Never Alone

Never Alone

So what’s the cure for the loneliness that hits at the “happiest” time of the year?

 

It’s the holidays, which for a lot of people means fighting loneliness. . .alone.

 

For some it truly is being alone, with no one to commiserate with about the runny mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner with the in-laws or the long lines at the mall.

 

But for most, it is fighting the onrushing tide of feeling alone in a crowd.

Feeling unseen.

 

It’s the ugly side of the hustle and bustle during the holidays.

 

So what’s the cure for the loneliness that hits at the “happiest” time of the year?

 

Ugly Sweater Parties?

(Uhhhh, lets hope not!)

 

Friends?

 

Family?

 

Taking cheesy holiday pictures?

 

I think it’s simpler than breathing in the moment of the holiday cheer and hoping that some of it will infect you.

 

I think the answer lies in pressing the pause button on life.

 

Taking a deep breath.

Knowing you’re not alone, even if you feel like it tonight.

I’ve got nothing to say, no verses to type, no advice.

Just a hug from me to you.

 

And a thought.

 

Maybe Jesus came for nights like this.

Nights when we need a friend.

Nights when we feel alone.

 

Wherever you are, you’re in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

 

 

“Lights” by Tabeajaichhalt is licensed by Creative Commons under CC BY 2.0

 

The reality of dreaming

The Reality of Dreaming

My son wants to drive so badly he can taste exhaust fumes.

This past summer, he asked me nearly every time we got into the van when it would be his turn to drive.  Most parents probably dread the day their children start driving and their insurance premiums go through the roof,  but I am so excited for the day when I can hand him the keys and see that look of joy in his eyes.  In my heart, I look forward to him driving probably more than he does.  So why haven’t I let him get his permit and take the family mini-van for a spin?

Because he’s 3 years old.

I will safe guard the dream of his driving until he is ready, not to mention old enough to see over the steering wheel, but if I gave him his “dream” today it would cause him and who knows who else harm. He’s not ready yet.

I’ve explained to him a million and one different ways, why he can’t drive right now and he responds with a quivering lower lip, “okay, someday”.  He has resigned himself to comply despite not fully understanding my reasons.

It’s the same with us.  We don’t always understand when God says, “not now” and our 3 year old hearts distort his words into “no” as we perceive our dreams crumbling into dust.

Dreams are precious things, fragile in the making.  Our dreams are things meant to be placed into the hands of God. He knows this and he’s not willing that we would gain the thing we want most at the risk of losing ourselves.  And so, he has a way of causing us to lay down the thing we want, the way Abraham laid down Issac, so that he can give it back to us at the moment of our maturity.

We all have that something lingering just out of reach.

Maybe you’ve been praying for Mr. Right (or dear God, please fix my Mr. Right).

Maybe your dream is that elusive career opportunity.

Maybe you’ve been patiently waiting for that restored relationship with your parents.

Maybe you’ve been quietly hoping for a child.

Or maybe your dream is simply driving the family mini-van.

The temptation is one of two things: 1. to either try to do everything to make it happen or 2. to do nothing.  If you’re a bold person, you more than likely gravitate towards the first, if you’re fearful you’ll tend to gravitate towards the second and if you’re like me, a cyclone of both – it might just depend on the day.

How do we trust God and act in faith when it comes to something like a dream?

When God told Abraham to go to the promise land, Abraham went. . . and kept going until God told him to stop.  When Joseph dreamed of greatness, he served faithfully . . . and God made him the second most powerful man in Egypt.  When Ruth secretly hoped for her Mr. Right, she continued to care for her mother-in-law . . . and Boaz came along.

Be faithful.

Ask God what your first step is and be faithful to do that thing until he either tells you something new or until that day when your dream becomes reality.  Too simple?  Perhaps, but I think I remember that he likes to use the simple things to confound the wise.

 

 

*I originally posted this when my oldest really was only 3 years old.  He still wants to drive just as bad now that he’s 7.

Pray for us.

–  -No seriously.

One day we’ll have to let our kids drive.*

 

 

Photo Credit: “Key” by Unsplash permissions through C.C. by 2.0

 

The Eye of God

The Eye of God

I write for my sanity.

You thought I wrote just because I loved you.

I do.

I really do.

But writing also helps keep me sane.

You see, by writing I have a built in excuse to go to a coffee shop every week and write.

My husband is a business guy, I call him the Human Calculator, because, we’ll he is.  It is freaky how well he can calculate numbers and percentages in his head when it comes to money. And because he’s a bottom line kinda of guy, in his mind – paying for coffee every week is a business expense -which means I can get away with it.  (Take notes ladies, this is how it’s done.)

So that’s part one of my self induced therapy plan – self-medicate, ie, drink coffee.

But the other part is to write about how I feel and how I’m processing the world, because . . . lean in. . .  I’m a stuffer.

 

Yeah, you heard me.  I stuff my emotions.

Which is why blogging is a such a great outlet.

At the heart of blogging is connection.

It’s all about letting another person into your world, the way you think and what you feel.

Because of this, bloggers are awesome people.

 

But right now I hate blogging.

And I kind of hate being a blogger.

And I definitely don’t feel awesome.

 

Because it means that I’m one of those people who processes her world by writing about it.

 

 

I’m a stuffer who writes about the stuff I don’t really want to write about because I figure if I put my stuff out there, I won’t be as much of a stuffer anymore. – Say that 10 times fast.

Here’s what my stuffy side doesn’t want to say tonight.

 

God’s not done healing me.

 

I actually thought he was.

I thought I had finally moved past all of my childhood issues and was on the cusp of something big. . . like the promised land of adulthood.

But I don’t think he got my memo.

 

Actually it’s the opposite.

It’s like he saved one of the biggest bombshells for last.

 

And here it is: Because of growing up in a home with a schizophrenic mother and living in a constant state of childhood trauma – I have  ummm — cough — tendencies.

 

What?

 

I said, I have — cough — tendencies.

 

Alright, fine.

 

I HAVE CODEPENDENT TENDENCIES.

There, I said it.

 

Maybe not a shocker for you, but it is for me.

 

And now I’m going from a season where I thought I was finished with all of this inner healing stuff to my-dreams-are-feeling-a-bit-like-sand-slipping-through-my-fingers-all-because-I don’t-know-how-to-not-be-overly-responsible-and-just-trust-God-when-it-comes-to-other-people’s-emotions.

Grrrrr me.

 

Here’s the crazy part, I knew he was up to something.

I was playing the piano one afternoon and just spending time with him, when God shows me this picture of a giant eye.  It reminded me of the nebula in the photo above.  Not intimidating or scary, but I was very aware that my heart was being searched.

And since then, I haven’t heard God say anything about it.

But I’m pretty sure that this discovery of codependent tendencies is tied to that day.

 

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (The Message)

 

Okay seriously, I didn’t even know I had codependency issues until like 2 months ago.  And it’s not like I want to keep them or anything but man, I wish that God would snap his fingers and make it just go away.

Open a can of miracle, right here, right now.

Because I am one bewildered girl right now.  Lez just be honest.  I did not realize I was as messed up as he is showing me I am.

 

My friends and family, however, are not as shocked.

 

To make matters worse, this has not been a fast moving kind of revelation.  This is more like a slow as molasses revelation.  As in, every day I’m going to show you what is going on and how it is affecting you and the people you love.

 

Ouch.

This really sucks.

 

But I don’t want to stay this way.

I really do want to change.

 

Repentance at its core is being willing to go through the process of being changed.

 

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (The Message)

 

Okay, Jesus, so healing is what you’re offering me in this season.

I’ll take that mercy.

I’ll accept that help.

 

Photo Credit: “Helix Nebula” by WikiImages, permissions through C.C. by 2.0

Help! I need somebody.

I’m freaking out.

And it’s all my fault.

And maybe you’re thinking, “Seriously Joyce, I’ve read your posts, how can one person (Asian or not) have so much drama?”

I don’t, not really.

I’m just an introvert and I guess that right there explains it all.

But this weeks saga is because I involuntarily volunteered to help out with the children’s ministry at our church for a couple of months until someone can step into the role in January.

I’m a sub.

Correction:  Make that, a co-sub.  There are two of us.

And I’ve been trying really hard not to be myself for the last couple of weeks, because under it all I’m kind of a spaz about stuff.

Not anal or perfectionistic, I just happen to hate asking for help.

Problem is, I’m really good at not asking for help.

In school and work, people call that initiative.  they say things like, “Wow, she’s a go-getter.”  Or, “If you need something done, you can depend on her.”  Which is generally true, unless I’m pregnant – then you can count on me for -oh, I dunno, nothing.  Don’t even ask. . . because I probably won’t care. (don’t judge until you’ve carried a watermelon 24/7, strapped to your belly for 9 months)

But I’m not pregnant and so for the last two weeks, I’ve been efficient.

Like a hybrid.

But I also lost my peace.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.

Colossians 3:15 (The Message)

Paul says to let the peace of God reign and rule in your hearts.  Let it be your compass.

And right now, I just feel anxious, which is my first clue something is going on internally.

All of this makes it sound like my co-sub doesn’t do much in this endeavor.

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

She’s been great, doing her fair share for sure.

So, I had to ask myself why am I so stressed out about this?

Because I suck at team work.

Asking for help, pushes me off balance because it touches nerves that go all the way to the core of my being.

It takes me back to a childhood I’d rather forget and leaves me feeling like a charity case. . .

It takes me back to a growing up in a home with a schizophrenic, deaf mother and a dad who was a mechanic in the Army during the Gulf War.  My mother was in and out of psych wards and my dad was usually inside the guts of a helicopter. . . and that left me sleeping on other people’s couches, sitting down to dinner with other people’s parents, and hating the whispers about what was happening in my family.

You can see why I hate asking for help.  It makes me feel lost, alone, and really lame.

And I can feel God tugging on my heart, saying I need to go here.  I need to go back to this place in my emotions and allow him to heal it and correct some wrong thinking I have about asking for help.

And all I can think is:  I love you God, but sometimes the things you ask me to do. . .

Ugggh!  Can you say root canal?

And as I step back to look at my life right now I see these moments in my life during the past two weeks where God is causing me to depend on other people.

– My parents offered to pay for some work on our van since money in the Ackermann household is tighter than a pair of Michael Jackson pants.

– I needed to ask my mother in law to babysit for most of the day. . . and it was last minute.

– I needed to ask the hubby to fix dinner because I was running late and our child-natives were getting restless.

– I needed to ask my co-subbie to help me figure some things out with schedules for the children’s ministry.

It’s all pretty benign stuff.

Stuff that shouldn’t bother me like this.

But oh, it does.

It takes me back to feeling vulnerable, helpless, and 7 years old again.

And I have two choices,  I can fight it or I can ask God to heal it.

I’ve learned that fighting God takes a lot more work than just trusting him to heal me so I’m giving it over to him.

So now I’m learning to see past the “hating asking for help” part and I can see how ridiculously blessed I am.

– I have a step-mom who called just to ask if she should buy some Lunchables for the kids, for when they come to visit, “because she knows they really like them”.

– I have a mother-in-law who just bought me two pairs of shoes, that I can’t stop talking about.

– My dad came by on his way to work to fix my mini van (don’t knock the mini-van, it’s like Shag carpeting – it’s coming back in style).

– My hubby surprised me by finishing a sandbox for the kids that I had started but hadn’t gotten around to finishing.

Getting past asking for help is difficult, but it’s been so worth it.

I’ve been amazed at how boxed in I was living by trying to do it all by myself.

I do feel like I’m 7 again. . . but this time around it doesn’t feel like I’m a charity case.