Oh God, where art Thou?

Last week brought heartache to our family. My son’s wife left him, taking her son from a previous marriage with her. That precious boy is still our grandson, no matter what happens next. In my heart, there are no step children or step grandchildren in our family and divorce, if it comes to that, will not sever the tie between our grandson and us.  My husband and I feel the same about this. My children and grandchildren are his own. His son and grandchildren are my own. Any grandchildren that were brought into our family by prior marriages are treated and loved the same as the others.

Who, what, why, when and where are all questions that come to mind in regards to this break up. I could probably answer all those questions, if so inclined, but I am just now settling my mind down to some sort of acceptance so I don’t want to push it.  My son is an alcoholic although doing better these past few months, this is the consequence for actions when he was at his worst.  He also suffers from depression and usually winter is a very hard time for him but not this year. This winter, he didn’t have his usual episode of darkness and found himself smiling for no reason. Until now.  Although I am not surprised that his wife left, I have to question, why now? Why now, when he was smiling and happy?

I ranted and raved a bit at God. He doesn’t seem to ever answer my prayers, at least that I can see. It seems like my prayers are futile about so many things: healing for the sick, hope for the depressed, among others. My prayers are not blanket prayers such as “heal the sick” but very specific and very heartfelt.  The silence from God is more profound, the more I pray. Sometimes I wonder that if I never prayed at all, never expected a miracle or answered prayer for healing, hope, peace or joy for those I love, would I be better off?

So, when I get to feeling this way and don’t know where to turn, I open the Bible. It never fails that as I randomly just pick a passage, it always speaks to me and gives me peace. Who randomly reads a passage from Micah? This girl and it did speak to me, and put me in my place and gave me direction.  In the first few verses of Micah Chapter 6, the people of Israel are getting a little tongue lashing. Ouch, I read this right after ranting and raving to God. So, this humbled me and I had to ask forgiveness and acknowledge that even though our family has had more than our share of heartache, God has always, always, been with me. I never went through anything alone. He always provided.  Ouch again, Micah chapter 6, verse 7 “shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul”? I sort of lost my breath during that verse because yes, my son is my firstborn, the fruit of my body and I had ranted and raved to God and now regret it. But then, verse 8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. And verse 8 of Micah chapter 6 is the direction and attitude that I must take.

So, as I move forward to a new week, I will try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I needed this reminder to stop making everything so complicated.

 

A Winter Smile

My son, who suffers from depression, stopped by for a few minutes the other day.  It’s winter and gloomy and this is the season in which his depression rears it’s ugliest head. A typical winter brings a sense of despondency in his life which leads to his “family team” to make multiple suggestions and ask questions such as “maybe you should try a new medication”, “have you seen your doctor?”, “how about trying light therapy?”, “are you feeling suicidal?”, “drinking in excess?”, “are you ready for rehab and/or inpatient?” and so on.  I have come to the full realization that I am helpless to help him.

Several years ago, more like 25 years ago, I dreamed that he was full of joy.  He was looking at a woman and a young girl and on their faces were looks of adoration and on his face was pure joy. I’ve always held on to that dream and I’ve prayed to God so many times for him to have joy. My wish for him is not fame or fortune, but pure joy.

So anyway, getting back to his visit, I invited him to stay and eat with us.  As we were eating and chatting about nothing of importance and ignoring the elephant in the room, he told me that this year is different. He doesn’t know why it is happening but he said “I catch myself smiling for no reason.”  I thought about that long ago dream again and a glimmer of hope fluttered in my heart. This!! This is what I want for him!! Smiling for no reason! Joy! I’m afraid to hope that it will be long lasting but I would give anything for it to be true. I’m almost afraid for the next visit or the next phone call that may indicate a downward spiral into that dark pit of despair.  But for today, I am so very happy for the winter smile. I love you, son.

 

36 Hours and Counting

Read Dysfunctional Thanksgiving, if you haven’t already, and then we will pick up from there.

36 hours from Thanksgiving Day and I don’t know what to expect. My sister sent a letter to my mom explaining why she feels the way she does. It really opened the door for reflection and reconciliation.  My siblings and I got a copy as proof that it was not mean spirited or hateful, which was most assuredly the accusation that would be hurled from the receiving end. The letter was very well written and had not one negative or hateful word. It was written in honesty and grace.

There was a bit of an instant messaging frenzy taking place between my mom and sister after the letter was read. Mom stating she was not invited to Thanksgiving, which the letter clearly states she was invited. Mom stating she never talks negatively about us, but which she does and so on and so on and so on.

Then, something in the air completely changed.

Within the span of just a few hours my mom went from angry mom to victim mom to martyr mom to super mom. My head is swimming but I like super mom. It’s a nice change. I hope she stays there. So, for now, I am just going to sit back, enjoy the show and pretend that this switch is real and forever and that we will have the perfect family relationship from now on. I know the switch will reverse itself in time from super mom to martyr mom to victim mom to angry mom but for now, I will just settle into this little happy spot and enjoy it. It feels like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day or being wrapped in my husband’s arms. Contentment.

My mom’s health is extremely bad and I would not be surprised if this is her last year on earth.  So, even though our relationship is extremely dysfunctional, I am thankful that she is with us, that she is trying to be less critical and that she is super mom today.  So, if your family relationships are a little rocky, try to see just one positive attribute of each person. Just one and then focus on it. It won’t fix everything and maybe not anything, but in the long run, it will help your own well being. God bless.

 

Aim high

My son asked me to make him a stained glass window. Eight years ago, I took one stained glass class. I said “sure, I would love to do it” because he rarely asks me for anything and I love him.

So, I just invested $400 in supplies and equipment.  I figured it was a good investment and maybe, just maybe, I’d get really good, sell my work and be independently wealthy. I thought I’d start out slow so I made teeny ornament with a total of 4 pieces. I was frustrated with it. Soldering just didn’t come natural. I gained a tiny bit of confidence, two burns and four cuts to my fingers.

Now, you would think I would start on another project with maybe 5 pieces so as to work my way up to the window. That is not how I do things. Project number two had 18 pieces and was 10 times larger than the ornament. No cuts or burns so I must be getting better. It took me a long time to complete it and I no longer have illusions of future wealth.  I figure I would make 50 cents an hour if I put it up for sale so I’m keeping it. It is hanging on a hook in my kitchen window and I am looking forward to seeing the sun shining through it in the morning. I’ve checked the hook four times. If the stained glass piece is laying broken on the floor in the morning, I will have a major crying fit.

I sent him a picture of  the 2nd finished piece via text.  He sent me a message back stating “I knew you could do it!” I feel so happy that he has faith in me.

Encourage one another at every opportunity. His words of encouragement make me push myself a little harder, not so I can please him by fulfilling his request, but because he believes in me.

Good night all and God bless.

Dysfunctional Thanksgiving

It is now 4 days before Thanksgiving and everything is up in the air as to who, what, when, where and why.  Traditionally my sister has hosted Thanksgiving at her house. Sometimes we go and sometimes we do something different. Last year, we went camping because we just wanted to do something outside of tradition to keep our mind off of our son that passed away earlier that year.

Anyway, we planned on going to my sisters this year for two reasons. 1. My brother lost his dear wife six months ago after 37 years of marriage and we want to be with him.  2. My mother is getting more and more feeble and may not make it through the winter.

Everything was planned: menu, who is bringing what food dish and who is driving my mom to my sisters. We even finalized plans for the following day: meet at mom’s the next day to set up her tree and put her Christmas decorations out so she could enjoy the holiday season. Again, this Christmas decorating at my mom’s is something my brother and his wife always did for her so this year we planned to all do it together to help my brother get through this first year without his wife.

So, it’s all set. Then, two days ago my sister called my mom, who in turn criticized all of us which led to my sister telling my mom that her hatred was not welcome in her home and if she couldn’t leave it behind, then she couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. This leads to my mom saying she was uninvited which led to my brother telling her that she misunderstood and my mom saying she won’t go unless my sister calls her. But, she will send food!!

There is this whole crazy, unhealthy pattern in relating to my mom that is not an easy pattern to break. My sister reached the point where she was done with it. We’ve all been there at one time or another but then old habits die hard, or the guilt sets in, and we meld back into our roles of enabling or accepting or denial or whatever the case may be of trying to keep mom happy.

We will never have the relationship with mom that we desire. We accept it, we gripe about it and we still love her.  We make sure she has all of her physical needs met, we take her to doctor appointments, take her to run errands or do shopping (last week I spent three hours in one small store, ugh), and yes, we do tell her we love her. But, Mom doesn’t think we love her because we do not meet her expectations or her concept of love.  We cannot do or be enough. It is such a shame, because we do love her but she can’t recognize it in the ways we express it. I’m sure she loves me, but I don’t recognize it either.

Do the best you can to show and express love on this day and all future days.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

A verse with no chorus

My oldest son suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts.  He self medicates with alcohol. As you may or may not know, we already lost one son due to alcohol. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop with fear and trepidation. I hope I am wrong. I pray I am needlessly worrying.

When my oldest was in his late teens or early twenties, I would wake in the middle of the night and pray for him. As parents, we did pursue the usual avenues to help him such as hospitalization, counseling, medication and so on. But when it all fails, what is left but a miracle?

During one of my all night prayer sessions, I wrote a song. I tried to put myself in his mind and it was so very dark there. I imagined what it must be like for him to look in the mirror and thus, I wrote the following song. It starts out as a slow, sad tune but just before the chorus, the tempo changes and the chorus is jubilant. You will just have to use your imagination.

Title: God is greater

Verse:

I look in the mirror

Tell me, who am I?

Down deep in my eyes

Are pools of pain and despair.

Darkness surrounds me

Feels like I’m drowning in this world of sin.

(transition as tempo builds)

But a message of hope

of peace and a light

Shines deep from within.

Chorus:

’cause God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

You pick me up when I fall.

Your love, it carries me.

You are the light of the world

and you give me peace.

You are my rock and my hope.

My joy and my strength.

Oh, light of the world,

Shine your light down on ME!

Recently, during a 45 day stay in inpatient rehab, my son left me a message on my phone. He sounded so happy and content. He was feeling peaceful. I saved the message and I listen to it sometimes. His peace did not last long. He is self medicating and depressed again. How sad it must be for him, to live in that darkness. A verse with no chorus. He found peace for a brief time and I listen to his phone message to remind me that it could happen again. You know what my biggest fear is? That I will accidentally erase the message and I will no longer be able to hear those moments when he was what he was meant to be, even for a short time.

 

 

Veterans Day Blues

One of my sons is an army veteran.  He was deployed to Iraq and spent a volatile 15 months as an infantry Sergeant in and around Baghdad. I cried every single day he was gone. I prayed to God every day to keep him safe. Every single day God told me to end my prayer by singing the Doxology of “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”. It seemed weird but I had to do it. Maybe God just wanted me to praise Him through the tumult and so I did.

After my son’s deployment ended, a part of him returned to the United States. A part of him was missing forever. My son came back as a stranger to us and a stranger to himself. He has spent the last few years trying to find himself and heal from wounds that are not visible. He has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and multiple blast TBI (traumatic brain injury).

My son is a talented carpenter who sometimes doesn’t know the word for hammer, wrench, or level. My son is a lover of nature who sometimes goes for a walk in the woods behind his home and suddenly does not know where he is or how to get home. My son is a loving devoted husband and father who fades away from his wife and daughters at times, as he remembers the atrocities of war, especially on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

My son is a Pastor who reaches out to others with PTSD and other wounds of war. He can relate to them in a way that no other Pastor in our area is able. I have questioned God as to why He has not healed my son. But maybe the very reason is so my son can reach out to those with PTSD in their darkest hours and give them hope.