Like trying to herd cats...

Many miscellaneous meanderings of a musing mother...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

And time passes....

I've been stuck.

Stuck in the sense that I don't know what to say about my Grandpa passing. How do you sum up that kind of thing? The profound and the mundane have wacked into each other and I don't know what belongs where anymore.

Life continues, even if I'm not ready yet. Grandpa passed on a Tuesday. On Thursday I volunteered at my daughter's end of year party at school. All that chaos and laughing and fun, and then I would remember that two days ago my Grandpa passed. How frustrating and yet comforting that time stops for no one. Hours pass. Days pass.

It's been three weeks. And yet it seems a lifetime ago.

And so here I am. Stuck. Not exactly knowing what to do with my experience - so many people don't want to hear the sad stuff. Sometimes I would start to talk about what it was like, witnessing the death of my Grandpa, and would be met with - "Oh stop. You'll make me cry." or I'd shut down, feel like I overshared, or that it was too deep to respond to a "so, how are you doing?" kind of question. Much easier to answer with the typical "oh - we're doing ok. At least he didn't suffer long. The outcome wasn't what I would have wanted, but given that we were going to travel that road, I'm glad it wasn't a long road." All true, but just scratches the surface. Finding the space and time to sit in the grief and ugliness of death has been tough. Such an intimate and overwhelming place to be.

So here I sit. Stuck. Wanting to move forward, and yet not knowing what to do with Grandpa. The funeral isn't even until the 25th of this month - there's quite the wait at Arlington Cemetary.

I will write about Grandpa. I will create space for closure.

Just not today.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Update on Grandpa...

I spent Saturday from 11:00am until 9:45pm at the hospital with my Grandpa. He is deteriorating - we were hoping that he would pull out of this, but it doesn't seem that it's going to work out that way - he is in kidney failure and is not responsive as of yesterday. We are in the process of transferring him to hospice care at my parents place, if he makes it there. I don't believe he will last more than 48 hours - unless God chooses to intervene otherwise. I have spent the majority of the weekend at the hospital and am getting ready to go back as soon as I finish this post.

This is a hard post to write because I really don't have a lot of words. I have noticed that with every hospice situation (Grandma V, Grandpa S, and MIL), I have turned inward like this. Funny that I have been through this enough to notice a pattern in my behavior. It is hard watching someone die - it's lengthy and short at the same time. There's this waiting and hurrying - hurrying to get to their bedside, and then... waiting. It's odd to catch myself in everyday things, to laugh, or buy groceries, and then be suddenly transported to the thin line between life and death. Very odd balance to keep. From the mundane to the profound and then back again.

Went to youth group last night and it was odd to be welcoming the new youth intern, talking about prejudice (the topic for the night), eating cake and trying to hold light conversation with people, all the while freezing every time the phone rang, or suddenly tears would well up for no reason. I am sure I seemed a basket case and perhaps should not have gone. It's the balance between wanting the world to stop until this is settled and having to keep committments.

On Saturday, I got to tell him I loved him many times, and in between the labored breaths, he mouthed back that he loved me too. His blue eyes were glazed over and very "old" - and they seemed so beautiful to me. Katie got on the bed and read him a story and he reached out to hold her hand. When he saw Jeff, he turned his head ever so slightly, eyes widened and mouthed, "hey, man" - just like he always did when he greeted Jeff. He breathed out a "God bless you" to my mom. Sometimes, he would just open his eyes and seem to look at something that I couldn't see - I always wonder what is going on inside the shell that we see. I wonder if he sees his parents, his wife. I wonder if he is remembering the stories of his youth. I wonder if Christ Himself is visiting. I wouldn't put it past Him. These are such very sacred moments.

I am off to sit in those moments. Will keep you posted...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Prayers Please!

My nearly 90 year old grandpa broke his hip almost three weeks ago. He had surgery to replace his hip and was sent a week ago to a nursing home for rehab before going back to live with my parents.

He has stopped eating and drinking and this evening they took him back to the ER at the hospital and we are not sure if he will pull out of it. Hopefully, once they IV some fluids and nutrients into his system, he will gain some energy and bounce back, but we are not sure. He is on oxygen right now and has lost about 10 pounds in the last week.

My dad sounded almost panicked tonight - he doesn't usually sound anything but in control, so that was unnerving. His mom (my favorite Grandma) died almost 8 years ago, and Pop-Pop is now the last grandparent living.

Please pray that God's will be done and that whatever happens, happens smoothly. I want him to pull out of this AND I understand he is almost 90 years old and is very weak. I want my daughter to see him one more time - his face lights up when he sees her and he loves to have her read to him. I want her to see him excited to see her one more time. I want her to connect with him one more time. I don't want her last time to see him in the emergency room with tubes and the like.

I don't want to see my dad cry. I don't know that I am ready to be with that and to comfort him - i don't know if I know how. I don't want this.

I don't know what my grandpa's relationship with God is like. For the most part, he has turned infantile in his thinking. He spends most of his time coloring fuzzy posters and doing 50-piece puzzles and easy crosswords. It's always been hard to have a coherent conversation with him - mostly we were ears for him to talk to. I don't know where he stands spiritually. I know God does, and I am resting in the knowledge that my God is able to visit and relate and comfort my young-minded grandpa.

Please pray for us.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The company I keep (though longing to get rid of!)...

Ok. Enough is enough and I am freaking out. Just killed a spider. Now, normally (as if there is such a thing in cat-herder land...) spiders are not a huge issue - sometimes I even let them crawl on a piece of paper and then fling them back into the natural world from whence they came. But today.

Today. Is. Different.

Allow me to list the company I am keeping.

Recently found evidence that a distant, suburbian relative of Mickey is camping out in our snack drawer while I am in peaceful sleep. Found a fruit roll-up with a hole in the package and a couple of bite marks - thought it was strange that Katie would sample and put back. Then noticed a baggie of pistachio nuts had a suspicious hole in it and a lone nut randomly left in the haste of retreat. Hmmmm..... DH emptied said drawer and left traps (which remain emtpy). That part of the house is now dead to me. Which is unfortunate because it is where I keep my food. (stomach growling).

Killed TWO wasps in the house - am thinking there is a nest somewhere.

This morning, walked outside to find swarming termites on the front step. I think there is actually a village being established - pretty sure I saw some mini election signs and a traffic light. Captured some in a plastic bag and called Terminix.

Now a spider? PLEASE. I am starting to feel like I have walked into the nature channel. I have walls. And windows. And a door! for goodness sakes. All these should indicate a level of boundaries. Boundaries that should not be breached by wild animals.

And yet, I am sharing space with animals without names. Ugh.

Makes me want to go shopping. And I am itchy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Dealing with my book addiction...

I read this post of Clemntine's (What's Up, Buttercup?) this morning, and boy has it set my head a-thinkin. Such an important message for me - I will post this and then go sit on my couch and spend some time with God in His word.

This was the response I left to her post:
Oh my. Did you ever just speak to me through that. I have the tendency to do the same thing. How could I be able to apply scripture and understand it, when there are really smart people out there who have been schooled in theology and biblical history and culture - who am I to think I could interpret the bible with the same kind of wisdom of these people? I am not in their league (I can't even remember to change the laundry or where my grocery list is!) - so I buy or borrow their books and try to absorb God's word through their word. And if that is my only diet, no wonder it feels watered down, no wonder my faith feels weak.
My eyes have been opened (again!) - this is not the first time I've been made aware of this tendency of mine. And then I wonder at the freshness of scripture when I read it by itself, no commentaries or books. How it speaks to me - so personally. God is so good not to give up on us, even when I choose to give up on Him.
I will still continue to read those books of mine - they are wise and annointed writers. However, I will choose to read their words only AFTER I have spent time with God in HIS word.

Off to do my bible study and then dive into some Psalms...

This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Eavesdropping at the mall...

Overheard this gem of lovingkindness between a young man with a walking stick and his boy who was around 5-6 years old:

"Now remember: if I can't hit you with my cane, you're too far away"

Good times.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Questions and thinking and jumping and trusting...

Do you trust me?
Then jump!

As I stood in the (bewilderingly cold) pool, my Katie was on the ledge, so badly wanting to jump to me but so terribly scared to make the leap.

Would you come closer?

No, I did that the jump before. You can do this.

(*pause*) - I'm still in the shivering cold water - she is in the warm, hot sun...

Do you trust me?


Then jump! (...*pause*...)

But I'm afraid.

Do you think I would let you get hurt?


Do you know that I love you?


Do you know that I am paying attention?


Then, jump!

(*pause*) - I have almost forgotten my name, the water is so cold. And yet I wait with outstretched arms at the ready for her courage to kick in... She starts to jump, bends her knees, and then just as quickly, the fear kicks in and we are back to square one...

And as I am shivering in the pool, I am hearing the quiet whispers of my Encourager. This coversation sounds extremely familiar to the ones I have with Him.

I want you to do ___.

But I am afraid.

Do you know that I know the outcome?


Do you know that I love you?

Yes... I think.

Then jump!

But what if I find I can't swim in this water? What if I sink?

Do you know that you don't have to - that I will catch you if you find you can't swim?

Yes... I think.

Do you think I would neglect you and let you get hurt?


Do you know that I am paying attention?


Then jump!

The next time God asks me to jump, I hope I remember how absolutely sure I was that Katie would not get hurt, that there was no way I would allow her to get in any kind of trouble. I just wanted her to stretch a bit, to flex her trust muscles, to trust me, to trust herself, to face her fear and move past it. I had the utmost confidence in her ability - for pete's sake, she had just jumped from the ledge moments before! I knew the outcome would be success, I knew she had the skills. She just had to see that in herself.

That must be how God feels about me. Totally knowing the outcome, knowing my ability matches the challenge - just needing me to trust Him.

Do you trust Him?

Then jump!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


In honor of all who have mothered, are mothering, and who have been mothered, I quote Stasi Eldredge in her book-let, You Are Captivating:

"I briefly want to speak to all women here - not just mothers in the traditional sense of the word. As powerful as the role of mother is, the word mother is much more powerful when used as a verb instead of a noun. Now, not all women are mothers, but as image bearers of God, all women are uniquely called to mother.

As daughters of Eve, all women are gifted to help others in our lives become more of who they truely are - to encourage, nurture, and mother them toward their true selves. In doing this, women partner with Christ in the vital mission of bringing forth life. And all women are life-givers.

The impact on a life that has been seen and called out is dramatic and eternal. The nurturing of life is a high and holy calling and as a woman, it is yours. Yes, it has many shapes and myriad faces. Yes, men are called to this as well. But this calling makes up part of the very fiber of a woman's soul.

You can mother other people's children. In truth, our world needs you to. My friend Lori's house was the center of activity while her girls were still in school. Their friends loved to hang out at her house. She offered them life. She counseled them. She encouraged them. She mothered them with love and strength. She also baked them fabulous treats. She has played and continues to play a major role in many young women's lives, impacting them for good; calling them forth to become who they are meant to be.

We mother each other when we offer our concern, our care, our comfort. We mother each other when we see a need and rise to meet it, whether the need is a sweater for a friend who is chilly, a meal to a struggling family, or a listening ear to a friend who is hurting.

All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things: to books, to churches, or to ministries. To ideas, to creative expressions, to movements. We birth life in others by inviting them into deeper realms of healing, to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child. The heart and life of a woman is much more vast than that. All women are made in the image of God in that we bring forth life. When we offer our tender and strong feminine hearts to the world and to those we love, we cannot help but mother them."

Happy Mother's Day to all women. May we continue to rise up and answer the call to bring God's healing to this world. Enjoy the day!


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

random thoughts....

Good morning!

I've been tossing around some random thoughts in my brain for the past couple of days (I'm actually amazed, and slightly embarassed, frankly, at the spacious area in which the tossing took place! Hmmm....)

Anywho. Where was I?

Right. Random thoughts. Here we go...

1. I'm pretty much convinced that my heavenly job, for the rest of days, will include changing toilet paper rolls. I will walk through heaven's pearly gates, fall on my face in worship of the Great I AM and hug the neck of my precious Jesus. I am then assuming the next thing I will do is go to the washroom (I wonder how long the trip to heaven will have been? You might as well try - you don't know when you'll get another chance to go...) Anyway. I am assuming that I will walk into the heavenly stalls... and have to change the toilet paper roll. Why, you ask? Because no matter where I go, including but not limited to exotic tropical islands and random public bathrooms, I ALWAYS encounter the empty roll. Not only do I encounter the empty roll, I also encounter the full one.
the empty one.

Why? Why? Whyyyyyyyyy? Why the hate? Where's the justice??

I mean, really. How hard can it be?? You are already just sitting - you don't have anything extremely urgent and difficult to do (ok, unless you happened to partake of my husband's chili, and that's just another post altogether...) How difficult to take the old one off the holder, and put the new one on? I had just raged discussed this with a friend of mine before going on a road trip over the weekend. Sure enough, stopping at a Rite Aid in Elmer, NJ (I know - where's Elmer, NJ??), I acquire the 2 ft. long "this is meant to embarass you" keyholder from the pharmacist to unlock the washroom and step inside to face....the empty roll. And the full one.
the empty one.
This is how I know I'll be changing tp rolls for the rest of eternity.

2. My husband and I make and sell soap and other lovely assundries as a side business. In the shower this morning, I noticed that we have no less than 13 assorted bars of soap in our little shower stall, 15 if you're counting the loofahs.

Having just re-read that, I am now weirded out. Hold on.....


... Ok, I'm back. Had to add another bar of soap. I mean, how disturbing to have an odd number of soaps. Weird. I mean, that would make me a freak.

Or something.

3. I love Tulip Poplar trees. They defiantly bloom these beautiful flowers that look like they should have grown on a stalk. Kind of like they are rebelling against the tree code and florists all at the same time. Those rebels. And they're all over my back yard.

4. I went to the store yesterday to buy some strappy tanks. Because I brutally burned my chest and arms by sitting outside for .... oh, I don't know.... 3 hours. That's insane. I remember back in the day when I would coat myself in baby oil and lay out. all. day. and not get burned. Maybe whatshisname Al Gore is right. Anyway. Off I go to Kohls to find shirts that will not peel the nerves right off of my skin. Guess what lovlieness I discovered?? I am finally back down to a size large t-shirt. In a strappy tank. Does it not get any better?? I celebrated by buying two of them. And then I got all full of myself and went to try on bathing suits. And then I realized I had done a very bad thing to my newly minted self-confidence and went back the strappy tanks. One day at a time, girlfriend. One day at a time.

5. I am becoming addicted to this blog thing. I LOVE reading about other women's lives, how they parent, how they love the Lord, what new things they are learning. And I realized that, as I read of other's healing and growing, I gather bits of healing and wisdom for myself.
That being said, it is now 12:45 and I now have little time to do the things that should be getting done while I'm blogging. Off to the world of responsibility, dishes, laundry, groceries and ..... strappy tanks!

Have a lovely day, ya'll!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Mother's Day Giveaway!

Wow - I might have a chance to enter the new technological age.
I might be the only one left who still relies on CD's (at least I'm not still with the 8-tracks!) 5 Minutes for Moms is having a Mother's Day giveaway - check it out and see if you can beat me out of the ipod they're giving away.... :0)


Friday, April 27, 2007

This is where the miscellaneous part comes in...

Ok, so my daughter calls me out on the back deck last night from the backyard where she was playing. "I have a surprise for you!" She walks away from the stairs and heads toward the middle of the yard and says "It will only work here." She holds out from behind her back a FULL bunch of freshly picked dandelion puff balls. "I got these for you to make all kinds of wishes!" she says, all proud-like, and then proceeded to blow all those weed-bearing seeds from the puff ball over the empty patch of non-grass that the dog's pee has created. As she's doing this, she's asking me to make wishes.

Decision point: stop the weed propagation madness, or jump in along with her. Decision made.

"I wish for healthy growth!" I tell her. "Good," she says. "Another wish"
And on we went. "I wish to see you get married" "I wish for you to be happy" and then finally, "I wish for you to get inside and wash up for dinner."

Grow, dandelions, grow. I dare you.

Upstairs, I am folding laundry. As I fold a pair of my shorts, Katie asks me if those are Jeff's (DH). "Nope, their mine."
"Oh. 'Cuz their really big"


Life is glamourous, yesindeed.

I spoke to a dear childhood friend this morning, who happens to be Jewish. She is telling me about a family situation and then tells me she had to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with this person.

That struck me as the funniest thing - that, and she always gets her Christmas cards out before I do!
Come to Jesus - oh, that I pray she would!

I love the smell of hyacinth. I planted them in my front garden (which has grown, in spite of my "care"...), and I plucked one the other morning after walking Katie to the bus stop. It's in a vase portable enough to carry with me throughout the house. Love. It.
Thought I'd throw in some information you may not have known about the lovely hyacinth:
*Hyacinths are sometimes associated with rebirth. Coincidence that they bloom around Easter? I think not.
*The prophet Mohammad is reported to have said “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul.” Well, said, well said.

Perhaps this blog is not so miscellaneous after all.

...ok. It probably is.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thirteen Things about YOUR NAME

1…. It's Jennifer
2. Middle name is your basic Lee, not Leigh, or anything else remotely feminine. Thanks, mom and dad.
3. I think one time I read that Jennifer meant "white wave." Hmmm... yeah, I got nothing on that one.
4. I think Jennifer actually means "loves ice cream and walks along the beach"
5. The Alpha and Omega knew my name before I was born, even before this apparently highly popular name was invented.
6. It is of Welsh origin, and its meaning is "fair one" - meaning, I don't cheat in Monopoly.
7. Some call me Jen
8. I can generally tell someone who has known me since childhood, or is friends with my parents, by which name they call me.
9. That would be "Jenny"
10. I once had the nickname "Pokey"
11. I tend to have a dysfunctional relationship with the clock.
12. My name in high school Spanish class was "Juanita" (pronounced by my teacher as waaaaaah-knee-ta). Would rather have gone with plain, masculinely-spelled Lee, thankyouverymuch.
13. Apparently, it seems as if Jennifer took an exreme nose-dive in popularity between 2004 and 2005 in BC Canada. What gives??

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Selfish grief?

Ok, so here I sit, drenched in news coverage about VTech - I am dismayed, shocked, almost numb to reality that one person, so delusional and angry to the extreme, has the ability to dole out such huge portions of grief and fear. The news media is encircling Blacksburg, VA. There were four different candlelight vigils held in four different locations in the DC Metro area, all with news coverage. It is front cover material for People Magazine, breaking news on every channel, headlined on every area newspaper.

And rightly so.

This is tragic. 33 lives violently taken for no reason (and yes, I included the gunman on purpose. The darkness and pain that must have surrounded and invaded him is shameful and inconceivable. He was still a member of God's creation. I am angry on his behalf for the spiritual havoc that was waged on him. I feel for his family. They have lost, too). Unexpected. Hugely unfair. So much pain. So much fear. Unbelievable. Wrong on so many levels.

And yet...

Written in smaller print on an online news web page is information about four bomb attacks that occurred in Baghdad today - 183 killed so far. 183. In one day. That is horrific. 183 names. 183 stories. 183 birthdays that will not be celebrated. 183 smiles that will not be seen again, save photos and memories. And yet, after reading that information, I am not as moved, as shocked, as numb and horrified about this tragedy as I am about the one at Virginia Tech.

Are we ...ok. Am I numb to the constant strife in that land...that I cease to mourn for the lives so violently taken there? Why do the 33 Virginia Tech students and faculty hold all the intensity of grief, and these 183 ... 183 ..people get a mere passing glance by me? They are all innocent victims (except the perpetrators). A mother with her small children, attending to some errand in the city, instantly sabotaged. Terrified. Loss and fear. A father with his son. Suddenly thrown into a war zone not of their making.

Why are we not as moved by their stories? Why did I not see their stories on headlines and news magazines? Obviously, Virginia Tech is local, and Baghdad is not. However...

However... Dear Lord ~ please keep my heart from hardening to the chaos and calamity that surround areas outside of my comfort zone and stomping grounds. May my heart grieve violence against any of your children. The woman with her small children? You know their names. You knew their hopes and dreams. You knew what they had for breakfast. You knew the details of a conversation held between a father and son moments before their world was shattered. Your heart broke for them, too. You hold their tears in the same hands that hold ours here in Virginia. Please don't let me think that my tears are more deserving or significant than theirs. Open my eyes. Widen my heart's horizons to include those I cannot see, those I do not know by name. Please don't let me grow numb to another's suffering.

God, please let my heart beat to Your rhythm, let my eyes see as You see. God, would You please show me the path of compassion and softness. Help me to trust in Your sovereignty, Your justice, Your Truth.

I lift those of Your children who are suffering and struggling under the weight of grief and loss up to You. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. It takes someone who has experienced that depth of grief to be able to know how to comfort someone else in mourning. Who better to know than You? God, we cling to the promise that you will bring beauty from the ashes, and joy from broken hearts. Come, Lord Jesus, and heal our land. And specifically, please heal me, too. I am in need of Your touch. Amen.

Isaiah 61:2-3
The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts.

What does herding cats have to do with the price of tea in Virginia?

Um, ok. Trying to herd cats - what kind of blog name is that?? Frankly, (and I just love using that word...), it describes what trying to keep all the juggling balls in the air while keeping my legs shaved and vegetables in the fridge feels like. Incidentally, I saw a circus act the other day that actually involved the common housecat. Didn't know something like that was allowed in the circus. Lions? Yes. Elephants? Of course. Clowns? Obviously, it is a circus after all. Cats? Notsomuch. But train them they did, and let me tell you - the cats were non to plussed. At. All.

Anyway. Back to herding cats. I think that there is so much pulling at moms nowadays that it can seem like trying to keep all of our responsibilities, obligations, hobbies (what are those anyway?) in balance sometimes has the same success rate you would imagine herding cats to have. My hope is that, by building friendships rooted in our human-ness (put your super-mom capes away, ladies), we can somehow let each other off the hook of trying to be all, do all, achieve all - all while keeping our legs shaved and veggies in the fridge...

You ready? I am.