Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Montana Nana

Big changes are coming to my house.  My sweet Mama has moved to Oregon.

I have to tell you how it all happened because God's Hand in it has been so clear, so evident, that at times I've been dumbfounded at the simplicity with which it has fallen into place.

Of course my Mom never would have left Montana while Grama was still alive.  The reasons are so obvious I'm not even going to waste the time of typing them.  Grama died at the end of August and by January Mom was already starting to toss the idea of moving out to be with us.  She began praying about it and by the time she flew out here for Roo's birthday in February she was convinced God was giving her the ok.  All the little signs were amazing; it was truly an honor to watch God speak to mom through other people.

Once she was out here for Roo's birthday she felt total confirmation to put her house up for sale.  She went home and began packing her  house, she felt she was in "show condition" and actually put the house on the market on March 21, 2012--it sold on April 12, 2012.  Astonishing.  Especially in this market, this economy, for a little bitty house on the edge of Park City, Montana.  Astonishing.

31 days later Hot Jeff and Mom left Montana in a big-ass moving van with her SUV on a trailer behind it.

I haven't done any official research or polling but I'm pretty sure that is some sort of record when it comes to deciding to sell, time on the market, and moving time.  I'm pretty sure my Mom is going into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hot Jeff suggested my Mom live with us for an indefinite amount of time giving her time to enjoy, adjust and rest.  She has the luxury of having no debt and huge nest egg from the sale of her house so she literally just gets to hang out with her grandkids.  I can't even put into words how excited I am to do all the things with my Mom that I haven't gotten to do the last 14 years.  Essentially I haven't lived near her as an adult.  I mean, yes, I was 21 when I moved and I had been living with her but I was in college and seriously...how incredibly young does 21 sound now that I'm 35.  I bet someday 35 will seem like childhood to me too also.

I'm excited for Saturday markets, Sunday dinners, etc...all these fun traditions that my friends have with their Mamas who live nearby.

Who I'm really excited for though: my babies.  My Mom is one of those grandmothers who thinks my kids are the greatest 2 people on the planet.  If she didn't love Jesus so much she'd make Samily her own little religion.  I'm excited that my kids are going to have a grandparent who loves to have them over for slumber parties, to take them bowling and to the movies.  I'm excited for them to have a grandparent like I did.  I can only hope that my kids will have a relationship with their Nana as I did with Gigi.

I'm sure having Mom live with us will have its ups and downs.  You can't add a new person to your house and daily routines without a fair amount of adjustments, some hard and some easy.  Fortunately, we all love each other and are good communicators but we're also pretty good and  not sweating the small stuff.  It hasn't been lost on me how blessed beyond measure I am that my husband adores my Mom and vice-versa.  It really is quite amazing how well they get a long and enjoy each other.

One thing I know I'll need to keep in check is my need for everyone to be happy, to get along, to not be frustrated with each other.  I'm a people pleaser and I long for peace and accord at any cost.  I know I will have to give Mom and Jeff or Mom and the kids or Mom and me the freedom to get annoyed and go sulk in a bedroom.  I will have to remind myself this isn't an indication that Jeff hates my Mom or that my Mom regrets moving here.  These things are normal within my family of 4, they will certainly be normal in my family of 5.  There is so much freedom in Christ; because He allows me to be who I am I can allow those I love and live with the freedom to be who they are without regret, condemnation or me trying to "fix" things.

I'm sure some real Come-To-Jesus family meetings will have to take place but I'm confident He is in this and He is good (thank you Pastor John).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Might Have Been

Just when I have myself convinced I really don't mind not having a relationship with my Father of origin something like this weekend happens.  Just when I have everyone I know convinced I really don't mind not having a relationship with my Father of origin I go and blog about it.

First of all I have to back up...my Mom is moving to Oregon from Montana.  I can't believe I haven't blogged about that yet.  Most of you follow me on Facebook so you already know that but yes, wow, my Mama and I are finally going to be back together.  "Reunited and feels so good."

With that said, she's going to be living with us for an indefinite amount of time.  We have a big bonus room, 300 square feet big.  Just a marvelous, square room that we've used as storage and computer room (before children) and a romper/play room (after children).  Up until a week ago the bonus room consisted of one couch, one chair, one play kitchen, one play workbench, 2 activity desks, 1 mini table, a tv on a stand, a bookshelf, a toy box, a dress up box and a toy cubby shelf.  Then Mia swept in like an organizing angel and helped me empty it so that our friend Ryan could build a closet in there and finish up some trim work.

The room has been relatively finished for about 3 years but the window, door and floor needed trim work done.  Easy enough to do but as you know already, Hot Jeff doesn't dig wood/house/DIY yourself projects.  Hence, we just used the room in a slightly unfinished state.  The other thing you should know about the bonus room is that when we moved into the house in January of 2004 it was down to the studs.  It has taken us forever to finish that room and we have done it in stages as time and money and energy has allowed.

I swear this is getting to my Father.

When a person has the skills and tools to dry wall and frame and finish a room it really is no big deal.  Materials are relatively inexpensive--its the labor that is costly.  We're fortunate to have a talented crop of friends who have pitched in their time, talent and tools and the room is done, beautiful and going to be a great space for my Mom to "get away" from the craziness that is our home.

Here's where it all comes together.

My Father is a very, very talented carpenter.  He has made beautiful things.  He once promised to make Samuel a toy box with burned artwork on it (because he is also an incredible artist.) but alas, surprise, surprise, he never delivered on that promise.

During the different stages of working on the bonus room (just shy of a decade) I've often thought how in a normal, functioning father-daughter relationship a dad would love to come over and help his daughter with a room.  I have this idyllic picture of my Dad up there working with Jeff while I feed them good food and lemonade.  I picture him teaching Samuel how to use a drill and laughing at Emily's head lamp.

Instead of having us be bound to someone else's generosity my Dad would jump at the chance to hang out with all of us.

That's not how it is.  I haven't spoken to my Father in over 2 years.  After giving him "one more chance" he lied to me for the last time and for my mental health, sanity and sake of my children I asked him to never contact me again.  He has obliged.  Not a surprise that he didn't fight for the right to stay in our lives but that's a whole other blog post.

I think when it comes to John, my father, he doesn't know how to love.  Or maybe he loves the best he knows how.  My cousin Kristi told me that's how she thought of her own Dad and their relationship.  My Uncle had the same upbringing as my Mama; an alcoholic father who left them and then was killed in a car accident.  He never had much of a chance to learn the gentle nuances of fatherhood because he himself had a father who didn't know how to love or only could love the best way he knew how.  I suppose there are countless books and blog posts dedicated to the sins of the fathers and cyclical familial dysfunction so I won't delve into it now but to say that something happened with John that made him incapable of loving his daughter the way she needed to be loved.

I simply will go back to the rhetorical question of what kind of Daddy doesn't help his daughter finish her bonus room?  Its such a silly thing but it represents so much more doesn't it?  I guess the answer that I know in my head but it hasn't (and maybe never will) made it to my head yet is the kind of Daddy who doesn't know how.

I have found a lot of freedom in that answer.  When I'm feeling guility for finally putting a stop to the cycle of lies, broken promises and 2nd chances and feeling like I should continue to give "one more chance" I remember that no many how chances I give John he doesn't know how to love me.  John doesn't know how to be a father let alone a Daddy.  So I take a deep breath, put down my phone and remember that I DO NOT have to put my children in that same never-ending cycle.  Samuel and Emily will have enough disappointment in their lives; if I can protect them, I should.  If I should protect myself, I should.  At some point I had to relinquish the lie that John is my responsibility.  He's not. 

I'll probably always play "what might have been" games in my head and heart until the day I meet Jesus face to face and He holds me on His lap and cradles me in His arms and tells me "Daddy's here.  Daddy's here."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Damn Old Lady Skin

As I mentioned on Facebook today, for 35 years I have not given a crap about my skin.  I never wash it before bed, I'm always picking at it and I'm not even close to drinking enough water a day.  Its my own fault I have lines around my eyes and that horrible wrinkle in between my eyes.  I'm lucky I don't smoke or I would really be in trouble.

When I was a teenager my mom seemed to notice that I frowned all the time, thus making a little crinkle in between my eyes.  She'd say, "You should stop frowning or you're going to get a deep wrinkle between your eyes."  I would nod and then stick my tongue out at her when she turned around.  At the time my mom didn't know anything, she certainly did not know when or where I would wrinkle.

Well it turns out she was right about the "little crinkle" and just about everything else.  I hate her.

I was getting my Slutty Vixen on last week with Salon Sara and she told me about this new cream she has started using.  Its called Nerium and is apparently the equivalent of little magic elves in a bottle turning back the hands of time.  She showed me all these fabulous before and after pictures which, of course, I was incredibly skeptical about.  Then she started telling me about the difference she has seen in her skin in just a couple of weeks of use.  Smaller pores, help with uneven coloring, lines becoming thinner, etc etc.  She gave me a bottle and asked me to use it for 10-12 days.  I'm in.

I had to take a before picture which turned out to be tricky because you're not supposed to photo shop the before picture.  I had to take like 14 pictures before I got the right angle so it doesn't look like I have 6 chins.  I don't believe Nerium takes care of your multiple chin problems so why advertise it, right?

I've decided that if Nerium truly works I will start slatthering my whole body with it in hopes that it will tighten my ass, flatten my tummy, lift my boobs and make me less bitchy in the mornings. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

As my church prepares for Holy Week they have asked a group of writers to come up first person narratives from 6 different events of Jesus' life.  The one I wrote was called The Jesus Who Transforms and it was to be about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  When my Mom read it, like any good mother, she oohed and aahed over it and asked if I would publish it here on the blog.  Of course, I always oblige Della!  :)

Here you go...

The air was sticky with grief. Lazarus died four days ago but his scent lingers still. Lazarus always had a woody smell about him and when he would hug me I could always detect a faint mixture of mint and jasmine as well. When my sister Mary and I prepared his body for burial we used these same scents to wrap him. Mint, jasmine, lavender, clove... I wondered now as I pulled a steaming loaf from the hot coals if I would ever be able to smell aloe and myrrh again without thinking of Lazarus' lifeless body cold in a tomb. I shook the image from my mind and began mixing berries and roots for a jam.

I could hear Mary in the other room with the mourners who had come. They had been pouring in by the handfuls since news of my brother's death had spread. Covered faces of wailing women now sat with her and she graciously accepted their condolences and kind words. I left all of this to Mary...I had no desire to sit with these people who had turned their water works on for tradition's sake. They didn't know my brother, my Lazarus. They had never sat beside a rolling stream with him, listening to his jokes, his stories. They had no idea that even the birds would stop to listen as he would sing. These mourners knew nothing of his playful pats, his toothy grin, his throaty laugh when he would read something that tickled him. I knew also that if I lingered too long in that room the finality of death's grip may settle deep in my heart and I may begin to weep and wail with them and never be able to stop.

Sobs began to rack my shoulders anyway. I needed fresh air. I wiped the salty tears from my face and grabbed the water bucket, making my way to the well. Even this held its memories of Lazarus. I remember the day he and and our friend Jesus had first pulled water out of its deep, earthy grasp. Their worn skin glistened from sweat; they had worked all morning in the relentless sun yet they looked like giddy school boys as they pulled up the first bucket, the cool water sloshing over onto their dusty sandals. They laughed and slapped each others' backs at their accomplishment.


Lazarus' dearest friend. Where was he now, now that his brother was gone from this world? No breath in his body, no color in his cheeks...we had sent word for him but he never came. For days Mary and I had held Lazarus' weak hand, slowly watching the life seep from him. We tried all of the herbal medicines and techniques our mother had taught us but we couldn't bring him back to us. Our hopes were high when we heard that word had reached Jesus and we clung to it until we saw the last breath escape our brother's cracked lips. He was gone. Jesus had not come.

Anger reddened my cheeks. I had seen with my own eyes the miracles Jesus could perform. He and his Twelve had eaten in my home and shared the stories of lepers healed, blind now seeing, of lame now walking. His name had been whispered in corners of my home as my brother laid suffering. Where was he now? Why had he let Lazarus die? I knew when I saw him I would ask; I would ask boldly and loudly and he would know he had failed me.

It almost seemed like a mirage. For as soon as I had thought the words I saw him walking down the short road to my home. I dropped the pail and ran until I found myself looking into his face, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." I heard the accusation in my tone, suprised at my own charge I looked away. Moments passed before I had the courage to look into his eyes again but when I did I immediately recognized what was in them: sorrow. Jesus, my Lord, was carrying his own heavy sadness for my brother. How could I have been so wrong?

As we spoke, Mary came running to us and I saw Jesus tremble at the sight of her tears, "Where have you laid him?", he simply asked her.

The band of mourners from our home followed silently as Mary and I led Jesus to the tomb. When we arrived there, breathless from our quickened paces, Jesus stood at the tomb door. He raised his hand and touched the door gently, sadly. He stood there motionless for a few minutes before I noticed the tears falling from his cheeks, spilling onto the dry ground where we stood. Unsure of what to do, of how to comfort him, I began to look away when I heard him command, "Take away the stone."

I wanted to object, to scream in protest at the obscene thought of it but my heart reminded me this man was the Son of God. I had doubted him once today and I would not do it again.

"Lazarus, come out." The words boomed as they ricocheted off the stone. Mary fell to her knees and I felt the arms of one of the Twelve brace me as my own legs began to give out. I struggled for air as my brother stepped forward, still wrapped in the linen I had shrouded him in only days earlier.

It was in that very moment I understood. In this very moment when my brother's still heart began beating I began to put the pieces together. Dozens of dinners when Jesus had spoken of his own death filled my memory and I felt dizzy with realization. At once I understood, death had no victory. Death held no permanent sting. The voice that brought warmth and blood to my brother's corpse would boom again and there will be no more death.

With three words Jesus had transformed everything. Transformed death into life. Transformed doubt into faith. Transformed grief into hope.

At once, I did the only thing I could do. I fell at The Christ's feet and worshiped.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I think the key to getting back to blogging is to just write.  I hear writers talk about this all the time; the simple practice of writing is bound to produce something.

When I first started writing I only pictured my Mom in Montana as my audience; I couldn't have imagined anyone but her ever finding what I had to say about my day to day life of any interest.  That got me thinking that maybe I just need to simplify it.  Perhaps my goal of trying to "wow" all of you (all 3 of you) is too daunting.  Maybe I just need to start out simple; just get back in the habit of writing and not try to blow you away with my wit and or wisdom.

I used to journal every day.  When I was in high school and college I filled pages and pages and pages with stories of stupid boys who either loved me too much or not enough.  I would copy down the lyrics to love songs and cut out articles from "Glamour."  I always pictured my someday children finding my boxes of journals after I had long died and thoroughly enjoying themselves as they poured over my wise writings and lost loves.  I saw myself as a real life "Francesca" from Bridges of Madison County who had lived this secret, romantic life that her children never knew about.

I stopped journaling sometime around 1999 and sometime around 2004 I found all of them and spent a whole Saturday reading them.  I was horrified at my melodrama and threw all of them out except for the 2 I kept while in India and the one I kept in Alaska when I met Hot Jeff.

Speaking of Bridges of Madison County, I know everyone hated that book but I loved it.  Still love it.  The other book of his, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend is so underlined and dog eared I would never dream of loaning it out to someone in fear of what they might find out about me from the underlined passages.  I should re-read those books as an adult; I wonder if I would still love them.  As a twenty something who had her heart broken I found them so wonderfully romantic and tawdry I couldn't help but read them over and over.  I think I'll re-read them.  I might make my book club read them too; just to torture them.  Ha!

Aren't the words "Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend" just about the most lyrical, poetic words ever?  It just begs to be read in a big, red chair with and equally big, red glass of wine.  I don't think I was a legal drinking age last time I read that book.  So now I'll have age and liquor as an influence.  I'm getting so excited I'm going to go start right now.  10:21pm and I'm going and digging it up.  I don't even think its on the book shelf; it may be in a box in storage.  Hmm.

Ok, who is going to read it with me?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My sweet friend Christene sent me a note (actual paper, actual postage) telling me she was anxious to hear the rest of my story regarding saying goodbye to Gigi.  I feel like I owe that to you, to her, because you faithfully read this blog, faithfully visit it even though there are no new words to entertain you.  And you have been on this journey with me and you want to know how it ended but I will be honest, I don't want to write about it anymore.  I will try to fit in its conclusion somewhere and somehow but to just sit down and relive it now that I'm starting to heal seems counter productive.  Or maybe just sad.  Maybe next month when I'm PMSing and feeling like I want to cry and eat pumpkin pie and listen to soft rock I will finish it up but for now, sorry.

Another friend, Christy, had a kidney stone earlier in the week and read my old blog post about one of my many kidney stones.  That idea intrigued me and so I decided to read it.  Wow, that girl is funny.  She writes so easily; she can really tell a story.  Hmm, where did she go?  Where did her passion for telling a story go?

My sweet "other mother" Lori sent this to me this morning, it is an exceprt from a blog she was reading but I swear I could have written the words myself had I known how.   I was sure my creative days were over and any chance of me ever having anything worth saying again was not only lost but killed flat dead on the ground, limp and lifeless and puny. You know how that goes. When you long for time to write or create, you have exactly 47 billion things to say. And then when the time finally comes, you sit and push out all distractions and you got…nothing.

I've made promises to you in the past that I would get back to this wonderful process of writing.  That I would take full advantage of someone, anyone, taking pleasure in my ramblings and stories and musings and I have failed.  Failed miserably.  I get so busy with kids and laundry and Facebook (Facebook really takes blogging and shrinks it down to 2 or 3 sentences and instant gratification.  Hmm, this isn't the first time this week I've thought I heard God nudging me to take a break from Facebook.)  Anyway, no promises this time.  I'm just going to try and write.  Write anything.  If it doesn't have a title or a moral or joke, I'm just gonna write anyway.  Read, don't read.  Comment, don't comment.

Oh I hope I can do this.