Monday, February 12, 2007

Who fills your cup?

This is my newest mug that I take my morning coffee in each day. I picked it up using a Starbuck's giftcard that my sister sent to me (Love it!) and it is a reminder to pray for her and her family as they go through personal issues in their life at this time. Not an easy time for them...and difficult for me to know how best to help them. So, I sip my coffee and ask God to direct their steps and bring them to the place I have found in life in spite of great difficulties.
Thanks to my friend and fellow blogger, Tom, I just had to post this picture and add my thoughts to his comment left in the previous post. He hit the nail on the head when he stated that I would be less apt to see the cup as half full or half empty, and instead place more merit on "who fills the cup". I have to say that that is exactly how I see it. The "Who" and the "what" we look to for truth or direction in life I think, makes all the difference in the world. It's the very basis of how I live my life and how I have come to a place of such peace, joy and contentment.
While having a snack with my girls the other afternoon, we were spelling our names with mini-alphabet pretzels. Bella is into spelling names lately, and after I had spelled out "Mommy" [and Ava ate it up], I proceeded to spell out "Nitty Gritty". Bella thought it was funny and helped me eat it, and as I ate it I had a 'near emotional' moment. (For those of you who wonder what that is, it's where I get reflective and almost choked up to the point of crying- but I rarely cry anymore, so it's a big deal to get that feeling.) As I was munching my pretzels, I started to think of all the other words I could have spelled out to describe me at this time. There are plenty of words out there (see one of the very first posts I wrote...asking what word you would put before your name to describe yourself...and then leave me a comment if you want to share it). I realized how lucky I am to be at this point in my life where I have such a positive outlook in life. I mean, after all I've been through, I could be looking at life in a lot different light- there's another word people often use to describe life that ryhmes with Nitty.Gritty. but paints a less than pretty picture.
Now, after the thoughts of the last few posts, I am once again reminded that I have had a long journey to this point in my life, and I am very grateful to be able to be at peace with life. I just have to share a few more thoughts in this regard. I want to be very clear to those who 'watch my life' on one thing, and that is is a CHOICE every single day, for me to be this way. I credit my strength and faith in God- which is the one TRUE source of joy and hope and peace in this world, I believe. That's the first point that I need to repeat. I don't think one can say that too many times. Especially in the culture in which we live.
It's one of the reasons I have a hard time watching tv and why I make an effort everyday to have some quiet time. There are so many 'mixed messages' being sent out to us that it's no wonder we are living in a time where people are struggling with finances and relationships and health concerns and depression. The media, I believe, paints such a distorted picture of what we are supposed to be seeking in this life...whether it's a certain body image, or type of car, house, lifestyle, job, or that you can somehow fill the deep desires of your heart and soul with drugs, alcohol, money or sex. It's the movies, on tv, in magazines and in music. Everywhere it seems.
What I have come to find is that none of that really matters when it's all said and done. When I came to the point in life where I faced death and uncertainty with my own family, it was clear to me that there was more to life than I had been living, even though I was living a fairly quiet, happy, "good" life. That was shook to the core.
Then I had a few months where I didn't know what to think or feel, and life just plain hurt so badly that I almost didn't care. That's when I began to see that life is about choices. A couple of things happened to focus the direction that I have chosen to walk in life since then. One was that the pain and grief and anger and sadness that I was feeling was overwhelming me. Chip and I were supposed to be creating a "new normal" as people would tell us, and yet each day I would wake up to heartache, or nightmares and panic attacks and Brock was having post-traumatic stress disorder and Wyndham was in rough shape...all that on top of mine and Chip's injuries and we were dealing with the legal aspect of our tragedy and it was ugly and painful. Add to that fact that Chip and I were grieving differently and handling Teagan's death feeling almost 'opposite' of the other, and so we were getting mad at one another and hardly able to be around one another at times.
It was one of those times I remember Chip and I stopping in the midst of yelling/crying and we just looked at one another. Dr. Phil could have been standing in our kitchen at that moment asking us, "How's that working for you?". It wasn't. Life wasn't working for us that way, and I remember the two of us having one of the tightest hugs we ever had before. We talked about how we didn't like anything about our lives anymore, but that what was done was done. We couldn't change what had happened. I think I needed that time to just sit and say it outloud..."Life is unfair; it's not fun anymore; I can't take anymore 'bad' stuff!" It was then that Chip and I talked about how we saw our lives being ripped apart even more than it had been, simply because we were dwelling on the unfairness, the sadness, the hurt. I had had enough, and I know Chip had had more than his share as well. We truly looked at one another and said, "Then let's not let anymore 'bad' stuff happen, and if it does, let's try to make something good out of it". It's a good thing we had that talk, and it was a moment that started moving us in a better direction...but I'll be honest with you- things didn't change overnight.
But then another thing happened- the events of 9/11. That tragedy helped to fuel in me the little glimmer of hope that life might be worth getting out of bed for from day to day. It was about 5 weeks after our own incident that I sat and watched the lives of so many other innocent Americans shattered in a similar way that mine had been. I knew the pain and grief and stress that they would feel. And somehow seeing this same injustice that I was living touch so many others made me take yet another step toward healing. Not to say that I am happy for their pain or this attack on America, but it made me "see in real life", that I wasn't alone...bad stuff happens to anyone and everyone- no matter who or where you might be.
Sure there are different degrees of suffering, but the fact is it touches us all. I think too many times people like to mope around and get dragged down by their own suffering- whatever that may be. I'm not here to judge whether or not a person is justified in those feelings, but I learned that no matter how bad I've got it, someone, somewhere is living through something much worse than I. It's another reason why I have a hard time watching tv since our incident...I get a little too judgemental and have quite a lot to say about all the "drama" I see- whether it's real or not. There is such a myth out there about what we 'deserve' in life, or it makes me sad to see people chasing such 'empty dreams' if money or a job or a bigger car or bust or a different spouse or whatever it is they think will fill the longing in their soul. To get that, they sacrifice a lot of themselves, or their families, or their reputation or their health and in the end, most people end up with a lot bigger mess than they started with. Like a pile of debt, or a broken family, or they end up addicted to something or wind up in jail, and the cycle just goes on and on.
So when I sat munching my Nitty.Gritty. pretzels the other day, and now after the comment about who/what fills your cup, I just had to preach it one more time. It's a choice. It's not an easy choice for many of us- but it's still a choice. It's why I keep my tv turned off most of the time, and why I have a daily quiet time. It's about the kind of music I listen to and the messages I tell myself when I look in the mirror. I think we live in a country, saturated with people sending mixed messages, or telling us we need more of the 'wrong things'. I ate up my snack thanking God that He has brought me out of despair and has surrounded me with goodness. And even though I can't get Teagan back in this lifetime, or change the things that shattered my life, I have seen more blessings than I deserve in the past few years. There are still ups and downs, and I'm fully aware that I'm not guaranteed a life free from pain just because I've lived through tragedy. I didn't get a "FREE CARD" to use when things get tough...and yet I don't fear what may come my way.
I have learned that no matter what happens, I will always have a choice. That reality brings with it comfort and peace and contentment. And I guess, it makes me look a little too happy sometimes...but that's just Nitty.Gritty. me.
By the way, if I go "missing" here in the next couple of days, it's not because I'm done preaching. =) Instead, my little family is taking a road trip from Michgan to Minnesota. We will be spending some time with our families and hoping to have some relaxtion and fun. SO, that's it. Nitty.Gritty. is hitting the trail, heading West for a bit. Fortunately we won't be taking a covered wagon. I'm hoping for some fun photo ops from maybe the Mall of America, or another 'famous' Minnesota landmark. If there is another one. =)


Anonymous said...

Jody, I love your blog today! Your friend Tom is The Bomb!! I discovered his blog through yours and he's one gifted dude!
Minnesota...God's Country to be sure since I'm Minnesotan born and bred! Have a great time with your family and we'll miss you here!

Anonymous said...

Jody, I've often wondered why you no longer live in the town where you lived during your tragic loss. I guess I assume Chip's career took you elsewhere, but as I read your post the other day I wondered if you just had to get away from the area. Kind of to get away from the stigma of being "that mom whose daughter was killed at old depot". As you talk about going home for a visit I thought I'd ask. Have a safe trip and enjoy the time you get to spend together as a family.

~Lea~ said...

Have a wonderful time on your trip Jody...hope you get some good relaxing in and just some family time together!

Great post today, and I totally agree with you!! Have a fabulous day!

aly3kids said...

That quote about the cup is going on my white board pronto. Awesome!

I just wanted to say how much I love your blog and how much it inspires me. My kids are close in age (5, 4, 2) and my dh works a lot, and I have been "down" a lot - but reading your blog has really helped change my attitude a LOT. I still have my moments, for sure, but I'm making better CHOICES and have been much happier lately. Thank you!

Have a great trip!

halfbakedscrapartist said...

Be sure to hit the Archiver's store at Mall of America, my fellow scrapper!

Have Safe Travels and Many Wonderful God-Filled Memories,


brokenhearted said...

Hello, I stumbled upon our blog through two peas and let me say... Thank You!!!! Alot of things have happened in my life and i have always gotten through them. This last year has been really tough for me to the point where i didnt even want to get out of bed in the morning. In the past few days i have really been thinking things over and have decided to do what i have to do in order to live a normal life. I know it wont be easy and there will be days when the pain will be overwhelming but i have made the choice to be happy. Maybe i depend on material things to fill the gaps of my soul. To help cope with the pain i carry in my heart. I know that God has a plan for my life and I am determined to find out what it is. Thank You

Anonymous said...


Check this out, I think, in time they will need you.

a lurker....
named Stephanie

Jamie said...

I love reading your blog.. always changes my outlook or my thoughts. I needed that today. thank you again.

Alissa said...

Finding your blog today has honestly been a life-changing experience for me. I too am a believer, and there are days when I've found myself disappointed or feeling sorry for myself for the most simple of life's little inconveniences. After reading many of your posts (so much for all that I had planned this afternoon!) I've realized that I need to make the choice to live with joy and to appreciate every single moment with the people I love. I'll hold my baby just a little tighter today. Thank you for sharing yourself and for your amazingly beautiful outlook on life - you are inspiring to so many!!! God Bless!

susan opel said...

"there's another word people often use to describe life that ryhmes with Nitty.Gritty. but paints a less than pretty picture." - very cool turn of phrase, Jody!

JSM said...

I, like many other Christians, would like the word in front of my name to be God-glorifying... I"ll have to do some more pondering on what it may sometimes appear to be...
Although I only know you from reading your blog I would also add to your name "Delivered from the fire and don't even smell like smoke". You are truly a modern day Shadrach/Meshach/Abendago... I mean that with the greatest respect.

beth j said...

bring lots of warm clothes when you come back to the cities. it is so cold here! safe travels!

Tina said...

Jody you are such an inspiration. When I read the part in your blog where you wrote about your husband and your grief I felt as if you were watching my husband and I after we lost our 5 year old son, and it brought me to tears. I remember that screaming when he filled himself with work to grieve and I was home alone trying to cope. We too grieved so differently. It will be 14 years on the 23rd of this month and that scab still gets ripped off to reveal the raw pain.

Thank you for sharing

Heidi S. from Michigan said...

Jody - A very happy Valentines Day to you and yours. You continue to inspire me daily. As we were making our Valentines treats to share with family and friends, I had a Nitty.Gritty thought, that we should share some of our treats, with someone who needs some extra love. I have some ideas in mind, and will let you know how it turns out. Have a great time at "home" with your family. Be Safe. Heidi from Michigan

Carrie said...

It has taken me a couple days to find the time to fully read this post. First, I just saw the picture and was excited because I have the companion pink mug as my favorite work mug right now--but I didn't have time to read the post. I skimmed the comments, and knew it was worth reading.

It was.

Keep talking Jody. There are often times when I wonder why what I've gone through (not nearly remotely similar to your experiences) and I have to remember that there are reasons and if it ministers to one person, then it has to have been "worth" it. I don't say worth in the sense that it makes it okay, but I know then that I am involved in something bigger. And you my friend are involved in something HUGE that God is doing--in the lives of believers who need encouragement, and in the lives of nonbelievers. You will hear "Well Done Good and Faithful Servant," of that I have no doubt.

I do wish you were still in G-Town though, because I'd love to take you for coffee (Starbucks naturally now that they finally opened one there!) when I'm back in Michigan this summer....