Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!


How to Redirect Pent Up Anxiety and Overwhelm for Good – One Time Each Week

25 01 2017

I am NOT a certified professional of psychology, counseling, or therapy in any way.However, I AM a professional at allowing anxiety and overwhelm to take me over and eat me up inside. I am also a professional patient for those who are professional therapists and counselors. I just watched a video on Facebook of Cory Booker US senator sharing words to those who are anxious and overwhelmed by the actions of President Donald Trump and his administration. I really needed his words to calm anxiety that has set on my heart and mind. 

I observe anxiousness and overwhelmed emotions others are also experiencing through their social media posts as well as the face-to-face real-time conversations that happen with my family , with my friends , in the church I work at, and the classrooms of my seminary program. The basic question is: “Is there anything we can do? Is there really anything anyone can do?”. These questions come from people who oppose Trump because it creates legitimate worries and anxieties for the every day happenings in their life. These questions also come from people who are avid supporters of Trump in a manner that dismisses those who have concerns to tell them “The decision has been made, deal with it.” 
Here is the video I watched: 

First Days of a Trump Administration: We Must Resist

My takeaway response after watching this video is:

For all experiencing anxiety and overwhelm in our political climate hear words of encouragement, from U.S. Senator Cory Booker, that give you something to do with that anxiety. 

>> Do ONE THING A WEEK to support fighting for a cause or to show kindness and care towards others. 

>It doesn’t have to be money – but maybe that is what you are able to share right now – pick a different organization or cause each week. (Girl Scouts are selling cookies – support leadership of our future women! #hint #hint)

>It doesn’t have to be time -but maybe that is what you have (support causes and share kindness online or face to face, volunteer somewhere politically, in schools, in churches, in senior centers, after school programs, sports clubs or an organization promoting full bellies for all, etc, write emails/make calls to senators and representatives, etc, march to show your support and solidarity for a particular cause or people group, PRAY, etc)

> it doesn’t have to be talents – but maybe you have gifts, talents, and skills to share with others in your neighborhood or community, use them for good. If you need help brainstorming post here and I’ll help you out. 

>It doesn’t have to be stuff -but what if what you have that is just sitting around collecting dust can give life to another? (Buy Nothing and Giving communities online exist in a lot of places and you can start one up if your community doesn’t have such a thing. Support a school PTA or church rummage sale or “Fill a Truck” fundraiser – even if you aren’t a member or have any children in school. )

We have to refocus the energies of our anxieties and release the pressure of overwhelm in to loving and building up one another rather than tearing each other down. It can be your ONE thing a WEEK combined with the one thing a week of others that makes all the difference in healing divisions. 

Stomach Aches and School Worries

7 02 2011

Ellie woke up saying her stomach hurt and she didn’t want to go to school. She looked a little wiped out and didn’t have a temp. I asked if there is something happening at school that she is avoiding. No mommy, nope. I wasn’t so sure she was telling the truth, but she swore up and down she was sick. Every time I’ve sent her in not feeling well and not believing her, I’ve been called at work to pick up my puking burning up little girl and then feel horrible for sending her.  So I kept her home for a bit and still got ready to take Katie to PreK.

I noticed she was suddenly very chipper and playing with Katie. I decided to test a few things. I offered her a cup of orange juice, thinking if her stomach really is upset she’ll either say no thanks or she’d drink it and her stomach would hurt more. She drank it down without a single problem. I started packing her backpack up and got them to get their socks shoes and jackets on, while observing Ellie didn’t seem to have any stomach pangs during any of it. I was really torn about this… do I believe her and let her stay (on seriously one of my busiest days of the month) or do I risk not believing her and sending her to school? If I send her to school she’ll cry and protest, if I stay home and she’s not sick, she’ll try this again. So I prayed “God pleeeeeease give me some guidance on this”.

After a little bit I had an idea. I’ll take her to school, walk into the office with her, and ask to see the school nurse to see whether the nurse thought Ellie was too sick for school. I waited until I was ready to go. Said alright time to take Katie to school, handed Ellie her backpack and said ‘and you too’. She didn’t like this. I told her my plan. She said “but I’m worried I’ll get everybody sick”. I said the nurse can help us decide that. Then she started crying saying, but nobody will play with me or be my friend if I go to school. Aha! I knew it! (Didn’t say that outloud to her though). I let her tell me her worries, hugged her, came up with a few ideas of what to do and then we prayed about it – God help her to be a good friend and look for others who will be a good friend to her.

Then we were off and she told me right away she didn’t need me to go in with her, that she could handle going to the office to get a late note and walk into class on her own. Dropped her off and she was on her way. An hour and fifteen minutes late… but she is there and don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch my sick child so that I can lead my PEPS group this afternoon and prep for a work meeting tonight.

This instance brings back to my mind, how do Doug and I coach our daughters in friendships. It is really hard when you don’t know what is really happening. The questions that fill my mind with curiousity — is my child being bullied at school? Is she being a bully? Is it as big of a deal as she makes it out to be? I don’t want to dismiss it, but I don’t want to make it a bigger problem than it is.

Last night I picked up a book I forgot I had… tucked under a few others. “Little Girls Can Be Mean”. I read the first few pages after last night’s/this morning’s post. The book mentioned that a symptom of bullying or simply not being comfortable with confronting others at school is a stomach ache. I believe God gave me those words last night to help me work with Ellie this morning.

Now if I could only find my wallet…. my day would be a lot better!

Prayer of a Stressed out mom,wife,friend, and more

21 07 2009

It is almost 2am and there is so much on my mind that I can’t sleep. There is so much scheduled for me and my family in the next two to three weeks that I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get through it without a few good cry sessions. I’m praying lots tonight and this blogging is a prayer in and of itself begging God to:

… take the burdens of my crazy schedule and turn it into purposeful schedule to do His will
… to take all the people who are needing me to be a part of their lives and let me have purposeful meaningful moments with them however long or short those moments end up
… to help me give up all the responsibilities I have as mom, wife, director of faith formation, supervisor, coordinator of multiple volunteers that I still need to get lined up for VBS in a few weeks, sister,daughter, and granddaughter (in law), best friend and supportive friend.
… help me because I’m scared of failing. Help me kick my perfectionist tendancies and know it is OK to be selfish (what probably isn’t selfishness but feels like it to me) and ask for help. I’m taking that first step now and asking God for HELP.
This week:
— I am coming off of a week and a half of being at a Presbyterian Women’s conference in Kentucky then spending three days in Eastern WA with the Prindle side of the family and trying to get back into the swing of things, never easy to do
— Doug’s grandmother (Wimpress side) is fighting cancer, getting weaker by the day and has been given days to weeks to live.
— Doug’s brother just flew into town from New York to see Grandma and will be staying with us tonight (Tues)
— Tonight (tues) all the Wimpress cousins of our generation and younger are having and impromptu get together since Aaron is in town.
— Tonight (tues) and Thursday nights Ellie is supposed to have swimming lessons at 5:35pm meaning I leave work a bit earlier than normal to take her. I’m stressed here because what was supposed to be Doug’s special time to take her to lessons so I could work a few more hours has turned into me taking her to lessons anyways, OK except twice out of four weeks so far.
— Wednesday my bestest friend Cari flies in to Seattle from Fargo, ND with her baby, our god daughter. I’m wanting to spend some quality time with her and hoping that I can despite the crazy everything else.
— Thursday afternoon/evening Doug picks up and spends time with Pastor Candidate #1 of 3 since he is on the Pastor Nominating Committee for our church.
— Friday morning we usually have playgroup, not sure what’s happening here
— Friday Day — Doug meets w/ PNC and the candidate for interviewing
— Friday afternoon — meet n’ greet with Pastor candidate #1 for our church, since I’m on staff I get a chance to visit with them.
— Friday night — Doug is throwing a Bachelor Party for our buddy Ian who is getting married on Aug 1.
— Friday night — I’m hosting a shindig for friends in the area to get together with Cari at our home (anyone who wants to come – because you know Cari — is welcome).
— Saturday day — Doug involved with Pastor candidate interviews
— Saturday day — I go crazy getting ready for Ellie’s birthday party on Sunday
— Saturday night — We’re supposed to be having a big extended family shindig on Saturday p.m. to celebrate their grandparents’ 60 yrs of marriage
— Sunday a.m. I am working for worship/education at church and bringing the girls along (Margaux I’ll have them there at 8:30 a.m.!) because Doug will be at another church to hear pastor candidate #1 preach.
— Sunday afternoon — crazily getting ready for Ellie’s 5th birthday party
— Sunday evening — Ellie’s 5th birthday party
— Monday get up around 4 a.m. to keep Katie awake for her 12noon EEG/Sleep/Awake/Seizure study test.
— Tuesday — Ellie’s actual birthday
— Thursday — Doug’s actual birthday
So things I’m worried about failing:
– People at church (and my summer associate) because we have VBS in a few weeks and I’ve been out on travel and dealing with sinus headaches & vertigo like nothing else lately. I really want things to go well.
– Accomodating family with the stress of Grandparents and not offending anyone if I seem distracted or not fully present.
– Accomodating Cari because I really do want to spend time with her.
– Sarah’s in town and I won’t get to see her I’m afraid.
– Ellie ~ I want to be a good mom to her and I want her to have a great 5th birthday and I’d rather not give her a nervous breakdown on the day of her party as a gift. I want it to be special not frustrating for her or a let down because so many other things are going on and I don’t want her to get the impression that her party is just one more thing that we ‘have’ to do.
So again, God… please hear my prayer… please help me… take the burdens I put on myself and help me to be purposeful in loving others and loving you. Help me get some sleep tonight too, please. I’ll try to stop and listen…

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