Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Your Blog: Tim (How Not To Handle Grief)

This one moves me... Tim and his kids are very much part of my church family now.  You may recall me sharing about the passing of Tim's wife several years ago.

Here is the amazing thing - I see God all over the place in Tim's story.  It began, for many of us, as Michele's story.  Michele was who I had known through the Indy Moms online community.  But God brought a community together.  And it became clear that God was leading me towards supporting Tim and the kids- back before anyone in my church knew Tim, the same Worship Team that he now sings with was praying for him and his kids. One of my personal biggest God moments came when I got the clear nudge from above to go to the hospital and pray in the chapel... and to invite other moms to join me there.  I even remember standing and looking at the sky and wondering why God would ask me to do something that, at the time, was so outside of my comfort zone.

And God's hand continued to work through Tim's life.  And he wants to share that with all of you - which I think is pretty awesome.

*****

How Not To Handle Grief

My wife Michele passed away on 07/02/09, leaving me to raise our 4 kids by myself.

I was very angry with God.  I wondered how He could let her die. Why did He do this to my kids and myself?  I stopped going to church and felt very sorry for myself.

I decided not to let my kids see me cry because I wanted to be strong for them.  I was angry because I stepped down from a management position at work so I could be home as much as possible for my kids.  There were times that I yelled at my kids, and shouldn't have.

It took a couple years, but with nudging from my family, friends, and especially my kids, we started going back to church.

I realize now that God was there for us the whole time, if I would have just acknowledged Him.  He sent many people to help my family, some of them I have become good friends with.  He also blessed me by having people that knew Michele send letters telling me what a wonderful person she was and how she affected their lives.  God blessed me by giving me understanding bosses at work, because I've had to leave manyt imes to go get a sick kid from school.

Most of all, I've been blessed with 4 great, healthy kids.

I just wish I had embraced God at the beginning of this journey, when He first started knocking at my door.

My wife passed away from breast cancer, and I would like to remind all of you women out there to please get yourself checked on a regular basis.  I don't want any family to have to go through what we've been through.

If anyone is experiencing the loss of a loved one, please feel free to contact me through Liz. I would gladly listen to you and share my experience with you.  I feel that God wants me to help others through their grief.

God bless!
Tim



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Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Your Blog: Angelic



Hi, I'm Angelic and I'm a single mom. I'm not here to talk to you about the trials of being a 29 year old working, single mom. I'm here to talk about lyrics from one of my favorite songs and how they get me through when I'm feeling down. 

This is a song that most people probably haven't heard as I have a different love of music than most people. The song is "The One You Feed" by Crown The Empire and the lyrics that are the topic of this post are "The only way to shine your light is in the dark. Never let life kill your spark." 




I have tried followling this little saying long before I actually heard the lyrics. My twenties have been far from easy and have come with a lot of ups and downs. I've tried to hold on to what light I can and find the positives even when it seems there isn't anything.

You see, I'm a single mom because 5 years ago I had to walk away from a marriage that just wasn't very good. I'll spare you the details, but it left me in a very dark place and I struggled with liking myself. It was a battle for me to keep going. I suffered for quite awhile with self injury. I had to take away the emotional pain by causing myself some physical pain. Shortly after my divorce I started a relationship with yet another guy that ended poorly after two years and in that time I also had to go through two surgeries for Cervical Cancer. I pushed my way through it all though. Even while still suffering through self injury, I would work to find little things to cheer myself up and to be a bright spot.

For the last almost 2 1/2 years I went on a journey to find myself. One of my biggest bright spots has been music. It makes my inner "spark" brighter and shines when I feel like I'm in a dark place. It is a huge part of who I am and I was finally able to find that out. I've even stopped with harming myself. Yes the urge is there still sometimes but instead of injuring myself I will pick up my guitar and play or turn on my music and just listen. Going through those dark spots in life helped me shine my light brighter. I struggled but I didn't let it kill me though it tried many of times.

Remember that you have to go through some bad and rough moments to find the good. Even the smallest things can get you through those rough spots. Never let the darkness snuff out your fire! Don't let life kill your spark!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Share Your Story!


Someone out there has a story to share.  It doesn't have to be a big story, an important story, a life changing story.  It can be anything.

I've got the urge to share this blog space!

So please contact me - I would love to share this blog with you!


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week, Easter, and Loving My Church

This is a reprint from 2012.  I wanted to share why the recognition of Holy Week at my church means so much to me - and I also invite you to come and experience our Holy Week services.


*~*~*~*~*~*

I love Easter.  On the church calendar, it is my favorite holiday.  Chances are that you know the basics of the Easter story- Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, died, was buried in a tomb, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day.  We celebrate that day as Easter Sunday.

It carries a lot of reasons to celebrate and be joyful!

However, there is a church service, a recognition that happens prior to Easter.  Holy Week is filled with recognition of things that happened in that last week of Christ's life.  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

I haven't attended Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services in several years.  I don't have anything against them.

It's too emotional for me.

As a teen, when I really began to understand the events that lead up to and the crucifixion of Jesus, it became a very emotional story for me.  Learning about the whipping, the struggle of carrying the cross, the hatred of the people, the cruelty of crucifixion as a death sentence... the darkness of all of it has been hard for me to think about.

In 2004, I attended a Good Friday service at my church (The Promise United Methodist Church).  It was my first time visiting the church but I went because a friend was singing at the service and I wanted to support him.

5 days later, I miscarried my first pregnancy.

Somehow, all of the emotion of Good Friday tied in with that miscarriage experience and I have avoided Good Friday ever since.

Until this year.

Over the past year or so, I've been blessed to find myself in some leadership roles in my church.  I have given the sermon, I'm leading a ministry, I teach Sunday School, I'm helping to lead worship on our Praise Team, and more.  If there is something I really can't do, I say no.  Most of the time, I feel like a quick prayer lets me know if this is an important opportunity that God is bringing to me.

Early last week, our Associate Pastor (and my friend) called to ask if I would participate in the Scripture readings in the Good Friday Tenebrae service.  *gulp*

It's a beautiful service.  We sing "Were You There," our pastor gives a meditation/message, and then 4 of us read parts of Scripture that told the story of Good Friday.  There is a brief singing response after each reading as a candle on the alter is extinguished.

My last reading was the second to last passage to be read.  It is after Jesus has died and the soldiers come to break the legs of those hanging in order to speed up their death.  When it is discovered that he is already dead, they pierce his side.

I was nervous about reading this passage.  It's pretty emotional.  That's some crazy brutality, you know?  They aren't dying fast enough as they slowly suffocate on a cross where they are hanging by their hands and feet so let's break their legs so they die faster.  Oh- he's already dead so let's put a gash in his side so that he bleeds.

I stepped up to read.  And I cried as I read it.

When service was over, I left quickly.

I wasn't embarrassed.  But I wanted to be alone in that grief.  Selfishly, I wanted privacy in the pain I felt as I looked back on the incredible sacrifice made for me.

As I drove home, I contemplated my emotional display.  My hope is that the honesty of what I feel on Good Friday will come through to someone in a different way.  Perhaps they hadn't thought of the humanity of the story.  Perhaps it had always been just a story.

But what I took from it was that God called on me to do something outside of my comfort zone, to step outside of my self.  I know it seems like I'm great at talking in front of people, being confident, willing to do anything.  But the things I do for and with my church family are very serious to me.  This was a big step- to take something I've held as very intimate and personal, something that has been my own private mourning and grief- and share it with my church family.  I was nervous.  But there was a reason that I was asked and a reason why the emotion poured out.  I may not know the reason- maybe it was for me, maybe it was for someone else.

And Sunday?  When Jesus conquered death and returned to life?  My celebration, my joy was easy to share!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weakness

I like to joke about being egotistical.  I do like and love myself.  I no longer struggle with tons of self doubt, sel loathing, and a total lack of self confidence.  Such a weight off my entire being.

I'm known to crack jokes about how awesome I am.  I do so in the company of people who know me well enough to know that I'm kidding around.

Confidence is something that just kind of happens for me.  Doesn't mean I don't get nervous.  I certainly do.  But my faith and my general outlook on life help keep nerves in check.  I simply do the things I am called to do with the best purpose and intention behind them.

I say all of that to say that I think I could list a lot of my strengths pretty easily.

But my weaknesses?  That's a little more challenging.

I could easily list my food weaknesses.  My affection for cool ranch doritos, brownie mix, nutella, and more are almost legendary - at least in my mind.

I sometimes feel like I'm lazy.  Some people who know me scoff when I say that.  But I am lazy when it comes to housework.  When it comes to exercise.

I sometimes struggle with gossip.  Sometimes I do talk about people with love and concern.  But sometimes it's just to talk.

What about weaknesses that aren't character based?

If my husband were to pop a piece of Big Red gum in his mouth and then grab me and kiss me... I wouldn't be able to resist.

When my son looks at me with his Big Brown Eyes... I completely melt.

When my daughter shows that she is more independent and responsible... my heart flutters in my chest.

I don't think that weakness has to be a bad thing.  We tend to hear that word and immediately go to character flaws, problems, lack of something.

There is an exercise mantra that says, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  And I suppose that's true.  In a physiological sense, as the muscle is worked it tears slightly in order to build up.  Pain creates strength.  Strength being the opposite of weak.

But then I think about my husband's kiss, my son's eyes, my daughter's heart.  And if something dreadful were to happen to one of them... when they struggle or face hard times... I feel pain.  It takes on a different meaning.

What are your weaknesses?


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Confidence and Colors

We've had an interesting learning experience with Zach in the past few weeks.

His kindergarten class uses a color system for behavior.  You start on green.  You can go up to purple.  Or you can go down - to blue, then yellow, then orange, then red.  It takes many warnings and continued bad choices to move down the scale.  Green is ideal, blue is fine.  Purple is impressive.

My son has been putting a lot of pressure on himself and this color system has fed it.

Through our choices and his perceptions... anything lower than green was, in his mind, unacceptable.  Disappointing.  Not good enough.

But because he was putting all this pressure on himself over these colors... he was acting out in the classroom more.  Calling out answers instead of waiting to be called on.  Rough housing with a friend.  That sort of thing.

We started to become concerned when we were consistently seeing blue on his chart instead of green.  A blue day here and there is understandable.  But it was 3-4 out of 5 days.  He would be fine when he cam ehome but when we would check his folder to see his chart... or once we got to bedtime... he would have an angry meltdown and didn't want anyone to sit with him, touch him, or talk to him.  So we were giving him his space.

But one night... I'd had it.  And he started into his angry fit at bedtime and I decided that I wasn't going to give him his space and time.  We were going to figure it out and force our way through it together.

And eventually some very important words came from him.

"I don't even deserve blue! I should be on yellow!"

Whatever was going on with him... he'd entered into this cycle on this behavior stuff.  And he knew he wasn't doing his best but he was deciding to not care while he was at school and then all that bottled up feelings of making bad choices and trying to act like he was fine with it... would explode at night at home.

I told him that from that point forward, we didn't care if he had a purple or green or blue day.  That how his day goes at school based on a color isn't how we determine that we love him.  To us, he is all the time shiny and sparkly gold.  That our expectation isn't that he has a green day - our expectation is that he is kind to others and he tries his best.  We all have off days, bad days, awesome days, normal days.  A color doesn't decide that you're a good person or not.  In our house, you simply are good.  Loved.  Nurtured.

That was just over a week ago.  And his behavior at school has turned around.  He's on green most days and has even landed on purple twice.  And we don't pay attention to it unless he shares it with us.  We see his chart because it's there in his folder but we don't talk about it unless we're giving a high five for getting that purple day (it is hard to accomplish).

But I remind him that he is always shiny gold to us.



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Monday, April 14, 2014

Then, By Golly, I...

My mom and I heard the kids in the other room...

Left, left!
Left, right, left!

We looked at each other and smiled and said...

First they hired me!
Then they fired me!
Then by golly I...
Left! Left!
Left, right, left!

Then a wonderful thing happened.

My mom taught the little rhyme to my kids.  Teagan had a short struggle to understand what it meant but was having fun saying it.  And then came the gem...

Grandma, who taught you that?

My mom!

My grandma taught it to my mom.  My mom taught it to me.  And now it's been taught to my kids, too.

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