Oh Happiness!

The first week of adjustment is now behind me. And I’m sure things will get better and easier as time goes on. I had two days of back-to-back working in a row, and the second day was definitely easier. Emotionally, it’s hard. But I’m accepting it for what it is, and it doesn’t get the best of me. I’m continuing to dig deep for that inner strength and peace that allows me to cope.

I’m so glad to have yesterday behind me. For the first time, I was allowed to speak for myself. Did it do any good? Probably not, but at least I had the opportunity. And I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Which is truly a new thing for me, as nerves often get the best of me in times like this. But I’ve spent the last week focused on trusting God and believing in His grace and mercy. Never before have I truly felt this level of peace. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve already put the past behind me. For myself, I had to move on and address the present for what it is. But because everything was being drug out, I couldn’t fully move on. Now, I can. And it feels good to have that behind me.

I had a wonderful visit yesterday with my daughter! I took her out for some photos as well. {For the record, I do NOT like her choice of top.} The mosquitoes were out in force, but they didn’t get the best of us! I also was able to take her shopping for a back-to-school outfit. I think for the first time, it felt like “normal” time spent with her. It was wonderful to see her truly smiling and laughing! Between our phone conversation last week, and this week’s visit, I’m finally seeing my daughter come back to life again. And it’s a wonderful feeling for me!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

Survival

Well, the first day of school came and went… and I survived! I felt so much peace after last weekend. I think the feeling of sadness I had last week was purely something I wasn’t expecting, and thus not prepared for. I had time to process it before the first day, which was good. Yes, I had a small rush of sadness as I walked in to work, but it was a-ok after that, and I’m so glad to be back! My son seems to be enjoying high school. I haven’t heard any complaints yet, so that’s always good! And it’s nice to be back on to a regular schedule.

Speaking of schedules, yesterday was my first day of working both jobs, back-to-back. When I took the second job, and was told it wouldn’t be full time, I made the decision to stay at the school, and just add on. I had NO IDEA just how much I would be working, and how hard it was going to be. But, I SURVIVED! I was on my feet all day, and it was hard, but hopefully once my body adjusts to all the standing again, it will get easier. Today, I get to do it again. And how did I start my morning? By going for a walk. I seriously considered taking the time to sit and rest, it’s about all I’ll get today, but I really needed the walk. And it felt good. The rest of this week is going to be hard, between all the work and what is to come Friday.

On the positive side, because visitation was missed last week, I am getting an extra hour this week and next. It’s still not the same as completely missing a week, but it’s better than nothing. My daughter and I also started joint counseling this week. It was great to get to say and discuss some of the things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now, but can’t during regular visitation. It was very enlightening to me, to know how much she knows (or doesn’t know!), and to know just how she feels. And I left feeling happy and satisfied.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  ~Psalm 18:32

Renewed Spirit {Day 70}

I feel SO MUCH BETTER!! Yes, my spirit is renewed! Is the pain gone? No way! That will take a long time, and even then it will probably never be fully gone. But it’s back under control, and I’m focusing on the positive, and the spirit of God!

It’s such a gorgeous weather day today! I had quit walking over the Summer for a number of reasons. I went for a walk a couple times over the past week, and it felt good. So this morning, I decided I needed that back in my life. The breeze was cool, and the weather perfect. So I laced up my tennis shoes, grabbed my headphones, and hit the trail. I have a playlist that consists of the Christian music artists I have on my iPod. Currently, that includes David Crowder Band, Rebecca St. James, and Red. There’s so many more I want to get, but, like everything else, in time. Now, I listen to these songs all the time! But today, as I was walking, I truly listened to the lyrics of each and every one, and there was so much meaning! Of course I have my iPod set to shuffle. And the order of music that it played was so fitting! First, I heard a few songs that bring out all the pain, and they make me cry almost every time I hear them! Then, on the way back, it was all songs of rejoicing and joy! Transforming my day and my spirit, moving out that pain, and reminding me of what I need to rejoice in!

In other news, I went to church last night. I almost didn’t go for a couple reasons, but the why doesn’t really matter. Anyway, a few weeks ago, a friend sent me an invite to sit in a section of the church where a lot of area folks sit. I’ve been considering it since then, but hadn’t taken that step. So we ran into someone we knew from the area on our way into church, and were invited to sit with them. The very location I was invited to by the other friend. I guess it was time to take that step! And I had actually been thinking about it last night, too. Timing, or what?

Ok, on to the service. Henry Cloud was speaking. The topic of discussion was based on Ecclesiastes 3

 1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

He pointed out how this string of verses is talking of beginnings, and endings. How our life is filled with them. Sometimes, we need to have endings to make way for new beginnings. Or even just to make way for more growth in what we already have. Similar to pruning a rose bush, we need to do the same with our lives. So much truth there.

After church, I had the privilege of talking with my daughter on the phone for 45 minutes. Such a blessing! She was truly happy, and in a wonderful mood, and just what I needed to hear! The call was initiated by her, too, which made me feel even better. 🙂  After talking with her, I went to write in my journal. Backing up… A couple weeks ago, I needed a new journal. So I went to the book store and looked at all of them. Every. Last. One. I wanted something with meaning, not just a book with blank pages. I ended up walking away with the Serenity Journal. As you can probably guess, it is filled with inspirational quotes, all relating to what is written in the Serenity Prayer. On every other page is a verse from the bible that provides inspiration, and on facing pages a quote. After I write in my journal, I read all the quotes and verses on the pages I’ve written on. At the bottom of the last page I wrote on was the following from, you guessed it, Ecclesiastes 3.

There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season… There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7

Coincidence? I don’t really believe in such things. More like God Moment. Now, you see, I’ve been pondering something for the past several days. In two days, by two different people, a question had been posed to me. And it involves this very topic. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. And here comes the tough part, I’m really not sure what the right choice is. So over the next week, I will be praying for the answer, the wisdom to do the right thing.

Now that I’ve written a novel, I’m to my sharing point. Today, I’d like to share the following song from Rebecca St. James. This was near the end of my playlist today, and I really listened to the words, and it reminded me that I’m not on my time line, I’m on His. And it’s just a fantastic song! Have a listen, and truly hear the words it is speaking. Great stuff!

I drug my son out today, much to his chagrin, as it was time for an update to the photo on our wall. He hates me taking his picture. I used to “use” him all the time to practice. But I’ve been very careful not to do that anymore, and haven’t made him get his picture taken since last year at this time. Once a year isn’t too much to ask, is it? So here he is, my new high schooler, serious as ever. It’s so hard to imagine that we only have four more short years.

Renewed Pain {Day 69}

I said in my blog yesterday how I felt much better. In a sense, I do. But at the same time, I’m having a hard time keeping my emotions, the pain of it all, in check. There’s such a rush of sadness, of pain, of heartache that is being brought out again. I think I did a good job of learning to accept, to embrace what is happening over the Summer. But I’m now realizing that I think a part of me didn’t truly work through everything I should have. I think I overlooked some things, and I’m not real sure how or why or what even. I just don’t quite understand why everything is hurting so much again? Well, I do know why, I do know what’s causing this pain to resurface, I’m just not sure how to fix it, to truly deal with it so I can move on.

Emotionally, the last two days went from bad to worse. I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason. But I have to ask, why this? What did I do to deserve THIS?! You see, I went yesterday for my visitation, only to find the driver that also supervises didn’t show up. Of course, there’s no one to call as it’s after office hours. I was already having a bad day for other reasons, and then that? I wanted to stay strong, but I was an absolute mess. And my daughter does NOT deserve this! I did get a gift she had purchased for me, she must have known I’d need it. I didn’t want her to see me cry, I’m trying to stay strong for her, but I couldn’t. She showed me yet again yesterday, that she has more strength than I could even dream of. And I’m so proud of her for maintaining that strength when I can’t.

I’m sharing another song today. This was shared the other day on a facebook page I follow, and I just love it! I needed it too! And my picture is not a recent one. I had to put on my happy face and work all day today, now it’s raining, and I just don’t have the energy to find something to take a picture of. The gift I got from my daughter was some new bath gel from Bath and Body Works, Paris Amour. She knows how much I loved Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but truth be told, I think she loved it more than I! 🙂  So here’s a photo of the Eiffel Tower taken from beneath after the lights were turned on. Such a beautiful sight!

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

{Day 68}

I hate river moths! There, I feel better.  🙂  Now, on to another beautiful Friday! My favorite day of the week. Today, I’m off to a district rally for all school staff, including us contractors. Then, it’s off for my weekly visit with my daughter.

You know, the fact that it’s Friday makes me feel good anyway. But after yesterday, I feel so much better than I have in a couple weeks. I didn’t realize how much my mood would improve just by the mere act of walking back into the school. I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I had some mixed emotions, for a lot of reasons. That’s where my daughter had to leave her class behind, never to return to that school again. I have a lot of emotions that go with that place, some good. But it still causes a lot of pain. I kind of wanted to leave that chapter behind me. Wasn’t sure how I’d feel seeing all the familiar faces, many of whom know some of what’s going on with me. I didn’t want to be judged, to be looked at any differently. But like I mentioned yesterday, it was a comfortable, secure feeling, and a bit of a relief. It felt good. And I feel much better now as a result. Still an emotional wreck, but better! 🙂

On to those river moths! Pretty much since I started this blog, I’ve wanted to take my camera out and take some night photos down by the river. Well, as my Summer is coming to an end, I figured no time like the present! So I took my camera out and went for a walk last night. Over the river bridge to take some photos from the opposite side, and took a few from different vantage points on the bridge. The moths were NASTY! I hate those things! But I didn’t eat any! 😀 I also took some of the clock tower. Couldn’t get the vantage point I wanted, but I was having fun anyway! So here’s some of the results of my night time fun!

My soul is weary with sorrow: strengthen me according to your word. ~Psalms 119:28

Home {Day 67}

Monday marks the return to school for our district. Which also means back to work for me. I had to go in to work today for a few hours to help get ready for next week. Never before have I been so ready to get back to school and work. It’s like a home for me. It’s not the greatest job out there, but it’s not all about the pay. And for me, right now, it’s more about a place of happiness, comfort, belonging. Not only was my time there filled with tasks that needed to be accomplished, but it was a time of great conversations, and familiar faces. It’s just another reminder of how everything happens for a reason. This will be my sixth year working there. What started as a little job for a little money and something to do to keep me busy when my daughter started full time school, has developed into more of a source of security for me. So next week, I begin my life as a Mom working two jobs to make ends meet. Not sure exactly what it all means for me, but I know it’s going to be crazy!

Which brings me to this blog. As I stated at the beginning of June, I started this blog as a means to help me get through this Summer. Which it has in a big way! I intend to continue posting daily through the weekend, but don’t hold it against me if I don’t! 🙂  And beyond that, I do plan to keep up with the blog. I have no idea what that will look like in the long term, how often I’ll be able to get here to post. But I promise to continue, in some capacity.

I haven’t been sharing that much about the photos I’ve been posting lately, they’re pretty self explanatory, and most haven’t really had a story to go with them. Today, however, they do. This is my hibiscus flower. I fell in love with the hibiscus when I went to Hawaii, oh, 10 years ago! I purchased this plant, I believe, three years ago. But it never made it into the ground the first year. Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would survive, but I planted it two years ago, and it bloomed for the past two years, but not a lot. This year, like my rose bush, I got vicious with it and really trimmed it back in the Spring. Again, I wasn’t sure what would come of it, but it’s filled in nicely and has so many buds on it! I’ve just been waiting, kind of impatiently, for them to bloom. So when I looked over at the flower garden today, and saw I had flowers, I was quite excited!  And it was just another one of many bright spots in my day today, much needed and appreciated!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Family {Day 66}

In all that has happened since April, one of the things I am most thankful for is family. My Mom has always been there for me. She’s my Mom… I knew she’d always support and encourage me in any way possible. But I think what mattered more is the fact that I knew I had my siblings with me, yes, that includes my sister-in-laws. I haven’t been the best sister. I allowed feelings of resentment, among other things, to get in the way of family. You know, friends come and go. Some stay with you longer than others. But family you can not replace.

This is another area where I allowed my priorities to be skewed. But because of circumstance, I’ve been forced to address those relationships. In many of the services I’ve heard at Willow, they’ve often made mention about mending relationships. And I think this is the biggest one I need to work on. It’s not like we had any major issues, or falling out, just allowed ourselves to lose contact, a connection. Hopefully in time we can have a stronger tie than we’ve ever had.

I wanted to share a song my brother shared with me early on. Very powerful and meaningful, and a reminder that I’m not alone in so many ways!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Deuteronomy 31:6

Confidence and Control {Day 65}

There’s no worse feeling in the world than feeling stuck. Stuck in so many ways. I’m stuck in the middle of family. I’m stuck in the middle of friends. I’m stuck doing many things I don’t want to do, shouldn’t have to do. I can not even be the mother I should be able to be. There are so many others in control of what I can and can’t do. Things I should be able to do myself. And yet I have to rely on others. Wait. Again, patience is not my strength!

I know in time I will be able to do those things that are currently out of my control. But I’ll always be stuck in the middle. I don’t think that will ever go away. There will always be those that try to tug me in a different direction. As I was thinking things through this morning, this quote popped into my head again. I’ve shared it here on my blog before, but I’m going to share it again. It’s so true.

So you have some enemies…good, that means you stood up for something!” ~Winston Churchill

This is something I’ve always struggled with. Standing up for myself. Doing what I feel is right for ME. But I’ve decided I have to stop living in fear. Fear of what others think. I’m not a prude. Don’t think that I’ve gone to the other extreme of not caring of others feelings. I just realized that I have to stop putting everyone else ahead of myself. The choices I make, I put great thought into. I don’t make impulsive decisions. I think everything through thoroughly. But I may choose to do things that others don’t agree with. And that’s ok.

Confidence. Another thing I’ve always struggled with. But now, I have confidence. Confidence in myself that I’m doing the right thing, with God at the lead. He’s provided for me in ways I never thought possible. He’s provided for me exactly what I need when I really need it. And I know He’ll continue to open the right doors for me at the right time. I’m confident that I am making the best decisions possible, given my circumstances. I think confidence and standing up for yourself go hand in hand. I finally feel I have enough confidence, in myself and in my choices, to stand up for myself and do what I feel is right, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.

Four Months {Day 64}

Today has been four months since my life was upended. Why? Because four months ago today my children were taken from me. My son was subsequently returned, but not my daughter. So for four months, I’ve been allowed to see my baby girl for one hour a week, recently increased to two, on Fridays. If you have children, you can probably only image the pain you’d feel at losing them. My saving grace through it all has been faith and trust that only God can get me through. And the fact that I know she will one day come home. I can only imagine the pain that parents feel at the loss of a child, knowing they’ll never again see them until their days in heaven. At least I get to see mine, and know we’ll be a family again one day. It’s just a matter of time, and not for me to decide. I have so many feelings, I can’t even describe. But I know that God is in control. I don’t know where my path will lead, or how things will go. I have to explore every option that comes my way, and trust that whatever happens is what God intended.

For months I’ve come close to saying things in my blog that I didn’t know if I should say. And there’s a lot that I still won’t say, as there is still a lot going on in court as a result. But I’ve decided as long as I stick to facts, there no reason not to share a little about me and what I’m going through, in the hopes that maybe someone out there will find comfort in knowing they’re not alone.

As for my faith, it’s taken me a while to get to this place. Yes, I was raised in church, knowing there was a God. I’ve always believed, but never truly lived. I wanted to raise my kids in church, teach them to know Him, but I didn’t. I really don’t know why. I had thought about baptism, but could never bring myself to follow through. I know now that I just wasn’t ready then.

So when all this started, I was blessed by an unsuspecting person giving me something, something that said “You need God!”. And at that moment, I knew. I knew I had to rely on Him, put my faith and trust in Him. But for the next two months, I still didn’t put my full faith in Him. I did what I thought was right, but I wasn’t praying about it, I wasn’t asking forgiveness, I wasn’t asking for guidance. A week before I started this blog, everything changed. I had a wake-up call. I realized that I wasn’t following His lead. I started journaling, I started praying, I started believing. And it was only then that I found true peace.

You know, I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason. But when you’re in so much pain, that you can’t see why, it’s really hard to see how what’s happening could be a blessing. But I do. I believe everything has happened for a reason. It hurts, I’m not going to lie. But I believe that we have to feel pain sometimes to experience true joy. I’ve made mistakes, and this wake-up call has opened my eyes to all that was wrong in my life. I hate that this is what it took. I hate that we are having to go through such great pain to find that peace and joy. But it’s enabling me… to find happiness, to find strength, to find and realize my dreams. And it’s forcing me to seek out exactly what I’m here to do. So with that, I continue to pray and trust that God will find a way for me. And I know I owe it all to Him!

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. ~Psalm 91:14-16

The Bread of Life {Day 63}

Another phenomenally moving service at Willow this morning! I’m going to be totally honest here though. I was seriously sitting there listening, remembering how I felt the personal connection last week, thinking “Where is this going?”. I just wasn’t feeling it! Until… BAM! Darren sure knows how to apply scripture to life. Particularly my life. And when he got to the point, and laid it all out, I realized again that every person he was talking about is within me. The one that needs help, maybe financially, and doesn’t know where it’s going to come from or how it’s going to work out. The one that has been dealt a major blow in life, didn’t see it coming, and doesn’t know where to go or what to do with it. And I’m reminded again, to lean on God for help, mercy, guidance. After all, He is the bread of life!

On another note, at the beginning of the service, we were led to pray. To pray for our neighbors, and those of the world around us. We were asked what we felt was wrong in the world… that we’d like to change. It hit me. I don’t know how I can use my gifts and talents to help, but I’d sure like to try!

As for how it all applies to me? I’m finally taking some steps in my life. Big ones. I’m not sure which direction I should go. I don’t know what the right decision is. But I just need to explore all options. As my Mom told me, leave no stone unturned. And when an opportunity arises, and everything falls into place to make it happen, then I’ll know that was the way it was meant to be all along.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9