Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

In the fall of 2009, just four or five months before Michael's passing, I decided to refinance the house.  The rates were great, and I could have the new loan pay off a second mortgage that we'd taken out to finance fertility treatments. Even though we already knew that Michael had cancer, I had no idea that his battle would be so short. And so I took out an adjustable rate mortgage due in five because I thought we'd purchase a larger home in a relatively short period of time. It was not a good decision on my part. But how could I foresee what would happen to Michael or the housing market?

Since then, I've had this kind of hanging over my head because my house has continued to lose its market value. My dad and I looked into refinancing last fall, but I couldn't qualify for a loan that I was comfortable with because I don't the required amount of equity. However, at the time we refinanced in 2009, we had over $100k worth of equity. It is heartbreaking to watch that equity dissolve due to shortsales and foreclosures in the neighborhood.

Yesterday, after applying yet again for a refinance, I was able to qualify for a very affordable loan at the same low finance rate I currently have. I am relieved and grateful to God for providing for me and Michaela in this way. I had feared that our mortgage would become unaffordable in the fall of 2014, and that we might risk losing our home. Now that won't happen.

Thank you, Jehovah-Jireh!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Michaela @ Fourteen Months

Snacks make me happy!

Oh, my! Another month has passed. I think having children really gives you a perspective on just how short our lives really are. I don't say that to be morbid, but just because I'm truly amazed at how quickly she is growing and changing.

The biggest change in the last month is that Michaela is walking. Well, she can walk. Let me put it that way. She still prefers to crawl. She took her first steps in June shortly before school got out. Then I didn't see her try to walk again for about two weeks. Michaela will walk now with encouragement, but she's still not confident enough to give up crawling. That's okay with Mommy. Another advancement is that she is learning to climb up on the sofa. She will do this, sometimes needing a little boost from me, and then get back down to try again. She is very pleased with herself about this!

Michaela talks all day long. She has the sweetest little voice, and I love her baby talk. I also love how she gestures with her hands when she's talking. She's so cute! Some of her new "real" words are: shoes, Papa (what we call my dad), and Chew (for her "chewy" cloth - the one in her mouth much of the time). When I ask her if she wants something, she kind of says "yeah" and bobs her whole body in agreement. If she doesn't want something she grunts and shakes her head. She points at things she wants or places she wants to go. The first time she said "shoes" was when we were in our church's thrift shop and she saw all the metallic ladies shoes on a display rack. She just said "shoes" out of the blue, and she's been saying it ever since.

Michaela drops most of her food on the floor. Makes me crazy.  Of course, she thinks it's funny. She seems to have become a more picky eater recently, and much of her food is refused or littered. She almost always will eat rice, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pasta. She's a carb lover for sure, and she comes by that naturally. She usually likes fruit, too. But she will get on a kick with one kind of fruit or another, and then she's done with it and you just can't get her to eat it again. She was crazy about strawberries and cantaloupe for a while, and now she has a fit if I offer either of them to her.

She is vacillating between one and two naps a day. This week she has not wanted to sleep in her crib at all, and has preferred to fall asleep on the living room floor or the sofa. I am not happy about that, and I hope we are getting past that already. It makes it really hard for me to get things done - like blogging!

We have been having a lot of fun together since school got out. We've managed to go to church, and Michaela does very well in the nursery. It is hard to get it together to go anywhere, but it's so important to me that we make it to church regularly. I need it, and she needs to feel comfortable there. The older she gets, the more time we will spend there.

I love being a SAHM, and I wish that was my "real" job. Maybe someday. It would take a miracle, but I believe in those.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Trouble with Hoarding

I am not a hoarder. I love to go through my closets and drawers and give things away. As I lost much of the extra weight I had been carrying around the last few years, I was delighted to pull things out of my wardrobe and pass them on to friends and family members. It not only made room for some new things, it just freed up space. And I like to have a little wiggle room. In a small house like mine, there's not a whole lot of that.

Michael, on the other hand, was a bit of a hoarder. Not like those poor souls you see on TLC, but the kind of person who did not throw out paperwork that was years and years old, or get rid of clothing that no longer fit or was out of fashion. On top of that, as a professional musician, he had lots of equipment, instruments, and music.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few years, both since he passed and before, going through his things trying to create some wiggle room in our my home and garage. It has been a huge undertaking, and I'm probably not even halfway there even though he's been gone for more than two years.

Today his brother Stephen came by to bring down more than twenty bankers boxes that have been stored in the loft space of my garage. The boxes I asked him to retrieve this time were boxes in which Michael had stored receipts and tax returns. They go back to the late 1980s. On Sunday, Michael's sister Cathie will come by to go through the boxes with me before we have their contents shredded. I want to be sure that there is nothing of sentimental value in the boxes before we discard them - pictures, for example. In my desire to find such treasures, I looked through just a couple of boxes today, and for my eagerness I was rewarded by finding a stack of letters he'd kept from two previous girlfriends.


That's the trouble with hoarding.

Most of the letters go back well before our time, but it still hurt to read them. I wish I hadn't done so. All afternoon I've been having an imaginary conversation with Michael about how it makes me sad and angry to find those things, and why couldn't he have tossed those things before he brought his stuff into our home. In our imaginary conversation he takes full responsibility for my hurt feelings and apologizes up and down for hanging on to them. I know that's what he'd say to me if he could.

So here's a word for those of you who are hanging on to the past. Purge the letters and the pictures from your private collection. I'm not talking about momentos from a spouse who has passed. That's part of your family history. I'm talking about momentos from relationships prior to your marriage. Imagine how your husband or wife would feel weeks, months, or years after your death when they read tender words penned to you by someone else. Imagine how they will feel to see your smiling face next to "her" or "his" smiling face in an old photo. I'll tell you. It will sting. It will cause them to have to process things once again. Things they had hoped were put to rest.

You can't take anything with you. What you leave behind becomes the responsibility of your spouse and/or your children. Think about your possessions, and if they are not something that is God honoring, or spouse honoring, throw it out. Don't put it off. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Grief Milestone

Summer 2007
Today I have now been a widow as long as I was a wife.

What a crappy milestone.

I knew it was coming up early this month, but I hadn't taken the time to pinpoint the date until I crawled into bed a few minutes ago. That's when I realized that today is the day. So I'm up blogging about it.

Sometimes, I look at men who are older than Michael got to be, and I think, "Why didn't Michael get to grow old (with me)?"

Couples on Facebook announce their wedding anniversaries - ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years, etc. Why didn't we even get to have five years of married life?


Cancer sucks!

Being a widow is sucky, too.



Too much responsibility.



Too much responsibility.

I'm so grateful for my precious daughter. I'm so grateful that I know that God is good all the time, and that He's always working things together for good for those that love Him (Romans 8:28). If it weren't for the blessing that Michaela is, and what I know about God's nature, I'd hate my life without Michael.

It's got to get better. It's just got to.