Monthly Archives: June 2008

Confessions of a domestically challenged mom

Psa 113:9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

When I first read that verse, y’all, I thought to myself: Now here’s a promise I can sink my teeth into! OK, so I am not barren. But there are areas of ‘fruit-lessness’ (a.k.a. as barrenness) in my life and keeping house is definitely one of them. Let’s just say I am domestically challenged, always have been. I am OK with the joyful mother of children part. Since I have never quite grown up myself, and I am still so much a child at heart, enjoying my kids isn’t too hard for me.

It’s that other thing. That keeping house thing. I have been particularly iffy about that lately. I have had some ‘blah’ days this week where the last thing on my want-to-do-list was housework. I have been keeping up with the bare minimum so things have not descended into absolute chaos, but some days it teeters on the edge.

Enter my does-house-cleaning-for-a-living friend. She came over to drop her son off for a visit today, and just knowing she’d be here got me going. Isn’t it funny? I did more house work this morning than I did the last two weeks combined! My friend has the philosophy that your house reflects how well it is with your soul and that a neglected house is a sign of someone who is in a bad place spiritually. I am not sure how accurate she is about that since I have some OCD friends whose lives are perfect on the outside but a mess on the inside. But anyhow, I couldn’t let her think I was in a bad way now, could I?

Let me tell you though…it feels gooooooood to have my house in order tonight. How long it will last I don’t know. My floors have already lost their pristine status now that the boys tracked dirt in after their swim and the sad thing is, they will do it again about 4 times tomorrow. And the day after.

Having an out-of-the-box thinking son who lives life at 1000 miles an hour and couldn’t be bothered with such insignificant things as clean houses doesn’t help to keep the house in order. Recently, I was dismayed to see that he had dirtied three plates just to eat one (very juicy) orange. When I asked him how he managed to do that, he answered:

“I needed three plates, mom. One to eat over, and two to put my elbows on because the juice was leaking down my arms.”

The youngest piped up: “Uhhh… juice doesn’t lick.”

ūüôā

I love these quirky conversations with my kids, and I love seeing what makes them tick. I am sad that there won’t be any more sweet/funny moments like that with Jenna. I regret not writing them down at the time. I remember so many times when she had all of us rolling on the floor and now I can’t recall her exact words.

I remember the times when Jenna would go on a cleaning spree with her own spray bottle and a cloth or paper towel. She loved scouting my floor or coffee table for ‘dirties’ that needed to be wiped clean. She’d spray so much water with her spray bottle though that soon the paper towel would get saturated and I would have to get her a new one. I went through more paper towels than I had intended, but who could resist indulging such a cute little cleaner?

Missing Jenna this week made me feel ‘blah’. Perhaps my friend would have been correct if she thought my house reflected my state of mind, except that it looked so much better by the time she came. It was a vicious circle this week: feeling blah, moping around, feeling more blah because I moped around and got nothing done…

The week ended with me realising that if I do not get a grip on my soul and lift it up to God, I am in danger of sinking into a depression. Depression and grief are two very different things, and the former is characterised by a prolonged feeling of despair, hopelessness and a general withdrawal from life. Grief is painful, to be sure, but grieving people generally retain their capacity to laugh and enjoy life in between the waves of sorrow. (Check out this article about the difference between grief and depression, I found it insightful)

To set your minds at ease, I do not think I am depressed. I do realise though that if I entertain certain thoughts and certain habits, and if I do not turn them over to Jesus, I could possibly head that way.

I picked up The Silver Chair from the Chronicles of Narnia series at a book sale this week and have already devoured it. (Have I told you all I love children’s books?) I was struck by the parallels to our christian lives in the book. On the high mountaintop at the end of the world, Jill has a ‘heavenly perspective’ and her mind is clear. Aslan warns her that when she goes down to Narnia though, things get a lot more muddled. It is when I open up my heart to hear from Jesus and to be close to him that things make sense and I am strengthened to carry on. It is when I surround myself exclusively with the mundane everyday struggles that life gets murky.

Like Jill, I am sometimes so foolishly hesitant to come to the mountain spring to get a good drink of his living water, but when I do I am always so glad I did.

Psa 68:9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.

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This journey

OK…you all have convinced me. Here is the loooooong post I wrote last week, posted for a few minutes, and then deleted:

I just love our Bible school! As I sat there this week, surrounded by my family in the Lord, sensing the sweet presence of God in the room as we worshipped him together, I thought to myself: When all is said and done, this is where I want to be. Yes, I would give my right arm to have Jenna back. Anytime. Plus a whole lot more. But if this is how it must be, then I am glad that I am here. I am grateful for the precious people in my life, for the awesome Word I am priviledged to sit under, for that deep stirring inside my heart that whispers promises of great things to come.

Every day has pain, but every day has hope. It is a surprising paradox. Pain and joy, mountain highs and valley lows, my weakness and His strength, all co-exist in a strange harmony.

We were singing the old song: “Father, we love you, we praise you we adore you, glorify thy name in all the earth…” on Sunday. The song is sung to each person of the Godhead in turn, and as we sang it to the Holy Spirit I realised again how grateful I am for his indwelling presence that is such a comfort and a strength to me as I walk this road. For much of my christian life, I have paid attention to who God is as a Father, and who Jesus is as my redeemer, but I have not given the same focus to the Holy Spirit as the One who dwells inside me. It is He who endues me with the rivers of life which I need to outlast this wilderness experience. And his fellowship is beyond precious.

When Elijah had run away from Jezebel, (see 1 Kings 19) and found himself despairing of life in a barren and inhospitable place, an angel awoke him and showed him a cake baking on the coals and a cruse of water at his head. The angel told him to rise up and eat, for the journey is too great for him. My journey is too great for me too. But as I eat of the cake of God’s word and swallow it down with the water of His Spirit, I am refreshed and strengthened for what lies ahead.

It is still early enough in our journey to find unexpected reminders of Jenna around the house. Yesterday it was the little inserts that were in the boots that Jenna had picked out for herself on our last epic shopping trip together. She had put on those brown and pink boots right there in the store, and strutted along in them, much to the delight of other shoppers who thought she was the cutest thing they had ever seen. When we arrived home I had stuffed the big shopping bag in my pantry in the kitchen for later use, without bothering to empty it properly. I discovered the bag with its precious, utterly useless contents yesterday, and promptly folded it up again and returned it to where it was before. Yup, sentimental old me.

This is going to sound awfully strange to you all.¬†There are useless items with a Jenna connection (however small) that I have tossed in the trash can. But before I do, I pause to kiss it (if it is at all kissable, LOL) simply because I remember that it was a ‘Jenna thing’. There. I just provided you all with your ‘weird mental image of the day’!¬†Seeing Sumi standing in front of a trash can kissing the empty box of¬†zip-lock bags¬†because Jenna helped me pack¬†our toiletries¬†in the baggies¬†before we flew to South Africa. If you ever wondered whether I was normal, you now know that I am not! ūüėĬ†¬†

It is so strange that this house is so full of Jenna’s things, and so empty of her. Her clothes are still in her closet, her toys in their place, her big fat Tom cat still sleeps at my feet at nights, her scribbles are on the walls and in my bible, I still find her hair scrunchies in the oddest places. Her cheese sticks and electrolyte solution are still in the fridge. The wii character that the boys created for her still appears in their games. Every now and then Jenna’s mii scores a home run and the boys cheer and thank her for it. Another mii character named “Harry” that Jenna made with her younger brother’s help is still around too.

I often catch myself looking at these floors, these walls, these furniture and thinking that there was a time that they were touched by Jenna on a daily basis. Her little feet walked here, she sat over there, she splashed around in that bathtub. Sometimes I have to pinch myself – was she really here? Everything around me cries out that she was, but her absence is so absolute and complete it is hard to wrap my mind around it.

Our neighbor was away this week and asked if I could walk her little maltese poodle, Morsel, for her. It was a request I had been expecting, and one that brought back many bittersweet memories of Jenna. Walking Morsel was¬†the highlight of Jenna’s day. We would walk down to the neighbor’s house, and often Junior the cat would accompany us, winding between Jenna’s legs as we moseyed along. It would take a while to even get to their house, since Jenna would stop every so often to love on Junior.

When we reached our destination Jenna would ‘push the button’ to open the garage door and Junior would make himself comfortable underneath a parked car outside. Morsel would nearly jump out of his skin to see us and Jenna would try to pet him while I clipped the leash on to the little bundle of excitement. Jenna would then grab a hold of the leash while we let Morsel do his business outside.¬†She could handle Morsel by herself for the most part, and was proud of it!

Once Morsel was done, Jenna would lovingly give¬†him a doggie treat. Her favorite part came next – she would select a few lollipops from the bunch that the neighbor had purposely left out for us.¬†We¬†would walk home with a handful of lollipops.¬†Two or three for Jenna, and some for ‘the brudders’.¬†¬†Junior would follow us home again, and¬†often¬†we sat¬†down on our front door step¬†to pet him for a little while before going inside.

Jenna didn’t want the neighbors¬†to come¬†back home. She wanted to continue walking Morsel and¬†would ask for many days afterwards to go and do it again.¬†She would tantrum about going, in fact. ūüôā

I find it strange now to go¬†through the ‘ritual’ without Jenna there to add her special little spark. Every time I open that garage door I remember that it used to be¬†her job. I shouldn’t be giving Morsel a treat, Jenna should. I feel the same way when I turn on the dishwasher, load dirty clothes in the washer, or switch off our bedside light. Jenna delighted in doing those things too. Like any little girl her age she loved being a part of what I was doing and I miss her little precious presence ‘helping’ me as I go about cleaning my bathroom mirrors or mopping my floors.

Jenna has left an unfathomable hole in my life, there’s no denying it.¬† Yet…on that dreary day when we buried Jenna the Lord promised me that a new thing would spring forth in my life, and I am daring to believe him.¬† I can feel it. My spirit anticipates it, and part of me is straining to see what lies ahead on this journey, while¬†another part of me is tempted to linger on the memories¬†so that nothing will be left behind¬†as I move on from here.

Isa 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Just me, talking.

I keep writing posts that I am not publishing right now, for some silly reason. The last one was too long, I thought, so I didn’t share it.¬†(I might still publish it sometime.) I am saving all these drafts, because even though they are not visible to all of you, they are to me and I could re-visit them a year or more from now and be reminded of these days.

Another reason I haven’t posted is because I feel my posts are just really mundane at the moment and not worthy to be shared.¬†As I sit here right now,¬† all the interesting thoughts I could have possible shared here on this little corner of the web have mysteriously left my brain. Seriously. I had a really good blog entry forming in my head earlier today. Can I remember any of it now? Nope!

Perhaps I am starting to¬†succumb to the pressure to give you all something ‘good’ to read. Not that anyone has put any pressure on me in any way, but because my blog stats have been rising steadily. All of a sudden I feel like my posts need to measure up to some kind of standard, so that people will get their proverbial money’s worth when they come here.

Sigh. How silly of me!¬†I started this blog for me. Jenna’s death changed the dynamic of it somewhat and it has since become a place where I could keep my friends and family informed on how I am doing, as well a simply a place for me to blab and blurt out my thoughts. It was a great processing center in the early days, as I struggled to re-define my relationship with Jenna after she went heaven. It has served to encourage me too, as¬†I have pondered on the greatness and faithfulness and generosity of my God, and his plans for me.

Much as I love the comments and the visitors, that is really not what it is about.¬† I am just going to keep it real. Sooooo, if my posts are boring, I apologise. If they are too long, sorry. If they are not sad enough, happy enough, hopeful enough, despairing enough,¬†profound enough, mundane enough…please forgive me.¬† If it weren’t for the searches¬†I get¬†for ‘Sumi’s Corner’ on the web I might have considered changing the name of the blog to ‘Sumi’s Blurbs’ or something like that. (I just love the word ‘blurb’, don’t you? it sounds soooo….blurbish.) My son has always told me¬†‘Sumi’s Corner’¬†is a lame name anyway. ūüėĬ†

Generally speaking, I am doing fine. Not a day goes by that I don’t shed a few tears for Jenna (I told hubby in the car the other day that putting on mascara for church is a waste of time), but I am sleeping better at night and slowly moving on. I packed away some of Jenna’s things over the weekend, and this morning I even considered selling some of the clothes I had collected for her on Ebay.

I started shopping for Jenna from the moment I knew she was a girl. Through the years, I would visit yard sales and consignment stores and snap up everything that was a gorgeous bargain. I have a huge bag of clothes from size 3 to around size 6 that were still too big for Jenna. Since she hadn’t officially worn them yet, I thought I wouldn’t find it too hard to part with them. As I laid them out on my bed this morning though, memories came flooding back of the many times Jenna and I had oohed and aahed over that bag of clothes together and I just couldn’t do it. There are a couple of 4T dresses in the bag that Jenna had tried on and twirled around in, admiring herself in¬†the mirror. They were much too big for her at the time but she still had fun with them.

Sooooo….the bag is back in it’s place in my closet. Maybe another time.

Bible school is back in session again after a two week break and I am loving it, the middle boy is being tested as part of his homeschooling requirements on Thursday (Eeeek! Please pray, we have had a tough school year) and next week a friend from Bolivia will be staying here for a while. Meanwhile I am praying and hoping for some changes to come about next year, which I will share with you as I know more. Life goes on.

I must say that lately it has been hard for me to see all the young moms at church with their babies in their arms while my arms are empty. I just miss Jenna’s toddler-cuddliness. I didn’t feel it as strongly initially, but both on Friday and Sunday I had such a yearning to just hold a baby.¬† I asked my friend Sarah if I could hold her little peanut and promptly started crying as¬†I held that precious, precious little bundle. I remember holding Jenna¬†when she was that little¬†and all the hopes and dreams¬†I had for her then, that are now deferred. ¬†

I do not say those hopes are extinguished because I believe God will restore. We just have to wait a little bit to see it. I was talking to a friend about the reward¬†I believe Jenna will get in heaven because her short life availed so much for the kingdom’s sake and she exclaimed: “It will be the ultimate princess party!” I just loved that. ūüôā ¬†Yes, Jenna will have a princess party in heaven to get her crown from Jesus and¬†I will be one proud mommy to witness it.

I know on that day I will not miss a thing.

 

 

Just because I can…

I want to post a picture. My hubby’s cousin took this one in South Africa just 4 days before Jenna went to heaven. Jenna had just recently decided that she didn’t want to wear anymore hair scrunchies and she formed the habit of nonchalantly running her hair out of her face with her hand. The cousin snapped the picture while Jenna was doing that. I just love this picture! (You can click on it for a larger view).

Randomly,

I really lost it with the younger two on Monday morning while getting ready to take them to camp. We had overslept and I was not ready to take the blame for it. I was grumbly and mad at hubby for not giving me the wake-up call he had promised (meanwhile the Lord had woken me up but I thought it was still early enough to linger in bed) and the boys weren’t being as independent as I expected them to be. It seems like there is always some issue or another for me to deal with when I am late. Anyhow, I had to repent to the boys and the hubby for my stinky attitude.

I was standing in the kitchen that evening talking to the oldest about it. I told him how sorry I was for my bad behaviour in the morning. “Actually, I don’t get how you lost it like that, mom”, he said. Uh-oh, I think, he’s going to rap me over the knuckles for overreacting to such an insignificant thing. “Because”, he continued, “you barely have anything to lose in the first place.”

Hmmmmmm. Very funny. Hahaha.

I told him what I thought about that. My comment was violent but not so silent. It was a terribly un-ladylike way to answer him, but sadly that is what can happen when you live in a house full of boys. You tend to learn the lingo. “Hahaha mom, very funny,” he said, and proceeded to make the same noise come out of the bottle of ketchup he was squeezing. “And this is my comment to that”, he said.

I just love having these little intellectual conversations with my son.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On to another note…thank you all for praying for the hubby on Father’s Day. His day started out fine but he got sadder as the day progressed. He was imagining what he would do if we had Jenna with us again, how he would just hold her and love on her and never let her go. I gave him one of those recordable cards and managed to get Jenna’s little voice exclaiming: “Daddy!” on there, followed by my boys all saying “Happy Father’s Day”, and ending off with Jenna saying: “Daddy’s home!” I pulled it off a video I took one night showing Jenna’s excitement when her daddy came home.

I made him another card from his little girl, with a letter inside from Jenna in heaven. She had painted a picture of her daddy in gold paint in November, and I wrote down what she said as she painted it because it sounded so cute: “Daddy will be so happy I made him sparkles.”

In the letter Jenna told her daddy that Jesus is very sparkly, and that he was going to make her daddy sparkly too, just like himself, and that she was so excited to see it. She told him how happy she would be to see him again. It made him tear up but I am so glad I thought about making him the card.

Yesterday, some friends and family and I went to the cemetery for a picnic to remember Jenna’s last day with us. It was the 4 month anniversary of her passing. We ate some of Jenna’s favorite snacks and let some balloons go. It was a much less difficult day than the previous anniversary, when I didn’t have anything to do for Jenna yet my heart was crying out to remember her in some way. I am grateful that I was able to do it this time around, and that I have such sweet friends who care enough to make the time to honor Jenna with me.

When I mentioned our picnic at the cemetery to another friend she seemed surprised. I got the impression that she thought that remembering Jenna’s passing on a monthly basis is a lot. I explained to her, and teared up quite a bit as I did so, that once a month is a drop in the bucket. I think about Jenna all. the. time. Not a day goes by that I am not aware of the gaping void she left. My love for her cannot be expressed in all the little ways one takes for granted when your loved one is with you. All I can do is blow kisses to Jenna in heaven every day and take her some flowers and trinkets when I have the gas money and the time. A picnic once a month is tiny, in comparison to how much time and love I would shower on Jenna if she were here.

Right now I am tired and though I am unhappy with the randomness of this entry and the mundane-ness of it, I am going to hit the publish button. I have at least 3 other drafts that I wrote in the last week and haven’t published. Silly me.

Email down

There are some people who read this blog whom I have been wanting to email. I just wanted to let you know my email is down. It happens fairly often over the weekends…sigh.

Today has been a lazy day. I don’t like lazy days, I like it when I am productive and I can look back at a day in which I actualy accomplished something. Oh well…

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I have been anticipating it with sorrow in my heart, for the hubby’s sake. There is just something about a daddy and his little girl, and this daddy will be missing his little girl tomorrow. If you all can say a few prayers for him I would be grateful.

I’d rather not say what I have prepared for him for tomorrow since he has a sneaky way of reading my blog. I might update you all after the fact.

Since I don’t have much to say I will just share this with you.

Isn’t she just gorgeous? (Click on the picture to see the detail better.) My sister took the picture when we were all swimming at a game reserve in South Africa. Miss lacy-winged beauty was sitting on a towel in the ladies’ room trying to make us all jealous of her beautiful coloring, her dainty sillouette, and her tiny waistline. I think she’d make a good model for a painting, don’t you?

Restoration

I woke up this morning next to a sleeping curly-haired boy. As I lay there listening to him breathe he thrashed around a bit, and his elbow landed on my arm. It was easy to close my eyes and try to pretend Jenna was sleeping next to me again, in another one of those silly attempts to plug the Jenna-shaped hole in my soul for just a brief moment and feel normal again. It didn’t work, like I knew it wouldn’t. Trying to pretend is futile because I know that is what it is…an illusion.

I always knew it would get hard around this time. It has. I am writing this entry to encourage myself, because for much of today I have been feeling the opposite. Missing Jenna is gnawing a hole in my gut. I have cried more tears today than most.

The weirdest thing is that sometimes I catch my spirit singing, and rejoicing as if I am about to break forth into a dance of joy.¬† I have learned in bible school that I am made up of soul, body and spirit, and while my soul and body protests Jenna’s death with everything in it, my spirit is at peace. Deep down I know all these things: Jenna is gloriously happy where she is now and she is not missing a thing. Jesus has me in the palm of his¬†hand and one day I will see his glory¬†through this¬†with my own two eyes. I know that one of Gods’ titles is Redeemer and he always lives up to his name.

I was laying in bed just recently calling to mind all the instances I could think of in the bible that deals with God’s redemption/restoration.¬† I thought about the fact that he is a Father – and any good father is characterised by his giving heart.¬†Fathers work impossible hours, just so that all the benefit could go to their families. They¬†seek the best for their children and would pour out everything they have to protect, nurture and guide their families. Fathers are givers and my Father God is no exception. “For God so loved the world that he gave…”

I know my Father God has a generous heart. So…why did he take Jenna away from me? I don’t know the answer to that question but I know him enough to trust that (like my friend Phyllis said) he didn’t take her to rob me, but to give me something.

Every single bible character that I thought of who had lost something dear had a far greater recompense at the end. David lost his first baby by Bathsheba, but the second one became a Solomon! Joseph lost many years being a slave and a prisoner. But he gained back all he had lost, including his family, and became a ruler and a deliverer of his people. Everything Job had lost was restored in a much greater measure. Adam and Eve got Seth to replace Abel. Ruth found her Boaz, Hannah her Samuel, and Mephibosheth his undeserved grace at the king’s table.

Even Jesus, who was denied an earthly wife will have a bride in heaven!

My God restores. How, when, where I do not know. I may have to wait until I get to heaven to see it, as he wipes away every tear from my eyes. But I believe this much: he will be generous. What I gain will go beyond what I have lost , because that is who my God is.

I absolutely can’t wait to see Jenna again and every day that passes is a day closer to that wonderful moment.¬†(Bring it on, Jesus!) At the same time¬†I am looking forward¬†to seeing what else my Father God is hiding in his bosom for me.

 Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.