Affected

A tragedy occurred this week, and I have not been able to get the events and people corresponding to it out of my mind. I didn’t know them, and am only distantly connected with what happened, but being somewhat in the know about it all has really left me sad. I ask myself, why so sad, since I didn’t suffer any loss or heartache directly. In fact, this has all bothered me so much that I wonder why it is not affecting others like it is affecting me. This morning at church, no mention was made of the incident during prayer time. Throughout the week, I thought I might hear of more people reaching out to help, but only a handful are, it appears. The majority of people have already gone back to their daily lives, without much thought about it. And I would, too, usually. I hear about something tragic in the news, probably hundreds of somethings in a year’s time, and my heart doesn’t even skip a beat. Why now? I guess one takeaway I ought to have is to be more aware of those around me, and the problems they may be having. Also, to pray that this awful string of events not be wasted, that God would be glorified somehow. That maybe this could open a new door for the gospel, that was before closed, to families. To make my tears count. This experience brought about in me, once again, the realization that I have no idea what is going on in people’s heads and hearts, and I have no control over others or their decisions. But God has complete control, and though He allows us to have our way, prayer is powerful. I think of the prayer, loosely quoted, “Lord, the waves are so big, and our boats are so small…” His plans will prevail, and His love endures forever.

Weather Or Not

Hello from frozen Ohio! It has been an interesting week, weather-wise, with low temperatures, and snow, and high winds. But life still goes on, thankfully.

Sarah had her root canal on Monday. It went well. She’ll need another round of internal bleaching before she is done, which happens next Monday. This has been a trying experience, more for me than for her, I think. During school time once we wrote about courage, which can be defined as the strength to move forward in spite of fear, difficulty, or change. That last one, change, isn’t normally what we think of needing courage to weather, but it does. And I think the change of this new experience, this going from having a good braces off time immediately to a serious problem, is just throwing me down. But I’m coming along. Moving forward.

I’m planning on starting Kidnapped by Robert Lewis Stevenson as a read aloud tomorrow. In the first chapter, the boy is given some items to take on his journey, but at first the author only describes the items by shape. I think we’ll guess at what the items are, and talk about why the author would choose to only give us bits and pieces of information, before I read us the chapter. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to have activities like this, because the book may be a little beyond some of these kids’ abilities.

 

All The Things

I spoke to my daughter about her latest blog posts sounding sad, almost depressed. I hoped that she didn’t feel that way, at least not on a regular basis. Then I got to thinking about my posts- seems I only post when I have some crisis or am worried about some crisis. I will try to be more well rounded here, I commit to that today.

I’m at Caleb’s Upward basketball practice. He is getting into the sport as his brother, Sam, has done. Noah will watch basketball on TV, but only played a couple of seasons before he was played out. We’ll see about the other three boys, what they take to. They are still pretty little.

So when we decided two were going to play basketball in two different counties, we had to decide who was going to drive them. I get the one close to home, so I don’t have to bring Chloe out in the cold, or leave her for long. But being alone for a couple hours is fun! I went to Hobby Lobby, and spent the rest of my Christmas money. Trying to get back into art, I’ve joined a sketching group that meets monthly. Our leader likes to use water pens, and gave me a quick demonstration on how they work. Then, lo and behold, I got some pens for Christmas from my friend Angela. (Funny aside here: Sarah asked me once, “Why do you refer to her as ‘my friend Angela’? She’s the only Angela you and we know!” And I just did it again here, in a place where she is likely my only reader by that name.) Just now I got some watercolor pencils, to use the pens in another way.

Sarah is my trooper right now. She got her braces off in December, and we immediately noticed one of her front teeth (#9, I now know) was discolored. We suspected an injury, but how? Neither she nor we could remember anything happening to her. She had been sent home with bleaching, so maybe it was some kind of metal residue? The bleaching didn’t do much, the off color moved through the tooth, so back we went to the orthodontist. He said it was bleeding internally, we should see the dentist to be safe, but that we should be conservative about treatment of this kind of thing. I had no idea what this kind of thing was; my worst fears were that the tooth would fall out of her head, and I was a nervous wreck. But as I prayed about it even before revisiting the orthodontist, I thought God was giving me Psalm 55:22. He will sustain Sarah, He will sustain me, whatever lay ahead.

Our dentist was not much more help. Yes, it was a damaged tooth, but there were many ways to proceed, anywhere from a root canal to leaving it alone for a while (“Just so you get it done before you leave for college,” he says.) He recommended an endodontist, a profession I had never heard of. This doctor would know what needs to be done.

We saw the endodontist yesterday morning, and after a cold temperature test and a few minutes’ exam, the doctor declared the tooth would have to have a root canal, as soon as possible. Did you catch the difference in sense of urgency in each Doctor we saw? It does depend on their area of expertise, and the way we were able to journey to the heart of Sarah’s problem. But I got a glimpse of what it might be like for someone being sent to a cancer specialist, being told they are stage 4, and they want to operate immediately. This endodontist doesn’t consider that I had no idea his job existed (or the severity of Sarah’s problem) before yesterday, so his dental chair-side manner feels a bit flippant. And since he does root canals all day every day, he doesn’t see this for the life changing experience it could be for Sarah, having a cosmetic, facial concern for the rest of her life. And the braces were supposed to have a good ending.

I was very low yesterday. Hormones and teeth combined to literally exhaust me last night. But I’m better today, and trying to look at the bright side, wherever I see it. She will have excellent care. Imagine living in a time or place where her hurt teeth really would fall out! And, I know we are just talking about teeth. It’s not cancer, it’s not loss of life, or even limb. And we can afford this care. All good things. And I have God’s word that He will sustain us. This is more than enough.

Blogs I Love

I’ve been blogging (on and ((a lot)) off) for a really long time! This has been such a great period of my life. In addition to writing on my blog, I’ve always had a playlist of other, excellent blogs I read. I got to tell the very first blogger I followed how much I appreciated her, recently via email. I’m sure she felt a cross between creeped out and flattered when I told her all these things I remember her blogging about, from meal planning to her micro preemie son’s birth. But I loved reading. I haven’t shared who I’m reading these days, so here are my favorites, with some commentary. I thought about linking to each one, but that might not be good for my blog or theirs, in some cases. So, you might have to translate my dots and slashes.

Smittenkitchendotcom- I not only love cooking shows and blogs, but I really love the ones who have a story to tell for each recipe they share. I’ve been reading this one for years.

Fountainavenuekitchendotcom- this is a new read, and I like her stories, too.

16blessingsmomdotblogspotdotcom- she has 16 kids, and faithfully writes every day! So inspiring to me.

Likemotherlikedaughterdotorg- I love the book recommendations here, and her thoughts on politics, life, homeschooling, and cooking.

Dailyconnoisseurdotblogspotdotcom- she’s so uplifting and fun. These are videos, though, which I cannot watch easily on my phone, so I am glad when she gives a written synopsis of the video. I discovered the book Amy Snow when she recommended it. Good stuff.

Thepioneerwomandotcombackslashconfessionsbackslash- this is one of the oldest blogs for me. I was reading when she was a mere pup, before Food Network, before Walmart. And her blog seems like it has not changed. She is still as goofy and poetic as she always has been. Love it.

Mychildiloveyoudotblogspotdotcom- I wish this lady were still blogging, and I check faithfully for a new post. But her archives are a treasure. Click on any month of the year, and find encouragement. Nights with these last few newborns have been spent with her whispering in my ear that this will all turn out beautifully.

So there’s my perfect seven right now. If you are looking for something good to read online, here’s where to start.

Disappointment, and Worship

I’m not all that easy to like. I know. There are many faults and sins that need work before I even start to get interesting. But isn’t it funny how easily annoying others can be, those many times with the same faults and sins? Disappointment is powerful, and is the price of having all of these people around us. You aren’t quite like me, and your response there was definitely not the way I would have handled it…Now I get to suffer loss because of your behavior. I told someone once, “The older I get, the more I see life is about cleaning up after other people!”

It hit me today, though- this reality should drive me to acknowledge God and His work in my life. He is in control, I am not. If I was, I’d surround myself with people just like me, and how fun/not fun would that be? I can only respond, Holy is the LORD.

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control

This is not how it will be
When we finally will see
We’ll see with our own eyes
He was always in control

And we’ll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means

-Steven Curtis Chapman

If It’s Not Yours…

I found a little figurine of a lion the other day, in our dryer. It looked vaguely familiar, though I was certain it didn’t belong to us. A few weeks ago, we attended a nativity tour at a church, where the pastor had on display nativity scenes from around the world. There really were all kinds- humans of all colors, shapes, and sizes, but also animals and popular characters, like bears, and the Peanuts gang. I seemed to recall a Minecraft-type creche as well, and that might have been where this lion came from. I approached some of the younger kids, trying to think of creative questions that would get one of them to confess to stealing it. They all seemed clueless. Later I was going town, and thought I would drop by the church with the lion. But it was gone. My four year old ran back to his bedroom then, as if he knew where it was. Once back there, he couldn’t find it, and started weeping! I couldn’t figure out if he was feeling guilty about taking it the first time, or the second time. It is rare to see him so upset, and I thought, at the very least, he has taken our #1 rule to heart- If It’s Not Yours, Don’t Touch It. No solutions to this mystery in sight, but it has been an interesting turn of events.

Do It Once

Today is one of those perfect storm kinds of days-

The two year old doesn’t want to play in her room during school

The four year old wants to be really loud during school

The seven month old doesn’t want to nap during school

After school, no one can find shoes/coats/pants to wear to the library because no one wants to clean their room

…and so on. On the way to the library, I was thinking about my BSF notes talking about our responses to pressure showing what we value most. I wanted something to kill the bickering in the backseat other than me trying to yell over it. So we started singing some Christmas carols, and silly songs like 12 Days of Christmas and Jingle Bells. It worked! Yes, loud, yes chaotic, but it put us all in a new direction.

I wonder what kinds of things my kids will remember of Christmases long long ago. I get a little pressed to create good traditions they will enjoy and remember. However, as I think back on my childhood, some of the most memorable experiences I had that seemed like I did them a lot, I may have only done once or twice. So there is value in doing a thing once. We may not sing silly in the van Christmas Vacation style again for a while, but this one time counted.

“The most binding and powerful…is tradition. Tradition has special strength because it is associated with emotional attachments to family, religion, race, language, and folk history. Tradition appears to be spontaneous and timeless…’That’s just the way things are,’ and ‘It’s always been done this way,’ are the essential ingredients of tradition.” -Volume Library (Government and Law)

Thoughts From A Wake

This past week, the mother of a friend of mine passed away. It was rather sudden, and consequently hit her family pretty hard. I bought a card for my friend, but thought I should also attend the calling hours for her mom, as well. Not having much experience with deaths and funerals, yet, I am not sure if participating in the services would be expected of me, since I am not a very close friend. But my sister in law once told me that if I had any feeling at all I should go, I should go. So I did.

I told Luke when I was leaving that if it was too crowded, I would drop off my cards and leave. But when I got there, I could see how rude that would be to do- it was crowded, but the line of people wove in and out of the funeral home’s rooms, and most everyone could see everyone else. I got in line.

The first room the line crossed looked like the administrative office. Papers were strewn across the desk, including copies of the video of family pictures that was playing in the foyer. I thought it was strange to have the people walk through here, then inappropriate that the family’s personal things were laying out. Since I was alone, it was a challenge to find things to do with myself. I didn’t feel I could strike up a conversation with my neighbor, a hippie type, or my other neighbors, an older couple. It just didn’t seem right.

Once into the hallway, the line actually came round to the end of the family receiving line. Many at that point were giving a small wave or smile to those they knew in the family. One lady was not paying attention, so advanced in line to shake hands with the family, not knowing the line switched back. She ended up behind me.

For some reason, at this point I felt I could start talking to my new neighbor. I found out how she was acquainted to the deceased, and how my friend’s mom actually died. The Facebook posts were vague, and rightly so, so I didn’t have much information. Seems she was feeling tired, and at some point ill enough to be admitted to the hospital. Then, about two weeks later, she passed away during the night. The doctors didn’t know exactly what was wrong with her, were going through a series of tests, but the thought of death was far from anyone’s minds, so no one was prepared for that to happen.

A bit after talking my new friend pulled out her phone. I had noticed, and was appreciatively surprised, that NO ONE in that long long line was on their phones!!! What a testimony to the solemnity of the occasion. And an honor to this woman’s family. But she was not being obnoxious on hers, and I realized I should check mine for messages, so I told her I was glad she had hers out. Now that I was not the only one right now, I wouldn’t appear as rude, ha ha.

As we advanced, another lady joined our quiet conversation about death, what we’ve experienced with it so far, who we’ve lost, how we’ve dealt with the children it affected, and so on. I was heartened to hear their perspectives and theology mirrored my own; this woman who passed away was active in her local church, but also worked in the school system, so I could have been standing beside someone with a completely different faith background. But instead, we were able to encourage each other. Funny how the second half of my time in line went faster than the first, as we talked.

We got to talking about our stuff we keep around, knowing our kids won’t want it, but still we keep it. I told them I had 13 children, and back for our wedding we had registered for the plates with a setting for 12, thinking the 16 was too many (!) The one lady interrupted me- “You have thirteen children?! I have thirteen children!” What’s your name…” And we began to trade big family stories until we reached the family. What are the odds of being in that line with another mother of 13 children? Not odds, but God, for sure.

My bereaved friend was in shock. And all cryed out (for now) and so angry. But she still looked lovely. She told my new friend in line that she was done with life, that she just wanted Jesus to come and have it over with. I’ve been there, too. Read any of my posts about Micaiah if you want a sample of my feelings there. And then, I recalled another funeral (in this same building) I attended, for a newborn baby my friend had had, with so many medical problems he only lived a few minutes. I will never forget the way she looked at that tiny casket, with tears running down her cheeks, as if to say, this really hurts. I hate that this had to happen. Why do I have to say goodbye to someone I just met? Let me die, too.

It is good that my friend was being honest with her thoughts and feelings. And she realized that the funeral was only the beginning. Soon she would return to life with a new emptiness. Thanksgiving next week, and Christmas. And her young children, needing reminded of where Grandma was. She had just posted on Facebook weeks before about how her mom was her rock. Now it would be those left behind to be her support, but ultimately God. Though she is probably upset with Him now, she knows He can take it. That He’ll always be there listening.

 

 

Don’t Forget

Carol has a sort of game with our young children whenever they part. She says to them, “Don’t forget!” If we are in a place where others are ignorant of the game, they may shrug their shoulders and wonder, forget what?

My mom has Alzheimer’s disease. It has been a slow process so far, and God has been so gracious to allow for that, and have my dad be able to care for her for the foreseeable future. She recognizes all of us, even all of my children (at least I think she does;)), and the things she forgets are not matters of the heart, not yet. But because her mother had this, and because her sister just died and had this, I know a bit about the progression, to a state where she may not know who I am. Dad prays for a slow deteriorating; she is old at this point so a slow fade would take longer than she has years on Earth. This is not something I have prayed with earnestness. I’m not sure if that is God’s plan or not.

We used to joke (halfway) about “shoot me when I show signs of getting Alzheimer’s”, but in recent years I have realized how horrible a thought that is. For one thing, who knows how early in my life I will start to forget.

Just in this past week I have had two very disturbing experiences. The first I can’t explain in detail, but I neglected to do something in the right way, and when thinking on it later, I had to admit that I completely forgot. I quickly tried to think of a way I wouldn’t do that same thing again, especially if I had no recollection, a next time, and cam up with a fitting act of repentance. Good for the mind and the soul.

The next day, I pulled the pork roast out of the oven from cooking overnight, put it in the crock, and tucked it in the fridge. This was to be dinner; I only needed buns. I was to take kids to work at the grocery store later, so I knew I’d have a chance to get them. Later came, and as I went in Stoodts, I walked back to the cheese case, making a mental list of what I needed to make pizza, for dinner, that night. Not until I was home did I realize I already had pork done and planned!

I know we can shoo away each of these blunders, saying, it happens all the time, you’re stressed, you have mommy brain x 13. I get it. But these were different. It was like going to a cupboard and opening the door and that thing not being there. But actually, it is like I didn’t even think to look in the cupboard in the first place. So how would I remember to look for the thing in the cupboard for next time? Me and Mother Hubbard. Think that’s her trouble?

I would love to end this with the above line. That was so clever. I love my mind, and how much it does for me each and every day, day in and day out. God has been so good to me. But if I were to start to lose some ability there, it would be very disturbing. I must remember what is important, though- the thing Grandma Carol never wants our kids to forget- I am loved.

 

 

Getting Caught Up

Saturdays are good right now for giving attention to things I haven’t all week, but for some reason I feel peevish today, and unappreciative of the ‘day off’. Maybe because it isn’t.

This week was busy. Sam has joined a basketball team that practices in Marion. We went round and round about whether we wanted to make this kind of time and distance commitment, again ( see also FCA running in Powell, see also BSF in Columbus). But it is hard to let any of our children down. Not that this was the deciding factor. I think what gave us the go ahead was Sarah becoming a licensed driver this week!!! Now we have four people who can drive him over there. And, Sam picked up his temps this week, too, making it possible for him to get some driving hours with Luke or me. It will still be a long winter, but with some positives.

I was talking to my dad about Christmas- I don’t think we will get toys at all this year. The kids don’t play with what they have as it is. What kind of things could we do instead? Are there any good games, mind building activities, or all around great gifts with longevity you can think of? Let me know.

I got a slow cooker, and slow far, slow good, ha ha ha. My goal is to use it 50 times before I break it in our hard as nails sink. I’ve been really careful when I wash the insert, taking the steps super slow. It is a slow cooker, after all.

On November 11 Luke, Aliyah, Sarah, and I are going to see Les Miserables in Cleveland. Being postpartum for as long as I can, I haven’t yet bought anything dressy. So what would I wear? I don’t really have a style, if truth be known, and I don’t know what looks good on me much. But I was able to find a couple of things at Clothes Mentor last week that look promising.