by The Word Weaver, Deb on June 12th, 2015

​Our older, beautiful home is a precious gift from God.  It even came wrapped in paper.
​Wallpaper. 

Busy, busy, floral wallpaper. 

And lots of it.  

Needless to say, painting has been a significant priority since we moved in last November.  This past week I decided to finally tackle the guest room.

My courage failed me as I brushed the odorous oil-based primer over the patterned walls.  It didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  I could still clearly see the dark green leaves.  Plagued by fumes and doubts, I continued to prime. 

Would this work?  Would it be enough?  Would the pattern still be visible once I added the color?  Should I roll another coat of primer?  
​Hubby assured me that it would be fine.  One primer coat would cover it sufficiently.  I needed to trust the process. 

I could have worried.  I could’ve given it another coat, but I didn’t.  I waited and let it dry overnight. 

Then I added the coat of color.  And guess what? 

Hubby was right.  (Shhh.  Don’t repeat that too loudly.) 

It turned out beautifully.
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*****Side-note to painting purists (niece Staci included):
 
I know it’s not “right” to paint over wallpaper. 

We did it anyway.  It might not be perfect, but it’s definitely faster, and it looks pretty darn good. 

Besides, according to decorating guru and author of The Nesting Place, Myquillin Smith, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

I realize that you may be hyperventilating by now. 

Let me encourage you to relax.  Would it help if I got you a glass of water? 

Breathe.  I promise that it’s going to be okay****

 
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​Painting is a procedure that leaves you a lot of time to think and pray.  Here’s what I’ve been pondering:

This old house and I have a couple things in common besides advancing age and creaking steps.  I, too, am wrapped in patterns.  Patterns, old and busy. 

Three particular patterns—guilt, regret, and shame—have dominated my thoughts and beliefs.  They’ve held me in bondage—nearly smothering and paralyzing me—even as I’ve struggled against them. 

Choices made long ago have haunted me.  I’ve pummeled myself over sins—especially ones I’ve made as a Mama—long after I’d asked for and received forgiveness from the Lord and from those affected by my actions.  

It’s no way to live, but I wanted to punish myself.  I believed I deserved the beating. 

My friend, Christin Ditchfield, understands.  In her excellent book, Letting It Go ~Breaking Free from the Power of Guilt, Discouragement, & Defeat, she relates,  “. . . I’ve experienced the kind of guilt and shame and regret that sticks with me.  Shadows me.  Haunts me.  Hinders me.  I’m so preoccupied with it, so paralyzed by it.  I just can’t get past it, can’t get free of it . . . For some reason, we keep replaying the fateful scene over and over—that humiliating mistake, that terrible decision, those awful words, that grievous sin.  Wincing, cringing, sometimes even weeping over the things we said or did long before we knew better—before we knew Jesus—as well as things we’ve said or done since, when we absolutely did know.  If only we could click ‘undo’ or ‘delete’ in real life.  But we can’t.  So, instead, we verbally flog ourselves . . .”  (pp. 28)

See why I love this gal?!  She gets me! 

And she also understands how this bondage holds me back: “As long as we continue to carry the weight of it on your own shoulders, we will stagger and stumble through life—rather than running free.  Dancing with grace and courage and strength.  Becoming the women we were created to be.”   (pp. 29)

Trying to carry the weight of my sin has nearly killed me (not an exaggeration, not just figuratively).  This self-abuse is unnecessary.  It’s not how grace works.

Yes, I’ve sinned—sometimes gravely.  Made mistakes.  Hurt people I love. 

And though I may experience natural consequences for my sin, I do not have to beat myself black and blue over it.  Jesus already paid for it.  He has forgiven me completely.  
​I know—I absolutely do not deserve such grace.  That’s what makes it amazing. 

Letting go is less about emptying my hands of regret, guilt, and shame, and more—much more—about grasping hold of this gift God offers.

Christin agrees that this is key:  “It’s not just about letting it go; it’s about what we choose to hold on to.  First and foremost, we need to hold on to grace.”   (pp. 47)
Life is messy, but God’s sovereign grace is beautiful. 

It’s stronger, farther-reaching, and deeper than I’ve ever believed.  It covers every inch, every moment of my life. 

I’m learning to more profoundly trust the God of the process.  He is faithful from before the beginning, through the middle, and beyond the ending.  The Alpha and the Omega has got this.  He’s got me.

Through the blood of Jesus Christ, the coverage of His grace—over my sins, failures, errors, dreams, hopes, happiness, detours, over my everyday life—is more than sufficient.  It is complete.  As He proclaimed on the cross, "It is finished!"  (John 19:30, NIV)

It frees me to live abundantly. 

Forgiven.

Beloved.  Not broken.

Grateful.

Righteous by faith.

Passionately.  Playfully.  Prayerfully.  Powerfully.

Full of joy.

Free.

Indeed, it is beautiful. 
****BOOK GIVEAWAY:  Submit a comment on this blog post and be entered into a drawing for one of two books:  Christin Ditchfield’s Letting It Go or Myquillin Smith’s The Nesting PlaceEntries close and winners will be chosen at noon (Central), Friday, June 19, 2015. 

For more affirmation, hope, and help, please check out Christin’s website or Facebook page.

For encouragement to decorate your own nest beautifully, be sure to stop by Myquillin's website.
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Copyright 2015, The Word Weaver, Deb Weaver

by The Word Weaver, Deb on June 5th, 2015

"Letting Go: My Endless Expectations"

​I recently read an article about setting realistic goals for your day--listing three projects and being happy when you accomplish them. 

Yeah, yeah, it was a good article.  I’ve heard it before.  Hubby has harped on the subject a few times in our nearly thirty years of marriage. 

I’m used to pushing myself over my limit until an event is over and then crashing, completely out of gas.  It takes a lot more fuel and several more weeks to recover from this technique.  At different times, I’ve cursed, excused, or embraced my racing ways.

I’m beginning to see an unhealthy pattern about it.  Occasional huge projects are one thing.  Daily approaching life this way is quite another.

And I’ve discovered that I ALWAYS want to accomplish a lot more than three! Way more than six or seven or even ten.  Try fifteen!  Oh, and twenty-five would be downright amazing!

Obviously on the To-Do-List Meter, more is better!  And when you secretly believe that you are Wonder Woman, more is not just better; it’s essential.  

But, as Hubby and I were re-re-re-discussing recently, these extreme expectations also lead to extreme exhaustion.  Like the flat-out-ready-for-bed-at-6:30 p.m.-but-trying-to-hold-off-till-a-slightly-more-respectable-7:30 p.m.-and-still-barely-making-it kind of exhaustion. 

Debilitating. Consuming.  Nearing age fifty-two, and dead night after night.  Not good, I admit.

So I made a new list for today.  It had three things written on it. 

At first. 

But, at breakfast, I added another three.   Hey, stop glaring!  Baby steps!  Baby steps!

Besides, I really want to get stuff done!  And I did promise Hubby that if I got the first three done in the afternoon, I would call it a day. 

(In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I may or, ahem, may not have crossed my fingers behind my back during this promise.

Stay with me . . .I am getting to a point, I promise.)


By four o'clock this afternoon, I'd accomplished the three most pressing and time-consuming items on my list.  And I was tired.

Again. 

Still. 

Whatever.

So I did something radical.  I mean, really amazing.  Something practically earth-shattering.

I gave myself a break. 

Now, I know it doesn’t sound incredible, but it truly was.  Normally, I’d just keep plowing through the lengthy list.  And if I had miraculously finished it, I’d think, “Poor planning” and then add two more

(Okay, okay, you’re right—six more)

things to it.  After all, if I’d completed the list, I couldand SHOULD—do more.  Crack that whip!

I’d put off simple pleasures, offering myself empty—and inevitably broken—promises:  “When you finish, you can sit and start that book.”   “Oh, a bike ride sounds wonderful!  Maybe later if you have time!”  “If you finish this task, you can do whatever you want.”

In actuality, “finishing” is a dangerous mirage because there’s always something, be it big or little, to be added.  And I wouldn’t celebrate because the job wasn’t complete. 

Nothing like sucking all the fun out of life!  Perhaps I’m a combination superhero/slave-driver/evil stepmother with a Cinderella complex.  Whatever it is, it’s unhealthy and has to change!

So, slowly, I am learning to let go of my unrealistic, unhealthy expectations of myself. 

Letting go of anything is a process that takes lots of time and lots of steps.  My friend, author and speaker Christin Ditchfield, gets that.  In her excellent book, What Women Should Know about Letting It Go, she shares encouraging, life-tested strategies for helping us navigate this process.  Having struggled with some of the same issues, she is an understanding, wise, supportive cheerleader.  In fact, I can picture the celebratory smile on her face as she reads about my baby steps of freedom.  
​This is what “giving myself a break” looked like yesterday:
  • I acknowledged what I had completed.  Despite the fact that I could have done more, I relished the feeling of accomplishment.
  • I climbed on my bike and spun around the neighborhood with my hair blowing every which way in the breeze and my smile competing with the bright sunshine.  Oh, the joy!  I was eight years old again and experiencing the sheer exhilaration of riding freely once school dismissed.   
  • Then I scooped a bowl of chocolate ice cream and sunk with it into a hot bubble bath—guilt-free and in the middle of the day!  The steam mingled with my sighs of contentment.
  • Afterward, I snuggled up with a delightful, charming book entitled The Tale of Despereaux.  My soul stretched out and wiggled its toes as I breathed satisfaction.  

I’m learning:  I am beloved and valuable.  It’s crucial to refuel frequently and savor moments.  I am more than what I do or don’t get done. 

Giving myself a break looks a lot like God’s grace.  It is beautiful and filling. Sometimes I just need the reminder. 

Perhaps you do, too?

 
​BOOK GIVEAWAY:  Submit a comment on this blog post and be entered into a drawing for one of two books:  Christin Ditchfield’s Letting It Go or Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of DespereauxEntries close and a winner will be chosen at noon (CDT), Friday, June 12, 2015

Join me next week for another look at Letting It Go--Shame and another book giveaway!

For a challenge to a deeper life, please also check out Christin’s website or Facebook page 
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Copyright 2015 The Word Weaver, Deb Weaver

by The Word Weaver, Deb on February 9th, 2015

​Hubby and I moved across the nation from South Carolina to Wisconsin in November.  We now live in Green Bay—yes, that Green Bay

I love living in a town that pulls together behind one big thing.  It gives you an automatic sense of camaraderie and community.  You see someone wearing a Packer coat or shirt (just about every person you meet), and you smile thinking, “Hey!  New friend!  We both love the Packers!” 


(Hubby, a die-hard Lions’ fan—in truth, you have to be die-hard when you follow them—could probably do with less of the green and gold ferver; but I’ve been a Packer Backer for years, so we manage to cross this monumental marital divide!)  

It’s wonderful to live closer to extended family—frequent dinners together, shopping with my sister, playing with my great-niece and great-nephews, seeing their grins when I walk in the door—oh, all so wonderful!  We're discovering that life from an empty nest has its benefits.  Our neighborhood is lovely and chocked full of friendly dogs and their walkers.  Our house felt like home from the moment we moved in, and we love it here.

In case you’re wondering about the whole “Frozen Tundra” rumor, let me tell you that, yes, it’s truly cold.  However, I’ve learned that temperature is mostly relative.  You just adjust your attitude and outer gear.  In SC, if it was 50, I was cold.  Here, after being in the teens for several days, 30 degrees feels warm. 

Also on that note, if you’re going to move north in the midst of winter after being in the south for nearly 20 years, it’s good to do it when you start having hot flashes.  Hubby and I still fight over the thermostat, but we’ve reversed our positions on the dial.

Despite a good attitude and wonky hormones, cold can still be cold.  I’ve made a discovery today that I’d like to share.  May I be frank?
Sunshine lies. 

Through her teeth.

She appears bright, beautiful, warm, inviting. 

She grins and calls to me, “C’mon out to play!”

Hesitantly I peer outside.  “Are you sure?  I mean, it is February, and it has been pretty cold.”

“Absolutely!  Blue Sky and I are just hanging out.”  

She neglects to mention the menacing presence of another playmate. 

I step out of the shelter of home.  Wind barrels around the corner and stretches out to tag me, slicing through bone and marrow.  He is sharp and serrated.

My face instantly registers unbelief, then shock and awe.  My boots are frozen to the spot.  Blue Sky just shakes his cloudless head.

I recover from the momentary paralysis (which I assume resulted from the ice that had formed in my veins!) and dash back inside.

I can almost hear Sunshine’s chuckle as I glower at her from the window panes.

Defrosting my fingertips by the heater, I wonder anew if Sunshine and Lucy (of Peanuts’ fame) are somehow related.  Fooled again!  Aaughh!

I have got to remember that Sunshine lies.

 

by The Word Weaver, Deb on January 19th, 2015

Photo credit:  Jorgen Weinreich Maltesen, "Twilight at the Lake", Flickr, Creative Commons.

"Echoing the Heavenly Chorus"
 

Capturing my attention and my breath,
Sky at twilight beckons.
Adorned in her deepening cobalt robe, she draws near,
Astonishing me with her rare beauty.

Whispering soft reassurances and open arms,
Sky's soothing glow invites.
Wreathed in age-old diamonds, she steps forth,
Embracing me in her velveteen caress.

Communing one heart and one moment,
Our purposes mingle.
Encircled in an otherworldly essence, we gaze up,
Recognizing God by His holy presence.

Reflecting fierce awe and quiet joy,
Sky and I together exalt.
Conjoined in this sacred hush, we bow down,
Beholding God in His eternal glory.

 

by The Word Weaver, Deb on June 16th, 2014

I really do not want to write this post. 
 
I’m not ready. 

I don’t suppose I’ll ever be ready, but I can’t seem to write about anything else until I tell you what has happened.
 
My Dad—my funny, strong, beautiful Dad who would have been 85 today—is gone. He endured a short illness from which my sister, brothers, and I expected him to rally. One health problem set off a devastating domino effect of other problems which became insurmountable. 
Francis Edward “Andy” Anderson passed into Eternal Arms in the early morning hours on Thursday, February 13, 2014.
 
His death shocked all of us. His absence has altered us in profound ways. The world is a different, darker, more unsettling place without him. Even months later I’m having trouble getting my footing back.
 
Dad was born the year the stock market crashed and grew up during The Great Depression.  In addition to farming, his parents owned and operated a lumberjack camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Even for a small boy, chores were plentiful, and he remembered milking cows until his hands were raw. Life was hard.
 
And then life got harder.  His mother died from complications following surgery when he was only eleven years old.  His little sister was then sent to live with an aunt because his father couldn’t care for such a young girl on his own.  In one tragedy, my Dad lost both his mother and his sister.
 
Then when Dad was seventeen years old, his father died in a lumberjacking accident.  Orphaned at seventeen—I cannot even imagine.
 
No wonder commitment and faithfulness were woven through his character. He demonstrated it countless ways through his 20+ years of military service to our country, to his wife, and to his children and grandchildren.  In 1954, he vowed to love my Mom “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”, and he demonstrated that he meant it for nearly fifty-seven years.
 
No wonder family became his priority once he and my Mom married.  He raised the four of us kids with love and discipline with an emphasis on education and hard work.  Many a report card day, we stammered answers to his stern questions, “Why wasn’t that A- an A?” or “Why wasn’t that B a B+?”  He provided educational resources and insisted that we use them. If we didn’t do our best, we knew that our “ass would be grass” and that Dad “would be the lawn mower.”    
 
Dad didn’t just expect us to learn, he was a life-long learner himself.  He kept busy with wood-working and whittling projects, caning chairs, trying new recipes, reading, and attending plays and concerts. 
 
We knew he was in our corner and believed in us.  His confidence and high expectations shored up our own confidence.  When my second grade teacher told my parents, “Your daughter is so painfully shy that she will be seriously inhibited in life,” he never believed it so I didn’t either. 
 
No wonder love was an action verb in our house. Verbalizing his love didn’t come naturally to Dad until I was 14 and my Mom had a paralyzing stroke; after that, Dad said it often.  Though he improved in speaking words of love, doing things for others always remained his favorite, most natural way of expressing it.  While I was at the hospital giving birth to my firstborn, Dad stopped by my house and snagged my grocery list off the refrigerator.  When I returned, my pantry was full and there were two freshly baked strawberry-rhubarb pies on the counter. He baked treats for my sister’s card club and helped paint my younger brother’s new home.  Rare were the moments he wasn’t doing something for someone.
 
No wonder he was intentional about “showing up” and making memories.  He kidded with and christened our friends with colorful nicknames such as: “Cabbage Head”, “Snot #2”, “Charlie Brown”.  We took incredible family vacations across the United States.  Every winter he built an ice skating rink in the backyard. We went snowmobiling and camping.  His son-in-laws were among his favorite fishing buddies. 
 
Dad was an awesome, fun grandparent. He encouraged their hobbies and interests.  He made special events a priority, attending weddings, graduations, games, and performances of his grandkids. Two years ago, he traveled with my younger brother and sister-in-law to meet us at Cedar Point. He even rode three of the big rides. My daughter updated her Facebook status from the park, writing: “I’m a wuss! My 83 year old Grandpa has ridden more roller coasters than me!”
Dad was one of the most generous, open-hearted people I know.  He enveloped others into his heart and life. He shared stories, jokes, advice, opinions, pies, jam, garden produce, and wood-working creations.   
 
I got my sense of humor from Dad.  We both learned to temper our reactions (most of the time) through the years.  He was opinionated, but he learned to listen.  He let us make mistakes.  He worried about us.  Out-going and funny, he was a master at greeting and welcoming others. “The first time you visit you’re our guest; after that, you’re a habit.”  Then he’d laugh.  Oh, how I miss his infectious laugh.  
Dad shared himself with the world, and we are richer as a result.  He left a treasure-trove of memories. 
 
I had a dream a few weeks ago.  In it, I was planning a big birthday party for my Dad.  I was scurrying around finalizing details and trying to type up all the reasons I was grateful for him.  As the time for the party got closer, I kept frantically saying, “I’m not ready.  I’m not ready.” 
 
Then I awoke and remembered that Dad was gone. 
 
I’m not ready for that either.
 
The hole and the heartache is immense. In the stormy waves of grief, I’m clinging to the One who carries me. 
 
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV) “He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms; He carries them close to His heart…”


******
​You may want to read another post I wrote about my Dad in 2012 called When Superman Ages.

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Copyright 2014, The Word Weaver, Deb Weaver


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