Less and Less

One year ago, I was writhing in pain, losing my baby.  In ways that seems like last week and in other ways it seems like it was merely a dream. How could I have been pregnant in the first place? And how could I have had a miscarriage? I’ve always been extremely healthy. I respect authority, follow most of the rules, eat healthier than the average American, go to church, pray, etc., etc.  Shouldn’t that be rewarded with a healthy pregnancy? Did I do something wrong? Was it just that I was too old—after all my egg was 49 years old. Was I working too hard? Worrying too much? Not resting enough?

No matter how many questions I have, there is only one truth. It happened—to me. That’s my reality.

Our family was blessed with an outpouring of love through notes, cards, and gifts. I still get a hitch in my breath and my heart skips a beat when I think of the soothing balm we received from family, friends, coworkers, and associates. I was really humbled to be honest. And thankful. And blessed. And amazed. I  am loved. Really. Seriously. Who’d a thunk it?

But after that initial salve of sympathy, no one would ask about Baby J. They didn’t bring up the subject at all. I’ve heard from people who have gone through grief that when people won’t talk about the person they lost it hurts. It negates their life in a way. Our natural inclination seems to be to avoid saying anything that may cause pain. But that pain is a bridge that we must cross. It is an intense, hard, emotional bridge to beautiful sanity. We need to acknowledge the loss. We need to cry and hurt and give the love that is welling up inside an outlet. Lucky for me, I’ve never been a person to wait for people to ask. When I need to get something out of my system, I will blatantly trap my friends and make them help me through it. It’s a gift.

So, one year later where am I? I’m as lost as ever. I’m still weird, messy, loud, funny, busy, and sleep deprived. I have three wonderful kids here and one in heaven. I have a husband who shares my pain and my joy. I have a God who carries me on the days when I can’t take one step further on my own. And by His grace, those days are less and less.

Advertisements

Wasting Time

So I putz around and avoid working last night finding little stupid stuff to distract me. I read a little. Watch a little TV. Stalk people on Facebook. Clip my toenails. In the back of my mind guilt niggled, wiggled, did somersaults, and finally, at 11:30, urged me to my desk where overdue projects sat in cue.

I settled in front of my computer with a beverage, my Snuggie, and a self-congratulatory pat on the back for working on a Friday night. Then I opened to the document I was supposed to be editing and found the following quote staring up at me:

Let us “redeem the time.” Desultory working, fitful planning, irregular reading, ill-assorted hours, perfunctory or unpunctual execution of business, hurry and bustle, loitering and unreadiness—these, and such like, are the things which take out the whole pith and power from life, which hinder holiness, and which eat like a canker into our moral being.
Horatio Bonar

Isn’t it funny how God does that? Not funny ha-ha, but funny in a mind-blowing feeling of being stalked by your Maker? (I looked around for cameras.) It is awe-inspiring when I think about the things God finds to correct our paths.

It amazes me how little I can get done some days. If you asked me, I would tell you (on those days) that I worked all day. Ten hours. But when I go in and look at my timer, it says three hours and twenty-three minutes. Thankfully this isn’t a daily occurrence. But it happens often enough to give one pause (and therein lies my problem). Am I really allowing a canker to eat into my moral being? It IS eating into my deadline time. But is it also hindering holiness? Closeness to God?

Well, I’ve slept on it and I have to say, “YUP.” When God clearly gives us a job to do, supports us in that job, gives us skills for the job, we are to perform the job as if He was standing there looking over our shoulder while we work. It is part of our obedience and respect for our Father. By letting other things take us away from our obligations and responsibilities, we allow God to slip further down on our list of importance.

And when I know I’m doing something I really shouldn’t, even if it is as innocuous as clipping my toenails, I find myself hiding from God. It’s like when I was a kid and watched “The Young and the Restless” instead of doing the dishes. When mom came in I made sure I was in another room. Hiding from God is definitely hindering holiness.

Plus doing the work He has given me to do is a form of worshiping Him. How can I put toenail clipping in front of worshiping Him? I find it is easier than we think. I am just going to have to work on this “redeem the time” idea.

So this morning, my plan is to take Colossians 3:23 to heart: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” …As soon as I finishing reading some blogs!

Patience

This morning I took a friend to the airport very early. This meant getting myself out of bed at 4 a.m. FOUR AYE EM.  I have been known to go to bed at 4, but rarely, if ever, get up at that god-forsaken hour. Who does that (besides the guy who makes the donuts—God bless his soul)? It was a true test of loyalty if ever there was one!

I do have to admit, though, that it was a nice drive. The stars were still out. The traffic thin. The music good. And my friend was beautiful and happy to be on her way to a two-week vacay.

When we pulled in at the airport, the usual amount of chaos reigned—even at that insane time of the morning. I pulled to the curb to let her out and was immediately penned in. I had nowhere I had to be. Everyone I know was still asleep. So there was no hurry to get out of the gnarl of the four-wheeled beasts. But my usual hurry, hurry attitude was already pounding in my brain (I was completely surprised that attitude could wake up so early). I wanted to get the van out of Dodge. But that wasn’t happening. So I looked pleadingly at the car in front of me, hoping the driver would see my need for speed and get on with it. They, however, were not the even aware of my existence.

The passengers got out of the car. One was an older lady who was very slow. An attractive young lady got out of the back and was unloading baggage one bag at a time with one hand. The driver came around to help. He was a lovely, strapping young fellow. But they were taking forever. I looked behind me again to see if I could back out. Nope. Now I was hemmed in three cars deep.

Returning my attention to the scene in front of me I noticed things I hadn’t before. The older lady looked to be in pain as she shuffled slowly around the car. She steadied herself by holding onto the car. As the young lady turned to hug the older woman, I realized that her right arm stopped where her elbow should have been. One-handed baggage retrieval now made sense. The man helped his mom back around to the driver’s seat, helped her ease into the car, and said a tearful goodbye. Wow, that woman got up before the roosters crow despite her obvious pain to take this couple to the airport. That is love and loyalty. (Or perhaps blackmailing was involved.)

I waited for her to slowly guide her car back into traffic and followed the path she opened up right in front of me. Sometimes when we have patience and take the time to actually pay attention, God shows us a path that we didn’t expect. Amazing.

On Being a Wimp

I have never been considered a “graceful” person. With my flat feet and waddle walk, I would never be mistaken for, say, a dancer or a former debutant. But I have generally been considered coordinated and even (when you squint) athletic. Now, however, I have become the woman who burns herself, falls, drops things, cuts herself when cooking, and causes general mayhem to my person. Those who know me well offer to carry heavy objects for me, wear steel-toed shoes when I am working around the house, and keep a safe distance when I’m doing anything that involves hot bubbling oil. And at this point, I can’t blame them. I have cut the tip off of my finger with a mandoline, lost of chunk of hair to an overheated curling iron, have a scar on my toe from hot mashed potatoes (wearing sandals in the kitchen is not the best idea), and have lingering bruises from dropping a computer on my foot. I’m a mess!

To add insult to injury, I’ve become a wimp. I’ve lost my strength. I get tired easy. My bones hurt. I have a constant pain in my neck (both literally and figuratively). And we don’t even want to talk about what eating the wrong food does to me. I have to plan outings around lunch time, nap time, and energy levels. It is sad. Very, very sad.

When did I become such a wimp? I’ve been trying to figure that out. I know it happened sometime after I had kids and sometime before last week. I suspect that somewhere between the three volleyball games a week and the four naps a week, wimpiness just plain ole snuck up on me. Blast it.

Wimpiness seems to have invaded my spiritual life too. As have wishy-washy, status quo, and “I’ll get to it later.” I used to be so fearless. Theological discussions with friends or strangers were something I looked forward to. Now I avoid them because there is too much to do. Missions trips were my highest goals. Now I can’t
seem to find the time. What has happened to me? I’ve become wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Who knew my destiny was to be a paper towel?

What shall I do? I will not wait to think about it tomorrow like Scarlet was apt to do. I will talk to God about it today. He uses wimps to change the world. He gives strength to the weak. His best heroes have scars.

So I will jog or read the Bible or change the world…as soon as I get the energy to get up!

Shades of Healing

We moved Jasmine into her new home in Springfield, MO, over the Fourth of July weekend. We painted her room, assembled two bookcases, a bed and a desk, unpacked boxes, stocked up the fridge, and generally got her settled in. Then at the end of the day, we were in a hurry to go see fireworks. It was dark and I grabbed my laptop and quickly stuffed it into my briefcase. I did not realize that I left a cord hanging out…until the cord caught on the car door as I swung it open. The laptop flipped out of the case and landed corner down on top of my sandaled foot. YEEOUCH.The agony of de feet!

That sucker puffed up so big it looked like I had half a baseball sitting on the top of my foot. It felt like it was broken. Sherri and Jeff took one look and told me (after some gasping and gagging) to go straight to the ER. After two hours and three X-rays, the doctor announced me “severely bruised” but fine. That was a week ago.

Since then, my foot has gone through many shades of healing. At first it was all red. Then blue toes. Then purple toes and blue sides. Then a yellow center. And on and on. I walked around with my very own rainbow. Just fabulous. How do you match outfits to that?

When we came home from Missouri, Lynn came to stay for a week. She  helped get the house ready to sell (it is a continual work in progress). We moved furniture around, peeled wallpaper, sanded and painted cabinets, cleaned, etc., etc. One day we needed to shop for paint and food and ended up near Dickey’s Barbecue around lunch time. I told her how great the food was and she wanted to try it. So we moseyed on over and ordered up some fried okra and chopped brisket. It looked and smelled great, but tasted awful to me. Lynn said the okra was undercooked, but other than that the food was really good. I was thinking either our food came from different kitchens or my taste buds were in revolt. I ate less than half of my food (and that, my friends, is a sure sign things just ain’t right).

My problem wasn’t the food. I was going through some shades of healing of a different kind. I had not eaten at Dickey’s since I lost the baby. It had been the food I craved when I was pregnant. It was the place we took the kids to break the news about the baby. While I sat there trying to choke down some of the best beef brisket known to womankind (and mankind judging by the sheer number of men in restaurant), I kept replaying the fact that I threw my baby out with the trash. I was swamped in regret.

Up until that moment, I had been doing great with the reality of losing the baby. There were whole chunks of time that weren’t shadowed with loss. But something about being at Dickey’s unlocked emotions that I didn’t even realize were there. Losing a baby we hadn’t met was harder than I thought. The bruises run deep. And some days they come to the surface in shades of purple or blue. It is just part of the healing process. The bruises will fade. The hurt will be less in time.

I’m not sure why God let us lose the baby. But I am sure that He sent Lynn to be with me. She listened and hugged and made me laugh. God is good. He does send us the tools to cope with the life we have to live…like beef brisket and fried okra and best friends.

Thank You God for all the shades of healing. You know our hurts before they happen. You know the location of our bruises before they show. You not only give us the spiritual strength to heal, but You give us great ways to deal with it—like good food and great friends. Thank You for the path you have put me on. Help me to continue on it even if I have to limp and shuffle. Limping along hand-in-hand with You is better than riding in a fine car alone.

Why Am I So Tired?

11:00 p.m. — Snuggled down in bed.

11:24 p.m. — Turned on Star Trek: The Next Generation for background noise in hopes of drifting off. The “Evil Tar Creature” episode finally lulled me to sleep.

11:47 p.m. — Woke to the dog scratching on the door.

12:00 a.m. — Turned on NCIS for background noise. Dreamed Abby was braiding my hair.

12:33 a.m. — Woke to Jeff sliding into bed.

1:00 a.m. — Finished watching NCIS and started listening to In Plain Sight for the second time in one night.

1:28 a.m. — Woke feeling like a piece of popcorn in a microwave on high power. Wanted to peel off my skin.

1:29 a.m. —Turned the fan on high and sat right in front of it with my hands in a glass of cold water.

1:54 a.m. — Turned off the fan to stop the cold sweat shivering.

2:48 a.m. — Joel came home and in my room to talk. Apparently “The Last Airbender” sucked. He asked if he could stay over at a friend’s and left again.

2:59 a.m. — Sat in front of the fan and fantasized about living in the ice motel in Sweden.

3:13 a.m. — Thought about buying a YUDU from an infomercial. I could screen-print shirts that say, “Give me ice or get out of my way.”

3:31 a.m. — My cell phone was wrapped in the sheets and ringing. Missed the call but caught the one on the land line. Jasmine was waiting outside the house—the keypad wasn’t working. I let her in and found out that the movie was indeed horrible. But she and her friends looked fabulous in their costumes.

3:34 a.m. — Thought about climbing into the freezer for a few minutes, but was too tired to move the meat.

4:30 a.m. — Birds started to sing sweetly throughout the neighborhood. Looked for Jackie’s BB gun.

5:42 a.m. — My cell phone’s low battery alarm started beeping. I pulled it apart and put the pieces in different locations—just in case.

7:02 a.m. — Trucks working on the street sounded like they were in my front yard.

7:34 a.m. — Dreamed of big trucks being blown up.

7:35 a.m. — Got out of bed and dumped ice water on my head.

Ruts

Jeff and I have been in a rut. I great big one. Not one made by those tiny, electric, clown car tires. Oh, no. We are talking a rut that is the size of tank tracks. One so big that as you sit in it and look around, you don’t even realize you are in a rut. It is as deep and wide and far as you can see. And the crazy thing is, we didn’t even think that much about it.

Then I got pregnant at 49. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Maybe my life isn’t half over—perhaps it is simply half started. Why do I have to wind down? Why can’t I wind up? Just because I lost the baby is no reason to go back to the rut I was in. Thinking of starting all over with a baby made us realize we can start over without one. We are at that middle age stage of life where we can do really goofy things and people will just blame it on a mid-life crisis. So why not throw caution to the wind and try new things, set new goals, and act a little crazy (okay, so we’ve been doing that all along).

The question is, what crazy thing should I do? There’s the rub. Hamlet was afraid of what dreams might come. But I’m thinking any crazy dreams that God sends are nothing to be afraid of. “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20 MSG). If I truly believe that, and I do, why wouldn’t I embrace the craziest of the crazy dreams? Open a restaurant. Start a bed and breakfast. Finish a book or two. Travel the world for missions. Write a screenplay. Learn to fly. Narrowing down the list may be the toughest thing.

God, here I am. Pull me out of my rut and send me on a new, crazy path. I’m ready for whatever You have for me. Just let me know where and how (an e-mail would be sufficient). Please don’t limit Your dreams for me to my puny imagination, but build wild, wonderful, big dreams that can grow into a beautiful reality.

Nibbles

I called Barnes and Noble to ask if they had a book I need to buy. I told her the book title and she could not find it. So she asked for the author’s name. I told her and she laughed hard. “Oh,” she said, “I thought you were asking for ‘Vintage Cheez-Its‘ but now I see you meant ‘Vintage Jesus.'” How funny. Listen when your teachers tell you to enunciate better.

The more I thought about the mix-up, however, the more profound I found it. Isn’t it just like our human nature? We think of Jesus as something to nibble on from time to time. A tasty morsel. A snack. A spiritual Cheez-It. But shouldn’t Jesus be a whole seven course dinner? Shouldn’t we sit down with friends and family and have a nice long feast on His Word, His plans, His miracles?

I am as guilty as the next guy of spiritual nibbling. I open my Bible and read a verse here, half a chapter there. But I rarely take the time to really digest the truth, the wisdom, or the caution Jesus has woven into His message. Why is that? I don’t have trouble feasting on real food. I have trouble stopping myself from gorging. Why can’t I nibble on food and feast on Jesus? I need to flip things around.

Hey, maybe I’ve discovered a new diet: Jesus and Cheez-Its. You fill up on Jesus, nibble on Cheez-Its, and never again step on a scale. That’s a diet even I could endorse.

Ambushed

Today was a hard day. Until this morning, I have been pretty numb about my recent miscarriage. I think I was dealing with the physical, the “have-to-get-done” and the cerebral part of the loss. But today, my emotions ambushed me. Not just about the baby, but about all the changes that are going on in my life right now.

We were sitting in church and a couple with a new baby sat behind us. I was fine until the baby woke up and started making those cute little cooing sounds. You know, the sounds that make you want to kiss and tickle them. I just couldn’t help it. Tears dripped off my chin. (I think Pastor thought his message was extra powerful!)

Today was also the day they called Jackie’s missions team up to the front to be prayed for. He left for an inner city trip this afternoon. As he went forward I cried again. How cool is it that he is going on a mission trip at age 14. I’m proud and worried and sad and happy all at the same time.

Sitting beside me the whole time was Jasmine. Today was her last Sunday sitting with us at Southbridge. She will be leaving for Missouri on Friday. I held her hand and prayed for her. I will miss her so much. Will she be happy? Will she find another great church? Will she choose to trust God with her future? So guess what happened next. Yup, you guessed it. The waterworks started again. Disgusting!

I started thinking that the changes in my life are just too hard right now. Too much. Joel has been hopping from grad party to grad party, saying good-bye to all his friends. He is planning on leaving in August, too. My heart cannot take it! The drama queen inside of me envisioned my heart exploding and pieces of it sliding down the lampshade on my desk. (It was a pretty gross vision actually. ) How does one deal with an exploding heart? Or would it be imploding? Either way it is messy, yucky, and very, very painful.

I know this too will pass. In the meantime, I will give myself permission to cry. Tears are a cathartic for the soul, washing away sadness and clearing the way for hope. The amazing thing is—God counts each tear. Isn’t that unbelievable? I would need everyone’s fingers and toes to keep up with so many, but He can count them all without having to take off His socks. And that gives me hope for tomorrow.

One Chickadee Is Leaving the Nest

I spent a frustrating day trying to plan logistics for moving Jasmine to Springfield, MO—getting insurance quotes for her car; updating health insurance; talking to colleges, agents, secretaries; calculating storage space in the van; and on and on. (We should institute this sort of activity as torture for prisoners. We’d have a lot less repeat offenders.) In the middle of it all, the reality hit me that Jasmine has grown up and will be leaving home in a week! How the heck did that happen?

She is really, truly leaving. (I know this because the case of ramen from the pantry has disappeared.) She has such a wonderful adventure ahead of her. As hard as it is to say goodbye to our sweetie, we are so proud to see her stretch her wings and fly. She has so much potential. She is strong and funny and the sweetest girl you will ever meet. She loves people and is devoted and loyal to friends and family. She is wacky, independent, and makes no excuses for either. She is uniquely beautiful inside and out.

We will miss her so much. Thank God for texting and Facebook and free cell to cell calling (I think keeping in touch with our children is why God invented all of that—and it is not stalking!). And although technology will help, we will live hundreds of miles apart. No more little pecks on the cheek before she runs up the stairs to bed. No more watching HGTV together and critiquing the designs of Candace or David. No more sharing Mountain Dews from Taco Bell with two straws. How sad is that? (Come to think of it, that means more Mountain Dew for me! Cool.)

I know that God has an amazing plan for Jasmine. I pray that she invites His guidance, follows His leading, and finds contentment and fulfillment in her life. I pray that she leads a life that will stand as an example for her brothers, her friends, and her eventual children. I pray that she will never give up on the dreams God puts in her heart, that she will work hard when its time to work and play hard, enjoying every moment of life when it is time to play. And may she continue to throw on her polka-dotted rain boots and jump into puddles after every storm.

I love you, Jasmine. I will miss you more than you can know (mainly because you are leaving me in a house full of men—even the dog and cat are male)! Text me often.

Oh, gotta run, I’m finally off HOLD.

%d bloggers like this: