Fresh Starts

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I wanted to say that I am so grateful for the responses from friends. I am thankful that I could share part of my story, so that others can know that they aren’t alone.

Anyhow… There have been some tough times with Mom and Dad in the past few weeks and a few amazingly hopeful signs. I seriously believe that God is doing some hard work on everyone in our family. Who knows, maybe through some tough times there can be some healing. I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

In the frozen north, we aren’t so frozen anymore. 70 degrees and sunny! We worked all day yesterday to reorganize the garage, get E’s big boy room ready and generally get our act together. This weekend we’re having 5 trucks of dirt delivered so we can finally get some grass growing. This will be a great summer once all the hard work is over. Right?

At my last checkup we heard that Charlie Brown is doing well. My Dr. says “he’s kind of on the big side” but what else is new? We’ve been talking with E more about babies. I asked him, “E, what do we do when a baby cries?” His answer? “Hug and kiss them.” It could be worse, right? We’ll see what he really does, but it’s pretty sweet for now.

I gave my official resignation to Zion the week before Mother’s Day. I’ll be resigning when the baby comes in September, and staying home with my boys. It feels good, but I’m also really surprised at how much I’m questioning my effectiveness in ministry over the past 8 years. There are groups meeting to decide what to do next, and I’m working overtime to not take their comments personally- but WOW- it’s hard. It will be an interesting transition, but I am so certain this is what I should be doing.

So we’ll see what God has planned for our next big adventure…

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Enough is Enough

This blog has been a long time coming. It’s the result of several years of denial, a few years of excuses, a lot of pain, and finally… enough is enough.

My mom is an alcoholic.

For a long time I didn’t really want to admit it. I didn’t want people to think I came from one of “those” kinds of families. I wanted to protect her reputation. I probably wanted to protect my own.

It started just as I was leaving high school, as far as I know. It’s become more consuming as the years have gone on. She is no longer the woman I knew as a child. I fear that woman is lost. It’s difficult to imagine having her back. So many years of ranting, raving, slurred words, hurtful remarks, lies, and terrible criticisms… I am not sure that woman even exists anymore.

I know I’m supposed to be hopeful. I know that I’m supposed to believe that she can change; that she can get out from under the crushing weight of this addiction. But there is barely a spark left of hope. My heart is broken at the loss of my mom. It’s like there’s this terrible stunt double as her replacement. A mean, angry, bitter version of her. It’s the plot of a  bad science-fiction movie.

The part that is the most difficult is that there’s nothing I can do. It looks like there’s nothing anyone can do. We can’t save her. We can’t change her. We have to wait and pray that someday she’ll be ready for recovery. It has broken my heart to see what my dad has gone through. I know that he’s enabled her. He rescues her all the time. But what really gets to me is that he is just as consumed by her addiction as she is.

Alcoholism is eating my parents alive.

I always say that if I could banish the world of anything it would be mental illness. It is so crushing, so all-consuming, so powerful… and yet so often silent. Mental illness is enrobed in shame, guilt, and secrets. My mother suffered for years, struggling with depression, barely able to hold it together… until she couldn’t any longer. Her silence turned into hidden bottles, lies, and broken relationships.

I love my mom. I want her back. I want her to face her demons, fight for her life, and live to see her grandchildren grow. Time will tell.

It was time to tell this story. At least part of it. Time to stop running from the shame and guilt. Time to stop pretending that everything is okay. I suppose just sharing the story can fan the flame of hope. Hope for change. Hope for new life. This is the Easter season, after all. God has a plan and I pray that it includes a transformation for my mom… for our family.

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So much planning

It seems like the theme of life has been planning lately. Planning for a new baby. Planning at work. Planning to potty train (SCARY). Planning meals. Budget planning.

Eeeesh.

It sounds exhausting but I secretly love to plan. Planning provides me the opportunity to sit down, get creative and solve a problem. Even if that problem is only solved on paper I still get that incredible sense of accomplishment. It’s almost an addiction. Whenever life feels out of control, I can take some little piece of it and create this plan of attack that will seemingly make life more manageable for me.

And there it is. The real issue. Planning is my drug that helps me feel like I am really in control of my life. The fact of the matter is… I am so not in control. But when I can sit down and work through a brilliant, masterfully created plan… I feel like I can do anything. I know it sounds really lame and geeky, but it’s who I am.

I am learning a little more everyday that this might not be the best way to live. This is what happens after I create the PERFECT plan…  something always changes. Always. Always. Always.

Just when I think that I have everything in life figured out. I’ve balanced our budget. I’ve figured out how to stop my two-year-old’s tantrums, I’ve got 15 meals in my freezer and only spent $200 on groceries this month; I got a great deal on home repairs, I even had some great meetings at work to plan ministry for the next three months…

And then the rug comes right out from under my feet. Something changes. It’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s something difficult and catastrophic, sometimes it’s a change that is good… but it means that my plans have to change. God is working hard to teach me yet another lesson. And for me, God’s lesson is almost always the same:

My plans are better than your plans.

Let me say it again… My plans are better than your plans.

No, really… My plans are better than your plans.

Tia, get over yourself. My plans are better than your plans.

 

Okay, okay, okay. I get it. I hope. At least I’m trying to get it. Trying to trust. Getting there.

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Th… Thi… Thirty.

It’s true. I turned THIRTY on Saturday.
Most of my friends are older than me by several years, so they sort of laugh at me when I say it. They don’t look at me with darkened eyes and furrowed brows as if my life were over. And really… I don’t feel that way. There are songs and novels and hilarious blogs written all about how thirty is “old”. REALLY?!
I feel like I am finally a grown-up. I mean, MAYBE now people will take me seriously. Right? Ha.. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I feel like I am just now feeling really comfortable in my own skin. I am finally feeling like I might have things to offer. That I might have skills and talents that are uniquely mine. I am just getting the hang of this marriage thing. And don’t get me started on motherhood… I have already forgotten what to do with a newborn and now I’m going to have another. Sheesh.

I am just getting started in this world. I have no idea what I’ve been doing since high school, but I am certain it has something to do with where I am now. And now, I am in a good place. I’ve had many tough lessons… some learned and some regretfully ignored. God is still teaching and leading me in ways that I never imagined.

Because I love to write lists and because this is my blog…

Lessons I’ve Learned that Got Me to THIRTY:

– It’s okay to just be who you are.

– It’s also okay to work on who you are.

– Relationships are really hard if you want to do them right.

– I am not 15 years old anymore… I can stand up for what I really think.

– God’s plans are, in fact, better than my plans.

– Taking care of my family gives me a great sense of pride.

– If I could cure one thing in this broken world it would be mental illness.

– Your history is part of you… for better or worse… but it doesn’t make you who you are.

 

Thirty feels pretty good. A whole new beginning to a chapter of my life that I’ve been looking forward to. I want to soak it in. I am hoping I have more lessons to learn and more wisdom to bring into this next decade.

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Time to Grow Up…

A couple of years ago I read a book by the very hilarious and snarky, Jen Lancaster. The book was called, “Such a Pretty Fat” and it chronicled the author’s journey through dieting, personal trainers, and getting healthy. At the end of the book she summarizes the things she’s learned and says– It was time for me to grow the hell up and realize that I can’t do whatever I want, eat whatever I want and still be healthy.

I’m there. It’s time for me to grow up. I’ve lived my whole life without really making the connections between my actions and the results. I’ve somehow tricked myself into believing that some people are just thin & healthy, and others… well… aren’t. It must be in my DNA. Right?

That’s just a big lie I’ve been telling myself my whole life. The things I put into my body and the things I do (or don’t do) with my body are directly tied to what I look and feel like. I know– you are probably thinking– DUH! We learned that in like 2nd grade health class.  Well, I learned it to. I have lots of  head knowledge about nutrition, exercise and general wellness. I have friends who are great examples of wellness. I just keep making excuses for myself, as if I were the exception to the rule. And OBVIOUSLY… I’m not.

I’ve always known the right answers. I know what it takes to maintain a healthy weight… but I’ve never actually put things into practice. I’m sure I’ve thought that I was just too far beyond repair. I’m no longer willing to buy into that. I’ve got to take steps toward a healthy life– that work for me. I’m not going to subscribe to another program or count every crumb that I eat. I am not going to trade points just so that I can cheat and go back to my old ways.

I am actually going to employ my own common sense. I have the knowledge… I just need to stop playing the game and change my attitude. I need to stop the game of justifying, bending rules, and cheating a system. I am finding that changing attitude is a lot harder than I thought. For me, it’s even harder than changing behavior. I can change my behavior… for a while… but since my attitude is still that of a 9-year-old who just wants ONE MORE COOKIE, it never sticks.

It’s time to grow up. It’s time to take responsibility. It’s time to invest in my own health & wellness. So… my first steps?

1. I joined an online gym. I actually enjoy the workouts (gasp!) and it’s something that fits into my life.

2. I am eating waaaay more fruits and veggies. Trying to get in 8-10 servings a day. I am not there yet, but on my way.

3. Trying to eliminate sugar. This might prove to be difficult. I am an addict.

4. Keeping up on my spiritual life. I want to be a better steward of this life and body that God has given me. I don’t want to lose sight of that.

We’ll see what else happens as this new chapter unfolds.

Also… for all of you who don’t know… baby #2 is expected to arrive September 3rd! Great motivation!

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Fall in the Banks

I inadvertently haven’t posted all summer. Sorry about that. It feels like I was on an express train that is now just dropping me off.

Elliot turned 2. It’s fall in Fairbanks. Whenever you live in a place with a long winter… Fall can be a season of mixed emotions. A friend and I were chatting about this the other day. For the past several years we spend the entire season of Fall (which is rather short here) grieving that Summer is over. But we LOVE Fall. I remember the excitement of going back to school. The changing of leaves. Cooler,but not-too-cold,  temperatures. In the Midwest we’d always go apple picking. In honor of that I made apple butter yesterday. 12 hours of spiced apples simmering. That get’s you ready for Fall. Yum yum. Today I’m going to bake bread. We’re getting our yard cleaned up and actually enjoying this ritual to prepare for winter. My plan is to savor this Fall. Mulled wine. Walks with the boys. Hot cider. More baking. More canning. Warm sweaters.

So instead of dreading the oncoming months of cold and darkness… I am going to enjoy the transition.

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Do you remember?

Do you remember your high school graduation?

I just went to a high school graduation for the class of 2010 last night. Seeing the laughter, the anticipation, and the tears brought me back to my own high school graduation.
It was the first week in June. It was hot. It was Saturday morning. I wore blue, purple and black striped sandals (what was I thinking?). My red graduation gown was made of polyester. My hair was too short to wear a cap and still look adorable.

I remember feeling nostalgic for the previous four years. As we drove to the school that morning, I played through my high school years in my head. I though of the friendships I had made. I thought of the ways I had grown. I even thought about the things I learned and the teachers who impacted my life.

The ceremony was not quite as rowdy as the one I attended last night. It was a baccalaureate service and there was this overwhelming feeling of reverence. We were thanking God for leading us through this journey. The cheering was held for the end. During the service… we waited. I remember looking at kids to my left and right. We were never really friends, but for that moment, we were connected. We had something to celebrate and be proud of together.

Afterward I hugged and cried and laughed with people I had hardly shared a whole sentence with in the past four years. But that didn’t matter anymore. We weren’t part of this high school social system anymore. We could shed the roles that we played for the past four years and just start over. It was freeing and terrifying.

My family and I got in the car and started to drive away from the building where I’d met my best friends, where I met my first boyfriend, where I’d discovered a few things that I was really good at, and where I’d been mentored by adults who showed me Jesus every day. On the radio in the car, Sarah Mclachlan sang “I Will Remember You”. How cliche is that? Of course, my eyes welled with tears, as we drove away.

On this day, 11 years later, I would like to have that same excited anticipation about life. I want to be open, ready, and willing to follow wherever God is leading me next. I want to see the rest of my life as pure possibility.

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