Thursday, May 29, 2014

Almost Time

I've got some butterflies in my stomach. The reality is finally setting in...I'm going to be in Romania in a little over a week! It feels like I just left but I can't wait to be back. In the meantime I have so much to supplies, pack, get my car serviced, pack, wash clothes, pack, find my cameras and batteries, pack...did I mention that I need to pack? I'm going to have a lot of stuff to take between the goodies my mom bought for the kids, the ministry supplies I'm taking, and, oh yeah, my clothes. I can't wait though. Even if all I end up taking is a t-shirt and pair of shorts to get me through two weeks I'll be happy.

Be praying for me as I prep everything at work and home for my departure and attempt to buy $50 worth of over the counter pain meds and $100 worth of fabric's a strange, weird life I lead, I know. Pray also for our team and that we will get along. I'm going with a group from Reno, Nevada who I have worked with before. I'm the only "outsider" and, while I'm pretty sure we'll all get along fine, just pray that we all bond well. And, most importantly, pray for the kids. I really want to see my boys and spend more than a day with them (like I did post-Christmas). I also want to just continue to connect with these kids so that they will see God's love for them through me. Oh, and I do have an unspoken prayer request for myself. If you could lift it up to God for me I would appreciate it...He knows what it's about...

Ok, so...9 days left...maybe I should find my suitcase...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Self Imposed Time Off

Recently I took a nice, planned, vacation with my parents and a nice, not so planned, break from the blog. I need to make time away from all my obligations and activities so that I don't start to feel overwhelmed by everything. Work had gotten to the point where I was very grouchy and frustrated at the slightest thing so I knew it was time for a little getaway.

Mom, Dad, my Aunt Becky, and I went to Amelia Island for a long weekend. Becky and I drove down on Friday afternoon and came back on Monday afternoon. I didn't take too much time off because I will be leaving for Romania on June 7th and I will need some of that vacation/personal time for then.

The weather at the beach was perfect. Not too hot, a great breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. I spent two days just lounging on the beach, getting sunburned, and reading magazines. It was great.

Dad and I ventured in to the little town of Fernandina Beach on Monday before we left to drive back home and did a little window shopping.

Of course I also made time for some knitting and nearly finished up a pair of socks.

It seems I didn't take a single picture while I was on vacation. The only one I have is one my aunt took the first night we were there.
View from our balcony.
Oh, and this one of a lizard on the hood of our car.
You have to look closely but he's there.
All in all it was a very much needed break. It has been back to work for the last week but I'm already ready for another long weekend (Memorial Day) this weekend.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Getting Past Your Past

Saturday night I went to my best friend's brother's wedding. It was a very nice affair that was fitting of the bride and groom (it was partially Star Wars themed and they served pizza). I had a great time except for one thing..."College Melissa" came out a little bit.

"College Melissa" enjoys a good party a little too much. She is selfish. She is a follower, not a leader. She says "yes" when she should say "no." I still have trouble dealing with "College Melissa."

As a therapist I tell my clients that we are the sum product of all our life experiences up to this moment in time. And we can choose to do with that what we will. In dealing with the past we basically have two choices: let it become a crutch and hobble along through life ("If only that hadn't happened then things would be different...""Because of that thing I act this way now...""I can't. Remember what happened to me?"etc., etc., etc.) or we can rise about our circumstances ("I used to be that way but I don't do that any more.""Yes, that was a terrible thing but that was then, this is now."). We have clients at our agency that struggle to move past their pasts. The life they have known is sometimes abusive, violent, substance abuse riddled, and generally maladaptive in all forms. They struggle to find a new, law abiding, healthy way to live their lives. When I first gave up "College Melissa" I had the same struggle. She reigned supreme for about 3 years but held on for at least 4 or 5 more. I would find myself working my way out of the mire only to slip backwards again after a rough night or one poor choice. Even now every once in awhile (like Saturday) "College Melissa" will rear her ugly head. Now, thankfully she shows up very infrequently and she is no where near as out of control or troublesome as she used to be. But she still represents something that I no longer am. The worst part of it all is that I have such extreme guilt following a "College Melissa" episode.

I know that I am a child of God. And I know that I am forgiven. I know that even when I stumble God doesn't turn His back on me. He saw me through some of the toughest times in my life safely to the other side and He won't leave me now. I know all this and yet I allow Satan to convince me I'm a total screw up. Unworthy of being salvaged at this point. Not forgivable. Better just to lie down in the middle of the street and give up. And, worst one of all, that I'm a terrible Christian and a bad example of Christ to others. That last one really hurts.

Over the years I have developed a system that can help me to make sure that my old habitual sins don't show up again (and that "College Melissa" has less a chance of showing up). Maybe they can help you if you're struggling to get past your past.
1. Know yourself. You need to know your triggers, "danger situations", and threats. You can't fix something you haven't bothered to even find yet.
2. Set up a plan before hand. I heard this advice first about boundaries in dating: "Decide how far you're going to let things go before you go out on the date. If you wait until you're making out half dressed in a dark bedroom later to stop things it will be much harder." This applies to any situation though. Know your limits and set them early.
3. Use the buddy system. Sometimes I enlist the help of a trusted, non judgmental friend to help me enforce my boundaries. I once asked an ex-boyfriend of mine to help me with this when we were still dating. Later, after he had stepped aside and allowed me to break my self imposed rules, he said, "You're a big girl. You could have walked away if you wanted to." No, idiot. I couldn't. I needed you to help me. It was big of me just to ask for help. And you weren't big enough to help me. That's why he's now my ex.

I didn't use any of these on Saturday. I had been prepping and worrying about a big test and my Romanian lessons earlier in the day. For some reason it didn't even cross my mind to think about the situation I would be in later that evening. I briefly thought about my boundaries while I was sitting in the ceremony but by then I was already in it. It made it very easy to be flexible on my rules. And my best friend was there but I didn't bother to ask her to help me. Mostly because I hadn't set my plan first.

Today I'm dealing with the consequences of my decisions. I'm exhausted because I stayed out to late. I have a headache and my toes were stained blue for some very odd and unknown reason this morning. But I'm pulling myself back together. I really took to heart the message of forgiveness through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that our worship leader preached this morning. I had 1 or 2 very minor panic attacks (usually have a several big ones throughout the day after "College Melissa" comes out) and I've been reminding myself of the truth of God and His love for me. I know that I will stumble in some way in the future. But I hope that when I do that it's a trip and not a fall. I hope that I can get myself reset on the right path again and not be a barrier for reaching others. And maybe one day I will find that "College Melissa" is truly in the past for good.

Edited to add: This doesn't mean I didn't have a great time at the wedding and that I'm sorry I went. On the contrary, I had a great time and I'm very thankful that I got to go. This is just a personal glimpse into my struggles with getting over the past and the difficulty I have when my heart, head, and actions sometimes don't line up.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What Do You Say?

Today one of my younger clients asked me an honest and innocent question:

Do you have boys are girls? to answer that.

Be still my heart...
I have both but they don't live here with me. They live on the other side of the world. (The truth but very hard for a 6 year old to understand.)

I love that smile!
I don't have any kids. (According to the federal government this is the truth but try telling my heart that.)
My lovely pre-teens. changing the subject:: (Just weird...)
This one keeps me on my toes.
What did I tell her:

I have both.

And that was all. No lengthy explanation. Just the truth, straight from my heart.

This is by far the toughest question I get asked. Kids are more likely to just take what you tell them and go with it. Adults want proof. You've got kids? Where are their pictures? Why don't you have soccer gear in the back of your car? How many? No father? They seem a little old are you exactly?

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't slap one of those stick figure families on the back of my car just to save time. That's like the suburban trophy of family-dom.

The life of the missionary mama...The struggle is real, ya'll.