When I was six years old I did a bad thing. I mean who didn’t have moments of being naughty at six? But this bad thing has haunted me more than 30 years later.
There was an “older” girl down the street from me named Becky. Looking back I bet she was only about two years older but I was a tiny little squirt and she was on the bigger side so she seemed much older. Next door to me was a girl one year younger named Trish. She was really, really sweet and I played with her when I saw her outside but she was a little “different”.
I was what I call a “floater” through childhood. I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t unpopular. I had a tiny circle of friends and was pretty shy but I could stay on the perimeter of the “cool group” and I wasn’t asked to leave.
One summertime afternoon Becky and I were playing outside in her front yard when Trish walked down the street near Becky’s house. She asked what we were doing and Becky sort of waved her over and said we were playing a game. I was a little confused but stood there quietly to see what this “game” was. She told Trish to put on a blind fold and to start spinning around and she would lead her around the yard by her voice and tell her where to go. Seemed pretty harmless so Trish obliged and put on the blindfold and started spinning in a circle.
Becky started shouting out commands to an eager Trish. “Spin over to your right, farther, farther, farther.” I remember Trish smiling, her dirty blond locks a little matted like summer-time hair gets flying out around her shoulders as she picked up speed edging to her right.
Becky tried to to stifle a laugh as she beckoned Trish just a little farther. I knew something wasn’t right. Then I saw it.
A sticky, brown pile of dog poo on her lawn and an innocent, blind-folded, happily spinning Trish going right towards it…IN HER BARE FEET.
I knew that was my moment. You know that knot you get in your throat, the instant neck sweat that happens and your blood pressure starts pulsing through your temples? I needed to say something and fast. It was wrong and humiliating and I felt sick inside. It was pure meanness on Becky’s part taking advantage of Trish’s innocence and desire to belong.
But I choked..not literally…but figuratively. I stood there in complete silence and let her spin merrily through the dog poo. For an extra twist of the knife Becky told her to stand still and spin in place. RIGHT ON TOP of the pile of poo. I was dying inside…for Trish, for my puny backbone, for being alive that moment in time. Trish had no idea until she took the blindfold off and started smelling the poop but it was too late.
Of course Becky played dumb, “I didn’t see it, sorry” she says with a nonchalant shoulder shrug.
There was Trish left to hobble down the street in humiliation trying to wipe her feet and poo smashed toes on the lawns as she walked those two doors back down to her house.
I just stood there. I said nothing. I was an accessory to the crime. I didn’t even help when it was over. I have to own that.
At six years old I was tested, to a high degree, on my moral and ethical code and I came out the loser. Seriously, I watch that show “What Would You Do? on ABC and I am so physically uncomfortable watching the different ethical scenarios they test people with and I wonder….thirty plus years later…what would I do? Would I break through my introverted wall and stand up for what I know is right. I’d like to think I would at this point.
Mean girls are not a new phenomenon. Nothing much has changed in thousands of years of humanity. We can look in chapter 16 of Genesis and see a prime example of “mean girl” ways. I mean Hagar becomes pregnant with Abrahams child and starts to taunt a barren Sarah. Pride and arrogance her fuel. In a twist of “mean girlness” Abraham allows Sarah to do as she wishes with Hagar and because she drank the cup of jealousy she casts her out into the desert. Peace out…good luck in the desert with you and your baby. I think we could call that a sinful touche.
Is it any surprise that my daughter is already encountering her first “mean girls” at school? It started last year in 1st grade. FIRST GRADE!!!! There was one ring leader in her class and she had two cronies. They decided who made the cut and who didn’t and they made darn sure on the playground and at lunchtime that the pecking order stayed in tight formation. Chloe didn’t make the cut last year but Chloe had two VERY SWEET friends in her class so she didn’t care. Sadly one of her BFF’s moved half way around the world. The girl who understood Chloe the very most in her life. Ours hearts grieve the loss of Lilly.
If you’ve seen the movie series “Anne of Green Gables” (LITERALLY my most favoritist movies of all time) then you would have a pretty good picture of Chloe’s personality. She’s a very intelligent kid, a little socially awkward, very sweet and innocent, quirky, sure of her opinions and beliefs and loyal to her dearest friends. She doesn’t seek out or require many friends and so I always pray that she finds her “Diana” in life. The one friend who will get her and think her quirks are interesting and endearing as we find them to be. Lilly was her Diana but Diana has moved so Anne is a little lost at school now.
Once my kids started public school last year it became quite obvious to me that they have an innocence about them that never stood out because of the community that we share life with. We have been careful about what and who we expose our children to. We aren’t raising “Children of the Corn” but during there very formidable years I have made sure that they do not come to knowledge on many things before the proper time. I mean our house is a revolving door of guests and ministry so they are learning about kingdom living inside our home and loving MANY different types of people.
My kids still love stuffed animals and playing dress up. They play Pet Shops for hours together using all sorts of different voices. They run through the woods with wooden swords and use their imaginations. I feel a deep conviction to let them be kids as long as possible because once it’s gone…man it’s gone. Which leads me to this side bar and favorite Jack Handy quote.
But I digress. So all that to say, Chloe sticks out a bit. She is the “weird” one in class not because she is weird but because she has that naive innocence about her. She would rather talk about Polly Pockets on the playground then talk about the boys in class. It’s caused her to be an outsider amongst her peers.
Last Monday on the first week of school it started. She tried to play with one of her sweet friends from last year but was told by one of “the cronies” that she was not allowed to play with them and “Stop following us around!” Period…end of discussion.
2nd grade Kelly would have been devastated by said rejection but the Lord has implanted such a resilient and positive spirit in Chloe that I marvel. She recalls these events on the playground with a dry, “matter of fact” tone. She states that she is lonely but “It’s okay, the rest of the day was GREAT, I love school!”
My mama bear heart wants to show up at the playground with my clubs and chains and whoop some sense into “the ring” but I know at the heart of meanness is a wounded child. The issue is greater than me ripping them a new one for being mean and ostracizing my child. I’ve also come to realize that I could shelter my children from pain and rejection but the Lord can use these seasons of being marginalized to be extremely teachable and instill a strong sense of compassion and empathy in my children that a perfect education bubble could never teach.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no delight in seeing my children rejected but I also know it’s much easier to deal with this now than when they are a young adult and finally on their own. Life’s rejections only get bigger.
This is the reality of the fallen world. People are mean, REALLY mean. Our freedom of speech and accessibility to everyones intimate details of their life makes us prime targets for vicious words of attack and harsh judgement. We’ve had some really great discussions this week already about how to handle being left out. When you hear your child pray, “Lord help me to have eyes to see other kids alone on the playground so I can ask them to play.” Well my heart swells a little with pride. That’s exactly how the Lord wants us to take these situations and turn them into acts of strength and love. We have prayed for “her enemies” that they would learn to love and accept everyone.
I’m not over here blowing a hot puff of air and shining my parenting trophy as well as hanging up a medal in Chloe’s room for most spiritually mature 2nd grader. We are walking this out together. My heart has BROKEN for her this week. I’ve cried and felt confused about what is best for my children. I’ve come full circle that this is a very good thing for Chloe to go through to build strength of character and to understand the Lord has gifted her with all the power of the spirit. She is PERFECTLY made and her sense of wonder and imagination is a true blessing from the Lord. She need not change or stoop low to belong. Dollars to donuts there is another little girl on that playground each day that feels the same way and they just haven’t found each other yet. We are praying her into Chloe’s life.
Do you have some “mean girl” in your past? Maybe you were like Hagar that was arrogant and proud and you kept those you deemed “less than” under your thumb. Perhaps you were more like Sarah that brimmed with jealousy so much so that she would do whatever it took to get her enemy out of her life. Maybe, like me, you were Abraham who sat silently by, watching it all unfold, and not stepping in and stepping up for what was right. Even worse…maybe you are like Ishmael. An innocent victim of the sin around him. Born into the bitterness, jealousy, pride and envy and paid a high price because of the lack of morals and ethics of those around him.
Each morning I sing a song of blessing to the kids before they get out of the car. It’s not gonna win me a Grammy but I can hold my own. The words are so apropos for children. They don’t begin to understand the depth and power of these words but I do. To hear the full song go here.
I BLESS YOU by Dennis Jernigan
I bless you with joy and peace and love that won’t let go.
I bless you with grace and faith and fire in your soul.
I bless you with dreams and visions most men don’t know.
I bless you with deeper knowledge of the Father’s love.
I bless you with joy and laughter.
I bless you with a steadfast faith.
I bless you with the hopes and the dreams that your heart goes after.
I bless you with amazing grace.
I bless you with the heart of a warrior, grace to stand and fight.
I bless you with brothers (sisters) who will stand right by your side.
And I bless you with courage till the battles have been won.
I bless you with the faith to hear your Father say “Well done! Well done!”
Photos of Chloe taken a few years ago by my dear friend Sara Ernst.
Call this a slight misappropriation of my blog but hey….it’s my blog. I’m sure you are probably wanting an update on Chloe or a before and after post but nay nay….not today folks we have more important things like SELLING OUR OTHER HOUSE to address first. It sounds way more pompous than it is “our other house”. I mean it’s so confusing what house we are talking about we just have so many (eye roll)… We don’t want plural houses. Ever. EVER. So please take this one off our hands.
Our ADORABLE cottage in the city is now on the market today! We need this guy sold and to it’s rightful owners and we need your help if you are in the Lynchburg area and know of anyone looking to buy. IF I could have brought this house with me to the country I would have. I ADORED it and the kitchen….the kitchen…..I miss it so very very much! Its an entertainers dream kitchen.
We renovated and updated many, many, many things and aren’t asking a penny above what we owe. Rock bottom people….can you dig it? Please share the link! Thank you all so much.
Note my screenshot instead of a screen “capture” like Ryan has showed me 1,203,467 times but I always mix them up so now you get to see my tabs and other useless things in the margin. Whoops!
A full gallery of images and information on the house is here or Zillow.
I’m not sure if there is a rule or not about when you have a gap of over a month you need to have a blog-relaunch so people remember you. (no lie I just typed rool…clearly need to keep on the coffee today…zoiks!) I’m going to go with no and pretend I’m picking up where I left off.
But seriously….where did the summer go? We are a mere four days from school starting and I wrestle with the conflicting thoughts of being extremely happy to have less noise, chaos, fighting and mess to being sad that our lazy days, infinitely more snuggles and fun are drawing to a close. Going from three kids to one is a cake walk.
But summer….don’t want to shower for 5 days…no prob bob…pool took care of that hassle! Can I get an “up top” from moms that count pools as baths? You can elevate your hygiene game when you know you are going to drain the water by using actual shampoo in your pool. SUMMERS. ARE. AWESOME. FOR. THAT.
Much deep thought abounds in the pool.
Bennet versus pine cone…pine cone ALWAYS wins.
The truth is I’m a petulant child about summer. The type-A me craves the routine and cadence that the school year brings BUT….don’t cage me in. In no time flat by the end of September I am whining and kicking that I am TOO scheduled….I don’t like feeling obligated….why do we have all these commitments…somebody get me a coffee stat!
This summer was different for many reasons…some of which I can’t unpack right now. We actually had very little going on which made for some long and lonely days but that’s not always a bad thing. Some weeks were fuller with camp, family visiting, lots of not fun medical exams, some library and park visits. But mostly we just piddled around. Have you piddled in awhile? Have you written that word ever…it’s fun…try it.
Miss Clara Jean owning our yard
Love this miracle niece so stinking much
We are in a strange season the last 6-8 months. We have experienced a massive relational loss in our inner circle with some of the closest people in our lives moving overseas or just moving. The void is undeniable and I would be flat lying if I didn’t say I feel like I am still in mourning. Relationships that have been forged by years and decades of friendship and history. People you talk to every stinking day….now many many time zones away. I certainly rejoice in the kingdom work they have been called to and obeyed by we are counting the cost in a different way and I am left wanting. So I have dealt with intense days of sorrow and ache learning to live a life without these families and children.
There are huge things on the horizon BUT we are trying to walk in rhythm with Jesus and not assume we know the path to these big things. Things that involve our house, our finances, our business, our church, our children…..The Lord is revealing in spades a calling on our family and we stand slack jawed on the sideline watching him unveil it piece by piece. “Abide in me….”
I’m an “all in” sorta girl so this discipline of walking in pace with God as each step is shown and not rush ahead with my agenda “Yeah, yeah, yeah…I got this God” is a bit new.
We have been praying for the first step to happen. Really I feel it is the linchpin in God’s plan for us and once God pulls it…this train is moving. I dont’ mean to write cryptically but I want to respect that we have got to have a trained ear to God’s voice and His only because the things we are looking at having to do will require staunch obedience and abandoment. When things are outside the box or not in logical order…especially in this culture you get A LOT of opinions and push back. So this season of “aloneness” has allowed us to draw nearer to one another as husband and wife. This is such a good place to be.
Aww….look at us….celebrated NINE years last week. We’d like to personally thank the large window at Starbucks for giving us that youthful glow erasing acne and wrinkles from our faces. Thank you Starbucks of Midlothian, Virginia…thank you.
We also just got back from a KILLER trip to Costa Rica to visit my brothers family on the mission field there. They are planting a church in the town of Liberia.
WE. HAD. THE. BEST. TIME. It’s not right how rich and fun and relaxing and crazy our time was. I can not wait to write a proper post about it all. I stand in awe of my brother and sister in law and the struggle of daily life there but for the joy set before them…ever claiming… “Jesus is worth it.” He so is!!
You hear Costa Rica and you see the eye rolls “Really suffering for Jesus ehhh?” Ummm…actually yes…. Costa Rica isn’t one giant coast full of surf towns. My brother isn’t sharing the gospel from his surf board “Hey brah…you know the Living God?”
They actually live an hour from the coast in hot, flat, dry, cowboy country where the average yearly temperature is 95. With no air conditioning. Just sayin…. They don’t live in the “post card” part of Costa Rica but they were gracious to take us on lots of day trips and excursions through our time there to see those areas. It is God’s gift to refresh the weary missionary by His beauty.
God is a giant show off in pockets of Costa Rica….and He should be. The heavens declare His majesty..yes they do!!!
There were so many moments walking around or swimming I would just look up and say “Let me remember this moment Lord. It’s so pure, so beautiful, so satisfying, so simple.” Give me this any day over expensive, manufactured fun.
The love these cousins had for one another made us all burst with joy and even tears. It was beautiful.
and clearly no matter where we are in the world…our children can not keep their clothes on. Sigh…..Oh Bennett…..
and the only picture you will see of Ryan and I on this trip. It’s sad…we never think to take photos together. Don’t even have one shot of the four of us (yes..you may have deducted that Rhett did not make the cut. Better luck next year Rhett. He happily spent the week at my parents being spoiled rotten.)
Entrance to a coffee field.
I hope I’ve teased you enough to come back and hear the whole story and some of the real reason we went to Costa Rica.
I’ve missed you all. I am committed to writing more frequently on the blog. Not for you…but for me. It helps me process and clear my head in a good way…plus I kinda like you guys.
I struggle with perfectionism. I admit it. It’s so doggone engrained in me partially because of my personality and partially because I grew up in a home that was OCD…literally.
We were prepared, AT ALL TIMES, for the Pope to arrive unannounced or perhaps the Queen of England was swinging through Baldwinsville, NY…you just never knew! Either way….you could eat off the toilet seat if you so desired. Where does that object belong? Well let me tell you because EVERYTHING has it’s place. Don’t walk in that room!! That’s the room we look at, we don’t use it, you might mess up the vacuum lines. TRUTH! Cleanliness and organization is next to godliness for sure.
Now my mom has come a long way since my childhood and is an amazingly relaxed grandmother. In complete rebellion of her former self she doesn’t even do the dishes every night or make her bed in the morning…GASP…my lips to God’s ear it’s true.
So here I am a few generations in dealing with this perfectionism curse. I think I’m more like a glass of soda where the ice has melted…a watered down version of a perfectionist but I still taste like soda.
I MUST fix our eleventy billion pillows, eleventy billion times on every surface the kids chuck them off of, squish them down or carry off into other rooms. All day, errrrrry day. My bum cheeks tighten together so air tight you would swear I was a frog when I see the fringe on the carpet in disarray, or clothes left on the floor or the kids making out with the windows. On the other hand I let a lot slide too. I’m a confused perfectionist or maybe my laziness just crashes into my perfectionism creating “me”.
I have learned over the last few years I can be miserable and make my family miserable keeping a perfect home or I can just pick my battles. So what if my carpet under the table could feed a third world company. My drawers are sorta organized and folded properly, my pantry is pretty logical, you will find what you need eventually. I don’t measure when I cook, I don’t use drop cloths when I paint, I’m a “wing it” sorta girl a lot of the day.
SO MUCH BETTER!!!
I had a massive epiphany when I took the Myers Brigg test a few months back. If you haven’t taken it before then PLEASE do it…free version here. I really love figuring out why I do what I do or why I process like I process; unlike the introspective, emo, 20 something me that was blatantly in sin and selfish and shallow….maybe that’s why I was miserable???? Not too much to figure out there as much as I tried. Now, in my current quest to “know thy self”, it’s so I can better relate to my husband and my children…BECAUSE GOOD GOLLY WE ARE ALL SO DIFFERENT.
I’m an introvert. Nobody believes me! It’s sad really, I think I breath down the neck of an extroverted personality but it’s a mask. I didn’t raise my hand in class my whole life. I would rather die than be put on the spot to debate in front of people, I am a wall flower at social mixers unless I have a friend there. I NEED alone time and if it is stolen from me I get really angry or emotional. ( I sound so fun don’t I?)
When I read my test results (best descriptors found here) I cried. I felt understood…by a TEST!!!! Being understood is so huge for me. I am an INFJ across the board.
Lets take a little look at my tendencies.
“INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
INFJs place great importance on having things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk. (OH…there’s that inconsistent me)
INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get “feelings” about things and intuitively understand them. INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive. (Oh my goodness this paragraph was a lightbulb to me!)
But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress. (GUILTY!)
Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right.(Poor Ryan) On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments. (This made me cry…it’s so true and sad…but true.) They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.”
OK…now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of me you are probably either identifying with empathy or sympathy or you’re deciding if you still want to be friends with me. You gotta admit it….you are dying to figure out what you are and possibly your spouse or family? It was HUGE for me to see Ryan’s results. We are quite opposite in almost every letter which is why we have to work hard at communicating and giving grace in our different processes. Obviously, you can see I am half donkey which I have to be so aware of and consider….CONSIDER that Ryan could have a good or even better way of doing things. CONSIDER
He and I are so close to finalizing the details of what we believe to be our ultimate adventure in the second half of our lives. A vision the Lord has given us both for ministry and we are so excited and scared and overwhelmed by it. We believe we were created for this ministry and the journey of our lives, thus far, has been our classroom of refinement and growth so we could be prepared for this. But oh my INFJ and Ryan’s INTP go toe to toe so often in creating and moving forward in this ministry. What is the next steps needed, how are we going to do this, what do you see about that, who is going to handle this, stop…breath…pray…let’s compromise somehow. WE are getting there and when I stop and ponder this vision I burst into tears. Just the very thought of it makes me feel alive. So we are working through the strengths of our personalities and trying to give grace in our weaknesses.
I may still fix the pillows 15-20 times a day…but I do it myself, I don’t make my kids do it….that’s pretty “gracious” of me don’t you think? I’m slaying the perfectionist beast as much as I can identify it and just skimming the cream. I am learning to appreciate my unique personality and perspective instead of feeling alienated by it. I’m thankful for my close group of girlfriends that love me, quirks and all. I’m thankful that God has an individual purpose for me that engages my uniqueness in the kingdom. HE has also called you into a specific vision for the kingdom work that will compliment your giftings. It’s a beautiful picture of the body at work.