Category Archives: Gratitude

New Things Coming

It has been a long time since I have written.  Ironically enough, it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to write more often.  I’d give you my goal, but then I would really be accountable and don’t ever want this to feel obligatory.  I have so much in my head and on my heart to share though, but also on that list of resolutions was spending a special moment each day with each of my kids, really seeing and loving them, and my husband, being just a little more intentional and attuned.  Also, getting more sleep, which makes that previous goal of mine so much more fun and me so much more likable.  So, as with e-mail and most other forms of communication that either gets done while I ignore my family, or compromises my need for sleep, my blog too has fallen by the wayside.  But the season has been good – only wish I had had time to write more about it.

 

I am slowing down and being more intentional in many other areas of life as well, and this being a piece of life that has given me such a meaningful and creative outlet, I consider it a piece of my self-care and a pursuit of personal interest I value.  So, as I prepare to launch in soon with some new ideas I have brewing for my blog, I thought I’d share a poem that was very moving to me.  I just finished presenting at a marriage retreat with my husband called “Cherish” and am preparing to encourage moms to express their heartfelt love and gratitude to their partners’ and children on Valentine’s Day, it is on my heart that we consider each day how we can live truly treasuring the ones we love, that have been given to us as such a gift, if only for a season.  Relish every moment.  Enjoy…

 

In Blackwater Woods
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~ Mary Oliver ~

Streams of Sunlight

The rains did come. I woke in the middle of the night with the most horrible migraine and needed to take the medication that I hate to have to take if I had any hope of caring for my children the next day. (sidenote: I don’t like to take medication, I’d rather remedy the source. I could give you the laundry list of natural and western medicine assessments and remedies I have pursued over the last 15 years, but why bore you? They go 3 generations back and magically go away with menopause, something to look forward to I guess)

So it was a slow morning while I waited for my pain to dissipate. But we played inside and had a special guest to tea until us Seatteites couldn’t stand it any longer and headed outside to play in the drizzle. We played my 5 year old son’s favorite games, which is anything with a ball or a frisbee, but a round of baseball and soccer kept us smiling until the drizzle turned downpour. We were so soaked and cold that a warm bath and cozy nap fixed us up well. By afternoon the clouds were clearing and the sun was making it’s way out. I ended the day talking and laughing, and reading Anne of Green Gables with my 7 year old daughter until way past her bedtime.

By morning the brightness and warmth had returned. I smiled at seeing my daughter cozied up in the windowseat reading Pippi Longstocking for most of the morning.
I laughed as I patiently taught my determined 20 month old to blow her own bubbles until she no longer put the wand to her lips to eat soap. I reveled in childhood wonder as my son caught small eels and crabs on the beach in his ocean water filled bucket just as I had done with little frogs at my childhood lake cabin.

By midday we said goodbye to the last of our summertime guests at our Salmon Fishing Lodge and the work of ending began. At dinner we talked about our favorite memories from the summer. I cut potatoes and one slice looked like a heart. It resembled the luck I feel when I find a rare heart-shaped rock on the beach for my kitchen window collection. Through small everyday moments of life, the problems and frustrations that were clouding me faded. They are not gone, and at the risk of appearing fickle as the weather, I must admit that the sun shone brighter than the issues of the day. I’d say they were “God-sightings” if I were encouraging my children to see blessings in their day. But I believe God can be seen and is in all things, even in our trials. It is I that rise and fall with the tides of circumstance, much as I seek to be steadfast and strong for Him. The real strength is always in Him. But I do appreciate the sun, the light moments in life, and I will soak it in and say “thanks be to God” for each bit of it.


Goodness abounds

I will soon tell the more detailed story of what I have been through the past couple of days in having this miscarriage. I have also been writing the story in my mind that will need to be shared of this little one’s happy story, of 8 short weeks of believing in this miracle of life and all the wonder and love of those days, before the story fades into facts and figures and a passing acknowledgment that I am a 3 time member of a club I wish I did not belong to.

But before I get to that, I have to share of just one beautiful moment that makes all this hard stuff fade into the background, like the bits of dark cloud that give the slightest contrast to a glorious spray of color and light of a summer evening’s sunset. Without those clouds, the colors would not seem so bright, so brilliant, so warm. They just wouldn’t.

It was a good day. They are getting better one by one as real life creeps back in, and I begin to forget, for brief periods, that just a week ago I was living a completely different reality, basing every move and life plan on the new life that was to join us; the home we chose to live in, the places she would go and fill and fit in our lives. I had already begun making room for her as she was making room in my body. (My belly had grown so large, so fast, and so quickly it is gone, just gone).

Tonight I began to worry again about normal stuff of life (I remember the shock of “real life” creeping back in after huge loss, and how counterintuitive it felt to how we should really live Philippians 4:5, Matthew 6:21- 34)- And as the worry seeped back in as fog slowly moves in seemingly unnoticed until I realize I’ve lost some vision and the world appears more gray. Loss is sad and hard and starkly painful, but the hovering gray of to-do’s and unimportant tasks is a far worse on a life.

Too tired to do any of it, I snuck into my kids’ rooms to do that thing we mother’s do, check that they are still breathing and give one last kiss and prayer before going off to bed. With my littlest, my baby girl who walks and knows words and puts shoes and a coat on when she decides she is ready for an outing, is still so very little. (Even though the spacing of my second set of children would have been the exact same as my first – I loved the symmetry of that – I would look at my 16 month old girl and think I was crazy to have another baby, as she is still just a little baby herself). Next to her crib I stepped up onto the foot rest that allows me to heave myself up and over the railing enough to get my face close up to hers and give her a big, warm, silent kiss on the cheek. Her sweet baby smell, her fluffy wisps of hair, the velvety softness of her skin was more than intoxicating. My senses were overwhelmed and consumed by her and there was no doubt in my mind, in that moment that is always there to be had, that there is so much goodness in this life. So much, so good.


Boy on the Brink

I took my two oldest children to a middle school performance of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe tonight to cheer on a kindergarten aged family friend who had a role in the play.  We sat near the back on the right hand side where the chairs angled inward so that the end seat had the best view up aisle to the stage.  This is where my 4 year old son sat with his 6 year old sister between us.  He turns 5 in just a few more weeks.

As he sat mesmerized by the show, I was mesmerized with him.  In a million wonderful, sometimes exasperating, full-of-life moments this baby of mine has become a little boy and is on the brink of that full blown big kid stage where R’s and L’s are pronounced with clarity, carrying him on my hip is a short-lived feat of supermom strength and toddler impulsivity is making way for calculated reasoning.  While a game of baseball or a star-wars-style sword fight would be his favorite mode of play, magic and make-believe still top his list of worthy pastimes.

The story unfolded on the stage and I glanced over at my sweet boy, too far away to hold his hand or wrap an arm around his shoulder. I took in his joy as a sentimental observer.

The adventure of the 4 siblings and the magical animals of Narnia, the dilemmas faced, the dramatic climax, and celebratory resolution, all kept his attention throughout the two-hour, past-his-bed-time performance.  He practically jumped out of his seat to shout “hooray” a few times, but mostly he sat leaned forward on his chair, feet dangling above he ground with his hands folded tightly, prayer-like, in front of his chest under a big grin.  His eyes never turned away from the action.

I was enchanted too, but by a far more amazing story of a little boy’s life.  I wanted to capture and keep him like this forever.  It felt symbolic that I couldn’t quite reach him to snuggle him into my arm and share his joy.  He was having his own experience, as he is in so many ways already in life.  I knew we would do the play-by-play talk we always do after a special event on the way home, but I would never fully know what was in his head all that time.  The enactment of this great story originally penned by C.S. Lewis was weaving itself into the fabric of his thinking and feeling as all great forms of art do to us in life.

With a baby in the picture now, I’ve been thankful for my son’s abilities and burgeoning independence.  He was slower to say “I do it” than my oldest daughter was and there were times I lamented his whiny “you do for me” as he sat capably choosing to stare helplessly at a pair of socks just past his pudgy bare feet.  With two children not quite two year apart, self-reliance was a sanity producing cause, but tonight I wanted to stop all that progress and hang on to my little boy.  I love him so very much that I don’t want to think about the day when he will no longer need me for so much of his care.

It is a such a strange thing we take on as moms.  We give our bodies and then all the physical and emotional energy we can muster completely over for the care and love of the most dependent animal on earth.  And then slowly over time, their need for us unravels to reveal what we hope will be a capable human being.  Then, before either of us could possibly be ready, we are to launch them into the world, out of our careful sight to experience and endure whatever comes their way.

My son’s name means “Vigorous” or “Battle Chief,” a little more intense a meaning for a name than I would have probably gravitated toward.  Yet my body began laboring and bleeding 8 weeks too soon when pregnant with him putting me on bed rest for a while and introducing fear into conception.  So this meaning for his name became a well-fitting prayer for him to hold on and grow in strength and vigorousness.  Plus, he was active and wild in there, so it fit.

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe had come out in theaters that winter of my 2nd pregnancy.  With a year and half old toddler at home, it was a privilege to see it on the big screen on a rare date night with my husband.  I remember the climactic battle scene when the eldest brother Peter led the charge to save Narnia.  He did so with courage and integrity.  He had been a gentle, kind boy up until that point of the story and I was moved by the strength of character he showed in boldly following a call to action.  I caught a vision for how this name that meant “Battle Chief” could personify my sweet son of Adam.

After the play, on our drive home I told my son this story of his name and it’s meaning.  He smiled and I could see the stories playing out in his mind, the one I described and the ones he was conjuring up.  He is an infinite pool of imagination and energy.  With a fully formed story of dragons and Knights and magical lands far away, he’ll often race through the house with his cape flying behind him, foam sword poised and ready and pause near me to say “I’m off to save the day!”

“You go for it!” I cheer with a smile, and know that he will indeed change the world.

Lord I pray that you will guide my son and that your love will always feel present to him.  That he too may lead with courage and with kindness.  That he will be true to the calling you place upon his heart and will become everything you had in mind when you created him.  Thank you that he is mine too and I get to be a witness to all this.  Amen


Crumbs

Sometimes, sometimes, it is enough to just do the mundane chores of the day.

I returned to the sink tonight to wash a few more dishes for the umpteenth time this day, the 4th return this evening.  I’m on my own with my husband out of town and I just want to get every last dish washed before falling into bed, to start fresh tomorrow with one area of my life complete.

I am exhausted, falling asleep while I cuddled with my kids.  This long day follows a long night with a coughing boy and a wakeful baby. I hear all the sounds at night.

As I squeeze in every last plate and each small cup to the over-full dishwasher and open the lunch boxes to pull out remaining bits of food from eco-friendly travel containers that must be washed each day to be ready for the next, my thoughts went to the places where my children’s lives are lived; the playground and the lunchroom (did they laugh and eat well?), to our dinner table (did they feel loved and full?), to the days’ stories and smiles, and bits of nourishment we offer one another in everyday moments.

I am overcome with gratitude for these leftover crumbs, these remainders of my children’s day that let me know that their bellies were full, that they took life in and were fed, cared for.  It is one reason I exist.

The sounds of them breathing deeply, peacefully asleep, safe, alive and beautiful, in the background of my running water and quietly placed silverware, their soft skin still warming my cheeks, I breathe deep, knowing, it is all so very good.