Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 171


November 23, 2013


Day 171


What a day…I had a list of things to get done and it actually looked like I might accomplish nearly everything on my list.  But then Will said, “Hey, Mom – you can start painting now.  I’m done sanding.”  So then I thought I’d intersperse painting the living and back room with my list, still accomplishing most.  And then our friend came over who had volunteered to help us with the carpet.  He measured up the rooms and the next thing I knew we had decided that this coming Wed. would be carpet-laying day.  So that meant Will and I had to dash off to Menards and spend a frightful amount of money (but far less than we would have if we had paid someone to lay the carpet, as I had planned).  And then we got home and our friend came back and helped even out the floor.  I painted and painted and painted and will be painting tomorrow and probably most of Monday.  But by this time next week, I will have furniture in place on my new carpet and maybe even my stuff hung back on the walls - ??  And I will be content…


This meant that David ended up caring for the Littles most of today.  He commented to me tonight, “You’d better hope those kids don’t start calling me ‘Mom’!”  Yes, I guess I have relied on him quite a bit…


It doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to burn wood.  I am so disappointed and a bit heartsick.  We sunk a ton of money and time into that thing, buying double-walled pipe.  There’s just nothing like the heat from a wood fire, too.  Plus, it saves a lot of money!  I just got my next year’s bill from Mid-American and my electricity jumped $33 a month.  Now, to have to pay a lot more in propane - ! Ugh!!  But, yesterday we nearly had a house fire.  I was gone and Will smelled something burning.  He went down to the woodburner and found that double-walled pipe glowing orange.  It’s not supposed to do that.  He ended up having to put out the fire with the fire extinguisher and a hose from outside.  Boy, I wish there was some way to still be able to use that thing.  If Paul were here, he’d know just what to do!


I wrote recently about having a mini-meltdown while driving the van one recent afternoon.  I found myself battling tears again tonight out of the blue, as well.  I fought them back because I have no desire to freak the children out.  On one hand, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that they see me cry from time to time.  That may give them the feeling that they, too, have “permission” to break down.  But at the same time, they are looking to me for strength and for the assurance that we are going to make it through this time.  If I’m a sodden mess all that time, that might not exactly inspire confidence in them.  Just this week in my widow devotional, the author talked about episodes like what I experienced in the van last week.  She explained that these times should not discourage us, but rather, we should draw encouragement from them.  Every time we break down, we also become strengthened and are better equipped to handle the next time sorrow engulfs us.  God helps us through each of those melt-downs, every prick of grief, and every time our hearts feel like they are being torn asunder once again.


Here is yesterday’s Facebook post.  This honestly happened just the way I wrote it.  I’m having some pretty intense kidney pain, which is why the dr sent me over to Mercy for an ultrasound.  I still haven’t heard back, so I don’t know if they found anything in there or not.  Since this has been an on-going, off and on, problem for two years, I rather suspect I’ll be getting a phone call next week letting me know that my kidneys are just fine and maybe I should just drink more water, and oh, would you like a prescription for an antibiotic?  Grr…But I do believe Thursday’s appointment was divinely directed, as much as I wished I could be somewhere else.


I had to have some unexpected testing done today at the hospital (I’ll be fine). As I was checking in, the person responsible for that reviewed my information on file. She asked, “And we have Paul as your contact person?” I hadn’t even thought about that…I shook my head and told her, “He’s dead.” Her breath caught and she began to tremble. As she fought tears, she kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’...m so sorry.” I was surprised and thought to myself that she was certainly a sympathetic person! Then, as tears began to fall she gasped, “Three years ago next Tuesday my husband died…heart attack…” and suddenly I was crying right there in the cubicle, too, for her loss and for my own. Later, she walked me down to the testing area and impulsively hugged me for the longest time – a complete stranger –in an attempt to assuage my pain and her own. It occurs to me, not for the first time, that grief creates a camaraderie amongst its survivors and that perhaps an integral part of our own healing comes only when we shoulder the hurts of others. I didn’t want to be at the hospital today, but God knew I needed to be there – for my sake, certainly, but also for this other hurting heart.



This morning I had the most amazing dream about Paul.  I don’t dream about him very often.  This dream was different than any of the times I have dreamed about him, though.  In fact, I awoke with a certain sense that God had visited me while I slept.  After I told David about the dream, he said almost the exact same thing.


In my dream, Paul and I were driving to church.  He was dressed in a suit, of course (dressing up for church was a big deal to him).  I don’t know how he came to be beside me in the van, but he was there and I was so happy to see him.  He seemed pleased to be with me, but it was different, somehow.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but while I knew he was happy to be with me, our relationship had changed.  It was no longer this desperate, lovers-reunited type of emotion.  What I felt emanating from him was a deep love, but it was more of a friendship, brotherly type of love, but laced with the knowledge that this man knew me and still knows me inside and out.  In my dream, I excitedly asked Paul if he wanted me to tell him about his funeral.  He just smiled at me in that enigmatic way he had sometimes and I knew in that moment that he already knew all about his funeral day.  So then I said, “Tell me about Heaven – what is it like?”  Paul’s face lit up and he told me it was the most wonderful place ever.  He said that one is continually surrounded by Scripture there.  He told me that it’s written on the walls of Heaven and that the angels chant it over and over again.  He said that the residents of Heaven often sing Scripture in praise to God.  Awakening later, I wondered, where did this come from?  I have never in my life heard anything like this that might have implanted itself in my mind, only to be released in a dream.


Paul told me that there are plenty of stars in Heaven, but no sun because all the light comes from Christ, that He simply shimmers with it.  I then asked Paul if he had met anyone “famous” yet.  He smiled and nodded his head, but when I pressed him as to who he had met, he remained silent and I knew he wasn’t about to drop names.


I asked Paul to tell me about his new mansion.  He told me that it wasn’t done yet!  This part of the dream I’m a little more dubious about.  It doesn’t make sense that God would call him to Heaven if his house wasn’t ready!  Concerned, I asked Paul where it is he sleeps.  He told me that he  has his own field and at night he lays down in the field and sleeps.  He said it was the most peaceful and wonderful rest he ever experienced. 


By this time we had arrived at church and we got out of the van.  Chattering, I exclaimed to Paul that everybody there was going to be so excited to see and talk to him.  I walked a few steps ahead of him and when I turned around to look for him behind me, he was gone. 


But I wasn’t sad in the dream that Paul had left.  I had this wondrous sense that he had been sent to me just for those few moments.  For comfort?  For reassurance?  I’m not really sure why.  But I awoke with a very sweet taste on my lips and a wondrous knowledge of how deeply I am loved.


And that is what I must focus on.  Things have been tough lately – this physical pain I’m in, the emotional pain of course, and, on top of that, I’ve had to deal wish some cruelty from others that I don’t feel equipped to handle very well right now.


 But through it all I am being very carefully and very thoroughly loved.
































Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 167


November 19, 2013


Day 167


I miss him.  Oh, how I miss him.  I miss his laugh, the sound of his steps, his comforting little routines, his touch, the way his presence filled our home…I feel just so empty inside right now.  I try to remind myself of all the things I’ve thought about the last 5 months – how God is both sovereign and loving, how nothing slips through His fingers without His approval, how we’ve been carried, how we’ve  had the unique opportunity to experience God’s love through others, how God is going to use this for  our good.  All those things are still true.  But they don’t matter tonight when I just long to hear his voice and to feel his arms wrapped around me once again.


Nights like tonight I just want to die.  I’ve felt that way, off and on (mostly on) since Paul’s death, but tonight it’s stronger.  I know marriage doesn’t exist in Heaven, but at least I wouldn’t have to continue living here without him.  If I could just slip away, fade into the night…


Lately my mind keeps going back to that moment on the front lawn, when the sheriff’s deputy walked over to me and said, “I’m so sorry, we did everything we could, but your husband didn’t make it.”  Each time I think about it, the horror of that moment grips my heart once again.  Why did I not throw myself on the ground in that moment, scream, and wail in agony?  I mean, I’m glad I didn’t, but I still wonder now how I managed to absorb such a blow without falling apart.  In those moments while the paramedics worked on him, I never honestly thought that he was going to die (or was already dead).  I knew things didn’t look good, but my mind wouldn’t let me traipse down the path of what- if- he’s -dead?


Will has come up with a plan of how to do the bedroom/bathroom project that will involve less work.  It’s going to mean a smaller bedroom for me, but I’ll gain a walk-in closet.  When he was sharing this with me tonight, I was reminded of Paul when he would have a remodeling brainstorm.  Will is so much like Paul, it’s eerie at times – not just in this, but in so many other ways.  I’m so thankful for his work on the house, along with that of others.  But it doesn’t change the fact that we are planning a bedroom that I will never share with Paul. 


That hurts.


Everything hurts tonight.  I just miss him.  I want him back.  Moments like right now I am convinced that I will never experience happiness again.  I will forever be a shattered, incomplete, shell of a person.  I loved him so much.  I remember being married and being knowledgeable of just how deeply I loved him.  At times that scared me and I would even fight against that love because I instinctively knew that if I ever lost Paul I could not survive the pain, so great was my love for him.  So maybe if I loved him less, future pain would be less, too.  But most of the time I convinced myself that we were destined to live out old age together and refused to allow myself horrific thoughts of losing him (although, oddly enough, a frequent topic of conversation between us had to do with the possibility of one or the other of us dying – I think that’s just because I have a morbid streak a mile wide – always have).  But I was right.  I loved him so much that losing him feels like it’s going to kill me. 


I can’t regret that, though.  You never regret love.


Tomorrow I’ll be reminded of God’s many promises.  Somebody, somewhere, will say something encouraging to me.  One of the kids will wrap their arms around me and I’ll be reminded of a very good reason that I am still here.


But tonight I hurt.































Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 165


Nov. 17, 2013


Day 165


Ben’s birthday…the last of our fall birthdays.  What a relief!  We went to Pizza Ranch, per his request.  I noticed that they celebrate birthdays there, clanging a bell, singing, and bringing out a cupcake for the celebrated one.  If Paul were here, he would have already dropped a word with the front desk.  I’m more reserved than he was and I really didn’t feel like drawing any more attention to our table than I’m already sure we attracted.  So, I asked Ben if he wanted me to let them know or not.  If he said yes, I would have done it.  But he shook his head and said he didn’t want it (good boy!).  It’s actually Ben’s golden birthday (17 on the 17th) and he was born on a Sunday, too, just like today.  What a frightful day that was…


I had a busy weekend, but it was good.  Friday, my Littles all went to Paul and Jenn’s.  They were the girls’ former foster family (not the one I referenced in a recent post) and they have adopted one of the girls’ biological brothers.  Shortly after I got the girls, our guardian ad litem connected us and we became instant friends – connected just like that.  They’re Christians, homeschoolers – wonderful people.  Despite ultimately deciding against keeping the girls (because they were sensitive to God’s leading) they deeply love them.  Especially as time is going on I am understanding the importance of keeping the girls in contact with their brother.  There are three older brothers, too, in a different home.  I’m a little more leery about pursuing any relationship there.  Perhaps, time will change things.  But for now, I think it’s really important that the smaller kids keep in close contact.  But it’s not just them.  Lizzie and Ellie bonded with the children in their former foster home, too.  It’s not just their bio brother that gets excited at visits – it’s the other four children in that home, as well!  And they have embraced Sam as well because he is the same age as the other kids.  From the outside, it probably looks a little confusing, but from the inside, it’s neat.  Seriously, my girls have TEN brothers, if you think about it.  They have 4 biological brothers (or “illogical brother” as Lizzie referred to her brother, James, this weekend!), they have 2 former foster brothers, and they have 4 adoptive brothers.  And there are a couple of former foster sisters in there, as well.  Good grief!  But it works.


So, anyway, Jenn took all 3 kids all day Friday and Saturday.  This gave her 8 children ages 7 and under, but she loved it! She and Paul even took all 8 to an international event at Drake University on Friday evening.  They have way lower stress levels than I do, I think!   I was able to do my grocery shopping and errands kid-free, which was a big blessing.  I always take one Little with me, which isn’t too bad, but it slows me down.  David was really excited about the prospect of not having to babysit.  He said, “Mom, you know how on Dave Ramsey’s program he’s always shouting, ‘Freedom!’?  Well, that’s how I feel today!”  Poor kid…


Friday night I was able to go scrapbooking for the second month in a row.  Saturday morning I headed up to Ankeny and ran a few more errands and then met my friend, Jennifer, for a long lunch.  That was a huge blessing.  Friends since high school, we’ve only lived an hour apart since we moved out here 9 years ago.  We saw eachother briefly at a funeral 4 years ago, but this was the first time we actually got together.  It was wonderful!  And then I went to a big craft show out at the fairgrounds all by myself, which was nice.  I didn’t buy a thing except 3 more wax melts for my melter in the kitchen (I have a sick addiction to those things).  However, I did find someone to make me a barn star, which excited me.  I want one for the peak under my garage roof, but I didn’t know where people have those made.  I found out at the craft show!  I have to wait until I get the garage repaired and the new siding on, so it’s going to be a good year or more before I’ll be ordering it.  But I’ve already picked out my pattern and I’m mentally playing with colors now.


And when I came home I found my living room was all freshly drywalled.  Two of Will’s friends came over and spent most of the day doing that with him for us.  Now we just need to mud and sand.  Then I can paint and order carpet!


And then later, Jenn and Paul brought back my tired kiddos and Jenn handed me a full meal she had managed to whip together whilst watching 8 children under the age of 8.  I am so-o-o impressed.  She and I are going to get together next Friday night, just the two of us.  That will be fun, too.


While shopping at Aldi’s on Friday (not the south side store, but the one on the west side, which is a nicer area of town) there was a little boy, about 4, and his mother in an aisle in front of me.  The mother suggested, not meanly, that her son move one direction or the other.  He whirled on his mother and snapped, “You shut your ______ing mouth, Mommy!”  I think my mouth literally fell open.  I was waiting to see what she would do (like haul his more-than-ample posterior to the bathroom) but she didn’t do anything! I so badly wanted to take her aside and ask her how she felt about bailing her son out of jail someday, because an out-of-control teenager is what she’s going to have if she doesn’t regain some control, now, and pronto.  Sad.


Later that day, the tears came again.  I was driving along and seemingly out of the blue, great big sobs just welled up and before I knew it I was crying – hard – as I drove.  It was so bad that I didn’t even know if I could go into the next store.  I did because the storm had passed by then.  I’m no longer surprised any more when this happens.  In some ways, it’s almost a relief.  It’s kind of like throwing up, actually.  When you’re sick, you feel crummy until your stomach finally releases and then, as awful as vomiting is, there’s a certain relief that comes with it when it’s done.  That’s the way the crying is.



Ellie’s vocabulary is continuing to blossom.  When she saw me carrying Ben’s cake to the table tonight she burst into song, “’Appy bertday to you, ‘appy bertday to you!”  The other day she looked at me seriously and said, “Daddy die, Mom -  Daddy die.”  Yes, he did, Baby…sigh…



Lizzie was tattling on Sam last week.  Sam protested, “I did not call you a ‘fool’!...I said you were a ‘jerk’!”  If I survive these two, it may be an actual, modern-day miracle for the Catholics to review…


Oh, and speaking of those two – guess who has a loose tooth now?  Thank you, Lord!  I guess baby teeth loss isn’t so much hereditary as it depends on when the teeth first came in.  I had wondered about that.  Will, Ben, and David were all close to their first birthday before their little red gums sported a single hard tooth.  And they were all 7 before they lost their first.  Sam was considerably younger when his first tooth came in.  But as Lizzie like to cheerfully remind him, her tooth is looser than his tooth!


David broke two of my Fiestaware plates this week.  These dishes were my grandma’s and are close to 70 years old, if not that already.  I’ve had them for 10 years and in that time, only one small plate has ever been broken.  Paul did that when he was putting up track for the ceiling in the kitchen.  And I was able to glue it back together.  He felt so bad.  But Wednesday Will and David took down the panel board in the living room and removed all the lath and plaster.  That was a dirty, dirty mess.  I was so pleased with their hard work.  But in the midst of it, David starts pounding on the living room wall, on the opposite side of the kitchen were I have some of my plates on the display shelf.  Two went crashing to the floor and just shattered.  I definitely wasn’t happy, but I didn’t cry.  I didn’t rant and rave.  After awhile I was able to tell David (maybe a bit grudgingly, though), “It’s ok – you’re more important than my plates!”  I wondered about that later.  I almost felt like I should be more upset than I was.  Is it because there’s still a big numb part of my emotions?  Or maybe Paul’s death has rearranged my mental priorities and so I no longer value things like I used to?  I don’t know.



I’ve been giving some thought lately to Paul’s and my relationship.  Specifically, the way I thought about things because of him.  He was such an opinionated person.  A lot of times, people like that are not willing to listen to advice, but he was.  But once he made up his mind about something, it would take a LOT to change it.  In fact, I don’t remember him changing his mind about a whole lot of things.  I like to think that I am opinionated as well.  And I am about a number of things.  Most things, Paul and I shared similar thoughts on which made for a pretty happy and easy relationship.  But some things we didn’t agree about.  That led to friction at times, esp. when one person’s opinion was about to influence something in the life of the other person!  But I’m also realizing now that a lot of things I simply did not have opinions about.  But I thought I did because Paul had an opinion about them.  And so it was easy to just adopt his opinion as my own.  Now that he’s dead and the fog has cleared a bit I find that I am re-evaluating things a bit in my mind.  For the first time, I am solely responsible for making decisions – the way I’m going to live, things to allow with the kids, what I believe, and so on. I find myself reluctant to continue doing things/believing certain things just because that’s how Paul felt about something. It’s both liberating and terrifying at the same time.   This is why my daily prayer continues to be one for wisdom above all else! 



Ok, deep thoughts like this need to be followed by something light.  The other day Sam came to me and asked, “Did I get born out of your tummy or out of your private parts?”  When I queried him as to where this question had arisen from, he told me that he, David, and Lizzie had been talking about the different ways people can be born.  Fair enough.  But then he asked, “I did get born, right?  ‘Cuz David said you found me in the woods and brought me home so the wolves wouldn’t eat me.   I didn’t think that was true, but I just wanted to make sure!”


Oh, big brothers…I just wanted to howl, but managed to keep a straight face and assured Sam that he had, indeed, been born to me!















Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 160


Nov. 12, 2013


Day 160


Boy, did I sleep well last night!  I’m thinking that I may just have to get another pair or two of fleece pajamas before this winter is over…what I have been missing out on because of Paul all these years!  Actually, there’s no way I could have worn something that warm to bed with him in there.  That man was so hairy and so big that he was like a furnace.  Some nights he would get sweaty just in sleep which would totally gross me out if he was touching me.  I’d unpeel his body from mine and stick a sheet between us for rest of the night.  How did people survive and sleep together before air conditioning?  Anyway…


Tonight Sam was looking at his science book.  Lizzie peered over his shoulder and exclaimed, “That’s a heart!”  It wasn’t a heart shape, but a drawing of an actual heart.  I wonder how she knew that?  Sam didn’t think she was right and was rather perturbed when I informed him that his sister knew what she was talking about.  Then Lizzie asked, “But how come I don’t see God in there?”  It was one of those questions that I had to sort through in my mind – what did she mean?  Then it came to me!  So then we talked about how God is invisible and, of course, I had to explain what “invisible” meant.  I told Lizzie that we don’t see God, but we feel Him in our hearts. 


“Oh – h,” Lizzie said, “You mean, every time I feel my heart beeping that’s God in there?” 



Well, I no longer have a wall between my living room and back room.  Even though it is totally unfinished yet, I am already loving it!  It just seems like we have so much more space and now that living room has light in it for the first time, ever!  It is so nice to walk out there every morning and have the morning sun streaming into the room through the back room windows.  Will we still call that the “back room” now, I wonder?  Technically, it’s just going to be one big living space.


It was a big deal Saturday.  I don’t know how many guys showed up, but it was a LOT!  They tore down that wall and then ripped up the floor.  164 year old dust went all over the house – completely nasty.  All the guys were hacking and coughing.  Will was actually spitting up blood by Monday from the amount of coughing he had done, trying to clear his lungs of that dust.  (Of course, when he told me he was coughing blood, my first thought was, “consumption!”  I think I’ve read way too many historical novels…)  But by the time they all left I had a new floor down.  I was painting down in the basement all day, which was actually a treat, even though I hate painting.  A friend watched Ben and the Littles all day so I was able to work without much interruption.  Unfortunately, I had a terrible migraine that day and found it difficult to work at times because the pain just would not subside.  I’m sure it was aggravated by the paint fumes and dust, too.


We still have two walls to gut down to the studs in the living room.  I am suspicious that the work on our house may be “burning out” the men from church.  I definitely don’t want to do that, so I was relieved when Will told me that he thinks he can do that bit by himself, along with drywalling and even potentially replacing the ceiling in the living room.  He is optimistic that by Christmas we could be completely done out there.  Wouldn’t that be something if he’s right?  I cannot wait until the day new carpet is laid out in those rooms and I can re-hang all my wall decorations!


Sam wants to be a helper in the worst way.  Tonight he was delighted when he discovered I was nailing down the new stair treads on the basement steps (the carpet tape didn’t work) and insisted on helping.  Boy, did he have fun!  Will said the other day Sam wanted to tag along with him to Menards.  He was loading these huge, heavy boards into the truck that were to be used for floor joists and to his surprise, Sam grabbed one end and was helping lift them!  He said that Sam told him simply, “I just like working with you!”


We were recently given a nearly-new washer and dryer.  I’m thankful because my dryer had recently taken another nose-dive and was taking 3+ hours to dry a single load.  They were in Des Moines so Friday Will and Nathanael were able to get them for me, install them, and carry out the old ones.  Then, I drove the boys back to Des Moines.  We ended up going to Fazolis to eat.  Nathanael had never been there in his life, which is a crime, I think.  Afterwards, we visited his tiny little apartment.  I made some sarcastic comment to the boys about the “fun” of hanging out with a mom on a Friday night, to which Nathanael quickly replied and Will agreed, “Oh, you’re not like other moms!”  Later, I asked Will what they meant by that.  I mean, I assume I’m like other moms – aren’t I?  Will said, “No, you’re definitely not like other moms.  You’re fun, you know?”  I think I may have just been complimented…


I had my will drawn up tonight.  That is a relief.  Now if anything happens to me, it’s all spelled out and the kids are taken care of.  My lawyer has to make a couple more calls for me and then I’ll be able to set up a Special Needs Trust for Ben, too.  His inheritance has to be handled a little differently so that he doesn’t lose any state services that he needs.  Plus, he has about zero money handling skills.


A couple of nights ago, out of the blue, Lizzie started talking about the former foster home she was in before she came to me.  Quite frankly, this was not a suitable place at all.  I was not impressed the day I picked the girls up and could not get them out of there fast enough.  Lizzie doesn’t always tell the truth, so I’ve had to weigh that against some of the horrifying stories she has told me about this home.  It’s because of that that I never pursued making any phone calls to DHS.  Besides, as time went on I learned that numerous other concerned people had made calls.  But anyway, Lizzie brought up her time there (which, by the way, I never bring up – if she wants to talk about the past I’m always more than willing to do so, but if she would prefer to live in the future and let those memories fade, then that’s fine, too).  She was only 3 ½ when I got her, but she told me that when she was told that she didn’t have to stay at this place anymore, that a new mom would be picking her up, she felt so relieved.  I’m just amazed she remembers and can articulate how she felt then.  Of course, what I remember about that morning is how, within moments of meeting me,  she narrowed her little eyes at me and informed me, “They should have given us to a black family!”


So the other night when Lizzie told me this, I said to her, “Really?”  I then told her that I was afraid that she hadn’t wanted to go with me that morning because I’m not black.  Lizzie smiled at me, crossed over to where I was sitting on the bed, hugged me, and said, “Oh, Mom – that’s so silly!”  When we set out to do this, I had some (mostly older) people suggest to me that if we got a child of a different race it would be next to impossible to overcome those kinds of differences.


 What differences? 



I’m using a book right now in my morning devotions called, Hope for an Aching Heart by Margaret Nyman.  It’s for widows, written by a widow.  She was featured on Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ program this fall and my mom told me about it.  I’m really appreciating this little book.  The other day I read,


Although He (God) thoroughly understood my overpowering longing to be with my husband, He also knew that looking to (my husband) for my comfort wasn’t going to bring it.  The most effective way to relieve grieving pain would be to turn my dim eyes toward Him.  Hanging onto a departed husband could never bring healing, but clinging to an ever-present God surely would.


I found these words very helpful.  It was later that same day that Truth hit me between the eyes.  I have two choices.  I can spend my time wishing Paul were here and lamenting that he is not.  And, of course, there IS a time for grieving.  I firmly believe that one must traverse through that dark and narrow valley before healing and joy can ever return.  Or, I can turn my focus to God, letting Him comfort me, looking to Him for the needs that Paul formerly met. 


Whichever I choose…Paul is still dead. 


Making a choice to be depressed and grieve longer than necessary or to be angry with God will not change the facts.  Paul is dead.  Period.


I mentioned this to Will that night and he nodded his head and said he’d come to that same conclusion within just a few days of Paul’s Homegoing.  He said he’s sad, but he’s not allowing himself to dwell there because it doesn’t change the facts.


I then bounced this thought off a widow friend of mind at church.  She looked and me and said, “Sarah – you’re progressing.  Now you are at the point that you are accepting Paul’s death.” 


I think that must be a good thing.  I’m fairly certain that no future can be presented to us when we choose to live in the past.


I still ache.  I am mourning for Paul.  I feel incomplete still, wounded and heartsick.  But I see a picture in my mind.  Paul is standing there, and I am looking backward to him.  But a glass wall separates us.  I look back at him once more and then I turn and grasp the invisible hand of the One who is leading me away from Paul – and into the future.













Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 159


Nov. 11, 2013


Day 159


Today’s Facebook post:


First snow of the season...Paul loved snow. Whenever it snowed and he was away from home, he would always call and excitedly ask, "Have you looked out the window?" If he was home, he'd be outside, taking pictures. All my scrapbooks are littered with snow pictures, from trace amounts to foot and a half falls, because Paul thought any snow was worth remembering. For a long time he had a license plate on his truck that read, "LUVSNOW." When the nightly weather forecasters would dourly inform their viewers that a big snow was on the way, Paul would literally be sitting on the couch, leaning forward, rubbing his hands together, and chortling. When the camera would pan back to the anchormen and they would dutifully complain about the forecast Paul would suggest that they needed to a) Grow up, b) Quit their whining, and c) move to Florida. So, today, I'm really missing him. I miss the phone call, I miss him running around the yard with my camera. But if I know our Father's heart the way I think I do, I'm pretty sure Paul has at least one pile of snow in his corner of Heaven. And that makes me smile.


And that’s why I’m sitting here in newly purchased fleece pj bottoms, something I would have never done if Paul were alive.  He was particular about what I wore to bed (let’s just say he was a man!).  But last night I practically froze again in bed and so today when I was at the store I looked for and found some cozy, cute pj bottoms and tops – and I bought them.  I can wear whatever I want to bed now.


Well, it was another too-busy day.  Will spent the entire day hooking up the woodburner.  It was moved to the basement over the weekend.  It’s burning too hot, though, so we’re going to have a professional come look at it before we burn the house down.  And I bought new tires today – I’m feeling very responsible, as a result.  My old tires weren’t too bad, so I kept them.  But they were a little bit worn.  A friend of mine from church works for Firestone and he was able to get me his employee discount which made new tires very affordable!  He and his family met me in Des Moines and then they ran me on some of my errands while we waited for my tires to get put on.  Nice.


This morning David wanted to know why I had dressed Ellie in a shirt that read, “Angry.”  I stopped, paused, and suggested he read the shirt again.  “Oh-h-h,” said David, “I guess that says, ‘Angel’,” huh?  And then today on Facebook he thanked our veterans who “severed” and are “still severing.”  That conjured up some very disturbing mental images for me, of angry soldiers pillaging  some remote village, machetes in hand as they whack body parts off poor civilians.  I’m not really sure how to help that boy.  These are moments that make a homeschool mom just sigh.


This is going to be a short post.  I just realized how tired I am.  Besides, I want to go try out my new pjs in my bed!  I’ll write more tomorrow.  A couple of Sam funnies, though:


·        the other day I heard him exclaim to Ellie, “You stinkin’ lady!” I’m not really sure what she did to raise his ire, but I thought he used an interesting word as an insult!


·        Today he got his own lunch and informed me that, “Since I’m 6 now, I can do a lot more stuff!  And, Mom, yesterday someone at church said they think I’m a lot taller now!”  He added earnestly, “It won’t be long and I’ll be a grown man, just like Will!”


You can slow down a little bit, Buddy – we have time.


Lizzie has a loose tooth, her first.  Guess who is not impressed with that fact?  She’ll say to Sam, “Would you like to wiggle my tooth?”


“No!” he snaps angrily, scowling.  She knows just how to push his buttons!


Poor kid – genetics are not in his favor.  All three of his older brothers were 7 before they lost their first tooth.  I’ll never forget how Ben swallowed his – on his 7th birthday, while eating pizza. 


All right – I must go.  My bed is beckoning and I don’t think my eyelids are going to allow me to remain upright much longer.  I'll chatter on her more tomorrow.  I want to, especially because I had a rather startling thought the other day about Paul's death and my attitude choices.













Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 154


November 6, 2013


Day 154


I am so tired tonight.  But then – it IS 10:30 pm!  But it’s not just that.  Today is the 6th.  It’s been five months.  Five months sounds like a dreadfully long time.  For some things it can be – five months of a pregnancy is a long time, five months of being sick is a long time, five months of planning anything is a long time.  Five months of grieving is a very long time.  At the same time, I am still in disbelief that it’s been five months.  I know it has been.  The seasons have changed.  A lot has happened in those months.  But for me, inside,   it’s still June. Time hasn’t moved at all.  A friend came up to me at church tonight (I actually made it – between the colds we’ve been passing around and my own emotional and physical lethargy, I feel like I have missed church more than I have attended lately) and said simply, “It’s the 6th” and hugged me.  That means a lot when other people are looking at the calendar and thinking of you.


And next month will be six months – half a year.  It will also be Christmastime.  And, oh, how I am dreading that season.  There is at least one local radio station already playing Christmas music.  I switch the station every time I accidentally hit that pre-set in the van.  I don’t want Christmas this year.  At the same time, though, I find myself harboring little glimmers of hope that maybe Christmas this year might turn out to be special after all, that perhaps God will use this time of year to especially minister to our shredded hearts.  He’s done that already, though.  So I don’t know why He would do something extra at Christmastime.  Seriously, if after Ben’s birthday this month, I could just sleep until January 5th (the day after Paul’s birthday) I’d be so grateful.


I’ve got a list of things written down to cover in this post.  The majority of them are about  Will this time.  Not sure why – it just worked out that way.


But first, Miss Ellie…she is a little obsessed with zombies these days.  The boys have been watching some zombie movies with her that Will got for his birthday.  I’m pretty sure this falls under the “bad parent” category but right now I’m so worn out that I just don’t care enough to be worried about it.  Will and David will ask her, “Ellie – what does a zombie say?”  And then Ellie makes a growling/crunching noise and then lists her head to the side, with her tongue sticking out.  It is hilarious!  I’ll have to remember just how hilarious it is when she’s waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares…


The other day she picked up a fallen kool-aid packet off the kitchen floor and told me, “Orange, Mama, orange!”  And it was!  I thought to myself, “Who is this brilliant child?”  I haven’t even attempted to teach her colors yet (see previous  note on my worn-out state).  Surely, I am raising another little genius…and then later that day she found another kool-aid packet – why the kool-aid keeps ending up on the floor is anybody’s guess.  She held it up to me and exclaimed, “Orange!”  Except, it was…purple.


Will ended up having quite the party last Sat.  I didn’t even really realize it was a party, per se.  He just told me he wanted to have some friends over, gave me a list of snacks to make, and worked like crazy on the basement so he’d have a place to entertain his friends.  But a lot of teenagers and college students showed up at my house that night!  It was fun.  We got some pizzas and the kids had a big bonfire.  They invited me to play this game with them (I think they just needed all the bodies they could get – they weren’t clamoring for interaction with a middle aged mom).  I don’t know what it’s called but it’s basically the game “Telephone” on paper using words and drawings.  I laughed so hard that my ribs hurt and I had tears streaming down my face (and for once they weren’t because I was sad!).  I cannot remember the last time I laughed like that.  I’m sure it was long before we got the girls.  Oh, how fun!  I went to bed around 11:30 and more people were showing up about then.  I guess I had house guests until about 1 or so, I was told.


It was the night we switch our clocks, so I dutifully set mine back before turning out the lights.  Paul always took care of that for me.  In fact, my kitchen clock is still an hour fast and I keep thinking I really should take care of that, but then I don’t want to because I know Paul would have done it and it’s just one more reminder that he’s not here anymore to take care of things…and me.  Well, anyway, I forgot that my clock is new and is self-setting.  So I actually gained TWO hours of sleep on Sat. night.  I thought I felt awfully refreshed when I awakened at what I thought was 6:30 on Sun. morning.  In fact, the girls came padding down the steps and I sent them back to bed because it was way too early for them to be up.  Only, it wasn’t!  Needless to say, we didn’t make it to Sunday School...


I went to my first Word Weavers group on Monday night.  That experience has really changed my outlook this week.  It’s a Christian writing group that was just started.  I don’t even feel like doing much writing right now.  I haven’t done a lot since the girls arrived.  My blog and my Jewels devos have been about it.  Oh, I guess I wrote that drama piece for the church Christmas program last year.  But I’ve been weighed down emotionally with the girls and now, of course, with losing Paul.  And time has been short.  But in the months since Paul’s death I have found myself attempting to think about what needs to happen in my life now that I don’t have him.  I keep coming back to writing.  What that will ultimately look like, I don’t know.  Perhaps it is something I will only poke a stick at for the rest of my life.  But, I am ridiculously excited by this group.  I told the Lord Monday night after coming home that my writing is His.  Anything I do is for Him, not me.  To that end, He will need to direct my steps in this area, as well.


I also made a new friend at the group.  The leader has been a Facebook friend of mine for quite some time and she told the group my story, about adopting the girls and Paul’s death.  This new friend has walked through the Valley herself and afterwards she came up to me and just held me for the longest time– a stranger.  I felt something inside me begin to melt when she did that.  It still makes me cry to remember it!  This friend and I were comparing notes on death and talked about how people comment on how “strong” we are, but yet how weak we really feel.  I always feel a bit like a fraud when I am told that because I know how weak and inadequate I really am!  But she said, “Others are seeing God’s strength reflected in you.  They don’t realize that they are looking at God.”


I walked away from that meeting feeling a sensation that has been long-buried…





Will has decided he would like to get his electrician’s license.  Apparently, it’s not that huge of a deal.  You have to buy a very expensive book, study it, and then pay a fee and take an open-book test.  But then he’d be licensed and could legally do what he already does.  Paul taught him well.  But even Paul was licensed!  I told Will that if he does end up becoming a pastor he could make up business cards that say, “Electrician/Pastor – I can re-wire your house AND your heart!”  Of course, Mr. Theologically Correct had to point out to me that pastors don’t change people’s hearts – only God does.  My sense of humor is vastly under-appreciated in this house…


Yesterday Will walked into the kitchen around 4:30 in the afternoon.  I had my back turned to him.  His tread is just like Paul’s of course.  The time was about the time that Paul would get home.  My heart gave a ridiculous little leap before my brain reminded it to settle down.  ...sigh…


Yesterday was election day in our little town.  Will got the highest amount of votes in his bid for the city council.  I kind of thought he might get elected because he has a good reputation, but his youth and inexperience might count against him.  And I know I’ve made a few enemies along the way in my work as the city clerk – comes with the territory, I suppose, especially when your job is to get money out of others.  People might refuse to vote for him just because we are related.  So I was  pleasantly surprised by the results.  Another 19 year old young man was also elected; now our mayor has some strong, young guys to do the hard manual labor!


I’ll close with this funny: last Sat. when Nathanael was here for Will’s birthday, he and Janie (his fiancĂ©e) pulled me aside and asked if Lizzie could be a flower girl in their wedding next summer.  I was delighted with the idea – she’s going to look SO cute! Lizzie and Nathanael have had this unique relationship since she came to us, which is why he and Janie want her in the wedding.  So then, Nathanael talked to Lizzie and explained what a flower girl is to her.  He then asked, “So would you like to be in my wedding?”  Lizzie shook her head vigorously.  We were all surprised and Nathanael asked, “But why not?”  Lizzie exclaimed, “I’m not ready to get married yet!”