Tuesday, July 28, 2009


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

Monday, July 27, 2009

The answer is love...

This morning was rough. I am not going to lie to you, friends. Today I have not been a good mom. But, to also be totally truthful, my sweet Lily was behaving terribly. I kept my patience for a long time, but I finally snapped.

I yelled. I told her not to talk to me. I sent her to her room to cry, alone, while I cooled off.

We had lunch and she went down for nap. And that is when all of my walls tumbled down around my ears.

I am a good mother. I am dilligent. I am kind. I am firm. I take my job very very seriously. Nothing is more important than my Lily. Nothing.

But today, I cried for the child I once was. I cried because my daughter got a taste of what I lived with for so long, and it wounded me more than anything has in so long. I cried, sobbed, and gave myself over to the pain and grief. I thought about myself. I thought of all the days and hours I spent alone, wondering when the hammer would fall. Wondering when and if I would be punished. Wondering if anybody loved me.

The lonliness of that little girl I used to be is almost too much to bear. She was a good girl. She was quiet. She was obedient. She walked on eggshells. She hid bruises. And she loved. She loved her momma with all her might. And she was so confused and sad when it all seemed to come down around her, time and again. When nobody would listen. When nobody came to save her.

I NEVER want my baby girl to feel even a touch of what I carry with me. I never want her to wonder if I love her. I never want her to be sad or lonely in her own home. My heart just aches thinking she will ever wonder if her momma loves her. God, it makes me so so sad.

This is the sweetness and burden of motherhood. It is carrying the pain from your own early days into your child's life. It is fighting against it or surrendering to it. It is looking at her and seeing myself. Watching her face crumble when I scold her. Watching her jump when I raise my voice. It's hearing her tiny voice ask "Mama, are you mad at me?". My heart breaks for her...and for me. I see her and I see myself at the same time.

She is 2 1/2, and I have not had a day like this. I've had doubts, sure. But I haven't had this heartbreaking sadness before. Something has dragged to the surface in the past few weeks, drawn by those few little words she seems to keep finding- "Mama, are you mad at me?". It breaks my heart, every time. And she is sincerely asking. Her little face is full of worry. And I ask myself this- what have I done to ever make that thought pop into her head?

There are too many questions. There is too much hurt here. I cry for her. I cry for the little lost girl I was. I never knew that this would sneak up on me with such ferocity, that these moments of remembering would steal my breath, would bring me to my knees.

I have no answers this afternoon. I have nothing to soothe this wound. I have only the knowledge that whenever a question is asked and the answer is just not there, cannot even be seen, the immediate answer is to love.

So I am going to wake my little girl up from her nap. And I am going to hold her, rock her, and tell her I am sorry I lost my temper. I am going to do for her what was never done for me. I am going to make it right. I am going to heal it.

And maybe heal myself a little, too.

Say it

Today I got an e-mail for my best friend of nearly 18 years. (18???!!! wow!!!) It was tucked between a weekly pregnancy e-mail and some spam. I opened it, and the tears started flowing.

The words were everything I needed to hear at that very moment. It's been a tough day. I have felt like a terrible mother today. I have snapped and yelled. I was worn out, tired, and weary. Then this e-mail, telling me how much I mean to her, and how much she loves me. For no reason. For no special occasion. Just because she wanted me to know. Like water to desert, it filled me up.

I made myself a promise 2 years ago. I was going to say how much everyone in my life meant to me. I was going to put myself out there. I was going to say "I love you" and "You mean everything to me". I was going to forgive and love and let go.

And I did. And have since. Now everybody around me knows how much I love them, and some of them consider me a big sap....but if something were to happen to them or me, they would know. There would be nothing left unsaid. And wheter I felt silly or vulnerable or scared to put my feelings out there was secondary to knowing they knew how important they are to me.

April and I have always been honest with each other. I have told her time and again how much I love her, and she to me as well. But lately it's been hard to find time to talk. We have been missing calls. Life has intruded. Distance keeps us apart physically, work and children and husbands keep us from even speaking on the phone.

But it never changes. The love is always there. It's a constant. It does not ebb and flow. It remains. April taught me what family is. She taught me what it meant to stick by somebody. She showed me what loyalty and unconditional love and support are. She was my only family at times.

I have a point here. Well I think I do. If there is something unsaid between you and someone you love- SAY IT. Say the hard things. Say the things that hurt and heal. Forgive. Apologize. Let go.

We are not promised tomorrow, friends. Today is all we have. Make it count.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Actual conversation



Where is my haiwbrush?

I don't know. Did you look for it?

I canna find it. Bookin took it.

Brooklyn took it?



But honey, Brooklyn doesn't have thumbs.


Oh. Well she still tooken it.

Okay, if I catch her with it, I'll give her time out.

Good. Bookin a bad dog.

*she walks off mumbling about her hairbrush*

Monday, July 20, 2009

I have alot on my heart today. The words, however, are stilted, lost behind sadness. I am struggling to say what I need to say and not offend, so I will just say it.

Nobody should make anybody who has lost a pregnancy feel as if that loss is small because it was "early". Nobody. If you can't say something comforting, say NOTHING.

You may have not been through it yourself. Let me enlighten you. If you are trying for a child, that child is loved before conception. Loved, treasured and cherished. It is real. It is a baby. It is your blood. Losing it at ANY POINT is losing a child. Not a pregnancy, not a fetus, not some random grouping of cells. It is a CHILD. One that will never sit at the table. One that will never go to school, or have time out, or be held. One that will always be missing. A broken bond. An unhealed wound.

Mothers, good mothers, are born to it. They love fiercely. They guard and they protect. The nurture and discipline. The body and soul gear up during pregnancy for all of this. When the baby passes, the feelings DO NOT. It hurts. It is painful and prolonged. It takes time to heal. Maybe healing isn't even a good word for it. It takes time to recover. It's an injury.

And even when you think you are done, you are not. The world rolls on, you go about your life. But the space in your arms is always empty. The space at the table will never be filled. Tears come readily.

And until you breach the gates of heaven you will not be complete.

Anyone on this earth who ever dares minimize that is an inconsiderate fool.

If you are offended, maybe you deserve to be.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Letters to my babies

Dearest Lily,

Do you know that some days I just long for you to go to bed, but the moment you are asleep, I miss you? That I tiptoe to your room, just to look at you? That I lean over to smell your special scent and kiss your soft cheek? Sometimes you wake up and see me, and smile so big, whispering "Mommy!" and then fall back to sleep with a smile still on your face. Of all the moments in this world I have experienced, the best have been with you.

I wish, wish, wish that words could cover my love for you. That I could spell it out here, in black and white, for you someday to read. That you could look and say "This is how much she loved me." But it just doesn't work that way. I can only say to you, now, that you have saved me, in every way somebody can be saved. I live to make you smile. I live to make your life better and richer and more full. I live because you are mine.

I have prayed since you were conceived that you would be joyful. That you would approach the world with arms open. That you would LOVE. And you do. You love so deep and so fully, even now. Your friends and family and anyone who sees you know what love is. It is all in your tiny little face, your spirit. I pray nothing ever breaks that loving spirit you have. I will live my whole life to guard that in you.

I don't really know how to be a mother. I have relied on instinct and trusted God to lead me. I hope when you look back one day it will be with warmth. That you will remember the hugs, the kisses, the laughing, the afternoons baking cookies and playing in the sand. I hope you will forget the times I have lost my temper or been short with you. I hope you will always know I will make times for you, and that your needs will be important to me, always.

You are 2 1/2. It doesn't seem possible. I feel like I have known you forever. I feel like you have existed, just outside of my line of sight, for my whole life. I can tell you something, my sweet girl, if I had known one day I would have such a wonderful creature as you to care for, none of the bitterness of my past would have touched me. You heal me. You make me better.

I always say to you, every night, "I love you." and you say it right back. Then I say "You complete me!" and you say "No!!!" and we laugh. But you do. Something in me that was broken healed over the moment they put you into my arms.

Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for coming to me, for choosing me to be your mommy.

You complete me.


Dear Gummi Bear,

I've been hesitant to write to you yet. I've been nervous to get too "attached" I guess. But it's fruitless to hold back. I already love you almost beyond bearing. No amount of nerves could defeat this love. It is from the soul.

I wish I could explain to you what you mean to me, but I just can't. You are precious, and loved, and already so so special. I dream of holding you. I dream of nursing you, rocking you. I dream of the moments before dawn when it will be you and me in the rocker with the house quiet around us.

When we saw you on the sonogram, you were sure to show us that you were healthy- bouncing all over, giving the tech a hard time. You waved your little nubs, you turned over, you showed us your back. And then just when we thought we wouldn't see you, you turned fully over and faced us. Yes, we can be honest, you still look a little alien-like. But you are my alien.

So we wait for you. We love you. We pray for you and think of you every moment. You will be welcomed into our home and our family and you will be loved and treasured the whole of your life. We can't wait to see your face, little one.

Grow sweet baby, grow!


Dear Joshua,

We remember. We never forget. You are in my heart forever. You will never, ever be forgotten or lonely.

Wait for me....


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things nobody tells you about pregnancy

1. That at some point, you will be so constipated you will beg for someone with a stomach bug to kiss you.

2. That your body will change in ways that are frightening and disturbing enough to make you cry. For example, boobs that look normal upon going to bed but when you wake are replaced with huge knockers with burnt pancakes for nipples.

3. The pregnancy nose. It comes much faster the second time. It's wider, bigger, and bulbous.

4. Pregnancy face. People says its a glow but it's just cold sweat from the nausea and bloating from retaining every meal for the past 4 days. (see number 1)

5. Swollen girl parts. Enough said.

6. Crazy bizzare sex dreams, but no desire to have anything of the sort when awake.

7. That you can be so tired you long for Sesame Street to come on, just so you can close your eyes for 10 minutes. You then have bizzare dreams involving Mr Noodle that shame you. (see number 6)

8. You will drool. Alot. Every night. It will soak your pillow and make your husband either disgusted or amused. You will lean toward disgusted.

9. The belching. The gas. The sounds that would make a trucker blush. Again, amusing your husband.

10. That it's all, all, all worth it. And we do it again and again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The shell

This past weekend we took Lily and her Mi-Ma to the beach. It was a great day for it, sunny and warm with a hint of a breeze. We met friends and spent alot of time carting water to and from the ocean, rolling in the sand, and dodging the huge waves.

Lily began searching for seashells, and I followed her with the bucket. She began picking up nearly every single one she saw and tossing it in the pail. I kept trying to gently encourage her to just pick the whole ones, the unbroken or unblemished ones, but she was persistent. To her, they were all beautiful.

I finally gave up and just followed her, marveling at how a 2 year old can teach me something that literally changes my thinking in just seconds.

See, I have been having long conversations with God about worth. My worth, my ability to stand before Him and be worthy of His grace and love, and not cower and be shameful of who I am. I pray for everyone I know that needs it, every night....but so rearely pray for myself and what I am longing for- because I feel unworthy of consideration. I confess my sins, I ask for forgiveness, I learn from my mistakes, and I try not to make more, but I still feel so small in the face of my great and glorious God. There are so many better people than me, that do so much more. There are so many who need more, and deserve more.

I am a broken shell. I am not whole. I am not beautifully perfect. But like my little Lily taught me in such a profound way, I am still worthy to be treasured. Perfection is not necessary to come before God. He invites us and meets us just where we are. It is His most amazing gift- grace.

So we picked up the broken shells, and we kept them. We looked at them, marveled at the colors, the textures. We washed them clean and laid them out in the sand. Then we watched as the tide came in and washed them away. I looked at Lily as she watched them go, seeing the bittersweet feelings cross her little face.

But in the end, she simply raised her hand and waved, calling "Bye bye shells! I love you!"

Thank God he brought this amazing child to me, to help me see the world through His eyes. I am so so blessed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


When I was pregnant with Lily, I worried endlessly. Every bump in the road became a huge obstacle. Every complication became a cause for tears and days of wallowing.

And complications I had, in spades. Gestational diabetes, Pregnancy induced hypertension, growth restriction, carpal tunnel, and on and on. My body basically threw up it's hands in defeat and surrendered to my little invader.

But oh that moment. You know the moment, if you are a mother. When I first looked at her, and I just thought- "My God- I know you. I have known you all of my life."

That moment made it all worth it.

And this time around, it's already beginning. Blood pressure troubles are creeping in. Lying on the table today while the doctor went over my options for BP control, and ordered tests and more tests, I felt it all come back again. The panic rose up in me, the anger and frustration with my body.

Then he scanned me, and the precious profile of my little gummy bear came up on the screen. He/she was moving, waving it's little nubs. The heart was beating. The legs kicked out and in, out and in.

And in that split second, I went from frustration and panic to praising God. I smiled. I laughed. I touched the screen and said out loud "Thank you, Jesus." The doctor patted my hand gently and smiled at me.

It was a moment I won't ever forget. With God, my mind and heart can shift instantly to joy. He alone can give me comfort when there is none to be had from human means.

I don't know what this pregnancy holds. I don't know that I will hold this baby. I don't know if I will remain healthy. I have hope, absolutely. I have trust. But the greatest of all that I have is faith.

Nothing that comes is beyond God's reach.