Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living in the Past

I find that when I am sad or lonely, I find it easy to slip into the past.  Sometimes, when I see a beautiful garden, I think of my GrandBonnie, and my memories take me back to days sitting on her back porch, drinking tea, listening to neighborhood sounds, and asking her questions about plants.  Often, I can focus on only remembering the good memories.  And, I am so thankful for an abundance of wonderful memories with my GrandBonnie.  I truly miss her.  I want her to see the flowers I have planted, the garden I am trying to cultivate, and taste her roast recipe that I'm trying to perfect.

Other times, I look into the past to remember the relationship I used to have with my brothers and sister.  We used to spend so much time together.  When we were little, we would play games for hours.  When we were older, we would go to the movies, downtown, or just hang out with one another.  We always had our differences, but we were able to get along and have a good time.  Now, I hardly hear from either of my brothers.  I know they have their own lives, and I am doing my best to stay out of their way, as they are adults now.  My sister and I still have a great relationship, but we are able to see each other only once or twice a year.  My heart aches for the times we used to have.


I have two wonderful friends, Mandy and Daphne, who I am able to spend time with several times a month.  Funnily enough, these girls are a part of my past that has become a major part of my present.  Mandy and I have known each other since Girl Scouts and Sunday School in elementary school years.  Daphne and I have been friends since we were in the youth group and chorus together.  I am so happy to have these links to my past...girls who have known me for years, who have seen how I've changed, and who still want to be my friends...what a blessing!

I think of my wonderful friend, Kelley, who lives far away.  We used to spend every day together when we lived in Georgia.  She was my work-out friend, my accountability partner, and my confidant.  Thankfully, although we are separated by miles, we are as close as ever.  We have a relationship that can pick up from where we left off, no matter how long it's been since we've spoken. 

Other times, I remember friends I used to have.  I think of all the things we have been through, all the struggles we have faced, and how close we once were.  Then, I realize that taking on the adult world has caused us to fall apart.  And, I'm learning that that's ok.  Because we were friends during our younger years, we might not be suited to be friends as adults.  That's alright.  I have fantastic memories to treasure.

Knowing that I am close to having my degree, I think of what my life would have been if I hadn't dropped out of college when I was 19.  I had a job already lined up after graduation.  I would have been working in a counseling service for low-income families.  But, I wouldn't have 2 amazing children if I had taken that route.

I am very guilty, especially since I've turned 30, of spending time asking a lot of "what ifs".  I know that is not a healthy way to live.  As I've grown older, I have started to analyze some of my past decisions.  I have so many regrets.  I have let people out of my life who could have had a positive impact on me.  I have lived in my own world and have, at times, isolated myself from people who cared about me.  I am sorry for losing some of the relationships I have lost.  I realize that some relationships are not going to be able to grow with me or to be suitable for my life now.  I still am saddened by the loss though.

I know it's dangerous to live in the past and to constantly ask "what if".  Sometimes I feel that my thoughts wondering that way are completely out of my control.  Other times, I know I'm looking for answers in my past about my life now.  While my memories frequent my mind, I am very much alive and well in my present.  Cecely and Titus keep me grounded.  I love spending each day with them.  I am grateful for their unconditional love.  I love seeing little glimpses of me in their quirky personalities.

I am trying not to live in the past, only visit it from time to time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eternal Perspective...

I love that term, eternal perspective.  I heard Ken Ham use it at a conference I was at not too long ago.  He was speaking to parents and said, "You're children will live forever.  But, where will they be living?"  I love that.  It really placed a new perspective in my heart and mind.

Once I listened to a sermon on heaven.  It was so encouraging.  The pastor talked about there is no hope with any other religion.  There's no encouragement for what is to come.  Christians can put their hope in Christ, and have faith that He will carry us through this existence on Earth to our eternal home in Heaven.  I love that!

This world is so corrupt with evil and selfishness.  And there isn't a rating system for the evil.  Sin is sin, whether it be murder, adultery, wicked thoughts, lying, gossip, whatever.  And, we are all guilty of sin.  Thankfully, God sent His Son to wipe away that sin.  We can all be redeemed.

I am an actions, not words kind of person.  God not only told the world he loved us all, He showed us with the ultimate gift of the birth of Jesus, and the ultimate sacrifice with the death of Jesus.  In my life, I want people to know I'm changed, saved, and redeemed because of my actions, not just my words.  I think it is important to show people God's love by acting as much like Christ as possible.  I know I am not capable to being Christ-like.  I know that I sin and fall short of His standards everyday.  But, I do know that He has blessed me with gifts that help me share His love.

On Earth, there are going to be people in life who refuse to see God's work in you.  There are people who dwell on the negative, who are self-centered, who say one thing, but show another.  God loves them.  And, I can love them, but I can also choose to remove myself from them, in order to strengthen my walk with Christ and not let the toxic people bring me down or cause me to become angry.


The promise of Heaven, using that eternal perspective, is what helps me not to dwell on the insignificance here.  Knowing that when I die, or when Jesus comes back for me, that I will be in a place where I will be able to sing and rejoice to no end is overwhelmingly encouraging.  Knowing that I will see those who have gone on before me...my Daddy, my Grandmama, 2 babies, countless other friends and family.  Knowing I will have the chance to hear the stories of the Old Testament from the people who lived them...what a concept!  Knowing that I will every day for eternity be in the presence of the One who saved me from my sin and from my self...it's impossible to comprehend.

So, I am going to try to live each day with an eternal perspective.  I'm going to focus on  my children.  I am going to continue to invest in the lives of others who are investing in my family and my life.  I am going to let the little things go.  I'm going to stop worrying about whether everyone likes me.  I am going to remove myself from relationships that are not healthy, and focus on the ones that are.  I am going to live my life showing others the love of God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Countdown

I started college right out of high school.  I attended Mars Hill College and did 2 years worth of classes in 3 semesters.  I loved school...the learning part, I did not like living at college, and I never really fit in to the college scene.  When Mark joined the Navy, I dropped out of college and married him.  We moved around for several years, and I never had enough time in one spot to enroll again (this was pre-online classes).  Then, I had Cecely and Titus.  Once Titus became a little more independent, I started online classes, with great skepticism.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  I have really learned so much in the classes I have participated in.

Now, in 6 weeks, my college quest will finally be over.  I hope to one day get my Master's, but that is not financially possible right now...  I spend so much time righting papers, reading text books, and doing homework.  I cannot imagine what it will feel like to have time in the evenings to read a book for leisure or to play with the kids, and not have a research paper in the back of my mind.  I absolutely, positively cannot believe how close I am.

I know I wouldn't be reaching this milestone without some wonderful support.  My parents have helped out with the kids when I have had daunting papers to write.  My friends have helped me develop research ideas and have given me plenty of discussion and feedback.  I am so grateful for the support of those people!

6 weeks...WOOO HOOOOO!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grace, Love, and Other Stuff...

I am a big believer in grace.  I realize how much grace has been shown to me in my life...from God, from my Mama, from my siblings, from my kids, and from my friends.  I think grace is the most amazing, incomprehensible concept.  Grace is giving forgiveness over and over, and showing love to those who don't really deserve it.  My problem is that I see a glimmer of hope when I extend grace to people who are constantly hurting me.  I show forgiveness time and time again.  I try to commit acts of kindness, knowing they are not going to be returned.  I try to be as selfless as I know how.

I cannot stand having those in my life who do not like me.  These people say they "love" me, but I just don't believe it.  I often wonder if people really know what love is?  I think it is a term that is thrown around loosely.  That is why I reserve saying "I love you" to everyone everyday.

Most of these people in my life who hurt me over and over again are the first to say "I love you".  Really?  You love me, but you're still all about self?  You love me, but you talk trash about me?  You love me, but you go out of your way to ignore me?  Really, do you know what love is?

I know I don't do it all right.  I know I screw up on a daily basis.  But, when I am aware of my mistakes, I am the first person to admit it, ask forgiveness, and try to fix whatever I've broken.  I always share my struggles with others in order for them to realize that I know I'm messed up.   It is my goal to be sincere and transparent in all I do.  It is my greater goal to live a life that encourages others and does not bring them down.

However, there are those in my life who I try to protect myself from.  They have hurt me in the past or are still hurting me.  They have never confessed to me what they've done wrong, although I've owned up to what I've done wrong.  Yet, no matter how much they hurt me, I can't help but being sucked back in.  I see a tiny sparkle of hope, of acceptance, and I jump right back in with both feet.

What I have been learning, and what I am striving to accomplish, is to invest my life into the lives of those who care about me and my family.  Not just those who throw empty words around, but those who actually put as much time into knowing what's going on with me as I do in staying in touch with them.  As I've said before, words without actions mean nothing.  I've got to try to remember to show grace and love to everyone, even those who abuse my relationship with them...but, I have to remember to show that grace and love within boundaries that keep me from being a doormat.

While there are those who are constantly trying to bring me down by whatever tactic they choose, I am extremely blessed to have sweet friends who are constant.  They love me no matter what.  They are honest.  They care about my children.  They care about the state of my marriage.  They care about my health.  They offer to help when I am overwhelmed.  They ALWAYS love me, in spite of my screw ups.  They forgive me when I ask, and when I don't.  I have learned that I don't need everyone who I come in contact with to accept me.  I have WONDERFUL people who encourage me daily, who laugh with me, who cry with me, and who know the meaning of true love.  Thank you, my AMAZING friends...you know who you are!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fantastical Reality

Is there anyway to have a combination of fantasy with reality? 

When it comes to my children, I really want to instill in them a childhood full of wonderful memories.  I want them to look back when they are older and remember the experiences.  In essence, I want them to have a lot of fantasy in their upbringing.  All of the things I do and plan for Cecely and Titus is for them to remember having an eventful and happy childhood. 

When I work with other children, I want to give them that same sense of wonder and fantasy.  That's why I love children's books.  I love to read stories that I can share that give children the hope that anything is possible, that anything is possible.  Whatever story I read, I try to follow up with an art activity or something that will let the kids use their imagination.  I want my children, and the other ones I get to work with, to be able to incorporate fantasy into their real life.  That's why we have imaginations!

This is also probably why I am obsessed with children's books and all things Disney.  I love that innocence, imagination, and happiness reign supreme in these things.  I love getting lost in stories that weave together real life and the fantastic.  As far as Disney, as soon as I see the sign of the Disney property, I tear up...which is funny, given there is little I cry over.  There is something about being in a "World" that encourages the child in everyone to come out and have fun.  My rule for Disney, no grown up junk...it's all about having fun and remembering when life was simpler.

As an adult, I know that real life is dominate.  I am very much a realist and a cynic.  Maybe that's why I like Disney...it's an escape from the monotony of adulthood.  While I understand how important it is to be an adult, behave like an adult, and handle things in an adult fashion, I wish there was a way to combine a little of the fantasy into day to day life.

Why can't grown ups let go, be honest, and be happy?  Why do we get so weighed down with the rituals of life?  Why do we forget to take time and find the simple happiness around us?  Why do we stop showing the ones that we love that we care about them?  Why do we stop sharing little signs and tokens of love and appreciation?  Life is so difficult, but we choose to make it more so by completely forgetting the fantasy and imagination that children still encompass.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Romantic Comedies are the Demise of our Culture

I know that's a lengthy title, but it's just something that I have been thinking about.  I am an avid movie watcher.  I love the movies.  I love going to a theater, sitting in a comfy seat, and becoming immersed in the story of someone else.  I do the same thing with books...I lose focus on reality and submit to the life and times of another person.  It's an escape for me...one that I used to think was pretty safe.

When I watch movies, I tend to stay involved in the Science-Fiction, Historical, Action, Comedy and Documentary genres.  I try to avoid Romantic Comedies, unless they are really funny.  However, recently, I have become sucked into a whirlpool of mushy, sentimental, nauseating crud.  For some reason, these movies make big bucks.  But what are the positive repercussions of this genre? 

For starters, guys in real life are absolutely never like the guys in the movies.  The guys in the movies aren't even like the guys in the movies.  They are reciting the lines they have memorized from a writer, who was probably a woman.  Do guys ever say, "You are stunning", "You are so beautiful, I have to whisk you away right now", or "I am lucky to have you in my life"...  The problem is, we watch these movies, are emotions get manipulated, and we become upset because real life is not like a movie.

I am guilty of wishing that men did say these things.  I wish that they would stand up for the women they love.  I wish they would do those little things that make a woman feel like a million dollars.

All I can do, in reality, is try to be a lady worthy of having...I am not going to have the knock-out gorgeous looks of an actress, but I can encourage, cook, clean, rear children, and try to be romantic.  Oh, but I will have to stay away from the lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, mushy-gushy movies that paint such an unrealistic portrait of married life.