Tuesday, March 29, 2022

You Don’t Say!

Lucy and Elmer lived in the red house next door.  They were super old people, at least that’s what my four year old self thought.  I used to go over and visit a lot.  Elmer was always outside, wearing farmers overalls and a hat with a brim, walking around the yard or doing man stuff in his garage like my dad.  If he wasn't too busy he would smile and say hi to me which was nice, but I was there to see Lucy.  

I don’t remember exactly what she looked like, but I think she wore glasses and had brown, wavy hair.  Or maybe it was grey?  I didn't pay much attention to appearances then, and the same is true now.  If you ask me what someone looked like or what they were wearing I might have a vague recollection, but it will most certainly lack detail.  I'm much more likely to remember what someone said, or how they were feeling.  

Lucy was always in her kitchen with an apron on, busy at work making something.  I remember her rolling out dough with a rolling pin and sometimes she would let me roll it.  She always seemed so happy to me, carefree and smiling.  She would listen with delight to whatever I had to say…which was a lot.  I would go on and on (and on) about my favorite show…Gilligan’s Island, telling her every detail and according to my dad would even include the commercials (Lucy wasn’t the only one who was blessed with my Gilligan stories).  

And Lucy gave me the greatest gift…she listened.  She not only listened, but she engaged with me, as if she was truly interested and thrilled with every word. “You don’t say!” was the response she gave after every exclamation I made.  And that of course encouraged me to keep going.  

She never seemed to tire of it. 

I remember more than once my mom yelling to Lucy from across the yard that she could send me home if I was bothering her.  Lucy always seemed surprised at the thought and said no, that I wasn’t a bother at all!  And I believed her.  Such a sweet lady.   

She made me feel special, and that was something.  

I hope I was that kind of mom to my kids when they were little.  I wanted to be and still do.  I want my kids, my grands, and whoever I'm with at the moment to know that they matter, I'm really listening, and that besides Jesus they are the most important person in the room.  

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  - Maya Angelou




Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Fighting demons

I'm tired.

Fighting demons is exhausting, especially the ones that continue to haunt me long after I thought I had beaten them.  

It's a fight, nearly every day to keep trying.  To not let them win.  But the temptation is strong to give up and give in to unhealthy habits, and have immediate freedom from the struggle.  Whatever it is in the moment.

"Just have it, you'll feel better."

Escape.  Numb.  Give up.

"The fight is too hard, it's too hard to resist cravings and I don't have the energy."

"It won't matter anyway.  This one thing won't change anything.  Not really.  Not today.  I mean, look at me?"

"I can begin again tomorrow.  Or next week".  

Or never.

These are all things I tell myself, except they are all lies and I know it.  Even as I'm saying them, I know. 

Numbness wears off and escape finds its way back to reality.  

A reality that never seems to change.  

I can't seem to change it anyway.

God can, but He's slow about it.

And I don't appreciate that.  

When relief is what we seek, the last thing we want to do is have to wait for it.  

Change takes time and I hate that about it.

I crave the destination, but the journey isn't always pretty.  

It's kind of like riding in an airplane. 

It terrifies me.  I have lots of things in my arsenal to help me through it including meds and oils and wrist bands and snacks and music and alcohol.  "Flying Lisa" is a whole thing.  She's all about creating an alternate reality designed to numb out, escape, hide from the fear and the struggle rather than facing it.   

I don't want to live afraid.  

I don't trust God with my fear.   I tell Him I do, much like I tell others and myself.  But truth is I don't.  

Not really.

Not enough to let go of my arsenal of antidotes.  

Antidote:  a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.

My poison is fear.  And it's deadly.  

It slowly kills the life I want to live, the faith I want to rely on, the truth I want to believe.  

What am I so damn afraid of?  I've been living with it my entire life, this fear, but I'm not sure I've ever really tried to figure out what it is.  What is its purpose, besides to destroy me?  Maybe that's the only purpose.  A demon's purpose is to be demonic.  To steal, kill and destroy, according to the bible.  

Maybe that's just it.  Maybe it's not more complicated than that.  

Demons have arsenals too, and their weapons are fierce and consistent.  They trip me up and snarl at me to stay down and sometimes I listen.  It feels safer to stay low rather than continue to be knocked to the ground over and over. When I"m crawling around in the dirt I don't have so far to fall.  I can sit there with my head on my knees and protect myself from inhaling the dust that gets kicked in my face.  

Except I'm not really protected.  I'm imprisoned.  

Security is not found in isolation, 

and freedom is not found in escape.    

The more I scrounge around in the dirt, the deeper the pit I inevitably dig for myself.

And a pit is not a home.

Friday, December 17, 2021

What's happening

 It's more of a statement than a question...or I guess it's both.  

What's happening.

I have a confession to make.  2021 has kicked my butt.  There I said it.  No sugar coating, just being real.  I'm not going to pretend that I've been riding waves of strength and peace as I've navigated through this past half-a-year since Vince's heart issues began (or surfaced, rather).  They began long before that day that he had his first heart attack in May and I suppose that's the root of my problem.  

It snuck up on him, and thus, us.  

And that's always been my greatest fear...being blind-sided.  Scary things are lurking in the dark and without warning, they will jump out and attack.  Call it fear of the unknown.  Paranoia.  Whatever.  I've struggled with it my entire life.  I'm afraid to be happy and calm because then I let my guard down and am not prepared for the thing.  

The thing that's lurking, taunting me, waiting to pounce.

And it leaves me in a constant state of fear of what if...what's next.  What's the next bad thing that's going to happen.  And it's this fear that steals my joy, and sometimes my faith.

Here's where I'm supposed to trust God.  I'm so tired of being afraid.  Trying to drown my fear with food, distraction, avoidance doesn't work in the long run, it just leaves me tired and parched, feeling weak and defeated.  

I don't really have the answers right now.  It's 3am and I'm tired.  What I do know is this...the truth does not depend on my feelings.  And the truth is that I have victory in Christ.  He has not left me alone to fight my battles without weapons.  He is there and gives me all that I need to live a victorious life.  The answer is in scripture, in Jesus Himself.  

That's where my focus needs to be...not on my circumstances, or my fears, but on Him.  I need to get on with living and not wait until things aren't hard in life to be happy.  Thank you God for restoring my peace and joy!  

Thank you for being my Savior tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2021

A spider in the toilet and other things that I didn't expect

I'm still not over the trauma of seeing a gargantuan black spider baby tarantula in my bathroom sink in the middle of the night a few years ago when I had to wake Mr. W to come and kill it for me (which he did like the superhero that he is).  I still think about it when I use the bathroom at night.  Once in a lifetime should be enough for a horror like that, but alas, last night either God or Satan thought I needed another experience of exposure therapy to either help alleviate my fears or re-traumatize me.  I haven't decided which yet.   I prolly shouldn't turn the light on when I get up to use the bathroom in the night, because then what I'm not aware of won't bother me.  But it's too late now, last night I did and now I know about it and IT BOTHERS ME.

I have this thing I like to do, it's super fun and it's called "ruminating over things that frighten or otherwise upset me until I am 10 times more upset about it than I was when the thing actually happened".  I've been doing it my whole life and thus I'm very skilled at it.  It works with most situations.  Take last night for example when I saw the spider in the toilet.  It surprised me, I flushed it down, did my business and went back to bed.  End of story - right?!  

Not so fast, amateurs.  I couldn't leave it at that...I had to lay there awake imagining how the spider got into the toilet, it must have climbed up the tank which means that spiders could be lurking in, on or around my toilet at any given moment including under the seat so now I need to check in on and around the toilet and under the seat EVERY SINGLE TIME or one could end up crawling on me when I sit.  Sweet.  Oh, and it must have crawled across the house and into our bedroom and past our bed to get to the bathroom and, well that means one could easily be IN MY BED RIGHT NOW so for every night for the foreseeable forever I get to check my bed for spiders before I get in.

See how that works?  Like I said, super fun.  

Now imagine what my mind has been doing since Mr. W's heart issues, which are a bit of a bigger deal than spiders.  

The difference with the heart issues is that I am not allowing my mind to go through all the scary scenarios like I do with the spiders.  I remind myself to trust God (which I do) and to focus on the positive (which I also do) and believe for healing and a long, wonderful future for us (which I also really do).  But like spiders, the worries and fears and what-ifs are still lurking in the dark corners of my mind, threatening to creep up unexpectedly and frighten or attack me without warning.  When I don't allow my mind to think about them, they reveal themselves in other ways.  

An ever present undercurrent of anxiety and fear, insomnia, panic attacks.  

They emerge at night (of course) and keep me awake.  My go-to has been to numb out on TV or food (or both) but that has not helped.  I should know this, it never does.  Well it maybe works in the short term for smaller issues.  But when it's a soul issue like this that has deep roots and a long reach, it needs to be brought straight to Jesus at the foot of the cross.  The foot of the cross, where the soil is wet with His blood and rich with healing and redemption.  Spiders can't remain there, they scatter at the sound of my fists pounding in the mud as my soul cries and wails.  And when He lifts my head, and speaks gently to me, I strain to hear His voice but He is patient with me.  He waits until I have the strength to look into His eyes and hear what He has to say.  He tells me He's got me.  He's got us.  It's going to be alright, He is with us and will never leave.  

And He reminds me...He is there in the dark too. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Because It Does

With everything that's been going on you'd think I'd be writing more.  One thing I've learned about myself...when I'm a little stressed I talk a lot.  When I'm super stressed...

I get quiet.  I shut down.  At least for a time.

But after a while I need to start opening up, or else all the thoughts and feelings and anxiety starts revealing itself in not so happy ways.  

Panic attacks.

Insomnia.

Feeling like something is squeezing my chest and making it difficult to breathe.

Tired all the time.

Overwhelmed.

I'm learning that it's possible to feel all these things and yet still trust God.  I used to berate myself when I got anxious or overwhelmed - thinking it was a sign of a lack of faith.  The more I get to know God, I realize that He wants me to bring these emotions to Him, not try to erase them or hide them from Him, or from others, and even from myself.  

I've spent a significant amount of my life pretending that everything was ok.  Even in the worst of circumstances, I can convince others and even myself that I'm fine.  And I even believe it sometimes.  I numb out with a variety of things (food has always been my favorite) that shield me from experiencing the thing, maybe not completely but at least not so intensely.   

I think in a crisis that defense mechanism can be useful and helpful to get through it.  But there comes a time when the numbing out isn't healthy anymore and I have to peel away some layers and deal with them.  

I'm there.

For someone who has lived a lifetime with an intense fear of something going wrong at any moment, the rug being pulled out from under my feet, or getting blind-sided by something unexpected and painful and terrifying...having your husband almost die from a "widow maker" heart attack can threaten to reclaim all the ground you have gained in prayer and therapy.

Here's where I'm tempted to get all "BUT GOD!" and tell of how He has given me amazing peace and unwavering faith and how He's carried me through and I've come out stronger on the other side of this.  

That would sound pretty impressive and spiritual and I'd probably hear a lot of amens.  But I'd be pretending again.  At least partly.  

The truth is, God has given me peace.  And He's also let me experience being terrified.  Maybe so I'd cling to Him harder.  And maybe so I learn on a deeper level to trust Him to be with me and give me what I need in the moment, no matter what happens.  

Even if the worst happens.

God has given me strength to be there for my husband when he has needed me most.  And God has also let me experience feeling weak and overwhelmed and scared.  

Maybe so I'd cling to Him harder.  

As if my life depended on Him.

Because it does.  

Friday, April 30, 2021

Things I didn't see

 If I didn't get home and start writing, my head would explode.

That's how I felt today on my drive home from work.  I just finished this book last night and it has had a profound effect on me.  I wasn't expecting that.


I've been into memoirs lately.  I've never really enjoyed fiction, but I love learning about other people's lives - true stories about what they have experienced and how they perceived it and how it changed them.  I've read several memoirs, some of which were moving and thought provoking, but none have effected me like this one has and I'd like to discover why.

I didn't think I had anything in common with the author as I read it.  Her life was very different from mine.  She grew up in rural Idaho in a strict Mormon family.  Her parents were radical in their beliefs, which took priority over everything and everyone.  They didn't believe in sending their children to school, were paranoid about the government and doctors, and they had very little interaction with the world outside of their farm.  She tells about her transformation from the girl she was raised to be and what she was taught to believe (with absolutely no margin to question or change) to learning to think for herself and developing her own beliefs and values.  She didn't abandon her childhood entirely, but learned to integrate what she wanted to preserve with new ideas and values that she chose for herself. 

I can relate to that process immensely, but I will get into that more another time.

What is most profound to me right now is what I've realized about my kids  Their process of wanting to break free from their upbringing and define themselves on their own terms is natural, and something we have all done.  But I wasn't quite prepared for it, or how it would effect my mama heart.

The most profound change has been with my oldest son.  We don't see each other as often as I wish we did, and it makes me miss him.  Even when we are together, I miss him.  If that makes sense.  There isn't a problem between us, we've talked about it.  He's just busy being 23 - living his life, building his career, forging his own path...just as he should be.  But for some time he hasn't been hanging out with the family all that much.  He has told me he feels like we view him differently, or judge him for how he lives his life and the choices he makes.  He sometimes feels like he doesn't belong.

That breaks my heart.

He thinks I keep trying to press him into the mold that I want him to fit into, the child he used to be.  I have rejected the idea that I have been doing this, but after reading this book I realize...I think I have been doing that.  On some level anyway.  Not nearly to the extent that the author experienced, but I can see a glimmer from my son's perspective why he would feel that way.

My husband and I have raised our kids with the values that are important to us.  I think we all do that as parents.  We can't help it and I think that's how it should be, to a certain extent.  We want them to be kind, loving, responsible, empathetic, to be able to express their thoughts and emotions, to respect authority, and for me the MOST important thing I've wanted to instill in my boys since they were born, and all of our kids, was faith in God and acceptance of Jesus as their Savior.  None of those things are wrong or bad for a parent to want for their children and I don't regret at all trying to instill these values in our kids.  

What I do regret, looking back, are the things I didn't see.

I didn't see that in my quest to instill my values in them, I didn't always give them enough margin to discover their own.  It was too scary for me.  What if they veered too far from the path?  Some paths have eternal consequences.

But some don't.

Even for the ones that do, we can't force them to walk it.  They have to choose their own way.  We can present our values the best we can, attempt to guide and lead them...and then let them go.

I haven't always been good at the letting go.

Maybe that is what has made my son feel like he needed to break away harder than the rest.

Whatever has led us to this place, here we are.  And I'm learning a new way to let go...one that is not so much loss as it is a discovering.  Discovering who these wonderful humans are that we have raised, not through the lens of who they were as children, who I thought they were or who I wanted them to be..but who they truly are now.

I've had my turn at teaching them what is important to me.  Now it's my turn to do the learning.