Friday, August 26, 2016

Focusing on the Left

I lived in the Midwest for the first 43 years of my life.  In that time I never experienced what it was like to have an allergy, seasonal or otherwise.  The closest I ever came was that I would break out a bit when pulling weeds but once inside and washed off with soap and water eventually the redness would go away.  I still have that here in the South but I also have become friends with allergy meds.  I can't breathe.  My face hurts.  I used to break out every time I took a shower from the water.  I had to buy special soap and shampoo and conditioner.  Now it has gone to the eyes.  They itch and sometimes wake me up from the itching.  In particular my right eye....seemingly my more dominant eye as I do everything better on my right side.  I hear better with that ear, I am right handed.  It is annoying.  My eye doctor says my eyes are dry and he gave me some drops.  They do nothing.

I will be honest.  I have been struggling this week.  I am feeling a lack of purpose.  I feel like a sloth.  My husband works, my son has school, and now both girls have started their college classes.  I give rides to school, I do laundry almost every day, I prepare meals and do the shopping.  I understand that those things need to happen but I do not feel I really contribute all that I should.  I miss my work.  I miss the kids and being a part of something....bigger.  I can't have that here.  There are schools, yes, but they are so far different that I'm not sure I would be able to make the connections with people like I did before.  I accept this, it doesn't make it easier, but I get that sacrifices were made by everyone when we chose to move and this was mine.  All of this is making me feel sad this week in particular for some reason.  While I have found friends, I still haven't found my contribution.

Two weeks ago my middle was struggling and was mad and upset and just plain overwhelmed with unknowns.  She is better now.  School has begun and routine has once again taken hold in her life.  She thrives on routine, something that she hasn't had much of since the move.  She said the words, "I have a job, where's yours!" to me and it broke me.  It felt as though she ripped my heart out and thrashed it around like the Hulk tossing around Loki.  It has resonated in the back of my mind ever since.  It has festered and taken hold and I have struggled to let it go.  I'm not upset with her, she has apologized.  No, I'm mad at me for holding onto it.

I have looked online for jobs.  As it turns out there aren't a lot of postings for people like me.  Women who married, had children and stayed home to raise them.  I spent eleven years at home with my children and only really left to go to work at a preschool to give me something to do once my son started school.  My knowledge of computers is limited.  I can Google and I think all computers are touch screens so that gets me into trouble.  I have to get help to figure out how to get music on my computer.  My smart phone is smarter than me.  I don't know what a cache or a ram is and I have no clue how the cloud works or why I have it or even how to access it.  And if all of that doesn't date me or make me seem an unlikely hire for today's workforce, I also need to only work Monday through Friday and I need to work school hours because I still have responsibilities to my family that I love more than anything.

I lack knowledge and know how in a lot of areas.  I have run a household and I have been raising three children.  This is no small fete especially since I have been learning on the job.  I'm an only child.  I had literally no clue what to do with babies when I started.  Now I'm still trying to figure out teenagers and young adults and I'm failing miserably.  I always say something wrong or look at someone wrong or forget stuff.  I'm pretty sure the women I see in line at drop off have their act together.  They also probably don't get excited and start singing along with Rick Springfield in the car during drop off either.  I kind of think that's the point.  No matter who you are or what you know, there are always going to be people out there that are smarter and know more than you do.  It doesn't make you any less.  It

My right side is dominant.  I was saying earlier today that maybe I'm allergic to the air or maybe God is trying to get me to focus on something with just my left eye which is weird because my right side is dominant.  Writing that or saying it is when it clicked.  I haven't been able to write.  I haven't been able to do much of anything really because I haven't been focusing on the right things.  I've been focusing on what I can't do and not on what I can.  My right side is dominant, but so is my ability to focus on all my negatives, so is my ability to make excuses, and so is my ability to procrastinate.  All the wrong things.  I need to go the other direction.  I need to focus on my left.  I need to pay attention because God has been talking to me for an entire sermon series.  It is OK God knows I'm a slow learner and kind of a prat too.  He loves me anyway and I think He has higher hopes for me than I have for myself.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9  I have to believe that in my weakness here God can use me for something I'm not seeing yet.  I have to believe that the words are coming but I haven't really been listening.  I have to believe I can be of some use and I am actually making a contribution.  My children are a contribution and if that is all I contribute then that has to be enough.  If it isn't then I have to be OK with that too and not keep saying no when asked.  

The truth is I don't know what comes next for me but I do actually have a job here.  I am a mother, I do not bring in an income to help my family but I do work and if I run out of the regular chores and tasks there are plenty more to add in.  Paining needs done, rooms need rearranged and it seems I always have one room that I hate the most no matter where I live.  I just can't get it right.  Also when I shut up the inner voices that like to make me feel less than, it turns out I can get quite a bit of typing done.  God has a lot to say when you turn your voices off and listen to his.  So I'm focusing on the left now.  The right is getting a bit blurry anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Moment by Moment

Do you ever think that dreams are better left as just that....dreams?  I have had a few dreams in my life.  I have had some that were even better than expected and some that seemed even more completely terrifying after they came true.

Seven months after moving far from everything and everyone I have ever know,  I feel settled.  I don't have anxiety attacks when driving down roads that have more cars than I am use to seeing when wanting to go to the grocery.  I've learned that while the big beautiful mall is fun to walk around in, I'm still a Kohl's girl at heart.  I've learned that some things are scarier in my head than they actually are.  The bridge to take to St. Pete is overwhelming but the views are so beautiful it distracts from the fear.

I've learned that God sent people ahead of me to make this transition easier.  When I first wanted to move here at least ten years ago, I wouldn't necessarily have ended up where I did with people who are some of the kindest I've ever met.  I've learned that you can find doctors who are good and not abrupt even in a larger area and that is easier to find than finding a good haircut.

Most importantly though I've learned that even though moving was scary, I have the best people to go through it with.  My family is far from perfect and sometimes we drive each other crazy but at the end of the day they are my favorite humans in all the world.  I can mess up or just be stupid and they will still love me.  I have the best partner in life I could ever dream up.  I've learned that his calm is one of my greatest treasures.  All in all moving has been one of the easier of dreams to follow.

Writing however, has been by far the hardest.  The actual writing process is hard enough but throw in things that you never thought of as possibilities, and there have been points in my journey that have made me think more than once...that keeping that dream a dream may have been a better option.  Two books in and I have spent two years not wanting to pull the trigger to attempt a third.

If you don't try you don't have to fail, right?  I tend to think big in my what ifs.  The big success though is something I only truly think I want to obtain in theory.  As in, "Wouldn't it be cool to be like Adele?"  or "Wouldn't it be cool to be like Jen Hatmaker or Beth Moore?"  In theory, those things sound very cool but actually becoming someone like them requires something that I do not currently possess....Courage.  Well that and an overabundance of talent and sheer determination.  I'm not sure I'm so determined to excel at really anything.  I don't just think big successes either in my what ifs.  I equally thing big failures.  What if I am a no talent hack?  What if I have to speak and I projectile vomit all over the people there to hear me or wet my pants or faint?

Perhaps moving is the extent of bravery and courage I possess.  In moving I didn't go alone and I absolutely know that I don't go alone in any endeavor, God goes with me.  In my humanness I need someone else to go with me too.  That would be the Moses in me. I don't want to go but if I do send someone with me. I am someone who lacks the particular gene that holds any bit of self confidence.  Not a trait I was given in my upbringing.

The pastor at church as been (appropriately) doing a sermon series on courage.  Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Joshua, David, and Daniel.  And he isn't done.  All of these people had struggles and in the end showed great courage.  Abraham was hard to get through, Moses worse, but David about destroyed me.  The struggle in finding my identity continues.  The figuring out of who I am and who I am meant to be seems to be taking longer for me to figure out than most.

Perhaps it is my fault.  By my own admission I have tried to surround myself with friends who are smarter than I am.  People I can learn from and enjoy being around and people who aren't afraid to tell me when I am being an idiot.  Those are the qualities I look for in a friend.  How can you grow if you surround yourself with people who always agree with you?  I have learned from my friends but I think to some extent I want them to figure me out.  Tell me what I am supposed to do.  I am not sure about a lot of things but I am certain that I have a lot of growing to do.  More than most by my estimation.

Mostly I cannot imagine how God could ever use me or why He would ever pick me for anything.  I am quite possibly the most exasperating person I know.  I am much better at believing IN God than I am in BELIEVING God.  I am well acquainted with my faults.  The inventory is long and likes to be acknowledged with regularity.  Old habits die hard don't they?

In church we are learning about courage than comes from God and stays with you for a lifetime.  The thing is...I don't think it is something that one attains all at once.  Or maybe it does and that just hasn't been my experience.  I think it is a moment by moment thing.  I think...and maybe I am off base here, but I think that we have to choose moment by moment what to believe, not only about God but about ourselves too.  Some days are easier than others.  Life is full of decisions.  You make good ones, you make bad ones, but I think maybe not making a decision is worse.  I tend to live there.  On the island of indecision and self doubt and even doubting if God talks to me at all.  Maybe I am just crazy and my what ifs take on a life of their own and I only think God is trying to tell me something.

At this point in my life I am content in my family.  I love our little life with all of our ups and downs.  We have eliminated all semblance of feeling stuck in the same ole same ole.  I stay home and take care of my family now that we have moved just like I did before with the exception being that I no longer have a part time job at a school.

When the first book was coming out I was hoping that it would do well but not too well because I couldn't figure out the logistics of how my family would function if such things as book tours were to arise.  Even now, I'm not sure how that would work.  It isn't that I excel at being a mother.  Probably the opposite as the only thing they really know how to feed themselves are frozen foods, sandwiches and cereal.   I just cannot see how it could work even though two of my children are legal adults now.  How many dreams do we get anyway?  Aren't I too old for dreams now anyway?  Are there age limits to these things?  Are you seeing it?  I am the consummate excuse maker.  The struggle is very real. I fear things that haven't happened, probably wouldn't happen, and likely won't happen.  I'm scared of the parts that I don't want to sign up for.

Moment by moment we decide.  Moment by moment we believe or don't believe.  What if it only took a single moments worth of courage?  What if it only took one moment to become a 'David' or a 'Jonah'?  It essentially did, didn't it?  In my moments, I tend to spent them in the belly of the fish with the Jonahs.  He is not the ideal when it comes to bravery and courage.  The man chose to be thrown over a boat to possibly die in the ocean only to be swallowed by a fish than to go where God told him to go.  I've been there.  That is how my mind works.  If only we could all be David and go with a sling and a stone knowing that God would bring the victory.  Knowing that you wouldn't projectile vomit or pass out or wet yourself in front of a group of people because your fear is so great.

Every Sunday during this series we see the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz talk about all of the creatures that have courage and what they have that he doesn't have....courage.  We see this then we get the lesson.  I can't help but wonder if that will be my legacy?  Two books in and scared to pull the trigger for number three because of what it might/will mean.  Trilogies.  I'm locked in, all in, with three.  There is no turning back.  I can't take it back and I'm not sure I would want to.  It is a very personal thing to write what I write.

Staying true to who I am, a woman with little to no filter or restraint from keeping things real, I will say that I have stared at this page for the last four hours.  Struggling even to publish a post, something I've done time and time before.  Then one phone call from a friend who says just the right thing...because I have done this before.  How can I fear something that I have done already?  It's like riding a ride and knowing your stomach is going to drop but being surprised when it drops anyway.  So after hours of looking at this rubbish here it goes in 3, 2, 1.....