Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 884

Nov. 1, 2015

Day 884


Boy, am I grainy today.  We set our clocks back, so you'd think I would be full of extra energy, but I'm not.  I took a nap this afternoon and I slept really hard and I haven't quite awakened from that yet.


Well, this week went by pretty quickly and I think this next week will be even faster.


Halloween is finally over.  I feel like the celebration got kind of stretched out this year between The Pumpkin Party at Valley, Night Eyes, wearing their costumes to school and having the parade on Thursday, and then trick or treating on Friday.  I was relieved to be able to finally toss their costumes in the laundry.


Arien came over and went trick or treating with us on Friday.  We walked around Swan and I was able to introduce her to everyone.  I realized that I know practically everyone in town, which is probably due in part to being the clerk, but also because I have lived here for 11 years now.  It didn't strike me until that evening, though, what a sense of community we have here.  And I don't even like everyone who lives here.  But almost all of us know each other.  When I told people that Arien was Will's girlfriend, their eyes lit up and I could tell they were really happy for him.  It's kind of a neat thing.


We went down to Pville afterwards to score some more candy and I realized, just in the few houses we went to, that I'm getting to know quite a few people who live down there, too.  As we were going through the haunted house, one woman came up to me and told me that her daughter is in class with Lizzie and "absolutely adores her!"  I'm not so sure that's true - at least I've never heard Lizzie mention her daughter - but it still made me feel included and part of something.


The "haunted house" I referenced isn't really a haunted house, per se.  The guy who used to have the contract for Swan's garbage (we switched a number of years ago, though) is really into decorating his house for the holidays.  He has a large, two-story home on one of the main streets in Pville.  Every single holiday he has all kinds of blow-up decorations and lights displayed.  By accident we discovered last year that his Halloween display goes way beyond decorating  his front yard.  The house has a wrap around porch.  He has so many Halloween displays that they run all through the porch, through the back yard, and around the side of the house.  They all light up, moan, and spew red water (blood).  My kids are delighted with it.  I think Sam and Lizzie went through three or four times.  Two was enough for me. 


There's a part of me that loves Halloween.  And I've never been squeamish, so blood and skeletons don't bother me, either.  But as I stood in the front yard waiting for the kids, by a "graveyard" scene of toppled tombstones and zombies clawing their way out of the ground, and as a green eyed, electronic ghost moaned into the wind, and I was then startled when I looked up and saw a grisly, bigger-than-life-sized zombie ghost strung up on the flag pole, I kind of wanted to throw up.  I kept thinking of the verse in Deuteronomy 30 that urges God's people to "choose life."  The thought then occurred to me that all of human life ultimately ends up in death.  Generally it's not as grisly as what was being portrayed in this guy's get-up in his yard.  Most of us die in pretty humane ways and I assure you, that none of us are trying to crawl out of our graves or haunt those still living.  But that's what unique about the Gospel.  The Gospel offers life to those that will eventually die.  Jesus said in John 10, "I am come that they might have life..."  And as I waited for my kids I had to wonder, what must God think of this Halloween scene we were viewing?  None of it had anything to do with life at all.


I was bothered as we walked around by a body bag scene.  Of course, there was a bloodied, zombie-like head sticking out of the top of it.  Three years ago I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  But I saw Paul's body removed in a body bag out of an ambulance and loaded into the Medical Examiner's station wagon.  So, because of my personal experience, that particular scene bothered me.


Is any of this wrong, though?  Is celebrating Halloween wrong?  I don't know.  I just know it didn't feel right and holy that night as I stood there.  Maybe it's one of those things I will wrestle with every year for the rest of my life.


On a happier note, Lizzie had her birthday yesterday.  I love that girl so much.  It was a good, quiet day.  I got a number of things done around the house, including scrubbing down my grody bathtub (yay, me!) and then we had tacos, per her request and then we did her birthday.  I realized she did not get one single toy.  At 7, she is already prefers a lot of older type things.  It's not that she never plays with toys - but it isn't real common, actually.  She asked for a "real" eyeliner and mascara, so I got her those.  I also got her some coveted, sparkly high top tennies she had her eye on, and some roller skates and a new bike from my parents so I guess those last two things are kid-like in nature.  She  was happy.


Lizzie requested a "graveyard" cake which is something I used to make every few years around Halloween.  I made one the first year she was here but haven't had the heart to do it since.  It's amazing how experiencing death for real gives a sour taste to anything pertaining to death.  But that was  what she wanted and then yesterday, she informed me she wanted to do the decorating, which was fine.  She and Sam did it together and came up with a pretty eerie scene of an "old, abandoned, graveyard, Mom!" complete with broken popsicle sticks for "zombie arms."


A few weeks ago this "They Say, You Hear" list popped up on my newsfeed.  I actually saved it because it's so right.  This one is about grieving.  I think I've heard about every single one of these in one form or the other.


They say: You need to try to move on

You hear: You've been upset for too long


They say: You will have more kids/another best friends/fall in love again

You hear: Your loved one is replaceable


They say: They're in a better place

You hear: They're better off without you


They say: How are you doing since, you know?

You hear: I'm afraid to say their name because I don't want you to lose it.


They say:I know how you feel

You hear: I assume all grief is the same


They say: I'll be hugging my loved ones tighter tonight

You hear: I still have my loved ones to hug.


They say: You are never given more than you can handle

You hear: You should have no problem handling this.


They say: They are no longer in pain.

You hear: You are being selfish for wishing they were still here.


They say: God has a plan.

You hear: God did this to you.


They say: Let me know if you need anything.

You hear: You are not going to hear from me for awhile.

They say: They wouldn't want you to be sad.

You hear: You aren't handling this correctly.


They say: This is a part of life.

You hear: This isn't a part of my life, but it's a part of your life, so you have to deal with it.


They say: Stay strong.

You hear: Your sadness is a weakness.


They say: This, too, shall pass.

You hear: You have a time limit on grieving for your loved one.


They say: At least you had the time you did with your loved one.

You hear: You're being ungrateful.



One day this week Lizzie said something about seeing a spider.  Since she was sitting on a kitchen stool eating her cereal at the counter I immediately launched into, "Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey..."  From there, an animated discussion arose between Lizzie and Sam.  Lizzie acsertained correctly that a "tuffet" was the item on which Miss Muffet sat, while Sam was convinced that it was another word for her bottom. 


Another night, Lizzie was complaining about the supper I served.  Sam commented to her that when he goes hunting with his new BB gun and brings home a squirrel, "You're going to have to eat that!"  Sorry, Kid - I'm pretty sure even I won't be eating a squirrel.


I went through the rest of Paul's clothes this week, which was harder than I thought.  We got the quilts a couple of weeks ago, but they didn't use everything.  There were still a few shirts and suit coats, along with his robe.  Will took a few things, but I still had a tub full of clothes.  So, I bucked up one day and made myself do it.  A lot of the dress shirts I ended up throwing away.  They were too old, threadbare, and had soiled collars.  The stuff that was ok, I put in my goodwill tub.  I stuck his robe in the corner of the laundry room.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with that.  I'm not quite ready to get rid of it.  Anyway, it was emotionally draining to do that.  But it's done now.


My friend, Tina, teaches in a Christian school in S. Korea, where she has both MKs and native children in her classroom.  One day recently she was showing them a picture of an early-American schoolroom, complete with wooden desks and slates.  The slates, of course, are what they used before paper became widely available.  They're about 9" X 7" or so.  Well, her students, in awe, piped up, "They had ipads then?!"  She said she had a hard time convincing them those were not ipads!   I thought that was pretty funny.


I am closer to being a college student again.  This week I made some phone calls and was pretty discouraged by the end of it.  The schools I contacted did not offer English degrees in either on-line form or night classes.  I'd be fine to attend some day classes for the next couple of years, but I am anticipating being employed during the day by the fall of 2018.  I sure wouldn't want to get in a position where I couldn't work because I had to finish my degree during the day.  Then what would we do for money?  And I just do not like the idea of being an actual, on-campus student.  I could perhaps do that for a class or two, but that would still end up being a lot of time away from home.  I don't have enough time now, as it is, to do everything that needs to be done.  How on earth would I fit in  extra hours for driving to and from school, going to class, doing homework, and still, single-handedly, running my household and being a good mom?  The thought was really depressing.  I began to think maybe I would have to choose a different degree.  But I couldn't shake the idea that an English degree would be perfect for me, especially with my writing, which is what I really want to do.


And then I got a call back from Buena Vista University.  I think God sent the perfect rep to respond to my inquiry.  She is my age.  I ended up explaining to her my entire situation - widowhood, the kids, how I am just wanting a Bachelors degree so I can be a sub, which will give me a certain amount of flexibility with my hours and allow me to still be off when my kids don't have school.  As it turns out, she just got her sub license last summer.  So she knew all about it!  And BV offers an English degree.  In fact, they offer it only on-line!  Their headquarters are in western Iowa (I remember Paul actually checked them out for me in the early 90s when I was in school and we were trying to figure out how to get married, but keep me going to school, too) but they have a satellite office in Newton, which about a half hour from my house. 


I'm kind of excited.  If I get started after Christmas, I'd probably have my degree in about 3 years.  This would be taking one class every 8 weeks, which is how they offer them.  So, right now my job is  to obtain my transcripts and get my FAFSA filed. 


So...the future beckons.  I don't know what all it would entail.  Of course, nobody knows that.  But I'm taking another step forward.


Twenty one years ago tonight I was eagerly anticipating the start of a new stage of life, too: motherhood.  I was past my due date and anxious to meet this baby boy who took up so much space in my body.  I was also anxious to get his feet out of my rib cage, as I recall.  Less than twenty four hours later he would be in my arms.


And now, while still firmly in the trenches of motherhood, I am looking over the horizon for another future that awaits.


I don't know that it will be as thrilling as first-time motherhood was, but I'm  still kind of looking forward to it!





















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.














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