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This is where I talk about the books I read and the books I write. It's also were I explore, record, and share the life that is my legacy.

This Thing Called Dancing

It happened in the 7th or 8th grade. Modern dance. In gym class. A sort of dream come true and a nightmare in the making.

It was the seventies, and this was the kind of free-spirited thing that sounded so cool. I knew what cool was – that elusive quality some kids had and kids like me didn’t. But this – this made perfect sense to me. It was something I knew I could do well. Of course, I assumed this kind of dance was brand new, but soon learned it was old. Which somehow made it even better.

The teacher said we could be part of a team and pick a song and pick our moves. Two friends from Elementary school were in my class, and we decided to be a team. We chose the theme song to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. One friend wanted to be the bad so she would wear black tights and a black leotard to match her hair. The other wanted to represent ugly although with her red hair and purple leotard she was anything but. That left me and good. And white. Mostly.

I was young, slender, strong, and ready to dance.

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We practiced as often as we could, and all of us loved the way we could get lost in the music – still always aware of each other, and in sync with our own dancing like never before. This was not a school mixer where the three of us stood on the sidelines.

We were wallflowers transformed.

To me, modern dance was this funky mix of ballet and any move that felt right. Besides words, it was personal expression at its greatest.

The teacher invited our parents. Having an audience could have made me nervous, but it didn’t. It wasn’t about me. My friends agreed. The most important thing was the music and moving. I felt like a graceful flower in the sunshine dancing to the song and rhythm of the breeze.

People sitting on folding chairs lined the gymnasium wall. I caught my mom’s eye right away and saw her smile. She sat with my team’s moms. Yeah – this was going to be good. Mama would see me at my best. Sort of.

I danced my heart out and felt like I’d nailed it. My short performance was me hitting the home run instead of striking out every time someone handed me a bat. I’m so not kidding.

The applause for our routine was louder and longer that it was for the others. We couldn’t believe it. The other kids and the women smiled like they meant it. When we were dismissed to greet our guests, I ran into my mom’s arms for the ultimate well-done hug.

She held me close and whispered in my ear, “That was beautiful, but honey, you’re wearing black underpants.”

Yes. I was. And to make matters worse they were the bikini kind.

My outfit was my dad’s white Sunday shirt, white tights, and white undergarments. Because good didn’t wear a leotard. Good was all innocence and all white. Good had to flow in modest purity.

And then there was my version. Ufda.

Mama wasn’t angry, ashamed, or being mean. She was preparing me for the not so nice comments that might come, and she knew I didn’t want them to remember me that way. Besides she knew I’d rather have her tell me than anyone else.

The truth was unavoidable; all those watching saw my costume malfunction when I jumped and reached like never before.

And never again.

Gym was my first-hour class so I had a whole day to worry about what the other moms and kids were thinking and might be saying. About what my gym teacher thought.

All day the girls teased and the guys who heard said typical gross stuff trying to sound all manly and accomplishing only to sound like goofy teenage boys. I wished I could get up the nerve to ask the nurse to send me home sick, but decided to stay hoping they’d be done with it that day.

My teachers commented publically on what the gym teacher told them in the teacher’s break room. About my grace and beauty as a dancer and my natural ability and my talent.

My cheeks were red-hot, and I almost cried each time. They thought I was humble, but I was afraid they would mention my unmentionables. They didn’t. But I couldn’t appreciate their kindness humiliated as I was by my accidental bold badness.

Mama did all she could to ease my shame and fears at home. There were hugs. Kind words. Cookies. And so much love. By bedtime, I was exhausted but sleep evaded me as I wondered over and over again how something I had meant to do so right had ended up being something else.

From then on, I danced in my room. Alone. Where it didn’t matter what I wore. Eventually, the dancing stopped.

Until lately in the fall stage of my life.

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I dance alone in a windowless room where no one but God can see me. I don’t dance for Him like some do, and I don’t believe He minds. I’m pretty sure the One, who created me gets me as I move gently to Itzak Perlman (yes, you can dance to Tchaikovsky), Andre Rieu, Kenny G, and others.

The years of enthusiastic leaping and exaggerated reaching are over. My moves are so gentle they might not be called dancing at all, but the other day I threw in a twirl. It was unexpected and may not happen again although I was so delighted I giggled. Like the girl I used to be. It felt that lovely and for a second almost young.

These days, although it might still matter in the secret places of my heart, cool isn’t even a consideration. The grace, talent, and agility have been replaced with caution because I don’t want to get hurt. Even a hop gone wrong could be dangerous. And that twirl? After the giggle it scared me, and I was trying to figure out how to explain any potential future injuries to Jon and the paramedics. I decided on, “I took a wrong twirl.” Yeah. I know.

But this thing I call dancing feels so good, so right, and so me. Because it is.

Until Next Time,

Joy

A Promise Kept

It’s one of those days. I’m missing Mama, and am aching for Dad, my brother, and the grand kids who love her. She’s been in heaven forty-six days, and it’s strange. Simultaneously I can’t believe she’s gone at all and that she’s been gone that long already. (I’m not actually counting. I had to do the math.)

Plus, Sophie, our little girl dog, is at the vet with some kind of infection.

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It’s a writing day and I’m sitting here at home, with the gift of this time, surrounded by beauty inside and out singing the blues in my heart.

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At first I got after myself. I said all the things to myself I thought might work. “Come on now – Mama is in heaven and Sophie loves her doctor, and we trust her, so it’s going to be okay.” After another cup of coffee I said, “Buck up, Joy. Nothing can happen to you that God doesn’t already know about.” About half-way through that cup, I said, “Joy! Stiffen that upper lip!” (Which has never made sense to me because it’s always my lower lip that’s quivering, and when that one is out of control I can’t do a thing with the bottom one!)

Drinking my third cup of coffee, I remembered the little girl and a promise kept. I don’t know her name and this happened at least twenty years ago so she’s a grown woman by now and might have children of her own.

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It was late in the day and I was weary. We were grocery shopping and that’s never been my favorite thing to do. When I’m tired, oh boy! Jon had the cart and was moving at his normal energetic pace. I was lagging behind him throwing a silent pity-party that I’m sure showed up loud and clear on my face. The one thing that kept me putting one foot in front of the other was the promise of my comfy chair and a new book I had waiting for me at home.

Then, there she was. I’d just come out of an aisle and a little girl (maybe 5) was twirling, dancing, and humming out in the big space by the check-out lanes. She looked up toward the pay phones (it was that long ago!) and her joy increased. She beamed. I really needed to get going, but when she called out to him, “Abba! Abba!” I stood there as if frozen.

The ancient words caught me by the heart.

Grateful she hadn’t noticed me, I watched her twirl with confident abandon into his out-stretched arms. And I starred as he drew her close to his heart, and bent his head close to her. She was home safe! His side-locks bounced and his beard must have tickled because she giggled. The father leaned closer to her, whispered something in her ear, and they walked away hand-in-hand.

When I started to breathe again, I realized Jon was standing beside me.

“Did you see them?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said heading down the next aisle.

Turning to follow him, I felt like I was leaving a holy place and spent the rest of our time in the store in an awe-filled haze – the kind that transforms that kind of day into that kind of day.

Back home that night, before diving into the novel waiting for me, I studied the word. By that I mean I looked it up in the Bible, Strong’s Concordance, Easton’s Dictionary, Holmans, and took notes because that’s what I do when I want to know what something means in a personal way. Does that mean I’m more spiritual? Nope. Not a chance. Remember that pity-party I was throwing for myself that day? And I was throwing another one today.

Anyway, I learned that the word/name is used three times in the New Testament – once in the garden by Jesus (Mark 14:36), and twice by Paul. (Romans 8:15 and again in Galatians 4:6)

Easton’s says that Abba is a term expressing warm affection and devoted confidence.

Today, when the story of that little girl came to mind it was no accident, it was an invitation.  The moment I whispered, “Abba,” my soul was immersed in the tender, safe, loving embrace of God. No waiting until I was in a better mood, although I immediately was . In a second, I drew near to God and He drew near to me.

Because that’s what God says He will do and He keeps His promises.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  James 4:8a (ESV)

Until Next Time,

Joy

P. S. Sophie is home with antibiotics.

It Will Be All Right {A Mama & Me Post}

Me & Mama Last Post

This will be my last Mama & Me post. Those simple words cut. I’ve put it off for over two weeks. Mama went Home on November 29, 2014. I was privileged to be with her. It seemed so right – she was there for my first breath, and I was there for her last.

I know this post will elicit your sympathy for us, and I’m grateful for that. But the point of this post isn’t a plea for comfort. I am trusting and believing in God. My faith isn’t rocky although the road is. I realize my words are raw, and some of you are facing a similar future. And that will make this very difficult for you to read. It’s okay if you stop here.

I promised God and Mama I’d be honest about the journey, and this is me keeping my word. Do tell me your stories, but please – no pep talks or advice okay? I know my pain is not the worst ever suffered, but it’s the worst I’ve ever suffered, so don’t put me down for putting it out here. In the darkness of my sorrow, I am keeping my eyes on the One who is the Light – trusting His will and His Word. I greatly appreciate your prayers and your stories about trusting Him in the middle of your pain.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:2-4 (NIV)

This post is about one of Mama’s rough mornings a couple of months ago when she took a turn for the worse. She was tired and slept on and off – more restless than restful. Each time she woke she was delighted to see me and childlike (transparent and honest) in her surprise. Each time she said, “Oh there are you!” as if she’d just found a great treasure or something valuable she’s misplaced.

I knew she was in pain, but she resisted help. She told me at one point, “I need to feel the pain.” Then she tenderly reached out for my hand because she could see the grief in my soul.

In a very clear moment that morning she said, “I hate what’s happening to my brain.”

I responded, “I hate it too, Mama. And I hate your pain.”

She looked at me quizzically and said, “What pain?”

Either the pain was gone or she didn’t remember that I knew about it. Most likely, it was the dementia. Truly, I hated the dementia, but never Mama. And that day, she was with me – alive, holding my hand, and even though I knew we were approaching the end of her life, I had her. Thoughts beyond that were too heavy to bear.

She watched me closely that day and told me to get back to work. As my fingers worked my laptop keyboard, I stole glances at her. She watched me in that way she always did- as if seeing someone beautiful and to her, I was.

Before she nodded off again, she asked, “What are you doing?”

“Writing,” I said.

She smiled. “Of course you are.”

I stored this conversation and many others in my heart because I knew that one day, when God called her Home, they would end, and I’d still need them.

We put off some things that day. I looked at her fingernails, and she said, “Oh please, not today.” She wasn’t in the mood for a manicure. Instead, we held hands and listened to Elvis for a while because it was the desire of her heart. And it was fun to give her what she wanted.

Later, we read Psalm 122, and she said, “That’s a good one.” I said to God, Oh Lord, she is right. Our help comes from You.

While she slept, I watched her wondering, what God’s plan in all of this was. Surely He has one. I asked Him to show me. Because I needed there to be value in this journey; in the story of a woman who rarely said I can’t and whose life was now full of them.

I know God gave her a number of days before she was created in her mother’s womb. I knew He wouldn’t take her a second too soon or too late based on His plan. I believe that with all my heart. But still, even believing, this hurts. The void where she was is huge.

On that fallish day, I wrestled with my desire for her to stay even as I knew she was suffering mentally and physically. I told God I trusted Him, and when my soul rebelled the truth coming at us, I begged Him to help me trust Him more. On my own, letting her go to Him made me want to stomp my foot and demand a healing. Because He could have, and I knew it. But He didn’t. And there has to be a more to it right? A reason that will glorify Him and give those of us left behind a better understanding – an answer to our whys.

As I battled these things out that day, Mama watched me. I could feel the gentle, weight of her eyes. After what seemed like a long time, she said, “Joy, it will be all right.”

It is one of the last times she called me by my name. The one she gave me. Her mother’s name and now mine. I had no idea how much names mattered until I stopped hearing her say mine.

It is also the last time she comforted me. And I knew she wasn’t talking about the dementia – she meant it was going to be all right forever.

Visiting her grave the other day, I knew Mama was right – she usually was. About almost everything. God. Boys. Writing. Love. Generosity. And the rest. Even this and especially this.

The wind blew cold and harsh, but the truth in my heart was warm and tender. For her, it is all right. She is with God and is fully healed.

It is hard, lonely, and terribly sad on earth without her. To be honest, I had no idea how much it would hurt – the pain still takes my breath away, and I think it always will. Grieving is like that. It will get easier to handle, but it will hurt  until I see Jesus and her where they are.

In the second it took for her to leave here for there, Mama was more than all right.

And there is great value in her life – including the dementia. I have no idea what it is, but that’s not my job. That’s completely up to God. He will use it all for His glory.

Mama loved Romans 8:28 passionately. To her, it was the truth spoken to us by the One who is Truth. For me, in these dark days of sorrow, I cling to these verses like a child who has lost her mother, but not her way. I believe this with all my heart, mind, and soul: Because He is God and she is with Him and although the pain is intense, it really is going to be all right. Forever.

Romans 8: 28, 37-39 (ESV – italics added by me)

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Until Next Time,

Joy

Temporary Treasures {a Legacy Post}

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There are things in our home and storeroom that are very dear to my heart. I call them treasures knowing most of them won’t matter far beyond my life.

They are my temporary treasures.

Already some have had to be tossed because they were ruined by age, rust, and even some mildew although I’ve been careful with them.

It’s just the way things this side of heaven are.

In one box is my favorite doll, Chatty Cathy. Tucked in beside her is my mom’s doll. They are wrapped in my baby blankets, 2 buntings made for my by great-grandmother, and my fancy baby dresses.

All together I have 12 plastic drawers and 3 cardboard boxes. What delights me about these old things are the memories of the people attached to them. Fifty-seven years of things not worth anything to others, but of tender earthly value to me.

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Every now and then (once a year or so) I bring them one by one out to my craft table. I take a deep breath and take out each piece. The one requirement is a full box of tissues because they are going to give my heart a great big work over.

This box contains memories from school. It’s amazing what fits in a small cardboard box. Toys. Books. 8-tracks. A View Master. And more. So much more. Placed there by my mama. Carefully as she remembered. When she still could.

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And a book we read as adults (Mama & Me) that we talked about for years to come, and that I tucked under the cardboard flaps.

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It’s the cards and letters that grab me by the heart and don’t let go. Words written on the pages just for me. It is here those who wrote shared their faith, dreams, wisdom, and sorrows. It’s where they encouraged me and left inky fingerprints of their love for me.

Like this one. A card from my mom who now has dementia. Words she can no longer say, but that mattered so much when she wrote them and matter even more today. Because I need them. Her encouragement and blessing are tenderly written here. It’s not likely this one will last to the next generation – I will probably wear it out. It’s that kind of valuable.

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As I put my keepsakes back, I am overcome by a wonderful sense of gratitude. (And yes, more tears.) The kind that overflows from these temporary treasures into me, and then through me into the lives of others. Legacy lessons have that kind of power.

Standing there, I am undone and redone; amazed by they love/loved me. And by how deeply some of them love/loved Jesus.

In the remembering, the desire to share Jesus is reignited in my heart one quiet testimony at a time. My temporary treasures lead me there every time. To the remembering place where I smile, weep, and am again lead closer to God.

These things will one day rot and be thrown away. But while they exist, He will use them to touch my heart and teach me old and new things.

Until Next Time,

Joy

A New Neighborhood {a Mama & Me Post}


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Today is Mama’s second day in the nursing home. The dementia, another stroke, increased weakness, and the loss of her ability to communicate left Daddy with only this option. She needs 24/7 skilled nursing care.

Yesterday, I walked the halls listening, watching and smelling. I sat by her bed while she slept realizing I was in Mama’s room, and it wasn’t at home with Dad. It was here. I wanted to bawl, throw-up, and runaway. I wasn’t being spoiled or selfish, but I was terribly sad and afraid…for her, for Dad, for our whole family.

All day, family and friends were there for me. One, whose Dad lives in the same place, stopped by to give me a hug, and her  mother loved on me. My brother’s wife sent I love you’s, and so did a couple of the kids we love. A sister-friend sent a Bible verse to me on Facebook at just the right moment. And many prayed. My husband let me cry and talk. Then he said what I needed to hear and held me when he knew I wanted him to. He’s smart that way.

In the still of the night, even as I wept, I felt the comfort others so generously gave. And I received it with a grateful heart. Before I slept, I asked God to help me see Mama’s circumstance with greater clarity. And to remove the fear and even the guilt I felt for having a life beyond hers. A life I enjoy.

This morning I had to turn the news off – the struggle in Ferguson was too much for my aching heart to bear.

I worked for a while then went to visit Mama. On my way to her room, several nurses, a couple of PCAs, and some of the cleaning staff greeted me. They introduced themselves, told me they’d met Mama, and that they thought she was beautiful, and told me to ask them if any of us needed anything.

In her room, she rested and again I listened to the many sounds of a nursing home. For a moment, I felt panic rising in my soul. Not all of them were pleasant sounds. This isn’t where we wanted to be. It wasn’t part of our hoped for plan. Then it happened. The thought I needed came, and I embraced it.

I was sitting in Mama’s new neighborhood. That choking fear I’d been sure was going to spill out in the form of tears, subsided. My breath came easier, and I waited. Because there was more to the thought than that.  There always is.

And it was about neighborhoods. In some, there is very little noise beyond the predictable lawnmower now and then. Others the rumble of Harley’s and loud trucks can fill the air and the lawn mowers sound like the motorcycles. There are those where the voices of children call out in play and the engines of school buses. In ours, we hear the distant bellows of cows and the occasional farm vehicle on the gravel road. In some there is the sound of gun shots, rioting, and sirens.

It was the last part that pierced my heart, but not for the reasons you might think.

All the people who greeted me in the hallways were a mix of diversity. From the palest white, to the deepest ebony. Slavic, Asian, Mexican, and other accents blended in with those of us who use “ufda” on a regular basis. I soaked in their conversations, laughter, and the way they talked to the residents – with respect and dignity – and in the place of fear, a sweet almost delicious gratitude rose up in me. It was sort of like being handed a bowl of ice cream I wasn’t expecting.

Hot Fudge Sundae On The Table

Daddy came back, and I told him I’d be back tomorrow for a couple of hours. He said gently, “We can’t be here all the time, and that’s okay.”

He’s right, and his words comforted me. Because Mama has moved into a new neighborhood, and while it’s no more perfect than any other, it’s hers and ours when we’re there. And if Daddy trusts them to care for her, I can too.

Before I left, he started playing her favorite music and the voice of Elvis Presley singing, “there will be peace in the valley for me. . .” were like the whipping cream on a hot fudge sundae.

On my way out, I thanked every person I met for what they were doing. They all smiled. My goodness, there sure are a lot of beautiful smiles out there! These were the cherries on top of the calorie-free and completely diabetic safe treat God gave me today.

In my car on the way back to the office I realized three things:

  • I’m looking forward to going back for a little while tomorrow. To see Mama and her new caregivers – to spend time in her neighborhood.
  • And this part of my life is part of my legacy and it’s part of hers.
  • I’m going to have emotions that swing because even at it’s best, this is hard. But there is goodness and sweetness and  peace. Not the peace easily understood, but the peace that comes from faith in God – the One who loves Mama more than I can imagine.

Until Next Time,

Joy

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7

 

Graphics purchased from Fotolia © Peter Atkins – Fotolia.com and © Edie Layland – Fotolia.com

Time-out! {For Me}

When I was little, I was a frequent visitor in a certain corner in our home. Seated in a small chair, my mom told me to sit quietly, and think about whatever misdeed I’d done or tantrum I’d thrown.

Sitting there and reflecting, I had a secret. Once my gulping tears stopped, and my cheeks dried, I sort of like time-outs.

They were great for rethinking my actions, but also for daydreaming and relaxing. Other than letting my mind wander, nothing else was expected of me. There was a tremendous relief because my pent-up emotions had been unleashed.

As a teenager, being sent to my room had a similar effect on me. Being grounded from my friends or my favorite music, or the mall was hard and a shock to my social-system and could cause more tears, and perhaps I stomped up the stairs. Quite dramatically. But I eventually found inner quiet snuggled on my bed or in my chair grandpa’s rocking chair (inherited after his death) reconsidering my recent behavior, choices, attitude, or comments.

And again, daydreaming. About being a wife. A mom. A writer.

Looking back, I realize that even as a very young child I could feel it coming on; that overwhelmed, prickly, restless, agitated, ornery, angry, I’m going to pitch a fit feeling.  The following emotional explosion was terrible and a tremendous relief, similar to a summer storm that pelts down on us and leaves freshness in its wake.

These days at the first sign I know it’s in my best interest, and everyone else who has contact with me, if I schedule a personal time-out. Immediately. Or I’m quickly a tangled, snarly, brittle, mess of emotions.

Snarly Mess

Here are my symptoms:

  • I’m easily annoyed. Little things my husband (or anyone else in my life) does bug me. These are things not even on my regular radar. On a good day, if I notice them, I might even think they’re cute. Not so much on these days.
  • Soon, I’m irritated. I sigh. A lot. Or roll my eyes. I can feel my eyebrows sort of freeze into a furrowed position. My stomach is unsettled, and that ticked-off feeling takes over.
  • Next, I’m tense. My jaws clench and a headache is on its way. My shoulders are getting into the act. The volume and intensity of my words increases.
  • Finally, I’m stressed out. The headache has arrived, and it’s about to get worse. A this point, I cry, pace, and my jaws now hurt. There’s pain between my shoulder blades and my right eye twitches. Panic is sometimes involved. I’m undone, and it’s bad.

My solution:

A time-out!

Like most of the women I know, life is busy. Carving out me-time seems impossible and even a little selfish.  My daily list is full of things I have to or need to do. I have expectations (usually my own) to live up to. My Google calendar is a rainbow of responsibilities with very little space in between.

I want and sometimes need more white space in my life!

It’s taken me years to realize that calling a personal time-out is one of the best things I can do for those I love, for my work, and for myself.

What does a time-out look like?

My time-outs take very little effort and cost almost nothing.

  • Sometimes I send myself to my bedroom. I’ve created a small oasis in one corner I can enjoy any time, but on these days, it’s my haven.
  • Other times, it’s a walk with my dogs, Sophie and Tucker. Or a ride on our John Deere Gator with them riding shot-gun, coffee in my to-go mug, and my camera.
  • When it’s a work day, it might be ten minutes of yoga in the ladies room. I am not in great shape, but have four favorite moves I can do in the handicap stall of most restrooms. Yes, they can see my feet under the door, but this effort on my part is also in everyone’s best interest, so it doesn’t matter!
  • At the office, I have been known to close the door, drink some water or a cup of coffee slowly, put my head down on my desk, breathe, and rest.
  • Long or short walks work, and in the building where I work. I call them “hall-walks.” There are long hallways that are often empty except for me. Because I also listen to music on these time-outs, I’ve been known to sing. Out loud. Not well. So, I tend to save this option for early or late in the day.
  • If I’m away from home, I go to my car. I don’t drive unless I have to. It can be the perfect time-out corner. I can rest my head on the steering wheel, cry, whisper loudly, and listen to music if that’s helpful.

There are three parts to my plan I consider essential:

  1. Early recognition. If I can catch myself in the annoyed stage, I rarely advance to the others.
  2. Prayer in a solitary place. I know where I’m headed, and it’s certainly no surprise to God, and I pray without boundaries. He gets the worst of me so I can give Him the best of me when this passes. To keep myself on track, I sometimes journal my prayers.

Jesus is my example for this. In Matthew 6:6a he says, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.”

  1. One day I asked myself, “What if I treated myself the way I treat others? What if I forgave myself quickly, moved on, and let peace and grace replace the chaos? What if I forgave myself the way I forgave them? Self-forgiveness is essential.

In Mark 12: 30 & 31 Jesus tells us, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Notice He says, “as yourself.” Offering myself grace empowers me to do the same to others.

Here’s why I say that with such confidence. We’re told in 1 John 1:9, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

The response from God is immediate. I confess; He forgives, and as far as He is concerned, the sin I took to Him is gone. So are its three amigos: guilt, shame, and regret.

How long does a time-out take?

It depends on what’s happened, how long I’ve waited, what’s still on my agenda, how many others I’ve hurt along the way, and where I’m at; the office, home, in the car, or in a public place.

The results of a time-out?

Peace. It’s like God gently pours a bucket of cool, fresh water on my injured, worn, sad, angry, and/or swollen soul.

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“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT

If I go sooner than later, I don’t do as much damage, and that’s good. Then there’s the fact that the relief is fantastic, but it’s much bigger than that. After some quality corner-time, I can live out the Golden Rule joyfully without a shred of spiritual fakery. You know what I mean. Here’s an example: I can walk into church and be asked, “How are you?” and answer, “Fine, thanks, how are you?” and mean it, even when life is hard or worse. No snarky internal voice is saying, “If you only knew! But then you don’t really care to know do you?” I’m free from that voice and its harping words, because God cares and He met in that place and we’re good and now I can ‘do to others whatever I would like them to do to me. (Matthew 7:12a).

After a time-out, life isn’t perfect, but my heart is less tangled.

Tangled Heart

When you feel a melt-down on its way, what do you do to release it and live in freedom again?

Until Next Time,

Joy