Thursday, December 1, 2011

Infected "Shoulds"

It started quietly enough. I told myself I was brand-new married. I should be happy. And so I told everyone I was. Now, don't get me wrong, there's no problems in my marriage. My husband is amazing. I have everything I need. And that is exactly why I should be happy.

And then it turned into I should be a better wife/mother/church-goer/friend, etc. And I saw those aspirations slowly get further and further away. Not because they were moving, but because every time I used the word should, I would take a step back. My shoulds would get more infected. Each time I told myself I should be doing something, it meant I WASN'T doing it, or at least that I didn't want to. And I'd beat myself up about it, feeding the infection. I should go help this person, who was having a hard time. I should fulfill my obligations. I should have a clean house. I should have time for all of this. I should cook dinner. I should be nicer to my husband and daughter. I should not let that bother me. I should be stronger. I should know better. I should stop letting all of this get to me. I should, I should I should.

And then it got so bad, it was physical. My stomach has hurt for at least a month straight. It doesn't calm down if I eat, it doesn't calm down if I baby it. The thought of eating has repulsed me. And then I tell myself I should eat, make myself, still feel sick, but at least I'm getting some nutrition. Kind of. It's usually easier to convince myself to eat junk. But at first, I thought that was the whole problem. So I focused solely on making sure there was good nutritious stuff to eat. And I still felt sick. And it got worse. I'd not only have a stomach ache, but my entire mid-section would be one big double-over-in-pain cramp.

I've had headaches, too. Not the debilitating kind, but the "I don't feel like my head belongs" kind. The tunnel kind.

I'd shower and still not feel fresh.

I'd cry uncontrollably and for no reason.

I thought for sure it must be hormonal. So we tested my thyroid. And it was all normal. I asked the doc what the problem could be, then, and she started the thought processes rolling. Said it sounded like anxiety. I promptly told her (as I should) that my life was not NEARLY as stressful as it's been, so if I could make it through that, this should be easy. But after I left her office, I made a mental note.

Things have been building up this past week an a half, to finally help me realize how far I am. And then we went roller-skating. Something that was a). out of my comfort zone, b). in a crowd of people c). with people I knew and I wanted to like me. And I fell. It didn't even hurt. I mean, yeah, I might have bruised my wrist and tailbone, and yeah, it was the wrist I injured when I was a kid, but I could tell it wasn't serious. Especially being the wrist I had previously injured. But the fall seriously put me in shock. A stupid little fall, and I was seeing everything in tunnel vision, it sounded like everyone was talking to me from the other end of said tunnel. And boy, was I light headed! Suddenly nothing mattered except sitting down. Getting off the rink and re-gaining control. And that fall suddenly made me aware of myself. I'm serious, that fall should have been nothing. But I can't deny the PHYSICAL impact it had on me. It WAS something. It was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back. Of course, no one noticed. I was still being the person I should have been.

But the person at the inside of the tunnel... she suddenly became aware of her situation. And that's why she did some self-evaluation. Hence why I've decided to get back to blogging. So that I can 1) Stop shoulding and start doing, and  2) so I can stop pretending to  be someone I'm not and embrace the imperfect, often "quirky" me. AND all my faults.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why My Mom Likes Thorns

I don't know what Mom was going through. I was only a kid. But as an adult, I look back, and I realize there must have been SOMETHING going on in her life, when she first came across this story. Otherwise, it would not have meant what it did and still does. 

For at least 15 years, but probably more, my mother has had a vase of dried, rose-less thorns sitting in a prominent place in her house. They're quiet and unobtrusive, but distinctly different, And if you ask her what they're doing there, she will tell you this story...

by: Author unknown

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

"She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder.

Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an air bag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, may I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her.

"I....I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving "Special?" asked the shop clerk. "I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi, Barbara...let me get your order."

She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses; Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said as she gently tapped her chest.

"Uh," stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with, uh....she just left with no flowers!"

"Right, said the clerk, "I cut off the flowers. That's the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on, you can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk, "and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

"Hey, Phil!" shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement...twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems," laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?"

"No...I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from "thorny" times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special."

I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life," Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too...fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment.

"I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?" Sarah asked.

"Nothing; nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:

"My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the life I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for your roses, thank him for your thorns.

Why I keep going on hiatus...

I LOVE blogging. It lets me express myself, it lets me write as much as I feel like writing. I can put it all out on the table and no one HAS to read it or listen to me, but they can if they want. They can also respond, and our friendship grows. I love the feedback (feeds my ego...) and the level of freedom writing gives. I can talk without interruption, a feat that rarely happens when  you have kids (and I only have one!) and even if I DO get interrupted (which also happens a LOT), I can get right  back into what I was saying without hte mommy blank stare while I try to remember what was going on... Plus, I can put my best foot forward. I can delete anything I didnt mean before I actually publish. I can make sure to speak well, say what I mean with power, and mean what I say. Sometimes I feel like a backwards Ether, I feel like I can write SO much better than I can speak. When I speak, I often say things I didnt mean. Or I meant them, I just didnt mean how they were implied. I'm also a hothead and writing gives me a chance to cool down a little before I say something foolish.

I still DO say foolish things, but just imagine what it would have been like BEFORE I relaxed a little.

So, if I love blogging so much, why do I go months at a time with nothing?

Because in order for me to write, I have to know why I'm writing. And I cant figure out exactly what I want this blog to be. I've been dealing with this "identity crisis" for a while now, and tried to solve it by asking questions about blogs by bloggers and blog readers. And I got 4 responses. The first one said I have such an influence for  good (which melted my heart, thanks, Kristin) and that I could use my blog to help and heal. And I LOVE that answer. That is definitely something I want in my blog. Then another said she struggled with the same questions. And a third said she liked her blogs private so that she knew her kids were safe, which I appreciate. I have often wondered if B's "other family" would use any information in the blog for ill-conceived notions, even if they're not so major. Which helped me to conclude that I want this blog to have very little to do with her daily activities. Just how she influences me. And the fourth, my friend Jessica was such a great help. She reiterated that blogs have such a power for good, and that she has made lifelong friends and had an impact on the world because of it.

but what do I really want in a blog?

I want to showcase my  crafts (more feeding my ego), I want to discuss things I've learned, be that influence for good, and say what needs to be said (which I think is the most important thing) and I want to keep those that know me personally updated in my life in a safe and secure way. I want to bring hope and light, I want to share the voice that God has given me in a way that doesn't scare people away but lets them look at themselves and love themselves. I want to save marriages and lives. I want to be that voice that someone needed to hear today. And if I blog, I allow myself to be heard much louder than I could otherwise. I want to fulfill the call presented by Sister Margaret D. Nadauld.

“The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity” (“The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 15).

 I dont want to be famous. But I do want to be where God can use me. I don't want to be brash. I want to be refined. I want to be an instrument for good.

But how? How do I use my blog to accomplish all those things? It's easy to say I like blogging and I want to use my blog for good. But actually TAKING UP the challenge is scary! Turning myself into someone that is really OUT there is scary. Writing about stuff on the SURFACE of personal is easy. But if I'm really going to be who I could be, if I'm really going to help, I cant stay on the surface of personal. I have to share the inner workings of my heart. I used to be so bold. But life has taught me caution. I used to be loud and outspoken, but life has taught me that to hold back is to not get hurt. Can I really do this now?

So the truth is... the hiatus... was because I'm a big chicken. I dont know what to say or how to say it to bring the world a little joy and strength. I dont know how to get over my fears of actually being what God needs. And I dont know what this means for me or my family.

But I think, for now, until I chicken out again, I'm ready to try...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why My Ring is a Pearl

My ring is a pearl. There's a reason behind it. Let me explain:

Jenny's Pearl Necklace
by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

Jenny was a bright-eyed, cheerful young girl. One day when she and her mother were checking out at the grocery store, Jenny saw a circle of glistening white plastic pearls in a pink foil box. They were priced at $2.50. She begged her mom to buy them, they were so beautiful!

Her mother looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl and said."If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and you can save enough money to buy them yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another dollar from Grandma." Jenny saved up and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, and all around the house. She treasured her pearls. But since they were just beads, eventually they got pretty worn down. Soon they were nothing but white beads on a worn string.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then may I have your pearls?"

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. These are my favorite, I love these pearls."

"That's okay, honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then will you give me your pearls?"

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper, if you want. But I love my pearls. You cant have my pearls."

"That's okay, Honey. Sleep well. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

This went on for quite a while, always with the same result, until one night as Jenny's Daddy came to read her a story, Jenny was sitting on her bed. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. When she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you. I know you love me, and you wouldn't ask for my pearls unless you needed them."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the prized necklace. He quietly left and when he came back, the other hand held a blue velvet case. He handed it to Jenny and told her, "Thank you for giving me your most prized possession. I know you even saved up for it all by yourself. Now, I have this for you also."

As Jenny pryed open the blue velvet box, so nice a thing itself she'd never known, the glistening white sheen of the rich genuine pearls struck her teary eyes.

Her daddy hugged her tight and said, "I needed to know you would take care of these. I needed to know you would keep these pearls nice. And now I know."

I remember when I was trying to make things work out with my ex, I called my mom one night and I said, "mom, what if this is like that stupid pearl story? What if God's just waiting to bless me when I'm ready to let go? But what if I don't WANT to let go? I already know what this is like, and I am okay with fake pearls. I don't want to let go.

And then when he left, I realized just how worn and chipped those plastic beads were. And how much I would have been missing.

And now... Now I have my real pearl.

My Most Favorite New Years Eve Ever. :c)

So the day before New Years Eve, Ranger calls me up and asks if I have plans for the day. I say no, I was sort of leaving that up to him. And he says good, we're going to go play in the snow. And wont give me more information.

Later on, he slips that we're going for a sleigh ride. I think it was on purpose because he knows I strongly dislike secrets. Or surprises. (I need time to prepare. I know, it's kinda silly, but it's true). The problem is, he's still hiding something and I can tell. So I start wondering. Of course, it's only natural. He slipped a few weeks earlier that he already had the ring (and that one probably WAS an accident, because I asked him while he was tired). I was afraid to hope, though. He'd tricked me once before. So I keep my cool and pretend I'm clueless, in case I'm wrong. Good plan, right?

The only information I can get out of him is that his brother and sister are coming with us. That's cool. But it's also another thing that makes me wonder. His brother and him are super  close.

So the next day, we get all ready for the sleigh ride, get lost on the way, and finally make it there. The sleigh ride is great, except Ranger gets called in to work. Now how do you explain that you really need the day off because you are doing something "important" and you cant explain what's so important, because its a secret and the girl who cant know is sitting right next to you? So he goes to work. Poor thing. But I'm probably wrong, right? And since he got called in to work, it probably wont happen today anyway...

So he takes me to his dad's house to wait, and we wait. For a while his brother hangs around and visits, but eventually goes home. His dad asks him what his plans are for that evening, and he says "well, we'll still do that thing, but otherwise, we dont know yet." And I take note. Vague hints are good... right?

Great visit, but we're both kind of distracted (probably about the same thing which neither one of us can talk about. Me for my pride in case I'm wrong, and he for the sake of his son... if I'm right, anyway). I get the feeling that his dad's trying to keep the day special. So I start to hope again. Ranger said I could go home, if I wanted. But I actually really like his dad, and I knew I'd be twice as antsy at home. So I didn't ask to be taken home.

Ranger FINALLY gets off work, and says we have dinner plans with his brother. Well, that explains the "thing"... But if there wasn't some news, why would his brother be so vague? And now I can tell that everyone's a little excited. And Ranger looks a little nervous, but honestly, that could have been rationalized away because he felt bad for having to work in the middle of our date. And his dad's trying to help him. I notice they both seem to be having a conversation whenever I'm not around and it stops when I come back in the room.

Okay, something is DEFINITELY up. But I tell myself I'm still going to play clueless because it'd be sooo embarrassing if I'm wrong...

So we go out to eat, and we're in a quiet booth off to the side, with no one else around us. "convenient," I think. His sister answers for it though, even though I didn't ask. Says she thought the people around were kind of gross and asked to be moved. So we get all the way through dinner... and dessert...  and I can see Ranger's brother keep trying to catch Ranger's eye.

And then I see that Ranger has a box in his hands. And I think to myself "okay, now I know what that is. But this is awkward..." So I pretend not to notice, and I cant make eye contact, I'm too nervous.

And so is he

And I hate awkward moments.

So I pretend to be super interested in what his sister-in-law has to say.

And I guess it was too much for Ranger, because he sort of drops the box in front of me, like "here, take it." It was so cute because it was so awkward. I guess that's fitting, because that's how Ranger's been all along. So awkward it's cute. Maybe awkward isn't the right word, nervous is better. Obvious about his intentions, but nervous.

Well of course I open it. And he gets on one knee. And says "will you marry me?"

And just like me, to make things more complicated in a nervous situation, I say, "that's all you have to say? No name or anything?"

So he says "Keira, will you marry me?"

Charming. It's a good thing he's so cute when he's nervous...

I asked him later. He was so nervous and he couldnt remember my maiden name, (and I bet he didnt know if he should use it or not, anyway) so he just said "Keira."

Well OBVIOUSLY I said yes.


And then Ranger's brother says "Dad sent me a text as you were leaving, he said you were so nervous!" Like we couldn't tell. And I loved every minute of it.

All that, and we didn't even get a free dessert! 

What I got for Christmas:

Sorry I haven't posted. And most of you are antsy to see how Christmas went and what's the story behind all the big news. 

Well, the problem is I have so much to say it and no time to do it. Nor is it easy to express how AMAZING things are for me right now. 

So to start off, I'll talk about Christmas... Because we wont get a Christmas alone for quite some time, Ranger and I had our own little gift exchange before Christmas. Mostly, because I'm impatient, if I'm being honest. I wanted to give him what I had made him ( I don't have pics right now. I'll get them... But since I made it, I was DYING to give it to him) AND because I wanted to know what he gave ME for Christmas.

So, what did he give me?
A cute little wrapped box full of...

Fake rings.

And although I'm secretly thinking that although I sorta said I wanted a ring for Christmas, I was really just joking, because Christmas proposals are kind of corny, I couldn't help but hope.

Nope. All fake.

 Seriously, what kind of man that knows his girlfriend is anxiously awaiting a REAL ring would go ahead and give her FAKE rings for Christmas? Well, Ranger would, I guess.  Maybe I should tell him I'm not good at jokes... ;c)

(The real gift was the glass container. It has grapes and matches my front room pretty well.)

And then he gives me ANOTHER box, and I'm thinking, hmm, this box is much littler, and about the right size. And I don't care about Christmas being corny... mostly...

So I open this one and inside is...

Pearl earrings. MAN! This guy's MEAN! 

They are lovely, I admit.
I just don't like to be teased...

Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy about the earrings, and the glass jar (mostly because it came from him). And I'm glad he didn't take the corny route and give me a ring on Christmas Eve, even if I did ask for a ring for Christmas (and like I said earlier, even though I asked for it, I didn't want it as my ACTUAL present. It's TOTALLY uncreative). I like how Ranger does things his own way while still doing exactly what I want (even if it's not what I say :cP)  

So I asked him when the real ring was coming and he said 
"I just gave you about a hundred rings, and you still want ANOTHER one?"
What a tease.
I don't know if I like this side of him... ;c)