Archive | April 2014

Tools and Prayers

My husband and I have been spending a lot of time, and money, at home improvement stores lately. We’ve had to put off some home repairs for several years. We had a good start at them, but then life got in the way; he lost his job, I got pregnant, my brother died, I had a baby. You know, stuff like that. 🙂 

Some of our repairs are pretty straightforward and simple. New lights. Have I ever mentioned how scary it is to turn on a light and have it spark and smoke and go out? Ha, yeah, it is. So we have replaced lights, installed shelving, fixed a broken lock. Right now, those repairs are never ending!

Our bath tub faucet is leaking. Through a little lot of research, I’m pretty sure it’s the Moen carriage that needs to be replaced. From what I read from homeowners and plumbers alike, it’s NOT going to be an easy fix. It seems that even plumbers don’t like working on a Moen and recommended an upgrade to a Delta. 

I was thinking about going down to Lowe’s, finding someone in charge and asking them to fix the faucet. It would just be easier (on me) that way. 

What’s wrong with that picture? They must have the ability to do it. They work in a home improvement store after all!

Yeah, I’m totally kidding. I know it doesn’t work that way. Besides, I like to learn things and I will not acquire ANY new knowledge if someone else just comes in and does it for me!

Why then… why???? do we pray to God like that?

“Dear God, please take my craving for food away.”

“Dear God, can you fix my financial mess? Yes, again.” 

“Dear God, can you make me nice? Take away my bad attitude.”

Can I get an amen? Do you know what I mean?

Yes, of course He CAN do that. He most likely will not, but he CAN. If He did, however, what would we learn? Would we learn to control our finances, be nice to everyone, or to not eat the bad stuff? Nope. That probably would not happen. 

God WILL, however, give each and every one of us the tools to curb our cravings, be wise financial stewards or treat others kindly. He can help us with any of our issues, but sometimes it will take a lot of work and uncomfortable-ness on our part. Most of the time it’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy, but we WILL acquire strength and knowledge through Him. 

Just like the guy at Home Depot gives us the tools for our home repairs, God gives us the tools for our life repair. The big difference is that God will give it to us for free. It just costs a bit of faith and trust. The cost at Home Depot or Lowe’s? Well, I don’t even want to talk about it. 

Idiots

I’ve written before about how the way people treat other people disturbs me. I was talking, generally, about the way people treat or talk about strangers. You know the strangers I mean. The ones who irritate you or get under your skin. The guy in the next lane who cuts you off. “Idiot”. The frazzled lady who went through the 10 items or fewer lane with 15 items. “Can’t she count?” The dad who was a little harsh with his kid at Walmart. “He should have his kids taken away”.

You get the picture. People irritate us. Why? Not because they are idiots, but because we are human. (although I know people who would beg to differ and claim it IS because the other person is an idiot) Things happen. It’s this little thing called life.

The thing is, we have NO idea what is going on in that other person’s world. We don’t know what they are thinking, we assume. We don’t know what they are dealing with, it doesn’t cross our mind. That would be compassionate and a lot of us aren’t, at least not right away. We’re reactionary, we’re offended and we’re just looking out for our rights.

Little story. It’s true and I haven’t changed any names to protect anyone. 🙂 Taylor, Jack, Piper, Charlee, Chad and me were shopping at Target last weekend. I don’t remember what we were there to purchase. We’re there all the time, it sort of runs together. Before we left the store, I went into the restroom. When I came out, Chad said he also needed to go. I told him we would meet him at the truck. The five of us stood waiting to cross the parking lot, because there was a little traffic. I was holding Charlee, Taylor was behind me, Piper beside me and Jack… well, he was somewhere. Somewhere close. I’m not that terrible of a parent. A van stopped and its driver motioned for us to cross the street. Piper started to run across, when all of a sudden I yelled “Piper, STOP!”. By that time she had already reached the other side, and the driver that swerved around that van had already slammed on her brakes.

To her credit, the lady driving the car looked horrified. She threw her hand up ion the air and mouthed “Sorry, sorry!”

I have no idea what she was thinking. I assume that she was in a hurry, she figured the driver of the van was out for a leisurely stroll? I have no idea. I do know that her decision could have hurt my child. My heart was racing and the “what-ifs” flooded my over-active imagination.

BUT

She didn’t hurt my child. I don’t know what she was thinking, I don’t know what was going on in her life to make her in such a hurry. This is what I do know. She apologized. I hope that she learned her lesson and she thinks her choices through, instead of reacting in a hasty manner.

Here’s the thing, her bad decision certainly earned her the title of “idiot”, but don’t we all earn that title sometimes? So are we really idiots? Or are we humans? Humans who live, learn, make mistakes and hopefully never repeat those mistakes again.

I know this to be true, because I was that idiot the other day. I was pulling out into traffic. I saw 3 cars coming and pulled out, because it appeared I had time. If I had actually paused, instead of just turning, I would have seen that there was a fourth car leading the pack. Fortunately for me, and them, they had good brakes. I didn’t stop to assess my total surroundings, I was in a hurry and I made a bad decision. I learned my lesson.

I am human.

I am not an idiot.

And most of those idiots we encounter every day are just trying to get through this life, like us. Sometimes mistakes are made and when we are really, really lucky it costs nothing but a bit of embarrassment and an apology.

And those other times? Those are the ones I warn my kids about. How someone can do everything right and someone else can come through and alter live FOREVER. Sometimes that someone else is us, because none of us are immune to bad decisions. None of us are immune to being the idiot. We all get the chance.

Does knowing that sometimes you are the idiot make you want to be a bit more compassionate to the other “idiots” out there?

6 Things I have learned about Death and Dying

There used to be a time that death didn’t faze me. I knew it happened. I knew it happened to everybody, but I also thought it happened to everybody ELSE. In my life, people had passed away at the right time, in the right order. We lost great grandparents and grandparents. I had seen friends lose children or their husband, but that didn’t happen in my family. We were definitely blessed. 

Then, out of the natural order of life, my brother passed away from a heart attack during open heart surgery. A MASSIVE heart attack. His heart was so weak by the time it happened, there was nothing the doctors could do to save him. It wasn’t his turn to die. He was only 42. My parents are still living. He should have had at least 40 more years. Except he didn’t. 

Since then, I have fallen into a dangerous trap. I have fallen into the thinking of “This doesn’t matter, we’re all going to die anyway”. Some people have mistakenly thought I just had a healthy attitude about life and faith and death. 

In the 19 months since he passed, I have learned:

  1. It matters. Yes, we will die someday and what matters today won’t matter then, but today, right now. It matters. I think it’s healthy to keep today’s events in perspective and to realize that most things won’t be life altering and won’t be a big deal later in life, but some things are a big deal NOW and should be dealt with accordingly. 
  2. It hurts.When my brother passed, I had almost a lackadaisical attitude about it. I told people that we weren’t that close, because we weren’t. I found that his death still left a hole in my life.  
  3. It is not faithless to grieve. As a “good Christian”, I started this journey thinking that grieving was showing a lack of faith. I had witnessed other “good” Christians losing their loved ones and it seemed that they had so much faith that death barely had a sting. They would say the “good” Christian things, such as “She’s in heaven now”, “I’m just so thankful he’s not in pain”. They stood tall and death barely fazed them. Death was not God’s original plan though. Jesus WEPT when his friend died. If Jesus can feel the pain of death, I should too.
  4. It happens to everyone. At some point, each and every one of us will be affected by death. It will either happen to us, or it will happen to the people who surround us. Death isn’t choosy. You can’t run, you can’t hide and you can’t escape. Some day our time here will end. Fearing it won’t change it. 
  5. Death changes everything. After my brother died, everything was new. I had to find a new normal that closed in around the hole death had left in my life. When I went to the store, I would think “This is the first time I have been to this store since he died”. I don’t know if that’s normal and I guess I don’t really care, but everything after he died was new to me, because it was a journey to finding that new normal.
  6. Life goes on. My mom and I kind of laugh about this. The day after my brother passed away, she had to take the dog out. I mean dogs don’t stop pooping just because your world feels like it has stopped revolving. She was standing in the yard and said to herself “My son just died and I am standing out here waiting for the dog to poop”. Yep, life goes on. I still had to take the kids to school, take care of my pregnant self, make dinner, go grocery shopping and clean up after dogs.  

I guess this is a good time to say that it’s true. You don’t know what battles another person is facing. The person standing next to you in the elevator may seem aloof, but perhaps they have just gone through a death in their family. You just don’t know. So we should be practicing kindness to every one we meet, because we don’t know what they are going through or have been through. 

Death has changed me.

Grief is a long process.

We will all face it.

Let’s get through this life together. Okay? 🙂

Real Friendships

He flew over 3000 miles to be in my wedding.

She reminded me about the glucose gel packs I had bought for my husband.

They helped me raise $1500 for a mission trip to Nicaragua.

She corrects my spelling, grammar and usage every chance she gets.

Each of these people hold a special place in my life and heart. Most friends do. I have made many friends over the years, but I have made the above mentioned friends in the least likely of places. I didn’t meet them in a bar, at the grocery store, during church or while I was out on a morning walk.

I met them in a place that some say is “not real” or “scary”. I met them… online…. GASP! I discovered the joy of online friendships way back in 1989. I wasn’t even 15 years old yet when I struck up a friendship with a boy from Chicago. We were pen pals and we were best friends. The internet was unknown, but not scary back then. You had to be careful, but there wasn’t the stigma that there is now.

People tend to minimize the value of on-line relationships. Friendships made via the World Wide Web are written off as “not real” and the internet is “not real life”. While I have never sat at the same kitchen table with some of my friends, I have Skyped, messaged, texted, laughed and cried with these friends that are said to be not real. We have shared our secrets, sorrows and struggles with each other. We’ve celebrated the victories of life together.

When I was panicking over my husband’s low blood sugar, it was an online friend who reminded me of the glucose gel I had just bought, because we share that kind of stuff with each other.

I’ve struggled to find and join a bible study for years. I finally found that community online. My maid of honor was that boy I met in 1989.

My online friends have turned into real life friends, and I may have met more of my friends online than at church, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Few of these friendships have fallen away, because we are pretty okay with going long,periods without talking to each other. We know that with the click of a mouse or a text message, the other person will be there.

Being there, wherever you meet, isn’t that what friendship is all about?

Life and Changing

It’s funny, just a week ago I was distraught over my husband’s vasectomy. I was in tears and I didn’t know when, if ever, I would get over feeling the way I did. We had put the deed off for over 8 years. He was going to get it done when our almost 9 year old was born. Things consistently got in the way – money, finances, losing jobs. Reasons kept coming up and we kept putting it off. Thank God we did, because this little cutie joined our lives in January of 2013:

Image

 

Some things are just meant to be. 🙂

A week ago, I wrote this. It was hard for me to admit that I was upset. I kind of felt like I was supposed to suck it up and move on, but I was mourning. Not only was I mourning, but it brought up all the grief from when my brother died, so I felt like I had been hit with a double whammy. 

That post brought some healing for me. Friends messaged me and shared their stories. They showed me that I was not alone in how I was feeling. One friend said that she got her tubes tied and when it was done, she laid on the table and CRIED because that stage of her life was over. When I knew it was her choice and she still mourned, I felt a lot better about the sadness hovering in my heart. 

That stage of my life was over. I have always had a bit of difficulty with change and moving on. I don’t even want more babies. I’ve gladly accepted my surprises, but I am okay with not having more. I am at a point in my life where I am realizing how fleeting life is. My parents are aging, my brother has died. I’m not looking forward to some stages of life and saying goodbye to this stage brought all that up.

In the past week I have cried, mourned, and been a little more pissy than I should be, but I can tell you, now I’m okay. I’m looking forward to this next stage of life and this next stage of my husband’s and my marriage. A friend messaged me and said “This next stage will be okay. The exciting part is it will be about just you and your hubby. You won’t be trying to get pregnant or trying to prevent pregnancy”. 

And, honestly, friends, that’s something I can get REALLY excited about. <wink, wink> 

And for anyone who goes through this and mourns, it’s okay. It’s normal! For some reason this isn’t the stuff people talk about. I NEVER knew that people mourn this stage of life. I’ve always heard the “Whoo hoo, it’s done!” and never the “boo hoo, it’s done”. 

In the Word

The longer I am a Christian, the longer some very well meaning catch phrases annoy me. There are plenty of blog posts on the ol’ blogosphere talking about “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” or “God must have needed an angel” or any other similar ones. 

The phrase that really bugs me involves the words “In the word”. It is a catch all solution to every problem that comes our way. I agree that great wisdom can be gleaned from the Bible and I think that we should spend time renewing ourselves in His word. I live with someone, though, that has had this phrase said to him on more than one occasion by other men who are considered to be “holy” or up there with Christ. They might say “You need to be in the Word” when he says “I’m struggling, I’m depressed, God feels so far away”. He hears “you’re a failure, you’re not doing enough, if you were in the Word, you wouldn’t be afflicted by these issues”.

It’s just not true. 

I imagine it’s something like this: I fall over board, I can’t swim, I’m losing hope, my head is sinking beneath the waters. I yell out “Help me, help me!” and even though someone on the boat has the tools to get me out of that water, they lean over the side of the boat and say “You just need to be in the Word!” No hand out to bring me out of the water, no life vest, nothing. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even throw me a bible. 

Yeah, yeah, I know that’s a little extreme. I think in pictures. I visualize everything!

Christians have a Savior, not a guaranteed easy life. I mean if we all spent time “in the Word”, would our problems magically disappear? NO! Although our time on earth is temporary, we still have to live here and we have to deal with the curveballs thrown to us and the lemons handed to us. We get depressed, discouraged, frustrated, lost, angry, confused, etc. I could go on and on. When I am any of the aforementioned, I get lost in “the Word”. Things blur and I am so consumed with my issue that I don’t even know what I am looking for and I am certainly not finding it. 

What I need is a friend to pray. Someone to say “Lord, she feels far from you. Please show yourself to her, remind her that she is never alone and that you have never left. Use people like me to minister to her when she can’t minister to herself or others”. This is what everyone needs. Someone to pray, someone to come along the side of us, someone to throw us a flotation device, to hold our head above water. 

In the Word is a great solution, however it is not the only solution. Sometimes God sends one of us to stand in the trenches for our struggling loved ones. Let’s not abdicate our responsibilities as a follower of Christ by saying “You need to get in the Word”, then washing our hands and walking away. 

Let’s show what the Word is all about by doing, being and praying. 

Amen?