A Mountain Girls Mind

It’s blackberry winter here in our lovely mountains. For those of you who may not know what that means, the blackberry bushes are blooming, and there’s a slight “cold spell” right now. It’s typical mid to late May weather, but the “old timers” will tell you they knew it was coming……

My favorite part of spring and summer are the blooms. Specifically honeysuckle. I would plant them inside if I could. Honeysuckle, just like blackberry bushes, will overtake any plant they are around.

Yet they smell sooooo good!

Honeysuckles are also beautiful. They are sweet as well (if you don’t know how to taste a honeysuckle, message me! EVERYONE needs to know that one!). As much as I love them, they are hard to control. I have used the analogy before that this was a bad thing…..

Something so beautiful that overwhelms your life without you wanting it to …..

However, today, as I stepped out of my car and inhaled the sweet perfume of honeysuckles baking in the sun, I realized something. Maybe they are like God in our life. . .

Stay with me here ……

If I prune the bushes, or spray them with weed killer, or chop them down, honeysuckles will not thrive.

It’s my choice if they are allowed to overwhelm things.

Isn’t it the same with God in our lives? If we are always cutting Him out, dousing His fire, and constantly telling Him where and when HE can BE…….people only see His beauty where WE want them to. If we allow him to grow in our lives, cover our sins with His precious blood, and thrive in all areas, people can smell Him on you before they even SEE Him in you!

Listen, I’m the last person to say I am perfect. To me, God is awesome. I stand in awe of Him – I want – need – to be inspired by Him.

Today I was……

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Unfinished business

As I submerged my head into the water and let it cover my face, I closed my eyes tight and blew all the breath out of my lungs. Gently easing myself back out of that peaceful place, I took a breath and wiped my eyes…. Almost without missing a heartbeat, my mind was racing again;

There are so many things to accomplish.

As a sigh gently escapes, my heart hurts. Here I am again; how many tabs can my brain keep open without it finally crashing…. Searching for a focus point, all I can see is my unfinished bathroom.

So, funny story about my bathroom…. My wonderful father-in-law began the process of remodeling the bathroom when he first moved on with us. He removed the pink and rose trellised paper, only to find he had scored and removed ONLY the paper. This left scored, sand colored, construction paper-esq, sticky glue paper – as I so lovingly have called it. He ended up becoming very ill, and passing, before we could even think about finishing the project. Last year – approximately two years after the beginning of this “remodel” – I decided it was time to get rid of that nasty glue paper and get ready to paint!

I researched for weeks……

DIY wallpaper removal became my hunt on Pinterest. Then, I would research the methods on trusty Google. I finally decided on a process, picked a day (much to the dismay of my hubby), and began spraying and scraping. I will say the method was efficient. I was convinced, this was gonna be a cinch. Two hours into it and I was tired; I had fallen off of the counter holding a shelf, I was overwhelmed by vinegar fumes, and I began begging my two boys for help. Reluctantly, my 17 and 11 year olds came in and began to spray and scrape with me. Now, I’m not saying my bathroom is immense by any means, but it’s good sized…..and there was a TON of wallpaper. Eventually the three of us made amazing progress, and I let everyone rest. As I was taking that much needed break, I began to realize I had uncovered some pretty wretched looking dry wall.

There was putty, there were scrapes in the wall from where “someone” “accidentally” gashed the scraper into the dry wall, and there were seams. Lots of seams. Not to mention…..it was green.

I almost cried. . . Maybe I actually did.

This couldn’t be real. I sat defeated as my hubby walked in from work. He smiled and said “yeah, it looks….great. Looks like that solution worked well. How do you feel since you fell of the sink?”

I knew then that I was through for the day.

And that was it. It has been a year. There is still glue paper on the top part of one half of a wall. There is some above the shower as well. I look at it everyday and shake my head.

This day? It made me cry. So. Much. Unfinished. Business.

It’s just like my life. . .

Every time I think I have made progress on something, a new layer is peeled off and what is underneath is uglier that what I began with! I have stripped myself of many things as of late. The reason? I felt ugly in them. Someone or something had happened to make me feel ugly in them. So I stripped them out of my life. Only this time, there was no research. I just violently pushed them out of my life. There was no plan for what came next, there didn’t have to be. I just needed to get that ugly layer off and out…..

****Snap**** BACK TO REALITY****

Someone recently told me I need to “reinvent myself”.

I also need to finish taking some of this nasty glue paper down…..

Reinvent. My breathing has returned to normal, and there is calm for just a moment. I just need to take off what’s left of the nastiness, sand some rough spots, and get a fresh coat of paint…….

Will it be easy? Will I actually “be” a finished product?

Who knows. For now, I’m just an unfinished room……full of unfinished business…..

On the First Day of _____ Grade

As the water flows, bumping over rocks and logs, careening around curves, and gliding through unencumbered paths, my heart sighs.

I long to be enveloped by it…..

My soul longs to feel it; to let it embrace my skin, the coolness permeate my nerves, it’s constant movement reminding me of its presence…….

As early as I can remember, I have been drawn to water. The saying goes that I “was born in March, and was in the water by June”. Even now, at 39, when I drive by the river, I ache to be in the water. I can feel in my soul the calming effect it has on me …..

Just watching the cascade entrances me…..

I can remember the way the water felt as our boat cut through the glassiness of the lake when I was a child. My young self, bathing suit on, life jacket zipped, with my hand held over the side of our boat….. Even though at times it stung, the color was beautiful and I could not focus my attention anywhere else. I was lost in those emerald green waters….

Today, as I drove around, completing my weekend chores, my window was down and the late summer air flowed through my car. I stretched my arm out of the window, and let the wind take my mind back to my childhood.

Isn’t it coincidental that the flowing air reels me back the same way the water does?

Oh, but it is not. My childhood was infused with creeks, lakes, and oceans. . . The scent of warm hay, summer nights, and fall evenings. . . Warm air blowing through long brown hair, cooler air coming through the windows of my daddy’s truck during after school errands, and freezing air making my cheeks red as we sled down the old logging road. . .

As my fingers play in the flowing air, I reach for those memories.

I smile, and sigh. Oh, to be young again!To tell my little self to hold onto every moment like it was my last….. Now, as a mom of three marvelous kids, I tell older self this very advice.

So, tomorrow, as I – and many other fabulous mom and dads – send their kids off to their first day of school (be it kindergarten or their senior year), listen to this advice :

Take just a moment. Hug them, smell their hair, cup their face in your hands, and tell them “Be good, be kind, be smart”.

Because these are the days that we get to pour into their hearts and souls. We get to encourage them, direct them, and fill their memory banks with amazing memories. . .

Teach them to hold onto the wind, embrace the water, and climb every mountain…….

Moments….

This morning I am taking just a little time for myself…..before the liveliness of life begins….

We are in the beginning stages of football season. This is the time when my family is engrossed in plays, strategies, and trying to find matching socks. (We don’t use socks in the summer, thank you very much!) Although we have had spring and summer work outs, camps, and many practices, it is now game time. The ante has been upped, and we are all in! We will have late night dinners from fast food restaurants, lunches where nothing but football is discussed, and we will eat breakfast in the car. Every analogy I use will be football related. My wardrobe is strictly red, black, and gray. I will dress in layers to accommodate the late summer/early fall weather. There will be at least two bags packed in my car at all times, with clothes, equipment, and just in case items…..

My house will not be decorated in fall florals. I will not be seen weeding my poor flower garden, or making a burn pile. As a matter of fact, my grass might get pretty darn high…

maybe I could use that as a decoration!

Oooohhhh! Scary abandoned house…..

In all seriousness, every bit of this is truth. The hubs and I work full time jobs. We are blessed that he has a schedule that allows him to get everyone to practice, and that my schedule allows me to get everyone to the games! We are busy…..we will forget to call you back, we will forget we have plans with you, and we will inundate your social media feeds with our kiddos.

As I relax and am writing this, I am laughing at myself. We are not alone. Many parents are in the boat with us! They understand the struggle, the mentality, and the joys that come with this marvelous season …..

Then there are those who don’t.

I have been asked, numerous times, why we do this. So here is the “Jenni, the extended version” answer:

When Zeb was sick with meningitis, we didn’t know if he’d ever play again. The joy that he has now, just by putting on that jersey, melts my heart. As he stands on the sidelines, or runs out for a play, he is being watched by tiny future football players….. They wave at him, give him thumbs ups, and ask for pictures with him at the end of the game. He doesn’t give up. When we spoke about it last night he said “If I give up, what am I teaching the boys?” At 17, he has wisdom some men can’t comprehend. I’m not saying football, alone, is what taught him that. However, growing up playing every year, facing challenges, over coming obstacles, and being part of a brotherhood, has taught him to know he is more than the stats on a piece of paper. . .

Judah? At the age of 5 his helmet was bigger than he was. He was full of tenacity, and longed to be like his big brother. Now? At the age of 11, he is taller than me and is still full of that same tenacity. He gains wisdom from his brother, who tells him on a daily basis “I want you to be better than me.” The bonding between brothers brings me to tears, and as Zeb helps coach Judah’s team, they become a force to be reckoned with. Conversations regarding attitude, gratitude, and diligence fill our home. They are brothers, they are friends, they are a team. . .

So, I – we – do this for the moments. The moments of anger and tears where we – as parents – teach our boys how to process what they feel. The moments of joy and celebration where we savor every smile, every hug, every congratulatory word. Moments that are here and gone, just like our breath.

Judge me if you’d like…..frown when I show up late or seem a little frazzled…..roll your eyes as I, once again, show you highlights of my weekend….

I don’t care. . .

Because, you see, this mommas heart walks out onto the field every Friday and Saturday night. I’m a football mom, loud and proud! This season will be over just as quickly as it started, and I’ll never get back those moments. As my senior takes the field every Friday night, I will breathe in the air, listen to the crowd, and yell until my voice goes out. Then, I’ll wake up on Saturday, and as my baby takes the field…..I’ll do it again…….

This is Me – Jenni D.

The sky was on fire tonight and the warm breeze reminded me of the beach. There were clouds that were dark yet strikingly gorgeous as the setting sun cast a glow around them. There was a woman in the grocery store that was wearing a perfume that a former coworker wore. Why does that throw me into a swarm?

Why I am so keenly aware of every scent, every color, every sound, every feeling that I come in contact with? My mind whirls in a constant state of cognizance. It is never a simple task, my daily living. Each sense registers a deposit on my memory bank. It is hypervigilance in overdrive. There is never a still, quiet, unaromatic moment. At times, I feel like a prisoner at a county fair, unable to escape the persistent overbearing environment.

Even in loneliness I swim the waters of overdrive. My mind pushes itself unwillingly into an ocean of words, thoughts, what if’s, what should have, what may be…..Conversations I should have, but haven’t – things I need to do, should do, want to do – why am I like this? – why can’t I be normal? – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?

It never ends.

When peace surrounds my being, my soul rests – but not my thoughts. They tramp through the serenity like soldiers on a mission. The spears of fear and insecurity slice through the blank pristine space of peace, leaving open wounds that are too numerous for me to cover quickly. Words, words, words ….. memories, sights, sounds, odors……why didn’t I, who didn’t I, what didn’t I …… Tranquillity wanes and the tornado picks me up – once again.

Explain what you are feeling, they say. What is on your mind, they ask. How can we help you, they pry.

You can’t. I can’t. God will ….. eventually.

Or maybe he won’t.

“He made me this way!”, I scream to myself; convincing the dead to live takes power. Power my loud voice – my over dramatic voice – my commanding voice – has not the depths of. “He knit me together! My name is written on His palm! I am an heir to the throne!” Every scripture, every perfect Christian proclamation, every thing my momma and daddy ever spoke over me – can’t muscle through the swamp of timidity.

I cry out “God! Where are you?” Once again, I’m keenly aware of the silence and the way it sounds……

It’s not a voice I hear, it’s not a aroma, it’s not a sweetness on my tongue that pulls me out – or back in ….. it is simply a feeling. Warmth that is intrinsic to my soul. It starts in my feet, and soon my face is flushed. I know you, Holy Spirit. I know you.

I once said the Holy Spirit dances over me, around me, with me. Now, it simply sustains me. It is my constant. Unwavering, as I spin in my own self inflicted – in my own matrix. The Holy Spirit simply is.

There is no peace in my mind. There is no complete and total relaxation. Which means, there will not be stagnancy.

Yes, I talk a lot. Yes, I have a story about anything and everything you could throw at me. Yes, I see shadows, and shapes in the clouds, and the colors of the woods, and the insane way that river water makes even the ugliest pebbles beautiful…….. Yes. That is simply who I am. One day, I will be confident enough to say “love me or leave me. I am who I am because He is the great I AM”, and I will stand unwavering in that proclamation. Until then, this is me. Jenni D.

After the Fog

We walk a path every day, for life is nothing but a journey.

I am forever seeing life lessons in nature. I truly believe this is God given, so that I can constantly be aware of His presence. So it is only fitting that He would speak to me about where I had been and where I am at now on my drive home.

It was the spider webs that caught my attention. There were hundreds of them, hanging like old lace between the power lines. Shuddering was inevitable….I despise spiders. Some of them I think are beautiful to look at

BUT

the thought of something being able to physically be on me without me knowing it gives me the heebie-geebies!

Those webs had been there all night. I had driven home and never seen them. It took a heavy fog and the warming sun to reveal them. It was then He spoke.

My life walk has been a rough one as of late. Being true to my word, I will be honest in this blog. Being called out of the boat to walk on water was amazing. . . not being able to see God at times, not so much. If I am completely honest, I will admit that I do not believe I took my eyes off of Him.

There was a fog that set in on my life that made clarity impossible.

This fog was thick, laden with doubt and regret. It carried the screaming voices of those who were still in the boat – deafening them to whispers that fell heavy on my soul. The clothing of my life became drenched in the constant droplets of defeat. Every part of me felt heavy; each step seemed nothing more than a shuffle.

Shuffling is still moving forward, I would tell my heart.

Then, the sun began to burn away the fog. I could feel it dissipating. I looked up (not that I sank, but my eyes were not focused upward!) and there was a peace that flooded the very core of my being. There is no other way to explain the contentment I felt than to help you imagine warm clothes fresh out of the dryer. One warm piece of clothing can warm your whole body. That was exactly what I felt.

Now that the sun is shining in, I am walking hand in hand with my Papa. He directs my thoughts to small things that are appearing in my life that needed – and still need – to be addressed. I couldn’t see them before. They were hidden by night, invisible in the sunlight, but hanging all in the lines of my mind and heart.

Just like the webs hanging on the power lines…..

It is truth that words and actions of people – ourselves included – can sneak into our core. We may never notice the spinning that has happened. Maybe we never realized there was something crawling in (or on) our lines of life.

Sometimes, it takes a fog to settle and lift before we can see the sticky, intricate webs that catch hold of little things. Those little things that should have flown right through our thoughts, our dreams, our hopes…..they get stuck and reverberate in our soul, causing tremors of fear and doubt.

When the fog lifts, and we allow the sun to shine, it becomes clear…….It is time to clean.

I saw the fog as the most horrible part of my shuffle, but it was necessary so that my being can soar.

If you are walking (or shuffling!) through a fog that seems endless and drenching, I hope that this gives you hope. That truly, He will use all things for His glory – even the fog. Don’t forget to look up, and remember that when it finally lifts,

He will be there for the cleanup. **Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

The Greatest Adventure of All

Yesterday was rough y’all. I ain’t even gonna lie. (Yes, you should have read that with a bit of a country drawl or spin or whatever.)

But today? I rest.

Just after I write this……..

Okay, I quit my job. Like, just quit. No notice, no plan, no outlook – I just quit. Not many people agree with my decision. Let me just let you in on a secret – no one else lives my life. So, after some careful prayer, and some treacherous times mentally, it was best for myself and my family for me to jump ship – literally.

So, I am fully trusting God in all of this. Not that I don’t on a normal basis, it’s just this is HUGE. I have told many friends that I have for the first time in my life truly stepped out the boat, onto the ocean, in the middle of the storm, and am fully trusting in the Lord. Because I have no other choice.

Which leads me to yesterday……..

I am taking every opportunity given to me during this transition in my life. I am praying, seeking and believing that I will begin to fulfill Gods will and calling. That being said – I have begun training for the police officer training test.  Sit ups, push ups, lifting, jumping, running…… from a desk job to that. Yep. Right after I quit, I was almost bedridden with a back injury. It knocked a week and a half of conditioning off of my schedule. But I refused to give up. Yesterday, my back was hurting again, I didn’t hit my mileage, and I was physically tired……

And I was getting ready for a front desk interview……..

Like I said, I’m not going to miss an opportunity.

I’m at my parents house getting ready, when my amazing grandmother comes in the room. She is asking me questions and we are talking I am crying, ranting, sobbing about just wanting to be a part of my kids lives again and quit missing their talent shows, and field trips, and holidays, and wanting them to just be proud of me…….

She speaks and my heart is broken for the second time in two days by words……

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will ALWAYS  break my HEART…..

Not that she meant to – she would never mean to …. She will be so upset knowing it hurt me so. Sometimes hurt brings healing……

She said “Oh, Jenn….I wanted so much more for you. I wanted so much better for you. You are so smart! You could have so much more!”       I will tell the truth, I died for a moment. My soul died. I have never felt like I made anyone proud. Hearing those words, sealed my thoughts. It was true. And the funny thing is? Did any of the people who said things like that not think that I wanted better for myself as well?

Truth of the matter is, I do have better. I have the best.

I wanted to get married, have babies, and be a mommy. I wanted to to encourage each one of my babies to reach for the stars, travel, dream the greatest dreams. I wanted to teach them about Jesus and about singing. I wanted to show them how to suck honey suckles and build dams in a creek. I wanted to experience each season with them and help them see the miracle of each one. I wanted to show them how hard work accomplishes more than any kind of hand out man can give you. I may not own a home, have fancy clothes or shoes, I don’t have matching china, and you are lucky if you can find a pair of matching socks in my house……..but these kids right here? Man…….they are worth it all.

So, I will continue to pray. I believe God is revealing a path for me. It may not be the police force. It may not be a desk job. It may be serving . And if I have to waitress and serve the people who tore me down and made me hate myself in order for me to be able to see my daughter sing on stage or go to math competition with my youngest son or travel to an out of state football game with my oldest son – then so be it. I would rather serve with a healed heart, than miss out on the greatest adventure of my life —–

Photo Credits to mozingophotography.com (Amazing people, amazing photographers!)