Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Year Blessings

I held my breath while the ultrasound tech waved the wand over my belly. I was pretty sure she'd say pink- I already had two little girls at home, and couldn't imagine that it would be any different this time around. Then she pointed at the screen, and I knew what she was about to say. "It's a boy." A boy? As in dirt and worms, loud and hyper? As in no dresses, frills, or nail polish? What would I do with a boy?? I felt a twinge of disappointment. My girls would always need me for girl talk, but wouldn't a boy drop the need for his mommy as soon as he hit adolescence? All of these thoughts rushed in within a split second. And then I looked over at Bill. The smile said it all. He loves his girls more than life- he is wrapped around their little fingers- but now he had a son. Even if all my "fears" came true, his joy right there was worth it.

About three months later, Isaac came into the world. It was the dream birth experience I'd always hoped for, and will never forget. I delivered him in a water birth at a small birth center, surrounded by friends and family. I started to cry the instant I pulled him up to my chest and held him close. As I snuggled with him in bed a short time later, I knew that life with a son was something I'd be forever grateful for. I am struggling for a way to put it into words. I love all of my children equally, but each one brings something different to me. For Isaac- he's the mixture of rough and sweet that only a little boy could bring. As much as he runs from me and rubs off my kisses, I know he loves me deeply. On his last night of being a two year old, I tucked him in to bed and started to cry. My mind went back to the birth center where I first fell madly in love with him. I remembered holding him while watching Bill cut the cord- the first of many moments I would have to let go of a part of him. As the tears fell down my cheeks last night with the memories overwhelming me, Isaac sat up in bed, kissed my tears and wrapped his little arms around me.

Isaac- I love how you call me "mama". I love how you lay in my bed in the morning, put your nose up to my face and loudly whisper. "MAMA. spugebob." (Spongebob.) You pretend to not like my kisses, and immediately rub them off. You try to be strong and hide your crying when your feelings are hurt. One of your favorite books is Llama Llama Misses Mama, and you get very emotional throughout each page- I can tell you are feeling little llama's pain as his mama leaves him at preschool for the first time. You ask both daddy and mommy to read your Matchbox Cars book to you each night. And mommy is so very proud of you for how well your speech has improved in the past year. Just the other day you woke up and said, "I go downstairs and play, mama." Even just three short months ago I wouldn't have imagined being able to hear you say that much. You love to cook, and enjoy baking cookies with mommy nearly every day.

To say "I love you" doesn't seem like strong enough words. You are my precious, precious son, and I am so blessed to have you in my life. XOXOXOXO

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life and Loss

Sorry readers- I had no idea it had been this long since I'd last posted. My entire family spent a total of two weeks battling the flu, and the sleep deprivation has been taking its toll. I've also been saddened that so many people close to me have suffered loss or near-loss of family members in a wide array of circumstances- so to blog about something funny my kid said just seemed a bit frivolous.

So on to the post. I've had the idea for this blog post for a few months now, but didn't know quite how to articulate it. But when God reveals something to you over and over and in so many different ways, there comes a time to perk up the ears and listen. The idea first took form after I watched an episode of Oprah late last year; it was about a man who lost his entire immediate family - his wife and two daughters- in a horrific way. They were tortured, raped, and then burned alive inside the family home. As I watched that show and saw the empty shell of a man still in tremendous pain years later, I wondered how I would have made it through such an experience. If I lost my children and husband- would I get up in the morning? How could I brush my teeth, let alone step out the front door? Yes, I have Christ in my life who gives me all the strength I need to handle any circumstance, but would I even have the desire to go on? My instinct was that I would just curl up and wait to die.

Not long after I watched that episode, some of the ladies and friends from my church got together for a shopping retreat- something I hope we do again soon!!- and our devotions circled the theme of idol worship. Not the kind of idols that look like voodoo dolls or wooden statues- but as in anything that takes priority away from God. Throughout the weekend I battled the question- are my children my idols? Do I think about them, interact with them, and prioritize them above all else- even my God of Heaven? Children are a treasure and a blessing- Christ calls them the apple of His eye- and they require a great amount of time, love, and energy. That's not what I'm talking about. I am asking if I consider my life without them meaningless- that Christ does not fill me, but rather my children do. If they were suddenly taken away from me, would I consider my life even worth living?

Since that retreat, a couple I know through college had to bury their precious son. I haven't seen either of the parents in several years, but seeing their comments through facebook about Christ and the strength He'd given them left me astounded. Such a beautiful legacy of a life touched by a Savior.

More recently, a wonderful lady I know from my local church lost her son in the line of duty protecting our country. I won't mention her name because my blog isn't private, but I can say with all sincerity that she is the strongest woman I have ever witnessed come through such a tragic event. She gets up every morning, studies her Bible, and encourages myself and dozens of other women through her daily emails. She is actively walking through the fire, and through only the supernatural strength that Christ alone can bestow, she is proclaiming her Savior throughout our entire community.

In all of this, I have been praying the following: 1. I hope and pray I will never know what it feels like to bury my own child, and that I will not walk without my husband for decades to come. 2. If God sees it differently, and decides to allow such a tragedy, I will live a full life in Christ and bring others to the knowledge of Him in the process. 3. I will cherish each precious day with my family and live life in this order- God first, then family, then money, then things. ( I can't take credit for most of that- thanks Suzie Orman.)

I am currently working through Beth Moore's series Breaking Free. I highly recommend it to any woman, and God's timing through Beth's words just leaves me speechless. The following is taken from Week 5, day 5- the same week our community lost a wonderful young man and his mother who is facilitating our study lost her precious son. ""Nothing is more natural than grief after a devastating loss, but those of us in Christ can experience satisfying life again. When our hearts have been shattered by loss, we have an opportunity to welcome a supernatural power to our lives. It doesn't come any other way. This is the power to live again when we'd rather die. It is a power that displays the life of Christ in us like no other because it defies all odds. God becomes the only explanation for our emotional survival and revival...‎Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is living through something we thought would kill us. And not just living, but living abundantly and effectively-raised from living death to a new life. A life indeed absent of something or someone dear but filled with the presence of the resurrection and the life...When our hearts are hemmorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses it with a nail-scarred hand. Life will never be the same, but I have the invitation from Christ to rise to a new life - a more compassionate life, a wiser life, a more productive life. And, yes, even a better life." (Beth Moore, Breaking Free series)