Friday, December 28, 2007

Life Goes On....

Christmas was wonderful! It was so good to be with family. My flight back from San Antonio came in just in time for me to drive up to my mom's for dinner. What a different atmosphere I sat in than what I had left behind just a few hours earlier. Ladies swapped recipes at the table, cousins sat around the karaoke machine, and children played with the four dogs that vied for attention. I simply sat in the corner and soaked it all in.

My husband surprised me with the navigator device that I had been hoping for. I was thinking I could get it after Christmas, but he surprised me with it all wrapped up in a bow. Wonderful! That will make my volunteer times so much easier.

Side note...I had a wonderful conversation with an elderly gentleman on the last part of my flight home. He too was flying from San Anantonio. He said that he was relocating to our part of the world so that he could live with his daughter and her family. Being on a fixed income was difficult and he wanted to use this time to make wonderful memories with his grandchildren. With excitement in his voice, he asked me question after question about the area...sight seeing to economy, mass transportation to housing development and fly fishing. He viewed the whole idea as a wonderful adventure. His thrill and excitement was infectious to me.

For a small moment I found myself wondering.....what will my father do when things settle down? ...............
Nah, the climate change alone would be too hard for his arthritic knees.

Well, we are off on a new excursion now. We will be spending New Years at the beach with friends. It is a new way of celebrating for me. I have always been around that family table...swapping those recipes with aunts and cousins.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Heart Journey....

Our flights were uneventful. LAX was super crowded and unorganized. (The most horrid thing I heard on the intercom was a ticket counter agent saying, "If you are in need of wheelchair assistance please come up to the counter.") My brother and I used our time making each other laugh. We also talked a lot about ways we could help the family in San Antonio while dealing with our own emotions at the same time.
Dad was waiting for us as we walked to the baggage claim area. We walked right up to him before he realized we were there. He had been zoning. Understandable considering he had just lost his wife of 23 years to long term cancer. He hugged us and cried.
All the way to the house, he talked as he drove.....about the final days. It was as if he had to get it out, sort it all out...for our sake and for his. Dad had never been much of a talker around me so I just let him talk...for my sake and for his.

Family in and out. Hugs and tears. We all agree that it is good to see each other but are so sad for the circumstances.
We all became siblings as teenagers, his two to her three, when our parents married in 1985. My brother actually lived with them for a while but I only visited in the summer. We care about each other and have a few memories together, but really lead completely separate lives. Maybe it is just me, but at times I feel so alienated.
All the same, I am determined to be strength for my father.
The viewing was long....I felt at first that 4 hours would be too long. But as I watched people thru the evening I saw that they all needed that time. They needed the time to find the acceptance for closure with a woman that touched so many lives.
Over and over I saw young people embrace my father and call him "Grandpa". And as I have seen for years, my step-siblings lean on my father for support and give him all credit for being the only male figure in their lives that shaped and changed their lives for the good.
I find myself swimming in 2 thoughts simultaneously. I mourn that our relationship and that of my children looks nothing like theirs, but at the same time I feel pride in seeing how amazing and compassionately he has affected so many people.

Today was the funeral. Again and again I am told how grateful people are that my brother and I are here for our father. They tell us how happy it makes him. I find myself bracing with even more determination to be a quiet strength for my stay by his side so that in some way I can will comfort and peace into him.
It didn't work out that way though, at least not the way I had envisioned. My step-brother came over and asked my father to sit with them, her children, in the front row. That was a direction that I hadn't prepared for....not being able to be by his side. Intellectually, logically, compassionately...I knew that he had every right and reason to be there with them. He belonged there as the father figure and husband. He needed to be with the people that had walked through the whole long cancer battle with him...the people that would still be in his day to day life to pick up the pieces after I am not around.
But the little girl in me recoiled from the heart slap. I felt the rejection all over again. I wanted to cry out that it wasn't fair to be robbed of that too.
As I sat there listening to the chaplain, God was reminding me of the other times that I have been able to share with my father. HE reminded me of the amazing father figure I have in my mother's husband. Most importantly, HE reminded me that HE, My God, is my forever father that always understands the condition of my heart and never gets stretched thin in His love.
I got up and shared a memory of my father's wife. There were things I couldn't say and things I should have said but couldn't think of while standing there in front of everyone. But I did share about a conversation we had a couple of years ago that God orchestrated to assure me of her eternal peace.
After the service, my father introduced me to several people. Each time, I heard the pride in his voice and saw the gleam in his eyes that showed the devotion that he can never find the words for.
Now that the funeral is finished, tomorrow people will start the long task of rebuilding their lives. My brother and I will be looking for ways to help in the remaining two days that we have here.

We sat around for a leisurely breakfast while talking and reminiscing. It was time for people to start heading back into their daily lives today. There was unspoken hesitation all around in not wanting to leave the safety umbrella where hearts and emotions had stopped the reality of time. From here on out, reality would create new memories, memories that don't include her. At times, that is too painful to grasp.
My father has been using today to gather up memorabilia that he has had marked for me for years...things that he just never got around to giving to me. One item is a cookbook that was created by my precious grandmother and her 3 sisters. In the inside cover, these ladies had written personal dedications to me when I was but barely a year old (December 1971). It touched me so greatly and oh how I cried.
My brother and I found various things to do around the house today that we hope will bless our father.
We spent the later evening with him eating pie, watching a movie, and joking around. It was good to just sit, with no agenda, and be ourselves.

Again family hung around for a majority of the day today. Maybe they were around because of my brother and I, maybe they were there for my father, or maybe both. It doesn't matter the reason. It is all part of moving on.
My step-sister's dog died today. She wanted him to be buried in my father's back yard with the other loved animals. My brother graciously took on the burial task so that our father would not have the burden.
A cousin took us out to dinner this evening. She too said how wonderful it was for us to be here for our father and how things can only get better from here.
Dealing with the death of a loved one always makes people evaluate and adjust their priorities.

We will be flying out shortly for home. I find that there are so many things that have been left unsaid, but now is not the time. It was so hard to say goodbye to my father.
When will I see him again?
Does he truly understand what it took for me to make this trip in my heart?
Or is it even important for him to understand?

What matters is that I did make the trip......and I am glad that I did.
From here on out, it is all brand new.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Late At Night...

I am starting to get sleepy now. Everyone is sleeping, the laundry is finished, and I think I am all packed. Now I am sitting here with a bit more detail coming together in my mind and I feel overwhelmed at the amazing way things have transpired.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 37 years old. It is just a number to me. It is fun to have celebrations, no matter what the focus is. I just always love being able to share it all with my mom. I don't expect gifts...not that I am a perfect unselfish person....having a December birthday usually means that one's birthday gets lost in the Christmas festivities. Anyone that has a mid to late December birthday can testify that they receive birthday boxes wrapped in holiday Santa wrap or a Christmas box that is labeled "also birthday". Truly it is okay and funny. It is a great and humbling way to keep pride in tact. (giggle giggle)

Usually I can predict what is going to happen in the "surprise" catagory of my birthday. Yesterday was differnt though and so amazing. Spending the evening with my mom was too perfect already and I would have been blessedly content. However, when I came home, more was waiting for me.
Without my knowing, several people from my church had taken up a collection and blessed me with a new dishwasher. The one that came with my house had been broken and un-fixable for the past 3 years. (Now, washing dishes by hand is not a big deal. I promise I didn't complain.) Their goal was to collect enough funding to purchase and install a basic model while I was out for the evening and unaware. But oh how God worked. Such a collection was taken up that they purchased a deluxe model and still had a sizable amount of money left over. They all signed a beautiful card and placed the money inside with the statement that I could do whatever I saw fit with what was left.

I was so shocked and overwhelmed.....still am shocked and overwhelmed. I am sitting here thinking about how much I have wanted to be with my dad during this time and how perfectly God provided the means for me to get there. I know I mentioned something in the previous posting, but waves of comprehension are washing over me. The left over money was only $20 shy of a complete round trip ticket for me. It blows my mind.

A Few Seconds.....

I am just grabbing a few seconds and making a mental note here. I haven't had opportunity to sit and organize my thoughts and it will be a few more days yet before I can weave something here.

Our birthday was so wonderful last night. My mom and I were like little girls enjoying all that The Melting Pot had to offer. It was such a dinning experience. The staff went out of their way to make sure we had a birthday celebration like none other.

This morning my father called from far away and said that my step mom lost her battle to cancer. Tomorrow morning, my brother and I are flying out for a few days to grieve and try to encourage. I am so grateful to have been blessed with a huge envelope of money just last night that almost perfectly covers the emmergency cost of my plane fare. God is so amazing. I wouldn't have been able to do this otherwise.

Monday, December 10, 2007


The Christmas letters are ready to be sealed. I just want to put a little card into each envelope with our contact information on know snail mail, current email, the phones.......
I am wrestling with putting this blog in that list as well.

Should it be such a big deal? I don't know. I have decided and undecided 20 times already. You must be wondering why it should even be a questionable thing. A blog is a easy way to keep everyone in the loop with daily happenings. Just a year ago, I thought blogging was a strange new fad and waste of valuable time for 21st century people. That was my opinion at least until my long time friend encouraged me to look bigger and not stifle the creativity. It certainly is fun to comment and visit. I am meeting people I never would have met otherwise and it is really great. I do love to check out how my blogger friends are doing and see what new things they have been inspired to create. I look forward to evenings when I can sit down and be creative myself. So why should I hesitate at throwing my blogger address out there to everyone when it already is available to the entire world?

I think it all has to do with the way I write. I started this site to give myself a small place to be me. Not that I am not me in every other place, mind you. It is simply a place where I can give myself the freedom to write for myself, to be creative and air out my thoughts....whatever they may be. I don't bash or degrade. I just breathe.

There are only a handful of people in my daily life that I have told about this place. Why? Because I have learned that for good and bad....I tend to be a people pleaser. I knew that if everyone knew, I would pressure myself to write with my "Childrens Pastor Hat" on or my "Teacher Hat", my "Mom Hat" or "Wife Hat" on....and so forth........
I felt that the pressure I put on myself would cramp my desire to write.

I know some people would visit and have fun with it while others would use it to degrade and pester. Do those opinions matter so much? No they don't. I am still me with or without those comments. (Funny how there has been discussion here about the idea of sharing comments and opinions.) Comments and opinions are encouraging, eye opening, and broadening. That isn't why I hold back now. I think I hold back because I am finding a small part of me and I don't want me (that pleaser me) to stifle me.

What to do? What to do?....................

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Can't Take It With You...

As I sat wrapping presents tonight, my mind was wandering to different areas of thought.

One thought was about the wonderful blessing we received in the mail yesterday....our end of year state "kicker" check. (for some reason I always find it really odd when the government gives money back) I had completely forgotten about this little perk. We already had the extra expenses of Christmas planned out and covered, so this blessing doesn't even have that "already accounted for" mark on it yet.

The other major thought riding tandem with this was about my dear friend that was robbed last week. She is a young and beautiful single mom succeeding at raising her daughter alone in a world of hardships. They were both safe and not around when the robbery happened. Many things were taken, including most of the presents under the tree. After the initial shock wore off, she stated over and over again, "It just doesn't matter. It is simply STUFF."

She is right you know. There I sat tonight trying to balance the scales in my mind. I am so happy that we are getting to a place where we can have the freedom to bless others with gifts. And yet, it is just stuff. I have to keep in the foremsot of my mind what my motive is. It is wonderful to bless and provide. But I must be so very careful to not fall prey to that "self" motivator that would want to label myself with pats on the back.

I don't know if I am explaining myself adequately or clear enough. It is just what is going on inside my head.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Today Rosie was working on her Japanese word usage and decided to make her own flashcards with pictures. She snapped her camera with a few pictures of the fridge, milk jug, fish bowl, bed, and so on. Then she said, "Hey Pip, I need a picture that stands for "elder sister". Would you stand up, put your hands on your hips, and glare at me so I can take your picture?"

Train Tracks Are Gone....

Yesterday, my Rosie-girl had her braces removed. It has been almost 3 years since we started this song and dance waltz......
and 1 and 2 and brush again
and 1 and 2 and six week tightening
and 1 and 2 and nothing to eat that is sticky, gummy, or hard
and 1 and 2 and sore jaws
and 1 and 2 and rubberbands pop
and 1 and 2 and.....anyone who has had braces can fill in the blanks with all kinds of bothers.

Well they are now gone and she is so excited! She is blinding everyone with her smile.

Now Pippin will have to find a different way to lovingly torture her sister. She can't play the name calling game anymore. Names like.... train track face, metal mouth, brace face, reflecto head, radio head...or say things like, "Come over here so I can practice throwing my magnet darts." or "I need to hot-wire the radio, give me a smile would you?"

Yes, Rosie is super-uber pleased.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It Is That Time Of Year....

As I have said before in times past, this can be a pretty stressful time for me. As glorious as this season is, people can sure get ruffled the wrong way if they are not careful. I really am having fun though. As we wrap up these next couple of weeks of school, I have cool things in the works that will change things up.

Hmmm....."Change it up"...... That line always brings to my mind a scene from D2 Mighty Ducks where the teacher, Michele MacKay, is filling in as coach. She says to the team, "We look tired. We need to rearrange people."
A team player says, "Say Change it, yell it."
Michele yells, "Change It Up!", like nobody's business and everything and everyone miraculously falls into place with relief.

Falling into place.....along with school, working up the next batch of Sunday school lessons, and my other regular stuff; I am crafting gifts for a long list of treasured people. It is too much fun.

One of the best things though that I really get a kick out of before Christmas morning is planning a birthday....two birthdays as a matter of fact. Seven days before Christmas is a very special time for me because it is my mom's birthday.......and mine. Mother and daughter on the same day. No, it wasn't planned. It just happened that way. And if that wasn't cool enough, her father, my grandfather, also shared that exact same date of birth. When I was little, I remember we would always have a giant chocolate sheet cake with a fish for Grandpa, a rose for my mom, and a ballerina for me. As a child, I always thought I was cursed with a mom that had special ESP. I just knew she could read my mind and find things out BECAUSE we had the same birthday. Of course, now that I am the mom, I know the smarts comes from the fact that I can say, "Honey I been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt before it was even a nano thought in your mind."

So, I am planning our birthday date. Now that my husband is retired from active duty and we live back in our home stomping grounds, Mom and I spend the day together doing whatever we want. We eat and shop and giggle the day away. Every year, I have fun planning some new surprise for my mom that will beam a shinning example of how special she is to me. This year is no exception. I have special reservations made and everything. I am so excited. She is going to flip. I called that place over on......

Well now, I can't say, because that would ruin the surprise. Mom stops by this blog every now and again to visit. So, I will just have to keep it a secret.
Right about now, as she is reading this, she is mumbling something about me being a little (@#*) and then giggling about the apple not falling far from the tree.
See, along with our special day and my special planning, her special job is to try and trick me into divulging precious information that would give the secret away.

I'll just have to tell you about it AFTER it happens.

I love you Mom.