Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Trip No One Looks Forward To, But....

When we take a trip, it's something that we usually look forward to, or are at least excited about. Last week, however, I took a trip that no one looks forward to. It's a trip that you may simultaneously want to take and not want to take... but you never look forward to it.

The reason you don't look forward to it, is because it's the journey of the last good-bye.

How do I share all the things going through my heart and head... I knew it was coming, but I kept hoping that it wouldn't. It isn't that I haven't had time to prepare, I have had nearly 10 months, if I am honest with myself.

It was 10 months ago that my stepmom passed away, and at that point my dad felt that his job was complete and he was ready to go, anytime God was ready to take him. I know this, because he told me it at that time. I am the eternal optimist, and I wanted to think he would change his mind and that he would decide to try to gain strength. But at 91 years old he had made up his mind. He wasn't going to do anything to shorten his time, but he wasn't going to try to extend it, even though he knew if he exercised he could get stronger.

Let me share a bit of background--

I love my dad, and he has shared with me many times that he has felt doubly blessed in life. First, he was married to my mom for 40 years... the last 3 were spent watching over her as the demon of Alzheimer's stripped her to a mere shell of the amazing mom that I remember. He did his best to juggle taking care of her and running the small sewing machine store that was to be their retirement business (they had moved from my childhood home to Longview, WA just a few short years before she was diagnosed). Finally the disease had progressed far enough that she had to be moved to a nursing home... During her time there, my dad went and spent time with her everyday. On those rare occasions that he couldn't go, he saw to it that one of their friends could. Yes, he took care to make sure she had someone near that loved her. She went home to the Lord in 1994.



Forward 6 years, he meets Carol, an amazing woman, very different than my mom but such a perfect match for him. She literally saved his life during their courtship period by getting him to the ER where they gave him an IV of Antibiotic... if she hadn't taken him to the ER, then we would have lost him in about 20 years ago... instead, he was blessed with a 2nd marriage to a wonderful lady that I loved very much. We used to tease that it was an "online romance," they had 'met' online, in a Lion's chatroom. Though they did have real-life friends in common. They were married on a January day, and it brought a smile to my heart that my dad had found love again. (I pray that I am so blessed.) I was also blessed with a big sister through this union, and what a blessing she has been!!

During their marriage they traveled and lived, life together, They cared for each other, and when one was ill the other stepped up, including 3 years ago when my dad began to bleed internally and had to be resuscitated. - He woke up and thought, "Why is this guy beating me up?" He recovered from that and got better. When Carol began to grow more frail, I watched my dad, once again go into the mode of protector. He knew that the Lord was keeping him around to take care of her.

Now forward to the present... Once Carol had passed he then felt his job was done. Now he is ready to go, the same thing that almost took him 3 years ago, now has happened again, he is bleeding internally... this time he isn't worried about being here to take care of anyone. His only thought when I spoke to him 10 days ago was to let us know; If any of us wanted to see him, sooner would be better than later. This gave me my directive... make it happen!!

I had been planning on going up at the end of the month, but I then knew I needed to move my trip up sooner, or not be able to say good-bye to my dad. I also then began to do what I could to reach my 4 brothers. At the time of reaching out to everyone, they were spread over 3 states. My dad lives in WA and 2 brothers live in OR as do I, one brother was in AZ and one in AK. But I am so glad to say that they made it, everyone got there to say good-bye and spend some time with him. In addition, 6 of his  grandchildren and 5 of his great-grandchildren made it also. For the first time since the loss of our mother 24 years ago, all 5 of us were in the same place at the same time. My dad was so happy!! 

Even though he was tired during the time we were visiting, he was so happy to see everyone, he shared stories, and got a bit of one-on-one time with everyone. At times he was just simply happy to have everyone there and talking together. It was, a happy, crazy, loud, and sad time... and I wouldn't trade the ability to have that gathering for anything.

Yes, it was the trip that no one looks forward to, but they are happy that they make it. At least I am happy that I did.

I am now calling my dad everyday now, he sounds weaker by the day, and I know that, one day, very soon, he won't be there to answer. Until then, I will look forward to the sound of his voice one more time. 

When it's all over, I will have my memories of him. He was the man that taught me what love and respect were, and showed me the kind of man I wanted to marry, and I did. He demonstrated a life of service that I have tried to show my children. He and my mother, took us to church my whole childhood, a place where I first began to love God. As an adult, I no longer attend that church of my childhood, but church and the Lord are a major part of my life... It is the Lord first and everything else after that.

My parting thought here, you we need show those that you love how much you care when you can. And above all else, if you have a chance to do it... make "That trip."

Blessings!
Prairiemouse....
A.K.A Mary


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Changes and New Chapters

I began a new chapter journey in my life without Glenn this month... I moved into a new home, one that I was able to purchase through God's grace. It is something I wouldn't have thought possible 4 years ago.

Let me take you back to the end of the 'last chapter' and start of this one... it began late last year when my elderly neighbor had decided to sell his house. I owned a manufactured home in a park, it was the last home that Glenn and I had bought together, and subsequently our last home before he passed.

Our previous home went into foreclosure when the economy tanked, and it was in that process when Glenn was diagnosed with cancer. It was because of the combination of events that we found the manufactured home in a wonderful park, a place that would give me a safe home to spend the last months of Glenn's life with, then say good-bye to him, and begin to move forward without him.

I was happy there, and thankful to be there since we had no life insurance on Glenn, at least knew I 'owned something,' even if I didn't own the land it was on. I enjoyed the security of living there, I felt safe.

Over the last nearly 4½ years the Lord has been stretching me, and growing me in financial disciplines that were getting me ready to make this change in my life.

This major change began late last year. My elderly neighbor listed and sold his home, not so much because he wanted to, but because his wife had gone into an assisted living home and he couldn't afford his home anymore with the annual park rent increases. This got me thinking about my life, and where I might be in 10-15 years when I was to old to work like I do now. What would I do, if I was priced out of my home?  So I went online, and found out what he had sold for... and I was shocked, we didn't have insurance but the Lord had worked it out so that I had SOLID equity. We had purchased at the bottom of the market and it is now on a upswing.

It was not easy, but I had wonderful realtors (including a very good friend) that were amazing through the process from the fiscal side, and even prayed for me as I worked through the emotional side. When I listed I didn't think about the fact that when I started into the paperwork, there was Glenn's name... that was a moment that caught me off guard. The reality of closing that chapter of my life was suddenly very real, but I still felt it was the right thing. 

It was the end of January when I made the decision, and early February that I listed. Selling a home is always hard, but doing it alone brought challenges that I wasn't prepared for, however with God's grace and strength I made it through getting things ready to list. Then came the waiting process, showing, waiting, showing, hoping, waiting, showing, lol... Time passed and it was April and coming up on my vacation. I was getting exhausted with the showing circle and impact on the household. So I decided that if it wasn't sold by the time of my vacation that I would remove it from the market... and then boom, 3 days before, I got an offer and we came to an agreement. -- little did I realize that would be the easy part.

Finding a home in the budget I was given was the big hurdle, it was a modest budget and one that flippers hunt in... and with the requirements of FHA on top, I had no idea how hard and emotional it would become, but in spite of the ups and downs I was trusting that the Lord would take me to the right home. I put offers in on:
  • One that I liked okay, wasn't 'in love' with it, but liked it and it would work well for me.  -- lost it to an offer that I found out $1000 less but conventional financing.... this one frustrated me.
  • The next one, again, I liked and it would work, but I had moved into a 'settling for' mode. Again I was beat out by a similar offer that had conventional financing.
  • The 3rd one, I liked the situation but didn't really like the house- I was beginning to panic as my buyer had now been put on hold. -- This one fell apart due to a variety of circumstances-- PRAISE GOD! It was so not the right house... God had better things in mind.
 Well, I had finally decided that I was done and was going to try and unwind my sale... that was a Friday night. Saturday I was at an anniversary party and a friend told me that as she had been praying for me, she kept hearing the Lord say for me not to settle. Monday I was at a baby shower and I got a call just before it started, my buyer was willing to wait until I found something (mind you this was August.) Then it happened, the right house! I got home from the shower, I was looking on line and I found a house that I wanted to see, it was the right price and it didn't need work so that meant I wouldn't be competing with flippers. When I stepped up to the door I saw a small plaque something from one of my favorite verses: Joshua 24:15 But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  That was a great start and then the moment I stepped inside I found peace. This house, I really wanted, it was the one!

Then the real fun began, lol, the buying process... talk about stretching!! I don't remember praying for patience but it was an experience in gaining it. The offer negotiations were the easy part, then came the fun; inspection, good! Waiting for FHA appraisal to be done, ugh, waiting for it to come back, ugh. Then another inspection for FHA, waiting for results... finally all in, all good, then more waiting for the paperwork, early, yeah, oh, nope, on time, okay, nope, delay, boo, finally done, just in time, lol. Got out of the old place, got in the new... Thanks to so many friends and family that helped with loading and moving!!

I am now in my new home, no, I am not all unpacked yet, but that's okay, I love it and I am happy... tired, yes, but content. I now have a glimpse forward - I have a home where I own my dirt... may sound silly but it's important to me. I now have something that I can afford in the future, and something that in the future I can leave to my children or if my life changes, it may become an investment. To top it all off my payment is now $75 less than the house and space rent that I had, and the park rent would have gone up each year.

I can say this as I look back, the Lord gave me a scripture that I mentioned in my first blog, just over 5 years ago, and I know it's still true today. Mark 10:27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

I have said it before, my life is not necessarily perfect but I am so blessed in life. The Lord is my provider and my everything. He is my best friend at all times.

Blessings!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Created By the Past, Not Ruled By It

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

In doing some reflecting lately I began to think about a saying I have heard, and have repeated at times. That saying: We are the sum total of our life experiences.  This is a true statement, however, we need to look beyond this statement to the future.

Some people continue forward in life and want to shift all responsibility for their decisions and actions to everything that took place in their past... I don't accept this.  Sadly society has accepted this, and even encouraged it, unintentionally I would hope. When people refuse to accept that they are responsible for their actions, and not all the events of the past, then they can move forward.

We all have those defining moments, or even series of events that we can allow to dictate everything that we do in life. Almost 4 years ago I lost the man that I loved since high school, he was part of my life for over 30 years. At that moment I had 2 choices, I could let his death put me into a "why me" cycle or I could make the choice to move forward and continue to live. That's what I did, I chose to move forward from the depth of a broken heart and walk forward into the future.

What that future is, I still don't know, but that's okay. What I do know, is that just like in years past, when something hurt me or angered me, as I chose to release it I would then able to move on to something good. Rom 8:28 tells me: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." And that's what I have chosen to trust in. 

There is nothing positive to be found by blaming things on events, people or situations in the past or allowing them to birth bitterness in our hearts.

Pro 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Pro 17:22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Luke 6:45 says “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

I want to have a joyful heart, so I chose to release the past and let the Lord fill my heart with His goodness. I want to speak life!! 

Be Blessed!!
                           Mary... a.k.a Prairiemouse