Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anger, Thankfulness, a Broken Arm, and Frozen Pizza

You ever have the feeling that you're riding on a freight train at 100 MPH and headed straight for a brick wall? No? Okay, maybe it's just me.

I literally just said these words to my husband: "I got Totinos Pizza for dinner because I'm kind of overwhelmed by everything else and dinner just doesn't fit in my brain."

Let me back up...

A few months ago my amazing, charming, devastatingly handsome, loving, wonderful husband started a new job working as a car salesman. (Technically his job title is Sales Professional; he reminds me of this regularly but it's easier to just say "car salesman.") This was a step of faith from the start and we both knew that.

One of the reasons he was looking to make the career move was in hopes of having more brain space for things like: Me. Friends. Time to build relationships. Time to read and get into the Word.

Key words: Space. Time.

These are very central themes in our hearts and in our hopes for our family and our future.

And these are the things I was feeling were greatly lacking as I was examining my heart and our life about a week ago. At his last job he would come home preoccupied and pretty well consumed with what was going on at work where he managed a rent to own retail store. Now he is navigating the balance of elation and disappointment and moving forward one step at a time. I am truly impressed with how well he is doing in all of it and I am finding my faith and my fortitude tested on a regular basis.

This is where I discovered some anger running around like a rabid raccoon in my heart. You see, anger has a way of finding a small opening in our hearts and wriggling through it undetected until we wake up one morning and feel all snappy and irritable for no apparent reason and the more we think about the things in our life that aren't going according to our desires the redder our face gets and the more steam seeps from our ears.

I realized that I was angry that things were so hard and that things weren't going my way and that I was having to be more selfless than I like and I wasn't getting everything I wanted. Of course, this realization came only after a couple of days of snapping at my family and being really grumpy. But it came. And after sorting through all of these things in my heart, I realized that I was mad at God for all of these things. Big shocker, eh?

I was angry that the gift He had given us through our friends of a second vehicle was not performing up to my standards. And everything we tried to do just wasn't working.
I was angry that this meant that my time without kids in the mornings was cut short so I could drive my husband to work and functioning with only one vehicle is exhausting and very time-consuming for me.
I was angry that all of the abundance that I know He promised and I can see coming is still just out of my reach and I have to wait for it. And wait for it... And wait some more.
I was angry that my husband is in this transition to a new job that feels like it is all-consuming and I end up feeling like I'm not a priority anymore because the majority of our conversation revolves around his work. (It is important to note here that as soon as I expressed my feelings to him on this, my man dropped everything for a day and a half and listened to me and did things I wanted to do and made it a point to fill my quality time love tank. Yep; he's amazing!)
I was angry at myself for being so selfish and needy.

It was good to realize this and to be able to tell my husband in full honesty that I wasn't angry with him for any of the crummy things we were dealing with and that I am still with him in this and that I know he is doing his very best and that I love him and that I respect him. That was great! I suppose it is best to just point my anger to the Lord rather than take it out on my loved ones who are more fragile and need more care from my heart. The Lord can take it; He's actually the only one fit to handle my selfish, needy, soul.

Now, if things were to end there and I just accepted my anger and didn't deal with it or hash it out with the Lord, this would be a very unhealthy place for me to hang out. And this is where thankfulness comes in.

You see, a thankful heart prepares the way for the Lord. Thankfulness has a way of completely changing the atmosphere. A thankful heart is a happy heart and if your heart is happy and thankful, there isn't room for the rabid raccoon of anger to prowl and prance.

So I had a long, heated discussion with the Father. Okay, okay, it was probably too one-sided to be dubbed a "discussion," but I did give Him some time to add His two cents or so. I told Him all of the things I was angry about and why and how I felt about it. I told Him that I realized I was mainly being ridiculous and dramatic (this is a commonly occurring theme in our conversations anyway, so it was no surprise to either of us). I told Him what I wanted: Time. Space. To feel alive. To feel seen. To feel loved.

And He was so great. I could imagine in my mind's eye Him giving me a little half-smile while He sat back with His arms crossed and listened to me patiently while I vented. And then I sensed Him sit forward with His elbows on His knees, hands clasped gently before Him, and look me in the eyes with a little humor but mostly unconditional love and tell me that He heard me; He saw me. He put His hand on my shoulder and reminded me that He loves me and that He has me. He reminded me that everything was going to be okay. When He told me that it would all make sense in time, I stubbornly retorted that I didn't care for things to make sense somewhere down the road but I wanted everything to be revealed NOW. He chuckled with a sparkle in His eye and said, "I know."

He knew I was still upset. I knew He was still there with me and He was right about everything. I knew it was okay for me to have the feelings I was having and that I wouldn't be feeling them forever and those feelings don't have to dictate where I go from here.

And then I got to my husband's work where I was picking him up after 9:00 pm while our houseguest stayed with our sleeping children. And I smiled and greeted my husband with grace I wasn't feeling and peace I couldn't muster.

My conversations with the Lord about my anger have been ongoing since then.

And then my husband broke his arm.

Yesterday I dropped my man off at work and went about my day as usual. We had just enjoyed a nice quiet breakfast together and he was telling me all of his plans for the coming day - great plans full of hope and aspirations for a productive day.

An hour later I got a text message from him letting me that he had fallen while running between buildings to deliver some paperwork and that his arm was hurting pretty bad. Long story short, we spent the remainder of the day at doctor's offices discovering that he has a fracture in his left elbow, will be out of work for at least a week, and will need surgery within a few days.

Here is where more thankfulness came flowing in and peace and grace was able to abound.

Josiah, who I picked up from school before meeting Tom at the doc, was with us for most of the process and he was AMAZING. Considering a trip to the grocery store is usually like managing a three-ring circus with that boy in tow and he typically eats lunch at 11:15 but had to wait until after 2:00, it was downright miraculous that he was calm and cooperative and sweet the entire time we were waiting and waiting and waiting.

We have amazing people around us. One friend, who works with Tom, drove him to the doctor and waited with him while I worked on getting there to meet him. One friend picked up the girls from school and let us know that they could stay as long as we needed them to. Another friend came and picked up Josiah from us just as he was about to lose his cool, then picked up our girls and fed all of our kids and helped them do their homework until we were finished with everything we needed for the day. Wow! I wish I could express in words my thankfulness for these beautiful friends!!

While this is an incredibly inconvenient and unfortunate situation, the damage could have been a lot worse and dealing with the company and workman's comp and all of that could have been much more of a headache. Everyone at Tom's work has been very sympathetic and helpful in every way they can.

All of the doctors and their staff that we dealt with yesterday were so kind and helpful and wonderful. If there's one thing I hate more than having to deal with medical things, period, it's having to do it with rude, cold, pretentious people. I was so grateful for medical staff who were genuine, thorough, and efficient.

And now I have lots of time with my favorite person in all the world... Waiting on him hand and foot, making sure he is comfortable, making sure he takes his meds when he should, driving him anywhere he needs to go, reassuring him when he starts to freak out. :)

The irony in all of this is not lost on me.

And neither is the beauty and grace.

My God is a funny, funny Man, and He loves me so much.

And so, although I still have some anger lingering and now I have even more questions than answers, I am choosing to rest and trust. And even with the overwhelming amount of items on my to-do list - including all of the Valentine's Day hoopla for the kids, getting Kylee in to an eye doctor to get her glasses, learning all of my lines for Fiddler, and keeping up all of the other things we have going on -  I am choosing thankfulness and praise.

And I am making frozen pizza for dinner.

Photo credit:
Hyundai logo http://www.sixt.com/hyundai-rental-cars/
angry raccoon http://4photos.net/en/image:121-119048-Angry_Racoon_images
Daddy's arms http://www.sermonsfromseattle.com/images/clip_image001_007.jpg
Totino's pizza http://static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/totinos-party-pizza-pepperoni-56825.jpg

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One Word for 2015: Abundance

Happy New Year!!

I love the energy around the new year. The beginning and the end all at the same time. I like taking time to look back on the year that is ending while anticipating the year ahead.

Last year I started a tradition of asking the Lord for one word to function as a sort of theme for the coming year. My word for 2014 was "Abide." Looking back on the year, I love how this word was interwoven in every part of my life.

I wrote this in my journal at the beginning of the year:

It has been quite clear that the Lord has brought me into a season of rest. I am rather enjoying (mostly) the adventure of discovering what resting actually means and looks like in my journey. The more I think on it, I am learning that rest does not equate to becoming stagnant, but rather involves continuing to move forward in a changing understanding, being renewed each step of the way. This is where Holy Spirit keeps whispering to me: "Abide."
In John 15 Jesus lays out a beautiful picture of abiding. Verse 3 says, "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." What?! Wow!! This verse is directly followed by, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." This is where life and growth take place. This is where the unconditional love and acceptance of Father God is realized. This is where healing and victory flow.
And this is where I am.
Abiding in love.
Abiding in truth.
Abiding in God's presence.
Abiding in God's acceptance.
And none of this is of myself; on my own I cannot survive - apart from the vine I am dead. And so I choose to abide because Jesus decided to abide in me.

2014 was full of beautiful opportunities to rest and abide. I can't say that I was exactly graceful in all of these opportunities, but I am thankful for the patience and grace I was offered in every one of them - from the Lord Himself as well as from the people around me that I am blessed to have in my life.

Closing out last year, I spent some time answering a list of "50 Questions to Help You Reflect, Appreciate, and Get Excited for 2015." This was a fantastic exercise that I am adding to my New Year's tradition. It was fun to take a good long look at all that I have to be thankful for from the previous year and it was exciting to take that reflection and look forward into what I want for the year to come.

And the word I got for this year I actually received a couple of months ago:


When I first heard Holy Spirit whisper this word to me, I kind of brushed it off as if I hadn't heard properly. What could be more self-absorbed or conceited, right? But when I considered what I wanted for the coming year, I kept coming back to that word: Abundance.

In 2015 I will turn 30. I have done a lot of living already and I love my life! That being said, I know that there is still a lot of life ahead of me and I want to live it to the fullest.

Which is when I remembered what Jesus said in John 10 - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." And then I wanted no other word for the coming year!

I want all that the Lord has in store for me - the blessings, the suffering, the challenges, the joy... the abundance. My faith is "yes" to the increase that the Lord is bringing for me, for my marriage, for my children, for my relationships, for my community, for my love, for my understanding, for my capacity to love.

Perhaps this is a risky way to hurdle into the new year, but I'm all in. I want nothing but Jesus; I will follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever He asks. There is nothing I want more than His presence; without Jesus I am absolutely nothing. He is my everything. He is abundance.

"From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another." (John 1:16)

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:11)

How about you? What are your traditions when welcoming a new year? What one word might you focus on for 2015?

Photo credit:
"Abide" abide-ft.jpg
"Abundance" abundance.jpg