Friday, December 31, 2010

Sitting Here Now

As we ring in the New Year and decompress from the 2010 holiday season I feel the need, as it seems most people do this time each year, to contemplate the past year and project my wishes for the new year. This is the second year in a row that we didn't send out a holiday card with the accompanied letter, which I mourn a bit. I love receiving the annual updates from my friends and to be honest I love writing and sending one too. It's cathartic in a way to purge each year on paper, as if releasing these thoughts somehow put them to rest and archive them for future generations. This time last year we were spending our time with dear friends in Los Osos, CA reeling from leaving NJ and really not knowing what the next week would bring let alone the following year. It seems as though a lifetime has passed and numerous unexpected, even completely blind-siding events have taken place in the 12 short months since--almost too much to take in. There are days when I can hardly bare the thought of some of the details and yet I am unbelievably comforted by God's hand and provision in the same breath.
So as I put the epic year of 2010 to rest I thought a personal update would be nice, if only for myself. As we embark on the second decade that this 21st century is handing us I am, if nothing else, unbelievably grateful for the people that God has put in my life. Mostly my husband--I won't gush because that would be unbearable even for me. But the truth is that he is my rock. My sun truly rises and sets with him, not in a codependent enabling sick way, but I have an admiration and love for him that I am sure is nauseating for some however it is honest, true, and seemingly undying.
The other people in my life that bring me to my knees daily in prayer are my children. They are all amazing blessings and have hearts that I covet. All four of my boys are fantastic little men in the making with great weaknesses and great talents. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would mother four boys. In fact when I was told that our fourth child was a boy I cried for a week. As Owen grows from a lovable and life-changing baby into a little boy my heart sings praises daily for his life being so unexpectedly intertwined with mine. I no longer have a baby in the house, something that has not been true for 11 years. Some days I imagine another angel gracing us with their presence, but most days I am horrified by the thought of having another person to make straight their path and guide them on this mission of life.
Having four kids is a lot. It's a lot of details to remember as life moves at an irritatingly fast pace. This fall I have been overwhelmed by all that it takes to do my job well, and even doing it well means that I forget to pick up Judah early on half day Fridays because I don't even realize that it's Friday already. Luckily my children are full of grace and forgiveness or else the guilt trips I would often take would be to self deprecating. Imagining their futures on the couch of some head shrinker is hard enough on good days, on days when I am suddenly possessed by a demon from the underworld and lose my temper because of spilled water, I can't bear the thought of the damage it might cause. Being a mom is, at all times, a practice in unbelievable patients and amazing kitchen skills.
So being the completely in control person that I am, always calculating and making lists to improve my productivity I researched for a few days before I committed to take on another life form. His form is currently a 65 pound, 8 month old Weimaraner who is wonderful at home due to intense overly time consuming training, however cannot control his impulse to run a thousand miles an hour, dragging me from his 3 foot leash, toward two very small dogs who are protected by a chain link fence--his face now knows to look out for chain link fences. I was completely naive at the amount of dog training I would demand of myself and those around me. Lucas is now my 5th child--oops!--and I love him more than I ever thought I could love an animal. Big jerk.
We are also now dwelling with my mother in a wonderful home that she has provided graciously for our family while we regroup and heal our souls and bodies. I live in the town that I grew up in and spent most of my late teens, twenties and early thirties trying to escape. The irony is fierce and around every corner I expect to see some slightly recognizable face. We love living in Bountiful, it truly fits us to a T. Being in the mountains again has brought me a peace that was forgotten in my attempts to find myself. It's interesting how returning home really does connect you to a part of yourself that must be nestled in your DNA--for the longest time I ran from this illusive section of my being and having returned to this place I am comforted by its familiarity.
I'm no longer in the business of trying to author my future, our struggles have become a part of who we are and they live amongst us like ghosts that follow us around from place to place. They are at times scary and definitely sneak up on us, but as we have begun to recognize their face they play a part in this dance, ebbing and flowing in and out of our lives. I have learned about the fellowship of the suffering that it is real and although unbelievably hard, changing and softening my soul.
My hope for 2011 is to continue to heal. I plan on running a marathon if not a few. I want to be more attentive to the people with whom I come in contact with daily, therefore his will be my last post on Facebook. If you enjoy this blog follow it please and pass it on--this is my status update from now on. I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When someone says, "gimme a dozen..." usually they are referring to eggs or donuts or roses, things that you desire a lot of. When referring to stuff, having a dozen of something implies that you have a lot of it. If I were to have a dozen pairs of jeans that might be considered a large quantity of jeans for one person, I however believe that you can never have too many pairs of jeans-- but I have an obsession with denim. A dozen kids however would be an extraordinary number of children, excessive and weird even, to most humans. My point is that a dozen of something is usually perceived as a lot. Yesterday Joe and I celebrated a dozen years of marriage, that's a lot of marriage. It's 114 months of marriage, 4,745 days of marriage, we've been married for 113,880 hours--it's a lot of I love you's and I forgive you's
It seems like a lot of years when you pull back and break it down, but in real time it has been fleeting, and as I pull out my magnifying glass and study the details each of those years holds, my mind is blown by it all. All the unplanned events including our 4 children, 2 moves across country, countless hours in the emergency room and sitting next to hospital beds, graduate school, bad haircuts (given and received), gaining and losing close friends, gaining and losing weight, and finding that together we can do anything.
This journey of a dozen years has held countless tears and overwhelming sorrow but at the same time countless hugs, kisses and overwhelming love. The man I married 12 years ago yesterday is still my very best friend and the one I long to be with every day that God will allow. He still makes me laugh harder than anyone ever could and is stronger than anyone I know. He saved me from myself and showed me who God is. Loves me and lifts me daily, is forever my shoulder to cry on, indulges my Dave Matthews obsession and my love of denim.
So today as we enter our 13th year of marriage and the beginning of yet another chapter of unpredictability I say "gimme a dozen . . . again"!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I would describe myself as an organized person, I like every item to have a home to go to when I'm done using it. I probably inherited this trait from both of my parents, they are both rather obsessively clean folk with a system for housing their possessions. Through the years I've have waxed and waned in my particular-ness and standard with which I held myself to. Jr. highwasn't a very neat and tidy time in my life, however in high school I organized my closet and room obsessively. I like all my shirts to be hanging in the same direction and like styles grouped together and then similar colors grouped together within their style category.
Through the years I have dedicated hours on organizing systems for the various rooms in the houses we have lived. I've also accepted through the years that not everyone in my family has the same desire to keep their things or my things in the homes that I have assigned them. The notion of entropy (the inevitable breakdown of my systems) that exists in my world is always pressing into me as I live my life, that although organized, is chaotic and crazy. Moving 6 people into one direction, harmoniously and in a timely manner is virtually impossible and trying to get them to buy into a precise system has proven to be utterly frustrating, for me not them. They just don't care. I don't take their apathy personally anymore really, I've tried to develop a more laid back, meet in the middle kind of attitude instead of totally freaking out when I've hit my threshold for disorganization.
My strategy has dwindled to providing a stylish home for something big enough to hide that something so it appears to be organized. This also allows my kids to put stuff "away" on their own the way an 11, 8, 5 and 3 year old boy does--shove, stuff and close. Basically I provide hiding places for their Legos, cars, pirates, action figures, blocks, costumes and weaponry of all calibers. IKEA is my favorite place to find storage pieces mostly because it fits my budget and my style.
Every now and then I am compelled to obsessively organize those hiding places, like today when I sorted and labeled all the toys knowing full well that this gives me peace that surpasses their understanding. Maybe tomorrow I'll hit the refridgerater or keep playing Tetris with the tupperware and condiments as I prepare the meals for these little men whom I love more than organization.

Friday, October 22, 2010

For The Love Of Lucas

Historically I am not a dog lover or pet person, we got rid of our fish tank about 8 years ago and with the flushing of the last tank dweller have been decidedly anti-pet people. However earlier this summer I was overwhelmed with an obsession of finding a dog. The biggest driving force behind this breaking down of my non-pet ideals was my increasing thought that I needed something to protect me while running. With a series of runner attacks in the media and with more of my miles being spent on mountain trails my desire for another level of protection was mounting. I started thinking about carrying mace or a knife or small caliber gun, but although I am not a pet person I am even less of a weapon wielder. The thought of man's best friend running along side me and at the same time deterring some would-be assailant became a very comforting and romantic thought.
So after researching breeds and scanning shelters I came across an ad for an adorable 9 week old Weimaraner named Lucas. It was love at first sight for me and the 4 boys so in a moment of impulse we signed up to be his family, not on paper but in our hearts and minds. I soon realized that this creature was filling a spot in my heart that I never even imagined could exist and at the same time was overwhelmed by the amount of time my mind and physical energy was being given to him. Having a dog is in a lot of ways similar to having a baby except babies don't come armed with sharp teeth and claws. Babies also don't run at breakneck speeds through the house with your lacy bra dangling from their mouths and are usually covered by insurance when an unexpected medical issue arises.
Lucas is now 5 months old, weighs 50 lbs. and moves through our house much like a giraffe on roller skates. Very recently our devotion and commitment to our puppy was challenged when he became suddenly and violently ill. Our vet suspected an intestinal obstruction and as she listed off the battery of tests they would run, which included an overnight hospitalization, anxiety grew as the dollar signs multiplied in my mind and the sorrow in my heart was shocking as I saw Lucas lying on a cold metal table, barely conscience. I am usually very in control of my emotions, almost to a fault, but as I left the vet without my dog I could not control the sobs that were only enhanced by my fear of the bill I would be faced with when all was said and done. I found myself flabbergasted and conflicted theologically as I began praying for my dog and texting prayer requests to friends for this animal that had proved to be filling a spot in our family I never knew had been empty.
Luckily and thankfully Lucas did not have an obstruction only a severe virus treatable with antibiotics, not surgery. And as I tactfully requested a payment plan for his care, envisioning digits that included a comma, the receptionist handed me a bill far less than I expected. Breathing an audible sigh of relief, I grabbed Lucas' leash and walked out with my dog, smiling and thanking God for this gift.
Lucas has made a full recovery and is back to his normal self, which is at times overwhelming, I am still caught very off guard by my love for him even as he steals my underwear and plays keep away with me before the sun has risen or my caffeine is at an appropriate level for his early morning energy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I guess that last post was more of a forward or preamble than a chapter and maybe left a little hanging. I suppose it was more of a starting place on where to take this blog that I have wanted so badly to make a priority, but having the circumstances of life overshadow-reality moving in all too often. So as I was lamenting the falls of the past six years and how this season brings hesitation and often pressure of the holidays to be wonderful, yet not panning out as . However as we embark on a new fall season my hesitation, although still very much there has lightened.

We have a new beginning in a new town at the foot of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains and as the leaves are becoming red in the hills above Bountiful I am thankful that next week is Halloween and Joe is doing ok. It seems an answer for his health has been found and we are working on moving on. The dry fall air is good and conjures thoughts of soup and fires and all those cozy things. Maybe this season will truly be a season of healing--if we could keep those nasty cold and flu germs at bay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Turning the Page, Adding A New Chapter

Maybe it's that time of year or time of day or time of the month that is prompting this post. Or maybe it's because my mind doesn't sleep and I have too many jumbled thoughts roaming around up there like an old woman in a nursing home, not really sure how to get out or where to go. For the last six years fall and winter have been dark and hopeless times as I have watched my best friend and love of my life enter into the blackness of crippling pain and undiagnosed suffering which has robbed us of a life we could almost touch and smell only to be held out of reach and squashed. A terrifying and lonely place living inside a glass house of sorts as onlookers wondered from the outside, questioning our very integrity; casting judicious glances, unhelpful advice and ultimately stones which shattered all that we thought we were.

It's crazy, really, how the events of the past year have tried and called into question everything I held to be true about humanity, friendship and love. As the axis shifted and whirled our universe on a different path, my soul has bled and my endless supply of tears, it would seem, could've wash away all the pain and yet it remains. These scars I carry are fresh and new, tender like a sunburn or fresh tattoo-- I hope the image left behind is that one closer to the image of Christ and less of me.

This week a friend asked if I had a blog, even a secret one and I wished, in that moment, that I had. But the gnawing at my heart became a more intense desire to actually tell my story as it unfolds. Let it out and see where it goes.