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Several years ago when I first started out at my work as a substitute, I was called to work at numerous places.  Most I thoroughly enjoyed and a couple I didn’t really like much, but only one I refused to return to after the initial assignment.  It didn’t have so much to do with the work involved as it did with a particular person who, maybe unknowingly but maybe not, tripped my PTSD trigger.  And she did it not just once but twice.  This person seemed to enjoy letting me know that I wasn’t up to her standards, and when she came up behind me and whispered in my ear “You’re nooot wooorrrkkkinng faassst ennnnooougghh” (I can still hear her), the hairs on the back of my neck raised up and with it, that old fight or flight feeling.

 There was also a piece of equipment that kept shifting out of place while I worked and she would slam it back into place with a smirk.  Finally, another kind employee actually took the piece completely out so I could work without dislodging it.  I told myself I would never go back there again and I never told my supervisor why I wouldn’t go back even when she asked. 

Eight years later, I was sent back to that location under a new training program and she was still there. I don’t think she remembered me but I remembered her and stayed as far away as possible until lunch time when it was unavoidable.  She noticed the sticker I had on my water bottle which was from my church and proceeded, unprovoked, to criticize the church I attend.  On and on she went.  I just said no one church is for everybody, which is true, and continued to eat my lunch.

So many lessons!

Image result for acronym PTSD

First of all, always be kind.

We never know what another person has been through in their life, what triggers they may have, and how certain words and behaviors might negatively affect them.  Sometimes it’s not so much the actual words but the tone of voice and delivery.  If we are not sure, it’s best to remain silent or let the person in charge handle it. 

Second, be honest.

I regret not having told my supervisor the reason I didn’t want to work at that place.  Perhaps this person could have been retrained to be more sensitive to others.  There have been others who have shared about this problem and while I know it’s frustrating when staff is short and we have to teach each new helper over and over again, that doesn’t justify a communication style that is curt or could even be interpreted as menacing. 

Third, don’t forget to look at your own behavior.

A few years ago, I found myself in almost the same situation but the tables were turned.  I was the permanent employee, my manager was absent for several days, and my coworker was a sweet man in his mid 70’s who was meticulous but very slow.  I loved him, but the pressure made me less than professional and I was remorseful later.  The next day I apologized to him and asked for forgiveness and he smiled and said “Of course.  We all have bad days”.  The next year, Bill died of cancer and I wrote a tribute to him which detailed how we worked well together despite having some difficult moments. I try to remember his example as I continue to work as if God is watching, because He is. 

Finally, realize that we all have bad days but most can be corrected.

The important thing is to be responsible and accountable. Pick yourself up and make things right again. And if you are the victim of someone else’s bad day? If you feel safe, speak to them about it. If you have to, go to a person in charge. If there is another open door, walk through it. Just do your part and let God do the rest. He has your back.

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We are all in this together.

T.

Proverbs 3:24 says:  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Can we talk? I mean, this is a serious issue!  People have gone insane with sleep deprivation!  It not only affects a person psychologically but sleep deprivation also affects cognition, physical health, and relationships.

Sleep issues are a staple in this household for different reasons and ALL have been checked out by doctors to make sure there are not any life threatening issues. I’m just going to say it….my man doesn’t snore much but I do! I have been tested for Sleep Apnea and do not have it. I do feel that because of my snoring I wake up more often during the night though. I have no problems going to sleep at all as evidenced by this photo my son secretly took of me when he came up to say good night…on my birthday, no less!  Can you guess what I got?

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Most of the time when I wake up I can go right back to sleep but occasionally my mind is racing with thoughts and that is when I can, if I’m wise, use the time to pray. I get up very early so sometimes I can’t go back to sleep because it’s almost time to get up!

As I’ve grown older I find I can function on a lot less sleep than when I was younger, or maybe I’ve just adapted, I don’t know.  I do know when I had kids my inner clock reset and stayed, and now I can’t sleep in much past 7 AM even if I want to!  Somehow, sleeping in late makes me feel like I’ve lost half my day; the most important part.  I savor that delicious time in the quiet early morning hours before anyone else is up, to take my time and spend time with the Lord.  It is my favorite part of the day.

BUT I will say that without a certain minimal amount of sleep, I can’t even stay focused enough to pray so it turns into one of those “Be Still” mornings, which are very good to have especially in those circumstances.  When I’ve not slept enough and I have to go to work and actually think and interact with people, I say small, simple one sentence prayers throughout the day to get me through.  The Lord truly does hold us up when we are weakened by insomnia.

My husband also suffers from lack of sleep for different reasons and because of this and the fact that I snore (more than he does but he’s not getting totally off the hook), we have made an adjustment in our sleeping arrangement which made all the difference.  It’s not an arrangement that appeals to everyone and even seems a bit taboo, but it’s an arrangement that was probably instrumental in saving our sanity.  If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s sleeping in different rooms.  I said it.  And I bet there are a lot more couples out there who do it than talk about it.

We no longer have to worry about our snoring disturbing each other.  I sleep better in a cold room with a fan in the window year round, and he likes his room normal temperature.  We can get up without worrying we’re going to jiggle the bed too much and wake the other up.  I don’t get mad any more because he is constantly poking and shaking me to make me quit snoring.  I can sleep without covers if I need to.  He can pile them on.  Neither of us has to stay scrunched in our own little mattress trench for fear of waking the other. And I won’t even go into the dreams and talking in our sleep!

There is no shame in needing sleep and only being able to achieve it by yourself in your own room. The Bible speaks of the “marriage bed” and how it should be undefiled and revered.  Having TWO marriage beds in the same house by MUTUAL agreement is not a bad thing. It’s a totally win/win situation for those who can’t sleep together and want to stay sane and happy TOGETHER!  Sweet sleep!

 

Have you gardening enthusiasts ever had a plant that you gave up on because it wasn’t thriving and didn’t look like it had much of a chance?

My planting was a cauliflower.  It was back in 1991.  We lived in a house in Southeast Denver, an older neighborhood of 1950’s cookie-cutter houses that had nice big yards for playing kids, barbeques, and gardens.  In the back, we had a huge vegetable garden, herb garden, strawberry bed, dwarf cherry tree, and raspberry bushes.  In the side yard, I had a cutting garden where I had planted several varieties of annual and perennial flowers for the birds, butterflies, and me!  I totally loved digging in the dirt and seeing what I could grow in this Colorado climate that is so different from Iowa where I grew up.

This particular year I had decided to try growing celery and cauliflower.   The celery took too much room in the garden as each plant needed a “mound” in which to be planted upright so the stalks could develop safe from the sun and elements.  So I needed to find a place for the cauliflower, which also required ample space.  This location was found in the cutting garden behind the lilac bush.  I made sure the lighting fit the requirements and gave them plenty of food and water.  I babied those plants until mid-summer when I realized I had miscalculated my time for planting because they were not holding up under the summer heat.  They were cool weather plants….duh.  I let them go; no more water or food.  I concentrated on nurturing the celery.

Skip ahead two months to September.  It had been a little cool but nothing too uncomfortable.  Most of the garden was spent, having been harvested already.  One particular day, it was rainy, and I was depressed.  I had been sober almost a year and that being said, recovery is not the easiest task to do.  Seeing one’s self and life with a clear head and honest evaluation could depress anyone!

My cutting garden was visible from the kitchen window and I stood there for quite a while crying, just watching the rain fall and the birds eating at the bird feeder. After a while, the rain turned to snow, and not a light one either.  It was coming down heavily and was quickly  covering everything in a white blanket.  As I stood there watching, I told God, “I really want to die but I’m too scared,  it’s up to you….would you please just send down a big bolt of lightning and take me out?”. (Yes, my dramatic flair is at it’s best when I’m sad.  What can I say?!!)

I looked out the window at the birds flying back and forth to and from the feeder… up to the bush… down to the ground…..hopping around in the snow………wait a minute…….what……no…..I tore out the front door and around the house to the cutting garden, and behind the lilac bush, covered in snow with just a small patch visible, was the biggest, most beautiful, white cauliflower I had ever seen!  How could it be?  I had completely forgotten it was even there and hadn’t given it any attention for weeks.  I saw its huge leaves growing but how could I pass by it several times a week without noticing its white growth? It was a miracle!

I was amazed at its beauty.  It was huge…about the size of a honeydew melon, and pure white, no blemishes.  The only reason I saw it when I did, camouflaged with snow, was because I was at that window, focused and praying to God , and He gave me His answer.  I recognized that, and because of it my mood was lifted immediately.

What a gift!  I thanked God for answering me in a way I could understand and for giving me the most tasty, succulent, cauliflower I had ever tasted, for dinner that evening.  I had a totally new perspective and appreciation for the creativity of the Lord’s answers to prayer, and even for what might be considered to be His outrageous sense of humor.

My Lord rocks!

Psalm 66

18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

(My written experiences are for me, my kids, and family.  If anyone else happens to enjoy them, I’m honored.  If not, it’s ok!)

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