The other side of the fog

Sunday morning Word

This morning I was studying the story of Joseph from his coat of many colors and the telling of his prophetic dreams, to the jealous brothers casting him into a pit, and then selling him into slavery.  But all along God had a plan and He positioned Joseph to save Egypt and Canaan from famine.  A good outcome didn’t look possible to the human eye, guided by the flesh.

I was reminded of one of my recent trips to Miami to be supportive to my youngest daughter and visit my almost 8 month old granddaughter, struggling with an infection in her lungs.  Since her diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, she has fought and won many battles in the short time she has been around to bless us.  I attribute this to many prayers.

On the particular morning, the fog was thick and blanketed everything for miles.  My travelling progress was impeded as I slowly navigated my way through the unknown.  Visibility was limited, and I found myself a little nervous because I couldn’t see the cars coming toward me from miles away and I was unsure of what was creeping up behind me until the headlights broke through the fog.  I found myself focusing on the fog and its dangers, ready for the sun to break through and begin to burn it all away.

I felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit as I realized that once again, God was trying to teach me something.  You know, if we slow down and pay attention long enough, we can hear that still small voice.

Such is life.  In this journey through the vast unknowns with Cali, I know that on the other side of it, there is clarity.  I cannot begin to figure it all out now, to predict what is coming or to visualize the hidden hazards along the way.  I can apply this to so many situations in life; those where I can barely navigate on a daily basis, much less discern the outcome.

But, this I do know; on the other side of the fog, there is a Son and He always burns for me.  His will may not be understandable at times, the outcome may not always make sense to me, but I will continue to live in the knowledge that He wants the best for me.  In the midst of a broken, fallen world, He is my hope, my strength and my refuge.

Remember, it was never God’s intention that we live in a broken, fallen world that is filled with sin and hurt and hate.  And, He loved us enough to send His Son, to give us a chance at redemption, restoration and an eternal life, a life much more important than the short one we will live out on this earth.

Just give me my binky


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We sat there in the dark watching her fight sleep, contorting her little face every which way trying to hold on to her binky when it threatens to fall.  A binky is otherwise known as a pacifier for those of you who may not have heard it referred to that way.  She loves that thing.  I’ve heard folks voice their opinions on them both pro and con and have probably stated my own in the past and likely in a negative way to some poor new parent.  This is something else I have learned; don’t judge the child still sucking a binky or maybe still wearing diapers.  I don’t know their journey.

13912343_280314879008026_5289825603233603215_nCali will be 5 months old on the 13th of this month and all she knows up until now is the inside of a room without outside windows.  It is mostly white and very sterile.  Thankfully, we can dress up the crib a bit and bring some toys in, but it’s just not home.  We can’t roll around in the floor or fall asleep with her nestled on our chest.  We have to wear yellow gowns to hold her and she is still attached to several lines or tubes.

I try to imagine her discharge day and the way her little eyes will behold so much newness in one day.  She will leave the room she has grown up in thus far, see sunlight, ride in a car, see her own home and sleep in a new bed.  As anxious as I am for all of this to occur, my heart goes out to these little ones making these big adjustments.   They are used to the whiteness, the machines, the beeping and blinking and the cries of other little ones.  Maybe I’m just emotional because this is my little granddaughter, but it’s something I have never once thought about until now.

I am determined to learn from this experience, resolved to be a better person because of it, and adamant about increasing in compassion and empathy for others.  This brings to mind the verse in Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

We should be able to empathize with the weaknesses of others and consider their voyage through this life and the ups and downs and tests and turmoil.  Maybe I’m being too transparent when I admit how blind to the predicaments of others I have been in the past.  Perhaps some of you will think less of me because of it.  But, when I decided to have a blog, I always intended to openly share experiences, always hoping my stories would help shed light on someone else’s path.

I am sincerely grateful to God for every opportunity I get to show love and compassion to someone else, even though I still often fail Him.  I still fail in recognizing needs or simply stay too busy to do all that I would like to.  You know, part of loving others starts with really listening, taking time enough to know a need exists.  We are a busy people and we have to make a point to slow down and be attentive, even in our own families.

PS – Cali is doing much better.  They removed her PICC line this week.  Her bottle feeding has increased greatly as tube feeding has decreased.  She is up to 8 lbs 1 oz and if she continues to do well on feeds and continues to gain weight, our discharge date will be closer 🙂

Related articles:  When life throws a curve ball and Cali; the gift that keeps on giving

 

Forward progress

13511042_10154214939926763_6505748762857644676_nWas the game called Sorry where you move game piece forward or back based on where you land?  The other day my daughter said, “Two steps forward and ten steps back” and I visualized that game.  She was referring to her baby’s progress this week after three months in the NICU.  She was frustrated, exhausted both physically and mentally and was exaggerating just a tad.  It would have been easy for me to say something trite like, “Well, it could be worse”, or “All in good time”, but I knew it was better to just stay silent and try to rub the knot out of her neck.  I know my daughter and her patience level was waxing thin on that particular day.

I have learned that sometimes it is just better to say nothing.  I should say that I am learning this, because I certainly haven’t mastered it.  I have an entire library of “go to” clichés that are completely useless or even irritating in situations that I fail miserably at recognizing on occasion.  Sometimes a smile or a hug or just your being there does more to ease the angst of the weary than a thousand words could ever do.  Often, just listening is all that is needed; we don’t always have to feel compelled to “fix” things.  This is hard for me, I will admit.  I want to give advice, answers, help resolve and implement ideas!  But, as I said, I am learning.

I don’t have the time or inclination to delve into the multitude of issues that I’ve been faced with in the last few months.  However, suffice it to say that I understand being too tired to talk or too mentally exhausted to answer a simple question without emotions turning into teardrops.  With that said, I know in whom I trust and I can approach my trials and tribulations without fear and with faith.  This doesn’t mean I won’t get bone tired sometimes and need to seek a quiet peaceful place to re-fresh myself for the next battle.  (Yes, there will be more this side of heaven.)

What always compels me though to think I have to have an answer or suggestion for every tough situation I see others going through?   I don’t know.  Most of the time, I truly believe it’s that I really do want to help and soothe someone’s heart and I’m just not always sure of how best to accomplish that.   I do know that I had NO idea what people were going through when they spent months at a hospital with their child until our precious Cali was born.

Sheepishly, I think back at how silly or even heartless some of my pre-Cali comments must have sounded to others.   The thing is, we really do not know what anyone is going through unless we have walked in those same shoes and even then, experiences still vary from person to person even in the same scenario.

It amazes me that even in the tough times; God teaches us if we let Him.  As we go through pain, if we follow His lead, we can grow in the midst of it.  We can come out on the other side with a better understanding of mercy, with more empathy.

The other day as we pulled into the hospital park lot, my daughter (who still needs to learn patience) was complaining about the SUV in front of us.  She was anxious to get up to the 2nd floor and love on her baby, and this car was too slow, and in the way.  She spouted off something negative and I found myself right smack dab in the middle of a teaching moment.  I gently reminded her that the person in the car could be arriving at the hospital for the first time with a sick child, or leaving alone, never to bring theirs home.   She got my point and I have noticed her growing in grace through all of this.

So, have patience with me and I will try to have more patience with you.  Forgive me when I say all the wrong things or end up doing nothing because I didn’t know what to do.  As for me, I pray to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt, to recognize that their day might be going worse than mine and to try not to offer up trite, commonplace sentiments when a hug or a prayer might serve them better.

Daily Prompt: Journey

Here’s a quick poem for today’s prompt….Journey

corduroy

Journey

I’m going on a journey

Don’t be surprised to see me smile

Please don’t try to bring me back

I’ll be gone a little while

 

I’ll back up from today

To a time when they were small

I’ll put years in reverse

Like they never passed at all

 

I’ll enjoy the chubby fists

And little chins covered with goo

The bumbling first steps

And baths and bedtimes too

 

The sleepless nights year after year

For one reason or another

From leaking diapers to broken hearts

Mom helped them to recover

 

This worn and yellowed photo album

Is bursting at the seams

It overflows with memories

Of their accomplishments and dreams

 

Yes, I’ve reminisced a while

So I’ll journey homeward very soon

Oops, I’ve been distracted now

With Corduroy and Goodnight Moon

When life throws a curve ball

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It has been over a month since I’ve shared anything I have written and when I saw today’s prompt, “Curve”, I knew it was time.

When life throws a curve ball, we can back away in fear, freeze up and hope it flies by quickly with no pain, or we can plant our feet firmly, bend those knees and get ready to knock it out of the park.  I am certainly no baseball expert, but you get my point.

With that said, let’s back up to the end of March when my youngest daughter’s pregnancy was going along smoothly.   We had big plans for purchasing must have items, getting the baby room ready; you know… the normal things you do at this part of the journey.

Early April, she went for an ultrasound that indicated a problem with baby’s tummy, so she went to a specialist and found out she would likely be having a planned C-section and her baby would be having surgery to correct whatever the “bowel problem” was.  The goal was to have her reach at least 36-38 weeks.   This was our first curve ball and we all braced ourselves, thanked God that it wasn’t anything worse and re-evaluated plans.

As her little belly grew substantially due to the increase in amniotic fluid, she looked as though she would burst, and that she did at 32 weeks.  Well, I guess burst is a strong word but I got a call in the wee hours of April 13th, where her calm voice said, “Mom, my water broke, I guess we should go to the hospital”.   Second curve ball here, and I was a little concerned because the specialist had just said the day before, “What we don’t want to happen is for her water to break and cause a placental abruption (tearing placenta away from uterus), as this will cause more complications”.   Need I tell you exactly what happened?

Little Cali was born sporting a distended little belly not even an hour after arriving at the hospital via an emergency cesarean.  Hours later, I stood with friends and family and watched a helicopter lift off taking her to Miami Children’s Hospital as my daughter, having lost 4 units of blood, was receiving transfusions and already lamenting being apart from her firstborn.   The following day Cali had surgery and we breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God again when we received the news that she had done great.

Our daughter was having issues getting blood pressure down although she had never had a moment’s trouble with it before, more blood was needed and no one could see Cali except her mom or her dad.  There were times when I felt like I was on a spinning ride at the fair, nauseous and needing to get off, but there was no end in sight.  However, most of the time, I felt peace; wonderful, beautiful peace.

You see, I believe the entire bible and I know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  I know that God has a plan, whether I can see it or understand it and I have faith that He will be with me through the storms of life.  He has been for years.  Specific storms may cease, but storms in general will continue to show up in this life.  We all anxiously await a time when everything is comfy, cozy and peaceful forevermore and that won’t happen this side of heaven.  The sooner we realize that and come to terms with it; we will stop waiting for tomorrow and live in the present.

With God on my side, I can brace up against the storms of life, knowing I have an advocate.  Don’t bother questioning me about His faithfulness because I am a lifelong fan.  With Him on my side, I can face any curve ball that life throws me with the confidence that He will never leave me or forsake me.  Like my favorite song says, “Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm”.

We have felt the love and hand of God in so many ways in the past few weeks.  We felt it as we held hands with our loyal and faithful Pastor as she led us in prayer, we felt it in the love expressed by family, friends and community, we felt it when doctors used the word “miracle”.  We have received monetary donations, cards, gifts, phone calls, messages, fundraisers lovingly set up by friends, hotel bookings, decals for our cars, flowers, food, house cleaning, baby crib and room finishing and most importantly lots of prayers!  I have probably forgotten something and if I have, I ask for mercy.  The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and our families will never forget it.

So, batter up – face that pitch – Thank you for your prayers for our baby Cali.  She is doing very well and we are trusting God for His will.

 

The pitcher has got only a ball. I’ve got a bat. So the percentage of weapons is in my favor and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting.

— Hank Aaron

Mom or Mother?

Rose

As the day we celebrate Mother’s Day draws nearer, I can’t help but think about mine even more than normal.  My mother was the epitome of the mother deserving of all the accolades the holiday encourages.  Everywhere you look this time of year there are advertisements for the perfect gift or card or dinner; many choices to bestow them honor.

We actually called my mom “mother” until we were in our teenage years.  As we grew older and I think due to the influence of our friends, we slowly, carefully tested out “mom” and eventually made the switch.  I say slowly and carefully because my dad didn’t like the term “mom”; he thought “mother” was far more respectful.

Today I was remember how all of our friends loved mom.  She always had a smile, a kind word and a way of making them feel special.  She was very discerning and could quickly tell if someone was going through something and needed a hug.  She was always compassionate and loving, but they also knew she didn’t put up with any shenanigans and showed her the utmost respect.

On a fall day, if we had friends over to play football in the yard full of crunchy leaves, she was inside making a big pot of chili and brownies, enough for all to share.  On a trip to the mall, our car was busting at the hinges with teenagers who weren’t the least bit ashamed to hang out with “Mom Goff” which is what most of them called her.  I still have one of her old scrapbooks and it is full of pictures, cards and even poems that our friends gave to her through the years.  The expressions of their love continue past high school, as some kept in touch with her long after they’d lost touch with us.

How I would love the chance to honor her on this Mother’s Day now that I am older and fully understand how truly blessed I was.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew it then; we all did, but she died when I was a mere 30 years old, pregnant with my 2nd child.  In the years since, my girls have grown up and moved out and away to begin their own adult lives and I am Nana to a precious five year old.  I know so much more than I did then about the joy and yes, even the pain of motherhood.

I know more of how she felt at graduations, weddings, the birth of a grandchild.  I know more about the sacrifice, the beauty, the love and the heartaches that every mom partakes of.  I’ve walked in similar shoes, I guess you could say.  I now understand that from the moment you birth that child, they own a piece of your heart.  Because of that, you feel not only their joy, but their pain for a lifetime.

Motherhood is worthy of honor; it is a lifetime calling.  You can’t quit, take a break, walk away and find yourself or turn off your emotions when you feel like they might pull you under.  You are in it for life!  For those of you who might be saying, some aren’t worthy of the praises you offer; some abandon, some mistreat.  You are right, and I sincerely offer my heartfelt sadness and regret for those who can’t celebrate their childhood.  However, those can begin a new chapter and leave a better legacy and those of us who know how, can help them.  Women everywhere should try to help fill those voids in children who have broken hearts and low expectations with love and understanding.

And for those of you who still have your mother, whether you call her mom, mother, madre, or mamma, I would encourage you to spend time with her!  Cherish every moment because I can assure you, you will be glad you did when she is gone.

I am glad my mom knew how deeply her children loved her and I am beyond grateful for the 30 years I had her in my life.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story

It was a warm, sunshine kissed day in south Florida and I was especially happy as I was surrounded by my children and my granddaughter.  I snapped this photo when my husband had waded out to get something from the boat.  My granddaughter couldn’t decide what she thought about that.  She wanted Papa to come back to shore with the rest of us.

Don't leave me!

Don’t leave me!

Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialogue

Poppy and Granny with Ashley (my youngest)

Poppy and Granny with Ashley (my youngest)

“Lee-see-o, Where are you?” I could hear my grandmothers voice growing louder the closer I got to her back porch.  Granny, complete with silver bun and glasses, was easygoing and lenient, but when dusk fell it was time to go inside.

 “Coming, Gran”, I would yell back as I begin to say my goodbyes as my friends also turned homeward.

Inside?  Already?  After all there were more cartwheels and handsprings to be attempted, games of tag left un-played and more stories to hear and to tell.  Who wanted to go inside with two old people who didn’t own a television?

Well, I did.  I could spin a yarn about how I hung my shoulders down and stuck my bottom lip out and lamented my horrible fate.  But, it’s just not true. 

I remember it more like this.

“Hey Granny!” I would say with a big grin spreading across my dirt-stained face.  “Hey, doll baby, what did you get yourself into?  Come on inside and let’s get you washed up”.

Poppy would be in his favorite chair, reading the newspaper, relaxing after his day as a fishing guide and tending to his garden when he got home.  He didn’t talk as much as granny did, so all I would hear from him for a while was likely to be the rustling sound, as he turned the pages of his paper.

All clean and in my pj’s or jammies as we liked to call them, I would come back into the living room and Poppy would make some funny comment.  He loved to tease his grandkids. 

“Granny made chocolate pie”, I would her say in a sing-song voice from the little kitchen.  She would cut me a hearty slice and we would begin to talk about my day.  Granny always listened more like another kid instead of an adult.  She looked at me, right in the eye, when I was speaking and she didn’t interrupt.  She listened with seemingly rapt attention to every detail. 

Of course, I didn’t realize as a child, how much adults can glean from our ramblings if they just pay attention.  Yes, as I shared my heart, Granny was listening because she loved me, and also so she knew how to pray for me and others.  When I reached my tumultuous teen years, I sometimes resented that she actually had a use for my freely given information, but her motives were always for my good.

Poppy, already having enjoyed his pie right after supper, would get up and give me a hug and a kiss goodnight to meet his early bedtime.  As silly as it sounds, I can still feel the roughness of his cheek and smell that sweet, distinct smell of Poppy.

Oh what I would give to spend one more quiet, pie partaking, newspaper rustling evening with them.  I crave the quiet, the conversation uninterrupted by various electronic devices, sharing the Sunday funnies, the hot tea mornings with toast and jelly.

Poppy is gone now and Granny’s mind isn’t what it used to be, but I treasure all the time I spent with them and the memories that seem like yesterday.  I was blessed to have them and I pray that one day my grandchildren look back at time spent with me and my husband with as much fondness.

 

Daily Prompt: Regrets, I’ve had a few

Thursday night

What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?

This prompt spoke to me in a big way this morning, causing me to reflect on my life thus far. I can’t say that I have one regret in particular and since I believe all things happen for a reason, I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be today.

With that said, I have many regrets:

• The times I withheld forgiveness instead of forgiving freely and quickly and completely.
• The times I chose to clean house instead of making mud pies.
• Every minute I spent in the mirror criticizing my appearance, and especially the times in front of my girls.
• For the careless word spoken that wounded, sometimes deeply.
• The conversations I merely endured that should have been feasted upon.
• The years I spent running from God.
• The “I love you” left unspoken and the phone calls never made.
• Every hour wasted on hatred, jealousy, anger and strife.

And finally, the time I have spent dwelling on past regrets instead of choosing to leap past them, learn from them and strive to live out the remainder of this life with fewer of them.

This was a great writing prompt and it’s good to force yourself to think back sometimes and glean from past mistakes, to remember where you came from and who you have become. Of most importance though is to move forward and live this beautiful life out loud, with great expectations, faith and hope. May we all fully implement the lessons learned that they never influence our lives negatively again.

Sniffing crayons

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured ...

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured in Easton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I walk into Walmart and veer over toward the aisles with signs advertising “back to school” sales, I realize, I want school supplies.  I always do at this time of year.  Call me crazy, but I love paper products and I feel like I’m missing out on something.

It’s like a new season; a fresh start to a new year of learning, meeting new people and new teachers and a year to be a better student and classmate.  That is how I always viewed it anyway.

I can smell the crayons and recall the careful searching for just the right box.  In kindergarten, there were the chubby crayons available in limited colors, for little fingers not yet aware of their strength.  Next was the bigger box sporting a few more colors and finally, you graduated to the big box, the one with the sharpener embedded in the back (I remember sharpening them down so small that my mom would tell me I wasn’t going to have anything left to color with).  When you got to these, you’d hit the mother lode of crayons.  The crayon eaters (there was one in every class) seemed especially drawn to these large colorful boxes.

Back when I was in elementary, picking out the wooden (cigar box) or tin crayon box was one of the most painstaking decisions to be made and I will venture to say many mothers must have lost their patience with children like me.

Browsing through the back to school aisles now, although still nostalgic, is not quite so familiar anymore.  I don’t recognize the super heroes and the cartoon-like images look more ghoulish or scary to me than Scooby doo or Superman.  There is also a shelf full of calculators.  My girls had to have these for math class.  I was always taught that I took math for those times when I didn’t have one of these and had to think for myself.  Oh well, math was my least favorite subject and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to use it often.

I still love the paper aisle.  I just see page after page I can fill.  I am compelled to pick up a couple of cute notebooks for myself so I don’t feel completely left out.  I get a green one and a pink one sporting cute little owls.  This takes me back to Mrs. Green’s class where we wrote for the first 10 minutes of class, honing our writing skills.  There are fond memories there.

Strolling past the pencils conjures up memories of students sharpening pencils when the sharpener hung from the wall.  The kids who couldn’t sit still wanted to sharpen all 24 of theirs every day.  If I were a teacher, that would have got on my last nerve.  I remember the smell of lead and wood shavings to this day.  Then there was the poor boy that leaned too far back in his chair and fell on his pencil, lodging it in his derriere, and requiring medical attention.  We all thought he’d be dead by morning, as our parents had constantly warned us about the dire consequences of lead in our mouths or in our bloodstream.

Then, I see the lunch boxes.  I was never one of the children who used one, but always thought it would be cool.  I suffered though cafeteria food until high school and then we overloaded cars and trucks and went to McDonalds.

In all honesty, I enjoyed school and can summon all kinds of great memories from my time as a student.  Those days are long gone for me and even for my children, but I don’t think an August will ever go by without me waxing nostalgic over school supplies.

I think maybe I’ll go and buy myself a new outfit and some shoes too, in keeping with the spirit of things.

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