Thursday, February 28, 2013

no answers...

My heart weighs so heavily on me.
For her.
For them.
For all who find themselves trapped
On a track that never improves.
Where there is no "looking up"
or way out.

I love her.
I listen to her stories,
as she quickly scarfs down the homecooked meal
I've offered her.
She is so grateful to be a guest at my table.

Yet I feel that we are the true guests of honor.

I ask question after question.
I listen.
I yearn to understand.
It's almost beyond what I can bear.

I know pain.
But I don't know that pain.
I know poverty of spirit.
But I've never known that kind of poverty.

My head cannot wrap itself
around the experience
of what real life is to her.

To me, life has always felt
full of possibility,
Relatively fair.

But to her, life does not offer hope.
It doesn't change.
It doesn't get better.
It is what it is,
And survival is the aim.
It's dark.
And unjust.
And it stays that way.

She is evicted from her home,
her loved one behind bars
for selling drugs
to pay the rent
and the groceries
for the family to survive,
leaving a mother heartbroken
for her son.

The car was wrecked
from fleeing the police
They shattered the windows,
and little did they know
so much more was
being shattered.

So they joined together,
looking out for one other.
It would be selfish to "make it,"
when your brothers and sisters beside you
are starving.
One shoplifted
in order to feed the family.
Another flipped drugs.
More court dates.
More fines.

Where is the way out?, my heart cries.

My brain instantly seeks after a quick fix to offer her,
perhaps so I can take the burden off of myself
and cover the guilt
of my own ignorance.

But there are no quick fixes
to this level of brokenness.

Get a job!, the white community shouts.
Because that's how it works
so logically in our world,
doesn't it?
Oh, if only we could stop
the angry political tirades
And sit across the table
from my friend and her community
for an hour.

Suddenly the solutions wouldn't seem so simple,
would they?

Trust in Jesus!, the church shouts.
But I can't help but wonder
how is Jesus going to break through such
incredible brokenness,
systemic injustice,
when honestly?
Our churches can look more like
wealthy, white country clubs
than hospitals and rest stops
for messed-up sinners?

I know there is power in God's Word.
I know the Gospel to be true.
I know God to be good.

But my heart is so burdened.
And I wonder
how does
such amazing grace
transform my friend and "her people"?

I struggle to find any easy answers.

It used to be that these things
felt so utterly foreign,
Out there.
Heck, we even moved homes
to get away from those problems,
those people.

Deep down, we wanted lives and homes that are
free from that kind of neediness.
Places where we could
construct walls to divide ourselves
from one another's lives.

We prize our independence,
our hard work.
Our ability to move away and start again fresh.

But yet, it is OUR hearts that are FAR more
impoverished and fragmented
than theirs.

Poverty goes much deeper
than our piggy banks.

Hers is a community
that would give anything
for the well-being of those
around them.

Before we are so quick to judge,
before you think I have officially lost it,
might we slow down and consider for a minute
what it might be like
to be her?

There is too much food in my fridge.
There was none in hers.
As she ate, she probably wasn't just hungry from lunch.
She was hungry.
My home is filled with WAY more than I'll ever need.
My closet is extravagant.
(and I still want more!)
I can go when and where I please,
without much of a second thought.

I look at others around me.
I see the pictures on Pinterest.
Of what kind of life
I should seek to attain.
And it honestly makes me sick
to begin to see how blind we are
to those like her.
How little we care.
How little we're around it.

You see, I'm coming to realize that
what I've grown up to know as "normal"
should really be called what it is:


I don't have any answers right now.

Just alot of questions.

And a heart that wants to understand
and love,
and bring
true Hope
to my friend.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

oh, motherhood...

Oh man.  So sorry it's been awhile.

It seems everybody around here has things going on.

Jameson's busy learning how to grab and make those arms work.
Caroline's busy imagining and learning all over the house.
Marc is busy ministering to students in the thick of the semester, and me?

Well, I'm feel like I'm trying to hold it all together and survive!

Between being a worship director for our church and an involved campus minister's wife and a stay-at-home mom, I am feeling a bit stretched thin right now.

When I hit my biggest breaking point about 6 weeks ago, I had to reach out for help.  So now, a RUF gal comes and helps me on Monday afternoons, another gal comes Wednesday mornings, another gal helps with cleaning every other week or so.  This past weekend, I was SO grateful for a group of RUF gals who babysat for free so Marc and I could have a fun, long date together.

I don't know how I'd be surviving without them!  Grace, grace.

I'm beyond thankful for their help.

Because most of the time, I feel like I'm to my eyeballs trying to make it through all that needs to get done.

And then, at the end of the day, does anything really feel all that accomplished??

All that picking up around the house, all that preparing of the meal, all that hustle and bustle to get to school and back...

and the house still looks like a disaster.  And it's time to prepare another meal.  And it will all start again tomorrow.

Oh, motherhood.

Thankfully, I've got a gal who, most of the time, is understanding and pretty helpful.  I know most women don't intentionally opt for a bigger spacing between kids like this, but I am LOVING it.

The other day, at the end of a very, VERY long day where I would've won no parent-of-the-year awards, I found this tiny flower laying in the middle of my pillow.

Picked in the yard just for me.

Telling me "it's okay, Mama.  I love you.  You're my Mama."

I burst into tears.  (Well, I must not be doing too bad.)

So I'm learning to give grace to myself.

To let things relax a little around here.

To not let my perfectionism eat me alive.

To tell people what I'm needing from them.

To be okay paying more money than I'd like to for the help,
figuring our mental sanity is worth it.

To do what I can, and be okay when it's not all that great.

To die to my own desires of what I'd like a day to look like.

I suppose this is the way He humbles us, eh?

Oh, motherhood.

Simultaneously the happiest and hardest days of my life.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

his milestones...

Well, speaking of milestones...

Last night Jameson slept from 11:15pm - 6:15am!  7 hours straight!  That's a first and I'll take it!

And here's another milestone... one that he seems way too small for:

Yep.  First time in the door jumper.  And he liked it!

The three of us went nuts with laughter and encouragement.

Big sis cheered him on the most.

My beautiful children.  (Can you believe?)

He's even starting to figure out how to bounce a bit in the thing.

It's nice to have another option for places to put him, especially one that keeps him upright to help his reflux.

Interrupting a sibling moment.

We're so proud of you, little guy!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ear ye, ear ye...

Since we partied down this past weekend with our South Carolina family, Caroline's actual birthday yesterday was much more quiet and low key.

We didn't anticipate it would turn out to be such a milestone day.

Even if it was just leftover birthday cake, we still had to sing "Happy Birthday!"

Our dear RUF student, Mary, has volunteered to come over on Monday afternoons to help our family with babysitting, cleaning, preparing dinner, you name it.  This was a huge answer to prayer for me a month ago when I was close to losing it.  It's amazing how much my outlook is helped now knowing those four hours are coming each week. Seriously.    

Jameson slept blissfully through the dinner and leftover birthday cake.

After we dropped Mary off at her dorm on Liberty's campus, our family ran over to the mall looking for shoes for Marc.  As we walked past the Claire's store, I just happened to say, "Caroline, would you like to get your ears pierced?"

**Push pause there.***

You see, many times last year I would ask Caroline about piercing her ears.  I might even say my asking verged on pressuring her at times, which may have been why I was always met with interest, but ultimately resistance.  At one point, we even got as close to going into the store to get them pierced, but she backed out.

I don't know why I wanted this for her so much last year. I guess since my daughter doesn't have hair, I felt like it would be something to help restore a sense of femininity about her.  Alopecia for a little girl has robbed us of some of that.  With no hair to fix or fuss over, I thought earrings might be something fun and feminine for her to enjoy.  And in the event that she someday doesn't want to wear only dresses and skirts like she does now, they would serve as something to distinguish her as a girl.

I'm actually one of the few women you'll ever meet who don't have my ears pierced. (REALLY? I can hear all of you ladies thinking.)  I don't know why.  I just don't.  Maybe it's my neurotic fear of the piercing.  Yes, I'm that ridiculous, thank you very much.  But I think it just has more to do with my need for simplicity in my life.  I've never been one that wants to add on more to fuss over.  I'm weird, I know.  Just accept me as I am.

So after Caroline decided she didn't want to have them pierced last year, I dropped the subject.  Who cares? I thought.  Her beauty doesn't rest upon something like earrings just like it doesn't rest upon her having hair, either.

So I didn't broach the topic again until last night.

"Caroline, would you like to get your ears pierced?"

"Yes!" she answered, much to my surprise.  I had to ask again, just to make sure I was hearing right!  She was absolutely sure.

(Of COURSE she'd decide to do it at a time like that, when I was carrying no camera with me, and when she was wearing the mismatched clothing Daddy had dressed her in after a swim lesson.)  :)

So she bravely sat herself in the seat, eagerly anticipating and mostly unaware of what was coming.  "3, 2, 1.." the lady counted, and then I saw my baby girl wince in pain.  She looked up at me with big tears forming in the brims of her eyes.  Oh goodness, I thought, I hate this!  And she's still got another ear to go!  

Fortunately, she got through the other ear, but I could tell she wasn't so sure about what she had just done.

And honestly, the spontaneousness of the whole situation had me wondering the same thing.

Nevertheless, it was done.

And just a few minutes later after the pain wore down, she was thrilled with the results.  (you can guess what she's telling everyone about at school all day today)

It was surprisingly emotional for both Marc and me.

Kindof felt like a rite of passage or something.

But we thought it ended up being fitting to do it on a milestone day like her 5th birthday.

And now we're getting used to them on her.

The day ended like all others with reading and snuggling before bed. (Jameson was chewing on his knuckles... teething, maybe??)  It was weird for me to see those little ears a' twinkling!

It's been the best 5 years of our lives.  Here's to many, many more.

Happy birthday, my sweet Caroline.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

a very happy UN-birthday to you...

It's February 17th.

So I have to wish you a Happy UN-birthday.

You remember the tradition, right?

Caroline's best friend, Leah, was born on February 16th.  Caroline on the 18th.

So naturally, that makes the 17th... the UN-birthday!

You see, this friendship goes WAY back.  (It makes us teary how special this is!)  This picture was taken the first day these girls met.  Less than 6 months old.

Playing together on Caroline's first birthday.

Then we had the brilliant "UN-birthday" idea.

The first official UN-birthday at age 2...

At this one, they were shooting some hoops.

At tonight's UN-birthday, they enjoyed frozen yogurt and running wild.

It's kinda cool that the UN-birthday is the only day of the year where they do not share the same age, so we've begun documenting the age difference through a photo each year...

Caroline was 2 and Leah was 3.

Caroline was 3 and Leah was 4.

And tonight?  Caroline is still 4 and Leah is 5!

Picture of the gals two years ago...

... and the gals today!

There was only ONE, small difference this year from the others.... can you guess what it was??

A little twelve pound baby boy to share it all with.
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she's got the music in her...

It was a musical celebration.

For a year of piano, singing, and dancing.

(Of course, her mama, the musician, is oh so proud.)

We took a quick trip to see our South Carolina family (Marc's side) and party down.

The table was set.  (Okay, and don't you LOVE these giant paper sheet-music flowers done by our former RUF student & resident "crafting queen," Casey?!  Oh my goodness, you should totally check out her paper bridal bouquets at her Etsy store and be utterly amazed!)

Nanny made an oh-SOOOO-delicious musical cake.

This birthday girl was ready to party!

But not without her beloved cousins.

Light the candles and sing happy birthday!

Blow 'em out!

Time to celebrate Julius' birthday, too, so let's sing another rousing "Happy Birthday!"

All the loud cheering was apparently too much for our little guy.  (aww...)

(We think Jameson will grow up to be handsome like his cousin Julius.)

Pigging out on CAKE!  Yummmmm...

Catching a nap with Papa...

The keyboard from Pop & Mamie (my parents) topped off the musical birthday!

We're home now and she's loooving it.

I have a feeling she's going to love 5, too.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

this is love...

I have to confess, this is one of the happiest of Valentine's Days for me today.

I am in love, love, LOVE.

He got a tie from Mommy.

She got a balloon from Daddy.

They both received gifts from Mamie.

(though he preferred to snack on his...)

On this Valentine's Day, THIS is love:

not that we loved God...

but that He loved us and gave up His Son for us.

And beloved, if God so loved us...

We also ought to love one another.
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