June 22, 2016

Short Stories


In all of the years we have been married, I have never helped with the yard.  I'm pretty sure it's partially because I was traumatized as a child by having to pick up smelly, rotten pears in the backyard anytime my dad needed to mow.  The only thing I hated more than picking up gross pears was when I had to scrub out the cat pan.  Ew.

But, Todd and I had a pre-marriage agreement, that all yard work and grass mowing was in the husband department.  I would make sure he always had clean underwear and dinner to eat and that occasionally I would dust things.  But killing bugs, taking out the trash and anything to do with the yard was his domain.

However, with how awesome I've been feeling lately, I offered to help Todd with some front yard maintenance.  We needed to weed out our shrub area and wanted to plant some new bushes to spruce things up a bit.  Tommy even helped and we got to reinforce lessons about working hard without complaining and having a good attitude.  I heard myself say all of the things that my dad would say to me when I had to pick up those damn pears in the backyard of my childhood house.  Full circle moments.

We worked and toiled all day - taking some popsicle breaks and a nap right in the middle of our project, because it's blazing hot in June here which is probably why do what we did in a sensible month like March.

But it felt good to help.  To move my body and dig and lift things and sweat along side of my husband.  Not because I had to, and not really even because I wanted to.  But because I could.


Someone called me "tiny" the other day and it felt weird.  I am far from tiny.  I am still overweight.  But I am smaller and can officially buy clothes on the "normal sized" parts of the store.

For me, the most drastic thing hasn't been my waistline or weight loss.  It's been in my health - how my body feels, how I am moving it, and what I am actually desiring to eat.  I want vegetables.  Pizza has lost its appeal.  I eat fruit for dessert on purpose.  When I have a sweet tooth, I eat a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and it's completely satisfying.  I've been working out - walking and attempted jogging.  Light weight lifting, crunches, squats and lunges - trying to both strengthen and push my body.

I've had several compliments on my appearance.  Some of that feels good, and some of it doesn't.  i try to filter things and let them roll off of me as any mention of my size in the past whether positive or negative has been triggering for me.  I've heard things like, "Wow, I know you went through a hellish ordeal this year, but man, you look fantastic!"  And I just say thank you.  Because yes, I did go through a hellish ordeal and I do look a bit fantastic.  But, how I look isn't even the point.  It's how I feel.  It's how much healthier I am now.  It's about my changed perspective and how I'm finally caring for my body with better nutrition and exercise.

Yes, I look better.  But I feel better.  I eat better.  I move better.  I am better.


We sat in a new church on Sunday morning.  There were chairs instead of pews and they had fun flashy lights when the music played and there were silly videos for announcements.  Our boys had a great time in their classes and Tommy is already asking to attend their VBS program next month.  My skeptical eye looked over their statement of faith for any potential doctrine issues that we don't agree with.  Other than one set of familiar faces, we were surrounded by strangers.  We were greeted as visitors and met with kindness.

But I sat there feeling sad.  Wondering if this place would be or ever could be home for us.  Recently, we made the decision to leave our church body that has been home to us for nearly seven years.  Things happened as they always do, and we have chosen to keep our reasons private.

Nevertheless, we are finding ourselves in this new space of starting over again.  We keep in touch with some of the friends that moved on and left the church before we us, and some of those friendships are long and lasting.  But they have and will continue to shift and change as life does with relationships and communities.  It took us over three years at our church before we really made friends.  At our peak there, we did life with several families and it was glorious.  We felt like we were wanted, like we belonged and had a purpose.

Now, we are new again.  We feel a little lost and quite alone, hoping to meet some new friends and families to do life with again.

But for now though, we are mere faces in a crowd.


"You're calling me?" Sarah said answering her phone.

"I think we should probably know by now, that if we are calling each other instead of texting, something is probably wrong or we have bad news." I said choking back tears.  Remembering my call to her last December when I was sick and new something was terribly wrong.

"Uhoh.  What's up?" she asked.

It's funny how accustomed we are in this day in age to text.  For me, it's weird for anyone to call me unless it's my Grammy or my 74 year old boss who doesn't believe in text messages. And especially with Sarah and all of the life we have known together in the last several years, phone calls usually mean big or serious news:  Engagement.  Pregnancy.  Cancer.  Death.

We had some scary news on Father's Day.  Todd's dad went to the ER having difficulty breathing. As it turned out, he had some large blood clots in his lungs and for two days straight, we really didn't know if he would even live.  We were all nervous and scared and preparing ourselves for the worst.  He is planning to retire this year, they are building a new house, and his daughter (my sister-in-law and one of my best friends) is getting married.  It's a big year for him, for our family, and we don't want to imagie any of that without him.

Thankfully, it looks like he is on the mend and blood thinners and doctors did what they do best and were able to heal the scary things that were threatening his life.  The doctors are calling him a walking miracle because a clot of that size that passed through his heart into his lungs should have been fatal.

Sarah came to sit with my boys the evening I called her so I could go up to the hospital and take dinner to my family who hadn't eaten all day.  I sat with my mother-in-law and told her some silly stories about the boys while she ate her dinner so she could have a break from her tears and worries.  Todd took the week off of work and has been up at the hospital as soon as I have gotten home from my job.  It's only Wednesday but it feels like the longest week ever.

I found myself out loud in prayer this week, pleading with God. Asking Him for another miracle, another blessing, another place for Him to please come through and make things go our way.  I don't always pray out loud - I mostly journal and talk to Him through my writing things down.  But, just like Sarah answered her phone and she knew I was calling because I probably had bad news, God was right there to pick up and listen.


It is my favorite childhood book.  I can remember sitting on my Grammy's lap listening to her read with her warm, soothing voice.  I would reach up and touch her cheeks and call her skin "fluffy."  Something about the story and those quiet moments with her put me at calm and rest.  Those sweet moments of story telling are some of my favorite memories of her.

Last week, she came over with the book as a gift for me, knowing the treasured memories we had together.  And I asked her to read it to my boys because I wanted them to have the same memory of her - her fluffy skin, her easy voice, the kind of calm that settles over you when you hear the tale of The Giving Tree.

And for a moment I was five again.

I've had her apples and swung from her branches, and she's given me so much to build a life and home of my own.  Grammy was and is and always will be, The Giving Tree.

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