Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BEST DAY EVER...Gone Terribly Wrong

This is probably going to be long, knowing me. I am still so upset I waver between crying fits and spitting nails.

84 degrees.

That's what the thermostat in my bedroom read yesterday at 4:38 am. Needless to say, peaceful sleeping had not been in the cards. And I was too groggy and sticky to think well enough to work on my last chapter- that's never a very good start to the day.

The forecast called for more heat and humidity throughout the day. Awesome. Jonah and I dropped off the youngest two for VBS while Ethan stayed home to mow the lawn. (All by himself- I'm still not used to that. And the neighbors hire him out, too!) We wanted to surprise Dad.

I decided we were going to the beach, even if we couldn't leave until after noon. Jonah and I zipped through the grocery store, and I tell you, I put so many things in that cart that I never buy! I don't know what got into me! But Jonah sure wasn't complaining!  =)

I hurriedly made lunch and packed snacks and drinks while trying to clean up a bit at the same time. Fail! The kitchen was rather disastrous by the time I got done- that's never a fun thing to come home to, is it? I think the heat had already begun to fry my brain. I know AC is pretty standard in other parts of the country, but not here where are summers are relatively short- it makes days like those especially sticky!

Everyone was enjoying the "car picnic" in a shady spot in the parking lot before we took off for the beach. The kids had had a fun morning at VBS, too- Caleb said a boy teased him yesterday. Hmpf!

Fast forward an hour and twenty minutes...we finally found a parking spot, emptied the van, plugged the meter and made our way to the sand. From here on out, I found myself thinking, "This is the best day we have had in a long time!" We even found a ton of little hermit crabs- I have never seen those on the beach before, ever! So neat!

The afternoon wore on and we had even more fun! Would you believe that I did not take even one picture? Gasp! Too busy for picture taking! But it was one of those days you store away in your mind and look back on with delight- nothing "special" had happened, but it was just one of those days you know you'll remember forever! Best day ever! And it wasn't over...Bill was grilling dinner for us, and he had gotten the 2nd Harry Potter movie from the library- this was sure to be a perfect ending to our perfect day!

So, the bright yellow envelope tacked under my wiper was not a very welcome sight, especially since I had just put in 8 quarters within the last 90 minutes. I honestly have no idea what happened! We should've had a full 2 hours...only we somehow didn't.

I was so disappointed and annoyed. And mad! I had chosen this farther-away beach to avoid the stiff $18 dollar parking fees at some of the other ones. Guess that didn't matter after all.

I phoned Bill to let him know we were leaving, and before I could even tell him about the ticket, he was ranting about the neighbors in the woods behind us having put up big orange and black NO TRESPASSING signs on our trees again. Trees that we look at out every window in the back of our home. Lovely. I was about to snap, so I muttered a quick goodbye, fighting tears the whole way. The kids already knew I was upset, but I was trying so hard not to ruin their fun day like that.

Then there was traffic. Lots of traffic. And inconsiderate drivers. Not too much fun.

By the time I pulled into our driveway more than an hour and a half later, I had decided that all of us were going to pay our neighbors a visit and ask what exactly we have done over the past nine years to warrant such hateful behavior. (This has been an on-going thing from them- signs, spray painting the trees that face our backyard, etc...) Silly me thought they might actually soften a bit when they actually saw us- they've never come to talk to us face to face, just done all that stuff. Well, technically, when I was hugely pregnant with Caleb, new to this area and neighborhood and didn't know anybody, one afternoon I came home with the boys to find this strange man lurking on the top of our hill in the backyard. I sent the boys inside and went to find out what was going on. You know what this guy said to me? Never met me before, he's wearing a tank top and has a beer in his hand, and says that he can do whatever he wants because he is on his land. No name, no "nice to meet you," no "Can we talk about something....?" Just intimidation and rudeness. Gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach back then, and it does now, too. I never knew what prompted such behavior from him in the first place, other than the fact that he hated this neighborhood being built. Not much I can do about that, mister. But this is our home. We do not go out of our way to be miserable neighbors with anyone.

I don't think I'm going to get into the gory details, but believe me when I say, there is not a soft bone in the wife's body. You can imagine how well a conversation (if that's what you can call it) is going to go when someone refers to your children as "your boys... those boys of yours...." with the nastiest, most spiteful sounding voice I think I've ever heard. No, it did not go well. This woman seems like a score keeper, but the most dangerous kind- she wasn't interested in discussing anything because she already knew she was right, about everything. The problems she was spewing about were things that happened the very first year we moved here- and she said I argued with her husband over property lines...the story I wrote about above. Maybe she is the type to let something simmer and fester so long the actual truth inevitably gets lost and distorted somewhere along the way.

The "conversation" got more and more heated. By this point, the husband had led Bill and the boys to "all the damage" they had done to their property (yes, technically it is) in the middle of the woods, nowhere near their yard or home. They dug a hole. To trap animals.

Wow. Really? I guess I just could not understand why they would not come speak directly to us about this if they had a problem. (There are also several walking trails throughout these woods that have been here for decades, according to other neighbors, as well as snowmobile trails. Many people hike through there.) But instead, these people stew and simmer and just plain behave badly. We would not have given the boys permission to dig that hole, and we intend to have them fill it in. Problem solved. But we never knew about it until yesterday, after all this.

Meanwhile, Isabelle had gotten scared by the woman (and yes, she is a Mom herself), so I simply turned to leave. What more can you say to someone who is so dead-set against you?  It made me so upset for my children, for them to see someone who is supposed to be mature and considerate and honest, lashing out against us, them, for things that we were being accused of that we have never done. It is just about the worst feeling in the world.

Then she screamed a swear at me. In front of my little girl. I don't know about you, but anytime someone directs foul language at me, it really gets to me. It's like the lowest of the low. Maybe I'm just super sensitive to it, I don't know. It isn't like that happens often, but when it does, it just kills me. I can't really imagine what goes through someone's mind who would say something like that to another human being.

And she said it in front of my daughter. It was a strange, instant switch from being mortified to being so angry and disgusted! I don't really remember what I said, but I remember that pounding in my heart and that horrible sickening feeling in my stomach because I have it right now as I think about the whole thing. I told her she should be ashamed of herself. It fell on deaf ears and what seems like a very hard heart.

But the truth is, I know nothing about that woman. And while it is easy to judge, she has a whole life story that makes her the way she is, and maybe it's filled with tragedy and sadness- I don't know. But I do know that I don't want to be the type of person who enjoys provoking others or takes delight in intimidating and mistreating people. 

There's other stuff too, and while my pride would just love to write it all down, what good would that do? There's private stuff as well, painful things that threaten to undo me and overwhelm me like nothing else can.

So now I will always remember this day, but it won't be the way I would like to. Life can be so hard.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14"
As quoted by Caleb beside me just now.  =)


Jenny said...

Oh Girl...I am so sorry you had such a tough day! I hope you'll be able to focus on the sweet moments you shared with your kiddo's at the beach and put all the awful stuff behind you! What an opportunity your sweet family has to be a witness to these neighbors. They obviously need the Lords love in their lives and your family radiates that love! Praying for you!!!

At The Picket Fence said...

Oh Bethany, I am so like you. Our tender, soft hearts can't imagine that there are people so hate filled in this world that they would spew such ugliness on all of those around them. I can feel your conflict between anger at what took place in front of your children and compassion and heart brokenness for two people who are obviously hurting beyond what we can imagine. I am praying with you that God gives you the means to show HIS tender love and mercy to them in spite of how hateful and bitter they have been to you. I am praying for a resolution to this situation so that your family can enjoy their yard and the surrounding woods without fear and nervousness. God will give you the right answer for this situation! Hugs to you!

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