Lest I give the impression that my days are hopeless and filled with tears, let me provide a glimpse of some of the joy in my life these days:
Josiah hugged me this morning and told me that he loved me all the way to the sky. Yesterday, he gave me three kisses and counted them as he went. He is is a big boy but is soft and still has squishy cheeks that I love to smootch.
Madelyn tries to wear skirts and dresses every day and is especially thrilled if they "twirl." She loves all things girly and coloring and crafts. I see more and more of my personality in her these days: she loves to plan and organize and tell people what to do (in a nice way, of course). She wakes up happy each morning, and often her first words of the day are, "Good morning, Mommy!"
Elisha and I are reading the Chronicles of Narnia. One of my favorite time each day is snuggling up with him on the couch to read the next chapter. He is so full of ideas and spends hours building things with his Legos. He is getting long and strong but will still let me hug and kiss him. And he still responds "I love you too" when I drop him off at school each morning.
In the early hours of the morning, each of the kids made their way in to my bedroom and crawled into bed with me. So by this morning, I had the two little ones next to me and Elisha stretched out at my feet. It was not the most restful way to sleep but it may be the sweetest.
I often consider how very blessed we are with a wonderful house, a reliable (and paid for) vehicle, plenty of food, more clothes than we need, a supportive family and friends. I am grateful for the dear friend who cares for my kids and for the teachers who invest in their young lives while I work.
I live in hope, surrounded by peace and full of joy. Thank You, Lord.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I love order: the feeling that one gets when things have a place and when everything is in it's place. Ahhhh...it makes me feel good just thinking about it.
Last week I hosted a jewelry party for a friend which provided a very real and immediate incentive to get my house in order. And I don't just mean cleaning the bathrooms and making the beds. Think consolidating piles of opened (and unopened) mail, school papers, and receipts from the past month or two; sorting, folding and putting away the laundry that often covers my love seat; and paring down the 3 foot high tower of blankets that had overtaken its basket.
However, now that I can see my desk again (not to mention the coffee table and the kitchen counters), I want to maintain it. It is a struggle: clearing out the kitchen sink every night, putting all toys back on shelves and clothes back on hangers. But, it's been 4 days now (woo hoo!) and things still look great.
I am considering having someone over for dinner every week as an extra incentive in case my self-discipline wanes. Let me know if you're interested. ;)
Saturday, May 14, 2011
One of the most difficult transitions for me as a single parent has been adapting to being alone. It's interesting that even with 3 kids around I can still feel lonely.
I blame it partly on my personality; I am an extreme extrovert. Being with people makes me feel secure. But it's not practical or possible to have people around all of the time. My friends have their own families and responsibilities.
I complained to a mentor about my loneliness, but instead of offering symapthy, she told me to invite people over...to make new friends. It was good advice, though not what I expected (or wanted) to hear. I have tried it. Inviting "strangers" and aquaintances over. It's intimidating. And vulnerable. And a bit risky. But it's worth it: I have new friends now that I did not have 6 months ago, which is an amazing blessing.
I have also been challenged to practice solitude, to discipline myself to not have to be with people. Rarely, this happens by my choice; more often I call and text and try to find someone to hang out with and it turns out everyone is busy. So, by default, I spend time alone. I wish I could say that I alwyas make the most of this time: reading scripture, praying, journaling. Sometimes, I try to clean or organize or get something accomplished. Sometimes I seek out "community" on Facebook. And sometimes I just watch movies or go to bed.
Regardless of how I feel, I know that I am truly never alone. I wrote the following poem in college to submit to our campus journal. It describes the paradox I often feel and the truth I know.
Just by myself.
You are here
So there are two:
Josiah's transition to a pacifier-free life has not come easily. His former bedtime of 7 or 7:30 has morphed into a 7:30 put-him-into-bed-time but a 9:30 finally-give-up-and-go-to-sleep-time. So, I often put him in bed with me, grateful for an excuse to go to bed early myself. We snuggle together, his cold feet sandwiched between my warm legs, and drift off together for an extra-long, worry-free night.
I burrow under the covers, pulling the blankets over my head, but forming a tiny tunnel into the outside world...right by my nose so I can still breathe easily. I love being here: warm, soft, safe. It's my escape of choice these days. No more crying. Just sleep. Disconnected from the thoughts and regrets and "what ifs."
I wonder how long the relief will last. How long until my responsibilities and longing for reality overtake the refuge of sleep. Until that time, I continue, knowing that I cannot to escape from the love of One who knows the pain and offers not just sleep but rest.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I'm realizing that living in reality can be painful: pain, loss, disappointment, grief. It's a lot to take at times. And then I read about someone who is experiencing (seemingly) more loss than me, and I gain a new perspective. Or maybe it's more of a kindredness, knowing that others are navigating similar emotions.
The great writer C.S. Lewis proposed a relationship between our ability to feel pain and joy. From my experience, I believe he is right. I have loved deeply, and, perhaps because of that, have felt deep loss. But even through the pain God has still brought moments of joy. A different joy, perhaps, than the innocent joy "before loss." One that has known the sustaining grace and faithfulness of God.
For this I am so very thankful.