Karma’s a Bitch

Sad_Eye_by_IdaMOYou’ve heard that saying before “karma’s a bitch”, or maybe you’ve even said that exact thing about someone.  Then there is the other saying “what comes around goes around” or “you reap what you sow.”  When someone has wronged us, our natural instinct is usually to think that “they would understand if they had it done to them” or “if they could walk a day in my shoes they would understand.”

One time a person hurt me so deeply I thought I’d never get over the pain.  I did want them to hurt as much as I hurt.  I wanted what happened to me to happen to them.  This was before I found Jesus — and no Jesus was not lost, I was the one who was lost.  Through prayer and reading God’s word I was convicted of my sin of unforgiveness.  Jesus tells us to forgive 70 times 7 someone who has wronged us.  We are told to love our enemies.  To bless our enemies.  This goes against every instinct that our flesh wants to do.  I realized that forgiveness was a choice, not a feeling.  So between me and God I made a choice to forgive.  No I didn’t tell the person I had forgiven them because sometimes I think that that is very demeaning to the person, unless they seek you out to apologize for the hurt they have caused you.  Forgiving them was for me and me alone.  It set me free.

Every time the thought would come into my mind of what this person had done, I had to remind my flesh that I had made a choice to forgive them and would move on.  It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but the more I did it, the easier it did get.

Several years after this deep hurt, this person was equally as hurt by someone else that they loved.  If I hadn’t made the choice to forgive this person maybe I would have relished in the fact that now they were feeling the pain that they had done to me, but I didn’t relish in their pain.  I felt their pain and did not want to see this pain in their eyes.    It did not bring me joy at all.  I was sad for them.

When we make the comment to people “karma’s a bitch”, we are essentially saying that we are hoping and wishing that they will experience what we have experienced so that they will one day feel our pain.  That’s not love.   That is revenge.  This is not what God has called us to do.  The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus also tells us to love our enemies, and to bless our enemies.

This does not feel natural.  This is where the strength of the Lord comes in.  With His strength we can love our enemies.  Phil 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

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Ice Bucket Challenge — ALS

BucketWe are guaranteed at least one thing in this life — and that is death.  There has been an internet sensation going around where people dump a bucket of ice water on their heads to raise awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  It is estimated that two people per 100,000 people die annually of ALS.  Almost 9 million dollars has been raised for the foundation to research ALS.  This is fantastic.  Here is my question:  people die all the time, every day, from something.  How do we decide what cause we pick up?

I have tried to pull the most up-to-date statistics that I could find, but these are the most recent I could find.  The majority of these statistics are from the CDC’s website and other related sites.

Every year:

  • 2.5 million people die from alcohol related deaths worldwide every year– 85,000 of those deaths are in the USA alone;
  • 780,213 die from heart disease;
  • 759,338 from abortion;
  • 576,691 die from cancer;
  • 440,000 die from tobacco;
  • 142,943 die from chronic lower respiratory diseases;
  • 128,932 die from stroke;
  • 126,438 accidental deaths;
  • 98,000 die from medical malpractice;
  • 84,974 die from Alzheimers;
  • 73,831 die from diabetes;
  • 53,823 die from the flu and pneumonia;
  • 45,591 die from nephritis;
  • 41,340 die from drugs (half from illegal drugs and half from prescription drugs);
  • 39,518 die from suicide;
  • 33,783 die from motor vehicle traffic deaths;
  • 16,238 die from homicide (with 11,068 being from firearm homicides);
  • 15,529 die from AIDS;
  • 8,369 die from HIV;
  • 3,331 died as a result of a distracted driver (i.e. texting);
  • 3,000 (approximately) from choking;
  • 1,300 die by domestic violence.

 

I could go on and on, but you get the point.  People are dying every day from one thing or another.  There are also “causes” related to the majority of these above-related deaths as well.  Money raised to bring awareness to each and every one of these causes.  This is all good.  So, how do we decide which “cause” we take up?  What do we support?  Who do we support?  I personally can’t take up every cause.  I personally can’t give to every cause.  I can’t educate myself on every cause.  It is simply not possible for me to do this.

However, the biggest Cause I will take up is having a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is above all of these things.  We have death and dying in this world because sin came into the world, and we live in a fallen world.  Yes, we are guaranteed death in this world, but we have options.  John 3:16 says:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting Life.”

I can’t guarantee you that your life will become a utopia (heaven on earth) sort of life when you give your life to Christ, but I can guarantee you that you will live with Him forever in heaven should you choose to give your life to Christ.   I can guarantee you that with Him, He will give you wisdom, He will be your Provider, He will be your Healer, He will be your Protector.  Does this mean nothing bad will ever happen to me again?  Nope.  It means that He will be with you during the bad, and during the good.  Will I see miracles?  Yes.  Every day.  If you look at creation, that is a miracle.  How everything works so intrinsically together, so perfectly created, so that when we inhale the air that we breathe we are not killed in an instant.  The water we drink is perfectly matched to our bodies to provide what it needs.

Life is a miracle.  Life is a gift.  Choose this day Whom you will serve.

Empty Nest

I have an empty nest.  What does that mean?  It means that my daughter is off at college, living, working and doing life.  When we are blessed with these sweet bundles at birth, you begin thinking about and dreading that day when they head out on their own.  Of course, this is the ultimate goal — for them to move out and become independent, productive members of society.  Teaching them independence.  Teaching them morals.  Teaching them how to care for themselves.  All the while you are raising them, you are preparing them for this moment.

Her senior year I cried often.  Every single moment of that year reminded me that this time in my life was coming to the end of its chapter.  A new chapter was approaching.  Even a new book was looming on the horizon.  Her book.  The start of her life as an adult.

When she was born I was so in love.  I had never known love like this until her.  Ever.  I had never felt these feelings before.  I was scared, excited, but mostly in love.  When I wasn’t with her, I thought about her all the time.  I’d be at work and couldn’t wait to come home so I could see that sweet, precious face light up.  To hold her in my arms.  To feel her snuggle against me as I would rock her to sleep before bed.  Nursing her.  Caring for her.  Making sure everything in her “world” was safe for her.  My world revolved around her.

I wanted to cherish each and every single moment of her life.  From the moment she was born, when she would be crying at night and I couldn’t console her, to her first laugh, her first smile, the first time she took a step, pulled herself up, rolled over.  The list was endless of firsts and nexts.  I cherish every, single moment of her life.  I wanted to because I’d heard how fast it goes.  It is true.  It goes too fast.  I remember people telling me “oh I bet you can’t wait until she walks/talks/goes to school” etc.  I remember telling them I CAN wait.  I want to enjoy every single, solitary moment of her.

I remember when she started her “terrible twos” at 18 months old.  Always an overachiever!  She didn’t come out of those “terrible twos” until she hit four years old.  I remember being exhausted at being consistent with her.  Oh, it would be so easy to just give in and let her have her way all the time.  If I had done that, she would have been a spoiled, rotten brat.  She was never spoiled or rotten — ever.  She was very strong-willed.  I’m glad for that.  She doesn’t take any guff from anyone!

People always gave us compliments about how well behaved she would be while in their care.  That made me happy.  When she would get home, however, sometimes there would be tantrums and fits and crying.  I think she would hold it all together with others, and then get home and let loose!  I often tell parents this, if your child behaves in public and with others — then that’s a good thing.  When they let loose at home, allow them that because this is where they feel safe to let it go.  Obviously, they need to know that this behavior all the time is not appropriate, but being forced to be “good” all the time, when even as adults we have bad days and bad moments.  When this would happen we would tell her she could go to her room and get it out, and when she was done she was welcome to come back out and join us.  This gave her the freedom to let loose and get it out, and know that we would still be there for her and love her just the same once she was done.

She is at college now.  Letting go is hard.  At first I feared for her safety, her well being, etc.  The Lord has helped me through that though.  He loves her MORE than I do.  I pray for her protection every day.  I pray for Him to give her wisdom every day.  I pray for her to have a good life, a successful life.  I want her to have so much more than I ever had — joy, peace, lots of love.

Adjusting to this empty nest is not easy.  I have good days.  I have bad days.  I miss her.  There have been times when I’ve thought about adopting a baby, or being a foster parent, but I realized I can’t do that.  Health reasons prevent me from moving forward with that.  When I really asked myself was it that I wanted another child?  No.  I just wanted to go back and do it all again with her.  Cherish each and every moment.

I’m starting a new chapter in my life.  In life when I’m reading a really good book I always get sad when that book comes to an end.  I’ve even cried when it was such a good book that I just wanted it to keep going, but life changes, life moves forward, and now I’m going into this new chapter that is completely unknown to me.   She put in a card to me that she is looking forward to this new relationship where we go from a parent/child relationship to friends.   I like that.

 

Depression

bestillandknowBut for the grace of God, there go I.  Depression seems to be the “hot topic” of conversation these days, and I am glad for that.  I am not glad for the reason for the attention to depression, but I am glad that people are becoming more aware that it is a real thing.  I have struggled with depression on and off since I was 12 years old.  At the age of about 20-21 years old, I asked a friend if they ever thought about suicide.  They told me that they never had.  I told them I thought about it every day.  It was “normal” for me to think about killing myself every day.  How would I do it?  What would it do to my family and friends if I did?  Would anyone miss me?  Would anyone care?  I had this conversation with this friend after I had spent the evening staring at a gun contemplating using it on myself.  I praise God that I did not do it.  What stopped me?  First and foremost, God, but second, my Mom had told me as a kid that I would go to hell if I ever killed myself.  As an adult, I don’t believe this thinking to be true, but I am so thankful she told me that because it kept me from doing it.  It kept me from making a decision that would have taken me out of this world.

I would never have met my daughter.  I would never have gotten to watch her grow into a beautiful young woman.  I would have missed all of that.

That wasn’t the last time I thought about suicide.  I have been on and off of medication since the age of 19 to help with my depression.  I went off of my anti-depressants about a year ago because I felt like they weren’t  working.  I figured that my depression was circumstantial.  I thought it would pass.

In the last year I have dealt with all of our kids moving out and moving on with their lives, the loss of my husband’s job, and his unemployment.  Honestly, I was amazed at how well I felt, and how well I felt I was handling these situations.  I knew it had to be the Lord giving me the sense of peace that only He can provide.  While my husband was unemployed I ended up being able to go back to work.  I was very excited about that because it was for a boss I had worked for on and off for the last 13 years.  It was close to home.  It paid well, and it was going to be part-time.  I felt like I was running on all cylinders again.  A friendship that I had had difficulties felt like it had healed (or was healing), and that made me happy.  I could see God’s hand everywhere, and felt hopeful about my life for the first time in a long time.   Although I did have moments where I felt the depression lingering, I was overall feeling better and hopeful.

Then on May 24, 2014, my boss (and friend) was tragically killed in a plane crash.   He was flying a plane that he had built and they believe he had a heart attack during take-off.  I went straight into denial.  I couldn’t believe he was gone.  I began to experience chest pain and the grief was overwhelming.  I couldn’t stop crying.  All of this is normal when there is grief involved, so I didn’t get concerned – yet.   I went to work that Monday following his crash, and had the daunting task of calling clients and breaking the news to them.  It was more difficult than I ever thought it would be.  I continued to work for that week, and then (obviously) the job that I loved was over.  The friend and best boss I’d ever had was gone.  His wife was now a widow.  His children had no more father.  Everything that I was excited about, was over.   The “things” that I felt were bringing me hope were now gone.

Now what?  I threw myself into projects around the house.  I knew eventually I would go back to work somewhere for someone so I wanted to take advantage of the time that I had to get some things done.  I was feeling pretty good physically, so why not?  Well, my body had other plans in mind.  I have CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia, and stress can trigger a flare up.  Turns out all the above stresses triggered me into a flare up like I hadn’t had in a long time.  I ran a fever for over 2 weeks, had extreme kidney, lung and chest pain for quite some time, and depression came in and set up camp.  I did two courses of prednisone treatments that helped a little bit, but it seems that my get up and go — got up and went.  The doctor thought that the prednisone might even help my depression, which it did a couple of days.  Then it came back like an unwelcome friend.

The only way I can explain a flare-up to someone who does not know is that it is much like having the flu, except there seems to be no end in sight.  I felt so run down, sick, nauseated, headache, body pain, etc. so I spent/spend a lot of time either in my chair next to the window, or in bed.  I prefer the window so I can at least see life.  This is when I noticed that I have a drug dealer in my neighborhood, who also appeared to be running stolen property.  He caught me taking pictures of him one day, and then another day the sheriff made a huge appearance outside his house.  I’m sure Thief knew who had tipped them off.  He, his family, his kids, his “friends” began to harass me.  Hollering at me whenever  I would leave the house, hollering at me when I would return.  I began to get even more fearful knowing everything that was going on over there.

I have had a lot of contributing factors that have led to this current depression.  Bad things people have said to me over the years will start going through my head — i.e. “you probably don’t really struggle with depression because the percentage of people who REALLY do is quite small.”  Yes, that runs through my head as I’m struggling because then I think “you’re not really depressed.”  I also think to myself that I’m just attention seeking.  I’m over-exaggerating.  I have also had well intentioned friends say “comforting” words to me such as “are you praying?” “Are you praying HARD enough?”  “Have you fasted?”  “You must have a demon.”  Um, thanks.

This causes me to go further into myself because obviously sharing does not help.  So I will suffer in silence.  Depression is such an isolating illness — yes, mental illness.  There.  I said it.  I am thankful for the friends that still stick with me through it all.  I know it can be hard to be friends with me because sometimes I am not fun to be around, but God has blessed me with one friend who doesn’t care if I’m in a bad mood, if I’m depressed, is happy when I’m happy, cries with me when I cry, and just plain lives life with me.

What do you do for your friend who is depressed?  Just be there for them.  Check in with them.  Call them.  Text them.  Email them.  It doesn’t have to be every day — or even every other day.  And please if you have nothing nice to comment, don’t comment at all.  If you’re going to comment and give me your “cure all” — save it.  Finally, while it is a passing thought on occasion (once in a great while) I have gotten to a place where I know things will eventually get better, and I know I would not ever commit suicide.  People say “never say never” — but I couldn’t do that to my daughter.  I’ve talked to friends who’s parent has done that, and have seen the devastation it leaves behind.  I don’t ever want to cause that kind of pain.  I know how to ask for help from my doctor and from counselors these days, and I’m not afraid to do that.  I am also not afraid to call the crisis line, and have done so on several occasions.  And that is okay.

Being a Writer

beautiful sceneryAs long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a writer.  I remember being at least 8 or 9 years old, old enough to know how to write, and writing these funny, silly poems about a pig dancing a jig, smoking a cig.  I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember.  I even used to love to read the dictionary.  That is how big of a geek I was.

My Mom used to take us to the local library, and I absolutely LOVED those outings.  She would go upstairs to the “adult” section, and the downstairs was for the kids.  There were SO many books.  Books like The Diary of Anne Frank, The Boxcar Children, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  These all fed my imagination and I could lose myself into these books, and would become part of the story.  I would lose myself for as long as possible in books.  I read all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books I could get my hands on.  I loved the thought of being a spy, spying, and solving mysteries as a child.

I remember the day I decided I was going to try to write.  It was a pathetic attempt, but it was my first try (other than the ‘pig dancing a jig and smoking a cig’ poems).  I remember it started out something like:  “It was a dark and stormy night.”  I went on to write more to that story, and even had drawn a picture to go with it.   I ended up sharing it with someone I loved, and they told me it was not good.  I’m sure they meant well by telling me it wasn’t good, but it changed how I viewed writing from that point forward.  All through high school I struggled with writing anything — any papers I had to write were always sent back to me with huge, angry red marks on them.  I was fearful of writing.  I would choke with fear each time I had to write anything, and forget about it if I had to do an oral presentation.

It wasn’t until I got into my second year of college that I ended up with a teacher (Business English), who finally made the language of English “click” for me.  Up until this point I struggled.  Where do I put a comma?  Where do I put a colon?  Where do I put a semi-colon?  I put commas everywhere.  This class and this teacher made a huge impact in my life.  I don’t remember her name, but I will forever remember her class.  I began to enjoy writing again.

It was a good thing that I began to enjoy it again because my profession required it.  I became a legal assistant to start with, and worked my way up to being a paralegal.  I did that for 24 years.  My last boss was the best teacher I had though, and through his nurturing and “patience” I was able to learn to write much better.  I feel a bit rusty these days due to the fact that I haven’t used this skill for a while, but I have a feeling I could get it back.

So my thoughts as I am writing this post is that I have a desire to write.  God put that desire in me as a wee child, so why wouldn’t I try to nurture that?  I don’t know where this journey will lead me, or if it will even lead me anywhere.  I am willing to try.  I turn 50 years old in five years and I would like to accomplish something that I have desired to do for many years.  So here goes nothing!