Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I wrote that nice little blog this morning, and if you could have been a fly on the wall at my house tonight you would see why I should not be a role model for anyone. I wanted to throw down and have a temper tantrum to show my children how bad they were behaving. (hmm...now there is a winning solution for you) In fact, I did have a bit of one...Luke's eyes got really big...it would have been funny, if I hadn't felt so scary inside. Why does it take so much energy to hold onto your maturity once it starts slipping away? I am confident that after a good night's rest all will seem better. (Boys and girls, this temper tantrum was performed by an expert. You should not try this at home.)

Even though I am joking about this, I would appreciate your prayers in this area. It was not at all funny when I wanted to explode all over the place. One important aspect of parenting for me has been being intentional about what I expect from my children. When I am intentional and focused (and NOT easily distracted which is my nature), my household is fairly peaceful...well I guess I have to get up, dust myself off, and get back in the saddle in the morning.

Beautiful Paradoxes

I haven't seen any deer the last few mornings, but I did get to see a beautiful moon a bit ago. It was so full and bright when I first looked out, and a little later, when it was lower on the horizon and the sun was about to come up, it was a beautiful shade of orange-yellow. Breathtaking.

This is Holy Week for those of us who celebrate the Resurrection and Good Friday is always followed by Easter. This time of deep reflection on our personal relationship with Christ spotlights the fact that He gave all of himself to us and willingly suffered the consequences of that loving act. Holy Week is the last week of Lent and specially focuses on the last week of our LORD's life and the events leading up to his death and resurrection. I am not sure why, but this has always been my favorite week of the church year. The somberness of Maundy Thursday's stripping of the altar for Good Friday, and Good Friday's grief, followed by the joyous celebration on Sunday morning creates a beautiful contrast. In all the Episcopal churches I have attended, the congregation participates in the gospel reading of the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday (which is the Sunday before Easter). There are individuals who read the parts for Jesus, Pilate, and others, but the congregation as a whole participates as the crowd who demands "crucify him, crucify him." When I read my part of the Passion narrative each year --"Crucify him, Crucify him!" --I am reminded that often my thoughts and actions reflect a heart that is indeed crying "crucify him!" Paradoxically, I do not feel condemned by this fact, but instead I am strangely encouraged that even though God knew that I would fail regularly, He created me anyway, and He loves me more than I can imagine...and His love for me is not dependent on my response to him. He loves me enough to give me the gift of free will/choice--a very dangerous gift to give someone you love--and still call to me of His great love for me in the moments of my worst choices. He has given us eyes to SEE and ears to HEAR. I want to use mine to draw closer to Him in good times and in bad. I have had some practice with the bad times these past months, and I have noticed that when I put my hands over my eyes and ears to shut Him out, I am even more miserable. He is Light, and the Light is real and shines even in my deepest darkness.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Todd could pretty much fix anything. That was one of the many things I loved about him. I always felt so secure when things went wrong. My first thought was usually "thank goodness Todd will know what to do." All I had to do was call him at work with the predicament, and he would usually have a plan to fix it by the time he got home. He was always so good about explaining things to the kids too...he would let them help with almost any project--whether it was working on motorcycles or making biscuits.

This move has been made difficult not necessarily by what I've had to do, but rather by how it has highlighted his absence. I had many friends offer to help with this or that, but other than a few odd jobs, I was unable to accept their kindness because their presence would have just highlighted his absence...which has been so painful these last 7 1/2 months. I basically just wanted Todd or no one. I am bad about biting off my nose to spite my face, but honestly I just didn't have the "umpf" to communicate the directions that would need to be given...Todd would have been in charge of giving the directions if he were here, and I did not want his job. My mom, sister (they have sort of developed an understanding of my grunts and angry outbursts and do a pretty good job of interpreting the overall meaning of what I want done...they are also very good about asking if I want to do certain things or if it is okay for them to...like taking down Todd's pictures...and they never dreamt of going into our closet to pack up his stuff...they are very respectful of sacred ground and I love them for it) and I have packed up the small boxes of this and that, and I hired movers to get the big stuff. My brother-in-law came up for most of the week and tackled all the odd jobs that Todd would have done, like moving the computers, putting up curtain rods, and installing the garbage disposal. I think Todd would like it that Joe did these things. He always liked Joe very much for his quiet ways and sense of humor. On moving day a friend brought us breakfast at our old house and then she and another friend provided supper at our new house...very much appreciated. Moving day was difficult...I felt, as the movers moved the large pieces of furniture out of our house, that I was watching my life being dismantled before me...if my kids hadn't been nearby I think I would have laid down on the concrete and never wanted to move again...but instead, I put on my smiley face and faked it as best I could...

Two college friends came and helped move the apple trees Todd planted several years ago. I am so grateful, because as we all talked about, I could have hired someone to do it but it wouldn't have been the same. One of them joked "if somebody's gonna kill these trees, it's gonna be us." That made me laugh...and I really did feel like Todd would have said, "Susie, was this really necessary? Couldn't you just plant new trees?" But it was necessary to me, and perhaps the very fact that he wouldn't have moved the trees but planted new ones made it okay for them to move them for me. All the same, I was a little off all afternoon, not really knowing what to do with myself.

One of our strengths as a couple was that we worked through a lot of things together as a team...we thought so differently that we were each able to point out solutions the other would never have thought of. I miss that. (Of course, anyone who has been married for any time at all also knows the potential this "thinking differently" has to aggravate--but really if we could truly appreciate one another for our differences I think we would be blessed more than not.) I miss so much about him, but I am having to learn to function without him because that is just how it is. Overall I think I am doing very well (although some of you may beg to differ, but please don't) for the circumstances, but the problem is that the circumstances just suck.

Well, I have rambled a lot today, but those are the threads that have been floating around in my head so that is what you get ;-) I thank all of you who have helped, offered to help, and/ or continue to hold us in your prayers. I love you all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Filled With Hope

I am listening (again) to the music from Steven Curtis Chapman's latest CD, beautywillrise, as I write this. I cannot adequately convey what these songs mean to me...listening to my own thoughts and hopes and questions mirrored in such a beautiful way.

This morning during my quiet time, I was directed by my Bible study to read Romans 15:13.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. " (NIV)

When I turned to it and read it, my heart actually leaped inside my chest, and I felt as if I might burst I was so encouraged and filled with hope. I realize now that as I signed off of yesterday's post, I had the seed of this verse growing inside me--and then to see it actually written on the page this morning was overwhelming (in the best sort of way) indeed.

May your day be filled with hope.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

He's Not Finished With Me Yet

Well, it's been over a week since I last checked in...things are moving fast. We hope to be in the new house by middle of next week.

I was thinking this morning about how I wake up almost every morning with a sense of excitement and anticipation about the day...even if it is 2:30 in the morning when I wake up for the day. What a gift that has been. I can't say that it always lasts (in fact it often doesn't) through the entire day, but to be able to start each day like that is truly wonderful. I love the quiet time early in the morning before the day "gets messy"... this time of solitude, study, reflection and prayer is extremely life-giving for me. There is so much I don't understand about life, and I have many unanswered questions. However, I do know that the changes inside my once-stone heart are for real...and I know Who is responsible for those changes. I may have asked for them, but those changes were way beyond my ability to achieve. Of course, there is a lot more work to be done...but as Brandon Heath's song plays in my head, "He's not finished with me yet."

I wish you all joy and peace this day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Road Ahead

I closed on the house as planned. Now come the real decisions. Everyone is asking when I plan to move--the problem with this is that I do not know the answer. I originally thought I would not move until I had a few things done at the new house, but it is looking more and more like I will just wake up one day soon and say "today is the day." The kids said they were ready, and so am I. It will probably still be the middle of April before we really get settled, but I think I will go ahead and start moving some things this weekend.

Many of you don't know that I have started a part-time job at the local community college. It is perfect for me. I get to choose my working hours, and the job comes with very little responsibility...other than showing up and working when I say I will. I am helping students in the computerized math lab. I get to help, and the students are happy to have my help (after all, I have nothing to do with their grade ;-)...I am actually getting to do my favorite part of teaching...and that is teaching (go figure). The people I work with are wonderful...helpful, kind, considerate, and don't take themselves too seriously...and everyone genuinely smiles and laughs...just the right mix for a work environment. If I had run an add for the personalities I'd like to work with, I couldn't have done better. Every math department I have been associated with has been this way...how awesome to be able to say that.

Things are rolling along, and we are trying to roll with them. There are many things about this house and neighborhood that we will miss, but there is much that we won't. I know it is time for a fresh start no matter how difficult that road looks right now. Honestly, how can it can be any more difficult than the one we have already traveled? My Kids and I are ready, willing and able--so here we go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Covered Wagon Girl

I have a friend who used to tease me a lot that she wouldn't be surprised at all to drive by our house and see a covered wagon in the driveway. I think she decided this primarily based on our decisions to home school our children and go without cable tv for a while. (I think it was the cable tv decision that really pushed her over the edge...we live so far from a large city that if you don't get cable--or satellite--you pretty much don't get nothin' ! ;-)

Somehow this came up again the other day. I was saying that when Todd was alive there really was some part of me that romanticized that way of life and kind of wanted us to pack up and "go out west" away from all the busyness of life and keep things simple. However, I knew the realities of having to stuff my own mattress or wring the chicken's neck were not really what I craved...or part of my "go west" fantasy. (One of my friends said it so well, "I want to be out in the fresh air and large spaces during the day, but I want to go to McDonald's when it's time to eat." ;-)

So I started thinking about what exactly attracted me to that picture of life. I stumbled upon something that really resonated inside of me...Ma's china shepherdess...at least I think it was a shepherdess ;-) She had one cherished knickknack that she carefully packed and unpacked (only after Pa had put up a special shelf for it) each time the family moved. One...can you imagine having only one cherished knickknack instead of the the hundreds (if not thousands) of "un"cherished knickknacks we collect and move around with us? I think maybe that this romanticized/sanitized version of Little House I crave has to do with the uncluttered lifestyle they chose to live. They often left many of their possessions behind as they loaded up the wagon to move out--all of them things they had built or prepared with their own hands, putting in much care, time and energy. Each time the Ingall's arrived at a new homestead, the entire family had to help prepare it because they had walked away (or driven--in their covered wagon, of course) from almost everything I would consider necessities and would never leave behind. What would it mean to not be so attached to so many "things"--even the things in which we have invested much of our care, time and energy?

I would appreciate your prayers regarding this for I know that on my own I will be deceived and potentially end up bringing all my "stuff" with me (and I think you probably understand I mean this on more than one level). I am hoping that with this new move, I will choose wisely. Choose what special treasures to take with me and what to leave behind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Limbo (or wanting to)

I find myself in a strange place--in between a strong desire to hang on to what was and a strong desire to move forward. It is agony here...in between raging at God about what has happened and being thankful to Him for His tender care in the aftermath...in between wanting to just check out emotionally and (thankfully) a stronger desire to push through the pain. I just threw my shoes across the house and threw myself on the bed and screamed and cried and kicked because I feel like I am the rope in an awful game of tug-of-war.

I am supposed to close on a house this Friday. I am caught in between an intense desire to run away from everything (including the new house) and the desire for a fresh start. I am caught between knowing it is time to move forward (not forget, but to truly recognize I cannot get back to the way things were) and feeling so sad about doing this...there is an element of guilt in that sadness also.

I know that spring is coming, but winter does not want to give up its hold...the groundhog says so...and so do my emotions. But emotions aren't truth, they are just a reflection of our perception of the truth. I know that God has planted a strong desire for healing and health inside me...and when I think I can't walk anymore, He reminds me of my children and His strength to keep me from fainting, and I find I can keep walking. My children do not need a momma who is checked out and not available to them, and His strength enables me to be the momma they do need. That is truth.

Even though I find myself overwhelmed with grief this week, I will not lose my hope that, with Help, I can push my way through this frozen, hard earth to the fresh air and sunshine. Winter will give up its hold, and spring will come.