The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I had to wait a day to get over it all. Yesterday…started out with the Bad and the Ugly but ended with the Good.

For those of you not reading from the Michiana area…yesterday was quite frankly…

….schmitty weather.

I went out at 6:45 am to warm up the truck and it was cold, and the weekends vomitous (is that even a word?) of snow was on the ground, but that was it. Fifteen minutes later I gather Paige and go out to take her to the bus and it was………..ridiculous. Wind whipping, snow stinging, can’t see past my arm snowfall, and freezing. I lock Paige in the truck (nice and almost warm) and run and yell at Breanna to get her butt in gear we are leaving NOW. It took me almost an hour and a half to make what normally is a 30 minute journey if I hit all the lights red. Somewhere in the half dozen times that I had to get out of my truck to clean the ice off my wipers, I lost my cell phone. Luckily, after I came back to pick Paige up from school, I found it. Frozen under the snow in the parking lot….broken in half. (but the SIM card is still good)

That was the BAD.

Originally when I had left my house, I had my hair looking pretty cute. For those of you familiar with my naturally curly tresses…after braving the elements, that was the UGLY.

When I came home, I was dreading the fact that Dave would have to spend hours shoveling our drive and sidewalks. As I pulled up to my house, I had to take a moment to pull my chin out of my lap so that I could turn into my driveway. My COMPLETELY PLOWED driveway. Someone had plowed our drive and our front walk. I have NO CLUE who it was. I got out of my truck and just stood there turning in circles waiting for someone to come out and claim their good deed. No one appeared. So, thank you whoever you are… that was the GOOD of what could have been just a Bad and Ugly day.

Experiencing Grief

When you lose someone you are close to; I thought I was done; it must come in waves…

I chose to stay home today, I have been so busy for the past two weeks that my home life and my house and my body are suffering. I needed a break and my head was screaming for it this morning.

After I took the kids to school, I figured the first thing I would do was go BACK to bed to get rid of my headache and see if some additional rest would help me.

I had this dream where I was driving past my friend Tim’s business and spotted him and the old crew of guys outside. So, as would be my typical behavior I drove in for a visit. Tim and I sat and chatted and laughed but underlying his laughter I could see a sadness…in my dream…he let me know that he was sad over the loss of his family. In my dream HE had lost his kids and ex-wife in an accident and was heartbroken over it.

BACK IN THE REAL WORLD…(Just a few minutes ago) I woke up and my natural instinct has always been that after I dream about a friend I need to call or visit them. So, I woke up thinking I need to call or go see how Tim is doing. For a moment I had forgotten that he was dead… and then the grief hit me. In a way, it is like finding out all over again.

I really miss him. It has been 3 months, 18 days, and roughly 8 hours since I got the call.

I really miss him.

My "Who" list

Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections, and all around fun guy posted this “challenge” on his blog recently:

” Look at your own life. Who has God brought across your path? Who has encouraged you? Who has spoken into your life? Who has exposed truth? Who has helped you experience God’s grace, excellence, wonder or love?
Spiritual growth is life growth. Life growth is relational.
Pay attention – God’s trying to help you grow! “

So,, it goes:

David, my loving husband. He encourages me to do the things I enjoy doing but is never afraid to let me know when I spend too much time helping others. He also is very understanding of the fact that felt needs are voiced in seasons and that sometimes I have to SPRINT before I can rest. Loving me beyond reason and offering to hold my light while I read and walk on the treadmill…and all things similar to that.

Breanna, my eldest gene recipient. Her ability to bounce seems unending. Her solid grip on her own personal values is admirable. Her bravery to cut off all of her hair and dye it bright red…courageous beyond words. Her smile and laughter…a beacon.

Paige, my youngest gene recipient. Her ability to empathize at her age is quite remarkable. Her love for all things small unending. Her need and ability to nurture…almost abnormal but absolutely adorable. Her shameless displays of affection to those she loves…very appreciated.

My Parents. Mom – staying on track and keeping her goals in mind while trying to take care of so many others at work and at home…admirable. Dad – living every day with pain that is beyond my comprehension. Surviving when most would not…Superman. Both – Always loving and supporting me…thank you.

The loss of my friend Tim Kovas, whose unexpected death brought me face first into realizing how strong my faith really is.

Kathy Guy for wow, everything that Mark said: Encouraging me, speaking into my life, exposing truth, sharing life and feelings with me and teaching me God’s grace, excellence, wonder, and love.

The rest of the Connections Team: Mark Waltz, Julie Smies, Theresa Hoeft, Shelley (DM) Arredondo, Susan Chipman, Guinn Shapiola, Ed Villalba, and Sherry Nadai. I group all of you together simply because I want to keep this light. Each of you has challenged me, shown me friendship, made me laugh and/or cry, encouraged me and supported me in some way shape or form. That is what teams are for and how friends are made. I feel honored to be among you all.

Amanda Sill, self proclaimed “slave”. I prefer to call her a dedicated servant of God. A sense of humor that I enjoy, a beautiful smile and an ability to withstand my weirdness. A girl with a bright future ahead of her…and a spoiled brat all at the same time. NOW THAT is fun to be around. I want to be her when I grow up…

Mark Beeson…I feel like I say this all the time…for taking my hand and introducing me to Jesus.

All of the people who call GCC each day in need of counseling or resources of any sort. Allof the people who call GCC each day seeking a way to help those in need. Allowing me to see all of the puzzle pieces and letting me see how sometimes if a piece does not fit, where I thought it would …there is probably a place on the other side of the puzzle where it will.

Respecting Your Addiction

“Chester, you’re a pedophile; of course I won’t bring my kids around you.”

My friends Theresa, Katie and I were having a chat about the “2 Missouri Boys Found, But Questions Remain” headlines that have been all over the news.

(The family will be interviewed for the first time on today’s Oprah. (We will be meeting again tomorrow to follow up.)

It led us into some deeper conversations with humor sprinkled in to dispell the darkness. Some disconnected tidbits follow but there was a great deal of conversation that followed these so please understand we were not bashing on boys.

“It is not normal for a male adolescent to want to watch your children.”
“Do not let your female baby sitter allow her male friends/boyfriends over to do homework.”
“Pedophilia can not be cured, just like alcoholism can not be cured. These people struggle with these thoughts every day.”
“State the obvious.”
“Don’t give them the control.”

It is hard to summarize this conversation which included all the nightmares that every parent has, but a key point was Theresa’s message from a former employer and friend who has worked for years with these type of people in the mental health care field. Don’t let them make YOU feel uncomfortable about their problem. That does not mean that you remind them every time you see them that they have a problem, but when they create a moment that is intended to make you uncomfortable – such as:

Uncle Chester the pedophile (charged and convicted)at a family reunion (where everyone knows his history) approaches you and wants to know why you did not bring your kids. State the obvious:

“Chester, you’re a pedophile; of course I won’t bring my kids around you.”
“If you were an alcoholic, I wouln’t buy you a bottle of wine.”
“Just respecting your addiction.”

Just respecting your addiction.

It’s a new catch phrase. T-shirts will be printed next week.

A great day

The day started out with me accompanying Breanna to Core Class 101
at Granger Community Church. Mark Beeson did a stellar job as always and
I could see that Breanna was truly paying attention. I was impressed by her
decision to attend the class and take her next step toward church membership.

The first session lasted an hour and 45 minutes and I will not forget the comment
that Breanna said as we walked out in the hall. “Whoa, I never really understood
that before.” The first session, Mark takes 35 – 45 minutes and summarizes the bible
from Genesis to Revelation and truly explains salvation, or substitionary atonement.
I wont forget that comment because:

a) I thought she already understood that
b) (and the reason for “a”)she spent two years going through CCD classes (her father’s family is Catholic)

It amazed me that my assumption was wrong…and that two years of CCD teaching (which I know she retained because I have heard her repeat the teachings to other people) did not help her to understand the gift that Christ gave us.

After core class we ran into my pal Amanda who found the interaction between Breanna and I worthy of a reality show…I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. Amanda also had to make me feel rather ignorant by showing me that I really CAN send a text message on my phone.

However, my regret of the day are a couple of comments I made while Breanna and Amanda were speaking about parents – fathers in particular that probably made no sense and probably sounded really BAD to anyone (like Amanda) who did not understand the background of the comments.

Completely out of context and it is not meant for you to understand them at this particular moment, but the comments were:

“I sware it was the month that he was cute”
“He served his purpose”

Almost as soon as I uttered the second one, I thought…what the H, E, double hockey sticks am I saying!?!?

Breanna and I have had conversations about her father, (for those who do not know, my husband is not her father but has been in her life since before she was 2) some of them lighter than others.

She once asked me how I could have ever found her father attractive, and as a flip comment
the “I sware it was the month that he was cute.” comment came out of my mouth.

Which of course brought up the deeper question of how I only dated him for roughly a month and ended up pregnant. I was not even dating him any longer when I found out that I was pregnant. Which brought up me explaining that her father and I met when I was very confused about life and love and was heartbroken over someone else and quite frankly I was full of emotions and needed an outlet for them and at the time basically her father unwittingly played proxy for that person in my life. I claimed to and believed that I loved him and engaged in a physical relationship with him. Finally I woke up to what I was doing and we mutually ceased interacting….for a while.

Which of course brought up the…was I a mistake question that children of unplanned pregnancies inevitably will have. I explained that though she was not planned, she was not a mistake. She was a surprise. If I did not want her, I had options. I could have put her up for adoption or had an abortion. I chose to have her and keep her because I felt that she was meant to be in my life and not once did I doubt that. Hence her father served his purpose in my life…to take part in creating the gift of my beautiful Breanna.

I never claim to have always made good choices in my life, but deciding to give birth to and raise Breanna was one of best.

Breanna enjoyed talking to Amanda and gave her extra points for liking her snake and decided to hang out with her for a few hours to help set up some things for services later as well as be co-conspirator to freaking out Lindsay by surprising her with the snake. Apparently mission was accomplished and Breanna had a great time hanging out with Amanda. While I went and visited my friends Paul and Jen.

I gathered my daughter and her snake…

(by the way, in case you had not figured this out, Akuji went with us today
because Breanna had heard that Julie had wanted to meet him and she loves to show him off)

…and we stopped by the mall to pick up snake food (a mouse) and had some fun conversation about things she learned in Core Class that relate to her current life, such as “Voting creates division” which has really affected a club she has been trying to get started in her school. It opened a door for me to offer to offer (yes I meant to say that twice) my suggestions which ended up with her wanting to know if she could ask her club sponsor to let me be a guest speaker at their next club meeting. I don’t care for public speaking but if someone wants me speak on a topic I am comfortable with, and that person has my unconditional love…I think I could bite the bullet.

We also had a conversation about how I think that left solely up to men, the world would not have made as much forward progression as it has. Not that men are not important to the progression but I have found many personal examples in relationships and in the workplace where the women have been the catalyst for change…just an observation.
…..and then I dropped Breanna off at work.

Lost no more!

Several weeks ago, early November, Breanna lost her snake. She had left a clip off of his cage. We tore the house apart looking for him…we tore it apart again. We had to stop looking. She has been heartbroken over it ever since. The slightest mention of him would bring a scowl to her face and you could tell it made her sad to think of him. She loved that snake. She covered his cage with a black cloth. Over time she believed him to be dead. She mourned him.
(My belief had always been that he got out of the house and was living a happy life in the cornfields nearby. Dave believed he would show up sooner or later)

Last night I had a really weird dream in which every roof in our house was just springing leaks left and right and rivers of water were coming from our ceilings. Same dream, I was laying in bed and looked up and spot Akuji and grab him and run to put him in his cage but it is filled with mud and a big intruder snake is there so I grab it and I have a snake in both hands and I start yelling for Dave to come help me get the cage cleaned out…I don’t remember anything after that.

This morning I read the pets section in the classified ads and there was an ad for a snake similar to Breanna’s…there are rarely EVER ads for that snake in the paper. I was going to tell Breanna my dream but then decided not to since it would probably depress her.

Dave and I were doing laundry and when I went downstairs to put in a load of whites, I noticed that there was a white sock by the sub pump so just as I bend down to grab it I spot something odd near the sub pump well and I was in awe. It was Akuji. My heart starting beating like mad, but I remember moving real slow and saying Dave’s name. I was certain that if I touched him he would move so fast I would never catch him, or that…he would not move at all. So I gently placed my hand on his “back” and wrapped my hand around his body. He was SOOOO cold. I thought he was dead. I picked him up and as soon as I lifted him off the ground, he turned around and looked at me with those cute little red eyes and stuck his tongue out as if the say….oh, it’s you.

Dave had not quite figured out what was going on until I turned around with my hands full of our scaley, beautiful friend. He looked stunned! The first thing we both do is start screaming Breanna’s name and I run for the stairs. She gets to the top of the steps seconds before me and I am just saying her name and she is saying “What? What?” because she is not thinking to look for a snake she does not see it until I shove my hands in her face. She now has the stunned look, grabs him up and “hugs” him saying “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD” and she just goes and sits down and is crying and hugging her snake all at the same time and saying thank you to me over and over again.

It has been a grand reunion. Breanna has not put him down. I know some of you may find this silly, but we really love our animals here…even the no legged ones. It was a very emotional moment for us.

Let me tell you this: I don’t know that I would have SEEN Akuji if it had not been for the dream, and the newspaper ad keeping him on my mind today. To be quite honest, my laundry room is not particularly the cleanest and right next to the sub pump well, and where most of Akuji was laying next to, were two red tool boxes…for those who don’t know him, Akuji has quite a bit of red in him.


Breanna…Another Milestone

Well ladies and gentleman, here it is:

She is allowed on the road.
(accompanied by another driver of course)

I am very proud of her. She made a perfect score on her written exam. So, we celebrated by going to the big – and always empty – parking lot at the softball complex near our house and I put her behind the wheel of a very large weapon of death…the Explorer. She was scared pink. Yes, she was pink most of the time, but she did good. She did not hit anything. So after making her follow a route in the parking lot, having her park between two lines and ATTEMPT backing out of a parking space, I let her drive home. She did well, except when she parked the truck, half of it was in the grass. Not bad. So we went to Hacienda to celebrate (thanks, Kathy)!

On the way home we were driving past the same park so I stopped the truck and told her to drive, she said NO! It was not a familiar road and it was sprinkling which she said deemed the roads unsafe because they become slick immediately after rain begins falling. So, I continued forward and tried again…she said NO again because of a “sharp turn” ahead. Hogwash! But I did not press the issue. When we finally came to the point where she had driven from earlier she asked me to stop because she wanted to try again and get to park the truck WITHOUT having ended up half way in the grass. This is the result:

A very proud moment….good job Breanna. I am very proud of you. For this and for many of the other decisions you have made over the past two weeks…including the new haircut…I love it, and I love you…(this sappy momemt brought to you by Brer Rabbit, makers of molasses and syrups)