Well, we ended up going to Minnesota for a short vacation, but we went. We didn't think that we would go b/c of all of the things that were breaking down and falling apart w/ our house & stuff.
We try to every summer visit a new state so that after we have been married 50 years we will have gone to every state. If you've been to our house, we have a map w/ pins of the places that we have been so far. This year, we went to Minnesota to the Mall of America area, St. Paul, & Minneapolis. The mall was amazing. It was very huge & overwhelming for even me. We both were able to get a couple of things that are very precious to us. Tom got a ring that he had engraved w/ Caden's name, and I got an Italian charm w/ Caden on it. We had both been looking for things that we could remember him by, but just hadn't found anything that we liked. After going to the mall, we were tired and went back to the hotel to watch cable TV. We don't have cable, so it is a special treat for us. The next day we did some sight seeing in St. Paul & Minneapolis. Look at the pictures below. Bloomington, where the mall was is kind of in the center between St. Paul & Minneapolis. It kind of had the feel of Kansas City. I would love to have a girls weekend sometime and maybe go up there for a weekend just to relax and enjoy. We also saw many, many, many lakes there. All of the Minnesota license plates said "the land of 10,000 lakes" & I totally believe it. Everywhere we went there was a lake. One place that we went to was tucked away where you wouldn't be able to see it unless you were looking for it. It had a really beautiful beach area, and then they had canoe trips that you could pay for the day and canoe all day or however long you wanted. I think that would be so much fun to do w/ couples and just go there or anywhere for that matter and canoe down a river or lake. Everything in Minnesota was so green and beautiful. Tom & I both really needed the break from life's stresses that we had been facing lately. It was a very well deserved trip.
Once again as we got home, we were faced w/ more problems and issues. Still the same old stuff w/ grief, church and not knowing where we belong or where our place is & who we fit in with, people say that we belong, but we both just kind of feel forgotten & abandoned. We very much still would like to be included on any prayer lists that are out there. We tend to move forward only to take 1000s of steps backward, & when life throws all kinds of darts at us all at the same time, it can be a little too overwhelming. We had our air conditioning fixed & a small praise, we may not be having to pay for everything. Our insurance has said that they will cover most of it except for the deductible. So that is good. Then we come back and realize that one of the stores at the mall charged us multiple times for something that we bought. At that point, I just thought to myself, Does God hate me? Why is everything bad happening all at the same time? I keep praying for better days, and they just don't come. We really want to have a better & more positive attitude, but so many hard things have hit us this year that we are just barely treading water, only to have more water thrown on top of us. It is no wonder that we can even function at all sometimes. Like right now, I am sitting here writing this at 2:00 in the morning b/c I am back to the point where I am not sleeping very good anymore. I keep thinking that things have got to get better someday soon.
I read this weekend in my Bible about suffering. I really do believe that Tom & I are in a very deep valley of suffering. As I was talking to a friend this week, I popped by her house b/c I just needed out of ours w/ all the stuff going on, I told her that I really believe that Satan is trying to attack Tom & I w/ everything that he has to our breaking points. It never ceases to amaze me the things that Satan does to try to get us to turn away from God. I honestly don't know how I could get through anything this painful w/out God. Even though I don't sense his presence all the time, I know that he is there just preparing me for something great. It is in his timing that he will reveal to me the reasons for my pain & how it is making me into a more complete person. I think that sometimes all of what has happened this year has made me so different and I don't even know myself sometimes, but that same friend reminded me that my suffering is not taking away from the person I am, but adding to the person that I am and making me more like God. What a great thought. Don't get me wrong. Almost everything is still hard, but not as hard as it used to be. Tom and I both are still in desperate need of encouragement, friends who want us around, and just people who will care about us and be there for us when we are feeling so down & alone.
I will leave you with something that I read this week.
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, b/c we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; & character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint."
From the book Captivating
"To possess true beauty, we must be willing to suffer. ...by refusing to numb your pain in the myriad of ways available. You have come to know that when everyone & everything has left you, God is there. You have learned that those who go through the desolate valley will find a place of springs. ... God does not always rescue us out of a painful season. He does not always give to us what we so desperately want when we want it. He is after something much more valuable than our happiness. He is restoring & growing in us an eternal weight of glory. And sometimes ... it hurts. But the experience does not diminish the joy of living, but rather enhances it. Knowing sorrow, makes you more aware of those special moments & more alive to all aspects of life."
So there we are. Please send us your comments or email us or something. We love to hear from people and just want to know that we are growing and getting through the tough stuff even though we don't like it. It is so hard for us to see any growth in ourselves, but the encouragement helps us see that we are getting somewhere. It is building us into more sensitive, caring, and stronger people than we ever knew we could be.
Until next time.
Tom & Mira