Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When Other Sources Cease To Make Me Whole

The title of this post was taken from the song Where Can I Turn For Peace an LDS Hymn.

*** This post was written by John Mullineaux. I just happen to love it.

I Remember Not

A man kneels, beaten down by the circumstances of life when suddenly, a shadow falls on him. He raises his head to see another man who seems familiar but he just can't place this newly arrived man. In his self pity, he doesn't even care enough to try.

“What doest thou?”
“I pray to my God for comfort, for love, for strength, and for courage as much as it is expedient for him to bless me with such.”
“Thou doest not look comforted, loved, or strengthened.”
“I do not feel such either.”
“Why doest thou pray for these things? Hast thou suffered some great tragedy in thy life?”
“I have.”
“Does thy God not answer thee?”
“I know not.”
“How could thou know not? Thou hast asked a question. Surely thou would know if thou hast receieved an answer.”
“I know not.”
“ Thou saidst thou hast asked for comfort, love and strength. Thou also saidst that thou feelest not these things. Is it not clear then that hast received no such answer?”
“I know not.”
“How could thou believe on a God who would suffer this happen to thee?”
“I know not.”
“Then it must be that there is no such God. Would thou wasteth thy time believing on and sacraficing to one who doth not exist? What hath it profiteth thou?”
“I know not.”
“Then it hath become clear to me that thou truly wasteth thy time worshipping and praying to one who does not answer. Thou shalt follow me and do that which is expedient unto thine own desires.”

It was then that the kneeling man turned his gaze upward again and recognized the shadowcaster this time. It was the king of all liars. And it became clear to the kneeling man that the liar would that he should renounce his God and commit all manner of iniquity.

He began to rise from his knees with the intent of following the liar to whatever end he would lead. No sooner than his knees left the floor, a still, small voice in his heart spoke to him.

“What doest thou?”
“I seek the comfort and happiness denied me by my God.”
“So thou would believe that thy God would deny thee one of the things that he has promised all men?”
“I do not feel as if he has granted me such.”
“Art thou ready to receive it?”
“I am disquited. I have asked. What more is there?”
“Thou must soften thy heart and believe that thou shall receive comfort.”
“What does it mean to soften my heart?”
“Many times, trials will harden thy heart against the Lord. Thou mayest believe that the Lord would not allow such if he lovest you. Naught could be further from the truth. Trials may come into thy life to strengthen thee. Trials may come into thy life to strengthen others and hurt thee in the process. If thou harden thy heart, thou can not receive of the Lord’s mercy or comfort. If thou can not soften thine own heart unto the Lord, thou can pray for that also.”
“Why should the Lord soften the heart of one who has hardened it against him?”
“Because he lovest all men and he has made unto all men a promise. Would thou like to hear the Lord’s promise?”
“I would.”
“The Lord hath said, ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believeing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.’”
“So, the Lord shall soften my heart and comfort me if I but ask and believe that he will do it?”
“He will. Try it.”

The man returned to his knees with tears in his eyes and begged these things of the Lord. When the liar saw him kneel to pray once more, the liar spoke again screaming as if in anguish.

“What are you doing? I have already told you! Your God will not answer your prayers! Now come with me and I will make you happy!”

I remembered then that the liar is more miserable than anyone who has ever lived. I remembered that he would lead away all God’s children that they would be miserable like him. I felt the comfort and power of the Lord enter me as I prayed, with real intent, for the first time in I don’t remember how long. I rose to my feet and felt the Spirit of God flow through my body. I felt the words of the Lord fill my mouth as I spoke.

“Leave! Leave me and never return! My God loves me, his spirit comforts me and his son has redeemed me! And You! You have brought me nothing but misery and heartache! Now go!”

The shadow disappeared. I know that he will return many times to try again. But now I also know that the Lord will be there to protect me…if I just ask and believe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm Having A Bad Bad Day. If You Take It Personal Well That's Okay.

     The title of this post was taken from the theme song of Despicable Me by Pharrell.
      Taxes, that word has become a 5 letter word that I don't like being said in my house right now. It might get you grounded if you do. Let me explain. About a month ago I finally had everything I needed to file. I decided to try and file online this year with Turbo Tax. I put in all my information and e-filed it. Two days later I got a rejection notice from Federal and State stating that Mike's pin number did not match the one in the governments system. I called Turbo tax, spent an hour and a half on the phone with them and in the end they just had me resubmit. I received another rejection e-mai. Two more hours on the phone, we made a few tweaks to my taxes and submitted them. Want to take a guess at what happened? If you guessed that they were rejected you would be correct. Two more hours on the phone with a tax specialist that said he had absolutely no idea why they were being rejected, but we made a few more changes and we resubmitted them. I'd give you two chances to guess what happened, but you'd only need one. So, after the fourth rejection I said forget it I would simply take them to someone and have them do it for me.
     I have a folder that I keep all my tax stuff in. After I had put everything into Turbo tax, I put everything back in that folder and put it away. When I went back to get it all out to make an appointment with someone, I realized that Mike's W2 was not in there. I've looked everywhere. I have no idea where it went. I feel like one of my kids and keep telling myself "If you'd truly put it in there, then it'd be there. It didn't grow legs and just walk out of the house!" I hate when I sound like myself to myself. Anyway, two weeks ago I call Westvaco to see about getting a copy. They give me the number to their benefits department and told me to call them.  I call and they say it will take 3-5 days for someone to open the case and call me back. When they finally call me back they tell me without proof that I have power of attorney over his estate they will not send me one. I almost threw my phone, because this is starting to sound like a previous conversation with a bank found here. I calmly stated that this was automatically my right as his wife, and that the deputy clerk of courts said they would not issue me a power of attorney number because it was my RIGHT as his WIFE! They sent my case to a specialist in the benefits department. A week passes and I hear nothing so I call them. The case specialist says that they don't handle W2 stuff in their office and they give me another number to call. I call that number and they transfer me back to the first department. When they pick up I explain everything again, and they transfer back to the other people. Finally after getting pretty irate with the woman on the phone she says she will email me the form I need to fill out in order to have the W2 reprinted. I printed the form, filled it out, scanned it in, and resent it to the company. Two days later I get an email stating that without the power of attorney number they will not process my request and gave me the number to the first department I had talked to if I had any questions. Seriously?!
     Anyway, after I received that e-mail I was beyond furious. I called the company explained everything to a lady named Michele and when I finished explaining it all she hung up on me. There just are no words to describe my frustration. I call back, and get someone on the phone that I had previously yelled at, she remembered me, but listened patiently as I cried and yelled my litany of complaints and my one request. She said she couldn't do anything but that she would forward it all on to her supervisor, Carlos, who originally opened the case and he would call me back. This means that today at school I had to carry my cell phone on me, and leave it on vibrate on the off chance he would call me back. So, when I hadn't heard anything by lunch I called them back and asked to speak with Carlos, they said he was not available, but that he would call me back before the end of the business day. So, 4:30 comes and do you think I've heard from him yet, no. I called them back and once again asked to speak with Carlos. I waited on the phone for ten minutes. The lady finally came back on the phone and said that Carlos was in a meeting and could not come to the phone, but that he asked her to tell me that he had spoke with HR and Mike's W2 would be mailed out first thing Monday morning. Great, now I have to wait until the middle of next week to see if they were telling the truth or lying. I find it incredibly hard to believe that almost a year after his death I'm still dealing with stuff like this. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Can Wait I Forgot My Mittens. Wipe My Nose, Get My New Boots On.

     The title of this post was taken from the song Winter by Tori Amos.
     It snowed! We must have about 8 inches.  Mason stayed with my mom again last night, and Tyler stayed with Mandaly. It ended up just being Sebastian and I at home. We had so much fun talking, watching movies, and playing video games. I loved that one on one time. He opens up to me more when it's just the two of us. We both went to bed, and I got up around 6:30. I decided it was time to go out and shovel the driveway.
    I've always enjoyed shoveling snow, but as I walked out the door I realized that I liked it because it was optional. I didn't have to do it. I did it because I wanted to lighten Mike's work load. I liked having the driveway cleared when he came home from work so that he didn't have to worry about it. As I picked up the new shovels he bought last year, it hit me that this is no longer an option. I either do it or it doesn't get done. Here is part of the driveway that we share with our neighbor. 

So, I started to shovel, and shovel, and shovel some more. I thought about my dad as I slowly moved down the driveway. Dad always shoveled his driveway and several of the neighbors, and then he would do their walkways. There was never any questions asked. I made it to the bottom of the drive and smiled at my handy work.

Then I looked over to my neighbors house. He is an older gentleman and his porch is usually cleared off way before ours. However, this morning it was still snow covered. I took my shovel and cleared his walkway, and then came back to work on ours. Dad never made a big deal about helping the neighbors, he just did, and then we learned through example. I decided to do the same thing. I wasn't going to brag to the kids that I had helped this gentleman out. However, when Mason came home from mom's today he was walking around in the driveway, and he paused for a second. He looked at our walkway, then over at John's, back at ours, and back over to John's. "Mom, you need to learn to shovel like John. Look how neat his sidewalk is, and look at ours." My response "Yea, well John has more experience than mommy." My cute little man. I guess later I will take them out sledding. Once again this is something I've always enjoyed doing with them, but most of the time Mike was with us. I'm not sure why knowing that its only me makes it feel twelve times harder. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Miss Your Take On Anything, And The Music You Would Play

     The title of this post was taken from the song Torch by Alanis Morisettee.

    I saw someone I graduated with the other day. I hadn't seen them since graduation. Their first question was "What have you been up to since 1997?" Wow, what have I been up to since then. Not much...I was married for 14 years, had three children, earned two Masters degrees, and now I'm a widow.  That's my life in a nutshell. 
     We took Michael out to dinner for his birthday today. It was good to spend time with the family. In the end my mom took home Mason and Tyler for a sleepover, and Sebastian is staying with Mandaly. I am sitting at home alone. Sometimes when my days are busy I think I want peace and quiet, but the truth is I don't handle it very well. My house is quiet except for the heat when it comes on, and the music I am playing. I tried to sleep upstairs, but there are several problems with that. One, I've turned my bed into a big clothes rack. I don't sleep upstairs so a good portion of my clothes get laid out on the bed. The next problem is that I don't think I can sleep up there alone. I use the kids as an excuse to sleep on the couch, but I think really I'm trying not to deal with a big empty bed. I don't want to feel the weight of having no children in the house along with sleeping in a bed that fits two people better than one. So here I sit listening to my music. I have nothing poetic or interesting to write tonight. Just the ramblings of a woman who is way too tired. This sums it all up so here are the lyrics from the song Torch by Alanis Morisettee. 
 I miss your smell and your style and your pure abiding way
Miss your approach to life and your body in my bedMiss your take on anything and the music you would playMiss cracking up and wrestling our debriefs at end of day
These are things that I missThese are not times for the weak of heartThese are the days of raw despondenceAnd I never dreamed I would haveTo lay down my torch for you like this
I miss your neck and your gait and your sharing what you writeMiss you walking through the front door, documentaries in your handMiss traveling, our traveling and your fun and charming friendsMiss our Big Sur getaways and to watch you love my dogs
These are things that I missThese are not times for the weak of heartThese are the days of raw despondenceAnd I never dreamed I would haveTo lay down my torch for you like this
One step, one prayer, I soldier onSimulating, moving on
I miss your warmth and the thought of us bringing up our kidsAnd the part of you that walks with your stick-tied handkerchief
These are things that I missThese are not times for the weak of heartThese are the days of raw despondenceAnd I never dreamed I would haveTo lay down my torch for you like this
Mike did you catch that? Do you see how much I freaking miss you? Do you get that...of course you do. You see everything we are doing. Are you watching me fail?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It Will All Be All Right, I’ll Be Home Tonight

     The title of this post is from the song Home by Michael Buble.

     I'm horrible at making decisions, and this is why I'm not good at multiple choice questions. I always second guess the answer I pick first, and then I spend crazy amounts of time trying to figure out if I'm right or if it's a trick question. I'm like this with other things in my life too, so I often come off as indecisive to other people. 
     Friday, my dad and I went over to meet with someone from the company that's going to build our home. We are still working out the loan details, and hopefully I will know something more certain at the beginning of the week. Overall I know what I want for this house, and I've blogged about it, 2,500 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, all on one floor, a wheelchair ramp, and an open floor plan. The problem is that those specifications are not the only things I have to make decisions about. Dad walked into the office Friday with a list of 21 questions to ask. I'm sure that they have never had someone be as thorough as my dad. I'm so incredibly grateful he is here to help me ask the questions I didn't even know needed to be asked. We are going back Thursday to go over some more things, and the guy said that I could starting picking out things if I wanted, like cabinets, countertops, and things like that. He said expect to spend three hours picking stuff out...THREE HOURS OF DECISION MAKING?! Say what?! I mean I know that it's important, and I know that I need to pick what I want, but my goodness. How am I supposed to make a decision on what color vinyl siding I want, knowing that once they order it I can't change my mind. What if two weeks from now my mood has changed and I don't like what I originally picked out? This might be a really long process! It's also going to be a bit of give and take. I'm going to give up some of the extras that I don't really need in order to get the things I do need. We will see.
    I am trying to figure out a way to incorporate Mike into the building of this house. I think I'm going to see about having the kids put their handprints somewhere in the concrete for the porch when it is poured. I thought about adding something of Mike's, but I don't know what. It sounds weird I know. I know that doing something like this is not what will make him part of our home, but I want him to be a part of the process. I'll have to think about it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Will Not Fall. I Will Not Fade. I Will Take Your Breath Away.

The title of this post was taken from the song I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin.

     A manila envelope came in the mail a few days ago. Two pieces of paper were inside. I pulled out the letter first and began to read...
"Enclosed is your five year renewable license issued by the Virginia Board of Education."
The next piece of paper was my teaching license. I had to renew it this year. As I stared at that cream colored paper with the gold seal, I began to think about where I was in life five years ago when the original license was issued. That license was issued June 2007. I had just finished my student teaching. I graduated with my Masters degree in Elementary Education, and I had started the Masters program for Special Education. Mason turned one year old that month. In the fall Tyler started kindergarten and Sebastian started second grade. I was offered my first teaching job that fall. Mike and I juggled the life that was three kids and two working parents. 
     Fast forward five years. I'm sitting in my classroom, which is just down the hall from where I student taught, holding my new teaching license. This is my second year at this school, and my fifth year teaching. Things have changed. Now, I'm a widow. Mason is in kindergarten, Tyler is in 4th grade, and Sebastian has moved on to the 6th grade. I am the one juggling the life that is three kids and one working parent. I'm not nearly as together now as I was five years ago, funny though how hard I thought things were back then. 
     Fast forward five more years. My current license will expire in June of 2017. Mason will be ready to go into 6th grade that fall, Tyler will start her sophomore year in high school, and my dear sweet Sebastian will begin his senior year. What will our lives look like in that dynamic? I can't even begin to imagine, and honestly I don't want to think about it to much. I want to live in the moment and enjoy right now. I want to live with no regrets. However, when I let myself think that far ahead, I try to picture who I will have become. Will I have reached some of the goals I've now set for myself? Will I have grown and expanded on my knowledge or will I let the devastating events from this last year hold me back? Will my kids be proud of who they are, will I have raised them in a way that they know who they are and what they stand for? Will Mike be able to look down on us and be proud of who we have become? Will I have used these life altering events to squander personal growth, or will I learn from the lessons they have provided? I guess we will know in five years. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life

  The title of this post was taken from the song TIme Of Your Life by Green Day.

     No words. Just tears. Overwhelming grief in the dark quiet moments that surround me as my loves sleep. My body shakes as desperation washes over me, and I've lost my inner struggle to be strong. I am consumed with memories that I will never get back, memories that I will never make. All I ever wanted in life was to make him happy. He had the most beautiful smile, but he saved it for genuine moments of joy. I lived for those moments. He always told me he needed me in his life to be happy, but that I was charismatic enough that I could live without him. I wonder if now he sees my aching soul and knows he is wrong.
     I'm so tired. I'm so emotionally worn out. I'm so exhausted with the everyday that is my life. I'm inundated with things that I know I need to do, that good mothers would do, but I can't seem to get it together. I miss having Mike here to balance me out. I miss being able to divide and conquer the everyday routines. I'm giving in to the tears, I'll cry myself to sleep.

"Another turning point a fork stuck in the road. Time grabs you by the wrist directs you where to go. So make the best of this test and don't ask why. It's not a question but a lesson learned in time it's something unpredictable but in the end there's right, I hope you had the time of your life."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's A New Dawn. It's A New Day. It's A New life For Me.

The title of this post was taken from the song Feeling Good by Michael Buble.
Home...I have two of them. Two places that bring about those safe, warm feelings of what a home should feel like. My first home is the one I grew up in. I lived in the same house until I got married and moved out at 18. My parents still live there. Our home was always full of bustle, but it was home. I knew I was safe from the outside world there, and I had two loving parents to guide me as I grew up. My second home is the one I bought with Mike. Mike and I bought the house we are in now in 1999. This is the only house my kids have ever lived in. It is full of family memories. Every inch of this house was turned into our home as we grew and we created memories. The kids remember things that I've long forgotten. They remember the marshmallow fight we had in the house, and how we found marshmallows for months after that. They remember their dad turning up the music and dancing through the house as he cleaned. Their memories are endless. 
     Mike and I had already decided at the beginning of 2011 that we were going to start saving for a new house. We have outgrown this one, and we knew it was time to do something different. After he passed I talked to the kids about what to do. I had thought about selling this one and building one that would have made Mike proud. Sebastian was devastated by this prospect. He broke down and cried at the thought of not owning this home. I decided then that I would never sell it, but would rent it out instead. My dad owns some land right behind his house, and he has worked so hard to clear it and make it nice. We had always wanted to do something on that land and now seems like the perfect time. I've looked at so many modular homes, and gone over so many options. After going over everything I decided to have a company stick build the house. We are just in the beginning stages, I've picked the floor plan, and I'm making all the changes I need to the design. There is still a lot of prep work to be done before construction can begin, but we are beyond excited. 
     I am so incredibly grateful that I have my dad to help me with this process. I am grateful for his education, and his dedication to always doing a job right. He is an electrician, and he knows all the right questions to ask, and all the right things to ask for. Without his wealth of knowledge I would be pretty lost. I am so proud of who he is, and that I get to call him dad. I hope that my kids always feel that way about me. I'm grateful for the lessons, on the value of education, that both my parents gave me. That was my little plug for education or simply learning something new. You never know when you or someone else you love will need it.
      Family is so important to me, and one more thing that I made a priority in picking our design was figuring in Mikayla, my niece, and her needs. I knew I wanted a minimum of 2,500 sq feet, and it had to have four bedrooms. The other things I needed were extra wide door ways to accommodate her wheelchair, and a wheelchair ramp so that it's easy for her to get into the house. This also meant a ranch style home, because it all needed to be on one floor. I also wanted a very open floor plan that way she could go anywhere in the house she wanted to. I anticipate many many sleepovers in this new house, and I desperately want her to have as much independence at our home as she does at her own. If you are interested in looking at the basic floor plan for the house you can click here. If you haven't checked out Mandaly's new video of Mikayla you can also look at that here. Really if you haven't seen her video go check it out...like go now...it will only take  few minutes...you'll be inspired if you do...my house can wait, go look at her video...here is the link again...did you go check it out?...are you lying?...wasn't it awesome! Love that child, and I can not wait to live in a house that accommodates our needs AND hers.