Sunday, March 31, 2013

New space

I've moved.  For the moment.  Who knows if I'll stay or if I'll return.  Today, I'm posting over here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Everything Stays the Same

It has been over 2 months since I last posted.

In 3 days it will be one year since Daddy died.  Wednesday it will be 52 weeks, Friday it will be 365 days.

I still can't make myself say "passed away"
That's too gentle and easy.  It's not heartbroken enough.  As someone who prides herself on choosing the right word to evoke the desired emotion or feeling, passed away just doesn't do it.

A friend of my mom's reminds her
You'll never get over it,
but you will get used to it.

I kind of don't want to. It has been a year and I still rail at God for what He took away.  I still shout at him that It's not supposed to be like this. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

And I look around at my life.  And nothing has changed.  Except for a broken heart.

I am still in the same cozy 2 bedroom apartment.
I still have the same solidly running American-made car.
I still have the same job (basically) that I've had for 3+ years.
I still have no savings to my name.
I still have over half my credit card available limit used up.
I still have 3+ started novels that haven't gotten finished. And I haven't edited the first one I did finish.
I still haven't gone back to school.
I still haven't launched my freelance business.
I still haven't learned piano, in spite of specifically asking for a keyboard for my birthday last year so I could learn.
I am still single and just hope and pray that someday, someone will see a beauty and value in me that makes him want to stick around for more than a few dates.
I am still well into the "overweight" BMI range.
I still haven't memorized any more Bible verses.
I still have utterly sporadic and completely inconsistent "quiet time."
I still haven't started any of the groups I said I wanted to start.
I still wish I had said that one thing to Dad that I put off until it was literally too late to say.  I said The Important Stuff.  But there was this one thing. And I don't honestly think it would have made any difference to anything, but I still wish I had told him.

I am getting used to the broken heart.  I am still in shock.  I can go days and sometimes weeks before it really hits home that he is gone.  And the weirdest stuff sets me off.  Random lyrics that have nothing to do with loss.  Watching an episode of Bones where Booth finds out his dad has died.  My dresser being broken ... the dresser that Daddy put together for me.   And of course the obvious stuff.  Anniversaries and holidays.  Red Trucks.  Old school country songs.  Going to the cemetery.  Not being able to go to the cemetery because it is in Iowa.

And everything stays the same.  The whole of my life is almost identical to what it was a year ago.  I have the same questions for Dad and the same insecurities.  I have the same habits and pitfalls.  I still cry much too easily and don't talk directly to people about things I want to say or want to know.

Since I know most of you are my friends and know me personally, I know some of you are shaking your heads and saying that I've changed a lot or I've come a long way or whatever.  But that list has not changed. And that list are the things that Daddy would notice.  He probably wouldn't notice if I had gotten over an insecurity or two, he would notice if I could afford to buy myself a couch.  He wouldn't notice if I had memorized more Bible verses, he would notice if I was keeping my car clean.  Yeah, maybe he would notice, but he wouldn't have said anything.  He was truly, literally a man of very few words.  And I had so hoped that losing him would change something in me and make me more like him.  But so far .....  not so much.

So far ....  Everything stays the same.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I don't want this

"I don't want this."
I think that to myself at least once a week. If I'm having a very good week. If.

On a bad week it can be once a day.
Today? "I don't want this ring.  The one I bought that has Dad's birthstone.  The one I bought as a gift to myself in memory of him."
Last week? "I don't want my friend (my amazing, wonderful dear dear friend) to be finishing a quilt made out of his jeans.  Jeans that she can use only because he will never wear them again."
The last two weekends? "I don't want help cleaning and rearranging my apartment. I don't want help staying motivated to actually finish the job.  I don't want to need their help because the grief and depression are so heavy it takes more than I have to finish the job on my own."
Christmas Eve? "I don't want to tell the host we only need a table for 4.  Sister's boyfriend should make a table of 5, not 4."
October wedding? "I don't want to think about who might walk me down the aisle because he can't."

I haven't blogged much at all since October.  A part of me is sorry about that.  Another part of me wants to explain away that I've been focusing on finishing my last NaNo novel.  And the part that is still a raw and gaping wound wants to tell you that I haven't written because I've (apparently) been in a fair amount of denial about how much this still hurts.

I wonder sometimes if people expect me to be "better" in the grief.  No one expects you to "get over it" or to "move on" and I've had a lot of people tell me how well they think I'm doing and how much I impress them.  But, then I wonder if they would be surprised at the depth of my grief right now as I sit on my couch and the tears stream down my face and I hold my breath as I cry and then sob when I can't hold it any more.  I can't get the lyrics from Adele's Someone Like You out of my mind.

I had hoped you'd see my face
and that you'd be reminded
that, for me
it isn't over .

Nights like tonight it's almost as fresh as it was a week after he died.  It seems like it hasn't been that long since I sat in a chair in the living room and held his hand while his spirit drifted away.  Nights like tonight where the paradox is that it also feels like he's been gone for years. Like it's been forever since I heard his voice or kissed his stubbled cheek.

I admit, these days where the depth of my grief feels bottomless and I feel so very alone in the world are, in reality, becoming fewer and farther between.  But, I wonder.  I don't know why, but, I wonder if my friends would be surprised at how strongly I sometimes want to throw the plants across the room. If they would be surprised by the weight of grief I bear every day if I truly tried to express it in a way they could understand; or, if I could give it to them for just a minute.  Would they be astounded that I am keeping a job? That I am paying my bills (mostly on time)?  That I am mentoring college students?  That I am investing in my friendships?  That I am not literally floored for hours at a time?

A part of me answers "What choice do I have?  What is my other option? To let the depression take over? To let myself cease to function? To start calling in sick to work and laying on the couch watching Harry Potter over and over and over again?"  I don't know why I can't, don't, or won't do that.  I have often said, very flippantly, that's just not who I am, that's just not the kind of person I am.  But I am certain that there are people who thought they were as strong as I, apparently, am or truly are stronger, and yet a major loss like this still levels them.  I don't know why I continue to function. I don't know why I can't just give up and lay on this couch and cry until the pillows are soaked and I can barely see because my eyes are so swollen and I have a headache from the dehydration and pressure of it.  (shrug) But I just can't.

What I can say is that Jesus is still my Savior.  God still Loves Me.  My Heavenly Father has given me good gifts and will continue to only give me good gifts.  He has a plan for my life, a plan of hope. And I can say, without the slightest shadow of a hint of a doubt that The Holy Spirit's presence in my soul and mind is the only thing keeping me moving a lot of days.  I don't know why I'm one of those people who continues to function through a tragedy like this.  I do know that God told me a couple weeks ago that this is not simply something to endure.  That this loss is not something to just live with and figure out because it is something we will all go through in life.  He told me that there is a gift inside this loss, inside this journey.  I will have something at the end of this to show for it.  I don't know how tangible it will be or what form it will take.  But I believe that He has a higher plan and purpose for my life and that when I am finished in this world he will bring me home and I will see my Daddy again.  He gave me that gift the day my Dad died, the assurance that Jesus was taking him Home.

So, on nights like tonight I will let myself cry.  I will get a dish towel out of the closet because kleenex are expensive and leave bits of nonsense in your eyes.  I will stop on the way home and get fast food because there is some comfort in certain foods and I won't want to cook anyway.  I will allow myself to not answer the phone and not answer facebook and just lay on the couch and watch something semi-mindless on TV.

I will be gentle with my self and my heart.  I will remind myself that all of this is ok. That no one is judging me for any of it, and if they are they can go to hell and I probably don't care much about that person or their opinion anyway.  I will remind myself that God is still God and regardless of how much I miss my Dad and how angry I am at all these things that I don't want, HE is still worthy of my praise.  I will still Praise Him in this Storm.


I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, Amen and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands
And praise the God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on if I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
And as You mercy falls I raise my hands
And praise the God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Monday, December 26, 2011

Reason for Pessimism

I have been in counseling a little over a year now.  It has helped me immensely in quite a few areas of life. I wrote back in October during the 30 Days of Hope series about how I am more optimistic than I realized.  Then I have days like today.  Days where nothing goes right.  Everything I try has whatever the opposite of a Midas Touch is done to it and I end up crying. Repeatedly. Over stupid little things that don't work like they're supposed to or just don't work for me.  And I cry about Dad because that underlies everything that goes on in my life anymore.  And I end up doing what I did years ago when I hit my last serious, major bout with depression.  I escape to movies.

Last time I was Majorly depressed was in the early 2000s. I was living with my parents after graduating and living outside of Milwaukee for a year and a half.  I was a couple grand in credit card debt.  And that time the straw that put me over the edge was losing my job.  A job I didn't actually love all that much to begin with, but .... being unemployed is hard enough.  Add living with your parents. Add avoiding credit card companies calling.  Add the undiagnosed predisposition to depression lurking in your own body chemistry.  It was a fairly dark time for me.  I was sharing this with a friend once and told him I spent a lot of time watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Which had never struck me as odd until he pointed out that they are a fairly dark series of movies.  I shrugged and just said that I didn't know why but I was drawn to them.  It took me awhile to realize why I had begun and continued watching them.  It was because they were an entirely different world.  I knew, ultimately, it all turned out okay for most of the characters and their world remained intact.  Ultimately it drew me out of my own world where nothing seemed to go right.

I have, apparently, hit that wall again.  I spent a bit of time crying today because my TV won't talk to my Laptop even though I have the cord that should make them talk.  Then I cried because I thought I had figured out a solution and spent over an hour doing the stuff to try that solution only to realize the monitor cord does not actually come OFF of that monitor at all and the hour getting it ready was for nothing.  Then I decided "Screw it, I'm making a cake. And I'm going to eat as much of it as I want."  Only to get up and go to the kitchen and realize I have no eggs.  What did I do?

I laid down on my couch, tears still leaking from my eyes, and turned on Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix I had started last night.  Someone major dies in that one and even knowing that I decided I would rather lay here and disapparate (not a real word, but if you know anything about Potter you should know what that means, hopefully), into their world instead of my own.  When it was over I felt just a smidge less fragile and decided to brave the public eye.  Usually I don't like to go out in public looking like a hag or an eyesore or whatever other derogatory term I feel describes me at the time, but tonight I decided I didn't care.  Who am I trying to impress??  What are the odds I will run into someone I know or, more importantly, run into The Man of My Dreams.  Nil, so out I go.

First to Big Lots to try to find a computer monitor cord for cheap.  STRIKE ONE.
Then to Office Max, which is right around the corner, because they have to have those right?  Yep, for $38!!!  STRIKE TWO.
Then to a local grocery store to get cake, toilet paper and a frozen pizza.  They did have all 3 and I made it home safely and in one piece.  And I started eating the cake as soon as the pizza was in the oven.  But, see, the thing is, underneath everything.  Like, everything is this simmering anger.  Always. I wrote the other night about wanting to smash my plant.  Today I fantasized a bit about throwing the computer monitor off my balcony and/or through my picture window and off the balcony.  I snarled at the guy in Office Max. I flat out avoided looking at the girl at Big Lots whom I've talked to repeatedly on prior trips.  I nearly snapped at the girl ahead of me in the grocery store because not only was she a Couponer, she was married with a huge ring and looked to be about 20 years old.  That my friends was STRIKE THREE.

I snarled at traffic on the 3 block drive home.  I snapped at my car as I was getting out.  I threw small things across the room a couple times earlier today.  I am angry.  So so so angry.

But not because of Dad.  That added a layer for sure, but it didn't start there.  I realized a little over a month ago that I have been angry for years.  Like, years.  And I have no traumatic event to start it.  I have no Thing that ever happened that could explain this anger.  It is just there.  Simmering under the surface.  It rarely boils over at people I know personally.  Once in awhile I will vent to a friend about someone else in my life.  Usually if I go off at all it is at cashiers and poor sales people in the stores that are inciting that incident of flare up.  I don't think I have ever truly gone off completely unprovoked, just provoked by little things that seem WAY more huge because I'm already angry and fragile and irritable.

I have told friends, repeatedly, to pray for me because my own prayers for my own life rarely if ever get a "Yes" answer.  Often my prayers for friends get a "Yes," but mine almost never do.  Nearly every time I cry and have a fit or a breakdown or whatever I circle around to this.  When is it my turn? When do I get to hear a Yes? When will something finally go right for me the first time? When will it stop feeling like Every Single Thing in my life is 10x harder than it is in everyone else's???

Yes, some of that is perspective and no, I don't honestly believe many of my friends are living on Easy Street.  But, most of them are married which continues to be a Big Huge Fat NO for me.  Most of them have beautiful houses, which as long as that last one is a No, that remains a No.  Most of them have jobs they love or feel really fulfilled in and seem to enjoy .... or they are staying home with their kids, which is exactly what they want to be doing, again a Big No for me.  Most of them have the electronics they want and they work like they're supposed to, clearly a No for me.  By far and away most of them still have both of their parents, Big Huge Painful No.

So, yes, on the one hand I see that maybe I have reason to be angry.  But on the other hand, I know it goes deeper than just those circumstances.  I know it is more like bone deep.  More like that parable about looking for roses vs weeds I talk about all the time.  Since that anger is already there, always simmering, I notice the No's more often.  I feel the frustration and irritation and full-blown anger more often.  I actually feel a bit of a stab in my chest when someone gets engaged or posts wedding pics on facebook.  I react more strongly than may be warranted when I see posts about family and parents on facebook.  I very very often think about throwing things.  I walk through a room when I am frustrated and have a moment's consideration of what would happen if I grabbed the shoe rack and chucked it.  Or if I swiped everything off my dresser in one swoop of the arm.  Almost daily those thoughts occur to me.

So, although I did realize in October that I am more optimistic than I realized, I still think I have solid reason for pessimism.  Is it justified? Probably not.  Is it going anywhere? Probably not.  I'll let you know when I figure out what to do about it.  Until then, my pizza is done (which, by the way, melted between the bars on my rack and made another mess in my oven, Another Big No, apparently) and The Tourist is waiting for me to hit play.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Two Desks

I got a tweet awhile ago from a guy named Sween.  It said "My ideal job would have 2 desks.  One for work and one for flipping over in blind rages."  It made me laugh because I can see that scene from so many movies where somebody flips a desk or a table or whatever over in a fit of rage.

And I chuckled because I can see myself doing that.  In my youth I was a thrower.  I slammed my bedroom door so many times I loosened the brace thing and one day it simply fell.  After the subsequent conversation i stopped slamming doors.

I broke the turn signal knob off my first car in a fit of anger.  I was so embarassed afterwards that I didn't tell anyone about it.  I simply took the knob and stuck it in my glove compartment.  I had enough of the base of the knob to use that to signal with.  My dad had to drive my car once and asked me about it, that is probably the only reason anyone ever knew I had done that.

I cracked the antenna on that mini antenna knobby thing that used to come on cell phones because I would throw it across the car in anger.  Or I would throw it into the passenger floor board.

After admitting the cell phone thing to a friend she pointed out I should get rid of that habit because it's not a large leap from throwing a cell phone at the passenger door to throwing a plate at a husband.  I didn't take her advice to heart immediately, but very shortly after I started forcing myself to stop throwing things.

For awhile I cried when I was angry.  Almost exclusively in private.  Until I started working as a guard in a juvenile prison.  Crying from anger or frustration or despair or compassion was simply not going to work in that environment.  So I learned a different coping mechanism.  Swearing.  It was, for me, a way of accurately expressing how I felt.  You don't have to agree with me, but sometimes it just makes you feel better to drop the f-word.  Sometimes fudge or flock or darnit just doesn't cut it.  Brad Stein says that Christians should have their own swear words because "if you slam your hand in the car door, somethin' is comin' out of your mouth."

After I left the prison it took me a year or more to realize I had even shifted coping mechanisms at all.  It took me quite awhile to retrain myself back to crying.  Even now I swear way more than I ought to.  But, believe it or not, God and I are starting to work on that.  Just starting to get into some of the hard places that it comes from, so please be gentle with me.

All of this to say:
Tomorrow is my first Christmas without my Dad.  I told a friend this afternoon that the pain is less sharp than it used to be. And this afternoon when i sent that text, it was true.  But tonite, as I sit here facing Christmas Eve with just my sister and my mom, it's not less sharp, it's a different sharp.
Is one of us going to sit in his chair?
Will we still do our traditional family photo?
Will I make it through the next 24 hours without completely losing it?  I can handle a few tears with Mom and Sister, but I don't want to have a full-blown ten-steps-past-the-ugly-cry kind of breakdown in front of them.

I spent a wonderful day and evening with wonderful friends.  Friends who freely admit they don't truly "understand" what I'm going through but have walked this path with me more than anyone other than family has.  They were exactly the "therapy" I needed tonite.  I puttered around a bit when I got home, tidying up my schtuff.  And I walked past an end table I have.  One of the plants I got from my Dad's funeral is on it.  The plant is growing like crazy.  (I don't know what is better than a Green Thumb, but I have that).  I tend to touch or pet my plants.  I have two African violets and I love to take a few seconds and run my hands along their leaves to feel that fuzziness.  I sometimes just touch the leaves of my other plants as I walk past.  As I passed this particular plant tonight I had a moment's thought of running my hand over the leaves, but I have a bunch of stuff piled in front of the end table so I couldn't really reach the plant.  And just as quickly as I dismissed the idea of petting my plant, I had a strong but fleeting thought that I don't WANT the plant.  I had an image in my mind of picking up the pot and hurling it against something so that it breaks into a bunch of pieces.

But I have already trained myself out of throwing.  More importantly, destroying this plant does not change my reality.  Even if I broke the plant. Even if I cleaned up the mess.  Or if I had someone else clean up the mess.  Even if I set the thing on fire or threw it into the street or any other destructive thing I can think of.  My Dad is still dead.  He still won't be at the house tomorrow when I get there.  He still won't call me from his cell phone with a computer question.  He still won't be in "his" room playing spider solitaire and watching movies on TV.

As amused as I am by that tweet I mentioned at the opening of this post.  I know that destroying or even damaging something won't change the fact that my world no longer has my Dad. So, I will write this up and take my chances posting it on Christmas Eve.  I will cry hard after I hit publish and try to deal with these feelings now so I can be less fragile tomorrow.  And I will sleep.

And tomorrow I will love my family.  I will let my loved ones know that I care, that they mean something to me, that I am glad they are a part of my life.  Because none of us can guarantee that those loved ones will even make it to New Year's much less make it to next Christmas.  If you had told me a year ago that in less than 4 months my Dad would be dead, I probably would have punched you.  I would have told you to shut your mouth and not speak that into my life.  I don't truly have any regrets, but I do wonder if I would have done anything differently if I had known it would be our last Christmas as a family of 4.

Take the moments this Christmas to kiss your daddies and hug your mommas and squeeze the babies.  Say that you love them, out loud.  take their face in your hands and look them in the eyes and make sure they hear you.  Tell them how much they mean to you.  Don't take any chances this year by leaving something that important unsaid.  Don't be in a rush to get to the next thing.  Savor the moments.  Note the scenes around you.  Store up the memories for later.  You may need them sooner than you think.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

don't know my own strength

It's been quite awhile since I posted.  I would love to be able to say that's because i've been noveling furiously for NaNoWriMo.  That has had it's place, but I haven't spent every waking moment noveling.  If I had, I wouldn't be less than halfway to the goal with barely a week left to go.

This week has surprised me.  I've been seeing a counselor and I shared with her last week that I am very aware of my emotional state most of the time.  I can feel, like inside my chest, when I am getting what I have come to call "fragile."  That moment, or day, or situation, or worn-down-place where I know the wrong word, the wrong song lyric, the right hug will reduce me to weeping.  In those moments, at those times I close ranks, so to speak. I pull back from relationships that might strain me, which to be honest, there are very few of in my life.  I pay closer attention to the radio and jump away from songs that I know have nailed me in the past.  I pay a different type of attention to conversations with friends to try to keep it steered to safe topics.  Since the funeral in April I have only cried in front of three or maybe four people.  Like seriously lost it cried.  The can't talk kind of cried. One of those people is my mom.  Since the funeral I haven't cried in front of any of my other family.

I have only had a few "bad" days.  One or two a month where the old weight, the old heaviness, the old apathy show up again.  And I struggle to make coffee.  I struggle to focus.  I struggle to care.  But they are the exception.  They are still very hard and extremely frustrating because I can't control or predict them.  But I can deal with once or twice every month or so if it means the rest of my days feel like most people's days feel.  Not weighted.  Not heavy. Not apathetic.  I can deal with a few days.

I have had a number of people tell me at various points that they are proud of me for how I'm handling "everything."  Some have even said they are impressed at it.  For the most part I have graciously accepted the compliment and inwardly deflected it.  I have said to a few of them:
I don't know any other way to be. 
This is who I am,
this is how I've always been.
But a very dear friend of mine lost her father two years ago this weekend.  She moved away from her home state 7 months prior to that, moved to a 2nd different state weeks prior to that, got married in there, oh, and switched careers.  She changed jobs again afterwards.  

In the last twelve months I lost a job, made a plan to return to school, Dad got sick, I got a job, I nixed the plan for school, and dad died.  Oh, and I dated a dink for a couple weeks.

As someone with a degree in social work, I know that list of major life stressors that can cause all sorts of problems etc.  Marriage, Death and Career are 3 of the biggest things on that list.  Moving is very high as well.  She and I were talking the other day and she said that she was totally not motivated to work on stuff around her house.  But then she told me all the stuff she had already done.  I told her I thought she was doing great. I forget exactly what she said, but I think I answered with 'there will always be bad days,' mostly because she has reminded me of that repeatedly.  At one point I finally said to her:
Considering what each of us has been 
through in the last couple of years,
I'm surprised neither one of us 
is curled up in a fetal position 
on the floor 
in a closet.
A lot of days I am.  I am astounded that I continue to function.  I consider that it has been just over 7 months and I've kept down my job, continued to pay my bills, kept my apartment, maintained my friendships, and don't come home crying every night, or even every week.  Some days it feels like it's already been years.  I feel kind of awful for even saying it, but it almost feels like it's "always" been this way.  And, some days, it's fresh and the wound re-opens and the quiet tears on the way home turn into heaving, not breathing, beyond-the-ugly-cry sobbing once i make it safely inside these 4 walls I call home.

Almost a month ago a friend got married.  It was the first wedding since Dad died.  I cried a few tears watching her dad walk her down the aisle.  I cried a few more when her husband vowed to be with her "through every joy and every loss."  I cried a lot more when she danced with her dad to the Stephen Curtis Chapman song Cinderella.  But, I didn't escape or run away. I didn't cry on the way home.  I didn't weep when I got home.

My Aunt and Uncle came to our house this year for Thanksgiving.  We have never had Thanksgiving at our house.  Ever.  But they had their family Thanksgiving on Sunday so that they could be out here with us this year.  That touched my heart so much.  I decided to try to do something tangible to thank them for coming out.  I found out what kind of pie my uncle likes and made a Double Crust Raisin pie.  I also made a Pecan Pie in case the raisin one didn't turn out.  I took them over tonite because I also made a Pumpkin pie at mom's request and I knew she had made a chocolate cream, and oh my good gawd in heaven there is no way we can possibly eat that much pie if we wait until Thanksgiving to start!

When I pulled into our driveway I saw our family van that we gave them after Dad died sitting in our driveway.  That alone almost did me in.  I almost sat in my car in the driveway and wept.  Almost.

I took all 3 pies into the house and told my aunt and uncle that Suzie Homemaker made a visit and pulled out the raisin pie.  Uncle was very excited.  One tear escape when I told them I made the pie because I wanted to show them how much I appreciate them coming out here this year.  I made it through supper.  I made it through a game of Runs and Sets.  And 3 games of euchre.  But on the way home, Rascall Flatts was on the radio.  That did me in.

I've been crying off and on writing this whole thing.  When I typed "the funeral" the first time up above a few paragraphs I sobbed myself out of breath. twice.  But I came back to this.  I kept on.

I go to work every day.
I walk on my lunch hours.
I pay my bills.
I talk to my friends.
I spend time with my family.

I am not curled up in the fetal position on the floor in the closet.

As I write this, on Thanksgiving Eve, I recognize the God-given strength I carry.  I acknowledge that until this, I didn't know my own strength.  I accept that some consider it impressive for me to be at the place I am, emotionally, mentally, vocationally, relationally, whatever else -ally you can think of.  And, if you have spoken that into my life I thank you.  I thank you for speaking truth where I didn't see it.  I thank you for seeing me in a way and from a perspective that I can't see.

And if you are curled up in the fetal position on the floor in a closet.  The only thing required or requested of you right now?  Just. Keep. Breathing.  Consume some sort of sustenance every once in awhile.  Smell fresh air if you can manage it.  Let the sunlight hit your skin when you can.  And lay all of your weigh and heaviness and apathy and whatever else you struggle with, in God's hands.  Allow him to put his arms around you and hug you and hold you safe and protected.  He will take good care of you.  He will bring you through this.  He has been down this path himself.  He will not leave you.  He will take you down your new "normal" path and show you things you wouldn't have seen otherwise.  I promise you, in the end, You will see how everything has woven together and what purposes it all served.  Until then, just breathe, just let Him hold you.  You will one day realize that you also don't know your own strength.

Monday, October 31, 2011

~day 31~ Intangible

These last 30 days I have written about Hope.  I have written about my perceptions of hope.  I have written about the things that bring me hope.  I have written about the things I hoped would help you see hope in your own life.  More than once in this journey I thought

"But hope is intangible
a feeling
like faith
ephemeral "
(mostly because i wanted to use that word)

So what I'm really showing is the evidence of hope.  Like that old quote, I think from Billy Graham,

Can you see the wind? I can't see the wind.  
I can see the effects of the wind, 
but I can't see the wind.
Like faith
or hope
or love
or peace.
"Peace that surpasses understanding."  How do you explain to someone what peace is?
The same way you explain the wind.  The same way you explain faith.  You show evidence.
I have seen hope in so many new places in my life.  In so many new situations.

I am sure I have written about the parable of the King who wanted to know if his kingdom had more weeds or more roses.  He called two servants up and sent them out into his kingdom. One of them was to count the weeds, the other to count the roses.  When they returned the servant charged with counting the weeds was trembling and afraid as he approached the King.  He was greatly dismayed and on the verge of tears.  "Your Highness I am so sorry.  I had hoped to have a different answer for you.  But your kingdom is full of weeds.  From one end to the other."  The King thanked him for his efforts and asked for the 2nd servant to share what he found.  He was full of joy and bound into the King's presence with great joy.  "Your Highness, I counted and counted and counted your roses.  There are so many I lost count many times.  I tried to keep track with stones and marks and nothing worked, there were too many to be counted." (my paraphrase and elaboration).  The moral to this story being: What you look for, you will find.

If you spend your life looking for weeds, you will find weeds.
If you spend your life looking for roses, you will find roses.

I tend to look for weeds.  When left to my own natural bent, I see the bad, the potential for destruction or hurt, the negative possibilities. In spending these 31 days writing about Hope, I had to look for hope.  I forced myself to look for roses instead of weeds.  Through that I realized that I am a more positive person than I thought, certainly more moderate than negative.  As my counselor has told me a number of times, Stop being so hard on yourself.  In so many areas of life I have such a ridiculously high expectation of myself that it would be nearly impossible for me to achieve even if only in one area.  However, I try to achieve this Highest Standard in every area simultaneously.  When I inevitably fail it is more proof that there are more weeds in my kingdom than roses.  Through counseling, good friends, blogging, reading other good writers I am coming to be more gracious with myself.

I am beginning to see that the roses in my world truly do outnumber the weeds greatly.  Even if some of those weeds are the huge nasty ones that someone left alone a week too long because they weren't sure if it was a weed or a flower.  Here is my hope for you, as we look towards this holiday season that becomes so much nonsense, watch for the roses.  Don't focus so much on eliminating the weeds, watch for the roses and enjoy their place in your life.

But as for me, I wil hope continually,
And will Praise you yet more and more
Psalm 71:14

p.s. I will be mostly absent these next 30 days.  I will be writing my 3rd novel, Oblivion, for NaNoWriMo.  If you have enjoyed this series or wish to encourage writers in our pursuit of fiction, click on over to the righthand Sponsorship blog on the site and throw some money at a GREAT organization.