Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A week in the country

Just checking in to say that we are relaxing in the country for a week. We're staying on my uncle's farm and visiting with lots of family that came in for a 'winter reunion'. It's snowing and very windy out, so I'm enjoying being cozy in the house with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Decorating

I recently dug all the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the attic, and found myself wondering how on earth I ever ended up with so bloody much of it. I seriously need to scale back, but I don't know what I could bear to part with. There must be 6 or 7 of those giant moving-style boxes & Rubbermaid totes that are crammed full. In addition I have a giant ceramic tree that you plug those little Lite-Brite-style bulbs into. I haven't even put that out yet because I'd like to minimize the time that the Tyrant has to ingest the bulbs.

The tree itself isn't in storage, because we prefer the live kind and picked out a nice one a few days ago. I always look forward to the tree, and the lovely smell of it in the house. I've gotten really adept at how to hang ornaments for the least amount of toddler breakage. And I've accepted the fact that the cat will drink the tree water every night while we sleep, so refilling it in the morning has become routine. I can tolerate him taking a drink because I'd rather him do that than this which I find disturbing.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Moving On

I mentioned in a previous post that we have changed churches. I don't think that I have anything very eloquent to say about this, plus we really aren't broadcasting it to anyone at our old church, hence why I really haven't talked about it. But part of me just wants to share about it, because it's a BIG STINKING DEAL, and since everything in life can affect recovery, it seems wise to open the flood gate on this one.

We've been unhappy at our church for a few years. We just felt we weren't growing there anymore, or learning much of anything. It was a great 'starter' church for us, where the people became like family, and genuinely cared for one another. But as the years went by, the things available for the men dwindled, and the Sunday school classes descended into group therapy rather than Bible study. Still, we stayed. We were involved in just enough that to leave would be difficult, and we loved the people so much. We made many close friends there over the years. But we continued to be unhappy, and were completely frustrated by the lack of 'meaty' sermons. You can only grow so much as a Christian if all you hear are Dr. Phil-esque lessons on life. I am not diametrically opposed to those kinds of sermons, but if they are all you are being fed, you are slowly becoming malnourished.

A year ago in November I had a conversation with one of my closest girlfriends about the situation. As I shared all that we were frustrated or fed up with, she gently pointed out to me that I didn't need to continue to pray about this, because God was clearly showing us the door. I resisted her point, but she repeated back to me all of the things I had told her, and asked, if the roles were reversed, would I tell her to stay or go? I knew in my heart that I had my answer. I had prayed repeatedly, and time and again He had answered me. I needed to stop asking Him questions that He had already answered. I asked her why, then, couldn't we go? She said, 'because you don't want to'. The truth was that we had a certain measure of comfort in the familiar, and to leave would be to start over in a foreign land.

So we stayed, still unhappy, but too hard-headed to do what we should. It wasn't until the beginning of August, when the Man and I hit a breaking point, that we were able to make the decision. Our marriage was a mess, we couldn't communicate, we bickered, we festered, we were unreasonable. There was a low point where I just wanted to check out of the marriage, not legally, but just emotionally. I was tired of trying. The Man and I sat down one night, and amidst many tears, we knew we had to do something drastic. We asked ourselves, if we were in a church that was feeding us spiritually, where we were learning and growing and walking in our faith the way that we were supposed to be, would we be struggling in our marriage like this? We agreed right then and there that we would finally make the change.

And now here we are, over a year after my conversation with my friend before we finally did leave. I slowly extracted myself from my commitments and we quietly left. Some of our friends have also recently left, but not for all of the same reasons. Some core reasons are the same, but individual disagreements have contributed more to their departures. My one friend stated that he would like to have left but kept his membership there, so that he could go back if circumstances changed. I thought about that, but realized that if we were going to uproot our children and take them on this journey, then we could not do so with the idea of waiting things out. We need to be committed to this change, and not to sound too Frodo-esque, but I think that over time we will realize, there is no going back. The church we have left would not be the same church that we would go back to years from now. A church is made up of changing individuals, and as such, is a fluid entity. I have found this to be very true when I have gotten together with the 'old gang' from my drinking days, and felt uncomfortable. Time has changed all of us, and sobriety has opened my eyes to a lot of things. I don't belong in that circle of friends anymore, even if they wanted me, which I'm pretty sure they do not. And that's ok now. As I go forward making my amends, I have peace about leaving that life behind.

And so it must be with this change. I have to let God give me peace about leaving that church life behind, even as it is so difficult to start all over again. We will make new friends. We will find a new niche for our family. I have left behind the Remembrance Services, which was one of the main things that held me back from leaving in the past. I wasn't willing to give those up, nor did I feel like God had released me from it. I needed to see it through. But something happened this year, a change in me that I did not expect. I became ready to finally let go. In my head I had always been willing to let go of the past, and lay my children to rest. But in my heart, I was incapable of doing this. Holding that Remembrance Service every January was a way to keep their memory alive, but it also served to keep wounds open. When God finally answered my prayers for answers, and gave me permission to walk away, I balked. It may seem senseless to someone on the outside, but when you have lost a baby, and all you have left is your grief, you are reticent to let that go. The pain was all I had left of them. I know that it's time now, and I must let go and move on. I don't know how to do that, but I'm trying.

After talking and praying about this decision for so long, having made it seems anti-climatic in some ways. We have been at the new church for a few Sundays now, and are hoping to join a small group in the new year. The Man is incredibly happy, and his joy is enormously helpful to me. I need his affirmation that we made the right choice, and that we are in this together. God had told me that 2008 was going to be a big year for us, and it has been. It has been an incredibly difficult and painful year, with many challenges. We have grown in unexpected ways, and I look forward to seeing where He leads us.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Death of a Friend

My friend Vic passed away last night. He'd had cancer for nearly a decade, and gone through periods of good and bad ever since. He was in hospice care in his home since July, which was when we went to say our goodbyes to him. He wasn't expected to live more than a few weeks but surprised everyone by hanging on a few more months.

Vic was a wonderful and loving man. We knew him through our church, and I served with him as a Deacon. My sadness at losing him is swaddled with peace in knowing that he is no longer sick or suffering.

Farewell dear friend.... I'll see you at the eastern gate.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, it's new layout time again

And if you hate it, you can blame my friend Nova, who told me that the old layout was boring. I'm pretty sure that this one is even more so, but when you mess with html, sometimes you get the horns, or in this case, you lose all your nifty sidebar items and have to start over. I hunted through loads of Pyzam layouts but I hate how 99% of them squish your main text into a tiny little column. And I can keep fussing with this today, or I can tend to the stomach-virus-laden child who is currently sleeping on the couch. I can tell you what I'd rather be doing of course, but it will get messy if I ignore the Princess for too long.


So, we're felons, apparently

Over the summer we acquired a fish tank, and a co-worker of the Man had given us some snails. He had too many, and they're good for keeping the tank clean, so we were happy to take them. To me they were just brown snails, and other than the fact that they did keep reproducing and filling the tank with more tiny brown snails, I took little notice of them.

The United States Department of Agriculture however, is mighty interested in them. Yesterday morning the Man got a call from said co-worker, informing us that these snails, that he had originally bought on eBay, were now being confiscated by the government. They are some sort of ramshorn snail, and for some reason we aren't allowed to keep them. The Man bagged them up last night to go turn them over. The only info I've found seems to be that the USDA has issues with controlling their population in commercial fish ponds, though I'm not at all clear what that has to do with us.

The irony of having to turn over aquarium snails to the government isn't lost on me. Of all the illegal things I did in my previous life, possession of contraband slugs sure never made the list.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Random Things

The Barnacle shall henceforth be known as the Tyrant. He is two and has worked hard to earn this new title. He recently decided that he did not care for the dishtowels that my mother keeps hanging from the front of her oven door. He relocated them to the kitchen floor. Not thinking much of it, Gramma hung them back up. The Tyrant narrowed his eyes at her, strode back to the oven door, and removed the towels to the floor again. This time, he stomped his little foot on them, and ground them down. He gave Gramma a LOOK and left the kitchen. I don't think she dared try to put them back after that. The Tyrant has made his point.

I drug out all of the boxes of Christmas decorations today. I have an insane amount of decorations and tablecloths and stockings and on and on. While I was busy giving myself an insulation halo, I discovered another box of 2T clothing for the Tyrant, score!

The Man worked 87 hours the week before Thanksgiving. Seriously.

My vacuum cleaner has died. There should be a law about these things breaking during the holidays. Who can afford a new vacuum when you just dropped 300 clams on DS Lites and games for the Princess and the Boy for Christmas? (YES, those are their only gifts this year, sheesh!)

Our catfish is eating the angelfish's eggs. Very rude.

We finally left our church. There's no real way to get into that without this turning into a giant emotional vomit. Knowing it's the right decision doesn't make it any easier. We'll be starting at the new church next week.

On Thanksgiving morning I went to a rehab center for a Gratitude Meeting. There were hundreds of people there, standing room only. There is something very gritty and humbling about seeing the detox patients sitting there among people who have from a few weeks or months, up to decades of sobriety. You want it for them, but know that some will not make it. We can only offer our experience, strength and hope, and show them what we have done. The rest is up to them.


Signs that I'm raising my children right

I was going to bed the other night, and when I pulled back the covers, I was startled to find a huge black spider on my pillow. I'm not generally bothered by bugs and spiders, but I was thankful that it was a rubber tarantula. I admit that I did jump because I wasn't expecting it, but then burst out laughing, as the Man and I tried to guess which of the kids had left it there. The next morning the Princess sweetly asked if I had enjoyed my surprise last night. I knew it had to be the blonde one, she's very wily that way.