Friday, May 13, 2016

Hanging on

The photo above is of a couple of paragraphs from Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup. If you have trouble with clutter or organization, you may find her books helpful. I have. And her website is packed with money-saving ideas.

These paragraphs have been so helpful to me, and I keep returning to them to remind myself that getting rid of things isn't getting rid of my memories of the person who they belonged to. I am very sentimental, and getting rid of anything that belonged to either of my grandmothers is really hard for me, no matter how much I don't need it.

And things that remind me of my kids' childhoods. SO hard to part with. 

We have a rummage sale coming up at church, and being able to donate things is good motivation. And every time I get ready, out of sentiment, to hang onto something that I really don't want, I remind myself of these ideas.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Funerals: The good stuff

We have had a lot of funerals at church in the past eighteen months. We've had three since Easter, with one more coming soon. So many of our dear saints who lived full, active lives into their 80s and 90s have left us, and it has left a hole.

I am in charge of the funeral dinners at church, but I have always gone to the funerals anyway. In our earlier years at Redeemer, I went to most of them because I was taking sons to acolyte and it didn't make sense to drive back home. Over time, as I got to know the people, I just wanted to be there.

At the last couple of funerals, as I looked around the sanctuary and noticed how few congregation members were there, I started thinking about the place of funerals. (This has been part of a much broader musing on relationships within the church, the whole idea of a church family, etc., that will be making appearances here and in my presentation at the Family Retreat this summer, but I digress.)

I've been thinking about why people don't go and why I wish they would.

Funerals are never convenient. Believe me, the pastors and church secretary know this. People are busy and don't want to take time out of a Monday morning or Saturday afternoon to go to a funeral. Moms don't want to bring their kids, or aren't sure they belong. People say that they didn't really know the deceased. Because we fight so hard to avoid thinking about death, we are really uncomfortable with those who are dealing with it up close and personal.

But death is real. Avoiding thinking about it doesn't make it go away, and I think there is a lot of value in pausing to acknowledge it. My job forces me to: Putting together the funeral bulletin. Marking someone as "Removed by Death" in the software. Putting together their obituary for the bulletin. Each of these takes precedent over other more routine tasks, because death comes when it comes, no matter how busy we all are with our lives.

And so do funerals. And you should go, if you can. There are so many good reasons that it's hard to know where to start.

First, if your pastor is doing his job, you're going to get the good stuff at a funeral. The real stuff. The life-giving Gospel. If you come to a funeral at Redeemer, you are going to hear sermons that are among the pastors' best.

You will sing hymns and responses. I admit to a selfish thought here. This will mean that there are more people singing. The acolytes, Pastors, and I sometimes are reminiscent of a very small and thinly-spread choir. But singing hymns together, feeling the tears as you sing "I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES," this is a good thing. And it's a witness to the families who are all too often not church people that this is real, and important, and not just to blue-haired old ladies, but to middle-aged men, and moms, and kids, too.

It means a huge amount to people to have their loss acknowledged. Huge.

It is good for your kids. My tears at the last funeral were brought on by thinking about what an incredible gift acolyting at funerals has been to my sons. They know death is real. Over the last 13 years, they've acolyted for the funerals of the elderly and the young. They've acolyted for those they've barely known and for those they've loved. They've learned to control their emotions while they serve. They have spent extra time with Pastor on the way too and from funerals. They've gotten to know and serve our members in another way. And they've heard all those devil-kicking sermons.

And people have loved having them there. I have received so many words of appreciation for their presence. Being there for each other is an important part of this church family thing. Really. Even for the people who only come to Sunday services. They appreciate the presence of their church family at the time of death. I know this because they tell me.

Death isn't something to hide from our children. How much better that they get used to the idea and practice saying goodbye to the elderly lady that always sat in the back pew, or the man with the hair growing out of his ears, so that grandma's funeral isn't their first? How wonderful it is to hear their young voices joining in the prayers and the singing, because they are part of the church family.

As I said, this is part of some larger thoughts that will be showing up over the next couple of months. I know there was a post shared by some of my friends last week that had to do with funerals that I didn't read because I didn't want to get my thoughts muddled before I had a chance to write this, so I think I'll seek that out now.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Things you never saw being a part of your life

Sometimes life takes us in directions we didn't expect to go. Definitely the most profound and life-changing of those for me was getting married at 20 and having my first child at 21. I wasn't planning on kids. Certainly not at 21. And definitely not many!

And no way was I going to be a stay-at-home mom.

Well, things changed. Four kids. HOMESCHOOLING stay-at-home- mom. And the only changes I would make if I could go back, would be to enjoy it more and not to have been so worried about doing something more. (You know, to really "contribute" to the family. To "use my brains." Et cetera. Ad nauseum.)

So that was good. But that's not what this post is about.

There are some things that you REALLY don't expect to be part of your life. Things you wouldn't choose, but don't have much control over. Sometimes your husband has a heart attack, and survives, but seems to have lost his mind a little bit.


I love these ladies. But the vest? Not so much.
I haven't been on it yet, but that is apparently part of the deal. But so much not part of the plan.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Taking control

The realization came to me slowly over the last couple of months; I've been just letting life happen. I had totally lost control of everything: my house, the way that I was eating, my activity level, but especially the way that I was spending my time.

I was a wreck. Physically mentally and emotionally. I was spending hours each night binge-watching crap TV shows on Netflix, instead of just the occasional cooking show while I worked in the kitchen. As a result I was reading and writing less. I was eating too much of the wrong stuff. Drinking too much wine. Looking around at the chaos in my house and hating it, but not doing anything about it, because I was so busy.

Yeah, I have been busy. Kind of. But not really. I'm tired at night after busy days, but vegging with bad TV isn't the answer. Vegging with bad TV won't bring my husband home from Illinois, my friends back from the ends of the earth, my Wicked back from the grave, or my children back to the nest.

What finally woke me up was the return of an inflammatory eye condition that has damaged the vision in my left eye. I had been feeling my high inflammation level for over a month, and just wasn't taking action. I was in constant pain, so I was inactive, which definitely isn't the answer. I have lived with a certain level of pain for 20 years, but this was at another level. The treatment for this condition is a course of Prednisone. I have been dreading the treatment almost as much as the return of the problem, because the drug really makes me miserable.

I decided that it was time to get back in control. I have gone back to eating well-balanced, veggie-filled meals. I am taking the vitamins and supplements that have helped me so much in the past. I am getting on top of my house, a little at a time, killing two birds with one stone by doing constant physical work during the six-eight hours a day that the medication side effects are the worst. I am listening to my pastors' sermons or to music while I clean instead of so many political podcasts. (Not totally giving them up, but not dwelling on it so much.)

I am reading more. I am writing again. I am doing my genealogy research. I am walking. I feel awake for the first time in a while.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be moving all of my blogs and consolidating them on a WordPress site. I am back to work on the book that several of you have been after me to write, and that I've had bits of written for years. I have plans for my house.

And I'm staying away from the crap TV.