Saturday, January 30, 2010

For my Baby Girl

My dearest little girl,

I will never forget the day I found out you were a girl. I just knew you'd be a boy. I had already named you Jacob and perused through the pages of Pottery Barn Kids looking only at the little boy stuff. When the lady doing my ultrasound announced you were a girl, I was so surprised. And mostly scared. I spent the remainder of my pregnancy scared of you - how would I raise a little girl? How could I be all that she deserved in a mother? I was overwhelmed with the thought of a girl who would grow up to be a woman, and I was so scared you would make some of the same mistakes I did and experience some of the same hurts.

Little did I know how you would change my life, how much of a blessing the responsibility of you would bring, and how much I needed you. If you had been a Jacob, I may have never explored certain parts of myself. And I certainly never would have had the delight of listening to your laughter. Oh how your laughter fills the room... our whole house!

You are so pure. You are so alive. You are so wonderful in every way. You are growing up so fast right before my eyes, and it hurts me and excites me at the same time. Yes, my dear, you are loud, and you scream, kick and hit, but I love the fact that you want to be heard and seen. Because, my little one, you have so much to say even at your tender age.

There will be times that you don't like me. In fact, I think there have already been many of those times in our five years together. I just want you to know that even when you don't like me, I like you - to your most inner core, I like who you are, who you were made to be. And you should never change - never mold or melt or adjust who you are in the inner most part of your soul. Go to the grave screaming, kicking and hitting when necessary. Be heard and seen wherever you go. Let everyone know who you are, what you like, what you don't like. And laugh - share that beautiful, sweet, resonating laughter with the whole world along with all the love bubbling up with it. For you are full of pure love, my sweet Madalyn.

Just so you know, I'm not afraid to be your mother anymore. I am blessed to be your mother. So blessed to watch you grow and learn. So amazed in you and who you are. So honored to have been given this gift, one I didn't fully understand so long ago.

I will love you forever sweet Baby Girl...


Your Crazy Mama

Friday, January 29, 2010

Speak to me...

I have for a while now liked to look at the scriptures as word written to me. Maybe that's a little narcissistic, but that's how I feel. The Bible is God's one tried and true method of speaking directly to me. I do believe He could use other ways if He so deemed it necessary, but the Bible is the one continuous flow of teaching, conversation, and advice He has for all of us. Maybe that's why I love to read the Bible. It's new every time I read it. I find things each time I've never seen before. When I am feeling especially studious, I read the little entries about the historical things that were occurring and the back story to the passages, and then I really find new meaning. It's literally a living word to me - moving, shifting, changing, and growing in me every time I read it.

I have been challenged by the Word lately. About a month ago, I was skimming through my Bible looking through the things I had highlighted, and I decided I should read Galatians. Don't know why I settled on that particular book of the New Testament, but I did. No surprise to me, it was the exact word I needed at that particular moment. In reading the fifth chapter, I felt a conviction on my heart to change some things in my life. It's a feeling and a desire I've had before, but I had never really felt convicted of it. I read the words, I understood what they meant, and I felt utterly compelled to make some personal changes. And I am. And I am feeling good about those things.

Then yesterday, I found myself reading in Isaiah. Now, I have never read the entire book of Isaiah, and it's always been a book that has scared me for one reason or another. But I found myself there, and I know full well why. This is what I found:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you...
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth -
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.
Isaiah 43: 2 - 7

Wow. I don't know if it will affect you the way it affected me, but I just had to share. I just love it how He thinks I am precious and honored in his sight. That's amazing to me. Cause see, God knows everything I've ever done, and a lot of that stuff hasn't been precious or honorable. Yet He sees past it all somehow. And that just amazes me. Utterly amazes me. And I like it how He says that I should never have fear because I am his. See that's the stinking message I got from the Little Golden Book the other day, so you just can't tell me that He's not moving and working in my heart right now. That He's not planting little seeds all around me - little surprises that will emerge from the dirt at just the right moment when I am ready to receive them. I also like how I'm reminded that there will be fire and rushing water. That's life, and there's no way to avoid all that, but He has promised that I will not be burned and will not be overcome. So that's where I am right now - for the first time in my life beginning to get a grasp of God's unbelievably big love for me. Bigger than the love I feel for my own children. Bigger than any love I could ever comprehend. And I am amazed. And compelled to find out just what He needs me to do while I'm here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My attempt to not be heavy...

Wow. It just seems my posts have been so heavy lately. Of course, life has been a little heavy lately, so I guess it oozes into the blog posts. So, here's my attempt at a post that's a little less heavy...

My mom is, as I type, on her way to meet with her oncologist to discuss the results of her biopsy taken exactly two weeks ago. It's been so different this time around, or perhaps my memory doesn't serve me right. It just seems that during her first diagnosis, we got results relatively quickly and treatment started within a few weeks. This time around, we are a little over month into the process and don't currently have all the details. In a way, I know that this means this go around is a little less aggressive - the doctors know they have time on their side. However, the other side of me wants them to hurry up and tell her exactly what she's looking up so that I can begin to process it all in my mind. Completely selfish - I am wanting to process it for myself. My mom remains extremely patient, and I remain continuously amazed at her. Completely and utterly amazed and just so blessed to call her my mother.

We are also preparing for my baby girl's burtday (as she says) on Sunday - the big FIVE. Wow. FIVE. It just sounds so old to me. I am continuously amazed by her as well - amazed that she came from me. Amazed that anything so completely alive could come from me. She's unlike anyone or anything I've ever known. She is herself. She is full of love and life and energy and laughter, and lately I find myself watching her during times that she's unaware and trying to find a way to be more like her. I had thought all my life my children would spend their time mimicking me; I guess I never understood that as a parent you see so much in your own child you'd like to mimic.

Baseball has begun, and I am glad. Though it's still a little chilly out, David is in great need of activity. We've been relatively dormant since July, and he's got a ton of energy to get out. And what better place to get it out than on the baseball field. The crack of a bat against a baseball remains one of my most favorite sounds in the whole world. It brings me back to my childhood to the ball park where I watched my brothers play. It brings me back to high school where I went to watch all the cute boys in their baseball pants. And now here I am as a mother watching my little man work his hardest and learn things he'll never forget. I just love it. And I love watching my David play.

So - there you have it. Wasn't too heavy, was it? I tried really hard. I promise. I had to hold back all kinds of things I'd like to say. But I'll save those for another post...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little Golden Book

This morning, shortly after the little and big boy were out the door to their appointed places, Madalyn came to me and asked me to read her a book. This doesn't happen much with her. She's not the book type, if you know what I mean. She's never really enjoyed sitting down and having a book read to her, which, of course, is completely the opposite of how her brother was when he was smaller. I make it a point to stop whatever I'm doing and read to her when she comes to me and asks. It doesn't happen that often, and I know that I need to appreciate what few times it does.

This morning she brought me My Little Golden Book About God. You remember the Little Golden Books, right? They are small, bound at the stem with the little gold sticker, and can be found in a variety of characters, many of which are the same as when I was a child. As she sat in my lap and I began to read the words, I couldn't help but smile.

Do you ever feel that God is sending you a message? This morning, His message was perfectly clear and simple in the words of the Little Golden Book. I was reminded that God is in full control of His creation, from the small to the vast and of the movement and the stillness. He provides for us all we need from food to sunshine to rain. God gave us a "small still voice" in our hearts to help us know what's right and wrong. And it reminded me that God is pure love. Nothing else but pure love.

Madalyn will never understand what she did for me this morning. She had no idea. She simply went in her room and picked a book for her mama to read to her. She didn't know that I would clearly hear the voice of God say to me:

I hold your mother in my hand. I will not let her go. She is mine.
I am wiping your sweet friend's tears. I will not stop. She is mine.
I am here for you. I will never leave. You are mine.

As if that weren't enough for me, on my way home from picking Madalyn up from school, I looked up in the gloomy cloud filled sky and there appeared to be a beam of light shining through. Literally a beam of light. It was as though someone had carefully carved a whole in the thick dark clouds, and a perfect ray of light poured out. In that moment, I pondered the clouds. Even though they are so thick today and the sky is dim and gloomy, the sun still shines behind them. It never changes, just the atmosphere beneath. And I knew it was yet another message for me that He's still there - the darkness and sadness may seem to grow around me, problems may arise, new challenges each day, but He's still there.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scattered. smothered, covered...

Not my hash browns, but rather my brain... I feel completely scattered, smothered, and covered. I am having a difficult time maintaining a complete thought and getting small things done here lately. There's just so much running in my little mind all the time that it's hard to focus in on one thing at a time. Adult ADD?? Probably a touch on any average day... Depression?? Probably a touch with all the things going on...

My mom's biopsy went smoothly on Thursday. I don't think I realized how much the event would effect me. But the latter part of this week I've felt distant in my mind and disinterested in life. I just feel so lost in my own thoughts. I don't know why the biopsy would bother me as much as it has. Maybe it's the fact that now the cancer has become more real in my mind. Maybe it's the fact that we will have it written in stone - it is cancer, and it is this particular kind, and this is the medicine we will use to treat it. It's good to have all the facts and the course of treatment outlined for you, but I think I've been living in this imaginary place in my mind and believing that somehow, miraculously, they'd come back and say it's not cancer after all... that they were wrong and it was nothing to worry about! How completely childish of me to believe even in the smallest, darkest whole of my mind that it were possible... but I've been holding on to that, and I am panicking now that I know that imaginary place is about to crumble.

I've also started reading a new book. It's one of those lovely self-help books suggested to me by a very wise woman. And true to self-help form, it's got me thinking way too much about myself and really not liking a whole lot about what I find. Why is it that when you really sit down to take a good hard look at yourself, you wish you hadn't? I find myself at this weird stage of my life - somewhere in the middle. I can look back and see the mistakes I made, see the reasons why, see the hurt it caused me. I can look forward and see the person I'd like to be, the positive changes I'd like to make, and the kind of life the Lord wants me to have. But here I am, in the middle, looking back and forth, confused as to how to get from point A to point B. I know I'll get it all worked out in due time, but I just feel a little antsy.

I've been a little quiet lately on every front. And it's not because I'm sad or angry or whatever. It's just because I'm sorta trapped in my head trying to make sense of my thoughts. So everyone be patient. The fun loving, sarcastic me will be back on the bloggy front again real soon. I promise.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Raising David

This whole parenthood thing is really for the birds some days, isn't it?? David has struggled immensely with organization, which I completely understand as I continue to struggle with it well into my 30's. But the difference between me and David is this: I have three people other than myself to keep up with - laundry, red-handled screw drivers, the favorite lovey and blanket, the warmest shirt, the bills, the amount of toilet paper in possession, etc., etc, and so on. David has only himself and his little world to attend to. And, while I completely get that it's the biggest little world he's ever had to be responsible for in his little life, he'll hardly find any sympathy from his mama. It's a simple spelling list or a darn notification that his lunch account is low, not an entire household or small country.

Today, I pretty much came to the realization that David hasn't been doing his spelling homework. He's been telling me that he completed it at school or that he forgot it and he'll get it done in the morning before class. But, as of today, that crap ain't flying with this Mama. Tonight he had to do two night's worth, and from here on out, he's been instructed to bring it home every night. If he did it at school, fine... bring it to me and show me that you've done it. Because as we stand tonight, I don't believe his word.

Not a big deal to some, I guess - spelling homework. But I know my son far better than he realizes. He's lazy by nature and a genuine procrastinator. And I know these things because I have those tendencies myself. And I also know how I managed to breeze through school with no problem until I reached the college level and had a serious work load and studying to try to manage. And I wouldn't say I had the same success in college as I did in my earlier education. Obviously my current employer isn't too concerned with my performance, but still. He has to start to learn somewhere. And he might as well start now. I mean, he's not getting any younger, you know.

Case in point: On Saturday, my son asked me, "Where do babies come from?"

I was shocked. Mortified. Flabbergasted. And he happened to ask me in front of my mom, dad, and his little sister. So I told him that if he really wanted to know, I'd have to tell him at another time because it was something that didn't need to be discussed in front of all those people. Do you think I've brought it back up????? Absolutely NOT!!! I am terrified to have that discussion with him. Absolutely have no idea where to begin or end or what to say or what not to say.

Why is it so hard to talk about sex anyway? It's one of the most primal functions of our body, you know right next to eating. It's the one common thread that runs through all of creation. But it's the least talked about between parent and child... at least between me and my parents while I was growing up. Sex was always that thing that you weren't supposed to do until you got married. Maybe that's why I don't really know how to address it with my son - I was given such a rigid perception of sex growing up from my family and church, and I am so confused as to what message I'm supposed to give my children.

Here's what I'd love to have the courage to say:
David, babies come from God. God created a wonderful act that should only occur between a grown-up man and woman that love each other dearly and have committed their life to one another. It's something you'll no doubt do at some point in your life, but it's nothing to concern yourself with now.

Would that scar him for life? Would that give him the wrong impression? Would that cover all that needs to be covered at 8 whopping years old? I don't know...

The scariest part about parenting to me is that you don't know at the present moment exactly what you're creating for your child. It's kinda like painting with a blindfold. You may try to use the right colors and brushes, but you won't know the end result until you are finished and take off the blindfold. That's how I feel with my kids. I can tell them the things I think they need to hear from me, but the truth is that they will both be different. I know how I was taught and explained things, I know what I would do different and what I'd do the same, but I don't know if those ways will be effective with my children because my own experience clouds my judgement. I guess the glory of it all is that people have been parenting since the beginning of time, and the world is not an entire screwed-up mess. So we humans must be doing something right.

Oh, wait... the world does kinda appear to be a screwed-up mess sometimes...

Okay. I'm off to draft my speech entitled, "Where Babies Come From." I'm sure by tomorrow I'll be working on my fourth or fifth draft...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wow, it's cold!

So, it's pretty cold outside. And I'm really quite over it. Of course, the weather man is talking snow, but I must admit that it wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit if it never snowed here ever again. At least not until my kids are old enough to just go out there and roll around and play in it while I sit inside all warm and toasty. Anyway...

Buddy Love has officially become one spoiled rotten creature. Even though he has more hair on his body than I imagine a woolly mammoth did back in its heyday, we feel like it's too cold for the poor thing outside. You know, the same dog we found on the interstate in the dead of winter, alone, dirty, and much slimmer than he is now. So here we are almost a year later, and Buddy Love has gained close to ten pounds, perfected the art of killing of small animals, learned that the swimming pool is like the endless water bowl every dog dreams of, and has wiggled his way into our hearts so much that we have an electric heater next to his dog crate in the garage to keep him warm at night while he sleeps. I still can't believe we have a dog. And it's even more unbelievable that we treat him like he's a baby. But he kinda is a baby... my little baby.

I do heart ole' Buddy Love something terrible. If he didn't have those big brown eyes, I can't say that he'd have worked his way into my heart as quickly as he did. Oh, but he did.

The kids are back at school, and I must say I am quite relieved to have a bit of quiet now in the house. Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day in the deepest pits of hell (aka: David's Room). During the last two months or so, I noticed that David quit bringing home his daily homework folder. Sometimes he'd bring home worksheets or whatever that he needed to complete, but I never saw the folder. I talked to him about his responsibility to bring home papers from school, but I didn't give it much thought as to why he was struggling so to keep up with things. Until yesterday, while cleaning up his room, I located the green plastic folder designated for homework assignments amidst all the other CRAP in his room. Hmmmmm.... might explain why he hasn't brought it home. Because it already was home, and he had absolutely no idea of its whereabouts. Between that and the fact that his brand new PSP was lying on the floor with no cover or care in the world as well as one of its $40 games, Mama was slightly aggravated with his lack of respect for his possessions and responsibility for the condition of his room.

I unleashed on him when he got home. I began the conversation with these words: "You are not going to like me very much for the next few weeks, my friend."

I showed him how I had organized things and explained that he would be putting things back where they belong - especially these overpriced gaming systems that other kids would cut off their arm to own - or that I would be glad to remove them from his life. David wasn't very happy when he heard this, but I am hoping it's the little kick in the rump he needs to motivate him to take better care of what he has. I am hoping. A Mama can dream, right?

We'll see how that works. And if you'll excuse me, I've got to go make sure that the heat is turned up high enough for the dog in the garage.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The post I've been mulling over...

I've been stewing over something for the past few weeks and wanting so desperately to write about it but not finding the words to put it all together. I've always been writer. From an early age, I found a calm and peace inside by writing down my thoughts and allowing the pencil or pen to organize and settle my emotions. As a teenager, I wrote through most all my problems in notebooks and legal pads. Oh what I'd give to have them back - I threw them all away because of the insane jealousy and insecurity of my first husband while we were dating. I guess I should have tossed him out instead... I digress.

When I talk to people about what I write here, they are so amazed at my transparency. I guess the fact that I am fairly forthcoming and honest about my emotions is different. I don't know... that's just me. I do hide certain things about myself. I'm certainly not going to air my darkest secrets here or in casual conversation. I do have some sort of a filter. But, once I choose to share something, I just don't feel the need to be coy about it. Just say what you mean, and mean what you say. The past few weeks have been a struggle for me. There's been something going on that's way too personal. Way too painful and frightening to just blog about. I can't seem to even talk about it to the people I talk to all the time so freely about other things.

On a random weekday morning around 11:20, as I sat down to slap on some makeup and head back out to pick up a couple of gifts, the phone rang. It was my dad. I figured he was making his annual call to see if I knew any ideas for my mom for Christmas. I wish it had been that simple. He wanted to let me know that there were a couple of areas of concern in my mom's last scan - one spot on her spine which looked incredibly suspicious, and then some fluid in the left lung, the cause of which was uncertain. If a plane due to land at the Shelby County airport just a few short miles from my house had dropped from the sky and into my living room, I would have been no less shocked than when I heard those words come from his mouth. It's been nearly four years since she was cleared, and I guess as the time went on and on, I just assumed the odds got smaller and smaller that it would come back. Or, that's what I wanted to believe, at least.

I remember where I stood and what I was doing when my dad called me that November day in 2005 to tell me my mother had cancer. I was going about my daily duties, pulling wet clothes from the washer and hanging items in every available spot to dry in the air instead of the heat of the dryer. I think about it often as I do the same chore... what was said, my disbelief, how it changed everything. And here we are again.

It's hard to put into words how it feels when your mom has cancer. Especially when your mom has lived as pure a life as mine. She's never been a drinker or smoker or medicine taker. She's done it all right. She's kept her weight in check and stayed active enough to be considered healthy. It's not like cancer ever makes sense, but I could understand it a lot more if it were to happen to a chain-smoking, whiskey drinking brute. But my mom?

I used to think God was confusing, hard to wrap my mind around, and untouchable. But the older I get and the more I experience of this world, the more I realize that God is not confusing at all. He's the only thing that really makes any sense to me any more. He never changes. He never falters. He does all he says he'll do. It's this world and all it's contents that fail and cause confusion. This world we live in, with all it's sickness and heartache and disappointment, is the source of pain and confusion. And we are not promised an earthly understanding or reward, but rather one far greater than anything we could attempt to wrap our brains around here.

My mom's prognosis is great. She was so blessed to have a fairly miraculous chain of events that led her to a very early finding of the cancer's remnants in her body. She fought before. She will fight again, and hopefully this time around will not be as difficult for her. Her oncologist has said that the medicine needed this time is not nearly as toxic and its side effects will not be as severe. But it's still my mom. And I still would like to take it out of her and put it into me and deal with it for her. But that's impossible.

So I am left to try to find a way to deal with it all. To make sense of it in my mixed-up head. I came across a verse from my favorite Book of the Bible - Romans. I can't tell you how many times I've read it. I could read it over and over again and find something new every time. But this is what stood out to me last week:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (15:13)

Joy. Peace. Trust. Despite of the world's circumstances. Hope. Not just hope, but an overflow of hope. I don't know about anyone else, but the word overflow just delights me. It means more than enough. Too much to measure. It means that hope will spill out of me and spread itself around. I would love to ooze hope.

So, this is my plan for today. And the day after. And so on and so forth. I will trust that my God has my dear mother in His hand. And I will remember that our hope lies in more than just some doctor's treatment of a horrible disease. It lies beyond the confusion and disappointment of this world. It lies in Him.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Do we really have to make resolutions?

I don't really believe in resolutions. We all make them or have made them at certain points in our lives. But let's be honest... we don't stick to them. I'd much prefer to pick a point of focus for the coming months or maybe a few goals to strive toward. But in recent years, I'll do this a few times a year, not just in January.

So what's my focus this year? What's my goal? This year I'll focus on learning.

I want to get back to studying the Word of God. I do enjoy reading my Bible. And every time I read a book or chapter I've read before, it means something different or I find something new. I have only in the past few years fully appreciated the Bible. And I need to get back to the old me who longed to sit down and read a little from the inspired word and figure out exactly what God wants me to know... not my childhood concept of salvation or what my high school Bible teacher might have made me memorize for a test. What God says to me.

I also want to focus on learning what God might like for me to do in this world. I've spent the past eight years at home raising my kids. And now, I am thinking it just might be time to get back out there. To finish what I started so many years ago. I am thinking of going back to school.

When I, for lack of a better term, dropped out of college, I had absolutely no direction. After four years of being enrolled in college, I had absolutely no idea what I'd like to be or do with my life. I was in college because it was the thing to do - people always said I was smart and would be something some day, so what else is there to do as a smart young girl after high school but go to college. And change your major three times. And make mediocre grades in classes you should have nothing but A's in. And not apply yourself at all because you were more concerned about everything else besides school. I think I've made my point.

I was in school because I felt it was what I was supposed to do. I had no idea what I'd really like to be, but I just knew I was too smart not to go to school. Right? Now I'm thinking it was pretty stupid for me to waste my time with no goal, no direction, and no belief in myself.

Fast forward fifteen years from my first college class. I'm a mom of two. And I am hungry for a place outside this house. Not for selfish ambition, but rather to use the brain inside my head, my blessing of compassion and empathy, my people skills to help others and perhaps make a little money for the household as well. So, in the next couple of weeks, I'll be putting a call in to a local college and making an appointment to talk with someone to see just what it might take to get me back in forward motion with my college education.

I'm a little nervous about the whole thing. It's been a long time since I've been to college. And, when I went before, I was the age you are supposed to be to be there. Now, I'm a mom in my thirties. And it's been forever since I bought hot chocolate out of a vending machine and took notes in class. I can't even imagine taking notes again. Or studying for a test. Or taking a test. If I let myself flow down this stream of insecurity, I'd never go back. But my excitement about the possibility is far greater than my fear. To be able to go back... just to be able to go back and learn and finish what I started... well, it is the most exciting thought I've had in a long while.

This year. It has so many great possibilities. I know it has its burdens as well. But today, I'm just thinking of all I might learn in this new year. All that awaits.