Monday, December 29, 2014

Grief


You wake up in the morning and the day laughs at your pain. It is sunny and bright, cheerful and promising; everything opposite of how you feel.  
You count the days in minutes.  First a few seconds separate you from the person you loved, then the seconds melt into minutes and hurry into hours.  The minutes become days, weeks, and months.
You reach into a drawer, a closet, a cabinet and find you didn’t get rid of everything as well as you thought. Memories hide in the most unsuspecting and unforgiving places.  
You hear a voice and you turn, a smile on your face, ready to answer, forgetting for one second that it is not him or her.  
You think of a question, hear a joke, remember a story and you reach for the phone before you realize no one will answer at the other end.
A couple holds hands, a baby cries, you overhear a conversation, and you pray no one saw the naked look on your face before you walked away. 
If you could do it over, you would be more careful, more obedient, more diligent. You would treasure each minute, each day. You realize how much you miss what you had and how its absence affects your actions every day and your sleep every night.  
You regret words you said or didn’t, you miss all the moments you shared or didn’t, you wish you had stolen one more kiss, hug or smile. Unfinished business will forever stay unfinished.
You yell at anything and anyone – God, the loved one, the accident, the divorce, the disease. With the passing of time, you realize nothing assuages your pain.

For most of us the wounds heal.  They might leave a scar but they heal. Each in its own time. You learn to live with the wound that surrounds your heart, or that empty space will fill instead with good memories, with forgiveness, with acceptance. You can no more undo your grief than you can undo that they existed, that you once loved them, that they left their mark in your heart forever.   

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ditch the Divorce Tag


When do you stop being “divorced” and can start calling yourself “single” once again?
I don’t like the word “divorced;” it somehow attaches the ex-spouse to you like old gum on the bottom of your shoe, and I don’t think that is what you want. You legally ditched the ex, so being divorced should not dominate your introduction to others. 
If you never remarry again, doesn’t it condemn you for all eternity to say things like “Hi, I’m divorced.” to brand new acquaintances? This leads to questions like “Since when?”  And here you go again – dragging that old carcass into the preliminaries when you have more exciting things to discuss like politics, sports, your next dental appointment.     
Along with reclaiming my maiden name (and paying off the lawyers), I was newly single the moment I walked down the court steps and headed for the parking garage.  (Isn’t single the opposite of married?)
Being divorced is not a permanent condition.  Like the flu or a stomach virus, you survived and it’s over. You don’t go around saying, “Hi, I had a colonoscopy.” It was difficult, but move on. You might eventually get around to sharing this info one day, but not at the start of each new conversation.
Here’s something else that goes with that: Why is a person who has married more than once considered “remarried?” Unless you marry the same person again, shouldn’t you just be “married?”

It’s that sticky gum nuisance once again, messing up your Ferragamos.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dating Challenged


I stink at dating – always have.  I sputter.  I hyperventilate.  I fail miserably every time.

I blame a pathetically underdeveloped gene that got little use before I married in my early twenties, then atrophied, gathering dust and rust, until I became single again in my fifties.

 I decided to use this defect to my advantage when I needed to do some investigative reporting a few years back.  While on a newspaper writing assignment on Boomer-aged dating, I sacrificed my dignity and my vanity for the sake of the story (and I got several).

But this time I’ve decided I will “show you mine if you show me yours.”  I will swap dating horror stories with you, but you have to promise to play along.

The trick here is to tell about your worst date in 25 words or less.  You must keep it clean and you cannot name names. Our little contest will run only this week and before my next blog posting.  

Me first: 

I’m fourteen. My mom fixed me up.  He spent the evening licking his lips and leering at my chest.  I never let her forget it.  (Count them: 25 words)

Again:

I once dated six men, all at one time.  It was a Speed Date for 50-year-olds.  Let’s just say, some people don’t improve with age. (Twenty-five again.  Yeeha!)

These are two of my horror stories, one from each end of my life.

Here’s one more but it is not a horror story.  It is my happy ending:

We met online and decided to meet in person at a baseball game.  He proposed.  I panicked. He was right.  We married three months later.

Your turn. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grace Not Greed
By Raquel Martina Martinez
“May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”
Jude 1:2 (NSRV)

The winter of 1991 found me in the middle of a messy divorce.  I struggled to pay a four-digit mortgage and to feed and clothe three growing adolescents on a teacher’s salary.
           On previous Christmases, our letters to Santa had been long and expensive lists of toys and electronics, but this year we would have to find a different way to “make merry.”
I tried to explain our situation to the kids, but they stopped me mid-apology with an announcement of their own.
“We don’t want anything for Christmas.” They explained they already had everything they needed – we had each other, a roof over our heads and a safe place at night, food to eat (even if it was way too many servings of boxed mac and cheese or ramen noodles), and they had me.  They knew I wasn’t going to abandon them.
Grace replaced greed in our letters to Santa that year.
Our Nativity set dwarfed the centerpiece-sized Christmas tree.  Three small store bought presents lay next to a mound of homemade gifts, but the best present of all sat on the carpet next to me – my three wise children, smiles on their faces, drinking hot chocolate and singing carols. 
Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for the love and comfort of family.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Cheeto Dreams (Again)


The bag of Cheetos in the pantry sings its siren song.
There is no way to sneak a handful without it leaving guilty orange stains on your fingers, under your nails, and stuck to the inside valleys of your teeth.  You suck the evidence from your fingers, but first, since no one is looking, you pry the sticky mess from between your back molars and the inside of your cheek.
You know they are not good for you, but if powdered milk, powdered eggs, and powdered potatoes are allowed to exist, why not a corn puff covered in powdered cheddar cheese? Why not count it as part of your daily calcium intake?
You’ve tried the puffs, the balls, the X’s and the O’s.  They come in white cheddar, baked, natural, and flaming hot, but since they were first created in San Antonio in 1948, and you are proud of your heritage - you are a purist!
Only Crunchy Cheetos for you!
You follow a sacred ritual.  You inspect them, looking for those rare Cheetos that look like famous people (so you can sell them on eBay and get rich and famous), then you eat all the big ones first and save the small, broken bits for last.  
If you are in danger of being discovered, you skip the ritual and upend the bag, gobbling all the evidence in big mouthfuls before some goody-two-shoes (in a size four dress) comes along and saves you from yourself and your overactive imagination.
You hide the empty bag at the bottom of the trash can.  You scrub your hands and check your teeth; you make promises to yourself not to do that again.  No one will ever know your guilty secret, but wait!
Was that a bag of Oreos hiding behind the steel cut oatmeal?
Quick.  No one is looking. You need something sweet to offset all that sodium but be careful. There is no way to sneak an Oreo without it leaving its calling card on your teeth and announcing what you have done.   


Monday, December 1, 2014

No Room for Jesus


 “. . . and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. . . . and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:7 NIV

Every year we have to move furniture around to make room for the Christmas tree.  Things get shoved into a corner and sometimes end up on top of each other in the walk-in closet. After I put up all the Christmas decorations I am going to use, I have to temporarily hide the everyday stuff in the same Christmas storage boxes I just emptied.
We do not have room for all the Christmas angels my husband collected over the years, and I have to limit the Hallmark ornaments I want to display.
Wrapping paper, gift boxes, and ribbon cover every inch of the double bed in our one guest room. No one is allowed in there, especially the children, because it hides all of the gifts from Santa.  Anyone who plans to stay at our house during Christmas has to find a room at the closest motel.  
Our house is full of “stuff.”
Is your house and your life like mine?  Is it full of “Christmas” things leaving no room for Jesus? If so, maybe it is time to make a change.
Prayer:  Dear Lord, come into my heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I promise there will always be room for you there.