Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Letter to My Little Lady

Dear Sweet Hannah,

Hey, lady. In a matter of minutes at the mall of all places you taught me more about how to live life than years of studying could ever do. And I wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for Tuesday. I sat there on the cushy bench looking to just let you have a few moments to run free; completely oblivious to the divine moment I was about to encounter as I observed you, my teacher for the day. Surrounding us were kids climbing through the crazy jungle gym of levels in the mall, parents zoning out from the Christmas shopping overload... And there you were. My beautiful Hannah - full of joy and life and an unbeatable level of exuberance in the midst of many other people in many different moods. But you - you didn't have a care in the world. You were too busy just soaking up every minute of the jungle gym. Your smile grew and your eyes danced as you took in your surroundings, exploring new areas and racing the carpeted levels at top speed in your simple, yet tried and true way of running from one side to the other in a straight line with a soundtrack of giggles and shouts as your feet propelled you back and forth... Your mommy wouldn't have approached the situation the same way. She probably would have been too concerned with where she was and what other people thought about it - was it high enough? did she look silly sitting there? was she climbing the right way? But not you. You couldn't have been happier in your sprinting venture.
As I kept watching you I noticed something else, Little Miss, you knew your limits. You weren't big enough and coordinated enough to get up to the highest levels...but it didn't phase you for even a moment. You loved where you were, embracing every moment with a load of "tee-hees" and lots of "Hey Mommy! Did you SEE that?" And as I watched you I realized that your mommy probably would have been frustrated with where she was and she would have wanted to be able to do more. She might have wondered if other people noticed her shortcomings and might have become paralyzed by fear to try anything new. She might have even sat in the corner and sulked at her misfortune - her inability to do what so many others were able to do. She would have missed out on the pure joy that overcame your precious little self, happy as could be- right where you were.
After a few more minutes, Little Miss, I was in awe: talk about love your neighbor. You weren't afraid to say hi to anyone. And you were the first one to tell them "Great job..." when they climbed up. Even if you couldn't do all that they were doing, you were there encouraging them - even if most of them ignored you completely. You didn't do it to get anything in return - you just genuinely cared and gave your encouragement freely. If your mommy were honest, she might have only encouraged the seemingly most important people. She might have gotten discouraged when no one seemed to care about the cheers she gave out and just given up on sharing them altogether.
But you - you were thrilled for the little girl nobody else noticed who was terrified of climbing up there with you - even though she was probably twice your age. You didn't laugh at her, think less of her or even giggle to yourself at her struggles - instead you cheered her on and jumped with an incredibly authentic enthusiasm (seeing as it was a full body jump and cheer) when she finally made it up. And you listened - I mean really listened to the annoying kid that everyone else tried to avoid. And you weren't trying to conjure up feelings of care - compassion for him just oozed out of you. You realized that he had a lot to say, even if he didn't necessarily know when to take a break from saying all of it.
Your mommy might have been too busy thinking about her own climbing dreams and pursuits or what everyone else thought of her to notice the little girl, and she might have thought she was too busy with her own endeavors to listen to the little boy that seemed to have diarrhea of the mouth.
And Little Miss, it was amazing to watch you take in the wonder of it all - the people, just being there, the fact that you could crawl and climb and jump. (and do sprint suicides back and forth on the carpeted levels) I held back tears as I watched you stop everything (including your calisthenic work) to pause, your eyes taking in everything around you and though you didn't use words it seemed like you couldn't help but worship God by just resting and enjoying everything around you - all the joy and greatness of that moment. Your mommy probably would have been too busy or too focused on the next thing to really stop and thank God. But not you.
So thank you. Thank you, Hannah for teaching me who I really am and showing me who I really want to be. I want to be more like you. Because in you I see so much more freedom, so much more joy, so much more love - so much more of God. And I want that. Thank you for teaching me. And not with words or scolding - just with how you live your little life. I hope I can teach like that, too, Hannah.
And know this, sweetheart, not only am I thankful, I am also committed to changing because I want to be the best mommy I can be for you. And that's a mom who loves her neighbor as herself no matter who they are, how inept they seem or how long they want to talk. That's a mommy that takes on the joys and hard times of the people around her. That's a mommy who notices the outcast - a mommy who notices the overlooked and does something about it. And I want you to have a mommy that doesn't get frustrated with where she is in life, but embraces all the greatness of where that is instead of finding every flaw with it and becoming jealous of the others around her. And I want you to have a mommy that just has to stop and say thank you to God for everything around her - perfect and imperfect.
Every day with you is an unbelievable privilege. Sometimes I can't comprehend why God would be so amazing as to make you my daughter. And today I want to tell you thank you. I love you. And I plan on asking God for help so I become that mommy. Thank you for teaching me, Little Miss. And even though I just said it - I love you. I just don't know that I'll ever be able to say it enough times that it really conveys how deeply I mean it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Insert Witty Title Here (while I sleep)

And then there were four. In some amazingly miraculous way, I went in to the hospital - just Ted and me - and we came out with a whole new person. (And yes, this equals four when you factor in our incredibly crazy daughter) I still can't really believe it. In a moment, he entered the world - a living, breathing, sometimes crying little person. It's still nutty to me.
I would love to write about all the things I've been processing, all the battles I've been...well battling on how to follow God and be a mom of 2, on not becoming soft and everything else, but sleep tends to be important when you are outnumbered by small people in your home. So I'll postpone all that soul-searching for another day. However, I did want to share a little something this little man has already taught me.
Night 2 of his little life the nurses brought him to me so that he could eat. (tends to be important I guess...) I held him close and tried to get him started, but it just wasn't working out between the two of us. And this precious, mild-mannered baby scrunched up his face in such a way that he looked like a pit-bull and he let out horrendous squeals that indicated he seriously thought his 2-day old life was in jeopardy. I put him up to my shoulder, held him tightly and I whispered to him - "There is NO way I'm not going to feed you. I promise I will take care of you. I could never hurt you." In that moment, tears started to run down my face. Maybe sleep depravation and a host of crazy hormones charging through my body started the tears, but it broke my heart to see him struggle and wonder if he would make it when I was there to help him, offering him exactly what he needed if he would only calm down and trust me and let me help him...
And then it hit me. I am my son. (For those of you not tracking with me, let me explain) I do that exact same thing to God all the time. I fight Him and push back and think that He's going to basically let me drown in my problems. And yet, all the while, He's there, trying to help me, waiting for me to settle down so that He actually can work with me and give me exactly what I need. At that point, tears started to come more freely. For the first time, I had an idea of God's pain - watching us squirm and cry and wiggle and become more and more upset, while He's there never once letting go.
There's so much more I would love to say and I'd love to do it more eloquently, but whether it's the smallness of my own mind or simply the inability to articulate when you are in the midst of crazy life change, I can't seem to put it together. So I think I'll go take care of my little guy and remember that if a messed up mommy like me would never let my child's needs go unmet, how much greater lengths will God go to take care of us... Maybe it's time for me to stop squirming.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My body is not what it was

I learned a lesson. Completing a little over 7 miles and doing a reasonably intense lifting session while in your seventh month of pregnancy may not be the smartest idea. Although it seemed genius at the time, my body threw it's own revolt that afternoon and the following day. I've been priding myself in still running (no I did NOT run those 7 miles - I did a combination of walking, the cross trainer and various other ways to put that total together) but I'm learning that my body is not what it used to be. I guess that's to be expected when you're growing another human. It's just really hard to back down. I want to get out there and really push myself. (It probably doesn't help that I was planning on running the Chicago Marathon this year before I found out about our latest little surprise) I watch other runners training and pouring themselves into their workout and I forget that I have a belly that's full of boy right now. I'm probably gonna need to lay off the Olympics. And I just need to embrace this beautiful time in which God has me. It really is unbelievable to have a person growing inside of you. (And peeing inside of you - a fact which still gives me the willies) I still think it's crazy how God developed this whole idea, but He did. It's nuts. And cool. And beyond amazing. But that's kind of how God seems to roll in general.

And for all of you who might wonder, we are still passionate about this whole adoption thing. Though I'm looking forward to meeting this little guy who seems to be practicing for a match with Holyfield...my heart is growing in love for the little girl we'll one day adopt. I can't wait to meet her.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beyond awkward

Upon glancing back on most of my posts, I realized that this blog has been highly serious. Though that's great, that's also just a portion of me. So I decided to let you guys in on the most awkward moment of my entire life which happened to occur a few weeks ago.
Pregnancy brings many humiliating factors. Gaseous fumes that cannot be held in, clumsiness that can be severely heightened and one of my personal favorites - the responsibility of peeing in a cup every time you go to visit the doctor.
I don't know many people who enjoy relieving themselves into a cup, but I find myself highly annoyed by this practice. Especially because although I am pregnant and should typically be on the verge of wetting my pants most of the time, I actually still have a highly effective bladder that can hold quite a bit. (More than you ever wanted to know I am sure) I am not a person that can just go on demand - unless I truly feel the need, there is no pee escaping this body. So at every one of my prenatal visits, this seemingly simple task has been daunting. I have been unable to pee at my first two visits even though I took in several Venti Starbucks cups of water. And at every visit after that I've had to beg the nurses to let me go through the appointment and hopefully be able to "go" afterward. I have surely caused these nurses headaches and amazed them by my inability to urinate.
Until this last appointment. That's right, I planned ahead! I took in more than a half gallon of water and tried to think waterfall type thoughts. I held it in until I arrived at my appointment and took hold of that which had previously tried to take hold of me. I filled my cup appropriately, took care of everything and went to place my cup in the window.
Now let us pause so that I may explain the setup here. In the bathroom, there is a window that has a door on it. There are doors on both sides so you put your cup of pee in the window and then the nurses can grab it from their side.
I went over, opened the little door and as I went to place my prized cup in the window, the door I was holding slipped out of my hands, crushed my hand and I watched my cup drop from my hands and fall to the floor. Yep, that's right...I spilled my pee all over the wall and the floor. And yes, that in and of itself is horrible. But now here I stand in my own pee realizing that once again I have nothing to turn in to the nurses and no hope of having to go again in the near future. And to make matters worse, since the nurses had heard me open the door, they figured I had dropped off my cup and I kept hearing them open their side over and over again wondering what must have happened to the cup.
I grabbed paper towels and tried to clean up as best I could. I washed down the walls and the floor for approximately five more minutes and then grabbed my cup and realized there was no avoiding it - I had to tell the nurses what happened. I left the bathroom, went around the corner and saw the nurse standing there - waiting for my sample. I looked her in the eyes, opened my mouth and slowly the words formed: "I just had the most awkward moment of my life. My cup fell out of my hands and my pee spilled on the floor and I tried to clean it up and if you give me some cleaning supplies I'll clean it. I'm so unbelievably sorry. And is it at all possible that there's enough pee in this cup for you to test because there is no way that I can pee again."
She just looked at me in amazement. (This is the same nurse I've had all of those times...) But hey, luckily she was able to test the few droplets of my pee or maybe she was just gracious and pretended it was enough. Either way, I'm still terrified of this whole process.
And there is my "beyond awkward" moment of the day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The feeling of nothing to say

Fear. I've been living in it. Afraid to compose...afraid to bare myself. Afraid that I won't have words to ever begin to capture truth. Afraid that my worth is summed up in my lack of ability to put together phrases that might inspire or cast light upon the truth God has given us.
So, basically I have nothing special to say.
But I should be honest about life. An interesting turn of events has transpired. Last we posted in the world wide web - we were planning to adopt. We had sat down and prayed together and finally decided on an adoption agency. We planned to call them on Monday. On Sunday, we found out we were pregnant. (Or actually, that I was pregnant. Ted is not pregnant, but he's a really quality guy) I didn't know how to handle it. I thought I might miscarry. I mean, we were ready to adopt...
I became ashamed as well. Here we were headed into this life-changing, exciting adventure. I felt like we really were going to live life the way God wanted us to. We were about to tangibly care for the orphan - I mean that's some serious God-following, right? We had told everyone - even people we didn't know. Why would God let this happen?
I felt humiliated. And I felt ridiculous for feeling so humiliated. (Gotta love the pits of despair we allow ourselves to drown in) While others oozed with excitement when they heard the news, I visibly didn't share the same sentiment. I couldn't wrap my heart around the fact that we'd told everyone we were going to adopt - my heart was ready to adopt. I had thought about holding that little girl, I had talked with Hannah about her sister that was out there somewhere that we were going to have soon. There was no mistaking that I wasn't excited about the change of events. And from there I piled more guilt upon myself because I wasn't thrilled.
I now sit here in my sixth month of pregnancy. We're having a boy. (I wasn't planning on having a boy, so just cycle through that pit again for me to understand where I was formerly at when I learned the news.) His name is going to be Jayden Michael. Jayden means, "God has heard" and Michael means, "Who is like our God?"
But here is where I stand today. We will still adopt. One day we will have a precious little girl (or at least that's what I think right now - but keep in mind, I've been wrong before) that we'll get to hold in our arms.
(random ADD moment - last night I watched part of Grey's Anatomy and there was a family with a little baby they had just adopted. As the dad finally really embraced her - I nearly lost it and I became even more excited for the day when we get to hold our little girl)
But God for the meantime is giving us Jayden. And that's not a let down. He is a gift and I'm really starting to cherish that gift with every swift kick to my ribs. My prayer is that his life is defined by helping his generation know that God has heard and that He cares. And truly, I can't think of anything much better. And luckily, in the midst of all this, God has taught me enough to know that when I meet this little boy, I will realize that he is incredible and I will thank God over and over for giving him to us and specifically at this time.
And one day I trust God will give us our precious little girl. The one I know He has named "Mine". (The name we've chosen is Mia which means "mine" in Italian) And maybe by then, God will have worked in my heart to not think I'm better than someone else if I adopt. Maybe by then, I won't be so immature as to think that we are so special because we're adopting. Maybe by then, I will realize that everything God does is wise and just and I won't feel ashamed when we don't seem to be as "special" and we seem more "normal" in our journey of following God. (These terms are horrendous, but it's what I've honestly thought if I'm real with myself)
So there's me. Bared. Nothing special to say. But at least I'm no longer living in fear. It wasn't a very nice master. Jesus is way better... You'd think I would have known that.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I said I'd write about it again. It's not easy. It's hard to put torment of the soul into words. It's hard to describe the pain of losing someone you love because of their choice. (Though I realize that many of you reading may completely understand this) It's a series of a lack of words. It's this overwhelming feeling that you can never do justice to your description nor to the pain that many surrounding this loss would experience. And it's hard, because it is very much not just your story, it's merely your point of viewing the larger story.
I do remember the funeral visitation vividly though. I remember lining up and wondering what lay ahead. I remember getting out of my car and wondering if my body would actually cooperate with me and allow me to put one foot in front of the other. I remember what it was like to wonder what it would be like to see the family grieve because their daughter chose to commit suicide and feel incredibly helpless because you didn't really know them - you had only known their daughter.
Somehow my body decided that it would keep propelling me forward - through the door and into the unknown. I looked around and felt the awkwardness of it all. I absorbed the hush and the "no one really knows how to do this" air about the room. I sure didn't. And yet, I found as I walked in the awkwardness that it was to watch people have normal conversations. I was perplexed by it all. Though this 19 year old girl lay in a casket in the room with a very obviously placed scarf draped lovingly around her neck so as to hide the truth - there were people who were able to talk about everyday life. There were those who hugged and laughed next to those who hugged and cried. It was such an intriguing scene to me. Here lay a girl who chose to end her life - a reminder of the pain and problems that so many kids face in this affluent area and yet I overheard people who were able to discuss the ins and outs of their golf game.
I do not know the context of their lives. And quite possibly, for some, it was a chance to cope with the huge dose of reality that lay before them. Others may not have known her and though they desired to appear and be supportive for the family, they were not broken within their souls and chatting about their passions seemed like a natural course of conversation. But there were times when I desperately wanted to stand on a chair and yell out at the top of my lungs - "Do you not see?"
Do we? Do we actually see the pain that is life for the people we pass on a daily basis? Do we realize that people in these suburbs are crying out desperately for someone to listen and to actually care? Do we notice that so many teenagers are walking around trying desperately to forget the pressures that seem to overwhelm them? Do we really SEE each other? Do we see the pain of the words that have been hurled at us in insults by those whom we thought actually loved us? Do we see the girl that thinks she will never be beautiful enough and sacrifices herself over and over again in relationships because she hopes that one day - just maybe - someone will love her? Do we notice the young men who are walking around with rage because their fathers constantly make it known that they are not, nor will they ever be good enough? Do we not notice the wife who was wounded by her parents and is now caught in the desire to keep up with everyone else in hopes that one day maybe she'll feel like she's worth something? Do we really see each other? Or is it easier to keep talking about our golf scores. I guess it probably is.
The other is hard. It's messy. We might not like all that we see. We might not be in control anymore if we chose to see and get honest. But there is a question that must be asked: is it worth it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hijacked by the ADD loving husband

Top 3 favorite things of living with an ADD person
1. I am an expert finder of things. Evidenced by last nights frantic search for a lost cell phone from one of our favorite college students. When all hope was lost, I found it. Thank you for the hours of searching for keys, cell phones, credit cards, clothes, bibles, 'you know that one thing I lost', and many other things.
2. Keeping track of the most random schedule. My wife is a personal trainer, youth pastor, volunteer, barista, spa receptionist, and is even trying to write a few things to get published. I lose track sometimes! Oh, and an incredibly mom and she can cook!
3. Having a wife that is willing to do whatever it takes for people... while radically living out the call of Christ at any cost.

"The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples' feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God" -Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

My wife is a living breathing example of this statement by some genius dude named Oswald Chambers. There are times where both of us would love recognition, the perfect handclap of praise (yeah charismatics!) and other badges and medals engraved with great statements about us. Even just to be paid what we feel we are worth... as you can see, that is not always how God lets things roll in our lives. My wife has worked without pay, forgotten to pick up her paycheck, and worked for beans over and over in order to walk alongside of kids, teenagers, and other folks who are the forgotten ones. The emo kid who everyone thinks needs to grow up, the loud 9th grader who needs to blow his nose, the college girl struggling to find her identity amidst beer and men... she is always there for the outcast, the broken, the overlooked, the neglected. Providing space, relationship, hope, and truth... For that I am grateful, which brings me to our next adventure-

As some of you have heard, we are going to start the adoption process very soon. This has been a dream of ours for a while. The bible calls us to care for the orphans and widows... in the rich white suburbs we live in, we see many people neglect families. Not by sheer choice, but because they think that the best way to raise a kid is by giving their child everything they ever would want, need, desire, or maybe think is cool for five minutes. So you have kids walking around with fancy cell phones, pink cameras, trendy clothes, but lack love, guidance, and a good swift kick in the pants. Yes, I did have an 8th grader once ask me to tie his shoes, and a senior that had never taken out the garbage and made himself a PBJ EVER! He had a butler do it.. hah. It begins to drain on you as you get swept up in keeping up with joneses. God likes to teach us crazy lessons in very tangible ways (I am your provider- here is $2,000) He has burdened our hearts to buck the suburban trend- and now he is asking to do it even more by adopting an African American girl. (Hannah already knows- Amy can fill you in on those details she tells better stories). which means our family is going to change as we will experience racism, those weird looks, and a whole nother world.

My last favorite things about my ADD wife is the fact that adoption is incredibly expensive. We have no money, yet there is nothing stopping her from adopting. She says 'God wants us to- lets start it:. Wheras I say, let me research the many ways we can get the money in order to absolutely plan for every possible problem and have the best way to be able to do this in the best possible time by the best possible people (and on and on and on - Amy already stopped listening). Please pray for me that I could have the faith of an ADD mom. Also pray that we would find the right adoption agency. Amy took one look at the one I had found and said- no they're dumb. They are not of God (one of her favorite phrases). Hah! Thanks Amy for always being yourself, for taking me on a crazy ride, and losing your keys, credit card, and shirt (it was in her car- we don't know how it got there)... I love you! Oh- and you are a phenomenal mom. The first thing hannah says to me this morning is "Mommy work?" when I said yes, she rolled over, whined, and would not let me pick her up...

Ted the non-ADD husband

Monday, February 11, 2008


Last night pushed me beyond the place where you can hold it all in. Last night there came a point when the tears finally escaped my eyes, ran down my face and landed on my pillow. Let this be said, I don't like crying. It's too uncontrolled...too weak...too honest. And probably everything that I actually need to be.
My heart hurts. It's been a painful week. There are those fantastic moments where I just don't know if I can keep going. And I realized that my blog has painted this pretty, challenged but altogether portrayal. That's not life. Right now, each hour is hard. Right now, there are moments when I swear I won't be able to make it through the week. There are moments when I wonder if my heart can actually take one more blow. I can't wait for a silver-lining. I can't wait for relief. But in the midst, I struggle. People's actions, non-actions and all the other facts of life hurts. But the thing is, somewhere in the deepest portions of me, I have hope. I won't try and pull off the great Christian, I have hope message here. I wanted to write these great things about dying on a cross would seem like a very bad day that couldn't be turned around, and yet Jesus took care of that. I wanted to write these great statements about how God has continually shown that He is the God who can always do the impossible. But quite honestly, my words sounded hokey. Don't get me wrong, I know these things within the depths of me, I just couldn't find a way to write it that did it justice and didn't sound like some recycled preacher's kid retort. Let's be honest, that's some big stuff to try and give it justice. But the short version is, I have hope. It's hard. But the struggle is worth it.

Here's a portion of a song that basically runs through my head's Ipod. (Yes, my head has one - I'm ADD)

Even though I walk, through the valley of the shadow of death
I won't turn back 'cause I know You are near.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be then name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Now granted, that's not the whole song. And for some of you, the whole "blessed be Your name" thing may sound kind of strange. If you ever have questions about it or anything else, let's talk.
Hope this message finds you well...and honest. The charade is not so much fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Constipation Station (Similar to conjunction junction?)

There are moments when I feel what I would term, "writer's constipation." Granted, I don't know that I am worthy of the title, writer, but at this moment, the constipation portion seems to speak directly into my situation. There are so many lessons and thoughts and pursuits rumbling around within me and yet, I cannot for the life of me seem to find a way to allow them to exit my body. And thus, you land in writer's constipation. The feeling of the need to go and no feasible way to get the process started. Too bad prune juice wouldn't work for this.
But in the midst of this, I guess I can explore the last few days. My body, mind and soul have been tired. I have had one meeting after the other and I feel like in some ways I missed out on a good portion of my daughter's life this week. And the moments that I was around, I was so tired that I didn't realize the gift it was to be in her presence, and I found myself frustrated with the fact that she was acting like a 2 yr old, even though she is 2 and that should be okay.
It's been one of those weeks where it seemed like everyone was doing things to upset me. I walked around feeling unloved and disrespected and a little beaten down. I was doing an amazing job of thinking of myself.
And though that seemed like it should be my right, I was miserable. Until I realized I need to take a mandatory day off, a Sabbath, just like God told us to. (Imagine that, He knows how to live out life better than me...) And I realized that it was time to pursue those around me, my husband and my super cool rockstar daughter. I gave Ted the morning off and took Hannah out on a date. I tried to do everything that she would love, even if it was a challenge for me. And you know what I found? Joy. Loads of it. Enough to revive my deadening heart. Enough to leave me sitting around constantly talking about how great that date was. Enough for years of warm fuzzies to continually dance around within my heart. God wasn't kidding around when He said that we are "to look to the interest of others before we look to our own..." And what I love about God is that He didn't just have someone write that down, He gave us story after story showing us how that truly is the best way to live. And to top it all off, Jesus came and lived it out. It's pretty sweet.

Sorry, this isn't so packaged. In fact, it's a little awkward. But, to relieve constipation, I guess you have to try and engage in the act if you're ever going to relieve the pressure. Hopefully things will start to work themselves out in the process.
And I hope to write soon about the message at my church this morning. I was nearly brought to tears by the most beautiful description of the creation of Adam and Eve this morning and the ramifications it holds for us as men and women. Unbelievable stuff. Feel free to check my church's website out and listen to Matt's portion of the message at www.getalifechurch.com Just download the message from today, 2-10-08. Curt starts everything out and then Matt continues. (And then Mark finishes because in the midst of all this, Matt proposed to his soon to be wife!) All portions are great, but specifically, listen to the Hebrew background on the creation of Adam and then Eve. You may cry, too!

PS: When I first started to write this, I had Hannah sitting right next to me. I told her I'd read her what I wrote and she could tell me what she her ideas to make it better. Her response: Cookies. And you know what, I think she's right.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An unforgettable phone call

I remember the phone call distinctly. When I looked to see who was calling, the caller ID indicated it was one of my closest students. I picked up the phone with a cheerful, "Hello, friend." But something in her voice told me there was a problem. And in fact there was. She called to inform me that one of my former youth group students had committed suicide.
My mind went nuts. How on earth could this be? Part of me wanted to argue, part of me questioned if this student had her facts right, part of me couldn't believe that I hadn't fallen into a heap on the floor. I beat my head on the table and tried to talk myself out of throwing up. I thanked this friend for letting me know and hung up the phone as I tried to gather my head. I looked over at my daughter and tears started to form. I grabbed her out of the high chair and pulled her into my body. Come to think of it, I probably squeezed her so tightly that the two year old in her didn't know what to do. There I held my daughter in my arms and all I could think about was that poor, precious mother. She shared the same memories of squeezing her little girl. She could recall baking cookies, making mud pies and everything else that goes along with having a beautiful little girl. And as I sat there and pondered how she had no idea this day would come, I was overwhelmed with grief. I mean, I had lost my student, but this mom had lost a portion of herself. They were intertwined.
I squeezed my daughter a little closer that day. I shared many more "I love you's" and sappy, weepy moments with her. I started praying for all that she will face as she continues to be out in the real world. And I started praying that God would somehow comfort that mother.

There is so much more that I want to write. From what it was like attending the funeral to just trying to process this horrible experience to guilt over the things left unsaid to everything else in between. But for today, that's enough.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

God even speaks through the poo

Life with a crazy awesome kid is always eventful...to say the least. I had always wondered what God would teach me through her. I've asked God frequently to help me to learn from her. Maybe that wasn't the best idea...
You see, the other night, Hannah pooped, reached into her diaper and smeared it everywhere. (because that's the only logical thing to do, right?) It was unbelievably disgusting. I walked in to see poop smeared all over the front of her hot pink PJ's, but that was the least of my worries. Hannah decided to be inspired by all of her friends at the spa: she gave her hair poop highlights and she basically looked as though she had tried to give herself a manicure and pedicure in poop as well. She was screaming and crying and waving her poopy hands around in the air... like she just don't care... The smell alone was enough to encourage my dinner to start to make a return appearance from my stomach. It was the most obscenely disgusting scene I had ever beheld. And it was MY daughter somewhere in that poopy mess.
But like I said, she was terrified and she longed for me to hold her and tell her that she would be okay. I'm not gonna lie, I thought for at least 3 seconds about trying to find some other way to comfort her. I did not want to be covered in poop myself. But when I saw that scared, "Mommy, I am having some serious trouble here" look in her eyes, every thought went out the window (if only the smell had as well) and I pulled my daughter into my arms as poop continued to overtake our bodies. I couldn't just stand there. This little poop covered girl is the love of my life. She owns my heart. I love her more than almost anything else. And when she was hurting, I couldn't care what it meant for me. I had to help her. I had to let her know that I would go through the poop with her.
She cried for a few minutes while I just held her and tried to sing her a song to quiet her down. And though it was a terribly intricate and painful process, Ted and I slowly cleaned off every portion of poop and ran her through the shower and went to every possible disinfecting technique we could come up with. She cried. I don't know if it hurt her or scared her or she was just so overcome with the emotion that consumes you when you find yourself covered in poo, but she wailed throughout our thorough cleaning process. But we couldn't stop... We couldn't just leave her like that. We couldn't just clean her up part of the way. And though she cried and cried, we slowly and surely cleaned her up, disinfected her, her room and we rocked her back to sleep. I learned a lot that day. It was pretty amazing. I realized a piece of who I am and who God is. I realized a lot of what Jesus went through for me and a lot of what my healing process has looked like. So there ya go, lessons from the crib.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend or wish that any of you ever has to go through that. Just let God speak to you through our ordeal...

Side note: Hannah is with me right now as I'm about to post this - and she just started to poop. Timing in life is full of hilarity.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You gotta be kidding me?!?

I think I fell more in love with my family today. I don’t completely know why…it’s probably because I prayed that I would or maybe I just finally stopped and saw them for who they always have been. But today I see the distinct amazing-ness that is living with them. Specifically, I noticed today how magnificent my daughter truly is. It’s not that I didn’t notice before, but today, I saw even more. I saw what a miracle she is. I saw the beauty that is her and the love that she displays all the time. I watched her have true love and compassion for a handicapped kid. I saw her eyes beaming with love for me. My heart realized what I oftentimes pass over during the day – how wonderful and precious every second is that I get to spend with her. I spent a little time working out today and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was the luckiest mom in the world to have a daughter that is so precious, a daughter that is so expressive with her dark brown little eyes, a daughter who is wildly obsessed with all things Elmo, a daughter who begs to sing the little sing, “Our God is So Big, So Strong and So Mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do, for you,” a daughter who is fascinated by snow and could say the word, “snowman” over and over again for hours, a daughter who thinks brushing her teeth is an adventure and would do it 24/7 if I let her. Every moment with her is the most incredible gift. When I get her in the mornings, I am overwhelmed by the adorable-ness of the little one in that bed…she is unbelievable. And I don’t understand it, but for some reason, God gave me the privilege of all those hugs and giggles and smiles and “Hi, Mommy’s” and moments where she laughs so hard that she falls over. How He decided I should get to enjoy that everyday, I’ll never know. But I am so grateful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unreal happenings in midwestern suburbia

So like I said before...I have an amazing little girl. And I always prayed that there would be a special song that God would give me to sing to her throughout life that would calm her down and be a source of comfort...a song that oozed love and that "everything will be okay" feel no matter what was going on. It just so happens, her song is an old hymn entitled, "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." For months, I have wondered what God might have been saying about her life. I've wondered what this song might mean for her... What is her life going to look like? What hard times will she face? How will this song impact her life? You see, this song is about trusting Jesus at His word. It's about a completely other way of life - it's about trusting when everything within you wants to live in a padded room where bouncing off the walls because of the difficult nature of your circumstances is acceptable. It's about laying aside questioning and trying to figure it all out and just resting in the fact that God WILL take care of you. And for months now I've prayed that this will be the kind of life she'll live...the kind of life that will define our family.
Too bad God decided to take me up on that prayer. (ah - the joys of life with God)
These past few months have been difficult to say the least. We've struggled to make ends meet because the cost of living up here is so high and let's just say ministry doesn't always pay the big bucks. A couple of months ago, we hit bottom financially. Long story short, Ted's car died in a cemetery (I'll explain all this another time), Hannah had taken it upon herself to get so sick that she eliminated any hope she ever had of a college fund, and we were faced with a lot of pretty papers called bills on our kitchen table that demanded we give money and no funds in the bank to pay them.
We prayed. Or something like that. We joked. We joked about how it seemed like the people who were running after money and all that stuff were smarter than us who were trying to follow God. We prayed asking God to help us, but really wondering if He could...or if He would. We tried to believe He would take care of us, but that pretty pile of bills seemed insurmountable.
My husband went to what he calls his "old man Bible study" three days later. (The guys in the Bible study are not that old...) Afterwards, one of the guys pulled him aside and told him that he had received a bonus at work. He explained that he felt like God wanted him to share part of it with us. At that point, he pulled out his checkbook and handed Ted a check for $2000.
We couldn't believe it. This meant we could actually pay our bills. We were blown away by his generosity - I mean, this guy has two kids in college and yet, he gave us this money. God came through for us when it seemed impossible.
Too bad God wasn't done answering my prayer.
This past month, we had to refinance our mortgage. Again, even though we've been budgeting pretty wisely, we didn't know how we would be able to afford the new payment. I mean - we try to save and yet with our paychecks we have nothing left over at the end of every month. That said, we found ourselves in the same predicament again. How on earth could we still live in this area? How could we afford to live here?
And then we got a phone call. A guy from our church said he had something for us he wanted to drop by. He came over and handed us a thick envelope. He said he was told to deliver this to us. When we opened it we found $2000 in cash inside the envelope. Ted fell down on his knees. I'm pretty sure neither of us had every seen that much cash in our entire lives. And again, we had enough to go ahead and refinance and be able to keep our townhouse, even though this time, we didn't even know who had helped us.
You'd think that we were set now, right? Yeah...not so much.
Our daughter has had chronic ear infections. For the past three months she has been sick and has been in a ton of pain. And now she has to have surgery. And because of the joys of insurance and a new year we are going to have to pay for her surgery out of our own pockets. (Ministry insurance isn't always the best either) Couple this with the fact that Ted's car died AGAIN and not only do we need to pay for it to be fixed...we also technically, need another car. (Which we've been praying for months about) And again, we're sitting here wondering how we can make it.
Well, last night, I started to sing Hannah's hymn and I nearly burst into tears. I realized, especially in light of the past few months, it really is sweet to trust in Jesus - even though it's hard. But then I got to the chorus - "How I've proved Him o'er and o'er" and something amazing happened - for the first time in her little life - Hannah started singing along. Granted, she wasn't exactly wordalicious with the whole deal, but she started singing beautifully and happily as only a little 2 year old can. And I realize that this is our family's song. And somehow God has communicated to my daughter that our family will be brought through all of this. That we will sing His praises forever - because it really is so sweet to trust in Jesus...just to take Him at His word, just to rest upon His promise and to know thus saith the Lord...Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I've proved Him o'er and o'er...Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus...O for grace to trust Him more.
And so far, He's giving us that grace...

Thanks for listening/reading...

Yeah...this is awkward

This all started as a desire to write (and hopefully remember for once) all that is going on in our lives. I guess I should start with the facts. I'm ADD. I swear that it is a gift from God, but sometimes it also runs my life. It took me seven years to graduate from college and three of those years were spent trying to finish one last class that my college decided was mandatory for my acceptance into graduate-hood. (But here's a little secret - I still haven't turned in all the paperwork, so though I am graduated in spirit and I enjoy the deep feeling of liberation - they technically still own my soul...)
I have an amazing husband that somehow puts up with me. We've had a wild ride to say the least. I'll share more stories in days or weeks to come (depending on how well I do at keeping this up) but, it's been worth it. We met in a youth ministry class in college and when I first met him I swore I would never date him...and then I married him even though he broke his foot severely two days before our wedding. (yeah, that's a good story as well)
And then, surprise, surprise, God gave us a beautiful little girl about two years into our marriage. I never thought I would be a mom and if I were one, I thought I would be horrible at it. But, I have a rockstar of a daughter and though I may not be the greatest mom in the world, she's still surviving. And though it may be due to the limited vocabulary that confines a two-year old...she hasn't complained as of yet.
So there...that's me. Well, wait, it's not. There's more. I guess the biggest part of me is that I am engaged in this amazing dance of following Jesus. I'm sure I'll talk more about it later, but I'm doing my best and praying like crazy to follow Jesus with everything that I have and to do the whole loving my neighbor thing and God with all that I have. And that will probably define a lot of my posts. And with that, my husband and I work with youth in a crazy area outside Chicago. Our days, nights and everything else are spent showing God's love to kids that have often gone through a little bit of everything. And there is nothing we'd rather do...EVER. The fact that we get to hear the stories of these kids and that we get to see God change their lives is the most fantastic gift we could ever have. So...there. I'll do my best to start writing the deep and the real and the brokenness and the funny stories of our lives in days to come. Thanks for even reading...