Where. To. Begin?

At the beginning of quarantine in March, being completely honest, I wasn’t in a good place.  I was overwhelmed.  Drowning in stress and pressure.

I needed a break.

A break from life.

My parents are snowbirds, and above all else, I knew they needed a break.

The past year has been overwhelming for all of us.  Them, especially.

When my grandma was moved into assisted living in 2016, my dad and his sister never saw eye to eye on the care of my grandma.  But, we dealt with it.  My dad making the tough decisions, being the bad guy.  All to ensure my grandma’s safety.

Responsibility was “shared.”

But over the past year, his sisters involvement declined.

Long story short, she stopped showing up.

So, we stepped up.

Lot’s of things happened.  Her husband fell.  Traumatic things happened.  We realized she wasn’t taking care of herself.  But, despite the desire to help someone, you cannot force someone to care for themselves.

You just can’t.

So when we discussed whether or not my parents would take the much needed few months break, I stepped up.

Willingly.

I took on the normal responsibility that I have for several years, helping collect mail, pay bills.  Adulting stuff.  But then I added in caring for my grandma.

Many times over the winter, I kept reminding myself that I am grateful for the time I have been given to spend with her.  Sometimes, I had to remind myself of that fact repeatedly.  Because, at 96, she isn’t caring for herself at the same level that she has so bravely and fiercely done since her husband died 45 years ago.

And then I had to take care of my brother after he broke his knee.  Which is an even larger complication.  Despite the fact that he and I had barely spoken over the last 8 years…he’s still my brother.  So I took the time off work.  And I was there for him.

Even while going through his surgery, I knew that God was working.  I can’t always say I agreed with or appreciated how He was working.  I still knew he was working.

And then quarantine happened.

Again, overwhelmed and stressed, and in desperate need of a break, I felt relief that I didn’t have to do anything except stay home.

Except, when you’re quarantined with just yourself, and your dog (who is ADORABLE AND AMAZING, but not a very good conversationalist) I found myself alone.  With myself.

There were days, there ARE days, I barely recognize myself.

Who is this person that I have become?

Though I tried to put on a good show most of the time, I started to spiral  Not completely out of control.  But I just haven’t been the person that I have become.  The person I worked so hard to be.

I was breaking down.

Now, before you get too worried…

I truly believe that in the process of breaking down, you lose a part of yourself.  But the key point being, you often lose part of yourself that you didn’t really need to be in the first place.

But let me tell you…even though some of those pieces needed to be lost…it’s TOUGH!!

My parents got home.  And things started feeling like they were on a slightly more even keel.  Except that’s a dangerous place to be.  Because, life happens.

My aunt died.

Plain and simple.  She died.  She refused to take care of herself.  The very last conversation my dad had with her was telling her to reach out.  She needed help.  But instead, she gave in.  And her health, that she had blatantly ignored for far too long, gave up.  She died.

My dad and I handled it.  We are steady.  And we deal with what needs to be dealt with.  And I continued to fall apart.

It hasn’t been easy, at all.  I have felt the absolute most despair of loneliness.

I know, and have known, that I am the caregiver in the family.  I have always known that I would be the one to take care of my parents.  When I moved home 8 years ago, that was a big part of the reason why.

I didn’t expect that to happen immediately.  Though, it did, because…life.

And I certainly didn’t expect to be doing it all alone.

I figured somewhere along the way, God would help a girl out and finally bring me my husband.

He hasn’t.

Not that I haven’t tried to force the issue.  Because, to combat the overwhelming loneliness, I signed up for online dating.  Again.

I met a lot of idiots.

One person, I thought I made a genuine connection with.  But for reasons I still don’t understand, it fell apart.  Pushing me even further into my pit of loneliness and despair.

I feel alone.

Heck…

I AM alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing and wonderful friends and family.  But for the big stuff, it’s just me.  And I’m not saying that trying to have a pity party.  That is the furthest thing from what I want.  It’s just a simple fact.

I am alone.

And while it’s tough to accept that when that is the last thing that I want, the last thing I ever thought I would have to do, I know that I need to accept it.  Learn to deal with it.  And keep moving forward.

I honestly don’t know where this crazy year will take any of us.

But…

From the very beginning, I knew that something good would come from all of this insanity.  I.  Just.  Knew.

I still feel that.

But looking at the last few months, the absolute unbelievable things that have happened.  I still can’t wrap my head around all of it.  I’m not sure it’s possible to right now.

One day, I hope that all of this makes sense.  It is my hope and my faith that all of it will.

But I will also say that this just sucks right now.  All of it.

Ok, I take that back.  Not all of it.  Because, let me tell you what else happened.  I needed to get out of Dodge for a few days.  So…I went to visit my brother.  He and I had conversations that we have needed to have for many years.  Conversations that he certainly wasn’t ready to have before.  But, we finally had them.  And I can’t say that I walked away smiling.  In fact, I may have referred to part of the conversation as the final nail in the coffin that I really am here alone, because he wants no part in helping care for our family.  But actually having the conversation was a step forward for us.

I cannot, nor will I, say that I’m in a great place right now.

But what I can finally say is that I know my worth.  And even though that is a HUGE burden to carry at times, I know my worth.

And that, my friends, is a start.

The Mysterious Ways God Works

I have had an absolutely weird, surreal week.

As adults, my brother and I have little in common, other than our shared DNA.  To be honest, we are alike, but we are drastically different.  We have different interests.  We have very different personalities.  And for the last 8 years or so, we haven’t had much of a relationship, at all.

I am a firm believer that no matter what connection you have with someone, like being family, you do not have to keep them close in your life if they aren’t healthy for you.

For a long time, this was my brother.

Whether he realized it or not, something shifted in how he perceived me, and he started out just being cold or rude.  This came to a head at a family dinner, where my entire family, and his now ex-wife’s family were all in attendance.  He got drunk, and started yelling at me, and calling me stupid.

I was done.

My parents continued to urge me to try to work on things between us.  And I tried for a really long time.  I did.  I put all of the effort into it.

I got little to no response.  And it certainly didn’t get any better.

Holiday’s were awkward.

And I finally realized something huge.  I wasn’t the one that broke our relationship, so I couldn’t be the one to mend our relationship.

A year ago, he announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce.  So I once again tried.  I didn’t get much of a response.

But he did at least ask our parents about me sometimes.

I finally got over myself, and decided to go with my parents for a visit, something I had not done in 7 years.

And, though still awkward, things were getting marginally better.

He actually asked if I would be able to take a day off work to spend a long weekend with he and my parents in December for Christmas.  And because he was the one that actually asked, I did.

We have yet, even to this day, to discuss what has separated us.  But, for now, I’m letting that sit off to the side, and just try to be there for him.  Mentally, at this point, he isn’t capable of having those kinds of conversations yet.

But then, we’re getting to how God can just work in mysterious ways.  Ways that I don’t always agree with.  But I put a great deal of faith and trust in how God is making all of these things work, and I’m rolling with it.

So…get this.

He fell and broke his knee (patella).  Broke it badly enough that he needed surgery.

Initially, my dad planned to fly in to take care of him.  But he would need to fly back pronto, because they had appointments that needed to happen.  Being the fantastic daughter I am, I offered to fly to Florida to hang out with my mom while he went to take care of my brother.  He then told me he would rather I go to take care of my brother, and he stay where he is.

So, that’s a firm no on me going to Florida.

Drat.

I did tell my dad, however, that if needed I would go take care of my brother.

Fast forward a couple of hours, and we find out what day surgery is scheduled for.  Which makes it even worse for my parents schedule.  And my brother calls me.

We talk.  We talk about whether or not I would even be able to take time off work.  Which, thanks to a “family first” attitude with the school I work at, it was no problem.

So I agreed to go take my brother to have surgery, and hang out and take care of him for a few days.

I briefly thought that I had lost my mind.  Which, realistically, is possible.

But at the same time, he IS still my brother.  And I might not like him all the time, but I do still love him.

I didn’t really sleep well after agreeing to go.  And my nerves were so bad that I thought I really might vomit.

So I get that God works in mysterious ways and all, but THIS???  This is absurd.

Right?

But I went.

And it’s still rather awkward between he and I.  We literally had not spent ANY time alone, without our parents for some type of buffer, in many, MANY years.  But we managed.  We actually talked.  He finally got over trying to be a good host, and actually let me help him.  And we acquired some funny stories along the way.

Ok, one of them he totally doesn’t know about because I didn’t want him to worry.

You know how I told you that in some ways, we are alike?  Well, being a klutz is one of those things we have in common.  Last fall, he was making salsa, and sliced the palm of his hand open.  Last Monday, I sliced my palm open while un-packaging my new flatware.

We compared – though they are on opposite hands, they are identical scars.

The story gets better, don’t worry…

So…Thursday.  Surgery day.

He, obviously, cannot eat anything.  So I ordered take-out from the restaurant down the street.  I was walking across the parking lot to pick up my food, and I trip.  And I fall.  And I bust the cut open on my hand, and I knew I had done some damage to my knees.  I had so much adrenaline coursing through my body, I thought I was going to pass out.

I texted my dad, and told him.  But I also told him I wouldn’t be telling my brother about it.  I didn’t want to worry him any more than he already was.

Both knees are pretty torn up, road rash, bruises.  They’re pretty.  But fortunately, the damage ends there.

This literally was an HOUR before we had to leave for the hospital.

I slapped some bandaids on my knees, and away we went.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but someone with a broken patella, in a full leg splint, needs some help getting in and out of a wheelchair.  And with some laser guided precision, every single time he had to get up or down, he smacked my knees.

Still didn’t tell him what happened.

It turns out, surgery went great.  They were able to just remove some of the shattered bone, so he doesn’t have hardware in his knee (lucky guy).  I impressed his Orthopedic Surgeon with my vast medical knowledge.  Not because I’m in healthcare, but because I’m klutzy, and I have a lot of experience.

It was a very long day in the hospital.  And he spent the night.

But he realized that my experience and knowledge of having broken bones, and sitting around while other people have surgery, can actually come in handy.

He was able to come home the following morning.  And things were still going well.

I left after a couple of days.  He can physically get around just fine, fine enough, at least.  And I helped get things situated for him while I was there.  He relied on me to help him.

And, let’s just say, the whole helping him having surgery led to a greater sibling bond (because you have to do some weird, helpful things) that neither of us was really prepared for.  And we’ll probably never discuss ever again.

But here’s my big take away…

God works in mysterious ways.  In ways that we cannot even begin to fathom.  He works for people who don’t even believe in Him (like my brother).

I knew that many, MANY people were praying for our situation.  And throughout the past week, I have felt that prayer go with me each and every step of the way.

Life rarely goes the way that we think it should.  And bad things happen all the time.  But God truly does have a plan for our lives.  Though it often takes far longer and down paths we never expected to take, God can bring us through anything.

The Beautiful Gift

Now that we are far enough removed from Valentine’s Day, I can tell you my story.

Let me preface this story with a little background information about me.

I hate Valentine’s Day.  And not just because I’m single.  I hate Valentine’s Day probably even more when I’m in a relationship.

But I have a good reason, I promise.

My reasoning is this:  I would much rather you do something nice or special, completely out of the blue, than on a made up holiday when all of the commercials tell you to do something nice.

If you can’t be a decent human being the other 364 days a year, please, don’t act like you are one on Valentine’s Day.

That being said, I am open-minded enough to allow for the possibility (hope, even) that there might be some guy out there willing to actually treat me how I should be treated on the other 364 days a year for me not to grimace on Valentine’s Day.

But what I’m telling you right now, is that I have not experienced it in my lifetime.

I’m getting off track.

This is why I don’t like talking about Valentine’s Day to begin with.  I get off on that (^^^) tangent.

Anyway…

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I was in the kitchen at school.  Doing one of my absolute most favorite things of the day.  I get to greet every single student that comes through the kitchen with a smile and a “good morning.”

And on this particular day, one of my students comes through the line, and tells me that she has something for me.

I’m going to be really honest, I was a little nervous.  Let’s just say that teenagers do not always have the best intentions behind that statement.

Fortunately, in this case, the intent was pure and honest and joyful.

She brought me a card, for Valentine’s Day.

That wasn’t really the gift.  Let’s be honest, the card was something that they found on sale.  A card that has the dreaded glitter all over it.  It was just a piece of paper.

The real gift was her giving me the card.

Many of my students don’t have much.  They come from low income families, and sometimes from families who do use the meager income for other than honorable purposes.

So for one of these students to be able to give a gift of, well, anything, is HUGE.

But the look on her face, the smile, the pure JOY on this girls face the moment she was able to hand me that card, now THAT was the real gift.

That is the gift that I see every single time I see the card, which, is still taped to my desk.

That is a precious gift that is priceless.

This beautiful child that was over the moon ecstatic over being able to give a few of us a card.

Now that is a gift that is going to be difficult to beat moving forward.

Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

Why? So That…

I had an interesting experience this week.

I interviewed for a job.

Not to change jobs, but more to add something to my already rather full plate.  But even though my plate is already quite full, when an opportunity comes up that has been on my mind for quite some time, I would be foolish not to go for it.

As I applied, I put it all in God’s hands.  Truth be told, from the moment that this particular position came to mind, I have left it in God’s hands.  Because, even though this would be a really cool thing, I know that if it isn’t in God’s plan for my life, then it will not happen.  And I will be ok with that.

To be honest, knowing that I’m doing my part to be willing, and leaving the rest up to God has given me a sense of ease and peace throughout the entire process.

So here’s the deal:

I suck at interviews.

Seriously.

Historically, I just have not been capable of presenting myself in the best way possible.  I get nervous, and even more awkward than normal.  And it’s just a flop.

I walk away feeling dejected, because deep down, I know that I just blew it.

So, to say that a great deal of prayer happened before this interview is an understatement.

My prayers basically went something like this:

God, give me the words.

And guess what?

He did!

But that’s not even close to the best part.  Because, I walked away from the interview knowing that I wasn’t the best candidate.  Not that I wouldn’t be amazing.  But I know that I am not the best candidate that they are interviewing.  I’m far from the most qualified.  I don’t have the experience.

There is a 99.99% chance that I will not be getting this job.

But I walked out of that interview with a huge amount of satisfaction about my part of the interview.

And we’re finally closing in on why this was such an amazing experience…I promise.

The person who interviewed me is someone I have known nearly my entire life.  She was one of my teachers growing up.  And I have worked with her, and for her now for almost 3 years.  But even with such a long history, she didn’t know me all that well.

She laughed at the fact that she asks everyone the same questions, to keep the playing field even.  She asked me to tell her about myself.  And as soon as I started talking about myself, and some of the things that I did after high school, her jaw hit the floor.  So in asking the question that she felt foolish asking, she found out a lot more about me.  In a really good way.  She didn’t realize that I had moved half way across the country.  Or why I made the decision to move back home.

She definitely didn’t realize that one of my most memorable moments growing up came during one of her classes.

But here is the really cool thing…

We talked about my motivation for applying for this job.

Which led to my motivation for doing many of the things that I do.

And that specific motivation has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why do I do the things that I do?

What is the outcome that I hope to get from doing the thing that I do?

To the point where I have written the following on my desk calendar at school:

20200131_105545.jpg

I did this so every single time I look at this, my own personal motivations come to mind.

Why?

Well it certainly isn’t money.  As I stated in my interview, if money were my greatest motivation, I would go down the street and work at McDonald’s because I would make more money.

Would a larger salary be nice?  Yes, yes it would.  To add a little more cushion to bank account.  So I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for some help and support.  Yes, that would be fantastic.

But I do love my job.

So what is my motivation?  Besides the fact that this is where God has placed me for right now.

The “why” that I bring to work every day, the “why” that I take with me to youth group every week, is that I want to be able to give the kiddos that I work with something that I didn’t have growing up.

Yes, I had amazing parents.  I had youth group.  I had people that care about me.

What I didn’t have was the self-confidence in myself.  Nor did I have a firm understanding of who God was.  Or who I was to God.

So that…

So what is my expected outcome?  What is my goal?  What purpose could I possibly have in doing the things that I do?

I want these kids to be able to stand firm in their faith.  I want them to turn to God when times get tough.  Not to turn their back on their faith when life gets real, and things get hard.

I made bad, really stupid mistakes growing up.  I made bad, really stupid mistakes as an adult, too.

I want better for the people around me.  So they don’t go through the same struggles that I went through.

Because I truly believe that even though used the free will that God gave me to not just turn my back on Him and run away.  I lashed out.  I swore up and down countless times that there couldn’t possibly be a God.

I was dumb.  I was selfish.

Even though I did a lot of things that God isn’t thrilled about, I believe that He can turn all of those mistakes around, and use all of them for something positive.

And it isn’t just that he can use all of those stupid mistakes.

He is using them.

 

Self-Care

Have you ever paused a moment, and realized that even though you know what you need to do, you’re not doing it?

I’m rather annoyed with myself, because that’s exactly where I am right now.

I have willingly accepted taking on much more stress and responsibility.  Because I’m removing it from someone else’s shoulders, temporarily.  Because they need the break.  They deserve the break.

So, I figure for 3 months, I can handle some extra responsibility.

Except, I made a fatal flaw.

I failed to mentally and emotionally prepare to handle all of this additional stress.  And I allowed the stress to overwhelm me.

How incredibly easy does this happen to all of us?  We allow the external forces in our lives take over, and we, quite literally, lose our dadgum minds.  We don’t allow the stress to be managed in a healthy and appropriate way, and we get sick (which I did) and grumpy (that definitely happened).

And then, inevitably, we end up wallowing in self-pity.

Ok, maybe I wasn’t so much wallowing in self-pity so much as I let the grumpiness seep through every aspect of my life.  I let that take over, and I just had a bad attitude about, well, lots of things.  I had a bad attitude at God.  God, why am I going through this? God, why do I feel like this? God, why aren’t things just working out how they are supposed to? God, why don’t people just do the things they’re supposed to do?

Basically, the long list of questions I was asking God, and having a bad attitude toward was really my own fault.  Because…I didn’t do the thing I knew I was supposed to do.

SAID that I had all of my trust in God.

But what I really meant is that God is totally in charge, but I’m still going to worry about it, and tell God how I want Him to handle my problem.

Ok, so now that I know all of that, and I have realized all of that…I can move forward.

First, I can now channel some of the stress that I am feeling into a more positive way.

Second, I can change my attitude.

I got smacked in the face the other day while reading my Bible.  The words took a running jump off the page and smacked me in the face.  This thing made me realize that I was screwing up in a major way.

I stopped praising and thanking God for the things in my life.

I was still talking to God…about everything.  But my attitude toward Him while we were talking just stunk.  I had a great deal of stinkin’ thinkin’ going on.  And I was whining and complaining to God about all of the things in my life.  And while I said I was grateful and thankful…my attitude clearly showed that I was not.

Now, though I am not 100% cured of my negative Nancy-ness…I’m getting there.  Though the stress and the worry are still there, the burden upon my shoulders is much less.

I have even started thinking that I am grateful for the stress.  Because God has placed me in a position to be able to help.  This thing right now, it’s a blessing.

I know, without a doubt, I will one day look back and say I’m glad I did this.  I’m glad I got to spend the time doing this.

I.  Am.  Grateful.

I’m Not OK…

…but I will be.

This has basically been my theme for the past couple of days.

At the moment, I feel a great deal of stress, because there is just a lot on my plate right now.

Ok, and some of that stress is because I’m worrying about something that I just absolutely cannot do one thing to change the situation.  And though I am working to let go of the worry there, stuff is still happening.  A crisis point is coming.  And I know I will have to help pick up the pieces.

Do you ever get to the point when you just have a lot going on, and it seems like all of the stress and weight that you have been managing to carry, suddenly weighs twice as much?

I hit that point yesterday morning.

I feel like the burden that I’m carrying is all my own.  I have no one else to share this with.  Not really.

And with that stress, I went down the rabbit hole of feeling like I am terribly alone in the world.  I have wonderful parents.  And I have wonderful friends.

But then I also got to thinking about something else.  The last time I hugged someone was when I hugged my parents as I was leaving Florida.  On December 27.

Ok, I have students (one in particular) that want to hug me.  But, uh, no thank you.

I struggle, sometimes (often), with sharing some of these feelings with my friends.  Not that I’m ashamed of those feelings.  But I worry that their response will be one of pity.  That they would hug me, just because I’m feeling sorry for myself.  And not just, well, because.

Maybe the reason that happens shouldn’t matter.  But to me, it does.

Though, I don’t have any life altering insight at this point, I know one thing for certain.  No matter how difficult it is for me to wait, to experience the waiting, the impatience, the fear, the grief – all of it – no matter how difficult that is, I’m not giving up on God.

I may want to sometimes.

I may (definitely do) struggle with having a decent attitude while I’m waiting.

But I trust God to have a perfect plan for all of this.

I have hope that God will answer all of this in His own perfect timing.

And I have faith that all of this truly is for a purpose.

Until then, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I keep adding one more prayer on top of another.

It’s all I can do.

New Year, New Fret

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t because historically, most resolutions fail.

In an epic way.

So I don’t make them.

I also believe that if I am going to try to improve myself, I don’t need the turn of a calendar page to make that decision.

But as the end of 2019 approached, I had an overwhelming sense of unease.  And I couldn’t really quite put my finger on it for a long time.

Until I did.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

The fear, the trepidation, the unease was because I was worried that 2020 still will not be the year that things happen for the better.  That I still won’t find that perfect guy God has all picked out for me.  That I won’t make some huge breakthrough on what it is God wants me to do with my life.  That I won’t feel like a success, yet again.

The answer to all of this, that I am still finding it difficult to accept is that no matter what this year brings, God will get me through.

Deep down, I know that I will be just fine, and that even if all of those things do not end up happening this year, God’s perfect plan for my life will still be playing out.

I know that.  Of course I know that.

But the longing for all of those things is still there.

So, of course, God has to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading my Bible this morning.

“Ahem, *cough, cough* this is for you, my dear.”

I was reading Psalms 37.  And in Psalms 37, David, yet again, perfectly describes the anguish that we, as humans, often feel.  And then he directly follows it up with what we, as Christians should do.

“Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.”
Psalms 37:34

Basically, there is a huge amount of wisdom in Psalms 37.  How we shouldn’t look at what evil people (people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason) who end up succeeding, temporarily, with envy.  Not to look at them and wish that we had their successes.  Because in the end, their successes will be revealed to be ultimate failures, as they don’t get to share in the eternal prize of Heaven.

It’s difficult to do.

Because we know that their success is a result of evil things.  Evil intent.  Evil purpose.  And often, those people don’t care who they run over to accomplish their goals.  But the results of some of those evil things look oh so tempting.

I get it.

But we must keep our eye on the true prize.  The prize that gets us eternity in Heaven with our Father.

And until then, keep relying on His strength, guidance, mercy, grace.

And hope in the Lord, and keep His ways.

Round 2

Approximately 10 years ago, I realized that I was in round 2 (sometimes round 3) of dating.  Meaning, a large percentage of the dating pool I am in has already been married.  And many of those people also have children.  As a result, I made the conscious decision that I was going to accept the fact that any relationship I end up in may also have kiddos.

And I have subsequently dated men who have children.

Personally, I love children.

But there is a dangerous and frustrating trend happening.

Instead of focusing on finding someone to build a relationship and life with, men are overwhelmed by single parenting, and focus more on finding a person that is willing to be a mother to their children.

Disclaimer, before you decent guys out there get your panties in a bunch: I understand that this is not ALL men.  But there are definitely men out there that fall into this category.  Trust me, I’ve dated them.

Disclaimer #2: I absolutely believe that the children in this equation are vitally important, and what is best for them should be considered.

Ok, now that we have those issues cleared up, let me get on with my point.

In any discipleship training I have been through, and relationships are truly and Biblically discussed, the order goes as such:

God.

Spouse.

Children.

Everyone else.

A wise friend (and if you tell him I called him that, I will flat out deny it) was once telling me about his explanation to his daughter on how to find an appropriate guy to date.

Find someone who loves God more than they love you, and you will never have to worry about being treated how you deserve to be treated.

This. Is. What. Everyone. Needs. To. Know.

The main issue I have personally had in dating is that I didn’t follow this rule.  Have I dated Christian men?  Absolutely.  Have I dated Christian men who followed this principle?  Absolutely not.

There is a difference.

There is a HUGE difference.

In the past, there are a couple misconceptions that I believed about dating.  First, that a man that truly loves God more than they love me doesn’t exist.  I do believe that those men are few and far between (in the dating range that I’m in, because many of those men are already married).  Second, that I didn’t deserve a man like that.

Both are false.

I know that now.

So here’s the thing…relationships are tough.  Building a relationship where children are involved are really tough.  And sometimes, the focus is out of place.  Putting children above trying to build a decent, God centered relationship is going to fail.  When you put children in place of God as the center, you are focusing on the wrong thing.

But when God is the center of your relationship, together we will build a relationship that will thrive.  And when the adults are focusing on God, and pursuing God’s path in their life, and in how they treat other people, the relationship will be solid.  And once that relationship is solid, the children won’t be an issue.  Why?  Because when a solid relationship is built with God at the center, I am going to treat you how God wants me to treat you, and I am also going to treat your children how God wants me to treat them.

Plain.  And.  Simple.

Dear Tom Hanks,

As a long time fan of basically anything that has Tom Hanks associated with it, I appreciate how he has made the world a far brighter place.

tom hanks hello GIF

And I’m not talking about his acting, directing, or producing skills.

Nope.  Not at all.

Those things help.

I was far too young when I first watched Big (though I still absolutely loved it).  And Turner and Hooch will hold a special place in my heart.  Though Cheese the dog is banned from ever watching the movie.  And then as I got older, the movies just kept getting better and better and better.  Where he and Meg Ryan had a continued love affair through Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail.  And then let’s just not even go in depth and my love and appreciate for the uber nerd (from one nerd to another) with how focused and meticulous any war movie ends up being.  Band of Brothers was the first movie(ish) thing that made me ugly cry.  And continues to do so to this day.

think tom hanks GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

So basically, I will just willingly throw all of my money at anything that has Tom Hanks involved.

ready tom hanks GIF

But do you know much about the man (the myth, the legend)?

Tom Hanks is notoriously kind and generous.  From a seemingly infinite set of stories of fans that have met him.  Or people who he has worked with.  Kind and generous are always paramount.

He recently read a series of tweets where he commented on how kind and generous other people had been.  Highlighting that there is, in fact, kindness in our cruel world.

Because, in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our schools, we have a problem.  We have a problem of the heart.  Yes, you can blame it on guns, or violence, or the Democrats, or the Republicans.  You can blame it on the fact that I love the color pink, but you don’t.  On the fact that I believe something that you don’t.  And because we have different beliefs, I have to hate you, because you’re different.

What all of that boils down to is one thing.  One thing only.

The heart.

At some point in history, and everyone is probably going to have a different opinion on this.  And because everyone is going to have a different opinion on this, I’m not going to pinpoint one specific thing.  Because that isn’t the point here.  What is the point is that at some point in our history we decided that hate was going to win.

Ok, maybe it was less of a cognitive decision and more of a we knuckle under because the overwhelming amount of hate that was being thrown in our direction could only be combated with even more hatred.

Right?

Wrong.

That isn’t going to solve anything.  That’s going to exponentially make matters much worse.

But somewhere along the line, we decided that if someone was going to be evil and ugly to me, we would respond in kind.

Dear friends, there is a solution to this awful situation that we are ensconced in.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely yes.

Yes!

Be a little bit more like Tom Hanks.

Do you want to stop school shootings?  Do you want to stop domestic violence?  Do you want to stop the social media based civil war that this country is in the middle of?

Fix the heart issue.

If you fix the heart issue, all of the other issues just cease to exist.  Because instead of spewing negativity and hatred towards one another, we send out love and generosity and kindness and open mindedness.

Does this mean that we all need to agree on, well, everything?

Absolutely not.

But guess what?

THAT’S OK!

Because we don’t have to agree on every single thing to be kind to one another.

It’s as simple as that.

Be.  Kind.

Always.