Four months old!

Winnekenni Park
Winnekenni Park

Hey Feather Friends! Can you believe it’s been four months since I started blogging?! Me either! I can’t believe how much I have learned and grown since starting Moms of a Feather.

Before I started the blog, I had been playing around with the idea of blogging. It was (still is) kind of hard to find a niche`. I am a girl with such an eclectic personality, and it shows in my interests. I love a little bit of everything; all genres of books, movies, music, and hobbies.

I pursue whatever captivates me at the moment, and I never let inexperience get in the way!

So even though I felt like there are already a million blogs about crafts and cooking, I still wanted to jump into the blogosphere. I spent a lot of time pondering, questioning, doubting. The niggling in my mind didn’t go away.

The last few years have been pretty emotional for me. About three months ago, it really came to a crescendo, and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. You can read more from one of my first posts here. It was then that I felt the Lord calling me to blog about my struggles. It seems weird to put your family drama on the internet, but so many of us rely on technology for everything, and social media is a huge part of our lives now.

We latch onto social media because we want to be connected, even though we sometimes disconnect to the people in the room. We want to be a part of other people’s lives, even if we never speak to them on the phone, or in person. We want to raise our hand, as we click the “like” button, to say “hey! me too!” When we are lonely, or hurting, we also log on to find solace, or escape. So online, is a great place to be to reach those who are hurting.

In the last few months, I’ve checked out books and taught myself a little about managing a website. I’ve scoured Pinterest for help learning this new language of IT stuff that I never knew existed. If you had asked me three months ago what  great SEO was, I couldn’t tell you….it’s still a little sketchy, to be perfectly honest.  I’m definitely not a blogging diva, and I won’t be writing a post about how much money I made blogging anytime soon. I’m still learning. It seems like the internet wants to tell you what to do to be successful. I never feel like I fit into anyone’s box of requirements. I’m going to just do my own thing!

As for my mental health? There is still a lot of healing to be done in my family, but I am so incredibly blessed. Four months ago, I was starting counseling because I was having anxiety issues at work. My personal hurts and struggles made it difficult to handle stress at work. I would get panicky and paranoid. I let too many things bother me, and I couldn’t stop analyzing them. I would think about work non-stop when I wasn’t there. I would dream about it, or even if I briefly woke up in the middle of the night, I would immediately start thinking about it and not be able to sleep. It was so frustrating that I let people bother me so much that I doubted myself, and my abilities. I had spent over a decade with this company, I knew how to do my job! It was my self-confidence I had lost. Myself period. I didn’t want to be like that, but I didn’t know how to make it better. I clung to my bible, and prayed harder.

Little did I know that the Lord was already at work.

There have been a lot of positive changes in my life in the last few months. We were already in the planning process to move from Florida to Massachusetts, when I went to counseling. I knew we were going to have some changes that we hoped would improve our lives, but I needed help immediately. Part of me feared that I would lose my job. At work, a peer and I switched jobs, which was my saving grace. I still worked with the people that I allowed to have so much power over my emotions, but in my new capacity, it was a non-issue. I was given a specific goal, and I was given free reign to make it happen.

I’ve learned that when it comes to my personality and my brand of anxiety, vagueness is the root of all evil! I need specifics. A goal. A task. A clear set of expectations. Something that you can grasp being able to achieve. Without that, it is easy to get too overwhelmed.

Maybe that’s why parenting is so hard!? Where is the manual? Did they forget to give me one at the hospital?? But I digress….

In the last couple months in Florida, I accomplished quite a bit, and it went a long way to make me feel successful. I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I hadn’t lost my abilities. They were there all along, but my anxiety was getting in the way. My anxiety and stress levels continued to decrease. When we got here to Massachusetts, I took a step down the corporate ladder, and down again, cutting out weekends. The old me would have agonized about how the store managers felt, but not anymore. Family first! In order to let my husband move ahead with his career, this is necessary. I don’t consider it a step down. I consider it a step up in being able to care for my family, and myself, better! I found a different full time job that is only Monday through Friday. I take this as another blessing. Five years ago, I tried to find this in Florida, but with no success. That’s why I ended up back in retail. So, no more nights and weekends, no more missed parties, activities, weddings, or bedtime stories! Yes! Finally!

My last little blessing before leaving my job has been that I’ve been able to really enjoy a stress free work environment! I have been able to do what I like to do most, with nobody bothering me. I leave with a sense of accomplishment, which absolutely bolsters my confidence. I think God wanted to give me one last little boost! I’m excited to start my new adventure next week. I’m also enjoying all the time I get with my family.

Bonus: I get a week off in December!!!!

I’ve spent my life in retail ya’ll…IT”S GONNA BE AMAZING!!!!!!

 

 

 

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Zoom out to God’s Perspective

In my last post, I told ya’ll that God had been reminding me to wait for Him. To be patient. He is continuing to remind me that He has a purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV) This is the Bible verse for my Bible study! I’ve been seeing similar verses and reminders everywhere! I think He is reminding me to hold on!

I’ve been doing a Bible study focusing on the book of Ruth. This story is only four chapters, but her story shows us how God’s Will prevails, in unexpected ways. I’ve always heard a lot of praise for this small story, but I’ve never understood what all the hype was about. I’ve read it several times, but it just didn’t mean that much to me. What was so great?

What’s her story?

Naomi had two sons. Both her sons married, and after about ten years, they both died. Her husband being passed away, Naomi took both her daughters in-law and set out to live in her hometown. She urged both the women to return to their own families. One of the women left, but Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law.

Factoid: Naomi’s other daughter-in-law was named Orpah. Sound familiar? Yep, this was Oprah’s intended name, but a typo gave her the famous moniker we all know. That is, if you believe everything you read online. Anyway….

Let’s pause here for a moment, and zoom in to street level.

Ruth was married to her husband for ten years. We don’t know how the brothers died. Perhaps it was war (it was Bible times after all..always a war somewhere), maybe it was an illness. I’m sure Ruth’s hopes and dreams were crushed. She no longer had her husband to grow old with. What about dreams of bearing children? This is not what she had in mind. I can relate. We have our lives planned, and then stuff happens. Suddenly, we find ourselves on a path that we never wanted to be on.

Naomi had lost her husband, and now her two sons. When they got to Bethlehem, Naomi told the people to call her “Mara”, which means “bitter”. She was a bitter woman after the tragedies that she experienced. I imagine her life was not what she wanted it to be either. We know that she was a woman of God. I bet she prayed for the protection of her husband and sons. Perhaps she prayed for God to spare them. Yet He did not. She was returning to her hometown at the lowest point in her life. She had lost her identity.  She told everyone that “the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21) Was she trying to understand why God had done this to her? Why didn’t He answer her prayers? Why had He taken away her family?

As Christians, we like to believe that if we pray hard enough, and are faithful, that God will answer our prayers. We can get so caught up in what we want in our lives.When your prayers don’t get answered, do you believe that other people are not following God’s will, or do you accept that it is part of a greater plan?

Let’s jump back into the story.

Ruth does what she has to do: find work. She meets an honorable man who looks out for her. Long story short, they marry. Their son would be the grandfather of the great King David, and sixteen generations later…Jesus was born from this lineage.

After I had read the book of Ruth the other day, I put it on the coffee table, and just shrugged my shoulders. I still didn’t see what the big deal was. I thought about the story, and pondered. Meditating on His Word.

Later that night, I was lying in bed thinking. It was as if the light switch came on.

Bingo!

When you zoom out, way way out, from Ruth’s story,  you see why things happened the way they did. From God’s perspective, you can see how the pieces shifted and fell into place. You realize that Naomi’s husband and sons died for a reason. Ruth’s husband died, to fulfill the ultimate purpose of God.

From God's perspective, you can see how the pieces shifted and fell into place.

These women were brought to a place of deep sorrow.  But their suffering was not inflicted to please God, but in order to make way for Jesus. The horrible things we face in life. Things we pray for God to NOT allow, or beg God to give us, that we never receive, may be the very things He intends for us. Not because He doesn’t care, but because He does. We pray for God to take away illnesses, or for our loved ones to do the things we want them to do.

If we pray God’s will in our lives, are we really prepared for what He wants. Are we willing to move in His direction? Do we doubt doing the right thing if it seems difficult? If it seems totally crazy, or if we just don’t like it? Was Ruth scared, or angry? She may have questioned, but she went. She chose to work to provide for herself without expecting what God had in store for her. God gave her a new life. A loving husband, and a son. He restored her joy, and gave her more than she expected. Naomi also had joy restored with a grandson. This life would not have been possible. The lineage of Jesus would not have been possible, if not for the tragedies they endured.

You’ve heard the saying “hindsight’s 20/20.” It is easy to see God’s hand in our lives, when looking back. Seeing it in our lives in the moment is the hard part. Our tough situations that we pray long and hard for God to take away, just might be what He has given to us on purpose. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) As a human, Jesus did not want to suffer, so he asked for God to spare him, but he wanted God’s will for him. God’s will was for him to be a living sacrifice for us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

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None of us want to suffer. “Be we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3). This verse coupled with Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” give us some pretty strong promises to hold on to!

Hang on my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I will continue

Today I have so many emotions and thoughts running through my head, it is hard to filter through the noise. I sat down with a cup of coffee and my Bible to gain some insight, some new perspective…something. I love it when I’m reading a passage, and the words jump right off the page. That does not always happen.

Even when God’s direction and voice don’t seem clear in that moment, the Holy Spirit holds these words in my heart. I still believe.

I love my Bible. It’s the best present I’ve ever received. It’s battered and dog-eared. It has many highlights and underlines, and side remarks. Even doodles from times my attention was elsewhere. I like reading a passage, and seeing something that was meant for me to hear at a different time. That’s the power of the Word. A passage can mean different things to different people, and show you a new message at a different time.

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When I re-dedicated my life to the Lord in 2003, I dove into the words because I wanted to know how I should be living. If we are called to be followers of Christ, what does that mean? What are his commands, and how do we accomplish this? This is probably why I love the Apostle Paul so much. He guides and shows how to live it out. He makes it practical. I had such a craving for this daily bread to fill me up.  I read the whole book through in just a few months.

Funny, I sat down to write about my emotions, and now I sound like a preacher. Let it flow Lord!

When I first felt the calling to write this blog, I prayed and prayed about it. I wanted to do His will. To let His words flow, to be used for a purpose that I didn’t yet know. I knew there was a purpose in this, but I still don’t know the full extent of it. I felt another desperate desire to dive into His Word again. Let me just say, I do not read my Bible faithfully everyday. I am guilty of clinging more to my faith when times get tough. But I do pray all day long, in a constant conversation with the Lord. Admittedly, I do most of the talking. Anyway, words and phrases kept jumping out at me over and over again. Songs on the radio, or just words in my head repeating. But, I felt that same calling; to hear His word.

I knew He was up to something.

My heart told me to go straight to the book of Acts. Jesus commanded his followers to “go and make disciples.” This book is the story of what the disciples did after he ascended into heaven. So this book was the “now what?” part of the story.

If God has called me to do this, now what?

So I dove in. Through Paul’s words, I was reminded that if I step out in faith and write about Him. I would be persecuted for Him. Okay Lord, so this won’t be easy for me. Point taken. I’m just going to have to gear up for it. Then my counselor told me that her church just happened to be doing a study, based on a book about “putting on the armor of God.”

I see what you did there.

So back to my reading: Paul’s account shows so much tenacity. He goes from place to place, basically evangelizing most of the known world at that time. He was persecuted, beaten, jailed, yet he stayed the course. He picked up and moved on to the next place. He loved, and shared, and was given much love in return.

I’m always a little jealous because he clearly understood his purpose. The Lord called, and he went, and his efforts were rewarded. I have spent so many years praying for God’s purpose for my life. Yes, I admit, I want the plan just laid out for me. I’m a big picture kind of person. I want to know! I want to know the path, and faithfully follow it, marching with my head held high in confidence. I know if I make a bad choice, that it will render consequences unforeseen. I’d rather skip that. So the Holy Spirit quietly reminds me to “wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

Sigh. Okay God. I will try to be patient. Then I start praying that if a decision I’m pondering is not the right one, that He would make it abundantly clear! Stop me. Slap me upside the head; whatever it takes! He’s done that for me in just a few hours of praying that prayer before, so I have no qualms about praying it!

I haven’t done any fancy writing that would earn me any accolades. That’s not my intention. I wanted to reach out to other moms who are dealing with similar situations to mine. Other moms who are separated from their children and are hurting. I thought that was the direction God was taking me. Perhaps it still is.  This blog has stirred up plenty of emotions. I had no doubts that it would cause a stir in my family. What surprises me is that I started this blog for my own healing and perhaps other moms, but God is using it in my own family. I know that emotions are high, but I praise God. My daughter who holds her emotions in has been letting them fly! She thinks I will be angry with her words.  It makes me happy that she is letting it out. We had another long talk. I don’t know if it helped. I only have control over myself. I can only do what I have the power to do; which is to speak the truth, and reassure her of my love. I don’t have any control over how she takes  it. That is all I can do.

In the midst of intense emotional situations, remember that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) We have been crushed and broken for so long Lord, hold us closer.

It will get worse before it gets better. Wading through the emotions is never easy. I will continue to seek sanctuary under His wings. I will continue to pray for healing and truth. I will continue to take my daily bread.

I will continue.

 

 

 

 

 

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Side effects of living in Florida

Florida is known for its miles of beautiful coastlines, numerous lakes, golf courses, and of course M-I-C-K-E-Y (admit it..you sang it). All the family activities is what compelled us to move here. My husband, originally from Massachusetts, lived here twice previously, and couldn’t wait to get back. We even honeymooned here so he could convince me just how amazing it is.I was impressed. This Texas girl had only seen Texas and Mississippi beaches….definitely not the same as Florida coastline, even on the Gulf side. Three years later, we were packing up and waving goodbye to the Friendly State, and crossing into the Eastern Time Zone. We moved right into Disney’s backyard.

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Florida Orange Tree

 

 

Everything is geared towards tourism. Hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. There are souvenir shops, and places to sell your tickets, and hot air balloon rides, and helicopter rides, and mini-golf. We did get enjoyment out of the balloons though. They used to land near my daughters’ school, so we would see them up close every morning.

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Hot Air Balloon over our house

Traffic is the worst part of living outside the “Happiest Place on Earth,” both human and vehicular. There are just so many people here! Not only does traffic back up from people going to the parks, but all the people that work in the parks! You learn when to not go to certain restaurants, or beaches. There is no secret time to go to Disney either…its always busy! The area we moved to was mostly vacation homes. It lacked the sense of community that we wanted. It’s hard to get to know your neighbors when they change weekly.

Florida is the #1 vacation destination, but I never realized until I moved here, that many people come here for vacation..and decide to move here. According to http://visitfloridaonline.com/article_visit.htm, an estimated 958 people move to Florida each day! That’s over 350,000 a year! They come here from all over. It’s rare to be from Florida. Aside from the beaches, and the weather, Florida does not have a state income tax. That entices a lot of people from the northeast to head south. There are also tons of “snow birds”, or retirees who hold dual residence, that arrive to enjoy the warm weather.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of people move here to have a better life. They want to pay fewer taxes, enjoy nicer weather, and just enjoy life. The reality that they encounter is not always what they expect. Sure there are fewer taxes, and the cost of living is less, but wages are less too. Also, the education system is ranked pretty low compared to the rest of the country. Last year, we dropped to #28 on a national ranking. For more information, read about it here.  Retail, restaurant, and hospitality, are the jobs that are the most readily available. Horrible schedules, lower wages, and swarms of people everywhere, is what they end up with.

Many people, my family included, move here without any family around. Let’s face it, as an adult, it’s hard to make friends. You know the people you work with and that’s it. Unless you are plugged into a church, or some other type of organization, it’s challenging to meet new people. It can be very lonely. Earning less money doesn’t always make it easy to fly home to visit family. Luckily, people usually want to come visit Florida. We moved here wanting to improve our family life.

Boy did that blow up in our faces.

My daughters were unhappy we took them away from everyone, job situations didn’t improve (kind of hard to branch out of your industry when the job market is saturated). Things just didn’t go as planned. In the 5 years we’ve been here, our household has decreased by half. The girls went to live with their dad, and my mother-in-law headed back up North. The boys (hubby and son) and I try to enjoy the few weekends off that I get, but we mostly end up at Costco or GameStop. We miss family barbecues, and just being able to socialize with other people! Work, home, repeat is our lifestyle. We knew we needed a change. Life is too short to be lonely and miserable.

So after much deliberation, we decided to head up North. It was not an easy decision to make. It is one thing to have my girls move away from me, but for me to move and NOT be moving to where they are? That was a different thing altogether. When choosing to move, especially to another state, there are many things to consider: cost of living, income potential, housing, and social aspects.

The whole reason we want to move is to be near family.

Be Still and Listen
Be Still and Listen

When you are married it becomes an issue of whose family you choose to be closer to. I learned in my first marriage that when your parents, and your in-laws, live in different cities (or states), you can’t make everyone happy with where you live. You have to make the choice that’s right for your household. So my household will pack up and be one of few moving trucks headed North on I-95 this summer.

It’s hard to tell your parents, and children that you don’t believe it is the right thing to move closer to them.  I’ve spent so much time praying about this. I really want to follow God’s guidance in my life. I always want to make everyone happy, and I just can’t. I think God has the girls in Texas for a reason, but I don’t think that’s my place to be. I see the good things that are happening in their lives. Sure, I’m a little sad that it wasn’t that way when they were here, but I’m super proud of them.

I know I’m making another decision that won’t win me any popularity contests from my side of the family. I continue my prayers that God will heal this family, and truth will prevail.

The ball is rolling, and we are fine-tuning the details. Massachusetts here we come!

Stay tuned for more posts as this Texas girl discovers how Wicked New England really is.

 

 

 

 

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Healing of a Hot Mess Momma

This is not one of those blogs where I give you the “top 5” ways to improve your life. Please don’t think that I’ve gotten things figured out, and now that I’m all better, I can show you how. My healing journey is not over. No. Not even close.

When you scroll through Pinterest, you see a lot of bulleted lists of how to do just about everything. These pages make you think these people have the secrets of life figured out, or at least how to get your oven clean. Social media sometimes leaves us feeling inadequate, as we compare ourselves to others. The wonders of technology also have a tremendous amount of power. Power to link us to people that we would never encounter in our daily lives. It’s actually how my husband and I met.

Anyway, back to the reason for the blog…

These last few years have been a real doosie for me. My husband knew I was depressed and needed help before I did. Even after I knew I needed counseling, I still procrastinated. Eventually, things in my personal life collided with my performance at work, until I finally realized, it was time to bring in the professionals. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t cope with life. Hadn’t I already been through a tough season in life, when I got divorced? I managed that like a champ. Sure it was hard dealing with the girls being gone, but why was it harder than before?

_I tried making everyone happy. In reality, I didn't make anyone happy._

Then, I realized the difference.

I had been through some tough times in my personal life, but work was my escape. I had done well, and was working my way up through the ranks. Suddenly, for the first time, I wasn’t doing so well at work. When home life is tough, you can have some peace while at work. But, when work life became tough too, I was losing on all fronts. I was overwhelmed with the thought “I can’t win. I’m trying hard at everything in life, but I just can’t win.” Defeatism consumed me. Anxiety set in. I would get panicky if I felt like I wasn’t seeing the right results, not wanting to disappoint anyone. Emotionally, I just fell into moments of despair. I just wanted to cry.

So, I started counseling.

Back in January, I started praying for healing in my family. I begged God to heal all of us, in whatever way He deemed necessary. A bold prayer, I know. I felt like I had done all I could to make things better. I tried so many years to make everyone happy. In reality, I didn’t make anyone happy. Especially not me. When I told the counselor about my prayer, she said that me being there was the starting point in my healing. I don’t know why it struck a chord with me. Its seems blatantly obvious, but I hadn’t even considered that! I thought “Duh, Nik!”

I’ve started down this road to save my sanity, and gain some perspective. It will not be an easy journey. This blog is to share my journey. For others to share their journey. I know there are plenty of other Hot Mess Mommas out there!

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