During quarantine 2020, I renewed a forgotten passion. Jigsaw Puzzles. I shocked myself, my husband, and everyone who knows me in my mission to complete the puzzles, as in ALL the puzzles. (Hello, enneagrram 3). Much to my surprise (not really), my lock-down companions taught me some powerful life lessons. It is my pleasure to share.
Y'all, not to minimize the problems that are currently eating this world, thereby making society crazy, but I'd like to propose a baby step in the age-old question: "Why can't we just all get along?" OR "What the heck is WRONG with people?"
Take a nap.
Here's my logic:
Jesus (aka God in a bod) was in his 30's and took naps. (Documented Gospel Truth)
Therefore, Amanda (most definitely not God in a bod) is in her 40's, and should definitely take naps.
You know why I think Jesus took naps? I have a lot of hypotheticals here, but I'm going to share my top 3 or 4:
1) To maintain a high level of patience with the tomfoolery occurring around Him.
2) To avoid grumpiness and the desire to wipe stupidity out with one fell swoop.
3) To maintain a high level of productivity during his short ministry. After all, He was on a mission with a timeline.
4) To practice what He preached, because Lawd Y'all, loving people is no small order sometimes.
I know, I know. He was divine, holy, and without fault. I GET IT. He's my Savior, too.
He was housed in flesh and blood, and being divine and all, knew when sleep was a necessity.
Many of us (Americans), know this truth but choose to ignore this truth with kitschy quips, "I can sleep when I'm dead.", "Who needs sleep?" "I'm a night owl.", "I don't require a lot of sleep."
Raise your hand if you have superpowers? Anyone, anyone? Nope. Me, either. So, as my Kentucky bestie says, "C'mon Y'all!"
We LOVE to work, thrive on busy, and, if possible, inject caffeine directly into our veins. People are literally dying in the pursuit to stay awake.
Stop. It. (Insert a hand clap when you see a period.)
It's a proven fact (google it) napping does the following:
1) Improves your health. (From your head to toe and all the unmentionables in between.)
2) It makes you more alert. (Wake up refreshed and join the conversation with open ears and a reasonable tone.)
3) Inspires creativity. (I'll take a little of that. Please, and thank you.)
4) Improves mood. (Ummm...Yes, please.)
5) It makes you more PATIENT and willing/able to LISTEN to other people. (For the love of the planet, CLOSE your eyes.)
And the good news? Not much is required. 10-20 minutes.
My friends, allow me to anticipate your questions:
Well, I happen to be a habitual napper so I can answer this question with a little creativity (get that?)
1) In an ideal life, at home in your bed or recliner or couch. (Never going to happen?) Read on.
3) School parking lot
4) Grocery store parking lot
5) As you're going through the car wash machine thingy (Be cautious with this one.)
6) At your desk
7) Under your desk
8) Any parking lot
9) In the bathroom. *Note, a handicap bar is a great tool to use as a lean on device.
10) During your lunch break. (When I taught school, I may/may not have turned off all the lights, moved a desk out of eyesight, and put my head down.)
You don't have to actually sleep. No worries. Download a white noise app on your phone, set the alarm, and close your eyes. Unplug those neurons for just a few. Guaranteed, you will be a much more rational human afterward.
All joking aside, this road is rough, and you require food, water, shelter, and rest (all figurative and literal). Claim the following verse and take care of yourself.
Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you rest, your sleep will be peaceful.
Five years ago, I sat in my brother's hospital room, reeling from a diagnosis no one expected. Shock filled the air and threatened to paralyze me with every breath. And the tears, tears that had been frozen for years came pouring down my face.
Me: I'm so sorry, Matthew. I can't stop crying.
Matt: Amanda, this is how you are supposed to grieve. You are supposed to cry. I don't want you not to cry. Don't go down that other road.
Me: I nodded my head, eyes big, tears unchecked.
Matt: Promise me, whatever this looks like, you will take time to process and do this right.
Me: I promise.
My brother had witnessed the emotional fallout of glossing over our parents' death, burying myself in action, and the resulting disaster area created by years of refusing to process. His selflessness in calling me out was a gift I will cherish—and remember.
Processing—to treat or prepare by some series of actions
Whether you are graduating from college, celebrating a milestone, welcoming a new addition to the family, or grieving the presence of a loved one, processing change is a vital step toward intentional adjustment.
You see, I know, because I've hopped, skipped, and jumped right over-processing, and the end result is unpreparedness, which leads to reactions based on emotions, and over time functioning on pure feeling is a recipe for disaster.
Everyone processes differently. I take walks—lots and lots of steps. And when I walk, I think, pray, and process.
Every step is time to ask/answer burning questions, but important ones. What have I gained? What have I lost? What void is filled/created?
But you can walk through a situation without literally walking. My son plays basketball out in the driveway. My husband flies. My daughter draws. My brother works out. Some people sit in silence and are just still.
Allowing time to answer these questions encourages comprehension. And comprehension can lead to a better understanding or, at times, peace in the absence of understanding.
I walk to process relationships.
I walk to process parenting quandaries.
I walk to express my thanksgiving.
I walk to pour my heart out and lay my feelings out in the open.
I walk and grieve.
I walk to remember.
I walk to work through problems from work.
I walk to process fear.
This passage from Ecclesiastes, chapter 3 reminds me to take the time to comprehend the season.
For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Whatever time it is in your life, don't deny yourself time to process and comprehend. Take a deep breath and move forward.
Moving with Scribbles,
Dear 14-year-old Me,
Come close, sweet girl. Over here. That's right. Stand in front of the mirror and be still for a minute. Allow me to whisper some truths. (Try not to roll your eyes.) First, you are beautiful. I know, I know. You think you are flat-chested, sporting a gap between your teeth, cursed with hair that won't cooperate, and too poor to afford the cool clothes. You have knobby knees, rough skin, and a turned-up nose that someone in middle school said made you look like a pug dog.
Don't believe them. Don't find the voice that says, "Not good enough." Just don't.
Not one word.
You are masterfully, uniquely, wonderfully made, with no mistakes. Please learn to own that truth, sooner, rather than later.
You are smart.
You may not like math or science, but dislike and insecurity do not equal stupidity. It just doesn't. Bend your ear, and don't be afraid to embrace the unknown—to ask for help.
You have words, lots of words. But you are too shy to say them aloud. Be faithful to your journal. Write them down. One day you will look back and learn so much from what you left behind.
You love to get lost in imaginary worlds with characters who are beautiful and heroic. You block all out and focus on the pages. There is nothing wrong with immersing yourself in fiction; one day, it will serve you well. But--
Don't ignore reality. Life is happening right now, and you are missing it.
Your world is small. Limited. You can't see past the next day, much less the following year. You feel trapped. The time that seems to tick by at a snail's pace will fly, and one day, you will wish you had held on a little tighter to the pages of this part of your story.
And that weirdness you are feeling right now? Those are hormones. They will forever be around and will produce whacked out emotions that will threaten to run your ship into a mountain of rocks. Hold tight. You'll learn to take back the controls.
That relationship isn't worth it. You are too young and entirely don't fully realize what is at stake. Guard your heart at all costs.
Don't groan at the idea of a game night or movie night with your brothers or parents. There will be a time when those minutes of boredom when you'd instead have been "out" become magical memories you try to recapture.
And whatever you do, learn about grace—unmerited, undeserved favor. Get your buckets ready because you're going to need to bathe in and have it handy to dump over others.
Dear 21-year-old Me,
It's true. He loves you. He really loves you. That ring on your finger is not imaginary, and that wedding is going to happen.
You are worthy of his love. Don't doubt it. Not for one more second. He desperately needs you to believe in him and commit to making this work, because neither of you has any idea what life will look like beyond the wedding.
Dig in. There is such a thing that is falling in and out of love. But it's momentary and fleeting. The truth is we choose to step in and out of commitment. I know, I know. Your heartbeat is out of control when he walks into a room, and your hands still get clammy when you occupy the same breathing space. You can't imagine not being head over heels in love with every single cell of his being.
Life tends to dull the senses. Intentionality sharpens them.
Faith, my darling. Invite Jesus into your marriage.
Also, please give yourself time to grieve. Your wounds will not heal themselves. Turn to what you know to be true.
You cannot run this race-fueled on your accomplishments. You will come to the end of yourself, and nothing can take the place of the One and Only.
And remember the grace thing. It's about to kick into high gear.
Dear 28-year-old Me,
You are a mama—his mama. And this baby will grow to love, adore, and protect you. Trust. He will teach you how to knock down those well-constructed walls as he sways his way into the crevices of your heart you didn't know existed. You are not going to screw him up—okay, maybe a little, but no kid is perfect. Enjoy rocking him, singing those lullabies, and kissing that ginormous head. One day—quicker than he can spit up all over your fifth outfit of the day, he will be taller than you and be running around a football field, rendering you to the stands cheering him on and praying for his safety.
Fast forward 13 months.
Breathe again. And again.
Yes, God has a sense of humor, and you and Jeromy are the proud recipients. You are her mama, too—and she will attach herself to you literally and physically. She will stretch you like you've never been stretched before. She will fill your house with sass, laughter, and tears. She will be the exclamation point, not known for her subtleties. Enjoy the piggy tails, the dance recitals, the coloring sessions, the baby dolls, and the horseback riding. One day, she will be taller than you, and she will ask you the hardest questions you've ever been asked. She will be beautiful, and people will notice, and again, you will pray. There will be lots of words spoken—more than you can fathom.
Give yourself grace and leave plenty of room for everyone else. You should be familiar with the concept by now.
Dear Today's Me,
You have endured a rough road stretch, complete with bumps, bruises, scrapes, and black eyes. All the while, Jesus held on to you, and you dug your claws into Him, and once again, you breathe.
There are hard days.
There are days filled with immense joy.
That man of yours still loves you as you love him. And most days—you like one another, too.
The kids are the best and most fun right this very minute, and don't you dare miss a second of it worrying, stressing, or flipping out over the maybe, the mights, or the what-ifs.
Enjoy them. Enjoy him.
Stay close to Jesus. He is your lifeline, your support system, your daily source of strength.
Love God. Love others. Use your gifts. Love your people.
And yes, you will most definitely take a shot of grace. Please, and thank you.
Dear Future Me,
Your purpose is to live and to breathe as long as you are.
Love God. Love others.
Drink in your people.
Anticipate your future.
Give grace. Receive it with tons of gratitude.
I am not unbroken because of my:
I am simply broken.
In need of mending.
In need of redemption.
In need of perfection, I do not contain or desire.
In need of someone who loves me as I am, where I am.
In need of someone who holds my face, kisses away my tears, and tells me I'm wrong when I think I'm right.
In need of someone who pulls me close and assures me all can and will be made new again.
In need of unbroken.
In need of a Savior.
My heart turns away from the jagged shards and fully faces the One who doesn't deal in band-aids or messy stitches, evidenced by futile attempts at fixing.
He heals with hands covered in blood—blood that binds, seals, and protects.
I am not unbroken. You can plainly see the scars.
But I am redeemed, repurposed, and revived.
Day by Day.
Inch by Inch.
Refined by fire to look less—broken,
And more like the One who makes all things whole.
Moving with Scribbles,
At 45, excessive verbiage irritates me.
This reality concerns me a bit, considering I am married, have two teenagers, work in leadership development, write books, and speak for a living. However, a recent conversation with my beloved has shed some light on the why behind the what. I'd like to share.
My husband and I work together. We may or may not pass one another at various times in the restaurant or offsite office, depending on one another's schedule.
Yesterday, around 3:00, I'm on my way out the door to pick up our daughter. Jeromy is sending a text to the team, while our training director and office director are diligently working at their desks.
Jeromy looks up. I guess my tone indicated I was talking to him. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji)
Me: "I need your face for a minute after you're done."
Jeromy: Nods, while never looking up. Continues to text.
Directors: Laughter and head shakes commence, as they continue to work without missing a beat. (They know and love us.)
He finishes texting, and we exchange about ten words confirming football games, volleyball games, dinner plans, and sleepovers.
Me: "See ya."
Us: "Love, Ya."
Kiss on the cheek.
Me: "I'm out."
Laughter in the background.
Here's the deal, Y'all.
Jeromy and I have come to terms with the reality that we are given buckets of commodities to spend during the ever-stubborn, non-negotiable 24 hours. One bucket contains patience. Lord, help it multiply. The other includes words. Yes, as in syllables with meanings.
Can Jesus renew and replenish the buckets? Yep.
We're not perfect, and many times our humanity gets in the way of the multiplication miracle. To put it bluntly, there is a point in the day when—we're done.
Y'all can relate.
We work with people. And we love our people. But people require words. Lots and lots of words. When you add two teenagers into the mix, the commodity of verbiage is spent and consumed faster than you can accept or deny an eye roll or a blank stare. Therefore, when we get to one another, the following might happen:
1) We can have an entire conversation with no words. Sometimes these "talks" are romantic and super sweet. I love you and get you, and there is absolutely no need for you to speak for me to know those moments. And then there are the times when frustration boils over. Eyes dart, body language screams, he goes to his corner, I go to mine; we meet in the middle with arms crossed. Things eventually right themselves. It depends on the evening.
2) Jeromy walks in the door, and all I hear are strange sounds from his mouth that should be words but don't quite make it to actual syllable status. When this occurs, I know we are done speaking for the night. Don't get me wrong, the temporary no-word status can/and often is a mutual situation. On those nights, the sooner sleep comes, the better.
Here's our solution to both. You know what happens after a glorious few hours of sleep? The buckets replenish! More words come. So, Jeromy and I get up a little early, share two cups of coffee in bed, and exchange many words. Sweet moments, Y'all.
I Corinthians 13 hangs over our sleeping space for a reason.
Flowers and chocolates have taken a back seat to energy and WORDS. When we anticipate a rare evening (almost a unicorn these days) where our attention is focused solely on one another, we INTENTIONALLY save our words.
Time has a way of redefining romance, but you know what? The sound of silence is not such a bad thing, either. Especially when you're sharing it with someone you love.