Monday, May 26, 2014

Quiet Spaces

 My father in law and Samuel, 2003

The past couple of weeks have been very hard for my family. My father in law became gravely ill, spent six days in Intensive Care and eventually was moved to hospice in his hometown. Four days later, he passed away. The world lost a precious, kind man that day.

As we sat at his bedside each day, there were little noises – beeping machines, the hum of computer screens and the buzzing of motorized beds up and down the hall – but the thing I noticed most was the quiet. There were these grand spaces in time where the room was almost silent. While I sat watching him breathe, I would pray a lot. God kept giving me the notion of recognizing these “quiet spaces”. I was not sure what a “quiet space” was, but over and over that phrase came to mind.

As the time wore on, spending so much time in a hospital chair and on the road, I relished finding those quiet spaces. Part of the time it was because it was an escape. I didn’t have to talk about what was going on or explain hard things to my children or do anything at all in those quiet spaces. The quiet spaces meant rest, reflection, remembering and solitude. And sometimes, those things are exactly what you need. But sometimes those quiet spaces were totally focused. Perhaps the greatest gift in those moments is prayer. Not the “Lord please give me…” prayers that we all seem to know so well, but the whispered pleas for forgiveness, strength, peace and hope. Those two or three word prayers that seem to leak from your lips as your heart strains for peace are more powerful than a whole choir singing Jesus Loves Me.

We were surrounded by friends and family, both in person and from far away, texting or emailing, calling or visiting, letting us know they loved us. We were covered in prayers constantly throughout the whole ordeal. I think, in times like these, those prayers are what keep you afloat. My precious husband has been so far beyond exhausted that it has been painful to watch him get up and keep going in all this. On the morning that he drove over to make the funeral arrangements, I offered to go with him, but he said no. He needed that quiet space to think, grieve, pray and probably to drive down fifty little country backroads in search of more quiet spaces.

You may not be facing the loss of a loved one today, but I think we all need more quiet spaces in our lives. Seek yours out, set up camp for a while, and live there each day. I suspect you will find a lot more than silence in your quiet spaces.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So many things...

Get ready.  This one's gonna be all over the place.

*I have 19 days of school left.  The kids have a few less than that.  It's almost summer!!  I do NOT look forward to the crazy insane summer temps and 99.9% humidity, but boy I am ready for a break and lots of time with my silly kids.

*Speaking of silly kids, THIS is what I got from them for Mother's Day today.  The front of the envelope looked like this. You may have to click the pic and look at the bigger version to read Sarah's funny cartoon about how I should respond when I get the card from her.

I opened the funny envelope and found this card.  This is the front.

And the inside.

But the best part of the whole thing was this note inside from Savannah (whom we have nicknamed Nana since she was about 2 years old.  Long story.)

It made me laugh so much!  First of all, Savannah admitted that she felt funny buying a card with the word "ass" on the front.  That tickles me.  How many 12th graders do you know who have trouble with that word?  And secondly, I died laughing when I read her note inside.  Clearly her daddy did not see the card at all before he signed the front of the envelope.  LOL!

*My brain can hardly contain the fact that my oldest child is going to cross the stage as a graduate in 20 days.  Good gravy, it's all gone by way too fast.  I know it's just high school graduation, but this is big!  Milestones make us mamas pretty emotional.

These are her graduation announcements, with ever so delicately blacked out personal info!  Internet safety friends!



*One of my dear friends lost her mom yesterday to cancer.  Her dad died just under 3 months ago.  My heart breaks for her.  Love you, Terry!

*My son says "It's not my fault" way too often.  I told him today that I might stab him with my fork if he repeated it one more time.  Don't worry.  He knows I'm kidding.  Sort of.

*Speaking of Samuel, he will be a freshman in high school this year.  When he began signing up for classes a couple of weeks ago, he came home disappointed that he'd have to skip being in athletics and playing football.  When I asked why (this was something he had really looked forward to!) he said that because he wasn't in football this year, he couldn't be in it next year...or the three years after that!  You see, in 7th grade, he was in athletics and played football.  When 8th grade class scheduling rolled around, he was told that you don't HAVE TO have a PE credit for 8th grade, so he still put it on his schedule, but as an alternate choice.  He really didn't understand that putting it down as an alternate meant that the school would strive to give him one of his other choices first.  He was thinking of "alternate" as being one of his elective class choices.  When we got his 8th grade class schedule this past Fall and athletics/football was not on it, we had no idea that would mean he COULD NOT play football in 9th-12th grades!  Lots of phone calls and emails later, we got the dilemma fixed.  The head coach for the high school sent us to speak with the head coach at the junior high who had a long talk with Sam about grades and rules and commitments and athletic safety, etc.  Once he was comfortable with it, he signed off for Sam to be in athletics in high school!  Glory hallelujah!  For a kid who is not a big fan of school in general, having something to look forward when he gets there sure helps!! This summer he will attend a Training Camp for six weeks at the beginning of the summer and then will begin 2-a-days in early August to prepare for football in the Fall.  It's going to be a super-full summer for Sam, but it will keep him busy and keep him active---and those are both good things!

*This morning we took this picture before we left for church.  I'm so grateful for these three, even in those crazy moments that make me understand why some species eat their young.  Three teenagers in one house isn't always easy, but I am blessed with three really good, healthy kids!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Nearing the finish line!

I write a column for our local newspaper.  Tonight I wrote this about Savannah's upcoming graduation.  If you are local & read my column, you will see this coming up this week, but here's the blog-safe version.  (with some info deleted for online safety!)

"I’ve been saying it for years. It seems like big milestones sneak up on you when you are busy raising children. People say ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’, but I think the saying is multiplied by about a million when you’re having fun with your kids. I know this comes as no surprise to other parents, but it all passes so quickly.

Last year when my oldest daughter finished eleventh grade, I cried. Finishing her junior year meant that she would be a senior when she returned to school in the fall. When the postcard arrived in the mail with her senior picture appointment time at the (local photo place) studio, I cried again. Taking these pictures for the yearbook made it very real; there was no doubt about her starting her senior year of high school when she posed with big foam numbers that said 2014. When August rolled around and she began her year of ‘lasts’, I cried again and again. The last summer band practices, the last first day of school, the last homecoming, the last time she marched onto the field at (our school's) stadium, the last Christmas break…all the sudden things that were no big deal before became opportunities for me to well up and turn into a big sappy mess. I’ve always been a crier, but this senior year business certainly brings it out in a mama! The Kleenex company has made big bucks off of me this year.

Last week, Savannah’s graduation announcements came in the mail. Friday, she brought home a plastic-wrapped mortar board, tassel and graduation gown. We took it out of the package to hang up the gown and it happened. As I watched her try it on and there she was: my seven and a half pound baby girl, my hard headed toddler, my tiny pink glasses-wearing kindergartener, my smart little elementary student and my independent middle schooler. I saw my beautiful high school freshman and my brilliant UIL competitor, my creative newspaper editor and artist. I remembered diapers and bottles, tricycles and training wheels, mud puddles and swing sets. I thought of novels and drawings, favorite cartoons and movies, late night essays, science projects and a million college applications. I watched her twirl in the gown and giggle at the silly way the cap made her hair look. For a brief moment, I saw a graduate.

As I have spent the last year looking at her through eyes blurred with tears, I have been sad to see her grown up, on the brink of adulthood. But more than tears of sadness, I cry tears or pride. I could not be more proud of the young woman she has become. She is wise beyond her years, independent and responsible. She is smart and talented, beautiful inside and out. We get compliments all the time about what a great kid Savannah is, and I can’t help but point to God. Larry and I have realized over the years that, at least for us, our first child has been our guinea pig. We have figured out how to parent with our first and then have tweaked it with the other children. We have screwed up many times, but somehow, by the grace of God, our eldest is an amazing young woman.

In a couple of weeks, I will sit shoulder to shoulder with a community of families I have shared most of the past thirteen years with in the (school name) gym and watch as our collective children stand in their maroon gowns and shake the hands of our school officials and receive their diploma. I will clap and cheer when they call my daughter’s name, and I will risk dehydration as I wipe my eyes and  watch her begin a new chapter of her life as a grown up in this crazy world.  We love you, Savannah! Happy graduation!"