Monthly Archives: February 2013

When “snow” is in the forcast

This week I drove home in weather conditions I have not driven in a very long time. It was 12:30 in the morning on Tuesday eve (early Wednesday morning).  I left Morgantown and it was snowing so hard.  I decided to come home 43 and then 40.  I have learned that PA generally have the roads better maintained (Thank you Penn Dot) and 26 generally has more snow and therefore more snow to blow around1  Well, I really felt like I was driving through an unexplored galaxy.  I had no perception of where I was.  Landmark signs were not visible, the lines of the road could not be seen, and no other cars were on the road.  It was beautiful in a scary way.  I had turned off my radio, held tightly to the steering wheel, and just prayed and concentrated.  I was in the car, which is rear-wheel drive, but never felt it slide (or seen the little auto skid light kick on).

That night was a turning point mentally for me.  I had also just listened to a sermon archive from ElevationChurch about women and Proverbs 31.  It was one of those you just want to turn off because it hurt to listen to it.  In my last blog I talked about disappointment and that sermon made my expectations of being a Christian woman, Wife, Mom, and Employee come right into my face.  Several things (good and bad) have happened in the past few weeks prior.  I have:

  • developed this wonderful headache with some vision issues (which was really rough during the snow storm) and intermittent vertigo – bringing my health to surface again.
  • Received my beautiful surprise roses from my awesome husband on Valentines Day – making me look at my role as a wife
  • I have been over committed which took me away from home more than I realized – it brings my role as a mom to surface
  • Weekly something comes to light about my spiritual well being – “signs’ of where I need to be intentional on my convictions

That drive home feels like my daily life lately – going along with no sense of direction, landmarks and yellow lines to guide me are hidden / distorted.  I feel like I am headed into a tundra alone with all of my commitments just coming at me.  Often, as much as I hate to admit it, I feel alone.   I just make it by one day after day after day.  A week can pass by and I have no idea where the time went, where I had been, and note everything left undone.

I remember when my Grandma Frazee got her black/white TV.  We would get so frustrated when the antenna wasn’t turned right and all we would get was “snow”.  I even remember people getting on the roof to turn the antenna on the roof to get better reception.  The snow on the TV blocked us from seeing what we wanted to see and needed to see.

Lately my vision of life has been completely “off”.  My perception of where I should be is “snowy” and difficult to see.  I am getting by day-by-day, instead of living with passion!   I know who and what I say I love in life, but when I look at my life, I am not sure it may be evident.  Lately, I have been consumed with some issues and they have blocked my vision.  I couldn’t get passed them.  Some days, I found it hard to concentrate on my grateful list because I was becoming consumed with the “snow” that overshadowed the blessings.

So like life… sometimes I try to turn the antennas closest to me, but no matter how much I turn it, the “snow” still blocks my vision of what I need to see.  My distractions are usually thoughts that I dwell on, not getting done everything I want to do, and just not being “enough” or who I want to be with friends, family, Christ.   I need to go HIGHER and look from a different perspective… go HIGHER by praying to God (He has the best view to turn my antenna.)  He can turn it to make the picture very clear OR He sometimes He just wants to guide me through the “snow”.

As I drove that night, I so wanted to just pull off the road and wait for the storm to pass – just like life and wanting to disengage from reality.  Or wait for a state truck to follow – just like life not looking to the right ONE to follow.  But, I so wanted to come home and crawl into my bed and see our children sleeping.  In that car during that storm was exactly where I was meant to be.  For the first time in several weeks, it was just me and God in the car, and my antenna on life was changed.  My picture is clear.  Sometimes it just takes the storms of life to block my vision, so I rely on God for the directions.  It is amazing how clear life becomes when I intentionally share the journey with  God.

 

Expectations….

Oh my dear blog… how I have missed having / taking the time to write.  Well, this week was Valentine’s Day.  There are probably three types of people 1. indifferent on celebrating but okay with that, 2. those that absolutely love it, and 3. those that absolutely hate it.   Actually, that summarizes it for most holidays.  Mother’s Day for me, for instance, is always bittersweet.  My mother and grandmother are both in heaven, and I remember the year after our miscarriage and all the years of infertility that I yearned for a child, but God had other timing.

Anyway, about Valentine’s Day… I generally am indifferent.  When the kids were in school and we had to send out Valentines, Mary and I always made homemade Valentines.  With Samuel, he seemed to like parties, but having to write the name of all the children and sign his name on 30 valentines were a little over-rated for him.  I had thought about getting the kids something this year, but my intentions never made it into an action (something I really need to work on, by the way).  Jim and I never get each other anything.  I use to buy or write him a card, but then realized that was never his “love language”.  Our first year of marriage he sent me flowers to work and well, I yelled at him when I found out how much they cost. STUPID ME!  Those were the last flowers I received.  I stole the blessing of his giving by being critical.  In hindsight, the words should have been Thank you and I love you!    So, for 20 years, I have not received flowers, BUT have honestly not been disappointed (a little more on disappointment in a minute).  And then this year, I received a package to me and I literally got goosebumps.  Enclosed were a dozen of beautiful roses from my awesome husband.  I was NOT expecting them and was speechless.  Sort of like the diamond wrap I got for Christmas that I was not expecting.  At first, I felt a little guilty because I had not gotten him anything.  However, that would have taken away from his gift and knew he expected nothing in return.

About disappointment – in the dictionary disappoint means to

Disappoint: fail to meet the expectations, hopes, desires, or standards of; let down

One of my biggest life changing attitudes / mottos is to EXPECT NOTHING AND THEN I’M NOT DISAPPOINTED!   It is one thing I have intentionally worked on (before I ever chose the word intentional).  This has been to my benefit many times in life, and I probably learned it more with each circumstance.  Some common examples,

  • I don’t expect any gifts for holidays or birthdays and am not disappointed when I don’t get them — but when I do, it makes the joy that much greater.
  • I don’t expect people to change their ways, but change my expectation and then I don’t boil over every time I think of them.
  • I don’t expect the garbage to be emptied anymore when overflowing, and now I don’t get upset and yell – but when someone does empty it, I am so excited.
  • I don’t expect to get an IRS refund anymore after generally having to pay in, so if it ever happens, I will be so excited.  Had I expected to get a refund and didn’t (and already had it spent on a new item) I would be devastated.
  • I don’t expect when I come home after a long weekend of work that the house will be spotless, and then I am not upset.
  • I don’t expect when I step on the scale that I have lost any weight – for      years I did that and felt so sad – and now if I do, I am just super happy.

When I use to expect things of people and they didn’t meet the expectations, it controlled my happiness.  It made me yell or bottle it all inside becoming ready to explode.

However, what often happens, I am learning is that with expectations, there MUST be communication.  For instance, if my expectation is that the garbage is emptied, I better tell them.  Too many times, people expect other people to do something, but never verbalize that expectation.  Much of that I learned comes down to love languages, and I know I refer to this often, but it is so true.  If I am a gift person and I want to be shown love by gifts, I better tell my husband.  If I don’t tell him and he doesn’t give me a gift – it is my fault because I never told him my expectation.  For instance, when we started dating I told Jim, “I will live in Markleysburg all my life and I will graduate from college with my maiden name.  If you are not okay with either of those things, we don’t need to continue the relationship.”  Well, that was 25 years ago and we live in Markleysburg (although I would probably be more willing to move now) and my college diploma has Knight on it.  It would not have been fair for me to not disclose that, or my expectations to have children, etc.

Probably, one of my biggest irritations in my professional life was when I sat down for a performance review and was told I did not meet deadlines.  Of note, I have never missed a deadline in my life.  I asked for clarification, and apparently, the person’s standard was that items were in 5 days prior to the deadline.  However, in my world, if it is due on Tuesday, you will likely get Monday night or 3am on Tuesday morning, and I would still consider it early because Tuesday could be interpreted at the close of business day.  She was disappointed in me, because I did not know her expectation was 5 days prior.

My problem still lies in my fear of disappointing others and myself. Here are some examples

  • At  first, I thought Jim may be disappointed because I didn’t get him anything and he got me beautiful roses.  Or at Christmas, he gave diamonds and his gifts were much smaller. I was      disappointed in myself that I had not done more.
  • There are often areas that I could use some help, but I won’t ask for it, because of fear that I may disappoint others that I can’t handle it myself or why I needed help.
  • I avoid being completely honest about situations, because I don’t want to disappoint people with my decisions I made.
  • So many times, I over commit to other people, because I don’t want them to be disappointed in me.

Oh, the list of how I disappoint myself and fear of disappointing others could go on.

I need to be more intentional of asking people their expectations of me.  What does my husband expect for me as his wife… my children expect of me as their mom… learning what Christ expects of me as his child….  Because, I truly do love them and want to meet their expectation (and even exceed their expectations).  And on the other side, if you are expecting something of me, just let me know.

But more importantly, I need to be INTENTIONAL about knowing MY expectations, hopes, and desires of MYSELF, and that requires taking the time to figure that out.

Happiness equals reality minus expectations” – Tom Magliozzi

Little things add up

I am learning in life slowly, and only wished I would have realized so much sooner, it is all about the little things.   Lately there have been several little reminders…

Someone had placed on their facebook this morning about little Ethan and the frustration that they had not rescued him and had only sent in Cheez-Its and Hot Wheels.  It was the first time that I had read what they said they sent in.  Sure, I am sure he would have like to have said send in my mom or dad.  But to Ethan, I am sure those little things were really big things.  I know our son would have likely asked for a particular toy and popcorn to bring comfort.  I think of those parents tonight with their son, and I cry!  1. He made it out alive, and 2. of the little things they notice that they had not noticed in awhile – the color of his eyes, how his hand clasps theirs, the length of his arms when he gave them a hug.  Of note, I am assuming the hand clasp and the hugs, only because we are blessed that our son with Aspergers expresses love with physical contact, and many do not.  I think of Ethan as he sees his parents after this very scary time and what he notices about them.  I can see him walking into his home and seeing maybe his pet, toys, DVDs and appreciating them like never before in his own way.  I pray that he can vocalize all that happened to him so he can heal.  Unfortunately, autistic children often have a hard time verbalizing their experiences.  I bet things that were once BIG (tantrums, homework, stepping on toys not picked up, etc.) to his parent will now see them as little things.   (I wrote this last night but heard the GMA interview with family and they kept saying what a special little buddy he is – I so understand.)

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, I know that I started looking at events, tantrums, taking too long, etc… as just small inconveniences and I was just blessed to have my children home and alive.  If it takes Sam thirty minutes to pick out his favorite toys then it takes thirty minutes.  If Mary procrastinates on a paper to the last minute, then she procrastinates.  Too many times, those little things were big things in my life that would cause me to become upset.

I LOVE to read posts about the little things in people’s lives — I am not talking about the shopping then cleaning then fixing supper… but the things that bring a smile to the person’s face that you can just see by reading the post.  Like I went shopping with my best friend and had a great time (I can see the smile). Or while cleaning I lifted the couch cushions and found $5 or for me a piece of Dove still in the wrapper (I can see the smile).  Or I can’t wait to fix a favorite meal for supper for my family (I can see the smile).   A good friend of mine on Saturday, celebrated the National Day for Eating Ice Cream for Breakfast — I could see the smiles even before I saw the pictures.  (Even though at our house you can have ice cream for breakfast everyday – well, because it is a little thing).

It has been since the beginning of November since I started posting a daily list of blessing.  That is approximately 100 days with 10 little things everyday so about 1,000.  I actually read a book about One Thousand Gifts, by Anne VonKamp.  When you start looking for the blessings they show up everywhere.  When I add the little things up you have a big thing – 1,000 blessings!   When I focus on the bad things that is exactly what I will find.  I am not to say that everything is happy all the time and I have no worries.  Friends will laugh at my life most of the time and try to figure out “how I do it all.”   But, I am so thankful that I am not the person I once was.  I was the person who looked at my career and took various jobs to say I did them – including one in Pittsburgh driving 2 ½ hours each way after dropping our beautiful daughter off at 4am to a sitter or Nanny’s.  It was a great job and as a blessing I still have a great friend from there.  But really… now, I do occasionally work too much, but even switched a day on the upcoming schedule so I could have Mary’s birthday off.  Because – it is the little things!!!

Samuel has really taught me about the little things.  I have a great friend who says everyone needs a Samuel in your life because he just makes you look at life differently.  Last week he started to talk about sort of missing school.  I was brave and asked what did he miss and he mentioned lightly friends and his teacher (it is those days it is hard and makes me wonder about the decision we made).  But then he said with the deepest sincerity, but I really miss my Science Book.  I was expecting the worst and he mentioned one of the smallest things.  (p.s. the third grade Science Book like Marclay’s came today and exclaimed but I wanted one like mine at school.  I assured him I ordered it too and it will be here soon.  He was so excited and has carried the Science book around and it will be “our bed time stories”. )  A quick look at Amazon and was able to get 2 Hardback Harcourt Science books for under $10 — it is the little things!

It is the little things that are important, like

  • Remembering people and their Words for 2013 – all 23 people and I could name them without looking at the list because it is important to remember that little thing – that one word.
  • It is getting a card in the mail or a small gift for no reason.- or better sending a card in the mail with no reason .
  • Lunch with a friend at their house over soup and fresh bread with kids playing in the background.
  • Friends who understands and loves your children and their quirks – that is a BIG thing!
  • Hot cup of tea EVERY morning from my favorite mug from an incredible friend that just brings a smile to my face.
  • Pausing to really listen to what Sam has to say, because he is just funny.
  • Stopping to read a bedtime story, when there are still dishes in the sink to be done.  But they will wait.  The dishes are the little things in comparison to the time spent with our child.
  • Finding the perfect pair of jeans for your daughter.
  • Talking to your daughter about inspirational quotes that are slowly covering her walls.  Quotes that build up after all the years of being torn down at school.
  • It is going shopping and spending 10 minutes in the cereal aisle in the grocery store because Sam exclaims “which one to decide.”  And not caring that it took 10 minutes.
  • It is riding to work with your husband and he holds my hand and drops me off at the door.
  • Watching Sam play in the snow and make snow angels and not even noticing the cold.
  • Talking to your family and knowing they have arrived safe in this weather.

Yes, it is all about the little things.  I am just so thankful that I “get it”.   So tonight as Ethan’s family hug him tight and are thankful for their son, for the little things… I too, am so thankful for the little things.  Thankful that I have been intentional everyday to list at least ten, when in reality there are hundreds of little things…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Braut

Nightmares – it’s time to Get Up

Last night I had some nightmares.  As I think back what may have caused them is a combination of the news and the podcasts I listened to.  It probably doesn’t help when I am purely exhausted at 5:30am when I crawl into bed.

Yesterday, I learned about the little boy with Aspergers that is held in a bunker by a complete stranger.  As a mom of a boy with Aspergers I know the turmoil inside of him when he doesn’t even take the right toys to church that we will be at for a few hours.  I know his eating habits and when stressed, he does not eat (which is why he likely ate very little at school).  I know how much he relies of seeing his family.  He will stay overnight one night at Poppa and Nanny’s and is ready to come home.  I cannot imagine what he is going through, because most days I don’t even understand “Sam’s World”, instead I just try to understand.   As a mom, I cannot imagine my child being kidnapped. My worst nightmare!  In fact, I have become so distraught I am finding it even hard to eat today.  An experience I never want to live and never want my children to experience!

So my nightmare revolved around Mary at first.  Our dog ran out in the snow and Mary went looking for her.  But we couldn’t find Mary after she left because she was abducted by people I knew.  One was actually a physician at the hospital (and I had done a review for a patient that he was staff on the case just before bed).  The other one was a friend (that I had read a post by on Facebook just before bed).  And while we were rescuing Mary, that kidnapping was a decoy to also kidnap Samuel.  Have you ever woke up crying and in a panic.  In a panic, like I had to go check their rooms just to be sure it wasn’t real.  I went back to sleep and the dream continued in a stairwell with their abductions.  Well, the abduction ended and two kidnappers were shot.  I have never been so happy to wake up.  But, there were also some valuable lessons about safety that came up that I needed to work on with Sam (and even a few things for Mary). I also realized and remembered that I need to be careful with my last thoughts before going to sleep.

I am so thankful that I woke up and my nightmare was over.  We are safe at home without intruders.  However, some nightmares are reality.  Probably some of my reality “nightmares” have been our miscarriage, infertility, and when Baby Caleb passed away.  Some live the nightmare of an abuse, adultery, children in trouble, unexpected deaths, etc… As I have said before, our problems and our nightmares may seem insignificant when we compare them to someone else’s nightmares, but they all matter to God.

I listen to podcasts most nights I work and last night it was a series of 4 lessons – the first one Pastor Furtick talked about David, a man after God’s heart, who lived a nightmare.  Much of the nightmare was a result of David’s choices.  He basically raped Bethsheba, got her pregnant, then had her husband murdered.  He lived the consequence because his son died  as a consequence of the sin.  (Pastor Furtick points out that the Lord will take away our sins immediately when we ask for forgiveness, but we may still have to live out the consequences of the sin.)

The last two points (of 5) Pastor Furtick made really stuck with me that “There is a time to get down and a time to get up.”, and “Events to do not have to define our identity.”

He talked about David and how when his child became ill, he GOT DOWN (2 Samuel 12:15-17.. David pleaded with God for the child.  He fasted and went into his home and slept lying on the ground.. He would not get up, and continued to pray and fast.).  On day 7, the child died, and he GOT UP (2 Samuel 12:20-23 – He got up from the ground, put on lotions, changed clothes and went to the House of the Lord and worshiped and then ate.  His servants could not understand why when his actions.  He explained that he fasted and wept to plea to God.  But now that he is gone, I can’t bring him back.)  NOTE: I also believe this section struck a cord with me because fasting has been on my “need to know more about it” list.  I also know there are situations that instead of staying down (often being negative, whining, and complaining) that I get UP and do something about them!

Everyone handles nightmares in their lives differently.  Some remain stuck in the situation and bitter.  Their lives fall apart and they become depressed and live in the past.  Others, somehow, find the strength (often only through Christ) to get up and go and worship and live life despite of the past.  They restore marriages despite adultery,  recover relationships with their children when their children return like the prodigal son, etc..  Some are able to make the nightmare they have lived not be in vain.  I think of a dear life-long friend whose beautiful daughter passed away after birth.  I am sure she mourns and misses her child, but now she is learning to serve as a Perinatal Grief Doula for other families.   I think of the scripture 2 Corinthians 1:3b-4 the God of all comforts who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God.”  We should pay our comfort forward.

The second point that I love was the events in our lives do not define our identity.  Despite all of his sins, God was still described as a man after God’s heart.  Pastor Furtick mentions that our failures are just a success story in process.  For the “alchoholic” – God sees as a person who used alcohol to cope, but does not label him the alchoholic for life.  When we shed our failures and repent we are made new and all labels are gone from our identity in Christ.  He talked about Lamentations 3 of how he has afflictions and walked in darkness, and could not escape, etc  (vs 1-21).  And then verses 22-23 that “ therefore I have hope because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail.  They are NEW EVERY MORNING..”  I have that scripture on a magnet on my fridge.  I believe that is why I so love a sunrise.  It is a reminder (a gift) of a fresh start, where I often look as a sunset as an ending and all the things I didn’t accomplish.  What a hope to know Hi compassion is new every day.  If we are faithful to put my hope in Him and seek Him (vs 25) , He will show His compassion and unfailing love (vs 32b)

I need to be intentional not to get stuck in my nightmares (and mistakes) and get up and do something about them.  Let them just be a step in the success story that God has outlined for my life.

Here is the link for the 4 series podcast if you are interested – http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons/itakeitback