Her Children Will Rise and Call Her…

Decades ago there was a woman who identified herself as wife and mother. She had a heart for Jesus, and this would come to sustain her more than she may ever have imagined. It is easy, in such a role, to find yourself in the details of sack lunches, ironing shirts and after work embraces, greeting your husband at the end of his day. When her husband found himself unfaithful and interested in a life & family with someone else, leaving her and her four daughters, it may have been hard to imagine herself at all- for a minute…

These days this scenario is almost expected, and there are programs and plans to help. Decades ago, this was not the case. To be the left, carrying the load, well- I can only imagine she endured judgement and bigotry at times, at the hands of others maybe so trapped in their fear. An absent husband/father and the either compassion or disapproval of others will not put food in your daughters’ bellies, so this beautiful woman had no choice.

She rose.

In an era where men were still handed most opportunities, she marched into a bank and offered them herself. She presented herself with such honesty: this would be her first job, she was an abandoned single mom, she knew she would work hard, and she did. Many years later she would retire from that very same bank. Times were so different then that, truthfully, we may have a tough time even understanding how isolating and brave this all had to have been. While her friends were lunching and sharing in each others lives, this beautiful soul would miss class parties and the like, just to keep power on in her very modest apartment. These days single motherhood is such a thing, and working mothers are very common, but this story is more. Even though single motherhood and working motherhood are among the most common elements of todays society, the fact that this woman’s life fell utterly apart and she rose in the morning, rising to give her daughter’s life. Rising to create a life that was so full of something bigger than any dollar could buy.

Rising up and moving past is not something common these days either, but maybe that has never really been on trend…

Beyond that, any of us who have been parents for any point in time know that parenthood is hard. So hard, and going at it alone only multiplies that. This incredible woman raised four incredible women. Women who went on to raise incredible kids. While no one is perfect, these 5 women have set the standard for keeping family at the center of the vitalist of priorities, also in a time when family grows less and less important.

There is not a person out there who could not learn something life affirming from knowing these girls or their mother. These days, most of girls themselves find themselves grandmothers. Their family has seen illness, loss, struggle, death and heartbreak. The tragedy which altered their world at the start of this story did not cripple or eternally victimize these five women, though it could have. It did not create an opportunity for them to settle down and live off of charity. It did not inspire deep, life long rebellion and acting out. Did it devastate them? yes. This woman, whom I admire beyond words, worked hard every day for her family.  In rising above and with such courage, she planted the seeds which would grow what was necessary, in her daughters, to stand throughout the heartaches and struggles they would face. She fought hard, for her family. She prayed hard, for her family. She was in the trenches for these girls, without ceasing. What began as clothes on their bodies and heat in their home continued through dating, marriage, childbirth, some divorce, heartbreak, health problems and even burying one of her own beautiful daughters. She still stands strong for these girls and their children, and their children’s children. Having known this beautiful soul since I was sixteen, I have to believe that if we are earning “jewels in our crown”, in heaven, for the beautiful things we do on this earth, this woman is going to have a castle filled to the brim with jeweled crowns.

Her daughters continue her legacy, rising up and fighting for the ones they love. They are united, kind and supportive and their children have become this as well. Among them is so much success, many geographical locations and, at the core of everything, family.

When I was challenged to write about a woman, a heroine, whom I have known in life who has gone above and beyond, sacrificed and inspired, there was no one else I could imagine. I met this soul when I was sixteen, visiting her tiny apartment with her granddaughter, who was my friend. I had no idea the ways that this woman would be so important in my life. She has stood beside and fought for me more than any one I’ve had. She is tiny in stature and fierce in heart, even so much as going up against my husband 18 years ago for his own adultery and abandonment. There she stood, taking him on and this man of 5′ 11″ towered over this tiny little woman and yet the only thing he was feeling was terrified. She, one of her amazing daughters (who would become my mentor and one of my dearest friends) and her own mother made three of four people who attended my wedding shower, when the world I’d lived in had all but thrown me away. I have recovered from miscarriage in her home, cried on her shoulder, prayed beside her and had so much loving conversation.

Any popular story I hear about people moving great obstacles to accomplish bold things simply does not hold a candle to her, in my book. What she had to do (and really, when she had to do it) combined with how her own daughters turned into loving mothers, fierce advocates for their family, and wild supporters of others- that is everything right there. She is a heroine with an amazing heroic legacy.

There is a film releasing on the 31st called The Zoo Keeper’s Wife. (It is based on the novel of the same title.) It is the story of Antonina and Jan Żabiński, a Christian couple who save and house hundreds of Jews during WWII. This not only an inspiring and life affirming story of heroism and faithfulness, but in a time such as this, it is a necessary story of humanity tearing down the walls of religion to help others, regardless of theirs. 

The world is scattered with brave souls, their beauty and their stories there for us to learn from and do with. I am so blessed by knowing this beautiful woman who I have shared with you. Who would you have written about? I would love for you to share. On the 31st, at 12:00 a.m., I will choose a winner (at random) to receive a $25 Fandango card… (comment additionally if you tweet or FB share to be granted extra entires.)

To do…

Winter came out of nowhere and slammed Michigan over the weekend. I am sitting in an apartment that I will finally admit we pay way too much for, when our water is disgusting and we freeze with the weather outside. We will not be renewing our lease here for a variance of reasons, but I can understand why people do… Apartment hunting is no fun anywhere but this area is a joke. The income is not high enough here to charge the rates they do. We found a lovely option, over the weekend. If only it were about $300 less a month and with a deposit half that size.

Geez, adulting is tough.

Ideally I am mentally putting a plea out there for someone, in the right location, to have a lovely little condo they will rent for a reasonable rate. Thus far my mental plea is going unanswered.

In other news, I started out the year with a long list of fun things that I wanted to learn how to do, or get better at. Here we are, mid march and I have only managed to learn that my body will not tolerate most medications, and that we pay too much for our apartment. These weren’t exactly the things I had in mind.

I have wanted to be a cupcake baker extraordinaire for years. To date I have attempted this process three legitimate times. It was fun. It was delicious. The problem? I’m not sure. Gen and I have been watching the Great British Bakeoff on Netflix and my baking bug has hit, hardcore. The issue is that I have a horribly unworkable kitchen in my incredibly overpriced apartment. At least eleven times Gen and I have said “oh, I want to bake ________, we should totally do it!” Only to then venture in to our “kitchen”  and assess our less than 1″ of workable space. Yep, it is  sad day when contestants on a baking competition have a better kitchen in their tiny strip of space, than we have. In all fairness (and hindsight) our apartment is made for foreigners here on business, with infinite bank accounts, so you can kind of understand, I guess.

So yeah… in thirteen days I celebrate my birthday. One month ago I romantically answered Maybe i will make a dinner of homemade gnocchi* and cute little Alice in Wonderland cupcakes**! When asked what I wanted to do on my birthday. (*I have never made gnocchi from scratch so this seems like a really stupid idea, as the 28th approaches. Especially considering the kitchen I have.) (**no. I later ammended that I really love Whole Foods coconut lemon cake. Like REALLY love it.)

In case you missed it, Gnocchi is also on my list of things to learn/master. I aim small.

While watching the Great British Bake Off I have lengthened my list a bit, (which ironically was a 2017 goal list, so my time table has shortened.) I would love to make a beautiful braided loaf of bread, master pies (sweet pies, no meat pies here) and wrap some poached pears in swirly dough… Of course, the afore mentioned kitchen may be an issue. Also, re: the pears- the bakers did say it was the worst, so I may scratch that from the list. (which also means rewriting the entire list because the flawed “scratch off” list would be below my highly ambitious standards.) (Perhaps in the new list I should head it “Things to learn and master before I am 50”, which would, obviously, make my 49th year of life incredibly busy…)

I guess the moral of this diatribe is that I need to be a little more honest with myself and my limits. Keep sight of my goals, but honestly accept that I can’t do everything. Some days I can’t do anything. Currently I can’t become an amazing baker and gnocchi maker, and that’s ok.

If I can just manage to find a decent rental I’ll consider it good. :)

Family Friday, a movie review…

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Race to Win is the story of a flawed man whose sudden passing leaves his family in a desperate situation where they stand to lose everything. It has the quality of your average Hallmark, feel good and everything works out ok movie. For some people, that is a disappointment, but for this girl that’s fairly ok. I love the better Hallmark movies, and though this isn’t one it has that solid family friendly feel.

With Gentry Rhodes (Luke Perry) death, the majority of the pressure to save the family and home falls on his daughter Hannah (Danielle Campbell). Family dynamics, both the functional and dysfunctional ones, come to play. The happy ending comes, as it always does in this type of film, but not in the ways the family expects. There are people out to sabotage, and people reigning in support. I’m not going to pretend that there is anything original or genre shattering here, because there isn’t. What you do get however, from Race to Win (which just received the Dove seal of approval) is a little more honest than other films in its class. When you look past the cliché’ moments, and into the heart of the story you see that it is woven together of raw grief and our human inability to function properly sometimes. It offers the candid perspective that we sometimes wish to sweep under the rug, of the one’s we love having failed us out of selfishness, greed or their own addictions, and loving them anyway. It shows is that we are not made up of our choices and failings, but weak at times and that is ok. This day and age has us, as a society, so consumed with the mistakes of others, and playing victim to that rather than simply trying to carry each others burdens and be our best selves. This film shows that, in times of heart hurts and loss, we share the journey and even though the other parent should be the strong one, they may not be. It shows us that if a child has to rise up and carry the burden for a while, the world will not end and seasons may look differently than the world wants them to look.

Underneath the dialogue, at times breath-taking cinematography, and odd dynamics of the Father’s ghost appearing with advice and information, is a very frank image of a family who makes it through each day imperfectly, and yet they make it through. The heart here is real, and when you add the parts of the film that really just work, it makes for a solid family flick.

Here’s a clip. Look for Race to Win, available on DVD February 14th, and judge for yourself. If you enjoy movies with heart and feel good endings (or Luke Perry, even) It is well worth the watch!

Upon waking…

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I couldn’t quite find the voice to blog much, last week, when I speculated that I was dying. It certainly felt as though I were on my way out of this life, and well, when the blue-foam-vomit made an appearance, I knew death was immanent.

Alas’, it was not to be, and I am pretty happy about that, though between you and me, the happiest part is that I no longer feel like every ounce of the lining within me was shredding and coming to the surface. (Chw joked that it is a good thing we watched the Santa Clarita Diet AFTER those several days and not before. How right he was!)

Since I have been given a second chance at life, (wait, at this point it would be like a 38th chance…) my passion has been renewed.

Unfortunately my energy is still lagging behind a bit, but I have faith that it will catch up eventually!

In the few days leading up to my bout with death, I was trying desperately to accomplish some wonderful things. I distinctly remember being a little proud of a few things I was doing, and surprised that I had the clarity to do them despite my weakening health and energy. The super NOT cool part about this chapter in the story, is that I cannot find ANYTHING I was working on. I live in a shoebox, these things seriously cannot have gone away. I feel like I am going insane. Super, super crazy.

To add to the crazy, last week (post severe reaction to the evil spawn of Satan drug known as Cymbalta) I began referring to our local supermarket as Wegman’s. We do not HAVE Wegman’s. In fact, I have not shopped at a Wegman’s since 2002, when we moved to Michigan from New York. Weird, right?

All in all though, I have my health, my family and a freezer full of smoothie packs after yesterday’s afternoon chopping, prepping and stuffing, so I can’t complain. Today feels like it could be a crash & burn day (credit to my cousin for that phrase… Crash & burn days are the bad Fibromyalgia days where you find yourself exhausted and out of commission) except that somehow I am able to accomplish “one more thing.” (which keeps turning into one more thing) so I’ll take it. And that, my friends, is how you are able to read this ridiculously nonsensical blog post about nothing.

You’re welcome!

P.S. If you know where I put my lemon zester, Robot Valentines, favorite pen, stickers, pet postage stamps, pack of bubble envelopes, clear Buxom lip gloss, wireless headphones or packing tape- I’d be grateful for the heads up!

Race to Win…

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I am a proud late 80’s/early 90’s girl. I feel like we grew up in the last of the great generations. I am loyal to the pop culture we had, such as New Kids on the Block, Boys 2 Men, Roseanne and 90210… Especially NKOTB and 90210, if we’re honest. I will happily admit to flipping through channels and getting lost in old 90210 reruns. It holds a piece of my heart…

Part of that loyalty follows the stars and where they’re at in their careers, and lives… Jennie Garth had a fun HGTV show, (ok, not really fun) and Shannon Doherty has my all time favorite instragram feed as she honestly shares her battle with cancer… But what about Dylan? What is Luke Perry up to, these days?

IT SEEMS he’s starring in a heart warming film. Who is surprised? Not me… Here’s the trailer.

Pretty cool, huh?

I, for one, am a sucker for the heartwarming and heroic stories, so I’m looking forward to it!