God created her, I carried her, now she is my happiness and my laughter.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

30 and Thriving

So, for quite a while I was refusing to tell anyone that didn't already know how old I was turning this year. Thirty seemed like that age where by now you should have your life relatively figured out. I felt like for the most part I was still acting like someone in their mid-twenties and I definitely felt mid-twenties. Thirty felt....older. Not old, but definitely older. But, then my other 29 year old friends started having their 30th birthday parties and none of them randomly combusted into flames afterwards. They seemed to carry out normal lives, normal, successful lives. And I started to realize that 30 wasn't so bad. It was just an age. It was also nice realizing that I no longer felt attracted to those young immature college aged guys who I wanted so badly to act their age. It's the over 30 that care about taking care of a family and that was becoming attractive to me.

So, it caught me by surprise when the eve of my 30th birthday I sat alone at home and found myself feeling depressed and crying spastically. It was the second to last night I would get to myself before school started. With mom watching the kids two days in a row during the summer, I've had Wednesday nights to myself and I've always embraced it with gusto. But, this night I started to miss my kids. I thought about waking up in the morning, the day of my birthday, and no one would be there. Liz had planned for the family to get together the day after my birthday to celebrate. I had always disliked the idea from the moment she presented it to me. She said she wanted to celebrate on Friday and she would take me out to a movie on Thursday, my actual birthday. So, I could have my birthday poker party with my friends from work on Saturday. I like celebrating with my family on the exact day. I mentioned that to Liz but she had some reason why Friday was just easier for everyone and she seemed so happy to be planning the celebration at her house I decided to just let it go. Going to a movie would be fun and at least I would get to do something with someone on my birthday.

Well, all day on the 29th, I was feeling emotional because it dawned on me that I wouldn't see anyone on my birthday, not even my kids except for going out with Liz later in the evening and then I would pick the kids up at Liz's house after the night was done. They would be sleeping by the time we got back. So, I sat Wednesday night thinking about that and feeling down. I considered taking the next day off so I could just relax and do something fun for myself; but the next morning I ended up going to work anyway. Not surprising. I like my routine.

When I got to work, the technicians were really in a mood. I had passed out a memo about some new procedures the day before and it did not go over well. I was so mad at them all for acting so childish and non-professional and expecting me to bow to their every need and wishes. Blanca came in late carrying a bouquet of beautiful yellow, orange and pink flowers. She said, "Hope these birthday flowers cheer you up. I know you are having a hard time with the techs." That was a nice surprise. Then I went upstairs to my desk and found a giant balloon attached to it. It was nice to be remembered.

The day wore on and the more it did the more I grew tired of playing the passive aggressive game with the technicians. My tasks were all complete for the day and the rest of the day would have just been spent on busy work so I decided as a salary employee I was just going to take off a couple hours early. A girl I work with upstairs told me to just go home and since I didn't have the kids I should do something just for me that would make me smile.

So, on the way home I grabbed a large Code Red Mountain dew and a bag of microwave popcorn and  came home, plopped down and watched my Gilmore Girls show. the more I sat there the more I thought about my evening with my sister. I texted her and said, "If you get off at 5 and I only live a couple minutes away, why are we not meeting until 6?" She didn't answer right away and I figured she was busy at work; but I considered calling because I could always meet her at the church at 5. My evening was getting boring and I hated waiting around. Finally I heard back from her. She said, "She had gone to QT over lunch and the car was making weird sounds. Josh wanted her to get home, stop for oil on the way home and he wanted to look at the car. She asked if I could pick her up." I said, "Well, I could just pick you up at the church and take you home later because I have to get the kids anyway." She said, "Well, this is Josh's only night available to look at the car." So we agreed I would pick her up at her house around 6:15.

Well, around 5:30, I was practicing my violin and thought, you know, I could always just head over and wait for her. If Josh is home I can visit with him or otherwise just play with Gauge. I decided to head over to her house. I get to her street and I see two familiar looking people walking down the street. As I get nearer it turns out to be Patty and Alex McCarthy. I didn't think anything of it at all. I knew Alex worked at the near by Frys. I pulled up to them and said, "Hey, you two get back to where you belong." Patty said, "We do belong here. What are you doing here?" I said, "Well, Liz lives on this street, don't you know?" She said, "Yes, that's who we are going to see. We have something we have to give her." In that moment I thought, huh. That's odd. Why are they walking then? I asked, "Oh, did you just pick Alex up from work?" Patty said, "Yes." I said, "And you decided to walk down here?" She said, "Yep." I said, "Well, I can give you a ride the rest of the way, if you want." (We were only about 4 houses away) Patty laughed and said, "Sure, we'll take a ride." It all made sense in my head. They got in the car and we continued to the house. I didn't really think anything out of the ordinary was happening. It wouldn't be unlike Patty to randomly decide to come to someone's house and give them something. They could have said they were passing out tracks door to door and I would have believed them.

We started walking up to the door and I started to feel weird. Here Patty and Alex had walked all this way to give Liz something and we were supposed to go to a movie. Was our evening going to get delayed? What were they giving her? Should I be here for it? I didn't want to intrude in their visit. Patty knocked on the door and didn't wait for Liz to respond. She just walked right in. And even then I thought, "Ha, that's so like Patty. She's so much like Grandma. Liz doesn't even know she's coming and she just walks right in."

But, as she does open the door she yells "SURPRISE!" Everyone else starts to realize I'm there too and they jump out from the hallway, "SURPRISE!" Turns out Patty and Alex were there for a surprise birthday party for me. I was so taken aback. I started remembering all the lies I had been told over the course of the last couple weeks. I'm hard to surprise. I ask a lot of questions and I notice when things are off. I couldn't believe I had been fooled. Patty was the perfect person to see walking down the street. She's the only one of the group who could have done that and I would have thought, "Well, that's just Patty. Who knows what she's up to now."

It was so special and I felt so happy. They hadn't forgotten how special it was to me to celebrate on the day, after all. They hadn't forgotten I was feeling weird about turning 30. Jacey ran up to me several times to hug my leg. Even Jeff was there. Seeing Jeff there was what really made the party special. Liz had gone out of her way to invite an "outsider" to make my day special. And Jeff, being the outsider, had put that aside to come and be there for me. I was overwhelmed with his amazing friendship in that moment.

It was such a fun party. Heidi and her family were there as well. I don't have a large group of friends but my family knew who meant the most to me and it was perfect. Mom's lasagna was just cheesy enough and though Emma had given me a scare the other day when she told me Jammy had bought me a mop when I really, really needed and wanted a vacuum, I did end up receiving a steam vacuum and it is awesome! I can finally walk barefoot in my house again. (Just a little plug in here: those steam vacuums really are amazing! If you have hardwood or tile floors, this is a must have!) Now, I'm just curious if Emma knew she was tricking me with the mop story or if she thought the vacuum was a mop. Either way I was so happy it wasn't a mop.

I was slightly disappointed that I had gotten all dressed up to go out and watch a movie, but I got over it quickly. Thank you to everyone who came and prepared to make my day special. It will be a birthday to remember for all time. And thanks to Josh for putting my vacuum together before I left.

Now, I have much to do to get my house ready for poker tonight.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Free Weekend

After last weekend's crazy activities, to include Emma's fasionista, dance party and being sick with the flu; I've fully embraced my "stay at home" pi day (3.14.15) weekend. Emma's birthday was a blast and I enjoyed having all her old friends back together again along with a couple new friends. But, pictures say it all and I don't have those picked up from Walgreens yet so I'll comment more when I have some pictures to post.

Fridays are usually everyone's favorite day of the week. And they should be my favorite day even more so because I only work a half day. My work "day" is simple since I have a two and half hour meeting in the morning. By the time that meeting is over I only have an hour and half hours left to work. SCORE! However…..all week long I save all my errands for Friday afternoon since it's a half day. So my Fridays after work are actually jammed packed. I'm rushed and stressed. I have Russian club at 2 which is a horrible time because it's right in the middle of the afternoon. I always have to decide whether to finish errands or go to club.  I come home Friday evenings exhausted and grumpy. We end up going to bed early, OR it's my only night available to go out so sometimes I have a babysitter and am up late, making Saturday mornings a drag.

THIS Friday, however, Jacey got sick and it forced me to make no plans. I picked her up after work and we went straight home. Well, sort of. I was getting off Rita exit when the van started to drive a little funny. The more I accelerated the more it seemed to have an odd sound and the longer I drove the more the ride became really bumpy. I texted dad and a mechanic friend of mine from work to see what I should do. I was almost home and just hoped to get into my driveway before anything major happened. I was just turning into my subdivision when coincidentally David drove up right behind me, coming home from school. I might have been on a regular old country dirt road in a truck with no shocks the way the van was bumping and jiggling around. David pulled up next to me and motioned for me to pull over. I got out of the van and sure enough I had been driving on a complete flat tire for at least a mile. It must have just been slowly losing air the whole ride home. We were less than a quarter mile from the house so I just finished the trek. Dave tried to change the tire out but we didn't have the right tools and the spare was rusted to the van, unusable. So, we called AAA. The tragedy was less annoying since I was at the house. I got Jacey in bed and the AAA guy came to tow the van to discount tire.

It turned out to be a longish wait, but by happenstance a co-worker of mine was there. He's ex-Navy as well, so we had plenty to talk about and pass the time. Mom was bringing Emma home from school that afternoon which worked out perfectly. She ended up paying for the tires which was great since I really didn't want to have to pull from my savings. I decided to go ahead and grab some groceries from Frys on the way home. I stocked my pantry and fridge with some healthy school snacks for the kids and breakfast and lunch items for myself. Wasn't able to get much for Dave. I should have plenty of food to get me through for a while, but boy was it expensive! I was even more glad I didn't have to pay for the tires.

Finally home. Jacey was still sleeping. We got the groceries put away and I worked on cleaning up the cat litter area, which was a much needed project in waiting. Yaro, my Russian friend, had moved and lost a cat in the process, so he gave me his cat stuff which included a great, new litter box with lid. The cat area looks much better now. I scrubbed and vacuumed the floor and surrounding areas.

Then, Emma and I went outside to start on a gardening project I'd been wanting to do to help keep the weeds down. We had a bare patch of ground next to the house in triangular shape which I had before-hand sprayed with weed killer. I also had previously potted plants in said area; but otherwise had not done much with the spot. It's right in the front of the house and my aim was to plant some wildflower seeds. Something I wouldn't have to maintain. Jacey and I had looked for wildflower seeds, but Walmart, being the lame-o that it is, didn't sell any. Jacey pulled a seed packet off the shelf and I thought, "sure, why not." We grabbed a variety of annuals to include my favorite, marigolds. We must have had 8 different packs of flower seeds over all. I was sure to get a couple ground covers which I hope I don't regret later. Emma and I spread the soil that I had around and planted some of the seeds. I read the back of the seed packet, though and realized I was going to need a lot more soil in order for the seed to take root.

So, today, while Emma was at her new, advanced gymnastics class, Jacey and I ran back to walmart to get some more soil and a couple more types of seeds. (I strongly considered tomatoes, but eventually decided against them.) Jacey joined us in the gardening project, today as well. I was surprised my supposed tom-girl was not at all interested in getting dirty. Emma wanted to get deep into the dirt. I was kneeling in the dirt. We were singing "Break up the Fallow Ground" and when I put Jacey in the dirt she screamed and fussed something awful. I told her a cowgirl can't cry over a little dirt, but she would have none of it. I tried planting Emma in the dirt; but then she threatened to water my butt so I unplanted her. Caesar also hung out with us. He's such a great dog. He just stays by us. He sits and watches and is patient when Emma waters his head.

Jacey was tired and girls were hungry. I made them some mac and cheese and got them in bed. So, we didn't exactly stay home; but the real point was not having any plans out in town. It's so nice to get caught up on some chores, bond with the girls, we read a Bible story this morning and now I'm going to take advantage of the girl's nap time to do some writing and Russian study. There's so much more TLC I could give the house, but some times you just want to relax the mind and body and do those things you don't get to do very often, like writing.  I feel like we still accomplished much.

We planned a movie night at Liz and Josh's tonight since we all forgot to go to the new Hunger Games movie in theaters. Now it's out on DVD. Oops. I play my violin in church tomorrow. Playing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring and I'm really excited about it. It's a neat rendition. Saw a Code Red Mountain Dew today at Walmart and wanted it so badly. My heart even dropped as I saw it and knew I couldn't have it. I thought for about a minute whether I should just get one. After all, it was movie night and there would be pizza. But, I turned away. I'm doing so well with my new diet and I really want this to be the time I finally give it up. It was the first Code Red sighting I've had since I started the diet and I'm thankful to have passed the test.

Here are some pictures from todays gardening:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Emma's 6th Birthday Eve

On the eve of Emma's 6th birthday, I find myself uncharacteristically overwhelmed by the whole event.  My kid's birthdays have always been and will always be one of the biggest days of the year. It's the one day a year that I can show that one child all the special attention of the day. They can be selfish and it's ok. We can spoil them and it's ok. I try to make each moment of the day special. This is the first year that one of my kid's birthdays has truly overwhelmed me. I'm feeling worn to the bone as I stoop over the cat litter, well over due to be changed and the smell of ammonia cleaning my sinuses, having been awake since 2 this morning fussing about some work issues, worrying about cakes and my party favors unfinished, decorations I can't put up with out a ladder that I don't possess. I certainly didn't need Jacey fussing and calling for me from her room while Emma tries to sleep.

Since I was in college and career class at Treasure Valley Baptist Church I'll never forget Mr. Burchard telling a story about how his wife would get balloons the night before their kid's birthday and surprise them with balloons the next morning as they woke up. It was something I always wanted to do for my own children and so far had been successful. This year I'm a busy, working mom and was only fortunate enough, last minute to get Aunt Liz to pick up some balloons for Emma so I could carry on the tradition. I was worried for a moment that it wasn't going to happen.

Now Jacey sits eating popcorn I had made to snack on by myself in my room, playing with Emma's balloons and I'm tired. I'm so very tired. Tomorrow is just the family party. Mom was willing to pick up makings for Emma's dinner and we will celebrate at her house so she can have dinner cooking while I'm at work. It's very unlike me not to make a cake; but I broke down and went with striped delight since I knew I would have absolutely no time or energy to make a cake. Emma wouldn't mind.

It doesn't help that I found out its customary for birthday kids to bring something to share with their friends at school. Now I have to go to frys in the wee hours before the kids get up to go get something Emma can take to school. I want to be that mom that just doesn't care or that just can't do it. But Emma wouldn't understand that. And it's about making good memories for her tomorrow.

I gave encouragement to a co-worker today telling him that "This too shall pass. He won't always be working two jobs, he won't always be deep in debt, his daughter won't always scream into the night relentlessly. This is just a phase of life and that it will end." Sometimes it would be nice to hear the same thing for my own life. Someday I want to throw my kids a birthday party with out worrying about whether the money I spend on a cake that I didn't have time to make myself is cutting into my rent money or not. Someday I hope that I will not always have so little time that I'm continually feeling rushed to complete tasks in time and feeling overwhelmed.

Tomorrow, I will not let the devil bring my down on my daughter's special day. Her big fasionista party isn't until Saturday and though I have to work later than usual on Friday afternoon I hope to have all the time I need to get everything in order. Emma is so excited for her big party with her friends. I don't even know who all is coming since I forgot to put my number on the invite.

Why, oh, why did I have kids only a month apart? I shall follow my own advice that I gave my co-worker today to "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Some Truths about Depression

Depression is an emotion that one can not simply explain. Unless you have also been or are depressed you could never understand what a depressed person is really feeling. If you ask a depressed person how they are feeling they will most likely not be honest with you. However, if they were to be honest, they might say something like, "I'm sad for no reason a lot. Happy things are happening all around me but I feel no joy. I'm thankful for what I have, but can't express it. I have no energy to do the simple things in life like making dinner or cleaning up the house and when I do attempt to do those things I feel anxious and overwhelmed and emotional."

Let's be honest. If you are not depressed or have never experienced true depression you probably read the above statement and think, "Wow. Why don't you just pull yourself together. It's not that difficult. How selfish you are to not rejoice in the happy times or be thankful for what you have. Stop being lazy and just get up and do what you need to do."

And this is why it's simply impossible to explain how you are really feeling as a depressed person. Depression IS a selfish emotion. This is true. But, it affects the mind on a much deeper level. The cure to depression is not any kind of drug and it's not a cure that lasts forever. The way to defeating depression to a continual forcing of one's self to do everything you don't want to do. And I say everything because it's not just that some things you enjoy doing and other things you don't and it's the things you don't that you have to force yourself to do. No, that is a normal person. A depressed person has to force themselves to do EVERYTHING. Even the things they would normally enjoy. And EVERYTHING is exactly what they don't want to do. A depressed person has desires to do certain things in life. These desires are always in the forefront of the mind. But, there's what often times feels as an outward source engulfing the person, making them feel mentally overwhelmed and emotionally taxed so that those simple desires like "I think I'd enjoy making dinner for the family." Is followed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety from the overwhelming sense of energy it would take to do that small task and you no longer feel you can handle it. The cure to this IS forcing yourself to do it. Upon completing the task, you will feel better until the next task arises and you have to go through the whole ordeal again. Often times it takes someone else who knows and understands your condition to force you to do it because it's extremely difficult to be motivated when depressed.

My name is Tiffany Anderson and I'm depressed.

I would say the thing that gets me through each and every day is definitely my belief in God. I trust that he has my best interest at heart, but I know that God works directly through my children. If I didn't have these two kids to take care of I would definitely be a lot worse off. I can only ashamedly admit that when ever I've reached what I felt was the end of my rope with depression and decided it wasn't worth going on in life, that I had no more energy, no more emotions to give, that no one wanted or needed me anyway; it wasn't long til I remembered my girls and how with out me they would be alone. I love them enough to keep me going, keep me working, keep me pursuing at school, keep me going to church. With out my girls I'm certain I would do none of this. I actually have to thank Jesus for my divorce because being a single mom is hard. It's very hard for me. I do not do it well and I continually feel overwhelmed. But, if I had a husband to lean on to take care of things and one that I trusted with the upbringing of my girls, I would most definitely fall deep into depression and never leave my house.

There are some things that normal people take for granted that depressed people deal with on a daily basis and while it seems like a small dog to anyone else, it's a really big struggle to a depressed person. Expressing emotion, for example. Every emotion I express is fake. Every single one. At any given moment, any smile performed, any laugh, any sympathy…..sorry, but all fake. I absolutely hate it when people ask me how I'm doing. It's the simplest of pleasantries and used more often by way of saying "Hello" than actually wondering how you are doing; but I hate it because I'm never doing well. I feel like crying all the time. I feel continually lonely, though I'm surrounded by others. I feel melancholy, though my life is full of blessings. Simple things that shouldn't bother me, do bother me and this is embarrassing to admit. I grow tired of lying to people telling them that "I'm ok." "I'm fine, thanks for asking." I'm not fine. I'm not ok. But, I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to cry and show my weakness.

David (who also struggles with depression) and I were talking about this the other day. He said something that really put it in perspective for me. He said some people who do not struggle with depression have no problem expressing their emotion because they are happy. To let their emotion loose causes no harm to anyone. But, for us, as depressed people to express an emotion, it might cause actual harm to ourselves or someone else. We have no other choice but to suppress what we are feeling as to not frighten anyone or so that we keep our deepest, scariest feelings to ourselves. My mom once found me curled up in a closet crying. It is scary. It felt normal, even comforting to me; but to my mom it was a horrible experience that she never wanted to see again. If I have to function in society I have to suppress so much emotion that sometimes the slightest thing can push me into a downward spiral. And people don't understand it. They think "wow, she's so sensitive. She's gone crazy. I have to walk on egg shells around her." But what they don't know is that for the last week I've been suppressing all my emotions, I've been faking the way I feel and overtime that becomes hard to bear. Overtime you just want to for once, not have to push all that aside.

There are many little things like this that depressed people deal with on a daily basis. I don't even feel comfortable going into other details and truths about depression. Because it's really extreme. It's scary and it's not fun to talk about. Some of you who may read this may know me as a person that doesn't express a lot of emotions. And now you know why.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Emma's First Steps

My personal prayer for my girls has always been that they will desire to have Jesus in their hearts on their own accord. With out the prompting of Sunday School teachers, family members, school instructors or peer pressure from friends, they would recognize through God's leading that they NEED Him. My Christian example, especially in the privacy of my own home, is not what it should be. There are many, many areas that I need to work on. But, I pray that some how my girls will see how I live my life, how other family members live their lives and compare it to how someone like their lost father lives his life. My prayer is that they will see a difference. A good difference. A difference from which they recognize the difference between having Jesus in your heart or not having him in your heart. And upon realizing this difference along with the Bible teaching that they have had, they will come to determine that they want Jesus in their hearts and that the Bible is true and faith in God's Word and complete trust in Jesus IS what they want. As a second generation Christian I believed in God and the Bible in the same way that I might have learned a family trade. It was always in my parent's life, I was always in church and it simply seemed like the thing I was supposed to do. I'm very thankful for this upbringing. Don't get me wrong. But, it wasn't until my adulthood that I was able to fully realize the affects of sin, what that meant for Jesus having to die on the cross for me, and now as a believer in Christ, how I am supposed to live my life. My prayer for my precious girls, is that they can by-pass the confusing third generation Christian doubts and with the Lord's leading and Grace move straight into understanding while also having a deep DESIRE to WANT Jesus in their lives.

Well, Emma mentioned on the way to church last Sunday that she had decided to trust in Jesus. To be honest, my heart did not jump with joy, at first, because we had talked about trusting in Jesus many times over the course of the last year. Emma often times would bring up Jesus simply for a conversation starter. But, as we continued on our journey to church I couldn't help but notice the difference in her tone of voice as she talked about Jesus this time. She seemed almost giddily happy. She started mentioning all the people she wanted to tell about her decision. I actually started to get nervous because, I thought, "Could this be it? Could she be getting saved right now?" But, I quickly decided not to label it. I never want her to feel confused about that moment in her life. I started to get excited with her and we went over again what Jesus did for us on the cross and how we can pray to Him any time when we are happy or sad, grumpy or disappointed or afraid. Later, after church, we got a Christmas tree and headed home. Emma was still talking about Jesus and how she was going to trust and believe in him the whole while. When we got home, I went around to open the garage door as our openers don't work. When I got back to the van to unload I opened the door to find Emma finishing a prayer. She told me she was telling Jesus how happy she was that she decided to trust in Him.  It was in that moment that I knew this was a real feeling for her. So, I made the next crucial step of posting it on facebook. I wanted the family to rejoice with her. However, at church again that night she wasted no time sharing her news with everyone else on her own.

I know that Emma does not fully understand sin or the consequence of sin, yet. But her desire to have Jesus in her life is now. She may not be one of those Christians who has a major turning point or an exact day of salvation. But, I truly believe her to have a change in her heart that only God can do in a person. I truly believe God to have answered my prayer in a time when I really needed to see Him working in my family's life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Surprise Van

Wow! I didn't think I would ever have time to sit down and write this post. It took a long Sunday afternoon at the zoo and Jacey refusing to sleep at a friend's house and needing to come home and go to bed; therefore missing evening service to even make me feel like I had some time to sit down and write.   (You can tell it's been a while because of the run-on sentence.) I dream of being a full time writer. I'm not off to a great start with that goal. However, I press on, making tiny steps towards the goal with these simple, little, delayed blogs.

It all started on a rainy, cloudy day……ok, you're right, that's ridiculous in Arizona. But, don't most stories sound better when you start that way? I really don't remember what the weather was or really even what day it was when mom first let it slip that she and dad were going to Indiana. I was sitting at the kitchen table. She was standing at the counter. Dad had been home for a while and mom blurted out, "I made the reservations today. Mom and Dad said they could pick us up in Indianapolis."

I looked up appalled by what I had just heard. "What?! You are going to see grandma and grandpa? Even when they are coming here in November?"

Mom put on her best poker face. (Which fooled me.) "Ya, we decided to just go there and enjoy some time just the two of us with them. Dad needed a green-fix." She paused; but then continued most likely due to the astounded look still on my face. "We didn't tell you cuz we didn't want you getting upset that you couldn't go."

It was the perfect lie. I truly would have been and was upset that I couldn't go. I have a special bond with my grandparents that my other siblings didn't get to make with them because I lived with them for a summer. It truly was the best and only memorable summer of my life. In that one summer, my grandma taught me so much about the kitchen, the garden and boys. And I got to see Grandpa's patience working with me up close and personal. He is such a wise man. I did not treat them well that summer. I was still in my rebellious stage, but I sure do love them so much more now having had that special time with them. Nothing excites me more than going and visiting either of my grandparents.

"Well, you know I couldn't go even if I wanted to." I concluded to mom and really that was the end of that conversation.

Now I'm not sure when the best time it is to slip in this important note so I'll just put it here: a few weeks prior to all this, I had called my grandpa and asked him his advice on what family car I should get. I told him I wanted an SUV type vehicle that would be easy to get the kids in and out of. He did not hesitate to tell me how much he liked his own van. It had been their second mini van and both had treated them well. It had many features that were great for families with kids. I hung up the phone that day feeling disappointed he didn't suggest the Avalanche or the Equinox. But, deep down inside I knew it was time to embrace my motherhood and become the soccer mom. I thought I would use my next tax return on a new vehicle. I knew I had to follow my grandpa's advice, too, or I would never hear the end of it.

I really didn't think about my parents going to Indiana again until I was at their house one Saturday morning and they received a surprise visit from the assistant pastor and his wife. Through small talk and lunch invites my mom was forced to bring up the fact that they were going to Indiana. The Howards had many friendly, casual questions on the topic including how they would travel. My dad piped in with out thinking and said, "We're flying there but driving back."

I honestly thought absolutely nothing strange about this. I did say, "You're driving?" But it didn't actually surprise me. My parents often times take road trips and enjoy them. I expected them to fly round trip but the comment didn't throw me. My mom, however, assumed I would be suspicious and followed my dad's comment with, "What do you mean we're driving?!"

My dad gave the perfect cover, really. He simply and casually said, in the way only my dad could, "Well, we don't HAVE to drive."

I might have thought about how strange the driving comment was if I had remembered that my mom already mentioned booking tickets so there should have been no reason for my dad to suggest driving. But, with the Howard's visit coming to a close and the dog barking in another room I honestly didn't think anything of it. The Howards left and I had no reason to bring the topic back up.

I was clearly oblivious or else just in my own world because even when I asked my mom when they were getting back from Indian and she said, "Oh, Friday or Saturday." I asked surprised, "Don't you know? Aren't you flying?" And she answered quickly, "Oh, ya, Saturday." I still didn't think anything was up. It was extremely out of character for my mom to not have all the details sorted out but my own life's business kept me preoccupied, I guess. After all, Mom had been known to be showing signs of losing it lately.

The time came for mom and dad to leave. They arranged a way to the airport. It did not seem strange that they did not arrange a way home. In the back of my mind I always assumed I would pick them up when they got home. Through out their time in Indiana my dad posted pictures of all that they were doing there. At one point he posted a picture of an eatery which he loved that was quite a distance from my grandparents. I do not recall if I made a comment on the picture, but I do remember thinking that it was awfully far out of their way to go to that diner. I suppose I didn't question it because my dad truly would drive miles for their pork….or roast….or steak….something he really likes there. Pulled pork sandwich?

On Saturday morning mom texted me to see what we were up to. I knew they were due home that day and I assumed she was wanting to make airport pick up arrangements. I told her we had just gotten done with gymnastics and asked when they were arriving and if they needed a ride. She never responded so I assumed they had to get on the plane. I figured they would be home that evening, what with the air time and all.

If nothing else that had happened could stir curiosity of a lie, the fact that mom stepped into my home while I was wiping rice off of Jacey's clothes about an hour later should have immediately told me that something was up. I didn't really stop what I was doing. I figured she came to surprise the kids with her arrival. She came in the house alone so I figured she must have dropped dad off at home and then wanted to see the kids so badly that she came all the way back into town. It's so silly thinking back on it. Then she said something about taking the kids out to see dad and I thought, "Does my house smell so awfully of cats that he can't even come in and say hello?" But, alas, I needed to dump the rice from Jacey's shirt in the driveway. I was on a rice cleansing mission as I walked out into the garage. I said hi to dad and was slightly taken aback by my sister, Liz and her husband Josh also being there. They were all standing oddly on the other side of David's car. Liz had her camera which was strange but then Liz was a photographer at heart and it wasn't that odd for her to have her camera.  As I stepped out into the driveway, walked past the new white van in my driveway, and went to the side to dump the rice I kept thinking, "Wow, everyone wanted to see mom and dad pretty bad. I didn't think they were gone long enough for such a grand reunion. Do I not love my parents as much as my other siblings?! Should I be more excited? And furthermore, why did they rent this big van to get home from the airport? It seems awfully inconvenient since now someone is going to have to take them back there to drop it off. Surely mom knows I could have picked them up even if we had been at gymnastics."

These are ALL the thoughts running through my head as I'm taking care of Jacey's rice situation. Then I turn around and I see Dad has his phone out in camera mode as well. That's when I knew. (THAT is when I knew. Not any of those other obvious times ha ha) I knew something was up and it had to do with me. Some type of surprise. "It must be the van. But, could it be? How did it get here? Had they decided while in Indiana that I was such a great daughter I deserved a van? Wait….they must have driven the van back from Indian. Yes, that was it. But why? They already got me a car and it was running fine."

All these thoughts happened in a matter of a half a second. And no sooner had I had them someone, I forget who was the first, finally spilled the beans and relieved me of my wonderings by telling me it was Grandma and Grandpa's van. I remembered their van being blue so I had not thought of that at all. I started to cry, feeling overwhelmed by generosity, curiosity and frankly deceit….no just kidding about that. I couldn't wait to hash out the details and laugh at how obvious it had been and it went completely over my head. Turns out Dad had saved pictures for the drive back and posted them to make us all think they were still in Indiana. I did manage to hold back the tears as it's always weird when one goes off bawling on camera. Really ruins the mood for everyone involved. Everyone (except David) started talking a mile a minute, joking, telling the story, wondering what was going through my head. And all this time Jacey is wondering around shirtless.

The van has truly been an unexpected blessing and a godsend. It wasn't hard at all embracing mother hood and playing the part of soccer mom. I found I was excited to drive it because it smelled of and held memories of my grandparents. Emma loves it. She has four seats to choose from.

The next day was Sunday and when we were about to leave I asked Emma, "Should we take the car or the new van?" She chose the van, of course.

Thank you God for blessing me when I least deserve it. Thank you grandma and grandpa for the wonderful, free and loving gift. Thank you Mom and Dad for being willing to drive it back.

And there's the final story!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Update since the Washington trip

It is two hours past Jacey's normal wake up time and she is still sleeping away. So I thought I would get on the computer to post an update as she is sure to get up and demand all my attention as soon as I sit down.

The girls have been back from Washington for a few weeks now, where they had been visiting their dad. The first week they were gone was really rough for me. I had big plans to clean and organize the house and yard,  visit friends and do things at the church and in the community. But, I couldn't get past my bed. I was so depressed. I felt completely drained of all my motivation and energy. After work and to keep my mind from thinking about all the horrible things that were happening with the kids in Washington, I desired only to lay in bed and watch movies.

But, in the second week they were gone, I started to go through a nesting trance, like when a mother is expecting a baby. I would come home from work and do the most random things as if I were preparing for their home coming. I bought craft supplies so we would have things to do when they got back. I cleaned and started organizing the house. I planned new sleeping arrangements for the girls which involve a bunk bed in my room and the girl's room turning into a play room. My sister pointed out what a great idea this was because late night talks about life and the world would really bond us. I thought back to when I was a kid sharing a bunk bed with my sisters. We would do the same thing, talking til late and looking out the window contemplating life. Ah, the memories of country life. I sure miss my childhood. So, I'm excited to share a room with the girls. I'll never forget the feeling I had after one of Jason's deployments. During said deployment, I had really started to desire to turn my life around. I was seeking to get my heart right with God. I still really struggled with depression and though I didn't recognize it at the time, my marriage was really struggling. Our future was on the edge of a cliff. We came back to Washington to our regular house and good yard. We had nice furniture and a great car. (My dream car, a camaro) But, I felt overwhelmed with "stuff". Stuff to clean, stuff to organize, stuff to fix, stuff to care about, stuff to maintain. Somehow I got it in my mind as Jason was dreaming about owning an RV one night that if we lived in one, our lives would be better. The small space appealed to me. I begged Jason to move us into an RV and he was more than happy to comply since he was currently in the mood for buying an RV. The feeling of comfort and peace that I had from moving into a small space, cozy and snug is the same one I have about putting bunk beds in the room. I'm pulling the family closer together. We'll be snug and warm in our little space in the room and the girls and I can really bond.

In the second week the girls were gone, I also learned to completely rely on Jesus as my friend, protector, Savior, provider and comforter. I had originally planned to go to China with a friend during the girls absence. That fell through. My Russian friend also went to China and I felt very alone. Though I had family and friends, my two friends in China were the ones who kept me active and going. They did things with me and encouraged me to be away from the house and being productive. Learning to stay home and be alone was a good thing. David was also going through some spiritual changes and I was really starting to fall in love with my alone time with Jesus. He put me in a place where He was literally the only one that I felt could comfort me. I grew to rely on him more than my friends in China. I grew to count on him for friendship and comfort more than my other local friends and family. Fact of life: everyone has their own agendas. But Jesus' agenda is always about being there for me. He was only a prayer away at any given time and even when I wasn't on my knees I talked to him like he was always right there with me. I told him my woes and knew he was listening and I shared with him my desires even though I knew He already knew them. My relationship with Jesus was really able to grow. By the time the girls got home, I had a real motivation for things to be different in our home. Honestly, I hate the burden of raising the family all by myself. I feel completely over whelmed ALL the time and at the end of every day I always failed at my goals and tasks of the day. But, if I learned anything while the girls were absent it was that Jesus never fails. He doesn't mind if I mess up either. He helps me get back up and reminds me what my goals are.

I often shy away from expressing too much emotion. So, the day the girls were supposed to arrive any smile on my face or excitement in my expressions were truly genuine. As I always do, I planned in my mind how our reunion would be. I expected Emma to run to me and for Jacey to fly into my arms as fast as she could with a huge smile on her face. And the enemy who took them from me would vanish never to take my girls from me again. So, I had mixed emotions when Jacey took a moment in confusion to determine why I was now standing in front of her. It was probably only half a second in real time, but the time it took her to look at me, smile and fly into my arms felt like a minute. Emma, of course, did run to me from a distance and it was nice to give her a long hug just her with out having to share a hug with Jacey. The enemy didn't vanish, either. Even as we walked out of the airport my baby looked around saying "Dada?" I was torn between being thankful she had bonded with her dad to being very angry that she was being fooled into thinking he was being a part of her life. Since at her young age she doesn't know future visits are in the works. It is not my place to decide what the girls think about their father, though. They are certainly allowed to love him and since they MUST go visit, they might as well have a good time and enjoy it. It is my own pains and selfishness that cause me such anger. I have prayed so fervently that God protect my girls from emotional pains that I know he will not deny them a peace and comfort in all this.

Jacey was tired from her travels and Emma was excited to be home. It was a good 24 hours before Jacey stopped whining about everything and Emma bombarded me with questions and comments for 48 hours straight. It was a very trying time when I had fantasized about such perfection. I soon realized that my kids hadn't changed that much, I had simply gotten used to two weeks of no responsibilities. I forced myself to get back in the groove of having the kids around and it has since been a real blessing. I wouldn't give them up for the world. Between their last visit and the dealings Jason and I had in court recently, Jason and I hadn't spoken directly to each other in weeks. When we finally did have a conversation, it was pleasant but he is still just as selfish as he ever was only caring about what is best for him and not so much about the girls. I'm fine with that, really. I happy to have the girls to myself in a safe place for now. Until Jason gets saved that will never change. I know that God will always have the girl's best interest at heart and I keep reminding myself that my own sins got me in this situation. I will charish every moment I have with the girls and I will not waste any day we have together. And the girls simply have been a joy since they have been back. There is a lot of work ahead of us on all fronts. But it's a learning experience and I think we are doing ok.

Since the girls have been back, I've been compared to Jason's girlfriend and Jason is always trying to incorporate his girl friend in his talks with the girls. I reminded Jason that until there is a ring on her finger there would be no reason for her to be a part of the girl's life. I had a ring on my finger and still he left after 5 years. The last thing the girls need is to be attached to someone else in their dad's life only to have that person leave or be left in another 5 years. I'm quite certain this will have absolutely no affect on how Jason conducts his relationship with his girlfriend around the girls; but I pray, again, that the girls own emotions will be spared. Trust, I must in Jesus, just trust. (I just made up that little diddy right now.) I would say that is the theme of my life right now. Trusting in Jesus has really made things easier in a time when I really really couldn't have done it with out him.