Cell Phone Case Grace

This falls under the heading of “Some of my classic flub ups”….. or “Lessons learned about how much I still need to learn about grace”.

I recently got a new iPhone and decided I needed a better protective case.  I’m known for setting my phone on chairs – the arms or seats – and knocking them off accidentally and cracking the screen. I’ve probably had to have my friend Matt replace at least 3 glass screens, so I found a website called Zazzle that has a variety of products, but they also make personalized cell phone covers.  So I poked around and decided to order one that I could create myself with a personal photo on the front.  Even better, I could write whatever I wanted on it, so I came up with a take off of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” phrase created by the British in 1939 for motivational posters for World War II  (that were never used and were re-discovered in a box at auction in 2000) and I created a work of art that says “Keep Calm and Offer Grace“.  Get it?  I blog about grace!  I write about how people should give grace to one another.  Aren’t I clever?  And won’t people be so impressed that I do?  And won’t people think I’m so good at offering grace to others?  Yeah, well….wait till you hear the rest of the story!

Shortly after that, my cell phone case arrived and to my dismay the words were off center to the left.  Ugh.  I told you about how linear I am, and it was unacceptable to me that the words weren’t perfectly centered.   I blame my dad – he was a mechanical engineer, had perfect printing, and had I known when I was young that I would have his neurotic linear-ness I would have made a great architect.  So I called customer service at Zazzle to hold them accountable to their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and can you believe it…they completely took responsibility and said they would fix the problem and send me a new cell phone case at no cost to me.  I was impressed.

Within a few days I received my 2nd cell phone case in the mail….and guess what?  It was exactly like the first one….off center to the left.  Double ugh!  Well….I was going to get to the bottom of this!   So I called back and spoke to Megan in Customer Service. She was a delightful and helpful gal, and she was able to dig a little deeper and found that the way I had designed my cover had actually left some residual designs on the outskirts of the design area which pushed up against my design and affected the margins and kicked the words off to the left.  It wasn’t anything I could see in the proof, but it was there underneath the design.  Hmmm…..this was awkward.  I certainly didn’t want to have to take any responsibility for the fact that my design might have caused the lopsided finished product, so I asked her why the first customer service rep had not dug deeper and found the issue?  See how masterfully I placed the blame on someone else?  Oh brother.  When she readily agreed and said “that certainly wasn’t very professional of us” I jumped at that opportunity to tell her that I wanted them to correct the issue and send me another corrected case.  This would be No. 3 this time.

Let me just say again that Megan was kind and caring in how she spoke to me.   Even grace-filled.  I’d even venture a bet that she might be a believer because of the gracious way she spoke and showed grace.   Not that every grace-filled person on the planet has to be a Christian…its just that we’re supposed to be better at it, aren’t we?  Well, I wasn’t feeling so gracious when she said the words “I wouldn’t feel good about just sending you a new replacement……”   (WHAT?)… I didn’t even let her finish her sentence!  WHAMO!….and with the picture of my beautifully designed cell phone cover staring me in the face on the computer screen in front of me……

Cell Phone case

….I cut her off mid-sentence and said…..”well then I want to talk to your supervisor!…or the President of the company!”   I mean I was entitled, wasn’t I?  As soon as the words flew out of my mouth, it’s as if those pious words on my cell phone cover started flashing like a neon sign in my face and all of a sudden it hit me that I was such a hypocrite….talking and advertising grace….and yet being so unwilling to practice it if my rights weren’t upheld.  Sigh.  My ugliness was staring me in the face.

What makes it worse is that Megan gently and tactfully (and way more grace-filled than me) said to me….”if you’d be OK with me finishing my thought, I’d like to tell you that I think the best way to handle this is to give you a credit to your account, and then I’ll just reorder it.  There will be no cost to you.”  Oh thanks Megan!…make me feel even worse about my hypocrisy.  Triple ugh.  Don’t you hate it when people are nice to you (grace) when you’re snarky to them?

Sometimes I think that’s all a part of learning grace.  Crashing and burning and watching others offer it to you when you are so undeserving.  That’s who and what I was.  Undeserving of grace, and yet Megan was a perfect example of God’s grace to me.  I am so underserving of it.  And yet….he offers it to me even when I argue my rights.

So if you see my cell phone case you’ll know how undeserving I am of all that it represents.  All that I blog about.  But it’s still what I’m committed to learning more about and getting to the bottom of – trying to get better at showing it to others around me each day. And thanks Megan for showing me cell phone case grace.

Celebrations of Childlikeness

I’m the only middle-aged gal I know who still runs her shopping cart into the parking lot at Walmart, jumps on the rails and rides it all the way to the car.  It’s one of my celebrations of life and in order to grow and learn about grace I’m finding that I sometimes have to return to childlike ways.  Like singing into my hairbrush microphone.  Or jumping on the bed when I stay at a hotel.  Or blowing bubbles in your chocolate milk.  Or having marshmallow fights with my husband. They are practices that I embrace and refuse to let go of because they remind me of a time when I wasn’t expected to act a certain way.  And they remind me that sometimes I just need to return to that childlike place in other areas of my life.

When I was young I was desperately trying to figure out where I fit in the world and then find acceptable ways to seek love and the attention that I so desperately craved.  I quickly learned that if I was “funny” then people accepted me, so I resorted to humor to gain affection.  My parents thought I was incredibly immature.  They were right.  And I’m pretty sure that my siblings thought my faith in a God that I couldn’t see, touch or feel was childish.  But approaching God in that way was the simplest way that I could – not over thinking it and with a childlike trust.  When I stopped trying to look at faith through an academic lens, not over think it, and come to the place in my life where I didn’t necessarily have to have all the answers to all the big questions…then I was able to trust in the one who created me.  It was that simple.

Sometimes our lives become routines of deeds and doing and working.  Our little life box where we’re safe. But if someone asked you to take a step back and find your childlike trust – well that’s easier said than done.  There are walls and defenses that we’ve learned to put up over the years to manufacture a wiser and more mature version of “you” that would have to be climbed over.  Yikes.  Is it too much work?  It’s do-able, but it’s all a matter of trust.

When was the first time we learned to trust?  I think as a baby we really didn’t have any choice and we learned to trust our parents for our basic needs.  For most of us they were our first comforters, our safety, our providers.  They were God’s example to us as children of how we were supposed to be cared for.  Not everyone had good experiences in that area –  I’m sorry if yours was not.  But now that we’re adults we need to figure out the balance between our adult selves, and relying on our childlike faith (before any baggage infiltrated our lives) and to seek out the one who originally gave us to our parents.   So for me, I’m learning to reject some childish ways, like the way I sought after love and acceptance, and still find that childlike trust.  I think it’s still OK to jump on the bed though.

Do you ever think about how hard it must have been for our Father to release us into the care of our earthly parents ?   I thought it was hard to release my children when they were first born back to God’s ultimate care.  I had to take a backseat and just be their caretaker for a season, and I’m such a backseat driver!   Then when they grew up and left home, again, it was heart wrenching to trust God to care for them.  I so want to take the wheel again.  So I think about how much harder it must have been for God when he placed them in my arms and put them in my care.  There was so much room for human error.  Would I be good enough?

I oftentimes struggle with thinking I’m not good enough or smart enough to be a theologian.  I’m just a simple gal who has simple thoughts but who is pretty introspective about life, love and faith issues.  But simple people who have simple thoughts matter to God.

My heart is not proud, Lord my eyes are not haughty;  I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.     

But I have calmed and quieted myself,  I am like a weaned child with its mother;  like a weaned child I am content.

Psalm 131: 1-2

So I’m at a place where I’ve calmed my fears about not being good enough to have something valuable to say, and so I blog.  I do it for me, and I do it to honor the one who created me.  And I’m content with who I am, knowing that the one who cares for me is on the job 24/7 doing just that.  That’s so grace!  And I want to know more about him and the grace he offers.

Whether you’d like to admit it, we all have built into our DNA an intuitive desire and need to know the one who created us.  For whatever reason some of us deny that and say that we don’t.  Or we suppress it and shout louder than it’s call to our heart.  But nevertheless it’s there.  The one who created and designed us made that as a default in each and everyone of our hearts – a yearning to know the one who created you.

So I think having a childlike mindset when it comes to how I live my life makes me more open to the simple things of life.  Like trusting.  Like accepting.  Like receiving.  Like being willing to embrace grace and admit that I have a lot to learn about practicing it.  Like riding the rails of the shopping cart or jumping on the hotel bed.  When was the last time you practiced childlikeness and did any of those things?  That’s your assignment for today.  Let loose and be childlike with your trust, with your grace, and with singing into your hairbrush.  ROCK ON!


I knew I’d have to write about this someday.  In thinking about this title I thought about calling it The Always Distracted Dane (cuz I’m Danish).  Or A Disturbing Dilemma.  Or Another Distracted Dynamo.  Some clever and catchy acronym for what I would consider to be the painful thorn in my flesh that I believe the One who created me has graciously allowed me to walk this life with.

“So to keep me from becoming proud, God allowed me to be given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the evil one to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.”

~ 2 Corinthians 12:7

 However you want to describe it, all those titles describe one of the most frustrating issues that I have had to deal with in my life. But on the flip side it also has been the most eye-opening into who I am as a person, and it has been a rich blessing for which I am grateful for as it has helped shape my life and had much to do with the person God has molded me into today.

It’s medical diagnosis is A.D.D. or more accurately Attention Deficit Disorder.  I’m not sure how I feel about having a “condition”…or a “disorder”…but if it helps others learn to walk through life with it I’m all on board!

I love a good story.  The interesting part of my story is that I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was in my 50’s – for which I am thankful – when I thought my son had ADD and was I doing research and trying to find a way to break it to him that he was “special”.  A dear distant cousin (who is also an RN and wouldn’t just jump on the ADD bandwagon at the drop of the hat) shared with me her journey with ADD and how it affected her children, and little by little it began to dawn on me that in reality, I was actually the one who had the disorder as well.  I am so grateful to her for helping me come to that place.  Now I know that I’m special.  🙂

Growing up I was labeled “the dreamer” in the family – never really coming down to earth.  Some in my family might have attributed my faith as falling under that dreamer heading – believing in something intangible – being so optimistic about life when I was expected to be mature and realize that life wasn’t a rose garden and how could there be a God who created us and yet allowed so much pain.  I actually really like being optimistic – I think it has kept me young.  But I was also the goofball – looking for validation through humor and fun because I couldn’t really settle down and focus on anything else.

Very few people even knew what ADD was in the 70’s when I was finishing high school and heading off to college, and I think had I known about “it” I might have used “it” as an excuse to live a less driven life.  What did happen was that “it” ticked me off so much that I took on the attitude that I wasn’t going to let “it” (whatever “it” was) define my life so I strove to teach myself skills that would help me function well in life.  I drove myself to be the best I could be – yet knowing I had limitations, and to be happy with the results.  I guess you might call it making the most of what I had.

During high school I did well in school – keeping a 3.6 gpa but having to work harder than most.  I had tutors when I needed them, and I was a visual learner.  Once I entered college and had bigger responsibilities “it” came crashing down over me.  “It” was like the elephant in the room – knowing something was there and wrong with me but that couldn’t be identified, which by the way made me feel like my elevator wasn’t going all the way to the top floor.  The best way I can describe “it” is to say my life was fuzzy….out of focus….and unclear. “It” was a shame that I carried with me all of my adult life and one that I didn’t talk about to many people.  I didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong with me and because I couldn’t identify “it” I tried to ignore “it” and pretend that “it” wasn’t there.  The effects of “it” forced me to drop out of college and I returned home with my tail between my legs.

Knowing I would eventually have to write about this, I recently went back and looked through my journals from my college+ years and found that, unbeknownst to me at the time I was very aware of my condition and referred to “it” many times in my journals as a cloud that I felt hanging over my head.  And just to clarify…I’m not talking about the kind of cloud where you store all your digital information somewhere akin to Heaven.  No…it was more like a cloud that settled around my head that I couldn’t see through.  It would be 30 years before I would find out what that cloud was.

Had there been a diagnosis for ADD back in the 70″s I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be labeled with it either, or I might have used it as a crutch or excuse for my lack of motivation.  So I see God’s providence in His timing in revealing it to me as a gracious gift….notice the root word comes from a place of  grace.  God holding off with the truth until I was best ready to receive it.

Depression was “its” partner – how could it not be when you are constantly doubting yourself – trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with you – paddling like crazy beneath the surface trying to appear like you have it all together when you know you really don’t.  But because of my tenacity and faith in God I chose not to let “it” rule my life.  I taught myself skills to survive and excel in life, and people never knew of the shame that part of my life carried with it.  I learned to compensate for areas where I was weakest and learned to use my strengths to my advantage. That’s not to say there weren’t huge identity and personality things to figure out…but that was all a part of my journey.  I’m not gonna lie – it did affect my life in so many ways, as I recognize when I occasionally play back the movie reel of my life now and then since my diagnosis.

The good news is that it has been absolutely freeing to find out “its” name a few years ago as it signaled – at least to my own heart – that I was not a failure, that there had been a reason for my struggles.  Most of all it validated what I knew all along – that I wasn’t crazy. Well, at least not medically.  If you know me at all you know I definitely have a little of crazy in me, but I’m proud that I’ve actually been quite successful in life walking hand-in-hand with ADD.  Uh oh….there’s that pride thing again – the reason God allowed me to have ADD so that I wouldn’t become prideful!  Ugh….its a vicious cycle!  I still have so much to learn.

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten since being diagnosed is whether I take medication.  The first few years after learning I had ADD my answer was “no…but if I were going back to school and had to read textbooks without feeling the crippling pressure to focus and take in a huge textbook in a short amount of time, maybe.”   In the past year my answer has changed to “yes…I do take medication“.

Just over a year ago I began to experience some of the same symptoms I felt overwhelming me in college.  Besides the basic distractive nature of ADD, the typical demands of life can be overwhelming.  18 months ago I started noticing that with all the balls I was trying to keep in the air with work, being a wife and mom, running a household, and the greater the demand on my abilities to organize, focus, and remain calm….I was beginning to feel panicky.  It reminded me of the feelings I had in college and it frightened me.

After a little research, I realized that being an athlete is like self-medicating your condition.  Exercise is one of the best medicines for ADD and I had always remained very active as an adult playing competitive softball, biking, golfing and walking.  However, the overwhelming feelings that had resurfaced coincided with the time in my life where I had begun to slow down a bit and wasn’t quite as active with my sports.  In essence, my  dosage of self-medication was now dwindling and so the overwhelming emotions began to return.  So in conjunction with my doctor I now take a low dose of medication that seems to work for me.  I describe it’s result as taking a camera lens and bringing everything into focus – and I’m able to keep those feelings and emotions in check.

My story has a very happy ending…but its not without it’s critics.  Not everyone wants to embrace my diagnosis and have (as my mom use to say) “poo poo’d” it and have said to me “you don’t have ADD…everyone is distracted”.  I’ll admit that hurts.  I agree that it’s good not to jump on the ADD bandwagon and use it as an easy way out for laziness or for a lack of motivation.  It’s true that everyone is distracted at some point – especially with the world of technology that we live in today – and it’s good to be discerning about the latest diagnosis that comes down the pike.  But my encouragement to you if you have a loved one that either has, or might have ADD is to learn all you can about the condition.  Don’t make them feel less than validated as a person because of your lack of knowledge.

(For some suggestions of books that helped me understand ADD better, check out the “Good Reads” section of my blog).

So “it” has shaped who I am – but it doesn’t define who I am.  God does that for me.  His grace is enough for me for today – His grace was enough for me 30 years ago.  His grace in the diagnosis – His grace in the truth – His grace for my sweet parents who had trouble understanding their little girl ~ His grace for my husband as he has walked through a distracted marriage not always feeling he had all my attention – His grace for my sweet son as he tries to figure out the part ADD plays in his life – His grace for my family and friends as they love me and all my whacky ways – His grace for people who ridicule me – His grace for tomorrow.  Maybe His grace is enough for you and what the “it” is in your life?


Here are a few myths and facts about ADD that might help you understand and encourage those around you who might have ADD:

ADD myths