Listen (Un)Like Thieves

When you’re in a deep conversation with a trusted friend or confidant, are you aching to share your story?  Are you sitting there idling like a car at the starting line of a race just waiting for them to finish their thoughts so you can tell them what you did in a similar situation, at a similar time, when something similar happened to you?

Did they ask you to share?

Did they ask for advice?

Did they tell you they wanted to know what you did and why?

I have come to realize over the last year or so that the following words can cause more harm than good when we support our friends and loved ones… “I know how you feel.”  In the game of life, we are all different people with different experiences and circumstances and the likelihood that I have gone through a scenario in the exact same way as another person is pretty close to impossible.  I have also realized that by taking the words of a friend and trying to relate their story to something in my life, I’m taking the focus off of them in their time of need.  So, I try to use these words instead:

“I can’t imagine how you’re feeling or what you’re going through, but I’m here for you.”

“You’re beautiful and wonderful and no matter what you’re going through, this will never change.”

“I am praying for you each and every day and with those prayers comes all the love in the world.”

“You’re ridiculously good-looking, hilarious and the best friend a girl could ever ask for.  I’m honored you trust me enough to share.”

At times, the greatest gift we can give is something that costs nothing and doesn’t need to be acknowledged.  It is our very presence.  An open ear, a calm heart and a warm hug.  Sometimes, being there is just enough.

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

When I was younger, one of my favorite computer games to play in school was Oregon Trail.  You and your husband and wagon full of kids would set out for the wild, wild west where there was a promised land of gold and prosperity.  Along the way, you would try to kill animals and find food and maintain health within the wagon so that everyone survived.  This rarely happened.  Usually, by the time you arrived in Illinois, you were burying little Johnny who had died of dysentery.  Sadly, just a few miles later, it was time to dig a grave for Mary, who had just died of typhoid fever.  Very rarely would you actually make it to the land of gold bling without a tragedy – usually, you wouldn’t make it at all!

Two weekends ago, I woke in the middle of the night feeling a sense of eerie peace and calm.  I looked over at the clock and saw nothing and realized the power was out… I had no idea what time it was, but fell back asleep assuming the wind or weather was somehow responsible and that everything would be up and running when I woke up again in the daylight.  Ummm… not so much.  I heard Sam talking and felt an instant rush of cold when I got out from under the covers.  Habitually, I tried to turn on the bathroom lights and laughed as they of course didn’t turn on.  I got Sam out of his crib and wrapped him in a blanket as we ventured downstairs for breakfast.  I went to go make coffee… oops.  Guess that wasn’t happening either.  I went online (thank you 3G!) and through the infinite power of Facebook (Facebook changes lives… this is truth), found out that thousands were without power.  My parents’ house was out, but my sister’s house in Concord thankfully still had power.  Sam and I drove over (we searched for coffee first… priorities people), but gave up and ended up in her warm house shortly after 7:00AM.  We had a nice homemade breakfast and Sam had an awesome time playing with his cousins.  Upon learning my power was back on, we drove back home only to find that the power was not operating fully, which resulted in the unfortunate loss of our furnace.  Packing up again, we headed to Grandma’s where we remained for most of the day.  We checked the house late afternoon to find full power and a fully operating furnace – yes!  After dinner with my mom and grandparents, Sam and I said goodbye and I looked forward to a normal night.  After putting Sam to bed, I couldn’t help but notice that once again, the house seemed cold and the lights dim.  I looked at the thermostat which was plunging degree by degree into the low 60s.  A neighbor offered to send someone to take a look, but I bit the bullet and took a leap of faith that it just needed the overnight hours to fix itself.  Thankfully, I was right… even more thankfully, Sam was completely calm and cooperative during the many car trips, the interruptions of sleep and being transitioned to a Pack N’ Play Sunday night.

So when the morning of the following Saturday began in much the same way, it wasn’t as disruptive.  We made our way through it and thankfully, this outage didn’t have the same accompaniments of a moody furnace or romantic lighting throughout the condo.  We had plans for the day, but still spent the morning with my parents who had also lost their power, but had a fire burning and had made breakfast camp-style on the grill.

When I laid down that Saturday night, in a warm condo, reading a book on my iPad, I wondered how in the world those pioneers survived.  Even without power, I still have a car to take me to a place with power.  Even without power, I was able to use the internet because of the connection of my phone to determine what was going on.  There are things about the progression of the world I’m not crazy about – the way we’re obsessed with knowing everything instantly.  The replacement of textbooks.  The loss of anticipation in waiting for something because you ordered it on Amazon Prime and it’s at your doorstep in a day or two (what do you mean it’s going to take THREE days??)  But I’m going to be honest and say I like lights and I like heat and I like being able to make coffee when I want to have coffee.  I’ve never been great at hand-washing dishes (imagine water splashing everywhere) because I’m a fan of the dishwasher.  And if someone told me that my iPod was gone forever and there was no replacement for it, I would probably cry.  Yes, I’m just like the 14 people reading this blog post – I like my computer too.  But losing some of those comforts, even for a very brief period of time, led me to remember how lucky I am to have them and to not lose sight of the times when people didn’t (but did it matter because what you don’t know you just don’t know??) – or worse, those who don’t today because economical conditions don’t allow it.  I put on an extra sweatshirt and felt annoyed about 60 degree temps in my condo… I think now of how many people have spent this brutal winter on the streets under cover of nothing more than a cardboard box.  Perception really is reality.

It’s official… I would have likely never survived the Oregon Trail.

Eyes Of The World

I want things to be different.  I have to admit that I’m tired of the sound of my own voice as I attempt to navigate life and try to figure everything out.  Are you a black and white person, or can you comfortably reside in shades of grey?  I struggle with it terribly.  I want to know everything now.  How it’s going to work out… how I will survive if THIS happens or THAT doesn’t happen.  Instead of giving credit to God for all of the good he has already produced and created in my life, I am still worried about what tomorrow might look like and if the hopes and dreams I have will come to fruition.  If I look back, I can probably name a few scenarios where I thought I just wasn’t going to survive… and I’m here today typing this.   Not only am I here, I’m not surviving – I’m thriving.  When did I become so content to concentrate on the things that seem to be hard instead of the things that have come so easy?  Why is it that I feel I need the approval of someone to believe I am worthy of love and affection?  Why do I crave so much to be liked and why am I not okay just because someone doesn’t like me?  Why am I so afraid and when can I actually allow myself to believe that no matter WHAT happens to me, only I have control over whether or not I allow those things to break me or make me better.

My favorite phrase to describe things these days seems to be “mixed bag.”  SD’s last visit was a mixed bag of warmth and happiness (I love seeing my son with his dad regardless of how his dad and I feel about each other) and anger and frustration as it became super apparent that we are on two very different pages when it comes to the present state of our parenting relationship.  This past weekend was also a mixed bag.  It started with a wonderful dinner out with friends, which ended minutes later in a car accident for which I was responsible (no one was hurt… I reached back to hand Sam a toy and didn’t realize the car in front of me had come to a complete stop) and went into a lot of really crappy behavior from me towards my mother who is arguably the sweetest woman in the world and then catapulted into a loss of power Saturday night and a temperamental furnace.  Sam and I were back and forth all day yesterday between our house, my sister’s house and my mom’s house.  And we had a darn good time.  Julie made us coffee and breakfast and I have a priceless video of Sam laughing at Gianna who was running around her room just to make him giggle.  My mom offered us a warm place to relax and rest and we had a nice impromptu meal with my grandparents.  This morning, we came home to a fully functioning and heated home.  Through it all, Sam was a saint.  He went from points a to b to c without a fuss or struggle, even at 9:30 last night as we had to travel back to Grandma’s for a warm night’s sleep.  Last night I posted that happiness isn’t at all about what happens to you but what you make of what happens to you.

I started the Joyce Meyer 3030 Challenge( on March 1 with the hope of deepening my relationship with God and his Word and his plans for us.  My hope is that this adventure will further shape the eyes I use to see the world and the perception I use to determine how I react to life’s twists and turns.  What great timing as we begin the season of Lent this Wednesday…  This morning’s verse stays with me:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14.

Waiting… and waiting happily with a fresh set of eyes.