Being brave

Be brave enough to be authentic…

Authenticity comes very easy to me. What does not come easily is the ability to read people well enough that I ask the right questions at the right time, or say the appropriate things when I should. It has nothing to do with my desires to please others or not. It has everything to do with my unrestrained curiosity and my intense authenticity. Basically oftentimes I open mouth, insert foot. I know how my feet taste and the awful feeling in my gut when I have upset someone.

I can think of many examples which is unsettling. I recently scrapped a post about communication where I was basically complaining about my foot in mouth issue. But I did say at least one great thing on there… when I am the common denominator of an occurrence then I need to stop and look at myself in the mirror and figure out what the issue is or may be with me.

I have been considering the issue for over a week. That is when a caring frined told me that in her opinion I, “am difficult to communicate with, lack tact, say things I should not say and, I am inappropriate as well.” Fun words to swallow, eh? I was taken aback. I thought to myself, “This cannot all be true of me, can it?” But I listened as she listed a few examples. Then the more I thought about it the more examples I thought of myself. Times when people either said I hurt their feelings, upset them in some way, or times when people even left being my friend because I had said or done something outside of their consideration of social norms.

Conclusion: I am not socially normal. I am authentic, genuine, and I speak my mind with extreme curiosity. Oh, and I rush relationships terribly, therefore often sharing way to much too fast! I am just one big overload!!

And after considering this further I realized I was way overthinking this. Yes I upset someone… more than one someone. But I have to reconcile who I am with who I should be. I must also be at peace with myself during this process of growth.

I know the curiosity must be curbed. Also though I want to speak my mind sometimes it is better to just keep my mouth shut even when the conversation is about something I feel passionate about. Believe in it or not, I believe in the nudge of the Spirit of God. I have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. I strongly believe that when I feel nudged to speak up then that is when I should speak my mind.

I have had such occasions. Last year a woman did not understand the perspective of the group and the subject matter of which we were discussing. She was sharp about it and almost hurtful, though I know in her heart she was not intending to be hurtful in any way. I could not keep my mouth shut. The Spirit inside me took over and I explained where we were all coming from. Those are the moments when my authenticity shines and I know I am being brave and speaking up for those who will not or cannot.

That is who I wish to be: the voice for the so-called “little guy.” I want to speak up only when God leads me to. Psalms 141:3 says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” which is a prayer I will be praying daily. I have been meditating on Proverbs 16:1 which says, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.” This is a verse that has comforted me when I have been too outspoken; those moments when maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. (There are great Bible verses found at: https://www.openbible.info/topics/guard_your_mouth if you are interested.)

Considering all of this I have concluded that since I wish to be the mouthpiece of God, I must have peace when things don’t turn out my way. It is okay if someone doesn’t like me. A friend today reminded me of that. Not everyone is going to like me. Now if I truly upset someone and am aware of it, I will do my best to make peace. Roman’s 12:18 says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As far as it depends on me… I cannot make someone like me. I cannot even make someone forgive me or make them let things go. What I can do is apologize, do my best to make amends and then I let it go! I have to let it go even if the other person does not.

I am giving myself permission to be myself even in the face of adversity and discomfort. I am an amazing Maggie. I cannot be anyone else. Just me.

Be blessed as you pursue your best self!

Sincerely,

Maggie A. ‘Spoon

Blog #108…

everyone can make a difference… Can’t I?

It’s another tomorrow where I am awake in the early a.m. (12:37 to be precise), with so much on my mind I cannot bring myself to lay my head upon my pillow.

Warning: This is not one of my happiest moments so it may not be one of my happiest posts.

I began watching “Mr. Church” with my husband. It was a very good movie & though it had it’s highs and lows – tears and cheers – I enjoyed it… until I didn’t. Without spoiling it I will just say that a quote hit a little too close to home. “You thought I saved you, but you saved me.” I lost it. I completely lost it. I am even struggling to type without crying.

In June of 2017 my brother, Dennis Mann, died. I don’t know any of the specifics of how he died and probably never will until I’m in Heaven with him and it doesn’t matter anymore.  But I do know that he wasn’t happy in the end of his life and it hurts… What hurts is that he pushed me away and therefore I couldn’t be there to help him when he was unhappy.

I know happiness is a choice and no one can ever truly make someone else happy. A person either feels happy or they do not. Plain and simple, right? But no. It is not simple.  Happiness is fleeting but joy is eternal as they say. But my dear cousin recently reminded me that there is an enemy out there trying to steal my joy. He will use any and all means possible. Yes, even movie clips.

[There are so many things I wish I could say. So many things I wish I could write. But in this crazy world where “everyone” is out to get you, I feel like I cannot always speak my mind entirely.]

A new friend recently called  me to accountability though. I have been promising myself and God I would write a book about my life and everything I have been through — including those things I cannot say or write in a public blog. And yet, where is this book? It is in journal after journal waiting to be written. I have been writing this book since I was in my mid-teens and it is still in pieces.

Why? Because of FEAR. I fear what my life would be like if the truth of my past came out. What would people think about me? What would people think about those I write about? Would people even read my stupid book? Very few people read my blog so what makes me think anyone would want to read a book that is pretty much all my blogs severely expanded.

Those are the thoughts that run through my mind when I think about writing and publishing my book. But those thoughts are all wonky. What does it matter what people think? Every writer, good or bad, has a fair share of critics. And if one person reads my book it would be worth all the trouble. My new friend who convicted me to write helped me to realize how therapeutic such a book would me for me.  So I know it would not be worthless.

Then I think of one of my favorite quotes:

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But I remove the try…because there is no try – there is do or do not. I do. I mean I will. I AM. I do make a difference every day that I wake up, get up and parent my kids. I will make a difference with my book and I will finish it. And I AM making a difference by who I AM.

So what started out as a cry-fest, thinking the whole world was crashing around me, turned into a post ending with a slight smile and an appreciation for the life I have now.

Rest in peace, Dennis Mann. I love you. Always did and always will.

Thanks for reading my pity party.  I appreciate all my readers.

Sincerely,

Maggie A. ‘Spoon

 

So I have been away a while…

I apologize for the extreme lapse in blogging. As I posted earlier, I was attending massage school for about 8 months. That took up most of my time. God and Family took up the rest. No time for any recreation at all of any kind.

I graduated with the achievement of the highest GPA I have ever earned — one B away from a 4.0. Grr but yay me at the same time. If you are wondering, it is Pathology that I made a B in. (I struggled with the new teacher’s teaching style.) I also passed my state board exam!!!!! which is super duper exciting! Next I receive my license in the mail, and go from there.

Well that is where I have been… but here I am now! Alive and well and ready to hit the ground running. During school I came up with several blog ideas which I plan to publish in the next few weeks.

As for today, i just wanted to update you on where I’ve been and that I AM coming back! 😀

Since it is 4:30 AM here in North Carolina, I am going to rest my brain and then work on those blog drafts.

Be Blessed.
Maggie A. ‘Spoon

 

101…Just a little slow.

I am still around just moving slow…

This marks my 101st blog post since I began.

I am here, just a little slow! I am doing better since the loss of  my bother — I have good days and bad. But I wanted to let you know how I am doing and that I am still here and planning to blog as much as I am able. I am in NC with Wren and my parents (Cassie, my oldest, visited my parents earlier in the summer by herself). It is some good down-time and I am enjoying spending time with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.

I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever. Life has been crazy busy – as I know many lives are. But, hey, if I can find time for Facebook, I can find time to blog instead. I enjoy blogging – sharing my life with others and hopefully helping someone. I have had some good verbal comments that are very appreciated. So, I will keep blogging on to help at least one.

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I’ve blogged about this before but let me summarize:  I took out the try because I feel like everyone CAN make SOME kind of difference in someone else’s life, and we should all try our best to be our best self. I cannot be any better than my best. But truly, if I am honest with myself I am never perfect and, therefore, there is always more to squeeze out of me. It takes commitment, effort, dedication, devotion, and self-discipline.

This means I can push myself past what I comfortably feel is my best and find more within myself than I thought I had. Just something to ponder.

Well anyhow… I intend to blog while I am in NC but we will see. I have Dennis’s memorial to attend on the weekend of August the 5th so if you are a praying person, please keep me in your prayers.

May you be blessed today and always!

Maggie A. ‘Spoon

Transparency with Love

I am going to be completely transparent here and share my thoughts, feelings and lack of action. Enjoy the read!

I am going to be completely transparent here. I feel like Paul in scripture (Romans 7:14-25). I considered just quoting what he said, but he uses such language that I find myself getting lost in the verbiage and missing the meaning if I am not careful. Therefore, I read it again and again and decided to paraphrase. These are my words:

I know what I ought to do and what I ought not to do. But rather than doing the thing I know I ought to do, I do the thing I know I ought not to do, that is to sin. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do not is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not what to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not what to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members [or parts of my body].

The point of it all? I know what I should do – what is good and right and best. I know how to please the Lord with my actions, words, and deeds. God has blessed me with a lot of wisdom, but I feel like Solomon from scripture here. Solomon had so much wisdom and yet made mistake after mistake and it ruined him and his empire. I feel like I have a choice: to do what I ought to do, the things I know are best – the things that please the Lord and the things we are called to do in scripture. OR I can choose to let it go and just let things be as they are, just give up, basically.

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I must extend myself grace, as the Lord extends me grace. I must recognize that I am imperfect and always will be. But I hold myself to such ambitious standards – standards I could possibly never reach – and I expect these things from myself and extend no grace when I fail. I beat myself up and feel guilty. Sometimes this causes me to feel sleepy, because I just feel so emotionally awful inside, so I give in and sleep my life away.

What I am trying to say is I have a lot of good advice to give but:

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I think, I feel, but I do not do. I refuse to find myself to be a hypocrite. I will not express to my readers all this great advice and follow none of it myself. I will hold myself accountable for who I truly am.

I was once in a meeting where they asked us to come up with a purpose and mission statement, and recently I was instructed to come up with a chief aim (something I cannot explain very well).

My Purpose is, “To Live for God, making the most of each moment, loving and serving others as I go.”

My mission statement goes like this:

“I genuinely give life all I have and all I am.
I care deeply and intensely about each individual in my path.
I lead by example and am an example worth following.”

My chief aim is still a work in progress. It is supposed to be a short snippet that sums up the direction you want to go in life, or something like that -it is like your purpose summed up. So far, I have, “I live my life for God, serving him fearlessly in every area of my life.”  But I feel like that is too much like my purpose.

Then we were instructed to come up with how we were going to LIVE OUT our mission statement. Here is what I said:

I commit to life and individuals by doing the following:

I continually and completely Love God with all my heart, body, soul, mind, and strength, with enthusiasm and unfailing devotion.

I completely invest in my relationships and the direction they are going now.

I LOVE fully, deeply, with passion and emotional intelligence.

I am committed to enjoying life-altering relationships.

I push myself further beyond what I believe to be my “best self” every day and have integrity in this process.

Everybody fails. Everybody falters. But failing does not a failure make. Fail forward – which simply means to learn from your mistakes. Failure and mistakes make us fixer-uppers. (See this blog post: “Failure or Fixer-Upper”) Am I an example worth following? I do not know what others would say about me, but I feel like I do try to be such and my effort counts for something.

I will follow my purpose, mission statement, and chief aim to the best of my ability. I will be better today than I was yesterday and better tomorrow than I was today. I will grow and change every day for the better. This I commit to do consistently, but I also commit to extend myself grace and love to the extent that I know my Lord does.

So, in my transparency I say to you: Be your best. Do your best. But extend yourself grace. When you fall, get back up, dust off and hit it again, and again, and again.

There is a time and place for stopping something for various good reasons but when you find yourself making excuses for why you cannot do something that is a warning sign that you are giving up. At this point you must make a choice to let it go and give it up, or keep pushing on. There is a time and place for both.

I choose to hit it again and again until I am perfect, but extend myself grace. May you find it within yourself to do the same.

God bless you today and always.

Super Momma Maggie

Blank Pages

Considering everything I have written lately has left me with some thoughts I wanted to share.

I am someone who journals – not religiously but I do journal somewhat often. And I fantasize that someday someone will read about my life and it will matter to someone all the things I have been through and how they shaped me. I journal not just for my own expressions of feelings, but also to leave something of myself behind.

My nieces lost their mother when they were quite young. Lately the older girls have been reading her journals and finding some comfort in knowing how she felt about things, how she thought, and what she dealt with.

I was considering everything I have written on my blog in the past week meanwhile listening to music. I came across a song called “Blank Pages.” I didn’t like the song’s lyrics, but the name really made me think as I am a somewhat over-analytical person.

My first thought was of all the blank pages of a journal that death leaves behind.

My sister journaled, but is journaling no longer. She is in Heaven living a different life – a life I can barely fathom. She has left behind blank pages in her journal and they will remain blank forever, never to be filled with the ink of her pen, her handwriting, or her thoughts and feelings.

This is something I must choose how to react to. Do I wallow in the fact that, until death, I will never sing with her again (something we did often), talk with her again or hear her words of love and wisdom? Or do I push through and recognize the positive – and yes, there is a silver lining here.

I choose the silver lining… Mary is gone but her girls – her four beautiful, amazingly unique girls – are alive and I praise God for them daily. Not only that, but she left behind a legacy of compassion and love. People came to her memorial and said what a positive impact she had on their lives. That was Mary. She was authentic – truly genuine – and knew how to be real, but with love; sometimes when I didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

Which leads me to wonder what legacy – aside from family and memories – am I leaving behind. How will people think of me when I am gone? And what I wonder more is how did I make them feel when I was alive? Did they feel the love of Jesus flow through me to them? Did they feel the compassion I feel for their hurts and struggles? What did they feel?

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But I digress…

I wanted to note here that the blank pages of a journal – the moments that were never lived and never will be lived – are hard, sad, and sometimes peace is elusive. I want to encourage you with words that may or may not be encouraging to you but they encourage me. God does have a plan – in life and in death—, and all things do (eventually) work out for good for those who love the Lord. I cannot explain why people die “before their time” but I can say that God knew their last day on the day they were born and God works through it all. For more information on my thoughts on this read “The Backside of Life.”

As a person with Bi-polar disorder, sometimes I struggle to monitor my moods. My medications help, but I still feel things, which is not an awful thing. But sometimes I struggle to find that peace and joy that is promised in scripture. (I will write more about my bi-polar and this later; perhaps in my next blog.)

I want to end on a high note – as they say. I want you to know that help and hope can be found in the Lord. We find him when we seek Him with all our heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. (James 4:7-8a)) And remember what I posted in Life is Worth Living, Philippians 4:4-9 which I will highlight here by saying peace is found by giving it to God. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7). I could go on. The Bible calls God our “Father” for a reason. And not just “Father” but “ABBA Father” which is more easily seen as “my Father.” (see this interesting article). We can be as near or far from God as we choose, but he is never any farther than a prayer away.

God bless you and yours today and always.

Super Momma Maggie

(I don’t know if my brother Dennis did any journaling, so I’m not sure what he left behind besides memories and material items. Of course, the memories cannot have a monetary value put on them, and I am grateful for every good memory I have with him).

Photo of quote above was unedited and found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dearbarbz365/3342471327.

 

Life is Worth Living

Is life worth living? We make it worth living by doing the works our Father set out for us to do and by who we become. Live loved. Love Life.

As someone who struggles with depression, I have also struggled with finding a reason to live. Life gives us so many reasons to desire death: struggles, hurts, suffering of so many kinds. I see them as things that make me long for heaven. There was a time when my hardships made me want to die so badly that I did try to kill myself… and failed. And not just once. This led me to wonder, what am I living for? Why won’t God let me die or take me? What makes life worth living?

When I had my first child, she gave me a reason to live—to care for her.  But there were days when that wasn’t enough to keep me from longing for heaven. Then my sister died and left behind four beautiful girls and a husband who loved her. And I should mention, I was about 6 months pregnant when she died. This experience floored me emotionally and psychologically. At the time, I was not properly medicated for my bi-polar disorder and anxiety, and it was all I could do to hold it together. Having a life growing inside of me kept me alive, because if I killed myself I killed her, too.

When the baby was born – my second daughter – we named her Serenity Elizabeth Joy (Serenity because, at the time, she was serene, Elizabeth after my sister, Mary Elizabeth, and Joy because we knew she would just bring the world joy (plus it sounded great with the other names, I admit.) At 18 months old, my dearest Serenity E. J. became the strong-willed, energetic, outgoing, and defiant child that she is today. I love that girl with every ounce of my being AND she is one of my greatest challenges. She tests my patience, tries my resolve, and consistently checks on my own consistency.

I must admit, there were days I have wondered, “Why me?” I would pray and ask the Lord, “Why did you give me this child who I find to be such a challenge??” I prayed this prayer for nine years until one day it hit me like a slap in the face. I am the only woman who could possible parent this child. That is not to say that if I did die in some accident God couldn’t raise up another person to care for her. In Esther 4:14 Mordecai tells Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” This tells me that if I killed myself God could raise up another to care for her, but I believe she was given to me for a reason.

Scripture says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I was placed here to do the works that God has prepared in advance for me to do.

And I am just now discovering what those “works” are. Being a wife, raising my children, homeschooling my children, writing the books that God has placed upon my heart, blogging to hopefully share some bit of wisdom that might help others, and (perhaps) I will go to massage therapy school to help others not only feel better but also get better.

All this and still there have been hardships. A week ago, I found out that my brother, Dennis, died tragically. He was very young – only 49. He had just had his birthday in May. I love all my siblings. Even so, for some reason, Dennis and I had some kind of special connection. There was a running family joke that we were twins separated at conception. He had a different mom who (as I mentioned in a previous blog) had died when he was young. Though Dennis and I had our struggles in our relationship, I always loved him deeply. If I were not properly medicated right now, I am not certain how I would have handled his death.

(I cannot stress enough how important it is to get help if you struggle with something – anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or just general inexpiable sadness. Doctors can help, and finding the right kind of help can mean the difference between life and suicide for many people. If you google how many people kill themselves each year you may find yourself feeling like perhaps you should reach out more. But I digress…)

I have realized though that if I wait for the perfect moment where everything is right in the world and thinking at that time I can live happily, perhaps then I will never truly live my life. I have found myself sleeping through the rough days sometimes – asking my amazing MIL to keep the kids. Or sometimes I have found myself floating – you know, just going through the motions but never really feeling any joy or happiness, sometimes feeling nothing at all.

This leads me to thinking how do I go about my life living it and not floating or sleeping through it? How do I experience life, allowing those experiences to shape me but not define me?  How do I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis?

The answer is so simple and yet so challenging for me to live out. The hardest part for me is that I have known it for years, believed it with all my heart, but struggle to feel it in my heart.

Philippians 4:4-9 says (my emphasis added):

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(And this next part is the HOW I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis.)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thingsWhatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

That sums it all up in a pretty little package. Just read it again and DO IT. Then read it again, if you need to, and make a decision to do it. Make a decision to “think about such things,” to pray to the Lord asking for help, thanking Him for the good stuff and the bad stuff, and accept the peace that He extends to you.

The Friday, after finding out my brother was gone, I had a rough day. I was wallowing in my sorrows and feeling sorry for myself. I have that right in this situation, but it was affecting my parenting, how I was treating others, and how I felt about myself. I listened to a song (the lyrics aren’t perfect but the premise is good) and it made me realize I had to shake the devil off and LIVE MY LIFE.

So, I commit here and now before the friends and strangers that read my blog, that I will continually do my best to be my best self and I will live my life – truly live. Mary and Dennis are gone but not forgotten. They can no longer live, but I can and I must. I must make my life worth living by choice.

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Sincerely from the heart,

Super Momma Maggie

(I plan to begin posting more on my other blog. It will be about my past life experiences that have made me who I am. If you are interested, check out www.maggieaspoon.com. And if you enjoyed this blog please like and share. Thanks!)