The Sky Is Falling…or is it?

The world seems to be living by standards set by Chicken Little…The Sky is Falling!

It feels like we’re all on edge…no matter what your belief system, your political affiliation, your socioeconomic influence, we all seem to be living like that animated chicken who sadly mistook an acorn falling on his head for the ENTIRE sky falling.

It’s all about the extreme headlines, the ratings, who can get there (where ever ‘there’ is) first. We’re all in a panic! It’s not about whether or not you’ll reach your goal, it’s about reaching your goal FIRST!

And when things don’t go our way we immediately run to the extreme of anticipating the sky to fall. We’re absolutely sure of it! And if we can just scream louder than the next guy, then we’re convinced WE can hold up the sky one more day.

I’ve got news for you…the sky is NOT falling…at least not today. And you CAN’T hold it up ON YOUR OWN.

I’m not suggesting we don’t try to change the world. I’m a writer…it’s why I write. But I am suggesting that we don’t forget to breathe. We calm down. We don’t forget ALL of our manners. Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice…?”

I swear there are days that I think we’ve lost our collective mind!

And I am no better than the next guy – I find myself sucked into the mania at times too. And it depresses the hell out of me. And I can’t live like that. Can you? It’s exhausting!

We’ve gotten mean-spirited. Or maybe it’s just the headlines focus on the ugly parts of our world. My soul begs for “feel good” stories most days.

So to prove the sky is NOT falling, please share a brief inspirational story below. Tell me something good, something uniting, something kind. I really need to hear it.

Let It Go…Again

Let It Go.

It’s not just an overplayed Disney song (my apologies if you’re singing it now), it should be a way of life.

I am guilty of obsessing over trying to fix things that I may not be able to fix. I spent my morning doing just that.

Ever since my husband’s employment status changed last year, our income took a hit. We were living comfortably until then. Not richly, but comfortably. Taking a vacation was not out of the equation. Paying for the unexpected car repair wasn’t a choice between eating steak or ground round. Fortunately he found work within two months, but at a significant pay cut. And we feel it.

I can easily fall into the trap of juggling numbers and stressing over bills, and trying to pay for the dentist bill, the cable bill, and our children’s college all at once. By the way, my oldest won’t start college for 4 more years, but that won’t stop me from pretending that Rush Week starts on Monday.

I could get two more jobs, reinvent myself, put the kids to work (not really), or I could keep on trucking. I mean, we aren’t poor by any measure. We get by just fine, it’s just that the budget is tight and we have to account for every penny. Mostly that’s because of my own fear. I’m the penny pincher. My husband is much more relaxed about our provisions than I am. But I think that’s the difference in our personalities.

That’s where Elsa’s song comes to mind. But before Elsa knew to sing about letting your fears go, Jesus knew it. In fact, he instructs us to do it. He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. So why does it take me so long to figure it out? Why do I let it go only to pick it right back up again?

I think it happens most often when I’m not walking beside Him. When I’m not seeking Him daily. When I don’t hear His voice in my ear, then I tend to fill it in with my own voice. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my voice can NEVER replace God’s. But isn’t that exactly what I’m doing while I’m obsessing and stressing? I just need to trust, to listen, to let go and let God.

I need to work on that. What things in your life do you keep picking up that you really should let go?

I Should Be at Church

It’s a Sunday morning, and I should have gotten everyone up on time (and against their protests) and gone to church. But I didn’t. I chose sleep for the second week in a row, in a long string of sporadic attendance, over worship.

When we lived in California, we never missed a Sunday unless someone was sick. We went to a church of about 350 members. I ran a women’s group on Mondays, my husband helped with Youth Sunday school (both High School and Elementary) and at one point was an Elder. My kids were involved in AWANA and I published the church’s newsletter, not to mention the countless times we volunteered for church events. I don’t tell you all of this to brag, I tell you all of this to show the difference between then and now. To show you I’m not just complaining, that I know things should be better, and that I know they CAN be better.

Fast forward 4 years, and we’re living on the opposite coast, and we should be well established with a new church family. But we’re not, and I know I’m not alone. At least, I don’t think I am.

We’ve been to something like five churches trying to find our fit, our new church family. The churches have varied in size from nearly nonexistent to mega-church all in attempt to find the fit…not God, but the fit. God has been in every one of the churches we’ve been to. But the difference is the people, and not God.

I mean no disrespect to the Church. I love the Church. I believe in the Church. I’m just a little frustrated. The churches we’ve encountered are just different than what we are used to, or it could be a symptom of the times. They are much more corporate, especially the mega churches, which my area seems to have a lot of. I don’t think they mean to be, and I know it’s probably a symptom of trying to serve so many different people. But classes and groups meet generally in 6 week spurts or from September to May, so you never really get a chance to share in one another’s lives. I WANT MORE. I WANT the dirty, nitty-gritty that our lives hold. I WANT to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brother or sister and go through their trials and celebrate their victories. And an hour on Sunday or a few hours during a class won’t get me the intimacy of those friendships that I miss.

The one thread I’ve found running through ALL of the churches, no matter what size, is the feeling of ISOLATION. It doesn’t matter how long we attend a church, we just never seem to connect. And we’ve tried. At the large churches, we never see the same people twice. From the time we walk in the doors and are greeted with a “hello” and a smile to the time we leave with a “goodbye, have a nice day,” sometimes those are the only words that will be spoken to us. Fortunately, my kids have managed to make friends in Sunday school, but those friendships seem to end as we leave the church doors. They seem to be reserved for “while in church only.” No one seems to linger after church is over. Most people race for the parking lot to get on with their Sunday.

As Christians we’re called to be part of the “Body of Christ” but that body has to RELY on one another and LEAN on one another to function. And it seems like a bunch of body parts not communicating, but rather working separately from one another.

I know there are other people within the church walls feeling the same as me. I know it’s up to us to get involved and reach out. But the times that I’ve tried, I’m either too late because a class has already started, or a group is already established. Not to mention that, for me, not being able to drive makes it really hard (if not impossible) to get there sometimes. And the church is just too big to make a friend that would be willing to give a girl a ride now and then.

So if you’re in a large church this Sunday or next, do me a favor and turn around and greet the person seated behind you. It may make the difference in them ever coming back again. And if you’re brave enough, go one step further and invite them to an upcoming church function, AND OFFER TO MEET THEM THERE so they won’t feel so alone. I promise you that you’re effort won’t be wasted. They may think you’re weird, but it’s a chance you should take. You may even make a friend for life.

Have you had similar experiences with church? How did you get past it?

Keeping My Head Above Water

Some days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water.

Being “Mom” and “Wife” is a varied job description for women. No one woman does the same job as her counterpart, yet we share a sisterhood that, on many days, all we need to do is look one another in the eye and nod. That nod says it all. I understand. I’m right there with you.

Some days I get too far ahead of myself. When things seem to be not going as planned, I’m the first one to want to jump in and fix them. But unfortunately, sometimes there are no quick fixes, no immediate solutions, and that drives me crazy!

The hamster wheel just doesn’t go fast enough for me and it still only goes round and round in circles. No end, no fix, just a whole lot of wasted energy.

Whether it’s the mounting price of groceries, or the stress of doing taxes, or keeping the kids in clothes or  worrying over their grades, I just can’t do it.

And then I remember what’s missing: God.

I’ve been trying to do it on my own: trying to solve problems that haven’t even happened yet, and may not ever happen, all on my own. The people around me feel my stress. I’m one of those who can’t hide my feelings…my face shows my every emotion. It’s a curse, really.

There’s a definition of “Anxiety” that I really like: trying to figure it all out at once.

That about sums it up.

The nights when I can’t sleep because I’m running numbers in my head, and no matter how I rearrange them, they just don’t add up. The nights when I wake myself up because my jaw hurts from clenching it so tightly that I might break a tooth.

All those nights could be better spent in rest and sleep if only I would let things go, and let God work it out. I know it may sound silly, but it really does help. God wants us to bring our worries to him, not so that He can fix them (though he certainly can), but so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves.

He’s already got it figured out. He really doesn’t need our help. In fact, for a lot of us, He just needs us to get out of our own way.

So I’m going to remember to breathe when things get hectic. If only I could remember to do that BEFORE the craziness starts.

Here’s to a better night’s sleep.

Is Social Media Uniting or Dividing Us?

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In 2008, there were 145 million Facebook users. In 2017, there are more than 1.79 BILLION users as of January 2017. That’s a lot of people…and a lot of opinions.

In 2008, people still had active MySpace accounts, Twitter had only been active for 2 years, and “meme’s” and propaganda was circulated through email.

I’ll admit, I was late to the game. I opened my Facebook account in 2008, I think. I remember being reluctant to do so, because I didn’t know how much of my life I wanted exposed to the public. Kind of ironic, eh?

But back in 2008, Facebook was a much friendlier place to be than it is now. I can’t speak for Twitter or MySpace, since I don’t have accounts, but I assume that they started out more friendly as well.

It was fun to connect with old friends. There were countless stories of families being reunited after having lost touch. We got to see pictures and video and share in one another’s life events. And it united us on a global level that the every day person had never been able to achieve before.

And then something changed.

Instead of being a forum to share what we have IN COMMON, and what we could CELEBRATE, it started to meld into how we are different. Instead of sharing EACH OTHER’S lives, we started posting pictures of ourselves in the form of “selfie’s.” We got more opinionated and more self-righteous and more self-centered.

And instead of “liking” things, we got indignant about people’s opinions, and felt the need to correct and admonish whenever we got the chance. We hid behind our screens and started commenting and saying things that we would never say to one another in person.

Instead of uniting, we’re driving a wedge between ourselves. Instead of building bridges we’re smashing them with a wrecking ball. Instead of celebrating in each other’s lives and telling one another “good job” or “congratulations” we’re uttering words that (hopefully) we’d never say in person.

NO OUTSIDE FORCE DID ALL THAT…WE DID THAT. And it’s got to STOP!

Social media will continue to divide us until we remember our manners. We can have discussions without being completely rude to one another. We used to do it all the time. We can disagree and still show love to one another. OR WE CAN NOT LEAVE A COMMENT AND MOVE ON. We can eat a meal without posting a picture of it on Facebook. We can celebrate our beauty without taking a billion selfie’s seeking approval. We can use social media for what it was intended – TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. But we have to get out of our own way to do it.

I love the human race. I don’t like conflict, and I want to change it when I can. This is something I can do.

You can do it. I can do it. We all can do it. But it has to start somewhere. Let it start with you and me.

My Epilepsy Experience and being your own advocate

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First, some history. I’ve had epilepsy (absence seizures) all of my life, we think. I say “we think” because ever since I can remember, I have experienced the Auras that go along with my type of epilepsy. In short, we never knew there was a “problem” because when I was young, I would tell my mom that I felt weird, but I could never really explain what I was feeling, and she never saw any outward symptoms. When I was about 19 years old, I had an episode while I was driving and drove off the road and into the bushes on the side of the road. That’s when the whole adventure to diagnosis started.

The doctors figure that the disorder started when I was only an infant. At 6 months old, I got meningitis, with an extremely high fever, and the doctors have assumed that there is probably some scar tissue on the brain that is causing the seizures, though none has ever shown up on an MRI (the scar tissue, not the brain – LOL).

I’m 47 now, and have been through a slew of neurologists They aren’t my favorite doctors for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because they hand you a pill and don’t listen to your ideas.

But I know my body. I know what makes it tick. And without doing my own research and fighting for what I believe in, I would still be taking exactly what they tell me, and having minimal results.

I used to have seizures every month, like clockwork around ovulation until after my period. And I was told by the neurologist (usually a man) that “everything is worse at that time.” Yeah, but why?! But I listened and stayed away from birth control pills because the neurologist said it could interfere with my medication.

Until recently. I started experiencing symptoms of peri-menopause with off and on periods and heavier than normal flow. So, once I again, I started researching. There’s a type of epilepsy called Catamenial epilepsy in which women’s seizures are exacerbated during their menstrual cycles.

I approached my neurologist who sort of dismissed the idea, so I went to my gynecologist instead. The Nurse Practitioner I saw listened to me and put me on a progesterone birth control pill. The seizures stopped immediately! No kidding! For 4 months I was seizure-free. That was the longest I’d ever been without a seizure since I was diagnosed and started keeping track. I had a few breakthrough seizures when the pharmacy filled a different brand name pill for me. I know there isn’t supposed to be a difference, but I fought to get the same brand I had before, and it worked again.

Also, thanks to Peri-Menopause, I started experiencing night sweats. I read that Magnesium will help with those. And it does, sort of. This last weekend I was sick with some sort of intestinal thing, so I backed off of the Magnesium. Within two days I was having seizures again.

So I started researching, and it turns out that people with epilepsy are sometimes Magnesium deficient. What?! No doctor ever told me that. I went back on the Magnesium and the seizures stopped the next day!

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know that you HAVE to be your own advocate. YOU HAVE TO!

All this being said, I’m not advocating going off your meds. Don’t be reckless or careless and endanger your well-being. I still take my medication, because I think it probably works a little, though I can’t really prove it. But I’m not willing to go off of it simply because I don’t want to stir up the calm waters that I’ve fought so hard to find. But I seem to have found the right combination of meds and minerals to help my particular situation. And who knows? It may change again.

Talk to your doctor. If he or she won’t listen, find another who will. Be your own advocate, no matter what your situation. Sometimes we have to fight for our healthcare. We shouldn’t, but we do.

We deserve to live the very best life we can. We deserve to be healthy, whatever that means for you. Have you ever had to fight for your healthcare? What did you experience?

 

*I am not in the medical profession. This is my unique experience. I am not dispensing medical advice. The above post should only be taken as my opinion.

New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve read a lot…and I mean A LOT… of depressing blogs about how awful 2016 was. The theme seems to overwhelm the blogging world.

And I get it: we had a political climate that divided us (and still continues to); we’ve had what seems to be a significant number of celebrity deaths, especially in the last few months; there have been tragedies, unfair accusations, and a whole lot of judging going on.

But I guess that’s what happens when you put your hope in these things. #falsehope

I got sucked in too, on occasion, but it didn’t leave me feeling an overall sense of dread about the year 2016. Trust me, my family and I had our own share of difficulties in 2016.

But enough is enough!

My resolution for 2017 is to stop listening to the whining and the noise that is so distracting…even consuming.

My resolution is to put my hope in something that makes sense…my faith in Jesus.

I know, I don’t get “preachy” on here too often, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m sorry if it offends some of my followers, and I hope you don’t hold it against me.

My faith is the only thing that makes sense to me, that is never changing, that delivers over and over whether I deserve the blessings or not. #grace

My faith is not a magic trick that will make things appear out of nothing. My faith is a relationship, a genuine hope that everything is going to be okay, even if things don’t work out the way I want them to.

It’s the end of 2016 and I’m still not a published author, I’m not the perfect wife or mother, my house is still not clean, my kids still disobey me, I’m not debt free, I still have epilepsy, and world peace is still not achieved. But all that is okay, because I’m right where Jesus wants me to be.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Safe New Year! I’ll see you in 2017!