Caryn

Two of my grandchildren will turn 15 at the end of this month. As I reflect on how quickly the years have flown by, I think back on my own childrens’ youth. When your children are small, you think it will be forever before they drive, date, get married, and have children, much less have children of driving age. But when you look back on those years from this side of life, those years seem like it was all just last week.

I remember the day each of my daughters was born. The miracle of life placed into my arms. It was so hard to believe that they were mine. Those days that I thought would last forever, quickly melted into their grade school years, filled with room mother duties, and throat cultures, field trips and sports. Again, I was lulled into the belief that those days would last forever, but before I knew it they were in junior high and then high school. Soon came that all important birthday when they would start to learn to drive and begin dating. They had turned 15.

By this time I was beginning to realize that it was not going to be very long before the next big changes would enter our lives, because time goes by so quickly. Their school years were over in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it we were planning weddings and adjusting to being empty nesters.

Then came the days when my girls told me they were having babies. My girls, who were born eleven months apart, were both pregnant at the same time, and before I knew it, I became a grandmother twice in two days. Those were two beautiful days. The next two and a half years would bring two more grandchildren, and we thought we would have babies around for a long time.

But, once again, I look back on those years, now flown so quickly by, and think, “It seems like it was just last week that they were born.” Before we know it, they will be married and having babies of their own. And yes, we will again be lulled into thinking those years will last forever, but in our heart of hearts, we will know the these children too, will be so quickly grown, as the years melt away, into the future that will be theirs.

A few years ago, I found myself sinking into depression. There was so much going on in my life that I had no control over, and I was stressed out to say the least. This situation was so new to me. I had always been a happy person, and now I was becoming angry and bitter, and I didn’t like it one bit, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. My situation had taken on a life of it’s own.

After my Dad passed away in December of 2007, I found myself feeling like there wasn’t much to live for. It wasn’t like I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so sad, that I couldn’t find anything to be happy about. We had fought so hard to get Dad back to health, and we were winning, and then his liver failed, and he was gone. It shook my whole world. Nothing was right, and it wouldn’t ever be right again. Even though I know that my Dad was saved, and I will see him again in Heaven, I missed him so much, and I still do, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to continue on in this depressed state.

I had to find a way back to life. I began to pray for help…for a way back. The Lord guided me first to begin eating better, thereby giving me more energy. Then the Lord began to encourage me to get outside and walk. I started walking on the trail near our home, and slowly began to feel like the fresh air and beauty of God’s creation, and the time spent talking with the Lord began to heal my spirit. I continue to look forward to the warmer months when I can get back outside and recharge again.

I still miss my Dad terribly, but I have been able to move forward with my life. I know I will see him again in Heaven, and I very much look forward to that day, but I know that I have a job to do here. My work here is not done. I am needed here. And my Dad would want me to live a full life.

I know that my life will always have it’s challenges, but the Lord is always there for me. He is my source of strength. I know many people might not find that to be true for them, but they have not been down the road I have. They have not seen the Lord help them to find the way back.

In a world of instant gratitude, being patient is not well received. We want a diet pill that instantly makes us thin. We charge things so we don’t have to save for them. We want instant income, instant fame, instant expertise, and the list goes on and on.

In The Message version of the Bible, Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” God want’s us to be content with what we have, and patient enough to wait for him to bring blessings to us. When we get “let-me-help-itis”, we get into trouble.

Being patient is important in everyday life too. We have to work to get where we want to be, and most times the road there takes a while, but isn’t a worthwhile goal worth the trip? There is such a sense of satisfaction when you finally reach a goal you set for yourself. You can be proud of what you have achieved.

The goal of being debt free is such a great goal, and it is Biblical too. Not many people get there, but with hard work and patience it is a goal that can be achieved. Of course the first move to make is, stop charging! Begin to save up for things you want, and pay as much as possible on existing debt. As cards are paid off, add that payment to remaining payments to pay everything off faster. The beauty of this is that you get to spend more of your own money when you aren’t paying interest to other people.

These are just a couple of goal setting ideas, and reasons to take this journey. I’m sure you have goals you want to reach. Be patient and work toward your goals. You can do it, if you don’t give up.

My husband and I had the rare opportunity, at least for January in Wyoming, to take a walk outside on the trail near our home. The day was beautiful. It was 59 degrees out and no wind, which is another rarity for Winter in Wyoming. We love to hike and walk the trails in our area. To be one with nature and just enjoy each other’s company.

We walked along with snow on the sides of the trail, and the occasional passerby on the trail. We know most of these people as it is usually the same people out walking. There is a camaraderie among the walkers. Most say “Hello” and then move back into their peaceful thought world, as do we. It is easy to walk side by side here in total silence, because that is how it feels on the trail. It’s not really a place for lots of small talk…normally.

As we walk along, suddenly there is an outburst of noise. We are at the spot in the trail where there is a house that has a hedge of bushes that always seems to be filled with birds, all chirping at once. A place we have dubbed “the clubhouse” because there are so many birds there year round. As we listen my thoughts wander back to my blog, as a story begins to form in my head…a story of nature’s version of Twitter.

Why is it that we like social networking so much? I’m sure the reasons are as varied as the users…and the moments. I think many of us start out networking just to see what it’s all about, but then we get hooked. We like socializing. We like seeing what is going on in friends lives. We like reconnecting with friends from the past, or relatives who have moved far away. We can see pictures of babies as they grow, or post goofy faces to make our friends laugh. For many of us it can be very addictive.

Sometimes however, I think we just want to have our say without repercussion. Everyone has the right to free speech, right? Well maybe, but I’ve seen plenty of times were someone was chewed out pretty bad for having their say on a social network site. And maybe sometimes that is what they want. The shock factor. I think that when people constantly post negative, profanity filled, angry posts, they are looking for someone to argue with, and hoping someone will take the bait. Now I’m not saying that every negative post is that way, but the constant negative posts…I mean, can anyone’s life really be that horrible? Or do they want attention?

Another type of attention could be the reason too. Sometimes I think people are actually screaming for attention. A good example of this might be the kids who are constantly screaming about how awful their life or day was. Sometimes I wonder if they get much attention at home, but even if some don’t, it can’t always be that way. There are plenty of angry kids out there who have great parents, who spend a lot of time at their wits end. Their kids don’t talk to them, they scream. They are always venting about how horrible their lives are. The problem with that is that eventually they can’t find anything to be positive about. And they go on raging and raging until something finally changes.

But sometimes, the person on the social networking sites is just trying to see if anyone is out there. Loneliness can come in many forms. Sometimes the most heartbreaking things are first told to friends on Facebook. It isn’t a matter of wanting to get information out, it is a matter of feeling like people care. Like you don’t have to face this alone. When we post some of those terribly painful things, we want people to respond. To make us feel hugged…held. To make us feel loved. And for some, who are going through the worst types of pain, the losses, sometimes they are just looking for life after…

I have been noticing more and more children today thinking that the quality of their life and indeed, their very self worth, depends on how their day went at school, or whether a guy/girl likes them, or if their friend is mad at them. These things might seem like their life depends on the outcome, but the reality is that in a few years, none of this will matter. Their school years will pass, and they will look back and wonder what the big deal was.

The negative posts on Facebook, My Space, Twitter and more tell me that even the adults have somehow become caught up in that type of thinking. It concerns me that all the negative posts by adults are teaching our young people that this is just how adults act.

I would like to point out that very few people are still in the same dreary state in ten years, or often even the next day. Most people are going places. They are going to become something. Get married. Have children. Get jobs. These school years are so very short in comparison to the years of a life, that it is like a drop in the bucket of time. Sure, life is a wild ride, filled with its ups and downs, but most of you will survive the “horrible” moments…if you don’t give up on yourself.

So, next time you are tempted feel sorry for yourself about how horrible your life is, remember that today is but a fleeting moment in time, and the ups and downs that go with it, will be long forgotten very soon, because you are going places. Keep your chin up and look forward, to the future. It is just around the corner.

So often in today’s busy world, we find ourselves thinking, “I’m too busy to help others.” It’s true that we live in a fast paced world, and it would seem that since we are usually hurrying to get somewhere, we just couldn’t squeeze in even a moment to help someone else. That would put us even further behind schedule.

But, have you ever stopped long enough to look around at the “helpers” in your midst? I never really had, until I was a caregiver myself. There are many children out there taking care of aging parents.

I have taken my parents or my in-laws to the doctor, and there are lots other people, many about my age, in there with their parents. People who love their parents and want to give them the quality of life they are used to, but couldn’t have without help.

I ran into a friend at WalMart last weekend, and she has 3 children of her own, who keep her very busy, and yet, in the middle of all the running around she does for her kids, she finds time to go help her mother-in-law with housework and grooming, since she broke her arm in a car accident, and can’t do much by herself, and she does it with a smile and a wonderful, pleasant attitude.

My own son-in-law got a call from his brother, who had received a call from his aunt, who had been on the phone with my son-in-law’s mom, and she wasn’t making sense. My son-in-law, took time off from work to check on his mom. It turned out that his mom had experienced a stroke, and was in need of medical attention. He has since done whatever he can to assist her in her daily needs.

I often have clients who come into my office with their children or grandchildren bringing them, because they don’t drive anymore, and couldn’t make the trip without someone to help them. These are just good, kind children who show love for their parents or grandparents by helping them out with their errands.

These people didn’t plan to be caregivers at this point in their lives. We all think that when our kids are raised, those types of responsibilities will go away, and we will be free as birds, but often life throws you a curve ball, and then it is your turn to step up to the plate and show your helper’s heart.

If you find yourself in the position of caring for a loved one, think about this one thing…you still have them.

There is an old saying by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that goes like this. “Into each life a little rain must fall.” There is no way for each and every day of our lives to be filled with happiness. Things in life are always changing, and sometimes those changes make us unhappy. Things like parents divorcing, a loved one dying or moving far away, job losses, fights with friends, etc, can cause a wide range of emotions, not the lease of which is sadness and anger. So, how do we deal with these emotions in a positive way? We can’t stop sadness or anger from happening. They are a part of life. Then there is the problem of negative feelings multiplying in us when we think on them too much.

One possible solution to this problem goes along with one of my favorite Bible verses which I believe is best said in the Message version of the Bible. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9. God’s most excellent harmonies is just where I want to be. So if we think about the things mentioned in these verses, then we are basically thinking of the good things and not the bad, so…something to smile about. I like that idea.

Now, I have never been a person who liked being told to “Smile!!!” It always annoyed me because I wasn’t sad or mad, just not smiling, but maybe I was having a negative effect on others. Also something to think about. So, I am going to start looking around me and thinking on good things so that I will have something to smile about, and I believe I will feel better because of it.

There is so much negativity in our world today. Our children rage over everything. The internet is filled kids and adults cussing each other out on the pages of Facebook, My Space, Twitter and more. The fights are very public and very ugly. And after the original post, come all the comments, some in full cuss mode agreement, while others chew out the person who said such awful stuff in the first place, and then those who try to console the poor abused one. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I know that the life of a teenager and very often adults, can be hard, but is the internet the proper place to vent our anger, and the reality of it is that anger and bitterness just breeds more anger and bitterness.

When we decide to have a “pity party” the goal is to get a lot of people into it and thereby make ourselves feel better, because we know that so many people care about us, but it’s funny how after the party is over, we just go back to feeling bad and because we haven’t tried to be happy in life, we can easily end up being a bitter, hateful, lonely person.

Being angry and raging at the culprit doesn’t succeed in making us feel better, no matter how much we would like it too. When we are angry, we sit an brood over the problem, and continue to get angrier and angrier. And yet we continue to think that getting it all out will somehow help. All we are doing is planting a seed of bitterness by raging in the first place, and watering that seed by brooding over the problem.

We all make mistakes, and quite possibly if we try to be understanding of other people’s shortcomings, they would return the favor. Happiness is contagious, as is kindness, understanding, forgiveness and patience. We should all pass it on.

Have you ever wished you could go back and change the mistakes of the past? We all have, of course, but we can’t. Even if we go to the person and ask forgiveness, it doesn’t change the past. People can’t forget what you did, or who you were, even if you change into someone wonderful…nor can you. You will always have to live with the mistakes of your past. You can never go back and change the things you regret. That moment is gone forever, and we are left with one thing…regret.

When we were needed, did we help out? When we had the chance to show mercy, did we? When we had the chance to lift someone up and give them a better day, did we? When we had the chance to forgive, did we? There are so many opportunities to do the right thing, but so often we are so self absorbed that we can’t see anything but what we want. We think, “Let someone else do it. I’m busy.” The problem with being self absorbed is that all to often when the person is gone, we are left with…regret.

All around us people are saying you should be able to say or do whatever you want. It’s a free country, right? And the reality is that they are right…it is a free country, but there are consequences for your actions, good or bad. So someone made you mad. You feel slighted. And now, you are going to get even, right? Be careful because “getting even” has it’s price and it is called…regret.

Why is it so important that we get even with other people? Why is it always someone elses job to be there when needed? Why…because we have become a people whose only priority is self. We think, “I’m busy. I am important. I have things to do. I refuse to put up with that. I can say whatever I want to. I can do whatever I want to.” And the list goes on. The reality is that, while we can do all of the above, all too often these actions will ultimately leave us with one thing…regret.

So the next time you feel like being selfish and want to say or do something that you might regret, remember that you will have many opportunities to say or do the mean thing you are thinking about, but only one chance to stop the cycle of…regret.