Monday, August 26, 2013

Mama,

These little notes to you are few and far between, and I never know when I will feel the need to write one.  The funniest things set me off and make me wish I could just pick up the phone one more time to hear your voice, your sound reason, on the other end.

The kids are back in school.  I think I missed it more this year... the way you used to call and see how their first day went, talk to them over the line about it, how interested you were in every little detail of their life.  And mine.  No one else will ever be that interested, and it's missed so much right now.  So very much.  I miss my Mama.

I often think about how selfish the emotion of grief really is, how it is so intrinsically focused on what I miss about you.  But then I realize that what I miss is all about you, and so that relieves me of the notion that missing you is a selfish act.

There are so many things I would like to talk to you about.  This Bible study I am doing.  Madalyn's new red cowgirl boots.  David being in middle school.  That I am about to paint that old dresser you let me borrow when I got married... the one I never gave back.  Just general stuff of life that we used to toss around in casual conversation, ones I took for granted.  That's just it, too; missing you makes me realize just how much of you I took for granted without being aware.

I guess we are all moving along nicely.  Life goes on.  Kids grow up.  New patterns, new habits, are established.  But the grief remains.  It's not as deep as it once was, not as sharp.  But it's there.  And it bubbles up inside me unexpectedly.

I know it's nice where you are.  And I know I will see you one day.  But I sure am wishing the space in between didn't have to hurt so much.

Until then ~ Your Daughter

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to school...


I bid the kids farewell this morning bright and early.  Back to school.  It's a fresh season of learning, and I hope there may be some in store for this old mama, too.

I think I set as many goals in the fall as I do in the actual new year.  Summer becomes a blurry mess of disorganization and nothingness, and I long for the structure of a new school year as much as the quiet time it gives me.  I have more time to think and read, more time to collect myself, than when the rowdy kids are here.

I definitely have a long list of things I want to accomplish this fall.  Having been in our house nearly ten years, it's time to do some basic things.  All the interior trim and doors need painting.  That should keep me busy enough.  But add in David's room, the downstairs, and the kids' bathroom, and that means I will have a paint brush in my hand for most of the school year.  I will hire someone to do the living room, stair well, and master bath as the vaulted ceilings are just a little too much for me, but I am not a fan of hiring someone to do what I am able to do myself.  Especially inside my house.

It's more than home improvement I want to focus on, however.  A few weeks ago, I woke up with Lillie on my mind.  Lillie, the main character in the novel I started three years ago.  She's been sleeping since my mother passed away, but I think it's time to wake her up and work on her again.  I know it is.  I can look at her story through a different set of eyes now, one I had no idea I would have when I wrote  her history down on paper.  You see, her father was killed when she was in her late teens, and now I know what it feels like to lose a parent.  I've been brainstorming about her for past few weeks, even editing the first few pages.  I have grown and changed as a person since the last time I sat down with her character, and it's time to infuse that into her story line.  I am excited to see how it all comes together.

And I have another little project in the works.  I have had a desire to write something specific for families caring for a loved one who is terminally ill.  A compilation of little nuggets of hope that would be easy to read and full of the peace and hope only found in the Lord.  So much of it has already been written here, but it's an arduous process of going back through my posts, editing them into a different style, and then putting it in a format I could either self-publish or submit to a publisher.  I think I have an idea the direction in which I want to go, but sometimes (well, most of the time) things don't fall into place as we plan.

I am feeling better, more settled, as of late.  I have been working through an amazing study entitled Named by God by Kasey Van Norman.  Some of her focus has been on things I already knew or realized, but she presents it in a really different way.  I am growing again.  And it feels nice.  Truth is, I can either move or sit still.  Literally and figuratively and spiritually.  This study is opening me up to some truths about me I didn't really understand.  That maybe I have worked through some of the obvious resentments and bitterness in my life, but one big one remains, the one I built up against the "body" of Christ.

I've talked some here about my experience as a minister's daughter, one in which I saw the not-so-nice side of the church.  What I am learning is that I have taken that experience and built a wall.  It's thick and high and difficult to break through.  I am learning that, at an early age, I created a complicated equation for evaluating who was worthy of trust.  To be honest, it's a crazy equation that simply doesn't work.  And I am at a time in my life where I have to learn to open myself up to other Christians, or I won't move forward.

So many things have been swirling around in my adult ADD mind.  And I always come back to my most favorite Scripture, one that means so much to me now:

May the God of hope fill ME with all joy and peace as I trust in him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  {Romans 15:13, emphasis added by me}

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Middle School...

We all have the one anxiety dream, the one that continues to plague us throughout our nights when we should be resting soundly.  Mine involves my high school locker.  I've either forgotten my combination or I can't get it to work or I can't find my locker or my books aren't there when I do finally get it open.  Why on earth the locker has become the staple of my anxiety based dream, I will never know, but it's all mine.

Yesterday was registration day for David's 7th grade year.  We had already filled out all the forms, so we only had to drop off copies of our bills proving our address and pick up his schedule.  Once that was complete, we found his locker.  Just looking at the little slip of paper with the combination and directions for using brought up that feeling of anxiety in my chest.  But I talked him through it, and he got it on his first try.  And then he practiced it several times until he felt more comfortable.  And then we walked through the halls and located all his classrooms, visiting with familiar faces all along the way.

In those big halls full of kids in varying stages of adolescence, I couldn't help but look at my child and feel he just looked to young to be there.  Too young to be 7th grade.  Too young to walk past a group of 8th grade football players wearing their jerseys as they walk the halls, already pronouncing their dominance before the first day of school.  Too young to be getting certain looks from young ladies as we walked past them and they said hello to him.

It's all going by so fast.

I think back to the day I tried something I had seen on television.  David was an infant, and he was a crier.  He cried for the bulk of his first several months of life, and I was at my wits end.  So I propped the vacuum cleaner up on its side in the floor of his nursery and turned it on.  His crying went silent, and I fled the room for a little reprieve.  I felt so trapped back then by his dependence on me, by his needing me for every single thing.  I felt so trapped by my inadequacy when I couldn't make his crying stop.  I felt so overwhelmed by this little life that was all under my control.  What I couldn't see was how easy it really was back then, how easily I could protect him from the world even if I didn't know how to stop his cries.

Oh how I wish I could put him in a crib and flip the vacuum cleaner on again, drowning out the noise of this crazy world of middle school he's about to step foot into.

Dear Lord... thank you for my David.  Thank you for his wit and sense of humor and laughter we share.  Thank you for his caring heart.  Thank you for the areas in which he is challenged as this is where You will help him grow.  Protect him, Lord.  Give him a sense of Your presence even when he doesn't realize what it is.  Give him peace about a new year, a new school.  Be that Voice inside his head helping him to make good choices.  Give me strength as his mom to love him through it all and not to fret too much.  Amen...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making uncomfortable comfortable...

Grief makes people uncomfortable.

Well isn't that just the understatement of the century?

But it is the truth.  Grief, whether it be your own or belonging to someone else, makes one uncomfortable in such an intangible way.  When my mother died, I didn't really know how I felt exactly, but I knew that what was going on inside of me made me feel uncomfortable and out of place everywhere I went.  Everywhere.  The only place I felt at peace was in my own home.  And I would imagine that there are a lot of grieving people, like my father perhaps, that don't even have that luxury.  For him, home is the place where the bulk of memories of the lost loved one can be found.

Just last week, I encountered a situation in which I was around a mother in the very, very early stages of grief, having just loss her thirteen month old baby girl.  When she walked into the room, I immediately felt that same uncomfortable feeling I had in the months after my mother's death.  I had no expectation to feel this way as this is a woman I barely even know, but it hit me hard, and I wanted to run.  But I knew I was right where I needed to be, that God had brought this moment into my life to help and teach me.  I had a little talk with myself, "It's not about my feelings.  This is about her loss.  The best thing I can do for her in this moment is hug her and tell her I am praying for her."  And that is exactly what I did.

Because, I feel - don't know for a fact, don't have any Scriptural proof, but believe because I have experienced it in a real way several times in my life - that in these moments with others we may not even know on a very intimate level, that our souls connect.  Her soul, in that one hug, could feel that I hurt for her, that I understood grief in a real way in my heart, that I had compassion for her.  Perhaps you may think I am crazy or being dramatic or misguided in my feelings, but I still believe it to be true.  If the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and relates our prayers to the Lord (Romans 8:26), then why would He stop short of helping us to communicate in a similar way to others?

Truth is, there are moments when no words are needed or there are simply no appropriate words to offer.  What should I say to a mother who has lost her baby girl in the physical world?  What can I say?  There are no words powerful enough to take her pain away, none soothing enough to wipe away her grief.  But I know, through the experience of losing my Mama that all one needs to do is offer a genuine hug and the promise of prayer.  Those two things, those very simple things, mean so much more to a hurting heart than a sound bite about your loved one being better off.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that grief makes us all uncomfortable.  It forces us to ponder our own mortality, our beliefs, our faith.  But why do we as humans want to be comfortable all the time?  Grief is a part of life.  It falls into the not-so-pretty category, but it is still a part of life.

Scott and I were watching a documentary on war in which the soldiers were the commentators and the footage was filmed by the combat crew.  One of the soldiers made a point that stuck with me.  He said (and this is my very loose paraphrase), "When the shots start firing, your first inclination is to stop.  But that's what the enemy wants you to do so they can ambush you."  What I take from his recount of a war situation is that when we are confronted with an uncomfortable situation, such as being in the presence of someone deep in the throes of grief, we should fight through that fear of feeling uneasy, of saying the wrong thing, of appearing too vulnerable.  We should think more of the other person than of our self.  We should use that opportunity to do what Christ would do.