Well, Andy’s dad is coming home on Saturday from the rehab facility.  Now the fun begins.  He got around the apartment okay with his walker; only a few minor furniture placements need to be addressed. 

It wasn’t until yesterday that it really hit me how much this whole situation affects my children.  They are struggling to be normal kids in this world with all the activities and friends and stuff that goes with that.  They deserve to have fun and don’t worry about the grown ups in their life…only that’s not what’s happening.  I spent the long weekend at home with all three of them and still can’t get over how irritable they are.  Erin wants to sleep all the time and needs to be prodded to go to her friend’s house.  Colin won’t let go of my leg when I’m here and Liam wants out.  None of that is good and none of that is the way it used to be.  They have two working parents who also have the responsibility of taking care of their aging grandparents.

While I was supposed to be home yesterday with my kids I spent the morning (two hours of it) helping to balance the checkbook next door.  Unplanned, unannounced and without thought to how it would affect others.  It just happened that way and so when my kids looked at me and said “I thought you were going to be HERE today” I nearly cried.  They miss their mom and dad cause when we are here; we aren’t here.

Something’s gotta give. I just don’t know what.  And, it’s gotta give soon. 


Trial Run

     Four and a half years ago, Andy and I made a decision that has greatly affected our lives in ways we weren’t prepared for. We bought a property with an in-law quarters so that his parents could move in. At the time, the decision was made because his mother was having some mobility issues. That has resolved. But, in the meantime, his dad’s Parkinson’s Disease has taken hold and crippled him and is beginning to suffocate those around him.

Over a month ago, Andy’s dad was admitted to the hospital with severe dehydration. He had been sick for weeks and neither he nor his wife were taking care of it.  They are fiercely independent and wouldn’t seek medical care for what they thought was a minor illness. He became sicker while hospitalized and then transferred to a skilled care facility for rehabilitation.  The goal of rehab is to get him home again. 

During his absence, we have begun to learn more and more about Andy’s parents.  The facade they have constructed during 60 years of marriage is crumbling and the picture isn’t so pretty anymore. So much energy has been spent on doing the “right” things in public and being the “right” person and not enough energy spent on developing relationships or being at all real.  There seems to be no one around them except us.  Even their church has no idea what their real struggles are and there are no friends in the congregation at all.  The pastor shows up on occasion to visit at the nursing home, but that’s it.

Today the therapist from the nursing home is coming here to see the apartment.  Andy’s dad will be here too to try and show her how well he can care for himself at home. Hopefully it involves a walker and a wheelchair. It’s his trial run. I’m sure he’ll put on a great show; I’m not sure she’ll get the real picture.

We’re frustrated and irritated and sometimes angry.  We’re sad and confused and often stressed out. We are at a loss for what to do; what would truly be the best thing to do.  We know they need more physical on-site care.  We also know they won’t allow that yet from anyone outside.  So, that leaves us to either drop everything and be here or just go about our lives and watch them struggle with their day because they’re too proud or independent to ask for help. Much of his physical care falls on Andy’s mom.  She can’t handle it.  She doesn’t want to handle it and she’s made that very clear to her kids but she won’t tell her husband that. So, instead, she does whatever he wants at her own risk. 

I struggle with being home for them more. It wouldn’t hurt my kids either if I was here more than at work.  But, we’d be financially incapable of maintaining our property or anything else.  So, that’s not a choice.  Andy has even considered quitting his job to be here; that’s not a viable option either.

So…we’ll see how today’s trial goes. Then we’ll know more about what will happen in the near future.  The only thing for sure is that it just won’t be easy. For anyone.

RePost on Mary, Mother of Christ

The following post was originally written in April. I am reposting it here again as a result of our Sunday School class discussion regarding the birth of Christ and how people were told he was coming. This morning we talked about Simeon with Mary and Joseph at the temple during Mary’s purification sacrifice.

When I originally posted these thoughts I got a few comments. I’d like to hear more of what people have to say. I think Mary is an understudied and underappreciated woman in the scriptures in my own church experience. Traditionally, our children are taught very little about her. It’s fun to delve a little further into what must have been an amazing life.

 Mary, Mother of Christ Resurrected.

 I am amazingly drawn to the life of Mary, mother of Christ. Popular culture paints her as a young woman to whom nothing extraordinary happened. She was young, naive and simple…until the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Until then, we imagine, she had lived a quiet life in Nazareth, doing the things all other girls did. No mention of her immediate family, parents or siblings. But, when this angel showed up, she doesn’t seem afraid of him. Luke describes her as “troubled” and although Gabriel asked her not to “be afraid”, Luke seems to imply that she simply wondered what was up with this?! Luke 1:29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

According to the Nativity Gospel of Mary, extraordinary circumstances surrounded this young woman’s life long before this angelic visit and long before she herself was conceived.  Her father, Joachim, was greatly troubled at his barrenness. The high priest at that time belittled him saying he was unworthy of presenting his gifts before God because God had not seen fit to bless him with offspring. Joachim wandered into the pastures of the shepherds to hide himself in his sorrow. While he was there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that he would indeed have a child. God had seen fit to “open the womb” of his wife, not to just give them children, but to bring glory to Himself. Sound familiar? This angel then appeared to Anna, his wife, and told her that she would bear a child, name her Mary and that this child would find favor with God. She would be a special child in the temple of the Lord.

According to this writing, Joseph was also called divinely to be the “root of Jesse” through which our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.  It seems that both Mary and Joseph were somewhat accustomed to divine intervention.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he filled her “chamber” with “great light.”  [Chap 9, vs. 3] “And the virgin, who was already well acquainted with angelic faces, and was not unused to the light from heaven, was neither terrified by the vision of the angel, nor astonished at the greatness of the light, but only perplexed by his words; and she began to consider of what nature a salutation so unusual could be, or what it could portend, or what end it could have. “

It seems to me that God would be mighty picky about the vessel in which his son would be nurtured. If God was to take the form of man and be born of a woman, a virgin, He would likely have groomed her from the moment she was conceived. I imagine Mary must have become quite used to angels checking in on her now and then, and, dare I say…she may have conversed on a more intimate level with YHWH who would ultimately become her son? It seems so fantastic and supernatural…yet she accepts it with such grace as though she always knew it would happen this way.

Christ loved his mother like no other person on earth…as I hope my children love me. As he hung crucified, he beseeched John to love her and asked her to take John as her son. Watching out for both of them as he left them behind. Unbearable heartache enjoined with unending love as the skies opened and God himself took on the pain and sin of the world in complete and utter surrender to love…while this woman who loved Him in all imaginable ways looked on. Her heart must have been bursting and breaking and flying high to be entwined with the unimaginable healing power of grace.

The Nativity Gospel of Mary as a historical account of events was likely handed down orally from generation to generation…much like our own family histories today. It does nothing to diminish the deity of Christ, rather delves into the history of his mother and I read it as a love note on her behalf.  Frederica Matthewes-Green has this wonderful essay on Mary that discusses writings pertaining to the Virgin Mary.  Many of us are afraid of her…we don’t want to fall too deeply into what some fear would be a worship of Mary on par with a worship of Christ…but I think it’s worth looking at this woman as a integral part of the life of Jesus Christ on a deeper level than just that of the birth mother.  Did she live her life waiting for her son to give of his? How much did she know or understand? I wonder, too, how much time Jesus spent with his mother after his resurrection…how could he stay away; how could she?

An amazing woman, to be sure…and one that I am desperately anxious to meet some day.

Easter/Christmas…What On Earth??

I am reposting this since I feel it’s important.  I had surgery right before Christmas 2006, thus the lazy mommy references.

It might be a little late, but Easter’s coming. It’s a blog post from last Christmas (2006). I think that Christmas ought to be a year round kinda thing, so here ya go.  The decorations are down (or they oughta be) and now we’re wondering what the hell the commotion is all about. The swags are pretty and the tree is laden, but why?

And…by the way…I sold my copy of “Jotham’s Journey” on eBay in December for over $65.  Doesn’t that illustrate how much we love “feel good” stuff???

Christmas is only about three days away now. My kids are really antsy, anticipating the fun of Christmas morning and opening presents. They were well prepared ahead of time that this year we would be doing things a little differently now that Mommy will be lying on the couch, recliner or in bed most of the time. But, they still are so excited that it’s almost making them irritable.

We each year want so badly for Christmas celebrations to focus on the joyous birth of Christ and the coming of salvation through Him. We find we must remind ourselves that the holiday is about the virigin birth and not about gifts and eating cookies. As Christians we act almost pious when we say that we are “focusing more on the true meaning of Christmas” instead of the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But there is absolutely no way, short of going to live in a yurt in Mongolia for a month, that we can separate the secular traditions of winter holidays around the world with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Do you think that God REALLY cares? Do you think that when Christ was born quietly and humbly in a stable with only a few very smart men and lucky shepherds at his side…do you think God was hoping that someday someone would decide we should have this big party and ceremony to celebrate this quiet birth? Do you think he intended for it to be a big deal? I don’t. I don’t think He intended for ceremony to get in the way of what it’s all about. And now, there is no great distinction between the Santa Claus version of Christmas (which is also based on some facts) and the Bible version of Christmas (which is also based in facts.)
However, I sometimes think that God is exceedingly happy that we use Christ’s birth as an excuse for getting together with friends and family. As an excuse for exchanging gifts, putting aside differences, for eating a great big fat meal together. As an excuse to decorate our homes for winter and bring cheer to the bleak winter landscape with our holly and ivy! I don’t think he cares too much that we go overboard on spending for our children (if we can) and spoil each other a little. I don’t think he’s keeping track. After all….Jesus Christ was born to bring LOVE back into the world. If he can do that by giving two “non believers” a reason to go to a party and exchange gifts with each other, then GREAT! If he brought LOVE back by reconciling a daughter with her family over turkey dinner, then, that’s what he wanted to do, right? If a kiss under the mistletoe is what makes my heart full of love for once, then Jesus came for that, didn’t he? I personally think St. Nicholas was a really awesome guy! He had the right idea. He loved people.

I want my children to celebrate the birth of Christ right along with me. But, I don’t want to exhaust myself trying to explain what advent is or make myself feel guilt over having a really fun time with the holiday either. I love shopping, baking cookies and wrapping presents. I love bringing greens inside and decorating a tree with silly little sentimental trinkets. I love mistletoe and egg nog and sleigh rides and jingle bells. And I am pretty sure that Christ doesn’t care that I like all that stuff. I think he’s having fun trying to keep up with my swirling thoughts. I think we should have this great winter holiday and call it just that. A “winter holiday” and keep it as wild and crazy and flamboyant as possible.

Then, I think we should solemnly and quietly celebrate the birth of Christ. We should have candlelight services with carols and scripture and prophesy read. We should shout “hallelujah” just as I am sure the angels did. Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth. Then, bring ourselves as gifts to the altar before the Christ. We should talk about nothing else but the birth of Christ around our dinner tables and read the scripture stories over and over to our children for a week. The one from the Bible, not Jotham’s Journey or the story as viewed by the mouse under the hay. Teaching them, and teaching eachother, how great LOVE entered the world that day. How from that humble cry, that nursing baby, came light and hope and love everlasting. That without that baby boy, we would have no reason to live. Pour out our hearts to our kids about the love we know and how we have come to know it. No fluff, no fuss, no gifts, no trees, just celebration in it’s rawest form. Then we should be done and begin to look towards Easter with anticipation.

And I think we should do that in March or some other equally quiet month when no other holidays clutter the calendar! Then, and only then, might it really mean what it should.

It’s A New Year

Two people told me tonight that I should post more. So…here goes. Unfortunately, much less than half of the people that read this blog actually comment. That’s because they know me and they’re afraid to offend.  Let me make this one thing very clear. I do not write to impress or fluff anything up. Offend away. I write to engage others in an idea, an argument or discussion or simply to entertain. Ocassionally I’ll swing at someone and I might say bad words. That’s who I am.  I’m pretty real most of the time.

 I gave up on the discussion of women in leadership. It’s too complicated, and frankly I don’t really care. That’s my final answer. I’m ready to take on anything God throws in my path and if leadership is in there somewhere, fine. I’m a woman. Deal with it.

It’s a new year and I have a few errands I have not attended to. They are all selfish; no one else is involved. (At least not immediately). I spent the month of December caring for my husband’s parents in a way I’d rather not have done…and so all the thoughts for the new year hinge simply on things I want to do for me. I’ve made a list. Others might appear in it, but it’s simply for my enjoyment, benefit, warm fuzzy feeling or financial gain.

  • Read one book a month pertaining to business and making money. That’s what I do for a living.
  • Read one novel a month pertaining to nothing but great reading.  (I do speed read, so both should be do-able.)
  • Spend Saturday nights eating Pizza at Parma’s with my husband and kids.
  • Pay all my bills either before or on the due date.
  • Walk for 30 minutes with my son on Saturday mornings. He actually wants me to sign a contract agreeing to this.
  • Try a cosmo or a martini.
  • Get a tatoo. (I’m considering a big X on my lower back where I had surgery.)
  • Teach my 3 year old to read since he’s already learning on his own.
  • Buy a cool car. (I am hoping for a white soft-top Mustang).
  • Make my daughter feel safe, secure, wanted, loved and beautiful. Forever.
  • Make love to my husband on a regular basis. Or at least…hold his hand.
  • Finish my novel.
  • Finish my other book.
  • Read the Bible cover to cover and not necessarily in order but rather in whatever order is more chronological.
  • Get published again. (2007 was the first year in the past 6 that I wasn’t paid to write something.)
  • Get another dog.
  • Find a really great, wonderful and permanent best friend who is a girl.
  • Have a birthday party for each of my kids involving friends, balloons and games.
  • Remember to send cards to people in our families.
  • Go on a week long anniversary (15 years) trip somewhere that my spouse surprises me with!
  • Earn more money than last year.
  • Give away more money than last year.
  • Get a pedicure and a massage. (Never done either!)

Outside of that list…I’ve really got no plans!