Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Gift of a Daughter

I have two sisters and lots of girl cousins.  In fact, on my dad’s side of the family I am one of seven grandchildren; all girls except for the oldest.  On my mom’s side of the family I spent countless sleepovers and summer days playing with my three cousins – all girls.  When I first became pregnant I just knew our baby was a girl.  We decided (okay, my husband decided) that it was better to be completely surprised by our baby’s gender, but it just had to be a girl.  And when the time finally arrived, I’ll never forget the nurse saying, “Oh, what a pretty tiny girl face.”  (Our baby was in the posterior position and coming face up.)  But within seconds my “gut instinct” was quickly proven wrong with the announcement, “It’s A Boy!!”  And I immediately felt a slight panic.  Boy?  A boy?  What am I going to do with a boy!? 

That feeling faded in less than 30 seconds, and I feel in love with that tiny baby boy more deeply than I ever imagined possible.  I enjoyed every minute of those early days learning to be his mom, and I cherish the memories of those days.  I had a sense of wonder and amazement in my son’s delight over trucks, super heroes, balls, crashing things, and throwing things.  Our bond was so strong, and I never felt like I was missing out by not having a daughter.  A few years later, when I was pregnant with baby #2, I often thought it would be nice to have a girl, but it would be perfectly okay if I had another boy too.

My husband sweetly gave in, and with our second pregnancy we found out our baby’s gender as soon as we could.  We were thrilled when we found out we were having a girl!  Within in no time, we were surrounded by bows, frilliness and all things pink.  That was expected.  What was not expected was the frequency that people would remark, “Oh, a boy and a girl!  Now you have a complete family!”  Really?  Is having both a boy and a girl a secret goal that all parents have?  As young parents, we thought that notion was odd at best, but we didn’t care because we were delighted in having two, healthy, happy children…and of course, it didn’t hurt that we had “one of each.”  (But three years later I guess we unbalanced things a bit when our second son was born.) 

It didn’t take long to realize our daughter was very different from her brother.  For one, she didn’t see the need in prolonging snuggle time after a feeding.  When she was done – she was done.  She was also very quiet.  She didn’t babble excessively.  She didn’t talk much at all until she was 26 months old – right after we got back from our first trip to Disney World.  (Apparently, she was waiting on something worth talking about.)  And honestly, we were worried that our daughter wasn’t going to have much of a personality.  She was sweet and cute, but she didn’t laugh a lot or try to be funny.  It is almost as if she spent her first two years of life intently observing things and taking them all in.   

The hindsight of my daughter’s early years is an insightful foreshadowing of one common truth – it’s all in her timing.  She isn’t one to be coaxed in to things.  She doesn’t do things out of obligation; she does them from her heart.  In many ways, she is everything that I am not.  And I love her dearly for it.  She is not a naturally complaint child, but quite an opinionated one.  When she draws a line in the sand, be prepared for a battle.  She is tough, stubborn, spirited, and yet she is insightful, caring, and compassionate.  She feels deeply.  She can wrestle with the boys one minute and lovingly dress her dolls the next.  And if you were ever a fly on the wall in our house you might think she were the mother of our three year old, not me.  I am sure she brings a sense of softness to our family that her future sister-in-laws will be most thankful for.

This past year has been a tough one for my girl.  She is struggling learning to read, and it breaks my heart when I see an expression of self doubt come over her.  She is also having trouble breaking a bad habit of sucking her thumb.  She only does it when she sleeps, but oddly, she didn’t start this until she was five – just weeks before her grandmother passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Several months ago witnessing her insecurity was a much too frequent occurrence.  But recently, I’ve realized it is happening less and less.   And at the ripe old age of six, it is clear what an amazing woman she is going to be one day. 

A few days ago my daughter became upset over something.  Her dad hurt her feelings, and she was fuming.  (Did I mention she can also be a tad dramatic?)  With arms crossed, she was making sure he was aware of her anger.  It was evident that my husband was purposefully trying to be wise and calm with her.  But he could not break through her silent treatment.  And rightfully, she was sent to the corner for her disrespect.  I took my husband aside and quietly suggested for him to just hold her in his lap, tell her he loves her and… wait.  Being the jokester that he is he retorted, “Who are you all of a sudden?  Dr. Phil?”  I laughed heartily and gave an encouraging glance in her direction.  He took my advice and executed it beautifully.  Soon she was talking to him and sharing what had hurt her feelings, and they made up.  In less than five minutes she was happily running upstairs.  And watching their interaction made my heart sing – Thank you, Lord, for my daughter.  What a gift!

Friday, April 8, 2011

From Melancholy To Meaningful

I have been 'in a mood' the past few days.  I spent most of today feeling kind of melancholy.  A recurring theme I am battling lately is feeling unsatisfied.  I am unsatisfied with my messy house, piles of laundry, lack of organization, lack of time, etc.  Honestly, I've daydreamed a few times about how I would like to wake up, shower/dress, head in to work (whatever that would be), and spend my day feeling fulfilled and productive.  Of course, "work" would be something I absolutely love doing while being surrounded by the most delightful people.  Doesn't everyone have a job like that?

I am especially good at berating myself when I am feeling like this.  And I feel even worse (and ashamed) when counting all of my many blessings doesn't immediately set me free from my negative attitude.  Do you notice a pattern here?  I have used some derivative of the word "feel" five times before this sentence!  How did I forget it is not my right to feel happy, satisfied, passionate, or (fill in your own blank) on a daily basis?  God did not promise me that. 

But the Holy Spirit wove simple happenings in to my day to help woo me to a sense of perspective that I needed to remember.  (I know, I know, you can't wait to hear all about my wise revelation.  But first let me share with you some of the sweetness I experienced.)

Ds10 began his day on a mission to spend the night with his 83 year old great-grandmother.  He even called to ask her himself.  When I asked him what he was planning to do while spending time with our dear Nannie he informed me she is really good at Skip-Bo, and that they could play cards.  I thought that was pretty cool for a 10 year old!

Next, I find out that Ds3 was wearing a pull up.  Apparently, someone in our house convinced him to agree to this while I was out for a run this morning.  He usually screams at the very thought, so this was quite the big deal.  And the icing on the cake - he actually sat on the toilet four times today and had one successful attempt.  There is hope, yet!!

Dd6 was in a super creative mood, and she bounced, hopped and skipped her way through the day.  At one point she "scheduled" a doctor appointment for me that I "could not miss."  She asked me all kinds of medical questions, checked my shoulder, wrote me a "prescription" and scheduled a follow up appointment in three weeks.  She could teach a class on how to pretend.  It is an art that she has taught her brothers well.  Their many adventures in the world of imaginary keep us entertained for sure!

As I was driving back from dropping ds10 at Nannie's this evening, I was reflecting on the treasures of the day, and I didn't feel so melancholy anymore.  And my heart had opened up enough to remember it's not a bad thing to feel unhappy from time to time.  We each have a sense of longing that can never be completely fulfilled in this lifetime.  I frequently say that staying home with my children and homeschooling them is just as much for me as it is for them.  And I mean that.  It can be quite sanctifying!  But I know this is what I am supposed to be doing, even if it doesn't always feel like it.  So, here I am at the end of what started out as a not-so-good day, feeling very satisfied that it was a meaningful one!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Proof That God Does Have a Sense of Humor

Communion and the word 'humor' just do not belong in the same sentence.  Right?  While partaking Communion is a celebration in a sense, it is one of somber, reverent reflection and gratitude for Christ's ultimate sacrifice.  It is quite beautiful and moving.  I am fortunate to belong to a body of believers that regularly offers a Communion Service.

Last month the Communion Service was flowing as it normally does.  My husband and I were walking back to our seats with the elements.  (In our church each person takes a small plastic cup).  As I am sitting and praying I realize my husband is fidgeting a bit.  Then he gets up and walks over and takes a tissue from a nearby Kleenex box.  In my mind I am thinking, "Wow.  He is really getting emotional over this."  Okay, so my thoughts were not that grammatically correct.  I actually thought, "Man, he is tore up."  (If you didn't already know I am from the south does that thought/comment clue you in a bit?)  Well, it turns out that his Communion cup had a hole it in, and the grape juice had been leaking out all over his hands, (and even the seat) while he was trying to pray!  He had needed the tissue to clean it up.  Afterward we laughed about it, shared it with our small group a few days later, and that was it.  A cute memory to store and retrieve later.  We had no idea how soon that would be!

Flash forward to our Communion Service this past Sunday.  Honestly, I had already forgotten about the incident from just several weeks earlier.  Once again the service seemed to be flowing just as we have come to expect and appreciate.  We made our way back to our seats with the elements, and I happened to glance over in my husband's direction.  And what do I see?  Grape juice - all over the place.  Seriously!!  It was on his hands and both legs of his pants!  I look at him, he looks at me, and we both share this wide eyed look that is screaming, "No, way!  This is not happening again!"  Then it started.  He began laughing (quietly, of course)...and then I started laughing (yes, still quietly).  It was that kind of laugh where you are shaking all over and trying everything within you to stop, but you just can't.  My mind was racing with all sorts of self commands and questions:

STOP laughing.

We can not laugh at a time like this!

What will people think?

Am I dreaming?

STOP laughing.

This is not funny (Okay, I was trying to convince myself it wasn't funny.)

How on earth could this have happened, AGAIN, to HIM?

Being the good wife that I am I knew I had to somehow gain my composure.  You know how it is in this kind of situation.  When two or more people are silently laughing uncontrollably, trying to prevent any sound from erupting, at least one person has to somehow find a way to immediately stop the ever growing cycle.  And I did.  I don't know how, but I did.  And I did not dare give in to any temptation to see if my husband was having the same success.  Then I prayed, "Lord, you obviously have a sense of humor because you allowed this to happen.  Thank you so much for your sacrifice.  Because of it we can enjoy your gifts of joy, happiness and well,...laughter.  I love you.  Amen."

Whew.  I made it.  I was relieved to have somehow gotten through the experience with some sense of spirituality in tact.  And you know...I honestly felt His sweet presence.  I think it is human nature to explain the unexplainable.  And I am not so foolish to think I can figure out the Almighty.  But, considering the fact that for the first time in my life I am truly learning that I can not earn His grace by my "good works," maybe He was trying to remind me that it was okay not to do something the "right way."

(We later found out this also happened to another church member this past week!  So, the church is going to toss out the faulty cups and order new ones.  But don't worry.  My husband kept his cup to show our small group this week.  They are not going to believe it!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Perfect Day

The morning started out like a perfect Saturday morning should.  I slept until 8:00, enjoyed a little one on one time with dd6, as ds10 and ds3 were still dreaming away, while my husband called offering to take all three kids out to breakfast when he got back from his long run.  Oh, and the sun was shining too!  After the stressful week I’d had the thought of having just a little time alone was enough to make me feel giddy inside.  Just an hour or two of  quiet, time to think – that really appealed to me!  Once the kids found out daddy was taking them to breakfast the house erupted in excitement and joy.  You know, the kind that you just love to watch…pure, kid happiness.

Ds3 couldn’t wait for me to help him get dressed.  You would think my next discovery was one to celebrate.  Not so quick.  I realized his diaper was dry – completely dry.  But my heart dropped.  You see, this child is trying to win the award for the most difficult child to potty train – EVER.  And when he wakes up totally dry, once he “lets it go” (which is usually an hour or so after he wakes) his diaper is immediately flooded and leaks with the slightest amount of pressure – falling, sitting, mommy unknowingly picking him up, etc.  I knew he could not go with daddy and risk that happening while sliding down the red tunnel in McDonald’s play area.  His dad and siblings would be mortified if it did.  I can just hear the screams from the other children in the play area now.

So, I lovingly and calmly announced, “Oh buddy, you are dry.  Let’s go try to potty.”  And then what I was expecting became a reality.  He said a line I have heard more times than I can count – literally.

“No, mom.  I don’t want to.”

“But come on, sweetie.  You won’t be able to go with daddy if you don’t pee-pee first.”

Tears, screams and a few stomps followed that comment.  Then he was in a full on fit.  Once again I found myself doing everything I could to convince him to try, but it was no use.  I gave up convincing, and he gave up screaming (but only to go back to his bed and pout).

My previously giddy mood was not so giddy anymore.  And there went my chance to  have some quiet time to pray/read and go for a run before the forecasted 18 – 20mph winds hit that afternoon.  And then I began to pout.  “Lord, this stinks.  I really needed a break this morning.  It was what I needed.  And now I am here with this increasingly frustrating child while the others are out having a good time!”  Ugly, isn’t it?  But that’s how I felt.

Then it hit me.  (One of my favorite bloggers calls it a “spirit tug.”)  I saw that I was about to walk down the path of self indulgent pity.  I hate it when I do that.  And it is something I do too often.  Oh, how ashamed I felt.  Frequently, I am most concerned with my happiness and things going my way than I am with walking with the Lord and allowing Him to lead the dance.  So, almost as soon as I had allowed my circumstances to effect my ‘happiness,’ I decided to just go with what God had planned for my day instead.  And in case you are wondering, that kind of thinking is not the mental default setting for a classic type A/first born child like me.  My reward?  I was serenaded at breakfast by the cutest three year old belting out “Jesus Loves Me” followed by him asking me if my shoulder was “all better” and then a sweet kiss.  Maybe I am beginning to learn that my definition of perfect and His definition are not quite the same.  But I choose to believe He knows best.


I love the word grace.  I love how it sounds, how it can be said with little effort, and even how it looks written in cursive.  But most of all, I adore the very meaning of the word:  grace – a gift, undeserved favor, mercy; available to all.  Until recently, I thought I knew all about grace.  But now I see I am only on the brink of understanding and accepting this truly wonderful gift.  So, this blog is merely my attempt to process my journey of grace and the life that God has given me.  (Disclaimer:  I know nothing about blogging and have a lot to learn!)  At times it may be serious, funny, boring, self-indulging, but hopefully, interesting.  Being a wife of 15 years to the love of my life and a homeschooling mom to three precious kids will certainly provide a lot of material!  Whether you are just beginning to experience grace or embraced it long ago, I invite you to come along with me as I share my journey.