Saturday, December 31, 2011

My One Word 2012

It's New Year's Resolution time for a lot of us. I did My One Word last year, and am doing it again for 2012. I think 'Reckless Abandon' worked well for me, even if it didn't accomplish what I thought it would. I chose it believing it would help me to lay aside fears I had about writing, losing weight & witnessing about my faith in Jesus. It did work for the latter two, but not the first. I made the decision to lay aside the writing dream for now. The harder I tried to pursue it with reckless abandon, the more I found I didn't want to do it, didn't have time to do it and just was not ready. I hope I can come back to it in a few years, but we'll see what God has planned.
Theresa told me that her One Word for last year was 'rest', from Matthew 11:28-30. I am praying about what my Word should be this year, but I'm already feeling like God is directing me towards something similar. Time and again I find myself praying in the foxhole, but neglecting that daily quiet time. I've been looking for a verse today and found this article on doing quiet time. I like the acronym of 'ASPECT' and how you can use that as a tool for bible study. I'll post again later when I have my One Word.

  • A – About God – What can you learn about God through this passage?
  • S – Sin – Does it talk about any sin?
  • P – Promise – Is there any promise in the word?
  • E – Example – Is there any example, I can follow?
  • C –Command – Which command I need to obey?
  • T – Teaching – What can I learn from this passage?
  • This & That

    Pen removed from woman's stomach still works after 25 years. How is this not the lead story on the 6 o'clock news?! I would watch more of the news with stories like this.

    I found this great video while searching for info on Weight Watchers. My thanks to Heather at Leading the Weigh, it's an excellent video and worth watching. I especially liked what he said about reducing hypertension (after minute 6) since Tom was put on medication for high blood pressure a few months ago.

    Certainly there was nothing Tom could have done to prevent getting appendicitis, but it was a big reminder of how important it is to take care of our bodies. He works too much, sleeps too little and knows that he needs to lose a few pounds. But that's all easier said than done, as we all know. He needs to have a sleep study done because the ENT thinks he has sleep apnea. Add that to the list of fun things we can do while he's off from work for a few weeks, haha!

    Anyhoo, I'm sure I'll be making Tom a to-do list very soon that includes taking charge of his health. I do so love a project. :)

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    The New Normal

    I said to my father yesterday that I just want to get life back to normal, as I'm tired of the chaos we've been living the last few weeks. He said that won't happen. This annoys me, even though I know he's right. The new normal is that my grandmother is gone. The new normal is that my husband is not bulletproof.

    As I watched my husband sweat and shake and groan on that hospital bed, and I thought about what it must have been like when my grandfather died at the age of 43, I wondered at what Gram's new normal must have been like.

    What I don't want is for the new normal to be run by fear. Tom wanted to drop his car off for an oil change today, and he needed me to pick him up once he did this. I didn't want him to drive since he's not supposed to yet less than a week after surgery, but he said it's a short drive and no big deal. He left the house first and I got the kids into the van. I went to the dealership, but he wasn't there. I thought, 'oh duh, wrong one' because I had gone to where we get my Kia worked on. I headed over to the Chevy dealer where they would service his Cruz. He wasn't there either. I called his phone; he didn't answer. I drove back to the first place, not there. Then back to the second, still not there. I went inside and had them look his car up in case he had gotten in quickly and already left. He hadn't. They called Chrysler next door to see if he was there. He wasn't. I called his phone again, no answer. Nearly an hour had passed and I couldn't find my husband. I felt sick to my stomach and the kids were hungry and antsy, since we were supposed to be at the mall for lunch by now. I went to the first place again and called his phone again. I was panicked, where was he? Did he get sick while driving? Was he pulled over somewhere, unable to drive? I drove home, near tears.

    Once inside my daughter got on the computer and found a coupon for Goodyear on the screen that he must have printed.  I left the kids and flew up to Goodyear, where he was watching tv in the lobby. I wanted to throw things at him. He was baffled, and said that he had told me he was going to Goodyear. I hadn't heard him. I don't hear a lot of things lately that are said to me, because I'm in the fog. I noticed it while still at Gram's nursing home, when a nurse asked me if I was getting on the elevator. The doors had opened and she stood in there waiting, while I stood in front of the open doors staring into space, completely lost in my own thoughts.

    I spend so much time thinking about everything that I am lost inside my own head.  Maybe this is a way to protect myself too, I don't know. Like I can draw myself away from the chaos into a peaceful place. I did that when we made a second trip to the emergency room on Monday, after Tom had spent the day throwing up. His throat was raw and swollen from being intubated during surgery, and he couldn't get any food down or keep it down. We were in the ER for 4½ hours and I lost myself playing games on my Kindle as much as I could while we waited.

    I don't want to live my life in fear. I need to pray about this, a lot I think, because in my heart I know that God is sovereign and has me in His hand. But my head takes over with practical facts and reminds me of the frailty of our bodies and the brevity of life. Whatever happens, I know I can trust Him. But do I? I have to keep repeating to myself that He is faithful. He is to be trusted.

    I'm so thankful for the friends & family we have that have called to check on us, prayed for us, sent cards of sympathy or get well messages, or fed us. Two girlfriends took the boys for playdates yesterday too, giving them some time out of the house and giving us some much needed quiet.  Mary called while I was writing this and asked if she could do anything for me. I told her that her phone call was what I needed most; that emotional support, knowing that our friends are holding us up when we cannot stand on our own.... that is priceless to me. ♥

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Well, that was fun

    Because we didn't feel like our December had been exciting enough yet, what with funerals and last-minute packing & traveling hundreds of miles, we decided it would be fun to cancel yet even more Christmas plans, and head to the hospital instead. Or rather, Tom's appendix decided that we would.  Tom had an emergency appendectomy on Christmas Eve. It was all we'd ever dreamed it could be, and more. Honestly, I was thankful that it was his appendix, because when he was lying on the hospital bed, sweating, shaking with chills and excruciating pain, writhing and groaning, I thought he was having a heart attack and was going to die in front of me. So I'll take acute appendicitis for the win.

    We are blessed with wonderful family & friends, who have cared for us so lovingly through this. I admit that I burst into tears when my friend Keri walked into the surgical waiting room with a hot coffee & bagel for me, saying that no one should have to sit in that room alone. I think that was the first moment that I felt it was okay to stop being strong and just cry and admit that I had been scared to death.

    {opening presents with Daddy}

    I have not the slightest idea why God had all of this in store for us at this time, and I don't care. I was mad at first, since I was already grieving for my grandmother and really couldn't believe that this was happening less than a week later. But it is what it is, and it could have been so much worse. His appendix was about as bad as it can get before it ruptures, which it thankfully had not. He was able to have it removed laparoscopically, which shortens recovery time. And I'm so thankful it happened while we were at home, and not travelling. We went through that in Vegas when we lost Lily, and I never want to deal with a situation like that again. Thank God it happened after we had come home from the funeral, and before we were supposed to travel to my sister's house 8 hours away. (Which of course is cancelled now.)
    Tom's recovering but in pain, and his throat is raw and hurting from being tubed during surgery. He's thrown up a lot today, either from the throat irritation or what feels like a lot of phlegm that's lodged in there. Not sure if that's a side effect from the vicodin or what, but he's a bit miserable. He's thankful though, as he feels a million times better than he did beforehand.
    During Gram's funeral the minister said that she was faithful, courageous and loving. I have always felt that she was amazingly courageous, facing the loss of her young husband and going on to raise their children alone. She was strong and faced the hardships of life nearly always alone. My step-grandfather died three years after they got married. She never let anything stop her, and was always active, involved in her church, traveling all over the globe.
    Gram left me this legacy of being a courageous woman, and I very much want to be like her. I feel like the past few days have been my very ungraceful initiation into that role. I see more and more how that courage comes from God, because I sure didn't feel it on my own. I just keep whispering these quick prayers, asking God to give me what I need to face it all. I was leaving the pharmacy this morning and when I turned the car on, 'Courageous' by Casting Crowns was playing. I cried, because it felt so affirming. He gives me strength, again and again. We were made to be courageous - I have that line from the song in my head, and I think it over and over.
    Now someone stick a fork in me, because I am DONE.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Psalm 147:3

    My Gram has passed away, and we are mourning. If I owned sackcloth, I think I'd be in it. It's completely surreal that she is gone and I think it will be a long time before my heart really believes it. The strange thing is that it has felt like she's been gone for a long time, and I've been mourning small pieces of her for years.

    {1943, three years before she had my mother}

    We began suspecting Alzheimer's years back, when she would forget the little things, or repeat herself. It crept up slowly, stealing her a little at a time. It is a hateful disease. Her personality changed as she lost her memory, and she wasn't the same Gram I had known as a little girl. I would see the woman I knew when she would talk with my children, loving and sweet. She just adored the children.

    My earliest memory of her is of the smell of Ivory soap, as I took a bath at her home. The smell of that soap is her, in a tangible way to me. I have a colored pencil drawing of a small blue bird that hangs in my bedroom. I look at it every morning when I wake up. It hung in her house for a long time. She loved birds, and had pictures and figurines of them all over her house. I think of her every time I look at that picture.

    {Gram in the center, between her brothers & parents}

    Gram was our Matriarch. Grandad Raymond died when he was 43, and Grandad Clayton died three years after they married. It was really only ever Gram for us. I learned how to sew with her and my mother. She went on trips with us. We lived with her all summer long in the country.

    {With Grandad Clayton, 1978}

    I spent those summers on her farm playing in the barn, crick and woods with my brother Ted. I have a stockpile of happy memories from those summers. I remember playing Uno and Rummikub together, and rescuing baby mice in the garage under the house.

    {With all ten of her grandchildren, about 1984 I think}

    I have hundreds of letters from her. She wrote to all of us all the time. When we cleaned out her house, I found lists of who she had written to and when, so she wouldn't forget anyone. I found piles of church bulletins from her ceaseless church attendance. She had a box full of notes from when she taught Sunday school. She loved Jesus and served Him her whole life. I am blessed to be her granddaughter. She left us a wonderful legacy.

    {With TC, on Mother's Day, 2007}

    She adored all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She would touch TC's red hair and croon to him about how we would keep him. She and her brothers all had red hair. I know that we all have her blood, but I love that my son has her red hair that I can still touch, and remember Gram, remember being in her arms and feeling so loved.

    {with her brothers Hesson, Ord, Keith}

    I miss you so much already. My heart breaks anew every minute. I am happy for you, reunited with so many people you have loved and missed. I can only imagine your reunion with Grandad, since he was taken from you much too soon. And my cousin Owen, how you must be holding him in your arms with such joy right now.

    I love you so much. Be at peace, my sweet Gram. We will be okay. You raised us all well, to know and love Jesus. We will be okay.

    Monday, December 12, 2011


    {Gram with her four children}

    My grandmother is in the hospital with pneumonia, and it doesn't look good. I hate living 400 miles away, because I'd really like to just go sit with her for a bit, and hold her hand, and talk with her while I still can. She could pull through; she's awfully sturdy that way, and even pneumonia at age 92 could just be a nuisance to her rather than a dire illness.

    They're giving her increasing amounts of oxygen. They're making her comfortable with morphine. She is gasping for breath but pulls the oxygen mask off if they try to put it on her, only tolerating the cannula. Maybe it will be days or weeks. Maybe she'll surprise us all and recover.  The waiting, the not knowing.... it's very hard.

    I've prayed for a long time that God would be gracious to my Gram, and that He would not let her reach the point with the Alzheimer's that she is a vegetable, wearing a diaper in a lockdown unit with no idea who she is anymore. I asked Him to let her die with dignity when the time comes. I know that this could be part of His merciful plan. I know all of this. Now I just need strength to face it.

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Raising Boys

    What I found when I went to vacuum the couch the other day. That's an apple core on the left and a Nerf dart on the right. 

    Opened the fridge the other morning and found these.

    Came home from errands and found TC running a power sander. Oddly enough, Tom had given him permission to do this.

    I love raising boys. :) 

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    This & That

    An Apology From Your Child's Former Teacher - This was written for parents of autistic children, but I can really appreciate it from our perspective as well. The 'Binder of Epic Proportions' statement caused me to literally laugh and cry at the same time. We have one of those binders. ♥  Thanks to my friend Julie for sending this my way.

    Social Thinking - I just came across this site the other day and have found it incredibly helpful already. It's for parents of kids with autism as well as those with ADHD. I'm trying out the chart that Michelle blogged about, where you have the child list their strengths and weaknesses.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    This & That

    Back to School with ADHD: Article about what it's like for this woman's ADHD child to go back to school. Our experience is something like this, although ADHD has a broad spectrum of behavior & reactions. E tends to get wound up the day before, as he did last year where he didn't sleep the night before and subsequently missed the first day of school.

    Meet the Dubiens: This gal has some really cute ideas for presenting food to kids. LOVE the apple smiles!

    I have a meeting on Monday with our senior pastor to discuss the logistics of coordinating the Facebook page with the office staff. I presented Facebook pages to the co-leaders of women's ministry who are totally on board. And I got the meeting with our pastor with no problem. I'm telling you, either they are messing with me or taking pity on me because they know how stressed I've been lately. Either way, score!

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Random Grumblings

    I have the Mondays again. Not feeling good, just blahhhh. A longtime online friend of mine passed away, which is just heartbreaking. She was in her mid-40s, had 3 teenage children. Some of us are sending flowers. I co-managed a message group for Christian SAHMs with her for a few years, and was so fond of her. I called her once for advice about something or other, and she was so encouraging to me. I'm so glad she's with Jesus; happy for her. Just sad for us, and so very sad for her kids and husband.

    The vanities of life have felt very painful to me lately. I don't like feeling like this; melancholy and wishing Jesus would just come back already. Not because I'm longing for His return, but selfishly because life is hard and I hate seeing people hurt.

    We're having a hard time with A lately, as her grades suck and she hasn't been too bothered by it. It was so much simpler when I could just put her in time out or take away her binky. We don't want to take away good things from her like youth group or student council. So for now she has lost her screen time during the week, her phone goes on the kitchen counter until homework is done, and we want more open communication weekly about what she's doing, what's due, etc. Tom and I have struggled with this because we don't agree on how to handle it. Which is also hard, because since he's frequently not around, I have to make the decisions on my own and then tell him later, which isn't fair to him. I had a good chat with Mary about it and she was very helpful. I feel very unprepared for this new phase of parenting, and Mary hasn't killed even ONE of her kids, so I'll listen to any advice she has to give.

    I'm very thankful for my Jesus today. He's such a comfort to me when I'm having a pity party, just the right balance of patting me on the back while also smacking me and telling me to get over myself. He's good like that.

    Friday, December 2, 2011


    So last week I mentioned that I was speaking at my home group's anniversary meeting. Based on questions from my best friend and husband, I thought I would explain some things. There are anniversary meetings, and then there are anniversaries of the meeting. The first is when we celebrate people's sobriety time, usually done once a month. People are acknowledged for how much sober time they have, and given a coin (medallion).

    The second is when we celebrate how long that actual meeting has been in existence. My home group has been around for over 30 years, and that's what we were celebrating last week. When we do that, it's a huge crowd, kind of like Homecoming, where people come back who have moved away, everyone brings food for potluck and there are two speakers who sit up front with the meeting chairperson. Family members often come to this as well. Hence my crazy nervousness since I knew it would be a hundred-plus people.

    God was sympathetic to me, as my sponsor was chairing the meeting and she gave me the most beautiful introduction. At one point I mouthed to her, 'You're going to make me cry!' I mostly focused on her while I spoke, and she just has such peace about her that I felt much calmer. It was great to have Tom with me, since he has never gone to an AA meeting before. It's much easier to understand me if you go to a meeting with me and see what it's really like. I am always intrigued when I see fictional AA meetings done on tv or in a movie, because they aren't always realistic. There are also many different kinds of meetings too, such as open or closed. My home group is an open meeting, which means anyone can attend. A closed meeting would be only where alcoholics can attend. You may wonder why someone would go if they weren't an alcoholic, but we do get family members who are curious, or medical students or people writing on the topic.

    There are Big Book discussion meetings, which is the format of mine. We take turns reading from the Big Book (actually titled Alcoholics Anonymous) and talking about what we read or sharing whatever is on our heart and mind. Other meetings use the Grapevine or As Bill Sees It or some other AA approved literature. Some are Step meetings where they focus on a particular step each time and how it can be lived out. There is a women's meeting I sometimes attend that uses the Joe & Charlie tapes, listening to a portion each week and then sharing on the step or topic.

    Any questions, feel free to ask. I'm happy to educate people about this program, because it saved my life!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Where I Belong

    I haven't found a great video for this song, but just listen to it and enjoy. It fills my heart up with joy every time. I've been starting my day with it a lot lately.