Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anchors... and a song

I’m restructuring so many things in my life lately. Or, working at it, rather. I’ve always yearned to be the best person I could possibly be in all areas. I’ve always failed miserably at perfection. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be perfect, and am becoming much more realistic in my expectations of myself as the years pass. That is not to say that I have become lackadaisical in my pursuit of wholeness, it just means I have learned the art of acceptance. Of myself. Not of what I’ve done, nor where I’ve been, but acceptance of ME. Who I am at my core. The journey towards comprehension of God’s complete and unconditional love of me is still an ongoing one, but my path is getting a little smoother, thankfully. I will always strive to be better, but I think I’m done kicking myself so hard when I fall down. When I do that, it makes the getting up that much more difficult. The word “accept" means: to believe the goodness or realness of something. Am I perfect? Uh.... no. But I am learning to accept myself for who I am WHILE continuing to strive to become better. Does that sound like a crazy paradox?

In my current life restructuring phase, I am finding myself a little sad. There are things that I have allowed to be a part of my life that are really holding me down. Certain people, certain emotions, specific character traits, habits and excuses.... a whole gamut of things that I need to find a way to let go of. This feels like loss to me, and it makes me a little sad and afraid. But what I need to remember is that if I let go of those distracting, defeating “things” that are occupying my heart and head and life space; I will have a lot more room for all the positive, reinforcing things to enter in and become a part of my life. It’s not a loss, it’s a gain... That is the mantra that I need to repeat to myself.

In my somber state this morning, I was praying a little, wallowing in worry about how I am going to be able to do all of this restructuring, and feeling a little bit like crawling back into bed and going to sleep so I don’t have to deal with it. But ignoring certain things in my life that have really brought me down emotionally is exactly what I should not be continuing to do. Because ignoring is exactly the reason my life is not where I want it to be. I need to be strong, face the truth, and cut the ropes to the many anchors which are stalling my voyage to joy. Joy is, after all, my ultimate destination. So back to my somber state... I was sitting alone in my quiet house, wondering where to start. Once again, I felt God telling me to go to my keyboard and start to sing and play. The song that came to me is one I wrote many years ago, when I was going through a tough time in life. As I began to play and sing it, it all came rushing back to me, and the words were so much what I needed. It was almost like God was speaking directly into my heart through the lyrics I had written so long ago. He is so mysterious and amazing. I am so thankful that He reaches out to me right where I am in the unexpected ways that He does.

I had a friend ask me the other day when we were on a walk on the beautiful Sacramento River Trail near the Sundial Bridge, “Do you feel like you are ready to fall in love with ‘the one’?” We were talking about relationships, and being single. I did not even hesitate with my answer. I replied, “No!!!” And this got me thinking, why would I feel unready for something that I truly yearn for and am designed for... love? It is because I want to be the very best that I can be for the man I choose to spend the rest of my life with. I don’t want him to meet me in this restructuring phase. I want him to see the finished result, so I can be really, really, really good at loving him. With no anchors getting in the way.

Here is the song that helped me this morning. I may have posted this on my blog years ago, but I felt it was post-worthy again, for the following reason..... If you are feeling down today, or if you have some anchors you need to drop, or some restructuring that you need to do, my hope is that these lyrics will uplift you. I wish I could sing and play it for you, because you never get the full emotion behind the song with just the lyrics. Regardless, here it is:

"I Will Not Let You Down"

Vs 1:
When you feel afraid,
When your dreams start to fade,
When your worries are on a roll.
When you feel alone,
When you can’t find your way home,
Just remember, I’m in control.

I will not let you down.
I will not let you down .
I’ll carry you,
And not let you down.

Verse 2:
When times are a bit tough,
When your road is way too rough,
When heartache’s all you can feel;
Those are the times I’m there.
Those are the times I care the most.
I’ll protect you; I’ll be your shield!

I will not let you down.
I will not let you down.
I’ll carry you,
And not let you down.

People will say
You can make it on your own,
But you know I’m the Way,
And my arms will carry you home!

I will not let you down.
I will not let you down .
...Nothing can take away My love.
...I’m watching you from above.
I’ll carry you,
And not let you down.

I’m so glad we have a God who carries us through the rough spots.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Healthier Me...

I have decided that a lifestyle change is in order for me. The motivation hit me just after my youngest son patted my tummy, then told me I had a belly because I was going to have another baby. What??!!! Do I seriously look pregnant? I know he was saying it to be silly and funny, but it did kinda resonate. Getting fit is something I have been wanting to do for a while now. Nate will be glad to know, later in life, that my final motivation for completely restructuring my physical lifestyle came from him.

I rarely exercise, though I do take my kids on walks and bike rides about once a week. I eat horribly, with no thought of calories, fat or health consciousness whatsoever. It’s hard to diet when you really, really, really enjoy food! But I have decided that the feeling of sluggishness and exhaustion that always seems to stay with me probably have a lot to do with both the lack of exercise and lack of good diet. It’s time for a change!

I laid out a diet and exercise plan this morning, and I am really excited to be starting this new endeavor. I’m no expert in this field, but I do have a few friends who know quite a bit about it, so I ran this by them, and they said it looks pretty good. It’s a good starting place, anyway. I don’t want to go too extreme with it, initially, for fear of setting myself up for failure, which is what I have always seemed to do in the past. Crash diets and starving myself just do not work. Taking out all carbs or all fat or all wheat, etc... those types of diets never work for me either, not in the long run. What I need is a well-balanced, healthful way to eat, and also incorporate into my daily routine some moderate exercise to begin burning fat. I’m hoping this will also lower my blood pressure, and give me a better metabolism. I’m not going to take any diet pills or drink any shakes or buy any pre-packaged diet foods. I’m going to do this the all-natural way. In the end, my goal is just a healthier, more energetic and confident me. I’ll never be super-model perfect, but I can at least be healthy and happy with who I am.

I was told by a good friend who knows a lot about healthy living, that in order to succeed at a lifestyle change, you have to love it. You have to want it, otherwise you won’t be committed to it. So the exercises I plan to do will be ones that I actually enjoy, and the meals that I eat, while healthy, will be made to taste savory and delicious. He also told me that I should not think of this in terms of quitting something, as that creates a feeling of loss; but rather think of it in terms of gaining something positive in my life, i.e.: health, better body image, strength, energy, etc. I need to come to a place where I would rather have those good additions to my life, than have the bad habits that draw me down.

So for starters, drinking wine as often as I do definitely is not good for a person. It’s high in sugars, and alcohol has been proven to be very detrimental to a person’s body. I don’t plan to cut it out completely, but certainly take it down to a much lower level of frequency. I do love my wine, but I love the feeling of being healthy, more.

Additionally, I am going to need to quit smoking. That’s going to be very challenging, as I have smoked for 16 years. The only time I have ever been able to successfully quit is when I became pregnant all three times. I quit cold-turkey those times, because the health of the life within me was more important than my craving. Unfortunately, nothing has ever proven to be motivation enough for me to quit, since those times. And because I am not planning on getting pregnant any time soon (contrary to my son’s jesting conclusion as to the reason for my squishy tummy), I am going to have to find the will-power to quit for different reasons. I’d say my health is a pretty good place to start.

I wrote up a what I call “Monica’s Lifestyle Change Plan” this morning, that includes diet and exercise planning. I also plan to take some pictures and weigh myself, so I can better be able to track my progress. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to self-sabotage, so I am hoping and praying that this time, I have the determination and self-control it’s going to take to become a healthier me. I’m posting all this on my blog, as a way to publicly hold myself accountable. Wish me luck!

As always, I will continue to work on growing and improving my emotional and spiritual health, but I am so excited to now be putting equal amounts of effort into my physical health as well. I’m not sure why I have been neglecting that side of me for so long - I probably need to analyze that - but I am excited and ready for change!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Out-Wait the Gale

During the "cold-seasons" in life, poetry is my release. I'm hoping to share some happier poems once the sun shines in my world again. And it will.

“Out-wait the Gale”

Windy times.
No end in sight.
The gales do blow
All day. All night.

I cannot rest.
I can’t recall
A time without
These winds at all.

I wish this storm
Would pass me by,
I wish for spring,
And warm sunshine,

And though I know
For everything
There is a time,
And seasons bring

Both serene warmth
And bitter cold;
It’s just these gusts
Are growing old.

I wish that I
Could hibernate
Until the storm
At last does break,

And beams of light
Pierce through the clouds,
And teardrops dry,
And sun rains down.

But in this season
I will grow,
Like flower buds
Beneath deep snow.

I will not fret
Nor hide, nor wail.
I’ll bide my time:
Out-wait the gale.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Sing, Pray, Smile.

Busy, busy morning. Woke up late. Accidentally shut off my alarm when I meant to hit snooze. I had a half hour to get the kids ready for school, feed them a healthy breakfast, and make 3 lunches to go. As I'm preparing breakfast in the kitchen, I burst into a song I have not heard in many years. It's a hymn I used to hear in church as a child. I rarely sing in the morning, 'cuz I'm not a morning person, and I'm typically too groggy to think, much less hold a tune. But this song just would not leave my heart and lips this morning. Who on earth wakes up out of a deep sleep having their first thought be a random song, much less a song from the 1800's??? Yeah, that'd be me.... Anyway, I kept singing, "Are you weak and heavy laden? Are there worries everywhere? Please, don't ever be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer." Such an old school song, but such comforting lyrics. I changed up the meter and dynamics to give it a more modern feel. My kids liked it. What an awesome feeling to be working in the kitchen, singing an uplifting song while my kids are quietly eating their breakfast and listening. Kinda set a really positive tone for the day.

When I got home from dropping them at school, I knew I needed to begin getting ready for my job interview today, but before doing that, I couldn't help but spend a little time in prayer, then go to my keyboard and start chording and singing the song. I googled and printed up the lyrics so I could sing the right ones... apparently I didn't remember them very well, but I was on the right track. Such a happy, easy song, and in the key of C. It doesn't get much easier than that! I now have a smile on my face and a peace in my soul, knowing I have taken everything on my heart - good, bad and ugly - to the Lord in prayer. Today is going to be a good one. I feel it. I hope yours is a good Friday too. If you remember this song from way, way, way back in the day, hum or sing it a little. It'll make your heart smile.

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thankful for the answers I do not yet have....

I was talking to my Mom a few days ago about all the emotional healing I have done over the past 11 months. I was attempting to explain to her how odd it is for me to at last feel such a deep peace and sense of knowing that God is at work in my life, even when I may not actually see His active hand in the now. It's perplexing to me that I can feel such a welling of hope about the future, and yet have so many adversities in my immediate path. One of these adversities has been not having employment for a few months now. I presently have no income - embarassing to admit, after all those years of being a "productive member of society"... God must have known I needed the humbling - and I haven't received any child support in a very long time. It has been quite stressful for me in the past, but for some reason, I'm not as stressed out anymore, even though my circumstances have not changed. I was telling her that God knows I need a job in order to support my children and provide a good life for them (although my hearts desire is to be a stay-at-home mom/writer), but that for some reason, the doors just haven't been opening for the past 5 months that I have been out. Nonetheless, I still feel such an unexpected positivity, in the midst of my dwindling bank account. She asked me if I had read my devotional that morning, from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I told her I hadn't. She said the devotional was about thanking God in the midst of adversity. Not just trusting Him for what is to come, but actually THANKING Him for what I do not yet have. I loved that, so I've been trying to remember to do that the past 2 days.

Yesterday morning, I woke up very motivated to become once again gainfully employed. I applied for every job I could find online, but was discouraged to discover that pretty much the only job openings out there in my area are ones that would pay no where near what I need to support a family of four on my own. But I applied anyway. Didn't hear back from any of them. I've been to a few interviews in the past few months, and they all either have crappy hours or crappy pay or tell me I am over-qualified. It's been disheartening. I felt a bit defeated, so I contemplated taking a nap, but poured myself a cup of coffee instead and went and sat in my backyard, just trying to soak up the sunshine and refocus my thoughts and perspective. I felt sorry for myself for only a moment, when I realized, **Monica! Look around you at the beautiful world you live in. The sun. The trees. The breeze. The singing birds. The fact that you've had the opportunity, finally, to be able to be a Mom with all the time in the world to spend with your amazing kids for the past 5 months. You need to be thanking God for the answers you don't have right now. Because you KNOW that He has never let you down. And He never will. His timing is perfect.** So I began to pray, and thank God for the answers I do not have. I thanked Him for all the blessings I do have. I told Him that my faith would not waiver, even though I don't have clear direction or lighted paths right now. I felt chills, and peace and hope wash over me so much, and I was instantly inspired to write a song. Haven't written one for a few months, so I was excited.

I ran inside to go sit down at my keyboard and see what melody came to me. I knew the theme of the song would be "thanking God for the answers I don't have", but that was as far as I got with it, because as I was heading down my hall to my room to begin playing, my phone rang from the living room. I almost let it go to voice mail, but decided I should check it, in case it was a job application response. ...It was a friend of mine, who I used to work with. She was calling to tell me about a job opening with her company, that is right up my field of expertise. She said she had already spoken to management about me in depth, explaining to them my strong work ethic, self-motivated personality, drive to succeed and past work achievements. She said she was told to tell me to apply right away. She said she felt like God was telling her to go to bat for me, and that she would do everything she could to try and help me get that job. So, considering the timing of that phone call, I decided there was no way that God's hand could not be in this. I applied for the job, and heard from the Manager (who was a former business acquaintence of mine when I was an Escrow Officer) a few hours later. He said he knew I was highly capable, because he remembered my work. He said he was giving the green light, and that I should be receiving a call to schedule an interview in the next few days. Yay!

So, I just now got off the phone with one of the managers, who scheduled a job interview with me. If it goes well, my financial worries will ease up quite a bit. I'm excited! The only down-side will be the hours. I will lose out on some very valuable time with my children. This has been something I have been struggling to avoid, because I know how important it is for kids to have a mom who is present as much as possible. But I also know I need to provide for them, and keep a warm roof over their heads. And beggars cannot be choosers. I am praying that if this job opportunity is truly from God, that He will allow me to get the position. I'm actually looking forward to it. Is it my ultimate dream job? No. If I had my way, I'd be a professional songwriter, poet and author. But life does not always end up quite the way we dreamed it would. The important thing is to recognize God's hand at work in our lives, thanking Him every step of the way... even if it is for answers we do not yet have. And even when it is for the life that was not our original desire, but is Plan B or C. Because God can make plan B or C a very blessed and beautiful life. The future is filled with hope and promise, I just know it.

If you think of it, would you say a prayer for me regarding the job interview and this potential new endeavor? I would greatly appreciate it! Love to all. ~m~

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Why Facebook Annoys Me...

You know what annoys me sometimes? Facebook!

I’ve been called a Facebookaholic more than once. I’m a very social person, so a social networking site is right up my alley. I sincerely enjoy certain things about Facebook, like the ability to be involved in the day to day life of my family and friends who live far away, and those whom I would not have the opportunity to communicate with as frequently, otherwise. I love seeing pictures of people who are dear to me, hearing about their big life events, their funny little quips and that feeling of being connected to them.

I will admit, however, that I dislike certain things about Facebook. Like those status updates by those on my friend’s list who feel the need to make every single thing they post be about God. Don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook can be a wonderful vessel for sharing one’s faith, and a means to witness, so to speak. But those constant status updates about being a Christian and a true Believer and about God this and Jesus that... well, they come off as sounding like the poster quite possibly has something to prove. You forget, many of those on your friend’s list have seen you in day to day life, and know that you are not quite as holy as you are making yourself out to be. Have you ever heard the saying “thou protesteth too much”? Why do you feel compelled to make each and every post a “God post”? It’s okay to be human and real, you know. It’s okay to let other people know you are human and real. Even the disciples were honest in their writings about their humanity, and many people were humbled by their authenticity and were led to believe by those who were less than perfect, like the Apostle Paul. God doesn’t expect you to only speak if you are speaking of Him, so why would you think He expects you to only post something on Facebook if it is about Him? And also, just so you know, it’s not a sin to crack a joke every now and then. Lighten up! You will not go to Hell just because you post something that does not relate to your religious beliefs, I promise. God does not log onto Facebook every half hour to determine who is or isn’t going to be added to the Book of Life, based on their status update. I’m pretty sure He knows your heart, so your constant preachy posts do not influence him. They don’t influence those on your friend’s list the way that you would hope, either. Those posts come across as having a holier-than-thou tone, and make your readers believe that in your own eyes, you are Super Saint. So please, jump down off of that soap box. It’ll make you (and me) feel better.

Another Facebook annoyance is the ever so constant post about the world’s political goings on. I don’t mind at all if you post about your political views on occasion. But, I have those on my friend’s list who don’t just make a sporadic political post... it’s a several times a day thing! I know this is a free country, and you can post whatever you so choose, but did you ever consider that it has gotten to be so banal and consistently blabberish and whiny, that your posts are now just skimmed past and/or not even read? What’s the point of posting all this stuff, if it’s not even read? Is Facebook some sort of political platform for you? Do you plan to use it as an avenue to getting elected as President? (LOL... actually that wouldn’t really be so far-fetched, because that’s kind-of what Obama did. But anyway, I digress.) My point is, the perpetual spewing of your political opinion gets extremely old. If it’s super important and occasional, then by all means, politically post away! But if you want to let all of us know how wrong it is that people wear coats made of animal fur... for the sixth time today... please re-think that post. No one’s going to read it anyway. Just sayin’. I found this quote, by a wise, anonymous writer: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." I like that. Pretty accurate, I’d say. And as far as I am concerned, I’d be happier not to have to read all that nonsense on my social network home page. ...And yes, I am aware that the fur coat thing was a pretty bizarre example. But it was a “names have been changed to protect the innocent” kind of thing. You know what I mean.

You may be thinking, in the event that either one of the above paragraphical rants applies to you, “Instead of complaining about the types of posts you don’t like, why don’t you just block them?" My answer is simple, and I guarantee I am in the majority as far as those who put up with this type of posting on Facebook. Every single person on my friends list is someone who is important to me... I am not one of those people who accepts friend invites from random strangers, therefore, I most likely will neither be deleting, nor blocking you. Those whom I have deleted in the past,were only those who I was barely acquainted with, and whom I never conversed with. My page is reserved for actual friends and family. Considering that fact, I fear I may just be doomed to suffer through posts of this nature.

Nonetheless, I am indescribably annoyed by the “look at me, I’m a phenomenal Christian with all the right answers!” posts and the “I know everything about the state of the world’s affairs and am the end-all-be-all on today’s political definitude!" posts. Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but right now I am so irritated by this kind of nonsense, that if these posts do not decrease in frequency, I have half a mind to not check my Facebook page... for at least the next hour! Boom!!!!

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Shut up.
You know not
What you are pattering about.
You whisper and murmur and nag
About things of which
You obviously lack complete comprehension.
How could you;
You who thrives upon mere emotion,
And has no capacity
To reason?
Your pulsating wail,
Your screaming palpitation,
I cannot... WILL not
You think you have control
of me,
You are woefully mistaken.
I am my own person.
And my mind is undoubtedly stronger
Than you.
I will not march
To your drum,
For it beats a tragic and endless melody.
Please stop interjecting
Into my consciousness,
For you are but a blaring distraction
From the life that I chose
To want.
Go and ache and break somewhere else,
For I reject your cries,
My burning, loathsome