tis the season

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Stuffers

"Unglued" Chapter 6

Have you ever had moments in your life where you finally got it?

You know, it. That something that has been staring you in the face, but you just didn't see or maybe couldn't. The thing that keeps you from reaching that goal, chasing that dream, or being the you that you're meant to be.

I gave a name to my "it" last night. Stuffing. I am a stuffer. A stuffer who builds barriers. That's me.

I can pinpoint the age I was when it all began. And today, I know why I stuff.... why I have always stuffed, rather than confront - people and emotions.

  • I don't feel safe enough to confront.
  • I don't want to be rejected.
  • I don't want to be left, abandoned.
  • I don't want to lose control.
  • I don't want to make things worse.

Does that sound familiar?

The past 3 years have been an awakening of sorts for me. I've done a really good job on cleaning out and sorting through my emotional clutter... all of the things I've stuffed for so long. What I failed to realize is that I was still stuffing, with food. The stuffing manifested itself in a different way. And I never saw it until now.

Reading through this chapter, I realize that I can build walls and barriers with the very best, but I have a lot of work to do on communicating boundaries. I talk things out and make reasonable boundaries but I don't communicate them with the other person (for the same reasons listed above, I'm sure).

That isn't fair. It isn't productive. It doesn't get me where I want to be in my relationships. It shuts down the communication and only serves to isolate us from one another. And, in all honesty, that is where I am most comfortable. I don't want that to be the case.

So, the question now is how do I change it? With acknowledgement comes the responsibility of action.

An invitation to imperfect progress...

*I hope you'll forgive me for changing up our Faith Without Borders book schedule once again. This chapter simply deserves more than one post, so I'll be following up again tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm A Little Teapot

I'm a little teapot, short and stout.
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up, hear me shout.
Tip me over and pour me out.

You no doubt have heard this story before. Every one has heard about it. But did you know there is more to the story?

I'm a little teapot, come see me.
Oh how I'd love your company.
Sitting on the stove top patiently.
I wait for someone to make some tea.

I'm a little teapot, and I'll show you.
All of the things that I'd love to do.
It's what I think of the whole day through.
Now let me share my dreams with you.

In the verses that follow, the teapot takes us to places she dreams of going and shares the adventures she dreams of having. Who knew that the teapot had so much that she longed to share?

Maybe it's that way for you too.

Maybe God has put a dream in your heart that you haven't given a voice to just yet. Like me.

People think they know your story because they've heard it so many times before,

But they don't really know the rest of the story. And, truth be told, neither do we.

The Author of our lives is still writing our story.

There are twists and turns, adventures and outcomes that we can't even think of.

He will take us to places and use us in ways that we never saw coming.

So remember, sweet friend, that there is more to your story.

You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.

You are meant for so much more than your mind can comprehend.

You are His masterpiece to share with the world.

The teapot pictured above is on clearance at  Dayspring for $8.49!

*"I'm a Little Teapot" as told by Iza Trapani.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Kind Are You?

"Unglued" - Chapter 4

This post was scheduled for Friday, 10/19/2012. Obviously, I didn't make my deadline. And I'm still trying to figure out why...

Life has been a little hectic lately. My daughter turned 4. There were special events at work. But that's not it. This chapter of "Unglued" hit too close for my comfort zone. I needed to read it - more than once. And I found every excuse to put it off.

I do that, you know. I allow myself to wander and be distracted when I'd rather not face something. And this chapter is a perfect example of that. Please tell me I'm not the only one...

What kind of unglued am I? Lysa identifies 4 categories of unglued reactions. I fit very well into two of those - exploders who shame themselves and stuffers who build barriers. Did you catch that? Two categories... I fit into two! Turns out that isn't unusual... and I feel better that Lysa admits she fits into all four of them.

I can start to give you real-life accounts of my unglued moments, but there are so many to choose from that I'd have a novel instead of a blog post by the time it's all said and done.

You see, "I know I will pay a cost for coming unglued. Somehow, I instinctively measure the cost and decide with whom and in what circumstance I can either explode and let it all rip or stuff it and pretend nothing is wrong." (Are there cameras somewhere? Is she living in my head?)

I have noticed that over the course of the past year or so, I am not so good at stuffing any more. My grandmother would say that I don't have a poker face and she'd be so right. I have gotten to the point in my life that I've given myself permission to feel whatever it is I'm feeling.... angry, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, betrayed. I can feel those emotions without losing control.

And having those feelings is not a sign of weakness. It turns out that big girls do cry. And I can think more clearly once the rawness of the emotion passes.... so I let it come. And I let it go.

It's a work in imperfect progress, as is everything. Now then, that wasn't has hard as I thought. Sometimes what you think you'll see in that mirror is much more scary than the person actually looking back at you. Lysa  said it beautifully.... "Refuse to wallow in the depressing angst condemnation brings. Embrace conviction. Condemnation defeats us. Conviction unlocks the potential for change."

When you face that girl in the mirror - approach her with grace and mercy. And pray for conviction.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's All About the Experience

One of my job duties at work is conducting training classes for people that work with young children. Tonight was the first in a series of six meetings on children's language and literacy development called Care to Read.

This first workshop is full of information on language development that serves as a foundation for future learning. The series focuses specifically on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

The teachers had a lot of questions about the most effective method for teaching children to read. That is not surprising given the fact that there are so many schools of thought out there. My answer? Regardless of what curriculum and approach to learning you use, the most important element is the experience.

Is it a good experience for the child? Did he enjoy it? At the end of the day, it won't matter if you didn't finish a book or read it exactly word for word. What will matter most is the child's perception and feeling about the experience. If it's a positive one, he'll come back to it.

One the way home, I thought about how this same principle holds true in almost every other area of life and development as well. For example, if your experiences of learning how to drive are positive ones, you'll be more confident behind the wheel of car. On the other hand, if your experience isn't so good and is full of harsh criticisms from the trusted adult with you, then you are going to be less confident and likely second guess your abilities.

What really counts and sticks with us throughout life is the experience, the walk, the journey. The desired outcome isn't perfection, just growth. And even the lessons that come in the midst of struggles carry a special weight because of what you went through to learn them. The experience.

You don't have to pray with the most eloquent words or sing with the most beautiful voice. God sees and hears you regardless. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Holding On So You Can Let Go - "Unglued" Chapter 2

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I've been clinging to that promise since I was 19 and pregnant. Scared, alone & ashamed, I left college to come home and have a baby. There goes my life, or so I thought. My grandmother (possibly the wisest woman I know) recited Romans 8:28 to me at least once a day, every day for 9 months.

And it turns out she was right. That was one of what would turn out to be many situations in which I have relied solely on that promise. I'd love to tell you that the peace it gave me preventing me from freaking out every time, but that's just not the truth.

I've cried myself to sleep more times than I can count. I have hurled anger and hurt at undeserving bystanders. I have freaked out more than my fair share. But each instance is a chance to learn and do things differently. And I can honestly say I've done that, too.

Bad things are going to happen. People will disappoint us. The rain will come. It's how you look at those situations that defines the outcome. As Lysa says so well, "I can face things that are out of my control, and not act out of control."

Raising my son has been challenging at times, especially since I don't know anything about being a boy. I don't really know anything about being a mom either. And because of that, I have taken a very transparent, honest approach to parenting. I do freak out from time to time. I also take responsibility for those actions and say so when I'm wrong. I've grown up along side of my son, and he knows that. That is huge part of who he is and he wouldn't be that if not for difficult, unfortunate circumstances that occurred in my life.

All things work for good....

I handle the things life tosses my way with confidence that God will work it out. There is so much release that comes when you figure out that you don't have to be in control and fix things, because He is already on it.

Even today, when I face adversity, I look at my son (now 15) and think of that scared 19 yr old I once was. I think back to the months that I cared for my dying mother, even though she abandoned me as a young child. I think back to the crumbling of my marriage and the divorce.

There isn't much life can bring my way that rattles me these days. My past reminds me that I've made it through some of the worst situations and come out better for it. And I know it's true, I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days of Finding Joy - Day 7

I have fallen off the wagon. Between a migraine and internet issues, I have missed days 4, 5, & 6 of writing about finding joy. The only thing to do now is get back on it. And so here we are...

Day 7. Joy is all around.

The cool air and fallen leaves blowing around in the sunshine. Beautiful.

A little girl's relentless quest to find some bugs. Adorable.

The man of the house (who is not so young any more) making coffee and cinnamon rolls before anyone else gets up. Thoughtful.

A gift from a someone I barely know. Heartwarming.

Opportunities to use my writing to reach and bless others. Humbling.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Coming Unglued

What a busy month October is turning out to be!

There are exciting changes at work with new opportunities to stretch my creative arms. I'm participating in Nester's 31 Days writing challenge on finding joy every day. I've also been chose to co-lead a wonderful community of women through (in)courage. My little princess Sophia has a birthday coming up and you all know how much she loves  party! I'm having to stay on top of my teenager a little more than usual these days, too.

Whew!.... I'm exhausted just talking about it. All of the above mentioned activities / situations, wonderful as they are, can leave my head spinning at times. And that is when it happens.... I come unglued.

Even the things you love and enjoy the most can overwhelm. I react without thinking. I come undone & unraveled. My emotions take over and I'm on a roller coaster of feelings.

That's why I was drawn to Lysa Terkeurst's new book, "Unglued: Making Wise Choices In the Midst of Raw Emotions". I had never heard of her and didn't know how vast her ministry is. I simply connected with the topic. And after I took a sneak peek on Amazon, I was sold!

Her words could have been mine. The "towel tirade" Lysa describes in Chapter 1 has happened in my house on more than one occasion.

"I know what it’s like to praise God one minute and in the next minute yell and scream at my child  —and then to feel both the burden of my destructive behavior and the shame of my powerlessness to stop it.

I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of unglued behavior and to experience that painful sting of disrespect that makes me want to hurt the one who hurt me. 

And the emotional demands keep on coming. Unrelenting insecurity. Wondering if anyone appreciates me. Feeling tired, stressed, hormonal."

Sound familiar? I'm a loving, caring woman, a loyal friend, a hard worker, a good mother. So how does this happen? Why does this happen? How do I change it? I am hoping that I'll get close to answering that question through reading this book.

You can read more about Lysa's book at the "Unglued" website. You'll find great freebies and resources there (along with the first 2 chapters). I'll also be creating and sharing some with you here.

If you are interested in joining the community of women that will be diving into this book and sharing our stories, we'd love to have you!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Finding Joy - Day 3

For the entire month of October, 31 days, I am intentionally focusing on the sweet stuff and finding joy in my life.

There is joy in my child's laugh.

It's like a serenade. Audible cotton candy.

High-pitched giggles and silly shampoo hair-dos remind me not to take myself so seriously.

Life is too short. These numbered days will slip by so quickly.

She replaces words in a song with other silly words that rhyme and laughs hysterically at how the phrase no longer makes sense.

Her silly songs tell me she's growing up and understanding more and more. I love seeing her light bulb go off!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Finding Joy - Day 2

There are some days in which finding joy is a challenge. Today was NOT one of those days!

In fact, today was a lesson in not losing the joy I have found.

It was a big day for me! (in)courage launched their community groups on their website, led by an amazing group of women they call (in)couragers. I am so privileged to be one!

We've been working for weeks. Planning and collaborating. Meeting deadlines and working out the details that would make our community groups easily accessible and of interest to women across the globe.

When the reveal hit the internet, it really hit! Within hours, thousands of women were reaching out, joining up, connecting. The world of social media was on overload and all of our hard work was paying off.

In the meantime, back in the my Alabama world, thing were not going so great. Let's just say that the devil has worked overtime in my life in the last 24 hours. But by lunch today, he had finally moved on.

There was no way I would let my gaze stray from what God was doing. There was no insecurity deep enough to make me doubt my place in it.

Today was filled with in-your-face, unmistakable joy! I love it when that happens!

Would you like to join or learn more about our community group, 
We'd love to have you!

Faith Without Borders Welcome!

Welcome to “Faith Without Borders: Everyday (In)couragement Wherever You Are”!

We’re so glad you’re here! :-)

Here are your next steps for joining up with us and assuring that you are connected to us in every way possible. Please be sure to complete each step and let us know if you encounter any challenges or have questions. This is new for us, too! We are here to help and want you to get connected with the greatest of ease.

  • Make a friend request to Jessica Stinson or Sarah Tummey on Facebook by clicking the link. From there, you will be added to a private group for “Faith Without Borders”.  If you have not used a private group on Facebook before, have no worries! It's very simple and we’ll all learn together as we go.

  • Once you are on the group page, please go to the "Notifications" bar, next to tools and help, and select 'all posts'. This way you won't miss out on anything. :)

  • Introduce yourself! This (in)courage community is focused on “Everyday Faith”. We hope to create a place where people from all walks of life come together. Tell us about yourself – feel free to share as much or little as you’re comfortable with. We are so excited to meet you!

This Facebook group page will be our meeting place. A virtual cozy coffee shop, if you will. So, pull up a chair and make yourself at home!

During our time together, we will also be reading & sharing Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions”. We would love for you to read and share along with us, but if you don’t have the book that is O.K too!

If you are sincerely interested in reading along and purchasing the book is a hardship for you OR if you are interested in blessing a fellow group member with the purchase of a book, please send a private Facebook message or email to Jessica Stinson (myglasshalffull@outlook.com).

Each week, Sarah & I will be posting on our blogs from the book and linking those posts to the Facebook group page. You’ll find a schedule for the postings under the “File” tab.

We will use our personal blogs for in-depth chapter reviews each week. The Facebook group page is where the on-going, interactive “conversations” and daily (in)couragements will take place.

We pray that you will find (in)couragement, hope, & inspiration within this community – just as we have found with one another and our other fellow (in)couragers.

 - Jessica and Sarah


If you asked me to use 5 words to describe myself, "emotional" would definitely make the list.

I don't see that as a negative characteristic, although learning to manage the emotions continues to be a journey. It's what makes me care so much and be so passionate about certain things. It makes me sensitive and empathetic. It's the thing that connects me with others beyond a surface level.

But, just like every coin, being emotional has two sides. Those very characteristics that make me compassionate and empathetic are the very ones that get in the way when it comes to having to make logical decisions. My emotions are usually pretty raw and right on the surface. I do not bury things too deep and I definitely would not make it in the professional poker world. I've learned that I have to give myself at least a day or two to let things soak in and emotions settle before I can make a smart, sound decision where matters of the heart are concerned. Is that the case for you, too?

So, when I was asked by the gals at (in)courage to lead a group of people through a book study with a focus on everyday faith, "Unglued: Making Wise Decisions In the Midst of Raw Emotions" by Lysa TurKeurest seemed like a natural choice. And it's no coincidence that I could use this message in my personal life right about now as well!

The book study begins on October 2nd and goes through December 2nd. My new-found friend and co-leader, Sarah Tummey, and I will be reading and studying the book. Each week, Sarah and I will post about chapters on our personal blogs and facilitate discussion on a private Facebook group page.

We'd love for you to join us! Young or old, married or single, male or female - at the heart of us, we are all the same. "Faith Without Borders - (In)couragement Wherever You Are" is a group that will lift you up and focus on strengthening your everyday faith. You'll find a strand of your story woven into the stories of others.

Want to join us at "Faith Without Borders"? Come on over...

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Finding Joy - Day 1

What a day to start this project. I decided to participate in the 31 Days of writing and picked a topic weeks ago. I didn't realize that today, the first day of writing, would be the kind of day it has been.

Finding joy is just what I need to do. If you had watched this play out on TV, you'd be expecting me to say "Screw it. There isn't anything good about this day." And that is what I would have done at one point in my life. But not today.

Today, the disappointments and let downs of the day pale in comparison to the joy in my life. And that is all about the way I am choosing to see things. I am letting the wonderful, joyful things shine brightly and that is where my gaze is set.

My joy for today - genuine friendship, sincere connection.

People that are courageous enough to be vulnerable. A respect for the knowledge and perspective you bring. True collaborations that seek to foster community. Understanding that together we are more than we could ever be standing alone.

God has given me new perspectives on my relationships. I am changed. Some relationships have endured and changed too. Others, sadly, have not.

Today, I realize that to get where I am going some things have to be left behind... my pride, my need for approval from key people in my life, and some relationships.

I thank Him for every relationship and the lessons He has taught me through them. 

That is my joy for Day 1!