Friday, March 25, 2011

A Picture of Faith


She has prayed for her. This I know. This I feel.

Brooklyn must have known it too. Their connection was real. I saw it. They felt it.

So much Faith in that creased face, in those innocent eyes.

A beautiful union of wisdom, hope.

Devotion holding tight to complete Trust. Trust grounded by dedicated Devotion.

Five generations coming full circle to illustrate all He has done. All He can do.

All I hope to be.

Friday, March 11, 2011



So the other day Jeff and Emma were having "a thing." Ya know, "a thing" that involved yelling, stomping, and a whole lot of crying. Emma was clearly in the wrong, and Jeff was keeping his cool...for the most part. He ended up leaving the room, totally frustrated.

As I listened to Emma continue to cry in her room and watched Jeff glare at me with that "I didn't sign up for this" look, I simply said, "She probably just needs a hug."

At first, he looked at me as if I was crazy. She was out of control...kicking, screaming, sobbing over wanting him to read "just one more book." But after he had time to digest what I said, he got up, walked into her room, and I heard the crying stop.

A few minutes later, he walked out and said, "You were right. She's asleep."

Now, this isn't to say I always have the right answers, and I certainly don't make a habit of hugging away the problems around here, but sometimes when things are spinning out of control and you don't know what else to do, a hug goes a long way. For everybody.

And it got me thinking. Really, isn't that a better way to approach life? Sometimes it is unfair and all we want to do is kick and scream and sob. Heck, sometimes we need to do all that. But most of the time, what we really need to do is embrace it. Grab the life that has been given to us and just live in it, dance in it, and make the most of it.

And you know what? That is definitely the kind of life I want for me. For my marriage. For my girls.

If you haven't noticed, things have been a little heavy around here lately. Too heavy. Somewhere in the midst of shunts and the everyday chaos that is motherhood, my focus got skewed. My perspective clouded.

So I have been making some changes. Real changes that are making life more manageable, more enjoyable. So far, I like the differences I am seeing, and better yet, I love what I am feeling.

Sure, some spring weather would make things even better, but I know that is just around the corner. For now, I'm just going to snuggle in my robe, enjoy the warmth of my coffee, light a yummy candle, and wait for the flowers to bloom.

Friday, March 04, 2011

That Night

One year ago today was that night. I actually had to look up the date, but I knew it was coming. I could smell it in the air; I could feel it.

I've been wanting to write about it for a while now, but never really had the chance. When the opportunity arose to audition for this show, I decided it was time to get it on paper.

Unfortunately, my piece wasn't chosen for the show, but I know I was meant to write it...if only for me.

So although I am in a pretty good place right now today I still wanted to post this piece on the very day it happened. Perhaps to prove to myself just how far I've come in a year, or perhaps to further the healing. I'm not quite sure.

Whatever the reason, I need to post it...if only for me.

Inside Out

It was the night my heart broke. Shattered in fact. Sure it had been broken before, but this was different. The pieces were smaller, the breaks much too complex for complete and total restoration.

A new heart would have to take shape, would have to beat in spite of the cracks. Cracks that would never quite heal, but yet, were never meant to heal. This new heart, this broken vessel, would find a way to beat harder, stronger, better. After all, a mother feels from the inside out—from the day her baby starts to form inside of her until the day her baby has babies and the emotion only grows deeper. For a mother, there is a sixth sense that is all about feeling, but has absolutely nothing to do with touch.

I remember what I wore – my favorite peasant maternity top that made me feel beautiful and Bohemian and all sorts of glow-y. What I made for dinner – a warm pot of chicken cacciatore that would never quite taste as good as I hoped it would upon our return home. The slightest hint of spring in the winter air that persuaded me to leave my leather gloves in the car.

And the bounce of my four-year-old’s almost-curly waves as she skipped up the sidewalk into the entrance of the ultrasound facility.

“Do you think it’s a girl, Mom? What do you think, Daddy?”

She was so excited, our soon-to-be “double big sister.” I pretended to be. This was our third child, our surprise. I was only playing along with the find-out-the-sex game to appease my husband and our two daughters. I honestly didn’t care. I just wanted assurance that everything was okay. There was no reason to believe it wasn’t, but there were nervous whispers; whispers my head kept pushing aside, convincing my heart that it was just third-child paranoia.

But nonetheless, my heart was jumpy that day, perhaps anxious for the reformation it was about to endure. As the first image revealed a squirmy little baby, the tears started to fall and my emotions started to take over.

A feeling close to relief spread throughout my body, but the tears remained steady. “Must be the hormones,” I nervously joked to the technician.

She was chatty, the technician…until she wasn’t. I tried not to notice. Emma was getting wiggly and starting to lose interest. I could see the beating heart on the screen overhead; this was real, everything was okay…

until it wasn’t.

“Turn this way. No, this way. Wiggle your belly like this. Again. Again. Again. Okay, I’ll be right back.”

The doctor then came in, a middle-aged woman whose face told me she too was a mother.

She moved the scanner over my swollen belly and looked me straight in the eye, mustering up something deep within. “There is a problem with this baby,” she said gently.

I saw her hand touch my leg, but all I felt was a gut-wrenching pain from somewhere deep inside my soul. A familiar, but stronger pain that had nothing to do with me but had to do with the helpless life I carried. An inside, out pain that only another mother could possibly understand.

Through the darkness, I watched as my husband processed the information, his face growing white than red, twisting and awkwardly contorting into an emotion somewhere between utter confusion and total understanding. Another pain grew within me.

I saw Emma’s innocent eyes watching, watching, and I noticed her jittery feet began to dance faster. Another pain emerged.

My heart was already broken at this point; my soul aching as it desperately tried handle all of the emotions, all of the pain.  None of which was my own.

Not yet.

Spina Bifida. Open Defect. Nerve Damage. Paralysis. Fluid in the Brain. Cognitive Challenges. 1 in 1,000.

The words were swimming round and round the room, on the outside, trying their hardest to penetrate, but it was too soon for that. The pain had taken over the inside. My baby. MY baby. How could this be happening to MY baby?

That night, within the safety of my bed, the pain found its way to the outside. The tears and cries lasted all night long, until the inside strength provided by my Savior rose with the sun, taking over my outside and enabling me to begin a new journey, one that was planned long ago.

In the days and months to come, those swimming words would penetrate. On the outside, a belly was growing and preparations were being made. But the real changes were happening on the inside. A beautiful life was forming for the first time, but another was forming for the second.

With every surge of pain, a mother was learning how to love deeper, live fuller, and appreciate each and every blessing. Like a magnet, the crumbled heart pieces found the space where the love pulsed deep and, slowly, built a new home. This new creation was now beating for new reasons, reasons that not only held the broken pieces together, but formed them into a shape far more beautiful than the original.

The pain also found its proper place inside; a place my heart and soul agreed upon; a place I am allowed to visit when I need to be more than a mother caring for a child with special needs, but when I need to be human.

While the reason for my pain is different, I know I am no different than any other mother who feels for her child. The mother who forces her feverish infant into a lukewarm bath at 3am. The mother who watches her toddler get rejected for the first time at the playground. The son that doesn’t make the team. The daughter whose heart has been broken. Their pain runs through our veins, takes over our organs, and provides grief stronger than we ever wanted to feel. Pain that breaks our hearts, turns us inside out, and never leaves us the same.

But it is the pain of motherhood that makes us better mothers, and even more so, better people. A confusing love-pain mix that gives our lives purpose far beyond motherhood and slowly uncovers our true self. A self that is in fact not broken, but reformed, reshaped, renewed, and wonderfully made—from the inside, out.