Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where Have I Been?

Jilly Gossett, Janet Fraser, Don Hofer, Amy Elder, Dave Elder,
Me and Jill Hofer

That's a good question. The past two months have sailed by. Part of the time I've been really busy. Part of the time I've been down and out. But all of the time I have been working on some pretty big life issues.

As I sat in counseling last night and rehashed just the last two weeks (we didn't meet last week), I was actually amazed at how much has been going on for me. But when I look at the last two months, it's almost overwhelming to think about.

When I really decided to get involved and connected at my church last September, I had no idea what was in store for me. Then when God grabbed me by the collar on February 1, 2009, my entire existence changed. My entire existence.

My life has changed in such huge ways, it is truly hard to fathom. I have completely new people in my life, and not just in a small way, but people who play a significant role. They haven't replaced the "old" people, but have just added new dimensions to my life. I had grown very accustomed to existing in my own little world, with really very little exposure that I didn't anticipate and "allow" - for lack of a better word. But now I have people in my life that I see on a regular basis and who are close to me in proximity. I've always had friends who were involved, but these new people are even more "in my business"...and I think that's how God intended it. I needed some new eyes to see me a little more up close and personally. I needed some new accountability. So, God brought a rush of people into my life in the form of my church family, and it has been good. Hard sometimes, but good. Being vulnerable can be very painful, but I firmly believe it is the best path to growth. The picture above was taken at a surprise birthday party that Jill threw for me. At one point I stood in the room and cried because I realized there was only one person in the room I'd even known for more than 6 months (Janet). That's when it hit me how much my life has changed since September.

So, since February 1, God has been teaching me and changing me. I have been in a major learning and growth spirt. I've learned things like the fact that God is healing my spirit, not my body, and I'm ok with that. I've learned that part of living is learning to take better care of myself. As my friend Jilly puts it, I'm finally learning what the feeding and caring of April looks like. I've learned that being connected also means being accountable - that's a good thing.

I have had a few bipolar crashes...several minor and one major. I have tried to gain some piece of knowledge from each of them. I've realized that over the past two years I have not been able to stay on my meds consistently and that has taken a big toll on my physically and mentally, and that get bigger every time I start and stop them. I've learned that my health and well being affects more than just me and that the people who care about me and are just as affected when I don't take care of myself.

I'm learning that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for and that the potential that others see in me may actually be truth...

I feel like I am at a crossroads in my journey. God is about to do something big I think (as if the last two months haven't been big enough...). I don't exactly know what it is, but I'm holding on for the ride. He's brought some pretty incredible people into my life, and He has deepened and strengthened many of my existing relationships. One thing that is for sure...I am not the same person I was in January, or September, or especially a year ago. I am certainly not the same person I have been for most of my life. I'm growing and changing, and that's exactly what God has had planned for me all along. I just had to say yes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Hofers: God's Special Gift

I am really blessed. I know that full well. I have amazing friends and relationships that have been a part of my life for more than 30 years in some cases. Not everyone has that. I get it.

But isn't it so fun when you turn around and suddenly there is a new gift from God that you never saw coming? That's what's happened to me with the Hofers.

It's happened so fast that I still find myself thinking, "where did these people come from and how can I love them so much already?" It has to be a God-thing. I'm sure they're thinking the same thing, especially when their youngest daughter says, "April, I think you should just become a Hofer," and their son introduces me to his friend as, "She's kind of like our Aunt." It has to be a God-thing.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Jill, Jordan and Grace this week. It was spring break and they've never been to Cannon Beach. I know! Can you believe it?! So, because of my ties to CBCC I was able to get us a couple of rooms and we went down for two nights. Unfortunately, Don had to work, and Ashley had a trip to NY (can't imagine why she didn't trade that in for CB...), but the four of us had a great time.

Probably one of the best parts of the trip for me was getting to spend some time with Jordan and really getting to know him a lot better. He is really a great kid, with a really fun sense of humor. He and I went on an early morning beach combing expedition and found 62 whole sand dollars, a crab shell, an entire razor clam shell (both halves), a couple of limpets and a couple smal orange scallops. Very rewarding trip. Especially when he's never really had that experience before. We laughed and talked a lot and I feel like it really sealed the beginning of a great relationship with a kid that I respect and can't wait to watch grow up.

I have a lot of respect for the Hofers. They are a great family. We have a lot of fun together and quite frankly have already been through a lot together in just the short 6 months I have known them. They truly are a gift and I don't want to take that for granted at all. I love the Hofers. And when I left their house the other night and Don said, "Bye April Hofer," I was pretty sure they love me too. I'm happy to be and adopted part of their clan.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Even now as I am writing this I am being loved well by someone I've only known for 194 days. 194 days - that's barely over six months. Yet here I am, sitting in my pj's on her couch, with everyone else upstairs fast asleep, because medically I can't be alone for a couple of days. When it came to that point, she opened her door, without hesitation and said, come here. You are not only welcome, you are wanted. Wow. Even now I am speechless.

Then today, when I needed to be drug tooth and nail (almost literally) to the doctor, another friend did not hesitate to say, "I will take you....I'll be right there." She not only took me, she went into the appointment with me, listened to everything the doctor said, taking notes the whole time, because I knew that I wouldn't remember everything, if anything.

Then there's my poor post-surgery friend, whom I've known even fewer than 194 days who's been calling me, checking up on me, been in cahoots with my other friends, to make sure I'm following Drs orders...even when I can't actually remember them.

Or how about my friend who called me on his way to work in the wee hours of the morning yesterday just to check with me, let me cry and tell me he cared and would be praying for me...

These are all NEW friends...this doesn't even count all of the ROCK SOLID friends that have been in my life forever.

What in the world did I ever do to deserve such loving and amazing friends? Nothing that I can think of....they are just those kind of people...the kind that love God and as a result, love those around them, and love them well.

I lost a dear friend this week. A friend that I dearly loved...dearly loved. He was amazing and bright, funny and smart, the kind of guy everyone loved. I lost track of him, but I always trusted that he would come back into my life one day. The I got the email on Tuesday night that he was gone. Something very bad and very wrong had entangled itself up in his life and caused him to believe his life wasn't worth living anymore. I've been there. I was there...more than one. My heart aches and my eyes are hot with tears for more reasons that I can explain, and for even more reasons than I can come to grapple reasons, his reason, his darkness, my darkness, his pain, my pain, his feelings of utter hopelessness, my feelings of utter hopelessness.

But something changed for me that just must not have clicked for him. On February 1, 2009, Jesus knocked on the door to my heart and He said, "April, it's time for you to start living a part from that hopelessness you've been holding onto for so long. It's time for you to be grateful to be alive." I answered the knock, and have slowly but sure been making changes.

I wish Bradley would have answered that knock. I'm sure Jesus gave him the same opportunity He gave me. I'm so incredibly sad that Brad really isn't going to walk back into my life like I always hoped he would. My heart is breaking that I'll never share the laughter with him again, or the incredible hugs, or holding hands while we walked on the beach talking about all the cool things God was doing. No, somewhere along the way Satan stole Brad's joy. I get it. I really do. I was there. I was there. In fact, I visited that very lonely place yesterday. It sucked.

But I didn't stay there because when I answered Jesus' call on February 1, He brought a lot of pretty amazing friends into my life that recognized where I was headed yesterday. They hollered from afar, and when that didn't work, they literally showed up on my doorstep, took me by the hand and said, "uhh, you're coming with me until you're out of this black hole. You don't belong here anymore."

I'm more grateful than I know how to express for my friends. They truly are Jesus with skin on. Father give me balance and wisdom. Help me to always be the best kind of friend that you'd have me to be.

I pray for mercy, peace and comfort for my dear friend Brad's family. I can't wait to have a nice long sit-down with Brad in heaven...first I'll smack him, then I'll hug him, then I'll make him go for one of our long walks while I hold his hand, tell him how much I love him and find out what the heck happened.

Thank you so much to EVERYONE that's been here for me this week, especially 3 of my J angels. I don't know where I'd be tonight if it weren't for you. I'm certain I wouldn't be on the Hofer couch in my jammies writing this blog...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Life is a Whirlwind

I've been doing a lot of pondering in the last few days. Things have sure changed in my life over the past year. Five months ago, I was sneaking in the side door of church and then rushing out before I'd have to speak to someone I didn't know.

Now I feel like maybe I'm there too much. Even people in the offices know who I am (with the exception of Eric Venable who calls me Ginger...just a little joke...). I have a bunch of new friends, two of whom have already become really important parts of my life.

How did this all happen so quickly? Maybe God was preparing things along the way and I just didn't know it. Maybe it was God leading me (crying all the way) to Barbara Feil's office. Maybe it was God putting me in a small group for Bible study that just HAPPENED to have 2 gals I'd been in choir with in 2005. Maybe it was God leading Jill Hofer by the nostrils to introduce herself to me (okay, not literally by the nostils, but that image amused me). Maybe it was God moving me to join the choir. Maybe it was God arranging it so that Jilly Gossett stood next to me one Sunday while we were singing...then she put her arm around me and said she wanted to do that again. Maybe it was just a God-Thing.

So much of our lives is orchestrated by God-Things. But we have to be open to see it. I'm learning this year just how much God WILL mold me and shape me if I just surrender.

A really great friend of mine told me the other day that she gave her life to Christ a long time ago. But then she had to come to the point of givng her HEART to Him. Now she's working on giving her MIND to Him. He really does want us to give out entire beings to Him. Why is it that we tend to do just one part at a time? Even now I find myself thinking, "hmmm, I can give Him my perotid gland, that shouldn't be too painful." Why am I so afraid of God turning my life upside down?

I can tell you this life HAS been turned upside down this year, and it is very good...not always EASY, but still very good. I think I'll move on from my perotid gland to an organ that will have more of an impact for the Kingdom. Wanna join me for a great adventure?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spin the Other Way!

After my last post I twittered "uh-oh I feel the downward spiral beginning..." to which, a good friend of mine twittered back and said, "Spin the other way friend...i love you." Little did she know what an effect that would have on me. First, it made me laugh, and we all know that laughter through tears is the best. But then God began to speak to my heart with that simple phrase...spin the other way.

I truly was spiraling downward. It started last week and was getting worse by the minute. If I could paint a picture of what was happening, it would be something similar to a corkscrew twisting down into the cork...only I was on the end of the corkscrew being pushed further and further down into the dark. This morning wasn't much better as I struggled with car trouble, which snowballs into financial issues, blah, blah, blah...and soon I was right back to the point of spiraling further downward. Then God echoed, "Spin the other way sweetie" ('cuz that's what God calls me), and I made the decision NOT to go back to the hole I'd been in for the last several days (which in this case is literally in my bed with my covers over my head). I called my friend Jan and asked if I could come over for lunch (she just happened to have today off). That simple act helped me to spin the other way and begin to twist my way out of the cold dark cork.

I don't know if any of this makes sense to anyone else, but really the point I wanted to get to was that after telling me to "spin the other way", my friend thought maybe it wasn't the "right" thing to say. In fact, I think she even said it was a stupid thing to say. Hah! Little did she know that it would be the ONE thing that has started to pull me back into the Light. So, when someone you know is hurting, and you don't know what to say to them, just tell them what comes to mind. God will always use what you have to give to bless the ones you to whom you are giving. "Spin the Other Way" is now a permanent part of my healing vocabulary.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rethinking the Whole Getting Connected Thing

So, for the last several weeks I've been prattling on and on about how great it is to finally be getting connected in my church. Well, now I'm at the part of me when I crash and burn and honestly this morning didn't feel so good. It was embarrassing. I'm not used to having people who don't know me see me in this state. I'm used to either skipping church altogether, or at least hiding in the shadows and being able to run out without having to talk to anyone. I hate crying in public, but this morning it went beyond just that. I thought I'd be able to hold it together long enough to make it through the choir singing on stage...and I did fairly well. I avoided as much contact as possible because I knew if someone hugged me or had too much eye contact with me, the flood gate would open. But then came the last song..."I called, You answered and You came to my resucue and I want to be where You are." Anyone who knows me knows that THAT is truly the very deepest desire of my be with Jesus and gone from this wretched mind. It was all I could do to continue standing up there. I felt my face contorting trying to hold back the flood that was pounding to get out. I nearly ran from the church, tears streaming before I even made it to my car. Then it all washed over me. I don't understand why God made me this way, and I probably never will. But it's embarrassing and humiliating and now I know that being connected makes it worse because now the people who observe me know me and I will have to try to expalin things to them. It's a terrible predicament to be in. I wanted someone to understand, to hug me and just say it will's not forever...but that would require vulnerability on my part. It would have been much easier to be able to hide behind my tears and leave unnoticed, or to not have gone at all. This is a dark side of me that I am not fond of...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things I Learned From Being a Rent-a-Mom

  1. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side.
  2. Children say the darnedest things.
  3. A toddler crying when they realize you are out of their sight will melt your heart.
  4. Daddies are meant for adventure, Mommies are meant to worry about what will happen as result of those adventures.
  5. “Daddy only activities” make me nervous.
  6. Mommies have every right to say “I told you so.
  7. Tag-teaming is way easier than going it alone.
  8. Children don’t sleep in, no matter how little sleep the mama gets.
  9. The distance between causing a child to say “this is the worst time in my life” to “you’re the best Auntie April I’ve ever had” is not very far.
  10. Becoming the parent of a 4 year old and an 18 month old was not intended to happen overnight.
  11. Routine is a good thing.
  12. Macaroni and cheese is a lifesaver.
  13. A Dad who cooks is an amazing thing.
  14. Sippy cups are a great invention and anyone with little kids should have at least 10 per child.
  15. Sleep is NOT over-rated.
  16. Phinneas and Ferb is funny…even the 4th time around.
  17. A DVR is a blessed thing.
  18. Teaching a toddler where the recycling bin is saves you a lot of trips to the kitchen and gives them a great sense of pride.
  19. Little girls cannot run without squealing.
  20. Hat day is cute and fun.
  21. The living room floor will never be toy free…why even try?
  22. Refrigerator magnets will not stay on the refrigerator when there is a toddler around.
  23. Having a phobia about baby slobber doesn’t last long when you’re responsible for a toddler 24 hours a day.
  24. There is a time/space continuum issue when trying to entertain children for very long periods of time.
  25. I'm perfectly happy being an Auntie and not a Mommy.