Advent: A Flood of Troubles Calmed

Advent Essentials: Keeping the holidays simple and creating focus

 

Truth be told, I started working on this post before Advent started. Before our life took a sudden turn. I thought I knew what our Advent season would look like. I had a devotional in hand, the notion of daily quiet time, Advent candles at the ready, simplified Christmas goals & acts of kindness planned… we would quietly and joyfully anticipate the arrival of Christmas Day. An “ideal” Advent. But life is far from ideal, a lesson we have learned over & over.

All we can do is trust. Be present. And trust.

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Another Sad Goodbye

We pray for peace wherever she finds herself. Never gone from our hearts.

Judy Riedner

March 28, 1951 – December 4, 2017

Another goodbye ~ Judy

 

It is still with much shock and sadness that we share the unexpected passing of Marcus’ mom, Judy. She was only 66. As the days keep passing, her presence will be missed. We we not always the best of friends, but I loved her greatly. And I will be forever thankful to her, for raising the wonderful man that is now my husband.

 

Honesty. Authenticity. Voice.

Honesty. Authenticity. Voice ~ A blog about struggling with mental illness ~ Bubblegum Sass

Honesty. Authenticity. Voice. Three things I’ve been trying to get more “real” about over the past few years.

More real honesty. In my feelings to myself & others.

More real authenticity. In how I share our lives, the whole rounded story, good & bad & faith led.

More real voice. In who I am & want to be. Connecting with that voice & trying to live it out.

So let me be more real with you. This week marks the 5th anniversary of my oldest brother’s death. This week I started a grief support program because I’ve finally realized I am grieving many losses (brother, mother, unborn babies & loss of my uterus). And I can’t keep going until I learn to walk with all of this a bit better. And that means talking about it.

I’m taking my mental health much more serious these days. I switch got flipped a few weeks ago while taking my antidepressants & I’ve realized how much darkness I was living in for years.

So. Today, I’m not okay. But I will be.

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Seeking Self-Care When It Really Matters

Seeking Self-Care When It Really Matters ~ Blog post by Bubblegum Sass

So, I just went through the most difficult time of my life. Really, I’m still journeying through it. The loss of my mom is a fresh, raw hurt that no one can actually heal. And yet, I’m still expected to get out of bed every day, make meals, take care of our son, do laundry and perform the whole “mom/wife/daughter/sister” bit. Oh yeah, and there’s that running-a-part-time-craft-business and assisting-my-husband-with-his-business role too.

What happens when I can’t?

Because to be honest with all of you, I can NOT do it ALL.

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When Life Keeps Giving You Lemons

You either get sick of drinking lemonade or

choose to stop seeing things as lemons to begin with.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass
On the outside, I live a fairly average life. Married. One child. A cat. A house. Stay-at-home-mom. Introvert. Passion for all things crafty & creative. Learning to be a green-thumb. Dive one layer deeper and you discover that I have a very close relationship with my family, keep a small, but tight group of friends, and struggle with all the insecurities & worries that come with being a parent.

Keep going deeper… you learn that both my hubby & I balance our own small businesses, along with that close knit relationship with our family. We’re working on making our big, long-term dream of living on a farm a reality. We have a passion for happy, healthy, locally produced food and a desire to share that with everyone we meet.

Dig deeper… I’ve struggled with the health complications of massive uterine fibroid growths since 2009. Had one, highly invasive, major surgery to remove them. Except they grew back and are now bigger than before.

Keep going deeper… I started my crafty business in 2011 after being laid off from my job in Calgary’s creative tech sector. That same year I finally found myself pregnant for the first time, but sadly miscarried. A couple months later my mom was diagnosed with cancer. A week later I was pregnant again. Five months after that, my oldest brother died.

Even deeper… I witnessed & experienced the heartache of watching my oldest brother struggle with the ugly disease of alcoholism for over a decade. More heartbreaking as each year passed. I’ve gone through the uncertainty of being able to have children (going through it again as we try for baby number 2). I’ve watched my parents suffer the terrible loss of a son (it’s burned into my eyes & heart). I’ve also been watching my mom courageously battle cancer for almost four years now. The joyous birth of our own son in 2012 was seen as a huge beacon of light in my family, after much darkness.

Deeper still… my mom isn’t winning her battle with cancer. This past year her physical & mental health has declined greatly. No more chemo treatments now. Doctors just want to make her as comfortable as possible, for however long she has left. And so, after well over a decade of “lemons” being dealt our way, we go into 2015 with this very real possibility, that it will be the last year I spend with my sweet mom.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Vintage Buttons Shabby Chic Home

Maybe not quite such an average life after all.

A lot of people will read everything above (and even below) and question our sanity. Some might be able to relate to a few of the life challenges we’ve walked through. And I’m hoping, that others will see it the way I struggle to see it every day; a blessed life.

Dig deep to my core… you will find my belief in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. THIS is what keeps telling me to stop seeing things as “lemons”. I truly live a very blessed life. If there is one thing that I can walk into the future with, it is an appreciation for God’s timing, right down to every heartbreaking moment. I will trust in Him. Oh, how I WILL trust in him.

But you caught that part about it being

a struggle every day, right?

Every. Day.

I am by no means running through each day with the wind blowing in my hair, a smile plastered to my face, while I belt out praises and love with grace. I’m just a woman balancing her roles of mama, wife, daughter, sister, and now auntie; wanting to hold my family so close, but knowing I will have to let go one day. I love as best I can. I’m learning to forgive and ask forgiveness. But the greatest challenge of all, is learning to be thankful even in the darkest hours.

It’s how I’m starting to see things, not as lemons, but as part of His blessings. I can’t worry about what tomorrow or next month will bring, but only hope that I come right back to reading this post if I begin to see those “lemons” rolling my way. It’s mostly a reminder for me. I would love if it were a reminder for you too.

Small Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Shabby Chic Country Kitchen Decor

The longest month

Blake Summer 2011
Blake, Summer 2011

I’ve been absent from this space for quite a while. Absent from a lot of things, actually. And yet, I can’t believe it hasn’t even been quite a month since my oldest brother passed away. Every week feels like forever.

Our small family gathered yesterday to bury him in the Queen’s Park Cemetery. A chilly autumn day, fitting for such a solemn task. No speeches were said. Not many words left at this point. Just tears and hugs, and photos. My family can’t do anything without taking photos. I suppose it will be a way to remember his urn and the collection of things we buried him with. We each had items to put inside his urn vault, symbolic things to keep him company as he goes forward.

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so weary. There’s been plenty of challenges and hardships for my family in the past several years, many of them revolving around Blake, and I was weary then. This, though, is so very different. In previous years, there was the weariness of the unknown, the worry of what may or may not happen, trying to brace ourselves for different possibilities and outcomes. But now, the outcome has been determined, our worse fear has come to pass, and he is gone. Just like that. Sudden in so many ways, though not completely unexpected. And not without some relief mingled in all the hurt. Maybe that’s why I feel so extraordinarily weary… the crazy mix of emotions… missing him and yet glad he no longer suffers, grieving a death while anticipating the birth of our first child, looking back at so many memories while needing to look forward… it’s tough to say the least. I’m sure anyone who has lost a loved one can relate.

I’ve had to make a few changes lately to keep my health and sanity. First off, I’m no longer working at the doggie daycare. I’m missing all the pups like crazy, but there was just no room in my schedule to continue doing that, while we deal with everything else. There is now just two and half weeks until my first Christmas craft fair! That alone feels insane and overwhelming. There is a lot of crafting that needs to happen and I’m tempted to enlist help (one of my big weaknesses, but I’ll may need to overcome it if I want to get enough inventory made). Hubby and I are also on a mission to get the nursery set-up and get a bit more organized for the arrival of baby. Who really wants to go shopping for all the basic baby things during the Christmas craziness?! Certainly not us. We’ve even started looking into hiring a postpartum doula to give us a hand. Given the year we’ve had, we thought it might be a good idea to have the extra support while we learn to take care of baby.

As busy as it all is, I’m also very aware of breathing in each moment a bit more. Taking the time to watch my belly and marvel at the kicks baby can already produce. Not wanting to miss the glowing yellow trees during this lovely autumn we’re having. Even just enjoying that fact that hubby and I get to eat breakfast together most mornings and many, many, more blessings.

Hoping that in the midst of all of life’s craziness, you’re able to stop for a few moments each day and marvel at just being here.