Friday, May 13, 2011

"I Love My Mom Because..."

Mother’s Day was like most holidays have been in this past year; emotional and painful. Nothing’s the same as it used to be (which is both a blessing and a curse). Besides that, I’ve never really felt like I’ve been that great of a Mom; especially when there are those that do so much more and are those Betty Crocker Moms or something. I know no one can do it all, but I feel even more inadequate considering the fact that I’m a working/single Mom now (and that I’ve ultimately failed my kids). I know it’s not true, but I’ve always wanted the best for them and even though some will argue that leaving an abusive home IS the best thing for them (and me) it still hurts that our family couldn’t be saved.

The kids have adjusted better than I have. I’m getting there, but I know it’s still a process. It always seems like there’s a lot on my shoulders. Thank goodness for family and friends that help shoulder the load (I appreciate it immensely!). And, thank goodness for the simple little things that touch my heart and remind me that even though the kids act up and seem like they don’t need me sometimes, they do care. I love the sweet little things that they made for me; all the little cards and art projects. I think the one I’m going to share with you is going to be the one that stands out the most because it’s Casey’s own thoughts put to paper. It is a “Top 10” list of why he loves me and they had to fill in the blanks at school. Here it is (and in his own/exact words lol):

10. I love my mom because she reads me: a dinosaur story.
  9. I love my mom because she helps me: clan up my room.
  8. I love my mom when she makes me laugh by: silly story.
  7. I love my mom because she taught me how to: ride a bike.
  6. I love to hear my mom sing: chrch song.
  5. I love my mom because she finds time to: play wit me.
  4. I know my mom cares because she: know she pick me up.
  3. I know my mom is smart because she: play dino hunt.
  2. I love my mom because she works so hard at: Walmart.
  1. I love my mom because she’s the best mom ever!

                                                             Love: Casey

Finally! It’s like he’s really communicating how he feels and what means most to him! Sometimes, it’s hard to know what matters most when they don’t have the word power to really say it. Even though Mommy doesn’t really like big scary dinosaurs with sharp teeth (oh, how I miss the days of Thomas the Tank Engine and his nice happy smiling face lol) he’s saying that he likes it when I care about the things he cares about and when I show interest in it by sharing it with him. It’s been a while since we went on a dino hunt, so maybe next time I will think of the dinos as being pretty, pink, and sparkly. Then, maybe it will seem more appealing (or I could think of how fashionable it would be if one could carry a dino skin purse - how trendy!).

The things that got me most (which made me teary as well as made me laugh) is when he said I work hard at Walmart (hey, I DO lol!!). I’m glad that he recognizes my efforts and that he’s proud of me. It also thrills me that he recognizes my love for him in the form of my dependability/responsibility in picking him up and being there for him.

The other  pleasant surprise was the bike comment. I had always thought that Mitch would be the one to teach Casey how to ride a bike. I thought it was a father/son thing. So, even though I was proud to teach him, it made me a little sad at the same time (sadder still when I texted “Daddy” a picture and Casey was like: “Daddy will be happy to see me ride!” and he made no comment or showed that he even cared or was proud of our son).

Last but not least, the fact that Casey likes to hear me sing “church songs” moved me. Actually, I can’t even remember the last time I sang a “church song”. However, he’s said recently that he likes to hear me sing. Lots of times, Gianna and I sing the “Rapunzel songs” together and he will tell me how pretty I sing. I’m just glad that he apparently values songs of faith; and faith in general. No matter how he has acted up (and grown up) lately, he still has that sweet and tender heart! I want a heart like that!

I truly love my kids so much! I may not always be the best Mom in the world, but I try; and truly want to keep trying to be a better one so I can keep learning more reasons why my kids “love my mom because”.

God bless each and every one of you Moms and your children; and our hearts go out to the broken hearted Moms who struggle in some form or another (whether it be some form of child loss or childlessness). Love and grace to you all!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three Little Goals; One Big Start!

We all have what is called a "rock bottom." Even when we hit it, sometimes it still takes a while for it to become real and for us to do anything about it. That's how I have felt this past year; like I have hit my all-time low and just couldn't/wouldn't do anything to truly get up off the ground (and plunged myself into deeper sub-levels instead). Though, there were times where I thought things were getting better, only to get worse again. Though, as I explained in my last blog, a large part of that is my own fault. Bad choices and the flesh leading the spirit instead of the other way around. I made a mess on top of a mess and compounded my issues.

I've heard Dr. Phil say that sometimes something starts for one reason and then continues for another. Things happen that may or may not be in your control, but the way you choose to react is ALWAYS within your control! There is a lot about my divorce that I couldn't control, but how I coped with it could have been a LOT better! I won't detail my pain and mistakes right now, but what I will say is that I have finally had enough! Stuff happens, but the snowball effect doesn't have to! I don't have to allow things that ARE within my control to get OUT of control! I need to choose to make positive choices and remember that serenity prayer about learning to change what you can, accept what you can't, and have the wisdom to know which is which.

The things that I "know" need to transition to the things that I "do". Those that love me most (and even my own self) has told me to take time for me, heal, and wise up. I have struggled to find the meaning in that because the "how" of healing hasn't come easily. Maybe it should have (God being the obvious answer) but I chose indifference because I felt that with or without God, it really didn't matter anymore. I felt that my life is, and always has been, a mess regardless if God was my focus or not. So, what does it matter? In my heart, I knew/know it DOES make a difference and I need to truly remember the fact that I was much better off WITH God than without.

It's time to "forgive" God; as well as forgive myself. It's time to value and respect myself again and make peace with myself more than anything else. I need to stop punishing myself with my self-destructive behavior. Therefore, I am going to list a few steps that I am going to take right now to start bettering myself. The "all or nothing" Melissa wants to fix absolutely everything and go all out changing absolutely every single thing I can think of, but I realize it's overwhelming and unrealistic. That kind of pressure is what causes me to be harsh on myself again (and predestines me to burnout and failure). So, I won't attempt to fix everything all at once and I will be patient with myself in whatever steps I take (and accomplish) as I keep taking more. One day at a time, Melissa! Well, better yet, one moment at a time!

There are three things that I am going to do this week....

1. I am going to start reading Brian "Head" Welch's devotional book, "Stronger", once again. I had started it, but never finished it. At the very least, it will start feeding the faith that has dwindled away to next to nothing. And maybe, I will re-read C.S. Lewis' short and helpful little book "A Grief Observed" again. POWERFUL little read that details his own grieving process and rebuilding faith after loss.

2. I am going to be self-aware and mindful. I will do my best to challenge my thoughts and behaviors as they arise and reject the negative ones. Another Dr. Phil saying is that we don't break habits, we replace them with new ones. I have to choose and practice new habits and behaviors if I want to replace the old ones. I will be patient and remind myself that I have a lot to work on and while I can't fix it all at once, I am making progress. Any time I choose to affirm myself, and choose truth over lies, that is a success! I will apply the scriptures (that are still rooted in my being) whenever they come to mind in the situations I run across (like the one about not letting unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Confession: I have really developed a foul mouth that needs cleaned up!).

3. The kids and I will go to church on Sunday! I haven't been to church in months for various reasons (one being that I no longer feel that I have a church home). There is a church that I have always wanted to visit and that keeps coming to my mind every time I think about going back. I will finally go and check it out and see if maybe it would be a good fit/fresh start for us. If not, I will continue looking for a good fellowship of believers to get plugged in with.

I have so many other "changes" running through my head right now! I just want to keep going and going with "I'm going to start doing this...I'm going to stop doing that". That's what my "all or nothing" personality does! This is going to be hard to not start going absolutely crazy with trying to change so many things all at the same time. I have to remind myself to take it simple and slow...and I might actually change even more than I think without having to think TOO much! These three things are doable, and I will accomplish them this week!

I will remind myself of these goals the way Aslan told Jill in Narnia ("The Silver Chair")to keep reminding herself of the steps and signs she needed to remember to accomplish her mission. "Nothing else matters," he said. True that! This is priority number one and nothing else matters! I must remember my "mission" and concentrate on these goals! If I forget them, I will get distracted and off track just like she did in the story. I have to stay on track! I'll go over my goals out loud before I go to sleep; and even make myself identify and point out the things I did "right" that day.

THANK YOU to everyone who has been (and continues to be) in prayer for me! You love me more than I have loved myself! I appreciate it! I am getting there!! God bless you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Through the "Crazy Times"

I knew this week was going to be a turning point. It’s like all these months have been leading up to this; the moment when things truly become real and everything starts truly changing/beginning again.

It’s been eight months now since my life has been completely turned upside down. I’ve had to adjust to so many things (and am still adjusting). I don’t know how to articulate it all into something anyone can understand, because I don’t even know how to describe it to myself and have it make sense. So, I think I will skip sorting through the details and just basically say that this week truly feels like my new beginning. I thought my new start was when I moved out, but I guess there are lots of things that have to die/end before things really begin again.

Monday was the “legal” death of my marriage; though it died long ago. Though, now, it finally comes with lots of long awaited provisions in order to help get my kids and I ready to truly be on our own. All this time, we’ve been living with my parents (and thank God for them!). Though, soon, I’m sure we’ll be able to transition to being in a place of our own.

Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t fully “settled in” in all these months. Myself, and my parents, have been after me to organize/clean up my room. I have straightened up here and there, but it’s never been fully “complete”. So, today, I decided that that’s what I was going to do since I have the time and am off this whole week from work (someone forgot to schedule me, and rather than bring it to their attention, I took this as a sign that I needed the break - and I’m glad!). Amazingly, I discovered a deeper reason why I haven’t straightened things up. It’s more than mere lack of time, effort, and procrastination. It’s because when I look around and see everything getting in its place, I feel settled in. That brings up the feelings of “nothing is going to be the same again” which forces you to face the shock and denial that you’re living in. In my heart, I think I felt “why should I really put things away. It won’t be there long. I’m not staying here. This is just temporary. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t make this home.” The old part of me knew it was because it felt like this wasn’t really happening and that this was just temporary until my life resumed. The other part KNEW that this was just a transition and that I would soon start a new life in a new place at some point. So, it’s a very torn feeling to be living in a sort of purgatory between the life you left and the life you’re going to.

So, I’ve been crying quite a bit today as I’m facing the fact that soon, everything is going to change AGAIN. I’m truly going to be living as a single mom and learning for the first time what it’s like to live on my own without parents or a husband. The idea of it feels strange and lonely. I have no idea how to embrace that.

This whole past year has felt like a slow and painful death. However, I think I’m finally starting to feel like the worst is over and things are really turning a corner - hopefully. Spring is almost here, and that means new life. This is my new life coming into season. Grieving is still painful, but not as frequent as it was (mainly due to keeping myself busy and distracted - yeah, I know…I have to deal with it SOMETIME!). I still have a VERY long way to go, but I think I’m starting to wake up.

The final thing that sparked in me today was when I decided to put my iPod on shuffle. “Crazy Times” by Jars of Clay popped up. The words hit me like a fresh load of bricks:

You're cold that way
And that's why you say
The things that you say
You can't attract
The things that you lack
You're trying in vain

It seems it's always the crazy times
You find you'll wake up and realize
It takes more than your saline eyes
To make things right

You spiral down
You've broken your crown
You don't feel like a queen
You've seen the proof
But you're still crying wolf
You'll never believe

You try to climb a broken ladder
Grip the missing rungs
And fall down, down, down
Seems sometime ago you said
This wouldn't last
And now you sit here crying

Beside your bed
You feel left for dead
You kneel in the dark...

It takes more than your saline eyes
To make things right

This song took me back to my senior year of high school where I was in a severe state of depression and the music of Jars of Clay spoke to me in ways that helped so much. I see the parallel between then and now and how this song makes more sense to me than it ever did. A large part of me has gone cold, and it’s why I have been the way I am and acted the way I have for a while. I’m not myself, and I can’t expect to “attract the things I lack” and make myself better. I am not going to bring about positive/good things in my current state and with my admitted angry/prideful attitude that has caused me to be running in the opposite direction of where I should. In these “crazy times”, you eventually wake up and realize that you can’t save yourself. Your tears and whining aren’t going to make things right if you don’t have the attitude to do a 180 and just continue to complain about the pain and not do anything to yank yourself out of it. So many times, I have cried “God, please make the pain stop!” and have been furious that it hasn’t, even though a good portion of it has been brought on by my own actions. So, today, I felt inside: “No, YOU make it stop!” I CAN MAKE IT STOP! It’s within my power via my free-will. I can make different choices; the choices I need to in order to MAKE IT STOP! God can’t “stop” pain that I’m choosing! The only pain that He can stop is the pain that I surrender to be healed.

I’m knocked down and falling; not feeling “like a queen” or the child of God I was. Despite the prayers and advice and evidence all around that God is there for me (and always has been) I’ve “cried wolf” as if He hasn’t been. So, I climb my own incomplete and broken ladder, and keep falling. I‘ve kept thinking that eventually, I would give it up and quit being stupid…and that whatever “phase” I’m in won’t last long. I’ll snap out of it and rebound as I usually do. Yet, here I sit….crying  (as I often do). I have yet to snap out of it. Nothing has hit me hard enough; or maybe it has but it has made ME hardened and more resistant. I’ve never been in a phase this severe or for this long. I know all that it takes is a decision to flip the switch, but I haven’t cared to do so. Why? I’m not sure. I WANT to care, but I don’t. So, that’s about the only prayer I pray right now: “I really don’t care, but I want to/should. Please, make me care again.” I think I’m almost done running and resisting - almost. I’m getting there. Patient and forgiving is He - if only I could be with myself!

Thank you to everyone who is praying for me and my crazy messed up life/state of mind. God bless you all, and thank you to all my REAL friends who have helped me through all of this and continue to be there for me! I appreciate those of you who haven’t abandoned, betrayed, or made things worse for me! I love you!!