Friday, January 6, 2017

Do LESS of what makes you happy

Last night on mine and David's nightly walks we started talking about how sad it is that our churches are getting smaller and smaller.  We actually have this discussion quite often.  He'd heard of, yet another, former church member who had departed from our faith... and all faith for that matter.  It's sad how un-shocked we both seemed.  News like that used to bring about emotions of sadness or apallment, but lately it's not surprising to hear this kind of news.  

We talked about why this was more common now than it used to be. So I told him about a pet peeve I have, one that I believe is the major cause for what we're seeing today. 

Let me start off by telling you my most hated phrase of this generation: 

Do more of what makes you happy.  

It's awful and deceiving.  

The biggest problem in the world today is self-love.  This attitude sounds like a great idea and seemingly harmless, but in fact it's what's leading to the distruction of our homes and churches.  It tricks us into thinking that if you're not happy, all you have to do is change and do more of the things that make you happy and *poof* you're happy.  

If you're tired of taking care of your family, then sit on the couch there and read a book.  

If your wife has gained a few pounds, forget diets, just go out and find you a skinny, younger gal to take her place. 

If you're not happy with how your husband chews his food, kick him to the curb and find you someone new... with different things to annoy you.  

If you're tired of hearing the preacher tell you how much you sin, you don't need that!  Wouldn't you be happier just sleeping in on Sunday morning?  Or better yet, maybe go to the golf course! 

This phrase that comes across as the best advice you've ever heard is leading God's people in the wrong direction.  They think they are finding happiness, but there is no happiness to be found under those circumstances.  Only a big mess and more unhappiness.  

Nobody is happy, and they can't figure out why! 

So some of you are thinking: "Wait, what about going to the gym, or getting a peticure, or taking an afternoon break from the kids?  What about my sanity??"

Calm down people.  Don't take this to the extreme.  Taking care of ourselves is very important.  If we don't take care of ourselves, it will be really hard to take care of our family or job or church obligations. Even hobbies are good. I have them.  We all do.  It's okay.  I'm referring to people that put aside their obligations and duties in favor of things that are frivolous and self-serving.  

Thankfully, God gives us a remedy for the unhappiness that is plaguing today's people.  However, most people don't want to hear it.  

The number one thing we need to be doing in this life is serving God.  Go to church, read your bible and pray daily... or more.  

The number two thing  we need to be doing is serving each other.  That means putting others before ourselves.  Take care of our families, visit friends and church members, let someone cut in line, let the BMW merge in front of you...  I'm talking to myself here, so don't go thinking I'm an expert at this.  I'm just as depraved as the next guy.  Most of the time I know what I need to do to serve someone else, but my stupid nature comes out and makes me do something selfish.  *sigh* However, on the rare occasions when I do what I'm supposed to do, and serve God the way I should, I have found those moments of pure joy.  I've seen it.  I've felt it.  I screw it up a lot... and then I try my best to get back to it.  When you're there, it's the most magnificent feeling in the world.  True happiness.  

So my advice... 

Do LESS of what makes YOU happy, and MORE of what makes God happy and others happy, and in the end you will find happiness.  

J-esus first
O-thers second 
Y-ourself last

Seems to spell out joy to me.  

Think about it. 

LLM



Monday, December 26, 2016

Cookie Cutter

In the past I've learned that blogging is a journey of self discovery for me.  I'll get that twinge of inspiration to write about something, but I won't really know why until I'm in the thick of it.  Then when it hits me, I'm flooded with all these new thoughts and end up crying nonstop till I figure out what deep seeded emotion led to my twinge. 

 That's how this post started.  

I usually try very hard to not be a jealous person.  So when the feelings of jealousy hit I had to find out where it was coming from.  

Here's the thing... This Christmas it's been hard for me to see all the little cookie cutter families.  You know the kind, perfect mom, perfect dad, perfect well behaved impeccably dressed kids, blah, blah, blah.  Families out Christmas shopping, doing crafts or baking cookies.  All of the usual family Christmas type stuff.  

But I have to ask myself:  Why is it hard for me to see these families this year when it hasn't bothered me before?  

There was a time when I had that kind of life.  I was the mom in a cute little family of four, plus one dog.  I've had past Christmases where I did all those wonderful things like crafts with the boys, baking Santa cookies with them and putting out carrots for the reindeer.  From the outside looking in we were a Norman Rockwell painting.  But it wasn't perfect.  Not by far.  

So I ask myself:

Am I wanting my old life back?  Ha!... no. 

Am I missing that time?  Yes... in a way.  

What way?  I don't know! 

Let me see if I can work through what I'm thinking.  I do I miss the feeling of being in a cookie cutter family.  The mom, the dad, the kids.  The whole set up! But I don't miss my old life.  Maybe that's why my family failed... I was more interested in creating my own little cookie cutter family than I was in making sure I married the right man to have that family!

BINGO

I think I'm getting somewhere!  

David and I have had many talks about how we wish we'd have met each other first, and that our kids would be just ours, and not half of other people.  When each of us we're going through the Cookie Cutter phase, we were married to people that brought pain to our families.  So I guess now when I see those families, I wish that David and I could have it, you know, from the get go!  Like we could go back in time and relive that phase with what we know now.  We could do the Cookie Cutter phase all over again, and this time do it right! 

Sounds great, huh?  But I'm afraid that ship has sailed.  I will forever regret not being able to experience that phase of life with David.  

So, that answers part of my question..... but what about the other part?  Why is it bothering me more now? Why this year?  

Well, let's see, what else did I like about that time?  Doing things with the boys.  

Ok, can I still do things with the boys?  A little , but not really 

Why? They're getting older. 

There ya go!

My boys are growing up!  

At least my oldest is.   He's not interested in doing crafts with mom, or baking cookies anymore.  He rolls his eyes when we playfully talk about Santa.  He's grown out of so many things that we used to do, it's sad.  I miss him being little.  It also makes me realize it won't be long before my youngest will grow out of these things too.  

My eyes well up with tears when I see them growing and changing so fast.  I'm not ready! I really didn't think it would happen this fast.  I thought I had more time!  

*tears*

Ok, I'm better. 

I know I'm not really jealous of little cookie cutter families all smiling and happy.  They are all beautiful families that I pray never have to go through what we've been through.  But there are lessons to take away from my ramblings... 

One, we need to be teaching our children not to rush into marriage.  Pray for them to marry the right person, and teach them to do the same.  The family part will come in time, but if you don't get the spouse part right it's more likely to fall apart. 

And two, even though I'd heard it a hundred times, enjoy every minute your kids are little.  It goes by so fast and before you know it, it's over.  I know I'll be savoring every moment I have left with mine.  

LLM


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Say yes


A dear friend took me aside a few months ago to share with me some words of wisdom.  You see, she too found herself in my situation.  She was divorced at an early age with two small children.  She also then married an older man.  Her grandmother, who had also married up - as I like to call it-  gave her this advice....  

Make every moment count.  Whether you are with him for two years or twenty, it doesn't matter.  Go with him to meetings every chance you can.  Do the extra little things like take walks and spend time just the two of you.  Go on dates.  Hold hands.  Go on trips.  These chances won't be there forever, you have to enjoy your marriage now.  

I try very hard to live by this.  So does David. We go to meetings, we squeeze in dates whenever we can.  We have our evening ritual that is quality time with each other.  Every time he's says "How do you feel about doing this....  or going here.... or visiting such and such place....".  I say yes.  And so does he when I get hair brained ideas.  We take road trips with and without  our kids.  We fly to this meeting or that meeting.  We go antiquing through the hill country of Texas.  It's wonderful! There are some circumstances that require me to have to stay at home, but I try to say yes as often as I can.

This week a different friend lost her husband in a tragedy.  It reminded me of this philosophy to always say yes to doing things with your spouse.  In this day and age we can't take growing old together for granted.  We aren't guaranteed tomorrow.  This goes for spouses, kids and everyone we love.  

It takes time.  It takes effort.  Sometimes it's even exhausting, but I've never regretted one moment I've spent with David or our boys.  

I guess you can say our household has a "Carpe Diem" attitude.  We seize every chance to make wonderful memories, and we thank God for the opportunity to do so.  

Don't take your days together for granted.  Seize them.  

LLM


Thursday, June 9, 2016

The worst part of the whole deal

About five years ago I was walking into a restaurant just off a major highway in Arkansas. I saw two cars parked out near the road with people standing near them. It quickly occurred to me what I was witnessing.  It was a kid swap. These parents were divorced and lived far away from each other. This restaurant was their meeting location to get the kids from one parent to another.  I saw one parent hugging them goodbye, and the other accepting them with additional hugs.  

Of course, given my lack of marital problems at the time, My first thought was "How sad."  Which was probably followed by "That will never be me....  Blah, blah, blah....."  

Fast forward five years to yesterday at a restaurant parking lot in Dallas, TX, just off the highway.  Two parked cars out near the road where I sadly hugged my boys goodbye, and sent them with their dad to Arkansas for three weeks.  

I'm that person now, and I'm really going to miss them this time, and let me explain why I said 'this time.'

love my boys with every ounce of my being.  They have been my world for over eleven years now.  I have put countless hours of blood, sweat and tears into them with everything we have been through these past five years. But here's the thing, when kids are going through something traumatic and life changing, it will usually make them do things like act out, throw fits, cop an attitude, and/or build up walls around themselves.  I've seen all of these in my boys.  Just when things would start to get better something else would happen and turn their world upside down all over again.  If it wasn't the divorce, it was moving houses, then it was my engagement to be followed by the biggest change of all, moving to Texas, away from their dad, to a house and family they barely knew.  You could say I've had almost five straight years of whining, griping, crying, talking back, and silent treatments.  It could easily be one of those "If I had a nickel for every (fill in the blank)....." 

Boy would I be rich!

After we first moved to Texas, the boys would go to Arkansas for a week or so, and I actually welcomed that time.  I was still sad to say goodbye and missed them, but I will admit, it was nice to have the break.  It was a time for me to kick back and know that there wasn't going to be any griping or back talking for a little while.

However, the past six months or so have been different.  My boys are finally starting to understand what it means to have a stable home life.  The whining has  diminished significantly, the attitudes are being kept at bay and the walls are coming down.  Friendships are being forged between them and David.  Big brother/little brother relationships are now normal and not forced.  And thankfully, the little boys are learning from David and the older boys that respecting Mom isn't an option.  They needed to be taught that by someone other than me. Now I can say that not only do I love my boys, but I like them too. I enjoy their company. They are both so funny and have great personalities, carrying on a conversation with them is a joy instead of a chore.  

So, yes, this time around is different, I'm really going to miss them.  I cried when I said goodbye to them in the parking lot, and I've cried a few times since.  It was hard to come back home without them.  I need them in my life, I'm not complete without them. But, that's the trade off.  For me to be able to live with them down here in south Texas, they have to have their allotted times in Arkansas.  It will be that way till they are grown. That's just how it's going to be, and that's the worst part of the whole deal.  

So, just a word to the wise, if you are ever the witness of a kid swap in a parking lot, don't have the thoughts that I had.  Just pray for them, and thank God for not being in that situation.  


Friday, April 15, 2016

Paradise

It's crazy how fast something new starts to feel like the way it's always been.  It's hard to imagine my life before David, and thankfully, it's hard for my boys to as well.   

It's been almost two years.  In some ways that sounds like an eternity, but really it went by in the blink of an eye.  

It seems like my whole life I've been living for either something in the future or something in the past.  Until now.  I'm so happy, I can barely comprehend it.  

Philippians 4:11-12 KJV
[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 

This is one of my favorite verses in the bible.  I hated living my life with the thought of "if I could just get to this point everything will be perfect."  Or "if I could just get back to such and such everything will be great."

No.  

No.  

Never again.  

Don't get me wrong, I still have goals and dreams, and boys to move out of this house.  But it doesn't matter.  My happiness is not based on those things.  When I go to bed at night, I dream about the next day.  I can't wait for it to get here.  I'm perfectly content with the imperfections of our imperfect little family.  

I like the phrase: 'Just another day in paradise'. And it is.  This life I live is paradise.  Bring on the troubles, bring on the tribulations.  They're there.  They're always there.  But it doesn't matter.  I have my own little corner of paradise in the middle of a huge city.  

Who'd have thought?  

All that's left is to pray each night to thank God for the life I've been given, and to ask for just one more day in paradise.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Good thoughts

I was visiting with my sister in law over Christmas, and she told me something I completely love and want to share for other women to read.  

She and my brother in law just celebrated their 32nd anniversary, and talking about it she said:  "He and I have disagreed over the years.  We've had fights and knock down drag outs, but in the end, the Lord picked me to take care of him and I take that job very seriously."  

That is a point of view I love so much.  I think every woman should go into marriage with that attitude.  I worry that women feel they should be spoiled rotten in a marriage, and when they find out it's work they are disappointed.  

In fact this would work for husbands too.  Husbands and wives both should understand that the Lord picked them to take care of their mate.  If we live everyday with that thought in mind, our marriages would be better than they've ever been.  I really do believe that.  

LLM



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The prognosis

My therapy is already over.  Six sessions went by fast.  It wasn't quite what I expected.  I guess I thought it would be somewhere I could go and talk about my problems, and in return I would be coddled and stroked and made to feel better.  It wasn't like that at all.  Instead I was told everything I was doing wrong in my life to cause the problems I was having.  That wasn't fun to hear at all!  

I do think that talking to someone about my problems was a good thing.  I learned how I should be dealing with the issues in my life.  I still believe that praying about them is the number one thing to do, but I also believe the Lord sends us people to help us and advise us.  I know this because I've been that person before.  I look back on conversations I've had with people and I know the Lord gave me the words to tell them.  I know I didn't come up with it on my own, I'm not that smart.  My life may have given me the experience to talk to them, but I couldn't have come up with that stuff on my own.  The Lord gives us words, and sends us temporary angels when we need them.  I can't count how many temporary angels have been sent to me in my life.  In fact, I doubt I even know about most of them. 

My therapist was a 53 year old woman, I'll call her C.C., that turned out to be a good match for me.  I believe the Lord sent me to C.C. for the advice I needed.  Someone that would listen to me like a friend, but would also tell me the hard things I needed to hear that no one else would tell me.  

It turns out my trust issues were the least of my problems.  I learned that I'm what is referred to as a Highly Sensitive Person or HSP.  Sounds fake, right?  But it's true.  There's a website and everything.  The characteristics of HSP are varied, and I qualified for all but maybe one.  It explains why I'm always hyper-aware of everything around me.  I notice when something is in the wrong place, or when things need put away, or if someone does something out of the ordinary or out of character.  Crumbs on the floor drive me crazy, as well as dirty socks or dishes or yucky smells.  At any given moment on the road I can tell you where every car is around me, and can anticipate their next move most of the time.  I just thought that was all part of being a mom!  Another characteristic is feeding off of the emotions of others.  I can be having the best day, but if David comes home in a bad mood it will rub off on me and make me mad or sad or anxious.   Other characteristics are like an intolerance for loud noises, which explains my hatred of vacuuming, hair drying and so on. The website is very interesting and helpful, and is worth looking at, HSP.com.  It's not a disease or disorder, it's just an inherited personality trait.  That's all.  

It turns out I also battle anxiety. That's not good for someone who has trust issues.  But it's even worse for someone living in a house with five other people who all have  their own set of issues. Combining HSP with anxiety basically means I emotionally take on all the problems and moods of everyone in my house, and then proceed to worry and fret about all of them at the exact same time till my head is about to explode.  

Good times, right?  

*Sigh*

I feel so emotionally drained.  The last time I was this mentally worn out was during the divorce.  

As for my trust issues, those were all addressed in the first session.  C.C. Helped me to see that worrying about my marriage is pointless.  I know the real signs of a cheating husband, I know what to look for, and if all David is doing is answering a text on his phone I need to get over it.  I can either make my marriage miserable by anticipating the worst, or I can relax and enjoy my marriage with the faith that it will be wonderful.  I don't need to worry until I have a legitimate reason to worry. That answer almost seemed too simple for me, but the more I think about it the more I see her point.  

So here I am, the sixth member of this house, and I'm now bringing in my own set of issues to add to everyone else's.  I'm trying not to focus on that because it makes me freak out.  C.C has helped me see ways I can minimize my anxiety, and also how to deal with problems when they arise.  It's still going to take me a while, but I feel better than I did two months ago.  

The prognosis is good.  I learned what I needed to learn, and was told the things I needed to hear.  Some of it wasn't easy to hear, but that's her job.  I see her as my friend that will tell me the truth no matter what.  It's a job I could never do.    Things have gotten better for me, but I'm still going to keep her number around just in case.