I don't deserve this…or do I?

I have taken a new position at work. I was actually pretty insecure and nervous about it. Although it is what I really want to do, it is SCARY since I am officially in charge of the cat rooms now. I mean, the Director knew I can handle it. She knew it would be okay even if I didn’t…she is so smart that way!

Have I mentioned how much I thank God for my job? I applied for the job and had the gall to tell the person I was applying to that I could not work the hours they had posted. I must be honest, I was not actually expecting her to offer me the job. The job fell into my lap TOO EASY. I mean, God is not THAT good to me! I prayed for this job and it just appeared for me. Seriously. I had not even applied anywhere yet! So I made it harder for God to make it work for me. And blast it, HE WAS NOT DETERRED!

I gave her alternate hours that would work for me and somehow they worked for her, too. Voila–God wanted it to work for me and it did. I have gotten a few different raises and added jobs here and there since then. Seriously–I keep trying to think of ways that this job is not PERFECT for me but I just can’t do it.

Recently, I lost a big account in my pet sitting company. I was worried about money, although I do try to give it to God when I start to spiral about it! Anyway, The Director offered me another job. (The job I referenced above actually) It came with a big raise that will cover the money I lost. I am working a bunch more, but it is okay because I don’t feel like I am working! And honestly, I KNOW I am the perfect person for this job. Thank you God for that as well!

Anyway, the point of my post is to say that I have tried in every way to say that I will mess up this job but God is not ready for that to happen. Isn’t it funny how when He decides it is right for me it is right?!

My Retractable Key Chain

Happy Thanksgiving! This one is bittersweet for me. Although I miss my Beloved and everything I did today made me think of past years when he was well; it is also gloriously the last holiday I have to share alone for the first time. I will still be alone next year but it will be my new version of normal and not the “Poor Girl Who Lost Her Husband’s” Thanksgiving.

Yesterday marked a year that he has been gone. A day I had been dreading since he passed last year. A year that all I could see ahead of me was depression and sadness. A day marking the end of a year I was pretty sure I was not going to survive. But God has plans for me.

God knew I would survive and thrive during this year of uncomfortable pain. He gave me tools–like the realization that I had been checking the temperature of the room and adjusting myself to make everyone else comfortable. I didn’t even occur to me that someone else should be adjusting the room to meet MY needs.

When I was doubting my purpose he gave me a job that makes me feel empowered and strong. A job that reminded me of why I got into animal care in the first place when I was doubting if it is what I wanted to do. A job where I am surrounded by love and understanding, even when I am having one of my crazy episodes. A job with co-workers that remind me of what it feels like to be worthy and accepted for being me.

When I wanted to walk away from cat sitting, I prayed He would tell me what I should do. He reminded me that I needed to work hard and build up my behavior work before rushing into quitting. I have to be truthful, I tried to act like I didn’t hear Him on that one. I was really hoping He would tell me to go ahead and jump. Everything had been pretty good up until that point, nothing too uncomfortable or life changing. I really wanted to just move in a new direction without knowing what was next but God kept throwing thoughts in my head to make me doubt that move. I finally got it when I heard the Dave Ramsey quote, “Listen, children do what feels good, adults devise a plan and follow it…” OK, God. I devised a plan to keep cat sitting while focusing hard on getting behavior clients.

I have been listening to an audio book and one thing really sounded familiar, like it was a new thought; but one that I heard before. The author said when you are doing nothing because you are afraid, force yourself to do something. The act of doing something small will help remind you that you have the skills needed and help you move forward. I am paraphrasing but that was the jist. My therapist has told me basically the same thing in the past when I didn’t want to go to parties or out. She said to tell yourself you are going for a set amount of time and when the time is up you can decide if you want to continue or go home. Spoiler alert, I almost always end up staying! Once I get there I realize that no one thinks I am stupid, ugly, over-dressed, under-dressed, etc. The act of getting there is all I need to remind myself that none of the stuff Frank is screaming in my head is true. So in other words, this is a tool that God put in my toolbox a long time ago. When I was looking around for the “dropping-my-main-source-of-income-and-hoping-for-the-best” tool, I found that one instead.

I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back, last year this time I really felt like my one true friend was gone. My eyes are open to my world, I am no longer trying to stay in the place where Albert led me. Turns out that the tools God has been given me were keys. I am instead looking forward down the hallway and seeing all the new exciting doors for me to open that only I have the key for.

So even though this Thanksgiving was bittersweet, I am thankful for it. I am in a really good place for the first time in a long time and I wouldn’t be here if my life had stayed the same. Turns out being uncomfortable has an important place in my life!

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Hiding my light under a basket

Hi there! I was not planning on writing today but something happened that is threatening to send me into a spin. Jesus tells a parable about not lighting a lamp to cover it or put it under the bed but put it on a table so it can shine it’s light everywhere. Although not exactly what he meant, I feel like telling my story out loud is like putting that lamp out where it’s light will touch everyone around me. If I don’t talk about the grief or the anxiety when it hits me, it is akin to putting that light under a basket where I will know it is there but it won’t be seen and won’t be able to help anyone see the way.

My cousin sent me a Facebook invite to the annual Thanksgiving family Football game. It brought back memories of all the years previous with my Beloved and how much he looked forward to this tradition. I remembered when he threw a snow ball into the megaphone my Aunt was using to cheer her team (not his team!) during the first game he had participated in and how I was mortified and certain that no one would ever want me to bring him anywhere after that. Of course, everyone loved him and maybe even more because he stood up for his team even when he probably didn’t even know the names of the people he was playing with yet! I remembered how every year when we got the invitation he would say he wasn’t playing this year, he was too sore after last year’s game, blah blah blah. And then we would go and he would play. I remember that he never told me if his team won or lost, just about all the fun things that happened or how different people did stuff on the field. I remembered that last year he was barely walking and the idea of bringing him to this state park with its dirt road and grassy fields was too much to even plan. Even when Al was just getting to know us, he was a part of the family when it came to playing football. After crying on the couch, I responded to her invite with an enthusiastic “Can’t wait!” (Fake it till you make it, right?!) And I can’t wait for real. Even though every part of me wants to spend this holiday alone in my pjs, I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. My sister in law always tells me “Life is for the living, go live!

My Pastor talked about forgiveness in the last sermon and how it is truly for the person who is holding the grudge. I realized while he spoke that I am holding a grudge against Al for leaving me here to go through all this alone. I know it isn’t realistic to be mad at someone for something they couldn’t control, and I am sure if he could have Al would be here. Still, I need to be angry at someone so why not be mad at someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, right? I wrote Al’s name on a piece of paper and put it at the foot of the cross. Symbolic but also part of my memory now. Whenever I start to feel that anger bubbling up I recall writing his name down and giving it to God to take away the feelings of hurt. Maybe it is simplistic, but that truly helps me to stop and thank God for the experience.

I am trying my hardest to be a light in the darkness for those who will go through this experience. It isn’t always easy (actually, it is almost always NOT easy!) but God gave me the power of a voice while Al was sick and I don’t think it was a tool he wanted me to use then and discard after!

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehamiah 8:10

Thanking God for my circumstances

So Day 9 and 10 are kind of intertwined. Day 9 asks me to list all the parts of my day (big and small) and thank God for each part. Day 10 asks me to list the little ways that God is present and helping me throughout my day (my God Smiles!). Since they are both so interlaced, I will do both!

This morning I woke up, texted my friend like I do every day to let her know (and let me know) that we are fine, got dressed, brushed my teeth and hair, and left the house for my morning cat sitting jobs. (thank you God!) It was raining on and off today, but when I left for work there was a small amount of time where it was clear (so I could get into the car without getting completely soaked!) (God Smile!)

I was meeting a customer to get her key and it worked out perfectly that the time I left to take my walk (an hour and a half of alone time with God and my thoughts…Thank you God for clearing my schedule so I can do this walk!) and the time she left to run errands had us both in the center of town at about the same time. I was able to get the key from her without having to meet her somewhere later in the day (I was babysitting my granddaughter so I didn’t actually have time!). After my walk, which I wore a rain coat for in case I got completely rained on and I did not!, I had time to jump in the shower and make myself beautiful before I had to rush out to do evening cat visits.

When I was doing my dinner visits, I was feeling stressed and anxious because I had told my daughter I would be there earlier than I ever had before. I seemed to get stuck behind every slow person in the world (!) and then when I got to the assisted living facility I finish my day in I ran into the daughter of one of the residents whose cat is on my run. My first thought was dang, I am definitely going to be late now. But she told me that she had to catch up with me because she wanted to let me know that I looked really good. She said that my face looks noticeably thinner and I even walk different. Now I have already mentioned that I am vain but it is all an act. I am actually pretty insecure and it was SO GOOD TO HAVE SOMEONE ELSE NOTICE. I am working out like a crazy person lately!

The bottom line is this–today was a pretty typical day in the life of me. There were times when things didn’t go my way (like getting stuck behind the sight-seeing people on Saybrook Road!) but because I am trying to keep an attitude of gratitude, I turned it around. I assume that when things don’t go my way it is just God keeping me where he needs me a little longer. Maybe there was an accident about to happen that I avoided because I was going slower than I would have liked? It is not in my job description to guess what God is doing or thinking. Actually, that is the main thought on Faith! Thanking God for the good and the bad parts of every day should be second nature for people. It is for me now!

God is Good, God is great…

Hi all! Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there. Today has been a quiet day, I decided not to even try to do anything in case it was tough being the first without Al. Thankfully, it was okay! I went to church, I walked to the beach and sat in the sand, thanking God for all the wonderful things in my life, and of course, I did cat visits.

So Day 8’s homework is to acknowledge God’s goodness. Write down specific times when I have seen God’s goodness in my life. Something happened yesterday that is a pretty big sign of God’s goodness in my life. I messed up on a cat sit. I got a text from the owner asking me if I had been there on Saturday morning because the cats seemed really hungry. I had not been there since Friday morning because that is what I had in my schedule! The good news is that the client didn’t fire me. But it was an eye opener for me. I have not forgotten or missed a visit ever in the last 16 years, although I have forgotten and had to rush to do a dog walk here or there but they are usually last minute jobs and I didn’t put them in my schedule. I have a software program to enter jobs into so that things like this don’t happen, since the software will send confirmations and if the date is wrong the client can tell me to fix it. I hadn’t used the software on the missed visit client because she didn’t really want to; so now I need to insist with future clients. The bottom line is, when things get crazy and I start to lose focus I feel like God sends me a sign to chill out. Is that God’s goodness? I think so!

Another way God’s goodness is in my life is in my home. I wake up in the morning and I look around at the wonder of it all. I have plenty of space inside and outside. I can walk to the beach, walk to the store if I want, walk to the bank…really walk anywhere. Even being as close to everything as I am, I am still in a quiet and relaxing place. I have neighbors who I love. I am alone in my own little bubble but still connected. Thank you God for sending me here!

Absolutely my health and well being are in the top 10 things that God has graced me with. I think people (umm…me!) forget how amazing they are. I get up in the morning with lungs full of air, the strength to get myself out of bed and moving, the mind power to get dressed and drive myself to work. I eat for nourishment and sometimes for fun!

All in all, God is good!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalms 106:1

Day 6 and Day 7…plus some extra :)

Hello again, Friends! I know that I am not being consistent with my 21 day plan, but in my defense I am actually very busy with cat sitting jobs. My heart is learning to be grateful, I have added thanks for things I would not have previously thanked God for in my morning chat with Him. I don’t have any regrets about it because I still feel like am growing in my faith. By not rushing through the days just to finish them, I am really ingesting each point.

Speaking of points, let’s get to the points of Days 6 and 7. Day 6 asks me to write down struggles that I am in and how I feel God is helping. I think this one is important because I have said before that I definitely have trouble with seeing God’s presence in my struggles.

I guess the biggest struggle would be starting my business. I have been in this field for far too long to be struggling like I am now. However, if I flip that around I can say that I am NOT in the same field. I am in a similar one, but cat sitting and cat behavior is completely different then dog walking and general pet sitting. I don’t wake up in the morning and think that I am doing another day of the same ole stuff. I had to stop dog walking so I could care for Albert and God provided for me by pushing me towards taking feline behavior courses. When my season of caring for him was done, I had all these new skills to push me forward in a new direction that was comfortable for me but challenging at the same time. Being that I am in a somewhat new area (an area that is SATURATED with pet sitters!) I am able to stand out from the crowd because I 1. offer feline only care and 2.offer behavior skills that others don’t have. There are other struggles, but this one is the main one that I thank God for.

Day 7 asks that I thank God for…ME! Since I am one of God’s masterpieces, why shouldn’t I thank God? The reflect was to look in the mirror and say thank you. I don’t have a mirror in front of me but truthfully I am pretty vain so I know 🙂 I will start with thanking God for my beautiful blue eyes and smile. I am thankful that I have features that are all in perfect alignment with my face, nothing is too big or too small. I have great skin, few wrinkles or grays and don’t look my age at all. I am also thankful that I still feel confident and beautiful even though I am not “thin.” I am bigger than I want to be but I still feel strong and empowered. I continue to lose weight and build up my strength (I thank God for MOB-fit because it is such a welcoming place, the perfect place for me to be!) but not because I think I need to so I will fit into some kind of version that society states.

For the things to thank God for that are not physical or maybe not even positive is next on my list. I thank God for my inquisitive nature because I am always finding new ways to do things and new, exciting things in my every day life. And I thank God for all the trials and tribulations that have formed the person I am. I can’t remember the last time I was bored! There are so many other things but these are the big ones.

And more… I have one more thing I want to talk about. On Sunday, Pastor Darren talked about Jonah and how he heard God but he ignored it. He did more than ignore it, he did something else instead. And all the puzzle pieces fell into place for him to leave, including a boat going where he wanted to go. The point of the story was that there is always a “boat in the harbor” to take you somewhere else when God asks something of you. And here is my question. How do I know? I have always felt like I will just know when it is God speaking to me and not Satan. I know when something is not right or when it is something that completely goes against the teachings in the Bible. I mean, duh?!

After listening to the sermon, though, I am not confident that I know who is speaking to me. Part of how I feel like I can tell it is what God wants me to do is because everything falls into place for me. If it too hard, I just reassess what I am doing because it is obviously not what God wants me to do. But now when things fall into place maybe it isn’t God who is pulling the strings for me after all? Of course I am talking about things that are in line with the Bible and what I know is God’s will. Here is a real life experience. When Al died, I had a number of people tell me how great I was with caring for Al and how I should think about going into care giving or nursing. I thought about it but then I was reminded of all the work I had been doing for my cat sitting business. I decided that it was God’s will for my life that I continue to work on that business. Then one of my clients (and I consider a friend) got sick and needed care. I already care for his pets daily but now he was looking to have me do some “home health care” stuff. I didn’t want to do it. It reminded me so much of caring for Albert before he died so that didn’t help my mental state of mind. But–I was thinking that maybe God DID want me to get into the care giving after all? It was uncomfortable and not everything God gives me is rainbows and unicorns. But I am really pushing my boundary lines in my business. I am giving cards to people when I want to just walk by and I am talking about cat behavior stuff to…really anyone who will listen! I don’t talk to strangers. I don’t talk to friends even sometimes! But now you can’t shut me up hahahaha! Instead of going back to bed when I get home (my mind and body are begging me to!) I work on the business. So what gives? Maybe this goes back to having faith in what God’s plan for me is. I just have to trust that if I am making sure I do things that align with the Bible, it is the right thing. Right?

Do you think about the sacrifice that Jesus made and God allowed?

My reflect for today is to write a few things that come to mind when I think about the sacrifice God made by giving his son to the world. To repeat how it is written in my YouVersion study, Jesus experienced the humanity and in humility was put to death for our sin and shame.

I have written about this before, how unbelievably huge that sacrifice was. I have often thought about my own children and whether I could make the same sacrifice. Although I would never know if I wasn’t in that actual situation, I am pretty sure I would not be able to do it. I really make a conscious effort not to make things TOO easy for my kids, but I definitely try to make their lives as easy as I possibly can. And even if I was able to just let them go somewhere that I KNEW would be a bad place with a definite death sentence at the end, could I just sit back and wait for it to be finished when my son cried out to ask why I had forsaken him? I don’t think so!

It is just another way to show that God is…well, God! Although he is portrayed as a kind and loving Father, he seems pretty cold and distant to his followers. I definitely feel like I relate more to Jesus because he was a human man and he had human emotions. I am absolutely not trying to say that my Father is emotionless, but the fact that he didn’t experience earthly emotions is the only way he could have turned his back on his son and allowed him to be beaten and mocked before dying for humanity.

So I guess my reflection on the sacrifice is that it was a mighty sacrifice that could not have been made by an earthly father. That does not make it any less huge or amazing!