Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why I am thankful

I have one of the most beautiful marriages I can imagine. Yet, despite the deep love of my truest and best friend, we still have our share of problems. Even we are not exempt. Of course, like anyone else, we have our minor irritations and arguments which surface from time to time. We laugh that we seem to have an annual "blow up", wherein every last wrong or ill feeling comes to a head, following some minor occurance - "the straw the breaks the camel's back" so to speak. Unfortunately, we cannot seem to predict when or where, other than it is typically time alone together - time we might have looked forward to for weeks - time with high expectations on both sides. Last year, it was our anniversary trip - which included two days - one of the best of the year, and one of the worst - all in one weekend. This year's volcano, was preceded by a wonderful weekend at my parents, but was also followed by a fantastic weekend at the beach with some of our dearest friends......and by then we were restored, fully able to relax and enjoy the time together - back to being the intimate couple we typically are.

The most popular American poet of the 19th century, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882) wrote the following:

"There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together”

I'm not sure I entirely agree with Mr. Longfellow. I can see where this could be true, human emotions are a powerful and confusing things. However, it seems what is truly lacking in this is someone to truly listen. Recently, our Bible study has been covering the book of James - one of my favorites. One of the things which has most come to my heart from the study is the concept of listening. True listening seems to go far beyond hearing, but encompasses understanding another's heart, their circumstance, their past..........watching and waiting with patience to see them emerge from the shell of who they portray themselves to be, from behind all of those walls we each build around our deepest vulnerabilies, dreams, and desires. We are each created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made with so many things to contribute, so many ways to love, so much to offer another. Yet, so frequently, we shy away from both the true listening....and the true offering of self. Why is this? It seems so self defeating. Why do we seek to pull into ourselves, to shut our doors, to shut others out? Is life intended that we all sit in our own little huts, closing off to the world that which we were created to be? I would speculate that we don't often "listen" to others because we are so focused on protecting our own boundaries, making sure there are no cracks in the walls of our own fortress. Truly listening, means opening yourself to another - offering yourself also as vulnerable, while allowing another to share his or her own.

I believe this is why I am thankful. In all of these thoughts, I realize that my husband Jason and I don't leave much room for walls. "Listening" is important to us. There is nothing on earth we hold more dear than the sacred bond we share as husband and wife, confidants and encouragers, lovers and best friends. When a wall of any sort begins to build, we smash it down (hence, the little arguments). Our annual "blow up" is probably like some sort of spring cleaning, where we go around and knock out each and every possible cobweb that may have crept in during the past year......back in the trash, back on the table - all vulnerabilities laid bare before us. Those vulnerabilities are then tenderly cared for by the other. It hurts every time - sometimes it hurts deeply. But every time, with God's help, we have emerged closer, stronger - our relationship richer, deeper, and more secure. It is this bond which allows us to share our love so freely with others - with our children, with our friends. Would that everyone allow themselves to taste such joy - knowing it comes with pain and trials, but also that it is the most beautiful treasure one could ever know. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17

All earthly things pass away eventually. While it brings tears to my eyes to even write this, it is possible I won't always have my Jason beside me. My heart's deepest prayer is that I will have him by my side until we are both old and grey - and die together side by side in our sleep. Maybe God will honor that prayer. I will continue to pray it with all of my heart. However, I have also seen many dear couples separated by death after many years of marriage; couples who are far beyond Jason and I in their devotion and love for each other. What then? Does life's purpose come to an end? Are we left alone? Surely not....

I am reminded in my musings that there is One who does not disappoint, does not fail, does not put up walls against us, One who knows our deepest hurts, fears, and vulnerabilities. He is the ultimate listener......our Creator and Heavenly Father. As we build relationships with each other here on earth, we must not neglect to include Him...."And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. Yet, a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Sunday, July 5, 2009

This Man

For those that know my Jason, I'm sure I don't need to explain much about this picture, though it will forever remain in my heart.

This was one of the few weekends we had set aside to be home for the summer. With many hundreds of things to do around the house and in the yard just to keep up with the hot weather, much less make any progress on our various remodeling projects, Jason was raring to go at the start of the day. Yet, he set aside time to work on a couple of projects for me, such as bringing in the air conditioning unit and setting it up.

A couple of hours into the day, our little Emet fell down the stairs. Jason dropped everything he was doing, and from that moment on became the keeper of our little hurting child. After a trip to the Urgent Care department, x-rays on his spine and skull indicating no damage, they sent us home with instructions to watch him carefully. Jason spent the rest of the afternoon with his little Emet, laying on the couch and holding his boy. Emet has a special place in his heart for Papa, and none other would do. As long as his Papa was there, he was comforted. Jason never once complained. He was just there for his son.

When Emet finally became a bit more active, we noticed him favoring his left arm and shoulder. After a few additional exams, Jason found that his collar bone was broken. We'll be taking him back to Urgent Care in the morning for treatment. Mercifully for both Jason and Emet, he fell asleep in his crib - at least for the time being.

"Love is like a friendship caught on fire.

In the beginning a flame, very pretty,

Often hot and fierce,

But still only light and flickering.

As love grows older,

Our hearts mature

And our love becomes as coals,

Deep-burning and unquenchable."

Bruce Lee

My heart matured today, and many more coals were formed within me. What a gift God gave to me. This I know. This I know.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Time for the Now

For those who have followed my blog for a while, you will see a recurring theme of my personal struggle to let go of details and order, and go with the now. One of the reasons I have not blogged more since February is my need to “capture” every detail, in order, not missing even one. Needless to say, as the hourglass continues to pour, the amount of time it would take me to catch up on the precious details of daily life and those moments of joy increases exponentially until I feel absolutely overwhelmed. Thus, I do nothing.

So, here I sit, having decided to move on and leave those precious details to the past. Life is fleeting, is it not? As an adult who is not around children, it is sometimes easy to overlook this. Days turn into months and years, but the only times this is evident is during those life altering events or reunions with old friends. When surrounded by children, you see change right before your very eyes. It is so rapid that often a few days can bring end of one phase and the beginning of a new one. It nearly brings tears to my eyes that I have missed capturing every detail of my precious babies’ lives. I recognize this to be an impossible feat, many of those tender moments something only to be captured in my heart but perhaps never again in my thoughts or memory. Is that real? Is it possible for something to forever imprint your heart but never again to be brought to your mind? I can imagine if this is so, it is part of that process of love, and why it grows deeper and deeper over time……embracing those little moments that have forever touched your heart and soul. As Caleb is nearing four years old, often people will ask me to compare how he was at the stage that Emet is at. I often can’t remember. It’s as if it slipped away as sand between my fingers, but my mother’s heart cherishes that little boy now more than I ever have before…..and this love seems to grow each day.

Our children are such a delight. Emet is learning to hold his own against his little brother and often comes to me with brow furrowed, a voice of frustration if not clarity, and fingers pointed at some injustice he has just suffered at the hands of his big brother. However, moments later, they will be laughing and giggling away at some silly game they are playing or as they race around the house as monster trucks or race cars. (I’m never quite sure which they are at any given time.) Caleb makes his car noises inside of his mouth, while Emet engages his tongue outside of his mouth, spit flying and running down his chin. Caleb came up to me the other day, mid race, and asked if I could show him how to make noises like Emet with his tongue outside of his mouth!

One of Caleb’s favorite games is to get Emet to say new words. “Emet, can you say ‘truck’?”, etc. Then, "Good job, Emet!" Emet is talking up a storm and isn’t afraid to try any word, though often he will tease you by saying, “No!” when you ask him to say something. The few words that come to me at the moment are “Ju Peese?” (he is saying juice please, but it means anything to drink – water, milk, juice – he is not particular); “Cookie” (refers to graham cracker, animal cracker, and crackers in general); “Bable?” (Bible, Devotional, or Apple). When he shakes his head “yes”, he also opens and closes his little mouth – so cute! “No”, often includes a furrowed brow and a definite head shake. “Bie?” is how he either asks for a bite or offers one to us.

He is fond of lifting his shirt up as he runs around and showing off his tummy. He has recently also been pointing to my tummy and saying “Baby”. He has started calling all little stuffed animals “Baby”, and loves to carry them around. He loves none more than his puppy, which he calls “Poppie” and bedtime blankets called “Nigh Nighs”. Caleb has always been attached to Tiny Tiger, but never to the degree to which Emet clings to “Poppie”. He has recently started making kiss noises and giving little kisses to his “babies”. He also will hold it out for us to “kiss”, giving us the little kiss noise so that we know what to do when he holds it out for us. He also loves to give us hugs and kisses, something we don’t often turn down. No one is held in higher esteem than his Papa. Emet lives for time with Papa, and when he is home wants to spend every possible minute with him, regardless of what he is doing. He, like Caleb, loves to help Papa do “hard work” and will try to carry pieces of wood, dig with the shovel, and move tools. Emet, while strong willed, is a little easier to discipline - perhaps having seen the results of his big brother's disobedience over time. In the middle of an outburst, when asked if he wants a timeout or spanking, he will frown and shake his head "No". Often, he then begins to calm himself down. Wow. Such was not the case with little Caleb.

Caleb has begun a most endearing stage. He often will climb up on the couch next to me, snuggle in and say, “I love you so much, Mama”. Needless to say, my heart melts each and every time! He loves to sing. “Blessed Assurance” and “Jesus Loves Me” are the songs he sings most. Each night before bed, Jason rocks the boys in the “blue chair” upstairs and they read their Bible, devotional, and sing songs before bed. Emet has even started to sing along. Caleb loves to build with his legos, use his imagination to create new games, toys, and songs , and read books. His very favorite activity is riding his “motorcycle” (bicycle) up and down the driveway and up over the rock pile. While he still has training wheels, it won’t be long before he is ready to get rid of them. And, oh how he loves to be watched. "Mama, watch me do this...", he will frequently say. Delight will fill his countenance after he has accomplished his feat and receives praise or a smile. He also loves to fill up his wheelbarrow and dump truck with rocks and dirt from the driveway and yard. This activity he and Emet do quite often together upon heading outside. It also involves lots of piles of sand and rocks in the grass and on the sidewalk……and on my floor (which consequently almost NEVER appears to have been recently swept or cleaned!).

In the mornings, Caleb often will get out of his bed and come into ours, after Jason has left for work. He’ll ask for a graham cracker (which I give him, much to the chagrin of Jason who finds crumbs on his side of the bed!) He’ll often thoughtfully eat his cracker, then ask for another which he then eats in the blue chair while he reads a few stories. Soon, Emet will call out from their bedroom….”Cookie?” Caleb will jump from the blue chair, ask for more graham crackers for he and Emet, and head off to their bedroom while I get up and ready.

Caleb is also a great helper these days, and can do many errands and chores when given simple, direct instructions. He has been helping to set and clear the table for a while (yes - accidents do happen), and loves to pour me a glass of water. When doing laundry, he often asks if he can help put his clothes away. Will this last? :-) I hope so!

I’m 23 weeks pregnant today, and this pregnancy has been going quite well – outside of the first fifteen weeks of constant nausea. That part was worse than it was with the boys. However, the plus side is – this little one has been a bit easier on the figure than the boys were! It must be because it is a girl! I have recently begun to feel her moving around pretty consistently, which is a comforting thing. Her biggest feat so far was a recent climb of Mt. St. Helens with her Mama! We did quite well and the normal aches and pains of pregnancy were mostly absent on that day. I was forever thankful for this, as it was a pretty intense 14.5 hours!

We are already collecting a lot of pink, girly things – thanks to the generosity and mutual excitement of friends and family. Caleb has also finally accepted that we are having a little girl. For quite a while, beginning during the ultrasound for which he was present, he would say, “No, it’s a little boy,”….and….”I don’t want a little girl. I want a baby boy!”…….Now, it’s “What’s the baby girl doing?”……and “How’s the baby?” as he snuggles close beside me and gently pats my growing stomach.