Never Alone… Then why do I feel so lonely?

As I sit down to write, I remind myself that it has been another extended period of time since I have written, nearly two months. I really do want to try to work on that, writing more often… but I continue to allow my life to get the best of me and I fall silent. A silence that mostly suffocates me and makes things worse. I have been wallowing, stuck in the mud and muck that surrounds me as I try and deal with the storms of life, most of them natural and even expected, that continue to come my way. I feel broken, and the broken pieces have fallen into separate sections of my life–leaving me all the more disconnected. In my last entry I shared the joyous moments of my children’s lives, two college graduations, as well as my oldest daughter and her husband purchasing their first home.  Joy. Happiness. Contentment. Yet, if I’m honest, I only experienced those feelings briefly and then they were quickly gone.

My summer has been quiet, something I am not used to. In the past there have always been a plethora of activities that have kept me busy, kept my mind out of the dark place it tends to go. But as we all know, life changes; especially with age. My children are older and I am slowly loosing the one job I depend on to help me move through this life, the job of being “mom”. Oh, then still call and text, and ask me about the important stuff… Send me a silly SnapChat, but it’s just not the same. Today, they make a lot, if not most of their decisions on their own; able to do so because I prepared them for the next stage of their lives. I wish someone would have better prepared me for this stage of my life.

I have always struggled with depression and when I don’t have something to do, especially with my children also being gone; my life gets a little darker and I all to often surrender to that darkness. The sort of surrender that leaves me stuck and motionless, the sort of surrender that keeps me from leaving the confinement of my home unless I have to work, or when I go to church.  I wish I could tell you this is an exaggeration, but it is not… My youngest has been gone a total of five weeks this summer, off at camp, serving the Lord as a junior cabin leader. The weeks that she has been gone, I have only left the house when I had to work at my part-time job at the local hotel (12-15 hours each week). When there, depending on the time of day, I may not speak to anyone, not even answer the phone. A sort of solitude that only exasperates the problem.

I realize that this is no one else’s problem but my own. It has become easier and easier as the summer passes, then last week something happened and I realized I really needed to do something, or I am most certainly going to become one of those crazy cat ladies who orders in her groceries and doesn’t have a real or meaningful conversation with anyone unless it is via a keyboard and computer screen. So last week, I had a meeting that had been scheduled since the week before that I was supposed to attend. However, when that day came, I didn’t make it to the meeting; I didn’t ever make it off my couch. I got stuck, the darkness swallowed me up that day, more than it ever had before; leaving me numb and feeling more alone than ever. I did nothing that day, nothing. I laid on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep, with the TV playing episode after episode of a program I was barely paying attention to. I broke down emotionally when it came time to leave, I absolutely could not do it. I sent a text apologizing, and continued to stay confined within the walls of my home, sitting there on my couch.

Being alone has always been a part of who I am, growing up, I secluded myself from others when I could, feeling safer alone; not wanting them to learn my secrets, to know who I really was, all that happened to me. During that portion of my life, the silence and solitude represented what I perceived as one of the only safe parts of my life. I am now discovering that it is that early conditioning which I unwittingly did, that has predisposed me to some almost anti-social behavior and is keeping me from being the light He wants and needs me to be.

Then something occurred this summer, that is helping me to move away from this self-sabotage of sorts. A dear friend lost her husband in a terrible accident, leaving her much too young of a widow, and very much alone. He was a wonderful man, a surrogate brother of sorts… an annoying one at times, opinionated and often larger than life, yet I loved him, as so many people who knew him did. Yet, he was instantly and oh so unexpectedly taken from all our lives, from her life, and that of their son. While, I did not loose my husband, the father of my three oldest children to death; I remember those first few months, even the first couple years trying to adjust to him being gone from our lives. He too, was permanently gone, yet there is not the closure that death unfortunately brings; and the void his absence left often swallowed me up. Yet, I had three small children to care for, and that gave me a sense of purpose, as well as the necessary strength to move forward, to keep going.

So, God placed it on my heart in those first moments to reach out to my friend and to try and be there for her. Their only son will be heading back to college soon, less than two months after his father’s accident. Not an easy task for this young man, but my heart aches for my friend who will then truly be alone in her home. So, I have been reaching out to her on a regular basis, an encouraging text throughout the week and we have been walking. I told her while I don’t know her specific pain, I do know the loss of that person you love more than life itself, the void it leaves… and about feeling alone. I hope it is helping her… I pray that the specifics of our friendship will continue to grown and change and I that can truly be someone she can turn to and find comfort and strength.

This morning, my devotion reminded me that God will always be a part of our lives, that HE will never leave us, even when those around us might. He is our forever-friend, the eternal lover of our soul… It is in His goodness and righteousness that we will find the security that we need to get through the storms and trails that life brings our way, providing us with a comfort that man can not provide, assuring us that we will someday live with Him in paradise.

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you… I will not fail you or abandon you.” ~Joshua 1:5

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9b

 Be happy with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you or let you be alone.” ~Hebrews 13:5

never alone

God is always with us, even when we are lost or in too much pain to notice. He is moving in our lives, mightily, and with purpose. His purpose for each us may not be easily understood, but should be embraced… May the first thing we think of as our feet hit the floor in the morning, be the simple truth that He is with us. May His love and the presence of His Spirit, be what guides us through our day, reminding us, moment by moment, that He most certainly lives within us–never leaving us alone.

Until the next moment,

 

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Planted to Prosper

Sunday We started a new Women’s Sunday School class this weekend where we will be studying some of the Psalms. First up: Psalm 1, with the study question for discussion: “Do you feel a gap (or chasm!) between “real life” (work, school, family) and your prayer life? Explain. Ask God to help you begin to make prayer a part of your life.”

Wow! Where do I start my list… Just last year I was a part of a wonderful Bible Study with some of these very same women. I worked hard at committing to having a stronger more fervent prayer life. For a good period of time, I did. But, then summer arrived with all its activities and busyness and I fell short. Really short. I was too busy…

Correction, I allowed myself to say I was too busy.

I’m ashamed to say, that beyond reading my daily devotional, I just didn’t make, or allow the time to spend even a quiet moment with the One who gives me breath.

So I am excited for this SS class, and the opportunity to study once again with these women. I really enjoyed this opening paragraph from our new book:

“Psalm 1 is the biblical preparation for a life of prayer. Step by step it detaches us from activities and words that distract us from God so that we can be attentive before him. Most of us can’t step immediately from the noisy, high-stimulus world into the quiet concentration of prayer. We need a way of transition. Psalm 1 provides a kind of entryway into the place of prayer.” (Introducing the Psalms)

I don’t know about you, but life continues to be crazy; it is obviously just the nature of the beast. Because, even with only one child to be directly responsible to, it seems that I have less time with that one child, than I did when I had all four kiddos still under one roof. As a mom, especially as a Christian mom, I want to make sure that I am modeling for my children what I expect of them as people (who I want them to be) as they step out into this crazy and unpredictable world.

Verse 3 really spoke to a lot of us, myself included:Psalm_1_3m

How firmly am I planted? Which in turn leads to additional questions like: How well am I feeding myself so that I can grow and yield good fruits? Am I strong enough to prosper in the depths of a storm or adversity?

Many of you who know me, or have followed this and my previous blog, know that life has not been an easy path for me. I have been tossed around in the wind, to say the least. Yet, because I learned to trust in the living God, I have been able to survive it all. Even with the few visible scars, I continue to move forward. I have learned how to prosper. Then, over the course of the last four years, our family had some moments where the trials were a little bigger that any of us could have ever planned.

June 2012, just one month before her wedding, my eldest daughter was fighting for her life and we were uncertain if she would even walk down the isle. Through much prayer and God’s gracious and healing hand… she did.

May 2015, just days after completing her first year of college, my middle daughter was in a near fatal car accident and survived. Once again, prayer and God’s grace brought us through this terrible storm.

Through each event, I watched our family grow in our trust in the Lord, creating an even more firmly planted foundation. I watched as both my daughters turned to God, in prayer; doing so with me, as well as individually; trusting Him, as they walked through each of these unthinkable storms. These incidents were overwhelming examples (to me) of not only the mighty power of prayer, but that God indeed hears our cries, and that He cares for us in each and every moment of our lives.

Which takes me back to verse 3.grow-bible_-tree_

When we stay firmly planted in the truth of His Word, when we spend purposeful quiet time with Him, we will then have all that is necessary to grow and prosper. He wants us to do just that. He wants us to do so much more. As we learn to trust that He is always with us, and when we spend those even brief, daily moments with Him; it strengthens us unlike anything we can imagine. We may be thrown into the biggest storm, with monumental winds tossing us to and fro… Yet, because we have a firm foundation in the living God, we are able to weather the storm.

Two of my three older kiddos were home for a short visit this weekend and I am still so amazed at the remarkable adults they (as well as their older sister) are becoming. They continue to care about others and make deliberate and sound decisions in most everything they do. All my children learned growing up in our single parent home, that it takes hard work to get where you are going. They also learned that it takes trusting in and loving a God who, “through all things is possible”. They never had it easy, they earned most everything they received. They watched and saw my trust in God; and over time, each one of my children has developed their own trust, their own relationship with the God who gives us breath.

That is my fruit… watching each of my children as they firmly grow in the Lord.

What a joy it has been watching my two older daughters find such wonderful, loving, and Godly men to share their lives with. I also hope and pray… that my son too will find a women who loves the Lord like he does. And a few years down the road, I wish the same for my youngest daughter.

My fruit is also found in my writing and being able to share it with others. When we spoke Sunday morning, we talked about what we enjoyed most about watching movies, or reading a book or poem. Why do we enjoy these sorts of activities? Because the majority of us want to step outside our own world and experience something different. We want to feel happiness when we are sad, to momentarily forget that we are angry or upset. We also want to, perhaps, learn from someone who has experienced something we can not imagine. Or to see that we are not alone, to see that someone else has experienced something similar and they too came through that same storm.

Which is why I write–I write to share my experiences, even the hard ones; the ones that may have left less visible scars. Because not only is it therapeutic to me… but maybe, just maybe it will help someone survive their own storm. Perhaps when I write, I can share the hope He gives me, even in my everyday life. I know that God guides my words and I pray that he will continue to do so as I reach out to share with family and friends, one moment at a time. I pray that I will continue doing so, while firmly planted in His truth and love.

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Until the next moment,

 

Staying Silent in the Storm

Its been just over six months since my last entry. Forgive me for my extended silence, but for the first few weeks I let the impeding storm get the best of me. On March 26th, I was let go from a job I truly loved very unexpectedly. I am sad to admit that while it was unexpected, it was unfortunately not unwarranted. I pushed the limits of a very firm line where no gray existed. My actions had consequences, as they always do. I still regret the choice I made, and would certainly do it differently. Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes. I certainly have learned much from this error in my own judgement, and still respect the choice made by my former employer. All of this occurred  just before Easter, so I took a couple weeks to relax and enjoy my family as we prepared to celebrate our Risen Savior. Then I began my work search, which did not go well. There was nothing  available in the current field I was working (Customer Service) or anything similar. After nearly two months of futile searching, I took a position at a local travel stop. I worked three days and then the storm kicked in even harder, this time with more severe casualties.

The evening of May 15th, I received a call no parent wants to receive, but I am relieved to say that it could have been a worse call… but God had other plans. I still remember that call as if it was last night. My son was home briefly from the end of his second year of college. Spending some quality family time before heading off to a summer internship. We were playing Mario Cart with his younger sister when my phone rang. I was actively playing and asked my daughter to bring me my phone. It was my middle daughter’s boyfriend calling, which I thought nothing of, because her phone often died. I answered the phone and it was actually her boyfriend, Heath. I instantly knew something was wrong as his voice lacked his usual playful tone. He proceeded to say, “Um… We were sort of in an accident and Kayleigh is hurt. Do you just want to talk to the EMT?” He handed the phone off to a man who would tell me that my daughter was conscious, but they believed she had a broken hip. He then explained where they were taking her. Before he got off the phone he told me how lucky she was as this particular type of accident is often ends in fatality. Lucky, no… God just had other plans.

I quickly called someone in my church family and explained what was happening, getting the mighty power of prayer in motion. I then headed down the interstate on the hour long drive (that felt more like two) with my two children. I called my oldest daughter and a dear friend as I silently prayed myself as I drove along. As we got closer, an officer from the scene of the accident called to give me more information, reiterating what the EMT had said about the accident. His words were, “Its a miracle she’s doing so well” He also let me know that the other driver received a citation at the scene, calling the accident a “high speed collision”. He also confirmed that Heath was OK, he had gotten hit in the face with the airbag and was sore from the seat belt, but had no apparent injuries. I had about twenty minutes left in my drive at this time… the longest twenty minutes of my life.

We arrived at the hospital and found parking near the ER entrance. As we waited to speak to a woman behind the front desk I noticed a man walking quickly down the hall. After letting the woman at the desk know why we were there we were directed the the ER room she was in. Walking in the room, I saw my daughter lying on a gurney still in a neck brace, my heart instantly dropped in my chest. I looked around the room and in the back corner there were the doctors looking at her X-ray, one of them the man I had seen in the hallway. I would shortly learn he was the orthopedic surgeon. Even without my medical background, looking at the X-ray I knew it was bad. Within minutes, the surgeon explained that there were three breaks in her hip and pelvis. She would certainly need surgery.

peggy

They got her prepped and preformed the surgery that very night, taking just over an hour to complete. They placed an internal screw and an external fixator to help hold her pelvis in place while it healed. This would take 7-8 weeks, of which she would not be able to walk. Once she was settled post surgery, the kids and I tried to get a little sleep in one of the waiting rooms. She was in ICU for a couple days, during which time we were given a respite room to rest in. After a five day stay, she was transferred to a Rehabilitation facility for eight days. Here she learned how to move and take care of herself with the fixator in place. This gave us time to turn our living room into her living space while she healed.

cominghome

Once she was home I was able to go back to the job I had started in May. It became very evident that I was not going to be physically able to do this particular job (standing for eight hours) for very long. My back began to feel the stress and the whole reality of my life began to take it’s toll. I missed a couple days of work and during the time I was resting I heard the wee small voice of God, “Do you trust me?” I showed Him that I did, by contacting my employer and letting them know that I would not be coming back to work, that it was not in the best interest of my health. Thus started the work search once again… However, this time it wasn’t as long and I had a promising new FT job that I was looking forward too. To my surprise, it was not as it had been presented and would actually only be PT hours, thus my need to find a second PT job or a different job entirely. Once again, God was in control.

My daughter had the fixator removed on July 6th with no complications. She then started her four weeks of PT the very next day. She spent one week with the walker, one week with a cane and then spent two weeks beginning the task of rebuilding strength in her legs, getting her ready to head back to college. I can’t begin to explain what this summer was for us as a family, as individuals… How it changed us. My son stepped up and became an even better man than I could have ever imagined, showing such compassion for all his sisters, as well as myself. He was just there in every way possible; no questions asked, he just did. I can honestly say that I would not have gotten through the first few days of this whole ordeal without him. My daughter herself showed such strength in what lie ahead of her. She didn’t question, she just trusted, walking by faith, not by sight; just like her life verse. Even that first night, she set aside her own fears and comforted her tearful little sister, telling her to “be strong and to not cry”.

firsthug         possile

Just one week before my daughter would have the external fixator removed (at week seven) I “tweaked” my back getting off the couch one evening. I would discover the next morning, that had done much more that just “tweak” it. I was in excruciating pain and after a trip to the ER, the doc was concerned that I had re-injured one of my compromised disks from a sever injury over ten years ago. Two weeks of PT showed no improvement, and actually my pain intensified as it began radiating down my leg into my knee on my left side. The initial MRI was turned down by my insurance company, but my doctor was a great advocate and by the end of week three I was scheduled for an MRI at the end of the next week. By the end of week five, I was on the phone with my doc discussing the results. I had two herniated disks and he was sending me to speak to a surgeon. It could have taken two to three weeks to get an appointment but by God’s grace there was a cancellation and I was seeing the surgeon just three days after my results.

My visit with the surgeon was short and sweet, he shared with me that the MRI revealed that one of my disks was actually ruptured and the broken piece had fallen into the joint of my vertebrae and was pinching the nerve. He even said to me after looking at it, “It’s no wonder you are in pain”. They scheduled the surgery for ten days out and presented the information to the my insurance. I was worried that the surgery might not be initially approved, just like the MRI but that was not the case. It was approved, I just had to come up with my portion on the payment. Once again, God provided and I was set for surgery. My microdisectomy took just under an hour, the ruptured disk was actually in two pieces, and had caused the nerve to turn on itself. 24 hours later I was headed home, uncomfortable from the surgery itself but free of the pain I had been experiencing for nearly two months.

That was three weeks ago tomorrow and I am feeling better and stronger everyday. Last week I had my follow-up visit and will return one last time at the end of the month. At that point I will be released for PT and prepare to get back to work, still trying to see where that is suppose to be. This morning, I was only further reminded that God is indeed in control, aiding us through the storm…

storm

“Christians have many benefits as children of God, but flood-free lives are not one of them. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult things to accept. Noah spent his life walking with God, yet he and his family faced a horrific storm. As the door of the ark was closed, Noah’s only hope was to trust God through the unknown.
We all have faced unknown storms. The untimely death of a family member. The uncertainty of our health. Unemployment. Just to name a few. But our key verse gives us a certainty for times that are uncertain.
No matter the severity of the storm or how we arrived in its eye, we can trust two simple truths about God and the floods we face: 1) God remembers His plan for us. 2) God remembers His love for us.
A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose. In the same way, God directs us, and our safety often requires obedience. Whether we are currently in a storm or just on the other side of one, we can be certain our storm will end. Isn’t it comforting to know that God will be with us through it all?”~First 5

So as I move forward out of the storm into bluer skies I am so very thankful. Thankful that I was allowed to play nursemaid to my daughter this summer instead of mourn her. Thankful that I was able to see my son grow into the compassionate and caring man he is becoming. Knowing that he will do great things in his future, that he will make a difference in his lifetime. Even more so thankful, no blessed, by the kindness and generosity of the people He has placed in our lives. Whether it was meals/groceries, running an errand, picking up my child when I couldn’t drive, or the simple act of prayer. We were shown so much Christlike love, through action over the coarse of this summer. It will never be possible to repay, but I will certainly pay it forward when given the opportunity and pray for God’s blessings on them all.

I hope to not let there be so much time between entries in the future, as I really want to use this blog to show others, what can be done when you trust God, when you allow Him to be the top priority in your life. That even when the door is shut, you can praise Him in the hallway while you wait for the next door to open. That you can learn to take every moment of life as He gives it to you, never walking alone… Praising Him in the Storm.

Until the next moment,