Tag Archives: life

Turtle Like Tendencies

7 Jan

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I get the heart of this message and agree with it, truly this world does not need another voice joining the chorus of negativity, whining, complaining or insult throwing.  Beyond that, I try to be a person that if I am speaking I am hoping it is to add to the equation and not subtract. 

A couple of months of dealing with serious family health struggles left me physically and emotionally tired, dealing with my own feelings of shame for failing at making desired progress in my life, for not being able to do everything well, add in my own physical crisis and all the issues that can make one consider left me in a place that I’d been before, back in my shell.  It’s dark and lonely there and deceptively “safe”.

What happens when life overwhelms and you’re trying to survive and feel a bit like an empty shell hoping that if you keep hanging on, the winds will shift and you’ll be able to sail again?  I can tell you what happens to me.  I don’t want to but I will.  I follow my inclination to become turtle like, I tuck inside my shell.  Radio silence. 

I mean, what is there to say?  What do I have to offer at this juncture?  Nothing you probably want.  So I go with my propensity for solitary confinement.  There’s nothing cute to talk about and I’m out of wise tips and quips so I’m quiet.  No need to meet up for coffee, I’m not good company these days.  I even stop writing so I don’t have to deal with my own internal conversations.  It’s rough when you annoy yourself!

Maybe, I’m the only one that follows this custom, but I kinda doubt it.  It seems there is likely to be a few who will read this and admit at least to themselves that they go with the train of thought that “I’ll get through this on my own”, “No one’s knocking down my door anyway”, “If they really knew what was going on with me, I’d be even more alone”, “I don’t want to be a pain or a drain”….on and on, it’s easy to believe lies when you’ve pushed anyone away who could speak truth.

My shell-like tendencies that I have often struggled with have not served me or others well.  They ensure that I stay in the pain and shame.  They cut me off from life and whisper the same old sad song. 

I want to be the kind of person who can listen to others when it’s not convenient or fun.  I want to be a person who talks with Jesus even when I don’t feel like He is answering because I hold tightly to the truth that He is for me even when my faith is faltering.  I want to be vulnerable enough to say something when it’s not cute or clever.  I want to be humble enough to admit my need and accept help.  I want to be brave enough to speak, even if it makes me feel weak and needy, because truth be told I am.  Truth is we all are. 

I’m peeking out from the shell and don’t want to retreat any longer.  If I cling to my turtle like tendencies I am fighting against the very way God intended me to operate.  He created you and I to share life, to do life together.  Sorry, but I need you and you need me!  I have recently placed some on purpose accountability in my life in different areas.  I have asked people to check in with me and check up on me.  To knock on the shell and drag me out if necessary. 

I pray that anyone reading this who may also struggle with turtle like tendencies will also choose to stick their neck out and invite others to walk this journey with them.  I’ll admit it, it’s a little scary coming out from under that shell but what is scarier is not living the lives we were meant to live because we are too busy hunkered down trying to survive. 

Be encouraged my friend!

Bonus Time

12 Aug

June 27th I was sitting in the hospital with my dad who had been admitted days before, while my sister was taking my mom to the emergency room as she was not feeling right.  What we assumed would be a quick trip turned into a wild & scary ride! Hold onto your seats.

I will never forget entering her room in the critical care unit for the first time and seeing her hooked up to all these wires and monitors with a tube down her throat.  I don’t do hospital’s well to begin with so seeing my mom like this was rough.  I observed from a few feet away at first, I had been told she could likely hear us and know we were there and I wanted to get myself together so I didn’t reveal to her how I was feeling inside at that moment.  It took me a bit to compose myself, I approached the bed, rubbed her hand and said, “Hi Mama”.  That was all I could do before my throat started to constrict and tears came.  In another 10 minutes, I tried again, “Hey Mama, it’s me Denise, I’m here” and I was done again.  A few more deep breaths and I made another approach, “Hey Mama, it’s Denise, you’re in the hospital and they’re taking really good care of you, all of your family has been here, Dad’s feeling better and we all sure love you.”  That was all I could do before my voice starting to give me away again.  I worked my way up to scooting a chair by her bedside, holding her hand and singing some of her favorites to her.  Cherished time with my mom.

The roller coaster ride continued day-to-day, hopes were dashed as the Doctor talked with my sis-n-love and I about the seriousness of mom’s condition and prognosis.  We cried, we prayed, others prayed and we continued to take turns sitting by mom’s side telling her how loved she was.  Mom would start to get a little restless as sedation would wear off and I was so concerned that she would become uncomfortable or frightened.  So, I was getting the nurse when mom opened her pretty blues and made direct eye contact with me.  I gave myself a split second pep talk so I’d appear calm, looked her in the eyes and said “I love you mama” and she mouthed back “I love you”.  It was the best I love you ever!

Getting my mom off the ventilator was not a smooth process, paddles were used on her chest 3x the day her tube was taken out to get her heart beating in rhythm.  How thrilling it was to walk into her hospital room after she was taken off the vent and see her alert and able to talk with us, even if her voice did have a new gravelly sound to it thanks to the whole ordeal.  Sadly, our celebration quickly turned to concern as she was not sustaining acceptable oxygen levels on her own.  Emotional rollercoaster.

The ride takes another twist later that day when the doctor talks with mom about the seriousness of her condition and that if she is not able to sustain proper oxygen levels on her own very soon, they may have to put her back on the ventilator.  If she goes back on the ventilator, there is less than 10% chance she’ll ever come off of it.  Tough news to process.

Doc came back on evening rounds and all 3 of us kiddos were there with mom so we could ask questions and have  a beyond difficult conversation.  The doctor was wonderful, informative, compassionate but it was hard, it stunk and none of us liked what we were being forced to deal with.  After the doc left the 3 of us stood around mom’s hospital bed and we asked mom about her life, if she was content and happy, if she had any questions for us, we reminded her how much we loved her and want her to stay with us and we made some tough decisions together, we tried to be strong and supportive but a few tears escaped anyway.  After all the talk, mom asks the 3 of us, “are you guys ok?”  There was a brief pause and then my brother took the lead with the honest answer and said, “No we’re not ok, this stinks, but we are ok with having you as our mom.”  Sweetness in the midst of pain.

The crazy ride continued, she was eventually released from critical care to another floor and just when we thought she was about to move into a nursing facility to gain some more strength, she was back in critical care with pneumonia.  Mom has been home now for almost three weeks and I’d say we’re still in the midst of a new adventure.  Thankful though for the opportunity.

My brother said in the hospital when things started looking up, “I think we got some bonus time with mom”.  I know many people wish they could have some bonus time with their loved one, so this blessing of more time together is something we want to cherish deeply, even when it’s hard and the ride feels a bit bumpy.

I reflect on the wild ride we’ve been on the past several weeks because today is my beautiful mom’s 65th birthday!  Only a month ago, as I was driving home from the hospital, I was literally crying out to God and begging Him to make a way that she could stay here with us longer.  Thankful that God answered that prayer and the prayers of family near and far, the prayers of church family and friends from all over.  So today, we’ve taken the day off work to celebrate a wonderful woman, whom we are blessed to call “mom” and soak up some of our “bonus time” with her.

Mom, on your birthday and every day, I want you to know and be confident in this, you are deeply LOVED and love NEVER fails!!!

 

 

 

 

Life Is Hard

27 May

I am not sure when or where the false hood started for me? Somewhere along the line, I bought into the idea that life is about being happy. You grow up and achieve, what you want to achieve, whatever that may be for you…Get married, buy a house, have a family, work hard, play hard, love your family, surround yourself with great friends, be good to others and Walaa, happy life! …Then reality hits!

Reality hits when things don’t go according to your plan…it may go something like this…the dreams you had for your life aren’t coming true and hope is dwindling daily…your loved one passes away and your heart will never be the same…Your job is draining the life out of you and you feel stuck…Sickness attacks your loved one and you feel powerless to make it better…Your relationship is on the rocks and you don’t know if you can muster the strength to fight for it…However, it may look or feel for you…the bottom line is reality really can bite!

I’ve been pondering some pretty sobering questions lately that challenge the way I have thought, the way I prioritize my time here on earth.  What if life isn’t about being happy?  What if the tough times, the hurt and the pain exist on purpose?  What if life is just plain hard and I need to find a way to enjoy the journey anyway?

I feel like the older I get the less I know…things are grayer for me than they once were.  However, this I do know…Life is indeed hard but God is Soooo Good!  I’m clinging to this truth tighter than I ever have before…holding to this truth when my feelings may be screaming something entirely the opposite!  To find peace, contentment and joy in the midst of all the storms of this life is the goal…How do I get there?  Well, I’m still figuring that out, but I take comfort in the fact that, this life is not the end for me, I am just passing through…that I can enjoy the sweet times of life and cherish them and I can also stand through the storms, for however long they may rage because I serve a God who has overcome the world.

God has created my life and your life for a purpose and it involves much more than our own personal happiness in the here and now.  His purposes are eternal and this girl can suffer from short sightedness.  I have a feeling the quicker I can embrace this concept, the “happier” I will be.  Wishing you joy on your journey!

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” – John 16:33 The Message

Stay In Your Own Lane

18 Mar

Stay In Your Own Lane and I’m not talking about driving skills here, although the sentiment obviously applies there as well.  As I was driving today (in my own lane, I’ll have you know :-))  I was reminding myself that I need to do a better job of staying in my own lane in life.

I can have a tendency to drift into another person’s lane and I do it by comparing my life with someone else’s.  What a mistake that is!!  Do you ever fall into this same trap?

It may sound something like this…”I wish I was skinny like her”, “I wish I could sing like that”, “I wish I could afford that”, “I wish my family was like theirs” and on and on we go, I wish, I wish, I wish.

Why do us humans tend to want what we don’t have?  If we have curly hair, we want straight hair, If we have straight hair we want it curly.  If we’re single, we want to be married, If we’re married we want to be single…the grass is always greener or so we think.

Each of us in life are called to travel a different road, paved with a unique set of joys and sorrows and when we swerve into another person’s lane, it’s the road to nowhere, at least no where good.  Focus on what we don’t have, what we wish we had, it’s a confidence killer, it creates an attitude of discontentment and leads to low self-esteem, jealousy and endless other types of ailments.

I need to focus more on the road laid out before me.  Given, where I’m at today, am I making the most of it?  Am I taking steps to change and move in the right direction, Am I giving thanks daily for all the goodness in my life?  This is where my focus should be until I arrive Home one day.

“Comparison is the thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

I’m Rich!!

24 Nov

I guess you would have to buy a lotto ticket to win millions. I’ve never bought one, but I’ve had some fun thinking about what I would do with my winnings! It’s amazing how we can always come up with something that we “need” 🙂

Truth be told as a middle class American I am richer than 99% of the planet’s population and yet at times, I am not content with what I have, I am thinking of the new furniture I’d like to have or that handbag that is calling my name.  It is so easy for me to get consumed with “stuff” and it’s so stupid, cause you and I both know, “stuff” doesn’t matter, it doesn’t last, it doesn’t even bring true happiness, in most cases “stuff” just leaves you wanting some more “stuff”!

When I pause, to consider what is really valuable in this life, it’s not my “stuff” as great as it may be, it is people and it’s relationship.  It is time spent with them, it is laughter and tears shared together, it’s an honest conversation and an encouraging word.  It is the little moments that are the most big.  It is hugs and talks.

In this journey of life God has provided for me tremendous people who enrich my life and bless me in countless ways, people who love me, despite the fact that I’m so flawed,  people who support me, tell me the truth, challenge me and believe in me.  As I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I am amazed as I think of those that God has put in my life over the years that have surrounded me with love, support and encouragement and as I see their faces in my mind, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and realize anew, I am one rich girl!!

I pray this Thanksgiving, you take a moment to give thanks to God for all he has blessed you with and more importantly for who he has blessed you with and that you would realize in a deeper way how truly wealthy you are!!  Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

Learning To Count

17 Oct

I remember my dad saying to me multiple times growing up, “no child of mine is going to be an ingrate”! Is that even a word? Either way, I knew exactly what he meant and I knew that he also meant my attitude needed some adjusting and a little thanks and gratitude were in order. I would love to say that I now have this lesson down pat, but I regret to say, I still suffer from a less than pleasing attitude from time to time.

When the circumstances of life are tough and things aren’t going my way, or the right way, or the fair way, the way they should, you can see where this is going, what is the first thing I do?  Give thanks, Ohhhh, how I wish, but usually, I respond with things such as; worrying, complaining, doubting, possibly even throw an all out fit (very adult of me I know).

When these attitudes rear their ugly little heads, I need to learn to exercise my counting skills and begin to list off my many blessings.  As I begin to count…

#1 – God is on my team & loves me with an everlasting love (That’s good news people)!

#2 – I have wonderful family and friends that love and support me.

#3 – I have my health and many are suffering.

#4 – I have a job that allows me to pay my bills and many are unemployed and struggling day to day.

#5 – I have a roof over my head, food in my cupboards & a comfortable bed to sleep in and many are out in the cold with no place to call “home”.

and on and on my list goes….

And all of a sudden, my attitude has been adjusted and proper perspective is restored and I am grateful.  When I count my blessings, it brings peaceful perspective that allows me to weather the storms this life is sure to bring.  Lord, help me be quick to count because no child of your’s should be an “ingrate”.

It’s Not About Me

17 Sep

Well, it may sound highly self absorbed of me and it probably is, but one of my life long lessons has been learning that this life is “not about me”.  Boy, I’d like to say it’s been an easy lesson to learn, but I’d be lying, it’s tough and still can be on a frequent basis (confessions good for the soul, right?).

I can remember as a child when this painful truth just started to become apparent to me.  My birthday is on the 4th of July and every year for MY birthday a big multi-million dollar production of fireworks was set off for my special day, I even saw fireworks on the television, everyone was into celebrating MY special day…imagine my 5 year old horror when I realized the fireworks weren’t necessarily for ME, they had something to do with Independence day and freedom or something like that?!  Or imagine my shock, when I stay home from school because I’m sick and the school actually still opened without MY attendance!  The painful lesson began…

It is highly likely that I am a slow learner regarding this specific life lesson, but I look at myself and at many of those I work with, call friend, see in the news and I don’t think I’m the only one struggling with this fact of life.  Life simply doesn’t go the way we want it sometimes.  We’re not where we thought we would be, doing what we thought we’d be doing, with who we want to be doing it with and what do we do with that?

I have spent way too much of my life either dealing with the past or focusing so much on a desired future that I altogether miss out on the gift of today AND it is a gift my friends.  Today is not something I’m owed because I’m me, my ideal future is not guaranteed because it’s what I want and the growth I think comes when we can learn to embrace today, even with it’s perceived imperfections, even when it’s not where we thought we would be and it doesn’t look like we thought it would.  It’s still a gift!  My prayer is that I would learn to cherish it, to grab hold of it, celebrate it and realize, it’s not all about me and you know what…that’s o.k.!