Category Archives: Faith

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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Content

Are you content? I think there are some people who just have more contented personalities. I, however, am not one of those people. I know that we all at some time or another feel like we want something more or better. I’ve always thought of myself as a person who dreams big dreams– but I’m seeing how that can sort of get in my way.

It’s infuriating. I have a great life! I really do. I have more good things in my life than bad things. But those few “bad” things become the things I obsess over.

BUT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT ALL THE AWESOME STUFF?

How I live in America and my husband and I both have jobs? How we live in a highly efficient home that stays warm in Alaska? How I have friends who encourage me and make me laugh? How I am typing this entry on my sweet new tiny computer? How I made homemade pretzels, pizza dough, and cinnamon rolls (SUCCESSFULLY) this week? How I’m excited because my sister is getting married this summer and I get to be a part of that?

But why is it that the one crappy email that I got this week is sticking with me? Why am I unhappy that we haven’t put up a fence in the back yard? Why (WHY?!) am I wanting a new puppy? Why do I look at how much cheaper houses are in the rest of the country?

It’s a part of me. I’ve always been that way. I’m trying hard to step outside of my childish “BUT I WAAAAAAAANT IT” and really survey the good stuff. Because it’s there. And there’s lots of it.

And I hate knowing that I’ve been ungrateful. I have always been a slacker when it comes to Thank You’s. It’s not that I am not grateful to the person who has given me something. I am just forgetful. I remember relatives hassling my mom if I would forget to send a thank you note. That was a terrible feeling. Then I would always send the card after they mentioned it and it seemed like it meant less. It was forced.

My hope is that I can be more proactive about giving thanks to God for the good stuff in my life. I don’t want it to wait until heaven when we sit down and talk about my life and he reminds me of all the great stuff and I say, “Oh yeah, I remember that! Thanks for that. And that. Oh, and that…” I want to give the note right away, because I know how awesome those gifts are. Because I am so thankful.

Because I can’t not be grateful.

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Achy Heart

My heart is achy this morning.

Elliot decided to sleep in a bit and I’ve had a few extra minutes to catch up on news from Haiti. Wow. I’ve never felt quite this privledged before. I’m sitting at my computer, drinking hot coffee and eating peanut butter toast. My house is in tact and warm (even at -18 degree weather). I’m not worried about the safety of my family or where our next meal will come from.

I’ve been reading about the BRESMA orphanage. Here, here and here. I have a few friends from college who are connected with mission work in Haiti… they also spend time in orphanages. Those places had so few resources before the earth shook their world apart… I can’t really imagine what life is like for them now.

So I’m praying for those kids and their caregivers. I’m also going to give whatever we can.

More to come…

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Thought of the Day

Why is it that there are people who feel the need to share strange and inappropriate bits of their lives with you?

I’m not talking about the friend who unloads a struggle or frustration to you. That’s good stuff. I love sharing life with friends, the good stuff and the sucky stuff. I’m talking about the random cashier at the grocery store that tells you about her boyfriend in prison, or the post office worker who wonders with you if she should get blond highlights in her hair or not.

I have been in several situations recently where complete strangers share strange bits of their lives with me. Usually I smile politely, feigning some shred of concern for their situation and then I walk away, wondering why people are so crazy.

But I keep thinking about it. WHY? Why are there so many people who just have inappropriate boundaries when it comes to sharing personal information?  Why are they so eager to unload their outlandish life events on total strangers?

I’ve started to change my thinking.

Could it be possible that these people are living in a world where they don’t have a single person to really listen to them? Could it be possible that they don’t have good friends to share life with? Are their souls so thirsty for authentic relationships that they will soak up any opportunity to interact  with anyone who will make eye contact?

I might be exaggerating, but I wonder. Are we increasingly surrounded by masses of lonely people? I sometimes find myself part of this mass. Surrounded by people, friends, community… and yet… surprisingly alone. Not really sharing the good (or sucky) stuff of life with anyone. Just skating along.

Fortunately there are people who dig into the mess and sometimes even sit in the mess with me. To them I say… thank you. Thanks for spending the time in the trenches and on the mountaintops with me– and everywhere in between.

I pray that I will have eyes to see the loneliness in the crowd and the courage to dig into the mess when I’m needed.

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Reallocation of Resources

Lately we’ve been working on really taking a look at the resources that we have and making the very best of them (or at least being more intentional). I have been very thankful lately for the great gifts that we have been given. They are more than I can count. We have so much to be thankful for; A home that is warm in the winter. Loving family. A super cute little boy. Enough food on our table. Car(s!) that go. A church that cares for us. Friends who show us Jesus.

Life is good and because it is so good, we are trying harder to be better stewards of these gifts. One step was getting our meal planning in order. My hope is to save money and time. I found this great book and software called “30 Meals in 1 Day” and it has changed my world! The software includes tons of recipes that you prepare all in one day for the whole month. I have 26 meals in my freezer right now! It requires some planning and time set-aside, but then you don’t have to cook for weeks at a time! Most of the recipes just need to be thawed and heated up. I love that! It has made our evening time much more relaxed and its just nice to know that we have lots of meal choices at any given moment. AND– our grocery bill was down to about $50/week. Not bad.

Step two: I gave Elliot his first at-home haircut tonight. I was terrified. I have seen lots of boys with REALLY bad haircuts. I think it turned out well. I think it will come with practice. He needed a bath and bedtime right after the cut, so pictures will have to come tomorrow.

Step Three: I had this great master plan to make gifts for everyone this Christmas. Then I realized that I totally suck at following patterns. Wow… Who knew that following directions and cutting fabric could go so horribly wrong.  🙂  So, for the sake of my own sanity and for the well-being of my family, I am making some gifts this Christmas and trying really hard to choose meaningful/useful, inexpensive gifts for the rest.

Part of being thankful for what I have been given, to me, is taking those gifts seriously and being a good steward. In the coming year, my hope is that I will cherish the gifts of family, time, friends, money, and faith in new ways.

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Recommendation: Music to Get You in the Mood

In the mood for Christmas (what were you thinking?). Yes, I’ve already started the Christmas music. I can’t help it. I was in the holiday mood before Halloween this year. It must be Alaska.

I love love love the Todd Agnew album, “Do You See What I See?”

I bought this a few years ago and have played the heck out of it (much longer than is seasonally appropriate) each year. I think one reason that I love it is because its not the traditional cheery, merry, Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks kind of album- so you can get away with it this early. Don’t get me wrong– I love the Chipmunks, too.

AND– it’s all about Jesus! Incredible!

Each track on the album is written from the perspective of a different character in the nativity story. I think it’s quite insightful.  “This is All I Have to Give” gives an account of Joseph wondering what he has to offer his new son:

I’d always hoped you’d have my eyes, maybe a little bit of the skill of my hands,
But, as I look into your eyes, I see your hands created mine.

This is all I have to give,
You can share my home and bear my name, but this is not how you should live,
The son of God has become the son of man – this is all I have to give.

 

“Did You Know” also got me thinking… Did Jesus always know that he was God? Did he look around and see the world he created? Or was it all new to him?

Were Mary’s the first eyes you saw
Or did You remember choosing that shade of brown?
Were You surprised at the shepherd’s crazy story
Or did You know You wrote the song the angels sang?

What was this life like for You?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o’er your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?
Did you know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did you know? Or did you wonder?

I am enthusiastic about this album because I think it breathes new life into a story that we have heard over and over. It allows us to enter into the story from a perspective that perhaps we have not considered. And really, it can’t be too early for that, right?

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