July 22, 2010

1000 Gifts

It all started with this. I found it one day. It wasn't a good day. And so on that day, rather than writing all the things that were wrong with me in my notebooks during class, I scribbled, as quickly as I could, the gifts that God had given me. I went home for fall break and bought a journal. A special one. And I started writing. Today, not quite a year later, I'm at 731. Sometimes, I mention specific people. Sometimes it's a feeling, an emotion, a memory. Sometimes it's a smell or an event. I think the word "laughter" must be in there at least 20 times.

1. The woman with toilet paper on her shoe
2. The perfect sunset on a heavy day
3. An empty seat next to me on the flight home
4. Singing in chapel on a day that went from bad to worse
5. Downtown service on Sunday nights
6. Grace like rain and rain to remind me

16. The smell of fall
17. Peach juice on my chin

21. Mail in my mailbox
22. An extra hour of sleep

41. Sunshine after a week of rain
42. Getting out of class early
43. naps
44. raspberry lemonade and goldfish

91. Picture books
92. Suckers in class
93. Days of rest
94. Quiet
95. Softball games
96. A dark sky full of the promise of rain
97. A package with cookies and nutella
98. Phone calls
99. Chapel every morning

143. This morning, we sang out of the song books. Jessie Spears gave an announcement and so did some Chinese girls. My day began with laughter

253. Education classes
254. A shower that drains
255. I prayed for friends. He answered in a big way

301. The only thing "rough" about rough night was not laughing

393. Apples and fall
394. Function dates and tacky sweaters
395. Smiling
396. Praises
397. Naps
398. Squirrels
399. Pies
400. Baking
401. Promises

413. 4 days in bed- being sick was worth it

572. There's one cotton plant left in the garden
573. The memories at that old house
574. Empty journal pages
575. Earth science will teach me patience
576. Learning to be still

583. Night
584. Days full of first grade and laughter
585. One month from the day I left, I'll be with them
586. Healing
587. Drowning in grace
588. Making decisions
589. Early march birds

676. Tutus
677. Dancing

Almost 1,000. It won't stop there. How could it? Every day, I am so blessed by Him and His presence. Luckily, I bought a pretty big journal...

July 20, 2010

i'm a fixer
by nature. i like
to fix things. i like
to be able to fix
things. not really things.

i'm in dallas
right now. and i
want to be able to fix

i also want
to send me some sort of sign
like maybe a letter
or something
letting me know where i
need to be in school in
(which is in less than a
not that i'm keeping track
or anything...).
fort worth?

and so i sit.
in a
that is unfixable by me
and uncertain.
i am
i don't like
living in uncertainty.
it scares me.

so i could stay
in dallas.
i could work
for my
aunt and play with
my baby.

or i could
back to searcy,
which is equally stressful and
scary and

or i could
in chicago with
my beautiful small group
and the support
of the teachers and students at

they're all scary and
and they all sound
great. i want
to make all of
them work because they're
all so perfect in their own way.......
but i don't think any are
on their own.

so do i stay here?
or go back?
or stay there?


July 9, 2010

I wrote this post in May after spending time with my great-grandmother. I never posted. I don't remember why. Here it is:

Today, we spent a few hours with my 90 year old great-grandmother. She is so very precious. We sat with her laughing about the women in the nursing home who try to break out. We laughed about the woman wheeling past with a beeper on her wheelchair. We laughed a lot. And in the midst of the laughter, I saw the pain in her eyes. Here she sat, with the son, wife and daughter of her firstborn, years after she buried him. We talked about her son...my dad's dad. As we talked about his Eagle Scout belongings in the cedar chest, I remembered that I was sitting with a woman who buried her oldest son.

My dad's biological father died when my dad was only four years old. At the time, he had one other younger brother. A few years later, my grandmother remarried. She and Walter went on to have two more boys. My dad calls Walter his dad. It was an uncomfortable moment. I heard the hesitation in my dad's voice as he struggled with how to address his own father. Dad? Jody? How do you approach a situation like that?

Over the past few years, I've come to understand how absolutely precious pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is. Nothing is guarenteed. I've read more blogs than I can count in which women chronicle the lives and deaths of their infants. Sometimes they knew that their child would not live. Other times it was a shock. How do you deal with something like that? And then there are the blogs about the families who give birth to perfectly healthy babies. They treasure them and love them and then find that their precious babies have a tumor determined to take over their tiny body. And then there are the parents who get to raise their children for many many years before cancer or some kind of accident rips them from this world.

It's something parents take for granted- the birth of a healthy baby. I never even realized that the situation could be different until I stumbled upon Angie Smith's blog years ago. I cried with her as she carried her beautiful daughter, knowing full well that she would not stay long in this world. I remember vividly the night that I learned that sweet Tuesday had been healed in Heaven. I have cried so many nights for so many families that I have never met. And suddenly, my perception of parenthood is so very different. How can you take for granted holding and loving and kissing your perfect baby while down the hall, a woman could have just delivered her child and held them as they took their first breath and their last. How can you not think of your healthy infant as a miracle? I hope that I will never take for granted the miracles my children are.

I have two living great-grandmothers. One is 90 and the other is 92. Each has buried a child. And my grandmother held her newborn son until he breathed his last on this Earth. How can you look at a woman the same after you learn that about them? How can you hug them the same way? To have buried a child must be the greatest pain, and how many women are living with it? The woman checking out behind me in line at Target has two precious children in her cart. I smile at her. For a split second, I wonder about her story. Are those the only children she's carried? How many women lie when asked how many children they have? Even my sweet cousin suddenly lost her daughter after 14 months of life to congestive heart failure. I was at that funeral. And how do you move on from something like that? My heart aches just to think about it. Every Christmas, every birthday, another memory with an obvious hole.

I don't know yet why God has put this on my heart. I don't know if I'll lose a baby someday. I don't know if I'll know someone who does. I do know that I serve a God who is good all the time. I believe that God might be preparing me for something. I'm not sure yet what that may be. It is my prayer that I never lose this sense of urgency and compassion to reach out to women in pain. I pray that He would help me to remember that these women will never forget.

July 8, 2010

i really shouldn't get paid for this

Basically, I have the best job in the world. My alarm goes off at 6:45. I get up, shower, throw everything in the car, drive 3 minutes and pull up in front of the beautiful yellow house. As I walk up the stairs, Mr. F greets me at the door. He gives me the low down on the hooligans and leaves.
Z usually starts out the day on the computer while P prefers to begin his day by wrestling with me. Whatever. Then we eat breakfast, play some ridiculous game that P comes up with, and then eat lunch until 11:30 and walk to the pool. We usually stay for at least an hour and a half. The kids typically can find friends to play with, leaving me alone to read or tan or play with them and my other little munchkins there with camp. Sometimes we walk over to the library. They do the summer reading program while I find books that I loved in junior high. We make up our own games on the alphabet rug (on this particular day, we were playing Hullabaloo...seriously entertaining).
Sometimes we run errands. Sometimes we go on field trips. Like today. We went bowling. Last week, we went to the Botanic Gardens. On rainy days, we watch movies. On Tuesdays, we go see the $1 movie in Skokie. And I shouldn't get paid for my job.

July 4, 2010

part 1

My best friend Emily came to visit me back in May. Shortly after she left my house, she left for Africa for six weeks. She's been serving the Lord in Burkina Faso, living with missionaries, meeting Christians and experiencing African culture firsthand. She is a beautiful person inside and out. She's also going to be my roommate next year, which I can't wait for!! She's an RA, which means we'll have our OWN bathroom (which is a good enough reason for me to want to be roommates with her ;)). I haven't heard her voice in six weeks. She'll be home on Tuesday. I can't wait to talk to her!! I know she has such incredible stories to tell. Her birthday was the day she landed in Africa. I should have been a good friend and sent her present before she left, but I'm not that organized, so it didn't quite happen......

So I sent my bff her birthday present yesterday. There were 3 envelopes. The third had a photo collage. Here's picture number 1:

Stay tuned for the rest of the cards! ;)