Another day another dollar.

I came home worn and beat down from another day another dollar
spent surfing stations trying to escape the heart rend of a brave man in
orange
breathing his last
Another day another dollar spent putting hands on cancer and aging and healing and dying
Another evening wanting only to put my feet up but there
he
is
my wide-eyed son too old to waste a single moment soothing my own ache when he says
Look, mama
So I do
And our toes curl against the warm wet stone of the patio where we stand watching the storm clouds push to the east as the fire of another day-end ignites the sky
Pink then purple then last of all
orange
And there ain’t no dollar I wouldn’t pay to make sure I don’t miss
me
my boy
and the sunset.

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Stop the world! My middle-aged body wants to get off!

Yesterday I stood in between an eight foot tall display of fruit and a giant freezer full of cheese at Costco and lamented the state of my (barely) over 40 body to one of my dear friends.

I’m just not shaped the way I used to be shaped.

I remember the first time I realized my body would never be the way it was in college, when I never worried a bit about how I looked. (Okay, maybe I did worry then, but not like I worry now.) A handful of weeks postpartum and pushing my roly-poly first son through the aisles of my favorite store at the time, The Limited (don’t judge), I grabbed pants or a dress or something in my size.

Or what had once been my size.

The garment fit, but it was definitely not covering me appropriately anymore.

My hips had widened.

And shifted…lower? Higher?

And my BOOBs.

What once had been compared to Kansas had risen.

I just knew I couldn’t shop there anymore.

And here’s the problem I have to this day:

My brain is approximately 25 years behind my body.

(No pun intended.)

I still want to wear clothes from teenager stores–or at least those which cater to young adults. To make things worse, it seems the whole. entire. world. is completely obsessed with diets and flat abs and fast fixes and videos and trainers and cross-fit and pilates and yoga and barre and gluten free and fat free and sugar free and smoothies and high protein and low carb and

AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!!!

Okay, maybe you have time for that.

But I sure don’t.

I’m a nurse and a writer and a wife and a mom carting three teenagers around so I’m in the car up to four hours (sometimes longer) a day going back and forth to practices and doctors and orthodontists and the grocery–always the grocery because according to said teenagers we have NOTHING to eat EVER–and did I mention the orthodontist and twelve-hour nursing shifts where I walk eight miles between patient rooms and bench press 300-pound sick people and it takes all the coffee in the world just to get me through these days of middle age.

So can the world just stop

and give me a break about flat abs and a perky butt and the fact that I wear my hair in a messy knot 95% of the time because I only have time to wash it a couple of times a week because I think I shower less now than I did when my teenagers were toddlers, and speaking of toddlers and babies, if the gap in my abdominal muscles caused by three pregnancies hasn’t closed and tightened up YET after 13 YEARS, it

AIN’T EVER GONNA

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not the world that needs to stop.

It’s me who needs to stop.

Stop lamenting the soft tummy that held and incubated and loved three of the most incredible humans ever into the world. Stop lamenting that yoga pants don’t cover and hold in every part of me I wish they would. Stop comparing myself to the moms who aren’t in the car four hours a day and who do have the time to run and diet and realize that not all of them work and not all of them are necessarily happier and not all of them try to write books “on the side” (because writing books is SUCH a low pressure, relaxing hobby sort of thing that takes just 30 minutes in the morning in the pristine silence before the rest of the house wakes up–WHATEVs!). Stop fighting the inevitable sag and lag of a (barely) 40 and climbing physique and

OWN IT SISTER.

Because each of us this age have EARNED these years. We’ve earned these stretch marks. We’ve earned the gray hair we slather with dye in a box every three weeks. We’ve earned the right to cover our arms with cardigans and our thighs with longer shorts and the softening and rounding of our edges and besides

THERE’s ENOUGH HARD EDGES IN THE WORLD

without feeling like we need to sharpen what the good Lord has worked so hard to grind away over the decades.

More than that, our my

fixation with the way I’m made is a distraction from fixation on Him.

I stumbled across Psalm 65 today and re-realized the wonder of all God has made, the diversity, the beauty, the mountains, the seas, the mornings, the evenings, the grasslands, the hills, the meadows, the valleys, and the hummingbird that flitted around my garden sucking the marrow out of the life I’ve grown weary with.

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You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.[d]
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops. (Psa 65:9-10)

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Thank you, Lord, for caring for the soil of our hearts, for watering our parched souls. Help us as moms and as women in the prime of life to fill ourselves with You and Your Word and your Truth. Drench our furrows and level our ridges. Soften us towards our softened flesh, shower us with grace to tell ourselves–and to tell each other–that we are, each of us, beautiful. Not because of how we’re shaped. But because You made us.

And we praise You for remaking us every day.

Amen.

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Is there a friend who needs to hear you say you think she’s beautiful today?

Share this post with her.

And tell her.

Today.

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Further reading: This is a topic that’s been on my heart for a while now. Others, too, it seems, and I don’t think anyone has written more eloquently about this than Ann Voskamp in her recent post,
Dear Women and Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty and Love Is. If my words resonated with you today, please be sure to visit her page, too. You’ll be so glad you did. 

On Abba and fathers and survivors

The first time the name Abba stuck with me is when I read Brennan Manning’s exquisite book, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging. Something about this particular way of referencing God–essentially as “daddy”–made me feel as if I was curled up and safe on His lap.

It’s no accident that most of the time Comfort (one of the two main protagonists in How Sweet the Sound, and the one who was raped and molested) refers to God as Abba.

Comfort argues with Abba.

She laments to Abba.

She weeps with Abba.

She asks Abba why.

Comfort talks with Abba the way He wishes all His children felt free enough to do. But because many abuse survivors are hurt by their fathers, many feel unable to approach God as a Father.

I am so incredibly grateful that I was not abused by my earthly father. In fact, my Dad is the epitomy of kindness, gentleness, and a strong protector.

They were, however, extended family members, and sadly, a few of their friends.

But my abuser was not–praise God–my father.

Trust may be the most difficult and enigmatic aspect of survivor recovery, especially when the people who are supposed to protect you the most violate the deepest, most private parts of you. Because so many have a hard time relating to God as someone who watches out for them, someone who delivers them, and someone in whom they can place their trust–things a father should be relied upon for–I decided to refer primarily to God as Abba in my novel, with the hopes that painful, triggering memories associated with the name “father” diminish for some.

Because whether eartly or eternal–especially eternal–we all need to know we have a Daddy who loves us unconditionally. Who can handle our deepest, darkest questions and secrets. Who binds up our wounds. Who heals us so we can bring hope to others.

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“Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others.”
Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
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“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NLT

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What about you?

Do you have a hard time thinking about God as your father?

Do you think the name Abba helps or hinders faith in Him?