Monthly Archives: July 2013

Blessings in reflecting

It has been a few weeks since we returned from vacation and last Wednesday, I text Jim asking if he was ready to go back.  I told him I could be ready by 5 pm to leave.  We chuckled because as much as we would love to, life isn’t that simple.  But I literally started working the day I returned from beach and felt like the running has not stopped.  Dental appointments, work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc… I have been surviving in the one day at time mode.  Which, is fine in some areas of life, but not so great when running and juggling work and family and self.  Guess where the juggling fails?  Generally first self, then family, and last my work.  I know that is NOT how it should be, but can honestly tell you that is how it goes.

The beautiful thing about the beach is it places everything into perspective — live a simple life with minimal “stuff” for one week as a family.  There is no work to focus on.  Only things to deal with is admiring God’s beautiful creation AND our beautiful family.  I was able to focus on the positive qualities of my husband without all the daily demands – like him swimming in the indoor pool with the kids, making sandcastles in the sand with Sam, taking Sam into the deeper water, defending our family when we were not being recognized at a restaurant, and never loosing his cool (except when defending our family).  I was able to focus on letting Mary be a little more responsible and loosening my control, and that is FAR from easy.  I was able to focus a lot of time with Sam because Mary didn’t really need me and Jim gets in his “beach zone”.  We built big pits for dinosaurs with tunnels and waterfalls.  We hung out at the playground areas, etc…  I was also able to reconnect with my best friend from childhood and her two sons.  Amazing times!

But even life at the beach was not perfect, even though I so wanted a perfect vacation.  One issue consumed parts of my first days there.  It takes a lot to get to the there with me, because I am usually one who believes suck it up and move on… or figure out in the big picture it isn’ that big of deal… or no one is going to steel my joy because then they win.  But I let it.  I let something that was out of my control take control over my thoughts.  I let my disappointment from someone else’s choices consume me.   Let’s just say communication is imperative in life.  I finally exploded and let it all out and chose NOT to let it consume me and our vacation.  I was in a beautiful place with my wonderful family, but my mind and heart was overshadowed at first.  When going on vacation, it is important to leave bad and heavy luggage and life issues at home!

The second issue was with a slap of reality.  I know our son’s quirks, but it is not until I see him with other kids his age that the quirks are magnified.  Unfortunately, in the wrong groups, those quirks are magnified to kids and he becomes a target.  Almost daily I became a bouncer in some sort of situation.  I so wanted to let my guard down and believe that bullies just didn’t exist at the beach.  One day a little boy, who reminded my of Sam and his quirks, started talking to him and they were doing great re-enacting Sponge Bob… until the bigger brother came along and was really mean to his little brother and to Sam.  Well, that quickly ended.  The day we were at the pirate ship and it was four boys who thought they could push him in the sand and he could always be “it”.  Sometimes I would just feel the tears trickle.

A couple things stood out at the beach for me.  The one day as Jim and Sam built a sand castle they were a little too close to the tide and it would come in and wipe out parts of the castle.  Some days that would have led to meltdowns, but that day, Sam just kept building with his dad.  The foundation of the castle remained intact even as the waves crashed in and knocked a wall down. I PRAY that our family will always be that firm foundation for our children.  When the waves of life come crashing in on their hopes and dreams, that the foundation we have created stands firm in their lives.  I pray that we can be there to help them rebuild the walls time and again.

Another lesson was my search for shells.  I love the broken ones just as much as they are usually smoothed out from crashing in the sand time and again.  Most of my shells I found were broken, but beautiful.  So many times, I want the perfect life without the crashing waves and without getting rammed into the sand time after time.  I definitely hate to watch my children endure bullies who crash their spirits and ram them time and again.  However, I PRAY that the waves do not leave scars on me or my children, but build our character and make us smooth and beautiful.

Of note, I did find one huge perfect shell one day.  I had seen the shell but initially thought it was a crab (we saw a few of those too), because I had never seen that large of a shell in the ocean in Virginia Beach.  When I realized it was a shell, I kept my eyes open and tried a couple times to capture it, including getting wiped out on my face once by a wave.  It disappeared and then Sam and I went out in the water and as we were out past the waves crashing I felt something large under my foot (of note yelled thinking a creature).  Then realized it was a shell – the very one I had my eye on. Amazing!  When I was looking for it, I remember how many other shells I let passed by and they may have just been as beautiful.  How many times in my life do I get so focused on one thing / end result / solution, that I may in fact miss something even more beautiful / better / perfect for my life?

The last lesson for this blog is that even the smallest of prayers are heard.  I mentioned in my last post that sometimes I feel like asking for prayers when others are going through so much is hard.  Anyway, Sam had decided to take 2 Spidermen to the beach and we dug our huge hole with tunnels, etc… When it was time to go back to the hotel, he realizes he is missing one.  Okay… it is fourth of July, the beach is packed people to people, and he has NO idea where he lost it at first.  After the melting down, he explains a tunnel we had dug had crashed in.  Jim and I dug frantically and never found him. Back the room was a broken heart boy, a frustrated dad, and a defeated mom.  I even prayed while digging that we could find it.  I was prepared to order a new one and have shipped to the hotel (no parental judgment about just teaching him a lesson to take better care of his toys).  I had been the one who told him they would be okay to bring to the beach and felt horrible.  I also sort of felt defeated because my prayer was unanswered at that time and God, I believe, knows exactly how hard it is for Sam.  The next day, Sam had NO desire to head to the beach, but eventually gave in.  As we were setting up our tent, I looked over to the left and thought I saw something red in the sand.  I walked over and brushed off a layer of sand and found SPIDERMAN! (of note, I found my big shell that same day and Jim said we should have gone to play the lotto – lol. To me, finding Spiderman was better than winning the lottery!).   I learned He hears our prayers… and knew exactly how and when to answer… I need to learn to work on my mustard seed faith!

So blessed to go to the beach… and so blessed to reflect on that time.  Until next year (unless I can convince Jim otherwise)….

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Comparisons must end

It has been forever it seems… not that I have not had anything to say, just haven’t taken the time.   Unfortunately, I have lately just bottling them in my head.  Hopefully this is a start of the release, lol.

On Friday, Samuel had a dentist appointment and I put on Facebook to pray for him.  (p.s. thank you to all of those who paused and prayed).  I really hesitate asking for prayer, and rarely will directly for me.  Here is my issue… all of my life, except for maybe a selfish teen years, I have always looked at my life in comparison to someone else.  For instance, though my mother was handicapped, I could justify I had nothing to complain about because at least I had my mother.  After she passed away, I could justify I had nothing to complain about because at least I had her through college.  So asking for prayer is hard, when I have dear friends fighting cancer.  I feel like my problems are so much smaller and insignificant.

This week a few things prior to Friday, really added to my epiphany.   I read a couple blogs about the comparison thing.  One as moms, we compare ourselves to the “perfect mom” who does all the great Pinterest ideas, the homemade gifts, etc. and feel inadequate.  It is funny because I had a friend this week say she even used me in a reference about being a good mom, but that is because I have somehow figured out how to do it all by giving up sleep, lol.  Of note, I use to believe I could be the perfect mom.  With Mary, we did the handmade Valentines every year, her cakes for school were made from scratch, etc.   However, there are many times as I slip in my car and drive to work that I just cry and think of how bad I have messed up being a great mom.  The guilt sometimes is huge, but tucked away nicely when I need to put on the “its all okay” face.  The other blog I read was about how people paint their lives as perfect on Facebook and how we just want to unfriend them, secretly.  We don’t want reminders of how messed up and imperfect our lives truly are.  Again, I felt a little guilty because almost everyday I put up a blessing list.  To the outside world, it maybe perceived as I have a perfect life with a perfect husband, perfect kids, and perfect job, etc.   However, I have intentionally chosen to look at the blessings and not the burdens of my day.  For me, it changes my mindset and also, makes me realize that my “problems” are insignificant next to the person fighting for their lives.

It does not help that I am a nurse.  I complete insurance reviews on many people when I work.  In fact, last night as I typed a few of them, I cried and could not imagine being in their shoes.   I also try to say a prayer for that person as I type and also anytime I hear the helicopter landing or an ambulance, etc.  I don’t know the people, but I do know they could use a prayer and they have just served as another reminder of how blessed I am.

However, over time I have tried to do the same with my children’s problems.   With Sam, I somehow “understand” his meltdowns.  I guess it is because I don’t understand how he processes things in his mind, but I have read many reference materials that completely make sense and are consistent.   I can’t say to him your problem is nothing because other children are dying from cancer, he just will not “get it”.  So, since he can’t get the comparison, his problems I understand are a big deal.  However, with Mary, I often will say, you don’t know what they are going through… can you imagine if you were in their shoes… just be thankful that you have xyz.  It isn’t that I am trying to minimize her problems, although maybe I am, but trying to get her to see others have a harder life.  However, she completely has a heart of gold and completely gets the pain others are going through.  She loves doing things for missionaries for starving children.  So, since she “gets it”, I expect her to be like me and minimize her issues.  Stuff them away and put on the “it’s fine” face.   Comparisons are tough stuff for me!  One day a couple/several months ago, Mary was going through a rough spot.  I wanted her to walk in someone else’s shoes… I wanted her to put on her “it’s fine face”… I wanted her to minimize her problems and feelings… She said something at one point that just stuck, something like “Though other people may have bigger problems/issues in their lives does not make my problems/issues any less important.” OUCH!

Back to nursing, it was hard at times taking care of someone with a “Small problem” after just leaving the room of someone fighting for their life.  Another thing is the person who says they want to loose 10 lbs and I just think to myself you should be in my shoes and needing to loose about 90.  I have honestly said to people if you need to feel better about yourself stand next to me.  It is all about comparisons.  But when I do that, I fall into the category of the people who always have a “BIGGER” problem.  We all know someone who always has a worse story and love to share it with you.  For instance, I hated asking for prayer on Friday also because it is just “a dentist appointment”.   Although, I have quietly gotten angry when people do not understand what a big deal a dentist appointment is for Sam and they undermine the issue.  But is exactly what I do everyday of my life as I underestimate my needs, Mary’s issues, etc…

So on Friday as I drove to the dentist with Sam, both of us with some tears, it so hit me.  I serve a Heavenly Father who thinks just like Mary… though other people may have bigger problems, mine are just as important to him.  He wants to hear my little whisper when I can’t find my keys… He wants to hear my crying out when we are walking into the dentist office…  He wants to hear from me about all my blessings and problems and not just wait for the “big stuff”.   All the while, He still hears the screams of my friends with cancer, or the wife of a dying husband, or the family who just lost their home, etc..  Problems and misunderstandings happen when I compare… when I underestimate or over estimate.  Instead, I just need to remember that to that person, that problem is just as important, because to my Heavenly Father they also fall equally at His feet.