Category Archives: family

Shaking My Head Again

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Shaking my head again…there are just things that happen that can’t be explained.  The care God and others have over my son is one of them. Yesterday, we were at our river house. The river was high and muddy from some recent rain so my husband and I decided to do some inside maintenance. He assembled bunk beds while I read a good book, but I was only an arm’s length away if he required assistance. (Which he did only once or twice for a couple of minutes.) But anyway, we were inside “working” while Paul was fishing on the dock. That boy loves to fish! He has spent hours this summer with a pole in his hand and a smile on his face.

Right as my husband was assembling Step 7A bolt into step 7A nut as listed on the IKEA instructions, Paul came in and stands at the bedroom door soaking wet.  After my initial, “Move! You’re making a puddle and I’ll slip and fall!” it dawned on me that my kid had been in the swift river.

“What?!”

Paul calmly says, “Let’s start with the good news. I’m safe and I got my chair but the bad news is that I lost my travel mug and ball cap.”

“What?!”

While he was standing on the dock, his chair blew into the water, he jumped in sans life jacket to retrieve it. He was quickly swept away with his chair in his hands (hard to swim when you are grasping your favorite fishing chair.) He realized he wasn’t going to be able to swim back to our dock so he floated downstream and got out at a neighbor’s dock. Aaaaah. Safe. Another disaster thwarted.

“Thank God you are safe. You have angels looking over you all the time buddy, do you realize that?”

“Yeah, but that was my favorite hat. Uncle Gary gave it to me last year from his work and he won’t be able to get another one since the plant closed.”

“Let’s focus on the good stuff. You are safe.”

“And my mug. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use on the bus and I was going to take it to camp this week. Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.” (I love loaning my stuff to the kid who as you can see takes incredibly good care of all of his belongings. Insert sarcasm here.) Remember, you are very lucky! You are safe!”

“I know, but I think I’ll pout a while about the hat and mug.”

Oh, brother. I return to assisting George when I hear Paul talking to someone in the yard. I go out to see a man handing Paul his missing hat and mug. It seems this man was fishing on his dock about 1/2 mile downstream when the hat and mug floated by. He “wasn’t going to risk his life to go after it, but it went right by his dock” so he grabbed it. Paul’s fishing license was still attached and he said, “Well, I know where this kid lives.” Of course he does! Everyone knows Paul.

Our river house sits on a 1 mile stretch of the river with houses, camps, and campsites 3 deep in some places. We know very few of our neighbors, but the whole stretch knows Paul. Probably from a previous rescue mission.

After the bunk beds were completed, George and I took a bike ride. We left Paul to fish (with a life vest on!) and we took a little ride. On the way back a neighbor about 5 houses away called out to us for a visit. We stopped by and shared our most recent Paul story. John and his wife Chris have many of their own Paul stories. John started sharing some of his experiences with another couple that was there. We laughed. It’s always easy to laugh at these tales after time. (Not so easy to laugh while they are occurring.) John said, “Paul is going to be all right. He’s a survivor.” I commented that he will survive, but will his parents? We shouted out our appreciation to John for friending Paul and that it “takes a village.”

George admitted that a good sense of humor helps. As we were leaving, the new guy said, “I never met him, but I know I’d love him.” Shaking my head and smiling, I was assured of two things. He will get to meet him and he will love him. Everyone does.

As Paul ages, his special needs do too. I think he will always require some aid from others. (Don’t we all?) As he nears 20 years of age, I’ve been struggling with letting go, but meeting the angels who look out for Paul helps. There are so many stories like today’s story. Not just the part of him being kept safe in the water, but the bonus gift of the returned hat.

Paul isn’t’ just surviving as the Maker of Earth watches over him, he is thriving. I think it’s time for this Mom to back up a bit, resign as the Mayor and just become part of the village. I can attest to how God has used the village in the past and I look forward to being a part of it.

This Villager, however, will be enforcing a Life Vest Ordinance more often!

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Filed under Big Kids, family, Life, Parenting, Trauma-mama, Uncategorized

Last Day!

IMG_4384Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day of elementary school.  Today was mine.  I volunteered at the end of the school year Luau and helped some kids make bookmarks out of paper clips and yarn. I treated myself to a SnoCone in the parking lot and I left at noon. I was talking with some moms early in the day about this being my last event there and wondered when it would hit me that I really wouldn’t be going back to the school. It hit me when I was leaving the building.  I had my hand on the door to leave and I saw the principal unloading boxes in the hall.  I thought about saying “good-bye” but thought I might tear up.  I didn’t want to cry.  What in the world would I cry about? I’m leaving this school building after volunteering there for 24 years! Yes, I have had kids in this building for 24 years. I wonder if it would’ve been so hard if I had only had one or two kids and had only been a part of that place for 7-10 years like most families.  Is this such a big deal because I have walked these halls for so long?

Or is it really a big deal at all?  Not really. It’s been kind of fun having seniority there.  I’ve had many opportunities to watch the 5th-grade band students perform their Christmas concert after only 3 months on their new instruments. It’s been fun attending Open House, Science Fairs, Literacy Nights and elementary basketball games. And, even though we joke about having to hear Hot Cross Buns played on the Recorder annually, today it feels like it will be something I miss. I left the building today and there is a good chance I won’t be going back. At this point, I don’t have hopes for grandchildren attending this school and I honestly don’t know if I’m a good enough aunt to really attend those concerts on their behalf. I have officially signed out of that building for the last time.

Maybe this post is a little premature.  My daughter still has one more day at that school.  There’s still a chance that I will have to go and pick up a forgotten clarinet or her extra tennis shoes. I may even find a library book under the couch that will need to be returned. There is just no way to know for sure.

 

When my daughter comes home from school tomorrow, I feel certain that she will have the confidence she needs to move on to the high school in the fall.  The question is, will I? Lord willing, we both will!

I’ll leave you with an oldie but a goodie:

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.     Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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I Hate This Shirt…or Do I?

IMG_4020OK, so you all know I’m a Mom and as much as I hate to admit it, I often do such stereotypical Mom things that I’m embarrassed.  My favorite commercial currently is the Progressive Insurance commercial and my favorite line is “Why is the door open? Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?” It just makes me smile to think that we all do share some of the same memories.  Today, though, I may have struck out some new ground of my own…or maybe not.  Do you other parents sometimes make things disappear in your house? Maybe it’s your kid’s cell phone that is overused and you just hide it under a newspaper for a while just to have some face to face conversation? Maybe you hide that last candy bar and say that they all must have been eaten? Do you ever pretend to NOT see the remote for the TV when they are looking in hopes that the kids will find something else to do for a bit? If you don’t, maybe you should give it a try. However, the above tricks of the trade in the parenting business are harmless, but my following confession may not be. Here we go…

Do you ever permanently make clothes disappear? The too short shorts? The too tight T-Shirt? The stained jersey? The handmade school spirit shirt? The one with a beer ad on it (that was “accidentally” worn to church?) and the ever-popular mismatched socks? Well, I do.

Today, the harmless T-Shirt that is pictured above almost met its’ demise. The threat was made the last time she wore it. “I am so sick of that shirt that the next time I see it in the laundry, I will make it disappear!” There is was today. Clean, fresh, appropriately crumpled in the laundry basket. I picked it up, began to fold it and realized that my chance was right there. I could cut it up and make a dust rag or I could throw it in the bag for the Salvation Army. With it in my hands, I paused and then I decided to fold it gently and put it on her pile of clean clothes to put away. What’s the big deal? What is so wrong with that shirt? It won’t fit forever. I’m sure she’ll decide to stop wearing it someday. Why on earth would that harmless shirt be something that I allow to upset me?

We are heading into the teen years. I will need all the help I can get and I need to work now on a relationship that will weather the real storms that we may face. This shirt cannot have the power to upset me and potentially cause a rift between my daughter and me. The next time I see her wear it proudly (which I am certain will be tomorrow when she sees it on the top of the pile,) I will say a prayer that we will be very careful in choosing our battles. I will be grateful for my healthy daughter and the blessing she is.

Now, I think I will go and let down that cuff on those jean shorts that I think are too short…I don’t think she’ll even notice.

Take a minute to be grateful for the battles you choose not to fight and also click on the commercial link above and have a laugh. I hope it makes you smile as much as it does me!

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                         –1 Thessalonians 5:18 

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A Community Mourns

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I woke today, just another day. Tuesday. I headed to Bible study, the chiropractor, took my mom to an appointment and went to the grocery store.  Everything pretty typical.  Just another day.  Yet, it wasn’t just another day.  It was a day that I was super aware of the gift of this day, of this time.

A family in our community lost their son/brother/grandson/nephew. A real tragedy.  A family of 6 became 5 overnight. In an instant, their world changed.  My world didn’t change…or did it? Today I mourned along with my entire hometown.  Everyone I know knows someone in this family & we would like to help, but unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We are at a loss, but we long to find something we can do. The town can think of little else and as we go about our “normal” day, we know that inside the walls of that home there are tears, hugs, and folks poring over photos of happier times. This family is surrounded by love and I have no doubt that they will survive, but right now they are in pain and the community wishes we could take the pain away.

Not having a better idea, I decided to buy some paper products and drop them off at their home. When I pulled into their driveway, I noticed their garage doors were open. I got out of my car with my packages and walked up to a garage full of drinks, cases of water, paper plates, jugs of juice, etc. I was struck by the overwhelming amount of items that people had been dropping off. I didn’t see a family member and I didn’t need to.  They know that people are heartbroken on their behalf because they would be hurting if it happened to any other family.  They would be the first ones there with gifts and prayers. No words can express our deepest sympathy and paper plates and cases of water can’t either, but maybe the love behind all of them will be felt and ease the burden a tiny bit.

Today was just another day, but as I went through my normal routine, I was aware that there is nothing normal for them.  They will need to figure out their new normal and it will take a long time, but from the looks of it, they will have enough paper plates and love to get them until that time.  Until then we will keep on praying.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”        2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”         Matthew 5:4

 

 

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Lenten Blessings

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I have had the privilege of hosting Wednesday evening suppers throughout Lent. Our community is pretty unique in that we celebrate Lent together among denominations.  So, on one Wednesday,  the Presbyterian pastor preaches at the Lutheran church, another one the Reformed Pastor will preach at the Methodist church, etc.  We all worship together and grow and learn with different congregations.  It was truly a blessing and as we head into Holy Week, we will have a few more opportunities to worship together.

This year, my husband and I decided to host supper before each service.  It has been a fun time to get together and socialize a bit before church.  It was a huge blessing for me.  And, speaking of blessings, I printed out a couple and made table tents of them so that they could be on display so if someone arrived late, they could say their own prayer before eating.  As the season progressed though, we started just holding up the printed cards and everyone prayed together. We used two different blessings.

The first one was handed down to me from my mother’s father. John Dunlap Wise.

Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the many blessings that are conferring us from day to day. Bless this food now to us. Watch over us and guide us through life, and at death, accept us. Amen.   I can hear his voice and his cadence as I pray it.

The second one I found online:

For food that stays our hunger, For rest that brings us ease, for homes where memories linger, we give our thanks for these. Amen.

They are great blessings to share. Happy Easter!

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A Funk Buster!

IMG_3353Yesterday I was in a funk.  No doubt about it.  Today I looked up the word “funk” and found out its’ synonym is depression.  Woah, that’s heavy.  But, yesterday I was in a funk and it just felt heavy for no real reason.  Plenty on my mind, but nothing terribly pressing.  I just sat and went deeper and deeper into my funk.  I played games on my phone, watched junk TV and ate an entire bag of potato chips.  At an event last night (an eating event where we sampled foods from different countries,) I shared with some Moms that I had eaten an entire bag of chips.  Then I did the math.  170 calories per serving, 7 servings per container equals 1190 calories!  I quickly admitted that I was growing sick towards the end of the bag and didn’t finish about 1/2 serving so they allowed me to deduct some calories.  OK, so I will have to sit with the fact that I consumed 1105 calories worth of Baked Sweet Potato Chips. (A healthier alternative to regular potato chips if you eat less than the entire bag!)

Regardless, the chips didn’t cheer me up. Being entertained by mindless television didn’t lift my spirits and playing Sodoku on my phone did not make me a genius. I went to bed discouraged and dissatisfied. However, I also went to bed with the resolve that today was going to be a much better day.  Before going to bed early to get adequate sleep, I deleted the games on my phone, I laid out my clothes for the day, I sat out a lemon to start my day with a cup of hot lemon water and I changed my attitude.

I woke early after a good nights’ sleep and began my morning routine.  Cup of Lemon Water (I prefer tea, but started the day off healthy!) & headed to my Bible.  Maybe that’s where the funk came from.  Maybe I haven’t been spending as much time in the Word. Where should I begin? I decided to employ a technique I learned a while ago to just read a chapter in Proverbs based on the date.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so you can just pick one and start reading.  (Yes, I know it’s like that old joke where you randomly open the Bible and put your finger on a passage and do what it says with sometimes scary results.)  But, this method would give me a place to begin.

Proverbs 23:1,2

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

Are you kidding me?! I can’t make this stuff up.  Seriously?! After sharing my eaten bag of chips story with the Moms at the event, with my daughter on the phone, with my Mom during a visit, with a friend in a text the first scripture I read for the day is “..and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony?”

Needless to say, I read the entire chapter, wrote in my journal and then made myself a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, avocado, protein powder & banana. I had a nice salad for lunch and I sincerely have had a much more productive day. (I haven’t even turned the TV on.) All is well, but if I thought I might unwind with a glass of wine this evening, I shouldn’t have read on:

Proverbs 32:29-35

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”

I can’t even believe that’s in there…but it is, and obviously “SOMEONE” thought I needed to hear it this morning.

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This is Us….Really

This_is_usThe television show This is Us played after the Super Bowl last night.  A night we’ve all been waiting for.  Not the Super Bowl, but the show. Spoiler alert: Jack died. We knew he would, but we just didn’t know exactly how.  (Isn’t that true to life…we will all die, we just don’t know when or how.) I don’t usually stay up past eleven, but for this show, I had to.  I actually wanted to get it over with.  These teenagers were about to lose their father and I wanted to get it over with. As you may have seen, a young, vibrant, healthy father died of a widow maker heart attack. Sometimes these things happen.  I know, because it happened to me.

I was 16 when my father died of a heart attack and the show This is Us portrayed the gamut of emotions that those teens faced pretty true to life. I’ve wondered about my last words spoken, I’ve mourned my father not knowing my husband, and I’ve talked to a tree to tell my father my troubles. Yep, I’ve done it all and though those characters were fictional last night, the pain they emoted is real for many. I cried along with them….but not as much as I expected I would. I’ve relived the moments that I shared with them and I’m sure I’ll relive more as next week’s episode promises funeral scenes, but I didn’t actually relate as well with them as I expected. You see, their grief is new & raw, mine has been with me for 38 years. Time really does heal, but it never erases. I found myself watching the show and then comforting myself that the “Jack” character wasn’t really gone, he’ll be reappearing in flashbacks for months. In real life, that is not the case, or is it? Actually, the thing I remember most about the night my dad died was not wanting to close my eyes because when I did, I was afraid that I wouldn’t remember what he looked like. What if he vanished from my mind and my memory? How can I preserve the images?  Well, Kate (the daughter on the show), even if you lose that videotape of him, he will remain. My dad was only a part of my life for 16 years but he, too, reappears in flashback scenes. A saying he used, a smirk, even someone jumping to the front of the line at the grocery store will make me think of him. I didn’t forget, I won’t forget, so that fear is gone. Thank God.

This is Us.  This is many of us. This is some of us, yet to come. I don’t know exactly how Kate, Kevin, and Randall are going to cope with it, but I now know how I did. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:13 

 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.        –2 Corinthians 12:9

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