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Choices

The other night when I left work after a long night, I caught myself grumbling as I crawled down into the 1994 Dodge Colt I drive, while my hubby has our 2009 Toyota for his considerable commute.

I think it went something along the lines of, “because with everything I’m trying to deal with in life, all I deserve is this crappy car.”

I stopped myself RIGHT THERE.

THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT OWE ME A CAR OF ANY KIND.

I reminded myself, once again, that it’s the CHOICES that I have made in my life, and continue to make, that have me driving the car I drive, which is, in fact, my father’s car in the first place.

I thought back to the excellent sermon Pastor Steve preached on Sunday about the myths that even believers tend to want to cling to.

If you haven’t heard that sermon, you should, and can hear it here: http://www.gracegladstone.com/images/sermons/8-7-2011.mp3

One of the myths was, “If you love me, you will carry my load.”  The truth is, we all make choices in life and are responsible for dealing with the fallout of those choices ourselves.

Even me.

I know I had challenges back in my college days, but I could have finished.

I could have graduated.

I could have a better job now.

If I did, we may still live in the Twin Cities. Who knows?

I didn’t have to marry the first man who showed a long-term interest in me, but fear and anger were part of that decision. (Not trying to be offensive here, but it’s the truth.)

At any point along the line here, including now, I could have pursued more education.

I have not.

The list of choices I’ve made that have led to this place is endless.

Not that everything about this place is bad. Much of it is very good.

Relative stability for the children, for instance.

A home of our own again.

Seizure freedom.

But I think of that sermon and my own path and then think of my son Eric.

You’re making serious, foundational choices, dude…..

Like I told you this afternoon,

“Be careful out there, ok?”

I won’t be able to save you from your own choices.

A Memorable Dream….

Have you ever wished there was a way to videotape dreams?

I wish I could have a videotape of this one, because it was so real and even though it happened a couple weeks ago, I remember it like I just woke up. It’s kind of a bizarre story, but it has a point, so here goes….

I was like 20 years old, and a friend and I decided that we were leaving home and moving to “the coast.”
We picked up and moved to California like crazy people.

We found jobs as waitresses or checkout girls or whatever and a 1-bedroom apartment.

It was sunny and warm and we were having a good time.

UNTIL my friend found a boyfriend. Her boyfriend creeped me out.

Do you really have to bring him back here?

Leaving signals on the door, all that.

ugh.

Time went on and her boyfriend got creepier. She told me she was going to break it off.

Then one afternoon, I came home to find our apt door wide open.

She was sitting on the floor, just inside the door, back against the wall, holding a rope tied to the ceiling in the kitchen (next room on your left as you enter).

ummm……what are you doing?

I told him that it was over, that I wanted to see other guys, and he seemed ok with it. He asked if he could make lunch for me one last time.

ok….

Then he said he had a surprise for me and wanted to blindfold me so he could show me, so he did & had me sit here & wait.

go on….

Well, he gave me this rope….he said that if he can’t have me no one else can. He’s coming back to check on me in a few hours to see if I’ve changed my mind. He said that if I let go of the rope, the apartment will explode. I’ve been holding it for like 4 hours now, but I’d really like to go to the bathroom……will you hold it for a while?

(Looking at the rope, I could see it went into the kitchen to some kind of gizmo…..who knew but that it would explode if it was disturbed? Well, this girl was going to explode if she didn’t get to a bathroom, so first things first.)

Ok…..gently now….hand me the rope, then you run to the bathroom & we’ll figure this out.

Ever so gently she handed me the rope, then she ran & came back.

By then, I had come up with a plan to tie the rope to something to stabalize it so that we could both escape. We had a REALLY heavy lamp nearby.

Grab that lamp for me and bring it over here. CAREFULLY.

She did.

Now you hold the rope a couple feet higher than the lamp and I’ll use the extra rope to tie it to the lamp. Ready?

I started tying……just as I did, we heard a CLICK from the kitchen.

My heart jumped.

In a second there was a HUGE fireball in the kitchen that was obviously going to head our way….

The mind reacts SO QUICKLY….

First reaction…..OH NO!!! WE BLEW IT!!!

A microsecond later…….WOW……THAT’S RIGHT!!! IT’S OK!!! HEAVEN!!!!!! THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR MAKING THIS OK!!!!!!!

I actually, literally had time to experience peace (and joy even) between seeing that fireball and dying. It was awesome. And I’m so grateful.

Then, of course, I woke up in my bed. But smiling.

This kind of relationship, this kind of peace should affect our everyday lives….how does it affect mine?

He asked me at breakfast this morning if I was praying for him. Well, of course, I’m praying for him. How could I not be?This met with approval.  Upon inquiry he tells me that the details he will glean from tomorrow’s doctor appointment will help him find the words to tell the extended family, the church, and the rest of the world. It’s not that he lacks the words to share the horrendous news he’s already shared with his very closest family members.  He just used normal, everyday words to handle that one evening, two weeks ago….a night I’ll never be able to chase from my memory.  He wants these doctor-provided details so that he can then provide the world-at-large, though not all at once, mind you, with a very precisely worded PRAYER ASSIGNMENT.  You see, everyone praying needs to be praying IN AGREEMENT. We need to be praying the same thing. We can’t have some people praying for complete healing while others are off willy-nilly praying for “comfort as he dies.”  Or at least that’s his theory.  My theory says that it’s better to pray NOW and that the Lord of the universe is very capable of translating the weak, imperfect, but heart-felt prayers of his people into what they should be & doing powerful things with them, but I know little, and it is not my story to live or to tell, so I respect his wishes, and we go with his theory rather than mine.

These men talk of praying “violently” in agreement that he be healed completely of his “generally terminal” cancer to the glory of God, fully BELIEVING that he will be healed. Of course I would love nothing more, and I do pray for his healing.

HOWEVER, I also have another perspective. Because of our family history of heart disease, including his, I’ve always expected him to die of a heart attack, or maybe a car accident. One day I’d get that horrible phone call, you know? At the funeral, I picture myself wishing for one more day….. for some chance to go back, for a little more time to say what I wanted to say, to take more photos, to get some hugs, to say good-bye. Now here I am today, instead.  I’ve been given maybe a six month warning, maybe three months, maybe a year…some indeterminate amount of time…to do all those things that I would have wished for at that funeral.

As I see it, I have two choices. While I’m praying, I can believe, Believe, BELIEVE that he’s going to be healed and then be utterly devastated when he dies next summer and stand there at that funeral WISHING I had done all those things while he was alive….still somewhat healthy even….OR, I can continue on praying, pleading with God as I have been, but beginning to say good-bye now. I want to love him as much as I can in the next six months, absorb as much as I can in that time, with an eye to it slowly fading to what is likely to be a really terrible end.

If I am then pleasantly surprised by his healing, wouldn’t that be a wonderful ending to the story?  I’d tell everyone about the wonders our God had performed for us.

If He chooses not to heal him, though, it’s not that He doesn’t perform wonders, but that we live in a fallen world, and that this is his time to go. Since my brain surgery, I feel things in a HUGE way, and this is going to be excruciating, but I’m choosing to take advantage of this advanced warning I didn’t expect to have. I’m going to take this next several months to say a really LONG, LOVE-FILLED GOOD-BYE to my beloved father.

Regardless of the outcome.

<3 you, Dad.

Saturday was the Visitation for a beautiful 19-year-old woman named Jeannee’ who had taken her own life a few days before.

There’s a link to Jeannee’s obituary on the right there.  —>>>

We stood in line with probably 100 other people walking through a crowded funeral home in an effort to reach her family, standing in a receiving line of sorts near Jeanne’s closed casket.  As the line crept slowly forward, I tried to imagine what I might possibly say to Jeanne’s mother Jodi, a former high school classmate, now co-worker of mine. Beautiful lady.  Lost first child.  Wow. Speechless.  Jeannee’ was 6 months older than my oldest daughter.  I desperately wanted to SAY something, yet there are no words….

When I reached Jodi, I paused and was silent a moment.  What came out was,  “Jodi…I’m not going to say anything. There’s nothing to say.”  (I’ve also emailed her my phone number and standard and very sincere offers of “WHATEVER” you need/whatever I can do to help, please call me.)  She reached to hug me and thanked me for coming and moved on to her next guest. I hugged the rest of the receiving line and turned to leave.  When I reached the exit, I recognized what I believed to be Jeanne’s older sister Kristi, standing with some friends….kids that I know from their acquaintance with my daughter. Stopping to chat with them,  I asked her, “Are you Kristi?” She said she was and that she remembered me…..I was that lady who worked at WalMart and sang to her mom a couple weeks ago. I’d forgotten about that!  Couple weeks ago, I’d taken my girls to a Chinese buffet for lunch one Sunday afternoon, andd Jodi was there with her family. The hostess sat my substantial family next to hers. When I greeted Jodi, one of her kids mentioned that it was her birthday. I said, “Well, surely we should SING, then! C’mon over girls!” My girls came over and we all sang a boisterous round of  “Happy Birthday” to Jodi.  Little did I know this small gesture would give me an opening to speak to one of the kids during an awful time weeks later.  (One of those “you never know where you’re going to be in two weeks” moments, isn’t it?)

So I asked Kristi if I could hug her. She reached. I hugged, well, actually, I just HELD. I told her, “I really wish I could just hold you for like months and somehow protect you, but I guess that’s not possible.”  I talked to her about the importance of talking to the people who love her, and never feel like she’s “bothering” people and the great importance of drinking WATER through this time. Eating’s important, too, yeah….but water is even MORE important, and easily neglected. I charged her fiance with keeping her hydrated.

THEN I left, went home, went to work…..tried to think about other things. Have had little success in the “thinking about other things” department.

This horrible event has re-ignited something in me. I’ve always had a heart for teenagers, but people, we need to talk about suicide. It’s not a nice topic, not an easy topic, but I need to talk with people about suicide. Teens, parents, everyone. Because I’m passionate about it…….because talking is right, and for my own reasons. Because I REMEMBER……

Let’s talk some more tomorrow, shall we?  Let’s make a plan.

Start with Mind Games?

OK. Apparently, I’m *finally* ready to start sharing random thoughts and stories that will require more than

140 characters.

My STRONG perfectionist tendencies would rather wait until I have a more cutesy website established, but if I give in to those tendencies and wait, I will simply continue to fill my own hard drive with my written drivel, eventually just losing track of stuff. I often wonder if ANYONE out there is as unorganized with this stuff as I am.

Well, c’est la vie; here’s a story for tonight!

The players, Eric, 16, Alex, 9, Valerie, 19……also to be acknowledged, but not seen here, Madelyn, 11, Acacia, 13, and Janet, 8.

This morning, I managaed to get up just after 6am, punched in at WalMart at 7am. Don’t know if it was the warm temperatures today or what, but you would have thought it was a SATURDAY for the madness and the lines……LOTS of folks came to see us. Per usual, I did my best to fly as fast as I could ALL day long at the first grocery register, #5.

Three o’clock rolls around, punch out, time to go home? NO, time to figure out what to feed the children for early Wednesday evening dinner, then go BUY what is necessary for that dinner. Grab a cart and head back in. Shop, self-check, pay, head to the car….it’s raining; it’s a long way to that car. Lovely.

When I get home, Alex helps me bring in bags. Thank you, Alex!

Having a fairly nice dinner planned, I approach the kitchen to find this: 


Dishes

Now it’s not a HUGE pile of dishes, but enough. All the decent frying pans are dirty, for instance. Who had dishes last night? I check the chore chart…….Eric. Even though I’d really rather be NAPPING right now, I really need to get this dinner underway NOW–it has to bake for 30 minutes or so and really needs to be done by 5-5:15 in order for this Wednesday evening to go smoothly. I need Eric out here to clear this WHILE I start dinner.

I walk to the living room where Eric is playing Wii with the girls surrounding. I mention to him that he had dish duty last night and that they didn’t get DONE last night….I need them done now so that I can get dinner going.

He kept playing.

I explained that I was serious, that I really needed him to do the dishes so that I could make dinner.

“Maybe after I get a 2 hour nap.”

“Aren’t you LEAVING in 2 hours?” was Alex’s reaction, picturing him leaving for Wednesday night church.

“Eric, they need to get done now. Really.”

I walked away. Eventually, Eric walked up to his room and stayed there long enough for me to believe he was not going to heed my request. I decided not to make dinner and stopped by the Verizon website to restrict his phone for the evening. If these kids don’t want to do their chores, I don’t want to cook, either. There’s plenty of peanut butter and jelly available for everyone. By the time I left to pick up Jay, Eric and Alex were making some version of “dinner.”

Now tonight Eric approaches me utterly shocked that his phone is restricted. I tell him that one day he’ll figure out how to live at peace with me.

“How can I? NO ONE ELSE has a mom like you! Restricting their phone 24/7!”

“That’s really too bad, isn’t it?”

Now, he says he’s SURE not doing those dishes. He didn’t, either. Valerie ended up doing them.

Now what? Really. Where DID I put my Creative Mommy Thinking Cap? Will have to sleep on this one.

Mind games with a teenage boy. Fun times.

What would YOU do?

Before you say GROUND him, understand that he WOULD leave anyway, or simply not come home from school. I try to come up with “corrections” that are not easily defied, leaving me looking powerless.

He will be all grown up one day……I’m “fairly” confident.

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