A.W.A.R.E. In Tennessee

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” 2 Samuel 22:30

“Happy Sunday!” That’s what I say to people as I greet them today, the last day of conventions for the year. We are wrapping up our travels in Sevierville, Tennessee. This is a very special location as a large portion of Archie and my 25th anniversary trip took place in the neighboring Fort Dodge and Gatlinburg, TN.

Riding in the back seat of the van, there is no such thing as watching the scenery. It was 10 hours of being sandwiched between a solid steel door and boxes of show supplies. Since I was sitting lower than the front seats, I could see tree and roof tops along with upcoming hills and power lines through the distant front window. On occasion I would hold my camera phone over my head and snap a picture of what the scenery was outside. Believe it or not, I have some very pretty sunrise shots.

With this being said, I was grateful when we reached the hills of Tennessee as FINALLY I had something to look at! With that, however, came the memories of Arch and my all day Apalachian hike.

When I shared with my boss, Emma Lou, about how some of my happiest memories as a couple were made here, she asked if I thought it would be a difficult trip. “No,” was my response. “We won’t have time to visit any of the places Arch and I went and I am beginning to just be grateful we/I made those memories at all. I am TRYING to project that joy into my tomorrows.”

Being honest, when I saw those beautiful mountains, I wasn’t projecting anything, my stomach hurt. Memories came flooding back and, you know that sensation right behind your eyes and nose that makes you aware that your face is going to leak? Yep, experienced that one.

I was taken off guard as I wasn’t ready for those emotions. It felt like an empty pit opened up inside, reminding me that those memories will never be revisited, experienced, or even shared again. There is no one to say, “Do you remember when we…” because he was the only other person there. That sensation behind the eyes gave way and so came the tears.

My mind goes back to a book I was skimming on a plane written by Tom Venuto. Though the book was written to teach/talk about physical health, his points could just as easy fit into a book dealing with grief.

He was talking about how people have emotional emptiness and fill it with alcohol, food, or other negative choices but never feel full, only feelings of guilt after they’ve indulged. He said the only way to avoid this is to be A.W.A.R.E.:
Aware of when you have these feelings, Watch out for emotional triggers, Arrest the negative patterns when they happen, Replace the old emotional behaviors w/more constructive  alternatives, and Establish new beliefs and right reasons for making hard choices.

Maybe I should be grateful I was strapped into a seat flying down the highway at 70 mph. I couldn’t grab my bucket of chocolates to try and fill that “sink hole” that unexpectedly developed within my innermost being.

When I look at the journey I have been on for the last 20+ months, I see the points of pain and despair. I also recognize and hold tightly to the fact that the time/distance between extreme valleys are becoming further apart. With time, I AM LEARNING to become more A.W.A.R.E. of my triggers, brace the best I can, secure in Heavenly Dad’s arms, and together we lean into the pain. When I am on the other side, I have more confidence that with His help I can make it through another moment, hour, and then day. With that also comes the realization that He has carried me this far so He MUST have some plan in mind for me…it’s just not ready yet.

Until it is, I will take one day at a time and look for the doors He has opened for me: I started volunteering in the children’s department at church again and have been working hard to learn crazy motions to teach the books of the Bible. I also put my very best foot forward at work as I help hurting people cope with their difficult situations by taking the focus off of the challenge and onto making the world a more beautiful place one project at a time.

As for what tomorrow holds:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I’m not going to waste my energy worry about the unknown because God’s got this.

Until next time: Blessings!

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