Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I hate July

Yep...I said it, "I HATE July".  I can honestly say that I think I've never really been too fond of the month of July; outside of the fact that my brother was born July is just plain hot...and I don't do well with hot.  But nearly five years ago my hatred of the month began to take hold and hasn't let go yet.

I know what you're thinking...I've got to just let it go. Can I be frank here? No one can really just let the death of a loved one go. No matter who that person was to you they were a part of you and they always will be. Doug will ALWAYS be a part of my life, no matter what.  Which means that to some degree I will ALWAYS hate the month of July.

This wasn't meant to be short and sweet, right now it feels like it may be, but who knows...maybe the writing bug has hit and I'll write a novel ;-).  The point I did want to make is that while hate is such a strong word, a word not to be taken lightly, it really is the only word I have to describe my feelings this evening.  I have felt this bubbling feeling for a few days now...and so has my man who is wonderful in all this...and I can't deny it any more. I actually thought that there was something else going on...that maybe Carl (the wonderful man) had done something (there was a situation, but nothing warranting the feelings that were bubbling below the surface), but when it was all said and done I found myself bawling on my bed realizing that next Thursday is 5 years since my beloved left this earth.  And along with that realization came the fact that for the first time in probably my whole life I am allowing myself to feel...really feel! And I felt hate! I felt anger all over again, hate at the fact that he's not here anymore, hope for the future (hope scares me spit-less!), love for those around me, new love for the man in my life (and his amazing kids!)...and then back to hate. No, I didn't go round and round like that, but going round and round emotionally does happen occasionally!

I didn't want to write this originally...I don't want people to think that I'm dwelling on the past or that I'm some kind of whack job Christian who walks around with hate in her heart. Yes, there is this part of me that grieves my husband not being here...and I HATE that he's not here to experience life with the wife of his youth and his beautiful children. But I don't stay there.  Which is why I write this.  I believe that I have fallen victim to a lie.  The lie that a 'good' Christian has it all together, doesn't secretly hate things in her heart, in completely compliant all the time, and is just perfect in every way.  You know what...I'M NOT PERFECT! I have flaws! (Ask my children...I'm sure they've got a list of all the things I've done wrong!) I am human and I make mistakes...and that's OK.

And if I'm not mistaken I am not alone in this.  I am pretty certain that I am not the only one who isn't perfect, who hasn't got it all together, or who has secrets that they feel others may be appalled at.  The one I'm willing to admit today is that I hate.  And I am not sorry to admit it because I know I am not alone and someone else needs to know that they are not alone either.  The difference between the feeling of hate and true hatred of something is this (in my opinion): The feeling of hate is just that...a feeling, a sense of ill will.  I do not remain in the feeling of hate, I recognize that it's there and I deal with it just as I would any other feeling.  And I pray...a lot. I know that I would not be where I am today without prayer and leaning on Jesus to help me through.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

That's it!

"That's it! I give up!" This loomed deep in the center of my inner being.  I didn't actually say it, but boy did I feel it.  Work has been horrible and really the main cause of my indifference...add to it 'normal' everyday life and there's a recipe for disaster.

The last few weeks have been especially rough...and unfortunately visibly rough (when supervisors bring it to your attention then you know it's bad). I have been with the company for 5 years, enough time to have seniority, yet was being treated like a new-hire...and I did not like it.  I balked and complained wanting to know why I was being asked to due such unskilled work, all the while knowing that I needed to seek the Lord on this, but not wanting to address what was really the issue...my attitude.  I even mentioned to others that I knew that my attitude was the determining factor in the whole situation, I just wasn't willing to lay it down.

Today was no different than any other day at work the last few weeks, except that I had the reason behind why I was being treated as I was (which is of no consequence in this post ;-)) and I had prayed today would be different; that I wouldn't seek out man's answer to this problem (which would have been to balk even more and become the proverbial squeaky wheel) but seek His answer in all this.  I want to jokingly say that God must be still sleeping at 3:30 am because that is not at all how my morning went.  (Let it be known that God does not sleep [Psalm 121:4]; it really is what I decide to do with that prayer, allow Him to work or ignore His prompting) I was asked to do an unskilled job, yet again, but this time I raised my voice saying that I was not the lowest on the seniority list in this area...which was met with opposition, deserved opposition.

Regrettably, how I responded laid the groundwork for the rest of my work morning.  This attitude even bled somewhat into my morning away from work.  Let me back up a minute.  As I was walking out of work I wanted SO BADLY to say something to my full-time supervisor, but I didn't and I believe that is the Holy Spirit right there.  I nearly cried when I got to my car because I was so upset at how the work day had gone, that I was seemingly forgotten yet again...but I made the trek home, bad attitude and all.

I got home and laid down...I was tired and hoped that my bad attitude would be gone with a nap.  I decided to listen to my daily Bible reading before I fell asleep and as it was playing my full-time supervisor called letting me know that I would be in the area that I am trained for, yet I needed to prove myself to my part-time supervisor.  As it turned out that was why I was being moved; not only do I generally work as directed but my part-time supervisor didn't know what to do with me because he saw my lack of effort regarding my work.  I told the full-time supervisor that I would work my tail off to set the record straight.  After I hung up the phone I cried...I had been such a brat and my Father took care of me.  Yes, I still have to work my tail off tomorrow, but I know that things would have turned out differently had I said something to the full-time supervisor before I left.

Which brings me back to my poor attitude that had started months ago.

I should have seen this attitude coming because as I look back I brought it on myself.  I ashamedly admit that I gave up on work, stopped really caring about work, about a month or so ago.  Work has been stressful and hard, supervisors have been just as stressful and hard but that doesn't condone my behavior.  Sadly I think I fell into the trap that seemingly most everyone at work falls into...the "I don't care, just give me my hours, let ME do what I want, and give ME MY paycheck" trap.  I had secretly vowed that I wouldn't succumb to that trap, yet with eyes wide open walked into the world of "it's all about me". Isn't that how the world is run nowadays? Serving the almighty ME? It shouldn't be.

I didn't realize that there was a connection (between what I had said about my work months earlier, the "I just don't care about work" attitude and what was happening to me with my part-time supervisor) until I sat down to write this post.  And the only reason I am doing so is because I noticed something that I thought would be helpful. I did take a nap, but it wasn't the nap that got rid of the attitude.  I saw a picture that reminded me of something I used to say, "Somedays ya just gotta put on your boots and dance anyway..." (my saying was more like, "OK put on the big girl panties and move on!").  I knew what I needed to do...put away the nasty attitude, put on the armor of God and move on with my day! At this point I've decided that I need not leave my room until I have met with my Maker and allowed Him to change me as only He can.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Names

What is in a name?  A name is a valuable asset, it's quite possibly one of the first labels a person is given!  I thought of this as I was writing for my church's blog (this would have been posted there first, however their website wouldn't let me enter it...) and noticed that my name was misspelled!  My name is not a unique name, however it is unique enough for it to be mispronounced by nearly every person I've ever met and don't get me started about spelling!  My name is Alicia (A-lee-sha), not hard at all, but I have been called A-lee-c-a, Al-ica, Allison (don't know why on that one!) and even A-lish-a (probably more than that); and it's been misspelled so many different ways that I can't even remember them all...for me to find my name on the bicycle nameplates they make for kids was a miracle when I was a kid!

What struck me though was just how much my identity rested in the correct spelling of my name...spelled wrong and they mean a different person, not me.  It was a huge issue for me...bigger than I had realized at the moment.

Names are big for God too.  He renamed Abram to Abraham to increase Abraham's faith.  I know many who have changed their names because God had told them too, they are no longer the old person and a name change proves that fact.  For me, I am quite happy with my name...it comes from a form of Alice, my grandmother of whom I resemble very much (from what I've been told).  It means "honest" (I've always thought it meant "truth", yet honest is wonderful as well ;-) ).  For me, to have it misspelled means that the meaning of it could change as well.

This is so not true.  I am who God created me to be, whether or not my name is spelled right!  If anything the misspelling caused me to evaluate, ponder, and enjoy my comfort in Him!

Idleness

I was at work yesterday talking with my supervisor about kids when the subject moved to keeping kids busy.  "Kids need to be kept busy, it's true what they say about 'idle hands' when it comes to kids," he said.  I wholeheartedly agreed with him, because when kids aren't kept active, they get bored and find things to do.  But that statement got me thinking...idle hands...idle minds.  It was like lightning had struck my brain!!  Having an idle mind is just as dangerous, if not more, than having idle hands!!

Webster's dictionary describes idle this way: 1. lacking worth or basis: vain <idle chatter> <idle pleasure> 2. not occupied or employed: a. having no employment: inactive <idle workers> b. not turned to normal or appropriate use <idle farmland> c. not scheduled to compete idle
 tomorrow> 3. a. shiftless, lazy b. having no evident lawful means of support.  I could have left it at one or two of the definitions, yet I wanted the whole idea to get stuck into my own brain and felt it necessary to share it so the whole idea is available.
When I searched 'idle' in a concordance I came up with a grave definition.  Webster's at least gives an idea that 'idle' can be OK sometimes...the Bible has a very different view.

Deuteronomy claims that the law is not idle for the Israelites (Deut. 32:47); Proverbs states that an idle man will starve (Proverbs 19:15); Ecclesiastes encourages work throughout the day (Ecc. 11:6) and continues with something to the effect of workers ceasing because they are not being supervised (12:3, very loose summation there, haha!); and Isaiah and Jeremiah both have their say in idleness, mostly referring to ones empty (idle) boasts.  The list continues into the New Testament, yet stays along the same thread of the harm of being idle.

This was all brought about due to my own bouts with insecurity...a nasty habit that I am earnestly trying to quit.  The lightning that hit me today was that when I allow my mind to be idle I am opening the door to insecurity.  I'm not talking just a little bit, I am talking blowing the door wide open and yelling, "COME ON IN!!"  Insecurity needs no invitation; it willingly comes right in at any opportunity.  But that opportunity comes in droves when I allow my mind to wander aimlessly.

According to 2 Corinthians 10:5, we are to "take every thought captive to obey Christ".  Some might say this is easier said than done...hey I might even be the loudest one to say that!  But it is TRUTH.  If I find myself thinking idly, thoughts that may be an invitation to insecurity or some other destruction, it really is easy to say, "No, I am to take every thought captive to obey Christ, and this is NOT what He has to say about me".  If you're like me you may be thinking, "Like what thoughts?"  Things as simple as, "I wonder what so and so are doing today" if you're given to feeling left out; or "I wonder why my spouse didn't answer their phone" if you're given to not trusting; or even "I wonder why God hasn't answered this prayer, I've done everything right"...see the common thread here?  They are all "I wonder" statements, for me that might as well say, "I wander" because that is what my mind is doing, wandering away from the truth of God's Word.

I may never understand half of the things that I have gone through in my life, but the truth is that I am never alone (Hebrews 13:5), He is my Provider (Genesis 22:14), and my Protector (Isaiah 31:5).  The joy is that all we have to do is rest in the knowledge of Hi Word, the truth.

I did not think that a conversation with my supervisor would provide such insight, but it did for me and I pray that it does the same for those who are reading this...blessings!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hard things...

So, I was in my laundry room this afternoon when I had a great blog idea...so great that I forgot it, sad face. But have no fear!  I have something else that is equally as great!!

As many may or may not know, last year my best friend and I (along with her husband, our kids, and all willing volunteers!) decided to put grass into our backyards.  It was a great adventure, filled with memories of hard work being paid off with beautiful yards to look at for the rest of the summer.  As summer has quickly approached us (I say 'summer' loosely as it really still is spring, but how can it be spring when it's 80* outside?!!) I realized that my yard was in desperate need of attention.  The front was easy: Rake the dead stuff out of the small landscape, spread weed-n-feed, and water like crazy...raking and weed-n-feed done in a day.  The back has taken me two days of raking and spreading weed-n-feed and I'm still not done!  I could easily get frustrated at the task taking so long, yet it is so much bigger than the front and I'm learning a lot...about myself, life, and yard work.

As I was raking for the second day this morning I found myself grumbling inside my head.  You know the type I'm talking about...the type of grumbling that we don't do aloud because "good Christians" don't grumble or complain, haha!  It went something like this, "Why am I raking?!" "Who can I pay to do this??" (I wouldn't really do that, but I cannot say that the thought didn't cross my mind!) and "Why is this so hard??!!" At the last thought I felt this thought cross my heart, not my mind, "I want my kids to look at me at the end of my life and say, 'My mom wasn't afraid to do the necessary hard things in her life to get things done.' "  WOW.  That spoke so much to me, so much that I quit my quiet grumbles and continued raking because now I had a new mission!

My mission was now to show my children, who had told me earlier that they were watching me, that I am not afraid to do the hard things in life.  And not just yard work.  I want them to know that I am not afraid to do the hard things like raising them alone for these last few years (and who knows how many more), like facing the ugly in my life that most would shrug off and not deal with, or dealing with the issues in my past that, again, most would just let lie 'under the rug' so-to-speak.

God showed me long ago that He never promised an easy road for His children, but rather that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  This has been proven in my life time and time again, and He has never left me when the going got rough.  In this season of my life things are not always easy, I'm going through things that are painful, but through that pain beauty will be found.  After all, raking and getting the dead things out of our lives will produce beauty that's just dying to get out...kind of like the yard full of dead grass - once it's gone the new growth beneath will have a chance to thrive....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Conversations...

I love conversations with my kiddos...they provide such radical insight!  This morning, well just now, I mentioned that Abraham Lincoln was considered depressed (a detail I learned in my psych book ;-)).  My girl asks, "What's depressed?"

"Well, it's where you're sad...a lot," I explained.  That's not the technical definition, however it suffices for the curious 9 year old, and it makes sense to her. I continued with this, "You know when daddy died, and I was in my room...a lot? I was depressed".  Her response floored me.

"You were a ship that sunk," she said.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

When Doug died, my ship had sunk.  And according to her this is how she processes his death as well.  She may not have told me as such, but her thoughts on depression tell me that it is true.

Thankfully, while that ship may have sunk we didn't go down with it.  That life did, but we did not.  We've created a new normal and have begun to move on.  This doesn't mean that we've forgotten that ship either, just as we don't forget actual ships that have sunk we won't forget Doug ;-).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Again?

My heart hurts...again.

Over the last few days I have pondered many things about the Holidays.  This is the fourth Holiday season without Doug and sadly it really hasn't gotten any easier.  In fact, I think I've just gotten better at covering up what's going on inside.

The first Christmas we were blessed to have our sweet friends the Berthoud's living with us, along with the Jones'.  Having them there helped to cushion the blows of being without Doug.  The kids got their socks blessed off by the Workman's Comp Fund and we made the best of it.  I wonder, though, if all the presents were just a distraction keeping us from dealing with the hurt and pain inside of all of us.

The next year we were all in new (and separate) homes.  This brought on a new type of pain, a pain of us realizing we were moving on without him.  The Berthoud's lived right across the street and came over when we put our tree up...the tree was a new tradition as well.  It was a fake one...maybe somewhat describing myself at that point in time - fake because I was hiding what was really going on inside from everyone including myself.  They helped us decorate and supported us in another time that we needed Jesus with flesh on...they really are the only ones who've seen us all at our worst and love and support us along the way of this healing road.

The third year I decided that we were healed enough to put our own decorations up without anyone for us to crutch on.  I KNOW that they would have been there in a heartbeat if I had asked, they always are.  Yet I also knew that if we didn't just rip the band-aid off, so-to-speak, we never would.  I've always been that way, I'd just rather deal with all the pain that ripping that band-aid off will yield than a festering band-aid that just annoys me.  We did good...we laughed, we cried, and we got it all up.

This year is really no different than last year.  Well, yes it is.  What I forgot to mention is that last year we went up to Montana to be with my sister for Thanksgiving and by the time we got back I didn't even really want to put the tree up because I was so busy with school and work.  But we did...just as we did again this year.  I think we even did better this year in our dealing with Doug not being here.  Yes, we cried.  Yes, I dealt with stubborn preteen emotions.  Yes, we got the tree up and it's gorgeous.

However, this year is different.  There have been many times where I've just thought, "Oh, how I wish Doug were here!"  Who doesn't want that extra shoulder to cry on?  Who doesn't want someone to shop with for the kids?  Who doesn't want someone to just help?  I have had my moments of crying out to the Lord because of different situations that I feel no one else would understand.  This year I shopped for the kids with the kids (I don't recommend it with 9 and 11 year olds!).  And this year I've also gotten phone calls about mice in the house (Joey's a good mouser, haha!), heard many a 's/he's picking on me!' and ran into a tree...all things I would love to have a helpmate for!

Again, though, I'm reminded that I have not been chosen to walk this road for no reason...He has always had a plan for this and every part of my life.  Just this morning I heard of another brother in the Lord who has gone on to be with Jesus...which is why my heart hurts again.  I read all the posts to his beloved wife and I'm almost immediately brought back to July 17, 2009.  I read all the well wishes, condolences and her broken heart and I hurt for her, with her.

So this post is two-fold: one for me to pour my heart out yet again and two for those who may read this that may be like most of the world in not knowing how to help someone who is going through the death of a spouse (the death of any one close really).  First: Give space.  Let them know that you are there if they want someone to talk to, yet don't be the one who is coming up frequently asking if they are OK, especially if you are not really close to them.  The honest answer to "are you OK?" is, "Well, what do you think? I just lost my spouse! Of course I'm not OK!"  Second: Give time.  Everyone grieves in their own way.  Some shut down and are 'ready' to move on right away; others take years to fully process what has happened.  There is no formula for when grief is done...really grief is going to be a part of their lives for the rest of their lives because there will always be something to remind them of their loved one.  Third: Give grace.  This is a touchy time.  Emotions are high and sometimes volatile toward those around them.  Please know that they are not themselves, they are just walking through the stages of grief and much grace may be needed.  Fourth: Give prayer.  They need it. Pray for peace, for comfort, for love, for some understanding, and for His will to be made alive in them.

If you are close, remain close if you can...if you can't do that well, it may be best if you took a backseat.  I was blessed with some amazing friends who have been through it all with me...one who has never been through what I have (and I pray she never does) yet she cries with me just as if it were her instead of me.  If you are not close and wonder what you could do, well, read the list above and if nothing else just pray for them!  Sometimes those who are close become distant and those who are distant become close.  God knows who we need in our lives and will place each of us in the right places at just the right time.  One of the finest gifts I got in the beginning of my grief walk was a friend who had waited to say anything because he and his wife knew what I was going through...yet at just the right time he sent an encouraging word letting me know that they were there if I ever needed anything.  (They knew my walk because they had lost a child in a fatal accident just a few years prior to Doug's death)

I pray that if this beloved sister reads this that she will be comforted both by these words and our heavenly Father who knew that this would happen and is holding her together when she feels that she is falling a part.  And I pray that you who read this and don't know what to do around those who are grieving gain a little insight into those who are.