Symbols, Boycotts, and Free Speech #takeaknee versus #standfortheflag

Oh yeah baby, things are really heating up here in America. But before I start, I have to remind myself that this is an international blog and that I have readers (per blog stats sorted by country from greatest to least views) from the USA, Canada, the UK, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Oman, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the European Union, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Jamaica, India, the Netherlands, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, France, Qatar, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nepal, the Bahamas, Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Aruba, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Lesotho, Sweden, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, South Korea, Switzerland, Kuwait, Spain, Tanzania, Finland, Vietnam, and the Caribbean Netherlands. WOW! Thank you to each of you who have read this. You humble me!!!

Despite what you may see in the media, America is still GREAT!!! You could come visit me, go for coffee, eat at the best restaurants, visit amazing museums, and 99% of the time be treated fairly and respectfully. America is AMAZING! Women can own property, drive cars, vote, get an education, participate in politics and wear bathing suits to the beach without fear. Seriously, it’s awesome!!! Which leads me to the reason I’m writing this blog.

I LOVE America. I am FURIOUS that people are kneeling to the flag in open protest to America claiming it’s their right to do so to bring awareness to their cause. It’s insane to me. And before you get all upset about that, let me tell you why. I hate HATE. I HATE hate speech. It makes my stomach turn. Period.

When I see people burning the LGBT rainbow flag in opposition to homosexuality, it makes me sick to my stomach. Whether you agree with homosexuality or not, there is no reason to do that even if it is your American right and freedom to do so. You can have your view without hurting others. When I see people picketing abortion clinics and calling broken women murderers, it makes me sick to my stomach. Whether you agree with abortion or not, there is no reason to spew hate even if it is your American right and freedom to do so. You can have your view without hurting others. When I see people using racial slurs and getting up in someone’s face (like white supremacists do or like people did to Muslims after 911), it makes me sick to my stomach. You can have your view without hurting them. And when I see a group of people kneel to the American flag which is a kick in the stomach to MANY Americans – me included – it makes me sick. To me, it is a form of hate speech. And I hate HATE. Even if it’s your right to do so, you can have your view without hurting the Americans who LOVE this country and honor our flag.

When the social media firestorm started, some people were saying that kneeling to the American flag is not about the flag and that the flag is just a piece of cloth. I tried to understand that position, but it’s just not true. Symbols have meaning. Whether it’s the cross, the tomb of the unknown soldier, the Robert E Lee monument, the American flag, the LGBT rainbow flag, the confederate flag (oh yes – many people hated the confederate flag. Apparently that flag meant more than a mere piece of cloth…), these items are symbols that have meaning. Symbols have meaning. Period. It’s why people get tattoos of very specific things that have meaning to them. It’s not “just a tattoo”, it’s a symbol.

To me America is the best country ever. If you come visit me at my house – and you’re welcome here regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc – there is an American flag flying in my front yard, one on my garage wall, and military flags in each of my boys’ bedrooms. Their Dad was in the Navy (and even worked on the presidents helicopters back in the day) and they want to go into the military too. We love God, our country, and people. 

Right now all I am seeing clearly is a double standard. One minute a flag is offensive (because it offends you) and then the next day it’s not personal (because it offends me). And that’s just not right.

So, regardless of what the knee bowing protesters do, I am going to stand for the American flag when it is presented.

#StandfortheFlag

Iced tea cheers your way.

 

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Pause … #WhatsLeftOfMe #Pro31OBS #ShesStillThere

Yall… I am so behind on my reading. But wasn’t self reflection the point? Digging deep isn’t always pretty.

When I met my husband – and God – I was sooooo broken. Not kind of broken. Super stupid broken. Before Miranda Lambert Vice broken. And before Brantley Gilbert Just as I Am boken (go listen to those songs yall). I was Boy Band Heart Break broken. I would wake up at crack dark thirty dawn and go jog to What’s Left of Me by my favorite reality TV show star Nick Lachey. I wasn’t sure what poor soul would be willing to take my “leftovers” but I knew full well that was all that I had left to give. Yep, that’s all I had to give. Leftovers. Awesome.

I used to love that show. Nick and Jessica. In his mind he had chosen his forever one. But she didn’t choose him back. I totally understand that. That happened to me. If you semi know me you know I gave my all to one who just did not get it. I claimed he was the “love of my life”. I even called him that. But he wasn’t. His career, title, money, cars … it always meant more to him than me. So I left him. I heard a sermon one night by Duane Sheriff and he told me to wait. To be patient. That there was more out there. So I dumped my “love” and became single.

The girl who only had “what’s left to give” was alone again. But this time I had truth and patience. And guess what I learned.

Love is… bringing you coffee. Cleaning the bathroom. Making dry rub chicken wings for a football game. Sometimes arguing for NO reason because it’s PMS season. And still hugging you afterwards. Buying a bottle of wine and tampons.

The guy I told could “have my leftovers” ended up teaching ME the meaning of love. Today, I cannot believe I text him this song and only promised “what was left”. He now gets my ALL.

Honest Truth – When I met my husband I honest to God told him that I did NOT have much left. I told him that he was adorable and smelled great and even fit my bucket list. But I just did not have much left to give. But what I DID have – what was left – he could have. Sounds a bit like a prayer, right? I don’t have much, but what I DO have I give you.

Seven years later I can tell you that both He and God took my scraps, my past, my mistakes – and made music. I would not trade Him, his kids, this life, for anything. And it all came from leftovers.

Never doubt the power of leftovers…

What’s Left of Me … you can have. Will you take what’s left of me?

 

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Drifting… #ShesStillThere #Pro31OBS Ch4-5

Even though the author of this book, Chrystal Evans Hurst, grew up as a preacher’s kid, she still struggled with all of the same things that I did growing up. She was a straight A student, teacher’s pet, a leader, in charge, sometimes bossy (no, not me ever haha!), etc. yet she fell into the trap of sex outside of marriage and single parenthood. Just. Like. Me.

In Chapters 4 and 5 she talks about drifting. How we can lose focus and fall into traps. How behaviors that used to be so clear-cut and obvious seem to become acceptable. Slowly and surely over time, we develop a sense of comfort with things that we used to consider wrong. Our mindsets, actions and attitudes incrementally shift over time, sometimes so slowly that we don’t even notice it (like slow weight gain). We become deceived.

The rule of navigation says that for every degree you are off in your direction now, you will be approximately one mile off sixty miles later. An unattended small drift now will, over time, make a HUGE impact on your final destination. I really appreciate some of the examples she gives about “drifting”. It’s not always sexual promiscuity (though that certainly has plagued me – if not crippled me – in the past ). It could be taking a break from school and never getting back into it, working towards financial goals but overtime becoming relaxed in your spending habits again, working towards a weight-loss journey but overindulging on a special occasion which derailed you long term.

Regardless of YOUR drift, guilt, shame, and self-condemnation tend to follow. And in turn, you learn to function from an insecure place. Rather than working towards your once planned goal, you begin to function from this new place of acceptance of where you find yourself. Y’all, I’ve so let this happen to me in the past and I never want to be comfortable in these “less than best” places in my life ever again. She says that…

Unintentional living does reach a dead end and you will be required to make a decision or a turn. The antidote for distraction is FOCUS. The choice to pay attention and live aware. Think about your drifts. You didn’t arrive there off of your path overnight and if there was a way in, there is a way out. It is not as insurmountable as it seems. As long as there is still life, there is still hope. Hope for getting back on track, hope for finding your way, hope for the girl who is still there.

P.S. Her challenge this chapter is to “share a chapter from your story with a trusted friend”. Y’all, this blog is about it. Well, that’s not true. I have several people in my small group and one neighbor that I have been extremely transparent and honest with. But I no longer trust people. The last person I really shared everything with – my very best friend – completely gutted me and I’m still trying to get the knife she lodged out of my back. Thankfully, this book addresses that too. She said, if you can’t share with a trusted friend, simply tell a friend that you’re working on owning your own story – drifts and all.

So friends, I am here to say that I am working to own my own story, drifts and all. I really hope you will buy this book and join me 🙂

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Own Your Story #Pro31OBS #ShesStillThere Ch 3

I was sitting at the auto shop having routine maintenance performed on my favorite car ever when I dove into Chapter 3. Again, I went highlight bananas. Chapter 3 is about the painful parts of your life and just OWNING them. Stop running from them. Stop hiding them. Stop pretending they aren’t there. In order to work through healing her heart and her scars, she had to acknowledge her predicament and own her own story. She said…

So many of us press through the pain without paying adequate attention to our brokenness… we convince ourselves that somehow we don’t need to deal with the distance between our expectations and our reality. We think that somehow, if we just keep going, the distance will simply close by itself.  It won’t. When you choose to own your story, you are not choosing to wallow in your mistakes, your pain, or your disappointments. You are simply choosing to be honest with yourself so that you can begin healing and move forward.

Her personal description reminded me of the Mommy Makeover I had surgically performed after giving birth to and nursing three children. As much as I loved those babies, they wrecked havoc on my body. It was bad. Real bad. I wasn’t sure which was worse. The handfuls of loose skin, the stretch marks, or the fact that parts of my body completely faced the wrong direction. I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognize myself. So, I spent thousands of dollars and many weeks of pain working to correct the deformities. Even though the “after” pictures looked so much better, they still were not nearly as beautiful as the “before”, and now I had very large visible scars too. I was so thankful that it was better, but I was still devastated that it would never be as good as “before”.

That is so much of what this chapter – this book so far – has been showing me. We have these hopes, dreams and desires and REAL LIFE simply doesn’t measure up. We work diligently to make it better, but it feels like it’s never enough. As I read the paragraphs, it’s as if I could have written them myself. She feels EXACTLY like I do.

The same is true with our Blended Family situation. 7.5 years later we are so much better than we were but we are no where near where my hopes and dreams were for our family. The distance between my initial hopes and our actual reality has always left me with disappointment. I call it “the Plan B life”. And each new challenge and situation is another opportunity to feel that sting of hurt and sometimes regret or even resentment.

But I love the challenges, encouragements and reminders she gives and I’ve seen them work to help heal and restore that little faith girl that lives way deep down – really deep down – on the inside of my heart. She said that healing begins with telling the truth, acknowledging that things aren’t working, that parts of your life are disappointing (the things I’ve been sharing with my blended family small group). She said maybe you’ve had broken relationships [yup], have gained a few extra pounds each year waging a battle with your body [yup], have found yourself 20 years into a career that sucked the life out of you [yup], and you’ve finally decided to reset what’s broken, put together what’s been fractured, and give rest and restoration to your mind, heart and soul. Yes, please!!!

She said: Choose to take Step One. Choose to own your story. Be honest. Tell the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly. You’ve survived. You’re still here. The girl you want to be is depending on you.

Yes. Yes. Yes. And I am so glad I found this book. It’s the right book at just the right time and I’m thrilled to be working through it.

Hugs everyone!

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Worthy #Pro31OBS #ShesStillThere Ch2

Oooooh this girl so totally gets me. And I really needed this reminder today because step-mothering and co-parenting is driving me CRAZY!!! Absolutely CRAZY. Nothing has been as difficult in my life (since I was 15 years old) than marriage, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, step-parenting… and I’m on year 26 and sometimes find it all a bit exhausting. Some days I’m strong. Some days I’m a mess. Some days I just want to run. Which is exactly what Chyrstal did in Chapter 2.

She went for a run because she needed time to breathe.

In her situation, her husband had just lost his job due to his health condition was no longer able to carry the load as the financial provider of the home. She panicked. She felt powerless. This was HARD. She said that each person faces their own kind of hard. The kind of hard that even thinking about it overwhelms you mentally. Maybe your hard has nothing to do with money. Maybe it’s your marriage, health or relationships. BUT…

Where you are today is not where you have to be forever. You may not want to embrace where you are right now but embrace WHO you are. Every day you get the choice to honor YOU. If you choose to believe that you are defined only by your disappointments and disasters, you will abdicate your role in this world that only you can play. But if you choose to embrace your journey – even the parts that disappoint you, challenge you, or make you double over from the emotional weight of it all – you can one day look back and see your hard as a part of your life and not the definition of your life. The way your life looks today is not the way it will look forever. Believe that your present is not all that is possible. Believe that all you see is not all there is. Hold your head up and believe that where you find yourself right now does not define you.

Do you remember baby Jessica McClure who fell in the well years ago and was saved on national television? Her darkest moment was only a moment in time and she was WORTH the rescue. And so are you! Your life does not have to be the sum total of your hard and heavy. You are okay. That will not eliminate your real problems or pressure but it will allow you to offer yourself some hope.

You. Are. Okay.

You are worth the work. You are worth the rescue.

Iced coffee cheers your way (that hubs brought to me this morning before going to work). Yum Yum Yum.

 

 

 

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#ShesStillThere by Chrystal Evans Hurst #P31OBS

The R&R question is simple enough, right? What is happening in your life that makes you want to hit the reset button?

Last year I totally had a “break my legs, God” moment and just needed to get off of the Farris Wheel of life. Blended Family issues. Marriage issues. Kid issues. Work issues. The weekly grind. The rut. The move. The job change. The 10 hour per week commute. The overloaded family schedule. It piled and piled and piled until it crashed.

I was talking to Hubs about “the real me”, “the healthy me, “the happy me” and how long it had been since I saw that girl. Maybe since we blended our families. Maybe since the move to DFW. I just knew it had been awhile. I pulled up pictures of myself from back when I was happy and said “I just want to find her again”.  Then I read Chapter One of She’s Still There. Maybe I went a little highlight bananas, but there is so much that I want to remember and I could not have written it better myself. This girl gets me and is totally in my head. In no particular order she says:

I was driving down the tollway in Dallas, headed home from another day at work… I hated my job. I needed a break – time to assess where I’d gotten off track and to formulate a plan for making my life more like I’d imagined it would be. I hadn’t intended to end up in a job I didn’t love. I hadn’t intended to be a single parent. I hadn’t intended to have a heart still raw and exposed from the hurt imposed on it by other people. It had never been my dream to fight my way through the academic challenges and personal struggles of my college years only to end up on the other side of the so-called victory of graduation feeling deflated. [Before] I felt full of hope, promise, excitement. So I was taken by surprise to find I now spent most of my waking hours feeling resentful, hopeless, and miserably bored each and every day. Where had I gone? Where was the girl who once lived in anticipation of the beauty of her life? How did I lose her? And how would I ever get her back?

And that’s all on the first 2 pages of Chapter 1 y’all.

The Chapter ends up wrapped in encouragement and hope with the reminder that we are a masterpiece and that the key to living your beautiful life is to keep going (sounds like the #WINology mindset), don’t get hung up or stuck, know that you aren’t the only girl who’s felt lost in the middle of her life, and it’s not too late to make it a life you love.

I’m really looking forward to this Book Study.

Coffee cheers your way guys.

P.S. Here’s the link to the Book She’s Still There in case you are interested.

 

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WINology 101 #WINology #TenaciousEndurance

Good Morning Y’all 🙂

I have now completed Chapters 1-8 in Joel Scrivner’s book WINology and wanted to save more of my highlights as future reminders.  What good is reading a book if you don’t go back and try to apply it right? So, here goes …

Overview of WINology 101: Step 1 – Urgent Excellence; Step 2 – Positive Conviction; Step 3 – Decisive Action; Step 4 – Master Your Craft; Step 5 – Playing Inbounds; Step 6 – Tenacious Endurance

This most recent section was one of my most favorite topics ever in the history of forever. Tenacious Endurance. It so very much reminds me of the “persistent woman“. Playing Inbounds was probably the section that I needed the most for areas of weakness, but Tenacious Endurance was the section that made me feel like I could truly be 10 feet tall and bullet proof (in a good way LOL). As if maybe, just maybe, I can become a little wiser, control my reactions a little better (a lot better would be awesome), and kick some @$$ and take some names in the process. He is a world class martial arts athlete so there is definitely that fighter element mixed in there ya know.

He told the story of the camel and how they can go for thousands of miles. Even when it’s hot outside they are able to reduce their body temperature like an AC unit and can even cool their brain down separately from their body. They keep a cool head (p. 123).  Everyone has fallen victim to fatigue causing our emotions to begin to boil, causing us to lose control, and we get hot-headed (p. 124). He said “Whatever it takes for you to keep a cool head in heated situations, do it.” It would take a miracle Joel. An absolute miracle. But I’m working on it LOL.

He reminded me of the Sir Winston quote, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. That quote is actually the quote that inspired my blog name Blended Family Hell on Earth because even though it does feel like you’re going through hell sometimes, giving up is not the answer. Keep going. Isn’t that what Tenacious Endurance is all about?

Some people are great at starting things but are horrible finishers whereas world-class winners are the opposite. They refuse to be overwhelmed by what they can’t do and focus on what they can do. And they finish what they start. Thomas Edison created the phrase stick-to-it-iv-ness which basically means sticking it out when everything around you says to cut your losses and quit. (p. 132-133).

In Dr. Joseph Stowell’s book Fan the Flame, he said “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit.” Isn’t that good y’all? Like crazy good? It reminds me to think long term. In order to “never give up and never quit”, I need to store some reserves to be able to go the distance and I need to stay hydrated along the way with positive encouragement, uplifting friends, mentors, and so forth.

This is such good stuff y’all.

Coffee Cheers Your Way 🙂

 

 

 

 

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