I’m preparing for a public campaign. One that, right or wrong, opens my life up to the scrutiny and judgement that is politics.
Here’s the thing I loathe about politicians: it’s a lack of authenticity. I cannot stand for someone to not look at me when I’m trying to engage them in conversation. I can tell, and I think most people have a pretty good idea, when they are being simply schmoozed for their vote, or sincerely listened to.
And I don’t ever want to be that. A schmoozer.
So I will strive for authenticity. I keep being reminded of the Shakespearean phrase, “To thine own self be true” and at the end of the day, when I close my eyes at night, I want that to have been the case. I want to be true to myself. True to my faith. True to my family. True to where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and who I’ve become through all the ups and downs of my life.
I want the votes. I want this job. I want to win this election. But I will not be something I’m not. I will not resort to being all things to all people. Maybe it’s a risk, maybe it’s not smart politics. But at the end of the day, here’s what I know:
God created me for a purpose, many purposes in fact. I follow His guidance and He’s never led me astray.
Some people are not going to like me. Some people, in fact, probably ALREADY do not like me and will not vote for me. And that’s okay.
I have the best support system in the world of friends and family that lift me up in prayer and love and encouragement.
The outcome of this election is ultimately not in my hands. As most things in life are not.
So I will be authentic.
I will be real.
I will be true to myself.
Because I can absolutely control that.
Can I just say that I am thankful for laughter?
What a sad, pathetic existence it must be for those who have no sense of humor. Who take EVERYTHING so seriously that they can’t find a reason to laugh at least once a day.
I know that there are times for all things and that there are certainly moments where one should be reverent, even somber, but if it were not for the gift of laughter…..I honestly think I’d just curl up and die.
In my family, laughter is simply a part of life. It’s what has gotten us through some of the most difficult experiences of our lives. And as I get older, I see the need to “lighten up” even more. I tend to worry and agonize over things that generally never come to pass. I have been blessed to have a husband that knows how to make me smile every day and I am thankful to have someone with that ability by my side – especially on the days when laughter is far from my mind.
Last night, Reagan was dreading the return to school after this past week off for spring break. She’s had a rough year – a rough teacher – and the last 9 weeks of the school year loom ahead of her like a dark dungeon. So, instead of trying to reason with her about the length of time left until summer, or lecturing her on the importance of keeping a good attitude herself, I simply made her laugh. I got her tickled and happy before she went to sleep and, hopefully, caused her to not face this morning with dread in her heart.
Did you know you had the power to do that? Remove clouds from someone’s day? That just being pleasant or bringing some kind of smile or humor to someone’s life can see them through, lift them above their circumstances, help them heal? You do. Laughter, cheer – it’s powerful. The Bible even says it is like medicine!
So LAUGH today! Make someone ELSE laugh today! Smile! And be blessed.
As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I am learning just how important it is to not place limitations on yourself. Or life in general.
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would go back to school, graduate with honors, and seek local public office all within 3 years time, I’d have probably laughed. Or ran away. Because that seems hard. And parts of it were hard. Are hard.
But with each new unforeseen bend in the road, I look for the opportunity it affords me to grow as a person and continue to be transformed into who God created me to be.
These “refining processes” as I like to think of them are what develop our character. They are what strengthen our faith. Humble us. OR – they break us. Most of the time, they do all three in a sort of cycle. It is through these processes that we become authentic, sensitive to others, and, hopefully, less selfish. And most of all, the refinement process shows us what God is capable of when we let Him have His way with us. That He is more than capable of making the impossible possible.
I had the opportunity over the weekend to do something I don’t get to do much anymore. Play in the woods. I say “play” but it was more like a ride in an ATV and some walking around the land and woods that make up my childhood home.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in those woods. Walking, picking blackberries and huckleberries, wading in the creeks, climbing trees. I’d sometimes go and just sit – listen to the creek rushing over the rocks. I have always found that by slipping off into nature, I can finally hear myself think again. Or, I can tune out all thoughts altogether and just be.
As I sat for a moment and observed the river, I was reminded how it always moves. It never stops. It carves out new bends and turns over time, but it never stops. Always rolling on.
This put so much into perspective for me.
First of all, life is full of unexpected issues. Problems. And many times we seem to expect or want the world to stop turning for us because of them. But it doesn’t. It rolls on.
Sometimes we can’t continue to go in the direction we intended. We have to learn to carve out new bends and turns in our path. And roll on.
Sometimes, life is SO busy and we get SO wrapped up in the cares of life that we forget about the beauty of what God put all around us. We forget to be still and know that He is God in the silence and peace of His creation. Nothing heals the soul like being still before our Father, outside on a beautiful day or inside on a rainy day or wrapped up in a blanket on a dreary day. The point is to observe it. Feel it. Appreciate it.
Because that river rolls on. Whether we stop to watch or not.
Last year was the first time I have ever observed the Lent season. I have fasted before. I have saught to be more disciplined in things. But Lent is…..different.
I love Lent. This may seem to be an unusual comment to make about a season that begins with having ashes imposed on one’s forehead followed by a 40 day observance of self-denial. But if you know anything about me, you know that I love a good journey. A long-term goal, the journey of a good book, just the journey of life and looking at it as such.
And Lent is a journey. In the Episcopal faith, we journey through Lent by focusing on the ministry of Jesus and the time leading up to His death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. In our personal lives, many people give up something or “fast” in self-denial but our pastor encourages us to also work on a discipline of some sort. Our prayer life, our outreach, our attitudes. So it’s not just about giving up something, it’s about becoming better disciples as we walk the journey of this season, and all the ones that follow, with Christ.
Doing this last year for the first time was groundbreaking for me. I am here to tell you that after Ash Wednesday, 40 days of Lent, Palm Sunday and then Good Friday service including the observation of the stations of the cross, I had the most meaningful, hallowed Easter worship experience of my life. The joy of my salvation was reborn in a new way and I not only knew in my heart that Christ was arisen, I felt in with all of my senses.
I am, by nature, an analyst, introspective. Perhaps that’s why Lent is a time I look forward to. Maybe it’s because I know what’s coming on Easter. Either way, as I’ve said before, I am learning as I get older that sometimes the journey is just as meaningful as the destination. While the Lent journey most definitely culminates in Easter celebration, the process of the Lenten season is meaningful, and even joyful if we allow it to be as it allows us to see our weakness but God’s strength, love, and faithfulness in spite of it.
And the best part? No matter how much we may feel we failed during Lent, the end of the journey is ALWAYS Easter. Always life. Always mercy. Always resurrection.
I’ve looked up to a lot of people in my life. My parents, my sister, aunts, cousins, teachers.
Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I’ve always found my biggest inspirations in other women. And it’s with that in mind that I continue to weigh the pros and cons of what lay in my future.
You see, I have a girl myself. A 10 year old, amazingly smart, beautiful, stubborn, helpful, energetic daughter that will forever remember the woman I was – the woman I am and am still becoming.
What do I want her to see? It’s a question I’ve asked myself since the first time I looked into her face and saw the vulnerability of this child, this girl that was so dependent on me.
It’s affected every decision I’ve made since.
When Reagan looks at me, first and foremost I want her to see love. Unconditional love. Not just for her and my husband, but for the people that are the most difficult to love. The people that other people DON’T love. The ones who need it the most.
I want her to see strength. Not in myself, but in my relationship with the Almighty. I want her to know my flaws and see firsthand how God works despite them, sometimes, even because of them.
I want her to see a fighter. Someone who stands up for her. A woman who sticks by her friends. A woman that doesn’t let anyone tell her that she couldn’t do something.
I want her to see a woman of peace. Who does not relish in being right so much as in being quietly affirmed in her own decisions and beliefs. A woman who listens to others and turns to the wise for counsel, but a woman that makes her own decisions and then is at peace with them. A woman at peace despite the ebbs and flows of this journey we call life.
I want her to see a woman that never stopped trying to grow, to learn, to understand other people better.
I could go on and on.
But I guess, to sum it all up, I want Reagan to be fearless. Fearless of naysayers. Fearless of failure. Fearless of love and its risks. Fearless of life.
I am by no means a fearless person. Yet. But it’s because of those people I looked and still look up to that makes me confident. It is their influence that has helped me overcome my fears.
I hope Reagan is as blessed to have people like that in her life. And I hope I am at the top of the list. I hope as she grows up, she looks at her mama, the way I look at mine and many other women I have been so fortunate to know, and says, ” I want to be a woman like that.”