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The Eulogy I Gave For My Grandma

14 Mar

I wrote this the night before her memorial service. Some of it I ad-libbed, so it actually went over really well in person. Reading it might leave a lot to be desired but some wanted me to share it with them! Here it is:

 

On behalf of the Mills family, I want to thank you all for being here today. My grandma, Loma Mills, has meant a lot to so many people, and your presence here signifies just how many lives she impacted during her 93 years here on earth.

 

Grandma pics Her roles were many. She was the eldest daughter of Frank and Alice Oesterle, German farmers living here in Marion. She was a sister to Ruth Staub and Doris Beaver. She was also a high school history teacher for 32 years, a wife to John, a mother to three sons, Judd, Craig, and Kim. A grandmother to 7 (Laurel, Stacy, Jenna, me, Belinda, Chris, and Josh) and great grandmother to Gretchen, Nick, Hannah, Jake, Josie, and Oliver.  She was a friend to so many different types of people, whether you knew her for a few minutes or for decades. Even last year, she wrote more than100 Christmas cards to people she loved.

 

Family. Firey. Fiercely Independent. Spunky. Kind. Giving, Woman of Great Faith, Generous, Charitable, Optimistic, Saw the Silver Lining, Avid reader, Loved children, celebrating holidays, and God. These are all words that people in Loma’s family used to describe her. My cousin, Belinda, always laughs because when I was younger I said of Grandma that she was a tough cookie. She’d been through a lot and just kept on going.

 

One word that keeps coming up for me that I think described my grandma the best is grit. My grandma had “grit.” I looked it up in the dictionary.  Grit is “the firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” Loma learned independence from an early age. Her father was a frugal man who made wise investments in other farms during her early years, which happened to be during the Great Depression.  Her mother used the money that she got from selling her chicken’s eggs to clothe my grandmother and her two sisters. Committed to educating his three daughters,  Frank insisted that Loma, Ruth, and Doris go to college, which they all did.

 

The values of faith, family, charity, and a hard work ethic were instilled in my Grandma from an early age and she passed them on to all of us. And we are so grateful for these.

Because we’re all knew my Grandma differently, I thought I’d share a few reflections on her life.

 

A glimpse into Loma’s inner life:

 

Grandma was a full time mother and full time teacher as well as a farm owner simultaneously, before it was cool to be all of those things at the same time. Grit.

 

Grandma and GrandpaShe raised her eldest son, Judd, alone for two and a half years while her husband, John, was off at war.

 

Her faith inspired me and others she knew to care about the less fortunate and beyond it all, trust in God. She would often say to me in a knowing voice, “Kid (because she called everyone “kid”), life is hard. But the Lord is with you. He is.” More than anything, she believed that we were to cling closely to God. Whether I was going through a breakup, a move, or another traumatic life event for a young adult, my Grandma would encourage me and all of us in her determined voice that God would and could help, if we let him into our lives.

 

 

-Grandma loved bonfires, Weenie roasts, and pig roasts. If someone were having a birthday, we’d all go out into the back yard and roast weenies in a bonfire.

 

-Grandma also loved lawncare- We couldn’t believe it when she actually hired people to do her lawn because well into her 70s, grandma would be seen tending to her flowers and mowing her acres of lawn by herself, waving to those passing by.

 

-Grandma had a keen fashion sense which she passed on to her granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and daughter-in-laws. To show our love and appreciate of that, we are all wearing hats from the Loma Mills collection.

 

-Vacation – Our family has been taking an annual vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Deleware since 1953. Boardwalk. Funland. Grotto’s Pizza. Rented beach umbrellas. Apartment over Lingo’s market. This was a family tradition that was etched into our lives, since we’ve been going there for so long. It was one of her favorite yearly traditions.

 

-YMCA – Grandma often used to wake up at 5AM to go swimming at the Y up until her 90s. In fact, I just met two of her Y friends before the service who reminded me of how much Grandma loved that daily ritual.

 

-She was also a dedicated sister to Doris and Ruth, with Doris even being across the street. She really looked up to and was grateful to be near her sisters both spiritually and physically. With the Beavers living across the street, their children had memories together. This meant that our family has an entire set of second and third cousins that are actually very close and share holidays and vacations together.

 

-She’d often have 70 person family reunions in her two bedroom cape cod making traditional Thanksgivings and other meals.

 

-An evidence of my Grandma’s grit is this: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith, developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work, so you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4. Her steadfast strength in life and in God were her foundation and she took trials as they came, looking to God for help during troubled times.

 

-Baking cookies and pies. Always a pecan or apple pie waiting or on its way when I visited.

 

-She loved her sweets. My cousin, Belinda, reminded me that she would make people go to two or three different drug stores until she found her favorite, Russell Stover’s candies.

 

-She was a woman of habit, making her infamous Santa Cookies. It was an orchestrated event down to a science. It wasn’t just a dedication to tradition and the holidays IE holiday cookie making, you weren’t just signing up for cookie making, but more a full-fledged production, with 15 minutes spent decorating each cookie.

 

-Grandma wouldn’t want a big “to do” for her funeral. I think she’s glad that we’ve come together as family and friends to celebrate her life because togetherness is what she always wanted and loved best. She might say this if she were here, paraphrased a bit from a poem that Matt Burke, my grandma’s favorite grandson-in-law:

 

”Speak to me in the easy way which you always used to Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.”

 

In that spirit, let me tell you the ice cream story. We were driving in the car in the summer with the windows down. I was about 10 or 12 years old. Grandma had just treated Belinda and me to ice cream. The day before, I had gone to my first ever pig roast at the Lashey’s house and Belinda hadn’t been able to make it. Grandma was always a little bit absent minded so as she was describing how big the pig was, she took her ice cream like this (open arms wide) and it flew out the window, only leaving the cone left! This was a typical kind of story you’d hear about my grandma.

 

To finish, she had a solid 93 years. I think she’d be pleased to see how life came full swing. I don’t think there’s anything else she would have wanted to accomplish in her life. This is her legacy. We are her legacy.

 

And now I’d like to invite her grandchildren and great-grandchildren up to read a poem that was one of our Grandma’s favorites, “The House By The Side Of The Road”.

 

The Hike Where I Almost Died, The Risk That Hurt, Singleness, and Other Mini-Thoughts

29 Dec

Mini-thoughts On My Year – #1

At the end of the year, I often reflect on where I’ve been, hoping to find some commonalities, a story, maybe the imprint of God on my life. This year was no different. An unexpected year, to be sure. A difficult year? Yes, in many ways. But did I grow more? Did I stretch more? Yes. Yes I did. Did I impact lives like I’d hoped to? I’d like to think I did even if it wasn’t in the ways I’d originally thought. Did I love until it hurt? Yes. I can say that for sure I did. Did I come out unscathed? No. I have bruises and scrapes. My heart hurts sometimes from loving this much. Was it awkward? Yes. It is always awkward to love people. When it’s really love, I’ve noticed that it becomes a sacrificial act. And it’s intentional. I had to decide to love even when I didn’t want to. I had to step out. Do things that hurt. Forgive. Grieve. Laugh again. Risk again. Know when I couldn’t participate. Know when I had to push myself forward to take part. I had to trust. I had to examine. I had to let go. I had to spend some time in counseling. I surrounded myself with great people. I realized I have a long way to go. Still do.

Mini- thoughts On Singleness- #2

Note: The following is not a boo-hoo fest on being single. Just a few thoughts I’m processing.

The hardest part about risking and having it not work out is that you sometimes lose a friend in the process. That’s what I’ve noticed about dating. It’s a lot of fun to date and get to know someone else. I highly recommend it and think that it’s necessary and essential if you ever really want to be known. But if you do it right, you’ve gained a real friend when getting to know someone and saying goodbye to that person, no matter how long you’ve been seeing them, is painful.

This is especially the case around the holidays, as I’ve discovered this year. When you see couples and families and get Christmas cards with pictures all over them (which I happen to love, by the way 🙂 ) and you somehow hear every version of “Blue Christmas” ever recorded (the one from Glee is my fave this year!), or when you are just having a sad moment when you remember what it was like to not be alone, it does make it a little difficult for us recently single people.

BEGIN PSA- So this New Year’s Eve or even this next year, if you have someone to kiss or you have kids and a family, remember those of us who don’t and give us a hug. Invite us to hang out with you. I realized the other night when I was hanging out with one of my favorite families and my 5 year old friend was bejeweling my fingers and toes after painting them with hot pink Hello Kitty nail polish, that hanging out with families is so healing for me.  I’m reminded there’s more to the holidays than my blues. I’m thankful for how I’ve seen my married friends and their kids grow.  Hug us. Give us a call. Invite us into your lives. We won’t be sorry and neither will you.  END PSA.  

Mini-thought That Turned Into A Story #3

If I could encapsulate this year in an analogy, I would say it was like this hike that I took in the latter part of this year in Malibu.

The whole point of the hike wasn’t to get to the waterfall at the end, although that was a big part of it. I didn’t know where I was going. At first, it was just a street with a group of majestic mansions on it. It was a beautiful walk but did not resemble a hike quite yet. Little did I know what was coming. After the street, I trekked down through the grass, on a dirt path, through the woods. I got to this point where I literally had to crawl up a steep part of a jagged path. Then after I made it through that, I scaled a couple of boulders and pulled myself up. Finally came the rope. In order to climb up the side of this steep cliff, I had to use a rope and lean back while pulling myself up the side of a mountain. I was parallel with the ground. That took trust. Part of me didn’t want to continue.

After venturing past that and a lot of people, I made it to the waterfall. It was beautiful and tall. Unexpected.

Along the side of the waterfall was this branch that jutted out. Next to that was a slim that one could use, if they were crazy enough, to climb up, shimmying their way across a slippery, thin ledge up into the waterfall. It took a lot of faith, a few swear words, a whole lot of trust, and a few people to help me, but I wanted to climb up into that waterfall and make it back in one piece.

The water was cold even though it was an 80 degree day. It was pelting on my head and I was shaking, getting all of my clothes drenched as I muddied my arms and hands, clawing my way up through moss and slippery rocks until I stood erect in my triumphant arrival .

When I could finally stand and enjoy it, I realized something. I had to figure out how to get back down. I had made it up so part of me knew I could make it. But sooner or later, I would have to start down the waterfall the same way I’d come up. I was surprised when I was able to climb down. It took more effort than climbing up. A stranger literally had to prop me up. I took steps and then backtracked, not trusting where I was stepping. I almost cried. Part of me wanted to jump off although I surely would hurt myself in the fall. In the end, I made it  down to safe ground and I was proud. Proud that I had risked at all. Exhilarated that I could do something like that and not die.

Ever since that moment, I’ve wondered what else I could do. How else can I let myself be surprised? How else can I trust? How can I go through 2012 with more moments of triumph?

Risking in community

Mini-thought on Risk #4

Going back to my year, I’m surprised. Surprised that loss after risk didn’t do serious damage to me or to my friends. Yes it hurts. So much. But not as much as it would hurt if I hadn’t realized what I do now. I know more of what I want after I risked and it didn’t turn out. I am healed more from a past that sometimes feels like a bag full of rocks that I don’t want to carry anymore. As much as it has hurt and still sometimes hurts, the risk was worth it.

Prime: Am I In It Or About To Be?

2 Aug

I’m finally ready to repaint my room. I’ve chosen a color but had never gotten around to putting it on the wall yet. I didn’t have the man power, the time, or even the courage. I’m getting help and soon my room will be entirely primed and painted so that I can begin the process of transforming it into the home that I need it to be for me in this season.

 

In beginning this repainting process, I wrote words on my wall that I wanted to define me. Peace. Patience. Self Control. Kindness. Joy. Love. They are now painted over ever so slightly with a lighter green. I like knowing that underneath my new green layers, I laid the foundation for what I want my room to be about. Who I want to be. I want to be a woman of grace. I want to exude patience. I want to breathe deeply and take in life. I want to feel my feelings but not have them take me over.

 

Priming is the first step of painting. You get things ready so that when the paint goes on, it will go on evenly. You can’t skip this step or your walls won’t turn out smooth. I think God primes us, too. I’m in a priming season. Being prepared for something that is next. Not sure what that is, but I know I need to embrace this process. Fall is coming. The shedding of leaves. Summer is still here so I can’t look ahead too far, but I know in the distance, there will be something new. And now if I waste all of this time avoiding the priming, the walls of my life will not come out evenly and I will have missed a great opportunity.

 

I heard something today from a co-worker. It was about avoiding grief. Her counselor told her that the reason she has been so afraid was because she had avoided dealing with the loss of her friends, brother-in-law, and others who have died around her. She is now having to go back and re-aquaint herself with this grief in order that she will not become one of those death-fearing people for her daughter’s sake. I get that. I have grieved for real recently. So many times in the past I have avoided pain. I’ve replaced. I’ve tried to mask. I’ve displaced it with anger, excitement, busyness, or something else just so that I wouldn’t have to feel it. Since I’ve tried everything else in the past, I decided this time would be different.

 

In this priming season, I’m walking my grief out. I’m crying when it hurts. Facing the pain and not running away. When I dream of the past, I tell myself it’s going to be okay, even if I still don’t believe it after all of this time. I talk to myself. It’s getting better. Slowly. Too slowly sometimes, which is where “patience” comes in. I need it. So did my room.

 

The can of paint is heavy and yet full of unopened possibility. I will stir the thick contents before applying them to my walls. Paint will cover over where there were dents or holes. It will make everything look fresh and new. And isn’t that like God? To make all things new. Sometimes I wonder how and if he will do this for me. And then I remember all of the times before when he has. People keep telling me and I keep believing that I am in a desert season. But I think I’ll rename that. I think instead, I will call it a priming season. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “in her prime” came from. That’s where I want to be. In my prime. So instead of avoiding the grief and the pain of being primed, I will try to welcome it. Because soon my walls will be refreshed and colored in and I will be able to rejoice in the fact that this process, which has taken so long, will have been worth the wait.

Reclaiming Home Part 2

4 Mar

My recent blog about home created a lot of comments on Facebook, and I thought I would update everyone on where I’m at. I’ve decided to create a space where I can feel at home within my own home. After a respite from the beach due to some inclement weather, I’ve decided I need to embrace my living space and create a place where I can just “be.” I’ve gotten much better at recognizing my limits these days. I can tell because I get anxious, start having bad dreams, can’t sleep, and feel resentful toward pretty much everybody. So when those things start happening, I take stock and realize that I’m doing way too much.

Here’s my recent solution to this: I bought a lemongrass candle after smelling every candle at Rite Aid.  My friend, Cara, convinced me Rite Aid had better and cheaper candles than Target. So last weekend we went with Jill and started smelling candles. I walked away with my new Lemongrass scented one. So far, it’s awesome!

I’ve filled my space with good music. Always a plus. If anyone knows where I can get good portable speakers that would be better than my Macbook speakers, I would appreciate it!

I just bought a 3 inch mattress topper because it was reasonably affordable with no charge for shipping and I can’t afford to buy a new mattress right now. This ought to give me more comfort when sleeping, I hope. Thank you, OVERSTOCK.com!

I plan on buying curtains because I’ve decided that after a year and a half, the venetian blinds in my room are not doing it. I’m using this pole that ballerinas at the Community Center used to use as their barre to hang my curtains. It fits perfectly over my window. It was FREE! I can’t wait to paint…

I’m packing up some of my books and all of the electronic stuff in my room and putting it somewhere else. Having books around doesn’t inspire me to be knowledgable like I would hope, instead, it inspires me to want to read and then feel guilty because I’m not doing enough. Too many unread books! I need to find another place to put these books. Maybe not away, but out of sight…

Green paint: I’ve decided. That’s the color for me. Something light. Not like gross green, like spring green! It’d be awesome if I could get an artist paint a tree or something in my room. How cool would that be?

My high school room was a much more dramatic version of this, although not as cool...

I’m trying to figure out my taste. Liz, my former roommate and best friend said to me, “You know, you’ve never actually decorated anything yourself.” She’s right. At least not as an adult. I’ve let other people determine how to decorate my space. So I’m in the process of figuring out what I like. Green is my color right now and it inspires relaxation. So I’m going to follow my instinct on that one.

More as I continue. Behr.com is my new friend. I’m taking a picture of my room and then I’m going to upload it and see what it would look like with green paint. This is going to be fun!

 

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