Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dreams... Are you ready?

Do you remember your dreams?  I tend to not remember mine.  If I wake up remembering a dream by the time I walk into the restroom I've forgotten it already.  Usually I don't think I do dream.  My oldest daughter dreams about every night.  She remembers them, usually in detail.  I have a friend who can do that as well. 

The entire idea for the Twilight series came from a dream that Stephenie Meyer had.  Yes, I read the Twilight series.  Yes, at one time I loved every single one of them.  Now, I'm over it.  I got caught up in the hoopla of it all.  As someone who writes, I am envious of the gift of being able to remember your dreams.

This morning however, was different.  I was mid-dream when I awoke.  In my dream I was sitting in a chair among hundreds of people.  There was a stage and the stage was surrounded by chairs filled with people.  I stood up with my papers in my hand and headed to the stage.  I walked up on stage and knelt down next to the lady who had asked me to come and speak and whispered, "umm...this looks like a lot more than twenty five women."  She replied, "Yes, I know honey but they are here, are you ready?"  I told her I may throw up and I should pee first.  I looked up at the crowd and when I went to stand up I woke up.

On Tuesday I will be speaking to a group called the Department Club.  I have known this was coming since July.  In July, I grumbled and fussed and told God I was certain that He needed someone else.  In the end, I agreed to do it.  The funny thing about this is that I haven't really been all that worried about it.  I think that is what scares me.  I have a genuine fear of public speaking but what if that goes away?  What would I hide behind then? 

This woman in my dream who I haven't even met in person, only talked to on the telephone in my real life asked the most poignant question of me ever.  Are you ready?  Am I?  I have no idea.  How does one know if they are ready?  How does one know if they can really do something for God and do it well?  I suppose that is where trust comes in.  How much do you trust God?  The One who created the heavens and the earth and even me, how much do I or can I trust Him?  Are you ready?

I live in the land of What Ifs.  I have spoken in public a total of three times now and I never eat before hand because I am afraid of losing control of bodily functions.  Would that happen?  I suppose it could.  It is unlikely but what if?  What if I forget what I'm saying in the middle?  What if I'm not interesting?  What if I'm not funny?  What if no one shows up?  What if too many show up? Scarier what if I really bomb and I let down not only the people who have come to hear what I have to say but I also let God down int he process? Scarier yet what if I'm actually good at it and I have to do it again? 

Am I ready?  I don't know.  Am I?  I have been thinking about speaking to these women since July.  I know what I want to talk about.  All day I have thought about that dream.  What happens next?  It's like a cliff hanger only instead of a television show it is my life.  Did I go pee then come back and do well?  Did I go pee then throw up on stage or in the restroom?  What happened or happens next?  My greatest downfall is wanting to know the outcome instead of just trusting God to lead me where he wants me.  I have to always question it.  Always analyze it.  Always argue about it.  My best friend once asked me what would happen if I didn't throw a fit and just did what I was told.  I told her it was my process.  God knows it's coming, if I don't throw my fit he will think he got the wrong girl.  The ridiculous thing about that is that that is usually my argument.  He has the wrong girl. 

My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Do you see the irony?  My favorite verse goes completely against my control issues.  I always want to know the outcome and yet...maybe I don't need to.  Maybe I need to accept that God knows the outcome and quit trying to take control.  He has control.  I don't have to.  I'm a slow learner but I think I'm starting to get it.  I don't get commissioned to go alone.  I am only being asked to go and allow Him to do His thing through me.  I have to learn to stop taking God out of it and start taking me out of it.  It's not about me. 

I was raised an only child.  I have only child tendencies but what a relief it is to know that in this instance, it isn't about me.  It is about doing what God asks me to do.  I don't need to panic, I need to get with the program. I ready?  I'm shaking in my boots, but my boots are made for walkin'.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Paper Gown Patient...err Princess?

I have a not so secret secret.  I don't like to go to the doctor.  I am horrible about preventative medicine.  I don't go to get my yearly exam except every three to five years and up until this year I had never had a mammogram.  I do go to the eye doctor every year because sight is very important to me.  I have to be able to read, also glasses are cool.  I go to the dentist every six months because I like to chew my food.  Food does not always agree with me but I do enjoy eating.  Eye doctors and dentists I have no problem with.  I don't have to get naked to see them.  OBGYN's I see no use for.  I'm done having babies.  Yes, I get that it would be responsible of me to make sure I don't have cancer, but nothing else gets checked every year for cancer.  My husband doesn't go see a doctor every year and get naked to check for cancer. 

Some years ago my doctor actually moved her practice an hour away.  I have seen her once in her new office.  The discussion with my husband recently when like this:  Vaughn:  You need to go to the lady doctor.  Me:  Why?  I feel fine and I can't get pregnant.  Vaughn:  Just to make sure everything is ok.  I don't want to have to explain to our kids if something happens to you, that I couldn't get you to go to the doctor.  Me:  First of all, I am pretty sure I was just there a couple years ago.  I remember going to the Italian place for lunch and shopping after.  Second of all, I am also sure our children are well aware that no one can talk me into doing anything I don't want to do.  Vaughn:  Please just call and see if you can get an appointment.  Me:  Fine.

 So I called my old doctor and she was out until February.  I took that as a sign that I didn't need to go, because obviously I'm not going to go in February.  It's deep freeze winter in February.  This didn't fly with my beloved husband so I called and got a new doctor. 

Now here's the thing with new doctors who happen to be in the OBGYN field.  You meet them naked.  I don't know about you, but I don't normally meet people naked.  I prefer to see a woman doctor because other than what they studied in school, a man isn't going to get women's issues.  I found a doctor closer to home that met my criteria and made an appointment.  I found the office and checked in.  (Side note:  My husband told me before I left for the appointment to remember that I laugh at myself when I get nervous.  I have no idea what he's talking about.)  When the nurse took me back, she took me straight to the scales.  Now... I have to take my shoes off, my coat off, take my phone out of my pocket.  Essentially remove any excess just to be weighed because I need all the help I can get.  So I say, "You know, I think it would make more sense to have the scales in the rooms because I can tell you for a fact, that I weigh less without clothes and obviously my clothes have to come off here." 

Once in the room and after all the preliminaries I am asked if I need to use the restroom.  Why yes, yes of course I do.  When I return I have to put on the paper shirt and cover up with the paper blanket.  So now the situation becomes horizontal or vertical with the paper blanket.  As I'm sitting on the table of torture awaiting certain doom, I am thinking that when the doctor (that I am meeting naked in paper coverings) comes in she will see my backside first so..I definitely want to go horizontal with the paper blanket so I can wrap it around and sit on it, thus keeping all parts covered at first meeting.

The doctor was very nice.  We talked about Women of Faith and had I not met her wearing paper, I think we could have been friends.  I think that she and the nurse were disappointed that visiting them rated below going to the dentist for me, as they said usually rate just above the dentist.  Chat time was great.  Exam time was uncomfortable as best.  After the exam with a bonus round that apparently is required after forty.  No, just no.  We must not speak of that ...ever.  I thought I was done.  No, no so much.  I need a mammogram and apparently it is a bit appalling that I have never had one at this age.  I was given an order and told to go where I wanted to have it done. 

All I knew about mammograms at this point, was that 1. I didn't want one, 2. They are apparently uncomfortable and painful.  I pictured metal jaws of life compressing what little bit of deflated nothingness I have left after nursing three kids.  I called on a Wednesday in October.  October is breast cancer awareness month.  I was sure I was going to get a reprieve until at least November.  They got me in two days later.  It was crazy.  I made it to the appointment and there were no metal jaws of life.  I was given pink beads on the way out.

All in all, it was bearable.  It is funny how our imaginations can make things to be worse than they actually turn out to be.  I still don't think these appointments need to happen every year, but I am not found of being a paper gown patient.  Or would that be a paper gown princess?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Running Toward Elightenment

Enlightenment comes when you stop looking around for it.  In my wildest dreams I never imagined that I would ever run.  Of course I'm still not sure what I do could constitute running.  Today during our run a neighbor came up in his car and asked me if I were trudging through Nutella.  When I finished begging him for gum, because I had forgotten to grab some before heading out, I told him that was exactly what I was doing.  So there is one lesson learned:  Never, ever, under any circumstances run without gum.  All that huffing and puffing makes for a very dry mouth which makes the run almost unbearable.  He didn't have any gum but offered me water which I declined because I can't carry anything when I run.  It's just too much of a hardship.  I have enough trouble carrying myself.

Today we ran for thirty minutes.  In. A. Row.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The girl who whined about running for two minutes is now running for thirty.  Not well I might add, but running nonetheless.  It's painful, I ache, and it doesn't help me in my quest to stay up late and read as many books as I possibly can in one year, but I am persisting in the quest.  I am being enlightened in doing so. 

God tends to use unlikely means to get his point across.  I always said I couldn't run and I wouldn't run.  So...God put it on my husband's heart to want to Run for God.  I wish he had put it on my heart to want to run.  He didn't.  I still don't want to run.  But he did put it on my heart to want to encourage my husband and to do this with him.  He also took a non-runner and made her a runner, or a trudger (that may not be an actual word but it should be) at the very least. 

A couple of weeks ago we were going out to run for twenty minutes.  I told myself that my rate of surviving the runs was 100% so I needed to just get over it and get ready to go.  Funny how just as we were getting ready to go I heard a whisper from God that said that my survival rate for public speaking was also at 100%.  Some people tend to look at me funny when I tell them that.  Sometimes God whispers to me but sometimes I need big neon signs. 

In July I was asked to speak in November to a group of ladies in the Department Club.  Now maybe that doesn't sound unusual to you.  Maybe it isn't but what if I told you that just the day before in church we were talking about evangelism and everyone took a candle to light and pray about who we could ask to church.  In all fairness maybe not everyone took a candle.  I did take one, to this day I think it is still in my car.  In my mind I thought, "Well sure I can invite someone to church.  No problem!"  The next day I got the phone call asking me to come speak.  God not only whispers and uses flashing neon signs sometimes he just uses his sense of humor.  Funny that I can't just go speak to one person I get to go speak to the masses.  OK maybe not the masses.  There could be only like ten of them for all I know.  But you see the humor right?

I think I'm learning that maybe there are a lot of things that I have always thought I couldn't do that maybe I can do.  (Excuse the obnoxiously long sentence.The get longer when I get excited.) 

Saturday I went to see Beth Moore live.  I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing she is.  I look at her and I think, "She is who people should hear speak.  Not someone like me.  I couldn't possibly have anything to share that could help anyone."  But what if I'm wrong?  What if I'm just broken enough that God could use me to help even one?  Being the runner that I am, in which I tend to run from everything.  I'm usually too scared for anything out of my realm of comfort.  God is trying to teach me not to run away but to run to him and let him do the work. 

At the end of the even on Saturday Beth asked anyone who struggled with panic and fear to stand up so we could be prayed for.  Yes I said we.  That's my first reaction always.  I stood and my best friend and people I've never met laid hands on me and prayed for me.  I have never experienced that before.  It was very emotional.  I suppose I have never thought about whether or not anyone prays for me other than my children, my husband, and Christi (a.k.a. the bff.  If you have read my books you've read about our antics.)  After the event I asked her if she was ready to take our act on the road.  She's not so sure but I think I have her convinced we should have a band.  The way I see it, any mistakes I might make in speaking can be made up for by a good praise band. 

All that to say this...I'm still running, I'm a runner, only from now on I'm running towards something instead of away from something.  Oh and IF you are unfortunate or fortunate enough depending on your perspective to hear me speak, just keep in mind I'm a movie lover so there will be movie references and even clips shown.  This broken servant needs visual aids. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Letting Go With A Vision (A sending the first one to college story.)

We discussed it for a year...maybe more.  We planned, we saved, we "prepared," and we packed.  We knew it was coming.  We were excited.  We ARE excited.  And yet...I feel a bit like Hannah of the Bible.  Walking away from my child and leaving her behind to find her God designed purpose in life.  Giving her back I suppose.  This child that I nursed, cuddled, taught to walk and talk, introduced to the 80's, whom I love is now a young woman. 

We moved her into college this weekend and said our goodbyes today.  She will not be sleeping under my roof every night.  She will not be fighting with her sister at least once a week.  She is embarking on her own journey that God has designed just for her and it is a strange almost surreal thing.  It's a bit like leaving a part of your heart behind that you will see later. 

Have I mentioned that her college is a mere twenty minutes from my house?  That is by car of course, certainly if you chose to ride a horse or a bike it would take longer.  I know it seems ridiculous.  Perhaps it is but maybe it isn't.  No matter how far away the college is, the entire family dynamic is now changed.

This child of mine will not be sleeping under the same roof as her family every night.  This child of mine will not be here for breakfast and dinner.  This child of mine will now learn self-discipline on an entirely different level. This child of mine belongs to God.

She will come to visit on breaks but even with her being close, it is my duty to allow her to learn to depend on God and herself.  It is my duty to allow her to form a new family within the halls of her dorm.  To release my hold and not only hope but expect that there are others that God has in mind to make a difference in her life; that will ultimately help to mold and shape her into the woman He has in mind for His purpose.  It is my duty and it is hard. 

My heart yearns for the days when she was young and she needed me.  She doesn't need me as much anymore.  She may want me, but she doesn't need me.  She is amazing.  I can say this because she is my child.  If you know her, or think you know her, allow me to tell you that you don't.  You don't know her.  You think you do, but you don't.  You only know, just as you only know of me, the side of her that she allows you to see.  My daughter is smart.  She is caring and sensitive.  She gets her feelings hurt easily.  She has a hard time trusting people.  She gets along better with people older than her than with her own peer group.  She is incredibly funny.  If you don't know this about her, you are missing out on one of her most incredible qualities.  She is also fiercely protective of her siblings and if I get sad she senses it and allows me to cry on her shoulder.  She is destined for great things.

I know all of these things and through all of my excitement for all she is yet to be, all that she is about to do and see and know, I miss her.  It's been an hour, it's been a minute, it's been a week, it's been a year, and I miss her.  I miss her and part of me can't wait to see the other side.  The side where she has learned what her life calling is, she is mature and self-assured.  Where instead of not wanting to make eye contact with people for fear of whatever they may think of her, she holds her head high and makes eye contact with everyone because the only one she is concerned with pleasing is God.  I look forward to that day and that is the vision I held in my mind as I walked through first one door and then another door and came home.

A quote shared with us this weekend was this:  "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." -Helen Heller  What a profound statement.  Don't you think?  Allow me to apply this to my current situation.  I refuse to be blind to the needs of my child.  While I could see her anytime I wanted, that is not what she needs.  She doesn't need me to be in her way.  I'm no longer first string, I'm sitting the bench.  Oh sure she can still come to me if she needs something, money, advice, or just an ear.  But we both have to learn that our roles are changing.  We need to keep the vision of the future in front of us.  We need to have a vision of the future.  We need to trust God's plan.

So with a vision of her bringing friends home on break, calling me to tell me she isn't coming home because she has a better offer, walking across a stage to receive a diploma that she earned, and fulfilling her life calling, I know that not only will she do great but I can allow her to be.  I can learn to sleep at night with her at college.  I can learn to cook for four instead of five.  I can learn to not tell her to do her homework.  I can learn to not call or text her EVERY day.  I can learn to open my grip so I can receive something more.  Can you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Growing Pains

Today was another run day for us.  My husband says that he thinks Wednesdays are the best run days.  He thinks we get farther or go faster.  He may go farther faster but I am still lagging behind.  I can't keep up.  I trot along with my bouncy shuffle hoping that a bone in my calve doesn't break because my calves hurt so much when I run, I feel sure that something is about to break.  This cannot be normal.  The only consolation I find in this is that while he does shoot out far ahead of me, he does always walk back to me for the walk part of this venture.  This ensures that if I do go down, he will find me and I won't be alone for long.  (Hmm...kind of like God keeps coming for us.  I feel a lesson here.) 

As I was running and listening to my music today, I kept my eyes on my husbands back so I would know when to stop running and when to walk.  (His phone has the app running while my phone plays the music that keeps me going.)  It occurred to me that this scenario is much like our relationship with God.  Only when we keep our eyes on Him do we know which direction to go and when a change is coming. 

I sing along when I run sometimes.  I also apparently have revelations about my walk/run with God.  I realized also that the pain I feel in my legs could be compared to growing pains.  Oh I don't think I'm going to get any taller and if two weeks of this business hasn't helped me to lose any weight yet, I'd venture that it's not going to any time soon.  I think I'm having more than one kind of growing pains though.  As I run and feel the pain in my legs, I tell myself that it cannot possible hurt forever.  This pain that I'm feeling now will go away once I get to where I'm going, which is home when my run is over.  (Side note:  Could this help with restless leg syndrome?  I, of course, self diagnosed myself with this but I do wonder if it will help or hinder this problem.) 

Much like the pain I have in my legs from running, I seem to be having growing pains in my faith.  I get asked to do things that I don't necessarily want to do.  I don't feel qualified to do.  I don't feel prepared to do.  I don't think should be necessary for me to do, but mostly I just don't want to do.  I am having growing pains and I feel weak.  But then 2Corinthians 12:9 pops into my head.  It says: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  

I am weak but He is strong.  In the race to this life's finish line I don't want to miss out on the celebration at the end.  While I'm feeling the growing pains now, with Christ all things are made new.  2 Corinthians 5:17
If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.  I don't know how new I qualify to be at this age, but I do know I have a lot of growing to do.  I also know that I don't want to stay the caterpillar if I can become the butterfly.  Butterflies are beautiful and they can fly. 

When I run I sometimes grow weary.  I won't lie to you about that.  (It is sincerely possible that I'm doing something wrong while actually running.  Form maybe?  I don't know)  In the Bible study we are doing it quotes Isaiah 40:31 -but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  I don't want to grow weary.  I want to run my race and meet my Jesus at the finish line.  I sing praises to God while I run and my legs are burning but when I get to the part where I'm asked to trust and fulfill what may be my true purpose I do sometimes grow weary there too.  I'm getting there.  When asked personally by someone to do something I say yes.  I panic first of course and throw a fit, but then I say yes.  It's my process.  God knows it's coming.  God understands growing pains.  

I don't have everything figured out yet.  This running Bible study has given me much to ponder and I think I'm learning a lot.  Mostly that sometimes we get asked to do things we don't necessarily want to do (like running, speaking in front of people in a class, speaking in front of a large group, like running) but if we will only allow ourselves to try something different we might just get to the other side and wonder what we were afraid of in the first place.  It's just growing pains...I have them, you might have them too.  I hope to see you on the other side.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Runner

I have many friends who are runners.  In fact, I'm friends with an entire group that get up at 5ish in the morning to run.  While I do love them all, I find this well...nuts.  Never having been a runner and the most running I've ever done, being when chasing after my children, I really have never seen the draw.  I still don't.  I have to say that I don't see myself ever rising before daybreak to get in a run.  I only rise before daybreak if I'm going on a trip or Black Friday shopping.

We have completed our second week of actual running in this C25K program.  I love my couch.  My couch is white with these removable covers that are machine washable making it safe for kids.  The comfort level of this couch is second to none.  The windows in the room this couch resides in faces the east and the light streams in making it a wonderful place to get comfy with a book.  While this room is a living room or receiving room, I think of it more as a sanctuary.  It's my peaceful place in a world gone mad.  I can get lost here and venture to brave new worlds.  There is a piano here that my daughter sometimes plays while I'm reading making it an even more pleasant experience as I listen to beautiful music as I read.

I miss my couch and yet...sometimes...when we are out together hitting the pavement, my husband and I, I think about what I may be missing holing up in my favorite place.  This place that I find such a comfort and bring me such joy may also be the very place that I am hiding in.

Am I hiding?  Surely I'm not hiding because I'm not a runner.  I've never once had a desire to run.  Sure I've had a desire to be healthier or thinner but never, not once, to be a runner.  I still don't.  The irony of these last few statements is that without question that is exactly what I am.  I'm a runner.  Not in that I take to the open road and pound the pavement, although I have been doing that.  Well in as much as I do my bouncy shuffle down the road and hope that I don't hurt myself or pass out.  But more than that, I'm a runner in the sense that when I get scared or overwhelmed or just don't want to do something...I run.

I don't stick around to see the outcome.  I don't climb the mountain to see what's on the other side.  I much prefer it if someone goes first, takes pictures, and then tells me all about it.  Sure I have dreams.  Big giant, scary, what if dreams but I really don't think I want them to come true, because what if it's too hard?  What if I fail?  What if it's not right?  What if I misjudged and I chose wrong?  What if I only THINK that it is what God wants for me?  What if it isn't?

What if ...excuses are second nature to me.  I'm great at excuses.  Runners usually are.  Not the ones in running shoes and all the fancy running gear, no they are dedicated.  Rain, snow, or the heat of the day, they keep on running.  They have to get their run in.  They are more reliable than the USPS or just as reliable anyway.  No I'm not that kind of runner.  I'm the other kind.

God couldn't possibly want ME to go speak.  God couldn't possibly have plans for ME.  God couldn't possibly be trying to tell Me something.  Who am I?  I'm broken.  I'm a,,, well... forty something woman with daddy issues.  Still upset that her dad didn't call and wish her a happy birthday five days later.  What on earth do I have to share?

When I am walking with my husband I take one of my ear buds out so we can talk.  Tell him my fears and we talk about the kids, we talk about everything and nothing.  When the app says to run however, I plug back in and listen to my contemporary Christian music.  Sometimes I cry.  I'm really out of shape, I only know how out of shape I am because I was once very in shape.  I can tell a distinct difference.  But I don't cry because of the pain from running, or maybe I do, only it's the running I'm good at.  My legs burn and I listen to my music and talk to God and I wonder why I'm running.  Until a whisper comes that maybe I'm running to something instead of away from something this time.  Towards what I don't know.  I don't even know if I want to know.

Do you run?  In this running we've been doing I have to run for 1.5 minutes then walk 2 minutes back and forth until time is up and I have to say I count them down.  For someone who is good at one kind of running I count this down till it's over. Then I think shouldn't it go for the other way too?  Shouldn't my faith be enough to sustain me so I don't have to run anymore?  So I don't WANT to run anymore?

We were asked in this bible study to think of what our life verse would be.  The first verse I could think of hangs on my wall.  Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  My father comes out and tells me plainly that He will not harm me that He wants to give me hope and a future and I run...because I suppose I don't know how to stop.

I think that is why we are meant to do this program.  I didn't want to do it.  My husband did, I didn't.  I'm a very supportive wife so I agreed.  I'm good at supporting everyone but myself actually.  But I think this is why we are doing it, at least why I have to do it.  Because I need to know that the running can end.  That there is a beginning and end to everything and sometimes even when you are running there is an end.  Maybe that's the point.  You have to learn to run to learn to stop running.  To learn to trust that even if I don't like it, it leads to something better than what I had before.  To learn to get past my fear so I can get to the blessing beyond it. 

I'm not certain of anything except that I'm a slow learner.  So if you are looking for me, I'll be hitting the pavement with my husband three days a week.  I should warn you that I did get some new running shoes today so my bouncy shuffle may faster. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ten Years...I Wonder....Did you know?

I find myself sitting in my office this evening, torn between wanting to express what I'm feeling and wanting to escape into the book I'm reading.  This room has been so many things in the ten years since you were here, yet I can still see the hospital bed in front of the window and the dresser with the television on top of it in the corner.  It would seem as though nothing has changed and yet everything has changed.

This morning I awoke in complete despair as if it were going to happen all over again.  My feelings so raw that it could be a premonition of what is coming even though it has been ten years since it became my reality.  I keep waiting for the rain to come and the lightening show outside the window.  By this time ten years ago...has it really been ten years?  It feels so fresh to me today.  By this time ten years ago everyone had gone home from the pool.  The nurse had been called hours ago and come and gone.  In just a bit will be the time when I told uncle Paul to go home and get some sleep because we didn't know how long it would be.  The children would have been long down in their slumber at their other grandma's house.  And here I sit.

I sit on the same side of the room that I would have been at your bedside.  Sharon would be at the other side of the bed.  About 12:30 a.m. I would have sent my husband upstairs to sleep not knowing it would only be another hour or so.  I talked to you that night.  I told you how much I loved you and told you it was OK if you wanted to go be with Jesus.  In between talking I watch the lightening show and while I am normally afraid of storms, for some reason I felt no fear of the storm that night.  I only whispered my love for you and how much I would miss you.

It was after one in the morning and I knew instinctively almost, that the time was drawing near.  It was as if time slowed down and sped up all at the same time.  You were here and yet you were leaving, as though I  had been watching you pack for hours and you were trying to say goodbye but weren't sure about it.  I think I felt Him come to the foot of the bed before I felt you leave.  I was holding your hand and told Sharon to do the same, it was time.  I still find it a miracle that I knew that.  It is an odd sensation to feel the spirit leave the body.  One minute there is life and the next minute it is gone, off to a distant place I can not yet visit.

I wonder...did you know that day that you would be leaving this night?  Did you know that Jesus would come himself to take you home?  What was it like to awaken and look up onto His face?  Did you cry or did you smile knowing you were finally going home?  Did you take one last look at your family or did you in awe and wonder just follow Him home?

I can't remember the last time I heard your voice.  It makes me sad that I can no longer hear your voice.  I have no one to call when I'm cooking dinner.

I think I even miss you getting mad at me.  You used to get mad at me.  I hate that you got mad at me but I liked it too.  It's how I knew you cared.  You don't bother getting mad at people you don't care about.

I'm sorry.  It's been ten years and I'm sorry if I didn't do enough.  I'm sorry if I didn't make you proud or if I didn't do enough for you.  I tried.  It's so lonely this feeling.  I'm an only child and I'm alone without my mother and yet I'm not really alone.  I'm surrounded by family and friends.  Perhaps just alone in the misery I sink myself into every year for three days.

Tomorrow is the official date of death.  July 14th.  It's the French Independence Day, one of the only things I remember from French class in high school and also just one day before my birthday.  I haven't decided if you were trying to hold out or if you were trying to go before so as not to ruin it.  Not that you had much choice in the matter, no one ever does really.  I do remember the struggle on your face though before you left.  You were always so stubborn.  A trait I might have inherited a bit of.

I hate my birthday.  Everything about it reminds me of this, of you.  You always made birthdays such a big deal.  Now they are, but for all the wrong reasons.  I'm a willful child mad and upset because nothing can be the way it was because you aren't here.  You didn't miss anything and the parent I'm left with misses everything.  Barely acknowledging us four times a year.  I know, what did I expect?  I guess I had hoped he would come up to bat.  He just stays in the dugout and never even makes it to the batter's box.  That makes me sad too.  He's missing everything and even though you are in heaven I feel as though you still never miss a thing.

Today in church we talked about what Jesus as been doing in our life.  I went back ten years to this night.  The night Jesus came and stood in this very room I sit in now.  I have a feeling He is here tonight as well.  Perhaps sitting in the other chair as I write this, reminding me of how far we've come.  I've struggled more this year than last.  Yet I know He will find me and help me find my way back.  That's the difference between now and then.  I couldn't find my way through all the darkness.  Now it's as if when my heart feels heavy and dark His light starts piercing through all the dark until the light just bursts through and the darkness is gone.  I know I'm not alone.  I know my father holds me in his arms and comforts me and heals me.  I know the pain I feel every year is the reminder of His love and His grace and without the pain I wouldn't have truly known what I was missing.  I accept it, it still hurts and threatens to break me, yet it refines me.  I know this is what I must do to get where I want to be...with my father, always with Him.  I know now I can't do anything on my own.  Nothing works without Him.  I need Him.  I long for Him.  My heart breaks and sometimes I still feel like running away and yet I turn around and I run back to Him because the alternative would shatter me.

I'm so happy you get to be with Jesus.  He loves you so much.  I know he does because he loves me too.  I wonder...did you know?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Running My Race

Hello!  It has been so long since we've talked. have you been?  It seems amazing to me that I haven't written since May and yet somehow it seems natural.  Not that I wouldn't be writing, but that I have been so busy with family and summer and all that goes with it that I haven't had a minute to even think about it.  Forgive me.  If you follow me on Facebook, I'm sorry.  I'm really bad at social media as it turns out.  There are so many authors and public figures that have that whole thing down and I envy them.  I am not one of them.  Here is what you've missed.

About two weeks ago my husband and I started going to a bible study/exercise thing at church called Run for God.  Now I should preface this by saying that I don't run.  Not only do I not run I have never ran.  I was never an athlete of any sort.  I wasn't even a mathlete.  I have never been anything that ends with thlete.  So you would be correct in assuming that this was not my idea.  Love makes you do crazy things.

My husband needed motivation and accountability.  Both are things that we all probably need a bit of.  When this opportunity at church came up he decided this was just what "we" needed.   My husband played sports in school.  He was an athlete and he is also very good at math although I don't think he was a mathlete.  He also stands for hours at a time for his job so his legs are in far better shape than mine are.  I rather enjoy my couch.

The plan is this.  We have about 45 minutes of bible study time and then we get outside and walk/run.  This week was a five minute warm up followed by 60 second run then 90 second walk over and over and over again ending with a five minute cool down.  All this lasts for a total of 30 minutes.

On Monday, we had class then hit the streets for our walk run.  I am very good at walking.  Why I venture to say I could walk for a good while.  We had had some rain earlier and there was some moisture and small puddles in the road.  By the second or third round of run I was contemplating licking the water from the road.  I was also pretty sure that I didn't have muscles where I was hurting and this was a problem.  My head hurt, my legs hurt, my groin hurt, and I was concerned with the whole breathing problem I was having.  Breathing was becoming a problem.

My husband said I didn't need to breathe in I needed to breathe out.  I was using my reserve air.  I had plenty of air.  I think he was high on adrenaline.  I was pretty sure I didn't have any reserve air.  I couldn't get enough air and I was glistening so much it was looking like true sweat.  I don't sweat.  I didn't even think I  had sweat glands.  I kept wondering if I passed out which hospital they would take me to and if they would give me an ice cream sundae and tell me everything would be ok.  Then I remembered I can't eat dairy anymore and wondered if they would give me a gluten free cupcake and tell me everything would be ok.  I was definitely not feeling ok.

On Tuesday we walked, on Wednesday we did another walk/run in our neighborhood.  On Wednesday I informed him I loved him and that I didn't necessarily think he was my best friend anymore.  He smiled and told me to think about how hot I was going to look on the beach next time we go to Florida.  My run looks like a bouncy shuffle and it's so slow a turtle could lap me.  But I did it because love makes you do crazy things.

I have no goal.  I am supposed to have a goal in mind.  I suppose it helps those who truly want to become runners.  My dream is not to run and complete a 5k.  I suppose if I were to pick a goal for this experience it would be to help my beloved to reach HIS goal.  He wants to be able to run a 5k.  He wants to be stronger and healthier and I want those things too, I just wouldn't choose running as my means of getting there.  But I DO want to help him with his goals and his dreams because I love him.  He is the supporter of all of our dreams and he is also my best friend.  Whether I get frustrated that I can't keep up with him or not, he is "the cheese to my macaroni."  (10 points if you get the reference.)  

So I guess I'm running my race while helping him run his race.  When you love someone you sometimes do crazy things.  The more I think about it, maybe this is good for me too.  I get time with him, I get time with God, and I get time to figure out me.  I guess even when we aren't runners, we still have our own race to run.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day and Separation Anxiety

Sunday was Mother's Day and while I spent my day enjoying my family, it did not escape me that this was my l0th Mother's Day without my mom.  I miss my mom every day and while holidays are hard, I no longer spend them longing for what I don't have.  I choose to spend them relishing in what I still have.

I am blessed to be the mother of three children who drive me crazy, make me question my sanity, make me wonder if I am the only one who messes up, fill my heart with joy, make me believe in miracles, give hugs like no other, inspire me, challenge me, overwhelm me in every way, and remind me that there are people in this life worth sacrificing everything for.  We spent our day visiting with family, laughing, eating, playing, resting, and enjoying being in each others presence.  I missed my mom but I was reminded that I too am a mom.  Plus she got to spend her Mother's Day in paradise with Jesus and I'm willing to bet her day was far more spectacular than anything I would have planned out for her. 

Today I did the countdown to the end of the school year.  At this point in the year the adults at school are right there with the kids hanging on by a thread.  I am ready for summer and yet... this year is different.  It's the end.  The end of high school for one and the beginning of something else.  Thoughts of graduation and the subsequent open house and planning for her going off to college swirl around my head making me dizzy. 

It is exciting yet terrifying to think of your children not living with you and striking out on their own and yet I'm reminded that she is God's child and He has a plan for her.  One that I am not privy to but must trust will be carried out and will bring only good for her. 

I know this to be true and yet when I walk by her room and think about her not being in there every night, I feel lost and incomplete somehow.  As though a part of my very being is no longer going to live here.  My heart aches and my stomach hurts and I feel as though if I sleep long enough I won't have to let her go.  Sleep eludes me.  I get engrossed in books so I won't have to think about it.  I have an adult case of separation anxiety, I think. 

The flip side of that is that I can't wait for her to go.  I get so excited to see what happens to her in college.  Will she meet her best friend for life like I did?  Will she meet a boy?  Will she fall in love?  Will she get good grades?  Will she discover what God's plan for her life is and what her calling is?  I am overwhelmed by all of her prospects and get so excited to see what God has in store for her that I can't wait to watch it all unfold before us.

But first is the party.  When I graduated my mother had a cake some nuts and some mints.  My family and a few friends came by to give me some gifts and wish me.  We had some cake and that was it.  It is so much more than that now.  We have to have food and cake and tents and caterers and entertainment.  Some even renting out halls for the occasion.  Nothing but nothing about a graduation or even a kid's birthday party is simple anymore.  Just a bunch of parents trying to outdo every other parent and show they love their kid more because they gave them more.  And for what?  In the end does it matter? 

We will have food but I am preparing it with friends because really, who would want to eat it if I made it on my own?  We have corn hole, a pool that is unheated, a cheep net to play volleyball or badminton that may or may not stay up, and an iPod for entertainment.  The cake I'm ordering from the grocery store.  I can't keep up with the Jones' nor do I want to try.  Perfection eludes me and perfection is boring anyway.  

Her party will be great because the people who love her will be there to congratulate her and cheer her on to bigger things.  Her party will be great because she will be there.  Even my mom will be there.  In spirit of course, but I doubt she would want to miss it. 

So I'm just over here having mini-melt downs and trusting Jesus to get us through all of the excitement and even the calm time when the excitement is over and reality sets in.  In between melt downs though I have work to do.  I have a lot of envelopes that need addressed or no one is going to show up to the party!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Forty Two

Not long ago they started showing the movie 42 on HBO.  I didn't get to the movie theater to see the movie but had wanted to check it out, so when we came across it on HBO my husband and I started watching it.  As it turns out we really enjoy this movie.  So much so that if it is on we watch it.  In fact, it is on even as I type this. 

One evening when my husband and I were watching this movie it occurred to me that he was 42.  So I looked at him and I said, "Hey you're forty two, what is that like?"  He looked at me as you might think, like I was crazy and said, "Yeah its fine" and continued to watch the movie.  That is when it hit me...if he is 42 that means that I'm 41!  Wait a minute… when did that happen? 

This year I will turn forty two.  But will I really?  I started thinking about age.  Have you noticed that once you hit a certain age the actual number doesn't come into play unless it is divisible by ten?  You are an age range.  Technically I'm in my early 40's now, not almost 42.  Eventually everything is a range, early, mid, late, early to mid, mid to late.  But we hold on to that mid to late with everything until we absolutely HAVE to accept that next big number that ends with a zero, then we have a party that we made it. 

Aside from my contemplations of weird age anomalies, I also have other things about the movie 42 that I love.  I love that Jackie says, "You want a player who doesn't have the guts to fight back?"  and Mr. Rickey responds with, "No. I want a player who has the guts NOT to fight back."  Amazing isn't it?  The guts to NOT fight back! 

I am reminded of the Bible.  In Matthew 5:39 it says, "But I say this, don't fight against the one who is working evil against you.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, you are to turn and offer him your left cheek."  What strength and conviction of faith it takes to not fight back!  Our instincts are to fight back and stand up for ourselves.  And yet...Jesus says no and taking it one step farther and saying in verse 44 of that same chapter in Matthew "But I tell you this: love your enemies.  Pray for those who torment you and persecute you-" and in 45 "in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven.  He, after all, loves each of us-good and evil, kind and cruel.  He causes the sun to rise and shine on the evil and good alike.  He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner."

Yes, I think it takes a great deal more guts to not fight back.  Maybe you didn't watch this movie and take away from it all that I did, for me it was a good reminder of what we should do and yet sometimes fail to do.  In a world full of movies with little to no moral compass, it was nice to watch a movie based on a man who had courage and faith to see it through.  Perhaps it was nice to also be reminded of my age.  I have a lot of work to do as this year I will be 42.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Give Peace A Chance

Daphne is working this spring break.  She has a job at the mall.  Last night when she arrived home she asked this question, "what do Amish people have against peace signs?"  What?  Yeah I have no idea.  Which is of course what I said.  Apparently some Amish people came in and were looking at clothing and when they saw they had peace signs on them they just left.  She found this curious as I suppose I would have when I was her age.  I suppose it is a little curious even now but I don't care enough about what other people will or won't wear to worry about it.  Unless of course you are at an amusement park walking around in a bikini and refuse to put clothes on, then I have a problem with you.  I am a firm believer that there is a reason why we have clothes and also that there is a reason why we invented houses (no I don't want to go camping with you) but that's another story.

I love this girl so much because of her curiosity.  Of course she googled it.  As it turns out it isn't a matter of not giving peace a chance so much as it is a matter of vanity.  She felt better about the lack of purchase after that.  She thought it was different and she didn't get it but then she says she doesn't understand Jewish people not wanting to finish the rest of the Bible either so...there's that too.  Her outlook on these things while perhaps a bit misguided are funny. 

People are interesting.  Each one of us made in God's image and yet with different personalities and interests.  It is perfectly natural to be curious about our differences.  I think the key is to learn about others while not losing sight of who we are.  Accepting others is an exercise in tolerance and love.  I also believe that we can love people who are different from us while not agreeing with their choices and beliefs.

What do you suppose keeps us from accepting people who are different than ourselves?  Fear?  I wonder what we stand to lose.  My kids are still young and learning about the world, but it is interesting when it is adults that are not accepting.  Here is what I find interesting.  The very foundation of our country was built on the pursuit of religious freedom.  Yet we cannot say prayer in schools and we cannot have the very mention of God in print or word in government buildings.  Some people are offended by my Christian beliefs and have gone to court to attempt to quiet them and the irony of the situation is that God is so much a part of our country they put God on our money.  "In God We Trust"   And I have not once seen any of these people refusing to spend money. 

I am offended by lots of things as I am sure many of my fellow Christians are.  The difference is this...I am not afraid of their beliefs as much as others are of mine.  It bothers me that people who are sworn to protect what our country stands for are willing to bend and change laws to accommodate people who have a problem with the very things that our country was founded on.  I'm not going to take anyone to court, I'm not going to get into a debate, and I'm not going to make anyone feel like less because they don't have the same beliefs as I do.  Which would be another difference.  I feel it's better if I just speak truth, pray, and leave it up to God to deal with that.

If you want to wear peace signs or a bikini that's your choice.  I think bikinis belong on a beach or by a pool and not around an amusement park.  I may look at you curiously and the mother in me will want to cover you up but it's your choice.  Just like it's my choice to think orange is a horrible color and ranks right up there with the color of baby food peas.  No good can come from it.  A lot of good can come from believing in Jesus but again it is your choice to believe.  Just give me the same courtesy as I choose to give you for your beliefs.  Give peace a chance. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Eighteen Year Old and Welcome Spring Break!

So much has happened that I'm not sure where to begin.  First I should tell you that I'm getting ready for a book signing in my home town for If I Grow A Beard, Do I Have to Dye That Too?  Of course, you know how I feel about public speaking so as you can imagine I'm stoked!  I have had some visions that it goes very well.  Let's hope that it does and I don't embarrass myself in front of everyone.

Daphne turned eighteen.  I am now the mother of a legal adult!  It seems crazy to think that she is going to be going to college in the fall.  She has already chosen her college and spent the night there for an admitted student weekend.  She is excited for this next step in her life and we are as well.  I am trying to remain supportive and yet I'm a little freaked out at the same time.  On her birthday I went up to random people at work to ask if I looked older.  "Do I have any extra wrinkles?  Do you see any extra grey hairs?"  These are questions I asked people.  Other than thinking that perhaps I had lost a couple more marbles, everyone seemed to think I looked the same age as I was the day before.

This last Saturday we had her family birthday party.  (Disclaimer:  It is about to be revealed to you exactly how I became the way I am.)  We had the party at a local pizza parlor and invited the usual cast of characters.  My in-laws and my side of the family which consists of my grandma, dad, two aunts, an uncle, and one cousin for this particular party.  There was a room set up with one long table with enough chairs to accommodate everyone invited.  We (my husband and children and I) strategically scattered ourselves among the seating so as to be able to socialize with the guests instead of just each other.  My grandma and my uncle were the first to arrive.  My grandma promptly proclaims that she must sit in the booth off to the side because of her back.  So she sits there and my uncle sits with her.  As everyone arrived people said hello and I noticed the most ridiculous thing was happening.  My in-laws all came to sit with us and everyone from my side of the family squeezed around that small table where grandma had perched herself, grabbing chairs and sitting over there and not socializing with anyone but each other through the entire party.  Not even the birthday girl was acknowledged aside from a hello and happy birthday.  When I realized what was happening, I started giggling at the craziness of the situation I found us in.

Through the entire party they spoke to only each other and didn't intermingle at all until they were leaving at which point they told everyone goodbye and left before we had all the cupcakes passed out.  It is at times like this I wonder why we bother.  At what point do we just give up and say, "you know what, I don't think it's worth it."  I thought back to our wedding.  I distinctly remember lighting the unity candle that united our families making us one big family and yet...that is not what I witnessed at this party.  If anything I felt as though I had just witnessed a family reunion that we weren't allowed to participate in.  As mentioned before we had plenty of seating at the large table that was set up for everyone. You know...the cupcakes were pretty good.  I'm sorry they missed out.

Today is the first day of Spring Break for us.  In case your children are in need of shots for school, I should tell you that the first day of Spring Break is a great time to get shots.  Everyone is gone and it is nothing to get in and get out. 

We started the morning with this statement from me to them:  "Listen guys, there is a lot of work that needs to happen in this house this week and we all need to help."   To which Daphne responded with, "Yeah you have fun with that I'm working every day."  I looked at Scotty and said, "You really need to work on your room."  He said, "Yeah I was thinking about that and I think you should buy me another laundry basket."  "Why do you need another laundry basket?"  "So I can get the dirty laundry off of my floor."  "But you could just go down and get your clean laundry that is in your current basket and put it away so you can put your dirty laundry in it."  "No I don't like that idea.  I think we should do my plan."  "No, just no.  Go down and get your clean laundry and bring it up and put it away."  And so it went.  At this point I'm not sure what I've done to get these children to be so silly.  (Wait don't answer that!  I just remembered I'm their mom.  Message received.)  But I did get Daphne and Megan to do some chores today and Scotty did end up seeing things my way and put his laundry away.  He says it's my fault that he is behind because I keep doing laundry.  Something tells me that he is going to have my logic when it comes to certain things and I can't decide whether to be frightened or proud.  I'm leaning toward proud.  Heaven help us all!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter, Treadmills, and Kevin James

This has been a hard winter.  The weather has been far more winter-like than I enjoy.  Subzero temps and so much snow that I almost long for the color green.  With the loss of Linus adding to the hardship of the winter it is safe to say that we are ready for spring to arrive. 

We have missed a great deal of school due to the weather and when we get these unexpected days off we tend to spend them watching movies and reading books.  Yesterday we had one of these days and as I woke up, I thought of how I had sat much of the last three days due to the weather and not being able to get out. It occurred to me that perhaps my muscles and bones were starting to atrophy.  I decided to get up and get on the treadmill to get some exercise.  It has been quite some time since I exercised, so I started out on level two.  I started out pretty strong for being so weak.  But then I started feeling quite weak. 

I was walking up and down small inclines and thinking how useful it would be when we take our trip to the sandy beaches this year.  I was encouraging myself that this was good to be exercising my muscles this way when ...I started feeling a bit nauseous and light headed.  I had five minutes left and I was not going to make it.  My thoughts then turned to whether I would throw up or pass out first.  I stopped it and got off and sat down (if I insert here that I sat on the Bowflex do I get extra exercise points?).  My son brought me water, asked if I was going to be ok, and then got back to the business of Minecraft.  As I am trying to cool myself off and considering if this is in fact what it means to be a heart attack waiting to happen the phone rings.

I pull myself to standing and walk slanted to answer the phone.  It was a woman wanting to set up an appointment with my husband and me.  As the room was currently spinning and I was noticing the amount of sweat pooling on my back I informed her that I was going to need a minute as she caught me figuring out that I was in fact alarmingly out of shape and that I was having flash backs to every Kevin James movie I'd ever seen when he had to do any physical activity ever.  I checked the calendar made the appointment and got off the phone.

It was at this point that my eldest daughter came downstairs and I informed her that I was a heart attack waiting to happen and that she gets the exact amount of exercise I do so she may be too.  I then told her to go get on the treadmill.  She declined and went after some Frosted Flakes for breakfast.  I went after some oatmeal because....fiber.  I also used a packet instead of making it myself from the large container so who are we kidding here, I wasn't going for completely full.  I also worked on drinking my bottle of water, also known as the stuff that saves you when you are having a breakdown on a treadmill, also you needs water.  So I'm having breakfast and trying to convince her to exercise with me and she says she can't because she has to work that night and she needs to be able to move.  When she finished breakfast she promptly when upstairs to shower and get ready for the work she had coming in seven hours. 

I finished breakfast and soon went to finish my last five minutes on the treadmill.  After which I did a couple of things on the Bowflex and a few crunches.  Later when I talked to a friend on the phone I told her about my exercise adventure.  I also told her that someone had once again asked me to go to zumba.  I told her that there was no way I'd be able to keep up in a zumba class if I can't finish thirty minutes on a treadmill and while I knew that in schools they have defibrillators in many hallways I had never seen one in the church where these zumba classes take place.

I had very good thoughts about getting started on physical fitness this year.  Those thoughts were trumped by Ben and Jerry's and the fact that everyone sends us fudge for Christmas and I eat when I'm sad.  It's a starting point this last adventure on the treadmill though.  I may get introduced as the fat cousin at my cousin's wedding this next month but I think that is OK.  Everyone should be looking at the bride anyway.  Plus it would be a shame to be dieting when we go to the wedding.  Rumor has it they are having a dessert bar and who wants to miss out on that?  That being said I think we have more snow coming and there is a very good chance that we are not finished with the unexpected days off from school.  Perhaps instead of spending the entire time sitting and reading two books this next time I'll read a bit while I walk on the treadmill.  Even more sad than missing out on the dessert bar is being wildly out of shape and not being willing to make a change.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Day Gone Bad and a Goodbye to Linus

There are days in this life that we wish we could get a do over.  It is not yet five on a Monday morning and I am wishing it were Sunday so I could restart that day and try again.  And yet I'm not sure what I could have done differently other than not opening my front door.

A simple act really.  Just opening the door to let my cat out so that he can get some fresh air and stretch after napping on the couch beside me most of the afternoon.  But this one act would set a course for the day that I'm not sure reveals the best of me.  Perhaps only revealing my cowardice.

A stray dog that looked to have some pit bull in him was at my front door earlier in the day.  I had only noticed him when my son's friend came over to play.  I told the dog to go home.  He didn't and stuck around.  I posted on facebook asking for anyone who might know the owner.  He stood on my porch shaking and howling before disappearing.  I didn't see him.  I thought he had run off in search of home, although I venture a guess that he had no home or not one that wanted him back as he looked hungry and was not wearing a collar.

My cats are indoor/outdoor cats.  They like to come in and rest but they also like to go out and play and feel the fresh air and roam around the yard.  This had never been a problem before.  The number of times I have opened my door to let cats in or out are too numerous to count.  It would be like trying to number the stars.

Close to ten years ago my mother lost her battle to cancer on a July evening during a lightening storm.  The following April on Easter my cat Lucy was found having been hit by a car.  We had had Lucy for four years.  We got her as a kitten and she was our cat Gabby's best friend after she decided to let her stay.  Gabby was not happy about the addition to our family at first.  Lucy was a great mouser and when I was pregnant with my son both she and Gabby followed me everywhere guarding me even if I went to the restroom.  When she died we were devastated and it only compounded our grief over losing my mom.

My husband not one to want us to be hurt took us to a coworker's home a couple months later and let us pick out a kitten from her litter.  We sat among the kittens and Linus was ours from the moment I first held him.  Linus we were told was a girl.  Which is when our adventures with Linus began.  We named "her" Lilly and took "her" home.  When I took "her" to the vet you can imagine their surprise that we had named this cat Lilly.  As it  turned out Lilly had testicles and was a boy.  Linus had long hair and we never looked for ourselves.  I then had to come up with another L name on the spot and Linus' identity crises ended.

Linus has been with us since 2005.  He quickly became my buddy.  He liked to be where I was.  Often sleeping at the foot of my bed or sleeping on my favorite white couch beside me.  Sometimes he would lay on my kitchen counter in front of the window and when we told him to get down he would look at us like he had no idea what our problem was.  One evening I even found him investigating the washer and dryer.  He was so funny and full of life which he helped to breathe into us after suffering a few tough losses.

I opened my front door.  I stood there at the door to make sure he didn't want to come back inside.  Then I noticed he was looking at something and his hair started sticking straight up.  I turned to see the stray coming out of the igloo we keep on our porch for the cats.  I told him to come back inside but he wouldn't, his eyes fixed on the dog.  I told the dog to go.  The the cat jumped and bounced out off the side of the house and took off to the neighbor's house with the dog chasing him.  I tried to find a number for help but I couldn't see straight.  I grabbed my shoes and ran to get a baseball bat and took off to find my cat at the neighbor's house being circled by the dog.  I rang the doorbell and asked for help.  The came out to help and the dog attacked.  I hit the dog on the back with the bat but he wouldn't let go.  Eventually we got them separated and I got my carrier and we got Linus in it and carried home.  The neighbors got the dog tied up and called for someone to come take the dog away.

We kept him in the carrier until my husband got home and we took him to the vet.  Linus was in shock and cold.  We warmed him up and gave him pain meds and well...they tried everything they could but only Jesus could save him.  So He took him home.

Our four legged friends become a part of our families.  Often times they are like one of the kids or one of our closest confidants.  That is what Linus was for us.  I imagine what it is like for him in Heaven.  Running around with Lucy even though they never met and driving my mother crazy.  The sadness we feel over the loss of him is like a hole is inside us and it won't close or perhaps like being punched so hard and the ache just won't go away.

If only I hadn't opened the door.  If only I had called to have someone take the dog earlier in the day.  I kept thinking maybe someone would claim him.  I kept thinking if I call and have him taken away they may kill him.  I didn't want to end him I only wanted him to go away and I thought eventually he would, that he had.  And for this moment and for this week I am going to wish I had called and wish I could have shot that dog the moment I opened the door.  I'm going to wish I had ended the dog and my cat were still here to lay on the couch beside me and follow me upstairs and lay in my closet.  This week in my grieving I am not going to feel sympathy for the dog who killed my cat, my friend, my four legged kid, my confidant.  And yet even as I type that I know that even if I did have a gun, I'm not sure I could have just shot the dog when I opened the door and what does that say about me?

 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…  Those passages from Matthew are what I cling to.  I will continue to go to my Father and seek his comfort and peace.  Please pray for us. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Applebee's and Seinfeld

We were recently snowed in for a week making our Christmas vacation from school three weeks off instead of the customary two.  While I am not a fan of snow in any amount I am a fan of a three week break.  Telling myself each day that the days off were God's way of telling me He loves me best.  The first three days were golden and while the final two days were equally as pleasing I had started to resign myself to the fact that we were never going to leave the house again.

My husband being in the line of work he is in had to go to work no matter what level of travel status we were.  I will be honest here and tell you that there were days we just stayed in our pajamas.  Other days we just hung out in sweats.  My hair was never styled and my make up never put on.  For what purpose would they have served?  If you can't relax and be real with the people in your house then who can you?  Laundry was done, meals were prepared and a great deal of movies were watched and some intense games of Scrabble were played.  I found myself in a place of contentment that told me that I could stay that way forever.  We were living in a frozen tundra what did we need to leave for?  My husband could bring home supplies.  We never had to leave again.  We would go through our lives as hermits and that was that.

Until Friday after lunch husband deemed it safe to take our son and his friend sledding.  He was off work for the day and couldn't wait to take the boys to have some fun.  I stayed behind with the girls.  One of my girls has a part time job and had to go to work later in the afternoon so we were staying behind so she could get ready and my other daughter and I could well much of what we had been doing for three weeks...sit and relax.

When my husband returned he as well as my daughter (the one who did not have to go to work heretofore to be referred to as the traitor) decided we would all be venturing out.  Sticking a monkey wrench into my hermit lifestyle plans.  It is an interesting thing to go out when you have been in for a week.  Mind you I had stepped onto the porch but that is as far as I had gone.  After all everyone has to have snow cream sometimes right?  But we went out out.  Out of the house, into the car, and onto the road not just venturing out of the house but into town.  It was an odd feeling.  The air was so fresh.  We took our oldest to work and then asked Megan where she wanted to go.

We ended up at Kohl's where we bought nothing.  Then we went to Hobby Lobby where we bought nothing but found so many things we wanted.  We ended at the restaurant that no one wants to go to alone and apparently everyone in the county decided to go to also, Applebee's.  We walked into a crowd resembling the Tickle Me Elmo fiasco of the 90's.  I walked up to the hostess to give her my name and she directed me to another hostess to put my name on her list first.  This has never happened at any time to us when we have gone here.  All of a sudden I'm in an episode of Seinfeld.

Megan and I stayed to wait out the 20-25 minutes is was supposed to take to get seated while the boys went to look at an electronics store.  So I look at Megan and say, "Two lists?  Why are there two lists?  Do we have to make our way up the first list to get onto the other list?  Are they even communicating with each other?  Do they have walkies?  Is it 20-25 minutes to get seated or just to make it onto the list inside the restaurant?"  Megan looks up at me and says, "I don't know."  "You don't know?  Hey! I see someone I know.  I think I'll go ask her, she was here before us."  I then get a glare and "Sure just leave me here alone."  "Fine I'll stay here but don't you have questions?"  "No."  She says.  So I stand there contemplating what is happening.  Watching the people come in and not once watching the hostesses communicate with each other.  My daughter sees an opening on the bench and we go sit down.

"Seriously?  Have you seen them talk to each other?  We've been here almost a half an hour.  Two lists!  What is this New York?  Why do they need two lists?"  A blank stare.  "Well I'm going to go up and ask where we are."  I go up to the hostess.  "Excuse me can you tell me where we are on the list?  Heather party of four?"  She responds with, "Which person did you give your name to me or the other lady."  "The other lady." (I knew there was a problem with this system.)  She looks up and down the list and finally finds us.  She points and say, "Well you are here and I am right up here."  I retreat to my seat.  "You are here?  What is she a map of the mall?  Time?  I need to know a time!  How much longer?  That was the question."  All things that I am saying in my head of course at this point because Megan apparently doesn't realize we are in the middle of a Seinfeld episode in my mind.

When we finally get seated I tell my husband about being in a Seinfeld episode.  He smiled indulgently at me and by the time our food arrives nothing else exists.  A meal provided by someone who isn't me is a beautiful thing to all of us.  After dinner we walked the dying mall and it does not occur to me that I have left my umbrella in the restaurant until it is time to go home.  When I arrived I noticed they are still just as busy because like I said EVERYONE in the county decided to go to Applebee's after a long winter's nap.  I retrieve my umbrella and find people I know.  I stopped to say hello and then asked if they were going with the two lists thing.  They replied that they were and I went into my bit.  They smiled...apparently I'm the only one who thought it was like being in a Seinfeld episode.

Now that I can see the road and see the grass outside.  I can't help but wonder if my attitude about leaving the house this last week was a wake up call.  Now that I'm free to leave of my own volition I can see how I can get sucked into the mentality that I never have to move again from the comfort and confines of my own home.  While I did take a break and enjoy time with my family is that enough?  I communicated very little with the outside world and I was happy.  This is a frightening thought.  How can you make a difference if you settle in?  How can you share the love of Jesus if you aren't communicating with anyone except the people in your house?  While I believe that everything starts at home it is only when we branch out that we can change. I didn't write one word while on my break and maybe I could have gone the rest of my life never writing again.  Just sitting on my couch watching the world go by without me.  But then I wouldn't be able to make a difference at all in the world and you can't do that without going out into the world or at least writing to them.
So now that the deep freeze is over and Applebee's is hopefully back to normal we are going out.  We are venturing into town and looking at the world around us.  Noticing the Seinfeld bits that are waiting to happen in restaurants and I'm back to the laptop to share our stories and taking a break from my break on my favorite couch.  Stay tuned.