Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Photo credit: Fredericksburg, Ohio  Facebook
In what seems like another life, I remember sitting in the pastor's office, in this building which no longer stands, talking about the future. We were there, a rule following high school senior and a slightly rebellious recent college graduate. We were there to talk to the soft spoken Pastor Ken about getting married.

I am not sure what Ken thought about this seemingly odd couple sitting in front of him. Perhaps he, like my parents who were Tim's youth pastors, were worried about Tim. Ken spoke to us about a Biblical marriage, about expectations of a husband and a wife, and he had us take some sort of personality assessment. Perhaps I imagined it, but I am fairly certain that Ken was slightly surprised at the results of that assessment.

Tim and I knew we wanted to be together. We thought we were a good match, but we couldn't have put it in words at that time the way the assessment did. It showed where we were well matched. It pointed out some differences, which Ken explained and we would figure out years later, were assets to our marriage when we learned to appreciate them in one another. It also showed one area  Ken cautioned us could be a problem. We both were impulsive.

Looking back at our marriage I can see how that tendency was ever present in little and big decisions that we made. It made for some grand adventures, but it also created some messes that took us years to recover from.  In our early years of marriage, our finances were a classic case of impulsive spending. Thankfully, we did learn that painful lesson, eventually.

I find it interesting (and a bit scary) to look back and see how many of our big decisions were made on a whim and an impulse. The decisions often came with other life changing events. There was not a pregnancy or birth of a child that didn't involve some other sort of major change in our life. Those changes were not well laid out or planned. It was almost like we said, "Hey life is about to really change. Let's just throw it all up in the air, and see what happens." There were some good and happy memories that came from those decisions, but there were also some hard painful learning moments.

There was the time Tim graduated from college, we quit our jobs and moved with a two week old baby back to our hometown where Tim would drive two hours to attend graduate school while I attempted to complete my student teaching for the college that we just left, and work part time so we would have some income.  Oh yes. A well thought out plan.

But I think the winner (or loser) of impulsive decisions would have to be the six months where we had a baby, bought a duplex in a questionable part of the city, and then both quit our jobs before we had new ones in place. That was the year where we truly learned frugality and the control of our impulse spending.

Of course I am only giving you a part of the stories. Behind both of those crazy impulsive decisions, and many of the others we made  through our marriage, were difficult circumstances that we wanted to leave. We saw an opportunity to leave and jumped at it without fully weighing the options, considering the consequences, or dealing with what we were leaving behind.

That is exactly where I find myself now. This is the most difficult life changing event. All around I see overwhelming messes that need dealt with. I see broken dreams, and bittersweet memories. I just want to leave. I just want to move away and move on. I want to throw it all up in the air, and see what happens. This is the impulse I am fighting against. This is what I was referring to in my post, From Adventures to Burdens.

Though I know we can not move until summer, I feel this urgency to pick a house, and to start down a new road. I look at houses daily online. I have a realtor. We've visited several houses. I am feeding the beast.

Sunday was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. It felt like spring. Vivian and I walked to the end of our ridge. We walked away from all the messes to the place that Tim and I once dreamed of building our earth bermed home. It is a beautiful spot overlooking hollows on three sides. Sitting there brought tears for the dreams that will never be. I also realized that those dreams were our dreams, but they are not my dreams, and there is a difference between what we dreamed together, and what I dream alone.

So I find myself in that place knowing I want to leave, looking for that opportunity, but hoping I am truly weighing the options, considering the consequences, and dealing with what we are leaving behind.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Happy 14th birthday to Lydia. She is beautiful inside and out. I am so proud to call her my daughter, and of the young lady she is becoming.

But she is growing up way too fast. I remember these days as if they were yesterday.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

From Adventures to Burdens

The 100 Acre Wood has been my home for more years than any other. Tim and I spent half of our married life here. Moving here was a bit spontaneous. It was a little, maybe a lot, crazy. I look back on those early years now, and can't quite believe we did it.

The first five years involved a lot of hard work, frustrations, and learning.We really didn't have a clue what we were getting into, and even what we thought we knew was highly romanticized, but it also was a grand adventure. It made me happy to have my kids roaming the woods. We were proud of our meals that came entirely from our farm. I loved our variety of animals, and sharing our farm with friends and family. It wasn't easy, but it was highly rewarding.

Then my dad died, and we had to reconsider how life in the 100 Acre Woods would change. I find it ironic that I am sitting here almost exactly five years later writing the same kind of post as I did then. That post was written just a few months before Tim would receive his initial melanoma diagnosis.  It was here that our adventures started to feel more like burdens.

We did away with our variety of animals, and focused on pigs and chickens. We worked, but constantly seem to take one step forward and two steps back. We struggled to keep up what had already been established. Tackling the many started or dreamed of projects was out of the question. The excitement, rewards, and enjoyment began to dwindle.

I still held on to this place, to those dreams, perhaps out of stubbornness, perhaps out of a sense of needing to complete what we started. Tim and I planned to live here forever. We planned to build our earth bermed off grid house a bit farther back on the ridge.  When he died, people asked if I planned to stay here. At the time I couldn't even process that question, and I also resolved that I wouldn't make any major decisions for a year.

Truthfully, then, I thought the question was more about could I, was able to. In my mind the answer was yes, of course I could. Staying here would be a lot of work. It would require some muscle and skill that I don't have, but it is possible. It didn't occur to me, that the question really wasn't am I able, but do I want to.

In the past month or so, the answer to that question feels more like no. The adventure feels gone. The burden remains, and I don't think I want to work that hard anymore. Everything here feels unfinished and overwhelming. I don't think I want to pursue the dreams we had for the 100 Acre Wood without Tim.

I know I have a impulsive side. I know that emotionally I am still a little unstable. I am trying to stick to the wise advice of no major decisions for a year. Yet, in my heart, I feel like the decision has already been made. This doesn't feel like home anymore. This is no longer an adventure. It is a burden.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


We did it. Check those off the list. We got through Christmas. We passed our anniversary date. We remembered Tim. We missed him, but we enjoyed our holidays with friends and family. I didn't end up a sobbing mess at any point.

Then it happened. A first I wasn't prepared for. Notice that theme? It is always the unexpected things that wreck me.

I went to the shop that processes our hogs. I've been there several times since Tim has been gone. I don't know if others in the shop know, but this particular employee didn't. He asked me how Tim was doing.

I don't even know what I said to him. Poor guy didn't know what to say to me. I just couldn't get to my vehicle fast enough. The door closed, and I was an instant blubbering snotty mess. This happened Monday. Typing this on Wednesday, I am much the same. In fact, this whole week I've felt a bit like I was under a cloud. It probably has to do with the post holiday blahs, but it also feels like that one innocent little question has knocked me back onto the emotional roller coaster.

When I posted about our anniversary on Facebook, friends commented, "It's not fair." It isn't. The grief process isn't fair either. We've lost Tim. I want to remember him with warm fuzzies. I want to miss him, but get on with life without the scab on this big gaping wound getting ripped off with a tiny, innocent question.

I am impatient with the process.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas. And we are having a merry Christmas. No, really I mean it.

This holiday season has been hard. We are emotional. We've had frustrations and challenges which all seem so much larger while we are mourning. My head isn't all in the game, and I've forgotten things. We have had tears of sadness and of anger. Sometimes it has been ugly.

But we are working through it together. Mom losing her cool one particularly ugly evening unexpectedly seemed to make a breakthrough with one particular child. Nolan and I were having a hard time. There was a lot of attitude. There was a lot of tough guy covering up a wounded heart. Maybe seeing mom break is what it took to break through his shell. I don't know, but I do know since then he has been a much kinder Nolan, the big teddy bear that I knew was still there.

I am excited for presents. If you know me well, you might be surprised to hear that. We normally keep that part of Christmas to a minimum. I did still stick to our four gift strategy, technically. I just went a little bigger with it. I know any therapist would tell you I am totally trying to compensate heart hurts with things, but I don't care. I found some things I think the kids are going to love, and I'm excited to see them open them! 

I love having all the kids home this week. It has been a relatively low key week. I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen. We've baked, and I've cooked real meals. Well, dinners anyway. Frozen pizza for lunch while mom is baking cookies does happen here. We had a Star Wars movie marathon. It is nice to have the boys around. With the school schedule, we barely see them during the week. When they are home, I spend most of the time nagging Nolan to get things done. I am enjoying this more relaxed time.

I find comfort in keeping our traditions. Our traditions are pretty low key. I know for some who are grieving, traditions bring sadness, for me they bring comfort. I guess in knowing life does go on. We cut our tree from our property. This one is pretty scraggly, but it serves the purpose. It is even decorated, which is better than we did last year. I baked some of our favorite cookies. I baked a cheesecake, Tim's favorite. We will go to Christmas Eve services. We will stay home for a quiet (or as quiet as it gets around here,) Christmas morning, and travel the next day.

I am in awe of the continuing support we receive from our community of friends and family. People continue to support us with their time, money, words, and prayers. It is awesome to be loved and remembered.

I am learning to quiet my heart, and turn toward the Lord. That is what He has been teaching me through this whole process. When the emotions, the daily tasks, and the frustrations seem overwhelming there still is peace and joy. And isn't this the season of peace and joy? 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


I came across this picture yesterday. We were sitting in Huntington airport waiting for our plane to Florida. I wish we were taking a Florida vacation again, all together, all six of us. I wish I was sitting anywhere, doing anything with that man at my side.

It has been almost four months, and in many ways we have found a new daily routine. Occasionally, in the middle of this routine, disbelief will work its way through to the surface. I still can't believe he is actually gone. He was far too young. Besides melanoma, he was the picture of health. I think I could count on my hands the number of days he missed work before cancer. It isn't fair to the kids. It isn't fair to me.

Other times in the midst of our daily activities the smallest things will set the tears flowing. Yesterday, it was this picture. I don't even remember why I was looking through pictures. There were tons of pictures with Tim, but this one made me cry. A few weeks ago, it was grilled cheese that started the crying.

It was one of the first really cold days of fall. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of our favorite cold weather meals, and it was on the dinner menu. Tim loved grilled cheese. He loved to pick the little crispy bits of cheese that would fall onto the griddle. That evening there was no one picking while I cooked. That started the emotions, but when I realized I'd made too many sandwiches, the tears began to flow.

Our griddle makes six at time. I loaded that griddle up twice, just like I've done a hundred times before. But we aren't six anymore. We are five. There is always an empty space at the table, and I don't need to fill the griddle twice when I make grilled cheese.

I convinced myself that the holidays wouldn't be too bad. We never made a huge deal about things like that. Our traditions were loose and somewhat fluid. Yet, several days before Thanksgiving heaviness and sensitivity began to settle. It is still here. I imagine it will stay through the holidays. I imagine it will be with us in varying degrees at varying times forever, but it is ok. It is part of the process. We suffered a great loss. He was a great man. He is gone, but will always be part of us. We still have joy. We still have peace. We still have hope.

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I hope in Him!" The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. ~ Lamentaions 3:21-26

Friday, October 16, 2015

One Step then Another

I remember going rappelling with my dad. He would always say, "The first step is the hardest." Whether you considered yourself adventurous or precautious, that first step was a big one. It was easier to stay on the top of the ledge where it was safe. Where you didn't have to put in any efforts. Where it was comfortable, if not fulfilling.

Isn't all of life like that though. The first step is the hardest. I am not just talking about big life changing events. Sometimes the first step is just getting yourself out of bed to face the day.

I had been warned that at the two month mark grief often hits hard. It is at this point that reality sinks in. That you realize this is life. This is life without the person I love. There is no fix for this.

This is where I find myself. The grief is heavy again. I want to lay in bed all day and binge watch Netflix. My patience is thin, and I feel easily defeated. Taking that first step to face the day is a struggle, and even once taken my pace is lethargic.

People say I need to give myself time. I know they are right. I know the waves of grief will become less frequent, less devastating. I also know that I must push through them when they come. There is no relief in laying in bed, watching TV, or scrolling Facebook. When I can make myself take that first step, and then the second, third, fourth, there is some comfort.

I don't feel like working in the garden. I don't feel like making dinner. I don't feel like taking a walk on a gorgeous fall day. I don't feel like caring for animals. Nevertheless, when I push myself to take that first step and the steps that follow I am always glad that I did. Keeping my hands busy clears my mind and spirit in a way that I can never do when trying to sit in the quiet or numbing my brain with some sort of entertainment.

Tasks that require my brain and emotions are different though. Dealing with a difficult child, talking to a lawyer, completing paperwork for colleges or to settle accounts are things that I don't want to do, and I find no comfort in. They drain me. I find myself completely exhausted after these activities. Still, they must be done, one step after another.

Most days, I don't want to take that first step. Sometimes, I don't want to take the second or third step either. I have to though. There are tasks that must be completed and will simply become an even more overwhelming pile if I don't chip away at them. There are tasks that bring some enjoyment. I need to overcome my inertia, and participate even if it is one slow step after another.