Monday, May 25, 2020

A Downton Abbey Birthday

About a month or so ago, Mary and I started watching Downton Abbey.  I realize we are a little behind since the series debuted in 2010!  I had heard so much hype about it back then, but as my mother used to say, "I don't care much for period dramas", so I never had much interest to watch it.

But quarantine can make you watch things you never thought you'd watch.

I was hooked in the first 5 minutes.  We fell in love with every character.....yes, even Barrow and O'Brien!  We would mostly tune in early in the morning and watch 1 or 2 episodes before everyone else in our house was awake.  Soon after, we'd catch an episode in the evenings while Bill and Matthew would sit and watch with us.  Even they enjoyed it.

Mary and I would text each other gifs with characters from the show, sip tea from fancy china cups, and play the theme song throughout the house.  I think I even walked a little taller, used words like "rather" and "perhaps" more frequently, and decided undoubtedly that I must go live in a castle somewhere. We lived and breathed it for a whole month. (#quarantinelife).

We sadly finished the series, but excitedly looked forward to watching the Downton Abbey movie that came out last year.  We decided to watch it on Mary's upcoming birthday and make the whole day a Downton Abbey themed day.

I used everything I already had on hand.

First, I set up my desk in case she wanted to write some 'correspondences'.  The little gift you see is a pen set, a stocking stuffer that I forgot to give her last Christmas and had been saving.

Next, I set up the bar in the foyer.....or should I say, the Great Hall.

that's iced tea in there

For lunch, I set up the dining room like this.

We had crackers with jam, and tea sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese/cream cheese and jam) that Ann helped me make, and (iced) tea.

Around 4 pm we dressed and came down to the Drawing Room.  It was time for Afternoon Tea.

I set the dinner table and had found a Downton Abbey Trivia on Pinterest.

Dinner arrived around 7, courtesy of Lord Bethlum. 
The Footmen (Billy, Tommy, and Matthew) were excited to serve us. (and *THAT*, my friends, is the greatest form of sarcasm you've ever read)

Mrs. Patmore had the night off. 😉

Only Mary, Bill, and myself actually
watched the movie.  We enjoyed it and it was a fun day all around.

Not to be forgotten are the usual birthday events....morning doughnuts and cake and ice cream.

Happy 19th birthday to our very own Lady Mary.

And an extra special thanks to all of our good sports for playing along - Children AND Dad alike.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Burn The Ships

Last year, after the unannounced departure of our two foster children who we raised since their births - one for 18 months and her brother for 6 months - I felt so many emotions that I had never experienced so deeply.  Since writing about it would mean reliving it, I don't really want to do that.  So I'm not going to.

Just know that:

* It has been a full year since the babies left our home.

* We didn't get to say goodbye to them.

* Some people in the children and youth business are wolves in sheep clothing.

These incidences left me in a downward spiral emotionally. I was filled with such hatred it was scary, and I walked around in an angry fog for months.  Even though  I had so much support from Bill, family, and friends, it didn't take away this overwhelming feeling that a huge door had been slammed shut in my face, taking away something that I believed was a true calling.   

At one point after many months of feeling this way,  I was telling my brother-in-law how I hadn't been coping well and was in a full-blown funk.  He listened to what I had so say, nodded as if he understood, and then gently posed this question:  

"How long are you giving yourself to feel this way?"

And there it was.  Something about that phrasing opened my eyes.  His words had given me both the permission to feel the way I was feeling, but also an unstated challenge to move on for the greater good.

I started focusing on the positives.  One big one was getting re-acquainted with my own kids.  Life at the house with two infants had taken a lot of my time and attention away from them.  It was a blessing to be able to sit uninterrupted and just talk again and to be fully present for them.

I also started to think about forgiveness.  I've heard it said that not forgiving someone is only keeping yourself prisoner.  Honestly, I find it difficult to forgive someone who isn't asking for forgiveness, so that will be a work in progress for me.  

My heart still aches to help children in such great need, but my fear of dealing with those I can't trust has been holding me back.  Even as I write those words my heart breaks that I would put my own stupid fear above those of children who live in situations far worse than anything I'm experiencing.  I don't know if that is the devil speaking or a real sign for us to move in a different direction.   

There is a  beautiful song by the contemporary Christian group For King & Country called, Burn the Ships.  This song has helped me heal after the hardest ordeal in my life.  The song speaks about hardships and isolation, prayer, then moving on and not looking back. 

Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye

Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships

And don't you look back
I am moving on, in a slow but forward direction - I think.  We'll see.  Only by the grace of God will I know for sure.  I'll keep you posted.