A landmark month…

I don’t like admitting it, but I really don’t like the month of December. Oh, when my kids were young I really got into the whole Christmas thing…the shopping, the decorating, the baking etc; In fact, I’m sure that’s where my kids get their love of Christmas from. They’ve shared with me on more than one occasion their fond memories of Christmas celebrations past. They, all three, have carried on the tradition of decorating their homes inside and out, having tons of presents under the tree, the ornament collection, the belief in Santa Claus, the holiday baking with goodie trays given to their friends and family members etc;

But that being said, December has become a bit of a “blue month” for me. I’m not one to focus on the negative nor to wallow in self-pity but I admit I do struggle in December.

#1) 18 years ago today, I lost my dad. Yep, you got it right…my “dad” died on Christmas eve. He was my step-dad, but he was the only dad I’d known since I was five years old. You’d think I’d be over his loss, but I hadn’t spent any real quality time with him for several years prior to his passing due to events far to lengthy to explain in this post. Suffice it to say, the longer he’s gone the more the good memories come to the forefront and the easier it is to forget the bad. I miss those good times we had!

#2) Too many miles & tight finances separate me from two of my three grown children – and the holidays are always so much better when you can be with family. Needless to say, we will not be together for Christmas this year. The upside is that we did get to spend Thanksgiving together (Two of my three and two of my hubby’s four were here)…which made for a joyful entry into this “blue December”.

#3) 1 year ago on the 18th of December my grown son and I had a “falling out”. I know..life’s too short. I will spare you the details but just know I pray about the situation daily and am trusting that the Lord will work it out. This situation has added to my “blue mood” this year.

#4) As I hard as I try to be supportive to my hubby at this time of the year – he also lost his dad (whom I never met) 22 years ago in December. It is sometimes difficult to comfort someone you love who is suffering when you also are suffering grief and despair!! Of course, many of you already know that it was just last year (2013) that my mother-in-law and brother-in-law passed away. Fortunately, not in the month of December, but my husband has had an unusually difficult time this year more so than last year for some reason.

So, as I was praying and pondering all the sad moments and talking to my Savior, He reminded me of some good times I’d experienced in December. The one that stands out the most in my mind was 5 years ago December 16th.

#5) My oldest brother, Jim was released from prison after being incarcerated 32 years for a crime he didn’t commit!! Just three months earlier I had plead Jim’s case before the parole board in Michigan and it was with cautious optimism that we awaited their decision. Our baby brother, John and I took a trip to Michigan to pick Jim up and take him home to North Dakota to be with our mom. It was an awesome trip and the very first time we three siblings had EVER been together!! We took our time traveling by car from Michigan to North Dakota and shared many meals, laughs etc; It was fun to watch Jim’s reaction to the world around him as a free man. His niece (my daughter) had me give him his first cell phone so he could call her and say “hello” as a free man. Once we arrived at mom’s home it was a tearful reunion. Jim, John, and I walked and drove thru neighborhoods enjoying all the cheery Christmas light displays. We went shopping and got Jim outfitted with some clothes, groceries he preferred etc; The last few days leading up to Christmas after John had returned home to Florida, Jim and I spent getting him signed up for any services he qualified for and going to the Parole office.

The best part of the whole story is that Jim is truly a FREE MAN today. He has been home for 5 years now. He has his own place, his own transportation, a cute little mutt named Irish that is truly his baby and no longer has to report to a parole officer!! He is truly a FREE MAN and has made me very proud. I always believed (as he promised) that he would do things right “if” he ever got out and he has done so!

I’m choosing today to remember those good memories from 5 years ago rather than the sad ones of 18 years ago. Mom is 90 years old and still ticking. Jim and Irish are doing great. I have two daughters and many grandchildren that love me. I have a husband that would walk through fire to save me. And I have a church family and a Lord that think I’m pretty special too! What do I have to be blue about?

When I woke up this morning with a sad 19 yr. old memory on my mind…I said a prayer of gratitude, put oldies on the radio and sat down at my sewing machine. It was a very therapeutic time to say the least! Now, I’m looking forward to leaving on a little R & R trip with my hubby on Saturday. We will spend Sat. evening with 3 grandsons and family in the Austin area and then it’s off to Kerrville, Texas for a little sight seeing, antiquing, etc; We return to ring in the New Year with our church family.

Holiday blessings my blogging buddies! May you and yours have a glorious Christmas and New Year!

I am NOT my mother – or at least (in my dreams) I’m NOT!

My mother could be quite abusive when I was growing up.  She was physically, verbally and psychologically abusive from time to time – but I never thought of her that way until very much later in life.  She is still alive and 90 years old.  I haven’t seen her in person for the last five years, but here’s a pic of her today: ImageMy brother sent me this picture.  I was terribly shocked when I saw it!! My mom always kept herself up!  Her hair was always done, makeup just right, nails always polished etc;  Mom lives in North Dakota. (I live in Texas).

Don’t get me wrong – I love my  mother.  I’ve always loved her, even after I became an adult, addressed some of the “abuse issues” and recognized her shortcomings.  She did the best she could with what she had to work with.  Her upbringing wasn’t so great either.  I’m not excusing her negative behavior – just recognizing it for what it is.  

For as long as I can remember, I did not want to be like my mother. Primarily because of her “negative personality traits”. I really feel awful when those traits manifest themselves in me!! But it most cases – I really and truly – AM NOT MY MOTHER!

1) My mother has never sold a thing in her life. (I love to sell and have made a decent living selling everything from toys, home decor, furniture to insurance). Mom was a waitress almost her entire life. I think she was in her 70’s before she quit waiting tables.
2) My mother never dieted her entire life. Although she was never what I would consider overweight until she was over 40 – she has been ever since. No matter – she was happy just the way she was. You never heard the word “diet” leave her lips and she ate what she wanted always. (Not this girl! I started having weight issues when I started having children – and it’s been a daily battle ever since.)
3) My mother wasn’t “crafty” and hated sewing! She always worked outside the home, and when she was home you would find her tending to the needs of her family or watching TV. (I, on the other hand, have always loved crafts, sewing, gardening, decorating etc;) In fact, I recall at Christmas time mom wouldn’t decorate the house – so I would get whatever junk I could find in the house to decorate with so our home had a more “festive” flair during the holidays.
4) My mother doesn’t read. (I love to read and read every day! I read fiction and non-fiction alike and always have at least one book I’m reading). The only thing I ever witnessed my mother reading was the newspaper! I don’t think I ever saw her read a Women’s magazine – and I know I never witnessed her reading an actual book.
5) My mother wasn’t a “social butterfly” as I have so often been accused of being. Mom was a “workhorse” with a strong work ethic but beyond work and her home she didn’t do much. She definately didn’t “get together with the girls” ever, that I recall. She didn’t have a lot of close friends and everything she did outside of work and home she did with her husband.
6) My mom never baked cookies – or anything else for that matter! She was a good cook but my birthday cake was always from the bakery when I was growing up! (I love to bake and bake often. In fact, you will find me baking every day in December to make up goodie trays for friends. I baked with my kids when they were little and I now bake with the grandkids.)
7) My mom was not a church going woman. The only time I saw her darken the doorway of a church was when I was (as a child) singing in the choir. (She and dad would leave right after I was done singing). I went to church with playmates that had invited me and that early experience planted a hunger in me for the things of God and for church! (I’ve been more “in” than “out” of church for the past 30 years now – and am in church 3 times a week currently.)

For brevity’s sake I won’t go on about all the ways my mother and I aren’t alike…but would like to expound more on all the ways WE ARE ALIKE.

1) My mom & I are both very affectionate! If she knows you and likes you == get ready – cause a big wet sloppy “smooch” (as she would call it) is coming your way! We love to kiss and hug and hold the ones we love. It’s really kinda weird cause neither of my grown daughters are the “kissy, feely” type even though they got plenty of affection as children.
2) My mom & I both love to “nurture” with food. It’s the way we show our love for our family and friends. I get a great deal of comfort from knowing my pantry and frig are full and that I can whip something up if we get company. Mom always had a snack cupboard for the grandkids when they came over and was always cooking for her family.
3) My mom can be harsh, short-spoken, judgemental & snarky! I don’t like the adjectives, but this is the one I have battled all my life. I know I’ve offended friends and family by being too short-spoken or blunt at times! I hate that!! I’ve credited it to being brutally honest – which makes it more of a thing of pride. Well, I’m here to say, honest or not – it’s still not nice. I’ve worked very hard on this character trait that I inherited from my mom and I know it’s improved. It’s probably played a crucial role in why I am a believer now and try to stay “prayed up”. I recognize my inability to change the inner man without God’s help.
4) My mom instilled in me good grooming. She advised me to keep myself “fixed up” for my hubby – not laying around the house in sweats and always making sure my hair was done, and my clothes were pressed.
5) Mom and I both have a very solid work ethic! She was always a hard worker and extremely responsible about not calling in sick unless absolutely necessary. I emulate her in this regard.
6) My mom was a mother at 17. I was a mother at 18. Alcoholism and the abuse that comes along with it have played a big role in the women we are today.
7) Last but definately not least – I pray that I have my mother’s health history and have 30 more years to live – so that I can rectify some of the wrongs I’m done (see #3). Here’s what mom and I looked like 10 years ago when we traveled up North to celebrate her 80th birthday:
Mom & Linda 2004

Sorry for the “scrapbook” image – My hubby Jerry and I are pictured with mom on the left. My baby sister and I are pictured with her on the right.

Suffice it to say, I miss mom. But after seeing the pic that my brother Jim sent – I’m not sure I want to see her in the condition she is currently in. I would much rather remember her with her hair done, makeup on, smiling at the camera. What do you think?

Praise the Lord! Granny is now dancing on streets of gold!

“And the twelve gates of the city were twelve pearls; each single gate was made from one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:21

There is some debate on whether or not there will be “literal” streets of gold in Heaven. That fact aside, my 92 yr.. old mother-in-law passed from this earth at 3:10 am this morning.

It just never ceases to amaze me at how God works. Granny has been in my care for the past two years. This week she was at the Hospice house for a 5 day break. Every 30 days (approx.) we would send her for “respite”. She was supposed to come home this afternoon. Instead, she went to her heavenly home at 3:10 this morning.

God knew that Granny and I both did not want her to die here in our home. She didn’t want me to have that final memory. Isn’t that neat how God spared me that sad memory and how Granny got her wish?

For the past 2 months, my husband & I have been praying, fasting and working diligently to try and save the possible loss of a major client he’s had for 21 years. Our income would be negatively affected in a drastic way if we lost the account. We received word just 2 weeks ago that we would not be enrolling them this week as planned and that they have chosen to go somewhere else for their benefits this year. Since we’ve recieved that information we have been shuffling our schedules and figuring out ways we would still be able to take care of Granny and do more outside (income producing) work. Isn’t it amazing how God just freed up our schedules so that we could do what we need to take care of the needs of our household?

The jury is still out on exactly what that will be for either of us, but we will seek God for direction and not do anything impulsive or make any major decisions on the direction we should go during this time of heavy heartedness.

I had planned to go to our church’s monthly bible study today at Noon, called Women of Worth. I will still be going to draw from the strength of my sisters in Christ.

My husband and I have laughed and cried this morning. We are joyous, yet overwhelmed. Granny’s in a much better place and suffering no more. We believe that, with all our heart.

I will close with this story: Her oldest son passed away last March. He was my husband’s only brother.
See my post from March 27th entitled “A Good Man”. We did not share his passing with Granny. Her mental state and health was (in our’s and Hospice opinion) too precarious. When she would get upset with my hubby for something he had done or information he had withheld from her she would always call him a “dirty bugger”. This morning when she crossed over she was greeted at the gate not only by her husband, but by her oldest son. My husband heard her say, “you dirty bugger, why didn’t you tell me he was here?”

RIP Bertha Mae Stevens – you will be sorely missed.

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