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Psalm 22

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why  are  You  so far from helping Me, And  from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. ~Psalm 22:1-2

Not long ago, whenever I read a mournful psalm, such as this one, I would be reminded of all the times that I felt like even God had turned away from me.

And there were a lot of those memories.

I’d read the psalm and weep as the feelings of abandonment and rejection washed over me.

But something has happened in the past several weeks.

Somehow…. at some point in recent history, this has ceased to be the case.

We read Psalm 22 in church on Sunday and I felt nothing but joy. Because even at the darkest time in my personal history, I know that I wasn’t actually abandoned.

The pain of abandonment and rejection has dissipated.

And even when nothing goes right, I’m still ok. Because I’m tucked safely in a little corner of His hand and He’s watching over me with care.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

People Who Matter

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~Dr. Seuss

You find out (in a hurry!) who really matters and who really doesn’t when you decide it’s time to stop being what other people think you should be and start being you.

Figuring out who matters and who doesn’t is so freeing.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about realizing — just yesterday! — that I had been living for several months in a place where nobody cares.

I’m not saying that no one cares about me. I’m saying that no one cares about what I do.

I’m surrounded by people who matter.

And I’m surprisingly not surrounded by people who don’t.

In other words, my whole world is surprisingly chill right now.

And it’s awesome.

I went to church yesterday, and…. no one cared that I didn’t raise my hands in worship! No one cared that I didn’t clap my hands. No one cared that I wore jeans. No one jabbed me in the ribs and told me to “dance, dammit!” (because you don’t love Jesus if you refuse to dance like David danced.) No one told me to yell and then heaped on the guilt when I didn’t. No one said I had to pray in the Spirit whether I wanted to or not. No one watched me to see that I behaved exactly like I was supposed to.

And no one cared.

After church, I bought a used violin. Because I wanted to. (I’ve always wanted to learn violin but never had a chance til now.)

And nobody cared. I didn’t have to ask permission from the pastor (or anybody else, for that matter) because…. the pastor doesn’t care. (And I think he realizes that it’s none of his dang business.) I didn’t have to ask the pastor if I was “called” to play violin — because it’s ok to do something simply because you want to. I didn’t have to ask for permission to spend the money. Because the pastor doesn’t care.

I can do whatever I dang please and…. nobody…. cares….

It’s amazing.

I didn’t read my Bible yesterday and even forgot to bring it to church. And nobody cares.

I had coffee with a man. We talked at length about deep things. Some dark things. Some personal things. And nobody cares. No one has tried to sabotage the friendship and no one has tried to tell me that it’s impossible for a man and a woman to have coffee without somehow ending up between the sheets in a fit of passion.

Oh, yes, the people around here are so chill.

So chill, in fact, that no one cares that I’m buying a house. They’ve even volunteered to help me move.

And so chill…. so chill that when I told my favorite 6-year old that I’ve started the process to become a foster parent, she said, “you’re going to need boy toys and girl toys. Can I bring you some toys I don’t play with anymore?”

I’m so, so incredibly blessed in this place.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Miracles Happen Every Day

I take care of a little boy whose parents were told that he would only live a maximum of 2 months and probably significantly less than that.

He’s now 5 years old.

Every day is a miracle and every minute, a gift.

They don’t make little boys any more perfect than him.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Why I Don’t Need a Man (And some things I do need)

I’ve been working a lot the past few weeks.

Why yes, I love my job. Thanks for asking.

Getting to and from work is the most difficult part of my job — because I live about 30 minutes from work (26 miles with nothing but fields to look at), and sometimes, I work until late and then I have to go back to work early the next morning.

It could be worse. It really could be a whole lot worse.

But last night, I found myself having worked two days in a row, getting back to town at about 11:45 pm, and needing to fill the gas tank before leaving for work again at 7:30 this morning.

And the windchill was -26* F.

As I drove through the 26 miles of nothingness (and blowing snow), I found myself dreading having to get out in the cold. I thought to myself, “At times like these, I need a man.”

And then I realized that I really don’t need a man.

I haven’t needed a man.

I thought I needed a man at times.

But my track record, when it comes to everyday life, is impeccable.

I’ve paid every bill — on time.
I’ve never forgotten to go to work.
I check the oil in my car on a regular basis — and I know when and how to add oil.
I haven’t had an overdraft in over 10 years.
I know how to make/keep medical appointments.
I take out my own trash.
I know how to get myself out if my car is stuck in snow.
I keep my personal space uncluttered as much as possible. (This is a work in progress….)
I know when and how to add antifreeze to my car.
I have more tools than most men — and I know how to use (most of) them.
I know how to check the “service engine” code on my car, how to turn off the light and how to find out what the code means.
I do my own laundry.
I can change the brake and blinker lightbulbs on my car.
I hang pictures.
I can change the battery in my car.
I move furniture by myself when I’m rearranging my living space.
I do all my own shopping (under protest — but I get ‘er done).
I can change a tire (although my attempt may be futile if the tire was bolted on with an air compressor thingy).
I’m a pro at unclogging toilets and drains.I know how to drive safely in all types of road conditions.
I keep several quarts of oil, a gallon of premixed antifreeze and a bottle of Heet in my car at all times, just in case.

Like…. who really needs a man?

I have plenty of other things that I really need. Like:

I need to eat healthier.
I need to cultivate friendships.
I need to save money.
I need to pay off loans.
I need a newer car.
I need to get my teeth straightened.
I need new shoes. (I’m not just being girly. I promise.)
I need to organize my home.
You know how Rush Limbaugh boasts that he can do his radio show with half his brain tied behind his back? Well, I need to get the other half of my brain untied, because if I can rock life with only half of my brain, just think what I could do with the whole thing!

The past several years, I’ve felt like I was functioning with only half of my brain. Or maybe it was only 1/3. The percentage doesn’t really matter — the point is that I struggled. Life felt like too much of a burden and I felt like I was drowning under the weight of it all. I felt like I was failing at everything and nothing was going the way it was supposed to. I didn’t feel like I was living in a desert. I felt like I was a desert. There was nothing about me that even hinted at life and beauty.

During those years, I often heard my own silent screams for mercy. For someone to throw me a life preserver as the desert-that-I-was struggled to keep it all together in the ocean of people and responsibilities and trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not and which church and pastor were “safe” and which people were really my friends.

How does a desert — a conglomeration of sand and heat and dryness (and plants and animals that thrive in dry climates) — remain intact if it’s sinking in an ocean?

Maybe the ocean’s purpose is simply to deconstruct and destroy the desert.

Maybe the pressures of life are simply for the purpose of washing away the lifeless bits of sand, the prickly spines of cactus and the mirages that have been part of me for so long.

I’ve learned along the way that a lot of the things I’ve been taught (ideas which felt dry, dead and ugly) weren’t actually true, right or good. Things about who I am. Things about what I’m supposed to do. Things about the world and things about God and church and pastors. Things about emotions and love and…..

You have to know when to let go of things.

And I’ve learned to let go of the idea that I need a man — because I’ve done quite well without one, even though half my brain has been tied behind my back.

For the record, just because I don’t need a man doesn’t mean that I don’t want one. Because it would sure be nice to be able to delegate the gas pumping on -26* days to someone else.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Being a Mom is Hard

Being a mom is hard.

I know this because, from time to time, my friends ask me to care for their children while they’re away, and I know, from experience, that I don’t have what it takes.

Or, at least, I need a lot of practice.

When I say “a lot” I mean a. Lot.

This time it was my favorite set of twins — sweet, (almost) 18-month old baby girls who are just starting to toddle and are learning how to make letter sounds. While Baby Grace was enamored with the zipper on my sweater and saying “zzzzzzzz” after I told her that it was a zipper, sister Sophie was perfecting her walking technique. It seems to me that Gracie is intent on the fine art of words while Sophie is more inclined to learn useful skills — like walking. And throwing her food on the floor. And playing in the toilet. Ok, so Grace does join in on the mess-making. They both love reading stories and “helping” fold laundry, and they both get insanely jealous if someone else dares to sit on my lap. This afternoon, they both ganged up on their cousin and tried to push him off so there would be a spot for them.

For a few hours, I also had the cousin, the older brother, Sam, and then the other cousin showed up too. Like a good mom, I told the boys they had to go outside and run around for at least 15 minutes before playing inside. When they’d been out for 12 minutes, one of them came in and asked if it had been 15 minutes yet. I said no and they actually stayed outside for another 15 minutes. Score! When they came in again to play legos, I told them the rules are that the legos stay on the table so the babies wouldn’t have the opportunity to choke on them, and that if anyone shouted, they had to go outside for 15 minutes. I told them that if they wanted the privilege of yelling in the house, they had to pay for the privilege, and the cost is 15 minutes outside. (I’ve also told them that if they want the privilege of annoying another kid they’re playing with, they have to pay a quarter. Every privilege has a cost, and they need to think through it and decide if the benefit is worth the cost. For some reason, the privilege/cost idea seems to work with them.)

As I was cooking supper, the cousins left, and the uncle offered to take Sam for the night so I could focus on caring for the babies. I don’t have words for how awesome that was! Sam’s a flamboyant and rambunctious kid (whom I love to pieces), and I’m not sure how I would have fared with him the entire weekend. I’m sure it would have been fine, but two babies are definitely a handful all on their own.

The babies are so. dang. cute. They sat in their highchairs and gobbled down their dinner all the while saying, “mmmmmmm!” and doing the sign (baby sign language) for milk whenever they wanted a drink. They both asked for third helpings (growing girls!) and I was able to get one of them to do the sign for “please.” I’ve been working on the sign for “more” too, but they haven’t figured that one out yet.

(Side Note: We had gone to the park earlier in the day, and as I was pushing them in the swings, I would tap the babies’ knees or toes and I’d squeal “Knees!” or “Toes!” After the third time, Gracie reached for her knees and said, “nnnn-ee!” That’s my brilliant baby!)

Babies are such messy creatures. After their third helping of hamburger helper (I’m just that awesome at cooking hamburger helper….), they were covered from head to toe in cheese sauce, so they hopped in the tub and had a grand old time splashing around. As soon as I got them smelling like the sweet babies that they are, a friend asked if I wanted to go to the mall with her. Um…. yeah!

So I found the car seats and loaded them (and the babies) into my car and we were off. The babies loved it — except for the part about having someone they didn’t know trying to hold them once we got to the mall. Sophie was like, “I’ll walk, thank you very much.” But she didn’t want to hold anybody’s hand. Her thought process was, “If anybody is going to touch me, it’s going to be my Mari, and if my Mari touches me but doesn’t hold me, I’m not going to be a happy girl.” So Gracie got acquainted with my friend and I snuggled Sophie until we found a stroller at Herberger’s. They had so much fun grabbing at the clothes on the racks and feeling all the different textures. My friend’s little girl (age 5) wanted some play time with the babies, so we sat on a bench and the babies cuddled up to her and after a few minutes, they both started smacking her in the face. She laughed, which made them do it again — and again…. and again. It was quite entertaining to watch.

Then it was time to go. My friend put one baby in the car and her little girl wanted to put the other one in, and she did such a good job! She even tucked a blanket around both the babies so they’d be warm. I’m so proud of her! She’s going to be an excellent big sister some day! She was so conscious of the babies’ needs the whole time we were together. She told me she thought maybe they needed their diapers changed — and at that point, I realized that I hadn’t brought diapers. Whaaaahkkk! I’d be a terrible mother! And after the babies were buckled up and tucked in and the doors closed, Sophie started screaming her head off, and I realized I hadn’t brought pacifiers either. Whhhaaaaakkkk! Oh my goodness. Bad mom award!

The good news is that the babies had been freshly changed within 5 minutes of leaving home and they aren’t fussy babies. So as soon as I got in the car and started telling Sophie I was a silly, thoughtless grownup forgetting her pacifier like that, she was done crying. I fake-laughed, and both babies giggled. I fake-sneezed. Sophie fake-coughed in response. And Gracie laughed. They had lovely baby-gibberish conversations together in the back seat while I got a smoothie from DQ — and as soon as we got home, Grace saw I had a drink and she started in on the “milk” sign. She crawled up in my lap, and continued to do the “milk” sign. And then Sophie realized I had a drink and she joined her sister, crawling on top of me and doing the “milk” sign. I had just a little left, so I gave them the rest, and they were so happy. They laughed and said “mmmmmm!” and the second the first baby took a break to breathe, the other one went after the straw. It was really quite comical.

Then it was time for a little bite to eat (a few crackers), a fresh diaper for each and a nice, warm bottle and a cozy blanket to snuggle with — and just like that, they were out.

I swept the floor (for the third time since noon), cleaned the table and folded the laundry (cuz I’m such a good babysitter) and now, I hope I sleep. I’d feel better about it if they were in the same room with me.

O.

M.

G.

I think I just turned into one of those co-sleeper people.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Nursing School

I’m a nurse.

Until about two weeks ago, I was a nursing student.

Being a nursing student is a lot of work. It’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot of studying, a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of jumping through hoops. It involves giving up a lot of things — like spending time with your friends and family, holidays, vacations, favorite television shows and writing new blog posts. I had to give up a job that I adored because I couldn’t make the 300 hours of clinical that I had to complete in 12 weeks work with my work schedule. I missed out on the first several months of my favorite set of twins’ lives because I was studying. I missed out on lots of events in my other favorite kids’ lives. My friends called dibs on my free time and my house didn’t get cleaned. My laundry didn’t get done. I didn’t have time to buy groceries and I didn’t have time to cook. I ate a lot of fast food and my exercise was running the hallways during clinical. Because I’m a nurse. Nurses don’t walk. They run.

Nursing school isn’t for everyone.

Sometimes, I was sure nursing school wasn’t for me.

But I managed to graduate.

I managed to pass the NCLEX exam on my first attempt.

And even though I’ve graduated and I’ve passed the licensure exam and received my license in the mail two weeks ago, sometimes…. sometimes, I’m still not so sure nursing is for me.

Tomorrow I will meet with my employer to go through new-hire paperwork.

I can’t believe, after wanting it for so long, and working so hard for it, after writing a gajillion discussion posts and taking a few million online tests and spending several hundred hours at two different hospitals, a clinic and a nursing home, it’s finally here.

Tomorrow, I will be officially employed as a nurse.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Current Events

 

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The Water Slide

I realize I’m a big baby.

But.

Large bodies of water terrify me.

Part of it has to do with my (extensive) past experience with ear, sinus and throat infections, the idea of bacteria growing in bodies of water and the fact that ear, nose and throat infections can lead to bacterial meningitis which can kill people.

But it probably has more to do with the fact that until I took adult swim lessons 4 years ago, the only thing I knew about large bodies of water was that if I was in them, the water was in charge and I was at its mercy.

(I might have control issues….)

But seriously…. Water is a scary thing if you don’t know how to handle it.

I didn’t get too terribly far with my swimming skills, considering it took me the entire first lesson to get in up to my waist. But what I did accomplish was…. amazing — at least for me it was! I learned to tread water — which my instructor made me do in the 12 foot section until I could do it for an entire minute without nearly drowning. I also learned the back float, which I was actually pretty good at once I figured out that trying to save yourself is counterproductive.

That was about all I learned.

But before taking lessons, knee deep was my limit.

Now, as long as my feet are on the ground, and my head is above the water, I’m OK.

Water slides are a different story.

I realize the water is only 3 feet deep.

But….

You just don’t know how you’re going to land.

Water up your nose…. ear infections…. sinus infections…. bacterial meningitis!

(I might be a hypochondriac…..)

I could drown!

Do I really remember how to tread water?

Oh, wait…. it’s only 3 feet deep….

These were the thoughts coursing through my brain as I climbed the stairs and headed for my (inevitable) demise. My favorite 10-year old had coaxed me up to the top of the slide at the local water park, and I stood there, shaking, as the (very) young attendant explained to me that it was safe and I wasn’t going to die.

Are you sure?!?!

It wasn’t so bad….

…. until I got past the first curve and then I started going faster…. and faster…. and faster….

Then I hit the water.

I was thoroughly dunked. I was as dunked as a candidate at a Baptist baptismal service.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been screaming my head off when it happened.

I’m sure you can imagine how well that went.

I pulled myself out of the pool and realized that I was shaking.

And then, said 10-year old suggested we should go on the tube slide — the one that you sit in a floatie and exit into the Lazy River.

I thought this would surely have a better outcome than my first attempt. I would have a something to hang on to, after all!

So we made our way up the stairs again, this time with big green tubes in tow, and I watched as my little pal loaded up and the slide attendant gave him a small shove.

And then it was my turn.

Again, it wasn’t so bad — until I rounded the first curve.

Basically, it was same song, second verse, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Around about the third curve, I was going so fast that I almost fell off the tube when it headed precariously up the side of the slide as it rounded the bend.

The screaming wasn’t reserved for the landing this time!

It was then that I realized that this thing was completely out of my control and I was at the mercy of physics and gravity whatever else determines how fast and how hard and where and on what you land after careening through that ungodly long tuby slide thingy.

I was certain I was going to die. I think I even saw my life flash before my eyes.

The terror got worse when I rounded the 87th bend (ok, fine. It was probably only the 4th or 5th) and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The water was coming!

And who knew if I was going alight, safe and sound, on my lovely green perch, or if I’d get dunked again?

And then….

Plop.

I came to rest in the pool, right next to my little pal.

And I laughed. And I laughed. And I laughed.

I wanted to do it again.

I wanted to do it 50 more times.

Because it was.

So!

Fun!!!

My little pal just looked at me like I was a raving lunatic.

(I probably was!)

And his brother met me at the river exit with a sigh and a, “Now can we go??”

Oh, ok. Fine.

But seriously….

Why did I wait so long for such an amazing experience???

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Current Events

 

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The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

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