Blog

Vulnerability​

I can’t recall a time in my life when I felt I could show myself as vulnerable to life.  I have always felt that I have to be strong, be solid, have it all together and never show that I, too, am vulnerable to the battering that life so often brings.

I look around and my heart aches. Aches for those who don’t know Jesus and suffer; aches for those who do know Jesus and still suffer at the hands of a world without Jesus and because we live in that sinful, conscienceless world. But right now, my mind is full of my lack and THAT makes me vulnerable to all sorts of crap from the enemy. Knowing it doesn’t help fight it.  Knowing it only makes me anxious that I’m not in a position to even come close to winning this battle, this campaign and especially this war.

Yeh, I know.  “The battle belongs to the Lord”.  And that’s all well and good – when I have enough emotional and mental wherewithal to give it over to him.  Right now I feel like Peter walking on water, having lost faith, sinking fast in the dark of night in the depths of the sea.  And frankly, I cannot see my Saviors’ rescuing hand.  Is it there?  No doubt. None. Yet, I still feel the sea of life swallowing my ambition, my dreams, my zest for life.  What I desire to do most at this moment in my life is quit. Quit my jobs; quit my ministries; quit my friends.  The only relationships that I have any energy to maintain right now are my marriage and children.  It even takes unavailable focus and energy to interact with my parents, siblings, and families.

I hate feeling done, finished, spent. I feel like I’m “not”. Not capable; not competent; not interesting; not important; not worthy; just ‘not’. But I struggle on, day in and day out. Knowing that one day, it will improve or it will be over.  But I still cannot show that I am vulnerable to the struggles of life. It’s pride – plain and simple. Stupid.  So I guess that’s where I need to start. Pride goes before destruction… I guess this is my destruction.  Time to confess my pride and show that I too am vulnerable to succumbing to the hardships of life.

Advertisements

Holiday Anxiety

Does anyone else have a condition I’ve coined as “holiday anxiety”? You know, that feeling of dread as the middle of November rolls around and you have a dozen (which feels like a million) different events or commitments on you calendar in the next 45 days; you have to redecorate your home to reflect your Christmas spirit and then take it down in a timely manner so as not to look like you’re THAT person; you have to decide how much money you DON’T have to spend on those you love and how much you feel compelled to spend on others for whom you want to show appreciation and caring; you have a dozen Christmas parties – all of which you would love to have the mental fortitude to attend and enjoy, but the thought of which just makes you tired and want a large mug of hot chocolate and a good book – with a Christmas theme, of course.
Now please don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Christmas!!! Family gatherings – relaxed and full of laughter and love; gift giving centered in thoughtfulness and selflessness. The lights and the warmth of Christmas decor always relieve my “holiday anxiety”. But I have, in the last few days, had an overwhelming desire to ‘cancel’ the holidays.
I understand this all stems from my commitments, many of which I feel I have no choice whether or not to participate; the thought that it’s my responsibility to make sure things work out for everyone else in my ‘world’. I look at my calendar and can feel myself recoil – stress – and want nothing more than that hot chocolate and book. I often find myself wanting to “hibernate until Jan 2nd”.
Unfortunately, this year is no different. Thanksgiving is over and the day held little joy for me. My own fault – but there you have it. And the thought of the Christmas season being upon us just makes me tired and stressed. This is truly one of those years that I wish I had the ability to time travel to January 2nd.
Then I think of the memories I would miss making with my family and the blessing I would miss in ministering to those to whom God has called me to minister. As of right now, these thoughts don’t make me want to hibernate less, but they do help me renew my commitment to do my best tomorrow and to do what I can each day to overcome the paralyzing, mind-scrambling “holiday anxiety”. But today, give me hot chocolate and a good book and maybe, just maybe, I’ll make it to tomorrow.

Sad

I’m sad today… actually, I’ve been sad for many days – it just seems more intense today.  I look at the world we live in and am sad that my children have to deal with the sheer lunacy of people as a whole. Oh sure, there are many, many amazing people in the world, but I’ve often said that persons, individually, are smart, caring, loving and sane, but people, as a whole, are stupid, selfish, hateful and absolutely crazy.

Every time I read anything these days, whether it’s from the left or the right or the middle, it seems that people are like “yeah – this is the world’s issue”, “THESE are the people causing all the problems”, etc. And yet THEY are the ones spreading the hate and discontent and pointing fingers. I just sit and shake my head and wonder why we can’t remember that we ALL live on this fragile sphere called Earth and we ALL have limited time – so why can’t we focus on the common ground (literally) and love as Jesus called us to love.

I’m also dealing with the fact that I’ve realized that for the past 2 years I’ve merely survived and have quit living my life. I think the above hopelessness has made me apathetic and fatalistic that I can have no impact on those around me. And all that makes me sad, mostly because I have no idea how to start living again and not sure I have much desire to do so.  And that makes me sad.  Sad for my family, sad for my friends, sad for me. Yet with all of this, I just keep on keeping on… hoping that something will happen to spark that desire to read again, write again, live again, to realize that even if my sphere of influence is microscopic, I have one and need to use it for that LOVE Jesus has called me to embody.  But right now I’m having issues seeing the world as He does;  I look at the world around and wonder if I can have any impact at all.

So… I’m sad.

Just another day

I haven’t been feeling myself lately.  Not sure if I’m suffering from a mild depression due to the changes in our lives of late or if I’m coming down with something. Regardless of the cause, I’m just off my game. I have little joy in anything. My days seem to just run from one to the next, with little variation and little to motivate me to pursue the next day with passion.

This is how today started.  And for the most part, it ran its course that way. Then I decided to go meet my new little buddy, Kaleb. Little Kaleb Richard Baxter was born yesterday to some of my dearest friends, Scott and Jessica Baxter. New life – human, canine, even feline or avian (or other -ine, -ian)  – always brings a smile to my face. But when the little one belongs to a family that I already love, the joy goes deep.  I cannot wait to see this little guy develop into the man God has planned for him and I thank our Father that he provided him with such godly parents.

Today wasn’t just another day!  Time spent with dear friends and their beautiful blessing makes today an extraordinary day!

Sleep..

I’ve been sleepy all day. Tired, spent, just kinda off. Not sure if it stems from a touch of the  ‘fever’ from the yoga, or just mental overload.  I loathe days like this. I can’t concentrate. My work suffers and I feel like I’ll never get everything done or get caught up.

Tonight, will just be an early night and hope to get more rested. I’m just very, very tired and sleep  – blissful, restful sleep – closes in and consumes my mind.

 

It was a good day !

Sundays are usually mixed for me.  I have responsibilties at church, but worshipping with my church family ALWAYS overshadows those.  I usually wake anticipating just another day, but God always comes through and fills my heart and soul.  However, today was all blessing for me! I began my day with an hour and a half on my back deck – an hour of yoga and then breakfast and coffee with Eric out there too. By the time I left for church, I felt as if the Lord had already given me a relaxing, refreshing morning.  I looked forward to our church service this morning as today we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pastor Quin and Beth Williams. I have the the extreme privledge of calling them Pastor, friend, coworker.  I have the the honor of serving on staff along side them for over 10 years. God is faithful and has allowed me to fulfill His calling on my life with people who understand and embrace the fact that God calls all of His children differently.  I could not be more blessed to call them my Pastor and wife. 

Following a typical Baptist fellowship, I had the joy of watching my sister Andrea play Paulette in Legally Blonde, The Musical at Casper College. She is truly gifted and stole the show (I MIGHT be prejudice, but I don’t think so :)) I laughed until I cried😂😂 and enjoyed every moment of the production!  I was reminded what a gift family is and came home to enjoy Eric and the girls.

I made a simple dinner of salad and spaghetti. And finished my day just as I had started it, on my back deck enjoying the air and the sky.  As life seems to get more complicated, I realize just how important the quiet still moments are to sanity and survival. My day was bookended with quiet still moments and in between God gave me joy and blessing more than I deserved.  It was a good day! 

A typical Saturday

Saturdays are weird for me.  I have so many things that I need to do, but just need a day to hang and chill. Each week, I tell myself that I’m going to accomplish this or that, but when the Saturday morning arrives, I find some reason (aka excuse) to NOT do what I vowed to accomplish.

Today was the same as each Saturday seems to roll.  I did do some yoga this morning before mom came for coffee. And enjoyed the hour spent visiting with Eric and mom.  Then vegged on the back deck until time to go to Mary Small’s funeral service. Strange that.  In all honesty, I didn’t like Mary much. She was overbearing, loud and demanding. But I realized that she was such a part of so many aspects of church life that I will miss her.

We did a bit of grocery shopping following the service, then came home and took a nap. This evening, I cut up a watermelon and made rolls for the church potluck tomorrow.

I didn’t do all of those things (a long yoga session, write a story or in one of my stories, dejunk more of the house) that I’d sworn to accomplish.   Tomorrow is going to be another busy day – mostly out of the house… So another weekend will past without doing the things I swear I will accomplish.  Oh well… Maybe someday.

just sad

My newsfeed on FaceBook blew up these last couple of days with the recent shootings by police officers and of police officers.  My heart breaks for everyone involved on any level and my heart hurts for America.  I read a post by someone I’ve never met. His name is Terry Jaymes and he began his thoughts with this.

“I’m officially over “Us against them” – “Democrats vs Republicans” – “Law enforcement against Minorities” – “Black vs White.” I believe in the good in people and above all … love. Call me unrealistic and pollyannaish. That’s just you accepting defeat and being ignorant. Something has to give. I will do my best to become part of the solution. Whatever it takes.”

Everything in me wanted to stand up and shout “PREACH it Brother”.  In the last few years, with the daily reports of cops and others being shot out of fear or rage (which is just fear misdirected), I have had nebulous feelings that echo the above sentiment. I have never been able to articulate it so clearly and beautifully.

I, too, am officially over the whole ‘us against them’ mentality that seems to have permeated every demographic group in America.  One he didn’t mention here that truly breaks my heart is “Christians against …”  – you fill in the ellipsis.  Homosexuals, transgenders, Muslims, and the list goes on and on.  As Christians, we are called to stand against sin. All sin. The sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ as the One and only Savior of mankind is the ONLY one for which a man will spend eternity separated from God in hell. All others are pretty much equal. So why do we as humans feel the need to make one sin ‘worse’ than another.  Why is ‘greed’ acceptable (Donald Trump) and ‘lust’ is not (again, Donald Trump).  Why is ‘gluttony’ acceptable (ever been to a Baptist social?) and any other overindulgence (i.e. alcohol) is not?  Why is divorce just because you’re tired of each other acceptable and homosexual relationships aren’t?  Seriously. I want to know the answer.  All we as Christians are doing is making ourselves like the Pharisees who Jesus named vipers. Sin, my friend, is SIN. It’s just that simple. Dante may have had levels of hell, but our Lord Jesus never ‘graded’ sins. Sin is sin and every sin we commit separates us from peace with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but sin separates us from the unified relationship with God that He desires. The relationship that the Father sent to Son to die on the cross to make possible.  Why, then, would we stand in judgment of another’s sin (‘he who is without sin, cast the first stone’) – whatever that sin may be – when each and every one of us struggles with his or her own ‘pet sins’.

Should we stand against sin? ABSOLUTELY. But we are doing more harm than good for His kingdom by doing so with vitriol and hateful words.  How many sinners will never yield to the gentle stirring of the Holy Spirit because a Christian was unkind or failed to express the all consuming, healing love of Christ?  THAT breaks my heart most!!

Peace

I love the beach. Every beach I’ve ever been to has been etched into my memory as one of my favorite places. Sometimes the memory revolves around those I was with; other times it revolves around the energy of the crowds that were around us. But most often my favorite and most vivid memories of the beach were the times of utter peace. When I was in college in Jacksonville, FL, I regularly visited a state park just north of the metropolis.  I always enjoyed Jax Beach and St Augustine Beach when I could go, but this state park (I think it was Little Talbot Island State Park) was my refuge.  I can’t recall every seeing anyone else on the beach when I was there. I would walk and pray for hours on many a afternoon my junior and senior years of college.  And my overwhelming feeling when I would leave that wonderful nature preserve was peace. Every. Single. Time.

Which brings me to this picture that I was drawn to today. I have no idea where the beach that is pictured is located on our beautiful planet. But it says peace to me.  There could be 100, 000 people behind the photographer, but because all is see is blue sky, turquoise water and smooth sand, I see peace.  I find that when I have days of turmoil, I seek photos of empty, sunny beaches.  I’ve needed these photos the last few days.  The turmoil in our family with Eric having lost his job; the turmoil in our family with having a 15 year old in the house; the turmoil at my job when I’m not perfect and the one thing that gets missed ends up being a big deal; the turmoil with having a college student who is suffering from clinical depression; not to mention the turmoil in our world with politics, perceived threats, true threats, the daily reports of murder, fear and ugliness. These things require that I find peace in something.  The pictures of the beach always remind me of my days walking the solitary stretch of sand in Florida. The days of prayer and communing with the Prince of Peace.  The One Who is the ONLY source of true peace available.  Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Well, that was fun… (can you taste the sarcasm?)

I’ve been trying to decide just exactly how to describe today and the best I can come up with is the title of Judith Viorst’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”.  Change the name to Heather and there would be no better description.

alexander-terrible-horrible-day-bugabookLike I said, I love most aspects of my job, but I can honestly say the aspect I absolutely hate is the feeling I have nearly everyday that I am completely inadequate to do the job.  Sometimes it is the lack of communication. The fact that I am absolutely the last to know events, schedule changes or other things that effect me or my job directly.  Other times it’s the ‘tyranny of the urgent’. The fact that I simply do not have the time, energy or mental focus to get every task done in what would be considered a timely manner.  Time, energy and mental focus are areas that no matter how hard I try, I just cannot change.

Today, an oversight on my part ended up being a big deal. It happened in an area that I’m really trying to work on, but due to an number of unavoidable circumstances an important task got overlooked. And the result was bad. Fortunately, not life threatening, but bad.

During my mental hotwash, I realized that I care too much. I need to do the best I can, apologize when I screw up and just keep doing my job.  I do get tired of feeling like I’m never going to ‘be on top of the tasks’ and eventually, I’m sure that will be why I leave the position.  Just the stress of not feeling up to the job is slowly killing me.  I also realized to night that I need to really try to do my job as if I was doing it for Jesus, because I am. This is the challenge. I get sidetracked with the minutia. I get sidetracked with the personal lives of those around me. And while building relationship with those around me is important, I need to work as unto the Lord.  Ask for help when I need it and let go of the tasks that don’t get done, striving to accomplish them the next day.