Thursday, February 25, 2016

So, it has been a while...

Yep.  It's been a while since I last met you here in the blogosphere.  There isn't any exact reason why, per se...but in the past year, our world has shifted a bit.

World-shifting requires some adjustment,
                                                      some healing,
                                                                           some introspection,
and some good old-fashioned God-clinging.  

So, that's what we've been up to.    Things are leveling out now, so I'm hopeful that I will get back to my regularly scheduled self-deprecating humor promises.  :)

(But there is always hope.)  

So, in pure PMD style, I'm going to give you a sweet little list of lessons learned or things I'm thankful for over the past year:

1.  The lesson learned

So, I'm not going to lie.  My first feeling with all of the adjustment is anger.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Those were my knee-jerks.  I was angry that choices were made.  That sad and scary pictures were painted to garner votes in a specific direction...that no one fought for what (we thought was) the Right outcome.  I was angry.  I had a lot of questions about specific details; questions that went unanswered.  And looking back, I know that pride is the main reason.  Pride on both sides.  Theirs and mine.  That pride causes us to sin, am I right?

So, here's where I tell you about my pride story.  After a specifically stressful congregational meeting, we were standing in the narthex of our old church.  I was talking to someone and A. was next to me trying to push me along. We overheard a conversation had between a board member and a congregational member that went something like this:

Member: If the school closes, don't you think we'll loose members that we can't afford to loose?
Board member: We think the loss will be insignificant.
Member: But what about those that are members of the church and in the school who leave? Families we can't afford to loose?
Board member: At this point, they would just be collateral damage.

So, A. heard did I.  And instead of punching him, we left.  
That person on the board leading our church just called our family 
insignificant collateral damage.  

It's been a hard road coming back from those three words.

They are the words that have rang through my head for the last 5 months.

Insignificant collateral damage.
Insignificant collateral damage.
Insignificant collateral damage.

And...then, I just decided to let it go.  I was praying one night, and I came to the realization that it's ALL insignificant collateral damage.  My obedience is not any more important than anyone else's.  My obedience is between me and God...and no one else.  

In the end, the only thing that matters is Jesus.  
In the end, the only thing that matters is what Christ did for me on the cross.  
That's it.  

And what this jerk said in the back of church is a reflection of his heart, not mine.

And just like that, I'm free from that chain.

2.  I still have my refugees.  

I'll not lie, it was hard to say good-bye to some amazing people.  Even local people that I know played a big part in creating a firm foundation at our old church- ones I know I will probably not see much again.  I was so used to them being a part of the background that I forgot to make them part of the foreground.  

But, there are others that I was linked arms with.  And unlinking arms and stepping away from that line was probably one of the hardest parts of this whole thing.  But it doesn't end here.  A few of us have decided to stay in touch with monthly get-togethers.  We make it (and each other) a priority, and unconditionally support each other.  This group has been such a lifeline for me.  It helped me see that we're not the only ones not bouncing back quickly, and healing our hearts one step at a time.  I'm so grateful for these mamas and their hearts.  For being vulnerable, and for being open to visiting new restaurants in the area (ha!)  I love that we call ourselves "refugees."  Instead of GNO (girl's night out) on the calendar, I get to write RNO.  I'm thankful for these ladies and the new vocabulary they've given me in jest.  

3.   Middle school

Yep, I'm going to choose to be thankful for middle school.  And even more thankful for this kid:

You guys, middle school is hard.
Middle school in a new school is hardER.
And this kid is pretty awesome.

 He's learned a lot of life lessons over the past year.  He's asked a lot of BIG questions that let me know he's thinking for himself and paying attention to his surroundings.  Dave and I were most worried about him and how he would assimilate- given that his default emotion is anxiety.  He has shown remarkable growth in the past year, and I love the heart for God this boy has.

4. Eight is great

Because everything about 8 is awkward, but he does it with swagger.  He had some great friends that he was leaving behind, and he still grieves these relationships, but still manages to blaze a balls-to-the-wall trail looking forward.  He's even asked a lot of questions this past year- ones that I thought were WAY above his level...and it's been a great opportunity to shepherd his heart.

This kid has the ability to read people and actions VERY well.  He once asked me to send a text message to someone, and after a week of no reply, I had to tell him that there was a "no-text back."  His response?

"Mom, I think the no-text-back is just a coward's way to not handle uncomfortable situations and feelings."

Word, Middle C.  Word.  
This kid will go far in life.  

5.  Leadership with integrity.

This kind of speaks for itself.

When Dave and I went looking for new churches this summer, we did a LOT of research about where we wanted our family to land.  We listened to sermons online, we asked a lot of questions about governance.  We paid attention to "checklist" items on our visits.  And we found our "soft landing."

I love that our leadership avails themselves to us ANYTIME. I love that their faces light up when we ask questions.  I love that they are working with us to raise Godly kids in today's society.  I love that they are unabashedly who they are, and willing to say hard things in Truth and love.  I love that my husband respects them and feels he has found his home.  I love that I'm finally feeling spiritually fed- after a long long drought (part of this goes hand in hand with early motherhood, I believe...), but I really learning a lot about the Word; a fire I believed would stay dimmed but has come back to life.

6.  I love the welcome.

I'll admit.  My heart was sour at first and I wanted to keep everyone at an arm's length.

I was a mess the night of school orientation.

I repeated the words "this is my new home. this is my new home. this is my new home" every Sunday morning for 3 months.  Changing directions like we did- under the reasons we did -was hard to go into a new church with blind trust and willingness to let people in.

But...then I met the people.  The amazingly nice people.
They were all like a big family.
They welcomed us with smiles.
How could I continue to frown?

7.  I love the answered prayers.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 adrenal fatigue when Middle C was young.  And then A started kindergarten.  And the carpool started, but the early mornings were killing me.  As carpools changed, I found myself driving more and more- zapping my adrenals even more.  Then Baby L. came, and I found myself in stage 4.  I had very little reprieve.  I was getting worse every day, not better.  

I remember one day on the way to school last year, I was praying for God to help me figure out a way to heal.  Well, I had no idea He was going to answer in this way...but alrighty then!

I started driving the first week, and then I met the sweetest lady who literally ran around my arms-length hold and inserted herself in my life...and my kids in her car.  This is quite possibly the neatest family, and I'm so so glad for them.  She literally said "I'll drive every morning." and I about cried in relief.  She was an extension of God saying, "Sandy...get your butt in gear.  This is a gift and you need to heal, remember?  Rest. Start healing."

My kids love them, and even more so when they stop for coffee on the way to school!

But we are well-loved.

8.  And then there's our tribe.  

Our new tribe.

This group of families has been amazing.  Not to mention healing.  Having a group of men that my introverted-husband can connect with quickly has been nothing short of God-inspired.  I knew my husband was missing the fellowship of our old small group, and this group has filled the hole.  We've enjoyed spending big holidays with them, and look forward to a lifetime of fun and friendship.

I'm so glad we are friends with these people.

9.  The healing.  

Last weekend, I went back to our old school.  For a basketball game that was being played there- to support a few of the kids playing and the coach (who is part of our new tribe).  Dave pulled out of going with only an hour to spare.  I went solo because I couldn't let the kids down.  I was nervous, and almost couldn't walk in the door.  After lots of shaking and a few tears, I ended up enjoying the night.  I enjoyed a few conversations with old friends who came over to extend a hug in hospitality.

I was afraid that I would end up in the pit of "insignificant collateral damage" again, but I still found myself free from that.  It was healing.  I sat and took it all in...the place, the gym, the bathrooms, the lobby.

Same walls...but different place.  

I akin it to being away at college and going home for a weekend.  The place you grew up is no longer feeling like home...somewhere else - somepersons-else- feel like home.  That realization has shown me just how far I've come.  How God has been with me, next to me, under me, this whole time.  

10. The husband.

I'd be remiss if I didn't leave him for last.  :)  Because this man is pretty darn amazing.  When I had people telling us to abandon our faith for the behaviors of "church people" and how it is a loosing battle in today's society of stuff and debt, Dave kept his eyes focused on God.  The abandoned his charges at our old church- ones he really enjoyed serving in- and tightened the nucleus of our family.  He decided that his portion in our family ministry was no longer outward looking (for the time being) and was called to look inward at the four of us - and dedicated himself to shepherding us through a tough transition.

He reeled us in when we all protested going to new churches.  He kept our hearts in the word at dinnertime.  He asked us how we were going to serve others in our new atmosphere.  While I know he has some big feelings on this past year (which are not for me to share- here or anywhere), he has maintained respect and integrity behaving above reproach and keeping his eyes on God.  

So, that's it in a nutshell.  I'm hoping to get back to regularly schedule programming again now. 

I knew I needed to get this out on the blog, but I needed to jump through a few hoops first before I went there.  I needed to feel some big feelings and get over those before I wrote.  

Onward and upward, right?
Go Mustangs!