Friday, September 28, 2012

My Girl is Awesome

Excuse me while I brag shamelessly about my child, you have been warned click away now if you don't want to hear gushing about the sheer brilliance and adorable tendencies of LG. That being said let me tell you how awesome my kid is...

Tonight we took her to her first live show, Disney on Ice. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision and I scored awesome tickets that were in the first row. I had no idea that the tickets were that good, I knew they were close but not that close to the rink. I was very surprised because we didn't pay the exorbitantly high VIP price, we went middle of the road, which even seems like a splurge but LG had birthday money that we had saved for experiences because we have enough stuff.

I had never been to Disney on Ice, I had no idea what to expect, after a quick facebook poll, it was clear that she was old enough to go. A friend of mine gave me the inside track, most of the little girls would be wearing their Disney princess dresses. I said we don't have any princesses but we have Minnie. So I asked LG do you want to wear your Minnie outfit or regular clothes. She said mommy I just want to wear my regular clothes. I asked three times and three times she said regular clothes. So we settled on her Daisey shirt. She saw all the other little girls and didn't bat an eyelash at their princess garb. I am counting this as a score because she is currently rejecting princess culture in favor of Mickey, Minnie, Daisey and Pluto.

Then I we took her to the souvenir stand and said you can pick something. Blinking, spinning lights, princess glitter galore, she chose a simple Minnie Mouse toy. I was really surprised because she plays with these lights everywhere we go. She sat through the show clutching Minnie and is in bed with her, even though she is hard plastic. This kid knows what she wants and isn't afraid to pick something that isn't popular. I love this, even at 3. I don't know if it will be this way in two years but for right now I am counting it another victory.

We walk into the arena and she spent a fair amount of time watching the lights move and work as well as some of the other rigging. I cracked up, she is definitely our kid. I just love her curiosity about everything.

The show started and I wish I had the camera ready, her face was absolutely priceless. We did get a few pictures of the show but I missed that initial reaction. It's in my memory though. Half way through she told us she wanted to come to the Mickey show again tomorrow.

She liked Mickey and Minnie the best and they were out the least and she was mildly disappointed that Pluto and Daisey didn't come out. Over all though she had a great time and I am so glad that we took her and got to really enjoy her and the show. I am so proud of her and I can't wait to see how she keeps on walking to the beat of her own drum.Oh and she wants to go ice skating... that's what she told us... not a peep about being a princess, at least today.

Today I am grateful that we had the means to have this experience with LG and the moments to just savor her childhood. We are blessed, so very blessed.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Since I have found myself in this mode of survival, just survive the day and then tomorrow you can get through that, things are different. I have been trying to establish a routine that helps me get through the work of each day quickly. Since I am very much in a place of celebrate the little things, today I completed my first week of 6am work outs. It's the first time I have gotten a full week done. So the routine is coming. I hope it soon includes basic house work chores and sleep. The problem with the survive the day is I end up scrambling a lot. Yesterday I didn't have a sitter for an extra class period until an hour before hand and that is stressful. Slowly though I am getting a hold of this semester and the things that need to happen in life.

Today I am grateful for the routine and that I haven't shut the alarm off and rolled over.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Truth About (my) Grief

"Becca, right now you have 1000 triggers."
"Yes and I don't even know what they all are."

That is the nature of my grief right now. I am trying to own this grief and process it and find a way to heal a little. I don't want to push it down until one day I end up crying at some inopportune time because I haven't dealt with the loss. Here's what I know, I know this loss won't go away, this has become forever a part of me. I  know that over time I will get used to this new hole in my heart and while it may never be comfortable I will be able to live my life in a "normal" way. A time when looking at yellowing trees doesn't make me cry and listening to the radio while you get ready for class isn't a risky behavior.

It's true about the triggers, you would not believe the things that make me all sappy and weepy. This morning it was a song about living a good life. At first the familiar tune made me feel like I wanted to just live life and tackle the world, the perfect weather outside helped that kind of high on life feeling. Then I started thinking about the life cut short and a few tears came. I was affirmed in my seize the moment attitude because we don't know when it's all going to be over. This is not a new way of looking at life for me, when I was 8 my world changed and I have since held this view. However recently with renewed gusto.

I also find myself reminiscing a lot. Not that I want to go back to another time in my life but just remembering how much fun some of these times were and the freedom found in those moments of pleasure or joy. Most of my remembering has been inspired by either the weather or music.

Lastly, learning to grieve as I accept and grow into my identity as clergy changes a lot too. I can't just hide in my bed for a week doing minimal life stuff. I have got to get up everyday and get things done.

This morning as I walked I thought of so many things that I could write about but none of them were really authentic. This is where I am at. As I establish a routine it is helping me get through the long days. I am learning to have grace with myself when everything doesn't get done.

I am grateful for the grace I have found with myself, my openness to this grief process (even if it hurts) and this perfect weather.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unexpected Affirmation

About two weeks ago I lead my sister in law's memorial service. I felt it was a great honor to be asked to do so and trusted with such a tender time for all involved. I felt though that it was a gift I could give Donna and a gift to my brother. While I hope it was received as a heartfelt gift and I suspect it was, I really was the one who has received the gift. First I was able to identify a significant part of my call story that I didn't identify as a part of it before. When I was 14 I wrote a poem when my grandfather died that was read at the funeral. I eulogized both my dad and step dad. Then I lead my grandmother's memorial. I thought at one point that I would never be off the hook again. I suppose this is a part of my gifts, part of my call to this life of ministry. The strength I had the day we said good bye to Donna, it wasn't mine, there was nothing less in those moments than a strength that came from God. It is weird to find a part of your pastoral identity at your sister in law's funeral.

When I finished the service many people came up to me and thanked me and said beautiful things about my ability. I did for a moment question if people were just being nice but Paul said no, if it was bad they wouldn't have said anything.  This is where the gift really comes, in this horrible moment, I was able to in a very small way minister to my family, which is not something they would have seen otherwise. I felt like in this very holy moment my family saw who I am created to be and what I am called to and why. This has been one of my strongest struggles in accepting my call to lead God's people, that my family doesn't understand and I wished that they could.

Last night I posted the text of the memorial to a special blog page so people who weren't able to make it could read it. Again the affirmation is pouring in and I am humbled. 

It is not the best place or circumstance to receive such affirmation but there it was, there it is. It is creating a new sort of confidence in me. Yet, I feel kind of guilty, this isn't about me, it is about the loss of a loved one and the memory of her life, it's about God. Here I am though feeling very me things.

Selfish as I may feel I am grateful for the gift of affirmation I have received and even more grateful for getting to share my authentic self with the people whom I hold so dear to my heart.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finding the Good

I don't know that I have ever experienced stress like this. The beginning of the semester, coupled with grief and being a week behind on top of the regular stress of juggling childcare and just life with no family close by. I already missed my family terribly before Donna passed away. Now it's like a pain that won't go away. Everywhere I look something reminds me of the people I hold dear. Tears well up in my eyes at seemingly random times. I just want to go home and I don't know where home is. This is hard. It might be the hardest thing I have ever gone through.

In spite of the pain, the confusion, the anger, the lack of patience and all that goes with it, I can still see the good.

Things for which I am grateful:

1. Nutella, yesterday I opened my cabinet and found the nutella my friend gifted me. It made me smile. Then I learned it's even better with peanut butter. So this morning it was toast with peanut butter and nutella. You should stop what you are doing and try it right now.

2. A high that is in the sixties today. It feels like fall and right now, I need that, its like a gift to my soul.

3. My not so baby girl, laughing and giggling and learning and growing.

4. This Pumpkin Spice Coffee. It's a good pick me up. Bonus because it makes me feel like fall is really here.

Today it is safe to say in the middle of this storm that I am grateful for the little things that remind me I am alive, that life is going on and that one day I will again feel "normal".

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grief & Gratitude

This is the hardest loss I have ever had to face. I nearly lost it in class yesterday when I heard my final paper would be on "Death, Dying and the Christian Funeral". I really didn't hear a word after that until my friend looked at me and said "Are you ok?" I laughed about the sheer irony of it  after class. I have no idea how I will write that paper.

I am still crying. I don't think I have ever cried this much. I am having a really hard time getting back into "normal" life. My ability to focus is minimal. Anger is here. Patience is low. Tolerance is low.

This morning, LG insisted upon watching a Christmas sing a long. It made me want to throw up. We were here last year and that was hard enough to not be with family. We have already talked about traveling this year because of this loss and the need for support at those times which are the hardest. This morning I realized that not only will Christmas be hard for my brother and his kids, its going to suck for me too. I can't avoid it, LG has been looking forward to Christmas since we took the decorations down.

I just want to feel normal again.

In more positive news I have some great people who are bending over backwards to help me out with caring for LG and I am so grateful for that gift.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What changes in a moment or a week...

Sunday Sept. 2- I wrote a post about how I was ready to face the challenges this year brings.
Monday Sept. 3- My sister-in-law Donna dies suddenly. I learn this from my nephew, her son at 10:30 pm. I had just sat down to look at home rentals and my phone rang.
Tuesday Sept. 4- We ran around in preparing to leave to be with our family.
Wed. Sept. 5- We arrive. I am asked to lead the memorial. We begin what seems like sitting Shiva.
Thursday Sept. 6- I should be starting classes for my second year. Instead I go out with my sister and niece to order food for the post funeral meal.
Friday Sept. 7- I run around like a crazy woman preparing for the funeral. I write the memorial.
Saturday Sept. 8- I lead the memorial. I receive affirmation of my gifts from places I never expected it. I held it together and didn't cry during. I attribute this to nothing less than God and the prayers of my friends at school and in two congregations. The song the band dedicated after though nearly brought me to my knees.

Somewhere along the way I realized how much the day after my 14th birthday changed my life. My grandfather passed away, I wrote a poem, it was read at the funeral and credited to someone else. When my dad died I wrote again but I had the courage to read it myself. My step dad the same. By the time my grandmother died I took care of the whole funeral. This was no different and I realized that not only was this an integral part of the story of my call, but that I would never be off the hook again. I will always be writing or speaking for family funerals.
Sunday was Paul's birthday we delayed celebration.
Monday we left and I cried my eyes out the first leg of the trip.
Tuesday we arrive at our "temporary home". I find our apartment cleaned and stocked with food by the friends who have already graciously watched over our cat. I cry at the site of their kindness.

Today anger reared it's ugly head. I am overwhelmed with how much I have to do and I feel like I am in some sort of fog. It is hard to pray. It is hard to read class readings about the good news. It feels like some sort of dream.

Today I am grateful for my family who is still so close despite the distance between us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life's not Fair...

Life's not fair was a common refrain in our house during my teenage years. Tonight I would like to add to that death doesn't do much better. Tonight we lost my dear sister in law Donna to a heart attack. She is much more like my sister, she married my oldest brother when I was 9. She was young and healthy. No one saw it coming.

At 10:30 my phone rang I looked to see who was calling, it was my mother. I knew immediately something terrible had happened. It's the kind of call you don't want to answer. I answered and there was hysterical crying on the other end. It took me awhile to make out the words, mommy's gone I can't live with out her Aunt Beck. I realized then I was talking to my nephew. I was trying hard to get my head around these words, surely he was just over reacting to some health scare. He was not. I talked to my mother confirmed what seemed like a nightmare. Then I had to call our youngest brother. I came in and told Paul then I went for a walk.

I sat down on some steps and was soon joined by a friend.

Dear Donna,
I was sitting on some concrete steps tonight after a devastating phone call from Colt. I remembered how we used to sit on the steps in Forked River when dad was first sick. You would let me cry my eyes out. I found it ironic that I was sitting on some steps crying because you are gone. I thought about how 13 years ago you asked me to be Colt's Godmother. I guess today is the day that I make good on my vows to you, your family and God. I never thought that I would have to but I am ever willing. I will take care of Colt, sit him down on some steps and let him cry. Don't worry I will make sure Dennis and Kelly and the grand-kids are alright too. You are the reason I had to tell Lilia about heaven. That just isn't right... I told her you have wings and you get to be with God. She recognized your picture while we were talking. That made Paul burst into tears. This is like the shittiest thing ever and I lack comprehension. Tonight I believe in God not because I believe in a good a gracious God but because I need to believe that you are in heaven with all those who have gone before you planning a kick ass party for when the rest of us show up late. You after all were always the early one.

With all my love,
Your little sister,

PS- For over a week Lilia has been telling me that we were going to grandma's house again. I think she knew more than we did.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Changes in a Year

We have lived in our new home for just slightly over a year and I was reflecting on what can change in a year...

1. We moved to an entirely new place.
2. We have mastered navigating said new place.
3. 33 Master's Degree Credits (this puts me just over 1/3 of the way done).
4. 6 of those credits were in Hebrew and I passed, making Hebrew a thing of my past.
5. I became an Inquirer again with the PC(USA).
6. I found both a Spiritual Director and a Therapist.
7. I worked hard at landing my dream placement for my internship, success.
8. Traveling with a preschooler solo by car and for her first plane ride. We went to camp in NC, NJ and FL.
9. Touring a ton of preschools, making a decision and LG starting preschool. (Also found and hired a sitter that wasn't family!)
10. Passing the Bible Content Exam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
12. Ditching the binky.
13. Another birthday party for LG, this one seemed never ending.
14. A slew of holidays in a new place with much less family.
15. The loss of my sweet sweet Mirembe.
16. Wisdom teeth are gone.
17. A big girl bed.
18. We bought our first couch.
19. I now drive a minivan.
20. Survived our first tornado bearing storms and learned what to do when the sirens sound.

There are new friends, we have tried all sorts of new food (I really enjoy Mediterranean cuisine), we have found lots of fun places to go, the list goes on and on. This year has taught me that I am much stronger than I ever knew. I can handle more pressure and a very thin budget. There have been moments when I didn't think I would survive or that our little family would survive. Here we are though sitting around our dining room table on a rainy Sunday afternoon which seems like a gift. It hasn't all been good, I applied for and was was rejected for scholarships and jobs. There have been weddings, funerals and new babies born into the world. We have missed events that were huge for our loved ones because we followed the call here. Mostly we are constantly learning and adjusting and surviving. It's been a good year. I start back to full time classes on Thursday, hopefully I will remain in a good rhythm of writing, praying and exercising that I have been working hard on this summer.I am mourning the loss of lazy Sunday mornings from time to time and trying to embrace my new up and out of the house 6 days a week routine. Saturdays will certainly become more sacred, with trips to the farmers' markets being a staple in our Saturday routine (watch this week for a post about our farmers' market challenge). 

This year I begin my study of Greek, I have already learned the alphabet. I have reading assignments that I need to work on and way too many things that haven't been crossed off my summer to do list. I know though that the important things are taken care of and I am strong enough to face the challenges that I know lie ahead like juggling classes, preschool, the housework, Greek and field education. Writing my candidacy papers and a full psych evaluation. Then there is all the unknown that I am sure will come with this second year of seminary. It has been a challenging year and I can see so many ways in which I have grown. I am not the same girl I was a year ago and dare I say I will not be this girl a year from now.

Today I am grateful for a relaxed rainy afternoon in which I can reflect upon all that has happened in this year.