The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
It's over. I
survived another Christmas of widowhood.
And it wasn't
totally terrible, either.I did better
this entire season than the last two.But Christmas Eve night we went to the service at church, which I was
fine for throughout.And then, as I'm
out in the foyer, wrestling Ellie into her coat, a friend came up to me and
with this sympathetic I-feel-so-sorry-for-you,
that I know too well (and appreciate as much as I can see it coming from a mile
away anymore) asked me how I was doing.I've never been great at faking things and honestly told her, "Ok -
just, ok."This friend isn't
possessed of a huggy type nature, but she wrapped her one arm around me and
whispered, "I'm so sorry."Her
kindness made tears spring to my eyes.And then just at that moment, another friend, who IS huggy, came over to
me, wrapped her arms around me and said softly, "Hey, Girl - you are loved
And I knew I had
to get out of there right then or I would lose it.So Ellie and I bolted for the van.About 20 min. later Will and David finally
showed up and David was complaining about how "unsociable" I am.
And after that I
was really fine - until we were opening gifts yesterday morning.All of a sudden, this intense grief wave just
slammed into me.I didn't even see it
coming.Emotionally, I was reeling, but
you know, it was Christmas and I couldn't run off wailing to my
room.That would be areal quick way to put a damper on the
holidays. I don't even think the Grinch could top that! So, I just kept on unwrapping presents and
taking pictures of the kids.
afternoonit had passed and I really
felt ok once again.
Which has me
wondering...will I ever be free of the blues at Christmas someday?Time will tell.I wonder, too, if I am doing the right thing
by keeping things from the kids.Maybe
someday I'll hear them complaining that I wasn't "real" enough when
walking through this valley.The mom is
the emotional barometer of the home and I've just wanted to keep their emotions
at a balanced level.If I insisted that they
feel what I do, then they'd be down more than they are up.But they may neverfully appreciate this.
A fellow widow
friend posted this in a meme on Facebook last night and I thought it was so
It's hard to rejoice when your heart is hurting and it seems
like the world is celebrating around you.But the same God Who loved us enough to send His only son understands
you better than anyone else - and He's closer to you now than anyone else can
during the day.Mom and Dad went home
early because Mom wasn't feeling the greatest so I was kind of at loose
ends.I ended up watching the Dolly
Parton movie that was on NBC.I was
really surprised at how good that was.I thought it was going to be something about her rise to fame, butinstead it was just a 2 hour movie about a
period of a few months in the life of her family while growing up - themes of
faith, resilience, and trusting God when it hurts.I could probably watch that again. The little actress who played young Dolly was really talented. She reminds me of someone I know in real life but I haven't put my finger yet on just who it is.
Oh - Lizzie did
break her foot.I felt so terrible -
seriously terrible, like worst-mom-in-the-world kind of terrible.I had taken her to Urgent Care on a Monday.On Friday of that week I got a phone call
from Urgent Care letting me know they had been trying to get ahold of me all
week long.A radiologist had read the
x-ray and decided a bone was actually fractured.Ugh!And here, every single day that week I had been forcing her foot into a
shoe even though she complained that it hurt because, after all, it wasn't
broken!She's still in a boot now.She might get out of it next week, but I'm
reading, "Little House in the Big Woods," the first Laura Ingalls
Wilder book, to the Littles most every night.I plan to go back and forth between her books and some Beverly Cleary
ones until we've read everything by these authors.Sam seems to actually be more into the books
than the girls are, which surprised me.But they still listen.Laura
included a lot of the little songs her Pa used to sing for them and I always
sing them to the kids as I'm reading, making up the tune if I don't know it
already.So I was singing one the other
night when I got to the word, "darky" in the song.I quickly realized the song was a little
ditty about a black man.For the time
period of the story (mid 1870s) it wasn't inappropriate.But for now, it's highly so!Fortunately, none of the kids caught what I
sang and when I came to that word again in the song, I quickly changed it to,
"that man."Oh, wow.Times have changed!
And on a related
note, late last week Lizzie and I both got handwritten apology notes from that
boy who made that racist comment to her.They came addressed to me in a school envelope, so I don't know if that
was something the principal required the student to do or something he did on
his own (or was told to do by his mother) and then asked the school to mail
them to me.But, I was impressed anyway.One was addressed to Lizzie and the other, to,
said he also verbally apologized to her at school.
So, anyway, it
definitely sounds like he is chastened and repentent.That's the best possible outcome out of an
unfortunate situation to start with.I
did write to the district superintendent and told him how pleased I was with
how this was handled by the principal.He wrote back and thanked me for telling him and said he'd definitely
commend the principal, too.He then went
on to tell me how much he enjoys Ben.Everyone enjoys Ben!
A few weeks ago
Lizzie went to a birthday party.Unfortunately, she didn't have a very good time.She said the birthday girl spent all her time
with her other friends and not her.But
when I picked her up the mom gushed, "Oh, your Lizzie is SO polite!"It was interesting to me because in recent
weeks I've heard that from other adults about Sam and Ellie, too.It makes me think that there must be an awful
lot of impolite little kids in Pleasantville if mine are coming off better in
comparison.I know my kids and I know
how rude they can be.But everyone
else's must be awful!
Speaking of bad
behavior...Ellie's latest ploy whenever she gets in trouble is to shriek,
"You don't love me!"Sigh...I
don't remember the boys ever pulling that one on me.Lizzie hasn't either, but that's probably for
other reasons.We were in Hy-Vee one
night recently and I took away her mini shopping cart because she continually
rammed it onto her siblings heels.Oh,
boy, was she angry.She yelled,
"You don't love me!" and ran to the opposite end of the aisle.Then, she refused to stand by me in the
check-out lane and when I tried to put her in the cart, she splayed her legs
open so they wouldn't go in the leg holes.About a night later she got ahold of my key fob and pushed the panic
button on it.Of course, I was in a
different part of the house so it took me awhile to get to her, find what she
did with the fob, and get my van quiet again.That same night, she took antibacterial cream and Glade spray and put
them all over the mirror in her bedroom.I remember reading a story when I was a kid about a little boy that was
kidnapped.He was so terrible that the
kidnappers ended up returning him before they ever got to their destination.
That would be
A week ago I was
up to my eyeballs in cooking.We had two
out-of-town guests for a couple of nights - Nathanael and Eric came down to
hunt with Will and some other guys from church.They had a good haul altogether - 8 deer.David shot his very first on Sunday.He was so pleased!
happened Tuesday.I helped a little, but
not much.However, I did package all the
meat, which was quite a job - several hundred pounds.We ended up buying another freezer because we
just didn't have room in ours.It's a
nice problem to have, minus the $300 for a new freezer part...Will said he may
buy it off me someday when he has his own place.
leaves with Eric, his father, and grandfather for a few days down in southern
Iowa for even more hunting.They're
staying in a hotel.So I suppose it's
just as well I got the additional freezer.Eric is a superb shot and gives most his meat to us.
Will finally had
his root canal on Wed.By Sunday his gum
was beginning to puff up and I knew that was infection coming back.He wouldn't let me open it up, though.Wed. morning his face was visibly puffy.So, he had his appointment early that
afternoon.The dentist did lance his gum
which was just full of pus, I guess. Will said that was the worst part. Then he did the root canal.He
discovered that Will had 5 roots, which is a lot. The dentist said he had not
seen that in 12 years, commenting that when he was in dental school he watched
a dentist do one with 7 roots, which was highly unusual. Most people only have 3.He couldn't see the other two when he drained
the tooth twice before.So, that's why
it kept getting so sore so quickly.Since the tooth had a temporary seal on it, there was nowhere for the
pus to go except for into his gums.
So now we let that
heal and then he needs an appointment for the crown.
I bet Dr. Fuller
is going to eventually stop taking any calls from our house.Between Will's extra roots and my
"cement-like" teeth (his words) he's not going to want to have
anything to do with our mouths!
Well, I need to
get going here.I have dinner plans with
a friend who is only in Iowa for another day.I need to hear all about her love life (she's younger than me).Earlier today David said in all seriousness,
"I think you need to get out of the house."Evidently, I was appearing stressed to
him.I was able to tell him I was
already on it!
I'm actually in a
pretty good mood today.Sadly, I think
that's because Christmas is finally over.I'm pretty sure that's not the right attitude to have.
This may be my
last post for the year, I don't know.I'm not exactly regarding the new year with anticipation.I'm kind of nervous about a few things -the uncertainty of my job, starting college
again, Ben's graduation...
But I won't be
reassuring, particularly when I really stop to think about the truth of those
I probably won't
get this all written today.Or tomorrow.
I woke up at 5am
with a nasty migraine and the pain was so bad I never did fully get back to
sleep.In fact I ended up getting up
before the alarm summoned me.My head
still hurts but it's bearable.
I've got SO much
on my plate right now between Christmas prep and guests coming all weekend long
for hunting (although I'm very glad they are coming - Will has such nice
friends and it's always fun to have them here).I'm trying to clean my house and today I'm up to my eyeballs in getting
ready for the Patch Club party at church tonight.
I just picked up
Ellie from preschool and she came home with the treat bucket, which means I'm
expected to fill it up with healthy snacks for her class tomorrow.What?I checked the snack list twice this month and Ellie's name was nowhere
on it.So I thought we got lucky.Apparently not.So now I have to go to the store.It's going to be store-bought stuff because I
do not have time to bake another thing today.I feel like whining about it to the staff but...her teachers are really
nice...and Ellie got a scholarship...so I feel kind of obligated to cough up
the snacks every so often.But today is
reallynot a good day for this!
Things are hard on
my heart right now, too.It's
December.Every year since Paul's death
I get hit with the blues and missing him so much.I think that's fairly common with the
bereaved.But I wish it wasn't the
case.If nothing else it makes getting
done what I need to a lot harder.
And I'm really
hurting overPastor and Marcia
leaving.I know this is God's
will.I know that He knows so much more
than I do and is so much wiser.I know
this is not only for their good, but for their new congregation's, as well as
for ours.I know it's for my
But I don't
All I know is that
a major support system is being pulled away from me and I feel like I'm
floundering a bit.I'm losing
friends.And I hate that.Marcia and I have made a lunch date for
January so that makes me feel better although I'm afraid I'm going to get to
the restaurant and bawl into my soup the whole time (not that I would order
soup - I'm not a fan of foods I have to drink).
And on top of
everything else, I'm supposed to be starting class on Jan. 11 - and my FAFSA
got totally messed up which means I have no idea what I'm going to be paying to
attend school yet and I can't apply for loans.I have spent hours on the phone with the FAFSA people (each of
whom does not know what the person in the cubicle next to them is doing and
saying - like most government offices) and talking to my advisor and the
financial aid dept. at BVU.I even made
a special trip up to Ankeny yesterday to meet with the ICAN rep who filed the
FAFSA in the first place. I think it's
all going to work out.BVU is very
willing to have me go ahead and start even w/o the financial plan in place yet
as long as I sign a promissory note.But
it's been stressful and has made me wonder if I'm even supposed to be
going to school right now.Is this God's
way of putting the brakes on this or is it just trials I have to persevere
On top of all
this, I am getting a very distinct impression that my job as City clerk is
coming to an end.Nobody has said
anything and I can only say that this "feeling" must be from the
Lord.Of course, this throws me into a
bit of a mental panic.How will I
replace that income, esp. with going to school?I guess I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.I'm not planning on quitting the job, but I
am just certain, all the same, that I will not hold this position for much
longer.Sometimes you just know
when you hear the voice of the Lord and I am definitely hearing that right
now.But it doesn't mean I'm going to be
out of the job tomorrow, either.Maybe
God is only preparing me for something that's still a ways down the road.I guess time will tell.
Wow - is this
enough negativity for one post?
good things in my life!
Arien is coming
over Sat. so I can help her shop for Will's Christmas present and so she can
help me with my wrapping.She's coming
again Sunday so I can introduce her to "Forrest Gump" which she has
never seen while the guys all hunt.
I am under-budget
this year for Christmas buying - always a good thing.
A sweet, older
lady at church slipped a $20 bill in my Christmas card Sunday.
My contractor came
out Saturday and finished the work on the house!
I have heat.I have more than enough clothes to wear.I have plenty of food.
I have a van with
213,000 miles on it that still starts every single time I insert the key.Although, I need to replace the tires and the
brakes are starting to get a little iffy.
David got his
driver's license yesterday.He was so
nervous he was shaking as we walked into the station.I tried to warn him ahead of time that he
might not pass the first driving attempt - and that would, in no way, be a
reflection of his value as a human being. He still wanted it so bad and was up
early with a nervous stomach and the inability to sleep.But he walked in there andaced the test.Now my insurance has shot up $43 a
month.But I have another driver, which
will be a tremendous help to me...as long as he keeps his car on the road, I
And I have an
i-phone now - my very first smart phone.I am seriously wondering how I lived for so long without this
thing.It is amazing!It took awhile to get it.Will and I visited the US Cellular store last
May to find out what would be what.The
rep we talked to was very confusing, but we came out of there with
understanding we needed to wait until Sept. 1 to have enough points to upgrade,
but those points had to be used by Sept. 30 because they were going to phase
out the points system.
So, in Sept. we
went back to a different store and were told that no, the points were supposed
to have been used by Sept. 1.However, if we wanted to pay an extra $20 per month per line we could go
ahead and upgrade.I don't think
so.So, we were going to have to wait
until March which is when we could upgrade.And then, a few weeks ago I got a card in the mail from US Cellular
thanking me for being such a loyal customer and offering early upgrades.
And that's what we
did.Both Will and I walked out of the
store a week ago with brand new i phone 6s - which are not the latest model,
but that's ok.And the best part?I am paying less money per month now
for better phones and a larger data plan.Who knew?Maybe that's why God
had that clerk mess up last summer and tell us the wrong thing, so that we
could get a better deal in the end.
Yesterday and the
night before were kind of hard on the heart, as well.Monday, Lizzie and Sam got off the bus, both
upset.Another child had told Lizzie to,
"Shut up" and then added, "I'd like to say something else, but
it's racist and I'm not supposed to say that."Later, as she was leaving the bus, he told
her, "You need to leave.We don't
want people like you here.Nobody likes
Lizzie asked me,
"What does 'racist' mean?"She
didn't know.All she knew was that this
boy had been very mean to her.Of
course, I was outraged.I wanted to
chase the bus down, scramble aboard, and choke this child.How dare he?"It's a good thing I'm not a very fast runner
because it gave me time to question both kids and to think about the best
course of action.
I've had the girls
for 3 1/2 years now and up until we have never encountered a shred of
racism.I kind of hoped we never would -
probably naive, huh?My first reaction
wasto console Lizzie and remind her
that there will always be jerks in this world, but to try not to take their
unkindness to heart.But the more I
thought about it, the more I decided this wasn't enough.This child needed to be dealt with.I don't ever want any of my kids picked on,
of course, but I am definitely not going to tolerate racist statements directed
toward my girls.At the same time I
don't want to be looking for offenses or giving the girls a false sense
So the next
morning I made sure I was dressed by the time the bus came.As the kids got on the bus, I followed them
and spoke to the driver who nodded and said this particular boy is a
trouble-maker.I didn't know it until
later, but when he got the kids to school he then went into the principal's
office and told him what I had reported.
In the meantime I
wrote a very firm, but fair letter to the principal.I really had to separate my emotion as I
wrote because I wanted to demand that all hell rain down this child and I had
to force myself to think about what would be the best possible outcome for this
situation.Ultimately, I decided that
what really needed to happen was repentance on the part of this boy and an
apology for Lizzie.She also needed to
understand that his actions were in no way a reflection of the school's
values.I didn't tell the principal
that, other than to ask him to please advise me to what he ended up doing so I
knew what, if any, further steps to take (meaning, "if you don't take care
of this, I'm going over your head"!)
I couldn't be more
pleased with the outcome of the whole ordeal.I heard back from the principal twice yesterday.He was absolutely appalled and assured me
that he would take care of this immediately, adding that racial intolerance is
something he will not stand for one bit.He ended up pulling both Sam and Lizzie out of class, along with some
other kids to find out what exactly had happened on the bus.And then he called the boy's mother to come
to the school.He told me that by the
end, both the boy and his mother were in tears, which made me feel bad.I didn't want to make anybody cry!But it sounds like theyoung man is sincerely sorry and he is
expected to make an apology to Lizzie in the next day or so.In addition, the principal assured me that he
will be receiving consequences both at school and home.
So, I think in the
end this is a good thing, especially if it results in this kid adjusting his
attitude and learning to speak with kindness - or not at all if he can't dredge
up any kind feelings.At the same time,
I am still sick over the fact that Lizzie had to experience this.I keep reminding myself that this probably
would not have happened if I hadn't stuck her in public school.Sigh...
I am very pleased
with how it was handled, though,and I
think I'll take the time to write a note to the district superintendent
commending the elementary school principal's fast and decisive action.
I just ordered my
books for my class off Amazon - only $40 for this term, which doesn't seem too
bad.I had orientation Monday night -
and I was the only person to show up!I
mean, there were only three of us scheduled, but still - why wouldn't you call
if you couldn't make it?It makes you
wonder how serious they are about getting started.I need to buy another laptop between now and
then.That will cost considerably more
than my books, I think!
I am absolutely
falling apart.Yesterday it was a
migraine that didn't release its grip until evening.Today, it's my left hip.I cannot bend over and am dying. Every move I
make sends shooting pain up my back and down my leg.This hip has bothered me since late summer
when the new chiropractor took over that office in Pville where I was
going.He was so rough.So now I'm going to someone else (40 min
away!) and he's really good.I see him
today at 5 - I sure hope it's worth braving that rush hour traffic with 4 kids
in the van, though.
When I got my new
iphone last week the boys were showing me all the features on it, including
Siri, which is the "information" part of the phone.If you want the phone to automatically dial,
you just talk to Siri and she does it.If you want to know about the weather or the capital of Zimbabwe - you
ask Siri.So one of the boys pushed her
button and she said, "Good afternoon, Princess."What?!
remembered.After Paul's death, I had
his contacts transferred into my phone and deleted most of them.But I kept my number in there which he had
stored under the named, "Princess."Siri recognized my number and related it to the only name she had in her
memory bank.I kept that in my contacts
but told Siri to just call me Sarah!
Lizzie is very
fortunate she is not limping around in a cast right now.The girls have (had) a super-heavy mirror in
their bedroom that used to be part of Lizzie's old dresser that I bought off
Craig's List before she came.I got rid
of the dresser last year when I bought new matching ones for the girls from
Homemakers.But I kept the mirror
because it is so pretty.I propped it up
on the desk.Something told me when I
did that that wasn't a good idea, but I ignored that voice.Well, Ellie was messing around the other
night and the mirror came sliding off the desk and onto Lizzie's foot.Fortunately, the mirror did not break -
although I'm planning to get rid of it now, so I guess it would have been ok if
it had broken, although that might have caused injury to the girls, which would
not have been ok.Anyway, Lizzie
immediately ended up with a huge lump on her foot which made me wonder if it
might be broken.But she wasn't
shrieking in pain, either.So I put ice
on it and sent her to bed with the ice pack.The next morning, she had difficulty getting her shoe on, so instead of
putting her on the school bus, I took her to Urgent Care.
They x-rayed her
and said they didn't think it was broken, but were going to send the x-ray to a
radiologist just to make sure.I haven't
heard back, so I assume her bones are all intact.With effort, we've been able to get her shoes
on for the rest of this week and I got her excused from P.E. all week long.Her foot looks black where it hit - I'm
guessing it would be a dark purple color on white skin like mine.Anyway - we were fortunate.
I'm going to buy a
lightweight mirror to hang on their wall.But I'll probably wait until Will gets the panelboard up.Two walls are still lath and plaster and
they're cracking, so I'm going to get him to cover those all up.
One nice thing
that happened yesterday was that when I got home from going to the high school
to design Ben's baby ad with the yearbook advisor I announced that, due to my
pounding head, I was going to lay down for a little bit.Ben's SCL provider, who is a friend, was at
the house (in fact, she came early to babysit Ellie and the other kids when
they got off the bus so I could go do this thing with the yearbook advisor - David was out hunting with her grown sons and unavailable to watch the Littles).When I woke up an hour later she was gone,
but she and Ben had made mac and cheese and baked beans - and had fed all the
Littles for me.What a blessing!
Will had to go to
the dentist again this week.He's
scheduled for a root canal on the 23rd.But last weekend the problem tooth began causing him all sorts of pain
to the point he was texting me and begging me to get ahold of the dentist NOW -
which I couldn't because it was the weekend.But I left two messages and they called me right away on Monday.He was able to go in and the dentist opened
the tooth again and got all the pus out - again.Yuck - what a mess. There is absolutely no
part of me that would ever want to be a dentist or even a hygeniest!But he didn't have time to do the root canal
early, so hopefully, the tooth will hold up until the 23rd.
evening was special.It was the Single
Parent Provision annual Christmas dinner.Last year I went with my friend, Sarah, but this year I went alone - and
I was really ok with that.I brought the
Littles with me because they had their own party in a different part of the
hotel.They loved it - they got pizza
I found myself
mentally contrasting last year's dinner's to this years.I enjoyed last year's, as well, to the point
that I began attending the Mom's Night Out events faithfully.If I had the time I would LOVE to get
involved with one of their weekly Bible studies.But last year I sat there thinking, "I
don't belong here."I felt sorry
for myself because, unlike the majority of mothers in attendance, I didn't do
anything to cause my single parenthood.Not that all single mothers, of course, are responsible.Some truly are abandoned. But I felt like, the rest, to some extent,
weren't blameless as to how they ended up as single mothers.If nothing else, maybe they should have
chosen better mates in the first place.
But since then
I've come to recognize that attitude for what it is.
It doesn't matter
how we ended up on this journey.Goodness
knows, Paul could have left me many times if he had not loved me so much or
been possessed of such high moral character.It's not like I was this outstanding wife all the time.
Our stories are
important, but they're only part of the picture.And the biggest part is that we're here
now.I don't think there was a mother in
that room who doesn't love her children and desire to be the very best parent
she can be, despite the hurt her kids have endured.Our kids are not doomed because they don't
have a dad.Yeah, it's going to make
things more difficult and definitely doubles the responsibility we bear as
But hope abounds.
I sat at a table
of lovely women.The one beside me was a
slender, professional-looking black woman who has 6 children.We talked quite a bit.One of hers was adopted as well.And she's going to college in hopes of
starting a ministry to troubled children.Another is caring for her demanding, invalid mother on top of her own
teenage children.Another is engaged to
be married in a few months - not to the father of her child, but to another man
who is willing to parent her daughter.She and her daughter just came back to the States after spending 6
months in Sudan, ministering to victims of sex trafficking.Another was just laid off from her job and is
tackling potty training with her toddler son.We all had different stories and circumstances (I was the only widow)
but we had more in common than we did differences.The roads that got us all to this particular
path are different, but we're all on the same path now.
We were served a
delicious meal, heard an inspiring Christian woman speak, and were blessed with
gifts and goodies.The lady who founded
SPP stood up and said at the beginning, "As single moms, we often feel
like we have to do everything ourselves.It's hard to let others do for us.I want to say one thing: I know you've got this!But tonight, let us serve you."Or something to that effect, anyway.
So it was nice and
I am just so grateful for the community of people that came together to do
things like this for us.
And that's all I
have right now.I'm going to go put
Ellie down for her nap and keep plugging away at my to-do list (that keeps
getting longer by the minute - I keep thinking of more things that need to be
Oh, and David...I
was mopping my kitchen floor (painfully - this hip in unrelentless in letting
me know it is NOT happy) when I said something about needing to pick up Ellie
from preschool.He quickly said,
"I'll do it!" and just like that he set off on his first solo driving
trip.My heart was in my mouth as he
pulled out of the driveway...but 25 min. later he was back, safe and whole.I must have warned him one too many times
about looking out for the little kids and the cars and the traffic that runs
down the street as you're backing out of the parking spots at the preschool
because David began to get this disgusted look on his face."I know how to do this," he
He came home,
quite satisfied with himself and commented that he had never felt "such
It's December and
I am slogging through it.It'snot that terrible, I guess - not like the
last two Decembers.But it's worse than
the rest of the year.I wonder if I will
ever again have a holiday season where I actually enjoy and anticipate it?
Sunday marked 30
months - 2 1/2 years.That seems sort of
significant to me because it's half of five years.And there's a part of me that has always
thought, "At 5 years, I'll finally be ok."Or,
"At 5 years,
my life will be back on track."And,
survive anything for 5 years."
Maybe!Although, 2 1/2 years from now I may shake my
head and wonder what I thought was so special about hitting the five year mark.
Yesterday, I got
his grave decorated for Christmas.In
Oct, his mother and sister had decorated the grave - with fresh produce
(pumpkins, gourds).They were still
there, only not nearly so fresh anymore. What an icky mess.Our cemetery is rural and because of that
there really aren't any rules as far as what type of stone you can have and
what kind of decorations you use.Some
people actually have garden fencing around their stones.Some have planted peony bushes that are huge
now.The down side to this lack of
policy is that nobody cleans up your grave, either!They have a groundskeeper but if you have
junk in front of the stone, he's not going to touch it in order to weed eat.
So guess who had
to clean up the rotten pumpkin and gourds?
They had also left
this poem they had printed onto some supposedly waterproof thing designed for
graves.It's one of those that makes me
roll my eyeballs.You see them all the
time.The poem is supposed to be from
the perspective of the deceased and he's talking about how he's always with you
and when you're crying at night he's right there with you (creepy).He's talking about you shouldn't be sad
because Heaven is so awesome so go ahead and live your life, but hurry up and
die, too, so you can back together.
paraphrasing.Is there a problem with
drawing comfort from Scripture rather than cheesy poetry?
But, I understood
this brought comfort to Paul's family so I wasn't going to remove it from his
grave even though I certainly never would have put up something like that.I left it up there yesterday when I
decorated.However, I discovered this
"waterproof" case is not so much.The sides are already beginning to separate.I'll just leave it until it completely gives
way, I guess.
I got done, rocked
back on my heels to observe my work, and decided that there isn't a whole lot
more sad in the world than decorating a grave for Christmas or a birthday, I
don't think.It's the only way you can
spend time "with" your loved one and it's the only thing you can
actually do for them.But it's not what
you would have preferred to be doing with and for them at these times of
Will got my storm
door hung yesterday.My contractor still
has some things to do on the house and he told me in Oct. he'd be back in a few
weeks to hang the door and do those final things.I haven't heard a peep out of him since.I finally got ahold of him a couple of weeks
ago and he said he's waiting on his supplier.Sigh...
But it's getting
colder (well, not this week - it's actually unseasonably warm right now, but
that won't last).And I can't wait on
some balky supplier to have a storm door when cold air is blowing into my
house!It ended up being a rather time
consuming job and took Will several hours.But it's all insulated and hung now.
I ended up
dreaming last night that my contractor said he needed more money from me
and when he said he needed a check for over $10,000 I just started
bawling.But then I thought to myself in
my dream, "I'm SO glad Will installed that door himself so I didn't have
to pay for that, too!"
dreams, I ended up dreaming about Paul last week.That is a very rare occurrence anymore.In the dream I was on the phone with a
repairman who was going to do some work on my van.For some reason he wanted to talk to a male
before starting the work (sounds kind of sexist to me, as I think about it) so
I wandered into the kitchen and handed the phone to Paul who talked with
him.Then he hung up and asked,
"Why are we paying someone else to work on our vehicles?"That is totally the way he would have
phrased it, too!
"Because on June 6th, you're going to die."Paul's eyebrows shot up and he looked very
thoughtful.And then I began to explain
everything that would happen in the months following his death.He nodded and wandered out of the room.Obviously, time was a very fluid thing in my
dream.But it was interesting to me to
recall it once I awoke.
Sam came home one
day last week, very serious (he always is) and said, "Well, Mom, youmight think this is funny, but I have
something to tell you."He paused
and then said,
"I have a
To my credit, I did
not laugh.Instead, I asked him what it
was that he liked about this particular classmate (named, "Sky" of
all things!).But on the inside I was
thinking, "Seriously?...and then, "I hate public schools...").I was reminded of a conversation I overheard
the night of parent/teacher conferences.Two moms were talking and they were commenting how one of the lower
elementary classes seemed to be "pairing up" awfully fast as in,
"boyfriend/girlfriend" stuff.At the time it made me inwardly roll my eyeballs.It never occurred to me my own kids might get
sucked into that.
Later I did talk
to Sam about the importance of saving the words, "I love you" for
someone really, really special and for when he's a lot older.He seemed to take that to heart.
The next night we
went to the elementary Christmas concert.Now, that was a real disappointment to me.I've always appreciated Ben's Christmas
concerts at the high school level because there is always a selection of sacred
holiday music used.They've always been
really good concerts, as a result.I
mentioned that to his old music teacher and she commented that the parents and
the community at large seem especially enthusiastic about including songs about
Baby Jesus so she always made sure to do that.In contrast, I remember the joke of a Christmas concert we attended at
the Missouri Valley school when Ben was in kindergarten.It was held a couple of weeks before
Christmas but was called a "Winter concert."Every single song was about Santa Claus.I homeschooled for the next 7 years, but
found Pleasantville's Christmas concerts, once Ben was back in school, to be
So imagine how
disappointed I was last Thursdaynight
when I got to the school and was handed a program entitled, "Holiday
Concert."And thenthese elementary kids all got up on stage and
began singing songs about Santa and getting lots of presents.Sigh...
intermission came after the 2nd graders performed so we were able to leave at
that point, rather than having to sit through three more grade levels of
As we were
leaving, Sam pointed out a father/daughter duo and excitedly told me,
"That's Sky, Mom!"Sky is a
good six inches taller than Sam, which made me smile.
Tomorrow night is
Ellie's preschool Christmas concert (or "Holiday" concert?) so I will
be curious to see what they do.The
preschool is held in the basement of the Methodist church and the program is in
the church auditorium, so surely they will have some sacred selections - right?
It's sunny out
today.The weathermen are saying to not
count on having a white Christmas this year, in fact.I guess that's ok.We've had quite a few white ones in recent
years.It seemed like it rained non-stop
the last two weeks of November.I just
remembered the other day an experience that I wanted to share.
So it was one of
those rainy mornings and I was heading north on Highway 5 after dropping Ellie
off at preschool.I needed to go to Des
Moines, as I recall.All of a sudden, I noticed
this pretty rainbow.As I drove closer,
the clouds dissipated and I had to reach for my sunglasses.The brilliance of the sun and rainbow was
simply astounding.My first thought was
to wonder if there are rainbows in Heaven.And then it occurred to me that maybe what I was experiencing, this
sudden brightness and explosion of color, was just a taste of Heaven sent down
for our pleasure.I sat in my van while
passing under the sun and rainbows and felt warm from the inside out.
As I looked in my
rearview mirror I could still see the gray clouds behind me.And after just a few miles, I found myself
removing my sunglasses as I drove into more clouds and rain began once again
spattering the windshield.It occurred
to me that life is a lot like this highway (I think Rascal Flatts recorded a
song by that title, in fact).
So much of life is
just plain hard.And it seems
like problems seem to multiply when you're already in the midst of one.Or as the adage says, "Trouble comes in
threes!"But every so often in the
midst of of sludging through one heartache and trial after another, a bit of
sunshine and happiness slips in.God
clears the skies for a little bit and you get to experience a gorgeous rainbow
and sunshine in the form of some unexpected happiness.
last.We know that in this sin-sick,
rotting world, nothing good can.But for
a little while, that happiness is enough to infuse our weary souls with enough
hope to shoulder through the next round of clouds and rain.
have learned in two years of widowhood:
• God is
good - so, so good
• I am loved far more than I ever knew
• I have amazing, resilient children (I am reaping what Paul sowed into their
• Darkness eventually gives way to light
• Strength and wisdom are mine for the asking
• I don't have to have all the answers
• God delights in carefully and tenderly mending torn-apart hearts
73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and
my portion forever.