Sunday, June 29, 2008

View from the Other Side

One year ago I came home to a five page letter in my door that would forever change the course of my life. Over the next 365 days I experienced:

deep sorrow

excruciating pain

bitter memories

public embarrassment

loneliness.



I have also experienced:

abounding grace

deepened faith

newfound gifts

restored confidence

hope.



So many of you have propped me up along the way. So many of you have reached out, cried, laughed and rowed.
Thank you.

This past weekend due to circumstances beyond my control I ended up in the last place I thought I wanted to be. Due to a chaperone malfunction The Boy and I spent 2 days and nights at the same Christian music festival that tdx was attending last year with our youth group when I received the letter.

There I was basically shadowing his footsteps from one year ago, sitting on a tarp and a lawn chair with tens of thousands of sweaty, dirty people around me listening to music at mind-blistering levels. This is where he was when he received my voice mail letting him know that I had been let in on his betrayal.

Did he feel relief that I finally knew? Or more turmoil, not because I had found out, but because he knew that I still didn't even know the entire story. Was it a concious choice of his to use TOW1 in order to get out of our marriage so he could be with TOW2? I doubt it and it didn't work anyway because I fought for our marriage until he told me definitively it was over.

And so this is where his part of the story ends.

God is surely in the details as my time at the music festival was well-timed and healing. So often when something happens in the church the youth end up in the dark because the adults around them either don't know what to say and/or don't want to talk about it. My presence with them at the festival gave them the opportunity to ask their questions and talk about their feelings. It gave an opening for conversations about marriage, depression, choices and truth. It also left a door open for future conversations.

As for The Boy and I we actually had a wonderful time together (which if you have gone camping with a three year old, you know is quite a statement!). It was affirmed once again that one of the MAJOR things that has come out of this is that I am a much better mother than I was a year ago. I am far more connected to him and to what he is doing and who he is. This is such a blessing.

There are sure to be more ups and downs as we continue to walk this road. I am bracing myself for the wedding band that I will eventually see on tdx's finger, but I know that will be hurt for missing what I thought we could be, not what we actually were.

I wrote in a previous post about processing and choices. At the concert on Friday night the special guest was someone who was popular with our generation (not so much the youth, but that's another post) and her voice and songs brought me back to dating and the early years with tdx. I basically cried through her entire set, but realized that although they were tears of sadness they were also tears of a well said good-bye. I did everything I could.

I honored.
I loved.
I was faithful.
I fought like hell for our marriage... and he lost.

He lost. His choice.

I came home and scrubbed off the sweat and dirt from the festival and have shaken the dust from my feet of a marriage where I was no longer wanted. Again, his choice.

No one will ever know what chain of events TOW1 really expected to set off when she sent me that letter. At this point last year everyone was reeling and tdx was still holding onto his final secret. What I am sure no one expected - least of all me - was that one year from that awful, dreadful day...

I am the better for it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MS Bike Ride 2008

Please help fight MS!!!"

Once again I am putting my legs, lungs and psyche to the test by hitting the bike for over 50 miles in the middle of July. Most of you know someone who has been diagnosed with MS and it is my hope to help find a cure so that these loved ones no longer have to live with the symptoms and exacerbations that take them away from living the lives they want to live.

Please click on the link above and it will take you to my page where you can donate electronically or email me and I will tell you how to snail mail donations with checks made out to: National MS Society. preacherbloggerprocrastinator(at)gmail(dot)com


THANKS!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Processing

As you can tell from recent posts we are very much nearing a year since implosion/explosion/lift-off to my next life.

The permission to call the tdh I knew 'dead' has remained the healthiest choice for me, but the grieving process has interesting twists to it. For instance, I can grieve the loss of the tdh I knew (or thought I knew) but would you hear through the grapevine that your deceased loved one is now officially engaged? No. I don't think so.

There are a variety of hurts and still more to come, I'm sure. The words from countless funerals sometimes echo in my ears: "We grieve because we are separated from a loved one and separation hurts."

I find it really hurts not during the angry times (see above engagement reference) or the lonely times, but during the memory times. When you have kids especially there are these serendipitous moments that cannot be planned, repeated or captured. Last night, The Boy and I came home at early dusk from a food festival and then planted the last two tomato plants. As I was cleaning up he saw - and gently captured - his first lightning bug. The amazement and laughter and glee and joy and showing it to the dog and bringing it in to show the cat were just awesome. And I found myself saying quietly, "dammit tdh, you're missing this." And the fact that he is missing it because of the choices he made takes the frustration to a whole new level.

In an earlier post I called myself a fool for caring so much about him and choosing to ignore the signs of his bad choices that were all around me. You all were gracious to support me and remind me that choosing to honor my vows and commitment does not a fool make. Maybe I was foolish, but choosing to turn your back on ten years of marriage, walking away from the one person who had your back no matter what, missing memories both big and small with your child who you once thought might never come to be... now that's a fool.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Would Do Such a Thing?

The Boy asked me to draw a picture of Daddy...




I swear I added the horns after he went to bed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How Many Ups and Downs Can One Weekend Have?

UP - We survived our 20+ hours of driving and the woman who was once an acquaintance is now a friend.

down - It should have been only 16+ hours of driving.

UP - I now know how to navigate the southern part of Mitten State when the interstate is closed.

UP - Driving the stick shift VW was WAY fun... just a bit more power and handling than my van.
UP - What began as a good idea quickly became a life-giving idea. Not only were we there to support our friend, but her kids (4 and 1) know us and were quite willing to go right with us and out of the various services that were taking place so that our friend could stay.

down - There is a church board in central Mitten State that wastes time sitting in their new building wondering why they are not attracting young families and all of them are too old to think 'playground' or PUT IN A NURSERY!!!! I was using some very rusty children's ministry skills not to mention every food product I had in my purse.

UP - Managed to put a sermon outline together in the car and it went over pretty well.

down - The exhaustion, stress of outline preaching, battle with poison ivy and baggage of Father's Day were apparantly too much for me to handle because I asked a Mom during coffee fellowship if she could begin the sermon in the back because her baby wakes up from her nap in the middle of the sermon every Sunday.
No really Every. Sunday. And of course they insist on sitting in the front.
Finally I said something - pleasantly - but I shouldn't have. I am basically waiting one more hour so I can call her at a socially accepted hour and apologize with hopes that the apology will both be accepted and that the child will be taken out sooner. Of course, I have a hunch that my 'evilness' was very much dissected during Father's Day festivities yesterday.
It is so time for me to leave this place.

UP - Summer camp in the morning for The Boy today and after drop off I will stop by my friend's house because she returned from Mitten State and is taking today off. Our plan is the gym.

down - TOW1 (remember her?) is usually at the gym Monday mornings. I am there too so I am not sure why I am extra worried about it just because another friend is coming too. Can we wear our pink leather jackets and snap our fingers as we get onto the treadmills? (Answer: No, because there shall be no awkward falling in front of TOW1.)

down - My afternoon of my day off will be spent pulling weeds and scrubbing down the front porch because we host a community concert on the church lawn this Saturday. I guess it will be nice to have the homefront looking nice but it always irks just a bit.

UP - I spoke at a worship service at this church on Sunday afternoon and it went really, really well. The only flaw? I might have actually been too funny. Seriously.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Road Trip

I leave around lunchtime today to drive to 'State-that-Looks-Like-a-Mitten'; about an 8 hour drive.

On Wednesday nights before Easter I would go to the gym with a friend and then afterwards we would go get a drink, a bottomless basket of chips and salsa and I would talk out my grief and sadness.

Thanks to her and all of you, I got better and was able to be there for her when post-Easter we would do the same thing only she would talk out her grief and sadness about her Dad losing his battle with cancer.

He was an otherwise healthy man whose doctors didn't listen when he said he thought the radiation wasn't working and that the prostate should come out. Those of you who have been through this journey know that it is awful, and when someone is healthy otherwise the death process can be absolutely brutal.

Another friend and I had talked about going, but I figured with my schedule there was just no way. It turns out that the reason I was keeping this weekend fairly open no longer exists and so not only can I help make the drive, help pay for gas, etc... but now we both will be able to stand with our friend and her family in the face of her father's death.

Grief and sadness is a journey. There are many more Wednesday nights in our future. I am glad I will be able to be with her in this part of the valley too.

k.o. - Blessed are those who see the Lord face to face...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ditto

So anyone who remembers dressing the little ones in their lives also may remember the balance issues that can become involved when little legs go into little shorts or socks or shoes. The Boy lately has taken to holding on to me and saying, "Mommy, I have you and me. I have you and me."

Soon after The Big Event I wrote that I felt like I had kicked off the bottom of the deep end and although I might go down again, at least the next time I would be closer to the shallow end.

Right now we are approaching one year since my world officially got turned on its axis. I am having quite a few memories of events and red flags that led up to that revelation. Some of them aren't so easy.

For one, I remember being so worried about tdx that when he would come up to bed later than me I would hold his hand, in my mind to be an assuring presence. Turns out rather that I was being a fool. Oh well. There are worse things than believing in your spouse and in the vows you both took.

I'm okay and will be okay, but some of those memories definitely need rowing through and it is at these times that I look at the boy in order to regain my balance and cling to who we are now together and think, "It's ok. I have you and me. I have you and me."
An interesting post from a year ago today. tdx, of course, was the staff member in question.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That'll Blog

I have had that title thought a few times over the weekend and yet can I remember one of those 'witty' narratives? No.

One of the challenges of single parenting/full time working is finding the hours in the day. I know we all do what we have to do, but I still find myself giving homage to those who are doing it with more than one child. My ex-s-i-l does it with 4! This is my excuse for not blogging more often.

I have also noted that the last time I searched for a new position, the search itself was my full time job. What a luxury! A few committees have asked me for so much data in the initial stages that their request in itself has caused me to say, "No thanks" to the position before we even get started in the conversation. One church who was matched with me wanted: 4 sermons (I am only JUST NOW able to record them at church), the last 3 Annual Reports of the congregation, statement of faith, last 3 bulletins, last 3 newsletters and a bio.

I will give them that this is a great way to sort out the folks who are just testing the waters!

In 'The Boy' news... this morning he called me onto the couch in his sweet little voice, "Mommy, wanna come sit on the couch with me?"
I was whipping around the house as I usually do in the morning and at his request started having that internal conversation where you know you have plenty to do, but can't it wait, he won't want you to sit next to him on the couch when he is twelve, etc, etc, etc...

I came over and sat on the couch to which he responded, "Mommy, open the doors and turn on the tv."
I asked him, "Did you ask me over here just so I would open up the tv for you?"
"Yes."

Well, at least he's honest.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cover Letter

Dear Church I Want to Go To:

I have your beloved Associate Pastor. If you hire me no one gets hurt.

Peace.
The Reverend Will Smama


(too forward?)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Late, Brief Meme

This is late and so it shall also be brief...

What was I doing ten years ago:
Recovering from my first year of seminary and gearing up for Summer Hebrew.

Five things on today's "to do" list
Bulletin/Worship planning
Gym
Haircut
3 Team Meetings
Margarita with a friend

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire:
Get some friends and family out of debt and then work with one medical research group to attempt to knock out at least one of the Big ones, probably MS.

Three bad habits:
Chewing on the fingers
Taking things too personally (getting better at this)
Being too hard on myself


Five places I've lived:
Jersey shore
Florida coast
Florida innards
seminary
here

Five jobs I've had:
dish washer
cook
delivery driver
Youth Director
here

The five people I am going to tag are:
Not gonna... it's just too late.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pastor's Hat

One of the struggles for me in ministry is remembering that much like The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, the pastor hat is not one that comes off. A couple of Sundays ago I reprimanded a child out on the playground. That family is now leaving the church.

As one person explained it to me, although I was right, it is not a good feeling to have your child yelled at by anyone and add to that my pastor hat and it is mortifying.

sigh...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pain in the Grass

Allergies... I moved to where I am now and for the first time I have allergies. Mowed grass in particular gives me a headache and so I have kept track.

Monday - neighbor northwest of driveway mows lawn
Tuesday - neighbor north of driveway mows lawn
Wednesday - neighbor south of driveway mows lawn
Thursday - neighbor north of driveway mows lawn (he's old, so he mows it a lot)
Friday - our lawn is mowed
Saturday - neighbor directly west mows lawn
Sunday - neighbor directly west continues to mow lawn

You would think with a cornfield directly east I would catch a break but the above schedule says otherwise.

Can I move now?