Thursday, May 29, 2014

marriage letters: how we "co-work"

dear pjm.

i know, love, sounds like labor doesn't it.  like childbirth.  but it isn't.  no, no.  no more babies.  promise-except for those "grand" ones. no, this is about how we labored. you know, how we worked together as a team.  you+me = a union of glory greater than either one of us alone.

my very first impulse was to remind you how we labored mostly like toddlers.  you know how they "parallel play"-standing next to each other at the sand table, but the only interaction is when one needs the other's shovel or tractor?  we parallel labored so often.  you in your office looking across the hall at me in mine.  in close proximity to one another, but not working hand in hand.

then i remembered that RV trip we took once like two silver-haired senior citizens, except i was 35 & you 45 and we were parenting those two elementary-age blondies.  we loaded that "trailer" as you like to call it with your isuzu trooper hooked to the rear and drove to Washington D.C.  then we made a u-turn and returned back to california.    with a whole lot less technology at our fingertips, we navigated our way across the country with one thick U.S. Atlas-pages of tangled interstates & highways like veins running through ones body.  it opened up about the size of a newspaper.  each evening we would look at it together and chart out a path for our next day's adventures.

you did all of the driving.  i did all of the navigating.  just like siri dictates directions to me now, i sat in the passenger's chair and ordered each and every turn for 3,000 miles as we traversed across the country.  and you listened and turned and merged and sometimes u-turned when i was wrong. i could never have driven our 36-foot home along with a tow vehicle for even three miles or three-quarters of a mile. but following a map from point a to point b was never a gift you were blessed with.  together we labored our way-each depending upon the other.

that trip is a metaphor for our lives-our marriage.  so often we would sit in our bedroom, you in your corduroy tan chair and me in my floral one, with our feet resting on the same ottoman.  we would verbally spread out our "marriage" map and discuss where we had been and the new direction we wanted to head as a couple & family.  there were seasons when you would have to redirect my moral compass away from me & back toward God.  and i, too, would do the same for you.  together we labored at giving up ourselves for one another in hopes of shining a flicker of God's greatness into this world.

and today, as i sit alone with my feet on that very same ottoman we shared, i realize this disease that has manifested itself in you continues to work me into a better person.  more kindness-less selfishness, more peace-less discord, more faithfulness-less disregard, more patience-less intolerance.  you, love, continue to labor at refining my edges and allowing God's light to shine through our marriage.  you continue to give up of yourself and mold me into a better person.

love you & so dearly miss you.
your co-pilot

this is part of marriage letters.  a monthly prompt.  this months was "how we co-labor".  you can read amber's on the runamuck or seth's here at sethhaines.  and you can write your very own to your love and link up for the rest of us to read!  will you join me?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

chasing crow...

so my chicks have turned into prepubescent chickens or as the farmers calls them "pullets". they have a bit of sass & no longer liked being confined to a toddler swimming pool surrounded by a dog fence inside my garage.  seemed like the ritz of chick living to me, but i guess not as i would open the roll-up garage door and they would be pecking their feathery little selves around the garage.  last week i moved them out to the coop in hopes of allowing them to literally spread their wings.  the coop is within my garden and is surrounded by a white picket fence in the middle of our backyard {all vital info for you, the reader, to be privy to}.

i am by nature an anxious person & was sure a hawk would swoop down and whisk one of my girls away.  additionally, i really know nothing about farm life or chicken rearing, and while i have googled umpteen questions i still really am clueless about what i am doing.  it's kind of like when you bring that first baby home from the hospital & regardless of the number of maternity and infant books read, that first cry leaves you with a pit in your gut that you did not somehow properly prepared for this very moment.  at least that's how it was for me-if that mothering thing came oh so natural for you, i am envious.

so for the first few days, i would arrive home & hustle out to the garden to confirm the safety of my three girls.  they were often huddled together underneath the shelter of a tomato plant.  it took a few days for them to become adventurous & explore their new world.

friday afternoon i walked out to the mailbox to retrieve all the junk mail i receive and noticed donna, one of my chickens, on the grass near the mailbox!  i wish for a photo to explain how entirely impossible this feat could be for this chicken.  she would have had to fly over two 5 foot fences & traverse 96.3 feet of ground to get to the mailbox.  yes, chickens can be adventurous but the likeness of this happening is close to impossible.  but in that moment, after a long day of helping sweet brown eyes & 61 other fifth graders impersonate colonists coupled with the smoke & ash from our southern california wildfires, i lacked clear thinking and sound judgement…and panic arose as i tossed the penny saver & pizza coupons to the ground and began chasing donna so i could return her to my garden.

i was keenly aware of a murder of crows swooping down to peck me while others cried out in the branches of the tree above my sweet {and foolish} head.  but it was my mission to rescue this chicken i had raised {for all of two months}, so i continued to dash to and fro hoping to clutch her gently and remove her from harm's way.  in the dashing, i realized she was missing the comb that has begun to sprout on her head.  in the bustle, i noticed she had lost her tan chest feathers that are intermingled with the black ones.  in the madness, i was keenly aware this was not, in fact, my chicken i was chasing but a teenage crow.

and i giggled & prayed none of the neighbors had seen my misguided heroic actions & realized all those crows were just protecting one of their own.  i was repeating the story to my family over dinner and they too laughed at my antics, but then amber hinted at something so profound in the middle of the crow chase.

how often do each of us chase dreams, relationships, careers, possessions believing it is truly ours to own.  how often have i felt ownership was mine-either because i had earned it or was just entitled?  i was thankful for a moment of clarity-"hey that's not my chicken.  it's a crow!"-but i wonder how many moments i failed to pause and truly assess the authenticity of something before grasping at it.  how many other "crows" have i chased in life believing it was my calling to have, when in fact, it was never mine to own.

dear crow.
sorry to get you & your family all in an uproar.
it was a case of mistaken identity.
i apologize for getting you & me in a panic.
misguided chicken owner

dear God.
how ridiculous did i look chasing after that crow?
thanks for the lesson in the ordinary of life.
help me to pause & take note of what is genuine & life-giving.
it is so easy to be distracted by emotions & desires & entitlement.
chaser of crows

Friday, May 9, 2014

i am not a basketball fan; therefore, i am.

sweet brown eyes loves basketball.  he has an alert on his phone {let's not get into a kid having a cell phone discussion} notifying him when his favorite team, the thunder, is playing and the scores during each quarter of the game.  his all-time favorite player is kevin durant. every friday he wears his "kd" jersey to school.  when he goes to the barber he asks for the "kevin durant" minus the sideburns.  he can rattle of "kd" stats & facts fasted then that fedex pitchman.

to be honest, i am not a basketball fan.  i am a fan of my sweet brown eyes, and sweet brown eyes is a "kd" fan; therefore, i am a "kd" fan.  this was called circular reasoning back when i was in high school.

and the other night when durant was named NBA MVP for 2013-14 season {hope i have all of that information correct because i am a fan after all}, he gave a heartfelt acceptance speech.  sweet brown eyes and i watched & listened together.  take a moment, or 26 minutes to be exact, to watch it yourself. i needed a few tissues; you might too.

one line continues to echo in my mind.  he thanked God for giving him basketball as a platform to inspire other people.  and i realize this is why i openly share my life & our sickness.  God is using pjm's illness & death as a platform to inspire others who are struggling.  i could quietly lay in a heap in bed and talk to God about the hows, whys and whens but if i am brave enough to share, perhaps our storm could give words-emotions-and most importantly faith to someone else who is walking what feels like an impossible path. perhaps knowing another aches in a way that will never heal, will give encouragement to face the most daunting of days.  perhaps the love-support-grace that has grown within the circle of our family challenges someone to seek refuge in the arms of their own family or to offer grace & forgiveness to someone who desperately needs it but cannot ask because vulnerability is too frightening.

dear "kd".
my sweet brown eyes is watching your every move & listening to all your words
both on and off the basketball court.
thanks for being a man he can look up to
even if you say occasional"bad words" during practice.
he is going to stand a little taller today
full of pride with "DURANT" hung across his shoulders.
mom of your #1 fan

dear mama durant.
you have raised a man of God-humble & full of integrity.
learning to be a single mom is plain scary to me,
but you along with your son's words encourage me.
do they make a t-shirt that says "kd's mom's #1 fan"?
if so, could i order one in a small & wear it every friday?
inspired mom

dear God.
i have said it before. i would trade everything,
in this case let's say enough basketballs to circle the globe, to have pjm healthy,
but that's not the plan You have.
continue to give me words that point to You
even if for only one other set of eyes to see.

Monday, May 5, 2014

why i don't pray he will be healed...

unbelief.  i don't want to give life to the whispers of my heart.  can i believe & fully trust God, yet not expect a miracle?  is praying for death blasphemy?  if i say a medical healing is impossible, am i a woman of little faith?  or perhaps no faith at all?

loving, well-intentioned friends tell me pjm can be healed and they pray specifically for his body to remain healthy enough so a team of doctors can find the perfect fix and cure him of his dementia.  and while i have witnessed miracles here on earth with my own eyes & ears, deep in my heart i do not believe pjm will ever be cured of his dementia until he passes away and leaves this earth & his body & brain behind.  it is then he will be cured. once he is with Jesus, his withering body & disease racked mind will be made new.

if pjm were physically healed and returned to our family & his work place, it would only be temporary. none of the miracle healings performed in the bible granted anyone a life of physical eternity here on earth.  the blind who could see again eventually died.  lazuras, raised from the dead, eventually died again.  the leaper whose faith made him well, eventually died.  the woman, whose continued flow of blood stopped, eventually died.  even Jesus who died & was resurrected ascended into heaven and no longer walks the earth as a man.  our bodies are temporary.  God designed our souls to be immortal, not the fancy package we happen to have it encased in here on earth.

death of our physical bodies is inevitable.  therefore, i will chose to find joy, grace and God in the middle of watching my husband lose a battle that each of us will eventually be called to fight.  where my confidence rests is knowing pjm's destination is heaven bound.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

dear april...

my dearest april.

you have kept me hustling this month!  and a little hustle is good for me.  we added 10 feet to our home during the first week which is where all the hustle has come from.  three chicks & one precious, over-the-moon in love puppy has brought new life and reminds me of spring and the new beginnings it offers.

we live on 2 1/2 acres which i just love because it's plenty of land but so very close to the market & freeway.  lots of neighbors have horse, which i am almost deathly afraid especially when we are on the same side of the fence.  i have always wanted chickens...i think because my granny always had them and she would take my sister & me by the hand into the henhouse to harvest all those eggs her girls had laid.  pjm forbid chickens...he said they would bring coyotes who would then eat calvin, the jack russell he despised.  unfortunately, cantankerous calvin, had to be put to sleep at the start of the year, so i did what any grieving "my husband has dementia & my dog is dead" woman would do. i purchased chicks! we have three-with four more on the way!  and they grow faster than a crowd of high schoolers watching a few fellow classmates pummel one another.  they won't lay eggs for another few months, but this farmgirl is excited to follow in her granny's footsteps.  scoot built them an amazing coop the week before he started his job!

as me & the boys were leaving the feed store, we found a flier for puppies, and are now in the throws of house training him!  you can meet rex by clicking here!  he continues to melt my heart especially because he is an amazing sleeper at night!

and all of this new life is refreshing as we watch pjm wither away.  he is literally disappearing before our very eyes. that can happen with dementia-the brain forgets how to process calories so in spite of his hearty appetite & ability to eat, his weight continues to drop.  and it is sad & frightening but seems he is moving closer to heaven. and that is where the blessing will be found, knowing he is slowly making that trek toward resting with God.

and the very last night of the month was filled with bitter-sweet as i walked the halls of sweet brown eyes' school with him so jovial at my side.  pointing left & right, full of fifth-grade pride as he showed me all there is to see at my last elementary school open house. scoot was in fifth grade at that very same school when we were blessed with him.  hard to believe he is off to middle school.  one of us is over the moon excited about what a new school will bring. the other is comfortable in the safety net we have in elementary school. can you guess who's excited and who isn't so much?

pjm was an avid motorcycle rider-dirt, bullet, harley-he loved them all.  and we own a few but it gets tricky because he doesn't have a license to ride them anymore.  i have never had a license to ride them. and i can't insure them because i don't have the proper license.  just take my word, registering them & owning them is all a complicated mess.  we received a notice from the state that they were going to come and confiscate my home-children-pup-chickens if i did not pay the fees on one of the bikes.  i take myself into AAA with my inch high file of forms i have completed numerous times. the kind lady says the hitch in the paperwork pile is i filed that one bike "non-use" not "non-operational".  i must file is both ways for the dmv.  funny because when i look up "use" in the thesaurus right there four words down is says "operate" but according to the dmv, those are two very different things…both of which cost me money.

dear state of ca,
i just paid you income taxes-both for last year and an estimate for this year on the 14th.
it seems like i am paying you to create more work & confusion.
that's beyond annoying.
non-liker of pointless paperwork

dear kind AAA employee,
yes, those were tears in my eyes today.
no it wasn't the fee.  it was the reminder of the status of my life.
thanks for shredding that 3/4 inch of unnecessary documents.
loyal customer

dear God,
thanks for busy feet scratching the ground & running a muck in the yard.
content farmgirl

the chicks the day they arrived just days old.

the girls a month later!