December 30, 2011

this mother's heart

The first glance at the clock this morning sent me on a journey back in time.  Fifteen years.
I remember that morning so clearly... waking and feeling my water break.  The relief and giddy laughter, along with packing my bag, that followed.  The trek to the hospital and knowing that this was it.  The pregnancy that almost broke me was ending and my new adventure was just around the bend.

I believe it was all His plan... the tough months of preparation, the early labor... and all of the hope and joy and life that He bundled in this small boy.  While Laura made me a mother, Camden made me more.  For both of them.  I was not unafraid... but when my heart quaked, God stilled it. His sweet smile, full nights of rest, the warmth of his small self... and the laughter that bubbled out of him at the most unlikely moments.

And now he is fifteen.  Fifteen
He is as much a joy to me today as he was then.  Maybe... even more so... as I see this beautiful boy becoming the most generous man.  My heart of thankfulness is certainly overflowing.   And when this mother's heart quakes, I recall how he has taught me to love completely, fight for what is right and laugh with my whole self.  And I am still. 

To my beautiful (um, handsome.  I mean cool.  Or awesome) son... happy birthday.  I love you.

December 23, 2011

a christmas wish

The world is weary... from the rush of Christmas or the weight of life... and quite possibly both.  The lamp posts are decked with greens, the airwaves are singing the tunes and homes are strung with twinkling lights... and still, I feel like I must sift through it all to find Christmas. 

And under the mess... there it is, shining bright with hope.
In the stacks of shoeboxes, in the overflowing toy drive bins.

In the lay-away angel stories, the leaving of secret gifts and in the hearts of friends.
In the scrawl of a small, sweet girl...

And always, always... in the manger.

My Christmas wish for you... is to feel the presence of that tiny baby, and all it means to your life.  For you to feel His love deep in your soul... and pass it on.  Because no matter what is under the tree, we already have all we need in Him.
Merry Christmas... with love.

December 21, 2011

a new decade

The lights are still strung across the backyard, and while traces of the fiesta remain here and there, the cake is but a memory.  Hello forty, here I am.  The neighbor was kind enough to say that he would have thought thirty... and though I smiled graciously, I am owning forty.  What else can you do, really, when your daughter is just weeks away from eighteen?   I would not trade a smile or laugh line for all the world... and even the worries that have etched their marks, have contributed to who I am now.  Lessons and laughter and living... I will bring them along into this next decade of me.  Yes, I will own forty... because as it has been said, it is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.

December 20, 2011

i love to hear the story

The choir sang... and the little ones told the story, with a little help from the big ones.
They were dressed in their Christmas finery... feathery angel wings, halos spun with tinsel, gowns & robes tied with cord belts... that, at times, doubled as lassos.  Joseph strayed, shepherds ran laps, and the angels were restless.  And somehow, it was perfect.

It is the story that is made sweeter in its imperfection... whether in Bethlehem, an old school cafeteria or a new shiny church.  The story that is told again and again, and still makes me cry because... it is my story, too.  One that breathes hope and love... and promises gifts beyond our imagination.  It is the story that brings our hearts back to the humble stable... where Love was born.  And if you can't lie down next to the manger, where can you rest?

December 15, 2011

how do they know?

I do not have a green thumb... but somehow, in spite of me, the poinsettia we planted in the yard last winter has flourished.  Grown to at least twice what it was, and the leaves cannot be told from the blooms, all alive in the prettiest shades of green.  My thumbs are envious. 

Making my way out the door, those leaves stopped me in my tracks.  The greens have deepened, the veins have darkened and the leaves are becoming... red.  Just in time for Christmas.   How do they know?

This is Florida, where the December days stretch to balmy 80s, so I argue against the change in season... and I marvel at what has to be the truth.  Like deer donning dark winter coats, or beaver preparing their homes for a long winter... or an abundant harvest of acorns that appear after a year of few... those leaves just know

Green leaves turning red... not yellow or blue, neighbors on the color wheel.  Red is a leap for green, but what is impossible with God? Certainly not a Christmas miracle.  He breathes His command into the air and it is so.  His breath sweeps through the branches, sails down a river... speaks a message to the soil.  He shows us His love in big ways, through small things.  Like a scarlet poinsettia... at Christmas.

How do they know?  My mind turns to singing... Does he love me? I wanna know!  How can I tell if he loves me so? ... If you wanna know if he loves you so, its in his kiss!  And my mind's eye sees Him... sending His love into the world, blowing a kiss on the wind, after His Son.  Breathe for life.  Jesus air. 
There is no doubt...  He loves us so

December 13, 2011

sand in my toes, rain in my hair

There was no question about giving up a few hours on Sunday, I would have given her the whole Sunday... the whole week if she had asked.  The questions were in the sky.  What time was sunset?  Would the chance of showers turn into a rainy mess?  Would the dark clouds loom too close?  As the afternoon ticked on, I wondered if we would see the sun at all.  Making our way to the beach, I prayed to the God of impossible things...  please God... hold back the rain.  I knew Ann was praying the same.

It began as we stepped off the boardwalk and into the sand.  Umbrellas up, towels out... and we stood beneath the seagrapes, trying to stay dry.  Praying. Checking the radar.  Laughing. Praying some more, with faith unwavering.  And at last... God parted the clouds.

I wanted to take the pictures of a lifetime, not to say that I did, but just for her and her family.  Because they just might be the pictures of her lifetime.  The camera clicked for twenty minutes and their little family snuggled in laughing and smiling while I did my best to document the love that shone around them. Deep down my heart knew that no matter what, the photos would be a gift.  To her now.  For them... down the road.

The rain returned... and hoping that we had plenty of good shots, we trekked back to the car.  Evidence of waves wrapped 'round my knees, and my hair was soaked with rain.  To add insult to injury, I hit the wrong button at the shower, and expecting the sand to be washed from my toes, a blast of icy water hit my head.  And then... they offered dinner.  I wanted to say yes! But could I put this vanity aside?  Through a smile my insides hemmed. and hawed.  But how could I say no, knowing that every moment is precious? So I did the best I could with the only comb I could find {those little picks on the ends of a toy tiara} and I vowed to put a hairbrush in the car for next time.  And though I walked into that restaraunt almost dripping wet, I was smiling, thankful to have grabbed the moment. 


: :


Some gifts sit lonely waiting to be recognized.  Some have a time limit. 
That she would ask me to take these pictures, that she would let me.  The beautiful is her... my dear, sweet friend who is fighting for life.  The messy is me... praying for the impossible, and fighting back the tears on any given day.  I teach myself to seek.  And I try not to let myself get in the way.  Because all we really have is right now.  The mess will likely never end... so I might as well splash in it. 

Unwrapping life, a most precious gift, on a Tuesday...

December 07, 2011

night lights

I am a New England girl, heart and soul. 
I long for the crisp chill of winter, and I dream of white Christmases.  But life and God's plan has me planted in the warmth of Florida...

And nights like this... tell me I am right where I belong.

December 06, 2011

the right now

He stretched out on the couch, long and lean, while I sat hovering.
Does the heat help?  Is is too hot?  Do you need another blanket?
It seems years have passed since the last time he needed me in the middle of the night.  Many years.  But ears have a way of crying out in the wee small hours.  He winces through the pain, and my whole mama-self wants to haul him up in my arms and hold him close while I whisper away the pain.  But that inch he has grown past me makes it all but impossible.  I settle for the hovering... the reheating of the bean-bag, the spreading of another blanket, the watching, the waiting. 

Each age, each phase they tumble through, each moment in time... is scattered with gifts, even if they are occsionally scattered in the rubble.  I wonder what I would give for the chance to turn back the page and hold my little boy, full in my arms, just once more.  The vision slinks in with a warm love glow... and for a minute, all seems worth it.  And then clarity comes about and I realize how good it is right now. No trade would suffice... right now needs to be the victor.  Right now, perched on the edge of big dreams, with its independence and sense of humor and never-ending list of things that make a mama smile. 

I hear his even breathing, place a kiss on his forehead... and I whisper a thank you to the Creator of what was, what is and what will be. 

: :
A week flies by and it is Tuesday again... a Tuesday with gifts to unwrap.  The gifts are not always beautiful at first glance, but when I seek with grace-colored-glasses, I find the beauty that was longing to be found.  Last week Emily urged to "Begin with the gifts at your feet and see where they take you."  Thank you, Emily.  They have taken me on a journey and back.

December 02, 2011

there is peace

He has always been the fun dad.  You know the one.  You look around at the party, and after seeking high, you find him low... in the midst of a crowd of little ones.  If there is a pool, he is the one tossing them higher than they should fly.  And if there is a blazing camp fire, there he sits, enthralling them with tales of the Headless Orange-Picker (you many not have heard of him, he is an original.)  So it wasn't a big surprise to me when he headed out, with the guys, to a kids tree house in a friend's backyard. 

I almost shouted a warning, then didn't.
As he walked up the slide, second thoughts popped into his head, then out again.
Our friend was supposed to ride the zip-line next, but let Eric cut in front of him.

Even as he was lying there in the pine needles, I knew this was part of the plan.  There was pain, yes... but his toes were moving.  He gasped for breath, but spoke through the lack of it.  Even as he was lying there, waiting for the ambulance, I could feel His Grace... and I thanked Him for it.  There was a peace that passed all understanding

I probably could've driven myself behind the ambulance... but friends don't let friends drive in a state of the unknown.  Nor do they let you wait, alone, in the emergency room on a Saturday night.
to be continued...

December 01, 2011

counting on christmas

Chilly morning, hot coffee... and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.  December

My advent wreath has been on the table all week, candles standing {kinda} tall... but today we begin the count... to Christmas.  Twenty-four days. So many years ago, those twenty-four days took  forever to pass, but now I know these days will hardly be enough. They will pass far too quickly.  I only hope that I can make the most of the hours... that I can bring my heart right along side Love.

We will mark the days by opening little doors... finding tiny treasures.  At just-about-fifteen and almost-eighteen I wonder if they still really love it, but I cannot bear the thought of not. So it is Legos for him and "industrial chic" charms for her.  It seemed like a good idea, and then too extragavant... but how many more seasons do I really have to do this? {this morning their faces list up with JOY!}

And as day is done... I hope to gather around the table in the shimmer of candle-light.  Each night one step closer to Bethlehem.  Oh this is the story that my heart loves.  The dusty road, the sweet-smelling hay, and the bright shining star... each a piece that brings us closer to Love. 
The story that is the beginning of my saving...

Yes, I'm counting on Christmas.