Feet

John 13:3-5
Jesus knew that the father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

Ok. I’ve heard that verse before. I get that in those days the primary means of transportation was by foot. Therefore feet in those days are going to be filthy by the end of the day. I also knew that it was a servants job to wash the feet of their owners.

I can’t stand feet. They give me the heebee jeebees… don’t put your feet on me, near me, or even talk about feet. Only in the past few years have I allowed myself to get a pedicure because I feel so guilty that someone else is touching my feet. In fact I usually pre-pedicure my feet before I get a pedicure so it’s not as gross for the person working with them. I adore my 4 year old’s feet but that’s it. I just did a shaking shimmy now just thinking about feet.

Today’s bible study left me sobbing and speechless…sobbing. We are finishing a study on God’s grace…how we are nothing without it, how it covers us when we are undeserving, how loved and valued we all are as sons and daughters of the king.

I went with an open and willing heart like I always do this morning. There was a guest speaker who was talking about how Jesus washed the disciples feet on the night before his death. She spoke of the enormity of such a simple act. Jesus, our lord and savior was bending down to wash the feet of his disciples to show them that they are clean and made whole again. His act of service was meant to inspire the disciples to do the same, to show them that he cherishes them, and that no act is too small for him, or anyone to do. They were precious to him. Washing their feet was a metaphor for washing away the old and beginning again new, fresh, clean, forgiven, and whole.

So I’m listening to it all thinking wow, I never really thought about this particular act that Jesus did and thanks so much for explaining it to me. Sounds good to me! She didn’t stop there. She proceeded to tell us that our bible study leaders were now going to wash our feet to show us the example Jesus and how he did this for his disciples. We were given markers and told to write on our feet what God was washing away from your life. Wait, what? Scuse me? Did she just say our bible study leaders are now going to wash our feet? She said WHAT????

Feet…my feet…my beautiful new sister in Christ is going to wash my feet? 😳 I couldn’t pull them under me fast enough!!!! Literally! They look awful! I mean TOE UP awful! TOE UP ugly awful! They are bruised, fractured, and the polish has worn off!!!She can’t touch my feet! I’ll wash hers any day of the week but she can’t do this for me. So I started crying. The ugly cry where the makeup comes off in less than 30 seconds and snot is coming out of your nose with no Kleenex in sight…that kind of cry. With shaking hands I took my marker and wrote these words on my feet: pain, doubt, fear, uncertainty, worry, sadness, and old wounds. Horrible handwriting on my horrible looking feet. I was so overcome with emotion that I didn’t even realize the words I was writing.

I cried when it was my turn and took my seat. There she sat on the floor, pouring warm water on my feet and washing away the magic marker. Washing away the mess, like Jesus does with every prayer from me. Holding my rough, unpolished, absolutely hideous feet in her hands and holding them with so much love, care, and compassion.. It was her act of service, from her heart. It was so powerful! I struggled so much just sitting there because I just wanted to hold her….I can’t let her do this! I need to be doing this for HER! But I let her finish. I hugged her and sorry to the person waiting behind me because I could not let her go. We were sobbing together. I could not stop crying. I still can’t stop crying when I think about it.

She washed my feet like Jesus washes my dirty, rough, ugly soul every day. I want to be at his feet doing for him because he’s more than worthy. What he sacrificed for us, for me, for my heart. Here he is doing for me when I need to be doing for him.

To be in a place where you are that vulnerable with the Holy Spirit and a room full of Angels masked as strong Christian women was palatable, powerful, and so humbling. This by far has been my most emotional moment as a Christian. Mom, I know you are smiling from Heaven. I feel it.

Love and belief my beautiful friends❤

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Priceless Perspective

Ive been struggling lately. I’m irritable, tired, irritable, I’ve had migraine headaches. For 9 days in a row and did I mention I’ve been irritable? I miss my mother so much.
Everything seems to be putting me over the edge and I’m truly sorry to my family who get the brunt of my worst. I snap at my kids, all I want to do is have 5 minutes of full and complete silence, and it would be a dream come true to be able to go to the bathroom by myself and not be visited by my 4 year old who is a carbon copy of me. I want to get away from my own self!!! I need a break! I need something good to happen! Even the tiniest thing would go miles with me.

I found $20 in the street today while dropping my girls off at school. There it was, folded up in the middle of the road. Now we can stop this post right here and now and speak of the miracle…. the miracle that I actually SAW money in the road because I finally went to the eye doctor for the first time in my life last week! Everything is blurry! Driving…blurry, reading….forget it… I need glasses!

But for some reason I saw it clearly and knew it was money in the road. As soon as I finished dropping the girls off at school I posted on the Celebration Facebook pages that I found cash and if it belongs to you please let me know and I would gladly return it to its owner. Three posts on three different Facebook pages produced no takers. I figured I’d wait a few days and if no one claimed it I would put it in the offering at church. It’s not my money just because I found it. Finders Keepers does not apply in our home.

I went to Publix, got to school just in time to pick up my daughter and began driving home. (This is miracle number two: being able to grocery shop in a small window of time and get to school on time to pick up Lauren!)

I noticed to my left as I was driving a homeless man with a grocery cart walking on the sidewalk. To say he stuck out like a sore thumb is the understatement of the year. I drove past him and God immediately spoke to me: LOUDLY! Susanna, turn the car around and give that money to this man. It nagged me for a whole two seconds and then I turned the car around and parked.

His hair was so matted. His shoes ( can’t even call them shoes) were coming apart. The heels weren’t connected to anything. His pants had two rips in the back pockets… all the way through. His grocery cart had a bedspread in it that I wouldn’t touch with a 50 foot pole. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go near him with a 50 foot pole. But God not only told me to turn my car around… he told me to get out of my car and speak to him like the human being he is.

I approached the man, put my hand on his arm and told him I found money today and would he like to have it. He gladly accepted it and the bottled water I just happened to have in my car.

I told him to have a wonderful day and then got back in my car… my car filled with groceries…my car which held my curly girl who I really do adore…my car with my coach purse, my RayBan sunglasses, and my iPhone 6.

I drove home to my gorgeous house, in my perfect neighborhood, filled with a huge appreciation for all that I have. All my stuff got placed on hold just now…thank you Jesus for the perspective I didn’t even know I needed to see today. I am blessed, I am blessed, I am BLESSED! That $20 dollar bill gave me priceless perspective…the kind only God can give.

To the Celebration resident who realizes that the $20 is yours… message me and I’ll gladly give it to you from my wallet❤

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Do not fear my friend

Dear beautiful friend,
I have to thank you as always because no matter what’s going on wherever you are, you’ll drop everything for me and talk me down from the edge. I’m so grateful for you in ways you can’t even imagine.

You told me right before we got off the phone that sometimes you are afraid… afraid of all of the decisions you have to make, big and small…when it comes to your family. You revealed a vulnerability that is very close to your heart.

First of all, I thank you for telling me what you did. I told you I needed to to chew on it for a little while before I had a response for you… I chewed and here goes. I’m not using your name so don’t worry but I wanted to put it as a blog post because I have the feeling it might speak to other mommas who have moments of doubt.

Momma, you are so grounded in Jesus that your decisions are always coming through him. The human side of you will go into auto pilot when you think of the enormity of what you do every day… the overwhelming constant… the ‘I am molding these tiny humans into who they need to be’, the responsibility of it all. Girl, you are not only raising your children, they are soaring.

They are soaring because of Jesus, pouring through you and into them. You are a spiritual rock momma. Your feet are so firmly planted in who Christ wants you to be. It radiates. It’s how I instantly knew you were a good egg the first time i saw you! If you could pause in the chaos of it all for just a moment and step back a few layers you would see what I see: a strong sister in Christ who guides her family based on what he wants for you.

Your children radiate Jesus. They DO! Send your kids to someone else’s house and you’ll always get the glowing reviews of how wonderful they are versus how they act at home! They are little examples of what you teach them every day. They hear you, it sinks in….. I see it…so trust me… it’s in there.

The years go by and the challenges move from diaper bags and double strollers to middle school and ‘how the heck do I get more than kid in different places at the same time?’ I get it. It’s a constantly changing job we have as mothers to adapt, move, adjust, and continue to raise, parent, and love our children.

But sweet momma who I love more than my Dooney and Bourke black patent bag….. do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. You are not only navigating the waters of motherhood… you are covered…covered and radiating Jesus in everything you do. You’ve got this and then some. I look up to you for so many things… SO many! I love you so much! Thank you for leading by example. I learn so much from you.❤

PS: Lauren is coughing like a barking seal…. 🙈 . It’s gonna be a looonnnnng day and night for me!

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Sometimes I’m so far in the forest that I can’t see the trees. I escaped from the woods last night and saw a few things very clearly. Don’t you hate how you think you’ve changed, you feel differently about so many things, and then BAM! Your old habits come and smack you in the face!? That’s not just me right? Can I get a witness?

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I always have. I don’t know how to have boundaries with my feelings for others. It’s just not in my DNA to withhold, guard my heart, or not do something for someone I care about. This kind of vulnerability tends to bite me in the rear every now and then. I don’t like getting bit. Who does?

Giving it to God allows me to know that he made me who I am and he made me for a purpose. I know he made me this way so that I can bless others, build true friendships and feel true happiness and joy when I can give to others and feel their joy in return. He doesn’t want that side of me to change because it’s how he made me. It’s how he put me together. It’s how he built me in his image.

The human side of me needs work. The side that gets angry when I feel my good deeds aren’t seen or appreciated. My gut tells me to put up walls and shut things down but I know that’s not how I was built to be.

I can’t change who I am. Unfortunately I know my flaws and I have MANY. God, please take this human side and mold it into what you want. Move my hurt heart aside and show me how to love without asking or expecting anything in return.

I’m a work in progress. A big work in progress. I fall down daily. I lose my temper. I blame. I lash out. I fail. I sin. I hurt others with my words. I cry…a lot.

My sister told me last night that you can’t ask a flamingo to bark like a dog. You have to love the flamingo for who it is. So God, help me to love the beautiful flamingos in my life and be able to appreciate their feathers. I also ask that you allow those flamingos to love me for my feathers…. ruffled and all.

Photo taken by my beautiful mother, Susan Woods Alderson

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Trust me

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll be honest… I was feeling very sad this morning. Not the typical ‘Valentine’s Day I didn’t get anything I wanted’ sad because I smartly ordered Coobie comfy bras and called it a day. I’m easy to please! No flowers and chocolates for me.

But I found myself sad this morning. Sometimes a quiet empty house can be a bad thing. I was missing my momma so much and just wishing there were a funny card in the mail from her or a cute Facebook post with her in heart shaped glasses. Nothing… nothing but a silent house and a sad heart for me.

I scraped myself up and went to meet Lauren at swimming lessons. This is her second lesson and let’s just say she HATES it. I mean HATES it! I get out of my car and immediately Hear wailing…. it’s her! She’s wrapped herself around a pole and nothing is gonna get that baby in the pool! Armed with a bag full of gummy worms I run with my nearly broken toes (that’s a whole other story) to get to my petrified daughter. Let me tell you… there are no amount of gummy worms on the planet that are gonna get her in the pool so I do what any other mother would do…. get in the pool, fully clothed, with my sweatpants and T-shirt on!

“Come on in Lauren! Trust me, I tell her!!! I will hold you the whole time! I won’t let you go, I promise! We are going to do this lesson together and I’ve got you the whole time, I promise!”

She was still scared to death and I felt her fear as she clung to me like a howler monkey but God bless her sweet heart, she did it. She trusted me and she held on.

What a beautiful metaphor for my relationship with Jesus!!! “Jump in Susanna! Jump in and trust me! I will carry you!!!! I won’t let you go, I promise!” I saw it today, I felt it through my child. Jesus is in the pool, fully clothed and arms wide open…. he wants your heart, he wants to show you that you can trust him. He wants to carry you when you are scared.

Thank you Lauren for jumping to me even though you didn’t want to. Thank you for trusting me when all you wanted to do was hold onto the pole that was way far away from the pool. I’ll always catch you!

Thank you Jesus for ONCE again showing me how powerful your love is for me. You changed my sadness into pure joy just now! I am the first and only Celebration resident who jumped in the pool fully clothed to help with a swimming lesson! Today is a WONDERFUL day❤

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Idol of affirmation

Our bible study is focusing on grace. It’s amazing all the layers I am learning about. We talked this week about idols and how they get in the way of being truly whole with Jesus. It’s what we turn to when we feel at our worst or feel like we’ve arrived and have it all (even if it is temporary).

In the book Craving Grace by Ruthie Delk, she asks a series of questions to help you determine what your own idol is. The two that stood out to me were:

1. What do I crave that without it, I am miserable.

2. If I only had _______ I would be happy.

I chewed on those for a little while and then the answer pretty much screamed at me. I always thought an idol was either the golden cow that the Old Testament people worshipped, money, fame, or a bad relationship. I never realized that idols can come in any shape and size and they can be many things for many people.

1.What do I crave that without it I am miserable? Affirmation.

2. If I only had affirmation I would be happy.

Affirmation is one of my love languages. I crave positive words from others. I will kill myself to do something for someone just so I can get the thank you and the I love and appreciate you that follows. It fills me up inside. It fuels me to do more for friends and family.

When I’m happy I love doing so I can get affirmation. When I’m down and sad I try harder and flat out ask for affirmation…this usually doesn’t end well! Why would anyone want to give me positive words about myself when I’m acting like a whiny brat demanding that they tell me how great I am? And I wondered WHY this didn’t work for me for so many years? Sorry to my husband for that…thankful for his forgiveness and grace with me. My logic based husband married a wife who is 100 percent heart. God help him sometimes!

I am ALLLL about reading the comments that are posted on anything I put on Facebook. I realize that writing this blog post on affirmation might seem like I’m looking for affirmation but I promise you it’s not. What a hypocrite right??

I share this because I had a light bulb moment this past week and I felt it was something that might help someone else. I realized two things:

1. Affirmation is my idol. Finding it in people keeps me further away from God. Constantly craving it from friends and family, or even just hearing it on its own without my seeking it is pulling my focus from where it needs to be with God.
2. God’s affirmation in me is all I need. It is more than I need. Realizing that my idol is affirmation helps me be aware of what keeps me further from God. Knowing is everything! When you can see clearly one day what you couldn’t see the day before is powerful, very powerful!

I’m so grateful for the spiritual journey I’m on. I pray for repentance from my idol and ask God to keep my eyes open so I can see what HE wants me to see, my ears open so I can hear the affirmations that HE says to me, and my mouth open or shut depending on what HE wants me to say. That’s when’s I truly feel I’m whole and right with God. Repenting is when I feel closest, loved, completely loved and righteously affirmed. Beautiful. What a beautiful God we serve!

I’m a VERY transparent work in progress and I hope that my transparency might help with something you are questioning as you walk with the Lord or are thinking he might be worth a try. Love and belief my friends. ❤

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Layers

So here I am thinking I’ve got this Jesus thing down. I’m praying all day every day, I’m reading my mommy daughter devotional to my girls when we eat breakfast, and I listen to Christian music on my SiriusXM radio in my car. Jesus is everywhere right? In theory yes.

So why do I find this week to be so spiritually challenging? I feel like there are so many layers I’ve been introduced to recently about my relationship with the Lord and the thought of all of it is a little overwhelming. I’m in a weekly bible study group and let me tell you…. these women are warriors for Christ. Makes me feel like my 44 years of knowing about the Lord are nothing. They quote scripture off the top of their heads, and they are deep thinkers, wise with their words and thoughts.

Compared to them, I feel like I’m at the kids table and they are at the grown ups table at dinner. I’m sitting there with my little spoon, my plastic partitioned bowl filled with dry cheerios, and a sippy cup….a pink one with Cinderella on it.

Everything I know up to this point is just the beginning. It’s only just the start. It’s a little scary because I thought I knew so much already. I want to be the perfect student for Jesus and I don’t want to mess anything up. I know this should be exciting and happy. There’s a whole world I’m being introduced to and it’s one of comfort, love, acceptance, grace…everything. Yet this week I’m a little overwhelmed by it.

As I step back and try to see why I feel that way a friend of mine told me today that because I was a new Christian (44 years new) Satan was trying to pull out the little plant that is now growing within me. Wow! She’s right! No better way to try and squash a happy heart than by throwing doubt on it. “You aren’t doing this right”, “There’s so much you don’t know”, “You’re so far behind everyone else”.

Yeah… all that’s probably true but I’m resolute in my journey and all that comes with it. I have a willing heart and want so much to learn more. My faith is unwavering and while I will fall down daily I will always fall at Jesus’s feet and ask for forgiveness. I also need to get out of my own way and pray before I overthink. Anyone else feel like this?

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Blanket and a crown

Dear Mom,

Lauren woke me up like clockwork just now. She’s settled with Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix and I’m in the front room on your couch wrapped in your ivory blanket that smells like you. I think I’m going to wear this all day today and be queen of my own broken self. I couldn’t bring myself to go to St Pete to finalize your house because I’m such a mess. I am where I am and I’m allowing myself to grieve.

Even though I am emotionally all over the place I believe there’s strength in that because I’ve never pushed away my grief or sadness. Every time I have felt something I have allowed myself to feel it. I stop in the moment and no matter where I am I allow it to come in and come through. People mean well when they say that my mother wouldn’t want me to be sad but I think (I know) that mom, what you would want is to hold me and allow me to feel what I feel. You would always listen to me and tell me you understand…..it’s what I need right now. It’s the ONLY thing I need right now.

I’m a mess but I’m ok. I’m not going to get down on myself and think I should be doing anything any better than I am. I’m here in this time in my life for a reason and while it is one I would never have chosen I believe that God will work through me to somehow be a comfort or quite possibly lead others to Jesus.

Satan has come fully equipped to tear me down this weekend. I’ve been hit with landmines you can’t even imagine mom! At one point I just stopped and said out loud “This is Satan!” Sure as the turned up, bought and paid for nose on my face…. this is Satan! Throwing things at me to knock me down. Bringing in situations from out of nowhere! Satan wants me to fail. He wants me to fall. He thrives on my worry, chaos, and anger. He plants seeds that I rip out daily.

So while Satan is fully equipped…so am I. I might be sad and grieving but I am solid in who I am in Christ. I am the daughter of a king and the crown might be on messy, unwashed hair I proudly wear it every day!

So here I am mom, queen of my broken self, wrapped in your ivory blanket, wearing the crown given by God. Not bad for a Sunday morning right? I love and miss you….I miss you so much.

 

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Put her out of her misery please!

Dear Mom,
I suck. I know that is a bad word to say if you are a Christian but add that to my many list of flaws… i suck. I haven’t been very inspiring today. I haven’t put anything positive, uplifting or hopeful out in the universe. I strive for something positive every day because it feels so good to put good out there. But today I have just been so sad.

Sadness is different from grief. Grief hits like a Mac truck and will literally knock me down with hysterical crying that I can’t control. Sadness is the cloud hanging in your heart. I’ve been so sad lately. I want to call you every day and talk to you. I check my email and you haven’t written. The half marathon is coming up on Sunday (just shoot me now please… someone put me out of my misery). I want you to put your tiny hands on my face and tell me that everything is going to be ok.

This time last year You were here for the talent show. You saw Elizabeth sing her heart out on stage and you were so proud of her. We had so much fun watching the Iowa Caucuses after the girls went to bed. So many memories are washing over me. I can’t believe you won’t be here anymore to see my girls grow up, to photograph every piece of their childhood, to share your heart with them. They miss you so much.

Little things everywhere remind me of you. Auto pilot kicks in and I still think you are here and I can share them with you. But I can’t because you are gone. Dear God in Heaven… I’m so so so sad. I can’t feel any sadder. I’m on the ground and begging for comfort, for peace, for strength.

Facebook showed me a memory today from this day last year. Lauren was on the phone with you and you were planning a trip to see me and the girls this time last year. It hit me so hard. I’d give anything to be able to pick up the phone and talk with you. Please let this be just a nightmare. Please….I just want you back.

I’ve been strong this whole time and I think this weekend is absolutely going to kill me. People get to run the Celebration Half, earn a medal, be proud of their well deserved accomplishment and I get to go to St Pete to finalize emptying your house and give keys back. I get to be there to help Bekah but help me Jesus, I’m probably going to be on my knees sobbing the whole time. I get to remember that this time last year you were alive and cheering for me…always so proud of whatever I would do. Even though I fell down on the race and was slower than I had ever been in years past you were there at the finish line with the biggest smile on your face. You were the only one there for me and you were so proud.

Mom, I can’t put an inspiring spin on this post. I am broken-hearted and I just want you momma to hold me. Please come back….please. I’ll do anything for you to just come back. Your baby needs you and is so sad.

Dear Jesus, help me get through this so I can be a blessing for someone. Help me be strong so I can be uplifting, so I can share how wonderful you are. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…. thank you for my relationship with you Jesus.

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Surrender

Dear Mom,
I get in my own way…every single day. Land mines are everywhere. My feelings get hurt. My expectations are not met. My to do list is too great. My to do list is overwhelming. People are out to deliberately be passive aggressive and hurt my feelings (because the world DOES in fact revolve around me). I pile up my list of disappointments and frustrations like rocks in a corner. I let them build too. One rock in the corner is not enough…I wait for a whole pile to build up and when the time is absolutely not right in any way, shape, or form I sling them. I sling them hard too. It doesn’t matter if i sling them at my husband, my children, or mostly myself. I sling them.

I have no excuse for this. I can’t blame this one on grieving for you mom….unfortunately this is my selfish human nature that Ive had for the past 44 years. You always said how selfish I was and I know it to be true. I would get so angry at you for pointing this out to me. But in truth, my anger was at myself because you would always put a mirror up in front of my face to show me the ugly that needed to be fixed.

I forget to go to God. How is that when I feel more plugged into him than I ever have been? I don’t know why this happens but I forget to go to God. I think I can control everything. I can manage it all because that’s the type of person I am. Type A, controlling. I take pride in adding things to my list so I can feel accomplished when I finish them. Ugly truth….they can also be a rock to sling at the person who DID NOT do all the amazing things I did…I do this and this and this and this and this…..what did YOU DO???? It’s ugly and I need to be smacked out of it.

Fear not momma, I get knocked back into my place because I ask for it. Most of the time it is way later than it needs to be but I always ask God to knock me back into where I need to be. He lets things go as far as I can handle and then he takes over. It’s the PROCESS that’s so frustrating. Every time I give everything to God I am overwhelmed by his love, his actions, his comfort…so why the heck am I not going to him FIRST with everything?

Why does the every day get in the way? I know this is a huge part in my walk with Christ and I know that this struggle between doing things my way and the way God wants me to is put in my path for a reason but it’s hard.

When I’ve done all I can do I surrender….I surrender it all….my good, bad, ugly, tears, broken heart, I surrender. There are times I am so overcome with emotion that I can’t even think the words to pray to God. Imagine that….I’ve always got something to say, an opinion on anything, and pride myself on being a good communicator. There are times I don’t even know how to articulate what I am thinking or feeling to God. So I surrender…..I raise my hands to heaven and that is my prayer. The act of my hands up in the air is my giving everything I have…my whole self to God and knowing that he knows my heart so I don’t need to form words to say to him. It’s the reset button I need to get me back to where I need to be with God…I tried it all my way and now I’m giving you my mess and letting you know that I am going to work my hardest to give you everything first instead of doing it all on my own.

My hands go up to Heaven a lot these days and I have no shame stopping anything I am doing anywhere to raise them up. It’s my most unselfish thing I can do.

I love and miss you momma. I hope you are doing well. I know you are. I still miss you. I hope you are proud of me. I’m trying. Every day is a new day. I miss you.

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