Strong Truth in a World of Cheap Answers

Childless by Choice

You see this phrase more and more these days.  There are websites called “childfree by choice”, or “Childless and loving it”.  The reasons are varied.  Some think the world is already over-populated and don’t want to add to it.  Some people don’t want their lives disrupted.  There are many other reasons I won’t go into.  I have been thinking about this lately.  My husband and I are childless.  The phrase itself denotes a life that is less than complete.  Child-less.  I can see why people who don’t have children for reasons other than most might find societal pressures frustrating.   This is no more evident than in the Church.  Couples that don’t have children, though they are accepted into the fold, are somehow set aside as different.  This would also include adult singles, to a degree.  Let me say at the outset, we have never been treated differently at our church because of our lack of children.  But this hasn’t always been the case.

Why am I bringing this up now?  With my mother’s death, you begin to think about your own mortality.  I have no children to look after me when I am old and sick.  I won’t have someone to look after my affairs when I become infirm.  Not a reason to have children on its own, but makes you think.    So I began to look at the our choices in this area a little more closely.  My husband and I never made a conscious decision NOT to have children.  It was something we discussed at length several times, but could never decide when the time was right.  I also don’t think we are able to have children, but that is for another discussion.  But that aside, now its more than likely too late.

I will state plainly that I never yearned for children like some women.  I didn’t even play with baby dolls as a kid.  I liked Barbie and Hot Wheels.  I enjoyed playing war with my male cousins and “Dallas” and “Dukes of Hazzard” with my female cousins.  I wasn’t what you call, maternal.  My mom always said that I had it in me, the way I took care of her foundling kitten and other animals.  But even she agreed, it wasn’t in my DNA.

So as I drove to work this morning, I was listening to Moody Radio and there was a lady on there talking and she sounded just like me.  The difference was, she had children, and was still not acting very maternal.  She said God changed her desires when she started acting more like a mother.  It made me think, if I had acted more maternal growing up, would I have wanted children more?  Would I have tried when my husband and I were younger and probably more able to conceive?   But then I thought, what if I had children and I realized it was a mistake?  You can’t take a child back to the pet store.  Its a life time commitment.  When I was younger, I know it was selfishness, but when I grew older, there were other concerns.  Genetic disease is a real factor in my family, societal concerns, etc.    God knows best and I feel now that if I had been meant to be a mother, God would have made that happen.  Who knows, he still could.  Look at Abraham and Sarah.  Yikes!
Wow, what a thought.  Please God, don’t give me a child when I’m 100!

But something to think about.  Don’t pre-judge someone who doesn’t have children or is single.  Don’t assume they are driven career people who just didn’t want the hassle.  Don’t assume things about anyone.
One more thing.  Don’t assume its ok to ask people about it either.  Sometimes people are happy tell you.  But sometimes, its a sore subject.

Food for thought.

Christian Life

Twitter, Short Attention Spans and Grieving.

I am standing up and saying for all to see, yes, I have a twitter account.  I am contributing to the glut of information we are already exposed to and the short sound byte’s of information that come through in an almost constant stream to the world.  People tweet about everything from important news events of the day to what color their child’s poo was that morning.  Sorry, I know that was nasty.  But it just shows you the craziness of our information age.    At least Facebook, though just as trivial, does have the ability to see a fuller picture of something.  Twitter is somehow an abbreviation of the already abbreviated way we communicate.    I find it difficult to sit through an actual 2 hour movie without messing with my IPAD or flipping to another channel during the commercials.  Was I always this way, or has the constant stream of information, tweets, texts, posts and blogs made me somehow ADHD?  To completely honest, I find it difficult to sit through a 1 hour tv show without doing the same.

I tried to think of all this in relation to my grieving process.  Grieving is a long, messy, drawn out process that takes years to totally work through.  Even at that you sometimes never truly get through it.  I know people, friends and family, that have grief come back on them decades after a loss.  So how does this fit in our twitter culture?  In many respects, it doesn’t.  People expect you to be over things quickly.  They expect that friend with the sunny personality or the quick wit to be there all the time for you and not be depressed or sick with grief.  What people don’t realize is that grieving isn’t a one-size-fits all situation.  Some people will move past things relatively quickly, while it takes far longer for others.

I am dealing with some of that right now.  I am on edge a great deal of the time and find myself physically and mentally exhausted more often than I ever remember.  I put it off to job stress, financial woes and a million other things that it could be.  But, to be perfectly honest, I think it stems back to grief.

Do I function day to day?  Yes.  Am I weeping in the corner every night?  No.   But grief is a subtle thing.  You put your trust and faith in God, and wade through the deep waters.  There are days you feel like your legs are mired in quicksand and you can’t move another inch.  You push and push until there is nothing left and then you push some more.  You mechanically move from task to task, appointment to appointment and make it through your day.

To Christians out there who think that people who grieve this nakedly are not relying on God enough for their strength, I have something to tell you.   This IS with me relying on God for all my strength.   I would be a frightening person otherwise.


Joy in Adversity-or not

Caution:  Christian content ahead.  If you would rather not read, I’m sure there is a re-run of Law and Order playing somewhere.  Flip to TNT and I will join you in a bit.

The Bible says in Romans 5:3  that we are take joy in our suffering, as it leads to perseverance.  We have been discussing this in Sunday School as well.  Grieving allows us to help others, it draws us closer to God.

Let me preface by saying I agree with all of this.  But when adversity starts to pile on top of adversity, you kind of get a little prickly.

I found out this week that my great Aunt, the lady that we all thought would live forever, may have cancer.  Though I haven’t talked to the doctor yet, he blithely said to her that he would not do surgery on her due to her age.  O.K, I agree with this too.  If it would make her last few days, months or years on earth less enjoyable or make her quality of life less, I agree with this.  But that isn’t what I am talking about today.

Joy in adversity is something that I have found to be totally misunderstood by the general public and non-Christians.  I had someone tell me once that, “Don’t you Christians look for ways to suffer so your God will approve of you more?  Aren’t you supposed to smile all the time when bad stuff happens to you?”  Uh.  No.

Christians aren’t masochists.  We don’t flog ourselves each night to more approved of Christ.  (Well I don’t anyway.)

God knows we need time to grieve.  He knows we don’t want to lose our loved ones to terminal illness or even to old age.  He knows we have a limit.  That’s why we are supposed to lean on Him ALL THE TIME, so that when these things happen, it isn’t foreign to us to do it.

I agree that I am a little depressed today.  Another death or illness so quickly will be very difficult for me to go through, even with Christ’s help.    But to know real Joy in your life, you are supposed to rely on God for all things, so we can be ready for the good and the bad.

That doesn’t mean I won’t take to my bed, watch hours of Law and Order and Bones and eat a pizza, peeps (hey its Easter) and anything else I can find until I feel like facing the world.   God gets me, after all.  That’s why he’s God.


Happy Easter, for real

Easter means many thing to people.  For some its an excuse to gorge on chocolate a peeps (a personal favorite).  For some its a time for family, fun and watching the Ten Commandments on TV.  (This was mostly what my childhood was like, mind you.)

But something happened to me a couple of years ago when I went to Wal-mart the day before Easter.  I needed some ingredients for a supper I was making for my Mom and Dad.  I had no idea that this would be the last Easter I would spend with my Mom.  But that’s another story.  As I walked into the super store, people were running around crazily, buying baskets, ribbons, and chocolate.  Stuffed bunnies were stacked along with stuffed chicks in carts and people were nearly running each other over to get the now discounted items before the big day.

Normally I would ignore all this chaos and just go get my spices and get out of there.  But a feeling overwhelmed me and I nearly broke into tears in the middle of the aisle.  These people don’t get it.  They really, really don’t get it.  Now, don’t me wrong, there could have been Christians in there getting bunnies and baskets and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that aspect of Easter.   But I didn’t get the impression as they hoarded their peeps that they cared very little about the empty tomb, the cost and sacrifice that was given to allow them the chance to get more from life than a box of sugar covered marshmallows.

The point to all this isn’t that people don’t really get it.  You already knew that.  The point was that it bothered me.  It really, really bothered me.  So either I have grown up and suddenly loved mankind more or God has finally penetrated the crunchy candy exterior around my heart.  I am thinking the latter, because frankly, as I get older I dislike people more under my own power.  But with God’s influence, I love them more.  Freaky huh?

So, I got my stuff, and drove home to my husband who was mystified at my tears streaming down my face as I carried in my little plastic sack from “The Walmarts”.

I told him what happened and he smiled at me.  I told him it wasn’t funny, but he said he didn’t think it was funny, he just thought it was something he would never see from me.  Back story, as a group, people annoy me.  I yell when I drive.  I call people names on the TV that are stupid.  I have a real problem loving thy neighbor.  So, yes, this was miraculous.

So as you eat your peeps (still ok with them by the way), watch Ten Commandments, and watch your kids color Easter eggs, please remember that a divine being decided that all us annoying people, those that yell at people when they drive, fight over discount chocolate at “the walmarts” and watch too much reality TV, are worth saving and loving.  This particular divine being became a person like us, that more than likely felt like yelling at stupid people (since he was divine that meant everyone), smacking his disciples around and saying FIGURE IT OUT, but acted perfectly and lived a sinless life.  Then, get this, he LET the Jews and the Romans, beat him up, strip him naked, drag him through the street and nail him to a cross so we would have the chance to not be stupid people in God’s eyes.  He, on purpose mind you, because he could have stopped all this at any time, died and  went into the tomb for three days.  I hate going into funeral homes, let alone going into a grave, on purpose.

He did it for us.  For the woman that yells at her kids at the walmarts, for everyone.

That is what Easter is all about Charlie Brown.

Christian Life

Memory Lane-Good, Bad and Ugly

Last evening a good friend of mine from high school was here visiting his sick mother, so a few of us got together.  Some of these folks I haven’t seen in over 20 years.  Times like this are great while they are happening and its fun to reminisce about the old days and laugh about times gone by.  But for people like me, who think deeper thoughts than they really should sometimes, events like this bring up all sorts of feelings.

Though I am not what you call “old” by societal standards, you still realize how fast time goes.  Your parents always told you that time goes faster the older you get.  As teens you “poo-pooed” that and just wanted to be 21.  But, as with most things that they told me, they were right.    This morning I started thinking about how different a person I am from then, but then conversely, how little I actually have changed.    In some ways I don’t even remember the person I was in high school.  I was very outgoing, but down deep pretty insecure.  Aren’t most teenagers?  But then I thought, has that really changed?    Yes, I am more secure in myself now than I was then, but aren’t we all just nervous 13 year olds under the skin?

Grown women worry about what their friends will think of them and if they are too fat.  Grown men worry about whether the will be accepted by their peers or succeed.   The playing field may be different but the games we play with ourselves are the same.

My Mom was 65 years old and near the end of her life and she was still playing mind games with herself.  She said she was being punished because of how she took care of her Mother and Father in their failing years.  I thought she was nuts.  My Mom was the example of how to take care of your parents.  She did more for them than anyone else in her family and shaved years off her life doing it.  My Mom had a phobia about going to resturants and sitting alone because of something mean girls did to her in middle school.  She carried this into her late adult life.   Yesterday, as I got ready to go meet my friends, I worried if my thighs looked fat.

So when you chastise your young child or teen to not worry about what everyone else thinks, don’t be too hard on them.  Yes, its a good lesson, but remember before you teach it, “physician-heal thyself!”


MSA Awareness Month

March is MSA awareness month.  For those of you that have followed my blog, you know that my mother died of this disease in 2009.  I will say “probably” died of this, because one of the hallmarks of MSA is that it is so hard to diagnose that some people never really get a full diagnosis.  Mayo clinic said she had it, and I figured they were pretty good authorities.  I have been posting pictures of my Mom, not too long before her death on Facebook.  Doing so, has brought back some unpleasant and not so unpleasant memories of those few years.  I didn’t take any pictures of my Mom as she struggled through her final months, as some people did of their parents.  I am glad I didn’t, actually.  Not to mention, she would have never allowed it anyway!

But the point of all this, aside from wanting to blog about MSA for the awareness month, is that when someone dies of a disease like this, you never really get over it.  Not really.

Memories of what happened day to day and what happened the last days of their lives come back to you at the most odd moments.  Dying isn’t always as picture perfect as it is on tv.  It isn’t a misty water colored memory, as some lead you to believe.  Its pretty brutal stuff.

Truth be told, I didn’t hang around much while my Mom was dying.  My Dad couldn’t stay, he was so upset, so I drove him around, took him to my house, etc.  I sat with her, came in and talked to her, but my husband, my sister and her brothers and sister did most of the sitting.  This isn’t something I’m proud of, to tell you the truth.  I wish I could have been one of those people that sat, holding my Mom’s hand, telling her it would be ok.  Well, it wasn’t ok.  She knew it and so did I.  She struggled at the end, cried out a lot, pulled at her legs and wept.  She didn’t want to die.  Was she afraid to die?  No.  But even those most prepared for death aren’t ready to leave their loved ones.  I had a hard time because it was like she was trying to tell me something over and over again.  But her ability to talk had gone and she couldn’t let me know.  I talked to her finally and told her that she was dying.  Nobody had bothered to tell “her.”  They told me, my Dad and anyone else who would listen.  But they didn’t tell her.  So I did.  I asked her if she understood.  She nodded yes.  She was calmer after that, much calmer.  It was time to stop fighting.

But, I still wonder what she wanted to tell me.  Did she want to tell me that she wasn’t dying, to help her?  I knew she couldn’t swallow.  I knew she couldn’t eat or drink.  I knew she wasn’t going to live.  I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital.  She shook her head no.  I asked her if she was afraid to die.  She shook her head no.  My husband said that he thought she wanted to say so much to me as she passed and just couldn’t and it made her crazy with sadness.

I won’t know, this side of eternity, what she wanted to say.  So it will haunt me.  Was she upset I didn’t stay by her side every minute?  Probably.  I wasn’t there when she took her last breath.  She wasn’t alone, but I wasn’t there.  The one person that should have been.  Something else that will haunt me.

I had a dream Saturday evening.  To preface, I have dreams like this often.  They aren’t like dreams where you just “dream” about someone.  They are actual visitations.  I know this doesn’t hold with my beliefs, but it happens.  My Mom has visited me often.  But this time, it wasn’t her.  It way my Grandma.  Grandma has been dead for 8 years.  I asked her why she was here.  She told me straight up that she was sent to tell me to stop worrying about things.  Leave it to my Mom to get exasperated that I wasn’t listening to her, so she sent Grandma.  She was there clear as a bell.  I was walking down the hall of a building and ran into a woman and she turned around and it was Grandma.

I know I’ve blogged about this before, but all this MSA stuff reminded me of it.

Not very poetic.  But what is on my mind.


Spring Time! Spring Time?

I’ve always liked spring time.  Not LOVED it, but I like it.  I can hear the collective gasp from lovers of sunshine and warmth after a long winter.  Let me explain.

When I was a child, I was deathly afraid of thunderstorms.  Let me rephrase that.  I had a pathological fear of thunderstorms.  If it was a lovely spring day and a dark cloud came up, as they are wont to do, I would go into my bedroom, draw the blinds and watch the tv, hugging my map of Indiana that my parents had given me to track the weather advisories.  Don’t worry, they weren’t enabling me, they knew I was a control freak and it helped me to know where the pesky storms were every second of their trek through Indiana.  So, as winter would go away, I knew one thing.  It was time for tornado sirens, storm watches and my eyes glued to Bob McClain the local weather man.  Back in those days, we didn’t have the weather channel and buff Jim Cantore out chasing storms.  We had a guy in a studio in Indiana, with 1980s technology showing us where the storms were going.  “Swoop” McClain was my connection to sanity in those days.

Well to those of you on the edge of your seat, I “did” grow out of my fear of storms.  However, one thing you realize when something scares the living daylights out of you, one has a tendency to learn quite a bit about that thing.  At least, that’s what I did.  Know your enemy-that was my policy.

This has changed quite a bit, since the invention of the internet.  Now you can google anything you want and know far more than any person should ever know about a topic.

I was thinking back before the internet the other day, pondering if I would ever have gotten over my fear of storms, if I would have had 24/7 weather channel and google at my fingertips.  There are so many people now with obsessive tendencies that get their feeling and thoughts ramped up by the almight google.
While I was tracking those storms, I had an encyclopedia at my fingertips as well, to look up symptoms and such.  Born to be a researcher…that’s me!

When I heard on the radio that they were no longer going to be printing Encyclopedia Brittanica, I took a pause.  For my generation, and those just a little older than me, the world has really changed.  Would I have ever thought when I watched Star Trek:  The Next Generation in the 80s and 90s that the “PADD” Picard read from would now be in my possession?  That books were becoming things of the past and all the worlds knowledge (good and bad) was at my fingertips as long as I typed in the right search word?

I don’t know about you, but I kind of miss tracking my storms  on my paper map of Indiana and watching for Swoop McClain’s weather forecast.

It taught me this.  Today’s fear may be tomorrow’s misty nostalgia.


Trauma: The plight of the adult orphan

I think I have written about this before, but I can’t recall, so here goes.  When you go to google and type in the word “orphan”, you get a long list of websites dealing with this topic.  99% of these websites deal with young children and their plight at being orphaned.  Now, I don’t despel that this is a horrible thing.  One of my major fears as a child was that my parents wouldn’t come home one day and I would be on my own.

As I grew up, stories of how close I came to losing my Mother were told to me with staggering regularity.  My Mother, as readers of this blog my know, fought a battle with Hodgekins Lymphoma in her 20s and early 30s.  My mother was given months to live several times.  She survived to raise me, and passed in 2009 of a disease so far away from Cancer is beggars the imagination.

One of the things I heard over and over again, from very well-meaning people, was “well you had her a lot longer than anyone ever thought you would.”  Really?  Would you go up to a 10 year old, pat her on the head and say, “well at least you had your Mommy 10 years.  What more do you expect in this world?  Suck it up, buttercup.”  Probably not.

But that’s what adult children who lose their parents feel like.  I have read stories of people who have lost their parents, the parent was in their 80s, and despite the advanced age of the parent, the child feels just as alone and lost as that 10 year old child.

Losing one’s parent is the natural order of things.  It’s expected that your parent will go before you do.  But what is lacking among the public, HR departments in employers, and even medical professionals, is that losing a parent is just as traumatic to a 65 year old as it is to a 10 year old.  It’s still your parent, its still the person that was your lifeline to the past, its still the person that connects you to your family.

The effect is even worse for the person who has lost their last parent.  I can say that I am not at that point yet.  I lost my Mother about 4 years ago, but my Father is still living.  My thoughts go to when I will lose him.  I don’t dwell on it, mind you, but when I sit and think about the grieving process, it comes at me full force.

I know there has been scientific research on this, some books published (not very many), but I feel like there is much to this story that hasn’t been told.  I’ve always wondered if I could write a book like that.  Maybe I will.


When to say Yes, when to say no, and when to just shut up

I have been reading “The Best Yes” by Lysa TerKeurst.   She is an author after my own heart.  She likes to communicate in a conversational style, as I do  But what really struck me was the almost revolutionary idea of The Best Yes.   I won’t steal her thunder, but the basic premise is that it is ok to say no and that most women in our world, Christian and otherwise, think you are being unkind by doing so.  This book is published by Moody Publishers, so it is a Christian slant, but even if you aren’t Christian you could get a great deal out of this book.

Here are some take-aways from the book that I found interesting.  She talks a great deal about how non-working mothers find it necessary to make their working counterparts feel less than what they are.  Lysa will be the first to say that most of her reactions to these less than tactful women was her own hang-ups making her feel bad.  But I was ready to drive to wherever these women were, after reading some of it, and give them a piece of my mind.  If you read my blog, you know I have never had children. I saw myself in some of Lysa’s struggles.  I couldn’t understand the parts about the judgmental mothers looking down on her working self or asking her children “Does it make you sad when Mommy goes to work?”  That one made my head want to explode, by the way.  But what I can compare to what she was going through is the idea of the Mother and Non-mother in Christian circles.  I know I have written about this here before, but I think it bears mentioning again.

Judgmental people make, again, my head want to explode.  In Evangelical circles two things are looked down on, sometimes openly, sometimes covertly.  One is a working mother and the other is someone who isn’t a mother at all.  One of the reasons I am not a mother is because I knew I would never have a child raised in daycare or by a babysitter.  So I waited and waited and found myself too old and too sick to have any children.  Lysa says in her book that our choices lead us where we will go.  I have made a slew of bad choices and I can’t blame the judgey lady at the church pot-luck for all of them.  But it did make my life different.  The Bible states that a woman is to be a wife and a mother (in that order).  Christian friends assume you didn’t become a mother because you couldn’t, physically.  But that isn’t the case with me.  I truly never wanted children, and when my heart started to change, it was too late.  My husband and I do not have the means or the patience for adoption, so here we are.

But I digress.  Lysa made some excellent points about saying no that were very freeing to me.  I suggest you read her book.  You can read it via Kindle, or purchase it.

So back to the take-aways, in my own words.

1.  It is ok to say no to even good things, if they aren’t the best things.
2.  Just because you don’t have a house full of children you still have priorities and needs for your  family that need to be met.  So don’t allow people to guilt you into saying yes just because you have no children and you must have “oodles” of time.  (That wasn’t specifically in her book)
3.  People who guilt you into saying yes will eventually find a way to be unhappy with you anyway, so don’t worry about making them unhappy by saying no.
4.  People can take advantage of people pleasers.  Lysa is one and her chapter on this made me roll at times.  Her and I are so similar.  We need to grill out sometime.
5,  God know what is best for you, and when asked will help find what that is.
6.  Saying yes depends a great deal on what season of life you are in.

There are so many more, but I won’t steal you the joy of reading this book.

Let me end this blog by saying that I admire stay-at-home mothers, working mothers, women with no biological children and those with lots of people who have they have made their children.

So what I learned from Lysa’s book was when to say Yes, when to say no, and sometimes when to just shut up.  I don’t want to be one of those people pushing a pleasers buttons either.  Now go over to and get this book. It will be well worth it.


Basket Bingo

Since this in on the internet, persons reading this could be from all over the globe.  Well, in the midwest United States, we have a little thing called Longenberger basket bingo.  For the uninitiated, Longenberger baskets are a high quality basket created by the Longenberger company.  Local organizations have bingos, where the prizes are these highly sought after baskets.  These are usually fundraisers for schools, or not-for-profits in all shapes and sizes.   Last night, my friend, her grandson and I entered the world of competitive basket bingo.Don’t snicker.  These ladies take this stuff seriously!  We sat behind a table of ladies who, when they heard an announcement of the next bingo coming up, sponsored by another organization, reached into their handbags (properly emblazoned by bingo labels or Longenberger symbols) and eagerly wrote down the next date and time.  Some even brought out the blackberry.   Longenberger ladies are high tech too, don’t you know.

Around us sat several people in differing degrees of indoctrination.  Let me preface by saying that the organization sponsoring this was our local universities student association.   To our right was a table of college age young men, who, either there at their girlfriends urging, or by a professors, groaned and yelled out with the best of us when their letter and number was called-or was not.  This made my friends grandson happy, as he was afraid he would be the only boy.  Not so, young man!  Then there were the other table of ladies that had a bingo marker for each color the rainbow and probably had that lucky troll doll in their purse to ask for the right number.  Those of you that watched Rosanne in the 80s will understand that reference.
Floating around, selling raffle tickets and selling snacks were college girls and boys that I knew were thinking to themselves.  “Man, I hope I don’t get this old and boring!”  They’ll learn.  For the lure of the Longenberger will get them someday too.

My friend and I go to one of these at least once a year.  One, there isn’t much to do in our town on a work night, and two, its just fun.   Well this time, to my friend’s delight, she actually won something.  As did I!

It was raining cats and dogs outside, it was close to freezing in temperature, but it was warm and happy inside next to the warmth of a hand made basket.

Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?