Sunday, August 8, 2010

What God wants me to learn...

Life has been a series of ups and downs over the past two years.  Those who know me, know the struggles I have been through.  While I won't go into detail about each one (I don't want to get depressed!) I can say that I started to wonder if there was some sort of a giant target on my forehead, indicating a landing zone for all of the cosmic crap in the universe!

At the end of my devotions today, the author posed some insightful questions:  "Is God trying to get your attention through some circumstances in your life? Is He trying to persuade you to get back in step with Him? (Gal. 5:25)." 

His advice?  "We should resist the urge to harden our hearts. But let’s instead submit to God (James 4:6-8) and ask Him what spiritual lessons He wants us to learn." 

Okay.  I can do that.  I haven't hardened my heart to God, despite the circumstances that have befallen me, but I need to do more.  I need to reflect on what He is trying to teach me. 

Prior to what I shall refer to as the "downward spiral", I had a hard time trusting people.  I would let them get just so close and that was it. My rationale?  If you never let people in, they can't hurt you. I have learned that lesson over the course of my life.  Since hurting sucks, it is just easier to keep one's distance. In my mind, it makes total sense, but whenever I explain it, either verbally or in a blog, it sounds absolutely ridiculous.  We need people.  I need to learn to trust others and let them get close to me. 

Along with trusting others is the need to let others help me in my time of need, and to learn to ask for help.  These are things that I have difficulty doing.  I am the one who does the helping and the giving.  I seek others out and attend to their needs.  I am not used to being on the receiving end of help.  I feel guilty and weak when I have to lean on others, but God is trying to tell me that I need to be better about that.

Have I given everything over to God?  I doubt it. There are days when I think I have, but then I realize that I am still trying to hang on to some semblance of control.  Why do I fight Him?  Honestly.  Who knows my circumstances better than He does?  Who knows where I have been and where I am going?  Not even I can control the future, yet I try to control my daily circumstances, going through the motions of giving up control to God.  Obviously He's not fooled.  He's probably shaking His head, wondering when I will ever get it right.  I wonder the same thing.

I am getting better about asking for help and letting people get close to me.  On one hand, it's comforting to share my pain and sorrow with others, but on the other hand, I feel weak, stupid and guilty, always bringing up the negative things in my life.  Somehow I feel if I were just stronger, or prayed harder, or were just anything but what I am that things would be different.  I am truly trying to learn, though.  I want to take my life and hand it over to God.  I just keep getting in my own way.  I guess I still have a ways to go before the lesson sinks in.  If anyone knows a less painful way to learn this lesson, please let me know.  Until then, I will just keep seeking God, asking questions, and praying for His Grace and strength. 

Peace to you. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die." ~Martin Luther

A few years I had a job interview for the position that I now hold: High School History Teacher. The Principal asked me the final question, which was completely unexpected. He asked me to compare myself to any literary character, and explain the connection. Literary character? Me? But, I teach History. I had to think fast. Then, it came to me. Atticus Finch. For those of you who remember all those novels you had to read in high school, his name will be very familiar. For those of you who don't remember, Atticus is one of the main characters in the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird". He plays the role of single father to two young children, and the city's young attorney, who is willing to fight for justice, regardless of the consequences. He is a determined, even stubborn man, who demands that right prevail, even if others feel that his position is futile, ignorant, or just plain wrong. Atticus Finch. They don't make people like that anymore....or do they? Turns out there is a jury in Spokane, Washington full of people with conviction like that of Atticus Finch.

Just yesterday, a verdict was handed down in a criminal court here in Spokane, Washington. I took particular interest in this case because it involved the young man who murdered a former student of mine. Nearly two and a half years ago, Sarah Clark, a kind, spirited, fun-loving senior in high school was brutally murdered by Justin Crenshaw. Justin had recently moved to the Spokane area to re-connect with a long-lost sister who happened to be one of Sarah's best friends. While we will never know the exact reason that Justin so viciously turned on Sarah and Tanner (another young man murdered at the scene that night), we know that two shining lights were forever extinguished at the hands of a disturbed individual.

I have watched the news for any information regarding this case and this young man since the day it happened. For every excuse that delayed the trial and every defense that was offered, I thought only of justice. I wanted justice for Sarah and Tanner. I wanted justice for the families who lost their children. I wanted justice for Justin so that he could somehow taste and comprehend the pain he caused and to agonize each day over the consequences of his actions.

Justin's trial is over. He was found guilty of the two murders. The jury did the right thing. It seems that they wanted justice as much as the rest of us did. His only possible sentence will be life in prison without the possibility of parole. At last, there is some justice, I guess. Despite the fact that I knew he would be found guilty, though, I can't help but feel a sense of frustration and emptiness. He's guilty. The world knows that and he will be punished for it, but Sarah and Tanner are still dead. They will never experience life. Justin robbed them of that. It is so unfair. I know that in the end, God will be the final judge. He will dole out eternal justice for this young man. That is consolation that seems far away at best.

I hope that Justin's lifetime in prison will provide him with the opportunity to realize the damage he's caused. Justice will come when he falls to his knees, his soul full of guilt, when the realization of the consequences of his actions comes over him. That is my prayer. I pray that God will convict him of his sins and let him feel the depth of the pain that he has caused to so many people who were close to Sarah, Tanner and their families. Through that guilt, perhaps some small measure of justice can be done.

Rest in peace and paradise, Sarah and Tanner. You will always be missed and never be forgotten .

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life's tough

Life is tough. I never thought it would be easy, but sometimes I wonder just how much God thinks I can handle.

Being married is tough. I try to make him happy, but it seems that instead of seeing things from my perspective, he just sees me as a selfish, negative, complaining woman. In short, I am always doing things wrong. There's a difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone. I wonder which one he feels for me.

Teenagers are tough. There is no instruction manual, and no matter how I deal with her, it seems I am wrong. It's even harder when the child you love seems to be doing her best at trying to drive a wedge between the two people who are supposed to love and protect her.

Being a parent is tough. It's difficult to spread the love and attention around evenly. Even if I do my best to make sure each child has what they need, inevitably, someone gets their feelings hurt, and, fairly or not, the blame falls squarely on my shoulders.

The weight of the world is tough. That's what my life feels like I have all the weight and responsibility of everyone in my family on me, and that no matter how much I do, or how hard I try, it will never be enough. No one will ever be happy, and it is all my fault.

What can I do when everything I do is wrong? It's easiest to retreat inside myself, but that's's selfish and not something a good mother should do. I can talk to my family, but regardless of my comments, I am perceived as a complainer, or negative, or just plain wrong. I can yell and scream, and then be labeled a bitch...wrong again.

I pray for light in the darkness. I pray for peace in what has turned into a stressful environment. I pray for grace to see God's will in my life despite all the crap that keeps getting flung at me when I come home each day.

I pray that I will be strong enough to deal with whatever outcome is in store for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cooking from scratch

I recently discovered two HUGE zucchini on the plant in my garden. My husband didn't pick any while I was out of town for a week, so these two just grew like mad! They must weigh at least 5-7 pounds a piece.

I grated one and froze the zucchini for future loaves of zucchini bread, vegetable soup and to give to friends for their recipes. I know I will appreciate my efforts especially once winter has set in for good.

I cut the other in half, and then cut those halves lengthwise. I combined the scoooped-out zucchini with sausage, tomato sauce, garlic, cheese, and a brown rice/barley mixture from Trader Joe's. They look amazingly good. Can't wait to try them when they come out of the oven.

I don't know what it is about cooking hearty meals from scratch (especially with ingredients I grew in my own garden), but it's like I am nourishing my family from the inside out. I make my own jam with berries I grow and pick. I made my own fruit leather this year, and will can peaches in a few weeks. After that, it is my legendary homemade applesauce. Sometimes I wonder if I should go into business and start selling my wares!! There is just no substitute for quality food. Store-bought is great....convienent and easy, but the homemade stuff just tastes better.

Gotta go....dinner is ready~ Yum.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Changing Friendships

What happens when friends change, grow apart, and have commitments that continue getting in the way of that friendship? Do you set aside special friend time? Move on? Accept that your position within the friendship dynamic has changed? Are there other options?

I am not the kind of person who has long-lasting friendships. The friends I let in my life are few and far between. They are dedicated, "get" me, and we are there for each other whenever.

It is painful to realize that your position in the life of one of your best friends has been relegated to the very bottom. It wasn't an intentional just happened because life got in the way. There were elderly parents who suddenly needed the care and constant attention of their only daughter. There was the move that, even though it was only a mile, put an almost insurmountable distance between us. Add a grown daughter returning to the nest, a son who joined the military, got married and had the friend's first grandchild, and suddenly, even the dog has a higher ranking than I do.

I used to drop in, completely unannounced and hang out for hours. Now, I don't feel comfortable doing that unless I call first. I used to feel like part of the family. Now, I feel like a guest. It's uncomfortable for sure. In short, I used to matter. Now, I am merely an acquaintance. Ugh.

That in and of itself would be fine if it weren't for the fact that I used to be her best friend. I was the only one she knew when she first moved to town. We shared meals, went to church together, spent summer days hiking, and even camped together with our families. She brought out the very best in me. Just when I was starting to trust being that close with someone, I find myself suddenly on the outside looking in. It hurts.

So, I face the dilemma of a changing friendship. Do I continue to try to worm my way into her life, even though it feels as though she doesn't need me anymore? Do I cherish what we had and accept the fact that I no longer matter? Do I ignore her completely so I don't have to feel the rejection? The bigger question is: How do I feel better again?

Maybe changing friendships are inevitable. Maybe not. What is inevitable is that change is never easy.