The Path I’m On…

Like I said, I’m doing Beth Moore’s The Quest Bible Study.  I’ve been working through a great deal of muck on this journey, which usually happens when you go down these trails.  I recently found the most beautiful walking trail around a small lake.  This has to be one of the most relaxing hikes, and is now my favorite place.  Those of you who hike know all about the cost-benefit of going out in the woods. The view can be wonderful one minute, full of spiders and mud the next.  About halfway through the walk, I usually think it might be better to move just a little faster and not dilly-dally so much. You don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere when it gets dark.  You also start thinking about whether you’ve picked up a hitchhiking tick, or whether there are crazy people on this path who might attack you. But then, you see a beautiful bird, or a gentle wind picks up, rustling the trees and reminding you that it’s all ok…

I’m on this path to get myself through depression, an empty nest, and all this garbage I’m carrying around.  Walking helps me quiet those negative thoughts. Blogging helps me put my emotions in the right boxes. The only part of this journey is that I don’t know what’s at the end.  Which is why this walk was so on point as a representation of my journey.  When I got to the end of the trail, I found a wonderful place to sit, rest, and pray.  As I walked back to my car, I realized the path hadn’t ended.  I can go back again, and find even more new insights into myself, and what God has planned for me.

I think Robert Frost got it wrong.  Either path is a good one. Just being out on that path makes all the difference…

 

park bench

If Wishes Were Horses…

wisheshorses

My mother survived on wishes, “ifs”, and “whens.”  When you’re poor, overwhelmed, and abused, that’s all you have.  She gave birth to 10 kids. She worked night shift at the hospital. And she was greatly under-appreciated.  I’ve been sitting on this post for a very long time.  I let my father’s abusive lies steer my thinking so that I actually believed everything was her fault. She deserved it.  She was not worth loving, and definitely not smart or pretty or deserving respect (unless he said so at the time.)

When she wasn’t being beaten physically and emotionally by him, she had to take care of him.  When he was sick, he was kind. When he was healthy he drank and abused her.  We would snear and snarl when she went out to buy his beer for him, not thinking about what would happen to her if she ever said no. We followed the leader when he told us she was stupid.  We listened when he said she was ugly and fat, and would only look at her with disdain.

By the time I was old enough and smart enough to know how wrong I was, he was long since dead, and she was blissfully living with her dementia.  She had re-created her past to edit out the negative.  In her mind he was good to her and never ever raised a hand to her.  I couldn’t understand. My mind could not comprehend how you could ever forget those beatings.  But she did.  And now I see with complete clarity how strong she was. She tried to leave once. But when you have that many kids, and no car, and no laws to protect you back then, your choices were not limited- they were nonexistent.  The amount of strength it took to go back into that house after trying to leave is indescribable.  Not many people are that brave.

She was a lover of love.  Christmas was her favorite holiday, and we would be the beneficiary of her joy, regardless of whether we could afford it.  Her generosity was legendary.  She worked in a nursing home, and would bring home lonely people to eat Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner with us.  I can still picture the looooooong table set up in the living room, filled with food, all 10 of us kids crammed in, and an old man with a smile that I can still see.  As a kid, I found it creepy. As an adult, I love her even more because of how she cared.  I still try to carry on her tradition. I hope I can be just like her.

A Kindergartener was accidentally hit by a car just outside our home one winter.  My mother ran outside and wrapped that little girl in her coat. The only coat my Mom owned.  She got it back, blood stained.  It took considerable washing and rinsing, but she continued to wear it. Because it was all she had.  When we received a care package on our doorstep, it was her idea to give all the food away to others.  We had food in the cupboard. She knew people who didn’t, so she would grab the phone and start making calls.

I need to tell the world I was wrong for most of my life.  Shirley McPhillips Sonju was one of the most incredible human beings God ever created.  When she laughed, her eyes would sparkle, but the best gleam would come into her eyes when we would sit next to her on her chair and she would let us into her “Ifs and Ands” world.  It was so easy to picture her dreams as she unfolded her story of how she wished we could live.  We were mistaken in thinking these were pipe dreams that would only lead to heartbroken reality.  She was giving us her hopes and visions.  This was her way of telling us how to survive when life isn’t going well.  You dream, and you hold onto those dreams.  Find positive thoughts wherever you can.

If wishes were  horses, beggars would ride… well let me tell you, this lady rode on a pretty gallant steed.

 

Unexpect the Expected

 

nate

The hurricane missed us. After spending hours suffering through long lines waiting to buy toilet paper, water, and comfort food in the form of my favorite chips.  After walking the yard picking up stuff that could potentially fly higher than a Mariah Carey song that makes a dog howl.  After watching endless hours of video loops of impending doom.  What? Where are the reporters in raincoats being whipped around?  I’m supposed to be relieved. Instead, I’m annoyed. I didn’t get the excitement that was planned. I feel jilted. I began the hurricane journey not believing that it would hit us.   I want that feeling of pastoral simplicity back again.

The same thing happens when you stay in a hotel.  You’re sleeping soundly, ignorant of all that is around you UNTIL a brief sound from the tv next door slips through the wall. All of a sudden, you can hear the entire movie, and you remember just how annoying Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice can be.  You want that quiet peacefulness that you felt before that moment was snatched away forever.

atypical

I’ve never been how a traditional Army wife is portrayed.  You expect the officer’s wife to be cute, thin, and eternally perky. Or eternally bitchy.  The expectation of what even I have perceived is not what is looking at me in the mirror.  When I walk into a room, do they wish I was someone else?

With expectation comes feelings. Whether excitement or contentment, human beings want the status quo. You feel secure in knowing that what you think is reality. You want to be RIGHT.  And when it’s not, it puts you in a position of uncertainty.  Whether or not you want it, you’re pushed past the expected, into a new way of thinking and feeling.

I didn’t have the problems associated with a hurricane. But my yard is cleaned up, and I don’t have to buy toilet paper for at LEAST a year.  I got out of bed because of the tv, and didn’t lose a minute of a glorious day.  I know I don’t LOOK like I belong on the tv show Army Wives, but I certainly want to let everyone around me know that I care so much more than they could ever imagine.

Don’t expect the unexpected. Unexpect the expected. Time is moving forward, life is moving on, and so am I.

new thing

Camp Disappointment

If you’re a lover of history, I invite you to investigate the trials and tribulations of Lewis & Clark’s “Corps of Discovery Expedition.”  Pay particular attention to the part where they explain the epic disaster that led to a place in Montana that they called “Camp Disappointment.”  At this point in the expedition the mission was to find if the Missouri River reached the Atlantic.  It didn’t. It went in a different direction.  It was supposedly a beautiful place, but it was cold and rainy and miserable.  Everyplace else they went had lots of game and food. Except here. They met some friendly Blackfeet Indians.  The Indians discovered the party was  trading guns with enemies of the Blackfoot.  During the night, attempting to take the guns, 2 Indians were killed. So much for friendship.

Now, tell me if I’m wrong here, but when I think about a trip like this, the last word I’d use is “disappointment.” If I were giving it a name, I’d have called it “Camp Epically Terrible” or “Get-Me-Out-Of-This-God-Forsaken-Hell-Hole.” I mean, if you’re going to describe how yucky something is, give it a TRUE name. If you’re cold, hungry, wet, under a threat of death, and just found out your entire mission was a wash, you’d hardly describe yourself as disappointed!  There’s another D word for that.

Depression.  The word that is FAR too easy to pronounce compared to how it feels.  “Bottom Feeding Life Sucking Blahs” is  much more descriptive.  And it hits you so fast, that you can’t figure out from which direction it’s blasting you.  I can be all up and running in the morning, and not wanting to so much as look out the window in the afternoon.  And  you know it’s going to be a bad day if you wake up that way.

This is supposed to be normal when you’re 52.  “Your hormones are out of whack, and they just need to stabilize,” says the perky 12 year old doctor.  He knows because he read it in a book once…  He gave me some advice on non-medicated ways to help.  And my cynical, sarcastic, and snarky 52 year old self decided to give my answers to each one.

  1. Get some sunshine. Vitamin D helps.- right up until you burn your scalp because your hair is thinning and falling out.
  2. Get more vitamins.- why did my mind just picture Flintstone Chewables?  Those things were NASTY.
  3.  Eat a healthy diet of green vegetables.- I’m certainly going to count the celery stick in my bloody mary as a serving of vegetables.
  4. Get some exercise.- EVERYTHING is solved by exercise. Except shin splints, blisters, and the nasty rash you get when your thighs rub together… And PLEASE don’t mention yoga. No amount of Bean-o is going to help me with my last “Down Dog Disaster.”
  5. Read your Bible.- Great. So I can compare my misery to those who had it worse?  Reminds me of my mother. “What? You broke your leg?  Well it’s nothing compared to what I-I-I went through. You couldn’t possibly survive what I had to endure.”  She was the gold medal winner of competition martyrdom.
  6. Go to therapy.- THAT would mean I have to leave the house and TALK. TO. PEOPLE!!! Has this guy not been LISTENING?kid doctor

But, Doogie Howser is right.  I need to do these things.  And probably take some medication if things don’t change.  Depression isn’t funny when you’re in the middle of it.  Merriwether Lewis and his party was not having fun during this leg of his camp-out.  So go ahead, give the feeling some names.  And the next time my Camp Disappointment has been set up again, here’s hoping that it doesn’t last very long…

Harvest

 

This is the time of the year I always enjoy. Growing up in Glacier County, Montana, I saw the alpha and omega of the way wheat came into being. The folks in my family weren’t farmers with the exception of one sister who married a farmer. The rest of us lucky or unlucky folks lived on the main road into town and would see the agricultural process in it’s economic form.  In spring, we’d see the farmers coming into town to get seeds and moving equipment from one place to another to plant the seed.  But the BEST time, the busiest time, was harvest.  The town would be alive with trucks and trains and people coming to town looking for work.  Combines would work in tandem cutting the golden wheat underneath the clear azure sky.  Long lines of grain trucks would traverse the roads in all directions as they ferried the grain from the combines to the grain elevators in town.  And the trains! Night and day, day into the next night, until the last grain was lifted from the stores in the elevator.  If the trains were slow, you’d see the grain piled on the ground, patiently waiting to be moved.  The process was fine-tuned, but always had some farmer’s hair on fire as he had to wait for someone else to get his blankety blank trucks out of the way.  So why is this so important to me now?

harvest 3

Because it’s what happened to the grain next.  It becomes food.  Food that not everyone can afford.  What amazed me the absolute most- some of those farmers who grew that wheat, would spend more to grow it than they got selling it.  Those farmers families would go hungry.  How on earth can someone who grows FOOD not be able to feed his family?

It doesn’t go unnoticed for me that we have food bank drives at harvest time.  We clear out our pantries of all the foods we haven’t eaten or bought when we wanted to try a new recipe that never happened.  We harvest our pantries!  I remember as a child many days when we didn’t have enough food.  But more than that, I recall the day we received a care package on the front door of food. At that time, we did have food on the table, so my parents split up the package and gave it away to the people they knew who didn’t have any.  My parents harvested.

As I prepare for this move, I know I’m going to give away all the food in the pantry and the freezer, but I just feel like there’s something more.  Not sure just what exactly is in store for me.  I’ll be giving, like I always do, but even more. God, help me on this.  Help me not get frustrated that the next guy in front of me has to get his blankety blank truck out of the way.  Help me make sure that ALL of my harvest is picked up and not stockpiled.  Help me do whatever You want me to do REALLY well.

 

 

I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own…

 

 

My favorite phrase from Adam Savage of Myth Busters.  I sometimes get completely stuck in my own head.  I KNOW you have an opinion. Your point of view is acceptable for you, but not for me sometimes.  The problem revolves around what I will do with that discord between your reality, and my perception of it.  And let’s add a little twist… if I don’t talk to you about it, and continue on my own little journey, then I create this world where I am the hero, and you have no choice but to be the villain in my world.

baron

I have created a world where Baron von Munchausen is extolling the “truth”, and because it’s entertaining, it must be TRUTH.  *Let’s back up a little here. Some insight into Baron von Munchausen: I just watched the movie, and it was creepily entertaining.  This veteran with royal blood spins his wildly elaborate yarns about how he led his compatriots to not only win a war with a Turkish sultan, but he defeated a king on the moon (played hilariously by Robin Williams!)  After some research, I found out it’s based upon a book written in 1785 by Rudolph Eric Raspe, which was of itself based upon wild stories told by Karl Friederich Hieronymus, Baron of Munchausen. In order to make himself seem more important, the Baron would create bizarre and lengthy stories of his bravery and importance. Although no one believed the Baron, he continued to consider himself as the hero to all sorts of trials and tribulations, all of which only he could resolve.

Adventures_of_baron_munchausen

Just like the Baron, when I don’t talk to you, I’m important. I’m brave. I’m RIGHT.  But that isn’t the way God makes us. We’re supposed to have dialog.  Having a conversation with another person allows me to see your point of view in the light of day.  I may say something that will change your mind, or you may say something that will open my eyes enough to see things differently. OR we may both walk away with our ideas set, but at least we know the other point of view.  When we let a third person or a media outlet or FaceBook post into the conversation, we have removed the dialog that could have resulted in an understanding. Suddenly, we have given Baron von Munchausen’s stories credibility. We have put his stories out as gospel truth.  When opinions are the only facts, we often find that truth is pushed aside for the sake of agendas.

But when it comes down to me, I know I need to talk to people. To open a line of communication grounded in facts, but not overwhelmed by my own selfish nature.  This is probably going to be the most difficult part of my quest- which isn’t all that surprising. I hate conflict so much that I am often the cause of it.  So, here goes the first goal of my journey: I will change the way I communicate so that I ensure that I leave with a peaceful heart.  Easy to say, now let’s see how easy it is to do…

reap

 

“Just”- The Heaviest Word in the English Language

just

I’ve become very afraid of this word.  The word “just” implies that whatever action that occurs next will be easy.  But hidden within that word is the unspoken imperative to not take the time to think it through.  Take the action now, and worry about the consequences later. “We’ll just go off the pill and get pregnant.”  “Just call her.”  “You need to just jump right in and get going.”  We love the idea of adventure, but not considering the consequences can lead to greater struggles.

    just go

We were moving to a new area, and I honestly believed I would find a teaching job during a major recession. Naturally, it didn’t happen as I had planned.  So I decided, “I’ll JUST do daycare from my home!”  Foolish and incredibly naive me…  That JUST became a long list of regulations and considerable out-pouring of cash just to get ready.  To complicate matters, my sons did NOT approve of having other kids get all my time and THEIR space.  JUST required me to work over 80 hours a week prepping, teaching, cleaning, and monitoring.

244084-quotes-just-smile-and-wave

So here we are, moving again, and I’m trying to avoid my husband as he uses the “J” word about me working up there.  It’s scary considering all that this implies.  When you go out looking for a job, you place yourself in one of the most vulnerable positions as an adult.  You KNOW you’re going to be rejected at least once.  More than likely, it will be far greater than once.

let God

So, when I talk about going on this quest, I have to say “Just Do It.”  And not think it through. And not consider the negative implications that this word has carried with it in the past.  And now, we’re back to faith.  Faith that not only will you have some tribulations, but the benefits gained from those trials will be greater than you could ever imagine. By doing the home daycare, I met some really incredible people, and taught some amazing kids.  My sons and my husband came to fully comprehend the amount of work it takes to teach.  And the jobs I have been rejected from have led to even greater things that were in store for me.

The word “Just” has considerable weight, and will probably require a considerable amount of faith.  So go ahead. “Just go…”

just God