child has been given. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS?!” “HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE?” “HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?!” “I ASKED! WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP!” “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I HAVE GIVEN SO THAT YOU COULD DO WHAT?!!”

So!! Angry!!!

Some of those words may have come out.

I had to breathe. And breathe again. And take a little space. And breathe some more. And say more than a few prayers to know how to proceed.

While there are natural and imposed consequences to this situation, I want so much more for my child than consequences. I want them to clearly understand a boundary was crossed, but I don’t want them to simply learn to dance close to the boundary or to hide the evidence when the line is crossed. I don’t want them to get used to going so far off course they feel there is no way back or no help available. I don’t want them to get lost. I want them to know I always love them, always want what’s best for them, and will always fight for them.

So, some course correction is in order.

This isn’t to simply get out of a difficult situation nor is it to just barely get back in the “acceptable” boundaries. No, the goal is restoration. The goal is to make different choices in this life journey so that they may live a full life as the person they have been created to be. And I want to deal with the root issues of lying, deception, and hiding. Those are not descriptors I want for my children.

We had some hard conversations. My child was in so deep the reality of the situation could not be seen clearly. It was hard to point that out and see my child feel broken. But reality and crossed boundaries need to be understood. The potential ramifications in the future needed to be clearly considered as well. There were lots of tears.

There are still hard days ahead. We’ve written a contract with clear expectations and clear consequences. We’ve included daily steps and longer term steps so we see the progress as we move forward. I’m trying to show that little actions, every day, lead us forward on the journey. We can’t expect to leap forward to where we want to be without the hard work now. Nor can we ignore those little choices that are leading the wrong direction and expect them to somehow get better with time. No, personal action, in the right direction, is required.

I’m also working hard to create a safe place of clear communication so that we can rebuild trust. I want my children to come to me in the joys and struggles of life. I don’t want them to ever feel they are too far gone to receive my help and love.

This week I’m also incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of parenting solidarity, concern, hugs, laughter, and encouragement from friends. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people and that is such a huge blessing as I walk this parenting journey solo. I may be solo, but all of you make me realize I’m not alone. My sincerest gratitude and thank you to each of you.

Correcting a wrong course is hard and painful, but it can be done. I trust that my children and I will grow stronger in our relationship because we’re navigating this hard part of the path together, with His help.