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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Last night, we were on our way to a dinner obligation when we got into a little fender bender. I don’t even think fender bender is the correct term.  It was more like a fender chipper/door smasher.  I’m not going to go into details, but I feel pretty strongly that it wasn’t our fault.  Unfortunately, the other party may disagree with me.  We’ll see what happens.

The first time I was ever in a car accident it definitely was not my fault.  I was idling in a long line of cars at a stop light.  All of a sudden there was a huge impact and my car slammed into the rear of the car in front of me.  That car crashed into the car in front of it and so on and so forth.  It ended up being a five car pile up caused by a teenager who didn’t stop and hit the car behind me.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.  I remember making it to work later in the day and being so upset.  It was so unfair! I was just sitting there minding my own business and then suddenly my car was damaged beyond repair. I was out time at work, my car was gone and I was totally innocent.

A few hours later I was thinking about the accident and something occurred to me.  What about all of the people whose loved ones are taken away from them in senseless, unfair crashes.  How must they feel?  Immediately, I had perspective.  Losing a car was nothing.  Yes, it was a hassle and a nuisance but I could deal with that.  A car could easily be replaced.

That first crash was about seven years ago.  Since then I have had some major life changes, and I try to always remind myself that life isn’t fair and doesn’t always go the way we think it should but sometimes I forget and have to be reminded.

Last night, the accident was all I could think about.  I felt wronged, damaged and unjustly punished.  We JUST bought the car a few months ago.  How could that happen? I blamed it on about twenty different people.   I went to sleep still feeling angry.

This morning the first thing I saw when I turned on the news was the story about the man who lost his life going for a baseball at a game.   How must his family feel? My heart broke for them and is still breaking for them.

I then thought about another friend of mine whose father is going thru and very serious cancer battle right at this moment.

The truth is, I should know better than to be upset about a stupid car.

Just three years ago, it was my family who was watching as my late mother battled the disease.  Talk about perspective.  I can remember at the time being so mad at co-workers and friends who would complain about things that seemed so pointless to me.  Work problems, money problems,minor  health issues and of course, PETTY LITTLE CAR CRASHES.

It’s amazing how soon after having seen actual tragedy and loss, we become immune and callous to others who are going thru the same thing.  I know it’s happened to me.

My prayer is that I will always have perspective and that I will never forget what it feels like to have your heart truly broken by actual loss.  I don’t ever want to be unaffected by someone else’s suffering and I never want to be so self-absorbed that I think that losing something without eternal value matters.

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My birthday is right around Father’s day so every few years it falls on the actual Father’s day holiday.  Growing up, it was kind of neat though.  On the years that it was the same we would celebrate both and I never felt like my birthday was upstaged or forgotten or anything like that.

For the past several years Father’s day has been completely different, though.  It’s now a very confusing day, one where I reflect on past events and have a hard time picking the right card or saying the right things.

I remember reading a story about Jennifer Anniston in a magazine once, and the article mentioned that she was estranged from her mother.  I thought to myself, how can anyone not talk to their parent at all?   The whole concept of estrangement was so foreign to me.  Until it happened in my family.

My parents were married for forty years when my dad up and left.  Just moved out one day and in with another woman.  It was shocking.   My parents had always had a strained marriage, we kids knew that their relationship wasn’t what we wanted for ourselves when we married one day.  They would go days without talking and he did even leave for about a week once when I was in junior high.  He came back though, and my mom never questioned why he had left, she just took him right back.

We seemed to have the perfect family from the outside, and we did in a lot of ways.  We genuinely loved each other and I knew that my dad would do anything for us kids.  He was involved in sports, church and spoiled us with material things.  I never doubted his love for us.  I think because everything else in our lives was so good, we kind of pretended that the spirit of unhappiness my dad seemed to have, didn’t exist.

I am the youngest child and as I got older, I could see that things seemed to be deteriorating between my parents.   I lived at home while in college so I had a front row seat to the impending train wreck. Dad had always worked a lot but now he would get up super early and stay away until late at night.  When he was home, conversation was strained or non-existent.   I remember going on a weekend trip and when I returned that Sunday afternoon, it was obvious something had happened.  Mom could barely talk, she was so upset, and there was a new car in the driveway. (to this day, I don’t know what happened) The tension in the air was suffocating.

That was pretty much the last straw for me, I had to get out of that house.  At this point, I was done with college and had a good job.  I went out and found an apartment that week and moved out.  I think in my heart of hearts I knew that once I left things could fall apart.  I decided that I had to leave, regardless.  It wasn’t my responsibility to be the glue that held the family together.

It was about a year later that he left.  He didn’t even have the nerve to tell my mom to her face.  He went to my older sister and told her.  She had to be the one to tell my mom what was going on.  Although my mom was absolutely heartbroken, I don’t think she was surprised.  I think she had been praying for years that it wouldn’t happen like this.   Within a week or two of him leaving, we found out that there was another woman involved.  She had been married also, and had left her husband and three young girls for my dad.

My siblings and I were angry beyond belief.  We knew that things weren’t right between my parents but the lying and adultery was totally shocking.  It went against everything he had instilled in us growing up.   As the months went on, we found out that he had led two lives for years.  We immediately took our mother’s side.  I wanted nothing to do with him.  I was so mad I couldn’t even talk to him.

As the months went by, he and the woman holed up in a condo he had bought on the sly.  His booming business fell apart, mostly because the whole town thought he was a lying scum bag.  His sometimes aloof and flaky behavior was no longer tolerated for my sweet mother’s sake.  People actually said to me “I always thought your dad was a big jerk.” I’m not sure if they meant to make me feel better, but it always made me feel worse.

The months dragged by and before I knew it, it has been about 2 years since I had spoken to him.  He had tried maybe three times to get in touch.  A random birthday card or a phone message at Thanksgiving.  It was like he had decided that the previous forty years had been all of the time he was putting into us and now he was clocking out.

The foundations of my world were rocked even further when my mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  For a year and a half we shuttled to and from doctors appointments and treatments.   During this time I did not have the energy to even think about my dad.  I was emotionally drained.  Caring for my mother and dealing with the grief that we all knew was coming was overwhelming.  She passed away after eighteen months of fighting the disease.  Three months before she died I gave birth to my daughter.  Someone asked me if I was going to call my dad to tell him.  I didn’t have the desire or energy and didn’t feel the slightest bit obligated to call.

Estrangement from my dad was a really weird feeling.  I kind of knew that I would talk to him again eventually, and I’m glad that God gave me the chance to.  It would have been devastating if something would have happened to him while we weren’t communicating.   Forgiving dad was the key to getting past our estrangement.  When you are hurt that bad, it’s hard to forgive.   I wish I would have forgiven dad sooner.  Even though he and my mom had such a messy divorce, he would have been supportive when my mom died.  There is no doubt in my mind about that.  Our estrangement robbed him of the opportunity to bless us and redeem himself a bit in our time of despair.

When my daughter was about eight months old, my sister decided to make peace with dad.  I think in her mind it was better to have one parent, rather than none at all.  Both of us decided that it would be better if we did it as a group.  We met dad for lunch one day.  It was awkward but pleasant.  None of us made reference to the past four years.  A few months later we even went to his house for a birthday dinner for my grandmother.

It’s been two years since we reconciled.  Things haven’t always been great.  One of my siblings still has major issues with dad and that has made it a little hard.   I try to meet him for lunch every month or so and it’s not nearly as awkward as that first meeting.  My little girl is always excited to see him and he seems genuinely happy to spend time with her.   He’s not the perfect dad, but for a lot of years he was really close and I’ve decided that has to count for something.

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To say that I live for the weekends is an understatement.  They are what gets me through the long weekdays, many without any adult conversation.  I need stimulation. I need adult interaction.  I need to spend time with my husband.  He’s my best friend.  And was long before we ever had any romantic relationship.

So when he decides to play golf on Saturdays, it really upsets me.  I don’t want to be mad. I really don’t. It doesn’t feel good to get mad about it for the twentieth time.

I have a visceral reaction to his golf announcements.  My adrenaline gets going.  I can’t look at him. I do the silent treatment thing for a while.  It’s really quite embarrassing to admit this all.

A while back, I tearfully tried to explain to him why the golf thing upset me so much.    I have a thousand reasons but they all seem to have one common thread.

I’m jealous.  I want to go away for an entire day.  I want to spend money on ridiculous things. I want to be the one that he spend his time with.

I really hate this feeling.

Lord, help not to get mad about this again. Amen.

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Growing up, I struggled with self-esteem issues.  When I was a kid, I was a little chubby.  Not obese, just pleasantly plump.   Good nutrition in our house meant eating because it tasted good, not because it was good for us.  My mom worked outside the home and we were always in a hurry in the morning.  When I was in junior high, we would (please don’t judge my mom for this) stop at a convenience store before school so that I could pick up breakfast – a Snickers bar and a coke.  Lunch was a bag of chips, Snickers and another coke.   And contrary to the claim, Snickers really isn’t that satisfying, so by the time I got home from school, I would be starving.  My after school snack was usually a bowl of cereal.  Then, my mom would make a huge dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Delicious, yes.  Good for us? Not so much.

Needless to say, this way of eating caught up to me and I was picked on occasionally for my weight. Nothing extremely cruel, just a remark from horrible tween boys here and there.  This (along with my horrible late 80’s perm) caused me to have a lot of insecurity about appearance and low self-esteem.

Fast forward to high school when something pretty awesome happened.  I lost weight.  The good old-fashioned way.  I exercised and cut out a lot of the junk. I had a part-time job that kept me busy. I was tan, I was blonde.  It was awesome.  Everyone remarked on how good I looked. Boys noticed me. Cute boys. Even the boys who had picked on me in the past.  My brother used to say I had turned into a swan.

Over the next 10 years my weight fluctuated a little bit. When I was unhappy, I gained and when I was happy, I was thinner.  After college and marriage, I consistently stayed at a healthy weight and felt good.  Then I got pregnant and gained 60+ pounds.  Since then I have struggled to lose the last 20 pounds.  It’s been a big thorn in my side.  I just can’t seem to make it click.

Inevitably, it’s opened some old wounds.  I question my looks a lot. A few weeks, ago it had gotten really bad.  It wasn’t just about the weight either.  One night, I looked through old pictures and studied my face in the mirror.  I felt so ugly.  When did my nose get so huge and weird-looking?  Ugh.  Things that had never bothered me before started to bother me a lot.  I felt like I was turning back into an ugly duckling.  My husband tried to tell me I was crazy.  I didn’t believe him.  I went to bed feeling very low and depressed.

Now, I know that there is much more to life than outer beauty. That beauty is fleeting.  This was beyond me wanting to just look attractive, this was me feeling like a troll who shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house. Or walk the earth.  Honestly, this felt like a spiritual attack.  It was that dark and deep.

It couldn’t have been more than 2 days after my really low point that I met the Angel at the park.

I had taken my little girl there to play with a friend.  My kid, being the moocher that she is, kept going up to another group of moms and kids and trying to eat their snack.  I would run after her and try to keep her from bugging them.  After about the third time, one of the moms in their group looked up at me as I dragged my little one away.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Drew Barrymore?” She said, holding her sunglasses up around her forehead so she could look me in the eyes.

“Uhhhh no, I’ve never heard that in my life.” I was kind of flabbergasted.  I quickly glanced around, making sure that it was me she was talking to.

Well, you do.”

Oh, well Thank You!” I wanted to hug this woman.

Now, like I said, I have never heard that in my entire life, but this statement from a total stranger really, really impacted me.  And not because of the Drew Barrymore thing.   As I thought about it throughout the rest of the day, it hit me.  The Lord had worked thru this woman, no doubt in my mind.  He used her to show me that He will meet my needs, that He knows meKnows what matters to me. Knows what I’m battling right now.

I saw the woman at the park again last week.  We chatted for a bit and she said that she goes there a lot.  I hope I see her again and get to know her better.  I would love to share that story with her.

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