Sunday, December 19, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I love birthdays. I love them for other people. I love mine. I love being a December baby. When I was in college, my birthday was always during finals week, and everyone would stay up all night studying, and then do fun things like make pancakes in the lounge at 3:00 a.m. And I pretended it was a week-long celebration with my friends. I loved it.
Now I have a husband and two little girls. Sadie has no clue yet what a birthday is. Abigail totally does, and she even managed to pause the countdown to hers (in six more days) to celebrate mine a bit.
I don't know what all this day will have in store. But it will be a good one, because I am with three of my favorite people in the world.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
One of the groups was a group of fifteen guys called On the Rocks from Oregon. They performed the tightest, sassiest version of "Bad Romance" by Lady GaGa, and it rocked. We've been humming the song since then, and had said several times that those guys did a great job singing Lady GaGa.
So today, Abigail told me that her teacher Miss Karmen asked her what her favorite song was. Her reply? "I told her Lady GaGa." Awesome. Lady GaGa is quite a performer, but I kind of lean toward the thinking that my almost-five-year-old is better off listening to Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies.
Paul and I explained (after a good laugh) to Abigail that Lady GaGa is not a song, but a singer. A singer who has fun songs, but is pretty weird. And likes to wear dresses made of raw meat.
After showing her pictures of Miss GaGa and her outlandish clothes, including the meat dress, Abigail said, "Gross. She needs to take a shower."
I told her to stick with the music she knows when her teacher asks her next time.
Monday, November 15, 2010
1. I'm thankful for Abigail's sensitivity...sometimes. Twice this week, she has cried while watching a movie. Currently, it's Care Bears. I love that her heart is that sensitive. I'm also thankful that I can confidently tell her that movies like "Madeline" and "Care Bear's Rescue" have happy endings.
2. The guys from the city who vacuum up the leaves. I don't know what your city is like, but in ours, if we rake a nice, leafy border along the side of the road, the city guys come through with a monstrous vacuum and suck them up. We still have to bag what falls in our fenced area...BOO. But I am thankful for that loud, sucky vacuum.
3. Wasabi peas. They are my latest snack craving. I bought some on Saturday at WalMart, and have eaten almost the entire thing in two days. And it was no small container. I love the crunch. I love the way my sinuses feel like they will explode when I get an especially horseradish-y one. Yum.
4. God's Word. I have a friend whom I particularly love who is going through some tough stuff right now. I love reading God's Word and not only being comforted by it myself, but also able to relate it to what my friend is facing. And knowing that God can save us. Word.
5. People who like to hold my baby. I love taking Sadie to church and having people come up and just grab her out of my arms. I love knowing that she is somewhere in the church building, in the loving, cradling arms of a lady who loves to cuddle babies.
6. You. Yeah, I said it. I'm thankful for you.
Yep, that'll do it for today. Or for this week. Trust me, I'm thankful.
Monday, November 8, 2010
1. My husband....and his vacation. Paul took his week of vacation days last week and it. was. wonderful. I know, I know, he works about 30 yards from our house and I can take the girls over to see him any time I want. He can pick up Abigail from preschool. He comes home for lunch every day. I totally get the fact that I am ultimately blessed by my husband's job....in it's flexibility, proximity, and a bunch of great people who come along with it. But, hey, a vacation is still a vacation. Even if we were not sunning ourselves on the sands of Florida, I loved our little daytime trips last week. Our lunches out. Our free evening at the Children's Museum. Having him home in the mornings when I felt like I needed one more hour of sleep. I love him. And his job. And his vacation from that job.
2. Okay, this is kind of about my husband again, but on a different note. I love that he knows how to be the daddy to girls. Yes, I know that he longs for a boy to join our family with whom he can watch the Cardinals and WWE and toss a baseball in the backyard. I know that would be a whole different kind of daddy experience for him. But yesterday I walked into the living room, and he and Abigail were getting married. I walked in during the vow portion of the ceremony. And they had decorated the living room. And already had eaten their cake (real cake). He is SO GOOD at oooh-ing and aaaahhh-ing over sparkles and tutus and Sunday dresses. He is teaching these girls what a prince is, and I hope they remember that someday when they see some punk with a tattoo and feel a flutter in their stomach. Grrr.
3. Coffee Mate....the holiday ones. I am a flavored coffee girl. I drink it decaf, so for me, it is all about the flavor and the warmth, not about the energy. And I have had the Peppermint Stick and am now on Sugar and Spice. And yum.
4. My mama. Because she is an awesome mama and an awesome Memaw. She makes me laugh with facebook comments and helps me in times of need. She works hard. She makes the best chocolate chip cookies. And cinnamon rolls. If I go more than a week without seeing her or having a good, long talk with her, I feel it. I always think I am sad that my girls are growing up so fast, but if we can just sit someday and have long talks as friends like I do with my mama now, then I can look forward to their growing up.
5. Gift cards. I had some leftover gift card money from when Sadie was born, so the other day I bought matching Christmas dresses for Sadie and Abigail. So cute. I pretty much never ever pay full price for any kids clothes because they outgrow them so fast. We only have hand-me-downs, or clearance rack, or Once Upon a Child. However, there are two things I am willing to pay full price for (as long as it is under 20 bucks)....Easter dresses and Christmas dresses. That's kind of silly when you think about it, because they will actually wear these less times than their regular clothes. It's just the thought of something new and pretty for those holidays that I can't resist. However, I did get to use gift card money toward the dresses the other day, which took the sting out of buying two dresses a little bit. Yay, Target gift cards. I heart you.
I will stop there for now. I'm sure I will have more lists later, so I won't use them all up. I can tell you one thing I am NOT thankful for today. My cat. She ate the leaves off of some flowers we were given AND the ribbon off a helium balloon from a baby shower yesterday, and I woke up to find three places she had thrown up in the living room. Today? I hate my cat. But I'm thankful for everything else...especially good carpet cleaner.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I have to say, I remember pretty much 0.0 of any award acceptance speeches I have heard, but this one stuck, and I have thought of that quote over and over again. I love it. It probably would not rank up there as the most eloquent speech or the most self-assured, confident thought process. It could be seen as very humble or "fake humble", depending on the attitude of the person saying it.
There are days when it feels like you did nothing of great significance. Nothing that will have a movie made about your life, for sure. There are days here when I just do the usual...fold the laundry, balance the checkbook, nurse the baby, read to Abigail, make some dinner. Nothing stands out. Then there are days when I feel like, maybe if just for a moment, something important happened.....something worth marking on Sadie's calendar, typing out a blog, storing in my memory, giving Abigail high-fives over.
I know that as a follower of Christ, I am "more than a conqueror." I know that I am adopted, forgiven, redeemed. I know I have the opportunity to serve, love, forgive, encourage, teach, admonish, and edify in the name of my Savior. I know I am who God says I am. And that is enough for my heart to burst.
But I also know, in the most simple terms, that I agree with Ms. June Carter Cash. There is nothing wrong with "tryin' to matter." I pray this for my girls at night, among other blessings spoken over them, big dreams for their little lives. I pray for them to live lives of significance. Lives that matter. A life well-lived. Because it may be a simple prayer, but it is true....we all are just tryin' to matter.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Funny thing is, she doesn't know we are watching her. Since she is facing the back seat, all she knows is what she can see in front of her or to each side. She doesn't know that she is always in our gaze because she can't see us. According to normal infant development, she hasn't even yet reached the age where object permanence has set in....she doesn't see us, so we simply aren't there.
Most days, some times several times a day, we strap her into that carseat and she looks up at us with a big grin, now sporting two tiny pearly teeth. We close the car door and hop in the front seat to drive, and we are out of her gaze, so she doesn't realize we are still there.
Today as we drove, I turned off the radio and said something that makes her smile every single time she hears it (it's really the silly way I say it that does it). "Mama. Loooooooooves. Sadie." I could see her little head in the mirror, looking all over for me. She grinned. She heard my voice and knew I was there....somewhere. She just wasn't sure where.
It made me realize that we are always in the gaze of our Father God, even when we may not be able to see Him. We go about our day, too often not realizing that He is right there with us the whole time, watching us, delighting in us. And then sometimes, the noise of the world is turned off for a moment, and we hear Him say to our souls "I love you." We smile...we look for Him...and He never left.
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
Monday, September 20, 2010
In that conversation, I also realized that I put far too much pressure on myself. The friend had asked me what being a stay-at-home mom meant to me, and I told her how I feel it is my role to hold things together in the home, to be the peace, to keep things organized. And as soon as I verbalized something I'm not sure I had spoken aloud before, I said, "Wow. That's a pretty high standard, isn't it?"
She said, "And if you don't reach this standard you've set for yourself? What then? Have you failed?"
I was really for the first time having to string together thoughts that had only been scattered about in my subconscious before this conversation. Hesitating, trying to choose my words carefully, I said, "Well....no. I've never (ever) thought of myself as a failure or that I would be a failure if all of those things didn't come together. But I do, probably, mentally look back at the end of the day, and if those things didn't happen....if the home wasn't peaceful, if it looked a mess, if I yelled that day.....I would probably think somehow that the home was not any better off that day for me being there." I don't mean that in a woe-is-me-nobody-needs-me way, but in a a-monkey-probably-could-have-done-this-job-today way.
We talked about the difference between organizing the home and parenting, that Abigail and Sadie could probably give two flips whether the load of laundry on my bed is folded or not. That parenting them is what will remain in their memories. Because here is what can come from a memory....it may sound idealistic, but hey, it's my memory....
One of my very favorite memories as a child was coming home from school one day. The weather was just warming up enough to open up the windows. The breeze was swaying the curtains in the living room, and my mom was ironing. The smell of fresh air and freshly-cleaned laundry filled the room. And there were chocolate chip cookies waiting on the table. And it felt perfect.
This really happened. I promise. And in some crazy way, I have made that perfect, peaceful moment the standard for my entire role as a homemaker...wife...mother.
My friend listened to this memory and pointed out something....it is a good memory. A great memory. But it is only a memory....not a standard. She also pointed out that it is MY memory, from my elementary-minded perspective. It is quite possible that if my mom could have a memory of that day, from her perspective, it could be that she had burned the first batch of cookies, was frustrated with the checkbook, and hated the fact that she was inside ironing when it was so beautiful outside. Perspective matters.
And somehow, mentally, it is all changing now. I am working on realizing that a beautiful childhood memory does not set a standard for me to live up to. I have also realized that I should not take on the responsibility of something that is solely that of Jesus to do....such as be the Peace in our home. Because that is a standard I can surely not live up to. But being a wife and mama who prays at the beginning of the day for Jesus to be my Peace, our Peace...that is something I can do. Working on seeing the laundry and the toys a little bit less, and my daughters a little bit more....that is something I can do. Seeing my husband as my teammate, my coach, my encourager, my best friend, my life partner, and not just my "roommate"....that is something I can do. Telling myself that Jesus is working in me to make me a better Amy, not looking back on my day thinking anybody could have done my job that day....that is something I can do. Or at least, these are all things I can work on.
And that, to me.....for this season of life.....is making Home.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
We re-worked. It looks decent on paper. Commitments were re-made. Doors of communication that had been shut were opened again. I reminded myself several times that a budget is not shackles on our hands, but rather smart boundaries that create freedom. Freedom to know what we have to work with. Freedom to not have that "uh-oh" feeling of spending more than we meant to or should have.
Last night (again with the bad attitude!!), I waved a handful of cash in front of Paul, saying "THIS is what I'm supposed to get a week's worth of groceries on???" It seemed measly. But we HAD already bought a few groceries with it, so it wasn't the full amount of grocery budget for the week. But the amount made me angry. I wasn't even paying attention to the food that we had not yet used from last week's groceries.
I was frustrated. I went to bed and opened my Bible. And, ha ha ha, wouldn't you know it...I was ready for Mark, chapter 8. Jesus fed 4,000 men with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Four. Thousand. Men. (not even including women and children). Seven loaves of bread. Four-thousand men. Repeat it over and over and let that sink in just a smidge.
But that isn't even the best part. In my opinion, anyway.
14 They had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then he commanded them: "Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod."
16 They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread. 17 Aware of this, He said to them, "Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?"
"Twelve," they told Him.
20 "When I broke the seven loaves for the 4,000, how many large baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?"
"Seven," they said.
21 And He said to them, "Don't you understand yet?"
So. First of all, the disciples had seen Jesus provide for thousands of people with a few measly loaves of bread not just once, but TWICE. Thousands of people! With baskets full of food left over!! And then they get on the boat, just the small lot of them, with one loaf of bread, and start complaining and worrying about how they aren't going to have anything to eat. But Jesus was still with them!!
They had forgotten what they had seen Him do in the past. They were short-sighted, focused more on their grumbling stomachs than on their faith in the One who provides in abundance.
They are me. I am the disciples. Short-sighted. Looking at the little. Forgetting about the "much"...ALL of the abundance He has shown us in the past, time and time again. I can almost hear Him, His voice tired, yet gentle, saying to me, "Don't you understand yet?"
God is so good at reminders. That is a Word that is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. And it reminded me of what I had been missing.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This girl of ours? She's ready. Ready to carry a backpack. Ready to meet new kids. Ready to show them all what she knows, and hopefully will be willing to actually learn a thing or two.
She's our Abidoo. Abidale. Abi-smell. Abigailia. Babigail. Our Turkey. Our Peaches.
Our preschooler. And we love her.
Friday, August 13, 2010
1. Sometimes I do all kinds of necessary, boring things. Fold laundry. Balance the checkbook (got it done today.....zzzzzzzz). Catch up the dishes.
2. I make important phone calls. Health insurance claims. Medical bills. Why the heck is our cable bill so high this month? You know, those kind of calls.
3. I text my friend Angie about how much more fun it would be if we were hanging out together.
4. I grocery shop at 10:30 at night because it is easy and quiet. And I am all about the easy and the quiet.
5. When I'm in the car all alone and flipping through songs on the radio, I stop and listen to Ke$ha sing "Your Love is My Drug." Hey, I think she sounds like a drunk sorority girl, but that chorus is so stinkin' catchy. And sometimes a Mommy just needs to hear a song like that...a stupid, annoying, catchy song.
And you come home with a little spring in your step (and try to refrain from singing "Your Love is My Drug" while feeding your baby).
Here's to a little alone time this weekend! Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I love having morning coffee with Abigail. It's decaf, and she asks for it every morning. I can somehow picture her as a college student, home for the summer, stumbling sleepily into the kitchen for her morning coffee. And maybe we will have great conversations, or maybe we will sit and stare for an hour while we wake up.
I love Sadie's noises. I call her a whiny puppy because that is pretty much how she sounds. When she is tired, she doesn't really cry, she just rubs her ear with her fist and whimpers. Whining doesn't sound so great when they are old enough to express themselves with words, but it is seriously cute to me when it's all they can do.
I love their involuntary foot movements. Sometimes I sit and watch Abigail's feet as she watches Blues Clues....they just move all the time, even when the rest of her is lying still. They touch toys around her, her toes curl. Sadie's tiny feet move while she nurses....she rubs one over the other, or crosses them so daintily. She kicks them when she gets excited. They don't even know what they are doing, but their feet are constantly expressing themselves.
I love their smell after a bath. I know that is an easy one, and any Mom would agree. I could inhale that scent forever.
I love that Abigail would have her Daddy never go to work and just stay home and play with her every single day if she could. They are just best buddies, and I love watching them together.
I love Abigail's enthusiasm over things like taking her vitamins or playing peek-a-boo with her sister. She gets excited about the little things.
I love that Sadie has "found her screecher". She screeches all. the. time.
I love introducing Abigail to things that Paul and I loved as children. We watched Anne of Green Gables as a family a couple of months ago, and she paid every bit of attention to Marilla and Matthew and Gilbert Blythe and Diana Spencer. Melted my heart. We took her to see Ramona and Beezus at the movies the other night, and she loved it. So yesterday we went to the library and picked out two Ramona Quimby books to read. I think I just have to break out Amelia Bedelia and she will be all set.
I could go on and on. Let's face it, even the really hard days of parenting pale in comparison to the really great ones. It's a vocation, and it is bound to have it's challenges just as any job, ministry, or calling would. But I am confident that these moments are not to be missed, because I know how fleeting they are.
Friday, July 30, 2010
1. A couple of days ago, Abigail and I were having a really ugly day between the two of us. I was ugly Mommy, she was ugly kiddo. We were the perfect storm of headbutts. She had pretty much gotten in trouble all day long (and once she got started, I may have blown a couple of things out of proportion myself). Nothing seemed to be working discipline-wise. Then before dinner, I told her that we could make chocolate chip cookies together after dinner (hoping for some redeemable time from our day). After dinner, she was once again doing the sassy, arguing, talking back, not listening, blah, blah, blah, and I told her that we would not be making cookies together that night because of the bad choices she had been making. Her response was something to this effect (through hyperventilating tears):
"But you were an ugly-acting Mommy today. And you don't just promise you're going to make chocolate chip cookies and take it away. Because I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. I want to make them and eat them. You can't take that away from me. That's such a mean thing to do."
My response? You're right! When the cookies get taken away, we ALL get punished.
2. Trying to make your home some perfect little version of homemade-land can only work in spurts. I tried hard this week, making homemade applesauce from the apples we had picked, making the cookies (finally), folding the laundry, paying the bills, etc. etc. etc. All it does is burn a Mommy out and make me feel like I can't keep up. Lesson? Pick one Susie Homemaker thing to do a day....maybe.....but don't try to do it all at once.
3. God is always good, even when His timing seems different than ours. I had waited forever for an insurance claim to be reviewed from when I had Sadie. I kept getting the automatically-generated bills and was thinking if this claim didn't get straightened out soon, I would be getting a collection notice (but didn't want to pay a huge sum of money on a bill that I knew was incorrect). Literally, as I sat down yesterday with the insurance company's number in hand to call them and figure out what the status was, I opened up our mail and there was a notice saying it had been completely taken care of. Boo.Yah. God is awesome.
4. Give me 45 minutes without kids at home and I am one. productive. mama. And I felt GOOD for it.
5. My husband's love for me just gets better and better. I had a hard day this week (the one with the cookie incident) and just felt like a failing, flailing Mommy. He listened, he loved, he hugged, he cut Abigail off at the pass when I needed a break, he bought me a card saying thank you for all I do, he wrote me a poem. Sigh. Flutter. Heart. I love him.
See? Lessons in the everyday. Sometimes I love them. Sometimes I wish I had learned them enough already. :)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Then he said, "Sadie healed you."
And even though there are always scars from experiences like that.....I know there must be because I have talked to women who lost babies through miscarriage 30 or 40 years ago who still get teared up in the conversation....I realized that scars are not open wounds. They are areas where wounds once were, but they are healed. God leaves those marks, though not always physical, as reminders of His goodness through those times, of the ways that He healed the hurt. I know God healed the painful wounds. And He did it through this....
Thursday, July 1, 2010
This month also marks three years since our move here. God gradually drew us to Marshall over about a six-month period of Paul filling in preaching after the church's pastor retired. We were very content to be working with the college ministry at Ball State. We had only been there four years, and were not seeking any new ventures in ministry or life in general. We were fine where we were. Yet God drew us....slowly.....affirming each step as we made it (mostly in great hesitation).
As I got to know the ladies in our church (who are now some of my closest friends), I met several who had had two miscarriages. And before I had even had one, there was a little piece of my mind that thought, I am meeting these ladies because this is going to happen to me. Maybe it was a morbid thought, but somehow I knew it would. And it did. Within six months, I had two.
Also during this time, we found out that Jean had stage four breast cancer. At age 29, Paul and I were facing the first parent to get sick. The first parent to be in the hospital. To move to a nursing home. To be given a life expectancy.
During this time, I had a successful pregnancy. One that added beautiful Sadie to our family.
There are times when God moves you to a new place in life that makes you wonder what your purpose will be there. It makes you think that you must have something to offer that these people need. Some gift....ability....talent....something. You don't think it in a prideful way, but more of a questioning one...."Okay, God, how are You going to use me here? What is the reason you uprooted my life there to bring me here?" And yes, there are reasons, ones we are still figuring out. Ways He chooses to use us that we weren't looking for.
But one of the biggest reasons I feel He brought us here, for such a time as this, is not that they needed us, but that we needed them. We needed this to be our church family. Through our celebrations, and through our grief, we needed them to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus. To share their experiences. To comfort us as they had been comforted. To care for our physical needs as well as our emotional ones. To love us in the dark so that God could shine His light. To be more than friends, but family. The family of God.
Paul and I have faced more as a couple in our time here than all the combined years before it. And we will face more, I have no doubt of that. I know that God will care for us wherever He has us, but for this season of our lives, we needed here. We needed now. We needed them.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
But she turned four months old last week. I would say "How in the world is this possible since it was only a few weeks ago I was rocking ABIGAIL to sleep???" But it is possible. We all know it and lament it.
She is currently lying on the floor on her blanket doing her usual singing/cooing/whining combo. She seems tired and doesn't really cry (I mean, she does cry, just not in these moments). She lies on her tummy and just.....complains. In an adorable baby way. She chews her fingers, her burp cloth, her entire fist. And just makes noise. It is like her sweet, droning lullaby to herself.
She is a mover. She rolls over from back to tummy. Boom. Instantly. There is really no use in putting her on her back anymore because she stays there all of 0.7 seconds. I have witnessed four rolls in a row (Daddy did, too), but usually she just rolls from back to tummy and stays there. Sometimes she makes noise, sometimes she just props herself up on her forearms and watches the world go by.
She is a watcher. She always wants to be held in an upright position (don't even TRY putting her on her back). She prefers sitting up in an exersaucer or being propped up against pillows to any kind of horizontal position. She wants to watch, watch, watch. My favorite is when she turns her head and just stares at Abigail. It is like she is making mental notes....oh, I will be just like her in that way. No wait, Mommy didn't sound so nice in the way she said that to her, so maybe I won't do what she just did. Oh, that big sissy-person is funny. She makes me want to kick my legs. She talks to me in silly voices. Yeah, I like her.
She is a cuddler. If she is being held, 99% of the time, she is happy. If she is not being held, well, all bets are off. She wants to be in your arms, so quit sitting and talking to adults in the room and pick me up.
She is a Mommy's girl. I didn't really try and make this happen. It just did. So if you are holding her and she cries, and then I pick her up and she immediately goes silent and happy, well.....whoops. It's just how it is. It is the Power of the Mommy. It's like strong voodoo magic, and I don't know how to do otherwise.
She is a blessing. She is every bit as perfectly awesome as I remember babies being at this age. Even when a day with a baby is not always easy or perfect, it is a day with a baby. And that is wonderful.
Love our Sadie Grace. Happy four months old!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
1. I'm not whining. I'm just talking in a whiney voice.
2. Mommy, have you ever eaten boogies? They are salty and good.
3. And my recent favorite: On our last night in Orlando, we ate at a super-yummy Brazilian restaurant. They served fried yucca with each meal, which is basically like french fries, only a little more bland tasting and in much need of vinegar, salt, or ketchup. The Brazilian owner kept pronouncing it yook-a, so we were all cultured saying, "Oh Abigail, try the YOOKA, it's like french fries. So good!"
To which she responded, "It's not said YOOKA, it's said FUH-YOOKA."
To which Paul responded, "Uh, nope. No, it's not."
I know it may be hard, but it's best to not bring these things up to Abigail. She doesn't know "what word it sounded like" when she said fuh-yooka, and it would just require explaining that I would rather not do when she is four. And she hates feeling laughed at (HATES IT), so let's just all have a good laugh while looking at the computer. And never speak of it again.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
We are going to Florida for the Southern Baptist Convention and tacking on a couple of days for family time. We are definitely looking forward to a break and some fun time as family and seeing friends.
Yet there is still sadness. In some ways, the last few days have reminded me of how I felt after my second miscarriage. I would read facebook statuses and ponder how everyone else's days were going on normally while ours felt like there was an empty hole in it. I would go about the normal things of the day and then have a moment where the hurt would grab me and I would think "too normal, too soon."
I'm hurting for my husband, my daughters, my sisters- and brothers-in-law. I'm hurting for me. There is a lot about this precious mother-in-law of mine that I am not sure I appreciated enough while she was with us. I think I gradually appreciated her more over the course of my marriage to Paul, but most of all now that she is gone. I remember my mom saying how she and my grandma used to butt heads over things all the time, but once grandma had passed, none of those things mattered anymore. That's how I feel now....none of that "stuff" matters anymore. All that matters is that we miss her.
I keep replaying our visit with her just one week ago yesterday. I keep remembering her voice, her hugs, her conversation.
We are okay. Yes, we are okay. Just different now. Looking forward to the break ahead, but still remembering. Stuck...for now.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I shared this today at her funeral. Wasn't sure whether to post it, but Paul told me he hoped that I would.
When your daddy is a pastor, your four-year-old daughter has more than the average kid’s experience with going to funerals. She has been to several funerals of people at our church, and just a few months ago even experienced the death of her Memaw and Papa’s kitty, Bart. These are things that are hard to explain to your little one, but we try our best to find the words to help it make sense. Last summer, we lost a dear person in our church to a battle with cancer. We went to the funeral together, and then Abigail had her first time going to the cemetery. We explained to her that Sam’s body was in that big box, and they were going to put it into the ground because now that he was in Heaven with Jesus, God gave him a brand new body that wasn’t sick anymore. It could run and jump and dance.
We explained that dying is like going to sleep here, but when you wake up you are in Heaven. When you wake up, you see God’s face, and that is pretty awesome. We told her that you will see people here crying, but it is only because we are sad that we don’t get to spend time with the person we love anymore until we go to live in heaven. And if we are smiling and laughing, it’s because we remember how much we loved that person and all o f the special times with them. Either emotion is okay to have.
We have talked about the beauty of heaven, as best as we can understand it. How the streets are made of pure gold and God has a house just for you.
Recently, however, we talked about something that held fast in her little mind. We were driving to my parents house, and the subject of heaven came up. We are going to Disney World soon for a vacation, and Abigail said “Disney World is the best place in the world. But it’s not as good as heaven.” Then I said, “Abigail, did you know that when you go to heaven, you have a HUGE feast? It’s the biggest and best meal you could possibly imagine. And we get to eat with God! If you could think of your very favorite foods to eat at the feast in heaven, what would you have?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Cake. And cookies.”
“Those would be delicious things to eat,” I said. Then I told her the things I would choose to eat, knowing full well they were things that I love but she thinks are disgusting. “I would eat LOTS of shrimp. And crab legs. And COTTAGE CHEESE. MMMMMM, LOTS OF COTTAGE CHEESE.”
“Ewwwwwww!” she said.
The last several weeks, Abigail has talked a lot about that feast. When she saw Bart, the kitty’s grave at my parents’ house, she said, “He’s at the kitty feast in heaven. She’s prayed about it. She’s thanked God for it.
On Monday, we visited with Jean for the last time. She was awake, though confused, and we had a wonderful time with her. We talked, Abigail sang to her, she held our baby Sadie and when her arms were too tired, I held Sadie and Jean gently stroked her little bare foot while we talked. Abigail went over next to Paul and smiled at Jean. “We’ll see her at the feast.”
Paul and I exchanged looks quickly, tears springing to our eyes. Jean said, “What did she say? I didn’t hear what she said.”
“She was just telling me something.” Paul answered.
It’s hard to tell your daughter that the grandma she loved has gone to live with Jesus. But in her own way, I think Abigail understood better than most adults do. Jean is sitting at the banquet table of God. Enjoying the fullness of Him. And Abigail knows we will see her again….and what a feast it will be.
Friday, May 28, 2010
But we are a tired people, this Daddy and Mommy.
We've read books. Articles. Heard sermons. Prayed. Talked to people much further along in this process than ourselves.
And this week, there have been two things that have lifted me, have made me think we can get through this cycle until the next one hits. The first came from learning about the strong-willed child from Dr. Dobson. And my goodness, does she fit the bill. Reading ways that we can guide her, establish our authority over her, and pray for her was a real teaching moment for Paul and me, as I'm sure it will continue to be.
The second came from my dear friend, Charlotte. We met up with Kerry and Charlotte for dinner the other night. Talking in our best try-not-to-let-Abigail-hear-us voices, Charlotte asked how Abigail has been adjusting to Sadie. I told her the answer that I feel I've said to everyone who has asked that question....to Sadie, she is perfect. She loves her, sings to her, hugs her, kisses her. It's overwhelming, her love toward Sadie. It's beautiful and I adore it. But I do think there is jealousy there, it just doesn't get directed toward Sadie. It gets directed toward me, and maybe just a little bit toward Paul. She and I butt heads a lot now...too much. Paul has always said she is just a little version of me, and frankly, it isn't too fun to see yourself in a miniature mirror.
On the way out to the car, Charlotte told me that I am doing a good job, even if I don't see it. I assured her that lately, I don't see it. Yes, I know in some ways I am doing a good job. And I am still doing what I have always wanted to do by being a mommy. But when you are in the thick of it, all you see is how you are not doing any of it "right."
Then Charlotte said something to this effect: But you know, Amy, God has started a good work in Abigail, and He will be faithful to complete it. But you are not the only person He has to use in order to complete that work. I realized it with my oldest daughter when she met her husband. I realized that God was using him in her life in a way He could not use me. There are many people that God can use to complete that work in her, so don't put all of that pressure on yourself.
I have thought about these words several times this week. My friend Angie and I were talking today about hearing our little ones singing songs that they learned in their Sunday School classes at church, songs that we know we did not teach them. I shared what Charlotte told me to Angie, and it kind of hit us both that we were seeing this unfold before us....God is indeed using other people in the lives of our children. Yes, our influence is great, especially at this stage, but it isn't only our influence that will shape them into the completed work God has in mind.
I love my Abigail. And today? It was a pretty good day. There were sweet moments and no bedtime battles. I silently sat next to her bed tonight and kissed her cheeks as she slept. I know that this is just a part of growing up....for both of us. And hopefully, when all is said and done, we will both see that God was faithful to complete the good work that He began in us.
Monday, May 24, 2010
1. We are leaving for Florida in a couple of weeks. The Southern Baptist Convention is in Orlando this year, and we are tacking on two extra days just for some family time. I love that we have the SBC every year to guarantee a little family get-away to somewhere. So far, the ones we have gone to have been no farther than a few hours drive, so this is pretty exciting to us. The next several years will all be locations we will fly to. Paul and I have flown together several times, but never with the kiddos, so I'm a little nervous about that. I love to fly, so I'm not scared or anything...just nervous about maneuvering the airports with the girls and all the gear.
We will also spend one day at Disney, which I know is like dropping a cup of coffee in the Grand Canyon and calling it sufficiently filled, but with our little ones at this age, I think one day will be fine. Abigail has told us repeatedly that Disney World is the best place in the world except for heaven. And I don't think I can dispute that claim in any way, shape, or form.
2. Sadie is nothing short of heart-melting, barely-able-to-stand-it adorable right now. She coos little songs and kicks her legs and smiles like crazy. She has chubby rolls on her legs. She watches people all the time. She alllllmost sleeps all night (wakes up around 6:00 a.m. to eat and then sleeps some more). The only way you could possibly know how precious she is would be to come hold her, and yes, you are welcome to (maybe I would finally mop my kitchen floor. Or take a nap.).
3. Bedtime for Abigail has been pretty rough lately. Lots of fits and angry words. But last night we had a big ol' snuggle fest, and it worked great. Maybe I've been snuggling the little one so much I haven't realized that Abigail needed to be caught up on snuggles herself. So we did. And it was wonderful.
4. Did I mention I need to mop my kitchen floors? It's embarrassing.
5. Yes, Paul and I watch LOST. No, we have not yet seen the finale. We try to not watch it while Abigail is awake, because we used to watch it with her in the room, and then there was the time Sayid's girlfriend got hit by a car, and she brought it up two week's later about the girl who got hit by a car, and we have watched it after she has gone to bed since. I think I may have seen something about the ending on someone's facebook status, and now I feel bad for knowing. So don't tell me anything. I think we are watching it with friends tomorrow night.
6. Adorable Sadie is crying like crazy now, so I shall go pick her up. Bye for now!
Monday, May 17, 2010
A few nights ago, I was folding my late-night loads of laundry while watching some good movie (I don't remember, it's not important). Paul was about to go to bed, I was about to call it quits for the night. And then, OH THEN, the opening credits came on....Wishin', and hopin', and thinkin', and prayin'.... Shut it off, Amy. SHUT OFF THE TV. It is 12:30 in the morning. That won't get you into his arms.... Don't do this to yourself. You must go to bed. My Best Friend's Wedding. I couldn't help myself.
Paul's eyes start rolling back in his head as he told me he has never seen the movie. And then he kept saying things about Michael like "You're gay." And I would inform him that Michael was not gay, he was THE BEST FRIEND. Then he would say, "Well, I have never seen the movie, but there is someone who is gay in it."
Ugh. It's Rupert Everett. He's missing the point. I told him that EVERY college freshman girl had to sigh over this movie at some point because there was ALWAYS a best friend (like I need to tell you....you've been there).
I began saying my favorite quotes from the movie, which at age 31 (did you know Jules was 28 in the movie??? I mean, come on), do have an air of cheesiness to them, but 18-year-old Amy did not care. Things like "He has you on a pedestal, and me in his arms."
I told Paul there is the wake-up call of all movie quotes...
George Downes: Michael's chasing Kimmy?
Julianne Potter: Yes!
George Downes: You're chasing Michael?
Julianne Potter: YES!
George Downes: Who's chasing you... nobody, get it? There's your answer. It's Kimmy.
That was when every girl realized that she was chasing someone who was chasing someone else. I did it. You did, too, so quit denying it.
Then I realized something. Paul chased me. For quite a while. I like to joke that he wore me down, but really I think I just realized it was good to be chased instead of chasing. I told him so, too. I thanked him for chasing me. We will have our eighth anniversary in a couple of weeks. And he still chases me...I just don't run as fast anymore. Maybe it took a late-night movie to remind me of that, and to thank God for a man that didn't stop chasing me.
And he sure can kiss.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A little over a month after that due date, we had the confirmation we had been waiting for. Pregnant again. Hard to believe it was my fourth pregnancy. We were so happy, so cautious, and for a while, so scared. Wanting to be happy, yet so aware of all that could happen. Wanting to love the little one growing inside of me, yet afraid to give my heart fully in love for a baby we may not meet.
But we did meet her. And hold her. And kiss her. And love her. Oh, my heart, do we love her. God was faithful in the dark, and He is faithful in the light. A lot can change in a year.
For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land ; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
My temper is too short. My patience is too thin. My energy is too low. This is not how it was supposed to be. Not in my plans, anyway.
And therein lies the problem. I cannot continue to strive toward being the mommy that I picture. I need to ask God who is the mommy He wants me to be to Abigail and Sadie.
When I look at myself, I see that Abigail watched too much tv this morning. I see that I glanced up from the computer each time she said, "Mommy, WATCH THIS" and proceeded to try to impress me with daredevil stunts. I see that I gave her a Pop Tart for breakfast because I was too tired to try harder. I see that I haven't taken her outside to play yet, even when the sun was shining so beautifully.
But I like to think when God looks at me, He sees the love in my heart toward my daughters. He sees the snuggles and cuddles at bedtime. He sees when we chase each other to her room. He sees the bathtime when I sit cautiously by while allowing Abigail to wash Sadie's hair. He sees our dinner the other night when she and I talked about the different parts of our bodies that God had made and what we can do with each part.
He sees that I'm trying, even when I see the moments when I fall harder than I mean to. And He gives me a beautiful guideline.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(I Corinthians 13: 4-7, NLT)
Unfortunately, I see all too much of the times I am not patient or kind. That I can be too proud to admit when I overreacted. That I demand my own way all the time, and it makes us butt heads. I am irritable...far too irritable.
But I have the model of perfect love. I know what I am capable of, with God's leading. I'm so thankful that He sees me where I am, and shows me a better way. Because when it comes down to it, I am head-over-heels crazy about my girls. And I am doing what I always wanted to do. But I can't do it on my own.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I am scheduled to sing the special music on Mother's Day at church. If I remember correctly, I sang on that day last year, too. I always have kind of a hard time finding a good song for a Mother's Day special. So many of them seem like the saccharine-y mommy versions of "Butterfly Kisses." They are just a little too sappy for my taste. Yet, I still feel like I need to choose a song that somehow goes along with the day.
Yesterday, I was driving with the girls in the car, and heard a song on the radio that I had never heard. I actually only caught the last chorus before the song ended and went on to the next song, so I didn't even know the name of the song or who it was by. But I knew I had to find it to sing at church.
The reason I liked the song so much for a Mother's Day song is that it focused on the goodness of God in one's life. It was a simple testimonial of a person who could honestly say that through the good and the bad along life's way, God's been good.
When I had my first Mother's Day after having Abigail, I felt like I had reached a rite of passage. I wanted to celebrate like I had never celebrated anything in my life. I wanted that day to be as special as it possibly could be, because HEY EVERYBODY, I'M A MOM! It never occurred to me that the holiday may not be as welcome to some. Mother's Day the last two years looked different to me. After experiencing the loss of two pregnancies (and before finding out I was pregnant with Sadie), I felt more subdued to the day. I understood the joy of celebrating being a mommy to Abigail, but I felt the pain of the children who did not join our family. And I realized that there are many women who feel the same.
Maybe they could not have biological children. Maybe they have lost pregnancies. Maybe they have even felt the pain of losing their own mom, and miss celebrating that day with her.
Yet God is good. He comforts. He loves. He carries. He shows grace. He is patient through grief. He mourns with those who mourn, and rejoices with those who rejoice. And that is why I chose this song. For those who love, love, love Mother's Day. For those who dread it. For those who can't wait to celebrate it. For those who would rather skip the day altogether. God understands it all. The joy, the pain. He is so good.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Being the organized chick that I am, even knowing fully that one can just walk in for a pedicure without an appointment, I made sure to call ahead three days before our girls night to get us in their calendar. I called the place we went to last time....LA Nails.
Then the day before our appointment, I called LA Nails to tell them I had bartered deer meat before, and asked if they could use any more. The guy said, "Uh, no, we're fine." Trust me, this phone call does not get less humiliating to make the more you make it, but hey, if it ends in a free pedicure, it's worth it.
When we showed up for our appointment, I saw that they closed at 8:00 p.m., not 9:00 like I was told on the phone. Our appointment was for 7:30. They kind of gave us "that look" when we walked in, the "it's almost closing time and you have to be kidding me" look. I told them we had an appointment under Amy Cooper. They flipped through their book. Nope. No Amy Cooper here. I assured them that I had called ahead on Monday. They fit us in anyway.
Fast forward to today. I was balancing my checkbook and saw the charge for the pedicure go through. The charge to LE Nails. I knew that was not where I made the appointment. I quickly googled LE Nails, and then LA Nails. They are both on US Hwy 41, so I know I must have just assumed it was the right place. And all I can do is laugh that the people at LE Nails are not jerks for giving us dirty looks and OBVIOUSLY not writing us down in their appointment book. I am a jerk for calling the wrong place and then standing up the poor souls at LA Nails.
Not to mention that I feel for the poor guy who talked to the crazy woman on the phone who assured him that I had bartered deer meat for a free pedicure in the past and wanted to wheel and deal again. I get it. I'm a jerk...but a jerk with a very fancy pedicure.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Me: Abigail, why did the banana go to the doctor?
Abigail: What banana?
Me: The banana.
Abigail: I didn't tell you about a banana in my story.
Me: No, I'm asking you a joke. Why did the banana go to the doctor?
Abigail: I don't know. Why did it?
Me: Because it wasn't peeling well.
Abigail: It wasn't peeling well?
Me: You know, it sounds like feeling well, but you stay peeling, because you peel a banana.
Abigail: It didn't peel well?
Abigail: Because it was dirty? It didn't peel well because it was dirty?
Me: Uh, no. It went to the doctor because it wasn't PEELING well. Like FEELING.
Abigail: Oh. (courtesy chuckle...obviously not getting it) Hey Mommy, Knock Knock.
Me: Who's there?
Abigail: Little Wolf.
Me: Little Wolf who?
Abigail: Little Wolf needed glasses so he went to the doctor. Good-bye.
Maybe we'll lay off jokes for another year or two.
Monday, March 22, 2010
If you don't like the outcome of the healthcare bill. If you do. God is God, and He is good.
If people disappoint you, whether it is someone you are close to, or your government leadership. God is God, and He is good.
If you woke up on Monday morning, and it was gray and raining outside on the second day of Spring. God is God, and He is good.
If you feel like you have days that are spinning out of control around you, or you feel like you just may have a handle on things today. God is God, and He is good.
If you are cuddling your newborn baby, or if you are not sure that baby will ever come. God is God, and He is good.
If you are struggling to pay the bills, or if you are getting by just fine, God is a great provider. God is God, and He is good.
If your life doesn't look exactly the way you thought it would at this point, or if you are perfectly content with where you are right now. God is God, and He is good.
Some days are hard. Some days aren't. Whether the sun is shining outside or it rains, whether you know what today has in store for you, or it is about to throw you for a total loop. God is God, He is on His throne, and He is good. Always.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I got out the baby lotion and began to rub Sadie's tiny limbs.
"Dear God, bless Sadie's feet. Let her feet be beautiful ones that carry the good news of Jesus to people who don't know Him. Thank you for Sadie's hands. Let her hands be ones that serve others. Bless Sadie's arms. Let them be outstretched to hug people who need love. Thank you for Sadie's (screaming) mouth. Let this mouth speak words of love and encouragement to the people she meets. Let it tell others that God loves them. Bless Sadie's eyes. Protect them, Lord, from looking at anything that would be harmful to her. Let her look at things that show beauty. Thank you for Sadie's mind. Protect it from anyone that would want to hurt her. Help her mind to learn new things, to have wisdom and discernment between right and wrong."
Over my prayers and Sadie's cries, I heard the unmistakable sound of Abigail starting to cry.
"Abigail, what's the matter? Why are you crying?"
"You don't pray for me. You only pray for me at naptime and bedtime. Not like that."
"Oh, honey. I do pray for you, all the time. You're right, I don't pray for you at bath time any more, because you are so big and you take baths by yourself. And then you get ready for bed by yourself. Sometimes you just don't hear the prayers I pray for you. I pray for you when I spend time talking to God and reading my Bible. I pray for you at church."
"At church? Like when you are in big church and I'm in my class?" (still crying)
"Yes. Abigail, why are you still crying?"
"I don't know! I can't stop."
I realized that, as wonderful as she has been adjusting to her new sister these last couple of weeks, we were dealing with our first case of jealousy. And this kind of jealousy, somehow seemed okay to me. She's right....she doesn't hear my prayers except for naptime and bedtime. I have always felt that we exemplified a prayerful lifestyle to Abigail...praying for our meals, praying in the car before we go somewhere, praying for friends who are sick and hurting. But today, maybe in her little bit of insecurity over this new baby, maybe in my own, I realized that she needed to hear me pray for her. Not just to sleep well. Not just to thank God for the people in our lives. Not even just to know Jesus better. But to pray God's blessing over her.
"Honey, do you want me to pray for you now?"
(Still crying) "No."
"What if I rubbed lotion on you and prayed, like I just did for Sadie. Do you want me to do that?"
She climbed up on the bed, still rubbing away tears in her eyes. I put the baby lotion in my hands and began to massage it onto her skin like I used to do when she was a baby.
"Dear God, thank you for my precious Abigail. Bless her feet to spread the good news about Jesus to people who don't know Him (Abigail, do you know that the Bible calls those Beautiful Feet?). Thank you for her legs. Help them to carry her to places she should be, and carry her away from places she shouldn't. Thank you for her tummy. Help it to always be full of food that is healthy and makes her grow. Thank you for her heart. Let it be a heart that is turned toward you, that is sensitive to the needs of others. Bless her hands to serve you and those around her. Help her hands to swim, clap, climb, cook, share her toys, hold good books to read. Thank you for her mouth. Help it to speak kind words to others, to speak words of obedience to Mommy and Daddy, to praise You. Lord, bless her eyes to look on things that are good and beautiful. (Honey, I'm not going to put lotion in your hair like I did Sadie's, or you'll get all greasy) Thank you for Abigail's mind. Help it to learn and grow. Help it to remember the Bible verses that she hears. Help her to be able to discern between good choices and bad ones.
Thank you, God, for Abigail. Amen."
"Mommy, you prayed a longer prayer for me than you did for Sadie."
"Well, I've known you longer. I know what to pray for you better. Mmmm, you smell good."
It can be tough adjusting to being a big sister. She has done beautifully so far. But she's right...I hope she never feels left out of her Mommy's prayers. A mommy can pray for her kids, but sometimes, they just need to hear it.