At My Worst

If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds...
If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds…

Last week, I hinted at fiction for this week… that’s still on- for Thursday, I think 🙂 But tonight, as I work through some stuff in my head, I had some thoughts I was moved to share.

When we have a disagreement with someone, we often comment that we’ve seen them at their worst. On the surface, the disagreement seems like a negative thing. In the aftermath, we tell ourselves the hurtful person that emerged and attacked with well-aimed emotional missiles was just a result of the situation. It’s not really who they are.

It occurs to me that this “worst” isn’t always an abnormality in behavior, but rather the truest sense of the person that appeared from behind the mask usually held firmly in place.   What seems like a bad thing turns into a blessing because it provides a glimpse of what lives in the person’s heart. It’s better to know what we’re dealing with.

It got me thinking about what I am at my worst. I’m there right now…

I struggle to keep seeds of resentment from taking root. I battle anger with regular exercise and prayers to “let it go.” I linger in lows where hope could slide through the eye of a needle.  Sometimes I feel like a doormat and I want to shout all the things I bottle up inside, but I refuse to retaliate with hatred. I seek peace instead.  Bad feelings might be around me, but they will not become me.

This is who I am at my worst.  I’m far from perfect, but I could be worse…

What do you think – is our worst a true indication of who we are?


Getting Done and Getting By

My mom often comments that she doesn’t know how I get it all done.  She then rattles off several things that I push around have on my plate…work, my husband, the kids, Cub Scouts, housework, etc.  I smile nervously and deflect my gaze.  It’s like looking her in the eyes would signal my acceptance of her observation.  I know she means well, but I get uncomfortable under the weight of that statement.

Yes, I do have a full life.  Everyone does.  Most days, I manage reasonably well to fake it through the day.  But everything is far from getting done.  I’m behind reading with my younger son, so I add a half hour of reading time.  Then, I don’t have time to look at my older son’s geography project.  I do that the next day, and by doing so, I didn’t get the grocery lists done.  I double up on reading and homework review the next day, almost smug that I’ve beat the system…then I remember I have a Cub Scout meeting in two days and I still have to plan the activities.

I’m not getting everything done; I’m merely getting by.

Long after everyone else is in bed, I sit at the computer.  I steal borrow (yeah, borrow sounds much nicer; more legal) some time for me.  I manage to get blog posts done and a few short stories and poems here and there, but my novel sits untouched; I decide it needs more time than I can give it right now.  I think my sleep time won’t notice, but the next day, when I fight my midday slump, I realize that my theft has not gone unpunished.

I always thought I was an honest person, but the same borrowing goes on when it comes to my spiritual growth.  I feel better when I spend some time reading scriptures, opening my heart for God’s truths to speak to me.  I also feel better when I avoid the cookies and cupcakes someone brought in to share with the office, but for some reason, I make choices that leave me feeling empty and wanting more (and carrying a few extra pounds.)

This weekend, I’m at the last camping trip of the year with my older son.  I pray that God will help me to let go and enjoy this time without thinking about all the stuff that isn’t getting done.  I hope God will work in my heart during this off-line time.  I feel like I’m not accomplishing what I’m supposed to…but I don’t know what God’s plan is for me.  (Hello, cryptic dream…lightning bolt…anything???)  I hope writing is an answer, but I want to have an open heart in case His plan for me is something else.

I can’t do it all.  Something’s gotta give and I hope God will guide my way.

Which path? I kind of hope it’s the first one…it’s in Hawaii 🙂

Determination: Side Effect Of Anger

My emotions have run the gamut this week.  Hope, anger, frustration, helplessness, and determination have broken me down and pulled me back together.  Exhausting, yes…but it was a much-needed tune up.

I wish I could tell the full story here and get it all off my chest, but hubby’s job is off-limits.  All I can say is that last week, we found out that even though his employer is engaging in barely-legal retaliatory actions, there’s nothing much we can do (unless we have upwards of 30K for a lawyer and the stamina for years of battle).

I want hubby to walk away.  He doesn’t want to fold.

Months of anger and frustration came out in the form of a first-class hissy fit that would make any toddler sit up and take notice.  I sat alone in my car crying, screaming and spewing angry words that I would never say in the company of others (and frankly, should not say alone either!)

Except for my puffy eyes and stuffed-up nose, I felt better after the cry.  After dallying in hateful thoughts of how I could inflict misery upon the perpetrators, I began to think of ways I could turn my anger into something positive.  I came up with several ideas.

An elected official isn’t helping our situation.  That night, I decided volunteer for the opponent’s campaign, as this in an election year.  I submitted a form to offer assistance with blogs, letters to editors, flyers – anything written.  (I wrote a post back in 2010 about why I shouldn’t talk to people (I’m Better On Paper), if you haven’t read it already.)

See?  Shameless self-promotion carried out so easily by my fingertips, but could never be uttered by my lips 🙂  Sheesh, I can’t even tell people I have a blog, much less suggest that it’s worthy of their time to read it!  (So, how could I possibly verbally convince someone to vote for a candidate?)

I honestly don’t know if this candidate has a serious chance of toppling the incumbent, but I will give them my support.  It’s what I need to do turn anger into something good.

Oh, I am doing one more thing:  I’m praying for enlightenment.  Maybe hubby will see the light and leave, realizing that quitting might be best for his sanity.  Or maybe this is a fight he’s supposed to take on.  My prayer is that God will lead us in the “right” direction.

Psalm 37:1-2:  Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

P.S.  This is not a political blog, so I will not write political posts here.  That identity will be completely separate.  (So many personalities emerging…I wonder if this is how Sybil felt?)

Even When The Answer Is “No”

In my January 22nd post, I wrote about my fear and worry associated with our dog, Josie’s health.  I appreciate all the prayers, well-wishes, good thoughts and candle-lighting that you did in response to that post.  Your kindness helped me through a tough time.  It has been several weeks now, and I’m happy (relieved) to report no more full-fledged seizures.  Of course, she does still have twitches and balance issues that make my heart skip a beat, but nothing like the middle-of-the-night horror I witnessed before my husband rushed her to the animal hospital in January.

Sometimes God responds to prayers with a “no” (like a parent does when a child wants a candy bar for dinner).  The child may not like the answer, but the parent knows more about nutrition.

This time, God gave me the answer I wanted to hear – “it’s not Josie’s time to go.”  I know very well that this answer could change at any time.  Hey, it could change for me, or anyone I love.  Remembering this helps me to step back and be thankful for the blessings I do have – even when they don’t feel like blessings in the moment.

When my kids are testing their boundaries (and my patience), it’s easy to forget that God’s plan is probably not to drive me insane by my 40th birthday.  Maybe it is…I don’t know.  If so, God will be pleased to know that as of last night, His plan is on track.

When I come home to yet another dog accident in our bathroom, and wish for a spotless house, I forget that each of our pets touches my soul in ways that make me a better person.  I have to remind myself that if God intended me to have floors clean enough to eat off of, tables and plates would not have been invented.

Like the constant, powerful movement of water sculpts rock formations, events in my life work in repetitive motions to mold me into what He planned for me since the day I took my first breath.  It is amazing to me that water – a substance we drink everyday – can so drastically change a rock’s appearance.  A rock seems so solid and unmovable.  Kind of like me, at times.

I’d like to think that my faith makes me pliable in Your hands, but I’d be kidding myself.  There are times when even I can recognize my rigidity.  Time and again, You have shown that when I trust You, I am not let down, and I am not alone.  Yet I still have a tendency to hold my fears and worries close to my chest, even as I pray that I might have the strength to let them go.  This push and pull leaves me nothing but a knot in my stomach.

I go to sleep with a heavy heart and this prayer on my lips;

That you will give me the strength to tip the balance –

To trust that even if my worries are just and fears are realized,

You will not leave me cold and hungry, but will continue to provide.


In Life, There Are Trials

I think everyone can agree that life isn’t easy; there are plenty of stumbles, falls and detours.  There are dead-ends and miscalculations, and there is plenty of pain and heartache along the way.  If you can’t relate to any of this because you’ve only experienced joy and success, please leave a comment with details of your charmed life.  Really, I want to know.

I will remind myself that life isn’t fair, and I will do my best to not dislike you for the injustice that is no fault of your own.  In fact, I’ll likely say a prayer for you because with all that smooth sailing, navigating the inevitable choppy waters might be more than you know how to handle.

But you should know this:  life is like the ‘friend’ in high school who buddies up to you until you’re done helping with her science project.  In other words, just because it’s nice to you, doesn’t mean that life is your friend…life will knock you off your feet when you least expect it.  Consider yourself warned 😉

All joking aside, life’s trials are necessary.  Without them, how would we ever learn to appreciate the goodness we have?  How would we know that when life brings us to our knees, we can get up and limpstand again?

For me, it is the emotional moments in life that make me take notice.

Moment #1

Over the Christmas holiday, my family was blessed with not one, but two phone calls from my cousin in Afghanistan.  It’s amazing how a distance of half a world away became a two-second voice transmission delay – for a short time it felt like he was with us.  Crowded around a cell phone put on speaker, we talked about Easy Cheese (apparently sought after by troops for its shelf life,) tube socks (he asked for no more,) and Kevlar underwear (you don’t want to know.)

He also told us his assignment might be changing, and not to worry because he might be out of contact for several months.  We all knew what this meant, and of course, we will worry.  Predictably, his parents had questions, all of which he deflected with vague answers (just as he was trained).

We cherished these calls more, because we knew they might not come again for a long time.  We didn’t speak a word of our worries, the dangers, or the possible outcomes because doing so wouldn’t have helped ease any anxiety.  Instead we do what we can, which is pray for his safety, and value our freedom that our troops defend.  (I may have my doubts about our presence in the Middle East, but I don’t doubt the bravery and sacrifices of the men and women who enlist in the military.)

Moment #2

I’ve been known to cry after watching commercials, animated films (Up and Toy Story 3), and while reading anything pertaining to death or loss.  So yeah, I’m a bit of an emotional crier.  This past week, a set of videos, which I first encountered on Yahoo News, got me again.

The Ben Breedlove ‘My Story’ videos were posted on December 18th and have been widely publicized since the teen’s death on Christmas day, so you may have already watched them.  If you haven’t, I’ve included the You Tube links below and encourage you to view both Part One and Part Two.  I watched them again when I got the links for this post and I still needed tissues.

Part One –

Part Two –

Ben’s story got to me for several reasons:

    1. It’s always sad to me when such a young person dies.
    2. Even though trials are meant to make us stronger, and life isn’t fair, it just doesn’t seem right for children to have to battle illnesses.
    3. My children have not had chronic health issues – they are healthy and I am ever thankful for that.  I pray God nudges me to remember this in the moments I get frustrated with them.
    4. It reminds me that God has a plan for all of us.  I don’t need to understand “Why?” I just need to trust his answer: “Because.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4:  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…”

Your turn – tell me about your trial-free life, your troubled life, or whether you prefer Brussels sprouts or turnip greens.  What did you think of the Ben Breedlove videos?  Whatever you want to ‘say’ – the Comment box is all yours 🙂