Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why I Write

I have begun to depend on writing. Not only to release emotion, but to work through the “issues” of life. I am changing my career to cater to this “writing addiction”. I will be teaching writing all day long starting August 2007. Yes, it will be educating middle school children, but I really am passionate about the power of writing and couldn’t be more excited to influence young people to write. Please bear with me as I, once again, quote Henri Nouwen:

“Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.”

Wish I had some words of my own to express my obsession with writing, but Nouwen’s words simply express it much better than I could ever imagine. Life makes much more sense when put into words.

When I look back to my writings at the beginning of my grief journey, it is so apparent that my feelings were raw and uncontrolled. It is through writing that I am made aware of growth I have experienced. Without this narrative, I would be inclined to forget—to put aside those initial feelings as being to difficult to comprehend. Since they are documented I can actually realize that I have continued to grow and learn through my journey.

Writing is powerful. I challenge each of you to keep a printed record of your life journey.

This I know for sure.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Graduation, Parties, Weddings, Musings and Other Things…

This weekend my son graduated from high school. I attended this event held in our small town high school gymnasium with conflicting emotions. I am proud that my son is graduating and embarking in a new chapter of his life, but a bit sad at how quickly time has passed. The ceremony itself was the shortest graduation I have ever been to—45 minutes! These were the kids Chad had grown up with for the last 10 years and terrrific examples of bright young people who will lead our country in the future.

Saturday was Chad's graduation party. We planned the party with him in mind, yet we wanted to make it special for our guests. I was fortunate to have the mother of my son’s closest friend offer to assist me with the planning and accomplishing such a task. Her gift was to not only make some of the wonderful sweets offered to our guest, but to also be there “behind the scenes” at the actual party so that Chad and I could enjoy our guest. I can’t find the words to tell you what an amazing gift this was to us. I will always treasure the fact that I was able to relax and appreciate these folks who came to honor my son's accomplishments.

When I looked around the room I was astonished at the cross section of people represented. This cross-section could characterize the way our lives have woven within the fabric of others. Family was represented, both my family as well as Don’s. Friends were represented, including Chad’s and mine. Young and older individuals mingled as they often do in life. Some in attendance knew us through church, others through school, some through civic organizations and some through loss. I believe all had a nice time and Chad especially enjoyed being the person of honor.

Sunday, I attended the wedding of a very dear widow friend. Trish married Brad in Monticello and it was magical. The ceremony was special and the reception simply a blast. It was good to see my widow friends from Chicago and spend some time with them. What an inspirational example that there is “life after death”!

Well, this most anticipated, activity-packed weekend is over. I am tired, but have wonderful memories shared by many family and friends. It is within these moments that I feel most greatly blessed and loved.

This I know for sure.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I had a difficult weekend. I posted what happened on the widow board and, as usual received some great advice. I didn’t like what I was feeling, but couldn’t stop it. I think many of us feel this way---a sense of entitlement. I have had to come to grips with the fact that the person (male figure) who had my son’s best interest at heart is no longer around and what is more---I shouldn’t even expect anyone else to take up the slack.

After Don died there were so many promises of men who would “stand in for Don”, well it just hasn’t happened. However, there has been one person who has taken interest in my son and has sacrificed his own personal time to spend time with my child. This person is my pastor. PT lives across the street and I can always count on him to include my son when he is playing basketball or Play Station. My youngest son has appreciated this male-bonding. He loves visiting PT and talks about it for hours after returning home. In turn they have a special relationship. Chandler loves to kid PT and his face lights up whenever he sees PT. He just needs to have someone think it is important to spend time with him. It seems so simple to me.

There are men in my family, but they have families, jobs and lives of their own and it is quite selfish of me to think they would have my kid’s interest in mind when they have their own. The difficult part is that my head comprehends this notion, but my heart can’t seem to reconcile the reality.

Why do I feel like my kids have some entitlement to sharing in male-bonding experiences with my brother, dad, uncle etc…? No one has an “obligation” to my children, but I do KNOW if Don were here my kids would be included in many of the activities they are excluded from now. I truly hate feeling this way. I know that I feel like my boys are short changed in the male-activity department and that mom is simply NOT an adequate stand-in for a male role-model. I really do HATE the these emotions I am having. I have tried for HOURS to reason this out and “get over it”, but to NO avail--tears still flow; feelings are slow to change-which isn't at all like me. Perhaps that is the part that distresses me.

I WILL get over it…..
I just HATE that I have to and that this is just another thing to add to the list. Someone tell me I am NOT the most selfish being on the planet for feeling this way!

But for now---seems I am still a participant in my own“pity party”

This I know for sure…and am not particularly proud of it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I had surgery ten days ago. As surgeries go, it was considered major. As recoveries go, it has been very smooth. Today I overdid it. I needed some new clothes for several graduation parties I am to attend in the next few weeks, so I did a little shopping. I met my dad for lunch, some friends for coffee after school, my best friend and her husband for dinner and then to a graduation party at a nearby golf course. Tonight, I am paying the price. I am exhausted and in more pain than I have been in since the day of the surgery.

This is a bit like when we experience emotional pain. When the pain first hits we are careful to take care of ourselves. We surround ourselves with supportive people; we seek solace in faith and even take more time for “us”. As we think we are beginning to heal we step away from the support. We try to go it alone and then “bam” the pain hits us again and we are made greatly aware that we still need the support---that is our emotional pain medicine.

This I know for sure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In a Holding Pattern

I haven’t flown much the past few years, but remember well a trip to Colorado when our plane, waiting to land, was in a holding pattern over the city. The anticipation of landing filled the cabin as passengers grew more and more anxious. Then I glanced across the aisle at a small child as he looked out of the airplane windows, amazed at the beauty and wonder of the mountains; with excitement pointing and talking a mile a minute to his mother. He was oblivious to the impatience of the other passengers.

I feel as if my life is in a similar “holding pattern”. I am hovering over my life, both past and present, taking stock and preparing to “land” at the appropriate moment. This is not a futile place to be, but actually a chance to evaluate my life, gain energy and outlook then proceed with more confidence and conviction.

While in this moment of waiting I have been reading Proverbs 2. It tells me that while I am in this place I can not just sit stifled. Here is the caveat if I am to be prepared for a “perfect landing”:

“IF you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and

IF you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and

IF you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (vs 1-4)

So what I am doing now is crying out for understanding and looking for it as I would something I value beyond anything else. What does that look like? I think it looks like that little boy in the airplane as he looked out onto the beauty below. He was content to take in the splendor while the other passengers restlessly waiting to land, missed the beauty of the journey. For me it means slowing down, getting my life in order and becoming contented with my circumstances. This simply takes time.

When will I know I am ready for the landing? I don’t have to wonder, there is a promise for searching diligently. Verse 5-10 lays it out clearly:

Then you will understand ..and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

While I am in this holding pattern I plan to enjoy the beauty of the journey, to take the time needed to accomplish it so that the landing is effortless and even enjoyable.

This I know for sure.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Tribute to My Mother

Her children arise and call her blessed; Proverbs 31:28

As tributes go, I couldn’t possible write one worthy of my mother. She is one remarkable woman. She is the matriarch of our family. She is the spiritual glue which holds us together. At 65 years old she still teaches kindergarten in an inner city school. She is their hero as well as mine.

Throughout her life, my mother has given to others. As a pastor’s wife she represented Christ to her parishioners. She has always been held in high regard by those who know her. I will never forget the time I had a social gathering at my house and one of the ladies from the church said, “Your mother would be proud.” It made me feel great to know that I, in some way, had emulated her. It wasn’t about my culinary skill; it was about the ability to make other’s feel at ease, even comfortable. Hospitality is another of my mother’s many gifts.

God has chosen to bless this part of my life with the honor of having my mother close by. For years my parents lived far from us. I didn’t realize how much I missed having my mother around until they moved back to town several years ago. When my darkest hour hit, my mother was there, not only hold me, but to help me begin to put the pieces back together again. I treasure the fact that I can call her at any time and know that she will drop everything to have coffee with me, pray with me or simply let me know that she is present.

What I know of parenting, I have learned from my mother. I know that Mentholadum, when applied to most anything (except feelings), heals almost instantaneously. I have learned the power of prayer is mightier that anything else in the lives of our children. I have learned that a mother’s love is unconditional, absolute and definitive.

So on this day, I rise up and call my mother, blessed.
This I know for sure.

Feeling Fragmented

Ever feel like there are times in your life when nothing fits together completely; like your life is simply a patchwork of fragmented pieces that don’t work together in any ordered manner? This is where I reside tonight.

It has been almost 20 months since Don’s death. I have grown, the kids have grown, I have even begun to rebuild my life; yet, I seem to miss his presence more than ever. My son was crowned prom king last week, I had major surgery, my oldest graduates from high school in two weeks and I know these milestones have triggered this rush of sentiment, but the feelings are still genuine and are mine to discern. Someone on the YWBB board posted about the fact that they miss the one person who understood them “best of all”. I understand fully that void and wonder if there will ever be someone who “gets me” like that or if I have the energy to reveal that much of myself to someone else.

I am taking on a new teaching post next year. I began my teaching career in middle school English. I taught middle school for 7 years and have spent the last 14 in the intermediate grades. I have decided to travel full circle back to middle school English next year. Though I am excited about the change, I wonder what I was thinking—making yet ANOTHER major change in my life at this point.

As a mother, I am exhausted—yes—I admit it. Single parenting is not something I signed up for. Being “mom and dad” is called being “spread thin”. So, I wonder if either job is being completed adequately. I do pray that in the end, my kids won’t suffer too much from the strain of only having one parent who is, at times, less than sufficient.

And I question…..

pretty much everything. My confidence has diminished. I am even questioning this post since I am only two days out from surgery and realize emotions are on edge. I am consoled by the fact that I know there are many of you out there who feel the same way as I do-those who feel fragmented or disjointed; yet, who continue each day because you also “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (I Cor. 12:31) and have been promised to be shown the “most excellent way.”

So tonight I put to rest some of these fragmented sections of my life, or at least I give them over to the One who can create a beautiful “life” quilt from my disjointed pieces.

This I know for sure…

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Prom King!

What I know for sure is that my son has always been a king in my eyes, and today---he is a King in the eyes of others. You will have to bear with my "proud mama moment".

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Man of Integrity

By his light I walked through darkness! Job 29:3

I must confess that my reflection time has been nonexistent the past few weeks and my life can tell the tale. I need time alone to study, pray and consider what is going on in my life. I make much better life decisions when I have taken the time to truly contemplate the decisions I must make. My pastor spoke on Job last Sunday and as my ADHD set in, I began to read Job’s story (yes during the sermon) and finished it throughout the week. I have heard this story over and over throughout my life, but Job became more relevant to me as I connected his story to that of my own (in teacher-ease that is called a "text-to-self" connection).

Job fascinates me. I am not sure if this story actually took place, or if it was divinely placed in the Bible to teach us, but that really matters little in the face of the lessons that can be discovered from Job’s life. Here is a man who endured more than his share of adversity. His family, livelihood, home, friends and life in general were stripped from him, yet he kept his faith. Now, he didn’t go into the night singing glorious hymns of praise for the life he was dealt. No, he anguished in his situation, cried out to God and was obviously in deep pain. I can relate.

We are most often fascinated by the fact that Job was faithful to God throughout his tormented life, but I find something more to admire within the character of Job. I find his integrity to be his most admirable quality. Job is real. He isn’t a Bible superhero, but a man. He got upset with God, he questioned “why”, he struggled and wept, but his integrity remain in tact-even when others thought sin was the reason for his suffering. When the rubber hit the road—it was obvious that Job was a man of principle and courage.

I am careful about what I ask for anymore. I want the integrity of Job, but have already endured my limit of hardship in order to obrain such an attribute, so I am reluctant to ask for it. Instead, I will use Job as a gauge and begin to work my way to that place of respectability. One thing I can say along with Job is that “by HIS light I walked through darkness.” I guess this is a start.

The most inspiring part of Job’s story comes at the end. He was rewarded for his faithfulness and resoluteness. In the 42nd chapter, verse 12 it reads that “the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” I could only be so fortunate. This is a promise I can hold on to.

This I know for sure.