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Friday, June 13, 2014

It comes and it goes.
Now, when it comes I can control it...most of the time.
It's annoying.  It's irrational.
It's anxiety.

It started when I first began my job as a safety consultant.  The new job meant leaving my kids (which I had never done before) flying on a plane (which I hadn't done in ten years) going to new places and meeting new people.  My heart felt like it was going to beat so hard it would fall out of my chest.

I was diagnosed with anxiety.  I was also told that it would be short term and I would probably get over it.

It's gotten better, mostly, but at random times it floods over me in a way I can't control.  If our van makes a weird sound, it hits me.  If my husband and I get in a fight, it comes on.  Once I book my plane tickets for the next workshop, it generally doesn't stop until I'm done with the workshop itself...which can be weeks.

This week I had to go on a job.  I was nervous - and dealing with the normal mild anxiety that comes with every job.  But the day I flew out, Will (my youngest) had a temperature and was just feeling yucky.  I got on the plane with my heart beating like crazy.  I got to the hotel totally consumed.  I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep an hour before I needed to wake up because I was filled with these completely irrational thoughts about my son.  The anxiety took over.

I woke up in the morning, and quickly texted Dave.  He sent me a picture of my very well, hyper son who was obviously over whatever was going on the day before.  I was exhausted because I worried needlessly about something I had no control over.

It is one of the most frustrating things to be wrestling with anxiety when you know it's completely irrational.  So. Very. Frustrating.

I used to think people who dealt with this were weak, because quite honestly I didn't understand it.  I would like to think I am one of the strongest people I know.  I would love to not "be anxious about anything but in everything present my requests to God."

Everyone has something going on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Joy of 2011, the Hope of 2012

When I started this blog, without a ton of thought and a little help from a friend, I named it "The Joyful Jungle."

Cute?  Yes.  Catchy?  Definitely.  To the core of who I am?  Not so much...it was just a name for a blog.

Not anymore.

2011 has been trying.  To say the very, very, VERY least.

And one thing that has been tested more than anything is my joy.

Not necessarily the joy I find in Jesus...but more like the joy in everything that Jesus has given me.

Weird?  Maybe.  I don't know.

He has provided for our family in a way I didn't think was possible...and yet I struggle to find the joy in it, because really, I would have rather had it happen the normal way instead of miraculously.

He has given us strength through illness...and yet I struggle to find the joy in it, because really, I would have rather had perfect health for my family.

He has shown us the love of His people when we needed love the most...and yet I struggle to find the joy in it, because really, I would have rather been with the people showing His love to someone who needed it.

And so I have found myself at times, reaching deep to find that joy...the joy that is new every morning, the joy found in my weakness, the joy that comes in Jesus.

And on this last night of 2011 and first few minutes of 2012, I have that joy.

I have so many reasons to be joyful.  I have 4 wonderful children.  I have a husband who loves me.  I have a church that believes in it's calling as the body of Christ.  I have a family who loves me.

And I have a God who loves me.  Who calls me His own.  Who holds me like I hold my babies.

So here's to 2012.  May you experience joy - the deep, consistent, to the core joy that He provides.  May the roads be a little smoother this year.  May your focus be on Him who sets the path before you.

Happy New Year!




Thursday, December 8, 2011

This crazy kind of love...

Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, came and spoke at church last month shortly before Thanksgiving.

He spoke on giving, from what God has given us, to show people the crazy love that God has for them.  I sat there inspired, and yet a little irritated.

Let me explain.

Here's this guy who is a renowned speaker, author and pastor.  He has money.  And he's able to do these amazing things for people...absolutely amazing things.  I found myself sitting in my chair thinking, "I would do those amazing things too if I had money like that."

And then I was reminded, in the stillness of that moment, of the story where the master gave his three servants money.  He gave one a bunch, one a reasonable amount, and one just a bit.  The man with a bunch multiplied his money as did the one with the reasonable amount.  But the one with just a bit, he just buried his money.  He did nothing with it.

This last year with all the financial struggles my family has gone through with this economy, I feel like I've been wrestling with God to give me more.  I feel like that third servant who has been so afraid to do anything with what God has given me in fear of squandering what I have.  I've struggled with my comfort, and allowing my desire for comfort to come before my service to God.

As I continued listening to Francis, I realized that I have been called to be faithful with what God has given me. No, we haven't been given tons of money.  But we have been given enough, and I was determined to use it to show others God's love.

So, on Thanksgiving the kids and I delivered cookies and brownies to firefighters, police officers and nurses who had to work on Thanksgiving instead of spending it with their families.  I decided to do this, because God has given me food - and the ability to bake.  And maybe, possibly, a warm cookie (and I must say my cookies are quite good) by a kind stranger might make their hearts softer towards the Lord.  I don't know, but I felt like it's what I could do - and so I obeyed.  And it was the most amazing Thanksgiving I have ever had.

Since then, my husband's job has become more in jeopardy as it looks like his company will be going out of business soon. My husband has also started getting sick again with a chronic illness that is very unpredictable.  And just a few weeks before Christmas.

Oh that comfort.  How my flesh so badly wants to grab whatever tangible thing I can and hold onto it for dear life.  But really, right now, the tangible things aren't seeming as important anymore.  The things I can't touch are what's seeming priceless - and even though my flesh is scared, I'm so amazed at God's crazy, crazy, CRAZY love for me, and I find peace in that.

People who I hardly know are calling me to minister to my family in ways that I haven't even spoken a need. My husband and I have had many moments the last few days where we just look at each other speechless on how God is providing for us.

And I know we are going to be ok.

And it makes me want to give from what God has given me.  I want to multiply what I have by giving it away.  I want so badly to be a good steward of what is in me that it is burning inside me.

So what does that look like for me?

You know that Christmas song, "The Little Drummer boy?"  There is a part where it says, "I'm just a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring that's fit to give the King, shall I play for you on my drum?"
God gave him the gift of music - and so he gave...

God gave me the ability to bake.  So I will give.

He's given me the ability to be kind.  So I will give.

He's given me hope.  So I will give.

He's given me love.  So I will give.

He has given me everything that I need - so I will give...and it may just be a smile, or an encouraging word, or a plate of cookies.  It may be a small gift, or a ride to a doctors appointment, or a warm meal.  But I can give - so that others can experience a taste of God's crazy love for them, because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and that He loves me, in a crazy kind of way.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving should not be the new Black Friday.

I am refusing to Christmas shop right now.

I so badly want to focus on Thanksgiving.

I don't want my kids, or me for that matter, to forget how to be thankful.

I don't want to go from wanting lots of candy straight to wanting lots of presents.

I want my kids to enjoy the month of November remembering what they have to be thankful for - hoping that it will create in them an attitude of gratefulness all year long.

And I am quite aware that most people have already started Christmas shopping, hunting for the best deals.  I too love a good bargain.  I know there will be thousands of people shopping before the sun has even thought to rise the day after Thanksgiving - and more power to you!

My hubby has worked in retail his whole career and from Black Friday to the first of the year is an insane time. We always gear up for it mentally, knowing that we won't see much of Daddy during those few weeks.

But this year, it's going to start earlier.

This year he has to work on Thanksgiving.

This year, before my kids will even be in bed from the days festivities, he has to go to work so that people can shop for presents on Thanksgiving.

I understand that times are tough.  I understand that businesses are trying to survive and figure out ways to make even more money.

But can't we as consumers stand up and say that we disagree with them taking time from employee's families on Thanksgiving just to make a little extra profit?

I just want to ask you - please don't support these businesses that are open on Thanksgiving.  Please don't go shopping Thanksgiving night...please wait till Black Friday to spend your money.  Please let these businesses know with your spending that we as a country still value family over stuff...over the best presents...over whatever?

Please be respectful and don't shop on Thanksgiving so that managers like my husband can send home his employees because they are so slow, so at least those people will get to spend the evenings with their families.

Let's spend Thanksgiving being thankful instead of thinking about all the things we want and feel we can't live without.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

SLOW DOWN!!!

I love Fall.

It's my favorite.

The leaves changing, mulled cider candles, pumpkin everything.

This year, the kids and I decorated our porch for the first time.

We made a scarecrow out of leaves stuffed in bags and lovingly named him Frank.

We began a "Thankful Tree" at the beginning of Fall and try to put a leaf for each of us every day with something that we are thankful for written on it.

With the kids in Kindergarten now, it is crazy how I feel like the gas pedal of my life has just been pushed down a little harder and now, just like everyone said would happen, time is flying by.

On Halloween I was running around town looking for a plastic pumpkin for Luke and Emma's Halloween party at school.

I walked into Target with Lily and Will fully expecting all the Halloween stuff to be on clearance.  Not exactly.  There were about 15 Halloween things left and now, on the actual day of Halloween, Christmas music was playing and all the Christmas stuff was out.

I wanted to scream, "SLOW DOWN WORLD!"

What's our hurry?

Can't we just enjoy the day?  Can't we appreciate that there is another holiday in between Halloween and Christmas called Thanksgiving where we don't have to think about "I wants", but instead focus on the "I have's?"

Can't we treasure the day where our little ones dress up like butterflies and silly green turtles before we have to push them on to the next activity or big event?

And now, I feel like I'm holding on for dear life as life itself just hurries around me, pushing my babies to grow up...and I just want it to slow down.

So, as I walked through Target totally irritated that Marriah Carey was singing her Christmas music already, I just stopped and breathed deeply.  I looked into the dark brown eyes of my precious little Lily and smiled and told her she was the cutest little "Punky Dora" that I ever did see, and we continued on with our day.

Are you enjoying the moments...are you breathing deeply...are you treasuring every day?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Messy Love

I've been so willy nilly about the whole blogging thing as of late.  I know.

But with my whole new addiction to Pinterest, the twins starting Kindergarten, teaching Lily preschool and watching another kid two days a week (yes, really) I haven't found much time.

But today I couldn't put it off any longer.  I feel though I may explode.

Really, I have so much I could share:  My ponderings regarding my children being old enough to go to Kindergarten and beginning the road to independence (sigh), how I was almost brought to tears when a group of fifth graders were beyond kind to my son at open house on the playground, my children's monster like behavior at home since they started school (seriously, what's up with that?!)  I could share about things like how I've decided to embrace our tight budget as a blessing and am figuring out how to make the most of it with decorating my home.  Or how somehow, I'm not sure how, I am now helping coach track and field for kindergarten?  Yes...so much to blog about.  But alas, none of these would be the cause of why I feel though I may explode.

I've been a Christian since I was three.  I have had my mind set on things pretty firmly since I was pretty young.  I've known what was right, what was wrong and really that there was no need for grey anywhere. 

Black and white.

And if you have known me for any length of time, you will know that mercy, grace, compassion (all those really wonderful traits) are not on my short list of attributes.

Yet this year, I've just been getting hammered.

In a good way I suppose, but really even if the final result will be something amazing - every time I get hit by the proverbial hammer, it's painful.  But as I've been getting hammered, and refined this year with all the wonderful things that have been thrown our way - love has kept hitting me in my face.

And not the gooey kind of love.  Or the comfortable kind of love.  Or the neat and orderly kind of love.  But the messy kind of love.  The kind of love that drove Jesus to hang with tax collectors and prostitutes.  Messy love.

Now, I am certain that Jesus wasn't down with thievery and fornication (let alone for pay) but He still loved these people.  He still wanted to spend time with them, know them...He still found value in them.  In fact, He found so much value in them that He risked His reputation to be in their presence.

I am not like Jesus.

And if I actually look at myself objectively, I would admittedly be more like the pharisees - who were sinning and yet pointing the finger at everyone else...

So my heart has been changing.  And I have found myself surprising myself with how my thoughts have been playing in my head:  "No, as Christians we need to love them..."  "Um, no person with the angry bumper stickers on your car, Democrats haven't been the sole source of the degradation of our society..."  "Good for you President Obama for quoting scripture, actually, thank you..."  "No Christian radio, I don't think playing a montage of someone speaking as God to the 9/11 victims is appropriate..."  "What can I do, how can I practically show them the love God has for them?"

And it has really frustrated me lately because I am seeing more and more how we as Christians have forgotten that it's not us against them - that we were never instructed to surround ourselves with impenetrable walls so that no evil could get us. We were never told to protect ourselves in a little bubble and only talk and socialize with those who are of like mind.  We were never commanded to only love when it was nice and neat, and came in a pretty little Sunday morning package. 

Last time I checked, the Bible didn't say that we as Christians were better or smarter - yet I find that so many of "us" have consciously or unconsciously segregated ourselves.  And I know personally, that it's so easy to talk about talking about our faith - and yet, when I think about the last time I actually talked about my faith to someone who didn't share the same beliefs with me, my memory gets a little foggy.

Because that would entail vulnerability, humility, grace, compassion, mercy...a really messy kind of love.  Sharing with someone who didn't believe the way I do would require me to put aside my schedule, my routine, my comfort.

And here's the one that's been the hardest for to swallow...to say that quite possibly there is room for grey on some issues, that love really can conquer all (and only when it's not in my nice little Sunday package) and that sometimes people with completely different opinions on life may actually have valid points - is all a part of that messy kind of love.

On my newly beloved Pinterest, I saw a pin and it made me squirm when I read it.  It said these words:

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR

THY HOMELESS NEIGHBOR
THY MUSLIM NEIGHBOR
THY BLACK NEIGHBOR
THY GAY NEIGHBOR
THY WHITE NEIGHBOR
THY JEWISH NEIGHBOR
THY CHRISTIAN NEIGHBOR
THY ATHEIST NEIGHBOR
THY RACIST NEIGHBOR
THY ADDICTED NEIGHBOR
When I read those words, I was instantly convicted.

Homeless neighbors scare me.  I lock my doors when I see them on the corners.  I don't love them.
Muslim neighbors...I struggle with that continuously since 9/11.
Atheist neighbors make me get on the defensive.  I instantly feel like they are attaching my mental fortitude for believing in God...I'm too busy being proud and arrogant to love them.

I could go on, but you get the point.

I want to love like Jesus loved.  I don't want to love only those who are politically minded like me.  Or spiritually minded like me.  Or family minded like me.

I want to love people because Jesus loves them.  And that should be enough.

Time to get messy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My two cents...may not be worth much, but they are mine...

So, with the political climate heating up again - I figured I would put my two cents in...again. 

No, seriously, keep reading.

Most of my adult life I have been staunchly conservative.

Staunchly conservative as in not listening to anyone's opinion.

And I would like to mention at this point that I think almost EVERYONE on the right or the left is like that (regardless if they will admit it) but that's neither here nor there, just trying to lessen the blows I may take for writing this one...

But in the last five years my opinion has changed on much.

We bought a house.  5 years later it sold for 70,000 more than we bought it for.  Now, 3 years after our sale it is worth 40,000 less than what they bought it for.  Ouch for them, perfect timing for us.

Bush was president when we bought.  Bush was president when we sold.  Obama is president now.

3 years ago, Dave got a promotion for 25000 more than what he was making.  Now, he's back to what he was making before the promotion.

Bush was president when he got the promotion.  Obama is president now.

5 years ago, Dave got a job based on experience and was paid accordingly.  Now, Dave doesn't get jobs because of his experience and is paid significantly less than "accordingly," because we are desperate.

Bush was president then.  Obama is president now.

5 years ago, my mom was getting free home health care through medicaid.  Now she has to pay a significant portion of her very fixed budget to have home health.

Bush was president then.  Obama is president now.

And then there is the abortion card.  I just can't change my mind on that one.  It's biblical.  And whether or not you agree with me, I believe it's murder...not a choice.  Moving on...

Anyway - but here we go...

5 years ago our family had private health insurance.  It wasn't phenomenal but it covered us enough for 350 a month.  Then Dave got sick.  In order for him to get health insurance now (since even his group plans) won't cover pre-existing conditions, he would have to buy a "special" plan for about 500 a month...in addition to what our family would pay for the rest of ours.

Obama's health care plan, from what I understand, would be the closest thing we will come to with having an affordable option for Dave.

When we had Will, he had to be life flighted to Spokane and spend 2 weeks in the hospital.  Had we not been on medicaid, the bills would be insurmountable.

All those liberal programs that Dave and I both wrote off as "just for lazy people," have kept us afloat and surviving through this time...and Dave and I are anything but lazy.

In an ideal world, Dave would have a job that would pay him accordingly so that we wouldn't have to utilize those programs and health care would be offered to everyone - especially those who desperately need to be under a doctors care.

However, our world is not ideal.  And our country is financially screwed up...I get that.  But, now that I understand the importance of all the liberal programs for people, the social aid of it, being a help when you need it and not misused as a crutch - I'm torn.

So, I see benefit from both sides of the line.  But really,are any of our politicians focusing on the issues or are they just focusing on their opinions? 

A few months ago in Idaho they were having some pretty heated debates over education.  Night and day between the liberal opinion and their facts versus the conservative opinion and their facts.  I even wrote our conservative politicians in Idaho to get more information so I could be actually informed and I was treated rudely and as a nuisance because I asked questions.

So, are we actually wanting to solve the problems or are we just wanting to be right and hold power?

Because, this will be the first time, when we reelect, that I will purposefully not vote for a republican because they chose to be shady and rude when asked about facts.

Politicians work for the people, well, at least they are supposed to.  I wish they would stop pushing agendas and solve problems...on both sides.

That, and keep babies alive.

The end.