Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'll Be Back Soon

I'm still here. I'm not posting because I'm caught in the haze that settles between Christmas and New Year's. I'm caught with family though, so that's always a good thing.

Coming soon: A post about the haircut that has been affectionately named "The Tink" because this morning my mother said, "You know who you look like? Julia Roberts in Hook."

To which I replied, "TINKERBELL? TINK? I look like a fairy?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Timeline

Christmas for us is typically lazy. Sweet. Perfect. It goes a little something like this...

7:52- I am slowly brought out of sleep. I hear my husband say to my son, "Wake up Mommy." I glance at the clock at mutter, sleepily, "Mommy is sleeping until 8:00." The Husband calls me Scrooge. The boy asks if he can go see what Santa brought. I mumble that he can. From downstairs I hear squealing. He is thrilled that Santa brought something for the dog and the cat. They were small items, purchased months ago with him in tow. I think "Santa" spent a whopping three dollars total. Apparently, this made Christmas.

7:59- I climb out of bed. Troy, outrageously more chipper than I for once, bounds into the toddler's bedroom. I stumble into the bathroom and put my eyes in. I cannot be expected to function until I've done this. Contacts are like my version of strong coffee. I brush my teeth. There are few things I hate more than the taste of my own morning breath. I cover up the zit I sprouted last night. Certainly don't want that thing making an appearance in any pictures.

8:22- We've managed to gather in the living room where Santa left the stockings. We sing Away in a Manger and then take turns opening the presents. The Rock Star is delighted to have received microwave popcorn, bubble gum, orange tic tacs, chapstick and a squishy ball. There were a few other items but we decided that Santa could have stopped there. Among other things, I received a coconut creme filled Santa chocolate. It was determined that Santa didn't pay very good attention when he went candy shopping. After all, Santa knows full well that I don't like coconut. It should be noted that Santa brought me lots of other things that I do like. Like Hillsong.

10:00- The stockings are opened. The Dragon World Fortress is out of its box. Troy is in the shower. Garrett and Matthew are happily playing with their fortress. I am putting the finishing touches on breakfast. Scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sweet rolls, and bananas. Hot cocoa on the side.

10:27- Breakfast has been consumed. I head to the shower. The boys head back to their fortress. Troy clears the table and washes every dish by hand. Because that's how he rolls. We have a functioning dishwasher. I remind him of this periodically. To no avail.

11:15- We Skype with Troy's parents. Garrett wears the toy armor they bought him. Matthew does a weird little jig.

11:30- The boys open their presents from us. The Rock Star hugs his stuffed Larry the Cucumber as though he's never loved anything more. Then he opens his dragon--Toothless from the film How to Train Your Dragon--and a new love is born. The Little Buddy hugs his Pillow Pet and audibly squeals.

12:15- Matthew has had a snack. No wonder he's rivaling small countries in land mass. We put him down for a nap. Garrett is eating popcorn and watching How to Train Your Dragon--a gift from his cousin in California. Troy and I open our gifts.

2:07- After cleaning up the house, Troy climbs the stairs for a long 90 minute winter's nap.

2:53- Garrett and I talk to my mom, dad, brother and SIL on the web cam. Matthew wakes up at the end of our call and participates for a few minutes.

3:58- We leave to go to our friends' house for food and fellowship. I am annoyed because Matthew won't listen to me when I tell him to let me put his jacket on. Also the house is a mess even though I cleaned it yesterday and we made several trips to the trash can.

3:59- I get over it.

4:03- We arrive. We spend the late afternoon with three other families from our church. We talk, laugh, and eat way too much. Matthew consumes his body weight in cheesecake and trifle. Garrett takes two bites and says, "That's enough." I consume my body weight in cheesecake and trifle after consuming it already in lasagna, salad and bread.

7:00- We leave our friends' house and head for home. All of us too stuffed to move very quickly.

7:30- After playing with new toys, the boys take a long bath. It is supposed to be relaxing. Instead they giggle and splash incessantly.

8:00- We put two very tired boys in bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Happy New Year as well. Posting will be sporadic, at best, over the next ten days as I am looking forward to some serious family time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Service

In John chapter 14 Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

It's what He came for. Born to die. Came to leave. We have the assurance that He has gone to prepare a place for us.

I've been following a blog for many days now. I prayed, along with thousands, that little baby Samuel's life would be spared. This morning, the doctors were going to take him off of life support. Should God call him away from this earth, I believe there is a place prepared for him in heaven.

I've been praying for my friend's family. Suddenly losing their daughter--at age 43--the day after Thanksgiving is not what they'd expected. Still, the Lord prepared a place for her and this Christmas she is caroling with the angels.

So if He was born to die, do we not owe Him honor? If He came so that He could leave and make a room for us, are we not called to respect Him? And at Christmas of all times. The shepherds knew what to do. They left what they were doing immediately and went before Him. The magi--though they came later--were on a mission from the very time they knew a Savior had been born.

Our Christmas involves getting gifts. . . and giving gifts. We have good food and family and tradition. I don't deny any of that. I practice all of those things. I get just as caught up in the magic of a sparkling tree as any child I know. But it became a crusade--if you will--of mine, when I was not quite an adult, to make the Christmas Eve service at church my most important tradition.

Had I married a doctor, a fireman, or a sanitation worker, instead of a pastor, it wouldn't have changed the fact that this family--my family--goes to church on Christmas Eve. What if we all threw a party in honor of someone's birthday and didn't include the person? What if we read the story of Christ's birth and gathered the family He gave us around and watched a Christmas classic and ate a turkey but we failed to come together, as a body of believers, in celebration? Well, it just might not seem like a birthday party.

I just never want the Lord to look down upon His own birthday party and wonder where I am. I don't want Him to think that I thought I had better things to do than worship Him on the night He was born to die. For me. For you. For baby Samuel and for my friend's daughter.

He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). I can certainly light a candle and sing songs in remembrance of that night so long ago. Christmas is magical. In our home it begins with celebrating the reason we celebrate to begin with.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

North Pole

So. The Santa thing.

I believed.

Troy believed.

We decided, probably before we ever even had kids, that we'd do the Santa thing. Unless it became a problem. Unless our children cared more about Santa than they did about the real meaning of Christmas. I think The Rock Star's preschool Christmas program debacle demonstrated that it hasn't yet become an issue.

Garrett has wanted to ride a train for a good long while. A month ago I was looking into some train excursions that run out of Heber City. One of them happens to be called The North Pole Express. "Enjoy hot chocolate and treats while sharing favorite carols and holiday entertainment. Delight while your children tell Santa their Christmas wishes when he climbs aboard your coach."

I just couldn't resist.

We used saved birthday money to pay for the ride and booked a matinee train on December 23. Today. A few weeks ago Garrett saw a commercial for The North Pole Express and went berserk. He desperately wanted to go. I think I told him we couldn't afford it.

Today, we dropped Matthew off at our friend's house and headed up to Heber. I turned the camera on when we approached the station.

We were an hour early and the kid was bouncing off the walls. We explored the station, explored the grounds, located our car, took some pictures and finally we were allowed to board. As soon as the train took off, over sized elves brought us chocolate chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa. We listened to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We watched the passing scenery. We answered trivia questions about Christmas movies. There was a question, which neither Troy nor I can remember, but that said something about a gift or what the best gift was or what the first gift was or...something. Garrett shot his hand up, looked at me, and whispered, "God!" with a huge smile. The host selected someone else to answer. That was probably a good thing unless the other passengers had specifically signed up for An Earful of the Gospel: by Garrett.

And then our host told us that Santa and The North Pole were coming on the right side of the train. We were sitting on the left side but there was an available seat on the right side so I scrambled up to it with my boy in tow. Suddenly, there was a barber style pole sticking out of the snow. Santa was standing next to it waving. And my son went nuts. I don't know that I've ever seen him smile as big as he did. He frantically waved to Santa, looked at me, and grinned, "I can't abweave I'm at the North Pole!"

Shortly after that, Santa boarded the train. My son was able to tell him what he wanted for Christmas. Santa gave him a red top, which Garrett is convinced is the roof of the Dragon World Fortress that Santa is hopefully bringing him and his brother tomorrow night.
Later, Mrs. Claus entered our car with Santa's favorite cookie recipe. Since they called for a pound of butter and six cups of flour and I had no intention of baking enough cookies to feed Santa, all of his elves, and our entire church congregation, I decided that we could just give Santa something we already had. Interestingly, Mrs. Claus was British. Or was pretending to be British. I still haven't quite decided.

We sang Christmas carols as we returned from the North Pole. Garrett was given the #1 card for The 12 Days of Christmas so I got to throw him up in the air twelve times as he proudly displayed his partridge in a pear tree.

Our trip was 90 minutes. The joy on our son's face was worth every second.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Glimpse Into Our Home

1. The Rock Star's vomit=Bleck!

2. The Rock Star's vomit all over the place=Double bleck!

3. The Rock Star shaking as his daddy cleans him up in the middle of the night and then whispering in a pathetic voice, "Daddy, I love you."=Priceless

4. The Little Buddy sticking a small chunk rawhide in the VCR so that it starts to eat two tapes before I realize the problem=Grrr!

5. The Little Buddy holding the phone up to his ear and saying, "Heh-woah?"=Cute. Me: Who is it? Him: Dedus (Jesus)=Double cute! Me: Really?! What does He have to say? Him: Tank ew!=Adorable. Why Jesus is thanking us I have no idea.

6. Finding The Little Buddy on my bed, with his back turned, scarfing a piece of candy I didn't know he had=Priceless.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Scene Are We On?

It was confusing to me. Why were the wise men in my way? They'd never been in my way before. It seemed that during the rehearsals and Saturday night's performance I'd had a clear pathway to the backstage area. Why then, during our closing performance, was I dodging wise men? In the darkness I located the person I was supposed to give the baby Jesus to. I handed off the actress playing the Christ child, grabbed my son's hand (he was playing young Jesus) and took off for the back of the sanctuary. You see, my next scene involved me walking down the center aisle. I got halfway there, turned, and with slight frustration, said, "Where's Troy?"

That's when one of the boys in the cast caught up to me. "You skipped a scene!"

Scampering quickly through my mind was the thought, No I didn't. I wrote the play. I've been the lead in the play for three months. I think I know what happens next. What I said was, "What scene?"

And just then I heard the narrator launch into his one sentence and I was immediately catapulted into exactly which scene I was supposed to be doing. I let go of Garrett's hand and sprinted back toward the stage whispering loudly, "Where's the baby?" As it turned out, my microphone was not muted at the time. Many of the people I've spoken to thought that something in the show had gone wrong and I'd misplaced the tiny actress. Several of the people thought it was supposed to happen--thought, maybe, that we were showing just how normal Mary was. Just how easily it would have been for her to misplace her baby in the middle of the night. These people concern me. I, uh, can't recall misplacing either of my children in the night. Pretty much they were in their crib. And what with Jesus being the Messiah and all, I feel like Mary might just have kept pretty close tabs on Him.

I located her, snatched her from the arms of the other girl, and ran up the stairs. Just as I entered stage right the lights came up. Perfect timing. That's exactly what I went to school and majored in theatre for. Cool under pressure.

Except one thing. I was supposed to be lying down. I was supposed to be asleep. So I did what any sensible person with years of theatre training would do. I dropped to the floor--baby and all-- with the light already on me and pretended to be asleep. And that's not even the best part. The best part is that, when several audience members starting snickering, I cracked a smile.

Oh the humanity.

Oh the terrible acting.

Of all the things I was ever taught, not breaking character is at the top of the list.

I could have just walked on, pretending that I'd been awake with the baby. I could have mumbled my lines from off stage as though I'd been asleep in another room. I could have chosen one of about ten really good options. But what did I choose to do? Drop to the floor like the blessed mother had narcolepsy. Or a seizure disorder.

That, folks, is acting at its absolute finest.

I wouldn't have minded--much--if it had happened to someone else in the cast. I would have said things like, "Everyone makes mistakes. Don't sweat it. At least you earned a laugh. Good work. See you next year at auditions." But what with it being me, well, I just don't plan to let it go for a good long while.

When I exited after the final scene, several members of the cast greeted me with smirks, "Better you than me."

"Where's the baby? Hahahahahahah!"

"Way to go, Director."

"What's your degree in again?"

Yeah. About that. I'm calling Point Loma and asking for my money back. 80,000 dollars later and all I have to show for my theatre degree is a piece of paper with Bachelor of Arts at the top.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Garrett's Very Best Part of Christmas

Despite a lengthy conversation on the way to his performance about how mommy thought it was totally okay with Jesus for him to sing the song about giving presents away, The Rock Star, apparently, remained unconvinced.

I spoke with a mom who had heard me telling the story of what he'd done earlier in the day. "I really hope he does it tonight. I'd laugh so hard," she said.

"I really hope he doesn't," I'd replied.

The Very Best of Christmas came near the very end of the show. I was able to stay for almost two thirds of the performance but, unfortunately, missed that particular number.

My husband watched the beginning and then decided that he needed to video tape a portion of my oldest child's shenanigans. For posterity.

Yeah. That's my son, pointing at the teachers that he, obviously, thought were very wrong and shouting the real very best part of Christmas at them. "GOD!"

Way to stick to your morals, kid. However, in the future, you will not be invited to be part of productions where you change the lyrics and point at audience members. I have a degree in Theatre. I know these things are generally frowned upon.

****Edited to add: He starts laughing because, when he shouts, "GOD!" for all the world to hear, several of the audience members start laughing at him. And he's a ham. I have no idea where he gets that charming personality trait.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Very Best Part of Christmas

The Rock Star's preschool Christmas performance is tonight. At five o'clock. I found out two weeks ago. Our dress rehearsal for The Nativity is tonight. At six o'clock. I scheduled that back in September. We're all taking him to his show, I'm leaving at 5:30, and The Husband will bring him to the church--hopefully as close to 6:00 as humanly possible.

This morning was their dress rehearsal and if you think for one second that I didn't park myself in front of the whole thing so that I could see it from start to finish you'd be wrong. The only real difference was the fact that they were in jeans and t-shirts instead of dress clothes. Well, that and the fact that I didn't have to crane my neck to see around some tall guy in front of me.

There just so happens to be a song about how the best part of Christmas is the gifts we give away.

So there I was, sitting in the back, wrangling the toddler, trying to blend into the seats so that I didn't disrupt their dress rehearsal. When they reached the part of the song about giving gifts being the best part of Christmas, my son's little face fell. His eyes immediately locked in on mine. He somberly shook his head from side to side. He whispered, in what I think he thought was an aside that only I could hear, "No. God is!"

The class sang on.

He became more and more frustrated, clearly angry that he was singing a song that went so against his theology. He got louder. "No! GOD IS!"

I placed my pointer finger over my lips, then moved it and mouthed, "We'll talk about it later."


Later, as we drove home, I explained that while Jesus--come from heaven to dwell among us and save us from our sin--is most certainly the best part of Christmas, it was alright for him to sing the song with his class.

He sighed. "Okay. But I hope they all know that Christmas is really about Jesus!"

And I hope you know how much you melt my heart and how proud I am of your four-year-old theology.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Contest

Please know that I am not asking anyone for money.

However, I do want to let you know of a little contest that is going on. I received an email this morning. Here is a little portion of it:

"I wanted to tell you so that maybe you could pass it on to your readers - I'm doing a contest on my blog. If anyone donates to you or to Baby Be Blessed's Give A Blessing Chip In, then they're in the running for a $50 gift card (for first) and $25(for second)." -Danae

She blogs here.

The direct link to the contest entry is here:

Details are listed on her blog.

I just thought I'd let you know. The contest runs through the end of the year.

I'd like to offer a special thanks to Danae, who has personally donated to our fund, for thinking of our family when she decided to do this contest.

Did You Know?

There are times when I want to run down the street screaming the name of my Savior for all the world to hear. My Lord willingly left the glory of heaven for the horrors of earth. He pulled me out of the wreckage, set my feet on the ground, and said, "If you confess with your mouth that I am Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised me from the dead, you will be saved." From eternal suffering. From yourself. From total destruction.

As a child, there was something so spectacular about the baby Jesus. There was something so sweetly innocent about the newborn in the manger. But that baby became my crucified Lord. It was difficult to think of my bleeding, battered, Savior as someone's child. He crashed through death and into life with fierce strength and everlasting implication and the Jesus that I know isn't a helpless babe in a stable. He is the sovereign protector of my heart, the lover of my soul, the Almighty.

Once a year I remind myself that the Beginning and the End came in the smallest of packages. Once a year I think of a scared teenager holding the Redeemer. Once a year, I try to imagine my King as an infant, holding the hope of the world in His tiny clenched fist. In my mind, I struggle and fight against the wrong assumption that the baby was just a child. I sometimes forget that, even then, He was Emmanuel. God with us.

And I've always wondered when He knew.

Perhaps that is why when I stumbled upon this song, the lyrics picked me up, slammed me down, and brought a sudden rush of tears to my eyes.

Did You Know?
Were Mary's the first eyes You saw
Or did You remember choosing that shade of brown?
Were You surprised at the shepherd's crazy story
Or did You know You wrote the song the angel's sang?
What was this life like for You?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o'er Your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?

Did You know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did You know or did You wonder?

Did You remember the brightness of Your glory
Or did You just notice it was cold and dark here?
Did You know Your name or did You have to be told?
Were You just a baby or were You as old as time?
What was Your life like?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o'er Your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?

Did You know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did You know or did You wonder?
Did You wonder?
-Todd Agnew

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adoption Costs

You may have noticed that I changed the wording above the donation button. I debated whether to put exactly what we spent and exactly what we owe. In the end, I decided on full disclosure. It's been 8 months since our legal battle ended (EIGHT! Can you believe it?) and I didn't want people to think that perhaps our debt was paid off and we were pocketing any donated cash. That is most certainly not the case. Just ask my grandparents. They were gracious enough to pay off the lawyers and allow us to make payments to them--free of interest. We pay them a sum of money each month out of our budget and, if any donations are received, we send that directly to them as well.

Several months ago I debated whether to take the donation button down since we were no longer incurring any legal fees. I decided to leave it up because so many of you have joyfully joined in our efforts to bring Matthew permanently into this family. While that portion of our journey is finished, the financial repercussions of all that we went through remain. I certainly do not expect, nor would I ask, for you to contribute. However, I want to leave the option available as well as to show you just how faithful the Lord has been to us--in many cases using your personal donations.

Just this morning I received a donation for 150 dollars. Thank you! Someone at our church routinely sends us an anonymous 20 dollars. Two weeks ago 500 dollars was slipped under Troy's office door with a handwritten note. "To help with adoption costs."

We thank you if you have donated time, prayers, and/or money to our family. And I want you to be able to see just what a dent those donations have made.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Offering Plate

Holding a shiny penny, my son approached me. His eyes were fixed to it and he quietly said, "Mommy, I want to give this money to God." My heart melted. Of all the ways he could use that shiny penny. He could slide it through the slot in his piggy bank, listening for it to make the glorious clink as it bounced off other saved pennies, nickles and dimes. He could carry it around in his pocket, pulling it out in the checkout line and asking me if he could buy a whole candy bar with it. He could use it as treasure when he engages in a rousing game of pirates. But my boy wanted to give his money to God.

"Oh. I think that is such a good idea." I replied.

He took the penny and tapped it against his heart three times. "But how do I get it in here?" He asked, knowing that the Lord lives in his heart.

I smiled. "Well, honey, if you want to give money to God, the best way to do it is to put it in the offering plate at church. All of the money in the offering plate is for God."

That was on Friday.

On Sunday I went to pick him up from Sunday school. His teacher handed me a card. "We made cards today. Garrett said he made his for God. He wants me to give it to Him. Since I'm not entirely sure how to do that, I thought maybe you could take care of it." She explained, making each and every word very pointed. As if to say, You and I both know we can't mail God a card so have fun dealing with this one.

"OH! Um. I don't think I quite know either so maybe," I looked at my son, "we'll ask daddy." Putting this little predicament squarely on the shoulders of my pastor husband sounded like as good a plan as any.

"Mom!" He looked up at me with shiny eyes as he shoved the last bite of his snack into his mouth. "We just put it in the offering plate. That's where we put things we want to give to God."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Christmas!

I'm pretty sure The Rock Star is singing Feliz Navidad (among many other songs) in his upcoming preschool Christmas program. Why do I think this? Because he goes around belting out, "Fee-s-bobby-ba! Fee-s-bobby-ba! Fee-s-bobby-ba, E hospero nano e fee see ba!" to the tune of Feliz Navidad.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mama Overlooks

Mama didn't look when the toddler followed his brother outside and came back in eating a handful of week old snow.

Mama turned a blind eye when the toddler let the dog get three good licks in before he resumed his own consumption of the icy blob.

Mama didn't say anything when the oldest ate an entire caramel apple, core and all.

She didn't complain when he sneezed into the sauce as he helped her cook.

Mama smiled when the toddler held two dinosaur toys, growled, and then made the tyrannosaurus lunge at the triceratops' neck. Even though she definitely didn't teach him about survival of the fittest.

She only momentarily closed her eyes when the noise reached an inhuman decibel level.

Mama doesn't mind the dirt, the bugs, the rough or the tumble.

God gave Mama boys.

And Mama is thankful for them.

Last night, Mama held the toddler and together they practiced words. He looked confused when she started to cry. She was simply overjoyed that she has him this Christmas. She was praising Jesus that she gets the opportunity to teach him words.

Last night, Mama laid with the oldest as he drifted off to sleep. "Mommy," he said, "Can I see Miss H soon?"


"Will she make me cookies?" He asked.

"I don't think so, honey." Mama replied. "She's still so sad about her daughter. I don't think she'll feel much like making cookies."

"Well," he paused. "Then I think we should make her cookies."

Mama smiled. Mama will put up with ear shattering noise. She will deal with muddy footprints across her carpet. She will eat sneeze sauce. Mama will endeavor to forget about the really small stuff--especially if tenderhearted, godly, men emerge from this household.

What are you exponentially thankful for this Christmas season?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Spirit Rejoices

Eight years ago I was playing Mary in a church Christmas play. I was 21. Unmarried. Without children. Troy and I had just started dating. He was playing Joseph.

I could act like a scared teenager. I could draw on personal experience and emotion. Had an angel come to me and said, "You will conceive and give birth to a son..."

Well, I would have responded with, "How can this be? I've never been with a man."

But labor, despite the fact that the rest of the women in the cast tried relentlessly to explain it to me, was a little hard to act my way through. Looking into the eyes of a baby and wondering what it would feel like to be a mother--that escaped me too.

This year, Troy is playing Joseph to my Mary once again. I do realize that this time around my Mary is old enough to have a teenage Jesus but with a head piece to cover all my gray hair and make-up to mask my wrinkles, we're making it work. Truthfully and thankfully, at least in this instance, I still look like a juvenile.

It's a little strange to have a 29-year-old Mary. But having experienced pregnancy and labor allows me the opportunity to use those memories. Having looked into the eyes of my firstborn son and knowing I'd give my life for him helps me as an actor while I stare into the eyes of the tiny little actress playing baby Jesus and listen as the notes of Mary Did You Know? ring out.


Except Mary didn't give her life for her son. Instead, He gave His for her. And I'm quite certain it wasn't even what Mary, His own mother, expected. As she stood at the foot of the cross, watching the excruciating death of her son, did the strains of her song from Luke chapter 1 drift through her mind?

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is His name..."
Luke 1:46-49

Did she think of his sleeping baby face? Did she look up to Heaven in complete confusion? "Lord, you said He would redeem us all. And now I am watching my flesh and my blood hanging on a cross." Or did she quote Jeremiah? "I know the plans you have for all of us, Father." Did she fight through the raw grief and exclaim, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices..." Did she realize that she had to lose her Son in order to gain her Savior?

You see, Mary experienced my biggest fear. She lost her child. He rose again, three days later, but then ascended into Heaven to take His proper place at the right hand of the Father. He died as her son so that He could live as her Redeemer.

Though He was risen and alive, I'm rather certain that she still grieved. Her son was gone from this earth. But it was no longer the hollow ache of a son lost forever. And knowing that He had become her Savior, well, I believe she just might have whispered the familiar words of a song she sang as a scared teenager. "The mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is His name."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Beloved

My husband brought me flowers today.

"Happy Pearl Harbor Day," he said. But what he meant was Happy 8th Anniversary of Our First Dinner Together. His dad will tell you that our first date was at Kentucky Fried Chicken after a rehearsal for the Christmas play. It's not a date when two people are both hungry and just happen to be the opposite gender. Even if they do like each other. We didn't know, over KFC twisters, that the other person was interested.

Our first date was a couple weeks later. At Bennigan's. Thankfully. Because I'd feel monumentally depressed if our first official date was at an establishment with the words "fried chicken" in its title. Especially given how horrifically ill fried chicken made me when I was pregnant with The Rock Star. To this day I can only eat a piece every other year. On a Sunday. When the moon is in Aquarius.

So dinner--at Bennigan's--marked the day that I tumbled into love with my husband. We didn't say it until a few weeks later, which was still ridiculously soon, especially for me. But looking back, I think I loved my husband just seconds after I realized that there was the potential that he might, one day, love me back.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, he did.

He does.

Happy eight years.

"My beloved is mine and I am his..." Song of Solomon 2:16

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funny Kid/Kid Who Stopped My Heart

The Rock Star climbed up onto the counter. My back was turned. "Ouch!" He yelped. "I hurt my hand ankle."

"Your what?"

"My hand ankle."

"Your hand doesn't have an ankle," I replied as I turned toward him. I realized that he must have meant his wrist. "Show me where it hurts."

He pointed to his wrist. "Right here. My hand ankle."

My friend tells a story of her youngest son. He used to hold his breath, waiting to get his way, passing out instead. The paramedics were called not once but twice before a pediatrician assured her that it was okay. We are, after all, fearfully and wonderfully made. Her boy was exercising his will. To the point of passing out. Thankfully, his body was exercising its wonder and, the moment he passed out, he'd take a breath and come to.

Matthew fell and whacked his face this evening. I was a foot away and saw the whole thing. It wasn't very hard at all but it must have hurt because he did the silent cry longer than I've ever witnessed. I scooped him up, gave him a couple quick pats on the back and told him, over and over, to breathe. Finally, just as I expected the huge wail, he made a strange meow sound and went limp in my arms. I looked down. His eyes were closed. Just as I opened my mouth to scream for my husband, he opened his eyes, sighed, and whimpered a little. He sat in my arms for a couple of minutes. I called for Troy, "Matthew just passed out."

"What? Are you sure?" Came the unsteady reply.

"Yeah. He's awake now but I'm pretty sure. He either passed out or he pretended to pass out."

We checked him out. We examined his eyes and his face (a small bruise on his cheek). After a couple minutes of sitting still in my arms he plopped himself back on the carpet and starting running and dancing around the room.

He's fine. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Smiling. Playing. Acting completely okay. But I'd guess he was out for about four seconds.

It's possible that they were the longest four seconds of my life...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Nativity

You know what I don't recommend? I don't recommend writing a play, directing a play, acting as costume manager for the same play, acting as stage manager for the same play, producing the same play, memorizing the lead role in the same play, and having your husband memorize the other lead in the same play, all while raising two small children.

I'm tired.

But this shindig will be over in two weeks. And hopefully people will be blessed by it.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Matthew has a very strong personality.

He's demanding. To say the very least.

Generally I'm okay with it. While it's a struggle for us now, I am hoping that with proper rearing it can be turned into a magnificent character trait. (Emphasis on hoping.)

But sometimes, well, it's a challenge.

Take today for example. Today I went to grab a hot chocolate with some friends while The Rock Star was at preschool. The Little Buddy wanted to be on my lap. He wanted to be in my hot chocolate cup. He wanted to play with my hot chocolate cup. He wanted to hold both of my thumbs tightly in his fists so that I could not pick up my hot chocolate cup. Finally, I'd had enough of defending my hot cocoa from a squirmy toddler who wanted, in the worst way, to spill it. So I placed him on the chair next to me.

He. Flipped. Out.

He screamed. I told him to stop. He wailed. I got right down by his face and whispered that this was neither the time nor the place. He shrieked. I told him that if he didn't stop we were going to leave. He elevated the volume. And it's not like he can't understand me. Just the other day I asked him to go upstairs, get the toothpaste and his toothbrush, and bring them down to me. He obeyed every command and threw his shoes in for good measure.

I looked at my friends. "I'm so sorry. I'm going to have to leave." They have children. They understand. I got up and asked Matthew to follow me. He wailed louder still. I refused to pick him up since what he wanted in the first place was for me to take him out of the chair and put him back on my lap. I tried to take his hand and lead him out the door. That's when he threw himself on the floor and began kicking and screaming.

That was a first for him. He's had tantrums that rival short-lived wars but he's never done the kicking, screaming, flailing--while in public--bit. Thank goodness he's number two. I managed to find it somewhat hilarious. When a tiny little person gets that worked up, well, I either have to laugh or cry so I chose to find the humor in it all.

My friend offered to pick him up and carry him to the car. That way I wouldn't be rewarding him but I also wouldn't be sitting in the coffee establishment waiting for him to grow up and realize that life is going to deal him a lot worse blows than his mother setting him on a chair next to her. She hoisted him up and off we went. As we exited, two police officers entered and I honestly contemplated telling them that he wasn't being abducted. But they offered me apologetic smiles that seemed to say, "We're dads. We've been there."

When I opened the car door, the screaming banshee threw all four limbs out and grabbed the frame of the door. With super human strength he gripped the roof of the car and thrust a leg out to stop himself from being unwillingly placed into his car seat. At that point I let out a sigh. That's the way it is a lot of the time with this kid. His will is made of steal.

But we were still two able bodied adults and he was still a 21-month-old so we won.

And Matthew screamed for ten solid minutes in the car before sticking his thumb in his mouth and doing the I'm-trying-to-catch-my-breath-after-sobbing hiccup cry. I didn't raise my voice. I didn't try to reason with him. I simply let him scream. Bloody murder. For ten minutes. When we got to our destination and I reached in to get him out, he smiled at me and said, "Mommy!"

And I was all, "Yeah. Hi. It's me. The one you hated not five minutes ago. Are we friends again?"

"Hi mommy!"

Sigh. "I love you."

"I wuv ew." He offered.

So, naturally, all was forgiven.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I've been absent.

I managed to post a few times, but my mind has been elsewhere.

On my friend.

I sit down to write and all I can think about is her. And her husband. And their daughters. And their grandchildren. And their sons-in-law. And I've thought that I shouldn't write about it here. It isn't my story to tell. It isn't my grief to place firmly on the shoulders of my Lord. But it's moving me and changing me and if I don't write it here then I fear I may never write anything of substance again.

When our plane landed on Saturday afternoon I had a voice mail from my friend. Her daughter had suddenly and very unexpectedly gone to be with the Lord on Friday. She was 43. She left behind her husband. She left behind her two daughters--not yet adults themselves.

I didn't know her. It felt like I did. I've heard so much about her. I've prayed for her and her family. She's prayed for mine. My heart just broke right in half for them. So I've been doing the only thing I can think to do. I've been praying--continuously. I simply can't get my mind off of the toughness of it all. So I pray.

"Mommy, what happened? Why are you sad?" Garrett asked me.

"Miss H's* baby died." I explained before realizing how confusing that would be to him.

"She has a baby? How come I've never seen that baby before?" He asked.

"Well, she's all grown up," I answered. "But she's still her baby."

"Just like I'll always be your baby?" He questioned.

"Exactly like that." I replied as I drew him into a hug.

You shouldn't bury your children. It just isn't the natural progression of things. My friend said as much to me when I rushed from the airport to her house so that I could see her before she left for California--where her family is. "No," I'd replied. "You shouldn't."

It's my biggest fear. It has been since the moment I laid eyes on my firstborn. Truly, it's been my biggest fear since I first laid eyes on the positive stick. "Fear not," my God tells me over and over in Scripture. Still, I find it very difficult to put into practice.

Difficult, but commanded nonetheless. To disobey is to sin against my Father who has decreed that I should not be afraid. And so, what if? What if my worst fear is realized?

Then I will breathe. First in and then out. I will grieve. I will want to die--of that I am quite sure. But I will continue to breathe. And, if I'm even a fraction of the woman He's called me to be, I will praise Him. "The Lord gives and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I've seen my friend. I've spoken with her on the phone. She's lost the unthinkable. But she continues to praise the Lord. For that, I am fiercely proud to call her my friend.

The other day I ran a quick errand for her. She wanted a copy of a picture of her daughter for the service. I entered her house and located the photo. I took it off the wall and brought it into my own house so that we could try to get a decent copy of it. As I stared into the face looking back at me, my eyes blurred a bit. I looked into her eyes and I could almost see her dancing with the angels.

One of the glories of a crucified Savior on a cross and a risen King is that one day, though I never knew her in this life, we will dance together in heaven. Perhaps her mother, my friend, will even introduce us.

*I said her name.