Category Archives: motherhood

Ebb and Flow

1969169_10204236623770825_8216786949685125869_nGrief comes in waves.

It’s life as usual, then the tears start. Or the energy is completely sapped away.

My precious sister-in-law shared a teacup with me that she’d given her mom. I’ve taken to having a few quiet moments each day drinking tea (or sometimes coffee. Yes, I know that is sacrilege!) from the pretty cup.

Ray and Fencine’s wedding picture now hangs on our wall. Other little treasures grace our home, next to reminders of Bernice. I didn’t know it, but this method of home decor is actually recommended by hospice as a healing way to process grief. Nobody told me this until later; it just happened naturally.

Grief makes me clean. Reorganize. Decorate.

When my two oldest sons both left for college on the same day a few weeks ago I spent the weekend cleaning. Bringing their spaces to order. Dusting off the shelves that held their treasures–a baseball or hockey puck. A picture. A hunting knife.

I’m not sure what the next few weeks will hold for this blog. August began with a trip to Missouri where we saw Jerry’s mom for the last time. While we were there God whispered to our hearts that we would not see her again this side of eternity. Then we came home to letting go again, another step into empty nest. Lots of work went into launching those boys. Grief, too.

I just couldn’t write where it would be read. Not yet.

But in the midst of all of that I had some amazing adventures with a best friend from college. Some deep musing about launching children. Hours of journaling and seeking God for insight. Brief moments that seem so powerful they have to be shared.IMAG0563

I know me. This will all need to come out in my public writing. I don’t know when it will happen, but I’ve no doubt you’ll see bits of it as it does.

Until then I’ll keep drinking tea. I’ll work hard when I have the energy, and when I don’t I’ll stop again.

I’ll try to avoid grief by chocolate. At least in quantity.

Instead I’ll drink more tea. Call a friend. Read. Journal. Walk.

Let the little things once belonging to my loved ones speak comfort.

For Fencine: Faithful Mom-in-Law

Sorry I’ve been so quiet. I told a friend it feels like all I’ve done since March is say goodbye: launch kids, weather long hospital stays that eventually end in burials, and clean out homes. Have done a lot of deep processing, but too raw yet for here. Instead, I want to share part of the eulogy I was asked to write and share last week for my sweet mom-in-law’s goodbye. I’ve taken out some specific names and facts–this is the Internet after all–but endeavored to leave the heart of what I shared. My hope is to honor the woman who gave me my husband and who loved her own so faithfully.

For Fencine:

IMAG0552Fencine  was born on March 3rd, 1925, in North Dakota. A twin, Fencine was the youngest of eight children, two brothers and 5 sisters. Raised on the family farm, originally homesteaded in North Dakota by Fencine’s dad and his brother who emigrated from Holland, Fencine often talked about the joy of growing up in a busy household where an older sister was assigned to each of the twins to help them as the family went about its chores.

As Fencine grew into womanhood she captured the attention of Ray, who heard about the sisters, who lived in a Dutch community north of him and were renowned for their singing abilities and godly character. Fencine, Fennie, and Catherine formed the Sacred Melodies Trio, and sang in churches throughout the area, as well as on several radio stations. Ray and his buddy Elmer began making trips to visit the twins. The German settlement didn’t appreciate two of their eligible bachelors traveling to those Dutch girls when there plenty of fine German girls available, but Ray and Elmer were not to be deterred.

Fencine said the foursome would take walks, and Fennie and Elmer would hold hands, but she wasn’t about to let Ray take hers! To keep him from trying she swung her hands back and forth as they strolled. But Ray didn’t give up on winning Fencine’s heart, and when he proposed, she said yes. Fencine’s father asked her to wait to marry until she was twenty-one. Always desirous of doing the right thing, she endeavored to honor her dad’s wishes—and scheduled the wedding for her twenty-first birthday.

Though she would have enjoyed an engagement ring, Fencine wanted to do everything she could to support Ray’s calling as a preacher. The community where Ray was raised didn’t believe in jewelry, so Fencine told him she didn’t need a ring if it would inhibit his ministry. Years later the family got her a mother’s ring, which she treasured. Fencine’s resolve to support Ray in his ministry was tested early on when her wedding day was postponed multiple times due to a successful evangelist tour that went longer than expected. Fencine never wavered, and these early sacrifices established a pattern in which she consistently put her husband and his ministry first.

Ray wasn’t sure if he should have children. He wanted nothing to hinder his calling as a pastor. But Catherine’s husband convinced Ray that raising children unto the Lord was also the calling of a Christian man. Soon the happy couple enjoyed the birth of four children. Together they poured love and faith over them, bringing them up with high standards, a determined work ethic, and a focus on God and church.

As a young mother Fencine’s faith held her through many days of caring for the children while Ray was traveling as an evangelist. She clung to God when Ray’s return home would be delayed by a longer-than-expected revival or a Canadian snow storm. Left with hungry children and little resources, there were times she pretended not to be hungry so the children had enough food, times when Fencine prayed one of the farmers in their church would think of them and share their eggs and milk, times when she turned on the vacuum cleaner hoping its noise would drown out her need to cry.

Along with these struggles and the typical pressures of a young mother and wife, Fencine weathered the extra pressure she felt as a pastor’s wife. Anyone who knows Fencine and her excellent, above-the-norm house-keeping skills will be surprised to know she weathered criticism as a young mother of four from some in the congregation who felt she didn’t keep things tidy enough. But Fencine persevered, always doing her best to raise her children well and support her husband’s ministry. She was never a complainer.

The family’s faith went beyond the church doors and into the daily fabric of family life. When their son almost died of spinal meningitis it was natural for the couple to invite their community of faith into their home and intercede for his life. Though only five-years-old at the time, he remembers hearing the passionate prayers of his parents and their friends asking God to heal him.

An excellent speller and grammarian, Fencine always edited Ray’s writing and sermon notes. She eventually served as a proofreader for her church’s denominational publication.

Ray and Fencine were always hospitable, reaching out to the church families. Fencine became known for her famous chocolate cake, which she prepared faithfully every Friday—along with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.

The couple moved often, from pastorate to pastorate, even after the children were grown and married. Ray and Fencine had a strong sense of family, and those who married into the clan were firmly welcomed. Their son-in-law, Larry, always appreciated the love and open welcome he and his children received. He was particularly blessed by Fencine’s Godly example. He said, “Fencine truly walks the talk as the saying goes. Until that point in my life I had not been close to or witnessed a person like her who studied the bible daily, had daily prayer, put worldly stuff aside and God first.  She definitely helped me gain a better understanding of what life is about, not through one-on-one teaching, but by her example.”

Fencine delighted in Ray’s “retirement” years when she was finally able to travel with him instead of holding down the home front. The couple based in a retirement community in California but flew throughout the United States and several neighboring countries on a special pass from Continental Airlines. Ray knew no barriers, racial or otherwise, and was well received into not only English speaking churches, but also into Spanish speaking congregations. Fencine would often provide support to the women in those churches, and she and Ray enjoyed doing marriage counseling as they traveled. During these years they also enjoyed touring Israel and later traveled with all the children and grandchildren for a vacation to Hawaii.

Fencine was rarely idle, always working hard. As a mother she wove relationship into the daily fabric of chores. If she visited in your home, she was right there, doing dishes or laundry or helping cook the meals. She was even known to clean when she babysat her grandchildren. Much to their chagrin she would clap her hands and say, “Let’s clean the house for Mommy!”

 

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Fencine is in the red jacket in the middle

Ray’s failing health eventually moved the couple closer to family. Ray and Fencine delighted in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Highly competitive, Fencine was not the kind of grandma who let you win. She was ruthless at games. The grandchildren didn’t stand a chance at Uno or Frustration, and at eighty-years-old during a family Thanksgiving celebration, she soundly beat several grandsons in a game of horse. You should see her shoot a basketball!

After Ray’s death in 2001, Fencine worked for a time in an office. Not only was she admired for her strong work ethic and organizational skills, but the women she worked with were amazed at her agility. Though in her upper 70s she climbed stools or squatted on the ground as she did the filing. She is remembered in her small town as the woman who was daily seen getting her exercise, walking with perfect posture, erect and quick, swinging her arms at her side. When she couldn’t walk outside, she walked at the community center, finishing her exercise routine by using the stair-stepper. This continued into her 89th year. Even during her short stay at the nursing home during her last few months she wanted to walk. The staff mentioned that she would take grasp their arm for a walk down the hall, then take off at such a quick pace that they would be surprised and struggle to keep up. Many of Fencine’s children and grandchildren enjoy athletic ability and a competitive edge sure to be inherited from her.

Over the years Fencine offered many hand-written notes of affection to her family in the birthday cards she never failed to send. Fencine’s outlook on life was decided, and though a strong woman with strong opinions, she always supported her children and grandchildren as they made their own way in life. She was quick to offer advice on the best way to clean or cook or the right way to spell something, but also quick to learn from and offer support to her loved ones. Even when her own approach to life differed from that of her children or grandchildren, she found a way to appreciate the common ground. Her prayers for her children and grandchildren were consistent and treasured, and her unwavering faith and determination to do right was a solid example for all.

Fencine passage into an eternity with her God began on September 17, 2014.Fencine's service

Throughout her 89 years Fencine epitomized faithfulness to the God she loves and to her family. She weathered good times and bad with an unshakable belief that God was with her. In her years of health she was selfless, working hard to serve others. She stood beside her husband even when he spent long hours in ministry leaving her to shoulder much responsibility. She believed in him and the work he did and saw her sacrifices as her own offerings to her Savior. Fencine leaves behind a legacy of integrity, kindness, selflessness, loyalty, and faith.

She will be greatly missed.

I’m Okay! Really!

No major life crises, no health issues, no shocking inner journey. Just space. Time. Preparing my kids and myself for the big leap to college, then processing the empty house and cleaning out drawers. Taking time to cry a little as a the kids step into adulthood. Rejoicing in a week vacation with a best friend. Choosing to be more interior, to spend a chunk of that time I often use for blogging to be private~me, my God, and my journal.IMAG0318  Taking time to ask who He sees in this new season for me.  I’m still hitting the sidewalks and trails and caring about being healthy inside and out. Blog posts are germinating, and as soon as it feels right, you’ll hear from me . . . special thanks to those of you who sent a little note recognizing my absence here. That meant a lot.

Until the posts start appearing again know that I’m here, still stretching, growing, even being a bit adventurous!

Until Next Time,

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Refreshment

20140722_093918-1The breeze brushes my face, wispy fingers cooling my questions.

It’s funny what conquers the ragged places. You think it will take something big–like getting the answers you want–but sometimes it’s the simplest relief.

Like this light wind whisking away the heat as we sit beneath the shade trees of our backyard .

It doesn’t answer the questions I asked last night. It doesn’t change the circumstances of frustration.

But it is LOVE.

And isn’t this life full of Him when I open my heart to see?

Conviction hits with that statement. It’s not always about my ability to open my heart. Last night’s questions weren’t coming from this happy, open place.

The breeze, this quiet moment away from the sweltering heat of my home and the suffocating heat of my heart is a gift. I didn’t earn it by being some goody-goody person living open and happy.

I have cultivated the notice of such by an intentional decision to say thank you. I did ask God last night for help when I felt the doldrums coming on. But I didn’t make the breeze. I didn’t force my heart open.

I think only God can open the heart. My will can ask Him to. My logic knows it is good for me. But the heart? That’s something different all together.

The heart is where HE lives. And He is hope. Joy. Peace. Love. All the things I long for. He opens this place to the Good.

When I cried out in the sweaty night, hot and tired, unable to sleep, He granted my body rest and awoke me to this day. This moment.

I’ve no doubt that His Spirit tempted me outside. It started with notice of wilting basil leaves, so thirsty.20140723_124649 Then the act of running up and down the stairs, back porch to plant watering jug in hand, awakened me to the possibilities.

Sam’s hot and tired, too. Maybe even more than I with all of his aching surgery hip and sitting in front of TV and gaming station, being tied to crutches, mostly trapped inside.

So we breakfasted in the breeze. Talked of everything and nothing. How this summer was his favorite summer of baseball ever. He thanked me for his childhood, precious son that he is, as we stared at the swing set which sits mostly still these days. I guess kids reminisce, too. Even as I silently mourned the decaying tree house, the lack of shrieking, giggling little ones, he celebrates the good, sees the big yard and the tire swing and dangling climbing rope and remembers. Happy. (And yes, I hear the lesson in that.)

Now we sit side-by-side, lap-tops perched on the patio table that speaks love, too (It once belonged to Bernice, and I know she would rejoice in seeing us here). We let the fresh air clear our head, cool our bodies, lift our spirits.

A pure, white butterfly flits by. Lands on the rose bush.

Bird song wafts on the breeze.

We believe again in season, in ups and downs, and how the downs don’t last forever. His crutches will soon be abandoned. The stuff that weighed on my emotions last night will pass. We remember that even in those downs there is relief. We discover gifts. Embrace love.

I am happy, too. Son beside me. Cool breeze refreshing.

Hope you’re finding joy in the simple pleasures, too, my friends.

Until next time,

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Stress?

It was quite the day.

4:30 a.m. and I was already in front of the mirror, taming the wild mane of clean hair. I’d gone to bed with it wet to gain sleep time.

I’m not a morning person.

Packed my bag for the hospital stay. Put on my favorite shirt for the interview.

Hubby and I bundled our sixteen-year-old “baby” in the car, dreading the pain he would soon endure.

It’s our fourth hip surgery. Experience is helpful in these situations. It also makes you realistic about things like how much pain there is and how demanding the next few weeks are, how long the months to recovery will be.

At the hospital they take us through the paces. The doctor talks through options of what he might do depending on what he sees once he’s inside.

The anesthesiologist discusses options, too. We ask for the anti-nausea patch. Opt for a spinal over an epidural. Last time Sam hated the tingling in his feet.

One last kiss. My child is whisked away. Parents ushered away, too. We’re sent to wait.

I linger only a moment before a brisk walk to the van. My interview is on the other side of the big city. If traffic cooperates I can be there and back before while my son is still in surgery.

It’s 7:30 now, and I long for the coffee I feared would upset my system three hours before. But the traffic is heavy, and a Starbucks’ line seems unwise.

It’s stop and go, this tedious drive that used to take half the time before my city grew. Close to my destination I realize I will be late.

I’m interviewing for a demanding experience in a third world country. “How do you hand stress?” They ask.

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Photo from Wiki – South Sudan

I’m calm. So calm.

Stress. The files click in my mind. Stress was those seven years. When my husband almost died. When they almost took our home. When all four children faced sickness, surgeries, undiagnosed illness, broken bones, struggles academic, physical, emotional, spiritual.

When dreams crashed, and I fought for breath every day. Digging deep. Carrying on.

Stress was two years past the seven. When two car accidents stole my stalwart reserves, messing with my head, my emotions, causing headaches, pain in my neck and back, sensations still undiagnosed. Making me afraid to drive. Afraid to live, really.

But today is 2014. Not 2012 or the years before.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had much stress lately.”

If they are incredulous they don’t show it.

They know my son is in surgery. They’ve been praying for our family. They know I drove through rush hour traffic to get to them.

I talk about the hard stress years. How I had to be strong. How the car accidents stole my strength.

I’m in the van before I realize the absurdity of my answer. How this day. THIS day of surgery, little sleep, traffic, and interview I say I am not stressed.

I shake my head. They must think me delusional.

Or in denial at least.

I laugh at me. Did they do the same when I left the room?

Today is stress. Even more than normal stress.

But maybe I’m not so stressed I don’t know stress. Maybe I’m not in denial.

It’s a matter of contrast.

Those years, those nine years of unrelenting stress . . . did they teach me something? Show me we can endure more than I knew?

I’m deeper now. God is more established in me. Oh HE was always right there, but I know Him more. His faithfulness. His provision.

His ability to receive my pounding fists when I hate the things He allowed.

I trust Him more. He has earned that trust.

My friend says I’m happier this summer. Is it due to the reduced stress or the increased understanding of life, God, strength?

Maybe both.

My stress this surgery day is real, even if I didn’t articulate it in the interview. But it is not crushing real.

Some things are understood in the comparison.

Some things are understood in the perspective of a life lived.

And in this we have survived. Blossomed even.

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Until next time,

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Why I Flirt in the Kitchen

Thanks to some links on my daughter’s fb page I’m thinking about modesty, sex, and what we teach our daughters.

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This image from a fun site all about swimsuits of the 1900s

Here’s the thing. Sometimes in our attempt to raise modest daughters we inadvertently teach them that they should be ashamed of their bodies, that men are animals, and that sex is bad.

(And here I nod to Miss Kiki’s Journey and a wonderful post called Modesty, Lies, and Making People Mad.)

Children of conservative families are sometimes surprised to visit our house. I kiss my husband in front of my children and their friends. We flirt in the kitchen. We hint at the privileges of marriage. This is an intentional choice. Part of it is purely selfish. It’s fun, and Jerry and I like it! Flirting in the kitchen makes the day a little brighter and sometimes leads to a bit of fun behind closed doors later.

But I have another reason for my kitchen flirting. I want my children to embrace the idea that marriage is fun, and tat sex in marriage is a fabulous gift, one to treasure and look forward to. We don’t avoid the topic at our house because sex in marriage is right and good and God-designed.

I still remember one of the first times I hung out with Jerry’s parents. They were a very conservative couple who fit the traditional 50’s image of pastor and pastor’s wife. You rarely saw Ray without a tie, and Fencine is one of the most proper women I know. They were a deeply loving and spiritual couple with very conservative values.

We were in the home of Jerry’s brother and his wife. It was a family setting, no other guests, so things were a little more relaxed. Already grandparents several times over, Jerry’s parents must have been married close to 40 years at this point.

You have the set-up; here’s the punch line. As we headed into the kitchen for lunch Ray popped Fencine on the bottom! Just a little, affectionate, flirty swat!

I was shocked, but I treasure that memory of how a couple who’d been married that long were still flirting in the kitchen.

I don’t mean to be trite. Modesty is a real issue. I do believe men are wired more visually than women. (And frankly, under the clock of married love this can be a lot of fun.) What I don’t believe is that women are solely (or even primarily) responsible for how men respond to what they see.

Here’s another lesson I learned from Jerry’s dad. We all went to Schindler’s List. There is a scene that is not sexual at all, but the women in the concentration camp are stripped naked so the guards can decide which ones are strong enough to continue living. Jerry’s dad very quietly left the theater until the scene had passed. A real man respects a woman’s privacy.

As a mother of sons I expect my young men to be responsible. I applaud Kiki who said, “Boys are capable of looking at a woman without lust. Boys are not animals and we must stop putting it in their minds that they are. Also we need to stop telling that to girls. Men are not to be feared. Every man’s mind is not full of lust 100% of the time. They are intelligent and wonderful . . .”

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Kissing hubby on our 25th wedding anniversary

That’s not to say modesty is not a real issue. We need to teach our daughters that their body is a beautiful treasure to be unwrapped at the appropriate time. We need to teach her she is more than her body, that the sexy images on the big screen and glossy magazines that stress only the body are not accurately portraying the main reason for a woman’s existence.

We are not objects, but we are a work of art. We need to celebrate our daughter’s full person, not chop off the body as the shameful part in our efforts to help her learn self-respect and wisdom.  Modesty should not be stressed in a way that makes our daughters think their bodies are shameful, men are scary, and sex is bad.

Sex is good. Sexy behind closed doors between a husband and wife is fun. I want my children to enjoy their marriage privileges without shame. I want my daughter to be comfortable with her body. I want my sons to know that thinking a woman is beautiful is normal.

It’s why I flirt in the kitchen.

(Jerry just read this and said I flirt because he is irresistible. That, too. ;o))

Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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Ditch the Can, the Chair, the Dolrums

 

Ditching the Desert

I believe in giving oneself the space to heal after loss. That’s why I spent the last few weeks recuperating from the long hours of hospital stay 20140405_131421and eventual death of my beloved friend who was more like family. I slowed way down. Let the blog lie mostly silent. Spent a lot of hours in my (new) chair reading, being still. I’ve been taking time with the process. Throwing in the empty nest stuff I’m dealing with as well. Cleaning out old photos. Letting the tears drip. But even as I want to grieve well, I don’t want to live in the desert. And I certainly don’t want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. So I’ve been returning to healthier habits, taking my BeNew, walking, choosing raw spinach and strawberries and cashews. I’m going to walk through this valley, but I’m ditching the desert by making good, refreshing choices that aid the healing process.

Ditching the Chair

Okay, so we did get rid of the “famous” old blue recliner where I rocked all my babies. My daughter was20131222_140949 devastated, but not enough to give the worn out rocker a new home. But even as the old blue recliner goes, my memories do not. All four kids piled into one big heap. Babies nuzzling at the breast. Older kids, hot with fever and usually too old to held, clinging to Momma, rocking through the long night. Quiet hours pouring my heart into my floral journals. Whispers of heaven as I talk to God and listen to His responses to my questions and pleas. Hot tea sipped. Novels devoured along with the popcorn and chocolate. I loved that old blue recliner, but I release it just as I must release the long season of child-rearing. (But not before I proved that I lost enough weight that my brother and I could both fit in it!)

Ditch the Can

For me the Ditch the Can movement isn’t so much about ditching a Redbull or Five Hour Energy. I wasn’t IMAG3027-1-3really into those things. But what I do need to ditch is narrow perspectives. I’m ready to live a freer life on my terms, not tied to a publisher or a time-clock for income. DTC is kicking into gear for hubby and me, showing us what it’s like to live outside the boundaries of traditional thinking and to step into a place where we can ditch a lot of stuff like debt, miserly living, worry about finances, small thinking, and boxed in living. If you want to know more, visit my new page on this blog.

 

 

Ditch the Sitting

Okay. I’m still going to sit. I love  my new recliner, moved from Bernice’s house next door into my living room. I’m in that chair now, typing this blog, clinging to a bit of her presence.20140507_100115 But I’ve been sitting too much. Getting slow and stiff. This week I decided, “ENOUGH!!” I’ve clocked about 15 miles in my tennis shoes the last four days. I saw an airplane tail hanging out of a house, inhaled the fragrance of three different colors of lilacs, and strolled with a fluffy bunny (for real!). I walked with hubby and walked alone. I walked without a destination and I walked to Gunther Toody’s to have lunch with a friend. I walked in silence, strode forward while talking non-stop to my husband, and clocked multiple miles in prayer. I walked in the sunshine, the wind, and the drizzle. (I did stay home when it hailed, however.) And you know what? I loved it. Every step, every vista, every conversation and even the solitude. And walking makes me remember how it heals to get into the fresh air and notice things like bird song and flowers, lilac scents and cloud designs.

Ditching the Have-Tos

canopyDuring this season of transition and grief one thing I’m for sure ditching is the expectations I too often place upon myself to manage according to some arbitrary “have-to.” The world pushes us to rush through change, to get over sorrow, to perform instead of live. To do instead of be. I’m ditching the have-tos. I’m choosing to weep when I want to weep. To laugh when I want to laugh. To read a book even if there’s laundry. To take care of my heart and not just the dishes. Sure I’m prioritizing the stuff the calendar requires. I’m not advocating total negligence. I still believe in being responsible even in the season of grief. But I don’t have to rush through this time. I don’t have to perform, perform, perform. I give myself permission to “be.” For as long as I need to. For interludes throughout my day or week. To pause instead of push. To sit under a tree and stare upward.

Until next time,

moldenhauer signature3

PS If there is a theme to these random reflections, maybe it’s ditching the doldrums. Choosing not to let the hard times of life steal away the good–like hope and dreams for the future, getting outside and enjoying blues skies, embracing good memories even as I allow for grief and season change. Even the time to mourn is ditching the doldrums. That, too, is good. Healthy.

Introspection

20140422_191129I light four wicks, relishing the small flickering candles, a treat to myself this morning. Sitting at my well-loved and worn kitchen table, I pull out a devotional, make a cup of coffee, indulge in a chocolate treat. All next to pretty lights on a swatch of sunflower fabric.

My boys tease me about my obsession with finding tiny spots of beauty. But really isn’t this world full of it? Isn’t one of our callings as the created to grab hold of all the gifts of the Creator?

This brief moment of quiet beauty releases me. To this meandering of thought.

My blog has lain silent. I gave myself permission to take one day at a time, to laugh, to cry, to work. It takes a lot of time to separate households. After the loss of my dear neighbor, Bernice, more family than friend, the energy to move forward was cut in two. Her relatives shared many of her household go20140425_121212ods. I have new recliners.

A new TV.

Her red salt and pepper shakers.

That’s what I wanted most–to remind me of her. The love for red. The spunk.

They even gave us her car. The ones the boys drove so often these last months. Sometimes for or with her. Sometimes for their own pleasure. I think this makes her happy if she sees from her new home.

And in the gifts we reshape our home. Organize. Clean. It is good. It is exhausting.

It demands much time.

Bernice was generous with her basement. I don’t have one. She didn’t use all of hers. Over the years it became a safe place for the treasures my four children and I weren’t yet ready to part with. Stories and pictures crafted by stubby fingers. Stuffed animals. Train sets and dolls.

Now I’m forced to whittle back these mementos. There’s not enough room here for the treasures of four children now adults. So we declutter and reorganize the garage. Squeeze all 5 foot 9 of me into the crawl space beneath the stairs and do it again.

Boxes of memories line my family room. I go through each, one beloved memory at a time. Sometimes I have to stop and curl up on the couch. It’s not just physical. It is deeply emotional. And emotional steals energy just the same.

As I grieve the loss of Bernice, I’m face to face with the passages. Pictures of round toddler bodies. A story that starts out, “When I was born I got all the attention . . . then Seth was born, and he got all the attention . . . but then we played together, and it was okay because we had fun.”

A first grade rendering of Tolkien’s ents, green little leafy feet peeking out beneath a long brown tree trunk. And how did he know about ents at six years old?

Transition to empty nest continues. I force myself to make a trash pile. I keep way too much.

I don’t just grieve the season change, the children moving out and on. I grieve each lost friendship all over again. Some moved on because of location change or normal life restructure. With some the mother bear came out in us, and we couldn’t navigate each other as our children hurt, stretching in their own relationships, rocking the mommy boats. Pictures, cards that spoke of friendship that would never go away (but did). I probably should have tossed those, but I couldn’t.

Other relationships, too, that I couldn’t figure out.

Pictures of loved ones long with Jesus.

And it hurts all over again. And I climb under the covers and watch a chick flick. Mindless. Happy.

Have to stop feeling for a while.

A friend comes. She just sits. Listens to my stories of the day Bernice met Messiah face to face, questioning Jewish New Yorker who found her answers.

She lets me cry, this wise friend. Then sits nears as I face another stack of boxes. Her presence soothes. She helps me let go. She helps me diminish the piles that suck the life from me.

And life continues between spurts of sorting. The Moldenhauers apply to two more colleges, all the children stepping out.

Four in college. How can this be?

Four different locations. Four different lives growing from this one home. Next door to this one neighbor. Households entwined. Now separated.

But never separate.

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Heart of the Matter

Want to find hope and healing and success? Let’s get to the heart of the matter! How? We can start at our mouths and follow the trail. Solutions don’t come from treating the symptoms, but the symptoms can give us clues to the cause, then we can truly heal from the inside out.

Video: Want hope and healing? Follow the trail to the heart