Life is a Game of Survival

February 5th, 2018

I’ve never been a big fan of the show Survivor. I like my easy simple life, at least…that’s what I thought anyway. I watched enough episodes to know that the struggles, lack of amenities and the competitiveness make me feel panicked. Real life is more like Survivor than I like admitting.

You must fight for what you want, knocking someone else down sometimes to get it. You have to go hungry to reach your goals at times too. Relationships can be tricky. Who can you trust? Even those on your own team can be out to get ya! Giving up will beckon you too. It’s just easier sometimes to throw in the towel or break a leg and go home.

It’s survival, coming out alive is what’s important.

I have felt like I was running around in a jungle wearing a teeny ripped up sports bra and swim bottoms for the last 18 months. Only, I’m not skinny and tanned up to at least look good while in my desperation! Everything I know about my life has been turned upside down. What once felt like security was snatched away in a sweep of a quick minute in someone’s office. Hey, we’re going to have to let you go. We’re OUTSOURCING I.T.! K, Bye.

Honestly, I have thanked God over & over for all the ways He protected me from the long months ahead jobless after that July day.

Had I known:

We would reach near penniless days, months… I might have gone to bed and not gotten back up.

We would pay and pay and pay thousands of dollars clinging tightly to Cobra insurance just so I could get my RA meds only to reach a point of NO MONEY to pay for anything let alone insurance… I would’ve kept my $15,000 in my pocket and never paid for insurance all those months.

We would have door after door slammed in our face and be told, “You’re over-qualified!”… I might have given up and gone to the garden to eat worms!

We would wait on calls, wait on job offers that were promised, wait on payments for contract work, wait…wait and then wait some more… I would’ve probably still waited because what choice did I have, really?

Only God could protect me as He did this last year. He knew what I could handle and I’m sorry for the times I cried out that I couldn’t handle one more dang thing! He has heard it all from me and still loves me.

What I’ve learned:

I’ve also learned that stress will rob you blind. It will take every good and awesome thing you love away from you but the most important thing is your peace! Stress will kill you dead too. I’ve thought many times that I was in so deep that there was no hope of bouncing back.

I hate that.

I mostly hate it because if I’m anything, I’m usually happy. I like life. I like my life and stress threatened to ruin it all for me. So, kiss it..stress! I want to be happy again!

So, looking ahead we still have to deal with the fact that my hubby has no job prospects. Realistically, he could be waiting another 18 months for a real job again. Selling our house doesn’t mean our future is bright and shiny, it means we don’t have to pay to live in a house we can’t afford to pay for anymore. We now have a whole nother set of stresses to face.

Still, we have survived. We’re still alive and trying our best to keep moving forward. In spite of all that’s happened, I’m thankful for the ways I’ve watched God work in our hearts, on our behalf and through the people He’s placed in our lives. That’s a real testimony just thinking of all the encouragers and prayer warriors that have rallied around us.

We really aren’t worthy.

But, that’s my business either. God decides who is worthy, not me. I’ve got surviving yet still to do. Just like the players on the show keep going…that’s what I have to do too!

You’re Home to Me

February 3rd, 2018

I walked through my house this morning in prayer. I lingered in each room thanking God for every moment and memory spent there. What a special time for me to feel every good experience all over again. I sat and looked around at all the things that we’ve done in 4 years of living here. Each beautiful and personal change customized just to my liking. I don’t live in a showplace! It’s just a home, nothing spectacular….no big dollar pieces, not even a “collectible” or coveted item to be found. No special Anthro furniture or curtains, no coveted brought over from somewhere outlandish flooring, no high-dollar farm sink that all my babies got washed in…

Just a house.

But let me tell you what a house can be. Home.

Home is much more valuable than expensive things you accumulate or gather to place around you. Home is the safe place God gives each of us to learn who we are and to feel loved when the world beats the heck out of us. It’s our hideout when we don’t want to people. Home is not just a physical address it’s a place to grow, heal and be just who you are in this crazy world.

My home has done all of that and more for me, for my husband and for all 3 of our grown kids. These are the reasons we make it beautiful, warm and inviting. To feel more than just a roof over our heads, to feel safe and loved.

Yesterday was our home inspection and appraisal. We stressed out over every little detail, praying our house was as awesome at the end of the magnifying glass day to them as it was to us. We had no idea that the realtor and the buyers were all a part of the process. For about 4 hours, strangers walked all through our house and peeked in every nook & cranny looking for issues. Whatever man. The last 18 months of stress hasn’t killed me yet, I can do this painful thing too.

The truth is, I can’t make anyone love my home like I do. It’s mine and I love it because of that and more.

So, this morning after waking up with thoughts of what could they possibly say as faults in the final report…I couldn’t help but thank God for every thing I loved about my house.

I’m going to miss it and all the treasured memories –> The friendships made, the guests who’ve eaten or slept over, the bike rides, the pool days, the sitting on my porch reading & praying, the planting…sowing & reaping of our gardens, THE PEONIES!!!! Every single lovely thing, I will miss.

But, like this house and every other one I’ve lived in during the last 28 years of my marriage….I will love it and make it HOME all over again.

Good People

January 27th, 2018

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about people — They can be incredible or they can be totally horrible. I’ve ridden the bus of despair this last year. I’ve never been so needy of all the things people get needy for when life runs off the rails as I have this year.

People have saved me.

Just when I was at the end of my rope with sadness or hopelessness, God would send someone to love or encourage me. He is so good! I’m living proof that God gives a rip about every detail of our lives. Every little struggle, I’ve had help of some sort. Every time I thought my heart couldn’t take one more thing….someone would send a message, a card…..text or phone call.

I thank God for every friend & family member who invested in me this last 18 months. What a real drag it is to be strapped with a friend writing her own LAMENTATIONS! Seriously. Why are y’all my people?

The same goes for my husband. That guy has been hurtin! This whole job loss has nearly done him in. Let me tell you how hard that is to watch.

IT

IS

HARD

Still, people have encouraged him. Believed in him. Called him. Messaged him. So many have prayed, prayed and then kept on praying for him.

We are so not worthy of all the love. Never, in a million years will we ever be able to repay the people in our lives who have banged on heavens doors and just loved us in our rotten broken state. The lessons we’ve learned are endless throughout this journey and we promise to NOT WASTE a single one.

We will pass it on.

What kind of people do you have in your life?

I only ask because when the going gets tough….you will need strong & dedicated people in your life to hold you up and keep you from going under. Find them, love them and do not let them go! And don’t forget, be that kind of person to the people who need it in your life!

Only Mine to Do

January 9th, 2018

I’m a sucker for a list. Hand me a pretty notebook or agenda and I will make magic out of its pages. I’ll fill in dreams, to-do’s and even give life to all that has been happening in my thoughts. Maybe it’s a word love affair. One of my girls’ loves making lists too. She, like me…pours her heart out on paper whether it be a grocery or shopping list or just a notebook to keep organized and on time to this or that.

I do such a jam-up job on making TO-DO lists….I thought maybe making a TO NOT DO list was just as important. If you think about it, there are many different voices constantly trying to get our attention. Not all of them are good, helpful or even of value but we (out of guilt or being easily distracted) fall into the trap of focusing on stuff that doesn’t truly matter.

What matters in my life may not in yours.

Let me make this simple. I will do what I value most. Just like you are probably doing in your own life. Some people think making their bed each morning is a waste, I do not. Making the bed fills something up inside my love tank and releases endorphins that shoot off an arrow of happy right into my heart. Every time I walk into my bedroom throughout the day and see my beautiful bed, peyong! That arrow hits me one more time!

Have you ever been to someone’s house and needed something? Anything? A napkin? Fresh towel? Extra blanket? Did you peek around for one? Or just outright ask? I mention all of those items because those are things you will always have at my house. I think of those things as very important. However, not everyone does. I’ve been to many friends homes that do not set out napkins with a meal. Why? I have no idea other than to say that maybe they just don’t need or use them. Filthy animals! šŸ™‚ I suppose using my sleeve to wipe off that BBQ sauce is fine.

See what I’m saying about our differences?

I don’t want to get off track here because the truth of the matter is there are things in this world that are only mine to do. Things that have nothing to do with creature comforts or how I run my house. I want to section those things out and face the reality of WHAT IT IS GOD WANTS TO ACCOMPLISH IN AND THROUGH ME.

I’m only going to be here for a limited amount of time.

My TO NOT DO list may look something like this:

1. Worry.

Worrying doesn’t change any of my circumstances. It only causes what I’m zeroed in on to fester and grow into a monster bigger than God ever intended for it to be. What a waste of my time.

2. Focus on what I don’t have.

I’ve noticed how much I don’t have when I scroll online at what others are showing off there. It also reminds me to be careful of what I brag about to others. Even if it’s out of pride. Someone struggling could be hurting and my fancy couch, new bathroom, constant Nordstrom sale shopping, fun repeated vacations, expensive dinners out and whatever it is that you see online that makes you feel low…only emphasizes what that person can’t ever have.

PS – I do not have any of those things happening in my life. So, don’t hate.

3. Compete.

I never ever want to go back to a place where I feel my value is tied to what others think of me. Younger gals, I’m sorry you are in such a world. Don’t fall for that lie. It’s not necessary to compete with other women to be awesome! Matter of fact, it’s awesome to pull as many chicks up with you as you can. Let’s all win.

4. Blame others.

Watching your kids grow up and face the world opens your eyes to a myriad of weak spots in your parenting. Don’t believe me? Just wait. If you’ve taught your little punkins to own their mistakes and face up to their responsibilities, then good on you. If you haven’t, you may be privvy to a life of watching them blame others for every calamity that comes their way. Oh, I’ve been guilty too. It’s easy to blame someone else for what’s wrong in your life. I don’t want to do that. No, God doesn’t want me to do that.

5. Fight every battle.

I clicked like on a Facebook post the other day on a hot topic that I felt needed my approval. WRONG. It didn’t. Later that day, a beloved writer that I follow posted a prayer for the one who felt she had to add her two-cents online. While I know she wasn’t talking to me, I heard her. I do not need to jump in for every battle. You’d think at my age I’d have this figured out. I’m extremely gifted in the opinion area. No one needs to hear it or wants to. Sorry kids.

6. Assume.

My very first day at college, God handed me on a silver platter the greatest English professor. On the board he wrote the word ASSUME. He went on to warn us that this word would wreck us if we allowed it any power in our lives. Not just in English class but life in general. He jokingly pointed out that more often than not when we assume something….it ends up making an ASS of U and ME. I’ve never forgotten his lesson. Mostly because it holds a deep amount of truth to it. Assuming is guessing. Guessing is not knowing it as truth. Don’t assume.

7. Give up.

I’ve wanted to give up so many times over the last year but God hasn’t let me. It’s important that I experience hard things. Knowing what I know now about how long my husband has been unemployed blows my mind. Had I known at the start……I may have given up. The lesson, I have learned to keep going, to keep praying and believing. God never gives up on me. Why would I give up on him?

8. Wish away my life.

I know a friend who wishes every problem away. There’s never a positive possibility from her troubles. Everything is doom. In my human nature I too can be completely consumed with getting out of hot water. Still, my life isn’t a mistake and neither are my troubles. God has a plan and when I wish my life were something it’s not I’m being pretty ungrateful for what I do have.

9. Pay back evil for evil.

My mother-in-law is the queen of finding a positive in a rotten situation. She can turn around a tumultuous experience and challenge you to find the good. Every time. When my kids were small and had an issue with another child, I would try to help them believe something good about that kid. What may have sounded as an excuse for their behavior wasn’t really that, it was my way of helping them to soften and love the other child because the heart will betray us. If we are not very careful, when someone wounds us we allow it to fester and make us vengeful. I want to love my enemies.

10. Forget my pain.

I have worked too hard to survive this last year. Every struggle, every heartbreak and every rejection. They taught me very valuable lessons. I don’t want to toss those aside when God ends my current situation. I am the person I am because of everything I’ve experienced. What the devil meant for harm God means for good. So, I’m going to hang on to all the things that pushed me closer to God. I’m going to use them to help others and to hold myself to the fire. Pain is a constant reminder that there is more.

So, see….I have work to do that only I can do. I have young adult children who need me, I have life to share with friends and family….I have a husband to fight alongside and stories to tell. Every day is a new opportunity to do or not to do whatever it is that fires up my soul.

What would your TO NOT DO list look like?

I AM STRONG

January 5th, 2018

I used to think hotdogs would be what killed me. Scratch that. It’s stress. S T R E S S is out to take me down! I can’t describe how powerful it is over me right now. It’s almost physical. As if, I can actually feel it picking me up over its head and throwing me straight down to the ground with full force.

It hurts.

My face is all krinkled up (Botox can’t even release this tensed up face of mine), my shoulders are drawn together tighter than a cork on a champagne bottle and my mind is reeling with desperate thoughts. I’m not lying when I say that stress wants to kill me. It is that powerful!

You probably know this already but I’ll say it anyway, job loss robs you of more than financial security.

Don’t get me wrong, lack of money can make you want to run far away from all your life and its responsibilities. Seriously, WHERE’S THE EXIT DOOR OF THIS PAIN?

Job loss robs you of your peace.

It smashes your confidence.

It destroys your joy.

It blasts your heart with all the brokenness of every rejection and lost opportunity.

It steals your thoughts and turns them into schemes of desperation.

It jacks with your knowledge by making you feel stupid regarding issues you know inside and out.

It creeps up like a black mark on your past achievements and tries to whisper negative thoughts.

It compounds every weakness.

It holds you hostage in a link to the person or persons who “let you go for some other company” and replays over & over the day they told you to get lost.

It wrecks you.

It takes away your smile.

Steals your rest. Pushes you to turn to anything ugly or unhealthy and stuff it down in your body. It makes sure you’re too wrapped up in worry to have fun or let go and let God.

Stress is a homicidal maniac! It hates you and it hates me. Like a cancer that won’t stop growing if you and I don’t fight with all our might, stress will destroy us.

I’m fighting so hard today. My bills are hanging all over my head and there’s no end in sight to the day a paycheck rolls into my hands. I’ve faced down the giant over & over again but every day that I wake up and there’s no job, the stress grows and festers.

Right this minute, my hubby is meeting with a guy about a job. The first time they met and talked, the job offer (and halleluia for that) was for a very low salary amount for a very big and hard job. Thankfully, he had the courage to point out the enormity of the job and the requirements to actually do the job for the salary offer didn’t make sense.

Today will decide everything. Either this company can afford the position or it cannot.

Please pray for Don that he would be strong, sure and all anxiety would be removed from his mind. He’s not had a job in 483 days. It’s almost destroyed everything inside him both mentally and emotionally.

God,
We have no doubt YOU have kept us going this long. You have protected us from many situations and circumstances and we believe you when you say you are working!
Help us, provide exactly what is needed. You see it all. Gracious God. Thank you.
Amen

When Hard Looks Different

January 4th, 2018

I’d like to believe that I’m fully equipped to see outside of my own problems to those of hurting folks around me. But, like any other human….life can blind me to the needs of those caught up in catastrophe and hold me hostage inside my own dang issues!

Forgive me, Lord.

I had a situation recently with a student that opened my eyes to just how wrapped up I can get in my own troubles. I won’t go into ALL OF THE details but the student was missing a chair at her desk and instead of walking 4 steps to the left and picking one up (they had simply been scooted down a bit) she stood there like a statue. I began class and noticed her still standing while everyone else sat ready to go. When I questioned her what she was doing she answered that she didn’t have a chair.

Something deep inside me bubbled with frustration, not against her but regarding my own crappy troubles. How I wished my problems were that simple. I knew instantly that much of what I’m going through could be viewed by someone else as no big deal. For me, it feels monumental. Everything I know as normal is gone. Not one single thing is the same in my life, except for Christ. He has remained steadfast and gracious. The rest, crazy…mixed-up and outrageous! Making no sense.

I asked her to think how she could solve her problem. We laughed about it after a few minutes but I admitted to her my feelings of wishing my problems were so easy to solve. Life is hard. My hard may not look like yours but that doesn’t mean yours isn’t painful and treacherous. Everyone who experiences trials deals with them in their own unique way. You may find unemployment as a break or a fresh start where I have reached the point of insanity and struggle to get out of bed every day.

My hard is not yours. Aren’t you glad?

Next time I see someone hurting, I won’t compare what they are struggling with to mine. There is no way to measure the intensity for one over another. I don’t want to negate what someone else feels just because I’m buried deep under a blanket of distress.

What’s hard for you right now?