Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The new rule

I have always considered myself to be an impulsive person.
And in some respects I am.
I tend to make decisions very quickly and emotionally.
For example,
I have been known to travel at the drop of a hat.
Or when we purchased our home,
I knew immediately it was the one.
Or when I fell in love with my Lanny Love,
there was no pondering and thinking about it,
I knew I wanted to marry him.
And I am always up for an adventure
of most any kind!

despite the fact that I tend to make major decisions impulsively,
once the decision is made,
an act of Congress can't change my mind.
I am realizing that I am anything but impulsive
in my daily life,
rather, I am extremely routine oriented and...

For example,
we have had a house guest this week.
Normally, I rise,
have my coffee and read my Bible -
from my rocking chair in the front window -
take my shower,
put my moisturizer on my face,
make the bed while the moisturizer absorbs,
put on my make-up,
do my hair.

This morning,
it was necessary to wait for my shower a bit
so I made the bed while I waited.
When I applied my moisturizer,
I didn't know what to do!
So while I waited,
I thought about other ways in which
I am routine oriented.

1. Lanny and I sit in our chairs in the front window
to have our coffee and read our Bibles in the morning.
Sometimes the sun makes it uncomfortably warm
so we move to the den.
It bothers me.

2. Lanny sits at the head of the table,
I sit to his left.
A while back,
our grandson wanted to seat everyone
at a family dinner
and when he came to me,
I said, "Here"
indicating my chair.
He sat me there.
(It was this incident that spurred this line of thinking)

3. Every day, 
I read five Psalms 
(that gets me through the book once each month)
and one Proverb 
(same thing)
in addition to what I am reading in my 
"through the Bible in a year" plan
(I spend much more time than a year doing this,
but it gives me a "plan")
and whatever devotional I am using at the time.

4. Coffee and Smart Mix as soon as I get up,
breakfast at 10:00,
lunch at 1:00,
Dinner at 6:00.
(In my defense, 
scheduled eating is important for a diabetic, 
particularly one who is diet controlled.)

5. I count things.........

There's more,
but you get the idea.

I have found myself wondering recently
if I have always been this rigid,
or if it is one of the personality changes
that came with widowhood.
I think it is a combination -
I have always been more routine and detail oriented -
it's what made me an excellent secretary/paralegal -
and I have always mostly been a rule follower.
But I have not always been so rigid.
There is a difference!
Being routine and detail oriented is fine.
Even impulsiveness is okay in some things.
Being rigid is not okay or fine!

Webster sees the difference as follows:

Definition of routine

  1. 1a :  a regular course of procedure if resort to legal action becomes a campus routine — J. A. Perkinsb :  habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure the routine of factory work

    In other words,
    a usual way of doing things.

Definition of impulsive

  1. having the power of or actually driving or impelling
  2. a :  arising from an impulse an impulsive decisionb :  b: prone to act on impulse an impulsive young man

In other words, 
not really thinking things through, 
making a thoroughly informed decision.

Definition of rigid

  1. a :  deficient in or devoid of flexibility rigid price controls a rigid bar of metalb :  b: appearing stiff and unyielding his face rigid with pain
  2. a :  inflexibly set in opinionb :  b: strictly observed adheres to a rigid schedule
  3. firmly inflexible rather than lax or indulgent a rigid disciplinarian
  4. precise and accurate in procedure rigid control of the manufacturing process 

 In other words,
setting up and following rules all the time,
sticking to the plan - no matter what.

I think it is just as bad as it sounds.

I am not unpleasant in my rigidity.
I don't pitch a fit
or criticize,
but it eats at me.
And it's a joy/fun thief -
theft not only of myself,
but others.
(Thinking of that grandson incident...)

I can be flexible.
With proper notice.
Time to wrap my head around the change.
But that's not being flexible after all.
It is still wielding control.

When we travel,
I know things won't always go as planned.
And I often say with enthusiasm,
"It's part of the adventure!" -
and I mean it! -
and just go with the flow.
I think that I am able to do that then
because I am outside of "normal" anyway.

I had a boss and dear friend
whose daughter had problems with change.
She began telling her toddler,
"It's not bad, it's just different and different is okay." 
I'm not sure,
but I think it likely that
that now middle-age adult
still tells herself that.

So, from here on out,
my new mantra for everyday life will be
"It's part of the adventure!"
"It's not bad, it's just different and different is okay."

It's my new rule.

I know...............

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Silver linings

I live in Texas.

I have a friend who left Galveston on a cruise
just before Harvey.
She is now "a red and white bobber on the ocean".
Her five day cruise is nearing the end of the second week.
Think Gilligan's Island.

She is safe and sound,
warm and dry,
and enjoying an extended vacation.
Silver lining.

Don't get mad.
I am in no way suggesting that Harvey was a blessing
because my friend is getting a longer cruise than she paid for.
In no way!
The devastation is horrendous!
The loss of life,
the injuries,
the property damage and destruction,
all horrendous!


In every horrendous situation
there are silver linings.
I was visiting with one of my bonus daughters the other day.
We were talking about traveling at the drop of a hat.
I mentioned that in the early days of my widowhood
I did that quite a lot.
And I chose to look at it as a silver lining.
I didn't have to consider anyone else in my decision to travel.
So I often went from no plans
to in the car and on the road
in under an hour.

Was I glad my Al was gone so I could do that?
Absolutely not!
But, he was, in fact, gone.
And as I began to try to continue living without him,
I began to look for the silver linings.
That was one.

You know,
nothing happens in our lives,
or in our world,
that has not first passed by the Father!
I don't believe He is happy about all that passes by Him.
But for reasons we will only know in Heaven,
He allows even those things that we -
and He -
would rather have another way.

Why the devastation of Harvey?
I don't know.
Only He knows why He allowed it.
But I do know this.
He controls the wind and the waves.
He calmed the sea when it was for His glory
and the disciples' benefit.
And He allowed devastation
when it was for His glory
and mankind's benefit.
Think the cross....

His glory,
our benefit.
Silver linings.

Look for them.

Jesus got into a boat, and his followers went with him. 
A great storm arose on the lake so that waves covered the boat, but Jesus was sleeping.
 His followers went to him and woke him, saying, 
“Lord, save us! We will drown!”

Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You don’t have enough faith.” 
Then Jesus got up and gave a command to the wind and the waves, 
and it became completely calm.

The men were amazed and said, 
“What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

                                                                                               ~~ Matthew 8:23-27 NCV

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Preambles and caveats

I've been thinking about this for a while.
About two years.
I think I'm ready.

A while back,
someone commented to me that,
while they were glad I am happy,
glad that the anguish of active grief had abated, 
it bothered them a little bit that I appear happier now
than I was with Al.
To be honest, it was not a new concept.
It bothered me too.

I remember the first time I thought that.
I was shocked!
How could I possibly even be happy,
nevermind happier!!!
My husband was dead!
I should never be happy again!

The passing of constant active grief
is a confusing time.
I will tell you that,
even while choosing joy,
as happiness began to appear,
I hid much of it.
It felt like letting him go a bit more if I was happy.
Active grief kept him near.

It's funny.
In the beginning,
after the numbness,
came the anguish
and I frantically searched for anything to make it stop!
It was too much!
More than I could bear!
There were times I literally thought I was dying.
The pain was physical!
It was emotional!
It was mental!
It was all-encompassing!

But all my frantic searching,
all my running away from home,
all my attempts to fill the empty spot,
none of it helped.
The hole could not -
and cannot -
be filled.

And so I stopped.
I became still.
I listened for that still small voice.
I waited on God.
And slowly, slowly,
joy returned.
I began to know peace.
Began to accept.
This was my life.
This was the new me.
And I could live with that.

Then it happened.
Genuine, belly hurting, tears flowing, laughter.
New Year's Eve 2014.
And it felt so good!!!
It wasn't just joy,
it was happy.
And fun.
And I enjoyed it immensely.
For a couple days.
Then the guilt set in.
And the renewed sense of loss.
And God spoke!

"It's okay to be happy again!
I want that for you!
I have a plan to make it happen!"

You see, our joy comes from God.
But happiness, that's different.
That has to do with our circumstances.
And my circumstances hadn't changed,
my Al was still dead.
But I had changed.
Healing had begun to take place.
The scab that had formed had begun to fall off,
leaving an ugly scar,
still tender to touch,
but no longer excrutiatingly painful.
No longer bleeding with every bump.
And I felt guilty for being happy,
even for that moment in time.

But it happened again,
Happiness in the moment.
It began to happen regularly.
And I began to welcome it.
And carefully display it externally.
Because it somehow felt disrespectful.

I often still find myself in that spot,
particularly in my new marriage.
If I am thrilled with my Lanny Love -
which I am always -
and publicly post my delight in this gift of God,
I somehow feel obligated to also mention Al,
even if in a round-about way.
You know,

"I am so blessed to have this wonderful second opportunity!"
"I love the chapter 2 God has given me!"
"I have been blessed to have twice what many never have once!" 

These are true statements!
And sometimes they need to be said!
But sometimes I just want to brag on my Lanny Love
and on my God for giving him to me!
But I feel disloyal if I do.
I worry that people will misunderstand,
think I'm "over" Al,
think I don't miss him.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I worry that my children or grandchildren or sisters-in-love
might come to resent my Lanny Love
if I don't provide the caveat.

The flip side of that is that
I worry that if I say that I love and miss my Al
without saying how much I love my Lanny Love
and how grateful I am to be married to him,
he will be hurt, 
or my bonus children will think I look at him as less than Al,
or that our friends will wonder if there are problems in our marriage
or if, in fact, we were ready to get married at all.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, here I am,
caught between two lives,
between the "before" and the "after".
Because everything is one of the two. 
What's a girl to do?

Well, a scripture came to my mind the other day.

But most of all, my brothers and sisters, 
never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. 
Just say a simple yes or no, 
so that you will not sin and be condemned.
~~ James 5:12 NCV 

Please don't misunderstand!
Most assuredly,
I am taking this out of context!
Neither this Scripture,
nor the similar one found in Matthew 5:37
have a single, solitary thing to do with the subject at hand.
But, as so often it does,
God's Word made me think about this struggle of mine -
for it is a struggle to feel obligated to balance myself
and to protect everyone! -
and made me realize that this feeling of obligation to...
dishonors God who gave me both of my wonderful husbands,
each for the season He determined,
and who expects that I should honor Him with truthfulness at all times
and in all things
and let Him protect the hearts of others!
I should say what I mean!
Without preamble.
Without caveat.
Exactly what I mean.

I am not lying when I add statements.
But I am in an attitude of deceptiveness.
Because when I am feeling love for and missing my Al,
I am loving and missing my Al.
When I am grateful for and expressing my love for my Lanny Love,
I am loving on him!
And while they co-exist,
and always will,
to add the other to my feelings of love, loss, and/or gratitude
that I feel led to share
is actually dishonoring to the one I'm really talking about. 

God has been so good to me!
And it's quite okay for me to brag on just how good!

I can say that I loved being married to Al -
because I did!
And I can say that I love being married to my Lanny Love -
because I do!
And, as was observed,
I am happier now than I was.
But that is not because Al is less than,
that is because God lovingly brought me through very, very dark waters,
and He taught me many things during that near-drowning experience.
I am different now!
I am happier because I have changed!
I recognize the folly of many things that I made important back then.
I recognize the great blessing of a wonderful, godly husband.
I recognize the gifts God has given me!
I have repented and, 
with God's help,
I am a better wife!
I am happier,
because God has refined me!
So no more caveats, 
no more preambles
from me!
I will brag on God
and whichever of my blessings
I am feeling particularly grateful for -
or the loss I am feeling more keenly -
on any given day!
Without guilt!
From this day forward!

For God is good!
He has richly blessed me!