Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sinker? Slider? Curve?

Looking for a Home-run?
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the World Series this year.  I have never been a fan of watching professional sports.  I make plans to watch the Superbowl when it is on, but I don't truly follow any one team.  I only watch professional basketball if I want to spend time with my boys who might be watching it.  Although I truly love baseball, I don't set aside hours to watch a game, and usually don't keep up with the World Series, unless of course the one and only professional team I tend to support is playing~the Cards!!  I couldn't tell you when my interest in the team began, or explain how I am even a follower.  I don't know the roster, I don't watch to see who they sign, I have no idea what their record might be year in and year out.  During the regular season I just follow via the scores on ESPN.  Yes, I watch ESPN, again, if I want to spend time with my boys, all three of them, I must learn to enjoy the craziness, and repetitiveness of that network.  I did so enjoy the World Series this year.  The twists and turns, the shocking comebacks, and the pure joy when all was said and done, and victory belonged to the Cards.  Yes, I know, there was a team who fought just as hard, and who went home with broken hearts.  As far as I am concerned, the two best teams fought that battle, and it just came down to moments.  One moment could have changed the whole outcome of that series.  Either team could easily be called Champions this year.

The days that followed the series however have been quite a challenge in my life.  What I realized was that life is very much like a baseball game, or yet, life is the pitcher, and you are are the batter.

You can't take life at face value.  I so miss the days where you could do that more often.  I guess maybe I might have a skewed memory, but it seems as though we didn't use to have to second guess EVERYTHING.  A person's word was good.  We didn't have to worry about hidden agendas, or schemes, or other traps that would snare us. We didn't have to worry if someone was hiding something, or leaving out the truth. We didn't always have to decipher what was good and what was bad, even in what was supposed to be good to us.  We had a fast ball right across the plate, or a pitch that was out of the zone.  

Today we have to decipher between fast balls, sinkers, sliders, and curves.
n. Baseball A pitch thrown at the pitcher's maximum speed.

downward curving baseball pitch: in baseball, a pitched ball that curves sharply downward as it reaches the plate

Baseball. A fast pitch released with the index and middle fingers close together and slightly off center so that it breaks in the same direction as a curve ball as it approaches the plate.

Baseball. Any of several pitches that veer to the left when thrown with the right hand and to the right when thrown with the left hand.
Slang. Something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive: That last question on the exam was a real curve ball.

I want to go back to all fast balls!!

I know, life has always had the deceptions, the distractions.  We can thank the reptile for deceiving Eve for that.  It just seems, that as technology has advanced, deception, betrayal, scheming, and just down right wrong behaviors, have all become mainstream, and people think it is normal!

I found myself as an overconfident batter just recently.  Seeing a pitch that was released way outside of my strike zone and just took that pitch off, only to find myself with a strike.  The crazy thing, I have let myself be struck out!!  All in a matter of just a few weeks, I have come to realize that what I thought were homeruns, were all strike outs.  

A few days ago, I probably would have told you that I was done.  I was ready to hang up my cleats and walk away.  I never wanted to see another pitch again.  I needed to retire.  Ahh.. retire~ only do what I want to do, and not have to take the pitches.

God gently reminded me, it's not my time.  Unlike my Cards, I was not the champion.  I found myself defeated.  I was afraid to face the next turn, and braced for the fury I was sure to ensue when I realized my latest at bat was definitely not a home-run.  Was trying to calm a fury of a pitch I thought was right across the plate, but ended up sinking. God calmed the storm, sent me many reminders to His grace, mercy and love, and has given me the strength to just move on.  Not all pitches will deceive, and the ones I thought once to be home~runs can once again be knocked out of the park.  I can't retire just yet.  I felt the nudge to get back to the plate, and face the next game, and the next pitch.  It might be all new, and will probably have different players, and different outcomes, but, my Manager is true, honest, straightforward, steadfast and constant, and has surrounded me with some awesome fans!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The crisp of the air

The seasons are changing.  I love it when each season changes, yes even the fall into winter.  It is a reminder that we too are always changing.  This is not a bad thing!

 In 2010, at my girls' baccalaureate, the minister spoke about yearbook messages.  He said the one that always got to him was 'don't ever change' or 'stay just the way you are'.  He said, 'what a horrible thing to say to someone'.  At first I was really taken aback by this.  I mean, what a compliment, that someone thinks you are so wonderful that they don't want you to ever change.  Isn't that a compliment?  This minister went on to say: 'Think about it parents, are any of you the same as the day you graduated from high school?  Aren't you glad you aren't.'  Aha!  He was right.  Although many of my core values are very much the same, I am not.  Looking back over those, well, let's just say many years, I realize I have changed many a time.  Not always a positive change, but a change none the less.  Looking at each one of those changes, I have to smile, because all of them, even the not so good ones, have made me who I am today.

As of late, I have found myself struggling to change to 'fit in'.  I have found myself struggling to change because the world, or society, deems that a certain lifestyle, or having x number of relationships, or x amount of material items, or x amount of social activities, makes you happier.  I have been trying to be who I was being told I am supposed to be.  I couldn't understand why I was so stressed, and not so very happy.  If all of these things were supposed to be making me happy, then why am I not?  I had to take stock of why I found myself at a place where I felt so uncomfortable, and when it was last that I didn't feel as such.

Now, bare with me a moment, because this is going to seem a bit bizarre when I first mention of the time where I last felt happiest, but... let me finish before you start to judge.  Last year, at this time, my DH was deployed.  The first few weeks were difficult.  Not only did my husband's presence become nill in our house, shortly thereafter, so did my girls' as they headed off to the U of A to start their next chapter of life.  It was an interesting season of change, and yet, as I adjusted to the new temperature of our home, I did settle in, and that is the last time I can truly remember being at ease.  How could that be?  My  husband was at war, there was an injury that resulted in surgery.  There was first year of college stress, and homesickness, and trials.  There was car trouble in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere while completely alone.  There was a case of mono accompanied by strep and cytomegalavirus.  So many other things that I dealt with, just me, no husband, no family close by, just me.  Why in the world would that be the last time I felt the most at ease, the most content?

Now, I asked you to bare with me, and here is where I need it.  It wasn't because my husband was gone as were my girls, and I was just left with my boys that I finally felt at ease.  It was because, during that time, my focus was my family.  I wasn't trying to be anything anyone else was telling me to be.  I was being true to what my nature is, a caregiver for my family.  I packed up a box a week and mailed it off to Afghanistan.  I sent care packages and devised surprises for my girls to help their first year of college become all they dreamed it to be.  I sat in the evenings with my sons and laughed until we cried.  I would wait patiently by the computer knowing at that time, my dh would be getting off work in another part of the world and would just simply want to say goodnight, or good morning. I took time to myself to eat better, and I exercised in a not so conventional way, and loved it!  My focus was taking care of this little unit.  Don't get me wrong, I still had some outside activities, like the youth choir, and Bible study, band boosters, and my regular exercise mornings.  My focus was not about me trying to be something or someone else though.  It was about me being me, a lady who completely pours herself into her family.  Yes, change is good, but right now, I am just not ready.  My life is full of my little family's activities, and I love being the crazy mom who is at all of the games, and concerts, and musicals, and camps, and contests, and chaperons the dances, and laughs at youtube videos, waits up for the kids to find out how their day went, or who sits with the kids and their friends at events, or even in my living room and just talks.  I love, that when I walk into church, the kids in my choir can't wait to tell me something.  I love that my social circle changes depending on which season, event, or location we are in. I know, I know, not a whole lot of adult interaction there.  I know what society says.  Yet, maybe just maybe, I am supposed to be right in the middle of the craziness with my kids, and right in the middle of this youth generation for as long as they welcome me.  Not necessarily as one of them, but as a mentor, a counselor, an adult they can come to when they are lost.  Maybe, my nature, my focus, the one God has ordained me to do, is being this lady, who doesn't follow conventional society, and is focused on building this family, and the youth that cross my path.  Who marches to a different drummer, and at the end of the day, whose heart smiles.  Then as the season changes, will be ready for whatever new temperature the Lord brings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11, 2001

This date, and all the events that occurred in the days following have forever been etched into my soul.

West Point is a dream assignment.  I didn't really know that before we got there, but quickly realized how wonderful that place is.  It is nestled into the mountains, overlooks the Hudson River, and I don't think there is a season that you simply can't find beauty there.  It is a hard assignment, but very rewarding.

 You are able to mentor the army's future.  That is truly one of the biggest blessings we received with that assignment.  The cadets we sponsored, worked with, and participated in Bible studies with, all became a huge part of our family.  Many of them we are still in contact with today.  We are watching them become outstanding leaders of our country, amazing parents, wonderful spouses, and great citizens of our nation.

We were blessed to be living with neighbors who enjoyed block parties.  They understood our passion for the Razorbacks and thus tolerated some late night games that were televised.  They prayed for us when trying times crossed our path, and rejoiced with us when we had cause to celebrate.

The Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office had wonderful opportunities for families to experience NYC.  West Point is about an hour outside of the city.  You could cross the river and catch a train that would take you right into Grand Central Station.  We would do that on occasion and go see musicals on Broadway. For Thanksgiving, the MWR hosted buses that would drop you off right downtown by Times Square so that you could watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and then pick you up and drive you right back home.  They would repeat this during the Christmas shopping season, and I must say, the window displays during Christmas are just phenomenal.

Yes, West Point was a wonderful place to be.

MWR also had a private small lake with two cabins.  Each year you would put your name in for a lottery drawing.   When your name was called you got to choose a date to rent a cabin, or both, on the lake.  It was such a fabulous get away.  By the time our name was called in 2001, the only weekend left was the weekend of  September 8-11.  We happily signed up for both cabins for the weekend.  The 11th was a Monday, but we just packed the school gear so that we could drop the kids off at school.  They so didn't want to leave the cabin and head to school.  They wanted to stay for the entire day.  The weekend was fabulous, but it was time to get back to reality.

September 11, 2001.....

I packed the kiddos up in the van, dropped them off at school and headed to the youth center to sign them up for fall soccer.  No one was at the front desk.  I heard a voice call from the back of the offices telling me to come back.  When I walked into the room, about ten center staff members were all huddled around the TV.   I glanced over and saw one of the towers on fire.  My mind raced as to try and figure out which movie they were watching.  Then I saw the word 'LIVE' on the screen.  I stepped in closer just in time to see the second plane crash into the tower.  My knees buckled beneath me and I collapsed into the chair behind me.  I  remember that breathing was difficult, almost as if the air was suffocating the life out of us.  I didn't know the people who worked at the center, but we all instinctively huddled together and just stood in silence.

I worked part time in the schools my four children attended.  When I arrived at work, teachers, secretaries, and any other adult who had been at the school since early morning were stopping me and begging for more information.  I could see the fear in their eyes.  Many of them lived closer to the city, and many of them had loved ones that worked in or near the WTC.  My job that day quickly became one of sitting in for a teacher so that they could make phone calls.  The expressions on the many faces of the adults are indescribable... there are simply no words.  More often than not, the teacher would return to the classroom with  nothing.  They could not reach anyone who could give them any information.  The solemnity of the day made it seem like an out of body experience.  I was very present, and moved from task to task, but it was as if I was also there in another form watching everything, as if I was in the middle of a nightmare and simply could not wake myself up.

Parents were filing into the school picking up their children.  All of them had sheer panic written all over their faces.  Teachers whispered in the hallways, fighting back tears.  We were told not to share with the students that anything happened as not to scare them.  The students knew.  They weren't sure what was going on, but they knew something awful had happened.

The school day ended, and I went home to soak in the reality of the morning's events.  Every station was broadcasting from various viewpoints.  The local stations were the ones that I tended to stick with.  Those stations were broadcasting very personal view points of the day.  They showed the exodus of people walking across the bridges, simply trying to get away from the city, just trying to get home.  They revealed the many local first responders sending more and more into the chaos that so many people were running from.  They interviewed the family members of those who raced off to help.  The anchors were continuously getting choked up.  They knew many of those involved first hand.  That was their stomping ground, their city, their people.  Again, there are no words to describe what unfolded on the local stations as they broadcast the events.

These visuals and stories always come to mind at this time of year.  Many heroes emerged as the day and those that followed passed.  Living so close to the city though, I have two memories of that time that still send chills throughout my body.

Let me take you back to the school on post where I worked.  The days that followed 9/11 were interesting to say the least.  September 12, 2001: Many teachers couldn't even make it to post to get to work.  Classes were combined, and lessons halted.  The routine was definitely skewed.  The kiddos in that school were real troopers though.  They adapted and moved along with the many changes without complaining or causing trouble.  I was amazed at their inner strength.  The military community knew that this attack meant that the life of the soldier was changing.  Military kids were no different.  Their carefree life had changed dramatically as we suddenly had troops patrolling the post with machine guns, and yet, they adapted and continued about their happy lives.  It wasn't until about two weeks after 9/11 that I realized just how much that day affected even the youngest of our nation.

All air traffic into NYC had been diverted to a smaller airport in Poughkeepsie, NY.  That was just on the other side of the mountain from West Point.  One afternoon I was monitoring recess when a large plane was making a landing at Poughkeepsie.  Its flight path took it directly over our cozy little post nestled into that mountainside.  It was so close to the ground you could read the lettering on the plane.  As that plane made its loop and started to descend upon Poughkeepsie, it flew over the playground, it's shadow was large and intimidating as it crossed the blacktop.  I looked up and then heard it: squeals, the squeals of all of the children on the playground~ not squeals of joy, but of pure fear.  I looked back at the children, and they were scampering in all directions, trying to find a safe place.  Most of them ended up huddled together around me and the other teachers on the playground.  It took a moment for my mind to process what was happening.  I too, was shaken.  Planes that large had never flown over so low that you could read the lettering.  It was then I realized those small innocent lives had been just as dramatically affected by the attack as all of us adults.  Many of those children are currently serving in our military.

Now for the unsung heroes~ Most of us have heard or read about the countless brave men and women who rushed to the scene that many were fleeing.  They climbed a multitude of stairs just to get to those who could not help themselves out.  They dug through debris by hand so as to not harm a body.  Those are the faces we envision as the heroes of the day, but let me share with you another set of heroes from that day.

September 12, 2001~ One of the local morning news stations was continuing coverage of the more personal stories from the previous day.  They aired footage of the many cars that were still parked in commuter lots.  They revealed pictures of apartments miles away from the incident that were covered in debris dust.  Yet, the one story that still gets me even today is that of the daycare centers.  This local station interviewed many daycare workers who had stayed the night in the centers with children who were not picked up at the end of the day September 11, 2001.  So many little ones whose parents did not make it home.  These daycare workers stayed, unpaid, until family or the emergency contact, could make it to bring those sweet babies home.  My heart ached for those sweeties, and then filled with love and appreciation for the workers who loved those darlings enough to hold and cradle them until a familiar face could take them home.  Most of those children would be in middle school or high school now.  I think about them every year at this time and wonder what they are up to.  I also wonder if those workers ever received any kind of recognition.  I do know that their crowns in heaven were adorned with many jewels on that day in September ten years ago.

September 11, 2001

We will never forget.  Yet, in honor of those who lost their lives that day or because of that day, let us choose to be a positive force in our world today.  Let us choose to be kind, even to the unkind.  Let us choose to love a stranger in need as so many did on that crazy day.  Let us never forget, not by mourning, but by living in such a way that we celebrate all that day taught us about the great people of our nation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

He makes all things new....

 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

I find myself a little frustrated this morning with the city.... they have started a major street overhaul in our little town, today my road is closed and we only had a 24 hour notice... frustrating to say the least.  We were to have our cars moved off the street by 9 a.m. if we were going to need them at all today.  The frustrating thing is that there aren't too many other places to park our cars, so we have to hike up the hill from where we find a place to park, and of course on a day of a heat warning.  So I was the dutiful citizen and had our cars moved, but the workers could not begin because one of the residents on our street had a moving truck arrive this morning at 8:30, pushing everything back two hours.  So here I sit, watching out my front window as the asphalt finally begins to be placed on the street.  I wonder how long my home will smell of the distinct scent of new road.  How long will I be listening to these heavy duty vehicles and their noisy brakes move up and down in front of my home.  The day is supposed to be so warm, I know these workers are going to need to find shade for multiple breaks before they can even finish the job.  I glance out the window wondering which vehicle is making the incredibly unique hissing sound, and the thought pops into my head.... he is making the street new.  Then I heard God's quiet voice... I make all things new.

In December 2009 Mike broke the news to me that he wanted to deploy.  Yes... he WANTED to.  He felt like that was what he was being led to do.  I would be lying if I told you that I was not angry.  I was very angry with him, and at times I find that I still am fighting that anger.  I do not understand his choice, or his feelings, but I do know that is what makes a soldier a soldier.  My heart was broken.  I tried so hard not to be angry, not to be hurt, and not to question, but I simply did not understand.  I took on the role of good army wife and smiled my way through the conversations that followed.  I prayed to God.. please.. don't let this be your will, but if this is what is best for Mike, for us... then please let it be short duration, and away from heavy fire.  In March, we were informed he would be leaving the following June for a 6 month tour in Afghanistan.  Again, I must admit that I was angry!  I was angry with God for it being His will that Mike should deploy.  I was already dealing with the senior year of my first to graduate, and now... a combat deployment.  

I didn't realize it at the time, but I shut down emotionally.  It was the only way I could cope.

Problem with that... at some point... you must deal with those emotions.

"I make all things new"......

May 2011 rolled around, an entire year has passed, and next thing I know... I feel like a basket case.  I have become upset at silly things.  My heart has started racing for no reason.  There have been moments, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes the middle of the day, where I wake up, or just find myself in a total panic.  I have an overwhelming feeling of dread, but no reason to feel that emotion.  It is all catching up with me.  For over six months I played the best Scarlet O'Hara that I possibly could, but her persona has exited the script at present, and I am left with everything I said I'd think about tomorrow.  

Why am I so afraid to deal with all of these feelings?  

I was 'so together' during all of the final high school events my girls participated in.  I chalked it up to being so very excited for them to enter college because I knew how they would shine there.  

I was so stoic while Mike was gone, even through all of the craziness that seemed to haunt my every step.  I claimed that was simply God's grace.  

I was making it because it was God's strength moving in me..... at least that is what I told myself.  It wasn't until recently that I realized maybe, just maybe.... all of that was to get my attention... to get me to feel.

When I think back on all the little things... a flat tire in the middle of nowhere at 11 pm while by myself, the windshield wiper blade flying off in the middle of a downpour, or the garage door opener breaking down mid rise, just to name a few.....then to the big things....like moving the girls out, Collin's ankle surgery, and not to mention the senior year prior to all of that.... I wonder why I didn't cry, and why I was able to move through smiling.  I so focused on things that I wanted to change, that I didn't even realize that maybe, just maybe, there were things God wanted me to deal with..... my feelings of anger, of abandonment, of feeling like second place for as long as I can remember.  

Now I am now struggling with all of these feelings and didn't have a clue, until I watched these trucks move up and down my street, causing me to become more and more frustrated.  

"I make all things new"

So... if you see me walking by and a tear is in my eye.... just know that I am doing my best to be made new.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rainy Monday into Sunny Monday

One year ago today I started on a journey that was not my choice to travel, and yet I knew I had to travel upon that path.  It is amazing to discover how much you need to grow, or learn, or be when you are forced to take a step on a path that is not your choosing.

The last twelve months have been pretty much a time of constant change.  I am not the same person I was twelve months ago, and my family is definitely not the same family.  We have all traveled ways that instituted a change, mostly positive, but sometimes negative.  We discovered pieces of ourselves that were either forgotten or undiscovered.  We faced trials, fears, challenges.  Sometimes I wondered when it would end.  A friend of mine told me to think about it as character building, and then turned around and said, don't you wish you could scream 'OK enough character building!  I need a break!!'  I must admit.. that elicited quite a chuckle from me.  I was feeling those exact sentiments.  I had felt like I have been character building for my entire life.  I had begun to wonder what it was that I kept missing.  Why did I need to character build more.

I felt like brick after brick was being dropped on my head, only, I didn't know what I was to do with them.  If you know me, you know I have a wee bit of Irish in me, and my hair tends to have a bit o' red in it, and thus, true to my heritage and hue of my tresses, I can be a tad stubborn.  A brick could drop in my lap with a hint of direction, but because it did not specifically have my name on it, and step by step instructions, I would push it aside and think, ah... not for me.  I had heard several comments about 'firming up my foundation' since I felt like I was being bludgeoned by bricks, but it was not until someone said... 'let's start building our basements' did I truly step back and think about what I could learn.

When I first learned of the life altering events, I decided it was time to take advantage of the journey, and make some life changes that I had long wanted to do.  One year later I sit and reflect on what I learned, what I accomplished, what I didn't.  I have come a very long way from a year ago.  I am a different person in many ways.  I also learned there are many things I still need to work on.  My best lesson, 'take care of yourself'.  I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend if I take some time for me.

So here I am, one year later, allowing myself to feel so many of the emotions I would not allow myself to feel last year.  I sit here knowing that there is always room to improve, and that I never want to stop learning, growing, and doing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where does time go?

One of my favorite commercials is a Subaru commercial where the dad is about to hand his keys over to his little girl.  He sees a sweet little six year old girl sitting behind the wheel, when in reality she is a 16 year old.  I pause to watch this commercial whenever it is on.  I am sure that dad wonders where the time went.

Where does time go?  I hear that often from my friends who are wishing their children a happy birthday.  I have often used that phrase myself in regards to my children, or the end of a duty assignment, and especially when time off draws to an end.  At this point in my life I am pondering that sentiment quite often.  

Yesterday marked the 19th birthday of my darling twinkies.  NINETEEN!!!  I was that age when I began dating their dad.  It also was the first birthday where I didn't  get to wrap my arms around them and hug them.  Where did the time go?  It seems like yesterday I was praying they would just sleep through the night, or praying their first day of Kindergarten would be wonderful, or praying that we could just make it through middle school, and many other trials and tribulations that were placed in our path.  There were definitely moments I was not sure we would make it to nineteen and still be LIKE each other!!  :-)  Yet, here we are.  

This morning I realized that not only have they begun their last year of teens, they are about to finish their FIRST year of college!!  I am almost dumbfounded at this thought. It seems that just a moment ago I was trying to be so strong as they walked across the stage to graduate from high school, and then leaving them for their first day on campus, and now we are looking at a year under their belt.  Where has the time gone??  I look at them and see those sweet little six year old girls walking across campus with all of those OLDER kids.  They will always and forever be those sweet darling little girls in my eyes, and yet, I blink and see these amazing, beautiful, kind and tenderhearted ladies who are just breezing through their freshman year of college.  The time was gone in a blink of an eye, but let the eye lid linger a little during the blink, and I see some wonderfully beautiful moments that draw a smile across my face.   Moments that shaped these beautiful ladies I see before me.  

The thought then shifts to the feisty little boys who are still living in my house.  Those 6'2 babies that sometimes still call me 'mommy'.  At this point in the girls lives I really hadn't considered how quickly a blink passes.  They two are becoming little men whose lives I marvel.  I am just going to remind myself each morning to hug those marvels while they are living in my home.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The calm before the storm...

I have always marveled at the fact that just when things seem to be going smoothly, something crazy hits and chaos ensues.  At a different time in my life I would not be saying I was marveling, but at this point, that is what I do.  I used to always look for the 'other shoe to drop' when things were going well.  Now, it is different.  I hate to say it, but the change is definitely because I have grown older.  I think it is also because I am beginning to realize that the storms are not always a bad thing.

Some of you know that I am terrified of massive thunderstorms.  This fear was instilled way in the depths of my soul when I was very young.  Although my memory is not complete, I have still pictures that flash into my brain of scenes of my family reacting to tornadoes, or other extreme storms moving through.  I have memories of feelings of panic in my chest  of that eerie quiet, and ominous color that overtook the sky just prior to the menacing clouds and winds that appeared.  I have always feared that if I was not alert I would not have time to react.  I would worry that I would not be able to protect the ones that I love.  To this day,  that particular quiet before the storm still sends shivers up and down my spine.

The metaphor is the one I have grown no longer to dread.

It is a very rare day in the life of the Anderson household that something does not arise which may need immediate attention, or that requires me to perform superhero like feats.  Until recently I wondered why, oh why is it always like this in my home?  When the home was quiet, and all seemed well, I would immediately start wondering when that other shoe was going to drop on my head.  What a waste of peaceful beautiful moments!

What I have come to realize as of late, is that those storms were polishing me like a river does a stone.  They were and are polishing my children.  They are taking out the rough edges and turning us into something smooth and pleasing, bringing out the gem that we were created to be.  The calm... well, that is our time to refresh, rest, and rejuvenate so that we have the energy to take on the storm.

The last few days have definitely been beautiful and calm.  I am basking in the opportunity to recharge and then to be polished some more.  I am counting on being a precious gem when all is said and done.

What are you experiencing right now?  If it is a storm, then know that you are being polished.  If it is the quiet.... smile and know that you have just recently been polished!

God Bless You!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Where am I?

The last couple of days here in the Anderson home have been all abuzz about prom.   My oldest son is going through all of the hassle of trying to figure out dates etc etc.  It has been interesting to say the least.  We headed out a couple of nights ago to buy him a suit for the event.  I know, why not rent a tux?  Prom has become such a diminished event in the system today.  It is still considered formal I guess, but so are the homecoming and royalty dances in our school districts.  Some do rent tuxes, and yet some show up in jeans!  While we are not renting at tux, jeans are absolutely not an option,  we are investing in a suit.  My oldest son has always asked about suits, so I figured now is as good a time as any to purchase one for him.  The whole process was fun.  Watching him go through the racks, trying to decide which style he liked most.  Then came the time for him to try on the complete suit.

DS #1 takes his find into the dressing room and surfaces later as an amazingly handsome young man.  I nearly lost my footing when I saw that young man standing before me beaming in what he had long waited to put on.. his suit.  I think my heart must have leapt into my throat as I had to swallow what seemed like a large knot.  Mind you, I have done prom before and watched my beautiful princesses emerge from their dressing chambers in gowns that simply made them shine. I remember too the time they appeared in those graduation gowns with their caps adorning their tresses of hair like crowns.  Both moments caused me to take a deep breath and marvel.  Yet, this particular moment knocked me off balance a bit.  I looked over at DS #2 sitting in a chair outside of the waiting room and realized, there will not be too many more of these moments.

How did I get here?  How did I get from being a mother of four hustling bustling little ones to the young man standing before me in a three piece suit patiently waiting for my response, his younger brother, who will soon be the young man standing before me, sitting in the chair sharing fashion advice, and his two older sisters  out beginning their lives as young independent ladies?  It feels like I fell asleep just yesterday exhausted from a long day of chasing what I thought must be the most energetic four I had ever come across, and woke up to this magical moment.

The last couple of days, these moment have been replaying in my mind like the movies on my mother's film projector that would capture my siblings and I doing our crazy stunts.   My heart has smiled and shed tears as those images have flitted their way through my mind.  Many warm wonderful memories are forever emblazoned on that 33 mm film stored in that projector deep in my brain.  My heart will play them as often as it chooses, and I will stand in the current moment and say yes my child... you look fabulous.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't take it personal...

Why is it that you may have many wonderful friends, and great number of supporters, but have just one not so supportive person, or a handful, and you become obsessed with why that person or persons doesn't like you?  I really hate that about myself.  

Funny thing is.. I tell my kiddos all of the time that you can't please everyone, and that you won't like everyone, but the key is to simply learn to coexist.  If you attempt to make everyone happy, you will either run yourself into the ground, or you will end up offending someone very important to you.  Yet, when I feel even the slightest inklings that someone doesn't like me, it starts to burn at my very core.  I begin running scenarios through my head as to what I could have possibly done to make them not like me.   That then moves on to what I can do to turn that around and become friends with them.  If it is someone that has authority over me I usually end up doubting everything about myself and any ability I just might have.  I will begin to doubt whether or not I should even be doing what I am doing.  

Why do I feel such a need to be liked by all??  

Lately I have really been struggling with this.  I felt as if a handful of people just really didn't like me.  It has been a tough path, and has really brought many questions and deep pondering.  I keep wondering if God is closing a door, or leading me to another place.  Just when I think I have overcome the feeling of not being liked, or the awkwardness of my presence, yet another incident occurs, and I again start reeling as to what I am missing, what have I done, why don't they like me?!?  I again wonder if God keeps trying to change my path, send me where I am needed.  

Then again, maybe God needs me to heed my own advice...' don't take it so personally, not everyone is supposed to like you'... because in earnest, I need to live my life as to not bring shame to Him.  If I am trying so desperately to please others, and in doing so I change who He had made me to be, then I am missing out on His purpose for me, I am becoming of this world, and not set apart for His.  Maybe these people are meant to show me where I am still so desperately seeking human approval when I should be seeking His approval.  

AACK!!  I hear all of this, I am doing my best to listen to it all, but my core is still reeling, trying to understand what I have done, and what I can do to make it better.  So.. I will be trying to let go, and let God.  Some people are just not going to like me.  I have to try and be ok with that, because you know what.. there are some people I am just not supposed to be good buddies with... we are just meant to coexist... so, I just have to adopt a mantra about all of this... 'don't take it personal'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reclaiming Saturdays!!

Not too long ago Saturday was my favorite day.  We would sleep in a little, and have breakfast together as a family.  That was when the kids were little.  Saturday morning cartoons would entertain them while my DH and I would do breakfast.  Lunch was usually just a sandwich, and we would do some sort of activity, play outside, go to a park, or watch movies if the weather was bad.  Finally ending our day with a great dinner together at home.

Then one year we were waking up and rushing out of the house to spend the morning at games, which evolved another year to marching competitions, and eventually landing to the only day where we would just totally veg because the remainder of the 6 days of the week we ran like chickens with our heads cut off.   My DH and I have adopted a new tradition on Saturdays in that we get up, go get a coffee from our favorite drive thru coffee shop, and then take a morning drive.  That is when we get most of our talking in.  Some Saturdays we have to get up earlier than others due to the 'mandatory fun' that has been scheduled in that day.  Often times we would pick up breakfast and bring it home.  Dinner had become whichever fast food appealed that day.

This particular Saturday was not really any different than any other Saturday my family had grown accustomed to.  The boys had activities going on at their high school, the girls wanted to do things with their friends before heading back to college, and of course this past week was a crazy busy one, as usual.  I woke up this morning just as tired as I have on the previous Saturdays.  My DH and I headed out for our morning coffee and drive.  As we headed back home we questioned breakfast options.  Our usual fast food breakfast was not an option because for Lent, our family gave up fast food.  Then as if a distant memory invaded my taste buds, I said, 'I am really in the mood for Belgian Waffles'.  So, off to Walmart for a new waffle maker, and supplies, then home we went.  DH and I were so excited about doing brunch.  We had a blast in our kitchen preparing our brunch, and laughing and talking, all 6 of us.  The kids headed out their various ways, DH and I handled a few little tasks in the house, and had a quiet day at home.

After a bit the kiddos are back and laughing and talking, and the subject of dinner comes into the conversation.  With that, homemade pizza became our next quest.  Out to the store to acquire the ingredients, home to begin preparations, and once again, we are laughing, talking and having a beautiful time.  I remember why I loved Saturdays!!  We all love cooking, and conversations and great bonding occurred over these activities.

The meals were fabulous, the family time incredible, and all just what the doctor ordered.

Saturdays are back!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The sun will come out....

Not too long ago I was having breakfast with a dear friend and the topic of military mourning came up.  Now I know what you are thinking, we discussed the mourning over loss of life, but this is not the case.  My wonderfully wise friend said that she came to realize that military spouses are often in and out of states of mourning.  I listened intently while she explained. 

 She so eloquently spoke of how we are always losing something due to the many moves.  That our families are usually living far away.  Just when we develop a great friendship, one of us has to leave.  We may be leaving a job that we love, a home that was just perfect, a church that felt like family, and so many other beloved things.  We are constantly packing up our lives, familiar neighborhoods and routines and starting all over, forever leaving that life behind.  It is a loss, and the heart always mourns a loss.  What she laid out before me was the catalyst of a major epiphany. 

 For years, well, almost 19 now, I have always had to fight to be me.  Some days it was so very easy, others I had to wear that happy mask and pray it didn't fall off.  I can't even begin to tell you how many anti-depressants doctors have put me on over the years, and how they didn't help.  Many times I have questioned God as to why I just can't be what I remember.  Where did she go, and why did You let her go? I would blame so many outside factors, and get angry when doctors would tell me, 'Well, you are a busy mother of four, no wonder you feel the way you do.'  As my friend continued to explain why military spouses are in and out of mourning, she mentioned the word grief.  At that point I knew it was time to take to heart what she was saying.

Let me back up a little.  Last June my DH deployed to a combat zone for the first time in our 18 years in the military.  He has gone on TDY (temporary duty), or other training missions where he has been gone anywhere from two weeks to 4 months, but we have never experienced a time in our lives where we absolutely could not see each other, or be together for what would be an extended time; in this case six months.  We also had never experienced a time when he was in combat zones.  During the time he would be gone, I would experience yet another first, packing up children and moving them to college.  

I remember clearly the day my DH told me he was going to volunteer to deploy.  I heard all of his reasoning, and I tried to understand why he was volunteering, but an ache that I will never forget made its home in my chest.  What I didn't realize is that everything in me, at that moment became numb.  My mind started racing at everything that was about to change.  We were on the downhill slope of our darling daughters last months of living at home, and I instantly realized that I would be moving them to college on my own.  I went into auto-pilot.  

The time passed quickly from the day I learned of my DH's pending deployment to the day he actually left us.  We had many 'lasts' with the girls, last concerts, last awards, etc etc.  I watched as many mothers broke down and cried.  I teared up, but didn't break down.  The last few days prior to my DH's leaving, I would tear up, but not break down, yet, the ache in my chest grew stronger, and sometimes would catch my breath.  Dropping DH at the airport for the six month deployment again, tears, no real break down, but the chest became heavier.  Then came the day to move to college; tears, no breakdown, but chest hurt more.  

I thought my chest pain must be health related, so I buried my head and started trying to take off weight.

It was at my Wednesday morning Bible study that God first planted the seed my friend watered at that breakfast not too long ago.  At the end of the study, another beautiful lady, who had been sitting next to me, and listening to everything going on, and watching me intently, stopped me and said, I need to share something with you.  I sat down with her, and she put her hand ever so gently on my arm and said, 'sweet girl, I think you are grieving'.  I was taken aback.  This wonderful lady had just recently lost her wonderful husband.  She shed tears in our study, and my heart ached for her, and I had been praying for her.  When she told me she thought I was grieving, I was dumbfounded.  She could see my surprise in my face, so she went on to explain how her doctors discovered that she was struggling with overwhelming grief.  She had read up on the subject, and shared with me the various stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  She thought I might be somewhere between the first two stages.  I went home and thought about it, but really took it no further.  You see, at that point, not only did I have a husband who was deployed, had moved my twin darling daughters to college on my own, I was having to be nursemaid to my youngest son who had broken his ankle in a football game and required surgery to fix it.  I didn't have time to grieve.  

Flash forward a bit to Christmas Eve, my DH made it home early.  What a beautiful and wonderful Christmas present right?  Yes.. it was, but again... numb.  I was numb.  My older son was having health issues, which turned out to be mono and cytomegalavirus, AND my DH came home sick.  No fairytale homecoming like I had hoped for.  The long winter just kept making the numbness grow.  I was but a zombie walking around, doing what needed to be done, and yet, thinking I was fooling everyone.  I wasn't.  My pastor, a new pastor, sensed a distance in me.  His questioning started my own questioning, and my beautiful friend's explanation of military spouse mourning began unveiling what I have struggled with for all of these years.  

That first lady was right, I was somewhere between denial and anger.  I found myself so angry with my DH at times for leaving me with all of that to do.  I found myself angry with the army for forcing us to a place where he felt like he needed to deploy, and yet, I was still so numb and would not allow myself to cry.  Then came the bargaining: if I could just get all of the weight off, feel beautiful again, then all of this other stuff will be ok.  Well, a good portion of the weight did come off, but my friends, the other stuff was not ok.  Depression set in.  That is where the pastor found me, in a dark depression.  Thank you Lord for not leaving me there but a few months.  Acceptance is where I am now.  

It has been a long journey... almost 19 years to be exact, and this LONG post proves that.  I got pretty good at faking it, and it hasn't been all mourning all 19 years.  There have been some beautiful times that I remember and felt to their entirety.  There is very little I would change because that would mean I would change where I am today.  And yet, with every move and every change, mine or other's in my life, I have mourned without realizing.  I know my friend will read this, and I want to thank her for being God's messenger, even though this is the first she will have heard of this!  :)  

You don't have to be a military spouse to be experiencing this.  Mourning happens to all of us for various reasons.  I hope that by my sharing this blog, if anyone reads it, that if you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts, maybe you too will realize that you are mourning something.  It doesn't have to be the loss of a loved one, it can be the loss of something as simple as a wish.  

The sun will come out tomorrow....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring cleaning

For so many years I have never really had to spring clean.  The military always took care of that for me because I usually had to move.  All of our belongings would be loaded up in boxes and onto a large truck, we would be left with an empty house to spruce up for the next occupant, and then would meet up with our belongings at a new house, in a new town, generally a new state, with a new life just waiting to unfold.  We would begin busily arranging furniture in our new home, and then unpacking the belongings with an opportunity to clear out any excess.  Spring cleaning was pretty much mandated for us.  Along with the physical spring cleaning, emotional and mental spring cleaning usually took place as well.  A new locale meant old hurts could be left behind, as well as old ways and maybe even old identities if need be.  It was a fresh new start thanks to the military.  

As this spring approaches, I am feeling unusually bogged down.  I was having trouble putting my finger on exactly what was going on then I realized, I need to spring clean!!  We have been in our home for almost 4 years now.  That is the longest I remember living in any one place for my entire life.  I did live in a town for the first seven years of my life, but after that, I have moved, on average, every 2 years.  In the past I have begun to get restless, but that is not the feeling I am having now.  It is hard to describe the actual emotion I am experiencing.  Life has gotten the best of me in the last little while.  I am ashamed to admit that, but the first step to healing is admitting, so there it is.  I have allowed life to live me.  That is unacceptable.  And yet, describing the state of my mind, heart, and emotions at this point still is just out of reach.  So the analogy of spring cleaning fits perfectly.  

My home definitely needs some spring cleaning.  It is plain old amazing how much stuff a family of six can accumulate in almost 4 years!  Another thing that amazes me is exactly how much is in my home that I haven't used in those four years.  Time for a yard sale, or a large donation.  

Another amazing thing about physically spring cleaning your home is how it can actually clean up the emotions and mental state of mind.  I don't know about you, but when a task seems overwhelming, I have a very difficult time taking that first step to begin.  I am intimidated by the daunting task.  My intimidation leads to a feeling of inadequacy, which ultimately leads to a feeling of insecurity, that tailspins me into a depression, thus leaving me in a place that always needs to be spring cleaned.  

It took some heavy bricks from God to get me to realize how silly I have been.  I mean honestly, it was either pack up and move, or get off my duff and take care of business.  I am quite content where I am currently living, and the army has no plans of moving us, so the latter option is the path I must take.  Time to arm myself with clutter busting gadgets and gizmos. I do believe my home, family, and inner-self will thank me.  OH, and if you don't hear from me for awhile, send out a search party, I might have gotten lost, or better yet, send allergy meds because I might be overpowered by the dust bunnies!