Moses had to be EXHAUSTED…

Today was a bit trying.

Despite my best efforts to get to bed at about 11:30 and wake up around 6:15 so I can have breakfast ready by the time my husband gets home and my kids wake up, which I believe would allow me sufficient sleep to operate during the day, it hasn’t worked as planned most nights. Sometimes I wonder if Jayla is punking me. She still won’t sleep through the night. I know some of it is related to teething, but I think other than that, she just screams randomly to keep me on my toes.

Additionally, I can’t seem to wind down. Even on the rare night when I climbed into bed at 10:30, I could not, despite being dog tired, go to sleep. I tried to follow the advice I received from the sleep specialist, including turning everything off for awhile before bed, but that actually did more harm than good, because even when I turned off all electronics, my stupid busy nag of a brain just REFUSED to chill out. It was ridiculous! I promise you, I was having the dumbest most miscellaneous thoughts EVER. I’m sitting there thinking about lunch ideas for my kids, story ideas, recipes, outfits that would look cute on me if I wasn’t so fat, scenes from The Golden Girls… I had to turn on the television just so my brain would shut up!

For some reason, today the exhaustion went into over drive, and I was sluggish and groggy. Some of it may be that I am trying to taper down my sugar intake. Either way it goes, I felt flipping awful and was not in the mood to go to church. Our Moody classes began today.

When I got there, my mood immediately perked up. We are working through Genesis, which gives me a good opportunity to start from the beginning and continue working my way through again. I had gotten as far as Judges and fell off. Now I can review some of the concepts from the book. We just did a brief overview today and have to read the first few chapters for next week, but during our discussion, I realized something…My exhaustion has nothing on how Moses must have felt.

In addition to dealing with one of the most irritating, ungrateful and unfocused group of people in the Bible, Moses is also the author of the first five books of the Bible. When the heck did he have time to write all that? There are 187 chapters and almost 6,000 verses. And for those of you who have read Leviticus (which is, in my humble opinion, the most boring Old Testament book possible) with all of its detail regarding offerings, sacrifices and law, could you imagine trying to transcribe all that stuff? I remember sitting in college classes and getting frustrated when professors spoke faster than I could write, and having to develop my own shorthand for better note-taking. (And then I’d forget what the shorthand was supposed to really say. Fun times). I guess I’m just curious as to how the process of God speaking to Moses about things in Genesis in particular, things that happened before Moses was born, went down. And I found myself wondering how God revealed the Pentateuch to Moses. I wondered if Moses was like me–whenever he tried to lay his head down, God pounced on him and deluged him with visions or dreams, or both.

Either way it goes, at least I have opportunities to rest. Could I use more? Yep. Actually, strike that. I don’t want more rest, I want more energy. Regardless, it to me is an amazing feat that Moses was able to manage to find time to write the foundational books of the Bible while dealing with a massive group of complaining people. This was before espressos too? Oh, NOOOOOO.

But as we know, nothing is impossible for God, and if He has something for you to do, He’ll empower you to do it.

Moses-wandering-in-the-desert-2

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A Day of Commemoration…and Reflection

plaque of those lost on sept 11

 

Like most Americans who were of age at the time, I remember exactly what I was doing when news of what is now referred to as the 9/11 attacks occurred.

I was a student at Grand Valley State University. I was getting ready to go to class, and as I usually did, had the television on (no matter what I’m doing, I usually require some type of background noise to keep me focused). At first I thought nothing when whatever program I was watching was interrupted for a breaking news report, but then my roommate yelled for me to look. She rarely raised her voice, so I knew it had to be something significant.

We watched, compelled, horrified, glued to our seats, eyes wide, mouths agape, as report after report on channel after channel came in about what had just happened. It became obvious that this was no ordinary plane crash, specifically because there hadn’t been just one… It was a series of coordinated, evil attacks.

A friend of mine who was a Marine came over to watch the continuous footage with us. After awhile he couldn’t look any more. Concerned that this would lead to him being deployed to seek revenge on whatever nation was possible for the tragedy, he headed back home to soothe himself. I don’t recall if GVSU closed down the campus for the day, but I do know that I didn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t stop watching the news. At one point, I remembered that I had a cousin living there and placed a panicked call to my parents, who reassured me that he had already called his parents and assured them he was fine. He had had a job interview close by the Towers that day that had been cancelled that very morning.

I had, and still have, so many questions about that day. My first wonder was how one could hate people that they never met enough to do something so awful. I know that there have been many people who have committed atrocities allegedly in the name of Islam, yet I cannot bring myself to hate ALL Muslims. (Well, I don’t hate anybody, so perhaps that is not the best word. I cannot bring myself to despise all Muslims). I know that there plenty of Muslims who would never think to do such a thing. As someone who understands that everyone is not going to share my beliefs, and someone who thinks diversity is actually a gift from God, I cannot fathom how people can develop such hatred toward an entire group of people. To this day, I wonder what their exact motives were. Of course I know the terrorists say that it was in retaliation for America’s policies and involvement concerning the affairs of the Middle East. But Jesus Christ, did it have to come to THAT?

In the days, months and years that have passed, I’ve also wondered what those last moments were like for the people aboard those planes. Sometimes I imagine their fear and hopelessness and I get furious. They didn’t deserve that. People going on about their daily business who just happened to board a plane that some psychos turned into a missile. I’m getting upset right now.

I remember people criticizing then President George “Dubya” Bush for his immediate reaction upon finding out the news. I might get crucified for this, but he was in the midst of a group of second-graders. Yes, he could have excused himself and left immediately, which would have been understandable. But… he kept himself composed in front of those children, who were diligently reciting words. Or a story. One or the other. And believe me, I wasn’t a fan of Dubya’s.

Following the attack, the way Americans came together was absolutely unbelievable. Churches were full, but you know what else happened? We remembered how to appreciate each other. We knew that our country had changed but we wanted to rise above it. We wanted to implement better protocols for airport safety, but we didn’t want to live in fear. We rejected fear…

…for awhile. Then came the fear-mongerers and the Muslim backlash. I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life and Dearborn, MI has a large population of Arab-Americans, with a significant portion of them identifying as Muslim. They have low crime rates and high educational achievement. (Not to mention some pretty good food). The anger was understandable, but not when it was applied to the entire group of people. Here we are, 16 years later, with the same hatred and fear. There were instances in the Bible where kings, who felt their power was threatened, attempted to eliminate an entire generation of baby boys. Remember those? You know what compelled them to do that? Yes, a love of power was one, but the primary indicator of oppression and racism is FEAR. Fear is dangerous. It is nasty. It convinces people to do awful things to others. As is suggested in II Tim. 1:7, it clouds what is otherwise a sound mind capable of sound judgment. People fear what they don’t know, and because they refuse to exit their comfortable bubbles and actually confront the unknown, they will remain fearful and, unfortunately, prejudiced. And it is to THEIR detriment, because as we Christians know, each and every one us will meet Jesus when this life is over, whether we believed in Him while we were on earth or not, and how will people respond when Jesus asks them about their racism? For those who consistently pursue war–how does that help?

How far have we come, really?

I’m so hurt for the innocent people that died that day. Almost 3,000 people, with an additional 6,000 injured. Survivors have died of injuries and conditions related to that day. It was indeed a dark day for America. We rose from it and shone briefly, then went dark again, shrouded with a cloud of racism.

It’s a day I will never forget. Ever.

Continue to rest in paradise Dad. Twenty-five months without you today. And it hasn’t stopped hurting yet, although I am glad you’re suffering has met its end.

_For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind._

Conquering the back to school grind!!


I knew this day would come. I was ready and not ready.

My little girl is now a proud kindergartner.

I have been fighting the onset of separation anxiety all summer. Just as I struggled with the idea of turning my son over to the hands of strangers when he first started school, the same sentiments arose regarding my daughter. However, it was a tad different with Layla. Jayden went to half-day preschool and then full-day kindergarten, so I was able to ease into the letting go thing. Layla went straight from home to full-day kindergarten. No transition.

I got a smidge annoyed by everyone poking fun at me, thinking I was going to be a sobbing mess at school when we dropped her off, so I held it together to spite them. There were also several things that brought me comfort: First, Jayden has been at the school since it opened, so I know personally that the staff is very attentive; second, Layla’s teacher is greatly suited for her job; third, my son is right down the hall if his little sister needs him. My niece also goes there as well. Layla has tons of support. Admittedly, once I got into the house and realized she wasn’t there I got a bit wistful, and when the Bubble Guppies theme song came on, I cried. If Layla had been at home she would have been watching that show. 😞

When we picked them up from school she was all a-flutter. She was so excited, and reported that she had had a great day and loved school. That gave me further confirmation that I need not worry about my little Bear. I also know that as much as I have been working with her, helping her with sight words, reading, counting, etc., she will do better with an educated, experienced teacher and a more structured environment. I often had to juggle helping her with her lessons while peeling Jayla off me. I rarely was able to give her my full undivided attention.

As for my boy, he is a pro now 😊. A proud sixth-grader, he has a locker that he couldn’t wait to get in to and will be in the band again. He too benefits from structure and routine. I’m going to work on establishing better routines for both of them at home when the homework starts coming in (shudder).

Now, with just the baby, some more free time has opened up. When she is asleep, I plan to use the time to exercise and write. I do miss my older kids, but I’m excited to see what kind of adults they will grow into. Yes, the whole letting go thing is hard, but there is an addendum there: Let go=let God. I can’t hover over my children for the rest if their lives, but I can cover them in prayer before they leave my sight each day. Because even though I love them, God loves them more. And although I will always do my best to protect them, it is our omnipotent, omniscient God who is better-equipped for the job.

Bring on the Fall!

fall in michigan

I truly love autumn in Michigan.

Changing leaves, apples, sweaters, boots, that little bit of crispness in the early morning air, football, spicy chili and cornbread, my pumpkin spice cheesecake… I could go on. A major additional perk of fall: Not having to sweat to death, but also not having to bundle up in pesky winter coats and hats. I flipping hate winter.

As the month begins for those of us in states that were not affected by Hurricane Harvey, let us not continue on with our lives without remembering the stagnation that has occurred in theirs as a result of this disaster. There are so many causes to which we can donate. These are our fellow Americans and they are going to need help for months to come. Those of us who were cushioned from the devastation should be thanking God for that and praying for those affected.

September is also National Childhood Obesity month, as well as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. The rate of obesity among children is steadily climbing in America, and we know that childhood obesity leads to health conditions that historically were relegated to adults: Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure.  Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults, and let us not fail to consider the ramifications to the self-esteem of the obese child. In my house, I plan to work with my kids about getting more water in their diet and by encouraging my son in particular to eat fiber-rich foods that will fill him up and make him feel full longer, because he eats like a garbage disposal. I’ve also had them do my virtual walks with me. My daughter likes them. My son, not so much.

The cause of suicide is one that is near to my heart because of my own ideation after being raped. Up until that point, I thought I was one of the toughest people to walk this earth. I never would have thought I would get to the point where I was questioning whether or not I even wanted to live, let alone to the even more shocking point where I was close to doing it. Suicide has no bounds. It affects people of both sexes (although males complete suicide at higher rates than females, probably because men use more violent methods of suicide), all races and age groups (except very young kids, thank GOD). Alarmingly, the rates are increasing among people 10-24, and I can make assumptions as to why–lots and lots and lots of academic, social, economic, PRESSURE. Young people are made to believe they are never good enough and it takes its toll on their still-developing psyches.

But I digress. My major point is that getting to the point where you are suicidal has nothing to do with your degree of “toughness”. It has more to do with your degree of hopelessness. For me, I didn’t see any way out of my pain. No matter what I could do, nothing would change the fact that I had been violated. Nothing could change the shame I felt for having fallen prey to someone. I am now at a point in my life where I can say that I am confident that nothing I did that night or the days leading up to it made what he did to me okay, but when it first happened, all I could think of–partially thanks to the highly insensitive law enforcement officials and clunky university processes–was what I had done to bring on being raped.  I felt stupid, weak, dirty, slutty, angry, guilty… every negative feeling you can think of, I had it. Guilt because I felt that I had gone off to Grand Valley, gotten myself raped, and let my parents down. Their hard earned tuition dollars were going down the drain. Not only that, my partying ways had been exposed. Basically, I internalized every reason the detective and prosecutor gave me for having been victimized. My clothes that night–a long-sleeved black shirt and black pants–revealed nothing, but you’d have thought they did. I  purposely gained weight so guys would not see my shape.  At NO point in time was the blame ever put on anything Sidney did.

Hopelessness is a disease. It pollutes the brain; alters its chemistry. It is truly a working of the devil.

ALL PRAISES BE TO GOD that as I sat in my little studio apartment in the dark holding that knife, which had never shone as brightly as it was then, I pictured my recently-deceased grandmother, and then I remembered that I had a special power that I hadn’t utilized during the entire ordeal–the power of prayer. I had just finished drinking an entire fifth of Hennessey, but somehow, something told me… PRAY. PRAY THROUGH IT. And I did. I don’t know how, but that knife ended up clear across the room.

Also working in my favor was the immense, overwhelming crushing support I received from my family. BOY, did they put in WORK! I had cousins coming to visit me out the woodwork, bringing me flowers and visiting with me, aunts and uncles sending letters to the prosecutor and the university on my behalf, and friends checking up on me and letting me know what was going on up at GVSU when I returned home. My parents never said a mumbling word about me having to move back in with them. And my sister was a constant presence. She never asked any intrusive questions. That was what I needed. Support, love, and listening ears. That’s what I got. As we navigate the world, however, we have to be cognizant that everyone is NOT a Christian, and for them, being told to pray would be dismissive. That’s not acceptable. Our love, support and encouragement for other people is NOT supposed to be conditional.

As for me, healing from such a gaping wound is ongoing. I’ll admit it. Every now and then I think about it and grow FURIOUS. I have student loans from GVSU and I don’t think I should have to pay them. My entire life plan was stagnated by that, and I was set back when I had to transfer to EMU as a senior, and I STILL don’t appreciate that. I had a pretty decent life up there, and it took one person to ruin it, and an entire blind university and jerk prosecutor to add heaping mounds to the ruination.

But, God has a way of turning things around…

One of my worst days became one of my best days…

February 16, 2003–THAT day.

February 16, 2012, 4:28 a.m.: My Layla Bear was born!

Anyhoo, as we have moved into this month, please educate yourself on the warning signs and stressors. I have found several resources that I would like to share with you, as opposed to citing entire websites:

In case of an emergency, dial 911!

National Alliance on Mental Illness

http://www.nami.org

800-950-NAMI

For help within an immediate crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

Or, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-TALK.

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need people. There is always someone who has been through what you’re going through. You don’t have to go at it alone. And in most cases, you can find your purpose in your pain.

depressed black woman

 

 

Holy Cheesecakes…

– le sigh-

I gotta be honest and say that this past week hasn’t been one of my faves. All three of my kids ended up getting sick. At first, my husband and I thought that Jayden was sick because of his asthma flaring up, but that wasn’t the entirety of the problem. There was something else that either him or Layla had picked up from God knows where and gave to the other. Both of the older kids have had stomach problems, wet coughs and fatigue, and my baby had her little bout with a 101.6 fever. I was in the house for several days straight. While I have no problem dealing with the issues that come along with being a mother and being responsible for the comfort and well-being of my babies, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a mean case of cabin fever. I hate being stuck in the house for days at a time.

So when the opportunity for me to be able to not only leave the house but to also work on my cheesecake recipes arose, I jumped at it. My husband stayed with the children while I went to the store and shopped for ingredients for four different types of cheesecakes: A Reese’s cheesecake, a Snicker’s cheesecake, an apple turnover cheesecake, and a banana pudding cheesecake.

My plan was to make the cheesecakes that day (Friday) and let them set overnight. Then, I would debut the cheesecakes during the McGregor-Mayweather fight party that was being held at my sister-in-law’s house. I figured I would start in the evening because that was when I THOUGHT my kids would be more likely to leave me alone.

I thought wrong, and to my standards, the entire undertaking was an unmitigated disaster. I put Jayla to bed and got to work. Even though my two older kids knew exactly what I was doing, they found every reason in the world to interrupt me every few minutes as I was trying to the cheesecakes together. Then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Jayla woke up and decided to stay awake until 2 a.m. I was so frustrated I cried. I was very disappointed. I LOVE having my kids; I love being a mom, but I NEED to have something of my own. I love my husband for taking care of me, but as I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily like it. I know my job as a mom and wife is indispensable but again, being honest–my ambition is not fulfilled, and I want to see if I can do something so that Matt won’t have to slave away in that dirty plant.

I have the idea of this cheesecake hustle, trying to get my book published, and also possibly getting my real estate license (I LOVE houses) because I am not happy being kept. If that is wrong of me, I pray God will let me know.

The cheesecakes I worked on while my kids were awake and bothering the dog crap out of me were NOT good enough to be served. They tasted wonderful, but they did not look like they should look if I ever plan to sell them to people. And I lost track of the time on the banana pudding one in particular, and the consistency was not where I would have liked for it to have been, and with cheesecakes, once you interrupt the baking process, you can’t just put it back in the oven and try again.

I took pictures of all of the cheesecakes because I want to be able to look at them, determine where I went wrong, and tweak them until I get it right.

(Top picture is the Snickers cheesecake, middle is Reese’s, bottom is banana pudding)

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I am hoping to have things figured out by October to really get this thing in full gear. But now I have been presented with additional challenges I hadn’t considered before–it will be impossible to work with my kids around. I don’t know why I thought it’d be easy to do. Just like any other job I had wouldn’t have been easy if my kids were around, you know? Because my first priority is always them. As soon as they interrupted me, my attention went from the cheesecake to them and I messed something up. So now I have to think about how I will handle them if I start selling them–because although my in-laws couldn’t have cared less how the cheesecakes looked (they all got rave reviews for their flavor), people aren’t going to pay money (and cheesecakes are not cheap) for a soggy product. Second, I need more materials. I do not have enough mixing bowls. My food processor didn’t work. I need more utensils. (I did make one heckuva dough for the apple one, if I do say so myself, though). Third, my kitchen is tiny. I didn’t have enough counter space. I might consider getting a foldable table just for the specific purpose of increasing my counter space, and a different little cabinet for my equipment. With those things in mind, I am going to have to figure out how to come up on some more money to invest in those items.

Despite my disappointment I am comforted that even though the looks weren’t where I wanted them to be, the flavor was on point, so that means I am more than halfway there 🙂

Pray for my kids to get better if you will!

And pray for our fellow humans (American or NOT) in Texas… they are going through it there… and for the people in Sierra Leone affected by the deadly mudslide. There is always so much that we Christians ought to be praying for! This is why we have to “pray without ceasing”… the world needs us to. Seriously. So much strife, turbulence, etc. SMH.

Nobody told me there’d be this much puke.

When I was a little girl, I knew when I grew up I wanted to be in the health care profession. I loved people, and I loved taking care of them. I vacillated between being a nurse or a doctor. When I thought about how long it took to become a doctor, I wavered a bit (looking back with the benefit of hindsight, it was a huge mistake for me to talk myself out of doing it. I ended up in school as long as a doctor usually is regardless and for what–to not even be able to secure a job that pays twelve bucks an hour??????) and ultimately settled on nursing. I took some of the core classes, including anatomy and physiology, and was captivated by the cadaver lab portion. It was fascinating to see the structures of the human body in that manner. I thought I was on the right track, until I realized something about myself.

I don’t do well with fluids.

I can handle a bit of blood–like the kind that comes after a shot. But if I see gushing or spurting blood, I will pass smooth out. Oddly enough, I can watch just about any operation on television, and often find myself intrigued by YouTube videos of dermatologists and other doctors popping or removing huge growths (I know it’s weird, you don’t have to tell me). But in person?? No. I don’t want to see (and I definitely don’t want to smell) any blood, pus, pee, spit or any other disgusting fluids the human body churns out.

Despite my aversion to those things, I have a relatively strong stomach, and in my entire 35 year lifespan have only thrown up about four or five times. Unfortunately, my two older children didn’t get that from me. I had no idea this whole motherhood thing involved so much flipping puke.

I knew there would be copious amounts of pee and poop, of course. I knew there would be occasional cuts that would require antibacterial spray and Band-Aids. Those were the things I was prepared for. I was not ready, nor could I ever have prepared myself to even try to be ready, for PUKE.

Jayden (my 10-year-old son) has asthma. He has had asthma ever since he was three. And in all of those years of prodding and trying to teach him about the condition, he STILL hasn’t made many attempts to try to take care of himself, which is why I am so hesitant to let him go anywhere by himself for long. At school, he has an inhaler that is kept in the office. He will run around outside during recess like Usain Bolt, start coughing, and instead of going into the office for his inhaler, keep running. We have told him around 23646284639762018376 times NOT to inhale his snot because all it does is back up in his chest and he eventually throws it up. Now, if someone told me that ALL I need to do is blow my nose to keep from throwing up, I’d do it. Do you think he does? Nope.

Today my mom asked for the kids. I was all too eager to let them leave–ever since we got back from Alabama I haven’t been on top of several things in the house. Layla ended up getting herself into a bit of trouble, so Mom took Jayden and the baby and left. Not too long after they got to her house, Mom told me that Jayden fell asleep in the car and then went to sleep in her bed. It is rare for him to take a nap during the day. I wasn’t immediately concerned, because sometimes when he goes through growth spurts he sleeps a lot, and I knew that he had woke up earlier than usual that morning. However, when Mom told me he didn’t want to eat, Matt went and got him. His breathing was horrible, and instead of taking it upon himself to get on his nebulizer, which was sitting right at Mom’s house, he did nothing.

Jayden came home and got into bed. He asked for Vernor’s. That let me know that his stomach was stewing. Matt went and got the Vernor’s and went to work. Not ten minutes after Matt left did Jayden throw up the most mucus I’ve ever seen in my entire long three decades plus of life. It was one of the nastiest things I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing. Of course I had to table my revulsion for the moment and hold his hair so that none of it got contaminated and rub his back. After it was over, he sounded a lot better and said he felt better, so that left me with a revolting task–cleaning out the wastebasket.

I looked around for a mask and couldn’t find one. I sprayed it with a little antibacterial spray so that the smell wouldn’t be so stomach-churning. But I still couldn’t stand to look. I know this is nuts, but the only way I could deal with it was to dump an entire box of baking soda into the trash to clump it up. Then I cleaned it out.

Jayden knows how much I love stainless steel appliances. If by the time he grows up I haven’t figured out a way to get them on my own, that’s how he can pay me back. BLEEECHHH!

(He is sleeping peacefully now).

asthma meme

Setbacks… a chance to regroup

A time to be born and a time to die...Ecc. 3_2264850_10150651496025307_4316408_n

 

This month has been full of turmoil.

I already knew that it was going to be off, to say the least, as I have a love-hate relationship with August… It was the month Dad (and Mom) were both born, but also the month that Dad died. The two-year anniversary of his death was August 11th, and there were several other events that coincided with that date that left me moodier and more emotionally frazzled than normal.

On July 29th, we traveled eleven hours to Alabama to see my two very talented brothers-in-law put on a special gospel concert at their church. Their hope is to launch a CD soon, and I have no doubt they will be successful. Not only do they sound like soulful old men, although they are only 17,  one of them plays the drums and one of them plays the keyboard. They taught themselves their instruments. They have the natural skills to pay the bills.

While we were there, we visited my husband’s grandmother, who had recently been put in a nursing home. She knew who we were and was genuinely happy to see us. Before we left her room, she implored Matt to come see her before we left. Matt said, “we’ll see…” But I was not going to let him leave without going back to see her. Turns out, we didn’t have to, because one of her daughters brought her to the concert that was the next day, and although her breathing was labored when she came into the church she seemed fine. I sat next to her and we ate peppermints. She took a nap. Everything seemed fine.

The day after we got back to Michigan, we got a call from my father-in-law telling us that she had died.

My mind was BLOWN. Of course, none of us know when anyone’s time is up, so really, should we be surprised when we find out someone has gone home? I don’t know the answer to that, but all I can say is, she looked fine.

A nagging part of me worried after that call that her funeral might be on the eleventh. Matt wondered the same thing and asked if he should ask John (his father) if they could possibly avoid having the funeral on the 11th. I told him no–that is a difficult day for me, but it is not about me, and I wasn’t going to allow my grief to overshadow the fresh grief of a family who had just lost their mother and grandmother. I told him not to mention it at all.

They settled on August 12th for the funeral, which meant that we would have to leave on the 11th at the latest to head down there. I was supposed to be in charge of the annual church picnic that was to be held the 12th, so I had to reluctantly turn over the reins of the picnic to other church members. We visited Dad’s grave and actually left on the 10th. We didn’t want to have to rush down there.

In addition to my grandmother-in-law’s sudden death, there have been multiple family members getting sick. And I’m not talking small illnesses, I’m talking things that have put them in the hospital. All in all, I have not made the progress that I’ve wanted to with my novel and with my cheesecake hustle. I’ve devoted little time to them both, but I haven’t stopped working on them completely. Instead of being flustered, I am using the time that I have to more thoroughly outline the chapters of my novel when I can and tweak my cheesecake recipes to perfection.

And August is not yet over. Mom’s birthday is on Sunday, Dad’s birthday would have been the 29th. Not to mention back to school is coming up. It’s a pretty chaotic month.

In the midst of it all, I always remember Ecclesiastes 3:2, and how everything has “a time to be born and a time to die”. Everything. Here in Michigan, we are approaching one of my favorite seasons–fall–and the flowers that have bloomed so brightly will wither up and die, and the green leaves on the trees will turn gold and brown. Everything that lives, eventually dies. Just like Dad looked fine when we left him last, just like Mrs. Johnson (grandmother-in-law) looked fine when we left her, there still comes a time when we all have to go. It’s unavoidable. You know what is avoidable? Ending up in the smoking section, as we call it. Grief is difficult, but it can be alleviated when we remember that our saved loved ones are resting in the arms of Jesus.

In order to help my bereaved family, I’ve shared several dreams I’ve had, personal ones that I shared with only my close family, after Dad’s death. In one, Matt, my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, and I were all in a super bright, super sterile looking room that had rows of what looked like examination tables in it. In one instant there were other people in the room; in the next, it was just us, and we were there with Dad, helping him pretty up… We were helping him fix his suit jacket, patting his handkerchief in place, etc. He looked grim, which was unusual for my Dad. Dad was always smiling, especially around us.

I said, “I wish we could go where you’re going…”

He responded, “Y’all can’t go with me right now.”

Need I say more?

In my interpretation, Dad was getting ready to go be with the Lord. And although going to be with Jesus is a joyful prospect, I don’t think most people would be happy to leave their family. I’m sure Dad was sad that he had to leave us, but I can only imagine the joy he felt when he realized he’d made it to be with the Lord.

A time to die. We’re all going to go. And while we’re here it only takes a second to decide where we want to spend our eternity. I’ve made up my mind. I’m looking forward to seeing Dad again.