The one I need to hear… and maybe you too

I’m honestly not sure where to start. I’ve had a lot of thoughts going through my head these last few days. I just know I need to write them down in some fashion.

There’s been too many lives taken lately, from senseless acts. We are a crying nation. Ready for a change.

Maybe you have a lot of thoughts going through your head, too. Maybe we’re all in a little bit of a whirlwind after what took place on Friday. Maybe we’re emotionally exhausted. Maybe we’ve given up hope on humanity. Maybe, lately, it’s been easy to do so.

I am a self-proclaimed Christian. I’ll be honest with you, when someone inexcusably walks into a school with a vengeance, like on Friday, it becomes increasingly hard to cling to my proclamation. It becomes increasingly hard to hold on to that faith that has helped me in my own life when society around me continues to fall apart. For anyone who claims becoming a Christian is a cop-out; a way to be naive and pretend all is good in the world while ignoring the bad, who claims Christianity is the weak thing to do, is the easy way out … clearly hasn’t tried to be a follower of Christ. I can say right now my life was so much easier before I became a Christian. Now, I feel I have an obligation to be a light in an extremely dark world, and that’s really hard because … my light flickers, often.

So when someone walks into an elementary school and takes the lives of 26 people, I’m stuck with asking “Why?” As are all of us.

Why, God, should I work so hard on trying to be good and do good, when no matter what I do, the world continues to shed evil?

Why, God, whether you caused this or not, would you let this happen?

Why, God, should I bother bringing children into this suffering world?

WHY, God?

I am a follower of Christ. I love God. I believe He is only good … but it doesn’t stop me from asking why. It will never stop me from asking why. Honestly, I don’t think He wants me to stop asking why. Because asking a question makes you seek the answer … and God is the answer. Every single time. No matter how many times I turn away from Him, doubt Him, become angry at Him, which can be often, I can’t help but find my way back to Him. I have no where else to go. Nothing else satisfies. Nothing ever will.

So when evil enters an elementary school, I am enraged, sad, confused, conflicted. I need to cling to hope, however little hope I have. I need to cling to the notion that God is good and He has a plan. I need to cling to my thinning rope of trust in humanity. I need to cling to my belief that God doesn’t cause the tragedies of this world, but uses them to be glorified IN them. I need to cling because if I don’t, evil will win. We cling because if we don’t, evil will win.

Many can say, “Karen, this is all great and inspiring, but what if it was your child taken that day? A little bit harder to cling, isn’t it?” I’d reply with an overwhelming, YES. It can be easy to put matters into perspective when you’re looking from the outside in. No doubt, the question, “why” would linger much longer in my mind. God knows this. He knows me more than anyone else on this planet. He knows my personality as if it were His. I’d be extremely angry with Him. I’d turn from Him. I’d mock Him. I’d curse Him. But in my grief, however long it may take, God will wait patiently for me. He loves me. He has no choice.

We have a choice. To cling or to fall. To do good or do evil. I pray that each and every person directly connected in Newtown, CT clings. Clings to God, to each other. I pray we cling to God and to each other. I pray we cling to the belief that beauty still exists in this world, that we ARE the beauty of this world and we can make a difference. I pray we never give up hope. I pray we choose love. Love one another, love God, love ourselves, love even our enemies. Lead our future generation well. Lead with grace, forgiveness, kindness, humility. Encourage one another… Cling.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

We will overcome.

My heart is with you, Newtown. May your little children and heroic women be happily at rest, in the arms of Jesus. And may you find comfort in Him. We are all behind you. Don’t lose hope.

“Pain insists on being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our consciences, but
shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone
to rouse a deaf world.”
— C.S. Lewis

The one that’s way overdue…

Well aren’t I quite the blogger …. haven’t posted anything since May. That’s productive.

But I’m here to write!

Simplicity. Life get’s way complicated as an adult, doesn’t it? Perhaps part of the reason I haven’t written in so long. So much gets in the way of the simple act of writing…

Remember when life was simple? I mean, the days your mother picked out your clothes for you, simple? I remember how easily pleased I was when I was a kid. In fact, my favorite game growing up with a friend of mine was Spy…this entailed us crawling around the house without being seen and spying on our family members. All we did was crawl around the house, and I thought it was the best game ever.

Another one? Lava. You know this one. You’d have to climb over everything and NEVER touch the ground, or else you died. Because the ground was lava. Amazing.

Life was simple. Your days were simple. Even your thoughts were simple.

Now amidst all the work, bills, people, mortgages, smart-phones or any piece of technology that has sapped us of any chance of peace, the simple life gets lost in the shuffle. Suddenly, the only simplicity you have are the memories of your childhood.

My husband sometimes tells me I’m hard to please. This saddens me. On one hand, I’d like to tell him he’s so wrong, but I can’t seem to do that, because on the other hand, I agree. Somehow in the twists and turns of my life, I became quite the negative person. Pessimistic, one could say. Without any real reason, my once imaginative, happy little mind was overtaken by the chaos of growing up. I lost my child-like abilities a long time ago. I’m an old soul. A far cry from that young girl who spent her days crawling around the house.

I admit, I’m not the same person I used to be, but I know that little girl is in me somewhere. I still appreciate the little things. I still give people the benefit of the doubt, no matter how much wrong they’ve done. Almost every Date Line I watch, I somehow always believe the suspect is innocent. I can be too trusting of people. Video games are awesome. And my eating habits are still what they were when I was 8.

See, I’m not all bad.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this world and it’s so easy to be negative that sometimes people forget what even makes them happy anymore. Pessimism may always be a part of me, but I know what to hold on to. I know what makes me happy, and Adam, even though he says I’m hard to please, knows it too. And that’s why he loves me … because first and foremost, it’s him who makes me happiest.

The list may be short, but I know what works best…

Family makes me happy. Good friends, too. Adam’s hugs get me every time. Christmas music puts an instant smile on my face, no matter the time of year. The smell of a Christmas tree tingles my senses. Puppies and kittens make my heart melt. As does Derek Jeter. The Yankees bring me joy…when they’re winning. And agony when they’re not (the agony may prove my love for them even more). No matter how bad a mood I’m in, the show Friends can always make it better. Buttery popcorn is my weakness. Poppyseed muffins, almond flavor, are the only reason I bake. A comfy bed entices me. Sleeping in is glorious. A real juicy, ribeye steak warms my belly. Mom’s gravy and meatballs will always be my first choice. Forrest Gump is the movie of all movies. Warm weather brightens my mood. A scorching hot day at the beach is the ultimate day. I’m most delirious when in Ortley Beach or Jupiter, Florida and … can I mention Adam again??

Simple.

The thing is, in this life, many of us have much longer lists of what we don’t love, or perhaps what we don’t have, instead of focusing on what’s already there that made us want to stick around in the first place. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I think this illuminates even more. I spent several days in areas hit the hardest and saw what some communities are going through. Lives have been lost, possessions gone, homes destroyed. Many have lost what makes them happy and you know what? Most I spoke with still appreciated what was left; still found a way to create a list.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in a world where pessimism is the norm and peace is non-existant. If you do, you’ll miss out on what’s truly making you happy. And in almost every life, it’s the simple things that do the trick.

Simplicity. Find it.

The one with the fall…

You know those bad moments that happen so slow and so fast at the same time? And as it’s happening you’re thinking, “Uh-oh…this is happening. It’s actually happening.” Well, I had this moment two days ago as I was leaving work, down in the parking garage. In short, I fell.

Hard.

This isn’t a metaphor. I literally fell. Slipped and wiped out. In front of two co-workers and 6 or 7 strangers. The slip itself happened in such slow motion. I even caught myself. But in the process of catching myself, I tripped over my own foot and BAM, I fell faster than (can I use the Kardashian marriage reference again?) It just works.

How did I fall? Face first. Yes. If it wasn’t for my right arm and shoulder hitting the ground first, this would be a totally different story. My face would have smashed into the cement floor. I literally had no way to break my fall so all of my body weight and pressure landed on my elbow and shoulder as I slammed into the cement like a car and a freight train colliding. The train has no give and the car shatters to pieces.

As I told Adam, probably one of the more embarrassing moments of my life. I jumped up so fast and practically sprinted to my car as if trying to pretend it didn’t happen. As everyone else went their merry way probably saying, “HAHA, did you see that ?!”

The pain got worse as the night wore on and when I woke up yesterday morning, my arm felt like I had decided to do a million one-arm push-ups the night before. I was bruised, sore and aching. I still am!

I’m only telling you this story because, well, it’s funny. You have to be able to laugh at yourself when embarrassing moments take place. Trip and fall stories are always great. We all have one. Don’t lie. You’ve wiped out before. And it was probably hysterical.

It wasn’t the first time I fell and it won’t be the last. I think we all can agree on that – whether literally or metaphorically.

The one with the routine…

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Adam posted this on my Facebook wall this morning. Gosh, he knows me.

The reason he posted this was because I already live in this kind of world. I usually just moan and make grunting noises throughout the morning getting ready for work. My “good morning” to Adam is a hug where I rest my head in his chest and close my eyes, resting in his coziness. I always wake up after him and when I do, he simply laughs every single time because I wake up so disgruntled and disoriented. What can I say? Mornings and I don’t get along.

I was talking with some co-workers today and we concluded that the older you get, the faster life feels. I think it’s because our lives are so much about routine. Think about it. Ever since we begin school at an early age, it becomes routine. Everyday, you go to school, you go home, you play, you have dinner, take a bath and go to bed. That was everyday. Maybe come middle school you have activities after school, and high school brought sports or part-time jobs. Since my memory is starting to fade, the first time I can remember life moving fast was in high school. I still remember graduation day mesmerized at how quick high school felt.

College? A blink. Seriously. It came and went like the Kardashian marriage.

And we get to now. Where life is moving faster than ever. Once you get out into the real world and into a full-time job it can become so monotonous that the weeks kinda of blur together. Working makes everyday feel the same. It’s a blessing to work. It’s a blessing to have a job. But sometimes we need to find the happy medium between “working to live” and “living to work.” This morning getting ready for work I kept thinking, “But I just did this yesterday!” That’s the monotony of life. It happens.

I read once in a devotional through my YouVersion Bible App that so many people want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong with their lives. I think this is one of the reasons why our generation is so non-committal and always looking for a change of pace. Something new, something different, something faster, better. We try so hard to disregard our routines instead of finding the beauty IN them. Our best generation was that of my grandfather’s who is 91 years old. It’s the generation that stayed faithful to their spouse, found a job or two or three to raise their family, never complained about that first, second, or third job, and just did what they had to do. They were content. Something this generation knows nothing about.

We’re the generation with the most “stuff” yet probably the most miserable. It’s sad. And I’m not discounting me in this. I am just as bad.

My mind tends to dwell on the past and ponder the future. I never really think in the moment and just live my life. It’s something I’m trying to change. And want to change. I don’t want to miss out on my life. Because even in the monotony you can find beauty. Even in routine, you can find chaos. Even in a fast paced life, you can have moments. The little ones are the best.

Like hugging Adam every morning. That’s a moment that makes waking up very worth it.

The one with…

You know, the show Friends is my absolute favorite show. People who know me well understand this very much. I’m actually annoying. I can recite almost every line to every episode. There was TEN seasons. I own all of them. I continue to watch re-runs on TV and talk along with each character. My husband…my poor husband. He thinks I’m sick. Maybe.

The point I’m trying to make is that every episode Friends has ever made is titled the same way. Every title begins with “The one with…” I find it genius that they were able to do this for ten years. Do you see where I’m going with this??

Yes, from now on, I am going to try my hardest to name the rest of my blog posts starting with “The one with (or that)…” It’s not going to be easy. But I accept the challenge.

One of the reasons I love the show so much is because I can literally take any moment I’m in throughout my day and relate it to a Friend’s situation or specific line. It’s honestly a gift. I will be having a conversation with someone and at any time a line will pop up in my mind that could easily be said. Of course, I hold back. Unless it’s someone I know who will appreciate it.

For some, it may seem like I don’t live in reality when I do this. What I say to that is “Could you BE anymore wrong?” If you know the character Chandler, you understand what I just did there. For me, it actually keeps things light. I find it makes times during the day more fun because, let’s face it, it’s the funniest show ever. Who doesn’t want to laugh throughout the day?

I mean, it’s not like my mind is living in a world of Friends. It’s just nice to make light of situations and to find ways to keep your sanity. If you’re so serious all the time what kind of life is that?? Sitcoms are funny and any problem that exists usually ends about 28 minutes later. Now that’s the way to live. Just kidding. THAT is not reality, but what I’m trying to say is, sometimes, we need the sitcom life. Otherwise, it’s going to be one long soap opera that never ends. And they literally never end…have you seen daytime TV?

Find some comedy in your life and tune in. Don’t get caught up in your soap operas. Who wants to see Dr. Drake Ramore fall down an elevator shaft on Days of Our Lives anyway? … You see what I did there?

Remember, life is beautiful if you treat it right.

When there’s traffic for no reason…

My route to work is a good forty minutes every morning. And you know what? I actually don’t mind it. I enjoy the time to myself to blast music, listen to sports radio, and even talk to God. This is especially true when it’s nice out. I actually hate driving when it’s just drizzling, let alone pouring or snowing. This is clearly something I have to get over as I can’t really control the weather.

But it’s mornings like today where driving sometimes turns me into a, as Buddy the Elf would say, ‘cotton-headed ninny muggins.’ This is the case when there is traffic…for NO reason. It took me well over an hour to get to work today. There were no accidents; not even a pulled over car. There was nothing. Why, oh why then am I not moving? It literally boggles my mind.

It’s mornings like this that test my patience. Obviously I don’t have any and I think God is laughing when He watches it unfold. I think He likes to see me squirm during pretty nontrivial things. I always find myself in a ‘woe is me’ attitude when, I don’t know, several thousand other people are in the same predicament. ‘Shut up, Karen’ I tell myself. ‘You’re not the most important person on Route 287. Get over yourself and wait like everybody else.’ Ouch. If that’s my own conscience, I wonder what God is thinking?!

No matter how many times one may hit traffic in their life, I think every time is a learning experience. At least it is for me. I learn new things about myself. I learn how human I am in my thought process and how ugly we can be when things don’t go our way. I love learning this about myself, though, because I know everyone else is the same. We are all faulty; all broken. It actually makes me cling to God more knowing I really CAN’T do this on my own. I can’t even get through traffic, for crying out loud.

It just shows me, personally, how much I need God. And I’m okay with that. I don’t want to do this on my own. I don’t want to figure out everything all by myself. That would actually be horrifying. Maybe that’s just me, but I like to have a little guidance. I like to be told when I’m being a ‘cotton-headed ninny muggins.’ It makes me a better person.

And who doesn’t want to be a better person?? … Eh, I know a couple people.  =)

My Father’s house has many rooms…

One year ago today I lost my grandmother. I adored her. She was the one woman I literally thought Jesus’ love shined through her. I pray to God everyday to make me more like her. She was an incredible wife, mother and woman who loved the Lord with all of her heart. She always couldn’t wait to touch Jesus’ Tassel’s someday in Heaven. I have NO doubt she has already accomplished that.

This day brings a little sadness and some painful memories, but last year today something great also happened. We lost her here on earth and my selfish self wishes I could have her back, but I also can’t help but smile when I think of her in Heaven. Like a little girl again, she is probably sitting on her Father’s lap happier than I could ever imagine.

And this makes me smile. Because she’s smiling.

Today, I couldn’t help but think of the book of John 14. The first four verses read: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Knowing my Nanny, she is assisting Him in preparing a place for her beloved husband.

Although my grandfather is alive and well, he has spent the last year without his beautiful bride of sixty-five years. He, without a doubt, misses her and when it’s time for God to call him home, he’ll be as happy as Nanny was. Even though the thought of losing him makes me sad, I’ll know he’ll be reunited with his girl.

And this makes me smile. Because he’ll be smiling.

For me, one of the biggest reasons I have always believed in God is because of the love they shared. His love shined through them like a blinding light and they represented Him in a way I hope to emulate someday.

I think God knew exactly what He was doing with them. So I’m going to trust that He knows exactly what He’s doing with me.. Someday when it comes time for God to call me home, I know my room will be ready, and my beloved husband, Adam, will be right there with me.. Just like Nanny and Pop. Just like Mom and Dad. Just like all who God calls to come home.

And this makes me smile. Because God will be smiling.

Why sports make me cry. Literally.

This is why I love sports.

It’s a Thursday night, just settled in after a day of work. I’m sitting in my apartment sipping on a cold drink waiting for Adam to come home. I’m watching ESPN because, you know, every girl watches ESPN on her free time, right? They begin telling a story about a Junior basketball player from Kansas University named Tri Robinson. I’ve heard of him. Good ballplayer. Definitely going to the NBA. But this is all I knew. What I didn’t know, though, was during his sophomore year, he lost his grandmother, grandfather and then mother all within a 25 day span. He didn’t have a father. All he had was his little sister whom his mother had with another man. She was only 5 or 6 at the time. And her father? He was in prison.

Within 3 and a half weeks, Tri Robinson’s life got pulled out from under him. He lost everything. A teen, all the way out in Kansas, a far cry from Washington DC where he was from, was all alone. He cried in his coach’s arms stating, “I have nothing left. I have nobody.” So what did he do? He woke up the next day with a new motivation. He wanted to play for his sister. Tri Robinson played in a home game the very next day after his mother passed. And he turned to basketball to get him through.

This is why I love sports. This is why I watch it. This is why I am a fan. This is why I played. And this is why sports is much bigger than the game itself. It’s an escape. It’s an oasis. Not just for the players involved, but for fans, as well. I don’t even know this guy. I’m not even a Kansas fan. I have Kentucky winning the NCAA Championship. But this ESPN segment had me sitting here crying, by myself, staring at the screen wanting to hug this kid. Because his life turned upside down. And yet he kept going. With the game of basketball.

It’s people like Tri Robinson who keep me going. I hear stories like that and I realize just how blessed and lucky I am. It’s people like him who I think about when I’m stuck in traffic angry thinking the world is against me because I might be late to work. He’s the guy I think about when I wake up in the morning and don’t even feel like getting out of bed. He’s the guy I think about when I sit with my wonderful family or friends and feel ungrateful. And now, he’s the guy I’m going to think about for the rest of the NCAA Championship. My bracket says Kentucky. My heart says Tri Robinson.

Sorry Kentucky, but I choose my heart.

“Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson…”

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