Monthly Archives: August 2009

Round Infinity?

The spot on my dad’s MRI that was supposed to be nothing is actually cancer. We’re waiting for his oncologist to talk to his neurosurgeon and radiologist so that he can present us with the best treatment options.

I updated my dad’s CaringBridge site yesterday with this news so I don’t really want to go into it all over again here.

I’ll probably be the only member of my family (besides K and the Little Snoodles, of course) at church tomorrow and frankly, I’m dreading it. Not the being at church part. I’m actually looking forward to the praise and worship.  The jagged places inside me need the music to smooth them out a little. Music is like medicine for me.

What I’m dreading is the people. Please understand, I love the people at my church. They are more like family to me than many of the people to whom I’m actually related.  My dad has been one of their pastors for twenty-four years and they love him and they love my family. But my emotions are held loosely together right now by the most fragile of strings.  People with the very best intentions who love my dad will want to talk about this latest news tomorrow and I just can not do it. Talking about it with them will break all my strings. But if they completely ignore me I’ll probably take that personally because I’m hypersensitive right now. Welcome to “Derned if You Do, Derned if You Don’t.”

I know it’s okay to be emotional and I’m putting voice to my feelings in the places I feel safest when the time is right for me.  But for my own sanity and for the well-being of my children, I don’t want to walk around in a big blob of tears and snot tomorrow. And I don’t have the energy to tell the same story over and over again to every person who asks.  I’m not even talking about this in any detail with my very closest friends just now. It’s too new and raw for me to talk about it out loud right now.

I greatly appreciate your prayers for me. Sometimes I feel sorry for the friends I’ve made here at Snoodlings since my dad’s diagnosis. I used to be a lot of fun and hardly ever talked about cancer.  In fact, I had planned to finish up a Family Secret yesterday but after we got back from the doctor, I just didn’t feel very lighthearted. Maybe I should change my name from Whimzie to Whimzie-Not-So-Much. No,  I’m still Whimzie. I’m just a little more thinky these days than I usually am. But please know that I’m okay. I’m hurting, but I know Where to take those hurts. My family will be okay.

This morning I read the latest Stuff Christians Like post. It’s one of my absolute favorite blogs because Jon makes me laugh (a lot) but he often makes me think. Today he talked a little bit about wrestling with God. I’ve talked a little about some of my wrestling matches with God. I feel like I’ve spent the last few months engaged in some kind of weird pay-per-view cage fight with God. But in this particular cage fight one of the fighters has no fighting experience whatsoever except for slapping on her brother in the back seat of their mom’s Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagaon when he crossed over the imaginary line. In fact, she was just minding her own business, reading a little bit of  the Mitford series in bed before she turned out the light to catch some Zs, when she was jerked out of bed  (wearing her pajamas) and thrown into a cage with the Great Almighty, World Champion for Infinity. Yeah, that seems fair.

I hate fighting of all kinds because I hate conflict. I especially loathe fighting sports and my most unfavorite fighting sport of all is wrestling. I think it’s gross. I hate the uniforms. I certainly have no desire to wrestle with God, of all opponents. Like I said in my comment on Jon’s post, “I think in my mind I’d confused wrestling with God with being in conflict with God. I don’t understand something He’s doing in my life so He challenges me to some big UFC match that He knows I can’t win and beats the truth into me. I find it especially distasteful because I’ve always hated the sport of wrestling and God knows that, so to me wrestling with Him seemed doubly cruel.”

But Jon was saying that  a counselor once told him that God loves to wrestle with us “because you can’t wrestle with someone who is far away.”  Jon went on to say, “I think He wants me near to His side, close enough to feel His breath and know His strength. And when I approach to wrestle over an issue with Him, like Jacob wrestling, I don’t think He is angry. I think He is happy, because I am close. Sure, I want to surrender and trust without question, but I no longer see wrestling as instant failure.”

I really needed to read that this morning. When I think about how much wrestling I’ve done over the past few months and realized that He was inviting me to yet another round, I thought offhandedly, “If He draws me any closer, I’ll be completely inside Him.”

Oh.

Wow.

Maybe that’s the point.

If we could just do something about the uniforms.

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Senator Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy died today.

He wasn’t a personal friend of mine. I never met him.

Although I’ve respected his family’s sense of civic responsibility through the years,  I wouldn’t say that I was overly concerned with the Kennedy family’s activities. . We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and I never summered on the Cape, but I can certainly appreciate his devotion to the great commonwealth of Massachusetts. I didn’t always agree with Senator Kennedy on political matters,  but I share the love he had for this country.

Even though I really didn’t know him and never followed his career that closely, I wept at his passing today, because he was a member of the family that all cancer patients and the people who love them belong.  A club of sorts.  Today we lost another soldier in the fight.

His death hits my family particularly hard because Senator Kennedy had the exact same kind of cancer that my dad has. Today we were reminded yet again of the deadly nature of my dad’s disease.  We seem to walk a very thin line between knowing that we serve a sovereign God Who is not afraid of cancer and the knowledge that we are weak, fearful, vessels of dirt who know that not everyone who fights this fight wins…at least not on this earth.

Every morning when I wake up and countless times througout the day, I have to make a conscious decision not to let cancer be the theme of my existence. It is difficult to not let this diagnosis consume me or my family. I daily remind myself that despite my dad’s illness, life goes on. I choose to be an active participant in my own life and in the lives of my family and friends.  We are not this cancer. But on days like today, even the headlines hit too close to home and we have to give pause and voice to the deepest concerns and hurts of our hearts.

I pray this prayer often:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, one moment at a time…

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace…

Taking, as He (Jesus) did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it…

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will…

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

Today I pray for Senator Kennedy’s family…and for all the other families who are fighting their own fights against cancer all over the world on this very day.

Some will hear the word “cancer” in the context of their own lives for the first time today. Some are waiting for test results to see if their cancer is back. Some are watching poison slowly drip into their veins, praying that it will save their lives or at least prolong their time on this earth. Some are lying all alone in a dark room on a cold table  as machines radiate their bodies. Some will stop fighting today and will enter their eternal destinations.  All of us are hoping for a miracle.

Tomorrow my dad has another MRI and we’ll hear the results on Friday. As always, my family covets and greatly appreciates your prayers for us.

Thanks for the kind comments you left on my last post.  Although you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell it just by reading that post and this one today, I’m really not a call away from the Suicide Prevention Hotline, I promise. I’m probably more pensive than usual, but I’m truly okay. I’ve been extremely busy since I was last here and I think immersing myself in the details of day-to-day life has been healthy for me. It helps me to remember that life is so much more than temporary troubles and God means for us to live out all of our days for His glory. I had hoped to come back today with a more lighthearted, upbeat post, but when I heard the news today, I knew I needed to put words to my thoughts and this is the place I often do that.

Before I go, I know that most if not all of you personally know at least one person with cancer or are friends with someone who is dealing with cancer in his or her family. Many of you probably have a family member who has cancer. Will you do me a favor? Will you pray specifically for your friend or family member today? I know there are many of other hurts in this world that have nothing to do with cancer, but just today, I’d like you to ask God to bring to your mind as many people who have this disease so that you can take those people to the throne room of the Almighty with your prayers.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

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Not Fit for Human Consumption

My thoughts today aren’t fit for human consumption.

Yesterday, on two different occasions I laid my soul bare for a couple of safe and trusted friends to see.

I had lunch and a little retail therapy with a treasured friend. We hadn’t had a chance to be “just the two of us” since I moved back home.  I was reminded  that although I’d like to be the one who always has it together and always knows what to say to a friend who needs me, right now I’m the friend in need.

Last night, for the first time since he started his new job, my husband and I had a chance to sit down and talk, just the two of us. I was reminded that before I ever loved him, I really, really liked him and that our friendship is probably what has saved our marriage on more than one occasion.

They listened and I talked.

About hurt feelings and misunderstandings, brokenness and healing, injustice and justice, mercy and forgiveness, despair and hope, feeling abandoned and feeling loved beyond my ability to comprehend. About horrific ugliness and unexplainable beauty. It felt good to be heard.

But today I feel a little raw and tentative.

I would liken my current state  to that feeling of staring blankly into the refrigerator or the pantry looking for something to satisfy a craving that you just can’t name.

I feel like the blackboard has been erased and I have a big empty space that needs words, but I don’t know what to write.

Everything I’ve ever believed about everything has been tested. I’m relieved to say that my faith passed the test, but I don’t completely recognize it anymore. I feel like I’m starting all over again at the very beginning.

So today, I have thoughts but they are part of a private conversation that I’m holding within my heart. I hope you’ll understand.

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Recipes and other Random Ramblings

Several of you wanted to know more about Aunt Sus’s special egg toast recipe. Instead of waiting to call her at dawn’s early light tomorrow morning, I decided to rely on my old standby Google to get the recipe for you. Although I used the name CPQ referred to in the comments when I searched, let’s not call it that name here. In fact, let’s never speak of the Teletubbies here, okay? Or Boobah, for that matter. Frankly, Boobah freaks me all the way out. Anyway, let’s call it Sunny Side Up Egg-cellent Toast or Sunshine Toast for short. You can find the recipe by clicking here.  My kids love it. It cracks them up (get it? CRACKS and it has EGGS? never mind.) that the egg is actually in the middle of the toast. What can I say? We’re easily amused here.

I had planned on making this granola recipe that I found on New Every Morning, but I forgot the coconut! I even stood and looked at the coconut in the grocery store today and pondered buying it but thought, “No, I don’t need coconut.” I hate it when my subconscious mind doesn’t speak loudly enough for me to hear her! So coconut is at the top of my list for next time.

I have several things I wanted to tell you, but to be honest, this back-to-school routine is exhausting. We’ve been on time for school two days in a row now and the pressure to continue that trend is insane.  I’m trying to do as much as I can before I go to bed so that I don’t have to rush around like crazy in the mornings.

I’m eager to get our new routines established. I’ve never been a very scheduled person, but for some reason I’m really craving order and structure right now. I think I’m just sick of living in a state of utter chaos all the time. I need to figure out the best way to keep track of who is supposed to be doing what and where. I’ve heard talk of something called a “calendar.” Maybe that would be useful. For instance one child has PE on Monday but the other two have PE on Fridays. I need to make sure the children who have PE are wearing tennis shoes that day. One child is the leader of her kindergarten class on Wednesday and the other is the leader on Friday. Being leader apparently is an honor for me as well since I get to be responsible for a snack, a book, and a special family picture to share with the class. I don’t have a very good handle on where all the pictures are right this very minute so I may just draw a picture of  our family. Think the little Snoodles will notice?

While I’m off to look for crayons so I can get to work on a quick family portrait, I’ll leave you with a video of a real artist. You’ve probably already seen this. I’m not exactly hip on what all the cool kids are watching these days. I just saw it for the first time yesterday and I think it’s absolutely amazing. Take a look for yourself and then feel free to go on about your day:

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I May Have Misted But I Didn’t Cry…..Much

Guess who made it successfully through the first day of kindergarten and third grade without crying or pitching a fit? The Little Snoodles…and their mama.

This is the part of the post where I would insert our first day of school pictures if I hadn’t left the cord that connects the camera to the computer at my parents’ house.  Instead of describing in vivid detail what everyone looked like, why don’t we do a photo recap of the event as soon as I get the cord, okay? Maybe we’ll even throw in a picture or two of the dropcloth curtains if you’re sweet. Let me just tell you this: Mary Englebreit only wishes she’d seen kids as cute as mine so she could draw them for her calendars. I felt sorry for all the other kids.

As of yesterday, we’ve been on time for every day of school this year. To be fair, I had some extra help motivating the troops to get out of bed the first day. My husband’s boss’s dog spent the night with us Sunday night. I was more than a little nervous about this houseguest. First of all, my husband’s boss is very important.  Not that the rest of us aren’t. It’s just that people don’t usually stand up when I enter the room. Unless they see me coming and decide to leave on my account.

Here’s the other thing. I’m prone to hyperbole and exaggeration. No, really, I am. Sometimes I say things to make a point that sound a little off-the-wall. For example, once upon a time, my husband was selected for a new assignment. I was asked if it was a “done deal” and I said, “Well, unless he runs over his boss’s dog or something, he should get this job.” Have your words ever come back to haunt you? You’d better believe that dog was one well-watched puppy. Remember the first night home from the hospital with your new baby? Did you sit and stare to make sure he/she was breathing? It was kind of like that. Except the baby slept on a stack of carefully folded blankets on the floor by my bed.

But like I said, she came in very handy this morning. She licked the kids’ faces this morning and they bounded out of bed all smiles and giggles. Hmmm…maybe that’s what I’ve been leaving out of my “good morning” routine for the past few years. I made Aunt Sus’s (aka CPQ) egg toast for breakfast….after I called her at 6 a.m. CST to remember how to cook it properly. By the way, Sus, I didn’t write it down, so you may be hearing from me some morning in the near future.  I tucked sweet little notes in each specially packed lunch. Of course, the boys opened their lunch boxes on the way to school and asked, “What didja put this in here for?”  but I know they felt the love. We left the house just shy of my target departure time and made it to school with a few minutes to spare.

Grammy and Dad were able to come with me to the First Day of School chapel. We sang songs and heard a good encouraging word and prayed to dedicate this school year to the glory of God. My eyes got a little full, but no tears spilled over. And then the students lined up by class and walked right into their brand new school year. Would they remember to raise their hands if they needed to ask something? Would they ask for help if they couldn’t get their water bottles detached from their backpacks? Would they find at least one friend at recess? Would this first day of kindergarten and third grade be everything they’d hoped it would be? Sigh. Today was a day of growing up and letting go.

And then I went to Starbucks.

And wandered around town aimlessly.

And realized that maybe I should develop a plan for the days my children are in school.

And discovered that I was just as good at wasting time with no children present as I am when they are with me.

Everyone was all smiles when I picked them up at the end of the day. My youngest son was excited because  a new classmate had a birthday on the first day and brought everyone cookie cake for snack. For a brief minute, I could tell my daughter thought she may have picked the wrong class, but she had plenty of good things to say about her day.

Even though they’re in different classes, my youngest have the exact same homework (big help for mom!). When we got home,  they sat together at the dining room table working on their math worksheets. They laughed and colored and shared more about their day. Watching them work, I thought that maybe being apart a few hours three days a week will make them closer. My idea was confirmed when I was checking over their worksheets.  For one of the exercises, they were asked to draw a picture of their friend. He draw a picture of his sister.  And that’s when I cried.

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If Only This Would Happen at Walmart…

If this  ever happened at my local Walmart I might not mind shopping there as much.

Today’s the first day of school! I’m off to fix a special breakfast, pack some lunches with a special note inside and take some special first day pictures. It should be an especially special day….as long as I don’t cry.

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New Beginnings

I enjoyed our discussion about blogging yesterday. It sounds like we’re all pretty much on the same page. We’d rather send and receive feedback through email instead of going back and forth in the comments. I’m interested in the Disqus system that Emily mentioned. I commented on her blog today using it and it seems fairly straightforward for the commenter. I need to do a little more research on how it works for the blogger.  Maybe Emily can put her teaching skills to good use and tell us more. I’ve also learned that Blogger doesn’t seem to be email friendly. Come on over to the WordPress team, friends! 😉

So what am I talking about today? How about this quotation:

If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.  ~Edgar W. Howe

Well now, I don’t know about that, but I do know that for the first time in almost nine years, I will soon have three days a week that I won’t be with my children or someone else’s children. A friend asked me what I was going to do when my youngest two start three-day kindergarten on Monday and I had no answer. For the first few weeks I have plenty to do around the house, but after that? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with myself! I may be taking inventory at Target on a more frequent basis!

Today we worked on our school supply lists.

Dear Smokey the Bear, I’m so sorry for the trees who gave their lives so that my children could have 4 packs of notebook paper, one composition book, four packs of construction paper, ten packs of pencils,  five boxes of Kleenex, and 4 boxes of wipes.  Maybe we can plant a tree or two in memory. Love, Whimzie

Deforestation aside, I love buying school supplies. I’m not sure if it’s that I enjoy checking things off of lists or if it’s that the unused bottles of glue and unsharpened pencils feel like shiny New Year’s Resolutions that haven’t been broken yet. That whole “fresh start” feeling is intoxicating to me.

Tonight was kindergarten orientation. Ours is a small and fairly new school and my youngest two are the first set of twins in the school’s history. You’d think maybe we could get an extra “novelty discount” or something, but the board didn’t go for that. Originally I thought they should be in the same class and the school supported my right to choose that option. But tonight, as I watched my little girl find her name on the balloons taped outside her new kindergarten room, I realized that something was bothering her.

“Don’t you like your new room?”

“I like the room, it’s just that…” She looked down at her sandals.

“What is it? Whatever you’re thinking, it’s okay. You can tell me.”

“Well,” she said in a quiet voice that I had to bend closer to hear, “I thought it would be fun if  (her brother) and I were in different rooms this time.”

Ever feel twenty feelings at the same time? Right then, I felt like I’d missed a big question on the motherhood test. I shouldn’t have insisted that they be in the same room. What was I thinking?

But right then I also knew exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking about her brother. He’s not as sure of himself as she is. Although she doesn’t speak for him and in preschool you never found them in the same centers or at the same snack table, her presence in the room islike a safety net for him. He’s going through a fearful stage right now. He never wants to be more than a few feet away from another person, and she’s always been there for him….from even before they were born.  I thought having her in the same class would make the school transition easier for him.

But she’s ready to spread her wings and get a little bit of distance. This move she begged for her own room. Her dad and I decided that it was probably a good time to let her have her own space. I know that it’s not that she loves her brother any less. At random times throughout the day it isn’t uncommon to see them holding hands or laughing together.  I understand her need for places and people that belong just to her. He needs to find his own way, too. I just can’t help but ache a little for him.

She and I went to her teacher and she told Mrs. D how she was feeling. Mrs. D said that moving her to the other kindergarten room would actually help even out their numbers. We walked across the hall  and met her newer new teacher and she showed my little girl where she would sit.

I’m probably making it a bigger deal than it really is. I bet that before the second hour of the first day he won’t even notice she’s not there. Maybe the bigger deal is mine. I’ll know she’s not there. It feels like we’ve turned a little corner. The times they are a-changin’.

So Monday it begins…We’re all going to have to figure out what in the world to do with ourselves.

I know we’ll start by taking our obligatory “first day of school pictures” by the front door. I noticed that my college friend Sara takes a first and last day of school picture and on the first day picture the kids indicate by a show of fingers what grade they’re beginning. I think we’ll try that this year, but how many fingers do you hold up for kindergarten?

I want to know if you have any “first day of school” traditions. Do you eat a special breakfast? Do something special after school? Or did your family do something fun for the first day of school when you were little? Discuss.

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