Perseverance

As I have been looking through my “started” list of articles, I found this one that was originally started on December 9, 2018–a year and a half ago. We’ve been in Williston six months now, but I’ll do a another post for that update. ~Tracy

One year ago today I woke up with my right side going numb.  Eventually even my scalp was numb from the center of my head all the way down on the right side, like when you get a shiver and it feels like your scalp shrinks. It was weird, annoying, and starting to get creepy because a similar thing had happened two years before on the left side.  As my readers know, this led to the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) on December 28, 2017.

A year.  A lot can happen in a year.

After my diagnosis Nolan and I decided we would move the family to Williston; we are finally doing that this week.  We have a buyer for our house–the home we’ve had for the last fifteen years and the place we’ve raised our children.  Although we thought (and hoped) it would sell sooner, we’ve actually needed this whole year to adjust to the reality of moving, of letting go, of trusting that this next step is the will of God.   It’s a good thing we are convinced this is His will because this move is going to be quite the change!

Our home since August 2004

We live a mile and a half (technically only 1/2 mile from the northern edge) from a town of 2000 people on three acres. We have a chicken coop, a little barn, a small shed, and a half-finished guesthouse (something we’ve dreamed of since staying in Uncle Don and Aunt Kathy’s guesthouse in Washington years ago).  We’ve raised chickens and pigs, had dogs, cats, and rabbits for pets, and cared for bottle lambs some years.  We’ve had a huge garden that people would drive past just to look at how it was coming along.  Over the years we’ve added trees and bushes to block wind, absorb excess water, provide food, and just for their beauty.

This house is where our six children have most of their memories and, for the youngest three, all of them.  Fort-building (both inside and outside), wagon rides, sledding, mattress sliding on the stairs, sword fights, real arguments, dolls, hammocks, zip line riding, biking, frisbee, and star tipping. There have been the homeschooling ups and downs. They’ve all taken piano lessons (and guitar for a couple), participated in Missoula Children’s Theater, worked part-time jobs, and been active in church.

For most of these years, we’ve had the Vandal family living across the road and the kids have met at the end of their long drive in the spring to play in the water-filled ditches. Vandal’s have been like cousins and the fun the kids have had over the years are sweet memories. The boys worked hard to make a trail through the slough and used it year-round for bikes, sleds, four-wheelers, and anything else they could think up. They would pull old mattresses (and once a couch!) behind the snowmobile! I’m sure I’ll hear some stories years from now that were the, “Don’t tell Mom!” ones.

It’s been hard to leave all that behind and move to what I encouragingly told the kids, “It’s like the Tardis–it’s bigger on the inside!” We’ve gone from three acres to a postage stamp yard with neighbors who share walls with us. It’s been a big change and we’re learning a lot about ourselves. And, really, that’s what happens when life has to change–we change and discover things about ourselves we never knew. But we know that, as James reassures us in 1:2:

My brothers and sisters,[b] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

We are trusting, and are sure, that this move will do just that for each of us. I look forward to the time when we’re able to look back and see, as God is able to see clearly now, that this move was a blessing to all of us, even through the tears.

Christmas, part 2

The second part of Christmas happened on Christmas Day and it was very exciting!  I got my ancestryDNA results!

AncestryDNAStory-Tracy-301217

WOW!  Not only do I have a heritage, it’s the COOLEST heritage there is!  Jewish!  I’ve always liked Jewish-sounding music (Hava Nagila being the only piano piece I can still play), but never thought it was anything other than just a love of the rhythm.

It turns out that there is an option on the ancestry.com site that I was able to opt in or out of my information being made available for making connections.  I opted out of that for now as I’m not ready to go that direction. Right now, it’s just enough to know where I come from.

Christmas, part 1

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Christmas this year has been a roller-coaster of a time, so I’m breaking it down into parts because, quite honestly, it’s the only way I can handle all that has happened.

On December 16 we received word that Nolan’s mom, Pauline, was in her final days. After a 50-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), her life on this earth was coming to an end.

Nolan had decided several days before that he wouldn’t make the trip to Kansas to try to see her again since we’d been there in August for her and Dad’s 60th anniversary. I called him that morning.

“Love, do you want to go?”
“Yeah, I really do.”
“Then you’d better get to the office and ask for time off.”
“I’m parked outside it now.”

Our son John, who works at the same company as Nolan, decided to go with him and the two of them left that day in hopes of making it there before she died.

They arrived on Sunday the 17th and saw Mom and Dad at the care home in Kingman where they were living. They were able to see and talk to Mom. Mom had been unable to really talk for several days, but the one thing she could still say was, “I love you.” When Nolan and John hugged her, she whispered it to them, too.

That evening at Terry’s they helped answer questions for the obituary and talked about funeral arrangements while they waited for another brother to arrive.

The next day the siblings who could be there were back at the care home. Nolan and John planned to leave the next day as Mom was expected to last a few days longer. While they were looking through some photo albums in the sitting room, Dad walked in and said, “Mom stopped breathing.”

That quickly, in those few moments while Dad was looking down reading something, the room had gone quiet and, looking up, he realized she wasn’t breathing. Quietly, peacefully, and without pain, she was gone.

Mom’s funeral was December 23rd with most of the family here for it. The family service Friday night and the funeral on Saturday were testimony to the love and dedication of Mom and Dad to one another for all of the 60+ years of their marriage. Dad’s loving care of Mom for all these years has been nothing short of heroic. As Mom would so often observe, many spouses of MS sufferers leave them, unable to cope with the growing disabilities of their mate. Such a thought never entered Dad’s mind. He and Mom were just as much in love on the last day as they had been on their wedding day.

At times like these it is appropriate that people express their sympathies at our loss and we certainly agree. Mom’s death has left a huge hole in our world. But our sorrow is tempered with relief that her pain is finally at an end. She is now free! Free from this world and its sorrows; free from the pain of MS; free from living with the effects of sin in the world. So, although we cry when we think of our memories that are never to be repeated, we rejoice at the thought of her finally with Jesus, her Savior and Lord.

And, so, the first part of Christmas 2017 was a reminder of why Jesus came–to conquer death. Mom is now living that reality.