Invisible

invisible

Do you ever feel invisible?

Are there times your voice is not heard?  Is it because you do not speak up?  Or are the other voices and sounds drowning you out?

Do you ever want to be, maybe even need to be,  invisible?

When I was newly widowed, there were many times I felt invisible.  I didn’t fit into any group.  I was no longer married, but wasn’t quite single, either.  My friends were still in the married group.  I moved from “part of the group” to “third wheel” status in the blink of an eye.  I didn’t know how to be seen.  Others seemed to look through me, not ever seeing the ME that stood there.  I didn’t know how to be seen, because I didn’t know how to see myself.   I watched as others buzzed around and wondered how I could be so lonely in a such a busy group of people.  I didn’t know how speak up,  it was easier to fade away than to endure the pain of living in the world in which I no longer belonged.

One can be invisible for lots of reasons.  When another’s need to be recognized  is louder and more aggressive than your own, their need pushes all others out-of-the-way.  I feel the shutters begin to close in around me.  My opinion doesn’t matter.  My voice in not important.  Even the facts and information that I know are dismissed and discounted if they are not in agreement.  I am forced to disappear within myself to avoid further conflict.  It is often that very need to avoid conflict that pushes me further onto the sidelines.  When I am helpless to change anything, when  I’m caught on the carousel of life and there’s no way to regain control, I disappear.

There are times when I try to blend into the background.   There are other times when I need desperately to be heard,  to be seen.  But, I’m  invisible.   It’s as if I’m speaking in an unknown language or wearing the cloak of invisibility.  No one is listening.  No one sees me.  Regardless of how hard I try, I cannot break through.  I begin to believe that I’m truly invisible, that I truly do not matter.  And, that is the real problem.  I accept the invisibility.  I stop trying.  I fade away.

We need to be aware of those invisible people that surround us.  The invisible person may be that homeless person that has become a part of the background.  The invisible person may be the senior citizen that tells the same stories over and over and over again.  The invisible person may be the widow that reminds you how fragile life is.  The invisible person may be a friend or family member that refuses to see things your way causing you to rethink your own ideas or decisions. Invisible people surround us.  They work in the deli’s in our offices.  They stand on the street corners.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family.  We need to put on our “X-ray vision” and find those invisible people.  We need to see them.  Listen to them.  We need to care.

God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Psalm 139 :1-12  MSG

 

 

Joy

beau.jpg

Beau (aka Travis) waiting for his morning belly rub.

Travis was rescued from death.  Literally.  Estimated to be about 7 months old when he was found at a construction site, Travis was so sick they didn’t think he would survive the night.  He had hookworms that had drained most of his lifeblood from him.  He had an injury to his left eye that left a cloudy ulceration.  He couldn’t lift his head.  He received transfusions for 3 days.  For weeks, he wouldn’t even open his injured eye.  He was kept in isolation since he was weak and couldn’t see very well.  He was given food and water, vitamins, eye-drops, worming medication.  He began to recover.  He willingly took his vitamins and sat very still for his eye-drops.  Given any opportunity to snuggle up to his rescuer, he did.  He craved attention.

 

I first saw his picture on the PUPS website.   I was hooked.  I talked to his caregiver and got the information she had: his estimated age, his size and temperament with other dogs, and his house training.   I found out that Travis would be neutered on Tuesday and available for adoption the following Saturday.  I was at the Petsmart that Saturday to meet  him as soon as they were setup.  And I took Travis home with me that day.

Travis is now called Beauregard (Beau for short).  It didn’t take him long to make himself at home with our other fur-babies.  His eye is healed and after a few visits with the vet, he’s up to date on all of his shots and worm free.  He has a tag with his name and my phone number on it as well as a microchip, so he cannot be lost.  He is a little ball of energy.  He rolls and plays with the other dogs.  Every morning, after his potty break outside, he comes back to my room to find me.  I can hear his tags tinkling together as he runs down the hall and comes and lays at my feet.  When I call his name, he rolls over and wiggles in anticipation of the belly rub he’s about to receive.  I pick him up and cuddle him and get my morning kisses and then he’s off to breakfast.

Beau reminds me how I should react to time with my Father.  I was saved from death by the blood of my Savior.  He has taken care of me and prepared me for life in this harsh world.  It is through God’s loving care that I have survived the grievous events in my life.  I allow the world to suck the very life out of me.  I struggle to see where I am headed. But, I don’t always go to my loving Father with excitement, anticipating His loving attention.  Many times, I’m distracted by other “things” in my life.  I don’t have time or I’m sure I can handle this one myself.  I forget to spend time with Him.

But, He comes to my rescue, time and time again.  And I remember His tenderness and His love.  My name is engraved in His book of life.  I will never be out of His sight.  I realize that it is time with my Heavenly Father that I crave.  I spend time in His word.  I pray and listen for His guidance.  And, yes, I beg, plead, cry and complain about all that is “unfair” with my life.  He’s always there to correct me when I’m wrong, to provide for my every need and to always love me.

It took a squirmy, cuddly rescued puppy to remind me that I just have to go to God.  He’s waiting with every thing I can need or imagine.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,
    I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
    I’m singing your song, High God. 

Psalm 9:1-2 MSG

Joy (Take 2)

I am in a second marriage.  I was widowed in 2005.  In 2015, I married my dearest friend who had been divorced for a few years.  He was also a good friend to my late husband.  We now have a blended family with five kids:  the oldest is 28 and the youngest is 18.  They’ve know each other through the years as they grew up in church together.

Marriage the 2nd time around is familiar and different all at the same time.

I married Terry in 1987.  We were in our late 20’s.  We thought we knew everything.  We did everything together, even grocery shopping.  Having lived on my own for 5 years, it took a bit of adjustment to have someone there all of the time.  But, we adjusted to life together in our little one bedroom apartment.  We learned to love together.  We learned to disagree with each other.  We learned to give up expectations and live for today.  We learned to parent together.  We grew together in our love of family and our love of God.  And then, he was gone.  I mourned the loss of my best friend, my husband, and my dreams for many years.

I’ve never understood when I hear negative comments about marriage.  I was told once after Terry died,  that I was lucky I didn’t have to put up with a man any longer.  (I definitely didn’t agree!)  I’ve listened to comments about the “poor saps” that were getting married soon and how foolish they were.  I couldn’t comprehend “out-growing” my husband and moving on to greener pastures.  How do you out-grow someone with whom you are growing daily?  Couples that lived very separate lives always mystified me.    Terry and I had our own careers.  And, we were sometimes separated due to traveling for work.  But, I talked to him every night regardless of our locations.  While I might enjoy a day or two of being able to “do my own thing”, I counted the days until we were both home together again.  And, I think he did too.   Anytime Terry and I were in the same room, people knew we were together.  He was my husband and I was his wife. I wanted every person around us to know that.  I was proud to be married to him.   Life wasn’t easy.  We struggled with finances and work options.  There were extended family issues that affected our little family.  In later years, there were health issues to consider.  But, we had committed to God and to each other to see it through until the end.  We were together!

I married Tim in 2015.  Being married in our 50’s is an experience.  We both brought our own baggage into our marriage.  We’ve endured the buying, remodeling and selling of a home,  the buying and remodeling of another home, unemployment and the resulting financial problems, legal issues, the start-up our own business, joining a new church and just learning to be married to each other.  We’ve both had to stop filtering every comment and action through our previous life experiences.  I’m still working on my own insecurities and finding my place in our life together and with our children in this new family model.

There are always challenges in blending families.  Regardless of the age of the children in a blended family there are issues.   Jealousy about who likes who better.  Protectiveness of “my mom” or “my dad”.  While we strive to build new family traditions, there is pain as the old traditions are changed or even replaced.  Each child has different expectations for family life.  There have been tears and complaints, hurt feelings and joy since our marriage.   I expect that to continue as we grow together.

I adore being married to Tim.  At the same time, there are times that I still mourn for Terry and the things I miss sharing with him: our son, Zac’s wedding, the birth of Zac’s son, Gracie’s graduation from college and the purchase of her first home,  etc.  I also walk into unknown territory as a step-mom:  Where do I fit?  How involved is too involved?

The joys far out-weigh the trials.  Maybe because I’ve endured the loss of a husband, I truly treasure my time with Tim.  My views haven’t really changed.  I still believe marriage is for a life-time.  I still believe that we are to “become one” in every way. There is no “out-growing” each other.    I still believe in unconditional love.  I believe I have been incredibly blessed to find such a deep and abiding love the 2nd time around.  I still get butterflies when I hear his voice.  I still count the days, the hours and the minutes when we are separated.  To walk into a room holding my husband’s hand, is still one of the greatest thrills for me.  I can find the happiness we all say we want, because of the joy and peace that I have in my marriage today.

I am so glad I was given a chance at joy the second time around.

Interruptions

Don’t you hate getting interrupted? Just when the plot thickens on your favorite show, the phone rings or one of the kids needs you NOW. Does it drive you crazy? It does me! I’m a confessed control freak, so interruptions are NOT something that I look upon with kindness.

My Ladies Bible Study group has just started “Jonah, A Life Interrupted” by Priscilla Shirer. From the onset of this study, we’ve been asked to look at our own interrupted lives. And we’ve all had interruptions. Maybe it was not being noticed by ‘THAT BOY’ that brought your dreams crashing down. Maybe you didn’t get into the college you had dreamed about for years. Or maybe, you did get into that college and it wasn’t what you expected. Maybe your marriage doesn’t look like you dreamed and you are frustrated and upset with the lack of communication. You just want to be “HAPPY”. Maybe your marriage is over and you never expected to live life as a single parent. Maybe death has ended dreams for yourself, your marriage or your family. Maybe you just realized that your close friend is embarrassed to be seen with you in public. All of these things are interruptions. Of course, there are the GOOD interruptions, too. Do you have any of those? The “surprise” baby that has increased your family, a new and budding friendship, a new and challenging job. Even happy events can interrupt our life, our plans. Usually, interruptions or changes to our lives are unwelcome.

Job was a man who had his life interrupted. And yet, these are the words recorded in Job 1:20-21 after he has lost everything:
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised.”

When my life is interrupted I need to stop asking God “Why?” Possibly, I would be better served to ask “Who?” Life’s interruptions may cause pain and sorrow and bring grief and tears. Things I would rather avoid. We’ve all heard it said “No pain, no gain.” So, why do I expect God to give me an easy path and increase my faith and strengthen my spiritual life. I will only grow and get stronger as I work thru the interruptions. I guess I need to change my view and instead of seeing interruptions to MY plans, I need to see opportunities for God to work in my life. I’m not there yet. I still have dreams that are dangling by a thread, plans that may never be fulfilled and lots of tears to shed. But, I’m learning to praise the name of the Lord thru the interruptions. And, I’m learning that I’m to really praise HIM, not just a perfunctory praise whispered under my breath. I need to praise Him with all my strength, to shout that praise from the top of my lungs regardless of what has brought me to my knees.

Invisible

I’m an expert at being invisible. I find it easy to blend into the crowd and just disappear. It’s easy to be invisible in a room full of people. Whether it’s a professional function or as a visitor at a new church or in a group of friends, I can be virtually invisible. I choose to lurk around the edges and wonder if someone, anyone will see me.

Sometimes I desperately want to be seen, to be noticed. But what if no one notices me? Or worse, what if I do get noticed and then ignored. If I become visible to just one person, I can no longer hide behind my invisibility cloak. I’m then at risk of being left out, laughed at, or unpopular.

I’ve been blessed through the years to have people in my life that truly see me. These true friends pull me from edges and into life. They refuse to let me retreat into the solitude of invisibility. These are the friends that challenge me to step out into the light. They urge me to share my feelings and dreams, my sorrows and fears. They dare me to do life out in the open. They love me as I am, not for what I could be. They allow me to return that love in my very own obsessive/compulsive way.

I still struggle with my tendency to fade into the background and disappear. I still struggle with questions about why anyone would care about me. And, I give thanks everyday for those faithful few that continue to love me.

Candy Crush Life

Have you ever played Candy Crush? It’s a popular and rather addictive game. You progress through the levels by amassing points, eliminating enough jelly, and bringing down various fruit. The premise is simple: you match colors in groups of three or more to score. Eliminating more than three items nets you some additional ‘perks’ to use in the game. There are time bombs that have to be eliminated and that nasty chocolate that creeps across and blocks access to parts of the board as well as a limited number of moves for each level. Some levels were easy to conquer and then some have taken me weeks to master.

There are times that my life feels like a Candy Crush game. I can get so focused on getting a bonus piece that I totally overlook the chocolate that is taking over my board. In life, I am just as guilty of focusing too much in one area and totally missing the truly important stuff. I try so hard to get what is important in the moment and I lose everything in the end.

So how do I live in this moment but keep my focus on the bigger picture? What IS the bigger picture? That’s where Faith come into play. Too often my faith in only as strong as a three or four-color string of candy. When the chocolate creeps across and makes things difficult, I panic and fall apart. I need to have complete faith and trust on the promises God had given me through His word:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I have to stop focusing on MY little plans and adventures. In 2014, I pray that my goals and plans are God designed, not of the Candy Crush variety. I desire my heart to belong to my Lord and Savior and follow his lead in my life. No matter what creeps in and offers a distraction, I will focus on the higher goal.

This won’t be easy. The “candy” in life is everywhere. I will enjoy bits and pieces along the way, I just can’t allow my focus to be dependent on the perks. What about you? Do you live a Candy Crush life? Is this the year to make a difference in your life?

Drifting

When my kids were little, we would visit area water parks. At the time, there were 2 larger parks and then a smaller one on our side of town. The kids loved to go. They liked the slides and chutes, the faster and higher the better. My favorite parts of the park was the lazy river and the wave pool. There weren’t lots of stairs to climb or blind turns in the dark tunnels. And best of all, the water forced up my nose was held to a minimum. I just enjoyed drifting along in the waves, going nowhere in particular.

Drifting can be a relaxing and mindless activity. You just enjoy the gentle rocking up and down and let the waves carry you along. It works really well in an enclosed park. But, mindless drifting can get you into trouble in the ocean. Before you realize it, you can be further away from the shore than you ever intended. It’s easy to be totally lost with no idea where to go if you don’t pay attention. And the effort to get back on course is often exhausting at best.

Sometimes in life it’s just easier to go with the flow, to just drift along and do what comes easy. Then, I look around and wonder where I am and how did I get here? Often it’s the rush of the falling rapids of my life that get my attention. How do I get back on track with “the plan”? Is it even worth trying? And I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve watched others drift past and wondered when are they going to realize the rapids are coming even as I ignore my own destination.

One of the few things I remember from the Franklin-Covey training I received many years ago was this: If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time! When I allow myself to just drift along, I am choosing to aim for nothing. Dreams and plans require some effort. I have to open my eyes to the possibilities. I have to allow myself to dream even if those dreams may never be reality. Even failure is better than simply drifting. I have to stop retreating to the lazy river and make an effort to jump into the rapids. I need to take aim at life and with that the responsibility of where I’m going.