Tag Archives: anxiety

Are You Decorating a Prison?

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Are You Decorating a Prison?

I settled into the driver’s seat and kissed my sweet hubby goodbye. As I backed out of the driveway, anxiety bubbled up, competing with excitement and anticipation for control of my heart. I spoke a few words aloud to stifle it. “I’m fine. He will be fine. God’s got us.”

I sipped coffee from the Tervis he had handed me moments earlier. The aroma of the caramel liquid mingled with the scent of Polo and I missed him already. Once again anxiety threatened to steal the joy of embarking on a journey I had anticipated for months.

I drove in silence for a bit, considering my penchant for imagining the worst case scenario.

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I’ve never been good at good-byes. As a child, I hid from them, usually in the bathroom linen closet. It wasn’t often that we sent loved ones on their way, but when our Hoosier grandparents loaded the car for the long trek home I was not about to stand on the lawn and watch them drive away. I quietly slipped into my hiding place, where no one was leaving. I couldn’t bear the separation.

I am absolutely sure I didn’t say goodbye when my oldest brother reported to the Navy. As preparations were made for his departure, I withdrew. With every crisply ironed article of his sailor suit readied for packing, my anxiety increased. The world was a scary place and only God knew when I would see my brother again, if ever.

Not many years later, I got married and soon after we began our family. Imagine the joy when we finally bought a brick and mortar house and made a home. I was the mother hen and my chicks were all under my wings.

My husband had noticed that I didn’t handle goodbyes well; more like I didn’t handle them. At all. He couldn’t imagine missing the chance to get a last hug and speak one last expression of love and care.

And then one day he came home with an announcement. His parents were moving to North Carolina. He would be driving the truck with their household belongings and returning home by plane.

Ya’ll, I could not even. I was distraught. Seriously. I was quite certain that I would be widowed when there was either a tragic accident involving the truck or the plane fell from the sky. I was not in the habit of throwing fits, but I threw a good one.

How would I raise our daughter alone? How could his parents think this was reasonable? Why couldn’t everyone just leave us alone in our little bubble?

In retrospect I can see it so clearly; I was a young wife making feeble, yet frantic efforts to tightly wrap my arms around all of my loves and hold them tight. I believed it was up to us to protect our family; in this case it appeared it was up to me, because everyone else had lost their ever-loving minds and thought it was a good idea for my husband to leave us.

I was not being manipulative; I didn’t have a problem with my husband helping his parents. I was genuinely anxious and fearful and wanted to hold my little family together.

Forty-five years later I’m less concerned about a traffic accident than a potentially life-threatening drop in his blood sugar.

But here’s the thing that occurred to me later that evening as I walked into a conference center filled with stunning women, as their voices and mine blended and lifted praise to the Beautiful Name of Jesus. He never called us to live safe and cozy lives. He called us to step into our calling trusting in him alone.

I listened to Jennie Allen share her surrender of “yes” to Him for ANYTHING. I looked around at the vendor booths, filled with women who had started non-profits to support children in foster care and foreign missions. They risked stepping out of safe and cozy because they knew that God was with them in the first step and every one after.

They yoked up with Jesus and heard his voice, “I’ve got this, just get into the unforced rhythm of grace and watch how I do this.”

I had tried to wall us in; my goal was to create a safe and beautiful place for us to hide. The trouble is, those hiding places become “cutely decorated prisons”[1] where we do little or nothing for the kingdom.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.[2]

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 God’s plan is better than hiding in a closet or spinning out of control over what might happen.

The weekend was absolutely perfect. There was so much joy in every part. He is good and He is calling us out to places unknown to us but known perfectly to him. He will be with us in the first step and every one that follows.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Message

What is he calling you to, my friend? I would love to hear about your faith steps. Where is he taking you? Tell me about it in the comments, won’t you?

Finding the rhythms of grace,

lorraine

 

 

[1] Jennie Allen

[2] Hillsong United Lyrics, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

I Just Wanted My Photobook

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The irony does not escape me.

I’d been waiting for a great coupon for weeks after deciding that I would make photo books for some of my grandkids.  Walgreens was the winner with 75% off.   I decided that the first book would be for John.  He loves to recite the names of family members and he loves books.  So, a picture book of family members?  Win/Win.

 

I badgered patiently asked his mom and Nana for pictures to supplement the 2,000+ photos currently in my iCloud account.  Finally, on Saturday afternoon, the last day of this “best coupon of the year”, I had everything I needed to start designing John’s perfect (catch that word – it matters) gift.

We had a Christmas party Saturday evening with our same age friends and although we had a great time, we were home by nine o’clock. What can I say?  Those party animals were all pretty tired. I’d enjoyed a lovely libation, a white chocolate somethin-somethin martini (or three) and I was wide awake and ready to tackle the project.

Let me tell you, this is not for the faint of heart. There are lots of design choices.  I’m a scrap booker with mildly perfectionist tendencies so it took a while to settle on one, but I was committed to the “Trucks” theme because, well, John loves trucks even more than he loves books. The next step is selecting photos and I had done my homework!  Most of them were organized into a file on a flash drive and I quickly uploaded them.  Arranging them…well, see above where I mentioned perfectionist tendencies.  Adding embellishments to personalize the pages and make the pictures pop was so much fun!

I remember looking up from the laptop that was, literally on my lap, to the alarm clock past the foot of our bed. Hubby had been softly snoring for a couple of hours and I was ready to call it.  Finished at 11:45, just under the coupon deadline.  I added my labor of love to the cart, entered my coupon code and it was a wrap!  Mark that one off your list, Lorraine.  I returned the laptop to the kitchen and slept well, dreaming about the next day’s shopping trip that would move me closer to the finish line.

Then Sunday came and in the midst of shopping the phone rang with a call from someone in the photo department at Walgreens.  A slight delay, blah, blah, paper out of stock, blah, blah.  I assured him that it was all good, ‘cause this Grandma doesn’t actually need the book in her hands today. I’m rocking this gift-giving thing.

Sunday night…another call. It was ready! I jumped in my car and drove to the store. I couldn’t wait to take a look, but my excitement quickly abated when I noticed a “smudge” on the corner of every page.  They agreed to try again.  In the meantime, I had a revision or two after seeing it in print. (See above – note word “perfectionist”) The clerk was sympathetic to my plight and agreed that was fine, especially in light of all of the inconvenience I was experiencing.  In order to do that, and with assurance that I just needed to call the customer service line to explain, she cancelled the original book.  I spent another hour making revisions and spelling my email address over and over to someone in Miami.  God bless my husband who simply watches and shakes his head. Add to revised book to cart, cross fingers and wait.

On Monday the call was from yet another tech at the second store location.  The book was ready!  I couldn’t wait to see it now that it was PERFECT, exactly how I wanted it.  The problems were a blessing, actually.  Thank you, Jesus, for problems. I raced into the store, more anxious than ever to review my masterpiece.  I opened the book and there again, a smudge on every single page.  The clerk was at a loss and suggested I call the next day to speak with the daytime person.

When I called Tuesday, this new clerk suggested I try another store (third store location in case you’ve lost count). Maybe it was a problem with the printer at their store, blah, blah, blah.  By the way, in order to do that, you’ll need to add the book to your cart and reorder. Coupon code? What coupon code?  Oh that…you’ll have to call customer service and ask them to note your account.  And perhaps, just maybe, the problem is with that design.  The truck paper – perhaps choose another design?

And I complied. By now, you may realize that this book is kind of a big deal. This little guy’s adoption will be final soon.  He’s special.  This is something that will be uniquely his in a big family.  Choosing another design meant starting over.  A complete remake.  A couple of hours later, it was done. I chose a very basic solid paper design and it was all good.  I still felt a loss over the truck paper, but I was willing to let it go. Or so I thought. The fourth call to customer service was to a very nice person who credited my account with a whole bunch of 8X10 collage prints but all I really wanted was my photo book.

The email announcing the completion came around bed time last night, so I decided to stop on my way to work this morning.  Just after the store opened at 7 a.m. I rolled into the parking lot, coffee in hand. The photo counter was still dark, but a clerk quickly arrived to assist.  I opened the book and it was…..perfect.  The colors were gorgeous and while it wasn’t trucks, it was colorful and it was filled with the faces of people John loves.  My heart leaped a little as I paged through – these were my people, ya’ll.

And then it was time to pay. I explained the situation…the problems, the multiple calls to the customer service line, the call that I made explaining it all to this store when I placed the order yesterday, the reassurance that I was given that they would honor the discount….and she looked at me like, “Sure, lady” and said there is nothing here about that.  And I lost it. I forgot all about thanking Jesus for problems.

All of the frustration over four days of calling, running to the store, redesigning (and maybe a little over the fact that I started the morning searching for a stuffed rabbit that arrived last week and now is nowhere to be found ) boiled up.  I don’t know for sure what I said, but my voice was raised and trembling as I turned and walked away from my precious book, resigned to make yet another call to wait for it….”customer service”.

Then she spoke calmly “Please, ma’am, come back.” Four words, and they started a flood.  A tear-filled apology from me and a wise decision by her.  I don’t even know her name…it’s not on the receipt and she wasn’t wearing a name tag, but she should be promoted. She handled this hot mess like a boss.

I sat in my car, taking the book from its protective sleeve.  It is lovely.  But the value is not in the paper selection or the timeliness or even in the coupon savings.  It’s the precious souls whose faces fill the layouts. As I look into the pages, I realize that this experience is a peek at my anxious heart.  So, I’ll say it once more and mean it.  Thank you, Jesus, for problems.

BookStitch

I need to make three more of these books.  Anyone have a good coupon code?