Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Big "D"

The Big "D" is here. Not divorce....Deployment.

We always knew when our son joined the military that deployment was an option. His being gone for basic training and occupational school was good preparation for it, but the big "D" hits you a bit differently.

Deployment means, usually, foreign soil. In our case, yes. It means more months apart than we have experienced yet. It means a bit of uncertainty in an already uncertain world.

Despite the unknown, there is the knowledge that our son is willing to serve his country. There is pride that he is doing it as a part of an elite branch. There is pride in knowing that he is doing well in his occupation. I appreciate the fact that he is going to be exposed to a different culture and that he will grow even stronger as he faces his current challenges.

Even so, he is away from his wife, who is expecting our grandchild (the 2nd of two this fall!), and his darling B. He will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and favorite holidays. Thankfully, technology exists that makes it possible for us to communicate in real time and that is a real blessing! I am so very thankful for that.

Life has been full lately! We had a week long visit from our son and family before he left for deployment. We enjoyed pizza night, supper at our favorite restaurant, lots of good family time and family pictures.

After almost 6 years of being empty-nesters, on a semi-regular basis, I feel that a door is finally opening for what lies ahead for me and in many ways it has been lying dormant for quite awhile. Not only did my emphasis in high school prepare me for it, my choices in college and my experiences the past 15 years or so seem designed, in retrospect, to be the perfect catalyst for what lies ahead. In combination with building my oils business, it seems almost to perfect a fit, but I am trusting God and have more motivation than I have had in years! The prospect of studying and growing in not only my faith, but also in advocating and working in an area that I feel deeply about is invigorating!

Praise the Lord, O my soul!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

March the 20's. These are complicated days for me. 15 or 16 years ago this week I had a nervous breakdown. I had a major panic attack and then spent months dealing with insomnia, mild agoraphobia, pins and needles, and feeling overwhelmed by life. My children had to suffer through seeing me go through it and had to learn how to deal with some things on their own. I spent a lot of time riding in the truck with hubby, just trying to avoid the realities of life.

I had had too many things on my plate...lots of groups, ministries, homeschool activities. I had lost 70 lbs, but not through healthy eating, so I had depleted my good vitamins in my body and just couldn't cope when the anxiety and panic hit.

The Lord put many things in my path that helped me to learn how to eat better (I'm still working on that one!), to learn how to handle the anxiety and panic I often felt. He helped me to learn to say "no", especially when my husband felt I was going to reach my limits again.

I honestly don't know why this time of year is such a challenge for me, but it seems to cycle around pretty regularly. The simplest of things can trigger it. Last night hubby said he was going to have to get up a 3 AM to get some field work done that almost requires freezing temperatures. The butterflies started to flutter and whirl around inside of me. I didn't want to go back to bed without him, I didn't like the thought of being all alone in the house. We don't even have a pet that could have kept me company.

I prayed about it before going to bed. I prayed about it when the alarm went off. I prayed as I laid there after he had gone out while I occupied my mind with games on my phone and facebook. I made it through the night and even fell back to sleep for a bit.

I awoke to sunshine and promise and then found out about a meeting a friend of mine was having later in the day. As much as I tried not to let it get to me, by late in the afternoon, anxiety was knocking on my door. Hubby is still outside getting this chore done and I am on my own. I cheated with some pringles and a little real sugar, but did much better with my supper.

I had thought that I was moving on from leaving our church of over 20 years, then the annual meeting was held last week and it stirred it all back up. Sadly, it is not a place I want to be any longer. I know this is helping to feed the anxiety a bit...I have to let it go.

We did receive wonderful news this weekend and have much to look forward to this year. God is good! He is still on His throne! Hallelujah!

Friday, March 04, 2016

I am still planning on blogging about the Big "C" (not cancer) and the Big "D (not divorce), but that still lies ahead. Maybe in a day or two.

It's March. Dreary, dragging March. I know that spring lies at the end of the month, but some days it just seems soooo dreary and feels like winter is here for good. My head knows better, but my heart, my motivation, and my energy feel very differently.

I have this huge list of things I need to be doing...

  • Learning more about THM and implementing it more and more into my life. I'm am thankful for the first 6 pounds I have lost and for feeling a bit better without all the white stuff in my food.
  • Working on getting my essentials oils class ready for next weeks class
  • Writing! This blog has been neglected, as well as a private one that I've been working on that I want to take public soon. I also want to get back to working on my children's book and a non-fiction Christian book on the subject of service.
  • I need to block 3 shawls!
  • Finish a couple of other knitting projects and, of course, start a couple more!
  • Exercise.
  • Clean out my kitchen cupboards and take unexpired things to the food bank.
  • Plus...the basics of keeping a home...dishes (no dishwasher here, my friends, just my own two hands), laundry, sweeping, etc.
  • TAXES!!

I'm sure there is more, but it seems to have slipped my mind....

It doesn't really seem like much, but each thing seems so time consuming and I'm having trouble prioritizing what should come first.

Psalms 136:1 (NASB) 
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I've been meaning to blog about the Big "C" and the Big "D" (I doubt it is what you are thinking...), but that will wait for another moment.

We are now pet-less.

It makes me sad.

When I lost my beloved Liberty about 1 1/2 years ago, I said that as our pets die, I didn't want anymore. The emotions are just too much for me. Not so much when they die of natural causes (or the situation I am about to go into), but when we have to make the decision to euthanize them. It is very difficult for me to take that kind of responsibility for that kind of action. I will do it because I recognize the responsibility, but I truly do not like to do it. And, with all that life throws at us these days, it's not something I want to have to spend much emotional energy on in the coming years.

So, we had to make that decision for Liberty and then the following December we had to make it for my 15-year-old kitty, Lydia. Shortly after that, though, our son and daughter-in-law moved in in preparation for his leaving for basic training. They brought with them our beautiful granddaughter and their happy-go-lucky cat, Charlie. Outside, we still had their dog, Buddy, who was a big puppy and had lived with us since J had moved to town.

Charlie adapted very nicely to being a farm cat and by springtime, he was an indoor-outdoor kitty. He and I got along really well and he became my pal.

When the time came for moving preparations to be made, Charlie had to chipped and checked out before moving to the base. They got this done in early December.

A week later, following a very emotional family event, we noticed something was wrong with him. As a young cat he had had a urinary blockage that had cost them quite a bit of money to correct. It seemed that his symptoms were similar. Because of the family event that had taken place, my thoughts were not focused on much of anything but my daughter so I didn't notice anything strange going on with the cat. However, looking back, I now realize that he was trying to tell me that something was wrong. If Charlie had an empty food bowl, he would literally lead me to it. It was in the basement, not too far from his kitty box, so every time he led me down there that weekend, I didn't realize it was about his kitty box and not his food bowl...

By the time we figured out what was going on a decision had to be made. The cost was extremely high for a young couple about to move halfway around the country. He was miserable. Sadly, he needed to be euthanized. He is now buried out by one of my lilac bushes.

So, we got the kids moved and we came home to just our big ol' puppy, Buddy. In reality, Buddy turned six last fall, but he never lost his puppy face. He had beautiful brown eyes and the most adorable puppy ears. J & M had rescued he and his sister as tiny pups. They found them along the road on the reservation not far from M's family's home. When they took them to the vet, the vet guessed their age at about 6 weeks and couldn't believe their condition. They were afraid of the tiniest of movements, Buddy's fur was literally falling out. The vet believed that they had been abused from the tiniest of ages. How awful!!

We brought them home and started working with them. It took almost a year to get them to not be so frightened. We had Liberty, as well, and she was kind of like a mom to them. Sadly, we lost the sister in very unusual circumstances (she was black and our other dogs were blond....).

Buddy grew into a gentle giant. He probably weighed 60 pounds or so (which is good sized for us) and he was so sweet and allowed the girls to love on him. He was a good hunter and would get rabbits and squirrels and bury them. In the summer he loved to be outside all the time, but in the winter he became a house dog and enjoyed his evenings and overnights on the rug in front of the door.

This past Wednesday, the inevitable happened.

I am not against hunting. I prefer it to be done for the meat, but I generally don't mind if it is done for sport, especially if the animal they are hunting is a nuisance and/or dangerous. However, I have never been fond of the way that coyote hunters hunt in Iowa.

For every other type of hunting in the state of Iowa, permission is needed from the landowners. Many coyote hunters in Iowa use dogs. They fly all over the countryside chasing after the dogs chasing after the coyotes. Pickups racing up and down the gravel roads and highways. Others parked at intersections. No one ever stops to tell the landowners what they are up to and that they are even out that day. In the back of my mind I've always figured that they would get one of our dogs. I was right.

I've always tried to pay attention this time of year and if I noticed hunting activity, get my dogs inside. However, I saw nothing out of the ordinary the other day until about 4:00. Hubby and I were sitting in the living room before he went out to do chores and we thought we heard shots. I just assumed it was a late deer season so we didn't think much of it. Hubby and Buddy went out shortly after that.

Around 5:15 a vehicle pulled in our south driveway. I thought it was odd but since J was out there, I didn't worry too much about it. Then the pickup left, the back door opened, and J stomped across the kitchen into the living room.

I knew from the look on his face that something was wrong. Then he said it. "Buddy is dead." Coyote hunters. They weren't using dogs this time, they used a distressed rabbit call. Buddy heard it, so did J. Buddy took off after it. He came out behind a coyote. The hunters took aim and shot both of them.

To make a somewhat long story of what happened after that a bit shorter, hubby made them go back and get him out of the field they left him laying in. He also warned them about me...not to come around again because I will deal with them and their irresponsibility. And, I will. If I ever see them again, they will hear from me.

So now we are pet-less. I have never been without a pet. We have either had a cat or a dog or both. It is quiet around here. I am okay with being pet-less for the time being though...emotions and all of that, but I am not happy with how we lost Buddy and I won't be silent about it.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Hello 2016...

2015 was quite a year. It was a year filled with many new feelings and challenges. A year filled with facing the unknown and nearly constant anticipation. A year filled with change, with hope, with loss.

So, here's to 2016. Our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter are finally back together, after nearly a year of being separated by his duties. Our oldest is healing well from her broken neck and will begin college again next week. Our middle daughter continues to get busier as the little ones grow and begin to school.

We have left our church of over 20 years. We are still unsure where that will lead us. There is deep sadness where the people are concerned. I miss the community of believers...however, many, many others have had to leave, as well, so we are dispersed anyway.

It would be easy to fall into a depression at this point. My emotions run the gamut each day, it seems.

Words fill my mind, but I'm having trouble getting them to the page.

Some things are very raw...missing my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Deep, abiding sadness over church, the misapplication and misinterpretation being taught. Wondering what God has in store for me next and understanding that this is a time of restoration and relaxation for me and that it is okay to have that time.

Allowing myself that time has always been difficult for me. It makes me feel guilty. However, I've also learned that it is crucial for me to have that time. To work things out at my own pace.

The words will come, I am sure of that. The disjointedness I feel will wear off and my new normal will set in. God will reveal His next steps for me.

I can completely, totally, and joyfully trust that!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A December to....

Not sure how much of this month I really want to remember, although a good chunk of it we won't forget.

We have had crazy emotional highs and sad, deep emotional lows.

We have buried.

We have rejoiced in new birth.

We have and are eagerly anticipating.

What a month!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Sadness of Suicide

Suicide has touched my life again.

Until about 5 years ago, suicide was a distant concept to me. I had only known one person who had committed suicide and that was back when we were in high school and I didn't really know him well. It had made me sad that he had left a young wife and some angry and hurt family members but my life went on as usual. Over the course of the following 25 years or so I heard of others, but never anyone I knew personally.

Then, almost 5 years ago now, that changed. The husband of a friend took his own life. At the time, she wasn't a close friend, (now she is like a sister to me!) but because God works the way He does, my dearest friend and I were called into action. We got to the house before her husband's body was taken away by the funeral home. A part of me was simply in shock...why would he do this?? He had a beautiful wife, a nearly 4-year-old little boy, and a darling 10-month-old little boy. They had a lovely home that he had built with his own hands. By all accounts, at least from the outside, it made no sense. The other part of me just knew that we didn't need to worry about the "whys" right now, but that we had to focus on M and her boys and getting them into a safe place where they could find a moment of peace. Their life was shattered around them. 

We spent many, many months being there for her, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some days we practically lived with her. Some days, we literally had to scrape her up off the bathroom floor. The pain that she felt was excruciating. The stages of grief were intense and due to the nature of suicide, we later learned, they often return time and time again. 

Over the course of the next year, several other suicides took place, including one across the street from my parent's house, while I was on the phone with my mom. Another wife and 3 children left behind to fend for themselves. 

What was happening? So much sadness. So much pain.

Then, last fall, my friend's (the same one whose husband had committed suicide) brother became suicidal and violent. He ended up killing himself by escaping a police car and throwing himself into oncoming traffic. 

So much more sadness. So much more pain. 

We know that in a couple of those cases, mental health was definitely a major factor. Questions linger though about why they were unwilling to seek help...even though help around our area is extremely difficult to find. But, even with the mental health issues, there had to be more. A deep feeling of hopelessness. 

I have known depression most of my life. I have even struggled with what many would call suicidal feelings. But, I have always weighed my current feelings against what it would do to my family, my friends, and even my testimony. Thankfully, I have chosen to not listen to the voices in my head that sometimes say the world would be better off without me and I would be better off no longer having to deal with depression. I give thanks to God for His protection over my mind during those times. But, obviously, sometimes God allows things that we just don't understand and it would seem that that protection isn't there for everyone. Of course, I don't believe that, but it would come across that way to many people. 

Now I find out that an old friend's 17-year-old grandson committed suicide last week. He was senior, preparing for military service, attended the local Christian high school, and was said to have a strong faith. I know that his grandfather certainly has a strong faith, but I'm sure that it has been shaken this week. No matter how strong your faith is, suicide gives it a powerful jolt. 

So the questions begin again...why would a young man with his whole life ahead of him bring it to an end? Why would he do it with his siblings in the house at the same time? Why? Why? Why? 

We may never know. But what I do know...this has to stop. 

We have to make it okay to say that we are depressed, that we are anxious, that we are fearful. We have to make it okay to say that we are tired of the fight of life. 

Christians need to stop throwing platitudes out there (and fighting over dumb things like coffee cups at a secular store!!). We need to stop making our children and our men hide their struggles. We need to remember that we all have temptations and secret sin and we need to make it safe for people to confess to others and not receive judgment but comfort and wisdom.

In many cases the church has become a place of judgment and condemnation instead of the safe harbor it is supposed to be. People put on a facade in order to present themselves in such a way that others won't know that they struggle, that their lives are perfect. We hide behind big hair and stilettos, just like the rest of the world. We hide behind business successes and a multitude of extracurricular activities for our kids and ourselves. We hide behind Bible studies and church attendance. 

Transparency has almost become a dirty word. Oh sure, we give it lip service and say that we should be transparent, but the vast majority of believers are scared to death of the judgment that can come following transparency. That needs to stop! We need to be real, not only for our sake, but for the sake of those in the next generation.

Something was bothering that young man so much that he felt he couldn't face life anymore. Some would call it selfish, he was only thinking of himself and not the pain he would leave behind, and there is a place for that thinking in the grief process, but his pain goes far beyond that. Truly, can a 17-year-old even fully understand the consequences his suicide would mean to his family, his friends, his school? Probably not. Not when his pain was searing him in ways we can only speculate about.

I pray for his family. I pray for their peace and comfort, for the anger that is bound to come. I pray that they will be advocates for other hurting and frightened children. I pray that we will begin to really think about what we are teaching our children about life and pain and hurt. We need to realize that kids are facing a future that, at best, is confused. Our world is willing to say men are women and women are men and even if you are born white, you can be black. Our world says that faith is bad and sin is good. Our world says there are no boundaries and yet, they put in place new and useless boundaries...boundaries that tell our kids (especially young, white males) that they are guilty until proven innocent). The world is upset down and we are fooling ourselves if we think it doesn't effect our kids, even our Christian kids. 

The only hope our world has is Jesus Christ! If we aren't transparent, if we aren't real and honest, if we aren't open we are only going to lose more young men and women to the sadness and pain of their minds. Jesus came to save and to give life abundant, but, sadly, even believers don't know how to tap into that abundant life and have lost ourselves to the trials and tribulations of the world. 

Put down the electronics, the phones, all the extracurricular activities and spend time with your family, your children, your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren. Share who you truly are with them! Show them what God has done in your life! Take a genuine interest in theirs! Love!

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NASB)
5 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Leviticus 19:18 (NASB)
18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NASB) 
37 And He said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart , and with all your soul , and with all your mind .'
38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself .'
40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." --emphasis mine

Love! Love God first and love others! 

Stop getting so caught up in things like cups and just start loving!