Frayed

stress-2061408_1280“I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world…

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left”

These two verses from the song Worn by Tenth Avenue North are really about how I have been feeling lately. I seem to keep saying, “I don’t like people…” I add today in there, but it has gotten to the point that it’s not just today.

Even people who normally would be those I would consider friends have either disappointed me or just plain ticked me off.

Just the other day I got caught in the crossfire of a power struggle between two people and got seriously wounded.  I never thought I would be spoken to by this one person in the manner that they spoke to me, and I most certainly did not deserve it. I was trying to simply do what I was told to do. It reminded me of my car accident several years ago, I did everything right, but still wound up with a totaled car and an injury that would later cause me to have surgery.

The funny thing is, this all happened in church. Now I know you cannot expect perfection when you put a bunch of sinners under one roof. It can sometimes look like a refuge camp at Sinner Town with the same attitude of a toddler who hasn’t had a nap. However, for quite awhile now I don’t feel like I can do much right and it makes me not want to step out and serve for fear of snap back.

Yes, I am fragile in the feelings department. Living day to day has become a little harder than I expected. Slowly losing my parents, still trying to raise my adult children, and losing bits and pieces of me with each surgery or malady that comes along, it makes for someone who is easily hurt or angered depending on the day.

But I am tired, I am worn…and I am crying out with all I have left.

People are just messy.

Why Can’t Women Fellowship?

people-2567915_1920Why is it as women we can’t seem to get our acts together? Even as Christian women we still stumble into the pitfalls of the world around us. I see it at various churches. I know of a women’s ministry that is more like the movie Mean Girls than it is about lifting each other up and coming alongside of each other. There is a group in the movie called “The Plastics” and to me these are women who don’t have the ability to really show who they are deep down inside and what they struggle with on a daily basis. It’s like saying you know the Bible, but it’s all head knowledge and nothing is really tucked into your heart.

However, even in other instances we as women tend to develop clicks that can be hard to fellowship within. It seems that we become like the 12 tribes and can’t intermarry if we want to keep our inheritance. Why is it that we display this behavior?

Maybe this is why I tend towards being on my own. My flesh every once in awhile will poke at me and whisper, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be part of the popular crowd?” But then I am given a snapshot of the cost of being part of that group and my conscience tells me that I really don’t want to pay that price; I am stingy like that, and not just with my money.

It’s a shame really. God created us for fellowship yet many of us leave a lot of others wandering alone in the wilderness.

Weight Limit

suitcase-4410369_1920If we are honest we have all struggled with our faith or even had a crisis of faith. Let’s face it sometimes when we really don’t understand what is going on the very foundation on which we stand can feel a bit shaky. I know there have been times that I questioned whether God was really in the mix or just sitting by letting it all happen. I have been having one of those times lately, yet I know if I let go of my faith, what do I have left?

There have been a few people in the news recently that have stated that they are moving away from the faith, because what they are believing now is reality or real. You know what? Have at it, but not at the expense of others my friend. A leader in the church no matter how big or small is held to a higher standard and I guess it can weigh heavy on a person’s shoulders, but don’t try and take others with you when you essentially defect to the other side. I can hear the words, “If you put so much faith in a person than you really weren’t worshipping God, but man.” You know what to some extent you are right, but what if that person was the one who helped lead you to Christ? What if their music helped get you through a rough time and turned you to Christ when you had been running away? What then?

Romans 14:21 tells us 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Now I am not saying that a person does not have his or her right to their beliefs, what I am saying is there is no reason to “take them out” with you. To publicly declare that you no longer wish to believe that Jesus died for you and you will have an eternity with Him and that the world offers so much more and things will be great if you are just a “good person” THAT IS WRONG! If you feel this way, as I said, have at it, but go about your business quietly so as not to shake another person’s faith. It’s like taking someone out on a boat and then deciding for BOTH of you that you need to take a swim.

John Cooper of Skillet addressed this in a post and I personally think he was spot on. He said, “Why do people act like ‘being real’ covers a multitude of sins? As if someone is courageous simply for sharing virally every thought or dark place. That’s not courageous. It’s cavalier.”  It is cavalier, you are now taking people to a place that they don’t belong. Fellowshipping with the saints does not require others to follow you into the pit, but to help pull you out of it.

Cooper goes on to say, “As if they are the harbingers of truth, saying ‘I used to think one way and practice it and preach it, but now I’ve learned all the new truth and will start practicing and preaching it.’ So the influencers become the voice for truth in whatever stage of life and whatever evolution takes place in their thinking.” Again working a bit like Satan roaming about looking for those to devour.

I say to these people stop trying to shake my faith. I wrestle with enough on my own thankyouverymuch without you, the “faces of the faith” coming out and saying that the world’s idea of love one another is so much better than God’s. I will just say it, what sin are you trying to hide or get in front of before it is discovered? God sees it and it will eventually come to light. Was your thinking that you could make it look less ugly if you disavowed what you have been learning and teaching for decades? If so as a fellow Christian I stand with people like John Cooper and call you out on your baloney. Leave me to struggle with my own faith without carrying your baggage too…….much like airplanes, I have a weight limit and you have reached yours.

Human

man-2125123_1920I got a really good lesson recently. I am human….go figure. I, without a doubt, know that I have a strong personality and I still find myself having to stop fighting just to be right. I have to force myself to think, “Do I want to die on this hill?” It has lead to me biting my tongue more often, but there are times that I just don’t stop myself soon enough.

One of the things that will cause me to be less than loving in my response is when another person’s tone of voice is condescending. When I hear a, “what do you know” type of attitude my hackles are raised and I respond in a less than appropriate manner. It’s taken me a lot of work to reign this attitude in. Growing up in my home my best was never good enough. I couldn’t try and not succeed, in fact I had to excel, which led to me many times not even trying.

I have stepped out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways since leaving my home, some 30 years ago, simply because of my husband’s personality which has forced me to be less of an introvert, but also because that still small voice wouldn’t leave me alone and I have found myself in places such as Africa and China.

Now I sit here believing that my inability to quelch my right fighting has lead me to a place that I haven’t been in a long time, or least since living with my parents. I am in a place where I know that quite possibly I have lost something that I enjoyed doing and loved doing it with the people who were involved. It hurts and it’s where I find myself being very uncomfortable with my own humanity.

This one is going to leave a mark.

Make It Count

memory-4111092_1920I don’t know if it’s a wives tale or not but yesterday it was proven to be true for my mom; it is said that if you take a dementia patient out of their normal patterns the disease shows up in all its glory. Well, it did.


My mom had fallen a few days ago and apparently was still complaining about the pain from the bruises she sustained, so my father took her to the ER on Sunday. The doctors decided to keep her overnight for observation. My illogical resentment reared its ugly head over this development. When I was growing up, I was never allowed to really be sick. I was always told that it wasn’t that bad, or that I needed to stop complaining so much. So, when my dad called to tell us he had taken her to the ER I had flashbacks to all those times, and I was not very nice about it.


My dad had to have a dental procedure and not too subtly asked me to go sit with my mom at the hospital till he could get back there. I got there early and they occupational therapist was helping her to move to the chair instead of sitting in the bed. The therapist was asking all kinds of questions that my mother was answering as if it were 15 years ago and she was not in the world she has been transported to lately. If I tried to correct the answer, I was told that she (my mom) did not want to be called a liar and I was to be seen and not heard (yeah like I hadn’t heard that growing up).


My mom’s attitude wasn’t bad, she was cranky and a bit snappy at times, but overall it wasn’t horrible. Yet, I could see that my dad at 84 and with a fib could no longer take care of him by himself. However, my parents have been stonewalling me at every turn when we discuss any next steps to be taken. As an example, I don’t even know where their paperwork is for the cremation they paid for ahead of time.


The physical therapist showed up and started asking me questions in front of my mom and she was becoming more adjugated, so I asked to speak with the therapist in the hallway. I let her know the situation at home with my parents. I also let her know that they don’t listen to anything I say.

The physician’s assistant then came in and we essentially repeated the same process. She said they would be having a meeting about the patients in a little while and maybe if they spoke to my dad, things would change. I felt horrible going behind his back, but to them I am still very much the child to them. 


When my dad got there, it was like a switch had been flipped in my mom. She became combative and belligerent. She was rude and outright nasty to the people that were trying to help her. I spoke to her much like you do a child that is misbehaving telling her that she was being rude and that was not appropriate. I tried to negotiate her making a choice so that the nastiness would stop, but my dad looked at me and said, “Cool it right now!” I picked up my stuff and I left.


On the way home I realized I still had my mom’s cell phone in my purse, so my husband (who has been my rock in all of this) called my dad to let him know we would get it back to them this evening, since I did not want to speak with him just then. We found out that at least the hospital heard me and refused to release my mother unless my dad signed a paper stating that a home health care nurse would come to the house every day. My dad told my husband that he supposed he needed to apologize (haven’t heard from him yet).


All I can say is that my prayer is that this trial counts…..just make it count.

Where Are You Going?

I haven’t been able to write in a long time. I thought that when I got back from teaching English as a Second Language in China that the writing would come easy; it didn’t. It took me awhile to settle into life again after that experience. I don’t think I even wanted to because life has thrown a curve ball as it is want to do at times.

My mother has dementia. At first it wasn’t too bad, she would make me repeat things several times that I had told her or remind her constantly of dates and times of things. Then at Easter it became apparent that it was progressing. Details about family stories were twisted in her mind and she would say to my father, “Isn’t that right?” to clarify her position. My dad would not verbalize and agreement, but by not disagreeing he is, at least to me, avoiding the issue.

I am an only child and most of the rest of our family is either gone or feels no need to interact. Not having that interactions are not what makes this a lonely experience, it’s trying to help my parents when they balk at anything that has to do with what comes next.

There are days that are harder than others because they are a glimpse into the future without my parents. My childhood was not all rosy, but it wasn’t horrible by any means so this new road we are traveling is one of the most difficult I have been on.

I am watching a woman vanish before my eyes, who raised me primarily on her own for the first 5 years of my life without being able to drive. My mom also had 4 heart attacks before I was 16 years old, so many of these years she was raising me from a hospital bed in the living room.  She is leaving us in increments. Sometimes I think this is crueler than if she were taken home.

I am learning the hard way to dig deep and find patience I never knew existed inside of me. Our pastor jokingly tells us that if we ask God for patience that He will allow a trial to teach you patience.  This is one trila I would have been very happy if He had stopped.

So be patient with me because there are days that are much harder than others and I am not sure why I snip and snarl at the ones I love. But there are days that God is my refuge and strength and a very present help in my troubles.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

quotes-933816_1920I haven’t had any time to sit down and write at all really, as evidenced by this blog. Life seems to be swirling at an unimaginable pace and I am having a hard time keeping up.

My mother is disappearing at a rapid pace. The dementia is evident most days. She is always looking for confirmation from my father when telling a story or relating information. She also asks the same questions many times even in one conversation. It’s hard to watch and difficult to not lose my patience.

My father went in for his third cardio version. I DO NOT like his cardiologist, but he does and refuses to listen to any of our concerns about the treatment he is receiving.  This particular doctor does not like women much, so when my husband asked a question, she began speaking solely to him forgetting that my mother and I were in the room. She also discussed my father’s condition in a waiting room with others present (a clear violation of HIPPA) and then proceeded to tell us she missed the window to see my father’s heart back in sinus rhythm after his last cardio version. Really lady? It was 6 months ago, how big of a window do you need?

My sons are facing challenges in the adult world that I as a mother would like to make go away, but they are grown and I can’t. We always thought that the hardest challenges came while they were in school with their learning difference, but I think this season is much more difficult.

Then there is my mission trip to China on the horizon. I feel totally ill equipped to do what I am being called to do. Wrapping my head and my focus around what is needed to reflect Jesus in my words and deeds and still be able to help teach spoken English at camp is a daunting task to me. Praise God for friends and family that are helping, but I really need the help of the Holy Spirit and divine intervention to get me through.

Isaiah 41:10 
“‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Lost Innocence

Columbine1.jpgNineteen years ago today I was 2,000 physical miles away and what I thought was a lifetime from my graduation in 1984. I was raising two little boys who weren’t quite 4 yet and trying to navigate married with a hefty dose of motherhood. Cell phones were not the huge thing that they are now, but my oh so elegant flip phone rang and my mom was on the other end. I was a bit panicked hearing her voice because we usually only used cell phones for emergencies. She asked me where I was and I said I had been shopping for clothes for the boys as they were growing so fast. She told me to turn on the radio because a shooting had happened at Columbine. That was the day that 13 souls were lost and as an alumni I lost a piece of my innocence.

Yes, I went to Columbine. I graduated in 1984 almost 15 years before two young men went on a rampage and killed 13 people, wounded 20 others and eventually killed themselves. I had only lived in Colorado for 5 years and moved back to Pennsylvania, where I was originally from, two years after graduating. My high school years had a huge impact on my life and I treasured my time at Columbine. In the time it took for those two young men to slaughter those 13, a piece of what I had thought was a safe and comforting place had been taken and as I said my naiveté had been stripped away.

It’s still hard when people talk about what high school they graduated from and they turn to you and you say, “Columbine” and the gasps and the, “THAT Columbine?” is what comes next. Yes, THAT Columbine. The place is not evil. The principle Mr. Frank DeAngelis, the community and the alumni worked diligently to help remove the stain that colored responses when the name was mentioned. April 20th became a day of service, where we were steadfast in stretching out our hands to those who needed to heal and it helped us all in the process.

However, today I am angry. I, like the many other alumni, are angered at the March for Lives movement that have co-opted a day when the Columbine community comes together to heal just a little bit more, for their political and fame garnering agenda.  Parkland Florida students who admittedly were bullies themselves are protesting on the anniversary of Columbine. Let’s be honest it has NOTHING to do with healing or change and everything to do with a political agenda and what will get them the most publicity.

I have to work not to let my anger become vengeful and move from righteous indignation. Go march on Washington DC where any change you want to affect will have to come from, check your true motivations and take a hard look at your heart if you really want things to be different, but don’t take away the modicum of peace that a community has worked for to further your agenda.

 

His Timing

pocket-watch-1637396_1920I am not very good about waiting on God’s timing. I tend towards feeling like it needs to be my timing not His. This is proving to be especially difficult raising support for my mission trip to China.

I prayed hard about this one. The first time I went on a mission trip with my son was 4 years ago and it was to Swaziland. I had felt the pull for missions back then, but told God that I didn’t want to go to Africa. Yeah you guessed it, I went to a little country in Africa. It was an experience I will never forget, but I really needed to rely on God and His timing as we had to raise enough support for TWO people that time.

I felt a call again to the short term mission field last year and my husband and I thought it was for us to go to Swaziland together, but God shut that door pretty definitively early on in the process. The trip to China kept coming up even after the Swaziland door was shut, but in typical fashion for me I ignored it. Then one day at our church the forms to start the process for China were on a table with people answering questions there. My husband picked up a set of forms for himself, so being the dutiful wife that I am, I grabbed a set too. My husband found out that missions would be incredibly difficult for him to get time off for, but he was willing to keep trying, just China this year would not be his trip. I don’t know why really, but I filled out the forms. Then I said to my husband I was going to have to come up with $100 to send it all in. He looked at me with this funny look on his face and said “I still have a $100 from the money your parents gave us for Christmas. I haven’t been able to spend it, now I know why!” So the forms got sent in. I believed that I wasn’t going to be accepted to go on the trip and I was ok with that. Low and behold I got an email shortly after that if I could raise the funds I was going to China to teach English to the Chinese students in their summer camp.

I will be partnering with Bridging the World,  so they set up me support page and I had to move out of my comfort zone and send out support letters. That is one of the worst parts for me (aside from waiting on His timing). I am an introvert at heart who has been forced to be an extrovert. I sent out a bunch of letters and I waited. I would check my page periodically, but not much happening other than the first donation from my other son to help me start off. Then one morning I was praying and I said, “God if I am not supposed to go, can you please shut the door now, because I am really discouraged.” I went down and checked my page and friends of ours had given a substantial amount of money. I was floored! It was almost as if I had said, “Can you do it, God?” and He said, “Watch this!”

I am now down to the wire. I have 75% of my support raised, but I need another $800 before the end of May. There are only about 15 1/2 more weeks before we leave for China. I know that if I am to go the money will come in, but waiting on His timing is not my strong suit as I have said so me catching myself worrying is not unusual lately. My husband has always said, “Worry is a poor excuse for prayer.” I think I am going to be praying A LOT!

Is It All About Me?

ball-and-chain-2624325_1920So many things have been conspiring to keep me from the things that I know I should do and the things that I want to do. Wind storms and snow storms and just life in general in our family. However, there has been one thing that keeps coming up for me, rattling around in my brain and just being a general nuisance.

My husband, not too long ago, said that he felt a calling to be a pastor, that he had been studying as if that was the path he was to take. My first thought was, “No way!” I don’t feel that I am pastor’s wife material. I am not soft-spoken, and I usually plow through things like a bull in a china shop, I am very blunt and I don’t suffer fools gladly. Plus if you hurt my husband I will come at you like a hurricane.

I am still resistant. My husband and I will be married 25 years in May. We have raised two children with special needs and for at least 8 years of our marriage my husband was an alcoholic. He has been sober for 10 years, Praise God, but for most of that 10 years we have worked to repair what the devil took from us. I just really got my husband back in the last three years or so, and I don’t want to give him up. We can now leave our children for a short time and know that the house will still be standing and the dog will still be alive. We have intense discussions about scripture that I never anticipated would be our traveling conversations. We can even be in the same room doing different things and be content to be in each other’s presence. I don’t want to give that up, and right now I can’t see what I might gain if I do give it up.

But then the guilt washes over me. Who am I to stifle his calling? I am reminded of Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Am I a stumbling block? I know I am an obstacle. That is when I become conflicted. Is it truly that I don’t feel the same calling on our lives, or is it all about me?

The conflict becomes worse when I consider the fact that he has been completely supportive of the mission trips I have made and am working towards. He has never stepped in my way unless he knew that it would cause harm to me in any way. Then I reason that these are short-term mission trips, not the rest of our lives. The verses that keep popping into my head, but still have not sunk in are Philippians 2:3-5, ” 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, ” yeah I have a lot of work to do and some serious self-examination. Wish me luck and pray for me.