Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memories and the Water Tower

Usually I come to the ol' laptop with something I feel is profound enough to be shared.  Usually I have something I need to get off my chest, or something has been burning a hole in my heart.  At times I've even been frustrated to tears, like the first time I wrote on this particular blog.  Before that, I started on Captain Leela's Ravings, too scared to even put my name on what I wrote, angry and wanting to scratch and claw to make a better place for my children to live... in other words, to be a better mother, wife, daughter, and of course, child of God.  Whatever the circumstances I leave feeling a bit relieved, and at peace with what I've said and how I've said it.  I've proofread (although I'm sure sometimes it's hard to tell) and double checked any scripture references to make sure I don't offend.  I've dressed up what I had to say with the freshest words possible (thanks, Mrs. Westfall) and shared my heart with you in a way that I truly hope will bring you closer to the throne of God.  Funny part is, when it's all said and published, I'm the one a little closer to God, but that's beside the point. 
This time, I'm not even sure what I'll say.  Maybe I just need the tactile feeling of the keys and the sound of my own thoughts being ticked out key by key.  Maybe I'm hoping I'll have some great revelation that will make the past few weeks okay in my heart, and that I won't hurt quite as much after clicking on "publish".  This time, what's burning a hole in my heart is the memory of my Nanny. 
When I was born on the morning of June 15, 1978, there was a little argument.  My Daddy wanted to name me Toi-Marie (I KNOW!  How horrible!) Dawn, my dear Mama wanted to name me Aspen Dawn (ok, not as bad, but kids could really be ugly with that one), and as I remember it, Nanny won.  Mama's second choice became Nanny's first choice, and she had her first grandchild.  I went home from the hospital to what is now 804 Morris Creek Road in Heavener, Oklahoma.  Not in the flat, sandy part of Oklahoma (which is beautiful in its own way), but the moutainous, beautiful part of Oklahoma.  There are pictures of my first smile, with my Mama holding me in the breakfast room of that house.  My mother and daddy were married in the front room, and though that marriage was rough at best, that's still significant.  My first birthday party was at Nanny's, and when it was time to dry out my daddy who would only go to rehab if Mama went too, I stayed with Nanny.  When their marriage ended, my Mama stayed in Oklahoma City where they'd been living because she'd worked too hard to leave her position at the hospital there, and I'd spend summers in Heavener.  We'd hook their travel trailer to the old Ford F-150 and go all over the place, Nanny, Grandad and I.  They were members of "Good Sam", a camping club, and at the lake all the trailers would park next to each other with a little wooden board with the family name hanging from the front of each one.  There were card tables between them, and plenty of lawn chairs.  All the men would sit and play cards or dominoes, and the ladies would sit and work on their afghans or scarves or little covers for appliances or whatever they were into.  As one of the few little kids who got to go, I'd sit in my little-girl lawn chair and take out my Cabbage Patch Kid sewing cards and pretend to be one of them.  It was there that George Stevens taught us all every now and again that "a domino laid is a domino played".  There are rumors that I "danced a jig" on one of their little trailer doorsteps (I know, I'd never do anything silly) and I can remember loving to go swimming and fishing and loved helping Nanny cook in the camper when it came time for meals.  
We couldn't camp all the time, though.  Nanny and Grandad owned and ran a store called "The Appliance Center" in downtown Heavener in the "big, blue building".  Seriously.  It was big.  And blue.  And that's all the directions you needed in Heavener.  As a little girl I'd tumble out of bed on a work morning, run down the crazy-long hall as fast as I possibly could (rumor has it something might jump out and scare me... thanks a lot, uncle Steve!), and find Nanny and Grandad sitting at the breakfast table having their morning coffee.  If there was time before going to the store for work, Nanny would make me some pancakes complete with peanut butter and strawberry syrup.  Then I HAD to ride to work with NANNY... I loved Grandad too, but c'mon.  Girl time is girl time.  Then there was the store.  Oh my WORD did they have a lot of kitchen gadgets on this one wall.  I'd stand there forever... looking, not touching, mind you.  There were always donuts!  Nanny would have yummy glazed donuts for the staff sometimes, and Ruby Willhite, one of their friends/employees, would help me reach them.  I've thanked her several times for that over the years.  I even met a friend at the Appliance Center.  Our new pastor of the First Christian Church, where Nanny and Grandad had been very involved, had come by to say hello and brought his daughter, Jennifer.  Being a shy five year old who was much more comfortable around adults, I hid under a display of Corelle diningware on a card table, mercifully hidden behind a long tablecloth (Nanny was big on tablecloths).  Jennifer even crawled under the table to say hi.  How cool was she?!  I did love that church when Nanny went, too.  I remember sitting in the pew almost to the back on the right side, right behind George and Ava Stevens (domino rule guy and his WONDERFUL wife... they were actually both very sweet and I loved them).  Ava was like Nanny's best buddy.  She was one of the ladies who used to sit and crochet and knit with Nanny when we went camping, and she had a daughter with the coolest bedroom door... it was COMPLETELY covered in stickers.  Ava's life ended way too soon, and I remember crying with Nanny at the breakfast room table when she passed.  But I digress.
Then there was Granny's.  Granny was Nanny's mother, and if I could do no wrong for Nanny, that went times a bajillion for Granny.  I was her only great-grandchild at the time, and she'd make me all the homemade fries and catsup I could eat.  And I could eat a lot.  She'd also let me eat strawberry preserves out of the jar with a teaspoon.  Granny was COOL!  Many times I'd stay with Granny if Nanny had something to do and I couldn't go.  I even got my first spank from Nanny (and likely my last) at Granny's.  I deserved it, but Granny cried and I remember feeling so bad that I got Nanny in trouble with her mama! 
But time went on, life went on as it does, and my Daddy decided it was time for me to stay with him in the summers and at holidays.  Talk about heartbreaking... I did NOT want to give up my time with Nanny.  But I had to, and that's a whole other book of a blog post.  So from then on, the time I had at Nanny's and when she'd come to see us in Oklahoma City was so much more cherished.  The only place I wanted to be, other than with my Mama, was with Nanny.  Daddy had moved to Kansas, which made him six whole hours away from Nanny's.  No quick escapes, and I sure wished there were.
But oh, did I look forward to time at Nanny and Grandad's.  But things started to get a little different.  Something happened, and they didn't quite get along the way they used to.  Again, another blog post.  Nanny still did things for me, with me, and made sure she saw Mama and I.  Took us shopping, cooked for us, played games with me, cooked for us, helped me *ahem* clean my room, cooked for us... tee-hee!
After fourth grade, my Mama got very nervous at the thought of having me go to a junior high in the city.  She heard that I'd have to be drug-tested to enroll, and that really freaked her out.  So we moved back to Heavener. 
The plan was for us to live in one of Nanny and Grandad's rent houses, and Mama would go back to college at Northeastern State in Tahlequah.  Nanny and Grandad moved us while I was in Kansas one summer to the red house across from the high school in Heavener.  It was the house that they'd moved to when Holt Telephone Co. moved them to Heavener in the 50's.  They had since moved to the house Mama grew up in and where she lives now, and moved to the house on the hill on Morris Creek Road.  It needed work but Mama was up to it, and so was Nanny.  I loved being back with them!  We lived with them for a few months while they finised sprucing up the red house, and I was in hog-heaven.  Mama took me to the General Store (can I get a WOOT for penny candy, Heavener peeps?!) to buy school supplies, complete with my first Heavener Wolves t-shirt.  I spent my evenings when Mama was at school with Nanny and Grandad, who had sold the store at that point.  Nanny had been selling Tupperware for years at this point.  No more Good Sam, no more crocheting and driving all over the place sitting between Nanny and Grandad on a stack of Dr. Seuss books in the white F-150.  My Uncle Steve had been out of the house for years, married to my Aunt Teresa, who was my best birthday present that year (they were married on my birthday).  They eventually moved back, too... into the house they grew up in, but they also eventually moved back out.  Not Mama... Mama met Bucky, and then there was Bree. 
Up until now, you see, Mama and I were a dynamic duo.  The true picture of a tough, single 80's woman working hard and caring for her little girl.  As good as Dad was to us at the time, I couldn't get over losing that sidekick status.  As much as I wanted my sweet, beautiful, amazing, yet lonely Mama to find the right man, I wanted her all to myself too.  And Dad was good to us!  When they went out, I went too.  That usually meant a date to the lake, but hey, that's cool!  But it wasn't the same,  and I naturally got closer and closer to my Nanny.  Nanny and I ran all over the place delivering Tupperware and holding parties in the Dodge Caravan she worked to earn.  That woman could sell ice to the eskimos... no, she could sell Tupperware to Mr. Ziploc!  We went everywhere together.  I'd do my homework in the van if I had to.  There were many times that we'd go to Fort Smith shopping or (Tupperware) partying and be so tired we'd just stay in the travel trailer that now stood parked in Barling, just outside Fort Smith.  She'd take me to pick out some snack food, maybe get a movie, but usually we'd sit and visit about everything.  I loved hearing about her childhood, her past, growing up, everything.  She listened to me and never passed judgement.  She supported and loved, but never judged.  She ALWAYS had time for me, no matter what.  She no longer attended church at this time, but still showed Jesus' love to me and so many others.  We had so many wonderful times over some Doritos and diet Coke and whatever else we'd decided we needed to try. Had to have something sweet too, you know. 
Eventually, when I was in high school, my father tried to corner me into moving to be with he and his wife and mother in Kansas by telling me I had to either move in with him (six hours away, mind you), move in with Nanny, or he'd report my mother to DHS and have me and my sister removed.  Now, he had no basis in any of this to make anything work... it was all manipulation and he thought he knew what I'd choose.  So I called Nanny one humid summer night in Kansas and asked if I could live with her. 
No questions asked, of course, she agreed.
When I went home, Nanny met Daddy and Judi in Siloam Springs, Arkansas at the McDonald's.  The thought of that place gave me indigestion for years because that was our usual meeting place.  Nanny kept me at her house for about a week till Mama couldn't take it and wanted to know why I didn't come home.  I don't remember what I told her, but I know I didn't tell her the truth.  In my mind, that was the closest I could stay to her without losing her completely.  So whatever I told her, I told her on Nanny's bed, crying my eyes out.  And Nanny stood by my decision.  No thought of what it would cost her, no second thoughts at all.  No questions, just the one answer I needed, and that was to stay close to my Mama.  As a girl going into her sophomore year of high school, I had decided that the best thing was for my heart to absorb all the hurt it possibly could for the sake of everyone else.  After all, if I was the only one hurting then no one else would have to.   Then my sophomore year of high school happened.  Nanny's Dad, Pop, came to live with us when he got colon cancer, and passed away in the fall.  Some incredibly difficult things happened to me that year, and I lost a friendship that I never thought I would... and during that time, when things were at their worst and I told her I didn't know if I could go back to church, Nanny looked me straight in the eye and asked the most probing, pivotal question anyone had asked or has ever asked me.  "Well, who do you go for?"  And from that moment on, I decided who I went to church for and why I went.  Nanny held me together through so much that year. 
Again, time passed and this time it was time for college.  I had planned (ok, I realize how stupid this was now) with all my eggs in one big, fat crimson and cream basket to go to OU.  Wanted to major in music.  Of course.  After she'd already paid fees to get me into the dorm at OU, I wasn't accepted into the school of music.  My wonderful band director at the time and his sweet wife (who my baby girl's middle name comes from) helped me find a place in Texas... Abilene, to be exact.  Nearly eight hours away from home, yes ma'am.  So after telling me no, I was NOT going so far from home to go to school by myself, and a week of steaming and very few words, we found ourselves on our way to Hardin-Simmons University for me to play a scholarship audition.  All went well, I was accepted with open arms, and not knowing about how student aid works, Nanny went to the bank and made sure that I got that first year of education.  Later we learned about loans, but that first year was all on Nanny and anyone who needed something to keep their food fresh... or who could be convinced that they did. 
In the years since, every time I needed anything, she was there.  Soon as she got wind of it, she was there.  When I wanted to go to Europe my senior year in high school, she matched what I made and even helped us do some fundraisers.  She bought me my first set of matching luggage (with the help of her sweet sisters, if I remember correctly) for the trip.  She shopped for every Easter dress, every prom dress, all the shoes, all the clothes.  She took my friend Christine and I all the way across the state to an All-State clinic before we got a band director who did his job (or realized what it was).  I cannot begin to tell you what Nanny means... or meant... to me.  All I can tell you are the wonderful things she did, and I can't even begin to scratch the surface of the things she did for me. 
As I drove with my precious family and amazing husband around the bend to the lake in Wister on my way home to see Nanny for the last time, the leaves were absolutely gorgeous.  The tears spilled over and ran down my cheeks as I drove past the places where we camped, swam, ate, and just lived.  Past the places where we drove countless times together to deliver Tupperware, or just to watch the water come over the spillway when it'd rained way too much in the spring.  Drove past places on 271 where we'd done parties, delivered, and visited over coffee with her friends.  Past Wilma's house, and I can still taste the friend peach pies.  As our van made its way into the valley, the trees in their reds, ambers, and bright orange leaves acted as God's sympathy bouquet to our family and all who loved Nanny.  Everything in town hold memories, like the first parade I watched.  It was from the porch of the big blue building, and it was raining, so Nanny made me stay on the porch but Grandad ran out to get the candy the parade participants threw.  Or how the building across the street housed Tate's, the department store their friends Martin and Georgia ran.  All my cute, girly, ruffled-cuff socks came with "Tate's" stamped on the bottom, which I remember simply from being a little girl bored in church, wanting something to stare at through the sermon after I'd cleaned all the "velamints" from Nanny's purse, and shortly before leaning over and sleeping in her lap.  As we drove up the road that leads to Morris Creek Road from the Old Pike Road the last time we went to the house as a family, I noticed the water tower on the hill.  When I was in high school, they painted over the plain "HEAVENER WOLVES" and put a big, cartoonish mascot-wolf picture in purple and gold on the white background.  Through the years, the elements eroded the paint so that the plain "HEAVENER WOLVES" lettering is peeking through.  I sat a little too long at the stop sign (which fortunately doesn't matter right there), and thought how that's so much like life.  No matter what we pile on top of memories... no matter the years, the pain, the joys... the things that matter will come back to the surface.   It's too bad that it takes the loss of someone to erode the layers of daily life and make us remember what we were, and who helped make us who we are. 
So just as we sat and cried on Nanny's bed the day I decided I had to not go home to stay home, Mama and I sat and cried by her bed as we waited for Nanny's tough but too tired little body to finally give in to the cancer that she'd fought for years.  She was more than amazing, and even more than the recipes she taught me in her kitchen... the conversation, the way she threw her head back when she laughed, and all the hours she spent taking care of everyone win over in my mind. She was beautiful, tough, fragile, sweet, giving, and more than any of that, she was my Nanny and my friend, and although I am happy that she is with our Saviour, my heart is broken.  I wish I could have a piece of pie and a cup of coffee with her just one more time, but instead I'll close the computer, get up, dry my eyes, and peek in on my babies who she loved, and then I'll spend time with my husband.  Because just like she said when I wanted her to do something with me, the work I have to do will be here when they're long gone.  
I miss you so much, Nanny.
In Memory of Carlene A. Holt, daughter of Carl Aldrich and Mae VanVranken, sister to my aunts Dixie and Gladys Mae, wife to my Grandad, Nanny to us, and friend to all of us. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Black and white.  Think about that.  No, really.  They're opposites, right?  How many opposites can you think of? 

Go ahead. 


Ok, now that you've had a minute, here are some more.  Day and night.  Big and small.  Good and evil.  Right and wrong.  Reading in Genesis this evening while the kids played in the yard I realized two things.  One, that I live in paradise.  Great kids, great husband, and of course Jesus!  Hello!?  Two, that God digs contrast.  All right, enough with the kinder lesson, Crystal.  You can surely do better than this, right?  Nope. 

It's becoming increasingly apparent to me that contrast is here for a reason.  Differences are here for a reason.  We all know and have heard all our lives (hopefully) that we're unique.  As I look at my three kids, I can't say they're the same.  I can say a lot of positive things about them, but I can't say that they're the same.  They have similarities beyond the obvious (they're human, they're little Senzigs) and although Ryan was a ringer for my husband as a baby and Richie and Maelynn's baby pictures look just like mine, there are still differences.  But why?  Wouldn't it be easier to just throw out the nice, round biscuit cutter and slap out a bunch of the same thing so that we'd all get along, all the time, and everyone would always look the same, eat the same thing, etc.  No fights, right?  Sounds awesome!  Eeh, maybe not.

If you never saw dark, how would you know light?

If you were never tired, how would you know what it was like to be rested?

If you never dealt with turmoil, how would we know peace? 

Aah, no sin.  I'd never be angry with myself over doing the things I hate ever again.  Things like letting little things get to me.  I know better!  I've been a Christian since I was twelve.  I'm thirty-two.  You'd think twenty years would be enough to make me stop being stupid like that.  But I can't!  I'm just a human.  A stinky, sinful, selfish human.  Not self-degradation... fact.  I'm so thankful that God sees me through Jesus-colored glasses.  Which brings me to the greatest contrast of all... and the most one-sided.  Jesus versus regular old people.  Perfect versus hopelessly imperfect. 

Whoa, what a downer!  No, hang in there. Stay with me.  And hang on tight...

Why are we here?  Simple answer... to glorify God.  We can't do that on our own.  We need Jesus.  We need God's Word to teach us about His personality so that we can understand how He thinks, so that we might begin to think like Him.  To want what He wants for our lives, to want to be like Him, to shine His love through everything we do... even changing diapers, folding socks, teaching kids to play a clarinet so that it sounds like music and doesn't stir the attention of the local SPCA.  Everything.   So that as we go about the things we have set before us every day we are living, breathing, speaking bibles, exuding the love of Christ.  Even driving.  Yep.  I know.  Me too. 

It seems that every time we get together in Sunday school, small group, whatever and talk about how we should be as Christians and how to better do that, we always come back to one thing if we go deep enough... we should WANT to do these things.  We should strive to think like Jesus so much that things are automatic.  Giving, smiling, epathizing, just being less blasted self-centered should be automatic.  But why aren't they? 

That's not the way we're made.  Yep, that's the answer.  We're sinful.  We need Jesus.  As we read through our kids' storybook bible again and again, every time, it's brought to my attention how the whole book is centered around God loving us so much that He sent His Son so that we might not perish.  Might.  We can!  We can choose to burn like toast when I'm not paying attention and Ryan has pushed down the button three times.  But we have an out... we have a Saviour.  We're stinky.  God meant for us to live with Him, but we had to go and get too big for our britches in the garden.  But why?  Isn't God in charge?  Yes.  He is.  And it's because I know that fact... it's because He lives within my heart and makes my life utterly amazing... that I trust that His Word is true.  That He is IT. The I-AM.  The only God.  It makes me so sad to hear of and see people who are so lost... so far away from the light and air that is a relationship with Jesus... that they don't even know the difference.  They've lived in the dark so long they wouldn't know light if it smacked them in the chops.  If you're a Christian (and gee, I hope you are... if you're not, we can totally fix that with one heartfelt prayer) you've undoubtedly been either in an argument or heard of one where a certain unbeliever challenged a believer.  There's nothing wrong with seeking and asking probing questions!  This is great... when the asker wants the answer.  But there are some who are just so far to the "dark side" that only the Holy Spirit has the words.  You know, the ones where it gets down to "well, how do you know the Bible is true", etc.  At that point, you can blast 'em with all the history and knowledge of Bible stats you have stored in your cranium, and that's great (hey, you're doing better than I), but if they're not willing to believe, they won't get it.  I could go all Ephesians 1:11 on you here, but that's a whole other Geraldo.

So why go to all this trouble in the first place?  Why not He's God, right?  He can do whatever He wants, right?  Exactly.  And I'm at peace with the fact that His thoughts are higher than mine, as are His ways.  That means that I'm okay with not knowing why.  You know what?  I can't see one good reason why Ryan has autism.  I can't see one good reason why our second pregnancy miscarried.  Those things are hard. I spent a lot of time shaking my fist at God over those things and more and screaming with tears flowing from my eyes, "WHY?!"  Admittedly. you know what I learned? 

He's God.  He's in charge.  That's why. 

I also learned that He can take all the tantrums I want to throw.  And He still loves me.  I can't help but think He likes it when we're gut-level, no-holds-barred, no sugar on it honest.  After all, He knows our thoughts.  He knew us before we were born, before we were even conceived.  He was there "In the Beginning"... He saw the light, and it was good.  He saw the dark, and it was good.  He saw the separation between the two, and for some reason, decided some contrast was a good thing.  Why?  I have no idea. I could come up with some, but you know what?  The best, most honest answer I have is simply this... He's God.  He can do what He wants, and I trust that what He wants is what's best for me.  I could go on and on about why I believe He knows all and best, the things He's done for me, how living for Christ doesn't make my life easy, but it DOES make it WONDERFUL, which it certainly does, but the very best answer for why I believe is still a line from that old hymn... "You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart."

Hey, it's worked beautifully so far.  Got a better reason than experience?

Monday, August 16, 2010


This morning I finally started getting back on my best routine.  My best routine as in "if I'm not up and moving before the children I won't be at my best".  As in "if I want to have a good day I'd better get my lazy carcass out of bed."  As I was out of town for about six weeks attempting to be of some help to my Mom and grandparents, I got out of the habit of running.  There was much to be done and not much downtime so I was running pretty hard, especially with the three kids to look after as I cooked and cleaned and tried to help, but there was also a reunion.  Me, Ben, and Jerry.  Mmm.  My favorite is "Whirled Peace".  At least (censored) pints made it down my gullet and to my rear while I was in Heavener.  All the more reason to get back to my best routine.

So I pull myself out of bed at six thirty.  Okay, my husband, who knows what's best for me and what I really want, pulls me out of bed.  Thanks for that, Eric!  I stumble past the still not quite empty suitcases from the trip and into the bathroom.  Ugh.  Wet swimsuits.  Gotta do something about that.  No, not now.  Gotta run.  Bleary-eyed, I brave the half-unpackedness to locate my shorts... not those, they don't fit right... dig a little more... yeah, those.  Find a sleeveless shirt... not that one, doesn't match... but really, does it matter?  Nope.  Okay, now socks... oh yeah, those made it into a drawer!  Score!  Trudge to the kitchen, look longingly at the coffee.  Not now, dear caffeinated friend, but later for sure.  Water.  Need water.  Okay, got water.  Flop to the floor.  Enter Jedi... sure, I'll let you out.  Back up, let the dog out so he can quit dancing up and down with his paws crossed.  Back down to stretch.  Lean down, pull feet in... there's a staple in my shoe.

Not just any staple.  This one is old and big.  It's the kind you use to stick carpet padding to the floor, as evidenced by the chunk of padding that's still hanging on. I noticed this staple about five weeks ago as I sat down in one of the many doctors' waiting rooms I frequented with Nanny and Grandad during the trip.  Mom and I had spent the day before at her new-old house, the house where she grew up, pulling carpet padding and digging staples out of the long-forgotten hardwood floor.  You'd be amazed what you can do with a wide putty knife and a flathead screwdriver.  I showed Mom and we both snickered about it and I'm sure made some snarky comments and laughed harder as we usually do, then for some reason I got up and kept going.  I likely had to, either to get a bottle, change a diaper, or maybe the nurse called us in. Who knows.  But I left it there, with intent to remove it at home.

Before we left with our little five-person and four-paw family for my hometown on June 30, we thought we were going to work on Mom's house and enjoy visiting family.  Instead, through medical and other (we won't go there) emergencies, it turned to five and a half or six weeks of cooking, cleaning, referreeing, doctor's offices, hospitals, nursing, and just plain trying to be of help.  Before we left, I'd told our beloved life group that we were going to move my Mom into her house while we were gone, and I meant that. 

Now that's not a bad thing on the face of it.  It's not bad at all.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to help your parents.  I did try.  I pushed to be down there and clean, pull, scrape, and fix.  But working on Mom's house was my plan, or at least what God used to get me in the mood to work while I was up there... I'd have gone anyway, so I can't say that's what He used to get me there.  The point is that it just didn't turn out like I wanted it to turn out.  Life is like that.  Oh, sometimes it goes exactly according to plan, but the tricky part is realizing and being cool with the fact that life always goes according to God's plan.  I've been in both places recently.  In the spring and at the beginning of the summer, I was doing so amazingly great!  My life was as perfect as I can imagine it being, and I realized this one morning as I prayed through the prayer list on my run.  "God, I just love my life!" I said.  "I just can't imagine it getting any better... we have awesome friends, Eric's job is simply wonderful, we're in good health, our kids are great and our family is complete, our church is absolutely fabulous and we look forward to being there every chance we get!  Thank you, Father, for this mountaintop!"  Then the sick feeling hit, as He spoke to my heart... "Beware, child, where your peace and joy lie. Mountaintops are short, pointy things." 

Then our friend and pastor resigned the next day, and that was just the beginning. 

It's so hard to see with our fleshly, human eyes and hearts that these things are good.  As I told him after I found out, I wanted to run to their house and grab them both and jump up and down and throw my best two-year-old tantrum.  NO!  NO NO NO!  You can't leave!  You're great friends and I love you guys, and what if the next guy is a jump-up-and-down-and-scream-er?  NO!  But that wouldn't be right.  As much as I love the Griggs family and I know so many others do too, all our love combined isn't even a drop in the bucket toward how much God loves them.  He has given them another place to serve, and another setting in which to read the next chapter He's written in their lives.  New characters, new plot, but the same theme.  The same goal.  The same purpose. 

To glorify God in all they say and do.  To study God's word for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)  To encourage others to love like Jesus.  To allow God to use them to speak to these new characters as they spoke to us in love and encouragement and when necessary, in Godly discipline as the Word teaches.

We are to do the same.  We, as a church family, as a life group with a large hole, are to do the same.  To stick to God's word and together as we seek to become like the church at Berea. To roll with the changes. 

Why?  Because God says.  He knows what's best.  My husband, who seeks to love me like Jesus loves us, knew it was best for me to get myself going.  He knows my state of mind is better, my body is better, and I have more energy when I'm excercising.  He knows I enjoy life more.  He's right.  Thankfully, I wasn't a stinker and listened.  If I hadn't I might have missed the staple. 

After noticing the staple several times... and it's obvious if I look at the bottom arch part of my shoe... I decided to leave it.  It's ugly, rusted, big, and has a dime-sized chunk of yellowish padding stuck under it.  But it is a great reminder, not only to pray for my Mom as she cares for her parents without the love of her life, but that things don't always go according to plan.  And that's a good thing. 

So Godspeed, Clayton, Tammy, Haley, and Spirit.  Godspeed and may God bless you as you've been a blessing to us.  Thank you for your love and encouragement through the last few years, and for allowing God to use you all.  Your smiles will be missed, but we are joyful and thankful for your new adventure and for all the lives He will use you to bless!  The Senzigs love you.

By the way... the staple's still in my shoe, and for now, it'll stay.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In the Beginning...

...there was the first post.  It was composed on a particularly frustrating day of mothering, mostly of a child with autism.

Today was a day when I look up in frustration and say, "Really?!  Seriously?!"  My Ryan, our almost five year old who has autism, started screaming pretty much as soon as he got home from school.  He walked in the door, asked for his mallets ("want your mawwets?"), and soon after asked to watch his favorite video at the moment.  As usual, I take his "mawwets" off the entertainment center and hold them out, reminding him to use the magic words every mother teaches their children to use.  He bops off contentedly, waving his treasures in the air as I start his video. The video comes on, and after skipping past the usual previews, I take off for the kitchen knowing that the kids are happy.  A few minutes later, here comes Ryan. "Want some banana, " he says.  So I give him a peeled half of banana and he happily trots off to the living room.  Couple minutes pass, and he returns, this time with "putcha poop inya pants".  Okay, not unusual, we go to the bathroom.  In the midst of our bathroom experience, Ryan asks for ice cream.  Trying to be positive, I respond with my usual answer... that he can have ice cream if he eats all his dinner.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Not to Ryan.  He screams in my face.

Now, most moms would yank their kids up and make sure they learned a lesson in what ever way they're fond.  I respond to Ryan with my usual (mostly pseudo-) calm request that he calm down.  After finishing our trip to the bathroom, Ryan still can't stop screaming, so I tell him to finish his fit in his room and head off to the kitchen, stopping to turn off the video on the way.  Upon discovering that his video is off, Ryan starts asking for it over and over, but not in the same room as me... and screaming before I can even get in the room to meet his request.  So no video.  Ugh.  There goes calm time.  I try calmly explaining why I won't/can't turn on the video, but he just screams.  Okay, back to your room.  Please calm down and come out when you can stop screaming.  This is pretty much the entire rest of the next hour.

When I say screaming, I mean bloody-murder, someone's-cutting-off-my-arm screaming.  Shrill, oh my WORD his throat has to hurt screaming.  This time it only lasted an hour.  After about thirty minutes I was struggling to keep my cool, so I call on my friends, using one of my Facebook (one of my favorite mommy tools).  I ask for prayer, not just for me, but for my Ryan and for Richie, my sweet 23 month old who just got his feelings hurt when his hero screamed at him simply for walking in the room they share.  They join me in asking for patience, love, joy, and peace to share with my Ryan's little troubled soul.

By the time my amazing husband walks in the door tired from his own day, I'm like that Pink Floyd song... comfortably numb.  That sounds bad, but it's a gift.  See, I need to be a rock for my boys and my princess.  Remember that I have a 23 month old son and a 3 month old daughter in addition to this confused, precious little guy.  I don't want to be remembered as a "rageaholic".  As the daughter of someone who couldn't control his temper (drunk or sober), the last thing I want is for my kids to see me as something scary.  So the numbness is a defense... it's a gift from the Lord to allow me to be calm and comforting to one child and then turn to the next and read a book and tickle his feet.  Then turn to the next and nurse, hold, smooch and coo.  Not that I don't feel anything, that's not it.  Numb to the fear that gives birth to anger that gives birth to rage... yet able to feel the warmth and sparkle of my children's smiles and happy eyes.


The peace that passes understanding.

The peace that rises above the feelings, because emotions aren't terribly reliable.

The peace that the Lord gives me makes my life so much more liveable.  Not survivable.  LIVE-able.  I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel the frustration and fear and all those negative things that come along with parenting.  I most definitely feel them, and at times (like this afternoon) I'm nearly leveled by them.  But I'm not.  I'm struck down, but not destroyed.  Persecuted, but not abandoned.  As I step back and look at my relationship with Ryan, I realize that my need to be a calm, peaceful rock for my boy is much more important that just teaching him to not throw fits and be demanding.  It is key to teaching all my children how God loves me, because He does!  He puts up with my screaming fits when I don't understand what He's saying, or trying to get me to do, or... the big one... WHY.  Oh, and I do ask that one.

To tell the truth, I kick and scream more than Ryan.  I know enough of God's Word to know what He expects, yet I consistently do just the opposite.  But when I cry out in the middle of the night, He still answers.  He still grants me that peace.  He still holds me in His arms and gives me rest.  He still gives me His words of comfort through not only His Word but through friends and other loved ones.  He meets my needs and then some... more than I could imagine... consistently.

So thank you.  Thank you, Lord, for loving me even through my fits.  Thank you, friends, for allowing Him to love me through your smiles and shared laughs!  I am thankful, tonight, not just for my sweet family and friends, but for a Savior who loves me and is my rock, and never tires of my cries and requests.  Remember, friend... He's never tired or yours, either.

Thanks for walking this first step of the journey.
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