Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thailand and a False Start

Did I mention that we plan to leave for Thailand on Thursday?  Paul and I, Steven and Jenny.  There's a Mennonite Bible school in Chiang Mai, actually more like a mission training center, and Paul will teach History of Missions for three weeks.

We return on June 24th.

You can all stop by and keep Emily and Ben company while we're gone.  Or have them over for popcorn and conversation in the evening.

And we would all appreciate your prayers, not least because for the third time this winter/spring I got a sore throat that expanded down into my lungs and triggered the whole asthma/cough/achy/fatigue/feels-like -pneumonia routine.  I think I'm just worn out; that's the problem.

One thing I had to get done before we leave was my column for the paper.  As always I didn't have anything to write about and debated about sending my editor an email: "I QUIT."  Three times I started writing about something and then stalled at 400 words.

Then in digging through some old papers I found some notes on when we got all these new little trees, and I remembered how it felt like such a battle of wills, with my family ganged up against me, and I also recalled that after one of my last trips I inspected these little trees and they all survived, so voila a story for which we hope for the best.

Here's one of the false starts:

I don’t normally remember phrases from my second grade reader when I’m trying to pressure wash the porch.

But you never know.

A winter’s worth of dirt, mold, and whatever the cats dragged in had turned our nice wraparound porch to a grimy, dingy, unwelcoming sight.

My son Ben hauled the pressure washer over from the carport and attached the hose.  I plugged it in and pushed the little reset button.

A quiet hum came from the motor.

I pressed the nozzle.

It was supposed to burst into a shivering roar, and send a jet of water out the end that would peel the grime off the vinyl siding.

It didn’t.

There was only that quiet hum deep in the guts of the yellow machine.

And the phrase from 2nd grade popped into my mind.

"It started, but it would not go."

I wonder how long I puzzled over that sentence, back in my old-fashioned desk with the hole for the inkwell, in that little Amish school.

I can still see the picture.  Mrs. Picnic, I'll call her, a cheerful white-haired woman with wire granny glasses, had driven her new car out into the country for a picnic.

The car was red, I remember that, and she had parked by a big flowering bush.

She had enjoyed her picnic and then got back in her car to go home, and there the problem arose.

It started but it would not go.

I found this utterly confusing.  Wasn't starting the same thing as going?  

Cars were a mystery to me.  I got the occasional ride from a Mennonite uncle or a driver we hired, but I didn’t begin to understand the process involved in getting it down the road.

In my world of horses and buggies and bare feet, to start was the same thing as to go.

I pictured Mrs. Picnic’s red car starting—that is, leaping forward with a happy jerk—so how could it not be going?

Odd, that it never occurred to me to ask someone what was going on.  I suppose I assumed that everyone else, equally Amish, would be as ignorant as I was.

I was an obsessive child, and I must have spent hours puzzling over that story.  My world was quite small and my chances for amusement quite limited once my schoolwork was done.

I do know the story had a happy ending and Mrs.Picnic eventually got home.

 A few years after that we upgraded to Amish 2.0 and got a car, so by the time I was 16 I had learned the complicated routine of key, brakes, shift, and so on.  I knew what it was to start the car, always difficult in a Minnesota winter, and I knew what it was to go, also risky in Minnesota winters.

There is starting, and then there is going, and to start is not always the same as to go.

In marriage, a new diet, reading a parenting book, writing a novel, and finally getting the flower beds to grow without me hovering and replanting.

[And here I felt I was overreaching for a Great Life Lesson from a memory out of second grade, so I quit.  I guess the column started, but it would not go.]

P.S. If you're wondering why little Amish students were reading about cars, it's because in those days we used castoff textbooks from the public schools.

Quote of the Day:
"Ben says if Dad ever becomes President, it'll be to have less stress in his life."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ISC update 7

The International Student Convention ended this morning with a long awards ceremony.  I got up at 5:30 to watch the live feed, which was fully worth it when Steven {my son} walked across the stage for his medal when he placed second in male trio, along with Isaiah and Cody, and fifth in Bible Bowl [with Spencer and Isaiah, I think] out of 63 teams [!!]

I'll try to remember who else placed, and where, although this might not be entirely accurate.

Shane--800 meter--5th
Austin--archery--top 6--not sure which

The small ensemble placed 7th out of 43 but didn't get to go up front for an award because only the top 5 or six get to do that.

The group flew out of Pittsburgh and is landing in Portland about now.  I was supposed to take the van and go get them, but that meant missing out on a concert Ben was in this evening.

David Krabill saved the day and consented to fetch the weary crew.

Thank you, David, that was very kind of you!

And I got to stay to the end of the concert.  A number of choirs sang one after the other, and then they sang all together.  Goose-bumpy beautiful.

Ben is in the farthest row, by the left leg of the A.

And speaking of goose bumps, we note how many in the audience were bundled up like it was the middle of winter.  For good reason.

I am trying to find some good in this weather and all I can think of is, when we get to Thailand next week and it's 104 degrees with a similar humidity, Maybe I'll think longingly of 48 degrees and a wild driving rain.


[Yeah. Thailand.  Since we never get to travel, you know.  Paul was asked to teach a 3-week course at a Bible school/mission training center, and he and I plan to go, along with Steven and Jenny.  Every so often Paul turns to me and says, "Do you realize I will have only 1 hour in the day scheduled?  One hour."  And I say, "Do you realize I haven't been assigned any responsibilities?  None.  And I won't have to cook."  And Paul grins and says, "Maybe we'll actually have a vacation," and I say, "I can see myself just sleeping for three weeks."]

[Except I've heard the fabric shopping is great, so I'll wake up long enough to do that.]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ISC Update 6

The guys played two basketball games today and lost both, so they ended up in 4th place.

One Bible Bowl team was called back for a tie-breaker, which means they're in the top 15.

Austin's picture, Spencer's chest, and Shanea's scrapbook are all finalists.

Shane placed 5th in the 800.

Tomorrow morning the closing ceremonies begin at 8:25 Eastern time.  I'll be up watching the live feed if anyone wants to come join me.

Also, Kayla and I are scheduled to drive to Portland to pick up the whole crew when they come in around 10 pm tomorrow.  However, I'm looking for someone to drive the van up for me.  Ben has a concert and I'd really like to be there for all of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ISC Update 5

Oops!  The live feed on Thursday is at 8:25 a.m and not pm as I had posted.  Which certainly means setting your alarm clock if you live in Oregon.

Steven missed qualifying for the 200 meter dash by .13 second.

ISC Update 4

The basketball team won two more games and will play two more tomorrow, which means they will end up somewhere in first to fourth place.

They had qualifying heats for the running events, and the top 8 get to run in the final event tomorrow.  Shane qualified for the 800.  Steven decided to run in the 200 and not the 400, and had the best time in his group, but there were 5 groups, so he doesn't know yet if he was in the top 8.

Paul's sister Barb is there for the day.  She brought her friend Jennifer, who has a daughter at the convention.  She was there for Shanea and Alicia's duet and will also be there for Steven, Isaiah, and Cody's trio.

Paul is getting a sunburn.

Monday, May 21, 2012

ISC update 3

Trenton sprained his ankle playing basketball on Saturday.  As I understand, it was just a fun game with some local college guys, but the sprain was bad enough that no one knew if he could play any "real" games, and the nurse at the first aid booth thought he should see a doctor.

However, by this morning he was able to play, and they won their first game 41-14.

Paul is happy with how the small ensemble and group Bible speaking events went.  They're up against 12 other teams in group Bible speaking, and 27 in basketball.

 The track and field events are on Tuesday, with "field" (long jump, shot put etc) in the morning and "track" in the afternoon.  We'll see if Steven does as well in the 400 meter dash as he did at regionals, where he didn't train ahead of time and loped casually along far ahead of all the others.

The male trio sings at 4 pm Tuesday.

Basketball and table tennis continue.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

ISC update 2

(This is for the benefit of family and friends following the students' adventures at convention.)

Sunday morning the group will be at a Wesleyan Methodist church where they will share their group Bible speaking, small ensemble song, and male trio song.

The first big rally is Sunday evening.

If you want to follow the live stream online, go to

Or click here.

Live-stream dates and times are: [all Eastern time]
Sunday 10:00 am
Sunday 5:30 pm
Monday 6:45 pm
Tuesday 6:45 pm
Wednesday 6:15 pm
Thursday 8:25 A.M. [not PM!!  Sorry, my mistake!]

Monday's activities and events are as follows:
8:30 &8:40--two Bible bowl teams compete; table tennis begins
11:20--small ensemble
11:50--group Bible speaking
1:00pm--female duet

ISC update 1

Yesterday Paul, Brent & Rita Baker, and 11 students left for the ACE International Student Convention in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

The video is at the Portland airport.

They got to the airport and through check-in and security in plenty of time despite the hand-wringing of the moms on the sidelines who thought Paul's pre-trip admonitions were taking far too long.

Brent and two others offered to get bumped on the Chicago-Pittsburgh flight and earned some nice vouchers that anyone in the group can use in the next year.

They spent the night in a motel and were heading for the convention today.  Paul found a friend of a friend through his college/Wesleyan Methodist connections who had a van and was willing to transport them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

That Strange Medical World

I have a theory: the medical world is its own weird universe.

No offense to all my nurse and doctor and medical assistant friends and relatives.  You are all wonderful people.

I am talking about The System.

It is one strange world.

Take, for example:

1. They are so secretive about how much something is going to cost.  And you aren't supposed to ask.  If you ask, it's like in an abusive family, where you are the bad person and everyone looks at you and gasps because you said Those Words that no one in this family says, like, "We have a problem."  Or, in this case, when you say, "How much will this cost?" as they take your family member back to get the gash stitched.

2. They are so phenomenally compartmentalized and specialized.  When I took Mom and Dad to St. Cloud on Monday to have Mom looked at in the Orthopedics building, we first passed the "Vein" building, the "Pain" building, and a bunch more.  I know the "Urinary" building (or maybe it's a kinder term like "Renal") was around there somewhere because Dad went there last year.

3. I couldn't find the Orthopedics building among all the others, so I parked the car and called the number on the little card.  I said, "I can't seem to find this building.  Can you tell me where you're located?"

And the receptionist said, "What is your date of birth?"

I am not kidding.

Imagine, the next time you call Napa Auto Parts and say, "Where on Highway 99 are you located?" and the guy says, "What is your date of birth?"

I said, "You can't just tell me how to find you?  I'm trying to bring my mom in for an appointment."

She sounded miffed, like I had insulted her.  She said, of course, "What is your mom's date of birth?"

I told her.

She said, grudgingly, "Keep going north.  We're just south of the water tower."


4. The signs.

 I read this one over about 5 times and it still said what it did the first time.

5. Everything is documented.

I have been accused of documenting my life in unnecessary detail on this blog, but folks, I have nothing, NOTHING, on the medical world.

Every eensy-weensy detail about Mom had to go ON HER CHART, including private details that I didn't think were anyone's business but hers.

I happened to read a notebook in the lobby that contained the results of a random inspection of the nursing home.  There was a big write-up about a patient who was wearing thick pink socks, and the inspector inquired about this, and it turned out the patient preferred socks to shoes, and always kicked her shoes off, which was fine, but IT HAD NOT BEEN ENTERED ON HER CHART.


Quote of the Day:
"So you're like Angelina Jolie?"
--Ekenna Anya-Gafu, the guy ahead of me waiting to get on the plane in Minneapolis, when I saw his North Dakota football tag hanging on his backpack and asked about his name, and he said it's Nigerian, and I said we adopted a Kenyan orphan.  I think I had asked a bit loud and slow like you do to people who don't know English, and he grinned a bit and said in perfect American English, "Actually, I was born in California. My dad came from Nigeria."  Embarrassing.  He was a nice young man who dressed more like a North Dakota farmer than an inner-city California guy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wild Times in the Midwest

I have a new appreciation for people who go sing at nursing homes.

Last week one day 85 fourth graders from the elementary school just down the street from the Manor came over and sang.  They had learned a series of songs about African-Americans such as Jesse Owens, Benjamin Banneker, and Ella Fitzgerald.

I think the older people enjoyed all those friendly young faces as much as the singing.

There was exactly one African-American child in that bunch and I wondered if she felt just a bit conspicuous.

And I imagined a Southern or inner-city elementary school, with an 84-to-1 ratio of black to white kids, learning a series of songs about the contributions of Scandinavians to the United States.  Charles Lindbergh, Garrison Keillor, Carl Sandburg, and so on.

On Mothers Day a local family performed.  Between the mom and the kids they sang and also played a guitar, banjo, violin, and two other instruments I don't remember the names of.  The boys were neatly dressed and the girls had long hair and modest dresses, and they reminded me so much of my children, whom I was missing terribly, that I could hardly keep from bubbling over in tears.

The lovely "elderly Emily" stood behind me with her walker during this concert and was absolutely entranced.  She started bouncing and dancing the best she could with the music, and then she cut loose with the sort of high-pitched WOOOO! you'd expect out of 14-year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert.  After half a dozen of these outbursts she nudged me on the shoulder.  "Aren't they fabulous?  Here, this is what you do--you say WOOOH! like that.  You do it--WOOOOH!!"

I didn't do it.

You know how I said I'd feel techy if I always hung out at the nursing home?  Well, I'd feel like a good singer too, amazingly enough.  I went to the morning service with Mom and realized that just by virtue of being Mennonite and under age 80 I could carry along with the old hymns better than almost everyone else in the crowd.

The service was conducted by a local farmer with a moustache the size of a half grown cat and a heart for the elderly who is such a farmer that he opened the service with an update on the crops--"We got all da corn in da ground, and mosta da beans, three weeks earlier den normal."  Most of the old guys are former farmers, judging by the bulletin boards by their rooms with pictures of old Farmalls, so they ate this up.

Today Mom had an appointment with the orthopedist, about an hour away.  Dad wanted to go along, so I undertook this adventure.  The doctors are very happy with how Mom is progressing, and they took the staples out of her incision.

This isn't her x-ray, but shows the sort of machinery they used to put her bones back together.  Amazing.  And no wonder it hurt.

All the in-and-out, transferring, explaining, and so on with two old people reminded me of going to town with small children.

Although it's easier with small children because you can pick them up and put them in a stroller or shopping cart.  And their hearing is better.

Sunday, May 13, 2012



 Today's column is about moms, of course, and my mom in particular.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Current Minnesota Life

 This afternoon I brought Dad in to see Mom and we went out in this beautiful courtyard/rock garden.  The weather was amazing.

Dad was so curious about where the water for the waterfalls came from that he disobeyed the rules.


"Ach, Dad!"

*     *     *

This morning I put lunch in the crock pot for Dad, wiped the counters, gathered some stuff to read, and was all ready to go spend the day with Mom when my cell phone rang.  A young man said, "Uh, is this Dorcas? Smucker?"

I said it was.

"Yeah, well I have a delivery for you and I can't find your place.  It's like 365-something?"

I said, "Where are you now?"

He said, "I'm in Grove City."

Mom and Dad are about 10 miles from Grove City, on a dirt road with a number but not a name.

I tried to explain this to the driver, a bit desperately, since I knew the word "delivery" on the day before Mother's Day probably meant One Thing, and I wasn't going to miss it.

He was very confused and hardly knew where Highway 4 was.

The call was lost.

I called him back and explained further.

And waited.

Finally I called again.  He should have arrived 10 minutes ago.

He had turned the wrong way on 365th Street and was relieved to hear from me.  He said, "You deserve like, a lot of thanks, and a hug."

Finally he arrived.  He looked about 16.  I asked him about his tough time getting there.  "Don't you have MapQuest or Google Maps?" I said, in utter disbelief that I was giving tech advice to a teenager.

He said, "I have Google, but this address wouldn't show up."  He added, "I was so angry.  And then I like, prayed a little bit, and then I got here."

He gave me a beautiful bouquet.  It was from Matt.  I was very happy.

I have been feeling very techy.

Mom has a roommate here at the Manor who is into watching TV.  With the sound turned on about as high as it can go.  It is profoundly irritating.

Mom said, in Dutch, "Those people, on that TV...they aren't very careful with their bodies."

Um. Yeah.

Mom told me not to tell anyone that the TV noise bothered her when she wanted to take a nap.  Very typical Mom behavior, of course.

But the nurses caught on that it bothered her, and told "Gladys" to turn it down.  She was upset, but complied, and then as soon as the nurses left, she turned it up again.

I had an idea.  Surely they had headphones around here somewhere.

I mentioned this to the nurse.  She thought it was a brilliant idea, and shared it with the other nurse, and she too thought it was brilliant, and they went hunting.

Pretty soon one nurse, who is younger than me I'm sure, was sitting on Gladys's bed trying to figure out the manual for a wireless headset.

The other nurse said she has no clue how to help her.

Finally it worked.  Peace at last.

And then I had yet another tech-brilliant moment today.

Mom wanted to stay in bed all morning because they did therapy early and she was so tired.  So I sat on a chair beside the bed and read.  Mom said her feet are cold and she misses her rice bag that she microwaves and takes to bed at home.  I determined to bring it tomorrow, and then I had my bright idea.

My laptop was sitting there charging up, so I put the cord across the foot end of the bed and placed that converter box thing right by Mom's feet.  You know how warm that gets?  It worked perfectly for the job.

If I lived in a nursing home or with my folks instead of a houseful of teenagers, I would feel very tech smart all the time.

*     *     *

Who would have thought you could have so many first-time experiences in a nursing home?

There is a sweet elderly woman here who looks and acts like I think Emily will look and act if she ever gets old and has dementia.

This lady is very trim and always dressed up in neat clothes, with a red blazer, and she always wears a hat.  She wanders up and down the halls with silk flowers tucked in the corners of her walker.

She always has something to say, clearly and articulately, with none of the fumbling for words that so many older people have, including Mom, who doesn't have Alzheimers but just can't come up with the right words.

Last evening when I was leaving I met "Emily" in the hallway.  She turned to me and said, clear and sure,

Quote of the Day:
"You and I are the best-looking and the most anxious women in town."

[That had never happened to me before.]

Friday, May 11, 2012


I have become aware that when I see a person in a wheelchair, with another person pushing, I tend to say hello to the pusher.

Here at the Koronis Manor, when I'm pushing Mom in her wheelchair, the workers all look at Mom and smile and say hello.

I think I've just learned something.

*     *     *
This is a nice nursing home.  The people are super friendly, in that Minnesota way but with an extra measure.  Everyone is so kind and helpful.

And it smells clean.  You know that nursing home smell?  Well you don't smell it here.  I don't know what their secret is, but it's a huge blessing.

And yet.

This is a very depressing place.

Suppertime.  Mom and four elderly gentlemen around a square table.  They are wheeled in and then they sit and wait.  They wear towelly bibs.

People do an awful lot of sitting here, I've noticed.

The four at this table don't talk with each other.  Mom isn't up to conversation and the others...I don't know.  The one always forgets his hearing aids, I know that.

George sits to Mom's left.  He speaks German and is pretty sharp so we have had some fun conversations.

The guy to the right always struggles with fastening his towel.  I offered to help him, once, but he has enough dignity left that I hesitate to be too helpful.

They eat with varying degrees of neatness and then they wait helplessly to be wheeled back to their rooms.

It seems to me that God's original plan was for people to stay young, and then when Adam and Eve messed that one up, the plan was that people would grow old surrounded by their children and grandchildren, and familiar smells, and personal care from sons and daughters, and sitting on the porch swing to snap green beans, and the cat going to sleep beside you, and people dropping by to chat, and children running in with dandelion bouquets.

Then you have Real Life, and broken hips that need professional care, and daughters with families of their own living 2000 miles away.

So we do the best we can in a fallen and broken world.

*     *     *
When I first went to Oregon years ago, little Marcus Schrock would say, at the supper table, "Hey Dorcas, say 'about.'"  And I would say "about," and he would laugh and laugh.  I could never see what was so funny.

Now, coming back to Minnesota, I understand.

I'll bet if I lived here for a year, I'd pick it up again and never notice.

Last night the ladies at the next table had a very interesting conversation going on in an accent that was pronounced even for Minnesota:

Quotes of the Day:
"Well, Grandma had ten children!  Oh ya!" . . ."They said we can't marry because we're related and I said, 'Are we Finnish?'". . ."We were watching TV and she stepped right in front of us so we couldn't see. . . Oh ya!"
I wish I could have heard the rest of the conversation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Rain, Mom, stuff

It was raining when we landed in Minneapolis.  The pilot mentioned this before hand.

I talked to my sister Rebecca on the phone.  She said it was raining in these odd sporadic little showers all afternoon.

I caught the shuttle to St. Cloud.  The driver said he may have to drive slower than normal, because of this rain.  The blond guy in the front passenger seat who works on oil wells in Alaska said, "Yeah, what's with this wet stuff?"

Today when I took Mom to her therapy session, two of the therapists were talking about it.  "Did you have rain at your house last night?"  "I had pouring rain at my house.  And hail.  I couldn't believe it."

Something struck me as odd about all this conversation.  Suddenly I realized what it was:

In Oregon, people do not talk about rain.

Really, why would you mention rain?

We talk about sunshine.

In winter we call them "sun breaks," and we go to the window and just LOOK.  On sunny spring days, store clerks moan about having to work inside and they tell you to go out and enjoy the day.  When you call your friend Rita or Arlene to ask about food for Sunday night, one of you says, "Isn't this sunshine amazing?" and the other says, "Yes, I spent the day working in the flower beds.  It was just wonderful."

Today the sun shone here in Minnesota.  It was just wonderful.

*     *     *

Mom is in the nursing home.  I think she should still be in the hospital but you know how they shoo you out of the hospital these days.  So she's in the nursing home for rehab.  Today I took Rebecca to catch the same shuttle out of St. Cloud, and then I spent a bunch of time with Mom, and went to the house (10 miles) and took a little nap and then brought Dad in until he got bored and sleepy, then I took him back and cooked supper, then dashed back in for supper and a walk outside, pushing Mom in her wheelchair.

Based on the info Rebecca handed off to me, I'm guessing Mom had 10% less pain today and was 10% more alert.

And now I'm at the Hilltop Cafe and need to get back to Dad.

Quote of the Day:
"Oooh, zeite veis."
--Mom, when Dad asked if her leg hurts.  It means "occasionally" but is an odd German phrase.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


Living a successful life with healthy relationships requires sacrifice.

(You know that.)

A college student forgoing the party to study for a test, a wife forgiving the thoughtless husband instead of nursing a grudge, a mom giving up a night of sleep to help the barfing children.

How difficult these sacrifices are depends on the person and of course, if you have any sort of character, you don't go around fishing for recognition for how much you sacrificed. Noble duty and honor and all that.

I have made my share of sacrifices in my life.  Not much compared to some people but who's keeping track?

This is the thing--it is the dumbest little sacrifices that are the hardest for me.

Teaching on a far-off Indian reservation, for example.  On every furlough there were people who treated us like we were Adoniram Judson, hanging upside down in prison to bring the Gospel to the Burmese.

When in reality I loved life on the reservation and the thought of living in the Willamette Valley terrified me.

But one of the hardest things was not having fresh fruit, especially strawberries in early summer.  Oooooh, how I longed for strawberries.  And for acorn squash, when I was pregnant.

See?  Such noble sacrifice.

As you know I have made numerous treks back to Mom and Dad's in Minnesota in the last year.  Now, three weeks after I left, I'm going back for a week.  I leave Tuesday morning.

So the 3 a.m. treks to the airport, alone, are hard, and leaving my family for a week, and not having internet or decent cell phone service there, and missing out on the kids' events, and coming home to sticky handles in the kitchen and no groceries in the house and just a general neglect and chaos and backlog that takes me weeks of scrambling to dig out from.

I can deal with all that because I do what needs to be done.

But last year when Mom hurt her ankles I went back to Minnesota and oh, the terrible heartache, I missed out on the Halsey garage sales.

And if you don't know what the Halsey garage sales are, then your life is not complete.

On the way back from the airport I just caught the tail end, stopping at Jessi's just as they were packing up, desperately wanting some lovely little something, anything, please, and then I went to Sharon's where she was also packing up, and I paid $2 for a little teapot I didn't need, and it just felt like the Terrible Unfairness of Life.

So this Tuesday I sally forth again, at this most inconvenient time of year, and this time I'll miss out on graduation and the school picnic and Rosie's choir singing at Quail Run and Mother's Day with my children and Paul's birthday.

I can live with that.

I mean, it's hard, but that's life, and I need to go be with my mom and dad.

But--and here my heart says Let This Cup Pass From Me--I am missing out on a week of sunshine.

I looked it up on Accuweather.  After this typical Oregon spring, and endless clouds and rain, and all these months of waiting, and of bundling up in layers of leggings and corduroy to survive the damp coldness, it's supposed to be sunny and in the 60s and 70s the entire time I am gone, and then right after I come home it goes back to rainy and damp and cloudy.

And I just want to weep because that feels like way way way too much to give up.

Quote of the Day:
[Driving through Halsey on the way home from church, where signs from yesterday's sales still dotted the sidewalks]
Me: When I see a Yard Sale sign, it says to me, "Come this way; if you will just follow me, you will find a lovely treasure that will completely fulfill your desires and satisfy your soul for the next three months."
Jenny:  When I see a sign, I think, "Somebody just has a lot of junk and they try to make the sign look so appealing to make up for it."
Ben: When I see a sign, I think, "Oh please please, drive on, Mom, don't see that, don't see that."

Friday, May 04, 2012

The (Semi) Conclusion of the Whole Matter

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to comment on my last post about dealing with hurt feelings.  You had some great insights and helped me make sense of things.  It's so good to know I'm not the only one who wrestles with these things.

At this point I'm waiting for God to open doors, as PC suggested.

I hate to leave things unresolved, but:
--I felt that I was too motivated by a desire for justice for myself, and to be heard and understood.
--I "happened" (providentially) to have a conversation that shed much more light on the background of this and made me realize this person has issues that go deeper than anything I could address in a simple conversation.
--Also, the risk for things becoming ugly is higher than I had realized.
--Paul feels he may need to speak up on my behalf, and has put out a preliminary fleece.

Meanwhile, I've had lots of other things to think about, which can be overwhelming but in cases like this can also be a mercy, to give you some perspective.

My friend Sharon and I fed two meals to about 175 people at the ACE Northwest Regional Junior Convention, a gathering of 8-13-year-old children from Christian schools in Oregon and Washington.
These four high school guys helped out.  They couldn't tie their own aprons in back but they could sure lift and carry and stir and serve and mop and a lot more which we were very grateful for.

Five of the kids from our school attended, participating in lots of events such as photography, Bible quizzes, a Lego competition, and much more.  Jenny sang a solo and won the poetry-writing event.

The theme of the three-day event was the fruit of the Spirit, and at the last "rally," the director announced that someone from Brownsville Mennonite came up to him and said she knows a song about the fruit of the Spirit, so he's going to have her and her friend come up and teach it to everyone.

So to my great surprise Jenny and her friend Kaitlyn marched up front.  Mr. Johnson held the microphone in front of Jenny as she proceeded to confidently teach her song to all 200 people.  "Ok, we'll sing it through once and then you can all stand up and sing with us."

She had learned it from Amy's friends in Jamaica, who often sang it to the little foster kids before they put them to bed.

It's a fun song, with these crazy sound effects--"The fruit of the Spirit's not a coconut," and then you tap your head and click your tongue with a hollow sound, and then proceed to sing what the fruit of the Spirit actually is--LoveJoyPeacePatienceKindness...etc etc.

The fruit of the Spirit is also not a Georgia Peach, which is simpered in an exaggerated Southern accent, with a little feminine wave of the hand beside the face.  Jenny reported that the male sponsors in the crowd refused to add this little touch.

At the end of the song, Mr. Johnson said, "Have you ever been to Georgia?"
Jenny said, "No."
He said, "Well, you sure do that Georgia Peach part right."

I was a very proud mom.

Halfway through the convention I got the awful news that my mom had fallen and there was an ambulance on its way to take her to the hospital.

She had been in the kitchen and felt dizzy and fell hard.  Dad came in from the barn and found her.  Her hip was broken and they did surgery that night.

My sister Rebecca flew to Minnesota a few days later.  Mom is now in a nursing home for rehab.  It's amazing she's survived all this, at age 91.  She is slowly recovering but is weak and in a lot of pain, especially when they do therapy.

So we have some huge decisions to make regarding Mom and Dad's long-term care.  These things are difficult at the best of times, but when you have two independent, determined people in their 90s who just really really want to stay home, it is just plain HARD.

I'll probably be going to Minnesota again soon, and for the 2000th time, I wish I did not live 2000 miles away.

What we really need is a grandchild who wants to move in with them.  Or a miraculous solution dropping from the skies.

Quote of the Day:
Steven: [saying grace before supper] . . . and please send us sunshine if it's Your will. . .
Ben: [after the Amen of course] Maybe you should specify continual sunshine because we do get sunshine but it's like for ten minutes at a time.
Paul: God understands what you mean even if you're not specific.
Jenny: That's one way God isn't like Dad.