Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm Still Standing (on His promises)

There is a funny thing that happens to me when I am writing a post.  I've said before that this forum is my "free therapy" and I think a lot of bloggers who write about their own lives would agree.  When I am piecing together a story for you, I am actually processing life in my mind; working out the kinks.  It's a little magical, really, because the way I feel when I sit down to type is transformed by the end of the post.  Writing to you is my way of wading through the muck.  At the end of the story, I always find my silver lining. So thank you for that, friends. 

This week, I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed and kicked around.  But, I wanted to make you laugh.  When you consider the alternative, laughing is almost always the best option.  Too bad, every now and then, it's just not possible, is it?  The journey is just too difficult and the only choice available is to just sit quietly and experience the discomfort of feeling something unpleasant.  That's where I'm at today.  It occurred to me this morning just how strange it is that life goes on as usual when we are in the midst of something that tests our faith and our ability to cope.  The alarm clock still goes off at 6:30. School and work still happen. The kids still need to be tucked in tight and have their books read at night. Bills need to be paid. Little hands still need to be washed and little teeth need to be brushed.  Doesn't it seem like life should just stop and let us catch our breath for a minute? I want to yell, "You expect me to do what?!"

There has been a common theme in my writing: distractions...the little, earthly pleasures that are a quick, temporary fix to life's troubles.  Every fiber of my being calls out to these delicious diversions, covets them. The food, the T.V., the social media, the books, the entertainment...they tap into a part of my brain that is looking for comfort.  There is nothing wrong with a little may be one of the best parts about being human. But, these little pleasures never really address the underlying painful feelings, do they?  It's like putting a band aid on a bullet wound...not very effective at solving the problem, just covers it up a bit.

When I turned thirty, my mom gave me a very special gift.  She allowed me to read the journals she kept when she was thirty and had young children.  It was an eye opening experience to pour over the blemishes and insecurities she struggled with at that age and incredible to see how she has evolved into the empowered woman she is today.  Immediately, I was struck by the impulse to give my children the same gift.  At that time, I thought it might look like me keeping a diary...never did I imagine it would be a big, fat, diary that would be accessible to the world!

My point is, I am sharing my struggles with you now, so that one day my girls, who may be mothers and wives themselves, can look at my life and see an honest portrayal of who I am, right now, insecurities and all. It's my wish that they will be surprised at how difficult things were for Mom and Dad sometimes because they only remember love and laughter.  Is that unrealistic? Maybe, but it's a good dream to shoot for. My hope is that they will be the kind of women who can easily laugh at themselves, and are comfortable enough in their own skin to stand firm in their convictions when the world kicks them around.  My mother has always been humble enough to laugh at herself, and she passed that gift on to me. The tricky part is learning to be quiet and sit with unpleasant feelings.  That's usually my cue to lace up my proverbial running shoes and head for the door. But, I'd like to make things different this time around.  That doesn't mean I'm going to pull the covers over my head and marinate in self pity. I'd like to take a breath and allow myself to feel...knowing all the while, it can't last forever.

A good friend gave me some food for thought this week.  She remembers being miserable in med school, working through the night, and missing her small children desperately.  She asked a fellow med student why he never complained about their crappy schedule and he said, "Whatever else they do to us, whatever they take away...they can't stop time. Eventually this will all be over." His words stuck with her through trying times. 

This too shall pass. 

God, grant me the grace to do what so many generations of women have done before me in times of trouble.  Help me to put away childish desires and surrender those troubles that weigh heavily on my heart to you.  Strip away the superficial things and leave me with the desire to get to know you better.  Teach me to trust in the plans you have made for my family, when all rational thinking points to an unhappy ending.  Because I know you better than that, God. You have only the best of intentions for me and the ones that I love. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Little Help, Please.

How are things?  I mean, how is life treating you lately?  My family and I are doing surprisingly well.  Surprisingly, because we have some really sucky, stressful stuff to look forward to in the month of April.  I honestly thought that by now, I would be an absolute basket case, taking all sorts of medication, smoking, and sporting a Fantastic Sam's haircut.  I envisioned someone finding my unwashed body submerged under piles of laundry and cheap romance novels, stained by my Cheetos fingers.  But, fortunately for everyone, that is not the case!  Let's take a strengths based approach at catching you up, shall we?
  •  I have yet to beat my children and spring break has ended.  This is no small feat. Now them beating up on each other...that's a whole other thing.  
  • My 5K for the Cottage was fabulous and I am still running!  Running has saved me in the last month.  I am terrible at it, apparently have the worst possible feet our Lord created for this sport, and wear all sorts of unflattering, compression gear, but man, do I ever love it.  When it's just me, my ipod, and my dog friend, Fred (a.k.a. the rape whistle) sailing through our neighborhood at night, I am free.  
  • We are all healthy (at least we were until I just jinxed us by typing those words.) 
  • The kids took the recent loss of our dearly, beloved cat very, very well.  The only indication of any trauma is that Lilah likes to role play "the vet" and tells all of her animal patients that they should expect to either receive a prescription or die during their visit.  Yikes!  
  • I have a rock solid support network of family and friends who listen to me rant and rave about our current stresses, and compassionately tell me when I am being entirely unreasonable, which is a lot of the time.  
  • In ways big and small, I can see God's fingerprints on our lives every single day. He fills me up with this reassurance that says, "Don't you know everything is going to be just fine?" This is miraculous in the face of logic and reason that says, "You're headed for hell in a hand basket!"  Like my cousin says, "Choose faith over fear."  
  • Encouragement has come from the most surprising places.  It may be a text that says, "I am praying for your beautiful family!" or the stranger who sat next to us at the pharmacy the other day and commented, "You know, you sure are a loving mother."  Wow.  Way to make my whole year, buddy!  Can I package you up, take you home, and pull you out when I'm feeling crumby?
The only signs that I am floundering under the pressure of our cruddy month are as follows:
  • I spend a lot of time looking at my forehead in the mirror and wondering whether I should get botox or cut bangs.  These are dangerous thoughts because I could end up looking like this (been there, done that)

or even worse, this.

 Sorry, lady, but it ain't good.
  • I spend suspicious amounts of time looking at this website that dares to ask the question, "Should Christians get tattoos?" Heck ya, they should!!  I have mine filed away just in case the day should come when Hubby says, "Let's call a babysitter and go get some ink!" Or of course, if he runs away from home; in which case, my mid life crisis will officially begin. 
  • I am consuming copious amounts of chocolate and caffeine.  In fact, I think I have developed a new antidepressant made up of these two ingredients! 
  • My house tends to be in a barely contained state of disarray...the laundry is now master of our bedroom. 
  • My prayers usually sound something like this: "Please, please, please..." or "Thank you, thank you, thank you..."  
But, you know what?  All things considered, I am blessed and I know it.  Everyday, I wake up with the realization that my kids are safe and happy, my husband still loves me despite my imperfections, and I am surrounded by really wise, loyal people who keep me grounded and lift me up.  I will leave you with a message that I have saved from a great friend in our church small group because it perfectly sums up what I love about my friends.  
"I thought of this story this morning that paints an amazing picture. It's about Moses from the Old Testament. Moses and his men were in battle. And, for whatever reason, if Moses was holding up his staff, his side was winning. When he lowered it, they started getting defeated. He obviously got tired and was unable to hold his arms up any longer. A couple of guys decided to help him out. They found a rock for him to sit on and they held his arms up for him. What I'm trying to say is, you are not alone. I will help hold your arms up. Our small group will help you hold your arms up. You will not be defeated." 
Maybe life is throwing a lot on your plate right now and you need someone to hold your arms up.  Or maybe you just have this one thing that's weighing you down. If that's the case, let me know.  I would love to pray for you!  After all, we are all in this together.