I am different and different is bad

This is a post that I don’t fully know how to begin. Partly because my heart is still broken. Partly because it’s still early. I’ve been up for a while just laying in bed, reflecting, and feeling sad.

In the past six weeks, I’ve been personally attacked by two different people in two different spheres of life and they both serve to remind me of something I sometimes forget: I am different.

Yes, I am a white, heterosexual, Christian woman. How different can I be?

Different enough, it seems.

You see, I’m one who has always related better to boys than girls. My interests tend to be more aligned with traditionally men’s interests. Lately, I’ve wondered deep inside my heart if maybe God didn’t screw up when He made me. I’ve wondered if He accidentally grabbed a personality from the boy bucket and a body from the girl bucket and put them together.

I can remember, from my earliest days, that I always got along better with boys.
I remember that I wanted to be a boy scout when I was little because the Girl Scouts sheltered us so much from any possible or potential hurt.
I had (and still have) a strong personality and I often took charge in situations where no one else did.
When I read devotionals aimed at men, they speak to me. Devotionals for women don’t.

I could keep going. The point is, I don’t fit and people don’t really know what to do with that. They didn’t know what to do with it at school. They didn’t know what to do with it in youth group. They didn’t know what to do with it in Girl Scouts. They didn’t know what to do with it in my internet groups. They didn’t know what to do with it in college. They didn’t know what to do with it when I started working.

Somehow, a woman who takes charge and leads effectively, who offers alternative ways of thinking, who pursues a vision relentlessly is bad. A man who does these things is focused and driven. A women is hard to deal with and a bitch (come on, you all know this is true).

I remember in college, one of my professors told me to “be nice, because it’s the Christian thing to do.” He wanted me to stop holding people accountable because it was causing a headache for him.

Recently, I was personally attacked behind closed doors by someone who I believed was on my team and whose team I was on. I was accused of all kinds of horrendous, yet completely untrue, things. I’ve questioned myself a great deal since then. I wonder if other people question me.

In May, I joined a blogger training facebook group hosted and led by a somewhat famous mom blogger. Just this weekend, I was accused by her mother (who is in the group to provide encouragement) of farming the group for followers and then had a grandiose and heavily over-exaggerated claim set on my shoulders of lecturing others in the group. I’ve since left the group because the sacredness of it is gone for me. I’ve seen her truest, deepest self and she is untrustworthy. She is not safe to be around. The sacred space that was once that group for me has been violated. I have been called the enemy.

When I talked to my husband about it, he gently reminded me that I’m different.

My reply?

“I don’t want to be different.”

I am 31 years old and it was like I was 12 all over again. I don’t want to be different. I want to just be like everyone else. I just want people to be nice to me, to take the time to understand my heart before heaping accusation on me. To take a few minutes to ask questions of understanding instead of words that blame and cut down.

Even this morning, I laid in bed, not wanting to get up, not wanting the sun to come up, not wanting to face today because I’m still different. And apparently different is bad.

My heart hurts so much over these situations. I just want to be the same.

I worry about my daughter and the world she will grow up into. Because you know what? She’s different, too. She’s a girl with a strong personality. She knows what she wants. She’s not afraid to speak up. And the world will try to crush her just like it’s trying to crush me.

I know I can take consolation in the fact that my husband loves that I’m different. My friends love that I’m different. My church loves that I’m different. They all respect me for who I am and how God made me. However, in this moment, it doesn’t seem enough. In this moment, I wish I just fit in and was easier to handle. In this moment, the words of cowards have more weight than the words of those who love me. My soul is weighed down by the careless words of a few people who speak to my deepest insecurities.

In time, these wounds will fade, but the seeds of doubt and insecurity have been watered. I question how everyone will perceive me. I wonder if they don’t like me too. I wonder if I am a bad person and just don’t see it.

Friends, please remember something – your words matter. What you said and how you say it matters. We are dealing with human souls, whether they are across the table or across the internet. Just because we type the words behind the safety of our screens doesn’t nullify the fact that there are human beings on the other side. Humans with feelings, with dreams, with aspirations, with insecurities.

I used to tell my now 3.5 year old that her words matter. It was a good reminder to me. My words matter. I can choose to speak words of life or I can choose to speak words of death. That is my choice and my choice alone.

Friends, don’t use the internet as an excuse to spew your vitriol and your issues. Don’t hide behind your firewall and lob emotional grenades at others. The damage you cause is real and it’s deep. Speak life into others. Use your words to build others up instead of tear them down. We only get one chance at life. Don’t waste it with careless words.

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When the to-do list doesn’t do it

I am a list maker by nature. When I know I have things that need to get done, I write them down on a handy dandy list and cross the items off as I finish them much faster than I otherwise normally would. Something about writing it all down helps me focus.

Then there are days like today where I cross things off the list and I don’t feel better. I don’t feel the accomplishment that I usually do. I don’t feel lighter. Instead, I feel heavier.

So what’s a person to do when the to do list isn’t cutting it?

This week has been so busy, and so has last week, and my daughter is getting more and more in my face. Maybe that’s a sign. Maybe that’s my sign to step back and just BE for a while. What if I were to try just BEING today instead of trying to DO all the time?

I am generally okay at putting the to do list to the side to relax or hang out with kids, but the past two weeks, it’s been much harder to sit down and exist with them or play with them. I find myself drawn over and over the lie of busyness, that I must be DOING in order to feel better or to feel accomplishment.

I wonder if the answer doesn’t run in the opposite way? That perhaps racing to just FINISH something isn’t the answer at all? That perhaps sitting and being more still is the answer? Figuring out how to engage the kids in playing with them. Figuring out their games. Not worrying about replying to that text or checking for the millionth time if I’ve gotten this email or that or if someone FINALLY answered my question on social media.

What if settling down and focusing on the important is really what’s important?

Maybe I’ve simply run myself a little ragged and I need to try to go the other direction. Maybe I need to look at walks differently, while they are good, I can get into the mindset that I should walk so I can cross off being present with the kids, but am I really being present? Or am I spending more time thinking about what I’ll do after that? After I’ve crossed off my ‘time with kids’ unwritten item on my list?

Maybe today, I’ll try something different. Maybe I’ll try to really spend quality time with them this morning so that they are READY for me to disappear and “do other things” after snack time. Instead of pretending that I’m around in the morning, I could actually be around. I could slow down a little and see the world through their eyes and ENJOY it.

I seem to need this reminder more often than I’d like to admit, but that is the process of growth, isn’t it? Reflecting, acknowledging, changing, growing.

Does your to-do list sometimes not cut it? What do you do then?

Recapping and Looking forward

Hey friends!

It’s been about six months since I started up my authoring website, blog, social media channels, and all that business. I think it’s safe to say I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, however, there is one thing I have discovered. All I need to do is be faithful to the step in front of me. I don’t need to know what’s going to happen in the next step. It will present itself when the time is right, but for now, I need to simply focus on what I need to do.

That said, I’ve been missing being over here and the freedom this blog provides for honesty and opinion. Since I am focusing a LOT on writing and writery things over on my other site, I don’t necessarily have the freedom to share as much what’s going on or what I’m reading or what I’m thinking about it or how I’m growing.

I want to try to be more consistent over here again, but with a little more focus and an idea of what to do here.

These past few weeks and months have been times of incredible growth and blessing and I realized I have almost no record of it. I’ve read some amazing books that are giving me lots to think about, but I’m not processing through it the way I’d like to.

So, first things first: authoring.

Like I said earlier, I am about six months into that journey. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to use Instagram and now Twitter. I think I have a decent understanding of Instagram, though my consistency is terrible. I don’t understand Twitter at all yet. I’m not sure what to do with it and how to use it effectively.

That said, I still seem to be gaining some followers, though I don’t really understand what that means either. I know I need to be engaging more with my audiences on their pages, on their turfs, but it’s hard to do that. Sure, I could press a bunch of like buttons and act like I’m engaging, but it doesn’t seem like enough to do that. It still seems as though I’m sending the message that I’m more concerned about me and my message than getting to know them.

I do feel like I have something to offer to the internet and it’s taking a lot of effort to figure it out and get a plan rolling, so I haven’t had a lot of time or energy to spare in my following. However, I don’t feel too distressed by the lack of numbers, actually. I know that I don’t know what I’m doing so I’m okay with what’s going on numbers-wise. Every time I get a notification on Twitter about people following me, my first question is ‘why?’. What am I offering that’s worth that? I don’t know yet.

On the writing side of things, my Bible study in the hands of my beta readers and in the next month I’ll be closing up that beta process. I’ve learned SO MUCH over the past six months of doing that and I know I’ll definitely be doing some things differently. I’ve received one set of data back and she hit all the points I’d been concerned about. I learned that my gut was probably right on some things and I was definitely wrong on some things. I’ll be very curious to see what other betas thought and be able to aggregate some data to draw some solid conclusions about it.

I’ve started writing a second Bible study. I was part of a Ruth study in a theology group I’m part of on facebook and it sparked me to dig even deeper into the book. Instead of just studying, I decided to take it a step further and write up on it too. It might go somewhere, it might not. I don’t really think it matters. What I do know is that it’s helping ME to think differently and to slow down enough to glean some good information.

My christian literary novel is completely finished in its beta draft form. I have a handful of betas slowly going through that book as well. The feedback I’ve been getting has been super helpful and it will be fun to go through it again at some point and incorporate the feedback to improve the book. What’s interesting is that this book that I wrote and had no intention of going anywhere with it after the first draft has been the first book that I go through the entire writing process with. God has a good sense of humor and timing and process.

My fantasy series is coming along. I’ve got about 42k words (85ish pages) and the story is really developing into something good. At least I think so. I’m enjoying discovering the story as it goes and working through the issues that arise as I write. I’ve enjoyed brainstorming with a fellow writer and trying to, first and foremost, get the story down. After I get the full story, then I’ll worry about editing and making it better, but for now, I just want a full draft.

I’ve been working on another fantasy story, one writing prompt at a time, and that hasn’t gone too far lately. Since it depends on prompts, I have to try to fit whatever the prompt is into the story and sometimes, that just doesn’t work.

Even so, I’ve done some other writing prompts lately that have stretched my skills a little as I explore some different characters and a different POV than the one in which I usually write. I’ve gotten some good feedback on that, so it’s exciting. I have a feeling that some of those exercises will come in handy when I finally introduce the villain in my fantasy.

These last few months have been really busy, but really good at the same time. I’m going to try to post about once a week over here as well with more normal, day to day kind of things. It should be fun and it will be good to practice all different kinds of writing.

Until next time, friends!

Echoes of Whispers

I’ve been staring at the wallpaper on Grandma’s kitchen wall for so long that the lines are starting to blur and the fruits are just blobs of color. I can hear Grandma opening and closing cupboards and plates tapping on the counter, ice cubes clinking in glasses as she fills them with Sprite, the only beverage she will drink when I’m here.

“Emma, come over and bring this stuff to the table,” her voice bursts into my reverie and I mechanically stand up and walk around the small island to where she is working. I pick up the small corelle plates that she’s had for as long as I can remember and take them over to the small table, only enough room for two of us. I walk back to grab the glasses and see she’s filled them completely to the brim. Why does she always do that? Resisting the urge to slurp some off the top, I carefully pick them up and slowly make my way back to the table, inevitably spilling some. Grandma is right behind me with a washcloth.

“A little too full, Grandma,” I say.

“Nonsense, Emma,” she chides with a wink. “The bad stuff rises to the top. You have to spill it to get it out.”

I roll my eyes and sit back down in my chair, brushing my black bangs out of my face.

“Take off that huge sweater, Emma. It’s not proper at the table.” Grandma sits down across from me and stares at me until I comply. I unzip my oversized sweatshirt held together with what must be a hundred safety pins and take it to the closet in the living room, hanging it up. I come back and sit down and flash Grandma a fake smile. She purses her lips at me and folds her hands.

“Gracious Lord,” she begins and I obediently bow my head and close my eyes, “thank you for this gift of food and for Emma. She is a gift the likes of which she can’t even begin to imagine. Bless this food to our bodies for strength in service to you. Amen.”

“Amen,” I echo.

Grandma takes a bit of the ham sandwich she made, a bit of lettuce sticking out of the corner of her mouth and tomato dribbling down her chin. She munches away and nods to me to eat. I gingerly pick up mine and take a small bite.

“So,” Grandma says. “What brings you here today, Emma? I doubt it’s my gourmet lunches.”

I smile in spite of myself and then take a deep breath and dive right in. “Well, Grandma, Brent is back on facebook.”

“Facebook. That’s that internet thing, right?” She folds her hands under her chin.

“Yes, the internet thing.”

“Right. So he was off the internet and now he’s on the internet?”

“Yeah,” I say, picking at the bread of my sandwich.

“Don’t pick, Emma. Eat it or leave it alone.” Grandma takes another bite of her sandwich and I follow suit.

“So,” Grandma continues. “What do you think of him being back on the internet?”

“Well,” I say, “I’m not really sure.”

“That’s not true. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here,” Grandma says, raising her eyebrows at me and taking another bite of her sandwich. I push my plate away, my stomach tying up in knots.

“Okay,” I answer slowly. “I was wondering if he noticed me, too.”

“Should he have?”

“We commented on the same picture of a friend.”

“Who commented first?”

“I did.”

“And you’re wondering if he noticed you too.”

“Yeah.”

“Is he a complete idiot?” Grandma asks, taking another bite.

“Probably,” I mutter.

Grandma lays her hands down on the table and stares intently at me. I squirm in my seat and look away.

“Emma,” she says. “Dear. Of course he noticed you. There is no way he couldn’t have. But,” she raises her finger at me, “it doesn’t matter.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter?” I ask, sitting up and leaning forward with my arms on the table.

“It doesn’t matter. Brent is in the past, correct?”

“Well, yeah,” I say. “But why does he still have so much power over me?”

“Because you let him.”

“So this is my fault?” I ask, slumping back down in my chair.

“I didn’t say that dear. This is life. Trying to figure these things out. Perhaps this is God telling you that you’re ready for the next step in your healing.” She takes another bite of her sandwich.

“For the next step? I thought I was already healed from it.”

“Of course you did,” she says, her mouth still full of sandwich.

“Grandma!” I say in mock horror. “Talking with food in your mouth!”

She smiles at me and swallows. “What I mean is that you thought you were over it, but his reappearance in your life is showing you that you’re not. God knows this. And he knows that you’re ready to take the next step. When he was off the internet, you had the luxury of not really realizing he still existed, right?”

“I suppose. He did sort of drop off the face of the earth for a few years.”

“My point exactly. Now that he’s there and if you have friends in common there is a chance you will continue to see him on the internet. A reminder that he does, in fact, exist.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I mumble and pull my plate back in front of me. I pick it up and take another bite.

“Of course I am right. Now, it’s up to you to decide what your next step is going to be.” She shoves the last bit of sandwich in her mouth and wipes her mouth with her napkin.

“So,” I say, “If he does exist and I have to be reminded of it, then I have to figure out how to handle it. Like, whether I’m going stalk him or try to do something to get him to notice me or if I’m just going to live life as is.”

“Precisely. Either you can keep letting him have power over you or you can give it up to God and let him heal you.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing for eight years now!” I exclaim. “How long is this supposed to take?”

“It all depends dear. After all, you did love him quite a lot.”

“Yeah,” I huff. “Before I knew better than to hold back.”

“But you shouldn’t hold back. That is the problem. You become wounded and then you think that everyone is going to do the same thing. Emma, look at me.”

I look directly into her gray eyes and brace myself for what is coming.

“Remember, God hurts when you hurt. AND,” she leaned forward, “he hurts when Brent hurts.”

“Grandma,” I say.

“No.” She cuts me off. “Do not Grandma me here. You are a child of God. Brent is a child of God. As a parent, you don’t choose which child you love more. No matter their behavior, and believe I know this, you love your children the same. Even Don in jail. Even Elizabeth the pastor’s wife. I love them the same and I want the best for them, but I can’t force them. It’s the same with God. He can’t force you and he can’t force Brent. You have to choose.”

“It’s too hard!” I cry, burying my head in my hands.

“Of course it’s hard, but look at how far you’ve come. Do you remember when you’d come here and cry puddles on my table or plan some way to murder him?”

I shake my head without saying a word. Of course I remember.

“And now, you’re here, trying to have a rational discussion about it. You’ve even said his name. Emma, you ARE healing. You didn’t fall in love in one day and you’re not going to heal from such an immense hurt in one day, either. It’s all a process. You have to be willing to go through that process.”

I look up at Grandma and she hands me a tissue. I wipe my eyes, black smudges left behind from my eye liner.

“You’re still trying to hide from these emotions. You hide behind your black hair and your black eye liner and your black sweatshirts. It’s time to let that go, Emma. You can’t hide if you want to heal.”

“What if I don’t want to heal?” I ask quietly.

“What if you want him to have this power over you when you’re my age, you mean? What if you want to be 76 years old and still pining over a lost love? Is that really what you want, Emma?”

“I just want to know if he hurts, too.”

“It doesn’t matter if he hurts,” Grandma says tenderly. “What matters is that you are still hurting and holding this relationship as an idol. Are you thinking of running to God or are you thinking of manipulating Brent? Whichever one comes to your mind and stays is the idol.”

I contemplate what she’s saying.

“You know,” I say slowly. “I don’t hate him anymore. Not even a little. The rage, the anger, the hatred it’s all gone. All that remains is a little hole, a tiny longing, a whisper of a wish for him to get it, but it isn’t a NEED. Not even a whisper – the echo of that whisper.”

“That, my dear, is healing,” Grandma says with a smile. “Whether he is on the internet or not, whether your internet paths cross, doesn’t matter. What matters is you moving forward, continuing to move forward. Yes, you might look backward sometimes, but the important thing is to keep moving forward.”

“You’re right,” I say, nodding.

“How did he look?” Grandma asks suddenly.

“What?”

“I’m sure you looked at his picture. How did he look?”

“Exactly the same,” I say with a half smile. “Exactly the same.”

Everything Changes Now

The continuing saga of Allyandrah and Kru’Nah.
This week’s prompt: Her life changed at that moment, nothing would ever be the same again.
Allyandrah woke up the next morning in a comfortable bed, wrapped up in thick, warm blankets, her stomach not growling, her head not hurting, brightness filtering gently through the forest green curtains, wind howling outside. It took several minutes before she could remember where she was and what had happened the day before.
Kru’Nah’s grandfather, who hadn’t yet shared his name, had gently led Allyandrah to a room and tucked her in after sharing her tale. She tried to remember what he’d said to her. “Get us together?” she whispered. Crawling out from under the covers, Allyandrah immediately started shivering. She found a bulky woven robe hanging from a hook on the wall at the end of her bed. Slipping into it, Allyandrah opened the door and nearly tripped over the house boots set outside her room. She slipped her bare feet into the lined, animal skin boots.
Allyandrah wandered to the end of the hallway and down three steps into the room where she’d spilled her story before. The interior was made entirely of smoothed boards, the pine scent offering a calm she’d never known. As she looked toward the back of the small house, she saw Kru’Nah’s grandfather sitting at a table drinking tea, the outside of the windows completely white. He glanced over as she stepped off the last step.
“Good morning, love!” he beamed. “Come, eat!”
Allyandrah settled herself into a simple wooden chair across the thick wooden table from him and stared directly at him. “You really Kru’Nah’s grandfather?”
“Do you think I’d make that up?”
“Prob’ly.”
“Well, dearest one, I assure you I am not lying. I have nothing to gain from lying. Eat some food here and I will show you.” Ha passed over a biscuit and some sort of preserved fruit spread. As Allyandrah ate, he bustled into the kitchen and rustled up a bit more dried meat and some dried fruits. He brought it all back in a wooden bowl and placed it in front of Allyandrah.
He then went into the main room and opened up a drawer in the small desk on the far end of the wall and pulled out a stack of letters. Bringing them back to the table, he sat quietly and untied the bundle. Opening one of the letters, he slid it across the table. Allyandrah looked at the meaningless scribbles on the page.
“Means nothin’. Can’t read,” Allyandrah said with her mouth full of biscuit.
“Oh, of course, of course,” Kru’Nah’s grandfather said, hastily standing. He pulled his chair around the table and settled next to Allyandrah. He pulled out a pair of glasses and started reading the letter, pointing at the words as he read.
Dad,
Here are more supplies.
Kru’Que’Nah
“How do I know you’re not lyin’?” Allyandrah asked.
“Now that’s a good question, isn’t it?” he replied. “I could tell you that I’m not creative enough to do that, but that still means you have to take my word. So how do I get you to believe me?”
Allyandrah pointed at the first word. “That really say ‘dad’?”
“Yes! It does. I can show you the same words.” He stood up and grabbed all the bundles. “These are just her replies. I’m a lonely old man, so I make two copies of my letters. Helps me remember what she isn’t answering.” He then walked back to the desk and pulled two more stacks.
“Those yours then?”
“Yes, you are quite smart.”
“For a slave,” Allyandrah finished his sentence.
“No, just smart. In this house, you are not a slave, no matter what the world outside says. In here you are–” he looked expectantly at her.
“Allyandrah?” she guessed, assuming he was searching for her name.
“Allyandrah. What a beautiful name.” He smiled at her in a proud, grandfatherly way. “Alright. Since we have a squall to live through here, there’s no time like the present to teach, right? Let’s move to the couches.” He quickly got up and gathered up the letters. “Bring that bowl of food, too.”
Allyandrah picked up the bowl and followed him. He pulled the low-lying table close to the couch and spread out all of Kru’Que’Nah’s letters. Each was short. Allyandrah looked at the top of each letter. They all began with the same combination of symbols. ‘Dad’
“So that one means ‘dad’.” Allyandrah said quietly as she slowly chewed on some dried fruit. Kru’Nah’s grandfather sat without speaking as he unfolded his own letters. Allyandrah picked up one of the letters and turned it over to see the writing on the back.
She noticed that the letters on the front matched the letters at the bottom of the note. Pointing at his name she asked, “what does this say?”
“Kru’Dael’Nah,” he replied. Allyandrah sat back, thinking.
“Okay, so you’re related,” she said. “Then why’re you up here?”
“Oh!” Kru’Dael’Nah exclaimed. “Right to the good stuff! Well, like you, I’ve been banished.”
“What?” Allyandrah asked. “How can she banish you?”
“She is the queen. She can do as she pleases.”
“But weren’t you king?”
“Technically, no. She married into it. Even as her slave you don’t know this?”
“Don’t tell us much. Plus I was always out in the forests and stuff. Not much time for stories and the like.”
“Yes, I imagine you were,” he said thoughtfully.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Would you care to hear some history?”
“Got nothin’ better to do, I s’pose.”
“I’ll take that,” Kru’Dael’Nah said. “Back about 200 years ago now, Kru’Que’Nah, who was simply known as Kru’Nah at the time like my grandson is now, was ready to be married. You must be what, about 125?”
“No!” Allyandrah scowled. “89.”
“Forgive me. My alone time here makes me tactless. So this was quite before your time. How old is your mother?”
“192.”
“Oh my, young isn’t she? It’s logical that you may not know this story at all then. I expected she would be older.”
“Gree-na dumped her off soon as she could. Too many others in the house, I s’pose. Ma just had Allya and me ‘fore she died. Gree-na took us in since all hers was gone by then.”
“That must have been difficult.”
“Weren’t so bad at first. Was young ‘nuf to be the playmates of the palace kids. I mostly ran around with them, doin’ stuff for ‘em and the like.”
“Presumably where you met Kru’Nah?”
“Yeah, we was close, always gettin’ in trouble. Well, I was always gettin’ in trouble. He never got in a lick of it, not that I’d let him. I always took the blame. They shoulda known I weren’t smart enough for most of that stuff.”
“I’m sure they did,” Kru’Dael,Nah said, “but who would pass up an opportunity to beat a slave?”
“Ha,” Allyandrah said angrily. “Not a one of ‘em.”
“What a sad, sorry state that is.”
“Is what it is. So she was gonna get married?”
“Right. The story. I was a palace official–,”
“Doin’ what?”
Kru’Dael’Nah smiled. “I was the treasury official, actually.”
“In charge of the money? What did you do?” Allyandrah sat up, her eyes large.
“Now, now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I was the treasury official and Kru’Que’Nah was ready to be married. I had my sights set on the son of the guard captain, but not Kru’Que’Nah. No, not her. Only the prince would do for her. If she’d had her way, it would have been the king, I’m sure. I fear she rather settled for that poor prince. She had a way about herself and wooed him. I was so busy at the time, I never suspected anything until the engagement announcement came. Imagine, finding out your daughter is marrying the prince through official announcement channels. I confronted her about it, privately of course, and she threatened me. The next year, after they were married, I was banished here. I’m sent supplies several times a year. No one writes, so I can only presume the general populace believes me dead. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting my grandson nor do I know anything about him, save his name. I only knew he’d been born because she changed how she signed her name. ‘Que’ like queen. Wasn’t enough to stick with family names, no, not for her. She needed to be her own star.” Kru’Dael’Nah winked, but Allyandrah could see the hurt in his eyes.
“I knew she’s horrible, but I didn’t know she was so horrible. I mean, sorry, shouldn’t talk bad–” Allyandrah began to slide off the couch into a submissive slave posture.
“No, no, sit. Sometimes the truth is terrible. After the king died, I’m certain it wasn’t natural causes, my couriers changed.”
“Least she feeds ya,” Allyandrah said.
“Oh, I suppose. I am still alive and without her, I likely wouldn’t be. I suppose she is doing what she can to keep favor with the Guardians. After all, they wouldn’t take kindly to her banishing me and killing me through starvation. She doesn’t care about me, she cares about herself. Keeping her place with the Guardians.” Kru’Dael’Nah grew quiet, his eyes focused on some far away point. Allyandrah took another piece of food from the bowl and nibbled on it while she waited for him.
“Y’know, I think I remember Gree-na saying somethin’ like his death was ‘spicious. Wish I could remember what he said.”
“It doesn’t matter now. The Guardians know. But that they led you to me tells me that her favor is wearing thin. I’ve lived a hard, lonely life in this little cabin for nearly two centuries, my companions are bears and vermin and the like. I think that Guardians have heard my prayers and have chosen you, Allyandrah.”
Allyandrah gasped and choked on the last bite she’d taken. “Guardians don’t care nothin’ ‘bout slaves,” she said.
“That is not true at all, love. Guardians care about us all. They’ve simply been waiting for the right moment to strike. With you and Kru’Nah, it couldn’t be a more humbling matching for her.”
“She ain’t gonna allow it. She banished me for him rescuin’ me.”
“I’m certain she sent you into the forest on purpose. I wouldn’t even be surprised if she had the fire set.”
“She wouldn’t do that! Not to the forest!”
“I fear she just might. Prudence is not her style. Only her fear of the Guardians keeps me alive, which ironically, just might be her undoing.”
“But me? Me? Chosen by the Guardians?”
“It does seem unlikely, yes, but what else could it be? These circumstances have no other logical explanation, wouldn’t you agree?”
Allyandrah nodded before she really thought about it. Besides, what else could she say? Who was she to try to figure out the plans of the Guardians? Their knowledge and way of thinking were so much higher than hers could ever be.
Her. A slave. Nothing. A nobody. Chosen.
This changed everything.

Imagine…

I came across this question on my facebook feed and found it to be a powerful writing prompt. I answered on the page that posted it, but I want to expand it more.

You are one of the disciples. Today is the day after the crucifixion. What are you thinking AND feeling?

I woke up this morning lost, confused, and scared. All of us are crammed in this little room. We’d been praying for most of the night, trying to figure out what was going on when exhaustion took over and we slept.

The morning light is filtering in through the window, the dust of the desert air floating through the rays. The morning is cool but I can tell it’s going to be hot today. Oh man, my  head is throbbing. What just happened yesterday? Is it even real?

I look around. The others are starting to stir, too. We all look at each other. I think their expressions match mine and match what I’m feeling inside.

“Am I dreaming?” I ask Matthew.

“I don’t even know,” he replies. He looks he’s just gotten word he’d lost everything. Like Job. I suppose we all have.

I get up and walk over to the window. The city is still silent. Joseph of Aramethia got the body and buried it hastily yesterday. We didn’t have time to do it properly before the Sabbath today.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.

Was it?

I can’t help but think that something has gone terribly wrong. I thought Jesus was supposed to save us. I thought he was supposed to overthrow Rome. I thought he was supposed to be a king. I thought… so many things. Did this really happen?

What are we supposed to do now? I feel so lost. Peter hasn’t said anything since the night before last, when he denied Jesus. When we all did. We all ran away. Is that why this happened? If only we’d all stood together, fought back. Things would be different then.

Maybe it’s all our fault.

We let him die. We just ran off and let them kill him.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Weren’t we just riding in Jerusalem like heroes? How did everything change so fast? What went wrong?

Was this really what he meant? He’d been talking about how he needed to die. I didn’t think he really meant die. I thought it was just a figure of speech. A parable. He talked like that so much. I just thought it was figurative.

I can hear more people moving around behind me. I hear someone sniffling. We all feel that way.

“We should keep praying,” John suggests.

“Pray for what?” I think that was Thomas. I don’t want to turn around. My eyes are brimming with tears.

“I don’t know,” John admits. “But we should anyway. It’s what he would have done.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Thomas replies. “It’s all over.”

In my mind, I agree with Thomas. It is over. God’s kingdom? Here? Now? It’s completely impossible. We can’t do anything else. We can’t do this by ourselves. My soul is heavy and aches in a way I never thought possible.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

I blink and the tears fall. I quickly wipe them away and clear my throat. I turn around and see that no one is looking at anyone. Everyone is looking at the floor. I see John’s lips moving. Thomas looks like death. I walk across the room and sit down next to John. I feel like Thomas, but I want to feel like John. Maybe if I sit close to him, it will rub off on me.

I breathe deeply and try to pray. I have nothing. All I can say is that it wasn’t supposed to end this way. All I can do is ask why.

Is that good enough for God? Will he condemn me for my lack of faith? How can I even believe anymore? I thought we were promised victory.

I can feel myself getting angry. How is John even praying? Who is he praying to, even?

I stand up and head for the door.

“Where are you going?” Thomas asks.

“I’m going for a walk.”

“But it’s Sabbath.”

“I’m going for a walk,” I repeat. What else can I do?

It’s over.

How I manage to stay home and stay sane

I’ve had a number of friends over the past three years comment to me about how they could NEVER stay home. They don’t understand how I can possibly stay sane while being surrounded by tiny human dictators completely incapable of controlling their emotions.

I’m going to spill the secret today.

I place a high level of importance on pursuing my own activities and hobbies throughout the day or throughout the week. That’s how I do it.

I have a number of creative endeavors I pursue, such as writing, knitting, and crocheting. I intentionally spend time away from the kids, yes when they’re awake, so they learn to play by themselves and I do something for me, whether it’s just going to the bathroom alone or writing up a blog post (such as now). I also pursue my hobbies in front of them. I crochet while they watch. I read while they watch. I write while they watch.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m screwing up like when my three-year-old makes sure she has a phone and laptop with her. I get really self-conscious about that sometimes. When I think about it, though, I’m not perfect. Some days, I spend WAY too much time on my technology because I feel like I need to escape. Other days, I spend a good portion of the day interacting and playing with them. I write on my laptop. I edit my youtube videos on my laptop. I do my social media stuff on my laptop. I do have a number of ventures that require technology and so her imitating that is inevitable.

What I don’t understand is how parents stay home and stay sane WITHOUT pursuing some kind of activity for themselves. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to find something you like and engage with it, especially when the kids are watching. They need to know that mom is a person outside of mom. Mom has interests. Mom has things she likes to do too. When they are really little, they don’t understand that fully, but as they get older, they will understand it.

Having my own hobbies and interests sets a good example for the kids, too. At 1 and 3, they are already learning the importance of self-care even if they don’t know what that is yet. They are watching someone else pursue hobbies.

It teaches them to entertain themselves, as well, which I believe is a key factor in being successful. If they find themselves bored, they need to figure out a solution. Sometimes that means they get into my vacuum cleaner and make a huge mess. Sometimes that means they go up to my daughter’s room and play for 20 or 30 minutes.

Yesterday, I asked my daughter if she wanted to play outside while I edited and everyone else napped. She took her friend Elmo outside and played for an hour and it was COLD! She came in and out getting various toys, we put on more and more layers as she got colder. She took a break for a snack. She played by herself the entire time, though. Sure, she needed my help for this or that and once I had to scold her for going into the street, but that’s exactly the kind of behavior I want to form in my kids. I was able to do what I needed to do and she was able to have fun by herself.

As the weather is getting nicer, we are spending much more time outside, too. Soon, I will have a garden to tend to and they will have to play outside while I tend the garden or pick up dog poop or do chicken chores. What I cannot do is spend every moment with my children. That will drive me crazy and make into the kind of person I don’t want to be. When I intentionally and openly take care of myself, I teach them valuable lessons.

It’s easy to take this too far, though, and start neglecting the kids in favor of my hobbies. I have days I do that because I need more self-care on those days, but they are days. Isolated events. I can be hard to find the balance between spending enough time with them and enough time by myself. After 3 years, I feel like I’m finally getting it figured out.

Of course, none of this is possible without the generous support of my wonderful husband. He thinks my hobbies are great and that I should pursue them. He doesn’t get huffy when the dishes have been ignored or the laundry I dragged downstairs yesterday is still in a massive pile in the laundry room unwashed or is washed but in baskets in the living room. He doesn’t get on my case about the house not being immaculate. He does his share. He does the dishes. He washes his own laundry because I couldn’t guarantee that I would give the care and attention necessary to keep his nice clothes in one piece. He offered to do that. He doesn’t complain. He does remind me when I’m going to far in one direction, though as much as I hate that in the moment. I know he cares. I know he wants the best for all of us. He knows that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to take care of the kids and still have energy for him in the evenings.

It’s a team effort. We can’t do this without each other. Mutual support, respect, and understanding. I love my kids, but they drive my crazy sometimes. I am an introvert and I need time by myself to regroup and fill my tank. I make sure to do that. I make sure to care for myself. Also, never underestimate the power of a good soundtrack mix on YouTube.

What about you? What do you like to do for yourself?