Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Today Was Tuesday

Last night I scrolled through a few old blog posts, posts about "going to work" and came upon one of my old hot dog posts. Those packages of hot dogs are totally random. No counting on how many are in a package without actually counting. Yesterday there were just 38 children needing lunch. Today there were 40 eaters. How many hotdogs were in today's package? There were forty. How about that? I love when that happens.

Jules has been handing me books and asking me to read when I come in the toddler room with breakfast. Sweet Julia, the one who screamed her head off every time she saw me when she was a baby. Now she wants me to stay in the room and read to her... Chase is saying my name, and he was just a four month old with his back tucked up against my chest in the baby room. My friend Parker is about to graduate from infants to toddlers. They just keep growing up. And I just keep loving them.

Monday, April 29, 2019

It's Where I Live

On Sunday afternoons the weekend feels too short, but where I really live is Monday through Friday  at the daycare. Last week I sat on the floor in the baby room while Meg was on break. I leaned my back against the side of the toy shelf and stretched out my legs. The little ones played around me with Parker occasionally coming over and plunking himself on my lap.

At some point in our hour together, Maren decided to pull herself up by holding onto the shelf, but her knee was on a book which slid away underneath her, and she bumped her mouth against the edge of the shelf. Loud wailing ensued and I hoisted her onto my lap for a look at her wounds and a bit of TLC. I popped her previously forgotten bottle into her mouth and she gladly accepted. And Parker, who had just moments before been the one on my lap, decided to lay down on the floor and use my leg for a pillow.

I never imagined feeling so settled in a job away from home, but I am. I like my little kitchen where I can close the door and escape a bit of the mayhem, and I love spending time with the children; getting down on my knee to talk with them, passing out hugs, and hearing them call my name. It feels like I belong there. I hope they let me stay.

Sunday, April 28, 2019


I enjoyed this morning's message at church and am blessed to have the ability to listen again online. Sometimes I find myself listening several times throughout the week. Just because.

After church I had a date with my favorite daughter in law and Number Four. A long overdue Girl's Day Out. (We've talked about doing this for way too long. Years even. And that is way, way too long for a little girl to wait.) Aubrey was given two Build-a-Bear bears by her Aunt Hannah about four years ago and today we took them to the mall for new outfits. We also had lunch, she rode the carousel, and peeked in the toy store. I had planned to have my ears re-pierced, until I heard the price. Ha ha! Do they think I have a hole in my head? There has to be a cheaper way...

I dropped the girls off at home and called the Cabinet Maker to see if he still wanted to catch an ice cream cone at Yia Yia's. Ben was out at the house, so they met me at the ice cream shop. On my way home I made a detour to Bethany's house to drop off my Fisher Price doll house, furniture, and people for a sweet three year old who found it quite exciting. She was playing when I left.

I got home in time to see Hannah, Sergio, and Number Nine heading out the door. I was invited along, but they were going to Yia Yia's and I'd already been there.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Snow and a Play Date With Clay

Just about the last thing I want to see at the end of April is snow, but there it was, filling the sky and piling up on my windshield. I'd hoped for a sweet, sunny weekend, but instead I was seeing snow. Boo! Part of me wanted to crawl back in bed to hibernate, but another thought it would be a great day to lug my new bag of clay off to the pottery studio to play in the mud.

I spent several hours wedging, spinning, and shaping lumps of clay into forms. A few flopped, but six went onto my shelf to await the next phase, which will come when they dry out enough to trim. No photos from today's play date with Clay. Maybe next time.These pots won't have the same properties as my others. It's a different kind of clay, but it was fun working with a clay that was a bit better behaved.

 Went grocery shopping with my son Joe this afternoon, then went out to the house in Williamson for a bit.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Playing Dress Up and Stuff

I was hoping for a warm sunny weekend... But it looks like I'll have to wait at least another week for one of those. Our forecast is not favorable. At least not for outdoor activities that don't include parkas and mittens.

I considered going to the pottery studio tonight after work, but ultimately decided to come home and do a bit of writing. I should have been writing a couple months ago. Perhaps if I had I would still be part of that Step Study... but God had other plans. It was a hard experience, but God never makes mistakes. He removed me from the group and I have to trust that He knows best. It's actually been nice not having to rush on Monday evenings. Last week I came home, and this past week I went out to the house in Williamson. We have an extra few weeks to sort through out stuff, and this is good. We need the time. There is healing in doing this together.

Last night I opened an ancient suitcase full of dress up clothes I'd collected during my "Flower Garden" days. The days when little ones came to my house to play for the day. I threw the smelly clothes into the wash and tossed them in the dryer. Then I folded them up and piled them into a paper bag. This morning I took them to work. The toddlers loved the hats and the 3 year olds loved the dresses. I didn't bother with the suitcase. It smells old and musty. Besides, we wouldn't want some child getting locked inside now, would we?

It was quite satisfying to see several children wearing the clothes I brought. And they were smiling.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Oh, My Aching Back!

For quite a long time now I've had pain in my lower back. It started out just a small twinge when I was walking on the beach with my friend Deb a few years ago. Than it grew into a bigger twinge. I didn't bother to mention it to my chiropractor until about a year and a half ago. Sometimes an adjustment helps, sometimes it doesn't.

In March I decided to make an appointment with my primary doctor to see if he had any answers. I also had a small bump under my arm and wanted to see what he thought of that as well. No worries on the bump. Sebaceous cyst. He was more concerned about my back. Sent me for an x-ray. Tuesday afternoon he told me I had a couple of degenerating discs that looked moderate, and another that looked very bad. Wanted me to see a specialist and maybe get an MRI. My health care coverage does not cover this. I have very basic coverage. So I called the chiropractor's office and hoped he could take a look at the x-rays. He did.

The chiropractor was not near as concerned about the degeneration as my primary care doctor. "It's normal wear for people our age," he told me. "It's not that bad." He hooked me up to the tens unit, put some heat on my back, and gave me an adjustment, and ya know, I walked out of there feeling better. I was still sore and achy last night, but I wasn't limping. "Martha, don't worry about your back," he told me as I left. I will be careful, but I won't be worrying. I'm not sure why the other doctor sounded so alarmed, but since I can't afford all the other tests and appointments, I'm very thankful to have someone tell me it's going to be okay.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Stuffing Envelopes

More word pictures...

Was talking with the Cabinet Maker this evening about character defects and missing pieces, and I mentioned how as a child I never learned the skill of conflict resolution. I told him that I learned to stuff envelopes. I would simply put that grudge or resentment into an envelope, lick the flap, stick it shut, and put it away. With the envelope sealed and filed, I didn't have to deal with the issue. Or so I thought...

I have spent much of the past few years sorting through envelopes. Picking them up, turning them over, but only very rarely breaking the seal and dumping the contents. When I ran into the situation with my step study leaders, I didn't want to silently slip the conflict into an envelope, seal it up, and tuck it away. All those piled up envelopes are a fire hazard! This time I have purposed to deal with the conflict in what I hope to be a healthy way instead. I know that will entail another meeting with the leader. It is painful growth.

So, yeah. I went out to the house from work tonight. We have a monumental task ahead of us. Cleaning out the house and barns can't be done in a day or two. We need weeks, and a few are all we  have, so I am going to be spending a significant amount of time in Williamson sorting through mountains of stuff. And so will James. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

PS. No more chickens... A neighbor- hood dog ran off with the remaining hen last week. Made James sad.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Resurrection Day

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: 
“I have seen the Lord!” 
And she told them that he had said these things to her. 
John 20:18

Early church service followed by breakfast with James at the little diner in the Webster village. No further plans at the moment. No family gathering. No Easter egg hunt. My sister mentioned a late dinner, so maybe I'll take her up on the offer. 

I had a good long weekend, but Sundays have tended to be emotional lately. I am learning to walk through it, rather than crawl or refuse to face it altogether. Last Sunday when I met the CR leader in the hall and she asked if she could hug me, I said, "No, not today." I wasn't there yet. The pain was still too raw. This week I let her give me a hug and I hugged her back, but I told her, "I'm still not there." I'm not ready to sit down and talk it out. I'm not one to harbor grudges or hold onto resentments, but I've not been one to work through them in a healthy way either. I typically run from confrontations like this, smooth them over, and struggle alone and in silence with a fake smile on my face. Now I'm "entirely ready" to have God remove this defect of character. I am not looking for confrontation, but the conflict resolution that comes as a result. Maybe one day soon we can sit down and talk.

The little Garden Tomb... I've always wanted to do something like that with my kids. The build up to Easter Sunday and the empty tomb has been missing from our Resurrection Celebrations. Maybe next year the grands and I can work on something like this.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Paid Holiday

Good Friday is one of the daycare's paid holidays. I slept in a little later than usual, hung around the house this morning, and ventured out into the world around noon. Actually, I straightened my room, did laundry, and headed out to the house in Williamson. I packed much of my mother's china cabinet into boxes today. While I did, the Cabinetmaker made me a cup of tea and I shared with him one of the bagels I'd brought from home, and a bit of cream cheese . 

The weather, which was warm and misty this morning, turned cold and rainy this afternoon. I'd left home wearing a sweatshirt and found myself wishing for a jacket when I  stopped at the shopping center to return a toaster and look for a items. I picked up a few tops, a new mattress pad, and two scarves on sale for a song.

The Barefoot Lumberjack stopped by the house in Webster for some metal pieces he'd left in the garage, and we decided to go out and share a burrito at Moe's. The burritos he orders always taste better than the ones I get. I've decided it's because he always asks for steak with peppers and onions, and I typically choose chicken because it's cheaper. I must remember to ask for steak the next time. I think it's worth paying a little extra.

I'm tired tonight. It's raining and I can hear it drumming gently on the roof. A cold, steady rain... It was a good day. Occasionally emotional, but this time there were no tears. I know there will be more, but there weren't today. Healing comes a little at a time.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fog Horn

On my way to work yesterday, I drove through a few patches of morning fog. The sun was making its appearance, but there were spots along the way where the light was blocked by hills. The hills, even though low lying, momentarily kept the sun from shining through and dissipating the clouds. I drove past a farm shrouded in mist. At ground level the fog appeared thick, but I could see sunlight hitting the barn's peaks and the top of the silo as well. It was really a relatively thin layer and destined to be short lived.

The fog. It's been on my mind. I've been in a fog of my own. Getting tossed out of my step study group was painful and confusing. Another former member told me, "It may not seem like it but this is a blessing!!!! Please trust that God is blessing and protecting you. Give God all of your hurt and pain. And celebrate that you are special enough to God for Him to close this door, knowing God is about to open an even better door for you to get the healing your soul needs." She is right. And I knew she was, but at the time I couldn't see through the fog at ground level to where the sun was shining up above. Today a bit of the fog has burned away and I am beginning to see that God has closed that door and is opening another. He knows exactly what I need and when. (How does He do that?)

Last week I felt like I'd been left without a support group, but God had a different one for me. I'm not quite settled in yet, but it's getting more comfortable and I'm seeing that this group is better suited to my needs than the other one ever was. The fog hasn't completely lifted, but above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

Monday, April 15, 2019


I'm not sure why God has put these difficult days in my life unless He means me to grow in ways I never imagined. I remember being a little girl and waking up in the middle of the night with an aching pain deep in my legs. I couldn't sleep and would cry out for my mother who would go to the kitchen to find me some medicine and a cup of cold water. The pain didn't go away as soon as I swallowed the pill, but I knew relief was on its way. The knowledge alone would enable me to settle back under the covers and allow my body to relax. Before long I would be sound asleep.

I can't see down the road and around the corner any better today than I could when my mom moved into our house eight and a half years ago. From November of 2010 ... "It feels like my family is falling apart. Life is not perfect, instead it dishes up challenges that we must overcome, some of them bigger than we really want to face. I do not know what is down the road and around the corner, I can only hope that the road once again becomes smooth. Until then the bumps threaten to throw us from the vehicle and leave us bleeding on the side of the road."  I made it down that road, not totally unscathed or without bruises, but I made it. I may have found myself bleeding here and there, I came out of the experience stronger and wiser.

Seeing down the road and and around the corner ahead of me is impossible, but looking in my rear view mirror is not. I can turn around and see what God has brought me through, and he's brought me through some hard things, and He's never left me to do it alone.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Minnesota Snow Family!

I stole my son's photos from Facebook because they made me smile. A Minnesota snow family! (How cool is that?) Maybe I've been an influence in his life after all... Ha ha!

In case you didn't notice, that smiling snow woman is holding a baby. Isn't he adorable?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Today Was Good

It's been a good day. I visited my counselor this morning and met a friend at Panera afterward. We chose a small table in the sun, right next to the door and sat for the next three and a half hours. (We had a lot of catching up to do...) We didn't eat much, she had a salad, and I had tea and an orange scone, but it was really the connection we were seeking, and not so much the food.

I am not so much surprised at God's ability to meet me in my need, rather it is the way He meets those needs that always catches me by surprise. The week started out rough, really rough, but I've never doubted God's presence in all of it. Does He cause friends to hurt me, just so He can come to my rescue? I don't think so. But I do believe He is perfectly able to take what is intolerably painful and bring growth and healing through it. He is a God of redemption and that is how He works.

It was an incredibly beautiful, sunny day. My camera called out a few times, but instead of taking pictures, I went home to check my email and take a nap. And then I went out to pay my Target bill and buy a new toaster because our wasn't working this morning. Of course it's working fine now... I just want to know I can warm up my waffles on Monday before I head out to work. :0)

(I stole the picture... )

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Promise of Spring

Spring is gaining strength and winter is waning. Yesterday we had a few snowflakes in the air. This morning we had a fire drill and during the afternoon the children played outside in short sleeves. Tonight I am sitting at my little desk, once a wedding gift to my maternal grandparents, with the window open. The birds are singing their evening song and my heart is feeling peace.

Bible verse of the day, Psalm 126:5. They who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. I have to do a little more work on processing my hurt and anger from this week, but the pain is not overwhelming. I slept last night and tomorrow I have an appointment with my counselor. I am grateful for the appointment because for some reason I was thinking I didn't have another until the end of the month. I actually said, "Praise God!" out loud when the reminder came in my email.    

It's been a week of sorting mind files, a going through the baggage kind of week, and this time things are beginning to make sense. Being asked to step out of a group to which I have dedicated 41 Monday evenings, June through April with only Labor day missing, was devastating, but it hasn't destroyed me. God has better plans for me. The healing He has in store is the kind I really want and need anyway., because He is the only one who knows my story from start to finish, and the only one who loves me wholly and completely.

I have not only been asked to step out of the group, but banished from it. I do not have the choice to return. I've been told I am "stuck," "not ready," and have not gone "deep enough" with my shared answers...But I am not stuck, because God doesn't leave his kids stuck. Instead He is using the seeming unkindness of people I loved and trusted, to get me over the hump. I was told I could start a new step study come September, but that is not likely to happen. Had the leaders been honest with the other members as to why I wasn't coming back, ... I might,...  maybe... consider it. But they were simply told I wasn't coming back, as if it had been my decision, and I think there is something inherently rotten about that. It's like I'm seeing a field of red flags waving at me, and tonight I am grateful for blank answers and an inability to write down what would normally flow naturally.

I am okay. Good even. I am learning to advocate for and take care of myself. I didn't need a rescuer to swoop in and fix it up for me, and that is progress. I've learned a major trigger point in my emotional baggage and God has lanced the wound deep in my heart. Healing has begun. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

You Go, Girl!

Standing up for myself (and probably a few others) for once in my life, and I'll sleep better tonight for having done it.

I'm disappointed the step study turned out this way. It feels kind of like a nightmare... and a bit unbelievable. I could almost laugh though at the way God has used this in healing a part of me that has been broken for so very long. He loves me and that is all that matters.

Maybe I'll go back to CoDA after all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Character Defects

I took a brave and fearless step last night and wrote a letter to our step study leaders. I had to do it. For me. And for those who will come after me... "One of my greatest character defects is not standing up for and advocating for Martha, and so today I am asking God to remove that defect. Today I choose, with His help, to advocate for myself in a way previously neglected, and I am starting with what transpired on Sunday morning."  In CoDA I learned that my journey to recovery is my own. I go at my own pace, in my own time. There is no "right way" to work the steps. "I emphasize progress over perfection."

Today was a good day. I went to sleep after emailing my letter last night. It was still relatively early, but I was emotionally exhausted and sleep came easy. I had a good day at work. My boss had forgotten to take the turkey roll home to be sliced yesterday, but I heard God whisper in my ear to take my Mandoline Slicer along with me this morning and the kids had turkey sandwiches after all. At my last shift in the baby room I had the pleasure of cleaning up an incredible blow-out. One I might have referred to several years ago as "The Babysitter Test." This small boy ended up in a sink of soapy water. It was that bad. Ha ha! This evening I ate dinner with my beautiful Bethany and her family and then we went for a walk around the block. Well, Jilly and I walked. Jake rode his bike and Beth was dragged around the neighborhood by her dog.

 I am okay. I am learning, and God is showing me He is still right here with me, providing for my needs, and holding me firm when strong winds threaten to knock me down and suck my strength away.

The LORD is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety--
Proverbs 18:10 CEV

Monday, April 08, 2019

And I Came Home

So tonight, for the first time in 42 weeks, I did not go to my step study. I came home instead to a little boy who said, "Hi, Grammy!" as soon as I walked in the door. He asked me to play cars and we sat on the floor together for a bit. Last night, on my trip to Target, I found a shiny, chrome Hot Wheels firetruck in a multi-pack of cars. I took the firetruck out and gave it to him before he went to bed last night. He slept with it in his hand and woke up still clutching it this morning. Firetrucks are his thing.

As I was writing this, I got a text from one of the women in my step study. She said she was sorry to hear she wouldn't be seeing me on Monday nights anymore... I sent a message telling her it wasn't my choice, and then my phone rang. I was surprised to see my daughter's number on the screen. She was surprised to have me answer the phone because even though she'd felt God prompting her to call me, she expected me to be at my step study. (Cue tears...)

Bethany was surprised to hear I wouldn't be going back to the study, and I think even more surprised at a sobbing mom on the other end of the phone. She asked if she could come over. It's been a long, long time since we've had a heart to heart talk. There were moments when I thought that time would never come... but it has. I'm learning. I'm still learning. My heart is still broken, and there are still tears, but I am finding my own broken places and trusting God will heal my wounds, even old ones. I am learning what triggers tears and feelings of insecurity, and I am learning just what lengths God will go to show me that He loves me.

It's late now, and I'll have another set of bags to take into work tomorrow morning. (I need one of those old facial masks my mom used to wear occasionally...) I've heard Preparation H works on eye bags. I looked at it in Walmart this afternoon, but decided I didn't ever want to explain to a doctor why or how I got it in my eye...

Photos of Number Nine from Friday's gathering because I have to put something fabulous and wonderful here.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Expect the Unexpected, I Guess

I am tired of beginning the arduous task of unpacking the baggage only to get overwhelmed and throw it all back into the bags unsorted. I don't know how to do this alone, and I don't know who or how to ask for help. It's such an agonizingly slow process that I can't blame my friends and family for shying away, especially when each item in the bags holds such deep meaning for me. I don't mean to chase people away,... really, I don't... and I don't know how to heal. I've come so far and have so far to go. The problem is I don't know where I'm headed or what I might need in those bags.

In the Bible, the Children of Israel were led out of a life of slavery in Egypt, and into the wilderness where God promised to take care of them and lead them into the Promised Land. They started out bold and courageous, ready for the journey, but ended up grumbling, full of fear, and wanting to turn back. They knew what they had left behind, and it wasn't all good, but had little idea of what lay ahead. They longed for the leeks and cucumbers of Egypt, but had no clue about the milk and honey that waited for them in Canaan.

I keep looking backward... I keep seeing all I have left behind. I keep seeing the good and forgetting the pain. It's not that I can't forget, it's that I have a hard time remembering. I circled some words on the checklist of flaws and assets... apprehensive, afraid, avoidant, defensive, enabling, fearful, indecisive, timid... honest, cooperative, faithful, loyal, reliable, forgiving, loving, concerned for others, patient, willing to grow... Fear has crippled me. I am frightened of other peoples' opinions, of being alone, and of expressing my own ideas and opinions. I am afraid of making wrong choices, even when I have every reason in the world to make them. Why? Why is it that I am so afraid? Where in the luggage is that piece buried?

"Three to five years..." That's how long he told me it could take to work through these things. I'm three and a half years in and some days I'm not exactly sure what it is I'm working through anymore. I know I need to change my focus... I need to work on Martha... but I don't even know most of the time what that means.

I've been asked to drop out of my step study. I don't have my inventory written and often haven't finished my homework... I didn't see it coming. I thought I still had time.

This was unexpected. This is painful. I don't know where to go from here.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

The Last Hurrah (for now)

It's really Saturday morning, but I haven't been to sleep yet so it still feels like Friday to me. When I say "tonight," just remember in my mind it's still yesterday.

My Minnesota family is leaving in the morning. Tonight we had one last family dinner before they go. We met out at the house in Williamson; six of my kids, three of our in laws (two daughters, one son), and nine grandchildren. James was out of town and gave us permission to borrow the house for the evening.

There were no planned activities aside from dinner together and time in the house. The house is listed for sale and James has accepted an offer. If the deal goes through, this will be the last time our kids will gather in the house...

I cried my eyes out two weeks ago. I love everything about the house, but God is working other things in our hearts and lives, and it is out of my control. Letting go comes terribly hard for me. I want to hang on to everything and everyone I love, and even things I don't love so much, but I must remember that in order to take hold of the new things God has for me, for us, I need to let go of old things. Even things I love dearly. Even when it hurts.

One lone chicken still roams the yard. She succeeded in the pecking order, so to speak. Chickens are cruel companions, and when the outcast chicken dies or disappears, the group chooses a new hen to hate. Perhaps she was always the instigator. Who knows? Anyhow, she lives in the coop alone now and wanders the property at will.

I looked for my salmon colored tulip amongst the English ivy, but the rock I planted her by is missing and so I'm not exactly sure where she's planted. Maybe I will find her in a week or two.

I managed to get nine grandchildren in one picture and it will have to do for now. Controlling others is not my job and I can't make all my children decide to be in one place at the same time. They must be allowed to heal and grow at their own pace and in their own way. Maybe next time, huh?

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Little Stuff

Today was Wednesday, that magical day midweek when the weekend feels not quite so far away and the week a little more tolerable... Although Monday and Tuesday are really not so intolerable and I like going to work.

I went to the pottery studio last night and actually threw a few pots. Fancy that! I haven't thrown anything on the wheel in weeks, but one of my friends asked if I was going to throw any bowls and it sounded like a good idea.

This afternoon I made a visit to the doctor. I had a couple of things I needed to check out. My back/right hip has been bothering me for quite some time. A long time, really. It hurts mostly when I lay down, but can be a nuisance at other times too. The good news is my hip is working fine. It is probably a pinched nerve caused by inflammation. I've been prescribed an anti inflammatory medication and given a sheet to have an x-ray taken, just to make sure nothing is amiss. The doctor was not at all concerned about the other issue. Just a small sebaceous cyst.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Where Am I and What Day is It?

Last week was stressful, a week of ups and downs, nights of decent sleep, and nights where sleep was terribly elusive. I woke up in a dark room one morning and looked at my clock. It was after 6 am, maybe a few minutes after, or maybe closer to six thirty. All I remember is flying out of bed, grabbing my jeans and bra off the floor, and trying to figure out what shirt to wear all while attempting to determine whether or not I had time for a shower. My hair really needs to be washed every day...

I turned a circle or two trying to recall what day it was, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't clear the fog from my mind. What was yesterday? What had I been doing? Was it Friday? I hadn't a clue, and honestly, it was a little frightening.

I flipped open my laptop and stared at the screen. SUNDAY, MARCH 31. Relief washed over me. Ah, yes! I had been out to dinner with my Minnesota son and his family the night before. I felt just a tad silly as I crawled back under the covers and closed my eyes, but mostly I felt that profound sense of relief. I must have been absolutely exhausted when I went to bed Saturday night. Either that or it was the chicken and waffles....