Entry for April 18, 2009
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 2:21
We have passed through the stark Lenten season and have moved into the joyful Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday approaches. I find it amazing how often life parallels the season of the Church.
In March, Charlie received the sacrament of confirmation. This is the sacrament that began with the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room on Pentecost. We were really excited about this milestone in Charlie’s life. My brother and his family were able to come down here for the event and some good friends of our who live in Smithville celebrated with us as well. My parents were unable to make it because my father had been ill and was forbidden to travel under doctor’s orders. My in-laws were also unable to take the trip, but everyone was there in spirit.
The day before his confirmation, Charlie came up to me and put his forehead against mine and said, “Trust.” He did this several times that day. It was a busy day. I was getting ready to have a party at our house, washing bedding in preparation for my brother’s visit and so I welcomed Charlie’s message as advice to trust God that everything would get done as it needed to Everything did and we were all happy .
The day after my brother and his family left, Joe woke up early and asked to speak to me. He told me that, on Tuesday, the day before Charlie’s confirmation, his company had let go 10% of their staff and he had been a casualty. It took me awhile to process this information. So many things ran through my head. First I thought, how kind of my husband to wait until the visit was over so that I could enjoy Charlie’s special time unmarred by the situation. But my second thought was: How could they do this to us after we moved down here for them? I felt so betrayed. After the shock wore off, the pride set in as I thought of all the people who expressed doubts about whether or not this move would work. What humiliation. Then reality set in. The situation was not good. I know a lot of you are asking, “Why can’t you just go back? You have a house. It should be a no-brainer.” Not that easy. Charlie would not be able to get back into Giant Steps. He would be at the bottom of a waiting list that is hundreds of students long. The school he goes to down here is excellent. We talk, we cry, we plan. We decide to stay. Our housing is an issue, though, because it is corporate owned. We need to leave or pay a very high rent. “How could these bosses, who had been so benevolent, turn on a dime?” I think to myself.
Joe gets right to the task of applying for jobs and making contacts. I offer prayer support and try to figure out how long we can live on what we have and also search for housing. Mostly, I pray. The first order of business is to forgive his ex-bosses. It is Lent, I think, and I am a Christian. I need to forgive right now. Somehow the grace comes and the bitterness goes. At various times it comes creeping back, but mostly I am able to manage the grace that was given me and I even get to the point where I can pray for them. God is good.
It is an emotional roller coaster. I juggle periods of hope with those of complete terror. Two days after Joe breaks the news, there is Eucharistic Adoration at church. I go. I sit in front of Jesus and I cry. I tell Him all of my worries. He listens. “Lord,” I ask, “Don’t you have a way to console me right now? I am really afraid for us. The economy stinks and it could be a very long time before Joe lands a new job.” All of a sudden, my soul is flooded with peace and I hear a voice. Not a real, audible voice, but a voice that speaks inside my heart and says, “I am speaking to you through your son.” Huh? I think, I ponder and then the light bulb comes on. Charlie! Charlie has been telling me to trust!
We tell our pastor and some friends at church about the situation. They all promise to pray. We do not tell our parents. Our fathers are both having health issues right now and we do not want to put undue stress on them. We hope and pray it gets resolved soon so we can tell them when it is over.
The next Sunday friends of ours pay for us to go to the pancake breakfast after Mass. I am so touched by this that I have a meltdown. I literally cannot stop crying. A woman who I barely know comes up to me and tells me that the whole parish is saddened by our news and everyone is praying for us. “We care about all of you,” she says and gives me a hug. I look over at Joe, who is taking to a fellow K of C. The guy is crying. I can’t believe the outpouring of love. I remember that we are all God’s instruments and that this love is really coming from Him, so I run into the sanctuary, kneel in front of the tabernacle and thank Him for showing us His love through others.
I keep praying. I ask God to take care of our every need. I ask him to get us all into the doctor and dentist before the insurance runs out. Miraculously, appointments open up and we all get seen. I ask Him to find a house for us. Coincidentally, I run into our realtor while I was out one day. I tell her what is going on. She vows to find us a house. A tall order. We need a large house at a rent we can afford in case the situation continues for a long time. She e-mails me listings and we go see a few. Nothing pans out.
I have many sleepless nights. All I can do is throw my family on the mercy of God. So much here is beyond our control. Many nights I lie in bed repeating, “God, I believe, I hope and I trust in Your Mercy,” until morning comes.
Joe and I talk some more. We decide to go and get the rest of our stuff from St. Charles. We have a few large things there. We also decide that I should be the one to go because I am really needing some time away. I go out and collect the stuff and my adventurous friend Kerry agrees to make the drive down with me. Her hubby helps load up a truck and we take off to Smithville. It was a good trip. I got to stay with my parents and see another good friend, which was wonderful. It was the first time I had seen my father since his health problems and it was good to see him on the mend. The time off from thinking and worrying was helpful, too. Kerry stayed an extra day to visit before she flew back. While she was here we get a call from the realtor about a house that was on the market, but the owners are willing to lease. We go over and look at it. It is gorgeous., with a great backyard for the kids. Joe likes it, I like it and Kerry also gives it the thumbs up. We begin negotiations with the owners.
Holy Saturday comes. I am joyful. The song “Shout to the Lord” plays over and over in my head. I think of how it is good to be joyful in the midst of tribulations. We are together, we can live for several months without going down in flames and Joe was getting a lot of interviews. We attend the Easter Vigil service, which is about 3 hours long. Noah served. He was the candle bearer, which meant he had to light a small candle from the Easter candle that Father had blessed and pass the light on to the parishioners. The church was dark, except for the candle light, to emphasize the fact that Jesus is the light in the darkness. I thought about how God never changes. He never stops loving us even though we may stop loving or believing in Him. I thought of how Jesus conquered all, even death. My hope was renewed and Easter joy invaded my soul that day.
On Easter morning Joe receives a call from Brett, a former co-worker. “Allelulia! He is risen!” says Brett when Joe picks up the receiver. He proceeds to tell Joe about a job opening at a company where he knows the owner well. Brett recommended Joe for the job and the owner wants Joe to call him the next day.
During the Easter Octave, Joe gets the job offer and we sign a lease for the new house. He starts the new job on Monday and we move in on June 1st.
Life is definitely not what I had envisioned, but it is good. I never thought we’d be long term renters, but it’s looking like that’s the way it is going to be. But we have a place to live. Joe’s new job is base+commission, which is new to us as well. But he has a job. All I can say is...
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 2:21
Entry for February 18, 2009
We are home a lot, because school takes up so much time, but life is not boring. It helps that my kids have wacky senses of humor...
I have a running "to do" list on the white board in our kitchen. Since our homeschool group meets this Friday and we are having a Valentine exchange, I wrote "Make Valentines" on the list. Noah, the prankster, erased some of the letters, so now it says, "Make ale." What a wise guy.
In school, we are reviewing verb tenses with Bella. I had her read me some sentences and tell me whether they were in past, present or future tense. When we were done, there was a doodle in her note book, of a gift with a face on it that looked worried. Above the drawing, Bella wrote "present, tense."
Entry for February 10, 2009
I have always had healthy teeth. I have just one filling and still have all my wisdom teeth. Of course I have a huge space between my front teeth. Not an alluring, Lauren Hutton kind of space; an embarassing, hate-to-smile kind of space. But I digress. Imagine my surpise when I got a toothache. It was a really bad toothache. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and was eyeing the pliers trying to decide whether I should just get it out of my mouth on my own. I felt wimpy. I have had 4 of my children with no epidural, but the tooth I couldn't deal with.
I wound up making an emergency apointment with a dentist. He looks at the tooth. "Well," he says, "we can pull it or do a root canal." "PULL IT!!!" I scream. "Get it out of my mouth!!!" He chuckles. "Well, for a woman of your age, you have very good teeth..." Wait one minute! Did he say, "For woman of your age?!"
After that disturbing statement I could no longer hear what he was saying. Everything was "Blah, blah, blah." I was stuck on the offending phrase. Someone asked me if it was like listening to Charlie Brown's teacher. Yes, it was, but garbled.
When I recovered, he explained that if I pull the tooth it will result in losing the wisdom tooth down the road and he thinks it would be better to do the root canal. So, he patched me up and gave me drugs and sent me on my way.
I went and had the root canal. The endodontist (everyone's a specialist) told me that my root canal would take longer because I have some rare root formation that only occurs once every time Haley's Comet passes (or something like that). I nodded my head and tried not to drool and prayed that this didn't mean he could charge me twice as much. I had already had to agree to indenture two of my children as servants just for the co-pay.
After the root canal healed, I needed to go to a regular dentist for a crown. The hygienist wanted to take a look at it first, so I went in for a visit. When I open my mouth, she remarks, "Wow! Nice teeth! If I didn't know better, I would think I was looking at a 25 year old, just by your teeth." Luckily, her hand was in my mouth, or I would have said, "Just by my butt, you would think I was 87."
So, it all balances out, doesn't it?
Entry for January 19, 2009
OK, so it is MLK Day and the tree is still up. Just haven't had the time to take it down. I am thinking of leaving it up. Noah's birthday is this week. It could be a birthday tree, with LEGOs and Bionicles on it. A few weeks later it would be a Valentine's Day tree with chocolate hearts. After that, it would become a Washington's Birthday tree, with wooden teeth and cherries. Bella's birthday comes next, so we would decorate it with the Schleich animals she loves so much. On Ash Wednesday, we'll burn it.
Entry for December 25, 2008
So, Christmas is Angelina's birthday. I always give the kids a choice of what they want for their birthday meal. Anything (within reason) goes for the birthday kid. This year Angelina chooses Chinese food. The kids were all shocked. On Christmas????? I explain that Angelina can have whatever she cooses and if she wants Chinese food, then that is what she is getting. Secretly, I was hoping she would choose a turkey or a roast of some sort, but I have to keep my word, don't I?
Well, we ordered Chinese for our Christmas/Angelina's birthday dinner and it was great! I didn't have to cook! Everyone liked the food! Wahoo! After dinner, I innocently ask Angelina if she liked her birthday dinner. "Loved it, Mom!" she exclaims, giving me one of her sunny smiles. "Should we get Chinese food every year for your birthday?" I ask. "All right!" she says. So, there it is, a new tradition. Egg rolls, roast pork fried rice, General Tso's Chicken, crab rangoon and a partridge in a pear tree. And NO DISHES!!
For her cake, Angelina wanted a Hershey's Disappearing Cake, a really decadent chocolate cake that I make from scratch. The cake is tempermental, though. It either comes out of the pan perfectly or you have a mess of crumbs. There is never any indication as to what will happen when you tap that cooled cake pan. This time it was a mess of crumbs. Arrgh! I had baked the cake on the 23rd and put the two lumps of crumbs on plates and into the freezer to deal with on the big day.
After dinner, I get to work decorating the cake. I had bought chocolate frosting last week, but Charlie found it and ate it, so I had to go out on Christmas Eve and buy more. I hid it in my underwear drawer so he wouldn't find it. I remove the cakes from the freezer and go get the frosting. I open it up to see that it is open, and half eaten. "CHARLIE!!!" I yell, exasperated. I feel like the guy from the chipmunks who is always yelling for Alvin. That is what my life is like. I must yell, "CHARLIE!!" at least twice a day and at least one of those times involves him eating something he shouldn't (remember the gingerbread?). Sigh... Joe comes running in and I show him the frosting can. He looks panicked. "What do we do?!" he yells. "We make the frosting," I say. By some miracle, I have confectioner's sugar in the house. I never use the stuff, but one day I was compelled to buy it. It must have been a little nudge from my Guardian Angel. I get on allrecipes.com and find a simple choclate icing recipe. Joe melts the butter while I gather up the other ingredients. Everything goes into my trusty Mixmaster and we had some good frosting. I did not ask Charlie if he wanted to lick the whisk attachment. That went to my hubby as a reward for helping me make frosting in no time flat.
When I start to frost the cake I realize I had left it out of the freezer and now it was all crumby. It probably has to be the ugliest cake I have ever decorated. The frosting was just full of crumby lumps. I put lots of swirls and flowers and made the letters cover the majority of the cake, but it was still pretty ugly. My little sweetie didn't mind. Angelina wanted red flowers with sprinkles in the middle and she was very happy with what I came up with.
All in all, we had a great Christmas. We woke up early, and went to 9:00 a.m. Mass, where Noah served. He did a great job. After Mass, we stayed and chatted with all our friends. Then we came home and opened gifts, said the Angelus, ate dinner, decorated a birthday cake and had a birthday party. We all went to bed tired and happy.
Before I fall asleep, I mentally visit the little baby in the manger. I tell Him about my day and I thank Him for all the gifts he has given our family. But before I drift off, the last thought on my mind is:
WHAT was Charlie doing in my underwear drawer???