Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Control vs Faith (2020 in review)

So very much of this year has felt chaotic and out of control.  A recent discussion reminded me that we strive to live by faith but often end up doing the opposite in our attempts to control every aspect of our lives.  

As a reminder, the news this year has been replete with events outside of our control:

  • Presidential impeachment and elections
  • more than 30 names hurricanes
  • wildfires in Australia and the Western US
  • "murder hornets"
  • many celebrity deaths, including Kobe Bryant and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • volcano eruption in the Philippine Islands
  • plane crashes in Tehran and Pakistan
  • earthquakes in Mexico and Turkey
  • flooding in China, India, and Nepal
  • train derailment in China
  • pandemic and economic and mental health impacts. 
On a more local scale, the town where we live has seen a huge upsurge in gang and drug violence, and a huge negative impact on the mental health of many.  

Meanwhile, in the Paxton family, we have had a busy year.  Currently in the home are:
  • Jason - on terminal leave from the Navy
  • Laura - currently working at Walmart
  • Justin - 20-year-old college sophomore
  • Leah - 18-year-old college freshman
  • Kyah - 18-year-old high school senior
  • Katherine - 17-year-old high school junior
Jason is in the middle of transitioning from military life after 21 years in the Navy.  After so long living under the very regimented life dictated by military service, this transition is proving to be a challenge to our faith.  In addition to completing his duties, he has had multiple doctors' appointments, a reconstruction of his foot (with subsequent physical therapy), and is working to find another job.  We trust that God will provide and guide to the next place for him.  

Laura started the year with two jobs, one of which went "virtual" in March, and she was then fired in July.  Fortunately, Walmart had plenty of available extra hours, which has more than made up for the income lost.  

Justin is currently in the middle of his sophomore year at Millikin University and is still working part-time at Starbucks.  

Leah graduated from high school in June and was able to start at Millikin University in the fall, studying Art Therapy.  She is also working at Starbucks.  

Kyah has finally found a job that she likes and is finishing up her senior year in high school.  

Katherine is a high school junior, as a homeschooler, and dearly missing her other social interactions.  

The remainder of the children are in other places and are doing well.  
  • Frances and Nick will be welcoming another son in May, soon after Charles' 2nd birthday.  They are in Massachusetts.
  • Jon stays busy with landscaping and waiting tables in Virginia Beach, VA.  
  • Heather and Darien are in Southern Illinois, and are planning a wedding for September, 2021.
Other random events:
  • 1 more Drivers' License
  • 1 more Learner's Permit
  • 3 cars changed owners
  • many health crises
  • Zoom meetings
  • virtual, online, hybrid school
  • work-from-home
  • essential worker
  • thousands of potential COVID exposures
  • 10 negative COVID tests
Through all of the chaos and upheaval this year has seen, we are reminded that God is in control of every aspect of our lives, especially when things are out of our control.  We don't know what 2021 will hold for us, where we will be, or when things will feel "normal" again.  Thankfully, we know that God knows.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas, 2019

Merry Christmas!!

Time for the annual updates....

January 2019 involved a 12-hour drive to and from South Carolina for Laura and Katherine to spend two weeks at the hospital with where my mother slowly emerged from a diabetic crisis, and from which she went (in February) to a nursing facility.

February saw Jason and me celebrating my 50th birthday aboard the Carnival Triumph with our friends Ken and Emily, with stops in Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico. 

In March, we went to Milwaukee, WI, for a Yellow Ribbon workshop for Sailors who had been deployed to process the impacts the deployment had on themselves and their relationships.

April saw Katherine and me on the road again, spending 3 weeks in the Boston area awaiting the birth of our first grandchild.  Charles Judah finally arrived on April 25th.  During that time all of the rest of the family was able to come for a week with Frances and Nick.

May was relatively uneventful for most of the family, though Justin was able to spend some time in New Orleans with his friend Jayden, celebrating Jayden's high school graduation.

June included my mother's death after 6 months of battling for her life, and a trip to South Carolina for her memorial service.  In addition, Katherine and Leah went to Cincinnati, OH, for our church's annual trip to work in an inner-city neighborhood.

July was a lot of working, and enjoying the summer days, a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indi 500 and preparing for a family trip in August. Also, Leah became a "Certified Barrista" at Starbucks, and Justin started working there, as well.

August saw almost the whole family gathered in South Carolina for a few restful days of family, friends, swimming, and pictures.  While we were gone to SC, Heather moved out to her new apartment in Carbondale, IL, where she is managing a Journey shoe store.

September was busy, with Jason having surgery on September 11....
...and a trip to Virginia Beach for me to attend our nephew's wedding...

...with a huge plus of seeing a whole lot of friends AND our son!!

We were also able to make another trip to Indianapolis for the Indy 400, and to spend some time with Jason's cousins.

October was our 27th wedding anniversary and the 28th anniversary of our dating, with a date to one of our favorites.

November was also very full....
At the beginning of the month, Jason and I were in Great Lakes and Chicago for a Navy Retirement workshop for a week.

While there, we were able to see some friends...
...Justin was in the local production of the musical "All Shook Up", loosely based on Elvis Pressley's music.

Heather and her boyfriend Darien were able to come to visit for part of the day for Thanksgiving.

In December, Leah and Justin finished their school semesters (both did very well), and Leah is now officially finished with her high school work and will be moving into her first semester of being an official college student.  I got a job (FINALLY!) working in a private practice as a counselor, and we again had a full table for Christmas lunch today, with Kyah, Heather, and Darien, as well as Jason and I, Justin, Leah, and Katherine.

Here's praying that 2020 will be less eventful, but also full of great memories!! 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Sunday, July 14, 2019


Lonely doesn't even begin to cover where I am today. 

I'm sad. 
I'm grieving. 
I'm angry. 
I'm afraid...afraid that I'm on the edge of depression...afraid that a terrible injustice is going to ruin our lives...afraid that evil will prevail. 
I'm overwhelmed. 
And, yes, I am LONELY. 

I am so VERY lonely. 
Yes, there are friends. 
And yes, I can talk to some of them about some of the things. 
But, really I don't have anyone with whom I can talk about ALL of the things. 

So I heart eyes chest feels brain feels tired. 
And I know He hears...
...which is comforting...
...but still I am lonely. 

Because right now, I need someone with skin on to be Jesus to me... wait for answers with me... be parent-like to me... hug me while I cry... insist that I eat when I feel more like vomiting from the stress... help me laugh... distract me.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Today's News

May, 1987
Due West - Lynn Hestir Wegener, 74, died Wednesday, June 12, at AnMed Health in Anderson, following a brief illness.

Lynn is survived by Joseph, her husband of 52 years, her brother Brad Hestir and sister Lee Hestir Silver of western NC, sons David and James, daughters Laura and Naomi, 8 grandchildren and one great-grandson, and numerous family and friends. She is preceded in rest by her brother Brent and son John.

January, 2019
Raised in Texas, Lynn developed an early passion for literature and languages, earning a degree from Eckerd College.  She employed her linguistic skills in numerous local papers and periodicals, teaching at local public and private schools and colleges, and in homeschooling her children. Lynn also instilled a deep love for arts, language, science, and the Bible through daily readings to her family.
Lynn wrote, edited, and published articles in publications throughout upstate SC, including The Abbeville Press and Banner, The Honea Path Chronicle, Organic Gardening, Mother Earth News, and various other periodicals.
Lynn enjoyed volunteering with the American Red Cross, where her linguistic skills in Spanish, Russian, and German were used. She and Joe also sponsored multiple refugee families from southeast Asia and former Communist countries throughout the 80s and 90s, providing homes, jobs, and teaching English.
A graveside service is held on June 13 in Due West, and a memorial service will be at Temple B’nai Israel in Anderson June 16th at 4:30 pm.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Life goes on...and other indisputable facts...

Mayan ruins in Progresso, Mexico

It has been more than a year since we arrived in Illinois, and took up residence in what can only be described as the stinkiest town I have ever experienced. 

We have found an incredible church family, made friends, are part of a small group, are involved in music, and ministry, and school, and jobs...mine, Jason's, Heather's, Justin's, Leah's...Katherine is the only one who has yet to acquire a job...not for lack of desire. 

This year has been FULL.
January saw me and Katherine driving 12 hours to South Carolina, to spend the next two weeks while my mother was in the hospital, and then driving 12 hours back in a snowstorm.
Cruise pic
February is my birthday month...this year was my 50th, and Jason and I went for a cruise with some friends to Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico.  
Cruise pic

March was the month Jason and I went to Milwaukee, WI, for a weekend workshop for veterans who had been deployed, and visited with friends from our Bible college years who minister in Racine, WI.   

April 17th was the due date for our grandson, though he didn't arrive until the 25th.  Everyone was able to spend some time in Massachusetts, and I was privileged to be there for the birth, and act as doula.  Then Katherine and I drove 16 hours back to Illinois so I could be back at work. 

May is Indy 500 month...Jason and I were able to go for the first time, and he was honored to be included in some of the pre-race hoopla...and apparently ended up on TV.  We also had a visitor for a week, Justin spent a week in Louisiana for his best friend's graduation, and Jason was able to go back to Massachusetts to see the grandson for the first time. 

Meanwhile, Leah and Katherine finished up another school year.  Justin started classes at the local community college and has started the application process for some other schools.  Heather is working as a Manager-in-Training/Co-manager for her store.  Jon is still in Virginia Beach, working 2, or 3, or 4 jobs.  Frances and Nick are adjusting to life with a not-so-little new baby, and Frances is getting ready to go back to work...trying to figure out daycare logistics. 

Still waiting for life to slow down a little...someone please let me know when that happens!!

Jason wearing his Quilt of Valor

Four of the kids together in Massachusetts

Frances and baby boy Charles Judah

Justin went to visit his best
friend in New Orleans

Charles Judah...what a handsome little man!

Charles Judah is 1 month old!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Observations: On moving, and getting settled-in

As a preface, I tell clients that my training is in making observation of patterns of behavior and thought, and drawing educated conclusions from those observations.  That is how I think...I observe patterns. 

The topic of moving is VERY fresh and on my mind, since we are in the settling-in phase of a move.  We are feeling our way around a new area, learning streets, where the good restaurants are, where to grocery shop, finding doctors, and gas stations, and church, and friends.  This is always a mixed bag of sadness, and excitement, and anxiety. 

 From the moment of arrival at the new, empty house, all the way through until the last box is unpacked (HA!!), this process is hard.  We are exhausted from whatever travel we have had to do.  We are all overworked with the packing process, cleaning out the old place, disposing of things that didn't make the cut, and saying farewells to places and people who have been important to us.  We are emotionally wrung-out from everything, and on edge about what the newest adventure will hold. 

We are a military family.  By usual standards, we move a LOT.  In counting back over 26 years, Jason and I have lived in 18 different houses, in 6 states.  We have a lot of experience with what it takes to get through a move.  We may be short with each other, and grumpy, and eat too much pizza, but we survive each and every move. 

In addition to all of the newness of a new state, new service providers, new environs....the hardest is always the making of new friends.  We are ALWAYS the outsiders.  This is harder on some family members than others....the more extroverted family members tend to find it easier to jump in with both feet, seeming to instantly make connections, while others take a while to warm up to and make friends with these new people.  Some areas seem to make it more difficult to make friends...perhaps being less used-to having military families around means that there is less expectation of making quick connections.  As a military family, we KNOW the importance of making connections quickly, both of the networking variety, and of the friendship variety. 

We were sitting around our dining table the other night, talking about expectations, and how challenging it is that our expectations are ALWAYS wrong.  This is something I have struggled with for the entirety of our married life, and applies very aptly to this discussion.  In all of our 18 different locations, I have had expectations based on others' experiences of moving....the proverbial "welcome-to-the-neighborhood cookies/pie/meal".  That has NEVER happened.  NOT ONE TIME.  Never has anyone noticed the moving vans and come to knock on the door to even say "welcome".  NOT ONE TIME. 

Now, I know this is not a universal experience.  I know that there ARE welcoming people, and that those stereotypes/expectations are there for a reason...there ARE places and times that this happens.  It just has not happened for our family.  And that is a challenge for me...because some day, we will no longer be the perpetually-new people on the block, and I can be the one sending over cookies, and inviting the new neighbors for dinner or coffee. 

I genuinely look forward to that day!! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

On house-hunting, educational choices, and discrimination

There is an issue rolling around in my head that is somewhat new to me, and so I am going to try to process this here on paper.  Forgive me if this seems rambly. 

I know there are some of you who will laugh, and say, "Girl, WHERE have you been?!?  This is NOT a new issue!"  Forgive me...this has not been on my radar, AT. ALL.  Though, to be honest, it probably should have.  Just chalk this up to my privilege showing....

I know a LOT of people who try to claim that racism no longer is a major part of this country's makeup, and that discrimination is rare.  I beg to differ.... 

In looking for houses, one big thing to consider, as a parent with children in school, is the quality of the school district, and of the individual schools.  There is a rating system, and it is easy to quickly see how well a school scores because those scores are included on the websites with the houses that are advertised. 

So, we've been looking at houses, and by extension, looking at schools, for the last two months.  And I saw something that really has bothered me.  In the areas of town where the rent is the lowest, and there are a large number of rental homes available, the schools scored the lowest (and by lowest, I mean the worst).  In the area zoned for the "good" schools, there is practically NO rentals available, and even though we are SOLIDLY middle-class, we couldn't afford to buy the homes that were available. 

I KNOW.  Schools get money based on their tax base.  I know that's how they are paid-for.  I get it. 

I just want to know, if there is no classism, no racism, no discrimination, why children from lower-income families don't get the same priority for a quality education as those from homes with higher incomes?  Are their educations less important?  Is there somehow less value to them attaining a good education? 

Methinks there is something rotten in the state of Denmark....