She Used To Be Mine


My friend, Gina, sent me the link to Sara Bareilles’ song below.  It is such a beautiful representation of (and expresses better than I ever could myself) the feelings I’ve battled for so long … the sense of being broken, lonely most of the time, not recognizing who I’ve become, longing (in part) for who I used to be, and the desire to give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite the ending for the girl I used to be.

Life is messy, isn’t it.  It doesn’t always (in fact, rarely does) go the way we’d hoped.  The good news is, there is always something to be learned along the way; and where you are now doesn’t mean that’s where you have to stay.

Past is a LessonI had such awesome plans and high hopes when I graduated from high school.  I intended to join the Foreign Service, travel the world, and become a foreign diplomat.  My life now in no way resembles that previously imagined life, but I’ve learned a lot along the way.

For starters, I’ve learned that it’s not always WHAT you know so much as WHO you know.  It’s not so much a matter of how many”book smarts” you have as it is how well have you developed your people skills?  (I know some people who are incredibly intelligent but do not have an ounce of common sense or know the first thing about getting along with others.)  I’ve learned that life isn’t about acquiring things or making more money; it’s about making a difference in the lives of those around you.  It’s about contributing to society and making the world a better place.

God has given me a chance to go back and rewrite my ending for the young girl I used to be.  I hope I’ve learned enough along the way to make better choices from this point going forward, and  I hope He continues to bring people into my life who will challenge me to grow in ways I never thought possible.

19157-Move-ForwardYes, life can be hard at times and not go at all the way we had initially planned; but it can be a wonderful life if we take the focus off of our circumstances and past mistakes and put it instead on reigniting the fire that used to burn in our hearts when hopes and dreams and wishes and moonbeams shined in our eyes for all to see.  There’s a beautiful life filled with possibilities out there waiting for you.  Go capture it!  I’ll be cheering for you …

Lori Lynn

Life Lesson #7: Don’t Quit


Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. — C. S. Lewis

I know so many people who are struggling … people close to my heart and some not so close.  I’ve noticed, from my own experience, that what exacerbates the problem is looking around at others and thinking, “Why me?”

I’m not sure when I adopted the notion that life is supposed to be problem free, but it obviously crept into my psyche somewhere along the line.  Maybe it’s from all of the books I lost myself in when I was growing up, or perhaps it’s the movies I escape into when I want to remove myself from the cold, hard realities of life.  Somehow in the process my mind skipped over the hardships and only remembered the happy endings.

I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, frustrated, all alone.  I know what it’s like to feel that no one cares, that no one understands.  It’s hard to get out of the rut.  It’s hard to think differently when everything you know is screaming, “Failure!”  It’s hard to get past the voices of Doom and Gloom whispering in your ears.  Spending time with Harry Potter or Frodo relieves my momentary fear and paralysis and makes me think that I, too, can overcome my current struggle.

I recently sent the daughter of a dear friend of mine a poem called “Don’t Quit”.  You can find it here.  I decided it might be a good thing to send my own children, who are facing some tough realities of their own (aka how to afford college when they can’t take out student loans without a parent’s cosignature).

Here’s the thing, though… I’ve learned throughout all of this that there is one thing you can bank on.  Satan desires nothing more than to drag us down, to lose our focus, to make us feel intimidated/inferior/not good enough.  Drown his voice out.  He is full of smoke and hot air!

Don’t waste your energy looking at the people around you.  They are not running YOUR race.  YOU are.  They have their own obstacles to overcome.  Focus on your race.  Stay grounded.  Other people don’t matter in the big huge scheme of things.  What matters is you and God … that’s it.  His plans for your life.  The purpose He created you for.

Keep the faith…

Lori Lynn

Father … when life gets just too darn hard to bear, help us to remember that struggle is preparation for something down the road.  It is strengthening us and building our spiritual muscle.  You have a plan for each of us.  We may not see it fully; but if we continue to trust in You, it will eventually become known, sometimes in the most surprising way.  Keep us strong.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

I Don’t Want Social Media … I Want Friends!


When I was in 6th grade, I suffered a temporary bout of ostracism from every kid in my class with the exception of one girl, who was a bit of an outcast herself. The details of this sordid event escape me. I’m sure I did something to raise someone’s ire or the green horns of jealousy; but whatever the cause, the repercussions have been profound. Decades later, the effects are still felt. Pretty much every experience I encounter gets processed through the lens of rejection.

Although the ostracizing event blew over that summer and I went on to have many friends throughout junior high, high school, and college, I have found, as an adult, that I still frequently feel like an outcast.

I have a significant number of friends on Facebook (not thousands, because I’m very selective about whom I friend), but here’s the thing … I could have hundreds more if not for the cloudy vision of life I see through my cataracts of rejection, which cause the recurring tape in my head to say, “No one likes you, so they won’t want to be your friend.”) I realize this is faulty thinking. The friends I do have would assure me it just isn’t true. Nonetheless, my faulty thinking affects the outcome of my daily living.

Why do I care how many friends I have? If I really think about it, I don’t. I mean, in the big huge scheme of things, what really matters more … that other people like me or that I like myself? I mean, if I have thousands of friends on Facebook (or any other social media platform for that matter) but I don’t like myself, am I really happy?

We live in a technology-driven, ADHD world of nonconnection … plugged in and tuned out. I firmly believe it’s time to unplug and tune in … tune in with some real flesh and blood friends who truly care and are there when we need them.

I don’t want thousands of friends on Facebook. I want real friends … a dozen flesh and blood comrades in arms who will call me up periodically and invite me to do things with them. “Hey, Lori Lynn, Chris Botti is going to be in town. Want to go see him?” “Hey, Lori Lynn, I feel the need to go Christmas shopping in Chicago. Want to go?” “Hey, Lori Lynn, I’m contemplating signing up for a mission trip to India. You game?” To each of these, I would answer a resounding, “YES, definitely!”

I’m tired of being lonely. I’m tired of not having anyone to connect with in the flesh, so here’s what I’m planning to do for starters:

  • Contact a handful of high school friends, whom I haven’t seen in years, and invite them to my home for an evening of fun;
  • Start a weekly Bible study in my home to connect with a number of people I’ve met at various churches in my area;
  • Initiate new friendships by beginning a monthly book club.

I’m not a terribly social person … I tend to be an introvert … but I’m an introvert who needs to know I belong … that I matter to someone. I need to know there is someone out there who understands me or, if they don’t, are honest enough to say, “Ya know, I have no idea what you’re going through right now, but I’m here for you. How can I help?” Unfortunately, I don’t have many of those people in my life at this point; and I think what is so depressing about that is the fact that I was brought up to be that kind of person (which I was until the majority of people I encountered in life were more than happy to receive my help but weren’t able to reciprocate when I was the one needing help). Constantly meeting other people’s needs while your own continue to go unmet leads to burnout rather quickly.

A huge contributing factor to why my marriage ended after 22 years had to do with so much of this. My husband and I never went out with other couples; we rarely went out period. I longed to connect with another human being; my husband was content connecting to a computer or TV screen.

God designed us as relational beings … first and foremost to be in relationship with Him, yes, but also to be in relationship with others. It’s why He gave Eve to Adam. We need one another. We need encouragement when times are tough. We need hugs when we are hurting. We need companionship when we are lonely. A cyber hug just won’t do!

Lori Lynn

___________

Dear LORD … Thank you for loving me and being my friend. I know You are always there for me and listen intently when I talk to You. You know my heart and the loneliness I feel. So today, LORD, I come before You and lay my loneliness at Your feet. I pray that You would send friends into my life … new friends as well as old … friends to laugh with, hands to hold, and arms to embrace me. I pray that they would be a support and encouragement to me, and I pray that I might be the same for them. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

When Life Hurts


“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job 7:11 (NASB)

I’ve always liked the book of Job.  I think it goes along with my melancholy spirit.  I can identify with the man.  That’s why, when I came across this verse the other day, I immediately felt I had found a kindred spirit.

You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last 14 years complaining in the bitterness of my soul.  Life has been hard.  It has not gone the way I had hoped or planned.  It has pressed me near to breaking point, and it has brought me to my knees (flat on my face actually).  I have cried out in anguish.  I have stormed about in anger.  I have nearly gone mad from frustration.  Through it all, I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was.  I do not have the patience I thought I had.  I am not as kind as I would have hoped.  I can be downright mean and nasty, and I have learned to hate myself at times for it.  It’s funny how life can do that to you… force you to see the not-so-good side of yourself.

Sometimes our hearts are so heavy, we can’t help but complain.  The misery we feel within is so intense that it boils inside like a live volcano that eventually explodes, producing pyroclastic lava flows that cause great damage to everything in their path.

I’m sad to say that I’ve burned quite a few people with my magma of misery.  I knew things were heating up, and I knew I would eventually blow, but I had no idea how to stop what was happening beneath the surface.  I felt like I was stuck in a life I had no control over.  I felt like things happened TO me, and I was powerless to change them.  Eventually, when you feel that way long enough, you give up hope.  You look ahead to the next portion of your life and can’t wait until the good LORD calls you home.  I know, it sounds grim; but that truly is the way you feel when you keep getting knocked down.  I remember explaining it to someone once like this:  “I feel like I have two broken arms and two broken legs, and my trainer is telling me, ‘Get back into that ring and FIGHT!'”  I had nothing left with which to fight.  I was down.

I am happy to report that I didn’t stay there.  I sought help.  God placed some wonderful counselors in my path who taught me that what I was feeling was real.  I had a lot on my plate.  (Sometime, in another post, I’ll tell you a bit more about that.)  Suffice it to say, I remember telling my first counselor, “I feel like one of those plate spinners in the circus.  I keep trying to keep all my plates spinning; but by the time I get to the last one, I can’t make it back to keep the rest going.  Plates are crashing everywhere.”  He helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy like I thought I was.  I just had way too much to handle and no one to help me.

A few years later, after my husband lost his job and moved halfway across the country to take a new one, I once again found myself face to face with despair.  I was looking at having to move back to a place that was very traumatic for me.  I felt like I had no options.  Thus began my descent into major depression.  Once again, God placed a wonderful counselor in my path who suggested I go to one of the Meier Clinics for treatment.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was the beginning of my journey out of the pit of despair.  The first and most important thing I learned there was that I DO have choices.  We all do.  We think we don’t, but that is not true.

Sometimes we feel unworthy, like our opinion doesn’t matter, or like our needs aren’t important.  I’m here to tell you they are.  Years of squelching my needs to satisfy the needs of my family, and not getting my needs met in return, was a recipe for disaster.  We all have needs.  God designed us that way.  His intent was that we would work together in relationship to mutually meet one another’s needs.  We can’t always give, and we can’t always take.  It’s a two-way street.  A dear lady from the church where my husband and I met explained it to me this way, “As women, we are always meeting other people’s needs.  It is like we hold a big bushel basket full of apples, and we go through life handing out our apples.  If we don’t stop every now and again to replenish our basket, we will run out of apples.”  I ran out of apples a long, long time ago; and I didn’t know how to replenish my basket.

I’ve since learned many ways to do so.  Probably first and foremost is learning how to establish boundaries (and not feel guilty about having them).  I’ve learned to not feel guilty (oh… there’s that word again!) about taking time out for me.  I might do one of the following:

  • read a book for PLEASURE (not a self-help book that requires me to underline or highlight… seriously, most of what I read means there is a pen in the book);
  • go for a 3o-minute walk while tuning into nature (smile at the sun, laugh in delight at the sight of a bluebird, drop my mouth in awe at the sight of an eagle soaring overhead);
  • call a friend to go to lunch (I love to eat!);
  • light a few candles, put on some soft jazz, grab that pleasure book, and soak in a hot tub;
  • watch one of my favorite movies;
  • reminisce over some wonderful people whom God has placed in my path who have filled my life with love;
  • eat chocolate (dark, so it’s healthy);
  • crank my stereo and sing to my heart’s content;
  • write an entry for my blog (and hope someone reads it).

The interesting thing is that, through all the pain, God has been there picking me up.  He has given me the insight to know that it has not all been in vain.  Through it all, He has been teaching me and molding me and transforming me into the person He wants me to become.  I know that one day I will be able to look back and see how it all makes perfect sense as to why each of those hurts was there.  There was a bigger purpose.  Perhaps it has to do with being a beacon of light to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices, find themselves in codependent relationships over which they feel they have no control.  That is something I can REALLY relate to!

How about you?  How do you replenish your basket?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Walking in His grace…

Lori Lynn

Life can sure hurt, LORD.  Sometimes we don’t know how much more we can take.  When we reach that place, help us to hang on to You and just trust.  Trust that You are in control, and you won’t let us be obliterated by it.  Help us to realize that Satan wants us to fail, and he is doing everything in his power to keep us from living in the joy and freedom you want us to be living in.  Are we going to let him WIN?  Give us all the courage and strength to answer with a resounding, “NO!”, and teach us to see beyond the hurt to  the blessing on the other side.

Life Lesson #1: Deal With Your Stuff


“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”    — Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I’ve been married for 19 years.  I can honestly say, it has been a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) that morning but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us have lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we have struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we’ve experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, why are we still married?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it’s because neither one of us can come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we’re both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE are thinking or doing.  The truth is that God is the third strand in our cord, and where our two strands have broken, His is holding on.  That means there is a purpose in all of this.  That means that just as an ugly ragged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage has the potential to come out of this as a beautiful thing to show others.  It means that all of the junk our children are being forced to wade through is strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any marriage we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions, but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you.  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Holding on in Christ…

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in my frayed and broken cord.  Without you, I would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show me in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that I am going through and give me the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give me the courage to change what I know needs to be changed; if not for my sake, for my children’s sake.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

What Happened


Well, if you read my last post, you probably think I am happily ensconced in Massachusetts continuing to thrive in my obedience to the LORD.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened…

 

 Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?

Matthew 14:30:31 (MSG)

 

In June 2009, I helped my husband move out to Massachusetts.  The plan was that the kids and I would join him at the end of the summer, after our house sold.   I had my eyes on Jesus.  I was walking on water.

Problem #1

The house didn’t sell.

It was the summer the housing market turned sour.  Prices plummeted.  Houses for sale were a dime a dozen, and it was a buyer’s market.  Our house had been on the market since February.  People who viewed our home loved it, but there was always one little thing they didn’t like… the neighbor could see into the kitchen, the blinds didn’t keep out enough light, the yard was too small…

By the time school started and our house still hadn’t sold, I was in a different place emotionally.  There were many outside factors contributing to this, but suffice it to say that I no longer had my eyes on Jesus.  I was looking at the waves crashing around me, and I was beginning to sink.  I knew in my heart that I could not move.  Massachusetts represented so many negative things to me.  It wasn’t that Massachusetts itself was bad (I actually have some lovely memories associated with Massachusetts); it’s that the life I had there as a young mother with three small special-needs children, no family nearby, and a husband who worked all the time was anything but rewarding.  I was so overwhelmed, and I felt so alone.  The idea of going back there was traumatic.

Problem #2

I spiraled into depression.

My depression turned out to be a blessing.  It forced me to seek outpatient treatment at a Meier Clinic.  Those three weeks of treatment were life changing.  The first thing I learned was that EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING.  I was not alone.  I was able to acknowledge a pattern of victim thinking which, in turn, opened my eyes to how the Enemy likes to play with our minds by feeding us lies.  It reinforced in my mind that we do indeed have choices in life.  We can choose to let our circumstances control us (passively sitting back and thinking there is absolutely nothing we can do about them), or we can choose to control our circumstances by changing our perspective on them.  I kind of liken it to a person who is severely myopic putting on their glasses and getting a fresh view.  Without their glasses, everything is very distorted; nothing makes sense.  When they put their glasses on, objects become clearer; and it is easier to focus on reality.

I’m still not excited about moving back to a place that holds so many difficult memories; but when I came back from the Meier Clinic (with my glasses on), I started to view things differently.  I no longer felt like I had to let life happen TO me.  I told my husband on one of his visits home that I did not want to put our house on the market that next spring.  I simply was not yet at a place (emotionally) where I could move, and I wanted my son to finish out his 8th-grade year at the parochial school he attended.  I then applied to graduate school in Boston.  I figured if I had to move out there, I needed something to give me a sense of purpose.  I was blessed enough to get accepted into the program, and I was doubly blessed that the college granted me a deferral until next fall allowing me time to get our house back on the market and, hopefully, sold.

I wonder, at times, if my acceptance into grad school isn’t part of the reason God is moving us back to Massachusetts.  I had just been accepted into the program the year before my husband and I got married but had to quit after we got married due to lack of finances.  I see it as God giving me a second chance to finish something I should have finished a long time ago.  I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill that will allow me to make a difference on God’s Kingdom Calendar.  He gave me a voice so I could speak, not shrivel up into a corner like a wilted flower and die.  Through His watering of grace and mercy, I am slowly coming back to life.  With His tender loving care, I am hoping to bloom wherever I am planted.

Can you relate?  Have you started out in obedience to the LORD only to find you’ve been blindsided in some way?  Did you fall into victim thinking or fall into the arms of Jesus?

Lori Lynn

Help me keep my eyes on You, Jesus.  When life gets too rough, reach out Your hand and grab me until I regain my strength in You.  Water me daily with Your Word, tend my wounded soul, and replant me where I can glorify You.  Amen.