Monday, August 28, 2017

My Heart Hurts, Will You Pray With Me?

My heart hurts.  I'm sitting in the student center at my daughter's college where I'm supposed to be working on my (self appointed) comeback.  Writing the book that might be...the end of the trilogy.  I'm not sure why there needs to be a third or why it should end with three, maybe that is how I'm convincing myself to do it.  To go through the struggle of finding the words again.  I'm distracted however, watching all of these college kids coming in and out, eating food that doesn't seem like breakfast food for 8:15 in the morning.  Some are plugged in just as I am, looking at their phones or laptops or notes.  I wonder if they are listening to a Danny Gokey station on Pandora like I am.  Somehow I doubt it.

None of these are the reason for my heart hurting though.  A young girl who I worked with was found killed yesterday morning along with her young son and my heart just aches.  She was eighteen and had her whole life in front of her.  I look at these kids and again I'm struck by how senseless her death is.  Yesterday I think I was just in shock, unable to reconcile the information, refusing to understand that it was true.  A fireman while on his way to work happened to look in the direction of her apartment and notice there was a fire.  He called for back up and soon there was an investigation underway.  She had injuries to her body inconsistent with the fire.

In the short time that I knew this young girl, I knew her to be a quiet, soft spoken girl.  She was beautiful and her smile was full of joy, especially when asked about her young son.  Her face would light up a thousand suns and she would joyfully tell you all about him.  She was very bright and caught onto things much quicker than I have.  I often would ask her for help with something that I wasn't sure about or didn't know how to do.  She was always willing to help.  She, though radiant, didn't seem to want to draw attention to herself.  She was nervous to use the intercom. We would try to get her to step out of her shell some, though she would make comments on occasion that were just so uncharacteristically funny and surprise us.  Honestly, because she was so quiet and we were often so busy and concentrating on our work I don't know much else about her other than that she was one of many children in her family. It seems like so little to know about someone and yet in the nine months that I knew her we often didn't work the same shifts.  Although, how much do we really know about each other anyway?

Today I read where they arrested the young man who had been her child's father and had at one time been in a relationship with her although from the comments it seems they were no longer in a relationship.  He is twenty years old.  He is charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson. If convicted on all counts he faces a lifetime in prison and possibly the death penalty.  I also read that he stabbed her and cut her throat before setting fire to the apartment. This bit of information just adds to the horror of it all.

I'm so sad that this has happened.  Two young lives have been taken and one life is essentially over.  All the hopes and dreams and potential just squashed and I can't reconcile how this could happen.  How this young man makes the decision to do something like this.  How anyone could look at a life and see no value.

Two families are affected by this and the overwhelming sadness and loss and heartbreak they must be experiencing right now makes me hurt for them.  People I have never met and yet they are my family and your family too.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow journeymen on this blue and green ball called Earth that we are all just trying to venture through together.  Children of God who were created by God but who live in a fallen, broken world. Psalm34:18 says, The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  I pray that they are leaning on the Lord during this time.  I hope they have that hope that they will see her and her son again one day in glory. Could you pray with me?  Could you pray for all those who are hurt and broken and suffering because of this?  Could you pray for peace?  Could you pray for this messed up broken world that we live in?  We need to be there for each other.  We're called to love each other. We're called to love like Jesus.  Every life has value.  Every single life.  Each man, woman, and child was born into this world as a beautiful creation and gift from God and somewhere along the way we've just gotten so lost.  We've lost sight of the One who holds everything together.  I'm praying, will you join me?  Rest in peace sweet ones.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hanging Out On Campus: Observations and thoughts from an outsider.

I am spending time on a college campus this semester.  No, I didn't go back to college (student loan debt for a 45 year old when you have two kids in college seems like a bad idea financially) and no I am not teaching.  I doubt they need someone to teach them sarcasm and that is really all I have a masters degree in.  What it is, is that my kids do not have cars.  We can (barely) afford college.  Cars are a luxury.  They will have to save to buy their own cars or we will have to be blessed by a generous benefactor such as the State Lotto or the Powerball.  We don't actually play all that often so our chances are probably even slimmer than those that play every week.  We also don't have any family members/friends who have  won the lotto or who have become so wealthy that they are running out of things to do with their money so they have decided to go down a list of family members and secretly pay off all their bills and roll up with vehicles with red bows.  If we as humans didn't need to eat every day and were trying to eat more healthy we might be able to scrounge up some extra for luxuries like cars for all drivers in the house.  But I digress...

I am spending time on campus waiting for my middle child to finish her classes for the day four days a week.  We live just far enough away from campus that it isn't worth the gas spent to go home and then have to return to pick her up and then go back home again.  We're trying to save money not burn through it even faster. So here I sit at a table in the student center watching kids come in and out and trying to behave and not go to the cafeteria and get overpriced snacks and drinks. I say that as I realize I forgot to bring my cup of water today.  Well that shoots that....ok I'm trying not to buy overpriced snacks because I have to already buy overpriced water.  I also spend time staring at blank pages and looking at works that have been started and trying to find inspiration as to where to go next with them.  Continuing this form of tortuous release feels like an exercise in futility and yet this is what I keep coming back to.  I have a healthy fear of both stopping and continuing.

The kids look at me like their mother just showed up to make sure they are being kind, respectful, and doing their work. They also tend to look at me like, "she doesn't even go here!"  I feel like an imposter and perhaps I am. It isn't an unfamiliar feeling for me.  I often feel like an imposter, as if I don't belong, I don't quite fit in no matter how hard I try. One of these doesn't belong and usually it is me. 

I'm plugged in which is how I normally write.  I am listening to Pandora because I can't figure out how to get free music on my Motorola and I can't figure out how to get iTunes to work on my computer because apparently it is downloaded onto too many computers for one account and must somehow be deleted from computers we no longer use.  Don't look at me like that.  I know!  It's things like this that show my age and are probably why I am not precisely "successful" in life. I grew up using a typewriter. Computers were just becoming a big deal in college for writing papers and most didn't even how printers they had floppy discs. I got married right out of college and got pregnant right after that.  My 'business' has been raising a family and I never did need a spreadsheet for that. I rarely even have a grocery list and tend to wing it.

I'm actually just winging life to be completely honest with you, never quite specializing in any one thing and never quite finding success in any of them either.  I'm not even sure I'm doing my makeup right when I take the time to put it on.  I go to the store if I run out of something and they have all these products I don't even understand what they are for. What is this bronzer stuff?  Why do we need that?  Go outside. You can get bronze from the sun for free?  Don't tell me it's for the winter, why do you need to be bronze in the winter unless you live in the south in which case....Go. Outside. Bronzers and highlighters and cc cream and bb creams.  The alphabet didn't used to come into play with makeup. I saw blue lipstick and green lipstick?  What is that about?  Halloween much?  I might look a little too natural at this point.

I still haven't figured out the dress code here either.  It is still getting into the upper 80's and 90's here and there are people in jeans and sweatshirts.  What's that about?  It's not ever going to get particularly cold here aside from those two weeks around February, but who cares I like the feeling of sweat running down my back? Don't get me wrong, I am all about bringing a sweater or sweatshirt for going inside cold places but can you say heat stroke when you walk outside?  I don't get it.  This is why I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb while here.  Although to be honest it is probably my own insecurity as I'm rarely noticed while I'm here.  Of course, that thinking could be my own delusions too.  I try to dress in a respectful yet stylish and cool way for a college campus while here.  I'm not sure I'm succeeding though because apparently the dress code is more grunge or athletic with only a few dressing the way I seem to think kids dress.

I wonder about these kids/young adults.  I'm curious if they realize how amazing they are just for being here.  I wonder if they get the blessing it is, how at one time college campuses were not quite so busy a place.  I hope they feel strong, and smart, and that they see all of the possibilities the world can hold for them.  Just as I wish those things for my own children.  I hope that they don't worry so much about what other people think. I think that is where we have gotten lost today.  So many are looking for approval from others for who they are.  Don't do that.  Be who you are.  Keep seeking to find out who that is and what that means for you.  It is OK to be weird. I'm kind of weird. and it works for me. Never stop learning, exploring, dreaming and seeking counsel from God who is really all that matters anyway. Don't let others set your pace because they aren't the one's running your race. While I'm on my soapbox dreaming of the future generation I'd also like to say that it is perfectly OK to sing along with the music in department stores or restaurants.  They want you to or they wouldn't play good music.  I would also like to say that if I happen to look in your direction, I'm probably lost in thought and not actually really focused on you at all. 

So that is how I came to be sitting on a college campus and not getting paid for it and not taking any classes.  It's a nice campus and the food here is top notch.  The offerings here really are amazing.  These kids have access to sushi and power bowls and a salad bar.  It's like club med in this cafeteria...not that I have ever been to club med and actually club med probably has people to bring you food and rub your shoulders if you look tense like me and have to remind yourself to relax your shoulders.  I don't know.  My expectations are usually off.  I once went to a country club in my home town for my husband's reunion and it was not nearly as fancy as I had built it up in my mind. I've digressed's the hunger and the fact I'm 98% parched her.  Until next time....

Thursday, August 24, 2017

High School and College and Stress,Oh My!

This year my son started high school.  My middle child started her final semester at the community college and will be leaving in January for university.  My oldest was dropped off last night at her university and I would be lying if I said that I was handling all of this will ease and grace.

Here's the thing...nothing can go easily. My son is on his fifth schedule for the year.  Yes, you read that right.  His FIFTH schedule for the freshman from another state that has no familiarity with the school whatsoever.  They do not give the students their schedules until the first day of school and when they handed him his first schedule it was a different schedule than what was in the computer.  This meant that he went to the wrong classes for the first three days of school.  As of today we are only on the eleventh day of school. I'm hoping that this is the last one.  You wouldn't think that this was a huge deal, they are just working out the kinks in the beginning of the year and now it will be smooth sailing from here out...except now his grades show missing work and F's for classes that he didn't attend because he was handed THE WRONG SCHEDULE.  If we could work this out that would be great.

My middle child had all of her classes registered had paid for them all and gotten her books for them.  She then received an email stating that one of her classes would not be happening due to lack of enrollment.  She went into the computer to drop that class and add another.  One would think this would be an even swap.  Evidently not and because we didn't pay for the new class right away she was dropped from every single class she had registered for. Today is the first day of classes, one would think that this would be a day that you would have the office staff in early to handle things like this.  It is not. 

We took my oldest to college last Thursday.  Her roommate nor her suitemates showed up. We also learned that a co-ed dorm meant boys and girls in the same hall.  We moved her stuff in and then took her home and had to return her to school Sunday night.  Fortunately there were people there.  It's an interesting experience really.  Especially if you go into college not knowing a single soul on campus.  You just show up and live with some random stranger you have never met and know nothing about.  I can think of no other time in life when this happens.  I suppose if you have an arranged marriage....maybe?  When was the last time you met someone who had an arranged marriage?  See?  It's awkward to the nth degree for everyone, especially for people with any bit of anxiety and who are introverts.  The entirety of the rest of one's life they will never enter into this kind of living arrangement.  Or I suppose maybe some people do, what do I know I've been married for the same number of years than I wasn't married in life.  It's 2017 and a very odd and strange world who knows what all these people are doing.
We have had a rough start.  At times the stresses and bumps in the road  have gotten the best of us.  It happens.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated.  We have been all of those things.  I have been all of those things.  You know what though...My son has been fine.  He's been mildly inconvenienced but has just rolled with it.  He just comes home tired and tells me who he knows in the classes he has now.  He says to me, " It will be fine, mom."  He is so like his dad that way.  Twenty seven years I have been with my husband you would think he would rub off on me.  The only thing I acquired is more sarcasm.  He is the calm in the storm and I am the storm.  I am so glad that at least one of our kids got the best of him.  I give them the worst of me. The girls get to be anxious balls of stress because I am an anxious ball of stress. I can only hope that if/when they someday marry they find Godly men who bring them calm as their father has brought me.

The first week with my son starting school was tough.  For me, cause as I said he was fine and rolls with it.  This week however, the girls started classes.  They've been nervous and stressed and so I've been nervous and stressed but you know, I also kind of think it's been awesome.  As I sit alone in the quiet to think about it some pretty amazing things have happened as well.  My son has shown that he is as steadfast and laid back as his father which is great to see. 

My middle child, after she freaked out and decided to take her frustrations out on me, has actually been given more opportunities at the school that she may not have had otherwise.  Because of this entire ordeal with her schedule and trying to get everything fixed we talked to someone in the music department and she offered her more scholarships if she signed up for her class and a different class from what she was trying to get transferred into.  She also has started talking to more music majors and was even invited to go get lunch with some new friends one day this week. 

My oldest, has had some things come up that she has needed help with and we are no longer just in the other room or right on the other side of town.  She has had to step out of her comfort zone to ask others for help.  She's not comfortable asking anyone anything except us usually.  She's also looking into activities to go to and things to get involved in.  For my quiet introverted girl who is uncomfortable in a lot of situations that involve people she doesn't know, this is huge!  I'm so proud of her. She's figuring things out and hopefully finding out she is braver and stronger than she thinks.

As for me...well...I'm still a big giant ball of stress mess.  I've actually been in a great deal of pain for a several days now just because my muscles are just tied in knots from worrying and stressing out over everything. I can't control everything. I really hate that.  I know I have control issues.  I usually need to have a handle on things and I've been rendered pretty helpless as it applies to the girls and their schools. I've kind of thought, as my friend Christi put it today, that if I stopped spinning my fingers the world would stop spinning.  This week the world has continued to spin and my fingers have had nothing to do with it.  I asked my middle child if she could see how God has worked her schedule mishap for the good.  That had that never happened there wouldn't be any more scholarships and she wouldn't be playing her oboe in a band again.  She said she does.  I hope so.  As it turns out I have little to no control over most things really. I'm not in charge of all things. (Control issues alert: I probably should be in charge of some things because...well I should.)  It's shocking, I know!  I was amazed too!  I pray for my kids every night and sometimes I might be a little too specific in my requests.  I wonder about that.  As if God doesn't already know our hearts and our requests before we ask them, how specific do you really need to be?  I bank on this for those nights (that are too numerous to count sadly) that I fall asleep in the middle of my prayers.  The girls are learning this week how to fly.  They are finding their feet anyway so they can learn to run which will help them to fly.  I am learning to let them even if it means they fly further away from me.  (I don't like it.  I don't have to.  I'm not in charge of the world and all things in it.  Sometime I wish I were.  Mostly I'm glad I'm not. It is exhausting spinning your fingers to keep the world in motion and besides I don't have the attention span for it.)  I just hope once they learn to fly they eventually find their feet again so they can follow them back least for a visit.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Because I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone it, People Like Me!

There was once a skit on Saturday Night Live where Stuart Smalley went on and did his daily affirmations: Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and Doggone it, People like me!  It seemed so silly at the time and everyone would laugh. I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately. 

Life seems so hard sometimes.  It feels if we work and we try and nothing we do is ever good enough.  We run ourselves ragged and yet nothing gets done. We save and we budget and there isn't enough.  You tell your kids how magnificent they are from birth, they are beautiful and smart, and kind and loving and loved and they don't believe you.  One kid tells them something different and all your work is for naught.  You follow a recipe and try to make healthy meals for your family and they don't turn out.  You work a program to lose weight and you put ten pounds on as soon as the program is over. You look for jobs and you don't qualify for any of the jobs that sound challenging and fun.  (Interesting how many things you don't qualify for having spent your life dedicated to your children) Your kids don't think you are as smart as dad and you don't think so either.  You're quirky and sarcastic and a people pleaser and people don't get your humor.  You go on Facebook and everyone has their crap together.  They can do it all.  You go on Pinterest and everyone is a professional decorator and gardener and chef and you cannot possibly do all of it...or even some of it.

Somewhere along the way we get lost.  I get lost.  Maybe it is just could just be me.  I moved and I live in paradise.  I have everything I ever wanted.  I have the husband, the children, the house with the palm trees and I've been lost. Sinking, trying to keep my head above the water, just treading water because my feet can't touch the bottom and I can't get my footing. I've been so busy trying to make everyone happy that I've forgotten how to be happy myself. I'm exhausted...all. the. time. 

I haven't even been reading books. Me!  Not reading books.  I buy books.  I bring books home.  I read a couple of chapters and put it down or maybe I'll read half of it, then put it down not to be looked at again.  There was once a time when I would sit down with a book and a cup of coffee (that doesn't actually taste like coffee) or tea and read.  I could read for hours.  Laundry would pile up, dinner would need fixed, the kids could fight and I didn't care.  I was in a book and I was filling my tank.
I haven't even been writing.  Obviously...I haven't been writing because if you are one who follows this blog you know how far and few between the posts are. 

There was a time I didn't concern myself with what people would think of my posts. I wrote for me and no one else.  Everyone else was just bonus.  The actual writing was cathartic for if by doing so it healed the broken vestiges of my heart.  Writing stories about my kids reminded me of my blessings. Just typing out what I was figuring out in life helped it to sink in somehow.  If what I wrote for me helped someone else that was God's business and not mine. Somewhere along the way I tried to take that from God and worry about that myself.  I started concerning myself with who was reading and what they thought about it.  Do I look stupid?  I shouldn't be writing.  I have no formal training....who am I anyway?  I should leave this to professionals.  Who do I think I am anyway, Beth Moore?  I love Beth Moore, but I cannot BE Beth Moore, nor do I want to.  I can't go talk in front of people.  I'm more of a Lizzy McGuire....RUN!!!!! kind of girl.  My mind would race and wouldn't shut down.  What once was healing and only for me, two books later, was no longer just for me and I wasn't sure I was that person.  The enjoyment disappeared and was replaced with a real sense of total fear.

Transitions are hard.  We moved a year and a half ago.  We settled in and made some friends and found a church and jobs.  The transition was hard on everyone but I made it my mission in life to do whatever I could to make sure everyone was transitioning well and they were happy.  They would be happy if it was the last thing I ever did.  They would be happy if it killed me. Working and doing everything for everyone because that is what we do as wives and mothers.  We bend over backwards to take care of everyone else and we forget to take care of ourselves...or maybe we just run out of time or get too tired.

I started reading a book recently (a couple actually) one asks "who told you, you weren't good enough?"  the other asks "what measuring stick are we using to measure perfection?"  I can't seem to find the balance.  I never feel like anything I do is good enough and I will never achieve perfection.  My meals will never be gourmet and my house will never look professionally decorated and will likely never be without dust or a pile of papers somewhere.  It's stressful.  Never feeling good enough, or smart enough, and never being able to tell if what you think is what God wants from you is really what God wants or what you want is stressful.  Having your kids growing up and leaving and not knowing who you are without them and how to fill your days once they are gone is stressful.  So many make it all look so effortless.  Why is it so hard?  Why do I continue to tear myself down and knock myself  down to size the moment I think I might be on to something that maybe I could do? 

Does God talk to you?  Does he tell you stuff?  I you know how to tell the difference between what you think God wants and what you want?  What if it's the same thing?  Does that happen and if so what do you do with that? I don't know...maybe God doesn't talk to me. Maybe I don't know how to recognize it if he does. 

I have questions!  I'm scrambling through this life full of questions.  Anyone?  Just me then?  OK ...I got it.  But if I'm anything I'm real.  I keep it real and I don't pretend to be something I'm just... not.  I am also pretty sure that when I feel like God is wanting me to do something I tend to want to pick and choose.  I also tend to be pretty sure that it can't be God asking me but it is just my own selfish desires coming into play.  I'm also quite certain that I am really good at running.  (Not actual running because that would be ridiculous and someone or something would have to be chasing me. If you see me running it would be a good idea to send help.) 

I love this place I call home. I feel blessed to be here.  I love this crazy family I get to spend this life with and I love God.  I don't talk nice about myself.  This has been pointed out to me.  I also have a growing relationship with the words "I can't" this has also been pointed out to me.  These friends are not wrong.  I just haven't figured out how to reprogram my brain into thinking or reacting another way. I am not unhappy I'm distressed.  I'm confused about my role not only in my family with my growing/grown children but also my role in the kingdom.  I'm also really quite scared about what I might find out.  I never said I made sense. 

In church today we talked about Got equipping the called and that he often doesn't call the equipped.  It makes so much more sense the other way around.  Although when I really stop and think about it, maybe it does.  Maybe it is easier to learn from someone who is or has been where you are.  Maybe it is harder to take things in from beautiful perfect people who seem to have always had their crap together because when you're scrambling around trying to figure things out what they have going on seems unattainable and out of reach.  Maybe it is easier to take things in from people who are just like you, just like me, lost sheep in need of a shepherd.  When you think about it like that it doesn't seem quite so crazy. 

So here's what I've got: Maybe daily affirmations aren't so bad.  Maybe they can be helpful when (like me) your inner voice isn't really very nice to you.  We need to take some time to fill our tank. I am not now nor will I ever be perfect.  It is completely unattainable and maybe that it ok.  I didn't use to care.  My goal was always food-edible, house-not condemnable, kids-loved, husband-loved, and the rest would just sort itself out.  My daughters are both going to be out of my house soon and I have to come to terms with that.  I have to learn to let them go and do and be what God wants them to be.  My baby is no longer a baby.  He's in high school and as hard as that is to come to terms with I have to deal with that too.  I don't know how or where that leaves me once they are all off living their lives and leaving me behind but maybe that's ok too.  I don't have to have it all figured out in a day, or a week or even this year.  What I really need to do is learn how to let go and let God handle it all and stop trying to do His job for him.  It is far too much for my tiny brain to handle and frankly it is exhausting.  Lastly, why should I be so concerned about living up to what I think others expect from me when I really don't know what they expect.  And does it really matter?  I'm a mom and I have the love of my husband and my children (most of the time) and so what if I don't have some high profile thing to talk about at reunions.  I don't like or go to reunions and it shouldn't be a competition anyway.  I'm not on anyone's journey but my own and for now I don't know what it holds and I need to learn to be ok with that too.