Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day

In 2009 Mother’s Day changed for me. It’s a behemoth of emotions. A beast of thanksgiving, appreciation, guilt and grief.

Thanksgiving because I am a mother. A mother to five unique, thriving, challenging, life-loving children that make me better. For that, I give thanks.

Appreciation for the mother I was givenAn overwhelming realization that I had it so very good. The best of the best gave me my start. For my grandmother and her mother and the legacy passed on through their hearts and hands. For the mother that raised my husband in to a man. I am indebted.

Guilt because I had no choice in it. Chance…fate…call it what you will, but nothing I did or didn’t do gave me the privilege I was born in to. The country, the color of my skin, the education, the family of faith and hard workers…a family of love. Chance.  A sour taste in my mouth that I can give them the life she couldn’t. A confusing mix of questions that wonders why me.  A realization that there is no answer that comes but the responsibility that does. A guilt unnecessary and uncalled for but felt just the same.

Grief. Unhinged, uncontainable grief for a birth mom. A longing for a young mother that the system and this world completely failed. Her family failed her. The Church failed her. A young mom I met on a park bench  that desired to keep her children safe and give them the opportunity for a different, healthy life. A young mom that knew she wasn’t capable of supplying that. A mom that chose life for her children but was unable to trust us after years of getting love and being used confused. My heart fractures  a thousand times over remembering that day . A mourning for what could have been and a life untouched by real agony.  An anguish I see my children struggle with in different ways at different stages. A loss so real and raw and unimaginable that I can never fully heal for them. An unnatural loss. A rip the flesh from your chest and leave a gaping pain type of loss. A hole that seems to heal and close over and with a sound or smell or a moment of happiness can erupt open to expose the wound deep inside.

Mother’s Day. A brutally beautiful day filled with the inexplicable emotions of a life fully lived. A life of big love and big loss and appreciation and grief and redemption. A day of remembering, celebrating, grieving, and praising. A day that has forever changed for me. A day for life moms and mom’s for life. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Some love.


19 years ago 2 kids planned for their marriage instead of their wedding day. They were smart and kind and focused on a life together with Jesus.

And it was good and it was hard.

Job changes, sick parents, children, adoption and more of other people’s children…Resources stretched thin and budgets thinner. Shift work, and sports schedules, surgeries and health scares, dance recitals and tutoring. The business of life competed for their attention. Parenting styles, spender and saver, impulsive and planner, logical thinker and heart responder, open communicator and a blank stare. Freakishly disciplined and bored with routine. Conservative right and progressive moderate. One that’s right and one that isn’t:) Marriage is not for the weak. I don’t know if God puts us with the one that will challenge our weaknesses or he just has a warped sense of humor. We have spent years laughing together and other years clinging to one another when we wanted to run. Marriage has been my greatest blessing and biggest challenge. There have been days I’ve not been able to picture my life without him and days I’ve wondered how we ever made it past the first date. Ours isn’t the fairy tale you often read about. You won’t be seeing us frolicking through the open field on the big screen anytime soon. Ours isn’t the love they write about. Ours is the love they should.

I think we unfairly show a love that few have. A love it’s easy to feel jealous of, truth be told. A love I think people spend a lifetime searching for instead of investing in the one they have. I think some loves start like an intense love and infatuation and when it starts to require work we have been taught in error that love shouldn’t be that hard. Love is hard. Some love requires work. Some love requires sacrifice and compromise. Some love looks different from year to year but is love just the same. Some love goes to counseling and cries late in to the night trying to get back on track. Some love says I blew it again but will keep on trying. Some love grasps hands at the end of the day and asks God to help you make it through another. Some love asks for forgiveness a hundred times over. Some love needs a daily reminder not to keep score. Some love works hard to focus on the good when it’s standing in the middle of stink. Some love isn’t perfect, made for the big screen, flower filled, romantic gesture, warm fuzzy, never disagree, filled with quality time together goodness. Some love just keeps fighting through the stink when the water gets murky. Some love keeps breaking through the mask of the life worn person they see to get to the heart of who they know. Some love knows that this season may be difficult but there is a new season waiting if we just choose to love through this one. Some love is a process. A journey. Some love hasn’t made it to its’ final destination but chooses to stay on the path.  


Learn to appreciate that some love. Learn that if your marriage doesn’t look like the movies this week that if you hang on long enough you’ll find your own amazing love story. Know your love is worthy. Know that at year 25, the stink of year 9 and 10 won’t matter. Know that love is more than passion and fireworks, flowers and fanfare. Some love hunkers down and does the work. Some love says you stunk today but I’m gonna be here tomorrow. Some love wants to flip the other in the forehead one day and kiss it the next. 


19 years ago after dating for 5 years, we stood and we didn’t say I do. We said, I will. I always will. The beauty of our story, of our love, is better than any of the tough stuff. When I look back and see the family we have built, the life we have lived…there is not a single other person I would rather do this with. No one else would have gone for this crazy. When I look back I see a love that is real and deep and lasting. I see a love that reflects God’s presence in our life. Not a love of perfection, not a love free of struggle but a love full of grace and goodness. A love full of redemption and sacrifice. A love of persistence and joy and forgiveness and beauty. A love I am proud of. A love I’d choose a thousand times over. A love I look at and say, now that, that is some love. Some love. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Miss Independent



“I can do it on my own, mom.” From the time she could talk she’s been saying this to me. “By myself,” she would demand. I’ve heard this phrase or some variation of it hundreds of times before but this week, a week before she turns 17, it made my throat tighten and tears sting the corner of my eyes. It was an unexpected reaction.
She began walking when she was 9 months old. She could literally tell me in full sentence that she wanted Blue’s Clues for her first birthday party. She was so independent and freakishly ahead of her time that when her poor brother came along I thought for certain there was something significantly wrong with this chubby boy that just spit up and smiled all day. He wouldn’t speak for 2 ½ years. He didn’t need to. Grace had it under control.
She was the first for my husband and I after losing 3 babies before and the first grandbaby, friend’s baby, niece, first baby on the block, first baby at work, etc. She had more love and affection than any child could ever need. The minute she started walking she didn’t have time for my lap. She had things to do and cuddles were reserved for when she was sleeping or not feeling well. Anything new we discovered she would tell me in a matter of minutes she didn’t need my help. “I do it, momma.” “Grace do it.” “I’m baby Genus.” Yes, you read that right. We had to tell her aunties to quit calling her a genius because she was starting to tell others she was one.
I sat in bed that night after asking if she needed any help with her project for school, and wondered why her answer, “I can do it on my own,” stirred up such a reaction in me.  I want her to need me. I like her needing me. That’s the hard truth. Being her momma has been my greatest purpose for the better part of two decades. In just a few short days she turns 17 and the truth is she can do it on her own. She is a fully capable young lady with her own set of gifts and talents and truths. She is confident and calm. My soon to be 17 year old self didn’t look anything like hers.  I’m not saying she still doesn’t need guidance or that my job here is done but this young lady is ready. It was the same feeling I got a few weeks back when I saw her sing karaoke on Broadway in Nashville and it was this glimpse at who she is becoming that took my breath away. I couldn’t give the feeling words then. She amazes me. She is smart and funny. She has legs like her daddy and the same calm approach to life. She has our family love for all things music and her momma's passion for justice. If she weren't my kid, I'd like her. She's good people. I love being her mom. I love being with her. 
It’s a crazy thing that God asks us to do. Parent this little gift and raise them to not need us. Pour your entire heart and soul in to this little life that will need you every single second of theirs until one day they won’t. And then you have to let them go. Let them do it on their own. Make their own choices, their own mistakes, their own path. Like the toddler that walks around holding on to your fingertips with careful little steps and one day just lets go and keeps right on walking. All. By. Themselves. Sometimes lately it feels like too much to ask of this momma’s heart.  I want to wrap myself around her leg like she used to do to her daddy when she didn’t want him to leave.
A hundred lessons I still need to teach and even more I feel like I didn’t get right the first time flood my mind and the tears fall in the darkness of my room while I hear her softly singing in hers. She is the best thing I’ve ever done. While she doesn’t have it all figured out or the answers for what is to come in the next year and a half, I have total confidence she will do what’s right for her. I fully believe she will find her own path and make it look easy.
Then it comes to me as the sweet sound of her voice fills the night, she needs to know one more thing before this last full year in our home.  This self-sufficient, strong young lady absolutely has the ability to stand on her own but I need her to know more than anything else in this world, she doesn’t have to.  I absolutely need her to know she can do things on her own. She is independent, capable and strong. The thing is, and maybe more importantly, she also needs to know is that real strength comes in knowing you CAN do it alone but being thankful you don’t have too. God designed us to do life with others. Together. And that’s the beauty of it. So although I know she doesn’t need me, and is completely capable, she has a family and community of support here for her.

So my beautiful 17 year old daughter, you are loved more than you can possibly know. Don’t get anxious about choices for the future. You will make the right ones for you. It doesn’t matter what your friends do or what you think others think you should do. Be who God designed you to be.  Sure, stand on your own, you’ve been doing it since you were 9 months old but you have an army of friends and family here to stand with you. Not because you can’t alone, but because you don’t have to. The living of life happens with the people of this life.  And your people love you.