Monday, November 19, 2012

Livin' on a Prayer.

Prayer.  It's an interesting concept.  You sit and you talk to someone who "isn't there."  He's not there visually, of course.  If you're a Christian, the concept isn't so crazy.  If you're not, you might think of a Christian as a crazy person, talking to a hallucination.   As a Christian, I have known prayer... for a long, long time.  I'm not sure when I learned to pray, but I remember saying my bedtime  prayers as a little girl.  I still begin my bedtime prayer the same every night:

Now I lay me, down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  Keep me Jesus, through the night, and wake me with the morning light.
"Make a Wish" ©Nicole Worthley

I used to do the more elaborate version, in which the second sentence was, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take; if I should live another day, I pray the Lord to guide my ways...  but I went through a period after my cousin, who was 2, drown, in which I was terrified of dying because I didn't want to leave my family, and I cut that part out because it would torment me and keep me from falling asleep.   Now, I occasionally switch it up, but the shorter version comes so natural.

It used to end with with, God bless Mommy, Daddy, and everyone, Amen.  

Now, it ends with, God bless my husband, my children, my family... and then it ensues with a longer list of prayers, musings, thoughts, questions, etc.

I admit, I don't pray as much as I should probably pray.   I am guilty of usually only praying at night, and if something goes "wrong," or when I'm at certain family homes and we're eating meals, or at church.

But, lately, especially, I've taken on a lot of prayer.  Still, mostly at night, but now it's starting to infiltrate into other parts of the day.  I know it's mostly because of our current hardship.  But, I also feel like it's just an evolving sense of faith.  I've gone through prayerful periods before.

What's new, now, I noticed today, is that for the past few weeks, if I am driving and in the vehicle alone, I pray.  And, sometime its out loud.  Yeah.  Woah.  I haven't prayed an impromptu prayer aloud since my camp counselor years when it was a common occurance to lead a prayer aloud.     Then, I always felt a bit of stage fright, though, knowing it was in front of tons of people.

I have, apparently, without really thinking about it or planning it, started praying, aloud, driving.  I noticed the other day when I was driving across town in traffic that I was praying, and that's when I looked back, thinking of the last few weeks and how that happens.  Yesterday, I decided, after it came to my attention what I was doing, that I would spend my entire commute talking with, or to, God.  No excuses.

It was a great drive, I must say.

I can't say that I'll be up for praying aloud, publicly, any time soon, but it feels really good to do it privately.

Now, after noticing that, I feel like I should really incorporate more prayer into my life and our home.  I feel like we should introduce bedtime prayers to Spencer.  He's two, so he won't "get it" necessarily, even if we do explain.  I'm not sure how to explain really.  I've never "done" God stuff with a toddler before.  I feel like we should pray before meals when we eat together, and even if we don't, I can still pray.  I feel like, maybe, Jake and I should really make the effort to pray together.

So, the title... it immediately came to mind when I decided to write another blog tonight.  I didn't realize, immediately, that it's a song.  A few seconds later, of course, I did.

Side note: Bon Jovi was one of my childhood crushes.  Yeah.  I said it.

Turns out, the chorus fits, though.  Yup, I do love this song.

She says we've got to hold on to what we've got 
Cause it doesn't make a difference 
If we make it or not 
We've got each other and that's a lot 
For love - well give it a shot 

We get along... better.

Last night... I think it was last night, it might have been this afternoon, but I'm pretty certain it was last night... It was!  It was after Jake was gone a few hours using wi-fi to job hunt...

Wow.  Talk about a lack of real introduction.  Hi. I'm blogging.   I decided to just jump right into babbling without a "typical" Nik-esque introduction.

Okay.  Last night, after Jake was job hunting, he came home, and said something to the effect of, "You know, one good thing about this unemployment problem is that we get along a lot better now."

I looked at him quizzically.  He said, "Don't you agree?"

I continued to look at him in a questioning manner. I really had no idea what he was talking about!  I mean, yeah, we have had our share of disagreements and not getting along in the past, but it's not like we've been at each other's throats, on the verge of divorce, or anything that I considered to be a big deal. I definitely didn't feel like we haven't been getting along.

So, I asked him to clarify.  I forget his exact words, but basically, he didn't quite mean getting along as in not fighting.  He meant, in a roundabout way, that he thinks we enjoy our time together as a family more now.

To that, I must say, I did agree.

When he began his unemployment right after Collin was born, it was rough.  I admit I have been stressed and worried about rent and bills every single day since then, but I do try not to let it eat me alive.  I try to focus more on the good things that are going on around us.  Yeah, I still cry and worry, but I am not letting it make me bitter.  And, he isn't either.  Somehow, we're still hopeful.  We're praying and holding on and getting through.

But, with all the focus I've been putting on freaking out (silently or not so silently at times), I haven't focused on the wonderful as much as I could and should have.  

Did I say that already? Probably?  I am not scrolling up to read.

We had to cancel our cell phone service a while back when they started to overcharge us due to a plan upgrade on Jake's that they were carrying and insanely trying to charge me for, which was unfounded and we couldn't argue out of it with them... so we switched to pay-per-month type phones (with the help of friends the first month).   Mine's off for now until we have funds to spare, but we're keeping his up and running for job purposes.  With that, we lost internet (because our phones were our internet), and without internet on our phones, games weren't as fun, we weren't surfing the net, YouTube-ing, what have you, nearly as much.    We were more involved in the world outside our phones.  Not that we were neglecting our children when we had our smartphones or anything like that, but they of course took more focus away from the kids.

Now, we don't have those distractions.  We have some still, a nook, limited internet, movies, books... but they're not as "easy" to access or get sucked into.  So, we spend more time playing with the boys, talking to each other, etc.   We're more present in our little family unit.

We listen better, I think, now too.  For example, for years I have HATED when there would be random bits of clothes left around.  We had this problem for nearly seven years.  And now, after we really talked about it and why it bugs me so much, it's very rare I find socks or shoes or whatever it may be lying around on the floor.

I won't bore you with many more examples.

Summary: Jake is right.  We do "get along better" now.   Granted, he will (hopefully REALLY soon) have a job again and be gone more, and we won't be together nearly as much, but I think this stretch of spending SO much time together has really done us good, and I think things will carry on in a positive manner.  I think this financial brokenness has built us up in our relationships.  A blessing in "disguise."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Box of Love

November is the month of Thanksgiving, officially.  On Facebook, I'm participating, as are many others, in the 30 days of Thankfulness movement where you state something once a day, in a status, that you are thankful for.    I've so far, covered the basics, my sons, my husband, and my family and friends

But, today, I received a surprise.  Well, sort of. I was forewarned by my friend Ang that I would be getting a package in the mail.  I didn't think much of it, or tried not to, and just be surprised when it arrived.  Well, surprise number one was that it was a day late.  No big deal.

I feel like this post is going to be a bit... of  jumbled mess.  I'm going to back track first.

Way back when... years ago... I forget how many years ago, but a long time ago, in high school, I joined an online blogging site: Kiwibox.    There, I really entered into online journaling and in the process, made quite a few friends that I still am friends with this day.   So, over ten years ago, I met a great group of girls, now women.  After Kiwibox was starting to go... downhill, or really, we got old enough to think it was getting lame, we moved onto message board communities.  One of my friends and I decided to purchase a domain and run our own.  I forget, right offhand, how long we ran Bijouxmb, but it was quite a while.   Another message board, a sister site, almost, was born as well, Quarantine, run by a few of our friends.  For quite a long time, friendships formed, lives were shared, and we became close.   Now, I will admit, when we decided to let Bijouxmb die, and I was pregnant with Spencer, I stopped frequenting the boards.  Facebook was bigger and easier and it just sort of replaced it for me.  But, these women have since and always will had/have a place in my heart.

That said, confession time:  After Collin's birth, we realized that Jake's new job, the one he took at the beginning of the summer to better our financial future as well as provide more family time, wasn't going... as hoped.  It really wasn't working out for us.  We have an old suburban as our vehicle after our van went kaput and it would cost nearly as much to fix as it did to buy it.  The suburban is a gas hog, and was eating away his income, really, from this new job.   As of October, as sad as I feel admitting this, we've been really struggling, as Jake has been unemployed.  It has been quite a struggle.  We've been pretty stressed about finances and everything related to it.  We've dabbled between who should get the full time job.  Currently, we're trying to find Jake one.  When we only have one vehicle, it makes it a challenge.   And if we both work and were to work same shifts then we'd have to put the boys in daycare, which we just don't want.  We're praying about it, and hope others can do the same.

In the meantime, we're doing what we can to get by. We've disconnected our internet, since it barely worked anyway being a cheap wireless type thing.  We no longer have our smartphones and are doing a month-to-month pre-paid service on cheap flip phones.   We don't go out, we can't really.  We've been very blessed to have family and friends helping to look out for us, as embarrassed as I feel admitting that.  Our church, too.  I go through days where I am very upset and pessimistic about it all, an other days where I feel very hopeful.  Jake has had a few interviews, and the most recent ones went very well, he believes, so we're waiting to hear.  I know things will change, and I know we will be okay.  But, it's not easy to feel that way always.

I made the 'gutsy' move to tell a few friends about the situation in October.  I didn't want to, but I was tired of being silently stressed and not knowing where to turn to cry and express my fears.  I felt better knowing there were others out there praying and thinking of us and keeping my head above water emotionally.

Well, I didn't know that one of these friends was a blabbermouth.  Haha.  I mean this in a good way.   One of these friends, Ang, let my "secret" out to Q, the aforementioned message board (that I didn't own and run).  I really had no idea, until today.  

Today, this big, heavy box appeared on my doorstep.  "For the love of Q!"

Right away, I was... well, I was nervous to open it, honestly, because Ang wanted Jake to take a video... and I was afraid I wouldn't have a "proper" reaction to whatever was inside.

If the reaction she was looking for was to cry, well, then I had the proper one. Haha.

Inside was various items, mostly clothes for Spencer.  Warm clothes that are the right size for him this winter.  TONS of them.  There were pacifiers for Collin, and a chew toy for him too.  Haha, that makes him sound like a puppy.  There were a few gift cards.  One, I will donate for gas for Jake to go to job interviews.   One was for Starbucks, which gave me a "reason" to get out of the house, which I truthfully, really needed after a few emotional breakdowns this week, where I am now, blogging, using my cousin's laptop and the free wi-fi.  There were a few nail polishes for me, which made me very excited, because lately, I've been really into painting them.  It keeps me not only from chewing them due to stress and nerves, but also keeps them from breaking and hides my ugly nail that I crushed in a garage door this summer.  There was a candy bar and some gum.  There were a few notes.

The part that started my tears, of course, was the letter Ang included.  In summary, she wrote that there is a belief out there that way you do, or contribute in life, multiplies three-fold and comes back to you.   So, if you're nasty, three times worse might head your way.   In her opinion, and apparently that of a few of my other friends from afar, is that I've been "good."  I've been caring, despite circumstances right now, and I guess I have been that way for a while.  I guess, they think I have a big heart.

It's funny to me to think that I had organized care packages for others during hard times in their lives, all in the same fashion, via our message board communities.  Truthfully, I don't remember how many I orchestrated or helped orchestrate.  Two at least, maybe more.  It just... didn't stick with me, I guess.   I just did it and lived on without thinking twice.  I never in a million years expected something to come my way like this.  Not once.  I don't feel like I deserve it.   Of course, I am grateful beyond adequate verbal expression, thinking about how much my son benefits from their generosity and hearts of gold, as he grows out of the clothes we have for him.

I think what shocked me most about receiving it, though, is the fact that I haven't really been an active part of that message board in over two years.  I am  not a daily part of their lives anymore, and somehow, they still care.  I guess that shows something negative about me, really, because I know that even though I don't interact often, I still think of them often and wish them all well.  I guess, I really shouldn't have expected anything less from them.  I apologize that I somehow did.  I am truly, truly sorry if I doubt anyone.  Truly.

It's true, sometimes, I feel like I'm a good friend.  More often than not, I am more critical of myself, though.  I feel like I can't give enough or do enough for others, especially now.  I guess, really, it doesn't always matter if I can give monetarily or concrete items.   I know I pray, and I send regards, love, warm thoughts, when I can, regardless.  It took their box of love to remind me that those things count too.

My mind is scattered all over again, so I think I'll (finally, I suppose) stop this post.

Thank you, to anyone and everyone for any small or large thing you've done for me and my family, recently, or in the past.  I can assure you, it does not go unnoticed, and I hope that, as the belief I mentioned earlier goes, it comes back to you, threefold, or more.