There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Monday, May 30, 2011

Never Let Them See You Cry

On June 23, 2004 my husband and I followed two doctors into a small conference room designed for privacy.  It was then that we learned that our son had cancer.  Upon delivering the difficult news the doctors waited, expectantly, for my emotional outburst, my breakdown.  Instead, I considered their words carefully and replied “what’s the treatment plan?”

The doctors exchanged curious looks and proceeded to give me the “plan”.  Weeks later, one of the doctors approached me and said that he had never in all his years of practicing met someone who responded the way I did to the news of my son’s diagnosis, further commenting on how strong I was.

But he was wrong. Several days after that devastating meeting, while holding a baby picture of my son, I curled up in my closet of all places and cried.  And when I say I cried I mean I sobbed.  It had finally sunk in that my son could die and I cried a lifetime of tears.

Ten months later, my son finished his treatment plan and was declared cancer free. However, during that time, my dog was diagnosed with cancer as well and two weeks after Erik was declared healthy, my dog received  his death sentence.  There was nothing more that could be done, and in Marley and Me fashion, I sat in the vet’s office on Memorial Day weekend 2005 and with my beloved greyhound's head in my lap I watched him take his last breath.

And with that came another torrent of tears. Beyond anything I had ever experienced.  I felt sick to my stomach, a hole the size of the planet in my soul.  I could not pull myself together.  Finally, my husband came to my aid, forcing me to leave the house and go to a baseball game. And I remember thinking how strange it was that in my moment of despair life just kept going.  Just as it did during Erik’s cancer treatment.  The world didn’t stop.  Bills still had to be paid, the lawn still needed to be mowed,

And I realized that there was no time for crying. So I built a dam.  A carefully crafted wall that for the last six years has worked beautifully to contain my reservoir of tears. 

But lately, I have noticed that my dam is getting weaker, it’s starting to crack and I spend my time and energy patching up these cracks because if I don’t, the dam will give way, the floodgates will open and I fear I will never again be able to stop it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In the Good Ol' Summertime

My favorite time of year is summer.  I love the heat. The hotter the better.  But there have been some summers that just don’t quite get hot enough for me.  There are fewer heat waves and more cooler, rainy days.  Those summers are difficult for me because I believe that if I don’t get my fill of the heat, I won’t be able to handle the cold, dreary winter.

In other words, I believe that I need to soak in all that warmth and sunshine because it will carry over to the dark and cold days of winter, allowing me to get through till the next summer when I essentially gear up again for winter.

Unfortunately, that mindset doesn’t carry over into other areas of my life.  I have plenty of wilderness periods or valleys. Times of difficulty, times of testing, but there have also been many times in my life where things were very good, the peaks, where  everything was calm and settled, peaceful.

During the peaks my tendency has been to brace myself for the next valley, so I don’t allow myself to fully embrace the good times as if by doing so, I will cause the valley to come even quicker, because I know it”s there, looming on the horizon.

But if there is one thing I have learned in all my years, good times and bad times are both a part of life.  I was never promised a life free of pain and heartache so rather than spending all of my energy trying to keep those times away, perhaps my energy is better spent fully embracing all the summers in my life.  That way I will be better equipped to handle all of my winters.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just When I Thought I Had It All Figured Out

I want to be a Christian.  But what does that mean exactly? Early on I thought it meant going to church and professing my faith in Christ.  As years went on, I learned that to be a Christian I had to serve the poor, give to the needy, and share my testimonial so I could bring others to God.

I try to help those in need.  I see someone struggling and I want to help. I want to do what Jesus taught me. Take care of the down and out, the marginalized. I want to help them feel the love of God through my actions.  I take that seriously.

At what point, though, does a person need to take responsibility for their own choices? Their own actions.  I understand that difficult times befall people, especially kids.  Whether it’s a dysfunctional family situation, or bullying at school, kids sometimes suffer.  And it breaks my heart.

But how long do I coddle, nurture, care for someone who just doesn’t want to be helped.  Who gets so much pleasure, for lack of a better word, out of being the victim that they just don’t want to change. 

Does there come a point where its time to give up?  Does there come a time when I have to accept that there is nothing more I can do? Would Jesus do that?  Does Jesus expect me to do that?

Today, I’m struggling with my faith.  I still believe in God and I still believe in Jesus, because I believe that it is in God where I find all the goodness and love in the world, but I can honestly say, I don’t know what it means to be a Christian.  I don’t know if anybody does.    

Monday, May 23, 2011

Building on a New Foundation

Each morning as I get ready for my day, I make an effort to put my best foot forward.  A nice outfit, makeup, hair and just before I leave I take one last look in the mirror to make sure everything is in place.  And in that moment, I feel confident.

But as time wears on, and I am challenged by the events of the day, I forget that before I left the house I was feeling confident.  Maybe someone swore at me because I accidently cut them off in traffic.  Or maybe I got a stern phone call from the school because I forgot yet again to turn in some paperwork for my child.

Maybe I had a fight with my kids, or I forgot to get to the grocery store and we are out of milk, or eggs, or bread.  Or I forgot to pay one of my bills.  Any number of things can happen that can make me feel less than confident.  And the negative thoughts start to creep into my head.  Suddenly I feel insecure. 

But not only do I feel insecure, but I believe I look it.  To my mind, everyone looking at me can see my thoughts, can see when I’m feeling insecure, or nervous, or anxious. But the truth is,  everyone else is still looking at the woman I saw in the mirror in the morning.  Nobody knows my thoughts or how I’m feeling unless I tell them.

So I came up with a plan.  I decided I needed a constant reminder throughout the day that I left the house ready  to tackle whatever came my way.  So I found a picture of myself that I particularly like.  One that says “confident, strong, beautiful”.

And I made it the wallpaper on my cell phone.

Now every time I take a call, or receive a text, I get a quick glimpse of the “me” I am portraying to the world.  And it reminds me that even though I might not be feeling confident, strong or beautiful, the potential is there because I see it in the picture.  

And it makes me smile.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Laying a New Foundation - Part Five

I started the year 2011 making the decision to stop drinking.  I was at one of the lowest points in my life and I had to do something. I figured God could do a better job with my life than I was so as a symbolic gesture of giving up control, I gave up drinking for Him. 

At that time, I was told by more than one person that I couldn’t and shouldn’t go this alone. That I needed a 12-step program, sponsors, support or I would surely fail.  It shook my confidence, and the first couple of months were difficult, because I kept focusing on what I couldn’t have anymore…my beloved cocktail.  I kept looking forward to 2012, hoping this year would pass quickly.

But somewhere along the way I started to change.  Perhaps by blogging and releasing online all the thoughts in my head that have weighed me down.  Perhaps during Lent when my focus was purely on God and putting Him first.  Perhaps it was because I have been trying new things, forcing myself out of my comfort zone, causing a rise in my self-confidence and making some great new friends in the process.

Throughout the years, I have worked hard for my family, focusing on being the best mom and wife and I could be.  But by trying to please them, I forgot that it’s ok to sometimes please myself, that the love and care that goes into any of my relationships should also be showered upon me.  I am starting to get that now.

So forget the people who think I can’t stop drinking on my own, or for that matter, forget those who say I can’t achieve any goal I set for myself. I know I have what it takes within me to do what I say I’m going to do. Not for my husband, not for my kids, not for my friends, or even for my God, but just for me.  Because I believe I’m worth it.

So I don’t know what 2012 will bring, but it no longer matters to me.  Because I’m not focused on next year, I’m focused on today.  And if the world should end tonight, I will leave it with no regrets.  No regrets for my past mistakes or my poor choices, because everything that has happened in my life has brought me to where I am right now and to the woman I have become, and I can actually say, maybe for the first time in my life, I kinda like that girl.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Laying a New Foundation - Part Four

From the day I moved into my house, I had visions of the life I wanted to create for my family.  I dreamed of having the type of home where friends can drop by unannounced, where kids would hang out and play sports, video games, and sit around and talk with me about their daily events.

I have a corner lot, so I put a gazebo on my property where the school kids could wait for the bus when it was raining. I put in a sport court where the kids could play basketball, and I fenced in my yard so they could play wiffle ball and I wouldn’t have to worry about the street.  And I finished my basement so the kids would have a comfortable place to hang out.

But as is typical with life, I was thrown a curve ball.  When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I felt like my life as I knew it had come to an end.  Overnight my thoughts went from swing sets, Super Mario, and playdates to chemotherapy, blood counts, and protocols.  I learned how to juggle trips to the hospital with trips to the schools because even as my focus was directed toward Erik, I had three other children who’s lives I had to keep as normal as possible. 

Fortunately, all went well with Erik, but as typical with any disaster, there was fallout and it expressed itself differently with each member of my family. The worst coming when my daughter Rachael developed a germ phobia because she too was afraid of getting cancer, which progressed to full blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  And again I found my world turned upside down.

Three years, some medication, and a lot of therapy later, she is back to regular school and doing well.  So now that I have had a moment to catch my breath, I look at my life today and I realize that through it all, I have what I set out to create.  My house is the place where kids hang out, and play basketball and video games.  My kids friends come by unannounced, sometimes just to get a haircut or show me a good report card (which goes on the fridge right next to my own kids report cards) or to ask for advice with a problem they are struggling with.

So as I think of the things I have accomplished, the things I am proud of, the fact that my family is still together, still moving forward and closer than ever is something that I know didn’t happen by accident.  And while I’m far from being a perfect mom, I have provided for my family exactly what I promised them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Laying a New Foundation - Part Three

Everyone thinks I hate my dogs.  Probably because I say it all the time.  But really I have tremendous guilt issues where they are concerned, feeling as if I never give them enough attention, training, exercise. But this week is about my accomplishments so let me share the other side of the story.

When I first adopted my greyhound, Callaway, off the racetracks, he was shell shocked at being in a home.  Knowing nothing but a crate and a track, he was clearly unnerved by his new surroundings.  And when approached by small children, including my own,  he would growl and snap.

This concerned me enough to make a phone call to the adoption agency telling them I had to return their dog.  But the next morning as I was packing his things, I realized I couldn’t do it.  This dog needed another chance.  So I dug my heels in and spent long hours training him around the house and specifically with children. 

It took many months of patience and kindness and Callaway responded, finally accepting my love and trusting me enough to let his guard down.  Becoming confident enough to romp around the yard with tons of kids and let them rest their heads on him when they were tired.  He was the best pet (or I should say companion animal) I ever had.

After Callaway died, from cancer, we adopted a black lab from a family who needed to find her a new home.  Annie became the new family pet.  But I noticed over the years that her allergies were getting worse and worse until they completely took over her body, becoming more of a yeast overgrowth than allergies.  Annie was on death’s door.  She lost all of her fur, she couldn’t eat, and I had to carry this 70 pound lab back and forth to the yard every time she had to relieve herself. 

I began to prepare the kids for the worst, even as I tried everything, from traditional medicines, to acupuncture to raw food diets.  My entire life was focused around saving this poor animal.  And finally, through plenty of research I tried yet another new diet, and this time it worked.  Within days, she started to recover.  All of her fur grew back, and with the exception of chronic ear infections,  she is happy, healthy and strong.

I count these stories as accomplishments because too often I beat myself up for not taking good enough care of my dogs.  And yet, maybe on some special level they know that even though I yell at them for sneaking food or ignore them when company is over, I chose to put up the good fight for them, so Callaway could spend his retirement in a safe and comfortable environment, and so Annie could have a few more years to enjoy winning the food wars against me.  I guess deep down I really do love them. (But don’t tell anyone I said that.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Laying a New Foundation - Part Two

Five years ago, at the age of 42, I was traveling down the highway, when suddenly right in front of me coming in the other direction was a jeep that was literally bouncing down the road on its side.  Flipping at least five times before it came to a rest.  Without a second’s hesitation I pulled my car over and ran across three lanes of highway to get to the person inside.

The young 16 year old girl was incredibly lucky. I was able to help her out of the car through the side window, and although she left by ambulance to get checked out, I learned later from her parents that she had not a scratch on her, and even played in her softball game the following day.

But driving away from that accident I couldn’t help but play worst case scenarios through my mind.  What if she was trapped? What if she was hurt?  What if the car  started on fire.  I had no training for any of those situations. I would have stood helplessly by had I been met with any of that.

That’s when I decided to become a firefighter.  

The first night, I remember sitting in the parking lot, with white knuckles, gripping the steering wheel trying to convince myself to just drive away.  Instead, I got out of the car and walked into the building.  I was never so scared or nervous in my life. 

But things moved quickly from there. I got to know the guys relatively easily and my training started shortly thereafter.  I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn.  How to use the airpacks, how to search for and rescue a victim, raise ladders, pull hose, work the fire hydrants, operate the vehicle extrication tools. 

I remember at first thinking everything is so heavy!

But I persisted, I worked hard to keep up with the guys, studied for hours upon hours, and about 18 months later I became a Level 2 Certified Firefighter in my state.  The first woman ever in this particular department to reach that level of training.  I even had the opportunity to drive the trucks a few times.

This is the accomplishment I am bragging about today, because as part of my new foundation its time to give at least as much, if not more, attention to my strengths than my shortcomings. Oh and did I mention I got the highest grades in my class?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Laying a New Foundation - Part One

In baseball, when a team is struggling it’s not uncommon for the manager to bring in a new coach. And typically, the new coach will go back to basics and focus on the fundamentals.  Why? Because a good coach knows the value of laying a proper foundation.

I have been challenged to acknowledge five things about myself that I am proud of, things I would brag about with regards to myself and my accomplishments.  At the moment this was first asked of me, I couldn’t do it, but today is a new day.   And I’m in the mood to have a little fun.

So first things first…what do I like about myself? What do I want to brag about?  Well, being that I can be all about appearances and putting up a good front,  let’s start with the superficial.   I have great legs.  I mean really great legs.  It’s my favorite feature.  I’m proud of them, and I work out regularly to keep them in shape.

But I’m afraid to tell you that.  It seems so self-absorbed and conceited. So Brittany Spears. Hey everyone, look at my great legs.  So I don’t show them off, preferring to play it safe and follow the rules of society.  The rules that say moms who are over 40 should not look hot and sexy.  Well today I’m breaking those rules.  Even if only for a day. 

Because I think that maybe I need to go back to basics and focus on the fundamentals.  It’s time to go back to the days when I wasn’t self-conscious and overly preoccupied with what people thought of me.  (I mean we are talking a long time ago…think diapers).  But if I can rebuild my foundation, one based on self-love and self-acceptance, who knows…maybe I can win a World Series one day.

And yep…these are my legs….pretty sexy, huh?

Monday, May 16, 2011


I want to make you happy, but you’re upset.  I see it in your eyes. You look away but not quickly enough. I caught a glimpse.  I’ve let you down…again.  I didn’t mean to.

I want to be the perfect wife/mother/daughter/friend and yet I don’t always know what that means. Tell me what you want and I will deliver, but if you aren’t clear, I might make a mistake.  I might misinterpret what it was I thought you wanted and give you that instead.

It’s my fault. I should know what you expect of me.   I should listen better and ask the right questions.  I should know you well enough to understand your needs and then meet them.

I don’t mean to fail you. I don’t mean to hurt you or disappoint you.  I promise to get it right next time. I will work faster, learn more, try harder.  Watch me. I can be better, stronger, smarter.  So you will be proud of me.

I want to make you happy…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Facing A Crossroad

Its been 4 days since my last post.  I’m pretty much a daily blogger so that is a little unusual for me.  I’m sitting here trying to figure out why.  I could say that I have been very busy.  One of my two college kids came home this week.  That generates extra work for me.  More laundry, more grocery shopping, etc.  And it was senior banquet on Friday.  Also a very busy day to prepare for. 

But I always blog.  I always have something to say about something.  So is it that I have worked out all my issues?  I do tend to use my blog as my place to do that.  A way to release what is weighing on my heart and my mind.  Once it’s here, it doesn’t seem to have the same power over me.  Yes, that’s it. I have no more issues to discuss.  Life is perfect.

Oh how I wish that were true…

No, I think it’s really a question of how much more do I share.  Do I really want to share every last piece of me.  The parts of me that are buried so deep, that so truly have come to define who I am and how I view myself, that I’m not sure if I even want to release them. 

There is still a place I run to when I feel intimidated and insecure.  A place where the walls never quite come down all the way. I will show you just enough to make sure that you still like me, because to reveal everything would surely change your opinion.  And I care what other’s think of me.  And I hate that I care so much. 

So I could blog instead about my daily activities, the senior banquet, my date with my husband last night.  I could tell you I mowed the lawn yesterday, hosted the after party for the seniors and went to dance class yesterday.  Or I could paraphrase what the pastor spoke of in church this morning.

Or I could go deeper, knock the walls flat to the ground, show you my hiding place and run the risk that you decide you really don’t like me after all.  Do I have the strength to do that?  Time will tell…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who's Teaching Whom?

Sometimes I think of the woman I was when I held my first son in my arms.  I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, terrified actually…and yet so full of love for this little being I just met.  And I wish that I knew then what I know now.  I wish I was the woman then, that I am today.

But then I think of the nights I spent nursing a fever or calming a frightened child after a nightmare.  I think of the thousands of diaper changes and feedings. And as they grew, the thousands of birthday parties and playdates so they could make friends.

I think of nights spent in the hospital with my son while chemotherapy dripped into his bloodstream, unable to tear myself away from his side and yet worrying about how my other kids were faring at home without me.  And the many other nights in the emergency room comforting scared little children who were facing stitches or xrays.

I think of the countless hours I spent researching anxiety when my daughter was diagnosed with phobias and OCD, because she was terrified she too would get cancer one day.  And the endless visits to doctors to find just the right one to help her. 

I think of the books I’ve read along with my kids so I could help them write their papers and study for their tests.  Trying time and again to finally figure out how to write a bibliography.

And I think of the travel involved in visiting college campuses, supporting them as they studied for SAT’s and helping them write the best essay they could.  And throughout it all, doing my best to give advice on girlfriends, peer pressure, friendships and life.

And I realize that it’s actually because of them that I am the woman I am today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time For the Old Dog to Learn a New Trick

Mother’s Day would have been a perfect day if it wasn’t for the argument…no, fight I had with my daughter just before we left for brunch.  I had asked her to wrap my mother and mother-in-law’s gift while I was at church because I would be pressed for time when I returned.

When I got home the gifts were still sitting there, unwrapped.  Apparently, she couldn’t find the scissors. I spoke harshly to my daughter as I started to wrap the gifts (using a jack knife to cut the paper, because I also couldn’t find the scissors) only to realize that I didn’t have enough wrapping paper.  That’s when I lost it. Because now, not only would we be late, but I would be handing my mother-in-law a partially wrapped gift.  What a failure…

Afterwards, as I apologized to my daughter, yet again, I thought about my reaction…or I should say my over-reaction.  And I realized that this event struck at the core of one of my biggest insecurities.  My inability to run a tidy and efficient house.  A house where there’s a place for the scissors so anyone can find them. A house where things are done ahead of time, not at the last minute.

I always assumed that once I became a mother I would naturally know how to run a household.  My own mom ran a tight ship.  In fact, so tight that I wasn’t able to help out.  She liked to do things herself, so I never learned how to cook, or run the washing machines.  We were allowed to bring the groceries in, but not put them away, because she had her own systems that worked for her. So I stayed out of her way and learned how to mow the lawn and clean the garage and the cars instead.

However, once I became a mother, under the assumption that now I should be able to run the house like my mom did, I failed miserably.  I was constantly fighting an uphill battle to stay on top of the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dusting, vacuuming, finally concluding that I “can’t” do it.  And there must be something wrong with me.

So I went to the self help books, ultimately convincing myself that I must have ADD. I hired coaches, therapists, professional organizers and even convinced a psychiatrist to put me on Adderall.  Thinking that if I could cure my ADD I could run the house. All to no avail.  But it occurred to me as I was mowing the lawn yesterday (which is a chore I still love to do and where I do my best soul searching), that maybe there isn’t anything inherently wrong with me.  Perhaps, I can’t run an efficient household because I simply wasn’t taught how to do it.

And I wonder….what else have I convinced myself I “can’t” do, when really I just haven’t learned it yet.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Heard It Here First

I’m not sure how much longer I will have the time to blog because tomorrow I’m pretty sure I’m going to become famous. 

About 15 months ago, I started working out with a personal trainer. His name is Armando Aversa.  When I started working out with him I was about 25 pounds on the wrong side of the scale.  Over time, I learned how to create a new and healthier lifestyle that suited me personally. 

I did not follow a plan or program, but I did listen to what Armando had to say about weight loss, fitness, attitude, perserverance, patience, etc.  And as I opened my mind up to new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking, slowly but surely the pounds melted away.

But when I reached my goal weight I was surprised that all of my life’s problems were not solved.  After all, wasn’t that the point?  Lose the weight, find true peace and happiness.  Well, it was part of the journey, but I quickly learned that I had more work to do.

My personal journey led me to the decision to quit drinking for one year, and to blog about it.  From there so many things have started to fall into place bringing me closer and closer to my true goal of finding peace with God and ultimately peace  within myself.  Peace about who I am, what my purpose is, etc.  All the big questions I have spent a lifetime struggling with.

Tomorrow, on Mother’s Day there is a new book hitting the shelves.  Armando has written his book Believe…The Holy Grail of Weight Loss because he has had such tremendous success with so many of his clients that he wants to share his journey and his words of truth with everyone. 

I encourage you to visit his website at and check out his book.  And don’t forget to check out the testimonials.  You might see someone you know…

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sorry Demons...Not This Time

I haven’t yet learned the art of pacing myself.  When I decide to do something I usually go full speed ahead.  Then I either crash and burn or lose steam and fade away.  True to form, when I decided I was going to re-take my fire test I pulled out all the stops to train.

After a week, I have pushed the limits and unfortunately aggravated a knee condition that I have.  And now the demons in my head are very audible…

“You are too old for this.”
“Your body can’t take this kind of training, give it up.”
“You are going to do more harm than good”
“Why bother, what’s the point”

The typical song and dance that brings me back to the familiar and comfortable place of I can’t…

But something is different this time.  I’m no longer willing to let the demons have the final word.  So rather than give up and hang my head in sad realization that I am just too old, I’m moving forward.   Because this is not a roadblock, but a setback.  And unlike roadblocks that stop me dead in my tracks, setbacks can be learned from. And they can be overcome.

So I made an appointment with my doctor to check out my knee and to get advice on how to proceed with caution.  And from there I will take the next step, and then the next step and then the next step after that.   By setting smaller, more manageable goals, I might just succeed more often and who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to enjoy the journey.  Because isn’t that really what it’s all about anyway?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Don't Believe We've Met

Be yourself…everyone else is taken.  That’s the quote on one of the blogs I follow written by Beth.  I love this quote.  It’s pithy and yet thought-provoking.  (I’m not quite sure what pithy means but I feel like it applies to this quote.)

So what does it mean exactly to be myself.  Sometimes I feel like I am many people, my own version of Sybil with many personalities. So which one am I really?  Does being myself mean being true to how I’m feeling in that moment, or do I need to adjust my thoughts, emotions, opinions so as not to hurt or offend.  And if I change to please others am I being considerate or insecure.

Some days, I’m confident, strong, capable and feeling quite put together.  But other days, I’m fragile, insecure, and self-conscious.  Some days I’m on top of the world, on top of my game, optimistic and fun to be around.  And yet some days, I just want to crawl back into bed and start over tomorrow.  I can be happy, generous, thoughtful, but I can also be sad, selfish and careless.

Our character can be defined by who we are when nobody’s looking.  Well, I can be a real bitch when nobody’s looking.  I mean downright nasty.  I snap at my kids and yell at my dogs. So is that the real me?  I’m also told I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but then aren’t I being myself by being hard on myself?

I can also be different things to different people, so is who I am defined by who you say I am? Which, of course, is dependent on the nature of our relationship and the circumstances under which we meet.  And if that’s the case I have no idea who I am because I can’t possibly know what everyone else thinks of me, or try to be what everyone else wants me to be.

So while I don’t necessarily know who I am, I also don’t know who I would rather be, and since everyone else is taken anyway, I might as well just be myself…whatever that means.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Remembering...with Love

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

I was not going to blog about the death of Osama bin Laden because it is a subject  that evokes strong emotions and I still have a tendency to avoid conflict. But it’s on my heart and mind and I need to release it, and this is where I do that.

I’ll be honest…I’m conflicted.  I understand the celebration at the news of his death, and 10 years ago when we first bombed Afghanistan I was celebrating.  But God has been working on me through His son, Jesus Christ.  He is changing my heart. 

Jesus asks me to love my enemy and pray for those who persecute me.  But he was really just talking about the guy who cuts me off in traffic or the bitchy lady at the cash register who failed to wish me a good day, right?  He wasn’t really talking about this kind of enemy…or was He?

After all, Jesus forgave everyone, even down to his dying breath, even those who killed him.  But He was God, surely I don’t have that capacity to forgive, being a mere human being.  And even though I am made in God’s image, I’m certainly not perfect like He is.

I want to pray, forgive, love but then I feel disloyal to those who died…the victims of 9/11, the fallen firefighters, our brave soldiers.  I wouldn’t want them to die in vain, and the death of this man, at least symbolically, sees to that. 

But my heart feels heavy, I just feel sad.  Sad for the lives lost, sad for the hate and intolerance, sad for the devastation of war.  So although I can’t yet pray, forgive or love my enemy, I also can’t celebrate.  Instead I will focus on the love I have for a God who is so great and so loving that He can pray, love and forgive when I am too weak, too human to do it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Turning Back Now

I hesitate to write this blog today, because once something ends up here it feels so  real.  I’m moving forward with a new goal, but before I can do that I think it’s time for some back story.

Four years ago, I decided to volunteer for my local fire department.  Yes, as a firefighter.  I was 42 at the time.  After about a year and a half of training I became a Level 2 Certified Firefighter in my state.  Even today, I cannot pinpoint specifically why I chose this particular activity other than I felt called to do it.

During this time, I also took it upon myself to take the state physical assessment test. Not a requirement for volunteers, but I believed that I needed to prove to myself and my department that I could handle the physical demands of this job.  This is a timed test.  Which I failed.  By two seconds. 

Two seconds…a blink of an eye, but enough to shatter my confidence.  Enough to wipe out the one and half years of training I completed successfully.  Enough to make me leave the department, convinced that I was too old and too weak to be a firefighter.

Another year has passed since I left, and still I have no peace.  I have only excuses and justifications for why I left, why I can’t return.  But God is working here, through some unlikely people I might add.  And he’s getting me to face my fears. 

So just as I started this blog for accountability on my decision to give up alcohol for one year, I will now use this blog for accountability to stay on task and train once again for what is, by far, the most difficult physical challenge I might ever face.

Feel free to stop me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nowhere Else to Hide

But Moses said to God “Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” – Exodus 3:11

When Moses was called to free the Israelites he wasn’t all that sure he wanted to do it.  Pick someone else, he said. Someone who can speak more clearly. Surely there is someone better qualified than me.  But God had already chosen Moses for this particular task.

There is something I believe God has called me to do.  He has prepared me, He has given me the tools, the training, and even the desire. But my fears got in the way.  My insecurities.  So I said to God “pick someone else”.  Someone more qualified, someone better, more capable.

I bargained with God.  Look God, I can do this for you instead.  Or this, or even that.  And He told me it was great to do this or this or even that.  Because all of those things are good things.  But it is not what I have asked of you.

So I’m going to face my fears and trust that God knows what’s best.  Because then not only will I have peace with Him, I will also have peace with myself.