Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Happy 26th Birthday To Our Marriage!!

Let me tell you about Neil aka NPayne aka Superman aka my better half aka my person.  Let me start with this disclaimer....I don't believe you should count on people to make you happy or blame them for being unhappy, however I do believe that people can attribute to your feelings of happiness.  Now onto NPayne!  A long time ago, in a land far away, there was this boy and this girl....and this girl was in a dark place and really just trying to get through each day.  This boy came along and through the grace of God, he "rescued" her.
Neil is gentle and kind and thoughtful.  He has always treated me with nothing but respect.  I don't think Neil makes me happy, but I do think he greatly attributes to my happiness.  With that being said, I'm not happy 100% of the time.  When I'm not happy, Neil doesn't make me unhappy. Now he can get on my last nerve and make me mad, but he has never once contributed to my unhappiness.  I've had people, in my life, who have contributed to my unhappiness, but never Neil.  It took me a long time to realize that people can control their words and actions towards you, and you cannot control can only control how you react.  I truly believe that God intervened in my darkest time to show me who I could be through Neil, and he brings out the best in me.  If you have had the pleasure of knowing Neil, you surely know this about him too.
The other day I was I have been a lot lately....about many things:  my kids, money, school, trying to find a job.  I just sent him an email that said...."What if I can't find a job?"  He sent me back an email explaining how we will be okay, and I replied with "I'm nervous."  He replied with, "Don't be!  You only need a part-time job to pay for couches and donuts." ;)  It made me laugh and lightened the load I've been carrying, but it also made me realize something that I have been struggling with.  He has been working so hard and long hours, and it's been tough on me; because I'm use to him being around.  I know that's a first world problem, but it's still a struggle for me.  I like him being around.  Our daughter has been very sick.  I've had a lot of my own health issues.  We have crazy things going on in our house.....yes, I know first world problem.  But what I didn't think about was how it's been tough on him too.  What I realized is that he has been putting in all of this time at work, so he could make sure I'm taken care of....we are taken care of.  He has always worked hard and been amazing at his job.  Neil didn't go to college, so he has had to work extra hard to earn recognition and pay that he deserves in the industry he's in.  The fact that he has been working hard to provide for his family, since he was barely a teenager should be enough to prove himself in the work place; but it doesn't.  He's had to prove it, and he has done so effectively.  It has just taken a long time, and that is purely because he doesn't have a a degree.  The fact that he has been working even more shouldn't surprise me; but I had the reason wrong.  I thought it was just for a possible promotion, pay increase; but in reality it was for a possible promotion, pay increase to help I didn't have to worry about money and bills and debt and medical expenses.  It all made sense, and I was reminded again how much Neil loves me and that what he does is never for him, but always for us.  Someone asked me recently how Neil handles it when I get mad at him, and I laughed a little when I thought about it; because I'm a hot head and have ranted over lots of things.  My reply was that he remains calm and listens to me rant....most of the time not even about anything to do with him....and that he balances me out better than anyone else I could have ever imagined.  Then I said this, "He's the best thing that ever happened to me"; and he is.  Without him, there would be no us, no Payne Train.  I realize that I was key in making 5 babies, but I also realize that without Neil as my husband; they would be very different people.  Because you see....he balances them out too.  So Happy 26th Anniversary're my favorite, my person, my forever boyfriend; and I adore you!!

Monday, May 28, 2018

May 28th....The Best Day of 1999

Happy 19th Birthday Callahan Leigh Payne!  Our Lone Ranger.  My only son.  I've been thinking about you as an adult this past year and how it is very different than what I imagined when you were born.  Never in a million years did I realize how much you would need me over these past 19 years, and never in a million years did I realize how much I would need you.  Having you has brought me, and all of us, a different perspective on life....appreciating the little things, the things that many take for granted.  Those first years were sweet, then confusing, then sometimes really really difficult, but always always worth it.  Things have changed with you the most for me.  Early in your life I found myself setting my expectations for you low due to things I read, researched, had been told and my own inexperience in knowing how to parent you.  When you were little, I questioned my parenting and choices so much more than I did with the girls.  Was I doing anything right? Why did being "special" sometimes not feel so "special" in some of those really hard and confusing days, but mostly in how some people treated you, my darling little boy?  As you've grown and accomplished so much more than I ever would have even dreamed, I now question myself the least in parenting you. I still do find myself questioning society a lot.  I have wondered why people want you to conform and be "normal" or "like everyone else"?  Sometimes I even find myself falling into that trap of how "normal" is defined, and then I look at your face and those big soulful eyes and think about all the things that you do that "normal" people don't; and WOW OH WOW I'm grateful for what I've learned as your mother.  I wonder how many of us can remember every single person's birthday once they learned it the first time and have a calendar in their brain for total recall whenever needed.  I wonder how many of us do their "chores" without being asked and with the utmost gratitude and perfection and pride.  I wonder how many of us pick up after ourselves every never ever leave a mess.  I wonder how many of us can say they have never ever lost a sock in the laundry, and I'm not even kidding....NEVER LOST A SOCK!!!  What? I wonder how many of us have never felt the effect of peer pressure.  I wonder how many of us have never told a lie...ever, not even a white lie.  I wonder how many of us are not affected in the least bit by social media.  I wonder how many of us say what's really on our mind, like "Why is there no kissing in school?" or "Why doesn't Cal want to work this summer?  Why does Cal want to stay home and watch TV?" 😂 or "Why does daddy say you're a man, go in the man's bathroom?" 👀
I wonder how many of us are truly "what you see is what you get".  I wonder how many of us truly embrace our passions.  I wonder how many of us wholeheartedly love with complete and total uncondition.  I wonder how many of us get some of our greatest joy out of the littlest every day things like shaking someone's hand in church, or throwing a frisbee in the front yard, or taking out the trash for our neighbor.  I wonder how many of us are really living our best lives, truly the best life you have, because I know you are; and that, my boy, is one of the greatest gifts in the world to witness.  God doesn't make mistakes.  No matter some of the cruel things I've been told, or read, or seen, or overheard over the years; you are not a mistake.  In fact, I think you're closer to what God intended the human race to be like than most of us "normal" people....kind and loving and accepting and friendly (maybe a little overly friendly at times, hence the kissing in school 😚).  And who really wants to be "normal" when they can be like you?  Anyone who has taken the time to really know you has learned leaps and bounds about humanity, this I know for sure.  You are one of my greatest gifts, and I adore you my son.  We all do!  You are so adored and loved.
"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"  Dr. Seuss

Monday, May 21, 2018


Forgiveness School
quoted directly from Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker!

    Oh, it is so terrible, isn't it?  Just awful.  It is the one thing we don't want to give.  Maybe it helps to discuss what forgiveness is not first.   Let it be said:  forgiveness is not condoning evil, not forgetting, not brushing something under the carpet, not a free pass.  It does not mean minimizing the injury and, consequently, your pain.  It doesn't shrink an offense down, making it smaller in memory, in impact.  It doesn't shrug off loss with a "no real harm, no real foul" response.  It does not mean conceding, surrendering to a different version, or yielding your right to dignity.  It never communicates that this didn't happen, it didn't matter, or it didn't harm.
    Furthermore, it might not mean reconciliation.  Some breaches are restored and relationships mend, but some are not safe.  They may never be safe.  The other person may be entirely unsorry, and there is no path to harmony.  Forgiving chronic abusers does not include jumping back into the fire while it is still burning; that is not grace but foolishness.  Forgiveness operates in an entirely different lane than reconciliation; sometimes those roads converge and sometimes they never meet.  Forgiveness is a one-man show.  
    One last thing:  forgiveness rarely equals a one-and-done decision.  Very few decide one day to forgive and never have to revisit that release.  In most cases, it is a process that takes months and sometimes years of work, and just when you think you have laid an offense down, it creeps back up in memory and you have to battle it anew.  Just because this work is stubborn does not mean you are failing or will never be free.  Forgiveness is a long road in the same direction. 
    Do you ever get the impulse to hang on for dear life?  Like someone should stand guard over your injury, and if no one else will, you better?   Nurturing anger feels fair, a witness to injustice, like it might hold an open door for acknowledgment or forthcoming repentance or confirmation.  If you forgive, where is your justice?  Where is your apology?  How will this ever be made right?  Keeping an offender on the hook leaves room for judgment, which we want deferred for our own sins but rigorously applied to this inflicted on us.  
    But I've learned keeping someone on the hook really only keeps me on the hook.  In attempting to lock up an offender, I imprison myself, captive to anger, defensiveness, and pain, replaying a story that becomes a mental loop I cannot escape from, trapping other innocent relationships and scenarios in a toxic spiral that poisons everything.  I act out of woundedness instead of freedom, which makes me paranoid and suspicious, crushing everything Christlike and tender and creating a worse mess than I had in the first place.  God called us to a forgiving path, not only for a mended community but also for mended human hearts.  
    Brennan Manning wrote, 'This is the God of the gospel of grace.  A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin.  He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all.'  Jesus walked this sacred road first; we cannot claim His mercies without also claiming His practices.  We mustn't expect a resurrected life when we skip over the cost, the commission, the cross. 
    Back when I was nurturing my anger, I'd spend a good half day replaying, remembering words, conversations, correspondence.  I practiced comebacks and defensive maneuvers, poking holes in the other story like a State Champion debater.  I'd reread e-mails and talk through it all yet again with Brandon or whoever would listen, God bless and keep anyone near me during that season.  I expended a great deal of energy, getting worked up again, re-furious, re-hurt.  I mourned fresh an apology that was never coming.   If I was feeling it, I worked up some tears.  I tidied up the narrative a bit more, removing nuance and defining motives, leaving me cleaner and the offender dirtier than we actually were.  I imagined catastrophe befalling that person, which made me profoundly happy.  
    You know what that other persons likely did that day?  Ate a sandwich, answered some e-mails, had a meeting, returned some pants to the mall.  I was the only one paying the piper, spending energy and mental space not on healing but on imagined vindication.  What a waste!  That person was not on the hook in the slightest, but I sure was, day after day, month after month, disastrously, year after year.  I deferred my own peace, and the only loss was mine. 
   The work of forgiveness is so challenging---the actual work of it.  The naming, grieving, empathizing, releasing.  It's like a death.  A death of what we wanted, what we expected, what we'd hoped for, what we deserved and didn't receive. Burying those expectations, because they are indeed dead, is truly cause for grief.  Expect to feel profound loss as you put them six feet under.  Into the casket also goes control, exoneration, maybe even resolution.  Those don't belong to you.  We don't get to control other people or outcomes.  I am as devastated about this as you. 
    How to begin?  Oh heavenly mercies.  There isn't a template for this work, but I can tell you my early steps to forgiveness.  God was super clear:  Pray for this person every day, which was the meanest thing He ever said to me.  I was furious.  I think I even said something petulant to God like, 'The hell I will!' and He was all, 'Do it Potty Mouth.'  So my prayers started rather, well shallow:  Please don't let this person get hit by a car today.  Amen.  That was as far as I could go.  The anger around my heart was still stretched tight.  I was obedient to the letter of the law only.  
    But as that practice went on, something started to happen.  God loosened that old anger bit by bit, and the prayers gave way to deeper, more meaningful requests.  Mind you, the increments were small and took more time than I wanted to give, but I started thinking of that person as the kid they once were, whose story I knew included loss and abandonment.  God began showing me triggers I had ignited carelessly, tapping into lifelong wounds that set off a disproportional reaction.  Prayer awakened enough humility to own my contribution to the free fall, a difficult admission.  And would you believe after staying the course long enough, I developed a tenderness toward the person who hurt us, and it was sincere.  Prayer didn't heal the relationship, but it healed me. 
    God is still in the miracle business, and sometimes those miracles are in us. 
    While forgiveness might feel like abandoning justice, it actually sets us free.  It liberated us from the crushing responsibility to oversee the resolution, which may or may not ever come.  It removes any authority another person holds over our wholeness; it steals its power.  Surprisingly, it can even bring us to the point where we wish our offender well, where we desire his or her peace too.  It gently takes our minds and hearts and attention and brings them back to the present, to be with the ones who are here.  Forgiveness gives us back our life and gives us back to our life.  It is holy and hard work that says to God:  Here is this sad thing.  It is all Yours to fix or mend or redeem or simply bear witness.  I am praying my hands off and freeing them up for other work. 
    We bury what we wanted and accept what we have.  
    But then, new life.  Rising up from the grave, like tender little shoots.  So small as first.  So fragile.  But forgiveness clears the way for new growth, even if the other person is completely unrepentant.  We can still live.  We can still be vibrant.  We grow and develop and find beauty again, shoots of hope pushing up through the rubble.  And soon enough, when we nurture grace and release instead of anger and resentment, a bloom, an unfolding of life again. 
    Two quick words:  If the person who hurt you has a history of mainly healthy behavior, if they've  been mostly safe, by all means, press not only into forgiveness but reconciliation.  A broken relationship mended by forgiveness can be even stronger than it was before.  Henri Nouwen wrote, 'Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly.  The hard truth is that all people love poorly.  We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly.  That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.'  Confrontations, difficult conversations, these are hard, I know.  But better to prioritize a restored relationship than let it go down without a fight simply because we are conflict averse.  Earth is indeed Forgiveness School. 
   Second, forgiveness comes easier to people who regularly ask forgiveness themselves.  It is mature Christian practice to own our offenses and remain humble enough to apologize when we've wounded, intentionally or not.  This posture makes a tender people, a softer family with softer edges.  All of us love poorly at some point, and infusing our community with ownership and repentance is contagious. Say you're sorry.  Ask forgiveness.  This leads not only to stronger relationships but to better humans, and this world needs better humans.
    It is worth the work.  Beth Moore wrote on Twitter:  'God is raising you mighty and mighty doesn't come pretty.  Pay the price.'  The cost of forgiveness is high but the payoff is higher:  health, peace, wholeheartedness, grace.  It goes on:  resilience, maturity, compassion, depth.  God raises us back up mighty in love, through the pain, through the mess, stronger than before.  Forgiveness does not erase your past--a healed memory is not a deleted memory--but it does enlarge your future, increase your love, and set you free.
    It's worth it."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

She is beautiful,
but you really cannot comprehend it until you understand that she is the result of the pieces that she refused to let life take from her. 
JM Storm

I saw this quote today, and I was like....DING DING DING....the lightbulb went on for me.  I have thought this exact thing about many other women I love, who have had hard things, happen in their lives.  But I have never thought it about myself until I read it today, and I thought.....OH I GET IT NOW.....this applies to me too.  Funny how sometimes we can think that our sufferings or pains aren't as deep as others.  I've done that a lot of my life....while trying to get through something really hard.  I've kept it to myself, because I thought if I talked about it too much; it would become a burden to others.  There are some things that have happened that I have never told to another soul....never.  I've prayed about it and asked God to give me the nudge if I should.  I've felt close a few times, but I've never carried it out. I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to say some of those things out loud.  It's a fight for us all to keep those pieces, isn't it?  But today I read those words, and I saw myself as beautiful in a way that I never have before; and I think that's a start.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Unanswered Prayers

A few years ago, God told me to in....physically move.  Many things pointed me in that direction and somewhere along the way, I got the feeling if I wasn't obedient that some really trying times would come.  Well since I was the only person, in the family, who got the memo from God; we didn't matter how hard I tried to convince....we did get close though.  I prayed that He would put us all on the same path, but that didn't happen either.  The last few years have definitely had their trials, and almost halfway through 2018 hasn't proven any different.  The last few weeks have been some of the most challenging health wise for some of us....mentally, emotionally, physically.  One of my girls made the decision to try to address some of the things causing her such heartache.  Neil and I were so proud of the way she handled it...talking through things with people who were important to her in person, and then specifically to some people who really needed to hear what she had to say and why she was hurting.  For her, it was huge and mature and freeing.  She oftentimes always sees herself as a burden to people....making things worse for them, making their lives miserable, not being able to get it right with anyone.  No matter how much I try to tell her that it is not her responsibility to make someone else happy, and she should never let anyone control her happiness or unhappiness; we all know that can be really hard to do for some of us.  I told her, in all honestly, most people aren't even thinking about her but more about themselves.  Unfortunately she has seen this to be true as it manifested itself in the last few days.  Although there were apologies after she shared her heart, they didn't seem sincere as other things have come to light.  Although there were tears, they were not sorrowful but self serving.  At first I couldn't understand why she still seemed so sad.  Then she shared with me the truth of what had happened that night she shared her heart with so many, and although it made a positive impact for some; she knew things would not be different for a few...the few who it needed to be different for the most.
It's a hard lesson to learn, as a teen, as an adult, as a person...that not everyone has your best interest at heart.  It may not start out that way, but sometimes it ends up that way; and it's just hard.  Believe me, she isn't perfect...this girl of mine...she can be snarky and sassy and very very stubborn; but her heart is good through and through.  She would never intentionally cause pain to anyone....never.  Through these last few days, I've done a lot of thinking.  I haven't heard God tell me to move in quite a while, but things are still really challenging health wise, financially, job/school wise.  So I've started revisiting that idea again, but mostly I've been praying for God to give us all the same direction.  I'll admit that I pray for some things to go the way I want them to, and most of them haven't.  They're still on my heart, and sometimes I still say them out loud; but mostly now I pray for contentment and understanding and good state of mind and body.  I trust God....I've seen Him do too many good things with "unanswered prayers".  I know He knows what He's's all the people in the world (oftentimes including me) who don't.  I feel some change coming.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

This Is Enough!

Lots of things going on in the last few months....some good, some not.  Sunday was a pivotal time for one of my kids.  It was a time for reconciliation and addressing some feelings.  It wasn't easy, but it was valuable and worth it for my child and some others.  I have struggled with self image for as long as I can remember.  I've spent a good part of my life concerned with how other people view me, and many wasted hours wondering "what I did wrong", when in fact I did nothing wrong.  I've let my imagination conjure up all sorts of scenarios.  I've read too much into things.  I've definitely over thought some things, but most of all I've just wasted a lot of time.  Sunday night, Neil told my child that he had made the decision a long time ago not to concern himself with what others thought of him.  He said, it was one of the best decisions of his life.  I have another friend who has the same mindset, and she is so so strong.  I've been reading Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker, and today I read Chapter 15.  It described a lot of what I've been feeling, and I think a lot of it is due to the things I was mentioning above.

Author's note: "This essay does not apply to serious trauma or depression. The doldrums are a funk, not a severe crisis. Sometimes we require therapy, intervention, and possibly medication and the practices I describe are inadequate. 
a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression.
"the mortgage market has been in the doldrums for three years"
synonyms: depression, melancholy, gloom, gloominess, downheartedness, dejection, despondency, low spirits, despair; More
an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds." Then she says this, and I find this the truest statement of statements I've heard in a long time. "Here is the bummer about doldrums: the very efforts needed to lift yourself out are the same things you've lost energy to do. The simplest remedies feel like weights drudged up from the bottom of the ocean. Your mind knows to do them, but your will refuses to cooperate. Which makes your mind furious and mired in shame, which makes your will dig its heels and wallow, which makes you realize you are turning on yourself. You are your own worst enemy. No one can oppress me like myself. How did I get out of this funk? Nothing miraculous happened, except one day I said, 'This is enough.' Virtually nothing changed that day. Or the next. These things aren't overnight success stories, because if it took three months and 459 lazy, unhealthy choices to get stuck, it takes some time to climb out....I wish I had better news about breaking free, but apparently we just have to grab a shovel and start digging." 

After thinking about this most of today, I've decided that I'm going to put in 100% effort to figure out how to do what I think is best.  Not because of what other people think or tell me, but because of what I think is best.  I'm not going to continue to allow people talk down to me, directly or passively aggressively.  I'm not going to allow people to discredit my efforts as a mother, wife, person, christian, friend.  I'm not going to feel badly about things I choose to do that I have chosen to do for a good reason.  I realize that a lot of the things (I think people may think or the way they react are all in my head), so I'm also going to do my best not to worry about it and remember that most people are too wrapped up in their own business to care that much about mine.  THIS IS ENOUGH!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Life Is Good

My life is good.  I tell myself that every day, not because I don't believe it, but because I do.  I have trials and struggles, and some are really hard sometimes; but my life is good.  Sometimes I am surprised at how good it is.  I think about myself 31 years ago, and the pit I was in.  I think about how I had absolutely no idea what was to come, how good it was going to be; and also how hard it was going to be.  I had no idea...none!  I remember when Neil and I were newlyweds, his sister asked me if I wanted to come to a psychic party; and I said "ABSOLUTELY NOT!"  I knew that if the psychic told me something, and it didn't come true; I would try to force it.  I also knew I would just live my life in a state of waiting. I use to be really superstitious before my faith and trust in Jesus grew to where it is today.  I still fall away and oftentimes try to take control, but then I remind myself that my life is good; and that's not because of me but because of Him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hold On!

Through our toughest times, we can feel the most alone.  Sometimes we can lose site of, friends, even God.  Two of my kids have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  My oldest daughter shares her story here.  It's a beautiful story of rebirth and healing.  Her darkest days were some of mine.  I remember falling on my knees one day pleading with God to heal her and help her find herself again.  It was the only time in my life that I fully relinquished control to Him, because I finally figured out that I had none.  It was terrifying and a great relief at the same time.  I remember praying and telling God to take it and to see us all through it....whatever that may look like.  From the moment I realized how serious her battle was, Jesus told me that He would bring something good from her story.  I have clung to that every minute of every day.  Of course since then, I have started pulling the reigns once again on the freedom God gives when we fully trust Him....yes I want to know everything is going to be alright, so I grasp for control again.  It really doesn't make things easier or better, just makes me worry more.  I  battle a looming feeling that can try to steal my joy, and it takes a conscious effort to fight through it.  Although I have felt very very alone at times, I know now that I have never been and will never be alone.  I learned that during the times you're the most vulnerable, frightened, numb;  you'll learn who will stick with you and who won't.  Oftentimes people judge and even abandon....those you think you can count on, and that makes things that much more confusing.  Maybe it's for their own self preservation or insecurities or pain,  maybe it's because they just weren't who you thought they were, maybe it's because they weren't meant to be in your life; or maybe it's because you put too much trust in a person instead of in the saving grace and mercy of Our Savior.  One truth that can be very very hard to hold onto, when you're facing the darkness, is that God never abandons you.   He walks beside you, He feels your pain, He uses your story for good, He loves you.  My prayer for all, who might not feel His presence in your biggest pits of life, is that you will hold on until you do.  Just hold on.  Jesus Loves You!! I love you!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Be What You Want

I haven't been feeling in my brain....and I've been trying to be really intentional and gentle and patient and merciful.  Sometimes being sick is a reminder that those things are important, because one day you won't be able to be anything at all; so be what you want to be while you can.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Be An Encourager

Man a lot has happened in the last few weeks, some of it has broken my heart; but some of it has opened my eyes wide.  One thing I know is that surrounding yourself with encouragers makes a world of difference.  I witnessed this first hand when Drew and I were in Costa Rica a few weeks ago.  She has one of the best friends in the world, Reagan.  They have been friends since they met in our church nursery when they were 4.  They have never been anything but so so good to each other.  That entire week, I saw Drew laugh and smile; and I remembered how good it feels to have someone encourage you.  Today Drew got a job as a caregiver in our church nursery, and Reagan is applying too.....the place they first became friends.  The whole time Drew and I were talking about them working together again (they were counselors at camp a few summers ago), she smiled.  We laughed at stories of their friendship, and I felt a happiness that I haven't felt in a long time.  I decided that one of the things I need to be better at is being an encourager.  I use to be really really good at it, but lately I haven't been as great at it.  But today, I'm going to try harder.  Encouraging people is so so good for them, and it's so so good for me. I'm grateful God reminded me of this once again.