Tennessee-versary

Last week I “celebrated” my I’ve-moved-to-Tennessee anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a year. There are so many things that are second nature about living here now, but the big ones are just as absent as they were on the day I arrived:

  • no friends (been there, talked about it, am accepting this is going to be how it is)
  • this house is not my home…it’s where I live and where my husband grew up, but it’s certainly not our home. It’s his place. More accurately, it’s his mother’s place. I feel like we are only caretakers of it until she returns. When the Lord comes again and she is resurrected, she won’t be mad that I painted the living room walls beige, I’m almost certain. I suspect they will still be the color they are when that day arrives.
  • did i mention that I don’t have any friends? I have not had a meal with someone I’m not related to since I moved. I miss the sweet, precious fellowship of friends.
  • I have no idea how to parent my kid! I love her the best I can but I don’t know it is enough. I must be more diligent about praying for her.

So, I’ve lived here a full year. One summer, one fall, one (bitterly cold) winter, and one (very welcome) spring. The thought of more sets of seasons in this little community that doesn’t want any thing to do with me is overwhelming. It overwhelms my ability to be reasonable, to think reasonably about the future, and to have joy about the future. I feel so disconnected from me but I don’t think I have re-established that connection with S or M or any here. I am sad, all of the time. When I’m not sad, I’m angry. I don’t even know how to express that into words, so I eat. I eat carby things, fatty things, sweet things. The food satisfies for only the briefest of moments, then I am back to feeling _________ again.

Something has to change! I just don’t know how.

Pray for me. I need your prayers.

The Fellowship of Motherhood

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As I have tried to understand the lessons of my first year of marriage, I frequently come back to this phrase: HOLY MESS. Also: Wow! Being married has been the most exciting, frustrating, sanctifying experience of my life thus far. When I look back on my courtship with my husband, I realize that it was super fast. It didn’t seem fast at the time, of course, but looking back, it was indeed fast. With the additional complication of long distance and a teenage daughter, there was a LOT of lessons to be learned, very quickly. Once we got married and moved to Tennessee, I was living in an environment with no friends or family and that definitely contributed to a sense of profound loneliness in this first year of marriage.

Why am I having such a hard time? Is it me? Is it our marriage? Is something wrong with us? Well, I’m not discounting those possibilities. I do think that one thing I was counting on that did not happen was making friends in this new place. The people here are nice enough, but they aren’t friendly. While I guess the onus to make friends is now on me, but dang, that’s overwhelming. This is not my place and these are not my people. How do I make friends among total strangers (and more distant relatives than I can count?) Added to this social morass are daily reminders of my husband’s first wife (a piece of mail with her name on it will arrive, we have her freaking piano in the living room (and no, none of us play piano), and so many other things that remind me I am the second wife) and you will find barriers to getting settled everywhere you look. I feel walled in, in every direction. There are times in my life that I have voluntarily built walls to keep people out and I guess I need to deeply, honestly evaluate my heart to see if I am doing the same here. It doesn’t feel like the same kind of isolation, but when you get down to it, whether self-imposed or involuntary, isolation and loneliness are isolation and loneliness.

I thought that because I have a teenaged stepdaughter, I might find friends among women with similarly aged children. Perhaps some of the mothers of Madeline’s friends would become my friends too. I thought we would bond because of the common ground we shared, but that eventually, our friendship would evolve because she and I liked each other and were friends. Let the very fact that I am writing all of this down alert you to the fact that that did not happen. Not even once. The fellowship of motherhood does not accept members who do not enter the fellowship in the ususal way. Not here, anyway. Not among these people. I need help raising my kid. I don’t understand her. I am not sure what’s normal behavior and what’s not and I don’t know how to respond to some of the off-the-wall things she says. Is she just talking or is she making some kind of statement? I love her, but there are some days I don’t like her much. Am I a monster admitting that? I feel terrible even forming the thought, but it’s the truth. The fellowship of motherhood, this bond I thought most mothers share, has not come through for me. Raising someone else’s kid is hard. So hard. I need some help.

I have halfheartedly prayed for the Lord to bring me some friends, to bring Scott and I both some friends, but that has not happened. I am angry that I am so lonely and that my husband doesn’t understand how deep my need for friends is. I am thankful that I have great friends who indulge me through text, email, Facebook and Pinterest pins sent back and forth. How do I find friends like that here? To whom can I send random Regretsy texts and genuinely share in a “there but for the grace of God, go I” laugh? Here? No one. Not a single person in this town would get me if I sent that. Because they don’t know me. And after a year of going to the same Sunday school class, I’m convinced they don’t want to get to know me any more than they already do (that I’m Scott’s wife and my name is Heather and I’m from the great(est) state of Texas). Aren’t they curious? I guess not. How do I change that? Do I even bother? I have heard stories that women in this county are notoriously difficult to get to know (and this is from other women in this town). What should I do? My feelings are hurt, yes, but more than anything, I am dying inside because I don’t have any freaking friends in this town.

I don’t know that I have a point to this entry. I am thankful to have friends in Texas and Colorado and Arkansas and Washington that I love and that love me. I am so thankful for each of those amazing women. They, in so many ways, provide the fellowship of motherhood I desperately need. I just think we all need to move a little closer together. Even if we could be in the same time zone, that would be killer.

back to va to lu

On Sunday morning, I’ll load up and head to my third and final required Intensive course on the Liberty campus in Lynchburg. I’ve been looking forward to this class for the last several months and I anticipate it will be one that ties together all of the disparate things I’ve been learning since I began this program in 2010. I feel like I’m officially on the downhill slide toward graduation although there is a lot of hard work to be done before I reach that milestone. Since I live so close to the East Coast, I’m driving this time and it’s nice to not have to worry about how much my textbooks weigh! My life is completely different from the last time I went to Virginia. I met Scott just a month or so after I returned from my last trip…who knows what the next few months will yield?

I have to be honest, I’m kind of topped up on change right now. Under the best of circumstances, I don’t weather change terribly gracefully. I am often too rigid in my thinking and planning and have never really been one to roll with the punches. Sure, there have been periods of my life where I’ve been flexible, but those have been the exception.

I think about my temperament in relation to my current life and I think God is laughing at me. Me and my rigid set ways living with a could-not-be-more-different-from-me family…so many opportunities for growth! Maybe what I’m having are growing pains? Regardless, it’s been a trip.

Speaking of trips, I need to go back to preparing for my class next week. It’s no secret that I love, love, love going to these intensive courses and I’m sure this one will be no different. I love the classroom learning experience and I have especially missed it lately. I will be challenged to transform academic head knowledge into clinical skills, but I’m ready for the chance.

I’m coming back to blogging. It’s good to be back.

two thousand, nine hundred days.

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It has been 2900 days since my Mom passed away. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately, and I guess it’s the season and missing her and needing her advice more than ever that make me miss her so. 

So much has changed in my life over the last year, and even more over the last two years and I have missed her every step of the way. The hurt caused by the hole she left isn’t nearly as sharp as it once was, and almost eight years later, I’m still healing a little bit each day. I’m so thankful for the continued healing! I have a life to live and trying to stay put, where I was, isn’t going to bring her back. For a long time, I was afraid that I would forget her, but I know now that that is impossible. I’ll never forget her! She was my mother, for heaven’s sake! She’s a part of my daily life just as if she were still alive, except it’s through memories and her legacy (I hate that word, but it kind of fits). 

This day isn’t technically any different than yesterday was or tomorrow will be, as far as missing my Mom goes; it just happened to be a nice round number to stop and take stock.

I’m thankful for my Mom. I’m more thankful to God for making her mine!

Forty.

So, I’m forty. 40. It feels strange to be this age when I don’t really feel different on the outside. Well, except for a nagging backache because I lost my footing on some stairs last Friday….

I look around at my life and I’m utterly speechless at how much my life has changed in two years! The changes are good, but man, my life has a totally different landscape than it used to have. 

I love being married. Being with Scott every day after being apart for the entirety of our courtship is so, so good. I love being with him! Certainly, all of this togetherness does not come without some challenges, but being married is good. Being married is both easier and harder than I thought it would be. It is, well and truly, about giving. It is about putting the other person’s needs before your own, and making choices to walk alongside that person. Many of these choices are easy ones, but they are ones that I didn’t have to make when I was single. Being a stepmother is even more of the same. As much as I love my husband and want to help him do what he needs to do and be who God created him to be, I think being a stepmother requires more of me. Having said that, I get along very well with M and we are getting to know each other and creating our own relationship, separate and apart from my relationship with her dad. It’s hard to explain, other than one day I didn’t have a child, and now I do. And she’s a teenager. I feel unworthy of this job many days (most days) but I also feel sent here. I know that these people are my people. I love them and how God is using them to refine me. I love how God reveals himself in my family. I love how God is faithful to help me in learning how to be a wife and a mother. As I said, I feel so unworthy of this job, but I’m positive that this role is mine to fulfill.

Over the next year, I’ll begin and maybe complete my internship and hopefully I’ll finish my degree by next fall. I would love to begin working (like, for actual money!) in the spring of 2015. That seems so far away, but really, it’s less time than I’ve known Scott! I have so much to do between now and then but it’ll all get done. Who would have thought this time last year that I’d have moved twice, planned a wedding, quit my beloved job, honeymooned and settled into life in rural Tennessee?? I mean, who saw that coming? I should not ever doubt the changes a year can bring.

My life is good. It’s different than I thought married life would be in that it’s sweeter and harder and more rewarding. I love my life because it and everyone and everything in it is a blessing from God. His love is beyond compare. I pray that I am a worthy steward of this time he’s blessed me with.

On days like today, I always think of my Mom. She’s the one who did all of the work on my actual birthday…I just sort of showed up. I miss her so much. It doesn’t hurt like it did right after she died, but oh man, do I miss that woman. I wish I could call her up at least once a day, and sometimes it’s twice or more. She always knew what to say, even if what she had to say wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I pray that I am a wise parent and that I stay the course. There are a million distractions to take me away from being a wife and a mother, and I’m guilty of giving in to those from time to time. I’m still learning how to best love my family and I so wish I could ask her for guidance.

Over the next year, I’d like to get serious about the serious things (my faith, my health, my work, my family) and let all of the other things go. I’m a rulesy kind of girl, but living according to a bunch of rules is exhausting and crazy-making. I need no additional help with the crazy! I take the wrong things to heart and make myself unhappy in the process. Why would I do that to myself? Short answer: I shouldn’t. So I won’t.

Birthdays are a great time to look back and to look forward and I’m excited about what’s ahead. God has been so good to me and I want to live like it! I have so much to be thankful for, today and every day.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
–Deuteronomy 31:8

 

 

Wedding Day!

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Today is my wedding day!

I never thought I’d type those words when applied to me, but it’s true! I’ll get married this afternoon and will become a wife and a stepmom, a niece and a cousin-by-marriage and a sister-in-law to many folks I haven’t met yet (I’ve met the two who’ll make me a wife and stepmom…that part’s covered!). I am so excited! I can’t quite sleep tonight because I want to savor this experience and drink it all in. I never knew God would fulfill my desire for a husband to love, but I’m so much more blessed by his provision than I ever thought possible. S is a perfect match for me in so many ways, but ultimately, he points me to the Lord. Through my relationship with him, I have grown closer to the Lord than ever before, and that is what God wants from/for us!

I’m so thankful that S not only a: generally sees me in the most charitable light, he b: believes the good stuff to be true. It sounds simple, but he is the only person I’ve dated for whom both statements are true. Because he believes in me, it helps for the good stuff to be more than aspirational, it becomes descriptive. In other words, S believes I’m kind, so I begin to see myself as kind, act accordingly, and suddenly, I’m kind! I love that he does that for me. I pray I can have a similar impact on him!

The hour is late and it’s time for me to get some sleep. I am so thankful to God for bringing S and me together. He is the man of my dreams and I love him. I can’t wait to marry him and to be his wife.

Let’s do this!

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