Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Thought This Would Be Easier

"Moses said to the Lord, 'Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.'" ...[The Lord replied] "I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do."  Exodus 4: 10, 15


A few times a year, my kids, ages 8 and 5, visit with their dad out of state for about a week at a time.  Their adjustment back to regular life always takes time even with their occasional, local visits, but these longer visits so far away are quite trying upon their return.

Right now is one of those times.  They were away last week for Thanksgiving.  Typically when they get home, especially the first few nights are met with crying and not wanting me to leave the room at night.  This time around there hasn't really been crying but there have still been the effects of the separation, especially with my 8 year old special needs son.  He has regressed more than usual this time and has become very clingy, wanting to be by my side every minute and wanting me to help him do everything from putting on his socks to packing his backpack in the morning.  The most noticeable thing, though, are these tics that he has come home with.  He has various tics from time to time but this time, it's been a full body jerking type of movement and it has been very pronounced.  I noticed it the first thing when he got off the plane.  And I've noticed that it's magnified when we talk about daddy or anything from the trip.

It's very difficult for me, as a parent, to see my kids struggling both physically and emotionally.  I want to fix it.  I want to understand the causes and find answers how to help them cope.  At the same time, I know I need to deal with my own anxiety over the situation because they will pick up on that and I don't want it to aggrevate the situation.

As I was thinking about this earlier today, I was reminded of Moses.  He didn't feel equipped for the job that God had called him to because he was not eloquent of speech.  Man, can I relate!  The Lord replied that He would help Moses and teach him. 

I think often times it is easy to make the leap to think that it means the mission would be easy... because the Lord promised to go with him.  But that wasn't the case at all.  There were so many times along the way when Moses wanted to give up.  Things weren't going like he thought they should if God was on his side.  It wasn't easy at all.  But God never went back on His promise to help and to teach.

I don't know why God chose me to be the mother for my two, sweet little boys.  And it definitely isn't easy.  But somehow he saw me fit to do the job and I know that He goes along with me just as He did with Moses.  In a way, I'm thankful for eyes to see the deeper issues beyond the surface of what my boys are dealing with because it motivates me to want to learn all that I can to help them deal with life.  Unfortunately, they are innocent parties of divorce and that is the reality that we are faced with.  It isn't going away, so we have to deal with it the best way that we can.  I don't even want to imagine the struggles ahead of us during puberty (eek!) but I have to believe that God is using these trials now to prepare us to be better able to handle the future and that is a blessing.  I wish the blessing came in a prettier, easier package but this is reality.  And in the midst of it all, is the Lord and all of His unseen armies.

Lord, You know the anxieties I am dealing with right now.  I pray that I would recognize Your peace to calm the innermost parts of my soul.  I pray that I would always remember that You are God and You have promised never to leave me and always to guide me.  I pray that you would place your special wings of protection around my boys and help them to be able to express the things they need to in a healthy way, and that You would allow me the strength to face the unique struggles that come our way.  Thank You for your salvation and Your goodness.  Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

One Minute of Thankfulness

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago as the wellness coordinator for my office.  There were probably 150 coordinators from all around the country that got together for a 3-day course called Energy for Life that focused on physical, mental, and emotional wellness.  I really enjoyed the nutrition part of it and learned a lot that will especially help me today on Thanksgiving with all that delicious food!  The key is to enjoy your food and eat the things you like while being smart about it at the same time.

There was also a section devoted to writing and retelling your "story."  Now a lot of it made me think "this is how people who don't have Jesus try to find happiness and contentment."  But there were also some really great parts, too that I think are great to incorporate into every day life.

One of my favorite activities that we did had to do with being thankful.  The instructor set a timer and for one minute exactly, we had to each sit quietly with our notebooks and write down as many things that we could think of that we were thankful for.  When the one minute was up, we put our pencils down.

I felt so good after this activity.  It's amazing how just a simple task of thanksgiving can make you feel relaxed and peaceful.  And for one minute a day, think of what a difference giving thanks can make.  Surely amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, we can find just one minute to be thankful every day.

So for today, Thanksgiving, here is my one-minute of thankfulness.  It is now 10:07am:

I am thankful for my children.
I am thankful for my parents.
I am thankful for my sister.
I am thankful for a great church.
I am thankful for good friends.
I am thankful for a nice, affordable house to live in.
I am thankful for a job that allows me to use my gifts and talents.
I am thankful for a chance to sit down in quiet and think about thankfulness.

10:08am.  Wow, that one minute went really fast.  I feel like I didn't even get started with my list, past the easy things to be thankful for.  Being thankful makes me not want to stop making my list after just one minute because there is just so much more than that to be thankful for.

Imagine if we sat down and did this more often.  What if we start a list and each day take just one minute to add to it, not repeating anything from the day before.  What a great reminder that would be of God's goodness to us and His provision.  This thought just came to me... what if I put a spiral notebook on my nightstand and each morning before I get up, I take my one minute of thankfulness and then go about my day.  How would that one minute of thankfulness impact the other 1,439 minutes of the day?  Oh the possibilities!

Regardless if you choose to make this a part of your every day, I encourage you to take just one minute today and sit down with a paper and pencil and write down as many things that come to your mind to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shouldn't I Be Over This By Now?

I had some free time this afternoon so I stopped in to see my counselor to catch up and just recharge.  It'd been a little while since I had been in but I always feel so much... lighter I guess you would say, after I go to talk to her.  I love going in there because I can just talk without fear of rejection, shame or criticism.  And she has so many great insights and helps pull things out that have been going on in my head that maybe I didn't realize.

So I told her today that I've had writers block.  For a while, I had been writing several blogs per month... sometimes even several per week.  But that hasn't been the case over the last several months.  I love to write still, but I've just felt... blocked.  I didn't know why.

I also told her that I don't like to go to bed at night.  I'll stay up way too late watching movies or something on TV, or sometimes just mindlessly checking Facebook, email, Pinterest, etc.  Anything to avoid going to bed.  I wondered if it had something to do with a lack of control when you're asleep.  But she wondered if it was more that unconsciously I didn't want my mind to be available to think about things so I was blocking out that time of reflection and waiting until I couldn't keep my eyes open another second before I went to sleep.

That makes a lot of sense.  It's easy to avoid feeling pain when you busy yourself with overactive activities all day/night.

When I told her that it had been a few months since I'd really had anything noteworthy to write about, she asked me a personal question.  When was my ex-husband's new baby with his new wife born?

A few months ago.  And he named her the same name we had picked out together when I was pregnant in the event that we had a girl.  And not only that, the "other" woman during our marriage also just had a baby around the same time. 

I try to act like it doesn't bother me that much.  I mean, it's been five years.  Shouldn't I be over this by now?  There are so many times I want to write about it but then in the back of my mind, I feel like that just makes me look pathetic.  I hear the words that he always used to say to me when I would question things that had happened in the past.  I just needed to "get over it."  After we separated, my church at the time, although somewhat supportive from a safe distance, I felt also wanted me to just "get over it" because it was also a reflection on them.  And in all honesty, I wanted to just "get over it" too, because being in the midst of it all was just too painful.

So I intellectualized and analyzed the whole situation.  If I could figure it all out, logically and psychologically, then I could get over it.  I reminded him of his mother, he couldn't hurt his mother, so he married someone just like his mother and did those things to his wife instead.  There.  Feel better now?  Judging from my constantly clenched teeth, I would say that answer would be "no."  But I sure could act like I was okay.  I've perfected my happy, smiling image pretty well.  When you smile a lot, people think you are okay.

But I can't say that.  It's been five years.  Maybe if I had admitted how much it hurt me a few months into it, people might be a little more forgiving.  That's normal.  Five years later?  Like I said, I thought it just made me pathetic and should never be spoken of.

So my ex-husband has this baby with his new wife, the other woman has a baby with her new husband, and life appears to be wonderful for all of them.  I went eight months through my last pregnancy terribly stressed out from suspicion of this other woman, which I am convinced is what cut that pregnancy short by four weeks and five weeks later, I found myself reeling with the after effects of an unfaithful husband and the resulting separation as well as hormones that were through the roof after childbirth.  This gives me a terrible case of It's-Not-Fair Disease.  Why did I have to go through that and they all just move on like nothing ever happened and start their own new families?  It still feels unfair five years later.

So there.  I said it.  It's been five years and I'm still not over it.  I don't know if I ever will be.

BUT...

I just bought a new car on my own this week.  I negotiated a great price and even got them to throw in some extras.  I wouldn't have been able to do that five years ago.

I now have eyes that can see things that they couldn't see before.  I'm better able now, to see beyond what is said and done, to the motivations behind them.

I never had the confidence to write before.  I didn't think I had anything beneficial to say and if I did, who would want to read it?  But now, I realize that while I may not be a Pulitzer Prize winning author, God has given me this gift to use and I am very thankful for it because it's something that I love doing, regardless if anyone reads it.

I think I react less emotionally now.  Although I still get emotional, I'm better able to feel it first, own it, and then respond to situations more rationally and thoughtfully.

I feel like I'm a stronger mother for my children now and better at modeling life for them than I was five years ago.

Although good has come from the experience, I would give anything to go back and change things so I never had to go through that.  And so I wouldn't still have to feel hurt by it with each and every new little thing that happens to remind me of the past.  I would like to have all of the positive outcomes without any of the painful work to get there.  That would be the perfect antidote for It's-Not-Fair Disease.  But I digress...

I love what Naomi Zacharias said about scars in her book The Scent of Water:

The truth is, scars are an important part of our stories... A scar can remain as a tribute to what happened; it tells us something went wrong, that someone got hurt.  A scar lets us know that she survived.  The tension between flawed and special reveals something about the viewer too.  It weeds out those who only appreciate the kind of beauty that is obvious.  And it affords the opportunity to those with true character to explore beneath the rough edges to uncover an altogether different kind of beauty.  But it's the kind you have to roll up your sleeves to discover.  Then again, if it were not so, it wouldn't be special.

I really needed to read that.  The more I think about it, I think it hurts because I don't see their scars, only my own and I wonder, "Why me, Lord?"  But there are so many things that we don't see... not only in others, but in ourselves as well.  I'm sure there probably are some people who do think I'm pathetic to not be over it.  But then maybe there are people reading this who will be comforted to know they are not alone because they aren't "over it" yet either and that it's okay.  All I know is that this is who God made me and He is helping me work through all of these things as He continues to mold me into His image and for that, I am so thankful even in spite of the sometimes painful journey.