Within the last couple of days we’ve gotten two different toy catalogs. One from Target and one from Walmart. I decided instead of tossing them I’d let the boys search through them and dream. I figured it would keep them very busy and I was right.

 Two nights ago before bed Ethan busied himself reading the detailed descriptions underneath each and every toy. Caleb spent a fair amount of time looking through it on Sunday, calling me over whenever he saw a really cool toy he just HAD to tell me about. Then yesterday the boys were browsing through it yet again, together:

Ethan: Mom, I want this Hot Wheel track. It. Is. So. Awesome!
Me: Mmm Hmmm. Looks like fun.
Ethan: So can I get it for Christmas?
Me: Maybe
Caleb: Yeah mom, I wanna Hot Wheews twack too! And a hot Wheews ca!!
Ethan: Yeah mom. I’m just a Hot Wheels fan!
Me: Really? 
Caleb: Yeah, me too!
Ethan: No you’re not Caleb. Only 6 year old boys can be Hot Wheels fans.
Caleb: Mom, Ethan say I can’t be a Hot Wheews fan!
Me: Of course you can. Ethan stop making up silly rules.
Ethan: Well, you can’t play with my Hot Wheels track if I get it for Christmas
Caleb: Yes huh!
Ethan: Nuh Uh!
Caleb: Yes huh!
Ethan: Nuh Uh!
Caleb (close to tears): Moooooom!! Ethan said I can’t pway wif da Hot Wheews twack if we get it for Chwismas!!!
Me (exasperated): Boys! You’re fighting over something we don’t even own!

Maybe next time I’ll think twice about handing them the toy catalog.
My grandma received news that they’ve found another spot of cancer. This time on her liver. It’s new and small and they think they can shrink it with treatment. So she’s going ahead with the chemo. She has a wedding she wants to go too and I would love for her to see our family again. But I guess the treatment for this particular spot of cancer will be very vicious. It’s called the Red Devil, I think, because the side effects are so bad.

Let me start this next thought by telling you that I’m not questioning my faith or God, but I have been pondering lately on how very unfair life can be. My grandma grew up with alcoholic parents and rarely had peace of mind or situation. Somehow she turned out well balanced in spite of all the chaos in her life. One of her half brothers is an alcoholic and the other one has been abusing his body with smoking and alcohol for most of his life. She’s one who has taken good care of her body and yet it is ravaged by cancer. I wouldn’t wish the cancer on her brothers but it seems so unfair that her body has betrayed her this way.

When I was younger, I had a false notion that making smart or righteous choices would always yield fair or favorable outcomes in life. But as I got older and realized that very bad things can happen to the best of people I had to wonder why. I couldn’t understand why those who were good people, wouldn’t always be rewarded for their goodness. But it began to make sense when I had children of my own. If my children know of a promised reward for their behavior, they will almost always choose to act in a way that will earn them that reward, even if their heart is not in it. But I don’t want to bribe them into doing good, I want them to choose good, to be good no matter what. When it is right to reward them I will, but it is not always right to do so. Somehow as a parent, I can just feel where to draw the line. What they need is almost never what they want. It struck me with such force as I came to realize these things that God is in the same position. Do we not call him our Heavenly Father? He is a parent. And though he is God, he is still bound by the same feelings. By the knowledge that to deliver every one from every trial, would be the most growth stunting thing he could do for us. I don’t necessarily believe he wants us to go through or decides exactly what hardships we will face, but I do think that he rarely prevents those events because we’re better for it. And I really believe we are.

I've written on here before that a few years ago I went through the effects of a toxic drug interaction. My body was stuck in an awful hell for months. I had never felt such despair, such loneliness. I had never had my faith shaken so badly. I questioned the existence of God and was terrified that I felt at liberty to do so. But I felt nothing. In spite of this I was determined to know if he was really there. I kept going through the motions, praying and hoping that if he was there he might heal me. I had lived such a good life, I wasn’t perfect but I was doing a pretty good job so why wouldn’t he heal me?!?!? I figured it was because I lacked the faith. That if I wasn’t even sure if he existed that of course he wouldn’t do anything if He did. As I went to therapy and tried to heal my mind I remember for the first time in my life being too angry to care. Angry that any of this happened, angry at the unidentified malady that had plagued me for 12 years. So angry I lost all inhibitions. Things I had been too terrified to tell anyone went on in my head, finally came out and with it came the answer to 12 years of prayer. It didn’t happen overnight but those 3 months of torture transformed me. I never want to go through anything like that again, but I am a better person for it. My faith in God was nearly extinguished but I chose to keep trying to believe until I felt it again. I have a better understanding of Him than I ever did before that experience. Dare I say I’m thankful for that experience? I wish it hadn’t been so miserable, but would the rewards have been as sweet had it not been?

I know God exists and that while he may not take our trials away, he will help us get through them if we allow it. I know things will be ok for my grandma eventually. Death is after all only a new beginning.
And to finish this off on a less somber note. If all goes well with her treatment, our whole family will get to see her again this Christmas. My sister is getting married very close to Christmas and my mom has been so gracious as to fly our family out. It will be our first Christmas with our families in 5 years and I’m looking forward to it.