Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Update

So I did it! I started school and it was a good move for so many reasons. Other good things have been happening too. My husband got a job finally, I got a really good part-time job that I'm excited about. I decided to start a new blog to specifically talk about my school experience and what I have learned there. The new website is: http://journeyofhealingwjc.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Matter of Life AND Death

April 2011 was the worst month of my entire life and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't heal, that is until August 2012- what a month! Unfortunately, it took the grief of others and for others to give me a fresh perspective. I really didn't want to make this all about me, but I guess that's what this blog is right? All about me and my healing, with the hope that maybe someone else reading this could vicariously be helped in some way by knowing that darkness can overtake us all but that doesn't have to be the end of the story.

On August 9th I wrote a very bleak post "The Death of Hope" which I am not exactly proud of but will not delete because those were some very raw emotions and looking back I believe that I had reached the very end of myself, if that makes any sense. Around that same time I got the news on Facebook that a young man that I graduated high school with had unexpectedly passed away, he left behind a wife and 3 young children. I witnessed the grief of many of our former classmates who had maintained a friendship with him over the years. It was noted that he was Christian and his faith was very important to him. I considered very briefly how uncertain life is and that there are no guarantees. Then my life went on.

Barely 3 weeks after that I received the news that another of my former classmates passed away unexpectedly in the middle of the night. She was someone who I was friends with in school and one of my Facebook friends. She was just posting things online the night before, it didn't seem real. She left behind a husband and 2 teenage sons. She had known her share of suffering, supporting and praying for her mother who was fighting the battle of cancer and made it to remission and her father had survived a heart attack the previous month. This was a huge shock for everyone. She, too, was a Christian who's faith was very important to her. I considered very deeply how uncertain life is and that there are no guarantees. But before my life went on...

Not even 3 days later I received the news of a former co-worker's 2 year old grandson who had drowned and after 45 minutes of CPR his heart had restarted, but it seemed very clear that he was brain dead. As of this writing he is held alive only to be an organ donor and will be pronounced dead by the end of this day. My tears still fresh from the loss of my old friend, I cried new tears over this unbelievable tragedy, as that little boy reminded me of my own son at that age and we nearly had this same experience happen to us, however, my husband caught my son just in time before he went into the lake. Witnessing the faith and the strength of this little boy's family and friends has been transforming in so many ways and I know that is not true just for me but so many other lives have been touched by this tragedy. His family is overwhelmed with both grief at their loss and amazement at how this little boy all of 2 years has been more of a powerful witness for the Lord than most of us will ever be.

All of this unexpected death got me to wondering how would we feel about things if we knew the plan ahead of time. What if God had planned for you to have a child and told you that you would only have him for 2 years then He would take him back and this was to further the Kingdom and be a witness for thousands of people. Would you decline this task? What if God asked you to marry someone who would die leaving you alone as a single parent 10-15 years later, would you do it? What if God asked you to be a friend to someone knowing that person will die young?  What if before you ever decided to have a child God told you that you would die before that child was an adult, would you still have a child? But we already do know the plan ahead of time, we know that we all will die, that our loved ones will die, what we don't know is the when or the how. We take for granted life with average life expectancy around 75 we assume that we are entitled to at least that, not 39 years or 2 years. What we forget is that each day is a gift and we grieve because we forget that, not all of us forget that but many of us do. The ones who remember grieve because of the loss and that they will miss their loved one but they heal much faster than those of us who feel robbed. The reality is that we weren't robbed of more time, rather, we were blessed by each day that we were given. I grieved so hard for my unborn child and I felt robbed, but at the time I didn't understand, I'm pretty sure now I do.

I don't know exactly the why, though. Why was I allowed to be pregnant for just a few short months and then it had to end? Maybe it was God's way of showing me that I still have more life in me yet and not to give up. I asked the same question as to why the little 2 year old's family was allowed to hope for less than 24 hours that he might recover only to have it not be so, would it have not been better for them if he had just died immediately? But the family made the decision to donate his organs to save other lives, maybe that was God's way of showing that he still had more life in him yet. Had that time of hope not occurred their would be no thousands of people pulling together in prayer, being able to witness the faith and the strength of this family. What at first seemed to be cruel, now makes perfect sense.

Its weird because right now my husband and I are still struggling with trying to find jobs and our reserves are almost gone, we have maybe a month or two and then we will need to brace for impact and maybe lose it all, our home, our vehicles, everything. It's scary. We are in this position because my husband made a decision at his previous job to stand up for what was right and as a result he lost his job. We have spent the last year feeling entitled to restitution, "God, we did the right thing for you, now it's your turn to pay up and make it right." But we forgot that's not how it works. The Lord will always provide for us, maybe not in the way that we think He should but we won't go without shelter, food, or clothing. It's going to be hard especially because I love my kids so much and I wanted so much to be able to give them a great life, but the reality is that no matter what I could ever give them, I could never give them the greatest gift that only God can give and that is 1 more day, that is life. Everything that I have been able to give them up and to this point has been only because of the grace of God, not because of anything that I did or my husband did. We both want to work hard and give them things but neither one of us will ever sell our soul to do it, we won't go along with corruption, deceit, and greed to get ahead and for that we will struggle and we will suffer, just like Jesus said we would.

Certain famous evangelists will preach prosperity that if we do the right thing the Lord will bless us as if that is the payoff, but the truth is that if we do the right thing the world will hate us for it, but our reward will be in heaven. Luke 6:22-23 says: "Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven." This is one of the hardest lessons that I think I have ever had to learn in my entire life and I'm not going to deny that there is a strong part of me that wants to hang onto the world, that wants to live like my neighbors live and it has my insides all tied up in knots because I want to follow Jesus and do what's right but I haven't got to the point where I can do it in joy and not in bitterness and resentment. In the words of Toby Mac "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul," but it's like I have one foot in the world and the other in heaven and I can't budge, I can't let go because I don't know what that means, and it scares me. Within that same passage of scripture Jesus said that we have to lose our life to save it. Ashamedly I must confess I have been trying to lead a double life for far too long and it has been catching up to me and I think that the Lord is calling me to take that leap and trust Him completely, to give up this world and my love for it- my love of my material possessions and luxuries that I have enjoyed for so long, as well as my pride. Up to this point I denied that I loved my stuff and said I didn't care all the while clinging to it as if my life depended on it and I've been denying that I was prideful. It's time to confess and repent and let go. The question is how do I do that?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bring Me That Horizon!


“Linger too long in the stench of your hurt, and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise.” Max Lucado

Yet another quote that I am beginning to resonate with all too well. I think it might just be time to lift up this anchor in the sea of my despair and move forward to clearer waters. I want to move on, I'm ready. My fear is can I really do it? I had a panic attack last week and it was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous at the time. I tried to will myself to stop but was unsuccessful. It was like I was separated from my body, the tears were coming full blast, I was hyperventilating meanwhile my mind was screaming at me to pull myself together but my body wouldn't stop. I'm seriously convinced it is hormonal though, it has to be. Sure we have been going through some tough stuff but there was no reason for me to react the way that I did. I'm kind of tired of being down, no I am really tired of it- sick and tired of it. 
So lately my husband and I have recently been listening to this comedy station in the car a lot and watching a lot of comedies on Netflix. We've just really needed to laugh and we have been and I think it is helping- good old laugh therapy. I think it really works. Sure it hasn't gotten anyone a job or anything but it has been good to just laugh. I think my negative attitude has been alienating a lot of my friends and family too, why wouldn't it? Who wants to be around negativity all the time? I certainly don't. In some ways I didn't even care because I didn't want to be around anyone anyway and still don't feel like being a social butterfly, but it is good to have someone to talk to sometimes.  The funny thing about that quote above from Max Lucado is that lately my sensitivity to smell has been really bad and there has been a funk in my house that I just can't seem to figure out where it's coming from, pretty sure its the dog but I've been scrubbing things and spraying air freshener, opening the windows. Anyway, I think that is why I can all too well relate to that quote, the funk has a stale quality about it and its probably a combination of things the dog mixed with the fact that the house has been shut up for months with the a/c running that the air has been getting stale, no circulation. Yeah, it's just like that with my life, I need circulation and movement, fresh air and a fresh outlook. I need new wind in my sails, hoist the mainstay! Batten down the hatches! Swab the poopdeck! (with my dog that is not even a joke). I used the ship metaphor because it seemed like it fit, and along with that the title to this post which is from Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, another of my favorite movies.

On that note, today was the kids' first day back to school and I thought I would be sad as they are now in 3rd and 5th, but it was really okay. I got right up out of bed, made them their special requested breakfast, fixed my daughter's hair, packed their lunch, and my husband and I drove them to their first day of school. I said a little prayer over them on the way to school and they seemed to like that. They were cute as ever in their new school clothes and it felt like it was going to be a good day.  The sun was shining, there was a light breeze in the air- and it was a good day :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength

"I still constantly find that when I am without the Word, Christ is gone, and so are joy and the Spirit. But as soon as I look at a Psalm or a passage of scripture, it so shines and burns into my heart that I gain a different spirit and mind." Martin Luther

I can definitely identify with this quote!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Attitude Adjustment (with a little help from Jeremiah)

So I decided that I need an attitude adjustment! The past 16 months have been brutal and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel and I have taken on the role of learned helplessness all too easily. I prayed last night to God "what, if anything, can I do?" I mean I know that God has a plan, He always has a plan, but this whole trying to be patient thing has been interesting. Some days I can be patient and maybe almost even content in the moment and then there are other days when I get extreme cabin fever. Sometimes I can't help feeling like a lab rat put into a situation and being observed. I'm not even going to pretend to have a clue what it's like to do such an experiment, I'm just imagining myself in the place of the rat. I don't know anything about the intelligence of rats, I wonder how long it takes them to figure out that they are surrounded by barriers that they cannot get around? I wonder how long it takes them to figure out that they have no control over their environment, when they get fed, etc. So what can I do? What do I have the ability to do? I need to figure that out. The Serenity Prayer is not one that I have used a lot over the years, but these days it has become quite relevant. I've been thinking about God a lot lately too and my faith in Him. My struggles have never been about the existence of God, rather, why would the Creator of the universe care anything for me? That is one I have always struggled to wrap my brain around. It's not like I'm a deliberate malicious, evil person, but I'm impulsive and I have a bad temper when it comes to what I perceive as injustice. I also don't always express myself right and it usually ends up sounding worse than I ever intended. I can be very selfish at times too, not with my family though but in general with everyone else. It's that attitude thing "well they don't care about me." The funny thing is that when I make statements like that, I know that I'm not the only one who acts like that, it amazes me how many people I know who have no clue about their attitude. I guess ignorance really is bliss. My acute self-awareness will be the death of me.

I have to change this attitude because this is no way to go through life. I'm also starting to realize that being patient with God's plan doesn't necessarily mean sitting around doing nothing but watch the clock because I think that is what feeds the crazy. My meltdown last week came from many things but I think that one thought might have lit the fuse- what if there is no plan? What if God's plan is that there is no plan? That is, there is no plan for restitution here in this life. Jesus never promised anything more than that but some people preach that if we do xyz and are faithful then we receive all of these blessings. No one wants to hear that we won't receive our blessings until sometime after our death. I think about the 2 men who were hanging on their crosses next to Jesus and how the one demanded his blessing now otherwise Jesus was not really the son of God (heavily paraphrased, but that was the idea), and the other man who accepted who Jesus was and was satisfied that he would receive his reward in Heaven after the completion of his crucifixion. We don't talk about that story much but there in that scenario lies the truth of what we are to believe. My husband may never get a decent job, I may never have another baby, we could end up losing our home and everything we have and have to start over again, someone could get sick, tragedy could strike our family, we still have both of our parents living- eventually we will suffer that loss, we might suffer through natural disasters, horrible politicians, economic collapse- we have not been promised protection from any of those things and there is little if anything that we can do to protect ourselves from those things.

I get so angry with people who believe and teach otherwise. I'm not sure why I get as angry as I do about it, maybe there is a since of jealousy "what if they really can protect themselves?" That causes me to question my own beliefs on one hand and maybe that is what makes me angry. On the other hand I get angry for people being led astray by the lie because I know how it feels to have the rug pulled from underneath you. For example, I got really angry about the Dave Ramsey teaching. I can admit that he does have good ideas about how to manage money and I know a lot of people who followed his plan and have had success. It's an easy plan to work out if you have a job, its a good way to get out of debt and to change your thinking about debt- nothing wrong with that. I never had a problem with him before this past year, before he made the statement about the economic disaster coming and the government being unable to fix it. He declared that we can fix it by following his plan we can change the course of things to come. I wouldn't even have been bothered so much if he was making these statements at colleges or motivational speaking seminars to promote his books. My problem was he was selling this stuff to churches, he was seasoning his teachings with random scriptures, and he was taking the glory and the power away from God and trying to place it into his teachings and people were believing.

It is disturbing the responses you get from people who are Dave Ramsey followers when you criticize him in any way. As you can see in my and my husband's situation, it is very difficult to follow Dave's plan, where in his plan does he create jobs where there are no jobs? Write a book on how to successfully survive on unemployment and maybe I might read that one. Instead I get the feeling that he is a little prejudiced against people who are unemployed. If it had not happen to us I might have even found myself agreeing with him on that. It's easy to judge other people when it hasn't happened to you. If you can follow Dave's plan and have your finances in order then good for you. Dave tells you to make sure you have 3-6 months reserves saved up to cover you for any disasters, well we are at 16 months, our reserves would have run out 10 months ago. The reality is that the economy is about to finish its last rotation down the toilet bowl and when more people lose their jobs or the cost of living becomes more unbearable while salaries stay the same or are cut, that plan will only go so far. I'm just saying that I know how it feels to think you got everything under control and then to have lost it all and a lot of people are going to get really hurt when it's all said and done. Like I said I had no problem with Dave's plan, I think I could have just been more accepting of it had it been delivered in a more humble manner with the disclaimer of God's will being able to trump any of our efforts and the hopes of worldly prosperity being our own plan not the Lord's. It's funny that as angry as I got about that, deep down I believed it, I believed that God's plans were to prosper us, that is the world's definition of prosperity, not Jesus'. Jesus defined prosperity as "today you will be with me in paradise" (just as soon as we expire from this world).

Contrary to popular belief "prosperity" is a matter of perspective. Jeremiah 29:11 has got to be one of the most misunderstood and misquoted verses in the Bible "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I don't think that meant a great big house, the finest cars, luxurious vacations, at least the Bible never said anything about that. Instead, Jeremiah was probably one of the most depressed figures in the Bible and rightfully so. When I think of my own suffering it pales in comparison to what he endured, yet his suffering pales in comparison to what Jesus suffered. Jeremiah was persecuted by his own family, plotted against by the people in his hometown, rejected by his peers, he was beaten, put into captivity, accused of lying, almost murdered by other prophets and priests, threatened by the king, placed in a cistern, saw his original writings burned, if anyone ever had the right to question his calling and his faith it was Jeremiah, yet he remained strong in his faith and sought comfort in the word of the Lord, he knew that the promises of God were meant for beyond this world. That is where faith and hope lives! I guess we need to be very careful about our expectations when we read that verse, it would serve us best to go on ahead and read the rest of the book of Jeremiah before we jump to any conclusions. As sad a read as Jeremiah is, it has been more helpful to me than I could imagine. I think I will be reading some more of his work and reflect on his life to help adjust my attitude.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baby Blues

I still would love so much to have another baby. I've been seeing baby stuff everywhere and it just does something to my heart. For instance, I was in a public restroom today and there was a baby changing station in there and I thought "I just want to do that again" and then when I walked through the store I didn't really pay much attention to anything around me but on one of the end caps was a box of baby denim diapers and I thought "I would definitely buy those" they didn't have that when my kids were babies. Then there's Facebook, friends posting pics of their babies, friends about to give birth to babies, friends announcing they're having babies, friends talking about planning to have babies. I go out in public and see people pushing strollers or people holding their babies. I used to question if I really wanted to do that all over again or if I just miss mine being that tiny? I've decided the answer is definitely yes to both, I really want to do it again. Sure we could adopt and I see that happening one day but I love being pregnant. I have good pregnancies. I don't get sick, I lose weight, my skin looks amazing. Oh and the attention, yeah I admit it, the attention and the special treatment you get not only when you're pregnant but also when you have an infant is great. I'm kind of a social-phobe most of the time, I generally don't like attention, but not when I'm pregnant. I think the reason why is because when it's just me out there I'm vulnerable, the attention could be positive or negative, but when you're pregnant or holding an infant the majority of the time it's a sure bet that the attention will be positive. I also love the feel of a baby in my arms. My poor dog, I try to pick him up and hold him like a baby he's about 25 lbs. the size of about an 8 month old- unfortunately he hates being held. My children have always been big for their age and at 8 and 10 they are both around 100 lbs and almost as tall as me (they get that from their dad who stands almost a half a foot taller than me). I can give them hugs and maybe cuddle them when their lying down but that's about the extent of it. They are also getting more independent, they don't need me to do basic things for them anymore.

I'm just not ready to give that part of my life up, the part where I am the mom of small children. I am at this time the mom of pre-teens and I'm not ready for this to be it. A funny thing I still catch myself doing is when I'm shopping with a cart, sometimes I will push the cart back and forth as if I'm trying to soothe a child, I do it subconsciously and get embarrassed when I realize it. I still grab my 10 about-to-be 11 year old son's hand when we walk in the parking lot, which he has let me know on no uncertain terms that it is neither needed nor acceptable. I just tell him that I like to hold his hand because I love him. I'm also not doing well with how fast they are growing up. I look at people who purposefully decide not to have more because of how much work they are and I think "but they are going to grow up so fast". Don't get me wrong I don't want to be one of those mom's who judge other people about the size of their family, but I do have a difficult time relating. I and my husband made a decision a long time ago to be open to having as many children as God wanted to give us but at this point that is two. I do feel blessed though, we have one of each two years a part, for the most part healthy other than the Asperger's and the ADHD- which to me I find to be more of a superpower than a disability because they have amazing talents and personalities as a result. But they're half grown now, I just can't believe it. Where are the little tikes that we used to haul around in a wagon at the zoo? My son told me the other day at a restaurant "I think I'm too old for this kids menu" so I sulked silently while I completed the word search and colored the pictures. I just recently noticed that at many restaurants the kids menu only goes to 10, most to 12 but we are just a little over a year away from that, and lets face it, at his size the child's portion is just not enough. The boy is super skinny and already eats like a teenager. He can eat an entire foot-long from Subway. I can't even eat a whole foot-long. I think it would be easier for me to face him becoming a teen if I had a baby on my hip that I'm carrying around or even a toddler I'm chasing around. It would be good for both him and my daughter too and it's something that they both want. They didn't take the loss of the baby last year well either.

You know I still catch myself holding my breath in disbelief that I lost the baby. It doesn't seem real, that kind of stuff just doesn't happen to me. Our issues are always financial. Money has been a problem for me since before my own birth, it's a generational issue. People in my family don't get sick, no one dies until they're old, we're just all broke. I call it the generational curse. Some people pass on genes for different illnesses, my family passes on a bad financial gene, some kind of a chromosome or hormone that repels money or stifles the ability to make money I guess. My husband losing his job, totally sucked, but I get it, it makes sense in my world. Losing a baby, just doesn't even compute. Now both happening at the same time, that's why I freaking lost my mind and can't seem to get it back. Trying to keep my faith since all of this went down, well that has been like trying to hang onto a greased pig "I got it, I got it, I got it, I don't got it, oh no wait there it is again, no, no, yes, no..." I'm exhausted. I don't remember prior to all of this faith requiring so much work, what do you suppose that means? I know one thing is for sure, I need rest, not physical rest- I have had more than my share of that, I'm talking mental and emotional rest. I need some of that peace that surpasses all understanding. I think I need to go on a retreat!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Irony

Well there is some irony for you! As much as I've been complaining about my current Bible class and the anxiety that it seems to be adding to my predicament, I find it interesting that this week the focus is on the book of Hebrews. I finally acquiesced and read through the book today and oddly enough it completely spoke to everything that has been going on with me and shed a much needed fresh perspective on suffering. It was unexpectedly very helpful. It also reminded me that I need to be reading my Bible more than I have been lately. On a side note I have decided that I no longer wish to continue with this degree as it will not further my career and it seems to be doing me more harm than good. There are some other reasons too, but I think one of the biggest reasons is that my motives were all wrong. The truth is I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up, I'm just feeling so desperate to be something more than what I am. I have a love/hate relationship with counseling, it does feel good to do something meaningful and I like helping people, what I hate about it is the responsibility and the politics that come with working in an agency. Regardless, I think I do want to go back to work, although I would prefer it to be part-time but my family's current financial situation demands that I will need to work full-time. I think I can do it. The hardest part is going to be not being home with my kids as much as I would like, although I am thinking about homeschooling next year. My concerns are with their disabilities that they need their mother. Why does life have to be so hard? (Rhetorical question)