"I have to get back to what I was before." I heard these words in my head over and over about many things in my life in the last few years. I have to get back to the weight I was before, to the level of commitment I had before, to the things that made me happy, to way I parented I was home with my kids...the list goes on. But it wasn't until this morning that I really started putting it all together. I am not going back. It's all about going forward.
Today when I was out running/walking it dawned on me, that I couldn't go back to any of it. Not one thing is really the same as it was even five years ago, let alone eight to ten years earlier. I realized that in just about every area of my life I am in a different place than I was before-- as a mom, as a wife, professionally, personally and spiritually. So how can I go back to what I was before (and do I really want to)? I started to feel this weight lift off of me as I realized how hard I was making it to go forward when I was anchoring myself to some success and goals met in the past. It is hard to move forward while looking at where you were; and thinking that back there holds something you need to get to the next step.
I have been working through Donald Miller's Storyline chart and I focused each role (each part I play in everyday life). I took some time to reflect on what was different about those roles now as compared to five years ago. I thought the differences between a mother of young children, home schooling them, and now with two adult children, and three in high school and how different that is. I thought about what I want with them as we move forward instead of what we have had. I noticed that I was feeling like I have to try really hard to maintain that something that I at that time, but I can't because it isn't the same. Acknowledging it is different, I took a deep breath and it felt good. Then I thought about my role as a professional. How everything is new as I am stepping into counseling, advocating for adoption and families, and writing and speaking. It is all new territory that requires me to let go of what I was doing before so that I give time and space for these new avenues. As soon as I let it go, there came a freedom and clarity in what lies ahead. It felt awesome. I did this with each area where things had changed. As a result I felt more focused and way more able to reach for things I want to see happen in each of those areas.
Then I thought of this verse: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14).
I don't think my life is dull at all, so we can rule that one out right off the bat!! In fact I came across a note I had written and placed in my old Bible from college. The note said, "What are you going to do to keep your life from being ordinary?" I used to think of myself as organized and I think outside of living with Jesus, I would have settled for a more dull and lot more organized life.
I think my life is pretty exciting. I am never bored and I do my best to keep people around me from getting bored. I don't see my life as a caper. You might have to read Bob Goff's book Love Does to really a get a picture of a life full of exciting capers. But I do live in a way that I hope ultimately my life will shine in light of eternity. And that effort keeps things pretty exciting most of the time.
I believe we are here for such a short time really, and our moments count.So I want mine days to be meaningful and I find meaning in the things I do and who I do them with. I like to have fun with my kids and create memories with them. I try to live for things that will last and spend time and money where moth and rust won't destroy.
I like the way this one is worded..once when. It takes into account that our feelings get hurt and that there has clearly been more than one time. Feelings getting hurt is part of our human experience, at least it is if we really live in connection with others.
So besides the other little bumps and scrapes we all get from our times together..the cross word, the sullen look, the words said when tired or hungry or just plain grouchiness; there are times of hurt feelings from real intent as well as misunderstandings. I am thinking about criticism, judgements, gossip and the like.
I don't like being so sensitive that it even matters to me what others think or say about me, but I am. In most cases when there is real intent, I have had to just move on and do what I think is the right thing even if someone disagrees or opposes me in it. And then I have to forgive as well. Getting over the sting of hurt feelings is the hardest part. Then assessing if that person is someone you can trust or not is important. Was it intentional? Can we talk about it? Are they someone I should have close in my life? The good thing about hurt feelings, is it repairable and we can heal from most bumps and bruises. Sometimes we need to have thicker skin, and a better sense of who we are so we are being tossed around by others thoughts and emotions so much.
I think for me, my hurt feelings that are more difficult to overcome are the times when I feel attack as a person, my character. I think I put a lot of value on how I live my life, and it means a lot (maybe too much at times) to me that people see how hard I work, and that I am living my life in light of my beliefs and yes, I want people to like me. It is the most difficult thing to be misunderstood and judged for something that seems like people should be able to discern could not be true in light of who you are. I have had more than one time of being hurt by these kinds of judgments or gossip and it stings everytime. I want to stand up and shout "Don't you know me better than that??" But usually I don't say anything. I don't hit these things head on, I tend to just try and suck it up and move on.This is not the same as forgiving, because I can suck it up and still hold a grudge. Forgiveness is letting go and that is another topic!
I am working on confronting lies and misunderstandings and gossip more directly. Once my feelings are hurt, I am more likely to avoid the person or situation. I am also working on being honest and letting people know that it did hurt. This is not natural for me. When I get really hurt, I won't acknowledge it hurt me. In the past some people believed they could say whatever they wanted to me or about me, because it came across like I didn't care and wasn't sensitive. In an effort to have them like me, I did not stand up for myself. While I don't want to be confrontational nor is every little thing said or done in need of addressing, there are times I need to meet my accusers head on. I believe now it is important to let people know when they are stepping on your toes, or worse hitting you with the giant plank in their own eye!
I am pretty sensitive and fairly emotional. I cry pretty easily, that is I tear up easily. I get tears in my eyes when touched by something I read or watch that touches me emotionally, when I am really blessed or happy, when I am frustrated or even when I am really overwhelmed with things I can't seem to solve or work out. But I don't often just break down and have a really good cry, even though there are many times I want to.
The last time I really, really cried was last month. One of my children was having an incredibly difficult time. It effected our whole family and my older children came to be with her, the younger ones were concerned. I had a group of friends helping me by praying for us, for my child, for me as a mom. Many times during the first 24 hours when we were all together with my daughter I would get teary eyed, cry a little and was feeling everything happening in deep ways. But I also felt like I had to be strong, full of hope for those around me. I had to make multiple decisions and talk to multiple health-care people and I had to decide how best to really help her through while offering hope and stability. All of this was also on less than 3 hours sleep.
Once the first decisions were made, and I saw her in a safe place, I was alone at that point. The other kids were gone and I walked to my car and I completely lost it. I cried uncontrollably in my car in the parking lot, unable to drive. I could no longer hold it together. Her pain and my worry about her met me full force. My own inadequacies as a mother, as a person, hit me in that moment as well. Thankfulness that we were able to get help, that my older kids had stopped their lives to help their sister, and that I knew God was working even in this all also were in the mix of extreme emotions. I was finally able to drive but I could not stop crying as I drove home and into the next day. I feel things very deeply. I think about everything a lot. I am sensitive and am stirred emotionally by many things in my life. But when I really let go like I did that night and just cry and cry, I am usually alone and don't feel like I have to be strong for everyone else. And I need those times too.
There are many things happening in my life right now. I am starting a new business, a counseling center for families called Healthy Foundations: Youth & Family Support Center, I am getting three teens ready for school, my oldest daughter is getting married (next summer), and I just found out that I am getting a congressional award. I read once that when God is doing something in your life, He is really doing a hundred things. So it seems to be true.
At the same time all this really great stuff is happening for me, there are really tough things happening as well. Lately I have been more thankful for the difficulties because it keeps me grounded, and it keeps me in prayer. I realized the other day that our true joy is not in all the great things that happen, but in our constant source of faith, hope and love. Right now, one of my kids is going through a deep, dark and scary depression and that has occupied a great deal of time and worry the past month. I find myself praying for her constantly and while I am there I am praying for all of my family-to have hope, to know Jesus, to fight for good and walk in the light. During this time, I have been challenged in my own thinking about parenting and how to reach those close to me who are in dark places. I am faced with the fact that all I really have, the only true answer I can give that I know for sure is faith and hope in Jesus.
So lately with all that is happening for me, there is a lot of stirring about awards and recognition, and I am truly blessed and honored, but please also join
This writing challenge today is a hard one for me. Then I thought of a song I heard a while ago and it reminded me. I wish I had one more day. One more day when having a great vacation, one more day of summer break, one more day of being a child on our ranch, one more day of Christmas a year...and the list goes on.
Along these lines I was thinking about my friend Kat. I wish I had one more day with her. She died about two years ago and it felt like being interrupted in a middle of a conversation. I had actually gone to where she worked that day to visit with her for a few moments, but I didn't end up seeing her. Later that evening she died. And I wish so much I would have looked more diligently for her to talk with her.
If I had one more day with her I would love to just talk with her. We had the best time sharing together. We had some similar journeys and we connected deeply. I miss that. She was insightful, funny and a loved the Lord. I would just clear my schedule (and hers) and we could just talk for hours if I had one more day. Or maybe if we had one more day together we would spend it helping kids in some way. She loved helping with the camps and working at the school (two things we had in common). I miss her but what I realize with Kat is that someday we will have more conversations, and we wont be bound by time. One day will be like a thousand years.
Three words that describe me right now are: Pensive, anxious and excited. It is a little strange to feel those at the same time but those were the first three that came to my mind.
Pensive: Whenever I am writing I feel pensive. I am looking a little deeper at my thoughts and feelings and how to express myself. I am also thoughtful about various people in my life who are going through trials and thinking a lot lately about how to help, what to say and how to encourage them. I thinking about my kids and very pensive (in a good way) about the future and how much life is going to change in the next few years as they grow into adulthood.
Anxious: Just a little, not in an overwhelming sense, but enough to know that they are several things that I haven't completely given over in prayer and don't have complete peace about. Again, my kids and how they are doing, what they are doing to cope with their own struggles and I am anxious for them to know Jesus in deeper ways. I am anxious about going to Redding and the expectations the people you grow up with put on you when you go home. Do we stay with family that has room for us, or do we keep the peace with other family and camp out in their living room? Did I spend enough time with this one, or should I spend more with someone else...that kind of stuff about expectations always produces a low grade anxiety in me. Mostly I am anxious about one of my kids who is struggling right now. Don't tell me not to be anxious, just pray for me instead. :)
Excited: So much to be excited for! My oldest daughter just got engaged and we are going to be planning a wedding! I am starting a new business and am excited to get home and work on my office and get going on things. I am excited to hear about the license board for counseling and be able to call myself an LPC! The work with adoptive families is still going strong and it is exciting to see where this will take me. More and more people reading the books, and I am in the process of hiring a publicist to promote my writing and speaking. New opportunities and new adventures are ahead! I just got chosen to be an angel in adoption for the state of Idaho! So yes...exciting stuff
For a long time our family didn't have hardly any money to spend on entertainment. I am thinking this set us up to be easily entertained! We played games, we read together, we worked in the garden, hiked around the hills and spent time talking, laughing and living life together.
Recently our power was out for an entire evening and we played charades together by candlelight. It was so much fun. While we are more likely to gather around the TV, there are times we linger at the dinner table and talk. When the older kids are home it is always fun because Nate and Bekah keep us entertained with their stories, and teasing each other.
Horseback riding, swimming at the docks, and fishing are some of the things we do now that don't cost us to go do.But still my favorite tiems are the joking, laughing and talking times around our table.
What am I afraid of? Well spiders and big ugly beetles and snakes that appear in my environment when least expected. Dogs that bite, horses that don't like people, and people that tear you apart with words and yet say they love you. I am afraid of failing, being blamed, letting people down, and when people are mad at me. (Just to name a few)
Some of these fears you learn to live with and others you learn to overcome when necessary. Worrying too much about what people think or what they might say can make a person unable to move out in faith or move at all. Which is a problem I have with fear, it freezes me and if I get stuck in my fear, I feel like I can't do anything about anything. Usually when I am stepping out in faith is a deliberate step away from fear. And I have someone a whole lot bigger whose got my back!
The scriptures tell us that perfect love casts out all fear. I know I don't love perfectly so then how can I live in a place without fear dominating my life? I am reminded that HE loves perfectly and when I know that love, when I live in that love, I live outside of fear. Only when I really experience this myself can I love in this way for others, creating a safe place for them to be, where their fears can be calmed as well.
Another thing about fear I have come to realize is the fear that kids who have experienced trauma or been hurt, carry with them. It is like a low grade fever that is spiked quickly at any exposure to further to challenges of any kind. Kids from hurt places have a core level of fear at the root of their behaviors that needs healing and restoration. They may not act afraid, they may in fact seem very bold, aloof, challenging and downright brave as they stand offensively to their parents, teachers and other caregivers, but deep down it is a front for fear that they themselves may not even be aware of. Once I heard about this, it made a lot of sense to me both as a counselor working with hurt kids (and parents) and as an adopted person. I could look back and see how scared I really was as a child and how I coped and compensated for that deep-seeded fear.
Writing this I was reminded of the value of creating safe places for others and this song by Carrie Underwood-THERE'S A PLACE FOR US.
There's a place out there for us-more than just a prayer or anything you have ever dreamed of-
so if you feel like giving up cause you don't fit in down here- fear is crashing in- close your eyes and take my hand-
We can be the kings and queens of anything if we believe-it's written in the stars that shine above- a world where you and I belong- where faith and love will keep us strong-exactly who we are is just enough---