Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Madness

There is something about being up at 2:00 AM that makes me productive. I'm not sure if it's the effort to distract myself from the thoughts that woke me up that early or just the fact that the house is quiet...but, there you have it. At 2 AM, I can get a good bit done. Emails, laundry, blog posts...

So with the passing of Halloween and Thanksgiving - and a short break before Christmas - I have just enough time to pass along what's going on here.

I planned a school Halloween party! I know, that's not where you expected me to start. Is it? But, I did. I planned the food, the game, and the craft. Drum roll, please. We made SLIME. One parent called me brave, another said what fun that was, and still another spent the entire party trying to fix everything she perceived as wrong. It was exhausting. I think I spent at least a week recovering, even though I still managed a few posts.

After the first two weeks of November the Holiday Madness sets in for me, though. And I began to feel that shortness of time and money and maybe sanity.  However, my madness is less about busyness and a surfeit of holiday invitations, and more a general and sometimes almost debilitating anxiety.

You see, I don't really remember most of the last few holiday seasons. I see the pictures. I know they happened...I just don't really connect with them.

In 2009, on December 14, I had Kasey. My little girl, born still, just ten days before Christmas. Then, on December 17, we buried her. I wore wind pants from the sports store because I couldn't bear to wear my maternity clothes, and having given birth only three days ago...well, let's just say the skinny jeans weren't happening. On the grayest day that I remember, in the loneliest place, we laid our daughter to rest. And all I really remember is spending that Christmas in my father's rocking chair, crocheting. I didn't really see anyone, not even my own children.

The next year was a trial of endurance. Could I survive this holiday? Could I smile and laugh, and make it special for my children when I hurt so much? What about the children who should be with us?

Well, we all know what happened in 2011, don't we? Not only did we lose our son Isaac on December 8, but the day we came home from the hospital...we found out that we didn't have a job either. I know some of you understand. Contemplating Christmas on top of two crippling blows was a tricky proposition. And all I really remember from that holiday? Trying so hard to make sure that my girls had something semi-normal.

So, the holidays have been hard. There's so much more to it than what I have the time or space for right here and now...but, they are like physical blows sometimes. I'm left clutching my gut, the air having been punched from my lungs. There is all the pain and sorrow that have surrounded our holidays - and then there's the guilt and need to not let that be how my children forever perceive what should be (and is) a joyous time.

Our Thanksgiving was special, with Turkey plates (courtesy of Dancer) and fall harvest napkins (Diva). We ate well, we played together, and we relaxed - we got to be together and that's truly special.

Now our Christmas tree is up! The only thing beneath it is a gift for Dancer and Diva from their great-grandmother, who apparently must Christmas shop in October (for goodness sake!). But, I'm sure that as December marches on, packages both big and small will fill up that space. Mostly for them, I'm sure. We'll bake cookies for Santa and I'll supervise Dancer making another batch of Cranberry Sauce. We will go to church and remember the birth of Christ...and pray for our own miracle.

I guess that we'll do what everyone else does - take the joy where we can. And I will do what I can to stay present and aware, to not lose another precious memory.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fading Quietly

I looked through our photo albums recently. At the pictures, side by side, that document our family's life. I saw Diva's first real smile, and the fit Dancer threw when we tried to make her wear shoes. Every gummy grin and family snuggle right there - it was amazing.

But it also brought a sense of loss.

Who is that girl? I wondered. When did she....fade?

Because that is what it feels like - like I faded, slowly. Until I am a mere shadow of who I thought I would be, who I was.

With my birthday fast approaching, the feeling comes over me more often. As I watch my friends on Facebook, call and email some, lose track of others...I see how different their lives are and have been from mine.

While they milked every drop of life from the college experience, I got married.

And while they traveled the country, and some the world, I had children.

Then, when they settled in with jobs and started to think about getting married...I started burying children.

All I ever wanted was to have a family. In fact, I was the person (informally) voted most likely to drive a minivan in High School. And to be a soccer mom. I took quite a bit of teasing for that.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not regret my choices. I would not trade my life for theirs. I think that just the disparity of where they are - and where I am - just hits me sometimes. Like the last decade aged me so much more than it did them.That somehow they escaped our twenties with more youthful optimism intact.

I don't know if that will make sense to anyone but me! But, it's true. I don't envy them their trips or parties or lives. I envy that sense of unshakable confidence that they still seem to have. And, I begin to see that it is not shocking that there is little common ground there anymore.

The people who I count among my closest friends, the ones who know me...they are like me. Maybe not in faith, or color, or status - but we find each other and there is a bond. There is a look in their eyes that I recognize, having seen it in the mirror.  I'm not sure what that says about the human experience...maybe just that we need to really see each other. Maybe even really share with one another. That way, we can love one another more fully, with more truth. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

We have been blessed, thus far, with a healthy baby. Every time we check on him his limbs are long and straight...his heart beats. This doesn't truly lessen my dread, or give me confidence. Instead, it is a recipe for day-to-day thankfulness. Thank you God that he is okay today.

But recently we spoke with the doctor. We asked  him, "Is it possible to take him early? If so, how early? When is it safe?"

We asked because they have never been able to tell us what happened. If we make it to a certain point, we thought, will it be possible to take him then? Can we ensure him being here if we are simply willing to accept that he might need a short stay in a hospital or some medical intervention early on?

Our doctor wouldn't commit - he wouldn't say it was okay. He said only if the health of the baby was endangered would something like that be considered....he cited the guidelines the medical community are governed by.

And then someone we know said something very interesting. He pointed out that if we wanted to abort our baby - even at that late stage - we could. But we cannot give him life early because of medical ethics.

How amazing, I thought, that we do not think about this in such terms. We never look at the premature babies, born four or six or even eight weeks early and think about people aborting their children at that stage. That those small helpless human beings are thrown away in our society.

I do not write this to be hurtful or to attempt to make some political or religious point. While those arguments could be made, they are not what I want....

What I want is for us to think. There are many who choose abortion because they are afraid, or alone, or because they think they have no other choice. I cannot imagine their heartbreak, and I hope that those among us who don't agree with their choice come up with ways to help them not have to.

But there are others who view abortion as a convenience, a choice that they have every right to make - and never consider what they destroy. 

My son has parents who love him. He has a name and a place. We are his family. How did we get to the point where it is okay (in some people's minds) to throw him away....because he isn't really a person?

The bible tells us that God knits us together in our mothers' wombs, that He knows the number of hairs on our head...that we are valuable, so very valuable to Him. We are His children.

How can we consider disposible what God deems priceless?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Free & Brave, Maybe...

When you love someone enough, they become woven into the very fabric of who you are.

But people are not all we love - and they are not all that make us. For me, Texas is woven into my soul. The size, the heat, and the pines. It is a magnificent place - and it has created within me an expanse and a spirit that relishes the larger than life.

But Texas is part of a larger idea. One of the largest ideas.

The United States of America.

Far from perfect, with a history that is dotted with both sin and extravagant goodness, it is a country built unlike any other...and has lifted up people of indeterminate origin or beginnings to unbelievable heights. It has both enslaved and freed people - and has struggled to live up to the ideals upon which it is based. Freedom, Opportunity, Inherent Equality

I am unaffiliated with any political party. I do not identify myself as Republican any more than I would call myself a Democrat - so please do no attack or dispute what I am about to say on such flimsy grounds.


I am afraid that my country, whose greatness I know and love, is changing into something foreign and disappointing to me.

I have watched my country, my people, for years. I have been saddened by our inability to face truths and make hard decisions. I have hurt as I realized that there are few, if any, that I believe care more about our country's welfare than about their own. Because what such attitudes fail to realize is that - if our country fails - so will we. If it fails to grow economically, so will our fortunes. If it fails to keep the rule of law, we lose our security.

And if it withdraws its presence and support in the world community, the countries suddenly jockeying for position on the world stage would sacrifice countless people to secure their place. People that we protect.

It has become popular, it seems, to denigrate the country in which we live. To put down it's origins, to define it only by it's mistakes. To ridicule it. Our country is far from perfect - I could list the features I find most irritating quickly and succinctly. No doubt you could, too.

But, what I do know is this: we are fortunate to live where we do. We are blessed to be able to express our faith and opinions freely. We are obscenely unaware of what we have been given - and what has been entrusted to us.

Consider our country - in it's entirety. Consider what you can contribute to make it a better place, and not what it can do for you.

"If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."

~ Thomas Jefferson



Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankfulness

November is a month of thanks - and I've noticed some of my friends doing something interesting...listing what they are thankful for each day. So, I thought I'd participate in a slightly different fashion. I'm going to list a few things here that I am thankful for. Maybe not one for each day...While there is plenty of material for that, it might let too long. Just a little glimpse, then, into what I thank God for every day. 

1. God - for without His love and grace I would be lost.

2. My Husband - his leadership in our home, his kindness to our children, and his love for me are all priceless gifts.

3. Dancer - whose graceful feet and sharp mind have lit up our lives, and our hearts.

4. Diva - with a belly laugh and infectious giggle that never fail to bring a smile to our faces.

5. My Mother - who always understands when I call to rant, rave, or cry. She is always there.

6. My Father - who always told the best bedtime stories when I was a child, and who (I'm sure) still tells them to my children.

7. My Home - which is my family. Where they are is where I'll be, and my heart will always be glad.

8. The Children I've Lost - for they have shown me not only the depths of sorrow, but also the breadth of God's love.

9. God's Word - where I have found comfort, instruction, encouragement, and even admonishment when needed.

10. Each day - which is a gift in and of itself. I do not know how many I have, but I thank God for each one.

11. Music - the music I hear in my home, and in my heart...the music that escapes my mouth. It expresses anguish and joy more fully than words, and is (I'm convinced) one of God's most beautiful blessings.

12. The churches I've known - what they have taught me of fellowship and love, and even the fallibility of us.

13. Friends - true friends, the kind that never waver, never disappear, and never hesitate to hold my feet to the fire.

Love - for without Love, I am nothing. Thankfully, though, my live is full of love - and thus my life is full. Not perfect, but so abundantly full of beautiful, wonderful things that to attempt to list them all is...impossible.