Life On The Other Side…

Mamma Mia!
April 12, 2010, 5:29 pm
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Have you ever seen the movie “Mamma Mia”?   Being an avid fan of abba back in the day, I loved this movie.

Sometimes I wish life was like a movie.   Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to sing through the ups and downs of life?  Here you have a single mom, who can still sing and dance through all her troubles.   Why did my life not become a musical when I became single?

I thought I was a good parent.  I taught my children about the Lord.  I prayed for them daily.  I work hard so they don’t go hungry and have a nice home to live in.   I give my all so my kids can have a good life.  Some people think I spoil my children, but I don’t think I do.  I expect a lot from them.  I don’t allow them to just sit around and eat bon-bons every day.  They have responsibilities.  I don’t buy them everything they ask for, because quite frankly, I can’t afford to buy them whatever they want!  They are good kids.

So, when did I become a bad mom?  When did my life become all about me?  Where did I go wrong?  Why do I now need to walk on egg shells around my children because no matter what I say or do, I “don’t listen to them”, they “can’t talk to me anymore”, they all discuss how when I’m stressed out, I ‘take it out on them”.   What do I need to do different?  What am I doing wrong???

Sophie never talked back to her mom.  Sophie never yelled and got angry at her mom.  Sophie’s mom was the “Dancing Queen” for goodness sake!  Why can’t my life be a musical?  Is it because I cry and get angry about my lack of finances and every day problems instead of singing about them?

If my life were a musical, I could:

Sing about my favorite things when I was feeling bad because girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes really have no appeal to me at this time.

Sing about dancing all night when I have an exciting evening mostly because who wants to dance over an evening of watching “Survivor”?

Sing super long words when I just don’t know what else to say because “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious” is a much nicer word than d@m#.

Sing about my prince coming some day, while scrubbing the floors because my prince did come and turned out to be a frog.

Sing a happy song while rodents and birds cleaned my house because quite frankly, rodents creep me out.

Sing and dance in the rain instead of running for cover and hope that my basement window well was not leaking!

See the world on a magic carpet instead of being content to look at someone else’s vacation pictures.

Ask Argentina to not cry for me because I’m pretty sure it cries daily for me.

Feel the love tonight because I sure didn’t feel it last night.

Climb every mountain because right now I just don’t think my 40+ body could take it!

Wouldn’t life be grand as a musical?   Unfortunately, life isn’t a musical–at least mine isn’t.  Every morning I wake up to a blaring alarm clock, drag myself to the bedroom and get ready to start the day.  I get my kids off to school, go to work, come home, get dinner ready, plop down in front of the TV to watch how the “real” housewives live, and then go to bed.  I don’t look like Julie Andrews or Meryl Streep (thankfully!), and I certainly don’t have a heavenly voice like Ms. Andrews. (If only!)   I don’t have captains or men that look like Pierce Brosnan vying for my love.  I don’t have children that come running when I blow a whistle, nor do I have children that have a nanny!

Of course, if my life were a musical, I don’t think I could have ever climbed the Alps to escape the Nazi’s, and I could most certainly not leave the hunky Phantom for Raul….  Instead, I get angry, I get frustrated, I get stressed out.  Sorry, that’s real life.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a ride in my surrey with the fringe on top…


The Glory of the Blood
April 3, 2010, 5:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the solitary moment of His birth

On this barren, dusty land

All of Heaven kissed the face of earth

With a miracle of love

God became a man

But He was sent away to draw His final breath

When He was only thirty-three

And in the shame of dying, a criminal’s death

He cleansed an angry world

And in His suffering I see

The glory of the blood

The beauty of the body

That was broken for our forgiveness

The glory of His perfect love

Is the heart of the story

The glory of the blood.

I could not have said it any better….

“For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

That whosoever believeth on Him,

Should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

The Glory Written By Jim Cooper and Regie Hamm

Praying for a Miracle
March 31, 2010, 10:46 pm
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“Home For Sale”…those three words are the three most dreaded words in my vocabulary these days.   When my husband asked for a divorce 2 years ago now, he told me I could keep the house–he didn’t care about it.   Now, 2 years later he is demanding we sell the house.  Mind you, there is no court order to sell the house as we have not even filed for divorce, but it has now come down to the fact that I can no longer afford the house.  (This has more to do with him not paying me what he is supposed to be paying me in alimony/child support than what the monthly payment is, but once again, it’s that darn thing about not having filed for divorce yet!)

I love my home.  We had it built almost 7 years ago. It was my dream home.  It had a 300 sq foot kitchen and double ovens!  I picked the cabinets, the flooring (by the way, off-white carpet—big mistake!!), the color, etc….  There is not much I would change about the house.  I adore this house.  It’s a great house for entertaining all the girls’ friends.

I also love my neighbors.  They are the best.  Who else would go outside, in the middle of the night to see who was knocking on your door??   They have prayed with me, helped me, and sat with me while I cried my eyes out.  They shovel my walks when it snows, and they clean my furnace because it needs to be done and they know I cannot afford to have it done.  There aren’t too many neighbors out there that would let you sit on their couch and go through a whole box of their Kleenex!

I got a call from a realtor in January saying that my almost-ex had made an appointment to put the house on the market THAT WEEK!!  Are you kidding me?  No, thank you was my response.  I figured that eventually I would have to put it on the market, especially considering that he would not be making full alimony/child support payments until the court ordered him to do so.  Although I knew it would have to go on the market, I knew it wasn’t ready.  Or more to the fact…I wasn’t ready…

Had you seen inside my closets?!?  (No, because I would never allow it!)  Had you looked under the bathroom sink?!  Everything was under there including the bathroom sink!  The girls bedrooms??  Don’t even go there!   Although I cleaned my house fairly regularly, I am the clutter queen and a pack rat to boot!  I don’t like filth, but a little mess does not bother me.

And should I even mention the “abyss”?  That’s what we lovingly refer to the unfinished basement as.  Every item that didn’t have a place was banished to the abyss whether we wanted it or not:  dead computers, old thousand pound monitors, microwaves that no longer waved….you name it, it was down there!   I still have baby clothes down there for goodness sake, and I am NOT planning on having anymore babies!  It is 1,400 sq feet of boxes and junk!

How in the world would I get everything done?  I had planned on going through everything, down-sizing, getting rid of and purging a lot of things.  I started out fairly well, then it happened…the tears came forth like Hurricane Katrina!  I did not want to move!  I didn’t want to sell my home.  Why should I have to give up everything?  I know what rentals look like! (At least the ones I could afford.)  Where would we live?  How could I run my photography studio out of a rental home in a bad neighborhood?  I became paralyzed.

I could no longer go through things.  Each box, opened a new floodgate of memories.   Every time I tried to clean something out, my heart could not stand it.  Every time I thought about setting up an appointment to put the house on the market, my heart and stomach wanted to lurch out of my body.   Did I mention that I do not want to sell my house?

I am a Christian.  I believe that God has blessed us with all blessings.  I believe that God gives us the desires of our heart.  Is it selfish to desire a home that I love?  Would I tell my children, “No, you cannot have a beautiful home because that is selfish.”?  Would I tell my children that living in a rental home in a bad neighborhood is what I have planned for their future?  Is that what I am expecting God to say to me?

At this time of the year, I am reminded of what Christ did for us.  When He went to the cross, He took all poverty and sickness, so that I might live in health and prosperity.  His wish is that I live in health and prosperity.   Am I talking about the “name it and claim it” idea?  No.  I believe God’s Word.   God’s Word says that He will give me the desires of my heart.  I believe that if we are seeking Him, He places the desires in our heart.  He directs us through our hearts, but this only “works” if we are seeking Him and reading His word.  I am seeking the Lord.  Right now, I desire to stay in my home, but more than that I desire to do what God has planned for me.  I know He has a plan for good and not for evil for me.

I just received another phone call from the realtor….J (my ex) has called her again and told her we were ready.  Maybe he’s ready–heck he moved out 2 years ago!–I’m still not ready.   I still have not finished cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and Murphy Oil soaping the cabinets and handrails.  I haven’t done all the things I need to do.  I can’t.  I am paralyzed.  I can’t move forward.  It is not within me to do these things.  I am doing everything I can to make more money to be able to stay in this home I love.   I go to bed at night, telling myself that in the morning I will get up and get these things done.  Morning comes and I don’t have the energy…my heart will not allow it.

Is it wrong of me to stand on God’s Word?  Is it ridiculous of me to even consider that God will make a way for me to stay here?  I can no longer depend on help from my family.  I cannot depend on a husband that only wants to sell the house for the money he hopes to get out of it. (Which is probably nothing given the housing market these days).  Is it standing in faith, if I prepare the house and put it on the market?

I thought I was holding on to the house for my children.  I thought it was one less thing that would change in their world.  They’ve had so many changes to go through…could I put them through one more?   We have already been through so many of the top stressors in life.  I talked to my girls about this last night.  I told them I was running out of time for miracles.  Do you know what they said to me?  “Mom, we don’t care where we live.  As long as we’re together that’s all that matters.”   I was a little relieved to hear those words. That means I didn’t have to try to hang on to the house for them, but today I woke up and there was another message from the realtor….Had I gotten her message?  When could we set up an appointment to put the house on the market?  My heart broke again.  I now realize that I wasn’t just holding onto it for the girls.  I am holding on to it for ME!  So much has changed for me that I wanted one thing that was the same!

You may think that the house holds too many bad memories–  yes, it does.  If the walls could talk, they would tell of angry fights, obscenities being shouted at me,  tears and rage.  But, it would also tell of my children laughing with their friends.  My children and I praying together for God to meet our needs.  It would tell of the many miracles we have seen in the past two years.  It would speak of the peace and joy that has now been experienced in this home.  It would tell you about the Christmases, the parties, the first dates, proms, braces getting put on and braces being taken off.  I don’t remember the bad things anymore.  I try to only remember the good things.  I remember when the house was being built.  I wrote scriptures on the foundation walls.  I wrote a scripture behind the drywall on each of my daughters’  bedroom.   I remember getting in the car, every day for 3 months to drive out to the house to see how much had been done that day.

Maybe it’s foolish of me to want to keep my home, but for now I will believe that a miracle will happen and I will get to keep this home.   I will put it on the market to appease those who think I am being foolish, but in my heart I will continue to pray for a miracle.

How May I Help You Today???
March 29, 2010, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I work for a customer service phone center.  After spending a considerable amount of time on the receiving end of such calls, I have a very deep appreciation for customer service agents!!  Here are a few guidelines to those of you that might find yourself calling a customer service line:

1)  The customer service agent does NOT make the rules!  Whether it’s a return policy or a problem with whatever it is you’ve gotten, the agent HAS to go by the rules of their job!  We cannot do whatever you ask, just because you ask!  Or because such and such a company does it.  We have rules, and we must follow those rules or we lose our jobs.

2)  Customer Service agents are probably not the ones that sent you the wrong order or caused your item not to work.  Please don’t yell at us or curse at us.  We are there to serve you, but who wants to serve a shrew?!?  Things will go a lot better if you understand this.  I am way more willing to do everything I can to make you happy, if you treat me with a little respect.

3)  When we ask you questions, it’s not because we are being nosy.  In most cases, it will help us to rectify the situation more quickly.  Sometimes, as in the case of where I work, I am required to ask certain questions, and if I don’t, I can lose my job!

4) When asked to verify your address, please give the complete address!  Your street address means nothing without a city and state.   Also, if we are verifying your address, it means we have it in front of us so we don’t need you to spell everything (as in: “c” is in charlie, “a” as in apple, etc…), we just need to make sure you still live at the same address.

5) When giving new information, such as an address, phone number or credit card number, please speak clearly and semi-slowly.   If you run all the information together or say it too fast, we will be asking you to repeat yourself, so save us both some time and say it clearly and semi-slowly.

6)  Please don’t curse or yell at us!   Did I already mention this?  I guess I did, but it’s still worth mentioning twice.

7) All of these rules apply unless you get the customer service agent from hell, that is rude, lazy and a jerk.  In that case…curse away!

So….how may I help you today???

It’s Not Fair!
March 29, 2010, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The three words I have heard a lot in the past 2 years from my youngest daughter, N.  She is 11 years old, so there is a lot that is not fair in her world.  It’s not fair that she can’t have a Facebook.  It’s not fair that she has to go to bed at 8:30pm.  It’s not fair that she has to go to school.  And on and on it goes!  The biggest unfair thing these days, is that it’s not fair that she doesn’t get to do things other kids do.

This is the one unfair thing that I feel responsible for.  All of her friends get to go on vacations, they all get new clothes, new toys, Wii’s and games, etc…  Now I have never been one to “keep up with the Jones'”, but this is different.  These are things that are unfair because her parents are getting divorced.

As a single mom, I can’t afford to take my girls on vacation.  I can’t even afford to go to Denver overnight as a mini-vacation!  When all my daughter’s friends are going to places like Hawaii or Disneyworld, N has to settle for a Spring Break of being shuttled between friends and family because I work and can’t take time off.   She asks almost weekly if she will ever be able to go to Disneyworld again.  Or to San Diego.  Or anywhere!  I hate the answer always has to be “I don’t know”.

I know she will survive without ever going to Disneyworld again.  Heck, some people have never been to Disneyworld and at least she’s been once.  I think underneath it all, she wants to know that things will some day be normal.

Some day, we will be able to go on vacations.  Or some day, when she needs new uniform pants, she won’t have to wait until after the bills are paid and see what we have left.  Or some day, she won’t be nervous about asking if she can go to a birthday party because she doesn’t know if we can afford a present.   That makes me want to cry.

I wish people knew beforehand what they are putting their kids through when they decide they don’t want to be married anymore.  That it isn’t fun anymore.   When people are so selfish that they want out so they can have fun!   It just is not fair…

Being an Ex-Con….
March 25, 2010, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Continental Singers, Tour N, 1988

I admit it…I am an ex-Con.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, or am wondering about my past life, have no worries.  It isn’t as horrible as it sounds.

In the summer of 1988, I had the privilege of touring with a singing group known as “The Continental Singers”.  The Continental Singers have been around since 1967.   Since it’s inception, over 45,000 young people have been apart of it, performing over 1,500 concerts per year across all 50 states and world-wide.

What started out as a dare, ended up being an amazing adventure and the start of some wonderful friendships.  A couple of friends and I decided to audition for the Cons when they came to our church in 1987.   It was a dare.  Out of the 5 of us that auditioned, only 2 of us were eventually chosen to tour in the summer of 1988.  I chose the tour that would take me to Scandinavia, Holland and West Germany.  After raising the funds necessary to participate, I was off to rehearsal camp at beautiful Westmont College outside of  Santa Barbara, CA(I think!  It’s been 22 years!).

Rehearsal camp was HARD!  All we did was sing, dance/choreograph and eat…very rarely did we sleep!  I was so sore after the first day, I could barely move for the remaining part of camp.  At the end of rehearsal camp, we were loaded onto buses with our respective tour members and launched into the great unknown—well the United States of America and abroad!

I remember our tour bus quite well…we were each given a tiny bin above the seats for our “things”.  You could never imagine how much stuff could be placed in a little 12″x10″ bin!!  (I don’t know if those are the exact measurements, but it sure seemed like it!).  Our bus also did not have air conditioning, which was fabulous, seeing as how we would be spending a great deal of time in the deserts of California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico in the middle of June!  Can I just say that 30 some-odd people, stuffed in a bus with no air conditioning, under those circumstances could be viewed as child abuse?  Well, I guess only if we were children…..(There were a few kids under 18 years of age, though).  We also could not use the restroom in the bus, and we should probably be thankful for that with all the junk we ate on that tour bus!    Anyway…our bus driver was a crusty old character by the name of “Shane”.  Shane was probably in his 60’s, but clearly looked 80 through my 24 year old eyes.  I could imagine Shane as a sailor…and all that implies….Today, he reminds me of Krusty Krabb on Spongebob Squarepants.  Although he was the grumpy sort, we learned to love that old guy!

Anyway…we toured all over the US and 5 European countries.  We stayed, for the most part, in the homes of people that attended whatever church we performed in on that given night.  Every night the church people fed us dinner.  I am surprised that we all didn’t go home looking like blimps, given all the potluck food we were given to eat!  Occasionally, we would hit the jackpot of a church, where they would serve us something different, like steaks and baked potatoes.  One church even took us to dinner at a hospital restaurant! (That according to the official tour journal was a great restaurant)  I could have written a book about some of the people I stayed with, but now my memory is dim and I only remember a select few….Like the “Cat-lady”

The “Cat-Lady”, bless her heart, had a hundred cats (probably not THAT many, but at least 5 or 6).  These cats were allowed everywhere and I mean everywhere, including the kitchen counters!   I must add in here quickly that the people that we stayed with were also supposed to pack us lunches for the next day…you see where this is going, don’t you?!?   Well, why we are eating breakfast (I can’t remember who else was with me), Cat-Lady was making our sandwiches on the kitchen counter.  As we sat there watching,  the cats begin to jump up on the counter, walking all over the bread and lunchmeat!!   I knew immediately that I was not going to be eating lunch that day.  I don’t like to be rude, but cat hair in my sandwich is not acceptable.

I also stayed with the pastor of one church, who had a couple of teenage/older sons.  I was down in their basement doing my laundry, and one of his sons walked down the stairs, stood in front of me, and dropped his pants!!  In that very moment, in my mind, I was thinking…”Where the heck do I look????”  I don’t even remember what I did, but I do know that you never saw me go up stairs as quickly as I did at the moment!   And I certainly could not maintain eye contact with that boy the rest of the time!

We were instructed early on that we did not want to be offensive to any of our hosts, so some of us developed a way of passing food around that we didn’t like so it didn’t offend the hosts!  I remember one day, Gretchen and I stayed with a family that made some sort of egg that was barely cooked, and served on a cute little stand.  You were supposed to break the shell and eat the eggs with a spoon because they were runny.  I thought I would pass out.  I think Gretchen noticed the look of sheer panic on my face (mostly for the lack of blood that had quit circulating through my body) and after she ate her egg, when the host woman turned around to make our lunch, we switched eggs real quick, and Gretchen ate mine as well.  At that moment in time, I knew I would forever be grateful to Gretchen!  I think she also saved my weak stomach when we were in Sweden and were served boiled shrimp, complete with eyes, veins and those little antennae…. To this day I cannot look at shrimp and those kinds of eggs without thinking about Gretchen and the Cons.

It was a fabulous adventure.  At first, I didn’t want to go.  I had auditioned on a dare and didn’t really think I’d be accepted.  My mom MADE me go!  She said I would always regret not going if I didn’t.  I can actually say that I am glad that on this particular subject, she was right and I was very glad she used her authority on me.  Over the years, I lost track of most of the members of the tour, but through Facebook, have gotten reacquainted with almost everyone again.  I love that as Christians, it didn’t matter that we hadn’t seen each other since August of 1988.  We were ex-Cons, who loved Christ, spent a summer sharing that love and now, 22 years later, we are still friends.

It’s the Little Things….
March 25, 2010, 4:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This morning I woke up to a winter wonderland…at least 6 inches of the white stuff.  Welcome to Springtime in the Rockies!!    I was hoping for a snow day at work, but had to suffice with a 2-hour delay.  As I backed out of the garage, leaving my darling daughters all snuggled asleep in bed, I noticed that all the sidewalks in the neighborhood had been shoveled except mine, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Now, a non-shoveled sidewalk should not bring tears to your eyes, but as I watched the men in the neighborhood out shoveling or snow-blowing their walks, it just reminded me once again that I am alone.  Not alone in the way that a person is that lives by themselves, but alone in the sense that I no longer have a significant other that will shovel my sidewalks…or mow my lawn…or take out the trash.

I no longer have someone to share the load with.  When decisions need to be made, I have to make them myself.  When I am tired and feel like I can’t do one more thing, I realize that I can’t tell the kids to “go ask your dad” anymore.   Tired or not, it’s me and me alone.

I feel bad that I have to expect so much from my children these days.  Since I work outside the home now, I have to ask them to do things like cleaning the house and doing the laundry.  I just cannot do it all by myself anymore.  I’ve tried “doing it all” for the past 2 years and know that if I want to live long enough to raise my children I need help!  I blew up at my kids last night, telling them that I had to have their help.  That they needed to start doing things on a more regular basis.  We all went to bed last night in bad moods.

When I got home from work tonight, I walked into a home that smelled of chicken cooking and wild rice.  I could tell the house had been vacuumed, and someone had neatly arranged the shoes by the garage door.  Then I went into the den and saw a piece of paper laying on the desk.  Across the top of the paper, in big, bold letters it said “CHORES”.  The girls had written out a daily chore sheet, with chores ranging from cooking dinner to cleaning the bathroom to doing the laundry.  It had chores on the sheet for every day of the week.  Once again: tears in my eyes.  I need my children to help out, but I don’t want them to be slaves, working every day.  I appreciate their hearts, but they are still children too.  I hate that I have to rely on them for so much.  I know that this will make them stronger, but I also don’t want to rob them of their childhood.

I am alone.  I understand why God intended for a man and woman to be together.  Why it takes two to raise children.   God did not intend for me to work, to raise children, to keep a home and everything that falls in between.   It’s hard to be alone.  It’s hard to go to bed and not have someone there on the other side of the bed.  Don’t get me wrong….I don’t really miss the man that was my husband.  He wasn’t really “there” for me anyway.  I miss having someone to share the load with.   I hope that one day, I find someone that will have arms and love big enough to wrap around the four of us.  Someone that will love and adore me.  Someone that will love and adore my children.  Most of all, someone that loves and adores God above all. And someone that will shovel my sidewalks….after all, sometimes, it’s the little things…