The Uncloudy Day

•July 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

An old song written a long time ago (Josiah K. Alwood 1880), that many have sung, but my favorite version is by Don Henley (The End of the Innocence). I think of this song because the sun shines less brightly since the passing of my mother, and now the passing of my Pastor this past week. The song speaks of how there are no storm clouds in Heaven and no sorrow or tears. I know there is a huge Welcome Home party going on there, but here it is shockingly still and quiet. We are left behind to carry on without them. The heart screams “I can’t do this! I’m not equipped!” but really we are. God knows that we will be okay, he knows our sorrow is temporary and one day our joy will be eternal. We shake our fist at him and cry “Why?” and he forgives us because he knows we are grieving.

I came to know Pastor Tim last summer (2010) when he came to our house to see if he could help. My family was struggling with several issues and our former church’s pastor completely failed us as well as several others who were in need of encouragement and prayer. We didn’t ask much, as we aren’t the type to whine – when we ask for prayer it’s serious business on our part. We were neglected, and when we realized that this and more, had happened to others, we decided to quit the church. It was at that point that someone told Pastor Tim of our situation and he came to see us.

He was truly a man after God’s own heart. He had a heart for the lost, and he preached the Word. He always reminded us to measure everything we heard from the pulpit against God’s Word so that we knew for ourselves if what we heard was right or wrong. “You can’t know it if you don’t read it, and you can’t tell somebody else about Him if you don’t know Him. It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.”

He baptized both of my boys in the short time that we have been members and I am so grateful that we have those special memories. I have an image of him being helped into rubber waders for baptisms: they covered his suit so it didn’t get wet because he always did baptisms first. I’ll never forget that. He once told us that if we just mouthed the word watermelon over and over, no one would know we didn’t know the words to the songs.

The best thing about Tim was you could talk to him about anything. He wasn’t like many other pastors who act like they grew up in a bubble and know nothing about life. If you used a line from a movie, he usually always knew what it was, and he quite often used them himself. One time when my husband was reading a passage of scripture in Sunday school class and had trouble with one of those old testament names, he quoted The Sandlot: “You’re killing me, Smalls!”  Pastor Tim was just flat cool. Everybody he met liked him, and kids adored him.

Why did God take him from us? I don’t know, and by the time that I am able to get that question fully answered, it won’t matter any more. What I do know is that while he is gone from here, he is present with the Lord, and I’ll see him again.  Did I need to see him in a casket in order to fully understand his death and get closure? Nope. Why are people so stuck on that? I can understand for non-believers that not accepting a death and thinking that they can truly communicate with their loved one at a grave would be cause for concern. But because I have a relationship with Christ, it’s different for me and other followers. I know where my mom, my brother, grandparents and Tim are. That body in a casket isn’t them anymore, and I know where they are. I don’t need closure. Yes I am grieving. I grieve for the time that we are separated, for the fact that I can’t ask advice or share a laugh. I was mad at first, too. I even questioned God as to how this could possibly be right. But I have joy in the sure and certain knowledge that I’ll see them again. That is why I didn’t need to make that ritualistic trek past the casket to say goodbye. He wasn’t there.

More Odd Behavior

•June 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of the men that I work for, as I have previously mentioned in an earlier post, behaves oddly. He suffers from Little Man Syndrome, or Napolean Complex, if you prefer. A more truthful statement would be that the people around him suffer from his Napolean Complex. While he doesn’t appear to be compelled to beat the crap out of people bigger than himself, he does enjoy bossing the “underlings” around whenever possible. He consistently repeats information we already have, reminds us to do things we have already done, and repeats any instructions given by the other boss-just in case we might have missed something. One thing that drives me insane is when someone calls and ask for directions to the funeral home or anything, really, and he gets on the line and interrupts so he can repeat everything I just said. He will also do this if he happens to be physically present when someone needs information. He does it to appear important and at the same time diminish me, or whoever else it happens to be-he does it to all of us, even the other director. That’s all pretty typical behavior for someone with a sense of inferiority. He exhibits other quirky behaviors, however, that we are still trying to figure out.

He makes regular forays down into the basement at the funeral home at times when he knows no one will see what he’s doing, usually just before he goes off on one of his many vacations. He’s done it several times while I’ve been the only other one present and he makes sure that I am busy with something else before he goes. We have an old service lift elevator that is operated by pulling a rope, so I can hear when he goes down there and when he comes back up. He then circles through the prep room and out through the garage to his car, then comes back in the same way.  I know because I’ve watched him. He thinks we don’t know he’s going down there, but occasionally when he has been caught coming back up, he comes up with an excuse like looking for paper towels (which aren’t down there, by the way). We think he has money hidden down there, or maybe booze-he smells suspiciously like strong mouthwash at times. We’ve tried looking down there, but there’s over a hundred years worth of junk to sift through and we haven’t found a thing yet. Whatever his secret is, it’s hidden somewhere in plain sight, but we’re just missing it somehow. We’ve even tried looking down low, since he’s not a tall man and up high for him would be eye-level for the rest of us. He does like to talk to himself, so maybe the secret is he goes down there to hold private conversations with himself. Either way, we’ve decided we need a nanny-cam down there to see what he’s up to. We might even find out what he talks to himself about. Usually we can’t tell what he’s saying, we just hear him muttering and see his arms waving around. Giving someone a small slice of his mind, no doubt.


The Queen’s Blade; A Great Read

•June 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m not a professional reviewer of books, of course, but I wanted to throw in my two cents on this series. The Queen’s Blade by T.C. Southwell is, in my humble opinion, a great story with lot’s of detail that keeps the reader fully engaged. I got the first book free on my Nook from Barnes and Noble and had to buy the rest immediately because I loved it and was absolutely hooked. I have not been disappointed at all. I am just starting book four, so I am not completely through the series of six books and two prequels, but what I have read so far has me addicted. Some series of books you just want to get to the end and get it over with already (Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time), and then there are others that you wish they would keep going. The Queen’s Blade is one that I wish wouldn’t end.

There are aspects of the story that are heartbreaking and I found myself bawling, especially in the second book, The Queen’s Blade II: Sacrifice, and again in book three, the Queen’s Blade III: Invisible Assassin. There is also humor and plenty of action and intrigue. The characters are well developed and engaging. They are imperfect and easy to identify with. I get so caught up in the characters and the story that I am distracted and irritable until I can get back to the book, and I continually wonder what will happen next as if events are unfolding while I am away. Because I am a closet-emotional and also addicted to these books, I am not getting a lot of sleep at night. I don’t want anyone to know that I cry while watching movies or reading books, so I have to read when everyone else is either gone or asleep. Mental, I know. Not that these books are emotionally draining, it’s just that there are moments, you know? My husband teases me mercilessly regarding such things, so it’s my process.

I have church tonight, and several other things I have to do, so I won’t get to start my nookbook until later, and the thought of the delay is making me cranky. I have read the reviews on B&N, and based on that information as well as my own opinion of the first three books,I feel confident in recommending the series. I just hope nothing happens at the end to ruin it for me. I like a happy ending, so if it ends like the movie Castaway did, then I might be a bit upset.

Becoming Our Parents

•June 7, 2011 • 1 Comment

Is it a scientific fact that we become our parents as we get older? I’ve heard it a lot from people I know and in TV and movies, and my husband has said that I am turning into my mother. Although, I think he says that hoping that I will become the housekeeper that she was. I’m not slovenly, but I am not as good at it as she was. She was Ninja – the baseboards and upper unreachable shelves were always spotless but you never saw it happen. I never once saw my mom scrub a baseboard on her hands and knees, or clean behind the dryer, but it had to have happened because they were always clean. It’s a mystery because I’m constantly cleaning mine and everybody in the house knows it because I’m telling them to move their junk out of my way.

Whether it is science or not, there are noticeable similarities, and that fact scares me to no end. Not because of what I may become – my parents were great. Patient, supportive, honest and loving. They told me what I needed to know, were there for me when I messed up because I didn’t listen to them, and they never meddled in my marriage. No, what has me scared is what my husband may become. His parents are judgmental, critical, bigoted (although they swear they are not) and his mother is downright hateful. They used to call the house at least 3 times every day. Now that we have only the cell phones, they call my husband 3 times a day and me only when they can’t get him. My mother-in-law disciplines our kids with us standing right there, and they are determined that the boys eat cauliflower-and LIKE it! She doesn’t care for me much, and that’s fine, but she apparently doesn’t like the boys either because she is absolutely mean to them. My husband has talked specifically to his mother several times about her behavior, but it does no good.

We don’t let the boys spend too much unsupervised time there, but my dad who watches the boys while we’re at work, is in California visiting his sister, so we thought it work out ok since it has been a while and things have been quiet. What a ridiculous thought that was! The first day, after an accumulated total of three hours because of Vacation Bible School and playing for two hours with the boy up the street, my boys come home in tears. Well, one of them anyway. My youngest lets a lot of it roll off his back and when he’s had enough, he tells her like it is: “Gosh! You’re mean!” The older of the two is a little more sensitive, but then she has always been hardest on him. Much like a jackal that targets what he senses as weakest. He’s not weak, but she sees his ability to get hurt feelings as weakness. It’s not as much fun to attack Sully (my youngest) because he typically shows a complete disregard for her tantrums.

My husband had this great idea that we should all go over to their house and hash it all out where it will be less easy for her to lie or the boys to lie. Great in theory, but I knew, and told him so, that it would end up ugly, with her believing she is innocent, as always.  Well, that’s pretty much how it went. When she shouted at them to shut up, I took the boys and left, leaving Bobby to deal with his mom. It was pretty much a downhill slide into the mud, yeah.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

•May 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Remember Mr. Rogers? There’s a lot of urban legend-type stories about him, but he really was just a nice guy concerned about children and their development into caring and responsible people.Yesterday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I noticed it as I drove to work; no rain, no dark clouds. The sun was out and everything had a crisp, clear look. It was such a nice change from the past four or five days of destructive storms. Every time it thundered my boys thought sure a tornado was coming to wipe out everything they knew. Thankfully, though, they know to pray instead of running around with their hands on their head screaming “Oh no! Oh no!”

If the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri had hit us, there would have been nothing left of our community. We would have been destroyed much like Greensburg, Kansas was in May of 2007. We are closer to Joplin than Kansas City, so it’s where we go when we want to go mall shopping or eat sushi. We have friends and family in Joplin, as do many people in our community, and because many of the cell towers had been taken out, getting any information was difficult and the wait was excruciating. Several in our town lost loved ones in Joplin. We didn’t lose any one, thank God, but some of them did lose their homes.It certainly helped that the Weather Channel happened to have someone following that storm. It brought immediate national attention to the situation and had help pouring into Joplin in record time.

Today is dark and cloudy again, with a chance of thunderstorms throughout the day and night. No word yet if any of them are expected to turn ugly. I need to get Weather Bug on my computer again. A while back I upgraded my computer from Vista to Windows 7 and when I did, I decided to try The Weather Channel’s desktop weather. I hate it. It’s clunky and not intuitive at all, and it consistently needed to be restarted. My boss has it on his computer at work and it does the same thing. Why does he keep it? I don’t know. Why do people do half of the things they do that make no sense? Anyway, I deleted it, but haven’t put Weather Bug back on yet. I like the Weather Channel, but their desktop weather application is junk. Note to self: download and install Weather Bug…

Odd Behavior

•May 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The weather here has been so off. For 5 days we had temps in the upper 80’s and now we’re wearing jackets and hoodies. It’s been going like that – up, down, up, down – for several weeks. Last week when it was up and really hot, I noticed some bizarre behavior on the part of one of my bosses. I should probably explain at this point that one of  “the guys” is awesome-the best boss you could hope to have, and the other one is…well, not. The one who is not awesome is the one I am talking about. He has many odd quirks that my partner in crime (the building maintenance and groundskeeper) and I reflect on, so bizarre behavior is standard fare. I won’t go into everything here as there is too much. This day last week, it was 89 degrees and when he walked in (about noon-ish) he was wearing a sweatshirt. After a few minutes scanning everyone’s messages, he commented on how hot it was and that he finally had to turn on the air the night before. Odd, right? So the next day it is just as hot and what is he wearing when he strolls in? Right – the same sweatshirt as the day before. Once again he is complaining about the heat. I should also point out that we are not busy at the moment, otherwise he would be wearing the customary suit and tie. Three hot days in a row he wore that same sweatshirt last week and continued to complain about the heat. A normal person would plan accordingly for the weather, but perhaps he is just figuring that eventually it will turn cold again and then he will be appropriately attired. When I got home that third evening my husband commented that he was talking with the neighbors across the street and he missed most of the conversation because he was wondering why some elderly people wear the same clothes day after day. I had to stop and think about that for a moment and I realized he was right-they DO do that, don’t they? Naturally my mind went back to Not Awesome’s wardrobe choices. He’s not that old – 59 – so why? Getting a jump on things? Planning ahead? Practicing so he’ll be good at it when the time comes? I at one time thought he must drive his wife insane, but then I discovered she is just as odd as he is. It would appear that they are perfect for each other.

Say Anything

•May 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This is the part where I introduce myself and tell you why I am here and what this blog is all about. Alrighty: I live in a dusty little corner of Kansas with my husband, kids and dogs. I work at a funeral home (no, I do not embalm bodies – there are other jobs to do there) and I am a student and taking college courses for the first time. I love to play with graphics programs and create – anything. I want this blog to be my refuge, the place I can come to and say whatever is on my mind. Here, I want to be able to vent about anything that happens, write about the things that are important to me, and document my journey. I had another blog, and I have a Facebook account, but I discovered that there is fallout from speaking your mind on those venues. I just want this to be a little more anonymous. I can say what I think and my mother-in-law won’t find out about it three minutes later.

Assuming anyone actually reads this, you might be wondering why “Atomic Dandelion” and if I’m hooked on crack. I’m not, and I could say that all the good names were taken. But actually, if you take a moment to ponder the phrase “Atomic Dandelion” and the behavior of dandelions, you will surely come up with a logical explanation that completely satisfies your question in your own mind. Wow, that was vague…