Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The 4 Year Old's Gospel

When Dancer was four she attended a small private Kindergarten in Texas. It barely had a van; so when field trip days rolled around, parents with SUV s were recruited.

Thus it was that I found myself with four little girls packed into my RAV in the fall of 2010, just weeks before Dancer's birthday. We were headed to the zoo, and after the giggles and games and rowdiness got to be too much I put in the Action Bible Songs CD.

One girl, after listening to a few songs, asked who Jesus was.

Dancer was appalled. You know....Jesus, she said. He's the son of God. He died on the cross for our sins. But don't worry, she reassured her...He CAME BACK. 

Ohhhh, said another little girl. I know Him. I saw him at church during VBS

Dancer whipped her head around and stared at the little girl. Her mouth hung open and I thought her eyes were going to POP out of her head.

You've SEEN Jesus? she practically screeched.

You can only imagine how hard I'm trying not to laugh at this point. Because Dancer was absolutely dying that Jesus was apparently going to Church and had never come to hers.

After it was determined that Jesus was a statue, Dancer actually breathed a sigh of relief. She then proceeded to evangelize.

Gotta Love Her.

 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

With the Best Of Intentions

When I was seventeen I sat in a crowded auditorium full of teenagers and listened to a well known preacher (at the time) speak on love, sex, and marriage. Surely he made some good points, but the one that still, to this day, sticks with me is the don't gain weight so you'll still be attractive to your husband rule. No joke - this man bragged that his wife weighed within ten pounds of what she did when they were married 20 years earlier...and that's what he really appreciated. Because, you know, if you're just as pretty as you were when he chose you then he won't have to look elsewhere.

I remember feeling indicted somehow. Scared even. What will happen to me, I wondered, if I can't do that? And deep inside...really deep....I just knew there was something else. This was Christian womanhood? Watching the scale to make sure you didn't gain more than ten pounds during your lifetime?

Now, as an adult woman, I look back at that and cringe. And then I think of all the sermons and classes I've taken - the same lessons that young men have learned - about what a Godly Woman is. Most of them are about service. They are about how to serve our families, our churches, communities, and therefore God. They are about the parameters of service, the whys and wherefores of our service.

And while young men are off learning how to lead a prayer or give a lesson, young women are learning that being pretty matters and you should really learn how to cook.

So we're teaching young Christian men how to lead a church service, but not their homes and families. And we're reinforcing for young women that love is about their weight and their talent with a crock-pot. This isn't a Godly message. It's one that reinforces what the world has to say about womanhood. It's one that leaves the young mother wondering if she's done enough when there's still dirty dishes in the sink, or if she's given enough to her family and the elderly and the homeless and the church and that neighborhood dog...when she's exhausted and teary eyed at the end of the day. It's a message that leaves her feeling unloved and never good enough.

It is not ALL of the church, but it is enough of them to cause great confusion and hurt in our younger generations. In our teens - and in our young families. Because it is incredibly difficult to figure out how to implement the Bible knowledge into actual living when the messages are like the ones above. How do we instruct our young? How do older women mentor? How do men lead? And where is the heart of the matter? Because teaching women to serve is not a BAD message. It is simply insufficient.

Because the truth is this: my worth to God is not in my face or my crock-pot.  I am saved by the Grace of God, and His Spirit dwells within my heart. His Spirit which takes all that I am - all that God made me - and uses it for good...for His Glory. But only if I hear Him. Only if I hear that whisper over the cacophony of noise that is the media, the world, and sometimes the church.

I search my heart for the answers. Because here I am, an adult with children of my own, and I struggle to shut out the bad and only listen to the good. Listen to Him. How do I teach a new generation of women about love, and loss, and struggle, and faith without making the same mistakes?

And who will help me? Because the church sometimes likes to skate on the surface of things. This world is a hard place. It is no easier or smoother because of our Faith. We should not fear talking about the hard things. Some topics are messy. Or scary. Some we like to think someone else will take care of.

But if we do not speak truth to our young people - if they do not see the heart of God in what we tell them - then we have failed them.

"Oh, we know the expectations that have been laid upon us by our families, our churches, and our cultures. There are reams of materials on what you ought to do to be a good woman. But that is not the same thing as knowing what the journey toward becoming a woman involves, or even what the goal really should be." Captivating, Stasi Eldredge

Monday, December 2, 2013

Investing in the Future

Whew!

This time of year, it feels like we do nothing but GO. Even though I try pretty hard to subscribe to the KISS method of holidays, it still feels crazy. But that, my dears, is not what I'm on a roll about today.

OH NO! I have a very important question.

How on earth does Little Bit manage to STINK so badly after only one day without a bath?

One Day!

I mean, Dancer and Diva could go two or three days without a bath when they were babies and that sweet baby smell just got deeper and stronger. You could bury your nose in their rolls and just smell sweet sweet baby. Occasionally there was a faint hint of Sweet Potato in there. 

But after only one day - Little Bit smells like sweaty garbage. Sweet loving and wonderful sweaty garbage...but sweaty garbage nonetheless.

He's ADORABLE. His dimples and rolls, and he laughs like a loon at Dancer and Diva's  antics.

But he stinks. And he doesn't even DO ANYTHING. I mean, it's not like he's running around yet. I am much aggrieved at this turn of events. 

So this is definitely going to get worse, huh? Egads! I better buy stock in soap now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mummies

Egypt is a scary place pronounced Dancer at lunch time today. I would not like to live there. 

Me, thinking she is referring to something she's seen on the news...Well, it is a little scary sometimes. Why....

It's because we don't know the language she interrupted.

And....there's THE MUMMIES. 

I stare at her, nonplussed. The mummies?

Yes, she declares, I will never be able to get that out of my head. From Hitstory Day, you know.

Diva, with her best snicker, took the opportunity to laugh at her sister. Ha, Ha, Dancer's afraid of Mummies!

You don't understand, says Dancer, MUMMIES ARE REAL. They are DEAD PEOPLE with OILS AND STUFF rubbed ALL OVER THEM. 

*dramatic shudder*

Diva looks down at her soup....

Well, she said (somewhat philosophically), I didn't know THAT.




Friday, November 8, 2013

Dancer Revealed

One morning, Dancer came in asking if she could play with Little Bit. She said, I'll even change his diaper. Of course I took her up on that offer! Are you kidding me?

A little while later, bringing him back to me, she told me she changed a dirty diaper. Not that I minded, but I did say - Baby, you didn't have to do that. You could have asked Mommy for help.

With a dainty shrug and a wrinkled nose, she told me...That's ok, Mommy. It needed to be done.

I think I actually teared up. Because of what she said. Because of how she said it. And because it's not the first time recently that I've seen glimpses of what an incredible person Dancer is going to be.

Her understanding and maturity are growing by leaps and bounds. Oh I know there are always tough stages. There are days when she's still very much a child (thank goodness!). I cherish those times she still needs comfort and guidance or a bedtime story and snuggle. I know there are many things left to teach her. And I can't say I'm looking forward to the teenage years. ( I don't dread them, I just have a some lingering leeriness when I contemplate them.)

But how amazing it's been to see her grow. She was such a tiny tiny person when they sent me home with her - and with no instruction manual! Her body was soft and her bellow was LOUD. Her eyes glowed and her giggle lightened my heart.

And now her pragmatism makes me laugh. Her compassion makes me cry. Her smarts and responsibility make my heart swell with pride. When she expresses remorse for wrong I litterally ache with the knowledge of all the times she will fall and have to pick herself back up again - all the times she will stray from the path and find herself lost.

Those little moments are the ones I store away in the corner of my heart, knowing that she and God are giving me a tiny peek into what she can become. And after I give a prayer of thanks, I pray for guidance.

God, please help me. She's yours, too, and I need your help.


Friday, November 1, 2013

The End of CaptureYourGrief

During the month of October, I participated in Carly Marie's Capture Your Grief project. So many of you were kind and supportive observers as I participated with the large baby loss community in a wonderful and honest opportunity to speak to what grief looks like in our lives.

But it ended yesterday on a somewhat sour note. Millions of people saw and felt the need to attack a picture of her baby that one mother posted. The vitriol got so out of hand that Facebook started deleting photos and ultimately deleted the Entire Event.

I'll be honest....when I woke up and found out this is how it all ended, I teared up. And I felt angry at these nameless faceless people that felt the need to attack a picture - a picture that is probably one of the few things that mother has to remember her precious child. A picture that it took courage to share. She thought she had a safe place and ultimately, it wasn't.

After the anger came a deep well of sadness. Because what is it within us that took something beautiful and created such hate?  Because those last minutes when I held my babies...they were holy. The pain was eclipsed very briefly by the utter peace their faces bore. I don't have a picture of that - but I wish I did. And I would share it - if I thought I had a safe place.

But something in our society rebels against the face of death and loss - and refuses to see the holy in a mother tracing her child's eyes and nose and lips for the last time. Some rot in our cultures refuses to see these children as people. And that rebellion is seen in the anger they displayed, the disgust they didn't keep to themselves when confronted with such beauty.

Now, while the sadness is still there, grief is twined through it. Grief for people whose hearts are so hard that they must hurt another for no purpose - lashing out against their own discomfort they tear down what they do not understand.

My children's memory verse this week: I Peter 4:8

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I will love. And I will pray that my love helps someone else love - banishes some of their anger. And I will love because that is what I need to do. So that I do not take such bitterness in and let it swell. I will forgive - even though they don't want my forgiveness - because it is what I must do. I will speak my truth in love because I know no other way. 

Maybe someday my story and the stories of millions of families will not be so uncomfortable for everyone.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Letting Go

So today was History Day at school, and Dancer decided to go as Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt. And I, glutton for punishment that I am, decided to "make" her costume. One men's t-shirt, some silver posterboard, and a lot of super glue later...I began to doubt myself.

I thought she looked great - but what about the other kids? What about all the other moms who are truly crafty or just had more money to buy some awesome costume? Oh my gosh what have I done? was my general thought. I am scarring my child for LIFE with my only so-so craftiness.

But then, when we got to school, one of Dancer's friends ran up and exclaimed, "Dancer, you look BEAUTIFUL."

I wanted to cry. She looked so proud, she simply glowed. And she told her friend that my momma made it. They discussed the beads, and the colors, and which ones were the best. Her crown, too, got a lot of attention.

It made me realize something very important...that I will probably forget within days. I am so much harder on myself than I realize. My inner voice doesn't give me much credit - for love, for effort, for anything. How did my inner self become so freakin' critical?!

But Dancer...she really likes her costume. She's proud of what her momma made her. Her friends liked it (which, let's face it...that's important). And she's not any better or worse off than any other child in that class in the costume department. Some of the crowns were more elaborate, some less. Some had ripped up sheets glued or sewn to shirts as mummies. Some were store bought, some weren't. What mattered was that the kids were having a great time. And nobody was thinking....wow, Dancer's mom really dropped the ball there.

So today I'm trying hard to let go of the perpetual mom beat down. God has blessed me with wonderful children. They are my heart. And they love me. They're proud of me. That's worth listening to, not the endless loop of criticism in my head.

Go forth and conquer, moms! And have a little fun doing it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 25. #SAYITOUTLOUD

I've been thinking about it for days, and I can't decide on ONE thing. One thing that I want people to know? One thing that needs to be said out loud? It's impossible for me! Instead, there are a million things - so many experiences and thoughts and feelings that need to be shared. So many 'helpful hints' for those families watching this happen to their sons and daughters, sisters and brothers. So many things...

But for today - I will settle. One thing...and it's for those families and friends watching this happen - watching their loved ones lose a child.

DECIDE.

Make a conscience decision about who you are going to be for this mother and father - this family. Are you going to be supportive? Are you going to give them what they need? Are you going to worry about how this impacts them or about how it impacts you?

And if you DECIDE to worry about yourself...don't be so shocked when they have to let you go.

If you DECIDE that your comfort is more important than supporting them...don't be surprised when they can't be with you.

When you DECIDE that grieving with them is too hard...don't be taken aback when they don't want to share their joy with you either.

Make your decision. And be willing to live with it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 22. Words

I've discovered that my own words - the ones I pour out - are the ones that help me the most. Sometimes they are a celebration, sometimes a purge, often they are weary or angry or sad. But my words give my children a voice, and that has been the greatest comfort to me.

Usually I would record this for the rhythm, but I couldn't figure out how to upload it. So...here it is:

Swirls & dashes on my page, dark and deep - 
                 letters incomplete.
Words too slowly take shape - my pen cannot keep up
With the flood of thoughts that need...escape.
Memories of Joyful days, days with promise
When my body held you,
                   Deep inside my hips cradled you
Skin stretched around your kicks and rolls
Pressing hands to the tight swell,
                    You pushed back as if you knew me.
Your heart beat beneath mine
                Fast, a hummingbird's wings - small, but mighty
A miracle growing inside me.

And when you came, broken...
         No tears or cries to announce your coming
I held you again.
Wrapping you in blankets that would not keep you warm
                    And hands that could not keep you.
God, how I longed for the beat of your heart again.
                The pitter patter, fast fast beat that roared in my 
                 ears and now haunts my dreams.

My body held yours until it failed.
My hands held you until they wheeled you away.
My heart holds you now, more memory than real.
Not that ground, not that hard Texas clay
It doesn't hold my baby.

A whisper of a footprint upon this world,
But your mark on me is mighty.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 20. Hope

I hope that mothers facing this tragedy have supportive doctors, nurses, midwives, and doulas.  I hope that the tragedy they face is not compounded by the medical community - but that their anguish is soothed by the support of people who participate in the birth and loss of their child.

I hope that these parents reach out to others in this community. That they, from day one, do not feel alone - but know that they are surrounded and supported by people who grieve for and with them.

I hope they are able to look past the hurtful words and pathetic cliches that people will use, and be able to draw close to those who truly support their needs through this time.

I hope they are able to count on their families, so they do not experience those secondary losses we are all so familiar with.

I hope they have no regrets about the decisions they make for their child and for themselves. That they remember to be kind to themselves about decisions that have to be made quickly and in the midst of great hurt.

I hope that each and every one of these families find hope in the darkness. Their own tenacious hope...in something. Anything.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 19. Support

One night, completely overwhelmed, I sunk to the floor. With the couch at my back, tears poured silently down my cheeks. I could feel this hard knot of pain and heat in my chest that wanted to erupt. And I have no doubt that it would have been ugly. Screaming, raw awfulness could have poured from me in that moment.

But as I sat there, three year old Dancer came to me. Wrapping her chubby arms around me she said, It will be ok Mommy. Shhhhh, it will all be ok. I love you. 

There I was, trying so desperately to let nothing but the tears escape. To not crack the lid on the vastness of the pain within me. And that simple, simplistic, gentle reminder from my baby pulled me back. Back to the place we were in, and the moments we were in, and the life we were making.

She was my support. Not like my mother. Or my best friend. Not like the adults who were there and did their best to understand. Or my husband, who grieved with me. Or even My Angel.

Dancer became my reason to smile. The need to take care of her is what pulled me out of bed each morning. She didn't pass along cliches as thin comfort. She simply took me, her mommy, where I was and reminded me....It will all be ok. I love you. 

And, God forgive me, because I know I was suddenly a different mommy than she'd had before. I was fundamentally changed, down deep in the center of who I am. But she still needed me, and that made all the difference.  Her joy helped me find mine. And her love, absolute and unwavering, helped me heal.








Thursday, October 17, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 17. Time

There are few rituals in my life. Very few. With young children, with a baby...having a routine is work. Having rituals. That is even harder.

But I have one. One that has been inviolate for four years. The Wave of Light. Lighting a candle for the babies lost. Not just mine, but every woman's. Little lights across the world that light houses, mark them as houses of loss. And this year - I didn't get to.

My candle sat, unlit. And, oh, how it bothered me. How it still does. Two days later, and I see it and feel lost. Sad. A little guilty. Because it wouldn't light.

I castigate myself. How could you not have backups. Backup lighters, backup candles, backup ANYTHING!!!

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW COULD YOU BE SO UNPREPARED?




 

1 1/2 years since Isaac, a little over two since Kayla, 3 years since Nathanael, almost 4 since Kasey. Close to five since Jessie.

And every year, I've lit that same candle. Given to me by another mom, one who lost her son too soon. But this year I couldn't.

How long doesn't seem to matter much, does it? A candle is what trips me up this week. What sets me back. With a knot in my stomach and the need to swallow a little to often.

I've met moms who shed tears for babies and children lost a lifetime ago. Women who see that flame dance and pray, just as I do, for grace or comfort or just...peace.

A flame that is the outward symbol of an inward life - the memories we hold of each child gone too soon.

The numbers are just that. Numbers. The cold facts. They've been gone for years.  And that's so hard to fathom.

Kasey's grave has settled. It grows no grass, but is barren Texas clay. Their ashes rest on a shelf until we can afford something better. The children I have with me have grown so much, their chubby toddler cheeks giving way to the look of youth

Time just keeps marching. Over me sometimes. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 14. Family

My middle child says, "We are a five family now!" She tells everyone she meets. Saying it with wonder. Excitement. And relief.

We are a five family now. A typical family. A dad, a mom, three kids.

We go to school, to church, to parks. My children don't always behave, so there's the occasional meltdown or argument. We look normal.

In public. In our pictures. We look average.

But behind those things are the real story. Our real family. It has eight children. Eight pregnancy and birth stories. Eight joyful announcements to my husband. And eight perfect names. Eight children, five of whom live in heaven and a memory box. Every picture, ultrasound video, hat, and poem....in that box. And every name recorded in our bible.

The whole experience has redefined my definition of family. Because beyond the children we have with us, and the children we lost, there are others...people who now exemplify family for me.

The friend who ignored us and came to Kasey's funeral - even though we said family only. He simply couldn't let us go through that alone.

The friend who answered every late night call - and never told me my tears were too much.

The women who have surrounded me with their own pregnancy and birth stories - and are willing to listen to mine. 

My own mother. She held me when I thought I was broken.

People who hurt with us through our losses and rejoiced with us when Little Bit was born safely.

Family is not just people. Family are the ones there when you need them most. Family is LOVE.








Friday, October 11, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 11. Triggers


Doctors. I cannot stand doctor's offices. When they show me to that empty, impersonal exam room - there is a cold pit in my stomach. The crinkle of the paper on the bed makes me wince and swallow. While the nurse asks her questions, my eyes dart nervously around the room. And when she leaves...when that door clicks closed behind her...I shut my eyes.

I have to concentrate on breathing. Trying to keep it regular, evenly paced. I pinch my nose trying to prevent tears. But it hardly ever works. And as my heart pounds and my breathing turns ragged, I start to sweat.

If they leave me alone for more than a few minutes, I can have a full blown panic attack.

That's right. A panic attack. In a doctor's office. Because every time I walk into one, memories wash over me. Every OB visit where we watched our babies grow and move. Every measurement we took and test we ran. And every time they checked, only to tell us that their hearts had stopped and we were headed down that same path we'd taken before.

So, yeah...doctors are a HUGE TRIGGER.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 10. Beliefs

I believe there is a God.

I believe Heaven is real.

I believe that each of my children has a soul - and that their souls reside with God.



I do not believe that their deaths were punishment.

I do not believe that "God took them" for some higher purpose.

I do not believe they are roses or angels in some heavenly realm.


I do know that having them, and losing them, has changed me - in some ways for the better.

So sometimes I believe that losing them, while not God's fault, can perhaps be in His plan for making me who I need to be.

But I don't believe that every day.

Some days I believe that losing our children was an awful thing that simply happened, and there is no reason. Those are the days I cry the hardest...



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 9. Music

When we left the doctor's office, we did so in silence. The nurses didn't speak and neither did we. Tears rolled down my cheeks and we carried children who were stunned into silence at the devastation they had just witnessed. They clutched our necks so tightly.

When we cranked the car, this song played.

Shadow of the Day

We sat, and we listened. Then we turned off the music. And we drove away.


Monday, October 7, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 7. Here & Now

Sometimes on Sunday morning a little boy sits with us at church. With his tousled blond hair and little boy exuberance he delights my girls. And sometimes, watching, my heart hurts. Not a lot...just a little. Because he fits perfectly in the GAP. The gap between Diva and the baby. A five year gap born of loss. All those years that everyone else sees as simply empty.

So right now, right this minute...I fight grief. Even though I know better.

I want to push and shove and beat it back, to say that it cannot have any more of my heart or my life. That it cannot sneak into my heart and hurt me that way.

I've become caught up in the world's view that feeling grief is somehow bad. There must be something wrong for me to feel grief so keenly still. Maybe you are broken, that little voice whispers. If you were a stronger person, Christian, mother....then you would not still hurt.

But then I remember that I have been here before. And survived. That I will again. And that grief is not all about despair, but equally about LOVE. For you cannot truly grieve the loss of what you do not love.

And I loved my children. With every bit of me. Wholeheartedly. Completely. There are, quite literally, not enough words for how wholly they held my heart. Grieving that empty space in my arms and my lap is not wrong. It doesn't end or go away. It...comes and goes.

Rushing in sometimes, taking over a moment or memory. Or stealing in like a shadow, hanging on the edges of something joyous. It is better to let it come. Then let it slip away.

Friday, October 4, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 4. Legacy

My children left me with the knowledge that what I see is not all there is.

That just as people see our family and do not know of our missing children...

I will look at them and not know their stories either.

So I try, as much as I am able, to practice compassion. That is their legacy. They left me a more compassionate person.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 3. Myths

The greatest myth is that they are not worth grieving.

Kayla Lucille

It's the myth that, for me, did the most damage. I fought against the idea that they weren't people, didn't matter, or at least I didn't know them. Because they mattered. And each child was worth grieving.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 2. Identity

When I was three or four months pregnant with Dancer, I wandered into the back of a Barnes & Noble and stumbled onto the baby books. Thirty minutes later I stood crying, hugging the small mound of my tummy - scared of all the awful scary things that could happen if I ate the wrong thing. When my husband found me he snatched the books away from me, forbade me to read any more (during the entire pregnancy), and then bought me a baby name book. 10,000 Baby Names...

I cannot tell you how many nights I sat in bed with a highlighter, looking for the perfect name for our baby girl. I read the whole girl section aloud to him - much to his chagrin. We bickered and laughed and eventually picked the perfect name.

We did that for every single one of our babies. Did you know that? With that same book, with my husband, and later with my daughters...we picked our babies' names.

Jessie

Kasey Klaire

Nathanael James

Kayla Lucille

Isaac Damon

I made lists of first and middle names. I asked my best friend which ones she liked. I looked at the meanings of the names. They had to be perfect. When Dancer, at five, wandered through the living room and told me that this baby's name HAD to be Isaac, I said ok. And then I let her sit down with the baby book and pick his middle name as well.

We found out we were pregnant with Kayla when my husband's grandmother died - and gave her Lucille's name in love and memory.

Nathanael means gift from God.

Kasey means active, which we thought was funny because she moved so much. We thought she would have to be a firecracker to keep up with Dancer and Diva.

Jessie means wealthy, the way we felt from the minute we found out that number 3 was on the way.

Those names are everything. They are a big part of what I have left of my babies. The memories surrounding them are caught up in where I sat, what I wore, and what was said as we picked the perfect names.

We did what every expectant parent does. But no one ever asks their names....

It's like they don't want to know.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CaptureYourGrief. Day 1. Sunrise

 Sunrise is hard to capture in the valley. The light arrives hours before the sun, and the tops of mountains are fuzzy and distant looking as the day begins. The surrounding mountain peaks are softened by the dim light. And then, in a sudden burst - the sun is there. Its light blinding. Warmth, too, is immediate. Sky clearing of any haze, the rocks are thrown into sharp relief against a clear blue.
They have their own kind of beauty. Not the kind I grew up around - not what I'm used to. But an incredible...harsh majesty. They remind me how small I am, but also how tenacious the human spirit is. For we carved out paths and ways through and over the grim mountain planes.
There is no softness here to disguise the creation. And I have discovered a kind of comfort in that.

Each day the sun rises, and I rise with it. God has given me another day - to live with joy and love with abandon. I have learned to thank Him for every one.












Colorado, US

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Devil Made Me Do It

Sometimes I know that what I've lived through helps others. A phone call or a note or a talk that helps another. And those are the days when my grief and hurt and loss don't feel as heavy a burden. Every once in a while, the compassion that despair carved into my soul is the perfect comfort for someone's pain. Then I thank God for the heart he gave me that feels their hurt so keenly...and for putting the words they need to hear in my mouth.

But the same hurts that forged me are the ones the Devil has used against me.

I told someone once that the devil lived in the dark. I knew he did - because that's when he spoke to me.

You are not loved, he said.

God has found you unworthy, he sneered.

God has left you...alone, he whispered.

No one is going to help you, he told me.

You will never make it, he chanted. 

In the light of day, I knew his lies for what they were - the great deceiver attacking my vulnerable heart while I was down and out.

But in the dark, in the lonely quiet of sleeping children and a traveling husband...

When all the chores were done and there was nothing left but to be still...

That's when he came. And he hurt me. His voice was accusatory, his words felt like truth. Because don't we all wonder sometimes, what did I do to deserve this?
  
Then we hear him. He steals in and speaks to our greatest fears and hurts.

Peter likens the devil to a prowling lion. Slunk low to the ground, stalking us...ready to devour us. A lion observes his prey. Attacks when it is most vulnerable. I don't think Peter picked that simile out of thin air. The devil has power, and he uses it on us.

Be wary of the voices that hurt the most. Those are not love, they are not of God. They come from darkness, from our own pain. And if we let them gain the upper hand, they can destroy us.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let it Go!

I'm shaking my head, dusting off my hands, and taking deep breaths while counting to like...100.

Because I'm done - absolutely DONE - with this internet controversy that's sprung up in my Facebook feed and email inbox.

You've all seen it...well, most of you probably have. A mother wrote a blog post about girls' provocative photos, and about 1000 people wrote hateful responses.

They've accused her of "slut shaming," "endorsing the rape culture," and "confusing her sons' sexuality." She's been called creepy (for noticing the sexy photos), a hypocrite, and more.

And it WON'T STOP!

It just keeps popping up in my world.

Now, I've written about my daughters. How I want them to value themselves and how I want them to dress modestly (as much for themselves as anything). I want to teach my son, too, how to respect women and treat them well.

But we have to acknowledge that in our world...we've sold objectification as empowerment. And we've told young women that their sexiness has more to do with who they are than their talents, smarts, and very real beauty. We've made sex about instant gratification instead of love, commitment, and very real joy and pleasure

And then we complain about our kids having sex too young and the teen pregnancy rate. We bemoan the fact that they have hidden online lives, and hundreds of people feel the need to excoriate a woman who's involved in her children's online interactions.

Let's be 100% honest here.

There is a difference between a snapshot of us (women) in a swimsuit at the beach and one with a fully made up face, blown out hair and pouty lips while posing scantily clad on a bed. Come on! Who doesn't get that?

Disagree with the woman's policy if you want, but don't be disingenuous. None of us (at least the people I know) want our daughters posting THAT kind of picture.  The kind that is specifically intended to provoke a sexual thought, response, etc. in a boy/man.

Not because men can't control themselves, and are lustful beasts, but because there's a time and place for exploring our sexuality. And Facebook just isn't it.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Techno Talk

"If there's one thing we should have learned, it's that..you know, our brains have always outraced our hearts. Our science charges ahead while our souls lag behind."  Lee Adama - Battlestar Galactica

Who knew? Wisdom in Sci-Fi.

It's true, though, isn't it? Our technology and ability outruns our hearts and souls to an alarming degree. It outpaces our debates on whether or not something is right, wrong, beneficial, harmful, or just a bad idea. We forge ahead with ideas without considering the long term consequences. All we see is the next horizon - the next breakthrough.

One of the most interesting things I studied while obtaining my Masters degree was the Internet. It's history, growth, organization, etc. Amazing! Fascinating! Exhilarating! And SCARY. Because the internet has (like anything else) a dark side.

Cloning. Engineered everything. Weapons and War.

Usually the very things we develop to benefit people are used to harm them as well.

We are all raising children in that world. Let's practice a little kindness for one another as parents. Because the world, and all the ways our children can be hurt in it, are a little scary sometimes. And we are all doing the best we can in the face of some big questions.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prejudice or Simple Disagreement?

We seem to have reached a point where we are incapable, as a culture, of differentiating between Prejudice (which is bad) and Differing Opinions (which is fine).

I do not have to agree with all the choices of those around me - how they raise, feed, clothe, or teach their children. The company they work for, their stance on the legalization of drugs, the AHA, gay rights, abortion, or Common Core.

Neither does anyone have to agree with me.

But I am getting worn out on all the outrage associated with topics too numerous to list here. And everyone calls Prejudice! Bigotry! Hatred! Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! Until the ability to live together and have civil discourse about our opinions, beliefs, and/or code is destroyed.

People have the habit of saying that history will sort it out. Maybe. It will certainly decide the "winners" and "losers" of any given argument. (Keep in mind that doesn't mean the winner is necessarily right.)

But the picture is only complete if ALL of the voices are heard.

I detest name calling. Hatred makes me cringe. I hurt when I hear people claim to believe in God and lash out at others in His name. That is prejudice.

But so is calling me a Bigot simply because I'm a Christian. So is deriding my choice to stay home with my children as backward or ignorant. Silencing me simply because you don't agree with me is prejudice. Attempting to discount my opinion because of where I'm from, my gender, my skin color, etc...that is prejudice. 

Don't like me? That's ok.

Don't agree with me? That's ok, too.

It should be fine for me to disagree with you as well.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One of Many

Little Bit,

I've waited for you....well, for a really long time. Sometimes it seemed like forever. And sometimes, while I was waiting, I lost hope. And faith.  But here you are. Right here next to me. Snuggled up to my side, having soundly kicked your Daddy out of bed. You are warm and soft. Your breath puffs gently against my skin. I can't help but stare at you. I trace your tiny ears and chubby cheeks with my eyes and my fingers itch to touch you - but I don't want to disturb such peaceful sleep.

Sometimes the miracle of healthy children is one we take for granted. We grow up, get married, and we think that the family we want will quite naturally follow. Sometimes they come unexpectedly, like your sister Dancer - but never unwelcome. And sometimes, the miracle is cut short and pieces of your heart are lost to children who will never walk this earth with you. 

I don't know how you are here. But I know to Thank God. Because there is no explanation, no medical intervention...there is nothing that explains how you are here when so many of our children aren't. You are my very own miracle.

There are times I fear that God will ask me to give you back. That he will give me you or your sisters for only a while. It is a fear that every parent knows in some measure, especially when they look out at the world. It is not always a safe place. 

But right now I hold you tight, storing up all the cuddles and kisses and songs I can get before you grow  out of them. Before you become one of the rough and tumble toddlers or the fearless climber - before my daily heart attacks or your first cast. And every time I hold you and sing to you and pray over you, my heart heals a little. I feel a little bit of light and hope creep in where darkness has had the upper hand. 

There is one more thing. I love you. Always. I want you to know that you were loved before you were born, and you will be loved always. Whether you are obedient or obstinate. Whatever you grow up to be, and whatever mistakes you make along the way. Whether I agree with your choices or not. You are mine, an incredible gift. 

Love,

Mommy

Friday, August 9, 2013

Raising People

I shook my head when I read yet another article that was so stinkin' heartfelt and lovey-dovey about being a mom that I wanted to gag.

I LOVE MY CHILDREN!


But....

I am not their friend.

I am not going to cater to their every whim.

I am not going to let them believe that the world revolves around them. Because (surprise!), it doesn't.

My general philosophy is that I need to raise my children to be people that others can stand to be around.

So....people who keep their commitments, people who are kind, and on time. People who are respectful and strong in their convictions.Who know how to conduct themselves with dignity and decorum in the public sphere. (That last one is courtesy of my Mom!)

That doesn't mean I crush what makes them special - it means that they understand there's a time and place for everything. There's opportunities to play and be as wild as kids can be. And there are times when they need to be helpful or quiet or attentive.

I don't need my children to like me. In fact, I'm pretty sure that in my role as their PARENT they will sometimes think they hate me. Shoot, they may actually hate me. But that doesn't relieve me of my God Given Responsibilities to them. I'm not going to pussyfoot around my own children.

(stepping off soapbox now)

Bye-bye!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

School Days

I have TWO KIDS IN SCHOOL!

How did this happen?! (Insert wail of despair and gnashing of teeth here.)

And while Dancer and Diva are off filling their heads with both the useful and infinitely useless - the baby and I are staring at one another warily. His gaze seems to say, "OK, mom....what you got up your sleeve now?"

Because, let's face it, I'm not as entertaining as his sisters.

But, regardless of whether or not I was ready (and I wasn't), school is here. The days have become filled with laying out our uniforms, and packing lunches. Checking homework folders, and rearranging nap schedules. It has been complete and utter chaos. Controlled chaos is still chaos and is still exhausting.

Diva's take on her very first day of school ever...."Well, I didn't bite anybody."

That's good, baby. Very good. Keep up the good work.

And Dancer seems relieved to be back in school. In fact, they both walked away without a single glance back. That is either an indictment of my mothering or an endorsement. I'm choosing to see it as the latter.

All in all, having them both in school is....OK. Not awesome, or any of the other adjectives I kind of thought would be appropriate if given significant blocks of time away from my children. But OK. I can live with it, I guess. I think the real crux of the problem is this...they are growing up. And I'm not ready for them to. I look at them and think about all the things I've seen them learn and do, and how much more I want to teach them before they go out into the world. And then I realize they are already out there. They are already making their way.

I look at them and know that they are making their way, steadily and far too fast, towards a time when their decisions and mistakes, and their lives will be all their own. I'm praying very hard that I'm making them ready.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Thing

Dancer wasn't even two when she decided that ballet was her thing. "I want to do that," she declared emphatically, pointing at the TV. I laughed and told her Daddy that she was too young. No one will teach her yet, I said. If she's still asking in six months, we'll see. And in six months...she was still talking about ballet. And at six, she would rather go to ballet class than anything else. She asks for more classes. She practices voluntarily. She has a barre in her room!

Along comes Diva, watching everything Dancer does. She turned three and insisted on taking ballet. From the beginning it was clear that ballet was simply not her calling. Not that she couldn't do it - but that she doesn't really want to. She just doesn't care about ballet the way Dancer does. She's more likely to count the ceiling tiles during class than actually learn her dances. But, any time I mentioned her trying something else...complete and utter meltdown.

But she's five now, with two whole years of ballet under her belt. And I've gotten tired of watching her struggle in something that is clearly a waste of her time and our money. So, I pulled the plug.

But when I told her teacher that August would be Diva's last month of ballet, the woman looked relieved. So relieved, in fact, that I'm struggling not to be offended. In the classic conundrum of mother's everywhere, I know my daughter is terrible...but that doesn't mean you get to say it!

Not only was the woman relieved, she almost thanked me. And she made not one single attempt to talk me out of it! Now, I get it. This is the child that falls out of her chair at the table and trips on thin air. I think the words vivacious and dramatic and mischievous describe Diva better than graceful or precise. I can see her in drama, playing the drums, or doing jazz before I can see her in ballet.

Whereas Dancer is precise personified, Diva sometimes defines chaos.

We are, therefore, embarking on an exciting journey. We will be attempting gymnastics, Kenpo, possibly a musical instrument. We are leaving no stone unturned in the quest to find Diva her thing
Hers. Not Dancer's, or mine, or her father's. Something that she does well and can love (or at least enjoy).

We may need prayers. This could get messy.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Diva Strikes Again

Grocery shoppng with three children is a Wham, Bam, Thank you ma'am proposition. Pull up, park (hopefully not too far from the entrance), and herd Dancer and Diva while praying Water Boy doesn't take a dive for the pavement. By the time I have a buggy and have arranged everyone to my satisfaction, I'm already sweating and praying for a Dr. Pepper. And that list that I've been crafting for three days while serving croutons in the place of crackers...well, it's on the kitchen counter. NOT IN MY HAND! We won't even talk about trying to put the buggy away (because really, leaving three kids in a car alone to do your civic duty should NOT induce waves of guilt and panic).

Some might think that having hubby along for the ride might help. But it doesn't. Because he's busy wandering the store while the kids shout, "Where is Daddy?! Where is Daddy?!" While they peek around the aisle corners to see if they can find him.

But today took the cake. Because after the hectic shuffle of the grocery store - and Daddy very nicely buying Mommy a cold Dr. Pepper (it helps, it really does), we got THIS.

Hubby and I sat in the front seat, patiently waiting for the green arrow and delightedly discussing our incredible produce buys when Diva pipes up with,

"Where do you get babies from when you grow up to be a Mommy?"

I glanced at Hubby, who was trying desperately not to laugh and realized he would be no help at all.

And, given that it was 100 degrees outside and I had just completed a grocery trip with the entire freakin' family - I was not up for lengthy explanations.

So I simply said..."From God."

Whereupon Dancer felt the need to throw in her two cents.

"Yeah," says Dancer. "God grows them in your tummy and then they get borned."

10 second pause

"Don't you need a husband, too?" asked Diva.

"Yes," Dancer replied. "That is good to have, too. You have to get married, then God can give you babies."

And then the light turned Green. Thank you. Just....thank you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Calling

I Googled it."Women's roles in church."

(Side note: how did a brand name become a VERB? My soul just withered a little.)

Over 8 million results! Clicking on and reading just the first five I rediscovered what I already knew - there is a deep divide within the hearts and minds of Christians over the extent of women's participation in what I'll refer to as the assembly. For the rest of this blog, we'll just assume I'm talking about the Sunday morning, 10 AM, singing/preaching service that many of us call church when I say assembly.

Women discuss it - at length. Faithful, loving women. And even there, the divide is...well, divisive.

Can we serve communion?

Can we lead singing?

Can we preach?

Can we lead ministries?

Can women be elders?

These questions and many more are pervasive in today's church. And there are women, men, denominations, etc that come down on both sides of the issue. Some would say that church shopping is the answer - just find the church that agrees with you!

But my heart just won't accept that answer. As a woman of faith, I comprehend that there are many issues that are matters of conscience. Romans chapter 14 (just to name one) makes that clear. And things that are permissible that are not advisable, simply because how they affect fellow Christians.

Let me make a couple of things clear. I am NOT a bible scholar - I cannot debate the original Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic. I am a mother of DAUGHTERS, who will grow up to be (I pray) women of faith themselves. Women who contribute to God's Kingdom, in small or grand ways - I don't care which. This issue is one I study and pray about. One I discuss with my friends. So my beliefs are not randomly constructed, nor are they the product of tradition, which has become a thing eschewed by many.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a second class citizen in the Body of Christ. I do not now, nor have I ever, felt like a second class citizen in the Body of Christ. I do not need to preach, lead singing, lead prayers, or be an elder, to feel that I participate and contribute to the Body of Christ. In fact, the scriptures indicate that these things are outside my purview, simply as a matter of public leadership within the assembly and Body.

To those women who do feel they must have these rights, I have questions. Why is this important to you? Is it simply because you feel equality means sameness? Do you have to have the same job as your brothers in Christ to feel as important? Do you desire these responsibilities because Men of God are failing in them?

When I read my bible, I learn many many things. Not the least of which is that I am a child of God. And that God loves ALL his children. That as with any family, each child has different responsibilities, different talents and roles, and that each is absolutely necessary for the health of the whole. And that my role is critical to the Kingdom. As is yours.

In an effort to attract people to our cause, we have adopted the world's culture. Our attitudes have begun to reflect the world's, not God's. God never said that women were less, simply that their role is different. Submission is not total silence. Grace is not giving in. It follows that public leadership does not mean strength. Part of our problem is the way we are defining the issues. Look deep. God does not call his children to do things they are not designed to do. Is our own arrogance getting in the way of God's plans for us? Is our striving drowning out his love and guidance?





Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cliches and Truth

Cliches are cliches for a reason - they contain a kernel (and sometimes only a kernel) of what we know to be true.

But sometimes they are all truth and all wrong...all at once. Like, you can't go home again. Because, well...you can't. Not really. But, then again - there's no place like home. Just ask Dorothy.

She was right. There is absolutely no place like home. As I stepped out of the airport in Texas, the humidity settled its weight on my shoulders and a trickle of sweat ran down my neck. Immediately. The green of the pines and oaks was intense, and hay bales dotted the landscape. The highway was bustling with trailers, tractors, eighteen wheelers, and trucks. And when we stopped for supper, the restaurant actually served sweet tea. We got to mom and dad's close to bedtime. The kids stayed up late. I unpacked. We were home.  

It felt like slipping on your oldest, most comfortable set of slippers. The ones that are so old they shouldn't be comfortable anymore - but are the only set you have that truly are. The ones that are so fitted to you that every new pair feels alien.

Home is like that. Nothing has ever fit quite as well as home - the place where I became.

But there's truth, too, in saying you can't go home. Not fully. Or completely.

Every new place and experience has changed me. As comfortable as home is, and as familiar as it is to every sense I possess, I know that I am different.

Somewhere along the way I learned who and what I am, flaws and all. I learned to see my beauty and my strength. To accept life's trials but never let myself be defeated by them. I learned to be myself.

Home, in some ways, is for the child in me. For a more childish version of myself. The people and the places there belong to a different me. And after a while, that chafes a little.

So perhaps those two should be combined.

There's no place like home, where you can go and rest for a little while. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

A Mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart...
                 Franchesca Cox 


Mother's Day is coming...

It's one of those days on the calendar that I'm not entirely sure I'm excited about. I love the opportunity to tell my mother how much I love her, and how much she means to me. When I think about all that she is, the cards or gifts or flowers never seem like enough. I wish I could give her the world.

And it's a day that my children want to make special for me. They draw pictures or dance for me. When they are a little older, I'm sure they'll attempt to cook for me. I did for my mom. Even when it doesn't turn our perfectly, or when they leave a mess, I'm sure I'll love it.

I'll also probably wish, as most mother's do, that Mother's Day actually meant a day off from mothering. You know it's true!

But Mother's Day is hard. And I know so many women that want to hide on Mother's Day. I know I've wanted to...and have. The Hallmark aisle, the carnations, the sermons, and baby dedications. Sometimes I think this day is...awful.

For women who have lost their mothers....

And women who want, but cannot have, children...

Women who have lost children...

Why, oh why, do we have to try so hard to make this day special - and sometimes fail so miserably.

For several years, I walked out of church on Mother's Day. When they called families with new babies forward to pray over them - I walked out. Out the back door, through the foyer, and into the sunshine. Sometimes all the way to the car. Most of the time I even remembered to tap my husband on the shoulder. "I can't," I would whisper. He would nod, and follow later with the girls. Walking to our car, I certainly attracted attention. People's eyes would linger and follow my progress. But no one ever stopped me.


There are so many women whose hearts hurt on Mother's Day. Women whose hearts we hurt on the Lord's Day.

The saddest part is that in our efforts to recognize Mother's Day, we rarely recognize the ways in which all our women mother.

Growing up  I had a Sunday School teacher who was (at least) in her seventies. She had been teaching for generations. I memorized verses, and the books of the bible, and absorbed so much knowledge under her tutelage. She mothered me and countless others. 

My first grade teacher was the kindest, gentlest teacher I ever had. She was always ready with a hug, and even helped lead my girl scout troop. She mothered me.

Grandmothers, aunts, friends...Women are amazing for the love their hearts can shower on people. Their own children, other people's - anyone really.

Maybe the trick to Mother's Day is to try and recognize and appreciate all the ways the women around us mother. To recognize what they give to those around them, whether their children are here with them, in heaven's embrace, or are known only in their hearts.

Recognize the spirit that is Mother. So that the day does not have to wound so many. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

She Did it Again!

I broke my own rule.

*sigh*

I knew better....but I did it anyway.

WHAT? you ask. What did I do?

Well, as my good friend Maria would say, "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start!"

I sat on the couch, minding my own business - and feeding Noah (to be precise). Diva had been in her room for a few minutes...Dancer was at school. I suddenly realized, "Oh, no! I need to get the laundry moving!"

Good and generous mommy that I am, I called out to Diva, willing and ready to give her an opportunity to be helpful.


"Diva sweetie, come here for a minute!!!!"

When she walked into the room she was holding her throat, working the muscles and grimacing mightily. I wondered, but I did not ask. It's just my policy, you know? Unless there's screaming, blood spurting, or visible bone....just don't ask.


So I told her to get the towels out of the dryer, and just kept my head down. It took her five trips to get the towels to the couch. Mostly because she was using ONE HAND. The other stayed on her throat, while she occasionally coughed, swallowed, and rubbed.

Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore.

"What is wrong with your throat?" I asked.

"There's lotion in my throat." she says.

Now, I should have stopped while I was ahead. I mean, really...at that point, was anything she said going to make sense? But, nooooooo! I just had to ask.

"How did lotion get in your throat?"

Slumping her shoulders and tucking her chin into her chest, she says "I don't know."

"You don't know! What, did you squirt lotion and it just flew into your throat? Did you put some lotion on your hands and just....eat it? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?"
 
"NO!" she says. And then, in her most indignant voice, "I put it on the BACK of my hand!"
 
She put lotion on the back of her hand and just decided for no apparent reason to taste it.

So after determining that we were talking about the Medicated Gold Bond Lotion from the bathroom, we flushed the affected area with water and waited for the cold rather tingly sensation to fade. Don't worry, I checked with the pediatrician - there won't be any permanent damage.

SERIOUSLY?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For the Ladies

"Let's just call them what they are...denim underwear. Any time you have to constantly pull them down to cover your butt - they're not shorts."

That was me. In the car with my husband. In one of our many discussions of fashion, modesty, and young women. The topic is one so much discussed because we have daughters. Dancer and Diva are beautiful. Aside from their physical appearance, we do our best to raise them to be beautiful on the inside. Godly young women who understand their worth. And their worth is so much more than the amount of skin they expose.


"You are only as beautiful as you act." I sometimes tell them. And then I tack on Proverbs 20:11.

Even a child is known by her actions, by whether her conduct is pure and right.

Their conduct includes the clothing choices they make. In this, more than any other realm, my husband has helped me fight the good fight. He has complimented my modest clothing and subtle makeup. He makes a point to compliment the girls on their appearance, especially their neatness and modesty. He doesn't spend his time ogling women in parking lots, and never makes crude jokes about women (who are, of course, someone's daughter!).

In fact, when confronted with a young woman who exposes more than she should, he looks away. As he told a co-worker once, "Man...I have daughters."

So here's my plan:

1. Make sure my daughters understand their worth to God. He cares for them as a Father, and woos them as would a Groom. They never have to worry that they are alone. And they should always know that they are loved. Incredibly valued.

2. Give them a purpose. Sometimes we doubt our beauty as women because of what the world tells us. We let them define beauty. But the purpose God gives us frees us from those lies. Because our bodies will age. Gray hairs and wrinkles shouldn't be a cause for panic - it's the way our bodies are designed (don't worry, I'm not condemning a nice dye job to cover the gray). Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

3. Tie their outer appearance, as much as possible, to their inner self. Their clothing, hair, makeup, and behavior should be a reflection of what they believe about themselves and their purpose. So when I say they are only as beautiful as they act...I mean it. And I make them tell me how they are acting and whether it is truly beautiful behavior (or not). 1 Timothy 8-10

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 

4. Praise them, not only for their appearance, but for all the other things that make them precious. Their independence, helpfulness, manners, generosity, and smarts.

My general idea is that these things eventually help them build an identity that has less basis in their outward appearance than it does in who they are inside. And maybe, just maybe, if I can do that - and never let them shop alone - they will make better choices than I sometimes see our young women making.

p.s. The world tells us that we have the right to display all our feminine charms any way we wish. That it is about power - and that men who object simply don't like women having power over their bodies and their lives. I don't object to looking pretty. In fact, I love it. But my definition of pretty and the world's differ greatly. And for me, dressing modestly is more freedom than walking around half naked. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

We are Winning!

Oh, my goodness!!

The baby is a month old. And no, he is still not sleeping at night. In fact, he's not sleeping anywhere but in my arms. Which probably means I have less than five minutes to get all this typed and then...well, you can imagine.

But, between changing diapers and taking naps in the shower (while washing my hair), the world has continued to spin. The girls have a Spring show coming up, Dancer is about to finish school, and Diva is looking forward to turning FIVE! Can you even imagine?

Too, Diva has developed some definite opinions lately that seriously crack me up. Opinions on everything from the job market to gun control. And until you've heard a four year old break it all down you are really missing something.

Dancer, though, has become obsessed (no, I don't think that's too strong a word) with details. Exactly how many times she's eaten at a restaurant since living here. Or exactly how many days are left in school. Or memorizing mundane facts about random animals, road signs, or people - only to spout them over and over again. Also, her favorite song right now is "Black Cadillacs." Just as a side note, Diva's is "Motorboating" by Little Big Town.

Does anybody else ever look at their children and just feel their eyes crossing? Ok, maybe that's just me.

Anyway, we're settling in and getting control (yeah, right!) of our new reality. So that means....blogging is back, people! Wow, that felt good.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God's Gifts

He is here. From the dimples in his cheeks to his long skinny toes...beautiful. And underneath the sweet smell of my powder and the spice of Daddy's soap is the softest warmest smell. I find myself burying my nose in the crown of his head or the crook of his neck, trying to capture that smell that is uniquely baby - and uniquely him.

Oh, how I am in awe of him. Of his flailing arms and deep blue eyes. Even his cries don't seem as sharp as the ones I remember from before. Holding him, the reassuring weight of him in my arms, reminds me that this...this is real. He is here, with us.

And I cannot find the words to thank God for this miracle. I have tried. He is fourteen days old - and I have tried. On my knees, with tears in my eyes, I have looked to heaven and tried to say thank you. But those words, though heartfelt, feel so inadequate. I can't help but feel that they are not enough.

How humbling it is for me - someone who feels the power of words so keenly - to have none. To search my vocabulary, my knowledge and my books, and find no way to express myself.  How comforting to know that God knows my heart. HE knows my joy and gratitude. 


I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
                                             1 Samuel 1:27


Praise be to GOD, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
                                                                           Psalm 66:20
 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Weary and Burdened

I  feel horribly guilty. Like I'm complaining. Like I'm not appreciating the wonderful blessing God has given me. Because I am very aware that God has given me a miracle. I am pregnant with what appears to be a very healthy baby boy, and am (at this point) only days from the end. Given our history, I cannot be content until he is in my arms - sturdy and healthy. But to reveal my insecurities and my physical pain - to ask for my friends thoughts and prayers - feels weak. Shouldn't I be stronger than this? Shouldn't my faith sustain me more?

Some certainly seem to think so. It hurts to have your greatest fears confirmed by people that you love. Even when you begin to see that they are wrong. I may not be OK. In fact, I am certain that I am not. I don't have to be, though. I would love to bear my pain with more grace. But I am not there yet. Despite my prayers.

And then I realized something absolutely startling. The longest I have been not pregnant is nine months. The nine months between giving birth to Dancer and becoming pregnant with Diva. Nine months. There have been other shorter periods where I wasn't pregnant. But I've spent the majority of the last eight years growing people.

As the pregnancies have worn on, especially the last three, I've become aware of how much damage my body has accumulated. The physical toll combined with the emotional one has become a burden that I fear will break me. Especially now...

The doctors told me I mattered. They told me that my physical, emotional, & mental well being would be factored into their decisions during this pregnancy. But they lied. They do not care. They simply keep telling me that there is "no medical reason to deliver." 

Days pass, and as he grows ever larger and heavier (estimates exceed 9 pounds now), fatigue has settled deep inside my muscles and bones. My joints, which have never had the chance to recover from one pregnancy to the next, make movement excruciating. Even things like my hair and skin, and my teeth, have been effected by the years of pregnancy.

My pain exhausts me now. It makes it harder for me to balance my joy and my grief - to accept the presence and validity of both in my heart. I fear that I will not make it. That when they finally let me have him...I will not have the strength left to endure. Not only labor, but the hard days after. The hard road to actual recovery. The chance to feel normal again someday. My body needs rest. I need rest. And healing.



 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rainbows are Coming

Some call him a rainbow baby. He is the one that comes after - after all the heartache, and loss, and tears. Like the sun coming out after a storm, or in the case of Noah (the biblical one) - a promise from God that the destruction is over.

Those who don't understand fully - who don't know the hole that losing a child carves in your soul - they think of him as a band-aid.

Oh, look, they think, we can finally all get past this. She'll finally have the baby she wanted, and she'll finally feel better. And it will all be over...

How do I know they think these things? Because they say them!

And oh, how I wish they wouldn't. This baby is not a band-aid. He does not heal or fix the wounds of the last 4 years. He is is own special, beautiful, glorious blessing from God. His very own person, separate and apart from who our other children would have been. And he is not the antidote to our brokenness.

He will, I'm sure, heal some hurts. But I know that some days I will still look at him and mourn the sons I lost before him - the big brothers he will never know. That he will never play with, not here anyway. I will wonder, as he grows, how much he shares with them. And that bittersweet joy will rip at me, making me feel a little lost. Because I will wonder, why can't you just forget and find happiness in him?

I think it too, you know. I want to beat up myself sometimes with the wondering...why can't you just get over it?!

Still, I know that God is with me. That he comforts me, heals me, and that when I return again and again...He is there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

All Aboard the Crazy Train

I'm so tired of doctors. They sit on their twirly stools, in their unassuming scrubs and with my medical records in hand (which they DON'T BOTHER TO READ).

And they talk.

And talk...

And talk...

Occasionally they even throw in a question that they don't really want the answer to like, "How are we feeling today?"

So, if I tell them about the aches and pains that have just about ripped my body apart - with this being my EIGHTH pregnancy - they pat me on the head and say, "Well, I hate to tell you this my dear, but that's just part of it." Cue the placating smile and pat on the leg.

And what if I tell them I feel a deep fear and desperation to have my child now, while I know he's alive and would be healthy? "Well, I have two patients...I feel that's a decision you would regret...I don't have the authority to induce you..." Try the rueful smile this time, and the concerned brow wrinkle.

What if, after nine months of waiting and praying and holding it all together, I cried in my doctor's office - twice?

What do you think that would get me?

Apparently it gets my husband interrogated. Because, APPARENTLY, this means I must have lost my marbles! I must be contemplating hurting myself...or my family. "Is she really ok?" they want to know.

And as he relays this conversation to me on the way home, I have to laugh. It is a laugh that is weary, and tinged with tears, but a laugh nonetheless.

Because who are these men?

They may have faced hundreds of mothers to tell them their babies have died, or delivered a thousand stillborn children to their mothers' hands. But do they go home with them? Can they, in any fashion, conceive what it is to carry a child? To have your body fail you so completely? To turn, bewildered, to medicine, only to find no answers?

Where they there when I made birthday pancakes for Diva...the morning after delivering Nathanael? Or when I had to explain to my daughter that her baby sister was safe from worms and bugs? When she cried in fear that her baby sister might be hurt - and I had to explain that she feels no pain where she is?

Did they hold my hand through the first baby shower I went to after holding that tiny perfect person?
Or help me fight my demons through each successive pregnancy? Did they see me pray over a struggling nurse in the hospital as I delivered Isaac?

Who exactly do they expect me to be? What do they expect me to be?

Because I can only be what I am - a mother, with a mother's heart..for all her children.

Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of their books and tests and charts, they lost sight of something very important.  

Love cannot be quantified. And where there is great love, there is also great Loss. Great loss cannot be dismissed with the wave of their hand. Tears and grief, even fear, do not mean crazy.

At least, no more crazy than I have every right to be.

What they do mean is that I am human, with a rather large capacity for both Love and Loss.


 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daily Dose of Disgust

Sick angry. That's what I am. Deep down inside my heart aches. And my stomach churns. My throat closes up with the words I want to scream at the TV.

Those bastards.

They hide behind children. They trot out their platitudes, and their laws...they pretend they care. But they don't. Unless they've stood there - they don't understand. It makes my breath come harder, my chest heave and tighten. I am so angry I want to cry. Do they have no shame?

My children were not lost to violence. They died quietly, drawing their last breaths in the safety and security of my body. They did not, as far as I know, experience pain - though it's possible they did.  But I've made those decisions: cremation or burial. I've slid my hand across that tiny marble casket, and read a poem at that graveside. I've written my child's name in stone

And my very soul cried out to God in anguish...wanting to know why, wanting to make sense of it all.

But I couldn't.

And those parents in Newtown won't be able to either. Because it doesn't make sense. Because it can't...and shouldn't. In what world would the loss of a child make sense?

They want to pretend, though, that our children are what they care about. They smile sadly on news shows and trot out different plans - to restrict guns. Or to curb violence. We owe it to the children, they say.

And all I can think is that behind those perfectly coiffed facades....they are snakes. Slithering through the grass, some milking the situation for political gain, some pushing their own agenda, and some just too stupid and careless to see how wrong they are. 

They have planted their flags on the graves of children - attempting to rally the people to their cause. 

But they have no care for the millions of children who lose their lives in car accidents, drownings, beatings or neglect, to illness or wars. They don't care about my children either, the ones they do not count, the ones who are not people, and whose lost potential they do not mourn.

And in the midst of all this, I am grateful. Grateful to the parents of Newtown, who have shown so much grace. They are determined that their voice will be heard - and I understand why. If their children are to be the rallying cry, they want their voices to be heard. I hope someone listens. And I am awed by their courage.

But that is what those others don't understand. To truly speak for a child gone...you have to love them.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Speaking into the Void

It is amazing to me that one minute in my life made such a difference. One minute was all it took to divide my life irrevocably into Before and After.

The plans, friends, and life Before we lost Kasey.

And the sorrow and loss that came After.

Before Kasey, I had no doubt that my friends and family would be there for me. And After, I discovered that some could only come to me, love me, if it didn't mean them facing hard things...if they didn't have to say her name. Perhaps Before, I was as blind as they are. But After, I discovered that I could not carry my own sorrow and still live with their Silence. It was too heavy a burden.

Their Silence continues, to this day, to hurt me sometimes. "How can you love me," my heart cries, "when you don't see me?" Because to see me, to know me, means acknowledging them. My children, each and every one.

I have forgiven them for their Silence, because to do otherwise burdens me even more. That hurt could easily turn to anger and bitterness - and I do  not want that. I want, instead, to remember them fondly. Knowing that in this, they failed, but that they were still incredible people to have in my life. I remember the funny, or the silly, or the generous things they did. And then I thank God for them, and pray that they may prosper in all they do...and that they will never know this pain. I don't ever want that for them. 

It's one of the reasons I'm so attached to the STILL Project. One of the reasons I want so badly for it to succeed, to be wonderful and enlightening. I don't want it to be a tool for me, really. I want it to be a tool for all the others - the ones who find themselves locked in Silence when tragedy befalls their friends or family. A way for those of us who know...a way for us to share, in a BIG way, what losing a child means for us.

The STILL Project is important because it not only gives me the opportunity to speak....it gives the rest of the world a chance to Listen and Learn.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wisp of Wanting

I bought him a book.

It is the first purchase I've made for him.

A book.

After about thirty minutes of wandering through Target evaluating car seats and bassinets, I left empty handed. Tired...defeated. And I couldn't imagine my child - my son - in those. They didn't fit.  I didn't have the drive to buy those - even though I know it's time. Time to prepare...for him.

So I stopped by the bookstore to enjoy a cup of coffee. I needed to rest - and books are a quiet place for me. I like looking at the photography books and thinking that I'd love to have a few for the coffee table I don't have. I love the weight and seriousness of the biographies, the beauty of the bibles, and the colorful covers of the paperbacks. I've spent hours in bookstores. 

And after winding my way through the bookstore for a good while, and sipping a cup of coffee, it came to me...

I want to buy him a book.

So I headed to the children's section. And instead of turning away and not looking at the tiny board and cloth books for babies...I took a deep breath and waded in.

And I picked one out. Paid for it. Left.

When I got home I sat it on my desk, right next to the beautiful jumble of pictures that feature Dancer and Diva.

Every time I see it sitting there, waiting so patiently...I can see him. For the first time, I can imagine him.

Cradled in my arms, nursing. Me, reading to him, making funny voices and faces like I did once for my girls. And him, soaking me in. 

Somehow that made it easier to go to the store yesterday and buy something else...something to bring him home in. A little blue pajama with polar bears and walruses ice fishing together. And a matching hat. It made me laugh. Just a little. A little sigh of laughter at how cute he would look in that outfit...and how appropriate it is given our rocky introduction to real winters here in the mountains.

So now he has exactly two things. And I had to listen to myself carefully. I had to not be impatient with myself. I had to forgive myself for not being ready yet. Not ready to brave the baby stores and the paraphernalia...not ready to dive in and go full speed ahead.

Because now, I can feel it. The readiness to buy a few things, and accept the gifts my friends and family have offered. The need to make him real in our home - while we continue to pray for his well being. It is time.

Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. Everything in its time. It is OK now...it is time. To be, if not confident, then...hopeful. It is time to be ready.