Monthly Archives: May 2022

Land

Cute childhood memories are nice and all, but I have my limits. I was starting to feel for them after multiple attempts to fish with no results. My grandpa and I fished when I was little, which means I can cast and put a worm on a hook, but I thought one of our former counselors might be able to assist with more success. He came out last Thursday to fish with the boys. All together they had seven catches.

One of the fish they caught three times. The third time they caught him, he’d swallowed the hook. He wasn’t going to survive long following the removal. Each of the boys took turns holding a stick with the intent to end the fish’s misery. None of the boys were able to bring themselves to kill it, which somewhere in my heart was a relief for me to hear. They picked him up and lowered him into the water, where he died.

The lap pool was full again this morning. I did most of the same things I did last week, minus the talking and going with a friend part. She wasn’t able to make it this morning, so I left around 6:30 and was back in time to start school with the boys. They were surprisingly still asleep, and soundly so, when I got back. On Friday Josh took the kids to a late drive-in movie. I stayed home, waking around 1AM when they returned.

We’ve got a few days to go before camp season starts. Over the weekend I stopped by a local landscaping business and ordered six tons of glacier/rainbow rock. A third of it is for the front of our house. The rest, tentatively, is to be split between the chapel and the dining hall. The boys and I spent the afternoon weeding in the front of the house and washing siding. There’ll be more of the outside work to do tomorrow .

One of the boys was with my father-in-law again today. The fields are all planted, but he said they had other little things they could work on and do. The big kids have this week left of school and then they’re done for the summer. School for me was finished after the first week of May. I told the boys we’re doing summer school this year, which is something they’ve heard from me before. I told them again that I meant it this time.

Saved

I used to want to write a book telling women they needed to have more sex with their husbands. I thought most of the world’s men were sexually starved, addicted to pornography, and in need of women who understood their needs. Wives having more sex with their husbands would be a way to show love to them, to experience increased closeness and enjoyment themselves, and would basically eliminate society’s marriage problems.

Women had a duty and special role in saving men. The best movies were not the ones where the damsel in distress was suddenly rescued by a man, as if the only thing that made him great was her helplessness and physical weakness. It was no surprise to me that Wonder Woman was directed by a woman, with every dream and fantasy resonating as true, all while showing that the truest feminine spirit was not anti-male.

Sexual creatures are powerful creatures. I struggle to grasp and know next to nothing about the proposed fantasies that involve a woman being bound and tied up by a man. Submission in theory was not a problem for me. Most personal sexual fantasies put me in a position of power. Either the man was so taken by my sexual energy and presence, rendering him weak and helpless himself, or I was offering my body to comfort him.

The innocent desires I will sometimes bring up, when the bonds of marital closeness encourage words to flow more freely, allowing for the knowing and true expressions of the soul. I can talk about the man next door without a woman beside him, how at one time I thought about climbing in through his window in the middle of the night, then crawling into his bed. There’s the passing hint of attraction when you’re around someone new.

It doesn’t seem wrong until I think about actually doing it, and even more so, him doing it. If wanting to build a life of any deep and lasting value, there isn’t space in a relationship for any outsiders capturing the body or heart of the other. Fidelity sounds romantic, and I would say that it is, but there were years when monogamy was physically painful, so consumed was I with grief that I would never again be newly explored or discovered.

Time would mercifully cure this, though at times the truth to me still seems harsh: If people do not amend their ways, if either one decides they cannot go on or will no longer forgive, if God does not perform the miracle, then the marriage is doomed from the moment it begins. Biblical covenant love is no joke. Give it time and you will know the power behind for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Some topics seem to inexplicably find their way to us. I sometimes wonder why this one seems to be mine, one that has stayed with me over the course of years and years. The church is often criticized for not talking about sexual issues openly enough, and in the instances when they do, they’re criticized for not talking about it in an appropriate way. At this point I am thankful that I never wrote that book, and wouldn’t write it anymore.

Presently

The extra-curricular activities are winding down for the school year. Last night was the final baseball game of the season. Tonight we attended the senior awards ceremony, which included a few academic awards for juniors. Our son received the awards for Math and Religion. He has always excelled in school and done so mostly with relative ease. I think it’s easy to take for granted the things we admire about our loved ones, to where we don’t take the time to speak the things we genuinely feel inside. I am proud of him for what he has accomplished in his school years and thankful to God for gifting him with the ability to remember things and do well in school.

Today was a good day, even as I spent another mid-morning awake but in bed. I was half still tired and half still down and in a slump, with my aunt and grandma’s travel in my thoughts and my prayers. Yesterday I went swimming for the first time since November. I met with a pastor’s wife friend and we swam for 20 minutes in the lap pool before transferring over to the rec pool for more stretching and standing movements while simultaneously catching up on life. I felt amazingly good afterwards, the best I have felt since this whole thing started. The boys had come with me and worked on school and drank coffee in the lobby. I tried not to torture them with an endless banishment of wondering how long they’d have to sit there and was back within the hour.

Josh has still been doing the majority of the grocery shopping. After I was sick again in December and early January, he picked it back up. Once I started school and he entered into his slower season for camp, the shopping was just something he kept on doing. I never intended for him to do it this long, but I do feel like it’s been an extended relief and honestly something that was best for me to not do. He asked if I could go today after my appointment and before it was time to pick up our daughter. The boys stayed here while he helped a school group. I still find pushing the cart and transferring the food to its places to be very different, but with rest again, possible.

Near

“But as for me the nearness of God is my good…”
~Psalm 73:28~

My grandma and aunt are flying out tomorrow morning. I talked to my mom the other day and heard from her a little bit more of the story. I’m also wishing I’d never brought this particular story up here. I’d already told my sister that I didn’t have it in me to hear any more stories. My personal role in the family confusions has changed from being the one to call and say, “Tell me everything”, to being the person who had plenty of things to say myself, to this time, where I oddly felt numb and without desire or words to speak or strength to listen. It wasn’t a place I wanted to stay in long. I neither have it in me anymore to be too upset at anyone for any prolonged amounts of time.

I keep wanting to talk more about my personal experiences with anger here, but can’t seem to feel right about most of the words I try and use to do it. They say that underneath anger are more vulnerable emotions. Hurt, disappointment, and sadness often coincide with anger. At least when I feel it, and hear others describe it, disappointment often sounds like such a petty emotion. Judging emotions is often easier than admitting or feeling them. I’m newly still learning how to live in that tension of not dismissing or denying the disappointments of life, but also holding space for the things that went well, and unexpectedly so, in ways you couldn’t have thought up on your own.

This is also where I’m at. I feel like those crossroad moments are more recognizable. The crossroad moments are when we’re simply going along and an opportunity presents itself to choose the old way or a new way. The wonderful thing about time going on, is that we often have chances to make different choices than the ones we made before. We are given new hearts, and slowly given minds transformed by God for different patterns. God does not change. To this very day, as he did in former times, God sets before us life and death. Turn the page and you’ll find the word is very near to us, in our mouths and in our hearts, filling us ever deeply with a love that surpasses knowledge.

Detached

I barely even remember my junior prom. One of my friends from school was going with one of the male counselors from camp. I had known him from working there, and she had met him after coming down as a camper for high school week. They came by and picked me up. I hadn’t even planned to go, but decided at the last minute that I guess I would. At the thrift store I’d found a used and decent forest green dress for nine dollars.

After freshman and sophomore year, I pretty much thought school dances were stupid. If I went to dances, I didn’t go with dates. I went with friends. One of the exceptions to this was the time I went with one of the boys in our youth group. Our youth group was small, consisting of me, my two sisters, the friend I went to junior prom with, our next-door neighbor, and three to four boys. He sadly ended up taking his own life several years later.

Phil never asked me to any dances. I never understood this. We had just started going out before I left for camp my first summer. I don’t remember how that dissolved, except that I became part of completely different world. I fell for the first college male that I saw, who I hoped could be the one I was destined to marry. That same year there was another guy who female staff didn’t like in that way. I didn’t understand this either.

Humans can be quite shallow at times. He often seemed to me to be more spiritual than the others. He also played the guitar, which made me wonder if he was perhaps the one I was supposed to marry. I was only at camp for the last half of the summer, but during that time we’d stay up in the dining hall, holding hands and praying together on a semi-regular basis. For the final staff get together of the summer, I chose his car.

When camp was over, whenever we’d talk on the phone, he’d sometimes tell me about the less than godly things he’d done in his life. He too was from a larger Christian family, which made his confessions all the more puzzling. When my dad had a possible job transfer in the state where this young college man was living, I thought maybe this was a sign that God was bringing us closer together. Our family didn’t end up moving.

He came down one weekend and picked me up. He was visiting a friend at Illinois State. I followed him into the co-ed dorm, one of those sin-infested places of fornication and debauchery. I don’t even remember what happened there, other than that I wasn’t enjoying myself and wanted to go home. He took me home and those days were over. I later decided that it hadn’t been worth getting my braces off half a year early for him.

Times

I told her this is the one time I give you full permission to feel like absolute crap on purpose for something that ultimately doesn’t matter. We were all on the bleachers at the sectional track meet, mapping out our cheering stations. I’d be right past the goal post on the first 100M curve. Dad would be down at the 200M mark, Grandma at 300M, and the four yelling brothers plus a camp son spread out along the final straightaway.

I had taken a xanax about 20 minutes before the race, which did nothing to stop my pounding heart as the runners got started. I’d been sitting at my station trying to be calm. She was in the slower of the two heats, and the competition had already been looked up online. Several of the girls she’d be running with had 800M times in the mid to low 2:50’s. Her personal record was 3:00 flat, and her only goal for the meet was to break it.

She ran her 800 in 2:51.89, won the heat, and got 6th overall out of 17 runners. We were all so incredibly proud and happy for her. I returned to my normal current mom self where I remind the kids to listen to their bodies, that they have nothing to prove to anyone, that these races aren’t worth overextending or injuring yourself. It’s hard for me to watch my kids run, but we had fun. The medicine helped with the rest of the night.

I’ve been craving some time to sit down and deeply write. Since my visit up to my parents house, plans have changed regarding where my grandma will be living. After visiting the house again and thinking through a few more things, my parents didn’t think the house they were moving to would be a good fit for my grandma to live in. Between my aunts and parents, in one of those difficult and potentially triggering and stressful conversations, the decision was made for her to move back to Florida with my aunt and my uncle.

There was a reason I didn’t have too many feelings about any of this before. That reason is because I know how plans often turn into different ones. I also know God though, and the ways he watches over and cares for his people. None of this is a surprise to him. My aunt seemed at peace when she talked about it, which helped me feel at peace as well. I don’t know if saying everything happens for a reason is some kind of protective coping mechanism or what, but it does seem to help in various times when we don’t understand, as we look to him taking each day as it comes.

Trumpets

The boys and I traveled up to my parents’ house again today. My two aunts were in town to spend time with my grandma for Mother’s Day. We left this morning around 7:40 AM and returned home nearly twelve hours later. My sister was also there with two of her girls. My grandma wasn’t feeling well today and spent most of the time that we were there in bed.

One of the things I learned after my grandpa died last year was the extent to which he was involved in prison ministry. I knew as a kid that grandpa sometimes left in the evenings to go to the prison. I hadn’t put together that this is what he did nearly every Saturday evening for 25 years. He and a friend did devotions with the men, using the Gideon bibles that lived in a box in the basement. I remember the bibles but hadn’t remembered who and what the bibles were for.

My grandpa also brought his trumpet and played there. He and his friend would invite the men to sing hymns with them. I don’t know if the men ever actually sang, but they each had papers with printed out words. The thought of a trumpet in the prison made me happiest. We spoke again of the great blessings of our lives, safe in the hope of a life without end.

Cast

We had a wonderful Mother’s Day. The kids and I went to church in the morning. Our new pastor has started using different services from the hymnal. Today we did Divine Service Setting II. In Hoyleton we used to do it where the services matched whatever week of the month we were on. The first week was setting I, the second week setting II, the third week was setting III, etc. My favorite of the divine services is setting four.

God was merciful and blessed us with a relatively open Saturday yesterday. The game that was supposed to be close to two hours away was cancelled due to rain. We had a Saturday like we used to have, in what seems to be now a former life season, where everyone pitches in and helps clean up the house and makes it look nice. After church we lightly tidied up again before joining up with Grandma and Papa for lunch.

A passage from Lamentations stood out to me this morning in church: “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men (Lamentations 3:31-33)”. I’m thankful tonight for the ways the Lord brings us back from where we were cast, that we might live with him today in peace.

Nocturnal

Spring has been doing what spring does. Anymore I don’t even think about plants or flowers until May comes around. The weather forecast predicts temperatures next week in the high 80’s and even low 90’s, which I find almost laughable in these expanding days of 40-50 degree drizzles. This evening, my daughter and I paused by the flowers and herbs in the outdoor tent beside the local County Market, but not for long.

Regularly stored bathroom items were in need of replenishing. Also on my list was mouthwash, floss sticks, toilet paper, and ice cream. Most of that we picked up at Walgreens, along with another round of vitamins, which wasn’t on my list until I saw them and remembered the ones I bought last month were already almost gone. My daughter eyed a bag of dried apricots, then put them back. We skipped the ice cream.

We walked through the grocery store, picking up a few personal snacks. There is a phenomenon of food not lasting long enough to stay full. I remember the knowing of similar days. I told her she needed to talk to her aunt Jess about marking your territory when sharing a fridge with other food consuming people. She was always better at recognizing her need to be separate, writing her name on food in permanent marker.

Into the cart we placed bananas, oranges, granola, yogurt. One of the sets of bananas was more yellow, and the other more green to hopefully last a little longer. When we were loading bags into the car I once again thought about the ease with which I swipe this card and money is just there to buy whatever it is I’ve brought to the counter. I told her that girls need to be spoiled sometimes. I meant more to say that she was loved.

I didn’t see the college aged girl politely waiting for me to finish loading so she could get into her car. I moved faster, climbing back into the passenger seat. The Christian radio station played as we maneuvered out of the grocery store parking lot. We commented on the occasional radio predictability. I opened up my phone to put on Nichole Nordeman. It wasn’t long and we were home. Dad carried for me the heavier bags.

Sons

You know, I missed you
when during the show
I saw your brothers
but you weren’t there

The child from above
sat wide-eyed again
times and miles
bore witness, before
baseball, there was space

I cried for a day
in the in between
moments when dad
said I’m confusing
the perfect with good

It’s true we weren’t perfect
but I’d be lying
if I told you I never
wished you’d tell me
I love you so much, mom

But I don’t wish that on you
the pressure of having
or wanting to make me happy
Your love was happiness
enough for the ages

You’ll ever be