Life's Sweet Journey

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Granted for Granted

Last wednesday's post topic left my mind somewhat reeling. After I got done, the list of the things I take (or took) for granted just kept running through my head at warp speed and growing larger with every second. And then I thought, "taking something for granted is a funny term." Everything I take for granted is something that had been granted to me. It wasn't something I was born with, it wasn't something I really worked very hard to get for myself or something I work very hard to keep. Then when it really came down to it I thought, my entire life is something I was granted, every last bit of it. Everything is something that God bestowed upon me for whatever purpose He had in His intentions for making it a part of my life.

I thought, "God grants us things and in that granting we are already taking those grants for granted."

How is it that the word granted has such opposite meanings. A grant is a gift. In the granting of something from one person to another we are given something... usually something precious, at least something that was/ is precious to the person granting it. Yet to take something for granted, we almost devalue its worth (basically like giving it back all while keeping ownership of it).  We take that thing or that person (even ourself) and in our own minds almost make it less than it is. We give is less of its original value. And it is not as if that thing ever really lost its value, it is still just as worthy as it always was, we just have to except it for what it really is. We have to value it for the true gift that is being given to us in the granting. Taking something for granted is like opening a gift, looking at it and then turning our head to something else that better captures our attention. It's as if we are a child whose toy is not shiny enough; like taking an antique and trading it in for a cheap, mass-produced product that could be found on any shelf, in any store.

I no longer want to live that way. I no longer want to take the things so lovingly and painstakingly granted to me for granted. I no longer want to use the word granted in terms of the "taking something for it" but in the "these are the things I've been" type of way. I want to give only one meaning to the word granted in my vocabulary. I know that is is not going to be easy... since Wednesday I have already found myself taking small things for granted. I have found myself feeling let down for the way life has unfolded recently. Yet, I have also realized how many times I have been able to stop in the past few weeks in awe because of things in my life that I had so easily over looked before.

So today I will start this new terminology by sharing... 
Ten things that I have been granted through this experience 
1.) An awe for people & their love for my brother/ family (more on this in a post I have been working on)
2.) A better and deeper relationship with a girl who will ALWAYS be considered my sister
3.) My youngest brothers return from Afghanistan and the time I have gotten to spend  with him
4.) Seeing the innocence of a child shine through in some of the most adult situations
5.) Seeing the kindness of strangers
6.) An affirmation of the meaning of friendship (I would be so lost without it)
7.) Memories
8.) A deeper respect for my father and the man he is (actually for all the men in my life for that matter)
9.) A chance to take a better look at myself 
10.) A greater understanding for circumstances and struggles and learning about life

What about you? Anything you have been granted through the hardships in your life? 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taking You for Granted

Today's Whatever Wednesday topic is to name something or someone that we take for granted...

I have taken many things for granted. Things I know I should cherish far more than I do. This life God has given me? I often take it for granted. However, if this question had been posed to me just a few weeks before I would have been able to give you a solid, hands down, no questions asked answer. That answer would have been Babe. I take him for granted all the time. In the little moments and in the big ones. I look at the amazing gift God has given me in a husband and I know that I should count my lucky stars that he is mine; that he is the one who comes home to me at night. Yet, I often find myself making him far less of a priority than I should. I know it, but more unfortunately I feel that he knows it. I think in the solid awareness of our relationship, I tend to focus on a lot of the outside things and people around us. I am constantly doing, trying, and putting other things first simply because I rest in the assurance that he is always there. I have been trying to fix this. I have been working on making sure he knows just how treasured he is and how blessed I know that I am to have a husband like him.
It is more important to me now than ever. Because when you rest in the assurance that someone in your life will always be there, you are left blindsided when they are not. I rest in the assurance that Babe will always be there because I know that he will never leave me. At least, not for anything on this earth. However, there are things greater than what is here and sometimes we don't get to decide when people leave us. Right now I can say without a doubt that life in general is the biggest thing I have taken for granted.
My family had known that John Wayne's life ending the way it did was always a possibility. Yet, he was John Wayne. He was larger than life and for some reason he seemed to have many of them. I think we took for granted the fact that he was not invincible. He had always seemed to believe he was. He has always lived on the edge and made decisions as if actions had no consequences, which may have been due to the fact that for him, a lot of the time, they didn't. We didn't know, we weren't prepared for what would be the ultimate one.  How many times had he pushed himself to the edge just to stay on this side? He broke his back and made it through, he walked up to deaths door and knocked (probably more times than we all knew), he asked to be let in. Yet death turned him away because that had not been the plan. I don't know God's plan, I don't know the purpose or the whys.  What I do know is that I took the nows for granted. I took for granted the fact that he would always be around; that he would always be here to fight with, laugh with, cringe at, and to just be my brother. It is in realizing that, that I now realize how much I ultimately take life for granted. I just expect that people will be here. I expect for life to continue as it has (even when I sometimes wish it would change) because that is what it has always done. I realize now the need to cherish it; to cherish the good moments and the tough ones. I know the need to love. I vow to take each day and make sure that the people I so easily take for granted know how much they each mean. I vow to always be thankful for the people God has given me because each of them have shaped me into who I am now. I am grateful for that and I am grateful for the time I have had and for the time I still have to make sure I count my blessings.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Things That Get Me Through

I thought I would have posted some of the other things I have written before now but I haven't gotten around to it. I haven't gotten around to it because I have been busy getting through it. I have been in this place... 
surrounded by God given beauty and memories... 
John Wayne on the slide as a tiny kid... Fearless that one!
with these people. 

My family has been going to Big Canoe (in north Georgia) since I can remember. There are so many memories in this place. See this right here? 
John Wayne took me (ok, so it's not like he really had to twist my arm) traipsing straight through it one year when we decided to forge our own path down to the pools because mom told us she wasn't ready to take us yet. Rule breakers much?! The answer is undoubtedly yes! Babe and I have brought our niece and nephew here for the past few years. This year has been very surreal to say the least, but it has been somewhat healing. It was hard to imagine that John Wayne was supposed to meet us up here but it was nice to go through some of the memories about times I shared with him when we were growing up. It has been nice to have Kaley (his fiancee) here with us and for the two of us to get to talk and reminisce about John Wayne. 

 And these faces? These little people? 
They are what pull me through. They are the reason I can keep a smile on my face and laugh when part of me just feels like curling up in bed and pulling the covers over my head. The "Aunt Mel's?!" and the "I want mints" and even the smacks between cousins sustain me. Especially when Makaylin comes out with an all too realistic rendition of her daddy and when being made to say sorry for hitting her cousin, pouts "I'm sorry" out the side of her mouth, all while smacking her again. I had to shut the door to keep her from seeing me laughing. Oh that child has so much of John Wayne in her. 

Even this...

gets me from one moment to the next. Why is she crying you may ask? Because I was trying to help her see something on the phone and she did not like that I was touching it. Word of warning... if you take something from the child you should beware of teeth or hands. She takes no prisoners. Being with these kiddos is the closest I come to feeling somewhat like myself (my preself). My friends help get me close, but with them there is less pretending I have to do. They stay by me, hold me up and let me be less like myself and sometimes that is just what I need. It's the people... the people, and the memories, and the promise of more, the promise of healing, the promise of one day at a time that continue to get me through.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Where to go from here?

I had wanted to get on and post a recipe, to share in the swapping of yummy food.  That is the place my mind went, "I just want to care about food", but I am just not in a place yet to wrap my mind around writing anything other than what I am going through in my life right now. And I have not been in a place where I can focus on putting elements of a meal together.  Since beginning this blog it has always been a place I have shared how I felt in the moment. Right now the best recipe I can give, or hope to look for, is a recipe that gives me the ingredients on where to go from here.  I don't know what they are. I think for me it may start with admitting to myself that if I want to actually post something, this blog will have to look a little bit different than it did before.  I had hoped to keep up with these Whatever Wednesday posts because I so look forward to them.  I like to stick to things I start and in my mind every Wednesday I think "oh, I should post today" but there are going to be days where it may be like pulling teeth to stay on topic. I have loved the topics that Shay and Alissa have come up with and I don't want to throw a wrench into the plans, so if I don't make it back for a bit, I hope to pick up again soon.

 If you have been following and had chosen to stay for the quirky, random, spastic posts that often find their way on here then you may not find what you have found before, at least not for a couple of weeks.  I have written many different posts since last week. Some I have considered publishing, others I have almost completely discarded because of the mess of jumbled emotions that I do not even want to have to read back to myself.  I have used the blank slate of a computer screen to try to record my thoughts, to try to figure out what is going on in my head, and to try to process what it is that will actually let me feel something other than nothing. Then there have been things I have read through that had been written long before this blog came about, things that I wrote in many different phases of my family's (of my own) journey through addiction over the past ten+ years. Some of the words are hopeful, some sad, many angry. The angry ones only seem harsh now and I don't know what to do with them.  I think to myself, I can't share that with anyone. Though a logical part of my mind (or really a good friend who helps me think logically right now) knows anger is normal, but another part of me now can't even understand it. I'm sure it will come, I am sure I will feel angry for all of this too. Right now though I am still just trying to figure it out. I hope that you will bear with me while I explore that some.  I think for now I am going to consider posting some of what I have written on here, to share with others some of our story; the prior parts and the new ones. I had always planned on sharing more about that side of my life at some point anyways, I just never knew it would be due to what has now happened. I thought I had plenty of time to get around to it without feeling like I was bombarding the world with what addiction looks like from the outside in, when you have a front row seat to a show you wish you could walk out of. I hate the fact that it has to be told from this side of my brother's life now. I hate that he is not here to read what I shared.  I can remember asking him not long ago if he was fine with me sharing how I felt. He was always a very open person and so I knew he wouldn't mind but I wanted to know if there was anything he wanted me to leave out (his answer was no). I also remember his reaction after he had a chance to read that first post I shared on the subject. I wish now there had been more I shared with him; more of the hopeful parts anyways. I pray that when I share them here, or write them down privately for my own purposes, that they find their way to him so he knows just how much hope there was, so he knows how much I love him. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Middle

What have I been spending time doing? I have been spending time trying to figure it all out, trying to understand, wanting to make myself get on here and let it all flow through my fingers. So I sit down to write; something that I have so wanted to do in these past two weeks and yet something I have been dreading. I wasn't sure if I would post this at all. Part of me even briefly considered just giving up on blogging altogether... 1.) because I wasn't sure if I wanted to or even how to go about posting this and 2.) because I knew that I also couldn't go on blogging if I didn't write about it, because to just continue on as if the world was as it always had been was an impossibility. But so often I have wanted to come on here; to lose myself in someone else's space for a while and then to share in my own.  I knew I couldn't give this space up because this blog and this community have given me so much.  I have found solace, friendship, warmth and support.

I also found it strange that of all the weeks for the post topic to be about our biggest heartbreak that would be last week, in the week when the world dropped out from under our feet. In the week that I experienced my biggest heartbreak and devastation. My brother died last Saturday. It was sudden, it was unexpected, yet it was also something we have spent much of our lives dreading in the back of our minds. If you had read this post you may understand more as to why. These are words my dad had put down, that "although solid in his recovery, the beast that is addiction caused him to relapse one final time." Final is something that I hate having to use in my vocabulary. I don't even know how to grasp the concept of that when it comes to my brother. There is a part of me that wants to cry every minute or scream at the top of my lungs, but my body won't let me. There is a part of me that wants to feel angry, but I can't. A part of me that wants to feel that at  he is at peace, and while I know he is, I am not there yet. Instead, I don't really feel anything.  Not a numbness really, just nothing. There is such a large part of me that still doesn't believe it is real. A part of me that is choosing to do and plan and prepare so that I don't have to fully face the understanding of what is happening.  I don't know if that is best but everyone says that people grieve in all kinds of different ways. That's what they keep telling me anyways.

For now, I do not know what else to say so instead I will share with you what I had already written and read at his funeral...

There is a quote I read in a book by Sarah Dessen that says, “There has to be a middle. Without it nothing can ever truly be whole."
From the second I saw this quote I thought “well, yes, that’s definitely the truth. So fitting for my brother.” 

John Wayne, you were the epitome of the middle child, maybe because you had it coming and going.  During the week I got to play the oldest while Patrick was the baby. And there you were in the middle.  Officially you and I were supposed to share that role but when Jaclynn was with us I still think I let you go ahead and take it, since you never really liked to share much anyways.  And with your wit and charm made it all your own.

Though our family will never physically be whole anymore we will always be whole.  You will always still be there in the middle. In the middle of all of us.  We just have an extra bit of crazy with us now, which is fitting given we are and always will be "those crazy Fosters.” 
I don’t know if you knew this but sometime in the past year I started to twirl my hair.  I thought “well I have joined the crazy hair twirling side of the sibling group now”.  When I found myself twirling the hair on the back of my head (John Wayne did this so much as a kid his hair always stood straight up on the back of his head, no matter how much you tried to control it) in the car just a few days ago I thought "oh man, I’m really in for it now." But it was nice, because now anytime I find myself pausing with my hands in my hair I will be able to stop and think of you.  I can still remember when you had that alfalfa pulled so tightly on the top of your head that when you shaved your hair off you had a huge bald spot back there because the hairs had just been magically stuck up in place from all of your incessant twirling.  It was a good look, but it will never beat the hair do that got you escorted out of chapel when we were at TCS.  

I can still remember the scene you caused walking in with your bright blond Eminem hair bobbing down the isle. Mimi had to come pick you up and take you to get it dyed back brown before you were allowed to return to school.  I can only imagine what she had to say when you walked in up there.  I can just hear her now, after she gives you a big hug, saying “Oh John Wayne!!” and then licking her fingers and trying to rub your tattoos to see if maybe they are just sharpie. Because, while I assume that God gave you a good little spit shine on some of those tattoos, mainly the ones you tried to give yourself, he also let you keep a good majority of them.  You would be one who would make it into heaven with most of his tattoos still lingering. I know you got to keep the one for May May.

John Wayne, please know that she will always know you and that you will always be a part of who she is and that we are blessed to have one of the best parts of you here with us.  It’s not as if we cant see you in her already.  She was beat boxing to me and Wally just the other night. She definitely has a good bit of her daddy in her. And while that may scare some of us, we know that she will be alright.  Because when that wild hair of a two year old becomes a wild hair of a young adult she will have the best of both sides of this world in her corner. You could not have picked a better person to be the mother of your child and she will have Kaley to look towards as an example, but she will also have you up there helping God keep watch over her wild ways in order guide her feet to a solid and steady foundation with which to walk from.  

I love you.  We all love you and you will always be with us, because you are our middle!