Monday, November 30, 2015

The view from here

There are a LOT of things about this world that I don't understand.

I don't understand various pieces of clothing (formerly called unmentionables)...and the relative inability to cover what they were originally intended to cover due to a severe lack of yardage.

I don't understand this:



















Or this:












(Those would KILL me...I would break my neck, or my leg, or both!)

I don't understand a lot of WHYs:
why cats ignore their owners,
why people hurt each other,
why bosses treat employees unfairly,
why people think they are above the laws,
why people throw away relationships.

I don't understand people who enjoy math.
I also don't understand people who think risk-taking is fun.
Or gambling.
Or smoking.
Or politics.

I will admit that my point of view on a lot of things (pretty much everything!) is colored by how I was raised.  That's not something that is new or novel.  Every one of us sees things through different lenses, based on where we were born, who our parents are, the setting in which we were raised, the people with whom we experienced life, the education we have received, and any number of other things that have influenced us.

Because I know that NO ONE has the same perspective I have, I try to see things the way others may see them.  In order to do that, I have to ask questions, do my research, get to know the people, and learn about their perspective. Those pieces of research are not always easy.  They take time, and effort, and actually caring that others may see things differently.  I can't do the research quickly (though Google has been *quite* helpful in that regard!), so while I am still learning, I have to control myself...I have to teach myself NOT to react, but to wait until I have learned.

The funny thing about doing all of this is that when I go into a situation wanting to learn about others' perspectives, my perspective has a chance to change, given the new information.  If I take the time to walk in someone else's shoes, to carry their burdens, to learn about their struggles, my perspectives on them changes....I am more able to be empathetic, and loving, and kind, and to extend the grace to them I hope they would also extend to me in a similar situation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Compliment, or not?

Have you ever received what you THOUGHT was a compliment, and later realized that it was said in a way that couched an insult (falsely) as a compliment?

Southerners often will say "Bless his/her heart" to mean that the subject is an idiot, or completely clueless, or a hot mess.

There are plenty of other examples of this type of false compliment...."You sure are pretty...if only you dressed the part."  "You're a great player...if only you won some games."  "You're looking GREAT...but you'd look better if...."

There is a term for this, a backhanded compliment, or a lefthanded compliment.

No matter how it is labeled or couched, an insult is hurtful.  It is rude.  It is unbecoming of people who call themselves Believers.

So, when you are presented with/insulted using a backhanded compliment, how do you respond?

Usually, it takes me a while to recognize the insult...which is often the intent, so that the one doing the insulting is well out-of-range when the realization dawns.

My response after I see it is what I am questioning.  My normal first response is ANGER.  Not only was I insulted, but I was also tricked, and I MAD at the person, and at myself.  I am mad at myself for actually thanking the person for their supposed compliment, and I am mad at that person for their rudeness, and the residual hurt.

What I want to know is how to deal with this type of insult?

Do I confront the person?  Do I just drop it?  What if there is a pattern of this happening with a particular person?  What if that person is a family member?

What would be the best response?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's Embarrassing....

...and humiliating, and just plain HARD.

I really HATE writing posts like my Christmas Wishlist post.  It feels to me like I am begging.  Like I am whiny, and ungrateful, and needy, and really just want everyone to gimme gimme gimme.  Which is the FURTHEST from the truth.

We have been there.  We have received the Toys for Tots gifts, and those ones from people at church who donate to some underprivileged child listed on a slip they got off the Christmas tree in the lobby. And while we were grateful for that help, it's EMBARRASSING.

That year we got the Toys for Tots presents...I felt horribly guilty.  Because I felt like we were taking stuff from people who REALLY needed it.  When in all honesty, we were exactly who the program was intended for...parents struggling and not being able to put presents out for their children at Christmas.  

The year we got the gifts from the good-hearted people at our church...it was HUMILIATING.  Not that we weren't grateful for the clothes and toys, because we WERE.  But because we thought others needed the stuff so much more than we did.

The sad thing is that we are a military family...a SENIOR ENLISTED family.  One of those families that *SHOULD* be able to be giving back to the other military families who are just starting out.

And yet:

  • The military just moved us to a state we didn't ask to move to.  A state that is a VERY expensive place to live.  
  • We had to sell our house in another state because we couldn't afford to maintain two residences.  We lost a LOT of money on that short-sale.  
  • We make on the VERY low end of not-poverty-level for this state. 
  • We moved before I was able to complete my hours to become licensed so I could easily find work in my newly-graduated field.  So now I am having a HARD time finding work because I don't have a license.  
  • EVERYTHING is more expensive here.  EVERYTHING.  
  • The raise my husband gets every year...does NOT cover the rising cost of living, nor does it cover the difference between what we were able to live on in the other state and the VERY expensive place we currently live.    
My husband is a brilliant man.  He is working on his 5TH Masters Degree...all of which he has done while active duty in the Navy.  He could be doing almost anything else, and making more money than the military is paying him.  He has tried to go into the Chaplaincy.  He is too old for the Air Force and Army, and the Navy keeps changing the rules and requirements...so just when he meets one, they add something new.  It's exasperating.

So, while this post is not supposed to be about money, in reality, it IS.  Because it is EMBARRASSING to have to tell your children repeatedly that you can't afford something...and you hope they don't get the idea to hate the military, or God because of how deprived they have been.  And it is HUMILIATING to not be able to participate in activities or to have to ask for help in order to participate, because everything requires money.  And it is HARD to keep doing this for years on end, seeing no end in sight, because people who don't understand what it is to live the military lifestyle are the ones in charge of our paychecks.  And THAT is exasperating.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas Wishlist

I don't think I have *ever* actually written a list of what I want for Christmas.

As a child, I think I figured I would just be disappointed because I wouldn't get what I wanted.

As an adult, finances have never been really fluid, and besides, gifts for my kids ALWAYS come first.

But, this year I thought I'd write something to help out.  Because how can people get me what I want, unless they KNOW?!?

In that vein, my list:

  1. I want my son to be able to come up to visit. 
  2. I want to go a WEEK without some type of drama. 
  3. I want enough money to grocery shop, without having to rob Peter to pay Paul.
  4. I want to actually be able to decorate for Christmas...which means I need a tree. 
  5. I want to be able to give gifts...to my kids and my husband, and my parents (and maybe my siblings and their spouses, too!), and my inlaws. And our amazing neighbors.  And maybe the kids' teachers (never been able to afford that, so that's an extra).  
  6. I want a job.  (You can find me on LinkedIn.  I can also send out my resume. Really.)
  7. I want to be able to pay for my daughter's field trip, and the other daughter's college application, and the other daughter's grad school application.
  8. I want to be able to get the glasses that 2 of my children desperately need.  
  9. I want to be able to go to a Christmas play, or musical, or something put on by children, that is NOT secularized.  I LOVE watching little kids reenact a nativity scene!! 
  10. I want to dress up, and go to some kind of adult party.  
Now, in reality, I don't know that any of these will happen before January.  December is ALWAYS a hard month.  And 3 of my children are working in a mall over the holidays, so they'll be BUSY...and the son I want a visit from is working TWO jobs, so I'm not sure how he'd be able to take off the time.

I also recognize that I am likely to be chided for this post, considering that YESTERDAY was Thanksgiving Day.  Ahem.  I am really pulling at straws to find things for which to be thankful...I don't need any help with the always-present guilt-complex.

Frankly, my disappointment with the holiday season started a bit early this year, and I'm cynical enough to doubt that it's going to change much in the next month.  I'm open to being proven wrong...just realistic enough to recognize that I probably won't be.

You will notice that I am NOT asking for THINGS for me.  *I* don't need anything (except the job...I REALLY need the job!).  I have SO VERY MUCH.  What I am asking for is things that will help reduce my stress level, and that of my husband, and will make my family happy.  Why? Because THAT is what I want to give to my family this year.  I want to give them a great start to 2016.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Connection and the Internet

I know that a lot of people bemoan the advent of social media, and blame it for all kinds of disconnectedness.


I see the memes going around on Facebook.

I don't believe them.

Oh, I do think that people are less connected, in some form or another.  I just don't blame it on social media or cell phones or the internet.

Admittedly, my perspective is a bit different than most.  I thoroughly enjoy my social media accounts.  I laugh along with all of the cat memes and the dog-shaming pictures.  The cute animal videos get me every time.  Don't get me started on the military reunion videos.  There WILL be tears.

I DID have a MySpace page, back-in-the-day.  
I used to instant message with my grandmother on AOL.  

Now, I have a few different accounts, and love them all for various reasons...but sometimes I feel overwhelmed, also for a variety of reasons.  

As a military spouse, and a mom with children in other places, I use my social media accounts to keep in touch with people.  

I have friends all around the world, and I can keep in touch with them, and know very quickly that prayer is needed, and how to pray intelligently.  

I use my accounts to network.  
For trying to find a job. 
For help with recipes.
For help with children. 
For help with cars, and moving, and pets, and finding a new hairdresser in a new town.  

But more than all of that....

Social media helps me feel connected.  
I grew up feeling disconnected from EVERYONE.  
Some days, I still do.  

Through the use of social media, I can more easily maintain connections with important friends from old duty stations.  

I can keep up with what is going on with my sister in Savannah, my cousins near Atlanta and Asheville, my brothers in South Carolina, my aunt and uncle in California, and my friends in churches we have attended in South Carolina, Texas, Montana, Virginia, Massachusetts, and other places that they have spread out to.  

I can rejoice with friends from college when they welcome a spouse, a child, or a grandchild.

I can weep with the friends who are weeping over a loss...of a child, a spouse, a parent, a pet, or a job.  

I have been able to find friends who I have not been able to be in contact with in years.  

So, please remember that while YOU may be frustrated with the drama you see on your social media, others may welcome it, and may be using that exact drama as a tool to help them pray, and to connect with others.  

 PS.  I still don't want to see your political posts, no matter how much I want to stay connected with you.  I just don't *do* politics.  

Happy Birthday, Dear Wawer!!

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler
18 Years ago, this amazing person entered my life.  
I am ever-so-thankful to be her mother, and I am excited to see what God has in store for her! 


She is colorful and fun.

Photo credit:  Heather Paxton 


She is friendly, even when it's hard for her, and is especially sensitive to others who are hurting. 


Photo Credit: Heather Paxton 


She is creative.  
She IS Batman.  

Photo Credit: Heather Paxton
Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

Photo credit:  Jimmy Sadler

She's a SENIOR, and I am NOT ready for that.  

I love you, my Wawer!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Am I being punished?

Some days I feel like the world dislikes me a LOT.

Not because I am a Christian, though there seems to be an air of suspicion around that.



Rather, I feel like a child being punished for things I cannot change.

I feel punished for placing the care of my small children in front of getting a degree and having a career.

I feel punished for finishing my Master's Degree in my 40s, and trying to start out in my career field at this "advanced" age.

I feel punished for moving many times, going where my husband is sent by the military.

I feel punished because having a "later" start on my career means that things are tighter financially than they "should be" for someone my age.

I feel punished for not having a relationship with my mother.

I feel punished for not being an extrovert.

I feel punished for my PTSD symptoms.

Reading back through this, I see that I feel punished for being me, for *not* being who others think I should be, and for a myriad of things over which I have never had any control.

I *KNOW* that punishing me is not the intent of anyone.  However, being marginalized because of my age, because of my gender, because of my status as a military wife and mother, because of my traumas, and because of my personality really feels like an unending set of blows from which I am having trouble recovering.

Honestly, I know that somehow God is teaching me something through all of this, and that HE will work it all out in His timing...and because I know that, all of this is a challenge, but is not insurmountable.

I just have to remember that while I'm in the thick of it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Underneath the "nice" Laura

Inside of me there is all kinds of not-so-nice stuff.

Very few people actually SEE the junk.

Like many (I suspect), I am very good at hiding the *real* me.

I smile when I'd rather cry.

I laugh when I'd rather scream.

I beat myself up when I am tempted to lash out.

I dress nicely, wear makeup, fix my hair, make small talk, all when I would rather be somewhere else, doing something different, away from people altogether.

The not-so-nice Laura breaks things, and swears, and screams mean names at people (and animals), and hits, and hurts, and really doesn't like herself.  It has been a lot of years since the not-so-nice Laura has escaped the confines where she is buried, but make no mistake - - she IS still there.  There is a lot of rage buried deep inside, and frustration, and too much hurt, and humiliation, and fear in there, too, and some days it feels like all of nasty, festering junk is pushing at the confines, and I am sure it is going to escape.

The ugly under-side of me is as much a part of me as is the nicely dressed mom at church, or the busy mom-playing-taxi-driver, or the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer.

A painful part of this is that too often believers say that my "self" should be gone...after all, I have accepted the forgiveness provided through Jesus' death and resurrection.  When people say those things to me, there is an unsaid expectation that I am not allowed to talk about my ugly side, because it should be GONE.  After all, I have been a believer for more than 30 years...I should have released them a long time ago.

And yet...I HAVE been a believer for more than 30 years.  AND all of the ugly IS still there.

Some days I wonder why.

Is there more I need to *DO*?  I don't think so.  After all, Scriptures make it very clear that my salvation is by FAITH, not works, and nothing I can DO, and nothing anyone else can DO will take me out of the hands of God.

Another question arises...is this the result of my PTSD?  Frankly, since I don't know life aside from PTSD, I couldn't say whether or not this is a direct consequence of my PTSD, and thus can be logically blamed on the source of the PTSD.  I just don't know if this is a struggle I would have even without my diagnosis.

I DO know that some days I struggle to keep my anger under wraps.
I DO know that some days all of my inherent negativity wants to spill over on everyone in my life.
I DO know that some days all I want to do is curl up in my bed, and drink until I can't remember anything.
I DO know that some days peopleing/adulting is the hardest thing in the world.

I also know that QUIT, and GIVE UP are not part of my vocabulary.
I know that, even though I am exhausted, and grumpy, and tired, tomorrow morning I will get up, and get my kids out the door to school, and I will do the things, and I will be a friend, and a parent, and a spouse, even though I want to sleep, or drink, or eat all the sugar.  I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing the things God gives me to do, being the person I am convinced He wants me to be, and trusting that HE will take care of all of that nasty stuff down inside of me, trying to force its way out.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My story

My story is MINE.  

It probably doesn't make a lot of sense to people who are not in my head.  Pieces of my story probably seem out of place, if you haven't been part of my life since the beginning of the story.  But, my story explains who I am, and how I got to where I am.  

My story is COMPLICATED.  

The pieces of my story are many and varied, like the different colored strings in a piece of tapestry.  Viewed from the back, or unfinished, or only a small piece, each piece may not seem to fit with the rest of my story...but God is the master-designer/weaver/artist, and He knows what the final picture will look like.  

My story is a WORK IN PROGRESS.  

I don't know the end of my story.  There is no way any other human can know the end of MY story.  Only the Designer knows what He has in store for me.  I can only trust Him to be designing something of beauty to Him, and work with the strings He has given me.  

I have been reading Brene' Brown's Rising Strong, and watching some of her videos, and one thing that has struck me is the importance of each person's story.  Not just the story that is polished for public consumption, but the internal story that is tied to their perception of the world around them, and the meaning they make of the events in their lives.  

In light of that, and the continued urging of a few, I am going to work on writing down pieces of my story.  I don't want to lose things that God has woven into my life because my memory gets fuzzy.  I want to be able to tell my children "look what God did here."  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Retreating

I have determined that this weekend I am going to retreat.










The dictionary defines the word retreat as:


1.
the forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed
force before an enemy, or the withdrawing of a naval force from action.
2.
the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.
3.
a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy:
The library was his retreat.
4.
an asylum, as for the insane.
5.
a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.

Right now, I am withdrawing for a time from engaging in public interaction.
I am finding my place of retreat.
I am going to retire to my place of retreat, and I am going to engage in a different type of engagement.  
I need to spend time with my family.
I need to spend time with my Lord.
I need to *not* be concerned with engaging the "enemy".

So, if you need me, I'll be drinking a cup of tea in the blanket fort, coloring and singing with my children.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inspiration

This week I had the most amazing counseling session.

I really love my counselor.
It had been three weeks since I saw her, due to travel for my grandmother's memorial service, and holidays, and others' schedules.

I was dealing with a lot.
Grief.
Pain.
Frustration.
Anger.
Anxiety.
Life.

As I sat with her, this beautiful woman, and worked on my stuff, I was given a vision of a piece of art, something I MUST make come to life.  Today, 3 days later, it is as fresh as it was sitting in her chair.

The concept is one of allowing the Healer to do His work in me.
It is simple.
It is HARD.
It is a work in progress.

Can't wait to share it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How does one grieve a relationship that never was?

I realized today (with the help of my therapist) that I AM grieving right now.

I am grieving the relationship I will not be able to have with my grandmother.  The relationship that was denied by years of my parents not allowing us to spend time with their parents.  The relationship impeded by distance, both geographically and emotionally.  The relationship clouded by the lies and misunderstandings of years of hurt on both sides, never explained to the children we were, or to the adults we became.

I am also grieving the relationship I have never had with my mother, and which became even more clear to me over the past month, will never happen.  I grieve the painful, incomplete, one-sided forgiveness for abuses heaped-on.  I grieve the human frailty that denies any chance at reconciliation.  I grieve the ravages of disease on a once-brilliant mind.  I grieve the loss of opportunity for my children to connect with this grandmother.

Yes, I am grieving.  I actually cried today for the first time since learning that Grandma had passed away...frankly, it was a relief to cry.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Two-week Recap

These last two weeks have been FULL.

BRIEFLY:

  • Oct. 24, my last living grandparent died.  
  • Oct. 31, I was up at 3:00 a.m. after 2 hours of sleep, flew to Charlotte, NC, where I was picked up by my in-laws.  I unloaded and repacked Frances' car, drove to Columbia, put 200 pounds more of her stuff into the car, went to the church's block party, drove back out to the house, unloaded and repacked some more, and finally collapsed into bed at about 9:00 p.m. 
  • Nov. 1, I went to church with my inlaws, saw friends, and did final rearranging of the car.  
  • Nov. 2, I packed up and drove to Black Mountain, NC, and went to Grandma's memorial, after which there was a reception at the church, and then a family gathering at my aunt's church across the mountain in Old Fort.  After that, I got to hang out with my aunts and uncles and some extended family for the evening.  
  • Nov. 3, I met up with my friend Brenda, from middle school and high school years...and had dinner with Kathleen, a friend from Bible college days, and after dinner got back in the car and started driving...stopping for the night in northern Virginia.  
  • Nov. 4, I finally arrived home around 4:00 pm.  


***************************

 Grandma Lucile Ratchford Hestir was an amazing woman.










Known as "Lucy", Grandma received degrees from the University of Texas and from Purdue University.  She worked as an aeronautical engineer, inspecting planes for release for combat duty in World War II.  She served as the Director of Personal Faith and Family Life for the Board of Women's Work of the Presbyterian Church U.S.  She finished her career acting as Volunteer Coordinator for the Texas State Department of Human Resources.

 She was mother to 4 children.
Grandmother to 7...I am the oldest.
Great-grandmother to 8.

She was a strong leader in a time when women were supposed to be homemakers.
She outlived her son Brent, and her husband, Bluford "Blue", as well as her twin sister, Louise.

The celebration of her life was on November 2, 2015, at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church.

**********************************

I was able to be at Grandma's memorial service, and to spend some time with the extended family, which was really good.  I was also able to catch up with some friends in the area, and then began the trip back to Massachusetts, driving my daughter's car, which was loaded down with many of her belongings.

I arrived back home on Wednesday afternoon, and welcomed a visit with a wonderful friend from Bible college days, Marcie Gustafson.  Marcie was able to stay with us for almost a week, during which time we were able to see the movie "Poverty, Inc.", and go see a very good rendition of the opera The Marriage of Figaro, put on by the Treble Chorus of New England's "Hands on Opera!"  We were also able to catch up on where Marcie is ministering these days (Durban, South Africa), and what God is doing there.  We were sad to see her go, but look forward to keeping in touch!

This week has been one of rest with spurts of craziness, including work for the two older girls, play practice and opening night for Justin, band practice and a football game for the marching band, a day off of work and school on Wednesday for Veteran's Day, and trying to catch up on laundry, email, and other errands.