Please join me at my new blog page. www.alittledashoflove.com
I hope to see you there!
Please join me at my new blog page. www.alittledashoflove.com
I hope to see you there!
The other day, while in the airport, I couldn’t help but notice a Mama with her two kids in tow. She was a perfect reflection of me 10 years earlier. She looked so tired – bone tired. She held her fussy toddler daughter tightly against her hip and grasped her son with her free hand as he continually cried, “Time to go! Time to Go!” It was taking everything in her to just hold it together when suddenly, her little girl threw up all over her. She. was. done.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she grabbed a blanket from her backpack to wipe herself off. As soon as she did, her son realized he was free and ran down the concourse away from her safety. At that moment, myself and two other moms jumped to our feet to help. I corralled her son after he used a few of his superhero moves to dodge me. Another mom brought several damp paper towels to help her clean up. The last mom bought a T-shirt at one of the nearby stores so the mama didn’t have to fly in a plane covered in baby puke.
As she went to get cleaned up, the other two moms and I opened her backpack looking for a diaper for her little girl. We found a new diaper a few other items too: old crumbled snacks, a rotten banana, a bottle that hadn’t been cleaned for far too long and even a poopy diaper or two. None of us felt a hint of judgment though. We were all moms and we understood the crazy that life brings and how we all let things slip here and there. Quickly, we threw out the bad, refilled her bag with fresh treats, changed her toddler into clean clothes, and by the time she was back we were all enjoying playing with her son.
As she gathered her kids to board her plane, she looked back over her shoulder and said, “I know I can make it now. Thank you!” We all waved as she and her little ones disappeared around the corner.
Later that night, I had a completely different experience.
Once settled in my seat, I cringed when a young man came and sat next to me on the plane. He had dreadlocks all the way down his back and smelled so strongly of pot, I couldn’t help but wonder if I might get a little high sitting next to him. As soon as possible, he started ordering drink after drink and even managed to spill one all over me. When the flight attendant cut him off, without explanation, he took his shoes off, flung them at my feet and then crossed his leg with his very…smelly…foot… and rested it on me. Without ever speaking a word with him, an internal dialogue started something like this.
“This guy is a total idiot!!!”
Then, a very clear thought came to mind. You’re such a hypocrite. You talk about God’s love, and write about compassion and mercy yet, the moment someone is outwardly offensive, you become pious, arrogant and completely unloving.
I didn’t like myself very much in that moment to say the least. Big sigh. Convicted, I took a deep breath, reached out my hand, smiled and said,
“Hi, I believe your foot and I have already met…but I thought it would be nice if we did. I’m Nancy.”
He smiled a huge gregarious smile and then apologized for his foot resting on me. He then explained when he was a teenager, his leg was fractured in multiple places after a car accident. Though he went through years of rehabbing it, it still gives him a great deal of pain. He then pulled up his pant leg exposing heavy, deep and jagged scars that line his leg from his ankle to his knee. Wistfully, he looked in the distance and said slowly, “There is never one minute of the day where I am totally pain-free.”
This wasn’t just a pothead next to me. He was a person, with a name and with painful life experiences that shaped him into the rough around the edges, pot smoking, persona that was sitting next to me. He needed as much love and support as the Mama in the airport did. I just didn’t see it because I was so bothered by his appearance and behavior.
Of course I can justify my reaction — right? I mean the guy was a total…. wait a second… what does the bible tell me??
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Now, the man in the airplane was clearly not my enemy in the strict sense of the word however, he was difficult. There were uncomfortable behaviors (and smells) that came with him. He didn’t naturally respect my space, and generally didn’t care whether he offended me. On the other hand, the Mama at the airport, was meek and humble, thankful and gracious. She was incredibly easy to help.
Still, if I am a follower of Christ – and indeed I am – it is my job to love well, and respond in compassion regardless of how the person standing (or sitting) with me is acting.
I believe it is for a very simple reason. When we respond in authentic humility, mercy, grace and compassion, we better reflect the heart God. It’s that simple. And, in this world that is so filled with anger, brutality, rejection and fear, people need to tangibly see and experience His heart of love, every single day.
May we all learn how to reflect the beauty of his love more and more!
[Please come on over to my new blog at http://www.alittledashoflove.com]
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/135402460@N06/21324441231″>Hay Barn via photopin.com”>photopin (license)
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29310420@N02/5437614015″>Close up eye red – Jesus – Cross via photopin (license)
Hello friends, my new blog has just been released — it is still being tweaked but it is up and running and I’ve released a new blog tonight. I would be so honored if you would follow me to my new page. It is a wordpress.org page (hosted through blue host. The actual URL is http://www.alittledashoflove.com
I will continue to follow all of you – and hope we can stay in touch. This move will allow me to spread my wings a little more and I am incredibly excited! I plan on creating a link between epicentered and alittledash hopefully by next week.
Until we are able connect again!
My love always!
My husband, Phillip, worked for a great company that was highly successful. It was very profitable and loved by thousands around the country. Three years ago, it was purchased by a larger company and we marveled as that company invested in his company bringing joy to all involved. Brand expansion, company growth and even new benefits for employees and their families brought a sense of stability and pride. And then, like you often see in corporate America, the bottom fell out. The parent company, without real explanation did an about-face, changed course and decided to shut the business down that my husband worked for. A company that had been thriving in Colorado Springs for decades was being closed down.
We were shocked.
153 families were suddenly out of work.
That was November 2015. It’s February 2016 now. A few months have passed and Phillip has faithfully applied and interviewed for jobs. Finally it seemed the right job came…Last Wednesday he completed the third of three interviews. With each it seemed he was closer to the job he was seeking. Positive feedback came each time. It seemed he was the one he was picking. And then, silence. Total silence. The weekend came. Monday came and went. Silence.
Finally word came — the hiring VP is out sick and though she has submitted for budget approval, no one can give more information of who she has selected. So, we are left to wait and wonder. All the candidates are left to wait and wonder.
I share these stories because there are times in all of our lives that there is simply nothing that we can do to change the circumstance that we are in. Phillip could not change the fact that his company was closed down. Nor can he change the fact that the hiring VP is out sick.
We can however manage our attitudes and how we respond to circumstances.
Phillip has taken classes, worked on his resume, applied to as many jobs as possible and also taken the time to help homeschooling our son James.
I’ve picked up jobs working as a respite care provider, cleaning homes, trained as and am now working as a virtual assistant and now am launching my new blog.
Even more important though, with every disappointment, we’ve turned our eyes to the Lord Jesus with honesty and asked him to hold us tightly. We’ve brought our heartache, disappointment and confusion directly to to him — and he has faithfully carried it for us so we can move forward with confidence that our future is safe in his hands.
I’m not sharing this because Phillip and I are particularly special. In fact, I think we’re pretty boring. I’m sharing this because I believe the Lord has taught us that he loves to use difficult times to teach, transform and tear us away from old habits. We need to be willing to let that happen…while he holds us tight and secure in his love.
So, the next time things shock you — shake you — seem utterly unfair. Take a really deep breath and rest secure in his love. When you are secure in God’s love you might find the strength to step out and try new things … maybe not. What you will find is the peace to endure to the end. There is not greater place to be!
Follow this link to watch this video from Casting Crowns (Just be Held) — a song that has helped both Phillip and I walk through these days!
I’ve been quiet for a while now. Usually that means that life has gotten so crazy that I’ve had to go silent. In this case, however, I’m excited to say that I’ve been silent for more a very exciting reason. For a few months now, I’ve been working on revamping my blog. I guess in many ways, I’ve been working on a whole new “brand” — is that what they call it now?? I’m so not up on these things. Little by little it’s been coming to together an finally we are in the last stages of pulling it all together. In the next few weeks it will all be released.
For almost 5 years now I’ve been blogging under the name Epicentered. It was so fitting at first. After all, my blog started after I was overdosed by my nurse at a local hospital. I was shaken at the very epicenter of my life by a drug called epi. The play of words worked and as I blogged about my recovery — the ups and downs — everything fit like a glove. However, as time went on and I began to blog about other things such as my son’s disabilities, issues in the world, my desire for people to know and understand Christ’s love “Epicentered” didn’t fit anymore.
Soon it became clear that I needed to make a change but making that change was far more painful than I thought it would be. Epicentered was/is part of me. How could I give that up? Finally, after a lot of thought and even some tears I knew giving it up was exactly what I needed to do.
The process has been interested indeed. I started by creating a Pinterest board that I felt really represented me. Teens, college search, favorite bible verses, cooking, parenting children with mental illness, brain injury recovery and so on. Yes, who I am today is represented on that page. And, yes, the things I love to blog about is there too. As I looked over those little boards and the pins held within them I soon realized there was a common thread that I was seeing. Without God’s love infused into each topic, none had meaning to me.
That was a eureka moment for me. For me, love is key. Christ’s love has to be in the mix of everything I do for me to be inspired. I had my new Blog name — A Little Dash of Love — was born!
I also knew moving forward, I wanted my life verse to somehow be incorporated front and center into my blog. This verse is how I hope, how I seek to live my life. I’m not perfect and certainly fail. However, everyday, by God’s grace it is how I endeavor to live.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?
I love this verse – oh how I love it. And, with a lot of thought and help my tag line was birthed from it…
So now, A little Dash of Love is in the final stages of development. It is being worked on by an incredibly talented young woman who is far more talented than I am. Her ability to listen to my ideas, and transform them into something beyond what I could ever imagine is such a gift. I am so incredibly grateful to her.
I hope, once the final version is released you will join me on my new adventure. I will still be blogging about my journey with my son James as we walks his life with mental illness. I will also blog about loving and accepting those with disabilities — both visible and invisible. Going further though I’m going to talk about being a mom of teenagers, the process of looking into colleges (SAT’s ACT’s and so on), being a mom with a brain injury and even cooking! It is going to be a wonderful adventure filled with hope, happiness and love. Oh how I hope you join me.
New chapters in life are filled with in trepidation but also excitement. I’m jumping in with both feet! Come on! Let’s do this thing together!
And – soon to be launched!!! http://www.alittledashoflove.com
I haven’t blogged for over a month. That’s crazy for me. Life has been a little overwhelming, to say the least, and sitting down to pour my heart our has seemed utterly impossible until today.
My son — my beautiful, amazing, complex, challenging and the very joy of my heart son — is anorexic. He’s starving himself right in front of me.
For many months now, we thought he had a medical condition. As the pounds fell off we went from doctor to doctor searching for answers. 30 pounds and counting: He is now six foot 1 and weighs 115 pounds. JUST 115 pounds.
As test after test came back normal, my mother’s intuition grew increasingly stronger. That nagging feeling that it wasn’t — it isn’t — something physical at all. That horrible knowing that builds and builds and builds until you can’t look away any more. He isn’t physically sick at all. My baby is hurting — deeply. So profoundly that he is grasping for control anyway he can find it. And, for reasons I can’t understand, he found that control in food. And now, he is wasting away in front of me. I feel helpless. I feel afraid. My heart is crushed and utterly broken-hearted.
Tears come so easily for me. Even as I type they roll gently down my cheeks. Though I dab them with my tissue, the flow doesn’t stop. They just keep coming. Waves of unspeakable grief overwhelm me at the strangest times too. During my CPR class last night, tears began to flow again. The overwhelming worry not only for James’ emotional health but also his actual life rolled through my soul and I couldn’t contain it any longer.
My sweet James has lived a life of hoped deferred. He’s dreamed of many friends, only to be rejected. He’s dreamed of leading boy scout troops, only to be over looked. He’s dreamed of being picked to moderate his favorite online game, only to be skipped over. He’s dreamed of a life filled with joy only to live a life filled with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder. No wonder he is seeking control.
What I know is true, is this…
So, today fragile, sad and very much crushed in spirit I go forward trusting God will carry James and the rest of us through these very difficult days. We have a very long road ahead. A very, very long road. I have no illusions of instant fixes…but because God is with us…I do have hope for James to be strengthened and for him to ultimately overcome this very difficult affliction.
With the help of great doctors, wise counselors and a lot of love we will persevere as a family. By God’s grace we will grow together and not apart. Through God’s mercy we will find joy and laughter again even in the midst of this storm.
James is my beautiful, amazing, complex and sometimes challenging son. I love him just as he is. I will not let his intellectual challenges, autism, bipolar disorder and yes even his anorexia struggles define him. They are just part of his journey. He is a beautiful soul full of compassion and love. I am so utterly proud to be his Mom.
Pressing on — My love always,
Yesterday I was unaware as I blogged about a wonderful time with my daughter Faith, that my city was experiencing one of its greatest tragedies. A man, armed with a gun entered a Planned Parenthood building just miles away from my home, and killed three innocent people. Nine others were injured in his rampage and countless others have been scarred by violence occurring so close to the safety of their home.
None of us know why this man did what he did. Perhaps, someday, the details of his twisted thinking will come to light. I am sure though, most of us will never fully understand how anyone can inflict such pain on others. And yet, over and over again, throughout the world, we see men and women doing just that.
Our world is broken and in desperate need of an enduring love that transforms hearts and minds. Our world is broken and in desperate need of hope. Our world is broken and this brokenness begs the question of what, can we as individuals, do about it?
I argue, we are not helpless. We can, and must be carriers of God’s transforming peace and love.
Each of us has our own little sphere of influence. Perhaps you have a voice with moms in your kids schools, or with coworkers at your place of employment. Maybe you has opportunities to share kindness with your neighbors or to bring a smile at the local coffee shop. You, me, WE have the chance to change someones day by choosing enduring love, compassion and peace instead of anger, rage and hatred.
Oh how I hear the naysayers now, “Nancy, how can kindness, love and compassion change a mind that is hopelessly deranged?”
My son James, who I often write about on this blog, struggles with mental illness. At times, his burden is light, but other times, the crush of his minds battle takes him places I would never wish on anyone. The pain, despondency, hopelessness and anger are mind-bending and horrifically overwhelming. When he is in those darkest of dark places, I am painfully aware that his actions are not always within his control and that violence can and will bubble to the surface. Voices fill his mind and demand he does things he would never do on his own. IT. IS. FRIGHTENING.
Everyday I live with the knowledge that my sweet precious son is potentially one psychotic break away from a horrific tragedy. And yet, my love for him compels me, drives me, and pushes me to never, ever give up on him. A wonderful, loving and tenderhearted young man at his core – his minds brokenness can turn him inside out and upside own before we even know what is happening.
Yes, of course, we have medications that balance him. He also goes to incredible counselors who help too. But, the bottom line is, when the voices come and the rage fills his mind, the one thing that returns James back to gentleness and hope is a steadfast experience of our tangible unconditional, and unwavering love for him.
Honestly, that love doesn’t always come from me. God, living in me, gives me a love for James beyond my own. So, when I’m tired, worn down, discouraged and just utterly done, there is still more loving overflowing ready to pour into him.
So, yes, when I talk about love overcoming darkness beyond what we can understand or imagine, I come from a place of truth. I know this love – I live with hope for my broken son because of this love. I know it is this type of love that can and will transform, heal and renew.
In the coming weeks, those of us who live in Colorado Springs will hear more about those who lost their lives at Planned Parenthood and also those who were injured. We will also likely hear more about the man, who consumed by darkness, brought terror to many yesterday. We will all have a choice seeking out God’s love and truth as we process our pain or, to let darkness and hatred consume us more and more.
The choice is our. Let’s choose well. We can do this. We can bring God’s light and love to the lost, the hopeless, the confused and embittered. We can change our neighborhoods, our schools and businesses. Together, we can extinguish the darkness that seeks to devour and consume us all.
I’m in, how about you?
PS – Please take a moment to share your thoughts with me — How do you over come darkness through love? I would LOVE to hear from you!
I am a home body at heart. On cold Colorado winter nights I love being wrapped up in a blanket by the fire sipping hot chocolate with Christmas music playing in the back ground. For this rather introverted woman, staying away from the crowds and cold is a little slice of heaven in indeed!
So as you can imagine when my very adventurous 17 year old daughter wanted to sneak out in the freezing cold, ice and snow our 16 degree weather was pouring out all around us, I was less than excited. The thought of standing in line waiting for the doors to be opened as we shivered and quivered was the last thing I wanted to do.
And yet, as I looked into her eager eyes as she waited for a response from me, I realized something. She could have asked her friends to go with her. After all, they’re all driving now and easily could have piled into one of their cars, and together, shopped until they dropped. She could have asked her Dad to go with her. They love going on adventures and paling around together. If it was just about shopping, she could have gone online and found some pretty amazing deals. But, instead, she was asking me.
I knew, even though I hate being cold and I HATE Black Friday crowds, this was an opportunity to treasure with my girl. And, so all bundled up, we headed out into the icy cold and together stood freezing in line with about 1000 other people waiting for the store doors to open.
For 30 minutes we laughed, shivered, and talked smiling all the time. When the doors finally opened, we collectively, breathed a sigh of relief as the warm hit our faces and cold began to fade away. We found a few amazing deals along the way. But most of all, we simply had fun being together – treasuring a couple of hours of Mom/daughter time that can be so hard to find these days.
Late last night, when everyone was quiet and in bed I couldn’t help but think about my time with my Faith. The years have flown by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that I was holding her in my arms rocking her to bed each night; now, college is just a blink of an eye away. Tears streamed down my face. Joy mixed with sorrow like I’ve never known before. Though my role as mom will never go away, I am more and more aware of how that it is constantly transforming and changing.
Where I was once the one she ran to for every hurt and pain, she now has developed a strong group of supportive friends who she shares the ups and downs of life with. Where she once depended on me, she instead now leans on me. These changes are good. So very good. They are signs she is becoming more independent and confident. Yet, my Mama’s heart aches with every step she takes away. My Mama’s heart both bursts with pride and aches with sorrow as I know she is doing exactly what she must do — slowly, tenderly and with integrity pull away so she can strengthen her wings and soar.
For those of you who have tender two year olds, precocious 6 year olds or maybe challenging 12 year olds, I have just a couple words of advise. Treasure every moment: from every poopy diaper to every skinned knee. Treasure every moment: from the days that they’re just a frazzled mess to the days when they do everything perfectly. Treasure every moment: even the days they’ve messed up royally and you’re having to bail them out…again. TREASURE EVERY MOMENT: They are gifts from God to be loved, valued, appreciated and held in the highest of esteem. They are the most precious of gifts to be cherished and adored faithfully.
I’m so glad I stepped out of my box last night and ventured out in the cold with my sweet Faith. As we were shivering and quivering in the cold we snapped a picture I will forever cherish. We were able to smiled in that freezing cold because we were together and our hearts were full. We knew were building a wonderful memory, and in the process our hearts were being knit even closer together. It was beautiful. It was wonderful. It was worth every shiver and every chatter of our teeth.
Stepping outside our own comfort zones can be hard at times, but it is often there that we find the most joy with our kids. Treasuring them where their hearts soar helps us too see them at their best and connects us with them in powerful ways.
How can you connect differently with your child today? What adventure can you share with them? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear from you!
Tonight, my house is quiet. The kids are keeping themselves busy and Phillip is enjoying watching a movie. I love nights like tonight when I have time to sit and ponder things that have really been on my heart lately.
I’ve learned to take advantage of when the quiet comes. I can better hear God’s voice and am more open to His perspective rather than my own. I think we should all jump at quiet moments like these to search our hearts, and rethink our point of view if necessary.
If we don’t take the time to get quiet, we run the risk of missing some of the most valuable echos of truth that will resonate deeply in our souls.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity and credibility. For me, both are really, really important. Let’s be real for a moment. I mean, down and dirty real. When I’ve failed in these areas, the damage I’ve caused those I’ve love, was almost unspeakable.
One of the most life transforming experiences in my life was coming face to face with my failures and owning them without excuse or justification. The shame. Oh the shame I tell you. Even writing about it right now, my hands tremble. Yes, when you are exposed and ashamed due to nothing but your own bad choices, a grief fills your soul like nothing else you will ever experience. When, in the same moment you experience forgiveness and grace, your heart is forever transformed.
So, when I write about integrity and credibility now, it is not from a position of haughtiness or arrogance. In fact, it is from a sober place of understanding that in my frailness I easily could stumble back into faulty thinking, self-justification and self-soothing behavior that says my sin is not that bad — Scary right?
So, when I come to a place in my life that I am looking at integrity and credibility again I know I must first look at myself.
Asking the above questions are so important…so very important. Why? Because as Jeremiah 17:9 says,
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
In other words, we can all fool ourselves into believing we’re not doing harm. We can convince ourselves that we are actually doing better than we really are. We can shut out the wise counsel of others, close our eyes to the truth so we can somewhat blindly continue down the path we are already on at all costs. Think I’m wrong? Think about an alcoholic who thinks they can have just one drink….right????
Integrity for me is of course about being truthful. But it also so much more than that. Integrity beckons me to go the extra step when I see a friend stumbling to reach out to try to save them. Friends have done this for me — out of love and out of integrity for our friendship. Sometimes I heeded their calls and it saved me. Other times, I responded with arrogance and anger and I had to live a few more heartaches before I was ready for rescue. Sigh. Yes, integrity begins with truth but runs far deeper and wider when we pair it with friendships, loyalty and helping a brother or sister who is stumbling in our midst.
Can you imagine a world where we all sought to have integrity with ourselves, our relationships and our friends? I think it would be a powerful world filled with truth and love. That’s the type of world I want to start building!
For me, credibility is not about how long you’ve performed a job. We all know people who have been in the same position for years while they have back stabbed and wounded those around them. It isn’t about reputation either. In this crazy world, you’re a hero one day, and a zero the next. Credibility has more to do with having a steadfast character as you walk through life. Seasons may change, roles may change but people should be able to look at someone who is credible and know their character is steady, reliable and trustworthy no matter what. Volatility and harshness do not go hand in hand with credibility – they are in fact directly opposed to it.
Now we’re cooking with fuel!
Can you imagine a world full of steadfast men and women who are not perfect but who are working to grow their character more and more like Jesus? That would be a patient and kind, long-suffering, world where love would overcome. Again friends! Let’s start building!
We are living in a world where evil and anger fill the news. We live in a world where people are tossed away like garbage and treated as though they hold no value. We must turn the tide and that direction change starts with us. It starts with us examining our own hearts and character. It starts with confessing our sins and getting our hearts aligned with God’s will. From there, filled with His tender loving-kindness, I know the Lord will guide our way!
I’m in, how about you?
In five days, Phillip and I will reach the 20 year landmark in our marriage. 20 years of enduring commitment. 20 years of laughter and tears. 20 years of successes and failures. 20 years of building, tearing down and rebuilding.
How well I remember catching a glance of Phillip as he entered the church on our wedding day. His smile was bright and full of hope. My heart fluttered and danced about with excitement to the point where I could barely breathe.
Anyone who knew us then, understood ours was not going to be a marriage that would ever be picture perfect. Broken pasts, lost dreams, and two diabolically different personalities that cried out failure at every turn were just a few pieces of baggage we carried down the isle that day. And yet, on that day when we said, “I do.”, God stepped into our midst and and knit our hearts together as one: a powerful beautiful one that has overcome sickness, loss, disappointment, rejection, hopelessness and fear.
Yes, when God knit our hearts together as one, we became so much more than each of us were alone. My weaknesses – – which are many — were counter-balanced by his strengths. My gentleness refined his rough edges. His steadfast nature matched my perseverance. As the years unfolded the gifts of each others strengths to each other also unfolded.
Years of love and forgiveness fortified our love so even when that love was mightily tested, it withstood the test, reshaped, and thrived once again.
Now, as I watch so many friends in the early years of their marriages pressing through and learning to love always want to encourage these few things.
I can’t wait to experience the next 20 years with my love. We are so different than we were when we met, when we were married or even 10 years ago. The changes have been hard at times but because of God’s grace the fruit has always been good.
To my love Phillip – I wouldn’t want to walk this life with anyone other than you. Thank you for being my very best friend, support and also one who constantly challenges me to grow. I thank God every day for the joy of loving you! Happy Anniversary!