when life laughs at you…persevere

I think it’s important not to take yourself too seriously.  In light of my last post, a follow-up is necessary.  For the past few months I have been the front-of-house manager for one of most popular restaurants in our area.  I mentioned in the last post how much I love the problem solving, right?  Yes.  Did I also say how much chaos is my thing?  Yeah.  I did.  Oh. My.  I love when I eat my own words.  It’s tastes great!

Here’s the deal.  I like to take crazy and make it make sense.  I’ve been pretty good at my job thus far.  Busy days are my favorite.  I like the feeling of stepping in when everything hits the fan, fixing it, and no guest in our restaurant even notices.  I usually laugh hysterically when several people come to me at once with what they feel are end-of-world problems.  I don’t laugh at them.  I laugh at how nuts things can get.  I usually take a deep breath, roll up my sleeves, and start putting out fires.  One by one in order of priority, I fix things.  Yesterday, things got a bit too much.  Even this chaos-seeker couldn’t get the fires under control.

It all started at noon.  I got a call from the busser.  Car problems.  He’ll be an hour or so late tonight.  No problem here.  Due to budget cuts, I was scheduled as the hostess.  No big deal.  I can buss and host.  Solved.  When I got to work, more little fires. BAM!  Taken care of in the first hour.  I was thinking it was a crazy start to a Monday, but things were quiet.  Business was slow.  A sick server’s shift got covered, another needed the next day off.  No problem.  Move this one here, and that one there.  Done.  Sometimes things get hairy.  That’s the way it is in the restaurant biz.  Just Saturday I was talking with a cooks’ father who was in town from Florida.  He’s had a successful restaurant in Syracuse for thirty years.  We chatted about how it is hard at times.  It’s just the way it is.

Everything at work stayed quiet the rest of the day.  Too quiet, in fact.  By four PM I was so bored I actually said out loud that I wished to bar would explode so I’d have something to do.  To give you some background on that statement, let me tell you that my first day managing we had a loud gun-shot sound in the middle of the dinner rush.  Turns out the bartender caught the edge of the bar glass with a wine bottle.  A six foot section of the bar burst into a ba-gillion tiny pieces.  Right under a hotel insurance adjusters’ dinner.  Yeah.  It’s gets crazy.  It always happens right when the restaurant is full too.

So, I’m so bored yesterday that I asked for an explosive mess.

I got it.

The busser let me know that he’ll be even later.  The restaurant was starting to fill and my servers were getting a bit frazzled.  I let him know to just get in when he can.  They would love his help cleaning up later.  I proceeded to the bar to make some drinks, wondering where the bar tender was.  At this point I was wondering if he was coming at all.  As I made a few drinks, the look on the servers faces was getting panicked.  The restaurant was filling very quickly.  I was tending to the bar folk to relieve their stress.  I was getting that feeling that things were slipping from me.  I couldn’t leave where I was…too much to do.

Muddling drinks in the midst of a “situation” feels like waiting for water to boil.  The time seems to never end.  I knew I needed to walk the floor and check on my servers, but the drink orders kept coming!  I got up and couldn’t get out from behind the bar.  I spied the pizza server and knew she could make drinks.  I called her over and let her loose.  I served pizzas for her and ran through the kitchen to check the schedule.

Just as I suspected.  Bar tender was an hour late, and now fired!  Okay, no bar tender tonight.  Things are getting nuts!

Throw in the fact that the service is getting slower, we’re on a wait list, and another local restaurant owner was very unhappy with his experience…that all adds up to this manager feeling like a failure.

Who’s that I spy?  An off-duty bartender walking in the lobby?  Get in! Punch in, and send the pizza girl back to her side.

Here come more and more people.  Food is in the window and needs running.  Here I go.  The bartender is doing his best.  I check on cups and run more to him.  Who’s that I see?  That’s right.  The thirty year restaurateur.  He asks how I am.  Uhhhhh.  Things are a little messy tonight.

“I know.  I could tell when I walked in.”

Defeat is an ugly mental state.  It was on every face of my people that night.  Times like that you just have to push through.  I was holding on to the idea that the busser would show up at any minute to smooth things out a bit.

Then I saw a text.

He’s not coming.  Just couldn’t get here in time with all the set-backs.

More defeat on the faces of my servers.  That meant that after all the rude people, failed team member, stress of knowing you didn’t give your guest what you wanted to give, you’ll now be taking on all the closing cleaning of the busser.

I  stayed to close because I knew my servers need a lift after all that beat-down the night gave them.  I figured that if we pumped up some old-school hip-hop after closing we could get the pep in our step back.

The service settled.  The guests went as fast as they came.  When the last one left, I went straight to the music.

It wouldn’t work.

And that was the night.

At every expectation of relief or hope of it getting easier, it failed.

Isn’t life like that?  There are certain seasons, days, years, that feel so defeating.  I was downcast in my heart while still trying to  encouraging to my staff.  I determined to just push through the crappy night.  There’s a word that I learned early in my Christian walk.

Persevere.

That word has a way of lifting me and propelling me.  Sometimes by one more day.  Sometimes by one more hour.  Just a bit longer.  I have a verse on my wall that I look at and consider almost daily.

In short…persevere.

choosing to trust

Yesterday was a rough one.  The three younger children have the chore of putting away the dishes.  They were fighting and arguing constantly.  Each attempt to redirect and reason was met with more arguing and more fighting.  By 9:15 AM I was ready to hid in my room and read with a locked door.  Do you ever have a morning that seems to let you know the rest of your day will be and uphill battle?  I called it yesterday.

I didn’t call it out loud.  I pleaded with God that it wouldn’t be.  I prayed we could turn it around.

That didn’t happen.

It’s hard for me to see the good in times like that.  Suddenly, I’m worn out.  I become very unproductive.  Nick and I had a dinner date that night.  Right up until we left the fighting continued.  I was to meet him after I dropped off the kids.  I was running late because of all the talks and attitudes that resulted.

I felt bad that I was even leaving them with their grandparents.  Naturally, they were no trouble for them at all.  I was relieved, but sheesh!  I would have liked to enjoy a bit of that.

By the middle of dinner I was ready to give up the farm and move to the city.  Won’t it be easier if there’s less work? Wouldn’t it be nicer to be closer to supportive friends.  To say it lightly, yesterday was a bum day.  I real bummer.

This morning; however, I woke at 5:15 (usually I get up at 6:30), and things seemed up.  I read my Bible, had a cup of coffee, and milked the goats before Nick rose.  The kids are still sleeping.  I’ve even thrown in a load of laundry.  Here I sit typing away as if yesterday’s woes never were.

Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are such emotional being.  One day, we’re giving up the dream, and the next we’re enjoying every moment.

I was a bit busted this morning as I did my Bible study in 1 Samuel 8.  How many times am I just like the Israelites.  I praise God and worship him.  I want to follow His will.  The next moment I’m complaining about what he’s given me and rebel against Him.  I don’t want his little “gift” anymore.

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Psalms 40:4

Today, no matter what those hooligan kids of mine throw at me, I want to choose to trust God.  Since they’re not up yet, I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.  I’m ready though.  I trust Him logically, but not always emotionally.

Friends, are you feeling like you relate?  Is there something or someone(s) you’re letting rule your emotions?  I want you to know you’re not alone.  He is with you.  I don’t want to believe the lies that I can’t do it (life).  I can if I tap into God’s strength.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33

I pray I’ll be content with whatever great things or whatever struggle comes at me.  I will follow Him.  How about you?  What encourages you when the weight of life is on you?  Do you know He loves you?  He does.  We mamas have so much pull in every direction.  It can be overwhelming!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

when silence is broken

Oh.  My.  To say it’s been a while is an understatement.  The computer is finally fixed!  Now let’s move on.

There is no way I’ll be able to catch you up in a single post.  I will trickle in the info over the next few weeks.  I have thought long and hard about how to approach the following life update.  I’m not sure I’ll even come close to relaying all there is to say.  I will try to do my best to put into words one of the most life-changing things that’s ever happened to me.

I have lost people in my life.  I have lost family and friends.  I have lost them in different ways.  Suddenly, knowingly, harshly, gently.  Until June 30, 2013 I never lost anyone that has effected me so deeply.  I’m speaking of the 19 lives that were lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire.  My cousin was one of them.  Because this event is so well-known, and I do not wish to be the cause of any media hounding any of my family members, I will not say his name.

I will not compromise on this.  If you know me personally, you know.  If you don’t, please don’t pry.

When you hear news like this, it’s never easy.  I think back on that night on the phone with my mom, and I can tell you truthfully, the desperation in the despair is like nothing I’ve experienced.  I never cried so loud, hard, completely in my life.

Looking back I can say that as the weeks following that night crept forward like the longest and fastest days I’ve had, something inside me was changing.  Family I hadn’t seen in years were surrounding each other.  Tension, tears, even laughs exchanged.  We were all like sleep-deprived shells walking about trying to function and comfort each other.  We tried to distract ourselves from the pain, and give-in to it completely.  It’s a process for sure.

Have you ever experienced this sort of grief?  It is so strange.  I expected his wife to be an inconsolable wreck.  I’m sure she (more than any of us) had these moments, but there is a strength that people rouse in grief, right in the middle of completely falling apart.  I never imagined until I saw it, that grief was so vast and complex.  One moment we could all be laughing together, speaking of times past or something totally unrelated, the next someone would just go ghost-like and weep.  With understanding grins we would hug, knowing the pain they felt, but not always joining in the despair.  Next thing you know it’s you.

You try to rationalize it.  You become very logical when you attempt to conjure up the best possible reason that death so tragic happens.  You land on a certain fact, and when you’re nearly convinced, you realize its horrid and nothing you think can make it make sense.

There are no days of the week.  If you thought you knew, it passed yesterday, or isn’t until tomorrow.  Sleep is an abstract thought.  You never feel like eating, and then realize you are starving.

There’s one thing that always stayed steady inside me through ups and downs of the first few weeks.  God’s presence.  I just felt him there.  I saw his mercies through the acts of people in the community.  I heard his calm reassurance in those moments when falling asleep tortured my with memories and thoughts of how each family member would deal with a future without  their husband, father, brother, nephew, grandson, cousin, friend.  God was there.

I knew he always has been, but I felt Him.  He was the only thing that gave me comfort.  Everything else was chaos and heartbreak.  What I felt was hope.  There is always hope when you’re with Jesus.

This is my new life-focus.  share the hope with each member of my family.  In some way or another, I have to.

“You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow”

“Life is so short”

“I never thought anything like this would happen to me”

“Tell the people you love how much they mean to you”

These mean something deeply personal to me now.  Things I’ve heard said, known were true, but never acted on them until now.

I am changing so much through this.  I regret deeply YEARS that I missed in my cousin’s life.  I assumed there would be a next time.  There wasn’t.  I hate that.  I have come to grips with it, but it stops now.  I am trying to live more intentionally.  If I mean to say, do, call, see, I am so going to do all I can to make it happen.

With the shifting of the wind nineteen families changed forever.  Entire families.  Hundreds or people will never be the same again.  That breaks my heart.  Truly broken.  My prayer is that each of them find the hope that is in Jesus alone.  I pray their death has meaning.  A purpose in the pain.  Eternal life in Christ is what I pray for.  Anything less is a waste.  These are strong words, but I believe them with every fiber of my being.

A heavy post for such a long absence.  There was no way around it.  We have a “normal” life again.  We have a daily schedule, chores, work, school, fun family times, animals to tend, and ministry to run, and yes knitting.  The grief remains in all these things.  it has changed how I view them.  As anyone that lives with grief, it doesn’t always consume you.  It appears in unexpected, often inconvenient places.  You truly do live with it.  It’s there even if you don’t always feel it intensely.  It changes often.

In my living I choose to live for Christ.   

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10