2010 – The schoolyear we all learn something new

Today is the first day of homeschool – no time to post much, as we’re too busy getting back in the swing of things again. With an 8th grader, a 3rd grader and one in kindergarten, I’m pretty sure we’ll all be learning something new and exciting. I’m going to be in Photography school while the kids are homeschooling. I’ve found some terrific online resources and will be reading and studying through them as I have time between lessons.

Last night, I took my eldest and her friend to a local business park and we took some photos with my new Nikon. I’ve been wanting to do this since I got it, but the timing or the weather just hasn’t been cooperative.

When we got there, a “profeshunal” photographer was there doing a shoot with some high school kids. I tried really hard not to be embarrassed about my lack of flash attachments or zoom lenses. But I did watch him for a few minutes before we decided to explored the back alleys so we wouldn’t interfere with his shoot. We managed to find some really neat doors and painted steps – the girls were very cooperative and let me take a gazillion photos. We had a great time and I think we came away with some really cute shots and then the girls noticed the group leaving, so we scooted over to the park before we lost all our light.

Here’s a few shots from last night:










Make it a great day! I’ll be back soon with an update on how our first day of school went!

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It’s Official…

I am the worst photographer ever. But let me back up…

A week ago, I woke up to the most wonderful surprise. My husband left me a note on the toilet seat telling me not to flush it. Oh…that didn’t come out right…the note was on top of a BOX that was sitting on the toilet seat. (Look…I know what you’re thinking right now…”why did he leave it on the toilet seat?” I don’t know why he left it on the toilet seat – he’s the kind of guy that will tell you to meet him at 7:32 pm instead of 7:30. You can’t stop him – he’s a juggernaut of ambition that grabs life by the throat and squeezes everything he can out of it).

Anyway…inside the box was a brand spankin’ new one of these:

And it wasn’t even my birthday. Or Mother’s Day. Or Christmas. I mean, the man bought me this camera…get this…JUST BECAUSE.

I’ve wanted a digital SLR as long as I can remember. It seemed like everyone had one except for me – Rachel, Beth, Dianne, Darcy, Heather, Dawn…and the list goes on and on. Some of them have even taken photography to the next level and have gone to big expos and Photoshop worlds and the like., while I’ve been sitting home editing my photos taken with my point and shoot Kodak in Photoshop so they’d look “cool”. But inside I knew there had to be a huge difference between a point and shoot and a digital SLR.

I’ve been reading a book by Scott Kelby about digital photography and he said that there’s two really good times to shoot outside. Early in the morning when the sun comes up or in the evening before the sun goes down. I like to pretend that he really only meant in the evening before the sun goes down because what mom in her right mind gets up at the butt crack of dawn to take a photo of a kid in pajamas? (Oh, excuse me…I said butt crack — oops, I said it again. Forgive me for being so crass)

So we went to the hospital’s park tonight because there’s a really cool water fountain and bridge and it has a woodsy feel to it and I kept imagining how awesome the shots would be and how great the photos were going to turn out, because I’ve seen photo shoots taken there. I thought it would be *perfect*.

Um…not so much. Let’s just say I have a looooooooooooooooooooong way to go before I’m ready to show any of my photos on this old blog. Pioneer Woman I am not. Nosirreebob.

So, I’ll be doing a LOT more reading and studying up on things like filters and f-stops, apertures and shutter lag. I’ll also be taking a LOT more really bad photos in hopes that I’ll get one good one for every 150 bad ones. The good news? The film is free. 🙂

Plus, I’m actually excited about the challenge and will be sharing some of my photos here – I might even start participating in some photography memes, who knows?

One thing is for sure – I’m going to have fun being bad. Not too many times a Preacher’s wife can get away with saying that! 😉

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Bittersweet summer

Summer is slipping by at a fast pace – wishing I could go back and enjoy a little more of it with my sweet kiddos, but as the old adage goes, “time and tide waits for no man.”

Many of you already know that my dad passed away July 25th. I am thankful I was able to be there with him, holding his hand when he slipped very peacefully off into eternity. Harder than facing his death was telling my mom, who was still recovering in a nursing home from her car accident — we brought her home the day dad died. But, thankfully, we made it through with God’s help and here we are a couple of short weeks later, making great strides.

I spent a good portion of today at my mom’s house, cleaning out my dad’s closet. Bittersweet memories wrapped up in flannel shirts and “old man” khaki pants. Fishing trips, tall tales, and many a late night camping memories came flooding back as I removed each item and folded it to give to a local missionary. It tickles me to no end that my dad, a man who lived his entire life not wanting to have anything to do with Jesus, accepted Him a week before he died. And now all of his clothes and shoes will find themselves on a truck to Mexico with a missionary who will distribute them to new converts in Christ.

I found myself chuckling as I went through his dresser — hidden amongst the folded pants were brand new and never-used Craftsman drill bit sets and a myriad of other “special” items. Anyone who knew my dad would know he was probably “saving” those – because he rarely bought anything new – he was a lifelong garbage collector. From his days working in Fairbanks as the head of the Sanitation and Waste department all the way down to to his retirement home in Texas – he owned the key to the city dump.

Mom came in and sat on the bed halfway through and all productivity ceased as we began to reminisce about the man he was and how much we are going to miss him. There were a few tears shed…okay, a lot of tears were shed. But it was such a sweet time of bonding with my mom and I think we both needed it.

He had 91 years on this earth – I pray that Jesus comes back before I’m that old…but if not, I pray that I live them to the fullest and greet each day with a smile and a song in my heart, just as he did.

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The Accident…

*Note – this is a long post, so grab some coffee and a bagel, because it’s going to be a while.

I’ve stared at this blinking cursor on the page for too many days, trying to put words on virtual paper…where do I even begin? I’ve had a month’s worth of blog posts happen in a very short time, so I’ll probably resort to a bulleted list at some point.

We spent Saturday together as a family – the eldest was farmed out to her best friend’s house for the night and we had the two youngest with us as we grocery shopped and spent the evening just goofing off. It was around 7:30 p.m. or so when we arrived home, and we were just settling in to watch a movie before the kids went to bed when I received a phone call from one of my brothers on my cell phone.

Two things on this:
A.) I rarely answer my cell phone if my family is together, because…well, I’m not a slave to my phone and I don’t really like talking on it; and
B.) I have five living brothers (in order of birth age: Jim, Bob, John, Joe, and Don) and they never call me unless 1) they need something, or 2) something bad has happened.

I immediately called Bob back, only to receive his voicemail. It was then I noticed that he had actually left a voicemail on MY phone, so I phoned it to see what it was he needed. I was having a hard time hearing, so I put it on the speakerphone and heard, “Why don’t you ever answer your d**n phone – I have an emergency and no one will pick up!” Normally, I’d have laughed at his message (if you knew my brother, you’d understand – almost everything is an emergency to him), but the tone in his voice was completely different this time and it left me more than a little concerned.

Then I remembered the Life Alert bracelet my brother Jim had just ordered for my mom and started to feel a bit more urgency about reaching him, because Bob is #1 on the list. I got him on my fifth try (who says persistency doesn’t pay off?). I barely got “hello” out before he yelled in my ear about not answering my phone and told me to get over to mom’s – there was an accident.

Actually, his exact words were “Mother’s been in a car accident – she was hit my a car and run over. The paramedics are there now and will be transporting her to the hospital in a few minutes – if you can’t make it to her house to follow the ambulance, then get to the hospital!”

I’m not even going to try and be flowery with my words here – I’d love nothing more than to flesh out this story and fill in every little detail, but the truth is, I can’t.

This is one of those really weird instances where time just slowed to a crawl and everything seemed to be in slow motion, interrupted by short bursts of loud and fast-paced action. Looking back, my memory of it was sort of like one of those car wrecks you see in movies, the realization that something bad is going to happen (slow-mo), the actual crash (fast), the car crashing and windshield shattering (slow-mo), the aftermath (fast), and then the sobbing and crying.

Fortunately, even though I was in shock, my husband still had a brain and was using it. He gathered the two little ones and got them into the car while I put my shoes on and we were off to the ER, with me calling my remaining brothers to let them know what little I knew. I couldn’t reach ANY of them. Suddenly, I understood Bob’s feelings of utter helplessness and frustration. I posted on Facebook for them to call me asap and that it was a 911. I highly doubt any of them saw that message, but I was suddenly getting texts and emails from friends on FB asking what was wrong. I couldn’t bring myself to update them until I had talked to my brothers.

We actually made it there before my mom’s ambulance. I went in and told them she was on the way and went outside to watch for her. The ambulance pulled up two minutes later, no lights. I might have fallen apart a little bit then. I always thought that ambulances only turned their lights off if they were transporting a deceased person. Thankfully, I was wrong. But I did have a 30-second window where the wind was knocked out of me.

I went back inside as they wheeled her in and the ER nurse took me back to be with her. She was alert and talking and I have to say that I’ve never been so glad to see her. I had been through a whole gamut of emotions in such a amount of time, but I was honestly thrilled that she looked so good. At that point, I hadn’t known what part of her had been run over, if it was her whole body, an arm, a leg…and then I saw her wrapped leg and all the blood. I’m not talking about a little bit of blood, either. The bandage was soaked through, the sheets were soaked and blood was pooling on the bed.

Let me back up a bit. My mom is a heart patient and takes a drug called Coumadin to thin her blood and keep it from clotting. They could not get the bleeding to stop – and mom is a small, frail lady – she didn’t have a lot she could give up.

When the ER Dr. finally came in (in our town, Fri and Sat nights are the WORST nights to be in the ER – it’s the only hospital in a 4 county area that has a trauma section, so we get folks from four counties spread out over three states), he was concerned about the blood loss and when he found out mom had been on Coumadin, he ordered 2 pints of plasma and 2 pints of blood to help with the blood loss and clotting, as a start. Before it was all over, she received 4 pints of plasma and 5 pints of blood in a 24-hour period.

He was concerned she’d broken something in her leg or ankle area because her foot was black and swollen – at this point, he hadn’t even unwrapped her leg to look at the damage. He ordered x-rays as the next step and prepared to call the surgeon in. She was in excruciating pain, which they were able to alleviate only after they took x-rays (nothing broken – can you believe it?!).

At this point, I should probably back up and tell you what actually happened to her (our best guess anyway, because she really doesn’t remember all the details – she said it happened so fast).

She had arrived home from grocery shopping and stopped at the garage (where she has her frozen items stored) to unload the frozen food; she went to get back into the car (which was still running), and when she had one leg in, she went to steady herself with the steering wheel and somehow (we still don’t know) it was knocked into reverse. Because she only had one leg in the car and wasn’t seated, it knocked her off balance and she fell backwards, the car then rolled in reverse over her leg and she was caught up in the wheel well and drug backwards over 30 feet, until the van hit my brother Joe’s truck, which was mercifully parked at the end of the driveway. If it hadn’t been there, she could have been drug out into a very busy two-lane highway and killed.

She pressed the Life Alert button on her wrist as it was happening and my brother Joe, who was inside the house, heard a loud crash and then the alarm for LA sounded. The voice came over the intercom and asked if there was an emergency – he was already outside with mom. He ran back in to get towels to staunch the bloodflow and he said that “dang Life Alert lady” wanted him to tell her what was going on. He said to call an ambulance…he couldn’t talk.

I have to say – I’m so thankful he was there. I don’t know if I could have done what he did. His years as an army medic paid off – he was in full combat mode and took great care of mom using his training. The hospital staff say that he probably saved her life. I’ll have to make it a point to be much nicer to him in the future.

She had scrapes and bruises all over her body, but the only serious damage is her calf, which split open like a watermelon on both sides when the car ran over it.

Once we found out there were no broken bones, we were very relieved, because in our minds, that meant that she could heal faster. I don’t know very many 78-year olds who break bones and recover fully from that. And then the surgeon came and unwrapped her leg. I lost it (inwardly – I was very calm on the outside) again. Mom had already seen it – but I hadn’t. I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I’ve never seen anything that bad in my life, and I’ve watched a lot of medical shows and true crime shows.

We were all asked to leave the room at that point and we did so gladly – the surgeon came in and she was prepped for surgery. There wasn’t a lot they could do with her leg – but they did the best they could. She ended up with about 32 staples and some inner stitches, and there are places on her leg where she just doesn’t even have skin, but it could have been so much worse.

We are just so thankful that God spared her life and are just clinging to Romans 8:28, believing that this is part of His plan for us as a family. Mom needed to slow down and let us do more for her. This gives her no choice. Is it going to be stressful? Yes. Is it going to be painful? Without a doubt. Will there be tears? Oh, you betcha. And I’m just talking about me. I know mom will have adjustments too. 🙂

I’m doing my best to maintain a sense of humor and a positive attitude through this for mom, but I’ll be painfully honest–I sometimes fall apart once I get home. The stress of the day is hard to forget when my sweet kiddos are getting under my skin and I occasionally raise my voice when I shouldn’t, or cry for no reason.

I am not the same person I was a few days ago. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing yet.

I’ve had several friends tell me that they admire my strength. Please don’t do that. I’m not strong. I’m a weak person. God is my refuge and strength – a very present help in trouble.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You are the winner of a shiny, new…well, bit of nothing. Other than you’ve heard my story. Thanks for listening.

*If you are one of *those* people (like me), and want to see a photo from yesterday (after several days of healing), you can click here and here. For obvious reasons, I’m not posting them on my blog. I don’t want them being searched and indexed by google. 🙂

It’s not always happy, but it’s real. Subscribe via my RSS feed.

Mercy and the Sunrise

The sun came up as usual this morning.

I find the early morning sunrise to be one of my favorite times of the day. It comes early around these parts in the summer…around 6 a.m. Since I’m usually up preparing my husband’s lunch for work, I often miss the actual breaking of dawn.

But not today.

I felt an unusual urge to get up and read my Bible this morning at a very early hour. It’s unusual because on Fridays, my husband is off work and we typically “sleep in” on Friday mornings since Saturdays tend to be a frenzy of preparation for Sunday’s services at church. But for some reason, I couldn’t sleep and decided to obey the prompting I felt within me.

I turned in my Bible to today’s reading: Psalm 16.

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

I have no good beyond the Lord. God is my help, my portion, my joy, my all in all. I am more to Him than a drop in the ocean of humanity, I am a result of His individual love and care. Exercising my faith has to be more than a momentary act, it must be a habitual practice of my heart and mind.

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

God is always faithful, even when I am not. He has given me exactly what I’ve wanted and more than I ever deserved, and has not deserted me in my times of frustration. May I remember to rest in God’s hiding place in the heat of burning trials and know that this is not His final plan.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

What a blessing it is to be altogether saved from the power of death and the grave. The paths I travel in this life may be winding and long, and even lead me through the valley of the shadow of death…but He is faithful to carry me through the hard times. I know that the end of the journey will result in beauty that I cannot even begin to imagine.

As I contemplated those verses, the sun began to peek up over the trees and filled the heavens with the most glorious and beautiful colors. The rays streamed through the huge flowering crape myrtle in the front yard, spilled across the deck, and filtered in through the window to touch my feet, and slowly enveloped my entire body. I felt warm and safe and protected, as though His arms were wrapped around me, letting me know I was still His child and nothing would change that.

Yes, the sun came up as usual this morning…but this time, I was awake and looking for it.

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And Life Goes On…

Words are hard for me lately.

I want so badly to find my voice again…to talk about the things that are happening in my life right now. It’s not a very amusing or happy place I find myself in… which is why I have all but stopped blogging. With a title like “simply a musing” blog, what is one to do?

What’s happening in my life lately? One of my 6 brothers died recently, my stepdad is dying a slow and painfully frustrating death from Alzheimer’s, my mom is losing her ability to walk – and I feel overwhelmed at times by the changes taking place seemingly all at once.

I think about David when he was in the wilderness and running from the wrath of Saul and think I can identify, even if on a much smaller level. I’d like nothing better than to run in hopes of escaping what the future holds for me and my family…but I realize that God has ordained these events and I am supposed to stand firm and grow through this. I just don’t want to go through this. It hurts.

It’s agonizing to watch the man that raised me stare at me blankly when I ask him if he’s hungry, his mind searching the recesses and trying to remember what hunger is. It’s painful when he forgets where he’s going after two steps and stops and stands unsteadily for 15 minutes at a time until one of us finds him and asks him if he’s okay. It hurts to think that he will very soon forget my mother’s face, or my face…or the faces of my children and we will all be strangers to him. But the most painful reality is knowing that he’s slipping away and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

My son still prays for his grandpa’s salvation every night. I’m at the point now where I realize that he might not ever accept the Lord as his Savior. My son is stronger at 7 that I am at 41, for he tells me that the results are up to God, we can’t give up, because Grandpa’s soul is depending on us. And he truly believes that his Grandpa will get saved and be in Heaven when he gets there. Because of my son, I can’t give up that one hope, but it’s not looking good…and I don’t know how to accept it gracefully.

My brother died the way he lived – hopped up on every kind of painkiller known to man. He was a tortured soul and had lived a very disjointed life. Part of me wants to believe that he’s in a better place…but part of me wonders if he ever really and truly made his peace calling and election sure. I hope that he did, but a hope-so salvation is just not the way it should be.

My mom’s health has taken a turn for the worse this year. The stress of losing my brother, watching the decline of my step-dad, and losing a lot of independence is taking its toll on her. I wish I could do something, but there’s nothing to be done. So I sit with her, do her laundry, clean her house, help her in little ways when I can.

But I’m tired. Lord, this season is too long. I don’t know if I can bear any more of it. I’m not wishing for it to go away…just relief. I want to have a day where I can remember what it’s like to be carefee again. I don’t remember what it’s like anymore to wake up without worry and fear.

I need to have the hope that there’s a bright side in all of this. That this situation is going to get better. That this heaviness in my heart will lift. I need to have one day where I don’t yell at my kids or cry from frustration.

Meanwhile…life goes on. There’s still laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, dinner to be cooked, husband and children to love. I can’t fall apart because there are just too many people depending on me.

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