Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - What a Year It's Been!

I can't believe I'm sitting here looking at the end of another year...another year that has gone by so fast!  I've never been a huge New Year's person, getting really excited or making resolutions, it's just not quite me.  And a little over five years ago, I was a little nervous as to what the New Year might bring, and just 19 days after the New Year, the most important man in my life, my wonderful, loving dad passed away from complications with leukemia and diabetes.  That was tough, a tough way to start out the year.  But then the years after were filled with concern for my mom, as she was never quite the same after my dad passed.  Then we found out that she had Alzheimer's.  And each year, it was the concern of what that year would bring, would there be any stabilization, would it get worse, would there be anything that we could do to slow it down? And then as she got worse, the question became, is this going to be the year she loses her battle and I lose my best friend, and sweet mom.  And just four years after dad's death, mom passed away from that dreadful disease.  So, it's hard to say I'm excited, but then it is nice to think of a fresh, new slate to work with, and of leaving behind some of the sadness and stresses from the past year.  But I do always find it interesting to think back on some of the moments of the past year.
2013 started off with me still struggling with the death of my mom, and not long after her death, the sadness of my friend Erin passing, and the awful tragedy of Sandy Hook.  Things started off OK, though...got back into the swing of school, made it through the 5th anniversary of my dad's death, and mom's first birthday in heaven, and then my first birthday without her.  It was a bit strange celebrating with no immediate family for the very first time in my life, but I was treated very well, and spoiled by my kids at school, and my friends.  It was pretty special!
Then came March, and my heart broke again in ways I couldn't imagine as my dear friend Angie passed away unexpectedly!  It was devastating!  I didn't know I had that many more tears in me after my mom's death...but boy did I!  I miss her so much every day!  We did some special things to remember her, and special things for her family, which were helpful to us as well.  But of course the school year went on.  There were many things still to come, Fine Arts, the Amerathon, the play, the banquet, and then graduation.  Things ended well, and I was more than happy to have my summer vacation.  I was very tired...emotionally and physically exhausted.  I was excited, but yet very sad, as I would be spending the summer without my companion, my friend, my sweet mom.  I really missed her!
Then financial troubles started coming my way, things that were so discouraging because there was no quick, easy fix for them, and they weren't getting better or going away.  And there wasn't much I could do about them.  It wasn't just one or two little things, it was one thing after another, after another.  So, I couldn't do much, but I worked at the school, and then spent the rest of the time at home so I wouldn't be spending any extra money.  So, though I got rest, it still wasn't a very restful summer, with so many things on my mind.  There were other heartaches and sorrows over the summer as well that just made things hard, sad.  Then not too far from the new school year starting I found out my job description would be different, and that scared me quite a bit.  First, I have never taught a combined class before, whereas the other teachers all had.  Second, I would have that tough class again, and add another interesting class to it.  Third, there were going to be 19 of them!  Yes, I was quite nervous!  But as I've had to do so many times in the past year... several years, I had to learn to put my trust in the Lord.  Now don't get me wrong, I didn't do it all cute and spiritual-like.  I'm sadly not that good!  I did it with a little decent bit of kicking and screaming, but just telling the Lord, no matter how upset, or worried, or afraid I was of what He was doing to me, that I was going to try to trust Him.  That's all I could say, Lord, I'm trying and I need to know that You know that I'm trying!  There was a blessing that came out of that conversation, too.  The Lord allowed me to find something that was able to help in one of my financial situations.  So, I was able to know that He knew that I was TRYING to trust Him.  The school year started, and it has been an interesting one.  As I thought, my classes are quite colorful personalities, and we are all learning a lot this year.  But not far into this school year, I had some more heartbreaking news as our wonderful, fun-loving, kind, caring girl's basketball coach passed away unexpectedly.  Another tough time for our school, and the kids.  Another tough time for another family trying to process this loss.  But again we have been pressing on.  And here we are halfway through this school year, and at the end of 2013 with it's many ups and downs.
As usual, I don't know (none of us does) what this year holds in store for me, but I will just try to stick with the truth that I learned this summer, and just try to trust.  But you know what, I hope I can do better than that, and just simply trust.  I'm very human, though, and not always that good.  Hopefully though, I can remember the Lord loves me and wants the best for me, though sometimes I don't see or understand what He is doing...
....but Lord, help me to simply trust You this year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


This is definitely the time of year when relationships are strongly recognized.  Whether it's family relationships (immediate and extended), friend relationships, work relationships, church family relationships, romantic relationships... Then there are other kinds that come to light as well...old relationships, new relationships, new relationships that have put a strain on old relationships, and even broken or lost relationships. Most people have many if not all of these different relationships.  This time of year is when some of these relationships become very prevalent. People coming or going home to be with family.  Friend relationships connecting or reconnecting to enjoy time together. Work relationships celebrating with parties, gifts, or eating out.  Church family relationships growing through special times and services.  Many couples become engaged around this beautiful time of year.
It's everywhere!  Most Christmas movies are about relationships of some kind.  Walking around the malls or stores you see families enjoying (most of the time:) the season together.  You see young and old couples strolling along, holding hands taking in the sweet, magical enjoyment of this time of year.  You see moms and dads with their little ones willing to wait in long lines to get that special picture with Santa, or moms and dads by themselves trying to get as many special things as they can for their precious little ones.  You see friends getting together for coffee and shopping and fun.  You even hear it in many of the Christmas songs that are playing all around.  It really is everywhere!  It shows how important relationships really are. They mean so much to us in our daily lives.
But we can't forget that there are some who are dealing with broken, strained, or lost relationships.  Sometimes because of hurts or wrongdoings or differences in opinion, or even because of death.  Some are saddened to have a strained relationship to deal with that they didn't have last year, and it will be a little difficult for them.  Or maybe for someone it's just a broken relationship, maybe it's been broken for a long time or maybe it's very new.  It could be in family relationships, which would make the whole "family" feel of the season very difficult for them in some aspects.  Maybe it's a broken friendship or a broken romantic relationship, either way it is a struggle and often quite difficult to deal with.  Then there are the lost relationships- husbands and wives who have lost their spouses, brothers and sisters who have left siblings heartbroken, parents who have lost their precious children, and children who have lost their incredible, irreplaceable parents.  These are all very difficult things...and it doesn't matter if it has been years or is pretty recent, it still has a very strong affect this time of year.  There will always be that sense as some look around them that they are missing one or more of those key relationships, and it can be very painful, and very hard to deal with...and that's OK.  There just needs to be understanding.  When people are missing certain relationships that fact just seems to get magnified at this time of year.  Don't judge, just understand that some people go home to an emptier house than usual, missing special people that made their past Christmases so memorable.  Some people are missing family and friends that used to be a part of that special day, and it is difficult without them.  Some are missing family and friends that would love to be there to be a part of these special times, but are not able to right now.  Some never got to even know the precious, sweet relationships they lost, but will always hold them in their hearts, and with so much focus on the joy of children this time of year, that makes it difficult for them.  These people are not just looking for a load of sympathy, but just wanting people to understand even in all of the joy of the season, there are moments...many times just in the confines of that special place called home where memories were made or had hoped to be made, that people are struggling, and they just need prayer and understanding.
There is one thing that helps...and that is the most important relationship of all.  The relationship that we can have with our Heavenly Father.  It's through Him that our ability to have relationships even exists.  But He especially wants to have a close relationship with us.  Even He understands and has sympathy, He tells us to come to Him when we are heavy laden with burdens, cares, and struggles.  He wants to give us rest.  He tells us to cast our struggles and cares on Him because He cares about us.  He knows we're going to struggle, He just doesn't want us to forget that He is there for us in those moments, and He wants us to come to Him, to look to Him, to rely on Him, and keep growing closer to Him.
So cultivate and enjoy your relationships, don't take them for granted, enjoy each moment because they go too quickly.  Pray for broken or strained relationships to be restored or strengthened according to His will.  We need each other and need to be there for each other.  Pray for those who are dealing with lost relationships, sometimes all they need is just prayer.  But most of all cherish that greatest relationship, let Him provide comfort, peace, joy, and rest in His loving arms.
Lord, this has personally been a bit of a tough Christmas season for me...watching Christmas specials, seeing sweet commercials, hearing the beautiful Christmas music, seeing so many different relationships, all the while really missing those key relationships in my life.  The ones I share the most Christmas memories, laughter and fun times with.  I do know that You are the main reason for this wonderful season, but You also made my heart to miss those special relationships that meant so much to me.  Thank You for them, and for the time I had them, and I pray for my other relationships to be what You would have them to be...most especially my relationship with You!