Friday, January 17, 2014

Windmills--- I never thought I would be divorced!

I never wanted to be divorced.  I actually never thought the word, "divorce" and and my name would be used in the same sentence.  However, I am divorced.  I am a survivor of the blows and battlefield of rejection.  I have lived through the legal torment, emotional and spiritual loneliness and financial devastation of single parenthood.  I did not deserve it.  However, it did not take me long to realize that I can be changed by what happens to me, for the good, and I WILL NOT BE REDUCED BY IT!!

Windmills are fascinating!  They are eternally at work to accomplish there end result---- energy!  They shift with the changes of the wind, and find themselves in around 10 different positions and angles each day.  They are not shifting from the wind to protect themselves, but right smack into it, in order to capitalize on the strength of the wind and the increased energy that confrontation invites, as a result.  There are windmills in Spanish Fork Canyon, that we would pass by,  from Northern California to Carbon County, each time we would drive to visit my relatives.  These windmills marked the final leg of our journey.  These windmills represented the end of a race.  The beginning of vacation.  The end of a long trip.  These windmills represented change from the past into the future.
I also remember a hillside of windmills, we would pass, each time we traveled from Pollock Pines to the Oakland temple.   As a youth, we would make this annual 3 hour trip each way, on a bus, as a group of youth.  However, one trip which I remember vividly, was in October of 1987.  I was by myself, 21 years old, and I was off  to attend the sealing of some good friends, just prior to my leaving on my mission.  Jessica McClure, a young toddler had fallen into a well, in Midland, Texas.  I had never been a new junkie before, and I have never been one since, but that story captivated me, as it did many, young and old.  Jessica, 18 months old, had fallen into a well, only 8 inches wide, and she was about 22 feet deep.  She remained in the well, 58 hours, until she was rescued.  I remember listening to the radio the entire trip.  As I listened, I watched for the windmills, which would not only indicate I was on the right track, but that I was getting closer and closer to the temple, the final destination of my journey. After a couple of hours of driving, finally my windmills were in view.  As they came into focus, I thought of little Jessica and her family and how their lives would never be the same-----and that this experience will make them or break them.  Later that night, Jessica was rescued.  She endured over 15 operations because of the trauma.  But, she made it!  Much like the windmills, the rescuers had to continue making changes to their rescue plans, in order to create the energy and engineering to get closer and closer to Jessica.  I remember vividly, hearing Jessica's voice, on the radio,singing a song from Winnie the Pooh.  Her little voice motivated her family and the rescuers.  Then, there were long periods of time when she was silent.  The quiet periods created and understandable panic for all involved.  Yet finally, after many changes and ideas, man power and brain power, Jessica and her rescuer were raised from the well.

Often times, when we face challenges, we experience those "quiet times" and panic sets in.  "Will I recover from this?"  "Will we ever be the same?"  Just like Jessica's rescuers had to be flexible, open-minded and willing to change in order to finally reach the toddler, we too, must be open to a variety of solutions to our challenges, and not be afraid to face the winds of change, and gain spiritual energy as we survive such challenges. I have learned that when you focus only on results, things will never change.  But, if you focus on change, and not be afraid of it, but face it, you will see divine results.

I remember about 8 months into my journey of single parenthood.  It was summer time, and my days were spent searching and gathering paperwork for divorce.  As I would be going through files or answering emails, it almost seemed like an out-of-body experience------ this really can't be me!!!  But, it was, and so I gathered.  One day, I realized my son's birthday was quickly approaching.   Most of our conversations were about "party planning", gifts he was hoping to receive, friends he was hoping to invite, what kind of pizza he wanted to have and what to do at the party.  As his special day got closer and closer, I would go to bed at night crushed with my own reality, that would soon become his.  I would find myself, conversing with my Heavenly Father.  "What shall I do?"  "How will I tell him?"  "Help me find an inexpensive way to make his day special?"  The next day, he awoke and in a very convincing voice, he said, "Mom, don't worry, I know exactly what to do for my birthday!"  I sighed with relief, as I thought for sure, he had been calmed and inspired by a higher power, to have little or no expectations.  And now, he would tell me to just not worry about it.  I gave him my undivided attention and got the biggest hug all ready to give.  With his hands on his hips, he told me to relax, about the party.  He followed these yoga-like instructions with, "All we need to do is rent a huge inflatable trampoline for the backyard.  I've always wanted one.  You know, like the carnivals and fairs have.  We will invite all 20 of my friends.  Then, we will have pizza and brownies!!!  OK, Mom?"   I sat, numb from the words he spoke.  I felt as though I had just fallen into a 22 foot well of disappointment and failure!!!  It was dark, cold and lonely.  How would I ever provide such a party?  How would I feed 20 friends when I could hardly feed my own children?   I found myself, during this period, distancing myself from that higher power, which had always been such a source of strength and energy.  I began to doubt Him, to doubt His power and influence in my life, and to doubt myself.  I felt abandoned in my well of grief, with little or no hope of a rescue.   I recognize now, that this was definitely the adversary trying to get me down.  I remained in that dark well of depression for a few days.  I could no longer sing.  It was all I could do wake up each morning, and provide the bare minimum for my children.  I could feel myself, slowly, slipping farther and farther down the well of depression.  Now, I not only felt abandoned by my husband, but also by my Heavenly Father.  Why didn't He tell my son there would be no party so that I did not have to?  Wasn't it enough that I had to tell him his father left?  Now, I had to tell him there would be no 9th birthday celebration.  I had a shower to attend in Spanish Fork, that afternoon.  So, I mustered up the energy to get dressed and headed to my car.  I entered the freeway and began to drive.  I did not realize that I had past the off ramp I needed, until I saw on my right, that familiar field of windmills.
 As I saw the windmills, I immediately remembered my drive to Oakland, that October in 1987.  I remembered little Jessica.  I remembered her rescuers and all the changes they had to make to get to her.  Then, I remembered vividly my thoughts that afternoon, almost 25 years prior, and those words spoke to my heart and burned clear through to my soul-------- my life will never be the same, and this divorce will either make me or break me!!!  It hit me like ton of bricks.  Life gets better with change, not just by chance.  It was completely up to me to face the winds of change, and use the energy produced to grow closer to my kids and to grow closer to that same Heavenly Father I had distanced myself from, while I was in the well of depression, and could not see my way out!!  I finally found the shower, and smiled and laughed (which I had not done for a while).  On the drive home, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me figure out a way to provide a small birthday for my little prince.  The next day, I received a phone call from friend who was recovering from surgery.  She asked me if I might be able to help her clean her house and her windows, in preparation for her mother's arrival.  The next morning, I loaded up a bucket of some cleaning supplies and went to work.  I cleaned the windows inside. I cleaned them on the outside.  I climbed the ladder and scrubbed the screens until they shined.  It felt so good to work rather than sit at home feeling sorry for myself about the things I could not change.  The following day, there was a note stuck in my door.  It was from my friend.  And, in it,  a VERY generous check, thanking me for helping her.  I so wanted to give the check back to her and chalk it up to service.  But, I knew from whom that check really came.  And, I knew exactly what that check was for.  And, it was exactly enough to buy pizza for 20 friends, 4 brownie mixes and some candles, a small birthday gift, and you guessed it, through nothing short of a miracle, a rented inflatable trampoline, for 2 hours, "just like they have at the carnivals." The smile on his face was priceless! But, the testimony I received of the power of change, is one I will be forever grateful for.  That testimony has rescued me from the well of depression and failure, multiple times, over the past few years.  And, I'm sure it will continue to rescue me, as Families Change, and life changes.  As the winds of change blow, we can build walls or windmills. While the walls will stop us in our tracks, and cause us to sink farther and farther down the well of failure and depression.  The windmill of faith and courage creates energy that can potentially catapult us to even higher ground of accomplishment and spiritual and emotional wealth.  Hope is that little voice that whispers, "Maybe", when the voices in your head are shouting, "No!"  I have learned to never let my dreams be replaced by regret---- by wasting time in the well, while the rescuer is there, reaching out, ready to raise me up.  What would change in my life, if "FAIL" was just simply not an option?  I never thought I would be divorced.  But, I am.  And, by the same token, I never thought I would remarry...... but I did.  I thought my life would never be the same.  And, it's's BETTER.  As dark as the lows can get, the highs can get even brighter, because of Him----He who rescues when we are dark, and slipping, and don't not how to get ourselves out.  He can help us face those winds of change, an catapult us to higher ground.  He lifted and rescued me.  He will you.  Windmills!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What to do with Desperate?

Confessions from the dark!  I was recently asked about my biggest struggles with divorce and single parenthood.  My response was without a doubt, trying to figure out ,"what to do with Desperate?" Those were desperate times!  Those were desperate years. I felt desperate for so many things, and at times, those feelings of desperation were just about more than I could bear.  My feelings of desperation were distracting, keeping me from concentrating my energy on the things that mattered most.  Other times, they were overpowering.  And, there were other times when my feelings of desperation became the focus of my day, but not by choice. I tried to ignore "desperate", but she would just keep knocking.  I tried to hide "desperate", but no matter how hard I tried, her evidence in my life was still apparent.  Finally, I decided to feed "desperate", but what do you feed "desperate"?  This is my journey--------- and some of my darkest moments:

Some days I would find myself desperate for normalcy!  One particular time was when my 8 year old was very ill.  He was running a high fever, had no energy and no appetite.  For an 8 year old little boy, that's sick!  I knew he was not feeling good, but I was trying to keep up with my new schedule of work, school, and single parenthood.  It's important to note, that the words "single parent" mean much more that parenting alone.  They mean chauffeur, nurse, maid, cook, tutor, cheer leader, referee, handy-man, chief scheduling officer, secretary, counselor and parent--- ALL ALONE!   So, this one particular day, with my youngest little guy getting sicker and sicker, I called in sick from work, with the incredible anguish that my paycheck would be a day short.  Then, I called my dad to come hang out with my son while I attended class, which I could not miss, and still receive my certification.  On my way home from class, I called the pediatrician.  They said to bring him right in.  So, I ran home, loaded up my son, a blanket, some water, my backpack of homework (just in case we had to wait a while and my little guy fell asleep).  The doctor was concerned about an underlying infection, mono or even a leukemic situation.  He sent us over to the hospital for lab work.  By now, it is about 6:30pm.  I am exhausted.  He is sick. I am concerned.  I call home to give my older kids instructions for dinner and it hits me like a wave from the ocean---- I am "desperate" for normalcy!!  Desperate to just worry about the kids and the home.  Desperate to have a husband home covering dinner and homework while I tend to our sick son.  Desperate to not have my own homework and small paychecks looming overhead and thought.  Desperate for things as they were.  Desperate for normalcy!  I couldn't shake it.  So, I decided to feed it!!!  Perhaps a quick dose of normalcy would feed it enough to leave me alone for a while.  So, that's exactly what I did.   As I began to give those dinner instructions, I thought to myself, "if things were normal as I remembered them, what would I be doing in this situation?"  I would grab dinner on the way home, and just worry about kids for night!  So, I did!  I grabbed Wendy's dollar menu items for everyone, did not worry about the money, that night.  Came home, and we all ate at the bar, laughed and discussed our day.  Then, rather than leave the kids for homework, we all crowded on my bed and watched a movie, with our sick little guy.  That night, things felt normal again, and "desperate" was fed!

There was Father's Day!  As our first Father's Day without a father approached, I found myself desperate for family.  Of course, this was not the only time I felt desperate for family, but this particular time, I still remember.  Should we go to church or not?  Should I talk to the kids about Father's Day or not?  Or, perhaps we should take a day trip, and sort of run away from our new reality.  However, "desperate for family" just would not leave me alone.  So, once again, I decided to feed it!  I invited my parents over for Sunday dinner, to celebrate.  I talked to the kids and told them that Father's Day was coming up.  I prepared them for the talks that Sunday, that might be shared in church about fathers.  I reminded them that though our physical circumstances had changed, they still in fact, had a father.  I put together a gift for them to present to their dad.  Then, we invited him to dinner too!  Though this felt a bit awkward, the kids felt like it was the best thing to do, so I supported them and prepared the meal.   Even all the preparations for the family event, began to feed my desperation for family.  Sunday, Father's Day arrived.  The kids and I went to church and celebrated fathers.  Then, we came home and I put the final details of our Family Meal together and our guests arrived.  Though their father only stayed a little over an hour, that hour was a feast for my desperation for family.  We enjoyed one another's company.  The kids presented their gift to their dad and their grandfather.  We ate.  We laughed.  We talked.  We were family for that moment, and "desperate" was fed.

Then, there was a period of time that I felt desperate for companionship!
 I was just plain lonely!  I know it is probably difficult to imagine that a single mother of 4, and all of their friends, could possibly feel lonely, but I was lonely!  I missed those weekend date nights.  I missed knowing that something social would take place.  I missed having someone to do something with.  I missed grown-up activities.  Desperate for companionship and it seemed to get worse.  I could not figure out how to feed this one.  I was not about to go on a date.  I was not ready for that at all.  I knew I needed to feed it, but how?  Within days I received an invitation from a close girl friend, to attend a work benefit dinner.  She said she could bring a guest and she wondered if I would like to go.  My first reaction was, "No, homework, kids, nothing to wear, I would not be very good company..." then I said "Sure," and surprised myself.   We had been friends for years, and she too, found herself a single mother.  Later that week, I found something to wear and she picked me up.  It was a beautiful event.  She introduced me to her co-workers.  We ate a wonderful meal, listened to a comedian and then a speaker.  As we drove home, I thanked her for inviting me and told her how much I enjoyed just being out.  As I went to bed that night, I realized, desperate for companionship had been fed.

I have realized that we all experience feelings of desperation from time to time.  But, as Families Change, we often find ourselves desperate for things, feelings and people, that are no longer possibilities.  Rather than ignoring my desperate thoughts and feelings, I found that feeding them was the best remedy.  Those feelings are real and normal.  We long to be with someone that is no longer with us.  So, perhaps, we feed that desperation with a walk down memory lane, looking at photo albums, visiting a grave sight or a place that we loved to go together.  As we feed desperation, desperation cannot consume us.  We just need to feed it in healthy and positive ways.   If we are desperate for children---and there are definitely children out there to be loved.  In our neighborhoods, churches, schools and even families.  Maybe we are desperate for normal.  And, perhaps a night of take-out and no worries of homework or money is just the key.  Or, maybe keeping up with a family tradition, like Christmas ice skating, even though Families Change, is the perfect way to feed our desperation for family.  And, I discovered that desperation for companionship is something many of us experience, who have experienced loss, divorce or change.  And, just taking time to spend with people, when the adversary wants you to sulk in sorrow and depression, is a great way to feed such desperation.  I realized that if I did not feed my desperation it was going to consume me.  A true leader is one who gives hope to others, no matter how desperate the situation.  As a mother, I am a leader.  I had four little ones depending on me for hope, and now, I have ten kids looking to me for various types of love, encouragement, guidance and hope.  What to do with desperate?  Creatively feed it in healthy ways, then go on and lift, love and inspire hope, in all those whom we have been blessed enough to be surrounded with! Desperation can lead to inspiration, when we realize it's there, and it is OK. I desperately hope to inspire others by sharing some of my heartache.  For this reason, I share---- What to do with Desperate?