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

Shut up, Frank!

Hello there! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week. I am 🙂 I have been feeling pretty down over the last few days but I haven’t really been sleeping well so that is a big reason why. Life would be so boring if it was always sunny!!!

Day 10 asks me to write out a few “good” circumstances in my life and a few “not so good” circumstances to give thanks to the Lord for. The point being that it is really hard to see the good when you are upset about something awful that is happening but, as it was said before, everything that God does is for a greater good.

I will say the biggest good circumstance in my life as of late is the fact that I have been able to focus on the opportunities and gifts ahead of me (and less on how terrible my life is!). I have been able to make some decisions without overthinking to the point that I am just frozen in place. Just overall, my life has been pretty awesome!

The flip side to that would be that it is a struggle to live this awesome life. I definitely spend a lot of time telling my subconscious (Frank!) to shut up because he keeps telling me how hard it is going to be. Frank reminds me of my age and how I am starting over like a 20 year old but I am practically over the hill. Frank tells me that I am never going to be my version of perfect, I will always be fat, my wrinkles are getting more prominent…etc. etc. etc.

It is easy to thank God for all the good in my life, I usually do when I wake up in the morning and before my feet hit the floor. I don’t usually think to thank Him for the difficult parts of my day; over the last few days/weeks of the bible study I have thanked Him for the REALLY BAD stuff but the little insignificant stuff just falls through the cracks. Another lesson learned in my 21 days to a grateful heart!

I thank God for giving me the wisdom to be able to know that it is Frank’s voice in my head and not my true voice or the voice of my God. I thank God for giving me the strength to know I am not practically over the hill, fat, wrinkly, or anything else that may be placed in my thoughts. I thank God for speaking to my heart and talking louder and prouder than Frank so there is no mistaking the words of my heavenly Father. And finally, I thank God for giving me the tool to “turn it around” when anything happens. Instead of thinking about how horrible a situation is, I have this knack for finding the good that came out of it. God did that for me!!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

An Interesting Town Character

My friend Jenny told me to pray to God for guidance about whether to get a side job or not. I talked to Him on my walk but He didn’t answer my question! The thoughts that He kept putting in my head were about remembering my worth. What? I know I am worthy yada yada yada. What about the job dilemma?

But…Okay, God. Because I have vowed to listen even when it is uncomfortable (or I think it is wrong!!!) I started listing all my gifts that God had given to me and all the reasons why I am worthy. Out loud. While I walked home. Truthfully I didn’t even notice if people were staring at me or anything because I was very intent on listing them all. With my tight capri leggings and tank top, I did not once think about whether anything was jiggling or ugly to people driving past me as I walked and talked to myself. Making a name for myself as an interesting town character hahaha.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to remember all the times I had buried my opinion to make someone else happy or satisfied. I don’t even remember a time when I did something without thinking about the repercussions on my reputation. Right now, I am already thinking about what to do to make myself more “date-able”. I got my hair cut really short after Al died and I LOVE it. But…guys like girls with longer hair so I will have to start growing it out. I am exercising like a mad woman because I have to be thin to be noticed, right? I am wearing colors that compliment me according to (fill in the blank,) I am listening to music that is “normal”, not like the BeeGees (even though I love them!). What if I did stuff to make ME happy and started using my many gifts to attract someone instead? Listing my gifts is really making me feel strong and reminding me of who He has made me to be. Thanks God!

After my walk, I actually went to the store and bought myself 3 new shirts. Two are yellow, even though (fill in the blank) said that yellow is not a good color on me and I look better in blues. Yellow makes me happy and I can’t think of anything that looks better on me than that! And I will be keeping my hair short for now. I love it and my opinion should be the only one that matters on the subject. I am still walking every day but that is more for my mental fitness then my physical fitness. I want to be a size that makes me happy, not a size I think will be appropriate. I am giving up the gym for right now. It is a pretty big chunk of my budget and I can do almost everything at home. Besides, I spend a lot of my time looking for approval while I am there instead of being thankful for the strength and determination God has gifted to me so I can lift the weights or do the different exercises.

I still had the job dilemma but I figured God was trying to get me to remember who I am first. Even with the job search I was not thinking right. I was definitely trying to find a job where I would get the most exposure. Do I work near my gym? In a place where my church family might see me? There are a couple of potential future fellows I have been listing, if I work near them it would be a good way to open the lines of communication. Maybe I feel like I would be respected more because I have to work so hard without Al to help me. As if working every day, caring for my home and pulling myself out of the darkness that tries to engulf me isn’t enough! God knows my heart and He knows I need to build myself up before I am released into the world in a part time job. The attitude of putting myself second to make others happy or to make things easier for them is a hard one to break.

I woke up this morning, listened to the BeeGees as I walked to the beach and put on one of my new yellow shirts after my shower. Wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from a friend about a job that would be perfect for me. I haven’t even started looking yet! Thank you, God!

“For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the Lord’s declaration–“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

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!

Day 5–celebrate the source

And we are back! I am back to my 21 (ish) days of a grateful heart. Day 5 talks about the gifts we have and how they all are directly given by our heavenly Father. Every time I am complimented or promoted, it is from Him.

I have already stated that I am on that same page. I believe that everything that happens in my life (good or bad!) is a direct gift from God. The reflect for today is to jot down a few things that happened that led up to the moment where I felt honored and celebrated. I guess these would be in addition to the ones I have previously listed?

One that comes to my mind is when one of my client’s daughter told me that I was doing a really good thing by taking care of her Mom’s cat. (the backstory is that I go to an assisted living facility daily and scoop the litter/feed/medicate if needed for the residents there. I definitely started out because I was thinking about all the money I would make if I could get just a few people to hire me; but it became clear pretty quickly that I was there because God had sent me to help these people keep their animals when they could no longer meet the needs of their pet.) This woman’s Mom is my first client ever there, and she is near and dear to my heart. Her daughter told me that her Mom has very little in her life and if she couldn’t have her cat, she wasn’t sure what she would do. I was so honored for making such a difference in someone’s life. I definitely thanked my heavenly Father for the gift of my business.

That was a while ago, and I guess recently it would have to be all the people who told me how lucky Al was to have me caring for him. Over and over again I have had his friends tell me how fortunate he was to have been married to someone who was able to deal with all the different parts of his cancer. I definitely felt celebrated. But honestly, I have always felt that God put Al in my path and we both benefited from each other’s gifts. He and I met and started dating about 6 months after I got divorced from my first husband. I was young, with young children and not a lot in the way of confidence or self respect. Al treated me like I mattered, like my opinions mattered. It took a while, but he eventually convinced me that I was not a failure because my marriage was. Al got me my job as a pet sitter and Al convinced me to open my own business. He even helped me name it. When, after a few months, the business was still so slow and I was losing hope, he bought me a pair of ski pants, a matching jacket, boots, gloves and sun glasses to celebrate how successful he just knew I would be. There were so many other times that I doubted my own gifts and Al just reminded me. Being together turned out to be a gift from God for both of us!

I am not 100% sure that I am answering the question correctly but when I think of gifts from God, that is what comes to mind. There are other gifts, too many to even write here, and I hope that I remember to thank Him for those as well. I try to thank Him as things come about, and to always remember that my accomplishments would not be possible without the gifts of a loving Father.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:16-18