Over the last several weeks I have been contemplating the arrival of a new year. So much has happened over these last few years, and my family has definatley experienced it's share of ups and downs. It seems I have come the point where most everything stresses me out and I am confused about what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. It seems we are kind of stuck in a holding pattern, and waiting on a clear course of action to present itself. My husband isn't in the best work evironment. He has to deal with some stresses and issues that are unfair and harsh. I have a work environment that flows both ways. While I enjoy my job most of the time, I find my line of work really makes me struggle with my ability to be a softer person. It kind of makes me hard. I have had a few disappointments and issues that have really angered and upset me in the past several months. We have not put down any roots where we are living. We have made no real friends, and cannot seem to find any place where we really fit in. We want to offer more to the world than what we are doing here. We feel like we have more purpose. Now don't get me wrong, my husband and I both do all we can to help others. I pray everyday before I leave my house that God will give me an opportunity to do something for someone else. But how amazing it would be for this mentality to become our way of life. We both belive we are meant for more.
While thinking about the upcoming New Year, I have been round and round with all the things I would like to accomplish. We have the ever famous get into shape, spend more quality time with my family, think before I open my mouth, pray before I open my mouth (and all of you who know me well are either laughing or saying AMEN at this point). But what I really want is to stop depending on myself. I think the reason I am so stressed and get upset so easily is because I expect to do everything right, and to fix all my problems. I put too much trust in my own abilities. I really want to start concentrating on the right things again, and all these petty surroundings may be taking my eyes off a higher goal. Now don't get me wrong here, I still do not believe God just comes in and orchastrates every move we make. We have common sense, free will, motivation, and the desire to create. God gave us all these for a purpose. But what I am finding is this. God allows us to be in a particular place for a particual purpose. All the irritations and discoragments are only taking our eyes off of what we may be there to accomplish. We were never promised a perfect life. It is the hard times, the discouragements, the injustices we experience, and the failures that truly teach us and cause us to grow. My real resolution for this New Year is to learn to walk in love and humility and depend on the One from whom I can draw real strength and direction. I am learning not only to trust but to really love Him again, and this year I want that to grow on a daily basis. Now let me clarify this again. This in no way, shape or form means I have any desire to dive back into religion. In fact this is quite the opposite. I do not want to be known as a Christian or a member of a specific denomoniation or religious establishment. I want to be known as someone who shows a love and peace that is uncommon in today's society. I want to keep my mouth shut and my heart open. I want to depend on God's grace to get me through my day and not my own strength. I want to make choices that I want to see my children follow after. I want to bring honor to my husband by being the wife he deserves. I want people to know I am different and I don't want it to have a thing to do with what I say, but because of how I live. I feel a change coming to our home. I have for a while. But I feel that change is starting inside. I think there are some changes I need to make internally before God completes any changes for us externally. I am wanting to learn to let go of the things that don't really matter, and hold on with all my strength to the ones that do.
Like everyone else I have no clue what 2013 will hold. But my prayer and my desire for the year that follows is that while I will try to be physically healthy, that I work on keeping my spirit just as strong and healthy. While I want to have happy peaceful life, that I will bring joy and peace to those around me. Do I want to move, and get new jobs, and make friends, and find a church we can feel a part of, and feel like we are contributing to the lives of other? Of course I do, but I am not going to stress over it. I am going to keep walking this path He has put us on and trust that all those doors will open when we are ready for them to. And until then I will be thankful for all we have. Jobs that actually pay us (and not too shabbily), a nice home in a safe neighborhood, and pretty good schools for our kids. We have a great family. I love my kids so much! We think our kids are the greatest (even when they may not be). My husband is so good to all of us. And I know how fortunate we are to have a home that is peaceful. There isn't a bunch of fighting and arguing like so many people experience. I have so many things to be thankful for. So as this year closes, I will count my blessing, realize that the troubles we have experienced are helping us grow, and keep my thoughts and energies focused on more than this day to day life!
I just came in from a beautiful walk. The clouds were low and gray. I love the smell of leaves and wood burning in the neighbor's fireplaces. The trees were so vibrant with all the oranges, reds, and golds with just enough green left to make me slightly mourn the passing of summer. Yet how can you mourn the loss of the green in comparison to the brillance of fall. The cool crisp air blowing across my face was exhilerating. And the music put my soul in harmony with the beauty around me. I went on my walk to get out of being frustrated and it seemed to really help. I always think best outside! I have been really irrated this weekend. It seems sometimes where the kids are concerned we can give, give, give and we can never do good enough by them. You know, I don't know a single adult who doesn't have some complaint about how they were raised. Whether good or bad, no one seems satisfied, and kids today aren't going to be any different than the rest of us. With everyone of my children I can pinpoint numerous things I have done wrong, but I can also name many I have done right. If there is one thing I can say with 100% assurance is I have loved them from the bottom of my heart and would place eveyone of them before me. I accept them in their shortcomings and failures as much as in thier acheivements and triumphs! Parenting is hard. I think it gets harder as it goes. The older they get the more difficult it can become. It is wonderful to see their successes, but when they waiver from the path they should be on, it is hard. When you see pain and dissolution creep in and you have no power to step in and protect them it is so difficult. When they make choices you do not agree with but cannot change it breaks your heart! I just want real closeness as a family. No secrets and putting each one ahead of ourselves. I get mad at myself when I feel I am not being appreceiated because I feel like even in that feeling I am being selfish. But I sure did enjoy my time to talk to God today. I am finding so much more peace in Him here lately. And even if it is a temporary reprieve from the daily frustrations, it is enough strength to move me through the day. I really want to give my children this knowledge of who God is and how He wants to be a constant abiding part of our lives, but I don't want them to think that means He is just going to fix everything and make our lives prosper and be easy going. I find I like sitting with Jesus in the dirt. Finding His peace in the real world. I want to pass things on to them that are really going to count. I am just hoping they are learning.
I have recently read a number of articles about women who have been survivors of abuse. Then the other morning while listening to the radio on my drive to work, the dj was taking callers talking about how they retaliated against their spouse or significant other. I could not believe these callers! One woman said she runs her husband's toothbrush around the inside rim of the toilet when she is mad at him. Then I started thinking about a lot of the people we are aquaintances with and how they treat one another and I realized abuse is not just a male on female problem anymore!
I have definately been a survivor of an abusive relationship. I think what a lot of people fail to recognize when they think about this type of behavior (both given and recieved) is the effects are long term and pshcological for both the abuserer and the enabler. The real pain of abuse is not the bruises or physical scars, but the shattered heart, loss of self worth, and tearing down of one's soul. I am convinced that the vast majority of people today live in abusive relationships and don't even recognize it because our culture is becoming so "me" centered it has become the norm. How many people are insulted or belittled by their partner? How many are made to feel less that whole, or as if they just can't do good enough? How many are constantly nagged at and told what to do and who they should be by an inconsiderate significant other? And in my observations it seems women are becoming worse than men at being mentally and emotionaly abusive. It is a crying shame that we cannot treat those closest to our hearts with the love and respect they deserve!
Men, that woman you have at home taking care of your children, cooking your meals, doing your laundry, running your errands, cleaning your house, and doing every other job you cannot find time to do needs to know how much she is loved and appreciated. What you may never realize is that the weight she carries on a day to day basis far surpasses the stresses of your 9-5. Help her. Do your share. Let her know what a great job she does and what she means to you! By God if you don't..... one day someone else will.
Women, that man who loves you and does his best to provide and care for you, give him some space to be a man. Quit reminding him of all he hasnt accomplished and start thanking him and appreciating him for what he has. Quit trying to run his life and trust him to do the right thing.
I realize most of us come from some broken relationship, some set of lies that have been given us, betrayal that has been laid upon us and abuse that has damaged who we are. But we have to allow the experiences we have had to make us stronger and wise. Don't lay the blame of the past on someone not guilty. Don't treat someone with mis-trust and dis-respect because it is a learned behavior from a past relationship. If you are currently in this type of relationship and you see no hope of change GET OUT!!! If you are unable to talk to your partner about these destructive traits the earlier you leave the less damage that will be done to you and your family. I stayed in my abusive realationship for years because I thought that was best for my children. I nearly ruined their lives and mine in the process. It took me years to find that I am worthy of love and I am a person I can feel good about. If you are staying for your children then you are only hurting them. They are learning behaviors they will carry into their future relationships, and whether you are the abuser or the abused you are equally as guilty for the effects on their lives. I was the abused and I hold myself more accountable than my ex for not giving my children a functional life years ago.
Finally, do not be afraid to love again! There is someone out there who will love and appreciate you and build you up instead of tear you down. When you find that person who is your best friend, your advocate in every situation, and who cannot hurt you even when they are upset with you, you take that person for who they are and invest all you have into them. The key to a healthy happy relationship is two people who think about the other first. When that person comes along don't let your scars keep you from them. Let the pain of the past make you all the more grateful for the type of love you deserve!
I am very fortunate that I have been given a "time out" this week. A time out from work and the normal stresses of life. My husband has rented us a beautiful home right on the sound. I have a kayak, a private wooded yard, and a hot tub. The best thing is I don't have to listen to the phone ring, client's cuss, employees bicker, or the bosses asking me to move mountains! I don't have to worry about where my bad debt is, how many emails I am going to get in the next hour telling me things I have known for the past 8 years, or figure out how I am going to work another auction and 3 more branches into my already busting schedule! I can instead be grateful that I am working a job with some flexibility and making the money we need to make ends meet and to afford to escape once or twice a year. But on the flip side, I have to wonder...... Is it worth the stress and fast pace for these things? Is there another path waiting for us to follow it? All the truly important things in our lives do not revolve around money. I have great kids! Sometimes they are rude and have some attitudes. Often they don't clean up their rooms or even behind themselves. But realistically these are the worst of our problems with them. They are great though. I have a great husband. He always puts us first and I never knew a realtionship could be so great. I can honestly say he completes me no matter how cheesy that may sound. We are growing in our spiritual relationships, as a family, a couple and individuals. I feel I know God better now than ever. And having this time to clear my mind I find that I feel better today than I have felt in months. The stress between my job and the job my husband works has litterally been eating me alive. I think that may be part of why I have been sick lately. So I have made a few decisions today. 1. I am glad my husband is finishing some advanced training and am praying his hard work lands him the job of his dreams! 2. I am going to start some training of my own. The college money didn't work out for me so I am going to hit some real estate courses first, and then some tax or accounting classes after that. I need to not think that just because I have started across the bridge labeled with a BIG 4-0 that I am too old to change directions! 3. I am going to learn SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY to manage my stress better. I put too much of myself into things that are neither noticed or appreciated by others. I am going to redirect some of that energy into making our lives better. 4. Life is too short to not appreciate and grasp every moment. I am going to live with a greater focus on the good. And find some way to make a bit of "down time" every day. Now if it seems like I am rambling AGAIN, it may just be the pina colada talking..... but more thant the pina colada I think it may be the inner me!
What's saving my life right now?
What's saving my life right now? Saving my life from what you might think? I am in a stage of life where the saving is no longer from the big things, but from the constant ones. Saving my life from frustrations with my work environment. Saving my life from worries over my children who are all now (or quickly becoming) teenagers. Saving my life over concerns since my husband just recieved a pay cut at work. Saving my life (and the life of my neighbor's dog) who tore up our gardnen last night. Saving my life over my frustrations, doubts and fears? I actually have several things saving my life....
1. My past saves my life. My past was excrutiting to say the least. I lived in so much pain and sorrow I litterally prayed God would take me and my children all at once in some accident. And I prayed this almost on a daily basis. Everytime I start to think things are rough, I go back and think on what God has bought me out of and things do not look so bleak anymore!
2. My family. I look at my husband and children and the loving and peaceful relationships we have and know that every ounce of energy I apply to the things in my life is not only for me, but mostly for them! That makes even the most difficult days look worthwhile.
3. My faith. My faith has evolved and grown into something deeply personal. Jesus has taken on a whole new identity to me outside of the church's picture of who He is. I know that He is truly with me in all the shortcomings and fits of anger I go through. He becomes more and more a source of strength for me as the days go past. Even when I am sitting in church and asking Him how He is coping with His misrepresentation?
I guess this is short and to the point. But this is the glue that holds me together. Another great thing is the ability to share these blogs and thoughts and find I am not alone in how I feel or even who I am. I have found a host of others with similar thoughts, ideas, and beliefs which has given me a new connection I feel have lacked for a very long time. We need an attachment to others and that is the hardest thing to find. Exspecially for someone who chooses to think on their own, and follow their heart.
I have found here lately, that I have really been drawn back to living my life by faith. My faith. What I believe to be true, and what works for me. But here is the thing, it isn't like the faith I had in the past. You know that kind of faith, where you move willlessly, and thoughtlessly ahead beacause you believe that making decisions based on what you have learned is what God wants you to do? Yeah, I have lost that type of faith and replaced it with a new one. I have struggled with my beliefs for a number of years, and find that I am finally back on the uphill climb to renewing my spiritual side. I have decided through all the trials and tribulations that life can bring, that I do believe in God. I believe in Jesus and the example He set for us. I believe we are here to be a part of a family. Not just a family of people who believe like we do, worship like we do, and live like we do, but a family of human beings who share the same needs, wants, and desires. Who have the need to love and to be loved. I don't want to be that shallow person who says my way is the right way, the only way, and if you do not conform to it you will be lost to hell forever. Part of my faith is that God is bigger than all the religion we create, than all of the holy writings we validate, and of all the rules and regulations we claim God imposes. I have found that so many differnt faiths share the basic outline of beliefs. And I think we all have part of it right, and part of it wrong. I believe that different forms of worship are necessary, because we are not all the same, and do not all respond to the same stimuli. I do not have the exact same relationship with each of my children. Susie and I talk about differnt things than Emily or Jacob or Mariah and I do. Matt and Mark and Ike all have different things they like to do when we spend time together. We resond to each other differently based on our personalities and who we are. I show love to my children differntly. I have different expectations for my children, based on abiilities, age, maturity, and where they are in life. I believe God is no different. I am someone different to each one of them. I believe not two of my children would descibe me exactly the same, and I believe each one of them knows things about me and has a view of who I am that the other's do not fully have. How can someone as big as God, not be this way as well? I do not want to take someone else's opinion of who God is and make it my own. I want to be like my kids. I want to have such a relationship with Him, that I know Him for myself. That I know what we have and who we are together and the popular opinion of the church, my friends, or my community does not make me waver in what I know my God is to me. I have had several opportunities in the recent past to discuss religion with several different types of faiths. Both Jehovah's Witness and Mormon. We even attended a Morman church. (And for all my old hard line fundamental friends out there, demons did not attack us and we were not led off the straight and narrow! LOL) In my ridgid days of faith I would not have dared to educate myself on these matters. It would be putting my soul in danger to listen to these "false doctorines". What a sad thing that I used to believe. I found that those who believe differently than I have just as solid of a belief in their system. They love God, and want to please Him and commune with Him in a way that is comfortable and familiar to them. Now experiencing their form of worship did not lure me their side, in fact it had the opposite affect on me. It made my realize how I am comfortable with corporate worship, and what my personal beliefs are concerning God, His desires for my life, His plans for my future, and His plans for my afterlife. I am content and at peace with what I believe. Just as my friends of different faith are at peace in their relationships with the same God I serve. I have come to the conclusion that God does not demand faith from us for Him, but for us. God wants us to have faith because He knows that is what we hold onto when the waters get rough. Faith is how we live outside our flesh and connect to a Creator that we do not have the ability to see with human eyes. Faith that He is above all is what gives us the ability to forgive and love those around us. That is the kind of faith we all need. I want to put my faith in a loving, living God who is bigger than a title. I want to follow after a God who does not segregate us by the names of Christian, Jew, Morman, Athiest, Wiccan, Humanist, Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bi-Sexual, rich or poor. I want to have faith in and follow this God who chooses to love ALL of his children. My personal belief is that He speaks to each one us in the way He knows we will respond to. Even more than we know the hearts of our children, God knows the hearts of His. My ever expanding faith is allowing me to see that He is so much bigger and better than we give Him credit for. I am so enjoying re-establishing my relationship with Him. And I am enjoying the freedom to discuss my beliefs and opinions with others without the need to be right, or trying to convince them to come to my way of doing things. I believe God draws men and we are to only love and guide those who are seeking.
My husband and I work very hard to teach all of our children to have a good work ethic. This is a character trait that follows you into every corner of your life. We want them to understand the importance and benefits of applying yourself 100% in everything you do, and how not doing this can really hold you back once you leave your parent's home and become part of the REAL world. Unfortunately this is becoming harder and harder to teach. We can definately pound in the personal benefits of working your hardest. How much better you will run your home, how much stronger your relationships will be when you work hard on taking care of those around you. How much better you will feel about yourself because you know you are giving all you have to give. But unfortunately we almost feel like liars when we try to teach them that working hard and preforming the best is going to take them somewhere financially and in the work place. Just look around at society today and it speaks the opposite. And I bet over 75 percent of you have already witnessed this in your work places. I know people on welfare who have easier, more stress free lives than most of us who pull our blue collar fourty. And to top it all off they drive nicer cars and have more luxuries than many of us who work our lives away. And let there be someone who is caught in the welfare game who wants to get it out. It doesn't take them long to realize it is almost useless. They can do so much better doing nothing, than trying to make a living on minimum wage. Look at how we idolize and make rich those who entertain us. What about those who perform mundane services? Which could you go without longer? Hearing your favorite musicain come out with a new song, or having your sanitation worker show up at your home to take your trash? Or how about all these buffoons on capital hill getting paid the Big Bucks for running this country while we have hard working men out there putting thier very lives on the line for our freedom who are struggling to pay thier bills. What about scholarship and grant programs that have to have a certain diversity level, so the strongest get left behind so no one can cry discrimiation? It has hit our public school systems as well. I am poud of my kids for doing so well. My daughter even ended her middle school years with a 4.0. But the classes have been so dumbed down, and with the no child left behind kids are taught early they don't have to give their best.And when they do excel in today's classroom I still have to wonder how good of an education they are actually recieving. Last year at orientation one of the teachers even told us he doesn't give zeros. If a name is on the paper and something has been attempted the will get a passing grade. How does this teach children that they need to work? My oldest son who is still living at home faced this reality in school already. He is involved in JROTC and does very well. He has worked hard in school and has honor roll every grading period. He has never gotten into trouble or been involved in any problems there. But this year a girl who was suspened from school was promoted to a rank higher than his. Of course kids talk about her "promotion" and the assumed reasons behind it. And how do I look my seventeen year old son in the face and lie and tell him they are probably wrong, when deep down I know they are probably right? It was a hard lesson for him to learn and I was afraid he would stop trying so hard, but to his credit, he just kept doing what he does and didn't give less of himself. I guess I am glad he learned this now, so when it happens in his carreer he will already know the routine. I see it often in our lives in in the lives of our friends. The key to success isn't so much what you give, but how you play the game. It's more about who you know or who you blow. I still struggle with watching people who know nothing and have not put in any hard work getting promoted above people who have spent years being faithful to a company, just because of their "connections". Or to see someone come in off the street and play such a smooth game they move ahead of others who have put in heart and soul without asking for reward. Society has this work thing ass backwards! But still we will strive everyday to teach our children to be all they can be. To go home and night and when they lie down be satisfied that they gave all God put in them in every aspect of thier lives. That all the bills that were paid, and things they purchased they truley EARNED and didn't just OBTAIN. And I pray that these same traits are passed on and taught to our grandchildren as well. And aside from the same frustrations that we face watching the lack of respect for work ethic that they will take pride and satisfaction with the quality of thier lives rather the recognition of what they give.