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Asking Coldplay’s Question, “How Long Must I Wait?”

4 Dec

Jesus in a Manger Luke 2:7

It’s the season of waiting. Advent. Waiting for Jesus to come and dwell with us.

And I’m not going to lie, part of me is a little bit perturbed.

For the past almost 8 months, I thought that once I got married, the whole waiting thing would be over. I’ve been single for years, waiting for the day when I could wake up next to my husband. When I met Mark and we got engaged and I figured out he was actually going to be my husband, I waited until we could be in the same city. I waited until my job could be done so that I could plan my wedding. I waited until my wedding day with much anticipation. I waited for marriage until we were able to consumate it. By the time I thought all of the waiting was all over, I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into a few weeks of wedded bliss I was through waiting. For good. Or so I thought…

Illustrating the fun part of marriage.

Illustrating the fun part of marriage.

The honeymoon is done, the dress is back from the cleaners and we’ve settled into the life you would expect for newlyweds as they learn to be husband and wife. The big smiles we exchange when he gets home from work. The nights spent cuddling on the couch watching “Sherlock.” The date nights. Getting our first Christmas tree together. And some of the not so fun things…the burnt meals as I learn how to use stainless steel pots and pans and our weird electric no-burner oven. The sleepless nights of “I’m cold, can you give me some blankets?” and  Mark’s restless legs which wake him up around 3 or 4 which means I wake up at 3 or 4. The harsh words we sometimes exchange when one of us is too tired or too hungry or when we just need a way to accept all of this transition but don’t know how to tell one another.

It’s all a lot of newness and as I learn how to be a wife, I’m still waiting.

What for?

Well for one, I’m waiting for my driver’s license with my new name to arrive.

I’m waiting for someone to call me back for an interview after I’ve submitted my millionth resume. 

I’m waiting for friendships to blossom. 

I’m waiting to fully settle into a church.

I’m waiting to get used to the silence in my apartment that is not accompanied by the strangely comforting helicopters on police searches, the techno music blaring through the floor below… (although now we have a pitter patter of a dog’s feet most days and every other Sunday a child who likes to pretend our ceiling is a trampoline while her parents are…where are they?!) I’m waiting for them to repremand her.

I’m waiting to figure out who I am apart from Melissa Mills. So I bought a website. MelissaBlakey.com. I’m going to be transferring my blog over there soon. I’ve been writing pages daily just to write because Melissa Blakey is a writer, a wife, and while she’s not employed currently, she’s wrestling through the waiting period known as transition. It happens to coincide beautifully with Advent. Sometimes I think God has a funny sense of humor and he proves points to me constantly with it.

It’s like He’s saying, “Melissa, I’m still God even when you have to wait.”

And so, I wait. I’m not always happy about it.

Some days, I’m really down about the waiting.

But I’m trusting that the God who once made it possible that I would miraculously win a claim for $4000 with my dental insurance will show up.

Me, at 7

Me, at 7

I’m hoping that He who saved my life at age 7 when I had a kidney problem will not let me down.

I’m here. Grateful for my husband, my life in San Diego, the friends I still have in LA, the friends I soon will have here. 

I’m believing that God will come through:

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” -Psalm 130:5

What about you? What do you find yourself waiting for this season? 

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When Will The Rhythm Come?

14 Nov

For weeks I’ve been trying to write something to completely capture my various emotions throughout this season, but I’ve come up short. Through engagement, moving, wedding planning, the wedding, honeymooning, and now returning to my new home, I’ve felt everything from extreme happiness to complete shock. I’m navigating through a fantastic, fun, but also lonely season that no one really talks about in marriage books. I’m in a haze. I don’t have a wedding to plan and I’m trying to get used to a man sleeping in my bed.

But here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

I’ve gained a husband and a new apartment. I’ve gained a great new city. I have a lot of great stuff for my kitchen. I go to the library again. I’ve learned to snorkel and zip line and ride unconventional buses in Mexico. I’ve watched more than one World Series game. I had the best wedding ever. I’ve mellowed out in a lot of ways because I’m not sitting on the 405. I get to start things over. I’m thankful. Truly.

But I’ve lost my rhythm.

These kind of look like the shoes I have

These kind of look like the shoes I have

When I was a kid, I had this dream of being a tap dancer. I actually still have new tap shoes that I keep to remind me of that dream that never materialized. In retrospect, I never was great with rhythm in terms of dancing. I was off beat, insecure, and always felt the other people in the classes I took were better than I was. But in other areas, I had great rhythm. I was an excellent student who thrived in the confines of school and rose to the occasion when teachers gave me assignments. I also thrived in ministries. I showed up, I figured out what to do and how to do it with gusto. Since 2008, I’ve known exactly where I was going to be on Wednesday nights. It’s kind of nice.

A few months ago, my friend, Sarah, who is one of the most creative people I know, mentioned the word “structure.” I shuddered a little bit. Because I like to be unconventional and rebellious in my own way, I have hated to think I need a routine or a structure. I’ve always thought that I was too creative for that. My mom keeps telling me I’m wrong…when Sarah told me structure is good, my jaw dropped open and I secretly wondered if she had been taken and replaced by someone else.

The more I thought about it and the more I’m still considering “structure,” I realizing that I feel like I’m tumbling head over feet in a wave of newness, looking for something familiar so that I can put my feet down on solid ground. Like Sarah, I need to find my structure, or rhythm. I was listening to an unfamiliar jazz station here on the radio when it hit me.

I wonder if I’m like a good jazz song.

Right now, it seems like there’s no reason and there’s a lot of instruments making different sounds. But as you listen, it starts to make sense. The familiar notes start to repeat but at different speeds and in little bits and tastes instead of the way it is in traditional music when you hear the same verse over and over. Maybe I’m like that. Finding different parts of myself in a new way. It just takes time for the undercurrent of the rhythm to take hold.

I started thinking of that song lyric, “I’ve got rhythm…I’ve got music, I’ve got my man who could ask for anything more?” Well, I’ve got the man but the other two are kind of hazy at the moment. I have more questions than answers at this point, but I’m glad I’m putting some of these thoughts down into writing.

Instead of being impatient, I’ll just keep asking questions and reminding myself that transition takes time and I decided to do three huge ones at once. What does my rhythm look like? I don’t know quite yet. So I’ll keep feeling the feelings, writing them out, and asking God to lead me, even in the mundane. Hopefully as I start to be more intentional about my days, the rhythm will come. And it will be a sweet sound when I begin to dance.

The Dirty Little Secret That Engaged People Don’t Talk About: How I Realized I Needed More Grace Than Ever!

2 Sep
While our photographer captures beautiful moments, no one knows the story of how Mark repainted my nails right before this or how we were totally stressed out driving to Newport Beach that day, or the fact that parking was a nightmare...the truth behind the engagement pics! :)

While our photographer captures beautiful moments, no one knows the story of how Mark repainted my nails right before this or how we were totally stressed out driving to Newport Beach that day, or the fact that parking was a nightmare…the truth behind the engagement pics! 🙂

I recently read a blog from a friend, Stephanie May, where she made a terrific point about relationships that then turn into engagements. No one talks about how hard it is. I’m not complaining and saying “Oh whoa is me, I’m about to be married.” I’m just wanting to publicly recognize that being engaged and making no less than three major life changes at once is really tough. At times, trying to figure it all out, trust God, keep my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in check, and enjoy the process is not nearly as easy as everyone makes it out to be.

 

When I was single watching others do this, I heard some horror stories and saw a few knowing looks exchanged between recently married couples that I really didn’t quite understand until now. But I’m starting to realize that engagement doesn’t equal immediate bliss, happily ever after, fun and games. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s trying at times. There are tears and frustrations, words that can’t be taken back, tension headaches, and at times I just want to elope to avoid all of these decisions!

 

I love Mark very much and I can’t wait to be his wife, his teammate, and the person closest to him who gets to witness first-hand who God is creating him to be. I seriously can’t wait! But the part where I have to plan a wedding living 100 miles away from him, figure out finances, and apartment shop with him has been trying. I’m not going to lie.

 

Before we were engaged, Mark and I would squabble about little things like where to eat or logistics of navigating a long distance relationship but mostly, we just enjoyed hanging out and being together. We had new adventures every weekend and while it was annoying trying to figure out the 100 mile distance, it wasn’t impossible. Now that we’re engaged, we fight about the usual stuff and everything else in between. Our words are sharper. We are more on edge. And although we’ve always both been very genuine about who we were from the beginning and we’ve been dating for 16 months, we’ve both wondered at times during this engagement process if this person we’re marrying is actually a total stranger!

Sometimes the word “bridezilla” takes on a whole new meaning to me, even though it’s really not as much about the wedding as it is about all of the emotions that go into quitting my job, moving 100 miles south away from my amazing community and friends, and moving in with a BOY! I seriously had a nightmare the other night about learning how to share a bed…

But before you swear off marriage all together or dismiss me as ungrateful, let me explain what good is coming out of this process.

I’m realizing how much I have to grow.

Every time I say something harsh to Mark, I feel it. I know it like you just know when you’ve done something wrong. It sticks with me, like a little pin. After awhile, the pins have built up and it becomes really uncomfortable. I realize how wrong I am, and how much I’m hurting the person that I’m marrying in less than 50 days. It’s completely crazy.

 

I think: “Why am I doing this? Did I REALLY just say that? When did I become so mean? Why am I so defensive? Mark’s not the bad guy! “(I’m so thankful that I was in counseling for so long so that I could learn some of these techniques). So when I find myself engaging in this process, I try to stop, take stock of the situation, ask myself what I’m really upset about, and breathe. Sometimes, it actually works. Especially when we’re face to face. Other times, we hurt each other, there are tears and then forgiveness, and I’m reminded again how much grace I need and how much I need to extend.

In these moments, Tim Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage” comes alive and I recognize it when he says,

“Here is why you can say to your spouse who has wronged you, “I see your sin, but I can cover it with forgiveness because Jesus saw my sin and covered it.” It is because the Lord of the universe came into the world in disguise, in the person of Jesus Christ, and he looked into our hearts and saw the worst.  And it wasn’t an abstract exercise for Jesus– our sins put him to death.  When Jesus was up there, nailed to the cross, he looked down and saw us, some denying him, some betraying him, and all forsaking him.  He saw our sin and covered it.”

 

I start to understand my own sin. My own fallenness. And I remember that God loved me first, and out of that place, I can choose. Do I hold tight to my conviction that I am right or do I let go and love Mark where he is at? Do I say what’s on the tip of my tongue or stop and let that little jab stay where it should until I’m reminded that I shouldn’t say that to my future-husband who I love and am about to pledge my life to?

 

Ah the days when dropping my ice cream was my biggest concern! :)

Ah the days when dropping my ice cream was my biggest concern! 🙂

How did engagement do this? Is it the refining process? Is it a way that we’re tested before we make the biggest committment we’ll ever make to one person? I don’t really know, but I do hope and pray that on the other side of this when Mark and I are hanging out in our apartment after the wedding gifts are opened, the champagne has lost it’s bubbles, the dress is sold on Craigslist, and we are just us trying to figure out how to love each other well that we’ll look back on this time of testing and know that we are stronger because of it.

 

Until then, it’s time to find wedding bands, pick the DJ list, plan a move, get me a new job, and do our best to work together to navigate these uncertain waters. We will both have harder choices than these in the next 47 days. Will we choose sacrificial love? Grace? Words that will build up and not destroy? I hope to. I really do.

 

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Fear of The Unknown And Not Feeling Known: What Do I Do With All Of My Anxiety?

20 Aug

Frustrated. Sad. Anxious. A clamor, a panging, a feeling that I was forgetting something majorly important. My engagement ring? Well, yes, it was at home in the box, where I’d left it safely the night before, only to be abandoned in my morning haste to beat the traffic that coagulates near Downtown LA on Thursdays mornings after 7:15. But something else? What?

Sometimes pre-wedding anxiety is like that. You just have a constant feeling you’ve left something to chance and that it won’t be okay. Weird, right?  I’ve had too much caffeine. Not enough actual food. In fact, have I eaten at all today, save those two candies in the church office? Hmm. It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter. What mattered was this: after the rush, after the haste, after the pounding head and spinning wheels and 29.2 miles in 70 minutes, I was here. Here. To breathe. Breathe? Really? Yes, breathe.

I often find myself feeling most at home on beaches. I took this shot on a cold day in South Carolina when I found this deserted beach.

I often find myself feeling most at home on beaches. I took this shot on a cold day in the Carolinas when I found this deserted beach.

I knew what I needed. A trip to the beach. A different beach that I had only been to once before during a Spring Break several years back when visiting my friend in North Carolina.  A North Carolina beach.
And so I sat there in the counselor office, closed my eyes, and we went there. But not just the two of us. I invited a friend along. One it felt like I hadn’t seen in awhile.
He came from a far off place in the distance. We usually meet on tropical shores but today, it was a warm winter afternoon with a slight breeze on that beach in North Carolina. The one where the wispy grass blows calmly, the seagulls congregate in a lazy circle, the water is shocking and colder than you remember, but a comfort all the same. We usually sit on a log together and chat, but I sit all day so I decided we’d walk on the shore. The sky was more clouds than anything. No blues, just soft, muted grays that reminded me that this wasn’t paradise, but it was a place where all slates were wiped clean. Simple. Truth could be revealed here.
He saw me and acted surprised. But not in a “Make you feel guilty” way. More in a “You’re the only person I want to see today and I’m so glad you showed up!” way. He got closer, not a care in the world, dipping his feet in the water, getting his clothes wet like an excitable 5 year old with rain puddles aplenty, too many to resist.  So he jumped in and out of the waves, waving at me? And then his face grew serious. Not in a scary way. In a “Where ya been? I’m so glad to see you!” way. He approached and I exhaled, the first time in weeks.
And we began to walk. I was hesitant. I told him of my fears, still scared that I would say too much. I hemmed and hawwed, skirtted around words, which I never do.
“I’m scared of a new life where I don’t feel known.”
Not just announcing a feeling but the other Unknowns. Feeling alone. I was wondering, wondering if he was going to go to San Diego with me since I had first really met him and grown with him in LA. It felt honest. It was. I was. For the first time with him, my old friend who knew me better than I knew myself. I was saying everything that had been bottled for far too long. Not champagne but feelings bursting forth, a fountain of truth was emerging.
I talked a bunch. He listened. Then I began to listen. I felt him calm my fears. He showed me pictures of when I’d been so scared before.  Brokenhearted. So lonely. He reminded me that he had been there that time. I had been hopeless, I didn’t see a future. He was now showing me now that I have one. That there are plans laid out. Where I will still have choices and friends and where my love with my future husband will grow into that beautiful thing that I believed in when I was a little girl. I will have a place to call home. Not just a physical place, a place where I will be stable and rooted.
A place that will start with Him. Not my husband him, but Him Him. I won’t create it, although I’ll help. I will claim the gift he is giving me. Like the Israelites when they came back to the Promise Land. I will belong. I will be free. I will lead because those gifts don’t go away with a location change. I will look back at this moment. I will remember how deeply I felt and that what I was asking for was courage and faith. I can’t conjure those up on my own. I can’t dream them into being. I had to ask. I had to confess the places where I had forgotten that He is Lord and I am not. I had to let go of me and hold tight instead to Him when the me part ceases to make sense.
p_00044I’ve been wondering how to feel this “joy” people talk about when they are engaged. Mostly I feel stress and like planning a wedding is a full-time job. I’m not a fan of big decisions or “you HAVE to do it this way.” When I left the beach, it didn’t matter. I knew in this way that you know things after an encounter with the Living God that it was ALL. Going. To Be. Fine. I was going to thrive. I was Set Apart. I was Known and better than anything, LOVED.
It was the peace that surpasses understanding. Finally.
It was the easy burden, the light yoke. I get it now! 
It was the flowers of the field ,not worrying, it was the moment when you laugh because Jesus looks down at his wrist where you think the watch will be and it’s not there because he invented time! “Why wear a watch?” he asked. I laughed. A real gut busting laugh….
I’m now back to my quiet couch in South Pasadena, where I will be for three more months before this new unknown, but less scary now adventure begins. The sky is a briliant orange and pink. A tad different from that serene beach calm, but still calm. He’s showing me life and life abundantly. And I’m starting to believe it again because I had forgotten! It is for freedom that we were set free. And so I do what I learned to do and I. Just. Breathe.

My Teeth Are Falling Out: Coping With Life Changes The Best Way That I Can!

19 Aug
Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’d say life has gotten in the way. I’m attempting to make a huge life change…well several life changes. Not only am I getting married for the first time, I’m also leaving the single life that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for quite some time. Not to mention, I’m attempting to find a new home in a new place, I’m leaving my job, and launching myself into the Unknown. Needless to say, the stress of these new changes on top of planning a wedding has left me little time to process. But after a dream I had on Saturday night, that’s all about to change.

You know how there are dreams where you feel they are so real that you wake up in a fright? That’s where I was Sunday morning when I jumped out of my bed in a cold sweat. For the better part of an hour,

I couldn’t shake the feeling of the dream.

Although the topic was pretty standard, I thought it was so real that I had to check the mirror three times before I realized that it was just a dream.

My Mouth TodayI dreamed that my teeth were all falling out one by one, crumpling in my hand and the more I tried to put them back in together, the more that fell out. Soon, not only pieces of my teeth were falling out, but wires I didn’t realize were even in my mouth were falling out! It was scary! Later that day, I Googled it to see what it could mean. I’m not huge on dream interpretation, but when I read the positives and negatives of the dream, I was shocked. They all seemed right on the money!

What does it mean when you dream about your teeth falling out? This symbol has both negative and positive meanings that can help refine your interpretation.

Negative meanings
  • Insecurities, especially about a personal loss  (YES! I’m leaving my life and starting something new. Leaving singleness, which is known for married life, unknown).
  • Anxiety about sexual experience (Without getting too TMI, I’ll just say yes)
  • A compromise that is costly to you (Yes, see above)
  • Life changes and “growing pains” (HAHA. Again.)
  • Fear of becoming older (Eh, not really.)
Positive meanings
  • Signs of personal expansion (WHOO HOO. Yes. I hope to expand personally! Always)
  • Wish or need to nurture yourself more carefully (Yes. I’ve been thinking that once my job is over and before I move, I’ll go get a massage. Wedding planning is rough).
  • An invitation to explore feelings of loss and personal growth (Yes, that is why I’m writing this blog)
  • A call to look at your support system (Yes, I miss my support system. It seems in all the commuting too and from work and the exhaustion that goes along with it, I’ve not reconnected to my support system lately. Definitely need to do that.)
  • The Jungian interpretation: Times of renewal and “rebirth” (Yep, Yep. Excited about that, also a little nervous)
Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

Photo by Daniel Schwartzkopf Photography https://www.facebook.com/danielschwartzkopfphoto

So, as it is, I’m feeling all sorts of things at the moment. Rather than stuffing them down until they turn into me lashing out against the nearest person and then breaking down into tears about it, I think I’ll go back to old faithful–journaling and blogging. Praying again. Getting in touch with the God that I so want to trust through this process. So, if you’re so inclined, follow my journey on the blog as I make the biggest transition of my life! Maybe you’ve already made this transition? Leave me advice in the comments! I could use it! 🙂

Idealism On Pause: Musing About The Hardest News Week In Recent Memory Accompanied By Ray LaMontagne

19 Apr

 

Although not the Boston Marathon, this one was my first experience with the "heart" that runners have for excellence and perseverance

Although not the Boston Marathon, this one was my first experience with the “heart” that runners have for excellence and perseverance

It’s 9:17PM on Friday, April 19, 2013. It’s a Ray LaMontagne “Trouble” rather than a Taylor Swift “Trouble” kind of night. I don’t feel much like doing anything except for enjoying the creature comforts of my childhood — old episodes of “Growing Pains” and macaroni and cheese. I thought after this week I’d want to go out with friends but truth be told, I don’t have the energy. I barely made it home after sitting in LA traffic and having a mild panic attack because they finally caught “Suspect 2” from the Boston Marathon bombings.

 

I wonder if others felt what I felt this week. I don’t have a TV but I was glued to the news feed and radio, obsessed with learning everything I could about the Boston Marathon bombings, chase, pursuit, and key players. I stayed up late every night feasting on the latest “breaking news”, which, as one of my friends pointed out, seemed as if it were being directed by Michael Bay (think summer blockbuster movie with lots of explosions and his name is probably all over it). It’s strange to think that news can be “breaking” all week. The newness wears off at some point, but it didn’t really for me. For some reason, I just had to know what was going on.I felt like if I missed it, I’d be unable to help, even though there’s really nothing I can do aside from pray, which I could barely do.

 

I’m having what my friend calls “a dry spell” with God. I’m not really sure why but in times like this when I get totally overwhelmed with bad news and I sit in it for too long, I start to realize how much I really need God and how horrible a world without God would be. I think of those who don’t have his comfort because they don’t have a relationship with him and it saddens me to the point of tears.

 

I wonder what else I could be doing tonight. The anxiety surrounds me like a blanket. I know I’m safe. I know God is good but I can’t help but wonder what people in Boston thought as they quickly watched their town turn into a police state. Running free on Monday to locked in their houses as the police searched up and down for a 19-year-old accused of wreaking havoc on a city and the American psyche as a whole. I don’t know what to do with that. 19 years old. And the 26-year-old. I think about what I was doing at 26 and it definitely didn’t involve 200 rounds and robbing a 7-11.

 

“Sometimes it feels like worry is my only friend.” Ray sings. 

 

That was me today. Worry and anxiety seemed like constant companions.  Was it the stress of covering a busy CEO’s desk? Or did it really have to do with me experiencing what my life coach calls “the dark side” of my strengths individualization and empathy? Apparently when those two talents are paired in a person, it can mean that one has a blind spot and can overly experience situations and emotions of others all around them. If this is true, it explains why after this exhausting week both at work and news wise, I’m just spent. Over. Done. Cooked goose.

 

I thought about those people all stuck in their homes in fear today. What kind of a world do we live in right now when someone can set off a bomb affecting hundreds of lives and then set off a police chase affecting millions more just four days later? I’m having an increasingly tough time with that. And yet, I know that the police worked so diligently together. They caught the suspect. They made the streets safe. For that, I am grateful. The waving American flags. Bostonians with smiles on their faces for the first time since the marathon’s beginning. And now that the fear has subsided, the city of Boston cheers tonight because they can come out of their houses a little less fearful.

 

Hope in the desert

Hope in the desert

If you want the honest truth, some days I don’t know how to live in a world where weeks like this one are commonplace. I don’t know how we can just get “used to” school shootings, bombings, poisonous letters, 8 year olds dying, demented doctors getting away with murder, entire towns blowing up, and the like. I don’t know how to pray for that, because doing so would admit that this world is so very broken and I don’t often like seeing it that way even though it is true. As an idealist, I prefer the rose-colored glasses. Oceans. Sunsets. Nature. People loving one another well. Bubbles. Babies and puppies. Silly smiles. Meadows. Fresh laundry. Anything good you’d see on Pinterest. But right now, I don’t have the words to pray. My faith feels fragile tonight. It’s hard to see the good in this moment. Yes, the terror has subsided. But a small part of me wonders “What next? Will next week be worse?”

 

As Ray sings these lyrics from “Empty,” I pause.

 

Asking questions that don't have easy answers

Asking questions that don’t have easy answers

“There’s a lot of things I don’t understand/Why so many people lie/Well, it’s the hurt I hide that fuels the fires inside me/ Will I always feel this way/So empty, so estranged?” 

I let myself sit there while the words hang in the air for a moment.

And then, slowly, as if coming out of a fog, I remember the words of my pastor last Sunday. We’re currently in a series called “Sifted”, which is about how following Christ means we’ll go through trials. He said, “Hold on. Cling on tight. Don’t waste a sifting because we’re all going to be sifted.”

In my doubts, in my fears and anger and grief about this situation and others this week, I’ll do my best to cling. I’ll not waste it. I’ll do my best to see a bigger picture where people come out of their houses after a horrible week so that they can wave flags and smile because justice has been done. I will choose hope, once again.

Another song just came on…

 

“I will shelter you…I will shelter you…I will shelter you.”

I will do my best tonight, despite my uneasiness, to cling to that promise.

 

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”.

 

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