Autumn Sunday


Thursday, June 7, 2012

One of the exciting parts of being in the military is the constant change.  It allows one to participate in experiences that require a person to be less tied down than normal.  And since a military family can expect to move every few years, and since deployments are often, most women do not work, and find it hard to be part of social commitments (large church involvement) that tie them down.  So when my husband left for Kuwait in the spring of 2012, I decided to take the chance and use his deployment as an opportunity to do something that I have always dreamed of doing: traveling to England.

In college, I passed up a study abroad to Whales and to Oxford for something I felt more pressing at the time: a mission trip and school transfer.  But the dream of studying Whitman or Lewis in their own stomping ground was as tantalizing a prospect as walking the cobblestone streets of Cambridge, punting boat in background, moon dancing over water as I walked hand in had with an English romance, book in one hand, coffee mug and pastie in the other.  The dream and the romance that had been nurtured in my heart became a reality, when I, mother of a two and four year old boy, embarked on a solo journey while pregnant, to visit my sister-in-law in a small town outside of Cambridge.  Obviously, the contrast of a single mother (spouse deployed in Middle East) traveling with two young children, strongly contrasted the idea I had of waltzing romantically with a book in my head and a coffee in my hand.  Instead, I had bursts of nursing rhymes to sing out on train rides to London, and one hand on my active two year old.
And yet, this journey was as exciting as the one I had always dreamed about... stay tuned to hear about the adventure.

On why Grace is too Magnificent

Grief upon grief,
Life piles upon us.
As if stacked dishes
Forgotten will self-clean.
Here comes the quick wit, biting sarcasm,
Layering pan in thick, congealed grease fat,
That cleans after a scrubbing or two,
Only to reappear the next day, shiny and
Rainbow- like, needing a daily rinse.

Then there are the secret ones--
These scald hot flesh like burn marks on pans,
No amount of scrubbing will rid them;
No amount of tries, raw, red hands, sharp,
metallic bristles, scalding water, or aching sores,
 furiously, the head bows, lament of destruction--
 Consumption takes its toll.
Wretched burn marks made permanent now, new part of pan.

Oh, but the sins that hurt the most
Are the ones that I create,
Yah, these, like cold water on hot metal,
 warp pan, disfiguring it into two asymmetrical halves,
 and leave something bent, twisted, and useless.
A broken tool.  A warped vessel.
What can clean it, what can clean it?
Shall I trust that grace alone cannot only scour,
But rinse, refresh, rebuild, renew, replace
Warped and fragile vessel to make new again?

It is too magnificent a thought.
Yeah, too magnificent.
I shall try myself, instead,
To wash all of the dishes as a sort of penance.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Earth Shaped Heart

Today was one of those days where my body, full of lethargy, forming baby in womb dragging me through what feels like layers of quick sand. A deployed dinner to support spouses seemed to compound my pain, gracious faces eager to help but no one to assuage the pain of absence, the pain of detachment, of void the size of a china ripping through my earth- shaped heart. The interminable amount of days layered on days. How long has he been gone? Only one month. Many more to go, days forming weeks forming years, for some. For me, how do I complain about 6 months of absence in one year, 8 months in two? How does one vote to say yes to war. To place your vote on paper must mean to look in the eyes of a love starved child, crying when he sees a man who resembles the form of father in flight suit… the eyes eager to scoop up what was once here and now is gone. Object impermanence. To live in a constant state of struggle, to attach to the one you love, but not too much that it will hurt when he leaves, tomorrow, for another deployment. How does one hold on to loss? Hold on to the absence of someone, the memory of someone once here, once in bed, heart ticking in rhythm to my own, and then to tick in rhythm to someone on the other side of the world? How does one grieve and not grieve. Live in strength for today, carrying head high to cover up heart feeling low?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Decking the Halls with... waiting?


Deployment news is always a looming threat to every military family. If anyone thinks they will escape under the impending knife of family separation, they are almost sorely mistaken. I realize that part of the waiting game is a fabulously difficult, and yet enriching practice that I am becoming annoyingly comfortable with.

There is not other way to describe the ever present reality of family separation without saying that it feels as if there is always an ever present itch on your body. The more you come to ignore it, the more the itch pretends to go away. And then one day your spouse comes home with the news that he will be leaving all winter. You knew that it was coming, so why are you upset?

And yet I lay in bed at night with a knot the size of a golf ball welling up inside of my throat. This is the life we signed up for; therefore, this should all just really feel normal, expected even.

But I still cannot seem to shake the fact that I really don't feel like a family should have to expect this. That being in the military has chained them to a life of great sacrifice so others can enjoy freedom. And yet that is the truth of the sacrifice, and it comes with a cost. And no matter the rationale, the slow and steady swell of grief wells up within me as I put my little boys down to bed, preparing myself already for the cries and the sadness they will feel in a month's time when Dad won't be around to help. And it stinks.

And yet God is teaching me to be grateful for the present. I am grateful for the time this holiday brings me to appreciate the wonderful husband God has given me. I am grateful that he has allowed me to join him on his life's journey, and that I have married a man who my boys can look up to, even thought they will not presently understand the separation or the sacrifice.

As I lay in bed at night, I begin to take note of all the little things as gifts. The security I feel with my husband in my home. The comfort of someone to share all the little joys of life with. The ability to share the funny stories or not so funny stories that I have experienced with my two boys, 1 and 3, during the day. And knowing that I have the love and comfort of someone who knows my heart and, at all times, seeks to say just the right thing to reassure me.

These are the things that life can steal without people ever knowing to be thankful for them. The military has given me a glimpse of what life is like without my man. And now I will always have what a lot of women never do... gratefulness.

So as we wait for him to leave next month, we are all basking in the little details of every day that we don't want to forget: the enjoyment of lighting a Christmas tree, the comfort of a warm body to share a cold night with, and the beauty of a simple conversation at the end of a long day.

Waiting, it seems, is choosing thankfulness in the in betweens. A gift, really, for those who choose to see it as such.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Royal Wedding

A Royal Wedding Party—Forever and Ever
Oh, how I have scoffed at the royal wedding of “Commoner Kate and Royal Prince William” finding myself annoyed by the obsession with a royalty that is not my own. I have watched the magazine racks filling up with magazine after magazine of one royal photo after another, begging me to participate in the hype. My husband and I mutually scoffed at the wedding, almost feeling an offense that the world could be so taken by ivory towers and fake pomp and circumstance.

Oh, but then I received an invitation to a wedding party… a “girly girly brunch”. The invitation came on true ivory cardstock, with gold letters emblazoned in italics… I had to go. Although I disdain the idea of royal weddings in a country that I am not living in nor have ties to, I found myself caught up in the idea of a party, a brunch with ladies. And since I am a stay at home mother of two boys, I ache at the chance of any true “girl time”. Finding myself craving fancy dresses, girl’s lunches, and decorating magazines, I was excited by the party, and found myself, ironically, getting caught up in the hype anyway!

I woke up on Friday morning and dressed myself in a cute sundress, hoping that I would not be “too dressy” for such an event. When I arrived, I found that my sundress was almost too casual, as every wedding guest was adorned in wedding finery. The hostess, a truly beautiful artist, had created the loveliest of parties… beautiful tapestries of yellow and white, a wedding cake perfectly frosted and decorated with yellow polka dots, and the finest brunch foods I have seen: prosciutto wrapped melon balls, asparagus salad, mini quiches, and scones with whipped cream and lemon essence.
I found myself being caught up in the fun of it all, as we, a bunch of stay at home mothers bedecked ourselves with fake crowns and veils. Squealing in delight, we sat down on her plush leather couch to enjoy the royal wedding. We could not help but laugh with delight and vain mocking at the ridiculous hats that everyone was wearing. And the celebrities at the royal party were fun to feast over—Victoria Beckham’s severe make-up and Princess Beatrice’s ridiculous hat of pink salmon horns… As the “commoner Kate” finally arrived in the wedding car, I could not help but tear up a little at how beautiful it all was-- the beauty of the hall in which they were wed, the wonderful British accents, and the whispering of a beloved prince, adoring his bride in a whisper of “you look beautiful.”
I could not help myself. The wedding was altogether so glorious, and beautiful. I am now a believer.

So this leads me to think about the wedding in terms of faith. What is it about a wedding that makes a woman giddy, dreaming of fancy cakes and pretty dresses? Are we all obsessed with dress-up or is there something beyond the ceremony, beyond the beauty of it all that are hearts are craving so badly in this celebrity starved society?
I believe, of course, that the wedding is the most intimate of covenants, between a man and a woman. Between a couple and God. There is something beyond a ceremony that grasps my heart. It is the beauty of a simple, but beautiful covenant. A man declaring his mortal love for a woman, a woman declaring her mortal love for a man, and God declaring an eternal love for both. I am swept up in this ceremony, the royal moment of Prince William and Kate. And I realize that we are all aching to be swept up in a royally, ravishing moment ourselves. Perhaps for some of us, it is in the loveliest of palaces with a royal prince. But for me, it is a simple ceremony, with friends and family and the one that I love the most—Christ.
Oh, how I wish for a time when I can understand just how much God’s covenant of love, death, and grace for me have meant. The time when I covenanted with him an undying love, and he answered before and after with a love that will never leave me nor forsake me. It is in the beauty of this eternal love that I adore. Until then, a royal wedding, in one of the loveliest places on earth will only be a shadow of what will come.

Mother's Day

Dear mother,

Whose strength is enough

To grow a child, well and perfect in your womb.

Whose love is enough to hold onto grace,

When addiction and hatred overwhelm others.

Whose kindness is enough to remember birthdays,

And Christmas, anniversaries, and graduations.

Whose eyes are etched with worry for me.

Whose heart is full of prayers for me.

Whose guilt is remorseful of hate in an imperfect world, for me.

And whose grace has reached into my soul,

Stretched across time and space,

Genetics and biology,

To give me something I will never be able to repay.

So I will repay it to my children, and then you will know,

How much, I love you.

So seeing them, and seeing my heart for them,

My agony, my worry, my exhaustion, my kindness,

My aching soul for fear of wrong done to them,

And my “mother’s guilt” for failing in spite of my best interest to do well.

This will be the only way you will know, and I will know,

How much I love you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Papaw's Dance

XIT with my Papaw

When my Papaw died,
He left behind his genuine snakeskin boots—
The ones he wore teaching me to jitterbug at the XIT rodeo.
I remember the evening like it was yesterday--
Sweltering August panhandle heat, beading my brow in sweat,
Dusting my crisp white top with bits of dry, blown sand.

When we arrived at the dance hall,
The lights diffused pink, yellow and white streams above me
As my grandfather’s rough hands waltzed me around the floor.
I breathed in the dense fumes of his warm, stale tobacco breathe;
his newly laundered shirt scratching my bare arms as we moved—
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3.1
I fumbled over my feet-- clumsy in chunky white heels,
And dropped my head in embarrassment.
He laughed, then, like popcorn—slow rumble at first,
And then explosive, directing my gaze up.
Then Papaw’s hands, rough to touch, yet steady and gentle,
Lead my wandering feet back into step again.