Open Letter to “H”

I’m sitting here this beautiful Saturday morning, up before anyone in the house. We were all exhausted last night (Mr. Wonderful graduated college with his Bachelor’s of Business Administration! Whew!) The coffee is about to be made, and orangey sunlight is streaming in the open windows. Laundry is tumbling in the other room. Kids sleeping, hubby sleeping, cat prowling. All is right in my little world.

Something’s been on my heart, recently. I didn’t believe it would happen. My former Pastor said it would, so I kept my eyes and heart open to it. But I did not truly believe that forgiveness would come in waves: a deluge of gratefulness. So without  contriving it, I’m going to write this open letter from my heart.

 

Dear H,

Thank you! What a wonderful gift you gave to my family! You sought to ruin our lives but were unsuccessful. God always had His hand on us, and we emerge victorious. Yes, we experienced short-term worry and pain, but now I’d love to share with you the gifts you didn’t know you were giving:

  1. If I ever doubted it before, I never doubt the presence and the goodness of Almighty God. He is with us every single day, and fully made known His presence in the darkest hours. Moments when I could do nothing but take a deep breath, I could feel God next to me, holding my hand, giving me peace until I could cope.
    And not just me, but Mr. Wonderful and our girls. You taught us what years of our faith had prepared us for: to rely on God for everything, even our next breath.
  2. The love of family and friends. H, do you know what you did? Hundreds (yes, HUNDREDS) of people rallied around us and our family. Prayers, dishes of food, help in moving (twice), monetary support, childcare, use of vehicles, mowing our lawn, scrubbing, painting, installing blinds, moving walls within our home! H, I have never experienced such love in my life. And it’s all thanks to you!
  3. A Stronger Marriage. I bet you didn’t know that you threw Mr. Wonderful and I into a stronger marriage. We had been on a very busy road, and this caused us to reset. I’ll use that word a few more times in this letter… reset. Because it most accurately describes what happened. We were pulled back from a possibly-destructive path and reminded exactly what God is asking of us as a married couple. Our marriage has never been more fulfilling and beautiful than it is now. So thank you!!!!
  4. Our Financial State was reset. We thought we were poor then! But when Mr. Wonderful lost his job, we nearly had to move in with family. Yes, we drained retirement accounts. Yes we racked up debt. But in the end, we spend TONS less than we did before.
  5. Mr. Wonderful went back to college! He wouldn’t have chosen this path without you. Now he’s got many options in front of him… including the same type of work that he was doing back in 2013. Just that now he has the piece of paper that everyone wants.
  6. Less discord, more harmony. I remember the day, several weeks before you pulled your stunt, that I walked out of my house and turned back to Mr. Wonderful and said, “You’ve got a pretty good gig going here with this job. We don’t agree with the politics and much of what’s coming down from the hierarchy… but we’re staying for now. And if God wants us gone, He’s going to have to shake us out of this tree. Because we’re pretty blessed right here.”
    I didn’t know what was about to happen. But I thank you, because NOW we’re in a place that we agree with a whole lot more.
  7. We never had to go through the Flint Water Crisis. Your actions insured that we were not living in Flint when the Water Crisis began. Our babies never had to drink the tainted water.

I’m sure there are a great many more reasons why I’m thankful to you. I didn’t think this out ahead of time, so I just went with the ones bubbling to the top of my heart this morning. I just want you to know that we FORGIVE you, H. We know you must be hurting to be mentally able to do what you did, and we pray that the real culprit be brought to their knees. We pray for every aspect of your life, and your children’s lives, that God make Himself known to you and show you His loving-kindness.

I thank you. Truly. Because without you, I wouldn’t be happy and fulfilled as I am today.

Sincerely,
Jenny

I may need to work on that if I’m ever going to send it to her. There might be a bit of sarcasm that I should filter out.

But my point is, that we feel great thankfulness that our life is the way it is now. We have reconnected with friends and family. We are crazy-busy but loving life. And most importantly, our feet are set on solid Rock.

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Sky So Blue

I’m turning 44 tomorrow. Most people don’t like to talk about their age. I don’t really care. I don’t like how it adds up so, but really, it’s a number. It happens to everyone. What’s that saying about death and taxes? Yeah. Happens to us all.

We’re in Hale, MI this weekend with our friends, The Brain Trust. It’s sunny for the first time in WEEKS, and the sky is so blue. I’m sitting in between TWO door walls (sliding glass doors) and the light is heavenly. The gas stove is behind me, and I’m watching my little girls play with the Brain Trust girls across the room. Brain Trust Dad is watching DIY-Nerd Videos on youtube, and his awesome wife is taking a nap. Mr. Wonderful isn’t doing school-work at the moment, because I’m using his laptop. Maybe he is just reading his textbook. I don’t know.

I have happiness to overflowing in my heart. The best birthday gift, ever.

Some amazing things have been happening lately at the Wonderful House. Good things. Things that make me happy, and take away all those sad things that happened before. I’m fighting the urge to get nervous that the good things will all go away at once. Really. Because our family’s recent history ISN’T that everything goes well. To use a phrase my Dad says, it’s often one cussed thing after the next.

  • There was a huge sadness in my heart from a relationship that I wasn’t able to fix. That seems to be less of an issue anymore. I’m thankful for that. I have prayed at great length for a breakthrough in my relationship with this person, and pray for them constantly.
  • I never stressed completely out during the holidays. I sometimes do, but I decided not to do a few things this year (like cards, sorry if you were expecting one from me!), and it made things much more pleasant for me, and for those around me.
  • We had a huge reduction in a bill, which resulted in us getting paid back quite a bit more than we were ever expecting. Twice in the last month.
  • Mr. Wonderful is doing wonderfully in school. He makes me so proud. And whatever he ends up doing in life, he is going to be a good one.
  • There are many more, but I don’t have the actual time to list them all here. Suffice to say that it’s been good here lately, and I’m happy.

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side. Sometimes you hurt and it doesn’t ease up for a long time. Now, here, today… I realize that Mr. Wonderful isn’t the broken man he was after his job loss. He’s not broken by RA, and sinking into a depression anymore. He’s strong, vital, and a great husband and Daddy. He gets the job done. I’m happy to see this change back to being himself.

The crazy awesome part? I’m feeling like my heart might beat again. I’m feeling like I’m coming out from under a blanket of clouds that has been over me since June of 2013. I have much less bitterness in my heart toward the situation, and see the good things about having moved back home to our Stomping Grounds.

 

Mr. Wonderful told me about this song some time ago. I wasn’t ready for it then, but I am now. It worked on me for months and now I’m ready to be done with this… attitude of feeling like God didn’t do what we needed Him to do when we were at our lowest. All I have to do is look back on this blog from June 2013 on, to see how people helped us with moving, with finances, with groceries, with LOVING on us until we couldn’t possibly feel unloved anymore. God was there every second and He’s here now, too.

Beginning. Just let that word wash over you. It’s alright now. Love’s healing hands have pulled you through. So get back up. Take step one. Leave the darkness, feel the sun. ‘Cause your story’s far from over, and your journey’s just begun.

The sky today, is SO BLUE. Snow has been lazily falling off and on all day long. The dappled light of the sun is making funny shadows on the skim of snow in the yard. The kids are now working small leather crafts, and it’s time for me to get off the computer. I just never EVER want to forget this moment. These people. This love.

 

 

What Will I Do?

I’m at a crossroads. Well, Mr. Wonderful is at a crossroads, and I am as well, but not with our marriage, it’s with work. Plain and simply, HE needs a job, and I’d like one where I make (quite a bundle) more money.

Seventeen years ago, I quit college to be a good aunt and stable force in my niece’s life. We had her on weekends and did everything together.She lived with us off and on for the next 8 years. She was definitely our “first kid”.

Now she’s 25 and we have 2 kids. Mr. Wonderful did his dream job for about 7 years (and lost his position 3 years ago… I often refer to it here) and is currently holding a seasonal position… where he’s basically unemployed for the whole summer.

I am frustrated because I’ve wanted to go back to school since before we got our girls… I knew once we became foster parents that it’d be tough for me to be in school again with kiddos, but I wanted to try. And…. it’s been out of the question for the last 10 or so years.

A friend contacted me today and we talked about online universities vs physically showing up, as well as going to school when you’re way older (we actually went to college together the first time and quit about the same time, too). We both just want a degree in “whatever is the fastest way through,” him for a promotion at work, and me, because I just want something, ANYTHING that will afford us a lifestyle that allows us to….. make repairs when we need them. (See, our house is tiny, and I could ask for a million things right here… but I don’t need crazy-awesome stuff… just my family and friends and especially my hubster, Mr. Wonderful, and maybe the thought that I don’t have to keep working until 2050.

Much of my degree was in Accounting, but I am not so interested in that as I once was. I had become very frustrated at my job and went to school to get a job where I didn’t have to work with people. That’s silly, though. I LOVE working with the public. I am energized by my current work… I adore my customers, and don’t mind my job. I mind the pay, though. It’s not bad for my actual job title, but it’s nothing near what I want to be doing.

And I’d like to note that I would love to be in a job where I can help others. Not social work, probably. I get too stressy for that.

One thing I know I can do well is write. I’m not exactly a novelist or anything, but I can convey what I’m feeling pretty well. In fact, my friend even said on the phone tonight that I have “the writing part down in spades.” Which is super-cute, because that’s exactly how I would have said it. We do that a lot… use the same word or phrase for things. But then we’ve known each other since I was a child of 14, so it’s not that strange… we’re all super old now… I’m 43!

Sidetracking myself, it was hilarious this last weekend, Mr. Wonderful and I spend time with the same friend and his wife. Their kids are teens and would say something to their dad, and a couple of times I’d say his joke line before he did. (Most of his jokes cannot be repeated here, but it was funny that I knew many of them, and because *I* use them daily.)

So, I have some thinking to do… what will I do when I grow up? I dunno. I’m an OK writer, but I don’t see myself doing creative writing for a living. So then… there’s the accounting degree I forsook. Yuck! And the psychology study that I abandoned because it freaked me out. The teaching degree I only worked on for a year. But I’m supposedly in my junior year. At least I was when I was last in school… buy who knows of my credits even transfer anymore.

Something that bugs me immensely about all this is that people come into my work and assume that because I’ve worked there 18 years, that I’m stupid and never went to college. It’s annoying and wrong, but the truth is that I hold no degree and apparently people are allowed to judge on that these days.

I’m tired of not having enough to make ends meet. I’m exhausted with being supportive. And I don’t want to wait anymore to realize this dream of mine… to have that slice of paper and be recognized.

 

 

What’s Wrong?!

Kody, Jenny, Tutanka in July of 2006. These were the golden days.

Kody, Jenny, Tutanka in July of 2006. These were the golden days.

[This is my actual, unedited journal entry from today. Forgive the improper grammar and overblown emotion.]

What’s wrong indeed! Kody died a week ago. That wonderful chow mix furball that turned me into a dog lover, and melted the ice in my heart to make way for me to love Vaeh and Lisi Jo, My heart is broken to pieces and everyone is either inappropriately clingy or they don’t care. This dog was a part of my being!

I’ve been portioning out emotion over this because I knew I couldn’t handle the stark reality of a world without my boy. I miss him at the oddest moments and cry when it’s completely inappropriate. I’ve obsessively held onto things and sabotaged myself in ways I can’t even go into at the moment.

Right now, Isabella, Lisi Jo’s gray stripe kitten just cuddled up next to me and began purring. I suppose this is God’s way of saying, “I’m here. I haven’t forgotten about you.” OK, I’ll stop being a curmudgeon. I’ll suck it up and get ready for the rest of my day—

But before I go, I want to say here before I move on:

Jenny, don’t deny yourself grief over this wonderful dog. People understand. Even if you don’t get it right now. Stop stressing about 45 things that don’t matter. Know in Whom you can trust, and stop expecting perfection from yourself and everyone else… you KNOW you only do that when you are trying to hold on to something that needs to be let go.

❤ J

[So there it is, I’m certifiable. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew.]

I Have a Secret

I have a secret that is distressing to me. I don’t talk about it, and only a fraction of the people I know, know this about me: as much as I’m obsessed with cleanliness and order, my house is a trashed disgusting mess of a place. There are papers and dishes and clothes everywhere.* I may have exaggerated slightly for purposes of this blog post, but not much!

People are very kind to me, and when I relate a story to them about my kids or my family they constantly are telling me what a great mom I am. They are saying what a great dad Mr. Wonderful is. They are affirming me in ways that I so desperately need to be adfirmed, and it makes me feel great. And then I think about the fact that my living room couch has 40 blankets on it, or that both girls have lost library books in the stack next to the armchair this week.

A young mother came into my work tonight, and was in desperation with her three young girls. She was freaking out because she did not know how to be a stay at home mom, and get anything done. Her husband had told her that she has the easiest job there is, and that she should just be happy and get the house cleaned up. That kind of made me really mad.

She asked me how I balance my work with my family life. I get asked that by many people, and many people think I have everything together. They think that I have perfect house, perfect family, a nice car and that everything is wonderful. Well guess what… it’s not all sunshine and roses.

Don’t get me wrong: much of my life is just about as good as things can get. But in order to train my kids appropriately and work full time, it means something has to be let go. And apparently folding laundry, and sweeping the living room floor are those things that have to be let go. Do I wish things were cleaner in here? Yes I do. Do I wish I had been able to stain the woodwork in the living room this summer? Yes I do. Is my life pretty awesome, though?

Uh huh. I just can’t do everything, all at once. I’m tired and I want to spend time with Mr. Wonderful too. So my secret isn’t so secret. Whatevs. My kids are fed, happy and wearing clean clothes and they are being taught about Jesus. Those are the things that truly matter to me.

What I Mean, but Can’t Seem to Say Out Loud

When everything happened in June of 2013, when my darling Mr. Wonderful lost his job because of the lies and deceit of one person, along with unflagging ineffectiveness and/or unfounded repugnance of another, I truly believed our lives were over. My first call was to my Mom, to let her know that we were probably going to have to move in with her and my dad. She cried with me on the phone, and maybe partially because of the thought of the 4 of us hooligans being a constant in their beautiful and peaceful home.

After a call to my sister, the next was to our dear friends. I hate admitting defeat. I hated that everyone would see the true Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful, who hadn’t been able to make a go of it as parents, as career persons, as people living on their own, as adults. I was sure that everyone from church people, to family, friends, and neighbors now knew the truth about Mr. Wonderful and me: that we were losers.

Our friends came to our rescue in more ways than one. They showed up for our July 4 BBQ with a huge bale of packing boxes. Not since my days of working at UHaul, had I seen that many boxes in one place. With teary eyes, but with smiles pasted on their faces, they held our hands through this trial and helped us to figure out what to do next, where to go, how to breathe. They were pissed on our behalf. Everyone was pissed on our behalf. But with these two, I didn’t feel like I had to defend the idiot ex-employers, or try to put on a happy face. With this couple, we could just BE. And we didn’t have to pretend to be happy or pretend anything. We just were. And the times we spent with them (which were many, since they helped us move, helped us with our already-planned adoption party for our girls, and cleaned and painted the inside of the house we moved into, then turned around a year later and helped us clean up and paint and move walls and doorways of the OTHER house we moved into) were just like always: maybe the only sanity we had, through it all.

We were scared and didn’t think we could live without Mr. Wonderful’s income. OK it was true: we couldn’t. We emptied out two retirement accounts in the time he wasn’t working. But we never went hungry. We never went without things we needed. Sometimes we rationed out the milk and bread so the kids would have food to eat. Sometimes we sat home on a Friday night and ate leftover goulash even though we lived 2 blocks from the pizza place  and could smell it, and wanted it so much.

My point is that it’s NOT EASY, but nobody thinks less of you for losing your job. You always try to do the right thing and you love your family and friends so much. I have rarely seen that kind of love in another human being. You are a wonder. Yes, at times you’re outwardly grouchy, but it doesn’t fool me. Behind those eyes is a depth of caring for your family, protection of them, and putting yourself on the line that you don’t see every day. Next to Mr. Wonderful, you’re the only other man I see our age, over and over again, doing the difficult things even if you don’t like them because it’s RIGHT. You often talk about doing the right thing, And I know you’ll do it. Because that’s who you are.

You sacrifice yourself to help others and act like it’s no biggie. You have paid our way more times than I care to remember, or maybe could ever pay back. And I don’t even know why. McDonald’s dollar menu with friends is just as good as a steakhouse with friends. It’s the FRIENDS that matter, not the stuff surrounding them.

Failure is not a word that you know, or should become familiar with. It’s freaking scary when you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you have to believe me when I say I KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that everything will be OK for you guys. You might not like everything that happens, but you’re going to be OK.

Because I believe in you…. in the both of you. And I know you’ve got this. You two are our very best friends in the world. And I hate that you’re having to deal with this. We’re still not finished dealing with it and I don’t feel like we will be until Mr. Wonderful has a job in his field again… It’s a process and we have had to learn to do things differently. And have a different level of spending. But in doing that, we’ve gained a whole other quality of life we had forgotten about: simple things. A walk, fireflies…. stars in the sky, bonfires, watching airplanes take off and land.

I wanted to say all this to you guys last weekend, but I’m so pissed on your behalf, that I couldn’t get it out. Life isn’t fair, and if anyone deserves to have the best life, it’s you two. You both give of yourselves and act like it’s nothing. It was everything, and just when we needed it the most. So our helping out this weekend isn’t a payback. It’s showing you the kindness and love that you showed us, just when we needed it.

I hope we can show you even a sliver of  the same love you showed to us over and over in the last 2 years. We are forever grateful.

Sense of Loss

I love positivity, but I can’t even fake it today. There are SO MANY blessings in our lives and so many good things and things to be thankful for… but today, I cannot shake this extreme sense of loss.

20 months ago, when Mr. Wonderful lost his job, it was easy to see the things we were missing out on. His job was sometimes quite stressful, but he loved it and poured his whole being into it. The girls and I shared in the ministry too. There were complications at times, but on the whole, the job was a good fit for our little family.

Today, one week before Easter, I am feeling this loss so much differently. I miss our Clergy friends. I miss the support we gave one another during the hectic season leading up to Easter. I miss our life centering on church work. Yes, we needed a break, but now my heart is crying out for that again.

I hate that there isn’t a button to push to make it better for myself. I have to get back into the evening routine here at Casa Wonderful, but I wonder, would you pray for us, that God leads us where He wants us? Because I can’t see it right now, and I want to be thankful, and I want to have faith. I want to forgive. I want to stop being angry about everything that we lost… but it’s really hard and I can’t do it on my own. It’s a bad moment for me, and I know I’ll be better soon, but I just can’t right now.

Thanks.

Jenny

You can go this far, but no further.

Before work today, I sat on my bed, atop the new orange/turquoise/green India Inspired Quilt that Mr. Wonderful bought me which probably should have waited for Christmas, but who cares, because we were both so tired of the blah Khaki comforter against the cream walls and the beige floor. Everything was so “the same” that we both knew we needed to perk it up.

As I put on my work shoes, I saw a letter that Mr. Wonderful had sitting on top of his printer. I  read it. It was a letter to someone in our state government about our girls. We’re required to let them know when we move (because of the adoption, they like to keep tabs) and he had their full names and birthdates included. I just sat there and stared at that piece of paper.

After 18 months, I’m still not used to seeing their full names ending in our last name. I was struck, and I ended up on my knees in prayer, thanking God and praising Him that we got through that horribly long ordeal with Foster Care and were able to adopt our babies. And then got through that horribly awful ordeal when hubby lost his job and we had to move from the only place we’d ever lived with our sweet girls.

I am sometimes afraid of what might have been. I’m still pretty angry about it sometimes.

I was just reading an article talking about healing, and one friend said to the other who was suffering the loss of her marriage, “Go to the place where it hurts your heart so much you simply can’t stand it and you feel like you want to die. Go to the place where the infection is thick and rotting and it smells and burns. You have to go to the bottom of the wound and start there. It is the only way to begin healing.”

And then I think it’s no wonder I’m not done with feeling angry and horrified that this LIAR got away with what she did. I sit here and rage against her, even after I’ve prayed for her on endless nights where sleep would not come. I believe one day I will be healed, but I may need to delve deeper into the hurt… and I don’t really want to.

The point of writing this, is not to whine about the hurt. It’s that we went from one ordeal to the next, and I never took the time to celebrate the good.

So before I go on my journey of prayer and healing, I am going to live it up and live in the fact that I AM a Mom and Mr. Wonderful IS a Dad. And we have kids in THIS house (our dream, always) and that the enemy of our souls did NOT win. God tells him you can go this far, but no further. We are loved. We are blessed. We are protected. Praise God.

Farraday Cage

Last night, the kids were brushing their teeth, and I hear Vaeh telling Lisi that she needs to sleep on the floor of Vaeh’s room because of the lightning. She further explained that lightning will kill you, and your room is a dangerous place to be, because of the windows right next to your bed.

That was when I began yelling from the other room for her to shush her mouth, because it’s NOT dangerous, and I want sister to be able to sleep in her own room, and if, after this, she decides that she cannot sleep in her room for fear of lightning, then Vaeh can have the tiny room, and Lisi the big one, and we’d switch it over this weekend.

This morning, I was telling Mr, Wonderful about my neuroses. One of them actually being that I was concerned with Lisi’s huge window right next to her bed and he looked up online about lightning striking houses. Heheh. (I wasn’t even that neurotic about it, but he’s a good man, and wanted to put my mind to rest.) He read that the lightning would follow cable lines and electrical lines in a wall, down to the ground.

Our friend put in tons of cable line in that room when we were building it, because it was Mr. Wonderful’s office. And my cousin put tons of electrical outlets in that room for the same reason. I then said, “Pshaw!! She’s OK! She sleeps every night in a Farraday Cage!!!! 

I’m not sure why a Farraday cage always makes me giggle. And this graphic I found online is downright hilarious. I wanted to label the person “Little Lisi”, but I felt that the diagram was already well-labeled.

So, henceforth, I can sleep soundly without fear of lightning striking my babies while they sleep in their beds. One silly neurotic mom-fear down, 20 million to go.