Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Decluttering

For the past year, I've pretty much let the house go. I have clutter everywhere. Generally, I pride myself in being pretty organized. Recently, I find myself overwhelmed and unable to feel a sense of accomplishment with anything I do. This is what I've been attempting to work on lately. Still, there is always something requiring my time that keeps me from cleaning up the stacks.

This past weekend we didn't have the kids but I was hosting Easter. With that behind us, now would seem like an ideal time to get rid of some of the clutter. This week, however, I'm attempting to get on board the potty training wagon. It would be good if Jaycie was fully potty trained by the time this third child joins the family.

Just one more reason why blogging is not taking a priority in my life. It's time to unclutter my house, my mind and my heart. I realize this will be a long process. And yet, I know it will be well worth it in the end.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Losing my mind

I've been losing my mind for quite some time now. Numerous actions continue to confirm this.

The other day I stood with the refrigerator door open. I was just staring, attempting to figure out what I opened the door for. That's when I remembered... I needed pot holders! I closed the door to the fridge and opened the cabinet just shaking my head.

I do these types of things more and more all the time. Can I just blame it on the fact that I'm preparing for a third child?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Internal Struggles

One of my internal struggles lately has been with facing the fact that my father-in-law is battling cancer. I am having a difficult time sorting out my emotions with all of this. Although this is not new information, it seems as though his condition has changed.

Dad Carlson has been undergoing kidney dialyisis treatments for at least a month now. His entire diet is altered and he is no longer working. He had a lump the size of a small orange removed from under his armpit during the end of February. The concern is as to whether his chronic (slow-growing) leukemia has now become accute.

We don't have answers from anyone right now. It's frustrating to Rod and I. We don't understand why test results take so long. He had a bone marrow test before the dialysis even began and we have yet to hear those results exactly. We believe he is meeting with doctors tomorrow to hear some results from some tests but don't know much. It is all very unsettling.

The most disturbing part of all of this for me that I identified today is that I don't know how to pray. Do I pray for God to heal him? It seems obvious that I should. My heart is so confused. I KNOW God works miracles and that includes that he can heal my father-in-law. Still, I am hesitant to pray for my desires. Maybe I just don't want to be let down again.

At this point, I'm telling God that I don't know what I should pray. I want to pray for his physical healing. I want to pray for eternal peace and security. I want to pray for so many aspects. Yet prayer has become a struggle for me. I'm seeking to know God more and remember how constant He remains even as we face the hard times.

"For I am the LORD, I change not" - Malachi 3:6

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A sheltered life altered

My children are healthy. I have a husband who loves me. All 4 of my grandparents were a part of my life for 29 years. (My paternal grandpa died in January 2007.) All of my siblings and cousins are alive and well. My life has gone pretty much as hoped and expected. No big problems or tragedies.

When people would ask the question "Why us?" as Dad battled through the cancer, Dad would respond with "Why not us?" He knew how sheltered our lives had been and how no one can expect to be exempt from this kind of pain.

I have not had to face anything like this before. Cancer was always a distant word. Death never stared me in the eyes like it has this past year. I think that may be why Dad's death is extra difficult for me to cope with. Fear grips me. If Dad could get cancer and die before his 56th birthday, what does that say about the future? What other unkowns are there that I will have to face?

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27

Monday, March 17, 2008

????

I find my thoughts to be all jumbled these days. I can't sort them out. Thinking straight is something I've practically given up on. Everything I should be doing swirls through my mind. I think about people I'd like to get in touch with or hang out with. I think about life and how permanently altered it is without my dad. I attempt to stuff my feelings because I don't know how to sort them out. At the same time, I know I need to feel. If I don't allow myself to feel, I won't be allowing God to penetrate my heart.

I remember saying numerous times throughout Dad's battle with cancer that we needed to come out of it changed. So, I wonder. What is it God wants to do in me? What is it God wants to say? Am I willing to listen? Are the words that exit my mouth matching what is going on inside my heart?

I don't want my heart to grow cold. I don't want to become hard-hearted. I'm not sure what life holds as each day I face this lingering reality that Dad will no longer be a part of future memories.

Nike plays a home video wherein I see Dad or hear his voice in the background. It creates all kinds of emotions in my heart.

I've been tickling Jaycie's arm pits and asking her the question, "What's this?" She had yet to respond with the answer I've given her until today...even without posing the question. "Papa's tickle spots," she said. "That's right," I smiled slightly.

The conversation continues and I tell Jaycie "Papa loved you a lot". While I attempt to asorb her response "No, Papa. Heaven with Jesus." Deep in my heart, I know it's important to keep his memory alive.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Human Perspective

There are so many feelings and thoughts running through me these days. Sitting down to write on a blog entitled "My Identity: A Child of God" has not seemed like a good fit for me these past days.

Don't get me wrong. I know very well that being His child is my identity. That's how I know I can face the future. Even still, I've been wrestling with myself.

On the way to church yesterday, Rod reached over and took my hand in his. As I looked at his strong hand holding mine, I began to cry. I feel like a little girl who has lost her daddy and doesn't know what to do next.

How did I stand up in front of everyone a week ago with confidence in sharing the hope of eternity with my dad without crying? Today, I cannot control my thoughts. I cannot fight the tears. It hurts to think through my human perspective. If I live the standard life expectancy, that's a lot of years without my dad.

I attempt to count my blessings and think of those whose situations are worse off than mine but it's a continual battle. The fact is that I am sad. This man that was a vital part of my life for 30 years is gone. Gone. Yes, I will see him again someday and that gives me great comfort. Really it does. Today, however, as I attempt to live this life knowing holidays (Easter) and birthdays and family gatherings will no longer be with this anchor for our family, my heart hurts.

I'm just learning how to live this altered life I now have. Part of my heart was taken with him and it is a learning process as to how to go on. So, for right now, I'm not much for talking. (I know, quite the shock.) Really, I'll be okay. It's just going to take some time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Celebrating Dad

Here's part of what I had to say at Dad's funeral:

One day, when I was in high school, I asked Dad if I could go somewhere. Typical of Dad, he couldn’t just give me a “yes” or “no” answer. Instead, he pulled out a coin. “Heads you can go.” “Tails, you can’t.” Then he threw on for laughs, “And if it lands on it’s side, you can do whatever you want for the rest of your life.” He tossed the coin in the air and let it fall to the ground. I was hoping and hoping for heads. It dropped and it rolled. It rolled to the side of the sofa and rested on its side. Dad just stood there in amazement as I said, “see ya later”.

“It was the darndest thing” he’d say and shake his head in disbelief every time I recalled this memory. Dad taught me in this experience that things don’t always go the way we expect or hope them to.

For us, things didn’t go the way we expected or hoped in Dad’s battle with cancer. To many, it may seem as though God did not answer our prayers. Honestly, there are times I wonder why I should even pray anymore.

Still, I pray because of the hope I hold onto. 2 Peter 1:12-15 says “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things – even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.” Dad taught us about this hope. This hope gave him the peace that he lived up until his final breath. This hope is what carried me through this last year and it’s the hope that will continue to carry me through now.

When Dad’s battle with cancer was over, even has he spent his last days lying on the couch on painkillers, no longer was my hope for God to keep him here (although I was clear that a miracle was selfishly preferred). My hope was and is now in joining him in heaven someday.

Dad taught me there is no fear in death. There is no fear because we know what awaits us. I long for eternity now even more.

For us, there are only memories and so many unanswered questions. But there is also hope. And it’s more than just a hope. It’s a promise in the Bible. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not be separated from God for eternity, but have eternal life.” Because Jesus took the payment for our sins on Calvary, I can share eternity in heaven with Dad. Today, there really isn’t much that is more important to me than the thought of sharing eternity with my dad. Reality is, that when we get to heaven, we will be so in awe of our God that we’ll worship Him together. Just like we did here on earth but better. Everything will be better there.

While it is a comfort to know there is the hope of heaven, I shared with Dad that it is us that are left here on earth for which my heart aches. He responded with “You’ll blink and this life will be over. Time on earth here will pass quickly. Really, it will.” I believe he took this from 2 Peter 3:8 which says “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.”

Dad is not missing us. He can see ever so clearly now. He’s no longer in pain. He’s experiencing what God’s original intention was for us. Still, we’re missing him. We miss him because we have yet to experience fully what God intended.

So, to honor him, we will continue to celebrate his life. We will continue to live ours to the full. And we will look to the hope for that day that is promised to us in the Bible when all of us who have received Jesus’ payment for our sins can be together forever with no goodbyes – no pain – no cancer and no tears – forever. My heart is already there.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Thank you

Thank you to each of you for your outpouring of love and prayers. The prayers were obvious yesterday as a problem was worked out just minutes before the funeral service began. Prayers were also known as I was able to complete what my responsibility was (I did a lot of the talking) for the service without breaking down in tears (it was almost instantly after the service was over that the sobbing began). The weather was great and Dad's life was celebrated. I believe he would have been happy with the way everything went. The only part he would have been disappointed in was that he wasn't there with us. So, again, thank you.

Today begins life without this man that I love so much. It will be different but we know God will carry us through. Please continue to pray for my mom. I told Rod last night that I cannot imagine what it must be like to share life with someone every day and then all of a sudden you're alone. My heart hurts for her and we'll try to consume her life as much as possible with her grandkids. She's already back to serving and caring tomorrow as she takes her Aunt who broke her hip to a doctor's appointment. This is just the woman my mom is - that's one reason why Dad loved her so much.