Reese’s Cups

IMG_20160228_225137Archie’s favorite candy was Reese’s Cups. We even took a picture of him with a Reese’s Cup cartoon figure when we visited Hershey, PA–one of our best trips EVER!!!! We did a tour of the town, made our very own candy bars (Archie named his “TLC 4 ME”), and experienced the chocolate tasting. We learned about dark chocolate and cocoa content. Ahhh, good times.

When he was going through chemo he had no appetite what so ever. The medicine/chemical changed the flavor of food. They told him,”Eat high calorie foods.” Being he had no appetite, that was even a challenge. He found the only two food items that even tasted remotely the same were bbq and chocolate. Enter Tom and Jolene. They bring Archie one of the biggest bags of Reese’s cups I have ever seen. Jolene, like Archie, has wonderful taste in chocolate. He was excited, well, as excited as you can be when you don’t want anything to eat but people that love you bring in an item that doesn’t taste like chalk or cardboard–not that I would know what those taste like ;).

Over the next 3 wks when he couldn’t handle any food, somehow we would talk him into at least having a Reese’s cup. And who can now say that chocolate isn’t a life savor…at least for three wks. The remainder of the bag went to be shared at his funeral.

Today I unpacked the Tarheel trash can. Wrapped in a towel under his trophies and Archie bobblehead was the glass container of Reese’s cups. I pick them up stoicly. I carried them into the “warm room” and placed them on the desk. Now they are starring at me while I write. Each one shiny gold with the distinct orange oval and precious description,”Reese’s”, to dismiss any doubt that these are not authentic.

The Reese’s cups remind me of the funeral. Our family really did not like the pseudo ism or fictitiousness of funerals. Everyone comes dressed up, not looking at all like they are on the inside. They act “appropriately for a funeral”, some like they and the deceased were the “best of friends” when in all honestly, they secretly loathed the departed. And then, being the family, and knowing the secret, we smile and receive in their insincere condolences, because in reality, it is not our burden to carry. Matthew 18:22 reminds us of how many times we are suppose to forgive, so no matter what the wrong….we forgive and let go. We feel pity for the cross they must carry for their choices in life and are grateful that millstone is not around our necks. No contempt, no ill feelings, just deep sorrow for them missing out.

Others dress in their Sunday Best, out of respect. I hope when they left, they knew how grateful we were for them being in Archie and our lives. We hope that they realized we respected them, not because of the regalia they wore but because their hearts were broken, with ours. We would love and accept them just the way they are. No “wrappers” needed. We could tell they were authentic.

So, now my question: do I….do you….feel like we have to wear a
“wrapper” so people will know who we are or what we’ve accomplished? When will it be good enough to just be ourselves and let people love us for who we are? We all have layers, like the chocolate covering the peanut butter. We are so busy trying to show people our wrappers we aren’t allowing then to savor the combination of flavors that make us uniquely us. How sad would it be just to stare back at these Reese’s cups and accept that THEY SAY they are Reese’s cup, so that is good enough. Nope. I don’t care about the pretty polished wrapper. I really only care about what is on the inside, sooooo…..I’m going to eat a Reese’s cup.

The next time you find yourself looking at Archie (and Jolene’s) favorite candy, buy it quickly! RIP OFF that wrapper, than savor the unparalleled flavor. While your at it. Stop worrying so much about what you wear, how you speak, or what you drive. Be yourself. Anybody worth being in your life will relish you, being you. Archie did that for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Crumbled Papertowel

My new weekend normal: quiet house, resting pups, time with my heavenly Dad, laundry, some dusting and thinking…. . This will not always be the case and I know that to be true.

Until December 2015, nearly every Saturday morning for the last nearly 11 years, Archie would work. It was a rarity if he did not. His Mondays through Fridays were a consistant 5:45am and be lucky if he got off at 4 pm, those were good days. When Taylor started college, afternoons, evenings and Saturday mornings were….quiet and lonely.

I hated going home to an empty, quiet house, much like it is now. I started going to The Depot, a Mennonite thrift store, and sit, as if at a library, look at books and listen to their music. One day I had an epiphany: this place is run on volunteers, so why not get up, and stop wallowing in pathetic, unnecessary loneliness. I was sitting in a building that direly needed my help, duh. I started volunteering, sorting, steaming, or pricing donated clothes.

Someday, when my wounds are more healed, The Depot is still there. My heavenly Dad knew what I would need and made sure it would be like “going home” when my loneliness would be permanent. Again, I am grateful.

This brings me to the crumbled paper towel: Eating is still on the fly at our house and most nights Taylor and I “piece” odds and ends left in the fridg because a full meal just doesn’t sound appetizing. We microwave..whatever..and use paper towels as splatter guards. The paper towels follow us as we move to the warm room to munch and relax while watching a detective dvd, Matlock or Perry Mason are favorites. The object’s use is modified to napkin for covering clothing, and the cleansing of fingers and mouth.

When the “meal” is complete, the crumbled paper towel gets thrown away. Odd, if you think about it. Who thinks of a paper towel as valuable? It’s paper, disposable, and not of high monetary value. This item is used daily. It’s applicable for protection(spills, splatters, cleansing), saving time (clean up and dirty dishes), increases safety as bacteria from meat is immediately thrown away verses growing on dish rags. If we run out we instantly miss them, but yet we take them for granted and don’t think of them as important and ever ending.

How many other things in our lives do we view as paper towels? They are always going to be there. We need them, but once we’ve gotten our use out of them, we crumble and throw them away. There will always be more.

Can you guess where I’m going with this? I had to live with my beloved for the last month of his life, hearing his perspective of the last year from a rear view mirror. When you are in the amount of pain he was, cannot drive, shower, or dress yourself suddenly you realize TIME has been your paper towel. You use it as a convenience, assuming there will always be more, not valuing what is in your hand….or home, at the moment.

Oh, the regrets. Things were tough and (coming clean here) we had gone back to our accountability person, yep, marriage counselor, back in October. Life sucked, but we would never give up on our love story. No matter how much I would remind him he was loved and forgiven, he carried such a burden of not being able to forgive himself. He kept saying things were going to be different “when this is over”. We never made it to the other side of “this”.

What is the crumbled paper towel in your life? Take another look at it. What is the REAL value? Do you honestly want to throw it away? Please think before you do. You may have unknowingly grabbed the last piece.

 

Fizzy Pop and Sympathy Cards

What do you do when you don’t feel well?  When I was little my mom was church secretary. She’d grab a sleeping bag and the little black and white tv. We’d choose a room in the church and that’s where we’d stay. No coming to the office every 10 minutes because if we were too sick to be in school, we were too sick to chat.

As we got older, mom had read that coca cola was good for stomach aches. She kept those little 8 oz bottles that were popular in the 80’s in the basement for “such an emergency”. It’s kinda amazing how many stomach aches one can have when coca cola is only available for illnesses. Just being honest…. .

The fizzy pop always made us feel better. Even thinking about it brings comfort: the snap of opening the bottle, the sound of the fizz, the look of the bubbles, the shock of first sip! Ahhh, brings a smile 🙂

So I ask the question: what brings you comfort NOW when you don’t feel well? Why is it that sounds so much more complicated as adults? “What do you mean ‘feel’? Emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically, financially?” Different comforts for different maladies. Well….except chocolate….and coffee…..those are a comfort in almost any situation, but I digress.

Sympathy cards. What does that mean? What does it mean to have sympathy for someone else? According to the dictionary:”the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration” Taking that feeling/power and expressing it in a card, something to reflect your innermost feelings of pain for someone else and conveying those through something the other person can hold in their hand. They can see it, feel it, read it, listen to it as it opens and closes.

I never realized the comfort, the alleviation of burden as those around lifted the crushing weight of despair, until February 12, 2016. God showed up in those sympathy cards, in the notes of sympathy and empathy, and in all of the signed names.   

How many times have you offered a note of sympathy? Me? Not enough. What will you do the next time you feel helpless and cannot tell another person how much you hurt for them? I need to create more sympathy cards. Whether store bought or handmade, the feelings and support are undeniable. Though I have failed in the past, tomorrow is a new day. That is one thing I can do,”with the time I have left.”

I think Archie would approve.

 

 

 

My New Normal

I am disobedient. There. I said it. If you are looking for some wise person who is holy, holy, holy, move on to a different blog.

The way my writing works is: God nudges me or shows up in “ah, ha” moments. When ramblings are going through my mind I often cannot rest until “it” is in writing. It’s my job to…not get in God’s way.

Last night I was awake at 2 am. I needed to get up and write, but I didn’t want to. It’s hard for me to fall asleep nights, so getting up at 2 seemed like an unrealistic expectation. Have you ever disobeyed God? It’s not like I got struck by lightning or broke out in boils, I  just never got back to sleep. Had I gotten up and written, I would have had a weight lifted off my chest and slept like a baby the rest of the night, but did I? No. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. I know. That probably never happens to you. I am sure you have self discipline and are more Godly.

Today was going to be a difficult day, and my heavenly Dad knew it.

Today I took my pictures back to work. My office space looks like it’s back to normal. I took lunch, just like normal. A tour came through and I laughed, joked, and conversed, just like normal. This is my new normal.. but I don’t feel normal.

Last night God opened the door for me to process this day ahead of time. My heavenly Dad knows me, my heart, and what I need. He knew I needed to write but, I missed the blessing. Have you ever missed a blessing?

When I was a kid I always thought if I didn’t “toe the line” God was going to rain down fire and brimstone. I believed God only had one route for me to travel and if I didn’t figure it out precisely, I would live in misery because I would be “out of God’s will.” No grace. No account for the joys and passions He placed in my heart. Missionary work was safe. Getting married and having children, that was safe. Going to church regularly, that was a definite MUST (again with the fire and brimstone). When something bad happened those around stood in judgment. I must have “earned” a punishment. Bad things were reaped for poor choices(what was sown). Sad.

I cannot turn back the clock. 2 am has come and gone and there is not an option to make a different choice. Does this mean there are forever consequences and I live under eternal judgment? I believe no. God loves me. He gave His only son to die, just for me. Even if I was the only one on earth, He would have done the same.

In the same respect, God loved Archie. His cancer was not a judgment on him…or me. His life was a gift and he helped me know and understand God in ways I never imagined. He demonstrated love through forgiveness as a reflection of my heavenly Dad. I am grateful for the last 27 yrs and know without a doubt, God has not forsaken me, even when I don’t like my, “new normal.”

This is not my “normal” way of writing, but today is not a “normal” day. One week ago today I said my last goodbyes and the love of my life asked you one last question: What will you do with the time you have left? You have been blessed with TWO weeks longer than Archie. Now MY question: How’s it going?

 

 

 

 

Through the snow….

Snow day! What memories coming flooding into your mind when those words are sung? When I was a child it was ugly orange snow pants and my green igloo winter coat. Why did I get stuck with the ugly orange and my brother had the blue coat and matching blue snow pants? Life was sooooo unfair :p. My mom would make us wear a scarf over our mouth and nose so as to not breath in the frigid air. My glasses got all steamed up and ice crystals would form on my Northwood Panthers scarf, knitted by Grandma Smeltzer, complete with my name embroidered above the fringe. Yep, add a red and black scarf to the burnt orange pants and hunter green jacket and I was the spitting image of….who knows and who cares? How the heck do I get that repulsive memory out of my mind? yikes!

As an adult, my mind drifts to two years ago. Archie and I both had a snow day from work–so exciting! Taylor was safely snowed in at a friends house, so no worries there. What to do, what to do?! We did have home repairs on the agenda….but this was a SNOW DAY! Those are right up there with Christmas and birthdays!

We reached into the “wayback” box and broke out board games, just the two of us, for hours. We flirted, reminisced, drank coffee, laughed our butts off, and drank more coffee. Then he would put on another pot, usually Jamaica Me Crazy from Dutch Maid Bakery (only the best coffee ever) and we would begin again.

He always made the best coffee. I would swear I measured it exactly like he did, but his tasted so much better than mine. Even though he knew that, he would always ask,”how’s your coffee?” His look was of a tense expectant father, waiting for the good news. His shoulders wouldn’t relax until I said,”Perfect! You always make the best coffee.” He’d flash me the only-Archie smile and we’d break into another board game.

Hmmmm….do you ever do anything, well, something, on a regular basis but it doesn’t mean anything until the person you love affirms you? Arch knew he made the best coffee. He proved it time and again, yet each time he yearned to hear the words, as if from our heavenly Dad,”well done, good and faithful servant.”

He showed his love for me time and again in the little things. The coffee, warming up my vehicle, he and Taylor starting supper. Each time it would mean all the more to him if I acknowledged his effort and thanked him. He never pointed out his good deed, but would beam when he knew I noticed. More than that…we always said,”I love you,” before we left or said goodbye…ALWAYS. People would make fun, but we’d steal a special look to each other as if to say,”they just don’t understand,” grin and say it LOUDER, just because we’re…us.

Today was a snow day….three months ago my stomach would have birthed butterflies of anticipation for the day with my Archie. But today……the house is quiet…. . The fury kids rest quietly on my lap. No board games on the horizon. No pot of coffee.

Taylor has two months of college left, so she works tenaciously towards that goal. I show my love for Taylor by asking what I can do to help. Make coffee? a single cup, kurig style. Warm her supper? No games, no time. College calls, Taylor listens. She’s such a responsible woman. Her dad was soooo proud. No time for snow day fun.

This snow day I sit in quiet reflection: Through the snow I am reminded of how my beloved needed to be affirmed, even when he knew he was the best. Through the snow I am reminded of time stolen to celebrate, “just because it’s a snow day.” Through the snow I am reminded to take time to laugh, because you are never guaranteed another snow day.

So, I ask anyone who happens on my ramblings…have you affirmed your love? Have you taken time to celebrate “just because”? Have you filled your snow day with laughter?

Oh….to have one more snow day to share with Archie……I was blessed.

A lesson from a bird

Onajourney4home–Archie went home February 12, 2016, and now I begin my journey. I would say I have a single one way ticket, but that is really not an accurate statement.

Everyday my Heavenly Dad shows up in a new way and reminds me I am never alone. I cannot say I always like the way He makes His entrance, because, to be blunt, He could choose to keep the door closed and a rescue would be unnecessary. What can I say….crap happens, and I’m glad He’s there.

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