Saturday, January 19, 2013

Like the Jeffersons, I'm Movin' On Up

This will be my last post on this blog. As much as I appreciate its place in my life, it has served its purpose and now, with a new year, the time has come to move in a new direction.

Even though I didn't write about it here, I spent a good chunk of the last 2+ years in a great deal of pain - grieving the loss of my husband. But by the grace of God I have undergone an ENORMOUS amount of healing, and I can honestly say that I am ready for the next chapter of my life to begin.

That being said, I invite you to follow along on the next leg of my journey as I am purposely "daring to live authentically and love outrageously." (link below) May God bless you abundantly beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rise and Shake Off the Dust

(My note: I know the helpfulness factor here will depend on where you're at in your journey, but when I read it I found it to be quite helpful. Even though it was written to women, if you look past the ‘girlie’ references, this is just as applicable to men.)

                                                             ~            ~            ~

(from Prayer Guide for the Brokenhearted by Michelle McKinney Hammond, pp. 120-122)

“Shake off the dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.” (Isaiah 52:2)

The story is told of a mule that fell down an abandoned well. The hole was too deep to retrieve the unfortunate animal so, in an effort to put it out of its misery quickly, the farmer called all of his friends together to help him bury the mule.

As the men gathered together and began pitching dirt into the hole, the mule panicked and shook it off, then stepped up on the freshly fallen mound in an effort to free its feet. With each shovel full this process was repeated, until –lo and behold!-the mule was out of the hole and standing on solid ground!

The moral of the story? Shake it off and step up, sister! Don’t allow yourself to be buried in your pain. Shake it off. Relax, relate, and release. It can’t stick to you unless you allow it to stay. The hole might feel deep, but God will make a way out. Take it one step at a time. You will need to cooperate with the process, of course. When He extends His hands to you, grab His arm, step up into those strong hands, and allow Him to lift you to a higher place.

After you have shaken off the dust, don’t forget to bathe in His rivers of refreshing and finish your toilette with His special brand of perfume. Essence of Joy. Yes, it is true, it is a costly fragrance. Costly because it comes from specially selected petals that have been crushed to extract the oil. You have been crushed. Don’t waste a drop of what you’ve bled. Make it an expensive tribute to what you’ve endured, and let others enjoy your scent.

Though your heart has been crushed by a natural lover, you are still betrothed to a King. Rise up and take your place. Hold your head high. Stand erect and know that you are loved and desired. Free yourself! Break the chains of defeat, resignation, self-hatred, and failure from your neck.

This day you can choose for yourself blessings over curses, life over death, joy over sorrow, victory over defeat, freedom over bondage, love over rejection. Use all that you have learned. Promise yourself never to return again to the place where your garments were soiled. Place your heart in your Father’s safe-keeping, and allow him to guard your affections from this day forward.

Dear Heavenly Father, though I have felt covered by the soot of my experience, wash me and refresh me. I know that some action is required by me in order to attain freedom from my pain. Strengthen my arms to hold on to you. Strengthen my legs to come up higher. Draw me close to you.

I choose now to cast off the debris that threatened to smother my spirit. I cast down the power of rejection, abuse, hurt, anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness from my life. I declare that they will no longer reign over me. I will to lift my head above my enemies and live in triumph. I decree that no weapon the enemy has formed against me shall prosper. No longer will I be held captive by the lies of the enemy. I will embrace your truth, Lord, and cleanse myself in it. I will drink long and deep from your Spirit.

Even now I feel rivers of Living Water welling up inside of me. Spring up, O well, and cleanse my soul. Spring up, O well, and make me whole. Yes, I declare this day that I am free from all that binds me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

~             ~             ~

I would add to this, questions to ask yourself:

·         --What lies of the enemy have been holding you captive? (e.g. Have you been plagued by thoughts that you’re a worthless failure? That you’ll never amount to anything? Etc.) God didn’t plant those thoughts!
             --So what does God’s Word (His truth) say about you?

(You can find a couple of lists to get you started here and here.)

*note – if you’re not already very familiar with these passages of scripture, you may want to change the version of the bible to “New Living Translation” or “New International Version 1984” when you click the verse links on Joyce Meyer’s page. (the bible versions are listed in alphabetical order) She uses the Amplified version, and while I enjoy using that myself when doing in depth bible studies, even after reading the bible for 24 years I tend to use it alongside another version for clarity.

Ringing In Change

I wear a Claddagh ring. I’d always wanted one and Frank gave me one for Mother’s Day, 2010. I love it - it represents my Irish heritage and it symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship.

It can be worn two ways, and has different meanings depending on the way you wear it. If you wear it with the point of the heart facing inward, toward your heart, it means that your heart is taken or spoken for. If you wear it with the point of the heart facing outward, away from your heart, it symbolizes friendship. When he gave it to me (naturally) I put it on with the point of the heart facing inward.

Several times over the course of the first year+ after I moved out of our house into my own apartment I tried to turn it around, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to lie to myself or anyone else. We may not have been together anymore, but my heart was still his. However, over the last few months I can honestly say that my feelings have been changing. Because of all the healing going on inside, as well as a couple of “aha!” moments, I finally felt like it was time to turn the ring around a couple of weeks ago. But as I did, it STILL didn’t feel right. At first I was baffled, but then the reason it didn’t feel right dawned on me. It’s because my heart IS spoken for - by Jesus.

He is my everything.

(I still turned it around though with the point of the heart facing outward. Until I meet someone that makes me want to turn it around again that is...)

(I highly recommend the 3 minute, 54 second video on this page – Kyle puts things so much better than I can.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I’m feeling a bit depressed today - kind of a delayed reaction. This has been a week for goodbyes, it seems.

After just over 14 months, I was expecting to say goodbye to my Divorce Care (support) group next Tuesday night, but I was there early this week to get set up for dinner and took a few minutes to go into the sanctuary to pray. (I love going in there by myself - it’s the most peaceful place…) Anyway, I heard God tell me, “it’s time – tonight.” I felt Him impress on me that whatever future plans were made for the group, I wasn’t to be part of them. I admit I was a little surprised, but was also at peace with it. I trust Him and know that somehow it’s all going to work out to be in my best interest. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Judy, our group leader, has referred to Divorce Care as “the emergency room.”  I know my healing isn’t 100% complete yet, but I’ve definitely healed to the point where I don’t belong in the emergency room anymore. For a long time I thought I’d just stay indefinitely to be another source of support for others in the group, but it seems as though God has other plans for me (He hasn’t clued me in on what they are yet though).

Anyway, sitting there listening to Judy talk about what was coming up I really wanted to put it off.  “What could another week or two hurt?” But I know better than to disobey God. He has a reason for everything He asks of us, so it all boils down to trust. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 – I know I quote this a lot, but it’s one of my favorite verses). So it’s a definite no-brainer for me. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “It’s my way or the highway.” Well changing that to, “It’s God’s way all the way,” would be more in line with the way I think.

Bruce, our former co-leader, used to say that our group isn’t a club that anyone would want to join, but if we had to go through something like this, we were glad we could go through it together. (Then I started saying it!) They have become like family to me. I don’t think I can adequately express how much they’ve helped me and how much I’m going to miss seeing them every Tuesday night. While I know that God has great things in store for me and I can’t start a new chapter without closing the current one, the group has been such a HUGE part of my life for the past 14 months that not seeing these people every week is going to be a BIG adjustment. Even though I know I'll definitely see some of them again, I feel like I’m grieving a little bit – I miss everyone already.

Then yesterday my family said goodbye to the wonderful man my Aunt Janet has been happily married to for the past twelve years. His death late Sunday night was unexpected.

Honest to God, their relationship was straight out of a fairy tale. In the 44 years I’ve known her, I cannot ever remember seeing my aunt as happy as she was for the last dozen – I seriously doubt her feet hit the ground once. They absolutely adored each other and it’s not an exaggeration to say that they both positively glowed with happiness for their entire marriage.

David was one of those people who, when you were talking with him, would make you feel special just by virtue of the thoughtful way he listened to you. I wish I’d taken the opportunity to tell him that.

Every time my aunt or my cousin, Dawn, would glance over at the casket, realizing anew each time that they have to live the rest of their lives without him, they’d start crying again. Losing a family member is always sad, but my heart is absolutely aching for them, my cousin Brian, and for David’s son, Jonathan. I just want to do something to take away their pain, but there's nothing I can do except love them, pray for them, and just be here if they need me. 


So yeah… definitely feeling depressed today (I’m the queen of delayed reactions). After dinner I think I’ll just go read and pray myself to sleep. Then I only have one more day to work and I don’t have to go back till the 22nd. I still love, love, love my job, but I am in desperate need of some quality “me time.” I just find it interesting that the week I chose to take off falls at a time of change. Coincidence? I’d say yes if I believed in coincidences. Personally I think it was more of a God-cidence.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Dumping the Baggage

Emotional baggage - we all carry it, and some of us carry significantly more than others. I’m learning that the baggage isn’t just about the negative events or circumstances that happened to us in our pasts, but it’s also about how the things that happened affected us, how we reacted to them, and how our beliefs and feelings about ourselves were shaped as a result.

God has begun healing me of emotional baggage I’ve been carrying with me since I was a child. 

Two weeks ago, sitting outside on a bench near the playground after church with a sister in Christ who lead me through a short time of focused prayer, God healed me of the pain of a lifetime of rejection and all the (extreme) people pleasing tendencies that go along with it (out of a fear of being rejected further). 

It was an overcast day, yet sitting there praying with my eyes closed, as I opened myself up to the Lord and felt Him wash right through me like a gentle wave, touching, healing, and completely dissolving the rejection that has plagued me for as long as I can remember, I distinctly saw the round, gold-to-orange glow of the sun through my closed eyelids as it pushed its way out through the clouds and I felt the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin. I thought, “Yay! The sun's out!” Then I opened my eyes to see the same grey, overcast sky overhead. The sun had come out just for me. ("This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." John 1:5)

For someone who has experienced one rejection after another after another throughout my 44 years, I can’t even begin to tell you how unbelievably special it made me feel that God would do that just for me as a sign of His acceptance. ("You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last." John 15:16) 

Not only does He accept me (and not reject me), but He actually chose me! 

Then late this afternoon, battling a Fibromyalgia flare-up, I finally gave in to my exhaustion and lay down to take a nap. I’ve been praying a lot lately about my life in general, asking God to show me things inside that need to be dealt with and to change me where I need to be changed – especially in light of unhealthy attitudes and behaviors that contributed to my part of the alienation of my husband's feelings toward me. As I woke up, I heard these words, “I love you with an everlasting love.” Without even needing to ask Him what He meant, He showed me that due to various events in my life starting when I was very young, and how I reacted to and processed those events, I had come to the conclusion deep down inside that I was unlovable. So my attitude and behavior throughout my life reflected that belief, ultimately driving away some of the very people I wanted to remain close to - especially my husband. And once that realization hit me, God spoke to my heart again. “You are NOT unlovable. That is a lie. I love you with an everlasting love.

I know that God isn't finished with me, however in the last two weeks God has healed me, I believe, of two of the most painful areas in my life and I have been able to dump a couple of the heaviest pieces of baggage I was carrying as a result. I am stronger and healthier, both spiritually and emotionally, right now than I have ever been in my life. My heart is positively overflowing with gratitude. God is so amazing! 

It really kind of blows my mind to think about - the Creator of the universe, Maker of heaven and Earth, Omnipotent, Sovereign, and Almighty God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords loves me with an everlasting love.



I am not unlovable.

I am, in fact, deeply loved. ("For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39)

And I know that not only am I loved, I am worthy of being loved. Nothing I have done makes me worthy of this though. (“There is no one righteous, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3: 10, 23

I am worthy because I am His. (“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22)

Thank you, Jesus.

I love you too.

Friday, August 03, 2012

*When God closes a door, look for a window.

*That's actually a song by Dallas Holm. (Well the title is really "Look for a Window." You'll have to pardon the Miami Vice wardrobes - it was recorded in the 80's. But the song is still awesome.) I included the lyrics at the bottom of my post.

I know I haven't posted for several months, but honestly I've either been too busy, too tired, or too sad to be able to focus on my blog. I've been keeping a paper journal for most of the time though. Having a record of my spiritual/emotional growth is important to me. I've turned a few big-ish emotional corners recently though so I finally decided that I'm ready to pick this up again because it will give family and friends I don't see or talk to all that often a way to check in on me to see how I'm doing, and I so can (figuratively) shout from the cyberspace rooftops about all the exciting ways God is working in my life.

While the saying, "when God closes a door, He opens a window" isn't biblical in and of itself, after 24 years as a believer, I have seen it proven true in the lives of those who earnestly seek Him over and over - and now I'm seeing it manifested in my own life as well. From everything I can tell from my own experience, the experiences of others, as well as what I've read in the bible, when we pray for something, it seems that God answers in one of three ways: "yes", "no", or "wait." And while the "yes" answer  doesn't really call for any elaboration, I think the "no", and "wait" answers could stand a bit more detail.

You see, the way I figure it, the thing I had to decide up front is whether or not I trust Him. In everything. Every. Thing. Because if I do trust Him, I mean REALLY trust Him, then when He says "no" to something I really want (or "wait" - which could mean waiting for days, weeks, months or even many years for an answer), whether it's a pair of concert tickets, a car, a house, a particular job, physical healing for me or someone else - or in this case restoration of my marriage - even though my feelings may range anywhere from disappointment to honest-to-goodness grief if I don't get the answer I hope and pray for, I have decided that although I may not understand the 'why' of it right now (or ever), I'm going to continue to love, trust, and serve Him with all of my heart regardless. In my opinion, that's part of the whole "faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see" thing. (Hebrews 11:1) Because as a believer one thing I know I should always be sure of is that "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) 

I know people who have encouraged others going through dark times, "hang in there! God's got your back!" and the people going through the trials have grumbled back, "well that's easy for you to say, you're not homeless/jobless/fighting cancer/in the process of a divorce..." etc. If you're going through a trial of any kind, let me encourage you as one who did NOT get what I prayed (begged!) God for. My divorce went through in May and my husband and I are now living separate lives. A year ago I wanted (very badly) to die. I would cry myself to sleep most nights begging God to please, please, please just take me Home to be with him. I honestly did not want to be here anymore.

A scant year later, I am a different person. Not only do I want very much to live, I want to live for Him - to bring Him glory. I want to live so He can use me to love others that are hurting. I want to live so He can  use me to show the world that God does exist and that He loves us all very much. In completely surrendering every facet of my life to Him, I have found freedom: freedom from worry - "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27); freedom from anxiety - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6); and freedom from fear - "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:18-19)

Not only am I free from some of the more destructive things that used to plague me, but I have found peace - "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians. 4:7); contentment - "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13); and love - "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 4: 1-8) I am free of the need to worry, be anxious, and give in to fear because I lean on and trust God. In return I have been blessed with His peace, contentment, and overwhelming love. 

I am happy. More than that, I am filled with JOY. Given that 19 months ago I was certain I'd never be happy again, that is nothing short of miraculous to me. For the first time in my life, my happiness doesn't depend on my marital status, how many friends I have, whether or not anyone is upset with me or approves of me, or any other circumstance in my life. I made a choice to be happy simply because I am His.

I made a sign for my bedroom door. It says, "I am a princess. My Father is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords." After months of reading that reminder every day, it has finally sunken in. I didn't feel great about myself at the time anyway, but when my husband chose to end our marriage it shattered what little remained of my self-worth - I didn't feel like I was worth the dirt an earthworm crawls through. But as I said in an earlier post, my Daddy God has shown me that I am worth dying for. God has taken those shattered pieces of me and he is making an exquisitely beautiful mosaic. I am His princess. 

Circling back around to the topic I introduced at the beginning, when God closes a door in the life of a believer, He opens a window. I believe this with all of my heart. I am the oldest of three kids. One thing I always wanted since I was a kid was to have a big brother. (One would have sufficed, but more than one would have been even better. Growing up with an abusive step-father I dreamed about having someone to look out for me and protect me if necessary.) Frank is part of a large Italian family, and Italian families are generally very close-knit. And when you marry into one, for better or worse, you're part of the family too. So between Frank's three brothers and quite a few cousins (who were very much like brothers to him because they were all raised together in an "it takes a village" sort of way), I had a whole bunch of 'brothers' to look out for me. I knew if I ever needed them, they'd be there. It was a wonderful feeling.

But when I lost my husband, I also lost his family. No one is mad at me or anything like that. To the best of my knowledge I am still on good terms with everyone. I've even gotten together with a brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and a few nieces and nephews in the last several months. But it's not the same.  Even though Frank hasn't badmouthed me to them at all, they are his family after all. While I know most of them would be genuinely glad to see me, the relationships are different now. They're no longer my family to call on. 

I was thinking about this a few days ago and I realized something. Little by little God has been filling those voids in my life. I do have brothers who care about me - at church, in my Divorce Care group, even at work... But they don't care about me because of who I'm married to, they care about me for me. I have brothers who would and do look out for me. I know brothers at church and at Divorce Care pray for me. When I needed someone to put my AC in my kitchen window in June I called my church office. Debby, the receptionist, called me back a few minutes later and told me one of our elders offered to come by when I got home from work to put it in for me. Dave did and I am so grateful! I needed a trustworthy place to bring my car for some things (oil changes, etc) where I could trust they wouldn't purposely damage my car so I'd have to bring it back for expensive repairs, and a few of the guys at work recommended a place down the street. I need a dentist who cares about his patients and won't leave me drowning in debt, and one of my brothers at work recommended the dentist he & his whole family go to. (Interestingly enough he gave me the information just today, and when I got home tonight I was suddenly very aware of a need to call the dentist - like, tomorrow. Hmmm... Was it a coincidence he gave me the information just when I needed it? Um, I don't think so!) And when I need some big-brotherly advice/wisdom, I now have more than one I can turn to about a plethora of things.

So bottom line - God has been hard at work in me over the last year+. He's removed negative things and replaced them with positive things. He's filled a void in my life that He didn't need to fill, but He did and now it's just one more thing I can point to and say, "see how my Daddy God loves and takes care of me?"

And you know what? He loves you just the same. Don't believe me? Ask Him to show you. If you're genuinely open, you'll see the evidence that He's really there and He loves you. His answer may not come in the way you expect, but if your desire is genuine, He WILL answer.

And now if you'll excuse me, Someone's at the window. :^)

"Look For a Window" by Dallas Holm

Hot on the trail of God's will
And getting warmer still
Got it together this time around
There's nothing to stop you now

Stopped by the slam of a door
God, what'd You do that for?
Sometimes we just don't understand
How He wants to let us in

When God closes a door
Look for a window
Oh look for a window
Don't stand at the door
There might be a window
Oh look for a window
When your pathway comes to an end
It's time to begin to
Find a new road
Look for a window

Responsibilities change
And so do our pathways
One way God shows which way to go
Is to let the old road close

Repeat Chorus

There's no point 
In getting down on yourself
God is only pointing you somewhere else

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Three Most Beautiful Words at Christmas-time...

"No assembly required"

I have a wonderful son. He knew his mom needed a new desk chair, so that's what he got me for Christmas.

He was already here, in my apartment, waiting for us when my mother and I arrived after church on Christmas Eve. I was so happy to see him you have no idea. He only lives about 45 minutes-ish away, but I don't see him anywhere near as often as I would like. He's grown into such an interesting person - I really enjoy spending time with him. But I digress.

I turned off the crockpot that had the roast cooking in it and put the cheesy-mashed potatoes I'd made that morning in the microwave to reheat. Then we sat down to exchange gifts. I couldn't help but notice the box (somewhat bigger than the size of a large window fan) on the floor near where he was sitting, covered by the blanket I usually keep on the couch. He said that it was for me, so I got up and pulled the blanket off the box. It was the new desk chair I wanted, albeit unassembled. It's actually a lot more comfortable than the one I had on my amazon wish list. Oops. I digress again.

So after I hugged him & kissed him, thanking him for his thoughtful gift, I said (only half joking), "you're going to put it together for me before you leave, right?"

He grinned his mischievous, little-boy-melts-your-heart-grin and said, "nah, you can do it!"

Getting into the spirit of things I raised my arm a-la Rosie the Riveter and said, "yeah! I can do it! I am woman, hear me roar!" (sometimes even I can't believe the things that come out of my mouth) I figured that it came with instructions, and if I got stuck somewhere I could always call my friend, Debbie, who lives upstairs, to help me get unstuck. No problem. (ha!)

Fast forward five days to yesterday. I finally got around to opening the box to put the chair together. At this point though, my bravado had pretty much vanished, and all I could think about was the lamp I tried to rewire a few months ago with what looked like a fairly simple kit I bought at Walmart that came with easy, detailed instructions (including pictures!) and I still couldn't do it. (Hi. My name is Lauren and I'm chronically instructions-challenged.) I only got about half of it done and Debbie had to come to my rescue, God bless her. (oh, and the half I did, I did wrong)

Still, I figured I had to try, so I opened the box and started pulling parts out. As I laid pieces on the floor I could feel my eyes bugging out of my head. "I'm supposed to put this together? Yeah. Right." Now to someone who knows what they're doing I'm sure putting something like that together isn't a big deal at all. But to me, it could have been the engine of a car spread out on my floor for all the sense it made to me. I know that dealing with a Fibromyalgia flare-up greatly contributed to my feeling so overwhelmed, but I'm still not proud of what I did next.

I texted Frank.

Having talked to him a couple of days ago (we got an offer on our house, which I have mixed emotions about) I had told him what Kevin got me for Christmas, so he already knew I was going to attempt to put it together. And when I expressed my dismay upon opening the box, he offered to stop by and put it together for me. I'm not going to lie and say that I accepted his offer just because I really wanted to be able to use my new chair today. (sure, I did, but we all know that's not the only reason) Yes, seeing him hurts (although I’ve been surprised to discover that it hurts a little less now than it used to), but I still want/feel the need to see him. I know I probably shouldn't have texted him at all, or I should have thanked him and said I'll ask Debbie to help me try to figure it out this weekend, but hey, I'm human. And when I'm exhausted and feeling needy and vulnerable because Fibro is kicking my butt, I have more weak moments than usual. Although I'm finally starting to get into the groove of my new life (and actually enjoy it sometimes), I still miss him terribly. He's been my best friend for almost 20 years, you know?

So anyway, Frank came over after he got out of work and had the chair put together in about 15 minutes. It is SO comfortable! It feels much better than the old, broken one I'd been using. (thank you, Kevin!) I'm very grateful that Frank's not like those guys that suddenly grow huge chips on their shoulders and treat their soon-to-be former wives like crap simply because they don't want to be married to them anymore. He's been very kind and has made it clear that he still wants to be my friend when I'm ready for that, and he's made himself available to me if I ever need him.

Still, as appreciative as I am, I don't like needing to be 'rescued' in this way. I'd like to be able to handle something like this on my own next time. So that means I am in need of 'how to read and follow instructions' lessons. Volunteers? Anyone? Anyone? (Bueller? Bueller?)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Start Spreading the News

I am leaving today

Well I survived my first Christmas without Frank. I had braced myself for a weekend filled with grief and untold agony, and while I did shed some tears on Christmas morning, overall God blessed me with a weekend filled with love and laughter. To that end, if I’ve neglected to mention lately that I have the best family and friends on the planet - please allow me to correct that oversight right now. I have the best family and friends on the planet! (The best, Jerry! The best!)

I want to be a part of it
New York, New York

On Christmas Eve during the day I saw some friends for a bit then spent a few hours with a couple of my aunts and uncles, a few of my cousins, and some extended family members (lots of fun!). Later, I met my mom at church for Christmas Eve service and after that we went back to my place where we had dinner with my son, Kevin, opened some presents, and after Kevin left my mom and I watched our favorite Christmas movie. ("Christmas in Connecticut" - the Barbara Stanwyck version) I went to bed with a smile on my face. After the 11:00 a.m. service ended on Christmas day, I called my friend Eileen from the car. I had a gift for her and her husband, Steve, and I wanted to drop it off but they had a house full of Eileen’s family from New York for the weekend, as well as Steve’s mom, so I wanted to be sure everyone was up before I rang the doorbell. She told me everyone was up, so I headed on over.

These vagabond shoes
They are longing to stray

First, I want to be very clear about this: I honestly did not intend to stay. (I left my purse in the car for pete’s sake!) I wasn’t even going to go inside the house, but Eileen held the door open and told me to just come in and say hi to everyone. Well, ok. I guess I can come in and say hi. I said hello to both moms and Eileen’s brother, Jimmy, and sister-in-law, Cleo, in the living room, and we found Eileen’s brother, Michael, in the kitchen with Steve, where he was getting dinner ready to go in the oven.

Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

Steve and Eileen opened their gift and tried to entice me into staying with a slice of one of Michael’s pies. (they invited me to stay a couple of times after I came in, but I politely declined because I was feeling emotional and just wanted to go home to be alone and cry)  However I quickly caved on the pie and ate a small piece standing in the kitchen with my coat on. I still did not intend to stay. Now as to what happened next, I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details. I’m thinking that when the chocolate pecan pie hit my system (yes, c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e p-e-c-a-n p-i-e!!!), I enjoyed it so much that it created an endorphin rush which slammed headlong into the sugar high, which in turn caused a chain chemical reaction that made it impossible for me to say ‘no’ when they asked me again to stay. I do remember making Steve promise that if I took my coat off, he’d let me help in the kitchen. When I took my coat off Eileen whisked it away, so I rolled my sleeves up and asked him what I could do, and Steve said, “Um, well nothing really.”

I want to wake up in that city
That doesn’t sleep

Mmm hmm. In other words, Michael’s pies are dangerous. They should all have warning labels on them. “Caution – eating this pie may result in temporarily taking leave of your senses”. Oh, and watch out for Steve. He's tricky. Very, very tricky. To redeem him a bit though, I was eventually able to help a little. Several hours later (they held me hostage for over 10 hours!) I had the opportunity to help clean up after the big, formal, sit-down dinner that evening. That made me feel marginally better. That and playing "Pictionary Man". What a riot! (Eileen, Jimmy, Cleo and Alisha were all pretty good at it, but I think Matt and Lance emerged as the Pictionary Man kings of the day)

And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

You know, I discovered something very interesting this Christmas. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “you learn something new every day.” Right? Well I learned TWO new things. I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s common knowledge that New Yorkers in general are supremely arrogant when it comes to two things in particular.Their bagels and their pizza. Having been close friends with Steve & Eileen for almost two decades, I have to say I always thought their insistence that they haven’t found any really GOOD bagels or pizza here in Massachusetts in the entire time they’ve been living here (over 15 years!) to be rather silly. I truly thought it was all in their heads.

My little town blues
They are melting away

So when I was offered an authentic, made-in-a-New-York-bakery bagel, I jumped at the chance to try one. Well… let me tell you something. IT’S NOT IN THEIR HEADS. Oh. My. God. They have officially ruined all other bagels for me. (Thanks a lot, guys!) On the plus side though, I will now be able to go to my grave finally knowing exactly what a bagel is supposed to taste like. (So, thanks, guys!)

I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York

I didn’t actually try the pizza until the next day, however. Eileen sent a piece home with me and I had it for lunch. I warmed it through in the toaster oven – not the microwave. (I remember asking if I could reheat it in the microwave and four of them said very quickly, at the same time, “No! Use the oven!”) New Yorkers are so funny.

If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere

I'm sure you've already guessed that my reaction to the slice of authentic New York Sicilian pizza was the same as my reaction to the bagel. I’m mad at them now. I've always loved pizza and they’ve ruined it for me! Not that I’ll never eat it again or anything, but it just won’t be the same. When I spoke to Eileen the day after Christmas to report on how I liked (loved! drooled over!) the pizza, her next words struck terror into my heart. “Do you like falafel? Because we can ruin falafel for you too.” Good God!

It’s up to you
New York, New York

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A clarification to something in my last post (otherwise entitled, "Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run")

I wanted to clarify something I wrote in my last post. This is prompted by a couple of concerned comments/questions in a couple of e-mails I received tonight.

When I wrote: "Now I’m not letting him off the hook here," etc. I wasn't saying that I'm not letting go of Frank. I HAVE let him go. That is why this is all so excruciatingly painful. If I were delusional, harboring hope that we will somehow get back together, I wouldn't be in nearly as much pain. (Um, is it too late to go that route?)

I love Frank very much and a part of me always will. But for my own sanity, for my own peace of mind, I've had to let him go and look to my future. When I said that I'm not letting him off the hook I was talking about his being responsible for the divorce. I am guilty of many things: among them being pigheaded (Who? ME? No way!), having the wrong attitude sometimes, and not having been the helpmate I should have been - but he is the one who made the choice to end our marriage. That's what I meant - I wasn't saying that I'm not letting go of him. So please don't worry about me, ok? I'm not delusional. In fact I think I'm seeing things more clearly now than I ever have.

Ok. That's it for the 'heavy' stuff for tonight. I'll try to lighten things up a bit for next time. :)


You've Got to Know When to Hold 'em, Know When to fold 'em...

“Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.” Unknown
Frank told me he wanted a divorce one year ago today. Looking back to last year, I really and truly did not think I would survive this. I thought my life was over. The love of my life just flat out didn’t/ doesn’t want me anymore. I’m not… enough. I can’t think of too many things more damaging to one’s self-esteem than that.
But you know something? Since I cut off communication with him a couple of months ago (I had to – we get along great but it was just too painful), I’ve discovered something about myself. I LIKE ME. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have my faults just like everyone else, but that’s the point I was missing for so long. I have faults just like everyone else -- not worse than everyone else. I may have had a problem with my temper once-upon-a-time, but God healed me of that several years ago. The sad thing about that is for the last several years I allowed myself to be so consumed by guilt I completely lost who I was. God had forgiven me, Frank said he forgave me, but I couldn’t forgive me. Most of the time I put my own wants, needs, and desires aside in favor of Frank’s. He never asked that of me or acted like he expected it, I just felt I owed it to him to make his life as easy as I could after causing so much turmoil in our home for so long. So I had myself paying some kind of weird penance to make up for all the years I was a raving lunatic, and as a result I grew more and more depressed (although, hindsight being 20/20, I know neglecting my relationship with God played a major part in the growing depression as well).
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.” Unknown
So although it wasn’t intentional, I was being dishonest – Frank didn’t really know who I was.  Heck, I didn’t even know who I was. Now I’m not letting him off the hook here, when God said, “a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Co. 7: 11) He didn’t say anything about a special dispensation for husbands who feel like they made a mistake and aren’t in love with their wives. On the contrary, God says that His grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Co. 12:9).
Anyway, I’m finally finding me – for the first time really. Seeing myself through God’s eyes instead of through my own guilt has made a huge difference in how I feel about yours truly. He loves me. Let me say that again. The Sovereign, Omnipotent Creator of the universe, El Shaddai, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am, Abba Father, Most High God – loves me. ME. I am worth dying for.  I am worth dying for.
"It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him."  Abraham Lincoln

So… a year after D-day and I’m surviving. Who’da thunk it? (not me!) My family (especially my mom & my sister, Gretchen), my friends (with a special nod to Debbie, Sonya, Eileen, and Mike), all of my co-workers, as well as Nick Soutter and Dan Pearce, all of you keep me laughing. Many thanks & much love to all!
 “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”  Bill Cosby