"But when everything looks bleak, the bright spots shine brighter."
To say that the past three weeks have tested my mettle would be an understatement.
For the majority of those 21 days, at least one person in our family was unwell. First, Glen hurt his back and spent a considerable amount of time dressing Daphne's Barbies for her while lying on the living room floor.
Then, something I ate left me with a severe case of food poisoning. Following that, each one of our kids battled one back-to-school virus or another. They had more sick days in the first three weeks of school than we had all of last year.
Unwell family members really wear a mom down. More than once I wished I had a do-over for the month of September.
On top of the physical challenges, it seems like every single news story I heard or read layered on mental and emotional anguish.
I didn't sleep for three nights after the details of Jacob Wetterling's kidnapping and murder were reported. I'm still uneasy. I was eight years old when Jacob disappeared. His last school picture - on the back of our milk cartons - joined me for lunch more days than I can count. Like every other Minnesotan, the mystery haunted me. Solving the mystery still seems unreal. And now, as a mom, there's a heightened level of worry for my own children.
An entire city block in our town caught fire last week, destroying historic buildings constructed by the town's founder back in 1887. The fire left families without homes and businesses without a place to do business. This was our town's second major fire in six months. Last March, our church burned at the hands of an arsonist.
Then came the news of the stabbings at the shopping mall in St. Cloud. This was not like hearing about attacks in other places. I shop at that mall several times a year. As the story of the events unfolded, I could picture the scenes exactly. There was no need for imagination.
Intermixed with all this are reports about our presidential candidates. I really don't think I need to say any more about the despair this causes. It's hard not to feel at times like the whole country - and maybe world - is going to hell in a handbasket.
But when everything looks bleak, the bright spots shine brighter.
I think that's why I was overcome with joy when my sister called to say that her water had broken.
[Read the rest of this column in the Dairy Star.]