Category Archives: Whining

In which I complain — and other stuff

I am 31 weeks pregnant.  I had two and a half glorious months, post-morning-sickness, where I felt AMAZING.  Now, my large belly has caught up with me, and I am feeling rather crabby and swollen and it’s hard to breathe, and I generally feel uncomfortable.  I’m also getting exhausted in a way… well, prior to my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome*.  I remember how it felt in the evening, anticipating even ONE outing the following day, and having to fight despondency, because I knew that ONE outing would wipe me out, entirely.  That is where I’m at, now.

Until the last few weeks, the worst I could say was that the mass of varicose veins on the back of my right leg was giving me pain.  All things considered, being a 39-year-old pregnant woman, I figured that was quite good.  I got my stinkin’ expensive “pregnancy support garment” — which is very much like a girdle, or a compression garment.  On one hand, it’s a blessing:  It allows me to walk around without feeling like my leg is going to fall off;  it minimizes the pain and pressure, as well, from vaginal varicosities.  However… it is 80% nylon and 20% spandex which, apparently, my skin doesn’t appreciate.  If I wear it for too long, I get hives.  But if I’m NOT wearing it, I can literally be on my feet for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time.

I went to Illinois this past weekend.  I went to my maternal grandmother’s memorial service and visited my paternal grandmother, who is very ill.  I traveled with my sister (who lives in the Phoenix area, as well) and my brother (who drove down from Utah to travel with us).  It was, all things considered, a wonderful trip, in spite of the sad catalyst for the journey.  I could write for a very long time on my thoughts and the events of the four days, but I likely can’t:  My experience is so intertwined with others’, for whom I deeply care.  Telling my tale would necessitate telling theirs, as well, and I don’t know if they would appreciate me broadcasting their story;  it’s not mine to tell.

Still, in spite of late nights, days spent going hither and thither on necessary business, spending my days in the endless company of others (which generally drains me, as an introvert) — whom I needed to see and wanted to see and LOVED to see, cramming a couple of weeks of events into those four days, in spite of unending exhaustion of both body and mind, an aching leg, and the aforementioned hives, it was an exceptionally worthwhile journey.

IMG_20130420_100838_168

Views like this refresh my soul. It does, doubly so, knowing that this land, this view, has been connected to my mother’s family for nearly 200 years.

I love Illinois.  The above picture was taken from the back steps of my aunt’s home.  I took it, steaming coffee in hand.  The sun was shining, it was about 7 a.m., and the temperature was 35°.  The view is a corner of a field, which will likely have corn growing in it within a month or so, and a little pond beyond that.  In the timber behind the pond is the remain of an old road, likely last used in the early 1800s.  It had rained torrentially in Illinois, the day before our arrival, so the ground was saturated and impassably muddy in many places, and I didn’t own the boots which would allow me to go down that lovely road-path.

My husband, though, is considering having our family return to Illinois for our family’s summer trip this year — which would be our first time as a whole family — and I will most certainly meander down that road…

Anyway.

It shouldn’t be odd that, with the absence of The Mom, there are many things, upon my return, that have needed my attention.  Life does go on, even when I’m not here at home.  Laundry continues to pile up.  Children still need attention in their schooling.  The dog’s medicine runs out.

Today was much busier than I would have preferred, even if I weren’t pregnant.  So far, I have:

  • Gone to a grocery store — needed especially for milk and meat for the week.  (In related news, I got three gallons of organic milk for $4.99.  This was accomplished due to the fact that Shamrock Farms organic milk was 50% off this week, with the final price of $2.49 for a 3-quart container.  Two containers were near their “best by” date, and were marked $2.50 off.  In other words, FREE.  I figured that even if they went bad before we finished drinking them, no harm done;  they’re free.  I got two other containers, as well.  Four containers, three gallons total, $4.99 spent.)
  • Done two large loads of laundry — it’s still not folded, yet.
  • Overseen school with my three older children.  I will admit my first grader, Audrey, did pretty much nothing today, other than some self-directed art and Lego-building.
  • I fertilized my mini-garden with fish emulsion and epsom salts — something that should be done every two weeks, but of which I was very overdue.
  • I called LG for my washing machine — again.  It keeps having issues.  I’ve needed to call them for a couple of weeks now, but kept putting it off.
  • I ordered Algebra 2 on Teaching Textbooks.
  • I had an overdue, hour-long conversation with another homeschooling mom, helping her (I hope) with some issues she’s having with one of her children.
  • I went to Trader Joe’s for more groceries.
  • I returned some overdue library DVDs.  Yes, even with a smart phone, I kept forgetting to renew our family’s DVDs while I was away, resulting in $7 in new fines.  😦
  • I went to the pool supply store and got chlorine tabs and shock.  Our poor pool…  It really needs a new pump.  It is under warranty until July, but a repairman has already been out once, and he said that there’s really nothing he can do, under our warranty, until the pump breaks.  If it breaks entirely before July, the $400+ cost of replacement will be covered.  If it only limps along inefficiently, as it has been doing, we’re out of luck.  I must admit that I am tempted to sabotage the pump to “help” it completely break.  My husband, though, man of absolute integrity that he is, wouldn’t hear of such a thing.  But, it’s in the 90s now, and our pool-cum-pond is unusable.
  • I went to pick up more fluconazole for our dog, Tally, who is still recovering from Valley Fever.
  • I stopped by a used furniture store and bought a small chest of drawers for the new baby ($25 — it needs to be either painted or lightly sanded and revarnished — I haven’t decided which, yet).  I also bought a very solid, medium-sized bookcase for $35.  It has a blond finish, and appears to be from the 60s.  It is almost cool.  Tomorrow, I will clear out the beleaguered particle board book case which is currently holding most of our school books for this year.  It keeps collapsing.
  • I still need to shower.
  • I need to make dinner — which will be the Crockpot refried beans I made last night, reheating a roasted Costco rotisserie chicken, and likely some roasted beets from the CSA I host each Wednesday.  Easy peasy.
  • I need to pick out the worship set list for tonight’s small group.  It is definitely one of those nights where, if I didn’t have to go to small group, I probably wouldn’t.  Frankly, I’d rather put up my feet, watch baseball, and read my current book** during the commercials.  When I’m actually there at group, I always enjoy it.  Always.  But, right now, I am tired, and wish I wasn’t compelled to attend by my responsibilities there…

So, that’s it!  That has been my day.  Too busy for me.  Still not over.  But, life could be worse, eh?  All things considered, life is still good — many things have happened in the last week that are stellar, and on which I cannot comment.

If you’re still reading, thank you.  🙂  Since it has been nearly three weeks since I posted, I felt that this post was overdue, as well…  Not my best work, but it will have to do for now.

Blessings to all my readers, those whom I know personally, and those whose acquaintance I’ve only made through this blog…  I’ve been feeling particularly thankful for you, lately.

 

—————–

*Virtually all CFS symptoms disappeared when I went onto a gluten-free diet.  I do believe that the underlying cause of my chronic fatigue was celiac disease itself.

**In spite of middling reviews (which I have not read — only noticing it has only about 3.5 stars on Amazon), I am still very much enjoying it.  Well, I just peeked at some reviews.  It appears that those who love Anne Perry’s mysteries, set in 1800s England, are most disappointed.  Perhaps that explains why I like the book:  I don’t care for Anne Perry.  (I did read her four-book series which was set in WWI, but once the series was completed, decided that any more of Perry would be a waste of my time.)

 

Confessions of a pregnant worship leader

I was going to include a pic of myself leading worship, but I couldn't find any.  So, enjoy one of my favorite pictures of my husband of all time...

I was going to include a pic of myself leading worship, but I couldn’t find any. So, enjoy one of my favorite pictures of my husband of all time…

I just finished making the song list for worship tonight at my small group.

Last week, several people — literally, three — said something along the lines of, “Thank you for serving our group.  Thank you for leading worship.”  And my response, initially, was, “Wha…??”

These friends thanking me were sincere, but it seemed weird.  “I really, really like to do this.  I really like to worship.  It’s a privilege to lead.  I don’t need to be thanked!”

But then, I remembered only a couple hours previous:  It was about 6:40, and my husband had walked me to the car.  He loaded up the guitar into the back seat, and we kissed goodbye.  Our little rascal, four-year-old Fiala, came running out — which she is not supposed to — and Martin turned to whisk her barefoot self back inside.  The car still not started, I leaned my head back and gripped the steering wheel.  “If I wasn’t leading worship, I would NOT go to small group tonight,” I grumbled out loud.  I started the car and chugged down the driveway en route to the approximately ¾ mile commute to the home of the dear family who hosts my group.

I was feeling cruddy, as I do, most afternoons and evenings these days.  I’m about 12 weeks pregnant, and I really dislike being pregnant.  That is, I pretty much hate the first 20 weeks when I’m sick to my stomach 24/7 and I have no energy.  Then, for weeks about 21-29, I’m golden:  I have energy back, no nausea, and my belly isn’t so big to be ponderous, I’m motivated to get things accomplished, and excited about the prospects of a new baby in our home.  Then, about week 30 hits, and I feel like I’m going to physically fall apart at the seams, and my giant baby-house gets in the way of everything, and I can’t breathe…  So, I should say that I really dislike about 4/5 of pregnancy.

I was thinking that I’ve never led worship while pregnant…  Wait.  That’s not true.  I haven’t led worship in a small group while pregnant.  I started when Fiala was — if memory serves — four weeks old.  I’d nurse my newborn, put her down to sleep, Martin would wrangle the other four, and I’d go off to group…  I’d come home fairly promptly, and feed my baby again.  It worked out much better than we thought it would, plus we didn’t have to pay for babysitting.  (Prior to four years ago, Martin and I always went together, he always led worship in whichever group we were a part, and we always paid a babysitter to tend to our littles.)

I have led worship for the 6-12 year-olds at church while pregnant.  Oddly, though, I have no memory of that…  I’m not sure how I accomplished that with a big belly.  I think I propped my foot up on a stool and rested my guitar on my thigh, out in front of the baby-protuberance.  Anyway, that’s what I told my small group’s host that I would be doing, a month or two or three down the line…  She now asks, every week, if I need a stool.  “No, not yet!”

So, in a way, I guess it’s service, to lead worship.  I can be an effort, at times.  Most of the time, though, it doesn’t feel like it.  Most of the time, I feel like I do right now:  “I’ve got a great list, and worship will be great tonight!  Come, Holy Spirit!!”  I’m really thankful that I get to lead worship;  I love doing it.  It honestly feels like a privilege.  I can’t help but compare myself to my husband’s guitar-playing and worship-leading virtuosity, and I come up way, way short.  I feel like “they” LET me lead worship.  I get to.  And that’s when receiving thanks feels out-of-place.

Anyway.  The baby is due the end of June.  Small groups usually end for the summer the first or second week of June.  I hope I can make it that far!  My husband became the worship leader of our church when the previous worship leader was ponderously pregnant and in what was a shock to him, promoted him.  He’s been there ever since.  That was 20+ years ago.  🙂

Now, I’m questioning this whole post.  I’m afraid it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn.  That’s not my intention!  What I’m trying to do is say:

  1. I feel like worship leading is a privilege.
  2. Sometimes, I don’t feel like going to small group, but by the end of it, with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the love and friendship of everyone there, I’m so pleased that I went, and I feel great.
  3. I’m not entirely sure how things are going to go, once my belly gets huge…

I guess that’s it.

————————–

Lordy.  Blogging would be significantly easier if I didn’t second-guess myself about everything…  I was hearkening back to the days when no one read what I had to say except my Uncle Steve, and I would write, shooting from the hip, about whatever crossed my mind.  These days, I question myself endlessly, like, “Is this worthy of being published?  Is my attitude crappy?  Do I sound like a jerk?  Am I a jerk?  This isn’t a recipe.  Or about birthing.  Or homeschooling.  Or even about parenting.  Who in my not-really-targeted-but-certainly-niche-readership is this going to bless?  No one??”  ~sigh~ And then I shoot down the post I’d written in my head, or drafted out online…  And thus, compiled with my time crunch, leads to me blogging less than ever.  Ugh.  /whining.

Domestic bliss didn’t last… but that is (almost) OK.

I keep waiting for life to return to normal.

I used to think that “a rut” was the worst thing that could happen to one’s life.

I now have turned 180° — or at least 160° or so — and have discovered that there is a reason it is called “Domestic Bliss.”  That is because when home life is wonderful, it REALLY IS wonderful.  Philosophers can devise witty sayings about how boring healthy families are, but when it comes down to it, if you have one, it really is lovely.

This past spring and summer was perhaps my most wonderful ever in my 39 years.  Well, I was 38, back then.  Everything was just right.  Parenting was going great.  I thought my husband was fabulous.  I had the garden of my dreams.  I had enough “spare” time to sneak in novel about once every 2-3 weeks, which, in my experience and for my personality is just right;  more reading than that means I’m not getting enough done in my home and family;  less reading than that means I’m stretched too thinly and stressed out.  We had just sold our house for more than we thought possible and had found the exact right place — right size house, right size lot, right location — for an amazing price.  I had lost about 20 pounds and was feeling great, and down to the same size I was before I had my first child, 15 years prior.  Other family relationships and friendships were sailing along at a beautiful clip.  Friends even purchased tickets for our family’s first-ever Disneyland trip.  Can you get much better than that?

I don’t think I’m a pessimist — truly — but I am enough of a realist to realize, even in the midst of all this amazingness, that it would probably not last forever.  It was one of those seasons where my prayer was, “God, please don’t let me forget this lovely season, especially if You’re gearing me up for hard times.”

And hard times have, indeed, come.  But, not exactly in the way that I had envisioned.

The good news is that I still think my husband is fabulous.  I have, in fact, grown in love and appreciation for him in the last couple of months.

By early October, my mother was sick, in the hospital, and appeared near death.

We were also in the throes of a remodel — a MAJOR remodel of about 40% of our “new” home — which I envisioned would take us about five weeks.

We also had a serious issue surface with one of our children…  Really serious, the sort of thing where it is just a deep, hard ache in a mother’s heart.

Then our dog got sick, a resurgence of Valley Fever.

Then my computer broke (I’m typing on my husband’s laptop), on which my children do about 1/3 of their schooling.

And… other things compounded my various challenges — like a dear friend (whose two sons are the best friends of two of my sons) moving out of state.  And a few other dear, long-time friends feeling led by God to become involved in various other ministries — leading them OUT of “my” church.  This put a hole in my heart, as well as made things logistically difficult, as I am now the lone worship leader for the 6-12 year-olds at church;  no one with whom to share that responsibility…

AND THEN, I found out I was pregnant with our sixth child.  And while that has been a huge joy — theoretically — I feel like crap, 24/7, and that just makes everything… extra-challenging.

And my mother did die, on October 18th.  That was hard.  It still is, especially when my four-year-old, Fiala, pipes up at lunch, scowl ensconced firmly on her face, “I don’t want Grandma to live with Jesus any more.  I want her to be here.”

We are still remodeling, nearing our 11th week of that massive project.  The good news is that I have a working kitchen.  I still don’t have a back splash, there is still some touch-up to do, I still don’t have a working sink in our powder room, and the legs of our built-in breakfast table (envision a bar, only larger and more rectangular) still need to be trimmed and stained.  AND, as I was dreaming — again — of the massive yard sale I’d have to enable the purchase of new furniture, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my Furniture Money would probably have to become Pay the Midwife Money.  Maybe that’s stupid, but it was one of those reality checks that made me groan, “Aw, man…”

Crappy picture taken with my phone, that shows evidence of my girls watching TV as I blog, and my home rather untidy, but about 97% remodeled.

My child with the “issue” is now in counseling, and though we’ve just begun, I think that will be really helpful.  Sometimes, it helps a child to hear truth from a different, non-parent source.  My husband and I are fighting — and winning, I think — not to feel like Giant Failures in Parenting.  Still, it’s been a blow to my confidence as a mother to have to call in the experts…

Our dog is still ill, but at least she hasn’t died.  The vet said that he rarely sees dogs with her blood titer level, because, “Usually a dog doesn’t get to that level;  they die before then.”  But, she’s on antifungals.  Sweet pup.  We’re not out of the woods, and it was hard to admit to my husband that I didn’t ask the vet to call in a three months’ supply of meds, which we could have done, and which is less expensive than buying it month-to-month, because I’m still not sure she’ll make it three months…  We’ll see.

My computer is still broken, which is making me feel like a bad homeschooling mom, because my kids haven’t done math nor typed anything in about a month.  Grant and Wesley also read from the encyclopedia on my computer…

The Sunday before I had the spate of friends become displaced from my life, in early August, the presence of God fell on me very powerfully during worship, and I felt God calling me to serve Him, and Him alone, for His sake — not for what I get out of my relationship with Him or out of my Christianity;  not simply because I was following my pastor (though I have a wonderful pastor — two of them, actually — absolutely amazing men of God who are excellent teachers and amazing leaders…)  I just felt Him calling me to Himself, no matter who does what, and when, nor what goes on around me.

I have really been clinging to that, and thankful to Him for preparing me.

I’m 11 weeks pregnant, and I still need to actually TALK WITH and MEET WITH my midwife, rather than exchanging phone messages.  I don’t know why, but I think I’m kind of dragging my feet about that.  It’s just one more thing that will go on the plate…  Know what I mean?

I hope this doesn’t sound like a bunch of complaining.

And I keep reminding myself how LOADS of people — billions of them — have it worse than I do.  In many ways, things really aren’t bad at all!  They’re just challenging, and I don’t enjoy being challenged.  I really don’t.

So!  That’s where I’m at.

Thanks for reading.  I wish I had something clever with which to tidily wrap up this post, but my stomach hurts too much to think of what that might be.  I think I’ll go make myself a piece of toast.

 

Fits, chocolate, the Dear Hubby, and composting

A couple of days ago, my hubby very greatly surprised me with an envelope inscribed in his all-caps, neat, architect-style printing:

FOR:  MY DEAREST
KAREN JOY
(OPEN WHEN I’M @ SMALL GROUP)

I was expecting a kind and encouraging note.  We seem to oftentimes communicate best through the written word.  The envelope, however, did not contain a note.

Mmmmm....

I will also mention that my receipt of this surprise came on the heels of me pitching a fit that he wanted a few squares of my horded (in the freezer) chocolate bar, to which I’d been treating myself THREE SAVORED SQUARES, nightly.  I should have just said, “Yes, Dear.”  In fact, I did say something like that, but it it required a Herculean effort to share, and I guess my body language reflected my internal dilemma — not really wanting to share, yet knowing that HE’S MY HUSBAND and he should be able to have any bit of “my” chocolate that he wants.

We ended up having an argument, and I really didn’t think he understood, that, at times, I find it difficult to deal with “all I have is yours”, especially since I have no stipend/allowance/spending/pocket money to spend as I’d like, and instead, have to carve a bit — in this case, $1.50, on sale — out of some section of our budget — in this case, groceries — in order to have a little something nice for myself.

I still don’t know where the right spot is on this topic.  God made humans with the innate desire to earn and own (which is why Communism doesn’t work).  However, the American culture takes that whole concept of earning and owning WAY TOO FAR over the top, to the point of materialism being the defining “god” of our country, and perhaps — Dear Lord, let it not be so! — that has permeated my heart.  I absolutely don’t want to be selfish — my husband and I do have everything in common, and I believe that is Biblical.  But, it would be lovely to have some discretionary funds, to purchase, willy-nilly (or carefully considered), things like chocolate or earrings or a pair of shoes I don’t really need or an additional long-sleeved shirt or two or on a fancy coffee or something decorative for our family room wall or a pretty little candle.  Or something.  Anything.  Without having to make a down-to-the-penny accounting for its necessity.

I don’t regret not being employed, which means, by default, that we have to be careful — very careful — with our funds.

All of this came to the fore, when it felt like I was required to share what I had hoped would be mine.

And, I guess that is a fit.

~sigh~

I didn’t handle it well.  I’m not even sure if I apologized, because, at the time, I felt justified.  NOT in not sharing — I was willing, though unwilling (if that makes sense) — to share.  I felt justified in feeling (and expressing) that it would be lovely to have some freedom to purchase something just because it made my own heart happy, and stymied, because that’s just not in the budget.

Like I said, I’m not sure I have an entirely Godly attitude about this.  I’m not sure what is the right and Godly attitude.  Give all of my chocolate away with no regrets, I guess, and never feel wistful for a cute and entirely impractical pair of shoes.

One way or another, even if I’m not walking in complete supernatural maturity on the issue of sharing, I just wanted my hubby to understand my heart, my thoughts, even my sadness.

In the end, though I felt like he completely did not understand where I was coming from, perhaps he did.

To my shock, inside the envelope was a hundred dollar bill.

I believe it’s from the money he unexpectedly earned for playing guitar at a friend’s wedding.  Every time he is asked to do music for a wedding, which is usually 3-4 times yearly, he assumes it’s for free, and that way, we’re pleasantly surprised if there’s payment involved.  Occasionally, he gives the money back.  He didn’t, this last time.

I remember, early in our marriage, when I was more prone to argue over just about everything, I’d cut into him up one side and down the other, and eventually, he’d capitulate.  I learned very early on that:

a.  This made for very hollow victories
b.  Getting “my way” really didn’t matter much if

  • I had a husband who was wounded, and
  • who didn’t trust me to be kind, and
  • there was no peace in our home.

So, I’m very careful now, over what I’ll argue.  My husband is, himself, so kind that, even if I’m wrong — either in what I’m saying, or how I’m saying it — he’ll cover me with his mercy, and choose to give me (or agree to, or whatever) that on which I was insisting.  That can be much more humbling than losing, lemme tell you.

I was not asking for money.  I was asking to be understood that I struggle with having to say, “Everything belongs to you.  I own nothing.”

I’m not sure if the gift in the envelope was him capitulating (which would be a rather unsatisfactory outcome), or if, upon thoughtful consideration and prayer, he thought maybe I should have some pocket money, every once in a while.  He’s humble like that, and willing to bend, when I am usually not.  ~sigh~  I do so have a lot to learn.

In any case, for the last two days, I’ve been carrying the envelope and its contents around in my pocket, dreamily considering how I might spend it.  His only stipulation was that I not spend it on anything for the kids.

I haven’t entirely decided, but it would fit in with another of my goals — to get my raised-bed garden to grow something other than weeds — if I spent some of the money on a composter.  Every time I send a carrot peeling or the heel of a stalk of celery into the trash, I regret not having a system for composting, and a flourishing garden into which I can put the compost.

I spent some time, this morning, looking into composters.  I’d really like a tumbling one.  But, the composters of any variety which I can afford are flimsy, and seem like a huge waste of fifty or a hundred bucks.  Even used, on Craigslist, most of the good ones are going for $150 and up.  Then, I discovered that the City of Phoenix has a program, in which they re-purpose damaged trash bins, turning them into compost bins — really, just trash bins with big holes drilled in the side.  The city sells them for $5.  I was worried, though, about being able to properly aerate the bin, and mix up its contents.  Then, I stumbled upon this contraption, called The Compost Crank, which, by all accounts is a very effective, nearly effortless way to turn over the compost pile.  I’m still looking for one locally.  I found one shop that normally carries them, but is currently out of stock.  I’ve found several online retailers, but with shipping (it’s an 8 lb, 45″ long, one-piece stainless steel tool), it would run me about $50.

So.  If I went this route, It would cost me $55, tops, to have an mega-environmentally-friendly composting system.  Not just because I’m composting, but because the bin is repurposed — not another piece of newly-minted plastic junk — and the Compost Crank is made from post-consumer recycled stainless steel.  Voila!

I feel very good about this.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do, but hasn’t been in the budget.  It’s for me, but it serves my family, as well.

Seems like a win-win.

(And, if I do some very careful shopping, I’ll still have money left for a cute pair of shoes, and a top, and some nice little trinket or two for our home!)

 

Balancing the busy season

There’s a fine line, sometimes, between being refreshingly honest and complaining.  I sincerely hope I’m the former.

I really don’t like to be busy.  I don’t know if it’s that, at heart, I’m naturally lazy (I hope not), or that really, my best “work” is not that which requires activity.  I don’t know.  But, anticipating seasons like the one upon which I’m embarking can, if I let it, really stress me out and rob my joy.

I look upon this past spring and wonder how I survived.  On top of homeschooling and church, we had Little League (usually four nights a week), two weekly small groups (one for my husband, and one for me), plus a bi-weekly homeschooling art class, and a homeschooling group on the off-weeks.  Plus, all the activities and tasks which allow a family and home to function.  And an ill mother and the puzzle of my youngest daughter’s diet and health.

Fiala's current fave

Seasons like that necessitate that I be highly structured and organized, with which I have a love/hate relationship.  I get a lot done when my life is highly structured, but it…  I don’t know.  I just don’t like it.  I miss the freedom, and the opportunity to, say, respond to that little pleading, upturned face, and just sit down on the kitchen floor in the midst of dinner prep and read The Shy Little Kitten to my youngest, without the pressure of knowing what it’s going to do to our schedule, should dinner be 15 minutes late.

But, weathering this past spring gives me the courage — literally — to say, “OK.  We can do two small groups, and it’s going to be all right.  I will live and not die.”

That sounds so stupid and melodramatic, but it’s true.

My life is full of good things and blessings.  It really is.  And, it has been my observation that the enemy takes evil delight in taking our blessings and framing them — just so — in our minds so that they appear to be a detriment of one sort or another.  At least, I’m vulnerable to that:  I’m tempted to see the dark cloud behind every silver lining.  And, that’s not good.  Still, neither do I want to be dishonest and say, “I can do everything!  And it all makes me happy!  And it’s easy!  Being stretched is fun!”  Because, truly, even with all the good things in my life, sometimes it just seems like there’s too much of… something, and what I’d really rather be doing is putting my back against a shady tree beside a small stream, and reading a book with one eye, and with my other, watching my kids play.  And there’s too little of that, and too much of the other, and, frankly, I’ve not yet learned what the balance is between seeking Godly peace, and simply being lazy and self-serving and yearning for the idyllic.

Also, I’m taking into consideration:

  • This week is my youngest son’s 9th birthday.  We have a day-long outing scheduled (with a couple of other families), and an overnighter with two of Wesley’s friends.  (Obligingly, another friend of mine has offered to keep my older two boys overnight with her oldest son, thus there is no net gain of children.)
  • This week, we do start the small group/kinship season again, which, in many ways, is always so wonderful.  I’m truly glad, each week, when I look into the faces of those in group with me, and I hear the teaching — which frequently is just what I needed to hear — and I participate in discussion, and ministry, and even leading worship (which I really, really love)…  I so often think, “I am so pleased to be able to be here.”  Yet, the logistics of making it happen can nearly tip me over the edge.  One weekly night, my husband stays home with our dear passel of children, and on another night, I stay home while he does the same thing at his group.  Each scenario has its challenges.
  • This week, we started having my parents back over for dinner.  For literally a decade, my mother and stepdad have been coming over for a weekly dinner.  But, this past year saw a dramatic decrease in that, both because of me being distraught over Fiala’s health and how to feed her (I’m not distressed over that anymore, but she still is difficult to feed, and I have adjusted myself to making two meals, every mealtime)… and my mother’s health has been in serious decline, with three major hospital stays over the last year.  My mother and I also had a row a couple of months ago, our first in years and years, the end of which had her proclaiming that she never wanted to talk with me again.  That was distressing.  My stepdad and I came to the conclusion that it was her ill health “talking”, which is so odd, because my mother has forever been resolute and reasonable.  It’s very unlike her to be changeable and petulant.  But, bless God for that, because after sending me a few peace offerings (which is also unlike her) of a number of gluten-free grocery/convenience items, plus a good book, she asked if we couldn’t, please, start our dinners back up.  HOW COULD I SAY NO??!?? I couldn’t.  I can’t!  I don’t want to.  I dearly want to spend that time with my parents.  Dearly.  Yet, it’s one more thing on the plate, so to speak.  This Monday, just my stepdad came over, as my mother is in Illinois with her mother.  Same with this coming Monday.  After that, it will be the two of them, but only once every other week.
  • And, literally weighing on me is the fact that I’ve put on 25 lbs since January, and am now back to my pre-pregnancy (before Fiala) weight.  That’s not a good thing.  I am very uncomfortable with myself, literally, yet after a year+ of living on a hyper-restricted diet for her sake, it’s hard to Just Say No to chocolate chips.  🙂  But, I have decided that I have to do something so the weight doesn’t keep piling on, and that’s difficult, because I’m not a dieter, yet I’m aware that I simply can’t stay the way I am right now.  I haven’t yet figured out exactly what I’m going to do.
  • And, I’m in the midst of… distilling… choosing… seeking some wisdom from my Father… about some direction for my life for the next couple of years (at least)… and it’s unclear…  I’ve been meaning to fast, but I keep forgetting!  After about five solid years of either being pregnant or nursing, I got out of the habit.  Now, it’s like, “OK.  I need to fast.  Monday.  No, that won’t work.  Parents over for dinner.  OK.  Tuesday.  Tuesday it is!” then Tuesday happens and I forget until mid-morning after two cups of coffee, a banana, some almonds, and a bowl of granola.  Etc.  So, I need to figure that out, too.  😀

And other stuff.

I really just need God.  I need His presence, I need His peace, His wisdom, His priorities, His heart, even His energy…

I closed another recent post with this same thing, but it is so on my heart:

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!  For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?  Who knows enough to give him advice?  And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?  For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.  Romans 11:33-36 NLT

Setbacks

Today was tough.

I talked with my mom this morning, following up with her about a doctor appointment she had yesterday afternoon.  Among other things, she said that she still has an infection in her lungs, and that the doctor prescribed the same antibiotic as a couple of weeks ago.

The same one that made her vomit around the clock for the seven days she was on it.  (Which she didn’t tell me about until day six.)

My thoughts were:

a) She would not be getting the medication she needs if she pukes it up.
b) She’d lose MORE weight (she’s already the thinnest I can ever remember, going back to my childhood).
c) There are MULTITUDES of other antibiotics out there that would likely do the trick.
d) As she’s recovering from extensive blood clots, pulmonary emboli, pneumonia, a trip to the ER and a 3-day stay in the hospital, well, she doesn’t need an additional seven days of unnecessary illness;  she needs to be strong in order to recover.

Her thoughts were:

“Well, the doctor is the expert.  If that’s the medicine she thinks I need to take in order to recover, I’ll just have to tough it out.”

I proceeded to get probably more upset with my mom than I have in as long as I can remember.  I couldn’t understand why she didn’t say something to the doctor!  I don’t know why she didn’t advocate for herself!  And there she was, as we spoke:  On one hand, she was completely planning on taking the antibiotic.  On the other hand, it was there, sitting on her desk, staring at her, and she was dragging her feet to start the round of medication because she knew it would make her so ill.

I asked for her doctor’s number.  She said, “Well, if you’re going to harangue someone, I’d rather have it be them than me.”  I apologized.  😦

I did call the doctor.  About 20 times.

The office, which has short hours on Fridays, had a meeting of some sort that lasted the entire 3½ hours that they were supposed to be open.  On about the 20th time calling, I finally left a message with the answering service, not all that hopeful of a return call, but feeling somewhat desperate, because I didn’t think it could wait until Monday.

The doctor called me about 10 minutes later.  Bless God.  It turns out that my mom had already put me in her HIPAA as someone to whom information could be released.  The doctor was very kind and accommodating, and confirmed that she would never have prescribed that antibiotic if she would have known that it made my mom so ill.  I also asked how it could be that my mom could still have a “lung infection” yet not have pneumonia, which was my mom’s impression of the state of her health.  Mom was mistaken.  She does still have pneumonia.

The doc wrote up a new prescription.  I put Fiala down for a nap, sent Wesley to a quiet time, put Ethan in charge, and took Audrey and Grant with me in the truck.  I drove to the doctor’s office, knocked on the back door, and collected the rx, along with the doctor’s suggestion that perhaps I should accompany my mom to future doctor’s visits (I agreed).  I drove to my mom’s to pick up the “bad” prescription, in hopes that the pharmacy would accept it as a return and refund the $40 copay.  Drove to the pharmacy, asked in vain for a refund for the other prescription, and waited for the new one.  Thankfully, it was only $5.  Five bucks.  For generic Bactrim, which is very easy on the stomach.  (Makes me cynically wonder if the doctor has an agreement with the other name-brand antibiotic’s drug rep or something — why didn’t they prescribe a generic in the first place???)

So, now my mom is on Bactrim.  And back on oxygen full-time, 24/7.  At least, she’s supposed to be.  Both times today I stopped into her home, she did NOT have the oxygen on.  Well, the machine was on, but it was not on her.

~sigh~

Throw into the above a hellish 1½ trip to Walmart (which I hate) in which all five of the kids had rotten behavior — for only which Fiala was excused.  And, picking up a present I had ordered for some friends who are to be married tomorrow.  And a haircut (FINALLY) for Wesley.

Then, my hubby suggested we pick up some wings for the kids.  I thought that was a fabulous idea.   (He went to the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner tonight, but he managed to “snack” on a dozen wings before he left  😀 )  As I was fixing Fiala’s lamb-burger, she could smell the mild and BBQ wings, and kept saying, with increasing volume and interest, “Mmmmmmmmmm.  MMMMmmmmm.   MMMMMMMMMMMmmm.”  I caved.  I rinsed off the BBQ sauce, and gave her a wing to gnaw on.  Then a second.  By the end of the 2nd one, she was absolutely clawing at her face, and she was red everywhere — cheeks, around her eyes, around the eczema lesions she already has.

~SIGH~

Now, it’s 7:30.  I’m going to get the girls in bed, let the boys watch a bit of TV (How It’s Made), and finally dust the front room so that I can feel good about FINALLY decorating for Christmas and maybe even getting the tree up.

I feel tightly wound up.  And a bit sad.  And more than a bit frustrated.  😦

Sorry for whining.  I did just want to WRITE this, plus, at times, I feel like my blog — because I want to be careful not to complain — ends up appearing as The Best of My Life, rather than my real life.  It’s a delicate balance.

E-mail to my pastor’s wife

We have a e-mail prayer loop in our church, usually overseen by the pastor’s wife, who, in my opinion does TOO MUCH, but that’s because she’s willing, competent, and caring.  🙂  I am usually hesitant to send in something for prayer, because there are so many people with other, greater needs, like brain cancer, and heads of families with no job, and people getting major surgery, that sort of thing.  But, today, after (WARNING:  TMI ON POOP AHEAD) a gigantic diarrhea blowout from Fiala that went everywhere, after I had literally only been eating corn, beans, and ham for the last two days, I about cried.  This was after she woke up four times last night itching and crying, and scratching herself bloody.  So, is it corn??  Is it pork???  I don’t know.  I called my husband and told him, “That’s it.  I’m just going to eat beans.”  He’s not really supportive of that, but I don’t know quite what to do.  I told him I was VERY open to suggestions, if a beans-only diet seemed too extreme for him.  Frankly, it’s looking like a good idea to me, if it will heal Fiala.  I’m spending so much time taking care of her, and the results are not stellar.  She’s still in discomfort or pain a great deal of the time.  If we could just get her HEALED by me eating beans 24/7 for a few weeks, then that seems like a fabulous idea right about now.

Martin suggested I e-mail Nancy.  On one hand, I don’t want to, because I then feel like a whiny …  I don’t know.  Whiny complainer, I guess.  But on the other hand, I have great faith in the effectiveness of prayer, and the power of the assembled Body of Christ.  And, I know that there are some serious warriors in prayer in our church, and it would be a great relief to me to know that they’re praying.  We need revelation, and I don’t see that happening, apart from the Holy Spirit.  So, I sent the e-mail.

(By the way, I know some of you are tired of reading this — believe me, I’m tired of living it, and my heart is just BREAKING for my little girl who is so snuggly and has a brilliant smile and huge, sparkly eyes, who is just not healthy.)

Hi, Nancy.

Well, I’ve reached a point of desperation with Fiala’s health, and I’m asking for prayer. We have spent MONTHS and HUNDREDS of dollars (probably close to $1000 in the last few months on co-pays and prescriptions) to an assortment of doctors, used all sorts of medications both natural and prescriptions, undergone a wide variety of tests, and while we have seen *some* improvement, it’s minimal. She is still having major skin problems and digestive problems.

Literally, the ONLY thing that I know is safe for her is beans, and I’m not kidding. Every fruit, every meat, every grain, every vegetable, every seasoning… it all seems to bother her. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. For instance: we gave her peaches for three days in a row, and she broke out in a head-to-toe rash that lasted for two solid weeks, so it’s hard to tell if the stuff we gave her while she had that rash caused additional problems or not.

She has a long list of things that we know for certain she’s allergic to, but she is still having serious problems. (Things we know for certain she can’t have: egg, soy, milk, rice, potato, garlic, zucchini, carrot, bananas, apples, pears, peaches, coconut, sorghum, onion, mushroom, plus we suspect a number of other things, but she hasn’t yet been tested for them.)

We medicate her skin with FOUR different medications, she’s on two different allergy meds, plus other over-the-counter things for her skin, etc. Plus, as you know, her itchy skin leads to scratching, which leads to infections, which led to antibiotics, which led to the WORST yeast infection I’ve ever seen — she was a solid red, oozy welt from her belly button around to the top of her buns. Bless God, she’s mostly recovered from that.

It’s very time consuming to take care of her, very heart-breaking, and right now, we’re not seeing an end in sight. We’re not even sure if the allergist she’s going to is the right doctor for her, but we don’t know where else to go. Plus, on a basic level, it’s hard to pay a $50 copay for a doctor we’re not even certain is helping her, but where else do we go??? We’ve had 1-3 visits to the doctor each week for the last two months, almost all of them with $50 copays.

Also, it’s hard to care for a husband, a home, four other kids, school, Little League, making meals, etc. Everything is suffering because my time is so extremely involved with Fiala. Or… I catch up on everything else, and end up with not enough time to be faithful on her multitudes of medications for a few days and then her skin is worse than ever. I just don’t have enough time and energy to take care of my family and home adequately. When I have a sick kid, I can drop most everything for a week or two to take care of him or her, but this is going on months and months, and more and more things are undone.

We have another appt w/ the allergist on Monday. I am going to ask him to oversee a strict elimination diet, where Fiala and I literally start with ONLY beans, for every meal, until she’s healthy, then start adding things in, one at a time. Martin thinks this is too extreme, but finding out one thing here, two things there, over weeks and months is not cutting it. We need good information, and we need it yesterday. I don’t see any route right now other than doing something extreme. (By the way, I’m still nursing, and even the doctor agrees that it is likely that even the most hypoallergenic, expensive prescription formula wouldn’t be any better, and it would likely be worse, so anything Fiala has to eat, I have to eat.)

We need wisdom, discernment, and answers, both for ourselves, and for our doctor. We need Fiala healthy. She’s not. Her skin, her digestion… she’s not sleeping well, waking 2, 3, 4+ times a night, itching and crying, and with diarrhea….

We just need help. We need healing. We need prayer. We need the power of God and the revelation of the Spirit. I hate to be a burden to others, but we need the body of Christ.

Love you.

Call with any questions.

~Karen

The cardiologist, Whole Foods, tears, and dinner

I had a cardiologist appointment yesterday, as a follow up to the echocardiogram I had, plus my wearing a 30 day event/loop recorder (which I actually only wore for 22 days).

Structurally, my heart is SOUND.  That is a great relief.  He listened to my heart again from the front and the back, in many different places, cocking his head as he said, “It still sounds like you have mitral valve prolapse.”  But the echo came back normal, so he’s trusting that.  He said I likely do have Wolff Parkinson White syndrome (five nerves going into my heart, instead of four), but right now, though that causes a consistently electrically-odd electrocardiogram pattern, it’s only causing my heart to do a variety of weird things 1-2x/day, according to the event monitor.  He said that I had three options:

  1. Do nothing for now.
  2. Try medication to regulate my heart
  3. Have surgery to cauterize the offending extra nerve in my heart.

He suggested option #1, with which I heartily agreed.  Heartily!  Hah.  No pun intended.

He does want me to keep a little notebook journal for the next six months, and document whenever I feel anything weird, and what I was doing at the time, etc.  Oddly enough, at least half of the “events” my heart had was when I was sleeping.  But, I’ll give it a go.

On the way home, I stopped at Whole Foods to buy some grains that are not wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, or sorghum.  Since either Fiala or I can’t have those — plus no potatoes — I must find some alternative carb/starch for our meals, or we’ll be eating corn with every meal.  Whole Foods is pricey and distant from my house, but I know that they have a great bulk department… so, I bought raw buckwheat groats, roasted buckwheat, amaranth, hulled millet, and polenta.  I also bought some way-expensive roast beef from the deli, but I knew it was safe because the girl who roasted it that morning — seasoned with just salt and pepper — was the one who sliced it for me, as well.  In many, many ways, I love Whole Foods, but we would go broke if it was right around the corner.

As Fiala (who had accompanied me to the doctor and the store) and I drove home, I cried.  I don’t know if I felt more sorry for her, or for myself, which made me cry more, that I could be so self-centered to worry about what in the world I was going to eat, and boo-hooing that Martin and the other kids were at home eating gluten-free Pei Wei, and my back was hurting so bad (I threw it out on Monday — a different story altogether), and I was so tired, and all I wanted was to go home and lay down, but I knew I had a good hour on my feet ahead of me, and my baby’s skin and health is in such shaky condition…  Yes, we have hope for her future, and that is very gratifying.  However, in the meantime, we have days or weeks or whatever, while she is still in great discomfort, risk for infection, etc…  And, the last couple of days, a yeast-based infection EXPLODED in her diaper area, and though I’m treating that with miconazole, and having her spend as much time bare or with an uncovered cloth diaper (plus treating her with aloe vera gel mixed with the contents of a probiotic capsule — don’t know if that will do any good on the outside, but I’m desperate) she is beet red from her belly button around to the top of her bum.  Poor baby.  😦

I got home, and pulled out some beef broth from the freezer.  Unwisely, I had put it in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag, so it took forever to thaw in the microwave.  But, I reflected that, when I made it, two months ago, I thought, “Well, I wish I had flavored this with garlic and veggies… too bad it’s just plain from boiled bones.”  Hah!  God provides and prepares, even when we’re not aware of it.  It is perfect for what I need now!  So, I made buckwheat (you make it like rice — double the broth to the grain) with my “regrettably” seasonless beef broth, paprika, dry mustard, red pepper, parsley, and salt.  I also steamed some green beans, and ate some of my roast beef.  The buckwheat was GREAT!  I didn’t miss the garlic at all.

In fact, I’m eating some buckwheat now.  My 3yo daughter Audrey just came by to compel me to share with her whatever was in my bowl.  She sniffed, and said accusingly, “That’s dinner!” and walked away, like I purposefully was eating “dinner” at eleven in the morning just to twerk her off.  😀

Edited to add:  P.S.  I filled the prescription for Augmentin, but for now, I’m not giving it to her.  Just being able to bathe her again (we couldn’t from Mon-Thurs morning), plus putting the triamcinolone (steroid cream — not desirable, but better than another 10 days on abx), plus doing the wet/dry wraps has already greatly improved her legs.  I will keep a close eye out for infection, but unless they’re truly infected, I don’t want to use more abx, especially since she’s having such a problem with yeast in her diaper area.  Hmmm… I think I’ll try the probiotics in a CUP with water, as she won’t drink out of a bottle, and I’ve only let her toy with a “real” cup, up to now.  Maybe we can get some in her system SOMEHOW.  Or, maybe I’ll mix it with water and put it in a syringe — not an injection syringe, just a dosing syringe…  Why didn’t I think of this before?

Believe it or not, this is an improvement

Fiala's skin

Sweet baby.  Sad skin.

I think we may have really had a breakthrough.  In case you didn’t see it in a comment I made on a previous post, on Monday, I couldn’t find my pure vitamin E oil (as suggested by my pastor!), so I got out an older bottle of vitamin E oil blend, whose first ingredient was soybean oil.  Almost immediately, her skin was inflamed, worse than ever!  That’s bad;  I have cried this week over the sorry state of her skin.  But, that terrible reaction appears to have been an answer to prayer, as I now have myself on a soy-free diet, and her skin does indeed seem to be improving.

My first reaction was, “I hardly eat any soy!”  I thought it would be a snap to eliminate.  But… that stuff is pervasive!!  It is in my non-dairy creamer (I’m back to regular half & half in my morning cuppa).  It’s in the protein bar I usually have on Sunday mornings.  I use soy lecithin in a homemade marinade I make about twice a week.  It’s even in my beloved Lay’s Stax!  And in my cheapo chocolate chips that we eat, and I bake with.  I buy them because they’re totally dairy-free.  But, they’re not soy-free!  Bummer.  AND,  soy oil is in the store-brand tater tots that we eat 1-2x/week.  It’s crazy, because virtually everything in my home is gluten-free and dairy-free, and it feels so good to just be able to pull something out of my pantry and know that it’s safe.  It’s been a weird adjustment to re-reading every label, checking for even minute traces of soy.  I don’t know how sensitive she is, exactly, but right now, I’m not taking any chances.  Often with food sensitivities, it’s the protein that is the problem, and the oil in the offending food isn’t nearly as big of a concern.  But, since Fiala’s bad reaction was to oil, I’m being very cautious.

Night before last, Martin came home to me nearly in tears, and VERY CRABBY because things were going very much awry with the kids.  He said after dinner, “Why don’t you go to Starbucks?” and at first, I was so ill-tempered I harumphed that I just wanted to stay on the couch and watch the baseball game.  Then, I changed my mind about two minutes later.  I said, “Call me when Fiala wakes up” and Martin replied, “No, there’s a bottle in the fridge;  I’ll feed her.”  Great!  But, we both realized the next day that the milk was pumped on a pre-soy-free day.  Ugh.   (Regarding Starbucks, they were out of the new gluten free Valencia orange cake.  Bummer.  And, at that Starbucks location, my options are always sit inside, where they keep the temp at 65° or something ridiculously chilly like that, OR, sit outside under the misters and cigarette smoke.  I chose cigarette smoke, and very much enjoyed reading Jane Eyre for about an hour and a half.)

So, it’s been very difficult to entirely eliminate soy.  But, this morning, for the first time in a very long time, the edges of the patch on her left cheek are pink (instead of red), and look like they’re truly healing.

Her skin problems have placed a near-permanent knot in the pit of my stomach, from seeing her in pain (when she scratches and draws blood) and discomfort (from itching)…  she hasn’t been sleeping well (meaning, neither have I, and not sleeping well at nighttime lends to her daytime crabbiness)…  I have felt very powerless to help with her skin, because nothing I have tried, both on my own, and as suggested by doctors, and as suggested by other concerned souls, has really worked.  A few things have slightly helped, or appear to help short-term, but mostly, it’s simply been a search for products or anything I can do to not make her skin worse, and it has been, by and large, a losing effort.

I’m also weary of fielding questions from others when we go out.  Maybe that’s dumb on my part, but we get so many comments from others, and I’m just tired of answering questions, and seeing multitudes more look at Fiala in concern or even fear like, “Can I catch that?”  I have seriously seen people recoil when I kiss her face.  I’m tired of that.

Obviously, my biggest concern is Fiala’s health.  I’m starting to be very concerned about scarring.  However, I find myself going out — even on simple errands, or to the library — less frequently, just because I don’t want to deal with others’ reactions to her skin.

I really, really, really hope that eliminating soy will solve her skin problems, or at least improve her skin greatly.

We do see a doctor on July 10, but that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to sit back, watch Fiala’s skin fester, and wait for the appointment.  😦  And, anyways, Fiala’s pediatrician has been of such little help, it’s hard to hold out hope that the pediatric dermatologist is going to have a miracle cure that the pediatrician didn’t know about.

So.  That probably sounds whiny, but there ya go.  Keepin’ it real.

I like everyone, except…

I like everybody.

That’s not to say that I want everyone to be my best friend.  There are people that I definitely get along with more than others.  And, it’s not to say that everyone likes me.  And, I’m sure that there are people out there, whom I’ve never met, who I would absolutely abhor.  But, of all the people with whom I’ve even held a passing acquaintance, I’ve enjoyed at least a little conversation with them.

In fact, in many an elementary classroom, my desk was placed nose-to-nose with the teacher’s, because it didn’t matter where s/he placed me;  I would talk with anyone.

Except for one.  There was one guy, Joad, who weirded me out, bad.  He was in my 5th grade class.  I wasn’t all that surprised to hear that he ended up killing someone.  I spent a few minutes Googling his name, and the man has a very troubled history with the law.

But, scary history aside, I like everyone.  There’s no one that I dread being around, or running into.

I’m even an introvert.  A complete introvert.  I totally need time alone to recharge, but if I am with others, what I prefer is to be in conversation with them.  I love conversation.  I particularly am interested in how people end up where they are — their physical location, their relationships, their job, there general circumstance in life, and what led them to that point.  I find that fascinating.  I also tend to think that no relationship is simply by chance, so my antennae are up in even small encounters, to see what God might have in mind — maybe He just wants to brighten my day, or theirs.  Maybe He has something for me to share with them.  Maybe He’s giving me a potential friend.  Maybe He’s giving me some fodder for prayer.  Whatever.  It’s all good.

So, no matter who you are, I’d enjoy spending at least a little time with you.

Except for one person.  One person.

I’ve know this woman for about 16 years, and she has been a challenge to me that whole time.  She pushes buttons I didn’t even know I had.  Her values, perspectives, the way she communicates, everything, are totally opposite mine.  I do not like her.  I do not trust her.  I could write a book about the negative interactions in our history.  There is no one in this world — NO ONE — of whom I could say similarly.  If I never saw her again, it would be too soon.

It’s not like she exists so that God can bring me into maturity, but as far as her existing in MY life, that’s the best I can make of it.  I see no positive benefit beyond that.  Interaction with her requires me to summon all of my best efforts — and beyond — of self control, graciousness, benefit of doubt, kindness, peacefulness, etc.  After even a tiny bit of any kind of time with her, I am absolutely drained.  I pray, pray, pray the entire time I’m with her.  I pray, pray, pray every time I talk with her, or respond to an e-mail from her.  I measure my words.  I consider what I’m saying twice, even three times, before it comes out of my mouth.  I even think, “If my pastor’s wife could hear what I’m saying, and how I’m saying it, would she approve?”  I do that just to make sure I’m not flying off the cuff, saying something unwise that I’ll regret.

There’s all sorts of reasons why I should probably have compassion and understanding for why she is the way she is, but I’ve wearied of summoning that, and find myself no longer able to do so.  I’ve just had it, for eternity, with her.

She’s also the mother of two of my neices and one nephew.  She’s the ex-wife of my husband’s brother.

About a year and a half ago, we had a run-in, whereby she badgered me into telling her whether or not I approved of her divorcing my brother-in-law.  I knew she wouldn’t like (HUGE understatement) my answer, so I brushed her questions aside.  I avoided her calls.  I answered her e-mails as thoroughly as I could, but not addressing that one issue.  Finally, when she pressed, I told her that, no, I don’t think it was right for her to divorce him.

She then banned me from her children.

I tried several times, and in several ways to get to see them.  But, it was not to be.  Her response was, “If Karen’s going to be there, my kids won’t be allowed to go.”  I even ran into a different former in-law (from her side of the family), and he said that he would set up a party and invite her kids and our family, too, without telling her, so that I could see them.  However, I knew that that would incur wrath, and it didn’t feel quite honest.  So, I declined.

She will be in my home on Tuesday.

On birthdays, we typically have a dinner at home, where we invite various extended family members.  Then, usually on the following weekend, the birthday kid can do something with their friends.  This past Monday, we were discussing this, and Martin said, “I was praying this morning, and I really felt like God was telling me to invite N— and the kids to Ethan’s birthday.”

I can’t tell you how hard my stomach sank.

A)  I honor my husband.  If he says, “Let’s do this!” then unless I have some really, really, really good reason not to, I do it.  Pitching fits like, “I don’t like her!” don’t qualify as any kind of good reason.  And, B) if he said that God told him, then I believe him, which means that God wants her here, which means that God wants me/us to have some sort of significant role in something in her life.  I’d rather have her as far from me, as long as possible.

So, it’s not like I could say no to my husband and no to God.  I have to say yes.

I have tears in my eyes right now, and my stomach is in knots, because I am so not wanting — with all that’s in me — to spend any kind of time with her.

I adore my neices, especially the youngest one.  She’s dear to my heart, and looks exactly like Audrey, except eight years older.  All her baby pictures look just like Audrey.  It breaks my heart that I haven’t seen her, nor my other neice or nephew (who is actually from a relationship previous to my brother-in-law, so he’s not technically my nephew, but I’ve known him since he was a baby, and he’s really a wonderful young man).

If nothing else, I’ll be thrilled to see the kids.

Wait.  I just called my hubby to see if he wouldn’t mind us all meeting at the park by our house, instead of in our home.  He said that would be fine.  Whew.  The neutral ground of a park sounds much less… threatening than having her in my home.  Ugh.  It’ll be warm.  But, the breezes will blow, the kids can run and play, the grown-ups can talk, it’ll be all right.

See, blogging is good!  It lets me process things.  Just the simple idea of us meeting at the park instead of our home lifts a LOAD off my shoulders.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.  Well, yes I do.  Normally, in the desert, we don’t plan birthday stuff for out-of-doors in the summer.  It’s just too hot.  But, I will definitely bend the plan this time and we’ll just sweat it out.  In more than one way.  😉

ETA:  About five minutes after I posted this, I started thinking, “Well, I really didn’t like this person, or that person…”  But pretty much everyone, even the people I don’t thoroughly like, have had some redeeming feature that made me respect, or admire, or appreciate, or relate with, or laugh at, or something good.   So, maybe I should have entitled this post “I don’t totally dislike anyone, except…”

%d bloggers like this: