Sunday, November 29, 2015

Changes come round real soon...

Can you think of nothing?  Just sit and shut the mind off.  I can't do it.  I'm incapable of not thinking.  Oh how I wish I could.  Tonight we went to my uncle's house for a Thanksgiving dinner.  We haven't had Thanksgiving with my mother's side of the family for at least a decade.  I took apple salad without the pecans that my grandma put in when she made it.  She would sit and chop them by hand with a knife.  So many memories.

The hands of time...the entire family dynamic has changed.  It looks nothing like it did when I was growing up.  It's OK, there is just a slightly different group of people who don't know a lot about each other who gather to and love each other and eat until they are half sick.  We ARE an American family  even if we are far off from where we once were.  Every Sunday of my childhood my entire family would gather at my grandma's for lunch.  Now grandma is gone, mom is gone, both aunts are gone, and I have two uncles I know nothing about.  This year it was my uncle who was married to my aunt for over twenty years before she died, his new wife, her daughter, his three kids and their families from his previous marriage before my aunt, one of my cousins from my aunt and her kids, my other cousin's daughter who flew in from Florida, and us.

On Thanksgiving we had lunch with my husband's family, then went to see my dad's side of the family. I suppose you could say that we have made the rounds to see the family this year.

We are moving.  And by moving I don't mean to just another house in the same general vicinity as where we live now.  No, we are moving four states away.  While I am excited about our new adventure, I am also completely overwhelmed by logistics and to do lists.  I haven't moved in 15 years.  I know exactly 7 people in this new state.  I know this is going to sound crazy but I'm afraid I will go take a walk once we move and get lost and not know how to get back to the house.  Then what?  What if I don't remember the address?  I can't remember the make of the car I drive half the time and I've had that car for well over a year.  This is a move we have dreamed about for ten or so years and didn't know when or how it would ever happen and I'm worried I will get lost if I take a walk.  It's ridiculous.  I get that.

There is also the part where I am going to miss my job.  I love my job so much.  It's the best gig if you can get it.  Third graders are hilarious.  Plus, the people I work with, for the most part, well...they get me. They accept my silliness.  

Then there is the friends thing.  I mean as I said I know seven people in this new state.  I have several friends here.  I'm kind of an acquired taste.  I mean do they speak sarcasm there?  Will they get my movie quotes?  Will they accept my singing in church, not in the front but at my seat, even though I am really bad at it?  Family is required to love you but strangers not so much.

What of the children?  My son is going to go to another school.  He is very likable.  If he takes up a new sport like lacrosse are there people who will explain to me how that game works?  If he makes so many friends he is rarely home, will he remember how to get back to the house?  Will my girls ever leave the house?

An example of how I can't just think about nothing:

I am moving, my grandma on my dad's side is in the hospital she is not doing well, I have blood work Monday I have to remember to go take care of, I have a procedure on the eleventh, I need more boxes, I have more Christmas shopping to do but I don't know when to do it, how do you move medical records to a new doctor if you don't have a new doctor yet?, will another school hire me, how can I make this move easiest on my family?, How can we get there in the car without my oldest getting car sick?, How is my aunt doing taking care of everything for my grandma?, Why is she left to take care of everything all the time?  It's ridiculous that her siblings don't do more to help her out, they are all retired, she works full time.  I wonder if the schools down there hire you full time or part time?  I wish mom were here. Speaking of mom, some kids at school call me mama, or ma, or mamacita, how will they do when I leave?  Who will love them and take care of them?  Will they remember me once I leave?  Who will hug the nurse on Thursdays when she comes to school?  Who will close the milk cooler at lunch?  Who will randomly give the secretary cheesy smiles?  Speaking of cheese where to do you go to buy groceries?  If I wrote another book, what would I call it?

That was just a small sampling of the things that run through my mind at any given moment.

I don't know how all this works out.  All I know is that I'm full of questions but confident there are answers and God holds them all.  So if you wouldn't mind so much, I would appreciate your prayers for all of the changes for our family, but mostly for my grandma and my aunt who does the brunt of the work to make sure she is taken care of.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Don't Die Wonderin', Man

In the car this week my husband and I were talking about changes.  Things that have changed and things that for the most part have stayed the same.  My husband graduated from college and went to work in his field of study.  He has worked in more than one location in the last twenty years but the most recent location has been a fifteen years stint. The man has staying power.

I graduated from college twice with different associate degree then went into the business of planning my wedding.  I got married and got pregnant almost immediately after the reception.  OK it was a month later but still.  It was an "OH so that's where babies come from moment."  Protection EVERY time.  Got it!  I have an associate degree in medical assisting and an associate degree in marketing. To be completely fair while I haven't received a paycheck I have technically been working in my fields of study the entire time.  I can kiss boo boos and have garage sales with the best of them.

In the course of the conversation though he said that I was....what was it...a walking news reel?  I have done many different jobs.  Let's see...I have worked retail, medical assisting at an urgent care facility, I made jewelry and wanted to start my own line, visual at a department store, did in home parties and sold lingerie, bank teller, real estate, worked at two preschools, wrote two books, and currently work at an elementary school which is my longest stint yet with it being four years in a row. I have also worked with five teachers two of them being long term subs and a slew of other subs.  In all honesty I never thought too much about it. OH!  I almost forgot my stint working at a bridal shop.

I think today I had a breakthrough.  My husband was saying that he couldn't change things as easily as I have.  I think a great part of that is because I have him.  He is very stable and amazingly supportive.  He was saying something interesting though.  I told him that the reason behind all of that is because I never really figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I come up with something or get an idea and I throw my chips in the middle of the table and go for it.

Breakthrough time:  I might be a genius.  Maybe it's not that I am a flake, maybe it's that ... I have to to do it, I have to quote The Way Way Back here because maybe its a "Don't die wonderin' man" way I'm living my life.  I don't want to die wondering what if.  Let's be real here.  I am not a New York Times best selling author.  I make literally about $40 a year in books.  I don't have my own line of jewelry and I never sold a single house as a realtor.  To be fair though in the greater scheme of things I was only a realtor for about 15 minutes.

Mostly I have been a stay at home mom.  I think that is what I am, with a few side projects.  A little job here, a little job there to make a little extra money for the family.  I work hard when I work and I rest very well when I'm not working at home.  I have one kid in college and another one that is getting ready to go in addition to one who is now in junior high.  I have a household to run, band concerts and orchestra concerts and pep band games to attend. I have sporting events to attend. I have permission slips to sign, I have birthday parties to plan, I have dinner to prepare, and groceries to buy.  I have a house for sale.  I have a few things going on and I have always had a few things going on around here.  So I suppose I never really thought about any of  my jobs and career changes.  Now that I think about it though, I guess I still don't.  When I feel like making jewelry I make something.  When I feel like writing, I write.  Maybe I won't get famous or rich but I won't "die wonderin' man."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It Was Yesterday

This morning I woke up before the rest of the family.  The house is silent aside from the dryer that I started because the laundry must go on.  There was a beautiful sunrise outside the window.  We've been so busy this week already that it is nice to enjoy the quiet.  We live in a small neighborhood south of a small town that has exactly one stoplight.  There are no wild parties here and rarely do you hear a train on the tracks down the road.  We know 95% of our neighbors and it is the kind of neighborhood where you can borrow an egg or even a can of soup and everyone is happy to help.  People walk their dogs, kids ride their bikes, and the tree in our front yard puts on quite the colorful display in the fall.  The tree is named Larry.  What?  You don't name your trees?  We also have a small tree named Oscar.  The kids, when they were very small, named them when they were planted.
This has been our home for fifteen years.  We have updated the flooring, we have added on, we have had parties here, we have said goodbye to family pets here.  As I sit here and look at the life spent here and the for sale sign in the yard I can't help but wonder why it hasn't sold.  We brought our third child home to this house.  The girls once took crayons and made big giant circles on the walls in the family room, so the entire house has been painted a few times as well.  So many memories...

The time got away from me. It was only a moment ago.  I'm sure I just blinked.  In the span of a blink I went from graduating college to taking not only my first child but my second child on college visits. In the time it took me to turn around they weren't little anymore they were graduating high school and planning their futures. In the space of a moment  I went from nursing my son and playing head, shoulders, knees and toes to him being taller than me and almost a teenager.  All I did was blink and they weren't babies anymore.

The time is goes so fast and yet so slow.  Funny how that works.  It seems to take forever to get somewhere and seconds to get back.  They couldn't wait to grow up and now they can't go back. There are so many things I should have done with them.  In a few short years they will be thrust out into the working world and the only things they know how to make are frozen pizza, mac n cheese, and only one of them can make a baked potato.  Will they starve?  Is high cholesterol in their future from processed food because they freaked out over raw meat every time I tried to get them to participate in making dinner?  Can they survive on those things and lunch meat sandwiches?  Does this make me a failure?  They were 5 years old and 4 years old and I blinked and they were 19 years old and 18 years old.  They were watching Blues Clues now they are watching YouTube.

It was yesterday and a lifetime ago.  I'm not sure what happens next week much less next year.  All I can do is enjoy the journey.  Pay attention to the now while still dreaming of the future.  See them as the teenagers they are and not wish it away lest they be 30 tomorrow and I miss it.  I can't wait to see God's plan for all of us.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Love. Is. A. Verb.

Love is a verb.  I can't seem to get that phrase out of my head.  I haven't been well.  Hopefully I will be feeling better soon.  Until then, I have to go see yet another doctor and have yet more tests. It's fine and I'm not too concerned, I'm mostly bored and frustrated that I cannot do the things that are part of my every day life.  I have no energy.  It's annoying.

I have had a lot of time to think.  I called my dad to ask him medical history questions.  It was an information gathering phone call.  The thing with my dad is...he is really busy.  He has a wife (not my mother), two step sons, one step daughter, and three step grandchildren.  Two of whom he babysits for every week day.  He doesn't call.  He doesn't visit.  He doesn't acknowledge birthdays or Christmas with us anymore.  It started as an experiment really.  I used to call.  Then I realized I always call.  Never does my phone ring and it's him.  It just doesn't happen.  So I thought to myself, I wonder if I don't call, how long it will take before he calls me.  The answer is 18 months.  Eighteen months until my husband invited him to breakfast.  A breakfast in which he said he didn't want to see me if I were going to give him a guilt trip.  I called and wished him a happy birthday and a happy father's day in June.  I didn't talk to him until I saw him in August when I helped to move my grandmother into an assisted living facility.  He was an hour late and he left without saying goodbye.  He had a soccer game to get to.  I'm not mad.  I'm disappointed.  So when I called to get medical history information he wanted to know what was wrong.  I told him and he seemed concerned in between telling me that he didn't understand and that he would call me and he would try to come see me.  It's funny really how empty words can be.

Love is a verb.  It requires action.  I don't mean big grand gestures.  Love is in the everyday.  Love is in the three word text.  Love is in a phone call.  Love is in lunch.  Love is a hug. Love is in movie choices.  Love is in small gestures.  Love can be found anywhere but it requires action.  Otherwise it is just a word.  A word no more interesting or relevant to anything than the word pepperoni.

I'm prepared to take it a step forward.  Let's connect the dots.  1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God; because God is love."  And if we believe that God is love then we have faith in God.  And if we have faith in God then action is required.  James 2: 14-26 says "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."  Do you see it?  Have you connected the dots?

Love is a verb.  It's more than a feeling of adoration although it is certainly that as well.  It's more than an attraction.  It's more than what is seen on a movie screen.  It requires action, not empty promises like, "Hey we should get coffee sometime." or "Hey I'll call you."  and then you never do.  I get it.  Life is busy.  I am busy when I'm not told I have to rest by medical professionals.  Which actually may be part of my problem and why I'm being forced to slow down.  It makes sense.  I get being busy but without relationships what do we have?  Facebook?  Facebook is a joke.  Don't get me wrong I'm as hooked on that blue icon as anyone but what if we weren't.  What if that weren't our only means of communication?  You don't like to call?  Text.  You don't have texting?  Stop by.  Whatever it is we must have human connection or what are we doing here?  What purpose do we serve?

I'm the phone call person.  I make the call.  If I want to do anything I'm the one who calls.  Sometimes people take me up on my offer of a movie or a coffee or lunch, sometimes they don't.  But one person cannot be the only person who makes the calls.  Eventually someone else has to make a call because the person always making the calls is going to get tired.  They are going to get tired and they might just have an awakening.  What if I don't make the call?  What if I'm they just aren't interested?  What if they just don't care?  What if I'm just not loved?  And who wants that?  Whether it is true or not true the devil seeks to destroy.  He hates relationships.  He wants nothing more than get in there when you are down and make you think things that just aren't true.  Frankly if I'm not loved by someone I just don't want to know.  I prefer to just love my family and friends blindly.  You don't like it?  Fine ok, but you cannot change who I am.  If you don't want to be a part of my life I can take a hint.  Don't talk to me for about 18 months, I will catch on.  It won't change my behavior though.  Oh I'll leave you alone.  But I will most certainly pray for a change.  I will pray and I will love until my last breath because love is a verb, and while some things are not in my power to change, I'm the daughter of a king.  I serve an awesome God and he is a great dad and a great friend.

Love is a verb.  Pepperoni is pepperoni.  God doesn't stop being God just because you don't believe or you don't act.  Pepperoni doesn't stop being pepperoni just because you don't eat it.  The difference is Love requires action.  That's it.  That's what I've come up with.  Months of not writing. Months of waiting for the words to come.  This is what I've got.  Love one another.  Act.  Call. Text. Show up.  For the love of all that is holy do not let the younger generation think that they are ok just sitting in front of a screen because they can talk to people there.  It's just not right. Make the kids go outside to play.  Do not let your daughter go on a a date with a boy who asks over a screen.  Human interaction.  It's a good thing.  Pass it on.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Mother's' Day Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

In the Bible it says that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.  It seems hard to fathom that except on days like today.  Today, Mother's Day, I think I can almost catch a glimpse of what that must be like.  Can it really be my tenth Mother's Day without you?  How is it possible that the earth still rotates around the sun?  The passage of time seems to have come and gone in an instant.  I can still see you in my mind as clearly today as I could then.  If I close my eyes I can see your smile, I can feel your embrace, I can see you sitting at the table with your coffee in front of you chewing on your pinky finger, I can see you driving me in your car and hear you asking me, "What do you want to do now Kong?"  It was only a moment ago and yet...

I realize this morning how close we are to July.  How in two short months my birthday will be here and my heart will sink.  All I will be able to think of is how helpless I felt not being able to help you.  How in that instance and so many others, I was reminded that I have no control.  I have to relinquish all of it to God and allow him to not only help you but to help me too.  How can it be that it will be eleven years since you went home to be with our Lord?  Ten years of Mother's Day's come and gone.  Eleven years of raising kids come and gone.

So yes, it feels today as though all those years were just a day ago.  A moment has passed and you aren't here and my kids are almost grown and you weren't here to witness it.  I haven't been able to call you while making dinner.  I haven't been able to see you laugh at my struggle with teenage girls. I haven't been able to watch your relationship with them grow as they have grown. All of these things make me sad for what could have been had Cancer not entered our lives.

I feel sad for what might have been, what maybe should have been but then I realize that a moment ago is almost eleven years ago and while you were with God, God was also with me.  I may not have my mother here but I am a mother.  I'm not alone anymore now than I was when you left.  How could I be?  This morning my children brought me breakfast in bed, they gave me a card and sang me a song.  My husband gave me a short back rub and told me he loved me before going to work.  When I go downstairs there will be the "Hallway of Mother's Day" that the children create every year with signs of love and pictures they drew even after all of these years.

It is funny the passage of time.  The tears may come later but the healing that God provides is fresh every morning.  The writing helps.  The thought that even though you aren't here with me that maybe you get the messages I send out into the great unknown void.  No you aren't here in flesh but I see you when I look at my middle child.  Sometimes I look at her and I see you as you were in pictures as a younger girl.  I hear you in the things that my oldest says.  I think of you when I see my son and think of how great of a young man he turned out to be and how terrified we both were that I was having a boy.  There was nothing to be scared of, of course, he is so much like his dad and you thought he was the best guy ever.  I used to joke that you would have traded me for him any day of the week.  You would have thought the same of our son.

Your memory surrounds me and they are the good memories.  The memories of good times had.  The memory of a mother who was always there no matter how tired she was.  The memory of a mother who worked hard and instilled a good work ethic that I hope I have passed on to my own children.  These are the thoughts of a healing heart.  The heart protected by a loving God who knows my hurt.  For that I am thankful.  I love you mom.  I miss you every day.  Enjoy your Mother's Day in Heaven.  I may not be able to shower you with gifts but I have a feeling that spending your day in paradise with the King of all creation is better than what I could provide.  Plus I prayed that He would give you a hug from me.  My bases are covered.

Thank you for being my mom, for loving me and my family.



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Life is a Roller Coaster/ Twenty years later

It was a beautiful day this day twenty years ago.  I had spent the night at my grandparents' house.  I had so much to do to get ready and I was full of anticipation.  I had to get my hair and my make up done.  I had to get dressed and I had to be at the church before anyone else for pictures.  

My dress was the dress of fairy tales.  Cinderella herself would have been envious of this dress.  Off the shoulders with long sleeves, cinched in waist and a full skirt, this dress was exquisite.  It was the first one I tried on.  I tried on others of course, but I had to have this one.  It was perfection in satin and lace.

At the church I was closed up in a room for so long I thought I might wet myself.  I had to go and I couldn't leave the room.  Potty chairs are useful and when your mother in law is the one to help make that happen, you know you've picked the right family.  My shoes were pinching my toes, I was getting overheated, and hungry and all I wanted to do was to see him, to find the one whose eyes could calm me.

I ended up wearing Keds down the aisle that day.  The heels only made it for the pictures.  When I saw him at the end of the aisle, I knew that nothing else mattered.  As long as I didn't pass out from the heat in the most beautiful dress ever made, the adventure, the hills, the valleys, the mountains, and the pits, all of it would be OK.  He was there.  He wasn't late, He didn't call and cancel.  he was like no other man in existence, in my world anyway.  He was a shower upper...he still is.  He shows up.  He shows up for me, he shows up for our kids, he just shows up.  I didn't grow up like that.  I grew up with cancellations and excuses.

It's not always been perfect, because nothing ever is, but it has always been worth it.  In good times and bad, sickness and health, losses too many to count, many bouts of depression, included the one no one thought I'd come back from.  There is no one else I would want by my side.  Twenty years of doing life with me cannot be easy.  All I can say is that it sure hasn't been boring.

I love this man more than the sum of all the stars in the sky. He gave me a family when I wasn't even sure I wanted one.  He showed me that sometimes people show up...sometimes whether you like it or not, whether you are worthy or not, whether you believe it or not, people will show up and love you.

 Life is a roller coaster and I picked the best partner for the ride. I can't wait to see what the next twenty looks like.