Not Yet, Not Fully, Not Finally

I’m struggling again tonight because life seems to have left the happy behind so there’s very little happy anymore.  I remember when I was young thinking how “old” old people were who constantly looked back to happier days.  I didn’t understand.  I do now.

I loved my child rearing days.  I was good at it…very good.  I raised respectful sweet natured children who were the envy of those who didn’t know us in restaurants (more than once someone came by to tell the children how well behaved they were) and of those who did know us well.  The children were hard workers and knew how to relate to adults as well as other children.  I always chalked that up to home schooling, but maybe it was that we expected obedience and respect and made sure it reigned in our home.

Now it is hard to be around children.  They are disrespectful and out of control.  When I see a child genuinely happy and being good…I am drawn to them … because it is a rare sighting.  I don’t blame the children.  I blame the parents…too busy schedules so they don’t have the strength to discipline well…bought into the lie that getting things for their kiddos makes them better and have a better childhood…too involved in having more so that their first priority isn’t raising good members of society and most of all not following God on how to raise their children and making sure they are being taught the Word daily.

I read the Word to my children every morning before we started school.  Did they always follow it?  No.  I have sinner children just like everyone else, but I have to believe it made an impact on their lives because I believe God when He says His word never comes back void.

I’m sad tonight because there is little to no relationship with most of my family on either side.  I thought when I raised six children that I was raising my family that I would have relationship with; but that hasn’t been the case.  When my children struggle or hurt they don’t come to me.  I have a hard time understanding this because I didn’t have a mom or dad to go to…they were gone by the time I was 19.  I have tried to be there for them…maybe I was too easy on them…especially as they got older and made bone-headed mistakes.  One of them told me I should have been more involved during the bone-headed time; but how do you gauge that when they have made it clear they are adults and don’t need you anymore?

So….I’m disappointed in these years.  It seems like all my fun is over.  There doesn’t seem to be a point in life or purpose.  I thought I would be a big part of my grandchildren’s lives, but I’m not.  Most of them don’t really want me around.  I don’t have Jesus to share with them because either I am too far away or they don’t want to go.  What’s the point in life if you can’t share Jesus?

To add insult to injury I see other families way involved with each other.  They call and cry and love and share.

I have often hung onto the scripture that if you give up your life for Jesus your family will be His family…that hasn’t been the case either.  Oh, I now it isn’t over yet.  My pastor preached about Not Yet, Not Fully, Not Finally.  In other words…it’s not over until the fat lady sings…and she ain’t singing. It made a lot of sense.  I just need to take it to heart and gain some hope from it.

 

 

Forever Grace

 

I’m reading a book by Grace Fabian, missionary to Papua New Guinea.  Several things have struck me…a good part of it has brought tears for it is a story of tragedy and forgiveness.  It has struck me that through it all her family and her missionary family has stuck with her and their friendships are both godly and grace filled and forever.

It’s made me look over our life.  I can’t say I have any forever friends.  I hear of others who have 40 and 50 year friendships and wonder what that would be like.  I’ve never had a girlfriend stick with me through thick and thin.  We’ve never had couples who were team workers and mentors.  Allen would have one man come and go in his life over the years. And me too…but never someone who called or wrote and kept up with us.  Many have given up on us rather than keep up relationships.

I am not sure why this is so…my own mom didn’t have a lot of close relationships, but she had ladies she would have in for Bible study and those she would go to tea at their house or sit and knit with.  My life has been void of a lot of that.  Even in our churches where I would lead large groups of ladies…I would notice that they never sought me out and if I wanted anything to do with them…I would be the one who would have to call or make contact.

I think everyone desires for someone who will seek them out.  I am not good at this myself.  I feel like if I am seeking someone out then I am putting them out to tell me no or risking being rejected.  Maybe I’m a coward at heart.

I’m so thankful that in my relationship with God He has sought me out.  He LOVES spending time with me.  He never judges and gives up…even when I don’t make time for Him.  He’s always waiting…and never rejects when I suggest we spend time together.

I heard a speaker years ago talk about the importance of having close relationships in ministry … four or five couples at least…people to share life with, share your story with, share your hurts and joys and disappointments and griefs with.  We have never found those who want that with and for us.  I see others that have that; but it is not our experience or ours to have.  Even the groups we have been in here in NC have dissolved because people were too busy and it wasn’t important enough to keep on meeting.

Our family has always been far away…both sides so there is no real connection there other than blood and for those that are Christians we have that bond…but relationship is really not there much.  I remember my older sisters calling mom every night to touch base and check on her.

One thing I’ve learned in counseling is we are created for relationship.  So what do you do when relationship is not there?  There is loss and grief and when you see it in others…there is sadness and contemplation that maybe there is something wrong with you.  If no one ever seeks you out…if no one wants a relationship…what does that say?  It says you find it in Jesus.  He becomes more.  He becomes enough.  My heart still yearns and wonders if we had had these relationships like Grace did for all these years..where we would be and what things would be different.

Overall, life has been pretty lonely for us.  We used to have long term friends we would spend holidays with…but they gave up on us a long time ago …or me, anyway.  I keep waiting for that abundant life scripture talks about to show up.  Each day I go to work with dread…not the “abundant” I was hoping for.  I can understand older people now who look back to the “olden days” when things were better.  I remember back to when my children were young and at home and those were my abundant years.  I’m so thankful for them.

Just some thoughts…dark thoughts…but they are deep beneath the mask as my blog is titled and need to come out somewhere. So here they are…to float in cyberspace and linger on the wind.

 

 

“New”

I saw something the other day flash up on my facebook page.  It was a homemade meme sent because I follow a particular ministry (rethinking this one).  I don’t remember the exact words, but it said something like, that the new year wasn’t new and it was just another day…there was nothing new..you know the drill. It has spurred me on to take a look at the word “new” in the Word for 2017. My first thought was that God’s grace is new every morning. Praise Jesus!

I think in a way the “new” year gives us an opportunity to rethink the last year and go over the good, the bad and the ugly.  It gives us opportunity to also think ahead to the future and hope and dream and even make resolutions if that is what you like to do.

What I find each year is that the last year went faster than ever and often just carried me along with it.  You know what I’m saying, right?  Work, clean, sleep, eat, work, clean, eat sleep.  When I’m tired I’m not purposeful.  I think living a purposeful life is wonderful.  I haven’t felt like I could do that…ever really…as a young mom I was carried from one emergency to another as we dealt with situation after situation with child after child.  It sounds horrific when I put it like that but it was a blessed time for me.  There was much laughter and even though each child remembers their childhood differently so far as the good, the bad and the ugly…I will always cherish those years.  Now, as an almost empty nester…I find myself working a full-time job…and with my health struggles having very little time to be purposeful at all.It’s probably one of my most prevelant disappointments in myself is that I run out of umph before I should.

I digress.  “New” is something I have always looked forward to.  As the seventh child I had a lot of “old” new things.  But Christmas, Easter, birthday and the first day of school I could count on something new.  I remember picking out some pretty awful outfits for the first day of school (orange one year and hot pink another)…some day I’ll get brave enough to find the pictures and attach them for you. :/

I think each of us in our own way long for something new…not necessarily for material things, but a new love, a new relationship, a new true friend, a new page, a new chapter, something different from the humdrum of life that makes you want to scream running from it so often.

Genesis 27:28 seems to be a blessing…kind of like something you’d pull out of a Chinese proverb or something…only grander because it’s God’s wisdom and now ours. It’s part of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob (which he stole from Esau I may add) “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine.”  I just looked up why “new wine” is so important here.  It speaks of wine that is from that year…sweet wine.  He’s saying may you always have enough so you don’t have to drink old wine and grain from years past.  I like that.  May we all have enough…he speaks of abundance here…maybe to share with others.  That’s a wonderful blessing and hope for your child…for everyone.  May you always have enough, son…daughter…and have enough to share with others in need.

What a wonderful “new” year that would be.  To not just have plenty to spend on me and mine…but to have enough and then share with others.  May that be your new “new” this year as well.

Happy 2017!

Sometimes

Sometimes a Mama can’t be there for her son or daughter.  It’s a big day…something important…and your heart is there…but your body has someplace else it has to be.  I’m finding as I grow older this is more and more the case of my Momhood.  I live near three of my six children and two of my nine grandchildren and still I can’t be there for those who are right in the same town I live.  I hate that.  Sometimes I think I was born to be a mom.  To me it came naturally.  I grew up loving my dolls, dressing up my Thomasina cats in doll clothes and strolling them around in my carriage.  I taught all my dolls and stuffed animals on the couch lined up like little students.  I adored Momhood.

Nancy Reagan died this week.  What a wonderful woman.  She said, “My life really began when I married my husband.”

I thought a lot about that today.  In many ways that was true.  I often speak to my husband of almost 35 years of “my other life” before him, or when we were first married, or when the children were little.  They all seem like such distinct lives.

My oldest daughter, Christine, talked this week of watching her children when they weren’t looking and thinking how beautiful they are.  I remember so clearly of doing the same thingmany times…it was like time stood still during those moments.  They were in deep concentration coloring or thinking with their head in their hands and their tongues hanging out of their mouths.  And I’d smile and think how perfect they were.

I have beautiful children.  They are sweet, and cordial and courteous.  They love God and each other.  They are my glory that I pass on to my Savior for His glory.  If it were not for Him and His grace and His coaching and His parenting and His love and His mercy and His forgiveness and His strength and Him – period- we would have nothing.

He is the reason I can be okay with not being there for my daughters or my sons when they need me or want me.  I heard something the other day about how “My mother taught me everything except how to live without her.”  In a lot of ways that is true and will always be true.  I lost my own mother at 19.  I can’t imagine and my heart aches for what she went through that couple of months when she knew she was dying and her little girl, her youngest, was just barely nineteen and not ready for her to go.  What pain.  She was brusque.  She was harsh.  Now I understand.  She was heartbroken.  She was helpless.  She was dying inside way before she died outside.  I didn’t understand then.  I just knew I needed my Mama and she wasn’t there.  But she did “teach me how to live without her” in that she gave me my best friend.  She could die knowing that my Father, and His Son and His Spirit would guide me and love and me be there for me every step of the way in this life for all those times she couldn’t be with me…graduation from college, wedding day, every birth, every day I needed to call her and she wasn’t there to call, every birthday….I’ve had an ongoing conversation with the Father and Jesus over the years … I don’t know if they have given my messages, but it’s made me feel better to know that Mama knows that I know … now….that she wanted to be there for me.

So, children, know your Mama wants to be there.  Your birthdays I can’t come to, Easters, Christmases, Thanksgivings, births, graduations, certifications, every special day and every hard day.  Look at your own little ones and when you stop and wonder at their beauty and perfection…remember that is how I look at you.  You are perfect.  You are loved.  You are successful.  You are doing a wonderful job at life.  I pray for you.  Tears stream down my cheeks in the middle of the night for you.  My heart breaks for you…over and over and over. You are Dad’s and my legacy and we are so very proud of you.

Footprints and Sand and Friendship and Restless Emptiness

Ever have those days (or nights) when your soul just seems to be crying out for more?  You aren’t exactly sure what is going on inside, but you know there’s something deeper going on…you pray, you dig, you try to wipe away the cobwebs of your mind and inner being…but you just know you can’t sleep…tears run freely and you are sad but you aren’t…you are happy but you aren’t…your soul is …searching.

Allen and I had the wonderful privilege of a few days off in Myrtle Beach this past weekend through Tuesday.  I think this may have started it.  I had the “week from hell” at work just before we went.  Things are extremely busy.  No one is happy in their job.  Everyone is finding fault and blaming and there are many smiles and surface conversations…but no true friendship…no meeting of the souls.

We met friends there.  In Myrtle Beach.  They are from Vermont.  We were from Vermont.  We used to call each other up, go to dinner, tour cheese factories, go sailing, go boondocking, share moments.  This past weekend was a re-entering into that friendship that seemed to be put on hold when we left Vermont for North Carolina to find work and be near children.  As we walked down the beach …step, slide, step, slide…our footprints left dents soon filled in by water and sand…we passed there, but only moments later you could not tell it.  In many ways I feel that way about life.  I am so grateful that I am on this side of the inner turmoil of even a year or two ago…but there are still many questions.  Life is so friend-less now.  We have people here who love us and enjoy time with us…but we have no one who seeks to be with us like Brett and Amy did.  In many of our new homes I would pray for friendship….should you have to do that?  Shouldn’t people want to be your friend?  Life is lonely on this side …

At work I watch as other ladies go to lunch together…or go shopping or antiquing…I’ve always been on this side of it…watching.  I always thought it was me.  There must be something wrong with me.  I’ve been to counseling this year…I’m learning that it’s not me.  I am a good person.  I love people.  I am pleasant and good company.  But I think sometimes people don’t know what to do with me.  I don’t crab a lot (just to Allen…poor man) so when they crab to me I am silent.  Not because I don’t expect them to crab…but because rarely does crabbing help and I often don’t know what to say.  I’m not a good empathizer, I think.  I need to say, “I’m sorry you are having a rough day.  I understand.  I’m here for you.”  But I don’t.  So maybe my silence is misconstrued as judgment…maybe I come off as too good to be true.

My friend crabbed to me this weekend and ended with “Okay, I’m done venting.”  I did tell her it was okay to vent to me.  Sometimes we just need to vent.  Often I don’t feel I have anyone to vent to…except Allen…again poor man.  I wonder sometimes if he thinks I don’t like any of life.  I do.  I loved loved loved this weekend.  I should have been rich.  We talked about that.  What happened?  (smile)  I love being busy at work when no one else is around.  I love doing a good job in my work even though I could care less if another cleanroom wiper were manufactured or sold when all is said and done for the day.

I love my garden.  I love my roses and flowers.  I love my children and grandchildren.  I love love my church at The Summit.  I love counseling.  I love Jesus…my Savior, my God, my best friend Who loves me in spite of me and because of Who He is.

So see, soul….we have a lot to be thankful for.  Don’t be in turmoil.  Even if your footprints on this earth never amount to much…Jesus’ footprints did and have meant everything in your life.  Friends like Brett and Amy have meant the world to you.  Your children and grandchildren continue to speak to you even though you desire for more of them.  You have had some wonderful times with each of them…they have given in to your growth and abundance over the years…the tender times…the hoopla times of rowdy abandon…the quiet times…the dancing in the kitchen times.  Even if you never have another time like those…you have had a lifetime of memories with each one to fill you in the dark recesses of you and get you through those nights of no sleep and restlessness.

Yes, that’s it…it is a restlessness of my soul tonight.  There must be more.  There must be friendships out there like we had this weekend…somewhere….someone to speak life into us…someone to speak life into.

Be still my soul and trust in God.The Lord is on our side.  He will prevail.  He will not let you be consumed with this life…but will fill you and give you purpose and strengthen and give you peace.

The Mother-In-Law

mother_with_child_by_evels_selena-d3am2we

All my life I’ve heard horror stories of mothers-in-law.  Controlling…butting in…you know the jokes…the comments.  I prayed I would be a good mother-in-law all those years ago into my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I’m seeing another side of this phenomenon on this side…the downward slope of the hill of life.

I see a woman who’s unsure of herself and where she stands anymore.  I see someone who has literally poured her life into that son or daughter only to watch someone misuse or not provide or control or expect too much of him or her.  She remembers the hours of loving devotion she has lavished on her little one (who will always be little to her), the long nights up cuddling a fevered brow, rocking an inconsolable soul, holding up a frail little body while they lost their cookies for the umpteenth time into the commode.  She remembers the tickles under the covers every morning, the squeals of laughter, the tears of disappointment she wiped away.  She remembers the hard teen years of helping them navigate life and just make it through…the hours of wondering where he or she was, the worried early morning hours spent wide-eyed praying for their wisdom and purity, their decisions and preservation of their soul.

I don’t think anyone truly understands the mother’s heart…maybe not even other mothers since we are all so different.  That moment when you give your child away is wrenching…it’s other-worldly, cataclysmic, life defining.  It’s usually the father who “gives away” a daughter, but I venture to say it’s really the mother who couldn’t do it…sitting there alone in that pew…wondering if life will be good to her child, wondering if this person standing before them with the son or daughter is actually who they say they are …or if they are someone totally different.  Are you sure who this person is you are opening up yourself and your child to?  Are they truly good willed?  Can you know as you are sitting there in that pew watching the ceremony…the vows to love no matter what, to honor no matter what, to be there in sickness and in health, in the good and the bad?  I don’t think you can.  I look at all mother’s differently now.  I know it’s not vogue to be called a “mother” and yet I think it is the highest calling to create and nurture a life in this life.  And maybe part of that is the “giving away”…the emptiness…the not having a place anymore.  Those sweet little child kisses on your cheek, the strong lithe arms hugging the life out of you when you are young, the high pitched promises to marry you and buy a farm and always live with you, the adoring love in shining eyes, the shared laughter unencumbered by years of uncertainty in where you fit in…those are what she is holding on to.  The mother-in-law.  She’s remembering.  She’s wanting time.  She’s needing reassurance that she matters.  She’s wanting recognition for her part in preparing the child for someone else.  Try to understand she’s now navigating new waters and it may take awhile….or forever…to find her place.

Death of Dreams or Desire to Dream

I heard a man once years ago tell about how death of our dreams was an inevitable time of life.  I remember thinking at the time about all the dreams that had died…that was close to 30 years ago and I have watched so many more dreams die since then.

You would think as life was just starting I would have had so many more dreams that were being made.  I guess I did have some. I loved having six children.  I loved fulfilling my dream of educating them apart from this world’s philosophy (as much as humanly possible).  I loved marrying a man who would be true to me and to our children, working hard even when everything we touched seemed to turn to ashes.  I found some wonderful times in those early years….but I also had to let go of some of my dreams like…

*having my mom around when I had children to encourage me and teach me and love on them

*having my dad as a constant source of protection and security

* having family close so we could take our children and give them a sense of family

* having good health so I could carry out my duties as wife, mother and pastor’s wife with energy, vitality and joy

*Having a thriving ministry where we were loved and made deep connecting friendships

Today?  What did I want so long ago that hasn’t come to pass?  I thought things would be easier by now.  I thought I’d be neck deep in ministry.  I thought we’d have at least a little bit of this world’s goods so we could visit family. I thought I would have opportunities… that have gone to others.  I thought I could be near my own children and their children to encourage and love on them.  I thought my children would enjoy being with me so much that they would seek every opportunity to be with us…this is actually funny…I’m not a very likable person.  I’m not the life of the crowd.  I’m not a doting sweet person who everyone wants to be around because they make you feel like a million bucks.  Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone like that.  But I grew up on The Osmond Family Christmas specials and Bob Hope’s Christmas Special.  When I was growing up, I was a part of a large family and I was the last child of the Grandma and Grampa that everyone wanted to spend Christmas with.  I missed that for my children and thought, “Oh well, when they grow up and we bring everyone home for Christmas, it will be like that.”   It hasn’t worked out that way.  Either the in laws take up all their time or they can’t afford to come…so Christmas and holidays have become very lonely where I remember all the good times when the children were small and gifts plentiful because God provided…not big expensive gifts…but gifts that meant something and we spent hours playing the games or putting together Legos or watching videos and snacking all day long with everyone around us.

I guess in my own way I have lost the desire to dream. What’s the point? This life has nothing to offer that I think it can deliver. We aren’t the Italian family that blows up and just continues to love anyway and goes to Grammy’s house every Sunday because if we didn’t she’d blow her top. I don’t blow my top…I just quietly sit with my hubby wishing the kids would come…and the grandkids….

I think what really spurred this on is we went to visit a family with a lot of teens…all their friends were there to picnic, swim, play carpet ball…and I miss that. I miss those days so much. 😦

So my advice? lol Don’t ask me. I don’t know what it is to have a lot of fulfilled dreams…just ones that died somewhere along the way. But … if you are that young couple with children…enjoy them. You may be that family down the road that gets together all the time…or you may end up like us…alone on the holidays wondering how to make them special…without the babies you rocked and hugged and loved and woke up with all those years…when you were too tired to dream any further.

I don’t want to end this so scarily real and sad. At least I know someday in Heaven we will have all of them with us. They will want to celebrate there…birthdays together like we used to, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving. We’ll have an eternity there.

So when someone says to me, “Maybe they will come back someday.” And my heart says “No…that will never happen” because it is too tired to dream…I will remember that my hope and dreams may only be in the afterlife…but that’s just a few short years away and I can dream of then.