Saturday, October 19, 2019

The goodness of God

There is a song, "Goodness of God" by Jenn Johnson that I play over and over on Spotify. The lyrics sing to and soothe my soul:

I love Your voice:
You have led me through the fire,
and in darkest night you are close like no other.
I've known you as a Father,
I've known you as a Friend,
And I have lived in the goodness of God.

My one and only post of 2018, in January, declared that family and faith would make it an amazing year. How overly confident and presumptuous, because in many ways, 2018 was an absolute disaster. Then again, it was a triumph in how God showed His goodness to me. 

In April 2018 I suddenly entered a series of scary, painful, and life-threatening health issues. From a kidney stone, to septic shock due to medical negligence, to an infected knee requiring surgery to flush it and 21 stitches to close it, I endured a physically miserable summer. The unknown world of home health care, the E.R. and I.C.U., infectious disease doctors, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapy, and prescription meds became the norm. I had no energy, no appetite (except for coconut cream pie!), no focus for reading, and a lousy attitude. Bill and Katie took over all my household tasks, the family I work for showed grace as I healed, and our extended and church family supported us. I absolutely hated being so dependent.

The spring and summer days slid by and bed became my retreat from constant pain, from the reminders of my limitations. Every step, every turn of my body, even standing to make eggs and toast, were reminders of my weakness. Some days it took me to a dark place of self-pity.

To add insult to all the injuries, the avalanche of medical bills began. Because of the nature of my insurance and the fact of several hospital stays, doctors, and surgeons, we were soon tangled in an indecipherable web of bills, statements, and phone calls that took a full ten months to completely sort out. It was, truly, almost worse than all the physical healing.

And yet. Now, with almost all of it behind us, I see much more clearly. Could God have prevented the sepsis? Yes, I believe He could. Instead, He used it as an opportunity to draw my family and me closer to Him. God doesn't "give us only what we can handle," quite the opposite. He allows trials that we cannot handle, that are far too big and hard and painful for us, so that He will be shown strong in our very weakness. 

I had a 50% chance of living or dying that April weekend and only now, more than a year later, do I see the goodness of God in sparing me. I've always been a stubborn rebel at heart, self-sufficient and for many years not thinking I needed God. "Thanks, God, but I've got this." Well I didn't have it last year, and in my darkest moments I realized it with clarity. Not only did I need a physical rescue, I needed a spiritual rescue as well. 

'Cause your goodness is running after, it's running after me.
With my life laid down, I'm surrendered now, I give you everything.

I had no choice but to give God everything. The pain, the fear, the depression, the mounting bills. It was so very hard, but it was so good. His goodness ran after me and showed me His big love through a big rescue. Is life perfect? No. We are still stumbling financially a bit, and I will probably never chase my grandchildren like I used to. But in that, a greater good has come: eyes to see God's goodness. 

And all my life You have been faithful.
And all my life You have been so, so good.
With every breath that I am able,
oh I will sing of the goodness of God!

Had I succumbed to sepsis, would God still be good? Why do children die and mothers get cancer? Why did my friend's teen desert her family? Where is God when Alzheimer's derails retirement plans? Even the most faith-filled cannot know. But in the book of James, we are told to "Consider it joy [JOY!] when you face trials ... because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work  so that you may be mature and complete ..." [That is, complete in Christ.] (James 1:2-4) WOW I go back to this passage time and again. So much there.

I sense a quiet stirring in my spirit. I am almost 65 (yay, Medicare!) and I think God has more for me. I am excited for what lies ahead.  

Even if tomorrow is my last day, I have seen the goodness of God. And it is enough.

Ten little Indians! Now there are 11, since the arrival of Jude William last month.
L to R: Jake, Ari, Noah, Ethan, Peter, Jordan, Lily, Maddie, Ashlyn, and
I'm holding Simon.  (Photo by Katie Haller)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year!

So this is where we were just before Christmas: we all gathered at a big rental house in South Carolina (glad the weather didn't match this week's!). What a wild and wonderful time! A lot of food was brought and enjoyed, diapers changed (actually, only two in diapers!), kayaks paddled, and even a sunny morning spent on Hilton Head.
Everyone headed to their own homes for Christmas, our Christmas cards turned into New Year's cards, and Dan and Jenny took off for Switzerland while Katie and I split childcare with Jenny's parents.
All that to say, it was a FULL December!
Yesterday was my birthday ~~ all I have to do is look at these
photos and my heart bursts with thankfulness.
I don't need anything -- it's all right here in these faces of my sons and daughters and nine -
very soon to be (next month) TEN - grandchildren.
I am exceedingly, abundantly, non-deservedly blessed!
Bill is challenging me to pick up blogging again this year, so I will try.
I'd love you to stop in as you sip your coffee in the morning.
Coffee, the written word, and 10 grandchildren: I can't think of a better recipe for an amazing 2018!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Welcome, Simon!

Dear Simon,
You're here! You came into the world on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 just after 6:30 a.m.
The previous couple of weeks were downright crazy!
Your mom and dad evacuated St. Petersburg just a week before your due date because Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the Gulf Coast. They went to stay with your other grandparents on the east coast of Florida and even made the news!
No power at your house when they returned: they had to stay in an apartment for a few nights. Whew, glad you waited: so considerate of you!
Once your mom started labor (3+ days before you arrived), we all waited anxiously.
Then again, babies can't be rushed so you stayed cozy until the situation
called for a C-section and out you came: big and beautiful and perfect!
Big babies are out of my experience: to me, you look much older than you are!
But all that's important is you and mommy are healthy.
 And daddy is intact! (-;
Speaking of daddy, I remember one Christmas when my kids were all home.
They were college and high school age.
We went around the table, answering a hope we each had in life.
David said, and I remember this clearly because it became a prayer for me,
"I hope to be a dad someday."
And so he is, because of your mommy and you.
Simon, you can count on your dad to be the best.
He's hard-working, caring, loving, generous, and very very funny.
He'll probably teach you to play baseball and drink coffee.
I pray he will point you to your heavenly father who's REALLY the best dad ...
but your earthly daddy will be amazing.
Your mommy will love, protect, cheer for, challenge, teach, clean up, and cry over you. Endlessly. She will love you with a big love and I want you to be kind and gentle with her.
Learn to obey your parents in the Lord. It will bring you peace.

I love you, Simon! I'll see you in a few weeks ... and cannot wait to be your loving

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Hey everyone!
It was a full summer ... several trips north and south and here and there ...
but it wasn't so full that I should have neglected to write about the
granddaughter who arrived in June. Goodness what in the world?!
In no way does this mean I take these babes for granted ...
oh I'm so amazed by them all.
Madelyn Annette Haller came quickly just past midnight on Saturday, June 3.
 Jill and Mark are her amazing parents and she's also loved by three siblings:
big sister Lily, 5 and brothers Ethan, 4 and Peter, 2.
She's a happy, happy girl which is a great and helpful attribute for
a fourth child!
Maddie, by Jill ... August 2017
Katie and I scurried up to Virginia to lend our hands and shoot some photos.
Jill, always onto the next thing, came home 24 hours later and
we all went to church that morning! Oy!
They are doing great: schooling, working, nature group-ing and playing outside endless hours.
The boys get asked if they're twins. I think the day is coming when the
three oldest will be mistaken for triplets!
I was going to to dovetail right into our next baby, but I think
I'll wait a day and give him his own post.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Where there is a thankful spirit, there is joy.

Oh dear, what in the world?? My blog posts have played hide-and-go-seek these many months. Can't tell you how many times I've printed in all CAPS on my to do lists: BLOG, to no avail. Gah!!

I continue to write for Heart of Ohio Magazine. The kind folks there kept me on board. Check out our beautiful magazine! Better yet, treat yourself to a subscription!

This week I'll make a stab back here on the blog. It's spring break from my school job. I appreciate you readers who have asked or said you miss my posts.

The past year has been amazing, in good ways and hard. How can anyone know exactly how a big life move will play out? Living in the same city as half our family is wonderful, as imagined. And living more central to all the kids proves the move from Ohio to North Carolina was right. We've made trips to Florida and Virginia (kids and grandkids both directions) and of course spend time with the kids/grandkids here.

Thanksgiving weekend 2016

I LOVE the weather in North Carolina. Spring comes with the calendar, none of that snow in April nonsense! We have a lovely front porch, perfect for morning coffee and afternoon reading. Hot summers, yes, but in college I lived in tents at Girl Scout camps in Tennessee and Florida ... THAT was hot. We can take day trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway and breathe in the mountains. Spectacular.

What I didn't fully anticipate was the difficulty of adjusting to a large, new city (even though we'd visited Dan and Jenny here for eight years, I didn't really learn the city), where to shop, friends, church, routines, and well, just EVERYTHING changed. At our age it's just harder than when you're young or have kids around to light your fire.

I spent a few months seeking part-time jobs and finally landed one which began after Thanksgiving. That's what seems to have anchored me a bit. I'm a reading tutor in a public elementary school and while learning all the pieces of the job was a challenge, the stretching has been so, so good. I work with some amazing women who are passionate about helping kids read, write and understand better. I love being part of a little army of encouragers to some kids who need it.

We've had some houseguests throughout the year: friends and family stopping over on trips north or south. Fun!

If there's one thing I'd do differently as a wife/mother/woman, it would have been to keep up a career of some sort. Yes, God makes my way but I believe He has something more beyond mothering and grandmothering and at this age it was extremely hard to find a niche where I can use my gifts.

Our quiver continues to fill: grandchild #8 is due in June (Mark and Jill's fourth) and #9 in September (David and Chelsea's first)! I'm excited to have the summer off for a change of pace although I doubt the pace will slow down. And really? I don't want to slow down because at my age I may not get moving again!

So that's where I am. Bill is driving for Uber and he's amazing at it! He needs to keep a journal because he comes home with hilarious and interesting stories from the road.

Perhaps the best lessons the past year have come through the hardships. I've learned gratefulness in the very hardest things because that's when I stretch, grow, and lean more on God and His faithfulness.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is
God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

100 years


Elizabeth Haller: our mom, Grandma, "GG" was born 100 years ago today. She charmed everyone who knew her by her humility, laughter and sense of humor, and the way she held so loosely to the things of earth. She left us last December and how we miss her wonderful spirit. Happy birthday, Mom. We love you!

Friday, August 26, 2016

summing up summer

Good grief in five days it'll be September. This means I haven't posted ALL SUMMER which is lame if you ask me. But our new life has me still unsettled and ... I don't write well when unsettled. I'll try to sum up the summer.

We headed back to Ohio soon after my last post: dear friend and neighbor, Steve Johnson, died in early June. Such a fighter. I was thankful to sit with his wife Siobhan on their back porch for a bit, sharing our hearts and tears. We helped each other as young moms and Siobhan is the closest friend I have to lose her husband. I realize, obviously, the brevity of life, but also that we're entering the season of life when friends lose spouses.

We learned later in June that the buyer of our cabin demolished it. We figure it was his plan all along, a plan he'd revealed to no one, especially not us nor the realtor. While we knew this would probably happen someday, it was a real gut-punch to know someone valued that piece of property (the size and view) a whole lot more than the historic little cottage. And you know how special it was to us.

Only now am I beginning to feel a bit more comfortable here, JUST a bit. The adjustments are huge. Like who'll cut my hair (it's real!), where's the nearest library (in Delaware it's just "where's the library?" because there's only one), grocery store decisions (no Kroger in sight: this is still disturbing to me but I'm dealing), how to fit everything in a much smaller house (daughter Katie moved back home with us; that upped the 'stuff' factor), and navigating my way around (in our area of Charlotte, plus Dan and Jenny's area of Harrisburg): figuring out routes but also becoming an assertive city driver in the incredible traffic.

I know God brought us to this little neighborhood for good reason, if only for a time. Their names are Jack and Frances, next door neighbors. True Southerners, as friendly as they come. We've enjoyed many a chat about gardening, God, and life in general. So thankful!

We've found a church we really like: Connect Christian Church in Concord (still another community) and the people and worship are terrific. But to make new connections in a community takes intentional time and effort. I have gone to quite a few women's events (Monday breakfasts, book club and ministry events) to meet more women. I had become so complacent about this in Delaware, but now I feel it's essential for my mental state to forge friendships. But it isn't easy!

I spend some time with the grandchildren and that's pretty special: babysitting to help out Dan and Jenny, having the kids over to play, taking them swimming. It's so dear getting to know them better! I surprised Jill in June, showing up to spend a few days. Really fun! Will be going again soon.

We had a "birthday weekend" here in late May for three of the grandchildren: lots of fun!

                                                                                                 by Katie Haller

I'm also looking around for a job. It'll help our finances and I just have a sense that God wants to use me somewhere, somehow. I spent a lot of years at home with kids, but I'd love to use my skills and develop new ones. And I plan to get back to my photography. I'd appreciate prayer!

"Petey" by me
Bill had some crazy back pain this summer but after seeing a neurosurgeon he's working hard at physical therapy. It seems to be helping. "Go Popsy, work hard!" as 6-year-old Ari says! I'm hoping he can strengthen and improve his mobility.

David and Chelsea will fly up for a weekend in September: really looking forward to that! David is usually on hiatus from seeing us for most of baseball season.

So that's where we are. Having stayed put for 26 years, we'd forgotten what's involved in a move. But also, we're middle aged and all of it takes much more effort. We're getting there but it sure takes some time.

Hope your summer's been smooth. Fall is just around the corner and we will welcome it here in North Carolina!

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7