Dr. Laura Ponderings – Holidays, Family, and Death

I don’t get to listen to Dr. Laura as much as I’d like, it’s easier to read things online in between breaks rather than listen to a podcast (plus some of her content isn’t child-appropriate).  Over the past 6 months or so though, I’ve had some opportunities to listen here and there, and I’m always amazed at how her advice is so simple, but can be elusive when it’s problems one can relate to.  It’s so hard for people to see reality at times, and I find that fascinating, especially when thinking about our own questions.

Perhaps it’s easier to solve other people’s problems when you can see the bigger  picture and they can’t, because they’re in the thick of it (or their emotions get in the way of logic and reality).  The Bible acknowledges this, telling us to get wise, godly counsel, and that with many advisers, plans succeed, etc.  We’re not supposed to figure everything out on our own 🙂 and that’s why podcasts like hers are great!

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Question 1 – Traveling with Kids for the Holidays

A father of 5 was scared of traveling to see all the relatives they usually do because it’s so hard on the kids (and parents) to travel.  It ends up being stressful and not fun for any of them and kind of ruins the holidays in a way.

Dr. Laura frankly told him it’s insane to try to travel long distances with that many kids (LOL why is this so hard for us parents of young kids to understand?  We always try to anyway), why not just stay home and create your own traditions and invite family members you want to see to your house instead?  She went on to add thoughts on how families of young children really shouldn’t be traveling anyway for the holidays, and should put the needs of their kids and immediate family first.  Holidays shouldn’t be that stressful (beyond the normal stress I guess), but filled with joy, peace, and happiness.

I know for us our kids seem to have a very hard time sleeping when we travel to see family, which in turn, causes us to be extremely sleep deprived (one time I got 2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period)!  This makes the holidays even more stressful and difficult when you’re operating on very little sleep (and your kids are having behavior issues related to the lack of sleep).

The family also has to be worth it to travel with little ones.  Dr. Laura always tells parents that if their family is unwelcoming, it’s ridiculous to go; you’re teaching your kids to think that’s normal and ok.  Most counselors agree the kids will be much better off spending holidays around people who truly love and accept their parents and want to see them (not just the kids).

The father of 5 was relieved to say the least, to feel like he had an, “out,” to not have to pack up his brood and trek around to various family members’ houses.  I found that call adorable.

 

Question 2 – Feeling Relief When a Relative Finally Dies

A older woman called in and was worried about how she’d feel when her mother died (background story of abuse/emotional abuse and manipulation, which led to her cutting her mother out of her life entirely).  She was worried she’d eventually feel guilt – especially after her mother passes away.

Dr. Laura frankly told her that she’ll feel RELIEF when her abusive/controlling mother dies, not guilt.  Aside from this sounding so wrong, this is something I just cannot understand at all – my parents were so loving and wonderful growing up, the only rift we had was when I got married, and even that was fixed a couple short months after and they’ve been our biggest supporters and source of comfort for 12 years now!  I was *always* very close to my parents, and even now my mom is over sometimes several times a week to help out, and goes on outings with us weekly.  My parents also adore my husband, and really go above and beyond to show him love and acceptance (which is consistent with how they were my whole life).  Feeling relief at their passing is something I just could never comprehend.

But for people who grew up with emotionally or physically abusive parents, apparently feeling relief when they pass is a normal thing (unless amends have been made).  This may explain why people who grew up in an environment like that, typically want little to do with their parents when they’re adults (and as a result, they don’t see them often, or are estranged off and on).  Their parents are a psychological burden they carry with them silently – other family members, even siblings, don’t often understand this, but a spouse does.  A spouse sees it clearly, and understands intimately where it’s coming from for them – a place of deep pain and suffering that no one else really understands.  It just sounds so harsh to say they’ll feel, “relief,” but now I can see how realistic that is.  It’s a relief of the burden they’ve carried (their parents) since early childhood!  Of course it will be nice when they just don’t exist anymore.

 

Question 3 – Estrangement and Criteria for Reconciliation

This was a more recent call my husband and I listened to together, about a woman whose family wanted to get back in her life (she’d cut them out for 7 years), and had sent letters to her regarding this.  She felt guilty, and wanted to know if she was obligated in any way, to allow these aging parents back in her life.  She claimed those 7 years without them were bliss!

Dr. Laura asked her if they’d done any of these three things first: Did they show any remorse or apologize in any of their letters to her?  Did they take any responsibility at all for their part of the problem?  And did they try to fix any of the past problems at all, in any way that she could tell?  She answered no to all three.

Dr. Laura advised her it was *insane* to allow her parents back in her life without any of those three things happening first.

I think when a person does try to reconcile, without any of those 3 criteria being met first, it just doesn’t work out, and may be detrimental for people like her parents because they never have the chance or opportunity to repent.  If God just allowed us to be reconciled to Him without the repentance and forgiveness, we’d be taking advantage of Him all the time, and never have the opportunity to grow into better human beings.  Feeling remorse, feeling the pain or suffering of separation from God (estrangement), or going through the humility of making amends or apologizing, is good for us as humans because it brings us closer to God and who He wants us to be.  It’s the exact same with human relationships.

Reconciling without those 3 things happening may even embolden the family members to act worse, because they still feel no remorse for the past problems they helped to cause, and believe their adult child was the problem, and may now feel enraged at the previous estrangement.  Narcissistic parents often feel the estrangement was completely and utterly uncalled for, and therefore view the child or couple as needing to make amends to them for putting them through the estrangement!  Obviously, those kinds of emotions of deep resentment coming from parents like this causes a multitude of new problems for a couple to deal with, hence Dr. Laura’s advice in the first place.

Dr. Laura pointed out that if they haven’t changed, then the problems will just continue.  It is just very rare for people to truly change, unfortunately.

I loved this call and loved how she gave this woman freedom to do what she needs to, without any guilt, and gave her confidence to make choices that are best for her.  You just can’t fix everyone, and some things just can’t be fixed here on earth.  Accepting that, moving on with your life, and leaving things in God’s hands gives one so much peace.

Hope you readers have a great holiday season.  You can hear Dr. Laura’s, “best,” calls here , give her a call, or send her an email if you have a question about the holidays that are coming up!  I’ve always found her advice so wise and helpful!

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Drinking in God’s Beauty – Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage!

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We’ll be gone for awhile on an island enjoying and drinking in deeply God’s beauty ❤  We’ll also be gone during our 10 year anniversary!  10 years have flown by so fast, and it has been beautiful and such an incredibly journey through life’s ups and downs, yet clinging to each other and God always trusting He’ll get us through.

Even though things feel dark – my husband’s coworker who was shot in his chin is doing better, and we’re still praying for the family of his other fellow police man who was shot and killed a few weeks ago.  We’re so grateful that the one he regularly worked beside is still alive after being shot like that in the face – he has a very young daughter who looks up to him like he’s the world.  These men that protect us daily from evil and fulfilling God’s Romans 13 calling… it is such an honor to be a wife to a man God’s called to fight against that kind of chilling evil.

This may be a bad season for us, but this morning I felt God’s strength when I put on the armor of God – it felt so literal and powerful to get me through another day for our kids, to be their support.  Even though the fog of exhaustion is at times overwhelming, God’s given us so much joy and beauty… even in difficulty.   🙂

Looking forward to going back to one of our favorite places.

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Trusting God

The past couple of years have been hard emotionally.  I haven’t wanted to write about any of it really, because I usually want to try to learn something – or at least understand it – before writing about it.  I think it was Hemingway who said “Never write about something until you’re through it.”

Well, what if it doesn’t have a clear “end?”  What if you still haven’t learned anything profound from it?

What if you’re never really “through” it?

Losing my dad has been so horrible.  I don’t write about it, but I think about it often.  Sometimes I become extremely depressed when thinking too much on it.  Which is partly why I gained weight last year.  Remembering how much my dad wanted me to enjoy life in it’s fullest with a healthy body – and to be happy with my body, is why I started being healthy again right before we got pregnant with our 3rd.

He’s gotten much better, but the stroke (if that’s what it was) really changed his personality, and I miss him so much.

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And then on the blue line side of things, seeing so many innocent men and women die – seeing the public generally not understanding or thinking “this is what they signed up for” – that they literally signed up to be assassinated in a country that used to be free – has been hard to understand heads or tails of.  I didn’t want to write my thoughts on all the police deaths for many reasons: the anger, the depth of heartache, facing the truth that most of them are racially motivated, the ugliness of it all, and just plain not being able to understand it.

Something that HAS really helped, has been leaning on God, even when I was extremely depressed or terrified.  Trusting Him and trusting in His goodness even though knowing He allows the worst to happen has been healing.

The only thing I could find that’s close to explaining what I’ve been learning about God’s protection, even when He allows murder and death of good people, is this audio of Elisabeth Elliot.

She explains it well and it brings peace to me to know that no matter what happens in this life, our ultimate ends are safe and secure in Him.  Which is why it’s better to trust in God, even in times like these.

Life & Loss

We’ve had a somewhat difficult week or so, I haven’t posted about it because I’m naturally a very optimistic, cheerful person, and I knew a post like this would be anything but positive really.

Our sweet neighbors brought a very small, young puppy home with them from Mexico, their niece, who is a vet down there, was taking care of it, but gave it to them since it was sick and needed more hands-on care.  My son and I were over at their house and fell in love with the sweet puppy, it was a poodle – chihuahua mix, and had the sweetest temperament.  Our neighbor who was doing the caretaking for this little puppy, the mother of the family, is getting older, and didn’t really have the time to devote to round the clock feedings, etc. so I offered to take care of it for a month until it was old enough to adopt out.

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It was so fun taking care of it, bottle-feeding it puppy formula, keeping it in my purse everywhere we’d go – my son and I both fell in love with it.  My husband even gave us the green light to keep it, he was even becoming enamored with it’s sweetness.

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We had it 3 days… and on that third day, we came back home from my son’s soccer game that his team had won, he was full of joy and felt like a champ – having made 2 goals for his team that day.  I told him once we got in the house to go check on his puppy, it was the first time we’d gone out without him tagging along in my purse.  He went to go see his pup, and laughed saying he was sleeping really weird, “Mommy you’ve got to see this!”  When I came into the bathroom and saw him, I knew immediately something was horribly wrong – his little body looked twisted, and when I picked him up to check on him, I could tell the Rigor Mortis had already set in.

My son handled it ok, he was devastated that evening, but we explained that the puppy was sick and more than likely was in pain. I had thought the puppy was getting better, but in reality he had still been vomiting and unable to really keep very much down.  When death comes, the suffering of this life stops.  He wasn’t in pain or sick anymore, but this was still not a lesson I wanted my son to have to learn at such a young age.

That feeling of loss… of devastation is simply part of life, as natural as the highs we feel when a new baby is born, or when we’re surrounded with family and loved ones.

This past week, my father was admitted to the hospital for a few days as they tried to figure out what was wrong – he was dealing with severe symptoms from a bad reaction to a new medication he had just been put on, and ended up staying for a few nights.  He’s always been so rational, so logical, but under the influence of the drugs and their reaction in his body, I witnessed him reduced to a man talking nonsensical, and irrational… someone I didn’t even recognize.  I faced for the first time, the fear of wondering what on earth I would do without him in my life anymore.  I feel so young to lose my dad – he’s almost 70, but both his parents lived well into their 90’s almost reaching 100.  I can’t imagine not having him and his witty humor, his wonderful nature, around for the next 20-30 years as I raise my children.  I can’t imagine them not knowing him.

Even the feeling of imagining him gone leaves me feeling dead inside.  Empty.  And I have to consciously remind myself that it would not be the end.  That when God takes him, it will be his time.

He’s back home now, and slowly recovering, but the incident has brought home to me, the severity that everything can change in an instant.  The only thing constant in life is that there will always be death, there will always be loss.  At least in death, there is no more suffering, and we can look forward to eternal life.  We have a hope that those who don’t have faith never will understand.   When we grieve, it is different… we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, we grieve with the encouragement that we will someday be with our loved ones forever, in a place where there is no more pain, no more growing old, no more tears, and no more death.

Death, where is your sting? Oh Hell, where is your victory?

Death & Judgment

I am a nerd… a geek… hopefully not completely a “dork” – call it what you will, but I truly do embrace my inner geek-goddess.  I completely mesh with my husband concerning a variety of books and movies, even tv-series.  Whatever it is that leads me to adore Harry Potter (if you didn’t read the books – yes, all of them – you’re sorely missing out!), Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, I’m thankful to be born like this. 

Growing up, my brother and I would have episodes of these movie marathons, usually Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.  We would watch them for days, relishing each part, repeating epic lines!  Geek goddess?  You have no idea….

I love the deep lessons hidden in these works of art, all kinds of life lessons, if you’re attune to them.  One of my hands down favorite lines is from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is explaining to Frodo how to accept crisis – how to deal with things that happen in life that are devastating & unwanted.  He also explains possibly one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard on why we shouldn’t judge others. 

Frodo: It’s pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had a chance!
Gandalf:  Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. And some that died deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

 

Loss & Betrayal

Horrible and devastating things happen in life.  There is no way to escape them.  People will hurt you, hate you, despise you, ridicule you, even if you are a genuinely good person.  Even if you are a devoted friend, employee, or advocate – these attributes to your character will not always stop someone from betraying you and turning completely against you, or pursuing to harm you.  Even if you are the one helping them the most!  There are two things which I personally think are the hardest to bear in life: the pain of betrayal & the pain of loss.

When I was barely 14, I went to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.  I’d never seen such human cruelty, and even though I’d read about it – Corrie Ten Boom’s survival through a death camp in The Hiding Place – nothing could’ve prepared me for the stories we heard and read and the things we saw in the museum.  There were tv’s playing footage of Nazi officers dragging naked women’s bodies over te rough ground – the piles of the dead, literally piled on top of each other scattered everywhere – these things are burned into my mind. It was beyond inhumane – it was insanity. 

There is one Jewish psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, who truly amazes me.  He was trained in Freudian psychology, which deemed that the experiences in your childhood are what determined your character – for the rest of your life. He was among the people seized by the Nazi’s, and who had to endure their horrific and torturous death camps, and through his experience, changed psychology forever.

“His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens.  Except for his sister, his entire family perished.  Frankl himself suffered torture and innumberable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” – the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement.  His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him.  Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps.  He would describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines – mental, emotional, and moral, principally using memory and imagination – he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors.  They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options.  He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards.  He helped others find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.” (Covey) 

You have the chance to choose.  You can’t control what happens in life – what other people may decide to say or do to betray your trust in them.  You can’t control death and the excrutiating pain of loss – loss of life or loss of a relationship, a love, a family member, a friend.  Even if injustice is occuring to you, you have the ability to move beyond it – even when you’re currently enduring it! 

Only you hold the power of your self-awareness and choices, if you choose to realize it. 

You hold the key to decide how it’s going to affect you – if it will run you into the ground, or propel you beyond your wildest dreams.  Let the pain of betrayal or loss inspire you – God will take care of vengence, it is not your’s to dwell on – however tempting that may be – vengance is a double-edged sword, the moment you plunge one end into your perpetrator, the other end also plunges into your own heart.  Do not harm yourself and be distracted by revenge, instead let your pain inspire you and develop you – and teach you lessons you never would have learned.