Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Year In Review

2012 is drawing to a close.  I have never been so happy to see a year ending.  This was a rough one for me.  I think I will do several cartwheels at 12:01 next Tuesday morning, yes I can still do cartwheels.  

This year started with a miscarriage that lasted far longer than it should've.  Was immediately followed by the reveal that Jonathan was, well... Jonathan.  And has dragged on interminably with detail after painstaking detail of my divorce, moving, being homeless, carless and jobless.  I have lost friends, quite a few.  I've lost weight, not as much as I would've liked.  And I've lost a life, the only one I knew for 8.5 years.  Not to mention the car, house, source of income and good deal of pride.

I would be lying to say it wasn't a lot to lose.  I had to grieve a lot in this process.  

But there are some things that have been really great to lose:

-- In laws, I will not be in a hurry to get another set of those, nope.

-- Definitely one of the worst husbands ever known to man.

-- Guilt, shame and confusion about my marriage failing and not having any idea why.

-- The burden of trying to keep Jonathan on his feet and working and functioning!  Woo hoo for freedom from co-dependence.

-- The need to please everyone all the time, always be the one giving and never asking anything from anyone.  I have had to ask for a lot of help and that has been good for me.

-- My house, it's been hard to move on and lose it, but I knew I couldn't manage it by myself and it's very freeing to be somewhere I can manage.  

-- Fake friends, the friends that are still standing, let me tell you, they have gone through the fire with me, baby.  Thanks guys or rather... girls.

-- The need to not speak honestly about my life.  Before, I could never tell people what it was really like, I couldn't be totally honest.  Now, I shoot completely straight.  I don't tell everyone everything, but if I want to speak, I do so frankly.

-- The need to tell EVERYONE why I'm getting divorced so that all the goody two shoes won't judge me.  Judge away people.  I'm divorced.  Whatev

What I have gained:

-- A more complete picture of Christ's grace for me.  I confess that I knew what grace was before.  Now I have to LIVE in that grace.  All the time.  I fail and I need to swim in it.

-- More friends!!  I am not alone.  My circle has changed a lot over the last year, but there are people and they love me and they are not afraid of my story and me talking about it.  And, best of all THEY BELIEVE ME.  If any of you have ever experienced not having your pain or experience or abuse believed you know how incredibly painful that is.  It's pain and betrayal all wrapped in one.  

-- A freedom from fear.  I still occasionally get scared of things.  But I know what it's like to lay that down and I can say that I feel free from it.   Which is partially because I'm free from crazy man but mostly because I've found God in my fear.

-- A passion for writing.  It's a hum that my brain, spirit and fingers get.  It rocks.  I love it.  

-- A stable home. Where everyone knows what is expected and people do what they say they're going to do and if they don't; there's a cost.  Sort of like living in the real world is for most of us.  

-- Peace with myself, with God and with my family of four

-- Clarity about life and a focus for it.  And better boundaries for what are acceptable and unacceptable ways of interacting with me.  

God, I'm so thankful for the way  you have charted our course over this year.  It has been so hard God and I have cried so many tears.  But I have seen you Jesus, Spirit and Father.  I have seen you in the faces of my children.  The hands of those loving me and the feet of those who have brought us the good news.  God, you have come for us.  You have loved us.  You have helped others to love us.  Chart our course God and guide our steps.  Help me remember to point others to you each and every time I fall short and when I succeed.  Protect us Lord, keep your hand upon us.  And God please keep evil far from us.  In the precious name of Jesus.  Let it be so.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What to say, what not to say

Right or wrong, God's will or not, we've experienced a lot of tragedy in my family.  People always say the most unhelpful things.  If you're wondering what to say and what not to, here's an article that is right on.  

 What to say

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Evil is Rampant

As most of the rest of the world did this week, I spent a good portion of it in shock.  Then angry, then in tears and then praying.  It shocked me that yet again someone would exact such violence upon children.  CHILDREN.  I had an extreme amount of compassion for their poor parents that lost their babies so close to Christmas.  I have buried a few family members including my sister and I know that it doesn't matter what part of the year that they die it will always be hard.  But this type of grief so close to a major holiday is like turning the knife a little quicker, pushing it a little deeper and holding it in a little longer.   Partially because they don't have any time to prepare before the next emotional heartache they will suffer.  Also because the families will feel the need to normalize this Christmas for the rest of their families and there is no way to do that.  The need to create that illusion is an innate drive but the ability to create it and remain emotionally present is a farce.  I remember the first Christmas I had after my sister was gone.  I remember knowing my mom was trying to make it normal and she failed so catastrophically.  I remember seeing her pain and wanting to comfort her and let her know that it was okay not for it to be normal.  Because it was so far from normal for me too. 

Because I am from a family of educators I couldn't help but think of the teachers.  So sure that they were terrified and knowing that if my family members were in that situation they wouldn't hesitate to place themselves in front of their students.  I have gained a marine for a family member recently and I have done a lot of contemplating about what it means for Nick to be willing lay his life on the line for us.  This tragedy helped me to consider how many other professions there are where we are called to protect and serve.  It's obvious that those who carry weapons to defend us do that.  They are called the sheep dogs, we are the sheep and the 'bad guys' are the wolves.  But occasionally a simple sheep stands in front of their fellow sheep and protects them.  I am sure there are many heroes to draw attention to and to honor in this situation.  The stories are coming to light hourly of these brave people. 

I also am thinking of the men and women who are our 'sheep dogs' who had to care for the victims as they died and afterwards and those who notified the families.  I can't imagine their suffering right now.  I can only pray that God can ease their pain.  But I cannot imagine anything that would.  I cannot find any comfort in this situation.  Knowing that Heaven is a better place is little comfort in this type of grief. 

And like you, I have wondered.  How does this happen?  Is this a product of our 'gun hungry' society?  Is this tragedy a product of a lack of attention to mental illness and proper treatment of it?  If there had been an armed educator in the building would that have stopped it?  If we didn't allow the legal sale of guns in our country, would that have prevented this tragedy?  

I don't think so.  I don't think any of those things are the issues.  The issue is evil.  Evil rules our world.  It is rampant and Satan is in power.  For sure, God will return and He will make Satan pay.  But for now, we live in a world of our own choosing.  We have chosen sin.  We choose it now, today and for millenia our predecessors have chosen it. 

And like sheep, we are duped.  We think we can control evil.  We think we can place it in a box in our lives and only allow it to go so far.  We are wrong.  There is only one thing that can stop evil in our lives and our world.  That is the relentless, passionate pursuit of God.  He is the sole antidote.  

I am duped every day.  I do not say this to throw stones.  I swallow the lie as well.  I think, well, this sin isn't that bad.  If I swear and profane things, and think to myself: at least I'm being honest.  It's better than being a liar.  But God is clear, James 3:10, we should not bless and curse out of the same mouth (my paraphrase).  I know it's wrong and yet I do it anyway.  I think I can control the evil.  As if disobeying God is an option that won't lead to more disobeying.  To be honest when I swear, I'm more prone to anger, I feel it more completely.  But I think I'm letting it out which is better than keeping it in.  So I'm duped into thinking it's okay for me to release my anger into the big wide world.  Which is also a whole other sin that makes me more important than you in my mind, another sin, pride.  And therefore evil.  Yet I choose to ignore it.  I choose to believe that Satan is not as powerful as he is and that I am in total control.  That there is no such thing as giving Evil a foothold.  

But I'm wrong and deluded and so are you.  To be fair I think that the man that committed these atrocities is mentally insane.  I don't have another explanation for how someone could do something like this.  And I am no expert on mental illness and evil and God and how that all works out.  But we should heed the warning just the same.  If you give Satan an inch, don't expect him to be satisfied with that.  He's always going to want more.  He's come to kill, steal and destroy.  If you let him have part of you, he's going to want the rest.  And to take out your family, friends and loved ones while he's at it.  

Relentless pursuit of the Holy, that which is good, right and godly.  Of God, Himself.  This is what our antidote to evil is.  Please pray for these victims for their families, community and those that serve them.  And please pray for yourself as well.  That you can hold tightly to Christ and make Him first in your life.  I will pray for you and for us as well. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The First Christmas

Christmas is coming.  I'm currently typing with a sleeping snuggled baby girl on my shoulder.  She's pretty cute and snoring, btw.  Multitasking at its best.  ;-) 

It's going to be an interesting, different Christmas for my family of four.  I've decided to cut myself a little slack in the "we need do EVERYTHING we've ever done for the holidays" pressure.  We have done a few things, we'll do a few more and it will be simple.  Simple is good and not at all the style that I was used to living with.  This is not the year for me to be the hero and do every holiday tradition known to man. 

With 11 days to go I have been contemplating quite a few things about Christmas.  

1)  What was the birth of Jesus really like?  Mary and Joseph were alone after all.  She had never gone through this before and was all of 14 years old thereabouts.  He had never gone through this before (presumably, the men weren't exactly present for a lot of births 2000+ years ago).  How did they know what they were doing?  Birth isn't as straightforward as the inexperienced hope.  Believe me, I've done it a few times.  And a first birth can be heroically difficult.  I've settled on it being not that silent of a night AND on Mary and Joseph being amazing people for navigating that alone.  The birth of God and only two were present.   That is an awe inspiring thought.  How many more were present anticipating your birth or the birth of your child?  But God, he had two.  And the hosts of heaven looking on, wishing them well, praying for their best.  Sometimes less people is good and more heaven is always better. 

2)  I have had a lot of people in my life who have been bringing Christ's love right to me lately.  Almost wrapped in presents with a pretty bow.  The needs of my family have been pretty great and daunting for me to meet solo.   There have been others, some times I know them and some times I don't, that have felt called to help us in a myriad of ways.  I cry almost daily when I think about these people and how much God has provided to us through them.  We are still struggling, it continues to be hard and we are maxed out.  But God is taking care of the sparrows through people like you.  When I have the privilege of meeting one of these blessings I often feel like I am staring at a miracle.  I want to say 'who am I that you would care for me?' and then I remember Jesus' words in Matthew 19, 'whatever you do for the least of these my brothers you have done for me.'  We are the least and you have made us great in your sight.  Thank you.

3) And of course, I've been thinking about my kids.  Their first divorced family Christmas.  I hate that they have to own that word in anyway, but the reality of this life is that this Christmas will be different than all of their previous ones.  And it will be a model of Christmases to come.  I'm not worried about how much they will or won't like Christmas.  I'm not worried about dealing with tears or tantrums or tempers.  I'm not worried about whether or not I will get it all done because our situation has greatly limited what I have to do.  I just want them to know they are loved and what Christmas is really about and to show some gratefulness.  These are the same things I have wanted for them for every Christmas since they were born.  It's no different now.  So I know I will create a Christmas where they are loved, I will teach them to the best of my ability the meaning of Christmas and I am relatively sure that they will not show as much gratefulness as I think they should.  AND in that way it will be just like every other Christmas.