Monday, March 31, 2014

dear march...

dear march...

isn't there some proverb that says march comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb?
well, march you were a lamb all month long here in california.
i longed for a bit more roar out of you so i could snuggle
by the fire in my flannels awhile longer.
hate packing those up until next november, but you are begging for cotton pj pants & tshirts.

the month started off with scoot's {un}birthday celebration.  
did you know he was born on leap year day?  yep.  so he doesn't really have a birthday
and who taught my kids how to turn their birthdays into festival weekends?
 the best part?  i am included in the festival.
in the middle of the weekend was a visit from pjm's daughter.
there is something about gathering with family in the home he built for us.
in his absence, when we are gathered around that old farm table
sharing dinner & a meal, his presence is felt.
it's as if the more of us that gather, the more pieces of him are together
& the more it feels like we have not lost as much.
the definition of family is changing for us, not that it was ever a traditional definition,
but i am thankful for family that shares, loves & honors my pjm.

and our bit of march madness came early.
 sweet brown eyes was on the most amazing basketball team ever!
his first season playing basketball, and their record was 13-0
won the league championship-go warriors!
and another season of club soccer starts after spring break.

my "one little word"-nourish.
i truly want to honor that word in my life this year,
so the night before the san diego half marathon, amber & i decided to not run.
it fell on the first morning of the time change so we would be getting up at 3:45 am.
no thanks.
we ran here at home and nourished ourselves over breakfast at our favorite diner.
and we aren't training for the june marathon.  so there.  feels more nourishing.

and lent.  i have this small devotion book from naptime diaries.
i haven't miss a day yet.  i don't have a set "devotional" time.
i just tuck away for a bit, alone, and complete it...each day so far!
and it feeds my soul.  
please click on the link above.  jessi talks so openly about her precious family & faith.

and endless miles driven {but, not by me}.  and sweaty palmed introductions.
and emails followed by hand-written thank yous.
and more negations and clarifications.
and my boy has a job.  like his first step on the career ladder.
he finished college a quarter early &
landed a position with a consulting firm here in town...with benefits!
amen.  couldn't be more proud of that boy {man, actually.  he's 22 you know}.

and another birthday celebration!
am turned 25-quarter century baby!  wish i could cue some music here.
or even just a "bow-chicha-bow-wow".  say it in your head for me. please.
lunch date at our favorite place in old town with an evening of music at a local winery while listening to the band that played at their wedding...this was all on friday!
then on her actual day she hosted
an evening soiree with some couples & me and my fabulous date
tall-dark-handsome, sweet brown eyes!
the night was delightful and i left with a heart swollen in pride.
her entertaining in their new home.  that's my girl!

 the annual ski week in mammoth.  that's where pjm proposed to me.
those slopes will always hold a dear spot in my heart.
just me & my two boys & lots of fresh white powder.  that's not how spring skiing usually works.
delightful surprise to have two days of snow.
missed him & the way he could hockey stop on a dime.

and this month my eyes were glued to these pages...
chasing God by angie smith
on writing by stephen king
and i baked pans of these...a must try {except if you are on a diet}
sweet brown eyes begs for them & it's the perfect time to make them because the recipe calls for 
cadbury mini chocolate eggs-royal dark which are abound in the easter candy aisle!
loaded candy cookie bars-please, try them.  we do skip the white chocolate chips.
your scale will hate me for it.

thanks, march, for being a gentle lamb all month long.
i love gentle.  always.

Friday, March 21, 2014

abraham & isaac

i don't often write about specific bible stories because i am not a scholar of the bible...or anything actually.  so i am nervous to write this. i am afraid my unscholarlyness will show. someone will read the words and my understanding of the story and tell me i have it all wrong.  but it is the way my heart has heard this story.  and today it is okay with me that my heart has heard it this way.  and so i share.

in gensis 22 God asks abraham to sacrifice his son isaac.  and abraham obeys.  he takes his son up on a mountain and is going to offer him as a sacrifice-like kill his own son right there on that mountain top.  but at the very last moment, a ram appears in a bush.  the ram is isaac's replacement and is killed instead. abraham was obedient to God and He provided. and with humble reverence, abraham thanked the Lord for providing a ram in place of his son.

as a family, we have given generously of our time & resources.  quite frankly, it was easy being charitable.  we gave and God always provided.  and i never questioned where the finances came from-pjm, of course, and his astute business sense coupled with his work ethic.  through pjm, the God always provided.  honestly, the giving was easy.  it did not require great sacrifice on us as a family.  yes, pjm went to the philippines for three weeks to build a medical center and yes, i missed him and managed the home alone, but it was not a huge sacrifice.  we have sponsored numerous aid efforts, but not at the cost of feeling any discomfort at home.  none of this giving felt like a all.

but then in '09 when pjm was first diagnosed with substantial cognitive impairment, i turned to God.  moment by moment asking him to change this plan.  and there were many doctors advising me that it was depression, an autoimmune disease, a thyroid issue, vitamin deficiency. and i clung to those threads of hope, believing God would not take my husband-father of our children-president of a handful of companies.  i believed God would send a ram to be pjm's replacement just as he had done for isaac. i believed he would not allow my husband to continue to lose his ability to think & care for himself.  i believed at the very last moment, pjm would be healed.  i believed people would look at our situation as a medical miracle with pjm back doing what he did so well-working & providing for his family and employees.  i believed we were called to walk this difficult "medical" mountain because when we got to the peak, God would provide a ram in place of pjm.  i believed pjm was my isaac, but instead he is my ram.

and i scream at God to change all of this.  i am not brave enough, strong enough, wise enough to handle the loss of my husband.  please God, choose another family that can walk this path better than i can.  choose another family more christian than mine & has memorized the Bible back to front.  please God, chose a man that is an ass to his wife and loathes his children.  please God, chose a wife that hates her husband's existence and stays married because it is easier than divorce.  please God, chose someone who is old & doesn't have a family depending on his working hands.  please God, not me.  not this sacrifice.  not my husband.

i am sure those were the very same words abraham struggled with as he hiked up that mountain with his only son. and i sit in the middle of sick and loss and sad and still cling to the words that He will provide.  no, not like i had thought or prayed. but i know His words are truth & He will provide.  and i am learning this is what claiming to be a follower of Christ is about.  when life goes sideways, He still hears my utterances and sees my tears and knows i am so damn afraid.  and i give thanks for all He has provided.

Monday, March 17, 2014

workin' it...

i often play these crazy mind games.  i wonder when this season will come to an end.  how long will pjm live. i just want a rough timeline of how this disease is going to play out in our family.  in my head it seems it would help me plan some parts of my life a bit better. and i ask God too often if he could give me a clue.  point me in the right direction of knowing not so much where we are headed as a family but like when we will be headed to that next chapter.  all a bit morbid as my fingers dance over the keyboard, but honest.  i ponder our lack of a timeline at least 6.2 times a day and more times in the pitch black of night.

and then i do this other thing...i make hard choices and tackle challenges without him.  and after each achievement, i award myself a merit badge & sew it on an invisible vest i wear over my heart.  i have earned several merit badges in the past year.  for example the badge called "tell the banker it is none of his business why my husband cannot sign the loan documents-his executed power of attorney should be the answer to all your insensitive questions".  or the hard earned "put the thirteen year old family dog to sleep {like forever} because the vet said he needs two surgeries totaling $2,000 {and it had already cost me $426 for the diagnosis}".   or maybe the honor badge for reading the boys body book with sweet brown eyes after noticing dark hair not on his head.  lots of grown up actions pjm used to handle with ease, while i raised children & baked cookies & took all that "ease" for granted.  after each scouting badge i ceremoniously place on that invisible vest i look up to God, believing heaven is floating up above me, i ask "am i done now?  have i earned/learned enough yet?  was this the one more thing i need to master before You answer THAT prayer?"  i know.  it's crazy, but i told you that upfront. However, God doesn't work like that.  He doesn't have a big checklist with "chrissy" scribbled at the top.  He isn't waiting for me to complete all these big & scary tasks in order to prove to Him-me, i am capable and competent to handle life on my own.  but in my heart, it feels like that.  like i am attempting to earn pjm's way to heaven.

but then i remember God, my God, is not a God of works.  i don't have to perform this perfectly orchestrated dementia dance in order for Him to hear my prayers or wants.  He hears.  He just hasn't answered them.  and when He doesn't answer i begin to doubt He can hear me.  i doubt my importance as His child. i doubt this season will end.  and while i sit in a pot of doubts, i remain devoted to Him.

The Florkens
"mr thomas & me" & "the florkens" share their doubts & devotion each sunday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

forgetting to measure...

it's dusty and fume-y around "a gathering place"-it says this on the window above our front door. i have turned into a youtubing-pinterester, tackling many DIY projects here at home.

and the guest bedroom is my latest canvas.  since #teamthomas is busy settling into their new nest, i have decided it's time to change amber's old part-time bedroom/guest room into a full-time guest room.  the pink shabby chic walls will be exchanged for buttery yellow ones. grey-white-yellow replacing all the rosy petite flowers.

kind of like going from this...

to this!
and part of this transformation was to purchase a new mattress set.  the current pillow-top is like sleeping on a soft cotton cloud, but in practicality, it's too tall.  and too tall means the comfort & flat sheets are not capable of stretching their arms around & between the box springs and mattress.  and that bugs me. it looks sloppy and i care about the way things look {and i also believe this is a positive trait even though someone recently told me otherwise-"humph" on her}.

so my sweet macy's delivery men arrived with the new box springs & mattress on saturday.  and the gentleman yelled to me as i was outside.  sorry lady, this mattress doesn't fit.  what?  really?  i ordered a full & my bed frame is a queen.  i never thought to measure the existing frame or mattress.  i was positive the bed was a full.  felt so foolish.  but the nice macy's men said no worries, took back the mattress and will bring me a queen tomorrow.  how sweet are all of those macy's folks?  pretty darn kind to a woman who forgot to measure.

and the moral of this story?

size does matter.  at least when it comes to mattresses.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

marriage letters: what makes you come alive

hello dear readers-
this is part of amber & seth haines monthly marriage letters.  they provide a prompt on the first monday of each month. you can check them out at run a muck or seth haines.  they believe "when we bless our own marriage, we bless the marriage of others" and i think they are right.  

dear pjm.

i didn't want to write this one to you.  because of "that" and you are growing less alive each day...and you would say in a very sarcastic tone, "we are all a day closer to dying than we were yesterday" but with your "end" more obvious than mine, it was a prompt i wanted to bypass.  but then i remembered my intent behind writing you marriage letters: to leave behind a history of you+me, especially knowing it will be just "me" one day soon and our children & grandchildren might find them as valuable as that pottery barn dinnerware or john deere tractor we will leave them.

and when i think about when you were most alive, i wanted to write when we adventure with our children to cities and countries vastly different from home.  or on our weekly sunday night dates, leaving the olders at home taking care of sweet brown eyes.  we'd sit across from one another at harry's {did you know it has gone out of business? probably because we are not dating there anymore} and share a dinner with drinks. me & chardonnay. you & gin+tonic+lime.  or perhaps you want me to boast about how you could play the game...whatever the game was.  a foot race-crazy eights-golf-monolopy-tennis.  you loved the competition, but that is not what truly made you come alive.  yes, you were a family man & a doting husband, & a hell of a game player, but you were never so fully engaged as when you were working.

your life was constructing & building & coordinating.  and you would come alive at twelve midnight.  alarm set.  jeans, work boots, company t-shirt, baseball cap and carhartt jacket embroidered with "laser screed rentals". driving your unmarked F-150 up to a job site on brisk, dark nights.  light towers beckoned you from miles away.  concrete trucks filed one behind the other like frustrated patrons at the DMV.  there was a confidence & sureness in your step, experiencing the hustle & purpose of all those on site.  and you stopped to converse and shake hands not just with the "big guns" as you called them, but with the laborers and pump crew busy pouring concrete at o-dark-thirty.  you climbed up on that expensive ass tractor and clap your operator on the back, inquiring how the pour was going. in the middle of mud, men and construction was where you were most alive.

and as i sit here without you, i realize your passion for work defined you.  i recognize it made you feel most alive because it provided.  not just for me-you-our precious family, but for each of those workers on that site in the dark of night.  you were most alive when you provided an opportunity for others to work hard and improve their lives as well as the lives of their families, and that is what makes you a doting husband & devoted father & ultimate winner of the game.

and as i watch you let go of life, i most believe you were fully alive when you were providing.


p.s.  would love to share dinner & a bottle of chardonnay with you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

dear february...

dear february....
way to hold out until the very last day to do a little winter like role play with us.
it seems you dumped more rain in 24 hours than you have all season.
and all that dampness made my hair wavy.
i looked as if i had gone to the hairdresser so she could coif my locks
into that spiral perm i had in the 90s.
is this part of being #niftyfifty-random & wild curly mane?

and big moves here at home.  more like away from home.
#teamthomas moved into their first home a few miles from me.
and i am adapting to another change as best as i know how!

and sweet brown eyes was a "hero" at school.
 he received recognition at the school-wide flag salute & in his class.
he shared photos & items that define who he is.
and as we poured over a box of old photos a few days prior,
 his honest words amazed me.
"no mom. no photos of dad. don't want kids to ask about him. that's too sad
to talk about in the middle of my classroom."
  amen son.  couldn't agree more.  so damn sad.
and he then graciously accepted my tears in the middle of that school room.
and yes, he was a hero at school that one week, but at home?
 my hero.  every week.

and the reality of being a single mom struck me-like a bolt of lightning.
like it's all me.  my job to make sure those sweet brown eyes are shaped into a man.
respectful. responsible. honest.  a man i would want my daughter to marry.
daunting task to ponder in the dark of night.
i did the most mature, adult-like thing i could think.
i cried myself to sleep.  and then woke at 2:16 am and cried some more.
thankfully i have this frozen eye mask that semi-cures those crybaby swollen eyelids.
and i know there are so many in our lives that are here for us,
but ultimately-it's all on my shoulders.
and that's scary as shit. in the dark of night.
{and some days even at high noon}
and i remind myself it's like a marathon.  train today.
and during the race, take it a mile at a time.  don't focus on mile 23 till you are a bit closer.
just run the mile you are running.

and reading this month.
not many books.  only one in fact.
the goldfinch.
it deserved its own little post.
honestly, it seems detailed remix of catcher in the rye in my opinion.
holden & theo-two birds of a feather.

speaking of theo...have you seen @mommasgonecity on instagram?
she has a boy & a dog.  #theoandbeau.  adorable. all. day. long.
if you don't have instagram.  get it.  if you do.  follow her.

and "one little word" is going well.  nourish.
and i did sign-up to for a pen pal.  we exchanged our first letters.
she told me about her life...then share her husband had an additciton to porn.
my fingers are now speechless, floundering at what to write back.
any suggestions? is ignoring that detail the "right" pal thing to do?
holy smokes.  way to dish it in the first letter.

and my crockpot simmered this up for us the other night
chicken tortilla soup-i added canned shoe-peg corn instead of frozen.
delicious.  a must try.
and so is this italian wedding soup from the blog "life{in}grace"-amazing!
but add the spinach just a few minutes before serving
otherwise it feels slimy, and you likes that mouthfeel?
not me.  you?  most likely not. ever.

february.  thanks for being gentle.