Author: Karen Steele
•23:44
It takes time to adjust
from getting your assurance of worth from an outside source
to getting it from within yourself.

I'm not fully adjusted.  I probably never will be.
I know that I am taking steps, however small,
to learn to accept who I am.

In the meantime .. . .
I work on the house and the yard when I can, as I have time
I enjoy every minute with the kids with which I am blessed (the kids and the minutes)
I start my morning with coffee and prayer, unless I'm working that day . . . then I pray on the drive to work

Many years ago, my faith was one of the most important things in my life.
And while it has remained important, I had let it take a back seat and sometimes the third row seat
to other things that were going on.  I had posted awhile back that I wanted to be a "yes girl" and that got me thinking about where exactly I stood with God and if He would even consider asking me anything to which I could answer yes or whether I was too busy and He didn't want to intrude.

The result of my introspection was not stellar by any means.
Humbling.
Embarrassing.

I've been a fence-sitter for many years when it came to joining a church, not really pleased or completely sold on one denomination over another.  I realized that for over 20 years, I've attended services where I felt inspired or touched or comfortable regardless of the location or congregation.  Churches where I've been accepted as a stranger, obviously not one of their own, but welcomed and embraced and encouraged.  I have made the decision to join the Catholic church with the blessings and understanding of my family members.  From St. Francis Xavier to St. Regis to Immaculate Conception to Our Lady of Lourdes - Columbia to Our Lady of Lourdes - Pittsburg -- attending Mass at any of these has always felt like coming home to a peaceful place.

And it seems that once that decision was made, things have just fallen into place in the rest of my life.



Author: Karen Steele
•08:25
to end a relationship.

For anyone who feels their relationship is ending, has ended or is heading in that direction and the thought of divorce or separation enters their mind, I will offer these words of advice . . . always:

Make a list of what you're feeling.  Sometimes getting it out on paper helps instead of stewing about it.

Talk to your pastor.

Go to counseling - alone and together with your partner.

Schedule date nights and time alone, especially if you have kids together.

Make EVERY attempt to make the relationship work, and if it still doesn't  - at least you know you tried.

Spend time alone after the separation getting to know yourself.

Be sure of what you want before starting a new relationship.

Be completely honest - with yourself, your former partner and any new romantic interests.

Having made these suggestions,
Having been assured repeatedly that I am awesome and amazing and wonderful and loving and kind,
Having been told that someone has never felt more loved and wanted and appreciated,
Having someone's friends state they've never seen him more relaxed or happier since being with me,

It comes as quite a shock then
when that someone suddenly decides after a year
that he doesn't love me
and that he needs to work out things with the ex-
and summarily disappear from not only my life but my kids as well
with no regard for how it will affect them.

An entire year
wiped out

Makes you question whether anything you were told was the truth
or whether, once again, you are un-loveable or un-wantable
just when you were starting to believe otherwise.
Author: Karen Steele
•15:37
Guilt - feeling bad about something you've done

Shame - feeling that you are a bad person for having done something

A friend posted a TED video on Facebook a while back addressing the issues of guilt and shame.
And I've come to realize something that was not addressed (or at least I don't recall it being addressed) in the 20-minute video snippet.

I've probably observed this a number of times.
I'm sure I've done this myself.

It wasn't until today that it really stuck in my minds eye what I was seeing.

Have you ever watched a child who does or says something mean and hurtful and gets in trouble.  They will have two reactions.  Either they will feel guilty and remorseful and become teary, OR they will become ashamed and lash out in anger.  No one wants to feel like they are a bad person.  It's not enjoyable.  It's not fun.  Some people internalize it, others let it fly out.

Adults do this as well.  You do something you know you shouldn't have done.  It may have hurt someone or damaged a relationship.  The injured party reacts with anger, pain, disbelief, and shock.  You feel horrible about what you've done.  And then, perhaps you start to feel ashamed for being the type of person who could have done something to hurt a friend or loved one.

It is the actions that have caused the pain.
Your actions DO NOT negate your worth or goodness as a person. (Unless you repeatedly do these actions with reckless disregard or lack of care that it is hurtful.)

If the olive branch of reconciliation has been offered, take the steps to grab it and don't let go.  If someone can move past the pain you have caused them and wants to retain the friendship or relationship, they are worth holding onto with all your might.  It is popular opinion to hurt those who have hurt us, or let them drift out of our lives.  It takes empathy, grace, compassion and love on the part of the wronged person to move past the pain that has been experienced and make a conscious decision to move towards reconciliation.

However, there are some people who take the shame they are feeling and become angry.  And unfortunately, sometimes this anger is directed at the person whom they have hurt.  And that hurts even more.

KRS

Author: Karen Steele
•01:16
Sunday was a bad day.  Actually, it started on Saturday. 

Actually, to tell the truth it started about 3 weeks ago, but that's beside the point.

Saturday was a very busy day, harried even, hopping . . .
and I was without my watch.
Then there was the promised watch which never materialized.
But that's beside the point.

My head started hurting.  I believe it was  a combination of things; stress, physical exhaustion, lack of sleep, angst, fear, anxiety and maybe even a bit of the blip in the head was involved.

Sunday, I woke up (thankfully!) but I was in EXTREME pain.  Narcotics didn't help.  Anti-nausea meds didn't help.  Anti-inflammatories - nada.  Anti-emetics - ha!  Heat - no relief.  Blocking the light - that DID help. . . a little. (Thank you Ryan!)

This is Ryan.  He can reach the top of the window.

For one of the few times in my life --
I called in sick to work.

There were tears.  Crying never helps a headache, but in this case, I couldn't imagine it would make it any worse either.

I even remarked that I get tired of being the "poster child" for people with cancer when asked to speak with patients who are going thru difficult diagnoses, or facing cancer, or undergoing chemo.  Usually I don't mind talking with patients.  Cancer is a difficult diagnosis to say the least.  It carries all kinds of emotions and fears with it.  And in many cases it ends with a not-so-happy prognosis.

Facing one's mortality is never easy, and for those who don't have a strong faith in an eternity with Jesus or who have absolutely no faith in an eternal life, it can be downright frightful.  The idea of going from what is known to maybe absolute nothingness?  Scary stuff to ponder.  I HAVE a strong faith and a stronger God and a blatant disregard for modern medicine's statistics.

However, even "I" am allowed to have a pity party every once in awhile.  Ryan told me I could refuse, that I don't have to discuss my diagnosis with anyone I don't  want to -- and he's right.  I don't have to.

  
 
You gotta admit -- Mary was the ULTIMATE "yes" girl -- how many other chicas do you know that would agree to have a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit while engaged to another man?  Can you imagine the shame she must have endured? The rumors? The stares? The finger-pointing and the ostracism?  Have you ever really thought of that, or do you just picture the beatific paintings of Mary with the glowing aura? (Don't even get me started on that whole aura thing either.)
 
Back in 1992, being the "yes" kind of girl that I am, I promised God that he could use me wherever and in whatever capacity he would lead me.  And so, being a woman of my word, . . . I will continue to share whatever parts of my life or my skills or my time or my compassion or my empathy or my love, wherever it needs to be shared.
 
I told Ryan last night that if sharing any part of any thing that has ever happened in my life does just one person any good; if it leads one person closer to faith in God; if it brings a ray of light or a moment of goodness to them, then it will have been worth it.  The attention is not for me, but for me to shine a light on God's goodness to me and how even in the middle of bad circumstances good things can still happen.
 
Today, the kids and I had a conversation about praying and being faithful in expecting an answer to prayer because God can do anything.  Savannah asked if God can heal people and I said that he could, because He can do anything.  And I knew where she was going with this.  Can God heal me? Absolutely!  Will he?  I would be ecstatic if He did.  But that isn't up to me -- not determined by how nice or good or thoughtful or gracious or awesome I am.  There is nothing I can do to EARN being healed.  And if I'm not healed here on earth?  It doesn't mean I wasn't loved by God, it means that my healing comes in eternity.  It doesn't mean that God wants my kids to lose their mother, it means that the plans HE has for them just might not include me, but until that time they are . . . ahem . . .
stuck with me!!!

All I can say is that if it weren't for my faith, my family, Ryan and my friends and co-workers
There would be a LOT MORE pity parties.

KRS

**Disclaimer -- although I used the word awesome to describe me, this is NOT how I see myself.  I threw that in there because Ryan is always telling me I'm awesome --that one's a blatant wink at him.
Author: Karen Steele
•16:17



Hollow.
Empty.
Spent.

Those are the feelings that come with a sense of betrayal when you find out that your world is not as you thought.

Trust.
Faith.
Hope.

Those are the emotions and beliefs that are stolen when someone lies to you about their activities or the weight and connotations that their actions carry.

Ugly.
Unloveable.
Unwanted.

These are the words that describe how you feel when a relationship takes a wrong turn, even when it's not for any reason.

Pain.
Anger.
Numbness.

This is what you are left with in varying degrees as reality sets in about the situation and you struggle with decisions.



Author: Karen Steele
•01:23
Ever feel like there's a huge gap between you and God?
Or a wide expanse -- like looking out over the ocean and not be able to see the other side?
Or even worse, a deep chasm that you cannot get across?

Many times when we go through a circumstance which includes major life changes . . .
such as a separation,
        or a divorce,
            or a change in careers,
                   or a change in location. . . . or all of the above . . .

There seems to develop a rift between ourselves and our relationship with God.



I have gone through all of the above situations, and there have been times when I have attempted to pray and closed my eyes only to see an endless ocean behind my eyelids.  And I do mean endless.  As far to each side and as far out as I could see in my mind's eye, just water and wide open space and myself as if I had been set adrift.  No sense of God's presence at all.  It's a very lonely feeling.  Sometimes it lasts for a long time.  Weeks.  Months, even.  You can read my previous posts from 2009 and hear the pain and indecision as I realized that my marriage was failure and that I would have to file for divorce.  It was not an easy decision, nor one that I took lightly.  It took years, and much prayer and discussion and exasperation and realization that things were not going to change.

However, an all-knowing God who knows what we are going through, and what our emotions are, and at what point we are in life has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  So when our choices lead to life-changing circumstances and we feel that distance, my question is this?

Who creates the distance?

If we feel guilt, shame or remorse because of our choices, do we allow those emotions to overshadow our relationship with not only God, but with others as well?  As we beat ourselves up with regret, and self-hate and loathing, do we not begin to believe that others view us with those thoughts as well?  And does that include God?  And as we begin to project those thoughts onto those around us, it can insinuate negativity into every aspect of our lives and begin to strangle our creativity and liveliness causing fear.  Fear of making more mistakes, fear of not doing it right, fear of not being good enough, fear of being disliked or hated.  And the distance grows wider.



Take Adam and Eve, for example.  When God created them and placed them in the Garden, they were naked and knew no shame.  They had a close relationship with God, speaking with him every evening in the Garden.  However . . . as soon as they ate the forbidden Fruit, they realized they were naked and became ashamed.  That night, as God came to them in the Garden . .  .THEY HID!!!  They attempted to create a distance between themselves and God, as if he didn't already know what had happened. 

Were there consequences of their actions?  Absolutely!  Did God push them away and refuse to speak with them? No.  Have you ever seen a picture of Christ in which he had his arms crossed across his body in a defensive stance?  Or standing with his hand out as if to say "Stop! Don't come any closer!"  I have yet to see one. 

If we are feeling a gap, or a distance or a chasm between ourselves and God when we try to pray or go to church, chances are the distance was created by us and can only be closed by us as we learn to forgive our imperfections, accept them and remember that God still loves us even when we find it hard to love ourselves.
Author: Karen Steele
•00:38
Who doesn't like Christmas?

It's not my favorite time of year, unless I'm on the isle of Aruba or in Belize, otherwise it's just too cold to be my favorite time of year.  If you don't know, my definitions are 70 and below is Freezing.  80's are good, 90's are better, 100's are perfect and 500+ is just fun. (or it used to be).

But I do like Christmas.  Not the shopping, and the commercialism and the pressured feeling that you must buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend.

I like the simple things.
  • Christmas trees in homes lit up at night and shining thru the windows
  • Nativity sets, both outdoors and indoors
  • Christmas lights -- the big obnoxious displays are fun, but just a simple string of lights around a window works for me
  • Christmas movies -- the classics like "White Christmas" and "Miracle on 34th Street"
  • Music, food, and laughter
  • the heater in my car that works quite nicely (Thank God!!!)
  • Advent readings and the lighting of the candles
  • Christmas carols
 


But most of all, what I like about Christmas is reading the Christmas story in my Bible and imagining how stressed and terrified and tired and exhausted Mary must have been, not to mention Joseph who was doing the unexpected but admirable thing of sticking with his girl who happened to be pregnant with a child that wasn't his. 

I wonder what went through their heads?  Thoughts like, "What am I DOING?"  "I am soooo ready to get my ass off this ass!" "Am I up for this?" "Are you talking to me?!?!?" (Especially when angels appear, knowing your name and give you the heads up)  Don't get me wrong, I like angels.  Our renditions of them are beautiful.  But if one appeared to me in a dream or otherwise, me thinks a shower and a change of underwear would be the first order of business.

Faith and willingness to go with God's program are the key elements here, I believe.  As a young virgin, it must have crossed Mary's mind at least once, "What are you saying . . . I'm going to have a what . . . by whom . . . are you trying to ruin my reputation? My life?"  And Joseph . . .was he agreeable at face value but wondering how he could ditch the situation down the road?  Having never been spoken to by an angel, do you just know immediately that all will be okay or do you have moments of doubt?

Thinks that make you go hmmmmm, right?

KSR

Photo by Randall Rausen -  Every Knee Shall Bow