Processing

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-

This was written last night, when things always seem darker than they are...  I took it down this morning because it's such a raw post.  I consider myself a pretty open person, so for me to second guess this post says a lot.  But I want to remember this time, all of  it.  But you are forewarned... 

Have you ever had that moment, when you know you're suddenly existing outside of yourself? It happened tonight. Actually, it's been happening entirely too much lately.  But tonight I stood there, in the middle of the kitchen. Jon and Hudson were going over letters of the alphabet, letters that he should know by now but doesn't yet. Devyn was interjecting, ready to help, often talking over her dad. Reagan was trying to show Jon just how smart she was, and Ashlynn was shrieking her dissatisfaction that she was hungry and no dinner was set before her yet.

I stood there, aware of the chaos, chicken baked and ready to serve. I knew a side dish was required, but I couldn't decide between the rice or potatoes. And as I wondered which required less effort, trying to grab at the elusive logic that this decision should be easy, it happened. The chaos dimmed to a loud roar, no words or voices were heard, just one indecipherable roar. And I pressed my fingers into my eyes, begging myself not to lose it. Not here, not now. The tears squeezed their way through anyway, and in that moment, I decided silent sobs were as painful as loud ones. I wasn't sure why I was crying, I've been doing so much of it lately. I cried reading about Sarah's infertility in 1 Samuel this morning, so I could very well have cried over my inability to choose between rice and potatoes.  Who knows?

Dad's oncologist appointment this afternoon left me more rattled than the actual diagnosis itself. I loved the doctor, he was thorough, personable, and humorous. Everything said through his thick Italian accent made me like him even more. He was positive, encouraging, and gave us his honest opinions. It was refreshing and exactly what we needed.

Which made the things he said, and didn't say, even harder to hear. Yes, he thinks the cancer is bigger and more aggressive than the biopsy shows. Yes, he recommends full removal of the prostate. Yes, Dad's situation is rare but they've seen this before. Yes, he does think Dad will be cured. But don't be surprised if at the follow-up appointment, after surgery, that radiation is still recommended.

I wasn't prepared for this. I was expecting to hear how low risk Dad was; I expected to hear how common this is in men and how fast this would be fixed.  I actually had a script of how it was going to go and the doctor basically said all of his lines wrong.

I want to walk this journey with poise and grace; I want others to see God in all of this. But I also need to be real. And this is hard. This whole year? It has broken me. On the way home, I actually reached for the phone to call Grandma. I can't believe that I forgot for a minute that I wouldn't hear her reassuring words. I bawled telling Jon that story in bed tonight.  I want her here right now, so bad, I physically ache.

This Christmas season was already going to be hard. It was always her season. Begging Mom to go shopping with her... making us go shopping with her. She lived for Christmas mornings, she delighted in watching her great-grandchildren shout and squeal in excitement over gifts she bought. She prided herself on the Christmas dinner. It was already going to be hard!

And now this...

I don't know. I don't get it. I don't have answers or easy fixes. I don't understand what God is doing here. Am I still confident in His goodness? His sovereignty? Of course. Will I still sing his praises? Absolutely. But I get to be mad. And scared. I can be confused by His plans and wonder at the bigger picture. He's bigger than my doubt and human emotions. And even though He knows how it all turns out and why it must happen right now, in this way, He's hurting with me. There's comfort in that...

But right now, I need a few days, I need some time, because I'm not ok. I'm a bundle of exposed nerves and hurt and anger. I don't like not having the right answer, or right thing to say. So it's better to sit still and say nothing at all...

The Rules

Monday, November 26, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

OrnamentIt was the last day of our Thanksgiving break.  After many requests, beginning two weeks ago, I finally broke down and made the chex mix that is now synonymous with Christmas tradition.  While the chex mix baked, we dug out the ornament kits we used at Devyn’s slumber party on Friday night. 

There we sat, Devyn, Hudson, and Reagan each with their own set of gingerbread house ornament pieces, each engrossed in their project.  All was calm and quiet.

…until, that is, Hudson noticed Reagan’s gingerbread house.

“Reagan, its not supposed to look like that!”  It was horror at its finest.

With a shrug, Reagan said, “Yeah it is, Hudson!”

“No,” he insisted.  Then bringing the picture example on the box over to Reagan, he pointed to it.  “Its supposed to look like this!”

Reagan looked at Hudson, then the box, then back at her own ornament.  I could see the wheels turning in her head as she debated her response.

With classic Reagan attitude, she placed her hands on her hips and said, “I like it this way, Hudson!”

And that explains the dynamic difference of these two, this brother and sister.  One obeys the rules, likes the rules, and wants everyone to obey the rules.  The other… not so much.  They are going to drive each other nuts from now until the end of time.

30 Days of Thanks, Part II

Monday, November 26, 2012 2 Comments A+ a-

30DaysPartII11.  It was a good day, and I can't choose one thing. I'm thankful for our church and a pastor who brings just the right message when I need it. I'm thankful for impromptu Starbucks dates with Littles #1 and #3. I'm thankful for veterans, who have sacrificed so much for freedom. I'm just thankful for Sundays, a fresh start to a new week.

12.  I am thankful for Jon. He has been my best friend for 15 years, he knows me better than I know myself. I'm thankful that after a rough season, we coming through the valley stronger than ever. Babe, thank you for being on this journey with me. I'm looking forward to the next hilltop.

13.  I am so very thankful for a God who is true... yesterday, today, tomorrow. His words breathe life into my soul. And I'm thankful for the mornings when its Him, I, and a good cup of coffee. Now if only I could consistently meet Him each morning...

14.  I am so thankful for this girl, the one we didn't plan but desperately needed. I'm thankful for her impish smile and spunky personality. I'm thankful for her love of dancing and babies. I'm thankful for the fullness she brings to our family.

15.  I am thankful for new life. I am thankful we'll be welcoming a niece or nephew in July. Thankful that my sister will be a mother of three. Thankful I'll be holding a newborn come summer time. Praise you, Jesus!!

16.  I am so thankful I get to call this place home. So many wonderful memories from parades to Thursday night concerts to Rio margaritas. There's a reason it was voted #1 place to live in 2006. Love this place!

17.  Today I am thankful for coffee dates, dinners out, play dates, girl days, phone calls, heart-to-hearts, and side-splitting laughter. It has been a blessed week of time with friends. I am so thankful for the people who share life with me.

18.  Oh Reagan. My 1st surprise, my 3rd born. My lover of being naked, my little helper, my spunky personality, the owner of the dancing, wiggling hips and the sing-song voice. Today I am so thankful for you!!

19.  Today I am thankful for a husband who knows the importance of his role in his little girls lives. I am thankful for a man who sets his alarm to run out to buy flowers for his little girl on her birthday.

20.  Today I am thankful for community. The outpouring of love and support via calls, texts, tweets, emails, and comments has been amazing. We are so blessed by the family and friends in our life. I am thankful for the prayers, kind thoughts, and offers of help. It has helped lighten the load to have so many in Dad's corner.

Line in the Sand

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 25 Comments A+ a-

There are times I want to draw a line in the sand, as if to say "Here, and no further." As if I can expect the Lord Almighty to say, "Oh, okay" and respect that I can't handle anything beyond that line. I wonder if it's with an amused smile or a sad shake of His head that He wonders at the smallness of my faith. And I can't help but wonder if that's the point. He knows the line as well as I do, where faith in my own coping skills end and full trust in Him begins. 2012 has been lesson after lesson in learning to trust God. Even now I find myself at a crossroads. How long must God repeat Himself before this lesson is learned and my trust is completely placed in Him, no matter where the line is drawn? Heck, at what point do I erase the line altogether because it no longer matters?

Two months ago I posted about our cancer scare with Dad. Two months ago I arrogantly said that since doctors weren't worried, I was voiding my own fear. (There's that whole trusting science over God bit again.) Two months of delayed biopsies and rescheduled biopsy results appointments. Two months of constant run around, further proving to me the lack of worry or urgency. And yet no matter my gut feeling to the news that a lump had been found in September, I was still shocked to hear, "Munchkin, it's cancer."

It appears that bad news and birthdays go hand-in-hand in 2012. (I hereby request that we forego anymore birthdays until 2013. I don't care that December is full of them.) And seeing that it was Devyn's birthday, I went into autopilot. No time to react, no time to dwell; choosing instead to celebrate her. There was a concert to watch and McDonald's dinner to enjoy, no time to process the fact that Dad has cancer. I still haven't cried, perhaps I'm afraid if I start, I won't stop. Yet I've been up since 2:00am, a sure sign that the news is sinking in.

Dad has an appointment with an oncologist next week. I wonder if the doctor is prepared to meet my parents, surrounded by the army of four, strong-willed daughters who are determined their dad will beat this thing. Its been said that there's nothing like a woman scorned, but I beg to differ. There's nothing like a daughter whose not willing to face a life without a parent. But in all seriousness, I can rest my soul in this. My God has this. Not me, not my dad, not even his doctors. My God will fight for us, we need only be still. For there is no one like my God. No one.

30 Days of Thanks, Part I

Saturday, November 10, 2012 8 Comments A+ a-

If you are friends with me in social media, you know that I’ve been partaking in #30daysofthanks.  I’m definitely one who believes that we should be thankful throughout the year, but November is such a great reminder to stop and really take in the things that we so often take for granted.  Here are the first 10 days of November thanksgiving.

30DaysPartI

  1. Today I am thankful for low-key days. I have no intention to do anything but take Littles to school and recuperate from Halloween. #coffeeinhand
  2. Today I am thankful for full cupboards and a full fridge. I'm thankful for the ability to keep my children fed in a world where so many mothers struggle to give their babies just one meal a day.
  3. I am thankful for these women, my sisters, my best friends, and an impromptu morning of gabbing, crying, and laughing. It was exactly what I needed today.
  4. I am thankful for the Godly character and influence of this man in our life. He may be Jon's grandpa by blood, but he's every bit as mine too. Happy early Birthday, Grandpa!
  5. I am thankful for like-minded friends and family. I am thankful for civil debates and conversations that require me to consider opinions outside of my own. I am thankful for the opportunity for my voice to be heard when I cast my vote. But most of all, I am thankful for a God who is not surprised by election results. And who is bigger than candidates and political agendas.
  6. On a non-election-related note, today I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home. It was something I prayed for from the moment they laid Devyn in my arms. And something I don't ever take for granted.
  7. I am thankful for impromptu date nights. And Mexican food. And we're thankful for Nana, the watcher of the Littles so we can have impromptu date nights.
  8. I am thankful for morning snuggles. On any given morning, I don't know who will end up in my bed, but I can count on a good 30 minutes of cuddle time.
  9. I'm thankful for the opportunity to volunteer in Devyn and Hudson's classes. I love saying the Pledge of Allegiance, grading spelling tests, and mostly watching them in this environment. Thankful for friends with whom I can share childcare so I'm able to do this.
  10. Today I am thankful for new bible studies. I'm thankful for the beautiful women in my Saturday morning group. I am thankful for new words from Him. I am thankful for passionate teachers like Beth Moore. I am thankful for a renewed vision as we study Deuteronomy these next 6 weeks.

Politics and Playgrounds

Thursday, November 08, 2012 12 Comments A+ a-

This was the first election that I had children in school during the campaign season.  During the 2008 presidential election, I had a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old, and was in my 3rd trimester with Reagan.  And even as physically exhausting as that time period was, it was infinitely less stressful.

This election Devyn has been more aware of the election process.  From repeating political tv ads to asking questions to forming opinions of her own; its been a thoroughly fascinating process.  But through it all, I’ve been convicted of one thing.  No matter my political opinion or beliefs, my 7-year-old does not need to be burdened with such an adult responsibility.  I’ve answered the questions asked, I’ve watered down opinions, and I’ve encouraged a difference of opinion. 

For the very reason that I wanted to avoid what happened on Devyn’s playground on election day.

A friend asked her who her parents were voting for and after Devyn shared what she believed was an innocent response (as it should have been), the friend retorted, “Your parents are stupid.” Devyn didn’t come home in tears, but more out of confusion.  And as she retold the story, my heart broke.  The polarizing game of politics had indeed reached the playground.

Throughout this election campaign, my heart has been burdened.  Friends were no longer speaking to each other, words were used as weapons, and a difference of opinion meant that families were split.  To be for one, meant you were against another.  It became an all or nothing, war of words.  It was ugly.

Yet, folks were shocked that America was so polarized.  Really?  Just one look at my Facebook or Twitter feed, and it was obvious WHY it was polarized.  No one wanted to admit that either side could be a tiny bit right, on any issue.  The biggest travesty for me this election season, was not that my candidate didn’t win, but that children are now carrying adult conversations and opinions to school.

I don’t know about you, but I strongly believe that children should not be shouldering the political views of adults.  They should be learning to share the swings, daydreaming about fairies, and learning their time tables.  They should not be creating us vs. them mentalities in grade school, but instead learning to work together and problem solve word problems. 

These children, the ones who skip through the play yard and swing on the monkey bars, are our future.  It’ll be up to them to overcome differences and solve the very real problems that our current government is facing.  And if I want my children to be open to new ideas and be willing to work with others who don’t agree with them, then its going to have to start in the home.  Its MY responsibility to teach grace, love, and tolerance.  Its MY responsibility to teach them that the ads they see and hear on tv are NOT indicative of the human race, that one side isn’t better than the other.  Its MY responsibility to see that my children carry on the belief that everyone is just doing the best they can.

I answered Devyn’s questioning look of whether her parents were stupid or not.  “Mommy and Daddy voted for the guy they thought would make the better president.  Others voted for the other guy because they think he’ll do a better job.  Neither is right, neither is wrong; we just believe different things for different reasons.” 

It’s a shame that my 7-year-old had to learn that lesson at such a young age.  Please.  I ask you, I beg of you, to be aware of what’s being said in your home.  Remember that little eyes are watching, little ears are hearing, and its being repeated at school.  I have high hopes that future generations may someday bridge such a wide gap between the parties, but we have to do our part and it starts at home.

Random Sunday Updates

Sunday, November 04, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

  • I may not post here anymore, but it sure looks pretty for Christmas. 
  • I can’t tell if I hit a blogging slump or writer’s block, but I hate that I haven’t updated as much as I have wanted.  There’s much to share…
  • For instance, I wanted to tell you that I started my antidepressants again.  After a 3-month break from my “happy” pills, it was becoming obvious that I needed them.  It could be situational (ie, Grandma dying, life, etc.) or it could be that I’ll need them the rest of my life.  I’m ok with either situation, I just need to do what’s best for me and my family.  Being able to breathe and not have anxiety/panic attacks makes me a much better wife and mother.
  • We’re gearing up for Devyn’s 8th birthday in a few weeks.  We’re attempting her first sleepover and I’m preparing the house and us for a houseful of girls (about 5 friends).  I’m awed that we’re at this stage of life already.  Sleepovers were a constant in our house growing up.
  • Devyn is turning 8 years old.  I’m near tears just typing that sentence out.  She’s growing up so fast… she’s reading Ramona books and The Babysitter’s Club.  She’s asked for Taylor Swift’s new CD for her birthday.  And I can’t believe that my baby girl is getting so big!
  • I have a whole post written in my head dedicated to this weird stage of life we’re currently in.  On one end of the spectrum, we have two children in elementary school and its surreal to take Devyn to choir practices or dropping Hudson off for school.  Then on the other end, we have a preschooler and toddler at home, one still in diapers.  Its just weird having a foot in two different stages of life. 
  • Speaking of the end of babyhood in our house…  Most days, about 98.25% of the time, I’m really happy and excited to be done with the baby stage.  Every day I see a foreshadow of life moving forward and getting excited to see our family grow up and grow closer.
  • But the other 1.75% of the time, usually when a friend announces a pregnancy or I see a cute pregnant belly, I get all sentimental and wistful.  Its hard to believe that stage of our life is over.
  • And September marked the longest I’ve gone without being pregnant.  In our whole marriage. Crazy!
  • Hudson has really bloomed this month.  During September he wasn’t too sure about this kindergarten thing.  It was harder than preschool, there was little play time, and they actually expected you to work!  Poor guy.  But October brought a new excitement about school and he’s so anxious to share with us all he’s learning.  Its been a blast to experience the differences.
  • Every day I ask the Littles two questions… What was the worst part of your day?  And what was the best part of your day?  The worst part of Hudson’s day is any day that he doesn’t have PE.  Seriously.  Kid loves himself some Physical Education. Shocking.
  • Another thing is his desire to help his daddy, in any way, shape, or form.  The days that Jon reports for 12-hour snow shift, Hudson is the one in the kitchen making his daddy a lunch.  Its really too precious for words.   Yesterday, the two of them crawled under Jon’s truck to change the oil and you could tell he was so thrilled to be a part of such a manly chore.
  • Reagan.  Oh Reagan. 
  • Really, what haven’t I already shared about this girl on social media?!  She is still as feisty and sassy as ever.  But I’m also seeing a nurturing side come out too.  She loves to help me with household chores and I really think Acts of Service is her love language.  She’s recently taken on setting the table and helping me unload the dishwasher.  In fact, often times, she beats me to it.
  • And her streak of memorizing and singing songs WAY above her comprehension level continues.  Reagan recently spent the night with her cousin Elliana, at her Aunt Alli’s house.  So it was no surprise that she came home singing Taylor Swift’s new song, We’re Never Getting Back Together.  I need to record this one too.  Because its as hysterical  as the Call Me, Maybe song.
  • Ashlynn has reached epic toddler levels.  We’re a month away from her two year birthday, but we’ve been experiencing age two attitude for about 6 weeks now.
  • The problem is she’s cute.  And she knows it.  Plus add the fact that she has three older siblings who all adore her and give her anything she wants is only making matters worse.  As the oldest of four, I always swore I’d never spoil the baby.  I’m totally eating my words now.  But she’s so darn cute!
  • Jon is as busy as ever.  This summer was one of the hardest summers he’s had since starting with CDOT almost nine years ago.  And this fall, officials all over the state are wanting to recognize him and his guys for the hard work they put in during the fire.  Jon hates it.  He hates the attention, he hates being recognized for doing what he considers his job, he’s not a fan.  And often tries to deflect the attention elsewhere.  Ha!  Sorry, dude.  Excellent leadership is hard to hide.  One proud wife over here.
  • And the winter season has begun.  He put in a few snow shifts in October, and thus begins the season that I refer to myself as a “Winter Widow”.  12 hour snow shifts are brutal on a family, especially when I’m doing the single parent thing and trying to keep Littles quiet so Jon can rest between shifts.  But its our normal, and I’m ready for it.  Bring it on, Winter.

Well, that was longer than I intended, and its obvious I haven’t updated in a while. 

Life continues to move forward, and as many promised, the loss of Grandma does seem to lessen.  Her loss is still acutely felt and I can manage the day-to-day now, but the moments when her death hits, it hits hard.  Almost paralyzing so.  This holiday season is going to be so hard, but I’m determined to make it as normal as possible for the Littles sake.  And because she would want it so…