Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 390

July 1, 2014

Day 390

Ellie's birthday today...I haven't done a whole lot.  She even got a  spanking on her birthday and it wasn't a fun birthday thing!  She's  just been a  real pill lately - so, so naughty!  I'm assuming/hoping/knowing this is just a phase.  We'll have cake and presents here in a little bit. 

Over the weekend my old home ec teacher, Mrs. Hunter died.  I mentioned her a few posts ago.  I think her classes in high school were my favorite.    I learned so much from her.  It wasn't just instruction, either.  The classes in our Christian high school were small and she took the time to talk with us.  I remember we'd have talks on our future weddings, marriages, our given personalities, etc.  She's the one who taught me how to work with yeast and that it was ok to play around with recipes.  She's the one who started my recipe collection.  I remember that was a class assignment.  She was just fun - always laughing.  They attended our church and were in my parents' SS class.  Actually, they were the listed  guardians for us kids had anything happened to Mom and Dad.  About 15 years ago I wrote her a note and thanked her for teaching me how to cook.  She wrote me back and sent me a copy of a cookbook she had self-published.  I still use that book.  Anyway, today was her funeral.

I was sad about that all weekend.  And then yesterday I learned about the death of Jenny Groothuis.  I am beyond heavy-hearted.  Jenny married a man I attended school with, Brad.  He was a twin and the younger brother of one my classmates.  I had been hearing about Jenny and Brad for awhile because they have FIFTEEN children.  Seven are biological and nine are adopted from Africa.  I began following Jenny's blog a couple of years ago while she was in Africa adopting their last child, Esther.  I came to really admire this woman.  She had such a passion for the Lord, her husband, and for the orphans. She homeschooled and several of her children have special needs.   Jenny absolutely radiated joy - it was Christ shining through her.  With my own somewhat melancholy personality, I really look up to people who are more outgoing than I am!  I want to be like that, but I often feel like my introspective, self-centered, "Eyeore" personality holds me back and drags me down.  I think too much is what the problem is. 

But anyway, Jenny was killed Sunday in a car accident.  I know, from experience, that God will take care of her children and her husband.  But I also know that they will never be the same.  I know the crushing, staggering weight of grief that Brad will bear in the months and years to come.  I hurt for him.  At the same time, I hurt for me, because bearing someone else's burden seems to make my own that much heavier.  It stirs up a lot of familiar emotion.  It's times like this that it is so easy to doubt God and His goodness.  I find myself struggling to remember His attributes right now because this just doesn't make sense.  But tragedy rarely does - to us, anyway.  It makes sense to God, I know.  Again - it goes back to Trust.


Matt, Kirsti, and the kids came up Sunday, which was wonderful.  I last saw Matt in August of last year when he swung through after a business trip to the Midwest.  But it had been 18 months since I saw Kirsti and the kids.  Kirsti has been a rock for me the last 12 months, constantly sending me texts, notes, and suggesting that we really need to talk.  She has a gift for ministering to the bereaved, I think.  Grief is exhausting and I was not about to reach out to my friends and others suggesting we get together or even just initiating conversations. That takes work!   But Kirsti would faithfully send me messages wanting to arrange a telephone time.  So I'd make it work and always be grateful later that I did.

Jake (9yrs) completely won my heart Sunday.  They got here and he immediately ran out of the car up to me and gave me a huge bear hug.  He told me, "I was kind of nervous about seeing you because of Uncle Paul, you know?"  Sweet boy.  I guess I had not really given a lot of thought to how Paul's death might have affected our nieces and nephews, especially since they saw him so rarely.  But it did.  And it makes me feel good - not that they feel sad, but that Paul was that important to them.  Jake wanted to see Paul's grave so the next morning, yesterday, I took him, along with Sam, David,  and Lizzie up to the cemetary.  Those three younger ones had a blast, running all over the graveyard. I was glad we were alone up there - other visitors might not have been so tolerant of my boisterous  crew in what's supposed to be a somber place!   Jake can read so he got a kick out of reading the tombstones.  Some of them are really old and more than a few are children's markers.

While at the cemetary I posed the kids in front of the corn that edges one side of the cemetary.  It's getting pretty tall.  I don't know if it's sweet or feed corn, though.  Just a few hours later I would drive by the graveyard and all that corn would be laying down - eerie.

We've had a lot of storms the past few days and a lot of parts of the state are even experiencing flooding.  This is after a couple of years of drought conditions.  Life is nothing but a cycle, I guess.  Matt and Kirsti left around 10 and I puttered around for a little while on my new computer (Matt set it up for me while he was here.  I bought it so I can write in peace away from the children.  Except, now they're coming in my bedroom to bug me!  Argh!).  Then I fed the kids and got ready to head to my friend, Julie's, in Melcher Dallas.  The sky was looking darker and darker - just very ominous.

I went ahead and left assuming it was just a thunderstorm that would pass quickly.  On the way, David called and told me the sirens were going off!  I didn't know what to do.  The sky to the south, where I was heading was still blue.  If I hurried, I could make it to Julie's before the storm did.  But David was freaking out a bit at home.  But if I turned around and went back I'd be driving into the storm and I knew that wasn't safe, either.  Plus, I really wanted to go to Julie's because we were going to work on my family pictures she took!  So, I instructed David to go down to the basement, which he did.   This is a child who has always been especially fearful of storms, but, thankfully, he's grown up a lot.  He spent several hours in the basement and told me later that he called and was able to get ahold of Will during that time.  "I just needed someone to talk to, Mom!" he said.  He said that Will said he was jealous, since he's a storm-lover (Will is - he even got certified as an official storm chaser a few years ago)!

The sirens did go off at Julie's but nothing happened - just wind and rain.  I got my disk of the family pictures and spent last night ordering my prints on-line.  I can't wait until they come!


Last Saturday we helped someone Paul knew move.  It's a family that used to attend our church in Council Bluffs, but I think they moved or quit coming or something around the time we got married.  Anyway, they all moved to Des Moines at some point and this former classmate/youth group member of Paul's contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I had any teenage boys who could help move her parents.  I volunteered David, but we all ended up helping.  It was hard, hot work!  Her folks were moving out of a split level duplex into a second floor apartment.  Can we say, steps?!

It was a good opportunity, though, to teach the kids about the necessity of being of service to others, even those we may not even know real well.  To sweeten the deal (literally), I did buy the kids doughnuts to eat before we left.  Several of them had patriotic sprinkles on them because of the upcoming fourth of July holiday.  Sam polished every single one of those off.  He told me, "I'm eating these doughnuts because I love America!" :)

 Late last night I walked into the kitchen and saw the food setting out that I had warmed up for the kids earlier in the evening.  I commented out loud, "Oh, I forgot to eat supper!"  David, who heard me, responded in astonishment, "How do you forget something like that?"  I suppose that might seem a bit astonishing to someone who keeps track of time by how soon until he gets to eat again.  Just last week he polished off 48 pizza rolls in one day!


I think July 4th usually indicates the halfway mark of summer.  It's tripping along for us.  The kids are spending a lot of their days in the pool and I'm using my extra time to wrap up some house projects.  Soon, I need to get all of Will's final registration odds and ends in to Faith and then I need to figure out the next school year for my homeschoolers and be ordering books.  The weeks will speed by and soon we'll be edging into fall again.

Lately, I've been aware of this feeling of someone being missing.  Obviously there is - two, in fact.  Paul's permanently missing and Will is going to be gone more than he's home now, for the rest of his life, probably.  But it's the same feeling I used to have when I was waiting for Paul to get home and he seemed to be working a little late or when one of the boys was off at camp for a week.  It was just this feeling of incompleteness and anticipation for when we'd all be together again.

I wonder if I will feel like this for the rest of my life?

























































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