Thursday, December 31, 2009

Update

Last night I had lots of contractions, but they petered out around 3 am. This morning we had a OB visit, and a BPP. Baby Sam looks great....but holy wowza he is BIG. BIG. The wand went from waaaaaaay down low checking his head, to waaaaay up on the right to his butt and up to the left to his feet. He is apparently very very comfy. And did I mention BIG?

Okay, we aren't talking Hercules size here, but with Lily as my only other experience, he seems HUGE. :) He may easily outweigh her birthweight by 3 lbs. It's kinda crazy to have such a "normal" pregnancy. God is so awesome.

No dialation as of yet, but I am thinned out and effaced. Doc said it's just a waiting game now. And as much as I am ready I know it's not up to me.

So I'll wait.

But I don't have to be happy about it. :D

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just for a day

When I look at her now, at almost 3 years old, I still see the tiny being she was when she first drew breath. I remember her lips meeting my breast for the first time. I remember the way she would look at me as if I was her entire world. And I was. I was her sustenence, I was her shelter. I met her every need.

It was exhausting and lovely. It is hard to put into words those first few weeks with my baby girl. She made me a mother. She filled my dreams. She was so sweet, so helpless, and so beautiful.

And now...she is growing into a little girl. She is slipping from my grasp, wanting to do things on her own. She wants to play her own games. She wants to have her own agenda. And it hurts, in the sweetest of ways.

It is such a slippery slope, this motherhood thing. It is a constant dance of letting go and holding tight. Some days I find myself crying after she is in bed because I feel as if all I have done is fuss at her all day. Some days I don't want her to go to sleep. Some nights I want to hold her until she slips into dreams like I used to, watching as she let go. I nursed her to sleep until she was nearly 2, and now, I lay her in her big girl bed and walk away. It is as it should be, I know...but my heart feels differently.

Nothing could have prepared me to be a mother. For looking at my daughter and seeing through her 3 year old attitude to the small being she used to be. For seeing her grow, and being proud and also devastated by how fast the time goes. I look at her and want to ask God to slow things down, just for a while. So I can keep her here, on the cusp of needing me and not needing me. So I can still be the face of her world before she turns outward.

I mourn the baby she was. I look at pictures and see the toothless grin, the sweetness. She was a delight and a joy. There was no drama to our relationship- only mutual adoration. Now, it's different. There is discipline and challenges. There is out and out defiance. There is dramamtic fits and time outs. All of the simplicity is leached away now, and it is a real mother-daughter dynamic. Again, it is as it should be, but my heart remembers that sweet cherubic angel whose eyes used to follow me everywhere, whose arms lifted to me, whose grin lit up my world.

Of all the things life has taught me these past 3 years, it is that I will always see my baby girl in my little girl. Now matter how old she is, or how stubborn, or how angry. I will always see the tiny angel she was when she came into this world. She is the only thing in this life that has ever been entirely mine. She made me believe in family and love and togetherness. She made me believe it was okay to need someone so much you would die for them. She saved me, and she gave me a reason to believe in all the things I thought I didn't need.

But if somebody out there has a secret to reversing time, just for a day, so I can hold that little butterball with the megawatt smile, I'd give anything for it. Just for a day.



She is my life. I am lost in her.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tradition

In what has become a Christmas tradition, I put the dog and Lily in Christmas dresses and snap a few pics. This year, however, was like something out of a very bad movie. It involved lots of cheese to keep the dog put, lots of squirming by the kid, and lots of inefficient and downright sabotage-like behavior on the part of my husband. To give him credit, though, he was laughing a bit to hard to actually help.

Here are a few outtakes.





Thursday, December 17, 2009

Both sides now

Dear Mom,

I am thinking of you today. I don't know why, really. Sometimes you come so fully into my mind I know you must be near. I look at our Christmas tree and just wonder where you are. Do you see me? Do you see the memories I am trying to create for Lily?

I am so much further into my life than your sickness ever let you get. Married, settled, 2 children, friends and family. Sometimes I still think of the bad times you and I had...but I also realize I don't give you enough credit for the good times.

Remember when you let me open all of my Christmas presents early? I had had a bad day at school, and was crying. You never could stand to see me cry over other people's cruelty. It would make you wince, wring your hands. So you pulled all of my gifts from under the tree and watched while I opened them. I remember looking up into the blind hope in your eyes. I knew you hoped it would make me feel better, because you didn't have the skills to help me.

You did try. I know you did. It gets overshadowed by all of the darkness... but I know you tried. You reached so far past yourself to try to love me. I wish I could have told you that before you died. I was 19 and had no foresight. I was angry and sad. I wish I had known the power of forgiveness.

But wishing doesn't change anything.

Do you see me? Do you watch as I rock Lily, or as I wash Samuel's clothes and fold them away? Do you see me laugh and cry? I wish I could just know that you know I have forgiven you. That you know that I understand you so much more now.

You were so ill. You tried all the wrong things to cure yourself. But there I was, needing all the time. And so the strength you should have used to help youself you poured into me. There must have been a great wrenching of your soul as you pushed away your demons and tried to care for me and love me. I am a mother now, mom. I understand so much more than I ever dreamed I would.

Nobody helped you, because you wouldn't let anyone near. It's so hard for me to think that a simple medication could have healed you, mom. It's even harder to know that you were diagnosed and got treatment while you were terminal with cancer. You saw life as it should be seen the last few months of your life. You wanted to live. You wanted to be a mother. But it was too late. There are no words for that kind of injustice.

I feel you now. I know you are near when sadness wells up in me. When it is one of those days that I can't escape it. You come and sit with me. I know you are here. And I know you are trying, as you always always did, to love me as you could.

You gave me a gift wrapped in a curse, mom. You gave me love trapped behind glass. It was as if your disease buried you alive over and over, and you dug your way out. For me. It never lasted long, but I remember the mother you tried to be. I remember the times I fell asleep on your chest. I remember when you came to me at night just to watch me sleep. I would wake to you, weeping over me. I know how full of pain and regret your heart was in those moments. How filled with sadness you were.

I wish I wish I wish....

So just know, wherever you are, that I know. I know you tried. I feel you come to me. There may be times I am still angry with you, but there are also times like these, when I wish for just one more minute to tell you all of this. Forgiveness is a beautiful tragic dance. It is even harder when you are dancing alone.

Today I am remembering a little girl, standing in the bathroom doorway watching her mommy fix her hair. I am remembering the smell of your perfume, and the way you would catch my eye in the mirror as you curled your hair. You pulled on your dress, and I caught my breath. You were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I remember the scent of you as you bent to hug me, to kiss me. I leaned in and smelled your neck. You pulled back and tenderly kissed my forehead. You looked into my eyes, and I saw my mama.

I remember who you were beneath it all. Thank you for showing me that person, so that I can carry her with me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trip to China

So, when Lily first was born, many many people asked if she was adopted.

No, seriously.

Actual conversation with a Wal-Mart checker:

"She look asian. She adopted?"

"Ummm, no. She's all mine."

"She don't look like yours. She looks asian."

" Well, if she's adopted, someone has alot of explaining to do to my vagina."

"Oh, you got her from China?"



One of Mark's friends-

"Damn Mark, you baby look mad asian."


My own aunt:

"She looks nothing like you!!! She looks foreign."



So, yeah, okay. This bothered me for a while, but I guess I could kinda see their point. I was relieved, however, when she grew out of it.

Then, a friend snapped a picture of Lily and I realized there may have been a mistake in the hospital:



Guess I knew what I was doing when I named her Lily.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dedicated

Have you read the Bible story of Hannah and Samuel? It's beautiful and sorrowful. Cliff notes: Hannah is barren. She is greatly saddened by this. She goes to the temple and prays to God to give her a son. She promises to dedicate her son back to God for life. A priest of the temple, Eli, hears her prayer and tells her God is listening. She goes home and concieves a beautiful son, Samuel. And when he is weaned, she takes him back to the temple to live. She sees him only once a year, but she kept her promise. She gives him wholly to God and to Eli to raise.

I've always known of this story, but when we were trying to concieve Lily, I read it often. After I miscarried last January, it was an almost constant source of comfort to me.

When I decided to try for another baby it was with hesitation. I was scared of my own pain. I didn't want another loss.

On Mother's day, we went to church. As the music played, I laid my hand over my womb, and was brutally honest with God. "I want this. I want my boy. I want to be pregnant. I am scared to trust. I am scared to walk out on your promises. But God, if you help me to concieve again, I will face all of it, knowing you are with me. And if I never, ever carry to term again, I will still love you. Any child I have will be yours, forever."

That was the day my Samuel began his life.

I think about Hannah. I think about her going about her day, her hand over her stomach. I think of her smile and her joy. I think abut how she must have held Samuel to her breast as she nursed him. How she must have brushed his hair away from his face and watched him sleep. How she must have praised God for his life.

And I also think of her walking the slow hill up to the temple, holding her precious boy. I see her, in my mind's eye, turning to kiss his cheek one last time. I think of her watching her boy walk up the steps of the temple holding Eli's hand. She must have known what she was doing was right, but I can't imagine how her mother's tender heart was screaming out for her baby.

She dedicated his life to God, and God blessed her with many more children. Samuel went on to become a prophet and to teach many other people about God. Destiny.

The day I got a positive pregnancy test I had my own temple moment. I went to my knees and promised God that whatever came, I knew this baby was His. If he lived one day, or a hundred years, he would always belong to God first, me second. I drew on God's peace, knowing my child's days were already determined by a wisdom higher than mine.

And I can tell you honestly, there have been a few moments when I had to fall back on this knowledge. Spotting, sickness. A horrific bleed at 20 weeks. I was terrified and shaking each time, but I knew anything that came was not up to me. I dedicated Samuel to God, and I am determined to keep my promise.

So here we are, 33 weeks. He rolls and kicks inside me. When I think of him, he moves. When I lay my hand on him and pray, he grows still. I have prepared my home for him. I have allowed him deep into my heart. I love him fiercely.

I am accountable for much more than ever now that I am a mother. I have a responsibility to show my children who God is, through my actions and words. I have to look at my sweet Lily and realize that she is only mine for a moment, but God's forever. I will look at Samuel's face and see my promise. Not mine, His.


Samuel Given to the LORD
21The man Elkanah and all his house(W) went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD(X) and dwell there forever." 23(Y) Elkanah her husband said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him;(Z) only, may the LORD establish his word." So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24And when she had weaned him,(AA) she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,[c] an ephah[d] of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to(AB) the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, "Oh, my lord!(AC) As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27For this child I prayed,(AD) and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crazy

I never used to think there was much truth to the idea that pregnant women were forgetful, emotional, hormonal, and irritable.

Oh don't get me wrong, I was ALL of those with Lily by this point. But I was also diabetic, on bedrest, and my hands didn't work. So the reasons for irritability were compounded.

Well, I have been initiated into the last few weeks of a "normal" pregnancy, people. And it's not pretty.

Let's just say, if you see me coming and want to run the other way, I won't blame you.

Now, I am not complaining. On one hand, I am uncomfortable and crabby. But on the other, I am enjoying just feeling normal baby stuff. Back pain, contractions, kicks and jabs. Insomnia, heartburn, and the infamous "baby grunt". It's all new to me.

At this point with Lily, I had just started showing and she was already falling off the growth charts. Officially diagnosed with IUGR when I was 28 weeks, she went to 0% at 36 weeks. My little man here is at 35% for growth. It's a huge difference.

So I am feeling all of what typical gestating mommies feel. The huge ROLLS the baby does, the jabs to the lungs and ribs and bladder. The pressure on all internal organs. The uncomfortable positions he gets himself in. Lily spent all her time head down, resting her little head on my placenta. She was always curled up and quiet. Needless to say, my monkey is on the olther end of the spectrum.

Just in the past 2 weeks, however, there has been an addition to this little circus of pregnancy. Crankiness. Irritability that comes plowing out of nowhere, running over the innocent. I am riding the big boat of hormones and I am taking hostages.

It's funny how this, out of all the symptoms, has bothered me the most. I feel nutty and out of control. Everything rubs me the wrong way. Hell, I got pissed at our tree out front because it was losing it's leaves in a windstorm. Now who DOES that? Who gets mad at a tree for being a tree? Me. Gah.

Anyway, the other night when I was cleaning the garage at 3:00 am, I had a revelation. When I feel irritable, I can just take my anger out on my house, by cleaning. So I tried it. I vacuumed half a room before I was out of breath. It was a victory.

Ahem.

Yeah, there's a point here. Hold your horses.

I am officially going to play the "crazy pregnant lady" card from here until the birth. You can either laugh at me or get mad at me if I am crabby and irrational around you.

But remember, at this point, I am sure to be much much bigger than you. I may not be fast, but I am sneaky. And I won't hesitate to sit on you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Alien

I was 12, living with a foster family in Vegas. My dad lived in the same city. I had in fact been sent to him to live with he and his wife, but when I arrived on the plane from Omaha, an old white pillowcase stuffed with dolls in my arms, he told me I was going to live with an aunt. An aunt I barely knew. In colorado.

I was broken and sad.

Then a family my mother and father used to know and we still visited with took me in. They had three daughters, a beautiful house, and I would have a stable existence.

I craved love. But more than anything, I craved acceptance. To be heard and known. To be understood. I got love. They loved me. But could anyone understand me then- no. I couldn't articulate what I needed. I clung and lashed out. I was in pain, but didn't know how to ask for help. I was angry I had been so brutally abandoned, by both parents, in the space of 24 hours.

I tried to fit in. I was an odd duck. I didn't understand how to live in a family that didn't hit. I was lost. I felt loved by them, but it was in an odd, distant sort of way. Like a pet, or a stray puppy. Outside the circle. But I tried to force my way in, tried to fit.

One of the daughters was getting married. I was asked to be a bridesmaid. I felt so excited and happy. Here, here was proof that this family loved me and would keep me forever. Proof I belonged. Proof I was saying and doing the right things.

The day came. I walked the aisle. I smiled.

Then came pictures. I posed with the wedding party, smiled. I gripped my flowers tight so I wouldn't drop them.

The family moved in for a photo. I stepped into frame. There was silence, and then the photographer asked me to step aside.

My heart fell. I turned to look at the family. None of them would meet my eyes. I stumbled down the altar steps, blinded by tears. I watched, my flowers hanging limply, as they smiled and posed. I slipped away silently to the bride's room.

It was quiet, makeup littering the tables. Open boxes stood in a line, waiting for boquets to be placed back inside. I looked at myself in the full length mirror and I felt, for the first time, my "otherness". I didn't belong to anyone. It was me, just me, in the world. My heart felt carved out. My throat burned with the need to cry.

The door opened, and a family friend slipped in. Her face was the picture of sympathy.

"They love you honey." was all she could say.

I nodded.

But I knew. Love is not enough. You can love anyone. It is the taking IN of somebody that creates a connection. It is the acceptance of everything they are, and everything they will be. It's an extra step. It's standing in the gap for that person, and devoting yourself to their well being. It's something I knew I needed, but never got...even though I tried.

Sometimes I wonder about that picture. A simple wedding photograph. Everyone looking their best, smiling. A happy family on a happy day. But if the frame was widened, what would you see?

A little girl, standing to the side. Her flowers down. Her face unguarded, looking at the family with her heart in her eyes. An alien in a strange land. Outside the circle. A turned corner in her being. A knowledge no child should be familiar with. Knowing it was just her, alone, in the world.

I'd like to tell you that I learned something from that day. I'm sure I did, but everytime I think of it, I can feel freshly the pain. I wonder that nobody else around me in that moment HEARD my heart breaking. I still dream about it often. It's one memory that I cannot seem to frame into a lesson for myself.

So maybe I am not supposed to. Maybe the only thing I can learn from it is gratitude that I have been blessed with a family and acceptance NOW, and can treasure it.

But I can't help but wonder, sometimes, about what would have happened had they simply pulled me into the picture and allowed me to belong to them, just for that moment.

I guess I will never know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Moooooooo

Dear OB's office,

Well, we made it 32 weeks without you pissing me off. Last time it was only 9 weeks, so I congratulate you.

I'm gonna fill you in on a few things, k?

You are offering a service to ME. I am paying YOU. I put money in your pockets. You are not doing me a favor by deigning to have me as a patient. I am respectful to you and your staff, but that's gonna change soon if your staff keeps acting like their head is lodged firmly where the sun don't shine.

When I call to reschedule an appointment, can you not act like a total jerk because you have to do your JOB???!!! Huh??? Can you just make it easy? Huh? A little compassion maybe, when I tell you I don't have childcare for my appt... it's not like I'm bailing to get my nails done or a bikini wax, for God's sake.

I don't like Dr.-----. I WILL NOT see him under any circumstances. Yes, I know he has an open appt every damn day when all the other docs are booked. There's a reason for this. He's creepy and inappropriate and I am surprised he hasn't been brought up on charges of malpractice. If he is on call the day I deliver, I will be taking a resident. That's how strongly I feel. When I tell you I won't see him for personal reasons, there is no need to be snippy. I am entitled to say NO, despite the fact that you are deigning to see me.

The waiting room. Is it too much to ask for a People magazine while I wait for you to get your crap together to see me an hour after my appt was scheduled? Instead, I am stuck with retirement monthly. It's an OB's office- spring for a Cosmo,eh?

Your nasty nurse in the lab. She sucks. She has no personality, and she can't take vitals for crap. She never smiles. She never makes small talk. She snaps her gum in my face. I can't stand her. Neither can anyone else, including the rest of your staff. Fire her, and you will have alot more happy preggo people.

I AM NOT A COW IN YOUR HERD. DON'T TREAT ME LIKE ONE. Don't shuffle me in and get rid of me as soon as possible. Your male OB's, for the most part, suck. Your female OB's rock. That's why you can never get an appt with them. None of the males truly LISTEN. And if you don't listen, especially in your field, you could miss something very crucial.

So why do I stay, you ask? Simply put, you are supposed to be the best OB office in town, and my fave doc in the whole world works for you. She delivered my daughter with such care, concern, and professionalism that I had to stay for the second baby. But frankly, I feel like cattle each time I come to your office. I don't care so much for myself, but for the small being I am carrying, could you please treat me with some dignity and listen to me for once?

Fat chance, huh? Well, I had to try.

Moo,
Bella

Friday, November 20, 2009

Eeyore


I sometimes think gratitude is one of the most underrated emotions. We all think more about it around Thanksgiving, of course...around Christmas, etc. But a life LIVED in gratitude is a really great goal.

I have to admit, I have always been more of an Eeyore type of personality. Joyfulness and thankfulness do not come first nature to me. I am, by all accounts, pessimistic. I am half empty. I am the black cloud. I am always searching the sky for the other shoe. I have to work hard to see things differently.

But life...gosh life is awesome. Have you ever stopped to just feel yourself breathe? To feel clean air rush in and out of your body, feel your body working, feel your muscles move just with a thought? We are such works of art, we humans. Works of art from the hands of an amazing Artist.

Have you ever looked at your child and seen yourself there? What an amazing thing that is, huh? Your lips, your feet, your mannerisms.

Have you carried a child? Have you nursed them from your own body? Did you know your body knows JUST the right kind of nutrition your child needs, and the composition of breastmilk changes as their needs do? A miracle.

Does your car start? Are you warm? Can you snuggle into an old sweatshirt and watch tv?

Right now, I can list 10 things to be grateful for, just in this room. A cold drink right next to my hand, stretchy pj pants that cover my baby bump, cute earrings I got for my birthday, the sound of my husband in the garage, a full belly,a sleeping toddler, clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, Law and order on the tv, plans for the holiday, and my ceiling fan. (it's november and it's HOT)

So why is it so hard for me to STAY in that mindset, and not get bogged down by the troubles of the day? To not Eeyore around when I get bad news? I frustrate myself with this.

So I am challenging myself to find 5 things to be thankful for, even when everything else is tough. When the day is long, and I am tired and sore and cranky and my daughter is skirting the line of adorable and horrible, and my husband is gloomy.

Because in the end, that is really all we have. Our mindset is what defines us. And gratitude leads to happiness and contentment. With contentment comes calm. Calm allows us to love better. Loving better makes our loves ones feel special. When they feel special, they treat others as special too. And all we put out, comes right back to us.

Today, I am choosing to be grateful. I think Eeyore would be proud. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moment

Why do we do it?

The motherhood thing? I mean seriously, why?

Is it biological, logical, family pressure, life pressure, or because we think we "should"?

Cause it aint easy. And alot of times, it aint fun. It's thankless. It is, essentially, working for a 2 foot tyrant that could care less about our wants and needs. You give and give and give, and get not so much back.

But.

Then there is that moment. Yeah, if you are a mom, you already have it in your head, right? That moment. Maybe it was just an hour ago, or maybe a year ago, or maybe when they were born...but it's there.

When you looked at your child and realized, oh my gosh, how did I ever live without you? How, how? How can I keep from holding you and smelling your head and cuddling you? How can I put you down for a nap or run an errand and be away from you?

THAT moment. When love envelops you- no....strangles you. Your eyes fill and your stomach turns over and you ache with devotion.

That's why we do it. Once, twice, 5 times. Right?

I've struggled over the past few days. I have had a cranky, out of sorts, and somewhat agressive little girl. She has been prone to fits and crying and screaming. I love her, deeply, but for the past few days, it's ben really hard to like her.

Yesterday, I was taking her unwilling self into her bedroom for naptime. She was having a royal fit, flailing, etc. I popped her leg. She hit me back, just as quick. My eyes widened. I sat her down and said very firmly "You DO NOT hit mommy." She came back with "Don't hit ME mommy!!"

And just like that, I got it. She does not see a spank as punishment, consequence, or repurcussion of bad behavior. She sees it as agression. And agression begets agression.

I don't spank often. When I do, I always have cause. There have always been warnings. I do everyting BUT spank the majority of the time.

But yesterday made me sit down and think. Alot.

I have been lazy. I have been tired and worn down. I have been inconsistent. I have done too much tv, and too little playtime. I have taken the "in the moment" discipline instead of thinking of what lies ahead. And you reap what you sow.

So my sweet little girl has gotten lost. She has been on haitus, and this little goblin who has been looking for attention at any cost has replaced her. It happend slowly, insidiously, but I allowed it by looking the other way.

So last night, I had a breakdown. Mark and I talked alot about what to do. We made a plan, put it into action first thing this morning. No more spanks. No more raised voices. More love, more playtime, more structure. Time outs for consequences, getting down to her level and talking to her. Making her be accountable. Not letting anything slide, no matter how tired we are.

Within 2 hours of waking this morning, I had a different kid. Obedient, happy, sweet. Pushing boundaries, sure, but also responding very well to the consequences.

Then as I put her down for nap, she had a small fit. I handled it. Several minutes later, she was crying in bed. I went to her, and she asked for her "woobie" back, as she had thrown it and I had taken it away. I gave it back, along with some words about not throwing things when she gets angry.

I was about to leave the room when she asked for a hug. I gave her one and she kissed my cheek, and pulled back to look at me.

"Mama, I just love you."

"I love you too."

"Alla time?"

"Yes."

"Even when I throw woobie?"

"Even then."

"Thank you mama."

And today, that was my moment. The moment I knew why I do this. Because no matter how far we fall, and how out of hand our children get, we love them. And there is redemption, second chances, and forgiveness. On BOTH sides.

It's hard work. Anything worth doing is. But it's beautiful as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baby Boy

Dearest Samuel,

How can love be this sweet? How can all of the emotions I am beginning to let myself feel come up so suddenly that I am blinking away tears in the morning light? How can I run my fingers over your crib, your changing table, your little clothes and pray for your tiny little life? How is this possible? How can I be so blessed?

I don't take any moment for granted. Not one kick, not one roll or nudge. I feel everything you give to me, and close my eyes and thank God for your spirit. You are amazing already- so active and vibrant. You have a presence that speaks to me. I am so thankful for every movement- you let me know all the time that you are okay. I am not taking any of this pregnancy for granted. I enjoy all of it. All of the soreness, the small inconveniences...it means nothing compared to you. You are so loved, my sweet little son. So loved. So wanted. So anticipated.

You are coming into a family that will be kind to your spirit. We will be loving. We will treasure who you are. We know where you come from and to Whom you belong. From your father, Lily and I to your grandparents, you will be treasured.

I long for you. I think about the moment of your birth- and wonder if I will know you as I did Lily. One look at her and every piece of my life fell into place. I knew my role on this earth had been fufilled. I knew what I was born to do. I was born to be your mother, Samuel. I was born to love you and Lily. I was born to carry you, body and soul. All of my searching for meaning was over when I looked into your sister's eyes. I came home. I know it will be the same for you and I.

I realize how lucky I am. For 9 months, you are just mine. Others talk of you, doctors see you on ultrasounds, daddy feels you move. But it's me who knows you. It is a privledge to be allowed to carry life. So many others struggle with it. I know every minute how lucky I am to have life inside of me. It is a miracle.

So as God knits you together, and forms you in my womb, I will pray for your spirit. I will pray for you to always turn to family and to God when things get stormy. I will pray that you know this home is a port in the storm- a place of safety and happiness. You are so welcome here, Samuel. Welcomed into my arms, into this home, into the world, and into this family.

We are waiting and loving you, sweet baby boy.

Until I see your face...

Love,
Mama

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful

Today I am thankful.

For my daughter, who is so bright and beautiful.

For a healthy baby in my belly, whose growth is so good.

For the breath in my lungs, and no cough or congestion.

For my husband, who works so hard.

For friends, that love and forgive and understand and support.

For April, who is always there. Always.

For Noggin on rainy days.

For warm coffee and flannel pj's.

For Tylenol to soothe the fever, and cuddles to take away the tears.

For my house, warm and comforting.

For everything good, and everything not so good, and God's presence to help me face it all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beautiful Lily

My daughter does not look very much like me. Her face is different, her features more exotic. Her eyes are almond shaped, her lips full. Her eyebrows are like Brook Shield's. Her hair lays exactly right and curls ikn ringlets at the bottom.

But from the neck down, she has my body. From our squishy elbows, to our bigger ankles, we have the same shape. Her legs are short but strong, her shoulders broad. Her hands are small and delicate, her feet wide like mine.

When I look at her, I see myself, in all the lines of her figure.

When I look at myself, alot of the times I don't like what I see. I don't need to go into details. I am not what society teaches is beautiful.

But my daughter...is... perfect. She is glorious. She is amazing and strong and beautiful. From the tops of her head to her toes, she is the essence of all grace and glory.

And for now, she knows no different. She doesn't know the curves she will inherit will be something to obsess over, or that she will never be willowy or delicate. She will always be strong, not slender.

I look at her, and see myself. And I think about what I would be teaching her if she knew what I was saying about myself. "Oh my big butt, oh my huge tummy. I hate my thighs. I hate my small breasts." Eventually, she would look from me to herself...and start to pick away at her beauty.

I can't let that happen. I can't let her think she is anything less than perfect, even if her small strong body isn't something everyone she encounters will deem beautiful. I want her to hold her head high and KNOW her worth lies in more than the size of her jeans or in the curve of her waist. I want her to know her beauty is God-given, and to be treasured. I will tell her that He created her, that he knows her, and that He finds her to be more beautiful than words.

But that starts now, doesn't it? It starts with me. If she's going to love herself, she has to see it modeled first. She has to see that the body she has inherited may not be slim, but it can carry babies, feed them. It is strong and agile and will carry her through life. It will be unbroken by falls, the muscles easily toned. It can be honed into a fit, lovely shape that may not be exactly as she would want it, but that is worthy of love all the same.

It is my responsibility to instill this in her. I have to help her to be so strong in spirit, that nothing can shake her love for herself. This starts with being kind to my own body, scarred and stretched as it is. Because this was once her home, this soft body. These breasts were once her sole source of nourishment. These arms still hold her when she is scared. This body still cradles her, carries her, and nurtures her, all while carrying her brother.

It may not be perfect. It may not be beautiful to everyone, but this body is something I need to treasure and love, so that she will do the same for herself.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

For my jackass...

Alot of people think being married is no fun. Which I can totally see, from the outside. You have accountability to another person. The mundane decisions become battles. Your choice of toothpaste and spaghetti sauce is compromised. Your life is joined, for better or for worse.

But gosh it can be fun. Like when you sit, hand in hand at the mall, and watch people go by and then look at each other, and just know what the other is thinking. Or when you both look at your child and either want to give her away or eat her up. When you both want a coffee at the same time. Or when your spouse hands you, without even being asked, your morning coffee exactly as you like it.

Mark and I have been through alot of stuff. Life stuff, relationship stuff, etc. We should have broken up several times. But we didn't. We battled it out, and kept going. Because we are both stubborn, yes, but also because God handpicked us for each other. He could not be more perfect for me if I had made him myself. He is perfect, for me.

Now before this gets too mushy, let me give you a few highlights of our day. He called me "big" several times today. He told me the weight limit on a ride would not allow me to participate. He suggested a muumuu. He farted just to gross me out. He is right now off eating copious amounts of fried food and drinking beer while I sit at home in my pj's.

It is not some overly respectful, never raise your voice or argue kinda life. We fight. We kid. We horse around. Heck, I just spent 10 minutes wacking him with a kitchen spatula and chasing him to his car with a power drill, laughing so hard I peed myself. He call me weird almost daily- I call him obnoxious and stinky hourly.

But gosh do we have fun. We laugh so hard we cry. We joke in ways nobody can understand. We call each other ridiculously bad nicknames and wack each other more often than we kiss.

He is my best friend, my dearest love, and my confidante. He knows all of my secrets. He calls me on my BS. He is my safe, warm, and snuggly spot to land when the world hurts.

I could not ask for a better other half. One that will not only lolve me, but allow me to be me. Silly, goofy, weird and twisted.

Mark, you complete me. Love ya, goober.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seasons

A long time ago, I heard a sermon about seasons. Not so much the seasons of weather, but the seasons in our life when we are growing, either through great change or feeling "stuck". I have had seasons of the most intense loneliness, where I emerged a totally different person because all I did was spend time with God. I have had seasons of feeling in a rut, where going through the motions of life has been the theme. I have had seasons where life changed so quickly I could barely catch my breath.

Lately, I have been going through a season of self inspection. I have been trying to look at my life from God's perspective, and weed out what is unpleasing. I decided a long time ago that the most powerful prayer I could give to God is this: Search me. Look at everything about me, God. If something is not pleasing to you, help me rid myself of it. I have said this prayer daily, sometimes hourly, these past few weeks, and what has emerged is an ugliness I know needs to be cast out of my life, and now.

I am critical. I criticize myself almost constantly. I criticize my husband, my child. I am constantly on a search for the bad, and not focusing on the good.

Ouch.

I don't want to be that person. I've told myself time and again that the people I love should be off limits to anything but my support. I've even created a picture in my head- Lily and Mark, loaded down with those old fashioned buckets with a yoke over their shoulders. Everything I say, they have to carry. It stays with them for life.

But sometimes, I still forget. Kindness escapes me. The bad is glaring, the good is hidden. I find myself lashing out because I am tired and hormonal and achy. I don't think about their feelings in the face of my impatience.

And then I beat myself up for being like this. Vicious cycle.

I so wish I didn't have a critical nature. I look at some women I know, who are so positive and loving and supportive. Their relationships are loving and strong. They don't create conflict where none exists. They don't focus on the bad. I envy them. This is a serious personality flaw I have to conquer.

I guess it comes down to the big, long term picture. Do I want to have a husband who doesn't want to come home? Do I want a man that rolls his eyes and calls me "the warden"? Do I want to be a nag?

Do I want a child who comes to expect nothing but criticism from me? Who knows I won't focus on the good qualities, but the small flaws?

No. I don't.

So here goes another journey. May God set my feet and light my path, and always remind me that as He forgives and doesn't dwell on the bad, I should follow His example.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Differences

Today was a day of highs and lows. We had a growth scan for baby Sam, and the results were surprising.

He is nowhere near growth restricted, coming in at a whopping 2 and a half lbs, with everything else measuring exactly perfect. From the size of his little femur bone to his belly, he is at 31 percent for growth.

Why is this surprising? At this point, Lily was in the 5th percentile, falling entirely off the scale to 0 by 34 weeks. The tech said there is no doubt Sam will surpass his sister in birthweight, and if everything goes well, we will go to term.

I have never felt more blessed in my life than I did this morning, hearing my baby was healthy and growing right on track. I hadn't realized the fear I had been carrying that he would be too small.

Mark and I were discussing the differences as we looked at his pics from the u/s. This pregnancy has had far less stress. I have been emotionally in a much better place, peaceful even. I have taken better care of myself. I have been resting.

And also, at the core of this, is that I have given my baby to God. I have let go of worry about him. He is not mine, his future is not mine to decide. He belongs to God, and only God can decide his fate. I can simply keep myself as healthy as humanly possible, and pray. That's all.

After the u/s, I met friends for a picnic. We had a nice time, but on the way home I got a call.

I had hurt a friend's feelings. I had been insensitive. I had overlooked her. And I felt like hell about it.

I try to always be concious of others. I try to be thoughtful and kind. I try to give alot of myself to my friends. In this case, I got so wrapped up in my life and circumstances I let things slide.

I apologized as best I could, but I can't stand the thought of hurting anyone. I know life happens, and people hurt each other, but I have commited to being a good friend, and I hurt because I hurt somebody else.

When I came home, I talked to Mark. He always helps and listens, even when I am so weepy I make no sense. Even when my hormones make me darn near hysterical. But the thing that he pointed out to me is that no relationship can be free of conflict. Friends fight, friends make up. Hurt is inevitable, but so is growth.

So as Samuel grows, so do I. I suppose that's the way of things. Even when we think we have things figured out, we don't. When we think we are doing our best, we sometimes aren't. And when life gets complicated and difficult, it's still important to take care of the ones who take care of you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Left behind

Lately, Lily and I have been holed up at home alot. It seems it's been since the beginning of my pregnancy, really. What with the morning sickness and the crud, etc, we haven't been out and about nearly enough. Not for lack of trying, of course. But after battling the sickies for 3 months on and off, we have spent way more time at home than is healthy or good for either of us.

This was apparent when I stopped at the park today to let Lily play with her friends. Everyone from SS was cooling down, doing abs, chatting, etc. Lily and I stood on the outside of the circle, waiting for class to end. These women that I love had spent the last hour working out, making themselves feel good, and I was standing there with an aching back, a stuffy head, and a ragged cough. I haven't exercised in over a week.

I just felt...lost. And sad. And lonely. Nobody made me feel that way. It was coming from myself. But it hurt. I miss being a part of something.

Then, as I watched Lily play, it was apprent she was feeling a bit of the same, and acting out because of it. I do not normally have an agressive child, but this morning she pushed, pulled, and acted downright mean. It was embarassing and frustrating.

When we got in the car, I took a minute to ask her why she was hurting her friends. She looked me in the eye and said "I don't know, mama." And I believed her. She hadn't been around these kids often enough lately to act appropriately. I realized she was probably feeling all that I had been- outside of the circle. Left behind.

Every night she asks me if we will see her friends at the park the next day. More and more lately the answer has been no. The look on her face breaks my heart. I try to explain that I have been too sick to go, but she doesn't get it. She is 2. All she knows is something very precious to her has disappeared from her life.

There's not much of a point to this post tonight I guess. I just am feeling a little sad. I don't want life to pass me by anymore. I don't want to be forgotten.

And I don't want my daughter to be either.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I. am. dying.

Or not.

Whatever.

Anyway, I feel like I might be. Does that count? No?

Whatever.

Allright, I LOVE BEING PREGNANT. I love my baby. I would do anything to get him here safely.

But holy moses in a floating basket, can't these brilliant doctors make a cold medicine pregnant women can take? Huh?

Nooooooo. You can come in, actually hack up a lung on the table, and they will calmly inform you that you still cannot take anything that remotely will help you with your symptoms. Or, they will tell you that despite the lung you have lost, you have only a virus. Then they will bag up your lung, ask you for your co-pay, and call cheerfully after you- "Make sure to drink lots of liquids!!!"

Trust me...I have been thru this 4 times in the past 3 months. Four doctors, one script for Z-Pack, and 3 times of walking away with no answers, despite hacking, runny nose, hacking, wheezing, hacking, and did I mention hacking?

Today I went, after having a coughing fit this morning that left me breathless, sweating, and with a pounding heart. What did I walk out with? NADA. Oh wait- "Feel free to go to the ER if you have another coughing fit that causes you to feel short of breath and panicky. Oh, and drink lots of fluids!!!"

Yeah, thanks. So I have to be actually kinda dying to get relief. Awesome.

So, yeah. Here I sit, hacking over my laptop. My daughter has watched so much Noggin today that she insists her name is Pinkie Dinky Doo. This means that I am Mr. Ginuea Pig, and must answer to this at any times she deems necessary. Which is often.

But I digress.

Anyway, I want all of you to realize that I am a whiny baby. Yes, it's just a "cold, virus, Tuberculosis, Black Plague" or whatever. But when you are preggo, about all you can do for the worst of colds is take Claritin (which is a med that SUCKS mightily, I must add), take Robitussin (which won't even get you a good buzz because it is alcohol free, of course), and...well, drink lots of fluids. None of which can be vodka or rum. I checked.

So, if you could spare a prayer for this very whiny, snotty, and hacky preggo lady, I'd appreciate it. And if you need to find me, I will be laid out on my couch, coughing, and...drinking lots of fluids.

*sigh*

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Conqeror

My past has always been something that haunted me. I have written about it several times, and I am open about it to friends. I try very hard not to talk about it in a way that inspires pity, because I DO NOT WANT PITY. Everybody has something. Everybody. My something is a mountain I am continually climbing. I have chosen a life that will drag up ALL of my baggage every single day. I know when I wake in the morning that I may encounter a situation that takes me back to childhood. I know being a mother is going to cause me the pain of my own memories flooding back.

I know all this, and I choose it. I embrace it.

I cannot delve into my childhood for remedies to simple childhood illnesses. I cannot call up a recipe for chicken soup that was made for me when I was sick. I cannot use any of the words that were said to me for my daughter. I cannot think of any family traditions to pass on. I have no recollection of holidays that I care to pass on.

I am creating my journey into motherhood from scratch. From nothing. Everyday I MAKE motherhood work, despite the memories that call to me.

I could write here that I am a victim of horrific childhood abuse, but I won't. Because I will NOT accept the victim role any longer. I have lived under the black cloud of my past before. I have been gloomy and ugly and pessimistic. I have allowed it to color every interaction in my life. I wore VICTIM like a name tag. It was as much a part of my name as anything else.

It is so tiring to live like that. A bone deep weariness. It is a spiritual attack bred in your most formative years. Imagine this- the person who plays God in your world alternatively ignores you or makes you bleed. You look up into the eyes that are supposed to be filled with love and see only rage. You are 3..4...6...9. You are helpless.

And even when you escape, it still follows. Even when you find God, and reach for Him. You are still reaching up to a power, to a father figure. The deepest struggle of my life has been in trusting God not to wound me or leave me.

He has been faithful. He has been FAITHFUL.

A few weeks ago, I read a passage in a book that floored me. I had to actually set the book down because I was shaking.

"I am not a victim of abuse if I do not perpetuate it. I AM A CONQUEROR."

I have never labeled myself in this way. I have never totally thrown off the victim label. I have worked hard at overcoming, yes. But labeling myself as a conqueror, no.

But I am, and I have. Despite the endless roundabout of memories in my head, I am nothing like my abuser. When I doubt this, Mark reminds me. When I pray, God tells me. When I look at my daughter and she looks at me, there is only love. NO FEAR. With God's help, I have created motherhood for myself. I have found a path that takes me past victim, past PTSD, past flashbacks, past bruises and bleeding and tears.

I have created for my daughter what I never had. From dust and ashes, I have created love from nothing.

I have conquered abuse. I have conquered what alcohol, bipolar disorder, and family madness had stolen from me. I am a CONQUEROR.

And now, I picture that little girl I was. I see myself, nursing bruises and broken bones as I stare out of the window into the night. The house is quiet and lonely. My stomach is empty. My mother is gone. When she returns, I will run to bed and cringe in the dark and hope she does not see me. My soul cries for affection and love...to just be SEEN.

And then I picture my Lily. She sits, right now, in her playroom. She is surrounded by light and toys and books. Her stomach is filled with eggs and fruit and milk. Her mind is filled with the books we have read and the memories we have created. When she sees me, she lights up. She smiles. She comes to me for help to wrap her baby, to fix her hair, to help her find a book. She sleeps every night secure in the knowledge that when she wakes, she will find me there, ready to love her.

In between the child I was and the child I have, there is God. There is my will to do better and not to harm. There is a vast river of selfishness I have left behind. There is darkness I closed the door on. And in every loving action I take for Lily, and every memory I create for her, I heal myself.

Conqueror, not victim.

Conqueror.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The secret place

In this house, there is a secret space. In Lily's room, in the bottomost drawer of her dresser, there are tiny outfits. Green, blue, red. Firetrucks and puppies. Tiny blue hats. The clothing had been laid out carefully, the reciepts placed diligently beside the purchases. All the tags still attached, the prices still visible.

It is the only place in this house where signs of a little boy can be found. Without my ever expaning tummy, you wouldn't know another child was anticipated. There is no nursery for him. No baby gear. I am six months along, but this house does not show it.

Every day, I go to Lily's room. I get her an outfit. I lay it out on her floor. And without really realizing it, I open his drawer. I look at the evidence of expectation. I look at the colors, the small sleeves, the tiny feet. But I close off that part of my heart that allows hope. I haven't allowed it in. If you ask, I will tell you it's a boy. I will recite how many weeks I am. I will tell you I am feeling fine, thank you. But something has been missing- hope. I have faith God knows what He is doing, yes. But God's plan is His own. It is for my good...but is it the outcome I want? I don't know. My humanity screams for my baby, but my faith allows me to see that what I want is irrelevant.

So until this weekend, this house showed no sign of Samuel. And then, yesterday, I opened his drawer and it was...different. I could see him in his clothing. I could imagine washing the tiny t-shirts and holding them to my nose to smell the baby detergent. I could imagine doing the same after he had worn them, smelling them to catch his scent. I looked around this house and I saw 2 children. I saw my boy. I pictured him in my arms.

My soul is starting to believe he will come home.

I sat on Lily's floor and methodically removed the tags from his clothing. I pulled the hangers out, I threw away the receipts. I sorted them according to size. I pressed every article of clothing between my fingers, feeling the softness. I held up tiny onesies, and I allowed myself to picture him in it. It was a beautiful moment for me as a mother. I allowed the joy and excitement to seep into me. I felt what I had with Lily- a breathless joy of anticipation.

Then Mark, Lily and I went out and bought Samuel his bedding. We chose paint colors. We moved things around to clear out his room.

So here, in this house, there is is a drawer full of baby boy clothing. There is a bedding set in blue and green in plain sight. His nursery is soon to be painted, his crib to be set up. Diapers and lotions and creams will be bought and stocked into his changing table. His room will be ready when he arrives. His swing will be placed in the living room, his bassinet beside my bed.

Because I believe. I believe that 3 months from now, I will hold my son. That he will come home. That there will be sleepless nights and marathon nursing sessions and spit up and colic. There will be tiny toes and fingers to count, lullabies to be sung. There will be moments I will wonder why I ever did this, and times when I will cry just because of the beauty of his lips and ears and coos.

But I believe there will be a little boy in this house. He will come home, he will grow and laugh and drive me crazy. But he will come home. I believe.

Friday, October 9, 2009

10 random things about me

1. My little toes look like cashew nuts.

2. I have a very twisted sense of humor that not many people get to see, because I am afraid nobody will "get" it.

3. I wash my face with olive oil. Yes, seriously.

4. Sometimes I give my daughter a lollipop just so I don't have to hear her talk for 10 minutes.

5. I still have the pillow I have had since childhood. It is gross and smelly, and I like it that way.

6. I also have been known to punch Mark just for touching my pillow. Yes, seriously.

7. I love this stage of pregnancy, not for all it's "magic", but because I don't have to suck in my stomach for the next 4 months.

8. If I could choose to be anything, it would be a writer.

9. If I could live anywhere, it would be the Colorado mountains.

10. I look like I have aged about 10 years since I had Lily. And it really, really bothers me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Where am I?

All day I am surrounded by the people I love. All day my job is to take care of those people. I do it willingly and I love it, but today I am tired and weary.

In the world of the stay at home mom, you are surrounded by need. Your child needs care, meals, clean clothes, affection, attention, entertainment...and so on. Your husband needs companionship and love and attention and sex. The house needs cleaning, organizing. The laundry needs done, the meals made. Heck, even the dang dog and fish need food.

And in all of this meeting of everyone's needs, mine get lost..alot. It's nobody's fault. It's the order of the universe. But at times it really...well, it sucks.

There used to be a time I only answered to myself. My life belonged to me. I know my life now is richer and more full, but at times I look back and wish I would have lived more fully THEN, instead of waiting for the next thing to come along. I could lie in bed and read a book all day. I could go to the movies when I pleased. I could spend my money as I wished. Getting out of the house wasn't a production. Planning a vaction wasn't a war council. Now, I am the center of many people's universe. My life and it's demands leave very little room for me. And with the impending birth of Samuel, my world and it's needs are going to grow exponentially.

Sometimes I feel that I am just mommy, or just wife. And I know this was what I choose, but if I am painfully honest I have to say I really didn't realize I would lose all of myself in the process. There is no ME in me anymore. I do what is needed, and necessary. I wash, I clean, I play, I talk, I listen. But nearly none of it is my choice. I have to justify every cent I spend, I have to make elaborate plans for childcare to go to the doctor. I have to shop and plan meals and do laundry and change diapers and feed the dog, feed the fish, turn out the lights, exercise, fold clothes, be available to everyone else and sometimes I just want to SCREAM- "STOP!!!! WHERE IS MY LIFE???!!!!"

Now trust me, I know how lucky I am. I have more than I have ever had. I know this.

But sometimes, ah gosh... I wish that somebody thought of me first. That I was top of someone's list. That I could find me, somewhere, just for a little while.

I know this is how so many other mothers feel. I feel lost in the ocean of other peoples desires and wants. I love these people, and I love to serve them- they are my family. But if I am taking care of everyone else, who takes care of me? That's a question for another day, I guess. Right now the laundry needs done, the dishwasher emptied, and the floor vacuumed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflected

Lily is a good child. By good I mean just that- good. She is compassionate and kind. She is loving and caring. She is very well behaved.

But she is also 2.

We have been butting heads alot lately. She skirts the line of defiance almost with every interaction where I am requesting something of her she doesn't want to do. And the things she doesn't want to do is lengthy. She wants to do what SHE wants. All the time. No matter what.

And that just can't happen.

So, we have a night like last night. I make her a good meal of things she likes, but I interrupt her show to have her come to the table. Oh she doesn't refuse to eat, noooooo. She just holds every single bite of food in her mouth and doesn't swallow. See- skirting the line of definance. Infuriating.

Then, we go to change her diaper and get dressed. She doesn't want to come to me. She doesn't refuse...but she dilly dallies mightily. In the end, I have asked her to come to me no less than 10 times. I grab her arm, bring her to me. She flops like a fish, holding her hand as if it is mortally wounded. I change her diaper, and warn her she is going to get a spank if she doesn't stop.

And...

SHE LAUGHS AT ME.

So, she gets a spank and a time out to boot.

I have had a hard time with deciding if spanking was an option for us. In the end, Mark and I agreed that it was a discipline tool to be used sparingly. I know many people don't agree with it, and I get that, but for us, it works. But that doesn't mean I like it. In fact, I hate doing it. But if I say it's a consequence, I have to give it as one.

Afterwards, I sat on the couch while she was in time out. She was crying. I listened to her, and I started to cry as well. I don't enjoy any aspect of disciplining her. I know it's necessary, and I know she responds very well to it and learns from it, but damnitt, it HURTS me to hurt her.

When I called her out of time out, I held her for a long time. When I pulled back to talk to her, I began crying again. She was shocked, and then she cried herself. I told her of how I don't like to spank her, how it hurts my heart and makes me sad. I don't like to make her cry, and it makes me sad when she misbehaves, because I have to take things from her. As I cried, she cried. As I wiped the tears from her face, she wiped mine.

Eventually we just rocked together. I started thinking of all of the amazing things my child is. How kind. How loving. How giving. How she truly cares for others. She is empathetic. She is compassionate.

She is a reflection of me, and my treatment of her. I treasure her. I cherish her. I work very hard to be aware of her tiny spirit and her feelings. I am affectionate. I tell her I love her a thousand times a day. I am gentle.

And all of these things, she is as well. Even in the darker moments, when I have to discipline her, I still treasure her.

I thought alot about my hangups I have carried into motherhood. I tend to be always thinking 10 steps ahead, trying to avoid situations where she could be hurt. I break my neck to keep her from feeling rejected or sad. The idea of her hurting emotionally is almost too much for me to bear. But then there are times where I must be the one hurting her to TEACH her.

I also thought about how God must feel this way with me as well. I am stubborn. I want my own way. I do the wrong thing. I am defiant. He corrects me, often, and I am humbled and saddened by his disappointment. But I always know He loves me. I always know I am safe. I can only hope Lily always feels the same with me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's time

It's time to let him go. Today he would have been due. I would have held him by now. I would have known him. But it wasn't in the plans. And I have to say, I am at peace with it.

I was talking this morning to Mark. He very honestly told me that today didn't make him sad. He was looking forward, not backward. At first it stung, and I was disappointed. But after I thought about it, I understand. Men are just not hardwired like women are. They aren't bonded until they see the baby. To Mark, Joshua was an idea. And I get that. He mourned for MY loss. He was sad for ME.

On days like this, I tend to spend time outside, planting something. I want my hands in the dirt. I want to plant something living, a remembrance.

We went to the nursery as a family, to pick out mums to plant. It is my favorite flower, because it represents my favorite season, fall.

As we walked up to the plant section, I noticed a stand of beautiful purple flowers off to one side. As I watched, a butterfly landed on them and sat still the entire time we were picking out flowers. As Mark was checking out, Lily and I approached the butterfly and watched it flit gently. I then reached out and touched it' soft wings. It flew away, and then back. I touched it again. It sat on my finger for just a few seconds before flying away, coming to flit around Lily and I, nearly landing on me several times. It was a big butterfly, yellow with baby blue just around the edges of his wings. I laughed like a child as it came back again and again. Samuel kicked me. Lily laughed with me.

And I knew it was Joshua, letting me know he was with me this day.

He has sent many creatures- several to his resting place. Small bunnies, birds, butterflies. Many times the bunny has simply laid down in front of Joshua's statue and stayed, even when we came outside. The butterflies land on his statue and stay.

Will the ever come again? I just don't know. But I do know this: as the butterfly today flew off for the last time, my sadness flew with it. I was joyful. As we planted flowers, I thought of the months to come and smiled. There was no guilt for loving Samuel, no worry that we were simply replacing one child with another. Just joy.

So here it is, September 13th. I know I will always remember this date. But from now on, I am looking forward to the life God planned for me, with the boy God let me keep, and the family that I treasure.

Rest well, my sweet little Joshua. You can go now. I'll be just fine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rescued

Images from Tuesday night stay with me. Mark and Lily in the doorway of the bathroom as I screamed that I was bleeding. Feeling such a horrible, sinking feeling as we drove to the ER. The words coming out of my mouth "I think he is gone. Oh my baby boy, my boy my boy." Marks face, white with fear. Too much blood, too bright on my skin, on the bed, everywhere.

As I lay in the hospital bed, waiting for the nurse to find the heartbeat of my precious son, I experienced pain that I had never known. Such uncertainty, such desperation. Everything in me was screaming, but all I could do was cry, whimper, and call out to God.

And then... his heartbeat. I grabbed the nurses hand, thanked her over and over. Her eyes filled as she said "You are so welcome." She let the doppler rest on my belly for a very long time, just letting me hear him. I knew then she was a mother as well.

It was a moment I will never ever forget. Rescue came, as swift as the tide. It rushed over me, flooding me. The rescue of my very soul, a soul that would have been shattered if that tiny bump bump bump wasn't found. God came. He found me in my anguish. He found me, sought me out, and rescued me. He rescued my son. He restored hope. He came between Mark and I, sat with us in our terror, and comforted us both.

Every test came back normal. The baby was moving, kicking, and doing his practice breathing. His little legs stretched, his heart beat. Proof of life, right there for me to see. The doctor lingered over his heart, letting me see it. She proclaimed him to be happy, totally unconcerned with what was going on in the outside world.

The bleeding slowed and stopped. By the time I went to bed, it was as if it has never happened. Sleep didn't come easy. I spent alot of time with God. I told Him, without any hesitation, that if Samuel was supposed to go to Him now, I could think of no better hands to lose him to. I never asked Him why, because the why is not important. I simply sat at His feet. I didn't need to say many words. What could I say? Nothing is profound enough, no words are enough. Just my heart, open for Him to see.

He is showing me, bit by bit, lesson by lesson, how precious life is. How second chances are real. How treasuring what I have been given is required. That love is a living, vibrant, thriving thing. That the family I have now is the family I was meant to have. I don't deserve them. I can't earn the paradise that I have been given. It is a gift.

So I am humbled. I am brought low, in the sweetest of ways. I am taking not one day with Samuel for granted. I am not hurrying to his due date, or counting the hours until I have him in my arms. I am just loving him with all of myself, every single day. Every moment of discomfort is one that I can remember I have been given life to carry.

Moments of panic are inevitable in this life. I wish I could be at peace every moment of this pregnancy. But just as I am holding my Samuel, my Savior is also holding me. He will carry me if the world falls apart. He never lets go.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September

September 13th. A day I never would have suspected would have meaning for me. In the in-between...not summer, not fall. Not hot, not cold. A time for changes in the trees, the grass. The geese fly, the leaves turn.

A day my baby boy would have been due.

January 26th, 2009. It seems just yesterday I lost him. It seems forever ago. The pain recedes and returns, never with the brutal nightmarish quality of the first few days, but still there. It's a wound. An injury I will always favor. But one that has made me a much fuller person, more commited to what is important. I miss him, I think of him....but I also let him go willingly.

January 30th, 2009. I was an emotional and physical train wreck. Bleeding, mourning, vowing to never ever try for another child.

January 30th, 2010. The day I am due this pregnancy. Due with my son. My Samuel.

I want to say so much about this past year. I want to tell you of how I have grown, how I have leaned into God. But I can't put it into words. It simply is. It is all as it was supposed to be. I no longer linger in disappointment or anger. Without losing Joshua, I would not have Samuel. I want them both, but it's not possible. So I will love the one I have been given twice over. I will know death holds no sadness, no fear for me. When I die, I will see my lost boy. While I am here, I will give everything I am to the one I get to hold.

But I will still remember. The day I watch Samuel walk the first time. The day he gets his first tooth. The day he says mama. The first day of school. In all times, in all ways, I will carry Joshua with me. He may never sit at the table, never snuggle in for a book and prayer before bed. But he will never be forgotten.

I can't prove to anyone that God exists. I can't say anything to make you believe.

I can only offer you this. I conceived Joshua on Christmas Eve. After I lost him, my heartbreak was like a living thing. I stepped out onto God's grace, and trusted Him to help me become a mother again.

He did not fail me.

Samuel was conceived on Mother's Day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If...

I gave up after I lost Joshua. My hope evaporated. I told anyone who asked that I was done. No more children. And I meant it.

And now I sit here, feeling my son kick me. Feeling his life. A miracle.

I am so thankful God was not intimidated by my stubborness. I'm thankful that Mark held on. I am thankful for the one sentence my best friend said to me, one I have carried since- "You can't give up on life because of death." And I am thankful that God saw fit to carry me through with faith, if not with hope.

We only see part of the picture, don't we? Less than that even. We have a small window into our life, while God knows the full story. He knows our choices, the things we will go through. He knows it all. The shame. The joy. He knows what we will hide from, and what we will embrace.

In my loneliest of times, Christ has been there. He has set up vigil in my times of darkness, has dogged my steps when I turned and ran. He has been there. I remember sitting, weeping, as I paged through my Bible. I was looking for-something. And there was a painting of Christ in the garden, all of His companions asleep. He whispered to me "I know loneliness, I know despair. I know fear." And I believed Him. He knows of everything that I can go through. Any human emotion, any experience. There is such comfort there.

I know we all have different picture in our mind of God. We carry it all our lives. But for me the picture has changed, from age to age. When I was a child, I saw God as a far away diety, waiting to pounce. Later, I was angry with what I felt was a vengeful God. And then, the picture cleared.

I see Him now as I believe He wants me to see Him. As a healer, come for the sick. As a teacher, to show us how to live. As a leader, to give us hope. And also, as a broken man alone in the garden. As a Savior, forgiving even as He dies. As a Messiah, rolling the stone away. They are all Him.

And the most beautiful picture of all- as Abba, father. Come to rescue me from myself, to hold me and carry me when I am weak. To be there, rejoicing with me. To look at ME- not me, but ME. As I am. Wholly. And to still love me. To still give and take from me, because He knows more than I do.

So I'l leave the bigger picture to God, and I will be content with mine. The picture of a God who rushes in to fill the voids left behind by the world, the one who comes when everyone else turns away, the one who gathers up what is broken and lost and mends it.

Actual conversation

*We are driving home from an afternoon in the park, eating a great dinner together, and enjoying the fall weather.*

Mama?

Mmmmhmmm?

Can you woll my widow down?

Sure.

*She sits a few minutes, face in the sun, wind in her hair. I watch her in the rearview mirror.*

Mama?

Yes?

I just love...*long pause*...eveything.

Me too, baby girl. Me too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baby Joshua,

I know you are smiling down on us today. We love you. We miss you. You are still right here, in everything we do, forever.

I love you, always.

Mama

A boy...

There are no words. I have a boy.

He is healthy, perfectly formed, growing well, and all tests are good.

God gave me my boy. My sweet boy to love. Lily's brother, Mark's son.

He is a miracle. I am profoundly grateful.


Samuel Elijah. My son.



It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Monday, August 24, 2009

Creation

There are days I feel so small. Small and insignificant. Days I feel bored with life, bored with existence. I feel as if I don't matter. I feel forgotten.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you are going through the motions of life? That there is no life in your life? Same day, same routine.

I was feeling that way yesterday. I've been shut up in the house for a week with the flu, and I got the old tunnel vision. You know, where one day inside leads to more and more? It just gets easier and easier to not go out.

Last night I was moved to pray. I find I have alot more time now, considering I get up around 300 times a night to pee. (thank you, baby) It's always been in the dead of night when I feel closest to God. No distractions, no noise. No filter. Just Him and I, looking at the moon together. Many times I simply tell Him I love him, over and over until I fall back to sleep. But last night was different. I poured myself out to Him, praising Him for all I have been given. Just praising Him. No agenda, no requests. Just worship. I felt Him. He was with me, close as skin.

As I fell back to sleep, I felt different. Lighter. Cocooned in a way. Safe.

And this morning I woke with the sun. Everything in me was ready to take on the day- to go, to run, to play. To make my daughter breakfast, curl her hair, kiss her sweet little head over and over. To go grocery shopping and sing in the car. To be joyful and free. To exercise and laugh and feel the sun on my face.

It was just ordinary life. Just still the same old me. But for the first time in a long time, I felt there was meaning in my day. There was MORE than the mundane. More time to look at the sky, less time spent indoors, brooding over housework. More time memorizing my Lily's sweet face as she watches the world go by. Less time sitting in front of Noggin.

It was just a day. But it was a day that God held up a mirror for me. My life, and all I do, does have meaning. It is ordinary, and it is something women have been doing since the dawn of time. I am not saving the world. But I am saving myself, every single moment that I move beyond my past. With every concious decision to parent well, with every snuggle and laugh and experience, I am moving beyond myself. Beyond what I knew, to what I have CREATED. To what God has allowed me to become.

I am a mother who was never mothered. I am a parent who was never parented. I am a wife who has never seen what a wife truly is. I am moving beyond everything I ever knew, and leaving the safety net behind.

And up here, balancing on the high wire, looking down at all I have left behind, I have never, ever felt safer. I know the Hands that hold me now. I am what He makes of me, and His work is good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grandma

I am not one to look for signs everywhere. Sure, I notice them if they are blatant enough, but I believe if you are constantly looking for something, you may be misled.

But.

The other day I wanted hot chocolate. We didn't have any in the house, but I was telling Mark about how my grandmother would make home-made hot chocolate occasionally, and how I remembered clearly the taste and the FEELING that she did something special, just for me. She would always bring it to me in a plastic Campbells soup mug that she knew I loved. It was cracked and battered, but it had a special place in my heart.

I remember clearly sitting in the early morning sunshine with my grandfather. The air was just a little chilly, enough for me to be in a sweater. We were sitting in their old lawn chairs, just listening to the world wake up. I was content. I was happy. I was always happy when I was with my grandparents. I was safe.

My grandma came out of the kitchen door with two mugs of hot chocolate for my grampa and I. She handed it to me, kissed my forehead, and went back inside. It was a small thing, but I will always remember that moment. Her scent, her love, the way the cocoa warmed me up, the way the cup felt under my fingers.

After Mark and I talked about it, I woke up in the middle of the night. As usual, I said a small prayer, and then laid for a while, thinking about my grandma. I silently told her I loved her, and wished she could see me now. I told her about the new baby, and how if it is a girl, it will carry her name- Rose.

Yesterday, Lily and I were sick. But we ventured out to Old Time Pottery, mainly to let Lily run off some cooped up energy. I walked the whole store, Lily running ahead. I picked up a few things, and by the time I made it nearly all the way back around, I was done for. Tired, achy, sneezing. Then I saw it. An end cap with a display of soup cups, thermos's, etc.

And wouldn't you know what was right smack in the middle?



And last night, Lily and I shared some home-made hot cocoa from this very mug.

Thank you Grandma. I love you.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This girl

This girl knows what love is. It is a man that gives entirely of himself. A man who provides. A man who is gentle. A man who grieves a lost child with you, and holds you, and cries with you, even if he doesn't understand the depth of the loss himself. A man who gives so much to your child, that you know she will have no empty places to fill. One who loves his parents deeply. One who listens. Who is tender.

A man like I have.

I waited a long time. I waited to be loved like this. And it came, slowly. It took time. It took patience. And every second of waiting was worth it. Every tear, every single bump in the road, every moment was worth it. I am grateful for the pain before Mark, because now I know... I know what this means.

It's not always perfect, and it's not always easy. But I love him, and I am loved deeply and without conditions. He and God dwell in the same space inside of my soul, a place reserved entirely for sacredness.

When I first heard Peter Gabriel's song "In Your Eyes", I cried. I wanted that. I didn't understand that kind of love, but the words and the passion. I wanted that. And I craved it.

And then Mark walked into my world, and this song made sense. Every single word fell together, and I felt it and knew I HAD it.

The melody is amazing. His voice is deep and graceful and beautiful. But the lyrics are striking. They are what love is to me. It is loving and turning back to the one you love even when it's hard. It's devotion. It's being called back, time and again, to the one that completes every part of you.

(pause music on sidebar)






In your eyes (in your eyes)
In your eyes (in your eyes)
In your eyes (in your eyes)
In your eyes

Love i get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When i want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way i go
I come back to the place you are

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway (in your eyes) to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution (in your eyes) of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, i want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat i see in your eyes

In your eyes
In your eyes

Love, i don't like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway (in your eyes) to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution (in your eyes) of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, i want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat i see in your eyes

In your eyes
In your eyes
In your eyes

accepting all i've done and said
I want to stand and stare again
Til there's nothing left out, oh
It remains there in your eyes
Whatever comes and goes
I will hear your silent call
I will touch this tender wall
Til i know i'm home again

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That girl

I was cleaning up this afternoon, and getting out things to make dinner. I decided I needed some music, so I switched over to VH-1 Classic, because yes, I am old.

Anywho.

They were playing a 1997 concert with INXS. I thought it would be good background music. It was.

And then THE SONG started up. You know what song I mean...one that takes you RIGHT BACK to a moment in your life that is unforgettable. And you are back there, in every way but physically.

See the girl who loved this song also loved a boy. Was head over heels. And it was real. A real first love. And it was good. And this song was wrapped up so tightly in that love that it took me right back, instantly.

Do I still love that boy? No. Not with the heated, torrid feelings I had when I was 17. Does anyone really love like that ever again? But the memories were so profound and bittersweet. It was like going back in time, just for a second.

And it was so touching and beautiful.

And then I looked around and realized just how much that girl didn't know. How much better life is when it is messy and busy and overwhelming. How a house is a home when you love the people in it. How real love, lasting love, is not about passion as much as it is about friendship and kindness. How real life is your baby's smell and a home cooked meal, your husband's cologne and his hand reaching for you even in sleep. It is in a thousand mundane moments.

That girl was naive, but beautifully so. She loved with everything she could give. She loved that boy with her whole soul.

But what that girl knows now is that love is so much deeper, so much richer, and so much more comforting than she ever could have thought.

(pause music on sidebar)

Actual conversation

Mama?

Yes?

*she pats my belly*

When is da baby gonna come?

Not for a while. It will be cold outside.

Oh. And you are gonna PUUUUSH da baby out?

Yes.

*she thinks for a while*

Mama, will your beddy POP?

Huh?

When da baby comes, will your beddy pop?

Oh, no. The baby moves down out of my belly and comes from my (insert word here).

Oh. *she looks slightly horrified*

That's how babies come, honey. That's how you came too.

*now she looks truly horrified*

Mama, you will need a REALLY REALLY big bandage.


Yes, indeed. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Acceptance or perspective

I am struggling between these two things right now.

I am fighting to accept that I may feel rotten until this baby is born. I am also fighting to put that into a perspective I can deal with.

Today I went to exercise. It was brutally hot, and I was in a terrible mood. A friend asked me how I was feeling, and instead of saying "Fine, thanks." I blurted out "Terrible." and went on to explain how crappy I felt.

And then I felt so so guilty. 90 percent of me is screaming from the rooftops- "I am pregnant! I am blessed!!!" and 10 percent is sick and sad. I let that 10 percent rule my mind a little too dang much, and it makes me angry. It rules my mouth. And I am disappointed in myself.

I fully accept that feeling rotten is kinda the price you pay to have a child. I accept that. I don't like it, but I accept it. And I am realizing acceptance is not enough.

I need a new perspective.

When I was little, I was enraptured by the story of St Mary, and how when she was told she would bear God's child, she accepted it without question. She bore what could have been shame and stigma with the PERSPECTIVE that obedience is crucial. She did it out of love for her God, and for her child. Her perspective was key.

I cannot fight against being sick. It simply IS. I can fight against the thoughts that rule my mind, and the self pity. I can accept, and I can do more than that. I ca find joy. I can bear this with dignity and love. I can set my feet firmly on my path and take on anything that comes. And I can rule my mouth alot more firmly, despite what might be happening inside.

So yes, I am feeling sick. But I am also feeling so so blessed. I am joyful because I carry my baby still. And I love God for still teaching me something new about my own strength, everyday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

For every bad day

Yes, I have been feeling sorry for myself. I've been feeling crappy, which leads me to not getting out of the house, which leads to not getting enough sunshine and exercise, which leads to me being a total pain in the...well, u get the picture, eh?

Today was different.

Today I got out in the warm sunshine, the cool breeze. I watched my husband and my daughter just "be" together. I made chicken salad good enough to market. I listened to James Taylor. I sat on the outside swing while Lily napped. I took in God's creation. I watched my sweet 2 year old run naked in the sprinkler, and marveled at how big she is getting. (And seriously, how chubby her little bum is. So cute.) I ate pizza. I took a walk with my fam.

It was perfect.

And it was also a lesson. I know this because it always is. When happiness smacks you in the face it makes you realize just how much you take for granted. The giggles, the hugs, the quiet night with just the sound of typing. The warm tea next to my hand, the smell of the outside air on my skin. It's a gift.

So, I'd like to apologize for my post from a few days ago. I was focusing on entirely the wrong thing. I was focusing on only myself. And in times like those it is so easy to slip. To just get lost in the small nuisances of daily life...and not see the important things.

Today as I was making lunch, I was in my own kitchen. I had a roof over my head, plenty of food in my fridge. I had my daughter outside laughing with her daddy, the smell of freshly mown grass in the air. I had my sweet baby turning inside my body. I had James Taylor on the radio, and as always when I hear his music, I just melt. It holds such warm memories for me. Times of dancing, singing, baking, crying happy tears. It brought me swiftly back to reality- that my life is so much more than this momentary trouble with my health.

I hope you had a wonderful day as well, my friends. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bounce

I am 15 weeks along tomorrow. It seems it has gone so slowly, but then again so fast. I cannot believe how different this pregnancy is from Lily's. It's harder and easier at the same time.

It's funny how when you begin to regain a little bit of energy, feel a little less nauseated, and a lot less like just lying on the couch trying not to throw up all day, that you realize how truly awful you felt. With Lily, I wasn't sick. I was so tired I couldn't walk thru the grocery store, but sick- not a bit. This one...oh this one! I am feeling so blessed that this little one has held on this long that I am not going to complain...but boy oh boy I bet this is a boy. Trouble already, I tell ya.

I've been thinking this morning about what pregnancy should be. A time to be joyful, to watch your body change and grow in ways that amaze and sometimes mystify you. It's a time to think about family, and what life is really all about. It's a time to slow down a bit.

For me, all of this is true. But it's also a time of serious medical intervention, specialists, increasing medication, and worry. I wish it wasn't- but it is. Pregnancy simply sets my body into a tailspin. BP bobbles, diabetes, etc. My hands don't work, my mind is fuzzy. I'm not myself. I am two people. And what should be a symbiotic relationship between me and my little fetus becomes a body war where I simply surrender to the invasion.

Now don't get me wrong. I realize how blessed I am.I am fully aware of how much this baby means, and how much I am going to love him/her. It's just getting to delivery day that's hard. It's hard to feel so sick, and have friends wonder why I am ignoring them, or not be able to go to exercise class and blow off steam. I don't want to complain to anyone- so if you're asking me if I am okay, I'm going to say yes.

But do you want the truth? I feel cheated. I feel cheated out a pregnancy that should be filled with joy that rapidly gets sucked out of it by doctors and medicines and worries. I know what's down the road... growth problems and diabetes, finger sticks, insulin and every ob telling me the baby is too small. My BP will skyrocket. It's kind of a given. And I am ready for it all. But I am also a little sad that I can't just enjoy.

From the ob to the high risk ob to the nephrologist to, I am sure, the endo, the medical visits, tests, and interventions will mount. I am ready for that too. But it doesn't mean I am any less sad that it has to happen. I wish my body did what it was supposed to do- that it would carry my baby with no more complications but heartburn and nausea.

But in the end, it is 9 (10!) months of troubles for a lifetime of joy. And in that moment when this little one (God willing) is laid across my heart, none of it will matter. But for now, it does, just a little.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

07.28.09

Today my mother would have turned 60. If she had lived, would we spend it together? Would she hold my Lily and tell her she loves her? Would she open a gift I picked out thoughfully? Would we even speak?

Too many questions, and no answers.

I read a blog nearly a year ago, written by a father that had lost his 10 week old child. He spoke so beautifully of being thankful to God IN a circumstance rather than thankful FOR it. God calls us to be thankful for all things, good and bad. He was struggling to be thankful FOR the death of his child and everything it was teaching him. Impossible, I thought to myself. Simply impossible. We can't be thankful for such a devastating loss...can we?

No. I don't think it's human nature to be thanful for such devastation. But what we can be is thankful for the lessons it brings.

My mother was not meant to have children. It was not in her to be nurturing. She was sick to the bone, and brought chaos wherever she landed. I was simply a tagalong casualty to her madness.

I was bitter. I was angry. I looked at friends who had two parents that cared for them. I listened to mothers as they talked to their daughters in grocery stores, in shopping malls, at the theater. I listened to the kindness. I ached, bone deep.

So I stayed mired. I was young, and I was angry. I didn't understand half of what I do now.

And now is what matters. I still grieve for my lack. I still feel the void like the grand canyon in my soul.

But, I am thankful FOR what was done to me. I am thankful FOR what was lost. I am thanful for every blow, for every scarring word. I thank God for the abandonment, for the pain, for the tears, for the lonely days. I am thankful, thankful, thankful to my God for the burdens He set upon me.

If I had never had these circumstances...would I have craved God like I do? And without God, who would I be? Where would I be? Some broken down junkie, some streetwalker, some shell of myself. I am a lie without Him, and I would have never reached for Him had I not had the lack I was needing to fill.

Who would I be without compassion? Without the tender heart that I try to hide? Would I be the same mother, the same wife, the same friend? No. Would I love with everything in me if I took love for granted? Would I treasure peace and tranquility in my home if I never knew chaos and fear? No, no and no.

And I am not perfect. I am a work in progress. But without death and sickness and madness and my parent's turned backs, I would not speak God's name. I wouldn't cry out to Him, I wouldn't fall to my knees. I wouldn't feel the uplifting rush of peace or love when I give myself over.

My mother was just 46 when she died. She passed away, lonely and surrounded by strangers in a rented room in a town nobody can remember. She was sick and in pain. She blamed everyone and everything for her life. She steeped herself in bitterness, drove away everyone who ever loved her. She defeated everyone in her path. She wounded and clung and hurt.

That could be me. Easily. I could have gone down that same road. But I reached for God. He made me everything I am today. He healed me of the things that were meant to heal, and let the others lie just under the skin- roadmaps of a path I cannot take. Some things he took entirely from my memory. Some things He allows me to remember because, although painful, they are necessary for my life. For me to remember.

For me to be THANKFUL.

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the ways of them, who passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain also fills the pools. They go from strength to strength—every one of them in Zion appears before God." Psalm 84:5-7

"Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7