Journal Entry – June 17

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 17 – Thursday

Last month, I had put my name on the list of people willing to help with Vacation Bible School. Today a woman from church called and left a message about a meeting tonight at 7:30om and I really didn’t want to go after hearing what my friend told me. I just feel so abandoned. I thought about it all afternoon and decided that I should go. I said I would and backing out now would only make them think they are right in what they have decided not to do.

So, I went, and C came with me. We are going to have the 2 and 3-year-old group together. But I haven’t told you the best part! The deacon that the Pastor told me to talk to about my arrest was there. I have been trying to get in touch with him, but I haven’t had a chance to talk with him in person. Well, I knew it was him when I saw him, but I’m so shy. I couldn’t bring myself to walk up and introduce myself. I went and talked to the vacation bible school leader about what exactly I had to do with my group of kids and she told me that the person to talk to would be the deacon and his wife. I had another reason to walk up and talk to him! They started to lay out what we were going to do and when. And when they were done, I told him who I was and we talked about the case. I told him that I had already hired a lawyer and who he was. The deacon reassured me that I was doing what I was supposed to and how things were going to proceed. Wow! Talk about God intervening on my behalf. Talking with him, although he didn’t offer any help other than to confirm what I already knew, was really what I needed today. I feel so much better and I was feeling terribly anxious today. Five more days until I go to court.

June 18 – Friday

Mom and Grandpa took us to the Huck Finn Festival. They boys were so weird today! Every morning, they get up around 5am and I give them a cup of warm chocolate milk. Today, they got up and fell asleep again, sippy cups in hand. They woke up again at 8am when we had to get ready for Grandpa to pick us up. Once we got in the car, J fell asleep again and woke up an hour later when we got to the festival. They were whiney and timid all day. Everything scared them, and they wouldn’t eat anything. They just never fully woke up. I got them Civil War hats, but J would only wear it over his Indy Jones hat. We watched a little circus with two people in it. Tom really liked that. On the way home, they both fell asleep again. J started screaming and kicking in his sleep so bad and so long I had to get off the freeway and get him out of his seat to calm him down. Maybe they are coming down with a cold or something.

June 20 – Sunday Father’s Day

I stepped in to help run the sound at church today and I had lots of time to think.  What was I thinking about? I was wondering why I am spending almost my whole weekend here doing this. I’ll go back a bit. Yesterday, I left for church at 6:30pm and got home at 10:30pm. I was helping get the new sanctuary ready for Sunday service. They asked for my help because I have worked with sound systems before and thought I’d be of use. It didn’t take that long to do the work, but the church is nearly an hour from my house, so that adds a couple hours of driving to any work I do. And it was in the evening. I had to miss dinner and bedtime.

This morning I left at 7:30am and got back at 12:30pm. It’s Father’s Day and I have my family to attend to, so I got home, gathered the family, and headed to my Aunt’s house.

So, here I am wondering what to do. I love this church. It’s the first one I’ve ever gone to regularly. I feel like I found the Lord here. I was baptized here. The people are nice, and I used to feel closer to them before this arrest thing. I feel like I’m losing my church to this. I know God is everywhere and there are nice people in churches right close to my home. I should start going to one of those. But what if I don’t feel the same there? What if it’s different? I used to feel so safe at this church. Now I just feel that I have skills they need but they don’t really trust me. I’m so confused right now. It’s something I really need to keep praying about.

June 21 – Monday

Playgroup was busy today! We had five families at the house! Afterward, my friend took T to the park while J and I took a nap. Then my Mom came over and we went to the grocery store for enchilada supplies. We had a very full table for dinner tonight! We played in the front yard until the nightly fireworks (one of the perks of living so close to Disneyland) and then went straight to bed. Pretty much a perfect day!

I am feeling a lot of stress about tomorrow’s court appearance. I hope I can get some sleep. Lots of prayers.

June 22 – Tuesday

One month later and it’s finally court day! I’m so blessed to have D! He is such a great husband and father. He helped me so much this morning by finding out where we were supposed to be and when. I just followed him and worked on keeping my anxiety under control. I kept my focus on breathing calmly, praying for peace and that this would end soon.

My lawyer was amazing to watch. I have a whole new understanding of Jesus as our advocate in heaven after watching him. The courtroom is intimidating. It’s big and there are so many people standing around waiting. There are rules and protocols I don’t understand. Everyone is in a hurry and worried. The moment my lawyer showed up, he took charge of the situation. I could feel the tension lessen. He told us what to do, where to go, what was happening, and how to deal with it. We were safe and assured in his instructions and knew that he would intercede on our behalf in front of the judge. As the court opened, he interacted with the judge as he would an old friend. We just stood near him. A few words were exchanged. And we left the courtroom. I’m still scared of what might happen, but after this day, I’m thanking God for the enlightenment.

My lawyer was hoping they would realize they had the wrong person and drop the charges on their own, but it looks like that’s not happening. The arraignment has been postponed for further discovery. We have another court date in a month. We have work to do.

To alleviate the stress, we picked up the family and went to Lake Arrowhead! I haven’t been up there in years. The kids played on a huge inflatable slide. C and I shopped. I got a present for my mom. There weren’t many trees or nice places to camp because of the fires earlier in the year. It was kind of sad, but it’s still such a beautiful area.

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Thirty Minutes

I know I said I wouldn’t be writing much other than working on my book, but sometimes something comes to mind that I just have to share. “Thirty Minutes” is just one of those things! Thirty minutes has changed my life. It’s not a book or podcast, it’s just my routine. Years ago, I decided that I wanted to start reading more books again. I was a parent of young children at the time and it seemed impossible to catch a few minutes a day to use the bathroom, let alone pick up a book. I looked at my day. Something had to go or move to put books back into my life. Morning was it. Every morning, I’d get up, get a cup of coffee, and turn on the tv to the news. I usually got sucked in for an hour before my boys got up and changed the channel to Spongebob, and then I sat there laughing with them.

What if I didn’t turn on the tv? What if, instead, I picked up my book and read until the boys got up? So I tried it. Habits are hard to break. There was nothing I really wanted to watch on tv, I just had the habit of hearing it while I had my first cup of coffee. Silence makes me nervous. But guess what I found out? When I’m reading, there is no silence. I read in my head the same way I’d read out loud. It makes for slower reading but it’s what I do, so reading turned out to be just as good as watching tv in the morning. And the bonus was that when my sons got up they usually wanted to know what I was reading and we’d read a couple pages before they moved on to Spongebob.

Thirty to sixty minutes every morning, I found myself completely absorbed in my books. As my sons got older, they got up later in the day. That’s another one of the bonuses of home education instead of school. I could read longer! But I didn’t. My mind started to wander after an hour and I went to do something else. I started to write in my journal, do a bible study, write my blog, etc., all in thirty minute increments. I’ve found that it’s just how my brain works and I’m using it.

Over the years, I’ve added new things and taken things out. Right now I’m at a five hour routine every day of the week. What I do after that five hours depends on the day of the week but right now my early mornings look like this:

Read
Yoga or Walk
Yard Work
Shower/Laundry/Make Bed
Breakfast/Journal/Bible Study
Write
Do the Dishes

And then the day begins. My afternoons have their own routine. It may not seem like much, but when I look around me, things are getting done. The yard looks nice, the laundry is done, dinner is ready, and my book is getting written. Satisfaction…in thirty minutes a day.

Journaling. Just do it.

Start right now and do it every single day.

Working on my book has brought so many things to light, the biggest of which is my lack of writing the important things down. I’ve had to rely on my memory, using the journal entries I have a writing prompts. It does help to have those reminders but I sure would love to hear my own words from that time instead of my memories, which have proven to be quite deceiving. That’s another enlightening discovery I’ve made the past several years! When a friend posts a picture of you from an event you have no recollection of going to, you begin to wonder what else your memory is distorting. It really makes me think and start let go of my so called “reasons” for being angry about the past.

I have journals going back to when I was sixteen years old, most of which is just which boy I was fascinated in at the moment and how mean my mom was to not let me run as wild as I wanted to. My poor Mom! But, just because I began journaling back then, doesn’t mean that I’ve always kept it up. There are huge gaps and at some of the most important moments of my life. I probably thought I’d never forget the details and that I especially would never forget how I felt. Or maybe I thought there were some things best not remembered. Oh boy was I wrong!

Most of my life I have journaled by hand and I think that was part of why I left many details out. It’s hard to write all the daily stuff out. It takes time. I was young and busy with work, school…and boys. And then I got married and I had kids. That’s when life got infinitely busier!

So here I am, trying to reconstruct what happened by putting together my calendars, journals, and documents and wondering why in the world I didn’t write more details! I hope I’ve been doing a better job in the last few years.

Journal Entry – June 8

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 8 – Tuesday

My husband’s niece is here! She’s spent a few weeks with us a couple of times in the past but this year she is staying a whole month. She may stay the whole summer if she finds some work. I have work for her! It’s going to be great having a teenager around to help with the boys. She loves playing with them and is so patient with N too. They could both use a good friend right now. Being a teenage girl, living with her father has got to be hard.

The boys and I drove to the airport to pick her up this morning. We had a great time navigating the airport and shopping at the big mall. To celebrate her arrival and reward the boys for being patient on the long drive to and from the airport, we had lunch at the Rainforest Café. Jake loved it, but Tom was a little nervous that it might get loud. The last time we at there, we in advertently sat too close to a speaker and when the simulated storm came, the thunder scared the poor guy! This time was better, so he enjoyed it but was still ready to bolt out of there the whole time.

I can’t believe how much C has matured this year! She’s sixteen years old and beautiful. Her uncle says she must have gotten it from her mother because his brother is nothing to crow about. Brothers!

The boys have been showing off for their cousin all day long. What a riot that has been. They were screaming and laughing and pushing each other, refusing to eat. I had to put them to bed early tonight after our long day of driving. I’m exhausted and I have a terrible headache. I think I’ll just give up waiting for them to go to sleep and lay down with them.

June 9 – Wednesday

What a busy day! I went to the gym. I’m still trying to get back into shape since J’s birth. It’s been two years. I don’t think it’s going well. C and I went to the mall to look for a job. She applied at several stores and had a couple of interviews scheduled for the afternoon. We came back to the house and visited with my Mom for a while, then my Dad and Step-Mom came over for a bit.

My Mom and I talked a lot while C played with the boys. She seems ok. Moving back to our area is hard for her. She loves her rural town and being back in the city is stressful, not to mention the divorce she’s going through. We tried to remember the positives. I know I’m happy she is here. I could really use a friend right now. I’m sure she will be alright. It’ll just be another adjustment for her. I know she feels like nothing ever goes her way.

Later in the afternoon, I took C back to the mall for her interviews while Grandma A watched the boys. I know she’s only been here for two days, but C is really liking it here. She is such a great kid. I’m sure this will be a good summer for all of us. It helps having all this activity going on while I wait for my court date. It makes the days go by faster by changing my focus. But, every once in a while, I look around and get scared. What if this doesn’t end? What if this is my last summer? What if?

June 12 – Saturday

I’ve got a stinkin’ cold. Can you believe that? We’ve had a crazy busy week and stayed up so late two nights in a row that I just went to sleep with the boys. I didn’t even try to read or write while they went to sleep! I’ll just catch you all up on the activities.

On Thursday, the boys got their hair cut and then we met the Great-Grandparents for lunch at Knott’s Chicken Dinner. And then we drove to the other set of Great-Grandparents for dinner! Driving home, I realized that I didn’t take a single picture. How many kids have two sets of Great-Grandparents that take them to exciting fun things?!

On Friday, the boys went to the beach with their Grandma S. I’m not a fan of the beach, but my Mom is, and I desperately needed a day off to get N’s Girl Scout stuff finished up for the year. I took on a troop this year so that she might make some friends in our neighborhood. It’s been really fun, but sometimes the work of it piles up. I finished that paper work, cleaned up my file cabinet, and did some housework and then my sweet husband took me out for dinner and a movie! My Mom brought the boys home at 9:45 PM!

Today, the boys and I lazed around the house playing video games and watching movies. I’m coming down with a yucky cold, but if I rest a bit, I’ll be fine. D mowed the lawn and got us a new BBQ at Home Depot! We are going to make steaks tomorrow!

June 13 – Sunday

Today was my Mom’s birthday, so we had the whole family over for a big early dinner of steaks and baked potatoes!

It was also my turn in the nursery at church today, so C came with me and helped. It was fun having her there. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store to get supplies for our “dinner party.”

Dad and the boys picked up N from her mother’s house. She was her usually Sunday self, exhausted and short fused. She went to Mexico with her mother yesterday, so I guess it was a long day for her. I wish we could have just relaxed today and let her sleep in. She went to bed crying about I don’t know what. I’m feeling very helpless about it. I’m not sure what I can do to help. Everything I do seems to only make things worse.

June 14 – Monday

Playgroup day! The anxiety is on HIGH today. I feel like I can’t breathe and I’m in a hurry all the time, more like everything around me is in fast forward and I’m in slow motion. It’s the worse feeling and I try to ignore it.

We went for a walk after dinner. I’ve been told regular exercise can help with anxiety, but I’m not sure this kind of anxiety was what they were thinking of. It does help a little to get some exercise (other than kid chasing).

I brought J’s old crib to a friend to borrow. I’m praying for her and her baby. Her new baby has lots of problems and isn’t eating well right now. There is talk of surgery and putting in a feeding tube. Talking with her puts my own problems into perspective. At least my children are healthy, but my mind goes right back to “but I may not get to see them grow up!”

June 16 – Wednesday

The calendar is amazingly full. Am I always this busy? Looking at the past year, yes. Between all the kids and their stuff, my stuff, and weekend things with the whole family, we are constantly in motion.

Yesterday, I had to finish my bible study, so I didn’t get a chance to write anything here. We spent the whole day in my aunt’s pool. Nothing better on summer day than to watch a bunch of kids be crazy in the water. It’s also good for tiring out energetic boys. They went right to sleep tonight!

I have been going to an evening bible study at church for a while now and enjoying it very much, but it’s so hard for me to get out in the evenings. I have to wait until D gets home from work, have dinner, and then drive all the way down to church and back. The boys usually refuse to sleep until I get home and D starts work so early in the morning. It’s just a disaster most evenings. After talking with a few friends, I found that there were a least four others that had the same problem, so we decided to start our own morning bible study. Today was our first meeting. We met at the book store and it went pretty smoothly!

Afterwards, a close friend and I went out to lunch. It’s the same friend that got me started at the church we go to now. We had lots of time to talk which ended up not being a good thing. She proceeded to tell me that our bible study teacher at church told her that she wouldn’t write me a character letter for my lawyer because she doesn’t really know me. The pastor’s wife, who also attends the bible study, also said she doesn’t really know me and doesn’t really know if I’m innocent. I was speechless. I’ve been at bible study every week for six months. We openly share our lives through this study. Afterwards, we all go out for desert and coffee and talk more. We sit there for several hours a week talking about our lives, our families, our prayers. How could they possibly say they don’t know me well enough to write me a character reference? I’m not asking them to stand up and say I didn’t do it. They can’t say that. They weren’t there. I’m only asking that they write a letter describing the kind of person they believe me to be based on our time together. Does the whole church feel this way? Will I even hear from the Pastor or the Deacon about helping with my defense, like they said they would?

Then the afternoon got worse because my “close friend” flat out asked me if I did rob that woman. Seriously. We’ve been friends for over a year and she asked me that. I looked at her like she’d lost her mind. It took everything in me not to just break down and cry right there. I never, in a million years, thought anyone I know would even think for a second that I would do anything that violent. I guess I’m just that naïve. She said she was just asking because someone at church last year was embezzling and they really had no clue he would ever do something like that. I asked her if she didn’t think stealing money out of the till a little each night was a little different than pointing a gun at someone and taking their car in a parking lot!

I was so upset that I cried all the way home. My Mom was watching the boys while I was out and when I walked in the door, I just fell apart and had to sit down and tell her the whole story. Poor Mom.

So, here I am again, putting my babies to bed, reading my book, and writing this, feeling like my whole world is coming down around me. Why is this happening to me? How could this happen? Will I lose all my friends over this, too? Who else is judging me? I’ve never been so scared in my life. I could actually lose everything over something I could not possibly have done.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Journal Entry – June 4

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 4 Friday

We went to the grocery store and then the train station with a friend and her boys today. We met at the train station and had a picnic lunch on the benches while the boys ran around the fountain and under the trees. Every time they heard the bells announcing the coming train, all the boys would run as close as they were allowed, cover their ears with their hands, and squeal and yell as the train went by. When it was a train that stopped in the station, you’d think the space shuttle had landed! They were able to talk with a conductor and people leaving the train. We tried to see if they could talk to an engineer or look on the train quickly before it left but couldn’t work it out. Free entertainment for several hours. We’ll have to see about taking a train somewhere soon.

J and I took a nap when we got home, while Grandma played video games with T. I consider myself blessed to have a Grandma in the house and on call! When Dad got home from work, we went to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The boys are usually well behaved at restaurants. They enjoy eating out because they can order for themselves. Both of them attempt to use their Spanish words when we eat there. The waiter always tries to teach them some new phrases, but they both clam up after “Hola.”

We went to Walmart on the way home and got a few new movies. It was 8:30pm when we got home and we decided to watch some of Real Genius until bedtime. At 9pm, we attempted to turn off the movie and head upstairs when a meltdown began. A lovely end to a nice day. I ended up dragging them upstairs kicking and screaming to bed. Well, mostly T. He is still screaming about not seeing more of the movie. I’m just ignoring him. J says he’s being an ass. Out of the mouth of babes, right? He is way over tired. We shouldn’t have started that movie. Live and learn.

June 5 Saturday

Saturdays are for yard work and we got a lot done today. The boys really like to “help” out there. They move rocks, rake leaves, and find bugs all day long. N’s mother called late last night and asked if we could get her on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, so she could go out. We were happy to comply. Dad and T went to pick her up while J and I took a long nap. That seems to be becoming a habit, one I could really get used to. I just can’t seem to get enough sleep lately. I’ve always dealt with stress by sleeping more. The stress I’m under right now might have put me into a coma if it weren’t for my babies needing me.

When they got back, we all worked in the yard some more. Dad cleaned the garage, which always leads to adventure for the boys. They always seem to find something interesting in there when Dad starts going through boxes and tools.

We had corn dogs and apples for dinner and then watched Goonies. That movie is a classic from my childhood and all the kids loved it! It was almost 9:30 when the movie was over, so we went outside and watched the fireworks from the front yard. Living this close to Disneyland has its perks! Now they are getting ready to sleep, their own way of course, talking, giggling, and harassing each other. After last night, I really want this to be a peaceful evening, so I’m trying to remain calm and see where they go with this.  J keeps getting up and giving me kisses. And T is asking me if “this fast thing is God.” That kid asks the strangest questions sometimes.

June 6 Sunday

The usual routine this morning: coupons, church, grocery store, and lunch. We spent most of the day outside in the yard again. Dad made the boys “Indy whips” with cotton rope. J is crazy about Indiana Jones. They’ve both seen all the movies several times now, including the gory parts which I tried to skip over at first. They played Indiana Jones all day with those whips today. One would be Indy for a while and then the other, rescuing people and finding “artifacts” all over the yard. The treehouse became “Temp Doom.” It was hilarious to watch. Dad took video of their performance!

N got to go to Sunday school with Grandma today since we picked her up last night. She really likes it there and Grandma loves having the company. I wish weekends could always work this way.

Dad and I had to talk to her about her attitude toward her brothers. She very rarely speaks to them in a nice tone of voice. Everything they say or do annoys her. She tells mean jokes about hating little brothers. It just isn’t right the way she treats them, especially when they look forward to being with her all week. I don’t think she really means it though. They are annoying, of course. Siblings always are, but I think this is different. She’s always copied lines and attitudes from movies and TV and I think this is just more of that. She thinks it’s cute and funny, but I think it’s mean. I’m having a hard time getting across to her how much it hurts them and me when she does it. She just doesn’t empathize with people well and is having a hard time seeing what effect she has on the people around her. I’m not sure how to fix it and I find myself getting frustrated, angry, and protective of the boys when she is here.

June 7 Monday

Small playdate at our house this week but it was still fun. Sometimes a small group is exactly what we need. The kids get to play with one or two of their closer friends, sharing toys is easier, and us Mom’s get a better chance to really talk to each other. It was a nice change of pace.

The boys and I took a long nap on the couch after our friends left. Grandma picked up N at school today and she had very little homework tonight since school’s out in two weeks.

I took the easy way out tonight and we got pizza for dinner!

I found the weirdest thing in N’s backpack today. When I went to put in the shorts and flipflops from her mother’s house so she could take them home tomorrow, I found a few homework papers out of the folder. Writing this I just realized that tomorrow is Tuesday not Wednesday, the day N goes to her mother’s after school. Sometimes my days get so confused. Thank God that I keep a detailed calendar. I was going to ask N if the papers were something she needed to turn in but then I noticed on the back of one sheet was her mother’s handwriting. It looked like a note from work, but it mentioned a hotel, the same hotel lobby the police said they had video of the suspect (well, they said me) running across the day of the robbery. Weird. Reading it reminded me that a while back she called to have D pick up N from a hotel in the same area as the robbery. We usually pick her up at her house, but for some reason they were at a hotel that day. We’ve learned not to ask a lot of questions about her situation. We just take N whenever we are asked to, even if it means changing our schedule or driving farther. The hope is that we get her more often than the court says we are supposed to. The more she is here the better.

So here I am having very suspicious thoughts and I’m not sure what to do with them. I showed D and he was just as curious. We’ve had no other contact with that area or that hotel and now I’m the suspect in an armed robbery in that same area. What are the odds? Could she have something to do with all of this? The one thing the police told me when they arrested me was that they were led to me because the phone that was stolen was used to call our house after the robbery. Who could have called me? I have another appointment with my lawyer soon, but my court date isn’t until June 22. I can’t believe I have to wait that long with this hanging over me. And now this. Should I bring it to my lawyer? This all just keeps getting more strange and stressful every day.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Journal Entry – June 2 & 3

This is the next chapter of my story. To read the previous chapter or to start at the beginning, click HERE.

June 2 – Wednesday

An uneventful day, as Wednesday’s usually are. Mom took N to school this morning and her mother will pick her up. D’s working. And me? I’m anxious to get together things for my defense, but that involves concentration and the boys refuse to let me have any of that. I just don’t have the energy to take two little boys out right now. They know I’m distracted and they want my attention, but I’m at a loss as to how I can give it to them at the moment. The stress I’m under is making me so sleepy, I just don’t want to play right now. I know it is bad. I promised them we’d will do something fun tomorrow.

In case you are wondering why every entry involves my sons going to sleep behavior, it’s because I write here in my journal after story time. Our bedtime routine starts with baths, pajamas, and teeth brushing. Then stories, one for T, one for J, and one I want to share with them. Right now, we’re reading Pinocchio, the original version. It’s fun explaining old words and hearing their reaction to this bad little wooden boy’s actions. They are usually very upset with him.

Tonight, we tried going to bed one at a time again. It didn’t work. J came up after the story and climbed in bed. He doesn’t want to leave his brother’s side. T is so over tired by the evening, but he won’t take a nap with his brother. He rolls and wiggles around in bed so much he won’t go to sleep.

Recently, T has found the wonderful phrases, “I am!” and “OK!” Four is a glorious age. And J copies him in his two-year-old voice. It’d be funny and cute if I weren’t in such a mood.

J just talked himself to sleep. One minute he was babbling away and the next he was sound asleep! I’ll lay down with Tom until he falls asleep and then get in my bed. I’m just too tired to sit here and wait.

June 3 – Thursday

A miracle happened today! This morning I woke up tense, already anxious about what I was going to do to keep us busy all day. I called Grandma and Grandpa, but they didn’t call me back. We went to Target and the boys were awful. Maybe “awful” is too harsh a word. They were being little boys that wanted to play. A bag of popcorn and an ICEE were not going to suffice. The urge to run wild and have Mom chase them was too strong for shopping.

When we go home, a friend called and asked if she and her daughter could come over and use my computer because hers was broken. That would liven things up! A few minutes later, another friend and her kids showed up and then a couple more! We got pizza and we hung out and talked while the kids played in the yard. Then we all watched a movie while they took a nap all over the living room. The grown-ups took a bit of a nap too! They all left around 4:30, just in time for me to start thinking about dinner.

What a great day this turned out to be. I am lucky to have such great friends. The Lord works in some amazing ways. After dinner, my aunt called and said she couldn’t watch the boys tomorrow. She was going to take them swimming all day so I could get caught up on some housework and have a day to myself. After talking with her, I thought, if the girls hadn’t been here all day today and then I got that call I would have cried. Thanks God! I may not get caught up on housework as much as I had hoped, but at least the boys had an active day and would probably be more cooperative about letting me get some things done while they play tomorrow.

Read the next chapter HERE.

Good Apple vs Bad Apple

Five years ago, I planted a small apple tree in our yard. I wasn’t sure it was an “apple” tree because when I bought it from Home Depot it had a tag on it that said “fruit.” I assumed it was an apple tree! The next summer, sure enough, there were apple blossoms on it and a couple small apples began to grow. The birds got them first that year!

The next year, no apples. The following year, one small apple. The next year, nothing. I began to give up on the apple growing thing. But then my oldest son said we should put some work into that tree. We decided to move it further away from the house and amend the soil around it.

While my son dug the new hole, I dug out the tree. It had been in the ground for over five years and I assumed it would be hard to get out of the ground by now. It had done a lot of growing. But when I started to dig, I noticed there weren’t a lot of roots further than about a foot away from the trunk. I dug deeper and pushed on the tree wondering how hard it was going to be get up and it toppled over. It had a root ball of about a foot in diameter. This tree had grown from a twig to five feet tall and had grown no more roots than the container I had brought it home in. No wonder we weren’t getting any fruit. This tree looked nice and healthy, but it wasn’t getting enough nutrients to produce any good fruit! We were right to give it some love and change its location.

Days later, the hole was dug, the tree was moved, new soil, mulch, and water were applied. This tree has to thrive now! I began to water daily, since it was getting into spring and within a few weeks the buds came.

Fast forward a bit. This morning I was looking at that tree. It looked nice. It had gotten loads of blossoms and now it is full of leaves, but as I inspected the tree it didn’t look like we’d have any apples this year either. I became irritated. All that effort and no results.

But then it hit me. Why would I expect instant results? A fruit tree is not lettuce or spinach. You can’t just plant some seeds, water it a few weeks, and pick the leaves. Fruit trees take time and effort. I’d put the effort in and now it needs time. Next season, I’ll have to put more effort in. And, in more time, I know that tree will produce good fruit. I need to be patient. I need to keep working on it and let the tree do its thing.

One of the definitions of “cultivate” is to foster the growth of or to improve by labor, care, or study. Fruit trees are cultivated, and they take time, lots of it and so do people. Thinking about the tree, I was reminded of kids being “good apples” or “bad apples.” The good ones are the fruit of a lot of work, love, care, and nurturing. The bad ones? They are just like that apple on my tree, the fruit of a tree that isn’t getting enough of something, even if you can’t see it. And when we give that child more of what it needs, i.e. time, attention, love, support, the fruit won’t come immediately. That child may continue to act like a bad apple, until the day that he/she begins to feel they have what they need to grow and be “good apples.” We can’t just be nice to a bad apple and expect them to respond immediately in good apple ways.

Keep cultivating love, kindness, attention, and peace. The fruit will come. It just takes time.