Monday, July 18, 2016

Heavenbound

My mom is with Jesus.

No more suffering.
No more pain.
No more struggling spirit in a failing body.

My mom and I didn't have the best relationship. She kept her past to herself and refused to tell me anything unless she was angry and something slipped out.

Sometimes what she said hurt deeply- it put up barriers in our relationship. Every year the wounds would fester and we'd get further and further apart. She said she wanted a relationship, but whenever we became close again, she would push me away. Finally I stayed away. At least in my heart.

It was decades before I forgave her. It wasn't easy. I knew that she would still push me away and we'd never be really close. It didn't matter. God had lifted a heavy burden from my heart the moment I forgave her. 

Two years later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Three weeks later, God called her home. Time isn't merciful when things are left unhealed. In that two year period, I did all I could for her. Last week she told me how much she loved and appreciated me as I held her hand. Hearts were healing when she passed.

I never appreciated just how many gifts my mother gave me.
She gave me the love of the written word. She gave me the gift of cadence; recognizing patterns in speech and music so I could write songs and poetry. She gave me the love of laughter- great big belly laughs that required a change of undergarments.
And she was the one that introduced me to God.
She has taught me so much.

God is good.
He has taught me so much.

Love deeply. 
Refrain from hurtful words.
Forgive.

Because time isn't merciful. 
But God is.

Goodbye Mom. I love you. Don't forget to meet me at the gates when He calls me home- and don't forget to bring extra underwear. We have a lot to talk about!

Monday, July 11, 2016

I Hate Cancer

This is one of the hardest posts I've had to write.

My mom has cancer.

She's been going downhill health-wise for about two years now, but refused to go to doctors. I tried to convince her otherwise, but when she doesn't want to do something, she is a force to be reckoned with.

She lost weight. A lot of it. She slept more. Ate less. But still refused to get checked out.

I heard from neighbors that she had fallen outside her apartment a few times in the past year, and was too weak to get up on her own, laying on the ground until they saw her and helped her get back inside. She never said a word to anyone until I heard through the grapevine weeks later.

Two weeks ago, her sisters went for a visit and found she hadn't gotten out of bed for a while. She was very weak and in a lot of pain. They took her to the ER.

That's when they found it; Cancer. The trunk of her body is riddled with it. Then we were told the worst. No Chemo. Inoperable. Terminal. 

She had waited too long.

The first doctor said six months. The second doctor said she had weeks. Only God knows when her time will really be up. She was no longer self-sufficient and needed 24/7 care.

I found a center for pain management and therapy to help her gain strength and mobility. They would make sure she eats and drinks regularly, and help her to the restroom. It kills me that I can't help her, but I'd have to live with her to do that- I can't stay at her place, and my home isn't suitable for her because she's a serious fall risk.

She has moments of confusion which are becoming more frequent. She still thinks she's going back home. I haven't the heart to tell her otherwise.

Unless God has other plans, she'll be in His hands soon.  

I hate seeing her fade a little more each day. 
I hate seeing her suffer.
I hate cancer.

God is good. His Will be done in all things. Whatever happens, watch over her Lord, and give her peace.

I love you, Mom.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Life's Sandy Anthills

Ever see ants trying to dig out of the sand? They dig and dig and dig and dig- they never seem to stop digging.
Yep- that's me.

Just when I think my anthill is safe and secure, someone comes along to dump sand to block my front door. This past year has been one of struggles, and the sand just keeps piling on.

But I'm not going to stop digging.

First it was money. so I got a job. Then I got six of them. Financially, life was starting to even out.

The second was time. I had none left for fun and family, not to mention the housewifey stuff. I also had no time to exercise, so I gained all of the weight back that I lost, and then some. Ugh.

The third was energy. By the time I was done work, had some family time and maybe had time to cook or clean (never, ever both), I was ready to collapse into bed. Sometimes I'd collapse before bed, unintentionally falling asleep on the couch during family time. Oops.

God got me through the rough stuff. I'm still not through all of the rough stuff-it keeps fluctuating between the three- but it feels like there's hope. God never does anything without reason, and so far I've learned a lot about myself, my family, and a ton more about God. And things, as crazy as they were, were still working out.

Then there was Four. 

I won't even mention what Four is (at least not yet in this blog), but it hit me like a sledgehammer. The funny thing is I was half-expecting this fourth pile of sand- just not when I was still digging out of the other three piles. This ant is getting really, really tired of sand.

But there is good news. God is there helping me dig out. 

I should be going nuts right now. Stark, raving, climb-a-stucco-wall-to-the-rooftop-barehanded-and-scream-like-a-banshee crazy. But I'm not. I'm calm. Not happy, mind you, but calm.

It's the weirdest feeling I've ever known. 

The feeling is familiar though, because God has done this before to me. It was weird then too. It's also awesome. No one wants to deal with a bat-crazy banshee!

I don't know what's going to happen in the near future, but God will handle it. He'll have to- I'm too focused on the sand to take much notice of anything else. But everything- everything- works out for His good. It always has.

So I'll keep on digging.

I'm just glad God's shovel is bigger than mine!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Thirty-Eight Hour Days

There is never enough time in a day.

Never enough time to get everything done.
Never enough time to rest.
Never enough time to eat.
Never enough time to relax. And never enough time to spend with God.

I put in a request to God the other day: "How about a few more hours in a day Lord? Fourteen more ought to do it."
In my heart I heard His answer. "Oh sure- I give you fourteen more hours a day, and all you'll do is fill it up with more stuff. Nope. Besides, the calendars for the next few years have already been printed. That's a lot of wasted calendars."

Well, crud. 

Fourteen more hours would have been nice. I could get a nap in. Maybe get some more errands or housecleaning done. Maybe I can even get that at-home business started! Maybe I could...um...

Maybe God has a point.

Back in the olden days, we never used to be this busy. Or maybe we were, but we still took out time from farming and harvesting to rest and do crafty things. The Amish did it all the time - and still do.

Even in more modern times we had time for friends, families, road trips, and vacations. Now we burn ourselves out until we're too blurry-eyed to function and fall into our beds for a restless nights' sleep.

Imagine what we would do with a thirty-eight hour day. I wonder if we'd get any rest. This is the age of 'Do Everything- Always'. The pressure is on to outdo not only those around us, but ourselves.

Better. Faster. More productive. Manage time better. Manage life better. And be the best parent/worker/whatever in the universe.

I think we've forgotten how to have fun. I know I've become much too serious for my own liking. I crave being creative and silly, but I need to reign it in because one can't tape multi-colored balloons to oneself and slip on a clear trash bag and act like a bag of jellybeans when one is on the job- unless that job is to act like a bag of jellybeans. 

Sometimes I'm so busy managing my time that I forget to make time to have fun. And I really, really, really need to do that.

It's getting to the point where I'll need those thirty-eight hour days just to get some sleep!

But God is right. If He gave me all that time, chances are I'd fill it with more stuff, and none of it would be about Him. I need to make time for God too!

I was put here to glorify Him. Not to micromanage the life He gave me. I also know that God is grinning His face off right now, because He knows that no matter how hard I try, I'll probably be micromanaging tomorrow- maybe even sooner. But He still loves me anyhow.

Well, you can't say I didn't try. Thirty-eight hours days would've been nice. So I'll take the twenty-four hours He gave me and do the best that I can.

Now where did I put those multi-color balloons and that clear trash bag?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Vehicular Misadventures

You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball.

This week was a week of accidents. All three were involving vehicles- but not all driven by me. I swear!

Monday was full of promise. The van was washed and ready for a day of driving- or so I thought. I forgot to put gas in the night before. A half-full tank is better than none, but I prefer a full tank before starting any driving job. So instead of logging in after dropping my husband off to work like I usually do, I headed out of the driveway to the gas station.
Unfortunately one of the employees was coming in after I was half-way out and didn't see me. I stopped right before she hit me. My nice shiny van bore some not-so-shiny scratches and dents and the bumper was a little kinked. The woman's huge truck seemed to have more damage than mine- her bumper was up against her tire. (Hyundai 1, Toyota 0.) We were both okay, but it's going to take most of this week for the body shop to fix the damages to my van. I'll be given a rental, but I won't be doing any of my driving jobs this week.

A church friend was in traffic when someone hit her full force from behind, knocking her into the vehicle in front of her. Basically her van looks accordion-ish and was considered totalled. She sustained injuries to her back and neck, and she's wearing a neck brace. I know that because this wonderfully tough lady came to church on Sunday! I offered to drive her to and from work this week, but she has a rental and is still able to drive to work.

My husband was on his way to Adventurefest (a Christian Men's camping weekend) when the van he was driving (not ours) blew a tire while he was doing sixty on the highway. A trucker saw the tire blow and moved so no traffic would be in the way in case my husband lost control. 
By God's grace he was able to steady the van and move to the side of the road to replace the tire. (He did thank the truck driver for his forethought!)
They got to the event later than expected but everyone was okay- just a little shaken up. They had a trailer hitched to the back of the van when this happened and I thought the trailer steadied them, but I found out later it made the blowout worse, not better! Everyone was surprised that he retained control of the van- including my husband.

Three accidents this week that could have ended badly, but didn't because of God's grace. I pray for protection every day- not just for me, but my family and friends. He was definitely watching out for all of us this week.

Please pray for my church friend who's still hurting. And don't forget to pray for protection for you and your loved ones- He is listening!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Momming 101

I never saw myself as a homebody.

I also never saw myself as a career woman either. I was just a woman who worked a myriad of interesting jobs until I was married, then pregnant.

Egad- I was going to be a mother. Me. A woman who didn't know a thing about changing diapers or keeping a house clean.

That's what at-home moms do...right? Cook, clean and take care of the kids- that's the job.

And I was so not qualified.

I gave birth at home both times. When I was pregnant with my son (my first born), people asked me what I wanted- I wanted puppies. Puppies I knew how to care for- not these little people that made messes and diapers and needed training to become decent human beings!

Martha Stewart I ain't. Not even close.

But I decided that when I gave birth, no matter what, I'd be an at-home mom. 
Egad, what did I get myself into?

Well, I learned to clean, because kids make messes. I learned that newborns poop mustard for about a month and will wake me at the most ungodly hours demanding food and attention. I also learned that baby giggles were the best sounds in the universe, you get the best expressions when letting them taste lemons, and that a small container of baby powder will cover an entire porch in clouds of fine, white dust.

I also learned that I was more of a homebody that I admitted- even to myself.

I liked staying home and seeing my babies grow. I liked teaching them new things and showing them new flora and fauna on trips around the neighborhood. I liked making meals, sewing cute costumes, and playing games on the dining room floor.

And I liked being an at-home mom. I still do.

No one is more surprised by this than me. Though I do admit, I never did like cleaning. Ever.

Now my kids are almost grown and considering college. I am running out of people to raise! Oh sure, I have the cats, but they won't ever leave the house and start a life of their own- unless I leave the front door open by accident.

My momming days are almost over. Sort of. I guess I'll have to mom my kids from afar, via texts and phone calls. Either that, or move in with them. But no, they'd probably make me pay rent. Or clean. Ugh.

I'm still not Martha Stewart. My house is a mess. Teenagers aren't neat creatures. I'm hoping when they leave the nest, the mess will go with them. I also fear that the neater my house becomes, the emptier it will feel- at least after my husband and I celebrate the first few weeks of being alone for the first time since the first year of our marriage! 

I know my job will never be done. My role will simply change. I'll be the one they come to for financial advice (you know, the same advice they ignored when they lived with me), relationship tips and tricks, and eventually coming to me for Momming 101 (or Dadding 101 for my son). 

I never saw myself as a homebody, but I am. Even with all the jobs I have now, I'm working my way back to at-home work so I can be there for my kids. My teenagers still need me (just don't tell them that- they'll deny it vehemently), and I want to be there as much as I can before they test their wings.

I never saw myself as a career woman, but I am. Momming is a career- don't let anyone tell you differently! No one does as much as a parent does. No one has as much effect in the world as moms and dads do. By shaping our kids, we shape the future. How awesome is that?

Raising kids is the best non-paying job in the universe. At least concerning monetary non-payment. I accept payments in hugs, kisses, and the words 'You were right after all, Mom.' That last one, as far as I'm concerned, is worth a bazillion dollars!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Getting Teched Off

Tech is everywhere. It permeates our homes, work, and family life. We have immediate access to anything and everything, as long as we have our little devices with us.

The problem is, we're losing ourselves in it so much, that we've lost touch with everyone and everything around us.

This isn't a new concept; in fact this has been an ongoing problem for years. The question is...what can we do about it- especially when raising a family?

The answer is a simple one, but very hard to maintain. Limit the tech.

For example, from the moment my kids were born they had a propensity for the computer. At the time we had two in the house. One became the kids' computer, and one was for the adults. 

That didn't last long.

Fights ensued. Timers were bought. Schedules were made, and time limits were set. Very small time limits. It's really tempting to let the little ones play on the digital babysitter while mom and dad get things done, but kids need to interact with parents regularly to learn social skills- this was before I found out my son had Aspergers!

As the kids grew, schools required computer use at home for homework, research, and learning games. We had to extend the time and watch them like hawks- I was amazed at how fast they could switch screens when I walked by! 
Unbeknownst to my children, I placed a mirror nearby in such a way that I could see what my children were doing from the other room before I 'walked by'. Like I said- it's not easy! Parents have to get clever to make sure the kiddos stay on track.

When the kids were in their teens, we had laptops. That was nipped in the bud swiftly when they both decided to use them as personal TVs when mom and dad weren't home- and sometimes when we were. Earphones and a laptop can make a really bad combination- it makes it so much easier for teens to ignore you.

Cell phones had to be the hardest tech to resist. I have to admit, the monthly cost made it a lot easier to say no, but when the my teenagers went into separate high schools (both far from home and each other), it was time to get them both a cell phone. For emergencies only. Yeah right, Mom.

One thing has remained consistent through all of this tech evolution- when guests come over, the tech goes off. My offspring's friends are quite surprised by this rule. Some even became panicked!
The rule is that any and all techie devices are put into a bowl on the dining room table. No tech is allowed anywhere but the living room and dining room. Absolutely no tech up in their bedrooms. At first their friends balked, but when they accepted this as the rule, they actually had a fantastic time! Most kids made plans to come over again soon, because they had a lot of fun and interacted with my kids- and us adults.

So here are the basic rules we live by to limit tech- and some additions for the younger generation:

Limit playing with Mommy's or Daddy's cell phone. It might be better to not let toddlers use it at all and only let them play tablet games with no internet. You never know when the wrong button will be clicked and phone contacts get deleted or see something they shouldn't!

Don't let them play anywhere/everywhere. Children get used to having it all the time, and when thwarted, kids can cause a lot of problems. The two worst places I've seen tantrums are in the car and in church. Oh yeah- this one will get you known really well by the congregation! 

Schedule tech play time. With little ones, let them play fifteen to thirty minutes at a time. When they're older, extend it- but no longer than one to two hours for teens. 

Don't give little kids their own phone. Phones were designed for communication, not a game console. Toddlers don't need it! Tablets with games are much better, and have bigger screens- or better yet, read a book with them!

Designate a tech space. We'd like to think our kids taking tech in their rooms with the doors closed won't get them into trouble, but why take that chance? Have chargers in one room and designate that as the room (or rooms) for their gadgets. Not only can time be monitored, so can the content.

No ear buds in the house. This helps prevent them from playing unapproved music or videos. Trust me- this is a really good idea.


Tech can be our friend, but it can also allow the Enemy to get into impressionable young minds. It's not easy to do this, but if you're diligent, it really pays off- and you'll have kids who actually enjoy talking to people!