Monday, April 27, 2015

...Because I'm Black

Middle schoolers can be real pains in the butt. I'm not saying this just from a position of being more than double the age of your average junior higher. I remember being twelve. We (and by we I mean a handful of boys in my class) made a student teacher burst into tears and run out of our classroom. Obviously it marked me since I remember it to this day. I recall finding it one half hysterical and one half pitiful. The next day, I hung around after class and apologized to her. It honestly had nothing to do with me but I think I was apologizing because the whole thing had made me so uncomfortable.

When I tell people that I willingly go into middle school classrooms as a SUBSTITUTE, they typically think this makes me some kind of hardcore masochist. Truth be told, I'd rather be in a room with a bunch of adorable kindergartners but it's not every day that one of those jobs is available. The reason I don't altogether hate middle school is because they leave after 45 minutes. I can tough just about anything out for less than an hour.

Today I took a reading class. While I assumed there would be, well, reading, I did not assume that my day would involve me reading to 7th and 8th graders. I love reading. My favorite thing to do at the elementary level is read books. I get to use funny voices. They laugh and call me the best book reader ever. I wouldn't dare use funny voices at the junior high level. I'd be met with looks of death, I'm sure. I also wasn't expecting to read aloud for somewhere between three and four hours today. I'm pretty hoarse now and I have a killer sore throat. I receive no benefits from substitute teaching so workman's comp is out of the question.

In first period, a group of three boys was being horribly disruptive. I asked them repeatedly to stop and they stared at me and burst into fits of laughter. Unwavering stares and incessant chuckling is something I get a lot from middle schoolers. I'm sure they're making fun of me and I don't even care anymore. It's a paycheck. Finally, I asked one of the boys to move. Not two minutes after I assigned him to a new seat, the remaining two boys were at it again. I pulled a chair directly next to me and told one of them to come and sit in it.

"Are you serious?" he asked me.

"Yes," I replied, holding my finger on the spot where I'd stopped reading.

He got up, mad as a hornet, glared at me and said, "You're doing this because I'm black."

It was instant. Everything inside of me came unglued. I held my outside crap together but only barely. Without thinking, really, I walked directly to my purse and pulled my phone out. I realized my hands were shaking as I scrolled through my pictures. The class was dead silent. I found what I was looking for, marched back over to the student, showed him Matthew and said, "This is my son. So, no. I'm not doing it because you're black."

"Oh..." he said softly.

I sat down and continued reading. Just before the bell rang, I collected their books. The boy stood with a group of friends. They were talking together, very quietly but then I heard his voice over the rest. "She's white and this kid was black so obviously she's not his mom. I don't know who that kid was but he wasn't hers." The thing about it is, if you threaten my child's position in my family, you threaten me. I get, like, mama lioness mad. I drew in a steady breath and slowly exhaled it.

"Well, but she cares for him, anyway," one of his friends replied and then glanced at me.

The bell rang and they all walked out.

I decided that during the prep period, I would let the office know what had happened just in case this kid went home and informed his parents that he'd had a racist substitute. I told the assistant principal what had happened, informed her that it was not a big deal (by then I'd simmered down considerably), but that I just wanted her to know that it had nothing to do with race, in case she heard from him or his parents. She said that it was a big deal to her and that he would be talked to. It was absolutely not my goal to get this kid into trouble. I mean, sure, I felt like educating him with my fist but I didn't want him to be disciplined by the administration. I reiterated that it really hadn't been that big of a problem, I'd dealt with it, and we were fine to move on.

Several hours later he walked back into the classroom.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled.

I was caught off guard because I hadn't been expecting that at all.

"Oh...okay," I stammered like a moron. Like his peer. Not at all like an authority figure.

"I just wanted to say sorry. I...what I did. That was racist."

"Okay." Apparently that was the only word I could formulate. He turned to leave and I finally grabbed my wits. "Hey," I said and he turned and stopped. I stuck out my hand. He looked at it for a long moment and then took it and shook. "I want you to know that I didn't go to the administration because I wanted you to get in trouble. It really wasn't that big of a deal. I just didn't know if you were going to go to them and I needed them to know it didn't have anything to do with skin color."

He nodded, turned, and walked out. I was actually really impressed with how respectful he'd been to me during this second encounter.

I've subbed at this school several times. They've had a hard time keeping substitutes because the school has a reputation of having difficult students. They're trying to keep substitutes coming back so they give out full sized candy bars at the end of the day. I've never had a problem with the students before and I'm more than happy to get a paycheck and a candy bar. The whole situation had unnerved me and, during my lunch break, when I was trying to figure out why I'd let a 7th grader get to me, I thought about how happy I was that I got to eat a candy bar on my drive home.

At the end of the day, I checked out, pulled a candy bar from the basket she handed me, and turned to leave. "Have a nice afternoon," I said. I swung the door open and the kid was standing there, in the middle of the hall. I suddenly felt an overwhelming conviction to hand my candy bar over. But I want to eat it, I thought. That thought was quickly replaced with, Just give him the bar. Great. He might not think I'm a racist anymore but surely he's been taught not to take candy from strangers. Give him the candy bar.

"Hey," I said. "Do you want this?" I held it out, like a complete idiot. I had no idea why I was offering my candy bar to this kid who had infuriated me just hours earlier.

"Uh...yeah...I," he stammered. "I...thanks!" he said as he took it.

"You're welcome," I said.

I walked out the door and straight to my car.

Once inside I said aloud, "But, I wanted the candy bar. Why did I do that? I'm so weird." The thing is, in a school setting, I can't talk about my faith. I can't tell this kid that I only see color because I notice the beautiful way my God paints people. I can't tell him that through a series of incredible blessings, the Lord gave me a black son and that, yes, I care for him. If care for is now defined as would die in an instant for. I wanted him to see that we're both bigger than all that. I'm bigger than my anger and he's bigger than his. I wanted to extend an olive branch--and the only thing I had in my hand was a Butterfinger.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Play Ball

Both of our boys have played t-ball in the past. It was great when they were really little because it gave them a loose baseball concept but they were only allowed to take one base, the entire team ran for (and fought over) the same ball, and skill sets weren't really developed. We decided that this was Garrett's year for the real thing. (Or, rather, the real thing with a pitching machine.)

Last night, he played against his best friend's team. Troy got this shot of Garrett playing catcher and Web batting. This happened just before Web slugged it and (after Garrett's team threw it around for awhile) scored a home run.

We've had rain and snow that canceled two of our games so, at this point, Garrett's team is 1-1.

So far, he's played catcher, first base, second base and short. He loves to play catcher. He also wants to be a swimmer some day so I do not like the idea of him wanting to catch. He's going to hopelessly ruin his knees for swimming. But whatever. He thinks it's hilarious when the balls hit him in the face mask. He's a weird kid.

Last night he had some great plays in the field. He wasn't able to get the runner out either time but he fielded the ball cleanly.

He looks like me and he sticks his tongue out when he's concentrating like I do. The only real difference between us is almost 25 years and the fact that he's a boy. He got that from Troy. And his affinity for history and ball sports. I have zero coordination so it was best to put me in a pool and tell me to swim straight and fast.

He was asked to try out for an additional accelerated team. The coach had to pick the top three on the team. We were very proud of him for being selected. There were 24 boys chosen to try out and only 12 will make the team but it was an honor just to be picked out of the 90 boys that are playing.

Also, what is it about sticking a boy in a t-shirt and a baseball cap and not knowing what decade he's from? Aside from the quality of the photo, this could be 1950 or 1980 or now. Boys and baseball. So much changes...but some things remain the same.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Year-End Testing

On Wednesdays I volunteer in the boys' classes. I start off, first thing, in Garrett's class. If I went to his class any later, I'd be up in the business of their math rotations which involve some of them going into different classrooms. When I was in second grade, we just had whoever we had and we stayed with that teacher from dawn until dusk (or whenever the bell rang, whichever came first). We didn't have groups for math and art and music and computers. Come to think of it, we didn't have computers. I feel like those things came about in third or fourth grade and involved black screens with green writing. We played Oregon Trail but it was just a green box bouncing across a screen and we only ever had time to make it to Independence Rock. I would have gladly welcomed rotating to different classrooms in the second grade because my second grade teacher was terrible.

Seriously. The only good thing that came out spending a year with Ms. Cathy Boyle (we had to call her Mizz Boyle. Not Miss Boyle. DEFINITELY not Mrs. Boyle. She was MIZZ BOYLE or no Boyle at all.) was that she gave me a penchant for the written word. Of course, that's because reading and writing were the only subjects she really taught us. This was super because it left me with a rather large deficit in mathematics which I have long since given up on overcoming. She also wore her hair either very curly or stick straight and the straight days were not good days. When she took time to curl her hair, I knew we were going to have a good day. Otherwise, it was doomed from the start.

I digress.

Yesterday, I was in the hallway quizzing kids on high frequency words when the principal made some announcements over the speaker. She said that they were going to be doing year-end testing. (I am confused by this because my children don't get out of school until July 2. For the record, here I am nearly three years in to my children's elementary schooling and I still hate year round school. I still think these breaks are ridiculous. I still want ALL THE SUMMER! Jordan District, are you listening to me???) Anyway, she said year-end testing but that is NOT what I heard.


I heard her say that they were going to be doing urine testing. And listen. I knew I had to have heard her wrong. Once I was sure that couldn't have been what she said, I quickly processed that she had, in fact, said, "year-end." However, it took me a full three seconds to come to the conclusion that I definitely had heard her wrong and my very first thought was, "What the....?" and that was followed by, "The heck you are..."

It's not that I think they'd find anything but, somehow, running through my head during those quick three seconds was the fact that I had not signed any kind of permission slip allowing my children to hand their urine over to school officials. So, I guess the moral of this story is that the school can collect my kids' urine only after I've signed a permission slip.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fleeting Moments

Monday afternoons are crazy around these parts because Garrett has baseball practice at 5:00 and then scouts at 7:00 and there isn't enough time to come home in between and scouts is 30-40 minutes away from our house anyway so I pack a dinner to eat and that's that. I also write run-on sentences. As if Mondays aren't nuts enough, I added four dentist appointments to the mix yesterday. Troy left for the dentist with Matthew at 1:30. I followed later with Garrett. When Garrett was finished, Troy took him over to the baseball fields early and they did his homework there. Then he had practice, ate the dinner I'd packed, stopped at the batting cages to hit a few, and headed to scouts. They got home just before 9:00.

Meanwhile, I finished up at the dentist and brought Matthew home. We finished his homework, had dinner, and lazed around together. So Troy is the rock star parent, is what I'm saying. And thanks to him being the rock star parent, I got to snuggle with my youngest until this happened.

I can't believe how fast these babies have turned into tiny men. I also can't believe how much they still look like babies when they sleep.

Friday, April 17, 2015


I wasn't blogging back in 2005 when I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating agony. I had to use the bathroom WITH DESPERATION but nothing would happen. My back felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife and I was convinced that ALL THE DYING WAS HAPPENING. My husband put me in the car and drove 40 minutes to the hospital. I made him pull over so I could throw up on the side of the freeway. I threw up again in the Emergency Room. We were going through fertility treatment and I couldn't have a CT done to confirm the diagnosis of kidney stones.

"What else could it be?"

"It's kidney stones."


"Kidney stooones!" (Bonus points to the first person who correctly identifies what I'm quoting.)

A little over a year later, my son was born and while, sure, there was an epidural involved, I'd give birth gladly over kidney stones. I mean that with my whole heart. Labor & Delivery + epidural = better than having a kidney stone. I vowed never to have one again.

This morning I woke up at 5:28 and I had to USE THE BATHROOM SOMETHING FIERCE. I went without any problem and then wondered why my back was hurting. It was aching pretty high up and I thought maybe I'd slept funny or twisted it somehow. I climbed back into bed and tried to get comfortable. I wasn't in unbearable pain and I wondered if I should make an appointment to see my doctor once I dropped the boys off at school.

Over the next few minutes the pain worsened and I started to wonder what organs were up that high and what might be wrong. Additionally, I was now feeling pain in my lower right abdomen. I couldn't decide if the pain was radiating from my front to my back or my back to my front. I felt like I was running a fever. Appendicitis? I wondered.

A few moments later I realized that there was a sharp, stabbing pain in the lower part of my back that felt exactly like that blasted kidney stone from a decade ago. My phone rang at 5:53. It was an automated call from the district wanting to know if I could teach today. I hung up. It was not looking likely. Troy, awake now because of the phone, tossed onto his side.

"I might need you to take me the ER," I whispered.

I am unsure of whether I have a low pain tolerance or what because I have a friend who just walks around and goes to work with kidney stones. You guys, when I have a kidney stone, I cannot stand up straight. I vomit or dry heave every few minutes. I shake violently. I contemplate death. IT IS TERRIBLE.

We dropped the kids off at our friend's house and she got them off to school. I miserably endured the (blessed) 20 minute drive to the hospital (which was so much better than ten years ago). I made my husband pull over on the side of the road so I could heave into the rocks while cars flew past.

When we got to the hospital, it was all I could do to hold myself together and not howl in pain as I waited for them to pump my veins full of narcotics.

When the nurse asked me what my pain level was, I asked her to define a 10. "Passed out from pain," she said.

"Well then, not that," I replied, just barely holding on to my very last thread of sarcastic humor.

"A nine is crying out in pain," she explained.

"I'm an eight, then." I assumed eight to mean that I wanted to be crying out in pain but was somehow keeping the moans suppressed. The doctor came in and told me what they were going to give me for the pain. He could have told me that they were going to inject elephant feces directly into my bloodstream and then cover me with leeches while performing a jig on my bed and I would not have cared as long as it made my pain subside.

Both times I've had kidney stones, I have been incredibly sick to my stomach. Any motion at all makes it ten times worse. I can't walk more than a few steps and riding in the car is just terrible. This morning, I had a heck of a time getting in to the gown because it involved moving. I finally managed and within about fifteen minutes I had the narcotics in my system and my pain level had moved from an eight to about a four. You can fall asleep with a four. You can also fall asleep with a high percentage of drugs in your system. Turns out, in fact, that the latter makes it nearly impossible to stay awake.

Kind of. Every time I fell asleep my monitor beeped. It was set to alarm us all if my heart rate dropped below 45. It was holding steady around 46 but every time I fell asleep it dropped. The monitor beeped. I woke up.

Listen. I looked like total crap and I did not care AT ALL. I was retching in front of a nurse like it was no big thing. I didn't even close the door! I was a mess. But I managed to take pride in the fact that my resting heart rate was in the 40's and my blood pressure was within normal even though just moments before I'd felt like I was going to up and die and was practicing labor breathing JUST TO SURVIVE.

A CT scan (because I am definitely not pregnant) verified that I had a kidney stone which had already made its way down the tiny little walkway between my kidney and my bladder. It was sitting just at the entrance to my bladder. The doctor said it could be hours or it could be days. I also, apparently, had a fever, a high white blood cell count, and bacteria in my urine. They're culturing that to find out if something else is wrong or if my body went nuts because of all the pain and a tiny little intruder.

They sent me home with a prescription for DRUGS! and instructions to come back if it got worse. While the apparent wimp in me screams, "Don't worry!" the part of me that pays the bills yells, "It'll have to be over my dead body." Because I'm certain that what they did today was more than $1,000. Our insurance doesn't kick in until we hit our deductible so, that's not great.

Right now though, I don't hurt...much.

I haven't passed my little mortal enemy yet but I am currently hurting only a little. Praise God!!!

I have decided to drink nonstop for the rest of my life to avoid these things because, apparently, I am incapable of just waiting them out. I cannot go to work in the kind of pain I was in. I can barely speak. I alternate between wanting to writhe around in pain and wanting to throw up. I demand narcotics.

So my message to all of you is DRINK LIKE THE WATER IS GOING TO DRY UP AND BE GONE TOMORROW. Kidney stones are the worst.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

At the End of the Day

This poor little corner of the Internet is, well, neglected. Sometimes I pop on and realize, "Oh my! It's been five days since I've said a word." I'm sure that I care infinitely more about this than you do. There are reasons, though.

There's the fact that Garrett is playing actual baseball this year as opposed to the introduction to baseball which involved everyone in the outfield running to the ball if it was put into play even though it didn't matter because everyone could only take one base. He was learning, yes. But it was mind numbing. Now they are actually trying to learn positioning and such and he has practice on Mondays and games on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and sometimes a combination of those days. He also has scouts on Monday night. The boys go to Kids' Club and I lead Bible study on Wednesday nights. Plus I try to substitute teach from time to time.

So we're busy.

When I'm not busy helping Matthew advance to an almost second grade reading level, quizzing Garrett on multiplication facts, or preparing Bible study lessons, I've been doing something else.

I asked Facebook (which, as we all know is the VERY PLACE YOU SHOULD TAKE ALL OF LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS) if it would read a book if I wrote one. I shook Facebook like a Magic 8 ball and most of it declared, "YES!" and some of it said, "Reply hazy, try again." But no one said no. I'm no idiot. I know that people were thinking, "I'd rather have teeth extracted without the benefit of novocaine," but since no one came right out and said it, I decided to press forward.

If I ever manage to actually finish (which, at 25 pages, is not looking likely. I've written papers with minimal research that are longer than that.)  it will NEVER be published. It's like a famous person's memoir except with the without the added bonus of actually being about a famous person. It's quite fine that it will NEVER be published (or, likely, finished) because I'm doing it for the kids.

It's their story. And how the Lord has moved me from Point A to Point B and so on and so forth. I imagine that, eventually, there will be a Point Z and, by then, it's likely that I'll be in the loony bin and I won't remember all the miracles that were orchestrated to bring me Garrett, Matthew and Kate. So, I'm writing it all down now. For the boys.

Because I want them all to know, when I'm long gone or, at the very least, long gone crazy, how very wanted they all were. I want them to be able to look through the pages and say, "Mama loves us fierce." (They don't call me Mama so we'd have to start that up first, but still.) I want them to say, "She loves Jesus because He is Lord of all. She loves Dad because he is a gentle man and a good man. And she loves us and wanted us for as long as she can remember. And, at the end of the day, nothing else really matters to her."

So I'm writing. With terrible grammar and sentences that start with conjunctions. And fragments. And run-on sentences. That's what I've been up to. I am writing. It just doesn't happen to be here very often.

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Crying 8 Year Old

I went to get coffee (which stands for tea or hot chocolate) with my friend a couple weeks ago. She started telling me about how her almost nine-year-old was crying over EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Her words were that he was acting like a toddler. I'm so glad Garrett doesn't do that, I thought to myself.


If someone is lamenting a behavior in her child, just assume that your kid is next.

Not a week later, we started noticing that Garrett was bursting into tears over the smallest of things. If we ask him to help, if we tell him no about something, if we throw a curve ball into his plans, he cries.

What's the deal?

Is there a well known phase where eight year old boys lose their ever-loving minds and start behaving like they once did...SIX YEARS AGO?

If it is a phase, I really hope it's short lived.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I Lost Matthew

Troy and Garrett were gone and Matthew and I were getting ready to meet them. Matthew had been, quite literally, rolling his head around in the dirt (don't ask) and needed to take a shower. He hopped in, soaped up, rinsed off, hopped out, and got dressed. We still had about a half hour before we needed to leave. I was upstairs and, when I didn't hear him talking to himself and/or the dog and/or the cat and/or inanimate objects, I assumed he'd gone back outside and was hoping his explorations would not include once again rolling his head around in the dirt.

Matthew can entertain himself with just sticks and his own imagination for hours at a time so, when the half hour was up, I didn't think anything of the fact that I hadn't heard from him. I assumed he was creating grand stories in the backyard or that he was on his bike. He knows his boundaries and he's very good at letting me know if he's going to go to a friend's house (both of our next door neighbors also have kindergartners). I grabbed my purse and headed down the stairs.

In my attempt to locate the six-year-old, I first opened the back door and hollered into the yard, "Matthew?" There was no answer. I opened the door leading into the garage and called out, "Matthew?" Nothing. I scanned the garage. His bike, scooter and skateboard were all right there where they belonged. I walked through the garage and surveyed the front yard. He wasn't in sight.

"MATTHEW!" I yelled from the edge of the garage. "MATTHEW? WHERE ARE YOU?" I heard nothing in response. It was cold out and our neighborhood was dead silent. Just across the street is a short little lane that bends sideways and ends in a cul-de-sac. The boys often ride bikes around the circle. I knew he didn't have his bike but I thought I'd check anyway to be sure he wasn't on some adventure down the little road. I walked until I could see all of it. He wasn't there.

Anxiety began to rise in my chest. How long has he been gone? About thirty minutes. I answered myself. Thirty minutes is a long time. If someone drove by and snatched him, they could be halfway to Provo by now. Calm down. What if I never see my son again? I'm very dramatic. I also react very calmly to situations but often immediately overreact on the inside.

I stopped at the neighbor's. I rang the doorbell. Dogs barked but no one came to the door. It didn't look like the neighbors on the other side were home either. I screamed Matthew's name several times. Nothing. The world was silent and the six-year-old was gone.

Is he hiding from me? Is he missing? How long should I wait to call the police. His kidnapper is inching closer to Provo or Wendover or Park City or Ogden. THE KIDNAPPER COULD BE HEADED IN A MYRIAD OF DIRECTIONS. Canada. Mexico. I don't know...

I decided to check to make sure he wasn't hiding in the house, laughing hysterically at our little game. I headed back through the garage and, as I passed the van I wondered if he was inside, snickering at me while I ran around the neighborhood, screaming his name and trying not to panic. I quickly threw the sliding van door open.

There, buckled safely into his seat, was my dear, sweet second born. He was sound asleep. I exhaled long. His head was bent to the side, supported by the seat belt. His body was limp and a slight snore escaped between his lips. I closed the van door and started the car. It wasn't until I'd backed down the driveway that he stirred. His eyes flew open and he looked around as if confused by his moving surroundings.

"You scared me," I said.

He blinked.

"I couldn't find you. I was yelling your name."

He stared at me in the rear view mirror. "Did you get in the van after you got dressed?" I asked.

"Yes. I was tired. I closed my eyes. I think I took a nice, little nap."

"I almost called the cops," I told him.

His eyes widened. "WHY?"

"Because I couldn't find you."

I have no idea how, on earth, he slept through my shrill shrieks--at least a dozen of them--ringing out through the neighborhood. In the future, before I assume that his kidnapper is on his way to Mexico, I'm going to check the van. Apparently, it's a nice place for an early evening slumber.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Piece of My Heart

My friend and I went to "coffee" this morning. It's just the universal term for, "Let's grab a beverage and gab." We both had hot chocolate. I don't know her well. Her family attended our church for awhile, then they moved to Massachusetts and then they moved back just a couple months ago. They left with one son and returned with an addition. Their daughter was born several months ago (and is CUTE AS A STINKIN' BUTTON). 

One of the reasons that she wanted to meet with me today was to give me this necklace.
I hope I'm not over stepping my bounds when I tell you that, during part of our conversation, she said she often reads my blog at night, when she's massively exhausted and dealing with a baby that is up for whatever reason. It impacts her in a certain way because she's got a baby in her arms and she said it helps her remember not to complain.

I've said it before and I'll say it again because I'm not ashamed. When both of my babies were screaming like banshees in the night and I was SO TIRED from all the NOT SLEEP, I thought I might sell them to the highest bidder. Of course, daylight would come and I remembered that I wouldn't give them away for all the money in the world. My point is that I have kids. I know what those long nights are like. I remember thinking my eyelids were going to fuse shut forever because they hurt so badly. I get complaining about those sleepless nights. Or the colic. Or the reflux. Or whatever ails your baby. I am NOT judging you (ANY OF YOU) for the list of things that make motherhood hard. Because I get it. And I see you and the sacrifices you're making for your children.

But I really do hope that, if I'm blessed with the chance to do the baby stage again, I remember all this at 1:00 am when I'm just exhausted. I hope it makes me a more patient mother. I hope I get to stare into a crying face and remember that I didn't get to do it with Kate. I hope it makes me better. 

Tiffany, thank you for the beautiful gift. It's perfect.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Great, How Are You?

I was in a classroom and a student asked me how many kids I have. I paused. Too long. As if counting. As if I didn't know. Finally, I stammered, "Um. I have two." Gaining speed, my sentences toppled on top of each other. "My son, Garrett, is in 2nd grade. My son, Matthew, is in kindergarten." My daughter, Kate, is in Heaven.

I don't really talk about it a lot. I can sense when people are just plumb ready for me to move from, "I'm doing okay," to, "I'm great, how are you?" And I oblige. I pick up on the fact that people would prefer if my Facebook posts returned to, "Today Garrett announced that since finding out how babies are made, he has absolutely no plans to ever get married." Instead of, "My arms ache in the absence of my child." So I try. I go through the motions until the motions feel normal.

But then, Easter.

Last week I was putting together the boys' baskets and it suddenly hit me. By all earthly assumptions, I'm supposed to have a three week old. Of course, the Father always knew that the heavenly realms would welcome her before she saw the light of one of our days, but if...

If she hadn't died, she'd be here. She'd be in my arms and she'd be small and there would be an Easter basket for her. There would have been tiny diapers and a small Easter dress. Instead, there is an empty room.

Garrett says he'd be having so much fun right now. He'd hold her and help with her and love her.

Matthew says he wants to go to Heaven so he can visit her.

Troy buys an Easter lily and dedicates it to Kate.

I cry silently in the safety of these walls. I stare at two baskets and I am so thankful that they are here but, still, I wish that there were three. I want to visit her grave and I cannot because it's miles and states away. I smile and tell people I'm great.

Sometimes it's the truth.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Our annual church Egg Hunt was this morning and, at the event, a boy looked at me with big, chocolate eyes and said, "You guys have church tomorrow?" I enthusiastically replied, "Yeah, we do. It's at 10:00!" His eyes darted down to examine the harvest of candy he'd just hunted and gathered. "That's sad that you have to go to church on Easter."

I exhaled an inner sigh.

"I don't think it's sad at all," I answered. "Jesus is the whole reason for Easter." He quieted for a moment as if pondering this statement. Then, he grabbed a particularly good piece of candy, jumped up and yelled, "MOM! Look what I got."

In this culture, this one that blurs springtime and bunnies with resurrection, it's easy to see how a child raised without Christ would be confused. What I wanted to do was take that child and lead him to a quiet place. I wanted to open the Word and show him.

He was beaten.

He was bloodied.

He was tortured.

He was mocked.

He was killed.

He was hauled down off the cross and buried before nightfall so that those who'd called for His murder could adhere to the laws of the Sabbath.


It is not a sad thing that I will be at church tomorrow. Neither is it something that I have to do. It is, simply, that all that I am hinges on the resurrection. Everything I believe is rubbish without a risen Savior.

Hell has no victory. Its power is crushed by the heel of my Lord.

He is risen...

He is risen, indeed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Atoning Sacrifice


A day when the Hebrew people put sacrificial animal blood on the sides and the tops of their door frames. A day when the blood would be a sign and the LORD would pass over, sparing the firstborn. No destructive plague would touch them. A day to commemorate for generations to come. A lasting ordinance. A celebration.

And so it was.

Jesus celebrated. Year after year after year He observed the holiday, knowing that His blood would be spilled on the cross. The true sacrificial lamb. The atonement for sin.

Knowing He would be betrayed before the night was over, knowing He had only moments left, the humble King washed His disciples feet. Filthy from dust and grime, He took the feet that had walked miles of ministry with Him and He washed them. He handled the sole of the Betrayer, scrubbing dirt from foot, knowing the heart was covered with deceit.

He ate. Did His food taste of betrayal and denial?

He reclined. Was His rest filled with sadness over their dispute for greatness?

He got up and went to the garden to pray. Did He reflect that this was not the celebration of years past?

His disciples slept, unaware of the weight of what was to come. Jesus prayed. In sorrow and agony He asked for the cup to be taken from Him. "Yet not as I will, but as you will." Fully God. Fully man. Submitted to the Father.

The final moments would tumble, one on top of the other. The calm of the meal and the quietness of the garden would stand in stark contrast to the night that followed. Betrayal. Arrest. Denial. The Sanhedrin. Herod. Pilate. Beating. Mocking. Crucifixion.

This is what my God endured for me.

Perfection willingly embraced the torment of the most gruesome death. The sinless bore the weight of my darkness. He shed His blood--the atoning sacrifice. All of eternity past and future hinged on this moment. Perfection died on the cross. Redemptive, sacrificial lamb. Hallelujah.

"...He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--" Colossians 1:19-22

"He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:13b-15