God Help Me

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​How can my daughter be so little and so big at the same time? I watch her sleep all curled up in her crib still small enough to fit sideways. But then I think about how much she can say and do. How do I let her grow and flourish when I wish she could stay little like this longer?

I constantly fight off panic as a parent. Nothing good ever comes of panic. She’s innocent and helpless. The choices I make can affect her. My mistakes can affect her even though she had nothing to do with them. Little things can spiral out of control. But while my fears may be legitimate I can’t be ruled by them.

We are human. We make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make us bad people but we need to own them not try to hide them. That is where things get messy. Our children can learn from our mistakes and hopefully avoid them or they can feel inferior to parents busy hiding their flaws.

I’m a people pleaser. I worry to much about what people think. Every mistake I make feels like failure. But I can’t let it define me. Let it go. Learn from it. And hope for the best. God has a good plan for my life and a few mistakes won’t stop him. He knows I’m flawed. I’m sure he prepared for it. 

I know I’m going on and on about mistakes. I tend to get stuck in a loop of past actions. I over analyze making minor things into major ones. But I will leave you with one more thought. When we get sick  it’s because our immune system failed. However, many illnesses you can only catch once because the body compensates. Antibodies strengthen the body against the failure so you won’t get sick again. I like to treat mistakes this way. Yeah, I fail from time to time but it makes me more vigilant and more compassionate. It makes me a better person and hopefully a better parent. God help me.

The Return of…

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Mike has finally gone back to work which is great. Now we just need to readjust to opposing work schedules and intentionally make time for each other. When Corinne is awake it is all about her but when she’s asleep even if we are doing our own stuff in the same room it’s nice to be together. And we will still have a day or two off together during the week. We made it before we will make it work again.

With his income back and a little extra from my two jobs I’m hoping with a little discipline we can undo the financial damage over the next year. We need to get back on track and back to our lives and goals. Mathematically the last four months shouldn’t have worked out as well as they did but our family and friends really stepped up to support us. And God did some weird things with math too.  He really provided what we needed even if it wasn’t how we expected it.

My desperation is fading quickly as I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Take heart. God doesn’t love me any more than anyone else. If He carried us through this, He will get you through your struggles too if you trust Him and follow His lead. That is the scary part but it is always worth it in the end.

Adjusting

​I just watched The Vow again. It’s one of my favorite movies and it’s based on a true story. It’s a love story so of course it’s romantic. But what I love about this movie is that the romance is more that superficial. There are multiple examples of what love really is and means on different levels. When Leo finds out his wife Paige doesn’t remember him he tries so hard to make her fall in love with him again. And when that doesn’t work he lets her go even though that is the last thing he wants but it is what she needs to find herself. Spoiler alert: eventually she does fall back in love with him even though she never remembers what they had.

Then there are Paige’s parents. At first they try to take her home and love on her in the way they used to. To recreate the life and the daughter they had. But they learn to accept her for who she is now.  Also Spoiler alert: Her dad had an affair and her mom chose to forgive him because he realized what a colossal mistake he made. She chooses to forgive him because of all the things he did right not dump him for one mistake albeit a major one. Paige doesn’t understand this. She feels betrayed because no one told her that was why she left in the first place. Even Leo knew but he didn’t tell her because he wanted her love but not at the expense of her cutting ties with her family again.

Love is hard. But it’s worth it. And love like that lasts a lifetime, no matter what obstacles get in the way. 

But How?

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I have a co-worker who is turning out to be a good friend even though we haven’t known each other long. She’s always asking me how I’m doing, how I’m feeling. She’s approachable and sincere so I’m honest. The last time she asked me I told her how stressed I was. She knows my drama. Then she asked me how we can reduce my stress. Here is someone I’ve only known at work for a matter of weeks and she genuinely wanted to help me.

She’s a pastor’s wife so again it was easy to be honest. I said, “If I would just learn to trust God that would help.” I’ve grown up sitting in God’s lap. He’s always been there, always taken care of us. Things have gotten pretty messed up and fierce. No matter how bad it got, how dark it looked we always came out on the other side, sometimes better off. I know God will always take care of me and the ones I love. He always has and he won’t stop now. I get anxious about how. How is God going to fix this? I know he will but how?

I know I’m not supposed to be anxious. I know it’s unnecessary. What I don’t know is how to stop stressing and let the trust truly sink I in.

Metamorphosis

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I’m changing. Evolution is an inevitable force. You must adapt to changing circumstances if you want to survive. Sometimes we like the changes, sometimes we don’t. And more often than not we are unsure whether the changes are good or bad. The trick is finding a core to hold on to. What makes us who we are and keeps us who we are despite the changes?

All I can see are my feet in front of me. I can’t see where I’m going only that I’m not going over a cliff. I know this is supposed to build faith and character but I hate it. I hate it. I know that God has always taken care of me and he still is. Our situation could be so much worse and it isn’t. I can’t ignore his hand in this but at the same time I don’t feel safe. I’m treading water and I can still breathe but I’m terrified of drowning.

We have worked so hard to get our finances under control. We’ve made so many stupid mistakes. And I can’t stand the thought of losing all our progress when all that would be left are the stupid mistakes. My world has been turned upside down in the last three months. I’m in a snow globe watching the pieces fall, fearing the next shake up that I know is coming. How can I stop being afraid? I know what I should say and think. But what do you do when the truth feels like a lie? I’m worn out.

I’m trying my best and it just isn’t enough. Confronting your darkest fears is so much cooler and easier on tv. All I can do is lift my eyes up to where my help comes from. Even if I’m crying and screaming at the sky, he hears me. He’s with me, standing behind me. Supporting me. This won’t be forever. We will make it out of this.

Love Backwards

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Why is it so difficult to love people who are different from us? It is easy to say we love them, even believe we do, but loving them well enough to change their lives is daunting. We spend so much energy focusing on how to change them, fix them, that we miss what they really need. To be loved for who they are. Now I know I’m no expert in loving people the right way all the time. I have a list of people I’d love to fix when I should just love them.

I have to be in control. That is what my core programming says. I have to fix everything and everyone and if I can’t, I’m a failure. The problem, of course, is reality.

I can’t change people.

And, oh, does that drive me up the wall and across the ceiling. God is the creator. He made people and he’s the only one who can change them. On top of that, the person had to agree to change. We spend so much energy focusing on how to fix the ones we care about that we make them feel broken, isolated, alienated. Oops.

We ignore the ones who are doing well, who fit our mold. Then they start acting out, angering us just to get our attention. Society has created a system where the squeaky wheel gets the grease while functioning parts fall into disrepair.

I digress. Step one is the hardest to get past. How to love people well enough to bring to their attention the dangerous, wrong behaviors we see. How can I love them without making them feel damaged or judged while not turning a blind eye entirely? Where is the line? I Need a process chart or timeline. How about a walk through? I’d settle for cheat codes. But we don’t get any of that. We are the cheat codes and walk throughs. We go through rough experiences so it builds compassion and strength of character in us. These are the tools for loving people like God wants us to.

Can someone please bumble through this with me so I’m not the only idiot trying to love someone backwards? In a world where we need to build up reasons to be loved I found someone who loves me for no reason and everyday I try to give him at least one. If we can do that for others how much better would the world be?

Love someone for no reason today, expect nothing back even if you feel like an idiot. You may just change the world.

Who Wants a Kidney?

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I’m worn. Mike’s surgery went well. He’s healing marvelously but he still has at least three weeks until he can return to work. He feels amazing. I’m drowning. The surgery was worth it to get my husband back but the cost has overwhelmed me almost daily.

This family, with the amount of debt we have collected, cannot run on one income, especially mine. I’m good with numbers but as hard as I work our budget I can’t stretch the money far enough. I’m trying alchemy and contemplating if I really need both my kidneys. I mean two kidneys is just being greedy right? But seriously, I know no matter what I do in this situation it’s not enough. That sounds hopeless. It feels hopeless. And that’s where I am wrong.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. He can’t fill what is already full. I get so caught up in the emptying, so frustrated that all the progress I’ve worked so hard for is gone that I lose sight of the rescue. I’m drowning, losing hope, ready to succumb to my failures and obstacles and my lungs won’t stop sucking air. Each breath hurts worse than the last and only prolongs what feels like the inevitable. And then somehow when I really, REALLY, can’t take another breath God fishes me out of the drink. “Relax, I’ve got you.” He whispers. “You know I’d never let harm come to you.” We must have different definitions.

I can’t give up. I can’t do it. I’m hardwired stubborn. Failure may be an option I’m much too good at and sometimes I accept failures that aren’t mine but giving up has never been an option no matter how attractive. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the one who walked on stormy seas, then I too can quit drowning and do the impossible. I will not be in debt forever and debt will not be the legacy I leave my daughter. It may take longer than I want but we will make it out of this, and we will be stronger for it. Take courage and keep sucking air my friends.

Sticks and Stones

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. We grow up hearing it but most of us were too smart to believe it. Physical wounds heal much faster than emotional wounds. Cut me or bruise me but don’t tear down who I am. That is why self-mutilation is so popular in today’s youth.

I was one of them growing up. One of those lost souls who looked for a way to bleed out emotional pain the only way that felt effective. I grew up with brothers. I knew how to deal with physical pain. I was ill equipped to deal with the emotional pain.

Children of alcoholics will go one of two ways: into the bottle that destroyed their lives or away from it entirely. I was the latter. I lived in fear for years that if I drank, at all, I would become my mother. If I couldn’t hide from my pain with alcohol I needed another way to deal.  I decided I would turn my internal pain into external pain.

It was like a band-aid on a bullet hole. It covered the problem but I was slowly bleeding to death. The pain never went away. It only got worse. My story could have ended like so many, in tragedy. But it didn’t. I survived.

I had support. Even when I felt completely hopeless, alone, and not understood I was loved. God loved me enough to put people in my life that loved me. My parents were far from perfect but as alone as I felt I always knew I was loved. That was a big reason why I couldn’t end it. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear the thought of causing more pain. And I knew if I killed myself I would cause truckloads of pain for the people who loved me, whom I loved.

I was trying to live a lie: that what people thought and said didn’t matter to me. What brought me out? The truth. That what people said made a difference whether it should or not, true or not, but that it didn’t define me. I learned that I am more than what people tell me I am. I am everything God tells me I am. If I can alter myself for a lie, I can complete myself with the truth. I am loved. I am worthy of love. I can make the world a better place starting with myself because I am more than the lies told about me. Know that you are loved even if, like me, the truth is buried deep and love someone else so they can find the truth too.

God’s Math

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Life is rarely ever dull in my house. If it is we are probably sleeping. My husband has been off of work for about three weeks now and is scheduled for surgery next week. It hasn’t been a picnic but we are making it work. The last few days he’s been feeling better which is bringing my stress back into humanly acceptable levels. My parents have been invaluable during all of this and his parents are coming up for a week to help after the surgery. I am so grateful for the support system God has given us. So many of our friends lack this kind of support.

Our lives are not always smooth. Sometimes it feels like just when we start getting our act together and paying things down then some calamity befalls us. And yet God always provides. It may not be how we want his provision but it is always enough. Mike only had enough paid time off to cover part of his absence from work (which has been much longer than we ever thought it would be) but somehow, improbably, the bills are getting paid. I don’t know how we are going to pay the medical costs but I know God will take care of them as he has the smaller monthly costs. It never makes sense to me but I’ll take God’s math over mine any day.

Born or Made

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They say some leaders are born and some are made. I am closer to the latter. I have all the necessary traits of a leader except desire. I only step into leadership roles when no one else will. I’m much happier working behind the scenes serving and following.

My husband is always looking for new trails to blaze and ways to make things better.  He’s not good with following directions especially if he can’t see or understand the end game. Sometimes it feels like we are polar opposite. Nothing is ever good enough for him. Consistency isn’t his strong suit but he is passionate, driven, and clever. His brain puts things together in ways I’d never think of.

He’s always trying to get me out from under “the man.” The thing is, I’m unusually quite happy where I am. Together we could be amazing but getting us to focus on the same goal is like trying to harness goldfish. He’s passionate in one direction while I’m going another. He’s business centered; I’m all about people. It could work of only we could get our act together.

I think one of the most important traits of a leader is being able to recognize valuable talent and being able to mesh different types into a functioning whole. I could use a whole bunch of clichés right here but I’ll try to stick to one simple quote. “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.”

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