When your heart is broken in a million pieces…

I write about life, usually from a variety of different angles, because that is how I view life. Life is not flat…it is dimensional in every way. Nothing is truly just superficial.

There are close family members and friends who are just like family who have gone through some of life’s most anguishing struggles.

I have grieved as I have watched drugs assault and destroy the hope and promise of a much loved young man. A young man who “seems” to have so much to live for, yet who has found his drug of choice to reduce his own mental anguish. It isn’t just this young man who is suffering from his addiction, but his parents, siblings, extended family and friends. That addiction has been a never-ending, runaway roller coaster ride for a very long time…The “answers” man offers up just don’t address what is truly an issue of the heart…

Depression and suicide have recently devastated the lives of two different families…tell me, what words would you offer to the grieving parents? Brothers and sisters? Sons and daughters? Would you know what to say to someone whose heart just burst into a million, tiny, jagged pieces?

I am full of words, but I had none to offer.

A friend, who is more like a daughter, has been struggling through her father’s cancers…not just one, but two different kinds, simultaneously. And now, she finds that her husband has a brain tumor…At some point, I think we just silently lift our longing eyes to heaven because we no longer can find the words we need to pray effectively. That is when the Spirit takes our heart’s groanings and translates them into prayers…

Then there are those things that we cannot talk about…those hurts that we have in common with others, but are not ours to share. The “confidential” ones…you know, when we put on that brave face and cover up our pain because…well just because we can’t talk about it.

We tend to be masters of disguise…burying things so deeply because we want to be “strong”. Ha. We are not strong. Our very breath is a gift of that moment…we have no promises of a future breath.

How often do we TRULY look at life within the understanding of the scope of its temporal and temporary confines? And then, do we step back and simply gaze at the unfathomable eternity and still stand amazed in spite of the anguish of these earthly lives filled with earthly struggles?

That is what I am doing today…trying to see beyond the temporal and the temporary…for that glimpse of future Glory…

Psalm 73:1-2, 21-28

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped…

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Leaps and Bounds

NanaDoll:

My dear friend, on an incredible journey, shares the most recent update on her husband. It is amazing to see the way God moves in and through our lives. So thankful!

Originally posted on chittykittybangbang:

Our days continue to get better in increments. Sometimes the increments are very big. Sometimes very small. But the trend is an upward one and for that, we are thankful.  Heath starts occupational therapy today and he actually wondered aloud this morning if he really needs it. His clarity of thought has improved tremendously, but there are still some deficits, especially with language processing. He’s also struggling a bit with critical thinking, so these will be areas that the therapist will work with him…I hope.  

 

His medication schedule is also getting a whole lot easier to manage. He’s off of pain medicine completely. I’m astonished by this. Being free from pain and the medications to address it mean he’s been able to stop a couple other medicines, too, which were prescribed to counteract the side effects of the pain meds. Those of who who have taken narcotics for…

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Not just another anxious parent

NanaDoll:

Excellent letter. Can you relate?

Originally posted on Colour the moment:

 

Dear Swim School Supervisor,

I wanted to take this opportunity to say a few of the things that you did not allow me to say this morning. It wouldn’t have taken me long to tell you face to face but you had obviously decided as soon as you saw me, that you already knew what I was going to say.

My intention was to have a quick word with my son’s instructor before the lesson started. The employee at the Swim School reception desk assured me that this would be neither inconvenient, nor inappropriate.

After you had directed my son to his designated area and physically placed yourself between him and I, you looked at me questioningly, your knowing expression and raised eyebrows telling me that I had already been sized up and judged. You saw an anxious parent. Someone who didn’t trust you to do your job. You…

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Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise

Jaimie/Jamie–Lost and Found

This year has been full of surprises and reminders. Many so sweet and wonderful. Others are reminders of very painful periods in my life.

It is interesting to confront pain that is so very old. Pain that still has the power to hurt and ache. Not that physical pain, but the soulful pain of real loss and sorrow.

I don’t know how you deal with your heartbreaks and heartaches. Depending on the source of the pain, you may squash it down, or roll around in it or allow it to overwhelm you to the point of breaking you.

I have struggled with so many types of sorrow through the years. Probably one of the longest running painful things was seeing my daughter going through her own pain and grief as the consequence of misplaced hope and trust. Defiance that led her to a very dark period in her life, that defiance could do nothing less than envelope my husband and me, as well.

Lessons learned are like the new growth in the Spring…dead seeds sprouting and bringing forth new life. THAT is the period we live in with our daughter these days, and it is such a wonderful place to be living right now.

I don’t borrow tomorrow’s sorrows or joys, but I truly try to live THIS day savoring the joys that God grants each day. But even as long-running as the struggles with our daughter, there is a sorrow that life could not remedy for me.

As a young wife and mother, barely into my twenties, I saw my hopes and dreams dashed to pieces. Much like Humpty Dumpty, there was no one who could put my broken pieces back together. I suffered a massively destructive ectopic tubal pregnancy. With that loss, we didn’t just lose a little life, but all those hopes and dreams that parents have for their children. Gone was that little baby. Gone were all the birthdays and first teeth and first steps and first days of school…

And gone was my ability to bear any more children. So many people, well-meaning but ignorant, said things that honestly just didn’t help. That I had a child already did not erase my pain at losing another child. It also didn’t fill the void of a large family I had dreamed of having. It didn’t fill that empty place in the pit of my heart or replace the yearning for another baby. No one, no matter who they were, could guarantee that a miracle child would just come if I relaxed. And those comments came from well-meaning people. Others were just heartless.

When I think about the pain of those months and early years, it still cuts me in a place nothing else has ever touched. Thirty years later, that pain lingers.

There have been occasions when I have allowed myself to ask the what ifs. To wonder what my life would have been like if our little baby had lived. If I could have borne more children, how many would I have had? What would they have been like? Who would they take after? What if…

We named that little one Jaimie. Not knowing if that baby was a boy or a girl, we chose a name that carried the desire we had had…in French, Je t’aime means I love you. We wanted to have a name that conveyed our love for that child. It was the best name we could think of that worked. Jaimie.

Later, we adopted two children. Such blessings to all of us. We struggled through difficult adoptions and then the naturalization procedure. So much red tape, but so worth it. But our family size was limited to what we could afford in paper work, so our family was then complete. Dad, mom, two daughters and a son.

You wonder why I am bringing this up now, at Thanksgiving?

Well, let me tell you about the miracle we have found this year. It will have to be the Cliff Notes version because the story is almost 50 years old.

I had an uncle named Jimmy. He died when I was twelve. So almost 42 years ago, my mother’s younger brother died and that closed a chapter of her life story. Uncle Jimmy was a bit of a rascal…some would say that he was more than just a bit of one. My mom tells a lot of stories about their years growing up. And she has scars that accompany a lot of those stories.

My mom says that her brothers and sisters used to make fun of her for being the only white sheep in the family. That should give you a bit of understanding about the life she knew growing up. As my mother got older and the internet became readily available, she started looking for information. There were some large gaps in her genealogy and she had an incredible inner need to answer the questions about her ancestors so that she could know who she really was…in many ways like our daughter wishing she knew about her birth family because she just wants to know more about who she is and where she came from.

My mother researched cemeteries, public libraries, churches and any place that she could to find more records. She published her findings on Ancestry.com and went to family reunions with other branches of the family she had never met. Over the course of many years, she got a lot of answers to those questions that had been her own struggle for such a long time.

When she developed breast cancer, the research sort of stopped. Her chemo treatments were terrible, but she went through it with grace and strength. I am still amazed at the way she battled back. The after effects have been lingering. Maybe if she had been younger, her body would have rallied back. But she remained very weak. Of course, aging coupled with the chemo effects have taken their toll.

But she eventually began plugging away more slowly at her research. And then, her younger sister, Delilah, died suddenly. It was a terrible loss that I can’t even begin to describe. But out of that loss has come an incredible surprise.

Remember Uncle Jimmy? Well, while he was stationed overseas in England, he apparently had a son. And this son had been looking for his father’s family for years. He had hired private investigators and done all he could to track down his U.S. family. But with a last name like Johnson…well, there are a lot of Johnsons out there.

But this cousin, who I didn’t know existed, was researching while my mother was researching. And he stumbled across Aunt Dee’s obituary. And guess what that obituary contained? ALL THE NAMES OF THE FAMILY MEMBERS, along with their spouses’ names! AND the cities where they all lived.

In this year, I have “met” (not face to face yet) my cousin–JAMIE. It has been such a blessing to get to know him. To talk with him and hear him tell his stories, in that wonderful English accent. To find this out, so many years later, words fail me. Jamie is five years younger than I am. He doesn’t know about my little Jaimie. (Well, he will now…).

I cannot tell you how much joy finding him has meant to the whole family. My mother is just overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. It is a blessing that goes beyond the superficial. It hits you down deep, in that tenderest place that holds your most painful and most wonderful thoughts.

That his name is Jamie. Well, all I can say is that I love him and am grateful that God has given me an answer that I wasn’t even looking for. It is very much like having something that was lost returned to you. He is not my Jaimie. But he is Jamie–so loved and such an answer to prayer, on both sides of the Atlantic. And the astonishing thing is that he and one of my daughters resemble each other very much. I just cannot adequately put this all into a short blog post. Trust me. There has to be a book out of this somewhere.

But for now, can I just share from my very thankful heart, my prayer for you all to have a very happy Thanksgiving. Treasure the blessings and recognize them for what they are. Blessings so undeserved, yet so treasured.

Vim, Vigor and Vinegar

I spent my Saturday washing clothes. Not just clothes, but towels, bedding and assorted textiles.

For those of you who have followed this blog since the beginning, you will maybe remember that doing the laundry is actually one of my favorites among the mundane chores. There is a certain pleasure in getting the stains out of clothes. In seeing crumpled, smelly things come out clean and fresh.

Even the folding holds a distinct joy. Seeing those hard-to-fold undershirts folded neatly and carefully.

What? You don’t fold them?

Or the fitted sheets…It’s like a personal challenge to see how perfectly I can fold one so that you can’t tell it isn’t the flat sheet.

I know. I am strange that way. But honestly. I enjoy such a sense of completion when the piles of dirty laundry are systematically tackled and put away, leaving a clean floor with nothing left to wash.

For at least a few hours.

But Superman took over the laundry for the last few years while our daughter and her three children lived with us. He is a very smart man, recognizing that awful compulsion I have for forging through the mounds of laundry generated by four very active people. And I do not include Superman or myself in that category.

It’s not that we aren’t active. We just don’t attract dirt, or the same kind of dirt, the way they did. We were potty trained long ago, so we are able to make it through the night without an accident. And, well, let’s face it. We generally don’t roll in the dirt, rummage through the trash, throw disgusting stuff at each other and spill everything all over ourselves. I hope we have a few more years left before we return to that in our second childhood.

But one thing that happened while Superman and our daughter handled the laundry was very annoying.

They didn’t keep the washing machine clean. And it is one of those front loaders. You know, the HE kind that uses less water and is prone to developing a stink.

Last summer I noticed my clean clothes had a stench. Ewwww.

I went down to investigate. OH MY GOODNESS. There was MOLD growing in the gasket. (Mind you, I am allergic to mold. It aggravates my asthma. THAT is a MAJOR PROBLEM.)

I googled replacements for the gasket. Over $100. Yikes. I decided that once our active bunch moved, I would order a new gasket.

Superman, who has honestly done his very best to do the laundry the right way (read MY way) has faithfully used vinegar in the rinse. We both like the way it keeps the dispenser free of build up and minimizes how much cleaning of residue we have to do. Note: Daughter does not like using vinegar. She seems to smell the vinegar after the cycle is completed. Apparently, Superman and I do NOT have that super-sensitive sense of smell.

So the active ones moved into a new home about a month ago, and I resumed my favored chore with renewed vim and vigor. (Is that grammatically correct?)

Vinegar and those awesome little pre-measured pods, along with a scoop of OxiClean in each load…

AND GUESS WHAT???

After one month, the mold is GONE! I kid you not. There is no trace of the nasty black stuff on the gasket and the machine smells great.

So for all of you Vinegar doubters out there, take my word for it–the stuff is awesome. And CHEAP.

 

It’s Saturday…

I haven’t written since the end of August. Wow. August. Seems a lifetime ago.

As is so often the case, life tends to interfere with the best laid plans. My personal initial commitment to write every day. Not happening.

It isn’t that I don’t have a boatload of material. I have several mental storage units full of ideas and stories.

It isn’t that I am not motivated. Believe me, the motivation is there, too.

What ISN’T there is a consistent, always on internet connection to my computer. And the internet is always on. My computer just likes to pretend that it isn’t anywhere around.

I tried a little doohicky that you plug into the USB port…it worked! Yes! For like, three weeks when it broke and no longer worked. For $50, I expected a little more time.

I could connect my computer directly to the router, but that is housed in a room usually inhabited by a sleeping child. And what is the point of having WIFI if you have to plug your computer into a router???

So writing became too much of a challenge, and I just stopped writing. And I really missed it.

All those funny stories.

All that developmental lesson planning.

Chronicling the life-changing events of the daily mundane that isn’t mundane at all.

But that has all changed. I know, you are breathing a sigh of relief. And you are holding your breath waiting for it…

I finally got a WIFI Range EXTENDER!!! Now, theoretically, even though my router is only 20 ft. away and should be giving me a signal. FAIL. But the extender is right by me, and it HAS A SIGNAL!

Oh the freedom of not being tethered. Oh the joy…I can use my laptop in the living room! I CAN WRITE AGAIN!!! Do you hear me?

All that pent up garbledy-gook that runs rampant in my head will once again have an outlet. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

But what does that have to do with Saturday?

Well, my foray back into the vast blagosphere is happening today. Saturday.

And Superman is building the first fire of the season in the fireplace, down in the basement.

Oh joy. Happy, happy, happy!

It’s Saturday, and I spent the first bit of it with YOU! Hope your day is great. My sewing machine has been hollering for me all week, so I am now descending into the depths of my little cottage to continue what has started out to be a wonderful day.

See you soon!