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Lolly’s House…

Being a grandmother…now, three times over, the holidays take on a bigger significance for me.  After becoming a mother many, many years ago, things shifted to being about the children…my children. Holidays became a whirlwind of happiness and exhaustion!  Now, my children’s generation is experiencing that whirlwind first-hand, and I’m able to plan for each event with a little more energy since I don’t have to be up at night for the 3am feedings…

Even though I still have one child at home, I’m trying to find my new role as the supporter and enabler. My house is transitioning from “Mom’s House” to “Lolly’s House”.  But what does that mean for me as a woman…a person?

I’ve never looked at becoming a grandmother as a lesser-role. As far as responsibility and influence go, it’s like the rest of my life: as my age increases, so should my wisdom and influence…

And if that’s the case, then I have an increased responsibility to use that influence not just in my immediate family, but also everywhere I have a voice.

I think many women struggle to find their voice or their place as their nest becomes more and more empty. For me, I choose to tackle this by constantly filling my nest…

Every year my nest gets fuller, rather than emptier.  I could have never had biological children at all and I still could grow my nest and increase my influence.  

All women have a voice and a place regardless of their motherhood status.

So, how does this paradigm shift in my life affect my every day?  How does it affect my view of the holidays?

Well, of course, my role as “Lolly” is enriched by thinking about the holidays through the eyes of my grandchildren, but what if I didn’t have all these kids to help me find my role?

Halloween clarifies this for me every year.

If you know me, you know that I’m not a big celebrator of Halloween… The creepy and the scary is just not my thing.  In fact, when my kids were little, we basically just pretended that the day didn’t exist.  

Left to my own devices and in my own comfortability, I would just turn the lights out and act like no one is home…

But as I’ve gotten older and my influence has increased, I have begun to look at the world around me less from the perspective of my own comfort and more from the perspective of others.

Hospitality has become something that I cherish.  It’s become like an art-form for me.  So I don’t really feel that I have the luxury to not think about others during the holidays…

It’s not just about me anymore.

Nothing brings this fact into focus more than Halloween.

If it’s truly about others and making them feel loved and cherished, then I have to take a second look at this holiday.  The truth is that there is no other day of the year that people of all kinds come eagerly to my door…they bring their most precious possession: their children to my door and allow me to “ooh” and “aw” over their costumes, they let me give their little ones gifts in the form of treats…

They ask me to be hospitable and kind.

I have the privilege of showing them what coming to my house feels like…Lolly’s House. It may very well be the only visit to a grandmother’s house that they will get to experience during the whole of the holiday season. It may very well be the only kindness they experience all day…week…year.

I may be overstating the significance of this one day…but what if I’m not?

I’ve begun to look for meaning in life not just from being a mother or how many kids I have been blessed with, but rather how much of a blessing I can be to as many as God brings into my path.  And since I’ve begun to look for these opportunities, I’ve found my place.

So no matter how full or empty my nest is, I’m still “Lolly” and there’s always kindness to be shared at my house…Lolly’s House.❣️

And that makes me smile, even if I have to wade through scary clown costumes to do it!😱

Peace to you…

Angie❣️

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The Struggle Will Lead Me Home…

There are all kinds of pain, and all of us experience some kind of pain on a daily basis.  In addition to the normal pains of life, some of us deal with the challenge of deep and chronic pain that is better charted in moments than days since there really are no days when we are not in pain…it’s just a matter of degrees.

I’ve dealt with chronic pain for many years now.  Between fibromyalgia, 6 herniated discs and a meningioma tumor pressing on my brain stem and spinal cord, there always seems to be something to deal with.  Many days, it can feel like my only job is just this one thing:

“How do I manage this pain I feel and not allow it to rob me of this day and all the possibilities it holds!”

I do acknowledge that there are countless people in worse pain than I ever experience, and that thought actually can make it worse because I feel so much compassion and empathy for those who suffer even more deeply than I do.  

For me, there is always the conflict between acknowledging the pain and realizing that it needs to be addressed, and not focusing on the pain as the only thing that exists in my life…

I have a few things that I do to deal with chronic pain.  Here are a few of the practical and tangible things that help me:

  • Chiropractic care is extremely important to my well-being.  My spine being properly aligned is step 1 for me.
  • Accupuncture is a crucial part of my pain management.  It’s also a big part of my holistic approach to dealing with my brain tumor.
  • Following a mainly plant-based, grain-free, processed food and all sugar-free diet is paramount to limiting the systemic inflammation that I battle.
  • Since I take no pharmaceutical pain-killers, I rely on Omegas 3 & 6, turmeric, green tea, yoga and icing the points of severe pain.
  • I’m horrible about remembering to stay hydrated, so my first defense is to drink a glass of water when I experience pain.

But even with these things, there are many days when I struggle to even get out of bed.  On those days here’s what I’m learning to do:

  1. Stop denying that I’m in pain.  Stop qualifying my pain by saying it’s not as bad as it could be.  The “it could be worse” mantra can actually make my mind go in the direction of “what if”…”what if it gets so bad I can’t take it?” Instead, I state where the pain is bothering me the most. State it just as a fact…no more, no less.  Give myself permission to admit that I’m hurting, but then turn to a solution right away.
  2. Focus on what I can do.  Stop telling myself that there’s nothing I can do…that the pain will never decrease. Decide on at least one thing I can do right now that will help decrease my pain level.
  3. Breathe.  Once I’ve acknowledged my pain and I’ve determined something that I can do to address it, I allow myself to breathe into the pain, rather than holding my breath and allowing the pain to control me.  So, if I’m feeling severe pain in my spine…shooting into my shoulder, I’ll stretch my shoulder until I feel the source of the pain and breathe until I feel my breath deeper than the pain.  *Stretch, acknowledge, breathe…breathe in for 6 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 9 counts.  
  4. Exhale.  It sounds cliche, but often in my breathing, especially when I’m stressed or in pain, I will breathe, but I won’t focus on exhaling.  The exhale is as important as the inhale.  It’s in the exhale that we let things go.  It’s in that process that we consciously focus on not holding on to what’s weighing us down, making us sick, or causing us deep pain. This is why, in my measured breathing, I exhale for more counts than I inhale…I want to take extra time in the letting go – because the healing is in the letting go.
  5. Express gratitude.  This is an important step that I was missing for many years.  I was so focused on the pain I was in and the guilt I felt because of the things that the pain was keeping me from, that I would begin the mantra of how terrible I felt…then came the downward spiral toward feelings of how terrible I am… I would inevitably make the leap from how I feel to my feelings being the sum total of my being.  This is just a lie.  Now, on the days when I feel the worst, when I feel searing, teeth-clenching pain, I can tell myself how grateful I am that I am so strong.  I can focus on all of the great things in my life, all of the people who love me, all of the good that can be done even in the midst of my pain.  I can remind myself that my pain is my platform and that everything I’ve experienced is leading me to be a more compassionate, empathetic soul who understands more deeply the sufferings of others.  I can encourage myself.
  6. Find my bliss.  Instead of focusing on my limitations, I try to think of the things that I enjoy…that make me unique.  I think about the things that only I can do.  I plan my next expression.  I think about what I’m going to do the very minute that I feel strong enough to do it.  Many times, just doing this causes me to want to “get up and do” so badly that I will at least do more than I thought I could do just 5 minutes earlier.  Some days, it’s only as far as bathing and getting dressed, but some days, “one step at a time” can lead me to go from stretching to actual exercise, to texting a friend, to making a piece of jewelry….then before I know it I’ve done some things that really help me to feel great about my day.  Sometimes true bliss is just as simple as trying to encourage someone else – so if I can’t run that day, but I encourage someone else who can run…then I’m still in the race…just in a different position.

These steps obviously don’t magically make all my pain go away, it’s more about management.  It’s also about the end-goal of all of my days.  It’s not my goal in life to focus on or spend every minute managing my pain, but it is my goal to become a better person in the process.  Everything in life is a lesson.  I am not the sum total of everything that has happened to me, I am not defined by these things.  I am more defined by my response…by what I do with the lessons I’ve learned.  If pain makes me bitter and not better, then I am missing the opportunity for growth and change.  Life is full of struggles, but I truly believe that…

…The struggle will lead me home.

Peace to you…

Angie❣️

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My Side of the Story…

If you read this blog, you’ve picked up on pieces of my story, and if you attend C3 Church or listen to Byron’s podcasts, you’ve heard other pieces…

Every person’s story has many pieces to it – like a giant and intricate puzzle – and the reality is that even each “piece” is multifaceted…

This Sunday, Byron spoke of part of our story as a couple…about our separation and near-divorce 5 years ago.  As always, he was incredibly gracious and kind and put all of the responsibility on himself for our marriage…our world seeming to burn right in front of us.

But that’s his side of the story…

Here’s mine:

What happened to our marriage 5 years ago really began many years earlier.  I grew up in a seemingly happy, Christian home – the preacher’s daughter.  While I would not compare my upbringing and childhood to others who suffered horrible abuse and awful conditions, there was still abuse – even if everything looked perfect on the outside.  I just learned to cover…smile and cover.  

By the time Byron and I were married, and I went from “Preacher’s Daughter” to “Preacher’s Wife”, I was an expert at covering my true feelings, but the cracks began to show…

By 25, I had two beautiful daughters and although we were “seminary-poor”, we looked like the perfect family…except for the fact that at 5’9″ I weighed 100 lbs., suffered with debilitating depression and never slept more than 3 hours at a time.  But, if you asked…I was great.

By 35, I had 4 beautiful children and it was a daily struggle to hide the storm that was building inside me.  I gained 40 lbs. in 18 months even though I hardly ate, I was having “night terrors” and I began to think that my beautiful family would certainly be better off without me…

Still, if you had asked me, I would have said that I was a little stressed, but I would have never acknowledged that I was toying with burning my life to the ground…

Over the next 6-7 years, Byron tried everything to pull me out of the deep end of the ocean, but I didn’t want to be rescued.  I would have rather drown than to admit that I had been so badly broken in my childhood and beyond, that I truly didn’t believe I was worth saving.

So, by 42 I was living separately from Byron, and I did the “every other week” thing with my kids, and I had to look at their faces and know they were suffering…

all because I decided to burn myself to the ground just to stop the pain.

But, I learned something:

I learned that if you light a match and burn your house down, you’re not the only one who gets burned.  

I learned that if you run away, you take your pain with you.

I learned that you are not defined by what’s been done to you, but you will always carry what you’ve done to others.

I learned that there’s a difference between pain and remorse.  Other’s can cause you deep pain, but remorse comes from your own choices…and it’s a much heavier burden to bear.

I learned that I can choose to end the cycle of pain and remorse.  I can choose to be the person I needed when I was growing up.  I can create the family that I never had.  


I can deal with my pain and stop it from dealing with me with every breath.

I can.

I have the power to choose a new path.

You do as well.

We can’t just light a match and walk away…

Pain only goes away when it heals properly.  

Grace is the only fire strong enough to burn down hell…and it can burn down the hell your living in, if you let it.

I still have the scars to prove that I’ve been through the fire, but thank God, I’m also living proof that you don’t have to be consumed by it.

Peace to you…

Angie❣️