Author Archives: skimhenson

About skimhenson

Kim Henson is a freelance writer who lives and writes near the beach. She has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, ezines and websites. Check out her website at www.skimhenson.com.

Waiting Well (what do we do while we wait for Irma?)

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“My mother taught me, when I was a little girl, that when anything very dreadful happens, I must think of what I would be doing if it had not happened, and then do that.

This excerpt comes from a World War II story about an Englishwoman who greeted her minister at the door when he showed up to let her know about her husband’s death. The woman interrupted his news and invited him in for tea. He was astounded by her hospitality in the midst of sorrow.

My wish isn’t so much about receiving bad news with grace, although I want that too, as it is about waiting with that same grace. It’s about waiting well.

Since last October, I’ve waited on Hurricane Matthew to come and go close by our beach house; the fires to extinguish at Table Rock near our mountain house; news about my car’s engine that quit running; my son’s cancer diagnosis and surgery and follow up; a scare related to he and his wife’s unborn baby (he’s just fine, by the way); my father-in-law’s brain injury and imminent death; and negotiations and paperwork on property we ended up buying. Before we build on it, we have to sell the home we’re living in now.

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We wait.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter-in-law labored over their first baby for 30 plus hours. If not for my anxiety, it would have been comical how our phone calls and texts fit the theme of my year …

Wait and wait some more.

Along with tens of thousands of other Southerners, I’m watching and wondering about Irma, a category 5 hurricane that threatens our beach house with storm surge and both our beach and mountain houses with high winds and flooding.

More waiting.

I’ve cared about friends who’ve gone through similar ordeals this year. Several waited for results from medical tests. A couple of them received unwanted and downright scary news. Two friends waited on knee surgeries. They’re now working through and waiting on recovery. One friend waited for months on funds she’s been promised again and again. Another waited to find out if her husband would ever coach again. He won’t, at least not at the high school where he dedicated his time, talent, and care for 34 years. Then there are my two mom friends who haven’t heard from their sons in a while, one who’s fighting fires and one who is fighting addiction, so they wait.

Sometimes we get our way after all the waiting like when we were approved for a loan to purchase the lot we stumbled on and fell in love with. Sometimes we don’t, like my husband’s dad dying even though we hoped he’d bounce back like after his heart attack and cancer. This is when we wait to find the good in what didn’t go our way.

Because waiting is inevitable and results are unpredictable, the best we can hope for is to wait well.

I’m aggravated by how much time Hurricane Irma has already taken up and without one iota of anything productive to show for it. I’ve checked her path too often, but not as much as I would have if it hadn’t been for y’all. I’m more accountable when I’m writing about how I act. However, I’ve still squandered time on The Weather Channel and Facebook to get updates that are speculation.

So, what does it look like to wait well?

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Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Isn’t his quote beautiful, full of grace and faith, and an exemplary example of waiting well?

And hard … isn’t it hard?

It is for me. It’s easier to wait until life gets easier. It’s hard enough to do my own life under ideal circumstances, much less high winds of stress. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, I’ll wait until things settle down and then I’ll take care of _____ (fill in the blank with whatever is my next project).

I’m almost 60 and guess what? Things aren’t settling down, so I need to. I want to. 

I’ve gotten into the habit (again) of holding my breath and waiting for “this too shall pass.” I noticed I’m mostly waiting instead of living. When I quit teaching, I promised myself I’d never live like this again, waiting all week and every week for Friday afternoons so I could breathe, only to dread Sunday evenings because it meant going back to work on Monday.

But I didn’t make a plan. I didn’t ask, “How can I wait well?” So, I’m asking now.

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For today, instead of checking The Weather Channel 13 dozen times, I can finish writing this blog post, find images to post with it, and maybe help one other person change their focus too. It’s already helping to change mine.

For today, instead of fretting over “what ifs,” I can hang artwork I recently bought as a focus for decorating the home we plan to build. I’d hate for the painting to be ruined during a storm, though, but it won’t fit in my car anyway, so hang it.

For today, instead of calling my husband with my concerns, I can settle my soul by reading and saying a prayer like “God, help us.” Besides, John’s busy helping customers secure their properties. He’s already found a way to wait well.

I could go on and on comparing less productive scenarios to more productive ones, but I’ve made the point. We can live today or waste it. We hear “today is all we have,” but we don’t live like we believe it. Even though I’d appreciate living under less stress than that of the past year, I believe the answer isn’t in wishing my circumstances were different, but in being different myself. As I practice waiting well, life will be well.

I’d love to hear from you about ways you wait well. It’s another way we can help each other with “getting your own life while loving the people in it.”

Praying for Houston and all who are in Irma’s way. Be safe and know I love y’all dearly.

In This Together,
Kim

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Stand For Something Instead of Against Everything

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“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” Mother Teresa

Watching friends stand against a candidate drove me a little crazy by the end of the 2017 presidential election. Too many friends were campaigning and voting against a person instead of for one. I understood the dilemma, but tearing down the other candidate, as well as the people voting for him or her, didn’t stand a chance of helping their person win.

“Anti” is divisive. Take a look at its synonyms from Thesaurus.com: contradictory, contrary, irreconcilable, negating, antagonistic. On the flipside, its antonyms include harmonious, equal, confirming, consistent, and reconciled.

Posts, memes, and comments standing against something bother me even when I agree. I’m anti-racist. However, when friends put this announcement across their profile pictures or lecture about it on social media, it seems they’re stirring a pot instead of practicing and setting an example of tolerance. Their anti-isms smack with arrogance instead of acceptance.

This reminds me of the white woman who came to our faculty meeting for an afternoon of race relations training. She seemed professional and qualified enough until teachers questioned her ideal solutions that work in textbooks, but not in a classroom. She sneered, argued, and put down those who didn’t agree with her. She turned out to be prejudiced against anyone she decided wasn’t open-minded like her. It was strange to watch her act out what she preached against – intolerance, conflict, and supremacy.

Around conflicted people like her, I end up feeling defensive and confused. I’m pretty certain others do too since teachers in that meeting became aggressive and upset just like I see friends do on Facebook and Twitter when people preach love, but don’t stand for it.

I think this happens because it’s easier to preach anti-racism than to practice loving everyone. It’s easier for a friend to talk anti-abortion rhetoric than to listen to a mutual friend who regrets having one. It’s simpler to quote a Bible verse we’re convinced means God stands against homosexuality than to address whether or not we stand against it.

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We blame a lot on political correctness, but I’m not so sure the problem isn’t that we’re turning into people who too often “stand against” to avoid the work it takes to stand together. We’re “anti” instead of finding something to stand for and making it happen. It’s easier to be bitter than better. We’re too lazy to do much except protest verbally or carry a sign.

One of the most disturbing posts I’ve read on Facebook wasn’t about politics, but the school pickup line. A mom attacked (in writing) three early-arriving parents that she noticed sitting at the head of the line when she rode by the school while running errands. She wrote that their early arrival created children who will likely end up feeling entitled and, as a result, bully other students. What? Where’d that come from?

She admitted to not knowing these early-arriving parents or their kids, but still she stood against them.

Her post and her assumptions sounded bizarre to me, but she drew a crowd of Facebook friends who agreed that parents who consistently pick up their children early were overly attentive, coddling parents that raised spoiled brats who were likely to pick on others – her friends actually wrote this stuff. A father who knew the accusatory mom called timeout, but that didn’t stop her or what snowballed on her page – a whole lot of people standing against something ridiculous. I mean, we’ll fall for anything, won’t we?

The power of standing for something dawned on me when a friend ran for a public office and asked if she could run her ideas by me. She planned to stand against the two controversial motorcycle rallies held in Myrtle Beach every May – controversial because the beach is overrun with bikes for most of the month and safety and enjoyment for residents and other visitors become an issue. I said, “I’d choose to stand for something instead of against motorcycles.”

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I’d recently read an article on the topic of “standing for,” which was the reason I thought the advice might be helpful. As it turned out, she nearly won the election as an unknown and an unlikely candidate. I believe it’s because she ran on a positive platform, “Bring back the month of May.”

It’s the same as Mother Teresa said, invite me when you’re planning to do something for the good of people, not when you’re fighting against them.

I’m drawn to people and posts that rally around making a contribution rather than ones that breed contempt. However, I’m more stirred by the latter and more tempted to react, a trait I don’t like about myself. I want the opposite, which means following our minister Chuck Murphy’s lead. He says, “Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.”

My problem is, the lazy drama queen on the opposite shoulder from my Jiminy Cricket (my conscience) says, “Let’s stand against the people spreading darkness. We’ll complain about and judge them. That way, we’ll feel better about ourselves because, after all, we’re not like them.”

And then one day, we all look the same … standing against causes and statues and each other.

What I loved about Martin Luther King Jr. is he didn’t work from a grudge, but from grace. I’ve read dozens of his quotes, as well as Mother Teresa’s, and I haven’t found one that stands against anything. These two offer guidance, not guilt. Gratitude instead of griping. Graciousness instead grief. They said things like, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” and “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”

I was first attracted to Glennon Doyal Melton, the popular Momastery blogger and author who wrote Love Warrior, because she loved fiercely. That was, until she took a political stand last year. Now it seems she stands against pretty much everything. She calls people together to stand against something – at least, that how it appears from here.

I wondered if I was standing against her because her life doesn’t look like mine anymore. She announced a year or so ago that she’s gay and in May, she married her wife. I didn’t figure out what bothered me about her until I heard from Ellen DeGeneres who has a similar lifestyle as Glennon’s. Ellen finally stood against something when she said on her show, “You know what really irks me?”

My heart sank, but I listened anyway. I’d admired her for not participating in negativity and for not getting caught up in and using her influence in a fight she could easily join. I was relieved her “irk” wasn’t some politically charged rant, but people who don’t return their shopping carts to the right place.

Ellen stands for instead of against until it comes to courtesy in the grocery store parking lot. I can deal with that. She’s proof that “standing for” is not about a lifestyle, but an attitude. She’s not a warrior, but a winner. She’s not about fighting against things, but finding the good she can do and doing it.

I’m all for fighting when it’ll do some good, but mostly I find I’m more effective (and so is everyone I’ve observed) when I find something to stand for and walk in that direction.

Are you fighting against things and maybe getting frustrated because of it? Or are you standing up for something that’ll make life worth walking through?

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,
Kim

The Legacy I Live and Leave Matters

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“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

In the wake of his dad’s death in April, my husband John reminded me a legacy can just as easily be negative as positive. He said, “I’m my dad. I’m overweight, I have a bad attitude, and I blame others and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way.”

He was being especially hard on himself and his dad that evening. However, what he was experiencing and expressing is exactly what happens when we face death. After our goodbyes and burying the people we love, we’re left with whatever they left us – an inheritance or debt; the work of cleaning out their stuff; what they willed us or didn’t will us; what they gave to others that we didn’t get; what we got that someone else thinks they should have; the pain of family turning against one another; the fear we’ll turn too.

Mostly, we’re left with their legacy – the one we inherit even if they didn’t leave us money or goods.

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I thought about Dad’s legacy this past Sunday, August 13th on the twelfth anniversary of his death. Dad and I were estranged the final three years of his life. If I’d had a Fitbit back then, I would have exceeded every step goal walking back and forth to my upstairs bathroom window that overlooked our driveway, looking for his truck to pull in one more time.

I recognize now that Dad loved hard, took things hard when he was hurt by people, and acted hard towards them afterwards. I understand more about his response when I wished him a happy 70th birthday and he said, “I hope the next 70 are better.” I figured out some about why driving eight blocks to my house was too difficult for him and why him saying “I’m sorry” seemed impossible.

In light of his legacy and the one left by John’s dad too, I’ve pondered a question I heard at a women’s conference. The speaker talked about working with survivors of sexual abuse. I wrote about it here, “Whose Legacy Are You Living?” She said it helped to ask the women something like, “Whose legacy are you living, your abuser’s or yours?”

I was pretty sure I could answer for John and me. We’re living the legacies of our fathers.

Dad struggled with family relationships and with having friends. He struggled with self-esteem and self-doubt. He struggled to get over being hurt and sad.

Dad also painted, made pottery, and wrote love letters to us. One he wrote to me a couple of months after I was born is taped in my baby book. He played board games with me when I begged. He collected oriental figurines, he added to my doll collection, and he accumulated unusual postage stamps. Dad oversaw building a house for his mom, remodeled the house we lived in, and talked about buying and fixing up a beach house.

He bought a motel and opened an ice cream parlor after he returned from Vietnam that marked his retirement from the Air Force. He walked, rode his bike, and jumped rope in our backyard. A couple of times a week, he’d put on boots with metal hooks on the toes and, to improve his blood flow, he’d hang upside down from a bar he mounted between two trees. I’d watch him from the kitchen window. Dad read the Bible cover-to-cover at least twice. He crafted lanterns and planters to give away and built a toy box for each of his four grandchildren.

 

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I didn’t have to go on and on here, listing every memory of Dad that’s good and fun and quirky, but I wanted to. It reminds me how much our daily choices matter, just like my friend told her dad when he was dying alone and lonely. On his deathbed, he asked her, “How’d I get here?”

“Thousands of bad choices, Dad,” she said. It was all she could think to tell him. Their conversation haunts me, but hopefully it saved him like the thief who hung by Jesus on the cross. In the last minutes, his legacy changed.

So, here’s the thing about a legacy – we leave one, good or bad, whether we intend to or not. There are qualities from both of our dads we hope to keep alive, and ones we don’t.

Here’s another thing about legacy – it matters. John and I gave voice to this when we recognized how much our dads’ legacies shaped us, even our body shape, our weight.

The final thing about legacy – we decide.

Each one of us has been influenced by someone, but we’re not destined to live how they lived. We decide whose legacy we’re living – a parent, an abuser, a mentor. We decide whether we’ll live out their difficult ways or their productive and creative ones. We decide if we want to ditch everything they modeled and live differently. We decide whether to be sloppy about our own legacies or intentional.

I knew I’d inherited my dad’s creative spirit even though I hadn’t given him credit for my painting and writing until just now. He definitely passed on his appreciation for homes and remodeling them. I’ve enjoyed collecting things most of my life like artwork and shoes (a justifiable collection, I think). I started walking daily when I was pregnant with our son and kept it up for nearly three decades. It never crossed my mind until writing this, though, that I’d taken on Dad’s melancholy mood.

Legacy. We leave one. It matters. We decide on our own.

Whose legacy are you living? Is it one you want to keep going?

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,
Kim

The Drama Triangle (replace your role with your purpose)

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“We all have family dysfunction. It’s why we’re successful, to fill that hole.” Eli Attie

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My husband John and I kept a distance from our families of origin for years, even while one or both parents were alive. It wasn’t an ideal choice, but I didn’t think our marriage would survive otherwise, so I pushed for detachment. We’d leave family get-togethers and I’d exhaust him by scrutinizing how everyone acted. A family member filled me in later about bets they placed on how long our marriage would last. I didn’t have energy to fight John and confront that kind of judgment I suspected was happening.

By the time I heard the story, it was because of the irony of it – we were the only couple in the family still married to our original partner. Maybe I was right about having a better chance of staying together if we detached from family even though I didn’t understand why.

It wasn’t until I attended a daylong workshop for counselors to earn CEUs and do personal work that I heard about the Drama Triangle. I preferred a miracle, but instead I got a lesson. There are plenty of theories about family dynamics, but this one had our families’ names written all over it.

Understanding my role (and theirs) in both families, the one I grew up in and the one I married into, helped me grasp why I detached from them, and it’s helped me get my own life while loving the people in it even if from afar. I hope this explanation of the Drama Triangle helps you also – to identify what’s happening in your family, to identify your role, and to gain momentum toward changing it if necessary so you can get your own life.

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The Drama Triangle
(persecutor, rescuer designated to the top two angles, victim at the bottom)

Dysfunction usually happens when we react instead of intentionally act. Unless we work at relating to each other as adult to adult, we typically react based on whatever role we’re stuck in from our families of origin. Acting as adults is our true role and the goal for when we leave behind the drama of the triangle.

In Psychology Today’s article “The Relationship Triangle,” the author tells how marriage partners run amuck around the triangle and how they trade off their parts although each one has a primary destructive role. The triangle can just as easily exist in a big family, a friendship, a school (I saw it happen at the elementary school where I taught), a small business, or a large corporation.

The Drama Triangle includes a persecutor, a rescuer, and a victim. I’m using the pronoun “he” to keep the portrayals easy to read.

The Persecutor says, “What’s your problem?” He accuses, attacks, and acts out because of his anger and frustration. Sometimes he’s simply pointing out to the family that there is a problem, one they don’t want to talk about, and then becomes the problem himself. The persecutor needs a victim to take out his emotions on and a rescuer to absorb more of his negativity.

The Rescuer says, “I’ll save you.” He controls by doing good works for the victim, which turns out okay as long as the victim follows the rescuer’s instructions and the rescuer doesn’t tire of enabling – doing for the victim what he can and should do for himself. The rescuer needs a victim to save, as well as a persecutor from whom to save the victim.

The Victim says, “Poor me.” He is anxious, hurt, and helpless. He needs a persecutor to keep piling on the pain. That way, a rescuer can continue protecting and taking care of him.

I say, “Get off.” 

I recently read the article “The Three Faces of Victim – An Overview of the Drama Triangle” that stated no matter where you start on the triangle, you end up a victim. A friend pointed out how damaging it is to end up there when she said, “Victims never heal.”

No one gets better on the triangle. This explains why, at the counseling workshop, our lead counselor said, “Get off the triangle even though you’ll likely have to leave as a persecutor. People will condemn you for leaving – for being selfish, for not caring, and for not staying to help the victim. Leave anyway.”

I got off my family of origin’s triangle several times before I stayed off for good. The final time happened the evening a family member confronted me about dropping by my mom’s house to leave her a gift – a dragonfly necklace she had admired. He said, “Why’d you give her the necklace? What are you up to?”

He had a history of accusations, but that one was ridiculous enough that it gave me gumption to get off the triangle and stay off.

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This image reminds me of how hard I tried to fit a square peg (me) into a round hole (my family). It reminds me how often I made my family my god and the Drama Triangle my life. I wanted off the triangle, to get my own life, and for God to shape it.

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Getting off the triangle doesn’t have to mean estrangement from those who are still on it. Getting off could mean getting your own life while loving the people in it.

What shape are you in as far as your family role? Are you reacting to your role on the triangle or acting out your purpose?

In This Together,
Kim

On the side: I did a video the other day on this same topic. I showed the triangle upside down from how it should appear and I didn’t offer clarity about each role. I hope this blog post straightens out some of that.

It’s An Attitude: make it an asset, not a disability

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“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Scott Hamilton

It’s easier to recognize a bad attitude in others than to convince a person they have one or to see it in ourselves. It’s like selective hearing. We ignore what we don’t want to deal with.

I figured this out several years ago during recurring arguments with a family member. We ended up at an impasse again and again that neither of us could figure out until one night I said, “It’s your attitude. It’s bad.”

Our behaviors were similar.

I listed things they did wrong. I focused on them when I should have focused on myself. I defended myself when the right thing would have been to apologize. However, at the end of the day, I was open to having a conversation, wanted solutions, and tried one more time.

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They sat scowling and with arms folded until the day they figured it out, “I didn’t realize until now how resentful I’ve been. I guess I should have spoken up instead of letting it build up.”

One of several problems with a bad attitude is it’s a hard thing to prove when the other person refuses to look at their part. Unfortunately, pointing out the obvious, explaining, lecturing, giving examples, playing courtroom, and fighting don’t help until the person with the bad attitude wants to change.

I was at dinner with a friend who frequently talked about how much trouble she has holding onto friendships. After a second glass of wine one evening, she told me about a couple of ruined business deals. The third glass of wine is when she shared she’d attended a retreat that focused on self-improvement and she recognized something about herself – she was arrogant. After drinking no glasses of wine myself, I recognized that our times together had gotten less and less enjoyable because of what she just admitted to, her bad attitude. I understood her failed friendships and business deals. She disclosed her problem, but she didn’t mention fixing it.

We all go through bad days and difficult situations and stressful times, but when these turn habitual and we’re all-around hard to be around, we’re likely to lose business and friends and even family. Not much wears down a relationship like a bad attitude.

The other piece to this equation is the person who puts up with the bad attitude and adds to the problem.

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We can help turn people we care about into monsters by seldom confronting their behavior until it’s out of hand, and then becoming monstrous ourselves when we fight to change them back into kind people (if they ever were).

The quote at the beginning reminds me of teaching disabled children mainstreamed into my classroom. I watched in awe the ones who tried hard and showed gratitude even when their needs were high maintenance. I felt guilty about the disabled children I disliked until I noticed it wasn’t about the disability they couldn’t help, but the one they could change – their attitude.

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Here are a few insights that help me avoid becoming disabled by a bad attitude, my own or someone else’s.

 

  • Think about what behaviors make for a bad attitude. We don’t all agree. Some people think sarcasm is funny. I hate it.

 

  • Decide what we need to change. There are those of us who need to hear and heed, “You have a bad attitude. Change it.” The other half of us needs to know we can’t be kind enough to initiate a change in someone else’s bad attitude. By trying, we eventually get frustrated and unkind too.

 

  • Answer these questions to figure out what to change, which sometimes means changing a relationship status to inactive for a while or forever. Do we both want the relationship? Are we both willing to work at it? Are either of us feeling sorry for ourselves or blaming the other person? Are we both willing to talk and to listen?

 

  • Evaluate if there’s anything else I can do to fix or improve my attitude or offer help for theirs. We’re only helping them when they ask for help and want it. Otherwise, we’re enabling. We should avoid working harder on their attitude than they’re working at it because this never works.

 

  • Recognize we all have an attitude. Make it a good one as often as possible. Hang around others who do the same. Good attitudes rub off. So do bad ones and they’re harder to shake.

I’m harping lately on how we act and who we hang around since these matter wherever relationships matter – at home, the office, church, on the road, at the post office, everywhere.

Are you disabled by your bad attitude or by someone else’s? If so, how can you help yourself? #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit #selfcaringin2017

In This Together,
Kim

A Lot of Faith, part 1 (we’ve been given a lot)

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“Our faith increases when we’re in enough pain, we learn enough, or we’re given enough.” Bishop Chuck Murphy (paraphrased from 20 years ago)

Our lot, the one we closed on today, overlooks a creek, as well as houses, inns, and a church on the oldest part of Pawleys Island (Pawleys for short). We can take a boat from our neighborhood to secluded islands and walk to one of the island’s finest restaurants. The strip of prime property, the one we can see from where we’re building, is in between the marsh and the ocean. Our view is a little sand and a lot of wetland.

There is affluence mixed with old, original architecture that islanders call “shabby.” Sometimes structures get upgraded and sometimes not. No one seems to mind because it’s a given the property is valuable.

Making the island our home has been a hope of my husband’s and mine for more than 20 years. We set up an appointment that many years ago to look at a house for sale in Pawleys. The following day, the owners took it off the market. We did the same with our dream. We figured it was a sign about whether we deserved to live in Pawleys or not.

We didn’t.

Since then, we haven’t thought much about moving unless we’re down that way and riding around. When that happens, one of us mentions the imaginary line in the road, that place that when we drive beyond it, we get quiet and take a deep breath. Past that line, life feels more relaxed and free. Plus, our grandkids are closer, so life is more fun in that direction.

IMG_7953 Not a geographic cure, for sure. Nowhere could fix us. We’ve had to do the hard work right here at home, most of which I’ve blogged about. Even though we know Pawleys isn’t our be all and end all, for us the place is special. It’s symbolic of something we can’t even name yet.

So, when my husband John convinced me a couple of years ago to sign up for a membership at one of the island’s highlights, Brookgreen Gardens, our decision rekindled a longing we’d dismissed – we longed to live in Pawleys.

The same thing happened when I stumbled onto a photo on Facebook of a stunning church on the island that we joined this year – we longed to live in Pawleys.

And then again recently when we made an offer before selling our house and on a lot that wasn’t for sale (a story for another blog post) – a lot with a dock, a view, and a breeze – we longed to live in Pawleys.

We rethought deserving it. Feeling undeserving is a habit, though I don’t think a holy one. Nor a faithful one.

I’m still not convinced I’m worthy. In fact, I’m overwhelmed by the bigness of our decision and overwhelmed by God’s graciousness to let us have it. Overwhelmed by His faithfulness to bring good from a “loss of faith” season. Overwhelmed John and I made it this far and intact, much less together in a place we’ve longed to live.

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But mostly, I’m …

Overwhelmed by gratitude. I’m very grateful. Tears streaming down my face grateful. On my knees grateful. “Why us?”grateful.

Grateful for restored faith.

Grateful.

How much faith does it take to hang onto a dream? To make it happen? A mustard seed or less – I do believe I had less.

What dream are you waiting for? I hope you won’t give up. Ask often and expect a lot.

In This Together,
Kim

Photo #1 is of our view of the creek from the lot.
Photo #2 is our lot.

Get Out of the Car

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“Get out from your house, from your cave, from your car. Get out from the place you feel safe, from the place that you are. Get out and go running, go funning, go wild. Get out from your head, get growing, dear child.” Unknown

Last week, I vlogged about our minister getting a nudge from God when he asked what to do next with his life. He “heard” go to a football game, get to know people, and talk about relationships, especially the one with God. It sounded simple enough until he pulled into the stadium parking lot and drove around and around instead of going in. That’s when he heard another message, “Get out of the car.”

The very next day, I blogged about my urge when I’m in pain … to get in my car and drive to California. A friend drove the point home in just a few words when he commented on the post, “Procrastination thrives on pain.” He’s right. It sure does, which means if we plan to do anything except drive in circles or drive to California, we have to get out of the car.

So, what does getting out look like?

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Ever since I wrote a post, “Letting Go … what it looks like,” in response to a friend asking about that topic, I’ve thought how helpful it’d be to do the same with every plan of action. Getting out of the car looks different for each of us, but we typically find common ground that either keeps us in the car or gets us out.

Getting out of the car looks like …

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First, I acknowledge I’m in the driver’s seat. I’m responsible, so I think about the next easiest step I can take. I think “incremental.” I ask what one thing I can do today and I do it. I don’t add it to tomorrow’s list like I’m tempted to do. I don’t do five other things before the one thing. I don’t exhaust myself by procrastinating. Okay, sometimes I do, but this is even more reason to do the next right thing. Distractions are how we tire and frustrate ourselves. If I’m overwhelmed, I ask, “What feels manageable right this second?”

Second, I stop stalling and start doing. I stop talking about getting out of the car and telling others to get out of their cars. I stop reading books about it and watching one more webinar unless it helps with momentum. Wynn Godbold, a friend, speaker, and John Maxwell team member, said, “You don’t need another course. You need to write your book.”

I pay attention to nudges (and shoves) from friends and mentors like Wynn. The simplest first step out of the car can be the hardest, as well as the most significant.

Third, I review my goals every morning like recommended by virtual mentor Michael Hyatt. Before a week was up, I found myself thinking, I remember my goals, so I can move on. However, remembering isn’t the point. Motivation is. Each time I read my goals, I’m more determined to accomplish them. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

Fourth, I mark off one personal goal and one professional goal daily before I check social media. Not really, but it’s a goal toward my goals. The good news is I’m doing it more days than not, which means my Fitbit is working hard and so am I.

Fifth, I rein in reacting. I’ve given little attention to how often I put my goals to one side until noticing I put my blog aside in April and for no good reason. I wasn’t helping anyone, only worrying about them. The same happens when I try to avoid being judged, steer clear of making mistakes, and dodge negative attention – I’m not helping anyone and it’s bothersome to scrap my goals. And notice I said “try to avoid” because, unlike goals, judgment, mistakes, and negative attention have lives of their own and happen anyway. Goals only happen when I risk those things and get out of the car.

Until I wrote down these tips, I’ve been hit-and-miss at following them. From now on, though, I’ll practice intentionally since I know what to look for. Are there one or two that may help you get out of the car?

In This Together,
Kim

Pain Turns Us Into Runners

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“When life is stressful, do something to lift your spirits. Go for a drive. Go two or three thousand miles away. Maybe change your name.” Unknown

“There’s a big difference between running toward something and running away from something,” was my daughter’s take on our family’s tendency to shut down, escape, ignore, diminish, hide, or numb out when faced with uncomfortable emotions.

We’re inclined to run away from what we don’t want to face instead of running toward it and healing. After all, didn’t God create us to always be comfortable and happy? If you notice how I’ve lived until now, you’d be convinced I’m convinced that’s exactly God’s plan.

Instead, here’s the truth from Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, “God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”

Running away is how I handle my uncomfortable emotions when I feel overwhelmed, misunderstood, or when I think I’m too emotional, although I’m not sure why I quantify my feelings with words like “too.” Because of quantifying, though, I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I’d like to pack my bags and drive to California.”

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I live on the opposite coast, so I’m talking about running like Forrest Gump.

It’s mostly a joke, except for the time I packed my bags and drove six hours to our mountain house a couple of weeks before Christmas. I couldn’t stay here to hear one more carol, one more “Merry Christmas,” or one more happy couple out to eat. While away and shopping, a salesclerk asked if I was ready for Sunday. I looked confused. He said, “It’s Christmas.”

Pain turns us into runners, even from cherished moments we’ve looked forward to.

I felt deceived when I drove away only to run head-on into the things I planned to run away from – fear and shame and silence. At some level, I knew this before I left. I wanted to face them, but I didn’t think I could.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled onto Amanda Blackburn’s story. She was a young minister’s wife murdered by intruders in her and her husband’s suburbia home outside of Indianapolis. I’ve followed Davey’s blog about Amanda, their son who was in his crib during the attack, and the baby she was carrying.

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Davey based one of his posts, “Run Toward the Roar,” on church founder and pastor Levi Lusko’s Through the Eyes of a Lion. Levi wrote the book after his five-year-old daughter died in his arms. In Davey’s blog post, he tells about facing his emotions and running toward, instead of away from, his hardest fear to face – going back to his and Amanda’s house and laying in the spot where he found her dying. He wanted to stop running from remembering her.

Pain turns us into runners, even from memories of favorite people.

Davey’s post was embedded in another blog I’ve followed since reading it on a Facebook friend’s page. The blog “Bittersweet” is about Jenna Saadati, a gifted fourteen-year-old who wrote stories, played in the school band, and trained for track in the same town where my grown children used to live. That was, until Jenna took her own life in 2013 as a result of bullying.

Pain turns us into runners, even from the family who cares about us and the life we’ve cared about.

Beth, Jenna’s English teacher mom, blogs about her daughter’s death and her life. In Beth’s post, “The 4-Word Motto I’m Choosing To Follow,” she referred to Davey’s blog post about running toward the roar. She wrote with faith that four years after Jenna’s death, she’ll tend their garden for the first time without Jenna, and she’ll hopefully sow Hope. She tells about the “roars” she’s run toward to restore her own life since losing Jenna. #gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

As much as I want to run in the opposite direction from everything that hurts (like these three stories about loss), running away is how I ended up scarily depressed. My story’s not filled with their kind of pain, but like a friend said when she straightened out my comparison, “Pain is pain.”

If we have any chance of not being consumed by it, running toward it is necessary.

The same as Davey asked at the end of his post, “What roar do you need to run toward today?” #feeltoheal #faceourpain #stoprunningaway #runtowardtheroar

In This Together,
Kim

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My friend Jenny sells shirts with this saying on them, “Run towards your battles.” Jenny’s design is based on 1 Samuel 17 about young David defeating the giant Goliath. You can order one by clicking From the Stand Store. (The link is not working, so, for now, if you’d like a shirt, please let me know and I’ll forward Jenny Abbott’s contact info.)

I Don’t Like You

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“Habits change into character.” Ovid

I hate not liking people, but like my friend Betty said, “Some people are impossible to like because they don’t like themselves. The best you can do is love them, pray for them, and stay away from them.”

Nevertheless, I’ve felt guilty for detaching from unlikable friends, guilty for saying no to their invitations. I remembered my days of being unlikable. I hated being shunned and turned down. Instead of staying away from friends, I wanted to scream at them, “Change,” but I’m pretty sure they’d simply yell back, “Are you free Tuesday evening?”

“To change your life, change your habits.” Unknown

My unlikable friends seem oblivious, and even though Betty assured me the opposite is true, I’ve questioned if I’m the problem. Why do I struggle to find things I like about them? Why am I not eager to get together when they are? Why do I avoid them? Betty said, “They are unlikable and they’re unwilling to change. If anyone changes, they want it to be you, but they’re the ones who need to.”

The guilt resurfaced when a friend opposed a quote I posted online. Written by author and counselor Lucille Zimmerman, it’s a self-care tip that says, “Surround yourself with morally beautiful people. We become like those we hang around.”

My friend who disagreed implied I should hang out with all people, not just the morally beautiful. I defended myself, but then deleted it. I swapped trying to convince her I was okay in exchange for figuring it out for myself. I wanted a resolution to why I felt ashamed posting a quote that says it’s okay to hang out with people I like.

In fact, it’s not just okay. It’s a wise choice that is life-changing and character-building, so what’s up with the guilt?

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Shame Said …

Who are you to pick and choose among friends?

How will this make your unlikable friends feel?

What sets you apart from them anyway?

I wondered what did set me apart. I’ve known there was a difference, at least I hoped so, but I’ve never identified it. It seemed that until I figured it out, I’d be stuck with unlikable friends or guilt or both.

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God Spoke Too

I got my answer in an email I’ve been saving since 2014. In it, I’d sent myself a link to an article. I found it last night while cleaning out my inbox.

In the story “Toxic People Don’t Make Exceptions,” Brianna Wiest distinguishes between friends who are flawed and messy and friends who are difficult to be around.

Brianna says being unlikable (she calls them toxic) is a habit. Most of us admit to sometimes being offensive, but not daily and we’re remorseful afterwards. Unlikable people, however, are regularly offensive and without regret. It’s a habit they hardly notice. And like Ovid’s quote, the habit turns into their character.

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If you’ve grappled like me with setting boundaries and letting go of unlikable friends, I hope Brianna’s article helps you also. None of us are 100 percent likable, but we can practice making it a habit and stay away from those who do the opposite. Our character depends on it, and so does having healthy relationships.

#selfcaringin2017 #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,
Kim

2017, A Great Year

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“Faith don’t come in a bushel basket, Missy. It come one step at a time. Decide to trust Him for one little thing today, and before you know it, you find out He’s so trustworthy you be putting your whole life in His hands.” Lynn Austin, Candle in the Darkness

The day before our son received a cancer diagnosis in late February, he wrote a rare post on Facebook, “New job, new city, and bringing a new life into our family … 2017 is shaping up to be a great year!”

He’d texted me earlier that month to say the year was off to a great start because Clemson University, his alma mater, brought home the 2016 National Championship.

At the end of last year, I overheard him telling his dad about 2017 being great since he and his wife had several promising things in the works.

My stomach tightened each time I heard “great,” and not because I didn’t think 2017 held a lot of possibility, but because sometimes we don’t perceive great in the same way God perceives it.

Almost a decade later, I still remember my “great” year that brought me to my knees. I wrote about it here, “The year was 2008 …

Great typically requires footwork, and a lot of it. It means change and not always the kind we want. Coming into greatness often means walking through trials and feeling emotions we hadn’t factored in when we did our planning.

Great means being in relationship with God, in relationship with others, and living our purpose.

I had doubts about whether our family had worked out matters of the heart enough to usher in greatness. Like in Romans 2:29, the verse says “heart matters” are the heart of the matter for God. Since I didn’t think we’d gotten that far yet, I questioned what it’d take to make it happen.

What would “great” cost us?

I was bothered enough to mention my son’s text in February’s blog post, “It’s Always Something.” Even though I trusted what I wrote, I still felt uneasy about the messiness I mentioned, “My son’s right, 2017 will be great even with its messy moments because it is always something, and sometimes it’s something beautiful.”

For one minute, I wished I had not prayed long and hard for us, asking for realness and restoration and godly relationships minus the things that sometimes come alongside like devastation and humiliation. I’ve held my breath while we have skirted those last two.

Just before our son’s biopsy confirmed stage 1 cancer, not the result we hoped for, he and his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, had a baby scare. Thankfully those test results turned out well.

Less than a week after my husband John and I returned home following our son’s surgery, John’s 87-year-old dad took a fall, hit his head on a brick stair, and was rushed into surgery. Doctors did all they could over the next fourteen days, but last week we said goodbye to Pop Pop. He died the day before Easter.

In light of reassuring calls and messages, friendship, and signs that life was happening as intended, my stomach calmed down and so did my spirit.

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I didn’t have to wonder anymore. I was witnessing the price of greatness.

While John listened to his dad’s surgeon talk to the family in the Neuro-ICU waiting room, he leaned close and whispered, “Is this what great looks like?”

I believe it is, and we notice it most during times like these.

Great is recognizing our dependence on God.

Great is cherishing others’ demonstration of God’s love.

Great is acknowledging God’s goodness when we have to let go of things we want to control and keep.

Finally, great is learning the lessons God teaches by way of suffering, grief, and letting go because He calls us to the emotional journey before He allows us to take the action journey.

In other words, He prepares us for the great things (great according to Him) that He’s put in front of us to do.

How great is your year? It’s not so much about our surroundings as it is about coming around to Him.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks, Pixabay, for photos of the Great Wall of China and the historic Great Cross in St. Augustine, Florida.