Thursday, May 25, 2017

More Struggle, More Tears, More Joy

Last day of Fifth Grade
Pulling away from the school after dropping Jackson off this morning, I cried. My older son (who I drop off second) asked why I was crying, then why I didn't cry like that when he finished 5th grade. Little stinker. First off, I did cry when I dropped him off, too. I cried like a baby, only there wasn't anyone left in the car to hear me and ask me about why I was crying. I will admit, though, it wasn't the same, and I don't think it will be the same when my younger child finishes 5th grade either. Why? The struggle.

Jackson started off his life in better shape than his brother and sister. My oldest was born with a low birth weight 6 weeks early. He struggled to catch up with his peers, but once he did, he took the lead and kept it. My daughter barely made it to full term, and had a rocky first few days, but she also caught up fast and hasn't slowed down since. Jackson was a big healthy baby born full term and sent home from the hospital within the first 24 hours. Physically, he thrived the first few weeks of his life, but that's where the differences flip. While his brother and sister caught up and passed their peers in almost every way, Jackson started falling behind. The struggle began.

The differences and delays started adding up. He wasn't reaching milestones. He wasn't talking. He wasn't walking. He hated being touched and held. You can read about the signs we saw and how we decided to seek and eventually received an autism diagnosis in another blog post of mine, but it was all different with him.

His food allergies and his autism often made school days a struggle. Allergic to corn, soy, milk and eggs, he could only eat my food, made from scratch. Most of his life, if I or a trusted family member or friend didn't make it, he didn't eat it. He had food texture and temperature issues on top of the allergies, so there were limits. I spent many late nights up cooking making sure he had safe healthy food he would enjoy eating.

He struggled socially, and his social issues got him in trouble often. He had trouble with focus and attention, personal space and boundaries. He didn't make those intuitive leaps the same way his peers did. Each situation was its own entity and did not carry over into other situations with other people.

He had multiple weekly therapies both in school and private. He had communication issues, processing issues, social issues. His teachers' and therapists' suggestions and observations shaped much of what we did at home. I think I came to rely on them as much as he did, and when he graduated out, I felt lost, like I had lost my own therapy in the process.

No automatic alt text available.
Kindergarten Graduation, 2011
For Moms with kids like this, there is no choice between fight or flight because flight isn't an option. So, you fight and you fight and you fight. Your whole identity gets wrapped up in this battle. It consumes you.

I fought hard to make his world safe. I fought to learn to cook things he could eat and enjoy. I fought for his education, to get him in the schools that were best for him. I fought for insurance coverage and Medicaid acceptance so he could get the therapies he needed. I fought to teach him how to learn, how to calm the storm of sensory information and filter out what he needed. I fought to teach him how to be a friend. I fought for the right medication, the right doctors.

I have fought battles for each of my children, but my other two didn't need me in the same way Jackson did. Jackson needed me, not so much to fight FOR him but WITH him, along side him. It's so easy to get caught up in the mom fight with Medicaid and doctors and teachers and therapists and administrators making sure he gets everything he needs, I forget that he's fighting just to be himself in this crazy world that isn't usually kind to those who are different.

Every step he has taken in this life, I feel like I took with him. The first step into school, we took together, and today we took the last step out of elementary school together. I hugged him outside and lost it. All the hard days. All the late nights. All the worry filled days. All the tear filled days. All the days filled with frustration. All the days I was sure I had failed him. All worth it! The memories and the lessons and the relationships we have made together on this journey are worth the struggle. Watching him work so hard, fight so well, overcome so many obstacles and become who he was meant to be, it was all worth the fight.

His struggle continues. It isn't really all that different than the struggle my other two face. Growing up isn't easy for any child, even though as a mother, I feel like it should be the easiest thing a child does. Jackson will face the same world his brother and sister face, but his differences will most likely stand out a little more than theirs. That makes him a bigger target for the ugly in this world to find.

This is where my struggle changes. I will no longer be fighting by his side in a measurable tangible way, at least not as much. My fight will be spent mostly on my knees asking the God who made him to sustain him through the next stage in his life. My fight will be fought behind the scenes encouraging him to trust the God who does not make mistakes. I'll be making sure he knows I want so much more than "normal" for him, and that his differences are what make him one of the (three) coolest kids on the planet.

My tears today didn't just come from a milestone reached. They came from a hard fought battle won. He made it! We made it! And, I could not be more proud of this child.

To God be the glory, without his choosing to give Jackson to me, I would not have known the depth of his blessing, his sustenance, and his joy, nor the size of the fight in this mother's heart.

Onward to middle school! But, first, Summer.

Monday, November 21, 2016

To Keurig or not to Keurig

The monstrosity on my counter
I realize this statement will likely make me a few enemies, but I'll say it anyway.

I hate the Keurig.

I don't know how long we've owned one, but I haven't used it one time. I see it on my counter and wish it wasn't there. I don't drink coffee. My husband doesn't really drink coffee either. So, why do we have one? Exactly.

I hate cleaning it. Anything I can't take apart and clean myself or run through the dishwasher, I don't feel is really clean. Cleaning solution run through? I bet that works like the jet cleaner I use on my jetted tub. I'm not drinking out of that for sure.

I hate the space it takes up on my counter. I hate cleaning around it. But, more than all that, I hate all the waste. I go through the trouble of separating recyclables out of my trash to recycle them for a reason. Bottles, cans, cardboard, paper, I want to reuse or recycle all I can. Filling my trash with those tiny cups makes me sad. They could at least make them out of recyclable material.

We pretty much just use it for hot chocolate and the occasional moment my husband needs a cup of coffee. I drink tea, all kinds of tea. I have an old fashioned kettle and a loose leaf steeper. I've been wanting one of those stove top milk steamers (which we could have bought three of for the price of that stupid Keurig) to do more authentic tea lattes, but can't justify it since I'm fine with regular tea most days.

The ingredients!?! I don't know about the coffee or what brands may be available, but the hot chocolate my husband prefers? Disgusting. Corn syrup solids, mono and diglycerides (trans fat), artificial flavor. When I make hot chocolate at home, I use real milk, sugar and Cocoa Powder. Drinking reconstituted chocolate flavored powder doesn't sound appetizing.

Clearly, I'm not a fan. Until....

I saw this on the tea isle.

I checked the ingredient label and wondered. Might it taste the same? I decided to put aside my hatred and try it.

I bought a box and felt guilty for the waste before I even opened it up, but told myself it would only be for those crazy mornings when there's no time for brewing tea.

The test.

I really wanted to like it. Chai tea lattes are one of my favorite things. I just couldn't. The ingredients are better than the hot chocolate, but it's still reconstituted dairy and sugar. It tastes like reconstituted dairy and sugar... with spices. It doesn't taste like the home brewed latte or the Starbucks version, not at all.

I can no longer say I've never used the Keurig. I gave it a try with one of my favorite drinks, but it isn't even close enough to the real thing for the convenience to outweigh the difference in taste. Does the coffee really come out as good as a home brew? I guess that's the deal. I'm not a coffee drinker. So, I just don't get it.

I love chai tea lattes. I love Tazo teas. But, I still hate the Keurig.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Let It Hurt, Let It Die

Ages ago, during the time in my life before children, my marriage began to fail (we're still together 14 years, three kids, an autism diagnosis and infinite amounts of mercy and grace later), and I sought counsel from a woman who had been through what I was going through and more. She told me many things that have affected my life profoundly, but the one that has resonated and echoed through my mind in every problem I have faced since, was this. "Don't run from the pain. It has a purpose. Let it hurt." At that point in my life in my foolish youthful independence, I did not fully understand those words or the wisdom behind them, but I do now.

Instinctively we seek a way to make the pain stop. A new relationship to ease the pain of a failing marriage. 'Venting' to anyone who will listen in order to mount ourselves an army of supporters to justify our pain. Rushing into big decisions like marriage or divorce just to feel proactive and on top of our pain. Seeking anything, even good things like obsessively researching the diagnosis we can't quite accept, keeping busy or serving others, anything that will bring us a little comfort.

This instinct helps us survive, but it doesn't let us thrive.

Thriving requires using the pain to learn about our humanity and our God. Thriving often requires that we not only let it hurt, but we let it die, as well.

In John 12:24 Jesus talks about what must happen to a grain of wheat in order for it to grow and bear fruit. It must die. If it does not fall to the ground and give up its 'seedness', its current state of being, it will never be what it was intended to be. It will remain alone and useless.

Alone and useless.

When I look back at my life and see the times of greatest suffering, some of the pain was often attached to an unmet desire or unfulfilled dream.

When I got married, I saw my life happily heading down the path to becoming a Godly accomplished woman, my own personal manifestation of what I had admired in other women of faith. The day my husband asked me for a divorce, I remember thinking, "This can't be happening. I'm 23. I can't be divorced at 23. God, I've made mistakes, but I've tried to live my life for you, Christian college, years of service. How could you abandon me now? Why did You let me marry him if he was just going to leave me? What happened to happily ever after?" There was plenty of real pain, pain over the wrongs committed and the abandonment of my spouse, but much of it was damage to my pride, to my dream of a fairy tale ending, to the life I felt I deserved.

Like every mother, I gave birth to a myriad of dreams and plans for my children long before I ever saw their face. The day I heard the doctor say "autism spectrum disorder," I found myself grieving as if he had just told me my son would die. Every one of those dreams for this child were shattered with that diagnosis and many things I wanted for my older son and the baby growing inside me at that time were now conflicted with the thought that they would be burdened with the care of their brother if something should happen to me and his father. Much of this pain was from shattered dreams and broken plans, but yet again, much of it was from my feeling like God was mishandling my life, like He had broken an unspoken agreement between us: I live for Him and he protects me from things like this, like an insurance policy.

The instinct to run from pain, seek an escape from it or a temporary salve for it, is natural, part of being human, as is clinging to our idea of what our life should be like, holding onto our dreams long after they've been shattered. These reactions to life and its inevitable disappointments help us survive when the pain overwhelms us.

The thing is, like the seed, we were made for more than just surviving.

Paul wrote that we who are in Christ have been crucified with Him. We are new creatures. Alive in Him and the new life He has given. We have been set free from the confines of a shell and have been given living, breathing, growing power. We are no longer earth bound. So then why do we remain underground, out of the sun, away from the life we were intended to live?

I believe, especially in my own life, we choose to avoid the pain and hold on to all our dreams and demands, we cling to the life we know and expect to receive. We blame the shell, the dirt, the way God made us. Dying to live doesn't come natural, and we blame that, too. We distract ourselves with 'seed' things, and convince ourselves that the dirt is where we belong. Only, we don't. We set out to accept it. Only, we can't.

Dying to live is one of those weird opposite concepts put forth in Scripture, things like strength in weakness, freedom in surrender, power in meekness, and it does not come easy or naturally. It is something we have to strive for. We have to allow Christ to live in and through us as we let the old self die and move toward the life he has called us to.

So, I want to offer a challenge going forward to myself and anyone who reads this. Stop running to the old self, the old dreams, and your former life. Stop living in the dirt. When the pain comes, don't run and hide, don't try to drown it out with busyness or impulsiveness. Embrace it. Allow the Holy Spirit to use it to kill the fear, the worry, the anxiety. Let him work. Let the pain work, and let those impossible expectations for yourself and your children die. Let the past knowledge of weaknesses and preconceived ideas about your abilities and of those around you die. The demands you put on your God as if He owes you something, let them die. Your ungrateful entitlement, let it die. Let your former self die. Then dump the dead weight, leave it in the dirt and reach for the sun. Grow in His love, mercy and goodness. Stretch out your new limbs and live the way He intended you to live. Not just surviving, but thriving.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lay Down the Sword and Pick Up the Cross

I teach an Elementary Sunday School class. This is not something I consider myself particularly good at. However, there was a need, and I stepped up to fill it. I feel nervous and ill equipped before class every Sunday, but often walk away feeling humble and grateful I get to be a part of these precious children's lives.

We taught through different Biblical figures talking about how God changes people. Recently we talked about Peter.

I love Peter. Reading about his life is so encouraging for this fumbling fool who desperately wants to be used but can't seem to get out of her own way. He's got some really amazing highs in his life like walking on water, writing part of the Bible, and being one of the first to preach Christ risen, but the pendulum swings just as far in the other direction with his impulsiveness, his need to correct Jesus, and his denial of Jesus in his most vulnerable time. Reading through John 18 (the text for our lesson), a truth stood out to me that I felt the need to blog. It's nothing new or even really profound. I've heard it preached and read it in books, but I just couldn't help but think scrolling through my social media feeds, it's something we have yet to fully grasp. This is a little more 'preachy' than I like to get on this blog, but the message is powerful and freeing.

Like I said, I identify with Peter. One minute he's walking on water to get closer to Jesus, the next minute he's cursing and insisting he doesn't even know who Jesus is. One minute I'm watching miracles happen before my eyes, and the next I'm hoping no one sees the miracle Jesus worked in me.

Have you ever read about the last night Jesus spent as a free man, and really thought about the details?
John 18:1-14
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 
3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 
4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 
5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 
6 When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 
7 So he asked them again, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 
8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go." 
9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." 
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 
11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?" 
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 
13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 
14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Look closer. Walk through it with me.

Judas and the band of soldiers and officers came armed with "lanterns, torches and weapons" (verse 3). Betrayed with a kiss is common vernacular in our society pertaining to that night when Judas kissed Jesus to identify him for capture, and while that did happen, it would appear from this text that Judas and his group of conspirators came ready for a fight.

Jesus wouldn't give them one. He stepped forward saying, "I am he." His boldness took them back. They fell to the ground (verse 6). Weapons have no power over the one who created the beings wielding them.

Every Christian knows the words Jesus spoke on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Have you noticed these words, though? "So, if you seek me, let these men go." Spoken to fulfill the words, "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." (Verses 8 and 9)

Peter had a sword (verse 10). Anybody else unsettled by that thought? A fisherman who may or may not have ever wielded a weapon before in his life was armed with a sword. Not exactly the picture I have of Jesus and his disciples. Nonetheless, Peter had a sword. Did anyone else have a weapon? Were they all ready to fight? Did they prepare themselves to defend their Savior as if they were the ones doing the saving?

To strengthen the hypothesis that Peter probably didn't have any idea what to do with that sword, he cut off a man's ear. Was he aiming for his head? His neck? His heart? I'm not exactly sure how you cut off an ear and only an ear with a sword, but I do know that these soldiers and officers came armed and ready for a fight. It looks possible that Jesus followers had armed themselves as well. Peter made the first move, but no one else was hurt. A battle did not ensue (verse 10). The words that come to my mind thinking of that moment are Jesus words from the belly of a ship being tossed by the sea, "Peace be still."

Jesus' rebuke to Peter wasn't harsh, at least not as harsh as the last one when he referenced Satan. It was just simply, "Put your sword into its sheath." (Verse 11) Jesus, being able to see hearts, thoughts and motives, he is very understanding of our humanity. He knew the anguish Peter was feeling, the fear and desperate need to protect this man he loved so much.

According to Luke (and only Luke), Jesus healed that man who lost his ear. Jesus spent his night praying, sweating drops of blood begging God for this cup to pass, for him to be able to avoid the torture he knew he would have to endure, and one of his last acts as a free man was healing one of the men who came to take him toward his death. "Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?" (Verse 11) His death wasn't useless suffering. He had a purpose and a plan for it. He had a plan for Peter, a plan for Malchus, and a plan for me. It all culminated in that cup he chose to drink.

That must have been a very desperate time for Jesus' disciples, though. They didn't fully understand what had to happen. They knew Jesus was the Messiah and God's Son, but he was also their Rabbi, their leader, their friend and their brother. They ate with him, walked with him, talked with him, and loved him. They could feel the growing threat of danger toward Jesus and toward them. Maybe that's why Peter armed himself with a sword. Ready to fulfill his words, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." (Luke 22:33) Maybe feeling like the battle was his to fight and not the Lord's, he prepared himself to save his Savior.

In verse 14 Caiaphas "advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people." Now, Caiaphas was trying to restore order and control, but that was exactly what Jesus was doing, dying for the people. ALL the people. No amount of censorship, persecution, torture or murder could stop the Gospel from spreading, and my how it spread, over continents and oceans and centuries to a 6 year old gentile girl in a little country church in a very young nation on a continent they didn't even know existed at that time.

Jesus didn't come as a King to amass an army to fight his battles for him. He needs no man to wield a sword on his behalf. He did not come to war with the human beings he created, but to deal the death blow to the real enemy, the one pulling all the strings in a desperate attempt to change his sealed fate or at least inflict as much damage as possible before he loses his freedom. That death blow would not come from a sword in a battle. It would come from the opposite; Jesus would lay down his life, let Satan have his moment, and in that sacrifice, provide a way for us to be restored, for ALL to be restored.

There's a lot of that in Jesus' life, a lot of opposites. The last shall be first, the servant shall lead, the lamb will conquer the serpent, blood can make you clean. Strength in weakness. Freedom in surrender. Power in meekness. Jesus came as a carpenter, a servant, a healer seeking the lost and broken to restore them to himself. He didn't send his followers out to destroy those who oppose him. He sent us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

This is what I hope you gather from this text. When we arm ourselves to fight a battle that isn't ours, when we strike with our swords to save the man who came to save us, we cut off the ears of those Jesus came to heal. They don't hear the Gospel. They don't see our fighting as bold and undying devotion to our God. They feel the pain from our blow and they bleed.

"Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one." I have lost not one. Not one.

My dear brother or sister, you cannot be lost. No one can take Jesus from you. You do not need to fear. He will not lose you.

This offense you have taken up, the fight you are fighting is not yours. Jesus doesn't need saving, but the people he has surrounded you with, they do. Desperately. You weren't meant to fight to save Jesus. You were meant to fight for those who need saving. You have been sent to love, to heal, to clothe, to feed, to share the Gospel and speak truth in love. Lay down your sword. Take up your cross, and follow Jesus. He will fight the battle for you, against the real enemy, and he will heal many ears as you turn your cheek, give your cloak, and walk the extra mile.

In panic and confusion, should they come with their weapons to take you by force — and if you believe the Bible, that day is coming, even for us Western Christians — a sword of metal will not provide any hope. The only weapon able to conquer a hatred like that is love.

I am living proof that there was more at stake that night than one man's life and ministry. Had Peter succeeded in rescuing Jesus, he would have derailed the entire plan. If Jesus had allowed his followers to fight a battle that was not theirs, we all would have lost him. How many precious souls are lost when we pick up our swords and start swinging in the dark.

Consider the real enemy. Consider the reason Christ came. Consider the call he has placed on your life. Consider the beautiful truth that the love he has for you is the same as the love he has for the soul who opposes you. Consider that your purpose isn't to win the argument but to win the soul of your opponent. Consider the cost of wielding a sword rather than extending a hand. Consider laying down your sword and taking up your cross.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Do More Than Be Silent

My draft folder is full. I have written many a post on current events only to decide it's better left unpublished. I struggle, wondering most if what I've written would be helpful, or if it would just stir the pot.

This last month, though, has been such a painful month. The shooting massacre in Orlando, the ISIS bombing in Baghdad with so little care expressed, and the African American men killed by police, so much pain, I find myself struggling again. Struggling with words. Struggling with the feeling that I need to say something. Struggling with the questions, "What can I say? What can I do?" I have done my best to profess my sympathies and concern in a personal way to those closest to me in these communities, but more and more I feel like I need to say something more public. In an attempt to be helpful, to at least choose not to be silent, I am offering these words to members of the African American community, the LGBT community and to the victims of ISIS in Baghdad.

I see you. I hear you. My heart aches for you. When I say I'm praying, it isn't just lip service. I mean that I have and will continue to tearfully kneel in intercession before my God asking him for healing and peace for your communities, asking him for justice and change in our country and our world, for understanding and direction in my life and in my community.

When you express your anger and disillusionment, your fear and lack of hope, your graciousness and love even in the presence of hate, I take it in, all of it. I consider every word and lay out my heart to be broken, my mind to be changed and my life to be given in service.

I would offer my shoulder, let me cry with you. I would offer my presence, let me stand with you. Let me hold your hand as you walk through the pain, and let me carry some of the burden. Let me pray with you and for you. I know my God loves each and every one of you, and I know he hears from heaven and intervenes.

He sends people, people like you, people like me, ultimately people like him, created in his image. He sends us to help each other, to learn from each other. Tell me your story and let me learn from you. I give my word, I will listen and hear you, and my silence will then have purpose as I absorb what you share and use it to do more than be silent.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Feeding a Broken Heart

My sweet potato casserole with both nuts and marshmallows.
In my Memaw's house, there was one cure for every ailment, love, and while that love may have taken on many forms over the years, it was usually expressed with food, all kinds of food. Holidays or just weekly dinners at her house, if she knew your favorite, it would be waiting for you at her table. Even if you were the only one in the house who would eat it, even if you protested her going through all the trouble, it was always there. If you were sick or sad, that called for special measures, and she pulled out all the stops. If you had something to celebrate, you could bet she would find a special food to fit the occasion.

Her recipe collection was extensive. She was always trying something new, testing another recipe on her all too willing subjects, the grandkids. I remember her talking about the failures she made, but oddly, I don't ever remember tasting one.

She put together a book of recipes for everyone a few years back, and my favorites are the ones in her own handwriting. We used to talk about the recipes in there, the ones she wanted to try, the ones I had tried. I called her as a new bride embarrassed I didn't even know how to make mashed potatoes from real potatoes. She laughed, told me what to do, and shared a couple stories about her cooking as a newlywed to make me feel better. I called her for holiday recipes when I wasn't able to make it home to her table for the meal. I sat and brainstormed with her when I learned of Jackson's allergies. I called her when I tried something new, just to share it with her. I loved talking with her about food. It was never a dull conversation, and more often than not, I walked away feeling more loved.

Sweet potato casserole in her casserole dish on her buffet table.
She used to tell me how proud she was of me, working so hard to cook for Jackson, making sure he had the best food possible. She used to say she didn't think she could have done it, which always blew my mind because I always thought she's where I got my need to feed. I heard similar words from others in my life, but her compliments meant the world to me because I knew food was her love language. I knew she was telling me she was proud of how I loved him.

She passed away in October, at 90 years old. This Thanksgiving, my family is scattered, but I know we all feel her absence. This Holiday in particular is hard because it's about food and family, exactly how you would describe her heart if you could only use two words, food and family. I had a few teary moments getting ready this morning, but as I prepared the sweet potato casserole, the dam burst. A flood of memories came to my mind, followed by a flood of tears.

It all came as I pulled out the casserole dish she gave me before she moved the last time. Her ability to cook had left her, and she wanted me to have some of her dishes. Today, reaching in, anxious to get it in the oven, I took one look and fell apart.

She didn't have a special recipe for sweet potato casserole, but she was the first person I called when I was trying to figure out my own. She said she liked the marshmallows on top, but Granny (her mom) liked the nuts until she couldn't eat them any more. I remember telling her, after I had figured it out, that I liked to do both, and then giggling with her about how that seemed like the perfect solution. I loved her giggle.

I'm grateful she gave me her casserole dishes before she moved. I'm also thankful for every recipe she left behind. They're like memories with taste and smell, like she's still here loving me even though she's gone. I know she's much happier now than when she was here stuck in that failing body, but I miss her so very much. And, I can't wait until we're feasting together in heaven, and I never have to tell her goodbye again.

Happy Thanksgiving, and a special prayer for peace and comfort if you have an empty seat at the table this year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Public Apology

So, reading back through my first paragraph,
I decided I was pretty much describing my Memaw.
She passed in October, and I miss her so very much.

You know those people who are on top of things, who always know what to say for every situation, the people who always give the best gifts with the best cards at the perfect times, those who organize their calendars and never forget important dates or commitments, the people you can drop in on and always feel welcome finding a neat house with something cooking or brewing, those people you know you can count on when you need them because they are just those kind of people? I'm not one of those people. I want to be. I really do, but I feel like I might have dug a hole so big, it might be easier to just keep digging and find my way to the other side of the world.

If there were a need, I think I might be able to teach a class on what NOT to say in certain situations. There's a running commentary in the back of my head of all the terrible things I've said to people. Dumb things at weddings, baby showers, even funerals. If I'm able to respond in writing, I'm much better, but you can't be in a hurry because I have to type it out and mull over it. And, let's not even talk about Facebook. Even though, technically, it's in writing, there's something about that medium that lends itself to really stupid comments, of which I think I might be in the running for the most stupid.

I am probably the worst gift giver alive, and I am painfully aware that it is NOT the thought that counts. I've seen enough polite smiles and heard enough insincere thank yous to know the truth about just how much the thought counts. I'm always thinking about people, praying for people, but when it comes time to show it in a tangible way like a birthday or wedding, it's bad. Really bad. When you're married to someone who needs the thought AND the gift, i.e. the thoughtful gift, it's just plain awful. Too often, if I don't know what to give, I don't give. Another reason it isn't the thought that counts. I can think about it all day long, but if it never materializes into a gift, then it's like I didn't think about it at all.

My calendar looks like a 4 year old sat down with a box of crayons and created a masterpiece. There's no room for error, but it happens every week. I forget something, some activity, some important date, and sadly the people attached to those activities and dates suffer. It breaks my heart. I promise, I usually remember, but it's often not until midnight or 5 am the next day. Then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to make it up to whoever or whatever I forgot, then I never get around to that either.

I think the last time I sent out a thank you note was my wedding. That's 13 years ago for those of you who don't know. I LOVE getting them. I know it's important. I plan every birthday or event to do better, but I just can't manage to pull it off. I've almost decided that the next time I send out invitations to an event, I'll just slip the thank you note into those. Be proactive, you know.

I crave order and neatness, but I usually end up with C.H.A.O.S. (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I love to cook and feed people. I love how the early church worked, food and fellowship, and I crave that in my own life. I have always wanted a home with an open door for anyone who needed a meal, a place to stay and/or a listening ear, but when you home school during the day and have one or more activities each night of the week with at least two activities on the weekend, you don't have room for a neat home and a home cooked meal not to mention a place at the table for the surprise guest.

I think the worst problem about being so busy and absent minded is the fact that I don't feel trustworthy or stable. It's in my nature to help and nurture people. I want so much to be that person you can call knowing you can count on me, and it hurts me to say I can't help.

I'm a mess. For real, and I'm always surprised at the people who still feel like I love them. I'm even more surprised at the people who really know me and still love me. Not that I'm unloveable, but the longer you know me, the more frustrating all my absent mindedness can get.

So, here's my public apology, all typed out and mulled over.

I'm praying for things to change, if not anywhere else but in my own heart. I want that running commentary of all the stupid things I've said to stop playing. I want to let go of all the failures and forgotten things and move on from here not trying so hard to get it all right. I want to really believe that praying isn't nothing. That sometimes it's enough to remember the people I love while I'm on my knees in communion with my God. I want to allow God to change how I view success and failure in my life. I want to accept the fact that I cannot work harder or do better, that I must rest in Jesus and allow him to make the difference in my life and in the lives of those I'm called to reach. As strange as it is, I want to believe He does know best. That I need to be still to be busy, slow down to go faster, and rest to get more done.

Help me, Lord Jesus.