Posted in Children, Family, life, Love, parenting

A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.

 

Posted in Children, Family, parenting

A Letter To My Daughter On Her 5th Birthday

img_3166I can’t help but wonder if all mothers cry when their baby turns five years old? As soon as my eyes opened, I began to think of you. Not that that’s anything new. You are always the first thought to cross my mind. And as a sidenote, you will always be the first thought to cross my mind, no matter how old you are, no matter how far from me you travel.  I think Willie Nelson sang a song along those same lines.

I couldn’t stop the tears this morning. And all through the day, I’ve fought to keep them at bay.

Five years. Five beautiful, wonderful years. They have been the most precious, most blessed times of my life. And that is saying quite a lot, sweet Emma Kate, because my life has been pretty marvelous. But when you entered the world, it went to a brand new level.

I don’t know the answers to all life’s questions. I certainly don’t know much at all. But I know that you have allowed me and taught me to love in a way that never seemed possible. Sure, we have our ups and downs. Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, but when you step back and look at the big picture, there’s definitely more ups than downs and more cherries than pits in our bowl.

You are such a good kid. You are so smart. I have written to you for the first 12 months of your life, and then every year after that. Someday, I will print these out for you to keep and reflect back on. Reading back through, you will know how absolutely, infinitely loved and adored you are.

You have a great memory. You love to play a game with you daddy and I, especially on car rides, called “Remember when…..”. You usually start and say, “remember when we…” and you’ll fill in the blank. Then we all take turns giving our own remember whens. Sometimes, we all remember, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, I’m purely amazed at the things you remember from long, long ago. It’s also kind of sad when you don’t remember something that was pretty epic, so that’s one reason I write it down.

Because one day, my little lovebird, all you will be left with will be your memories. I want you to have good ones. Me and your dad are trying our hardest to give you an amazing childhood, but at the same time, being careful not to turn you into a brat. It’s a thin line to cross. Because sometimes giving your child everything is not the best, and someday you’ll understand that. It’s not about all the “things and stuff” in life, not the newest and greets, because those things always turn not so new, and not so great.

It’s about the “remember whens”. It’s about playing hide and go seek in the dark. It’s about birthday parties with family and friends, and adventures in the woods building forts, and hiking trails, and picking wildflowers. It’s about making play dough and playing dolls. It’s about lying in the yard and looking at the shapes in the clouds, or the stars at night. It’s about snuggles at bedtime and rocking chair time every morning with a blanket and chocolate milk and a warm,drowsy head on my chest. It’s about fishing at the lake, and swimming in a horse trough. It’s about dance parties through the house when our favorite song comes on, and sharing books together. It’s all the “remember when’s” that are too many to list.

It’s all about the time we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.

You are growing into a great young girl. You are no longer an infant, no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and pretty soon, you’ll no longer be a preschooler. You have learned so much. Most of your days are spent at St. Matthew’s where you’ve already learned to read 100 sight words. You are my little reader, but I always knew you would be. You understand numbers and how to put them together and take them apart. You also have a whole lot of dang common sense. You are practically perfect in every way. Much like Mary Poppins, huh?

Thank you Emma Kate for these last 5 years. They have been beyond my wildest imagination. I am so happy you’re mine. Someone posted on Facebook about you, that “God said ta-da”, and I think that sums it up perfectly. I love you oodles and gobs, and more, and more, and more.

Happy Birthday, my baby.

XOXO,

Mommy

 

Posted in Animals

Chicken Chasing—don’t miss out!

I had a weak moment recently and that’s how I ended up with two hens in my backyard. A friend of mine was having a moving sale and I thought I’d check out her deals. I had already picked out a lamp, a rug, a table, and a sack of polyfil when I passed by a large wooden chicken coop with a price tag that was too hard to pass up. I could feel my heart beating like a drum inside my chest. There is something about chickens that just gets me excited, you know?

I have had chickens. I love chickens. I want more chickens. But I’m just not in a place right now where I need chickens, if that makes any sense at all. We’re living back in town and although it’s legal to have a few backyard hens, I’m not properly set up for them. Regardless, I had to have that chicken coop because one day I will have chickens again. If there’s anything that brings me joy, it’s chickens.

Before I could even tell her I wanted the coop, she said, “I’ll throw in 3 of my hens too.” She was moving after all and she wouldn’t be taking them with her.

My heart exploded at that moment, my mind raced all over. I knew better, I did.  I knew better than to agree to 3 chickens. My head was saying no, but my heart was screaming GIVE ME SOME CHICKENS!

And that’s how I ended up with 2 hens in my backyard. Yes, it was supposed to be three but the third one caught wind of the chicken nabbing during the evening abduction and gave us some fits.

I brought those birds home after dusk in a cardboard box and tucked them safely into their new coop. They did fine that night, but the next day they started squalling to beat the band. I went out to check on them because they were so noisy. I carefully lifted the lid of the coop to take just a little peek when the next thing I knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and the birds were flying out of the lid, up over my head and were out of the coop and clucking like someone was about to wring their little necks. They clucked and squalled for hours until I knew I couldn’t keep these birds. The noise was bothering me, and I knew if the sweet sound of chickens were bothering me, it would only be a short time until the neighbors complained.

So I called my sister-in-law, who has a few of her own chickens and she agreed to come take them. She arrived with my 6th grade nephew and a plastic tote to gather the birds and carry them to their new home. Well, they weren’t having any of that. We were running around trying to capture them when the next thing we knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and one of the birds was flying up over heads, up over the fence, and into the next door neighbor’s back yard—the home of 3 dogs.

I swear I was tempted to just count my losses here, but my nephew wouldn’t hear of it. We left my backyard and rang the door bell of the neighbor to explain our predicament. She graciously let us in her backyard to collect the flyaway. But as for the other one, we decided to let her roost for the night and I would try to capture her in her sleep. So my sister-in-law and nephew headed home to await the call that I had captured the chicken. That call never came. That night she hid under a pile of limbs we had cut down and didn’t even move when I poked her with a stick. I knew she had injured herself in the fray and had crawled under there to die. My plan was to wait until morning and drag her dead body out and dispose of it.

The next morning, sure enough, she was out running around the backyard with our dogs Grace and Ozzie, and she had left me an egg under the limbs. Ah, I thought, what a good little chicken, and this one wasn’t near as noisy as the one sent off.  I was already getting attached.  I tended it that day as best as I could; feeding it watermelon and trying to trick it to go back into the coop. Hopefully it would roost back in the coop and that night I was going to capture it while it slept.

That night, it was nowhere to be found. A white chicken shouldn’t be too hard to spot in the dark, but even with a flashlight, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not under the limbs, not in the coop, not in the trees, not in hidey holes. Well, I figured I’d just count my losses. She’d probably flown over the fence and was dog food by now. I went to bed.

The next day, there she was running around the backyard with Grace and Ozzie again. Okay, you little houdini, tonight you are out of here! I will not be outsmarted by a chicken!

I watched her all day, I watched her like a hawk. I tracked her every move. I fed her watermelon and tried to trick her into going back in the coop. I talked sweetly to her. All she did was run the other direction. That night I was planning to grabbing her up. Dusk rolled in. I went out for the capture. She was gone again.  Holy macaroni! Now I was starting to get mad. I looked up to the heavens to curse and that’s when I saw her. Up, up, up–way up—in a tree high above my 5’2″ reach, even on my tippy toes.

To heck with it. We’ll just live like this, I conceded. I’d only gotten one egg in 3 days and she wasn’t worth the trouble anymore! It wasn’t 30 minutes later, my sister-in-law and nephew rolled up. They were in the neighborhood doing a little business.  I sent him back there to see if he could get that bird. I was standing in the front yard chatting with Janene when the next thing we knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and here she came, up over the fence and landed in the front yard with us.

And that’s when the chicken chase began.

It is one thing to try to catch a chicken in a confined space like a backyard, but let me tell you, it is altogether another thing to try to catch a chicken within a half mile radius.  I can’t be done, folks. Wanna guess how I know???

It began with my nephew Harley trailing her down the street. It was hysterical and I ran inside to get my phone to video it. That’s when she ran down the alley. I knew by the way he was yelling “Call in the reinforcements. Call animal control!” that he clearly needed my help. I grabbed a box and began the chase down the alley. We headed her off this way and that. She was back on the side street, then back up our street, then across the road, then under the bushes of many different homes, then back on our street, then up to the next street. At this point SIL Janene and little EK had joined in the chase. It was Harley in the lead, then me, then EK carrying my phone, then Janene in the rear doubled over laughing with a box in her hand. I’m pretty sure a few extra people got a good giggle as they walked and drove by as well.

We clearly were not going to be able to catch the chicken in an all out run, so I ran to the house and grabbed a couple of blankets.  We were going to try to throw them over her head and tackle her. Throw. Miss. Run. Throw. Miss. Run. That plan failed too. Our next plan was to corner her, surround her and hope for the best.

Darting here, darting there, she zigged, she zagged, she burrowed under plants. I think I even heard her say *beepbeep* when she ran past us a time or two. Finally, I don’t know what happened. But by pure luck or chance, we chased that girl right into our garage. I shut the door and she at least was in a confined space again. It didn’t take long. We squeezed ourselves around the vehicles, bicycles, lawn mowers. Harley got down on his belly and dragged her out, and stuck her in a box. We were tired and we were dripping sweat.

Good bye and good riddance. But honestly? I had more fun chasing that chicken than I’d had in months! Despite the frustration and challenge, I laughed and laughed.

The next day I was sore. Seriously sore. My inner thighs burned, my calves burned. It was a workout, y’all.  As I rubbed my sore muscles, that’s when I got the greatest idea of my life.

Chicken chasing—the next greatest and bestest fitness plan out there.  The benefits are practically endless!
*Burn calories
*Tone muscles
*Increase your heart rate
*Enjoy the great open spaces
*Raise endorphins from hysterical laughter while you and your friends chase chickens

Step aside Tony Little. Move over TaeBo and Salsa dancing. I’ve got a cardio workout for you. It’s going to be a sensation! I just have to find someone to sell this idea to.

The next time you can’t sleep and you’re flipping through late night channels, don’t be surprised if  you see me on an Infomercial promoting my workout plan.
And that’s not all! Because you are one of my faithful blog readers, I’ve got a deal for you!

If you want to be an early bird (get it? early bird?) and not wait for the infomercial, you can go ahead and send me 4 installments of only $29.99 each and reap the benefits today! Don’t wait!!! I know where I can find a chicken to chase!

 

 

 

Posted in parenting, Pregnancy

What this day means to me

The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.

Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.

I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.

Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless.  Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.

There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be.  Then suddenly wasn’t to be.

I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.

I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.

I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?

We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
Especially today.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.

jesus-with-children-0408

 

Posted in Faith, life, Writing

Desiderata “things desired”

I read the following poem on a stormy afternoon while lying in bed. The window was open and great gusts of wind carried in the smell of an approaching spring thunderstorm. Even as the sky darkened with ominous clouds, I felt at peace. A peace I wish you could know. A peace I wish everyone could know.

I happened upon this poem, not by chance I’m sure. It spoke so loudly to me, so clearly, as if it held all the answers.

I felt it needs to be shared.  It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, yet its words are timeless. Read it slow. Take it in. Roll it around in your mind. I personally plan to commit it to memory. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Strive to be happy.

Angel

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Posted in Faith, Spirituality

Water-Walking in the Storm

 

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WHOOSH.
The sound of the wind being sucked from our sails. The rug being pulled from under our feet. The breath knocked from our lungs.

It happens. This life has a way of sometimes catching us off guard. Sometimes it’s when we’re rocking along, with everything going our way, and then WHOOSH. Or maybe it’s when things have just started to look up, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and then WHOOSH. That new job has come along, or that tax refund just hit the mailbox, or that relationship has blossomed into promise. Then WHOOSH. Without warning we’re blindsided.

Blindsided by the whoosh. The bad news. The unexpected turn of events. The loss of something we inevitably were taking for granted.  No one is immune from the storms and trials our existence on planet Earth delivers. If you are a human being and breathing air, you are going to feel the whoosh of life. It certainly doesn’t take anyone long for that realization to sink in. Storms come. They come in all sizes. From the small drizzle to the devastation of a tsunami.

I am a glass half full girl. I believe in hope. I see the Promise land. Deliverance from the desert. Rest for the weary. Rainbows after storms. Resurrection after death. Promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to stay stuck in our storms. One thing I know, storms are temporary.

My desire is to be a water-walker. I want to be like Peter, who when in the midst, (IN THE MIDST, not when facing it or after it was over, but in the smackdab middle) of his storm, put his eyes on Jesus and walked on water. While the waves beat and the wind howled and while his robe and beard blew in the gust and the water splashed upward and crashed into his face, while the rain stung his eyes, while all that was happening—  he kept his gaze on Jesus Christ and walked on the water toward him.

Are you going through a storm? A trial? Has the wind been sucked from your sails? Has the rug been pulled out from under your feet? Are you gasping for breath?

There’s only one thing to do.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not focus on the problems. Focus on the provider. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
What happened when Peter noticed the wind all around and put his focus on the storm? He began to sink. But immediately Jesus was there to save him. Our savior is here. Walking toward us in our storms. Take comfort in that.

Nothing catches him by surprise. Jesus doesn’t feel the Whoosh of life. Just as He knew the storm would come and he sent the disciples out  anyway, he also knew they would make it to the other side. He knows the storm that surrounds you. He sees you straining. He sees your toil. He is walking toward you, ready to assist you. He knows you will make it to the other side.

Look up. Lift your chin. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He who is the master of the storms. He who walks on water. He who braves all the storms and comes toward us when we are afraid.

He will rescue us when we cry out to him.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19