Friday, June 20, 2014

School's Out!

School is done, praise the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Was this thee longest school year ever, or what?! My kids are now getting to ages where I can't post details about their personal struggles, but suffice to say that the 2013-14 school year was PAINFUL. My daughter started high school and my oldest son started middle school. I think it's a big adjustment for any kid, but for mine there were other factors in play that made it extremely rough. We all learned a lot about ourselves and God this year, and He was faithful to comfort us, and to put the right people in our lives to help. I am proud of my kids and honestly proud of myself, because the challenges I faced as a mom have definitely tested me in new & painful ways. We can't change or grow without facing pain and trials, and accepting that has kept me sane many a day. I generally loathe summer with its heat and humidity and sunburn and mosquitoes, but the relief I feel at surviving this school year is just overwhelming. God sustains us, He provides, I was never alone. He always sent the right people to me, friends who pray, who show up at your door in your hour of need, who pray for your kids, who offer help & compassion. God is good.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grief

It's been ages since I blogged, obviously. I've been avoiding it, not wanting to deal with a multitude of negative feelings and crummy attitudes. It's been a good year in many ways, and God is always faithful. But there has been so much grief that I just could not write about for fear it would just overtake me.

When the people you love suffer terrible loss, and when you yourself are one of those people who have high empathy, it can be devastating. Last year when my Uncle Dane died I grieved terribly for the loss of him in my life, but even more so for what I knew the loss was like for my Aunt Candy and my cousins. As my cousin Ross said at the funeral, "What are you doing, God?!"  It was such a shocking, sudden loss and my heart was flooded with grief.

When my sister's marriage ended my heart was broken for her, for the loss of all that could have been, for the life & marriage that was taken from her, the grief that was left behind and for the two small children in the middle of it all. None of us ever saw this coming and my heart aches for my little sister.

This year my mentor and dear friend went through her own shocking and sudden loss when her daughter was killed in a car accident. I cried constantly for weeks, unable to comprehend the death of a 24 year old woman with so much life ahead of her. I thought of the stupid things I was doing in my early 20s, and wondered why God had spared me and not her, she who was so good and sweet and doing all the right things. My cup overflowed with grief, my heart was shattered for those I loved and what they were going through. I sat in my grief for them, wishing I could sit with them, feed them, do something, anything that would give action to my grief. I went to the memorial service with hundreds of other people, clenching my husband's hand and waiting in line for an hour so I could hold my friend for just a moment as she sobbed. I sent a salad for the funeral luncheon and tried not to cry into it. I left muffins by their door. I prayed without ceasing, something I had never quite understood before.

For my own selfish part, I lost the counsel and friendship of someone I love very much. I needed someone to give me wisdom on how to walk this road, but the very person I needed was the one suffering herself. I should have seen sooner what God was doing and how He was using this. He used it in that most exasperating way, where He uses pain to teach us to rely on Him fully, and to grow patience and resilience in my heart. I fought Him and railed against Him and sobbed at His feet. How could He let this happen to them? How could He leave me so full of grief for others that I could not get through one day without crying?

I spent time with Him daily somewhat out of spite, asking Him to FIX THIS because I did not know how. I saw my friend from the distance which she now held me at, and I asked Jesus to come back now and take this cup from us all. I watched my sister from hundreds of miles away as she packed up her things and moved into an apartment. I thought of my uncle and how much He loved Jesus and how his family must go on without him. I yelled at God repeatedly. When my tantrums were done, I found new peace in Him. He waited until I got over myself, and showed me how closely He had drawn me to Him in the past year. I know He holds my friend in His hands. She always told me to remember what I know is true and all of His promises. I'm holding on to that as a lifeline; I know she's right. I don't know where God is taking her. I don't know what this is like for her beyond unimaginable pain. I know that none of us can go with her on this journey, but I trust that our Jesus is walking it with her. Because in the end it isn't about me. It's not about her. It's about Jesus. This is the comfort to which I have to cling, even if I do so at times with angry or bitter hands. I am finding peace, day by day, and I know that only comes from Him. God is good.

Monday, December 31, 2012

December

I'm on break from school, which is a nice mental break if nothing else. It hasn't exactly been relaxing, but it's all good. A was super sick over Christmas but at least we didn't have any hospital trips this time so that was nice. TC did punch my nephew in the face on Christmas Day and loosen his tooth, so I win for parenting the Worst Redheaded Kid Ever, ughhh. Classes are cancelled over the holidays but I'll be having a conversation with his instructor when we go back to martial arts in the new year. I think a lecture from him will have more impact on TC than mine did.

I finished the fall semester with a 4.0, which is pretty surreal to me. I hold no illusion that I'll keep that up in the long-term, but it sure felt nice to start off so well. My next class is a Bible one and then in the second half of the semester I'm taking my next Psych class which is Intro to Research. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but as Kate pointed out, at least I don't have to go to the library and hunt stuff down to photocopy, since the LU library is all online.

I'm still sick with stomach problems and finally made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I'm really looking forward to that, because I'm sure he's going to want to do the test I've been putting off for about ten years. Tim Hawkins has a nice song about it that I'm sure I'll be humming that day. I'm assuming he won't find anything wrong, since every test I have ever had done has shown nothing, but it will make Tom happy if I go. He's tired of me being sick & cranky I guess???

So today's the last day of 2012 and I can say mostly good riddance. The good always outweighs the bad, but this wasn't my favorite year to say the least. I am thankful though, that I can still say that it is well with my soul.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November

I noticed that I've blogged maybe once a month this fall. I think you can tell that I've gone back to school.  I don't see this changing anytime soon, as school has taken up pretty much any and all free time that I used to have. I also discovered, much to my joy, that being an online student means you don't get days off for holidays. I had work due on Thanksgiving day, oy.  I'm more than halfway done PSYC 210, and then I'll be off for about a month before the spring term starts. Looking forward to seeing daylight again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recovery Walks! 2012

Today was Recovery Walks!, a walk to "raise awareness that drug and alcohol addiction is a public health concern; overcome stigma; put a positive face on recovery; provide hope that people do recover; honor the people and organizations that provide services for the recovery community; show solidarity; and honor those who have not survived this disease."

Because I have 11 years of continuous sobriety, I got to be in the Honor Guard (for 10 years & up).  Being in the Honor Guard feels a bit like your birthday. People make a little fuss over you, give you a sash with a numbered badge on it, make you all stand together for a group picture, and then have you lead off the Walk. I'll be honest, it feels pretty awesome.

I volunteered for Pro-Act this year, so I was at the registration table for a three hours before the Walk began. Once it started I joined the Honor Guard at the front and off we went. There were 6 or 7 people carrying the Walk banner right in front of me, and after a minute I realized that the man right in front of me was Ted Williams, also known as The Golden Voice.

If you aren't familiar with him, this video gives a synopsis of his story. It's really incredible.



We walked for several blocks, and then one of the men carrying the banner turned around and said he was going to step back and I should take his place. I was surprised but said ok. I got to chatting with the men on either side of me. The man on my left introduced himself as Dave, and asked where I was involved. I told him where I was from and that I was currently a homemaker but going back to school in the hopes of becoming a substance abuse counselor. He said he thought that was great and that he loved hearing what different people were doing to get involved. I then asked what he did. He told me that he was the Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (David Mineta). I'm not often speechless, but this came pretty close. I also chatted with the man to my right, who introduced himself as Gary. It was a delight chatting and walking together. After I got home I discovered that Gary is actually Gary Tennis, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs. I'm pretty sure by tomorrow I will find out that the other man walking with us was the Pope. It was absolutely humbling, amazing and surreal.  (And something else that's amazing; if you watch that video and you see Ted's sober living coach, Eric? He took this picture for me; how cool is that?)


I love this Walk, and everything it represents. And being blessed to walk with people who have the power to truly make a difference in the lives of people seeking treatment was beyond words. And the funny thing was that as I walked with them, I felt like we could be equals. I realized that as I was driving home, and it brought me to tears. For eighteen years I have regretted that I didn't stay in school and get my degree. My disease of alcoholism took that from me. I never really thought about trying to finish because I believed myself unworthy of a college education. I wasted the chance I was given. But now I'm doing it, finally doing it, and I can walk tall on this journey, and know that it's ok to believe in myself, and to imagine that I can help people find long term recovery.

Recovery has given me many gifts, and I love that it continues to surprise me. Plus, I get to wear the super cool sash, which I really think I need to wear on grocery store trips or when I'm picking up the kids from school.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Senior College Student


I started college twenty years ago this month, and I love that God timed it so I would start again now. When I applied to college the first time I was looking for an education, but what I wanted in the short term was Christian community. I chose a small, Presbyterian school that I had visited during some missions conferences, and was thrilled to be accepted. I had always wanted Christian friends and craved those kinds of relationships. I was sure this was finally going to be where I found a circle of friends that I could pray with, be real with and grow with in our faith.
It didn't take long to realize that I had made mistake, and there was really no Christian community to be found there. My roommate was a believer, but she turned out to be a complete psycho who wanted me out of the room. (She eventually moved out.) There was one tiny club for Christians but it just seemed nerdy and there wasn't anyone there I thought I could connect with. I gave up on Christian friends and just tried to make any friends I could. This was the beginning of my problem drinking, downward spiral, etc. In hindsight it's easy to see that I should have left and gone home, or applied elsewhere and tried to transfer. But at 18 I didn't think I had a choice, and assumed I was stuck there. I did what I could to fit in, somehow still always being alone and isolated, my faith fading.
So twenty years later, I am starting over and I get my first message from one of my new professors. She went over some basic information for the course, and then closed with this:
"I can't wait to see what God has for us together this term. I am looking forward to meeting each of you and getting to know you. I am already praying for you, but if you have specific prayer requests that you would like to share with me, I would welcome your emails. I like to be able to pray for you with specificity. I pray that God will bless each of us as we work together, learning and strengthening our daily walk. I look forward to hearing from you.  I urge you to commit yourself to live out this verse: The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.  Proverbs 21:5"
I cried when I read that. I never thought that I would be able to go back to finish my degree, and I certainly never even sought to find that Christian college community again. To get my first message from a professor and read about prayer and scripture was just overwhelming. I love that God gives us gifts like this. I'm excited for this new chapter, and feel so blessed that I can do it the way I wanted to twenty years ago.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Women of Faith


I can't stop singing this! It was one of the finals songs we sang at Women of Faith this weekend, and I can't describe how it moved me. If you've never gone to an event like this, please do. There is nothing else like it; the experience of worshipping our Lord with 11,000 other women is so moving, so powerful. It is like a tiny glimpse of what Heaven must be like, praising Him together. There were many speakers, in particular women like Christine Caine, who have such a painful & beautiful testimony of God's love and redemption.

Oh, and also, there's this:
Like my tiara?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Random Things

A, 8th grade (last year of junior high)

E, 5th grade (last year of elementary school)

TC, Kindergarten

Kids are back to school, and TC started Kindergarten yesterday. I spent the afternoon crying. It's super hard to let him go after having him home with me for nearly six years. He isn't a kid I usually need a break from either; he's generally easy and affectionate and hilarious, so I'd really rather keep him at age 5 forever. I took a bunch of pictures, and waved at him bravely, and waited until I got in the car to fall apart. I don't know that I'd ever be ready for him to go. This year has kept me in a raw emotional state, so it doesn't take much at this point to get the tears rolling. I just didn't know that dropping the last child off for Kindergarten would be this much harder than the first.

I am all registered for school and my first textbook is on a UPS truck somewhere right now. My first class starts on the 17th, which is coming up quickly.

My mother, who has Parkinson's Disease, is having brain surgery next week. Specifically she is having Deep Brain Stimulation done. I'm pretty much wigging out about this and trying not to think about it much or do internet research. The surgery takes six hours, and she'll be awake for the first two. That's pretty much all I want or need to know at this point.