Thursday, August 27, 2015

Day 814


Day 814


We'll see if I get this wrapped up today.


I had a funeral this morning I was supposed to attend (nobody said I had to, but I put that pressure on myself).  But I didn't go, figuring I will write the widow, an older friend of mine, a letter instead.  I'm not quite sure why I didn't go.  I've been to other funerals since Paul's death.  But I didn't want to, so I didn't.  Maybe it was selfishness; maybe it was trying to slow down in a week that  has been pretty insane, schedule-wise.


I'm going to have to swing by the eyeglass place tomorrow.  This left lens is just not quite right.


I've been skipping a lot of church lately.  It's not completely intentional.  My last few Wednesday nights just have not worked, schedule-wise and because of allergies.  Last night I had a monster of a headache.  Besides, I am going to work in Patch club, starting in a couple of weeks, so I know these weeks of Wed. night freedom are drawing to a close.  I'm staying home on Sunday nights for a couple of months because our pastor has started a series on marriage.  I have no objection to that, I think it's important.  Families are the backbone of the church and they are definitely under attack.  But right now, I just can't sit through studies on the importance and implementation of a biblical marriage.  I told the kids it would be like if our dr. told us we could no longer eat chocolate and we found out our church was going to begin a series on the joys of chocolate - how to eat it, how to enjoy it better, God's plan for chocolate in our lives...


Not happening.


So, anyway, with all the Wednesday night services we've missed lately, we've gotten to watch the normal line-up on channel 5 (ABC?) which is pretty good - "The Middle," "The Goldbergs," and "Blackish," - the girls love that show.  I think it's a little dumb, but they are attracted to the color of the characters, which is fine.  At least they're portrayed as an upper middle class family, not gangbangers in the 'hood.  Last week I watched both "The Middle" and "The Goldbergs" and both episodes dealt with the parents desiring to spend time with their teen and college-age children - but the kids didn't have a real interest in that - surprise, surprise...


It occurred to me that right now, I am always looking for an "escape" from my Littles.  I can't even type on the computer without Lizzie leaning on my shoulders, pressing my elbows into the keypad.  I don't dare send any of them to bed without tucking them in, and all day long I hear, "Mom, Mom, Mom!"


It is exhausting.


But they grow too quickly.  And soon I'll be in the shoes of the characters on these made-up tv shows.  I already am with Will.  I feel grateful when he actually sits down and shares bits of his life with me.  Grateful!  And yet, I'm the one who got my gut cut open for him, nursed him non-stop for his first year of life, and basically kept him alive for those first few years...and now I'm in a position to be thankful for any scraps of time that he deigns to throw my way.


It's the way it goes, I guess, the natural order of things.  Kids have to separate from their parents in order to become adults and later, decent spouses and parents to their own children.  But it sometimes seems unfair that the one (me) who gave so much gradually gets pushed out of the way altogether.


Anyway, it makes me think I probably shouldn't cringe so much when the Littles' demands on my time and attention seem so onerous.  It's not going to last.


A couple of weeks ago the football legend, Frank Gifford, died.  I had never heard of him until I was in my early twenties and working and the "Regis and Kathy Lee" show would be on at work.  Anyway, he died of old age and Kathy was back at her post on the Today show.  She made a very God-honoring tribute to her late husband that morning and I thought she did a great job of holding herself together.


But then I began to see some criticism on the internet of the fact that she was back to work after only 8 days.  Some were accusing her of not being very feeling or appropriate.  Give me a break!


I can tell those criticizing idiots why she was back at work so soon.  When your world has been shaken to its core you desire stability and return to familiarity just as quickly as you can manage to get your feet back up and moving, supporting your weight.  Anything that is slightly familiar is clung to with the grip of a toddler on toy.  Getting back into any sort of routine or engaging in activities that happened before the loss are NOT an indication of one's heart.  They are simply a way of surviving.


Sometime last week Lizzie accused Sam of pushing Ben.  Sam looked at her and commented, "Nuh, uh - the only people I would push on purpose are you and Ellie!"

I guess he gets points for honesty!


The other night a friend, who is really, really good with my kids, invited us all over for supper.  I had told the Littles we were going, but they didn't realize I was planning on going, too.  When they found out, Sam expressed his disappointment and explained, "Things just aren't as fun when you're around!"


I'm feeling loved.


I'm still puzzling out something that happened to me last Friday.  Last week I read an article written by a friend in which she touched on the topic of bitterness.  She mentioned how it is so easy for her to ruminate on wrongs done to her.  Boy, can I relate!  I wonder if it's a female thing.  I'll pull out these offenses and rub them over and over again in my mind, like I'm polishing a stone or something.  Even if I try to think about other things, my mind keeps going back to what was done to me.


A lot of Christians blithely advise others that they just "need to forgive" but I've never completely bought into that theory, either.  How do you forgive someone who doesn't ask for forgiveness?  How do you forgive someone who isn't even sorry?  I was really glad a few years ago when our church did a video series by a gentleman who backed me up.  His belief was that, as Christians, we need to be in a place of being willing to forgive the offender, but forgiveness is a two-way endeavor and can't happen until asked for.


My friend said that she finally began praying for those that  had offended her when these thoughts would come.  It's not a huge secret that a lot wrong has been done to me by Paul's family since his death, particularly.  It has been very easy for me to dwell on this, partially I would imagine because it's been so devastatingly painful for me.  A few months ago it occurred to me that I need to be cautious, lest I end up just as bitter as they are.  I definitely don't want that kind of disease in my spiritual and emotional life.  I've actually made a lot of progress in recent months of simply letting go and walking away.  Just recently I was talking with my pastor's wife about this and finally admitting to her that I don't think reconciliation is going to happen and she agreed with me.  At the same time, though, I've been praying that reconciliation will occur and that it will be so deep and so miraculous and genuine that it is obvious to all that this has come about solely because of God.


So anyway, I chewed over my friend's words and last Thursday night as I was driving the old, familiar hurts rose up in my mind.  But this time I immediately began praying and it wasn't, "Lord - show them where they are totally wrong and make them want to make this right!"  Rather I was able to actually pray for them in a manner that had nothing to do with what they have done to me.  I can't describe the peace that washed over me right then.


That's not to say I've suddenly got this whole being-offended thing right.  I'm still hurt.  They're still wrong.  I still need to stick to my guns about the proper method of reconciliation.  I still need to observe the protective boundaries I've erected around the children and myself.  But it's progress.  All along I've been sure they need to change - and they do.  But maybe there was a part of me that needed to change, too.


So, that was Thursday.  Friday, my jaw about hit the f loor when the kids announced that "someone is here" and I walked out to the kitchen and it was Paul's brother, Mike, and his family.  I haven't seen them since about two weeks after the funeral.  They have not been offensive and done anything hurtful.  They just haven't done anything at all - which is hurtful in a situation like this, but it's pretty par for the course with them.  There's never been a, "Thinking of you" note on FB or anything like that.  But, they haven't accused me of manslaughter/causing Paul's dad's heart attacks/desiring to kill his parents,, it is what it is with them.


My first thought was to wonder if this was an answer to my prayers the night before.  I honestly don't know if it was or not.  Nonetheless, I found the visit encouraging, if a bit weird.  I was concerned that they would desire to talk about the situation with the rest of the family, but they didn't, and I wasn't about to bring it up, myself!  So we chatted about non-important things and after about a half hour, they left.


All of this has me saying, hmmm....


I don't know.  I just really don't.


A couple of days later I swung by the cemetary because I had a couple of things to drop off at the grave.  I found some antlers pinned to the ground beside the grave marker and I knew Mike had been there.  It was perfect.  He and Paul had hunted together from the time they were children.  I wonder why we never thought to put anything about hunting up there?  That was such a big part of his life.  But it seems fitting that they came from his brother.



Recently, I wrote about all these dire prophecies and predictions I'm hearing right now regarding the end of the world, a coming financial crisis, and so on.  I'm not joining the clamor, but neither am I completely ignorant, either.  I'm watching.


Well, this week my "No Greater Joy" newsletter/magazine arrived.  It's put out by the Pearls and while I don't agree with all their parenting advice, I do find the biblical teaching pretty solid.  This very subject was addressed.  One thing they pointed out was Luke 21: 25-27


And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud iwth power and great glory.


Their point was that we should not panic, but the dread we are seeing today amongst Christians is a sign itself that something is coming.


So, we'll see, I guess.


I mentioned yesterday about our experience at the fair - how it was a less than fun time.  You want to know what else ruined it for me?  I was wandering around the quilts.  Quilting is an art that I completely admire, mostly because I know there is no way I'll ever be able to do it myself.  There's a whole lot of work that goes into those things.  One I saw was pink and had a "horse" theme.  It had pictures of horses screenprinted onto fabric which was then quilted.  The binding and background were all done with a "horsey" fabric.  The maker even quilted the word, "horses" onto her work of art, just in case the viewer didn't quite grasp the theme.


Only, she quilted, "HORSE'S"


Ruined...completely ruined...


I was telling this story to Kathy the other day and she laughed and said, "Only you, Sarah - only you!"


I don't think it's only me.
And a tonight's school open house, I had a letter from one of the kids' teachers that began, "Dear Parent's,"  No, no, NO-O-O!!!


Yesterday Sam and the 12 year old neighbor kid asked if I had any spray paint with which they could paint their scooters.  I didn't see any harm in it so I let them have some, warning them to spray away from the garage.  They agreed and it wasn't too much later that they were zipping down the alley on their freshly painted scooters.  All was fine until I happened to look at the cement slab in front of the garage.  Those rotten kids had written their name in spray paint!  They also wrote the names of several of their siblings!  It looks like gang symbols are all over the parking area now.


NOT happy...


I dealt with Sam and when that kid came back I confronted him (nicely) and he miserably told me he was sorry.  He added, "It seems like I'm always saying that, but I really do mean it!"  This is the same kid that planted his big bare foot on my freshly painted back steps - after I had just used the last of the paint and it seems like he did a couple of other things this summer, too, that I can't remember now.


That cracked me up.  I didn't show it, though.  I have a fairly good idea of what his home life is like and I suspect I  may be the only adult in his life that extends him grace, so I'm trying to be nice here.


I took Sam and Lizzie to the open house at school tonight.  I am having a bit of an internal freak-out, but trying to remain calm.  I can't believe I'm doing this.  Well, I can, but I can't.  What am I thinking?


The other night I had dinner with three ladies in my writing group before our meeting started.  I shared with them how I had just read a statistic the night before that only FIVE percent of children who go through the public school system retain their Christian faith after graduation.  Now, granted, this was in a homeschool publication that I read this.  I have no idea where the author got his figure.  I expected the ladies to immediately assure me that that number had to be way off base.  Instead, each of them nodded and commented about how they each had a child who, for a time at least, had walked away from his faith.  Argh!  What am I doing?


I know there are no guarantees.  I graduated from a Christian school and not all who professed Christ in my class still walk with Him today.  I can point to several public school kids in my church youth group who, thirty years later, have a vibrant walk with the Lord.  A couple I think of even became pastor's wives.


I know it's not all about the schooling.  Home life and parenting, along with self-will, have an awful lot to do with how a child turns out, too. 


This summer God brought a couple of people into Will's life at camp with whom he was able to connect and get advice as he plans his future.  One was a public school teacher who has seven kids, all of whom are homeschooled presently, but he's hoping to change that.  He pointed out to Will that public schools are a wide-open mission field and have only gotten darker as Christian parents have largely pulled their kids out.  But then I am reminded of all the homeschool speakers I've heard who assert that our kids will not change the darkness; the darkness will change them.


I know this is temporary freak out session.  I am not forgetting the peace that has long accompanied this decision to enroll the kids.  Despite the flurry of misgivings I am having at this very moment, I really don't doubt this decision.  It's right for right now.


I am not deciding the course of their entire education.  I am deciding it for right now.  For a first and second grade year.  That's all.


It just seemed so official tonight - meeting the teachers, putting their things in their desks and lockers (they're mini-lockers located in their classrooms - so cute!), signing up for class party treats, reserving a slot for parent/teacher conferences, walking through the doors and down to the rooms a second time just so the kids will be confident on Monday that they know where they are going...


I'm handing them over to someone else.


I hope they value them the way I do.



















What I 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 lives)
• 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

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

ow with a certain amount of anticipation, although there are still moments when I am sick at heart to think that that future will never again include him, other than the quick glimpses I sometimes see in my sons. As much as hope is beginning to seep back into our lives, I am also accepting that, for the rest of our lives, we will be among the walking wounded, forever hurt and altered by Paul's early death. As sad as that sounds, it really isn't, though. Even scarred, life is still pretty beautiful.

What I 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 lives)
• 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

Psalm 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.



































  1. Nope. You're not the only one. That is not a greeting. It is two words put together. Dear Parent's.....what? What's next?
    And, is it a wonder that the girl's quilt was wrong when even teachers don't know?

  2. This is my take on forgiveness. We are called to forgive everyone. But that doesn't mean we set aside boundaries, it doesn't mean we "forgive and forget." I think it means taking a very hurtful situation and saying to God, "Lord, it is in your hands. You take care of this. You bless these people and guide them towards your truth." It is startling to read, in Psalms, how David says some really rough things about his enemies -- things like, may their children be begging bread, may their lives be cursed. It sounds so -- un-Christian -- and I don't understand it entirely. BUT, here was a guy with God's hand on him and I think he was just saying, honestly -- I'm angry, Lord, and I want you to take care of it. He was amazingly self controlled about not attacking King Saul personally. He wanted the Lord to take care of it.
    Re school, I think in your last blog post you said something like "I just can't do this right now." I really believe, as human beings, we need to respect our own limitations. There are times when I push push push because I "ought" to do something, or think I should. And when I step back, and pray, I realize the Lord is giving me rest and I can give up a particular activity or task for a season. We just stopped going to a local American Heritage Girls troop (which is a great organization) because I am just pushed to my LIMIT and that was one thing I needed to drop, for a season. Children do thrive in ps. You prayed, and felt God's peace. This is the right decision for this season. God bless them, and you, during the transition time. (And, a soapbox issue for me is HOMEWORK, which I think it totally inappropriate for young ones. I hope you'll mention in your blog what the homework burden is. Where we live, the local ps kids have a lot.) Ok -- this is a long comment. And I'll sign off.