Thursday, October 13, 2011

No, really, all is not "Fine"

I read this blog post titled "Why Are You Crying" from Paulo Coelho today and it really struck a cord with me. Maybe you, too, have noticed that there are a lot of folks out there who are hurting. In going through my own life-changing crisis I would too often get a shocked response from people who knew me about how they had no idea things were as bad as they were.  Why do we hide our suffering?  I can't speak for everyone, but I can share a few of my reasons and perhaps others can relate:

**I didn't want to admit the truth to myself - much less anyone else.
Acknowledging the truth of a situation carries a certain level of responsibility and call to action that I wanted to avoid. After all not EVERYTHING was bad in my life. And it seemed self-centered to focus on the bad when I had so many blessings to count.

**I didn't want to burden others with my problems.
Everyone has their own problems to worry about. Why should I be so selfish as to add to their struggles by dumping mine on them?

**I didn't want to risk the consequences of having to face up to what was going wrong in my life.
I was afraid that if I acknowledged what was going wrong my friends would not let me just slide by anymore.

**I didn't want to "air all our dirty laundry" for the whole world to see.
Was it really anybody's business - all the trouble we were having?

**I was afraid if I was honest about what was happening I would "absolutely lose it."
I knew that if I came out and acknowledge the struggles we were facing that I would break down emotionally.  There were times when I couldn't envision ever recovering from all the pent up tears.

I am sure that others have their own reasons for hiding their pain.  My thought in response to Paulo Coelho's post is that it may not have completely been the generous friend's fault that he did not know his friend was in need. And, my other thought is that I am so grateful that when I was finally able to acknowledge my pain and suffering that my own generous friends and relatives stepped forward to support me. God-willing I want one day to be in the position to be the generous friend and hopefully, I can be observant and present to encourage my friends not to wait until the need is dire before reaching out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear God, "Ouch."

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26

I don't know about you, but there are often times when I just don't know what to say to God. Times when all of the "junk" of life just seems to bombard me at the same time. Some of the junk is big and some is small. Some of it involves pain and suffering I see in loved ones around me. And some of it I face myself. Any one of these could probably be kept in proper perspective and dealt with accordingly - if they happened one at a time. But I've noticed that Life's challenges rarely line up that nicely. No, instead they come in waves - and not just small waves - tsunami size waves of full of pain, suffering, regret, deceit, broken-hearts, broken spirits. 

It is immensely over-whelming and all I can do is to cry out. Lately when these waves have hit the only word I could think of was "Ouch." Because it hurt so much. Romans 8:26 gives me reassurance that my "Ouch" is more than enough. God knows how much hurt and grief are packed into that small inadequate word. All the myriad of details and history and misunderstanding and longing. God gets it. Which is good because I don't. And then I can rely on God's promise in Corinthians 4:8-9,  " We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 

Which reminds me of the song "Trading My Sorrows" by Delirious. Here are the words - hopefully they can bless you as they have often blessed me when Life's Tsunami waves hit.

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord
 

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord
yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord
yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, amen
 

I am pressed but not crushed
persecuted, but not abandoned
struck down, but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse,
for His promise will endure
and His joy will be my strength
 

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning.

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord
yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord
yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord, amen (2x)

I am pressed but not crushed
persecuted, but not abandoned
struck down, but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse,
for His promise will endure
and His joy is going to be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning.

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord (2x)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whining to God

Okay, so we are now 12 days into Lent and I'd like to say that I am flying through this season without a hitch. I've already told you about how I gave up my personal Facebook time for Lent. What I didn't really give proper thought to was what would replace that time. I know that what I SHOULD have done was planned to spend more time in reflection or reading my Bible or substitute some other discipline that would help grow my relationship with God.

Instead I have whined - A LOT - about what I'm not able to share on FB. But if my whining is to God - couldn't that be considered a kind of prayer? And then, that's not completely wasting all of my time for spiritual and personal improvement, right? (Yes, I am looking for someone to validate my whining.)


I have been good and have not been on my Facebook page. And I MISS IT!! What I miss is not Farmville or Frontierville - my two biggest time wasters on Facebook. What I DO miss is sharing stuff with my FB friends. Some of the things I share could be considered more important than others. For instance, I love to tell folks Happy Birthday. And, I don't just post "Happy Birthday" on their walls either. Oh, no, I post the entire Happy Birthday song for them.  And when I do I sing it in my head. Fortunately for them it sounds much better in print. In my head I usually hear the stork from Dumbo singing happy birthday to him when he is delivered to his mother. I feel remorse over not being able to wish my FB friends Happy Birthday. So for all of you on FB who have birthdays this Lent - this is for you: Happy Birthday to you!! Happy Birthday to you!! Happy Birthday, dear (insert name here)!! Happy Birthday to you!!



I keep hoping God will pipe up and say "It's okay to wish so-and-so Happy Birthday on FB today." But that hasn't happen yet.

There are also informative things I like to share through Facebook. For instance, this Saturday, March 26 (my Dad's birthday, incidentally - no worries, I usually call him in person since he doesn't have a FB account) - anyway, this Saturday at 8:30pm folks around the world will celebrate Earth Hour 2011. What is Earth Hour? Well, you can click here to find out: http://www.worldwildlife.org/sites/earthhour/index.html. Basically everybody agrees for one hour to turn their lights off to show support for our planet. It's a great cause and a great way to draw attention to our need for change. Check out the video for Earth Hour 2011 below  - it's cool and inspiring. (Maybe there's a chance my FB friends will see this???? And share it??? Just wondering.....)


In the grand Facebook scheme - I don't have a lot of FB friends - less than 300. About 99% of them I have actually met in person and probably more than 50% I am either related to or see on a regular basis - ie lots of cool churchy friends (love you guys!!).  These are people I want to interact with and share stories with and do stuff with.


Which leads me to admit, that one of the biggest things I miss sharing - rather selfishly - is stuff about me. You know, the daily 'this is what's on my list, this is what's annoying me, this is what I thought was cool today', kind of stuff. Because I love when my friends respond to what I post!! And, maybe somewhat less selfishly I have to admit that I miss finding out what's happening with all my FB friends at their end of the internet. 
Just so you know, I didn't give up Facebook for Lent because I think Facebook is bad. Quite the opposite. I am a huge propopent of Social Networking - and Facebook in particular - and I have enough to say about it that I should probably save it for it's own blog post. I gave it up because it is something that has a great potential to have TOO much significance in my life and I needed some time to figure out how to keep it in the proper perspective. And considering all the whining I've been doing these past 12 days it was probably a wise choice.

Well - only 28 more days to go - not that I'm counting or anything.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No - I am not cheating - at least not on purpose.......

Soooo, I "gave up" Facebook for Lent a whole 27 hours ago - not that I'm keeping track or anything. And it's been a learning experience already. I know that I spend a lot of my time on Facebook. If not actively engaged in it, at least having a window open in the background so that I could see what was happening with folks and pages that I like to follow. **sigh** I also manage my church's Facebook and Twitter accounts - and they are doing a Lenten study which requires that I post regular questions and quotes for them. So, I had to be specific about avoiding my personal Facebook - and not the church's page. BTW - you can visit that page here: http://www.facebook.com/FUMCCheyenneWY.  So far my method is to quickly post what I need through the church's account and then get off. Anyway, it's just not the same, because as cool as I think my church is - their presence on Facebook is vastly different than mine.

What I did not think of when I made the decision to abstain from my personal Facebook account was just how much of what I do is linked to Facebook. I like to use Foursquare on my Droid (that's my Droid HTC Increbible Smartphone to be precise.) Want to learn more - check out this link: http://foursquare.com/. It let's you "check-in" to different businesses and venues around town and share it with friends who also use Foursquare - AND it let's you share those check-ins with your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Kinda like ultimate social networking multi-tasking with one click. So, is it cheating if I still check-in on Foursquare and it posts to my Facebook account?  I really, really want the answer to be "no."

Another thing that I use that automatically posts to my Facebook and Twitter accounts is THIS BLOG!! Now this gives me an even bigger quandary because one of my additional goals during Lent was to work on blogging more regularly. So, am I subconsciously undermining one goal by replacing it with another? Why does this have to be so hard?

I really hope that God understands what I am trying to do - even if maybe I don't. And I'm going to try to be more patient with myself - after all, I'm really just getting started with this.  The bright side is I only have 38 days and 21 hours to go!!

Pray for me.

Mark Your Calendars! - Ultimate Blog Party 2011

It's coming - soon! And I'm very excited. Check out this link and join me and thousands of other bloggers beginning on  April 1 - no foolin'!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nobody Special

Ever have one of those days - or maybe weeks....or months when you just don't feel special - or even significant? Oh, well, you know, me neither.

Right.

Okay, so, maybe it does happen occasionally. Like many women closer to "middle-aged" than I care to admit I find myself asking "Just what have I done with my life?"  When I compare myself to seeming "successful" women in the world it is rather depressing. Nothing stellar in the occupation department (legal assistant-NOT lawyer, and part-time to boot), definitely lots of work to do in the healthy/physically fit department (won't even get started on listing this one), less-than-perfect kids(only slightly less-than-perfect), less-than-perfect faith in God(Oy, vey) and the list goes on.

For crying out loud - how did I end up to be 40+ and I still haven't got it all figured out?


When I'm really having a hard day I can let the most ridiculous things drag me down. I was washing dishes the other night (oh, yes, housework - another arena for much self-flagellation) and for some reason I started thinking about the D.A.R. - you know, the Daughters of the American Revolution? To belong to the D.A.R. you have be able to trace your family tree back someone who lived in the U.S.A. at the time of the American Revolution. My own three daughters, supposedly, could belong to the D.A.R. if they wished. But not because of me. Nope. Their membership qualifications come through their father's side of the family. All of my ancestors, that I know of, came to the United States too durned late. Maybe that's why procrastination is another of my life's challenges. It seems silly to let myself feel inconsequential because the D.A.R. is picky about their membership. As U.S. citizens my daughter's are special because of that historical connection. And me - well, not so much.

Now, one of the things that I don't beat myself up over (too much) is knowing that I am smart - at least somewhat smart. And being somewhat smart, I know that I can't just measure myself up against what the world tells me makes me special or worthy. And, I am smart enough to know that in many ways I am my own worst enemy, because when my narcissitic, low-self-esteem kicks in, it can be rather difficult to believe the tiny voice inside my head saying, "No, you really are special! Don't listen to them!" It gets drowned out very easily. The world is LOUD. So, I find myself incredibly grateful that in spite of my less-than-perfect faith God constantly finds ways to break through all the surrounding noise and reminds me just how special I am.

I am special - to my daughters. I get regular reminders in the form of cheerful greetings when I walk in the door from being gone. My 6-year-old draws me beautiful pictures for my fridge. My 14-year-old sends me funny texts. My heart swells with happiness when I call my College Girl and she greets me with a cheerful "Hi, Mommy!!" I will NEVER be tired of hearing my girls call me "Mommy." Usually I am just "Mom", but Mommy is something special and tells me that they still need me. I like that.

I am valuable(it seems weird to say I'm special to them) - to my employers. My personal goal at work is to help take the load off of the full-timers, so that their days are easier and more productive. I'm still here after nine-years, so it must be okay with them, too. I work part-time because I choose to work part-time. It means that I give up some things materially due to reduced income, but what I gain is exponentially worth every cent in the form of time with my family

I am (working on being) special - to myself. I hit the big "4-0" a few years ago and realized that if I don't get busy taking better care of myself I might not get the chance at another 40+ years. And I want that chance. So, I'm working on making better choices in diet and exercise and sleeping enough.

I am special  - to God. When He makes me sit down and recite the list of how special I am, the tiny voice in my head gets much more powerful and the noises of the world's judgment are muted out. I can't justify why He cares so much - I am just so immensely grateful that He gave me the faith to believe that He does!!

I will close with the words of song that I found very inspirational the other day. My 6-year-old's choir group sang it at church. Afterwards I walked away, humming it, and feeling very good about who I am.


THE BUTTERFLY SONG
(If I Were a Butterfly)
Words and Music by Brian M. Howard
If I were a butterfly
I'd thank you Lord for giving me wings
If I were a robin in a tree
I'd thank you Lord that I could sing
If I were a fish in the sea
I'd wiggle my tail and I'd giggle with glee
But I just thank you Father for making me, me

CHORUS     
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were an elephant
I'd thank you Lord by raising my trunk
If I were a kangaroo
You know I'd hop right up to you
If I were an octopus
I'd thank you Lord for my fine looks
But I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were a wiggly worm
I'd thank you Lord that I could squirm
If I were a fuzzy, wuzzy bear
I'd thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair
If I were a crocodile
I'd thank you Lord for my great smile
But I just thank you Father for
making me, me