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Raw and Real

Week in Review

November 7, 2016
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This past week was full of all kinds of interesting events.

Monday was Halloween – there is an outside Mall about five minutes from us called Kent Station. Ben was dressed as a Super Hero and we were dressed as his parents. We walked all around Kent Station, by the end he had it down pretty well. Walk into store, smile at clerk, say “Treat” and circle back to the parent closest at hand. It sprinkled off and on but it was mostly fun! He had so much candy his bucket was overflowing the dad unit took and handful of candy and stuffed it in his pocket! What a helpful dad!

Tuesday we met with our Life Insurance Agent. Tim has had life insurance since 2001, but after Ben was born we decided to upgrade the policy to include myself and our son. One evening in December of 2014 a gentleman came and we signed all the papers. I learned something this Tuesday night that I didn’t know about the previous visit 2 years prior. During the first visit I was so freaked out at the thought of my husband dying and me having to handle everything I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t remember anything we were told or what to do if I needed too. Secondly they gave us this child kidnapping kit which took me to whole other level of crazy. But this was back in the days of me smiling and pretending like I was fine even though I absolutely wasn’t. This past week, I learned so much because my brain wasn’t in trauma mode it was in “I need to know what to do for my family” mode. Which let me tell you is a much better place to be.

Wednesday was fun, big giant fun. Ben and I met some friends and we went to Disney on Ice! I bought Ben a pair of binoculars that he insisted on looking through backwards! This made me laugh every single time he did it. The show started with the Toy Story soldiers! Such big giant fun. When Woody came on the ice my son kept jumping up and down and yelling, “Woody!! Woody!!” Oh so fun!

Thursday was about people. We met a friend for breakfast, a friend came to us for lunch, and we cooked a fancy dinner for the daddy. It is always good to spend time with others. I gain a better perspective on myself, on my friends, and on the world in general.

Friday was date night for the parents and play date night for Ben and a friend! You know how you suddenly realize you need a break from your life. I have the privilege of staying home with Ben all day, every day. But this week I needed to get out of the house with just the Big Man! We dropped the son unit off at our friends house. They have a daughter who is 15 months old, so Ben gets to be the “big” boy. I sat down on the couch to visit with the mom for a few minutes. Ben came over, stood right in front of me, waved and said, “Bye Mom.” Well okay then. We left them to it and headed out to the movies. Some nights are just more fun than other nights, this was one of those nights. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, we had excellent conversation, and we were reminded yet again why we picked each other to build this life together.

Saturday was big and heavy. We had a family meeting scheduled to discuss care for an older family member. It had taken 3 ½ weeks to make this meeting happen, but it was worth it. We had some honest conversation, we talked about what each of us had been observing. But most importantly we made a plan to move forward together. It was such a relief. The faithfulness of God and loving others really can make a difference. What potentially could have been a very awkward and difficult evening was instead encouraging and helpful.

Sunday was church. After church Tim wanted to go by a sporting goods shop. He wanted to buy some catchers shin guards. This did not make sense to me as he is not interested in sports in any way shape or form. He explained they were for work and they helped his knees. Oh by all means, let’s go. As we were walking around the shop, Ben picked up a very small baseball mitt and began running around with it. Tim and I looked at each other – shocked. How did this kid know what to do with this? We have never watched baseball, yet he knew exactly what to do with it. We both agreed we needed to buy it for him. Ben was so excited! He held the glove the whole way home.

So what is the point? Why tell you about each of these different things? We all live such vast and varying lives. It is so easy to look at your own life and think all I do it go to work and come home. Yet I bet that isn’t true. I bet you have phone conversations with family, I bet you encourage a co-worker at work. I would encourage you to glance back at your week in review. Maybe you will find a blessing you missed. Or maybe you will see all the interesting pieces in your life in a way that you haven’t seen before.

From my life to yours – it is worth doing well. Just one day at a time. Today matters.

Raw and Real

Hill Slipping

October 28, 2016
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Last Thursday I had the privilege of taking our family car into the mechanics. We just bought this vehicle about 2 months ago but the head lights were acting up. Whenever my husband drove it things were fine. Whenever I drove it the passenger headlight would flicker in and out. One morning it was really foggy here and it was tricky driving without the headlight. So I convinced my husband that it needed to be addressed.

My two year old loves going to the mechanics because they have a train table and all kinds of old toys. It is usually a two hour minimum stay with usually a two hundred dollar minimum bill. So I settled in for the morning.

We arrived at 9:00 am, Ben immediately began playing and I settled in with a book I had just downloaded. Around 10 Ben wanted a snack so we dug for some quarters and twisted the dial of the M&M dispenser. He and I did a few puzzles together and then he was ready to play alone again. I continued to read.

Around 11 am I had Ben pick up all the toys hoping that we would be going home soon. As the last few toys were being placed in the toy box, the manager of the shop came over and sat down next to me. We have been going to these mechanics for several years. When they come over to talk with you it means that the car has a bit more wrong with it then originally thought. I braced myself for what he was about to say.

While the car had been off they were turning the lights on and off and retesting them and the battery was lower than it should be. They wanted to take the battery out and do a few tests on it to see why that was happening.

Sure, of course. Having a dead battery with a two year old and pouring down rain is never fun. This is why we come to these guys, they take really good care of us and usually only do what is needed, usually.

They offered us donuts from the break room as now it was lunch time and I hadn’t come prepared for that! Been had a bear claw and I enjoy a very cheesy cheese danish. (I can honestly tell you it was the best cheese danish I have ever had!) While we are finishing our pastries the assistant manager came out this time. He sat down, my heart began sinking.

It seems that there was water on the battery and that was what was making it act faulty, so the good news was the battery was fine, but the alternator was not. The alternator needed to be changed out immediately. They called my husband to tell him, I asked for the phone. I asked Tim to bring us McDonalds for lunch.

Ben settled into setting up the train station again, I continued to read my book. I am so thankful I had impulsively downloaded it the day before. Tim arrived with our lunch but had to run as he was still working. As Ben and I were finishing our lunch the assistant came out and sat down. I want to yell, roll my eyes, and curl up into a fetal position all at once. But thankfully he has good news, everything has been put back together, he points out to the parking lot, and there is our car ready to go! I just have to pay whenever we are ready to go.

We finish our lunch and I head up to pay. It was very expensive, disappointingly so, but what can you do? I watched the credit card slide and signed to have our nearly paid off credit card be exceedingly full again.

Ben and I loaded into our car. The sun was shining which was a bit remarkable as it had been raining for four days straight.

The original plan to the day was to go to the mechanics and then head over to the mall to return some items and have lunch at the mall and play at the play place there. Do I go to the mall or do I go home? It is 1:30 pm now, and we were just leaving the mechanics. Instead of being there for 2 hours we had been there for 4 ½!

I decided to just do it, most of the day had already been eaten up let’s just get one more errand out of the way, it would free up Friday more. We headed out. The gas tank was on empty. Of course it was!

I can feel myself slipping. Sliding down that hill of “Of course this has turned into a terrible, horrible, very bad day!” This never plays out well when I let myself slide down this hill. The gas station is just a few blocks away, we pull in, it is crazy busy, there is one slot. I pull up. The wind is cold and whipping. I am paying and pushing all the right buttons. The nozzle is removed from the holder and wait for it . . . it won’t reach! Are you kidding me?! I have to put the nozzle back, I pull the car forward and yes, you guessed it I had to start the whole transaction over.

Slipping slipping slipping. The car gets filled up. We head out again. As we drive the next 10 minutes to our destination I begin a conversation with myself. I remind myself how thankful I am that we were not on the side of the road needing to be towed because the car wouldn’t go. I was speeding along at 50 mph and yes it had been an expensive morning, but I was on my way to get some money back for a different purchase and the husband unit already knew so it wasn’t like I had to go home and break the news to him about how much the whole day was costing us.

We pulled into the parking lot of the mall. In my mind I was standing on top of the hill again, I had managed to not slip down any further. I put the car into park and turned around to find my son fast asleep in his car seat.

Now the debate: is it more important to wake up my son and return these items or should I just turn around and drive home? I decide we are here, let’s do it, he can sleep on the way home.

With a cheerful yet groggy side kick, I head into the mall. The returns were simple and painless. The little ice cream truck outside of the store was even driven by Ben for a few minutes. We climb back into the car, thankful yet again that the sun is still shining.

I decided to go home a different way than normal as there was no rush for us to get home and I was hoping that Ben would fall back asleep. I will save you all the gory details, but let’s just say I got lost, had to turn around twice and little man NEVER even nodded off once. 30 minutes later we were on one of our normal familiar streets we had one more big intersection to get through and nobody was moving.

We have traffic in our town, but not like this. Something was wrong. I thought about other routes to get home, but they all involved this intersection up ahead. Slide down the hill or embrace it? We chose to embrace it. As I leaned out my window I could see there were several fire trucks ahead in the turning lane. Ben is obsessed with fire trucks right now. We rolled down all the windows, opened the sun roof and creeped along the road. Eventually we were side by side the accident. Most of it had been cleaned up but it had involved a city bus and a truck that was spun the wrong direction. Ben and I said a prayer for the people who may have been affected by the chaos of this accident. Finally we were at the front of the line, the light turned green and home was truly within our sites.

We pulled into our driveway at 3:30 pm. Tim came out to meet us.  He was already in his comfortable relax clothes which meant he had been home for a while. We sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, I explained about the car ride home, and how Ben never did take a nap.

I then, excused myself and said I needed a break, I put on my comfortable clothes and climbed into bed. I didn’t sleep but I did recount the whole day in my head. I realized a major victory had been won today. I had not allowed my circumstances to dictate how I felt. For some of you maybe you can do this all the time, but for some of us, it is really really hard. But today something had shifted inside of me. I truly was able to relax for a few minutes and just revel in the fact that this day could have gone so many different ways, but instead it had gone the way it had. The two things I had really needed to get done for my family had gotten done, just not in the way I had planned or anticipated.

Normally I ask you a question or try to challenge you in some way. Today I just want to encourage you. The next time you feel yourself slipping down the hill. Give yourself a minute. Take a breath and remember you are not alone. Think of this post, think of my story and know, we all have days like this, we all have days that cause us to make a choice. You have a friend who actually was able to make the right choice, so maybe you can too!

Raw and Real

Believe in your Greatness

October 20, 2016
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We have had the flu in our house this week. When sickness strikes we watch TV. I completely abandon the two hour limit of Ben’s and together we alternate between his shows and my shows.

Yesterday we watched several episodes of Chopped and a relatively new show called This Is Us. Even though these shows are completely unrelated there was a definite theme within them.

On Chopped there was a NY chef who constantly talked about how harsh his father was on him and how he was constantly trying to prove he had what it took to be a chef. Mind you, he was already a successful chef in New York. He ran his own restaurant, yet here he was on Chopped trying to prove even more.

He ended up winning the whole thing. He never was chopped. One of the judges said to him, “You are better than you give yourself credit for. We are here telling you, you are a great chef, you need to hear that and own that. That is the truth.” The guy smiled and nodded his head. At the end of the show, in his final interview, the chef says, “Maybe I can now believe what the judges were saying. I want to have more confidence, maybe now I have it.” This was the first time he didn’t mention his father and the unrealistic expectations he grew up under.

This whole episode unsettled me somehow. I had an amazing father and I didn’t have the issues this chef had. Yet maybe I do but for totally different reasons.

A few hours later daddy was home and we watched This Is Us. I don’t usually promote shows but y’all, this is a great show. If you liked Parenthood, I think you will like this one more. I do.

I won’t weigh you down with all the different plots and families, but  only the daughter. Her name is Kate. She is 36 years old and very over weight. She has met this really nice guy who truly loves her for her. He is always doing really sweet things to let her know that he thinks she is amazing and lovely. He also tells her quite frequently, yet she always down plays what he says.

Then through a series of misfit events she has had an impromptu job interview with a very stylish, thin business woman. The business woman is so impressed with her, she offers Kate the job. There is a small glich in the story. The guy who likes Kate so much, this stylish business woman is his ex-wife.

Now to the scene I want to talk about. Kate is telling her boyfriend what she has done, and who offered her the job. He comes unglued. He explains all the reasons he and his ex-wife are divorced. He tells her she can’t keep the job. This is Kate’s response, “But she said I was amazing, and don’t you want me to work for someone who thinks I am amazing?”

The boyfriend responds with, “I can’t believe you will take what a stranger will say to you over what I have been saying to you!” Kate looks perplexed. He continues, “I have been telling you, you are amazing but you always down play it or push me off. What is wrong with you?” Kate responds with “I don’t know.”

What do these two scenes have in common? The NY chef and Kate could not see themselves the way everyone else saw them. The saw themselves for who others told them they were, yet those “others” were from the past and not in their current lives.

Side Note: Now please hear me, I am not down playing an abusive situation or an emotionally hurtful situation. It is real and it is painful and I do not want to minimize it in any way.

Back to the show comparisons: One person was real and one person was fictional, yet the fictional character mirrored what I do, and what so many of us do. We dwell on our short comings and not on our strengths. I dwell on how I felt in high school, instead of how I feel right now in my life.

Several years ago I made a very conscious effort to hear the people in my life. I made an effort to hear what they were saying to me. They were saying things like: “You are strong.” Or “You are brave.” Another “You have so much faith.” I can honestly tell you I did not FEEL strong, or brave or like my faith even existed but I went with it. When a situation would arise where fear wanted to paralyze me I would pull up that very recent conversation of my friend telling me I was brave, and in that moment I would chose to believe it.

Some of us allow the wrong voices in our heads to speak the most. What voice are you listening to? Are you listening to the voice of Truth or a voice of the past? The Apostle Paul understood this battle in 2 Corinthians 10:5 he wrote, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I used to view this verse as one more thing I had to do to be a good Christian, but now I see it as freedom for me. Christ wants me to live in the redeemed, renewed life of today, not in the fragmented sins of the past.

So what about you? What are the messages from your past that you give more credence too than the truth of the present? The challenge for today is think about it. Go to the place we never want to go. Go to the core of who you really are and decide what you are going to build. Are you going to build today on the truth of who you are, or are you going to build it on the past of who were? You do have a choice. Choose life and truth and believe in your greatness!

Raw and Real

#DoTheNextThing

October 10, 2016
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Do the next thing.

Sometimes you hear a statement and it means nothing to you. Other times you hear a statement and it is absolutely pivotal for that moment.

Last Sunday night three friends and I attended a Casting Crowns concert. If you are not familiar with their music, I think you are missing out. We all were incredibly blessed by their music, their stories, and their words. But in typical concert fashion there were two acts before them.

The first act was a young woman named Hannah. She sang two or three songs that she had written. The songs were unfamiliar to me, but interesting none the less.

On her last song she asked each of us to get out our phones and turn it to flashlight mode. Throughout the entire auditorium a relatively dark place had become bright. Her song was “Let your light shine brighter.”

As I sat there I thought, “I am one person holding a phone – my light makes a difference.” For the giant question in my soul this was a very important thought. For the last two weeks I had been asking myself, “Why I am choosing to write on the blog? Why do it?” The first answer I received was this moment. My words, my little web page is like a tiny light in this dark world. Just as my phone is small and doesn’t seem to make a huge difference its light does make a small difference. That was encouraging to understand.

The next act was Matt Maher, who I absolutely love. His words make me think and his music makes me happy. His last song had this line in it. “This is the next day of the rest of your life.” Such a great reminder that every morning is a new morning and a fresh start. And again coming back to the blog, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t written for a few weeks. I knew I was supposed to be writing and tomorrow was a fresh start.

Casting Crown took the stage! And they had a ginormous jumbo-tron screen. Even I could read the words way in the back. It had  #DoTheVeryNextThing plastered across the front of it. This was there theme and message. Wherever you are in life, whatever you are doing in your life, Do The Very Next Thing!

This rang through my soul. Two years ago I went to a conference and that was the message I had walked away with. Do the very next thing. Could it be that simple? Yes it could.

Lyrics: Call me out to deeper water but I keep staying in the shallow end, I am settled on the shallow end.

What if I gave everything?

Ask yourself that question, “What if I gave everything?” Does it make your heart thump in your chest way down deep? It does for me. I wasn’t even sure what was holding me back from writing, but after hearing this line, I knew it didn’t even matter. I just needed to be writing.

Then these words in relation to my relationship with God: So good bye to standing here there’s something we’re all holding behind our backs. What should I trust you with?

What should I trust you with? God are you trust worthy? Yes. I trust you with my words. I will not hold them behind my back and will entrust them to you. I will hold them out for all to see.

One of my favorite songs of all time, was yet again a beautiful reminder. “A vapor in the wind, catch me when I am falling.” This song took me back to the first time I heard Casting Crowns. I was single. I had taken a whole year and purposely made ten new friends. I felt so stuck in that season of my life, but I just kept purposing to do the next thing. And I did. I loved the irony and humor in it all.

Here I am almost ten years later with an utterly different life and yet the message is still the same. Do the very next right thing.

So what about you friend? What is your very next right thing you are to be doing? What if you gave everything to God? Can you trust him with it? Only you and He can answer that.

What is your small light that you can shine? Don’t believe the lie that it is insignificant, you and your light are utterly significant.

Raw and Real

A Couples Date or Not?

October 6, 2016
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My husband and I love each other very much, but we have vastly different interests. For the first few years of our marriage, I tried to convince him to do things with me like go to the symphony, or a musical, or a concert, but it just didn’t happen. In 2016 I decided to go by myself or with other people.

We live just outside of Seattle and have a low level hockey arena in our town, this means that often this venue is used to host concerts and other fun events. I have been making a point to look every few months at what is coming. This summer I saw that Casting Crowns was coming to Kent! Casting Crowns is one of my favorite bands. Tickets were $25 a piece! This was a steal of a deal.

I asked my friend if she and her husband would like to go, they responded with an immediate YES! I asked my husband if he wanted to go, with every anticipation that his answer would be a no. He said that he would go and we could make it a double date. I bought the tickets, marked the calendar, and the days tick off.

Two weeks from the concert my husband says, “What is this concert on the 1st of October? I did not agree to go to this.” For several days we go round and round about it, not in an angry sort of way, but in a giggly “I did ask you” kind of way. Two nights before the concert our babysitter has to cancel because of some extenuating circumstances in her life. I get off the phone with her and tell my husband. Before the period to the last sentence has found its place he says, “I will stay home with the boy and you can find someone else to go to the concert!” I am shocked at how quickly this comes out of his face.

He really didn’t want to go and I really did, so I went with it. I went to bed with different people possibilities rolling around in my mind not angry at all at my husband. Saturday morning I got up and watched a few Casting Crown videos on Youtube, praying about who would benefit the most from this extra ticket.

A name came to mind. She and I had recently connected at her house about 10 days ago. I texted her and waited . . . a few minutes later I received the answer, she would love to come! So on Sunday night we headed out as a group of friends instead of two couples on date night.

The concert was amazing I will write about it on Monday, but I learned a very valuable lesson in the midst of all the pre-ness of this, “I can enjoy what I enjoy the most. And my husband can enjoy what he enjoys the most. We don’t have to do everything together.”

Marriage is such an interesting endeavor. It provides many opportunities for you to choose how you are going to respond. Honestly I wanted to choose to be upset and frustrated with my husband. But why? He loves shooting guns and I don’t. He doesn’t expect me to go to the shooting range, I shouldn’t expect him to go to concerts with me. But it was supposed to be a double date! Well actually no it wasn’t. What we think is and what actually is, aren’t always the same thing. Most of the time they aren’t the same thing.

So what about you? What in your life did you think in your life should be a certain way but actually isn’t? Is it working to always be frustrated by it? What is the good that is already happening either in that situation or instead of that situation?

Instead of dragging my husband to something he may or may not have enjoyed, I had the privilege of inviting a new friend that was greatly encouraged by the whole evening, and we had some lovely conversation throughout the evening. The concert went until 11 pm, which I hadn’t realized would be the case. My husband goes to be at 8:30 pm because he has to get up at the 3 am. I was telling me friends that he would have wanted to go home at the 9:30 intermission. The last hour of any concert is the best part! Right? Instead of my husband and I being frustrated with each other, he was home in bed and I was having my soul fed in a way it hadn’t been fed in a really long time.

Raw and Real

Exposure

August 2, 2016
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I feel exposed.

The other day we were watching something on TV and it was a bit dated. The camera was grabbed from the camera man and he flipped the back open. The owner of the camera was yelling, “Not the film, don’t expose the film!” But the mercenary wasn’t heading his advice and began yanking the film roll from the camera strip by strip.

This is how I feel. My internal camera roll is being exposed to the light and pulled out strip by handful strip.

Marriage is work. You hear that and think you understand that, but until you are in the midst of it, doing it, you don’t really get it. At least I didn’t. My husband and I had the privilege of going on vacation for an entire week. We had the best time, just the two of us. We laughed, we enjoyed, we ate fancy food, we relaxed. But then it was time to come home.

Several months ago we signed up for marriage mentoring at church. It was a process like anything is. First we met with the connection couple. This couple introduces the program to you, explained what was going to take place, and set us up to take a marriage inventory. Both Tim and I took the inventory separately. 250 questions later our results were sent to the couple that is going to mentor us.

Right before we left for our vacation we met with our mentoring couple. A week after we got back we met with them again. During the second meeting we were given the “results” of our inventory, this is when the real exposure began.

I didn’t know I was hiding. I didn’t know I was completely stressed out all the time. I didn’t know that my health really does factor into almost every decision that I make. But here it was in black and white in front of me, computer generated by my own answers. Hurumph.

What do you do when you feel utterly exposed? What is the right response?

My husband and I had a date yesterday. We went to a movie and then sat in Panera Bread talking. I was trying to explain to him this idea of feeling exposed and why it felt so alarming to me.

I am so thankful for the husband that God has given to me. I waited 20 years for this guy and let me tell you, it was absolutely worth it.

Through our conversation we used some of the tools the mentors have been teaching us. We made a real effort to answer questions honestly, listening and repeating back what was said, and then agreeing on how to move forward.

It was hard. I cried. I felt overly exposed, but thankfully I am not a camera. Exposure doesn’t ruin the beautiful life I have, it makes it brighter. It makes it clearer. It makes it lovelier than it was before.

Because of the exposure we made some decisions yesterday. One of the decisions that we made was that I am going to blog once a week instead of twice. I have some ideas I want to do on the site but I haven’t been able to find time to implement yet. So for a short time, I will only be here once a week.

Another decision that we made was to make our marriage the focus of August. Any decision that we make needs to filter through the question of “Is this making my marriage a priority?” I’ll keep you posted on how this is going. Exposure can bring beautiful clarity sometimes.

Have you ever felt exposed? Have you ever been paralyzed by the brightness being shined down to the deepest core of you? If you have I want to encourage you not to embrace the light. Let the light expose you. Let the light make you a better person than you currently are.

Essentialism, Raw and Real

The Wisdom of White

July 14, 2016
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For the past week, I have been missing in action. I began a project that became all consuming. I began painting the inside of my house. I have never done this before. I have painted a wall or the inside of a closet, but never the inside of a house while three people are still living in it!

I painted the dining room, the living room, the hallway which has been nicknamed the black hole, and the entry way. What color you may ask? White. Bright Bright White! And it is awesome.

Why paint right now? It is summer here in the Pacific Northwest and a bit dryer than normal. If you have a house project you want to do it in the summer. Also I am doing a self-study course called the Cozy Minimalist, which I will write about another time.

At first I wanted to just paint the living room, but then as my husband and I got talking we realized that the way our house is built, one room naturally leads into the other and it would look odd to have the middle section painted without the rest so I dove in, head first.

It has been a long time since I have tackled a project this hard and with this much tenacity. Every day I spent a few focused hours with my two year old and then I would paint and paint and paint. I also would get up really really early or stay up really really late to get in a few more hours of uninterrupted time of painting.

While I painted I prayed for my people. My church friends; my family close and far away; friends that I haven’t spoken with in a really long time. As nicotine beige walls became bright white walls I prayed for this house. I prayed for good things to happen in this house. I prayed that anyone who entered this house would be blessed.

At church this month we have been challenged to read a Proverbs everyday as there are 31 days in July and there are 31 chapters in Proverbs. I was going to challenge you to do the same thing. The other day I was catching up on the Proverbs I had missed as painting was my all-consuming activity. I was reminded of this gem.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESVUK)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

This was the very first verse I memorized as a little kid. I was 4 and had just started Kindergarten. I have a really clear memory of standing in my kitchen saying this verse to my mom and asking her questions about it. I remember I liked the sing songy ness of it. I remember that I knew what heart meant, because I had one. I knew what it meant to lean on something. Understanding is what you do when you obey. The first part of verse 6 was a bit challenging for a 4 year old, but I definitely knew what a straight path was.

Can you guess? I am a visual thinker. I imagine what I read and if I can’t imagine it, I have a hard time holding on to it.

For many years I thought Proverbs 3:5-6 was going to lead me places. I didn’t understand I had to put things in motion. I remember around 7th grade that verse came up again and it was explained to me by using another verse.

Psalm 119:105 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

Back in Biblical times if people had to travel at night they literally wore a lamp on each foot. As they took a step it would light the next step. So they literally could only see one step ahead of them at a time.

As the hours of painting rolled by I thought about those lamp lit sandals. This is so how life is isn’t it? My husband and I have been talking about painting for years, but it wasn’t’ until I cleaned out the room that we were actually able to see that now was the time.

I don’t know what the next few months are going to hold, but I do know that I just spent the last 7 days of my life praying and painting. I feel very covered and ready for whatever is ahead.

What about you? What comes to your mind as you read Proverbs 3? Have you been acknowledging him? Or have you convinced yourself it is just easier not to look or trust. Friend today is a day worth trusting. Today is a day worth acknowledging. Invite the God of Proverbs into your life. Invite the God of Proverbs into your situation and see what kind of wisdom he will give you or what kind of light he will illuminate for you.

Listening, Raw and Real

Listening To Your Life – Part 2

June 16, 2016
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Listening to your life continued . . .

Last post we begun the conversation with thinking about how your life speaks. What are the things that you will be willing to swipe your calendar for, just to make room?

The answer for me was and is people. Here are a few more personal examples:

Our really good couple friends moved to Jacksonville, Arkansas. Jacksonville is really far away from Seattle. My mom taught me through example that when someone is too far away you send them packages. My mom sent me packages all through college and even when I was living overseas the first time.

Tim and I had won a box full of baby dolls at a church auction recently. As we were driving home, I said, “What are we going to do with all of these baby dolls?” Without missing a beat he said, “We are going to wait until the Booth’s leave and we are going to send them to baby girl Booth in Arkansas!”

That is exactly what we did. The box we sent contained three dolls, pretend baby food, a dolly stroller, a dolly carrier, playdough, playdough mats, an airplane, other boy type things for our little buddy to share with his sister.

Time, energy, resources, were all necessary to collect everything, pack everything, re-pack everything because the husband unit thought of some more fun things to add to the mix, tapping, address hunting and then mailing. The mailing was the longest part. It took 7 days for it to arrive. They could hardly wait and we could hardly wait. Some sweet texts were exchanged back and forth when the box arrived in Arkansas. People matter.

Last Friday my head was in a terrible place. I had had a really productive morning but by 9 am I was battling thoughts of uselessness and depression. I knew it seems ridiculous but I couldn’t fight it. I was standing in my kitchen feeling overwhelmed by the smallest pile of dishes you have ever seen and thought, “If I were talking to a friend who was in a similar situation what would I tell her? I would tell her to call a friend and ask for help.”

So I did. I called a friend in California who had been on my mind for weeks. She is the type of friend who I barely have to explain myself too and she can gets it. I knew she would listen to my frustrations and hold them kindly and honestly.

I called. She answered. I immediately jumped into it. “I know I have a great life. But I am home with a little boy who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of peeing in a toilet. I feel insignificant and sad. I miss my days of working and can’t be alone in my head anymore. That is why I am calling you.”

Deep breath.

Pause.

I hear sniffing on the other end of the line. My friend tearfully says, “How did you know? How did you know that is exactly how I feel too?” Shocked silence. I didn’t know. But God did.

This woman is my soul sister. There is 10 years between us chronologically but we swear we were separated at birth, for how our lives run so parallel. She wasn’t dealing with a potty-training-toddler at home. But she was dealing with coming-home-early-from-a-vacation-and-having-to-go-straight-to-bed-for-a-month because she has a weird virus that wouldn’t go away.

We spent the next two hours catching up. Such similar stories! We shouldn’t be surprised but we were! We decided we needed to talk every two weeks because we needed each other. We needed our sisterhood to help us process our lives.

I gave her kind words for where she is in her life. She gave me kind words for where I am in my life. As a result we each hung up the phone feeling more positive, encouraged, and ready to head into the rest of our day with our heads up and our hearts open.

So what about you? What is your life saying to you? Are you so busy that there is so much noise you can’t even hear what your life is saying?

Over the next 24 hours if your dearest friend in life showed up at your door, what would she have to say about your life? What positive things would she encourage you about? Which activities would she question? Think of her asking, “Are these your best activities? Or are you just getting by?”

God did not design us to just get by.

Pause. Take a breath. Ask a trusted friend.

What is your life saying?

Listen patiently for the answer.

One final example that relates to picture at the top of this post. This past weekend we spent the day at my in-laws house. We love them dearly but there house is really busy. Ben needed a nap. I knew he would go to sleep faster if I laid down with him. As I was laying there next to him in the bed, with his small chest heaving up and down with content sleep running through him I thought, “This is a life worth listening to!”

Slowing down and listening to your life allows you to enjoy the quiet moments of a peaceful sleeping baby who is almost a full grown boy.

Pause and listen.

Listening, Raw and Real

Listening To Your Life Part 1

June 13, 2016
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Did you know that your life speaks? I had heard of this concept but it had been a while since I sat back and truly listened to my life.

For the past two weeks I have really been making an effort to listen to mine. What are the things that I do without blinking an eye? What are the things that I leap out of bed for in the morning? I discovered a very deep truth about myself.

People matter a great deal to me. People are my highest priority. Any task whether great or small will be shoved to the side for a friend in need.

In need. That makes it even a higher priority. Or another way to say it is my life actions talk really really loud when there is a friend in need.

Here are some personal examples from the last two weeks:

Over ten years ago, I was teaching preschool in the desert of Southern California. I was going back to school to have a different career, but in the mean time I was doing what I knew how to do best. I was spending the day with small children. I had twelve 3-year-olds that came to see me every week day. The teacher who worked right next door to me was named Nancy. She had two teenage boys and had been teaching preschool ever since they were preschoolers. It would suffice it to say, she had a great deal of wisdom, perspective, and insight. She had eight 2-year-olds who loved her dearly.

As you can imagine we became friends. When everyone around you is no taller than your knee you tend to become friends with the adult that is in the closest proximity to you.

Life moved on, I earned my degree. I moved to Washington State and began my new career that related to my degree.

The world can be a very small place sometimes. As it turns out, my friend Nancy grew up in the area where I now live and raise my son. This past December her mother passed away and I didn’t know. I was on facebook one night and saw that she posted something about her mother’s funeral.

My heart sank. My friend had been 20 minutes away and I didn’t know she was having to deal with all that comes with a parent passing away. I messaged her immediately on fb with my condolences and asked her to message me if ever she was in the area again.

Two weeks ago a message popped up on my phone screen, “Hi Suzy, I’m in Seattle. Dad is in hospital. Just wanted to say hi.”

Fire alarms, sirens, very loud noises are going off for me when I read this. I truly know what it is like to have my mother pass away and then have my father in the hospital. It is horrific!!!

Over the next nine days I moved anything and everything I needed to, to see my friend. Visiting her at the hospital. Tim and I went over to her parent’s house and helped take a bunch of stuff to the dump. We packed our car with 21 bags containing her mothers clothes and donated them to the Goodwill. Callied every day to check in on her, her father, and how the hospital was treating her. I took her to the airport so she could fly home and collect herself and her husband, and return in just another short week.

Whatever she needed I was going to make sure it happened.

What was my life saying to me? I will re-arrange my whole schedule to help a friend. Especially if their help is because of loss or pain. And definitely if that loss or pain is directly related to losing parents.

I knew I cared about this, but until this month I didn’t realize HOW important or what a high priority it is for me. But because I am listening, now I know.

Tucked in the middle of all of this busy-ness my life was talking just a decibel quieter about something else. I will rearrange my schedule for a friend who is visiting from out of town.

The community I moved from in the desert of Southern California is a very tight community. Nancy and I had many mutual friends. One of these friends had been a very close friend of Nancy for many many years. Their children grew up together. We all worked at the same school together. Audrey taught science and I taught Bible and Geometry. (I moved up from preschool to high school before I left the profession of teaching.)

When my parents were sick and after they were gone. Audrey would show up at my house and whisk me off to the movies. She would buy my ticket and she would buy me food. Every time it would bring a smile to my face and a lightness to my heart.

Last December, again scrolling through facebook, I saw that my sweet movie friend had lost her father. I had known that he was sick, but I didn’t know he was that sick. I sent a message of condoleces through text. But I wanted to do more. As Tim and I discussed it, we decided to send money to take herself to the movies. In the note I explained that if I were there in the High Desert I would be showing up at her house and whisking her off to the movies. But since I wasn’t there maybe she could find a friend or daughter to go with her in my place.

Well last week Audrey was coming to Seattle. Why was she coming? To be with her friend Nancy that was dealing with a hospitalized father. She was here for a very small window of time, I cleared my schedule even more and made time to see her. Because she was here to minister to Nancy I met them at the hospital. Did I mention that my two year old is with me, through each of these visits? He was.

I wanted him to see and understand, “We are there for our friends, literally.” Last Tuesday Audrey, Ben, and I played at a park right next to the hospital and we talked about our fathers. We talked about how much we miss them and about how quickly they left. It was good. It was sweet. It was life.

Take some time this week to listen to your life. What phone call or text message causes you to re-arrange your whole day? Those things that cause us to re-arrange everything are really really important.

On Thursday I will give a few more examples of what other things I am hearing from listening to my life.

Listening, Raw and Real

Listen: If We’re Honest

June 3, 2016
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Tuesday morning, driving in the car, running around town filling up the car with gas, heading to the grocery store, and a quick stop at Ross. Little man is in the back seat talking to all the cars and “big trucks” that we pass. The radio is playing and I am thinking about too many things at once.

Suddenly a song was playing on the radio, tears were trickling down my cheeks, and I had to pull the car into a parking lot as my soul wanted to focus. What were the words? What is this song? Stop thinking and listen!

Listen: Francesca Battisteli “If We’re Honest”

 

Truth is harder than a lie; the dark seems safer than the light. And everyone has a heart that longs to hide.

I’m a mess and so are you, building walls that nobody can get through. Yeah it may be hard but the best thing we could ever do is . . .

Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine; ‘cause love can heal what hurt divides; and mercy waiting on the other side, if we’re honest . . .

If we’re honest . . .

There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross . . .

It’s what we need to be . . .

As soon as I could get a minute at home I pulled up youtube and listened to the song again. But now it had my full attention and as I re-listened and re-listened and re-listened to this song I could feel it wrapping itself around my soul. The song that had words that had seeped into my soul before I even knew what was happening were beginning to penetrate my brain.

The first sentence:

“Truth is harder than a lie; the dark seems safer than the light. And everyone has a heart that longs to hide.”

Marriage has proven this to be true for me. I want to hide my heart from my husband, because somehow it feels safer. But hiding never is safer. Hiding breeds selfishness and discontent. Truth brings light, healing, and hope.

“I’m a mess and so are you, building walls that nobody can get through. Yeah it may be hard but the best thing we could ever do is . . .”

What are your walls? How do you try to protect yourself? I try to protect myself by living a life for others to approve of. The interesting thing that has knocked down that wall is that now I am only home with my son for most of the day and my husband a few hours in the evening. The fact that most of what I did in my life was for someone else to take notice of has been incredibly humbling. I have really made an effort to break down these walls and be a mess right along with you. But do it honestly. (I think that might be why this song penetrated my soul so deeply.)

“Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine; ‘cause love can heal what hurt divides; and mercy’s waiting on the other side, if we’re honest . . .”

There is nothing sweeter than being accepted in a conversation when you have just spilled your guts and the other person has that face of “What! You too!” This past year I was really struggling with selfishness in my marriage. I knew it was there and I was doing my best to get a handle on it, but one day in particular I was just really discouraged about it. It was a Monday morning and I was headed to my BSF Leaders meeting. We always share a prayer request with the woman next to us, there was a longer married woman than myself that I had been loosely connecting with. I made a point to sit right by her. We had a few minutes before our meeting began and I turned to her and asked, “How many years have you been married?”

She replied, “43!”

I smiled and said, “Perfect. I need some of your wisdom. How did you or do you deal with selfishness in your marriage?”

I will forever have her expression in my mind. It was a mixture of sweetness, shock, and realization. In a very short way she basically said what Francesca said “Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine.” For every week after that tiny conversation this woman has sought me out, given me the sweetest hug you can imagine, with a wink and a whisper she says, “I am praying for you!”

And we both know exactly what she is talking about: love, marriage, selfishness, submission, and anything else that might be the issue of that day. “‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides; and mercy’s waiting on the other side.”

So just be honest.

“There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross . . .” this was the line that made me pull the car over, because it is true. The way that I was dealing with my selfishness in my marriage, was every time I found myself thinking selfish thoughts. I would stop wherever I was, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the grocery store, sometimes putting my son to bed. And I would quietly confess to God. “Lord, I am being selfish. I am harboring selfish thoughts. Forgive me. Help me. I want to do my marriage well.” And then I would plug back into whatever it was I was previously doing. My heart was lighter and my head was clearer, at least for a few minutes.

Let’s be honest. Take a few minutes. Listen to the song. What speaks to you? What specific life circumstance needs these words? Who do you need to call to share your brokenness with? My guess they will have mercy waiting for you that will lead you to healing and hope.

Take some time. Listen. And respond.