encouragement, Faith, listen, My One Word, Relationships, Wisdom

I am Human

Anxiety can make you feel like you’re all alone in a room full of people, while simultaneously drowning you in wave after wave of everyone else’s needs and wants. I’m not sure when I first experienced anxiety, but I’m pretty sure I was in elementary school. Possibly as early as first grade. It likely reared up the same time as the pecking order at recess.

I do know, it hasn’t gotten better with time or maturity. Instead, it ebbs and flows, but never really goes away. The older I get, the more I notice it in my everyday life. It is no longer confined to the moments of show-and-tell, reading aloud, class projects, or being called on to answer a question. Now it is present anytime I have to be around people other than my immediate family. It happens when I know I have to run errands, change my routine, or participate in a social engagement for my children. It even happens in online discussion groups in college. The day I found out my school was moving from chat boxes to video conferencing for our class meetings, I had an epic anxiety attack. I don’t do videos, or anything that requires me to record my voice. At least not voluntarily, or without a whole lot of stress and, you guessed it, anxiety.

Though I pray about it continually, the panic and anxiety rarely disappears completely. Since the birth of my youngest, what once started out as a moderate inconvience has become something almost debilitating in its occurance. Sundays have become a struggle, because I’m torn between the need to fellowship and worship the LORD, and the desire to hide away because of the panic squeezing my heart.

Add this anxiety to the SAD that plagues me, and there are many days when the only place I want to be is curled up under a warm blanket. This might seem like a good way to spend a day, and it is when it is a choice. When it isn’t a choice the joy that would normally come with it is missing.

I have faith the LORD will help me through this season of life. He will give me the strength when I am weakest. I just need to remember to give it to Him. I am only human.

Blessings,

Sare

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encouragement, Fellowship, help, Homeschooling, Motherhood, My One Word, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, volunteering

Fellowship

In January when I prayerfully chose Fellowship as my Word of the Year, I left it up to the LORD to decide how to use it in my life. I never quite expected it to lead me where I am currently. I thought maybe it would envolve me continuing with our small group, or maybe I’d do an ocassional social event.

Apparently I wasn’t thinking large enough.

Since January, I’ve not only continued to attend small group, but I’ve been led by the LORD to do so many things I never would have considered before. Now, as we’re coming closer to the end of 2015, I’ve realized how blessed I’ve been by this word and God’s plan for me.

Each day I learn something new about myself, and each time I walk out my door and step into a situation that doesn’t allow me to hide inside my house, I grow stronger. I get closer to the person the LORD has designed me to be.

Thank you LORD for guiding me to Classical Conversations and the community we’re building here, and thank you for placing on my heart the desire to fill a role in Children’s Ministry at my church. Neither of these things would I have ever thought to do myself. You are an amazing and loving Creator.

What blessings are you thankful for?

Blessings, Sare

encouragement, Faith, God's Beauty, Homeschooling, Loss, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, Wisdom

Father’s Day and Healing

Three days ago we scattered my father’s ashes in the Puget Sound. A place he’d always loved. The week leading up to the memorial was rough and emotions ran high with everyone. I wanted nothing more than to forget about the whole thing and keep my father’s ashes on my shelf, because as soon as they were removed from their place of honor, lonliness enveloped me. He’d been there since February, a constant companion in my home. It was time to let him go, but I wasn’t sure I was ready.

At the approximate time the sun would have been setting, had the rain not decided to join our tears, we said a final goodbye to the man who had taught us so many things. There was laughter amidst the inappropriate humor my father was so used to from my sister Rae, and me. As she shared her memories, it occured to me that my father was a wonderfully flawed person. He swore, he drank, he was selfish, and was always impatient. I realized much of my personality came from him. Many of my strengths and many of my weaknesses were nurtured and ingrained at his knee. My father made many mistakes in his life, but one thing he did that wasn’t a mistake, was loving his children inspite of our differences, and sometimes because of them.

With that knowledge, it was important to remind myself that we all grieve differently, and that emotions are strong factors in the way we react to situations. That night wasn’t about who we were, it was about who he was. There was no right or wrong way to memorialize him. Whether it was drinking a bottle of wine in his memory as the rain poured down, or closing off from others and holding inside whatever emotion was burning the heart. We needed to set aside our various differences, ignore the typical family dynamic and just be there for one last moment with the man who had raised us in the only way he knew how.

After the others left, I sat on the bench beside the water with my dear friend. We watched otters play in the current, and I cried. Big, ugly, body wracking tears. For months there had been a pain inside my heart that couldn’t seem to heal. It was like a splinter left just beneath the surface, and it was festering as the days went on. I didn’t realize it, even as I sat there, that the healing had finally began. For the months since my father passed, I was in a holding pattern, not really grieving, but not really healing either.

Three days before Father’s Day, the proverbial splinter was finally removed, the wound cleaned, and my body and soul could really begin to heal.

When Sunday arrived I was leary of attending church. It was my first Father’s Day without my Dad. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was concerned I’d break down and not be able to stop. In fact, I almost decided not to go, to stay home and be safe from the emotions, smiles, and warm wishes of others.

Instead, I prayed.

Then I put on my big girl pants and joined my family in church.

It was a wonderful day. The words were exactly what I needed to hear, and my heart didn’t ache. For the first time in months I didn’t feel like I would get blown away in a stiff breeze, or shatter like glass. I felt free. With the scattering of my Father’s ashes, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. My Father is truly at peace now, and even though I might not be completely there yet, I am on my way. My heart is light and I am filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit.

Life moves on and changes, much like the tides of the sea.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy and may you forever be at rest in the place you loved best.

Sare

encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, My One Word, My Walk, Relationships, Wisdom

I’m Struggling

I knew when I started this journey it wasn’t going to be easy, but somehow I didn’t expect it to be quite so difficult either. My love and Faith in God isn’t wavering–it’s growing deeper and stronger– but I’m floundering. For every step in the right direction I take, I seem to take a hundred steps back the way I came. I don’t want to be the person I was. I didn’t like her much then, and I’m really not a fan of her now.

Why is this change so hard?

The struggle to be a better person, a nicer person, a more caring person it is real. Being selfish is easier. Being selfish is what I’ve always known. In my heart I can see myself going out of my way for others, joining groups to help the needy, being available to help at a moments notice, and always giving of myself. The reality is nothing like that.

My reality has me shying away from groups, and anything that takes me out of my comfortable and set routine. Where I was drawn to be involved a year ago, now I find myself pulling away, putting up invisible boundaries and refusing to cross them.

I want to be able to minister to others, to share my testimony, but I don’t know how. Do I even have a testimony anymore? Can someone as selfish, angry, and negative as I seem to be, really have a joyful testimony of our LORD to share with others?  I’m at a loss for what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m desperate and feeling lost and lonely. I turn to the LORD at every crossing, worship Him with gladness, but still I feel like I’m sinking deeper into some dark void, and I don’t know how to get out.

This year’s One Word is Fellowship– a word I know I’m supposed to learn from. The LORD has a plan, and I just don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’m failing Him. Four months into the year, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t done a whole lot in moving forward with Fellowship, it almost feels like I’m running away from it instead.

Again, I feel like I’m in that dark pit.

Prayers would be appreciated.

Sare

education, encouragement, Faith, Homeschooling, Motherhood, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, Wisdom

Why We Don’t Participate in “All-Fools’ Day”

Ever since I was first introduced to April Fools’ Day in the early years of elementary school, I’ve dreaded the first of April. I hated falling for lies in the guise of ‘jokes’, and most importantly I hated not being able to trust the people I saw each day.

I’m sure it didn’t help that the way kids played jokes weren’t particularly funny. The jokes–or in most cases the pranks– were often mean-spirited and made the person, unlucky enough to be caught in the middle, embarrassed and uncomfortable. Some people, like myself, hate being in a spotlight of any kind, and these types of jokes are akin to being thrown onto a stage in a fully-packed stadium.

If jokes are supposed to be funny, those situations failed dismally.

As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that many people never outgrew this rather childish and loathsome activity. However, many of the ‘jokes’ are now played online. For instance, at any given moment today I could scroll through my Facebook feed and see numerous posts about pregnancies. Now, for many this isn’t a big deal, but for people who are desperately trying to conceive, or have experienced the loss of a child, it isn’t an amusing topic.

Also, in this age of social media, there is a much wider base for ridicule. In the case of a few people on social media who post outrageous–yet totally plausible ‘plans’, and then sit back and watch as their friends and family ridicule and tear down each other for believing the words in the first place.

My children haven’t had the experience with All-Fools’ Day, because they are both young and educated at home. My daughter is much like I am, and though we enjoy goofing off and telling actual jokes, we never aim to get a laugh at someone else’s misfortune.

As a Christian, albeit a rather new one, I feel that the overall point of this day is decidedly UN-Christian. Nothing about it promotes a happy or exciting and enjoyable experience. I feel that this one day of the year is used as a way to say, “Hey, it’s okay to make fun of others, or to hurt, ridicule, and embarrass others, because it’s ‘just a joke’.”

We spend so much time dealing with bullying and abuse in our society, yet no one seems to blink about the pranks and jokes associated with this particular day on the calendar. Shouldn’t we use every day to teach our children the difference between a joke that makes EVERYONE laugh, and something that causes one person to be laughed AT? Shouldn’t we teach our children that it is never okay, not even one day a year, no cause others pain and embarrassment? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children that a lie even on the first of April, is still a lie?

I’m sure there will be people who feel I am overly-sensitive. That’s fine. It won’t be the first time those words have been applied to me in life. The difference now is, I’m an adult and I’m a mother. The only thing I care about it raising my children to be respectful of everyone, regardless of who they are or what time of the year it is. I don’t ever want my children to feel like it’s okay to make fun of someone, or be made fun of.

Even if it makes me out to be “overly-sensitive”, I will not confuse my children by participating, or allowing them to participate in something that at the very core marks what is wrong with our society. Words and actions affect people. The date on the calendar doesn’t change that.

Church Wisdom, Faith, Fellowship, My One Word, My Walk

Can Fellowship Heal?

Since my father passed away, I’ve been even less social than normal. The thought of getting out of my comfy clothes, brushing my hair, and forcing a smile is almost more than I can handle most days.

Monday was particularly hard. It was also the night of our small group study. Most of the day I couldn’t hold in the tears, and everything broke my heart. The heirloom nut chopper my mom had given me shattered, and from there everything seemed to crumble around me like the ruins of an old and forgotten city.

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How was I supposed to go out, be happy, smile, and socialize with people I’m just beginning to know? I couldn’t just arrive wearing the workout pants and tank top I’d been wearing since I worked out. What kind of picture would that make? What kind of example would that be for my children?

Even though my daughter and I had already made the snack we were bringing, I couldn’t see myself actually getting out the door, into the car, and to the home where we gather.

My husband came home, and I was curled in a ball on the couch, covered in a blanket and shivering. We needed to get ready to go or we wouldn’t make it.

I had a choice to make. I could stay home and continue to feel pain, or I could go out and try to find a few moments of happiness. So, I prayed, and listened to what the LORD put in my heart.

We made it to small group, and I even managed to change my clothes before we left. I admit the tears continued to fall until I got in the car and we headed down the street, but by the time we arrived, I was feeling lighter.

I can’t say for sure that fellowship heals, but it certainly helped on Monday. God knows what He is doing, even when His will makes us do things we would rather avoid. I still would have preferred to remain in my comfy clothes, but wearing jeans was a small price to pay to move away from the hurt for a few hours.

Not to mention, there was amazing cheesecake there, and I don’t normally like cheesecake. 🙂

May God bless you throughout the week,

Sare

Faith, Fellowship, My One Word, My Walk

Heal My Heart, LORD

On January 31, 2015, my father passed away. In the last few months he had become someone I didn’t recognize–the man with strong convictions and an analytic mind had disappeared. In his place was someone who was angry, and emotional. In all my years growing up I can count on one hand the number of times I’d seen him cry. During the months leading up to his death his tear flowed freely.

He started making decisions he never would have before. His conversations stretched to the outlandish, and his understanding of right and wrong bled together. I made one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make, and it broke my heart.

Reading this, one might assume my father was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

He wasn’t.

My father, the first Hero I ever knew, was being destroyed by Cancer. It began several years ago with Skin Cancer, something the doctors treated, and we assumed had cured. Then, last year the doctors diagnosed him with Prostate Cancer. Again, he went through treatment, and it seemed to be working.

Only, it wasn’t.

Somehow during the treatments the doctors missed the cancer that had spread to his brain, his lungs, and from what I understand into his heart.

None of this was discovered until after his death.

My father knew something was wrong.

I feel responsible.

Even though circumstances kept us apart the final months of his life, he made sure I knew he didn’t blame me.

I wish I didn’t blame myself.

Nothing that happened was within my control, and I know God has a plan for everyone. I don’t know what His plan is, but I know I need to trust in His will.

My father is in a better place, or at least I choose to believe that God has welcomed him home. He isn’t in pain anymore, and he can see and hear again. He can once again enjoy all the things he’d missed out on as his body broke down.

Yet, I can’t help but feel guilt. People tell me over and over that I’m not at fault, that he didn’t blame me. I just wish God would help me to believe that as well.

I need strength to get through this. I need not only understanding from those around me, but from myself as well.

LORD, I pray for strength and healing. Lift my spirit up, and bring peace to my soul. Heal me from the inside, and grant me the forgiveness I can’t seem to give myself.

Sare