The camp kids found a baby raccoon yesterday. I don’t know exactly what the details were of finding it. But before the church service started down at the outdoor chapel, my daughter was walking toward the house holding the raccoon wrapped in a towel. The next thing I knew we were looking for syringes to feed it the very little amount left of heavy cream I still had in the fridge.
Again, I don’t fully remember, as I was not fully with it. To no surprise at all, Sunday was pretty much a rest day for me. The hog roast came and went. The boys went down to the beach to swim. They came back when I was on the phone with my mom and sister who I’d called to pass the time with after I’d woken up from a nap feeling like I still couldn’t understand why it was like this.
Today I started feeling better again. They brought another raccoon home. Later I heard them talking about another and I told somebody not to bring home anymore. I’d already been receiving texts about how to feed an orphaned raccoon, someone had already gone to the store and bought kitten formula, and they’re saying that after nine more weeks or so they could wean and eat solids.
No one seems to understand that you can’t just assume these now three raccoons are going to live, that they are probably all now very dehydrated and are going to slowly starve without being able to nurse no matter how much liquid we’re able to get in them. I went to Walgreens and bought a few syringes, soft tissues to use for where the mother would normally help them.
I’m going to try and call an animal shelter or something tomorrow. They use their voices and climb around feeling. When they nap again you feel relieved, just as you did with a human baby, except you know their bellies aren’t full like they need to be. You would feed them if you could. There are frozen mangoes in the fridge. You know God cares for his creatures great and small.
For the past couple of years I’ve been operating under and finding comfort in the assumption that God is drawing me out of something old and bringing me into something new. Whatever we’re going through, whatever situation or pain we are currently in, somehow whatever it is seems bearable as long as we know it is not for nothing, that there is something better on the other side.
I suppose this is the thinking I’ve been questioning lately. People with cancer often undergo brutal chemotherapy treatments in hopes these treatments will extend their life, halt the disease or even cure it. For some, complete remission comes about, and for others, the disease progresses. It’s not a perfect analogy but it illustrates the pains a person will willingly endure if there’s a reason.
I’m still thinking about the track meet and all it entailed. When my sister’s fiancé Brandon died, we had a get-together here at camp on the day that was supposed to have been their wedding. It was me, my sisters, my mom, and a few of my sister’s friends who were also going to be bridesmaids. It rained on and off that day and I took it as a sign that God was crying with us.
It was during that weekend that I had a contentious encounter with my mom. It was also during that same weekend that I suffered a terrible feeling of regret, realizing that life was far too short to keep rehashing the past and clinging to resentment and unforgiveness, though I wouldn’t have been able to name it then. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth missing out on any more time.
I do remember learning that lesson then, and I do think it changed the way I think about my family. It made me not want to be so slow at learning lessons, to be a freer person unbound by things that didn’t need to bind me anymore. And even though I’ve tried to be a devoted, kind, supportive, and loving mother to my kids, I still have had to ask them many times for forgiveness and still do.
Yesterday was graduation. My son gave his co-valedictorian speech, which he wouldn’t have been able to do if they made the finals. As senior class president, he was also the one who led the tassel movement ceremony for his classmates. I actually barely cried at all, shedding all my tears along the way and even now. My parents, in-laws, and my sister and I sat together in the seats.
We went to a friend’s graduation party afterward. His grandmother saw me when we walked in, and she waved. I went over to her and we reminisced about the good times we’d had while we were living in Hoyleton. I’d take the kids with me to the nearby town garage sales. This woman’s garage sale was one I frequented each year, finding boy shoes and coats to store away for new seasons.
I remembered the 4×4 finals were supposed to be happening around this time. I pulled it up on my phone while eating my snacks and brought my phone over and we watched it together, decidedly rooting for the team of the town we were currently standing in, that had beat them in sectionals and every other time. Auburn ended up finishing third. “Man, we would’ve gotten smoked”, he said.
Ethan and I went early on Wednesday to the track meet. We met my parents in Taylorville and picked up my sister. I was super glad to have her there because it just helps to have another person sometimes. We pulled into the hotel where Josh had reserved us a room. At first I was concerned that the parking lot was so empty, like if it was going to end up being a sketchy place.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, Mom”, he said, and I thought, “Well, whatever” and went inside. It was actually very nice. Simple but clean and would serve the purpose of getting us acclimated and housing us so we could wake-up nearby. The hotel was only minutes from the stadium, which we found after we had checked in and brought in our stuff. Two of the other boys were at the track.
It was fun to sit and watch in the giant stadium where there were other teams practicing their jumps, running, hand-offs, and blocks. The bleacher section was massive compared to anything we have seen for the other meets. My sister and I just chilled for an hour while the boys stretched and practiced their things. It was nice to watch them and I was glad we had come.
We went to Jimmy John’s afterward. The 6-inch Subway sandwiches are too small but the 8-inch Jimmy Johns ones are just a little too big if you eat the whole thing at once. Ethan got two 8-inch subs and ate them both. My sister ate all of hers as well. The rest of mine I saved and ate for breakfast. We had a good night’s sleep and were up and out the door to find another restaurant.
I didn’t want him to have fast food so we went to this little Family Restaurant place that was less than a block away from the hotel. I told them to order what they wanted and they had a good breakfast. I was already full from my sandwich, yogurt, banana, and granola bar I’d brought along for snacks. A couple of times I said, “You don’t have to eat it all. You can take some home.”
We didn’t have to check out until 11 so after breakfast we went back to the room. Dad and the rest of kids met us right as we had packed up and checked out. We found a free place to park that was further away. Hannah walked with me while everyone else went on ahead. We found a section of small and empty bleachers and watched the meet from there until we all moved again.
I’d found a spot by the 300M curve where there were trees and it seemed like a good place to sit. We camped out there and various people went for various walks to walk around. Eventually me, Hannah, and the boys sat by the tree while Dad and Elianna went up to the main bleachers. Once it was closer, the boys and Hannah also went up there. I stayed put and was fine doing so.
When it was time for the 4×4’s I walked away. Down the sidewalk toward the main part of campus. I could watch the whole thing live on my phone. They were in the last heat of the meet so there were four other relay heats before them. The times kept popping up and I was starting to think that they might actually have a chance at going to finals. My aunt was also staying updated.
She called when it was their turn so I kept her updated on the progress. When it updated the boys were in second place. They stayed in second for the entire heat and ended up placing 12th overall. It wasn’t quite enough to make finals but it was just enough to beat the old school record. We were all very happy they’d been able to do that. I was grateful to God for a special day.
On the days when I don’t feel well, it seems to be worse in the pre-noon hours. My mind has felt so blank and incapable of functioning on basic levels. I haven’t had energy at all but for basic functions revolving around taking care of basic needs. Food, water, sleep, movement. I’ve found myself concerned again, wondering if there’s something else I’m missing, that needs to be done.
I’m supposed take our son tomorrow to stay two hours away in hotel for the Thursday State track meet. At this point I can’t even imagine that being possible. I asked my sister to come with me just to have another person there for support. Originally we thought the boys had to be there a day early to practice, but they don’t actually have to be there until Thursday, so that could still change.
There was a post on Instagram this evening that completely irritated me. The vast majority of this woman’s posts provoke this kind of frustrated response. Ironically part of it was addressing the way women respond to what they see on other women’s social media accounts. I feel like I just sound like a troll whenever I try to comment on her posts. I’m just going to write about it here.
A slide by slide response to the eight slides recently posted by @__dearsister__ The original text will be reprinted first, followed by whatever I end up saying about it.
Slide 1: Insulating ourselves from the things that trigger sinful responses in us doesn’t deal with the sin at all.
My thoughts: Hmmm. Okay…(swipe)
Slide 2: “I feel jealousy when I see what other women have, so I’m going to unfollow women who make me feel that way.”
Sure, you could do that. And maybe for a season you should.
But you could also deal with the lack of love in your heart, evidenced by the fact that you fail to rejoice with those who rejoice, and instead practice loving your sisters in Christ.
My thoughts: Wow. Okay. That escalated quickly…
This is social media we’re talking about. I’m not saying these people aren’t real, but they aren’t in our lives the way the people in our lives are. You can follow up to hundreds, even thousands of different people on social media. Unfollowing accounts and narrowing social media input is probably more needed these days rather than less so. If a person chooses to unfollow an account then that up to them. You don’t have to respect it, but it can be acknowledged as a personal option without assuming the person unfollowing an account because of jealousy isn’t dealing with the sin, and implying the cure for jealousy is to rejoice with and practice loving your sisters.
Slide 3: “I feel resentful when my husband gets time for hobbies and I don’t, so I’m going to make sure I get my own hobbies so I don’t destroy our marriage with resentment.”
Sure, you could do that. There’s nothing wrong with hobbies.
But this ignores the ugly fact that your love for your husband and home is not truly selfless nor unconditional, and that some dark stuff comes out when you don’t get what you think you deserve.
My thoughts: Ugly? Not truly selfless nor unconditional? (sigh…)
Resentment in a relationship is very detrimental. It is a sign that something needs to be addressed and worked through. Recognizing it and taking steps to address the resentment and its causes is a good thing. Healthy relationships require working through the details of your lives to ensure that both partners are able to receive important things they need. Does your husband need time for his hobbies? That is something the two of you can work out. Do you need time for hobbies? That is something also the two of you can work out.
Slide 4: It feels good to remove the things that bring our ugliness to the surface. We don’t like to stare that gunk in the face. We don’t want to see ourselves like that. But seeing our sin in all its grotesque glory is part of the process of sanctification.
My thoughts: Sin is an ugly thing that has greatly defiled the human race. None of us are immune from its effects and we all posses a sinful nature that has been part of humanity since the fall of mankind. The greater part that also matters is there is a man named Jesus who has come and made a way for all our sins to be removed.
Slide 5: Pragmatism is not the way of the cross.
My thoughts: Love is.
Slide 6: Sure, we could avoid ever crossing our children’s wills so as to prevent any ugly display of defiance in them. But as their parents we recognize that this is something they must overcome.
In the same way, our Father often gives us the grace of an obstacle in our path so that we might learn to climb over with His help, but we find it easier to navigate a different route around it altogether.
My thoughts: …….
Slide 7: When we encounter something or someone that brings out the worst in us, is our response, “Away with it!”? or will we respond like Mary: “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
“Father, what are You teaching me through this?”
My thoughts: Wait, wasn’t that Samuel?...I’mnot trying to be mean…
Slide 8: Yes, there are times to remove the temptation.
When it comes to sexual sin, for example, the prescription in the Bible is not to stand and fight but to RUN.
Other situations are best avoided for the purposes of healing or grief.
This requires discernment.
In general, though, those things which rub us the wrong way are valuable diagnostic tools if we could only see and respond to them as such.
My thoughts: This post is a diagnostic tool serving to reveal that I still struggle to read these Christian womanhood posts that seem so often to come from an ungracious place. Is that me making a personal judgement? Yes it is. I get tired of reading them, the mixture of good with the words of accusation. You can live like that for a while. You can enjoy those kinds of “convicting” words as they provide some sense of control and direction, but it will not last. It can’t be all up to you.
The kids had their baccalaureate service this afternoon. It was our church’s turn to host. Josh was the liturgist and the pastor who married us served as the preacher. It was nice to see the kids walk in wearing their caps and gowns. The processional hymn was Christ Be My Leader. We used to sing it together but I don’t remember where. I didn’t bother trying to tough my way through the service.
I went to the cry room and watched it from there. The crying happened and then I was fine again, without the heavier feeling of trying to hold in your emotions. They have rocking chairs in the cry room with a speaker you can adjust, which makes the services more comfortable in times like this. Everything relaxed and I was grateful for the chairs, for the room, for all that has kept me and provided a refuge.
There was a voter’s meeting later tonight. Everyone else stayed here this time. There were people coming into the camp that needed checking in and added directions. Staff training starts this Wednesday already, which is hard to believe but also not. When the meeting, almost two hours long, was over, I came home. Josh was cleaning up the kitchen. I gladly ate the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner.
It’s surprising how much rage can still be suddenly present at a moment’s notice. Anger is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn to curb. Pain and that kind of consuming anger go hand-in-hand. I’ve been blessed with the gift of strong emotions which doesn’t feel like a gift when the emotions are painful. A book that helped give a name to the feeling was The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson.
I’d always read shame described as the state accompanying the thoughts and feelings of “I am bad”. That description never quite resonated with me. My pain was more aligned with the thoughts and ideas that “I am good. Why doesn’t anyone else seem to see it?” People did see it and they actually told me all the time, but even when they did it still would hurt because no one seemed to see the pain I had.
When I read it now it doesn’t seem all that impactful. But this is what Curt Thompson wrote in his book, “We don’t necessarily have to have words to know we are happy, sad or tormented. Words are extraordinarily helpful, but they are not the source of our torment. And so our narratives begin with sensations, images and feelings; merge into a word or a thought…This is critical in understanding how
shame begins to weave its way into our lives. It does not wait for us to acquire language to insert itself. It primarily amounts to a shift in sensory-affective tone, an emotional shearing.” There was an image, an repeated memory that came to mind as soon as I read the words “emotional shearing”. I knew what that was. I knew what that felt like. And then I realized that shame was something God didn’t want for me.
My brother stopped by for a short overnight visit. He came down to spend the day with my parents for my dad’s birthday. He helped mom with a couple of her chicken coop projects. They’ve spent the spring raising around a dozen chickens. They have a coop built now but are wanting to extend it so the chickens have more space.
Last night we watched a Taylor Swift documentary called Miss Americana. Neither of us had seen it. I’d checked the Common Sense reviews to make sure it was appropriate enough to watch with the kids around. The biggest issue based on that was the swearing, and I would agree. If I could choose again I wouldn’t have watched it with them there.
We went on two walks while he was here. Both times we went down to the lake, the second time a little farther to the other side. It’s starting to have that sparkling look again, which I like. The rest of the day was also very enjoyable. Josh and the big kids worked on mowing the fields. The boys and I weeded around the house. The sun felt good.
I really don’t know what to think about things right now. It still just seems like I need to be so much more mindful than I ever was before about how my body is responding to events or feeling throughout the day. A good day like today can still involve resting several hours. We went out to eat with my in-laws this evening for 8th grade graduation.
It’s definitely been a busier time which makes a difference. I’ve felt impatient over the past several days, just with the various ways this very much still is affecting my life. I was sensitive before, but it was never like this. I am glad for the things I am able to do and the level of normalcy that I am still able to have now. I do continue to pray for more.
Every time we check of another one of these May things I feel just a little more sense of relief. Tonight the boys had their track sectional in Gillespie. Josh drove one of the buses so they left around 1:45 to get to the school in time to leave the school on time. One of the boys went with him and two stayed with me. We had 8th grade graduation tonight at the grade school.
Grandma and Papa met us there. I had not been feeling great most of the day. In the afternoon the boys watched cartoons while I rested and tried to fall asleep. I think I did for a short bit in there. My son came in and asked if I was still going to cut his hair. I’d forgotten about it until he said something. We got out the clippers and I trimmed up the sides before we left. He couldn’t find his tie.
So we went downstairs and dug around in his drawers till we found it. There wasn’t really time to figure out how to put in on. I just told him to bring it with him and he grabbed the How to Start a Fire and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew book. It has lots of things in there like how to tie a tie. He worked on that while we drove to school. I told him he could probably ask his teacher.
But he figured it out. He didn’t want to wear his suit jacket and I said that was fine. We arrived around 5:45, when the class was heading outside to the quad for pictures. Also on the way to school he took the hems out of his pants from when I’d sewed them up a year or so ago. After breaking apart a few of the seams the rest came easy and he was able to make his pants a little longer.
They had a nice ceremony. Through the evening Dad was texting us updates about what was happening there with the track events. One of the boys was ranked first in the 800M but ended up finishing fourth after an almost four-way tie. He was disappointed after having trained through the winter to hopefully win. The 4×4 relay team finished second. I watched a video of it later.
I feel like that all sounds really hectic, especially the part about getting ready for graduation. It actually wasn’t too hectic at all and felt very laid back and unrushed, at least that’s how it felt for me. The outfit details I thought we had worked through before but I also hadn’t followed up earlier that day as far as double-checking. I pondered how different things can be sometimes.
The boys lost their regional baseball game last night. It was their final game of the season if they didn’t end up winning, which they didn’t. I was kind of emotional about all of it once the game was finally over. There’ve been a lot of moments like this with me lately. As normal as it is, it’s something I can hardly write about because it feels too personal and deep. I mention it other places.
My journal a lot of times is where I pray and ask God things. It’s like writing out prayers or writing notes and letters to God. Sometimes I jot down a few details about the day, or note whether I was more tired or not. For three nights in a row I woke up damp and had to change clothes in the middle of the night. So I wrote that down, not sure if it was hormones or a low-grade fever finally breaking.
Today was a nice day. It rained in the morning, the kind of rain that feels like natural permission to take it slow. I did some laundry, read Ecclesiastes, and wrote a little in the morning but never went back to it. We had piano lessons this afternoon. On the way home the four of us stopped at the store. They each got lemonade. One picked out the Minute Made brand. The other two chose Calypso.
“Eternal Spirit of the living Christ, I know not how to ask or what to say; I only know my need, as deep as life, And only You can teach me how to pray.” ~Eternal Spirit of the Living Christ, LSB 769~
For Sunday School we have a 10-15 minute music opening in the sanctuary with the kids. The pastor’s wife leads it. The two younger classes are there, so the preschool class and the K-5 class. The class I teach usually has 3-5 kids depending on which ones are there. I really enjoy the kids in my class. In the past I’ve taught junior high and high school, preschool, and 3rd-5th grade.
I’m finding the K-5 class to be an ideal age, at least for me right now. With older kids you have to be interesting enough to keep their attention. With the preschool kids you have to have a plan of things to keep them busy. With these middle kids, they are automatically interested, and have grown accustomed to sitting still. They like to learn, draw, read, ask questions, and act out the stories.
During the opening we sang the above verse and song. For some reason I got choked up while singing it. The tune was familiar, but I don’t recall ever seeing the words. Lately I just haven’t felt like myself, in that my heart is hurting but I don’t really know why, or can’t put words to it. I saw the words “as deep as life” and I knew that whatever it is it’s something, a comfort that only God can give.
We had a nice weekend. The kids were mostly home yesterday and today. During this most recent time when I was in bed more I’d texted my mom a list of my problems. She zeroed in on the part about the dryer being broken. I told her that when I felt well enough to go into town, I hadn’t had time, and when I did have time, I hadn’t felt well enough. I just hadn’t been able to get to it.
We ended up talking on the phone after that. For a tedious 45 minutes she got me to answer questions such as where camp typically gets its appliances, whether the dryer is gas or electric, what kind of plug is downstairs next to it. I listened while she called around to Lowe’s, Menards, Dick Van Dykes, getting information about their delivery availability, prices, and old dryer pick-up.
By the end of the call she had texted me a website, a phone number, instructions even on how far to scroll down to. I was going to run it by Josh just to make sure we were good on using camp information and money to buy it. The next day she texted me asking if there’d been any dryer progress. I thought to myself, “I have to do this. She basically just laid it all out there for me.”
The very next day they delivered a dryer. All I’d done was called, told them the number of the dryer I wanted, and given them the payment and address information. They could drive their truck around to the back so that way they wouldn’t have to deal with the stairs. It felt amazing to have a dryer again, and this weekend it was nice to have the laundry flow going and fold warm clothes.
We met Papa in town for lunch after church. We ate at MCL which is a place I like because you can just go through a line without having to sit down, order, and wait. By the time that church and Sunday School are over I’m usually feeling ready to go back home. Sometimes I do but today was alright. We had a good lunch together, then came home and enjoyed the rainy Sunday afternoon.
The big kids had a field trip at Six Flags today. Dad went along since he was one of the teachers. They left around 7 and came home a little past 8PM. After dropping off the boys at school I went to the Y to swim for a while. Before I went inside from the parking lot I talked to my sister on the phone for close to an hour. We didn’t mean to talk that long but sometimes that kind of thing just happens.
I can’t figure out people’s swimming schedules. Sometimes when I go the lap lanes are hardly being used at all. Most of the time there are at least two open. The past two times I’ve gone all the lanes have been full. People are pretty nice about sharing lanes when this happens. These past two times I’ve had to share a lane. You just make sure to stay off to your side and it works.
This afternoon the boys and I started cleaning up the front of the house. It’s that time of year when I feel the call to pay attention to what the outside of the house looks like. It really can get to be such a mess and I don’t even notice it or think anything of it. There’s more to be done but it looks a lot better now. I still need to get some colored pots with flowers, plus new welcome mats for the doors.