Friday, December 26, 2008


Karin continues to make us smile with her four-year-old thoughts and words. Here are a few that have cracked me up or warmed my heart lately...

  • After ordering and listening to the worker announce our total through the speaker of the Taco Johns drive-through, Karin's voice came from the back: "why does she live in that box (referring to the attendant)?"
  • At a recent dinnertime the conversation turned to what our bodies will be like when Jesus returns and takes us home with him. Of primary concern for the three kids was what color we will be. Jay hopes to be golden. Ethan said he wants a golden head, but a normal everything else. And then Karin weighed in: "I want to have a dark brown body, just like Eva (her best friend, recently adopted from India)!"
  • Christmas morning, as Karin enjoyed her new wooden kitchen from Mom and Dad, she suddenly informed/asked me, "I've been thinking about if God likes bacon."
  • Karin's understanding of the intangible has been growing everyday, especially since she asked Jesus to be her savior earlier this fall. The other day, as I was leaving her to take her usual rest time in an unfamiliar place (we were staying with friends while our house was being worked on), I attempted to reassure her by letting her know that she would be in the room alone but I would be nearby. "But God will be with me," she replied.

In a book lent to me by a friend recently, God's Whisper in a Mother's Chaos, the author says that God "most often... uses the people around us to guide us and teach us," usually the ones we are with the most.

For me that would be my kids, and of the ones that are home all day and that talk intelligibly, that would be Karin.

I think I'll be listening a little closer...she says great stuff!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kitchen Update

You guys have been praying... I could feel it the day after I wrote that last post! Three and a half weeks under our belts, here's the update:

The kitchen, downstairs bathroom, and pantry are completely gutted, their remains in a maxed-out 20 yard dumpster out front. I've had the silly idea of listing it on ebay as "used kitchen for sale--some assembly required". Our carpenter has finished framing the necessary walls and doorways, and by week's end we will have a brand-new back door and beautiful new windows.

Last week went a bit off-schedule when we discovered we had special ordered the wrong size door. We'd hoped Lampert's would take it back, but nope, they wouldn't. Then we figured we'd just live with a smaller door, but nope, the city of Hudson wouldn't allow it. So if you're in the market for a 2'6" exterior steel half-lite door with aluminum cladding, let me know--we'll give you a good deal.

That was a blow, and forced us to move ahead immediately with another part of the project we had decided to take on...the staircase. Those of you who have climbed my stairs know they were a deathtrap. Pretty much everyone in our house except for Brian have fallen down them at one time or another, as has my mom. They were more than 45 degrees steep and had treads only 9+ inches deep with a 2 inch lip that made them only 7+ inches deep on the way down. So, with the ceiling downstairs opened up and the staircase accessible, we decided now was the time. The day we discovered the door mistake and redirected to take out the stairs I had just over two hours to pack up the entire family and move out (with our only working bathroom on the upper level, there was no way to live here without stairs). Those two hours showed me what it would be like to be evacuated due to a natural disaster or nuclear war! Our bags packed, the Crim refugees migrated to Wade and Kara's for three days while the staircase was torn apart and rebuilt. The amazing result: a code staircase in a 100 year old house! It makes me smile.

Upstairs Jeff the carpenter also framed in a wall above the stairs in the hallway where my new washer and dryer will go. Mom told me she and my stepdad wanted to get us a new set, so soon I will be doin' laundry in style! The first time I run a load on those beautiful front-load steam machines I think I will break down and weep for joy.

Last night Brian told me he thinks we won't have a functional kitchen for another month, at which point I promptly threw down a pencil and bolted upstairs to cry. Expectations are tough to change. We worked through it and are moving on...what else can we do? There are days when I don't think I can wait one more day for this project to be over, and there are days (like today) where it just doesn't seem so bad. We have been blessed by friends who have made us meals or had us over for dinner and who have invited me over to do laundry, for which we are so thankful. Brian is carrying a lot of stress right now with the project, his other job as youth pastor, his stressed-out and intermittently crabby wife, and a sermon to preach in 10 days, so I worry about him. But we're just taking things one day at a time.

Probably more detail than anyone needed here, but that's the scoop. I know this is all going to be worth it someday. Really. But in the meantime, please keep up the prayers!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Intercession Needed

Brothers and sisters, pray for me. What small shred of sanity I may or may not have been in possession of two weeks ago is rapidly disappearing...

For a long LONG time now we have planned on renovating our kitchen. The 36 inches of countertop (not including the top of the washing machine conveniently located at the end of the counter) just didn't cut it for a family of six. Add to this that everything has been breaking down or falling apart. First it was the floor coming up. Next it was the front of the silverware drawer falling off. Then, the portable dishwasher stopped working and the door to the pantry fell off. And then one day (this one's my favorite), as I went to adjust the temperature on the oven, the knob fell off...and SHATTERED on the top of the range, thereby making it pretty difficult to tell what temp. the oven was at. It had become painfully obvious that a new kitchen was not a want, but a need.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go for it. The carpenter (Vonda's dad) whom we were planning to do the work became available to do the project, and Brian had some time off left for the year. So, last week we spent several days gutting the existing room, right down to the studs and joists. There was paneling, then drywall, then lathe boards, then wool insulation. There were two layers of linoleum, two layers of wood floor, and then subfloor. At points the dusty debris was close to a foot high before we'd shovel it in the garbage can and wheel it to the dumpster.

Now we have a bare room that is starting to be slowly rebuilt. But since last Sunday when we pulled out the appliances and sink we have been without a downstairs water source, a stove, or laundry facilities (remember the conveniently located washing machine). I have set up a mock kitchen in our school room (which also has one wall gone leaving a gaping hole into the kitchen) with a microwave, toaster oven, and plastic container holding water that I use like a sink. Every morning I think of Little House on the Prairie as I "fetch" water from the bathtub upstairs.

Those of you who have kitchens realize that they are pretty important in the daily functioning of a household. And although I know it is going to be a glorious improvement when the project is done in about a month or so, I'm just pretty darn crabby about the whole thing in the meantime. At this point I am fairly certain that I will never again have a house that is in order--too many things have been shoved in too many corners to deal with later. My days are filled with researching appliances, running over to Lamperts to choose new doors and windows, phone calls to the plummer, the lumber yard, the dumpster guy. And with Christmas in only 22 more days, well, it's just a new level of crazy over here.

So if the name Jen Crim or the word kitchen comes to mind over these next few weeks, please follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and fervently intercede on my behalf, as well as for my family, who has to live with the crazed woman without a kitchen. It's one day at a time over here, and 2009 just can't come fast enough!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No-Buy No More

Well, our 30 days of financial fast are over...yippee! It was a great experiment, and went well, overall. In the end, we managed to save about $650 total between food, household supplies, and fun money. That was enough to bring my food budget back into the black and almost my clothing budget as well. That feels great! Now as the end of the year approaches I can know that we will hit pretty close to the mark on our budgeted expenses, which makes me breathe easier.

Thirty days of different spending habits have made some differences in the way I spend now. The biggest change is in how I assess our needs vs. wants. The past month showed me that there are MANY things that really aren't needs, but rather, are wants. My family and I can get by (for awhile at least) without orange juice, Oreo's, Saturday morning donuts, raw sugar, granola bars, graham crackers, Papa Murphy's pizza, and yes, even chocolate chips. Cutting these kinds of things out saved a bundle! It is good to have a fresh appreciation for what my family truly needs.

I also learned to buy less. Use up what is in the pantry and freezer first, buy what is needed to cover the rest. I used to think I saved a lot of money by stocking up on stuff when it was on sale--enough to make it through to the next sale. And Sam's Club has been a wicked temptation in that area. It is easy to spend way past my budget with the sneaky excuse of, "but I'm saving so much!" Then, with my mounds of frozen chicken nuggets and triple packs of brownies and dozen loaves of bread in the freezer I would go through food much more quickly, figuring, "well, I've got so much of it, anyway...might as well use it up!" Buying just for one week causes you to be much more careful about the supplies that you have. I don't think I'll be going to Sam's anymore.

Thirdly, we've now switched back to a cash budget. Can't spend what's not in the envelope.

I'm glad the month is over, to be honest. It took more brain-power to figure out my meals, and I really do need a haircut. It's not fun to be too tight-wadish for too long; I'm thankful to loosen up a bit. But I probably will try to repeat this exercise once or twice a year from now on. It's just a great way to recalibrate the financial compass and get back on track. Plus, I really just like the idea of not buying so much stuff. I have too much as it is, which means that I have to spend more time taking care of it, figuring it out, repairing it, cleaning it, etc. It's good to remember that there's really not that much we need.

Except chocolate chips.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snack Machine?

Today I found myself wondering, "are the words 'SNACK MACHINE' tattooed on my forehead?" They must be, because it seems to be the first thing that enters my kids' brains when they look at me... Mommy...FOOD! Perhaps this is just a byproduct of early infant-mother bonding through nursing, and I know they need to eat, but really--does it have to be ALL DAY? Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, no-you-may-NOT-have-another-snack-before-dinner, dinner, dessert...One of these days, I swear, those kids are gonna come home to find sign hangin' on my nose that says, "OUT OF ORDER"!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Freedom of Choice Act

The election is over and God, in his sovereignty, has given us a new leader. And in obedience to God's commands, I will respect and pray for Barack Obama, as all of us who are followers of Christ should. But we Christians also need to be aware of what the President Elect's expressed intentions are on the issue of legal abortion, what Randy Alcorn has called "the holocaust of our day".

I know many of us are discouraged about what we fear might come to pass under President Obama. But even he cannot bring this law to pass if we, the People, make our voices heard to our representatives and senators. Please take 30 seconds to watch this video and then go to the link in my sidebar for and sign the petition. Let's stand up together to tell our lawmakers ENOUGH!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jay's Brain

Tonight we made homemade pizza and got National Treasure 2 with a free coupon code from Redbox. I was excited to watch this movie with the kids because we were just at Mount Rushmore a few weeks ago and it plays a prominent part in the movie. The girls were crabby and distracting so they had to go to bed by 8, but we let the boys stay up and finish the show with us.

Anyways, there's a scene towards the end when the treasure finders have just discovered the City of Gold and are busy reveling in the rich artifacts that have been buried for centuries. All of a sudden, the huge stone blocks holding back the river above them from flooding the site begin to burst apart and water starts to spray out. It was at this moment that Jay proclaims, "me and my big mind figured that was gonna happen."


Friday, November 07, 2008

Jesus is My Friend

My friend Karen Corlew showed this to me last weekend when she was here. This is for all you out there who love rock and roll. hee hee

Thursday, November 06, 2008


So we've passed the half-way mark of our month of no-buying and overall, things are going well. Week 2 of food was purchased for $44, still well under my goal of $60. This week I've fallen off the wagon a couple of times...groceries only came to $52 but I ran out to grab a Papa Murph's on election night and took the boys out for Wendy's on the way back from a concert at Orchestra Hall. But I've only dropped $22 in three weeks at Target, so I'm ahead now in that category.

It's actually been a nice reprieve from spending time and energy thinking about buying stuff. And I am still having fun being creative and using up old food from my cupboards. Last week I made banana cream pie (even made the crust!) and only had to buy CoolWhip to go on top. And the kids loved the almond bark-dipped pretzels I made for a snack after school. Not everything has gone well, however. The frozen dough I pulled out to make rolls for dinner tonight must have been in the freezer a bit too long...they were closer to hockey pucks than anything else.

And I do need to make one disclaimer for this whole thing: we had a freezer full of ground bison meat (thank-you Mom!) and a couple of frozen chickens, so that has helped a lot, and my Dad came into town for a week, so we got to eat out several times. My totals would be higher if not for those facts. But I am still amazed at how much I can save when I focus on eating up what I already have and not buy extra stuff not on the menu for the week. It's been a great exercise.

So, altogether I've cut our food budget shortfall in half and am now $100 in the black on household supplies (ie Target). I do notice, however, that my list of stuff to buy after the 30 days are up is starting to grow. Let's see: paint, a new computer-headset connector, fabric softener, lipstick, hair color and highlights, and oh yeah--a haircut (long overdue!). I may need a chaperone to accompany me to Target that first trip back...any volunteers?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 3: The First Test

If you're confused about what this post is about, check out my previous post for some context...

Today was my day to shop for the week's groceries. I spent extra time over the past few days looking through my cupboards for things we can eat up this week. Last night I finished my list and tried to calculate how much I would need to spend on my necessary supplies. I figured I could probably get it all for about $45, well under my goal of $60 (which is half what we budget to spend each week). Well, I got everything I needed and it only came to $36.26! WAHOO! Look at me and my bad self! And I didn't even set foot in Target...we all know what happens when you go there.

It will be tough to continue this level of savings as the month goes by, but right now I'm thrilled. Aldi is my best friend. But besides that, I truly did not realize how much I have in my kitchen already and how much I can do with it. The bananas on their way to mushville have now been transformed into banana bread for the kids' after school snack. And that box of cherry jell-o is dessert for tonight. It feels good to use stuff up.

Thanks to those of you who offered costumes for Jay. I think we've got a good one lined up through Pam. Jay decided he wants to be Prince Caspian, so he'll be dressed in knight regalia, thanks to Stuey. And can I just say that I love the idea of asking each other for this kind of thing? I mean, do we all have to own everything? Let's borrow more and buy less, I say! What do you guys think?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

30-Day No Buy Challenge

Tomorrow we are officially starting our 30-Day No Buy Challenge. I read about this concept in the Reader's Digest in an article by a man who came out of Target one time having almost spent $300 on a whole bunch of stuff he really didn't need (his list: "packs of underwear, bath mats, barbecue gear, Spider-Man toys, kitchen gadgets, and a plug-in thingy guaranteed to kill mosquitos." He abandoned the cart and left). This guy went home and drew up rules for his family to follow as they resolved to not buy anything for 30 days. They could only buy absolute essentials, capped their grocery budget to allow for the basics like fresh fruit and milk, paid their mortgage, utilities, and tuition for their son's preschool, and said no to everything else. Even gasoline.

For a month they had to get creative. They biked around town, went to Costco to eat free samples for fun (his fun, not mine), borrowed DVDs from the library, made french toast from stale bread, fixed their own clogged shower drain with Dawn and boiling water, and ate up what was in the cupboard. In the end, they saved over $2000 and learned some valuable lessons about life and money!

When I read this story, I was inspired. I like this idea. Even though I consider us to be a very frugal family, I still have a mindset that immediately jumps to purchasing things--both needs and merely wants. My cupboards are full, but I always think they're empty. I have little bottles of travel-size shampoo, yet I immediately buy a brand-new big bottle when my current favorite runs out. We spend $10 a month on a DVD rental subscription when they are free at the library and Redbox sends out free coupon codes every Monday. The list could go on and on, and it's because of some of these habits that several of our categories in our budget are far into the red.

So we're going to do it. No trips to Target, no Blockbuster subscription. I plan on limiting us to half of our usual food budget for those absolute essentials, but otherwise, I'm going through the cupboard to see what I can find. I just found a recipe for lentils and rice on, so that's one meal for next week. And that box of cherry jello that has been sitting on the top shelf for eons doesn't have much longer to sit there. With Halloween coming up I usually budget $25 for costumes and candy, but we already have 3 costumes figured out, so that just leaves Jay's, which reminds me...does anyone have a good costume for an 8-year-old that we could borrow? I hope to eek out about $800 out of the month and catch up on those areas that are behind. Maybe even save a little, which isn't a bad idea these days!

So here we go! I'll post anything interesting that I learn along the way. If any of you want to join us in our experiment, it would be fun to trade ideas and figure out how much we save in the end. I'm kind of'll be kind of a game to figure out how cheap we can be, and a good lesson for our kids to not be able to get the little things they've come to expect, like donuts and Papa Murphy's on Saturdays. Maybe I won't be singing the same tune in a few weeks, but oh well. You can do anything for 30 days.

p.s. I'll be putting thrifty living websites over in the sidebar under "No Buy Challenge Links". Check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Karin's Faith

My little girl became a follower of Jesus today. We've been talking about her Cubbies verses lately. Verses like Romans 3:23, "all have sinned," and Romans 5:8, "while we were sinners, Christ died for us." Yesterday as we reviewed them I told Karin what it meant that Jesus had saved us. I asked her if she's ever sinned. She said yes--that she'd kicked her brother. I told her that the punishment for her sin is Hell. But then I explained that Jesus came and died so she could go to Heaven instead--if she said she was sorry for her sins and asked him to be her Savior. If she ever wanted to do so that I said I would help her. Then I waited to see if she would take the opportunity... but she went on to something else.

But then today she and I were just sitting down for our gourmet lunch of chicken nuggets when out of the blue she stated, "we should pray and ask God about being the Savior" (or something along those lines). Once I figured out what she meant we talked it through a bit more and she repeated after me in a 4-year-old's prayer of confession and faith. So simple. So beautiful. It was like seeing a lightbulb go on in her heart and a new life born.

As I said after Ethan prayed to receive Christ, I know this is not the end, but only the beginning. Her tender faith must be nurtured, prayed for, and encouraged in order for it to grow and be strong and sure. Salvation is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is a life-consuming reality. But today was Karin's first step of the journey, and by God's grace, I believe I will be spending eternity alongside my sweet daughter--and now, my sister in Christ.

All thanks and praise to our gracious God who grants the miracle of faith to even the smallest of children!

"...I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." --Luke 15:10

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Live By Technology, Die By Technology

I hate computers today. For the second time in as many weeks I have completely WASTED two hours of my day in a failed attempt at burning my digital videos from my computer onto a DVD. I've been using the Nero software my dad put on my computer, and it seems to have a glitch that I don't know how to get around and which requires that I start over from scratch each time. Shouldn't be that big a deal, but my machine is so full that I can't even load my pics from our Black Hills trip on there until I clear off some videos. ARRRGHHH!

Sorry to make you listen to my venting. Anybody know of a better program to use? Or a sledgehammer I can borrow?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oct. 1, 1943

Sixty-five years ago today my grandparents were married (their wedding photo is below). Oh, I miss them so much. Hopefully tonight they are celebrating together in style!

I love you so much, PaPa and Gramma. Thank-you for your legacy of committed love for one another and your love for your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. We will never ever forget you.

Love forever, your Jenzo

Friday, September 19, 2008

Don't You Hate It When This Happens?

When we can't get a sitter to watch the kids and/or have no money to go out anyway, we sit and watch Youtube pranks. Brian is mental for them. This one's good for a laugh. Oh, and watch for Erin D's cameo role.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So This is What It's Like to Breathe

Many of you have been asking how our transition to public school life has been going... thank you for your love and concern! I have felt so supported and encouraged by your comments. Here is the update...

Day 7 of school and we are doing great! The boys really like their teachers, are doing good work, and think hot lunch is awesome. We are getting into the routine of this new life: walk to school, get things done, lunch, rest, pick up boys, snack, dinner, homework, bed. There is starting to form a rhythm to our lives.

But most of all, I notice that I am breathing again.

How to describe the shift? I am not racing around, hurried, bitter, and crabby, trying to do more in a slot of time than is physically possible; instead, I slip upstairs to fold laundry in peace as the girls watch Ernie and Bert. Every minute is not accounted for; there is margin. A huge burden of responsibility has been lifted from my shoulders, and the lightness is wonderful. At the end of the day I can actually go to bed--early--because I am not so harried and desperate for a few minutes of downtime and dreading the start of the next day. I have time to read my Bible. Yesterday we were able to go scoop up little Gumpy (Kara's Nathan) while she laid at home pregnant with the stomach flu and take him to the park with us; we were able to help a friend--something I have had no time to do for awhile. Karin revels in how she gets to be the only one at home helping Mom make snack or dessert for later, and she happily sits and licks the mixing spoon. And I look forward to seeing my sweet boys' faces when they come home from school; we spend the rest of the evening asking questions of each other, anxious to hear about one another's day.

I have an inner calmness and at the same time a giddy excitement for this newfound existence. Truly a marked difference from just two months ago!

Still there remains for me a sadness, though. I miss homeschooling--the good parts. When the boys can't remember details of their experiences or what they learned at school, I am sad. I want to talk with them about those things, carry on the discussion of historical events and scientific truths. I want to point to other things that we see and remind them how they relate to what they are learning, but I am limited by the separation between us and the fact that I am not the one teaching them during the day. This is one of the great advantages of homeschooling: the opportunity to turn all of life into learning, the ability to weave it all together, and I dearly miss it. Having seen the beauty of homeschooling, I feel a bit cursed. Though I am overwhelmingly grateful for the reprieve and the chance to be sane again, I will always know what I am missing while they are in public school.

But at the same time, I can choose to focus on what our family has gained and my renewed joy and enthusiasm for life. I see so much good and healthy fruit from this change, and at times I wondered why I pushed myself so hard for so long. Why do we sometimes think that we have to do it all?

If I sound like I'm a bit torn, I am. But even when the doubts and sadness surface, when I question whether this was the right way to go, I always end up answering yes. I know this is the way God has sent us this year, so I will thank Him and trust Him for all of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Almost 4

I love 4-year-olds, and my Totty is going to be one soon. When 4-year-olds speak they are the perfect blend of baby-cuteness and big-kid-sophistication.

Like this afternoon, when I was getting Karin down for her rest time, but before leaving I gave her one last tickle. And she said, "Mom, don't. I have enough tickling in my life."

Well then.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Not-So-Fresh and Natural

Seems I need to put pants on my babers when I lay her down to bed at night from now on. That's because this morning she decided to remove her diaper before her parental units were awake...and then pee on her bed.

Lesson learned.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Big Changes

Big changes at the Crim house. And before any of you baby-crazy people out there go nuts, NO, I AM NOT PREGNANT! I'll leave that job up to Prego Prestrud. Four is as far as this party barge goes, and no farther, Lord willing.

But a mighty shift in our family has occured, and those of you who know us well will understand how mighty it is... the boys are going to public school.

What a journey this has been! For three years now I have schooled sweet Jay, and last year both he and Ethan, and all the while I have become more convinced that it was what we needed to do. Homeschooling is wonderful--the time with your child, the ability to see the lightbulbs go on inside their little minds, the ample opportunities to process life and faith...the list could go on and on. I have been one of homeschooling's loudest cheerleaders, and will continue to be. Though it is not God's plan for everyone, I believe in it. And by God's grace, we will come back to it.

But when a mom goes so far into her duties of mothering, homemaking, and schooling that she begins to spiral downward into depression, anger, and hopelessness; when her thoughts begin to turn dark and she wonders if her children would be better off without her; when she realizes that most of her interaction with her children is tainted by irritation, anger, resentment, scolding, and anxiety; and when the thought of starting school in one month causes her to crawl into the fetal may be time to lay the mantle of homeschooling down for a season.

Since May I have been begging God to show up in this department. Knowing that I was overwhelmed in every sense of the word, exhausted and beyond tapped out, I cried out for Him to lead, to restore me. But for 2 months now I have felt no answer--no bolt of renewed energy or determination and no release to give up yet. And as the weeks have ticked by, aware that my depression was not lifting despite the break from school, I began to become more concerned that indeed there would be no great change in the time needed. In fact, the darkness was just growing deeper.

Then came Wednesday, when God released me into a new path. The night before I had sat on my bed, crying, journaling, and begging God to deliver me from my melancholy. I now knew that something big needed to change, but asked God to show me what. The next day I ended up going over to a friend's house who, in the course of our time together, expressed to me her concern over my current state and my stubborn refusal to let go of homeschooling. She warned me not to let it become bondage and had many other good things to say. As I pondered her words and my response in my heart, I came to a point of clarity I have long been missing. The change I needed was to let my children go to school and take a time to rest. And what was before a completely unthinkable idea, suddenly was a sweet answer from the One who never forgets to answer--in His time. I knew I was free to follow a different path, and with His blessing.

Brian and I spoke the next night. It was not an easy decision for him, either, and ultimately, it was his to make. As the leader of our home, I must follow him, but I did my best to clearly explain to him my desperation and the depth of my certainty that this was the only option. He did not give his assent immediately, but over the course of the next two days and several conversations, he slowly came to agree and gave me the green light to move forward.

An enormous weight has been lifted from my chest. Along with all the many emotions I am currently feeling--sadness, excitement, uncertainty, and some fear--is the predominant feeling of relief. A new life has been given to me, and a new life is just beginning for our family--an adventure we have not yet experienced. It is hard to express my sense of relief--it is too great for words. I have hope again!

The boys took it like I thought they would: Jay cried and Ethan cried because Jay cried and then said he was excited for recess. My tender-hearted Jay expressed his sadness at not being home, and his shock at the sudden change. But by tonight at bedtime, after listening to our neighbor Lucy (who also attends Jay and Ethan's new school) about all of the fun, interesting, and delicious things that await them this year, they were both expressing their enthusiasm. Ethan wants to start tomorrow. It will be an adjustment, I know. But we will go through it together...because this Momma--as worn out as she is right now--wants nothing more than to walk this road together with her beautiful children, trusting in our gracious God to care for them when she is not by their side. I am scared about this. It is all so new for me. Will He remind them of what is right when they are tempted to choose the wrong? Will He encourage their hearts and hold them close when they are confused or scared? Of course we will do these things when they come home to us in the afternoon, but it is difficult to let them go where I will not be all the time.

So, that's it for now. I'm sure there will be more. I know our decision may be disappointing to some of you. I pray it will not be discouraging. But for those of you out there who love us and feel led, could I ask you to please give me a call sometime over the next few weeks as we settle into this new remind me that God is big, that He will be with my precious boys, and that I can trust His hand? I would so appreciate the encouragement and support of my friends during this tough--and wonderful--transition.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, July 18, 2008

False Alarms

The sirens went off here on Tuesday three times. No, there were no planes bombing the metropolis of Hudson; no, there were no tornadoes, or even wall clouds. Actually, there was blue sky peaking out from the clouds, and not one drop of rain fell all day.

When I was a kid, if the siren sounded you threw your body headlong for the basement because there was a tornado on top of your house. Now when they go off I find myself tuning them out, knowing that most likely it is only a severe thunderstorm, somewhere in St. Croix county. Thus the three sirens on Tuesday: all were storms up near the northern border of our expansive county, near New Richmond.

When this really irks me is at 3am when the ear-splitting ghoulish wail wakes up parents and children alike, sending the house into fear-induced insomnia. For a thunderstorm in New Richmond!

Beyond the annoyance of the excessive alarms is my fear that someday, when it really matters (ie when a tornado really is on top of my or your house), we might not listen. As in the story about the boy who cried "wolf!", will we just assume all is well when it really isn't, because we have heard the false cry of danger too many times? Hope not. But I keep thinking that we should go back to the "old days" when the siren sounded for actual tornado warnings, not just dime-sized hail and a little wind, and definitely not for a town that's 20 miles away!

I feel like Andy Rooney.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Into Everything


My Cait turned 18 months old today. Officially, this means she is no longer a baby. Whatever...she's my last, so therefore she will always be my baby.

Being 18 months she is also into EVERYTHING! I'd spell that with periods after every letter, but then it would be really long. Anyways, by everything I mean: the silverware drawer, the kleenex box, the computer keyboard (by the way, can anyone tell me how to get my start menu back to the bottom?), whatever is on a counter and therefore not for her to play with, leftover cups of water, pop cans, the garbage can, the drawer in the hutch that none of my other kids ever got into, the paperclip container in the drawer in the hutch that none of my other kids ever got into, the cabinet with lots of glass stuff in it, the sink, and my personal favorite...the toilet.

This little girl loves to play with water. So, if I'm not careful or if someone else in the house is not careful (and there is always someone in the house who is not careful) and the door to the bathroom is left open...we have a problem. For awhile it was enough to just keep the lid shut, but no longer; figured that one out. Now she just makes a bee line to the toilet, lifts the lid, and begins to swish away. Sometimes it's after someone flushed, sometimes not. Gross, right? Well, just wait, it gets better.

The day after we arrived at the lakehouse in Indiana I was in the upstairs bathroom getting ready. Cait was in there with me and I think another of my chitlins too, because I was distracted for a femtosecond. When I looked up I saw her next to the toilet, already mid lift-and-splash. I started moving towards her, and though I was mere feet away, I could not reach her before that little pigtailed vixen, knowing the party was over, got in one last quick little splash and then hurried to LICK HER TOILET WATER-COVERED HAND! And no, the previous user had not flushed. AAAACCKKKK! I kid you not; you couldn't make this stuff up.

So, there you have it. My eldest son ate Holsteen's dog's poop, my secondborn ate his own, and my baby is a pee-licker. How's that for mommy honesty?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

5K #4

Got up this morning to run the Syracuse 5K with my sister-in-law Cheryl. My heart was just not in it, though, and as we started up the first hill, I considered dropping out. Running lately has been a mild form of torture for me...something akin to 30 minutes of labor. Every time I start making some progress, I get sick with some virus and lose a week or more of training. So, with only 3 full 3.3 mi. practice runs before the race, I wasn't exactly in great form.

Not only that, but last night I was awakened at 4am by a little girl who couldn't find her sleeping bag and a little boy who also had an issue. The latter took quite a bit of time to remedy, so by the time I was back in bed, I couldn't quite get back to sleep very well. Result: one groggy chica this morning!

After the first mile, though, things started to get easier. Cheryl was way out ahead of me, so I had to talk to other people. That helped and I slogged ahead, reminding myself of parts of Heb. 12:1-3 as I went...

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and run with perserverance the race marked out for us...

Perserverance. That's what it was all about this morning. Just keep going. Seems like that defines my life these days as well. So many good analogies in running!

Things got easier as I went, and pretty soon I was rounding the final corner. Then I heard my kids yelling for me and jumping up and down, and I sprinted for the line. My goal was just to finish today, but I ended up shaving over a minute off my time from last year. Still not as fast as my first race when Jack-rabbit Vonda just about made me puke from our competitive little run together! But respectable, at least.

All in all, it was fun to run and a good feeling to finish another race. Cheryl finished a full minute-plus before me, with her best time yet (yay!). And I've been reminded once again of the need to just put one foot in front of the other and run with perserverance.

Anyone up for a 10K with me this Fall?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Heart's in India

I'm in Indiana-
-but I can't stop thinking about India.
Like a friend attending a birth,
Watching and waiting as the baby slowly comes.
She's almost here;
So near, the wait is almost over...

Monday, June 23, 2008

She Wants to Be Just Like Her...

The other day Totty and I were on the way home from somewhere, just her and me. I was daydreaming about something, so I didn't catch what she was saying until a few seconds later. But this is what I heard:

"I'm stawtin' to det haiw on my my Daddy. Pwetty soon I'll have lots of haiw on my legs and den I'll be just-like-my-Daddy."

My 100th post, by the way! Woot-woo!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Reading "The Funnies"

A couple of articles in this week's Hudson Star Observer caught my eye...

(Left) At first I thought this one was a joke, but then I read on and learned that it is simply scary beyond reason. Click on the article to read the highlighted line.

And this one's for you, Wade Prestrud...I'm glad you've found a new hobby!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going Raw

So, as I said before, we eat a lot of fruit. And we're getting back to eating smoothies in the morning in our attempt to eat a bit more healthily.

But that's not what this post is about. I couldn't resist Martha's idea for the title after all the raw-foods hub-bub from our last Latte. No--this story has nothing to do with juicing, but another sort of "raw".

First, a bit of background... Remember this past winter when Jay slipped on the mysterious patch of ice that had formed in the corner of our yard, next to the city's retaining wall? He and Karin had been playing on that ice when she began to slip, he jumped to save her, his face landed on a tree trunk, and his lips were torn apart at the corner. Five stitches and a thousand dollar ER visit. And where did that ice come from, anyway?

Jump forward to springtime. The snow has melted. The strange ice is gone. But now there is a shiny dark trail running up the hill from the spot the ice had once been. I walk up to try to figure this puzzle out, but come to no conclusions except that the slick looks disgustingly slimy.

Weeks later. A nasty smell wafts outside in the evening hours. "It must be those bags of leaves we left out all winter," I tell Brian. "No," he replies. "That smell is foul."

A few nights later. I am cleaning the garage last Wednesday evening as Brian is at STAND. All of a sudden, I hear the sound of trickling water. I decide to follow my ears and walk down the driveway toward the street, a sneaking suspicion culminating into dumbfounded revelation...the sound is coming from the place where the ice was which is where the slick is which is what is smelling so foul which IS BECAUSE THERE IS RAW SEWAGE FLOWING ONTO MY PROPERTY! "Nice," I mutter to myself as I turn to walk back to the garage.

Next morning. As I return from my run a truck pulls up from the city. I hadn't called the city yet...someone else must have smelled the odor. I inform the really nice man of the situation. He nods. Apparently, a sewer line runs down from the hill and was ruptured by tree roots. Thus the shiny, slimy, dark, smelly, line that once was frozen and led to my son's facial trauma.

Wonderful. My kids have been playing in our neighbors' pee and poo all winter.

It's all fixed now. The shiny blackness is turning into a dull grayness...Should have some lush growth along there this summer, I would imagine.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Crims Gone Fruity

Over the past couple of years we have been gradually making changes in how we eat in the Crim household, but I was amazed the other night when I realized that we had consumed 26 lbs. of fruit in ONE WEEK! Yep, you read that right... 6+ lbs. of apples, 10 lbs. of oranges, 3 lbs. of pears, 2 lbs. of grapes, and 5 lbs. of bananas!

Not bad, eh?


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Witnessing, Ethan Syle?

This morning I was getting the kids and myself ready to go on a fieldtrip at the nature center. As I finished fixing the girls' hair Karin remarked, "there! Now we look perfect!" Ethan picked up on this catch-word and quickly rebuffed her: "Karin, you are not perfect. No one is." I shot him a quick "quit trying to start something!" look and bounded up the stairs to brush my teeth.

What I heard next cracked me up. Not to be silenced, Totty began prancing around the room singing/boasting/taunting, "I am perfect. I am perfect," which drove Ethan bonkers. As she continued to sing, he continued to argue the point, until finally he launched his grand rebuke...

"Karin, if you want to go to Heaven with us, you have to say that you're not perfect, cuz if you say that you're perfect, you're going to go to Hell and that would be scary." I winced, then laughed.

So...what to work on first...? Karin's lack of humility or Ethan's lack of tact?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Longing for Home

In my earlier years I never longed for Christ's return. Actually, just the opposite. But as I grow older and experience more of life, with all it's sorrows, disappointments, and pain, and as I experience more of Christ, with all His love, fulfillment, and joy, I find myself yearning more and more deeply for my true home.

Not too long ago, I was reading one of the final chapters of Desiring God by John Piper. He ended his chapter on "The Rebirth of Creation" with a poem he wrote years ago, vividly portraying a glimpse of the new earth.

As I read this poem, I had a pretty surreal experience. It was as if I was there, stepping foot on the new earth, watching the victorious Jesus, taking my first breaths of eternity. And for a moment, this world that we live in now was only a distant memory, like a dream. All of its years of burdens, grief, and waiting, seemed so small and far away, swallowed up in "the life that is truly life" (I Tim. 6:19). I was home.

Porter's sermon this morning reminded me of that poem and my experience. He quoted 2Pet. 3:8-10 to remind us that God is not slow in His return, that His perspective on time is different than ours, that He has a plan--the salvation of more brothers and sisters--that He is bringing about and waiting to see completed, that the Day WILL COME--just as the creation of the universe and the destruction of the earth by flood came so long ago.

To me all of this was deeply comforting. Oh, when will our rest come? When will our faith be made sight? When will everything be made right and our hearts finally purified of every sin? I long for this! Come, Lord Jesus!

Today's sermon was also motivating. There are more people whom I want to spend eternity with...neighbors, family, Hudsonites, strangers... "You have today," Porter said, "but you may not have tomorrow." Lord, may my eyes not be half-closed as I wait for your return. Help me use today to reach out and point others to You!

Piper's poem is below. May the Lord use it to speak to your heart as well.


As far as any eye could see
There was no green. But every tree
Was cinder black, and all the ground
Was gray with ash. The only sound
Was arid wind, like spirits' ghosts,
Gasping for some living hosts
In which to dwell, as in the days
Of evil men, before the blaze
Of unimaginable fire
Had made the earth a flaming pyre
For God's omnipotent display
Of holy rage.

The dreadful Day
Of God had come. The moon had turned
To blood. The sun no longer burned
Above, but, blazing with desire,
Had flowed into a lake of fire.
The seas and oceans were no more,
And in their place a desert floor
Fell deep to meet the brazen skies,
And silence conquered distant cries.

The Lord stood still above the air.
His mighty arms were moist and bare.
They hung, as weary, by his side,
Until the human blood had dried
Upon the sword in his right hand.
He stared across the blackened land
That he had made, and where he died.
His lips were tight, and deep inside,
The mystery of sovereign will
Gave leave, and it began to spill
In tears upon his bloody sword
For one last time.

And then the Lord
Wiped every tear away, and turned
To see his bride. Her heart had yearned
Four thousand years for this: His face
Shone like the sun, and every trace
Of wrath was gone. And in her bliss
She heard the Master say, "Watch this:
Come forth, all goodness from the ground,
Come forth, and let the earth redound
With joy."

And as he spoke, the throne
Of God came down to earth and shone
Like golden crystal full of light,
And banished, once for all, the night.
And from the throne a stream began
To flow and laugh, and as it ran,
It made a river and a lake,
And everywhere it flowed a wake
Of grass broke on the banks and spread
Like resurrection from the dead.

And in the twinkling of an eye
The saints descended from the sky.

And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream--
Almost--and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere
I turned I saw a wonder there.
A big man running on the lawn:
That's old John Younge with both legs on.
The blind can see a bird on wing,
The dumb can lift their voice and sing.
The diabetic eats at will,
The coronary runs uphill.
The lame can walk, the deaf can hear,
The cancer-ridden bone is clear.
Arthritic joints are lithe and free,
And every pain has ceased to be.
And every sorrow deep within,
And every trace of lingering sin
Is gone. And all that's left is joy,
And endless ages to employ
The mind and heart, and understand,
And love the sovereign Lord who planned
That it should take eternity
To lavish all his grace on me.

O, God of wonder, God of might,
Grant us some elevated sight,
Of endless days. And let us see
The joy of what is yet to be.
And may your future make us free,
And guard us by the hope that we,
Through grace on lands that you restore,
Are justified for evermore.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Conscientious Honesty

Saturday being movie and pizza night at the Crims', Ethan became jealous of my sitting with Jay and Karin on the big chair, so I told him I would join him shortly. A few minutes later, I walked over and laid down on the couch next to my sweet E-man, pulled a blanket over us, and rested my arm behind him and my hand on his cute little keyster. A second later came this sweet warning: "Mom," he said, "I sometimes need to fart back there."

What a gentleman!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eight is Great!

My boy is eight years old today. We did present time right away this morning and watched as his eyes lit up at his shiny new bike. He requested waffles for breakfast and soon after was allowed to try his new Transformers PS2 game that his grampa got him. After lunch his best buddy called and invited him over to play. Tonight we'll go to Culver's for dinner (his choice again) and then head to the Omni Theater with his grandparents. I think it's a good day for him.

Sweet Jay, my firstborn, I am so glad you're mine. You are one cool kid. Active, smart, funny, soft-hearted. You are growing up a little bit everyday, learning how to handle life's ups-and-downs, and letting God's Spirit convict and teach you. Your faith is growing stronger, even as you bring up doubts and questions from time to time. I love how you play with baby Cait, how you sweetly listen to your great-Grandma, how you hug me and tell me I'm the best mom and Dad's the best dad. I am blessed and honored to be your Mom and have these years to walk with you and teach you as you grow, and I can't wait to see what God will do in you this next year. Thanks for being my guy. I love you!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kitty Comfort

It's been a month now since PaPa passed away, almost two since we learned of his leukemia. So these past 2 months have been pretty sad. But I have to tell you about one way that God has lavished his comfort on us...

We had wanted to get a pet for a long time, but never felt like we were at the right place to do so, due to pregnancy, finances, etc. But as Christmas approached I came up with the idea to lump together all of the kids' and my Christmas presents to each other and get a cat. I began to look for a kitty through various rescue organizations, but quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to wait until after Christmas so as not to make a hasty choice. We planned to buy all of the kitty paraphrenalia (litter box, food, water dish, etc.), wrap it all up, and tell the kids on Christmas day that we would be picking out a kitty soon.

A week before Christmas I went shopping with my dear Anushka (cat-lover extraordinaire) at PetSmart. We spent a long time gathering together all we would need for our future feline friend and were just going through the checkout line when the cashier asked if we had seen the kitties in the back. I figured it wouldn't hurt to check them out and get some pointers from Anne on what to look for, so we walked back to the room where the adoptees were.

Now, you have to understand that I was looking for a kitten, around 4 months old or so. So when the clerk pulled out of the cage the biggest cat I had ever seen, I wasn't exactly interested. "We just can't figure out why this guy's been here so long," she said, "because he is such a sweetheart!" To indulge her I took the cat in my arms and he immediately began kneading his paws into my coat. I could tell Anne was smitten right away, and she carefully started making comments about how wonderful this "Tommy" was, and about how it might be good to have a little older cat around my kids. He was very frisky, but extremely loving, and as soon as we started scratching him he rolled over onto his back to let us rub his tummy. We even did a little pull-test on his fur to see how he would react, and he actually started to purr!

Then I knew why this cat had been waiting to be adopted for so long...God had saved him for US! I asked Annie for her phone and called Brian. "Can I bring home a cat?" I asked. He said "I trust you," and Tommy came home with me.

That was over 7 weeks ago, and we are still pretty sure that we have the coolest cat in the world. We are also fairly certain that he is part dog. He runs after tinfoil balls, kicks them around with great skill, skids across the hardwood floor when he reaches one, picks it up in his mouth, drops it and starts again. He comes when you say "kitty kitty kitty", and follows us around the house. He is the ultimate "people" cat, and loves to be in whatever room we are. Besides all that he is beautiful--some kind of a mix of Siamese and Tabby, I think. He has long cream-colored fur, with orange ears, so that Jay thought he looked like a marshmallow that has just started to turn brown on the edges. "Tommy" seemed too plain for such a remarkable cat, so we finally all settled on "Caspian", which sounded more regal.

I had forgotten what magic there is in having a pet. Caspian has brought such a warmth and joy to our everyday routine. The kids are wild about him; even baby Cait comes over and bonks her little head against his to show him she loves him. We sit around and laugh at his crazy antics and love to rub his soft furriness.

Caspian has also shown an amazing trait of kitty-compassion...several times we have seen him come over to one of the girls who were crying at the time, seemingly to check them out and make sure they are ok. Another time I sat on the couch crying, and Caspian jumped up, put his furry little paws on my chest, and brought his face up to mine. And the night of my PaPa's visitation, as I sat sobbing on the floor, overwhelmed by my grief and our trip the next day on the youth ski trip, sweet Caspian got off of his comfy perch and came over to lay next to me, as if to say, "you're not alone".

Amidst all the grief of losing my PaPa, Caspian has brought hilarious joy and quiet comfort. I know that he is God's purposeful means of grace and love to us during this tough time.

Thank you, Lord!

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Caulk" Me Crazy

Have you ever gotten the spontaneous idea to start something and 60 seconds into it you wondered what the heck you were thinking?

Well, I was going to clean my tub and shower today (in preparation for Jamie and Joey staying with our kids this weekend--I mean, I can't have them seeing how we really live around here!). And the next thing I knew, all of the old caulk was pulled off of the entire tub. How'd that happen?!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


We're home again after our weekend in Michigan with the high-schoolers. It was exhausting and good to be away, all at the same time. I had some goofy time with the teen girls and Jay and Ethan learned to ski. God's presence and grace were with us.

The grief was waiting here for me to return, however, and this morning I am filled with sadness and loneliness. As we got home last night I realized it was at the same time last week that I went to see PaPa for the last time, and as I laid in bed I thought of our last moments together. The dull ache of mourning.

The service on Friday was beautiful. We sat in the same room my PaPa had worshipped every week for over 50 years. My cousin read the scriptures, one of which was the same as Brian had read to PaPa the week before he died (from Rev. 21). Brian said the prayer, I sang--my final gift to PaPa, and my Mom spoke touching words about Gramma and PaPa's love for each other and his devotion to her. It was, I think, the first Catholic service I have ever seen beauty in. It seems the Lord has softened my perspective enough to allow me to see the points of commonality between us, and so as the priest prayed "accept Tom into your kingdom, O Lord, for he was trusting in Christ as his Savior" I shouted a silent "yes!" in agreement.

We left the church in the frigid cold and drove to Fort Snelling. The boys' grief at first was quickly quelled by their delight and fascination with the two motorcycle funeral escort officers. I told them their PaPa had once done the same job, and so we watched with respect as these men raced ahead of our little procession to block intersections and on-ramps, placing themselves in harm's way so we could go by in peace. Once again I was reminded of my PaPa's honor that he would do such a job, and we laughed, knowing that he must have enjoyed speeding around on his cycle.

I will always remember Fort Snelling that morning. The 21-gun salute, the sad and beautiful song of the bugle playing "Taps", the tri-folded flag given to my mom "on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation". Again, the honor was palpable. The cold was bitter and the service kept short. I smiled, knowing PaPa would have ordered us back into the warmth of our cars so we wouldn't freeze our a____es off. As we all took a flower from the arrangement on top of the casket and hurried to our cars, my youngest cousin, Tony, hung by the casket, unable to walk away from the man who walked with him and councelled him for years. I hugged him and told him PaPa would want him to live his life, and live it well. Then, together, we walked away.

So now life continues, somehow emptier and richer at the same time. I still can't believe he's gone, but in a strange way I feel like he's not. His love for us was so strong, his mind so keen, his humor so alive...somehow I can sense the continuation of him, although as the days go by this sense is sadly fading. These next years without him seem so long, but I know they will be only a breath. Then, as I walk through The Gate into the presence of my Savior, I look forward to the one I hope will be there to welcome me PaPa.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Finally Home

I called Mom this morning to ask how last night at PaPa's had gone, and she told me, "not as I had expected. He passed away last night." PaPa lived his life the way he wanted and pushed it to the very end. He only had one really bad day and then he slipped away in his sleep before the sun came up this morning.

We are holding onto hope that PaPa's trust was in Christ and that he is finally at home with the Lord. Tonight we read some passages to the kids about grieving with hope and how much better it is to be with Jesus. Until then they had been having a very difficult time (especially Jay). But since reading together their grief has been lightened. Still, going through our own grief and dealing with and loving them through theirs has exhausted us. I'm thankful they are in bed now.

Please accept my deep gratitude for all of your words of comfort, love, admirations of my PaPa, and especially your prayers. I have felt connected and supported through all of this because of you all, and it has really helped me to be able to post updates as well as write about my thoughts and emotions through this process. Thank-you so much.

The service will be on Friday and then Brian and I will be heading to Michigan with the high-schoolers and our own 4. We are trusting that the Lord's strength will be with us and that He will use this time that we have together and with the teens. If you would, please pray that we will shine with the light of Jesus as we spend time with our extended family this week, many of whom are deeply hurting right now. Also that we might even have opportunities and strength to share with them about Christ.

God is so good. He gives and He takes away. How blessed I have been to be the grand-daughter of Thomas Arthur Jackson... my PaPa.

He Loves Me

I went over tonight to see PaPa and was shocked to see how much he had declined. Just yesterday he went to church and to see Gramma at the nursing home. Tonight he is in a hospital bed (brought into his bedroom by hospice), hooked up to oxygen, unable to keep even 2 bites of soup down, on morphine, with a tiny frail voice. When I got there he said, "I really went in the dumper today." He was only awake for a few minutes after I arrived, but he told me he loved me, I told him I loved him, and he told me to say hi to my boys. "Be at peace, PaPa. Rest," I said, to which he replied, "I am". It was so hard to leave.

I learned more about him tonight as my mom, step-dad, uncle, and three cousins sat around looking at old photos and talking. My PaPa once held the door open for John F. Kennedy, and hung out with one of his former Secret Servicemen. As an employee of Honeywell and the director of their transportation, he worked on projects for the Air Force and NASA and subsequently met several of the Apollo mission astronauts. And he loves the TV series "24" (Brian and my favorite show).

Why is it that we only find out how amazing someone is when they are leaving? Why didn't I pay more attention to all of his stories? Why didn't I spend more time with him as I grew older? How did I miss the fact that he is so remarkable?

Brian will be going over tomorrow morning, and beyond that, I don't know. I don't even know if he will make it that long.

But I do know he loves me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Final Days

We've had a little time to breathe the past couple of days, but I think this is it. My mom just called to say that PaPa has taken a turn for the worse. He is very weak, has a terrible headache, digestive difficulties, is short of breath, and can barely walk. He now needs 24 hour care. My mom has been with several people at the end of their lives and she says she doesn't think he'll make it more than 3 days.

On top of this, my grandma needs to be moved ASAP to the Alzheimer's floor of the nursing home. She has been wandering into other people's rooms and having accidents on their furniture. The "Fourth Floor" is not a pretty place to be, being filled with residents who are all end-stage Alzheimer's sufferers. We were hoping she could stay a while longer on the normal floor.

A few bright spots: PaPa went to see Grandma yesterday and had a good visit with her--probably his last. He is happy that she is in a good place and knows that we will take care of her. Also, my brother came home from England and was able to see him over the weekend. Lastly, when the hospice nurse asked PaPa if he wanted the chaplain to come over to talk with, PaPa answered, "I kind of liked talking with Brian". How neat is that? Hopefully we'll be able to make that happen again.

So, I thought I would be able to get out tonight for some "me" time, but I think I'll be heading over to see PaPa. We would very much still appreciate your prayers: for PaPa as he heads into his final days, that he would be further drawn to the Lord and find total peace in Him; that my family will be able to juggle the needs of caring for PaPa 24/7 and moving my Grandma to a different floor; for Brian and I, as we decide whether to take our boys to say that a good idea?; and for us as we are leaving on Friday (with all four kids!) for a ski retreat with the high-school group in the U.P. of Michigan...this timing could get very bad.

I feel the weight of the darkness pressing down again, like I did at first. I don't want to head back into this grief, but I have no choice. Thanks be to God, whose love is deeper than any sadness. I know He will meet me there.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Baby Girl

Just about one year ago exactly my precious Caitlyn took her first breath after a few hours of easy labor, a few minutes of hard labor, one crazy ride to the hospital, and 45 minutes of really-not-fun-pushing. I was amazed and thrilled that God had given me another girl. Our bond was instant and strong.

To say that this year has gone by quickly would be an understatement; it has been the fastest year of my life. And, as a deeply sentimental person, I shed some tears last night as I contemplated my last baby's farewell to her first year. But I promised myself in the hospital not to miss out on her life by dwelling in sadness, trying in vain to keep her from growing up. I decided then and there to celebrate her life and enjoy her for who she is everyday, and that's what I'm going to do today.

Who is Cait? She is a bright, lively, affectionate little girl who loves to snuggle with her mommy and daddy. She can often be seen touching her forehead to someone else's whom she loves-- her big sister or brothers or even our new kitty. She crawls and babbles, rolls a ball back and forth with a willing playmate, loves pears and blueberries, signs "all done" when she's finished, and hates wearing her winter coat with a passion. She is God's precious gift to me, the child whom we had debated whether to try for and for whom I prayed earnestly when Brian wasn't sure he wanted to go for #4. Pure blessing from a good and boundlessly loving God, she is and always will be, my baby.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Where He Stands

Brian spent several hours with PaPa today. The first was spent listening to a lengthy rendition of PaPa's memories and looking for a good point to ask about his faith. As they sat and ate lunch together, the topic finally did come about. Brian did a lot of listening and asked lots of questions, seeking mostly to understand and clarify how my grampa sees things, rather than sermonize and "set him straight". Through their discussion, Brian says he became "more encouraged" that PaPa has a simple faith in Christ. PaPa spoke of changes he had made in his life because he realized that he was not "honoring God" (PaPa's words) and his speech had many references to the daily place of God in his life. He did mention that he hoped he hadn't done anything too bad to not go to Heaven, to which Brian questioned him on whether anyone could be good enough. PaPa knew no one could. Brian kept restating the simple truths of the gospel throughout their conversation, and said that PaPa seemed to "get it", even if rather simply. PaPa also said he is very much at peace with his impending death and that he is ready. The only real question he asked of Brian was "what comes next?"...he said his priest never talks about what the afterlife will be like. So Brian read Revelation 21 to him and told him about Heaven and the New Earth and how we won't just be flying around with wings and harps but will probably live lives somewhat resembling our lives on Earth. Throughout the conversation Brian asked several times, "are you trusting in Christ and his death on the cross?" to which PaPa answered, "of course I am."

I am encouraged by most of this. It's not the "home run" that all of us have been hoping and praying for, with a clear-cut answer to whether PaPa is trusting solely in Christ and not in his own goodness or religiosity. And yet there seems to be evidence of fruit in his life (the conviction to change his God-dishonoring ways) and he professes faith in the cross of Christ. In my staunchly Protestant theological mindset, hearing him mention his hope that he hasn't done anything too bad to lose Heaven freaks me out. Is there still the chance that he is putting his hope in his own works? It seems there is. But I wonder if there is more common ground between us Protestants and Catholics than I care to admit...could it be that sometimes we are talking about the same thing in a different language and not realizing it? Brian reminded me of how Pastor Gregg used to say that when he gets to Heaven he'll be surprised by three things: 1) the people whom he thought would be there and aren't, 2) the people whom he didn't think would be there and are, and 3) the fact that he himself made it there--only by the grace of God, of course!

Thank you all for your prayers for my sweet PaPa. I will continue to hope and pray that our coming goodbye will not be the end, but that the Lord will use every minute of PaPa's time left on earth to drive him closer to Him. My God is a God who saves. May His powerful and sovereign grace be real and effectual in my PaPa's heart for the glory of His Name!

An Opportunity

Brian called PaPa this morning and said that he was available to come over today if he wanted to talk with him. PaPa said that would be fine, so B is headed over right now (10:30am Thursday) to see him. Please pray that the Spirit would fill Brian and give him discernment into where PaPa is at with the Lord. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

PaPa Update #2

A lot has happened in these past couple of weeks. We moved Gramma into Presbyterian Homes, Arden Hills, two days after Christmas. It was a gut-wrenching day seeing my PaPa break down as he watched his wife of 65 years walk out the door, and holding my sweet Gramma as she cried and pled to go home after we told her she would be staying at the nursing home. I am glad that day is over, but I am so glad that I could be there to help with the transition for both. PaPa initially was having a very difficult time, feeling guilty that he couldn't care for Gramma anymore. We have told him over and over that he is taking care of her--just in a different way than before. Since that first day, Gramma has done very well in the nursing home. She is friendly (not even one report of combativeness, praise God!) and does not cry when we leave. We are thankful that the Lord has provided such an excellent place for her to be.

Gramma and I at Pres. Homes before we broke the news to her.

PaPa is still fighting, but it won't be long now. His platelet level is now at 7,000. Normal is at least 140,000, and anytime someone's level goes below 20,000 they are at risk for spontaneous bleeding. This could mean that he will just start to bleed and not stop until he's gone. It could happen at any time. My brother just flew home tonight from England where he's been studying abroad, so he can see PaPa and spend some time with him. We've had some good time with him recently...the boys and I went over last Friday and spent some time looking through a pictoral account of Guadalcanal (his first Pacific battle) with him. What an amazing time of hearing his stories and memories! I learned that my grandpa, standing in as a rear gunner, once had to jump out (there were no ejection seats back then!) of a plane at 5,000 feet after it was hit by a shell! I am hoping he will be able to make it to Cait's birthday party on Friday, but at this point it's day-by-day.

Please pray that we will be able to have the opportunity to talk with PaPa and learn more about his faith. Brian might be going over tomorrow for that reason, after we heard from my Mom that PaPa mentioned wanting to speak with him about faith matters. The Lord has comforted me that He does not need me or anyone else to work in my grandpa's heart, but if we've still got the chance, we're going to take it.

Thanks again for your love and concern. I am grateful that I can post this information on here and know that my fellow bloggers are praying. Thank-you, sweet family!

PaPa and me--Dec. 28