Saturday, October 30, 2010
But it's not in the super freaky way that the majority of this state does it.
When Troy and I candidated at our church three years ago it was the beginning of October. The Utah Halloween craze was just starting to gear up and Troy and I had never seen in anything like it before. Southern California, Oregon, Minnesota and Texas (all place that The Husband has lived) do not do Halloween like this.
We didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into.
A few weeks ago I nearly crashed my car as I drove past a house. The door was made to look as though it was covered in blood. "Keep Out" it warned in dripping letters and went on with more wording that even my double take couldn't decipher. The disgusting and irreverent similarity to Passover wasn't lost on me.
Our kids dress up. They go trick-or-treating. For me, it's like they get to pretend to be in a play where all the world is their stage and the audience throws candy at them. In my opinion, that would be, maybe, the best kind of play albeit a little distracting. This is The Rock Star's 5th Halloween and he's never really been subjected to anything horrible. We've focused more on the bounty of harvest and the joys of wearing a costume--a clean costume--and acquiring candy.
Today I stopped by a costume shop, in search of a belly that could serve as the baby Jesus in our Christmas play. With kids in tow I entered. I had in mind to get in and get out since, upon stepping foot inside I saw witches and giant lab rats in cages and these are not things I particularly want my children experiencing. The hired help was rather vague on where I would find the desired item so I went searching. In the middle of the shop we stumbled upon the sickest sight. All over was a congregation of what can only be described as demon babies. Life sized tiny humans with red eyes and blood dripping from their mouths. One of them was angrily gnawing on an adult sized hand. One was proudly displaying blood soaked fangs. Another had two heads, a blue eyed sweet looking head and an evil demonic head.
The Little Buddy freaked out and started burying his head in my shoulder and clinging to me like a baby ape. The Rock Star started whimpering and then threw his arms around my leg and shoved his head into the side of my jeans. "Pick me up!" He begged. "Those babies are really scary. I don't like them. Why is that one eating a hand? And...why does that one have two heads?"
"Because this place is disgusting," I answered. "Don't look at them. Come on." He turned his head away from the terrifying babies and into the face of an evil clown. "AHHH!" He screamed and then buried his head again.
I've been in my fair share of Halloween costume shops. It's the best time to get costumes for Christmas plays. I've never seen anything like this. I'm an adult and it turned my stomach inside out. Just thinking about the fact that I subjected my tiny little humans to such twisted Halloween garbage makes me sick.
So if you want to know if we do the Halloween thing, well, yeah. We dress up. We eat candy. We go to a Harvest Party. We do not cover our yard with grave stones, our door with blood and our house with demonic babies. We celebrate a time of harvest. We do not share in the disgusting.
Friday, October 29, 2010
But this kid...
This kid is the tenderhearted one. There's more faith wrapped up in that four-year-old body than I had at fourteen. When we're having a difficult moment--which we have, often--I ask, "Do you want to be a righteous man or do you want to disappoint Jesus?" See, disappointing his mudder is hardly cause for concern but disappointing Jesus, well, that's another thing entirely.
"I want to be a righteous man." He sighs.
Lately, he's been asking me a lot of questions about guns. "Why do people have guns?" For protection. "Why do bad guys have guns?" Because they're naughty. "If a gun shoots us are we dead?" Depends. "Depends on what?" Depends on where the bullet gets us. "What if a gun shoots us in the head?" Yeah. Then there's a good chance we're going to die. "How 'bout the leg?" You'd probably survive that. Especially if you got to a doctor really fast. What about in the body? Well, that depends on where the bullet goes in and what vital organs it hits. "What's a vital organ?" Our organs are the really important pieces of our insides. "What about our heart?" Yeah. Our hearts are organs. "No. Mommy, what if our heart gets shooted?" Oh. We'd die. "No. Because Jesus is in my heart!" Oh boy. "What?" Nothing. That was supposed to be under my breath. You weren't supposed to hear that. Um...yes...Jesus is in our hearts. But when we say that we mean it kind of more like He is in our soul or our spirit and we love Him a lot. He doesn't actually live in the organ. "Dad's dad lives in Oregon." Yes, Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe live in Oregon. But that's an entirely different kind of Oregon and if you pronounce it like a vital organ people laugh at you. "Oh." Are we done talking about guns, then? "For now."
Dude takes his pumpkin carving very seriously. Last year he asked for a monkey so daddy, who has more artistic talent in his pinky finger than mudder has in her whole body, carved him a monkey. This year...
Garrett decided to be a Ninjit (his word) Turtle. Much to my brother's--who grew up during the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze--chagrin they only had Raphael.
(The Little Buddy, by the way, is a giraffe. In the event that, you know, you couldn't tell from the picture. He fell in love with the costume and wouldn't stop hugging it. When I put it on him, he's seriously three times his normal size and it's all stuffing and fluff and I want to cuddle him for all eternity.)
1 Samuel 1:27 -- I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
We're working on the words, Dude. Would it be too much to ask that you work just a little harder? Because, seriously, I'm growing weary of the shrieking and pointing and frantic babbling that turns into sobbing when I cannot, simply cannot, understand what it is you want. You did wander over to me and say, "Han!" When I questioned, What? Do you want my hand? and held it out, you took it and pulled yourself up onto the couch sporting a grin laced with pride. But I can't get you to do it again. Last night you screamed at me and wiggled your cup. When I said, more juice? you smiled and said, "Ju!" Understand, I'll take ju over ahahahhhhhhh any day of the week.
You're going to be a dental podiatrist. Really. For serious. You are obsessed with your toothbrush and your shoes. You'd sleep with both if I'd let you. At least eight times a day you sit in my lap, grunt, and kick your feet around until I put shoes on you. Heaven help you if they fall off. You sob like your world abruptly turned upside down and all the polar bears in the Arctic tumbled off into space. And anytime--any ole time--that you see anyone brushing teeth you run to the other bathroom to get your toothbrush. If you can't find it immediately you run through the house angrily howling, "Tee! Tee! Tee!" and frantically pointing to your own pearly whites. I'm thinking about instituting a specific teeth brushing time. Kind of like an Islamic call to prayer. We'll all just stop what we're doing, head to the bathroom and brush our teeth. See, when we each do it at various times during the morning, you feel the need to brush yours each and every time. Is there such a thing as brushing your teeth too much? I wonder?
You're also kind of obsessed with showing everyone that you know where your head is. If anyone is just having a normal conversation and the word "head" comes up, you start pounding yours. So, today I had a headache. You start patting your head. I couldn't get Garrett's shirt over his big head. You start patting yours. Can you hand me the Phillips-head screwdriver? You start--well, I think you get the general idea. It's beginning to look like a weird tick. Now if I could just get you to rub your stomach with your opposite hand I feel like we'd be on to something.
Last Christmas we bought a season pass to the ice skating rink. We usually just take the umbrella stroller and you ride around on the ice kicking your legs and grinning from ear to ear. Until now. Your chubby little feet are now big enough to fit in the smallest size skate they have and, while you're impossibly unable to remain upright without extreme parental help, you sure are proud of yourself. And it sure is one of the cutest things I've ever seen in my entire life.
I gotta tell ya, I'm a little sad that my baby appears to have been replaced by this full on boy--this boy who wants to be a big boy so bad. But I'm looking so forward to...language skills, for one. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the day when you can tell me why you have such a personal vendetta against your high chair. Until then, well, I'll keep cuddling my toddler and I'll keep taking han and ju when I can get them.
I love you.
Mama (which, thankfully, is a word you do say. Often.)
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
So this morning Wanda dove into the 4th chapter of Esther with wild abandon. A few things she said seemed to thwack me over the head. "One of the most important parts of fulfilling our destiny will be transparency."
But transparent is a very difficult thing for a pastor's wife to be. Transparency is not something we can just cloak ourselves with as we walk around being totally honest to each and every member of our congregation. It's part of the reason I've developed the idea that I should not, would not, could not cry in front of them. Because if I do, I have to explain why. And if I explain why there is going to be a lot of ministry stuff lying at their feet.
What I can say is that I am dealing with an issue in ministry right now that has me deeply grieved. I don't know how better to explain it than to call it grief. It sneaks up on me when I'm plugging along in my day and the sudden lump in my throat brings tears or I suddenly feel like my lungs aren't getting enough oxygen. I cannot really expand beyond that.
But what's important at this very moment, beyond the disappointment, beyond the sorrow and the grief, is that God has already used this pain in mighty ways. He's allowed me a small degree of transparency. And in that visibility He has ministered to me through friends. Good friends. They've offered insight and love. They've offered support. They've validated what we do here. And it isn't that I need validation for a ministry that the Lord led us to. But sometimes a kind word and a partnering in that very ministry is gloriously uplifting. Sometimes a reminder that some really, really good things are happening is absolutely what a pastor's wife needs to hear.
What WandaBeth also said was, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this." And alright, so it wasn't her that said it, originally. It was Mordecai in the 14th verse of the 4th chapter of Esther. I know this is hardly a royal position. But this position in general, well, I'm supposed to be in it. For such a time as this.
This isn't my favorite version of the song but...well...the words sum of my own, personal, mission statement.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
We're to that point in our relationship. The point where I use my theatre degree by reading chapter books to my son complete with character voices. I selected Charlotte's Web on account of the fact that--to a little boy--it's about spiders and pigs and rats and--to a grown woman--it's about friendship and everyday miracles and the circle of life.
I was a little hesitant. I know what comes at the end of the book. I know that Charlotte, the spider we all adore, dies alone at the fairgrounds. I wasn't sure how my four-year-old would handle that piece of information. Well, Charlotte died. The lump in my throat was so enormous I could barely continue. And I'd read it before. And I knew when I started reading it this time that Charlotte A. Cavatica would die. But my boy, he survived. With nothing more than a, "But Wilburt's okay right?" For three weeks we'd read a chapter every night of Charlotte's Web and for three weeks my son referred to the beloved story as The Wilburt Book.
"Wilbur's fine," I assured him. "And he's carrying Charlotte's babies back to the barn in his mouth." As long as "Wilburt" and the egg sac were alright, Garrett was fine. The next night we read the final chapter. Charlotte's babies were born. Most of them floated away. Three of them chose to stay and make their home in the barn. I read the final paragraph. "...It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
I closed the book, the one that is at least two decades old and has my maiden name written on the inside cover. I kissed my son's head and told him goodnight. "Wait!" He cried a full 24 hours after Charlotte had actually died. "What about the mom?"
"What do you mean?"
"The babies' mom?" His voice shook as his eyes filled with tears.
"Charlotte? Honey, Charlotte died. Remember? She died at the fairgrounds and Wilbur took the egg sac home?"
With lower lip quivering Garrett whispered quietly, "Why would she leave her babies? They need her. Doesn't she love them?"
It was a teachable moment on so many levels. I explained, scientifically, that spiders and bugs don't really need mommies. I told him that they can take care of themselves. Of course she loves them, I supplied, but we don't get to choose when we die. And then I decided to use Charlotte's death to have another discussion.
"Garrett," I smoothed the hair on his sweet head. "If mommy or daddy died it wouldn't mean that we don't love you. We love you so so much. If we died, God would want us up in Heaven with Him. I know you would be sad but we would be in such a special place and you would know that you'd get to see us again when you got there."
"Mom, I would visit you a lot if that happened."
"Honey, you can't just visit Heaven. The only way you can get there is by Jesus calling you home," I tried to explain.
"Well," he paused, "If you died, I would miss you so much that I would build the biggest ladder and I would climb up to you."
I left it at that.
It wasn't that I wanted him to think he could climb a ladder to Heaven. It was just that I couldn't speak. Holding my four-year-old and kissing his chubby cheek and picturing him trying to construct Jacob's ladder, well, to have spoken would have been to listen as my voice shattered into a thousand pieces. To have spoken would have been to ruin the heartbreaking sweetness of the moment.
Monday, October 25, 2010
It is what it is. There's no way around it. It's difficult. Feelings of inadequacy abound. What ifs and coulda woulda shouldas run around my brain like Olympic athletes. And always, always, I focus on the one negative instead of the 99 positives.
Always I wish I had more life experience to help me love and serve our congregation.
Always, always, it's personal.
Today, as I studied and prayed and drew near to the Lord I found myself in tears praying for the ones we've lost--those who haven't felt we've done our job, for one reason or another. And I cried out, "It's hard to be 29!"
No sooner had the words left my mouth that I knew it wouldn't matter if I was 45 or 62 or 91, ministry will always be difficult. I will never be enough. I am just a little girl who accepted the Lord as her personal Savior, grew up, and asked Him what He wanted her to do with her life. And always he says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
The failures and the shortcomings are hard. And there are many. And I take them all very, very personally. But whether you are effected by our ministry or not, I need you to know that I'm trying. I need you to know that there is nothing more important to me--nothing in all this world--than ministering and shepherding and loving the sheep that have been entrusted to me. I need you to know that I'm learning to be a woman of God.
The Lord is doing some amazing things in our church. I rejoice and praise Him for growing ministries and lives being changed. When I think on these things, I feel joyful. But I need you to know that, though this parable is more about soul's perishing and not really anything about failing someone, it rings true for me in my current position. "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matt. 18:12-14)
And if he does not find it?
There is sorrow. Even in the middle of all the joy. Even when so many good things are happening. I need you to know that.
Ministry is hard.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Not by a long shot.
That doesn't mean I'm not supposed to evangelize. It just means that every opportunity to talk to someone about my Lord feels
I don't question the Lord on this one. We all need a clipboard from time to time. We all need planners. I'm happy to serve in such a capacity. But it's not one of the really cool ones. It's hardly mercy. It doesn't hold a candle to Evangelism!
I'm not going to go labeling my son at the tender age of four. For all I know he has the gift of hospitality--what with the way he invites everyone in our neighborhood over and offers them pretzels, popsicles, six course dinners. But the other day, the door was open as he played in the yard with a little girl from across the street. I couldn't hear their entire conversation but I heard enough.
When he came in, moments later, for dinner, I asked him, "Garrett, were you telling her about Jesus?"
"Yes," He replied. "I wanted to make sure she knew about Him."
I think my pride was actually sinful which probably was not exactly what God was going for. "Well, does she?"
He smiled, "Yeah. She knows who He is. And she has a Bible book, too! I made sure."
My heart felt about thirty-two times bigger than it's supposed to be. My boy, on his own, wanted to make sure his friend knew about his Jesus. If he grows up and discovers he has the spiritual gift of ad-min-ih-stray-shun I'll be just as proud of him--all I truly care about is that my boys love the Lord and love Him deeply. But, if he grows up an unashamedly evangelizes (exclamation point), well, wouldn't that just be icing on the cake.
And y'all know I love me some cake.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Me: Well. Someone from India or another word for a Native American.
G: (pause) Huh?
Me: A type of person.
G: Do they use arrows?
Me: Some of them used to.
G: Okay. I want to be an Indian when I grow up.
Me: (laughing) You can't be an Indian when you grow up. You're already a European mutt.
G: Please can I be an Indian when I grow up?
Me: We'll see...
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Once upon a time, six months ago, Matthew's contested adoption was settled. It seemed surreal and it's only on looking back that I realize how deep my denial ran, how difficult it was to believe that the battle was over. Being that everything on the California end was settled, we called our attorney here in Utah--the one who hadn't done much in the 13+ months that our case sat in the California court system--and asked him to start the ball rolling for our Utah adoption. We never could have dreamed that it would have rolled so quickly.
On our way home from the west coast we celebrated by taking the boys to Excalibur. We ate at the buffet for dinner, played games--both boys brought home a new stuffed animal--and we ate McDonald's for breakfast in our hotel room.
Of course, none of that held a candle to the air conditioning unit. At least where Matthew was concerned.
We went before a judge, in his chambers, and he asked us several questions. Will you love this child as your own? Yes. Do you understand that this child will receive full rights and be considered your heir? Yes. Will you strive to meet his each and every need? Yes. Are you 100% sure you want to adopt this child. More sure than you could ever, ever, begin to imagine.
And then the judge legally joined Matthew to our family.
Six months ago today we posed for this photo. Six months ago Garrett walked around beaming because he was no longer afraid of losing his brother. Six months ago, our little family celebrated at The Olive Garden. Six months ago, I was still in denial.
I'd spoken to our attorney in California. I'd asked him if it was finished. Was it really, truly, over or could something happen to make it not over? He told me that nearly every mom was like this. Nearly every mom held her breath. Nearly every mom had held so tight to the fight that when it was over she couldn't believe it. Nearly every mom swam around in the limbo of denial.
But as spring turned to summer I crept out. Slowly. A glimpse at my sons playing together would pull me a bit. A tired toddler climbing up onto my lap and whining, "Mama," would tug me further. Finally, I wasn't afraid. Finally, I felt the grip on my lungs release.
A month ago Matthew's birth certificate came in the mail.
A few weeks ago I received a message from Matthew's father. "My son got a beautiful mother...and I'm talkin about u."
A few nights ago Matthew fell asleep cuddled into me. He sighed and snuggled and I kissed his head. "Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still, miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn't grow under my heart, but in it."
Six months ago.
It seems but a fleeting moment...
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Little Buddy, that is.
We spend the morning getting ready to go somewhere. When it's exactly time to leave I say, "Let's go bye-bye!"
He replies, "Bye-bye!" And then he promptly deposits a mess into his diaper.
Thus making us late.
Why can't he do it fifteen minutes before we have to leave?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Helen Keller said, "It is that my friends have made the story of my life..." Not so, for me. Not so. For me, it is that my God has made the story of my life. My friends, well, they have been blessed gifts from Him. Some have come for a short while and others have endured over time. Some I have had the privilege of encouraging. Others I have had the delight of being encouraged by. And the rare few have been a wonderful balance of both.
One has come into my life very recently and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was sent by the Lord. Sent for encouragement. Sent for instruction. Sent for conviction. Sent to remind me of what it looks like to be bubbling over in excitement for the Word. Sent for friendship. Sent to be an example of how service is important but it isn't the one thing.
When I was a Junior in high school, a class of mine was asked what we thought about the after life. Did we believe there was one? Did we think, perchance, there wasn't? It should come as no surprise that I spoke up. "If there is no life after death," I began, "then life has no point." I stand by that statement today. If I am simply here to live and work and experience pain and suffering and grief and trials of many kinds then what a terribly miserable existence. But if I am here to learn how to be there, if I am only passing through, if this is just a vague beginning to something so much bigger, then life has a thick and exceedingly phenomenal purpose.
It should be my deepest desire to soak up as much as I can, to learn everything I can grasp about where I'm headed, to dwell in the Lord here so that I can relish in His presence there. Truly, it is all that matters.
I hadn't forgotten.
Not by a long shot.
But seeing it all being lived out in such an inspiring way and, perhaps, being used as encouragement in return, is a much needed gift. Especially when the going gets tough. "If one falls down, his friend can help him up." God bless friends.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Until last night.
We were at a potluck missions dinner and my friend, Christy, took the miserably upset toddler. He went right to her and she had him for most of the night. He was perfectly content. He was happy. Every once in awhile he'd glance over at me and think about dissolving into tears until I took him. But he didn't! Instead, he'd just go right back to eating off of Christy's plate. I got to eat without him screaming at me about everything that was wrong in his world. It was two hours of bliss.
This led me to declare that she is going to become our sister wife. As soon as possible.
I just have to convince my husband, her husband and, well, her, that this is a good idea.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
G: I'm autumn!
G: I'm autumn!
Me: What do you mean your otter? Because I thought that's what he was saying.
G: No! I'm AUTUMN!
Me: Um. Okay. I still don't get it.
G: Autumn is the same thing as fall. I'm falling into the bathtub so I'm autumn.
It was obnoxious. It was dorky. It was adorable. And, I know I'm his mom and all but, it was smart.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Rock Star used to be terrified of roosters. And wolves. And especially the idea of roosters and wolves in the same room as him. We tried explaining to him that if there were both roosters and wolves in his room, pretty soon there would be only wolves but this was hardly a comfort.
Why my boys decided to develop irrational fears of poultry and flies is beyond me. I'm just glad we don't live on a farm where both would be abundant.
So here's my question: what strange or irrational things have you or your children been afraid of? Let's all have a good laugh. Because if I can't start laughing about Matthew's fear of flies I'm going to tear my hair out.
What? It's been a bad fly season.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Today is one of those days.
Today I say, "God, what were you thinking? You knew I was completely ill prepared to handle the shenanigans these two would pull and you gave them to me anyway. I think you grossly overestimated my ability to parent."
I trudged through the grocery store, pulling the cart behind me, shuffling through ads so that I could get great glee out of making Walmart price match, pulling coupons out of my folder, telling The Rock Star to please stop climbing in and then back out of the cart, all the while listening to the The Little Buddy's whimpers turning into crying turning into wails that would probably annoy even the dead.
I needed to spend some quality time with the baking aisle on account of the fact that I had some pretty awesome price matching to do there. So, while the baking aisle and I winked at each other and I waited for it to propose, all the while promising that if we got married I wouldn't let my youngest son ruin our fun, I realized that another situation was brewing. Had brewed.
The Rock Star, who had previously been on his knees salivating over a box of cake mix, was now licking the picture. In the event that you missed what I just said, MY FOUR-YEAR-OLD WAS ON HIS KNEES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BAKING AISLE LICKING A BOX OF CAKE MIX! So I fought the urge to pass out. I fought the urge to leave him there, as a permanent product of Walmart. I fought the urge to yank him up by one arm, throw him (with super human power) into the cart, and high tail it outta there. What I said, loudly, over the wails of his angry brother, was, "Oh. My. Golly. Were you born in a barn?" Where this came from I have no idea because I don't know of any barnyard animals that lick Pillsbury boxes.
"Yes!" He squealed. "I was born in a barn!" Because, seriously, apparently I'd forgotten to pray to the patron saint of grocery shopping* before we'd left.
"No. You weren't. I was there. It was a sterile birthing environment."
So. I mistakenly thought that by asking if he'd been born in a barn he would realize that his behavior was imitating that of a pig or a cow or giant gray spider that writes things in her web. Apparently four-year-olds don't follow barnyard innuendo because, moments later, I found him doing the same thing with a box of brownie mix.
Then he was darting back and forth showing me bags of sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and exclaiming that it was all, "Mmm-Mmm-Good!" and asking if I needed it. It was seriously as though he inhaled a sugar fix just by looking at it. It was ridiculous. And all the while Matthew continued to shriek.
A sample of white chicken chili and crackers momentarily paused the fit throwing toddler and seemed to counteract the imaginary sugar my preschooler had just consumed. Praise God for the sample lady! He may have overestimated my ability to be a mom--at least where grocery stores are concerned--but at least He places miraculous sample ladies in my path.
In the produce aisle, Garrett kept putting vegetables in the cart and Matthew resumed his screaming and tears began to flow freely down his face. People around me gave me looks that said, Pick up your son, you terrible mother. But they don't know my son. They don't know that he's the most emotional toddler I have ever encountered. They don't know that it was a battle of the wills and of course he wanted out so that he could help his brother throw unwanted produce into the cart. But as humiliating as it all was, as desperate as I was to get out of the there, rewarding his severe tantrum was not about to happen. A woman finally said, "Oh, poor baby. What's wrong? You are so upset. Tell your mommy that you're upset."
Wait. What? Was she serious? I smiled (that fake smile you flash when someone just said something so overly ridiculous you can barely handle it) and replied, "Yeah. I, uh, I know. He's over the store."
The checkout line was a disaster. Screaming. And The Rock Star asking for every little toy they place there just to drive moms completely over the edge of sanity. And then, when I told him to put it on his Christmas list, he started crying, "I'm afraid Santa won't know what it is."
"Stop crying, now!" And, to his credit, he did. And he stood patiently next to the cart. Then, to the relief of every single person in Walmart, we left. Of course (of course!) The Little Buddy stopped crying the second the cart started moving again.
I loaded everything--and everyone--into the car and contemplated taking a little nap on the ground in the parking lot. In fetal position. With my thumb in my mouth. But I didn't. Wonder why God trusted these two little men to my care? Yes. Oh. Yes.
Later, The Rock Star crawled into my lap and threw his arms around my neck. He peered into my eyes and said, "Mommy? How does God makes eyes?" I told him that God takes the eye and just POPS it into our face. That answer seemed to satisfy him but as I stared deeply into his eyes I thought about it. I thought about all that weaving and designing. I thought about how a baby goes from being a clump of cells to having eyeballs--that work. I thought about how God creates. I thought about how He knew that these two boys would be entrusted to me. The Wailer and The Barnyard Animal. It's no mistake that they're here with me. Before there was time, He knew they would be mine.
*Disclaimer: I'm an evangelical Christian and don't pray to the patron saint of anything. I only believe in praying to God. But if there is a patron saint of grocery shopping...I might need to be put in touch with her.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
"Mommy? Is this me when I was a baby?"
"No." I answered.
Something you should know about my son. It doesn't matter how old a baby is. It doesn't matter if it's a girl child or a boy child. It doesn't make a single bit of difference if the baby is Caucasian, African-American, Asian. It probably wouldn't matter if the baby was a martian. He always thinks it's him.
"Who is it?" He questioned.
"That's Karsie," I replied.
He looked, quizzically, at the photo in question, narrowed his eyes and tilted his head to one side. Puzzled, he replied, "She grew up?"
Yes, love, she grew up. If by growing up you mean turned one and is now on her way to 15 months.
"Yes," I answered.
"How old is she now?" He questioned.
I supplied, "She's one." Because you try explaining to a four-year-old how very important those one month milestones are for the mother of a child between the ages of zero and two.
"That's the same number Matthew is!"
"Yeah. Matthew's a little older than Karsie. But not a lot."
"I love her, Mom." He interjected. And I swear I had a flash forward to his teenage years when he'll fall in love with someone named Sophie or Emily or Addison and I won't approve because she'll wear her shorts too short and her shirts too low and he'll scream, "But I love her, Mom!" and two weeks later he'll be heartbroken because Sophie or Emily or Addison will have broken up with him to date his best friend, Caden or Jaden or Braden. These. These are the things I worry about.
"I know you love her, Garrett. She's a pretty special little girl."
"I wish we lived in California so I could see her all the time." Seriously. It's like he really loves her. "I miss her."
"What's so special about her, Dude?" Because I was honestly starting to think I was going to have to call Michelle up on the phone and arrange for her to pick my son up from the airport on account of the fact that he'd rather live with Karsie than with his mother.
"Well. The thing is. She was in the hospital. And there were all those cords all over her. And we prayed so much so she's really special. And I love her."
There you have it.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
But let me back up. Some of you may remember that back in June I was trying to make a decision. The truth of it is that The Husband and I just didn't know what God's plan was for our family. We weren't sure if we were supposed to try to have more children or call it at two. Or, well, that is to say that I wasn't sure. Adoption, in the future, is not beyond the realm of possibility but at the moment, for reasons I won't go into now, it's not an option. We always said, from the time we first started to talk about kids, that our family would be complete by the time Troy turned 40. And though we've spent considerable time in prayer and in Scripture, we haven't come to any new revelation that we were mistaken in our original decision.
So we had three months to conceive. To try. To not prevent. What have you. That way a potential little tiny human could sneak in just before Troy's birthday. I struggled. I fought mightily to decide what to do. Give these three months a chance or declare our family finished. In the end, after prayerful consideration, I decided that the only sure way to let God be in control of the decision was to throw caution to the wind and see what happened. But I was very afraid of where that would leave me come the autumn and very concerned about my state of mind if (read: when) nothing happened.
Like I've said, "I'm always going to be that infertile girl." Defined by it. Recovering from it. Relapsed into it. "Infertility" defined as a disease. A mental illness, more than anything. Something that eats away at your sanity like a parasitic worm. You tell yourself, "Not this time." This time I won't be affected. Infected. This time I don't even know what I want--and truly you don't. Still you count the days that go by and the momentarily queasy stomach gives you so much more pause than it should. And you pretend your chest is sore for a reason so much bigger than your impending monthly visitor. And even while you promised yourself that you wouldn't do this you knew you would because, even though you not only know God is in control, you want Him to be, you still just want to be normal for an hour or two--just long enough to create. Just long enough to say, "Whoa! I didn't think that was gonna happen!" You look at the months gone by and think them unfair even when you know, realize and confess how lucky and how blessed you truly are. Because infertility is a disease...and a drug. A catalyst for sin where there shouldn't be any. Because God is in control which is right where you want Him to be. You just wish you could kick the habit, kill the disease and move on. But for some reason you just keep going back there. You keep walking the streets looking for your dealer. You comb the sidewalk, in search of hope. You wish that you could just stop wishing.
Three months came and went. Somewhere in the middle of it all I realized that we'd tried to conceive a child for 39 months of our life together. I'd spent more than three years of our marriage eagerly waiting for the chance to whiz on a stick, waiting for signs, reeling in disappointment when an answer came. I know some people who I honestly think would have 39 children if they'd spent that amount of time trying to get pregnant. We have our one miracle son to show for those months. And in his smiling face all of my senses scream that God is good. And, of course, without our struggles through the pits of infertility, we might never have been led to our second miracle, our son who grew in our hearts and is not flesh of our flesh. I believe with everything that I am that our God is infinitely good and wise. I know it.
But I wanted September.
I wanted to throw September in for good measure. We might as well make it an even 40 months, I reasoned. All the while knowing that I just wasn't ready to shut this chapter of our lives.
I'm not consumed with the green demon of jealousy anymore. I don't begrudge unwed mothers their children. I see the hand of Providence gliding over our family in undeniable ways. So to question the hand that blesses us is sinful, ungrateful, unacceptable. But the feeling of failure and inadequacy still permeates my heart. Still, I am plagued by the feeling of disappointment in my own reproductive system. In my husband's. In the way they are completely incompatible with each other. Still, I wish we could joke about brushing up against one another, fully clothed, in public, and turning up pregnant.
And September went.
The baby that my oldest son begs for, the one he insists we would name "Dog", is not coming. I had a moment at our women's retreat two weeks ago where I lost it. I'd walked out of the house on Friday about a half hour after discovering that there would be no baby. Gripped with the resolve that it wouldn't ruin my weekend--after all, I didn't even know that I wanted a third--I headed into a life changing few days. But on Saturday it caught up with me. For a few minutes. Not wanting to share it with the world--you know, not until I could blog about it--I disappeared into a room with a couple of new friends. They ministered to me in ways that I will not soon forget.
And I came home on Sunday feeling ready. Ready to watch my sons grow up. Ready to stop thinking about getting pregnant every month. Ready to move on. Whether our family grows or remains the same is not really for me to know. God can do what He wants when He wants.
But as for me, I'm ready to try to kick the habit. I'm tired of being addicted to infertility.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I went to Sunday School. Then church. Then a rehearsal. Then, mercifully, our associate pastor told me not to come to youth group tonight.
See. I spent Saturday talking about God. And the retreat was great fun and fellowship and, well, not enough sleep.
So I'm exhausted.
But it was totally worth it.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
As we were eating lunch, The Rock Star and I had the following conversation.
G: Mom, why do they call people "audience"?
Me: Well, when a group of people is sitting around watching someone or something they're called the audience.
G: Like you?
Me: What do you mean?
G: Like when you come to my preschool plays you're called the audience?
Me: Yeah. Exactly like that.
G: (dramatic pause) And I'm the star of the show!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I don't think I'm going to be spending anymore time in one. It's still cracking strangely and making a weird sort of crunching sound when I turn it certain ways--the neck, that is, not the mosh pit. The good news is that it doesn't hurt quite so bad anymore.
I'm leaving tomorrow for the retreat. I'll be back on Sunday morning. Hope you all have a good end to your week. I also hope that when I return I will have regained the ability to turn my head 90 degrees either direction.
For your reading pleasure I'd like to send you here.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
And now that that little advertisement is out of the way...
The new 19.
I started working with our church youth group a few weeks ago. It's important that you know that. Superchick came to town last night with Bread of Stone, Me in Motion, and Manafest. If you know anything about me, anything at all, it should be that these bands are not my kind of music. And when I say not...I mean more like NOT!
Ask my ex-boyfriend and dear friend, Jason. He'll tell you. He'll tell you stories about how he tried to get me to like screaming rock and how I told him that I didn't understand why people even bothered to write lyrics if they weren't going to be heard or understood by anyone.
It was loud. I was tired before I even left the house. But I prayed about it and I made up my mind that even if I didn't particularly like the music, I was going to enjoy my time with the youth group.
You are all very interesting in your own ways. While I may not always appreciate the music, the Theatre degree holding artist in me was very impressed by your presentations. Also, I enjoyed you, Superchick. I did. I kind of wanted to die my hair platinum blonde and conjure up my inner rock star.
Dear Staff at Calvary Chapel,
I'm sorry. Please forget my face. Thank you for not asking me what my day job is. Thank you for not digging to the bottom of things and finding out that I'm actually a pastor's wife. I'm sorry that I got in trouble for dancing like a complete lunatic in the aisle. I'm sorry that, while trying to make the teenage girls laugh, I inadvertently ended up flailing about in the aisle and that, consequently, I became a fire hazard. I'm sorry you had to witness a grown woman jumping up and down in the mosh pit--the only mosh pit she can actually recall ever having been in. I do ask your forgiveness but please understand that I am paying dearly for trying to make a good first impression on the youth. Please know that when I attempted to "head bang" I did something to my neck. It hurts. Please know that when I repeatedly jumped up and down with my fist in the air I did something to my knee and the simple act of carrying around my own body weight now makes me contemplate replacement surgery. On the one hand, it may have been worth it because one of the teens twittered something about me being "awesomeness". On the other hand I did bodily harm and risked someone recognizing me all for the sake of the youth. A youth I left behind some eleven years ago. But then, both of the girls in Superchick are older than I am and they were dancing around like lunatics, too. Of course, they do receive a hefty paycheck which will likely pay for their knee replacement surgeries. But again, please accept this senior pastor's wife's apologies for joining the mosh pit. There's a fine line between being relatable and being injured. And apparently I have multiple personalities. Lori will be speaking at a women's retreat in five days. She spends her days raising two sons and participating in all sorts of ministries. Tawanda likes mosh pits.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
We're just gonna go right ahead and pretend that the reason your letter is late is because I've been busy and haven't had time to sit down and recollect all the funny things you did this month and that it actually has nothing to do with the fact that I've been telling people for the last five days that you're 18 months old when, in fact, you've been 19 months old since Tuesday. We're also going to pretend that that wasn't the longest sentence ever. And also that I'm not an airhead who forgets what day it is--for five days straight.
Maybe it was denial. Maybe I refuse to admit that you're on the tail end of being one. Maybe I'm so darn tired of changing sandy poop diapers that I can't think straight. Son, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, please stop eating dirt. Also, please stop picking it up and throwing it onto your head. Come to think of it, can I just make a blanket request that you leave the dirt alone altogether?
Thank you very much for being a little less of a mama's boy, though. Thank you that when I leave you in the nursery at church you only cry for a minute or two instead of, you know, 45. It's been much more delightful to be able to put you down for a good portion of my day and know that you'll find something to play with--a brother, a toy, an unsuspecting golden retriever. But if you wouldn't mind putting an end to the obsession you have with shoving stuffed animals into the dog's water bucket that would be just great. Few things are worse than a sopping wet plush toy staring at me with sad eyes.
Your vocabulary is slowly, ever so slowly, expanding. My favorite new word is, "May-meh!" Which you say with extreme enthusiasm at the end of a prayer and which means, of course, Amen. Whenever we pray together you sit on my lap, stick your hands into my own folded ones, smile, and wait patiently for the part where you get to declare, loudly, "May-meh!" It's probably the cutest thing that's ever happened here on earth.
You're a coordinated little bugger. The other day you and your brother spent a good ten minutes just throwing a ball back and forth to each other. Okay. It was a rolled up sock--a rolled up dirty sock--but it just sounds better and much more sanitary to call it a ball. You also wrestle with him on an almost daily basis and it's hard to tell who has the upper hand. He's taller and outweighs you by a good 12 pounds but you're scrappy. We get six hours a week to ourselves while Garrett is at preschool and, while I think you like the mommy time, you break into the biggest smiles when we walk in to pick him up. You sure do love him.
And torture him.
The sibling rivalry is at an all time height. There's pushing and shoving and hitting and stealing and, sorry kid, most of it is coming from you. Sure, he may not always want to play with you. Sure, he may put hockey sticks and baseball bats across the entrances to the play structure so that you can't get on his swing set. Sure, I might have to remind him often that most of the toys are to be shared and the set isn't just his but, dude, he's exasperated with all the physical violence and verbal tongue lashings he gets in the form of angry baby talk. I'm completely ill prepared to handle this. I was the violent one in my sibling relationship. I smacked my little brother into submission until he was old enough to tell on me and tall enough to scare me and I have no idea what to do with a younger sibling who physically takes on his big brother. Except put you in time out. So that's what we've been doing. And I think it's fair to say that you don't like it. So I'll make you a deal. Stop hitting and stealing and screaming at the top of your lungs and we'll stop having you spend so much time in The Chair.
But don't stop flashing me that brilliant smile full of all those teeth. And don't stop hugging me so tightly around the neck that I sometimes think you might cut off my air supply. And don't stop crab walking and giving the sweetest of kisses. Don't stop having the most beautiful head, the cutest ears, the best dance moves. Oh the dance moves. You are proving, on a daily basis that you've got rhythm and this pasty white family of yours does not. We need a
You're the soul Little Buddy. Larger than life. Crabbier than life. Happier than life. It just depends on the day. But keep on giggling. Because that laugh, that infectious, hysterical laugh covers all the hitting, all the dirt eating, all the dirt pooping. All of it. That laugh melts this heart every, single, time.
I love you, Baby. Always.
Friday, October 1, 2010
So about a half hour ago I was on the couch working on my material for this upcoming retreat (eight days, oh Lord have mercy on me!) when I saw Beck running around outside like a Bigdumbdope. The Rock Star is out there with a friend from the neighborhood so I didn't think much of it. A few moments later I glanced up again and realized that he was behaving very strangely. So I pondered whether he might have been stung by a bee.
He was flopping onto the ground and writhing around and rubbing his face into the grass and pawing at his nose and it was generally a strange sight to behold. I got to a stopping point and opened the back door. He came sprinting to me making this horrid gasping sound. I thought maybe he'd been stung in the throat. Saliva was flying out of his mouth with rapid speed. More rapid speed than normal, that is.
I felt around on his muzzle and he didn't seem to get any more agitated so I figured it was something inside of his mouth. Before I could pry it open he turned around a time or two, pawed at his face, made the weird gasp sound and ran away. "Come here!" I commanded. He obliged. As he returned I spotted a piece of a stick protruding from his lip. I opened his mouth a bit. Wood was caked around one of his teeth. I tried to pull it off but he gasped again, did the dance, and tried to run away. I held him firm, pulled his mouth opened and saw, all at once, the bigger problem. My Bigdumbdope of a dog had obviously been chewing on a stick and part of it was now wedged--very tightly--between the two opposite top teeth at the back of his mouth. It was like he was wearing a retainer to widen his bite. No amount of tongue thrusting on his part would remove it. No amount of pawing at it would make a difference since he couldn't get his paw into his mouth. It must have been hurting his teeth because he didn't seem to want my help.
I straddled him, hooked my finger over the stick, and yanked. Hard. After a few seconds of strenuous pulling--and gasping on the part of the dog--it popped loose. He looked at it incredulously and went about his day.
If he'd been a stray, or a member of a pack of wild canines, I have no idea how long that stick would have lived there, effecting his ability to eat, drink, and generally be merry. It was that stuck.
And instantly I thought of my walk with the Lord. Psalm 121:1-3 says, "I lift my eyes up to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." But how often do I pretend that I can do it alone? How often do I have a stick wedged somewhere (Don't laugh.) with no possible way of removing it myself and I still don't turn to the Lord. How often do I rub my head all over the grass, gasping and panting and all it would take from my Savior is a simple procedure to get me back to normal?
My help comes from the Lord. Oh how I need to remember that...