Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She would have been 63

and yet heavy
burning in me like poison
but giving me life
your memory
your example
your face
careworm and edged with grief
and your hands
dirt stained and broken
and your voice
velvet over glass
and your words
cutting and quick
I am
yours and yet not yours
I am mine
and yet not mine
and in ways I will never understand
I belong as much to the weight of memory
as I do to the burden of the present
and you live in me
and I love you
and I give you
with open hands
my forgiveness
I stand now in the curve of God's grace
I see you with the eyes of faith
and oh God if I could go back
and love you
I would
and if I could go back and take the words from my lips
I would
but I can't
and you are
my mother
and you are
my ghost
and my haunted dream
and my wasted hopes
and the face of my brokeness
and I love you
even when I don't want to
and I remember
even when I fight it
and so burden me
with your presence
and love me
from where you are
and I give you my children
and I share them with you
and I welcome you into this life I have made
and I ask you to forgive who I was
and across these two worlds
yours of ether
mine of substance
I ask for your hand
and I ask for your love
and I ask for you to just be
like you couldn't be then
and I ask you to love me
here, now
like you never could
there, then
and I offer you again my wounded heart
this daughters soul
that longs
and reaches
across this broken space and time
for you

Happy Birthday, where you are, mama.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I remember the moment my life changed, and all of the things that had once seemed real or important or big faded.

She was laid across my chest, ungently, and rubbed with a blanket as she lay there, pink and bellowing. Her cry was like a kittens, fierce and soft at once. The room was full of people, of color, of blurring faces and words tossed about.

I saw none of it. I heard none of it. My eyes were her eyes, my world the soft focus of her face.

I looked at the redeemer God had placed in my world and in my care. The one sent to give me purpose and fulfill my heart's aches and voids.

She was, and because she was, I became more than I was.

Her hand laid in mine that night, soft and sheltered in the blooodstained and curvy valleys of my own. Her fingernails no bigger than a pea, her feet smaller than my pinky. She was so small, so fragile, and at once so big in my life that she took the air from me.

And her eyes. Sloped upward away from her perfect blunted nose. Opening rarely in those first few days, but always on mine when they did. I saw her for the first time in those days, but I knew her forever.

This was what I had ached for, wished for, and dreamed of. She was the harbor to a storm tossed vessel. I found my counterpoint and my compass all at once, on her tiny body. I whispered how far I had come in her pink ear, curled like a perfect shell under my lips. I touched her eyes, her cheeks, her elbows and toes, marveling at the detail God gives.

He forgets nothing. No part of her body was immune to the perfection He gives.

She was so innocent and so vulnerable. And mine.

She was given to love, and to heal, and to raise me from what circumstance had taught me.

And now, now that sweet fragile being is still the focus of my life. Her voice and face my every waking thought.

Our days are layered now with tension, with negotiation, with arguments. She is 4. I am 34. And we both know what's right.

But the moments when she is laying across me, her head on my chest... when her hand curls into mine and I trace her fingertips, placing a kiss in each palm...when I whisper into her sleeping ear of how far we have come, and of what she saved me from...

These are the times I know we are just a breath away from that one small moment, precious and extraordinary only to me, when she was laid across my chest and we breathed the same air, and I looked at her and thought...

Yes, you are the one. I have missed you all my life. And now you are here.

My sweet Lily girl, love of my heart and soul. You were born to make me whole. You are loved beyond imagining. And you have raised me up so gently into this role of mother. You have blessed me. May I always bless you, too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Battle

It's 10:12 AM. I am facing my nemesis across an island of green grass.

I stretch, pop my neck back and forth.

I do several jumping jacks. Okay, I do one. Okay, half of one.

I yell out "Let's go!!! C'mon, I'm not afraid!!"

I take a deep breath.

I am primed, ready for battle.

It glows, my nemesis. It gleams in the early morning light.

It thinks it's soooo tough. Soooo fancy.

It is the children's playground.

Yes, that's right. A playground. Swings, slides and the like.


Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh.

But there are a thousand booby traps there among the metal and mulch.

Okay, not a thousand. Like, 2300. Or 5. Yeah.

I'm gonna outline them for ya. Ready?

1. Cigarette butts.

Do you know how many times I have caught my child trying to eat one of these? Ew. Or, that one time that I found one IN HIS MOUTH? *shudder*
Please, for the love of God, I don't care if you smoke...really I don't. But can you do it somewhere other than where my filth magnet can get to your nasty cancer ridden butts? Huh? Every time we go I have the urge to mask my child like Hannibal Lechter.
Which may help me avoid booby trap number 2.

2. The other mommy.

Oh you know the one. The one who has her child covered in all natural sunscreen made by yeti's somewhere in the vast unknown, who's child only plays with wood toys, has never had a bite of sugar or processed food, and who is a genius, natch. You look at your own child, covered in aerosol sunscreen and a too small hat drinking lemonade from a Cars sippy cup and eating mulch and you feel, well...bad.

Or the ultra competitive mom. The one who's child has done more than yours could ever dream of. One thousand summer camps. College level art classes. They just stopped at the park on their way to tennis lessons, then on to violin. You look at her kid eating mulch with yours and you feel, well...a little smug.

Or the mom. Oh the mom. The one who's child knocks yours over, yells in her ear, throws sand and dirt, and tramples the smaller kids on his way to the slide. The one who calls gently after him, "Please don't push the little boys face into the dirt!" "Please don't throw yourself off the slide onto other people." "Please don't hit mommy!" and so on. You look at her child and feel...well, rage.

3. The public restrooms

Need I elaborate? Didn't think so.

4. The playground itself

Or as I like to call it, the maze of death. You watch your child go up with a gut wrenching wave of despair, and debate...Do I follow him up there or from down below? Do I try to keep him from falling or catch him when he does fall? How loud do I have to yell for him to hear me, really? I pretty sure I just bruised my larynx.

I spend the entire time he is meandering to the slide panicking. Why the heck do they have to have HUGE openings that kids can fall through? I just don't get it! What are they thinking when they plan these things? "Well look, maybe little Johnny might wanna slide down a pole like a fireman to break his legs!" "Maybe little Susie would enjoy smacking her head on every step of a ladder on her way down to the hard ground!" "Kids LOVE a trip to the germ ridden ER!"

I just don't get it. The playground is for children! Make it safe for children to play on, not for acrobats to frolic in. Common sense, playground maker people!

5.The "We are leaving!" meltdown.

It starts almost when we ge there.


Then you begin the countdown. "Ten minutes!" and so on. All the way down to one, at which time you have to do the chase. Like the one from Indiana Jones but more terrifying and painful. You know the one. Where you are chasing your child yelling "Come back here right now!!! Mommy said we have to go. Don't you dare go back up to the slide...Okay, slide one more time and we are leaving!" You wait at the bottom of the slide, thinking, aha!, I've got him trapped now. Then the little sucker sees your shadow and climbs back up.

Twenty minutes later you are dragging both of your filthy children from the park while one or the both of them does the spaghetti legs routine. You alternate between dragging one and carrying the other, but the car is far away and it's hot so you just drag them both. People stare. You get to the car, strap them in, and then cry a little on the bumper. Then you go to ChikFilA because you are a masochist and enjoy a lunch filled with whining and screaming.

So, what are your plans for today, my friend? Oh you WERE gonna take the kids to the playground. Ahem. Sorry about that. Perhaps the pool insead?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Things I have said today:

"Lily, stop talking and eat." X 500 MILLION

"Seriously, Sam, your wee wee has a shelf life. You don't have to be all about handling it now."

"Lily, take my socks off right now!"

"Savannah, stop eating my socks."

"Sam, stop eating my socks!"

"Please don't put blueberries up your nose."

"Hold still while I get the blueberry out of your nose!!"

"How did you get a green bean in your ear?"

"Please stop rubbing your head over your high chair tray."


"No you can't have candy. Because we are eating healthy. Because it's good for us. Because it is. Yes it is! Oh hell, have a dang sucker. Just be quiet."

"Sam, no." X 600 MILLION

"No, Sam didn't poop. It's dinner you smell."

"Just eat your fish. It's not spicy. No it's not!!!! Okay, drink some milk, the fish is too spicy to eat."

"Sam, don't hit your sister."

"Lily, stop aggravating Sam."

"For the love of God, hit him back then!"

"Where's mommy's rum?"

"I love you to the moon. Okay, fine, I love you to jupiter. Okay, to jupiter and back. Okay, forget I EVEN SAID ANYTHING!"

"No, you can't win at Candyland everytime. Because it's just not how things are. No I won't let you win. Because I said so."

"Just because your water doesn't have ice in it doesn't mean it's not fresh."

"No you can have a unicorn. Or a pony. Or a cat. Because I am allergic and will run away."

"I love you to jupiter, back, and down to china.Yes, China where Kai Lan lives. No I don't know where your Kailan cup is. No I won't trade it out for your princess cup. GO TO SLEEP!!!!!!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Who am I to deserve this?

To have this love, and this life, and this world that I could never have dreamed of?

To have carried 3 beautiful babies, two of whom I get to hold.

Who am I, to have love, a hand to hold, a life to share.

To laugh?

To have friendships that transcend the everyday, and reach into the beyond?

To look into my children's eyes and be thankful for their health.

Who am I?

And , more importantly, Who's?

And why does He deem me this worthy, of this life?

Oh Lord. Sweet Jesus. Loving God. My refuge. My Savior.

He spilled His blood for me. He gave His life for me. I think of Him on Calvary, his wounds spilling. His tears flowing.

But I also think of Him as I was created. I think of Him knowing my nature, and giving me this life, with all of the good and bad.

And I think of Him, watching me reach for Him. Watching me hold tight to the promise of love.

He is.

He loves.

He gives.

I have had it all right here in my hands. The best of life, the worst. The loneliness, the joy. I have watched miracles happen. I have walked the road that was dark and waited for dawn.

And here I am.

Proof that we are not the only ones who cling. He clings to us as well. He walks with us. He holds us. He loves us through all of the brokenness this world gives.

And He promises we walk none of it alone.

What a profound gift. To walk this world tethered to the One who created it. To see with our eyes His works. To hold the children he allows us to birth and care for.

To never be lonely.

So if you are reaching beyond your own means, if you are waiting for life, trust that He is there, reaching back to you.

Who am I? I am His.

Friday, July 1, 2011


The air is always moving here, carrying sound, salt fragrance, cooking scents. The wind blows one direction and the next. There are people. Shouting, chatting, whispering. The speakers above the pool bar assault the air with a weird mix of music- from LL Cool J to Kenny Rogers.

The sun beats down mercilessly. The planes fly overhead in groups- small ones heading to other islands, larger commercial jets lifting nearly straight up to scale the mountains.

It is a joyous mix of sound, scent, and the heady feeling of having nothing to do but just this one thing- float, romp with the kids, nap in the sun.

We swim. And swim and swim. The kids screech and throw themselves in the water.

I break away and dive down deep.

And it all stops.

Noise becomes muted under the cupped blueness over me. The sun loses it's power. There is no scent. There is nothing but...peace.

And as I lie on the bottom, using my feet to keep myself still and feeling my body sink further and further toward a delicious lack of anything, God speaks.

This is what prayer should feel like.

A slip from this world to another, a passing through of all of the human things that occupy me.

A dive into God's presence, and resting there, open to it all.

This was so striking to me, this image. Because it can be so easy to be pulled to the surface into a world I am trying to shut out. Pulled up unwillingly into all of the human problems, small concerns, and aggravations of the day.

I go too easily back there. I am pulled too quickly away from the sacred spot that God occupies in my life- the small few minutes He wants me to give to Him, and the minutes I need. I rush to the surface within seconds to confront anything that interrupts my thoughts.

So what if I use this in my prayer life? What if I picture a great dive down, to the bottom of God's presence and to the stillness I crave, and the stillness that my soul needs to thrive in this world. A world I live and walk in, but a world I don't ultimately belong to?

So from now on I will picture the sun, the sand, the voices, the music, and the great sweeping dive beneath it all, into the cool shadowy blueness. Into the presence of love and grace and peace. The feeling of being held and taken away from the things of the world that distract from who I ultimately am.

Dive with me....