26 February 2013

This is the Saxophone Player

The Farm is a minimum security prison facility where Doug, the saxophone player, is chaplain. NBF takes an outreach team to The Farm every year, bringing a little Christmas program and message for the men. We also bring them home made cookies. 

One highlight of the event for me is when Doug plays his saxophone. I could not attend the outreach this past year, so Hannah recorded his performance for me. He is playing "Oh Come, O Come, Emmanuel." That is one of my favorite Christmas hymns.

The Liebster Award

Thank you for coming here to receive your reward. The image above explains what The Liebster Award is, but for more details, please keep reading!  

Amelia, at My Forest Cathedral, honored me last Fall with the Liebster Award. 

Life events kept me from following through with my end of the deal, until now.

I did a little research on the Liebster. The word liebster is German and means "sweetest, nicest, dearest, kind, beloved,cute, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, endearing, and welcome."

The Liebster is more than just a pat on the back, though. It is a reward with an opportunity to "pay it forward." Each recipient of this award is invited to complete a few simple tasks. 

You see, the point of this award is to help bloggers connect to one another, get to know one another. There is a purpose in this. So, I hope you wil follow these five simple rules.

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. List 7* random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 7 random questions asked by the person who presented the award. 
  3. Pass the award on to 7 people who have under 200 followers. 
  4. Make up your own 7 random questions for them to answer.
  5. No tag backs. That means, you can't pick the person who picked you.
* I have seen everywhere from 3 to 11 as the number of questions, etc. I settled on 7, because Amelia chose 7, and I think 7 is a very good number!

OK. So, those are the simple rules for this lovely reward. I will now begin with #1.

STEP ONE: 7 Random Facts about Caroline, aka The Saxophone Player's Wife:
  1. Snow and rain cheer me up.
  2. I love the sound of the ocean at night.
  3. Some of my best friends are people I've never met.
  4. I think everyone should blog or journal. 
  5. I have saved every card my husband has ever given me.
  6. I love tea parties.
  7. I'm an optimist, and sometimes I think that's a bad thing.

STEP TWO: Questions for Me
(Seven questions from Amelia, with one bonus.)

  1. What is your favorite devotional book?
    "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers
  2. What is your favorite dish to cook for supper?
    I enjoy making anything with a sauce.
  3. What time period would you choose to live in?
    I think...the 1930's.
  4. Do you like to sew or hobby? Garden? Farm?
    Just starting to garden on a very small scale, and I like it quite well. I love to sew.
  5. Have you had any physical challenges that you would like all of us to pray about? Any challenges or requests for prayers? EDIT: Praise reports too! : )
    Well, my post Falling Down answers this question, I think. I have recently had a cold that won't go away, but I generally am enjoying better health than I have in a long time. Getting rid of wheat has helped a lot.
  6. Do you have special frugal tricks?
    Roast a whole chicken. You can get several meals from that one chicken, and then use the bones for broth. If you don't have time to make the broth, put the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer. 
  7. Do you have any sewing patterns that are favorites that you would like to share with us?
    This is a great question, but unfortunately nothing comes to mind. Check out my Pinterest "Sew Good" board for patterns I've saved.
  8. One to grow on: Do you feel guilty when blogging? How do you handle that? An alloted time? Shunning perfection? : )
    Another good question! I do sometimes struggle with feeling like blogging is a waste of time, but I'm starting to see it a little differently lately. These days, I am seeing it more as a mental health treatment. That is actually why I began blogging, but I'll save that story for later.

STEP THREE: My Liebster Award Recipients

STEP FOUR: My 7 Questions for the Award Recipients
Answer these on your blog, in a post like this, where you announce the seven people to whom you are awarding the Liebster.
  1. What is one of your favorite Bible verses---one you find yourself quoting often?
  2. Would you rather climb the highest mountain, or explore the deepest seas?
  3. Name your three favorite places in your home, and tell why they are favorites.
  4. Share one "guilty pleasure." 
  5. What is one of your go-to recipes for a quick and healthy meal?
  6. Name a Biblical person you look forward to meeting (excluding Jesus).
  7. When is it too late to send a Thank You note?
Congratulations to the winners. 
Please, visit their blogs!

22 February 2013

Wearing Heavy Boots

Life has been different lately. 

Seven-and-a-half weeks ago, my mother passed away. Really hard to even say that, much less write it. I hate that this happened. It's actually been rather debilitating. I am, however, finally beginning to accept that she really is gone. 

It's been hard. She and I lived together almost my entire life. And, we were close. We weren't the 'best friends' kind of Mom and Daughter, so we weren't close like that. It was more like she was my hero. As I have passed these weeks since she has been gone, I've realized how often my decisions were all about pleasing her. Will Mother like this? Her satisfaction, her happiness, her contentment, her needs being met---this was a primary focus of my life. 

Now, that she is not here to please, I've been pretty unmotivated. It's been hard. I've done better the past week (obviously, because I am blogging), but it's been a slow process. 

Well, maybe not that slow. I mean, it's not even been two months, you know? Seriously. Should I be expected to recover from that kind of loss in just a few weeks? I don't know. I do keep wondering, though, how she would be handling this---or, what she would say if she was here, watching me. What if Doug had died first, and she was here watching me mourn his loss by wasting away my life doing nothing? I think she would have gotten pretty irritated at me.

So, I am trying to balance these things. I do wish someone could tell me how long it takes to move on. I am kind of legalistic that way. I follow instructions well. But, there don't seem to be rules for this kind of thing. I googled it, and just found a lot of nothing. Basically, it can take forever to recover. Do I have forever?

Doug reminded me of something I said after I found out I had cancer. I talked about how much I wanted to be a faithful steward of the time the Lord had given me, and how much it grieved me to think that if I died in surgery and all I'd have to show for myself was what I had done up until then, that I would have been disappointed in what I would have to offer the Lord when I met Him face to face. It's kind of hard to regain that kind of passion, once you lose it---or lay it down at the alter of self-indulgence.

And, that's what I am beginning to fear, that I am becoming self-indulgent in my grief, and I hate that thought. Self-indulgence is such a sinful thing. 

I do excuse myself a bit, in that caring for my Mother was my occupation for several years, and this past year it was a 24/7 job. So, I have lost more than just my Mother; I have lost a big part of my identity. You know what I mean? I was a caregiver. That became my job description. I woke up everyday with a Mother-centered purpose. I had things I had to do---someone depending on me to do them. Life and death dependence. And, now? Not so much. This is kind of challenging. A lot challenging. 

Yet, I think of her and I remember her life, and I know she would be very displeased with some of my choices these past two months. I mean, seven-and-a-half weeks. She would appreciate my missing her, but then she would say, "Stop crying for me! I'm with Jesus. I'm with my friends. I'm having a great time! And, I have no pain. I don't have to get shots, or take pills. I'm dancing with Jesus, Caroline. I'm OK! You're the one you should be crying for right now. Look at you, wasting those two good legs and that strong mind and that lovely home. Get busy. Make me proud!"

It's so hard to let go. To let go of grief. To let go of her. To let go of that life. I had no idea what her death would mean. When she died, I was just so relieved her suffering was over. This is still the hardest memory, remembering the pain in her face, the fear in her eyes. I still can't bear the thought without so much pain and sadness. I hate how much she suffered. The last month was the very worst. It was so hard to know how hard it was for her---and I didn't even really know. Just how miserable was she? My heart aches from the thought. I just want to comfort her and relieve that pain---

This is the hardest thing. 

I couldn't relieve her suffering. I couldn't do anything for her, to make it better. I tried, but who knows if it really helped? And, I can't stop thinking of all the things I could have done, or maybe, should have done. This is hard. The Lord is good, though. He reminds me each time of all the other times she recovered. She didn't get better, because I did everything right. Her life was never really in my hands; it was always in His. In the end, her death was more merciful than it might have been any other time. I would have preferred it go differently, but is there a better way to die? Is death ever easy? 

So, I am challenged. Very challenged. I need to move on, but these are such heavy boots. The sadness is still so great. Why aren't I rejoicing in her triumph over sickness and eternal death? I seem to prefer feeling sorry for myself, which I disrespect so much. I don't want to be that kind of person. I don't want to be the hostess of my own personal pity party. I want to remember my Mother well. I want to honor her life. I want to celebrate her victory.

I have been reading a book called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer. I began the book a long time ago, but picked it up in earnest after Mother died. It is the story of a boy whose father dies on 9/11. This author seems to understand grief and sadness very well. 
"I didn’t understand why I needed help, because it seemed to me that you should wear heavy boots when your dad dies, and if you aren’t wearing heavy boots, then you need help."
The sun will be down soon. I am trying to do things I couldn't do before, and walking each day is one of them. So, I need to go. 

You know, when the freezing cold wind hits my face, and I keep walking, I know there is a little bit of the best of my Mother in me. I want to build on that.

06 February 2013

Life Goes On

It's never been one my favorite expressions. Always seemed kind of selfish. As if a person was choosing something good, going on with life, instead of the something not-so-good that they were leaving behind them.

In the short time since my Mother passed away, I've started to realize that "life goes on" is just s fact. The world keeps spinning, the grass keeps growing, the sun keeps rising, bodies get hungry, work needs doing, people need attention. Life goes on. I'm not deserting the one who has passed away. I am just doing what I've been given to do. 

So, life goes on. With waves of grief and trust in the sovereignty of our all-mighty God, life goes on.

Life goes on. 

I guess I thought a time would come when I felt a release from the grief, and then life could go on, but I don't think that is going to happen. I think missing her will always be a part of my life, but maybe over time I will just stop expecting her to be here. I'll remember she isn't coming home soon, because she is all ready Home. At peace. At rest. Free. Truly living. 

Her life goes on, too.