Thursday, May 13, 2010

More ponderings on the little foxes

Recently I recognized old symptoms of stress, those which I have known for as long as I cam remember... the tightness in my chest, feeling as the weight of the world is on my shoulders (literally), reminding myself to breath deeper.

This time it is not really the "big stuff" as those experiencing floods in Nashville, the Gulf oil spill, or the tornadoes "out west" (although that weather system is heading directly for us).  Instead it was a burden brought about by health of family members, finances, and even small events like seeing three e-mails from my husband's sister in the Inbox in one day.

There are parts of my life for which I have some control.  The aforementioned sister-in-law is only a blip on my radar, someone I can keep at arm's length.  She has always been one of those difficult people every family has but in the past couple of years, her Asperger symptoms have gone from irritation to violent outbursts.  Her brothers are dealing with her but the rest of us are keeping a distance (for our own safety).

Sometimes we can't put our finger on what is bothering us... just an unsettled spirit which causes even the smallest of trials to seem huge.   There have been days my unsettled spirit was just a call to pray for someone else.  Other seasons of unsettling are those I never realize the reason... I just pray.   These past few days have been a combination of "lots of little things".

It was late in the day when we realized my husband had made an error which brought about numerous overdraft charges in our bank account.  The financial setback was bad enough but the realization that this was caused by his mental confusion was quite frightening.  This has been an area of strength for him and it is the second instance of such confusion in the past couple of months.

It was this increase in confusion that brought about his being accepted for Disability.  A lifetime of severe environmental allergies brought about the bipolar symptoms... at first apparent only when the allergens would attack... as he grew older the symptoms stayed longer until they were permanent.  Bipolar Disorder is a huge umbrella whose symptoms are caused by many different physical and mental illnesses.

Not all stress is caused by that which is not welcome.  We are switching from school year mode to "that time between regular classes and summer school" which has a lot of unknowns as to scheduling.  Christopher has not started his summer class or heard from the professor for whom he is to do research (unpaid but necessary for future internships).  Most likely she is at a conference.

None of the above is life threatening or life changing.  However, I have found in the past it is at times easier to handle the big stuff rather than the little foxes.  I believe there is not only adrenaline kicking in but often a gift of faith and grace which helps us to transcend the great trials.  (I kept telling Stephanie during their housing sale and move that she will look back when it is all over and everything unpacked and wonder how they did it.  :)

Perhaps it is also our expectations... we know when going through the "big stuff" that we will feel times of stress and tension.  Such emotions can confuse us and perhaps even embarrass us when the little foxes are nipping away at our ankles.  I mean, really... there are people in the world who are experiencing great suffering and I let something small bring me down?  Yes... and it's okay.

So why share the bad times as well as the good?  I get e-mails all the time from people who are surprised that I share the hard times.  However, I believe my own trials have a use when I can help others get through their trials.  It is natural to FEEL that sudden surge of panic.  It is quite human to FEEL the burden on one's shoulders and the shortness of breath, even when life's challenges are on the small side of the scale.

The difference for people of faith is this... that peace which passes all understanding.   I have learned to... as these symptoms settle on me... run to the Rock.  Sometimes I find relief by reading through Psalms and pouring out my trials and fears.  Quite often I'll find just the right book to pull off my shelf... either to read for the first time or a welcome re-read.

There are days I need to separate myself from my usual surroundings and take Bible, book, pen, and notebook to a favorite coffee shop... one which has unlimited refills for a small cup (switching to decaf quickly). 

In warm weather, I may head for the park near the neighborhood my mother and brother lived.  Neither are with us, anymore... but watching the ducks and swans softly swim in the pond and walking the path where beautiful flowers have been planted... God's World of Nature... brings peace.

"Peace that passes understanding... not as the world gives peace"... that peace which is a Gift and has nothing to do with our circumstances but everything to do with His Presence... the Prince of Peace.  That is why the world does not understand as we breath deeply and smile and realize the burden is lifted... even though the circumstances remain.

Quite often I can't understand it, either... but I'm thankful for it.  And... there is always the live-in source of humor and fun...


Alisa said...

Thank you Brenda, that is exactly what I needed today. The little foxes are repeatedly nipping at my heels. I think I will go take a shower and dive into some Psalms before I go to work. I really appreciate you!

jAne said...

thank you. needed this. little foxes have been circling. my sprint to the cross is at times a constant occurance, which is always good and right.


Vee said...

Sounds as if that would be enough to give one a titch of anxiety. I know that you are an expert at recognizing it for what it is and at taking the steps to set you right. Reading your blog helps me! Those Goudge books that you set me reading...I'm reading Dean's Watch its having come in late yesterday afternoon, quiet time (even noisy time ;>) with the Lord, and time with a pet and a cup of chamomille tea are all big helps. Gosh, I think I've just talked myself into some lovely moments.

Oh, can you round up an advocate to help you with the bank? It would seem as if those charges could be removed considering the circumstances.

Becky K. said...

It certainly is a stressful time for many.

Just as sharing recipes and cleaning hints is helpful, so is a reminder of the importance of dealing with these stresses in our lives. Using prayer and thoughtful solutions. Your post is welcome in my opinion.

I'll keep your husband in prayer. That his confusion doesn't become chronic. That must be one of your biggest concerns.

Your Sister in Christ,
Becky K.

jcpmommy said...

I know what u mean about the little foxes. As a family of 5 we have our bad times and Good ones. I was diagnose with Cancer in 2009 and I am in remission now. We got to look more towards the good ones to keep our minds stable!LOL!

Anonymous said...

We have all gotten that sudden panic when such instances like you spoke of happen. What happened? Will it happen again? How will it affect things? How do we pay for this? What can we do to stop it? etc etc It sure helps to have a track record to be able to look back on and see that God has lead us to weather such storms in the past.
Where would we be without Him? I am sure glad I do not have to wonder. Sarah

Terra said...

I hope your visit to the pond will lighten your spirits today. You are wise to find a change of scene. I think it can be good to write about problems because then other folks will know they are not alone.
After I exercise I feel great! Those endorphins kick in and I smile at the world.
Hugs from California.

Anonymous said...

God is faithful. I lift you up to Him every day.

Nita Jo said...

It's nice to know there is someone out there who also shares the bad times as well as the good. I always hope my experiences might help someone else, and it definitely helps me to write it down. I find it helpful to read how others deal with "the little foxes" in their lives. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Nita Jo

Val said...

So tough sometimes! But thankfully, God is good. My first stop to your blog...enjoyed the kitty pics! I love them dearly, but have a husband who is allergic to them.

Seeking Grace on the Narrow Path said...

Oh my . . . what a beautiful and perfect place to surrender all those cares . . . to the Holy One . . . our Comforter . . . I too run to HIM without HIM I can not breathe I can not rest. May God continue to keep HIS healing hands on you and your sweet family. You are in my prayers. I will be following along Coffee Tea Books and Me too.
Please stop by Seeking Grace soon.

Suze said...

I know exactly what you mean - about the little things, and the thoughts and fears - wearing, wearing like water on rocks. The water looks deceptively soft and it is liquid - pick it up and it just dribbles through your fingers. But many years (for rocks LOTS MANY) of rushing over hard, sharp rocks wears them down.
The only solution is to slam - in a figurative sense - oneself on the Lord in fear, anxiety, anger, desperation.....
I have to remind myself often...don't fear what the years ahead may hold....just do today - with the Lord as your companion and Guide. But I sure do have to remind myself every day sometimes.

By the way - one of the reasons that your blog is my absolute favorite is that you are REAL. Other bloggers choose to only share the good things - and that is fine, but not when one is in pain and looking a wise word of encouragement?...

There are many, many cheerful home blogs - but there are very few mature Christian, gentle blogs that share good and bad....kindly, patiently, all the while reflecting Christ being formed in them........a rare, rare flower indeed.

Linda said...

Could it be that we try to handle the little stuff ourselves. Also when things start to pile on top of each other I can start to get discouraged. The big stuff I know I can't handle and so I know only God can help me. The little stuff I try to control. I'm not saying anyone else does this, it's just what I've seen about myself, but maybe someone out there will relate. I have to keep reminding myself that when I pray things start to happen and when I don't they don't. Linda

Beth said...

I'll keep you and your husband in my prayers. Thank you for being so open and honest about your feelings. I think we all experience fear, doubt, worry, and panic at times. I know I do! I'm thankful I can take those problems to the Lord and He calms me.

Heather said...

I know that my little foxes are nipping when I find myself in the kitchen baking up a storm for no real reason other than I need the time to pray and ponder - and being productive just seems to make everything a little better! My sweet girl observed one day "troubles go better with a little vanilla Mama!" I hope things smooth out for a bit for you - gentle breezes between times of rough sailing are always so blessed!

Anonymous said...

Lots of my own little foxes here health being one of them. I find encouragement in the Word, in favorite books, time spent with family and online sermons (Beth Moore is popular here).

I also remember stories I heard growing up of Grandparents (husband's and mine) and how they survived, and even thrived, through the Great Depression.

In every storm, I lean on the rock.

God bless you...thanks for encouraging us. I pray today that you'll be encouraged too.


Carol said...

Brenda, sometimes in the workforce, work is divided up so one person produces the work and another person checks it. Would your husband be agreeable to having you check the checkbook after he balances the checks? He would still be in charge but you would just be being his helpmate. So that this does not become another task on your plate, perhaps he could do a task that is normally yours. You probably already thought of this. Carol (MD)

Anonymous said...

I hope your husband is not too discouraged over the bank problems. I know you both watch your expenses and so it is doubly a worry the way it happened for him. As was already mentioned,.. I would think if you deal with a bank, especially one you have been at quite a while, they could dismiss the charges under the circumstances. I would surely ask. They can see your record is not to overdraw too. Anna

freetobeme - Anita said...

Hearing of your hard times makes you real. Life isn't all roses for any of us so it's best to just be honest. This way we can see how God is leading you.

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing about your foxes. Fellow saints sharing their trials does help me in mine. I do also get the heavy feeling in my chest when stressed. Nice to know someone else does too.