Inspiration, Reflection

Time to Serve Only You

One of the hardest things for me to do is to ask for something for myself because after I ask, I feel selfish.  In the era I grew up, women were taught to be “quiet about” the things that they could do better than a man. We were put in our places, told that we had a place along side a man, but certainly never in front of one.  Biblically we were taught that a woman’s place is in supporting her husband. The community of men aspired to get that message out to every single woman.  So, when it came time for me to want a little alone time (something every human on the planet SHOULD have) I felt selfish.

Today, I sit here knowing that after 3 harsh months of school, activities, behavior modification for the kids, husband schedules, date nights, friends, family, and my adult children I feel horrible that this is the first day I got to sleep in. What’s going through my mind? The numerous things I SHOULD be doing not the numerous things I COULD be doing. Instead of taking the day off for me, or carving out some much needed writing time, in my head is a laundry list of items that still need checked off.  “Ortho appointment for the eldest.” Check.  “Dry cleaning for my husband.” Check. “Pick up kids at three separate times.” Check. “Plan dinner so husband isn’t mad.” Check. “Take dog for grooming.” Check… and the list goes on and on. So much so that I honestly do not have two consecutive hours of my own.  There’s no time between travel and duty.

Nights offer no downtime because the kids are old enough to go to be at 10 o’ clock.  So after dinner, homework, activities and being available to “look at” my husband as I listen while he talks, there is no room to escape for some me time.  Life becomes all about pleasing someone else, and the more you do, the more they have no concept of the lengths that you go to make them feel included, happy, fulfilled; until you’re brain is completely fried and you’re an empty shell.  It’s a mother’s life and we have all felt those moments from time to time.  Serving other’s is a powerful gift, but when is it time to serve yourself?

My advice, is to do it. It’s that simple. Put off the chores and take a day off.  Go do whatever it is that fills your cup.  Whatever brings you a blissful moment.  If you have to ask in advance, stop beating yourself up. Your husband clocks out. Your kids some home. Your friends can wait.  You never clock out. You keep going like that annoying pink Energizer rabbit.  It’s time to replenish the batteries and NOT feel guilty for it.

Psychology today says, “Being alone allows you to drop your “social guard”, thus giving you the freedom to be introspective, to think for yourself. You may be able to make better choices and decisions about who you are and what you want without outside influence. Often, we are swayed by the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of those in our immediate sphere. Of course, you may ask others for their advice and opinions but ultimately, consulting yourself and making up your own mind about what you want to do will lead you into the life that’s best for you.”

Don’t wait. Make today great. Make it about you.  It’s normal and it’s so very necessary. For me? I am going to Louisiana to see my adult kids for one weekend. I’m leaving behind the people who need me the most so that I can gain a newer perspective about where I should lead them, about how much patience I should have and maybe gain some joy along my journey.  Just a moment of peace.  That’s all I ask. For me.

Inspiration

God in Motion – A Heartfelt Thank You!

Jennifer, my sister-in-law and I are best friends. We’ve been besties for over twenty years. When she got sick five years ago, I was devastated. She endured two years of testing only to be completely frustrated. because the doctors she was seeing “knew there was a carcinoma, but couldn’t find it.” She knew something was wrong. Two years later, in the wake of immense pain in her abdomen, she learned that she had liver cancer. The doctors believed it was metastasized from another type of cancer so they asked Jen at the age of forty-five if she’d ever had a mammogram. She replied “No.” The doctors never asked for that test. It was then when she learned she had stage four breast, pelvic, and liver metastasized cancers.

The family was devastated, but her doctor, Dr. Trumbly, was ready to do whatever he could to make certain that she lived a long life. He has gone above and beyond with every newest treatment known to cure her. Unfortunately, after winning the battle twice, Jennifer is now at the end of a very difficult struggle.

Jennifer is a widow. Her husband Dwight found out that he had stage four colon cancer within the two weeks she was diagnosed. In March 2015, Dwight lost his hard fought battle for life. They have three beautiful children. Brandon is thirteen. Sami is eleven and Laura is ten. The children are exceptionally normal kids considering both their parents have been sick for three years.

Jennifer, Dwight and the kids are all steadfast believers. They love the Lord. As a result of their faithfulness, Jennifer has remained hopeful about her condition and positive towards her children. So much so, that I was afraid she may not fully comprehend the seriousness of her condition. However, last night I had a rare unique opportunity to witness God in motion.

When Jen gets an infection it affects the cancer now growing in her brain. The drugs are ineffective in crossing the blood barrier between the body and the brain. Upon visits for three days I felt that Jennifer’s rapid decline in cognitive ability meant she has another infection. I called Dr. Trumbly immediately and we admitted her in the ER yesterday. It may seem like I am rambling, because most of you already know the situation. She’s been so publicly transparent about her struggle. Hopefully in an effort to motivate other’s into a faithful path. Nonetheless, I promise if you bear with me I will make a point that just might touch your heart too today.

I’m sitting in the emergency room with her and I notice that all the men and women who are there know her. They’re alarmed at her confusion. They begin in unison as if she’s been there a hundred times. They’ve wheeled in the Cat Scans. (She’s completely immobile.) They have the best blood-extracting nurse on the floor in to get some. (She bruises easy.) They’re wheeling and dealing all the while laughing and joking with her. They like her! She’s responding with laughter and joking and cutting up. It was quite a sight to see. She’s comfortable!

When they leave the room, she cries. I stand next to her as her hands cover her eyes. She’s scared, and she lowers them long enough to whisper through her tears, “I need you.” I touch her hand and I tell her that they’re going to find out why she’s so confused. This isn’t the end. I’m trying to smooth it over. Just like the song. It doesn’t work. She knows better. She says, “I’m so mad at you. This is me! Don’t lie to me.” You see, she knows me. We’re best friends. I know her and she knows how I handle difficulty. “It’s okay to hurt,” she says. And I do. Tears fill my eyes, but darn it as long as I’m in public I have a hard time crying! So I don’t let them fall. “You’re too tough!” She hisses. “Come on over to the love side.” And then someone comes in, and her tears are wiped away.

I sit in the chair and listen as if I am watching a heartwarming movie. I’m afraid too. I don’t want to lose her! I don’t know if it’s just an infection. I’m thinking “Oh God. What if this is it?! What do I need to do.” Unfortunately for me, everything I feel/think/process streams on my face. She notices.

The internal doctor comes over to introduce himself to me and asks what I think might be causing it. I told him about the discussion with Trumbly and that the doc thinks she has an infection somewhere. He concurs. I feel better! “So, she’ll get better?” I plead.

“Yes, she probably will in a few days. We’ll get our Jennifer back.” His Jennifer?! Yeah buddy! They’re emotionally invested. I am seeing the first of many good signs “God’s got this.” They decide to admit her.

I met them upstairs and before I got to the room at least twenty nurses and doctors and techs were saying hello to her. She’s commanding attention and doesn’t have a clue what she’s saying or what they’re saying, but they don’t care! One by one; patient, kind and considerate people are saying hello through bright shiny white smiles. They’re happy to see her. That’s the second sign of God. It brings a sense of stillness to her anxiety. She’s beginning to calm down a bit.

Once they took vitals and poked and prodded, we settled in. I wanted to go to this Plano Moms book club I’ve been looking so forward to all month. I was so excited to talk about the book, The Good Girl. I have never ready anything like that. I transgress. Anyway, I tell her I need to go. She won’t have it! She says, “Hey, I haven’t had anything to eat, so order me something.” It’s getting late and they’ve stopped serving food at the hospital so I agree. It’s almost 7 o’clock when I am supposed to be at the Club. I call Scott, (my husband) and tell him I’m not able to go. I need him to get to the kids and make sure they have dinner. He agrees, and I settle in with Jen.

I’m disappointed. I don’t know why?! I feel guilty. I know I am exactly right where I need to be, but part of me is frustrated after a long tumultuous day. I sigh heavily. I sit in the chair and begin to give everyone text updates. I cancel the orders for the next day to transport her to the new residence she was going to. I call the facility owner, I inform the family she will probably be okay and talk to the kids about what is expected of them for the evening. Scott won’t be there until 7 o’clock. Brandon, the oldest kicks into gear and cooks mac and cheese for them. He empties the dishwasher, feeds the dog and makes sure the girls are showered. It’s picture day Wednesday. What a guy! Thirteen and already a fine young man! That’s the third sign of God.

Jen gets her food and calls me over. She says, “I’m mad at you. I miss you.” She cries again. “I never get girl time anymore. I’ve ruined your life!” Now she’s sobbing and can barely ask, “Can you just stay with me?”

“The kids are not ruining my life!” I softly shout. It’s time. I can tell you that I am tough. She knows it. Anyone who knows me knows it. I’ve spent the whole day frustrated and angry about not being able to get things done and feeling so helpless. I don’t know if you know my story but I’ve had a life filled with obstacles of my own. I’ve been raped, and beaten. I’ve been through a terrible accident that took the life of my unborn child. I’ve lived through a fire that took all my belongings and almost my life. I’ve been so poor I haven’t had hot running water. I’ve been homeless. I have witnessed those I love die. I survived ten surgeries of my own. To say I am tough doesn’t measure the reality that little can make me break. But at that moment I broke! I let the tears fall. I grasped her hand and held it in mine and we both sobbed together.

She wipes her eyes and tells me, “If this is it, I want you to be okay. I know it’s the end of my journey.” That’s what she calls it. I find that so faithful don’t you? She never says, “I’m dying,” because she believes she’s passing on to Heaven and that this is not the end. I don’t correct her this time. She hasn’t been able to come to grips with the fact that she’s losing this fight. For a brief moment she’s Jen. She’s clear. She says, “I know I am going to be alright, because I can watch my children from heaven. I have to learn to let go and I’m getting that now.”

I’m crying writing this today. Not because it makes me sad. Oh no, she wouldn’t have that! I’m in tears because she is at peace. She knows she’s headed to Heaven. She knows he’s got her kids by placing them in my hands. I’ve got this! God’s prepared me in the face of all the human unkindness I’ve suffered. He’s kept me protected, and he’s given me joy in the face of the horribleness I had to endure. I’m crying because I know why I stayed strong. Why I never got lost in my own sadness. Why I didn’t take my own life at the low points. He made me strong so I could sit in that very moment and help her tears fall. So I could help her know how much I love her! How valuable her life is. How she threw a pebble and how that rippled a community’s love to grow. I reminded her.

I’m at peace, because we finished crying. Then we reminisced about funny things long past. We talked for hours. She’s still confused, but it was the best few hours I’ve spent in a long time. We had a girl’s night last night. It was EPIC! Something I won’t forget anytime soon. If you ask me about it, I may tear up, but I process these things well, so just expect I’ll be fine. After all, it’s really not about me; it’s all about her. I’m so very relieved that God has worked such miracles in her life, and that she sees them. I’m touched that he chose me to care for those precious children! I’m humbled more than any words can possibly convey to you how restored my faith is in humanity because of the kindness of everyone who has come to know Jennifer. I cannot thank everyone enough on all of our behalf for the generosity, the kindness, the prayers and all the empathy that everyone has shown. I don’t know if the words I write today will be able to convey how thankful the family is that friends and family alike have made such an impact. I will thank you, although I will never really truly feel that is enough. Thank you. The ripples from her pebble have filled our sea. I’ve witnessed God in motion.

Inspiration

Convictions or Rationalization for Condemning?

Last week I commented to a friend on a post she made on Facebook.  Instantly I was berated for my opinion.  By that word I mean told that my understanding was not based by the heart but merely by the perceptions I merely thought.  After a long banter back and forth of me trying to help the offended understand my intent, the dialog never really made it past an agreement to disagree. Further the offended, nonetheless without evidence except absence, is still somewhat concerned that their interpretation of my actions are not only just; but they’re tantalizing the thought of severing any kind of kinship with me whatsoever, because of the inference.  I find this disturbing.

The opposition was whether or not we have a right to form a working hypothesis about a group of individuals or behavior.  My position is that we not only have the right to form conclusions and thereby our convictions, and the opponent view was that in doing so; I am condemning without the benefit of concern or kindness.  In other words I was putting myself above another human being in their eyes and not putting the regard/respect of any individual’s right to determine his or her own faith above my judgment.

My thoughts are ever processing because it is very important to me that others see my heart despite the things I’ve learned to be true; such as people are both good and evil. Relationships are tricky because people always get disappointed in them.  Love sometimes hurts because nothing is great forever.  These absolute statements are the much formed opinions that I own due to my experiences.  They’re working hypothesis after years of studying the human behaviors that to this day I find confusing because others do not react, create, or act in the same ways in which I would. It takes me a long time to compartmentalize behaviors that I find offensive and put them in a context that I am able to conceptualize without feeling wounded by them.  I’ve learned sometimes people are cruel.

Despite that I tout that forgiveness is the only way to break the bondage of pain.  That a good heart is better than a great mind. That life without the blessings of being loved isn’t worth much or several cliché’s I am sure that you randomly get tagged with on Facebook. That’s how I genuinely believe.  I possess the gift of inspiration.  Whether it’s inspiring others to think of their own actions or offending them in such a way that they hold me accountable for mine. I inspire action.

Then I have to ask myself why is it that none of that mattered in the conversation. My conclusion? The offended didn’t really read about me. They don’t know my path or the great lengths I have taken to sacrifice my own happiness for the betterment of another.  They do not know of my years with women who were beaten. Nor do they know that I mentored many women and men through the years or even that I hold two masters degrees and one of those is in behavioral science. So how do you respond to a person who is so appalled by your proclamation that they cannot see past the offense? I have to question.

It is true that my convictions will not change the offended’s principals. It is true that theirs will not negate my own.  How do we get to a common denominator? Here’s what I know to be true.  With that being said, I am highly aware that my truth is NOT the same as another’s.  It is my conclusions of the experiences and inference to the data I have been subjected to all these years and it is in those convictions that I find myself defending.

I think it’s important to pause to understand how the things we say impact others. I think it’s further detrimental when one of those people tell us how they’ve been damaged.  It’s a responsibility to determine the facts presented and if ones actions have been faltering in the principals or beliefs behind the person, altered in such a way that it does not offend.

It is true that I believe in God. I believe that the teachings set forth by our great Lord are there because they are applicable to all people on this earth. It’s hard to negotiate that with someone who proclaims themselves to be an atheist but that goes back to a fundamental belief system that I wholly agree is non-negotiable.  It is in that reverent believe where my opinions of right and wrong principals are born.  Add some experience and education to the soup mix and you have the confidence to birth a conviction.

Promiscuity as I know it to be several indiscriminate partners; and as Physiology today claims it as the epidemic of anti social behavior I am perplexed why one would not understand why the conclusion to that argument is made. Further one could argue why they could not come to a conclusion.  The answer? Conviction becomes action and that has proven to be horrific for the community ethically and legally.  Now, we’re getting into the brass of it.

My understanding is that I have not condemned one for their promiscuity. I have in fact taken women and men into my home and given them rest. I have given counseling, and I have picked up the broken pieces of many who choose this life. I understand it. I don’t agree that’s it’s okay to live one’s life that way because I have been witness to the aftereffects many times over; first hand.  It breaks my heart that it is so ramped here in America and it a true cultural issue.

The offended understanding is that by concluding that there is a sense of brokenness or damage implies that the person making a choice for indiscriminate partners has his or her own mind and is making that choice. That choice should be done so without contempt, judgment, and or labeling.  No one has the right to form a conclusion because it takes the power away from the person making the choice to step outside the social boundaries of religion and social norms.  That’s a very strong argument.  One that should be considered.

Is the word “judgment” become a slanderous word by putting down to elevate oneself? In this case, I felt that “judgment” was conviction to assist where needed by applying scientific and physical evidence to the claim that people of this lifestyle were broken. Were my convictions simply a rationalization so that I can feel better about providing my time and effort?  I think not…but how does the other person feel about that?

My question to you is this. If you judge something you know to be true are you condemning it or are you concluding your findings? Food for thought. Would love it if you responded.