Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Challenges and Gifts

Okay, I promised my Facebook connections a "revised" perspective today on the challenges we've been facing in our move out here.  I have to admit, it is so easy to get caught up in the stress and struggles of living out of a suitcase, moving to stay with different friends and family and then moving again, while waiting for our house to close and then be fixed up "a little" so we can at least flush the toilets, take a shower, not have wood-rotten boards drop on heads, not look through holes in walls, and lock the doors. There are many other even bigger projects that will also need to happen and my awareness of that fact is also stressful as I wonder how long (and how much money!) it will take to really make the house feel like "home", especially for my children who were pretty despairing at the condition of the house when they were finally able to see it.  It is easy to worry about the fact that I will be paying two mortgages for who knows how long (since no one appears even slightly interested in our house in Ohio), and it appears I will need to home-school my high-schooler, which means losing her "advanced standing" placement at school, etc. Beginning a new job in a new community is always a challenge all in itself. And I've been disappointed to discover that the gossip mill in the larger Presbytery (because even pastors, apparently, cannot always resist the attraction of gossip: Ugh!!)  has taken the story of my family's struggles and enlarged and morphed it into something unrecognizable and even more horrific than what actually happened, and that as a result, what I hoped would be a "new start" for my kids and myself has in fact thrown us back into the hell we experienced 4 1/2 years ago as if it were a brand new thing (which, since it's unrecognizable, it is a new thing). Additionally, because of that seeming need to create, expand and somehow "touch" drama, a couple friendships that I counted on are strained, and connections I had every expectation of having for my kids cannot be renewed in a couple cases.  In other words, things are hard. Still. Again.

I am aware, though, of the need once again to choose perspective.  I talk about framing all the time. How we frame the events of our lives is so incredibly important. I also have the words of my dear friend, Anneke, who did not grow up here in the US constantly going through my head, "Americans expect life to be easy, and they think the purpose of life is to be happy. And because of that, the normal events of each day are way too hard and upsetting for many Americans and they let those events make them unhappy.  People in other countries don't have those expectations.  And as a result, they are much happier because they appreciate and are grateful for the things that go well and that DO come easily as unexpected gifts.  And they take the things that are hard as just par for the course, and they don't let those things get them down."  And I also keep thinking about the wonderful book "The Beethoven Factor" by Paul Pearsall which talks about how some people respond to trauma by becoming victims, others respond by becoming survivors and still others thrive through their traumas, grow and become deeper, more real, more full human beings.  Those who thrive still feel down at times, but they don't let themselves be defeated or become bitter, cynical or opt out of life because of their past.  They live in the present fully, wholly and with increasing commitment.  They laugh hard, cry hard, play hard, and pray hard.

So, with all of that in mind, I am striving with all the stress and questions and disappointments to change my perspective once again.  Living in different houses is an adventure.  Right now, all four of us are camped out in a single room at a friend's house.  It's kind of fun, to be honest, to all sleep in the same room and have cable TV (something we don't usually have), and watch movies together and be in the same place at night.  I often would wake up in our old house when I would hear a noise, worried about the kids and how they were.  But being in the same room, I know how they are at any minute. We are meeting a wonderful new community of people, who are awesome and loving and supportive. The number of people who have responded to my 'cry for help' post on Facebook about Jasmyn's schooling has touched and moved me. The number of people who have offered us a place to stay for the night has also been a real gift. While there have been disappointments with folk, there has also been a continuing amazing community of care here for me and the kids. My experience at DMV was so much easier than I expected (Go figure!! the one place I expected things to be hard wasn't. Thanks be to God!). My kids are getting to spend a lot of time with grandparents, which has been good for them - to remember the importance of family and to depend on those loving relationships to see them through. The blue sky and sun have been incredible.  Driving through these hills once again just fills me with a sense of God's amazing hand at work in continued creation.  The sunsets have been beyond compare.  Connecting with friends and community has meant so much to me. And the benefit of Jasmyn being home schooled is that I will have a lot of special time with a very special girl for another year. She will soon be growing away from me. That is the normal path of teenagers and I expect it.  A little more special time with her will be a gift. It's all about perspective. And staying in the moment.  Each moment.  Each day.  I am thankful for the gifts of this day.  And I hope to learn from the challenges and to grow through them once more.  Gratitude helps a lot.

So for today I am grateful for friends, family, church community, sunshine, warmth, chocolate (of course!), opportunities to learn and grow, my relationship with a loving God, and of course, my three lovely children,