These are a few of my favorite things

Maybe it is because I grew up with parents that lived through the depression.  Perhaps it is my generation of “the one with the most toys wins”. Could I be a hoarder?  No, not me!!! What is it then?  Why is it that when I set out to clear out my house, that it seems to get more full?

I have spent the past year away from home.  My father-in-law was dying of cancer.  Since my husband and I seemed like the best candidates for the duty, we put out lives on hold and moved into my in-laws 11,000 ft home. It had already been planned that he would stay home until he died, and that as soon as he passed, my mother-in-law would move into a new home.  They had lived in that home for 58 years, and raised all five children there. We were married in that home.Their grandchildren, and great grandchildren had many memories at “Mer and Poppa’s”. The home was the place of gathering.  Wedding showers,  weddings, receptions, baby showers, Christmas’s, Easters, Thanksgivings & birthdays, to name a few of our cherished times together. All those happy times, and now, we were going to say good bye to my father-in-law, and good bye to this home.

During our time there, it was my husbands task to do the physical care of his father.  A few times a week, Hospice workers would come in, and they became fast friends.  My tasks involved cooking, and shopping.  This allowed my Mother-in-law to stay by her husband of 64 years.  She read book, after book to him. It was so comforting to hear her through the monitor that we had to keep in their room, so we could run back when the needs arose.

Looking around this large home, I knew that someone was going to have to start figuring out where all the belongings were to go.  My Mother-in-laws new home was essentially furnished, and much of what she owned would not match with the new decor.  What in the world would happen with the 11,000 sq feet of “stuff”?  I asked my MIL if I could start to work on cleaning out. It was very important to her that, appearance wise, nothing looked different for my Father-in-law.  she didn’t want it to feel like the vultures had swooped in.  She gave me one closet to clean out.  Each day I would ask what I could do next.  SLOWLY, she gave me more little tasks.  My husband tackled the workshop, and the lab. I tackled the guesthouse, and day by day, as my Father-in-laws strength began to fade, I would move closer inside.  His world became smaller, limited to bedroom, bathroom and office, and so now I could make more headway.  I was not yet at liberty to call in a collector, or remove large pieces, but the cupboards began to empty out.

When my FIL finally died, we began to pack my MIL for her move.  It was decided she would move the following week, and the memorial would be held in the family home 2 weeks after that.  She asked that the house be empty by that time.

The house was put on the market the day before my FIL died, and the first showing was that same day.  The day my MIL moved, we had the Realtor caravan, as well as the movers. Chaos.  Even writing about this right now, almost causes a panic attack.  Oh, did I mention that my husband and his brother went fishing that day?

That next 2 weeks consisted of collectors, packing, cleaning, house showings, trips to the thrift store, and no sleep. The more I cleared, the more I saw for the first time.  How had I never noticed this beautiful chair, or lamp, or painting, or…. I began to get sentimental about things that were not even mine. I loved it all, and I hated it all.  This “stuff” was becoming the death of me.  I did not sleep for weeks.  I wanted everything to be exactly as my MIL wanted it to be for the memorial.  I’m not even sure anyone really even noticed. We were there for each other.  That day, everyone gathered up the belongings they wanted. In reality, that was the day that I realized that the things that meant the most to everyone were not the priceless antiques, but the memories of the pool parties, the tennis court, the tea house, the gardens. It wasn’t the stuff, it was the times spent together.  Even now, as my husband and I look around at the few things we did bring home, they really don’t mean anything. Those things are not Jack, or Marilyn (my in laws). They are not special away from the home that they were purchased for.  They are “things”.

So, now to the title of my rambling. What are my favorite things? What are the things that are important?

Love, hope, peace, understanding, faith, family, friends, the greatness of God, Creation, Caring for others, simplicity!   These are the things that really bring joy.I need to remember that, and clean my house!

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.

Romans 15:13 NIV














Now Available (for free): A Perfect 10: Masterful Marriages in Messy Contexts

My new book, A Perfect 10: Masterful Marriages in Messy Contexts, is now available. 🙂 You can download a free e-book copy here. You can download it to your Kindle for $1.99 here. You can purchase …

Source: Now Available (for free): A Perfect 10: Masterful Marriages in Messy Contexts

Observations from the Playground

I am no longer at this stage of life, but I love her observations of parenting. Perhaps you will as well!

My Morning Elegance

You know when you take your kids to the park and you see a woman sitting on a bench staring off into space? Yeah, I’m that mom. Yeah… I just sit there and quietly judge other parents. Just kidding, of course…yet something I seriously LOVE about going to the park is people watching. Gosh, I just love observing how people interact with their children.

The other day I observed three kinds of parents…or three stages of parenting, if you will, on full display. It was quite entertaining at least to me… 😉

1. The First Time Parent: 
You can pick these lovely people out from the crowd by their constant, slightly worried expressions. They follow their toddling small person with a hunched back, waiting to catch the inevitable trip up. They dutifully rotate their child from play-structure to swing to kiddie slide all the while chanting phrases such as “OH, Teddy! Isn’t this…

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One of the last posts I wrote was in November of last year.  It was a sad story of the loss of a young girl I knew..  Now, 6 months later, once again, I find myself asking “Why”?   I live in a very small, tightly woven town and when something happens here, if effects many people.  In the past 4 years, 2 of my nearest and dearest friends (By that term, I mean we have  LIVED LIFE with these people…family vacations, many meals together, life activities on a near daily basis), have lost teen, or young adult children.  Both of those children also happened to be best friends with my children.  Right now, one of our other nearest and dearest friends daughters lies in a coma, brain dead, with the only “natural function” being her breathing.  This young woman is 27, has a 1 year old, and a 3 year old, a husband who openly adores her, and a loving family.  This young woman has gone on countless trips with us, and has been “older sister” to my youngest daughter, and very best friend to my oldest daughter since the second grade.  This same daughter of mine lost her closest guy friend 2 years ago, and was hit by a car herself a year ago.  I am very grateful God spared my child a year ago, but why her and not M?  Why not K? Why is L in a coma? Why do my best friends in the whole world have to endure this incredible pain?  This is such Hell.  No parent should have to go through this, and no young person should have to deal with so much death.  To someone who may read this, you may think I am whining.  I am!.  I hurt and I don’t know what to do with that. 

I know a young man, a friend of my youngest daughter, who grew up in Rwanda.  He watched his family die, as well as much of his town.  This violence would be unbearable to watch, and he has shared some of what he goes through, the pain, the guilt, the flashbacks.  On the outside his life now would appear to be “Normal”, and “happy” though.  He does not understand the “whys”, but he is grateful God spared his life. He is getting married soon.  Life has “gone on”.  My friend who lost her son a year and 9 months ago has a new grandbaby.  She has a new job.  She has taken some fabulous “breaks” with her husband,  Life has “moved on”.  My other friend who lost her son almost 4 years ago has also “gone on” with life.  My sister is a home every day now.  Her once busy with activity filled days are now focused on the diet of her husband who has colon cancer.  Each day she watches as he struggles with the pain that won’t go away.  Each day she is filled with hope that the treatment he is receiving will bring about healing for the disease  that is ravaging his body. Another friend has brain cancer.  Another has finished treatment for breast cancer.  My father in law has cancer that has spread into his bones. “Life goes on?  For who?  Some of us?  The ones who survive this, maybe they get to “live” but is there ever complete, unbridled joy again?  I want this all to stop.  I want the pain to go away.  I know that “out of ashes will come beauty”, and that it all makes us “stronger”  I get all of this and I know that death is part of life.  I know all these things in my head, but do I have to like it?    With each loss I feel as though part of me dies, and that I am not stronger, but more weary.  Much more weary.  The only “strength”  I exhibit is the false strength I “put on”  each day to get through the day.  It is a mask.  It allows me to pretend,  that I have it all together, and that I have the “magic” to help those around me.  It’s not true.  The only one who sees my vulnerability is my husband, and he is never sure what to do with it, so I try desperately to wear the mask for him as well. 

I have said in nearly every blog I have written, I am NOT a writer. I don’t even go back and edit. That’s on purpose.   I do this for me, and for no one else. I do it to help me process. It’s for me, for this moment.  That’s it.  So if you are reading this, sorry!    If you are suffering, I am so sorry for you.  I have no answer, except “keep hoping”  I am thankful God has all the answers, and that ultimately HE is in control