Autumn Sunday


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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Amelia Bedlia in Me

The Amelia Bedelia in Me
Today was one of those days when, for no reason at all, things just seemed to be a hair off. Take this morning, for instance, when I went to make my usual coffee and the coffee started jetting out of a small hole in the coffee pot. Then, I sat down for my morning devotions, only to find that I couldn’t find either one of my Bibles or my devotional book. I searched, high and low, all day, only to find them in a random kitchen drawer— not at all where they are usually kept. Then, when I went to the store to get a few things before picking my two year old up for school, I was strangely side tracked by an exhibit of small planes, a very yummy pretzel stand, and the clearance racks. Finally, making my way to the isle of stuff I actually needed, I loaded my cart with diapers and wipes (and one unnecessary ,but adorable, clearance airplane shirt for my two year old). Thinking that I had better look at my watch to make sure that I had plenty of time, I became almost frantic to see that I was one minute shy of 2:30—the time I needed to pick up my son. I left the cart in women's clothing, raced out of the store like a frantic woman, was heckled by someone who wanted to fix my windshield (couldn’t they see me running to my car??), and zoomed out of the lot to get my son. I mean, how int he world had I so badly miscalculated how much time I had (I guess I had forgotten about the pretzel stand). Upon my arrival home, I tried to take a nice, filtered glass of water, only to have the tab break off the filter. And for the grand finale of my day, I waltzed down the stairs after putting my boys to bed, and somehow badly managed my own spatial awareness, as I fell down the stairs, managing to rip the baby gate off the wall as I toppled down on top of it… bruises and all.

All of these events leave me wondering where, and when, I left my mind. Do you ever have days or weeks like that? For no reason at all, you forget where you parked your car. Or perhaps you drive out of the garage, forgetting that you never opened the garage door. Or perhaps, you have pulled a “Britney Spears” with your children, frantically rushing to get somewhere only to find that you never actually buckled your baby in their car seat (I’ve never done that, I’m just saying…)
I am not sure what all of these momentary lapses of brain activity signal to you, but to me, they are usually saying “calm down”—you are trying to accomplish too much. Take a nap, eat a piece a cake (or for me, eat less cake is closer to the truth).

I am hoping that tonight will bring on a new wave of rest for me, and I hope it does for you. I think moments like these help me to remember that I am human, and that I must open a baby gate slowly, just like everyone else. Trying to superman through it simply does not work very well. Being a mom of two boys means that I am moving at warp speed about 90 percent of the time. Ahh, to take a slow minute to write, take a bath, or nap, is not just a luxury, but rather sometimes, it is a necessity. These “Amelia Bedelia” moments remind me that I must be a good steward of my own care too. It is often easy to forget that when I am desperately trying to stretch 24 hours into 48. That said, I think I will retire now and head upstairs to a nice, bubbly tub for a little “me time” .

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Mother's Gift

A Mother’s Gift

Days stretch on endlessly, at times,
Like an endless highway bending into the azure horizon.
I have driven lonely stretches across the west,
The road wrapping and twisting towards the cobalt sky--
My tires ticking along the hard- lined pavement,
While my thoughts whistle and wind into mindless oblivion.
I begin conversations with myself to pass time,
Rhetorical questions surfacing with no end--
Like the road.
Finally, just when I think insanity has set in--seeped in,
I see Colorado mountains scraping the horizon,
And I scream a loud, astonishing bellow and re- collect myself.

I have found that mothering feels like a road that starts with a bellow
At a labor done and the longest journey beginning.
This mysterious road leads in a direction that is mostly forward,
But seems, at times, to be going backward as
The endless bumps of weeks, days, and seconds, click
Under my heels like blips on a surface that has no familiarity.
My navigational abilities blur as my eyes, heavy ridden with sleeplessness,
And my hands, dry as leather from endless diaper changes,
Tick along to nurse, wipe, clear, and collect my children.
Time wraps itself through the pavement of my life and pulls me under sometimes.
--I went to sleep 25 and woke up with a child at 30.
But ahh, the sudden relief at pit-stops on this highway--
ripples of laughter, dimpled cheeks wet from tears, an owie to kiss,
A newborn to smell, and the sticky wet kisses of Teddy to break up oblivion--
centering me in this journey that is always a road and rarely a destination.
Ahh, my life is too small for these tasks—
A gift measured not by miles but by moment after moment of grace.