Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear Joshua, on your eighth birthday

Dear Joshua,

It's hard to believe that you are eight years old, although I know for a fact that you live every day to the fullest.  My dear firstborn, the first few months of your life threw me for a loop.  I was in a constant state of anxiety and fear.  Fear that you weren't eating enough, fear that you would never sleep in your own bed, fear that you would never stop crying, and fear that I would never get a full night of sleep again.  While I like people in general, and while I like to be around people, I had also grown quite independent by the time you arrived.  I wasn't sure what to do with you, this creature who needed me for everything.  I wondered if you would always need me for everything, and I breathed a sigh of relief at every sign of independence that you showed.  It's a good thing Vati is such a nurturer and so selfless with his time.  Had it not been for him you and I never would have survived.

And then I began to enjoy you.  I'd go to sleep at night thinking of the games we could play the next day, the puzzles we could work, and the books we could read.  It's hard to believe that just last summer you went to camp on your own.

But let me tell you about now.  I was just commenting to a friend yesterday about how much I appreciate your gentleness toward other people.  Yes, you're energetic, but your spirit is gentle and I think that draws people to you.  You don't have a single judgmental bone in your body.  When you're around kids who are different from you or who struggle, you love them anyway and value their friendship.  In fact, you do your best to be a friend to everyone.  I love how you and your little friends in your class rub each other's backs and put your heads on each other's shoulders.  There's not a bit of self-consciousness in any one of you, and your affection for one another is lovely.

I know you know this, but you're ridiculously brilliant. You're so bright that Vati and I wonder what we're going to do for you and with you.  I worry that you might become proud of your smarts and view yourself as better than others.  But maybe it's just grown-ups that do that. And while I love that you're smart, what I want you to be most of all is good and kind.

My prayer is that you will find what you love to do, what stretches your mind to the fullest, what really makes you come alive, and use that for God's kingdom.  God has called you to something wonderful.  What that is is between you and God, unless God clues any of the rest of us in on it. But that call is there, and as you grow a year older, I like to think I can see it taking shape.  I'm anxious to see it, but I pray that I won't get in the way of it or try to take it over, but only ever point you toward the God who began a good work in you and will see it to completion.  Dear God, don't ever let me get in the way.

Stay funny and kind.  Lose a little of the attitude with Vati, Clare, and me.  Keep doing your pull-ups and work on the back handspring.  Never lose your love for playing outside.  Throw the football and baseball whenever you can. And grow those front teeth back in.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Best Day Ever

Yesterday was great.

I got up and went to boot camp, and it wasn't until I got home and looked at FB that I remembered that it was Jay's liverversary.  I hugged him tight for a long time.  Then I did that really annoying thing where I say, "At exactly this time last year..." all morning long.

I also got to go to chapel at Union where Jay gave his testimony (I haven't used that word in a long time).  He did a really great job.  It wasn't until he sat down and I held his hand that I realized that he was shaking (not from Prograf) and that his heart was racing.

During our noon Communion service I told the story of David driving to Nashville so that he could be with us during the surgery.  I got to thank Cecil and Tharon for inviting the congregation to an impromptu prayer service on the day of the transplant.  I didn't share this in the service, but I later thanked Dan for the groceries and for letting things happen as they needed to happen.

I smiled all day.

I saw Jason's picture of newborn Amanda and remembered that, the day after the surgery, he brought leftovers from her birthday dinner to share with me: Famous Dave's and vegetables, with Trader Joe's beef jerky for a snack.

Amanda and David stopped at CVS to get earplugs for me so that I could sleep through the night.  I won't ever forget the breeze on the porch at Satco when I could finally breathe again.

My friend Laura asked at dinner last night if it (yesterday) was the best day of my life.  I told her that it really was.  One year ago I felt confident that Jay would be fine, but not much compares to the joy of looking back on that day and seeing just how well everything did turn out.

I don't think that it was until yesterday that I realized how vividly I could remember the faces that were with us, and all the kindness and goodness that went with those faces.  It wasn't until yesterday that I realized how vividly I remember every emotion, every moment of angst, every ounce of anxiety, the relief of talking with the surgeon when it was over, the terror of hearing the nurse yell Jay's name before I realized that he was trying to get Jay ready for extubation, the calm of knowing that my mom had our children and that I didn't have to worry about them, the absolute exhaustion when the day was over.

And every time I think about it I smile.  Sometimes I laugh.  Because it is so good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lent 2013

One of the most helpful things I found in the weeks leading up to Lent was this video posted from my friend Tonya.  It's incredibly dry but informative and helpful.  Maybe I was meant to be Lutheran.

Anyway, I started thinking about my Lenten disciplines and how they fit into the four historical Lenten disciplines in the church.  This rubric was really great for helping me check myself and see if I was covering all the bases.  And because I never really feel like I'm ready for Lent until I've written down my intentions, here goes:

1.  Prayer

2.  Service
  • The family is using the Lenten World Hunger Calendar again this year.  We did this a few years ago and the kids really liked it.  We slacked off last year, for obvious reasons, but they seem excited to do it again.  It involves scripture reading, prayer, and donation of money every day.
  • We are also going to participate in the Giving (Up) campaign at our church to support our Habitat for Humanity building project.  We've pledged to give a day of working on the house, to pray, and to give financially.
3.  Study
  • My goal this year is to memorize Psalm 51.  If I get through that, I'll probably try for another of the Lenten texts.
  • Oh, and I also have three more books to read and multiple papers to write before my cohort reconvenes in June, if we're talking about that kind of studying.
4.  Fasting
  • I was never much of a shopper until I started working again, and now I could spend all day on Zulily, eBay, and Shop it to Me.  During Lent I've decided that not only am I not going to buy...I'm not even going to look.  I need to fast from it because I spend to much time doing it, and it has been skewing my already-wrong view of what my priorities should be. 
  • I am fasting from speaking to my kids in any way other than the way I want their tapes to sound.   In other words, if the words I speak to them now are the words that are going to be knocking around in their heads, 30 years from now, I want those words to be gracious and life-giving.  I'm fasting from words that aren't.
  • I'm fasting from computer and phone while my kids are awake.  It's distracting and it sets a bad example.
So, that's about it.  I've failed in every area already.  

Have a holy and blessed Lent!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A New Lenten Season

I just reread this post, written on Ash Wednesday 2012, apparently just hours before we found out that Jay had been placed on the transplant list.  It's kind of funny that I didn't wait to write the post, knowing that we would likely get a phone call that night.

This time of preparation for Lent has been much different than last year.  I actually enjoyed the Mardi Gras Kids' Parade this year instead of standing in the middle of the street feeling lost and mute.  And I preached at the evening Ash Wednesday service this year, instead of sitting in the pew and weeping.  

Oh, there was weeping this year, just not from the pew.  

I expected that this Ash Wednesday I would be smiling at the memory of the life-changing news that we had received just a year before, but instead I felt fairly contemplative and not very chatty.  I wrote a sermon that I figured would do but I wasn't really on fire about it.  During dinner prior to the service I remembered standing up on a chair in the middle of our fellowship hall and yelling to anyone who would listen that Jay had been placed on the list.  And while I was preaching I remembered sitting in the pew with Jay who, when he was reminded that he was dust, and that he would return to dust, wept openly.  And then I sort of lost it.  I only had about five sentences of my sermon left, so I powered through, but it took me by surprise.  I know that anniversaries of major events carry a lot of emotion, but I didn't think I'd get choked up given that the news we received a year ago was so happy. 

But I sure did.  

It's really incomprehensible that it's been a year since we got the news.  It made for a pretty meaningful Lent, that's for sure.  I remember telling my colleagues when we returned from the transplant evaluation not to be surprised if Jay actually had the transplant during Lent.  It just seemed appropriate.  And sure enough, Lent was our waiting season, and Easter was our first time back in church as a family.

It was meaningful, yes, but Jay and I have agreed that a not-so-meaningful Lent would be just fine this year.