In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

At Our House Today

Filed under: Family,Me,Poetry — Rachel at 10:52 pm on Monday, July 14, 2014

My day today was very reminiscent of a different time in my life.

Today, I didn’t have six kids, but only the four I gave birth to. My day moved just like days past. Like there had not been a divorce and a lover and a breakup and a marriage and a new family.

There was just me. And my babies. And the slow comfortable way we move around each other.

There was the food we like and hugs and kisses. There was a long, uninterrupted conversation in the kitchen while I cooked.

There was snuggles in my bed in the morning and at night. And a bedtime story and prayers.

And it was all so much like it used to be.

Except they’re older. And I’m a different me. And our “we” was not complete.

 

My Birthday Post

Filed under: Abby Jo,Birthdays,Family,Friends,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 1:34 pm on Sunday, July 13, 2014

My birthday this year turned out to be the best ever. Matthew worked really hard to make it special for me.

On the 2nd, Matt arranged to have our small group meet at Roane County Park to celebrate my birthday. We grilled burgers and hot dogs. The kids played at the splash pad. Matt made me an absolutely delicious triple chocolate cake, and even had candles for me to blow out. Everyone sang to me. It really is the simple things in life that make you feel so loved. After we ate cake, we went swimming in the lake. I had so much fun swimming with Matt, and jumping off the dock with him and the kiddos. It was a great day.

birthdaycake

 

On the 4th, my actual birthday, Matt had arranged a surprise party for me at our house with our families. I found out about the party a couple days before, but Matt took care of everything. It was the first time that me, my parents, and all five of my brothers have been at the same place at the same time in a very long time. I even got to see my brother, Aaron, who I hadn’t seen in over a year. Matt invited everyone, grilled the burgers and hot dogs, asked my mom to make me a cake, and made sure everyone was happy. My mom asked me what kind of cake or pie I wanted, so I requested the cake that she used to make for me when I was a kid. It is so good, and was very nostalgic.

flag cake

 

One thing that was very fun for me was that my little brothers, Lucas and Seth, brought their guitar and drum set to play. We had learned the basics of “Don’t Stop Believing” in the couple of days before the party, and we played it together…Luke on guitar, Seth on drums, and me on piano. I’m pretty sure we drove everyone else crazy, but we had so much fun. Before everyone got there, we even sang a bunch of old hymns together. It was nice.

After a couple hours of hanging out and eating, we all loaded up and went to Kingston Park to watch the fireworks. This is my one family tradition that has been the same nearly every year since I was a young teenager. Last year, the fireworks got rained out, and we didn’t go. Every other year, though, we have been down at the lake to watch the show. It was exciting for me this year to share that experience with Matt, Hailey, and Logan, as well as Matt’s parents.

I don’t know if it was just that I am generally happier right now than I have ever been in my life or if it was because it was the first birthday with Matt and he worked so hard to make it special for me, but I can honestly say this was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I felt loved and celebrated, and I got to spend it with all the people that mean the most to me.

me,matt,fourthofjuly rachmattlyingingrass abby,matt,grammy

Matt, Abby, and Alice (aka Grammy…Matt’s mom.)

mammy,kyra,haile

Mammy, Kyra, and Hailey waiting for the fireworks to start.

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This one is of Owen, Abby, and Logan climbing on Papaw John’s back.

 

Bucket List for my 31st Year

Filed under: Birthdays,Me — Rachel at 1:54 pm on Thursday, July 3, 2014

I’m thinking a lot about the typical things one might think about when their birthday rolls around. Well, if one is me, these are the typical things one might think about. I think about how I’ve grown as a person in the previous year of my life. About new experiences I’ve had. New friends I’ve made and new relationships started. I also think about the coming year, and what I want to accomplish and become.

So, in that spirit, I’ve created a bucket list of:

31 things I want to do while I’m 31

  1. Graduate from nursing school.
  2. Pass the NCLEX.
  3. Finish my novel.
  4. Go on a belated honeymoon with Matthew.
  5. Institute and maintain a date night every single week with my man.
  6. Take a different kid on a date once a month. (With six kids, it works out perfectly. I’ll get to take each kid out twice in the coming year.)
  7. Go on a family camping trip.
  8. Write more poetry.
  9. Exercise at least five days a week, every week.
  10. Go to the beach.
  11. Try a food I’ve never tried before.
  12. Go fishing.
  13. Go skinny dipping.
  14. Record a memory for every day of the year.
  15. Take more photographs with a real camera.
  16. Start an IV on an actual patient.
  17. Make out with my husband under a waterfall.
  18. Go on an overnight hike with Matt.
  19. Read at least one book a month during my school year.
  20. Buy a real Christmas tree.
  21. Run two miles.
  22. Visit a city I’ve never been to before.
  23. Go to an art museum.
  24. Plant a vegetable garden next summer.
  25. Blog five days a week.
  26. Learn to cook a new meal.
  27. Send out Christmas cards.
  28. Spend more time with mine and Matt’s families.
  29. Learn to play soccer.
  30. Pray more often.
  31. Stop cussing.

So, I Write

Filed under: Faith,Me,Writing — Rachel at 10:40 pm on Sunday, June 22, 2014

I am a writer. I always have been, and I always will be. Writing is the only creative outlet I have. I am not crafty at all, and I’m not particularly musically inclined. However, I have always been very comfortable with a pen in my hand. I process my emotions and experiences by writing about them. For the last nine and a half years or so, I’ve done that, to some extent, through this blog.

I have written here about some of the most difficult things I’ve ever went through. I’ve written about loss and heartache. I’ve chronicled my journey out of a very small existence into a much bigger world. I’ve made people mad because of things I’ve written. Not intentionally, but, when you challenge the belief system and worldview that people have given you, they don’t always appreciate that. I’ve tried to be transparent about areas I’ve struggled in, because I believe that having the courage to name your demons takes away their power. I also believe that feeling alone in  your struggles weakens your ability to overcome them. My hope in writing about hard topics like depression, self-harm, etc. was that someone else would read my story and feel less alone. I know that, at least on a small scale, it worked. I’ve had people email me privately several times and tell me that I have helped them in some way. That was all the encouragement I needed to keep being honest.

I felt compelled to write about things that were hard to write. I felt a deep sense of urgency to say things I felt like other people were afraid to say. I worried about what people would think about me. I worried about being misunderstood. To be quite honest, I was right to worry. I’ve recently had someone come after me publicly because of what I have written over the years on this blog. They tried to convince people that I am a bad person…somehow dangerous to my children/stepchildren. It hurt. A lot. I cried, and I regretted ever saying anything out loud. I didn’t understand why this person felt like I was fair game in their own personal war. I had never done anything to them. I had barely ever even spoken to them. However, they attempted to publicly humiliate me, using my own words as a weapon against me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider taking this whole blog down. After a few days, though, the fight rose up inside of me, and I decided I wouldn’t let someone who didn’t even know me shame me into silence. I wrote about painful things because I felt like God wanted me to. I felt like I was following his leading when I wrote those things, and I wasn’t going to let someone who only wanted to use me as a pawn steal that from me.

Life is hard. It’s messy, and it’s complicated. We do our best, but we make mistakes. We do stupid things. Sometimes we learn from them; sometimes we just suffer from them. Sometimes, we are able to share what we’ve learned with someone else, and that redeems some of the pain. Writing about my life and my pain has been therapeutic for me, but it’s also been the impetus for my own personal growth. I don’t want to go through things in vain. I want some meaning to come out of it. So, I write.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my former pastors, Larry and Carolyn. We spent a while catching up, and then I told Carolyn that I needed her help in finding some direction. Anyone who has read my blog for very long knows that I’ve been struggling hard with my faith. I was making myself crazy before I started nursing school, but then school distracted me. Nursing was taking all of my mental energy, and so it forced me into a hiatus from grappling with my theology. That was a very good thing, I think. I needed to rest from it. Now, I’m ready to take up the burden again, and I’m going to take up the metaphorical pen as well. Because I am a writer, and this is how I grow. While talking with Carolyn yesterday, I felt very impressed with the idea that I am supposed to continue publicly wrestling here. Yes, people may take me to task. They may say mean things about me, and they may throw their rocks. I have to write, though.

I have to write, because it’s where my direction lies. I feel like this is how I am going to find, maybe not answers, but meaning. So, I write.

Hello, Summer!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Family,Kids,Logan,Me,Photos,School — Rachel at 8:43 am on Monday, May 12, 2014

I did it! I finished my first year of Nursing School. I can’t quite express how happy I am about that. It’s such a relief to have passed, and it’s just as relieving to simply get a break. I am burned out, to say the least. I did manage to finish both classes this semester with a B. So, I’m pretty happy with that. I’m totally thrilled to not have to think about it too much again until August.

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Me, with my last clinical group and our instructor.

Now, I’m trying to focus on the wedding. It’s only 12 days away now! We have almost everything taken care of. At this point, we just have to finish making a few small purchases for the reception and the ceremony. Other than that, we mostly just have to wait till the day of and the day before to set things up. We went the other day and got our marriage license. I’m getting awfully close to becoming Mrs. Holbrook!

marriagelicense

The kids still have two weeks of school left. They are ready for summer. I am, too. I am excited about getting to stay home with them this summer and for all the things we are going to get to do together. I went last week and registered Abby and Logan for kindergarten. That was definitely bittersweet. It’s exciting that they are growing and getting to do new things, but it’s sad that the littlest ones are going to be in school, too. It’s such a cliche’, but they just grow up way too fast.

AbbyLogan

We are needing to start moving Matt’s stuff into the house, but we’ve hit a bit of a roadblock. We bought new carpet for the den and one of the upstairs bedrooms. The night before it was supposed to be installed, I found water damage in two corners. Turns out, the people who finished the basement (sometime before we bought the house thirteen years ago) didn’t seal the cement block wall before they installed paneling over it. The wood behind the paneling was rotted. So, Matt and I had to rip that out this weekend. We were going to try to just patch it back up with some new paneling, but we couldn’t find any that matched. We decided to put drywall up in the entire room, since we were wanting to do that eventually anyway. So, we’ve got the wainscoting and chair rail torn out, and we bought the drywall and supplies yesterday after church. We are going to start putting the drywall up tonight. It’s not ideal timing, but we are trying to get it done this week so we can get the carpet installed. I’m so thankful to have a man who says my problems are his problems and wants to help me. I don’t know what I would do without him.

It’s a hectic start to my summer break, but it will let up soon. A couple more weeks and the project will be finished and we will be married. My biggest concern will be getting all of Matt’s stuff moved to our house and keeping the kids busy and entertained. I have a long list of books to read and backyard, hammock naps to take. This is going to be a very good summer!

A God Better Than Me

Filed under: Bible,Faith,Me — Rachel at 11:22 am on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One of the things I struggle with the most lately in regard to God and religion is a sense of justice. I am a compassionate person. I feel like this is one of my best qualities. I am very empathetic. Maybe too much so at times. This is how I end up with pregnant teenagers or addicted young adults living in my basement. This is how I end up giving large (for me) sums of money to homeless guys. This is how I find myself washing the walls in the home of an elderly man I had never met before. I think to myself, what if it was me? What if it was my child? They need help. Generally, I try to help people if it is in my power to do so.

I struggle a lot with the idea that everything is within God’s power to do so. He could heal every cancer, fill every hungry belly, and defeat every evil power. He could. Why doesn’t he?

This “why” torments me. Why does he allow such suffering. I know the party line, Christian answer. Sin, free will, etc. etc. None of that can explain away the part about God being the author of all. If he is omniscient and all powerful, he knew what his creation would become. He had the power to alter that. He wrote the whole story! Why? I also know the part about the desire to glorify himself. I just don’t understand it. He made up all the rules. It doesn’t have to be this way. But it is. And I dont’ understand how a compassionate God could allow it to be this way.

As a small child, grappling with the ideas of an eternal hell and a God that created it and sends people there, I had a lot of questions that were too big for me. I remember asking, “How could God send someone to Hell who had never heard about Him? How could he be punished for not choosing to follow a Christ he never knew existed?” The myopic answer was, “Well, dear. He told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. It’s our job to tell those people about him. That’s why it’s so important.” I’d like to go back in time and say, “Bullshit!” I want to say, “That’s not fair.” Maybe they would have tried a little harder with me. Maybe I could have jumpstarted my questioning earlier in life. Because that is a really effed up system. It’s not that bad if you are on this side of the equation. We just have to pray about our part in “God’s will” for evangelization. If we don’t feel personally “called” to go tell the poor schmuck in the darkest reaches of Africa that Jesus exists and will send him straight to Hell after they starve to death at the end of a miserable life fraught with violence and poverty, well, we can just pray for those who are called and send some money when we feel so led. Maybe a couple of times in our life we can raise money to take ourselves on a two week mission trip. We just need to be earnest and passionate about doing what we can in our own little worlds to share the gospel. This side of the equation is no big deal. Plug  yourself into the other side, though. How would you like to be that mother in Darfur? You’re only seventeen years old. You have two children. They’re both slowly dying of malnutrition. You can no longer nurse the baby because you are starving to death yourself. Oh, and, you don’t know it, but you are HIV positive after that time you were raped walking to get water last year. Death seems almost like a relief to you. Except for, oh,  yeah. You’ve never heard the name of Jesus before, and no one has of yet felt “called” to put their own life at risk to trek over here and tell you that you have to confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Son of God. So, you slowly and painfully exit a life of misery to lift up your eyes in hell?

What kind of God is that? What kind of God comes up with such a broken system? This is what I have been taught to believe. I reject it, though! I do! How can a loving God punish people eternally for not knowing him? I would not do that. I would not hold people accountable for something they had no awareness of. I wouldn’t do that because I have compassion for them. I hear a story about them and my heart breaks and I love them. If I can feel that way…me…a mere mortal who has proven to be selfish and foolish and even mean…how can the God who claims to actually be love do that? I need a God that is better than I am.

Do you hear what I am saying? I am going crazy over this. I need a God who is good and kind and compassionate, infinitely  more so than myself. I need to know that God. I don’t like this God who punishes the innocent because of some inborn sin nature. Not when he was the very one who created the whole scenario.

I don’t know how my theology needs to change for me to be able to love God again. Believe that Hell doesn’t exist? Believe in some sort of universalism that says we all get Heaven in the end? He created us with the capacity to know and value justice and righteousness and compassion and love. I have to believe that He is all those things, and that what I feel is a reflection of that. I have to believe that I was just taught something that is not true. Because it can’t be true.

It can’t be true because I need a God who is better than me.

 

On The Bible

Filed under: Faith,Me — Rachel at 10:22 pm on Friday, August 9, 2013

I am lost. I am lost, and I find myself in a very peculiar place. In the past, anytime I found that I had strayed too far from God, I knew the answer to my problem. It was the Bible. Go and read the Bible, and you’ll find your way back. That’s a fantastic answer until it doesn’t work anymore.

I am a person who has a lot of questions. I’m not afraid to ask them, either. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes the questioning costs me more than I bargain for. Both of those things seem true in this situation.

I had a lot of questions about the Bible. How did we get the Bible as we have it today? How do we know that what we have is what God intended for us to have? Who gets to decide what is Scripture? How do we read and interpret it consistently? I asked these questions and many more. Then I did some research. I read a lot of books. I started researching the Bible a couple of years ago, so I don’t remember the names of all the books I read. The one that had the biggest effect on me was called “The Canon of Scripture” by F.F. Bruce. It was a good book. I reviewed it here on my blog after I read it.

What my research gave to me was a better understanding of how we came to have the Bible we have today. What it did not give me was peace or satisfactory answers. Questions became doubts. I know a lot of people are afraid of asking questions for this very reason. They don’t want to have doubts about their faith. They like having answers without having to ask questions. This doesn’t work for me. I would rather have doubts and questions than best guesses disguised as truth.

I guess what I ended up with was a lot of doubts concerning the authority of Scripture. For some Christians, this wouldn’t be as troubling to them as it is to me. However, the churches that I was brought up in practically worship the Bible. They sing songs about it. They memorize it in bulk. They propose that it is almost miraculous in its lack of contradictions (which, I hate to tell you, is a preposterous assertion). Preachers tell stories about kissing the pages. Children are taught to adore it. They believe in the Bible. They believe it is the last word on any argument. It is quite literally the foundation of their faith. It was the foundation of mine.

Things have changed for me, though. I don’t view the Bible in the same way I was brought up to view it. I can’t. The things that I have learned have forever changed the way I read the Bible. For instance, if I know that a certain book barely made it into the canon and there was much argument against its inclusion, my mind gives that book less weight than, say, the Gospels. If I read passages that seem misogynistic or supportive of some atrocity such as slavery, I ask myself, “Do I really believe this passage reflects the character of God as I know it?” If it doesn’t, I refuse to accept it.

I know some of you are probably horrified to read what I am saying. I understand. Really, I do. There’s just no going back for me. I can’t unlearn what I have learned.

So, on an intellectual level, I have a hard time finding solace in the Scripture like I used to. I hesitate to find guidance from certain passages like I used to. For a long time, I just stopped reading the Bible. I couldn’t get out of my head long enough to feel anything in my heart. I felt betrayed, to be quite honest. Like I had been sold a bill of goods. Therefore, I felt pretty lost. I still do.

I find myself now overcome with the desire to find God again. I just don’t know what that’s going to look like. I was despondent over the idea that I don’t know how to be a Christian without thinking that every word of the Bible is authoritative. I just can’t keep doing mental gymnastics to try to fit passages that seem to fly in the face of the God revealed elsewhere in the Bible and to my own heart into my worldview. For instance, for a year or two, I was trying to understand Calvinism. I was even embracing it. It made me angry with God to start with. Friends that I discussed it with just flat out refused to accept that it could even be a possibility. The main point of contention was the idea that the God they knew and loved could create a person with the intent to send them to Hell (Romans 9). For me, though, I believed that the Bible should be taken literally for the most part, and, as such, I had to accept the parts I didn’t like with the ones I did. If a passage seemed to misrepresent the God I knew, I assumed I didn’t understand it well enough or I had misunderstood God’s nature. The end result was that I had basically lost my love for God. I still believed in Him. I just didn’t love Him like I used to. He seemed cruel to me. Now, thankfully, I don’t feel the need to interpret the Bible so literally or stringently.

I’ve talked about this subject with several people who I believe know and love God. Men and women of various religious persuasions. I think the idea that I’ve come away with is that I should read the Bible aided by the Holy Spirit. I believe that, as I read, His Spirit will testify with my spirit and show me the truth. The parts that resonate I will hold on to. The parts that make me love Him and desire Him I will cling to for all I’m worth. I won’t worship a book anymore. I want to learn how to worship Him. I want to learn how to let Him speak directly to me. I will respect and love the Bible. I will view it as Christianity’s sacred texts—the best efforts of good men who loved God but wrote from inside their own experiences. I will search the Scripture and ask God to guide me to the truth. . Because I have been very lost, and I need Him to guide me back home.

Back on the Crazy Couch

Filed under: Faith,Me,Music,Videos — Rachel at 10:42 pm on Monday, August 5, 2013

I am determined to write tonight, but it’s so hard to focus on one thing to write about. There is an overabundance of ideas swirling around in my head. I need to just snatch one out and decide to start with it.

Ok. Here goes…

I went to see my therapist last week for the first time in well over a year. I really appreciated all the time I spent sitting in Dr. P’s office. She was just the right counselor for me. She helped me work through a lot of issues over the span of a couple of years. I hated not being able to go to counseling anymore after I got divorced and lost my insurance, but I was really so much better off than when I started. I was just grateful that I was able to talk to her during my divorce. Going to see her last week was a huge deal. I recently got health insurance again. (It was required to be in the nursing program.) It actually went into effect on the day I saw Dr. P, but it isn’t the best insurance and doesn’t cover mental health. So, I had to suck it up and pay out of pocket to talk with her. I really needed help getting some clarity, though.

I don’t know what I wanted Dr. P to tell me when I was there, but I know I was hoping for something concrete. I had been struggling so much with everything that I had been dealing with recently. My relationships were dreadfully confusing. Both my relationship with Amy and a new relationship with a guy I had been dating had me running around in mental circles. I sat down on Dr. P’s couch and started recapping the last year and a half as quickly as I could. I filled her in on the year Amy and I were a couple, our breakup, my dating experiences with the three different guys I had went out with, and the way my world reacted to all of those things. I told her I needed help figuring things out. I was very confused.

She told me one thing right off the bat: I make things into a bigger deal than they actually are. Guilty. I know it’s true.

We talked back and forth for a while about why I felt the way I did about certain issues. I told her my problems with church and God. I told her about things that had happened to me while I was with Amy, and the hurt that came with those things. I tried very hard to make it clear to her what I was dealing with.

Then she told me what she thought I needed to do. She told me the one thing I didn’t want to hear. She told me that I need to find my faith again, I need to pray, and I need to accept that God loves me. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted her to give me some simple steps that I could take to make my life better.

Some of you with deeper faiths than mine are probably thinking, “What’s so hard about praying?” I don’t know how well I could explain it to you, but it’s something I struggle with. I think I spend too much time in my head. I analyze things to death. I over-think them. I have been accused twice in the last week of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That is probably true to some extent. I just feel like I have been misled so much in my life, and I don’t trust anyone or anything. I am a skeptic. If I were Catholic, my patron saint would probably be Doubting Thomas.

I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this post yet. I am pretty much in the same spot I was when she gave me the advice. I feel like what she told me I needed to do was good advice. I need to reconnect with God and feel his presence in my life. I’m still struggling to work that out. As some sort of confirmation to me that she had pointed me toward the right path, when I got into my car to leave, I turned on the radio and the song that was playing was “Pray” by Sanctus Real. It reminded me of when Amy and I were first friends and every song that came on just happened to say exactly what I needed to hear. Amy and I called it “The Divine D.J.”.

Maybe I should just call this an introductory post. I have much more to say on the topic, and so much to discover. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

 

 

I Want to Write

Filed under: Me,Writing — Rachel at 12:13 am on Sunday, August 4, 2013

I have so many things to say. My mind is constantly racing with things that I want to say. I want to tell people stuff. I just want to write it down so people will know. I don’t know why I am compelled to write. I have spent my life pouring my thoughts into journals and poetry and stories. I write essays and letters. I cannot help myself.

Maybe it is a desire to leave a mark. To somehow set down in stone my existence. I spend so much of my time feeling insignificant. Writing makes me feel connected. If just one person reads my words, we have connected. I have crossed space and time and put my thoughts into someone else’s brain. Once there, it is their’s to do with as they please. But, for a moment, I get to have my say.

And I have so many things to say.

I want to write on this blog and tell my truth to anyone who wants to read it. To say that I am here. I have a heart and a mind and I bleed red blood. I want to talk back to those that mistreat me. I want to explain to those I’ve confused. I just want to get all of these jumbled thoughts out of my head.

I want to write here, but I am scared. I am scared of the repercussions of saying who I am. I’m afraid of the rocks that may get flung my way. I know that I am strong enough, but I have to decide if I am brave enough.

Maybe these words are just the pebble thrown into a pond. They don’t amount to much, but they break the surface tension and send out ripples that reach much further than the point of impact.

These words are just the beginning, because I have so many things to say.

Now We Are Thirty

Filed under: Birthdays,Family,Me — Rachel at 4:41 pm on Friday, July 5, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned thirty. Thirty! It seems so ridiculous.

I had simultaneously dreaded turning thirty and looked forward to my thirtieth birthday at the same time for the last year or so. Amy and I talked about her throwing me a birthday party. We would have friends come over and have a good time. Then we broke up, and that kind of died. I was only dreading my birthday. No fun celebration. Just reaching a dreaded milestone.

So I planned to take my kids and go on a camping trip with my parents and brothers. Then the rain came. For days it has done nothing but rain. The one thing I always do on my birthday is go watch Fireworks at the lake in Kingston, since my birthday happens to be on the Fourth of July. This year, though, for the first time that I can remember, they cancelled the Fireworks. I cannot even possibly tell you how sad I was yesterday morning.

Nothing happened the way I imagined it. Amy and I weren’t a couple anymore. There was no party. My kids were at their dad’s. It was gray and gloomy and raining. No fireworks. No friends. No presents. No cards. I admit, I laid in bed and cried.

But. (So glad there’s a “but” to this story.) But then Chris brought my kids home. He was still at the house, sitting in the living room chatting with me and Amy, when someone knocked on my door. It was my mom. She stopped on her way home from camping at the lake to tell us that they had packed everything up early and headed home because of the rain. She said they were all grilling burgers and hot dogs at my brother’s house that evening. Suddenly, it went from a horrible day with nothing to do because of the rain to a metaphorical parting of the clouds.

Me, Amy, and my kids went up to my brother’s house. We hung out with my family. We ate burgers. We played cards. Two of my brothers beat the crap out of me. (Birthday spankings are no joke when you are frickin’ thirty!) Strangely enough, we spent over an hour singing. We were playing cards, and I randomly started singing “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” while I was dealing. My mom joined in with me, and then my brothers and sister-in-law and Amy. We sang song after song. Lucas went and got his guitar. We mostly sang church songs, but I must admit we sang “Friends In Low Places”, “Ice, Ice Baby” and “Baby Got Back”, too. Shh. Don’t tell. It wasn’t something that we have done before, but it was actually really fun. After we sang, we had a delicious ice cream cake that my sister-in-law, Misty, made for me. I went home with a smile on my face and some really good memories.

It wasn’t what I had been looking forward to for a year, but, even without cards or presents or lots of friends, my birthday was redeemed, despite the torrential rains. I had my family, my kids, and my very best friend with me, and, dang it, we had a good time.

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