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Chaos, Failure and Love

01/25/2018 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Do you ever feel like you are drowning? Drowning in a sea of anxiety, chaos, exhaustion, failure and more….I do, especially today. I think at times I give off the persona that I have things together…let me tell you…I DON’T! I feel like I am barely getting by some days and that one more thing might just make this mom…who is standing on a balancing beam…fall over. Like right now I have a room, my dining room to be exact, that I have actually closed the door to so that I don’t have to acknowledge the disaster that it is. My kids wanted to have an ‘art’ day….well they did and they got into the glitter. No big deal right? I was letting them be creative, not have screen time, they weren’t fighting in that moment and they were learning….yeah, learning how to make a mess! And, before you say…”hey that’s fine, you had a busy night.” this ‘art’ day happened over 3 weeks ago…yeah…let that soak in, we have been eating dinner on stools in the living room because I just am done, tired and can’t by the time we get home. Or there was last night, when at 8:00 I found out that my 5 year old needed to bring a poster to school with 100 things on it in the form of the number 100…TODAY. Now, I am sure there was a memo, even a poster board sent home at some point….but do I remember that?… absolutely not. So, my kid went with a yellow cardstock sheet and 100 fingerprints on it, because who has poster board laying around…not this mom. Yep…then there was two days ago where I literally told my 15 year old to stop being such a pansy and toughen up because raising my voice a couple decibels does NOT mean I am mad and all you kids need to take a chill pill. Then it hits me…he is 15, and my other two are 5 and 7. I don’t hardly remember when my oldest was 7…it goes so fast and here I am telling them to take a chill pill and in that moment or the days that follow I am in and out of this place where I feel guilty. Guilty that I am not calmer, that my kids don’t have a mom who ‘has it together’, that they are living in a sea of chaos and failure…but then it hits me too…they love me. They love me for all my screw ups, my ‘mom fails’, my chaos. They want to sit on my lap and tell me about their day…the oldest wants to lay on my bed and talk non-stop about a new hunting device or idea he has…the youngest could care less that his paper was yellow and it was just his fingerprints because he loved it and sat on my lap while everyone else was sleeping to do it. On days, when I can’t stop crying…like today, I am reminded that my anxiety, that me stressing about getting through and being organized isn’t what matters to my kids….It’s my hugs and my love…it’s my time that matters. So…to all the mom out there that feel like they just can’t make it through ‘one more day’…or have yelled at their kids today, just “can’t” clean up another mess, closed themselves in the bathroom for a few minutes, or forgotten a school project…I am WITH you….YOU are NOT alone. It’s okay, YOU are doing GREAT! YOU are AMAZING! and YOUR kids LOVE you! 🙂

My boys and I

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, My Kids, The Journey

Resting myself and Calming my soul

11/02/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I have never been very good at being still. I fidget all the time, my hands or feet or legs are always moving…it’s honestly annoying and when I try to calm down, sit still, take deep breaths it feels really good…it just never lasts. My mind is like that too, constantly churning, turning over ideas, mulling over words spoken or actions taking, dreaming….my goodness I am a dreamer…my mind obsesses and its exhausting. As a Christian I have never been patient, I have always wanted to know exactly what the Lord wanted for me and if He wasn’t moving quick enough…well He probably didn’t want it for me. I realize now that He was trying to get me to slow down, to focus on His will for my life and not wanting me to fit my life to what I ‘thought’ His will for me was or more like what I wanted His will for me to be. It’s a bad habit…one I ruined relationships and friendships over. One that I was cautioned against and my retort was usually: “you don’t know what you are talking about. This is how God wants me to be, He may want YOU to move slow and wait and listen but He talks to ME and tells me I am fine.” I was so stubborn…still am but I like to think I have matured in my stubbornness, that I have evolved if you will as one who may not initially appear to be listening but then goes and ponders, constantly thinks on the wisdom that has just been bestowed on my ears. I don’t always follow what others think I should do, or what the norm maybe appears to be…but in these last couple years, this last year especially, I have found that rest, that peace, that relying on and in the arms of my Savior that I was always rushing before. I don’t have laziness…I couldn’t just wait to see what the next step was for income with three boys, hoping something would fall into my lap…but I had to trust that doors would be open if I put myself out there…and they have been. Doors have been open and shut…it’s been clear, direct and in-assumable what the right paths were. I rested and wrestled so long before I left the house that used to be home that when I did leave, although I was shattered, I knew it was the right decision. My actions afterwards for the next 6 weeks were not…but the initial act of leaving was…I was at peace with the leaving, I just wasn’t at peace with what followed the next few months. It wasn’t so much that I longed for MY marriage…it was that I longed for restoration, for a relationship that was healthy, for a companion and for a friend. Mostly though I longed for restoration. While I didn’t find it in my marriage I did find it in the peace that came with relying on the Lord. I found a new, raw, honest and humbling relationship with my savior…the one who had redeemed me many years ago but was waiting for me to find a quiet minute, to find time for Him, to find out that I could be broken and rely on HIM. One of my favorite verses, ever since I was a little girl is Isaiah 40:30-31

“Even youth grow tired and weary, and young men (or women) stumble and fall: But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

This last year, these last two years…more growing has happened in my life than I could have anticipated for myself. It is still a daily struggle to slow myself, to immerse myself in the word, to pray, to find gratitude and direction. Others may not agree with or understand my life, my choices and my struggles…I am learning to have peace with that, to find comfort in the fact that my salvation does not depend on their approval but it has already been paid for, bought with the blood of the one who says “come to me and rest in My arms, let Me cover you and take care of you. ” This morning our daily devotion of a family of four touched on this very topic and I was encouraged that I have the opportunity to pray with my sons, to read scripture, to turn our focus to a place where we don’t have to be perfect, or okay, or have things figured out because we have someone willing to walk with us and to hold us. We are all healing, we are all doing better, and we will be stronger not because of our own strength but because of the one who gives EVERLASTING strength.

2 Comments - Categories: The Journey

Let’s talk about the hard stuff….

10/30/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

It’s hard to know what to write, how things will be perceived or even if in a few months/years from now when I look back to read what I have written if I will be disgusted over what my life has or has not produced, joyful over the memories I have preserved or frustrated with the honesty/openness/ or transparency I try to show. I don’t know, but I do know that when I go weeks or months without writing I feel like something is missing, that a sense of processing, healing, growing and hopefully encouraging others in some way…just isn’t there. This is a hard one to write…I am not an expert, others have had it way worse than I….I don’t have any insights other than my own personal ones into this matter…so they are skewed a little bit. They are skewed to my mind and how I perceive things….that being said I will try to be as open and honest as I can.

One of the hardest things about emotional/mental/ or psychological abuse is how to handle it…how to explain it isn’t in your head, that it isn’t made up, and it isn’t embellished…that it isn’t a lie. The other thing about it is to those around you it kinda comes out of left field when you start the healing process…the sharing process. The thing is, when you are living in it, you want to protect those closest to you. It isn’t like its something so obvious as getting beaten, pushed down the stairs, or any other form of physical abuse. It comes in subtly…it comes like a thief in the night. The comments start harmless at first, so harmless even though they might offend…they get brushed off and you tell yourself to grow some thick skin. You convince yourself that there are already too many pansies and people that get offended by every little thing so “its no big deal and that you can toughen up a little.” It grows from there…instead of complaints of laundry being folded wrong or dishes not being put away….it goes to attacks on things you love, then from there its the people you love….people you thought the other person loved too, then it goes to attacks on behavior of you and finally it gets to the point where you are told ‘you are worthless’ or ‘you should have never been born’ or even…’how stupid can you be’, ‘you are a filthy’, and so, so, so much more. Those are just the words…the silence treatment is a whole different ball game. The thing is when you are going through it you don’t want to tell the people you love about it…for one thing you have been told so many times that ‘you are crazy’ that you actually start believing it and only a ‘crazy’ person would actually tell people about it. You also don’t want to poison those you love against your significant other because in some backwards way you still love them, you still think that ‘well, maybe I provoked it”, “maybe there was too much alcohol involved”, “they really didn’t mean what they said” or “they are just having a bad day”. You excuse the behavior yourself and you use those you love as your crutch, as your excuse for still accepting being treated the way you are because if you told those closest to you….they would want you out of that situation, they might actually stand up for you, they might actually support you and then YOU will have to make a decision. The other part is you don’t want to poison those closest to you because you know you will be doing life still with the ‘offender’ because of possible children involved and you don’t want those you love to be filled with hate, to be filled with images of frustration and disgust. It’s a slippery slope. One that when you decide to take a stand it isn’t understood, and it isn’t often accepted. Bruises you can see….what happen mentally and in ones heart you can’t so it doesn’t seem real…the struggles you might be having by taking a stand, the fear, the tears after text messages, the shaking because you just can’t breathe through it….it all seem like dramatics to those that haven’t lived it, to those that haven’t seen it or experienced it. Then there is the very real realization that you yourself HAVE made mistakes, that you HAVE hurt and betrayed the other person as well. After I left last year in December I entered into an emotional affair via texting. It wasn’t right, it was a betrayal of our marriage vows, it was a betrayal to the love I had for my husband at that time, it was inappropriate and wrong. When he found out he was understandably angry and hurt. I was ashamed and hurt for him, I literally hated myself and couldn’t believe what I did…even though it was all via text words hurt and I am someone who knew just how much words hurt. He asked me to tell his parents, his siblings and my parents…he said that there would be a base to work with if I did that and then…after I did what he requested he went and filed for divorce on our anniversary. He was able to say how ‘filthy’ I was, how “disgusting” I was and how I ruined our marriage…in part he was right, I was so emotionally beat down at that point that I couldn’t see completely how backwards things were for us.

I truly don’t say these things for anyone to hate, for anyone to wish ill-will against the person who caused my emotional/mental/ or psychological abuse. I say it because it isn’t understood. And now…even now…when things are said I still try to protect and when I am told I don’t need to protect but then the truth is called a lie, or embellished….it hurts…it needs to be talked about. I do believe people take offense over the slightest thing, that there are too many people crying out for attention over words that were taken out of context and that people get offended over things that aren’t meant offensively. However I am not talking about the occasional unkind word or typical marital disagreements….I am talking about a daily struggle to know, to process, to prepare of what might be said or what might be done if I did or did not do something. I am talking about attacks made on extended family that were vile and meant to hurt.

In the church, in the Christian faith we need to start recognizing and supporting those who have been through this. Who have experienced or are experiencing hurt like this. I think its hard no matter if you are rooted in the bible or not…but when your faith is what you hope defines you…it is even harder to take a stand against something like this. Everyone is redeemable in Christ. Everyone is a sinner and everyone deserves grace and forgiveness. When that is part of your own make-up…you don’t want people to hate, you don’t want to skew their image of a person, and you don’t want them to struggle like you struggle on a daily basis of being kind and not reactionary. You don’t know how to stand up and say…”this is/was wrong but I can’t tell you about it because you don’t need to know everything.” Because when you say that, when you don’t say everything and then you start you know you have to deal with people not believing you. You have to be strong enough to handle people telling you that you are lying, that you are trying to destroy an image…you have to deal with people looking at you with pity (which lets face it, no one wants), you have to deal with people hanging up on you and telling you that you don’t need to protect them but when you tell them the truth they can’t handle that either. As Christians, as women, we need to support, we need to pray alongside the other person and we need to build them up.

4 Comments - Categories: The Journey

Progress…..

07/30/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Its been a while…I know. I think I felt like a broken record there for a while…you know, the one with a scratch in it that keeps repeating itself over and over again. I felt like I was in shock, like I wasn’t processing or accepting what was happening. People would ask how I was doing and I didn’t know how to answer.  But now…now I feel like I’m healing. Lots has happened since I last wrote. We moved into our own house first of all. I can’t seem to unpack and get settled all the way but here we are, in our own space atleast. I bought a business also and love it. Granted there are adjustments but wow….what an amazing feeling to work with my hands all day and see a completed project at the end of the day…it’s a little victory each day and it has helped with my mental state. I am not angry at my ex anymore. I forgive him. I realize it isn’t all on him either. I also failed us, our marriage and covenant towards each other. I made mistakes too…I would like to take them back to just be able to say that I didn’t make any…selfishly it would be easier to process everything if I could blame him 100%, but I can’t. That being said…I have clearly realized I wasn’t crazy either and I wasn’t making things up in my head…I am glad I am not in that situation anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the idea of our family unit growing and being whole, together and experiencing life together in the traditional sense…but I don’t miss the anxiety, the anger, the confusion and the hurt. My shift has changed on what I think a family unit can endure and how we can still enjoy memories and occasions together without the strife. I’ve seen my kids come alive in their relationship with their dad…I LOVE that. It wouldn’t have happened if we had stayed, if things hadn’t been shaken and changed. I am not trying to rationalize it, I’m not saying it’s the best design…but for us…yes for our family…it has been what is best. I get sad when my kids are gone, I cry, and sometimes I don’t leave the house. BUT, I’m not angry anymore. I forgive and I’m ready to heal. This is life…this is my life…and I pray that I continue to grow as a Mom in this new role, in this new design that is our life. I pray I grow in Christ, that not only am I the Mom the boys need but that I become an example for Christ, an vessel of love and encouragement for others. I’m not healed but I’m not sad, and I am not angry anymore…and that is progress. 

1 Comment - Categories: The Journey

An Apology

06/01/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I want to take a moment and apologize to those who find my blog or journey offensive. I have not meant bring defamation to (M) or his character. I am simply recording my journey…the up and down that it has brought to me, the confusion of my heart and soul, the things I’ve struggled with. I’ve tried to be transparent in my weaknesses and indiscretions in our marriage and relationship. As I reflect more and continue on the path I am sure my short comings will appear to me more and I will journal those as well. He has many great qualities and there are many worse than him. I simply have tried to write in transparency, honesty and not in a way to shame or place blame. My desire is not to appear as a victim or as someone looking for sympathy…I feel like a way to process this is to write and think out loud, maybe in the long run it will encourage someone else. To those who have been offended…I am sorry. I invite you to no longer read about my journey or my blog if it brings you so much pain and frustration. My goal has not been to bring you pain…do I am sorry.

5 Comments - Categories: The Journey, Uncategorized

There is no bad guy

04/11/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Apparently in the world of social media there are all kinds of days set aside to acknowledge or celebrate little things in our life and the world that we really have no control over…like siblings. Yes, yesterday was national sibling day…who knew? Much of my childhood memories have been reduced or enlarged…however you chose to look at it…by only the good memories, the treasures and stories that make up the vibrant pattern of the quilt being made that is the tapestry of my life. I often wonder, agonize and stress over what my kids will remember, if they will have good memories of their adolescent years or if they will be filled with me telling them to “just be quiet or I am going to go crazy”, or “really, you really think that is a smart answer”, or…my favorite…”go use your imagination and stop fighting!” I also wonder how much of the past few years will define them, if they will notice or remember the turmoil they lived in, or if what they are going through now…being in two different houses…adjusting to “dad’s” house and me not being there. I am so thankful for the relationship and memories I have with my best friends in the world..,my siblings.

Not having T.V. or rather syndicated television, (we could watch movies), growing up…our imaginations worked in overtime. Our playtime was filled with variou story lines but consistent throughout most was the theme of a “bad guy or group” and a “good guy or group”. If we were pretending to live in the great country of Australia…the bad guys were dingos, prairie fires and a rich land owner. Nationality made no difference in our minds as we often re-enacted the trail of tears or the Underground Railroad…with the proverbial “white man” as the bad guy. However then wandering westward you might never know what Indian might be waiting to scalp you. Cops and robbers…more of the likes of Jesse James and Wyatt Earp kept the law and broke it. We knew no gender or race…there was no prejudices shown EXCEPT to the idea of GOOD and BAD. Those were the days…when a “wind storm” (and a fake one at that), was the “BAD” that encompassed my days. Now…I worry that my kids definition of bad will include more than their imagination and memories of fun they had or will have.

In this situation…this new era of the journey of life…it’s easy for people to blame Matt…to think he is the “bad” guy. I’m not excusing certain behaviors…but he isn’t the “bad” guy. There is NO bad guy. There were bad choices made, bad reaponses, bad circumstances…but there is NO bad guy. For the sake of my kids, for the sake of Matt…I DO NOT want this to be misunderstood. Our kids will be fine. Kids are resilient little beings…we will be fine for our kids…but we are not fine for each other. I’m thankful for Matt. I am thankful for the life we shared…not all of it…I am thankful for the growth I experienced with him and that I will continue to experience through this, I am thankful that he loves his kids, I am thankful for his family. I am thankful that even through this divorce…the kids will be fine…that we both have our kids backs…and THAT THERE IS NO BAD GUY HERE!

2 Comments - Categories: The Journey

90 days

04/10/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I saw an article recently saying that people that posted their workout pics were of a narcissistic behavior…one comment on there stood out though from someone that said what about accountability? For ME it is totally about accounutability. One of the areas of my life I consistently struggle in is remaining constant and consistent. TODAY starts the beginning of a 90 day journey for me. 90 days committed to working out. 90 days committed to clean eating. 90 days of reading the bible. 90 days of reading and pouring into myself. 90 days of prayer and quieting myself. Why 90? Because it seems to take about 30 days for me to create a habit, 30 days for it then to stick and then I have another 30 days where it becomes a lifestyle and I become fully vested in it. I hope to continue after 90 days…but this is the start. With everything going on mentally, the spiritual attacks, the emotional drain…it’s time to focus on a better me. To become the person I was intended to be in the eyes of God. I make mistakes on a daily basis. My words, my actions, my thoughts, you name it I’ve probably messed up…but I don’t have to live there because I was saved by grace…I was rescued, I AM loved, I AM forgiven, I AM worthy only because of the One that saved me. I will do this and you all are my accountability partners…welcome to the journey of the next 90 days! 💪🏻🏋😉👟📚

image

2 Comments - Categories: The Journey

A Picturesque View

01/14/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

As a kid we relished the days my dad would stay home from work. It was a vacation day to us unless he was sick, but even then there were treats to be had like being able to watch a movie because the house would have to stay quiet for him to get his rest. When I was younger I never quite saw the irony between a mom getting sick and a dad getting sick…women and men handle things much different. I used to think it was just my mom…now I realize its every mom!!! I also don’t think she looked at papa’s ‘vacation’ days or canceled school days with near the excitement of us kids. I can say that now…now that I have experienced a day full of plans that get dashed to the ground at 6:00 in the morning when Matt would say he wasn’t going into work because he just needed a day at home. All of a sudden everything I had planned for the day would either get canceled or put on hold so that I could be home and the boys could be around their dad…maybe I handled it wrong…I am not sure, but in those moments it felt right for the kids and was met with some resentment from me. Not always, not in the beginning or when the boys were babies…but the last few years I didn’t like the days he chose to stay home. Now…now I wish I had enjoyed them a little more and not resented him so much for them. Maybe in a way he felt my resentment and it helped build a wall.

Anyway…somewhere in the early years of 1990’s, I think I was 12 or 13,  Missouri was hit pretty hard with some hard weather. The house my parents bought all those years ago was in pretty rough shape. The original part of the home dates back to pre-civil war with an addition across the front added at the turn of the century…the sidewalk dated 1905, but they were never positive if that was put in when the addition went on or not. It’s a large farmhouse, drafty windows…because most of them are still the original windows…not the best insulation and rock walls covered in plaster/Sheetrock. Well now a great deal of that has changed but its been a slow, slow process. We never had our own rooms growing up, there was anywhere to 2-6 people in a bedroom during different stages and ages of people growing. This came in pretty handy in those winter months when the rooms would get so cold there would be ice on the inside of the windows. Of course they made really fun sketch pads…drawing in the ice with our finger nails. There was always a couple weeks in the winter however that we all had to move downstairs, close off the hallway to the upstairs and live in the living-room/over-sized kitchen and dining room/and also the one bathroom the house had. My parents could still use their room and usually had a baby or toddler in there with them, the rest of us would pile into the living-room and stay nice and cozy, covered with 5-6 blankets and all tucked in. Sometimes it would even get cold enough we would have to bring the newborns goats into the house so they wouldn’t freeze…this really only happened if the mother was lost in childbirth. To say I had an unusual childhood would be an understatement. This one particular year we had already had snow and then an ice storm hit. I don’t remember the accumulation but I remember papa being home from school…A LOT! But oh boy did we have fun!! my parents were really good about going sledding with us kids, showing us how to build snowmen, making pictures in the snow with us by walking and perfecting the snow angel was a talent taught only by my mother. She was pregnant a lot in the winter though so my dad was the one who would take us out the most. At 12 I didn’t really need my dad to take me outside to go sledding…but the event became 10’x more exciting when he did. We would be out there for hours….literally hours. I can remember this ice storm though…we all thought it would be fun to go sledding, so we get ready, go outside and crawl over to the hill…the crawling should have been our first clue that maybe the ice was thick enough we couldn’t even break through it, but no…it just seemed like even more of an adventure. So off we went…flying down the hill at speeds so fast you couldn’t stop if you wanted too. Eventually we hit the ditch and then turned around to do it again…we were thrill seekers…the whole lot of us. There was a a problem though…we couldn’t get up the hill. We tried for what seemed like forever…we..and by we I mean my sister Micah who would have been about 10-11, my brother Chet who would have been 8-9 and Jasper..6-7. It was a nightmare…we would get a few steps in and then slide backwards. Thankfully my dad, who I think was watching out the window, came out with a rope and pulled us to the top of the hill. I am pretty sure that was the shortest visit to the outdoors we ever had. That day of ice kept going though and lasted a long time…I don’t ever remember losing power but we couldn’t get out our drive or up the road. My dad, mom and one of the kids made the hike to the end of the gravel road we lived on and someone met them with food…I think at this point we had been house bound for at least a week. It took them every bit of 2 hours to go the half a mile to the end of our road and about an hour to get back. I am sure my mom was going crazy when my dad finally went back to work but oh the memories that were made.

Looking outside today reminded me of that day so long ago…it feels like a lifetime in some regards…the ice is so picturesque on the trees with the shimmer of silver when the light hits it just right but the thing is when a wind comes along or something is thrown at the branches not only does the ice shatter, more often than not the tree or branches break. It reminded me of how my heart can maybe look to others or even feel to me. Maybe it looks beautiful, picturesque, guarded, protected in its ice almost…I don’t want to break or shatter though with what life is throwing at me right now. I don’t want my heart to be covered in ice, cold but protected, I pray that Matt can feel the warmth I am trying to give…albeit not much but there is a faint hint of warmth there. I am trying, I am trying to hold onto to something that doesn’t seem fixable, that doesn’t seem possible, I don’t know if that is the right thing or the wrong thing to do…I don’t even think there is a clear answer, but I do know I don’t want my heart to ‘look’ beautiful covered with ice and shimmering when just the right light hits it…I want it to BE beautiful. Full of warmth, love, forgiveness, patience and understanding.

My dad with my brother Jasper, watching over us older ones I am sure.

My dad with my brother Jasper, watching over us older ones I am sure.

No Comments - Categories: The Journey

It feels like a death.

01/12/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Grandparents are such a special gift in every kids life. Even if they aren’t someone you see often. With parents that had migrated to Missouri from Iowa and Michigan, seeing my grandparents on either side wasn’t a weekly or even a monthly occasion. Each time they visited though or we made the trek to either side it was filled with such excitement and dreams of what we were going to do while we were together. It was especially special to see my grandpa Kent…him and I shared the same birthday and I was gifted with his first name as my middle name so naturally I thought we shared a bond superior to all the other grand-kids. Of course this was not the case but in my child mind it made complete sense. Grandma Kent had passed away when I was 8 and although I do have memories of her they are dim and vary between what I actually remember and the stories I have been told about her. When grandpa would visit though the times were filled with horse rides on his knee, the old lady who swallowed the fly song complete with the best pop in the world which only he could do on the side of his cheek, magic tricks and lots of laughter. One year we got a card from him or rather each of us got our own card, grandma had passed at this point because we were living in the house my parents are in now, the cards were all the same, a snowy scene with a cabin on the front with the reddest front door I had ever seen on a house…It was such an amazing card in my 9 year old mind. Inside of this card was a whole dollar. Each of us kids got a whole dollar and we thought it was the best thing in the world. I look at my kids now and think that there is no way they would be as excited for a dollar bill as I was in that point in my life. Does that come down to parenting, society, inflation or what? Anyway, in April of that year is when I found out grandpa was sick…he had cancer in his bones. I didn’t realize at that time what that meant for the outlook of our family or that my summer would look very different that year. After papa got done teaching in May they packed the car up and we all moved to Des Moines to help care for grandpa. When you are a kid a move like that doesn’t really phase you, you don’t understand the seriousness of it and instead it is an adventure, a chance to explore new areas. On a whole it was a pretty great summer for a kid. Grandpa’s house was right behind an old laundry mat and us kids loved climbing the rock wall to sneak in and see if we could find quarters left behind. The yellowish house was small and right in the city but it was next to an empty lot that was perfect for flying kites, running, baseball and fun with other neighborhood kids. It was the closest to city living I had ever been and I thought it was the bee’s knees. Everyday we would pray for grandpa to get better. First his meals started with us at the table, hospital visits weren’t such an ordeal and him coming outside was normal. As the summer progressed meal time was shared with him less and his sleeping increased. I would sit on a stool next to his bed and read to him. When he was feeling good he would still do his magic and taught us his songs. He would often lean over or open his eyes and say ‘Natasha, we are going to get our birthday together this year.” He would call me on the phone…the birthday’s leading up to that 10th birthday when I was in Missouri and him in Iowa and he would ask me what I wanted. I always said the same thing…”grandpa, I want a pony and a birthday with you.” He always promised that one day we would get our birthday but he wasn’t sure about the pony. The weeks went by and it was said to us kids that instead of praying for grandpa to get better we should pray for him to not feel so much pain. I went to a concert the night of July 25th…grandpa had been sleeping all day and I went in and kissed him goodbye like normal…he knew I was there but didn’t say anything. When I got home that night it was so late and we went straight to bed…I was excited to tell him all about the music I had heard on the capitol lawn and mom was quick to say that I could tell him tomorrow. That house was so small there in Des Moines Iowa but there was a screened in porch on it that was such a blessing. All my cousins had come into to town for grandpa and my birthday and we had been planning a birthday party. It was a big year between the two of us, I was turning 10 and grandpa was turning 70. That next morning, July 26th, mom and papa took me on the porch when I got up and told me that grandpa had quietly went home to be with the Lord. I don’t remember a whole lot of the next hour. I remember screaming and crying and saying that he promised we would have a birthday together. I remember being crushed. The next day, July 27th, I awoke…it was our birthday…grandpa died one day before we could spend it together. We still had a party, he gave me a dress and a card that I still have…I started crying of course when I opened it and couldn’t stop…it took one of my cousins to do something silly and my uncontrollable tears switched to uncontrollable laughter. That loss has never left me. It was the first real loss I had ever experienced…I mean I had gone through losing grandma Kent but this was different because I remembered it, I lived it, and I changed through it.

What I am going through right now feels like a death, it feels final even though I don’t always want it to feel that way.It feels like there isn’t hope and that my prayer should change from one of healing to one of easing the pain and transition. I talked to a dear friend today via text and these are the exact texts I sent her after I told her that Matt was getting a lawyer and not knowing if it was a ploy or for real. She asked how I felt about it and I said: “Like a knife just stabbed me in the gut. On one hand I am relieved and on another I am mad. Mad he doesn’t even want to work on things or see my efforts. Mad that I want to be selfish and that I deserve more but in that very sentence wish we could work it out. Mad that this all might be a ploy to get me to come home because he knows my view on marriage. I am just mad. Mad at my mom telling me that I need to stay for the sake of the family unit and comparing it to her marriage when it’s not even close to her marriage. Mad that he tells me I am ruining the boys and destroying the family by doing what I did when I keep asking him to see the boys or I have them call him. Obviously I am having some anger issues today. :)” But that is where I am right now, I think there are phases and there are different stages of grieving. Grieving for something that was full of life at one point, that was blooming and growing and now appears to be dying…withering away into nothing but anger and frustration. I feel like I did that day before I turned 10…wanting to scream, to kick and to say it isn’t true…that we promised each-other more time, that it shouldn’t be this painful and that I should be able to fix it. That is where I am at today. Not a very strong place to be but that is life and right now…in this moment…this is where I am.

The fall I was 9 I believe with grandpa Kent on the original porch this house had.

The fall I was 9 I believe with grandpa Kent on the original porch this house had.

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