Monday, January 19, 2015

Living Without

What are the things you want most in life but feel you are living without? I overhear people talk about wanting that new designer purse, buying the latest alternative fuel sports car (costing over $100,000), or taking that fabulous vacation with the family. What is it that you cannot live without?  What would make your life so complete that happiness and bliss are with you all the time?

I am living without the one person that I have loved the most in my life.  Yes, I love my children and that love cannot be matched.  Even though I do not have the love of my life, I do not live without love.  I am so blessed to have support in my life of my children, my family, my community and mostly my friends.  I have to thank those that are always with me to listen to my whining when I feel I lack something.  I thank those that love me with all my warts, bad habits, and short temper. I thank the friend that moved my old printer from the third floor to my van.  I thank the friend that bought me a ticket to the movies because I was running late.  I thank the friends that sat with me after surgery to be sure I would be OK.  I am most thankful for those ladies that walk with me and talk with me on a weekly basis.  It is great for the body and the soul.  And that one special friend that helped me understand that I have this love in my life because I am sharing that love first. 

I realized this past week that we have passed the mark where my youngest daughter, Katie, has now lived more of her life without her father than the time with him. It has been five and half years and Katie was five years and five months old when Peter died.  That realization impacts me more than it does her because she only knows this life.  My oldest child, Emma, said recently something that helped me realize how the kids view this loss.  She said, "It is not that I miss having Daddy not being a part of my life now, but that I feel bad that he is the one missing out." It was such an insightful and smart thing for her to say. 

A few years ago, I helped facilitate a book study at church, and asked a very important question at one session as we were discussing the death of my husband and my best friend.  "Think of the worst thing that can happen in your life."  As I looked around I could see that each person was thinking of their worst nightmare.  I know they were envisioning the loss of their spouse or a child.  But what I said next had the most impact, "Now imagine you have lost your faith!"                           

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolution.

1. The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. The act of resolving something
2. An answer or solution to something
3. The ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail

Many of us make New Year's resolutions at this time each year.  Do we stick with what we say we want to change? Most choose health related actions like losing weight, starting a new workout program, or eating a diet rich in nutrients and consuming less alcohol, sugar and fast food. I love to hear of those that choose more cerebral changes like reading more books and watching less television, spending more quality time with family, especially children and of course my favorite, cursing less. This one is high on my list!

But what about making a resolution to focus on our spiritual life? I live this one each day and I am always looking for ways to keep Christ centered in my life and in turn the lives of those around me.  There are several things I do to keep this in my daily actions.  I read a devotion each morning and night (a simple app you can add to your phone). I pray often, especially for those that request prayers from our church prayer group, Partners In Prayer, which I facilitate. (If you are interested in being added to this daily prayer group, email me at pip@stmcary.org.) Contemporary Christian music plays in my car often as my favorite XM channel is The Message, channel 63. I also listen carefully to the voices around me that offer a glimpse of Christ in our midst.  What we say and do can bring faith to those who have none.

Making these resolutions can seem daunting when we look at the huge chunk of time such as a deadline or a goal.  My choice this year is to see Christ more clearly in my life each day. Day by day.

And you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWQEUzOACm4

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Crying in the shower...

It is such a relief to be able to just let it all go when you are showering.  No one can hear if you are sobbing, sniffing, or just wailing with sorrow.  It is so convenient too that the tears and the snot just run down the drain!

It has been many months since I had the courage to write anything on my blog.  Not that I haven't had anything to say, but I have had a time of a creative desert. My life got mired with the detail of changing the kid's diet, and the rest of the family's diet, for celiac disease.  Going gluten free is much easier these days, but still very expensive.  And what the experts don't talk about is the emotional and psychological impact that the disease can have. Even though it is just Emma and Sam that need to go gluten free, nut free and dairy free, everyone in the family has been impacted. At any given day there have been battles over food and that is last thing I expected in my life. Another reason for crying in the shower.

My frustrations in life got the better of me and I made the decision in February that because I could not change any of the situations in my life, I would need to change.  And so I took on the task of appreciating every day.  It is not easy to get up every day and say, "This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it."  It is easy to say it but not always easy to live it.  But it is just like practicing your faith.  Each day can be a stepping stone to building that faith muscle and in turn that ability to find joy even in the most trying situations.

With the holidays approaching it is tricky to navigate the balance of Christmas and Christ.  Peter loved Christmas and all of the trappings of decorations and gifts.  I was always the Scrooge, not wanting to celebrate the material side of Christmas but keeping our focus on Christ. But I find now that going through the motions of the traditions keeps Peter's Christmas enthusiasm alive and our Christmas joy will be what we make of it. 

As many of you will also experience your own roller coaster of emotions this holiday due to the loss of someone you love, the loss of a job, or just the desert of your faith journey, know that as a baby was born to change our world, He can change yours too.

Love,

Teresa

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Run Away.

There are so many times in my journey of caring for my husband during his battle with pancreatic cancer and then the devastating reality of facing life without him, that I have wanted to run away.  Where would I go?  What would I do?  How would my kids react?  Start over?  Clean slate?

I remember, and most of you will have a similar story, of a time when I was about 8.  I was mad at my mom but I couldn't tell you why.  I remember going to my room and packing a few things in my kerchief and tying it to a stick.  I must have gotten the idea from an old "Little Rascals" episode.  We only had four channels back then and that was possible because of the 50 foot antenna attached to the back of the house.  We lived about 1/1/2 miles outside a very small town in Indiana.  Corn and bean fields surrounded our property and cows were left to graze in the open field beyond our back fence.  I had the perfect get away plan.  But how would I let my mom know that I was mad, intended to run away, but still have her attention to notice I was gone and beg me to come home? 

Once Peter died, there would be no one to beg me to come back if I decided to "run away".  As adults we make our choices and people respect our decisions.  But as I have formulated plans to sell it all and move to a remote village in Belize, I realize my decisions affect so many other people.  It was the same when Peter was sick.  Sometime the stress, hopelessness and despair of our situation would bring me to the point of saying out loud, "I see why people leave in this situation."  No one should have to go through this hell.  But we both gracefully and faithfully took the journey together for our kids, families, and the legacy of what the future would be for us.  And now I walk that journey alone. 

Running away is never the answer unless it is to save yourself from certain peril.  But running to something is an appealing thought.  When we are faced with horrible or even mildly annoying situations, we always have the choice to run to something new and leave the past behind as a memory.  I have not chosen my something new yet but I definitely like the idea of exploring my options.

Peace and love for a happy, healthy and prosperous year.  Follow me as I explore what will be next.

Love,

Teresa

Friday, December 6, 2013

An Act of Love.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I took the kids to see "Frozen",  the new Disney animated movie.  We had been waiting for the release date and thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the experience of seeing a feature film with a large crowd.  It was a richer experience to hear other's responses and reactions to the movie.  It is rare that we go to the movies, because even with the coupons I had, the whole evening cost over $40 for the four of us. 

The part that struck me about this movie was I thought it would be the same Princess and Prince Charming story as it started to unfold.  However, at the end, just as we thought the act of love that would solve the issue would be "True love's kiss", there was a different twist.  It was the sisters' love that saved them in the end. I was so heartened because I am so concerned having girls that they will fall into that trap of thinking they need a man in their lives to "save" or "rescue" them.

The flip side of that concept is that I realize as a single parent, I am not able to show my children the loving, cooperative, and supportive situation that a married couple creates in the family.  How will my children know what marriage is like?  They are surrounded by other people that are married, but it is not the same knowing and understanding that can come from living with it every day.  What example am I showing my children by being single?  A strong faithful servant of God?  A frazzled working parent trying to juggle work, household chores, volunteering, aging parents, and kids' activities?  A lonely woman looking for that "rescue"?  I know they have had the vision of all three scenarios because life is never the same in my house. 

What I do hope I can do is share what my marriage was like by showing videos, looking at pictures and retelling the stories of our lives.  I waited a long time to get married because I wasn't waiting for Prince Charming.  I was waiting for the right person to enter my life that I could truly love, share similar interests and build a life, family and future.  Now that he is gone, my future is up to me.

The possibilities are wide open.  And I only hope I can be the Act of Love for my children.  That is the example I want to set for them.  Then they can be the Act of Love for someone else in their life.

Peace and love,

Teresa

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pairing Off

Happy Thanksgiving to all today!  As it has been in the past, I feel very alone on a holiday and this time I was so surprised that I started feeling that loneliness Tuesday.  I stopped at Peter's stone after school mass because I always do.  The students and teachers were filing by me and some stopped to say a prayer with me.  I had thought throughout mass how this would be the fifth Thanksgiving without Peter.  That feeling hit me so hard and I have felt stuck since then.  I kept functioning at a minimum because I had work to finish, laundry, grocery shopping, writing and editing to do, crème brulee to make, and the Thanksgiving meal to plan and prepare (all gluten-free!).  But I did take a lot of hours to just lay in my bed, with that nauseous feeling and I wished that I were not alone.

The world expects everyone to  pair off.  Since the days of Adam and Eve and Noah's ark, life goes on by two. So when you are alone, especially at the holidays, that lack of a partner stings even more.  I was single for so many years of my life before I met Peter and we had a family of our own.  I was so lucky to have a family to go to for every holiday.  And we always invited extended family and friends that didn't have a place to go.  Some great memories I have of Thanksgiving were those spent with my grandparents and we used Helen's dishes today.  Such a sweet thought that Emma wanted to use those today.  I also have great memories of Thanksgiving with Peter and my favorite was when we spent the holiday at Disney World. We had a fabulous meal, prepared by someone else, and the weather was so great we ate our meal outdoors in shorts!

It has been a deja vu experience lately being single when I have been out with friends.  I had dinner recently with two couples and I was the fifth wheel. I did not mind that at all but what was evident is how the world views this phenomenon of everyone being a "pair".  All five of us were finally seated and the waiter came up to us and said, "Are we waiting on another one?"  I wanted to say, "We will be waiting for eternity!"  I know there are a lot of people that do not have the perfect pairing and would like their situation to be different.  But we each have to reconcile what our life looks like and figure out how to navigate what will happen next.

I am sure there will be many holidays yet to face alone and maybe eventually I won't feel so alone. It will get easier or God will bless me with a new pairing?

Love to all,

Teresa

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The F word.

"We do not use the F word in this house!", I said emphatically, stressing each word.  It's not what you think.  It happened at dinner the other night that Sam said, "Fat."  It is just as bad as the curse word I know you all had in mind.  Depending on how it is said, "Fat" can be hurtful or playful.  The discussion was a rehash of an exchange between Sam and Emma a few days prior.  He called Emma fat.  I am sure it was in retaliation for something she said or did.  You can understand the sibling rivalry that exists between these two, especially because they are so close in age. I know my sister and I had epic fights, including hitting, scratching and pulling of hair.  And because my nickname as a toddler was Tubby Teresa, "Fat" was a word I heard a lot in my life. (Husky was another one because I was so muscular, but we are concentrating on F words). 

I wanted to make it clear that we will not use that F word. The reaction from each family member was very different.  Emma was snippy in her telling of the exchange. Sam was sorry he had resorted to such a low blow.  Katie was oblivious, as she is on many topics because she is busy reading a book.  Dad made no comment, but mom's reaction was the one I did not want to perpetuate.  She said, "You can call me fat because I am!"  Labels are given to so many of us and those are carried in our psyche our whole lives.  So let's think of more positive labels.

Better F Words.

Family - those people we love always, even when we may not like them all the time.

Friends - people we hold dear to our hearts for being there through thick and thin.

Fling - recapture that feeling you had with your spouse when you first fell in love. Or if you are single do something for yourself exceptionally decadent (mine is dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt!)

Fabulous - just like the gluten-free waffles I made this morning because I took the time to beat the egg whites to soft peaks and folded them into the batter.

Fudge - enough said!

Fun - keep the laughter in your life. It really helps during the rough times.

Forever - what we can look forward to in our life everlasting.

Father - God, my Father blessing me every day.

Faith - something we can all keep in mind as our daily lives unfold, positive or negative.

Think of your own F words that can be positive and uplifting.

Peace and Love,

Teresa