Monday, December 30, 2013

On Moving Forwards

We've reached that point in the year when it's customary to look back at the year we are leaving behind. To take stock of the days behind us and pass judgement on them as either a success, or a failure. To look at that list of goals or resolutions we penned back when the year was fresh, and determine if we have achieved what we set out for, or if we managed to fall short. 

It's easy to face the new year, when you are coming off a year with little to no turmoil. When you can count on only two hands the amount of heartache that has come into your life. When you can look at that list of goals and check off at least half and feel that even if you didn't quite achieve them all, you did pretty OK. 

Ann Voskamp said, " How in the world do you step hopeful into the next year, when you tripped messy through the last year? How do you stand brave with all the smiling rest and ring in the new year when the old year still feels a bit like a millstone around the neck? What if everyone else is making New Year's resolutions and you just want New You solutions? "

It's easy to sit in reflection of a year that has been less then ideal, and feel like you want a do-over. To wish that you could go back and change this or that, or to look at that list of goals and things you wanted to accomplish, and feel like a world class failure. To dwell on all the bad choices that you made that led to that list not getting checked off, or to want to start again with the same things you always focus on. To get stuck in a rut that will no likely, have you sitting in the same place at this time next year. 

Phillipians 3:13-14 reads: “But one thing I doforgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

For 2014, I'm moving forward. I'm letting go of the past hurt and disappointments. I am done dwelling on the why-nots and the why-can'ts and the how-comes. I am not going to spend any more mental energy thinking about where we have been, or where I have been, or what didn't get done or didn't work, and I am moving forward. Every time I fall, instead of getting caught in the trap of "here we are again", I am going to pick myself up, and start over again. Looking at how I can learn, and how it can help me to grow. 

Care to join me? 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

One Little Word: 2014

At the end of last year, I sat in my office staring out the window with tears running down my face and typed this post about how I was going to revisit my word from 2012 in 2013. After several miserable months of feeling like my world was falling apart, I planned to spend a lot of time focusing on putting myself back together. On finding myself and rediscovering who I was again. 

2013 wasn't exactly the year I had hoped for. The year started out rocky, my relationship was a mess for the better part of half the year, we had a horrible situation to deal with in my extended family, we lost our dog in late October, I lost a dear friend to cancer and my MIL was just released from the hospital the night before last. 

Through that all however, over these last 6 months I have begun to find myself again. I discovered that in order to survive the mess that my relationship was turning into, I had to stop focusing on what wasn't working, and what was broken, and start focusing on me. I had to start looking at my contributions to it and what I could be doing to make things better. It wasn't easy, and it's a recommitment that I have to make every single day and sometimes more than once a day, but it has made such a difference. Right now, we are in a much better place than we have been in a long time, moving forward and upward and I thank God every day for giving me the strength to stick it out. 

I discovered things about myself that I didn't feel positively about, and I have been working on changing them. Again, this hasn't been an easy process, and sometimes I slide backwards, but I apologize and move forward. I have spent a lot of time thinking about who I want to be, and how I want to be, and I"m still working on it. I will continue with this in 2014. 

Looking forward however, what I want from 2014 is for it to be a year of restoration. 

: noun- 1. the act or process of returning something to it's original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc. 2. the act of bringing back something that existed before 3. the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

I want to keep working on moving my marriage forward into what looks to be something better than it's ever been before. I have been working on changing me and in the process of not focusing on him, he has taken it upon himself to do better. To look at himself and see what needed doing. We are both doing our best and I am hoping that 2014 can be a year for our relationship to thrive. We haven't had a good relationship in a long, long time. 

I want to keep working on finding myself. I have started college, I am working on starting a plan for what I want to do with my future and through the process of rehabbing my knee so that I can start running again, I'm making my whole self stronger. 

So what I want from 2014, is restoration. I feel hopeful that I will be able to get to the end of next year, and have achieved this goal. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Letter to My Boy On His Birthday

Back when you were in elementary school, you hated that your birthday fell during Christmas vacation. You didn't think it was fair that everyone else got to celebrate their birthdays at school with their friends, and cupcakes or treats that their moms brought in, and your birthday was a day during vacation, which wasn't even the same as having it on a weekend. In response to this, I would remind you that your sister had a birthday during the summer, and she never got to celebrate her birthday at school either. You didn't care, and that didn't make it any better. I tried really hard over the years to make sure that your birthday was kept separate from Christmas, and we tried to plan for your family parties to be the weekend after Christmas was over. I hated when people gave you gifts for Christmas and said, "This is for your birthday and Christmas." I guess if I am grateful for one thing, it's that you weren't born ON Christmas Day. Can you imagine how awful that would've been? Take the few extra days, and relish in the fact that it's never going to be 102 degrees with 89% humidity on your birthday. She can't say the same thing about hers.

Now that you are in college I find myself enjoying the fact that your birthday is over Christmas break. If it were during the school year you would be away at school doing important learning, or whatever things you do at school that aren't learning. You would likely celebrate it with your friends in COSI, which I am sure you would find all sorts of pleasure in. If it were during the summer you would be off working at some important job that is going to be a stepping stone to the most amazing career that you will come by without too much effort. Likely that job will be on the other side of the country, which means that you'd be celebrating it without us. But because it is over Christmas break, you are here with us. For this year, and at least the next 3 years, you will be at home for your birthday. I get a few more years to celebrate with you, before you go off on your own. 

I promise that I won't be like Grammy and have you come back home for birthday dinners. If you would like to come home for dinner on your birthday, that is fine and I would be happy to have you here. That choice however, is entirely up to you. It is your special day and I will always honor your wishes to celebrate it how you'd like. 

For now though, I am going to try not to think about how this is your last year as a teenager. How next year, you will turn 20, and then the year after that you will be 21 and legal to do all the rest of the things you can't quite do yet. How in just a few years, you will be leaving for good, to go off and and find your own place in the world. Happy Birthday Corey. Keep blazing that trail.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Catching Up: A New Niece

Growing up I was surrounded by boys. Having only brothers meant that I was outnumbered when it came to answering "What do you want to play?" and "What should we watch on TV?" If I was lucky enough to get up early, I could watch what I wanted. If I played with them first, they might be convinced to play with me later. Some of them would play with me just because they thought my toys were cool. Others, wouldn't be caught dead. I thought when they got older it would mean that they would bring some cute friends over, but that never worked out in my favor either. They were loud, their music tastes were awful, they ate everything that wasn't nailed down and their rooms smelled funny.

I hated being the only girl. I longed for a sister to tell my secrets to. I wished for someone to share clothes with, and to do my hair while we sat on a bed and giggled over who was crushing on who at school. I envied my friends who had sisters and the relationships that they had with them. I envied my brothers for that matter, because they had the kind of relationships that I wished for. Granted, they weren't perfect, and when we were younger they were a little rougher, but they were boys, and got each other. I wanted what they had.  It just wasn't fair.

Now that I am older, and our siblings are starting to have kids of their own, I am surrounded by little girls. Each time the ultrasound appointment comes to pass and we get another announcement of "It's a girl!", I give a secret wink in the direction of the sky. I relish in the cute little clothes that I can buy at the store, and the adorable patterns that are available for knitting when it comes to girls. I tell everyone that all of these nieces are my reward for surviving a lifetime of boys. I get a lot of laughs when I announce that, but I'm really not kidding. Nothing makes my heart happier then spending time with my girls.

In early November, my brother Brian and his girlfriend gave birth to this little peanut, who is the first baby to be born in our family since my daughter, almost 16.5 years ago. She was born just about the same size as I was all those years ago, and is just the cutest little thing EVER. I'm told all she does is want to be held all day and fusses and cries, but every time I get my hands on her, all she does is snuggle and sleep. She was the perfect gift this year.

Just a week later, I found out that my sweet sister-in-law, who has been trying with some complicates to have a baby for 11 years now, is due in early June. They find out the gender on New Years Eve, and while I would love to have a little boy to spoil rotten, the gut feeling in my heart says girl. Of course, no matter what, we are praying for healthy, but I've already been eyeballing some new patterns for the summer. They may or may not be dresses. One of these days I am going to have a grand tea party with all of those girls, and it is going to be glorious.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catching Up: Our First Trip to Visit Him at College

When I sent him off to college, there was a small shard of fear wedged into this mama's heart. My boy has had a rough couple of years, and while he's in a much better place now, he's been here for me to keep an eye on. To be able to monitor for signs that things are starting to slide backwards and we need to take steps to get them headed in the right direction again. The idea of him being so far away, with no one who knew where he's been and what demons he fights, kept me up a few long nights over the last weeks of summer break. Would he ask for help if he needed it? Would anyone notice if he started to withdraw and fall back into the darkness? Would his meds keep working the way that he needed them too, and would he remember to take them every day?

Talking to him, just through FaceBook messenger during those first weeks made me feel a little bit better, but not much. He said he was doing fine, things were going well and he really liked school. Comments he made to questions others asked confirmed this same sentiment, but there is that screen between reality and the written word. My worried mind wondered, "Is he really, or is he just typing that so I don't worry?" Several Google Hang-out chats and phone calls eased my mind a little more, as he sounded happy, and he was meeting people and getting involved in things. My boy, who likes nothing more than to hole up in his space and have no one bother him, was out there interacting with the world.

At the end of October we had the opportunity to go visit him at school. Of course, I jumped at it. He was less then thrilled. The idea of "family weekend" was dumb and he didn't think we should bother coming. I told him that I had already booked our room, and we were coming at least this year. I needed to see with my own eyes that he was doing OK. That things really were going well and he wasn't just saying so. My mama instincts would hone right in on if anything was wrong with just one look and within less then 10 minutes. So one weekend around mid-late October, we drove up to his campus on a Friday.
We met him after his last class let go, and after some visiting and good natured poking fun at his sister, who was on crutches for being klutzy, we went for a long walk in the local cemetery, then out for dinner.

My boy was good, I could tell right away. He has found a group of like-minded friends who share a lot of his same interests. He has found a hang-out, with this same group of friends, in the Open-Source Lab. He has taken part in activities, he volunteered at the fall open house for the college, the list goes on and on. The weekend that we were there, the next day, when we had to leave early instead of staying and participating in the days events due to a band show Ash had to march in, he was scheduled to be competing in a computer coding competition between the two local colleges. l left, with a smile in my heart. Nothing will ever replace that small shard of fear that will always worry about him, but I feel much better about him being six hours away from home, out from under my watchful eye.